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Tears

Lord, thank you for my tears.

There is a power in vulnerability.

A freedom in release

A safety in showing weakness

because I only can

when I know it’s going to be ok.

 

“Beautiful passion, Bethany! It is a good thing.” he said to me about my crying! Beauty? Good? How can something that hurts and exhibits incredible weakness be good? The topic of crying has come up around me much in the last year. Probably because I have cried MUCH. Many torrents, waves, episodes, splashes and glimmers. Leaks, glistens, and nasty snot-fests. They say when a people group is very familiar with something they have more names for it. Eskimos in Canada are said to have had 12 different words for snow. A tribe in Papua New Guinea had no word differentiate blue from green because colors don’t matter much in their culture. I have new subcategories for crying. This is maybe a grasp for dignity, and also just comfortable familiarity. Full on torrential crying happens often enough so I need a different category for a slight eye-watering, otherwise I would just have to say I cry every day! Or multiple times a day. My roommate has asked me why I am crying, when really my eyes are just watery. “I’m not crying!” I say. What I mean is, “please give me credit for maintaining some measure of self control because sometimes I don’t. So I want a different name for this than for the times i let loose and really boo-hoo.” You can see I have experienced some shame attached to my crying. And many people do! While others long for it and for whatever reason can not easily let themselves go to that place. Maybe a mental/emotional disconnect? Maybe a long-learnt habit of self protection? I don’t know- I’m definitely not one of those people! 

 

The Bible says self-control is a fruit of the spirit. It also says, “for everything there is a season”. And, “Those who sow in tears will reap in shouts of laughter.” And, “you have put my tears in a bottle.” And, “He is close to the broken-hearted.” So obviously the Holy Spirit believes it is sometimes appropriate to cry- otherwise he would not have written those things. Jesus cried on several occasions. There is strength in the ability and the security to express weakness and sorrow and struggle. 

He said beautiful. Beauty? Not just acceptable, but beautiful. Not just NOT shameful, but good?? My friend Carl explained that for passion to be released in my art, which is important, it has to be free to be released in other areas as well. I can’t choose to inhibit one area but keep the others free-flowing. Your crying is beautiful as well. At the core of my belief that it is beautiful and good is the belief that YOU are beautiful and good. God made you and then he said so. So if you are beautiful, and the most real, raw thing you can do in this moment is to cry, then that is beauty. A thread in the tapestry that makes who you are. One piece of the fabric of God’s plan to bring you a future and a hope, because he is working this moment of tears for your good. It is a promise. It does not mean you are weak, or that you are falling apart, or that the good you so desperately want to cling to is falling away forever. It does not mean that moment of crying will last forever. It will pass and you will have done what needed to happen to release and accept the next moment. A fresh thing can come in to your soul and fill the place that was released when you cried it out. Those tears make you relatable and real to the rest of the world. They mean you are capable of compassion, empathy and tenderness. They mean you have fellowship with Jesus himself and with the rest of us weepy brothers and sisters who need to not feel stupid and alone in OUR tears. They mean your father in heaven is keeping a special bottle on his night stand with your name on it, which he holds in his hand, as he holds you in his great big Dad-God arms. 

 

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sheep ramblings

I just need to ramble because my heart is full…

“Who is a rock, except our God?” Psalm 18:31. Is it a bad thing to discover that God is the only solid thing in my life? The only sure, steadfast, dependable, trustworthy, safe thing? It’s a hard thing when expectations fail and idols crash, and when my heart fails me (verse somewhere?). No teaching, no teacher, no friend, no job, no situation, no amount of $$ in my bank account is sure. None of that can keep me safe, so none of it can give me my identity either. It is all sandy footing.

Another favorite of the morning: “The Lord is my portion. I promise to keep your words.” -Psalm 119:57… Due to a very bad earache I only stayed at church about 20 minutes today. It’s only bad if I have to talk or smile much. When a well-meaning elder hugged me and mashed my ear against his should and the pain was almost nauseating, I knew I had to get out of there quick before someone else cornered me! Ha… Anyways. Psalm 119:57. I spent part of my morning at home with God flipping through past journals. They are my omers-of-manna; the places where I’ve recorded the words of life God has fed me with over the years. I felt a strong need to know what HE says. Not a preacher or any person with an opinion or experience. What truth has he told me before? What promises can I keep and stand on? Flipping through the journals and the Bible I found some of those. Familiar and new promises. My roommate Chelsea provided a freeing thought after I was struggling with some false condemnation. We discussed Psalm 18:23, which says “I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt.” Basically she said where I am is ok. It’s enough for God. I don’t have to condemn myself for not being somewhere else. What I’m seeing this morning is that God is really big, and his words are true and his love is fierce. It’s all about him. I’m not seeing the same pressure to do my faith in a certain way to get the right results that I’m hearing from people. “He goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” I’ve always read that and taken on the burden of trying to make sure I know his voice. But that verse should be freeing! He is going before me! I don’t have to figure out where and how to go. A good shepherd knows how to lead, knows how to make is voice heard, knows how to make his sheep secure in his care. I’ll follow because I DO know him and his voice. I have known him.

