The Unexplained

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

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

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

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


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!


Garden Walls

Watch this oil painting come to life in under 2 minutes

(time lapse)

In June, I talked about this painting in a blog post called “Solitary Roses“. The part of that post I’d like to highlight today is this: 

“It’s healthy for brains to occasionally build garden walls, where we can retreat into a creative, spiritual, reflective space. ‘Unplugging’ is about much more than simply unplugging from the Internet, cell phones, televisions, or any other electronic gadget or screen. If our mindset is still controlled by the world’s pacing and agendas, we haven’t truly unplugged- we’ve merely paused the stream. What we need is garden walls inside our minds, a place we go when we need to connect our minds to our spirit and body. In that space, we are at peace: undisturbed, unhindered, and unburdened.”

It can be challenging to take time to simply be still, without letting our thoughts race, without staring at a screen, without multi-tasking, and resisting being occupied every second of the day. But if we do this, we can slow down time. Time passes from one hour to the next, one day, month, and year to the next, in a blur of mostly insignificant events that we don’t remember later. When we focus on the passage of time and reflect on who we are, who we want to be, and who we can be for others, we stop the manic pace that makes time race forward without any awareness of it. When we feel gratitude for every moment and pause our lives to notice, time slows.

It is when time slows that we learn the secrets that children, the elderly, and people under emotional crisis (such as grief, post-trauma, disability, etc.) already know: all that matters is right now, this very moment. If only we could feel this way, think of what we’d do with our blessed moment, our most priceless treasure! Time is what we all want when the end is near. Why wait until we’ve lost what we most desire and can never buy? We have time now. Tell your dear ones that you love them. Do something that makes you happy. Build garden walls inside your mind.

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You are Worth More

Watch oil painting “Sparrows” come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

The last time I shared my sparrows painting was in April, in a blog post called “More than Sparrows“. But today I’m thinking about the “don’t be afraid” part of the scripture that inspired this painting:

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

There are dire warnings of all kinds of upcoming calamities and a predicted dark winter, and indeed, we are facing many fearful events in this age. It’s important to control our fears and learn how to not be afraid. It’s normal to feel afraid, but the act of being afraid is a matter of spiritual choice. We can choose to be courageous even when we feel afraid.

We will never be able to eliminate all of the dangers that life throws at us, especially if powerful forces are intentionally creating terror and suffering… and throughout history, this has always been true to some degree. But if we allow our fears to consume us, we will not thrive, and we may even make ourselves ill. Survival isn’t about just barely making it through the ordeals of life, but ensuring that we are strong enough to endure it with such determination and resilience that there is a beautiful life stretched ahead of us.

To make it through to the beautiful life ahead of us, we must find the beautiful moments within the hardships. We can’t wait until life looks like we want it to, as we need peace and joy every day. Like nutrition for our bodies and wisdom for our minds, we need happiness for our spirits. It’s possible for humans to give up the will to live in their sleep and never wake up. That’s how powerful our spiritual self is. Despair is dangerous. We must fight against it!

May the common sparrow encourage us. They seem to have an insignificant life, yet they are wonderfully made to instinctively know how to find food and survive the challenges of nature. They do more than survive, they thrive. As in, they lead a full bird life, the best that a sparrow can do. I see them flying about, gathering socially with their fellow birds of a feather, and settling in on the platform of our bird feeder. Their needs are met, by nature and by mysterious interactions with others (like me, putting food out there for them to eat).

We too experience more moments in which our needs are met than moments when we are in lack. This is easily proven by the fact that we are right now still alive. If we had too many moments of lack, we’d- to put it bluntly- be dead. But we are not dead, and we mustn’t ever let our soul feel deadened when we are clearly very much alive. May our blessed condition of living be enough to desire to not just survive, but to thrive. Seek joy in every little thing. Do not be afraid.

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Seasonal Perspective

Watch oil painting “Trees and Stream” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

When I shared this painting with you in July, I was thinking about time, and I used this painting to illustrate how we don’t know if the sun is rising or setting without context. It was a summer day when I showed you this one, and my thoughts were completely different on that day than they are on this one. Seasonal perspective is the obvious difference. Now I see this as an an autumn orchard painting, with trees ready for harvest. The orange and yellows look like October when viewing this art in October. So, that’s easy to figure out, but there’s more to it than this…

Seasonal perspective can be complicated, just as humans are complicated. For me, October is always bittersweet. I look forward to the fun treats and desserts, and the upcoming joy of Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions with my family. But my mom’s birthday was in October, and I think of her for the entire month. I think of the good and bad parts of our relationship, the traumatic experiences as her caregiver, the final dramatic moments that changed me forever, and how much time has passed since. Just when I think I have moved on, my heart says, “OK, it’s been long enough now, Mom. When are you coming back?”

