On Creativity: More Thoughts on an Intriguing Question

Picking up from the last, unfinished post…

So, my own personal answer that popped up reflexively inside my head when I heard the question “What is the most creative thing you’ve ever done?” It was…


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“Having a baby!”

But immediately I wondered why, because I hadn’t really created anything then at all. I’d even heard of women who didn’t know they were pregnant until they started giving birth. And you don’t have much choice once that starts happening, do you? It. just. happens.

Yet, as I typed all the dictionary entries below into the last post, it finally struck me. Look at the definitions for “create,” and “creator”:

creativity : the quality of being creative : the ability to create

creative : marked by the ability to create : given to creating : having the quality of something created rather than imitated : IMAGINATIVE

create 1 : to bring into existence <God created the heaven and the earth -Genesis 1:1 (AV)> … 4 a : to produce through imaginative skill : DESIGN

creator : one that creates, usu by bringing something new or original into being: esp, cap : GOD*

The designer/creator (Creator) of that baby I gave birth to surely wasn’t me. However, in no other event in my life was I so closely, so intimately involved in God’s actual bringing forth “into existence,” “into being” something new and original—and in this case living and human to boot! Now the more I think about that, the more staggered I get! What a breathtaking privilege!

There is, indeed, something so awe-evoking about birth itself, even of baby goats or sheep or cows, that I’ve heard more than one long-time veterinarian say, no matter how often they’ve witnessed it, it still awes them the next time they see it happen.

I’m thinking of how witnessing the birth of any of our goats (here on the funny farm) always  affected me.   It stunned me into silence, and a deep sense of not only awe but… well, I believe, humility. Sensing the enormity of, and the infinite divine involvement in, the creation process for anything living made me step back, feeling comparatively very, very small.

Now, as I write, I also think personally that either experiencing or witnessing birth can give one a greater appreciation for the creative process that brings forth any new thing into existence–and a greater humility about one’s own part in that process as well—plus, if we are perceptive and humble enough, a greater awed gratitude that we are so privileged as to be partners with God in that process, the creative laborers through whom He works.

Right now I’m remembering a writers’ conference I attended where the fifty-something keynote speaker began her talk by announcing, “I’m pregnant!” Of course this caught everyone’s attention, but she then went on to explain how she was pregnant with an idea for her next novel, and to liken the whole process of authoring a book to gestation and giving birth.

It’s an apt and useful analogy. When we get inspired to create any new thing:—a story, a painting or sculpture, a new weaving or clothing design—why and how does the mysterious process happen? Surely this is a gift from the Creator, allowing us to echo and reflect Him, even though still dependent on His provision of the abilities and even the materials for it all to happen.

I hope I remain so impressed about this that I can’t pick up a pen or computer keyboard,  or a handful of collage materials or bits of fabric or yarn, without getting a little breathless at the privilege God is giving me, and the grace by which He is enabling me to follow through on a… “creation.” And I pray that He gives any creative women reading this the same flood of awe.


As a footnote, several scripture passages that point out God’s gifting of and working through human individuals rush into my mind. Additionally, last evening, as Husband and I read the final chapter of 1 Chronicles together after dinner, I saw a wonderful example of how not only the ability to echo His creativity, but also the materials with which to do it, come ultimately from Him alone. To read any of the passages below, just hover your cursor over the reference, and if you want to see more of its context, click on the reference:

Exodus 35:30-33, 34-35, 25-26; 36:1-2,8 [Throughout this and surrounding chapters the phrase “gifted artisans” occurs repeatedly.]

1 Chronicles 29:9-12,13-15,16-18

Colossians 1:24-25, 29

Philippians 2:12-13 {Note: the Greek word translated “work” in verse 12 and the one translated “works” in verse 13 are not the same word at all. I hope to write a post some time about this awesome synergy.]

Ecclesiastes 3:10-13; 5:19







*Merriam Webster’s  Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition

Word of the Week: Creativity (a Few Thoughts and a Question about it)

creativity 1 : the quality of being creative 2 : the ability to create

creative : marked by the ability to create : given to creating : having the quality of something created rather than imitated : IMAGINATIVE

create 1 : to bring into existence <God created the heaven and the earth -Genesis 1:1 (AV)> … 4 a : to produce through imaginative skill : DESIGN

creator : one that creates, usu by bringing something new or original into being: esp, cap : GOD*

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be created in the image of God, and I think a great deal of it has to do with creativity.

