I think we all know the feeling–we go searching Pinterest for inspiration, maybe a new look for the mantle this season, and we end up coming across a pair of slouchy knee-high tan boots that make us want to go shopping, a must-try pumpkin bread recipe and a tutorial on how to make felted soap. There are a dozen or a hundred things we could be attempting, but we feel exhausted just trying to make a decision. When we do pick a project, we often end up copycatting what we find rather than letting our true art out into the world.

When creative work comes in bulk disconnected from its creator, when we see the results of someone’s labor without considering the labor itself, when we compare our own unadorned lives with all of the accessories on the screen, we find ourselves stuck in place like a feed that keeps recycling the same images again and again. That’s the Pinterest Effect.

Today, my friend Jessica is sharing about a whole different effect, one that helped her to stop pilfering away her moments pining over what she saw on Pinterest to find a better way of living. In my early days with baby Gracia, Jessica blessed me with a meal and good conversation. We took some time to swap stories about family and previous churches. When I mentioned the name of my good friend who leads worship at Jessica’s parents’ church, she sat up straight and told me how that very friend had taught her the true meaning of inspiration, unknowingly helping her to move from being a spectator to becoming a real artist. Here is her story…

As a tired and strung-out mom of two little ones, I recently I took a counter-intuitive leap, a step towards doing something that would require lots of time, effort, and energy…very limited commodities during this stage of life. I felt compelled to step off the sidelines and start actively and intentionally pursue my gifts.

Most nights in the past, I’d be drowsily glazing through Pinterest or Facebook before surrendering to bed, but one particular night last December, my heart felt uncommonly alive.

That night, I sat in the Jazz Kitchen watching singer/songwriter, Sarah Scharbrough “do her thing.” She wasn’t just playing piano. She wasn’t just singing. It was beyond that. Her words and voice and music resonated deep within me. She was made to do this. Her joy (and the joy of her family members lending their talents) overflowed. Her uncommon talent and thoughtfulness made me think of the One who gave her the talents in the first place. And it energized me.

I left that evening with a charge. I felt the Lord telling me to do my thing and do it well. If I used my own God-given gifts, maybe I could experience deeper joy and inspire others like Sarah had inspired me. When I came across other fascinating women with the same resonating quality in their blogging, mentoring, mothering or singing, I called it the Scharbrough Effect. And the more I experienced the beauty these women were adding to the world, the more energy I had to get off the couch and get going.

Image 2This past March, I decided to whole-heartedly pursue painting. For years, my own artistic talents have hidden themselves behind my career in teaching art, but it was finally time to step out and give my own gifts some attention, trusting that joy would come with the work.

I’ve taken on a big challenge, starting a blog to chronicle my journey toward 500 paintings. I’m a little past ten percent of my goal and I’ve already learned so much. It hasn’t been easy, but I have already been blessed with small victories and lots of encouragement along the way. I am experiencing the joy and energy that sparked this desire that night at the Jazz Kitchen, and I trust there is more for me ahead as I pursue my art and thereby honor the One who created me.

Pinterest is a valuable resource for inspiration. Quite honestly, I think it’s fabulous. But the major downside is that the resonating quality I felt at Sarah’s concert gets lost in translation online as we are seeing the product separated from the unique God-formed individual behind it. There’s also the danger of me pinning things forever and not ever putting inspiration into action. More than Pinterest, Facebook has serious draining power for me and has also allowed a foothold for jealousy to creep in. While I enjoy social media and see great value in it, the problem comes when I go to these things as time-fillers, ironically feeling frazzled and unrested, emptied out instead of filled up.

The way I see it, technology flattens life. The art I experienced at the concert was fully 3-D. Screens have their appeal and their place, but nothing can replace the energy of art in real life: sharing songs with a live audience, putting brush to canvas, or holding up a cup of tea and talking face to face with a friend.

Here’s a little Internet break for you. Right now, before you do anything else online….
Find a blank page or canvas. Add some color to it. When you get back online, go visit Jessica’s blog and encourage her in her journey to 500 paintings.


{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}

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