Our Creative Best–What if?

When our son Thomas was fifteen, he stopped showing me things that impressed him. He’s twenty-three now, and a couple of years ago, he said, “Mom, come here. You gotta see this.”

I hightailed it up the steps.

He was in my office watching a video. “This guy’s incredible. Look.”

(If you can’t see the video below, click here.)

Bending over Thomas’s shoulder, I studied the guitarist. He was young. Amazing. Played from his heart.

I remembered Thomas and his first guitar.

Tiny tears came.

Happy tears.

Around the time we watched the video, Thomas started playing the guitar again.

Wonder why when I see someone doing his or her creative best, it lights a fire in me?

My husband Rick’s passion is cars. The other night, he was watching TV. I was reading.

“Wow,” Rick said. “Look at this.”

(If you can’t see the video below, click here. It’s less than a minute long.)

Watching Chip Foose draw, I spotted the fascinating tools in his office. Markers, brushes, pencils.

Did he draw as a child? 

I thought about my own office, my clothesline full of characters. Sometimes I talk to them.

I ask about their lives. What brings them hope? What inspires them?

And I absolutely love notebooks and colored pens. If I don’t have any paper, a chewing gum wrapper will do.

My attraction to words started when I was young.

I’m eight, reading a Redbook magazine.

I’ve been thinking.

Surely God inspired passion in each of us when we were children.

Maybe it was to knit.

Grow gardens.

Organize stacks of chaos.

Do math problems with ease.

Bake cakes.

Perform science experiments.

Be kind to outsiders.

Sometimes the joys of childhood get buried. We forget what we once loved. 

What if He’s calling us to play from our hearts again?

 “…take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:5 The MSG




  1. I love this Julie. I have felt so compelled to encourage others to live from who they are as of late. In doing so I also know the hypocrisy of my advice…I too want to live from that child God created in me and He is encouraging me to step out in faith and live from this inner child. Thank you for encouraging us to live from our first love which is Him and to trust the direction He has formed in us. Blessings as you live and encourage.

    • So powerful, Tom. And I agree! It just began to click together in my mind and memory–that even as children, He was forming us. Designing us. Probably even before we were born.

      For His Purpose!

  2. Julie Gilleand says:

    Hi Leafy Sister 🙂

    Play from your heart, oh how I love how you said that. That boy and his guitar was just beautiful! And the artist, so talented and I’ll be it gave him great joy just doing that. My husband Rod and I went to an ice-carving festival in Michigan over our anniversary weekend and there weren’t just ice sculptures appearing around town, there were 15-minute duels! Two big blocks of ice on a platform, two people with their chainsaws, buffers and blowtorches ready for the announcer to shout “Go!”. The winner was chosen at the end by gauging the audience’s applause. I didn’t care who won, myself. I just sat there mesmerized at the artistry and how a block of ice could be transformed into a beautiful eagle and the Lego movie guy! And to see these men with their hi-power tools who you could easily picture cutting down trees or building something, instead were creating these beautiful works of art. Amazing!

    I love creativity! Growing up it was music. Choir, learning guitar and piano, talent shows, songwriting and dreaming. It was who I was. But you know how it is when life happens and takes you down other roads. But music is still my heart and is air to me. So much so that on my daily to-do list, I have “music” listed. To make sure I listen to music some part of each day because I need it as much as I need food and water and air and blood in my veins. There was a day when I took a walk and tearfully laid my music dreams down, knowing that ship had sailed. I was sad but at the same time had a peace, knowing it was time and believing that maybe someday there’d be another time for it to come back to me. Then I asked God to give me a new dream, something I could pursue quietly and enjoy. That was the day my dream to write began and was the start of a great new adventure. Music is still air to me. But writing is the way I play from my heart now.

    Thanks for sharing, from your heart today Leaf Sister,

    Other Julie G 🙂

    • Other Julie, this is so beautiful! And to get to watch ice sculptors do their thing–even to think God gave them the desire to create.

