Nature or Nurture?

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

I recently put my maiden name into one of those “learn about your ancestry” sites and this is what it said –

Lee: Irish: reduced Americanized form of Ó Laoidhigh ‘descendant of Laoidheach’, a personal name derived from laoidh ‘poem’, ‘song’ (originally a by name for a poet).

That was not a surprise. I knew I had descended from a long line of storytellers. I spent enough time around my Grandfather, not to mention my father and five uncles, to know the truth of it. They were a raucous bunch prone to argue and sometimes fight, but when one of them started telling a story the room would go quiet with respect. Of course, when he was done, they’d all say he was “full of the blarney,” but that was taken as a compliment received with a smile of pride.
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Lessons in an Art Gallery

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

There was a hush on the fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery as we entered, almost a reverence, I thought. People meandered quietly through the halls and rooms, taking time to study the paintings on the walls and read the commentaries and quotes from the artist’s journals. As I joined them I was aware of my own sense of awe. Emily Carr was an artist I had admired since I was a child. Her work always made me pause, drew me in, made me aware of something beyond myself.

The quotes on the walls captured my attention as well. This woman, who is famous in my own country and beyond for her depiction of the west coast region of Canada, was a woman of faith, struggling to comprehend the greatest mystery there is – the deep, deep love of an all-encompassing God.

Emily Carr’s work depicts that struggle, that striving to faith, that longing to comprehend that which is unknown yet deeply sensed. The first quote visitors to the Vancouver Art Gallery saw as they entered the exhibit was “Art is Worship.” Ms. Carr worshipped with every stroke of her brush, the swirling movement in her work drawing the eye up toward the heavens. A painting labelled Untitled, one of my favourites, is especially strong. The artist’s love of creation and its creator shouts from the canvas.

Emily Carr saw the divine in the deep dark forests of British Columbia and in the work of others, especially some members of the Group of Seven who welcomed her as one of their own. She was dumbfounded, while at an exhibit of their work, to see one of Lawren Harris’s paintings, Mountain Forms, ignored even by a priest. “Surely he would understand,” Ms. Carr wrote in her journal, “Wouldn’t the spirituality of the thing appeal to one whose life was supposed to be given up to these things? He passed right by …”

I understand Ms. Carr’s frustration. So much that is redemptive in this world goes unnoticed at best, scorned and ridiculed, at worst. Yet those things that draw us all closer to our creator are enduring. Mountain Forms was recently auctioned for just over eleven million dollars.

As I wandered in that gallery that day I was not only stirred by how Emily Carr drew us to the Divine through her work but by the recognition that we can all do the same, whatever our field of endeavour. We have all been created to express praise and adoration through everything we do, whether we work in oils or with words, whether we sweep floors or design buildings, whether our work is recognized or ridiculed. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters … It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23,24).

I was also struck by the reality that Ms. Carr caused me to praise and worship without saying a word. There was no banner declaring “Jesus saves” scrawled across her paintings yet we are able to stand in the midst of those deep dark forests and worship with her. It made me wonder, does my art cause people to worship? Does it cause them to ponder the depth of God’s greatness and goodness? Does it glorify Him? Walking among Emily Carr’s paintings made me pray it may be so.

TWEETABLES

Lessons in an Art Gallery by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Ms. Carr worshiped with every stroke of her brush.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

We have all been created to express praise and adoration through everything we do.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

Such a Fraud

by Marcia Lee Laycock @MarciaLaycock

Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome

Neil Gaiman once attended a gathering of some very important people. “I felt that at any moment they would realize that I didn’t qualify to be there,” he said. Later he chatted with another Neil who felt the same. “They’ve made amazing things,” he said. “I just went where I was sent. Mr. Gaiman replied, “Yes, but you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

Many writers, and I include myself in that number, feel this way at some point – inadequate, even hypocritical. We know the struggle we’ve had to get to the place where we can call ourselves writers. We know there are many who have accomplished more, writers we would consider far beyond our level, and we sometimes feel that even our best work just isn’t good enough. I think this is the same ‘syndrome’ that hits people who are applauded for doing some kind of heroic act. Often their first thought, their first words, are, “I’m no hero.”

This can be a serious barrier to creativity. It is the same barrier that blocks many believers in Christ. We are taught that we are dust, that we are sinful, that we just don’t measure up to the holiness of Christ. All true, but we are also called children of God (John 1:12), a holy people (Colossians 1:12) and priests of the kingdom (1 Peter 2:9). The dichotomy is sometimes hard to sort out.

My husband once addressed this in one of his sermons dealing with positional sanctification and experiential sanctification – we live in the world and therefore live with our failings and our sin, but in the moment we accept Christ as our Saviour we receive the Spirit of God and are made holy and yes, perfect in Him. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). Experientially, we don’t live in perfection. But positionally we are “perfect … as (our) heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

It is important as believers and as writers of faith that we understand the difference and live our lives in that balance, with humility and grace. Someone once said that humility is confidence properly placed. Confidence comes from knowing who we truly are as sons and daughters of our Father. It is properly placed when we recognize who He truly is.

Believing we and the work we do has value because of our connection to Christ releases us from all the uncertainties and false humility that keep us from doing the work we are called to do. In Christ, we are released to do God’s work for God’s kingdom.

Satan’s scheme is to keep whispering that we aren’t good enough. When we hear that sibilant voice, we would do well to swat it away and remember the truth: God values us and what we do. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).


TWEETABLES

Such a Fraud by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Remember the truth: God values us and what we do.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

Let the Gorillas Come

by Marcia Lee Laycock

It’s somewhere in Africa. A young woman sits cross-legged on the ground, surrounded by tall grass. She has been told to sit very still. She can hear snuffling noises and now and then a grunt. When the massive head of a gorilla pokes out between the grasses, she is tempted to leap up and run. But she sits quietly. The gorilla approaches, moves around her, touches her hair, sniffs her shoulder. She remembers the instructions she was given: “No sudden movements. Keep your eyes on the ground.” 


She tries not to think of what those massive hands and arms could do to her. She tries to relax her shoulders. Slowly. Another gorilla approaches, then another. They investigate her, sit close by grooming one another before slowly ambling away. The young woman lets out her breath and smiles. She knows she has just won a great victory over fear. The adrenaline coursing through her body makes her laugh out loud.

Writing coach Natalie Goldberg wrote -“A writer must be willing to sit at the bottom of the pit, commit herself to stay there, and let all the wild animals approach, even call them up, then face them, write them down, and not run away.”

There seems to be an underlying belief among many Christians that writing about what is painful and ugly in life is somehow denying the goodness of God. That is not what the Bible teaches. Psalm 12:6 (KJV) says – “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. “Tried in a furnace of earth.” That doesn’t sound pleasant to me. “Purified seven times.” That sounds like struggle and anguish and pain that has been forged into what is pure and wholesome.

Madeleine L’Engle once said – “It is not that what is, is not enough, for it is; it is that what is has been disarranged, and is crying out to be put in place.”

We do not write about the dark, the things born of despair, in order to glorify them, but in order to put them in their place and to recognize that there is something more, something infinitely better – there is redemption of all that is ugly and evil in this world, because of what happened on a cross at the base of a hill in a tiny country then called Palestine.

1Cor. 4:2 says – “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” I believe we have been given a trust as writers and we must be faithful to it. To make our lives of use to others we must be willing to touch those parts of ourselves that are universal, both the evil and the noble. It is when we are able to reach that level that we will produce good work, significant work, perhaps even life-changing work.

Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian song writer and poet said, “you’ve got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.”

This is the work we have been given to do. May He find us faithful. 

This is the work we have been given to do. May He find us faithful.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)



Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur