Protected and Loved

Watch this oil painting of an angel guiding a child out of danger in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Sometimes this world throws so much darkness, chaos, confusion, fear, malice, violence and dangerous, heartless tyranny at us that there’s very little left to say. In these times, I feel opposing forces vying for my attention: faith and fear. Fear associates closely with suspicion, resentment, bitterness, anger and ultimately hate. So I must choose faith. Faith leads to trust, forgiveness, grace, peace and ultimately love.

The fires may rage, but we are delivered. We are like this little child led by our Guardian Angel. Or, maybe we are that angel to someone else. We can focus on the fire or believe in deliverance from it. When we believe that we are protected and loved, it is well with our soul. 

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Guardians

Watch this “Guardian Lion” oil painting come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

A guardian lion statue is meant to symbolize prosperity and protection and is usually installed on behalf of a city or a wealthy person’s home. I was inspired to paint a fantasy representation of the resin winged lion statue in Savannah, Georgia. I imagined the lion standing at the edge of a cliff, guarding the land from whatever darkness may threaten its shores.

The real Georgian shoreline isn’t lined with cliffs, but the imagery is meant to universally apply in a spiritual sense, in any way that the viewer chooses. The concept of Guardians is appealing and comforting. Don’t we wish that such a winged lion exists, who will protect us, and keep us prosperous?

Believing in a spiritual protector and a God who blesses us requires faith. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could see something tangible, maybe as obvious as a golden winged lion? And yet, sometimes, faith comes as easily as this. There are times in our lives when darkness and fear overtakes us. In that dark place we may feel absolutely certain of the presence of a spiritual guardian, of angels, divine intervention, and God. 

But when the crisis passes, we may doubt our experience. Always trust yourself and honor the certainty of the presence of divine love, protection, and blessings. Work to hold on to those moments when we have no doubts. Life feels so much easier when we believe that someone is looking out for us.

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Are you Safe?

See oil painting “Guardian Angel” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) I last shared this painting here with you in August, in a

New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

Roaring, Snarling or?

You might remember when I painted the snarling lion in the video above, as it was fairly recently (August). Perhaps you see him as growling

Seasonal Perspective

Watch oil painting “Trees and Stream” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse) When I shared this painting with you in July, I was thinking

Fear

Watch me paint “Forest Fire” in 1 minute (time lapse)

What scares you? Fires, hurricanes, storms, floods, criminal violence, car/plane/train crashes, losing a loved one, medical issues, loss of freedom? Open spaces, closed spaces, heights, water, heat, cold? Social anxiety in a crowd, or isolation when not in one? When things stay the same, or when things change? Finding your own way, or being told what to think?

Faith is about believing even when there is no evidence of our belief. We just “know”. Some call it intuition. Others think of this as a spiritual commitment to hold certain truths in our hearts, never wavering or disloyal to a higher calling. Usually this relates to living a moral life, defined by our personal values. For animals, faith seems much less complicated. Little birds may be literally pushed out of the nest by their mothers, but in a few short seconds they believe that they can fly- and indeed, they can.

When we believe in who we are, and the abilities we were born with, we trust that we can do what we were meant to do. Faith comes easier, requiring no proof of our claims, if we make a spiritual, intellectual, and physical commitment to be true to our purpose. If we believe we are meant to be strong, healthy, and positive for our families and communities, we can act in faith to BE strong, healthy, and positive.

Fear can be a mysteriously beautiful thing, just like an out of control forest fire. When we are afraid, we are aware of how fragile life is, and how vulnerable we are. We are aware of how precious time is. We may see our role in this universe as very small, but each of us are a tiny intersection point on a vast web. We matter. Every life connects to other lives. When we lose a connection point, part of the web falls apart. All of this may come to us in a fuzzy sort of way that we don’t analyze, but on a gut level our focus is sharper when we are afraid.

Fear is an opportunity. Do we rise? Do we respond with cowardice, submission, and defeat? Do we abdicate our responsibilities to others, and let them dictate our lives? When we give up our authority, when we surrender our sovereign self, we allow fear to be an excuse to abandon who we are, to lay down our purpose under the cloak of compliance.

When we choose to rise in the face of fear, some may call it choosing faith over fear. But perhaps it’s more fitting to say that we choose faith through fear. Fear can be an exhilarating journey; when we are aware of death, we are aware of LIFE. Our passion to live may be ignited, cultivated, and utilized to provide lasting change. We may “level up” spiritually, intellectually, and even physically. Mind, body and spirit are always connected. When we elevate in one, we elevate our full selves.

Fear can be a blessing. The choice is ours. Fight for your purpose. Never give in, back down, or give up in the face of fear. Embrace what scares you and stand firmly rooted in who you are. May your responses be in alignment with your core values, and never compromised by the demands of other entities, agendas, or people.

I finally started my new painting today, after two days of planning to do so, but getting distracted by family things. I don’t regret going with the moment and focusing on the family. Awareness of time helps us choose what’s most important. Even though my vocation is very important to me, work is work. It is here today, and gone tomorrow, even if I become successful enough to be legendary. One day my art will mean whatever people want it to mean, with or without me. 

But love is forever. What we invest in people lives on spiritually, eternally. When we experience fear, we understand this concept in a heightened way that is a blessing, should we accept. I accept. I hope you do as well.

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Peace in Chaos

Watch me paint this deer in 2 minutes (time lapse)

You might remember when I shared this painting in April, while it was still fresh on my canvas? This art is a good choice for today’s blog post. Peace and tranquility are part of nature. Does “nature” include human nature? Why not?

Humans are complex beings. As a result, we often overthink things. We can be easily out of balance. Mind, body, and spirit can be skewed too heavily by our thoughts while our bodies and spirits are neglected. When this happens, the stress, worries, and fears that are generated by processing world, community, and personal daily events will dominate us. There is no peace in chaos when we can only see the chaos.

There is no doubt that these are troubled times, but every generation has its share of trouble. Even in extreme chaos, danger, oppression, and war, it is possible to achieve spiritual peace. It helps to study the philosophy, lifestyle habits and beliefs of peaceful people. What traits do such people have in common? What can we observe and attempt to bring into our own lives? How does spiritual peace help us survive hardships and oppression?

Spiritual peace creates strength that is resistant to propaganda, manipulation, steering, and more overt coercion. People who have a peaceful spirit often share these things in common:

  • Spending regular time outdoors
  • Eating nutritious fresh foods
  • Getting regular physical exercise (this can be from daily tasks, not necessarily a planned fitness routine- an active lifestyle may be enough)
  • Sleeping well, playing well, loving well
  • Practicing a personal, intimate faith that one strongly believes in
  • Educating the mind (not just receiving whatever comes through the “news” or social media, but a real focused effort to learn something new, or to study a familiar subject in more depth, learning a new language, contemplating mathematical or scientific concepts, exploring philosophy/sociology/psychology, learning about botany/gardening/homesteading, etc.)

Notice that the first four items on the list are related to the BODY part of the mind/body/spirit equation. Often, if we are dispirited, depressed, anxious, short tempered, or if spiritual peace eludes us in any way, the cause can be traced to something physical. We may be simply overtired. We might be hungry- even if we’ve eaten. When our diets are terrible, we are deficient in the right nutrients to fill us up. We may have a chemical imbalance that can be helped by changing our diets, adding more physical exercise, and better sleeping habits.

These are things that we probably already know, but if you’re like me, you need a reminder to stay focused and on track. The next item on the list refers to spiritual health. It does no good to choose “nothing” or to let ourselves fall into a mindless ritual of religious practice. These things don’t empower us or inspire us. We must dedicate our hearts to an active belief and practice of our personal, deeply connected faith.

Last on the list is the MIND part of the mind/body/spirit equation. The mind drives us, and therefore we must keep it in check. We must make sure that other influences don’t hijack us. The best way to do this, is to take control of our minds by making our own choices about what to fill our brains with. Choose good things, and good things will result.

