change, comfort zone, follow God, God first, influence, living in fear, relationships

remembering

While doing more wallpapering I was remembering so many things. The spare room was once called the office and where I would do my college study. That same season my first exchange student came. With the second one, we painted the room and she helped to create some wonderful floral work on the walls that stayed for 16 years.

It was time for change. Time for new.

Belen – Segovia, Spain – Student #3

I think of the words in Philippians 3 – it talks about forgetting what is past but I know I will not forget it all, not when I remember how it has made me more in His image.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Phil 3:12-14

Often we are afraid of change. I definitely had some fear in having kids in my house and life when I’ve never raised my own. But God…. He had given me some warning and definitely a lot of grace as I learned how to be a friend to someone from another culture and a pseudo parent. Four short term students later and I was heading to Haiti where I was the foreigner …. memories.

God did not create us to just be satisfied with how things are or always desiring to go back to the way they were, He has called us to follow Him which seldom comes with the best road map. Do you think the Israelite’s could have wandered less years?

Memories – of learning flexibility, acceptance of different ideals, communicating simply and honoring how others feel or believe. So much more…

Thank you God that you use everything in our lives to teach us Your better ways. Guide us today to remember and yet to press on toward all that you have called us to!

being yourself, blessings, Holy Spirit, hope, relationships, renewal, self help, trust

why hope if you have

I’m hearing the word HOPE a lot lately. From some it’s like a cross your fingers and just maybe if we have extreme luck something MIGHT just happen. Others are firm in their hope. Trusting in a level that is infectious.

The many variations of hope isn’t really the issue, but what is that hope focused on…

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

I really feel its time for our HOPE to GROW!
Time to really know that we are not cast offs but grafted in children of God.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Romans 8:18-21

I do love Romans 8. A few years ago a group gathered to study it further. We realized that in so many ways we were waiting for these things to be real when Jesus comes again or when our earthly life is done. But the creation is speaking loudly NOW that we as children of God really need to start living on earth as it is in heaven. We weren’t just saved for a blessed death. We were chosen to be disciples here and now.

In the coming weeks, take some time in Romans 8 and seek further what it means to live according to the Spirit – not the flesh.
Ask God what it means for your life that the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you? Romans 8:11

We have been living in only a fraction of our true identity in Christ. The time is coming when we are going to need to know what our relationship and identity is really about and use it in every moment.

I bless you with wisdom and understanding as you seek His ways and truth for your life. That You will see yourself with new eyes – the eyes of the Father reflecting to you just how much you are made in His image. And He says it is good! That isn’t something you have to hope for – its something you already have!

attitude, blessings, day to day, encouragement, God is faithful, hope, living in fear, peace, ponderings, trust

enjoy the clouds

My painting “Through the Clouds” is with an online gallery and was being featured last week. I found a quote to go with the post that left me thinking further on clouds.

It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.
Henry David Thoreau

Through the Clouds – encaustic oil and hot wax 12×12

What do you see through the clouds?

I felt so much more on clouds and not just with this painting. Clouds of covid, candidates, colors and cares. So much clouding our joy, our vision, our hope. Are we trusting only in what we see, what’s in the news, what our friends or family say? Are we focusing so much on the clouds, yet missing the purpose of them?

We MUST have clouds for rain, for covering from the intensity of the sun. Even the rainbow comes through the clouds.

Many verses on clouds came to mind too. Here are a few to think about.
Exodus 13:21 And the Lord went before them in a pillar of cloud to guide their way by day, and in a pillar of fire to give them light at night, so that they could travel by day or night.

1 Corinthians 10:1 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud, and that they all passed through the sea.

Genesis 9:13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (and how long does a covenant last? hmmmm)

John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Hope and promise are not found only in sunshine but even in the clouds and most certainly in His Word.

Thank you Lord that Your words are anchors we can rely on when the storm tossed waters are beating at our door. Your covenant has not stopped even if we have been wandering or wondering. Help us to discover the blessings and the promises that are always there even when we can’t see clearly through the clouds. Open our eyes to see how you are parting the sea and guiding us day and night for safe passage through it all ….

attitude, blessings, hope, negative words, seeing beyond, worship

Surroundings

The past few years have definitely changed my perspective. Full-time work as a buyer from international places is definitely different than being self-employed and serving international ministries. As I work from home again but for an employer, the dynamics of years ago are not quite there. I am still finding working at home a good shift during this season.

