Friday, April 15, 2016

Seeking rest

I went to my home health job last night and knew the client was dying. I couldn't cope. I can't cope well with situations I cannot do anything about. The lack of control kills me. My own limitations do as well. I couldn't really even provide comfort for the family members. I could pray and did quietly. I am reminded of my son's situation 10 years ago. Same thing. Other than prayer, there was little I could do. Nothing to keep him out of prison. Only go through it. I did pray, and maybe that stopped the bullet that would have killed him in a suicide attempt. He is alive now and well, working and trying to rebuild his life. Life is complicated and more than we know. I wish I did it better.

Thank you, Lord, that it really doesn't depend on us entirely. Flesh is too weak for much. But You conquered sin and death. Help us rest in the knowledge.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Still working...

I believe I am done with this piece.  I'm just trying to get as much completed to investigate procedure as I can possibly do.

I am working in home health care which I can say is not a strength or a gift of mine. I'm far too impatient. This morning I left a job because I felt unqualified. It was a blow to me. Lately so many things seem to be going that way. Not so many, but I'm a very responsible person and maybe that was a way to be responsible. Point is, my confidence is suffering. The art helps that because I know it is a gift from God, I know deep down in my heart it is something I love, even though now I struggle. I have to trust that exercising what I love and what He has given me is pleasing to Him. I praise Him for the gift I have and I trust that it will grow as I work it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

continuing to work

Still wet and ripply from painting.

Not quite the daily...

I was determined to write daily as an exercise in brain health and as a gratitude journal. I didn't quite make it the last few days. I've had to resolve something within myself. I feel like I'm working a dead-end job with no point, which isn't true. Caring for people who cannot care for themselves has a point. You are there for that person no matter where they are in life. To think what I wrote is to see it all from a totally selfish vantage point. At the same time my life feels very empty. So I've determined to paint and draw again as much as possible to secure representation if I can and sell work. Without something to hope for and be working toward, I'm not happy. Maybe it is just a matter of wanting something badly enough. I don't know. My eyes are a problem. I have dry eye and working for hours on end is hard. But I tell myself if I were at a job that required me to use the computer for hours like I used to, I'd have the same problem. So, I'm investigating every help and every solution, not taking it lying down because I can't for my own mental health. Here's the latest, and I thank God I have a way to make money on journey and still want to paint...not sure if it is done, but this is what is:

Saturday, April 9, 2016

John 1:16-17

"For out of His (Christ) fullness (abundance) we all received-all had a share and we were all supplied with-one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, and even favor upon favor and gift (heaped) upon gift.

For while the Law was given through Moses, grace-unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing-and truth came through Jesus Christ."

A friend sent me this scripture yesterday, and it actually led me to the book of First John because I read the reference incorrectly. Still, that is where I needed to go and what I needed to read. In First John the connection is made about the love of God being connected to the love of others, specifically other Christians-how can we say we love God if we don't love other people. Jesus was the original lover of people, as is witnessed by what was sent to me. He gave to ALL of us, every spiritual blessing. He gave. I have had a very hard time connecting with God's love-it still seems remote to me, but then you read something like this and I wonder how do I experience this? It seems so wonderful and there is no doubt God longs to and has given us so much. The answer I think is in loving others. I tend to be so isolationist. But then life falls flat. When we live only with and for ourselves excluding other people, maybe not in a defensive way, but what seems to suit our natural personality, we lose out. We cannot experience what we cannot give. And this was given to us for free.

Thank you, Lord, for having the prescription to what ails us and for your personal care for each of us in so many ways. I need to extend that care to others.

Friday, April 8, 2016

recording the process

Next step-I have to keep building on what I've done and blending the materials with each step.


Not sure how I feel about this yet...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Next step...


Thrilled to be getting what I think is a great result for a piece of art-back on track.


I am so fortunate and so privileged to have wonderful sisters in my life. My older sister, Tere, is a godsend to me. We talk on the phone and she never minds being on for hours talking about life, God, hearing my complaints and worries and always listening and sharing in ways that are honest, caring and compassionate. It is a gift I need to develop and share with those who need me to be the same. We were talking last night, and the conclusion we both drew about life and serving God is that gratefulness is such a key component. We tend to be extremely ungrateful the more we have. We can't appreciate those things we take so for granted. So I want to thank God now for her, for my life, for digital and electronic communication, the things I never need to worry about when I hear other people in my life share of the struggles they have. I've seen so many people who have every reason to complain and be bitter, and they aren't. They have joy. I want that quality so much! I say I want it, and I should being saying I'm grateful it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so I do have it. Thank you, Lord, for the joy you give in the midst of every circumstance!

