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.

Red Flower is REAL

See oil painting “Dancer in a Floral Forest” come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I painted this as an imaginary landscape, but it turns out that those red flowers are real, and I may soon have one in my possession! The flower looks remarkably like it to me, anyway. My daughter took a photo of a red flower that looks very similar to these red ones I painted and said that she always sees hummingbirds near those flowers on campus. Later, she texted that there will soon be a plant sale on campus. So we’re hoping that they’ll be selling those red flowers!

If not, we’ll track down where to buy them, and eventually we’ll have new red flowers for the hummingbirds. I love it when there’s a new surprise quest to find an elusive (elusive to me, the flower doesn’t seem uncommon for this area) new nature treasure. Sometimes my paintings seem to foreshadow future events in ways that are quite mysterious. In this case, it’s just a simple red flower that becomes a joyful treasure hunt and special memory with my daughter, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

When I one day have this red flower, I’ll take a picture of it- hopefully with a hummingbird near it at the same time. Small quests give us something to look forward to. The more quests we accept, the more we are given. When we expect to be surprised by serendipity and joyful connections, we are!

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Memory Lane

The current White House Christmas decorating theme was released this week, and I was reminded of the 2018 event that I was inspired to paint

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Sneak Peek

I’m still enjoying the holiday weekend, but this morning I was by myself while the family slept in, so I had time to dabble with

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Holiday Break

Our house is already changing from pumpkin spices to gingerbread. Today we decorated the Christmas tree and made cookies. Yesterday for Thanksgiving we had a

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Happy Anyway

I struggled to think of what to say for today’s blog post. World events paint a bleak, angry, and fearful picture. What popped into my

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The Unexplained

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,

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Going Fast

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New Painting

This is the painting I finished yesterday. Thanksgiving is coming up fast. Beyond a special meal that features a roast turkey, those of us who

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When Lions Fly

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

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Who we are

Do you ever see yourself in the past, through a photograph, a video, through the eyes of an old friend or relative, or maybe a

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Veteran’s Day

My oil painting is of a roadside American flag on the only way to/from Tybee Island, Georgia. Police officers rescued it from hurricane flood waters

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Update

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

Read More »

Thanksgiving Plans?

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

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Is it a sign?

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

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Peaceful Sunday

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

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Tired?

You might remember when I shared this painting in a May blog post called “Are you Weary?“. It seems a lot of us are struggling

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Humanity

You might recall a long blog post that I wrote back in April called “Fully Human“. It’s quite depressing how accurate my thoughts were, and

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Fluttering

Today I was working on my garden planters when I heard a fluttering coming from a small tree a couple feet from where I was

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Are you an angel?

Watch me paint “We are the Angels that He Sends” in 1 minute

(time lapse)

“This art was inspired by coincidence, fate, serendipity… or divine intervention, depending on your belief system. A casual friend I knew from many years ago contacted me out of the blue. She was traveling through the state I lived in- which was a long way from where we went to school together, and where she still resided. Knowing I lived in Minnesota at that time, she asked me for advice on best routes. Well, it turned out that she was going right by me.

 

It would only be a small detour to drop by our house for a coffee break. So, while she’d never been to my home when we knew each other, and we’d never seen each other outside of a few classes at school, decades ago… she was happy to accept my offer of coffee. I wondered if we would even recognize each other.

 

Of course we did! She greeted me with a big smile and I invited her into our quiet home. My husband had just had surgery and he was recovering in the bedroom. I was taking care of him on my own and I felt drained, overwhelmed. The stress of the surgery was over, and now I was exhausted, yet still anxious.

 

Most of all, the quiet of the lonely house felt loud. But my friend was there- an angel at the door. She talked to me for hours. I gave her advice on something she was dealing with, and it was with reluctance that we finally hugged good-bye. God sent her to me, straight to my doorstep, right when I felt so alone and overwhelmed.

 

Well, later on, when I thanked her and told her how she was an angel appearing at the right time, she was stunned, because it was she who felt that of me! Pouring her heart to me about the things she was struggling with, and receiving what she felt was authentic helpful advice, was me being HER angel, who just happened to live near where she had to pass through…with a listening ear, hugs, and coffee ready to pour.”

 

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

Natalie painting "We are the Angels" 2014
Angels Art oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

There are times in our lives when we have an opportunity to be an angel to someone, and we might not even realize our role in that moment. When we remain open to serendipity and connections, we find them. When we have a trusting and vulnerable heart, angels find us in return.

 

It is said that “no good deed goes unpunished”, but that’s a cynical view of this beautiful life. The truth is, no good deed goes unrewarded. We may not see the blessings right away, but they are stored ahead for us.

 

Are you an angel? I’m trusting that you probably are. ❤️

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Choreograph your Life

Watch me paint “Dancer in a Floral Forest” in just over 2 minutes (time lapse)

Did you notice how my painting comes alive to the rhythm of the music? My brush strokes seem choreographed, as if dancing. This synchronicity was natural and authentic, not contrived. I sped up the painting video and then dropped the music in. Some would call it a coincidence that “random” music synced up with my time lapse painting, but to say that would be to deny the existence of serendipity, collective consciousness, and spiritual connection.

The connection between art and music is very strong. Sometimes when I hear music, I imagine what I’d paint to express the song. An idea flickered through my mind that I could collaborate with indie musicians and songwriters to create something truly original… never before seen! My painting experiment pushed me to new heights and helped me grow as an artist. This first piece was inspired by the original composition of a talented pianist. When I heard it, I asked him if I could use his music as inspiration for my next painting. I painted what I see in my head when I hear his beautiful music. “Dancer in a Floral Forest” is the result (the composer is credited in the video)."
- "Painting Music" blog post by Natalie Buske Thomas

Interactivity usually refers to computing and AI, but imagine this concept in a spiritual sense. In technology, interactivity refers to an individual’s ability to actively communicate with a computer that will reciprocate by responding or adapting its programming to fit the specific needs or wants of the user. What if the spiritual world is even more powerful than any computer?

Imagine if you could choreograph your life in much the same way that my painting appears to dance in rhythm to the original music composition created by a stranger I connected with? What if you had the power to create happy encounters and special opportunities, by merely choosing an extraordinary life? You do have this power. 

From where does this power come from? I believe this power comes from God. Nothing will ever convince me otherwise, but that journey is deeply personal, intimate, and individual. No one can travel the exact path as another, although we may share the journey from time to time. Our connection to each other is nonetheless very powerful, should we choose it to be.

As you read this, I wish health and prosperity for you. May the sun shine upon your face. May you and your family be blessed. Have a good week, dear friends.

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Memory Lane

The current White House Christmas decorating theme was released this week, and I was reminded of the 2018 event that I was inspired to paint

Read More »

Do, then See

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

First the inspiration for this art, then the update. When we say yes to a project, action, task, journey, or relationship, we then see things we’ve never seen before.

“When sharing a painting that was inspired by a dream about the birth of my son ("Blue and Yellow Bird"), someone spontaneously said his favorite bird is the Redwing Blackbird. He couldn’t possibly have known that my son was born in a small town called Red Wing. The serendipity of that conversation was so startling, that it inspired this Redwing Blackbird painting, in which the birds seem to be in a conversation that only God understands.”

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

The story from here gets pretty wild… This past week I was working on a project about serendipity and divine intervention, signs of hope and connection, and other spiritually mysterious events that bring hope to individuals, such as special connections to loved ones who have passed away. I’m nervous about this project because it has the potential to be shared with a wide audience (part of a new publishing platform that I was invited to participate in, I will have no control over its audience).  

One of the stories in the project is about my cousin. The timing of this segment was serendipitous in and of itself because I was prompted to submit the story the same week that would have been her birthday. The story (which I will share at a later time) involved our sons, who had been born on the same date ten years apart. 

Immediately after submitting my story about my cousin and our sons, I received a new email. The first word in the subject line was her son’s name! How did that happen? 

When my eyes first saw it, I was in a sleepy state, having just finished writing and proofing the story and in need of some tea. So, for the first second, my brain thought, “oh no, I didn’t intend to use her son’s name!” For privacy reasons I’d referred to him only as her son. My fuzzy brain thought I was still on the story submission page for the project!

But no, the project window was closed out after I hit the submit button. This was my email window. It was a random message, a marketing teaser for an impersonal mass-mailing newsletter. It had nothing whatsoever to do with me, as it wasn’t a personal email. Her son’s name isn’t common, but it is of Biblical origin. The sales email referred to a Bible story to illustrate a marketing principle that barely made sense. The story didn’t have much of a connection to the point the author was making, so it really did seem as if her son’s name appeared for no logical reason and out of nowhere, to land in my inbox at precisely that moment. 

The odds of her son’s name being the first line of the email I saw immediately after hitting “send” on the story was very slim, slim enough to defy logic and probability. I told my daughter about this and she said, “Must be she approves” (my late cousin approves of the story I wrote about us and our sons). It was a sweet thought, and I hope that’s true. Confirmation of this may have come yesterday…

Yesterday was her birthday, and you’ll never guess what I saw! I saw a bird that I’ve not yet seen here. Not only did I see that bird, but a whole flock of them. Only one stood out as strikingly beautiful though, heavenly even! I gasped when I saw it and could barely get the words out to tell my family to look, look, look!

It was a glorious redwing blackbird! All of the birds in the flock looked like the ones in my painting, except for one bird that landed last. The sun hit his feathers and he nearly glowed with radiance! He had a vibrant yellow streak on his wings, in addition to the red and white markings. This vivid neon yellow is what flashed when the sun hit his wings. 

You might recall that the Redwing Blackbirds painting connects to my earlier art “Blue and Yellow Bird” (a bird that doesn’t actually exist in real life). The yellow bird dream is a story about my son that I plan to write about in the next installment of the same project that features my cousin and our sons. I was dithering about whether that story should be in the project, but now I’m convinced I should commit to it.

I’m still amazed by what happened, and it would make even more sense if I shared the full story, but I’ll keep this brief. The message on my heart to share with you is this: “Do, then See”. Sometimes we are given an opportunity to do something, and we don’t feel any strong connection to the project, volunteer position, task, job, event, travel opportunity, or relationship. It may not even be entirely our choice, as the situation is born out of hardship or circumstance. But if we make the commitment to do it anyway, we may then see how meaningful our action is, and how it relates and connects to other pieces of a marvelous and mysterious puzzle.

“Seeing” is not usually so literal, with the sudden appearance of a spiritually meaningful rare bird landing just a few feet from where I was standing! I can’t promise heavenly sightings that instantly validate our decisions, but when they happen, they take our breath away! The effect of it never lasts long though, and our human doubts creep back in like the tide. Most of the time, we must have faith without the fancy spiritual appearance of birds, butterflies, rainbows, and other signs that people commonly feel encouraged by.

“Seeing” happens after we’ve done what has been offered to us to do; after we’ve had the faith to see it through, especially if we initially had no reason to believe that our action would prove to be meaningful, beneficial, special, or fruitful in any way. Perhaps our rather ordinary action will simply be another task to tick off our lists. But nothing we create, do, or share is in isolation. Every interaction with this world has a reaction. We may not always see it, but sometimes we DO.

It may take many years for something we’ve put into motion to be seen and felt by us. It can take a great deal of faith to remain loyal to a person, action, or path. But if you know in your heart that what you’re doing is what you are meant to do, believe it. Do, then see.

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Memory Lane

The current White House Christmas decorating theme was released this week, and I was reminded of the 2018 event that I was inspired to paint

Read More »

Sneak Peek

I’m still enjoying the holiday weekend, but this morning I was by myself while the family slept in, so I had time to dabble with

Read More »

Holiday Break

Our house is already changing from pumpkin spices to gingerbread. Today we decorated the Christmas tree and made cookies. Yesterday for Thanksgiving we had a

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Happy Anyway

I struggled to think of what to say for today’s blog post. World events paint a bleak, angry, and fearful picture. What popped into my

Read More »

The Unexplained

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,

Read More »

Going Fast

You might remember when I shared this painting in September, and now nearly two months have passed by. Autumn is going fast. Didn’t it feel

Read More »

New Painting

This is the painting I finished yesterday. Thanksgiving is coming up fast. Beyond a special meal that features a roast turkey, those of us who

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When Lions Fly

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

Read More »

Who we are

Do you ever see yourself in the past, through a photograph, a video, through the eyes of an old friend or relative, or maybe a

Read More »

Veteran’s Day

My oil painting is of a roadside American flag on the only way to/from Tybee Island, Georgia. Police officers rescued it from hurricane flood waters

Read More »

Update

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

Read More »

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.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

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

Memory Lane

The current White House Christmas decorating theme was released this week, and I was reminded of the 2018 event that I was inspired to paint

Read More »

Sneak Peek

I’m still enjoying the holiday weekend, but this morning I was by myself while the family slept in, so I had time to dabble with

Read More »

Holiday Break

Our house is already changing from pumpkin spices to gingerbread. Today we decorated the Christmas tree and made cookies. Yesterday for Thanksgiving we had a

Read More »

Happy Anyway

I struggled to think of what to say for today’s blog post. World events paint a bleak, angry, and fearful picture. What popped into my

Read More »

The Unexplained

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,

Read More »

Going Fast

You might remember when I shared this painting in September, and now nearly two months have passed by. Autumn is going fast. Didn’t it feel

Read More »