Pause Buttons…

“Morning Light in Tranjska Gora,” ©2018 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

©2018 Lynn Abbott

“Climb every mountain/Ford every stream/Follow every rainbow/’Til you find your dream…” (Rogers and Hammerstein).

I played it again and again.  So often, in fact, that I scratched the LP. Nevertheless, my 8-year-old self continued to belt out the chorus.

Press the Pause Button.

During a recent professional interview, someone asked me, “How did you get your start as an artist?”

Obviously, for some, it appears I’m living the dream.

I paused… uncertain how to answer the question.

Pause… Yeah, that about describes the majority of my journey.  In fact, looking back, the pause button truly played a significant role in my life.

And for a time, I believed the melody had ceased; indeed, it seemed the music had been replaced by the cacophony of necessity…every day living.

Maybe, you can relate.  You had dreams as a young person.  It seemed you started well.  And then, life took over.

Soon you found yourself chasing the pragmatic. Or even, abandoning your dreams for the sake of others.  Or it could be that someone or something actually stood in opposition to your dream.

Quite honestly, my story is a bit of a mixture. And as I considered the question asked of me, a rush of memory carried me back to my teens.

I have always loved art. I come from a family of artists, and I’d spent my life up to that point writing and illustrating stories for friends.  I’d even won awards in school for my creations.

You had dreams as a young person.  And then, life took over.

However, one afternoon after some plein air sketching in art class, our art teacher mentioned that the school newspaper needed a new logo design.  My best friend, who also loved art, immediately volunteered.

Although I rejoiced for her, I felt disappointed because I knew I did not wish to compete with her for the honor of designing that logo.

After all, she was my best friend. We had weathered many middle-school  and early high school storms together.  And I didn’t wish to hurt our friendship in any way.

When I arrived home that afternoon, I immediately sought my Dad’s perspective.   My father listened quietly as I poured out my heart, and empathized with my disappointment.

And then, he quietly suggested that, after all, creating art might not be the most practical of choices for my future life. He gently noted that in light of my long-term financial success, perhaps, the day’s events might not be as disappointing as they first appeared.

His words resonated.

That day, I made a conscious decision to pursue writing, more specifically journalism.  It certainly seemed the more pragmatic choice at the time. And although I continued to draw and paint as a hobbyist, I abandoned the idea of art as a career.

For me, that art adventure was over. Press “stop.”  Hit the “eject” button. Put that dream on the shelf.

Despite my passion for art and my initial foundation work,  I chose not to build any further.  The foundation sat.

I did not plan to climb that mountain. The obstacles were too great. The doors swung shut. And obviously relationships complicated and even prohibited the pursuit of my artistic dreams.

Or so I thought.

But God …

Isn’t that the way the best stories begin?

“But God…”

I think  Ezra would agree. When God calls, that calling is for all time even when it seems the work has been put on hold or completely abandoned.

As the book of Ezra opens, we find the nation in captivity.  Yet, God had made a promise through the prophet Jeremiah that the Israelites would return to the land.  King Cyrus under whom Daniel served, had evidently come to a knowledge of Yahweh through Daniel.

For me, that adventure was over. Press “stop.” Put that dream on the shelf.

And just as Jeremiah had prophesied, Cyrus decreed that God’s people should not only return to Israel but they should also rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1,2).   This was God’s plan, God’s call.

God had preordained that Cyrus should be king and that Cyrus would spearhead the rebuilding of God’s temple:  artistry and practicality joined to glorify God.

Zerubbabel led the first group back to begin the work and Ezra followed later.  But the most important thing to note is that the people and their leaders embraced both their God-given task and God’s leading through His Word.

Even so, they faced road-blocks.  First,  adversaries attempted to infiltrate the camp.  They came to deceive and destroy the work.  Or as Shakespeare once wrote, “One may smile and smile and be a villain,” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene v).

Yeah, the enemy works subtly.  Although he has lost the battle for a believer’s soul, he nevertheless seeks to prevent the child of God from fulfilling God’s purpose. 

And so a host of fiery darts pepper our lives: doubt, discouragement, fear, and a variety of distractions …some even disguised as “good things.”

Yet, because Zerubbabel and the people immersed themselves in God’s Word, they recognized the enemy’s deception and remained true to God’s call.  The people built the temple’s foundation.

Although their indirect opposition failed, Israel’s enemies did not stop their efforts to stop God’s work.  They simply waited for a more opportune time.

