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      Permanent Brush Strokes

      Expectation

      Expectation

      Trusting God During the Journey

      “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
      – John 14:1
      “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
      – Ralph Waldo Emerson

      I am a card-carrying Type-A, control freak. That means I tend to have trust issues, which is in stark contrast to my Christian worldview. Let me see if I can unravel this war going on inside my head and heart and explain what it has to do with Expectation.

      I spent my early adult life expecting that something amazing would occur, and it did. At 25, I was already married, at the top of my career and owned a house. Because I had already achieved MY interpretation of success, I had no vision of anything beyond what I was experiencing. I no longer felt a sense of anticipation for the future. This is where God began to do his work in my control-freak life.

      Following that pivotal birthday, I continued to work hard at my awesome job, weekends were spent working on our (fixer upper) house and traveling. All pleasurable, but none fulfilled my soul. Eventually, we started a family and I left my high-intensity job to become a card-carrying Type-A mommy to my girls. 

      Trust is “confident expectation/reliance on something or someone.” My greatest battle is where do I put my trust? Who do I rely on? Even though I’ve been a Christian for more than 20 years, the war of trusting myself and in my abilities more than anything else is still an often-fought battle. God has gifted me with certain characteristics and talents. The combination is unique to me, as are your characteristics and talents gifted to you. The problem arises when I use these traits without subjecting them to God’s plans for me.

      The question here is: Why don't I trust that God has great things planned for me? Why don't I think His plans are better then anything I can hope or imagine for myself (Ephesians 3:20-21)? Why do I believe I have the best ideas (did someone say "control freak?")?

      Consider this: God has a plan for each of us, you and me. Isn't that incredible? (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11 and, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6) When we look at our ideas through that lens, shouldn't the real question or thought be: "I can't wait to see what you're going to do, God!" or "What would you have me do, Lord?" Oh, for that to be my go-to thoughts. I'm a work-in-progress, for sure!

      I’m going to confess to you now that I have big ideas where my art is concerned. I imagine many artists have this same desire, but I will only throw myself under this bus. I would like to be successful. There, I said it.

      Now here’s the rub: That may not be God’s plan for me, AND the kicker is, do I trust Him for whatever His plan for me is? I still need to passionately pursue the goals I have with the gifts/talents He has given me. But the difference is, I'm to hold loosely to my plans, and be willing to have a course-correction, if necessary. All the while, I'm to give thanks to God no matter what happens in the process. Am I faithfully do that? Not always, which is sad because I have personally experienced the joy of trusting God in the middle of unknown circumstances and witnessed it time and time again among friends and family who journeyed through difficult seasons of their lives, fully expecting God to not only be present, but doing something through the event.

      When I felt God’s call to start painting at the end of 2014, I stepped into this adventure with little comprehension of the art industry. I had to trust God’s plan for me completely. Funny thing is, I still don’t know exactly what I'm suppose to do with these gifts. But our incredibly creative God already knows the unique plan He has for me (and you), and I know I can trust Him to fulfill it, when I let go, whole-heartedly trust and follow Him. It may not look like I think it should, but His ways are perfect, and I can rest in that promise. For this former Control Freaks Anonymous President (aka: me), it's scary to let go of the steering wheel, but ultimately the absolute best thing you and I can ever do is trust in a faithful God!

      Do you struggle with living your life in your own strength, or do you trust that God created you for a purpose? If the former, this battle isn’t unique to you and me. What is unique are His plans for us. Do you trust that promise? We still need to make our plans, but instead of holding onto them with a vice-like grip, we are to live our lives in expectation of what God has uniquely laid out for us, and trust Him in the process!

      Please share with me your journey of expectation and trust – it’s always better to adventure together.

      Continuing to seek beauty in the every day stuff of life with you,

      --Lyn

      Featured artwork: “Truth in the Darkness”, 48” x 24”, acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas. Available at lynhiner.com

      Affliction

      Affliction

      “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” - 2 Corinthians 4:17
      “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”
      - Winston Churchill

      May 12th, 2012. It was a day that started like many Saturdays in the Hiner House. My husband was working in the garage, and I was taking my oldest daughter to try out for Junior Guards. After try-outs we had a picnic with some friends down by Trestles Beach. It’s customary for our family to do a little “rock hunting” when we’re at the beach, and that day was no different. We found tumbled quartz with a green vein, a blue piece of sea glass, a few rocks with beautiful patterns and, the coup de grace, a small piece of what I was sure was amber. 

