At my request, a friend created this custom artwork for my new office. I’d been thinking about how I wanted the office decorated and the ONLY thing I knew was that I wanted one constant reminder.
“Forever” is my absolute favorite word in the whole world because it reflects God’s amazing promise: His children get to spend forever with Him! It is also a reminder that everything I face today is temporary. No matter how challenging life gets, and oh my Lord but it does get challenging, I know that a thousand years from now today’s troubles will be meaningless in almost every way.
I say almost, because how we respond to today’s challenges will definitely matter a thousand years from now; our actions today work together to determine who we will be tomorrow. When I stay focused on forever, focused on Him instead of the trials and tribulations that sometimes seem to pile on top of each other, I’m much more likely to get it right.
I have some awesome grandkids, and I love doing things with them. In fact, when it comes to things like birthdays, I prefer doing things with them to buying things for them. So when Connor’s birthday rolled around, we settled on an old-fashioned scavenger hunt.
Our city has been working on adding public art for the past several years, so we got a list of addresses and a map and took off. Well, we took off after mapping the locations of the art installations we were looking for. This made for a great impromptu lesson in map reading. We don’t think about how much we rely on Siri for directions!
Our initial goal was to track down all of the decorated boxes. We met that goal; the cat box is only one of many we found that day. But they’ve been REALLY art busy in Baytown, so we were far from done. If I were an Instagrammer, I’d have had a ball!
This book sculpture at the Sterling Municipal Library is fabulous!
Connor got REALLY excited when we found this…
Because it meant we’d also found…
…and what felt like a hundred other classic cars. His passion for classic cars, sports cars, etc., is… Wow. According to him, I had officially given him one of the best birthdays ever.
In fact, in the midst of a recent discussion about all of the new decorated boxes that are popping up around town, he said, “It sounds like we need to get back in the van and go hunting!”
Yes. That is what we call success.
If you’re in or near Baytown, you should really check out our public art – this is only the smallest sampling. I’ve lived here most of my life and am only now learning just how much there is to do within just a few miles of my house.
The portrait you’re looking at took me so long to complete that the one who commissioned it could have had a baby while she waited. Why did it take me so ridiculously long to finish such a simple piece? Was I so overbooked with commissions that my pencil couldn’t fly fast enough?
This commission came in while I was working on a special piece for an auction. The image, which happened to be of Jesus, had been in my head for years and I was excited to draw it. The auction supports great ministries, and I was thrilled to be able to contribute. Everything was going perfectly. The wood of the cross looked awesome. The clothing draped just right. The hands were amazing. and then I got to the head and face; these were my undoing. No matter how hard I worked, how much I reworked, I simply could not get it right. And then I ran out of time.
I “finished” the drawing, but even as I took it to the framer I was ashamed of it. It wasn’t just bad; it was humiliatingly, publicly bad. That it sold for less than I’d paid to have it framed was no surprise; I was glad it brought anything at all – and hoped that everyone would forget I’d produced anything so regrettable.
I have no idea how many pencil portraits I’ve done through the years, but I’ve drawn enough that I feel confident in saying I’m good at what I do. Even so, this whole experience shattered my self-confidence. the wise thing would have been to pick my pencils right back up and start on something else – anything else – but I didn’t. It was many months before I could bring myself to even pull out my supplies. Admittedly, laziness and procrastination were factors in the delay, but they were fed by fear of failure.
Strange as it may seem, I share this story to encourage you. How many singers have had their confidence hammered after blowing the National Anthem on the Little League field? How many young dancers have been ready to quit after going left while everyone else danced gracefully to the right? How many aspiring thespians have considered switching to Botany after mangling a monologue? It happens to the best of us.
Sometimes, hopefully most of the time, we’re able to stand back up, brush ourselves off, and get back to it. Then there are the times when we lie there, paralyzed for a while before something gives us the strength to rise again.
Swiftly or slowly (Swiftly is so much better!), the key is to DO IT. When hit with such a blow, we need to be like David who, after discovering the destruction at Ai, encouraged himself (1 Sam 30:6) and managed to get up and do the next thing – and he recovered all that had been lost. Fear is a terrible enemy, but we can conquer it. YOU can!
I’m not proud of how long it took me to complete this portrait. I am, however, proud of the work; it is every bit as good as I knew (somewhere inside) it could be. I am also grateful for the amazing patience of the friend who commissioned it, and for the vitally important lesson I’ve learned once again.
“Down” is not someplace anyone wants to be, especially over something so absurd. I’ve decided that, should such a thing happen again, I will take a page from David’s book and encourage myself (or read myself the Riot Act). I have to; there’s another picture waiting to be drawn!