Learning a new language in the area of literal language (such as a foreign language, sign language, or Braille), or the language of art, music, or numbers, expands our minds while overtaking the “weeds” in our brains. Create new neural pathways by directing your brain toward enlightenment, empowerment, and encouragement. Seek good things and your brain will find them. Not only that, but our minds are capable of modifying our bodies and communicating our desires and habits to our physical self.

Scientists know about neural pathways. Do we know science? Dark powerful entities know science, and their motives for their usage of it are often profit based (profit may be financial, an exchange of power, or something more sinister). What if we were aware of how amazing we are, and took control over our mind, body, spirit?

Psychological warfare only works on a willing victim. If we are not victims, and not willing, this type of abuse doesn’t work on us. Lies have little influence over those who are confident in the truth and in our ability to reason, our skills in logical thinking, and our reliance upon intuition and faith over blind compliance to an authority. Protecting ourselves during these troubled times is about being strong. It is about peace in chaos.

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Are you Safe?

See oil painting “Guardian Angel” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) I last shared this painting here with you in …

Red Flower is REAL

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More Coffee

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New Painting

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Roaring, Snarling or?

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Seasonal Perspective

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A Rose by Any Other Name

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Are your seeds growing?

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Playing a Tune

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Grace Will Lead me Home

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A Month Ago

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Orchard Season

Watch this oil painting of an apple tree branch come to life in 1 minute (time lapse) Have you been enjoying pumpkin …

Seeing the Future

You might remember when I painted this and shared it on the blog in August. At the time I predicted that I’d …

Autumn in 2021

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Settling into October yet?

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New Painting

Watch my new painting “Pumpkin Carving” come to life in just over 2 minutes (time lapse) Father and son enjoying an autumn …

October!

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Experimentation

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Art Imitates Art

Watch this oil painting of a little girl in a tree come to life in under 2 minutes (time lapse) When my …

Update

https://nataliebuskethomas.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/painting-colors-oil-painting-by-natalie-buske-thomas-sept-2019.mp4 Watch this oil painting “Painting Colors” come to life in 1 minute (time lapse) I’ll be working on new projects this …

Thankful Anyway

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Sporting

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Something Different

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Worn

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The Unusual

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New Painting

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Lion of Judah oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

Quiet Lion

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Nutty Day

https://nataliebuskethomas.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/oil-paintng-boiled-peanuts-for-sale-by-natalie-buske-thomas.mp4 Watch this oil painting of an old truck selling boiled peanuts at the road side in 2 minutes (time lapse) Before …

Misery

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Not Again!

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Create or Destroy?

Watch me paint this angel in 2 minutes (time lapse)

A tribute to the Turning Angel monument, built over the graves of five children killed in a factory explosion in the early 1900’s: She was recently vandalized, toppled, and had a broken wing. She is made whole here. This was my first time painting in only black and white, with no color at all. When I first heard about this statue being toppled and damaged, something about it tugged at my heart. When I found out that it was a memorial over the graves of five children, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I looked up the statue to see what it looked like… and decided to paint it. I understand how that feels… to create something to honor the deaths of people, and to have someone destroy it in a hateful action. That beautiful angel statue, installed as a memorial for children who died so tragically young- toppled to the ground with a broken wing…"
- from book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

I know what it’s like to have my art destroyed, and I know what it’s like to be broken as a person. Because we share bits of ourselves when we create, when our creations are destroyed by hateful actions, all of the broken bits of our spirit are remembered and past brokenness is felt anew.

When “activists” (terrorists) listed me for ruination, threats, harassment, and more- committing libel against me and other crimes- they also hacked into my website and deleted my artwork. They uploaded a snarky devil cartoon in place of my blog about my dead parents, deleting this video that I painted in their memory:

My son helped me recover all of the files that they deleted. The original painting was safe. But the violation of my rights and privacy was deeply felt. They had seen my personal files that were stored in the non-public areas of my site, including pictures of my family, my children. They knew where I lived.

