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Unnecessary Craftiness

This weekend, my twelve-year-old daughter sequestered herself in her bedroom with the new sewing machine we bought her last month for her birthday. When she emerged, she had made wedding attire for a party of stuffed animals. Diana the Deer is the Bride, and Buster the Dog is the groom. The bridesmaids (an elephant and a cat) are wearing pink lace-up-the-back dresses and the groomsmen (a dog and a bear) tuxes with button-down shirts.

I am over the moon about this. Though there are many things I do that I hope my girls don't continue into their generation -- please, Jesus -- having passed on a love for sewing makes me want to do a little Snoopy dance around the pins I have dropped on the kitchen floor.

Diana and her bridesmaids One of my many Pinterest boards is called "Unnecessary Craftiness." It's filled with yummy pictures of delightful things I really don't need but hope to make someday. Arts and crafts keep me sane; particularly the problem-solving aspect of creating. To see something lovely, deconstruct it and figure out how to do it myself is deeply satisfying. My daughter gets this. It's the fact that it's Not Necessary that brings joy. If that doesn't make sense to you, consider how inherently silly watching sports could be -- a bunch of grown men running around trying to stop each other from getting a ball across a line or in a hoop. But it's a challenge, and overcoming challenges is an imminently human need. Life can feel like one long series of unresolved issues. Painting, sewing, jewelry-making, baking, even decorating creatively for the holidays takes us out of survival mode and into self-actualized mode. Artistic pursuits have been shown to raise children's self-esteem, partly because they allow kids to take risks and overcome small "failures" which builds tolerance to taking risks in significant areas of life-- critical to learning. And as I shared with a group of moms in L.A. yesterday in one of my favorite talks -- An Amateur Woman: How to be "In it for Love" -- when we create, we are most like God, who takes joy in making unnecessary things. The diversity of nature displays the glory of God and how he takes great pleasure in making things beautiful that could just have easily have been beige. Tomorrow, I get to teach at my home church, in the Emotionally Healthy Women Bible study, based on the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero. The study goes through the top ten symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality, and I chose to teach on "Dying to the Wrong Things." I'm going to talk about Unnecessary Craftiness as something we need to keep alive in our lives. In this lesson, Scazerro asserts that we should never apply Jesus's command to deny ourselves and follow him too rigidly, without qualification from the rest of the Bible; we are to deny sinful urges and selfishness, but not to close ourselves off to all pleasure and enjoyment. What good Father would want that for his children? Scazerro writes that you aren't meant to "disregard your unique personhood...God intends our deeper, truer self, which he created, to blossom freely as we follow him. God has endowed each of us with certain essential qualities that reflect and express him in a unique way." I struggled with anxiety and depression for nearly fifteen years, and one of the causes was that I was trying to annihilate myself and my desires, rather than express them in a healthy way. Through that long season, sewing and other creative pursuits were my release, and my way to cope with anxiety. I began to sense that God was pleased with what I made, that he wasn't throwing a flag in the air for Unnecessary Craftiness, doing something purely for pleasure. In our house, we now express God's glory through baking cakes and stitching quilts -- which we often give to others. We create new traditions and stop doing old ones that we don't like anymore. We also build furniture (my husband); up-cycle clothes from the thrift store, plant succulents in odd containers, decorate for pretty much every holiday, sing along with the radio and make up our own ridiculous songs while we're packing lunches, pair cowgirl boots with everything and further dress with a quirky, whimsical style that's all our own. This last one particularly gets noticed a lot, as I'm on stage pretty regularly, or walking around with my brave fifteen year old who rocks a pixie cut and wears pretty much all second-hand clothes. People say to us, "You're so creative." And what I say back is, "and so are you." Created in the image of God, you were made to create something unnecessary. You aren't going to get a red card for doing something fun, making something silly. Creating might turn out to be necessary for your soul after all. Moms, for more affirmation that you and your kids need craftiness, check out this link.

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