Jan 8, 2015

Exhorting Your Encouragement

It was 1974 and I was sixteen years old in my home creating my first painting using oil paints. I had made other forms of art and had even won a ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair in third grade for a “seed painting”. 
Other than that, I had no lessons or experience painting and I can’t even tell you what prompted me to do the painting and I’m not sure where I got the canvas, brushes, paint, or easel from!
What I do remember was that I was trying to make a painting of the Grand Canyon using a photograph from an “Arizona Highway” magazine. And the paint brushes were not following my direction as the brilliant red and brown paint seemed to take on a mind of their own.
To say that it was my best painting I had ever done up until that point would have been correct. To say that it was worthy of being displayed in the Louvre Museum* would have brought caused my brothers to laugh to death.
You see, what I also remember was that my brothers didn’t hold any punches as they FREELY gave their over-the-top opinion(s). They told me and anyone else who was within a three-mile radius that the painting looked like a mass murder scene and proceeded to come up with some great names for the painting; none of which helped my already insecure talents.
I remember that their criticism really hurt me one day when relatives were gathering at our family home following a funeral. They used the opportunity to show my painting and freely and unreservedly give their critique as they gave a guide tour to all that they could persuade to join them.
And then, in the middle of their show, one of my aunts interrupted the brutality by exclaiming; “Personally I like it and think that it is quite good!” which closed their mouths. You see, this aunt had a reputation in the family as an artist; a very good artist and her comments stopped words from critics who couldn’t have painted any better than I had done.

“You have talents”; she went on; “I think that you should keep painting”.

And continuing on I did, for she had sparked a revolution in my heart to be creative. And, because of her encouragement, I eventually went on to win many awards, went to an art college, and produced many forms of art including graphic and architectural design, jewelry, stained glass, sculpture, wood working
, decorating, mold making, music, illustration, logos, and advertising.
And yes, I went on to produce many paintings; perhaps hundreds. And, I have even worked fulltime as an artist. All because of an aunt who took time to encourage me with her words.
In the Bible there was a man named Barnabas (translated “Son of Encouragement” see Acts 4:36) who was known for his encouraging words. His encouragement gave life to men like John Mark to press into his calling and eventually became the great apostle Mark
I want to exhort you to encourage someone in your life today. You too, like my aunt or like Barnabas, can be the one person to inspire someone else to press into what they are called to be. 
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.(Hebrews 3:13 NIV)

All Scripture from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
*** The Louvre Museum (or The Louvre) is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument. It is located in Paris, France.