How to Know God More

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Have you ever known someone for a while, gotten comfortable with them, and stopped getting to know them?

You gave up digging deeper. You quit asking questions. You assumed that you already knew all that you needed to know. But humans are complex. Even though we may give up getting to know someone, you could spend a lifetime studying another human. Suddenly the person you thought you knew may do something that surprises you.

If this is true about humans, how much more is there to know about their Creator?

I started learning about God as a child. Back then, I learned simple things, like we do about our parents. I learned that God is good and God loves me. Over time, my knowledge of God broadened and became more nuanced. Things that once confused us about our parents later become clear as we understand their history and personalities better. The same happened as I began to understand God better. I learned that God is both merciful and just. I learned that He wanted the best for my life but that it may not be what I think is best or what I want at first.

Then at some point, it was as if I stopped learning anything new. I felt comfortable with God. Of course, I didn’t understand everything, but rather I gave up trying. I assumed that I’d have to wait until heaven to learn more.

But I’ve been reading the stories of Christians who seemed to know God in a different way. One still prayed to know God more closely, more intimately, even after decades of being a pastor. He hadn’t given up. God still fascinated him.

I thought maybe I was missing out on something. So I started praying to know God more. I wanted him to show me something new.

If you don’t want your life to change, don’t pray this. There are a few prayers God will always answer. These are the most dangerous prayers. How he answers is often unexpected or even the reverse of what you actually wanted. You only realize later that you didn’t know what you were asking. But God answered.

A religious man invited Jesus to have a meal in his house, and a woman with a particular reputation found out about it (Luke 7:36-50). She showed up uninvited, looking for Jesus. She brought with her an expensive perfume and poured it on his feet. Weeping, she wiped his feet with her hair and kissed them. The host was indignant at this display. He assumed that Jesus would not allow her to touch him if only he knew who she was.

Jesus then told a story about a gracious moneylender who forgave the debts of two men. One of these owed ten times as much as the other, but neither could pay off what they owed. Jesus asked which of the men would love the moneylender more. The host said, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” Clearly.

Then Jesus explained that the reason the woman showed such a display of affection was because she had been forgiven of her many sins. She had more reason to love Jesus that anyone else in the room.

But…she was not the only debtor in the room. In the story, neither debtor could pay his debt. Even though one owed less in comparison, it was still an enormous amount. There was really no point comparing. Whether they owed more or less, both debtors needed forgiveness. Yet the religious man was oblivious of his own need for forgiveness. He was too focused on the woman’s sinfulness to notice his own.

Because of this ignorance, he could not know Jesus in the intimate way that she did. He had no love for Jesus. He failed to offer his guest a kiss in greeting, water to wash his feet, and oil to put on his head. All of these were the typical signs of hospitality at that time, but the host did not carry out even these basic customs to welcome his guest. Unlike the woman, he did not really know who he had invited to his house.

There are times that God reveals who He is by first showing us who we are. Like the religious host, we cannot fully understand God’s love, mercy, or forgiveness unless we see our sin. It is when we see our sin in its proper proportions that we can finally grasp the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice and salvation. The woman who kissed Jesus’ feet had seen this. The religious man had not. To know God, we need the right perspective of who we are.

God answered my prayer by showing me a mirror. He made me face the ugliness in my heart that I was trying to cover up. It was only in this way that he could reveal what was holding me back from knowing him more deeply. Any sin that we keep and coddle will also keep us from getting close to God. When we let go of those sinful thoughts and behaviors, we find greater freedom and ability to pursue God.

At the same time, we see fresh layers of God’s amazing grace. In my own case, I was surprised by his patience and faithfulness despite my distracted heart. It also deepened my appreciation for the sacrifice of his son, Jesus, that fully and once-for-all paid the penalty of my sins. I celebrate his resurrection from the grave as proof that he has saved me from what I justly deserve and given me true and eternal freedom.

And now, I love him more than ever before.

What is holding you back from knowing him?

The Quiet of Living Alone

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My roommate moved out on Valentine’s Day. We hugged goodbye and promised to see each other again. Friends have asked me what it’s like having the place to myself now. The truth is the apartment feels too big and too quiet without her.