      A few hours later we were home and I was chatting with my husband when, suddenly, I felt an acute pain mid-thigh. I associated it with a magnifying glass radiating its heat on my leg, but my brain overrode that notion and logically concluded I was being bitten by a BIG bug. So there, in the middle of our kitchen, in mid-sentence, I whacked my leg as hard as I could to kill whatever was biting me so hard. What I saw next would send me into shock and disbelief, and hurtle my family and our lives into chaos. A white-hot flame was shooting out of the side pocket of my cargo shorts. “My pants are on fire! Get it out!” I yelled, then repeated myself when my husband looked at me in disbelief and said, “What?!”

      Thus began a long journey I will not waste words decompressing. Oddly, if you type in “Lyn Hiner” on a search engine today, you will still get pages and pages of this story that were repeated internationally for weeks following the event. We gave one interview live from the hospital with Good Morning America. We also did one with the Orange County Register which did a great job recounting the story.

      I’m sitting here shaking my head replaying the craziness in those first days of what became a public affliction for me and my family: ten days at the Grossman Burn Unit at Western Medical Center undergoing two grafting surgeries, the media getting wind of the incident and clamoring outside the hospital for the story, the kitchen and other parts of our home being severely damaged by burns caused by the white phosphorus, my family being displaced from our home for months to repair the damage, a year of intense occupational therapy and four more minor surgeries to relieve scar-tissue damage.

      I could go on and on about these details and circumstances, but (a) that’s not what this post is about, and (b) I now have some perspective on this season of affliction, and I wanted to share some of what God has taught me through it.

      I can personally testify to the fact you genuinely never know when your life is going to be turned upside down. You just don’t. So how you respond to a crisis is a reflection of where your heart is at the moment the affliction hits. I praise God, often, that I was in a really good place with Him at the time this went down. I honestly thank God that in the midst of a really bad situation, all the best scenarios played out: That little piece of what I thought was amber turned out to be white phosphorus. I didn't know it then, but white phosphorous can start burning spontaneously when exposed to oxygen, even at room temperature. That it didn’t ignite in my shorts until I was home, nor at the chlorine–filled pool, or in the car driving home or, especially, in my girls' possession was truly God protecting all of us, including other people in the vicinity.

      Rob was with me when it happened and acted quickly. Thankfully our neighbor, a commander in the OC Lifeguards, was home and immediately came to help. The first responder from 911 was a sheriff my father-in-law had just met a week before, who was thoughtful enough to get my purse and our phone chargers. When you're in shock like that, would you ever think to grab those things for yourself in that kind of situation? How about this? Instead of taking me to a poorly-equipped facility that was closer, the fire and paramedic chose to drive me to a world-renowned burn unit that was farther away, but which saved precious time in the long-run in handling the severity of my burns. I am still so tearfully grateful.

      God never said that our lives would be void of any difficulty, my friends. That statement is true for Christians and non-Christians alike. In fact, it states clearly in the book of James that, “whenever you face trials of many kinds …” That’s not an ‘if’ statement, but a ‘when’. We don’t get a pass for being a “good person.” Junky stuff happens to every single one of us. If you know that to be true, then it’s a little bit easier to navigate an affliction when it lands in your lap.

      Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t sing happy songs every day without a care in the world when I was in the hospital, or for the many months that followed. On the contrary, I cried a LOT through the first two years of the journey. I cried from the shock, I cried from the pain. I cried grieving the loss of my body no longer looking the same, I cried through the occupational therapy on my hand, fighting the scar tissue that was twisting my finger, I cried for the fear one of my girls had of going to the beach, I cried for how people who didn’t even know me, would judge me and my actions. It was not all sunshine and roses.

      I wasn’t the only one who was affected, either. My husband not only suffered through burns of his own, but a sort of survivors-guilt that would propel him on his own journey. My kids had to adjust to a month of other people being their caregivers, carpool parents, me not being able to do all the things I typically did for them for a very long time – most of all have them on my lap to cuddle them, all of us adjusting to living in a hotel for months while our house was fixed, etc., etc., etc.

      We were all afflicted.

      So what do you do in the midst of affliction? I can’t answer that for you, but I can tell you how we spent a great deal of time in the months that followed this season of affliction: we prayed.

