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Jessica Ferreira painting

Severing Strings

I am bubbling with joy right now because today will be the first time I feature a guest writer/past-blogger/artist. My best friend, Jessica Ferreira, is an incredible human being with a heart that outweighs gold. We met in 6th grade, when she was heavily into her Spice Girl phase and I was only about some Hanson. She moved back to Venezuela for 7th grade, and I thought I’d never see her again. One day after school in 8th grade, I saw her standing by a wall and had to go and talk to her! The rest is history. Our friendship has cultivated and grown since then, with hilarious highs and barren lows. We get through. She is a fighter, in every sense of the word, and is a walking bottle of creativity. Today she will be sharing with us a work of art that comes from the deepest depths of her soul. Vulnerability has not always been her strong suit, but her journey to transparency is in full swing and one can only be bettered by everything she has to give.

Megan and I have been good friends for a very long time. And by a very long time I mean long enough for us to know that when a Saturday has clear blue skies and is slightly breezy, we both text each other saying, “It’s a BK Kinda Day.”

Yes, Burger King. Don’t judge.

When she asked me to guest blog for her, I was very honored, but skeptical at what I would talk about since “writer” is not the first thing I describe myself as. But alas, it is something I like to do.

When she asked me to write something for her, I got the notion from God to talk about a painting I did a little less than a year ago. The notion was more like a nudge to finally present this piece to others, even though it brings up a lot of roughness in my life.

I don’t have a name for this painting. Yet.

I don’t even know where to begin explaining it really.

However, I can tell you I painted it because I had to release what was going on inside of me. And for me, painting is the only way I know how to do that.

The months before this painting was made had brought about a relationship I had no idea would change my life. I had invested all of me into a person whom I had, at first, genuinely befriended and loved in Christ. As the time passed, however, my needs, along with theirs, became tangled in long strings of attachment; emotionally, physically, mentally, even spiritually. Those strings became thicker and harder to sever, becoming chords that bungeed as we so desperately tried to run the opposite direction. Because of those needs, we saw in each other a glimpse of mutual and unconditional love; a love that stemmed from Godly pursuit, but became twisted enough to make us believe it was all we had.

Satan is very good at doing that.

When things began to unravel (thank God) because of conviction, my life felt like the perpetual walls were caving in. In retrospect, they were actually scales falling off of my eyes.

I saw the strings that we all naturally possess. Strings that, at their proper use, are to be united for healthy relationships, with guidance from the Holy Spirit. But my strings (my needs) became connected through my selfish gain, causing not only hurt and doubt for me, but also rapture and pain in a once beautiful, unfortunately short-lived, friendship.

I wanted love and to be loved, and so I gave my needs away, letting the strings wrap around someone who was never intended to hold on so tightly.

When I started the painting, I had a very difficult time. I had to revive the pain so that it could reach the surface enough to be purged out. After a while, and after staring at it for longer than I care to admit, the lines began to flow, the colors began to emerge, and the feeling of release was finally peeking it’s way through.

The white lines around the figures are our natural, God given needs to reach out and be loved and love fervently. The colorful chords are the ones that had been attached, intense in color and strength but damaging in all ways. However, by the immeasurable Grace of God and the Cross, he severed them.

You may be dealing with issues similar to mine. Problems that are aroused by the need we all have to feel wanted and needed, but going about them the wrong way. We may have the idea that if we love someone enough, and they love us in return, they are capable of fixing us, whatever we may need fixing in our lives.

Listen friends, we are but humans, incapable of rescuing each other from the depths of turmoil. We fail at that because we are fallen. We must continually seek Jesus in order to even border the line of servant-hood and love He walked along so passionately. And Jesus did it because he knew what the Father wanted: dependance on Him. Not dependance on his disciples who loved him, not the crowds who sought him out; not even the idea of just, for one moment, taking in what this world had to offer.

He attached himself to the only source that had the power to revive him in the darkest of times, even if those times were lonely.

It doesn’t matter who or what you love, but a matter of the heart. It is not whether you are in need of something or feel you are attracted to someone, in the right binds of marriage or if are a loving father, mother, sister, son or  daughter. It is where you put them in your heart that you must be aware of.

So my encouragement is this: Be honest with yourselves. It leads to truth. Be honest with where you put people in your life. When you do that, and you realize that there may be a person that has become a chasm between you and God, just hand that to Him, for He alone can handle it. Not you. Not the other person.

