Nature’s Music

See oil painting “Dancer in a Floral Forest” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This painting was an experiment. A talented indie composer shared his work online and I asked if I could use it to paint what I see when I listen to his beautiful composition. This was the result.

It’s hard for me to put into words what this emotion is. It’s when we have a peaceful soul that can’t be shaken by temporary circumstances, earthly hardships, or any other setback. It’s a state of being that is expressed by “it is well with my soul”. And then, one day, a beautiful laugh is shared between loved ones, or a spontaneous encounter in nature occurs- like seeing a rose opening, a butterfly or hummingbird flitting past, or deer curiously peeking at us from a clearing- or we hear good news that changes our lives forever, and that’s when this joyful moment melds with a peaceful soul: our happiness bubbles over, creating freedom that dances in a floral forest.

Today I experienced a few moments that felt alive with such energy that it was “almost” time for a dance like that. I am so close to being HOME after so many years of temporary living. It’s still not a done deal and it could all fall through, but what if- no matter how horribly this forced move journey began- everything goes according to plan? Let the dance begin!


New Painting

Watch this oil painting “Tribute to Truckers” come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse)

I’ll add this one to the site soon. I wanted to get it out there fast so it’s only on 3rd party platforms for now (YouTube, BitChute, Rumble, and I might do a couple more). May the Freedom Convoy stay safe and send the message that the abuse must end.

oil painting “Tribute to Truckers” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

History

Watch this oil painting of the day (July 23, 2020) that the Statue of Liberty in New York City looked to have been struck by a lightning bolt, go from blank canvas to finished art

in about 2 minutes (time lapse).

It’s easy to feel as if this amazing and powerful weather event is something more, something metaphorical, symbolic- a portent perhaps. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know me as mainly a nature and faith painter, not a historical or political one. But sometimes I am deeply moved by something that happens and I put it to canvas. 

In this way, I feel that I contribute to a time capsule of sorts, and one day my work might be included when people of the future study this period in history. I believe that I represent a perspective that is marginalized, while the overwhelmingly recorded view is falsely promoted as “marginalized” work that needs more attention. No, untrue. There is an agenda that is recruited, and there is certainly no shortage of opportunities for those artists who fall in line. What we are missing is something real, beyond the propaganda and the ideology of those who control art and free speech.

I paint what I feel, period. I do not answer to anyone. I do not bend. If it means that I will be forever an entrepreneur doing solo shows, that’s fine by me, because I love having creative freedom. I believe strongly that we need artists who create an authentic witness of history to add to the time capsule of collective works that will one day be discovered by others. We need more sides to a story, more perspectives, more shades, more authenticity, more truth, and more empathy for how it feels to be a human being living in this age. I am blessed to use my talents for this purpose, and I hope that many more will be inspired to join me in adding genuine personal perspectives so that the future isn’t written by those who wish to control us, but is recorded by those who want to set us free.

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New Painting – “Alabama Landscape”

Oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas “Alabama Landscape”. Watch Natalie paint this art in less than 2 minutes (time lapse video). New painting for September 2022.

New Painting Finished!

If you’ve been following the progress of my new oil painting “Walking in Rain Puddle”, you’ll be happy to know that it is now finished

Back to Work! Session 3

Well, it’s time to get back to work on the new painting in progress. Normally I wait until the painting is finished before sharing, but

Today’s Painting

LOL! It looks like my daughter (girl in the painting) is afraid of my fan brush in this still photo I lifted from the video!

New Painting in Progress

I don’t often show my paintings until they are done, but I thought you’d like to know what I’m working on since there’s been a

New month, new direction!

Did you click on the image above? I’ve painted enough art now to re-design this website and sort by categories! This will be more fun

Hymn for Cardinal Painting

As promised, I’ve put together a singing video with the lyrics for the instrumental hymn that was in yesterday’s painting video. Maybe you already know

Go Light your World

This is the song that is featured in my oil painting “Candle and Bible” video. The music in the time lapse video is an instrumental

New Painting

See this oil painting come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse video). Note: if you read my blog via e-mail, my videos probably won’t

Hymn for Lighthouse Painting

The painting video I shared yesterday included a piano instrumental version of “In Christ Alone”. My daughter (standing behind my chair) was kind enough to

Happy 4th of July!

