Ten years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Meghan Lacey at a luncheon held in her honor at the Swan Coach House in Atlanta. Since then, Meghan and her mother Lyn have become dear friends. One special pleasure for me has been to watch Meghan’s developing talent as an artist. Years ago she gave me a lovely painting of the real Swan House which proudly adorns a shelf in my Writing Chalet in France (pictured above). The charcoal drawing of the Swan House is also hers.
A few years later, Meghan and Lyn treated me to lunch at the Swan Coach House, and Meghan surprised me with this gorgeous charcoal drawing of my mother who had passed away earlier in the year. Yes, I shed many tears over this gift.
Today, I’ve asked Meghan to tell you a little about her art and share an Advent thought. I’ve included some of her other artwork throughout this post. Please get in touch with Meghan at the links at the end of this post to purchase or commission one of her beautiful works of art.
Hi everyone! My name is Meghan Lacey, I am an artist who works primarily in oils but I also greatly enjoy drawing in charcoal and pencil as well. I love the beauty of nature, the quiet still moments of thought and meditation, in silence (when possible) as I complete a work of art.
However, if I am totally honest, most of the time, the voices inside my head can get so loud and quite overwhelming if I forget to quiet my heart with God’s truth. Often, I listen to music or an audio book to keep my mind occupied with a message or a tone that I am trying to convey in the art, but silence provides a truthful space where the reality of my mind and heart can come into the light. Praying for others is a great way to fill my mind and heart because it takes the focus off myself and what I am fearful or anxious about.
I don’t know about you, but one of the kindest things that warms my heart is when someone shares, “You were on my heart today and I was praying for you”. The timing of the prayer in my life is always perfect too. With these voices we hear in our head, the first time I ever connected with a story that spoke to this struggle, because darkness and self criticism can be so strong – was in Elizabeth’s book “Words Unspoken”.
I cried so much reading that book, a personal loss had occurred in my life, and I suddenly realized that God did care about my darker thoughts, places and spaces and difficult days – the laments in the Psalms are there for a reason. Lissa’s journey of healing may have been different from mine, but the battle that was fought was very much the same and I know for many of you too, it can seem to loom so large – our worries, problems, fears and concerns. Thank God, his love and promises are greater than our walk in the Valley.
As an artist, I have been on a long journey of realizing more and more how much “we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned, every one, to his (or her:) own way” (Isaiah 53:6). When I was a little girl, it was always so cute to me to be likened to a sheep. Fuzzy, white, and bleating all the time! Probably, because my visuals of sheep came from my stuffed animals, cute artwork in my Bible, or the adorable sheep costumes we got to wear in Christmas pageants 🙂 However, growing up, meeting real sheep and learning about the true animals, I am not as delighted all the time to be compared to a sheep. Indeed, “going our own way” with a stubborn nature and wandering off is certainly what we all experience as followers of Christ. I was looking up other passages I remembered and realized some things, like in the Christmas story:
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign unto you: you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hose praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!” Luke 2:8-10
Recently, while re-reading the book of Luke I realized an amazing thing – the shepherds and their sheep were the first visitors of Jesus! I am not sure why, but I just hadn’t let that sink in before? Not kings, not royalty, not priests, humble shepherds who were “keeping watch over their flock by night”. The angel of the Lord appeared to them, sharing the good tidings and inviting them as the very first visitors to come see baby Jesus. I firmly believe God makes no mistakes, I think the significance here is powerful and I think he was trying to help us learn a truth here about ourselves and Jesus too. If we are like sheep going astray, Jesus is the Good Shepherd – he will watch over us all day and all night like these shepherds were doing the night he was born.
In the book of John, Jesus literally tells his disciples that he is the Good Shepherd, he knows us each personally, and if we follow Jesus, we know his voice. He laid his life down for us – undeserving and very smelly, stupid sheep 🙂 (if you follow all of the literal comparisons between us and the characteristics of sheep). Jesus has all the authority to give up his life for us and he did – because he did love us so much!
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know mejust as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:14-18
I think with sheep, that wander off and lack the wisdom to follow the guiding voice of the shepherd, there is certainly a vulnerability and dependence that must be acknowledged. This kind of brokenness is not something we like to look at as Christians – or human beings for that matter, but the truth is – we cannot do anything on our own.
In “The Swan House”, Elizabeth tells the story of how Mary Swan Middleton and the memory of her mother Shelia, are both complicated and messy but still very beautiful. While reading the book, I understood the description of Shelia’s life as an artist on such a personal level. One of the best parts of this analogy is as an artist, the artwork done is therapy for the artist (expressing the inexpressible) as the art itself can be therapeutic and minister to others once it is completed. Also, it is remarkable how each painting has so many stages of very inscrutable visual depictions that somehow harmonize into a painting or finished work of art. It takes patience and faith in the process. Enjoying the journey, but accepting the messy stages as they really are with grace. Now, I see this “sheep-like” dependence actually as a strength – where some people in the world might think it weak. But Jesus himself was humbled and made into weakness – he was not a powerful mythological god standing on top of a mountain throwing things at us – he literally came to earth. He was not far off from us – he was very near, close to us – “God With Us” – Emmanuel.
Even when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29). Since Jesus identified Himself as the lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb whose death would pay for our sins, now it seems more clear to me why shepherds and sheep would have been welcomed at the birth of Jesus. Baby Jesus lay in a filthy, feeding trough with animals all around him, a very humble place for the Son of God to arrive, but that is how Christ came – in love and humility for the salvation of us all.
When I consider all of this, and much more, how Christ loves us so well, the darkness and clouds in my mind will blow away. It still ebbs and flows with time, but I know that returning back to meditate on God’s truth and praying again and again and again, but allowing the stillness to come even when it’s a bit scary, that is good. I hope that you will be encouraged to lean on Jesus too, filling your hearts and minds with truth and beauty, when the doubts, fears and concerns seem to flood your minds.
This Christmas season, I am looking forward to reading “The Promised Land” 🙂 and I am so thankful to call Elizabeth a friend in my life! Her characters and stories reflect the real state of hearts and how God does work all things together for the good of those who love Christ. Thank you for reading my words today, but most of all I hope we will all take comfort in God’s truth today! He is always working! Praise God!
Meghan Lacey was raised in sunny and warm climate of Central Florida and has spent the last ten years living in the beautiful foothills of Georgia. She credits her mother, Lyn Lacey, as her inspiration for her artistic endeavors. While still in high school, Meghan received classical drawing and oil painting instruction from Chris DiDomizio from 2006-2012 and watercolor painting instruction from Dylan Scott Pierce from 2009 until 2012. From 2014 to 2015, Meghan took private lessons from portrait artist Leah Burchfield Mantini. She has taken workshops from artists such as Don Sondag, Jordan Sokol, Amaya Gurpide, Mia Bergeron, Anne Blair Brown, Dylan Scott Pierce, Brett Weaver, and Suzy Schultz. During the fall semester of 2016, she studied abroad at Oxford University through the Scholars’ Semester at Oxford, where she studied History of Art as a registered visiting student. Meghan graduated with her B.A. in Art and Design, with a Concentration in Painting and a Minor in Art History at LaGrange College in May of 2017. Recently, she learned the art of organic farming at Serenbe Farms, GA. As of Spring 2020, Meghan is pursuing her M.F.A. in Painting, online through Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA.