For months, now, this little shred of snatched, torn paper has been taped beside my bathroom mirror:
I taped it there, because it is just one way I challenge myself to use the gifts God has given me. A gift is not a gift until it is given - and you always have to start right where you are in the giving.
God has gifted me to encourage, exhort, and "prophesy" destiny into the hearts of people - and just one vehicle I employ to use that gift, is through my art and jewelry designs.
Pour yourself a cup of whatever blows your dress up, because I have quite a story to tell you.
I really am a jewelry designer to a rock star...and not just any rock star...the biggest rock star alive today.
And that all began with two other women who chose to use their gifts.
The first woman is my friend (truly, my friend) Jeanne Oliver.
She could have, at one time, decided her gifts weren't "enough". She could have sat on her talents...because she started out like anyone else. No one begins at the end...we all begin at the beginning.
But Jeanne began by making stuff. At first (by her own account) she sometimes made stuff badly. However, as time went by (and it always will) she discovered she had a gift. And she believed it was given to her by God.
Today, she has created one of the most thriving, lovely online (and "in real life") creative communities you can find.
I discovered Jeanne and her gifts about 4 years ago, and I am so grateful to her for using them. It was in the safety of her (then small) online creative community that I took my first online art lessons...then jewelry making classes...
...I painted my first paintings to raise money to send some teenagers on a mission trip. I made my first jewelry designs for my own daughters. Then, I made jewelry for my friends.
I am sure some people wondered why I even bothered.
After all...you are always "just you"....until you're not.
Any artist is "just ordinary"...until they're not. (Hint: support the artists that speak to your soul...they may be struggling today...and they will be struggling for recognition...until they're not.)
So, in using my gifts to bless those in my immediate sphere, I exploded. I exploded, artistically, and even spiritually. Did I ever explode. The explosion was God's doing. I was an explosion waiting to happen - as most women in mid-life are! But I will always be grateful to Jeanne for playing her part in what was my creative "Becoming".
The other friend I want to tell you about is a new friend. Her name is Amy Crews
And she is, hands down, the best "natural realism" artist I have ever seen. Do check out her oil paintings of flowers, bird's nests, eggs...and more. The detail, and near photo-realism she gives to her subjects will leave you breathless, if you are at all a lover of great art.
Amy has, obviously, used her gifts for a very long time. She has worked very hard for many years, and Amy didn't quit. But she is just like anyone else in the sense that she began at the beginning.
Yet she kept going. And she got really, really skilled at what she does.
And this is where it gets good, because she and I met through Jeanne Oliver's FREE online class entitled "Becoming || The Unfolding of You", where I was a featured presenter.
See the ripple effect? See the pollination, and cross-pollination of dreams that can happen when women stop competing and comparing, and start celebrating one another?
A few months ago, Amy asked me to participate with her...to collaborate...first on one jewelry design (still available - but they are a limited edition, and more than half gone, so hurry!)
...and then she got the wild idea to take one of her iris paintings and create a necklace for Bono.
As in the Bono. Of U2.
Only the biggest rock star alive today...for reals.
And I said, "Why not?"
Because I'm weird like that. I am Charisbyterian, see, and I kind of live in this atmosphere of heaven...where anything is possible, and God really...like, really does speak to me, sometimes. Is that weird? It shouldn't be. Hearing the voice of God is a believer's birthright. It is the normal Christian life.
And when Amy asked me what I thought, God said to my heart, "Do it."
So we did. We didn't have time to second-guess ourselves, or over-think it, or get all twisted up about it. I had to bust out my best design in a matter of days, using Amy's beautiful painting of an iris.
Here is the result:
I realize the picture gets a little strange, right where you see my box with my business logo on it...but in case you wonder if it was doctored - which it definitely was not - here you go:
I took Amy's iris painting, and resized it, digitally, and designed an entire necklace around it. I mailed it to Amy, just Tuesday or Wednesday of last week, and she took it and flew to NYC where she had tickets to see Bono and U2 in concert.
And God totally rocked both our socks off, and opened the door for her to personally deliver our collaboration to Bono himself.
And he removed his hat...and put on Amy's painting, and my jewelry design...
And that's what can happen when women dream big, work hard, use their gifts, and collaborate.
In terms of social currency, it could not have been any bigger or better had President Obama put on one of my designs, or hung an Amy Crews original in the Oval Office. People care more about what Bono wears or what Bono likes!
And yes...this design will be available for anyone who needs to be reminded to use their gifts. So stay tuned.
To hear Amy Crews tell the whole story from her perspective, click here. You'll hear lots of details I purposefully have left out, because I'd love for you to hear them from her.
In case I haven't been clear, please allow me to end this story with the same Scripture I began it with:
"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them..."
Start today. Start in your immediate sphere. Go use your unique gift to love someone. You never know where it may lead!
(I'm pretty sure I'm still "just me"...but it is fun to imagine I'm not.)