On my mind also is a question about it from the past that keeps coming back to me, repeating. So I repeat it to you, asking…

“What is the most creative thing you’ve ever done?”

I heard it many years ago from several women enthusiastically about to embark on a small group study of Genesis. It was the warm-up question for them to consider before their study began. I was unable to attend the study (though I must say my interest, like theirs, was definitely sparked by that question). So I never found out what their individual answers were, because they were supposed to keep them hush-hush until the first day’s discussion. But a definite reflexive answer popped up in my mind immediately.

Since most of you, my readers, are women, I wonder if the same answer pops up for any of you. (I would love to find out in the comments.)

So I think I’ll leave the rest this post unfinished for a day or two to give you a chance to think about your own answer, and I’ll pick up with my answer and a few of my thoughts about it.

Until then… Happy creative thinking!


*Merriam Webster’s  Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition

Day 30 Found Wisdom: On Seed(ling) Planting

Last Sunday I had the chance to attend a worship service in an old, very Germanic looking Lutheran church. It was more of an opportunity than I’d guessed it would be, for I hadn’t realized the day was Reformation Sunday, commemorating Martin Luther’s pounding those 95 theses on that Wittenburg church door 501 years ago and setting in motion a massive change in history and the church itself.

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

To start off with “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” accompanied by the big pipe organ, full choir, and complete (and accomplished) brass ensemble, and the sanctuary full of people singing: how wonderful that was! Not only because of that, but also the truths expressed in the commentary and sermon, it was a very moving service for me.

So later in the week, as I was sorting through bits of wisdom and wise sayings I’d cut out of books and magazines or jotted down in my journal, I was struck by what one of them quoted Martin Luther as saying. It’s here, first in this trio of quotes:

Do you find his comment as remarkable as I do: that this world changer would see such importance in such a small thing as planting an apple tree, especially if the world was about to go to pieces?

But then the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much his nailing of those theses was a seed- (or seedling-) planting. He never realized when he was doing that what all would grow out of it!

Nor do we with the little seeds we might plant each day: seeds of wisdom, of understanding, of care and concern, of kindness or creativity, of a word fitly spoken at just the needed moment.

So now I see it as very fitting to be winding down our 31 Days with a post about this, for aren’t all these bits and bobs of wisdom and commentary but seeds, scattered now into the air? What will happen because of them will depend partly on what you and I do with them–or, what they will do with us.  Will one of them change your life in some small, or large, way? Will one of them stick in your mind or heart and come forth just when someone else needs an insight or encouragement it expresses?

Who knows? God does, but we can’t even guess. So, as we finish out 2018 with November and December, and prepare to welcome another new year–or era–let’s not forget the importance of planting seeds, right when and where we are.


Only one more post to go! And I will also (finally!) be putting up a page listing links to all 31 posts for this “Found Wisdom” project, and a link to that master page will appear at the top of my home page, for if you should want to reconnect with any of the individual posts in the future.


Day 29 Found Wisdom: Inspiration or Motivation?

I keep running into paradoxes in these “wise sayings” I’ve been collecting. Lots of times the two seemingly conflicting “words of the wise” have come from the same book of quotes. But they’ve never appeared on the same page. I’m the one who’s been doing that. 

Like today, with the two below…

(but we’ll get to them later…)

Truth is, I like paradoxes. I think they stimulate my brain. Especially in the creative thinking area. 

This is a good attitude to have, I learn, as I read “Seven Secrets to Unleashing Your Inner Genius” in the Time Magazine special issue on The Science of Creativity that we looked at yesterday. In fact, “Key Number 5” is “Embrace opposing forces.”

The idea is to discover how so-called dichotomies may “not really be dichotomies at all.” I think this is an especially rich thing to do with seemingly conflicting scriptures. Some of my deepest biblical insights have come from wrestling with such things till I find the harmony.

But back to the paradox at hand, the tension between the two seemingly opposing points on what stirs creativity and keeps it rolling. Is it the desire to reach a goal, sell a client on an idea, or just maintain self-discipline in keeping up a good work ethic? Or, is it, on the other hand, giving yourself freedom to dilly-dally, mind-wander, or just chill out?

The answer is, yes.

To both.

Paradox. But not dichotomy.

According to Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, a researcher and psychologist who has “spent years studying humanity’s unique penchant for innovation,” the Number 1 key to help unlock your own innate creative potential is this one:


“Don’t force inspiration.

