5 ways to know if the art has to wait

We’ve been suffocated with snow days this week: four days in a row. We’ve gone from the exciting first day (No school!) to the shoulder-slumped fourth day (*sigh* no school). Even the kids are ready to get back. I’ve had to be flexible and gracious with my time. Sometimes I haven’t done such a hot job of it. And it’s made me think about the art we’ve been talking about around here lately. Because some of you are artist who are creating. And some of you are artist who are waiting.

There can be great frustration for those who long to create but aren’t. Maybe you have babies around who need stuff and things – when the twins were born, I was too busy picking dried-spit up out of my hair and staring out the window during my free time to think about any kind of art. Maybe you are taking care of aging parents. Maybe you are in the process of moving and your house is filled with boxes and packing tape, or  you work full time outside of your home and your job responsibilities don’t allow for much else. If you home school or are the president of the PTA or are remodeling your kitchen, you may not see a place in your life for the art.

All of these things could be reasons why you have to wait. BUT (and I’m going to be very bold here), they could also be excuses. It is important to know if you are waiting because of wisdom, because it truly isn’t the right time. It is also important to know if you are waiting because of fear. Here are some ways to discover the difference.

Ask your people. My people would be my husband. For you, it may be other family or even kids. When the twins began to get a bit older, I went a year or so where I felt a pull to write, but I didn’t really tell my husband. What resulted from that was frustration on my part because I was trying to squeeze writing into a schedule that wasn’t allowing it, and also frustration on my husbands part because he didn’t understand how important it was to me. Get your people behind you. The idea of creating in isolation may seem romantic and artsy, but it isn’t.

Adjust your expectations. It doesn’t have to be I’m either going to write a book, or I’m not going to write at all. If you have the idea that you have to finish an entire book or else it doesn’t count, you could be waiting forever. Thirty minutes of writing before the kids wake up still counts.

Art and margin must co-exist. If pursuing your art does not also allow for some white space in your schedule, it could mean that now is not the time to pursue your art. But be honest about this. Decide which things in your schedule you value the most. You may discover huge chunks of time that can be replaced with creativity. Tsh’s book, Organized Simplicity, helped me as I thought about this in my own schedule.

Consider the beginning. If you pick up the Bible and start on page one, the first thing we see God do is to create. It was priority number one. It was not an afterthought. He had a purpose and a vision, and he made it come to be. If you tend to see creating art as a luxury, or if you feel guilty about your creative self, I want to urge you to reconsider. You were made in the image of Someone who places a high priority on creativity. To deny that part of yourself is insulting.

Find the art in the living. I know it may seem like I am contradicting myself here, but if you insist on compartmentalizing your art from your living, you may never find the time to pursue it. The more I see myself as an artist, the more my art spills over into my life. I begin to see meal prep as an outlet for my creative side. I use my writing as a gift by sending a long note to a friend instead of jotting a quick thank you out of obligation. If you can’t find art in your living, keep looking. I promise it’s there.

Three years ago, as I prayed about what 2008 would hold for me, I sensed the Lord speaking these simple words into my heart: It’s time to write. He didn’t tell me what to write, when to write, or how. I had to sort of figure that part out. But I had a clear impression as I considered that the words were from him. As you think about your own art, I want to encourage you to lay it all out there and ask him about it. Because when he calls you to something, I promise he will provide.


  1. says

    another amazingly inspiring post for me. thank you so much for your words. you have no idea what you are stirring up over here:) xoxo

    just. have. to. start.

    • Becky Lopez says

      I completely agree that these posts about art are stirring things up. So grateful blog posts don’t go away after a few years, I’ve been reading each one on this topic and reflecting. God is in the air this morning.

  2. says

    whenever i think about fear and how i serve it, i think of something my pastor said in a sermon over a year ago. he was preaching from 1Timothy 1:7 and he simply flipped the verse around: if you have a spirit of timidity, God has not given it to you.

    that has been transformational for me, being able to look at fear that paralyzes and accept that God did not intend it for me. i was not created for that.

    i’m so glad you answered God’s call to you to write.

  3. says

    This is so encouraging and wise on so many levels, I’m not sure where to even begin. I feel like what I really need is time on a comfy sofa over a cup of tea to actually *talk* about writing with you.

    I have my doubts that Blissdom will offer those kinds of opportunities, but I should would snatch them up if they came along.

    “You were made in the image of Someone who places a high priority on creativity. To deny that part of yourself is insulting.” – such a fantastic reminder. Along with how thirty minutes when we can find it does actually count. And that writing is a gift we can use to bless others with in the hum-drum of the day.

