Let me introduce you to my creative friend Carly Cook. We connected over social media before we met in person, but I was so excited to get to know her better and get the opportunity to create alongside her. I now have the privilege of creating with her as we are part of the same church and I am constantly blown away by her creative ideas and her vision for seeing creativity used in a church context. She is a strategic and creative thinker and always has so many creative ideas bubbling away at any one time, whilst balancing that with being a busy working mum and wife. She does everything with flair and excellence and has blessed the church so much since joining, in the way she honours the church body and creates a backdrop and ‘creative space’ to facilitate beautiful family moments and creates space for others to come in and join with us for conferences and other events that the church holds.
Prepare to be inspired by…Carly Cook.
What prophetic words have shaped your life?
When I was 22, I received about four prophetic words from different people all in the same week, all of them were about how I may be small in stature, but God had big plans for me and also that God wanted to use my voice. I’ve always come back to the one about God wanting to use my voice and feel that has massively shaped my twenties and thirties. I’ve really grappled with what that means and feel ultimately, He wants me (and all of us!) to be a communicator of His heart.
Have there been pivotal moments in your life that have changed your direction?
Plenty! The one that comes to mind is when we were in our mid-twenties and had our first son, we’d been challenged by a friend to think about what we wanted God to do in our lives in the next 5-10 years. We’d never really thought like that before, but it felt like a really significant moment for us. We started to write down goals and dreams and became really intentional in going after what we felt God was calling us to. This really shaped our thinking and stopped us living passively from one day to the next. It’s also how we ended up living in Bedford and being part of King’s Arms Church!
How do you hear from God?
I often hear God when I’m doing everyday tasks, when I’m driving and see something on the roadside, painting my garden fence or doing the washing up. He speaks to me a lot through pictures/scenarios. Last summer, during my redundancy, I was painting our lounge wall green but had to do several base coats of grey first and I really clearly heard God say ‘the colour is coming’, which may sound silly as of course I knew I was about to paint it green but, I felt He was speaking to me about getting a job. About 30 minutes later I got called with a job offer and it’s been one of the most colourful/creative/life-giving jobs I’ve ever had!
What is your mission field/passion?
It’s hard to narrow it down, I tend to be passionate about wherever/whatever I find myself doing! I feel increasingly that I’m called to release creativity wherever I am, and I also love helping people figure out what’s important to them and live it out. I’ve realised more recently that I see in colour in a way I’m not sure everyone does so I also feel like I’m meant to bring colour wherever I go!
What do you do whilst waiting for promises to be fulfilled?
Listen to Kristene DiMarco’s ’Take Courage’ on repeat! I love the lyric, ‘He’s in the waiting’!
How have you coped with any disappointments?
I really struggled with my mental health in the first 18 months of moving to Bedford (we’ve been here two years now!) and it was a bit of a shock. I’d always been someone who is positive and coped well with change, but I was suddenly experiencing panic attacks and anxiety largely around disappointments with friendships, work and searching for a house. We had some major financial knock backs but have also seen the provision of God more abundantly than ever before and we just had to keep holding on to the promises of God that He is faithful and good and Jesus is enough for us in every high and every low. I also had to learn to really lean into inviting others into the pain. I’m normally pretty good at that but it felt more vulnerable with new church/new friendships. I found reading scripture and really grappling with the meaning of it helped me fight or gain new perspective on the things that seemed to be failing around us.
What do you think is the key to breakthrough?
Being faithful with what God has presently given you responsibility for whilst persistently going after breakthrough with integrity, humility and patience, not just because you want to get your own way. Researching and knowing why you want a breakthrough, having substance to back up feelings or emotions so when you get the chance to speak you have the resource to back you up. This is something I’m doing at the moment around wanting to see more breakthrough for creativity in the church. I FEEL very strongly that this should happen, but I also want to have the backbone and knowledge to back up what I’m feeling. I’m starting to bible study around what being made in the image of a Creator God means for creatives and the church. I’ve always been a big believer in getting my hands dirty if there’s something I want to see change; I don’t want to stand back and moan (which I have done!) but I want to be part of the solution.
What do you want to see God do in your life?
I feel like there’s a lot more freedom for me in embracing who He’s created me to be. I’m doing TSM (Training for Supernatural Ministry) this coming month so I’m excited for breakthrough and being pushed out of my comfort zone to be more like Jesus! I am a pioneer, so I’d love to have pioneered some exciting creative movements that bring freedom and communicate God’s heart to the church and the world. I’d love to have more confidence in calling myself an artist and be regularly producing beauty through art! I also have three sons and would love to see them flourish and love Jesus!
How do you pass on what you have to leave a legacy?
I love spending time with younger people and am often asking if anyone wants to help me with a work project or creative task. I’m an extrovert so love being with others but also, I think passing on what I’m learning by inviting people along on the journey is key. When I was in Newcastle, I put myself forward for teaching opportunities mainly with the student group, partly to press into God wanting to use my voice but also so I could share what I was learning in life. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how social media can help me with this as it can be such a good platform for sharing ideas and knowledge. I’d love to use my Instagram for sharing more revelation I’m receiving as I’m studying around creativity or growing in techniques.
What have been your biggest obstacles? How have you overcome them?
When I was pregnant with my eldest we decided that it wouldn’t work for me to work as we didn’t have family nearby and I’d always wanted to set up my own creative business and thought I’d love being a stay at home mum. This ended up being a pretty lengthy struggle for me as I really didn’t enjoy not working so then experienced a lot of mum guilt! I thought that to start a business I had to be REALLY good at one thing, but I was just good at lots of things so couldn’t ever hone it down. Then around the time our friend challenged us to be more intentional about going after our dreams etc, I started leading a communications team at our church in Newcastle which I absolutely loved! I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Comms but then when the time was right to start getting paid jobs, my experience as a volunteer at church wasn’t enough so I lost a lot of confidence in my ability to work and do something I would enjoy and be good at. I think it’s the low self-confidence and fear of failing and disappointing others that has held me back from a lot of opportunities. I recognise now that I can chose to let those things control me and feel a victim of circumstance, or I can remind myself I’m a powerful person and I get to make choices that can lead me to be in a dream job or upskill so I can offer something excellent one day as a business venture.
What is your process for painting in the prophetic?
I still feel like quite a beginner in this! It tends to be that I get a series of colours in my head and a vague idea of where I want them to be on the canvas, I often don’t know what it means or represents until the painting is finished and it’s often been in the process of painting that I feel God speaking through the brush strokes or colours. I just know that when I’m painting it feels like worship and I feel really connected to God and start dreaming and coming alive as I do it!
If you have enjoyed this blog you may want to read my first ‘Inspired By’ series. You can link to previous posts below.
Inspired by Series 2