Have you ever had someone recognize something in you that you couldn’t see or thought was insignificant about yourself? If so, it was probably someone who knows you really well like a parent, close friend, or mentor. But, what if it was a total stranger? Someone you have never met, but who was put in your path by no contrivance of your own. Things like that never happen to me. But, last month, it did.
I’ve been wanting to write a post about the whole thing, but on top of it being rather busy around here and being sick, I felt like I didn’t have sufficient words to describe the whole experience. I still don’t know if I have the right words, but I’m going to try.
(Before I start, let me pause for a minute and just mention that I am not generally someone who seeks deep significant meaning from simple decisions or experiences. I believe in seeking God for guidance each day so that I can make the best use of my time, but I don’t usually overthink everyday events. So, when I share this story, please know that I’m not trying to make something out of nothing, it just so happens that on an ordinary day while doing ordinary things, an extraordinary thing happened.)
When we came back to Malawi from Baltimore the last time, I was just discovering how much I love brush calligraphy, so I was of course searching all over social media for inspiration. I came across a wonderfully unique Christian artist from Australia who had the most delightfully intriguing way of illustrating stories from the Bible. So I clicked the “follow” button on her account, and more or less continued on my way. But, little did I know the impact that simple click to follow would have.
Unbeknownst to me, it had been in this unique artist’s heart to start blessing people with old fashioned “snail mail” packages, as she calls them, as part of a set of creative ideas for 2016. I had read her blog post about it and admired her heart, but it never crossed my mind that what was forming in hers was that I should be her first recipient…
Skip over to my sector of the globe, and you’ll find a simple girl trying to make the most of what she has in her tiny green hulk of an apartment. One thing I’ve learned over the last year or so is how much I love to make things. It started out with having to make things if I didn’t want to stare down the Incredible Hulk every moment of every day, but then I had the most amazing revelation that if I am made in the image of my Creator, He very possibly could have put a creative capacity within me.
So, I began to explore. I started doodling Bible verses and sketching bits that inspired me and painting a little with the cheapest children’s watercolor set I could find. I studied more polished “artists” and thought about a day and time when I might have the opportunity to practice with “real” materials, not just make do with my $2 watercolor set.
Fast forward to March. I received an email that nearly blew my mind. It was the unsolicited and humbling request from someone named Adelyn Siew, the same amazing Australian artist I had started following, wondering if she could bless me with a craft care package, and what might I like? I sat dumbfounded.
I struggled for a day or so with what to reply to her email (because how does one answer such an invitation?) and finally managed to humbly admit my love for her unique pen drawings and that I couldn’t find any of those pens in Malawi. And, so she thanked me, and I waited.
One of Adelyn's pen drawings that inspired me
Fast forward again a few short weeks, and a slip was in the PO Box for a package to be picked up. I could scarcely contain my excitement, but since we share a PO Box with the team and they had picked up the slip, I still had to arrange for a time to actually go to the post office myself to pick up the package. I waited three days, and finally Matt was going into town and I begged him to stop by the post office to see if he could get it. He waited over 45 minutes behind Peace Corps workers and local people to finally get the little bubble mailer with my name on it.
As soon as he got home, I couldn’t wait to tear into the package! And, when I opened it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not one, but SIX pens, I had loved, a brush calligraphy pen, a pen specifically for watercolor doodling, a paint brush pen, a sketchbook, and the most beautiful set of PROFESSIONAL watercolors I had ever seen. I sat there, eyes filling with tears and heart about to burst, looking at this extravagant gesture of kindness from someone I had never met.
photo courtesy of adelyn. I was too excited to even take a picture!
Time and space aren’t sufficient to explain how meaningful each item was, but it was like God had recorded the secret desires of my heart and whispered them into her heart as she picked out each item. It was one of the most personal and profound things I’ve ever experienced. So much so that I kind of just kept taking out the paints and pens and looking at them in disbelief for a few weeks. (LOL!)
But, finally, this past weekend, I opened the paints and with trembling hands painted my first few strokes. I can’t explain the excitement that bubbled up within me, but it was like something was being tapped into that I didn’t know was there. Maybe it sounds really lame to some people, but for me at that moment it was the farthest thing from lame. I had the sense that it was God stirring something He put in me and has wanted to draw out but that He knew I would never have pursued on my own unless it came in the form of a completely unsolicited, unexpected gift. This dear lady saw something in me that I couldn’t see, but I believe God must have revealed to her. To me, there is just no other explanation.
So, today I found myself in prayer, wondering what all of this is for: the love for making things, doodling, sewing, painting, journaling. I committed it to the Lord, and then opened the sketchbook I had received in the package. Immediately, a very simple illustration came to mind and the words to follow.
“Adventure in faith.” There are so many people who plaster their walls with words of adventure and travel, but rarely do they leave their living room. I may be living halfway around the world from many of those people, and it can seem like an adventure in itself, but the idea of adventuring in faith adds a whole new meaning to it. I want my whole life to be an adventure in faith.
As I thought about this, I thought of Abraham who ventured from all that he knew to a place God told him, “I will show you” (Gen. 12:1 AMP), and “by faith…he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go” (Heb. 11:8 AMP).
Everything that God is doing in my life can seem so fragmentary at times, but there is such a simplicity and freedom in knowing that I will be shown, and that I don’t need to trouble my mind about where I’m going.
I'm so grateful for the life of this lady, and I'm grateful that she was willing to adventure in faith to send that package. I'm not sure where all of this will lead, but I'm excited to take this ordinary day I've been given and take a step in this adventure of faith.