      We thanked God for being in the details of our medical care, for providing friends in the right places and at the right times to help us navigate unknowns, for the incredible nursing team and surgical team who cared for us, the school friends who managed so much of the daily nuances with our kids, and our church family for covering us in prayer and taking care of meals for our family (I couldn’t cook for months). I thanked God for my husband’s tender care of me during those emotional days when I couldn’t fasten my bra because my hand was bandaged or when my leg itched so bad from the healing after my graft surgeries that I was literally going out of my mind, in tears, ready to scratch my own leg off. He was (and still is) my rock.

      We prayed for all the people involved in every detail, we also prayed for how we could be used to bless others, in spite of the circumstances. There was no clarity of what we should do or how we should handle things, so we prayed for wisdom and discernment as we navigated the onslaught of investigators and questions that came day-in and day-out.

      It’s been exactly four years since that fateful day. I can honestly say, in a lot of ways I am a better human being because I went through this affliction. Would I want to go through it again? NO! But this isn’t about me. It’s about what God is doing in my heart and through me to affect others. I can tell you, I wouldn’t be painting again if I hadn’t gone through this painful experience. I also wouldn’t be writing. So, if I had my way, I wouldn’t go through getting burned again, but I also can’t ignore the fact that I am here today, writing and painting, because I went through it…so, I guess, actually, I would.

      We take great efforts to avoid pain and affliction in our lives, but stop and consider this: God is creating within you a beautiful masterpiece, one brushstroke at a time. When I paint, there’s usually an initial layer expressively added to the canvas, but it doesn’t have a lot of depth. After a few more layers, there’s a richness that is developing, some of it provided by the color, some of it because of the texture of thick undercoats. When I add that final “subject” layer, you may not see all that went into the completed image, but it’s there and it is because of what that painting has been through that creates a beautiful work of art.

      We are the canvas in this analogy. We have no depth without having layers of experiences, good and painful. To wish away our affliction minimizes the eventual beauty it can and will create in us…if we allow it. Believe me, I wished mine away frequently in the early months. I eventually recognized the opportunity for growth and trust in Jesus, I had to give up my clear control issues, and realize my plans are not always God’s plans for me…but His are so much better!!

      Are you in a season of affliction? Have you considered how God is using the circumstances to create in you another layer of depth and beauty? I’m not being trite here. When presented with a similar question by a well-meaning friend, I wanted to knock her block off. But the question rattled around in my thoughts for days before I took that same question to God and asked what He was doing in and through me and my family during that difficult season. Truth be told, I didn’t get a clear answer for a couple of years. That’s the funny thing about adding layers to a painting: you have to wait for each layer to dry before adding the next one. It takes time to really hear what God is saying to us without using our “want” filter, as opposed to the "God’s plan for us” filter. 

      I want you to know, I am praying for you right now, that God will show you how He is working in and through your life to make your current season, affliction or not, His perfect masterpiece!

      Seeking beauty in the every day with you, 

      --Lyn

      Featured Artwork: “Fire in the Sky”, 18” x 36”, acrylic on canvas. Available at lynhiner.com. 

      Expression

      Expression

      Words Are Powerful

      Definition: “The act of expressing or setting forth in words. Indication of feeling, spirit, character, etc.” (Dictionary.com) 

      “Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.” – Psalm 139:4
      “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  Proverbs 16:24
      “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”  Robert Louis Stevenson

       I am a talker. Everyone who knows me, knows this about me. (“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” --Proverbs 10:19) There are a lot of scriptures in the Bible about people who talk a lot. I know, because they have been highlighted in multiple colors over the years in my Bible. And yet, I still struggle with this truth.

      I have searched my soul about the root of my need to speak, and I’ve come up with a few reasons:

      I want to feel heard.

      I can testify to the theory that being a middle child, you can feel like you have to work extra hard to get your parents attention. My sisters are brilliant! Each in her unique way. When I was younger, I didn’t show any proclivities – I was okay at sports, but not great. I liked art, but didn’t do much until high school. I definitely wasn’t book-smart, and boy was I awkward in my own skin. It’s hard to define your special niche within a family as talented and gifted as mine. So, I think I started talking a lot…and loud, to get some of the focus. Sounds a little pathetic when I see it in writing, but that’s part of the truth.

      Through pain, I wanted to feel valued.

      There’s a phrase I’ve heard repeatedly over the years: “Hurt people, hurt people.” I believe this is the root of a truckload of my sarcasm and sharp words. Oddly, I thought by making others small, it would make me feel more important. But that is a lie of the enemy. Thank God! He showed me the error of my ways on this issue! I still struggle with being snarky or using my tongue like a sword, but now I am aware of it, and prayerful about it. 

