Letting go of comparison {Book Club}

Thanks to those who participated in the survey last week! We have quite a potential list to work through based on your suggestions :). I compiled them here if you’re curious to see. I was relieved to see there was a clear majority chosen for the next book, coming it at 42% (with an additional 16% wanting to poke their eyes out at the thought of any of them) was

The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It’s free, but more than that, it is one of my two all time favorite books from my childhood and reading it turned me into a lover of the idea of gardening (if not actual gardening). So, come June, we’ll be looking at themes about redemption, orphans, family secrets, and gardens!


Do you feel like Brene might be peeking in your window and saying, “You have a wonderful home! But with a bit of rearranging, you can get even more use out of the space.” I’m thankful the chapters are short and she doesn’t beat a dead horse, when you look at the territory we’ve covered, it’s kind of breath taking:

And today we are up to Guidepost #6 –Cultivating Creativity — in The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.

I loved the examples she gave from her childhood and was saddened by such a clear cut-off date for her creativity. If you’re around kids, isn’t it stunning the various ways they express their creativity? Taking ordinary items and using them for extraordinary expressions. Don’t ask me how we got started on this, but several years ago someone named Aunt Amy decided it would be fun to stage a nativity play with her nieces when she was home for Christmas.

Since then, the plays involving four growing children and one middle aged woman have become more elaborate. Let’s just say, baby Jesus this year was a six year old girl who wheeled onto the “stage” in a dump truck manger, wrapped in a blanket.

We are currently working on a version of Frozen that is going to stun even Walt Disney himself. We’ve got about six weeks until Aunt Laura and Aunt Sue to come to town and our eight-year old playwright has narrowed it down to 34 scenes. Yup, THIRTY FOUR. Her mother asked if she’s heard of the word “abridged.” I say, what, only 34? BRING IT ON. Aunt Laura didn’t like the movie (WHAT? I know, she’s heartless and apparently doesn’t like a good show tune), but her nieces have gotten music from their piano teacher and roles might be chosen by who fits into what costumes. How can she not love it?

“It’s easy to see how difficult it is to make time for the important things such as creativity, gratitude, joy, and authenticity when we’re spending enormous amounts of energy conforming and competing.”

This is why we must talk about comparisons:

“[Cross-cultural working] women tend to be more tuned in and critical of how other [cross-cultural working] women spend their time.” N  Crawford (from a great book: Expectations and Burnout: Women serving in the great commission).
We are the queens of comparing how people use their time. In order to cultivate our creativity — which is nurturing part of being Imago Dei, image bearers of a creative God! — we must let go of comparing. We must. As Brene said, creativity can be viewed as a spiritual discipline. Something to be cultivated and fostered.
But I get how full our lives are with … daily life. Laundry and cooking and transportation can take inordinate amounts of time. This isn’t meant to heap more on us, but to breath life into us! Picture Aslan walking around the stone animals in the garden of the White Witch. Jesus wants to breath on you and your creativity. Be it cooking, teaching, learning Chinese calligraphy, photography, song writing, dancing, sewing, Zumba, making photo books, writing, working with clay. Even making the longest plays on the planet.
He came that we might HAVE life, not compare life.

How have you been able to tap into your creativity while on the field? What else got stirred up in your thoughts and soul this week as you read?

Until the comments … Amy

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Photo Credit: sheshakes via Compfight cc


  1. Malia April 14, 2014

    Creativity as the counterpoint to comparison–I’d never thought of that before! Brilliant.
    And you’re right that we can find art in all the sciences of our daily mundane: cooking, organizing, writing, conversing, traveling.
    I much appreciated the earlier post this week too by Carolyn, saying how creativity brings hope. Made in the Creator’s image, we must cultivate this part of our being. Excellent challenges here, Amy–thanks.

  2. Elizabeth April 15, 2014

    “He came that we might have life, not compare life.” Love it! Definitely needing that truth lately. . . .

  3. Kimberly Todd April 15, 2014

    These are the eggs we decorated today. They’re nothing to look at, but they’re ours created in peaceful moments of connection in a not-so-much that kind of day.

    A meaningful quote from the book: “Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared. And, without comparison, concepts like ahead or behind or best or worst lose their meaning…When I make creating a priority, everything in my life works better.”

    1. Shelly April 16, 2014

      I liked that quote, too, Kim. (Sorry we couldn’t see the eggs. But I can just imagine…) Creating…it is something that has certainly taken a back seat for me since becoming a “working woman”–at least the kind that involved charcoal pencils, models and large drawing paper. Now, I can find a pinch of creativity in my weekly bread making, feeling inspired to actually cook a meal, or end my day attempting to capture its essence in a poem. I even see my lesson planning (when I am not stressed by it) as a creative act. I loved designing activities to help students connect ideas in literature with their own lives. (Executing it, however, was not nearly as enjoyable because of Miss Perfectionism.)

    2. Kimberly Todd April 16, 2014

      egg roll please…

  4. Kimberly Todd April 15, 2014

    another try to post the pic

    1. Kimberly Todd April 15, 2014

      No dice. How about that quote, heh? =)

  5. Elisa April 15, 2014

    A few ways I’ve been able to dive into creativity while on the field: cross-stitching (I know…it’s grandma stuff BUT it reminds me of my mom and China has tons of elaborate patterns to choose from!), creating tickets progressive Christmas parties, and finally my favorite of the year…using only what China has to offer to create beautifully wrapped Christmas presents.  Decorating my house for Christmas with only China stuff is another creative outlet for me.  Here’s a picture of my apartment at Christmas. I like to call it “The Stockings were hung by the radiator with care”

      1. Elisa April 16, 2014

        Here’s another attempt at sharing my creative side…

        1. Elisa April 16, 2014

          This year I stepped up Christmas Creativity a bit with taking great care and diving into wrapping presents beautifully. This one was my favorite.  (I really needed to be creative. It helped me rest and re-coup from weeks of travel)

    1. Shelly April 16, 2014

      Elisa, I agree that decorating our little apartments for the holidays is refreshingly creative act. Two years ago I didn’t put up a tree and I really missed it, so I made sure I squeezed out time to get it up this year. I almost hated to take it down.

    2. Jenny April 18, 2014

      Yay for cross-stitching! It’s been my attempt at foraying into the creative realm and I’m loving it

  6. Danielle Wheeler April 15, 2014

    Sorry for the trouble loading pictures, ladies!  Working on it!

    Also, I’m reading Emily Freeman’s “A Million Little Ways” and it is SUCH a good source for understanding and finding your own creativity.

  7. Danielle Wheeler April 16, 2014

    Ok, the issue is fixed now.  You can upload your pictures now if you’d like, so we can see your creativity! 🙂


  8. Brittany April 22, 2014

    I want to play the “I’m not creative” card, but clearly, Brene took away that excuse, lol! I have these grandiose plans to be creative, but then I don’t feel like I have time or talent to make it actually work. Yes, comparison is the problem. So is time. I was behind in my reading because of the holiday so I read both the chapters on Creativity and Play this week and I can see how they go hand in hand! In order to have the time for creativity, I’ve got to take the time for play.

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