www.meganjoychapman.com

Author of Lion Heart & Alessio: The Victory Ride Series

Love Came Down – My Valentine’s Day Rescue Story

Mixed Media Art, Love Came Down, Megan Joy Chapman

“Love Came Down” Mixed Media Art by Megan Joy Chapman – Canvas, Acrylic, Paper, Ink, Metal

It was two weeks before Valentines Day. Other than an occasional crow from a rooster and some chirping birds that morning, the room was quiet when i sat down to read my Bible. Chap had already left for work and i was alone. Well, i thought i was.

As i opened to my daily reading, i’d love to say i was full of joy ready to seize the day with exuberance – but that would be a big fat lie.  The truth is, i was completely discouraged.  I’d been through a long season of disappointments, including some stressful circumstances, and i was desperate to grab hold of just a crumb of refreshment. I wondered when God might fly down to rescue me and lift me out of my pit.

Although i’m fully aware and thankful for my many blessings, the negative feelings consuming me were not lining up with what i know is true – I know God is always good and i know He always comes through for me. So all i can do in these long seasons is pray, and wait patiently for Him to act.

So there i am, about to read my first sentence, when the TV turns on and startles me. A scripture from Romans 7 appears on the screen. I look across the room and see the clicker sitting on the coffee table. As far as i can see, i’m still alone.

Then, Dr. Sumrall (i think that’s his name) comes on the screen. He’s in the middle of teaching a sermon. I’m perplexed but invigorated. What just happened? I only pick up pieces of what he’s saying because i keep looking over at the lonely clicker. I squint my eyes thinking it will help me see the invisible angel i assume is standing there.

Dr. Sumrall beckons my attention. “I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind . . . Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The words strike me and i suddenly don’t feel so alone. I close my Bible and listen to the TV.

“For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are God’s children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”

The words are familiar but i’m hearing them differently than ever before.

“. . . we must wait patiently and confidently.”

The sermon ends and it goes to commercial. Tears stream down my cheeks as i turn it off. I’m feeling comforted now, because i’m reminded that God always sees me. He knows me. And He loves me. I’m certain He wants to speak to my currant situation through Romans 7 and 8, so i grab my Bible and quickly go there.

Since he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? . . . for Christ died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us . . . Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? . . . No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us . . .

I take a deep breath. I’m amazed by God’s faithfulness. I close my Bible and look up. On the wall in front of me is a painting i created two years ago, Love Came Down. I reread the lyrics printed on the canvas and smile. Then i thank God for rescuing me once again.

Love Came Down – Kari Jobe – Listen Here

If my heart is overwhelmed
And I cannot hear your voice
I hold on to what is true
Though I cannot see

If the storms of life they come
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith
I will believe

I’ll remind myself
Of all that you’ve done
And the life I have
Because of your son

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am yours
Lord I’m forever yours
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am yours
I am forever yours
When my heart is filled with hope
Every promise comes my way
When I feel your hands of grace
Rest upon me
Staying desperate for you, god
Staying humble at your feet
I will lift these hands in praise
I will believe
I’ll remind myself
Of all that you’ve done
And the life I have
Because of your son
Love

Choosing Thankfulness No Matter What

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. – PSALM 23:5

I love how God set up our Thanksgiving holiday to fall just before Christmastime and then the New Year. It paints an amazing picture of Redemption. A heart of thankfulness to God yields blessings and gifts, which in turn brings new life where the old passes away and the new is born.

Before I became a Christian I was far from thankful. I was blind to God’s sovereignty and what He had in store for my future. As I grew to know Him better, I became more and more thankful because I saw Him moving in my life and in the lives around me. I began to recognize His beauty in creation whenever I gazed at the stars or watched the sun set over the ocean. I saw Him everywhere!

I even had a specific word prayed over me after church one Sunday— that I’d become an abundantly thankful woman—I would be so thankful that I’d even thank God for my toaster. I found it hard to be thankful at that time in my life because I was suffering through several trials at once— including health, marriage, and financial stress. But regardless I received the prayer, and that week I chose to be thankful—even for my toaster. Guess what happened? My toaster broke. Then my washing machine. And yes, even my car. All that same week!

The old ungrateful me would have spiraled into a pit. But instead, I called my friend who had prayed and told her what happened. She laughed. Not because she’s mean. She just wasn’t surprised. Long story short she basically said, “There’s a good guy and there’s a bad guy. When we believe the good guy and do what He says, the bad guy gets mad.” She told me to keep being thankful no matter what.

It didn’t happen overnight, but as I continued to choose thankfulness (even when I didn’t feel thankful) or when I declared Gods goodness (no matter what my circumstances looked like) eventually I saw blessings and gifts pour into my life and overflow into other people’s lives. The Lord honored my faith by granting me more faith and more joy. And He continues to make me new, day by day, as I trust in Him.

