Gator Tale

See this “Gator and Snake” oil painting come to life in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

Something interesting happened yesterday at the sale. It was the last day of the 2-day event and I was discouraged because we still hadn’t had any interest in the large air hockey table. It would take a lot of room in the moving pod and we needed to sell it, as it was in like-new condition and too expensive to not try to get something back from it. I didn’t want the stress of trying to sell it individually. It would be very helpful if someone walked in and wanted to buy it, but we were running out of time and it was heading into the afternoon. So, I prayed that God would send someone to take our things that we were worried about- especially the table.

Shortly afterward, a couple came in and they said, “PLANTS!” They bought a few and then spotted the air hockey table and made an offer. The offer was lower than I wanted, but they made up the exact difference in plants and a pile of other things that they also intended to buy- things that I would have been fine to donate if they hadn’t sold. So, in my mind I got the exact price for the table that I expected and wanted!

Well, guess what? This couple had no idea that we were having a sale. They hadn’t paid attention to the community sale ad. They were here to see the gator!

They’d seen someone posting about an alligator in the lagoon behind our house (see my previous blog post and video of when Trapper John removed a rather large gator). They wanted to see this new gator and stopped by after they left church. They were surprised to see a yard sale going on, and on impulse decided to see what I was selling. So, they left church and then spontaneously ended up at my sale where they bought the exact item I wanted them to buy! They were SENT to me!

EDIT: Forgot to mention, it was this purchase that put us over our goal! We’ve since done the math and we verified that the yard sale will fund the entire move (the cost of two moving pods and a small rental truck for last minute items such as bed mattresses)! We exceeded our goal, meeting our “stretch” goal. The initial goal was to fund at least one pod. Middle goal was both pods. Stretch goal was the truck as well. We did it all! And I don’t think we could have done it if I hadn’t had all of those garden plants to sell.

This type of thing happens often. Some may think that I manifest what I want, others might say that these things are coincidences and I only notice the times when I ask and receive, and not the many times when I ask and don’t receive. Is it positive energy, fate, random, or God? I pray daily and often, about anything that I’m concerned about, and anything I’m thankful about.

I pray for others. I pray when I hear sirens and I know someone may be having the worst day of their life. I may never know the people involved, or what happened, and that doesn’t matter- I believe that my sincere desire for these people to receive comfort and strength helps them, even if neither they or I will ever know the connection.

I believe that prayer matters and I hope that you do too. Whether it’s about something small or something big, our individual lives matter. We may be just one small human in a large universe, yet we are loved. How about right now I pray for YOU? Whoever you are reading this, right now I am praying that you feel blessed by God, and whatever you are facing in your life, you feel empowered to handle it. Goodnight, dear friends.


Silence the Foe

See oil painting “The Moon and the Stars” come to life in about 1 minute (time lapse)

I uploaded this art video to YouTube today and it triggered a copyright claim so I changed the music. I like the new choice. It really suits the painting, which was inspired by Psalm 8:

“You have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them”

When we look up at the sky, perhaps we can imagine that our enemies are bound by earthly constraints; even the most powerful entities are small compared to the vast heavens. And while it may seem that we do not matter, God assures us that we do. We are sovereign and loved.


The Unexplained

Watch this oil painting “Visiting Rabbit” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I explained the story behind this mysterious encounter with a wild rabbit on the “Visiting Rabbit” page. This week there have been some serendipitous events, nothing of the emotional magnitude of the rabbit in my yellow roses, but powerful nonetheless. It would be difficult to explain all of the small connections that have lined up in an improbable string of consequences, but it really doesn’t matter what is happening in my little world. The larger picture is that this sort of thing happens to all of us, sometimes because we’re paying attention to it, and other times because it’s so in-our-face blatant that we can’t ignore it.