    Yes, yes to all of it!

  4. says


    You have written my heart here. I have felt like an artist on hold for so many years…now I am in awe each day as I live my life married to a man who…after asking me what I dreamed of doing, what I loved to do…helped me to find ways to live that dream each day. Now my heart calls me to write…and I am blessed to find time to do that…my heart calls me to take pictures…and I am learning more and more about capturing our lives in pictures. I have so much to learn, but I am feeling alive as I live with art…instead of packing it away for “someday” in a box in our storage closet. Thank you so much for reminding me to bring art more and more into the daily activities of our lives…thank you for nudging me to share how I do that through my writing and pictures…you did that, you know? 😀

    Thank you for sharing your gift and your heart with us!!!

    Building Home with Him,

    Mary Joy

  5. says

    Thank you for this.

    Having my husband behind me (maybe even shoving me a bit?) is the greatest gift as I carve out (small and far-flung) times to write.

    You wouldn’t happen to have any tips for overcoming the “every word I write is atrocious” feeling that slinks about every now and then, would you?

    (Or maybe it’s just me!) :)

  6. says

    For some reason I had always held the saying Do What You Love very close to my heart. I thought it spoke a great wisdom. But I have recently realized that Create What You Love is a much clearer path to happiness. At least mine anyway.

  7. says


    Such terrific suggestions. So helpful. My people say go. My goals are set. White space, not much of it now, but it’s by design – and not forever. Which isn’t so bad – kind of makes up for times there was too much of it.

    And thank you: first that writing is worship, then art, now following God in his creative ways – you make the craft sound noble and by doing so fuel the fire. God smiles. And art in the living? I used to call it “integrating studies” in school – the art blending with life and vice versa – so good. So good.

  8. says

    “Because when he calls you to something, I promise he will provide.”

    He’s calling me to write, and I’m both exhilirated and terrified (much how I feel about the fact that He’s also called us to pursue parenthood). I needed these words today. Thank you.

  9. says

    Thanks, Emily- I am in limbo- finally have some time, but fear what the outcome will be. I have sort of entered the public arena, but cringe at the few criticisms I’ve heard – why do I care? So silly. I need to focus on what God wants, that is all. Thank you for using your creative gift to help the rest of us know we are not alone in our creative quest.

  10. says

    Emily, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. For me, like so many of your other readers, your series on art is coming at a perfect time for me. :) I especially love the part about God being first a creator. I heard a sermon about that last year and it’s stuck with me as I’ve tried to find my own creative path, and to hear the voice of God leading me forward.

  11. says

    Emily – I absolutely love what you wrote here. I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for sharing and continuing to use your gifts for His kingdom. Love you!

  12. says

    Oh my goodness, Emily…did God have me on your mind when you wrote this? I don’t mean to be so self-centered, but REALLY??? Gosh this spoke to me in an unbelievable way! So affirming that it’s time to just trust…and write.

  13. says


    Thank you for putting words to what so many of us are feeling.

    Such perfect timing, as the snow somewhat forces us to slow down and really take a look at what is going on.

    I love how you addressed the frustration piece of art balanced with other things. Just yesterday, I apologized to my daughter for being grumpy when she asked if I was finished with the computer. I was frustrated—not with her—but because the words wouldn’t come. And I realized that I needed to wait. It takes the joy away from writing well if at the same time I’m being a mean grouch to my family.

    Thank you so very much. :)

  14. says

    I have trouble with adjusting my expectations!! The perfectionist in me brings out this “all or nothing” expectation for myself. If I can’t write a book from the get go, then why do anything? Love this post! I love lists and bullet points too 😉

  15. says

    You’re gonna be so sick of me commenting. In fact I don’t really want to comment, exactly. I just want sit here in the safe haven you’ve just offered my heart. Maybe cry a little. Maybe just rest for a bit in the white space I have but don’t pursue. You’re incredible, you know it?

    Thanks for this.

  16. says

    Okay, girl, you’re nailing it every day, here lately! I have to say that I found your blog a while (quite a while) ago, and would occasionally visit, but I feel that lately (in the last 6-12 mo?) you’ve really come into your voice on your blog, and it is beautiful. You go, girl.

  17. says

    Love the bit about making art part of your regular living. Soooo good. I’ll think of that next time I take time to write a letter…something I love to do but don’t do often enough.

    I actually like everything pint you made, but the first one is huge. My husband is my number one encourager, and it makes all the difference.

