I used to have all my Christmas decorations binned and stored away before stepping back into the workweek after New Year’s Day.
Not so much anymore.
I’m taking my time with all those pretties I set up on Black Friday. Barely had a month to enjoy them. Over 30 years of memories and a palette of festive fun enlighten my home throughout December. The whole transformation takes a full two days to set up and I take pleasure in every minute of it. But, by January 1st, I’m too pooped to pitter-patter about, dismantling it all in one fell swoop.
Instead, I stretch the job out over a couple of weeks. So far, the trees are packed away (I make three of them in different themes). I have a few things cluttering up the dining room table awaiting their bins.
Not sure how soon I’ll get to that. I’m back into my writing working day and there’s no time to dilly-dally in light of my new word for the year–forthcoming in Part 2 of this essay . . .
As for Part 1–It’s All About Last Year
In that post of January 2015, I gave a recap of about four years of words and how I fared at each turn. They seemed to build one on the other, culminating in my 2015 duet of words “Unbridled Joy.”
Once Christmas Day was past and I sat with my journal open on my lap the morning of the 26th, I felt a sense of failure flow over me. I knew I’d need to address this word of the year thingy in less than a week for 2016 and I had a big empty page before me. I couldn’t seem to move beyond the sense that I’d completely missed out on walking in Unbridled Joy this past year. In fact, in light of so many stresses of global proportion, grievous events on the world stage, fearsome predictions, and my own struggles launching Pageant Wagon Publishing with a new book, new projects, and far too many overwhelming tutorials to the purpose, Unbridled Joy was not quite how I saw myself navigating it all.
Fear and Anxiety appeared to shadow my every move. And–I did a lot of moving about in 2015. Listing all the projects brooded upon, birthed, and ballooned into ministry and products throughout 2015, made my head explode to some degree. Oh–I was busy enough. But, did I fulfill the more important goal to walk in Unbridled Joy?
I’d been mulling this over for a couple of weeks coming into Christmas and pulled an old favorite off the bookshelf in the basement. I’d read it many years ago and had fond thoughts of how it ministered to my heart at the time. Its title always caused me to stop and think: Jesus: Man of Joy, by Sherwood E. Wirt.
How had I truly imitated Jesus as a woman of joy this past year? A woman of Unbridled Joy, as I’d been so plucky to post as my goal for 2015?
I certainly didn’t FEEL the sensation of what I thought joy should FEEL like.
That’s when I was stung with amazement at the final words in Chapter 1 of this book. First, a couple of verses I knew quite well:
The heaven’s declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Oh, Lord . . . thou hast created all things and for Thy pleasure they were created.
Then, the author’s commentary, setting these Scriptures into relation one to another. And, to my searching heart:
. . . deep within the heart of God is a joy expressing itself in His mighty acts of creation.
We humble mortals, when we are in a creative mood, easily recognize the presence of joy that comes along with our own creativity. Not for nothing did God make us in His image and likeness! Augustine writes in his Confessions that in his search for God he went to the “crawling things” of the sea and asked them to tell something about God. In response they all cried out with a loud voice, “He made us!” The book of Job tells us that when the creation took place/shape, the morning stars sang together and “all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) . . .
So God . . . brought creation into existence and continues to sustain it. He did all this for His own pleasure, because He desired to do it. Not for power, not for glory, but for joy.
Jesus: Man of Joy, by Sherwood E. Wirt, pages 24-25
In that light, I saw something that completely transformed my thinking and affirmed how I’d spent the last twelve months. In truth, 2015 was fraught with much conflict, unrest, anxiety, heavy heart, struggle, and seemingly few gains in comparison to expectations. This resulted in an overriding sense of melancholy, often guilt, and a temptation on occasion to despair.
And, that’s the point. I am a CREATIVE. My brooding melancholy, in its season, is quite a good friend to me when I go into my creative den. Deeper wells are dug and better work is accomplished for it being there.
