Stories Behind the Art: The Basket of Treasured Disgrace

The Basket of Treasured Disgrace, 2019
Acrylic on Canvas, 16×20

As I was creating this painting, I saw in my mind’s eye Moses being lowered into the water in a basket by his mother (Exodus 2). Which made me realize there would be some concepts surrounding the life of Moses that I needed to explore.

I see basket weaves in this painting with two strong/ distinct color palettes. Which made me think of two stories that I mostly associate with Moses – on the yellow/orange side of the painting, I see this representing the burning busNanci Stoeffler-The Basket of Treasured Disgrace 2019h (Exodus 3) and in the blue/purple/red colors of the other side, I see this representing the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14).

The Burning Bush
The burning bush encounter from every angle is to me — romantic. What would that be like to see a bush burning in the desert? And the fact that he was walking, gave him time to observe the bush was on fire yet not being consumed. In our modern world of hurried transportation, we most likely would see a bush on fire and merely rush on past it — never perceiving its insignificance to our lives, or more accurately — we don’t want to allow ourselves too much time to observe something that might interrupt our daily agenda or to do list. So we don’t stop, we don’t observe, we don’t ponder. I must ask myself the question; are there “burning bushes” in my life in which God is trying to arouse my curiosity simply to draw me closer so he could speak to me? Speak profoundly to me? It is worth my time to examine this….

The Parting of the Red Sea
The parting of the Red Sea must have been a magnificent splendor to experience firsthand! God showing off that he is in fact the owner and commander of the Sea — all seas. What glory. What awe. What a spectacular event to have seen and experienced. Just imagine; walking – step by step by step upon dry ground for miles as you crossed with two ominous, imposing, giant walls of sea water on either side of you. How long did it take? Did they wonder if the water would crash in on them? Did thy talk to each other while they walked? If so, what was the conversation? Could they see the sea creatures swimming in the walls of water like they were experiencing the first ever aquarium? And after they passed on to the other side, what was the sound of those two gigantic walls of water released from the grip of God and reunited as one body of water? What technically occurred in the supernatural realm to make that happen too? We know that God spoken words are used to shift and move all of creation. Did he speak to the waters “part and become a wall”? These are just some of my wonderings about this fantastic event in which God used Moses to facilitate.

Treasured Disgrace
Which leads me to the last portion of painting title: Treasured Disgrace. Why in the world would anyone treasure disgrace of any kind? When I think of the life of Moses, I cannot help but think of the words written in the Hebrews 11 (considered the “Faith Chapter”) when describing Moses:

“By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” ~ Heb. 11:23-27

treasured disgrace quoteWow!! What a beautiful thing to be said about any follower of Christ. What a role model he is for me, and for you. He had the spiritual wisdom and insight which enabled him to keep the disgrace of this world and the treasures of this world in proper perspective to the eternal glory and eternal treasure “because he was looking ahead to his reward”.

May I be found as one who, like Moses, treasured disgrace of this world. For that will mean I have successfully buried my heart in heaven.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21

Stories Behind the Art: An Unknown Language

An Unknown Language, 2015
Acrylic on Canvas, 16×20
By Nanci Stoeffler, Stoeffler Art Studio

There is a deep longing in every soul to be heard, known and understood by another. It quenches a thirst and fills a hunger as nothing else can. The human’s desire for love through connection in this way is not an accident; it is a part of the intentional design of a Relational Creator. We desire connection with other humans, but we also desire a connection with God (Psalm 42, Psalm 63, John 6:25, Isaiah 55)

Through my life’s quest to understand and question the human condition – it’s purpose, meaning and significance, I’ve come to the realization there are many, many parts of my own soul that cannot be touched, understood or reached through connection with other humans or even through self-revelation, self-realization. I find in myself, an “other-world” longing and hunger which is always forging for food from a foreign land beyond the stars.

ThNanci Stoeffler-An unknown language 2014rough one specific, spiritual encounter with my very Relational God, he allowed me to discover a place in my soul that’s like a huge library. This library is full of books I long for other humans, myself and God to come a read to be understood, to be known and loved. There are many sections in the library. There’s a section of collected memories and experiences. A section of pain, loss, disappointment and grief. A section of wondering, seeking and searching. A section of hopes and dreams. A section of laughter, silliness and restored childlikeness. A section of books specifically to be given away. A section of private secrets only meant for me to read. There is a section of books God and I have read together, and event written together. There are many other sections I have explored and others I have not.

god reads our soulSo it was during this particular encounter with God, I saw a whole section of books inside my soul that he himself stood before and I knew nothing about them. As he looked them over, touched their spines, enjoyed their fragrance, he pulled out one book. As he opened it, I saw it was full of words from a language I did not know. And as he ran his fingers over the letters, I soon noticed this language was also written in braille. Mysteriously, as he ‘read’ the words in this foreign language written for the blind, an undiscovered land inside myself began to melt into the glorious feeling of being known, loved and…read. I began to weep with soul-nourishing cries of a beloved one experiencing ‘known-ness’ by her Relational, Creator God.

I came to realize this section of books was about things he placed in me that I cannot know, but only he can. This unknown language was intentionally created to bring us closer together. It has something to do with the “other-world” longing in me as well as letting go of the desire to know the unknowable.

As I grow in trusting my Everlasting God (Isaiah 26:3, Romans 8:28, Deuteronomy 32:7) and reside in intertwinement with Him (John 15), I enjoy the “other-world” mysteries and realities his Presence brings (Psalm 16:11). And I also relax my grip on knowing the unknowable (1 Corinthians 13:12) and simply rest in the realty that My God know. He is the one and only God who resides over everything unknown (Psalm 139, Psalm 147:4-5, Psalm 33:13-15).

So, this painting represents the Unknown Language I believe God intentionally put in every human soul. It is written on our hearts and meant for our Beloved, Creator God to come and enjoy in its reading (Song of Solomon 4:17). And in so doing, we as created beings, are invited to let go of our deepest self, to trust, allowing ourselves to be known by Him and simply take His hand as he leads us into the Scared Dance.


POEM: Words Like Lanterns

She led him into
the circular room
on the left.

The moonlight fell
across his face,
as he breathed deeply.

His eyes patterned
over the rows
reading each spine;
his hands
slowly ran across them
as if to draw back
a theatre curtain.

He chose to reach
for one volume.
Just one.

In its reading, his touch
lit words like lanterns
until the face
he came to read,