 I went to a yoga class last night, and part of the class included wishing fellow participants a blessing of some sort. I found it difficult to think, and this was a simple one word exercise...The other component to me of gratefulness is being truly mindful in each situation we encounter of things to be sincerely grateful for, and in this case the people in the class and the instructor. I just don't pay attention. I'm usually in places or doing things with my own agenda in mind. So I sort of got this part done quickly as possible. I was tired and not focused on the other people in the class. Then all of the actual class dealt with being mindful...of your body, of your breathing, of your surroundings. I tend to gloss over everything and not give my surroundings or anything else a thought. I guess that is why the expression is PAY attention. Take something out of your conscious mind and give it to your surroundings, the people you encounter-it is a payment of your consciousness to the situation. I really need to think about this.

God please forgive me for not being truly mindful of what I have and experience and because of that know enough to thank You for each situation and blessing. Help to clearly recognize and appreciate your blessings of my life. I do not deserve them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Our Celebrate Recovery lesson last night was on hope, and I had and have to keep coming back to that. I've been trying to draw, trying to trust my mental state into God's hands and watch Him work and have means of healing. This morning I woke up with such stiff muscles in my shoulders and neck I was really discouraged. Drawing requires standing in position for long periods of time, and I sort of chalked up the discomfort to that. I feel like, now what? Is this going to improve or am I looking at a constant battle to stay flexible? I can sit. But I'm going to have to find ways to not concentrate for long periods, get up and stretch, and just know that I have to exercise every day to stay flexible. It's a life long proposition-how do I think I'm going to escape growing older? So I researched, and found a good site for 50plus folks to be encouraged to exercise, stretch, and find ways to remain active and healthy. I'm going to invest in a foam roller for my neck and back. There is a yoga class I've been meaning to attend just down the road and now it looks like I have no excuse. I've also been typing more, so I'm sure that is part of it.

I even looked up artist's health problems. I found one on musicians, who practice for hours and hold their instruments and move arms and fingers with constant repeat motion. The one story that grabbed me was a musician that was in constant pain from playing, told a doctor "it causes me pain when I do this (playing motion)" and they were told well, just stop doing "this". Stop? Ok, there has to be a better answer. The article did say that many students at the university level already have pain. I never had to deal with that-pain that interferes with a life passion at the start of a career? No drawing is not my life or livelihood, but it is something that I can still do and feel I have some identity that is mine, or some purpose, when so much in my life has changed. And I looked up successful actors who suffer with debilitating pain. I don't. BUT...all had to adjust their lives.

I think that if there is strong purpose in a life, it carries us through just about anything. So that is my prayer. That God would help me have the grace to do whatever it is He wants me to do. And thankfulness that His love is always with me when other things fall away.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

New work

I am trying to meet a double challenge artistically, from God and from a friend, so pay tribute to my mom who I lost years ago and reboot my art path. This is the beginning of a portrait that will be part of a series of women in scripture and also a portrait that does pay tribute to mom. The model is actually my daughter Becky, but she looks so much like the gram she never met it is almost an amalgamation of the two. I'm praying I catch that, the eyes especially, but it is more about mannerisms and expression...which again is amazing because the two never met. I have a long way to go (I'm doing my powerful Becky as the prophetess Deborah), but I'm excited. The start seems good.

This is Barbara, my mother.

Sweet somethings

I want to start out my days sending fear packing and inviting gratefulness into my life. Yesterday included seeing a bluebird for the first time! I saw the flash of a blue wing and followed it home as I walked...

Then I was privileged to join the ladies of our church for a monthly dinner/praise meeting. I am humbled constantly by the stories of women I see sitting across the table from me who seem so "ordinary", but I'm always fooled, thank God, and those that shared testimony and stories of their lives amazed me with their strength and endurance in God, their faith to meet some of the most
painful circumstances of life and still be thankful. I left filled in body, soul and spirit. It has been an antidote to my struggle with jealously and fear. I'm not viewing the world or God as I should. There is joy and peace in any life through Christ if we could only accept it. These ladies showed the way. Thank you, Lord, for your faithful people.

Monday, April 4, 2016

older piece being reworked

How to celebrate

Lately I've been confronted with my attitudes about God and about life. I just (re)read Timothy Keller's wonderful book, The Prodigal God. It recaps the story of the prodigal son in a very intelligent and spiritually profound way. And as in all good writing, I immediately recognized myself. The prodigal in the story is really God, the father figure, who graciously dealt with his two sons, both of whom served him and "loved" him for selfish ends. The younger wanted his stuff NOW, and the elder wanted all the stuff he lost because the younger wanted his NOW. At any rate, the father was not served out of unselfish love for himself, but for what he could provide. The younger son finally came to understand this and came back with a plan to pay it back and just be like a hired man, not a son. It was the only way to make things right. The elder was there in body, but would not come back in his heart, would not join the party, wanted nothing to do with anyone unless he got his rightful share because his demands were based on his performance and no more. He felt he deserved it. Which, by law, yes, he did, but he thought nothing of what his demands cost the father and the younger brother...the damage was done and nothing could soothe his resentment. The relationships in ruin unless his heart changed.