When Artaxerxes ascended the Persian throne, they seized the moment, and persuaded the new king that a rebuilt temple in Israel posed a threat.  And Artaxerxes did not conduct a thorough examination.

Instead, he dug just deep enough to find evidence that supported Israel’s opponents and thus, followed their advice to issue a decree that all building cease.

What a disappointment for the Israeli people who had given up their big city security in order to return to a land now overrun by outlaws!

The dream of a rebuilt temple shattered.  It seemed the symphony had sputtered and died.   For years, the building remained incomplete.

“But God …” Isn’t that the way the best stories begin?

The pause…

For many, it’s reality. It happens.

But what I love about Ezra’s book is that it offers hope for all who wish to pursue God’s great purposes!

Perhaps, God has given you a dream.

Maybe, it seemed clear that God had called you to fulfill a task.  In faith and dependence upon Him, you began building.

However, events or obstacles required that the work stop.  And now you wonder, “Did I truly hear God’s call?  Will I ever see the work completed?”

Rest assured: God does not forget His people.  As the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:13, “He is faithful even when we are faithless.”

Enter the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.  God used both to encourage the people to return to the temple project, (Ezra 5:1-11).

And this time, when enemies tried to derail the project, the leaders were prepared with an answer:  years before, Cyrus had decreed the temple be rebuilt.  And the laws of the Medes and Persians were unalterable.

Israel’s legal claim was confirmed and the work began again.  It wasn’t easy.  Things didn’t always go smoothly.  In fact, they had come to a prolonged standstill.

But God…

Yes, He had a plan.  And no one can ultimately prevent God from fulfilling His purposes, (Psalm 45:6; Psalm 56:3-4).

And so it has proven true for me.  Discouraged and doubting, I walked away from art.

Yet, God did not abandon His plans for me.  Although I had given up, He hadn’t completed His work in or through me.

In fact, He used all of my life experience, even those so-called “stalled” years, to further prepare me for my calling.

When the time was right, He brought me back to that abandoned building project…

That’s right. My heavenly Father used other believers to encourage me.  He addressed the “nay-saying” and then,  redirected my eyes.

When I turned toward the mountain I once believed too enormous to climb, God cleared the path; He swept the rubble from the building’s foundation.

God had a plan.  And no one can ultimately prevent God from fulfilling His purposes.

He placed me at my preordained post.

Press Play…

Farewell, “Pause Button.”  I’m climbing the mountain.

And despite the years that passed between my dream and its realization, my paintbrush has found a way to dance across canvas ground.  I’ve found hope and joy in once abandoned gifts.

You betcha. Ezra and I are proof that it’s never too late to begin.

Without a doubt, God has a plan for each of us as well as for His people.

Thus, you and I place our trust Abba. We look to Him to multiply our mustard seed faith, and to move mountains.

And as we move forward, embracing Abba’s purpose for us, we declare with Job, “‘I know that Thou canst do all things, And that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted,'” (Job 42:2).

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps,” ~Proverbs 16:9

“Then, he answered and said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, by by My Spirit’ says the LORD of hosts.”

132 Replies to “Pause Buttons…”

  1. I’m thankful that the Lord seasons us through our seasons of life. The good and bad, The scars and trophies.. Thank You for your encouragement, and for sharing personally Lynn. You have been given the ability to share deep perspectives in word and paint well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Kathy! That means the world to me! And you are absolutely right! Pressing “pause” is a losing battle when God is in the “call.” 😉 I’m just so grateful that my heavenly Father brought me back to the easel! Love you! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Lynn, once again, beautiful painting! And you, my sister, are not only an author and painter, you are also a teacher at heart! You are gifted in communication Lynn! May you be blessed many times over as you continue to serve the One who gifted you!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aww… thank you, Jeff! I do love teaching, and love to use any media I can to do that. I pray God uses my “fish” and “bread” (ie ink and image) to accomplish His purposes! I would be utterly grateful if He would choose my simple offering. Thank you so very much for your encouragement, my brother! You are not only an exceptional writer and story-teller, but you also have the gift of encouragement. And I’m so incredibly blessed to know you! God bless you big time! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Love The Sound of Music! It’s an amazing film, isn’t it? Definitely one of my faves, too! And thank you for your very kind words, dear Denise! I’m just so thankful that I was able to pursue my dream after all! ❤ and huge hugs to you!!

