I was given an opportunity by Hayley Price, owner of The Scouted Studio and The Art Coaching Club of which I’m a member, to share my thoughts on being an artist and why I continue this intentional journey.
Last week, the horizon greeted me like a welcome rescue as I turned to the skinny road from the wider, more busy highway.
Both frustrated by my anxiety over the big white ghost of a Tahoe with headlights like a cat following me closely all the way and determined to breathe and be okay, thumbs on the places 4 and 8.
So, the sun rising wide over my granddaughter’s home?
A whisper, a sigh.
I could go on.
Thoughts rose up from an article or post I’d skimmed over, the question posed,
What is your Gethsemane?
Meaning, I supposed,
What did you ask God not to allow that He did anyway?
At first, I thought, how can we dare to compare our falling apart and asking to be spared with the request of Jesus?
Then, the mental list developed.
And then, another in contrast.
“Things that happened despite the things that happened”.
I turned the ancient wisp of pages to Mark 14 in the Bible with penciled “sermons to self”. Angela, an educator from Bibb County, Ga. added her wisdom and thoughts back in 1937, became mine because of an estate sale.
Curiously, a page is torn down the middle.
I think now of the veil torn in two.
The darkness midday.
The verses that describe Jesus being anointed with a costly ointment by a woman who was chastised is no longer here. Neither, the Lord’s Supper.
The garden scene is preserved, the plea of Jesus face down in broken supplication remains.
And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it be possible, the hour might pass from him. Mark 14:34 , KJV, Oxford
And we know what happened next, the agony, the death and the resurrection.
We know what happened because of and despite the fear in the garden.
What are your “Gethsemane moments”?
What is “scaring you to death”?
Look up, redemption will find you
And, in time pale in comparison to the unwanted anguish.
But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. Luke 22:32
Walking last week without music or advice in my ear, I thought about Peter and I thought about how years ago I could never imagine I’d think of such things, be moved to contemplation from a passage in a Bible.
In the margin, there’s a woman and the words Jesus said to Peter, “I have prayed for you.”
Jesus knew Peter would tell people “I don’t know him, that’s not me.” and so what was the reason he assured Peter of his prayers?
I began to think of a couple of possibilities, just my thoughts.
Maybe Jesus was praying, you’re going to live with the memory of telling the others seated around the fire that you weren’t associated with me and that memory can do one of two things…spiral you into shame and self-hatred or remind you that you’re human and yet, grace covered everything.
He also told Peter that he prayed he’d be stronger for his brothers when he came back to believing.
There’s a message here for us who are imperfect, whose lives were once “deniers of the love of Jesus”. We can use our stories of being found wrongfully acting and thinking to make our light even brighter and our belief in Jesus undeniably strong.
There’s such hope in the words Jesus said to Peter…”I have prayed for you.” Hope and assurance, He knows and yet loves us so.
Prayers are said, “Jesus Loves Me is my favorite”, she tells me when we talk about her songs.
It’s been the favorite for as long as her just over three years old.
There’s the song about the sun comin’ and the one that’s my favorite, three little birds outside my window happily reminding me every little thing’s gonna be alright.
But, “Jesus Loves Me” remains the three years running favorite.
We turned from dirt to pavement, up the hill on the way to town after noticing bright happy yellow faces of new sunflowers. I told her we’d walk tomorrow to see them up close and she gazed out the window decorated with stickers to tell me the trees were so green, maybe they’re full of blueberries.
We slowly move from country to town and she announces,
“I saw a raccoon yesterday…a big one.
It was in the road. Someone ran over it, keep looking Grandma, we might see it.”
I looked and remembered and told her that I’d seen a raccoon yesterday too.
The car became silent, my mirror told me she was thinking, dreaming, maybe somehow seeing God in a way I can’t through her window and up past the fat clouds.
So, I added “I hope the raccoon is in heaven.”
She answered. “He is. I’m sure.”
Her assurance was more than cute toddler sing-song words. I felt a presence, God’s as I kept driving.
I thought, oh to believe with such untested abandon, such unfiltered commitment, such direct and unquestioning conclusion.
Heaven. Of heaven to be sure.
A “roadkill raccoon”, according to my granddaughter is surely in heaven.
I smile over the image, I meet Jesus one day and popping around the corner, a raccoon or several. If there are thoughts in heaven, I think, “just like she told me.”
Since becoming a grandmother, I’ve seen through the eyes of a baby, now toddler just what to be sure of and what really does not matter at all.