It sometimes feels like my friends who live with family or roommates envy the quiet. There are advantages to living alone, of course. The place stays cleaner. No one steals scoops of your ice cream in the freezer. You can set the temperature exactly to the degree you are most comfortable.

Just sitting at home with no one around. Sometimes it’s peaceful. Sometimes you wonder if you should go outside and be with live human beings.

But I wonder if the same friends forget about the disadvantages. When you live alone:

  • you eat more meals alone (which may risk your health, according to research studies).
  • you develop bad habits that no one helps you to curb (if no one sees you eat five cookies for dinner, did it really happen?).
  • no one will wake you if you sleep through your morning alarm.
  • no one will perform first aid or call an ambulance if you have a medical emergency at home.
  • it takes more time for people to notice if you are missing (who would know if you didn’t make it home?).
  • you do all the cooking and cleaning because there’s no one to share the tasks.
  • you most likely have to care for yourself if you get the flu (your place becomes a quarantine zone even the closest friends don’t want to enter).
  • you often have to choose between being lazy or being social because seeing your friends usually means going out.
  • you rarely get to enjoy sitting in the same room with someone without feeling the obligation to maintain conversation.
  • you are the only one who will protect your home from spiders (and other invaders).

Another aspect to consider, and possibly the most dangerous, is what might fill the quiet. In the best case scenario, quiet makes room for personal reflection and conversation with God. The “still small voice” can be easily drowned out by daily life’s chaotic noise (1 Kings 19:12). It’s important for us to get away from the noise and seek space to listen. Jesus would go up a mountain when he needed time alone with God (Matt. 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12). At times, quiet is good and necessary.

The quiet also makes room for other voices though. It’s normally when we find ourselves alone that our enemy comes out. He lies to us and accuses us. He picks at our deepest doubts. He takes advantage of our vulnerabilities. Remember that Jesus was alone in the wilderness for 40 days when Satan tested him (Matt. 4:1-10; Luke 4:1-13). Of course, he was able to stand firm against the attacks, and we can look for the Holy Spirit’s help when we are in similar situations. But even Jesus would later desire the comfort and strength of company (Luke 9:28; Matt. 26:38; Mark 14:32-34). When we live with others, they have more opportunity to notice when we’re getting down, believing lies, or feeling stuck. They can call it what it is and give us the encouragement we need.

The writer of Ecclesiastes noted, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:12). Two people are stronger than one, and three are even better. Although God does give us strength and encouragement directly, he also helps us through the words and actions of people around us.

Along with helping us when we’re low, the people we live with can challenge us to be better people than we are now. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” When people get together, they tend to refine each other. But it takes time. The more time you have with people, the more you will grow. If you live alone, then it makes sense that you will have less time with people. And the less time you have with people, the less you will grow. The quiet rarely reveals what we need to improve. It’s easier in the quiet to ignore our selfishness, impatience, and generally bad attitude.

Besides, the people that you only see in public might not see you in your worst moments. Even if they do, they have limited motivation to call you out on your flaws. It isn’t worth it to them. They don’t have to live with you. Home is where we take off the masks and show who we are underneath. It’s also the place that others are least likely to put up with our bad behavior. The people who live with us see the ugliness that we try to hide, and they inspire us to go beyond what we think is “good enough.”

Some people are content living alone, and others would if they could afford it. But even if you can live alone, are the benefits really better than living with others? Is it the best for you? Maybe you have enough money and are not afraid of the possible disadvantages. But are you missing something more? How can you replace the encouragement, growth, and companionship of that comes with sharing a home?

And if you are already living with others, whether family or roommates, please don’t envy the quiet of your friends who live alone. You may never know what the quiet is for someone else. Instead, invite them over to your home. Let them sit on your couch and tell them there’s no obligation to make conversation.

Comfortable with Confusion

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Even though I’ve lived in Spain for a year, there are still times that I do not understand what is happening around me. This may surprise you if you have never lived in a foreign country. While I’ve learned a lot over the past year, there is still much more that I do not know. It’s possible, as a foreigner, there may be things that I will never know or understand.

The other day I was listening to someone speaking in Spanish, and I realized that at some point she started using words unfamiliar to me and I had stopped understanding her. It was a simple passing observation.

I have no idea what she’s talking about,” I thought.

