If I gave you the supplies to make a painting, would you know what to do? A few weeks ago, I hosted a virtual bridal shower painting party for my sister. It was just my mom and sister and me painting on my porch that morning with many of our extended relatives virtually participating. Do you remember when I asked you to send me pictures of flower bouquets? Well, we all were painting different flower bouquets. It was a blast. I firmly believe everyone needs creative rest and it’s just good for us to try something that allows us to create, play, explore, and learn. There’s so much room for grace and magic in these moments. So, I’ve been painting my entire life, many times around these people I am closest to, and I assumed they knew how to paint. Surely, everyone knows how to paint, right? After about an hour or so, I discovered a very fundamental part of the process was being neglected. I thought they knew to use water to the acrylic paint to add a little more movement to the brushstrokes. They didn’t! And so it was a tedious process for them. Once adding water, the strokes got looser and they were more inspired. My mom wanted to keep on painting when time was up, after initially being frustrated! That’s creative rest. That’s entering into the kairos understanding of time instead of chronos. When you are so delighting and feeling inspired to keep going. It’s so fun to see their eyes light up as they are surprised by that kind of joy.
I also started teaching zoom lessons during this time of staying in place. It’s been my delight to mentor ten students so far in creative endeavors. From drawing, pen and ink techniques, watercolor, acrylic painting, to poetry, I’ve been experiencing the joy of sharing something that God has used in my own life to draw me closer to Him. I decided I didn’t want to make it a place of achievement but a place of delight. So I tell my students that we are learning to see, working in layers of progress, and having lots of fun.
A dear friend stayed with me for a long weekend where we were able to encourage each other in Christ in this trying time. Today I taught an art class virtually to two of my students. It didn’t occur to me until I finished my art class that my friend who was in my home just then probably hasn’t painted in a long time. When it’s your job to paint, you don’t always think of the fact that it’s not so normal to everyone else. In her few remaining hours before heading home I offered a little painting session for some creative rest. She painted some flowers that she had captured with the phone camera earlier this spring. I chose to paint a strawberry from my garden. The breeze on the porch was perfect. My dog, Bowie, sighed and melted on to the floor for a long nap. We painted together. We talked. We were silent. We breathed. We talked some more. I’ll say this, before we painted, we were weary and emotional with all the world was spinning in our hearts and minds, but when we had finished, we felt light and childlike and joyful. She remarked that it is frustrating to not be able to execute exactly what you imagine with art. I told her it’s always that way for me. I get closer but I never make the mark to match my imagination. But I keep showing up and letting myself grow in the process. We all need to accept that in creative pursuits, and life too, I would argue. There is a lot more grace and delight when we let go of perfection and pay attention to the moment in front of us.
For the past few months, I’ve been thinking of the many people who have mentored me in artistic pursuits. My older cooler cousin took me under her wing when I was just a child and taught me how to draw a cartoon mouse and elephant among other wonderful techniques. Two older seventh graders taught me how to illustrate our literary journal for school in art club with pen and ink techniques. Countless teachers over the many years and places of schools I went to—three significant ones being something like my very own Wrinkle in Time characters—the W’s- Mrs. Witthoefft, Mrs. Wright, and Mr. Witt. I’ve been thinking about discipleship too. No thing worth doing or loving in my life has ever been achieved by myself. Someone has taken me under their wing in some shape or form. Reading, cooking, gardening, dancing, painting, and so much more. Isn’t that beautiful picture of community? So I can teach others how to add water to their acrylic paint, and they can teach me their own mentorship expertise. And then we can pass it on to the next person. Multiplication can happen in joyful abundance.
When I think of discipleship, I think of people who prayed for me, patiently sat with me, studied the Bible with me, and mentored me. When I was in college I lived in a house of 12 girls. We had prayer partners. At the time, praying out loud was really intimidating to me. I remember my first prayer partner acknowledging how it can feel weird, but she reminded me we are talking to the God of grace and there’s no messing up. It’s a relationship. We can talk to him together. And she modeled what that looked for me and encouraged me to try. And you know what? I grew to love communal prayer. I know get to mentor others in thinking about what prayer can look like. That is a precious memory to me.
I’m looking at a painting I’ve started of a friend’s wedding. It’s been an extra paint canvas. Basically, I add to it when I have extra paint from my art lessons. Yesterday, the layer of extra paint I added made it start to come alive to me. Before that moment, it felt like something I knew I wanted to do, but also kind of a chore. Suddenly, I am excited to finish this painting well and gift it to my friend. There is godspeed in grace that takes us into that kairos place of peace. That excitement wave of motivation.
I’m praying for us to pay attention to learn to see. Can we learn to look for opportunities to love and mentor? Can we give ourselves grace and accountability to work in layers. Little by little, step by step, we will see progress in beauty, truth, and goodness when we don’t give up and keep taking steps of trust and obedience with God’s help. And y’all, it can be a lot of fun. Yes, there will be hard days and days we will want to give up, but that’s why we have each other, right? That’s God’s idea—relationship and joy and growing. I think of my little tiny strawberry plant from last year. The one that I didn’t get one strawberry from last year because the critters got them first. I blame the chipmunks because I saw them, but the birds and the bunnies are guilty too I’m sure. This year it has grown seven times its size. The crown plant dug deep roots and latent buds over the year and then the plant produced runners that sprout out and expand the plant for fruit bearing. It’s incredible to see this thing multiply. The big leaves shelter the fruit so some are actually protected for me to pick and enjoy. The critters definitely are getting their fill, but friends, SO AM I! I love seeing the flowers lead to fruit that lead to seeds for more growth. There is joy there. There is delight. There is beauty. There is rest. There is sweetness.
Jesus offers us living water, streams in the desert, the well that won’t run dry, and so much MORE. His is a kingdom of multiplication, grace, and family. Don’t forget to go to Him first when you are thirsty. And if you are painting with acrylic, don’t forget to add water.
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
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