Working On a New Online Class

I’m so excited to share that I am currently hard at work on my third online class - a class dedicated to the idea of combining poetry (both the reading and the writing) with painting.

This has long been a subject near and dear to my heart. (On my Instagram, check out the hashtag #poetryandpaintinggotogether ).

Why have I felt so full of this topic, combining poetry with painting, for so long? Mostly, because a full 1/3 of the Bible was written as poetry. This tells me that not only is God the original artist…He is also the original poet. In fact, He may have been a poet before He was artist - at least where it concerns you and me. Because before there was anything - there was His word.

Then, there is the fact that the largest, longest book in Scripture, the book of Psalms, was written by a man who many politely call a “warrior-poet”. King David, the man after God’s own heart. Well. Pardon me please, but I can’t think of a better description of David, other than “the man after God’s own heart”, than “badass poet”.

Last but not least, I have been overjoyed to discover that…y’all….poets walk among us! They look like your daughter or your pastor or your neighbor - but, deep inside, many are also “Bad Ass Poets”. They pick up poetry as a weapon to force big emotions to surrender. They bring those big emotions, with their words, into a space where those otherwise overwhelming feelings are made subservient to the poet’s passion for God.

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I will be sure to come back and let you know both how things are progressing and when the class launches. I will be launching it inside the creative network of my one of my dearest friends Jeanne Oliver’s creative network. In the meantime, I covet your prayers, because this is hard work. I write, film, do all the art, and then edit and upload everything for each and every class. I have no help at this time. The workflow is enormous. (I’ve been in preliminary discussions with a video production company. I dream of using Sherwood Media someday, when I am ready to launch classes on this website. Check them out!)

New Abstract Art In The Shop

This is the largest abstract painting I’ve completed to date. It was inspired by the poem by Robert Frost called “Nothing Gold Can Stay”.

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Nature's first green is gold, 

Her hardest hue to hold. 

Her early leaf's a flower; 

But only so an hour. 

Then leaf subsides to leaf. 

So Eden sank to grief, 

So dawn goes down to day, 

Nothing gold can stay.

My interpretation of the poem is different from most. Here in East Tennessee, spring is days away. March 1st marks the first day of meteorological spring, and March 21st is the official start of the season.

The color of the earliest leaves of spring! It’s a delicate, incandescent green, and when the sun hits it just right, it can even take on a golden yellow hue.

That very, very first spring green is unlike any other! It is as rare as gold - as hard to come by as earth’s most valuable metal. Truly, gold is nature’s - and people’s - hardest “hue” to hold, literally and figuratively. Riches do sprout wings and fly away. Spring golden-green grows deeper and different by the day. It disappears.

As bittersweet as they are, I see in these words a celebration of sorts. There is no celebration without appreciation, and there is no appreciation without a clear sense that the most beautiful things are also the most rare and transient.

Here is where my interpretation of the poem differs from most: “Eden sank to grief”, that’s true. Yet I know for sure that Eden will be restored. Eternity stretches forward far more than an hour. Today at age 52, and then at 62 and 82, I will have no less days ahead of me than when I first began.

All that matters most to you and I will, because of the grace of God, always be ours to have and to hold.

Nothing gold can stay. But it also can’t stay gone forever.

This piece is available here

Of Grammar and Good Theology

In my 22-year-long home education career, I utilized “the box” many times to teach grammar.

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Who remembers parts of speech, prepositions, and “the box”? Prepositions are easily taught, when you think of them in relation to “the box”.

in the box

beside the box

above the box

In a nutshell, if a word could theoretically be in relation to a box, that word is almost certainly a preposition. Now, let me shift gears a little bit. (Okay, okay…I just lied. Let me give you a mental “hard right, with pedal-to-the-floor acceleration, Tom Cruise style. Hold on to your butt:)

“Bad theology is like pornography - the imagination of a real relationship without the risk of one. It tends to be transactional and propositional rather than relational and mysterious.” ~Paul Young

Wasn’t that exhilarating?! Or are you scared? No matter, you are along for this ride!

If bad theology is transactional and propositional, I wonder if good theology is relational and prepositional?

prop·o·si·tion·al

/ˌpräpəˈziSH(ə)nl/ (adjective): of or relating to an idea, suggestion or plan.

Propositional is cerebral. To be “propositional” is to think lofty thoughts with no direct experience. It is to be up in your head about God - whether that be your thoughts on His majesty, His holiness, His grace, His Fatherhood. (Hint: I can call Him “Papa” and still be every bit cerebral. For all the relational connotation, it can still be propositional. How do I know this? Because I call Him Papa…yet I am still often insecure.)

Prepositional is my own made-up word. Prepositional involves a box…getting outside the box of limitation, getting beyond the realm of our logic and understanding (not leaving it behind, but going deeper) and embracing the adventure that is an untamed, all-five-senses-engaged experiential relationship to Very God. Here are the top 5 prepositions in English Grammar:

  1. OF: “expressing the relationship between a part and a whole”.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation…” ~2 Cor. 5:18

2. IN: “within an area”

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. ~Colossians 3:3

3. TO: “in the direction of”

Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! ~ 1 John 3:1

4. FOR: “what is intended”

For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. ~Romans 11:36

5. WITH: “having or possessing or accompanied by”

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. ~Word of Jesus, Matthew 28:20

Here’s a few more prepositions that preach:

God above me.