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      1. HA! You are SO Sweet dear Lynn! Just love you! 🙂 To be honest, I don’t have any particular dreams..I feel like I am living a dream with my family and home and being “retired” when I don’t have to work for the “man” anymore..what more could I ask for? 😉

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    1. Hello, Beverly! I’m so delighted that you left a comment here! Thank you with all my heart! It means the world to me that the devotions resonate with you, and that you are reading them regularly! Your kind comment has encouraged me greatly today. God bless you big time! ❤ ❤

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  3. Lynn…..
    Blessed Tuesday to you friend. Yes, our GOD is so good. I loved your song quote……we sang that at our High School graduation. Let us be confident in all of GOD’S promises……notice the “I WILL” statements……circle them, highlight or underline. We have a big GOD full of BIG PROMISES. Praise HIM today! Thanks for this wonderful post about pausing.

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  4. I love “but God” seasons! And God gets all the glory because you know beyond a shadow that it was more than your desire…it was His plan, which is always better. 💖

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    1. Famous? Ha! Infamous, probably. 😉 But I am making a career of being a fine artist… and that is truly a blessing from God! Love you much, dear Julie! When are you going to join me and start your fine art career? 🙂 😀 ❤ ❤ and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’ve got the gift Lynn— and that is clearly evident— love seeing the Creator of all that was, is and will be creating through the vehicle of His Created — and what a marvelous vehicle you are ☺️

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      2. You are such a kind and truly wonderful friend, dear Jules! When we finally see each other in person, I’m going to give you the hugest of hugs!! I am so honored to call myself your friend. You are so talented in so many areas. Your writing and wisdom never cease to amaze me! Love and huge hugs!! ❤ ❤

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  5. This is so encouraging, Lynn. I do identify in many ways with what you shared here. I am no artist, though, at least not the kind with a paintbrush in my hands. But, I surely appreciate your talent. I love your paintings, and I am so glad that you pursued art, and that you have used your art talent to illustrate your writings, too. They go so well together.

    Do you always paint what you see, or do you paint what others would like?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, dear Sue! Thank you with all my heart! Yes, you are an extraordinary artist… only you “paint” in measures, harmonies and chords. And I am in awe of musical talent such as yours! As far as paintings go, I used to paint for myself and people, but I am now a career artist. Thus, I now paint for galleries. The art galleries often have a direction that they wish me to go with my work. Thank you for asking! You are very thoughtful. ❤ and hugs!!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you, Lynn. All glory to God! And thank you for answering my questions about your paintings, too. So, I learned something new today. 🙂

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      2. Thank you, dear Sue. I’ve not been home today and will be on the road again tomorrow… So, please forgive me. I won’t have a chance to answer your lovely email until sometime over the weekend. But I was absolutely delighted to hear from you! Thank you for sharing your heart with me. I truly treasure your friendship! God bless you greatly, dear Sue! ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes! My life is a mixture of dreams fulfilled and dreams set aside, and others transformed by God into something better.

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    1. I love that, Meredith! Thank you for your wisdom here! One day, you may find that those dreams set aside to be given back to you by God! And then, of course, as you say, some dreams are transformed by God into something better! I’m incredibly grateful that we follow our compassionate, loving and personal Savior! God is truly amazing! ❤ and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lynn, I am so happy to know you turned the pause button off and restarted the “play” button. You have enriched so many with your paintings and your words, not the least of which is me.
    I thank God that He gave you both of these beautiful talents!
    Blessings to you, my sweet friend!
    ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you with all my heart, dear Robbye! And I’m so happy to have met you! You do so much for all of us, and your reviews and words of encouragement on your blog and comments truly inspire, encourage and make our lives better! ❤ ❤ to you, my wonderful friend!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, Lynn your kind words have made my day, week and years to come!! Thank you so very much!! I am humbled by your kindness.
        Love to you, too sweet friend!
        Blessings~

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  8. Amen-Amein Sister in Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua Lynn!!

    GOD BLESS ALL my Devout Sisters and Brothers in Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua and my Devout Messianic Jewish Sisters and Brothers in Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua and Your Families and Friends!!

    Love ❤ Always, YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A great Message Lynn and so very True, I’m sure many have experienced the Pause Button, I’m right there now and for me it’s all about Trusting God for me to continue to Live, so everything is indeed on Hold.

    I will Post this resent update below about my Heart in the near future but I want to share it with you first Lynn.

    It was not good news when I went to Prince Charles Hospital during this week, from the Doctor who saw me there but not so from my own Doctor whom I saw the next day, he still claims my Heart is functioning OK at least for now.

