when art changes me

Confession.

I want to be able to change my mind without feeling like I have to defend myself.

Although changing my mind can feel whimsical, strategic and revitalizing, it can also be a “time-out chair” of forced discipline where I sit to consider what I have done wrong now.

But I’m an adult.  I don’t have to ASK for permission to change, explain why or hover too long over a critical comment no matter how disorienting it can be for others.

“How do you like me now?!” I might yell from inside a tree, dangling from a branch with a thousand new curiosities in my heart.  And I’m still alive.  Very much alive, in fact.

Your eyebrows are furrowed.  But if you’ve been creating with the same style “that everyone loves” for the past 20 years, I invite you to join me in not following the predictable pattern for applause.  Try making something you know everyone will hate.  It’s kind of freeing.

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Unfinished.  Weird.  And I’ve already changed it and not showing you what it looks like now.  Ha.

If I held tightly to the “same old” routine, I would still be drawing realistic portraits of people’s dead pets.

Just.  No. Thank you.

Those who attribute the work I did in high school to my “best work” can stay there.  I honestly don’t mind.  But if someone wants to know who I am (not just what I made once-upon-a-time), I’m not there anymore.

Try to keep up. Or not.  Whatever.

Just one shade deeper:
Ever notice that people do this with God?
They stop at His feet or hands and never seek His face.
Unlike me, He never changes, but there is so much depth and width inside Him, I can dig deep on one detail for my entire life, or I can chase the many.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out.
[Prov 25:2]

 

 

 

“After You,”

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“After You”

Artistic inspiration visits unexpected at times and, when it is observed without criticism, it becomes shaped by wrestling groans long before words are ever there to defend its existence.

Delicate things, these inspired moments…

I remember the day He stopped the rain for a moment so that I could get out of my car and walk the ten feet into a building.  Such a small thing.  Yet.  “After you,” He said.

It was a still and personal moment I never shared with anyone.  How could I ever paint that for the review of comments?

Ever noticed how hiding safeguards you from criticism?  It also minimizes impact.  Maybe it was only for one person.  But maybe it was for the world…

Good Friday.  That day, His personal moment was not hidden. He was criticized to say the least.  The inspiration of His love inspires all who see and hear.  We still witness it today.

“After you,” He spoke like a gentleman in the rain.
“No, after You,” I reply in His pain.

Where will you follow Him?

“…not my will, but yours be done.”  Luke 22:42

 

fruit snacks.

Times of uncertainty & stress highlight the limited resources inside of us.

And what’s in side of us will come out!
       ….so have you noticed anything lately?

When I notice the “art” of how the circumstances reveal my character, I can leverage the difficult season to grow a rich supply of Life inside.  Critical thoughts don’t translate into kind words just because there’s no stress.

How do you eat more of that?
Well, I’ve learned to turn on the Light so I can see what I’m working with.
(The world offers options for numbing out in the dark.)

  • Do I have the kind of Love that keeps no record of wrongs?
  • Did I bring Peace into the Costco lineup?
  • Does Goodness suffer when my family’s shelves are bare?
  • Does my strength still come from joy or something else?

Fruit that’s tested in inclement weather thrives, but one worm can desecrate a whole tree.

Don’t get bit by fear. Get tested. (Not for COVID.) Get tested for character to make it through the trial with your heart and mind intact.

Snack. Time.

If the light turns up some fear or lack, confess it to God (sort of like washing your hands, but you can do it for longer than 20 seconds if you like). Admit you can’t do it without His help. Ask Him to grow something new. Wait for it. (Repeat.)

 

“The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts… This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives.”
2 Cor 8:2-6 (The Message)

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Image by Xandra_Iryna from Pixabay

paralysis of the heart

PRISONS come in assorted shapes & sizes, unique to the prisoner, unique to the warden:

A worm corrodes inside a cocoon, burning in its own digestive juices.
A bed demands nothing [if you can get out].
A label on my back [just out of reach].
A gathering of smiles [that don’t reach my face].

UNBELIEF is a type of prison that captures humans in lack of inspiration:

I have to take classes so someone else can tell me how they did it.
I fail when it doesn’t look like I planned.
I am fake because someone else is better than me.
I don’t deserve my own freedom of expression.

You were born creative whether you act on it or not.

Rest from restrictions.  The door is not locked by anyone but yourself.

IF YOU NEED permission to “be in a process of change” [like all the other human beings], consider it granted.

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Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus had restrictions too.

And that sometimes the biggest unbelievers were close friends and family.  Those who knew Him for a long time and presumably found it difficult to believe that He had changed.

“He’s out of His mind.”

“He is possessed.”

The impact it had on those who held on to what He was,

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” and it wasn’t who you thought it was.  It was those who believed.  And who were able to activate that belief into life.

Before you rule yourself out so quickly as being impacted by unbelief, look at the outworking of it.  What you do.

Although restrictions are not new, sometimes they look different.
If we are going to HEAL the world, sometimes we have to stay home.
If we are going to WIN the world, sometimes we have to leave [to get groceries].

 

 

It’s ok to not be in control.

Peace that relies on everything being perfect in every way is not peace.

Health, well-behaved children, matching socks, help with the lawn, people who do what you want, vigorous exercise and fresh healthy meal ideas every day.  Feels like peace.

