Almost Home

Watch this cheerful bluebird oil painting come to life in under 1 minute (time lapse)

Yesterday’s post was bittersweet, looking back at the hobby farm life we lost. But our journey toward a new life, after almost a decade of working toward our goals- after selling nearly everything we had, moving five times- across three different states (up North, to Midwest, then finally to the Deep Coastal South) and even abroad (Ireland)- we are so near the end of this adventure. Hope is stirring within us that we may be able to buy a house within the next two years. HOME finally!

Last weekend we celebrated our anniversary with a nice dinner on the eve of our anniversary, and then on the actual date we drove to the area where we want to buy a house, about an hour’s drive from here. We daydreamed and imagined ourselves living there. Then we stopped by a gift store and looked for something special to remember the day by. Both of us saw this pretty little trinket at the same time. Our son had given me a similar cardinal gift for Christmas just a couple of months ago, so it seemed like this would make a nice addition. Well…

I didn’t know about this little message attached to the bluebird until after we already chose to buy it. Near the bottom of the card it says “Bless this home and family with love and happiness”. So we took that as a sign! Now the bluebird hangs in the center of the small house we’re renting, on a decorative tree that we keep up all year long with our family pictures, fairy lights and some other decor on it.

Part of a tree that needed to be removed from the yard, husband sprayed it to preserve it and keep it indoors. We use it for accent lighting and decoration. This idea worked so well, we’ll probably do this again someday if the right tree comes along.

Whenever I look at our bluebird of happiness ornament, not only will I think back fondly of our anniversary, but I’ll be reminded to have faith that our hard work will pay off. After many years of uncertainty and temporary places, we’ll be HOME! And this hope gives me motivation to stay the course. Sometimes all it takes is one small thing to keep us going. When we look for that one small thing, we find it.

This world is uncertain and unstable, and perhaps your life is right now also. Whatever we’re waiting for, let us be expectant and confident that this season will pass, and one day the things we hope for will happen. God bless you and yours, this day and always.


Anniversary

Watch this oil painting of me dancing with my husband come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This painting was part of my 2021 Christmas Show . A couple of months later, this is our wedding anniversary weekend (tomorrow, but we’ll have our special dinner tonight). He’s making homemade pita bread, I’m making the lamb gyro filling. We’re trying to re-create one of our favorite memories, when we went to a Greek restaurant while newly married and living in Germany. Right now our house smells like garlic. The table is set. We just need to let the pita bread rise. No matter what darkness happens in this world, may we always make time for happiness. God bless and keep you this day and always.


When Lions Fly

Watch oil painting “Guardian Lion” come alive in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

I last shared this art in a blog post called “Guardians“, which was about protectors and believing in spiritual protection. That’s a big idea sort of post. Today was much more down to earth. I was trying to accomplish a lot of things in a short space of time. I was more like a caged zoo lion than this winged one. I felt like I couldn’t get off the ground.

But when lions fly, nothing is impossible! I managed to finish my new painting and I’ll post it tomorrow. I also got about half the things on my list done. The problem is that I kept looking at the the things I haven’t done instead of the things I did. So much of our prosperity and happiness depends on perspective. When we think we accomplish little, little is the result. When we think we can fly, we do!


Update

Watch oil painting “Painting Colors” come to life in about 1 minute (time lapse)

I like to use this painting for my updates. The music in the video is an instrumental version of “Be Thou my Vision”. The lyrics are appropriate for how I feel as an artist.

My update: Well, today isn’t going to work out for painting. I do plan to have the next one ready to share soon, but it probably won’t be tomorrow. I’d planned tentatively in my head for tomorrow, but I’m fine with a delay. I’m ahead of schedule, as I’ve been working on the 2022 collection for a while now. This gives me leeway to take my time if other things pop up or if lighting conditions aren’t great (natural sunlight coming in through the windows is preferred over solely artificial lighting).

In other news-

The holiday show is coming along. It’s a Christmas one, and will be the last live-taping event show I do for 2021. You’ve met my whole family by now in the videos I share, but this will be the first painting variety show in which all of them will make a guest appearance at the same time. I hope that you tune in when I share it and please share it with others. There are so few of us producing original shows that are positive and authentic. I want my work, and my family’s gift of their time and talents as well, to make a difference. For a short half hour, may we bring hope and smiles to you through our singing, dancing, art, and happiness (and one surprise act that I’m not telling you, as it would be a spoiler!).

In the end, it’s not about the talent, work ethic, or social power of what we create. It’s about the lives we touch and the love we share. These are challenging times. We need for every lit candle to light another. So, please do share my special show when I share it with you. And if you could also hold supportive thoughts for us as we begin to tape this show soon, I’d appreciate that as well.