I also encourage you to find ways to release these sometimes unspoken emotions. From the talents we have, the times we use to exercise, to even being vulnerable with someone; it can all lead you to a path of awareness.

God knows the ins and outs of your deepest longing. Depend on it. You are worth it.

Trying To Do It All

I’ve noticed here recently that there’s been an overarching theme in my more serious writing, which is completely normal. I don’t know why I find it so surprising. We go through seasons, phases, lessons. Sometimes they take a while to harvest.

I feel like God’s been saying, “stop trying to do everything, and focus on what matters. But not what YOU think matters. Use your energy to do what I want you to do,” for weeks, months and possibly years now.

Since my vlog post on Monday, I’ve really seen how crippled I’ve made myself by all of the commitments I take on. No one thing ever gets my full attention, because there are too many tasks to accomplish. This being the case, the things that do actually get done are not the best they can be.

I’m learning that a good leader is not someone who can do everything, but who can do a few things well. Mainly because he/she has the time to do it. A good leader is able to resist the temptation to take on this and that, more and more… and more. In this resistance, he/she forsakes potential fame and glory for themselves. A good leader has his/her eyes steady upon something greater than “you did a great job!” or “man…. you’re super mom!”

Jesus showed for us a great example by letting himself be fully human (and still fully God) and had rest. His moments of rest all throughout the gospels show me that it is necessary if we want to completely and fully love others. Withdrawal and reflection is crucial to filling up again and going back out. Choosing a handful of people (or tasks) to invest in is ultimately more effective and produces a better quality of life than attempting to accept every request and opportunity presented before us.

So, with that being said, I am here and now going to publicly announce what I am giving up. I am doing this as an exercise in applying a lesson learned, and to challenge others to either let go of or take on commitments.

My Letting-Go-Of List

Trying to clean the house EVERYDAY

Wedding Planning

Media Shout at church

Blog Designing

It may not seem like much, but those four commitments are huge and time consuming, and although good things in and of themselves, are not the commitments that I feel God wants me focusing on at this time.

Just making that list is already so liberating. Mmmm, peace.

Now for the follow through.

My Tattoo Collection

I’ve managed to grit through a small collection of tattoos over the years, and I intend to expand said collection. Currently I have 4 pieces, all in different areas. None of them tie together, although each one has a spiritual reference which allows them all to flow. I’d like my next piece to either cover a calf or perhaps my other free shoulder/arm. I’d really, REALLY love a piece all about Florida and perhaps have it look like an old post card. We’ll see.

Anyways, here’s what I’ve got so far and a snippit of why I got it!

Ahh yes, the first tat. I forget I even have this one sometimes. It’s not the easiest one to see. Between the summer of 06-07, I lived with my three best lady pals. We had a hilarious year, but also one of great lessons. God showed us all in different ways how He provides for us, so we decided that we were all going to get a sparrow tattoo as a reminder of God’s provision. I was the dumb one and got it in a place I couldn’t see, so sometimes I forget about that provision. Nevertheless, God reminds me in other ways.

Sadly, I have no pictures of me getting my ‘beloved’ tattoo, but I did get it with my friend Stookie. We both wanted to get something that represented God’s love for us. She got a ring finger piece, and I got this wrist piece. I had, at the time, discovered that God ACTUALLY loved me (something I had never felt before) and the word ‘beloved’ was popping up everywhere. I felt it best described who I was to God.

I definitely didn’t ease myself into this one. Sometimes you just gotta go for it, ya know? This was a complete original drawing by my favorite tattoo artist, Heather, depicting not only how God feels about me but also how he deals with me. I wanted the lyrics from the John Mark McMillan song, “loves like a hurricane, I am a tree” to be turned into a tattoo. I also wanted to incorporate John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Genie went with me to get this, as she had a little ink work done as well.

My wedding band is the last tattoo I’ve gotten. Daniel and I are not ring wearers, and so we decided to go with a creative and WAY less expensive route for our wedding bands. We realized before hand that they would probably end up looking like we got them in prison, because ink on the fingy’s is not the best choice as far as healing and aesthetics go. But the tattoos are for us, and no one else. It’s a daily reminder of my union with Daniel, and I can never take it off. So I’m stuck with him! His band says Genesis 2:18, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” Mine says Genesis 2:22, “And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

So what’s next? Who knows. There are so many ideas I have, it will take a life time to get them all. I’m itching for one, that’s for sure.

What about you? Any tattoos with particularly special meaning? Potential ink that you want to throw out there for some feedback?