I was standing in the kitchen today getting ready to start work, making a cup of coffee and eating a banana when I realized something. My routine just before I start writing. Stand in the kitchen, make a cup of coffee, eat a banana… and stare at the painting above my coat closet.
That is a very special picture. When I was teaching full time, I had the privilege of seeing the same students in my middle school English classes for two years in a row, sometimes twice a day. You form a bond when that happens. Late this past summer, one of my former students–a beautiful soul with a heart that loves big in a way I envy–texted me and asked a few questions about my favorite things. Then, in early November, she walked into yearbook and handed me this. Now, I don’t cry in front of people, so she didn’t get to see the tears that came later. I was stunned. This may be the most beautiful, amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life. She took her precious time to put her precious heart on canvas… for me. She painted me on canvas.
It’s what’s in the center that stops me every morning. Like I said, every morning, while I eat a banana, I look at the picture hanging in my kitchen, the first thing you see when you come in my back door.
Christ at the center. Christ at the center of the story of my life.
Christ at the center of the book.
When I sit down to write, Christ should always be at the center. Always. I’m starting to think I should move this picture and hang it over my desk, but then I’d be the only one to see it and that wouldn’t be cool.
Last summer, I read Allen Arnold’s blog on Novel Rocket, Your Beautiful, Rowdy Story. I fell in love with it. Read it a dozen times in a row. Printed it out and now it lives under the big notebook on my desk, to be read as needed. But attached to that post was a prayer for Consecrating Your Creativity. The moment I read it, I knew this was the way I wanted my life to play out. I had a poster made, and it hangs low on my office door. Every single time I start a novel–or every single time I feel like I can’t write another word and it’s time to go feed rabid alligators–I get on my knees and pray that prayer. If you’re any sort of creative type, read it. Now. Pray it. Now.
There’s one more picture, hanging right above my desk. A framed verse that I bought the very month God said it was time to take this writing thing seriously:
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.
–Ephesians 6:19 (NIV)
Lord, may it be so, that everything I write points back to you.
Christ at the center of everything we do, say, and create. Always. Every day.
Even when we’re going bananas. 😉