The Big Question // Aly Chisum

Everyone has the ability to create things. In fact, we have no choice. We, as adaptive and dynamic creatures, create almost constantly. We create responses from friends with our facial cues. We create hope or despair with our comments at work. We create motivation with goals for ourselves and others, and unfortunately, we create regression and defeat with the way we fail to seek improvement and excellence.

This concept certainly applies to the creation of art, as well. Our choices and strokes and words and notes become the launchpad for somebody else’s inspiration, or even an important fleeting moment of a shift in mindset.

SO... the big question exists:  How do we maintain an attitude of hope in what we create? How do we live in the space of love and grace even when we don’t notice that every second is creating something new for ourselves and those around us?

Making music, be it at church or at a dive bar’s open mic, is my own escape. I have power over what I’m creating, at least most of the time, because I am well rehearsed and familiar with the way things go. At my full time job as a nurse however, the interactions that I have are often fast and shallow. It gets discouraging to think that my quick opportunities to create hope with patients and advocate for excellence with co-workers can slip by during 13 hour shifts that seem to be over in a blink.

Lately, I’ve been holding onto Paul’s words in his second letter to the church in Thessaloniki. He says this in 2 Thessalonians 2:17 (The Message):

May Jesus Himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, and enliven your speech.

What a phenomenal surprise! We have been given- out of the blue, undeserved, and most likely not even fully grasped- marvelous tools of help and confidence from God. We create and respond not because we have the ability to produce good things on our own, but because we know and reflect the One who IS good and who created us.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely need my work invigorated sometimes. I need my speech enlivened, and I need the things I create to reflect my Creator more and more. Hopefully, this reminder that Christ is our launchpad can center us more and more, not only our art, but in our motivations to act.

 

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Aly Chisum is the Associate Worship Leader at the The Gathering's McCausland Site and a vital part of the Made New Creative team.  She is featured on The Desertour most recent EP release, as a performer and songwriter, and she typically leads at our 5pm worship service on Saturday evenings.  She completed our internship program in the summer of  2015, and also works full-time as a registered nurse.  

Weekly Inspiration // Neil Ostercamp

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Hi Everyone,

My name is Neil and I’m one of the worship leaders at The Gathering.  Thanks for taking the time to read our blog.  The purpose of this entry is to share a few things that are inspiring to me as an artist.  Please take a minute to click around and discover some great work that you may not be familiar with.
 

Tyson Motsenbocker:
I’ve been listening to his music for awhile now and have a real connection to his lyrics and tasteful instrumentation.  Check out the newest Almira EP as well as Letter to Lost Loves.  Also, the song Path in the Weeds off of the Rivers & Roads EP is worth a listen.
http://www.tysonmotsenbocker.com/music/

Gerald Clayton:
One of the best jazz pianists out there today is Gerald Clayton.  His music is truly exceptional and even if you don’t consider yourself a jazz fan, you should check out everything he’s released.  Tributary Tales is his latest record.
http://geraldclayton.com

Rachel See:
My friend Rachel is good at everything.  I met her through my wife and she has become a cherished collaborator in music, photography, subtle humor, and the consumption of fried pickles.  Her photography is worth noticing.  Here’s a link to what she’s been up to:
http://rachelsee.net/portfolio/

French Wine:
I have two close friends that recently traveled to France for a wedding.  They returned with a new appreciation for French wine, which we’ve shared over dinner and watch parties of The Bachelorette.  Here’s a generic link I found on the Internet, and a helpful map if you don’t like to read.
http://winefolly.com/review/french-wine-tips/

Smokey James and the Avalanche:
I’m not ashamed to promote a band that I’m in.  Over the last few months, Smokey James and the Avalanche has had the chance to play at a number of significant events in Kansas City including Middle of the Map Fest and TEDxKC.  Take a look at our minimalistic website for social media links.  
http://smokeyjames.com/

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Neil Ostercamp is a dedicated performer, composer, and educator.  His first Made New Creative release is a collection of original songs and hymns containing scripturally based lyrics, original orchestration, and an introspective approach to songwriting.  He will release another EP in November 2017 featuring the Clayton Chamber Ensemble, which includes new songs for the season of Advent.