      I’m praying for you. Sounds like He’s stirring something in your heart. Keep writing. Keep listening to music. Keep singing. He’s talking to you!! I just know He is. And He has a good plan–for all of us.


    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      Julie, thank you for reminding of a way to let go of something I’ve harbored since October. My grandmother owned a beautiful organ, which she gave to me before she died. I loved playing it…well, playing around with it. We moved it from house to house, and all three of my daughters learned music with it. However, it needed repairs I couldn’t afford, and no one really played it. Plus, our house is tiny and it took a lot of space. It had become a piece of my grandmother that I didn’t want to part with. In October, we got a dumpster to rid our house and yard of unwanted items that were pulling us down. After much nagging, my family talked me into getting rid of the organ. I had to walk down the road while they put it in the dumpster. Many tears ensued, every time I looked where it had stood. I truly planned to play it – someday – but “that ship had sailed.” I know, now, to pray for peace to accept that. Maybe playing my dad’s guitar will help me do so. (See my comment below.)

      • Cathy, what a story–felt it in my heart as I read it. So, it sounds like you can play the guitar??? okay, going to find your other comments below….

  3. Anna Haney says:

    I am guilty of letting a lot of creative outlets from my youth fade as I grow older. I used to read constantly, write episodes of my favorite shows, journal, play piano. But as technology has come in and I’ve gotten busy with my job and, well, lazy, I no longer do those. And I miss that. Thanks for this reminder

    • Anna, as I’m sitting here praying and pondering, I’m wondering if there’s a way each of us can use what God placed in us as children–even now–to encourage others? I had no idea you were musical!!

      Let me know if this inspires something new in you.

      Creativity. Just blows me away!

      Hope you have a good Wednesday.

  4. Brenda E. Greene says:

    You conjured up some sweet memories here Julie Girl…not just once but a couple of them!

    Several summer’s ago I read a devotional about revisiting childhood books that we loved and re-read them…kinda like what you’ve done here. A wonderful “memory” for me was the bookmobile that would come to our house during the summer months (we had a large circular driveway) and my friends and I would climb on board to “smell the written words” and find new books to explore! I still love that smell…even though I have an electronic device, I still have to hold and “smell and read a real one” occasionally! I remembered an author that I loved back then, found several of her books and spent that summer reliving those stories…it was exhilarating!

    I was 12 years old again, lying on my bed reading about a young girl in Florida (or other states that needed her family’s help in harvesting crops). I could relate as it was my responsibility to help my Mama harvest her garden and prepare the noon meal for my Dad, brother, and other employees who worked for us (we owned a motorcycle shop) and clean up afterwards. My reward was a return to reading my latest book! Reading became my passion but over the years with a young and growing family it moved to the back burner…retirement has reignited that passion!

    Thanks for the reminder…and the permission to “do it again”! Keep writing Sweet Julie and we’ll keep reading as many of your followers must have had the same childhood passion as me! Love and prayers! Brenda

    • Brenda, you and are are/were so much alike!! I think I could be happy (well, at least survive) in prison, if I had books. And yes, I love the real things the best–not electronic versions.

      Loved reading about your childhood. Ohhh, yes, return to your passion of WORDS. With all your heart.

  5. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Oh, wow, Julie…just, wow.

    You can’t imagine how this bombarded me with memories, how it mirrored my thoughts of the half hour before I went to your page, how it helped to answer my plea to the Holy Spirit for guidance.

    First, the memories. My dad played the guitar, and when he died, my mother gave his guitar to me. Eight years later, I still haven’t played it. Sometimes, I take it out and caress the polished wood, trying for the connection I need. This year, I decided I would re-learn how and once more hear my dad’s voice singing. I’ve yet to do it, though; grief grips my chest with the thought. But today, I will. Thank you.

