You are Worth More

Watch oil painting “Sparrows” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

The last time I shared my sparrows painting was in April, in a blog post called “More than Sparrows“. But today I’m thinking about the “don’t be afraid” part of the scripture that inspired this painting:

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

There are dire warnings of all kinds of upcoming calamities and a predicted dark winter, and indeed, we are facing many fearful events in this age. It’s important to control our fears and learn how to not be afraid. It’s normal to feel afraid, but the act of being afraid is a matter of spiritual choice. We can choose to be courageous even when we feel afraid.

We will never be able to eliminate all of the dangers that life throws at us, especially if powerful forces are intentionally creating terror and suffering… and throughout history, this has always been true to some degree. But if we allow our fears to consume us, we will not thrive, and we may even make ourselves ill. Survival isn’t about just barely making it through the ordeals of life, but ensuring that we are strong enough to endure it with such determination and resilience that there is a beautiful life stretched ahead of us.

To make it through to the beautiful life ahead of us, we must find the beautiful moments within the hardships. We can’t wait until life looks like we want it to, as we need peace and joy every day. Like nutrition for our bodies and wisdom for our minds, we need happiness for our spirits. It’s possible for humans to give up the will to live in their sleep and never wake up. That’s how powerful our spiritual self is. Despair is dangerous. We must fight against it!

May the common sparrow encourage us. They seem to have an insignificant life, yet they are wonderfully made to instinctively know how to find food and survive the challenges of nature. They do more than survive, they thrive. As in, they lead a full bird life, the best that a sparrow can do. I see them flying about, gathering socially with their fellow birds of a feather, and settling in on the platform of our bird feeder. Their needs are met, by nature and by mysterious interactions with others (like me, putting food out there for them to eat).

We too experience more moments in which our needs are met than moments when we are in lack. This is easily proven by the fact that we are right now still alive. If we had too many moments of lack, we’d- to put it bluntly- be dead. But we are not dead, and we mustn’t ever let our soul feel deadened when we are clearly very much alive. May our blessed condition of living be enough to desire to not just survive, but to thrive. Seek joy in every little thing. Do not be afraid.

Are your seeds growing?

Watch this oil painting of a lily come to life in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

I had lilies just like this one in the painting, when I lived in Minnesota. They grow wild and are very hardy. They spread very easily. People use them for ground cover to fill in unused areas of property. Indeed, it was very easy to maintain these flowers. All it took were a few transplants and they took off on their own.

I’d heard that the same is true for chives. At a property we were staying in, in Indiana, the grass in the back yard had been overrun with chives. My husband noticed the distinctive onion smell when he walked out there. The chives were like weeds.

So, when I wanted to plant them here, where I’ve been living for the past four years in the Deep South (Georgia), I thought it would be easy. It was not. I went through two chive plants that we bought from the store. Dead. And dead. Then I planted from seed. They didn’t even germinate. I tried again. Nothing!

I wondered if I should plant something else in the lifeless pot. Why was it so difficult to plant chives? True, it’s been hot here, and chives like cooler weather. But there’s been a break in the heat and still nothing! All that was growing in there were a couple of pea spouts, from seeds that the birds had carried from my patio garden container over to the pot I’d intended for chives (cardinals, they’ve been caught in the act of transplanting my garden seeds several times!).

Today I read about something called a “prayer walk”. The author said you should walk prayerfully and be open to receiving a gift that will have spiritual meaning to you when you see it. I wanted to try this, so I did. But I didn’t see any gift and I shrugged it off as “oh well, I guess that didn’t do anything for me”.

I was heading back into the house when a flash of vivid brilliant red caught my attention. There was a red butterfly flying in my line of sight. I looked it up just now to see what I could have seen, and I think it’s a “red admiral”, a migratory butterfly that spends the winter in warmer states, such as Georgia. The red is only in the markings on the body, but it is so bright that when in flight, a flash of red would definitely be possible. I think that’s what I saw.

It was flying in the distance, across from the pot of soil where I’d planted chives seeds. I looked at the pot, considering whether or not to pull the errant pea sprouts planted by the cardinals. Lo and behold! My chives had sprouted! There were many tiny stems! Spiritually, this felt like my gift, and I instantly realized it was a metaphor for life in general.

When I want something to happen, I must be persistent. Try a new way. If the seeds don’t grow, try again. And I must live my life without obsessing and watching the pot. The seeds I planted and thought would never grow may just sprout, just when I was about to give up.

Have you planted seeds? You may not think your work is making an impact, but maybe it is! You might feel as if your efforts are never going to pay off, but maybe they will! Perhaps you’ll see a red butterfly and look down to find that the seeds you’d planted have sprouted. I mean this figuratively, metaphorically, and spiritually, but wouldn’t it be amazing if you literally saw a red butterfly too? You never know!

The Unusual

Watch this oil painting of the mother of Jesus “Mary of God’s Favor” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This oil painting was inspired by a statue I saw in Savannah, Georgia (and was for the art collection and book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia”). It turned out a bit odd, but just like I talked about before, in the blog post “Art I Don’t Like“, once I share my art it doesn’t belong to just me anymore. Art is a language and what it means is left up to the viewer. The meaning can even change depending on the mood, perspective, and time that the viewer sees it. Something we saw in it yesterday, may look different today.

When I shared this art inspired by a statue of Mary, someone felt a strong connection to it. He had an emotional response to this piece that I must respect, even though I personally think this art is unusual and even awkward. That’s definitely not how this man saw it. He felt that this painting resonated with his spiritual connection to Mary, and to his faith in general.

I’m going to keep on painting, always working toward my lifetime goal of 1k finished works, and along the way, there will be times when my journey isn’t about me. Instead of dismissing ideas or chucking my work in the bin, I will be generous about sharing paintings that I don’t feel a connection to, knowing that someone else might. What is unusual and off-putting to one person may be special and emotionally important to another.

May this be a metaphor for our lives. We may not always know when our inner light shines brightly for another person. Never hide yourself away from others. Even when it’s difficult, intimidating, awkward, or humbling, let us pledge to be generous about sharing who we are. Our energy is a language and a gift that is meant to be shared. We may not see what others see in us, but what they see may be exactly what they need. This is a hurting world. May our light shine even when we don’t feel worthy or special. We are a work of art that has value when shared.