But we can all be like that girl reading a book in the orchard. She was an after-thought. I didn’t intend to put a person in that landscape. The landscape was a project for my 2021 collection, but now it seems like this art wouldn’t be the same without the girl in it. She is what makes this scene what it is. It’s her response to the serenity of the place that helps us feel peaceful when we view it. Without this context, we might not have felt as calm. Maybe we would have interpreted it entirely differently. 

For example, the sunrise could have felt like the harsh glare of the morning rush, and the fully ripe fruit may have symbolized work that needs to be done right away before the harvest is ruined. It may have seemed stressful. Or, if we saw the sky as the sun setting, maybe we’d have thought that time was running out on the day. Instead of seeing a busy morning, and the rush of work ahead, we may have seen the day as over and the work was left undone. But the figure of the girl, relaxed and absorbed in her book, tells us that this is a different painting. It is one of letting go. It is one that isn’t ruled by work or time. We don’t even know if it is morning or evening.

And when I view this art in October instead of July, or when I first painted this in the spring of 2020, I now see it through a different spiritual seasonal perspective. Autumn tends to be a time of reflection and letting go. Leaves fall, flowers die back. The wind picks up, and our thoughts go toward the upcoming holiday season and long winter ahead. This can bring us to mind of loved ones, even if our loved ones weren’t born in October.

Art is a healing language. Even though I try to express in words what my paintings feel like to create and what I want to say when I share them, and how my perspective changes with time, it’s still difficult to explain in words, because I’m translating from colors and movement on a canvas. As I share my paintings and thoughts with you, it is my hope that the healing language of art makes a positive difference in your life. God bless you and your families.

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Are your seeds growing?

Watch this oil painting of a lily come to life

in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

I had lilies just like this one in the painting, when I lived in Minnesota. They grow wild and are very hardy. They spread very easily. People use them for ground cover to fill in unused areas of property. Indeed, it was very easy to maintain these flowers. All it took were a few transplants and they took off on their own.

I’d heard that the same is true for chives. At a property we were staying in, in Indiana, the grass in the back yard had been overrun with chives. My husband noticed the distinctive onion smell when he walked out there. The chives were like weeds.

So, when I wanted to plant them here, where I’ve been living for the past four years in the Deep South (Georgia), I thought it would be easy. It was not. I went through two chive plants that we bought from the store. Dead. And dead. Then I planted from seed. They didn’t even germinate. I tried again. Nothing!

I wondered if I should plant something else in the lifeless pot. Why was it so difficult to plant chives? True, it’s been hot here, and chives like cooler weather. But there’s been a break in the heat and still nothing! All that was growing in there were a couple of pea spouts, from seeds that the birds had carried from my patio garden container over to the pot I’d intended for chives (cardinals, they’ve been caught in the act of transplanting my garden seeds several times!).

Today I read about something called a “prayer walk”. The author said you should walk prayerfully and be open to receiving a gift that will have spiritual meaning to you when you see it. I wanted to try this, so I did. But I didn’t see any gift and I shrugged it off as “oh well, I guess that didn’t do anything for me”.

I was heading back into the house when a flash of vivid brilliant red caught my attention. There was a red butterfly flying in my line of sight. I looked it up just now to see what I could have seen, and I think it’s a “red admiral”, a migratory butterfly that spends the winter in warmer states, such as Georgia. The red is only in the markings on the body, but it is so bright that when in flight, a flash of red would definitely be possible. I think that’s what I saw.

It was flying in the distance, across from the pot of soil where I’d planted chives seeds. I looked at the pot, considering whether or not to pull the errant pea sprouts planted by the cardinals. Lo and behold! My chives had sprouted! There were many tiny stems! Spiritually, this felt like my gift, and I instantly realized it was a metaphor for life in general.

When I want something to happen, I must be persistent. Try a new way. If the seeds don’t grow, try again. And I must live my life without obsessing and watching the pot. The seeds I planted and thought would never grow may just sprout, just when I was about to give up.

Have you planted seeds? You may not think your work is making an impact, but maybe it is! You might feel as if your efforts are never going to pay off, but maybe they will! Perhaps you’ll see a red butterfly and look down to find that the seeds you’d planted have sprouted. I mean this figuratively, metaphorically, and spiritually, but wouldn’t it be amazing if you literally saw a red butterfly too? You never know!

