The Hard Work of Our Art

I'm not sure which of the two I'm looking forward to seeing more -- Orlando's new performing arts center or the ballet Coppelia, about a magical dancing doll. 

Thanks to my friend Marilyn who graciously offered me her tickets to the ballet, it’s a night out for the girls in my family to celebrate my mother’s birthday and for my eight-year-old niece Devon to see her first ballet.

While we wait for the curtain to rise, my mother and sister say they don’t really recall the difficult seven-year project that made this building a reality. 

But I remember it since my office is nearby and I often drove by the construction zone, watching the slow progress.

I remind them that a church was originally standing where we're now sitting. The church had to agree to move across the street. Then the church’s building had to be demolished. Next, the city built the church a new building. And finally the new performing arts center could rise from the rubble.

There were plenty of delays, setbacks and funding problems along the way.

I don’t know about you but I’m often dazzled by what seems like sudden success, terrific talent or amazing art. 

I celebrate the fabulous finished product, marvelous opening night performance or splendid gallery of work.

But often, things aren’t quite what they seem.

I’m not clued in to the Saturdays spent practicing, the days of discipline and the years of training that are the backbone, holding up what’s on center stage. I don't see the falls and failures, brick walls and dead ends, flops and disappointments. 

Lately, what’s been capturing my attention are websites of artful ideas turned into blooming businesses, blogs with insightful writing and thousands of readers, and inspired creatives leaving corporate jobs to pursue their lifelong dreams. 

Maybe you’re thinking {like I am} that you couldn’t be farther from some of the things you really want to do, and you're not even sure how to get there. 

Your mind tells you it’s unfeasible, you’re not capable, and everything’s impossible anyway, so why not just get back to your normal life and leave your hopes in the dust so you can have some peace from these thoughts?

{Is that just the voice inside my head or do you hear it too?}

Sometimes I think this place in our hearts and our minds is where the fight happens for our dreams and maybe, for our lives. 

This weekend I read the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. {It is an inspiring little book and well worth the read.}

Nehemiah spent years working a corporate job as the king’s cupbearer when God planted a dream in his heart to rebuild the demolished wall in Jerusalem. He would need all of that experience for his new roles of engineer, architect, organizer and cheerleader for this arduous task. 

The opposition was great as his plans were mocked and his work was criticized. But he refused to become discouraged because his dream was bigger than he was. It wasn't about him. 

It was about the history that God was writing for his people.

And it's my history he's writing too. 

But when I feel like I do it all wrong, mess up opportunities, and my dreams seem ruined, I wonder how much God is really involved. I want to give up, I lose heart and I grow tired of persevering. 

This is the fight in the dark, without the glow of the stage lights, to keep my faith, to stand, to hold on.

But just because I can't see him through the shadows, doesn't mean God isn't there, behind the scenes of my life, hearing me call out to him and working out his purposes for me. 

I have decided to anchor this truth in the deepest part of my heart: "All of my life in every season you are still God."

Because things can look quite different when the stage is set, the dancers take their places, the lights come up and the curtain rises on all that God wants to showcase in our lives.

As the ballet ended and we walked out in front of the performing arts center lighting up the night sky, I remembered Devon’s words before the evening started.

We’d gathered at my sister’s for a quick pasta dinner. 

Devon, so excited about her first ballet, picked up a glass from the table and held it high. “Let’s toast to our night at the ballet,” she said. 

We clinked our glasses and I thought, isn't that what it’s all about? 

Dreams emerging from the rubble, faith to show us the way, and the art of telling our beautiful stories.

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Click the image to read more posts!


  1. I have been meaning to check out the new performing arts center, looks beautiful! Looks like you all had a blast!

    1. Brittany,
      It is definitely a work of art! I had no idea it would be so stunning!

  2. Wow! The building is gorgeous!! I'm so glad I stopped in and read your words because they definitely resonated. I found myself nodding my head in agreement as I was reading. Dreams can feel so elusive can't they? It's good to remind ourselves, "God is in control," especially on the hard days.

    1. Alecia,
      So glad to see you here again! :) I think trust is a big part of our dreams -- trusting them to the only one who can make them come true -- God -- and that is definitely not always easy! Grateful for your sweet words here!

  3. What a beautiful place!! And I love your "you are still God" print!!! You and I are just two kindred spirits under construction I think! I saw a preacher on tv a few months ago talking about how demons hang around open doors-- so if there's a door God's beckoning you to come through you'd better believe the devil will throw everything he can at you to keep you from crossing over. Keep your eyes on God friend and we will see his plans fulfilled in our lives sooner or later I just know it! ♥ ♥ Have a wonderful Wednesday!

    1. Heather,
      Love that -- we are kindred spirits under construction!! Knowing that God always has something new for us keeps me moving forward in faith, although it's so hard at times!

  4. Valerie- I love the ballet and wanted to be a ballet dancer for a while- :) so I love this post and your pictures of the ballet shoes-I love what you write about here too- We sing the song- In every season, you are still God at church - again one of my favorites :) This is so good. I feel like this often. I can get easily discouraged and want to give up. Thanks for this reminder too-" But just because I can't see him through the shadows, doesn't mean God isn't there, behind the scenes of my life, hearing me call out to him and working out his purposes for me. " This gives me hope and helps me press on trusting the results to him.I am finding sometimes its in the dark He shows himself to me and helps me see He is enough and He is my prize, and that what I am working so hard for really pales in comparison - As always I so enjoy and look forward to visiting here- Such a peaceful place full of beauty and wisdom- thank you for sharing! with much love

    1. Susie,
      I dearly wanted to be a ballerina too, but it was obvious that I didn't have much coordination but that didn't stop me from dreaming! I found the ballet shoes in a vintage shop and snapped them up -- I adore them! Your words are so beautifully encouraging to me -- thanks for always sending love my way, friend!

  5. Thank you so much for the reminder -- God is still God, in every season. Sometimes the hard times catch me off guard, or make me wonder whether there reply is a plan. I never can foresee how it will look until I get to the other side and everything comes together. Thank you for that beautiful reminder.

    1. Christy,
      It's so much more difficult to remember it during the hard times yet I think that's when it takes more faith and is much more impactful to our relationship with God!

  6. It sounds like you had an amazing time! Yes, I get upset with myself but all the detours and times of waiting lead me to where God has prepared for me to be.

    1. Sarah,
      The ballet is always a delight and watching Devon at her first one was so fun! Detours and delays are so hard, especially when we wonder if we brought them on through our own actions but ultimately God is sovereign -- I believe this!

  7. God blessed me through your blog! I loved the "Gallery" page with inspiring quotes. I used to be in a hurry and have been learning more and more that His timing is perfect and peaceful. May the Lord bless you and through you.

    1. Hi Amber,
      Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm so glad you enjoyed the shareables -- so fun to put them together and play with fonts! So grateful for your kind words!

  8. Thanks Valerie. Your words were just what I needed to read today.

    1. Debbie,
      Always grateful for your visits and sweet words here, old friend! :)

  9. "Just because you can't see him, doesn't mean he is not there". My friend.. I think that is called faith. Faith in things unseen. Valerie you just made me smile with this post. it reminds me of a sermon I heard so long ago, when i was little, but of course I still remember it. Thanks for the smile today girl... and thanks for the future smiles as well :).

    K / House of KTS (formerly of Pure & Complex)

    1. Kay,
      Yes! Your words of truth are beautiful -- faith in things unseen -- how timely these words are to me today, friend! I'm glad this post reminded you of a sermon from your childhood days -- I love it that you remembered it! :)


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