This is the complete handcrafted, handpainted nativity set that my parents made. It is the only thing I have left that is in this picture. Everything else- all of it- including the furniture, candles, decorations, and tree are all gone. We kept only a few of the small ornaments from the tree and the nativity set. Everything else was sold… including this house that we’d built after many years of working hard to earn it.

I’ve blogged bits and pieces about our journey of starting over, but that’s not the focus of this post. What I’m trying to share is that my heartfelt post about that nativity set and my painting video of it, held many layers of profound emotion. It represented a bittersweet letting go of painful loss, while honoring who I lost, and the life I lost.

When I chose to share such an intimate part of my spirit, it was my intellectual property alone. Deleting it was theft. When the devil cartoon was inserted in its place, it was a hate crime against not only my faith, but also a desecration of my parents. They have no grave to visit, as both chose to be cremated. I honored them with my public words and art. Terrorists destroyed my memorial.

So, when I heard about the “Turning Angel” memorial being destroyed, it touched my heart. I can only imagine the pain of those parents who lost their child that day. It happened long ago, and it’s unknown (to me) if any of the remaining families still feel that grief to this day. But even if no one from the current generation was deeply effected by the attack on the memorial, I believe that the energy of hate and destruction has an impact on humanity as a whole.

As humans, do we create or destroy?

Do we build each other up or tear each other down?

Do we say a kind word, or give a backhanded compliment?

Do we favor sarcasm and dry humor more often than whimsy and silliness? In other words, does “humor” become an excuse for mean-spirited interactions and exchanges that create pessimism?

Do we choose dark over light, or light over dark?

We don’t have to literally destroy an angel, breaking her wings as she topples to the ground. We don’t have to delete baby Jesus and a poignant story about dead parents. No, often when we destroy what others create the method is much more subtle. We don’t even always see evidence of it. There are no broken wings or snarky devil cartoons to show what we’ve done.

When someone creates a joyful spirit that fills the space of the room, and we destroy it with one unkind word, we destroy what others have created. We can do this without saying a word as well. All it takes is giving someone the silent treatment, the cold shoulder, or displaying a rude expression on our faces. In one second, the spiritual wings break.

The thought I kept going back to is that the person(s) who deleted my blog posts and my art had seen the story of why I painted that nativity set. Perhaps they didn’t read it carefully, but surely parts of it would have reached their minds. Why choose a devil cartoon? I truly can’t imagine seeing the grieved heart of a fellow human and choosing to delete their private pain that they’d decided to publicly share. It took several steps to hack into my site and do this, and they did it over the course of two days, with multiple messages left for me. The point is, they had time to reconsider their actions, yet still chose to hurt me in this way. It wasn’t a spontaneous action, but one that was done with full intention.

My guess is that these were young people who would have been too cowardly to confront me to my face, but perhaps not. It’s a dark soul who shows no empathy for another, who places one’s own agenda ahead of the grief of a fellow human being. It is this sociopath tendency that is quite chilling. To various degrees, we all have the capacity to destroy without empathy. How far would we go to destroy someone?

I believe that when we create, we aid in the redemption of the human spirit. We counter the heart of man that is capable of wickedness, by sharing something of ourselves. Creation is more powerful than destruction. While one unkind word is felt more deeply than a chorus of praise, in the end good always wins. The solution to destruction is creation. The solution to hate is never more hate. That’s not what justice is.

We live in an unfair world. Life is unkind. That’s how it has been since the beginning of time, and how it will always be. There’s good and bad; joy and pain, and sometimes we cause these hardships ourselves by oppressing each other or by allowing others to grow powerful enough to become an entity that oppresses us all. 

We don’t set the wrongs right by hurting each other. We set them right by pioneering new ways to make the world a better place, and standing strong in the truth. Justice is about holding people accountable who are directly responsible for committing crimes. It’s not about acts of terrorism to coerce change through hurting innocent people. It is not about changing the definition of “innocent” until it excuses targeting people who have legally committed no crimes. Somewhere along the way, society decided that terrorism is OK and hate is OK, if we agree with the cause. Once we allow mobs to decide what the law means, we have no protection from destruction of ideas, property, and lives.