If you’re in a tough season where thankfulness is the last thing you feel like doing, do it anyways. God is preparing a feast for you in the presence of your enemies. Christmas will come. And a new season of fresh hope will soon fill your cup.

Thankfulness, Thankful, Lychee Wood Sign, Megan Joy Chapman, mixed media art

Rustic Lychee Wood Sign, Hand-Carved, Acrylic Paint- by Megan Joy Chapman

King’s Faith, A Good Christian Movie

Kings Faith, Faith-based, Christian, Family-friendly, MovieIf you’re on the hunt for a good, family-friendly movie this holiday season, check out King’s Faith. Chap (my husband) and I watched it the other night and equally enjoyed it.

Finding solid, Christian flicks we both like is always a bonus. We thought the content in King’s Faith was entertaining and inspiring— and thought provoking enough to keep teenagers interested.

The movie is about an eighteen year-old foster kid, Brendan King, who is trying to break free from his shady past. Sent to prison at fifteen, he starts reading the Bible and gives his life to Jesus. Paroled at eighteen, he is placed in a Christian foster home and is determined to live a life of faith. But when his former gang shows up, threatening him and the people he loves, Brendan’s faith is put to the test. Will he trust God no matter what challenges face him, or will he give up and go back to his roots?

Learn more about King’s Faith at: www.kingsfaith.com

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Suzanne Field, Author of “The Painted Table” Novel

The Painted Table Novel

I am so excited to introduce Suzanne Field, my first guest artist to be interviewed on my blog! Suzanne and I met many moons ago in Kona in a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) writers group at The University of the Nations. I remember hearing bits and pieces of “The Painted Table” in our group and was so intrigued by her eloquent writing.

She never read her book to us in order, so when it was published, I couldn’t wait to read it in its entirety…I have to wonder if she did that intentionally. And I always loved how she stood up to read her work. She was the only one in the group who did this. When it was her turn to read, she’d shoot up out of her chair, somewhat awkwardly, and then stand properly poised with her pages held in front of her with both hands. She said standing up helped her “project.” For some reason it always made me laugh. But in a good way.

After spending several Wednesday mornings together, Suzanne became one of my biggest encouragers of LH&A. She has always offered me such useful feedback and has become one of my favorite editors on the project.

I’m so thankful to have learned more about Suzanne through this candid interview. She takes us behind the scenes of her novel “The Painted Table” and shares how living with a mentally ill mother has helped fuel her passion to create. By choosing to “honor her mother by not becoming her,” Suzanne inspires readers to overcome pain by embracing Gods goodness.

My Interview with Suzanne Field, Author of “The Painted Table.”

1. What were some early influences in your life?
Movies. Early on, movies became more than my entertainment. They were often teaching tools and attitude molders – for better or worse. I was in the third grade when my parents took me to my first movie, The Wizard of Oz.  Having never even seen television (most people hadn’t in the 1940s), I was spellbound by pictures flashing across the screen. Then the black-and-white of Kansas morphed into colorful Oz, and I was simply awestruck! Similarly, when during the following year I heard the gospel message and accepted Jesus as my Savior, my young life shifted from drab to include splashes of color. From that time on, I have found joy in God’s creation vividly blooming all around me. I delight in microcosmic miracles and marvel at His handiwork throughout the universe.

2. Has this led to development of your own creativity?
Curiously, in the visual arts, it did not seem to, and I confess some disappointment about that. It seems I was made to be “an appreciator.” Twice as an adult I tried my hand at painting classes and twice crumpled up my sorry attempts in front of my teachers. They were shocked and disapproving, but on both occasions the action gave me relief. It seemed foolish for me to even attempt to create when God already made everything so perfectly and completely. Of course, I greatly admire artists who are truly talented, and that prompted me to minor in art history in college.

With piano lessons, I persevered longer. It was years in fact until I admitted defeat. My greatest desire would have been to be an accomplished musician. With no natural gifting, the struggle to learn just didn’t seem worth it. I’m hoping that in heaven this desire will flourish into results.

3. Did your family have artistic talent?
No. But my mother also was an appreciator. Our home was filled with two things: pain and music. Pain because of my mother’s mental decline, and music because she loved anything classical, and also dance. Her prized record player, which I was never allowed to touch, schooled me in the great composers of symphony and opera. She also loved Hungarian dance music and operettas. I was not familiar with popular music until I went to college. It wasn’t that I was a snob, but I’m afraid I found music of the day embarrassing.