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Thanksgiving Plans?

Watch oil painting “We Gather Together” come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse)

I talked about this painting in an August blog post called “Feasting“. Today, I’m thinking about Thanksgiving and how quickly it’s coming up. For those of you who celebrate this holiday, do you have plans? We already bought a turkey last week, fearing that there may be a turkey shortage this year.

I’ve also dressed up the house with decorations and I’ve been sewing festive potholders, which is good because our current potholders are disgusting! I’ve let them get gross from too much use without enough washing in between. Now they seem too nasty to save. Happily, my first potholder is done and it turned out great!

I’m working on a new Thanksgiving painting that I’ll share with you soon. I expect to have it done by the weekend, assuming I have good natural light coming in. If it’s cloudy every minute of the day or raining I’ll have to postpone the project. But, barring that, I should get it done. Anyway, there will be a new Thanksgiving painting that will be in a slightly different style from the one above.

You may notice that sometimes I paint in a highly detailed and realistic way, such as in this oil painting of a wolf. And other paintings are somewhat detailed, but soft in parts, like this lighthouse painting. Still others have abstract backgrounds with details in only the main subject, like this lily painting, and others are simplistic and representational like the painting in today’s blog, in which there are no faces on the figures and the proportions and perspective is skewed/unrealistic. I usually paint faces on the people in my art, but I didn’t want this particular work to be too much about my own family so I left our faces and other realistic details out.

Some people have said that they like my paintings that I personally don’t care for, so I continue to share different styles and experiments that I try. But my own preference is when I do a more realistic style painting even if somewhat dreamlike or stylized, or when I paint a detailed subject on an abstract background. The paintings that are rough, skewed, or in this case- without faces!- are not ones I like. I’ve said it before: art is a language. What is communicated to one, may be different for another. Even in my own family, we do not agree about which paintings are my best. And the ones I’ve thought are my worst were some of their favorites. So, I’ll continue to just paint as the inspiration or project goals lead me, and then it’s no longer about me.

That’s true of anything we share in life, isn’t it? Like a Thanksgiving turkey; we may prepare the meal ourselves and be quite proud of the table display, the wonderful delicious feast, and the festivity we’ve created, but the real joy is in sharing the holiday with others. Even if the turkey is dry or the decorations are cheap, it’s all about the love we share.

I don’t think it matters much what I paint or how I paint it. What matters is that I keep painting, evolving, and sharing. Whatever we do, may we do it with our whole heart, and then give ourselves away. That’s when we find true happiness.

God bless you, and keep you, and may His face shine upon you this day and always.

Meek or Mighty?

See oil painting “Lion and the Lamb” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I did a series of blog posts related to this painting: “Are you a lion or a lamb?“, “Be a lion“, and “Be a lamb“. But today I’m thinking of the traits meek and mighty. As we reflect on the week ahead, in which areas of our lives do we choose to be meek, and which areas do we choose to be mighty?

My personal focus is to be meek when it comes to control, and mighty when it comes to power. I want to let go of those things I can’t control. I have done my best, and that’s all that is expected of me. Humility allows us to accept that we are not capable of all things, and that others have gifts and callings that we do not. We are not always the best person for all jobs. We are only asked to play our part, not to worry about responsibilities that belong to others.

But when it comes to those responsibilities that belong to us, may we be mighty in power to do what’s asked of us with strong energy, a positive mindset, and a spirit of hope. Whether our roles are rooted in servitude, like cleaning up after others, or performing other acts that seem “low”, but need to be done (and are perhaps unpaid tasks), or whether attempting big projects and lofty goals, may we be gracious in accepting the work given to us and do it well. 

Productive work is a human right. It creates a sense of purpose, which leads to happiness, peace, and health. Focusing on the work we’re asked to do, and letting go of responsibilities that are not ours, also leads to happiness, peace, and health, because we manage stress, reduce anxiety, fear, resentment and depression; and we sleep better at night. May we be meek about control, but mighty in power. God bless you this week and always.

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How are you?

Watch this oil painting of a bird in a forest come to life

in about 2 minutes (time lapse)

You might remember when I first shared this painting when I finished it in April? Here we are, five months later, and I’m guessing you are feeling a lot of the same emotions that I am. When spring came upon us, I felt hopeful that the change of seasons would bring positive developments along with the blooming trees and sunny skies. Then we slipped into summer, and my optimism waned. Now we are entering autumn. With fall leaves changing, soon we’ll be hibernating again in a deadened world of shorter days, longer darkness, bare trees, and the emotions that come with the reflections and reminiscing that ring in the holiday season.

