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red said paisley

By: Natalie Lloyd

She was obsessed with the color red. According to the newspaper article, it all started after a death in her family. Painting helped her cope with the grief, which is what drew me to her story.

As much as writing is something I breathe and do, it’s also something I gravitate back towards when life gets crummy. Art is a great release that way. What surprised me, though, was that the artist in question didn’t choose to paint the darkness that was no doubt converging on her heart. There were no storm clouds, no dark blurry nights, and no lights being extinguished in any corner of her canvas.

Instead she went for a bold color: RED. Maybe it represents anger, maybe determination, maybe passion. maybe all of that. There were other colors on display too: yellow, green, and soft denim-blue. But red was central.

Her work was stunning. If you could take a sunset and wring it out on a canvas, it would resemble this woman’s art. Every abstract splash of color meant something to her, helped her move through the chaos. They could just be shards of paint on a canvas, but something about her intentionality and artistry made it a masterpiece.

After I read about her art, I made a random note over a passage in my Bible that kept cropping up in my life. The passage is from Deuteronomy 6:5-9, about taking God’s word and binding it to the life I’m living.

The note I made could have described one of her paintings: Red Said Paisley.

Out of a Full Heart

I don’t naturally gravitate toward Deuteronomy. The books of the Old Testament can be hard to maneuver through anyway, and that passage in particular seemed extreme. I’m told to keep God’s Word in my heart. But I’m also supposed to teach it, think of it when I wake up, think of it when I go out and think of it when I go to sleep at night. And then it says I’m to bind God’s Word to my wrist and forehead.

I could literally write God’s word over my bedroom door or tattoo them on my wrist. I could wear His words on a shirt or a hat. I’ve done that in the past–written a piece of  Scripture where I would see it every day. I’ve memorized certain verses because they challenged me or because they were pretty or just because Scripture memorization is something I’m supposed to do.

But a bright red canvas helped the passage in Deuteronomy resonate in a new way: I’m supposed to keep God’s Word in my heart. What happens in my heart is what shows up all over my life; whether I want it to or not.

Bound

If God’s Word is really filling up my heart and overflowing in my life, Deuteronomy gives me a glimpse of how that life might look.

I’m told to teach the Word diligently to my sons and daughters. I don’t have kids, but I still have the opportunity to invest in other lives. I can mentor a group of younger girls and find a place in my church to get more involved. If God’s Word is changing me, I have a tendency to want to share what I’m learning with somebody.

I’m told to think about God’s Word when I lie down at night and when I get up. Really, those two points of the day are big stressors for me. Usually when I lie down at night, my mind is like a radio station with constant static. I think about the paper I still haven’t written, what’s happening in my family or a situation between friends. On nights like that, I can hold on to the promises of God and let them roll over every worry in my mind until they bring me a peace that goes beyond my understanding.

Which brings me to this last piece of advice: Binding God’s Word to my hands and my head.

What if God’s Word becomes my inspiration for the work I do? Every day I do something with my hands. Whether we write, paint, build houses or bag groceries . . . what if we did that to the best of our ability and to the glory of God?

New year

So, after some inspiration from a cool artist I read about in the newspaper (not to mention a cool verse I found in Deuteronomy, of all places), I wrote a little New Year prayer that I remember this way:

RED: Change the way I see the world this year. Show me what breaks Your heart. Open my eyes to the work You’re doing all around me, because that’s where I want to be. I’m ready to get over myself and my insecurities and get wrapped in the way You love.

SAID: Remind me of the responsibility behind every word I think, speak, write or say. My words and actions reveal my true character. I don’t want to be bratty, catty or ungrateful. I  want to be a woman of integrity. I want to use my words to speak encouragement into people’s lives, to stand up for the broken down and comfort the brokenhearted.

PAISLEY: In all this chaos, all these unpredictable phases I keep moving through but never see coming–in all the confusion, and the questions, and the sickness, and the excitement . . . draw me closer to You. I know You’re holding on to me through seasons of change, through whatever this year brings. I want Your Word to show up in the way I live.

Here’s to another new beginning: bright red and beautiful.

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