Gold Leaf Menorah

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Again, Lord?  Another menorah?

YHWH is a persistent teacher.  He is tireless and enduring.  He wants us to get it, no matter how long it takes.  I shook my head a little and muttered under my breath that I already knew about menorahs and we could go onto another topic, but He was resolute.

So I settled down once again and studied Exodus 25.  The golden lampstand was to be made of pure gold.  I stopped, meditated, and studied about the purification process.

The art project using liquid gold leaf did not go at all as I imagined.  The first night, I sketched it out with graphite, then carefully and with the smallest paintbrush I could buy, applied the liquid gold leaf.  You have to put the lid on the little jar and shake it from time to time, or it separates into a watery red substance with the gold settling on top.  Timing is everything. When I was almost finished with the last branch, I bumped my arm against the jar and toppled it over.  The paint splashed and poured onto my masterpiece.  I was exhausted, in pain, and sweating.  I went to bed with no sense of accomplishment.

The next night I moved the jar to a new locale — far away from my paper.  The work had to be slow, meticulous and steady.  I had to remember to shake up the gold leaf paint or I would draw red which would show up on my menorah.  But my solution was no solution at all.  About halfway through the process, I dribbled splotches onto my watercolor paper.

This was really starting to tick me off!  More garbage can fodder.

Third time is a charm.  Well, no, not exactly.  In my God’s kingdom, there is no luck.  Trickle, trickle again!  I could not believe it.  I tried to salvage it with white out, but it really shows, at least to me.

So why write about this grim experience?  It was purifying me.  I had become a “product-oriented” artist and believer, rather than a “process-oriented” artist and believer. Each morning I was studying the Word, trying to tackle it with a goal of “getting through the bible in a year” mode, rather than it getting through me.  I heard my Father say, “Just slow down.”  My mentor said, “chew, little lamb.”  Each evening I was just trying to get the art assignment done so I could go on to greener pastures.  I rushed it not relishing the time in the process.  When I worked with such carefulness, I had intense hot flashes like I had never experienced before.  It felt like a stoked and smelting furnace with a brush in my unsteady hand.

Okay, I will slow down … sheesh. 

I think my Father delights in me.  I think he even chuckled, knowing that my next assignment would be another menorah.

“To Work in Every Craft”

The Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel … and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.’   Exodus 31:1-5.

I had my plans.  I was going to continue to conquer the pastel medium, earn accolades from  my pastel artist peers, and sweep the Pastel Society of America and International Association of Pastel Societies awards.  Period.  I was on my way.  I was comfortable with the medium.  It felt good.  No fears.  No stress.

But my God had his plans. His ways are higher than mine.  His thoughts are higher than mine.  (Isaiah 55:9)

So He said: “Same subject. New medium … relief carving.”

I had done a few relief carvings in the past, but was certainly not at ease with the medium.  For one thing, it is unforgiving.  If you accidentally slash a section off with the sharp carving tools, you cannot reattach it.  Like Bezalel, I needed help of the Holy Spirit because I felt like a kindergartner with fat crayons.

My God had plans for me in this exercise.  It was not to create a masterpiece for the Louvre, but to show me a few things that I did not know.  First, I have indeed been called out by name to be an artist.  Second, when I work in His strength rather than mine, He shows up.  Third, it is a blast to try new things.

My God is not dull.  He is thrilling.




‘Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words … and wept before me, I have also heard you,’ declares the Lord. 2 Chronicles 34:27.

I was shy and quiet as a kid, and the periodic gut check of entering into the booth at the back of St. Theresa of Avila church and verbally exposing my sins to the compassionate man behind the white cloth caused my palms to get sweaty and my mouth to get parched.  However, it was a rush!  This introverted little girl could have done an Irish jig when I left the booth knowing that my sins were forgiven!  (I didn’t, though, because I was reserved.)

Something shameful happened to me along the way — I stopped repenting.  I don’t know when.  I don’t know why.  It just happened.

As I wrote in my previous blog, my wake up call 10 months ago involved a torn pastel painting.  I next read “Blessing or Curse: You can Choose” by Derek Prince, and it rocked my world.  When finished, I was more than convicted.  I composed a prayer in the form of a legal document (of which I plead guilty to a list of sins).  I said my prayer out loud in front of a kind and gentle witness on my knees in a church sanctuary.

Then came the grieving that went on for months.  It still brings me to my knees when I think about the shameful arrogance that this “saved” saint had before this moment, the disrespect for my Father’s ways, and the ignorance of his instructions and truths in his Word.

But my God is faithful and true.  Since such time, I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination!  I hung a print of this drawing in my art studio so I can look at it daily and remember that I am never going back.

The Beginning — Mosaic Menorah

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3

My sabbatical began 10 months ago.  It had an alarming beginning.  I watched a pastel painting (of which I had put 20 hours plus into it) cascade downward from a table — in painstakingly slow motion. When it plunked onto the tile floor, it ripped apart and I could do nothing to save it. It was so unbelievable that I just stared. I did not cuss.  I did not cry. I was numb. At that moment the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob had my complete attention. And I certainly did not know that such moment would impact my life so dramatically.

I have been blessed to know my God’s voice for most of my life.  It is not audible, but almost.  It is clear and comes to the inner of my right ear.  He said, “Your art has become an idol.”

I was devastated.  It was true.

These are the ones I look on with favor; those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.  Isaiah 66:2

I did not tremble at His word — at all.  I barely read it.  I had become a greasy-grace, evangelical, Protestant Christian who was satisfied with daily 15-minute microwave scripture meals.  Art had become my thing.  It was first.

So I said, “It’s yours.  My hands are yours” with the caveat written in small print that my offering was good for a year. (My God can deal with small-sized faith and fear.)

Assignment number one:  A mosaic menorah.  What? Are you kidding me?  I don’t even know how to spell it.  But my God knows me.  He knows this lawyer turned homeschooling mom does research.  I must have read Exodus 25 a billion times.

He picked a topic I needed.  I knew from taking a Precepts class on the tabernacle that the Golden Lampstand represented Jesus Christ, the light of the world, but that was all I knew. I didn’t know that the seven branches represent the seven appointed feasts of God, the thousand year time frames and the seven spirits of God. I didn’t know that the almond blossoms represented Aaron the priest and the chosen ones.  I didn’t know that the pure olive oil represented the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know that the 75-pound lampstand was hammered out of one piece of pure gold, as Jesus was beaten and purified while on this earth. How detailed and specific the Creator of the Universe is!

Constructing such a large mosaic was monumental.  The task started with sorting the tiles that were made in Israel.  As I sorted tiles by color, I had thinking time.  God had simultaneously given me a most precious gift … someone to disciple me to teach me things I did not know.  She said this on our first meeting: “Believe what you read. Don’t read what you believe.”  I had come to the shocking realization that not everything I believed was scriptural.  I needed to sort tiles, but I also needed to begin to sort truths from traditions.

The project, from inception to completion, took well over two and a half months.  I sorted, glued and grouted.  I also read, read and read. My 15-minute and go, haphazard and disrespectful bible study days were gone.