4. What music do you like now?
Now, I love that once-scorned ‘50s music! In addition, my iPod carries a vast ever-shuffling mix from Pavarotti’s tear-jerking “Nessun Dorma” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” to Christian groups like Casting Crowns. I enjoy Iz  Kamakawiwo’ole, and my newest find, The Rough Riders. My mood slides from one style to another. Let me hear the overture to “Barber of Seville” and, if no one is around, I dance, literally dance, just like my mother did. Funny, I found her mortifying, but when I dance, I float on air.

5. Can you tell us more about the pain you mentioned?
It is one of the themes of my book, The Painted Table, which is thinly disguised as fiction. Daughter Saffee reaps what is sown into her—both joy and pain. She chooses to glean goodness from her rightful legacy of music, art, literature, etc., and consciously turns away from the hurt and humiliation infecting her home. My hope is that readers who are burdened by any number of unfortunate childhood memories, perhaps much more serious than mine, will find encouragement to cast off pain and retain that which is good. God cares about the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual prisons of childhood. He has remedy. He helps us cast off junk and, in turn, sow good things. I like to think that this is what I have been able to do.

6. Did you actually find catharsis stripping paint off a table like Saffee does?
Well, a few things have to remain secret. But remember, it is a novel.

7. Did your love of writing come from your mother?
Yes. She wrote quite a lot. She loved poetry and much of her own work was in rhyme. Her stories were  poetic in style and often humorous. Now I find that a bit odd.

8. Why?
Because the atmosphere in our home was not funny. We walked on eggshells so as not to “make your mother nervous,” as my dad would say.  I find it interesting that now of all writing styles, I would like to write comedy. The feeling I like best comes with those rare times when something strikes me as side-splitting funny and laughter squirts tears from my eyes.

9. What makes you laugh like that?
The movie What About Bob makes me laugh until I hurt, even though I’ve seen it many times. I guess that’s a little odd, given my family background, and since the movie is a spoof on psychiatric disorder and care.

10. It seems that mental disorder and its treatment is in the public consciousness more today than before. How does The Painted Table fit into the current scene?
Family members of the mentally ill suffer in unique ways. They often deal with guilt, shame, and unforgiveness. I would like readers to see that The Painted Table is a story that gives hope. My aim was to portray that, for the Christian, our legacy as a child of God is more significant than our biological legacy. As part of God’s family, we can be overcomers through Jesus Christ. With Him we can rise above negatives. We can flourish because He is faithful to show us how. He works uniquely in our messes. And if He asks you to strip paint off an old table, it’s best to do it.

11. You began your writing career at a mature age. Do you consider this an advantage or disadvantage?
Probably an advantage. I would guess that younger writers are more attuned to the present moment and might be less interested in heritage. The Painted Table taps into four generations. I took the opportunity to trace, or at least hint at, the passing on of familial spiritual roots—the godly and the ungodly.

12. What are you writing now?
Short stories. I have twelve diverse stories about ready for publication. A few are gleaned from my own experience, some are entirely fiction. I consider a couple to be quite funny. Not side-splitting, just a bit droll. In most of them I have tried to write in a somewhat obscure way—an attempt to prompt the reader to speculate what is really going on. This has made the writing fun.

Also, my mother’s love of great art is probably responsible for the seeds of another book growing within me. Its setting is an art gallery.

13. What books have you read lately?
Every day I read in Timothy Keller’s inspiring devotional, The Songs of Jesus. Lately I was fascinated by the post-Civil War attitudes of blacks and whites in The Known World, by Edward P. Jones and also Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns. Right now I’m persevering Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.

Suzanne Field, Author of The Painted Table Novel

 

Suzanne Field, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has taught English as a Second Language in China, Ukraine, and Hawaii. She has been a magazine editor and home-school teacher. Suzanne writes to encourage others to rise above memories and embrace the goodness found in each day. She and her husband have five children and two grandchildren. They divide their time between Dallas and Hawaii where she is a tutor and mentor.

Buy “The Painted Table”

Creative Arts Blog

Haley Henderson | Christian Ballerina

professional ballerina, haley henderson

In the following BibleWise blog interview, professional ballerina Haley Henderson expresses how her faith helps her overcome the pressures of today’s dance world.

As a dancer myself, I have dealt with many of the stereotypical struggles that are so often seen in the arts—perfectionism, jealousy, and just about every insecurity known to man. But now a Christian, I can relate to Haley’s journey on how to be victorious in the battle.

It is so refreshing to read about this humble, confident woman who has chosen to go against the grain in this selfie generation. By taking the focus off herself, she has become a ready vessel in His masterpiece, able to carry out His plan by using her gifts and talents to honor Him.

Well done, Haley. You are a superhero.

Read Haley Henderson’s Interview on BibleWise

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