See this oil painting “Americana” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video), or view the longer version in the 4th of July show. This

New Painting – “Lighthouse”

The song in the video is a piano instrumental version of the hymn “In Christ Alone”. “In Christ Alone” In Christ alone my hope is

New Painting!

See this osprey come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse video). My new art area is now fully set up and I should be

Happy Father’s Day!

I’m finally working on a new painting. I’ll share it on Wednesday. My daily blog has fallen behind since our sudden, unexpected move. I’m still

New Painting, Finally!

I’m finally back to work after our big sudden, unexpected move. The move took wild turns and we ended up buying a house at least

Want to go to Church?

If you watched the above video (a clip from this year’s Easter Show), you saw how emotional I was while singing the cover of “I

New Art Journey

I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings,

New Cardinal Friends

New birds have already found us at our new home. These cardinals are different, as I knew they’d be. When I was sad about leaving

I’m HOME!

All moved in and my Internet is up. Did you miss me? I missed you! I’ll catch up when I can. Just wanted to post

Moving Day!

This looks nothing like the house we’re closing on, but our house IS in Savannah. I had no idea when I painted this several years

Art I Don’t Like

Watch this yellow butterfly painting come alive

in about 2 minutes (time lapse)

What we see and feel about art is highly individual, personal, and intimate. It’s always interesting to see what people respond to, and what they like. It’s even more intriguing when the work I don’t like is a favorite of others- like this yellow butterfly which I didn’t enjoy painting, even though I tried to and had a few fleeting moments that felt sort of like joy. And then I didn’t like the finished art either. I was frustrated by it and almost binned it.

But it ticked off a box for a project goal and it would have been foolish to dump it, and get behind schedule, just because I didn’t personally care for it. So, I was committed to it. Well, my daughter really liked this one. I suppose that’s not too surprising, since sometimes we have the exact same taste in something (and compete to grab it first!), and other times we are polar opposites.

Later, when I shared this painting, one of my customers said she really liked this one, as one of her favorite works I’ve done. REALLY? But why? The thing is, I can’t even say why I don’t like it. I don’t know why. I just don’t. And that intrigues me… it’s how I know I’ve made it as an artist. My art isn’t about me and as soon as I set my paintbrush down, it no longer belongs to just me. It doesn’t even matter if I personally don’t like my art or if I don’t connect with it. Someone else will, and it’s not up to me to decide which paintings they can connect with and which ones I don’t allow them to see. No, art as a vocation is a language that is shared without censorship, not even self-censorship.

Now, obviously if my painting fails to make a project goal at some point- which has never happened- then I can justify binning it. But I’m past the skill level for that to happen. I’m rather stuck with my projects if my only real issue is “I don’t like it”. I don’t have to like it. If I insist that all of my paintings must be to my personal taste, I’ll never reach my lifetime goal of 1k finished paintings, and I’ll also have a one-sided conversation. Sometimes others connected differently to art than I do. What I might see as a disappointment, another person may see as special. Why is my perspective superior to theirs? It isn’t.

This same philosophy can be applied to all human interactions and ways of communicating. We must be humble enough to lay down our impulse to be the arbitrator of what people should connect with or what they should hear, see, do, think, feel and believe. We are not all the same, but our needs are the same. We all need to be respected for who we are, given freedom to think as we wish, and an opportunity to reject or connect on a deeper level to things that we can’t explain.

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New Painting – “Alabama Landscape”

Oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas “Alabama Landscape”. Watch Natalie paint this art in less than 2 minutes (time lapse video). New painting for September 2022.

New Painting Finished!

If you’ve been following the progress of my new oil painting “Walking in Rain Puddle”, you’ll be happy to know that it is now finished

Back to Work! Session 3

Well, it’s time to get back to work on the new painting in progress. Normally I wait until the painting is finished before sharing, but

Today’s Painting

LOL! It looks like my daughter (girl in the painting) is afraid of my fan brush in this still photo I lifted from the video!