Terrorism is never legal, even if the cause is (supposedly) just. Terrorism is always criminal. People innocent of a criminal act are always legally innocent, and cannot legally be judged guilty for wrong thoughts, wrong associations, wrong beliefs, or having been born in the wrong type of body. A society that sanctions lawlessness destroys itself, as there is no protection for anyone- especially the vulnerable who are then twice victimized.

I was afraid for a while. I feared that they’d come after me again at any moment. But I’ve discovered that I’m not only a survivor of life’s hardships, but a fighter. I put my painting of baby Jesus back on my site, and I continued to paint more art featuring Jesus.

When we live unafraid, we don’t give in to terrorists. We continue to share organically, without self-censorship. We openly express love through the generosity of our creations. Stay strong. Humanity needs each and every one of you. Create loving words. Be that light in the darkness. The difference you make is incalculable. Don’t let hate intimidate you. Love is always stronger than hate- always.

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

Read More »

Autumn in 2021

Watch oil painting “Autumn Tree” come to life in under 2 minutes This short project began with an abstract background. Next, while it was still

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New Painting

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New Painting

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Lion of Judah oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

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Not Again!

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History

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Things we See

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Inspiring

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Sunday Rest

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Are you a lion or a lamb?

Watch me paint this lion and lamb art in 2 minutes (time lapse)

A person of faith is meant to have the characteristics of both a lion and a lamb: mighty in spirit while also humble and merciful. But sometimes the balance is thrown. We may struggle to be strong, or struggle to be forgiving.

Character Checklist

The quest for balance in our lives is an everyday struggle, but we can see it as a challenge rather than a hardship. Sometimes all it takes is an attitude adjustment. How we talk to ourselves matters.

Attitude Checklist

  • When I have low energy, am I lazy or am I tired? If I’m lazy, I need to push myself. If I’m tired, I need to give myself permission to rest.
  • When I am passive, is it because I am cowardly and apathetic, or is it because I am wisely staying clear? I need to be honest in my assessment and then act according to my conscience.
  • When I don’t stand up to people, is it because I’m graceful, or is it because I fear uncomfortable situations? Am I avoiding a confrontation? If so, perhaps that’s a wise decision. Perhaps it’s simply the easiest one.

When mired in self-examination, we may forget that we need to treat our neighbors as OURSELVES. Therefore, if we treat ourselves badly, we won’t be up to the challenge of treating others well. We must show ourselves mercy and grace. We must hold ourselves accountable in strong leadership. We must defend ourselves as a mighty warrior of character.

When we show goodness, kindness and mercy to ourselves, we learn how to express these things to others. When we protect ourselves, we train to protect others. Mercy begins at home.

When I’m unsure of what to do, I ask myself “is this an action of faith or fear?” If I’m aligned with the character and attitudes of a lion and a lamb, then my decision is based on faith. If I’m not adhering to those traits, then I’m likely responding in fear. 

Fear is a healthy and normal response, but our actions cannot be ruled by it. Fear is a close cousin to vanity, narcissism, selfishness, and sociopath leanings; as fear can be the foundation for behaviors that place self over others, breeding a lifestyle that is devoid of empathy. When we put our own fears and concerns over the well-being of others, it’s a fast and slippery slope to malice. Apathy and indifference lead to hatred, as it is easy to hate those for whom we care nothing for, and have dehumanized in our hearts. We no longer see each other as people when all we see is a potential threat to ourselves.

We choose faith over fear when we choose love over hate. While dehumanizing leads to apathy, indifference, and eventually hatred, the opposite is true as well. When we see humanity in each other, we feel responsibility and connection. Kindness and the traits of the lamb are more easily cultivated when we grow close to each other. While it is unrealistic to love everyone with the same kind of passion that we love our family and dearest friends, there is a type of love that shows mercy. This is the love we give when we are as lambs.