As a multi-instrumentalist, Neil Ostercamp can be seen and heard playing a wide variety of musical styles.  He has played throughout the country as a dual classical/jazz saxophonist, is the founder of multiple ensembles including Missouri Saxophone Quartet, Trio Chymera, Free Collective, and Zoo/Forest Initiative and makes a living in St. Louis as a worship leader and university professor.

This is no ordinary time.

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The times we are living in are extraordinary.  Moving at the speed of light from one opportunity or tragedy to the next, with the world at your fingertips, it seems like there is always something incredible in the rear-view mirror or on the horizon.  Yet, if you’re like me, you still live most of your life in the in-between.  And sometimes, you can’t help but feel stuck there.  Things aren’t bad, but they’re not particularly good either.  Life just feels uninspired.  A bit too ordinary.  

The Church’s liturgical calendar has a version of this too.  Easter is far behind us and Christmas is coming soon.  The two holidays are the reference points that orient the rest of the Christian year, and in many ways, that of our broader culture.  No matter where we are on the calendar at any given time, you can always look back on one and ahead to the other, along with their associated seasons of preparation: Lent (leading up to Easter) and Advent (leading up to Christmas).  The ebb and flow of these seasons and holidays do much to guide our traditions and inspire us to action and reflection.  They shape our spending habits, what we eat, where we go, who we spend time with, and influence our lives in powerful ways, accompanied by a palpable sense of wonder and the Kingdom of God “breaking in” to our world.  The phenomenon is nearly impossible to ignore.  But what about the rest of the Church calendar?  The in-between?  Well, there’s a name for it…  Ordinary.  No, seriously.  Stretching from Pentecost in the spring, all the way to the start of Advent four weeks prior to Christmas, the vast part of the Christian Year is officially called “Ordinary Time”.  So the church, much like the rest of us, spends most days hanging out in the in-between.  A time designated not for preparation or celebration, but for reflection and the living out of the Christian life in a post-resurrection reality.  Which, when you think about it, is far from ordinary.  These are no ordinary times, and this is not ordinary life.  The Living God is at work in us and all around us, making the ordinary extraordinary.  Making all things new.  Redeeming the world and trading ashes for beauty, one person and one moment at a time, if we only have eyes to see.  

So look around!  Beauty and inspiration are everywhere!  And as image-bearers of our Creator-God, it is our job to reveal to the world and to everyone around us the beauty that we discover in every-day life with Christ and shout it from the rooftops!  

I know.  I know.  This is starting to overwhelm some of you.  But not to worry!  The Made New Creative team is here to help!  The artists and creatives of The Gathering are working hard every day to reveal the beauty in all that we encounter in pursuit of the extraordinary life that Christ invites us all to.  And even if we wanted to (we don’t), there’s no way we could keep it to ourselves.  So we are launching this weekly inspiration blog where, every Thursday, different artists and creatives in the Gathering community will be sharing and reflecting on the extraordinary things that they encounter.  So be sure to check back here often, or subscribe, and share with others who may be in need of a little inspiration.  And let’s be real… we all are. Because our God is extraordinary, and this is no ordinary time. 

See you again next Thursday!

Ryan Hebel
Worship & Creative Arts Director
The Gathering // Made New Creative

 

Finding Inspiration: A breath of fresh air.

in·spi·ra·tion

/ˌinspəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

    1.     the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative."Helen had one of her flashes of inspiration"
    
2.     the drawing in of breath; inhalation.


Inspiration matters.  It is a vital part of staying ALIVE and doing anything worth doing.  The very breath in our lungs.  Yet, more often than not, we make our way through life holding our breath with our eyes, and especially our hearts, closed.  We retreat to our own corner and then spend all of our energy wondering why there’s no magic.  This isn’t something that we do on purpose.  It just… happens.  And it can be paralyzing.  Instead of giving everything we’ve got pursuing inspiration, we waste it all doing nothing, worrying that we’ll never find it again or than we can’t contribute anything worthwhile. It’s a lie and it’s killing us.  