New Painting in Progress

I don’t often show my paintings until they are done, but I thought you’d like to know what I’m working on since there’s been a

New month, new direction!

Did you click on the image above? I’ve painted enough art now to re-design this website and sort by categories! This will be more fun

Hymn for Cardinal Painting

As promised, I’ve put together a singing video with the lyrics for the instrumental hymn that was in yesterday’s painting video. Maybe you already know

Go Light your World

This is the song that is featured in my oil painting “Candle and Bible” video. The music in the time lapse video is an instrumental

New Painting

See this oil painting come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse video). Note: if you read my blog via e-mail, my videos probably won’t

Hymn for Lighthouse Painting

The painting video I shared yesterday included a piano instrumental version of “In Christ Alone”. My daughter (standing behind my chair) was kind enough to

Happy 4th of July!

See this oil painting “Americana” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video), or view the longer version in the 4th of July show. This

New Painting – “Lighthouse”

The song in the video is a piano instrumental version of the hymn “In Christ Alone”. “In Christ Alone” In Christ alone my hope is

New Painting!

See this osprey come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse video). My new art area is now fully set up and I should be

Happy Father’s Day!

I’m finally working on a new painting. I’ll share it on Wednesday. My daily blog has fallen behind since our sudden, unexpected move. I’m still

New Painting, Finally!

I’m finally back to work after our big sudden, unexpected move. The move took wild turns and we ended up buying a house at least

Want to go to Church?

If you watched the above video (a clip from this year’s Easter Show), you saw how emotional I was while singing the cover of “I

New Art Journey

I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings,

New Cardinal Friends

New birds have already found us at our new home. These cardinals are different, as I knew they’d be. When I was sad about leaving

I’m HOME!

All moved in and my Internet is up. Did you miss me? I missed you! I’ll catch up when I can. Just wanted to post

Moving Day!

This looks nothing like the house we’re closing on, but our house IS in Savannah. I had no idea when I painted this several years

MOVING TOMORROW!

WHEW! The issues are finally resolved and our delayed close on the house will happen TOMORROW! Tomorrow is moving day! I shall fly like this

S T R E S S E D

Today was a highly stressful day. We still haven’t closed on the house and we are now running out of time for the moving pods,

BAD DAY

Well, there must have been a bad moon a’rising because today was a horrible day. The close on our house was cancelled, and then thankfully

Super Laundry!

My son is college age now, not a little boy like in this art for children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” (about my dad, who died before

Happy Day!

Today we had the opportunity to bring the kids to the house we’ll be closing on. Until now, they’d only seen the pictures and video.

Bandits!

These birds have been coming around and stealing our strawberries! What a disappointment! I was enjoying a fresh berry with Cool Whip as a snack

Easy Going

This painting was a “free paint” project, in which there is no reference, plan, or agenda other than to let the paints flow. I start

Joyful Memories!

Moving is so hard and bittersweet. The passage of time is on display with every box that is packed, every room that is emptied. Today

WOOT!

“Fred” was my dad’s nickname for me. This painting was inspired by a black and white photograph he took to complete an assignment for a

Wild Days

Ever feel that you live your life with reckless abandon, like these wild horses? What do they care about consequences or the worries of tomorrow?

aww

My daughter brought me one of the boxes she packed herself for our move, for me to load onto the POD container. She said it

Nature’s Music

This painting was an experiment. A talented indie composer shared his work online and I asked if I could use it to paint what I

Weeds

Watch this oil painting come to life in under a minute

(time lapse)

It’s been very hot here in the deep South, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, it’s Georgia in August. During the hottest days of summer we fall behind on the yard work because it’s too miserable to push ourselves to care. The weeds enjoy running wild and free until the days get cooler and we get back on track.

One of the weeds we get plenty of is clover, which reminds me of the wild shamrocks in Ireland- a beautiful place where I lived for a short while. So I really don’t mind seeing clover and I often leave it where it’s growing. It even has a season when dainty yellow flowers are in bloom, which inspired me to paint the clover painting in the video I shared today.