When the rights of the lambs to live gracefully in peace are threatened, the lions must defend them. All of us are pressed upon to be both a lion and a lamb in character, but not always in corresponding action. Decisions about actions require discernment. Put any concerns to meditation, prayer, and careful listening for answers. Compare your responses to the checklists in this post. Be bold like a lion: act decisively when you know what to do. Be merciful like a lamb: if you are mistaken, forgive yourself.

When we do our best, that’s good enough.

When we live our best, that’s good enough.

Hold yourself to high standards, but be merciful when you judge yourself.

Be as brave as a lion, but as gentle as a lamb- not only to others, but first to yourself.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

Read More »

Autumn in 2021

Watch oil painting “Autumn Tree” come to life in under 2 minutes This short project began with an abstract background. Next, while it was still

Read More »

New Painting

Watch my new painting “Pumpkin Carving” come to life in just over 2 minutes (time lapse) Father and son enjoying an autumn custom of cleaning

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New Painting

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Lion of Judah oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

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Not Again!

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Happy Grief?

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Melancholy

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History

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Inspiring

My oil painting of my daughter reading in the butterfly garden… this one doesn’t have a video because I painted this before I started filming

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Sunday Rest

Watch this Irish Angel oil painting come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) The image in the video above is a photograph of

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Not Much to Say

This oil painting is called “Silenced”. I originally painted it to express what it feels like to be censored, blacklisted, etc., but as it often

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Are you wearing armor?

Watch me paint “Armor of God” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground"
- Ephesians 6

The passage goes on to describe the armor as a belt of Truth, a breastplate of Righteousness, shoes of Readiness that comes from the gospel of Peace, a shield of Faith, a helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. The passage concludes with a plea to pray all kinds of prayers and requests. So, when referring to armor, we don’t mean to protect us physically, but spiritually.

Are you wearing armor?

Here are the spiritual protection words from the above passage, as defined by The Free Dictionary. These words are worth pondering.

 

  1. Truth: “Conformity to fact or actuality”
  2. Righteousness: “In accordance with virtue or morality”
  3. Readiness: “Prepared; willingness to do something”
  4. Peace: “Quiet, calm; the absence of war”
  5. Faith: “Confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing”
  6. Salvation: “Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil; redemption”
  7. Spirit: “A force or principle believed to animate living beings; The Holy Spirit; the part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings”

How you define these words of spiritual protection, and how you apply them to the situations in your life, will change from day to day. A good exercise is to revisit this reflection from time to time. But for now, how are you feeling today? Today is all that is guaranteed, and today is your primary concern.

Notice that all of the spiritual protections describe ways to guard your individual human self from being mislead, exploited, and steered away from what we know to be true, moral, and loyal to what we believe. It takes courage to remain strong in who we are when the powers of this dark world mock us and tear us down. But a knight has courage, does he not? He may stand alone against an army with nothing but his armor and sword.

The difference here, is that you are not alone. There are more of us humans who have empathy for each other and wish goodness and prosperity for all people, than there are those who want to control us and steal our life’s energy and labor for themselves. Those who choose to break the spirit of others, so that they may enslave us for their own enrichment are few. We are many. WE are part of your armor.

Be Strong!
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Do, then See

Watch me paint “Redwing Blackbirds” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

First the inspiration for this art, then the update. When we say yes to a project, action, task, journey, or relationship, we then see things we’ve never seen before.

“When sharing a painting that was inspired by a dream about the birth of my son ("Blue and Yellow Bird"), someone spontaneously said his favorite bird is the Redwing Blackbird. He couldn’t possibly have known that my son was born in a small town called Red Wing. The serendipity of that conversation was so startling, that it inspired this Redwing Blackbird painting, in which the birds seem to be in a conversation that only God understands.”

- from the book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

The story from here gets pretty wild… This past week I was working on a project about serendipity and divine intervention, signs of hope and connection, and other spiritually mysterious events that bring hope to individuals, such as special connections to loved ones who have passed away. I’m nervous about this project because it has the potential to be shared with a wide audience (part of a new publishing platform that I was invited to participate in, I will have no control over its audience).  