      Each person is created unique and beautiful. For the longest time, I believed that unless a person thought and/or believed just like me, we couldn’t be in a relationship of value. This isn’t true! Of course, there is something especially sweet in sharing your faith with someone who understands and shares your belief – a familial bond. Conversely, just because someone is a blood relative doesn’t make them a confidant or ally. But there is still value in what each person brings to our lives.

       And this is where our words come in. 

      Let’s slide the calendar back a few decades to when I was about 13 years old. My mom, step-dad and I were having a discussion (again) about my failing grades (again) and how, because of my low marks, I would “live an average life, have an average job and likely attract an average husband…” there were several conversations over the course of my formative years that had a similar vein. These "discussions" left me feeling small and insignificant.

      In all fairness, if you had sisters who were as smart as mine, who were constantly praised for their high marks, sharp wit and creativity, you could understand why my parents might think I should be the same way (maybe). But, the reality is, we are (and have always been) extremely different. From the fact that they are blondes with fair complexions and I‘m a brunette and would tan easily, is but an external example of what I'm trying to describe of the internal source. The truth is, we are all very smart, it just manifests itself in different ways. But let’s get back to the illustration…

      As you can see, that conversation stuck with me. I knew I would never be a scholar, but I refused to be considered average. A short time after that discussion, I made a decision to ask my dad to live with him, and he said yes! My life took a different direction from that point on.

      By God’s infinite grace and mercy, I was given an opportunity to thrive. My dad would encourage me to use my talents. He basically said I could do anything I set my mind to – and I applied that principle liberally. He also told me I had “street smarts,” and that is far more valuable than book-smarts. I can’t even begin to tell you the impact that had on me. Over the years I lived with my dad and his wife, I went from a 2.5 GPA, to graduating with a 3.65, lettered in two sports and was accepted to four out of the five colleges I applied to (including two prestigious art schools).

      Words are powerful. 

      “I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to reduce your financial aid package.” –That's what the Bursar at Pratt Institute told me when I asked for an increase to my aid so I could stay for my sophomore year.

      “I have some good news, and I have some bad news. The good news is, the doctors have finally discovered why my knee has been bothering me these past few months. The bad news…it’s stage four lung cancer.” –my mom, six months before she died.

      “Lyn Bowman, you are the sun in my days, and the stars in my night, and you would make me the happiest man in the world if you would be my wife.” –my love, proposing to me, New Year's Eve, 1992, at our favorite spot in Newport Beach. I honestly believed he was about to break up with me; he’d been acting so weird the week before!

      “Something’s not right with your baby.” –ultrasound technician. Shortly after this, we would find out that our little girl, Rebecca, who made it to 41 weeks inutero, had a chromosomal defect. She is our treasure in heaven.

      “Congratulations! You’re pregnant!” –my doctor, one year after we lost Rebecca. That was a very long year. Just two months earlier, my husband had prayed we would have a healthy baby by the end of 2000. Our second daughter was born November 7th of that year.

      “I died, that you might live.” –Jesus

      Words are powerful. They convey: a message, a sentiment, feelings, beliefs, and truths.

      When we express ourselves orally or in writing, there’s an intention to share some thing. To say something. Before I became a Christian, what I said came with very little thought. Even after I surrendered my life to Christ, I didn’t fully comprehend the value of my words. Oh, I knew they were powerful, but I didn’t choose my words as carefully as I attempt now. But expressing ourselves takes many forms.

      Although I am still a talker, I have found other, more constructive ways to express myself: a smile, a hug (I love hugs), sharing a good cry with someone, holding the hand of my daughters or husband...painting.

      I absolutely love that there’s a form of painting called Expressionism. That has me written all over it! It is defined as: “a manner of painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., in which forms derived from nature are distorted or exaggerated and colors are intensified for emotive or expressive purposes.” 

      Doesn’t that sound like my paintings? Like me?? Do you want to know something? I just read that definition for the first time when I was writing this post? Who knew?? (God. God knew – I love it!)

      My husband has described me from early on as his biggest cheerleader. I don’t know about that, but I do know that I have replaced my need for many words with: prayers, palette knives and canvases. This is how I constructively express myself these days.