Sometimes people see a weed, when others see a pretty flower and strong hardy greenery. Spiritually, what may offend some, may inspire others. A person or idea that “will never go away, and just keeps growing no matter how hard one tries to cut it down and get rid of it”, may be a truth that is resilient and will survive no matter how many forces want to kill it.

How do we know which flowers are pretty and should be allowed to stay, and which are weeds and shouldn’t be allowed to grow? Well, the answer lies in boundaries. May we always have the freedom to nurture our own gardens, growing what we wish, and keeping what we believe in. If others see weeds, may they never trespass into their neighbor’s garden to kill them. For every gardener deserves the freedom to decide for oneself what is worthy.

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New Painting Finished!

If you’ve been following the progress of my new oil painting “Walking in Rain Puddle”, you’ll be happy to know that it is now finished

Read More »

Today’s Painting

LOL! It looks like my daughter (girl in the painting) is afraid of my fan brush in this still photo I lifted from the video!

Read More »

Go Light your World

This is the song that is featured in my oil painting “Candle and Bible” video. The music in the time lapse video is an instrumental

Read More »

Justice

Watch me paint this historical art in 2 minutes (time lapse)

The inspiration for my painting isn’t political (not about this appointee in particular). It was a tribute to the courage of the family- his wife and two daughters. I felt such sympathy for them when I saw their raw emotions play out for the whole world to see. It was a dark chapter in American history, that I’d like to briefly talk about in today’s blog post because what happened then is why “rule of law” is no longer a guaranteed protection in this country (USA).

While obviously freedoms aren’t removed overnight, and our “justice” system was never perfect, the Kavanaugh mob trial was a public reveal of the transition from Rule of Law to Communist Mob Rule. It was a free-for-all of corruption. There were frothing “activists” (loony protesters spewing malice and idiotic nonsense attention-grabbing displays), witnesses who witnessed nothing (like a court in Alice in Wonderland, pure gibberish and irrelevancy), lies, libel, obvious organized fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, degradation and humiliation techniques, and a mockery of our institutions, thereby a mockery of We the People who were foolish enough to think that our government respects us. The whole farce was so shocking that in the end, it didn’t seem very significant that this appointee got through, as the issue was about much more than one judge.

No one was held to account for their appalling behavior during the hearing. No one was arrested (if they were, it was not made as public as their behavior was, thereby if we do not know about it, it is irrelevant to the perception). There was surely enough cause to investigate libel, fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud. The “smear campaign” set a precedent. This was much bigger than this particular appointee or political feelings- this was about laying down the “new normal” for how government will treat US, We the People, who have no high political power to protect us. 

Our justice system is composed of human beings, and as such, it was always flawed. But in our imperfect system, we knew that it was publicly, professionally, and politically important to at least PRETEND that we operate by Rule of Law, in which all persons are presumed innocent unless proven guilty. But during the Kavanaugh mob trial, Congress overturned Rule of Law and the presumption of innocence that requires evidence to convict someone. Now, it’s becoming more and more accepted that we may at any time be condemned by our government or any other entities, and we are “guilty unless exonerated”, which is a legally impossible standard!

In a free country, our accusers must prove our guilt… we do NOT have to prove our innocence. The burden of proof is on the accuser. But during the Kavanaugh mob trial, even though “just” a hearing, our government mocked us while showing us that we are no longer free. We can be accused of something at any time, and they can bring false, lying “witnesses” against us, hearsay (stuff that one person claims another person said- in other words GOSSIP with no evidence to back it up!) and can humiliate us in personal degrading attacks. Message received: Good luck to anyone trying to prove their innocence if the mob wants you cancelled, fired, or arrested!

It seemed that few people felt the horror that I did, the horror that inspired me to paint that historic event. I can only imagine the courage and strength it took for his wife and daughters to be physically present and still show such warmth and grace after all that they’d been through on the very nasty, very unfair harsh public stage.

