Living A Simple Life-Part 21 (Fostering Creativity)

Simple Thurs

Welcome to Part 21 of my Living A Simple Life series!  To read previous posts, click on the “Simple Living Series” tab at the top of the blog page.  (Hmm… I think I need to go back and give these real titles, instead of just numbers…)  I post a new “installment” each Thursday.

The other evening, Calvin and I were contemplating the idea of creativity.  I had been reading the book The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule, and loved all the inspiration she provided for encouraging creativity in the home.  
We came to two conclusions:
  1. Creativity is a gift from God, and should be nurtured, as we use our gifts for His glory.
  2. Simplicity begets Creativity.  

Frugality, practicality (space issues!), as well as our personal ethics have determined our choice not to buy a large assortment of toys for Gen.  Thankfully, she also has caring grandparents, whose gifts have shown their understanding of these desires as well.

When I sorted through Gen’s toys this past weekend, we put up a toy organizer (given to us at her baby shower!), which we’ve stored since receiving it.  (It’s similar to this one.)  It was nice to see an assortment of basic items that encourage creativity.  Included in the bins are wooden blocks, silky fabric scraps, a couple musical items, and some handmade toys.  (We have a bookshelf in the living room for her books.)  She also has recently discovered the joy of crayons!  (I have been so excited for this stage!)  
The joys have been twofold.  Not only are these toys inspiring creativity in our daughter, the idea of “simplicity begets creativity” began with us, as parents.  For example, when sewing gifts for the holidays last year, I sewed a cloth rattle ball for her first birthday.  I was inspired to use what I had on hand, in order to create a gift for her.  
As Calvin improvises new songs (and sings old favorites), Gen loves to sing and dance along with him.  When we regularly sing with her, we encourage her to freely dance, and “make a joyful noise to God.”  I often hear her humming a song she has made up, as she digs in flower pots, browses through a book, or carries a baby doll around.  
We’re not filling our home with the latest distracting entertainment/toy options (for any of us.) We have chosen to focus on discovering the gifts God has given us.  I have noticed that Gen’s attention span is incredibly longer, when she is engrossed in creating/pretending, instead of sitting in front of an “entertaining” toy. 
When visiting others, she typically hops from one toy to another, not fully interested in most of them.  Yet, when we get home, she clammers to go outside (where there are no “toys”), so that she can dig in the dirt, “cook” (stir) in the watering cans, pick leaves, squish tomatoes (um, I was hoping to eat that), dance in the rain, and just watch bugs crawl.  She will stay out there for hours, if I let her.  
Nor are Calvin and I spending time and money on disposable “hobby” materials any longer.  We have learned a contentment with what we have, as well as reinstating that sense of childhood creativity.  Remember the joy of doodling on paper, plunking out made-up songs, writing elaborate compositions, planting/picking in the yard, mixing things in the kitchen, watching soap bubbles in the tub, tearing out collages from catalogs, and sewing up fabric scraps?  These joys don’t have to disappear with adulthood! 
This creativity extends to the home, as well.  I can create the homey, welcoming environment of my dreams without ordering the latest “collection” from a catalog.  A stack of well-worn board games (finds from garage sales) on the bookshelf, a basket of teas, fluffy pillows and homemade blankets, an assortment of library books, a few candles and family photos in thrift store frames speak home to me.  
Covers for old pillows are easily stitched/embroidered (fabrics can be found inexpensively at thrift stores, or re-use old clothes), broken crayons can be melted into candles (using used birthday candles for the wicks), and a basket of fruit frugally accessorizes the kitchen.  

“After much soul-searching, I made a conscious decision to stop waiting for that mythical dream home and begin implementing the many ideas I had been collecting for so long. To my surprise, I found that- instead of being a hindrance- the limits of my time, talent, funds, and location actually generated artful solutions that I would never have dared to try (or even thought of) otherwise.” 

Choosing to live simply means that I can focus on what God has given me today, and take joy in today.  I am not living with my heart in “the future,” and ignoring all that I have now.  I am not comparing myself or my home to others; I can learn to glorify God in new ways just by looking to Him.  Often, what seems to be simple sparseness can actually turn out to be simply abundant!

If you would like to add my “Simple Living” button to your blog, feel free to copy the code located on the right side of the blog page.  Let me know if you do, so that I can visit your blog!
I would love to hear how you simply incorporate creativity in your home!  You can leave a note in the comments, or write about this on your blog (and then leave the link to it in the comments).  
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