Radiant Joy Blog


Embracing Creativity’s Transformative Power in Times of Change

Introduction: Creativity, a trait shared with the Divine Creator (Gen. 1:26), offers remarkable healing and adaptation capabilities as we navigate life’s changes. Just like children, we can tap into the resilience and wonder that creativity brings. Whatever form it takes, unleashing our creativity can work wonders in our lives. Yet many of us put off “creative play” when we feel stressed, busy, or down. It’s time to embrace a different approach: prioritize creativity and experience the transformative effects it can bring.

Creative Play and Creative Thoughts: When we are enjoying creative play, we are more childlike. We experiment. We honor how we feel in the moment. We select colors, costumes, materials, or ingredients we like the most. We do it for our own enjoyment, because it feels good or it’s fun. We innocently and non-judgmentally try new ideas. “What if?” Is part of the process. “As the Jesus says in Mt. 18:3 (NIV), ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” If you have children or grandchildren, you know how they delight in creative play of all sorts.

When we are creating something, thoughts are materializing, creating things. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” (goodreads.com/shotes/978). Everything around us began as a thought: God’s creation, and our food, clothing, shelter, as well as dishes, rugs, artwork, etc. Our thoughts also create: our choices, our emotions, our moods, behavior, and our creative output, be that someone’s favorite meal, a cozy den, a vegetable or flower garden, poetry or prose, a presentation, performance and visual art, or a knitted scarf! Dance, painting, writing, making a vision board—these are just a few examples of creativity that can very therapeutically allow our thoughts and feelings to express themselves.

Embracing Peace and the Power of Presence: In various instances, the Bible emphasizes the significance of cultivating a state of tranquility and peace. One standout example is in the story of the sisters Mary and Martha in Bethany. While Mary chose to be present, at ease, sitting at Jesus’ feet, Martha became entangled in preparations and obligations. When Martha asked Jesus to intervene, he didn’t admonish Martha’s actions. Instead, he pointed out that her state of mind was burdened with anxiety, worry, and excessive details. (See Luke 10:41 (ESV and NLT.)

Regardless of circumstances, the Lord’s desire is for us to be filled with joy, peace, and hope through our unwavering trust in the “God of hope.” (Romans 8:15, NIV) Moreover, the Lord encourages us to elevate our thoughts, focusing on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8, NIV) By embracing calmness and peace, we can experience a remarkable transformation and discover the power of living in the present moment. And creativity can usher us into that state!

In the process of engaging in creative activities, we not only experience the joy and peace that comes from trusting in the “God of hope” (Romans 8:15/NIV), but we also have the opportunity to discover more about ourselves and find solutions to lingering questions or problems. Creativity has a way of activating different parts of our brain, leading to spontaneous insights and inspiration.

Creativity may be something you engage in precisely for some of those benefits; or the benefits may come as a byproduct of entering into creative activity. I’ve experienced and written a book about both.

A Personal Anecdote to Show This Unfolding: During a period when I was juggling a demanding three-quarter time law practice and raising two young children, I found myself constantly overwhelmed and burdened by guilt for not being able to devote as much time to my children’s school activities as other parents. Comparing myself to others only added to my stress, and I constantly judged and criticized myself for not being “enough.”

However, one day I seized the rare opportunity to assist my fourth-grader’s teacher in creating a quilt from the children’s artwork for a school fundraiser. Since sewing was a skill I possessed, I decided to volunteer my time for the project. Little did I know that this simple act would ignite a deep interest in quilting within me.

I soon found that quilting was a creative pastime with many benefits. Patchwork felt meditative and calming: sewing small pieces of fabric together in a pre-determined way but with freedom to choose color combinations and vary them from block-to-block. The process created a simple sense of rhythm and focus.

There was a family benefit, too. I did this sewing at the dining room table, where the kids would sit with me and talk about their days or dreams. Before long, they started collecting fabric scraps and made blankets for their dolls, and we collaborated on some quilts. (As adults, both still enjoy creative sewing!) We ventured into art quilts, and they got into designing motifs (even making an appliqué of Jesus on the cross).

How Creativity Helped Alleviate My Distress During an Uncertain Time: At one point, our family didn’t know where we’d be living the following year: Orinda, CA; Sydney, Australia; or Hong Kong. We visited the far-off locations, applied to a Hong Kong school, looked at housing there, and hoped for a way to be together, because my husband’s Asian work demands, and we were in Northern California without him quite often. Blessedly, my stress and anxiety was relieved through making a series of art quilts. I wrote a chapter about the process in my book, Reap As You Sew: Spirit at Work in Quiltmaking (Westbow, 2014). As with the stories of all the quilters in the book, the chapter ends with practical steps along a spiritual creative path.

If you’re facing a decision and wish to discern an answer, pray for divine assistance in the discernment process before you start creating. Try creating a quilt, collage, painting, drawing, story—whatever you like—about the state of not knowing or about alternatives. Pay attention to what speaks to you as most important, or what attracts or repels you. Follow your intuition or Spirit’s guidance. Be open to pros and cons as you create and to doors that open and close in your outer world. Check in with your body to see if it has messages for you.

The photo below may give you an idea of my struggle about whether to live, as show in my Hong Oridney quilt (2002, 52” x 49”). It juxtaposes the Orinda Theater marquee, the Sydney Opera House, and the Hong Kong clock tower, and the wall of the Hong Kong Cultural Center. I asked my husband’s Chinese colleague to write for me in kanji, “What does the future hold?” and I embroidered that in the lower left. (We ended up staying in Orinda, by the way, and there were other positive changes in my husband’s career, so it all worked out according to


My next blog post will discuss my experience of being captivated by the Sydney Opera House, which sparked the creation of a quilt, a poem, and a revelation of important self-discovery. Click here to see it. For even more encouragement to create, I still have for sale a limited number of copies of my book, Reap As You Sew: Spirit at Work in Quiltmaking, with the full chapter containing the steps along a spiritual creative path discussed here, plus other chapters featuring quilters of various faiths and styles.

I hope you’re encouraged to explore your own creative outlets often, but especially during times of change, stress, or uncertainty. For there is great potential for healing and personal growth through creativity that expresses yourself and helps to bring you peace, tranquility and, I hope, radiant joy!


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