I don’t have extended family who visits, nor do I visit anyone, but I enjoy the time I spend with my own little family (my husband and kids). I’ve shopped early this year and their presents are already stashed away, long before Christmas. I want to make sure that we can celebrate so brightly that our happiness and gratefulness outshines anything dark that may be upon us in December. I’m also investing in new baking projects and food ideas, party plans (even though it’s just us, we are a party!), and of course the big holiday show that I’ll be sharing with all of you. I want to encourage you to think ahead about how you want to spend your holiday season and prepare for it in a way that is bigger and brighter than you’ve ever done before, even if it’s just you alone.

I will be here with you, same as always. I am committed to blogging every day. So even if it seems that “no one” is around, someone always is. Stay strong, stay positive, and plan for happiness.

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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

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

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.

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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

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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?

Read More »

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

Read More »

Ooh, Pretty!

These flowers are probably the closest thing I have right now to what my new “Freedom Rose” looks like, but imagine the buds and open

Read More »

Secrets

Watch me paint this apple tree branch in 1 minute (time lapse)

If we’re being honest, there are no secrets to life’s happiness. What we need to be happy is intuitive. The real secrets are the ones we don’t tell: why don’t we do the things we know we should? Perhaps we’ve yet to learn the answer because we’re not ready, or because we choose not to know. Change is difficult. We may feel as if we can’t face up to it, but more truthfully, we probably aren’t willing to do what it takes. 

Because, no matter how weak and broken we are, we can find a way to be strong. There are stories of prisoners of war or victims of enslavement who had spirits of iron. They never gave up hope, even when they had nothing left, and were abandoned to a declining existence of abuse and eventual death. Yet they stayed strong in their minds and hearts, willing their bodies to survive.

What we ask of ourselves is seldom anywhere close to that magnitude! Most days, we are simply battling fatigue, discouragement, anxiety, stress, and fear about things that may or may not even happen. Many of us have the freedom to choose how to fill our time- at least a few hours a week- even if we are busy. The words “I can’t” are only in our vocabulary if we choose for them to be.

“Secrets” to Life (that everyone knows!)

  • Develop long and short range goals. The short range goals will encourage us to keep going, as we see a fast result. That will keep us on track for long range goals that will improve our lives in a bigger way. Stick with these goals. Win. Make new goals. Win again. Repeat indefinitely. Never give up. When stuck, try something new. Never quit, but know when to move on (listen to the song “The Gambler”!). Never bend, never break. Be determined, persistent, and strong!
  • Become strong by doing things that will produce a healthy mind, body, and spirit. These things are science based, as they can be proven to work. For example, if we improve our nutrition, we become healthier. The effects of eating good food go beyond the physical, as our mental acuity and emotional stability also improve. The singular act of improving our diets can effect hormones, blood sugar, and other factors that have an impact on our total health package (mind/body/spirit). The same is true for other obvious areas for improvement: exercise, fitness, being outside, spending time in nature, limiting screen/media/Internet time, creating art/music/other, spending time in positive social situations, investing in intimate relationships, etc.)
  • Choose love. Choosing a loving response for any situation in life is likely to bring inner peace. Why? For several reasons, but among them are these: a loving reaction encourages us to feel as if we’ve done the best we could do and can now let go of negative experiences, thereby avoiding resentment that interferes in the ability to be happy; a loving reaction eases stress as the body responds differently to peace than to aggression; a loving reaction is in alignment with a spiritual journey and therefore produces happiness in people of faith.

Because we already know the above life coaching advice, these things aren’t “secrets”, no matter how many books are sold that use Secret in the title. How to become happy isn’t a secret, but our happiness should in some ways BE a secret. As in, we have within us a precious private space where we are known only to ourselves and God. This space is highly valuable to abusive persons, organizations, and governments. Dysfunctional relationships involve invading our private spiritual self, and attempting to know our inner secrets for the purpose of power and control.

Whether the abuser is a controlling parent, friend, spouse, or boss, personal relationships can become too invasive. Allow yourself to have secrets from people who don’t have your best interests at heart, but instead abuse your private information. When someone knows our inner selves, do they use that information to manipulate us into doing what they want? Do they know what pushes our buttons? Do they know what type of flattery and praise motivates us? Do they steer us toward certain emotions to benefit themselves, caring little for how their power plays affect us?

If the abusive relationship is with an organization or government, it’s even more important to keep our inner selves secret. Why reveal what truly makes us tick? Abusers want to know what triggers would manipulate us to comply. Protect yourself from powerful abusers knowing what your breaking point might be. Guard the secrets to your happiness, known only to you and God.