I’m actually finding many good things this year! Though distractions come in a variety of ways.

-Amazing youtube worship can fill the air since I don’t share the office with eight others.
-I can pray or sing and not bother co-workers but still be connected via messaging.
-Zoom calls and facetime – so you can see each other unmasked.
-News – I have the choice on what I want to hear. Some days a headline is enough.
-Cats become like glue when you are there daily. (I do miss escaping from cat hair.)
-Sweater or thermostat? A bit more control.
-FRESH AIR!! I love open windows!

It really is our choice for perspective, isn’t it?

Do I want my knowledge to be what darkness is covering the earth or how the light is showing in brighter ways?

Today, I definitely opt for LIGHT!

John 1:4-5 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

What surrounds us does not have to decide for us.
May you feel you have the choice today!

day to day, encouragement, faith, future dreams, God is faithful, renewal, trust

restart

When you haven’t blogged in so long, where do you restart?

ANY where!

My journals are overloaded. My home has gotten more attention in 2020 than when I first purchased it and so many things collected and stored over the years have vacated the premises! I’m not done yet – weaving loom and kayak went this month and definitely more to go.

Restoring Waters – oil on canvas Psalm 23

It’s been quite a season of purging, pruning and preparing. I’m not sure which is harder.

As I went through multiple file cabinets, bookshelves and closets – memories were flooding. Some days were difficult. The house often seemed more of a mess as I was “cleaning” out. Doing my office work from home was helpful and gave more time to the tasks but some days it also made it harder not having much of an escape from the feelings that would flood.

Files, manuals, books and more were shredded and recycled while the weather was still in coolness. Years of ministry, history and dreams that seemed to have unnatural deaths were released. Walls, windows, ceilings, doors were painted as sunshine started to warm things this spring. I had one winter project of wallpaper and paint in the kitchen, I never expected to do so much more. Spring/Summer project was to paint the outside of my house. Windows were done last fall and some testing of new color on the aluminum siding of the garage. I felt comfortable to BEGIN on the house. With a few weeks of reduced hours and time saved from traveling to the office, I have most of the exterior painted. A dream for years that finally will come to be!

Yes – pandemic and distancing is impacting but it doesn’t have to stop us from life and accomplishing dreams. I am really feeling the NEW God has in store has a place to come to life! I’ve done my part for the new wine skin and He has definitely been doing His part in preparing me too!

Dare to dream again – so many of our limitations are in our own thoughts and the words we speak of limitations.

Dare to believe in His immeasurably more! All things are possible – will you believe?

ponderings

no copyrights

Are you really protective of your ideas, writings, songs, art, or more?

Sometimes that is worth it. I have worked at companies that regularly filed patents and copyrights and I know it has its place.

But God… God’s ways are a little different from the worlds. He does want us to copy but to do it rightly. That requires us to copy the right person – HIM! We are often following after “men” instead of after God. It will get us somewhere but not necessarily where we need to be.

Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Paul goes on to share some of the ways not to act and places not to copy. I myself spent so many years working how not to be judging of others instead of just working on loving them better. I wasted more effort than needed in trying to control something instead of just giving something. Help us Lord!

I pray in those though tough spots you are encountering, you will find it easier and easier to copy the ways of God in loving others well and extravagantly! The royalties will be endless!

ponderings

joy strengthens

Years ago a friend gave me a Christmas ornament. A carved wooden piece of the word JOY. It’s been hanging in my kitchen year round ever since. Yesterday I was remembering that I didn’t look further in the bag until weeks later and found $100 that was with the ornament and I had missed it!

bring joy

Today I was thinking about the words, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” I have heard them said many times yet, if we read in Nehemiah 8 where the words come from, we might question how that could be a part of the conversation.

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” 12 So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.

They were listening from morning to noon daily to the words of the Law. Also as was customary at that time, they were standing during the reading. That might seem like some long and possibly disheartening times.