      How do you effectively and constructively express yourself? Do you use your words to build others up or tear them down? Do you share your faith or shy away because of discomfort? Do you encourage your family &/or kids to be all they have been created to be or do you mock and criticize? Let me confess to you now, I have done every single one of the above. But praise God that he is gracious and his mercies are new every morning.

      Let me encourage you with this: none of us are perfect, not ONE! …except God, alone (doesn't that take all the pressure away??). I trust him to continue to do a work in me in my pursuit of honoring Him with my words ...and my paintings; to effectively express myself and my love for others and for my Savior into this world. Thank you for joining me on this journey of Expression!

      Seeking beauty in the everyday stuff of life with you,

      --Lyn

       

      Featured Artwork: "Reaching", 36” x 36”, acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas. It’s not currently on the website, so if you’re interested in purchasing it, please send me an email or text

      Inspiration

      Inspiration

      “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
      – Revelation 4:11 ESV
      “When anything in creation fulfills its purpose, it brings glory to God.”
      – Rick Warren

       

      “What inspires you?”

      I’m asked this question frequently, and I find it’s a difficult one to answer.

      Let me ask you: what inspires you to go to work every day? Parent your kids in a loving way? Be devoted to your spouse? Exercise when you don’t feel like it? Create??

      If you were to ask me this question today, the answer may be different than a week ago. But the reality is, when I sit here and consider all the reasons I parent the way I do, am a wife to my husband the way I am, put my workout shoes on, paint Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, it all boils down to one thing: all to the glory of God.

      Before you (potentially roll your eyes and) stop reading, please hear me out.

      I’m not perfect in any way, or at ANY THING. It may be more accurate for me to say: I want to glorify God in all I say and do. The reality is I blow it daily, especially in my roles as wife and mom (Ask my man how I spoke to him today on the phone...he'll tell you!). Today, however, I’m going to address what inspires me to create (even on ‘off’ days).

      First of all, when I started painting again at the end of 2014, I would wait for the inspiration to create to pour over me (read in a dramatic voice and use arm gestures). Truth is I am wired in such a way that I would be waiting a REALLY long time for said inspiration, and this would cause bouts of frustration. That's why I rarely painted prior to last year! I am a ‘doer,’ a “Martha” for you Bible readers (see Luke 10:38-42). For those of you who don’t know who I’m referring to, think of Martha Stewart, minus the time in prison, and you'll get the general idea. I need to continually be doing something, whatever that might be. In this case, we’re talking about creating. At first, it felt contrived for me to be in my studio, just painting for painting sake. So I would spend time sketching ideas and concepts, kind of like journaling, if I were a writer. That process of 'just painting' helped give legs to my ideas and direction to my thoughts. Still, I felt stifled.

      It wasn't until a coffee date with a lovely friend (she knows a lot more about the creative process than me), who shared her strategic work motto: create for 90 minutes, take a break, create for 90 minutes, take a break, and repeat, until you have to pick up the kids. (Thankfully she left it up to me how long a break was.) Then transition to being wife and mom. I found this structure extremely helpful. It automatically put me in a frame of mind that when I’m in my studio, I have a direction/a job to do: paint. Whether I'm working on a commission piece or just letting some creativity flow organically, regardless of what is on my easels (I usually have three – five paintings in various stages of completion going at any given time), I make sure I set aside at least three days for creating.

      So that’s how I structure my work time. But what inspires? That truly is a complicated question. I really do want it all to go to God’s glory, but how do I get there? (Ugh! This is difficult to describe, hard to articulate: maybe I just need to "let go and let God.")

      Often, I take our dog for a walk after my kids are at school. During that time, I listen to music. Frequently it’s worship music, sometimes it's alternative rock, and occasionally, it’s Mozart. Doing that helps sets my mind on a creative journey. 

      While I’m walking, I’m looking. Looking at the ocean: how the sunlight reflects on the water, how vast the ocean is, the color of the water at that particular time of day (is it more green or blue today then it was yesterday?). Can I see the cliffs on Catalina Island? I watch the way the clouds inch across the sky, their shapes and the subtlety of color reflected on them, how the pelicans hug the cresting waves. I stand in awe of the majesty of it all.

      Perhaps, on a given day, I’m walking in the hills and marvel at the wildflowers growing by the trail or, if in a neighborhood, the exquisite beauty and care in someone’s garden. Oh, the colors!! Can I capture them, Lord? I ask as I take a reference photo for a future painting.

