Watch

But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Matthew 24:43

I have an insidious, wicked, intelligent enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy me.  John 10:10.

He has wanted to kill me since my birth.  As my Heavenly Father has always had a plan for my life, the enemy has, too.  Unfortunately, I never took him seriously.  I did not know how he operated.  People die for lack of knowledge.  Hosea 4:6.

This daughter of Elohim was not on guard.  I did not watch.  I was clueless.

Peter said this:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

On my art sabbatical I have not only been learning how to do “all manner of craft,” but have also been learning how to watch and guard.  I am learning how to cast off and trample on the enemy.  I am learning how to hold thoughts captive that are from the kingdom of darkness.  It is taking time, but I am getting spiritual discernment.

A year ago I was packing for Europe.  I got all my prescriptions filled — narcotics, muscle relaxers and antibiotics.  I packed Motrin, Advil and Benadryl for a sleep aid. What a mess!

A year ago I was addicted to my chiropractor and my massage therapist. And if they were not the answer, nutrition and exercise were.  I was dependent on everyone and everything EXCEPT my God, Jahovah Rapha.  This fact dawned on me one day while on the phone with my sweet mentor.  I remember telling her that I would give God a week, because I needed to go under the knife for yet another injury, a torn rotator cuff. You know how once you say something out loud, you realize how ridiculous it sounds?  Bingo!  I had been playing phone tag with the orthopedic surgeon’s nurse to schedule surgery, but she would never call me back!  She would not call me back because my Father was going to heal me. He healed my shoulder (as I repented of bitterness), my stiff neck (as I repented of being stiff necked and rebellious), and an eye issue (which arose from having a plank in my eye).  My God has even been my chiropractor!  I can now read his word and lay down on a bench and even my three-level fusion pops!  It is wild.

Because I had not been watchful and had not guarded my heart, I put up with the spirit of infirmity that is not of YHWH. My sins and generational sins opened the door to it. I put word curses upon myself and agreed with them when they came from others.  What a lie!  The enemy is the father of all lies. Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) came to give me abundant life.  John 10:10.  The enemy had crept in and did not want me to know that my God’s Words are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Proverbs 4:22.  The enemy did not want me to know that by Yeshua’s wounds, I have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24.  I know it now!

I did the above graphite drawing to remind me to watch.  I have like-minded friends who stand guard with me.  Thank you, Father, for showing me how to watch and for healing me!

The Power of the Pen

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ … 2 Corinthians 10:5

Ink is intense, powerful, and permanent.  It is like the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. He is undeniable, majestic and everlasting.

When I arrived at the pen medium — in my art sabbatical with the Lord — my hand had become more steady because of prior precision work.  Experience breeds confidence.  I needed it.  Erasers do not work with pen.

I won’t lie.  I did start each piece with pencil, and only after the details were worked out did I switch to the more unforgiving medium.

In August of 2017, I purchased a new journal bible.  I was starved.  I dug in like never before.  My fresh eyes devoured it for hours on end. I wanted to know Him.  I wanted to read, then believe, shucking off the traditions of men and false teaching I had acquired along the Christian walk like a backpack filling up with rocks. Illustrating the bible helped me to see.  My eyes were opened and my mouth was aghast.  I had been reading the bible since I was 28 years old, but I had missed so much!  I had no idea.

My Father’s word is packed with illustrations!  He is a grand illustrator as evidenced by Genesis, Exodus, Joshua and Hosea to name a few.  Oh yes, the explosive and amazing book of Revelation is loaded, and sketching it out is pretty fascinating.  Jesus, like his father, gave us parables to illustrate the kingdom of heaven. As my mentor says, it is how children learn, and we are His children.

My Father drives things home for me.  As an artist, I relish clear illustrations fully equipped with contrast like my pen drawings.  His illustrations are timely, also.  I had been chewing on the concept that believers are privileged to explore God’s house and its entirety.  Because of Jesus the Messiah, we can come on in to the Holy of Holies.  My God recently gave us a gift to illustrate the point.  A starving, dehydrated “street pup” showed up out of nowhere to the Heckler Hotel.  The first night she spent outside by the pool with a compassionate teen boy and his sleeping bag. They bonded.  The next night I invited her into my basement studio blockaded off with a baby gate.  I eventually removed the gate, fully expecting her to walk around and check out the basement.  She did not.  She was afraid of the painted concrete floors.  It took me weeks to coax her upstairs.  At that point, she only hung out by the front door.  Whenever she set a paw in a different room, we showered her with praises.  It has been quite some time, and there are still rooms she has not explored.