God beneath me. “Underneath are the everlasting arms…”

God before me.

God behind me.

God upon me. “As I began to speak," Peter continued, "the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning!”

Prepositional theology is mind-blowing, and the un-boxing experience is unlike any other. Un-boxing God is the stuff of big, big stories. Prepositions are good theology, when we allow our heart to come into first-hand experience of the person of God.

There is only one preposition that will never, ever apply:

God against me.

*as of this writing, the art featured in this post is still available here






A Fistful of Arrows

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Christian women are taught to think of their children as arrows. 

”As arrows are in the hand of a warrior, so are the children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full...”   Psalm 127:4,5

And it’s true.  But the Lord has sent me here today, and He has sent you here today, to hear something else - also true:  that arrow metaphor can be ANY creative seed that you launch out into the world with intention.  It can also be any gift that you aim and shoot with all your might, any gift given to you in seed form, that you have to nurture and grow, and that has the capacity to go on beyond you. 

 Your children are not your life’s only arrows.

I know, right?  It’s like I just spoke heresy. 

I have four grown children of my own.  They are my arrows.  They are unequivocally a heritage and a blessing.  But they are not the only things I have to offer this world, and they are not the only weapons I have been given with which to impact darkness.  If that were so, what of women who suffer infertility, or single women who choose not to adopt?  

Isn’t it interesting that if you were having some sort of identity crisis, and you sought the help and advice of a coach or therapist, they would, almost 100%, ask you what it was you loved to do as a child!  Within that child you were, was the seed of the man or woman you would become.  So I will ask you:   

What were those first glimmers of gifting and joy that were inside you as a child?  

What were those seeds of your youth? 

Those may very well be clues to your heritage.  Those may be yet more arrows you were given, even before your own children were born.  Those may yet be the arrows still in your quiver when your physical children are gone;  because thankfully, the creative nest never has to empty. 

I’ve said this so many times, in women’s conferences and various speaking engagements:  No matter your age, you are expectant. 

Dust off this arrow metaphor.  If you are a woman “in the middle”,  I challenge you to dust it off, and see it with fresh eyes!  Look around in that quiver of yours that you thought was empty when the youngest went off to college.  You’ll find yet more arrows - creative impetus that date back to your youth.  Weapons begging for a target audience. 

I’m excited to see what you’ve got. 

Of Jawbones and Jackwagons

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This is the place where I deal with my jackwagons. This is the place where I put my face in my Bible, cry out to the Lord, and come to terms with what God is speaking over the work of my hands, and the work of the Preacher’s hands. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit gives me a word for the work of your hands, too. Today is that day. Are you ready?

Every negative word spoken “about” you has been heard. It registers. Let me explain. Your jackwagon does not understand that those words said “about” you, are registering as words formed “against” you. They register as “tongues rising up in judgement” that it becomes your right - your “heritage” - to watch the Lord prove them wrong.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Those negative words spoken “about” you will be made to turn and chase the speaker. Not only that, but you get grace-for-grace. Those words will be reverse applied to you! They will become a source of blessing.

Let me give you an example. Your jackwagon (definition of jackwagon: the narcissist, or person with narcissist tendencies, who suddenly decides to consistently, overtly and covertly, undermine you) says, “She thinks she knows, but she doesn’t".” Well, it’s one thing for you or me to say something like that - we all revert to negativity now and then. But it’s another thing for me to be a jackwagon…to say those words in such a way as to undermine the work of someone else’s hands. Especially if it means I’m undermining the work of God through someone else’s hands. In that case - my words will turn and chase me. And now you know why I am careful about how I speak about others.

So your jackwagon says, “She thinks she knows, but she doesn’t.” Seems innocuous. But what if it’s undermining the mission? If it is, that word will turn and chase the speaker. Suddenly, that person will find themselves having to fight significantly for validation. They will find themselves feeling deeply unsure. Meanwhile, back at your ranch, you are getting grace for grace. Out of nowhere, you are finding yourself sure and confident, and others are being drawn to the power of your message.

How do I know all this?

Like - suddenly. Today. Today I know this for sure. How?

I know, by coming to this spot with an open heart, and putting my face in Judges 15. Specifically, Judges 15:16.

And Samson said, With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey have I smitten a thousand men. 

Samson’s jackwagons, the Philistines, came out speaking about him. Samson took the jawbone of a jackwagon and dealt with it. It was no coincidence that the weapon was a jawbone, and the Philistines were speaking.

This will put a new light on some of your spiritual battles, if you let it. You get to smile when you hear certain things being said about you. No, I’m being serious! You get to think in terms of grace for grace! You get to say to yourself, “This is amazing. I wonder what else my jackwagon said?”

No more sting. No more judgement. Because the Judge Himself, the writer of Judges has shown you that when the hand of God is on you to complete a mission, you don’t have to be perfect. Samson was far, far from perfect. But when the hand of the Lord is on you, you have the ability to take the jawbone of any jackwagon, and snatch victory from what was meant to be the jaws of discouragement and defeat.

You win.

And so it was, when Samson finished speaking, he threw the jawbone from his hand and called the place, “Jawbone Hill.”

That’s so badass. Makes me so happy.