What's On Your Canvas?


My sister gave me a French market bag for my birthday. 

It’s a darling little net shopping bag, perfect for filling with a French baguette, some flowers and maybe a few rounds of cheese, if I lived in Paris. 

But I live in Florida and I could have used it today as I shopped for last-minute foodstuffs in case the hurricane headed to the east coast knocks out our power.

I roamed the aisles of SuperTarget and most of the bottled water shelves were already empty. 



I thought I’d pick up some granola bars or trail mix but I ended up with a jar of sun dried tomatoes, a package of cheese tortellini and a jar of basil pesto. 

I guess I can cook it up ahead of time and I really don’t mind eating cold pasta.

I also picked up an extra bag of pumpkin spice coffee too {just in case there’s a pumpkin shortage once the storm passes}. 

And I grabbed another box of cranberry scones to have with my coffee. 

Assuming there's power to turn on my coffeemaker, of course.



These items would have fit nicely in my little French shopping bag, which was from a new restaurant and market in our neighborhood called Canvas, where my sister took me for dinner on my birthday.

With a name like Canvas, I thought there might be large pieces of abstract art hanging on the walls or maybe an unfinished canvas as a painting in progress, but I didn't see any obvious pieces of art. 

Instead the dining room was framed in floor to ceiling windows that offered spectacular views of the lake.

The market was stocked with boutique gifts and vintage items like chandeliers, pillows and chairs. There was even a sandwich counter and a coffee bar.

It seemed it was all part of a larger work of art of community -- a familiarity, a friendly vibe, a place for celebration.




I feel like a work in progress too, but it's hard to see sometimes that I'm part of a bigger story of how God works in all of us. Yet I know what stretches me is what is at work in me.

I start my day with a mug of coffee and my Bible open on the kitchen counter. I pray for those God-breathed words to saturate me and produce a kindness I don't always feel to cloak my words and a grateful perspective to color my conduct. 

Yet I’ve hardly left the parking garage on the walk to my office when someone {anyone really and no one in particular} brushes by the circle of my imaginary boundaries and I feel irritated. Then a task or project or conflict sinks me lower down the stairs of disgruntlement and I wonder where in the world did my best intentions go?

I wonder why progress with what I so desire to change seems impossible. Why is the new path so difficult for me to forge on top of the same old worn down tracks? Why can’t a lifelong demeanor be transformed? 




And then I see it.

Just as the gifts and the food and the people -- even the French market bag --  of the Canvas Restaurant & Market make it all a work of art.

So are we. 

The canvas isn't finished. We are a work in progress, in the hands of God, shaped for his purposes.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. - Is. 64:8 
But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. - Jer. 18:4

There will be storms to weather, trials to withstand and challenges to ride out, but we don't do it alone. {Thank goodness.}


So I asked my sister if she had enough gas for the generator and propane for the grill in her outdoor kitchen. She said of course, they were all set since my brother-in-law is always fully prepared. 

The last time there was a hurricane and the entire city was without power, I walked into her house to find my sister and the kids sitting in the living room watching TV with lamps lit and fans blowing. My brother-in-law said he considered turning on the air conditioning for a while but he didn’t want to overload their generator. 

So that’s where you’ll find me if the power goes out {along with the rest of our neighborhood}. 

I know for sure I can make some pumpkin coffee there {courtesy of the generator, of course} and eat my cranberry scones. 

And I can pack them all in my little French shopping bag for the walk over to my sister's house.




I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Click the image to hop over and read more posts from my blogger friends!


Comments

  1. Oh yes ... that our sacred moments with God would fill us with the depth of kindness that overflows into those irritating moments that occasionally seem to crowd our day.

    We stopped in a little French bakery not far from here over the weekend and I picked up a loaf of Bacon Cheese Bread. Lovely healing comfort food.

    http://pbboulangeriebistro.com/

    Needless to say there are few French bakeries way out on the Cape. But I thought of you anyway ...

    Be safe. And enjoy the food you've foraged in recent days ...

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Ohhh - you have a little taste of Paris so close to you! I looked at the website and it looks so charming and bacon cheese bread is certainly filled with healing properties, I'm sure! :) Thanks for thinking of me on your visit there (I am honored!) and thank you for your good wishes for riding out the storm! xo

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  2. So grateful that God isn't done with us. We are certainly human, but I think it's that intention to obey, lean in and follow hard after God that sets our heart apart for Him. I know it usually only takes a short drive with Southern California drivers to raise my awareness that I have not arrived! Praying you are safe in this storm and that those scones last! ;)

    I'm relaunching my blog and I'd love to invite you over to celebrate. So grateful that our paths crossed in this blogging adventure. You are a gift!

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    1. Tiffany,
      Me too -- about the scones! :) And I've only visited Southern California once and driving between LA and Laguna Beach was enough to make me never want to live there -- you are a brave woman!

      I love your new website design -- love the font, love the white space, love the art, and now I'm dreaming of sprucing mine up! Maybe I'll get a little time during the hurricane if my laptop battery holds out! :)

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  3. Dear Valerie,
    What a sweet and fun Birthday outing and gift from your sister! She sounds like she understands your heart! :) This thought today is touching my heart: "The canvas isn't finished. We are a work in progress, in the hands of God, shaped for his purposes." I so need to keep that in mind, when I find myself becoming so discouraged at my lack of progress! He is still shaping, and He will not just walk away from His work in me! Thanks for your beautiful words again! And, I'm praying for you all there, and hoping that the generator is not needed this time! --Hugs and Blessings!