    Enjoy your weekend,

  18. says

    I am loving this series .. Soaking in your words, and really don’t have any of my own to add, but that this is so freeing and hopeful. Thank you!

  19. says

    This is so awesome. And it just solidifies for me that this IS the time for me to create. Even though I don’t feel good enough, or worthy enough, or smart enough, creating is what God has called for me to do NOW.
    Looking forward to meeting you at Blissdom!

  20. susan says

    You hit the nail on the head again, Emily–*my* head,as it were. Yes, I have “stuff”. We all have “stuff”. Yes, I have multiple DD’s and a busted knee and a spine that screams “no” everytime I tell it to do something. Yes, I am exhausted and downright stoopid sometimes from the exhaustion. And I can’t afford to do what I really want to do right now. How many ppl can? It’s a matter of scale. Some ppl don’t understand how hard it is to come up with $20 a month. But I can’t understand why they can’t do what they say they want to do. That scale thing. However, I wrote when I worked 80hrs a week, when there were fewer DD’s and the folks were independent. I wrote smaller. Poetry. I didn’t paint, do pastels or watercolors. But I sketched in a companion book to what I wrote. I didnt sew, but I altered&mended. Now if the back wont pick up the sewing machine, I just don’t *do*. I accepted the not working, I brushed up on the embroidery, taught myself to loomknit…but if I hurt so much I can’t concentrate? I don’t. No wonder I am generally PO’d. I have to pick one I can,no matter what. And that is to write. Again. In smaller pieces. Until the $20 happens. It’s almost here. And i’ll be ready. Because I will have been practicing. In little pieces….Love you! -s-

  21. susan says

    PS–Codebreaker – DD = DarnDisease (add the ” ‘s ” for multiples) And I can’t believe I forgot this because I thought of you when I read it! Part of a quote from Rachel Ashwell, in the winter edition of _CottageStyle_ “Life can be art, because we all do so many interesting things…”

  22. says

    Your posts have been just perfect Emily. I have been struggling with this for such a long time. I have an empty nest and yet the days seem to slip through my fingers with so little time left to do the things my heart yearns to do.
    I think it is true that fear is one of the things that keeps me from being intentional about carving out time to write. The other, in all honesty, is laziness. In order to be a better writer, I need to study and work and be willing to put in the time.
    I’m going to print this out and read it over and over – and then actually do something about it!
    Thank you sweet girl.

  23. says

    I often read your blog, but have so far only commented occasionally. Thank you for your posts. They are consistently beautiful, stirring, and encouraging. This one is no exception.

    I still question myself: who am I to be one who writes? But I love it. I learn from it. I think about it throughout my day (of living for my God, and with my husband and my son – all of whom give me much to write about). Yet I still sometimes question my validity as a writer. But your post here… you are encouraging me to continue creating. Thank you.

  24. says

    Hi! I have discovered you and your sister’s blogs and have been reading both! I love that we are very similar in many ways and I’m so, so thrilled to have ‘found’ you! I L-O-V-E blogging! Unfortunately around here, blogging has basically been ‘replaced’ by FB. I hate that! I am a FaceBooker, but I get so much more from my blogs! Bless you!

  25. says

    The thing is, I see myself more like a ‘doodler’ than an artist. I’ve always been a words girl, but the Art of writing, that so many do far better than I ever will, seems bigger than I am. The beauty of it is, sometimes, He scoops up my chicken scratches and breathes life into them. And then, they become His. I love when that happens.

    As always you inspire!
    — Stacey

  26. says

    Emily…..I feel so ridiculous always having the same response to your posts, but seriously, sometimes there isn’t anything better that I can come up with other than

    preach it sista.

    I don’t know if I relate to you because we’re mothers or bloggers or in ministry with our husbands or because we’re southerners or what…but I relate to you…

  27. says

    Art can be created bit by bit, and slowly. It doesn’t have to be something you do full-time. I know plenty of people who work full-time jobs but work on something creative/fulfilling afterwards such as writing a novel, or photography, or painting.

  28. says

    perfect…as always:)

    i love that ‘it’s time to write’ in 2008…i probably heard a while before May, 2010 when i FINALLY started my writing blog, but it was there…the hardest was the first step and those beginning days when I didn’t know what to write and kept putting in things I had written 10 years ago, the last season I really wrote…it was so telling and to see things be loosened up as i’ve begun to write…

    really great gauges too…my hubby’s been with me every step of the way too:)

  29. says

    Emily, I LOVE this post! Thank you so much for putting it down in to words. Since March, I’ve felt the pull of the Lord towards music-making, but I’m now seeing that I need to ask my people AND adjust my expectations. I’ve been super discouraged to the point of not even picking up the guitar because I thought full songs needed to come out of my practice sessions. Thank you for letting God speak to my heart through your words. I feel like I’ve gained some freedom to be me this morning :) Bless you!