I didn’t dwell on this more than a moment because my next realization was that it didn’t bother me. At some point, I have become accustomed to being confused. I’m used to not understanding. It’s a normal part of life now.

When I arrived, not knowing made me uncomfortable. I asked so many questions. My goal was to learn as fast as possible and have the same level of understanding as in my passport country. It wasn’t only the language that gave me anxiety. The culture and customs were sometimes just as difficult.

But I’ve relaxed a little since then. Of course it’s still important to continue learning. I will never give that up. The difference is that I’m no longer afraid of the confusion. It’s part of the process.

This reminds me of times when other things happen that we don’t understand and we ask God, “What are you doing?” Sometimes it feels like God is speaking another language. His culture and customs are different from ours. We wonder what motivates his actions (or seeming inaction).

Another name for God’s language is His will. Sometimes it makes sense. Over time we learn more of God’s language and have a better understanding. If we’re blessed, the Holy Spirit may reveal to us this divine language more often than not. But even after decades studying God’s will, there are always those times when we suddenly realize we don’t understand.

Job is a great example. He lived “blameless and upright” before God (Job 1:1). Yet he lost everything he owned and his children. How was Job supposed to make sense of this? He couldn’t. But in the midst of his grief, Job’s first response was to worship God and say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21).

There are good things we don’t understand either. One of my personal favorite passages is Philippians 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

What a wonderful promise! God blesses us with peace beyond our understanding. In the midst of grief and suffering, we can have peace that cannot be explained by our circumstances.

While God may bless us with many other things, the ultimate gift beyond understanding would have to be giving up his own son Jesus to suffer and die in our place.

For God so loved the world,] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

How can we rationalize why God would sacrifice His own son for us? If you haven’t noticed, we don’t treat God very well. If we were a couple dating, God’s friends would be telling Him to ditch us and find someone better. Have you read Hosea? We’re adulterers. Humankind gives up God in exchange for almost anything. The truth is that we don’t deserve His love.

I’m glad that God’s will is beyond my understanding. If it were something I understood, then I wouldn’t be saved by Christ and accepted into His family. So I’m getting more comfortable with the confusion that comes when God does something I don’t understand. I trust Him, and I know His will is still good even when it’s beyond my understanding.

Besides, I have the rest of eternity to learn His language.

Trust God’s Promises, Not People’s

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000000000012Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

If you’ve been in church for a while, you probably recognize Proverbs 3:5. It’s a favorite inspirational verse. It tells us God has everything in control even when we don’t see it. He has a plan even when we don’t know what it is. How many times have we heard in church sermons, Bible studies, and our private devotionals to not put trust in ourselves?  When going it on our own, how many times have we disappointed ourselves? We cannot rely on our own strength or wisdom.

But an equally important lesson, in my opinion, is to not put our trust in other people. They can disappoint us just as much, yet I don’t think I’ve heard this message in church.

Think about it. When have you trusted in the ability of someone else to help you? You know you need help, so you look to someone else: a friend, a coworker, a counselor, your parents.

I do this. I expect a lot from people. If they say they will do something, then I expect them to do that thing. I’ve been disappointed a lot this way. Broken promises hurt, especially when you need help.

The problem is other people are just as weak and sinful as you are. Even if they appear on the outside to have life “figured out,” it’s an illusion. Trust me. No one is immune to mistakes or difficulties. And the truth is that, at times, people will fail you. We are broken and limited creatures. Sometimes it won’t even be their fault. It will be life circumstances: something urgent came up at work, their kid is home with fever, or they are looking for help just like you are.

The Bible tells us to not trust in people but to trust God. We need God every day, every hour, every moment. No one can replace Him. Yes, He can and does use other people to help us, but our help originates in Him.

Jeremiah prophesied:

Thus says the LORD:
‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.’

What a contrast! Curse vs. blessing. A dry desert shrub vs. a well-watered green tree. Which would you rather have?

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I recently read “Answers to Prayer,” a little book compiled from the writings of George Müller. He was a missionary in Bristol, England, during the 1800s. God called him to open several orphanages, and he accomplished this solely by prayer. Whenever there was need, he went to God. He would avoid talking about the need with others just so that God could get all the glory when He provided.

