Live and Learn

In my exuberance to refresh my decor and donate things I no longer want to a resale shop, I somehow got rid of a thrift store painting my mother is convinced was a masterpiece.

She came over recently to check out my decorating changes and when I proudly showed her the new pictures I’d hung in the guest powder room, she looked alarmed.

“What happened to the painting I gave you that was in here?” she asked.

That strange painting in shades of muddy silver, red and purple that looked like black squares painted over a vase of roses sitting on a table? 

I told her I sent it to the resale shop. 

“What? How could you give it away without telling me first?” she said. “I found that in a thrift store and I just know it was SOMETHING. Like a Picasso.”

I protested that it looked like it was painted by an amateur art student, but she claimed that it was in the Cubist style, very much akin to a Picasso.

Although I have several paintings from thrift stores around my house, I could never decide if I found that painting interesting or just plain weird. {I don’t even have a photo of it since I never really liked it.} 

And I had no idea she loved it.

“I guess I’m going to have to buy it AGAIN,” she told me. 

The next day I got a call from my sister. I told her she wouldn’t believe how upset our mother was about the painting.

“Oh, I know,” she said. “She called me last night and I’m on my way to the resale shop now to see if it’s still there.”

I anxiously waited for word from my sister, but she said no, the painting was gone. 

I knew there was a valuable lesson there somewhere but I wasn’t sure exactly what. Never throw anything out? Check with my mother before redecorating? Or don’t tell my mother what I'm giving away and hope she doesn't notice?

Fortunately, the section “Lessons Learned” in the new book, The Beauty of Grace by Dawn Camp is a little more straightforward. 

This book is like having your favorite blog posts by many of today’s popular writers — Holley Gerth, Ann Voskamp, Bonnie Gray and Emily P. Freeman — gathered all in one place. And you don’t even have to search the blog archives for them.

This collection of inspirational stories are grouped under the sections of purpose, the big picture, surrender, trust, lessons learned, hope and encouragement, and worship, and are accompanied by Dawn Camp’s photography of nature scenes.

These writers share that the life lessons they learned were much different than they would have thought or expected when God captured their attention. And it gave them an entirely new perspective.

Some of the lessons I’m learning recently feel more like unlearning. 

For a long time I’ve let my heart listen to what the voices of doubt stirred up in my mind. I decided that what they said was true and I started living as if they were true, too. 

I started thinking -- and acting -- as if I couldn’t do this  or I wasn’t made for that. Or I wasn't capable of doing this and I just wasn't meant to be that.

Whatever those things in my life were, I let my long-held assumptions stop me cold and plant my feet in cement. I believed a narrative about myself that just wasn't true.

Maybe you have too?

So I’m relearning some lessons, and I'm writing questions for myself {and you can use them too, if you'd like}. 

What if I let God show me a new way to do those parts of my life that I thought were lacking or flawed or broken or weak?

What if I settled myself at the feet of the wisest teacher and let myself be schooled by God himself?

What if I learned by heart to do the things my mind has long believed I couldn’t do?

What if my heart started telling my mind a new story? And what if I really started to believe this new narrative?

I’m not a quick study but God has my rapt attention. 

It's taken some time but I’m becoming enthralled with his words and I’m absorbing his way of thinking. 

And I've been stunned at my assignments. 

These lessons have been learned over days and weeks and now years of considering him as if I’d just been introduced to him. 

And I'm quite sure there's always more of him to know.

My mother was at my house last weekend so I showed her the stack of pictures I was thinking of taking to the resale shop. I asked her if she wanted any of them.

“Why would I want any of those?” she asked me. “They’re nothing like the Picasso I gave you.”

I'm sure someone somewhere in Orlando is marveling over the amazing masterpiece she bought for a song at a thrift store. 

And I guess I'll never know for sure but maybe this lesson learned is that mothers really do know best.

I’m part of Revell publisher’s blogger review tour for The Beauty of Grace by Dawn Camp. I received a complimentary copy of the book, but my opinions are completely my own.

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me there for more encouraging words!


  1. Replies
    1. Brittany,
      As much as we talk about them, they certainly are! :)

  2. A lovely encouragement here this morning. I needed a bit of fresh air and found it here. Thanks for the gentle breezes, Valerie.

    1. Linda,
      Your encouragement is the best! Thank you for your sweet words this morning!

  3. I am a near-neighbor at Holley's and glad for that. You have made me smile and question some of my resale giveaways and then thought about my precious mother who has been with the Lord for just barely two years now. I miss her so. Even in those tough moments of "mother knows best" I loved her so and grew to love her even more through God's love and the 15 years of caregiving for her. I am so glad I came by for you have also given me a new book to find!
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  4. With encouraging words, you have made me think about the many giveaways I have done and come to regret it later, not only for a motherly reason, but for some memory evoked by the "thing." But more than that, I have been reminded of the preciousness of mothers and how I am missing mine. She went to be with the Lord just two years ago so have been thinking about her alot due to the anniversary of her homegoing. I loved her dearly but grew to love her through the 15 years of caregiving. Precious in the sight of the Lord.
    You have also reminded me of this book which I thought I might want but did not write it down before. Thanks.
    Visiting from Holley's.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    1. Linda,
      So glad you stopped by and shared your memories of your mother! I think you'll find the book filled with inspiring gems and I encourage you to check it out! :)

  5. Oh oh oh I want to read stories by wonderful women! That sounds awesome!
    And yes, Valerie, don't you know by now to always listen to your mother and consult her on every move? Amateur move. :)
    As always, I love how you link your pictures and life into your God story. Your words are so relatable, yet still you. Keep it up!

    1. Sarah,
      haha! Yes it was an amateur move on my part not to consult her! And I hope you get the book -- I know you will enjoy it! :)

  6. Oh this made me smile! Mamas are the same wherever we go :). I also absolutely love the porch picture. But mostly I loved some of your questions, especially this one: What if your heart started telling your mind a new story? That's some good food for thought and inspiration! Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,
      Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you liked the porch photo (it's from St. Augustine) but I'm so grateful for your encouragement!

  7. Valerie- I love this again- You always have such wonderful thoughts to share- I love the questions you asked and I am thinking of pondering them in my journal this week- Thank you for this refreshing post and for giving me hope that God has more to write, and new things to write, into my story- !

    1. Susie,
      Yes! We have to believe that God always has more to write of our stories! Thanks so much for your encouragement!

  8. Ahhh! You're painting story made me laugh so much! : ) I can only imagine what it looked like..! I have to admit I do the "take it to Goodwill and hope she doesn't notice" sometimes....! I love your painting with the candle and vase of flowers! I think it's the turquoise that gets me! How did I miss this book? I love so many of those gal's blogs. Thanks for sharing your questions too girl!! I'm off to settle in with my bible and ask myself the same things ♥ Happy Friday Valerie!

    1. Heather,
      Thanks so much for admiring my paintings -- I do love the turquoise one too! And yes, I'm sure you will like the book -- and I'm so glad the questions struck a chord with you too, friend! :)


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