Life Creative: Inspiration For Today’s Renaissance Mom, by Wendy Speake & Kelli Stuart
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review.]
It should be stated at the outset that I am not the ideal audience for this book, which is written for overly busy moms in encouraging them to serve God and their families via their creative artistic passions. I am no stranger to reading books written by women, for women, about women, that really do not attempt to reach out to a male audience at all . I would like to think, though, that I am a reasonably sympathetic man when it comes to the struggles of sensitive and creative people who feel as if life is a bit overwhelming and who have an intense need to have personal creative time. Although there are likely few men who will take this book up and read it, that is a shame as this book has a lot to offer its readers, and not only its intended audience. This is a book written by women who want to encourage their children and want to serve God and other people with their God-given gifts, but who are afraid of losing their identity and individuality through the expectations placed on them in being wives and mothers. This is a valid concern. To their credit, the authors present the men and children in their lives as being encouraging of their artistic endeavors, making this a book that rises above the usual gender warfare.
The contents of this book are quite interesting to read, even as an outsider upon its concerns. In about 200 pages, full of scripture and personal stories and the definitions of words for the audience to learn, the authors seek to legitimize the artistic and creative selves of their audience of overly busy moms. The authors encourage their mothers in creativity not only for the sake of those mothers but because artistic parents encourage art in their children, something that fills these pages, and something that I can relate to in my own life as the child of a deeply artistic and creative house, with all the torment and sensitivity that tends to involve. The authors discuss the fact that creative mothers do not necessarily need to do anything too unusual–painting a picnic table and conversing with neighbors, canning preserves, taking photographs, writing blogs–to be creative and artistic people showing the imago dei within them . In other chapters the authors examine the tensions women feel about making a business out of their art, and having their art turn a profit. Throughout, a consistent tone of encouragement is given, encouraging women to seek out a network of encouraging people among their family and friends, as well as outlets to pursue and develop their gifts and abilities. Any fair-minded reader can only cheer them on.
Although there is a lot to praise about this book, there are at least a few areas where the authors are deserving of some mild criticism and critique. For one, the authors appear to be fond of overusing certain words and expressions–renaissance comes to mind, given that the authors promote the idea that the Renaissance brought Europe out of darkness, when the reality was far more complicated. That said, as someone who prides himself on being a Renaissance man, I can hardly criticize women who want to consider themselves the gender-appropriate equivalent. The authors also overuse the term avodah, which is Hebrew for work, perhaps as a way of demonstrating some knowledge of the Hebrew language, a sign of harmless but slightly irritating intellectual vanity, again, not something I can justly criticize someone else for but something that I found odd and a bit jarring nonetheless. Overall, this is a book that reminds one of a friendly conversation, full of stories and anecdotes, and gentle affectionate encouragement to the reader. It is likely to be a book enjoyed by the women, and few brave men, who pick up the volume and seek encouragement for their own artistic endeavors and their creative service to God and others.
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