Painting Layers


I find a misty well rising in my eyes these days. Stinging. Breaking. Falling. Like my heart. It’s because every tear holds a face, and every face holds my heart. Tears drip onto pages of my life and the colors bleed together, making forever indistinguishable what was once separate.

I suppose this is what makes endings so hard. It seems that between the beginning and ending of things there is the messy bit called the middle. And, it’s in the middle where the tears and faces and hearts all bleed together like colors on the pages of my life.

Endings loom and threaten to deem senseless what has become permanently united. And, if I simply end here, there is no meaning in the blending. But, I think it is not truly so. These colors and this bleeding and this ending is but a layer, a foundation. I cannot see the fullness of this purpose, but I know every future layer relies on this beginning one.

I read the wise words of one whose colored pages are still being layered upon despite his earthly ending. “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind,” says C.S. Lewis. There is a stinging note to this statement if it means that what “we leave behind” is to be forgotten. But, I think that it can make such a bold statement because it looks with hope to the things ahead, notwithstanding the things behind.

How can a painter complete a painting if he mourns the ending of each layer? He must rejoice in that layer and begin again with newness and freshness and excitement for what he will build upon the previous. 

I suppose one of the greatest joys to a painter is the actual process of painting. In reality, it’s a continual series of beginnings and endings that make up a whole realm between the beginning and the ending. The middleness of it all. I wonder if it’s really this middle part we are after, the process between the beginning and the ending, and the process of beginnings and endings.

It is here that I catch a glimpse of the Ultimate Painter, the One painting on the pages of my life. I find myself mourning the ends of the layers and fearing the beginnings of new ones, and the tears sting and break and fall in the process. But, I forget that He is the Master Painter, loving every stroke and blend of life and color in each season that I pass through, willing to allow unseemly drips and tears to become a part of it all because I think He loves the middleness, too.

He came and lived in the middleness. He painted the lives and loved the heart faces that He bled for. With blood He painted their lives into finishedness. And, so He paints mine. I am not finished in my life today, but I am being painted into finishedness, layer by layer, grace upon grace, glory to glory. And, as He paints strokes and layers, blends lives and colors, He is making something beautiful in the finishing process; making beauty in the middleness.

Publish Openly the Good News


Here I am. I am taking another trembling step in this new adventure of faith. I’m “sharing it.” My tiny, humble, reluctant response to Shanna Noel, founder of Illustrated Faith. I just finished reading through her devotional “Created to Create,” and the whole way through I was rejoicing in my heart over her words. She goes through several thoughts about reckoning on the fact that we are beings that were created by the Creator, and, since we are made in His image, we have the potential to glorify Him in a creative way.

I could sense the Lord touching areas of deep-seated insecurity and deficit motivations that seek validation from more than just One. It was humbling, but all along I kept sensing this nudge from the Lord to keep exploring the idea of meditating on His Word and worshiping through the creative capacity He has given me in the form of illustrating my faith. He finally validated it through the story of Abraham in Genesis 12:1 and Hebrews 11:8 which says that Abraham was “urged on by faith” to obey God and follow Him, and “he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go” (Heb. 11:8, AMP). Being tentative by nature, it was a big deal for me to decide to jump out in faith and attempt to discover what God might have for me in this adventure.

I was continuing through the devotional excitedly, keeping this idea of God leading me in all of it in the back of my mind. Then I got to the “Share It” section. She quoted Mark 16:15 which says, “And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race]” (AMP). In my own little way I thought, ok perfect! I’m a missionary in Malawi, and I love sharing my faith with the people around me, so I can just continue growing in my creative capacity in the quiet of my own home. “Share it,” check!

But, I continued reading through the rest of the thoughts Shanna shared. It was about her own sharing experience. She expressed her own struggle, how she actually ended up sharing, and how she continues to today. She finished the section with the instruction: “Write down a couple ways you feel you are being called to share…”

I felt a giant, nauseating pit form in my stomach. I quickly went back to the original verse in Mark 16, “Go into all the world” – CHECK – #livinginafrica.  “…And preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel)…” What?! “Publish openly” what God is doing in this area of my life? My first thought was, thanks a lot, Shanna! (I’m only kidding, I am so grateful she didn’t leave this part out!) But, how could I deny it? There it was in black and white, and in Scripture no less.

My dilemma was great, but I had to seriously think through the significance of the placement of that section in the devotional. I had clearly sensed the Lord lead me to buy it, and I went back and read each of the previous sections of it.  I came to the conclusion that I wholeheartedly agreed with every single other point she had made. So now I was faced with the decision to gloss over this more personal and uncomfortable part so I could stay in my comfort zone, or I could take a step of faith and agree with this exhortation, not only from a seasoned woman of faith, but from Scripture itself. (One reason I love the Amplified translation is for its breadth of explanation, but at that moment I wished I had been reading my King James Version!)

So, here I am. I am doing my humble best to “share it.” The “artwork” that will be shared here is very much like me, a work in progress, so please bear with me. I’ll be sharing some blog posts here and there, but it will probably mostly be on Instagram under @little.lisa.girl, which is the nickname my mom gave me as a child. I feel like a child in all of this, and I want to continue to learn like a child in all of this, so it seemed only fitting. My ultimate motivation in it is a final thought Shanna encapsulated beautifully: “Here is the other thing about sharing: all you need to do is share, and God will do the rest.” So I’m obeying this little nudge, uncomfortable and new as it may be, and trusting that it can be used (or not used) by God in whatever way He chooses.