Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Modern-Day Christmas Story in a Small-town Gallery

It's been quite a while since I've posted.  I can assure you it's been due to painting alot and getting paintings finished in time for Christmas.  I hope you are ready too!
Here is it is Christmas Eve, and I want to share with you a true blessing I received yesterday in my gallery.  This is an excerpt from my journal that I wrote this morning--7 pages to describe the event!  So sit back and enjoy, what I think, is a real, true Christmas story that happened in my art gallery. It starts:

Christmas Eve

Glory, glory glory!  I sit this beautiful morning, cozy warm, cappuccino in hand, Christmas festivity all around in this den and NOW the big face of Jesus painting we brought home last night on the wall where I had planned for it to be.  And I'm reflecting on the beautiful gift I was a part of yesterday in my gallery over my Jesus paintings.  It still amazes me each time I reflect on it:

December 23rd was my last day to have the gallery open before Christmas.  The stress and hustle to get paintings finished, to clean up the building, to prepare invoices for clients coming to pick up paintings was ALL done.  I even dressed up a little, knowing I could simply enjoy the day, not risking getting paint on me and relish in the energy outside of shoppers going from place to place, hearing the Christmas music playing outside my front door.  I even caught sight of a little boy stopping to listen and begin dancing! I loved it!  Not accustomed to having little to do, a thought crept into my mind hinting that it would probably be an uneventful day.  Hmm.  I'm not used to having such thoughts...

But just as the thought began to sadden me, a couple of ladies walked into the gallery.  I stood from my desk to tell them a little about the art in the gallery and sort of concluded they wanted to be left to browse on their own.  I went back to what I was doing on the computer.  It seemed as though they weren't interested in buying, but they lingered long and appreciated so much of the art.  That was nice. It is so awesome, whether someone buys or not, they they are moved by what they see! And so it was, that were indeed moved, when they approached the grand archway in the gallery where my 5ft Face of Jesus is.

As the ladies stepped slowly around the gallery, I thought they were making their way to the door until one of them did something I couldn't believe.  My original 16x20 Jesus that I painted was propped up displayed on the top of my shelf leaning against a tall vase.  Behind that painting was another smaller 10x10 Jesus I had painted, but wasn't particularly content with.  That's why it was "hiding."  The lady walked right to the larger painting and moved it to pick up the smaller one!  How did she know that was there??? I sprung up from my chair, I began to tell them about the series of paintings I had done this year of Jesus.  And about my Facing Jesus Painting Tour as well.  After I did, the one lady said she really liked the small one and asked the price. As I looked down at it in her hands, I stumbled for words, talking about how I had begun these paintings as a ministry that I had not completely figured out HOW I would use my paintings, put prices on them--even sign them or not, etc. (How do you put a price on a depiction of our Savior?) I went on to talk about how in some way, somehow, I had hoped to realize a person in such need and actually GIVE one.  Perhaps, one painting per year. But there were so many questions as to how to do that?  And that is where I would stop in my thinking, not knowing how to determine that person, etc.  At times this year, I've felt like I was "falling down on the job" at completely working out this ministry that I knew God had led me to.  But I still didn't know how to follow through further.

As I talked to the ladies I showed them the details of the how the 5ft Jesus came to be--all the sessions of underpainting with vibrant color that provides great texture and, what I call, "visual excitement" to the finished piece--the bright red in the bottom right corner, the kelly-green in His lower lip, the painting hanging so stately, so serenely, but captivatingly right there showcased through the arch in the gallery.

The two were marveling at the painting when the one lady, out of the blue said. "I am seeking Jesus.  I am desperately trying to find Him.  I've been reading in my Bible from the book of Pro-Verbs (that's how she pronounced it) about Wisdom--I wanna find that Wisdom.  I am in AA and a recovering alcoholic, and I am so very much searching for Jesus! I want to have a strong faith. As bad as they were, I am strangely thankful for my 2 DUIs in my past that got my attention and am so thankful I didn't hurt anyone!"

Hearing the longing in her voice and the pain and guilt in her face, I assured her she would find Jesus.  That reading her Bible, she will find faith that she needs to be strong.  In listening, I learned the 2 ladies were sisters and that the one "searching" lady was visiting from North Carolina.  Our conversation had moved me to such compassion and love for this woman for having such a desire for her Savior!  In my heart and soul I asked "Oh God, what more could You want from one of Your own???"

Ignoring the ringing phone and another person who had walked into the gallery, we continued talking and sharing in the Lord.  This was too amazing, I thought.

After a minute, it took no more thought but to walk back to the small Jesus painting that Sheila had miraculously found hiding behind the larger Jesus painting, and say to her, "With all that you've shared with me, how would this painting fit in your home in North Carolina?" She quickly began to find words to politely decline as she thought I was tying to sell the painting to her, but I quickly interrupted her and said, "I am GIVING this Jesus painting to you!" She stopped dead in her tracks stunned.  Her big blue eyes began to fill with tears.  And I had a couple of moments on my own, signing the painting, overwhelmed by God saying to me, "Carole, all I have ever asked you to do is use the gift of painting that I have given you to My glory, and I will finish the rest."  This was the answer to my prayer--completing my ministry!  Finally, it was clear to me.  As usual, it was in God's timing. ;)

We all received a blessing yesterday--a day that the devil tried to convince me would be uneventful but turned overwhelmingly eventful!  To be an instrument of God and be able to echo the majesty and mystery of the gift of Jesus Christ right there in a small downtown art gallery with a small painting that little ole' me painted, truly made my Christmas--feeling God's presence right there in the midst of it all.

Are you in doubt that God can use YOU?  Do you doubt for a minute that He orchestrates circumstances?  All He asks of us is to have faith--a strong one, and notice opportunities to show Him in our lives--just show and share.  That's all!  God will do the rest.  He is truly amazing like that!  I stand in awe of Him and praise Him for the ultimate gift of Jesus here at Christmas-time.  I pray that  each of you will have the most wonderful, Jesus-filled Christmas ever!

~Merry Christmas!

Enjoy these beautiful Christmas Images from other artists I found on the web!



Sunday, December 20, 2009

With Me At All Times!

When "Facing Jesus" was with me in my car.
(Look for a new post soon from the latest Pilgrim)

As I go through my days, it is a great comfort to feel Christ's presence with me--no matter where I go or if my circumstances are difficult or pleasant. We are called to be faithful at all times like that! I am thankful that this year has sparked a huge growth in my relationship with Jesus, and I feel Him as though we were looking eye to eye, face to face and most of all, heart to heart! It's the greatest feeling I've ever known! It's the greatest relationship I've ever known, and it shapes all of my other earthly relationships as well. I praise God for sending His Son as the greatest gift in all the world.

As we approach Christmas, know more than ever that He is the most awesome gift, better than any gift under your tree.  I pray that you will experience the most Spirit-filled, loving, joyful and peaceful Christmas ever. For the new year, I will looking forward to knowing an ever-present, ever-loving, ever-merciful Jesus in my life, and I pray that you will too!

Merry Christmas!