Well, if you read my last post, you know what's been going on in my spiritual life and my artistic life. The two have been intermingled of late, and it's been interesting, to say the least. I wish I could adequately describe the spiritual warfare I experienced while painting those scenes of Christ. I knew I was doing something right; someone didn't want me to finish them. But I had heavy-duty Reinforcements! So, I just kept painting, and He took care of the rest. Christ being baptized, healing, teaching, holding a child, several close-ups of his face, all different...and his face during the crucifixion was accompanied by my tears. The final painting of his glorious return was difficult. How could I know what that would look like? How could mere paint depict that glorious event on a little 5x7" panel? I wrestled. I worried. Over and over, I heard, "You just keep painting. I'll take care of the rest." I was told not to discuss them with people in advance, other than posting here on my blog and discussing it with a prayer partner. I was also told not to photograph the completed works, nor was I to sign them. They were to glorify Him, not me. I had to push aside my pride and possession of talent. I would be rewarded later.
The first Community Outreach was on Monday, June 6, 2011 at 6pm on a hot sunny South Carolina evening. Our daily temps have been in the 90's and the sun isn't setting until after eight pm in the evening, so I'll let you use your imagination about the setting in the little community. Several church members came together with a huge grill, free hot dogs, hamburgers, and all the fixins. There was a variety of chips offered with cold bottled water. Free face-painting and balloons entertained the kids. And there I was...with nineteen 5x7" panels of oil paintings on a table with a sign that read "Free - Take One". What on earth was I thinking? Would I need to tell people that God had simply told me to do this? They would think I was insane. I wiped sweat from my eyes, ignored the wet hair matted to the back of my neck, and stayed the course. I kept stepping away from the table to talk to others painting faces and serving food. As time passed, I noticed there were empty spots on the table. Everyone who chose a panel would approach quietly to thoughtfully select one. It was...reverence. I didn't have to explain; they knew. Occasionally, a child would shyly approach and I would ask,"Would you like a painting?" They would smile and nod, pick out their favorite and I'd wrap it in waxed paper for them. One woman repeatedly thanked me, and even after saying good-bye and pulling away, she stopped to get my attention from her car window with one more expression of gratitude. After thinking about the event, I now notice the contrasts. If I'd been in a gallery opening, there would have been negative comments, empty compliments, or questions. Maybe one would have sold. And what would I have gained? And who knows what will happen with those little paintings? I pray they will not become idols, but passed on to others as simple inspiration. I purchased more little panels to prepare for the next outing in a different location. Please pray for all concerned. Love & Laughter, DJ
Why am I amazed when prayers are answered? Sunday Evening Service, May 1, 2011 6:00 pm - Over the past year or so, we've been attending a church that is about 30 minutes away from our town, where the pastor is a close friend of my husband and there is an authentic atmosphere of simple worship and sincere service/mission outreach to the world. (This is the church where several members & I went to Honduras in 2009 and the awesome miracle occurred. The story is entitled "Travels" on my page at CCS. ) On Sunday night, my husband began a six-week study entitled, "When God's People Pray" by showing a video of Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle, speaking at a conference about the fact that “My House shall be called a House of Prayer.” In the video, the conference attendees where Jim was speaking experienced such a powerful moment that just viewing the video touched all present. After viewing, everyone there in our little church was at the front altar praying for guidance & a refreshing of spirit for the church and town. Several of us stayed afterward, talking about what God would do in the coming weeks if we used prayer as an initial foundation for everything undertaken by the church. As if the sincere response to the video wasn't enough, as the pastor talked informally about future efforts to reach out to the little town, an ongoing prayer of mine was answered. PIECES OF THE PUZZLE 2008? 2009? - Several years ago, I had been asking God what I was supposed to do with my paintings. Was I supposed to seek gallery representation? An exhibit? Sell them online? It all seemed so self-serving and commercial. Since my main mission has been reaching children with art, putting my name out there as an artist who sought money for her work seemed so...Greedy? Arrogant? And then, would I have to grovel to the gallery owners? Try to get them to "like me" or "like my work, please?" Would I have to change my work to please demands? Worry about percentages of who got what? And a big question: Would it all take away the JOY of slapping paint on a canvas that I'd worked so hard to reclaim after closing down my commissioned portrait artist shop and turning my back on my easel years ago? Puzzle Piece #1: I found, online and on youtube, an artist who gave her work away to her community. I was smitten! She got a grant to do it on a large scale, and just did it. The people attending her unconventional outdoor exhibit got to take home original photographs of their community, even if they couldn't afford outrageous prices of "fine art". For over twenty years, I'd been dealing with children whose parents couldn't afford fine art prices. But doesn't EVERYONE deserve to have original art in their homes? Why should it be that only the wealthy get to have real art? I would love to give away my paintings. How would I do it? No idea. Puzzle Piece #2: In the meantime, my husband & I began to attend the wonderful little church in a nearby town where his friend was pastoring, after I went on a mission trip to Honduras with them. The pastor is a