What’s on my heart tonight is to remind you that we are loved beyond what we can understand. We know this- without a doubt- when mysterious unexplained events happen to us, that make it clear that there is a God who loves us, sees us, and wants us to know that He does. There are strange signs, and things that only we know, that come together in perfect synchronicity. I believe that when we feel spiritual lonely, all we need to do is pray for a comforting sign. Then pay attention to what happens. We are never alone. Everything is connected.

God bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you and give you peace. Good night, dear friends.


Is it a sign?

Watch oil painting “Road Unseen” come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse)

This painting is about serendipity and events that make us think about how the puzzle pieces of life fit together, and how important we are to God. I blogged about this painting in a March post called “Roads Unseen“, in which I told the story of this art, and an update. But today, I’m reminded of it because of the alternate reality vibe of this painting.

In the story of my art, I was at the right place at the right time. But what if I hadn’t been? Apparently my role was important to the life of that stranger I met, and whose name I don’t remember. Evelyn? Probably not. I am not likely to ever see her again. But stranger things have happened.

Today’s story is about something entirely different, but along the alternate reality lines. I thought something had happened and because of this, my mind raced through an avalanche of thoughts. Let me start at the beginning, which happened a few weeks ago.

I’d splurged and purchased a little garden sign post and small flag. I call it a “splurge” because I don’t usually buy things that aren’t necessities, related to work, or to help a family member. This seemed like an indulgence, but it feels important this year to show a strong Christmas spirit that begins early.

My plan was to buy a few garden flags to switch out, ending with a Christmas one. I started with an autumn flag that made me laugh when I saw the picture online. It is autumn themed with a pumpkin, apples, a sunflower, and leaves, but also features a cardinal (which if you’ve followed me for a while, you know that cardinals are special to me and I’ve painted them several times), and also includes coastal images (I live near Savannah, Georgia). How hilariously spot on with what our family is about! I didn’t know how I’d figure out what our holiday display personality is, but this was definitely it!

This is the garden flag I bought. (Not my art, just something I found online to purchase)

Well, can you imagine my shock when I went outside and looked at my lovely display to find an EMPTY flag holder! I froze and stared at the sign post, as if I wasn’t seeing it correctly. I looked around. Maybe the sign had blown off. If so, the flag should be somewhere nearby. It wasn’t. I took a closer look at my flag stand, which is a bit different from the one in that product image. Mine has a much tighter holding area.

I snapped a picture of the empty flag holder and texted it to my husband with the message “STOLEN!” I then waited for him to arrive, as he was on his way home. He pulled into the driveway and before I could say anything he told me that he’d removed the flag because it was windy and he thought it would blow away or get damaged.

This whole thing took place over ten minutes or less, but that was enough time for me to stew, and mentally accuse imaginary persons of stealing my flag for vindictive reasons. These unknown vandals might strike again! We’d had some dangerous situations of violent crime in the neighborhood (SWAT teams involved, murder charges) as well as drug busts. Some of these things happened right across the street, while we watched the whole thing unfold from inside the house, while US Marshals were staked out in our driveway. This isn’t the best neighborhood, but it’s not the worst either. Yet, maybe I was a fool to think I could put something nice in the yard where anyone could steal it.

Taking my little flag felt like such a spiritual slap in the face. I had finally had enough trust to put something personal in the yard, only to have it stolen! That’s what I get for letting go and trusting life! All kinds of negative thoughts flooded my mind and my heart while I paced the yard, glancing mournfully at the empty flag. And here all along, my husband was protecting my flag for me!

Such a powerful message: we may leap to wrong conclusions, and assume that life is out to get us, when the exact opposite is true. What we think is stolen, gone, or empty may exist outside of our knowledge; held for our protection. Friends, we are loved by God. We may not always feel it, but it’s true, even when we can’t see it.

Peaceful Sunday

Watch oil painting “Wings of Heaven” come alive in 2 minutes

Psalm 36: 5-7 “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies… You, Lord, preserve both people & animals…. People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

I shared this art with you in a rather long April blog post called “Shadow of your Wings” and also in an art technique post called “Painting Illusions“. But today, I just want to wish you God’s peace and love.

