I want to begin using some of this blog space to share stories. I have been incredibly graced to be in a position where I get to see beautiful, brave stories unfolding and emerging forth in the world. Perhaps you have a story to tell, or a story to hear to help you along the writing of your own.
I want you to meet Tiffany, a beautiful, gentle soul who has a quiet strength. She reminds me of a middle-earth elf as she walks around life, her beauty and gifts quietly being sprinkled upon those she loves. She amazes me, as she is always looking for ways to extend good, yet never drawing attention to herself or her actions. Her acts are largely unnoticed; things done in secret that bring great joy to the receiver, whether they know they are receiving or not.
I met Tiffany through Waking Up Grey a few years ago. She attended a retreat with her group and I could see she had already gone into a deep place in her own process. I continued to watch in amazement as she found more and more creative freedom, went through leadership training and began to help form that work in others. I saw her creating space for others to gather their freedom and take flight. Here from Tiffany in her own words what took shape:
My story is one that is ever changing and growing.. as is the work of our Lord. My utmost desire is to yield to His plan and allow the beauty to come from Him and be orchestrated by Him. I don’t do that perfectly all the time, but hope that His beauty may shine brightly despite myself! In January of 2009 I went through “Waking Up Grey” lead by Holly Chapman and Betsy Caldwell. It was an amazing journey of learning how to quiet myself and listen to God speaking to me in new ways that I had never heard Him before. The book was challenging and wonderful.. I explored areas of regret, yet rejoicing in God’s plan for me to discover Him before discovering the gift of the passion to create. His beautiful story is being written in my life, with the snags and imperfections being woven into it as well. I deeply embraced the areas of His refinement in my life, and his continued refinement so I may reflect His image. Waking up Grey allowed me to embrace the value of ‘me’ time.. and that time being spent gazing on Christ, thinking, praying, listening to Him.. whether that was journaling, painting, being crafty, organizing, or whatever! Breaking the cycle of having to feel that I was ‘being productive’ according to what the world considers ‘productive’ allowed me to breathe deeply! When contemplating Him, I can feel fully free to experience the security of truly being myself or consider who God created me to be! That security in Jesus allows me to consider my creativity as a true part of my being that He has made to reflect Him, the ultimate Creator!
With this deepened feeling of security, I felt the freedom to pursue painting. It is something that my soul truly loves to do. The pursuit of growth and desire to learn in this has been a passion that I’ve never experienced before. The sting of failure will always hurt.. but the ability to release it to God and His timing eases that sting.. and helps to push me along in the desire to keep growing. I have loved having opportunities to share my work with others through galleries and shows and becoming involved in the art community. I hope that His character may shine though in my work.. and the fun passion I have to express His uniqueness in creation.
In this pushing and growing, I have had personal struggles as well.. The struggles come with the sense of ‘self’ or making the art ‘mine’.. “Self” cannot be too large and speak too loudly where God’s voice becomes too drowned out by my desire to push. I still have to listen carefully to yield. I haven’t always gotten this right.. which is sad as well.. BUT, I have great faith in my redeemer. He still pursues me and desires for me to abide with Him and stay in relationship. Thankfully, I still feel the desire to paint and grow, which I believe is a desire that comes from Him. I keep praying that if it is out of His realm, to take that desire away… but “ART” has to have a ‘little a’ standing in my life, not a ‘big A” for me to abide with Him and love my family well. At some point, that word, “ART”, may have a larger letter “A” in perspective to my family and children, but I have to measure that with God and family. This brings me back to recognizing that my story is ever changing and growing, due to His work in my life! I invite anyone to dig deep with Him, and allow Him to show you areas where you can trust Him more fully as well!