missionary who’s been around the world, and had come back to pastor the church a few years ago. He has wanted the church to reach out to the little financially-depressed town where there are hurting people who need hope. He would speak of it in the pulpit on Sunday mornings, and I would feel God tapping me on the shoulder, as if to say, “Uh huh. You hear him, don’t you?” I would respond with, “Are you kidding, Lord? I’m already working in my classroom as a mission field for you in my own town. And I don’t even know anything about this little town?” Time passed, and I kept painting. Puzzle Piece #3: In October of 2010, I painted a picture of Christ. This was unusual for me, since it’s difficult to really know what he looked like. But there it was, a picture of Him looking upon a believer. Between December and March, I hit a dry spell in my painting, and chalked it up to being busy with Life. When I thought about painting, I only played a bit on canvas. Was I blocked? I don’t normally have artist blocks, since I teach students how to overcome them… so, what was this? Puzzle Piece #4: March 2011 a couple of my friends went to Cuba on a mission trip. (Two of my beloved companions on the Honduras trip) Upon their return, they gave a report on the trip one Sunday night, telling how God had provided supplies for their makeshift medical clinic, since one is an eye doctor and the other, a nurse. Afterward, I felt compelled to tell one of them about my convictions of outreach to the community whenever the pastor mentioned it, asking her for prayer, since she’s a powerful prayer warrior herself. While driving home from that Sunday night of sharing, I was given clear instructions: God told me that I was to go to that little nearby town where I didn’t know anyone but a few church members and set up a table this coming summer to give away small pieces of art that would point people to Him. HUH? What was that, Lord? Yes, I know you even gave me visuals of where I was supposed to set up, but you’re kidding, right? You want me to do WHAT? I jokingly told Him this had to be wrong. :-) This was just my imagination. Of course, later on, I went to Wal-Mart and purchased small wood plaques to paint on, just in case! April 2011 - I ended up painting another rendition of Christ the Saturday before Easter 2011. Hmmmm… I got busy with school and it all got pushed to the back burner. Puzzle Piece #5: Sunday, May 1, 2011. The church pastor had been working to inspire in the membership a need for prayer as a foundation, so when my husband offered to do a six-week study on prayer, he was pleased. My husband opened the study by showing the powerful video of Jim Cymbala speaking about prayer and afterwards, after a responsive altar call, we were all praising God and discussing what God was going to do through the church for that little town. That’s when the pastor said it. “For one thing, this summer, we’re going to go to a needy section of town, set up a grill, and just give away hamburgers and hot dogs to folks.” I was stunned. There was my answer. The puzzle pieces all fell into place. After I picked up my chin from the floor, I falteringly said, “Um, I have to tell you something.” I told him and my husband about everything: the artist giving work away, and about my instructions driving home one Sunday night, and how I wasn’t even supposed to sign the work, but let God be the focus in it all. The pastor broke into a gentle grin and said, “Amen.” My friend, the eye doctor/prayer warrior was informed that I’d found my answer and I recounted everything to her as we laughed, cried, and rejoiced about God’s ways being more powerful than we could ever imagine. Many of you already know that home turf can be more difficult to minister to than abroad. The first set up is in early June. Please pray for me & the others who’ll be going out. I’ll keep you posted. Love & Laughter, DJ
Isn't the passage of time .... um....tricky? swift? One day, you wake up, and the First of 2011 has turned into Spring of 2011. I haven't finished my New Years' Resolutions/Goals/Focus Word of the Year, yet.
Life Stuff has TRULY overwhelmed me this year, but then, Life Stuff is always present for everyone!
I know you go through the same things: 1. job stress, (dealing with an incompetent person for 7 weeks. Will I/my husband have a job next year?) 2. family events, (birthdays, the 10th anniversary of our wedding proposal was special) 3. art-making decisions, (I'm blocked & busy. Now what?!) 4. illness, (Multiple migraines in one week = not good. See number one above) 5. friendship issues, (two ladies cancelled lunch dates in one week. Oh well) 6. pet health, (my four-footed son is slowly dying of a bad heart. But not today) 7. a mysterious spot on the just-washed new shirt (yet another paint shirt, if I get unblocked enough to use it) 8. home improvements (6 months to finish a bathroom? My sweet mother-in-law was patient with our daily shower visits. Now we find out we need $2500 worth of new pipes installed below ground) 9. car repairs, (two body shop visits for $1300+ in three weeks. You don't wanna know) and last, but never least, 10.Duty to Fellow Man while 11. Saving the Planet that Fellow Man Lives Upon.
But I'd really like to take off my Super-Hero cape for a bit and just talk to you. Have some tea...coffee...ice-water... Pop some popcorn or grab a cookie. From the store-bought container. Ahem.
The sun is shining, my favorite Cardinal family is flying around the backyard, my cat is home from the vet and walking around, at least ONE room in my house is clean, and this school teacher is on Spring Break until the 11th of April.
After a prayer of gratitude to the First Creator & His Son for never leaving my side these past few months, I need to clean my palette and put this Life Stuff on a cathartic canvas. Grab that bag of cookies on your way to my studio, will you? I have an extra canvas waiting just for you. We'll fill them up with lots of Love & Laughter, DJ
An artist who enjoys oil painting, art journal swaps, ATC swaps, watercolor painting, drawing, mixed media, and talking about art with anyone who will talk back.
Thanks for stopping by, and please leave a comment, so I can repay the favor.
Hope God blesses you with lots of Love & Laughter...