One time, a Christian man told Müller that he would give a donation once he received some money he was expecting. Six weeks passed by. No money. Müller then wrote:

I saw that such promises ought not to be of the value of one farthing, so far as it regards thinking about them for help. I therefore asked the Lord, when, as usual, I was praying with my beloved wife about the work in my hands that He would be pleased to take this whole matter, about that promise, completely out of my mind, and to help me, not to value it in the least, yea, to treat it as if not worth one farthing, but to keep my eye directed only to Himself.

After years in the Lord’s service, he had confidence that God would provide for the work to continue, whether that would be through this man’s promise or by another source. He determined to trust only in the promises of God. They had not finished praying before a letter came for him. It was someone writing to ask about where to send a large donation.

Müller continued, “Thus the Lord rewarded at once this determination to endeavor not to look in the least to that promise from a brother, but only to Himself.”

Then that afternoon, Müller received another donation. This time it was from the man who had spoken with him six weeks earlier. Even more surprising, his donation was much more than what he originally promised. The man had only received his expected money that same day and immediately forwarded a portion of it for Müller and his work.

Müller recorded his experiences such as this one as an encouragement to every believer. He continued relying on God alone until his last breath at 92 years old. In his lifetime, he established five orphanages that could together care for and educate up to 2,000 children at once. It’s estimated that he helped over 10,000 orphans in all. He did this without ever soliciting people for help. He only prayed to God and trusted in His promises. He wrote:

I desire that all the children of God who may read these details, may thereby be led to increased and more simple confidence in God for everything which they may need under any circumstances, and that these many answers to prayer may encourage them to pray, particularly as it regards the conversion of their friends and relatives, their own progress in grace and knowledge, the state of the saints whom they may know personally, the state of the church of God at large, and the success of the preaching of the Gospel.

To read more about God’s work in Müller’s life, you can download for free “Answers to Prayer” and five other narratives by George Müller from www.gutenberg.org.

I’m challenged and humbled by Müller’s example. I desire to pray as he did, fully trusting in God to fulfill His promises. There are two more notes to add here though. First, he regularly searched the Scriptures for God’s promises and will. His confidence in his petitions came from what he knew about God, and he trusted God to provide nothing more or less than what was promised in His Word. Second, there’s a difference between trusting in people over God and asking people for help. While Müller resolved to not share his needs so that God alone could receive the glory, I do believe God answers prayers in a variety of ways. We can and often should reveal our needs, invite the community of believers to help us, and still trust in God alone to provide through whatever means He knows is best.

If God provided for 10,000 orphans in Müller‘s life, what more is He able (and wanting) to do in your life? What could he be waiting for you to ask?

I Chose a Word for 2019

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Some people have a New Year tradition of choosing a word of the year. If you are not one of these people, the way it works is you pick a word to focus on and guide your decisions throughout your coming year. It’s best to keep it simple. A few suggestions could be “family,” “joy,” or “confidence.” Your word should be something you can apply in daily life.

Honestly, I’ve never participated in this tradition. But 2019 is a new year, and it is never too late to start a new habit, right? I didn’t exactly choose my word of the year so much as it was given to me. I was reading a book recently when the word jumped out and made its home on some avenue of my brain.

My word for 2019 is discipline.

The book was The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. It’s a little book and really shouldn’t have taken me months to finish. But I got distracted, misplaced it somewhere, packed it in a box of books when I moved, and finally rediscovered it when I unpacked it later. I could have read it in one week if I had better discipline.

Well, anyway, I eventually read a chapter about developing positive habits. In it, Bridges explains that we can’t make ourselves more diligent in one area of life while being lazy in other areas. He writes:

¨We may feel that a particular habit ‘isn’t too bad,’ but continually giving in to that habit weakens our wills against the onslaughts of temptation from other directions. This is the reason, for example, that it is so important for us to develop habits of self-control over our physical appetites. We may think indulging these appetites isn’t so bad, but such indulgences weaken our wills in every other respect of our lives.”

In my own case, I knew I needed a more consistent time of personal devotions every morning. I had tried several things to do this, but one of the biggest barriers was my seeming inability to wake up early enough. I would sleep longer than I told myself I would, and then I wouldn’t have time for the Bible and prayer before the other responsibilities of the day. I knew this was a problem, but nothing helped. Why couldn’t I wake up?