For what is claimed to be a secret, is no secret at all. And what should be kept secret is stolen from us through manipulation, betrayal of relationships (employer/employee, spousal, parent/child, etc.), abuse of trust, illegal spying (corportations/governments/etc.), deception, misuse of authority, and more. It’s important to know the truth about secrets. I talked more about this in my other blog post featuring an apple painting: “Are we Unpredictable?

Happiness is not a secret. It is a gift available to all. We may have to work at it very hard, with our full hearts, but it is never impossible to pursue- and find- the happiness that is known as inner peace in the darkest of times, ranging in escalation to pure joy in the best of times.

Never listen to the snake who tells us we must eat the forbidden fruit from the apple tree to know the best kept secrets. We already know everything we need to be happy. Happiness is a spiritual gift. 

Specific tips for establishing inner peace: “Do we want Peace?

More about developing strength: “Peace through Strength

More about happiness: “Balance

More about breaking free from dysfunctional relationships (personal/work/government): “Dark to Light

More about happiness: “Be a Lamb

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Are you impossible?

Watch me paint this eagle taking down an owl in under 1 minute (time lapse)

Are you impossible? Sometimes we describe a stubborn person as being “impossible”. We may not be fully aware of times when we are ourselves impossible- TO ourselves. Often, it’s a spiritual battle we’re fighting and we would be much happier if we’d only understand the type of war this is. We are often at war with ourSELVES, and are our own worst enemy!

We may tell ourselves that something we want or need is “impossible”, when it’s really OURSELVES being impossible. Consider this… name anything you want that you don’t have, any place you haven’t gone, a job you’ve not done, or any other unfulfilled desire. Why do we not do the things we long to do?

  1. “It can’t be done. It’s impossible!” (and yet there are examples of others who have found a way to do it)
  2. “It’s too hard. It’s impossible!” (and yet we make no attempt to learn how, become stronger and more capable, or ask for help)
  3. “I don’t have time. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!” (but some people have much busier schedules than we do, yet manage to do much more)

The truth is:

  • It CAN be done.
  • Nothing is too hard when determined and persistent.
  • There’s always time for what’s important to us.

So if we’ve not yet done what we want to do, we must ask ourselves why, and let our answers be honest. If we have no money, have we tried to raise it? Have we taken on an extra job? Have we asked others for help? If it’s time we need more of, have we stopped wasting valuable hours by cutting back on unimportant things? Have we made ANY changes at all in the direction we want to go? If not, why not?

If we are weak, weary, or of ill health, have we put together an action plan to become stronger, rested, and well? Have we found a way to manage any physical limitations? Have we learned about resources for help and assistance? If not, why not? For what we declare as “impossible”, others have done. Perhaps some of these others have more hardships and limitations than we do, yet have accomplished what we have said was too hard, impossible.

If, after analyzing the situation, we decide that the honest answer is any of these:

  • “I don’t want to work hard enough for it”
  • “I don’t want to make the time”
  • “I don’t want to face up to my anxieties or fears”
  • “I don’t want to work on my health, financial situation, or any other obstacle”

…if our answers are any- or even ALL- of the above, then we don’t really want it badly enough. At this point, if we don’t let the matter drop, the situation isn’t what’s impossible, it is WE who are being impossible. For when we know in our hearts that we will never choose to act on what we think we want, we have no business being envious of others who have it, or in sulking as a victim of circumstance.

How we live is a choice and it’s up to us to be held accountable for our own happiness. If we determine that something is “impossible” (because we don’t want to commit to what is needed to make it happen, or because we don’t want it after all), we must then let go of the desire to have it. We must accept that the door is closed, because we have CHOSEN to close it. For whatever reason, we have determined the situation to be impossible, and now it’s time to make peace with that decision.

If we cannot make peace with our decision, we will stagnate. We will be prone to jealousy when we see others pass us by, living the life we wanted. We might fall into a state of bitterness, resentment, and self-created depression. All of this would not be because we are victims of circumstance, or because our situation is impossible. It would be a result of US being impossible in our attitudes.

When we let go of that which doesn’t belong to us, and make peace with life’s disappointments, we are in good practice for how to handle bigger things, such as an extreme crisis or heartbreaking grief. We have learned to live a disciplined live, in which we hold ourselves accountable for our own happiness, and can therefore rise to the challenges that come our way with the strength and calm that we need to survive. And best of all, holding ourselves accountable for our happiness lends itself to being happy! We don’t just “survive”, but THRIVE!

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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

Read More »