My husband’s cousin married an artist. A real, honest-to-goodness, brush-to-canvas artist. When we first met, I saw a few pencil drawings he sketched on the back of a crumpled piece of paper, and I thought How quaint. He scratches out little drawings on the back of trash. It wasn’t what I expected when they told me he made capital “A” Art.

I didn’t know he drew them in seconds. Tiny little moments of time caught on any slip of paper he had at hand. He drew some by request, and others for the pure pleasure of it. At home, he painted into the wee hours of the night or before the sun came up in the morning.

He caught more than moments in time, he caught life unfolding in cityscapes or landscapes or still life.

His work hangs in galleries now. It hangs in homes and hospitals and, someday soon, in museums. We’re all more than a little impressed. Not because of what he’s accomplished, although it is impressive, but because he never gave up. Not when his art professor dismissed his early work, not when he couldn’t make ends meet with his art, not when his paintings hung only on the walls of his own home.

By day, he worked a full time job to provide for his family, one that stole time from his true work—the work of his heart.

And yet, he found a way to steal the time back, waking well before the sun every day to meet his heart’s work in the studio housed in his dark, damp basement. After punching the time clock, he returned home from an already full day and picked up the paint brushes yet again. Day after day after day. 

He taught me something about dreaming from the basement. Dreaming from the dark places, the ones where we hide when we could be doing the work we’re made to do. He worked long and labored hard in the forgotten places. He dreamed dreams dug out from the bottom of his soul and then set to work making them a reality in a room dug out from the earth. Then he creeped down the creaky set of stairs every morning and every night to revisit them.

You and I might not be artists in the capital “A” sense, but we all have dreams that rise up from the dark and quiet places of our heart. God knit you together in a particular fashion, and the world may not believe it, and your family might not understand it, and your paycheck may not reflect it, but you can honor the dream and respect it. You can do the work, whatever it requires, whether it be a day job or embracing the fringe hours or persistence in the face of discouragement.

Creep down the creaky stairs.

Revisit the dream. Acknowledge the hard nature of it, and how you’re made for it. << Click to Tweet

Do the work.


Kimberly Coyle is a writer, mother, and gypsy at heart. She tells stories of everyday life while raising a family, and shares her faith on her blog. She writes from the suburbs of New Jersey, where she is learning how to put down roots that stretch further than the nearest airport.

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