The sun comes out after two days of rain and I watch the shadows show up in the backyard. A pile of clean, unfolded clothes hangs out heavy on top of the dyer, and I sigh when I look at it. I so should have kept the ironing board. I pull out the first thing I see, purple leggings tangled up with The Man’s t-shirt and a pair of underwear. I begin to fold and dream about all the other things I’d rather be doing.

The gift given to me by the hand of grace is encouragement. I have been equipped to encourage through writing. I find moments to write the way a dog looks for food. I take them greedy when they come and I steal them if they don’t. But some days neither is possible, and that’s where I am today, standing in front of the dryer, folding wrinkled clothes.

We’ve talked about the fear of art, of entering into a stare-down with your gift and daring yourself to win. But what is even scarier sometimes is standing in the laundry room, watching the shadows show up in the backyard. What am I doing here? Where is the art? It takes faith to believe  in the midst of the ordinary, to continue to turn to Christ in every ordinary moment and trust that as you do so, he will turn you back out again.

I have lived entire seasons in my laundry room, at my kitchen sink, on the bathroom floor. I have sat in the middle of the night with two screaming babies and looked desperately for some creative expression. I have wondered if I have any thing to offer, any gifts to give. I don’t believe the answer is ever to whisk myself away to a remote island and figure out my purpose, although I wouldn’t turn down that ticket.

I do believe the answer is to turn to Jesus, to look for my reflection in his face, to trust even though it doesn’t feel true, to ask him to make beauty out of the ordinary gray. All of our things look different. It’s not always a message or an experience or a speech or a book. Everyone may not have a book to write. But everyone has a story, yes? And we get to choose the story we live. Sometimes our art is big and loud. Most times, it isn’t. Most times, it’s a quiet word, a choice to love anyway, a grace-filled glance, a still tongue, a hot dinner, a made bed, a flint-faced belief.

I am an artist, and I make art with my words, my pictures, my ladle, and my dishrag.