When God Speaks Through His Word and Our Art

The bold black ink on white canvas caught my eye.  As I walked under the shaded outdoor patio of Elevate coffee, I noticed a girl tracing the penciled words with a thin brush; “Wow, that’s beautiful,” I said.  I took a closer look; the canvas read, “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”.

“Can I take a picture of it?” I asked.IMG_0644

She said yes and I clarified, “I’d like to show it to my husband.”  The phrase sounded pleasant though unfamiliar and I smiled.  I stretched out my hand and introduced myself.  My new friend’s name is Jasmin.  I promised her I would return to see the finished product.

God has done this before.  Once before Asa and I started dating, I was looking at his pottery on the shelves at Desert Dragon.  He had carved around his vessel the words: “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  The Lord had been speaking these words same words to my heart.  He was using them to make me desire holiness and freedom from sin.  Now, Asa and I had barely talked at this point.  In fact, I had seen him throw and had not appreciated his work.  It wasn’t until I saw his carved pottery that I realized how talented he is.  A couple days later, I apologized to him, “I’m sorry, but I totally underestimated you,” I said.  He smiled and proceeded to win my heart and marry me months later.

But the point of my story is that God speaks to us often through His Word and moreover, through art, which I love.  When I saw Jasmin’s canvas, I saw God’s faithfulness.  I know I can trust him.  Despite the fact that, last night, my husband and I talked about silence, uncertainty and money, I know I cannot falter in my heart when it comes to God.  Because he told me, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.  He reminded me of his Word last night.  And then, there it was today in black and white: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”.

Inside of elevate, I found a friend from the ceramics studio.   “I just saw Asa last night at the studio!”  Heather hugged me and congratulated us.  We sat on the couches near the window.  On the other side friend continued working on her lettered canvas.  I felt in my heart something/someone say, “That canvas is yours.”  I continued to share pictures from the wedding.  My friend and I chatted for a while until I finished my Mocha Frappuccino and she needed to leave to pick up her kids from school.

I returned to my new friend Jasmin on the other side of the glass.  She was sitting with her finished canvas and her boyfriend, Washington.  I asked her why she picked that verse in particular.  “Sometimes God speaks a verse into my heart for that particular season of my life.  This is a time of transition for me and I felt like this verse spoke to that.”

“I love it,” I said.

Washington handed me the canvas, “It’s yours.”

Dear Lord Jesus, I always underestimate you.  I pray you continue to show me your faithfulness through your people, your Word and our art.  Thank you because you are not silent.  Give me ears to hear and eyes to see.  In your name, Jesus, Amen.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13IMG_0648

Teach for America Day 2: Unexpected Adventures in the Phoenix Sun

My TFA Experience

Sacaton Red-on-Buff decorates the pottery of the Hohokam people Sacaton Red-on-Buff decorates the pottery of the Hohokam people

 

Day two with TFA and AZ is sizzling. 102 degrees and rising. But I love the sun and we just got back from the Pueblo Grande Museum. We got to look at some clay artifacts. Ceramics has a very special place in my heart so I’m still giddy from looking at Hohokam art.

After exploring the museum, we also got the opportunity to hear from three wonderful speakers about ethnic and cultural diversity in Arizona and immigration. As future teachers and leaders, we are encouraged to educate ourselves on the subject and offer students a platform to tell their stories as well as open ears to listen and learn from them. One of my fellow corps members commented that issues with social class and inequity transcend race. Often times we are all working and hoping for the same change. Communities…

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The Rear-view Mirror: Musings on the Place I Left and the Road Ahead