      One of God’s attributes is: Creator. Artists and craftsmen have labored for centuries to capture the intense beauty and vibrant colors that exist only in God’s creation. I am among them, trying, in vain, to somehow capture the beauty I see, the intensity of colors, the shapes and subtlety of design, all on a man-made canvas. In truth, it cannot be done! And yet, it is the aching of my heart to offer a smidgen of love, via a painting, to show I see it. God, I want you to know I see it! Here is an offering of my heart, poured out on canvas: for you. Although inadequate, I want you to see my love for you and others in this creative offering.

      This may be more info than you need, but when I put a blank canvas on my easel, I put my hands on it, consider what it may become, pray for whoever will eventually have it hanging in their space, ask God to guide my direction, then I paint intuitively. These days, I don’t always have a direction when I put down those first layers of color (my dear friend, Rick, please don’t scold me!) Unlike my earlier days of creating with intentionality, I ask for the Holy Spirit to guide me on the journey. I have had color coats (what I call my first layers) be something so unexpectedly beautiful (to me) that I have a hard time moving past it. They’ll sit in that stage, for a day, a week…one still sits – months later with only two color coats! I have a feeling I’m not supposed to touch it.

      Other works in progress will go through layers and layers and layers…and yet more layers before I will consider them complete. With each coat of paint comes a different emotion, too. “Oh, this is awesome!” “I love the direction!” “Sweet!” “Holy cow, this sucks!” “What did I do?” “Ugh, that color looks like crap.” You get the idea. For this artist, creating is actually an all-in experience: mind, body and soul. I lay it all down.

      I may not be a tortured-artist-type, with my middle-class vibes and nuclear family ways, but the depths of emotion by which I create are no less given. And by the way, just because I'm not tortured doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced deep, unrelenting pain. But those stories are for another time. Today, we’re talking about inspiration!

      So, at the risk of sounding rather ambiguous, these are the components that inspire me: the visual: what I see in creation; auditory : the sounds of music and nature, my emotions: from grieving to exhilaration, and everything in between; and the most important aspect: the spirit-led component of inspiration. All of these play a role in the how’s and why’s of my paintings.

      I’ll put it to you one more time: what inspires you? How do YOU stay in ‘it’ when the days are long and tough? I’d really like to know, so if you get a moment, please leave your story of inspiration!

      Seeking beauty in the every day stuff of life with you,

      --Lyn

       

      Featured Artwork: (appropriately titled) “Inspiration” 3’ x 4’, acrylic on canvas. This is a work in progress, but will be available soon at lynhiner.com. Or give me a call, if you’re interested.

       

      Celebration

      Celebration

      “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
      – Psalm 118:24
      “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”  – Abraham Lincoln

      February is my birth month and this year marks 47 years of living for this chick.

      47 Years. Holy cow!!

      Some of you are thinking:  ‘that’s so old!’ and others are thinking: ‘that’s young!’ (I only know this, because a few of you have told me so … you know who you are!) I'm discovering it’s just the right age: I may not easily stay up until 2 in the morning anymore, but I definitely have a broader perspective then when I was 25.

      I am learning, really learning what it means to be grateful for the precious gift each day brings and that possessions, although they may be fun and fabulous, are not as important as the people in my life and nurturing the relationships I’ve been given. This is cause for celebrating!! There’s a bit of a joke between my husband and I: the older I get, the longer the celebration continues. For the past decade, I’d say the average birthday celebration lasts about a week or three. A lunch or coffee date with a friend here, a dinner out with my man and some friends there, and – if I’m lucky, a meaningful birthday card received a week or two late by my Dad (it’s how we role)…you get the idea.

      You might think that’s being spoiled or self-serving, and maybe you’re right. But let me ask you this: Why is it wrong/bad/spoiled or self-serving to celebrate the precious life you’ve been given? I’m not trying to be trite, but the Bible tells us to rejoice always, and to give thanks in all circumstances, and although we are to live humble lives, does that mean we aren’t to celebrate the wonderful gift of each day? So, why not the day God gave us life?

      This year, the celebrating started early! Maybe not how you would define it, but it sure was a blessing to me. It came in the way of two commissions for artwork; both are first-time purchasers of my work: one client/collector in Oregon and one in South Carolina. I was floored when I received the requests! There is nothing I want more than to make a collector (new or repeat) pleased they choose me to provide a work of art for their home (or office, as the case is with one of my clients).