  30. Donna Bivins says

    Wonderful word today! “Finding the art in living” has been my journey for the past year and as you wrote so beautifully the creative/artistic parts of me have been finding fullfillment in ways other than paint, paper and brushes for the reasons that you listed – work and family. It has helped me to be (I believe) more inspired and a bit more organized.
    Thank you! I love your blog!

  31. says

    Oh, I find this hard. I’m either writing when I shouldn’t (when I need to be homeschooling) or not at all. Lately, it’s been not at all. my house is cleaner (love that) but I am leaving so many things unsaid. You’ve given me some things to think about. Creativity is vital to my vitality, so one way or another I need to figure this balance out.

  32. says

    I like your thought here, Emily, on art being a part of all of our life. This is how I see art, as well. This book is super old, I read it in college in the Dark Ages, but it really influenced my thinking on art and creativity. It is Hidden Art by Edith Schaffer. Thanks for the great post.


  33. says

    Love this one today, and don’t forget that if the time is not right for one type of art, you can always start with another. You can broaden your horizons and try something new. I don’t have the space or the place to paint anymore, so I turned to photography and writing, both of which have brought the same type of joy to me and my family. Sometimes we just have to think a little out of the box!

  34. says

    like everyone else here, this is so timely for me. It is strange to me that there are people out there who understand the need, because no one I know gets that, they just think I’m a weirdo. :) I know I have to make time for my art, and the pull on me has been so strong for months, yet I’ve let countless hours pass doing nonessential things. Thank you for listening and sharing, you have blessed me tonight.

    • says

      This reminds me of my very first semester on campus – I was telling a friend (who was one of the instructors at the school) that no matter how scared to death I am as soon as I step on campus I KNOW I belong there – the people I work with excite and inspire me, and I finally feel like I fit in.
      He said that’s how he felt, too, and his wife told him,
      “You weren’t weird – you were just by yourself!”

      Around here we’re not by ourselves! Woot :o)
      We are creators, fashioned in the image of the Ultimate Creator.
      It’s in our fiber.

      Everyone ELSE is weird ;o)

  35. Cammi says

    I just wanted to let you know that your writing is always beautiful, relaxing, and inspiring. Thank you for this post. It’s very timely for me. :)

  36. says

    Emily. I love this. Love the encouragement to create, as part of ourselves, part of reflecting Him. It seems to me that when I start to write with my eye on the comments or the stats or the pats on the back, I begin not really reflecting, but spotlighting myself. BUT, when I can just enjoy the gift of the art, when I can write for me and because of Him, when I can look up and not around – – –

    then things are right.

    And better. And more honest. And more powerful, anyway. Even if only to me.

    Thanks for the insights and encouragement.

    Love reading here . . .

  37. Diane says

    “The first thing we see God do is create…not an after thought….purpose & vision.” Wow! Those words jumped off the page and smacked me in the face.

    For quite a number of years I spent my spring and summer leading a team to create a fantastic environment for my church’s VBS. During that time I learned a lot about the Author of creativity and the creative process. But, I rarely did much except create a few pretty cards, or make a wreath for Christmas and arrange a few flowers from the farmers’ market.

    Creativity is one of God’s attributes which has filled me with awe. Just look around at this amazingly beautiful world he created for us….and his glory. I may not be the most creative gal on the block. BUT God has gifted me. And you, my new “friend” – Emily, have been used by the Holy Spirit to convict me to seek HIS vision and create “on purpose.”

    Thank you for working out your creative calling in “this place.” Thanks for “chatting at the sky” and me.

  38. says

    One of my new year’s resolutions is to make time to create this year. This post completely reinforced that desire, and it’s given me some ideas for making it work. Thank you so much!

  39. says

    i think i’ll tape this on my fridge:

    “The more I see myself as an artist, the more my art spills over into my life.”

    how beautifully said, friend…and so very true.

  40. says

    Most of the time, I’m waiting out of fear. I have that kind of attitude that I keep on thinking how to solve a problem before I can concentrate again. Which means, whenever I want something, I always make sure that I am ready even for the future problem. Sometimes, we need to trust God because no matter how much we plan something, if it’s not meant to be, it won’t really happen.

  41. says

    This is so practical and wise. Thanks for the encouragement, this is so where I am at currently (waiting) – trying to be patient and live in the season, but trying not to make excuses either. I am really enjoying your insights on making art, and this one in particular is so very helpful!

  42. says

    I came to this post via Simple Mom and I almost started crying (while sitting in a NYC cafe). I just finished creating my third little baby and actually have a quiet moment to myself right now. I never considered myself a creative person. When I was pregnant with my second I had an intense desire to create. But I still feel so much fear (of an ugly creation) and a bit of guilt (spending my time) over creating with my hands. I love this post. It touched me. I hadn’t thought about becoming more like the Creator by putting more of a priority on making beautiful art in my life.

    I am now committed to doing more, creating more instead of just thinking about it.

    Thank you

  43. says

    Thank you for writing this post. The part about art and margin stood out to me. It is very hard to create when there is little to no room to think and dream. Thanks for suggesting the War of Art. Going to pick it up this week.

  44. says

    I noticed this post on “Gypsy Mama’s” side bar just now, and thought, “Hey, I know who she is…” (I have recently discovered your blog) and I’m so glad I came over to read this post! I feel like this message was written to directly answer things I’ve been mulling over… God bless!!

  45. says

    I’m new to your blog, but so far it has been so encouraging. Thank you for following the Lord’s lead and writing. I have so many artistic things I want to do, but constantly feel guilty about starting any of them (even though my husband is behind me on them). I keep feeling like doing ‘hobbies’ is a waste of time. I’m beginning to see how the Lord wants me to view it differently. Thank you for your words of encouragement.


  46. Kirsten says

    I have been writing on and off for 10 years, though I have yet to finish my first novel. I am still writing and your words have lifted my spirits a little. Lately I have been wondering why. Why, with everything that’s going on around the world, would God have given me a purpose to write? It seems so trivial as I find myself questioning his wisdom. I know I shouldn’t because he has a plan for all of us and yet that one simple question has me walking round in circles and straining to write even the simplest of sentences.
    Creativity, writing…stories – these things God has given me a passion for and your reminder that it’s a part of the big man Himself has helped me to again, take up the pen (keyboard) and write another word, another sentence, another chapter…however long it may take me.
    Though, if you ever find an answer to the question, please let me know.

  47. says

    love the point that the things in our lives can be signs to “wait” but can also be “excuses”… My girls are still young, but the urge to be writing is there…I feel that I pursue it in most of my margin space…but then, well…I’m sure you know what happens…trying to trust and wait and keep journaling and writing and doing what I can in the process…Glad to know I’m not alone!

  48. Anne says

    Thank you, Emily for these encouraging words. I have a novel in me that has been burning to get out for the last 2 1/2 years or so. Since beginning to write, I first wrote in spurts, with large breaks in between, but now try to work on it regularly (a few days a week for a few hours each day).

    I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 5 year old, and I’m attempting to home school them (though I’m pretty relaxed and informal in my approach to that, which helps). It would seem that now is not the time for me to make writing a priority. BUT…I have been blessed for the time being with help with the kids from my live-in father during part of every day. So, I take advantage of those periods by sitting down to WRITE! My husband is very supportive, too, and really believes in me, since he knows I’m so passionate about the story idea that has “fallen into my head.”

    Anyway, this blog post has reaffirmed to me some things that I struggle to remain confident about: 1) that (as you said) our creativity is part of who we are, since we’re made in our Creator God’s image, 2) that the calling to write is from God (I feel deep down that my passion for writing, and even the story I’m working on, is a gift from God – to ME, since I take such delight in it as a creative outlet). And, of course, I hope and pray that my writing will somehow bring glory to God!

  49. says

    I have been feeling the tug to write, and I am making the most of my margins. I have two teenagers in the house, so my margins are tight. Whenever I read about organizing my time and removing the clutter, I reflect. My days are filled with work, with errands, with house cleaning and with chores. The spaces in between carry rambling conversations with my husband, connections with friends, time with horses, shopping with my daughter, and sharing with my son. Even though these last things keep me from my art, I call them “beautiful noise.” When I feel crowded, I breathe deep and remember there will come a time. “Not yet,” He wispers through the noise.

  50. Melissa says

    I am loving your blog. You seem to be writing straight to me about my art. I work for the school system most of the year, (this is when I have a hard time squeezing in time for creativity). But I love my breaks, I get to paint!!!! Yay!!!

    So I identify with your writing.

    Blessings, peace and Joy!!!


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