It has been a long season of Lent.

There have been moments where my weary bones felt like they might simply fall to pieces.

Each of those times words of life have come to the rescue.

They have come in the form of unexpected emails, tears among new friends, words from a stranger, thoughts from a class preceptor, and in soulful musical lyrics.

Each of them breathing spirit back into my limp and lifeless form.

Reminding me that God is here.

And that I am alive.

O dry bones,
hear the word of the LORD.
Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones:
I will cause breath to enter you,
and you shall live.
I will lay sinews on you,
and will cause flesh to come upon you,
and cover you with skin,
and put breath in you,
and you shall live;
and you shall know that I am the LORD.
~Ezekiel 37:4b-6
You are invited to head on over to Quixotic RIE to check out my guest blog as part of their Artist Life series. They asked me questions about my life as an artist - and I answered!

Courageous owners of Quixotic RIE, Claire and Ranne, have started a blog and opened up and ETSY shop with the hopes of sharing their inspirations and creations with the world. With vintage-charmed items, enchanting words of wonder, and an infectious zest for life Quixotic RIE offers a fresh encounter with everyday life and objects.

Check out one of my favorite original Quixotic designs - the Gaia Upcycled Necklace. I love it!

So, faithful Soultiders, go ahead and check out Quixotic RIE. Be your generous selves - leave a comment and let them know you stopped by. You might just make their day...

After Michelangelo died, someone found in his studio a piece of paper on which he had written a note to his apprentice, in the handwriting of his old age:

"Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and do not waste time."

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

I’m a thinker.
I spend a lot of time thinking and a lot less time doing.

I think I feel like I have to know exactly what I’m doing or have the end result completely figured out in my mind before I start on a creative project.
Instead of doing, I keep thinking. And when the actual process is messy and unknown, it’s easier to keep delaying the starting until I come up with that magical end result. Sometimes I think I’m waiting for that elusive Creativity Fairy to swing by, sprinkle some of that delightful, ingenious, creative dust on me and then -poof- I'll have really great ideas (genius ones, in fact) and I'll sit down and write out a brilliant paper in one sitting, or an amazing painting the first go around. But when the Creativity Fairy doesn't show up (maybe she got confused because I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last 2 years…), and when that dazzling end result is still a bit fuzzy, well, I just don’t start.

Makes sense, right?
Who really needs to go through the actual process of creating something before it’s done? Doesn’t it just happen? Creativity. Boom. Done.

I had the amazing privilege of having coffee with writer Robert Benson when we lived in Nashville.
He was gracious and kind enough to make time for a complete stranger. We talked baseball and cheeseburgers and, of course, writing. He revealed that his process of writing involves – doing some writing and then editing, editing, editing. He remarked that he sits there with the thesaurus and pours over every word. I was speechless. You mean, he doesn’t just write that way the first time around? He doesn’t come up with those amazingly poetic, wonderfully descriptive sentences that jump off the page at me - out of the blue?

I hadn’t realized that I thought that was how it happened – that people who are good at what they do, just do something once and it comes out in its extraordinary and finished form.
It sounds crazy, but that’s so often what I believe.

But the truth is - it takes work, a lot of work.
It takes revisions, and re-dos, and do-overs, and edits, and thesauruses, and practice. It takes energy, and maybe even some tears. It takes time. And, it takes doing.

If I am to live the life I seek, a life lived at attention,
the life to which I believe I am being called,

then I am going to have to do it on purpose.

~Robert Benson

*the drawing: Sitting Around by Juli Kalbaugh, 2008
I'm a procrastinator. I don't mean to be. In fact, I don't actually want to be one. But, grad school has made it abundantly obvious that I am, in fact, a dreaded put-er off-er.

The thing is, a lot of times it's not that I don't want to do the thing I need to do. I mean, sometimes it is, but a lot of times it's not. My problem is simply starting. I'm a terrible starter. Probably the worst. It takes almost everything in my being to conquer the empty page, cover the blank canvas, or crack the empty silence. The vast chasm of barrenness staring me in the face completely overwhelms me. The void sucks me into itself, and it attacks my body and sucks the very soul right out from me. Yes.  Exactly.  That's totally what it does - leaving behind only my zombie-self. And, well, my zombie-self can't really be blamed for much of anything, can it?

So, I've devised a little 3-step process to combat the zombie-attack.

1) Say to myself - The blank page is not attacking you! (Whew. Ok, good thing to know.)

2) Be Bad as Fast as I Can.

3) Repeat.

I'm borrowing this little concept from John Lassester, Chief Creative Officer at Pixar. The idea is to hurry up and get something down on the paper - anything, just write something down. Hurry up and do something crappy so I can get on with it. It gives me something to work with, to edit and adjust. Instead of nothing, now there is something to mold and shape. It helps me get past being completely frozen and unlocks me from the staring contest with the blank page. It gets some movement going and some life back into that zombied body. Instead of feeling like I have to start with a piece of perfection I am free to be messy, make mistakes, and write something bad - even terrible. Suddenly, the pressure is lifted ever so slightly. I want to give myself the freedom fail quickly. That way, instead of fearing the failure I can just go ahead and do it, get it out of the way, and move along.

So, how do you overcome your procrastination? What stops you from starting? How do you get over that hump and into the creative process?

So, here I am. A grad student - pursuing a Master of Divinity degree. Really? Master of Divinity? Could the degree name be any more arrogant? A lot of days I wonder what the heck I am doing back in school in my 30s, trying to master the divine in short span of 3 years. Most of the time I wonder what someone like me, with so many questions and doubts, is doing in a place where many people are quite confident that they know exactly who God is and what they (or God) want(s) to do with their life.

And then I run into someone who dares to admit that they, too, might have a question (or maybe even two) about what this is all about. They whisper that they, too, don't quite have it all together. Like me, they are sometimes skeptical about certain theological claims. Like me, they sometimes feel disconnected from God and alone in the darkness. And like me, they are often tired of doing the I've-got-all-the-answers dance in church. When I meet these people it's like a breath of fresh air. There is room to breathe.

I am reminded of what I wrote on my grad school application - It is because of my experiences with the darkness and my own question
s of faith that I desire to create a space for people to question, wrestle, learn, and become as we encounter God - together.

As part of my degree program we are assigned an internship with a church for the summer. I gotta be honest - for the past few months my anxiety level has been maxed out. What sort of place will it be? Will they expect me to have it all together? Will they want me to have all sorts of amazing theological answers? If so, they are going to be sorely disappointed with their assigned intern.

When the notice finally arrived with my summer placement info I read their vision statement:

Creating a safe space where everyone -- those who are tired, skeptical, unchurched, disconnected, and frustrated -- would love to attend and grow together in their understanding of God.

I exhaled. And I had some tears. It is a place that has room - even for someone like me...