Watch oil painting “Lion in Storm” come alive in under 1 minute (in the time lapse video above). This is an angry time. Many of you are furious about personal hardships and struggles that are unfair, unjust, and not yet getting any better. Many are enraged by world events. Whatever your source of anger (and/or sorrow), may you feel understood, embraced, and loved by God. Stay strong. Keep a hopeful heart and never stop fighting for a better tomorrow. God bless you and your family.
See my new cardinal oil painting “Cardinal in July” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video). I have lost track of how many cardinals I’ve painted, but I know this won’t be the last one. Cardinals are a recurring theme in my life and I know that many of you find special meaning, healing, hope, peace, and serendipitous sightings of them also. Those who have lost a loved one often report mysterious interactions with cardinals and healing spiritual experiences. If seeing a cardinal painting helps you feel inspired, I am happy to keep painting them.
If you are a subscriber to my blog viewing from your e-mail, you may have to click thru directly to this post to see the video. I’ll put together a singing video of the lyrics of the instrumental hymn used in the painting video and post that soon. You might already be familiar with it, as it is a popular old hymn called “When Peace Like a River (it is well)”.
I hope all is well with you and your family. It’s a hot summer here in Georgia, USA and the time is going by fast. Because the world is so chaotic, it’s good to keep busy and remain hopeful for the future by focusing on the good things. Stay strong. God bless you.
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 found He is my light, my strength, my song This Cornerstone, this solid Ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm What heights of love, what depths of peace When fears are stilled, when strivings cease My Comforter, my All in All Here in the love of Christ I stand
No guilt in life, no fear in death This is the power of Christ in me From life’s first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand”
(there are more verses, but those are the ones that I feel fit the theme of the painting the most)
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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 a year before we were ready to do so. The way it came together wasn’t what we wanted, but we have landed in a place I already love, and I will heal from the things that happened. There’s a lot I can’t say here, that I’d say if we could be in person and have a long heart-to-heart over a cup of tea or coffee. I’d bring one of my cakes or a batch of cookies. But, here we are, chatting through my blog that anyone can read. It’s a bit like being at a party, having a personal chat, and a person with bad intentions overhears- twists our words to hurt us, or takes offense at something that wasn’t meant for them, and spiritually had nothing to do with them.
Anyway, I think you know what I mean. I wish I could fully describe the extreme highs and especially the lows, but I can’t. I’ll say this: I have felt profoundly hurt and disappointed by some of the unfair and bitterly unjust events that unfolded, but through it all, I felt divine intervention and spiritual support that can’t be explained away by logic. We’d have to believe in a complicated series of coincidences to dismiss it all, and that would frankly be more of stretch to believe than to simply take it as it was: I was being spiritually supported in a mysterious way that I can’t understand, but I’m grateful for. My family felt it too, but I don’t say much about their experiences on the blog, as those are their own stories to decide to publicly tell or not.
So why did I choose to paint a yellow rose as my first painting in my new home? Because, shortly after we moved in, my rose plant bloomed for the first time. It is symbolic for me because yellow roses have a special meaning in my life. My grandma loved them and would keep her roses on a hill that was highly visible. When she passed, I thought of her whenever I saw yellow roses. Since I always admired them, I wanted to grow some. Grandma was successful with hers in upstate New York, but we were living in Minnesota at the time, which has much harsher temperatures in the dead of winter (sometimes as low as -25 F). I could only have a specialty engineered rose, an “arctic rose”, in yellow. That’s all I could find that had a good chance of thriving. It did thrive, and those were the roses that were in bloom long after they should have been, when I was Mom’s caregiver and bringing her cut roses. The roses finally stopped blooming after she passed- which was after the regular season when my roses had usually already stopped producing new roses for the year. If you garden, you can probably relate to how surprising it is when flowers, fruit, or vegetables survive much longer than expected. It feels like a miracle, especially if there is a heavy emotional impact.
After we sold our hobby farm that we’d built (after years of fixing up dirty rundown houses while living in them, selling and saving toward having a nice new house one day and meant as a “forever” family home), because the company my husband worked for moved out of the country and laid everyone off after they trained their replacements, and I lost my job too since my arts school was based in my home studio, we moved several times (my apologies if you’ve heard this story too much, but new people join us regularly and don’t know my story so I have to summarize it fairly often). While moving around, I didn’t want to get another arctic rose, so I waited until I could live someplace warm enough for real traditional roses to thrive. Then I waited some more because I could find any- they were sold out when I tried to get some- and I was always a day late and a dollar short. Time slipped away, and I never did get my real yellow roses… until a few weeks before we learned we would have to move from our rental house sooner than we planned.