      So, ask me if I celebrated? You better believe I did!! I gave thanks to God for providing the work, and then I promptly went out and bought the canvases and paints I needed to start each project…as well as 25 more canvases of varying sizes for all the other paintings I want to do, but haven’t actually sold!! (I can hear financial guru, Dave Ramsey, sitting on my shoulder, scolding me as I type!) As an artist, there’s real pleasure (and fear) associated with a bunch of blank canvases in your studio/work space. But I tell you, I have embraced it whole-heartedly, even though I emptied my bank account to do it! WOOO HOOO - Happy Birthday, to me!! lol...

      Every day I'm in my studio creating on those canvases since that grand purchase, I am reminded of the gift of these collectors, and another mini-celebration happens right down to my core.

      It's now a couple of weeks later, and I recently returned from two days in Los Angeles with my love, attending the LA Art Show for modern and fine contemporary art, visiting museums and eating some fabulous food. I just loved every part of our little adventure! But you know what was the absolute best part of this get away? Time with my man – this is another gift to me that doesn’t require fancy dinners or extravagant nights on the town (but I will receive them graciously, my love). Yes, I missed my kids when we're away, but the time I spent with my husband: experiencing something new, laughing, talking, holding hands and being in awe at the talent and gifts of some amazing artists, was and is the best gift I could ever be given by a human being. He is my partner and best friend - truly an amazing gift! I was so thankful he was willing to invest in celebrating my birthday in a way that shows he knows me and my heart so well.

      Oh, so worth celebrating!

      On our way home, we made plans and talked about the next few weeks and months and were silly with each other. When we picked up our kids, the fun continued with dinner and a movie rental and conversation about all they did in our absence (although, I think they considered it a gift when we left them with their friends, too!). Yes, there were arguments about bedtime and such, but kissing those kids of ours, praying with them and tucking them in…best end-of-day-gift for this mama. Do you know what I’m saying?

      Again, totally worth celebrating!

      I'm not going to deny it, I like receiving gifts and flowers for my birthday. But connecting with a friend or my family over a meal or adventure?? That is my love language, people! Time invested, intentionality, face-to-face interaction...that is the best (but honey, I will still take the massage gift certificate you gave me! Thank you!! I love you...)!

      It’s another week later, and I still have a smile on my face from all the breakfasts, lunches and dinners I got to share with the very important people in my life celebrating the day the Lord brought me into this world. I am so richly blessed by these humans and the fact they wanted to celebrate with me, I'm overwhelmed! Each person, individually and collectively, sharpens me: on my Christian walk, as a wife, a mom, a friend and a person. They invest time in me, encourage me and sometimes correct me when I’m making poor choices. These beautiful people are all part of my inspiration every day, especially when I am in my studio painting and creating. They are a huge blessing in my life, even when they might not always be the easiest people to be with...but let’s face it, neither am I.

      I can be cranky, demanding, extremely opinionated, and on particularly bad days, rather judge-y. All pretty ugly character traits. (Do you ever act like that?) I’m embarrassed to admit these truths to you, but I would be lying if I professed otherwise. Praise God that my friends and family are so forgiving! Praise God that He forgives those behaviors when they’re directed at Him. Jesus, himself said he was here to seek and save the lost. And my friends, I was lost…but grateful I’m found. This doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly become perfect. On the contrary! Now, I’m just acutely aware of those behaviors and less accepting of them in myself, which causes me to rely more on my Savior for strength and wisdom and less on me. This truly is the greatest gift of all - His love and grace!

      So, my friends (new and old), let’s live this life to the fullest measure! Let’s love those people God has brought into our lives and find ways to be grateful, and celebrate; not for the parts of our relationships we feel may be lacking (which is something I’d like to address at a later date), but rejoice in the blessings we have been given! Even though they aren’t perfect, those humans in our lives are still a precious gift and our inspiration toward our unique creative outlets, thereby worthy of our investment and a cause for celebration. Can I get an AMEN??

      Seeking beauty in the every day with you,

      --Lyn

      Featured Artwork: “Blossom at Night” 2’ x 2’, acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas, available at lynhiner.com. Prints and giclees available in a variety of sizes. Please inquire, if interested.

       

      SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: I will now be offering limited release giclee's (a fancy name for a reproduction of an original work of art, on canvas, embellished with paint), and prints on high-quality, archival paper of some of my work, including the painting above, and some of the work below. If you are interested, please let me know which piece and what size, and I'll send you a quote...