How Impressionism Revealed God’s Perspective

I recently traveled to Chicago to enhance my copiousness. Yes, that was a stated purpose of the training I received there. To grow my mind and experience an abundance of historical thinking. I love the saying “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”, and try to model my relationships after that premise. I’m happiest when surrounded by those who enrich my thoughts and encourage me to develop big ideas. Never was this more true than during my time at CC’s Practicum Speaker Trainer Training. That’s training for those who will be training practicum speakers. A room full of CC folks with a passion for classical education, equipping others and public speaking. It was like returning to the mother ship. These were my people all the way down to our very core.

Intentionally, I scheduled my homeward flight for late in the evening, so I could traipse around Chicago for a day. My primary goal was to see The Art Institute of Chicago’s Impressionism wing. Specifically their room full of Monet. It just so happened my trip coincided with Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the dyeing of the river green. Not a deep natural forest green, but a bright psychedelic emerald. The garish color was mimicked all around me in thousands of people enjoying the celebratory mood of the day. They started partying around noon by 5pm had reached a fever pitch even my Uber driver was anxious to escape as he happily left the city to deposit my un-drunk self at the airport. Apparently I was the only sober fare he had all day.

St. Patrick's In Chicago

I’d rambled around the museum for almost two hours enjoying Greek, Roman, Modern and Ancient Indian art, but longing for Impressionists when I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. Just the very edge of a painting hugging a corner two rooms away. I knew instantly it was Monet and proceeded to avoid group tours and step around slow-moving elderly in my haste to see the full painting.

As I stepped into the room, I was overcome with awe. A dozen masterpieces by the great French impressionist encircled me. There to be savored. As I moved around the perimeter, I looked at each painting twice. Once as close as I could muster (without a docent scolding me anyway) to see the smallest detail, then a few steps back to observe the painting in toto. As I repeated this process, my awe gave way to an emotion not easily described, but one which created in my soul a desire to sit and weep.

I am not a crier. Not at movies, Mother’s Day, loss, happiness, not for much of anything do I shed tears. As such, this overwhelming flood of sentiment disquieted me enough that I found a nearby bench and sat struggling to compose myself while gazing at Monet’s Water Lilies.

I lost my battle to hold back tears as I identified the root of my emotion. My eyes were suddenly opened to a little of God’s perspective. As I muddle through life, moving from the mundane of laundry, to the routine of homeschooling, groceries and dishes, I tend to become tunnel visioned. My world seems incredibly small most of the time. I’m just trying to get through the next task, whatever is the most pressing concern or need of those around me. Often, I can’t think past Tuesday to make plans for Friday. As my focus narrows, life becomes a Monet up close. It feels pointless, just a swirl of nothing layered over more meaningless smudges. Life going around again and again in a jumble of details, relationships and tasks, with no value, no broader purpose.

Monet Water Lilies Up Close
This is where I really lost it and became supremely grateful nobody from training was able to trek to the city with me. Although we get lost in the minutiae of daily life, that is not God’s perspective. In the midst of seeming chaos, of colors that appear misplaced, relationships that look a mess, unrest and disquiet in our souls, He sees the completed master work. Not a brush stroke is wasted or errant. Our lives are His to develop through dusk and light, vibrant color and shadow. Our Lord builds layers that bring out the perfect balanced harmony of the work He is faithful to complete in us. In this life, we see a smidge of nothingness, the tiniest sliver of the finished masterpiece. As the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

As I managed to (finally) get a grip and head out of the room, I glanced back at the painting that first caught my attention and had another realization. If our lives encompass God’s creative genius, shouldn’t they shout His unmistakable composition in the same way Monet’s color and form drew me in from two rooms away? As Christians, our lives should be a demonstration of who the Lord is. His truth, grace, love, patience and gentleness should flow from the canvas of our soul. The mural of our being should be a reflection of The Great Artist who created us. Imperfect and flawed, we are a fallen jumble of brushstrokes when viewed up close, but a stunning expression of the Master’s hand with the proper perspective. His. Monet gave me a glimpse of that viewpoint, and I am eternally thankful.

Devotional: You Are Mean, Obstinate and Argumentative

“For whoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” James 2:10

Why do I consistently place the opinions of others in higher esteem than God’s truth? When confronted with gossip, accusations and whispered remarks, my strength should be rooted in the word of God, rather than my own fleeting feelings of self-worth and self-righteousness. I’m quick to leap to my own defense, instead of resting in the promise that God will fight for me, that I need only be still. (Exodus 14:14) Continue reading

Devotional – A Different Kind of Present

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.

There are times when it seems like God is not there. Days that stretch into weeks of wondering why He doesn’t seem to be fixing it. Making it better. I struggle in the helplessness I feel when facing a problem that is obviously too big. Too complicated. Too hard. I forget that I’m not the one who’s supposed to conquer my troubles. Continue reading

Devotional – Using His “Mom Voice”

1 Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied:    “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

We view obedience as such a nasty word. We require it of children, so once we reach adulthood we feel vindicated in stomping our foot and saying “Nobody is going to tell me what to do anymore!”. Sometimes we disobey God with the best of intentions. We think we are pleasing Him with our efforts. That thru service to Him, sacrifice in our lives and giving to others we’ll be bringing pleasure to the Lord. Other times it’s more blatant – like the king of Israel in chapter 15 of Samuel. He knew what God had commanded him to do, but in his own pride, thought he knew better. The spoils of war were not the offering God asked for, but Saul thought they would be a good enough replacement for the obedience he would not give to the Lord. Many times I bring my own version of “the fat of rams” to God as an example of how much I love Him – when all He’s asked of me is to hear His voice and obey it. God doesn’t ask for showy gifts or lives lived in utter sacrifice and deprivation. All He wants is for us to be His kids. To know Him and follow His guidance in our lives. Continue reading

Devotional – As Far From Good As You Can Get

Psalm 64:6 They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

I hear a lot how humans are basically good. That we can make for ourselves right and wrong. In many conversations I’ve taken the not too popular position that humans are not good. Not at all. That our natural inclination, our basic foundation of being is evil. That there aren’t “good” people. That belief is something I’ve long-held true, a belief I only have to watch my children to see firsthand. I mean, I didn’t ever have to teach them to lie, or be mean to each other. But I’ve never done any specific Bible searching about. It was particularly troubling me yesterday, and behold – God gave me a verse to start with in my reading today. He is so awesome at meeting us exactly where we are. Coming right down and essentially saying “So Tonya, something is bugging you? Let’s talk about it.” Man the Lord is incredible. Continue reading

Devotional – Feeding God

1 Corinthians  6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

The context of this verse is dealing with sexual immorality, which is a serious issue and one handled at length by God. However, when I read this passage today – it struck me in a different way. These verses brought to mind ,weight, body image, self-worth & eating habits. My struggle in life revolves around food, not sex. In pondering the idea of my body not being my own relating to food, I thought of something I hadn’t before. What would I feed God? Continue reading

Devotional – Isn’t It Obvious?

Numbers 9:16-17 So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. 17 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents.

A cloud by day, and fire by night. What an awesome way to see God. The children of Israel sure had it good. They didn’t have to wonder where God was leading them. They just followed the big pillar of cloud and flames. How I wish God’s will was that obvious in my life sometimes. Continue reading