Connect with us

Articles

Canvas Cupcakes

How a painting of cupcakes reminded me to be kind to myself and cherish my own dreams.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Hidden beneath the clang of random crockery, the rustle of a few books, and the musty scent of cardboard boxes, I find three canvas paintings of cupcakes, maybe 8-inch square.

I draw my finger around the shape of one of the cupcakes and touch the rough edges of some unidentifiable art substance resembling upscale puffy paint or inedible frosting. Feeling the trio of canvases in my hands, I envision where I will place these paintings in my new home. In time, I know the cupcakes will find a place of honor on the blank walls because of my admiration for the artwork, but even more for the artist. Gazing at the bright images reminds me of the type of woman I want to be, the type of wife and mother I hope to become, and the type of home I want to have.

I remember the day in Cape Town as I was leaving Daphne’s house, my daughter snapped in her baby carrier on my chest, my feet ready to make the short walk back to my flat. Beside the entrance to Daphne’s catch-all room that doubled as a sewing room and artist’s haven, I saw the paintings of cupcakes.

“Those are cute,” I said knowing the talents of my hostess.

“Thanks. Do you want them?”

“I can have them?” I stooped to the ground, shifting my daughter’s weight to give me more space to kneel. My fingers traced the shape of one of the cupcakes.

“Yes, I’m trying to find a new home for them. Too many paintings in the house.” Her arms motioned to the walls on both sides of the hallway covered with a mixture of artwork and photographs.

“Yes! I want them.”

My imminent return to America sometimes felt as if I were counting down the days until the start of school. At other moments, I felt like a bright-eyed child counting down the minutes until Christmas morning. In the midst of those confusing emotions, I wanted to cling to this home and this woman who had cared for me as an extension of her own family.

Daphne rescued things others would likely discard. White shirts that stained or yellowed with time were dyed black. The desk that was too old, too big, and too much of a nuisance found new life as end tables. A lonely wife was offered genuine friendship.

She and her husband attended the church my husband brought me to right after our wedding and my move to South Africa. Just when my own well of loneliness threatened to submerge my head and leave me gasping for mercy or a return ticket to America, she invited me to be part of her life.

I would drop in for an occasional visit, and her smile made me think she was hoping I’d stop by for a chat. She answered the door dressed in blacks, whites, and shades of grey. Sometimes color burst forth in a shiny beaded necklace or a pair of orange flats. The linens and cottons flowed on her body like a spring breeze or gentle stream matching the ease of her own words.

“Hello! Are you coming for a cup of tea?” she would say.

To me, her cups of tea reminded me of water in her garden. In much the same way that she coaxed her plants to flourish through water, I flourished during conversations that came with Daphne’s tea. She listened to my stories and dispensed encouragement through her own personal experiences. Her eyes were pregnant with the wisdom that comes from years of life, marriage, and motherhood.

As we talked over tea, her hands were constantly creating: salads for lunch, mosaics out of old china, or sketches in her notebook. As I watched her hands in motion, I felt the urge to revisit creative parts of me long neglected. I imagined Daphne’s childhood was filled with birds with broken wings, necklaces that no longer clasped, and friends with painful family secrets.

A few months after my daughter’s birth, Daphne held my baby in the crook of her arm while I sat across the table watching them. The sticky sweet smell of new baby and the spice of fresh cut flowers gave the room the peaceful aroma of God’s creation. Daphne glanced at me as I enjoyed a rare, hands-free moment and sipped my tea.

“Try to remember what you like to do,” she said. “They grow up.” Her eyes glanced down at my daughter, “And one day you’ll want to remember what you liked to do before they were the only thing you did.”

Maybe it was at the end of that particular visit when I found the cupcake paintings. Or maybe it was months later after another visit whose words may have been different, but the comfort existing in the room was still the same. What happened just prior to securing the three paintings, I can’t recall as it blends into one long, pleasant memory.

Now in my new city of just over a year, I stare at the blank walls of my new house while my hands hold colorful paintings of cupcakes. I am reminded that Daphne’s paintings challenge me to give of myself and the things I create. This may be a meal I prepare for guests, a home I long to decorate in the calming design of coziness, or a poem I write for my daughter. I am also reminded of my desire to let my love for God translate into care for my family, my friends, and the people who divinely link to my life in ways I didn’t plan.

And, finally, as I glance once more at those paintings and write this final sentence, I am reminded to be kind to myself and cherish my own dreams.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Patrice Gopo lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and her daughter. She enjoys glimpsing God’s divine hand in the everyday moments of life. She is passionate about writing, community, justice, and poverty alleviation. Each year that passes she is amazed to see how God connects these passions in ways she could never ask for or imagine.

2 Comments
  • Thanks for this, Patrice! Your writing is always so picturesque. Your gift inspires me.

    Such a lovely memory of warmth that you create here … I especially love Daphne’s insightful observation: “…one day you’ll want to remember what you liked to do before they were the only thing you did.”

    Very helpful indeed. :-)

  • “Be kind to yourself”, in the midst of service and creation. What a beautiful gift and example Daphne gave you. Thank you for this.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Become An Insider!

Enter your email address below to stay in the loop on the latest from Ungrind.

Welcome to Ungrind!



Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

Latest Articles

What Women Are Saying

"I am very impressed with the content of Ungrind. It is a place young women can go for encouragement, inspiration, and practical ways to navigate a life of faith. In a world that is telling women to find fulfillment through a million 'things,' Ungrind reminds us that we fill our cups through the Word of God and the commonality we share as women who pursue Him."

--Jennifer Strickland, author of Girl Perfect: An Imperfect Girl's Journey to True Perfection
COL_TeamUs_BannerAd

Five-Minute-Friday---4

familydevotional

Disclosure

We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.

Trending

Canvas Cupcakes

by Patrice Gopo time to read: 4 min
2