I like how they were encouraged to recognize the goodness in God’s words and to celebrate. Sometimes when I am reading the bible a lot of emotion comes to the surface that isn’t about celebrating. Yet we are blessed to have more of the story. The bigger picture of Jesus coming in the flesh to satisfy with his sacrifice on the cross what could not be fulfilled by us following the law. That is definitely worth celebrating.

I pray that as you read God’s word, you’ll keep in mind the faithfulness of our Father to cancel all of our sin, past, present and future through the death and resurrection of Christ our Savior. I don’t know if its limited teaching in much of this world or just our minds and hearts that keep us believing the lies that we are unworthy, still guilty and need to walk in shame. That isn’t what Father, Son and Spirit had in mind and His word regularly says that those that trust in the Lord will not be put to shame.

I think it is very much like me holding on to that ornament and being satisfied with that piece of wood when God had more in the gift bag for me!

I pray as you dig deeper – you find some great surprises and promises in His Word!

ponderings

clarity

In August, I took an online course on CLARITY @The Grove Center for Arts and Media. I’ve read author Joey O’Conner’s blog a bit for several years and it was the perfect timing to refocus for what is now and what is to come.

Where’s Your Focus?

Clarity – the state of being clear.

We are often in confusion and muddy waters in places in our life. Wondering why, what, who or where. In our current world, how can anyone be really clear?

Hanging onto hope is important. Knowing where to place our hope, even more so! It’s not in a building, a president or a police force, its in the Savior.

The world is in a tough spot but I know with certainty that God’s guidance will pull all of us through to a better place. For me it will include creative things that bring hope, love and challenge to others. Since this echos the walk of Jesus, I also find comfort in that hope and purpose.

Last year brought both internal and external hard drive crashes with much of my data, art photos and writings lost or in a mystery code I will have to personally resave each file. Daunting task. Yes, some big moments of mourning how easy it used to be to access. That data will need a lot of help to find clarity and right now, I don’t have the heart to try and rebuild the past. I’m putting my energy and focus on what God has for the future.

He has good plans in store – for me and for you! We may hear talk of the end of the world but until that time – let’s press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us! We ALL have more to bring to the table and Jesus assures us it’s a table prepared for us even in the presence of our enemies.

Take heart – HE HAS overcome the world!

ponderings

what is to come

Glorious – oil on canvas SOLD

Today was definitely a day of pondering what will life be like post pandemic?
What do I really want to accomplish with the rest of my years?
Do the dreams I have for my life really matter to the world?

Some of these answers aren’t so clear to me so I journal, create, and talk with God more. The thankfulness for what has been and hope for what is to come overtakes the doubts that try to keep me from living in fullness. I pray. I listen. I worship. I have had some intense days of thankfulness and questioning.

Shut down and shut in makes one really think about what was, what is and what will be.

I admit some days I feel more like Solomon in thinking so much is meaningless so just eat, drink and be merry. But I find more “merry” times when with others and in personal conversation. The past several weeks have been a joy to share more through an online creative group, time with close friends for an annual cookout and a postponed family wedding finally coming together. No matter what is to come, I know that relationships need presence. Facetime and zoom are not quite the same!

Psalm 139 speaks so well this this time…

1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

I pray through this week you will find the presence of the Lord in a deeper way. That you will know that His thoughts for you are filled with love, hope and peace. While the world may seem to spin around you, He is a solid foundation you can rely on!

ponderings

the foxes

bloom 6×6 encaustic wax & pigment

Last year I had several fox encounters. Not all live but multiple days of hearing and reading on Song of Solomon 2:15
Catch for us the foxes,
    the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
    our vineyards that are in bloom.

In my life, when I have things repeat – my mind questions. Then a live one walked down my driveway one darkish morning. I knew it was not a cat, dog, or skunk. The gait, the bbig fluffy tail and the ears that were much bigger than a cat. Thinking all of this a little strange I prayed.

I was asking God why all of this fox talk?
What foxes are in my vineyards?
Is it something in me or around me?
What message to You have for me in this Lord?

Lately it has felt like the little foxes are surrounding the area again. They might come as thoughts of self defeat, comments by others perceived as a threat in someway or even some extreme frustrations, oppression or disappointments.

Recognizing them is the biggest and now easiest part of the battle in keeping them from the vineyard! We don’t have to allow them to stay!

