New Painting, Finally!

See this oil painting of a yellow rose come to life in about 1 minute (time lapse)

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.

Ooh, Pretty!

See this oil painting of a butterfly and yellow flowers come to life in 1 minute (time lapse)

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 flowers as much more yellow (not an orange yellow) and more closed/structured petals and shape (like a perfect little rose). I’ll take a picture of my roses in the near future. They are truly beautiful and I look forward to bringing them to our new house!

My nerves are still running high as we’ve not yet closed on the house and something could still go wrong in the process. I’m trying not to let my worries get the better of me. When my new roses opened up today it was like a sign of encouragement. We see what we look for. If we look for signs of bad weather, we’ll see dark clouds. If we look for signs of hope, we’ll see beauty. God bless you and yours. Enjoy your weekend!

Shocking Update

See oil painting “Visiting Rabbit” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

There’s a shocking update to the post I wrote yesterday called “On my Mind“, please read that one first. More about the history of this type of beyond-the-grave communication is found on the “Visiting Rabbit” page. OK, now for my update. It was really pressing on me to try to figure out the meaning of the many signs and symbols that felt like Mom was trying to tell me something from beyond. It started in again this morning and I felt that this would continue until I got the message.

I decided to do an Internet search for her family members. With the very first name I tried, as someone I knew she was close to, I found an obituary notice for this person’s partner of many years. Having passed away less than 2 weeks ago, this is still a very fresh loss. Mom’s frantic spiritual messages started a while ago, I can’t remember how many days ago. I am convinced that this is the message I was meant to receive and I’m now feeling at peace about it. I will act on the message and reach out to this person.

Well, that’s the shocking update. Always be open to messages beyond this life. We don’t have to know how these things happen, only be willing to hear the message, and help people who need us. Having said that, to be perfectly honest with you, this sort of thing freaks me out. Not my comfort zone, but who says life is meant to be comfortable?

Time Shifts

Watch oil painting “Time” come alive in 2 minutes, featuring an antique pocket watch and roses

This oil painting video needed a change of music when I uploaded it to YouTube today due to a copyright claim (some royalty free music triggers a claim if uploading on some platforms). The new music changes how this painting feels. It seems to suit the way that many of us are feeling. This piece has a lot of dynamics and unexpected key changes, changing chaotic tempos, piercing alarming notes, yet there’s a hint of wistfulness, almost hope even. That sounds about right for how 2022 is going so far!

Compare it to the original music in the video below, which has a vastly different feeling. This bold piece has a tone of mystery, intrigue, reflection, and suspense. By the end, the music shifts to be somber and longing for the past.

These are interesting and challenging times. Why were we born for this particular time? What can we contribute? God bless and keep you, this day and always.

Beauty of Time

Oil paintings, the stories behind them, the real life picture I took this morning, then the update… Are you open to the idea that we don’t understand what time is, and often fail to see its beauty? What does fate, serendipity and destiny mean to you?

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

“Serendipity, the mysteries of life, and how the pieces of a great wondrous puzzle fit together, are beyond our comprehension, yet when we are free to hear the whispers beyond our universe, we hear God’s voice saying, ‘You are not alone. You matter. You belong. You are loved.’ If we know how to look, we see how people, animals, nature, music, art, and events are synchronized, as if the meaning of life centers around only ourselves, one single individual, who, along with the energy of millions of others, form the masterpiece’s gestalt. Time is fleeting, no matter how long we live, or even if we’ve never lived outside of the womb. In the vastness, time is but the anticipation of a single breath among a mighty wind. Time is precious, more valuable than wealth, more valuable than achievements, more valuable than governments. Time belongs to no one, yet is for everyone. Time has no physical boundaries of space or human limitations. Time is both grand and intimate. Time is beautiful.”

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

When I was Mom’s caregiver, I knew her little apartment inside and out because I was the one who cleaned it. Yet it looked completely different when Mom was no longer in it. That first time I entered the place after she had passed was when the first round of grief attacked me. Her tea cup was still sitting by her chair. It wasn’t right that it should be there if she was never coming back. Yet moving her cup was wrong too.

Sorting through Mom’s life was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. During that fateful weekend, we gave away many of her things and sold a few items. One of those items was a very large filing cabinet. We’d placed it into the hall with a sign on it.

A short while later, I opened the door to see a woman in her early twenties in the hallway. I was surprised, because Mom had been the youngest person on that floor, the third floor where only a handful of older people lived. The woman was interested in Mom’s filing cabinet. She liked to sew and thought it would be ideal for holding her craft supplies.

She was holding a newborn baby. It had been a long time since I’d last seen a baby that young. A strange feeling overtook me, as a thought struck my mind. I asked, “When was your baby born?” even though my heart already knew the answer. Yes, her baby was born on the same day that my mother had died.

There are many reasons why I shouldn’t have even seen the young mother standing there with her newborn baby. I also shouldn’t have been alone when I saw her. But in that narrow space of time, we connected. I was meant to see how as one left departs, another life enters. I don’t know if I can put it into words why this comforted me, but I’ll try.

I kept thinking, what if I’d done more? What if I’d nagged Mom earlier about going to see a doctor? What if I’d persisted when she refused to make the recommended lifestyle changes? Mom had said, “I made my own choices, Natalie. There is nothing you could have done.” But I struggled to let go of the idea that maybe I could have persuaded her to make different choices. Mom often said, “If it’s my time, it’s my time.”

One life entering in joy, as another (whose name was Joy) leaves this earth… it was Mom’s time. If she had been meant to stay, she would have stayed. I looked at that sleeping baby in his mother’s arms and said, “You have a beautiful baby. Congratulations!”

I took this photo this morning of the first bloom of the season from my potted patio roses. Isn’t it beautiful, standing tall in the early morning light? Compare it to the painting I shared yesterday. See how tall it’s grown? Notice that the tallest rose used to stand below the top of the trellis and now it is soaring above it.

In both my real life patio rose and the painted roses in my idealized garden, the color is strikingly beautiful. Roses such as these were difficult to grow in the frigid climate of rural Minnesota, where I was living when Mom was alive. I kept “arctic” roses that were born of hybrid research, and when in full bloom looked more like carnations than roses. These didn’t have the vivid colors of the tropical varieties I now have here in Georgia.

Mom would say that she didn’t have a “green thumb”. The only plant she kept was a pair of 70’s style plastic (now considered vintage) home decor gold-painted wall hangings, an outline of flowers on a vine type stem. My subconscious mind seems to have painted a loose likeness of those flowers in the “Time” painting I shared at the top of this post.

The antique watch in the painting is my husband’s, inherited from his grandfather many years ago. We now live in a place that neither his grandfather nor my mother have ever visited. We have a family who has grown past the ages when they were known. If they were seen now, they’d be as strangers.

Time has created a new life for us, and in this life, the roses are red. They are real, and they are beautiful. I do have a “green thumb”, as I love plants, animals, people and life. When it’s my time, I shall be sad to leave.

But I’m still here, and I envision a long life ahead of me. I have been gifted with time. How much love and joy can I pour out while I’m here? What is time, but an opportunity to connect… to add our unique piece to the universal puzzle, and for those who choose… to accept the challenge to live up to the purpose destined for us.

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