“work in progress”, the words float on a cool artist video to give a glimpse into an artist’s current work. Funny, I’ve posted pics like this. I’m sort of old I guess, so I’m not one for sharing me talking into my phone and I’m not tech savvy enough (yet) to share a video of my actual process of painting.
I’ve removed the fifteen or more books from my nightstand.
Some of them read, some recommended, others opened and skimmed and set aside.
I’m hard on myself as a reader. I’m distracted and mostly too sleepy. They say a writer must be a reader.
Maybe that’s why I’m less afraid to paint.
To simplify. The nightstand now has one framed photo, a lamp, a pen with paper and a paperback collection of Psalms and Proverbs.
“How he satisfies the souls of thirsty ones and fills the hungry with all that is good!” Psalms 107:9 TPT
I’ve taken to the practice of reading at least one verse as soon as I’m settled in bed.
Some nights more. I thumb to the passage chosen by the date and the pages from notes compiled through the years are becoming my sedation, my self-help.
There are pencil scratches, black or blue ink faded to soft grey. There are bold underlines and tiny little star asterisks in places.
The summary of supplication, of suffering questions, or redirection of myself in an achingly sorrowful way.
Remorse, regret, confusion and occasionally a determined commitment to peace, the words warn, these are best kept secret.
Much like Job may have felt, I imagine if he sat with the pages that detailed his friends calling out his wrongs and his reply incessantly saying,
But, none of this makes sense. Why me?
I feel like Job was just that honest.
If you find your old journal or Bible, do you find your honesty to be hard or do you see it as simply honest?
Do you see how far you’ve come or are you hard on yourself that some days you still hurt to comprehend some things?
I fell asleep with a revelation the other night.
I’d read my prayers scrawled in the old book. Concerns so very intimate that only God and I knew and know the reasons.
I realized I had such a yearning for God back then.
I realized I still do.
The thought of my laments and longings documented with pencil or pen gave me a new idea, a different peace.
I was a seeker. I still am.
My soul ached with yearning.
It still is.
I decided it is a good thing to be still yearning, to not be satisfied in who I’ve become, to be certain God’s still what my heart yearns for and the goodness of His gifts to me, to my family, beauty made of so many hard things.
The words to a song you won’t hear on the radio seem to pop up on my Pandora quite often lately.
I drive the morning road, make it to the hill and curve on the dirt one and I slow my arrival because it happens!
The voice of Paul Beloche, so gently and assuredly reminding me of all the beauty God has made of my life already.
She gave a helpful list with one thing being to ask yourself at the end of the day,
“Where did I see God today?”
Naturally, I loved this, it’s might kind of deep thinker thing.
Tuesday was a “grandma day”. It was so sweet and easy and it was a gift the way the simplicity of the day fell into place.
We sat together in the cool castle building dirt spot. To pass the time ‘til Mama drove up, I taught the baby to sift sand from one hand to the other. Teaching maybe the wrong word, I just did it and she followed.
From one hand to the other we just passed the sand between our hands. She looked up, longer than usual, looked deeply into my eyes in a way that said, “This is sublime.”
Yes, this was when I saw God.
God with us.
Heaven met earth and situated itself with us in the Springtime dirt.
Yearning for me not to miss such a beautiful moment on a blue sky day.
And I didn’t and I pray I don’t from now on.
“Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” Hebrews 7:25 NLT
Lord, may our earthly days cause our longing for you more every day even as we yearn for the incomprehensible promise of heavenly days promised by you.
It’s become the norm for me to wake with a lyric or a verse. I know the song and it sets my tone. I open my Bible app and search for the verse if other thoughts don’t get me off course.
The promise of today is bright sunshine and the Labrador returns with the ball jammed into his cheek. I step outside and decide just a couple of tosses. It’s still too cold, early Friday morning.
He’s satisfied and so am I. I turn to go inside, my feet numb from the cold hard ground and I see the beauty of what seems to be an overnight changing to green.
I find myself wondering if God is aware. Of my waking on a Friday morning after sleeping hard from unacknowledged exhaustion.
Did God know I’d wake up with the words to a song by J.J. Heller, “You Already Know”? (Yes, I adore her.) Did God know I’d be standing barefoot and I’d listen to Him reminding me of the dangers of comparison?
Does God know how many blades of grass surround my feet? Is he aware of every rain drenched fallen camellia? I believe so.
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31 ESV
We are important to God. Courage and trust are the evidence of our embracing this as belief.
Hagar, a pregnant mistress in the Old Testament, used by others to fulfill a longing, felt abandoned, rejected, unnecessary. She longed to escape the bitter condemnation of Sarah. She fled into the wilderness.
God met her there. He pointed out the water she’d been thirsting for.