I could tell all the stories I know of Jesus and they’d pale horribly in comparison to what her sweet soul knows about God’s care and love for us all, creatures and sinners and questioners who teeter on believing without evidence.
“I love you so much.” she offers unprompted.
Best love of all, unsolicited, not a reply to the same casual announcement, not a cordial gotta go, see you soon, love you
More an “I see you” and I think you need it, need to let you know, you seem to need it so.
“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:” 2 Corinthians 2:15 KJV
People watching must be a generational thing. Gift or curse?
It can go either way.
My granddaughter loves to sit on the front steps, at the foot of the walking trail, on every bench on the sidewalk of every busy street or tiny town square.
Cars, people, birds, puppies or any thing that captures her curious attention.
My grandmother was the same.
Plus, she’d strike up a conversation with any stranger she’d catch in a pause. They’d be trapped into listening. She might talk about us, or she might talk about her two daughters or she might just go on and on about embroidery or fabric or her support pantyhose the doctor prescribed.
Yesterday, I complained to others and myself about a woman who invited herself to my lunch table. She reeled me in talking about painting. My voice joined in. We compared our stories about creativity.
But, then she kept on.
And on and my information overload anxiety coupled with my not so sweet fatigue of “too much peopling” likely began to show on my face.
Soon, their lunch was done and her husband introduced himself to a lone diner, an older gentleman in plaid shirt and old black glasses, shoes worn down from shuffling.
He was thrilled when the woman began talking. There was no disdain over too much peopling as they lingered at the bar.
Later, my daughter and I shared similar but separate stories. Two women in two different grocery stores we concluded were wealthy because of their attire and because of the cash in hand. But, both wore signs of something wrong in their expression, something that said wealth or whatever couldn’t fix it.
I remembered the lunch counter talker, the way she’d comforted her husband as she shared just enough information for me to know that he’s a cancer patient. I remembered her caress of his bandaged and blood dried arm. I thought of her whispering something as she looked closely at the bend near his elbow.
The grocery store women, the waitress with the earrings in her cheeks for dimples, the woman who talked too much in the restaurant.
All made in the image of God.
Sheep like me in need of the shepherd.
In need of someone to talk to ‘cause we’re lonely, in need of grace as provision when what we own isn’t enough, in need of acceptance when we long to be accepted.
Myself, in need of a sweet repentance when my conclusions about others are tainted by anything other than love.
A love that loves to notice, invites conversation and a love that is patient and tolerant, curious authentically even
When “peopling” feels too much.
Lord, help my noticing of others always have the aroma of love.
And help me continue this “generational love of peopling ” that my Grandma started.
“And Job died, an old man, and full of days.” Job 42:17 ESV
The dark age spot on my right cheek has garnered by granddaughter’s attention. She’s announced to her mama that I need to see her doctor.
She’s reached the age of noticing, good things, flaws and unspoken thoughts too.
Last week, I saw a little boy I first met in 2019. He remembered me. He announced to his mama, big sister and me, “She looks older!”
We laughed at his precocious behavior and I came back with “Well, I’ve been through some stuff…you know…Covid!”
Then we all just nodded towards one another and got back to the reason I was there, a family adopting this sweet and observant sibling.
A trip through my phone’s photos confirmed my aging. But, also how the world gone awry because of pandemic changed other things too.
Look back, see if your face and others’ seemed to see things differently back then.
2017, 2018 and ‘19 early.
Less vacant expressions as now, less steely clinched jaws in posing, less uncertainty in linking arms in photos and less open and freely given embraces.
More hesitance, more lost eyes seeking something, what…
Less of need to tout your faith that was bigger than fear. More sure of sure footing and solid faith.
So much more sure, it was less necessary to announce it. I suppose I should say what’s clear, these words are realizations of myself.
Someone will know maybe upon reading this. Was Job sitting in a pile of sorrowful ash-covered questions the entire book of the Bible marked by his name?
Job, a man who honored God was the chosen soldier of faith to see if he’d surrender the battle or hold on unwaveringly to his relationship with Holy God and faith.
Stricken by the trial and test, his life gone awry.
His wife told him give up and die; his friends hung with him for a bit until saying clearly it’s you that’s wrong.
“And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Job 2:13 ESV
I wonder if he just kept sitting, unable to stand when his friends became devoid of empathy, questioned his plight.
“But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?” Job 4:5-6 ESV
Monday was a dark blue day, I named it. By evening the blue lifted.