In doing a bit of inventory, I realized that I’d spent 2015 in a frenzy of creativity:
- Launched the Pageant Wagon Publishing website
- Published my first Fable Springs Parables picture book with illustration collaboration
- Published my first Fable Springs Parables audio book with musician collaboration
- Marketed these new products through performances, booksignings, and vendor events
- Doubled-plus my email list through new contacts and relationships
- Wrote my second Fable Springs Parables picture book in continued collaboration with my illustrator and audio book musician
- Maintained two blogs–devotional works and writing/book related topics
- Expanded social media content, interaction, and email outreach consistency
- Established and co-lead a writer’s critique group
- Taught an independent publishing workshop at a writer’s conference
- Took on new clients for coaching and development/publishing of their work via Portal to Potential
- Learned how to create/edit, and launched, a monthly podcast
- Developed the new Clementine Jones Drama and Derring-Do Book series of Bible study curriculum
- Became contributing writer to Ruby for Woman magazine
- Guest posted on other blogs
- Ministered through performance storytelling and enrichment teaching for schools
- Maintained my handcrafts in mixed media and floral accessories for craft shows
- Created new handcraft of embellished fingerless gloves for writers and creatives in winter
- Entertained family and friends with original recipes for Christmas teatimes
- Set in motion strategies to double all this creativity for 2016
Yes–it was a very creative year. In fact, you might say it was a year of UNBRIDLED creativity. Creativity unleashed!
But, all creative endeavors come with much work and stress and the paradox of being both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Crisis and chaos come with creative territories.
And . . . so does JOY!
Joy is one with the creative process. God’s Word tells us that it is. He defines it to be so as He models it in Scripture, consistently taking great pleasure in His own creative process. How I choose to see this year’s accomplishments in relation to this truth and my goal to walk in Unbridled Joy is pertinent.
FACT of creative endeavors accomplished
FEELING of conflict, chaos, and melancholy with anxiety
Creativity is stressful.
Creativity is joyful.
Creativity comes with crisis.
Creativity comes with pleasure.
Unbridled Joy = Unleashed Creativity
Unleashed Creativity comes packaged with all the messy feelings of chaos, confusion, anxiety, stress, guilt, wonder, awe, thrill, and even . . . great pleasure with peace. This is great joy.
Like childbirth–bringing a new life into the world.
Like the JOY set before Jesus. The Creator of the universe endured the crisis and chaos of the cross in the creative act of salvation–securing our New Life in Christ. The creative act of salvation was Jesus’ joy and pleasure to provide! A creative act that came with overwhelming crisis and chaos.
I dealt with this concept as one of the facets of Mother Chicken’s Eggs: Choosing to Grow into Greater Things, my picture book published in early 2015. For the chicks breaking out of their egg, for the caterpillar breaking forth from his chrysalis as a butterfly–there is crisis and struggle. But for enduring the same, they cannot take joy in flapping their wings to grow into greater things . . . with great joy and a party to celebrate on Old MacDonald’s Farm.
So in retrospect, I believed myself to have failed miserably walking out JOY this past year, let alone UNBRIDLED JOY Thankfully, I am redeemed in my way of thinking, cleansed by God’s Word and Mr. Wirt’s insightful commentary. I have, indeed, walked through 2015 with Unbridled Joy. All my pleasure filled creative endeavors, which took center stage in how I spent my days, are proof of this FACT. How blind I was to have first judged my year by the accompanying FEELINGS of guilt, conflict, crisis, chaos, and anxiety with much stress.
Joy is of the will which labors, which overcomes obstacles, which knows triumph.
William Butler Yeats
After of flood of grateful tears and a literal jumping for joy, I just had to ask:
“So, Lord, what’s my word for 2016?”
Sharing New Year . . . New Word . . . Part 1 this week with:
Not Just for Homemaking Party at Hope in Every Season
Tell His Story with Jennifer Dukes Lee