I told you that I would sometimes tune in on Sunday and so here I am.
This year I have decided to take on the Bible. Somehow I would like to involve my children although I haven’t figured out how yet. This morning, as I was reading, Deborah asked to sit on my lap so I read to her as I held her. We talked about how Adam cleaved unto his wife and what it means to cleave–to hug, to hold close, to cherish. “It’s kind of like what we are doing now,” I explained. She was completely on board with cleaving. She always has been. It’s kind of funny how children are just born knowing what they should be doing.
I’ve also decided to keep a little Bible journal. I think it’s good to read scriptures with a purpose. As I’m reading it, I’m wanting to know what the Bible teaches about families. How can I be a better wife? How can I be a better mother? How can I be a better sister and a daughter?
So here goes. The first verse of the Bible? “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
My footnotes in my scriptures say that in Hebrew, create also means shaped, fashioned, divine activity, organized, formed. Isn’t the interesting? That creation means organizing?
For years I have believed that the creative and the organized are at odds with each other. The artist can‘t be tied down to rules or systems or structures but must be allowed to be live in chaos. Boundaries cannot be formed. However, the insight in this verse has changed my thinking so much so that I asked an artist about it when I interviewed her for the Deseret News.
Me: In Genesis, when it talks about the Creation, “create” in Hebrew means to organize. And yet we see creative people and organized people on opposite ends of the spectrum. Is there a way that you have reconciled that as an organizer and a creator? How do you see that relationship?
Artist (Emily McPhie): It rings so true to me. The first time I heard that, I thought, “Oh, that makes more sense of what I do.” I definitely feel like I am more of an assembler than a creator. You know, I take scrap and paint from it. I take pictures or pull images out of magazines or off the Internet and I piece them together. There’s a lot of organization to it, and I feel more that I’m piecing things together as opposed to just creating straight out of my head. I don’t pick up a brush, dip it in paint and start going.”
So artists create order out of chaos. This revelation has been profound for me because I struggle with structure and with systems. Organizing often feels like drudgery while the idea of “creating” sounds like so much more fun.
But we as women are co-creators with our Heavenly Father. We bring children into this world and must organize a world for them with order, structure, and purpose. We organize a home and we create systems as well—chore systems, bedtime routines, and rules with consequences. We need flashes of inspiration as well as discipline to carry these out. (You can guess what part I’m better at).
Which is probably why I loved artist, Emily’s answer when I asked her how she found balance.
EM: That’s the million-dollar question. What I get asked most, “How are you a mom and an artist? How do you do it all?” and I want to say, “Do I do it all?” I wish I could say I did. No, it’s hard, it takes a lot of really hard work. You have to really, really want it, because it’s enough of a job to keep your house clean and your children fed. That’s full time. And to make room for art, you just have to have your house in order, none of this crazy artist who’s just free. That’s unreal. That’s unrealistic. You have to have your house in order. You have to have chore charts or whatever it is that you need today to get things back into balance, and it’s always changing; it’s always something else. Take your sketchbook with you while you take your children to dance lessons. You have to figure it out: How can I make this work?
I was just at a friend’s house for a church meeting and she has four beautiful baskets placed in front of her fireplace. Some of the baskets had books or small articles of clothing in them. I asked her what the baskets were for. She explained to me that each child had a basket. When she found things that belonged to one of her children, she put it in his basket. (And I’m not being gender neutral here. It’s always his when it comes to messes.) When the children came home from school, she asked each child to put away everything in his basket. My friend had created a system here—a system that invited both order and beauty into her home.
I want to strive to do more of this myself. So as I read about each creative period, I’m reading it with the idea that I am also a co-creator. What can the Lord teach me about creating a beautiful place for my family?
Have you read much of the Bible? Want to give it a go this year?
What systems have worked well in your home?