Tuesday, before breakfast, we baked a promised cherry pie and then “skipped to my Lou my darlin’” together.
Something’s happening, last month it was chocolate meringue. Little things, joyously small, sweeter than the cliche’, I’m doing them, I’ve decided.
Baby steps towards allowing joy, being less afraid something or some world event will snatch it away.
My wondering over the trials of Job came as we set out barefooted. The ground was cool and my granddaughter ran way ahead, stopping here and there to gather sticks.
I’m a lover of his story, longing to understand more is the pull of me towards my Bible. I’ll not find details of when he found the strength to stand up, but I can still wonder and I can allow his struggle and recovery to help me recover.
How long was his lamenting conversation with God and was his rising again gradual or all of a sudden…were his feet weak and prone to wobbling or was his recovery smooth and sudden?
I told my cousin yesterday, I feel like we’re all in recovery and we’re apt to slip ups, prone to dismay. We need to say so, if just to ourselves and wait, watch and know the fog will lift, we will see clearly how to walk again.
I’m growing, but not fully grown. I’m walking with strong stride and steady steps, but still not able to walk on my own.
We wound our soft sticks together into an oval, twisted the knotty vines and tangled branches. I carried hers and she, mine.
Laid them on the counter among the flattened wildflowers from our pockets and we drank lemonade on the porch steps together.
Singing a silly sweet song and talking to the crows
This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through and you belong among the wildflowers, Lou, Lou skip to my Lou
became our Tuesday song.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 ESV
Last week, I added paint to the largest canvas I own and then added more only to cover it all in a veil of watery white. The original didn’t say what I wanted. I don’t yet know what I want it to exude, suggest or be a place for that story to be displayed.
I set it aside. No hurry, it will be there. I’ll not regret my decision that the first felt wrong, I’ll stay with it, in time it will come.
“Nothing good comes by force.”
This three page practice of writing is subtly changing me deep within, with my faithfulness to it.
“Most of the time when we are blocked in an area of our life, it is because we feel safer that way.” Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
I’m late to this book. That’s okay, I’m sticking with it.
Every morning, I write the names of my children, circle them individually and then loop them together, encircled. There’s no magic in this practice, only a commitment to continue.
There’s not a greater sense of assurance of God’s provision towards them, of goodness beyond my control. No, it’s really simple.
It’s an act of service, an act of love, my choosing to stay with it, this act of subtle intention.
By choosing this unspoken and barely articulated prayer, a comfort has come.
Love is not selfish. Stay with it.
The kitchen counter was covered with every cookbook my daughter owns with a little girl dressed like Cinderella plopped in the middle.
There was no recipe for cake for which the pantry had all the ingredients. So, we decide together with a bit of exuberance,
Chocolate meringue pie!
Cocoa powder, sugar, flour, milk, butter and egg whites all imperfectly measured were stirring together in the mixer sans vanilla extract and cream of tartar for little mountains of meringue.
Standing at the stove, an excited little chef beside me, I realized my wrong. I mixed everything together when I was supposed to add the eggs later.
I kept stirring the watery muddy mixture. She asked “Is it ready?”
Not yet. I kept stirring and glancing over at her and the mess we’d made, multiple bowls, measuring cups, egg carton and sprinkled flour.
I kept stirring, making up how I’d make it up, “Sorry, grandma did it wrong.” I’d tell her and then we’d either paint or play or I’d climb into the “jumpy house” with her.
But, it thickened. I’d lowered the flame and kept stirring and slowly, slowly and by surprise, I achieved filling for a chocolate pie!
Chilled and poured into the waiting crust, we added the translucent mixture for meringue.
Later, we shared a slice and celebrated.
Delightful, pure delight it was.
What if what you’re afraid won’t come true actually might? What if doubt takes up so much space in your mind that when delight comes gently knocking, you barely believe it.
You don’t let it in?
May His abundance never scare you, the possibility of it, the thought that it just can’t be true.
May you know its truth.
May you fathom what you decide is too beautiful to fathom.
May the peace you see in others allow you to never lose the same wonderful peace inside of you.
May others see peace in you that you don’t always see yourself.
It’s not of your making, but it’s every second there.
Stay with it, the way of love, peace and waiting. The way of enduring hope.
Of even more grace.
The way of continuing and believing.
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 2:1 ESV
I’ll return to the large canvas when it is ready for my peaceful intention. I have an idea.
It’s fresh and new, its perspective
There’s no rush. Only that I choose to stay with it, to not fear the size of canvas or the abundance of its story.