Not peace. 

It’s control.  How would I know?

True peace doesn’t spoil when you can’t control your circumstances.

When you know whose you are and where you are going, situations may SLICE you,  but inside your greatest resource cannot be ripped away.

We still grieve our losses.  But some things are never lost.  Hold tight to love by sharing it.  And if you don’t have it, here’s a peace…of pie.

God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
in complete dependence on me—
The very thing
you’ve been unwilling to do. 
[Isa 30:15 MSG]

peace of pie
It’s ok to not have everything turn out the way you want it. [breathe]

humanity hangover

Excuse me for a minute while I have a Humanity Hangover.
 
Collectively, we are not drawn to PEACE in times like this.
(I’m noticing it isn’t a good motivator for vigorous hand washing.)
 
PEACE is an insult to the desire to be a victim of a virus. Of an economic downturn. Of cancelled events and flights. Of choices other people make.
 
Nobody wants to be a victim, but what are the options here?
Clearly we are not in control….isn’t control an illusion?
(Maybe that’s why I keep waiting for zombies to appear.)
 
Has anyone ever been in control of the economy? Disease? Weather? Free will?
 
Oddly, there is a felt safety in the victim mindset.
Let me flashlight.
When you are a victim it means that you were not responsible for what happened.
And because of that you are maybe probably also not responsible to change. Perhaps. Maybe.
 
But. When do you take your sense of responsibility back?
How long do you wait?
When does it start to feel good to linger a little bit longer…
(And now suddenly, I’m not talking about the corona virus anymore.)
 
But TODAY’s pandemic becomes the hyper-vigilance of tomorrow’s belief system. I have a concern that we will continue with social distancing when the threat of infection is long gone.
 
When you are relying on someone ELSE to do all the work, you are powerless. A victim if THEY don’t do it right. Can’t read your mind. Didn’t wash for the full 20 seconds. No effort is good enough and it’s your fault.
 
Although peace does not hinge on being in control of everything (even if feels like it), neither is PEACE losing control over your responses.
You can change how you respond.
Or, at the very least, wait for the surprise I’m praying for all of you:
God doesn’t do social distancing.
“It was the first day of the week, and that very evening, while the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you!” He said to them.”
(John 20:19)
 
(Caveat: Although I am using the same word, I am not speaking to Victims of violence here. Same word. Similar mindset. Different cause. I’m freely using the word victim to capture a mentality of the loss of agency we are all feeling right now.)
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Photo by Hadi Slash on Pexels.com

pandemic peace

If peace can’t exist in the middle of pandemonium, when exactly is it needed?   

Just like there is no proof that you are a patient person until there’s something to wait for, neither is their proof that you have the Fruit of the Spirit until you are in the middle of a pandemic.  Can I get a mask for that?

As long as we continue to look for peace in media, statistics, civic duty.  Toilet paper.  We will continue to play hide-and-seek, with a whole lot of seeking and not a lot of finding.

Where did I leave that again…..?

Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you” (John 14:27).
So, where did He leave it exactly?  Here’s a hint:  “Not as the world gives.”

The world.  So good for so many things.  Like easy access to information.  Like how much money you lost on the stock market.  And.  The risk of shaking hands.  Might I suggest that while information is helpful for decision-making, so is peace

Here’s the clincher:  Finding the peace Jesus left here takes time, faith, and humility; and is not nearly as dramatic as flying droplets or crashing data.

You want peace?  There’s only one way to find it:  Jesus.

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!”  [John 16:33]

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Image by leo2014 on Pixabay.

even bad art can inspire

Ever witnessed someone sing off-key?  An ugly painting?  How about an unexpected dance that breaks all the rules and you feel appalled and fascinated at the same time?

Ever wonder why some people risk being horrible at something?  I do.

I’m more inspired that someone is attempting to do something they are NOT GOOD AT then when it’s polished and looks effortless…

because it’s humble (and I want to be more)

because it’s risk-taking (and I want to take more)

because it’s surprising (and I want to have more)

Creating badly has a way of bypassing logic straight into my soul.  I sit, stunned:

  • But you can’t sing. Why are you singing anyway?  You mean, that’s allowed?
  • But you’ve never painted before.  Why now?  You mean, there’s still hope?
  • But you can’t dance.  It looks hilarious.  You mean, joy is reason enough?

Inspire someone today:  Do something badly.

I will go first. (You’re welcome.)

 

people live with undue misery because they don’t write poetry.

I can be annoying.  If you want to be friends, there’s something you should know about me:  I have been known to  p u s h  unwilling victims to “write a poem for that.”

I donut think it’s criminal, but that’s probably because nobody has died from writing a poem.  So we should be friends.

Here’s the hole.

The more you say, the less it means.  Remember the last time you sat in stunned silence.  Where was the sermon for that?  While it seems counter-intuitive to ink the page when you are in the middle of a scene, I  p u s h  you because the scribbles are there.  (They’re just hiding.)

Poetry is a hallway.

It gives you access to words you didn’t know you had yet.  Resistance to poetry is stressful.  Stop wasting your energy coming up with excuses about not knowing how to do it right.

Still alive?  Write a poem.

I’ll go first.  Tomorrow.