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Painting with a stranger

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

On Sunday, my sabbath day, I was watching some sermons online and kept trying to do little projects. For those of you that don’t know what sabbath is- “sabbath- a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday.” [Dictionary.com] I kept telling myself rest Stephanie, you are not supposed to be working. Me trying to refrain from work is an on and off challenge for me. I am working on it though!


I told myself I want to go out and explore a little bit. I need to get away from my workstation! I grabbed my paints, water, my canvas and tablecloth. Before I stepped out, something told me to grab another canvas. I questioned it because I knew it was hot and I wouldn't have the energy to do two paintings, but whatever I grabbed it and made my way out the door. I got in my car and I told God I wanted him to lead me to where he wanted to spend time with me. I turned up my worship music and started driving. I was singing my heart out! I love to sing, but I am not the greatest singer. I followed the promptings in my spirit/head. I know that’s kind of weird, but it is like listening to your inner voice for those that have not experienced it yet.


I see some beautiful towns as I drive around and take a mental note of some places I would like to visit at a later time. I trail off this one street and the Holy spirit told me I was going the wrong way. I turned around and drove for a few more minutes. I heard a “turn right” then I ended up at this park. There were plenty of tables and people in their own groups. I parked my car behind the park, got out and did a quick walk to search the area; I wanted to make sure it was safe and know exit routes. I went to my car and got my backpack with all my painting gear. I walked around the park to find an open table where people weren’t smoking or there was not too much commotion.


I set up the table with the supplies and tablecloth, because I am a little extra and didn’t want to damage the tables. I am about to start drawing out an idea when I felt someone staring at me. I look around and about 100 feet away there is this older woman with a red rolling walker with a seat, heading towards me. She smiled at me while I looked at her. I smirked back and then proceeded to look down at my materials and started to put out the paint. The lady, which I’ll call Doña. (Doña is the name we call my grandmother, but it is a name of respect given to senior well respected women.) She parked her walker across from the table and asked me something in another language. She thought I was from the Middle East, (This is something I get a lot. I have a high assumption I have Arab family roots) I told her I couldn’t understand. I discovered that she is from Iran and speaks Farsai. She signaled if it was ok for her to sit by me. I said yes. She wanted to watch me paint. Oh goodness, she wants a show and I get nervous when people are watching me paint or just staring. A thought popped in my head. Now I know why I needed extra canvases. I asked, and signaled, to her if she would like to join me and paint. The table was huge so she wouldn't be too close. I was still a little nervous, because of Covid. I gave that fear over to God. She was hesitant. Then said yes. As she made her way over I set out the paints, water, and canvas for her. My google translator was not working so all I knew how to say was hello. This was going to be interesting.


She sat down and I tried to get my pencil to work to draw a scene out. My pencil had other plans. Doña thought it was funny. She was waiting for me to get it together so I can show her what to do. In my head I said I am no art teacher, why am I put in spaces to teach, let alone we don’t speak the same language. Stop questioning yourself and just do what you need to do.


I am very expressive and use a lot of non-verbal communication when I speak. I just need to use that skill instead of my words. I started to show her different things and told her it's ok to do her own thing. Just be free when you paint. After about 20 minutes of us painting she grabs her phone, calls someone and hands me the phone. The person on the other line happened to be her daughter, who spoke English. Her daughter, Jane told me that it was so kind of me to do that. The senior center that her mother attended shut down 5 months ago. She does not get out a lot and that she used to paint at the senior center. She is so grateful for my actions and kind heart. I said no problem, it has been fun. I’ll take pictures of her with the painting so you can see it. I gave Doña back the phone. We went back to painting.


She was smiling and it brought so much joy to my heart. She even had some features that reminded me of my grandmother! My eyes were full of tears because I have not seen my grandmother in about 6-7 months. I miss her so much. Oh God! Help me get my emotions together! This meme was me!



Later, Doña turns around and a woman is walking towards us, speaking to her and then gesturing towards me. I assumed it was the daughter or someone she knew asking who I was, that she was sitting with. I would have done the same thing. It happened to be Jane, her daughter. We spoke for a few and she told me she was praying to God to send her a friend! That she felt like God had not been hearing her. She had her eyes full of tears and was drying them off. Then said that after she finished that prayer that her mother called her saying she made a friend at the park. My heart clenched itself. Wow! My eyes were getting worse and I told myself “deep breaths Stephanie.” I told her, that sometimes we feel like God isn’t hearing us and he answers us in mysterious ways or there is so much noise around us we can’t hear him. I only ended up at this park because I was spending time with him and letting him lead me. I honestly don’t know where I am right now! She was shocked.


It was such a beautiful thing. We went on to have more conversations while I was at the park. They said that they would cook for me and show me around the city if I wanted. That if I ever go to the park again I could meet them there. I tell you this story because sometimes we don't know why we feel a push to do certain things and go to certain places. I didn't know I would end up at the park painting with a stranger and God would do a work in all of our hearts. I didn’t have any expectations that resembled that. I just thought I would listen to music, vibe with God and paint. He had other plans. He reminded us that we were seen, loved, heard, and not overlooked. That our prayers were not in vain and he can produce solutions out of hard places. Just like he brought water out of the rock. We want a specific answer to our prayers and how we want it to look. We are stuck on our end goal that we don’t give God space to show us new things. “Now to him [God] who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20 NIV


What if God wants you to bring an extra lunch serving to work to give to your co-worker. Even though you have an assumption about your co-workers financial situation, they may not have eaten because of some family financial struggles. You have this feeling to invite a person to grab coffee just to chat, little did you know that, that person felt so alone and was contemplating suicide. They felt forgotten in this world. God can use you at any moment to be a LIGHT in the dark places. God will do the same for you. God can bless you and others in your obedience! I am grateful for God pushing me to get out of the house so I could be obedient for my self discipline, my relationship with him, but also to continue to spread God’s love and word throughout the world. To be a Light.


I hope that you allow God to let that INNER light have a GLOW UP. For the light within you to shine so bright that it allows others to see the path in front of them. That God is still in this world and he still is giving out peace, love and grace. Have a blessed day.


Just in case no one told you this today:

You matter,

I see your progress,

& You are WAY stronger than you think!

-Stephanie



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