Beauty for Ashes

You Have Something to Offer this World

Beauty for Ashes

For years, my older sister Rosemary had talked about wanting to write a book. It was a familiar sounding dream. A beautiful desire. I’ve heard it from many well-meaning people. I recently read that 80% of people who wish to write a book; only 1% will actually do so. If you want to write a book, you need a strong and compelling reason. And if you really want to be a writer, you might as well take up less risky endeavors like base-jumping, Everest expeditions, hedge fund investing or learning Swahili.

You Make the World More Beautiful

The World Needs Your Beauty Today


The Eastern Congo is a place of jaw-dropping beauty and unspeakable horror. Grab a map and you’ll see the Congo smack dab in the heart of Africa. It’s the second largest country in Africa; bigger than the whole of Western Europe. A massive land filled with vast jungles, crocodile-infested rivers and savannah as far as the eye can see, Joseph Conrad chronicled his real life adventures about it in his bestselling novel Heart of Darkness.

The truth of the Congo, then and now, is no fictional tale. Read on…

Tell Me Your Story

Your Story Adds Beauty to the World

Tell me your story and I’ll tell you mine. This past summer, I went to the Eastern Congo to discover and film stories of beauty and hope coming out of a desperate and war-torn land. There’s a whole lot of pain and brokenness in the Eastern Congo, a place the United Nations has called, “the rape capital of the world.”

In my travels, I heard gut-wrenching stories and met the victims of atrocities so horrific that I won’t repeat them to certain family and friends. Truly terrible and horrific stories.

But that’s not the end of the story. There’s more to it, you see…

Bestselling Generosity

Generosity always bears new fruit...


Last week, I was the grateful recipient of a bestselling author’s lavish generosity. A bit of back story is in order: My screenwriting co-author and I have been working on a project for several years now. As part of our research, we contacted a top expert on the life of one of our key characters. “Expert” is an understatement.

He is the leading authority on the subject matter who wrote an international bestseller. His research was meticulous. His travel extensive. His fame worldwide. His storytelling precise and compelling. Nobody knows more about our character than this guy.

You’re probably wondering, “Ok already, who is it?” I won’t mention his name because name-dropping irritates me. I will like you for who you are. Not for who you know. (A simple way for us to be generous to one another.) It’s enough to say this guy is a true professional; a researcher and writer with many book awards. His work speaks for itself…

Leap into Your Creative Fears

The world needs your gift of beauty.

Leap into your creative fears... the world needs your gift of beauty.

Leap into your creative fears… the world needs your gift of beauty.

When was the last time you actually leaped into your fears? Like a cliff diver standing on the edge of a cliff with the water far below, when was the last time you really went for it by jumping with abandon?

Today you have the choice to embrace your God-given creativity or allow the fear of failure to paralyze you from fulfilling your creative calling. The world needs your gift of beauty. Don’t allow fear to knock you sideways into that deep ditch of procrastination, regret and self-loathing. You have fear because you’re human. Don’t make fear your enemy. Use it. Leverage it as a force for good. Leap into your creative fears and see what happens. You might be surprised at what you discover…

The Spiritual Side of Stump Removal


Are you stumped? You have more options than you think you do.

Yesterday was Labor Day and I exerted my best to put the word ‘labor’ into the day. It was a national holiday, but no picnic in my backyard. After 19 years in the same home, we’re finally making some changes to the backyard. Thanks to the California drought, we’re swapping out half of our dog-destroyed back lawn for decomposed granite and patio stone work. On a small side slope next to my neighbor’s backyard, I’m moving my favorite plumeria trees by taking the larger ones out of terracotta pots and plunking them down on the slope.

But to make room for beauty, I first needed to get rid of a large, ugly tree stump. The thing had been lurking there for years in the corner, hidden by newly-removed bushes. Not causing anyone pain or harm. Yet. Submerged in the dirt, it was an arborist’s nightmare waiting to take out some-overconfident sop like me.

Great Power and Beauty Await You


This weekend, great power and beauty await you if you’re willing to stop and be still. I don’t know about you, but the past few weeks, my life has been pretty hectic with lots of work, high school graduation parties and family birthdays. I come from a large family, so between Krista’s family and my family, it seems like we’re going to a birthday party every other week. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love my work with The Grove, working with artists, writing and film producing…and birthday parties! But everyday, there is a larger life calling out to me. It’s the invitation of God to stop and be still.

When was the last time you slowed down to soak in the beauty all around you? To really be still? It’s essential to creating a beautiful life. Read on…

Can Age Produce Beauty? Artistic Legends at Work

canageproducebeautyIf you want to see artistic legends at work and the undeniable truth that age can produce beauty, you’ll want to check out this brilliant photo series in the recent issue of Time Magazine, When Age Produces Beauty. In my previous post, Creativity and the Art of Living Longer, I wrote about artists doing what they love and still thriving in their seventies, eighties and nineties. Today, I want to share these living artistic legends with you and their thoughts on creativity, art, and cultivating a beautiful life.

I love this picture of Mark Di Suvero, cutting steel and welding at 86 years old. Considered America’s greatest Constructivist sculptor, Di Suervo still puts in a full day’s work with steel girders and blow torches. Is this guy committed to his craft or what? Doesn’t seem too concerned about his golf score… Listen to what these other artistic legends have to say about work, creativity, art, and the human spirit. Read on…

Are You in Awe of the Aching Beauty of God’s Creation?

When was the last time you soaked in the aching beauty of God’s creation? Or let me ask you, how does the aching beauty of God’s creation move you? I hope it does. God’s creation could be the very heart monitor you need to check the condition of your spiritual life. The music of God’s creation is all around us and this past weekend, I had a deep soak in the visual artistry of God. A long drive through vineyards, past California oaks, and the Pacific Ocean along Santa Barbara tunes you into the frequency of God’s love like no other. If there is one thing that renews my spirit, it is the beauty of God’s creation. I have a sneaking suspicion that God’s creation does the same for you. Let me share a story. It may inspire you to go for a slow walk or long drive this coming weekend. Read on…


Can Artists Project the Goodness of God through Art?

[S]teve Kasyanenko from EightM recently interviewed me about how artists can project the goodness of God through art. On EightM, Stephen interviews Christian businessmen and women, actors, musicians, educators, artists, athletes and entertainers from around the world. As one of my goals here on Art, Life & Faith is to help artists pursue their creative calling, EightM is eager to help you find your destiny, call and purpose in life. EightM offers compelling video interviews and stories to teach you how to achieve greatness to radically influence and change the world around you.

In this two-minute excerpt, Stephen and I had a great conversation. We talked about a number of key issues regarding the role of art in the Church and in our culture. Here’s a few questions we explored…

Click this link to watch the entire conversation. By joining EightM,
The Grove Center for the Arts & Media will receive 50% of every membership sold.