Friday, August 17, 2007


I sat before an empty canvas wondering why this one was so much harder to approach than the others. Could it be that I was erecting a wall to avoid the personal ineptness I would experience by working on such a piece? After all, it comes so natural for us as humans to push forward and to climb higher all the while worrying how we look to others. It is so easy for us to forget that, “He must become greater; I must become less.”

Perhaps it was the words of Henry Ward Beecher that paralyzed me, he said; “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” What if my brush came up dry?

I looked hard into the eyes that were staring back at me from the photographs I had taken earlier. If I could just paint what’s behind that face, I thought. If I could capture that quiet strength and humility that I could see deep within Rick’s soul, then just maybe I could stop agonizing over the destination and simply find solace in the journey.

With uncertainty, I dipped in my brush. To my delight, instead of coming up dry, it came up with a rich pallet of deep, dark “Rembrandt” colors and my journey began. With a renewed adventurous spirit, I began splashing “wet pixels” onto the canvas. John 3:30 seemed to come more alive with each stoke that was made. Time became inward flow and before I knew it I had painted an image of a man who seemed to decrease as he faded into the background, while Jesus appeared to increase as he moved through the man to fill the foreground.

With the signature in place, I stood there full of appreciation to the process. As a friend of mine so eloquently said, “We paint to understand better, to see more clearly and to share.” I am glad to be sharing this with you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Where energy had filled the halls and laughter had danced upon the air, it was now melancholy and still. The annual two week summer visit to “Gigi and Papa’s” house had come to an end. All too quickly the little faces pressed against the rear window faded into the distance. As the dust settled down onto the empty driveway, I closed the door and made one last trip through the hauntingly quiet house in search of anything that may have been left behind. My pace slowed to a halt when my eyes fell upon the collage portrait painting of “Morris”, which hung upon my dining room wall. Suddenly suspended high above my mixed emotions, I hung there taking in the luxuriant tapestry of image and verse woven together to tell the story of this man’s existence.

Well do I remember the life of Morris Spruill who found delight in the Lord and in his family. Though Morris worked in a saw mill during his earlier years, he was a printer by trade. His skill was passed down from generation to generation beginning with his son and ending with his son’s son. Around Morris’s table could be found inspiring company, uplifting conversation, and a homegrown feast. Though his home was humble, riches were in his house.

It wasn’t just layers of paint I was gazing upon, it was layers of life. The “baton” of Christian faith had been so carefully passed from one generation to the next. I can still hear him telling me as we worked together in my garden, “Listen to me, now. I will not always be around.” Suddenly, my heart filled with urgency. I began to question. “Do my children, the fifth generation represented in this painting, have a firm grip on the baton of faith? Do they know the awesome responsibility they have now been handed? Do they understand that it requires good timing to pass it on to those running so closely behind them? And do they know what it would mean to fumble it?”

I went to bed wondering if my children understood how critical it is to be in the “transfer zone”. I wondered if they knew that the transfer zone was the most hazardous part of the race. It is where one runner reaches back with the baton and passes it to the runner who is coming up from behind. In the transfer zone, if the person passing the baton does not release it with precision or if the person receiving the baton does not grab it at just the right moment, it can be fatally dropped and the race will be lost.

When the early morning sun peeked into the skylight of my studio the next day, it found me busy journaling these very thoughts. While wrapped in a blanket, sipping on a strong cup of coffee, my soul found expression as my fingers flew across the key board. I took no pause but continued to write…

If all I ever have to leave my children are the material things I have cherished, entertainment, money, or personal memories, then I am a complete and utter failure. It is my sole part in this race to pass on the baton of faith that was so carefully and successfully passed on to me. I guess that is what I love so much about the collage painting of “Morris”. It serves as a reminder of the race that I am in. And though the stages of this family’s race may shift and change we are all together in the transfer zone, as long as the baton is in play.

So, while reaching back to pass the baton of Christian faith on to the generation coming up behind me, I passionately cheer with the echoes of those ahead of me, “Run, family, run!”

“Run Shawn and Tiffany! Run! Run like I know you can.”

“Run Robb and Rebe! Run! Your moment is now!”

“Run Jeremy and Leah! Run Matthew, run! Take a firm hold!”

“Run Rick and Cliff! Run Liz and Andy, run! Don’t lose your grip!”

“Run Taren, Tylie, and Tanae! Run! The baton is still in play!”

“Run Allie and Chelsea! Run! The race is still on!”

“Run Chris! Run! Do not become distracted!”

“Run Megan and Jessica! Run! Run with all you’ve got!”

“Run Henry! Run Sam and George, run! Together, we are a team!”

“Run! Kristian and Kenneth! Run! Stretch further, keep reaching!”

“Run! Olivia, run! You can make it, I know you can!”

“Run Mary Elizabeth, run! We are all here to encourage you!”

For, believe it or not, it will soon be your turn to pass the baton of faith to those who are ever so swiftly gaining speed!”

Friday, June 8, 2007


Applause shook the house as teenage Simba walked mightily before his awestruck audience. Exhilarated, I stood among the many creators of Disney's Lion King watching a sneak preview of the live stage show. Simba turned to his audience and rolled his powerful head to one side, causing a tuft of mane to fall carelessly across his brow. "Just as it should," I whispered with prideful joy.

I could not count the many times I had run my fingers through that mane. As I stood there, I began to reflect on the endless hours that we had spent turning piles of foam, fur, and plastic into such a majestic creature. Countless hours of sleep were lost, catching only a nap here and there while snuggled in the warm fur which now adorned the creation we applauded as, "Simba". I knew every line and curve that gave his body form. I knew the formula that made up his grand and regal coloring. My mind could see deep within the innermost part of his "being" to that which gave him structure and allowed him to move. As I was the creator, Simba was the created.

I experienced a most valuable lesson that day; that there can be no greater joy for the creator than to behold the created doing what it is designed to do. It was at that moment I experienced God as my creator. I understood what it is for Him to know every intricate detail that makes me who I am because it was Him who had designed me. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." -Psalms 139:13-16

For the first time, I also experienced the joy I give my creator when He beholds me doing what he designed me to do. "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10