Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Faith, Art and Motherhood - an At the Intersection Interview with Megan Tietz of SortaCrunchy

I am so excited about today's guest at my little cyber kitchen table, where we all sit and chat like the oldest and dearest of friend for these At the Intersection interviews.  I have missed these chats the last couple of months and I am so excited to be bringing this regular feature back.
Today's guest is Megan Tietz from Sorta Crunchy. You may know her from The Art of Simple or Deeper Story/Family or her book Spirit-Led Parenting. Or maybe you just know her because she is your very best friend or your neighbor or your college roommate.
I know Meg because I found her over the interwebs through all those places I named above, but I feel as if she is someone I could invite over even if I haven't had a shower and the kids are going bonkers. Because she gets it. She is there in the middle of the mess and beauty, the chaos and the sacred, just like you and I are.

Just the facts ma'am:

What is your Blog Name?
What is your Art Form?
And your kids ages?
Dacey - 9, Aliza Joy - 6, Mack and John Kyle - 11.5 months
Relationship Status?
married (15 years!)
What other jobs do you juggle besides writing and blogging? 
'round-the-clock mothering
What is your expression of faith?
non-denominational church of the evangelical variety
Where Do You Live?
Ninety-year old home in Oklahoma City

How did you find your creative niche? Was this something you have always done, or did you fall into it by accident?
I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't creating stories in my head. As a child, I made up stories in my mind to put myself to sleep each night; it wasn't until I was in high school that I realized this wasn't typical. I was in the fifth grade the first time I was recognized by a teacher for writing, and that's when it turned into a creative niche for me.  
Where do you create? Office? Kitchen table? 
I used to have a dedicated writing desk, but since the birth of our twins, I write anywhere I can find a minute's peace and a plug for my laptop.
I find that I go through seasons where I need to be completely alone to write, and then other seasons when I can create in the middle of  total family crazy. Do you create best in solitude or in the middle of chaos
I absolutely must have solitude. I cannot even have music playing in the background when I write. You can imagine the challenges this creates.

How does your faith influence your creative process?
For many years, my faith really did not have much bearing on the creative parts of my life. All of that changed when I read this passage in Madeline L'Engle's Walking On Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birth-giver. In a very real sense, the artist (male or female) should be like Mary, who when the angel told her that she was to bear the Messiah, was obedient to the command.
Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays, but the artist must be obedient to the work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of genius or something very small, comes to the artist and says, "Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me." And the artist either says, "My soul doth magnify the Lord," and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary.
The idea of agreeing to bring life to art as an act of obedience to the Lord ... wow. Revolutionary.

JG I LOVE This book, and the Mary imagery here has been a powerful inspiration to me time and time again.

How does that process influence or enrich your faith?
In this season of my life when time to create is such a precious and rare thing, the creative process has become an act of worship. I certainly don't always write about spiritual matters, but that yielding of time to the creative process always makes me feel more connected to the Creator God.

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? 

I identify with that 100%!
What do you do to recharge, or refill the well,
In your creative process?
To recharge creatively, I turn to the words of others. I'll get out a favorite book or start a new one. I'm a long-time believer in the idea that good readers make good writers, and immersing myself in the voice and style and sentence structure and and story of others almost always fills up that place in my spirit that so easily loses its voice. I also love to listen to music with powerful lyrics. Patty Griffin is a favorite.

JG- Yes, music is a huge influence on me as well. And each project seems to end up with it's own soundtrack.
In your parenting?
This is going to sound a little hateful to some, but for me, the most effective way to refill the well of parenting is spending time away from my kids. Perhaps it's because there's almost always someone awake in my house around the clock, I find I have to get out and get some space. It can be a simple dinner out with friends or even going to a school meeting - whatever it is that gives me just an hour or two to fully function as Megan and not Mom, it always yields the same result: a more joyful, patient, and intentional approach to parenting.

JG- that doesn't sound hateful to me, that sounds sane. I always thought that Mother's Day should be a national day-off from mothering. All I ever want is one whole weekend to myself.
In the practicing of your faith?
Two things: receiving communion and singing the great hymns of our faith. Both of these fill the well of spirituality life nothing else in life.

JG- Yes, yes, yes and amen!

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?
Read Walking on Water. All creative types should read that, really, but I think mothers who are creatives will be especially inspired.
Also, remember you aren't alone. Years and years ago, Oprah interviewed Toni Morrison who recounted wiping baby food off of the pages of her earliest manuscripts. I've often found solace in that mental picture - a writer as talented and prolific as Morrison found the mixing of her creative life and her mothering life to be unavoidable.
If you can, be intentional about connecting with people who will encourage your creative pursuits. There is no shortage of voices both real and imagined telling you that your creative work has to take a backseat for now. Seek out the voices that will nurture and cultivate the seeds of creativity in your life.

JG- I have never heard that quote from Toni before but I am going to cling to it from here on out. 

What are some specific challenges you are facing right now in all three of these areas? 
It all goes back to what I shared above, that it feels like there is always someone awake, someone whose needs need meeting. I perpetually feel like there isn't enough of me to go around, and so I constantly feel like I'm disappointing someone or God or myself. My biggest challenge is rooted in the practices of contentment, gratitude, and hopefulness. 

How can I, and my readers, pray for you?
Would it be ridiculous to pray that the twins will start to sleep through the night?

JG- Not at all! I once asked a small group to pray that my oldest sleep for at least 3 straight hours. And he slept for 4 the next night. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!
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?

I'm a strong believer in the 5:00 AM work hour. The vast majority of my part of Spirit-Led Parenting was written in the pre-dawn hours before my children woke up. For me, getting up before my children so I can pray and do a little creative work in a dark, quiet house allows me to start the day as a parent with a heart filled by God and a spirit free of the burden of work longing to be done. These days, my devotion to this discipline is far more miss than hit, but when I make myself get up, I am always deeply grateful that I did. 

JG-This is something I am going to have to establish again this year as I dive into book two. I keep trying to convince myself that I can fit it all in after the kids go to bed, but there just enough of me left at that time of day to create much good material. 

Huge thanks to Megan for such a wonderful and inspiring chat.  It is always good to know that I am not alone in the challenges of juggling faith, art and parenting. 

Thanks also to Megan for donating a copy of her book for a giveaway!  

To enter to win a copy of Megan's book  (for yourself or another new mom you know) just  leave a comment here telling us what your biggest creative blocker is and how you push through. Or maybe just tell us what you are cooking for dinner.  Or just say hi! 

Contest closes at midnight on Feb. 2

Peace my friends!

P.S.  - do you have a nominee for an At the Intersection interview? Send me an email at ahomemadeyear (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know!


  1. My biggest creative blocker is just getting started…at least in this season of my life. Interruptions are so frequent that I hesitate to get started for fear of having to deal with them. The only way I can overcome this is either by asking my husband to watch our LO for an hour or two giving me absolute uninterrupted time (usually means I have to leave the house too) or allow that there will be interruptions and try my best to set my LO up with an activity that will hold her attention as long as possible.

  2. I related so much of this post. My biggest creative blocker is lack of sleep and feeling stretched too thin.... Also, I love her advice about making yourself get up early. I'm always so sleep deprived that I don't do that. But I know if I did, and spent some time with the Lord early, I would be a much more pleasant mommy!


ok, really. tell me the truth... do these comments make me look fat?

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