A Gift for You!

First, do you remember this one? Watch my oil painting of geese come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse).

And now, I’ll explain the gift that came to me this afternoon (relating to geese!), and I’ll share my gift with YOU. Yesterday I talked about how I needed to do strenuous landscaping in a hurry so that we don’t get fined for not having the property edged, trimmed, etc. It was a heavy job because we have had alternating extreme heat and tropical rains, a combination that makes it difficult to keep up with the lawn care while at the same time making invasive plants grow like crazy, very quickly.

My husband is scheduled to work long hours, so it was up to me to get it all done. My oldest daughter was available to help and the two of us did a mammoth job. I was a bit sulky and resentful because I didn’t think the tone in the email from the property manager was called for, nor was the threat of a fine upon very first notice of this necessary. We have never had any violations before, always pay our bills on time, and are never a problem for anyone. I think the courtesy of a notice that simply asks us to do it would have been sufficient instead of going straight to “you have a violation” and if we don’t fix it before the deadline we will have further violations and fines. Good grief, it’s just a yard! Stuff grows, then you cut it. We caused no property damage, and this urgency is ridiculous.

So the past two days my daughter and I have worked together to cut and remove branches, trim hedges, clear weeds, and edge the sidewalks. We probably overreacted and did more than what was expected, but I didn’t want any more problems. I try to do MORE than expected in everything I do. We cleared all of our things off from the cement surfaces and swept everything. We bagged up the debris. All of this, and my daughter never complained. Instead she said, “I really enjoyed working with you.” And I realized, I really enjoyed working with her too.

 

Now, for the thing that made the experience surreal and magical:

The entire time we were working today, under gorgeous sunny skies, there was a flock of geese enjoying an afternoon with us! The serenity energy of these large beautiful birds created peace, and reversed the feeling of being judged, punished and treated unfairly, (as a pattern in life, not just this specific landscaping situation); unmerciful when I commit the smallest offense, when I’m already trying as hard as I can to balance all the challenges that come my way… No. Even when people don’t extend grace to us, God always does. I had a rare cool morning to do the heaviest labor, and a warm pretty day for the lighter load. And that’s when the geese shared the afternoon with us. These are wonderful things!

Before I show you your gift, I want to talk about perspective. There was a woman who showed up, a frequent trespasser whose family treats the property behind our row of houses (the area by the lagoon, which none of us own, and is restricted) as her personal park, even though there are “no trespassing” signs and she doesn’t live in one of the houses on our row. She’s an annoying rude person who is obnoxious, yells and then ignores her child, drives off-road vehicles through the property, brazenly fishes with her family even though that is not allowed, and so on, sometimes for hours, late at night, and even on holidays like Christmas and Easter. So all of us who live on this row are forced to see her and her rude family spread out doing whatever they like, as the sole view from our back patio windows, the only windows we have on that side of the house. In other words, there is no escaping seeing this awful group (sometimes they bring friends as well!) spread out having their own loud gathering. I’d report her if it felt like the the thing to do, but it doesn’t. It feels like I should simply close the curtains and ignore what they do. So, that’s what I do.

Well, she was sitting there on the bank near the geese for part of the time we were working outside. She was looking at and then yakking on her phone the entire time. Why bother going to a scenic place if you’re just going to look down at your phone? Did she even see the geese? She eventually left, with the phone still on her ear. 

Another woman was outside, a neighbor. She was apparently alarmed by the large flock of geese getting too close to her yard. She sprayed them with a hose and yelled at them. Then she went inside. So, I guess she didn’t see what I saw. The thing is, these are migratory geese. They won’t stay long. We can choose to appreciate their beauty or not.

There are many bad things happening in the world today. And on a personal level, we all have challenges that are large, and small ones like my manic race to get the landscaping work caught up. So when we see something beautiful, that literally lands in front of us, it is a gift. It was a gift for me, and now a gift for you. I video taped what I saw and dropped music in. And now it’s like you were with me, seeing this too. Enjoy, and God bless you.

