Be There

Be There
I want to talk today about taking time to enjoy the scenery around you.
How often are our minds actually present when we’re doing something? We usually think about the next place we have to go, the next meeting we have, the next person we need to meet, the next thing on our schedule, but how often do we actually interact with with what we’re doing at the time?
This is a painting I did–a mural for the Montessori School District in Eau Claire in their IMC,  their library. They asked me to paint a picture of these kids sitting on a bridge at the Rod and Gun park here in Eau Claire, and you can see they’re just enjoying themselves, their legs dangling over the edge, as they just look into the river and just take in the scenery and enjoy being with each other and being in nature.
The boy is scooping his hand down in the water,  trying to grab a frog, or touch a rock, or pick up some slimy piece of moss–but whatever this boy is doing–he’s just having a good old time.
He’s not worried about what’s going to be going on in the day– if he has any cares at all, he’s totally forgotten them, just sitting there looking at the scenery taking it in.
And I have to say I’m probably preaching to myself here… how many times do I sit at home when I should be totally engaging with my kids, spending time with them? Instead, I just work on something on the side–a project on the computer, something I think needs to get done. It’s seems so important, but it’s not nearly as important as spending time with my kids.
Montessori School IMC wall before mural

Montessori School IMC wall before mural

I think this is the American phenomenon…this phenomenon of being overworked, over-stimulated with technology–just having too many distractions that take our focus off of things that matter most in life which is relationships with people, relationships with with God. We try to multitask and do too many things at once.
And now I have to be totally transparent here: I am actually dictating this blog post, because I am working on a project that has a tight deadline and I am literally speaking this and transcribing this on my phone as I’m here sketching and working on this drawing that has to be done by tomorrow.
Fortunately, artwork for me is a right brain activity so I can literally draw or paint and talk and carry on a decent conversation all at the same time. Throwing in chewing gum with that I might not be able to handle it!
On the flip side, even though I have this super tight deadline; (at the time of creating this post) this drawing that has to be done by tomorrow– I still plan on going out to dinner tonight with my family to a mutual friends place, because I know that is that’s very important. I could justify it and say I have to get this done and, you know, I just have to get finished because it’s a tight deadline. But it’s much more important to put people and relationships first.
And you know, I can burn the midnight oil tonight.
That won’t kill me to do that for one night.
And when I get there and I’m enjoying that dinner I am NOT going to worry about getting this deadline done. I know it’s going to get done. But I’m just going to enjoy myself at that dinner and enjoy being with the people that all I’ll be with.
Now just to tell you a little bit more about the mural project–that took me about 2 months out of the summer I started it in the mid in mid June and got it done August 1st. But anyway, I had some challenges while working on the mural. Putting up the base coats didn’t turn out quite as I expected.
"Be There:" Mural, 8' x 34', Acrylic on masonry, by Matt Philleo, located at Montessori School, Eau Claire, WI, in progress

“Be There:” Mural, 8′ x 34′, Acrylic on masonry, located at Montessori School, Eau Claire, WI, by Matt Philleo, in progress

You know when you get your paint can mixed at the store and the color swatch on on the can looks a certain way but then when you actually put it up on the wall, it looks totally different than what you expected? Well that’s what happened to me–my base coat ended up being just a just a few shades off from what I wanted it to be– well, more like several shades off, and I found myself wanting to skip past that stage of where I was at– the in between stage of not looking so good.
I found myself not quite enjoying the process as much as I could have. But there were a few points where things really took off and I was really just enjoying being there and just painting the image and watching it come together, getting kind of involved in my technique. And eventually it did all come together at the end.
"Be There:" Mural, 8' x 34', Acrylic on masonry, by artist Matt Philleo, located at Montessori School, Eau Claire, WI, detail

“Be There:” Mural, 8′ x 34′, Acrylic on masonry, located at Montessori School, Eau Claire, WI, by artist Matt Philleo, detail

So I guess the point I’m trying to make is this…
Wherever you’re at,  just enjoy being there.
If you’re at work, find a way to enjoy being at work, to do your best job for your employer. I mean he’s paying you after all, so be there. Do an excellent job. And if you’re in nature and you’re you’re outside hunting camping or hiking,  shut off  your iPhone for a little bit.Just take in the scenery, enjoy it, because by shutting everything off you’re going to have a chance to be recharged in a way that you otherwise couldn’t, having that technology runningIf you’re home then be home and spend time with your family. Get to know them, engage with them, love on them, because at the end of it you’ll never regret that time you spend with your family.
Wherever you’re at, be there.
I think Jesus said this best: I’m going to paraphrase this, but He said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. You don’t know what a day is going to bring forth. Don’t worry about what you’re going to wear, what you’re going to eat, because your father knows you need those things, and he provides those for you. So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day  has its own trouble to worry about. And then finally Bible says, “cast all your cares upon God because He cares for you.”
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Just be there!

"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."

Inscribed6a 500px

"Inscribed," Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo

One day, when I was discouraged I read a verse in the Bible, in Isaiah, 49:15-16, where it says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." This verse brought such encouragement, that I created this original work of art to share the incredible love of God with others, including you!

Get a free 8 x 10 copy of this drawing that you can use to print, share, or as wallpaper!

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  1. What a great lesson to be reminded of today! Contentment is an interesting word because everyone may define it differently, but knowing Christ and trusting Him in our day to day struggles and triumphs is where true contentment exists.

    Thanks for this great reminder to be alive in the moment! Especially with thanksgiving coming up, we need to slow down and recognize just how blessed we are!

    • Matt Philleo

      Hi Sara,

      Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad my words were encouraging to you. And amen–Jesus Christ is the source of all peace and contentment. I’ve weathered many storms, as I’m sure you and others have, and each time it compels me to seek the Lord until He comes and rains His righteousness on me!

      Good correlation too with Thanksgiving. I didn’t think of that when I wrote it. Yes, we are very blessed in this country, and it’s good to take time to reflect on that. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


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