The Artist (and Keeping Sight of What Matters Most)


“I’ve been drawing since I was a kid,” he’d tell you with the authority and hair flip of an almost eleven-year-old boy.

It is true. He has been drawing since the days when he could waddle under the dining room table without bumping his head, back when his favorite art medium was a fat crayon with all the paper torn  chewed off. Way before he had the longish-hair to flip with adolescent suave. And long before his tenth birthday which rendered him “almost eleven.”

Ever since he was a kid, this young artist has also produced paintings and created 3-D canvases and other works of art. Yet drawing has remained his favorite and most prolific form of creativity.

My friends, prolific is an understatement.

At first, we hung the finished masterpieces on the refrigerator, until we couldn’t find the door handle. Then we purchased one of those picture hanging thingies from Michaels. You know, the ones with all the wire and clothespins?  Eventually that threatened to fall off the wall from the sheer weight of it. The artist did not want to toss any of his work out – each piece seemed to be a part of him. Piles grew faster than the dandelions in my front yard.

“Eventually you won’t be able to find your favorites,” I told him with sage grandma wisdom, “because they will be buried beneath the piles of your less loved work.” So we put our heads together, his with the stylish long bangs parted to one side like a young movie-star and mine with the gray hairs so coarse you could use the strands as nail files.

We came up with a plan.

He would display his favorites on his bedroom wall and the rest would get filed in binders.

So grandpa – the handiest of handymen – hung a clothesline across the longest wall of his bedroom, where the almost eleven-year old thoughtfully considered which pieces he wanted to display front and center.

(And not-so-little brother wanted in too. On his clothesline he has a Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper costume hanging…because priorities…)

Now they have what is most valuable to them in easy reach, and this gives them peace and joy.

In a not-so-perfect analogy, we also benefit when we take some time to sort through and clarify what is most important to us. Living out what matters most brings peace, joy, and purpose.

But we cannot live out what we do not know.

Clinical psychologist and Christian author of more than fifty books, Gary Collins, PhD (1934-2021) said  “Values often remain hidden, and sometimes they are even denied or squelched. Until (values) are identified and articulated, it is unlikely an individual…can move forward with confidence. Values motivate us and energize us.”

We know that Jesus lived out what was most important. When we read through the gospels it is easy to see what He valued most: doing the Father’s will, prayer, relationships, and sharing the gospel are evident in everything He did on earth.

Likewise, when we are living out our own values, people can easily identify what matters most to us. Family? Faith? Creativity? Financial Security? Ministry? Integrity? I think of my youngest brother, and even though he hasn’t verbalized it, I know that family is what matters most to him – I see it in the time he invests with his children, the love for his wife, the way he cares for our father, and still takes time to send an email to ensure his older sister is okay. Family matters most. It’s not what he says, it’s what he does.

Or that one friend I have, who continually opens her home and heart to family and friends. Hospitality is obviously a top priority. In others I see the importance of ministry and serving.

When folks examine my life, I hope that they can clearly see faith, family, encouraging others and integrity are at the very top of the list.

Clarifying our values helps us make decisions and gain direction for our lives. When we ask ourselves: how does this align with my values?  the answer to a choice becomes clearer. As believers, we can readily pursue our callings with confidence when we say no to the less important things in order to say yes to the most important ones.  It doesn’t mean we toss out the lesser values. We keep them filed and near, but we find direction from the ones that we’ve pinned to the clotheslines of our hearts.

Below is one of the many canvases that adorn my home – created by the artist when he was just a kid :).

One of my favorite pieces from when the artist was just a kid :)

Dear Readers,

During this season in my life, while battling illness, I’ve asked the Lord to show me how I can live out one of my core values – of encouraging and helping others –  while I am currently limited in many ways. I’ve discerned that one thing I can do is share some of the tools I use with my clients. Clients and I always begin with clarifying values so that goals and action steps can be aligned. I’m including a free handout that you can download and work through. I highly recommend going through the work with another person – a friend or spouse. Or even with a group of folks. (Or a coach 😊 ) Use it with your teenagers or older Sunday School students .There is greater potential for moving forward and putting learned truths into action when we speak things out loud, when we process with others. I’ll also add the handout to my freebies page. Feel free to reach out to me with questions. And please let me know if you’d like more or less of this kind of post. 

Clarify your values

With love, gratitude and prayers that you will live out what matters most – and experience the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.


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