The truth is that there’s a big beautiful world out there and it was created by a big, beautiful, loving God who is alive and close.  Amazing is happening around us all the time, and we are invited to the party.  But that’s not even the best part.  Amazing is happening IN us everyday as we are shaped in God’s image and as we reflect that image in unique ways to places and people that desperately need a breath of fresh air.  

That’s part of our mission at Made New Creative: Inspire to create and create to inspire.  And part of that effort will be regularly curating and sharing the best of what we come across via this blog.  Check back often for creative inspiration or subscribe via email below to get updates and stay in the loop. 

When was the last time you were truly inspired?  What about the last time you inspired someone else?  Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @madenewcreative.  

Inspiration is a noun.  You can find it.  You can even BE it.  But there is effort involved.  You have to look.  You have to listen.  You have to breathe.  

 

Grace+Peace,

Ryan Hebel
Worship & Creative Arts Director


Need a little inspiration for today?  Here’s a pep talk, from Kid President to brighten up your election season.

 

Creativity: It's do or die.

Like most creative people, I have lots of ideas.  Most of them are amazing (of course), but a high percentage of them never see the light of day.  They appear into my consciousness in a flash of brilliance and inspiration and fade into oblivion just as quickly.  And this is a problem.  Call it what you want: losing the muse, writer's block, too busy, uninspired... The reality is that being creative implies that you create something, and a certain talent, personality, age, location, and wardrobe are not required.  However, ACTION is essential.  


"We have to act!  If we don't act, we are not creative.  We are imaginative and have great ideas... But that's not creating."    -James Rhodes, Classical Pianist & Recording Artist


And here's why it matters.  Creating is a part of us.  It's built-in, and it has been from the start.  The opening lines of scripture center us on this fact, "In the beginning, God created...".  And if we are made in the image of God, as scripture tells us, then the creative act is a part of our very nature.  It is real reflection of God's image and an authentic expression of our truest self.  This is the work that sets us on the path to becoming truly alive.  Not.  Optional.  

So whether you consider yourself a creative person or not, I'l like to issue you a challenge today to create something.  Just try it and make something happen.  Take a risk, invite God into it, and dare to be what God intended you to be.  A CREATIVE.


"The only ideas that really matter are the ones that get turned into realities.  There is no proof of creativity without action.  The creative act requires both sides: it requires creativity AND it requires action."    -Erwin McManus, Author & Pastor


And because I'm not one to leave you hanging, here are some great ways to engage with creativity at The Gathering:  

WORSHIP - Just by showing up to worship on a weekend, you are creating something amazing.  Your presence there matters and creates a community that is not the same when you are gone.  You are entering into the presence of God with the gathered Body of Christ (the Church) and elevating a collective worship experience for other people who desperately need it.  And you need it too.  So just show up and create something! 
http://www.gatheringnow.org/times-locations/


SERVE - There are over 130 volunteers serving and collaborating up front and behind the scenes to make the details of worship happen on a weekend: musicians, artists, designers, a/v techs, photographers, and the list goes on.  Their collective acts of creativity inspire hundreds of people every weekend and create a worship experience that literally changes lives, by the power of the Spirit, every week!  

Be a part of it and contact us here for more information.  
http://madenewcreative.org/contact/


CONNECT - Be inspired by the creative gifts of others in the Gathering community by learning about the artists at Made New Creative and the work that they are doing in the Church and beyond.  See what we're up to by regularly checking out the "artists" and "events" pages on our website (http://madenewcreative.org) or by following @madenewcreative on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  And we are adding more artist profiles in different genres all the time, so contact us via the above link if you are an artist and would like to be featured.  


CREATE - Make stuff happen!!!  Got a great idea for a project and need help getting it off the ground or bringing it to fruition?  Want to get your work in front of a larger audience and inspire others?  Are you hosting or do you want to host an event that could use a creative shot in the arm from the work and/or presence of some of The Gathering's musicians, artists, and other creators?  Contact us through the above link or talk with a  Worship Leader at any site to get the ball rolling or to pitch a concept, or just get in touch with me personally and I'll walk you through it:

ryan.hebel@gatheringnow.org 
@r_hebel (twitter & instagram)
Ryan Hebel (facebook)

Now get creating!

Grace+Peace,

-Ryan-