This week is fall break in our parts, and my little family has been out of pocket a bit lately, so I’m taking a two-week break from my “brave” series. I hope you still join me on Wednesdays to read about some of the other things we have been enjoying and seeing God do in our lives!

So, for the past three years, I have plopped down quite a few dollars and travelled to Nashville for Hutchmoot, a gathering of Christian artists and those who love and appreciate such art. I consider this a brave thing to do, first because I can be fairly socially awkward and unsure of exactly what to do when faced with 150 people I don’t know. The trip is also a definite sacrifice of time and money. And, while I play the piano and I write, I consider myself one of the lesser artists and creators in the room.

But I still go. Each year right before Hutchmoot begins, I have a certain amount of doubt. Am I wasting several hundred dollars on this? Will I be able to glean anything from this experience? Will I feel like I am in middle school again with no one to talk to in the cafeteria? Maybe next year I won’t go.

And then I got to the hotel room I shared with my friend Amy, whom I had not seen in a year. My excitement grew. We went to the opening session, and I was inspired. We went to supper, and I was fed physically. We went to the opening concert, and I was encouraged.

Coming into Hutchmoot this year, I have really been wrestling with the question of the value of art in Christian community. I don’t come from a faith tradition that has embraced art as a part of Christian expression. I have struggled with whether or not art is too impractical. Should I be giving myself to other ministries that are more concrete, more quantifiable? Can God use what little talents I have to offer, or should I just abandon the idea of writing altogether and move on to something else?

And here is what I have learned this weekend – There is value in beauty and art from a Christian standpoint.

Jesus used story and imagination to train his followers. He called upon their imaginations to picture the Kingdom of Heaven. He taught in parables. He embraced creation. He expressed joy and wonder and amazement.

We are called to create right where we are, even if that place doesn’t seem ideal. God has placed us where we are for a season and a purpose. We can’t wait to live out our calling, we have to follow His leading now. We begin with our home and our roots.

Creating beauty takes discipline, time, and hard work. We need to give ourselves the tools necessary to succeed. We create environments in our home that inspire our family to embrace beauty. Creativity can be cultivated. When we consume excellent art, we will produce excellent art.

So, what do I do with all of these thoughts?

I need to become more intentional about creating the kind of environment that encourages imagination and inspiration.

I need to make my home a place that embraces art and creativity.

I want to be more brave in my own walk with the Lord, and I want to inspire others to do the same.

I went to Hutchmoot this year with no internal agenda. I didn’t have a list of things I hoped would come from the weekend. I simply waited and watched to see what God would have me learn. I wanted to be amazed by God.

Andrew Peterson said it best when he prayed, “Lord, show us something cool.” As I have driven around Brentwood the last few days, I have prayed the same – “Show me something cool.” As I write this on the last day of the conference, I am praying the same for my journey home and in the days to come.

Lord, show me something cool.