------ October 2019 -------

A Lonely Artist Gets Undone
black pencil

I’m kind of a spoiled brat.

I take that back. I am totally a spoiled brat. Blessed beyond any sense of reasonableness. And taking it all for granted. I am spoiled.

I thought I was doing pretty well. Hiding in my studio. Drawing my little pictures. Illustrating the cute little books people were sending me. Barely even had to talk to the authors. Give me a check. I’ll send you a book. Wasn’t bugging no one. No one was bugging me. Just enough work to keep me eating. I didn’t want to come out of my room. And I got away with it for a lot of years. But God wasn’t very happy with what I was doing, hiding from life like that. Throughout my life, He’s always had a tendency to mess in my stuff from time to time.

He was about to do it again ...

It was the end of summer in 2018. It was not a happy time.

Our sixteen year old cockerpoo, Chloe, was very sick. The vet told us she had maybe six months left. I was also struggling with some work projects that just didn’t want to come together right. Those thorns and thistles, you know. Add in some on-going personal problems causing me considerable emotional upset, all while I’m waiting for my sweet dog to die. Really?! What’s the deal? Why can’t life just settle down?

Now there are people on this planet suffering daily through all kinds of unfathomable hell ... have I mentioned that I’m a spoiled brat? My prayer life began to turn into self-focused whiny sessions. He quietly put up with it for a few weeks. But like any good parent, God knew what to do with a whiny kid: give her something shiny and new to distract her and shift her focus.

“Hey! How about let’s give you a website for your birthday!” He said.
“Cool beans!” unsuspecting whiny kid replied. Focus shifted! Mission accomplished!

So we began researching and picking through local web companies. By the last Friday of September, we had it narrowed down to two companies. We’ll make a decision over the weekend and call the loser and the winner Monday morning.

Saturday afternoon comes, and I’ve made my decision for Company A. Done deal. Just enjoy the rest of the weekend while waiting to make the phone calls on Monday.

Saturday evening: can’t sleep.
Sunday morning at church: can’t focus.
Sunday afternoon: a good, quiet time for a Father-daughter chat.

The conversation went something like this:
“I’m choosing Company A,” whiny kid says.
“I want you to choose Company B.”
“But Company A ...” and whiny kid lays out all her perfectly reasonable reasons.
“Well, you can choose Company A if that’s what you want. But what I want for you is Company B. What I want. Or what you want. You decide.”

Now whiny kid is most certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer – or else she wouldn’t be whiny kid! But she’s been here before and she knows how this works. Whiny kid is not web savvy. There will be a big learning curve and many bumps in the road. If whiny kid chooses her way, when she hits those bumps and needs help, she will be all on her own. God doesn’t desert His kids, but He also won’t be lending a hand to enable plans outside of His will. If whiny kid chooses His way, when she hits those bumps and needs help, He will be there alongside her, moving Heaven and earth to make a way for the plan to succeed. Even a spoiled brat is not totally stupid.

So Monday morning arrives and whiny kid makes her phone calls. And she hires Company B. Company B sets up the first appointment for later that week, and it just happens to fall on her birthday!
God winks.
“Happy Birthday, whiny kid!”

The website gets designed and is launched before Christmas. Superb work by Company B! And why are we even surprised! Whiny kid feels like she’s coming out of the dark and into the sunshine ... and it’s not quite as scary as she thought. Still shaky and taking tiny steps, but she can do this!! She’s writing articles, drawing pictures, and having the time of her life! Still hiding a bit. But at least now the door to her room is wide open.

Things rock along smoothly until one Friday late in spring, the one big bump whiny kid has been most dreading in the back of her mind, arrives in her InBox. Company B Web Guy emails whiny kid and says: “You need to be driving traffic to the website. You need to be on social media and you need a short, weekly blog on the site.”

I really wish I could say that I replied back with a resounding, “Yes, sir, Web Guy!” with no whining at all.
Unfortunately, it was more like: “Okay, I’ll do it. But I intend to be really, really miserable the whole time I’m doing it, and I will let you and everyone around me know for sure how much I really, Really, REALLY DO NOT WANT TO DO IT!”

I don’t know how Web Guy tolerates me, except that I know his company was hand-picked by God.
He’s probably a direct descendant of Job.
Time for another Father-daughter chat ...

“Okay, God, I can write short blogs. How about just five paragraphs? How about three? How about no paragraphs ... two sentences? Five words! But, please! NO SOCIAL MEDIA!! I hate social media! Please, God! PLEASE!! Don’t make me do it! Give me another way!! WAAAA!!”
God just winked.
Well, what kind of answer is that?! Hello! I need some help here!! Sigh ....

So I spent the rest of the weekend researching, studying, investigating, and, yes, signing up for a Facebook page. One of my friends confessed to me later that when she saw my name pop up next to a Friend Request in her email, she thought she had been spammed and almost deleted it! It was no secret to anybody how I felt about this stuff. But here I was, with a Facebook page. And though it took a while – wonder of wonders – I grew to actually like it!! God was quietly doing a work in me and I hadn’t even noticed!

So now the blog part ... I began writing a few just for practice to see what would be involved and if I could do it every week. I have a hard time keeping any of my articles short. But with help from God and encouragement from some wonderful friends and family, I’m learning how to do it. Who would’ve dreamed? It’s a miracle!!

And the rest, as they say, is history.

So here we are a year later. Happy Birthday to me!

Even better, Happy First Anniversary, Website!

If you had told me in July 2018 that within a year I’d be happily posting on Facebook and talking art and printing and publishing with the world, I would’ve said, “No way! You’re nuts!”

I only know how loved I feel. No matter how long or how far I turn away from Him, no matter how whiny and self-focused I get, He just keeps pursuing. Like a lover pursuing His beloved. He saw me, sitting alone in dark places, miserable, hiding, not being what He had intended me to be, not reflecting His glory to anyone around me, but rather burying and hiding the gifts He had purposed me with.

And I now know exactly why I was hiding ... because I saw all the wonderful gifts He had placed inside me. I tried to take possession of those gifts and wield them on my own. Show Him how terrific I was. How valuable I was to Him and His Kingdom. And failed miserably.

Because I had it backwards.

He doesn’t love us because we’re so wonderful. We’re wonderful because He loves us.

And we don’t want to be using His gifts to show Him how wonderful we are.

We want to use His gifts to show the world how wonderful He is!

It’s a subtle difference. Easy to get mixed up. Hang close to Him and He’ll keep it sorted out.

So now you know my tale ... and the story of my website. The website that God built. The site He will use to bring honor to Himself. A site where someone with a dream that will bring Him honor will maybe find some assistance in making that dream come true. A dream that will influence yet someone else. All I have to do is have fun drawing and writing and being available. It’s His work. His results.

If one day you wake up to find out God is messing in your stuff, just go ahead and let Him mess. He loves you. He has chosen you. He will chase you down to the ends of the earth until He wins you over.

So go ahead and let Him win ... and live out the rest of your adventure from a place of love.

John 3:16