“Sometimes you have a deadline that compels you to be creative, or a task that requires some imaginative elements. But focusing on goal-driven production may back-fire. ‘Inspiration is not something willed. It’s hard to wake up in the morning and say, “Im going to be inspired today.” The more you try to force it, the less likely you are to start. You need to create a space for people to discover things about themselves.'”

(I also have to insert something here about how I’ve thought of the inspiration that comes from God: It is “God breathed.” And that we can’t force, but only ask and wait for.)

So Dr. Kaufman’s related Key #6 is “Let your mind wander,,,”. But His Number 7 Key is “…But home in,” in which he emphasizes the value of focused mindfulness. 

So which comes first, the (self) motivation or the inspiration? And which keeps us going? I always thought of inspiration coming first, but I think it may be preceded by a lot of mind-wandering, day-dreaming, cloud-watching… you know. Then something happens, some little observation, and something clicks in the mind, and a whole lot of things coalesce, and that inspiration becomes the foundation of sometimes astounding things to come. A later article in this same special edition tells about the “Eureka” moments that produced Einstein’s theory of relativity (seeing Bern, Switzerland’s medieval clock tower as he rode by in a streetcar); Phil Farnsworth’s invention of the TV (by his plowing a potato field, at age 14, going back and forth, back and forth): George deMestral’s invention of Velcro (by returning from walking his dog in a burr-filled woods and later examining one of the burrs stuck to his pants. And so on.

It seems like it might be good to include here Einstein’s own definition of creativity:

Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

So have a little fun!


Day 28 Found Wisdom: On Your Aging Brain

I was just passing by the magazine section of the bookstore, on my way to the “rest room.” I hadn’t intended to look at magazines at all. But this Time special edition caught my eye.

The whole topic of creativity was one I’d been reading about, and learning interesting bits of “found wisdom.” (I mentioned some of them early in this series.)

Plus, I suppose this subtitle had a special draw:

After all, I’m an aging person. So I’ve got an aging brain. And I’ve been so fired up lately to pursue creativity. Is this a foolhardy notion?

There’s a whole chapter on this in this book posing as a mere magazine. And look at what new findings it talks about:

I don’t know how you react to that statement, but I think it’s stunning. After all we’ve been led to believe! As the article itself relates:

“Until quite recently, most researchers believed the human brain followed a fairly predictable developmental arc… It… reached its peak of power and nimbleness by age 40. After that, [it] began a slow decline, clouding up little by little until, by age 70 or 80, it had lost much of its ability to retain new information and was fumbling with what it had… That, as it turns out is hooey.”

It goes on to report that neurologists and psychologists are now concluding that the brain during the years from 35 to 65 “and even beyond–is much more elastic and supple than anyone ever realized.”

I just can’t help but wonder if some of those “old folks” did realize it, but no one else wanted to believe it.

What scientists are reporting is that though aging can bring about in some people “inflexibility, confusion, and even later-life dementia,” for many other people the aging process actually makes the brain work better! And it mentions some of the examples of continued creative productivity beyond the age of 70 that we should perhaps have paid more attention to, like Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Doris Lessing. (There are lots more, really.)

The article quotes UCLA neurologist George Bartzokis, who explains, “In midlife [increasingly considered to include up to age 65] you’re beginning to maximize the ability to use the entirety of the information in your brain on an everyday, ongoing, second-to-second basis. Biologically, that’s what wisdom is.”

So, I guess there was something all along to the idea of the “wise old man” or “wise old woman.”

There’s way too much information for me to relate here in a short blog post, but it involves things like the importance of not “gray matter,” but “white matter” increasing in the higher brain regions (where the “seat of sophisticated thought” is), and the use of a different hemisphere of the brain (or both hemispheres–“similar to the way you need both hands to lift a weight that you could lift with one hand when you were younger”). Changes in the brain as we age also may improve temperament in many people, which enables them to take a more mature demeanor to the the table and to deal more ably in people relationships.

Well, I love this “new” wisdom about wisdom, and creativity, relative to age. What encouragement to pursue learning, creativity, and interrelating with others, even into whatever ancient age God may enable me to reach! It makes me think of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, who figured out all those complex crime schemes nobody else could, when the people around her who didn’t know better just thought of her as an inept, doddering old maid. It also brought to mind this quote I’d found in my book of sayings:

And I smile.