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      Yes, my sister is the only one who completely understands me! :) I'm so glad you're with me on the "work in progress" journey and I'm glad God does finish his work in us! Thank you for your good wishes about the generator -- but it's not looking good at this point. Hoping for an eastward turn! :)

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  4. Praying the storm dissipates dear friend!! xoxo And I need to add my favorite verse to your artful list: Eph.2:10- For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago....
    Friends of mine are in Asheville, NC at the Billy Graham retreat this week and one sent back a picture of Ruth Graham's tombstone inscription- "End of construction. Thank you for your patience"... We're all works in progress and God is touching us all up at every turn. I can beat myself up for "my" lack of progress or surrender to God's perfect plan and look for his purpose. He is so gracious and merciful to us even when we feel we miss the mark. Hallelujah! Love the market bag and the restaurant sounds so charming! Seems like it was a full on french themed Birthday! ♥♥♥ Happy to have friends like you to ride out the storms with ♥♥♥

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    1. Heather,
      Yes, I love the verse about being a masterpiece -- thank you for adding it to my list! :) What a poignant inscription on Ruth Graham's tombstone, especially from someone who most definitely let God shape her! Always looking for his purposes and thank you for your good wishes about the storm -- we'll see how it goes! xoxo

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  5. Oh, I hope this storm dissipates in the ocean and leaves everyone well enough alone. My heart is breaking for Haiti right now. So glad you have your sister to ride out the storm with. And so very thankful for a God who's patience is far wider than my understanding! I think we're on the right road when we realize we've gotten off track and make the effort to get back on again.

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    1. Hi Alecia,
      Bracing for the worst, hoping for the best! Glad to hear from you even though you're on a little blog break -- hope things are going well in your new adventure! And yes, I'm so glad God's patience with us never runs out!

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  6. Oh Valerie. I sure hope the hurricane doesn't come to your city. This line really gives me hope - "The canvas isn't finished. We are a work in progress, in the hands of God, shaped for his purposes." The verses about the Potter and the clay do, too. Thank you. Blessings and hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      I love those verses about the potter and clay since I can just envision the artist at work and it's so descriptive! I think the storm is on its way here . . .

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    2. I'm praying for your protection, Valerie. Big hugs!

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  7. I think the thought that God is still working in me and my life keeps me going. Some days it is the only thing that keeps me going. I am so thankful that we have a God that has a plan and purpose for us. I am glad that you have a place to go for the storm. family is the best. Enjoy that Pumpkin spice coffee. jealous ; ) hope you have a good weekend

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    1. Hi Kristina,
      Pumpkin spice coffee is the best, isn't it? Oh I'm so grateful that God never gives up on us and continues to complete the work he started in us!

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  8. This is the second time today I've been directed to 2 Corinthians 4:7: Jars of clay and God's power within us! On the outside were not much, but God's power is within us, and He never leaves our side. I'm definitely a WIP and grateful to know so many other sisters that are too, as we navigate this time until we're home again. And also grateful to know other sisters that like pumpkin spiced coffee. Where do you get that coffee?? I've only seen the syrups which I find too sweet! Praying all will be safe from the storms!

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      Thank you for your prayers! The pumpkin spice coffee is from Dunkin' Donuts and I agree that I think the syrups are too sweet too! So glad that you're a work in progress too and yes, we will continue walking until we reach the other side! :) xo

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  9. Oh Valerie! I'm praying Matthew takes a turn away from you! Oh, and yes, I'm praying for kindness to take hold of me too - you pretty much describes me on that one!

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    1. Hi Ellen,
      Waiting for the storm to arrive as I type, and I love that you want kindness to take hold of you too -- I so wish and pray for that and it's not always as I'd hope but we are works in progress and will keep on praying to be filled up to pour out!

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  10. The food you picked is so you, it makes me smile and want coffee and scones with you.
    Hope you stay safe and full of power!

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    1. Sarah,
      I guess the food was sort of a ridiculous choice, wasn't it?! I picked up a little turkey sandwich today for lunch tomorrow -- we'll see how that holds up!

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  11. Hi Valerie- praying you are ok and safe in the storm! I love your blog and your beautiful words! always a treat to be here- I love the sound of that restaurant and the bag is so cute too! Thank you for reminding me that I am a work in progress- sometimes I get discouraged and it seems like I will never get ‘there” wherever there is! and new paths of thinking are so hard for me!! Thankful for his patience and kindness and that He promises to complete his work in me! (i would have given up by now!-;) ) With much love - praying for you to be safe, and have plenty of power for scones and pumpkin spice coffee!! xoxox

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    1. Hi Susie,
      Thank you for your prayers -- feeling very grateful to have made it though without even losing power! I did buy a very large thermal pitcher that guaranteed keeping coffee hot for 24 hours. I made coffee at 4:30 am and can you believe it really works? Piping hot 12 hours later! :) So grateful for your thoughts and prayers! xoxoxo

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  12. Valerie. I was very encouraged reading this. Especially this : I feel like a work in progress too, but it's hard to see sometimes that I'm part of a bigger story of how God works in all of us. Yet I know what stretches me is what is at work in me.
    That last line really gets me!!

    Followed by the second verse about the clay. I've been marred too and now im wondering what pot will God now make ?
    Thank you for these words and I sure hope you are ok!!

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    1. Hi Somer,
      We works in progress get discouraged sometimes, don't we?! I'm glad we're in this together! And yes, I made it through the storm just fine and I'm so grateful! xo

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  13. Valerie, in your own lovely way of writing, you have summed up one of key beliefs that keep me grounded and going in life: "The canvas isn't finished. We are a work in progress, in the hands of God, shaped for his purposes." Amen, my friend. Amen.

    (I'm so glad to read that you made it through the storm OK.)

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    1. Hi Lois,
      I'm so grateful to know you -- I respect your writing abilities so much! And yes, I'm so grateful that the storm stayed a little to the east, sparing us from the worst of the winds!

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