While many were distracted by the political aspects surrounding this particular appointee, I was laser focused on watching our justice system die while people jeered and gleefully cheered it on. Funny how even when these types get what they want, they are still not happy- still frothing with malice and unhinged insanity. But the appeasement, which did nothing to stop political terrorism, fueled the progression toward communism, the incessant march toward fascism and technocracy. Now, there are people arrested merely for being associated with the “wrong” people. History has alarming examples of where this sort of thing leads.

I could relate to the pained courage and grace of Mrs. Kavanaugh because I had been the target of a dangerous mob campaign. I learned details about the man who publicly listed me to be cancelled, threatened, and ruined, and he is a criminal who was later arrested for a sex trafficking charge. He was well connected, funded, had been on TV and had spoken in front of the UN. He had been celebrated by media and had been invited to the Obama White House. THIS is the man who had led a campaign to go after me, and 920 others, who he falsely libeled as “Nazis” for BLM and Antifa to “go after”. And they did, committing crimes against me such as hacking my website and deleting my art of Jesus, uploading a devil in its place. They knew where I lived and what my children looked like. I was terrified.

Yet, I knew that if I did not stand, if I did not smile gracefully, if I did not put my artwork back on my site… I would be committing a horrible offense of cowardice in which I may never recover. A good person must be willing to be hated. I will never comply when someone wants me to lay aside my God given purpose and destiny. This is not theirs to steal and I will not be complicit in treason; as the end game is to destroy capitalism/nationalism in favor of communism/globalism. I will not make it easy for them by quitting in fear.

I wish Mrs. Kavanaugh could know how inspired I was by her and her children. Even though I’m “nobody” compared to her famous family, my own daughters and I had gone through something that felt similar. We too were unfairly accused of something horrible, and we too felt afraid that someone would hurt us… and that my children would be harmed. I felt empathy for her, but also moved to paint this historical scene, because it represents the real core of justice:

  • NEVER take on shame that doesn’t belong to you.
  • ALWAYS stand in grace when you know you do not deserve condemnation.
  • Be secure in the knowledge that we are forgiven and free by our spiritual Father and judge of the highest power, therefore no man can condemn our spirit.
  • The burden of proof lies on the accuser to prove our guilt, not on us to prove our innocence –  even if a government’s failed justice system doesn’t protect our right to fairness, we must never comply with accepting mob rule. It is an illegitimate system of tyranny and control.

No injustice can break us. We must be confident in who we are, and what we believe in. We cannot let fear drive us to quit, or malice drive us to return hate with hate. Freedom begins when we have the courage to stand tall in grace, when we never give in, never give up, and when they expect us to cry… we smile.

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Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

New Painting Finished!

If you’ve been following the progress of my new oil painting “Walking in Rain Puddle”, you’ll be happy to know that it is now finished

Read More »

Today’s Painting

LOL! It looks like my daughter (girl in the painting) is afraid of my fan brush in this still photo I lifted from the video!

Read More »

Go Light your World

This is the song that is featured in my oil painting “Candle and Bible” video. The music in the time lapse video is an instrumental

Read More »

New Painting

See this oil painting come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse video). Note: if you read my blog via e-mail, my videos probably won’t

Read More »

Happy 4th of July!

See this oil painting “Americana” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video), or view the longer version in the 4th of July show. This

Read More »

New Painting!

See this osprey come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse video). My new art area is now fully set up and I should be

Read More »

Happy Father’s Day!

I’m finally working on a new painting. I’ll share it on Wednesday. My daily blog has fallen behind since our sudden, unexpected move. I’m still

Read More »

New Art Journey

I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings,

Read More »

HAPPY 4th of JULY!

If you missed my new painting show announcement, here it is! Have a happy Independence Day, no matter where you live. Freedom is for all persons, and is a right of humanity. Be brave, be strong, be FREE!

All photos in the slideshows are of my own family and places I’ve been. Most of the pictures are my own photography (except for the ones that I’m in, and the photos from Germany and Iraq taken by my husband or his fellow soldiers). This is my American story. I hope that you can see how much I love America, and why.

Wherever life finds you, find a way to love your home. The ground beneath your feet must never be condemned, lest you condemn yourself and your neighbors. The blessing to be alive for another new day is a privilege awarded to all who live and breathe.