It’s amazing how I desire revelations for people that I have not fully received yet myself. God showed me something about his heart while I was teaching the art lesson with the kids monday morning. I was having them do an assessment where they were copying little designs which got progressively more complicated. They felt some pressure to do it “right” I guess, even though I assured them whatever they could do was great and just to do as much as they could. I realized sitting watching them that it’s way more important that they know I’m pleased with them and that they have confidence than them doing the silly little assignment “right”. Way way way more important. They think the work is so important, but I think they are so important. And I want them to know. I hope they will learn stuff, too, and grow. But I don’t really expect 5-8 year olds to do anything perfectly. I’m not disappointed when I say “an ellipse is a curved line” and Remmy draws it with straight sides and severely lopsided. I’m just glad he’s there with me and he wants to try. I know it takes time to learn that kind of thing.

Last night I painted a watercolor of an orange motorcycle- a visual reminder of a couple prophetic words given to a friend of mine. My way of agreeing and praying and inspiring agreement and remembrance.  It is a delightful privilege to be a witness and small participant in what God is doing and telling people about themselves and Himself.

Who is a rock except our God? The Lord is my portion, I promise to keep His words. He goes ahead of me and I know his voice.

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You never know what you’ll be asked to do when your friends know you are “creative.” Brainstorm wedding cake ideas incorporating coffee beans? I’d love to, glad you asked 🙂 .

 

Next up (actually 1st chronologically) I continued my tradition of festive waffles in honor of the day and my father’s service in the Air Force for 20 years. He was deployed to Uzbekistan the first year I did this.

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Photoshop Editing

These days knowledge of photoshop is a vital part of the process of arriving at good pictures. Some photographers may disagree and I am certainly not the authority. I do feel that creativity and an eye for design are the most important factors and having a good camera, knowing how to use it and being a photoshop master come after those core elements.

I used this picture which I took of my roommate, Sarah, recently to experiment with some different photoshop editing effects.

The original image with only a touch of basic editing.

I love the story telling capacity of photographs. Every element in the composition and every design decision has a part to play. That includes lighting effects and filters and color blending manipulated on the computer long after the photo shoot is concluded.

Favorite, anyone?

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Recently my friend Raquel and I traded photoshoots. We both have decent cameras and both are interested in improving and utilizing our photography skills. We started with a trendy and yummy lunch- a must in Nashville- at Taco Mamacita’s where our server let us take pictures of him and the restaurant. Probably he hid his slight amount of freak out for the sake of a tip? I would have. Anyways, we tipped well and then were off on our extravaganza extroidinaire. It was a cold day and I was dopey from lack of sleep, but I had much fun! Thanks Kel! Here are the results from my camera. (For some reason the first picture looks fuzzy when posted, but click on it and you can see it larger and clearer.)

This last one was my favorite. Things I learned from this shoot: 1)Natural faces are best.  2)Dynamic angles create interesting images. 3)Watch for little distractions. 4)I want a lens with larger aperture!

I’m looking forward to my next shoot! Any takers before I become famous and unaffordable? 😉 Really though, I am looking for subjects!

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Progression of the Chief

 

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Artist Statement(s)

I was recently advised to come up with and Artist’s Statement. This is like a purpose statement and an explanation of my thoughts and goals related to my art. I do not have ONE nailed down but here is the best I can come up with at this time. I have 3 statements, which are not necessarily exclusive of each other. If they are too broad I expect that the only way to narrow it is through time, pursual and experimentation.

I want to create unusual or impossible juxtapositions in order to engage the viewer and send a message. These will be parables of truth, encouragement, teaching or warning.

I want to celebrate the beauty that I am privileged to see, especially as it relates to God’s glory and to the diversity of cultural expression.

My painting is in itself celebration and worship of the God who is the Creator and created me to create.

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