Life-Giving Life

When your mind, body, and soul are operating on the same page, meaning, there is a common goal, beautiful things happen. If you put your mind into a cause or a project where your heart is and your actions follow, passion ignites and things actually start to get done.
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What’s more, when you are operating within God’s will, you are on an accelerated path for the Kingdom, and you become an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. When your goals align with kingdom destiny, your goals become on a fast-track.

Philippians 1:21 says “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I paused for a moment to meditate on the “to live is Christ” portion. “Is” in this context is a direct metaphor for life. Nothing you do can separate you from God, so why would you try? I am reminded of that Steven Curtis Chapman song, Jesus is Life. “The air I’m breathing, Why my heart is beating, Everything I’m needing, Jesus is life, Jesus is life.”

Jesus IS life. All encompassing, ever-dependent life. The goal is to operate as one mind, one body, and one spirit: totally and completely in sync with your God-planned purpose. “Be no longer conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test God’s will. His good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2. Just rest in those thoughts, knowing that God WANTS you to know His perfect and pleasing will for your life and He WANTS to be involved. 

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New Territory

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Lately I have been experimenting with different forms of art: taking pictures, making videos, getting back into watercolors. By no means am I a professional, but I guess the only way to improve is through experience. I get nervous about sharing things that I create for a few reasons.
1) I don’t want to come across as someone who knows it all. After all, the more you learn the more you find out how much more there is to learn.
2) To try something new is nerving.To try something new in the public eye is even scarier. (Even if that public is just your friends and family).
But you know what? I tell myself that taking small steps to pushing boundaries is key to getting rid of fear when it comes to much more important things. Like going on that interview for a job you feel unqualified for, or taking a trip alone for the first time, or signing up for that foreign language course that seems intimidating.
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With every small act of faith you will be rewarded. I am reminded of this verse: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

Check out some of the recent experimental videos that I have been working on here:
Enjoy!
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Are We There Yet?

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The waiting and timing of promises can be frustrating, especially when there are many unknown factors. I was reading through Isaiah this morning when it hit me that God is an artist, a creative, and a creator. (Something you always know but you see it differently some days).

He formed each and every one of us uniquely and with love. He has painted and fashioned a beautiful life for us; and all of His promises for us are ours when we choose Him and let the Holy Spirit guide us every day. Imagine an art studio, where understudies watch a seasoned master paint. The artist isn’t finished, but the students don’t know that. The artist begins to pack up for the day, clean his brushes and the students say, “so that’s it? Are you done?” The artist then replies “My work is not yet finished, and I will be back tomorrow to paint again.” Unlike the artist, the creator, the students cannot see the end vision, they cannot see the complete and beautiful painting.

How is that different when we question God’s artistry and orchestration of our lives? Isaiah 45:9 says “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter ‘what are you making?’…” (NIV).

While we are on this journey called life, trying to fulfill His purpose for the Kingdom, we need to have faith in His timing. I had this vision, where I find myself on this road trip, in the back seat of a car (probably a G-Wagon becuase this is, after-all, my daydream); and God is driving. We are in the middle of the desert, and I find myself asking God “Are we there yet?” “Have we close to our destination?” “Are we out of the desert?” “Have we reached The Promised Land?” Meanwhile, He’s driving the car, turns around and says “We will get there in time, trust me.”

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God’s timing is not our timing. When you feel yourself unfulfilled by the promises of God, know that you aren’t finished with your journey yet. Trust God on the windiest of roads, and know that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” (Philippians 1:6). Don’t be weary in your well doing.

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Time to Get Un-Funky

I’ll admit it – the last few years of my life I feel like I’ve been in a funk. Like I’ve been caught up in a routine of life, that I haven’t been living out my purpose. I feel lost and confused, like walking through a maze with a blindfold on.
For me, trying to spark up creativity can be a trying and frustrating process. Especially when everything I am drawing, painting, and writing is just a bit off, but I can’t put my finger on why. What I find is that the most passion comes from your projects, is when your work comes FROM joy, not for it. You don’t have to prove your talent to anyone, you are already so incredibly gifted. Create art from your happy heart, and your work will show your joy.
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Create because you see beauty that gives you joy, and you want to capture the moment and share it with someone else because you want them to feel the same way. It is easy to spot when someone’s work is not for themselves, and the best way to counter that and to be authentic is to find pure unfiltered and joy in what you are creating.
I was walking around one of my favorite New York neighborhoods on a cool rainy Sunday morning and snapped a photo of some Gramercy townhouses (I mean… house goals right there). I absolutely love line drawings and I wanted to share this serene moment because it reminded me why I fell in love with New York almost 10 years ago.
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You can watch a full time-lapse of the drawing here.
So ask yourself: what are the things you like to do? And more importantly, what brings you happiness in both good times and bad? Someone once said to me, “what do you love to do so much that you would do it for free?” If you are still trying to figure it out like I am, that’s okay. Answering those questions is a good place to start.
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Finding Purpose in Everything

To be frank, I reflect on my life and sometimes feel underwhelmed with my accomplishments. I feel like my life is at a stand still, nothing is happening and the world can just move on without missing what I have to offer.