My new painting featured in the 4th of July show is called “Americana“. See the art page for a 2 minute time lapse version to watch me paint it, and/or options to purchase prints.

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Plant your Flag

Watch me paint “Flag on Mars” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

“The excitement of ‘heavenly realms’ has inspired people for hundreds of years. When our United States President (President Donald Trump) cheered that we’ll one day plant our flag on Mars, it created quite an image of the thrill of discovery and awe in God’s universe. Today as in Biblical days of old, the creation of the world and the mysteries that lie in the heavenly realms are beyond our comprehension. Looking upward, pining to touch the beautiful lights and colors, is perhaps one of the best ways to appreciate the vastness of God.”

                                             -from book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

A 2020 article in Newsweek, Love for the Flag Explains the Iwo Jima Memorial’s Power states:

“What Europeans fail to understand is that, to most Americans, the flag means much more than mere nationhood. It is a symbol of virtues they believe to be universal: hope, freedom, justice and democracy. Between 1941 and 1945, Americans watched the progress of their flag across Europe and the Pacific, saw liberation spreading in its wake, and knew that they were doing something remarkable. After the war they were magnanimous to those they had defeated, nursing their economies back to health, and quickly handing them back their independence. This is the final meaning of the Iwo Jima memorial: when an American soldier plants a flag on foreign soil it is not an act of domination, but of liberation.

Americans understand this instinctively. That is why, since 1945, America has paraded its flag so proudly in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Somalia and Afghanistan. It is why, during the liberation of Baghdad in 2003, a modern Marine climbed the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square and wrapped a U.S. flag around his face. Americans believe passionately in the values they promote, which are no different from the values for which they fought the Second World War.

Unfortunately, other parts of the world see things rather differently. However glorious an American flag seems when flown in the U.S., it begins to look very different when planted on foreign soil.”

Just as in other countries, the American people are NOT their government, nor are they represented by activists, actors, or any other type of celebrity. Each citizen is an individual. Therefore, the feelings that an American has toward the United States flag are also individual, and likely deeply personal based on childhood memories, religious values, social experiences, and political influences.

As an inspirational metaphor, planting your flag is about finding and achieving your purpose, story, and legacy. Your personal liberation may be in the area of relationships, career, vocation, life goals, or any other passion. The pursuit of happiness is the right of all human beings. 

When Americans proudly wave their red, white and blue flag, it may not mean anything political. It could be deeply spiritual, connecting one human heart to another. Planting your flag may be a celebration of what it means to be free.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

New Painting Finished!

If you’ve been following the progress of my new oil painting “Walking in Rain Puddle”, you’ll be happy to know that it is now finished

Read More »

Today’s Painting

LOL! It looks like my daughter (girl in the painting) is afraid of my fan brush in this still photo I lifted from the video!

Read More »

Go Light your World

This is the song that is featured in my oil painting “Candle and Bible” video. The music in the time lapse video is an instrumental

Read More »

New Painting

See this oil painting come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse video). Note: if you read my blog via e-mail, my videos probably won’t

Read More »

Happy 4th of July!

See this oil painting “Americana” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video), or view the longer version in the 4th of July show. This

Read More »

All for a Flag

Watch me paint this flag on Tybee Island, Georgia

in one minute (time lapse)

This is a special roadside American flag on the only way to/from Tybee Island. It was saved from flood waters by police officers after Hurricane Irma, on the anniversary of 9/11 known as Patriots Day. The flag, attached to driftwood, had been a familiar landmark on that stretch of Highway 80 since the 1980’s. The officers knew that evacuees returning home after Hurricane Irma would find their beloved flag to be a comforting sight. They were especially grateful to residents who took care of the weary officers with coffee and encouragement, while first responders were working 12 hour shifts before and after the storm."
- from the book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

All that for a flag? Why would the police officers go through so much trouble to rescue a piece of cloth? Why would anyone risk their safety for a flag? Why would anyone die for a flag? Asking this question will yield many different answers. It depends heavily on who you ask, and what that person is feeling at that particular point in time.

A flag usually stands for something- an organization, a religion, a political party, a mission or cause, a town, a state, a nation, a global entity, or a military unit. But that’s just what the flag literally represents. What it means to individual persons can be much harder to define. 

Often, the feelings attached to a particular flag are strongly rooted by things that may have little attachment to the official meaning of that flag. If the organization that is represented by a flag operates with levels of secrecy, corruption, or even elements of pure evil, does the flag now mean those things? That’s what critics, protesters, and competitors/enemies of that organization say. But those who live under these flags likely believe that the corrupt elements don’t represent them; either by the flag or in any other manner.

When my dad died, they gave Mom a folded flag. He served two tours in the Vietnam War and got cancer when he was in his 20s. He died from it at age 37. He was not there when I was born, as he was overseas and didn’t learn of my birth until three days later. He was not there when I grew up, as he was dead. The folded flag was an acknowledgement of his sacrifice.

When our flag is protested against, trampled, or burned, I feel deeply offended. The flag is a memorial symbol to many of us. There is no respect for that, and yet we are meant to respect the causes that supposedly justify such malice and disrespect? How is it privileged to have no father? It is not. I owe no one anything, and they owe me nothing. But when they disrespect me in acts of hatred and destruction, I will feel something. It is my right to feel authentic emotions. I will never be disloyal to the memory of my father. No cause can sway me.

As people study wars for profit and evil reasons, nothing will change the truth of what was in the hearts of the young men who served. My father believed that they were fighting against communism, tyranny, and dangers to the people they loved at home, and to the human race worldwide. He was intensely loyal to religious, creative, and vocational freedom for all people, regardless of country of origin, race, culture, or gender. He saw government oppression as a big threat, and he therefore believed that serving in the military was his duty as a man, as a husband, as a son, as a brother, and as a father.

I have always had a jaded and cynical view of government. I have never found the answer to my questions to be satisfactory. Even as a young child I wondered, “was EVERYthing tried before it was decided that the ONLY way to resolve this was to kill people? (in war)”. Why was it the only way? Why couldn’t smart people figure out other ways? Why aren’t smarter people ruling over us if the best that they can come up with is to send our fathers to wars? But even after growing up without a father, I have remained loyal to that flag, the flag that was folded, the flag that still waves.

Because the flag still stands for freedom, though they have taken much of that away. The flag still stands for those who have loved their families and wanted to serve- whether in the military, the police force, as a first-responder, or a front line worker. Whenever someone is willing to put their own health and safety at risk to be of service to their communities, they honor the spirit of the flag as it stands. I’m of course not just talking about Americans. I’ve lived outside of the United States and the people of those countries loved their homeland and their families with the same passion.

The evils of one do not cancel the good motives of another. It is not wrong to love a flag that symbolizes the qualities we admire in humanity, and the values we wish upon the world. If we see loyalty, selflessness, courage, and freedom represented by familiar colors, raised high or clutched by a tiny wooden stick in a young child’s waving hand, we see the best in each other. When we wish goodness and prosperity for all people, beginning at home and spreading worldwide, we may feel optimism when we see others raise our flag in solidarity with our good intentions for humankind.

Those who want to tell us that our hearts are not noble, and we have wrong thoughts or wrong intentions, are lying. They do not know the heart of man. They do not have this power. Hatred toward a flag is propaganda, as is forced loyalty toward one. Authentic feelings toward symbols and flags are complicated, often based on a complex series of lifelong experiences that make each of us unique, which is why we may feel surprisingly emotional when someone outside of our homeland raises “our” flag to show support or sympathy for the people of our homeland during times of celebration or tragedy.

I’ve seen responses to videos from countries all over the world, by people outside of those homelands. Whenever the people rise up in common cause to support, celebrate, or defend the values they hold dear, it is universally sentimental and passionately stirring. The sight of people singing and raising their flags can bring tears, even to the onlookers who see the videos from halfway around the globe. “We the People”, regardless of national origin, recognize selflessness and courage, loyalty and love… and it is both common and natural to feel unity when we see these beautiful qualities in fellow humans.