I wondered this morning if she’d been standing near the flow of water and couldn’t hear it or if she’d become so worried, afraid, confused and maybe angry over how her life’s direction had pointed towards self-destruction, that she couldn’t see the provision of God waiting there.
So, God pointed it out. She was changed by seeing that she’d been seen herself.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”” Genesis 16:13 ESV
In a few weeks, a children’s book illustrated and written by me will be available. I may have chances to share its backstory, a story I only recently realized but God already knew.
“Look At The Birds” is a book born of talks with my granddaughter about birds and talks between God and me about worry, worth and trust.
It’s a book with a mission of helping children understand their value is determined by Jesus and no one or no place else.
It’s a message God longed for me, the wife, the mother, grandmother, the author, the artist, to begin to finally embrace.
I drive the trio of two lane roads to my morning destination, a right turn, a right turn and another and a final sharp right that leads me on clay road with deep moss covered ditches holding up deeper rooted trees.
I think of my children. Mamas of adult children do this, just are less apt to share so much.
More inclined to keep the thoughts to ourselves as if we’re not supposed to have them.
I think of the vast differences of the two, a daughter and a son. Different locations, one like the mouse called country and the other called city.
Likeness in their initiative, their determination, their deeply instilled must have passed from parents and grandparents, work hard, work is a representation of you.
It’s an odd thing to want to quell honorable ambition, to encourage them not to do too much, to not exhaust themselves.
Hard because you remember the you they saw as a professional, the little girl and boy who didn’t quite understand it all maybe, just knew their mama worked hard at hard things.
So, you encourage self-awareness, you hint at balance, you warn of self-care and of being certain you know it’s not work that gauges your value, it is peace at the end of the day and again the next morning.
My mornings have a pattern now. Read something in my Bible, sip coffee, write some things down, circle the names.
On two or three days I drive in the dark and on good days I’m not tailgated or blinded by truck lights undimmed. I arrive and situate myself for the day, a visitor and helper.
If there is time and the Spirit leads, I pray. I watch the windows and listen for the waking child.
I anticipate the sun rising across the wide sky. I step outside and say “Good Morning, God”. Later, I do the same with the baby.
“For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.” Psalms 108:4 KJV
On Tuesday, the sky was only grey mixed with clouds dispersing to bring the morning. Clouds like in a children’s picture book, fat white fluffs with underbellies defined with thick crayon.
Made me think I could grab one.
The clouds that shifted all day that began with not a whole lot of tangerine hue, instead a spew of sparsely filtered white either coming down from heaven to us or reaching back up.
Either way, I noticed. I noticed God.
I stood and honored it, the way God substituted happy orange for quiet iridescence.
I woke remembering today.
Remembering conversations with my children, the authenticity of them, the timing, the words unafraid to be spoken, the replies of gratefulness and of
There is solace there.
Gratitude immeasurable there.
Mercy for mothering mistakes, the truth of us now with God’s grace covering them all and the acceptance of new days.
Continue and believe. Continue towards peace today.
The moon is my favorite along with the color blue, the crescent curve and the hue called cobalt.
Crescent moon like a tilted uncertain smile, saying okay hang on, hang on.
And the cobalt like the ink from a broken pen, the thick fluid, jam from a jar.
I love the others, the sky, the teal, the baby; but, the strong cobalt calls me closer.
The half moon or the full in its brilliance are spectacular.
Still, I favor the crescent one.
Today, I watched a toddler persist. The country path that leads to her home had puddles of rain yet to dry up.
We walked towards one, I reminded her of her shoes, not her boots and she approached and then walked on.
One puddle, the largest of all and she paused.
She turned to find a pebble and then “plop” it went in the water and then she found a big brittle oak leaf.
Intent on tossing it into the puddle, she carefully skirted the edge of the muddy water.
But, the wind swept lightly across her little knees and then again and again, the brown leaf was swept up in the wrong direction.
I heard a little sound, like “umph” but, I saw her not frustrated, simply understanding.
Then she came from a new angle and she dropped the brown brittle leaf in the center of the puddle.
Then, we walked on, “ready set go”.
I’m wondering now if there’s a color of water that I love, a thick colored watery taupe.
An oak leaf resting as we walk back by,
The cobalt of the morning sky allowing a strip of coral in.
My day began this way.
I welcomed the beauty, flipped my phone towards the windshield and I sensed the tone for my day.
But, persist calmly. Consider what you value.
What you’ve decided decides your value.
Muddy water mid-morning then a cloudless blue sky against white spindly trees, I am reminded of the value I place on things decided by others.
The things I believe might mean my arrival. I remember now the persistence of a toddler when the wind was against her.
The wind picking up the leaf so lightly and the little hand that decided quietly,
Thoughts of an expression, “lightly child, lightly” reminding me to not try so hard that my trying becomes striving, obnoxious, an idol, not a quiet and important mission.