    The Holy Spirit’s answer. For many people, Lent brings a desire for a sacrifice, something to bring Jesus’ ultimate gift close. Years ago, during the “What would Jesus do?” fad, with its WWJD bracelets and T-shirts, my daughters and I read In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon, the classic WWJD tale. We talked about the things people were doing to match their WWJD attire. Most, however, fulfilled the cause with, “What wouldn’t Jesus do?” – not with what He would do. Lent becomes a time for the same thing – don’t eat sugar, don’t watch TV. Sacrifices? Yes, but I wanted to “do” something symbolizing the one Jesus made on the cross.

    In my journal, I asked the Holy Spirit what to do. “’What would Jesus do?’ He would heal the sick, feed the hungry, soothe the hurting.” Okay, but how can I do these things? What sacrifice can I make? The Spirit went on, “He would tell His story of the wonders and majesty of a loving God.” So, I write? “Yes, tell the stories I’ve given you.” But how is this a sacrifice, except maybe the time involved?

    And now I know. My perfectionism and pessimism over my abilities keeps me from doing the thing I want most to do. You’ve given me the permission to do my “creative best” and to do it with abandon. “What would Jesus do?” He’s already done it. Thank you, Julie.

    • Cathy, I can hardly breathe now–your precious words.

      YES, MY FRIEND. WRITE AND PLAY WITH ALL YOUR HEART. This honors Him!!! You’re free to have fun!!!!


      • Cathy Mayfield says:

        Just a little note – I DID take my dad’s guitar out of its case, checked the tuning, and decided to learn to play fingerstyle, like the young man in your post. I always wanted to learn that, but didn’t know where to start. I found lots of free lessons and You-Tube tutorials on the Internet!! I sort of forgot what time it was…my husband came home from work to find me still pickin’!

        • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!


          I’m so stinkin’ proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          I’m jumping around in my heart!!!! Singing and dancing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Beautiful, Julie. I loved writing poems when I was little. I never once thought writing would be so important to me. 🙂

    What creates motivation? Others definitely inspire me.

    • And Shelli, I’ve never attempted to write poetry–though I love it (and love those who do!).

      I’m drawn to people like you (and my readers) who sometimes tiptoe back to childhood and let God talk to them.

      Write On!

  7. When I was young I excelled at spelling bees and loved English classes. I did not do well in algebra, history, geology, foreign languages, or even physical education. I struggled mightily with math all through school. And go figure, I’m the accounting manager/financial controller at our small business. I’ve learned that when I don’t know, I hire others (like a payroll company), or ask others (like my certified accountant) for help. But this I do know: I love words. So I’m a writer! But I didn’t delve into my passion until I was 40. I sure am glad I did, though, because through writing, I became friends with you. Hugs!

    • You and me both, B.J. I was 40 too!!! I didn’t know that about you. And God knew we needed each other’s friendship, so just at the right time, He brought us together.

      I’m so impressed with your accounting skills!

  8. marci says:

    Oh, Julie, God has given you such a gift– to help each of us reading your writings see exactly what we need to see. You make us dig deep sometimes, and the things that come to mind, that you inspire in us! It is easy to lose our dreams at times. Life happens. Busyness happens. And sometimes (for me and I think maybe for others?) Sometimes loved ones dreams take priority and ours get lost, or smothered along the way. But God has a way of keeping the seed alive doesn’t he? .. On this day, Ash Wednesday, it is a day to ponder, — what to do for Lent. So often it is the focus of what to give up, but I think, especially after reading your writing, that it is also a good time to recover the dream God gave us, the passion he instilled in us, even if it has been sleeping for years. As I read your words and so many others – what they shared, I was so touched and able to relate. When I read about the organ being put in the dumpster, I could almost cry – as there have been things I have been talked into giving up that meant a lot to me.
    Writing– it is almost like breathing. I always have a pad of paper, note book, etc to write in. Sometimes even carrying a sm pencil and folded paper in my pocket– you know, for those times when there is something I just have to write down. I won’t even say how many theme books, blank books/ journals I have. I have a weakness of getting them, and those who know me, have also given me journals, and I have given journals. This past week, while in WW, I saw a journal with a cover just like one I had as a child, (silvercolored), with fond memories, as I had gotten it as a prize in Sunday School. I felt God would forgive me, for the little splurg of getting it. Maybe I can fill it with fond childhood memories. Sometimes, it is so good to look back to our childhoods, to find our dreams. What did we love doing? What did we enjoy? I, like you loved to read, and always had a story some where in me.
    I think– thanks in part to your inspiration, I hope in these weeks of Lent, to ponder and with God’s help, discover more about who God intends me to be, and what He wants me to do– in this chapter of my life.