How I recognize this picture. I get so upset and unsettled because I can't perform like I used to. I can't make art like I once did, I can't compete in the world like I once so confidently felt I could. My resentment and fear dominates my heart. And then I realize-without God, nothing makes sense. Without vital loving relationship, without His approval and love, it doesn't matter anyway. And I grieve, not knowing how to connect with Him. The father's plea to the elder son in the story was, come to the party. Just come in. The son stood in a doorway, in indecision and stubborn pride. I realized, I don't know how to come in any more. I feel frozen in a doorway of time in my life and it hurts so much. How do I make this right? As I pondered this and read my other book of the moment, The Heart of the Artist, God whispered. Why would He do this for me? Why? He whispered, when you enter into worship of Me, you come into the party. Don't be afraid. Just come to worship. After all the dryness, after the torment of not connecting in familiar ways for so was then that I went to the church with the original art in it. Talk about a shout from heaven!! Why Lord, oh why do you do these things to love me as you do? My part is to simply respond. Respond to your pleas, come in, come to the table. Eat with me. How many images in scripture correspond to that invitation? Behold, I stand at the door and knock...He prepares a table in the presence of my enemies and my cup overflows, the marriage supper of the Lamb, constant invitations...just come and eat. Oh God, how I want to eat and be satisfied.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

This is another piece, in truth more recent. I meant it as a contemporary Madonna and child. Still attempting to work on style and stay accountable to post finished work somewhere. I was reminded in scripture that Jesus grew up in Egypt and I think this sort of has that feel to it. Not sure where I'm going with all of this except I know I was given my art gift by a loving Father and I need to keep exercising that gift.

Stranger in a strange land

Too much has happened over the past two years to even begin to describe how life is now. All I can say is I plan to make this my gratitude journal. Last year was a struggle. I haven't done much art...the piece on the blog is one of my last serious attempts at something new, something with an original style. The work is entitled "Hagar's Well". As I typed this I realized it could be read in two ways. The piece was done in 2014, and I had no idea then how much it would foreshadow coming events in my life. Now for a Bible history lesson-Hagar was Abraham's mistake.  Abraham was supposed to have a child by his wife Sarah, in their old age. But he couldn't wait, so Sarah gave him her Egyptian maid to have a child by, which she did. But things didn't quite turn out right. Hagar had Ishmael, the father of the Arab nations, and we don't need to get into how much trouble that is currently. Whoa, big mistake. Still God promised Hagar the same thing-her son would become a great nation.

What in the world does all of this have to do with gratitude to God? Sarah threw Hagar out of the tent when she got too uppity about her son being the supposed heir. She had no recourse except to go into the desert and wander with her young son. There was nothing there for her and basically it meant death. And then God was true to His promise and a well appeared to save them both. She was instructed to go back and serve her mistress, so just enough to make the trip back and survive. Sometimes it is just that cup of cold water that keeps us going.

I got that today. My confidence as of late has been just about zero creatively. I had carpal tunnel surgery and got diagnosed with dry eye. So concentrating for long periods and using my hands has become much harder. I can do it, but it doesn't feel natural any longer. All of the changes that happened the past year have also challenged me tremendously. Still, not a reason not to do art, but I feel completely rootless and unsure of what my place in life is these days. Much like Hagar. I needed direction, at least enough to get my strength and feet moving. I started reading (again) Rory Noland's book, The Heart of the Artist, about Christian artists and what should drive them. I was working in a town I didn't know anything about, and wanted to go to church on my lunch. There was a place on the corner near a client's home-I work in home healthcare-and I went. As soon as I walked in I noticed something you basically never see in a church. Original art displayed. What were the odds?? Seriously. I've been in a lot of churches. Then I found out the display was for Holy Week and only up once a year at that time. Again, what are the odds that was the time I'd be in this town, on this Sunday walking into a church I knew nothing about.

Thing about all this is, no matter where we are in life, no matter what we're doing, if we're seeking, we'll be found and provided a well. I simply cannot wrap my head around the love of God and His specific leading even if we are wandering. He is the Good Shepherd. He searches. He is the prodigal dad. He waits and then He runs to us. All that is left is to respond. Back to the tent and back to work.