As I read more of other’s success stories, learn more about how thought leaders have overcome challenges, and study the lives of entrepreneurs; I find that it is the spirit of resilience that has carried them through seasons of stillness. They are resilient, knowing that endurance is a direct byproduct of challenge. One of my favorite speakers, Bianca Juarez Olthoff, states it beautifully in her new book, Play With Fire (which, I totally recommend buying and reading immediately if you want to learn anything about dealing with frustration). “We all go through desert seasons and have the opportunity to determine how we will respond.” It is in our hands how we react to stillness and frustrations in our lives. One of my favorite excerpts in Romans to recite when I feel like I’m losing my nerve comes from Chapter 5. “…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (NIV). 

In my mind I know I want to impact lives in some way, but I don’t know what that looks like just yet and it is beyond frustrating at times. Be on the lookout (or, as my mother likes to say “BOLO”) for areas where there is room for growth, and areas where you already have grown. Having the ability to identify what skills you gain as a result of being tried and tested is of upmost importance. Plus, it is a source of encouragement.

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New York is more than just a place I live. It is a place that lives me energy in times of exhaustion, it gives me hope when I feel burnt out. Just exploring the streets gives me peace. As I walk through the city in the snow, I am reminded that every season of life, no matter how bleak or how bitter cold it is, can and will come to an end. “There is a time for everything: and He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiasties 3, Kylie Translation).

With every trial and frustration, comes strength. With strength, responsibility. With responsibility, wisdom. (And…. probably more trials). The key is to find the challenge in everyday, and turn it into a learning experience that you can leverage as you move onto your next season in life. Capitalize on these trials: know that what you are going through will absolutely prepare you for what is coming next. Everyone, everything, and every day has value and a purpose. You just have to look for it.

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A Dream Within a Dream

Most times it is easier for us to imagine what our life would be like without actually having to work for it. You catch yourself saying “wouldn’t it be nice…” or “I’m too busy to…” or “someday when I have…” or my  personal favorite (aka most often used phrase), “once I have the money to…” Sound familiar? Welcome to my every day life.

There has always been and there will always be circumstances around me that try and challenge me, belittle me, and make me feel like I am not good enough to accomplish something. These hypothetical circumstances contribute to a negative thought pattern that is not only unhealthy, but also preventing me personally from turning my dreams into practice.

You see, if we are not careful, our dreams can remain that: just dreams. Who said that you aren’t good enough? Who said that you don’t have the time, the money or the experience to set goals and go after them? Yes, you will have to sacrifice in other areas of your life to accomplish what you want to. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will have to say no to many other things (distractions). But at the end of the day, you have to start somewhere.

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A friend had once given me a greeting card that says ” ‘Begin Anywhere’ -John. Cage.” It has been tacked on my wall for about a year now, but it just hit me a different way when I looked at it the other day. As you can see, I am really into writing. I have always wanted to write with and own a fountain pen. I now own one, but it has been sitting in the box for the past few months. Until today, I had not ever opened the pen, for fear the ink would get everywhere, my calligraphy wouldn’t be the perfect typography, silly things like that. If I never opened the box, if I never tried out the pen, if I never practiced writing my name in cursive a few times, I may have let the pen sit there in the box. Unused. Until the ink expired.

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Don’t let the fear of not being good enough or messing up stop you from even trying something to begin with. A devotional app I use said this “Do you hide your talents, gifts, and abilities? Put your light on a stand and let everyone benefit from the light you give off.”

You can begin anywhere, but you can’t begin everywhere. You must pick and choose what areas in your life you want to win, and what areas in your life you will sacrifice. Most importantly, be brave enough to start, becuase you never know who will need to hear what you have to say. If we are going to make the most of every day we are here, we cannot afford to remain neutral. The motivation and determination to start – it’s IN you.

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So don’t let your dreams be just dreams.

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