A few days after the sighting last year, I saw a dead fox on the side of the road a couple blocks from my house as I went to work. In suburbia – not a normal site but also felt it was God saying I had learned well how to spot them and keep them away with His help.

Lord – thank you for the many ways you help us to recognize the foxes that are trying to ruin things for us. Help us to know our identity in You and our authority through You in the vineyards given to our care. Guide us as we bloom!

ponderings

promise of rest

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

“Exploring” sold

I find it curious how different devices have different verses of the day. Today – I needed to hear that no matter what age – I’m not done yet! God is still for me no matter my age (or gray). The timing was perfect as I met to discuss a new adventure with a fellow ministry person. Daring to imagine something new and learn more things of this world to accomplish it. You are the BEST encourager GOD!

10 I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.’
11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
    from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
    what I have planned, that I will do. Isaiah 46:10-11

I pray you too will see new fruit, new ideas, new hope for what is ahead. Resting in His promises and plans is the best place to be!

ponderings

foundation of rest

Rest is a word that comes regularly. I know its not just a matter of our body position but one of being at rest. Body, soul and spirit finding calmness and focus even in the midst of chaos.

Serenity – oil and coldwax

Some days – its not so easy.

That’s also when I know that I need to adjust my focus and foundation. To rely on ourselves or others, we will find disappointment frequently. To really remember WHO God is – that brings true rest.

Psalm 62
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

ponderings

elusive rest

Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

I don’t always find Psalms to be soothing and reassuring. David regularly is asking GOD, “Where are you?” And GOD felt David a man after His own heart.

So many unknowns – God never forsakes, yet David accuses just as we still continue to do. Will we ever truly understand on while on this earth the reason for delayed or seeming unanswered prayers? I don’t think they are without effect. And I will be like the persistent widow!

One of the best lessons for me from David is how he always used God’s TRUTHS in his prayers too. Regularly His Word says those who trust in Him will not be put to shame.

I pray you will find REST in the promises of His Word and His Presence will bring you peace that surpasses your understanding and guards your heart and mind from.

ponderings

being at rest

A very full weekend with postponed wedding finally taking place and gathering with extended family who felt comfortable with coming. A sunset along Lake Michigan as the waves reacted to the winds of the day before and the storm arrived the following day. A little rain at the ceremony but dry again for a day at a campgroud. A beautiful time of refreshing as house projects were put on hold and the art of “being” was embraced.

Our world so often requires us to be in constant movement and yet a storm, sickness or pandemic can stop all plans.

Jesus says in Matthew 11, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In the midst of busy times, when boredom seems to consume, go to God! He longs to bring the refreshing you need. He is the lifter of our heads. Those who hope in Him will not be put to shame. He is trustworthy, generous, faithful and above all – never changes His character.

I pray this week you will feel that extra peace of His presence as you consciously say, “Here I am Lord. I need you today.”

ponderings

equality in his eyes

I know I have often used Proverbs as a measuring stick for others. Complainers, gossips and negative talk exist all around us. We can feel justified when we encounter a verse like Prov 22:10 “Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down; you need a break from bickering and griping!” Then feel helpless since you don’t have authority to kick them out!

Back to the Beginning – oil and coldwax on panel 18×24

I’m finding one of the best things to do is pray for them. Not “God change them,” but more “God bless them indeed! Let them encounter your love in such a way that they too understand how much better life is without that junk!”

Vs 1 – A sterling reputaion is better than striking it rich;
a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.

Vs 2 – The rich and the poor shake hands as equals –
God made them both!

Getting revenge, complaining about complainers – that is not a gracious spirit. It is not making things on earth as they are in heaven. It’s not a good example.

Vs 4 – The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God
is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.

Vs 9 – Generous hands are blessed hands
because they give bread to the poor.

I love how Graham Cooke has talked about those who try to ruin your day – send them a blessing! Write it down, send it to their home, don’t sign it and just pray God’s goodness. That I would call meekness and giving bread to the poor who don’t know they are.

vs 11 – God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken;
good leaders also delight in their friendship.

Labor day weekend arrives again. I pray you find refreshing and encouragement from God in each hour of each day! If you are encountering others who might be testing that, I pray peace finds you quickly with prayers that will bless them. That you yourself are blessed and satisfied through ALL He gives freely!