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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 »

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

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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!

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New Painting – 1st for new 2022 Collection!

Watch oil painting “Generational Tree” come to life

in about 2 minutes (time lapse video)

You might remember that I finished the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature“? I said I’d reveal what the 2021 collection is at a later time, and that time is NOW. :::drum roll please:::

The 2021 collection is called “Seasons” (of Life and Nature). Paintings in this collection celebrate seasons of life (metaphorical, representational, or inspired-by-real-life scenes about milestones, rites of passage, and shared human experiences of love, aging, family, and beyond) as well as seasons of nature (literal scenes depicting autumn, summer, fall, and winter). 

The first oil painting in the collection is “Generational Tree“, which is a good transition from the Nature collection to the Seasons one, since it is a piece that could have been in either. “Generational Tree” represents the passage of time; how the elders in a family reside at the top of a mature tree and are the branches which through the ages become fragile and one day fall away- yet the branches below are healthy and strong, tender new twigs will continue to grow, and the roots created long ago will give life to this family for many years to come.

I’m very excited about this new collection because I’m going to lay my heart out through my paintbrushes. I didn’t look at any reference, photo, prompt, or even out a window for “Generational Tree”. I listen to your comments, and something one of you said about free painting settled into my brain and encouraged my soul to do more of this style of painting, in which I don’t restrain and constrain my art. I’m not saying I’ll never look at a reference for guidelines on proportions, perspective, or details (especially if wanting to get markings and anatomy correct when painting animals, people, and other identifying subjects), but my previous collections were probably 70% or higher art that was planned, used a reference, and was held to the boundaries of the project goals. I’d like to decrease that to 50-60%.

“Generational Tree” was of course a safe project for free painting because it’s simply a tree and a basic landscape (very organic, nothing precise about it). But I’d like to challenge myself and remove the safety net more often. I will still look at a reference when painting specific people when I want to capture a resemblance, but there’s no reason to look at a picture of a person when I’m painting an imaginary person.

But the decision to free paint more often is not really what I meant by laying my heart out. The theme of this new collection lends itself to meaningful work that I will be personally invested in, in a deeply emotional way. That will show in my art if I let myself be an instrument of the source of where creativity, expression, and raw (not taught, born with- or suddenly gifted with, such as after an accident, grief or a diagnosis, etc… in other words, a blessing) talent comes from. Arrogance has no place in art. Art is a language meant to share empathy with humanity. It is not meant to be hoarded or controlled by elites. It is not meant to be restricted to only the select chosen. It is not meant to be about the artist, the possessors of art, or the gatekeepers who decide which art gets seen.

Art speaks to people in ways that we can’t put into words. It is my lifelong desire to let my life be used to heal others. When people see something in my paintings that feels like a message of hope for their own lives, or a whisper from God “I see you”, or a confirmation of faith in humanity… that in a dark world, we still have light, love, compassion, and a deep desire for goodwill for all mankind, it’s beyond myself- it is a personal connection between the viewer and the art that no longer belongs to me. It’s a lofty goal, to be an instrument of healing, but I am honored to strive for this to be my lasting legacy. I’ll also paint lighthearted projects, not everything will feel so heavy. Look for a few paintings that are simply fun.

Thank you for being a part of my journey toward my lifetime goal of 1k finished oil paintings. Along the way, I hope that one of my thousand paintings (years from now!) will make a difference in your life. You are loved by God, and you are never alone. If I can remind you of that, then it’s been a good day.

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Darkened Woods

Watch this oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse). And, if you’d like to know what inspired this art, read the story behind it.

Tonight my heart feels heavy, as many things are weighing on me- many of these things are probably weighing on you as well. The spiritual woods of darkness and solitude, where God speaks to us… this is where I need to go. I plan to pray, rest, and read for a while before going to bed. I will pray for YOU. I believe that I don’t need to know who you are, or anything about you. All I need is to feel empathy for anyone who needs prayer, and that’s all of us. May God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you and give you peace.