    Thank you Julie,
    God Bless,

    • Marci, how can I respond to such beautiful words?

      Humbled. In awe……

      You know, last night, I went to bed thinking, I really should’ve related this post to Lent–along the same lines as you talked about. And even if I missed it and boo-booed, God is still speaking. I love that about Him.

      I’m sooo happy you got yourself a journal–even with the same color as you used when you were a little girl. Worth millions to you, I know. I become BFFS with my journals.

      Wishing we were porch partyin’ right now.

      Write On!

  9. Eileen says:

    Another beautifully written post, Julie! Growing up I loved writing stories. I would spend hours in my room writing away with my pen and paper. Your clothesline of characters reminded me of how I would cut my characters out of the Sears catalog when writing my stories. I also loved drawing. I mostly drew the Charlie Brown characters. But, as I grew, got married and started raising a family, I let that creativity wane. xxo

    • Eileen, your pictures–your gorgeous pictures and posts. Your creativity is still there!

      Ohhhhhhh, and the Sears catalog. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Was there anything more wonderful?! You cut characters out of the catalog. I love that! Wish I’d thought of it way back when.

      Hmmmmmm……what if you started drawing again? And writing stories? I have a feeling there’s a lot of beauty in your heart, my friend.

  10. Margaret says:


    A lovely and meaningful post and a cute photo of Master Thomas with his loyal audience of one Lab.


    • Thank you, Margaret. Cooper was gorgeous, wasn’t he! Clyde, our yellow Lab we have now…well, he has a heart of gold. xoxoxoxox

  11. Patricia Martin says:

    I love the picture of Thomas and the sweet looking family dog!((: Just today, I was doing my schoolwork when I saw my Mom teaching my younger sister. It brought a flood of memories from when I was homeschooled and struggled with the same math problems and enjoyed the same subjects. (); I feel like I am getting old.(): how is your novel coming along? Have you chosen a title? What publishing company are you working with? I just borrowed a great book from my sister called Dumpling Days by Grace Lin and it is all about the author’s visit to her family’s home country of Tawain. In that country, asking if someone is hungry is the same as saying hello (lol)! Hope you and your family are doing well.

    • Hey, Patricia! I wondered how’d you feel about this post–since you’re a tad younger than I am. 🙂

      My novel. Well, I send it to my agent earlier this month. Much rewriting has been done. Just waiting and trusting and letting go. 🙂 The novel you’re reading sounds amazing.

      And Math? I always struggled with it. There was only one right answer. How dull!

      Hugs from cold GA–15 this morning here! xoxoxox

  12. Love this , Julie . I forwarded it to my son, a recent college grad, who started playing guitar a year or so ago. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Oh, thank you, Beverly. Such an honor–for a gifted writer like you to pass along my post.

      Blessings, my friend. Wish we were hangin’ out today–talking about WORDS. 🙂

  13. I came on Wednesday to read and was so absorbed in the videos and your message, I clicked away without commenting! When my boys were small, I noticed how many things about their childhood, helped me recall and engage in loves I had from my own younger years. Simple things like swinging on a swing, blowing bubbles, running through a sprinkler when its how outside, etc. Each year they advance, I feel like I am trying to remember what I loved, and what they might relate to also. I still think I have things I have yet to remember that I loved to do! Thank you for jump- starting me to keep looking!

    • What beautiful thoughts, Vicky. You and I loved some of the same things as children–probably as adults too.

      So honored to discover you’re going to keep looking back to relate to your boys!

      Love you much!

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