Months before graduating from Hope College, I wrote a blog-post about homesickness and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit in which I claimed that I was eager to go home but there were still things God wanted to teach me in Michigan. Well, now I’m writing from my yellow little house somewhere in the southern suburbs of Chicago. For the time being God has called me back and now (figures) my heart aches for the place I left.
Don’t get me wrong! God has provided. Within a week of turning down a part-time job in Grand Rapids, God provided a full-time job, a crusty van and a supportive family to welcome me to my hometown. It was evident that the Lord indeed had called me to come back.
But it’s hard to let go of a place like Holland, MI. I had planned to visit this past weekend and it was supposed to be the third time since I moved back to Illinois. My dad was a little nervous about Mallory (that’s what I named my crusty van). I was dead set on leaving this Friday.
It didn’t happen. All this weekend, I’ve felt embittered by a spirit of loneliness.  I long to be with my friends. What do I say to my heart that desires to be with the people I care about? God, don’t you know what it’s like to be separated from those you love?
And the Lord answers, more than you know. For too long were we all separated from the love of God because of our sin. He knows exactly what it’s like to be broken-hearted.  That’s why he sent Jesus.
It’s a comfort to know that the Lord understands.  It’s my joy to praise him for the way he blessed me during my four years in Holland, MI through beautiful Christ-centered relationships. I pray that one day the Lord will take me on another adventure in West Michigan. But this morning the Lord spoke through my Pastor who asked, “What’s larger your windshield or your rear-view mirror?”

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-4).

And then I was like O_o

There’s a long road ahead and I need to keep my eyes on my Destination.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  It doesn’t mean I won’t ever get to go back. But it does mean that I can’t long for the past or the place I left. What God has done already is awesome, but he is doing a new thing.  Here.  Now.

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Dear Michigan,

You left a mitten print on my heart. I won’t forget you. But God brought me here for this season. I will keep my eyes on the windshield and glance at the rear-view mirror when needed. I am expecting great things from the God I follow. He will not disappoint.

Hope to see you soon.

Blessings,
DMH

P.S. I will miss your beautiful autumn colors, but the trees here, too, proclaim His Glory.

Gospel for Extroverts and Introverts

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I learned to speak English at five-years-old. Everyone else in Miss. Denty’s Kindergarten class was fluent, but my family spoke only Spanish at home.  The only words I knew in English (“thank you”; “I love you”; “apples and bananas”) I learned from Barney a dinosaur in my imagination who I frequently watched on the t.v. It was a rough year. But I learned quickly because I was fearless and made many mistakes.  I was the loudest in the class when we learned the ABC’s, when we learned to read out-loud, when we sung songs about monkeys jumping on the bed.

Perhaps I was always an extrovert. But not all Latinas laugh loud and throw parties and make many mistakes (nor do all extroverts). My sister Karina is a thinker. Her mind is as vast as the sky. She says little to strangers, but once you gain her trust she’ll open up like a treasure box. If only you could see it, you wouldn’t believe the jewels before your eyes.

I once gave Karina 2 Timothy 1:7 like a one verse remedy for the introverted Christian. We prayed for boldness. I don’t take it back, but I do wonder if I’ve underestimated the way that God has created Karina, the way that God has created all introverts.

I recently saw a video based on the book Quiet by Susan Cain (click here to see video) that made me re-evaluate the value of strong personality in U.S. American culture and consequently the U.S. American Church.  We live in a society that encourages individuals to express their opinions in a loud voice.   However, when I went to Japan I realized my recklessness was a misrepresentation of Jesus, my boisterous songs were an annoyance to the salary man sitting beside me on the train, and the little Japanese I knew was inadequate for preaching the gospel. I didn’t know how to be a Christian in a society that valued silence.

I’m not saying that all Americans are aggressive nor that all Japanese are docile. However, there is a significant difference in our cultural values. Which one is right?  My mother tells me cada cabeza es un mundo, every head is a planet.  She means to point out the variety of people there are all around us. So the question is: are you an introvert or an extrovert, Lord Jesus? Or more importantly: How do we evangelize?

Matthew 4:19

God clearly wants all believers to give witness to the good news of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.  I’ve come to realize that you don’t always have to preach with a megaphone to your lips.  Sometimes you can preach in the intimacy of a friendship.    The best sermons are sometimes one on ones.  You don’t have to be in front of a sea of people to fish for men.

On the other hand, God loves to stretch us.  We are his children and he wants us to grow.  For some extroverts, this means learning to shut up and serve.  For some introverts, this means learning to speak up and lead.  Let’s not forget Moses, slow of speech and tongue, a man who God used to free the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt.  The most important thing to remember is that God created us for his glory, and we each are important assets to the church.  Regardless of our different personalities we are all one in Christ.

Lastly, we have ALL been commissioned to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  As we obey and walk in the Spirit of God, we will inevitably be fearless.  So don’t worry about mustering up courage on your own.

Just go fishing.