Fortunately, because we were renting, I planted my new roses in a grow bag container, not in the ground. So, when we were blindsided by the vacate notice, it was easy to move it to the new place. It was a new plant and hadn’t produced any flowers yet. I was optimistic it would survive and I’d finally get my yellow roses, but until proof of this appeared, the yellow roses were still just a hope, not a reality.
It was astonishing that as soon as we moved everything into this house, the first bud appeared. Even though of course flowers bloom, that’s what they do, it still felt like a breathtaking surprise, as if I was not really expecting to ever see yellow roses. It was glorious! So pretty, dainty, and perfectly yellow- just as I imagined my yellow roses would be!
But then, it opened. And I was amazed at how beautiful it was. This was truly a real rose, not a close copy. I tried to capture it by photographing it and then painting it. I looked outside the window as I painted the rose to see the leaves in real time as well (the flower itself had already faded from its peak glory by the time I finished painting it). In the end, it’s only a representation of what I saw, because there’s nothing that can capture what it feels like to see a rose in person. I hope I came close, and that you can feel the emotion. If I felt uncertain about the love of God blessing my new life, all doubts fell away when this rose opened its lovely pedals. I imagine this spiritual connection to flowers is universally felt by all who feel a connection to nature, regardless of your faith, background, or social status.
We may have to wait a long time for something our heart desires, or for grief to lift. It can take years, and twists and turns we didn’t want to take. We may have to live in places we didn’t want to be, and we may be pushed to go on a new adventure before we are ready. But one day, we will arrive. The time has passed. And we are home. That is when a new yellow rose will open up, the sun will strike upon its glorious color, and we’ll know we are loved by God. Wherever we are sent, in this life or the next, there is something beautiful waiting for us. We are never truly alone, even when it feels like we are. We are never abandoned. We are human beings who feel the weight and burden of time, pain, and fear, that clouds our judgement and burdens our hearts- blocking us from seeing the yellow roses. Until the right time, and my time is now.
I hope you join me on my new painting adventures in my lovely blue home with the red door in Savannah, Georgia! How I got here is complicated. How I’ll live here may be complicated as well. But I know I will have a good life because I choose it. God bless you and your families. Never give up. Always look for your yellow roses to bloom.
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 Can Only Imagine”. I could barely choke out the new lyrics I added to reflect the dark times we live in. Why?
Why do we get emotional when singing, painting, or maybe even some of you got a little teary while viewing my art? Just seeing the image of Jesus may make us feel powerful emotions. For some, it’s intense anger and malice, for others it’s overwhelming love and forgiveness.
I’ve attended many kinds of churches in multiple states and multiple countries. When living in Ireland, my family attended a church in downtown Cork. They were excited to see Americans, as an American had recently returned home and they were now without any in their congregation. They were keen to show off their “light lunch”, which they started up as a new tradition after their American friend told them about potlucks after church. Well, something got very lost in translation!
Yes, Irish and Americans both speak English, but trust me, Cork English is very different and hard for the uninitiated to understand. Also, the use of language and story telling, our different backgrounds, and the way we turn a phrase can cause some confusion. However it happened, the event they called “light lunch” was the biggest church feast I’ve ever had!
They were interested in our response. Did the Americans think that they’d done it up well? I’m laughing just thinking about it. It was a buffet rivaling a casino’s all you can eat binge fest- nothing like the more modest potlucks with casseroles (or “hot dish” as the Minnesotans call it), baked goods, and a few sides. Not that I haven’t been to large potlucks in which people went all out, but the Irish really took it to a whole new level. I have no idea how they got such an impression about American church lunches, but it was quite the experience!
I bring this up as an example of how church is all about perception. What we think church is, what we think it should be, and what it really is can sometimes match up perfectly, but often does not. A church is run by imperfect people and attended by imperfect people, so it will never be perfect. The history and religious foundations may be misunderstood, altered by political powers, or lacking understanding. The music may be off key. The speakers might stumble. The sound system may malfunction. Worst of all, people may leave church feeling more alone than when they came in.
The social and political aspects of church sometimes distracts and suffocates us. Maybe all we really want is the shared hope of life after death and seeing our loved ones again, redemption, mercy, unconditional love, forgiveness, deliverance, peace (“it is well with my soul” even when troubled times come), and gathering with other human beings who also want these spiritual gifts; sharing our lives with other families, seeing babies grow up, couples marrying, and supporting those who grieve- a community based on a genuine desire for everyone to be blessed by God. But the reality of how a church operates can be a vastly different experience than the raw honest emotion and connection that we long for.
So do we want to go to church? Is it worth the risk of feeling angry by something said at the pulpit, or by interactions with the congregation? It is worth feeling lonely, misunderstood, and rejected? Is it worth getting up early, making ourselves presentable, and pushing ourselves socially?
These, and more, are the questions I ask myself every time we move to a new place and need to settle the church question. I also go through this when a church situation is dysfunctional for our family and we need to look at making a change.
We’ve made changes. We’ve taken breaks. And we’ve somehow managed to still want to go to church. There are times when the Holy Spirit is in that place, and the love between fellow humans- many times complete strangers- is very real and powerful.
We have our boundaries though, and 2020’s government control of churches was one of them. We were half the choir, but when they banned singing as a response to orders without scientific foundation, we decided that they banned us. We did not return. For me, a church must be about the people who attend. More so than the political and religious order, more so than the government, more so than history and tradition, the church must be about the people. Jesus never pushed the lepers away, He went to them. He never rejected the elderly or the children. I can’t imagine a scenario in which Jesus would have agreed with the order to ban singing.
And in the end, I will not attend a church that violates my individual sovereign beliefs. Because, what critics say is largely untrue. Many of us do not attended church as cult-like drones, but instead our personal faith is the deciding force wherever we are, including church. And because of this, church (in many cases) is real. It is a space where humans gather, where personalities sit alongside each other, and our differences are tamed only by our desire for love.
When the government goes after the churches, we can imagine it’s because our gathering together gives us power that they do not want us to have. That alone should be enough reason to want to go to church? Maybe so. As I sit here today I don’t feel ready to face a new church experience, but I’m open to changing my mind and heart. I still want the things that I go to church for.
A lot can happen in 30 seconds. Here, through the magic of time lapse, this tree that I painted when we were living in a rural area of Ireland, gets some finishing details.
30 seconds can be the longest seconds of our lives when a baby is born with the cord wrapped around his neck and we’re waiting for him to breathe. That was how my son entered the world. Longest seconds of our lives. He was blue and lifeless. Then, he cried. Fear and impending grief turned to joy.
Life can change in an instant. 30 seconds is 30 instants. It’s a long time. So in that context, a full day is an eternity. Whenever I think I don’t have enough time, I try to remind myself of how time is our perception of it. When we are propelled by adrenaline, emotion, pressure, social energy, or other factors, suddenly we can pack a lot of activity into a short period of time. When we feel sluggish, discouraged, defeated, bored, or frustrated, we can drag our feet and make relatively simple chores seem like impossible burdens, missions we can’t possibly complete. We procrastinate and make excuses for why we can’t do what we really CAN.
I met all the taping goals today for the Easter show! Now I can turn my attention to the unexpected move we have to make in 2 months. It seems like an impossible task at the moment, but do I need a full minute? A lot can happen in just 30 seconds. In 30 seconds I can go from a resigned spirit to high energy. It’s really my choice. The pep talk I gave myself (and you) yesterday was similar to this one and it really helped! Some of you gave me great feedback and I was encouraged to stay the course (THANK YOU! <3 ). Now I can feel proud of what I accomplished today and I know that I can handle the challenges ahead.
Whatever you’re facing these days, I hope that my ongoing saga motivates you to join me in manifesting the outcome we want by powering through with full passion, energy, and hope. Obviously it will be difficult to maintain the full wattage of that power at all times, but if we think in terms of “30 seconds” we may be able to switch our mindset for just 30, and then 30 more… before we know it, the day is gone and we’ve done what we wanted to do!
Well, it happened again. You might remember that I was shaken and unnerved by signs from beyond, messages that made me look into the possibility that someone I knew had died? And yes, someone had- less than two weeks prior, a person in my family connections had passed away. I talked about this in post “On my Mind” and then “Shocking Update“.
So, it was an anxious awakening this morning when I woke from a dream that featured my deceased mom- and someone she knew, who I was close to. It was my childhood dance teacher, who was my teacher for eight years, from age 10 to 18. At age fifteen, I was in a white water rafting accident. I was later hospitalized for frequent daily seizures resulting in paralysis/weakness, and I overheard a doctor say that one day I’ll never get out of that (wheel) chair.
But my dance teacher held my spot open in my dance routines. She visited me at the hospital, dressed as a clown and gifting me with balloons- the good kind, helium filled, which was expensive and a luxury treat back then- and she told me I’d be back in class dancing again.
It took a lot of hard work, but I was on stage performing just a few months later. She awarded me a trophy. The best of all is that she believed in me. The above painting “Miracle Dancer” is inspired by my journey recovering from the accident.
I hadn’t thought of her in a long while, and when I awoke this morning I was distressed about why I’d be dreaming about her. In the dream, we were sitting at a table, talking about Mom, as if my dance teacher was seeing Mom again, or something- I’m not sure. But I knew her clearly to be my dance teacher and it was as if no time had passed between us.
Later this morning, I was still upset about the dream, knowing what these dreams have meant in the past. So I did an Internet search and the results popped up instantly- her obituary. My dance teacher died three months ago, too young to have died from old age. No cause of death was listed. She is the fourth person I personally know who has died within the past 6 months. None of these people died from old age.
Imagining our life connections as a web, strings of my (our?) web are being cut. I have a horrible feeling that this is not the end of these cut strings. I don’t have any anxiety about myself or my immediate family, but I do have a bad feeling about my more distant relationships, acquaintances, neighbors, community, nation, and world.
More about these dreams:
I’m an observer in these unsettling prophetic or message type of dreams (of which I’ve had several; they are always accurate, so I get upset when I have one). The style of dream is very different from a regular dream, and I wake up knowing it’s some sort of distressing message. I know during the dream and after that the message isn’t about me, but involves whoever or whatever is in the dream. Sometimes my dream self can interact, other times I’m on the outside of the scene- I can see the others, but they can’t see me and I can’t interact with them. Either way, I’m an observer/outsider. The premonition doesn’t involve me, other than being upset by a loss or upcoming loss when I wake up and remember the dream (sometimes I have a dream shortly before the person passes, other times shortly afterward, within days, weeks, or a few months).
I realize I should add- these dreams are peaceful, gentle, and the people in them are warmly enjoying conversations with others (sometimes including me, usually not), or are otherwise happy. It’s just that I can recognize that these people are gone (from this world), and that’s what gets me so unnerved. These are not nightmares. These dreams are calm and pleasant, as if the people are showing me that they are well and content, and they are still connected to the people they knew.
It’s me who responds by feeling distressed, but the dreams are meant to be healing I believe. I also feel compelled to share the dreams and their outcomes/updates, as these mysterious events may be comforting to others who wish they had glimpses of the other side. I feel absolutely certain that life goes on beyond. Somehow we are still connected and one day we’ll understand that love is forever.
Even with that hope, I’m really rattled by this one. I can’t believe she’s gone. I feel like I should be able to search for her name and get a different result. But I know what I read is true. When I read about her life, I wished I’d heard the update during a catching-up chat, not by reading her obituary.
I was recently in contact with one of her family members and now I know I’m meant to reach out to that person. It seems these dreams/outcomes end with giving me an “assignment” that is meant to help or comfort someone who needs me. So I will do that.
It’s that time of year again – I’m working on the new Easter Show 2022. The above painting was for my first holiday show, Easter 2020. Since then I’ve done several shows, including last year’s Easter Show 2021 (below):
This year’s Easter 2022 Show painting is planned, the songs are chosen, and I already have the start of my dress. I’m making the rest of it myself and I hope you’ll love it. I figured I better up my game and make one-of-a-kind gowns instead of missing an opportunity to be creative.
These holiday shows are separate from the new shows I plan to do on a regular (weekly is the plan) basis. Those have been temporarily postponed due a number of things that came up and bumped it off schedule. I will put it back on schedule as soon as I can. You might recall I mentioned an inspection I had to prepare for that came up without much notice, and I’ve been planting seeds indoors for my garden. I have limited space and need to use containers because I don’t own this property and can’t put anything into the ground. This makes for a good challenge, and I’m fine with that. Bring it on! I already have a lot of goodies sprouting. But, it is a lot of work to grow our own food and I have to fit it in quickly so I don’t miss the optimal window for our growing zone (8b). Anyway, I didn’t want you to think that the new vlog/green screen show I was talking about has been postponed indefinitely. It’s only on hold, especially since this has now merged with the Easter show prep.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I say what I mean, do what I say. I will deliver the show I promised soon. Until then, new paintings as I finish them, and in a little over a month I’ll launch the Easter show. Busy times. It helps us escape the gloom and doom of this world when we focus on positive, productive, happy things. But I can’t always measure up, and some days I’m just in a nasty funk. Today was sort of like that. I got it together by the afternoon, partly because I was looking through our Easter song choices and it’s hard to stay sullen and resentful when seeing such beautiful lyrics of hope and promise.
Stay strong. God bless you and yours. Spring will be here soon! May the new season bring peaceful times for this dark world.
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.
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.