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The astronomical clock of Prague

After reading this passage in Bridges’ book, I looked at more areas of my life and discovered other ways I could learn better discipline. They may seem like small things, but these habits (or lack of) are all tied to my will and self-control. They use the same mental muscles, and the less that I exercise these muscles, the weaker they become. Then how can I expect to be disciplined every morning to wake up on time if, in other areas of my life, I don’t exercise discipline?

The only way to have discipline is to demand it of yourself in everything you do. In waking up. In exercising your body. In eating healthy. In working or studying. In maintaining good relationships. Everything is connected.

At first, discipline may sound daunting. American culture has eroded the value of discipline so that we have an unhealthy relationship with the word. It draws up images of military boot camp commanders barking orders and parents spanking their misbehaving children. Instead of discipline, everyone wants the luxury of laziness. Who wants to go to the 9-to-5 job when you can relax on a sunny beach?

This perspective is the opposite of the Bible’s message. Proverbs has no shortage of verses about the consequences for lazy people and the rewards for the hardworking. It adds that God disciplines those he loves as a father does for a cherished son (Prov. 3:11-12). Hebrews 12:7-8 describes discipline as the proof of a legitimate child. The loving parent will discipline their child. Therefore discipline and love go hand-in-hand. The fruit of the Holy Spirit in God’s children includes self-control, not indulgence (Gal. 5:22-23). The apostle Paul describes worthy overseers of God’s Church as being self-controlled and disciplined (Titus 1:8). Paul also wrote:

“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

1 Corinthians 9:25-27

Discipline is for our own good. It is a treasure to seek after and guard diligently. We should not fear it. Besides, it is what God wants for us too.

There is much more that could be said about discipline, and I will probably learn more throughout 2019. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read The Pursuit of Holiness. I already want to read it again. This time it won’t take me months to finish.

Have you chosen a “word of the year” before? What is your word for 2019?

How Perfectionism Kills Progress

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Cable cars over Madrid

In less than two months, my language partner has already figured me out. We meet every week to learn each other’s languages. She corrects my Spanish, and I help with her English. I have taken various Spanish classes since I was 13 years old, so I know a lot about Spanish and how it works. But over time I have realized that fluency has become less to do with the technical details and more about sounding natural.

I arrived in Spain ten months ago. Enough time for a full-term pregnancy. Friends tell me that my Spanish has progressed well since then. The classes have helped, but simply using Spanish in daily life is the real test. Talking with friends, store employees, waiters, and even strangers on the street lets me practice what I learn from books. It also is more stressful.

“You are a perfectionist.” That is my language partner’s summary. I know she is right. I can’t argue. My biggest difficulty in Spanish isn’t the conjugations or vocabulary. It’s a fear of mistakes.

Often when I’m talking with someone, I will notice a mistake as soon as I say it out loud. I immediately try to correct it. Therefore, I’m repeating myself multiple times in a conversation as I verbally edit myself. Or if not that, I speak in starts and stops, taking long pauses between words to order my thoughts and avoid any grammatical errors.

My friends have a lot of patience.

My language partner says I need to speak more naturally. Without fear.

We had this conversation while riding in a cable car over the city. We passed over a highway while cars rushed by under us. I was happily taking photos of the scenery without a thought to what a fall from that height would do to me. I don’t have a fear of heights. But when it comes to Spanish, I explained to her, I find myself with stage fright.

Relax, she told me.

View from the cable car

Instead of helping, my perfectionism is getting in the way. Being afraid of making mistakes actually makes it harder for me to communicate and connect. This applies to much more of life than simply learning a foreign language.

Since birth, we’re trained to avoid risk. We learn to be cautious to survive. The risks we do take are controlled and managed to reduce negative outcomes. Instead of asking someone out face-to-face, we date online. We submit anonymous complaints to our workplaces. We watch TV programs about travel instead of going ourselves. We don’t talk to our neighbors. We keep the stable job instead of pursuing our dreams.

My language partner said I was brave to come to Spain. I’ve heard it before, but I don’t feel it. The truth is I’m still afraid. Deciding to come was easy. The unknowns, everything I have yet to learn, the daily stretching and growing…these are the hard parts. These are the things I cannot control.

I hope that this blog can be an encouragement for anyone, no matter where you are. But I particularly want to write for other people living and working cross-culturally. We cannot be perfectionists. Every day is messy work. The best we can do is relax and take each day as it comes. Worry and fear will not help us. Instead, we must limit our self-expectations, knowing that mistakes are inevitable, and let God handle the rest.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:6
In which area of your life do you need to relax and trust?

A Fresh Start

The Blog

 

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Graffiti in Barcelona

Two years ago, I thought I would finally fulfill a long-time dream and create an official author website. I had a blog before. But it didn’t feel professional enough. I wanted a landing page to launch my writing career and be seen. It seemed the right thing to do.

So I made the website. I chose a catchy title, got the domain, and paid for the web hosting service.  I invested who-knows-how-many hours designing the website just the way I liked. Everything was coming together.

But it never launched. I never shared it. I did nothing to promote it. I didn’t even write a new blog post. Once the website was ready, I stalled.

There could be a lot of reasons why. Personally, I think the most likely is that I never really wanted the website that I had made. Other freelance writers and authors I admire have their own websites, so I felt I should too. The problem is that those writers make a living that way. I don’t.

Not that I couldn’t. Maybe I could. If I really dedicated myself to it. But the point is that I actually don’t need it for my living or career. I enjoy freelance writing, but it isn’t my full-time job. So I tried to do something that never was meant for me.

Maybe you’ve found yourself in the same position before. You try to make it work, but it isn’t what you should be doing for the outcome that you really want. There are other ways to use your time and energy for better results.

For instance, maybe you’re a painter. Maybe you’ve been trying to create portraits of people in a classical style. You think doing that is going to make you into the kind of “serious” artist you want to be. You even plan gallery showcases of your portraits. You provide the cheese cubes, and a musician friend offers to play. (I’m not a painter, so forgive me if the metaphor is inaccurate.)

But what you might realize as you’re standing there at your gallery showcase is that it isn’t what you wanted in the first place. It isn’t how you imagined it would be. All along, you were trying to be the artist that you are not. Instead, what you really want is to create whimsical modern art of pets. And you don’t care much if the finished art is displayed in a museum or gallery. You would rather have your art hung in homes, celebrating the love of the pets in the owners’ lives.

Far-fetched?

Recently I visited the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. The museum displays an extensive record of Picasso’s early works, some of which don’t appear finished or are mere drafts. But what surprised me most was how unlike they were from what I had formerly associated with Picasso. For most people who have heard of Picasso, his name probably calls to mind images like this:

picasso_blanquita_suarez

“Blanquita Suárez,” Picasso

However Picasso did not start out this way. He specialized in realism long before co-founding the Cubist movement and becoming world famous. He made many portraits and landscapes in the realism style, but one in particular caught my attention. In 1896, Picasso painted his sister taking communion:

picasso_firstcommunion

“The First Communion,” Picasso

This portrait is so life-like in person that it could almost pass as a photo. It is astonishing how Picasso managed to recreate such delicate details as the transparency of his sister’s white veil. I never knew before that this was how he started his artistic career.

But what if he had stopped here? What if Picasso had decided against further experimentation? What if he had been satisfied to continue painting in realism for the rest of his life?

Well, for one, few people apart from art connoisseurs would know his name. His work would have blended into that of other realism artists. Only art critics could recognize his technique. And the art world would be that much less colorful. It would have missed his unique perspective that cubism and surrealism expressed.

I’m not an art enthusiast (let alone an expert), but I’m glad that Picasso didn’t settle for copying the old masters. He is an example to us all. I don’t want to only copy the writers that I admire. I want to push beyond that, unlimited by the journey of those who came before me.

So I’m giving this website a fresh start. It isn’t the “author platform” I thought it would be. But hopefully, it will be something better. I don’t know exactly what it will look like. I know for sure it will change over time. We will discover it together. For now, my hope is to share thoughts and ideas to inspire, encourage, and challenge you. May you find a fresh take on universal topics, a different way of relating to God and others, or a simple change in perspective.

When was a time that you tried something and had to start over? How did it turn out after the fresh start? Was it better or worse than you expected?