I struggled to titled today's entry as it spans two days, Saturday and today. I also struggled to decided what to call this blog because both days were different --like most days, no two are alike. So we have subtitles
Saturday, "Bustling and Blessings"
Well, Saturday I had planned to work just a few hours while the boys and my husband headed to Crete to see the grandparents and prepare their cars for next week's Awana Grand Prix car race. I was thankful for something for the guys to do while I was painting. Helps ease some of the mommy guilt for the week. After an exhausting Friday, I wasn't sure if I had the energy to be at the mall Saturday. As with most malls, I'm sure, Saturday was quiet until 10:30 and then it was as if someone opened the flood gates and people piled into the space rushing here and there running errands or filling their need for more. In the midst of the bustle -- which was super over-stimulating to this artist, I had a few visits that breathed life into the day. Two were people I work with at Lincoln Berean Church and their families. It was great to have them there to encourage me and to see what I do outside of my work at the church. I also had a visit from a cousin of mine which was encouraging. There were others who stopped to watch me paint black lines around the colors already on the bulb but many just buzzed by as if the bulb was just another seating area or kiosk. I began to have comments like, "I thought you were done already."
"Nope" I would respond with a smile and then explain how the black lines who emphasize the colors. (Which someone did comment on during the work today.) I was keenly aware of how much time some of my walking friends spend at the mall. Many are faithful to walk ever day!
I finally learned the name of another maintenance man at the mall -- even though we've had brief conversations the past three years. A neighborhood woman who recently lost her husband stopped and introduced me to her son and daughter-in-law. And there were many others who tell me stories and share their lives whether related to Lighthouse or not. By 1:30 pm I was ready for coffee and a chat with a good friend before heading home to the boys smelling like a fry-cook.
Monday, "Miracles and Unlimited Time"
So, today's story starts yesterday when my five year old wasn't feeling well because of a cold. Here, I am, usually flexible with schedule and the week I need to finish a project he is sick! It's par for the course, really, and after fretting about it, I finally decided to pray about it. The answer seemed to be to call my mother-in-law. When my husband called, she agreed to come and watch our son so I could paint today. Relieved that it was taken care of I went to bed still praying God would do what only He could. My son was a bit better by bedtime, but I expected his cold to return in full force this morning. Much to my surprise, other than a stuffy nose, he was just fine this morning and had no complaints what so ever so he was able to go to school!
So instead of only getting till 1 pm to paint I got till 3 pm. I very much wanted to get the black lines done today so I started as soon as I arrived at 9 am. The traffic at the mall was super slim today so I was able to work quite a while at a time between talking with folks. I was visited by the mother of a highschool friend of mine. We chatted about how God directs our paths and sometimes uses accidents and diseases to alter our life path and how it causes us to focus on what is really important. I was visited by the neighborhood woman again today and this time we had a longer discussion about our lives and about how faithful God has been and how when we choose to obey His leading He takes us on amazing journeys to challenging and wonderful places that grow and stretch us in big ways. It is true as I have learned to hear His voice and obeyed when He called me, even to the challenging places out of my comfort zone, I see Him in big ways and remember I can't put God in a box. He is able to do so much more than I can imagine and every time I am left speechless. To close out time together, she leaned over the stanchions and gave me a hug. In that moment embrace she prayed for stamina for me and strength for the remainder of the day. The exact prayer I had prayed this morning as I was so tired before leaving the house this morning.
So God brought people I needed at just the right moments today and provided space and time to work. I was 2/3 done by 1 pm and had the lower 1/3 to line. I started praying for God to extend time -- I have experienced Him imparting His limitless time (for God is not bound by time as we are) to me in the past and I prayed for it again today. It was a relentless prayer and during some moments I would stop and talk to people including one of the security guards and then continue back praying for extended time. As 2:30 pm rolled around I still had a bit to go but I kept praying excited to see God do His thing. And as the alarm rang at 3 pm (an alarm so I don't forget to get the kids from school) I was super close to done. I hit snooze -- and 15 minutes later -- DONE! Completely done. The black lines were done. I did one of those pulled in punch "yeses" (or fist pump or yes-fists) Anyway, I was super excited -- God had provided the time to complete the project -- He had stretched the minutes and blessed the hours. The lines were done and my hand was aching BUT it was done! The only thing left -- to clear coat it Wednesday and Friday.
I had so much fun talking with people today about the project, about where the bulbs are going and that there are 50 that will be all over Lincoln between May and October. Many were familiar with projects like this and are looking forward to the auction in October at Haymarket Park. It has been exciting to meet people associated with Lighthouse and to tell people who know nothing about the organization about the amazing work that they do. I am thankful for the opportunity to share my gift of painting with my mall family and use the opportunity to get to know many of them on a little bit deeper level. I have been amazed and encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response by those at the mall and those who have watched the process through Facebook. I am thankful for all the comments and all the encouragement along the way. I am blessed to have so many cheerleaders in my corner.
So the hard work is done on this one but I ask that you keep in mind the other artists working on their bulbs at this time. Pray that the sacrifice of their time to create a bulb for this project will help bring awareness and funding to the Lighthouse in Lincoln so more teens can find a safe place during after school hours. And I hope you will enjoy the bulbs this summer as they are out in Lincoln. The one I painted at the mall is to be located at 70th and A streets at Seacrest Park.
Ann has worked as a professional artist since 2006. She currently works on her own studio artwork as well as large, commercial works and with other artists in any way she can.