    At first I was very worried and experiencing fear after being told that without Open Heart Surgery I could die without any warning at any time because of my Heart valve being dangerously faulty but than I was confused after what my own Doctor said and had doubts, will I live or not?

    Only God knows the Future, so I gave it all to Him, my doubts, my fears, all my worrying and confusion and as I shared with you Lynn on my Blog, God showed me before I went to Prince Charles through my Dog and Scooter and also with Psalm 23 which has been in my thoughts all week, that He is right there with me in this raging Storm, yes He is indeed my Umbrella, so what does tomorrow hold ? as you shared in your Message Lynn…..

    God has a plan for Anne….. And no one can ultimately prevent God from fulfilling His purposes.

    Very, Very True, yes it’s time to push the button!

    Thank you dear Lynn, Christian Love Always – Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Painting and words are a deadly combination. When I was younger, I liked drawing, but I knew it was not my calling. Writing is what I’m really good at and although I have no plans to ever publish books, I am simply happy writing stories for my friends and family and most importantly, His Word. This was an inspiring post and I love the painting. Stay blessed my friend. 💙

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    1. And God is using your writing greatly, dear Diana, to encourage and inspire others!! He truly has given you an extraordinary gift and we are all blessed by it! Thank you for your kind words. You are such a gracious and wonderful friend! ❤ and hugs!
      P.S. I bet you were a fine illustrator! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the kind words, my friend. 💙I’m happy to use the gift He has blessed me with to share with others. I used to create my own comics, but I won’t say it was fine, though! 😄Take care my friend and God bless. 💙

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      2. Oh, how wonderful! I love that you created comics! I think it would be fun if you were to create one now! I wish I could think in those terms. I so admire that talent. And what a great dimension that would add to a blog! ❤ and hugs!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I was working on one seeing that we have better technology, but I think the time has past. I’ll still try, though. Blessed weekend to you, my friend. 💙

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      4. I just don’t think I have the passion anymore. It was not wonderful as I was under the weather, but I’m thankful to be alive. 😄I trust that you had an awesome weekend! And sending warm hugs right back your way. 💙💙

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      5. And I’m thankful that you are feeling better too and that you are alive 😉 because I have had the chance to meet you and read your excellent blog!! You are truly a gem! God bless you big time!! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Thank you, Lynn. 💙I am very blessed to know you as well. Your blog has been both an enrichment and blessing in my life. God bless you greatly. 💙💙

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      7. You’re welcome, my dear friend, and thank you as well. May God continue to rain down blessings on you. 💙

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  11. Lynn,thank you for continuing to share God’s plan for your life with others. What is difficult is seeing the dreams and the talents He has given you bring forth fruit that He has not given others. If we live in gratitude for the least gifts, He will multiply them for His glory. Yours is the perfect example of waiting on Him to reveal and develop His plan, all for His glory. We pray for continued blessings from your ink and images.

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  12. Lynn, I know I will be refreshed and fueled by your beautiful words and you never disappoint. I love stepping into the scenes of your paintings. Kind of like Alice through the looking glass with a suitcase of wisdom. ❤️ Deb

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    1. Dearest Deb… you can’t even begin to imagine how much your kind words mean to me!! Whenever I begin a painting, my goal is to create something that those who view it feel they can step right into! Kinda like Mary Poppins, Burt and the children popping into Burt’s sidewalk chalk drawings. 🙂 That you should say that you “step” into the scenes of my paintings is therefore the greatest compliment that you could ever pay me! Thank you; thank you with all my heart. And thank you also for your thoughtful and gracious words about my writing… your words about my writing express exactly how I feel about your writing!! I truly look forward to your every post! Your friendship is such a gift! ❤ and hugs!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I wish I could like this a thousand times over, for it brought tears to my eyes. “No one can ultimately prevent God from fulfilling His purposes.” What a comfort! And I whole-heartedly agree that the best stories begin with “But God…” 🙂

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  14. Amen, amen!!! Lynn, keep walking by our Savior’s side as you are because He is using you, and I’m thankful for it. At the end of the day, I remind myself, “Whatever He wants to happen WILL happen, no matter what.”

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  15. It’s almost time to begin today’s tasks, but first I wanted to read one of your posts, for you never fail to encourage me. I clicked on this one, for it had not been “liked” yet. I read it under my other profile back when you first wrote it, but our Abba would have me read it again. He has recently given me permission to press “play” on my dream as well. At this point I’m still not certain whether I should be focusing on writing or painting, but for a while I’ll do both and let Abba further direct my steps. Thank you again for your testimony, my sister!

    Like

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