Never allow political agendas, “activists”, or any other motivated entity to poison what you know is true and good. If you feel nothing but empathy, compassion, and connection to fellow humans, perhaps the sight of a happy person waving a flag doesn’t incite anger or malice in you. Perhaps it stirs up sentiment, thoughtfulness, a bit of sadness maybe… possibly we feel melancholic, and wistful, if only the nostalgia of what people once believed was the reality they were sold… we may feel a complex array of emotions, but at the core, we likely feel an authentic desire that our fellow humans have the right to the pursuit of happiness. When we see our flags waving in the wind, we may see freedom.

We are not responsible for the ills of mankind, nor are we infallible. We are neither accountable for the choices of others, nor are we tasked to control others. When the world operates with oppression and commits crimes against humanity, it does so without the power to cancel, nullify, or otherwise erase from existence the original pure intentions of the people who simply hoped for a reality that wasn’t distorted or destroyed by powerful forces. History can hide what is real, but the truth never really goes away. Good people are not bad because others label them so. Bad people are not good because others promote them as such.

Give yourself permission to honor the fallen, regardless of which date on the calendar is designated for this. Give yourself permission to feel hope at the sight of a flag. Give yourself permission to refuse to condemn yourself for the evils of others. Raise your flag.

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Be a Lion

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Yesterday I posed the question “Are you a lion or a lamb?” We are meant to be both, but today let’s focus on lions. Most definitions for the word lion begin with a description of the animal, end with a reference to Leo (the constellation which I happen to have been born under) and somewhere in the middle includes phrases such as “a very brave person“, as per The Free Dictionary.

As we think of lions representing bravery, let’s establish what we must be brave about. I’d mentioned before that we must protect ourselves so that we may then protect others. Before we make a checklist, we need to define what is meant by “protection”.

  1. Health: As we humans are composed of mind, body and spirit, our physical self is important. Protection and defense seldom warrant physical battles, but is instead a reference to an ongoing struggle to create and maintain optimal health. This is made more difficult when entities are acting against our interests. Our strength and energy allows us to withstand hardships and endure long trials, to outlast an oppressive era, and make it through to better days. Therefore, we must make the protection and strengthening of our health a critical priority. Eat well, move, do things we love, be with people we love, sleep well. Refuse to comply with anything that endangers your health. Protect the rights of others.
  2. Education: Education is to the mind what nutrition is to the body. We must protect our access to information and defend against the distortion, bias, deletion, and manufacturing of the truth, as well as censorship of organic voices; and fight against powerfully financed and govern-mentally coordinated propaganda. Math doesn’t lie, but people do. Statistics must be free of manipulation, and the presentation of data must be held to the highest standards. The People must demand this.
  3. Freedom: The freedom to define our lives, values, and pursuit of happiness according to our own counsel is critical to the spirit. We must defend against all manner of persecution, and all pushes to create new forms of religion that are raised to be superior to all others through coercion. State religion is denied to exist, as it is nonetheless simultaneously installed, replacing all others. A cult of oppression is unable to co-exist with pre-existing religions and ideologies, including the right to be left alone; the choice to reject any allegiance to ideals or groups.

Lion of Judah” oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Bravery Checklist

  1. See: Be brave enough to look for answers, no matter how scary the truth may be. Seeing is the first step to defending oneself and others. We must name the problems.
  2. Hear: Be brave enough to listen to ideas and people that go against coordinated agendas.
  3. Speak: Be brave enough to voice our thoughts, opinions, concerns, fears, and hopes for the future.

Cowardice breeds more oppression. Consenting to what we know is wrong, will only embolden tyrants to demand more. Bravery is often the simple act of thinking for oneself; refusing to convert to what is being pushed. Few are called into stronger acts of profound sacrifices that define history. For most of us, we are only tasked with staying true to what we believe and refusing to comply with any acts that unlawfully persecute, oppress, or harm ourselves or others. This may simply mean avoidance of places or institutions who enforce tyrannical rules. But if we all make a commitment to stand, we outnumber the oppressors and we will win our battles. Every brave person makes a difference.

Be a lion.
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