I used to make beautiful meals… before I learned the fine art of the chicken nugget. With a toddler and a baby brother, and a belly full of another, I stopped reading Bon Appetite Magazine. And the china took up semi-permanent residency in the closet down the hall.
The perennials along the border by the front door died, and with them so withered a little part of me. For I’ve always loved making things beautiful, until there was no time to make… anything. Except those chicken nuggets.
It was all bedlam.
Of course, there was plenty of beauty swaddled into our busy baby-powder scented days, but I was making memories for my children rather than making seasonal wreaths for our front door. Sending out group texts for playdates at the park, rather than hand-lettering invitations for a holiday party around my dining room table.
It was a different sort of beauty, indeed.
Half a decade and three little people later, I was ready to revisit some of those long buried beautiful parts of myself. At first it seemed impossible to fit my passions into the practical places of our family life, but I knew it was crucial. As I said, a part of me had withered, along with the plants that lined our little home.
So I did three things that, looking back now, were the stepping stones that let me out of the bedlam and back into the beauty of my uniquely delightful design.
- I told a friend about my dreams.
First and foremost, I told a friend about my dreams. Kelli Stuart and I had met shortly after we married our husbands. We were newlyweds together in Dallas, TX., and both of us wildly creative women! I remember our first Easter together. They came over after church and spent the day with us. The men went to the park across the street and played a game of basketball as Kelli and I completed our artfully prepared dinner. She had made the most intricately decorated cookies I’d ever seen, and I had hand-blown raw eggs, using the fragile shells as place cards.
A year later we were both on our way to being moms!
If anyone knew my deeply creative heart, it was Kelli, and yet, over the years, our conversations shifted away from recipes and decorating and the books we longed to write, to nursing babies, potty-training toddlers, and disciplining our children.
Then one day she called me, confessing her deep longing to revisit some of those long dormant places in her heart. And I confessed mine.
- I asked my husband for help.
Shortly after my conversation with Kelli, I talked it through with my husband. Looking back, I realize that I had, quite by accident, or perhaps providentially, stumbled upon a marriage lesson I’d apply again and again over the years.
Here’s the short of it: I remembered that my husband loves me. He married me… pre-mommy me; a woman who had passions and hobbies and dreams. So I talked to that man about the woman he loved.
The fact we women tend to sacrifice ourselves so completely that we get lost doesn’t mean they’re doing anything wrong. Or that we are. They love us. We love them. But, sometimes, we can get bitter that they still walk through their days in the fullness of their flourishing lives… while we can barely remember our own.
And so, this remembrance that my husband loved me (not to mention the beautiful meals I used to prepare) gave me courage to talk things through with him – in a calm and non-confrontational moment. “Sweetheart,” I simply said, “I miss doing a few things that I used to do before I had all these little people. Would you help me make some time to enjoy them again?”
- I laid myself down before the Lord and said, “You did a good job when you made me…”
Just as my husband remembered the meals I used to make, the garden I used to delight in, the stories I would write and the theatre downtown we used to frequent, I whispered a prayer into my Heavenly Father’s ear, reminding Him all about me too.
“Lord, You did a good job when you made each of my children, and it’s my joy to be their mom. But, God, I’m your kiddo too, and you did a good job when You made me! Perhaps, You’d help me to remember the special gifts you’ve given me, as I celebrate the uniquely delightful ways you stitched together each one of my kids.
The last step of my journey out of the dark ages and into the light of my own personal Renaissance was learning to join my children in their creative play. Though my closest friends, my husband, and even my mom helped to give me space to create things of beauty in our hectic hurried days, sometimes it simply cannot fit. Those are the times I’ve learned to join my children in their own creative pursuits.
With a twelve-year-old who plays guitar, a ten-year-old who’s a creative mastermind with Legos, and an eight-year-old who loves to plant flowers in that same garden border… there’s ample opportunity to fit some creative beauty into the bedlam places of our busy lives.
How about you? Are you read to make some room and make some beauty in the bedlam of your own Life Creative?
Wendy Speake is an actress who writes, Kelli Stuart a writer who sings, and both of them are passionate about encouraging moms to use their creative gifts for the glory of God! For the past five years they have co-hosted a retreat for creative moms, and dreamed of one-day bottling that sweet time of fellowship to share with other Renaissance Moms. Today they are doing just that through the pages of their new book, Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom. (Buy it here. aff. link here)