One of the stories in the project is about my cousin. The timing of this segment was serendipitous in and of itself because I was prompted to submit the story the same week that would have been her birthday. The story (which I will share at a later time) involved our sons, who had been born on the same date ten years apart. 

Immediately after submitting my story about my cousin and our sons, I received a new email. The first word in the subject line was her son’s name! How did that happen? 

When my eyes first saw it, I was in a sleepy state, having just finished writing and proofing the story and in need of some tea. So, for the first second, my brain thought, “oh no, I didn’t intend to use her son’s name!” For privacy reasons I’d referred to him only as her son. My fuzzy brain thought I was still on the story submission page for the project!

But no, the project window was closed out after I hit the submit button. This was my email window. It was a random message, a marketing teaser for an impersonal mass-mailing newsletter. It had nothing whatsoever to do with me, as it wasn’t a personal email. Her son’s name isn’t common, but it is of Biblical origin. The sales email referred to a Bible story to illustrate a marketing principle that barely made sense. The story didn’t have much of a connection to the point the author was making, so it really did seem as if her son’s name appeared for no logical reason and out of nowhere, to land in my inbox at precisely that moment. 

The odds of her son’s name being the first line of the email I saw immediately after hitting “send” on the story was very slim, slim enough to defy logic and probability. I told my daughter about this and she said, “Must be she approves” (my late cousin approves of the story I wrote about us and our sons). It was a sweet thought, and I hope that’s true. Confirmation of this may have come yesterday…

Yesterday was her birthday, and you’ll never guess what I saw! I saw a bird that I’ve not yet seen here. Not only did I see that bird, but a whole flock of them. Only one stood out as strikingly beautiful though, heavenly even! I gasped when I saw it and could barely get the words out to tell my family to look, look, look!

It was a glorious redwing blackbird! All of the birds in the flock looked like the ones in my painting, except for one bird that landed last. The sun hit his feathers and he nearly glowed with radiance! He had a vibrant yellow streak on his wings, in addition to the red and white markings. This vivid neon yellow is what flashed when the sun hit his wings. 

You might recall that the Redwing Blackbirds painting connects to my earlier art “Blue and Yellow Bird” (a bird that doesn’t actually exist in real life). The yellow bird dream is a story about my son that I plan to write about in the next installment of the same project that features my cousin and our sons. I was dithering about whether that story should be in the project, but now I’m convinced I should commit to it.

I’m still amazed by what happened, and it would make even more sense if I shared the full story, but I’ll keep this brief. The message on my heart to share with you is this: “Do, then See”. Sometimes we are given an opportunity to do something, and we don’t feel any strong connection to the project, volunteer position, task, job, event, travel opportunity, or relationship. It may not even be entirely our choice, as the situation is born out of hardship or circumstance. But if we make the commitment to do it anyway, we may then see how meaningful our action is, and how it relates and connects to other pieces of a marvelous and mysterious puzzle.

“Seeing” is not usually so literal, with the sudden appearance of a spiritually meaningful rare bird landing just a few feet from where I was standing! I can’t promise heavenly sightings that instantly validate our decisions, but when they happen, they take our breath away! The effect of it never lasts long though, and our human doubts creep back in like the tide. Most of the time, we must have faith without the fancy spiritual appearance of birds, butterflies, rainbows, and other signs that people commonly feel encouraged by.

“Seeing” happens after we’ve done what has been offered to us to do; after we’ve had the faith to see it through, especially if we initially had no reason to believe that our action would prove to be meaningful, beneficial, special, or fruitful in any way. Perhaps our rather ordinary action will simply be another task to tick off our lists. But nothing we create, do, or share is in isolation. Every interaction with this world has a reaction. We may not always see it, but sometimes we DO.

It may take many years for something we’ve put into motion to be seen and felt by us. It can take a great deal of faith to remain loyal to a person, action, or path. But if you know in your heart that what you’re doing is what you are meant to do, believe it. Do, then see.

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

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