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Happy Sunday!

Watch me paint “Floral Cross” in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

Peace be with you today as you reflect upon the week we finished and the new week ahead. No matter how exhausting the world feels, may we feel spiritually refreshed to face our challenges with strength, hope, and perseverance. God bless you and your family!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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,

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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

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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

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More than Sparrows

First the Sparrows oil painting and the inspiration behind it, then a challenge for self reflection. Are you “worth more than sparrows”? Do you live like you are?

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

“The inspiration for ‘Sparrows’ comes from Matthew 10:29-31 ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.'”

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

Update to the above story…

After painting “Sparrows” I saw those birds in abundance. They seemed to have had a nest in the trees by the front door. Sparrows were in my line of sight day after day. I have since not seen many sparrows, but one returned yesterday and was sitting all alone on the trellis on our patio.

My first thought when I saw what kind of bird it was, “Oh, it’s just a sparrow.” I’d been hoping to catch another glimpse of the mythical Blue Cardinal that I told you about in yesterday’s blog post. So I didn’t run for my camera.

In the Biblical metaphor, the sparrows have little worth, yet they don’t fall to the ground without God knowing. I’ve noticed that the verse doesn’t say “without God saving them”, “without God preventing the fall”, or “without God regretting the loss”. If we were to take the verse at its word regardless of how many translations it has gone though throughout history, then God knows what happens to the sparrow and that is meant to be enough comfort to us.

I’m imagining this in two different ways. One, from the perspective of a king. The king has a vast kingdom with many treasures, including living assets. He counts them all. He knows the value of each, and the status of every living asset. He keeps watch over every asset in the kingdom, but some assets are far more valuable to him than others. We can imagine that his vigilance and investment into those more valuable assets would be far greater than the rest.

The second perspective I’m imagining is from that of a parent. A loving and dedicated parent knows what their children are doing, even as they grow to become adults living separate lives. One day, a call may come. An adult child is in the hospital and is in a bad way. The parent arrives at the bedside as soon as possible. The child’s response is not, “Why did you not prevent this from happening to me?”

The child is relieved to see the familiar devoted face of the parent who knows them, who sees their worth, who loves them unconditionally. This face brings the child comfort, regardless of how old that child is. For many blessed parents, a day will come when it is the child who arrives at the bedside, and the same comfort is in reverse. When an older person is dying, it is often their child who they want at their side.

What if we felt as free as the common sparrow? When I saw the sparrow yesterday, he seemed to have not a care in the world. He had easy access to food but was perched a few feet away from it, just looking around. He wasn’t jumpy, as if afraid of predators. Indeed, he had the place to himself. There was nothing to fear in that moment.

When we are perched in a space where our needs are met and there are no immediate dangers, why are we sometimes unable to let go of fear? If God knows what’s happening to us does that give us comfort, or is peace impossible without insurance that no harm will ever come our way? If we refuse peace we enslave ourselves, do we not?

I don’t have the answers, but I do know this… I’ve been at the bedside of the dying. In my experience, in those final days and moments, they don’t say, “Why is this happening to me? This is unfair!” They don’t rail at God or blame others. They seek out the faces of those who know their worth. Their gaze unmistakably says, “I’m glad you are here.”

When we know that we are worth more than sparrows, we live as if we are. We are a living investment that has the potential to increase the value of others. We can choose to let go of resentment over the times when there’s no divine intervention to save us. We can choose instead to accept the peace that is offered: we are known, valued, and loved.

We are worth far more than sparrows! Our best life is not to perch in the space where basic needs are met, where we’re temporarily safe from harm. It is not to rest in days of good weather. That’s a very small life, worthy of a sparrow.

When life hangs in the balance, what’s most important?  Acceptance of the limitations of humanity seems to come naturally to most dying persons. So many have this regret: “If only I understood this (what truly matters is love) when there was still time to live fully.”

We have time. We are worth more than sparrows. What will you do today?

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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 »