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The Gift of Creativity

When is the last time you exercised your creativity? Ann Byle helps us unwrap this much-needed gift!


The Gift of Creativity

By Ann Byle

God used a chicken peering over my laptop to help me see how creativity plays a role in all of our lives and hearts. Sadie popped her head up to see what was going on one day as I sat working at the deck table.

“Ann, what are you doing? What is this thing you’re pecking at? Got any snacks?” she seemed to say before she hopped down and continued doing her chicken thing in the yard. We’d had backyard chickens for a couple of years, so I was well used to their antics. Yet one curious hen got me really looking at these charming birds and taking their life lessons on creativity to heart.

Chickens are curious creatures, a trait all creatives have. Our chickens explore every inch of our fenced-in backyard, visit with each person who comes into their space, investigate whatever food might have been brought in. They love to see what’s new in the yard each day. That kind of curiosity is vital to developing creativity.

A chef is curious about a new spice; a quilter about how colors and patterns fit together. A home-school mom looks into new learning experiences that might benefit her children, or a gardener experiments with a new variety of plants. Creativity takes curiosity.

Creativity also takes courage. Our chickens stand ten inches away from the axe my husband wields in case any bugs come out of the wood he’s chopping. They’ll walk through any open door or gate, squeeze through a hole in the fence. They’ll also face off against a potential threat, fluffing their feathers and flapping their wings as they squawk like maniacs.

It’s one thing to be curious about that new spice; it takes courage to actually use it in a recipe. You need courage to meet the new neighbor or start that degree program; step out in faith and take that new job or start that children’s book you’ve dreamed of writing. Creative folks are courageous folks.

Creativity is also about saying yes and saying no at the right times and to the right things. I saw our girls go after a mouse that had invaded their space, probably after their food. They refuse to eat avocado and potatoes. They know how to say no to invaders and food that isn’t good for them. This is a lesson we all need to learn. I think as women, especially, we don’t seem to be great at saying no to the things that shut the door on our creative impulses.

There are so many “should do” things in our lives that we don’t have room for the “want to” things. We should volunteer for one more church committee; should make one more meal for the food chain; should vacuum and mop the floors every single day; should be the room mom for a child’s classroom. Actually, you don’t have to do any of these things. Learning to say no to all the “shoulds” opens the door to allowing you to pursue your creative dreams.

I’m not saying that we should ignore the many needs out there. God calls us to care for those in need and it’s a good thing to do so. I’m saying that you don’t have to say yes to EVERY SINGLE THING. Allow others to use their gifting. Allow yourself to say no in order to say yes to those creative pursuits you dream about.

Chickens say yes to trying new treats, to exploration, to taking a good dust bath when it’s hot. One hen discovered she likes s’mores when she swiped one right out of my daughter’s hand—a great big “yes” for the hen. Creative people say yes when an opportunity arises, whether it’s reading a new author or researching an old medicine to be used in a new way, whether it’s creating a new class to teach at school or repurposing old clothing into bags or wall hangings.

Saying yes is perhaps the biggest part of living out your God-given creativity. God puts a dream in your heart, puts opportunities in your path, puts people in your life who encourage and help. But it takes you saying yes to move forward.

I’m convinced that everyone is creative—not just sculptors, ballet dancers, actors, poets, and artists. Creativity crosses all boundaries and is one of God’s greatest gifts, revealed in endless variations in each one of us. All it took was a chicken to help me move into my own creativity.

Ann Byle is author of Chicken Scratch: Lessons in Living Creatively from a Flock of Hens, which released in May. She is a freelance writer for local and national publications, as well as author or coauthor of a number of other books. She and her husband, a naughty dog, an aloof cat, several young adult children, and three chickens live in West Michigan. Visit her online at

The image at the top of the page is one of Ann's chickens.


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