I am remembering the first time I read this thanks to a blogger friend, David Kanigan.
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.” Aldous Huxley
A collision of faith, nature and wisdom plus the plucky persistence of a toddler.
What are you chasing? What have you not valued that is yours?
The writer of Ecclesiastes sounds much like Huxley to me.
Small matters matter.
More than chasing other, anything other than moon and sun and birds and mud puddles.
“I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14 ESV
I wear a T-shirt quite often, lots of times under a sweatshirt. Soft in color and fabric, across the chest are the words, “known and loved”. Wearing it feels like my little secret, the one thing I want to remember once more.
Once my life was different than it is today. Once there were reasons to fear. Now, there are reasons to embrace not being afraid.
The woman caught in adultery found herself on display, a crowd had shown up to see her stoning. She waited. She knew the law of Moses. She anticipated the punishment.
The men invited Jesus into the discussion, into the abuse. He invited them to consider their own wrongs and sins of a sexual nature.
Telling the group, the one of you who’s never committed such acts, you can go first, I give you permission to commence the stone throwing.
Jesus waited. He wrote in the sand as the tension must have surely risen and the onlookers waited to see which among these men was perfect.
“And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.” John 8:8 ESV
The men turned and walked away, maybe the crowd dispersed. Jesus asked the woman if she realized what had just happened.
Her sin of adultery was known and yet, she escaped death by stoning.
He made sure she understood that she was known and loved, not known and condemned.
Once my life was different. Now I am known and loved.
She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:11 ESV
Walk in the way of forgiveness. Know your heart in light of mercy. Who we are now matters more than who we once were.
Linking up with others prompted by the word “once”.
There’s an odd tree near my home. Its branches are grey and twisted and it half stands half reclines in an empty lot.
It is solitary with only tiny tender pines trying to begin their lives nearby, bright green fan like needles on the skinniest of branches.
I’m not an arborist. I know this tree is old, “gnarly” comes to mind. It has pods of some sort and pale white tiny blooms in the Spring. I’ve yet to see it produce a nut or fruit. It still has a few crinkly leaves furled and scattered.
It has lingered long.
Planted in the empty lot or the lot owned by someone and long neglected.
A decade or so ago I began to notice, this leaning tree keeps staying, fascinating me. It is steady although it has no real reason, not attended to by anyone other than God’s good rain and sun.
I’ve just gotten word from a gallery telling me thanks for your submission, our walls are full.
We have enough for display.
I downgraded from a website for my art to Etsy. The decision surprised me with the ease, and the peace, the still today peace is keeping me.
The desire to be an artist feels like an ache, a wound that keeps reminding you to take it slow, slow movements bring lasting health and renewed fervor.
This I know. The change is internal. I am being refined. I am growing. I know because this time, I have told this change, welcome, come on in, stay a bit.
A crazy thing happened on Sunday morning. I heard a sound above my head and thought, an animal in the attic…a big one. At last, I’d convince my husband and he’d believe me, those squirrels are living above our bed.
Later, I went to make the bed and discovered branches curled against my window. The pretty poplar tree had been uprooted by nature and leaned in a precarious way against our home.
Home alone, I walked out in rain boots and pajamas to see the bulbous root upturned and the trunk resting against a patio table. The discarded table saved our windows and our roof. The tree is now cut into pieces by our sweet son in law and only debris remaining.
I am wondering what caused it to fall.
Today, I read a passage in a devotional referencing a verse about being refined.
I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. Zechariah 13:9
I thought of what it means to be refined, how I’d always equated being refined with having more polish, more finesse, what had been started becoming a final result that stood out from the rest. To be refined would feel as close to perfection as possible, a pleasing object to gaze upon, a showpiece worthy of applause.
I know the metaphor of life’s trials and traumas being a symbol of the fire of the silversmith, the heat melting the substance so that it shines smoothly.
I’m realizing it’s not about shining, the refining God wants us to understand and allow.
It’s an inside transformation, a change in our souls that leads to changes in mindsets and goals.
A change maybe we and God only know.
To be refined, all impurities are removed from a substance, it becomes internally pure.
A Canon named George Body, born in 1840 describes it this way,
“His loving eye is ever eagerly watching for the moment when the purifying work is done. Then, without a moment’s delay, He withdraws the fire, and the purified soul is removed from the furnace. See, again, it is when the image of Christ is reflected in us, so that He can see Himself in us as a mirror. Raise your eyes, then amidst the flames, and see the Face of Jesus watching you.” George Body
Stand like the old tree, stronger because of the nature of its own depth and fiber and because of the refining hand of God.
The strength is inner, the strength that was brave when it said call yourself an artist.
Keep it quiet. Keep it confident. Keep it grounded.