My Father has saved me from the elements and has invited me into his house.  He wants to show me some things but is patient and gentle.  I have hung out with the crowd in the foyer for years, but it is time for me to look around the house! He is thrilled when I step into a new room. Like a pup, I am gawky, awkward and a little intimidated, but I now have great desire to check out the plethora of amazing spaces.  It is exciting.  He has so much to show me.  Thank you, Abba, for your illustrations.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

Psalm 32:7

Prints

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 3 John 11

Next stop on my sabbatical with the Lord was print making.  I had a lot more freedom in subject matter, and I lingered with my cutting tools and ink rollers for months. The learning curve was huge, but the rewards were incredibly plentiful.

I am a visual and tactile learner.  I had a friend read to me on the phone just the other day, and I think I can remember one sentence of what she said.  On the other hand, if I see something and feel something, I can remember it for a lifetime.

The printmaking I was doing involved cutting linoleum with very sharp tools. A woodworking friend from an art guild in California had given me the tools, but not knowing how to use them or sharpen them, I had put them aside.  It was time.

Similar to the scratch art I did, printmaking makes you think in reverse.  For the areas that will be white, you whittle the linoleum away.  For those that will be black, you leave so that ink will be rolled onto it.

Black and white brings me back to my journalism days.  Before I picked up my first watercolor brush, I was a writer.  I was the editor for our high school newspaper and then got an after-school job at the Nevada Appeal, where I was a reporter and Sunday supplement magazine editor.  The newsroom smelled like 1980s computers, ink, and cigarette smoke coming from the intense and intimidating city editor.  We had a noon press time, and if the presses were not rolling by then, the tension was like a ominous and consolidated cloud over the brain room with reporters and editors.  I tried to metamorphose into something invisible at my computer, but it was situated smack in the middle of the room.  So I just hunkered down at my desk and watched grown professionals spin out of control and smoke more cigarettes until the whirring of the presses began spitting out the afternoon edition.

Like newspapers, the moment of truth in printmaking comes when the ink is applied and the paper is pressed to it.  It is only then, when pulling the paper off of the block, that the flaws come alive and glare at you in your face.  It is the test, and you can see how well you did.

My Father tests me from time to time. It is a bit nerve wracking.  I used to think of His tests in a negative light.  Now I understand that it is a gift because I long to be a more mature believer.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:3-4

I also learned from printmaking that my job is to imitate Jesus Christ.  My job is not to create anything new.  He is enough.  He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Matthew 5:17.  He is the standard, the Word, the living Torah. He came to teach us how to live in his Father’s Kingdom and how to obey our Father’s instructions.  If we mess up, He is faithful to show us as we peel off the print.  We are given opportunity to repent, and to try it again.

Child’s Play, Paper Mache

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 18:2-3

The sabbatical continued with yet the most unusual means of expression for me:  paper mache.

Isn’t this assignment child’s play, Father? 

He let me know that he enjoyed it when I was childlike.  He reminded me that I had permission to enjoy the “process” of making art.  And enjoy it, I did!

I needed a very strong base, so I filled a mason jar with weights and then added seven main branches, as I still had menorahs on my mind.  Seven is the biblical number for completion.  I used masking tape to structure the piece, then started the messy and tactile pleasing part of dipping strips of paper into goo.  I find it funny when I teach art that the boys, rather than the girls, are big wimps when it comes to getting their hands messy.  Not me — I love the sensation on my hands.

I moved to thicker, brown, grocery bag type of paper for additional coats.  I wanted to build up a head in the middle of the tree, as trees are like people with their own stories and purposes, and they produce seeds and fruits of great variety.  With each paper installation, I let it dry and get hard.  I made a paper pulp paste to enhance the details and used wire to attach further branches.  The project took weeks to complete.

As I was adding layers to my tree, my Father was removing layers from me!  I was simultaneously learning about personal deliverance, and had discovered that I had all kinds of hidden ugliness that needed to be peeled away.  It had been covered up and concealed, glamorized with shiny spray paint like my tree.  Fortunately for me, my Father is a gentlemen and tears off layers one at a time, like an onion, rather than ripping me to shreds.  In order for the process to work, I had to come to him as a trusting child and let Him do it.  Some layers were ugly, some rough, some tough.  Some peeled off easily, some took regular fasting and lots of prayer.  Just when I think I am done, I realize I am just beginning the process.  I want to be stripped to bare nothingness, so all I have is me and my God.  I am not there yet, but that is okay, as my Father is in no hurry.