Dried paint can be difficult to remove. Colors once vibrant now wear a matte mask – stamped like a furrowed brow upon chapped skin.

Recently I was tasked with exfoliating several decorated windows. Each window displayed a holiday theme, an illustrative storybook that weaved throughout downtown. The artwork was layered with paint, weather, and time.

I face the first window with an orange bucket filled with vinegar, dish soap and hot water. In my other hand, I hold a scraper and a sponge. I have no expectation of the effort required – easy or arduous. I only know the job needs to be completed, and I am not going to start unless I am determined to finish. So, I dip the sponge into the bucket and begin.

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius

I soon realize this is going to be a messy and tiresome project that will leave my muscles sore and my hands stained. I begin to question why I started and will I ever finish. I chastise my earlier excitement and think myself foolish for attempting this alone.

Somewhere between scrubbing the third and the fourth window, however, I have a mental shift. Because of the soreness settling in my fingers, I am forced to slow down enough to watch a liquid rainbow trickle from my fingertips and splash into the bucket. I look at the colors once dried and faded upon the window. Now they swirl wet and new … waiting for an artist.

I go from being cranky to curious as the color of my thoughts change. One drop at a time.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

A memory sets a smile upon my soul as layers of paint, weather and time fade. I look at my stained hands through the eyes of my younger self. I recall my mama’s kitchen table, me sitting on my heels in a swivel chair that would take me off-balance if I was not careful. Cereal bowls filled to the rim with hot water, vinegar and food coloring rest on yesterday’s newspaper. Balancing a hardboiled egg upon a spoon, I attempt to dip and design a pattern of color on a fragile, milky shell. Bursting with excitement, I discard the spoon and use my fingers and palms to swirl, spin and make Easter eggs. One marvelous, messy creation at a time. I even paint the newspaper. I was an artist.

“Why color inside the lines when life gives you an entire piece of paper?” – Tanya Taylor

The colors of yesterday are set to memory. Some are stamped into my mind like a furrowed brow upon chapped skin. Difficult to remove, even harder to forget. Other memories seem almost fluid … a liquid rainbow that trickles from the curious nature of my youth and splashes into the bucket I carry today.

I face the final window and view the cleaned glass. All the artwork is removed. I am about to wipe my hands upon my jeans when an overwhelming feeling comes over me. A curiosity to create. I draw a petite flower on the corner of the window with the colors still wet upon my fingertips. Stepping back, I see a small flower and the reflection of an artist.

May we never stop creating in life just because it is messy and may not turn out as we envision. Time will layer wrinkles upon us whether we are cranky or curious. It is up to us to define the expression that will set within each memory. God did not give us vibrant hues of personality, passions, and purposes to leave our world unaffected. As fragile as life is, may we greet each new day with child-like excitement, using the entire piece of paper to color life with His love.

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian Author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.