Today's post is part of a series I am hosting called At the Intersection, and it is all about how other gals out there -gals like me who are mothers, artist and followers of Christ-juggle all three areas of their lives at once. How they live at the intersection of art, faith, and motherhood.
I chose these three particular categories because they are the very three that I find pull on the same parts of my heart. All three demand of me the following: time, creativity, the ability to listen, the ability to problem solve, and to think critically. And all three are rooted -should be rooted-in grace.
But instead of just listening to me talk about these ideas, I thought I would invite some friends into the conversation. To see if I was the only one who works to juggle all three, or if there might be others out there who face similar struggles, whose stories might shed a little light and provide a little encouragement for you and me.
I am also hoping that you, my most fab readers, will also offer encouragement to each of these lovely women, who, like you, are doing their best to live authentically in the present at the intersection of beauty and mess.
See me? Yep. That is me in the middle, being a total fan girl geek.
The gal on the left is Nicole Witt and the gal on the right is Christa Wells, and their music, particularly Christa's, carried me through writing A Homemade Year. I listened to their combined work - More Than Rubies, and Christa's album How Emptiness Sings from beginning to end as I tapped away on the keyboard, flung myself on the floor in anguish as I wrestled with recipes and sentence structure (I am only slightly kidding about the floor part,) and pushed myself to go deeper.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to share about my book at the Wild Goose Festival. But, there was some confusion and miscommunication which resulted in my official invite not coming until just a few weeks before the event and I wrestled with whether or not I could afford the trip-financially, logistically, physically. But then I saw that Christa would be performing on the same day I was presenting and I knew immediately that I would find a way to make to the Goose. It was just too good to be true. Her music is such a huge part of AHY in my heart, her voice my only companion throughout so much of the process, and I could not miss this opportunity to meet her and hear her play.
Needless to say, it was better than I could have hoped. Christa and Nicole are incredibly lovely, funny, sweet, and amazingly talented gals. From the moment we met it felt as if we were kindred spirits, and I was very tempted to abandon the Goose all together and hop in their van and take off with them to their next gig.
Christa (who is the author of the song Held as recorded by Natalie Grant) has new album that has just released entitled Feed Your Soul (make sure to watch the video at the end of this post to get a taste of the album.) I am pretty sure her song More Than I Am (featuring Carolina Story) was written just for me, and this entire album is keeping me company while I work on book proposal 2. And once again her lyrics, her music, and her voice are pushing me to go further, to dig deeper, and to keep tapping on those keys. And believe me, I need it.
I am so excited to have to have Christa with us today for this edition of At the Intersection.
Name Christa Wells
Blog/Website Name www.christawellsmusic.com
Art Form Singer/Songwriter
Kids Ages 7, 9, 9, 12, 15
Relationship Status Married
Expression of Faith- Christian/Protestant - PCA
Where Do You Live? Raleigh, NC, house
How did you find your creative niche? Was this something you have always done, or did you fall into it by accident?
Music is what I've always been most drawn to, and since probably about middle school, I've thought this would be a big part of my life. I began by wanting to be Amy Grant. As I grew, I discovered I didn't love performing and struggled with a great deal of performance anxiety. So I backed off that side of things and focused strictly on songwriting after college. It's only been in the past 6 years that I began to share the songs with my own voice, and really only since 2009.
Where do you create? Office? Kitchen table?
At the hand-me-down baby grand piano in the main living area of our home late at night. Or I sneak away to our finished attic space where my keyboard lives.
Do you create best in solitude or in the middle of chaos?
I've realized over the past few years that I'm more introvert than extrovert, but I live in a very full house and homeschool several of our kids. So I crave solitude and find it very hard to focus on artmaking unless I get alone. I can do business work in the noise but not the songwriting.
How does your faith influence your creative process?
My faith is the lens through which I see life and the world and relationships. So I don't see any compartmentalization between faith and creativity, but I do feel a strong sense of accountability in my art making that I attribute to my faith. It's not just about me or my desire to express myself about following Jesus' example of really seeing people, looking into their eyes and speaking truth in love.
How does that process influence or enrich your faith?
My writing is my way of coping and processing everything, so when I enter into the writing of a song, I begin to see connections and patterns and light that I may have been unaware of before I sat down to work. This happens intuitively, so all the elements were already in there somewhere but they rise to the surface as the music is born. That makes my faith feel like the living, breathing thing it is.
Sometimes I feel as if writing, parenting, and the practicing my faith are all drawing from the same well inside me, that they tax the same part of my heart. This means that quite often I find that I have depleted all of my resources pouring into just one of the three, leaving the other two wanting. Do you have this same issue, or is it just me?
Ha ha, it's definitely not just you. I joke and lament that I feel like I'm always doing everything halfway. In particular, I feel the pull between music and homemaking. I like the IDEA of being Martha Stewart and my husband laughs at my ability to fool myself into thinking I'll get around to doing this or that. I'm an idealist and hate to admit I cannot do it all. But I obviously can't. I planted a garden (against his advice) in the spring and haven't set foot in it since. I see from the window there are green bean plants and tomato volunteers and a lot of weeds, but all I see is a lot of work I do not have time for. So I pretend it's not there. I can't do the same thing to my family. They actually do need to eat at least once a day. But yeah, it's very hard for me to pull out of my head and do those sorts of things. When they were smaller, it was the reverse - I knew they were absolutely dependent on me, so I didn't carve out the time for music often.
What do you do to recharge, or refill the well,
In your creative process? Listen to other music, read books, collaborate. Get alone.
In your parenting? Hang out & trade stories with other parents, especially my sisters. Go out of town for a couple of days making music. I come back happy and ready!
In the practicing of your faith? Read great books of all sorts. Have lunch with a mentor/friend. Listen to sermons. Wake up for morning solitude, Bible and prayer.
Do you have any advice for other mom's out there who are also trying to learn how to live out their callings as artist, mothers and followers of Christ? What is something you wish someone had told you earlier on?
Someone did say this to me: "This is just a season." When I had 5 kids ages 7 and under and could barely breathe, I clung to that. Also, every little thing counts! If you are a writer at heart and you write one line on a steno pad today, good for you! You made something! I wrote precious few songs over those baby years, but "Held" was one of them. You never know what might come from those desperately weak and weary times.
What are some specific challenges you are facing right now in all three of these areas?
Our season of having all the kids in one place & my husband at home (he worked from home for two years) has come to an end. We have one on traditional calendar, one on year-round, and three at home/online. Husband is working full days away from home. At the same time, my performance and overall music work load have ramped up. I'm not sure how we're going to do it logistically. We're figuring that out as we go. That's the big one! Striking the right balance and hearing God in it...discerning which opportunities are right for us. I want to say "yes" to everything at home, community, church, and work. But we need to be wise. Toby helps me with that. ha
How can I, and my readers, pray for you?
See above. :)
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers regarding the interplay of art, faith, and parenthood in your life? Any experiences or practices you would like to share?
Oh, if we could sit and have coffee, there would be so many ideas and insights we could trade! I've learned most of all to be brave in all these areas, to try something and see if it works. If it doesn't, try another way. I'm learning to let it all mingle together in the way that is natural for me and my unique family.
Any questions that I didn't ask that you think I should have? If so, what are they and what are your answers? :)
Do I like Thai food?
Answer: Yes. ;)
Thank you Christa for coming to hang out with me today! I am going to find a way to get you to Arkansas somehow ; )
Happy Wednesday friends!