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Worn

Watch this “Armor of God” oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

There’s a lot going on in the world today, and I feel worn. Do you? I’m sharing this “Armor of God” painting again, a metaphor for spiritual strength, as I talked about in a blog post called “Are you wearing armor?” I could use some spiritual strength today, so I’m focusing on things that restore my spirit.

There is much evidence of wrong, but little justice, enforcement of laws, or deliverance from evil. These things can wear on the soul. It’s good to focus on what we can control. Strip everything down to the simple acts that keep us alive from day to day, minute by minute. Eat good food. Drink water. Rest. Sleep.

Each day we are still here is a day that we were destined to be here. Why? Why are we here? We don’t always know why we survive when others do not, but we honor them when we are grateful to breathe another day. When I am worn, I don’t listen to “news” or let the malice of noise drown my inner voice. I choose gratitude.

Gratitude is what raises us up, because we are empowered by what we already have. At this moment, I am looking forward to eating a fresh salad. It’s a simple thing, but good food matters to this moment. Living moment by moment is what gets us through when there’s not much we can do to change the weight of the world. All we can be is who God made us, but one small act can help another. I hope that my blog posts encourage you. Stay strong, and know that if you’re feeling worn, this too shall pass. No season lasts forever.

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The Unusual

Watch this oil painting of the mother of Jesus “Mary of God’s Favor” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This oil painting was inspired by a statue I saw in Savannah, Georgia (and was for the art collection and book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia”). It turned out a bit odd, but just like I talked about before, in the blog post “Art I Don’t Like“, once I share my art it doesn’t belong to just me anymore. Art is a language and what it means is left up to the viewer. The meaning can even change depending on the mood, perspective, and time that the viewer sees it. Something we saw in it yesterday, may look different today.

When I shared this art inspired by a statue of Mary, someone felt a strong connection to it. He had an emotional response to this piece that I must respect, even though I personally think this art is unusual and even awkward. That’s definitely not how this man saw it. He felt that this painting resonated with his spiritual connection to Mary, and to his faith in general.

I’m going to keep on painting, always working toward my lifetime goal of 1k finished works, and along the way, there will be times when my journey isn’t about me. Instead of dismissing ideas or chucking my work in the bin, I will be generous about sharing paintings that I don’t feel a connection to, knowing that someone else might. What is unusual and off-putting to one person may be special and emotionally important to another.

May this be a metaphor for our lives. We may not always know when our inner light shines brightly for another person. Never hide yourself away from others. Even when it’s difficult, intimidating, awkward, or humbling, let us pledge to be generous about sharing who we are. Our energy is a language and a gift that is meant to be shared. We may not see what others see in us, but what they see may be exactly what they need. This is a hurting world. May our light shine even when we don’t feel worthy or special. We are a work of art that has value when shared.

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Forced to Slow Down

Watch this oil painting illustration for children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” come alive in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

This part of the book was inspired by when my son was in the hospital for surgery and his recovery. It was hard seeing my normally happy and active child so weak, sad, and listless. He is a college student now, healthy and sturdy.

Active people hate to be forced to slow down. That’s my status for today. Saturday I was pulling weeds and spraying the concrete with strong jets of water from the hose. I sprayed an ant nest and the tiny furious insects immediately swarmed my feet. I was wearing sandals, so even though I sprayed my feet off as quickly as I could, they had already stung and bit my exposed skin many times.

Here it is, two days later, and the itching and swelling are still miserably intense. My foot swelled so much that it feels funky to walk on it. I didn’t sleep well last night because of the interminable itching, despite creams and medicine, which only took the edge off. So, I’ve been forced to slow down, to ice my foot and give my body time to heal from this irritating development.

I hope to bounce back quickly, but for now, it’s difficult to sit in one position for too long as my foot swells and itches like crazy. No painting until I kick these allergic reactions to the ant bites, or until I find a way to paint with my foot elevated (if this ordeal goes on too long and I lose patience with it). I have already found a way to do dishes by propping my foot up on the counter while I use the sink. Good thing I was a dancer in another life.

Using this incident as a spiritual metaphor, there are times in our lives when something happens that forces us to slow down. Our normal busy thought patterns are disrupted. Our usual daily thoughts are put on hold. During such times, we become philosophical and reflective. We wonder, if our regular life can be stopped suddenly without our consent or warning, perhaps the things we do aren’t as important as we thought? 

What do we miss doing when we are forced to slow down? What are we relieved to have an excuse not to do? How can we do more of the former and less of the latter? When we are forced to slow down, it’s an opportunity to re-evaluate how we live. 

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Darkened Woods

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

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

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