Last winter, I gathered broken sticks from my butterfly garden. Those sticks symbolized parts of my life. What seem like “dry sticks” in your life and mine can range from a spouse or family member with any sort of addiction, to a serious illness, to raising babies and toddlers, to the constant busyness of being a chauffeur to multiple children, to the sorrow of singleness, to the challenges of teenage years, an elderly parent, to loneliness, to a child that has gone astray.
When I “harvested” the dried sticks from my garden, I saw beauty in the barren silhouettes of the butterfly weed plants. My heart had a déjà vu moment of the times I used to drive the Old Natchez Trace in Nashville just to soak in the beauty of the tree-lined roads. Whatever the season, I would go drive just to be with God.
I found the silhouette of the trees, or “winter’s lace” as I called it, to be as lovely as the canopy of translucent green during spring and summer. In a similar way that the elegance of winter trees reaching their arms upward in surrender touched my soul, my scraggly garden had an unlovely beauty to it. A empty beauty that moved my heart to continue to trust God in my winter seasons and times of drought!
My soul’s longings mirror the dried sticks and the “winter’s lace” of the exquisite Old Natchez Trace… arms raised upward in the cold seasons. But though thereare brittle and dry sticks in one hand I “see” jewels in the other. The jewels symbolize precious friends, God’s love and His Word in the middle of difficult times.
Marriage and relationships can bring the same sense of loneliness. Busy schedules and little quality time can place a strain on any relationship. And I think for “creatives”, often we do not feel understood by those we want to understand the creative and deep parts of our souls. I listen to others. I watch people wherever I go. I know I’m not alone. The reasons for the challenges in all relationships are different, but the pain they can evoke is just the same.
Despite difficult times, I have chosen to use my tender stubbornness to bring something beautiful from trials. I believe in God’s love and redemptive power amidst whatever I walk through. I create and push through the loneliness, sorrow and pain. I find beauty as I choose to use these places in my heart to create beauty from ashes. Or in this case, beauty from sticks.
I want to encourage you to push past your own circumstances and difficulties and speak life to yourself or a special friend or family member. I hope you may see what I create and journey alongside of me.
Know that whatever you go through God’s love is deeper, bigger, and more powerful than the disappointments.... His love is greater than the pain. But you must seek His love... pursue it!
The barrenness and emptiness of my garden isn’t as exquisite as the winters lace of Tennessee my heart longs to see again. But, it still evokes the same feelings of sorrowful hope. The barrenness is a loud reminder of the fullness and beauty the garden is intended for. The jewels I have wrapped around sticks have become my prayers and declarations for my life and your life… though I may never meet you. I have prayed for you that your heart will feel hope through what my hands create and write.
I believe in always choosing to see the bright side! Always!!!!! The tears fall... even sobs... I pour out the sorrow knowing God hears. He hurts with me! He feels sorrowful with me! I push past the feelings and choose to find the bright side.... no matter how hard! I feel moments of cynicism and doubt that I will have my longings filled earth side. But then I create! And despite the dryness of circumstances... my soul sings!
I wish you could jump through the computer screen and join me in my art room. I would open my cabinet full of jewels and hand you sticks and gold wire. I would make some coffee, tea or hot chocolate. And together we would create using the colors and jewels as prayers. I would listen to you open your heart and even share in your tears. If you didn’t have the strength to pray, I would take some sticks and form prayers and declarations over your life using the glistening jewels and beads.
I will end with one of most recent favorite quotes. “Create, I say create! One eye may widen because of it!” Whether it is your eyes that are opened to God’s love that in turn helps you begin to understand your incredible worth and beauty, or that of a loved one, I encourage you! Create!!! Immerse your soul in truth of God’s unfailing love. Let the jewels speak to your heart. Open your heart and lift your eyes to the one that walks alongside you in the trials of your life. You are loved! You are cherished! You are adored!