Thank you for stopping by my blog.

I write day after day because I discover extraordinary lessons from ordinary life experiences. I record my visual portraits of everyday life filled with something sacred in hopes that my reflections might bring an insight that blesses my readers.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ellie,my Reading Fairy

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This is Ellie. She is almost two and has already found her creative self. She and sister have a costume box , which they delight in using almost daily. Pretending to be what you think you are is their daily doctrine. Not a bad motto for life.

Ellie loves to dawn this bright red net dress and purple wings. She Skypes me in her “butiful costume” as she says. This dress just makes her happy. In the photo Grandpa is reading to her. She now has new slippers that she wears even to bed.

Oh, wouldn’t we all want to be as free as a two year old? She doesn’t care what others think of her fashion choices. She likes them. She doesn’t worry if her family loves her. She knows they do and acts loved. She loves her babies, kisses them, and talks to them gently. She emanates the love she knows and feels.

She smiles often and giggles until she falls down. When we say “no” , she melts into the floor like a collapsing building. She says, “ no, Mimi” over and over just to hear herself say no to an adult. I hear that little voice in my head each day. She is demanding to be heard and does it boldly and like a two year old. I often tell her, "You are acting two, Ellie.” She replies, “No, Mimi”.

She reads constantly. She reads alone or brings me a book or anyone else who will read it to her. I love to watch her face as we read the familiar words and pictures. She lights up when she sees the babies playing with balloons and costumes. Her little jaw drops and her lips pout when we read about a baby who is crying. Her emotions are shaped by these words. Through these words she identifies with her life experiences and expectations. Books are her surge protector, her data base, her dictionary, and her entertainment. Once again Ellie has reminded her grandmother of some dynamic life principles.

Dress in what makes you happy. Pretend to be what you wish you were and soon it will be a part of your persona. Act loved because you are. Allow your emotions to be a part of you everyday. Read often, read often, read often. Words will inspire you and shape you. That child like spirit is irrepressible. She is naturally creative and makes me appreciate life more each day.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Faith in Him, not Me

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What Is In Your Hand?

While reading in Exodus this morning, I was reminded of how Moses tried everything not to be God’s messenger to the Egyptians. Moses pointed out his age, his poor command of the language,and his inabilities. God knew his heart. God knew Moses had a heart of wax that could be molded by the Spirit of God. God trusted that Moses would eventually listen to God's call. To further persuade Moses, God asked, "What's in your hand?"

For some reason, Moses' first reaction gives me comfort. I too have many times told the Lord I am not equipped to be His messenger. I too have inwardly been asked, “ What is in you hand?”

It is a sobering question to answer before the Lord. He has made me and given me my gifts, my inclinations, my heart for Him. I must be honest before Him because He knows me. He knows me so much better than I know myself.

I thought I could not manage or live through Alzheimer’s with my mother. God showed me that in my hand was optimism. I could be by her side and cheer her with my presence. I could offer her art opportunities , so she could still be involved in color. Recently, I found one of the notebooks where we had drawn butterflies, flowers, and spring blossoms. Because of her foggy mind, Mamma’s pictures were distorted, but her colors were loud and strong. I would applaud her efforts and command of color. She would smile sweetly . This brought me such joy. God knew what was in my hand.

Another time God asked me to go to Kazakhstan. At first , I was so reluctant. I drug my feet. My excuses were: I don’t know the language, it is too far away, I was taught fear of Russia as a child, I am not ready, and I did not have that much money. I sounded a bit like Moses. My lack of confidence was in me. I wasn’t giving credence to my God and His power, His words, and His favor. It took me a couple of years to trust Him totally. Finally, I listened and said, “ I am weak but You are strong. Let’s go together.”

I should have responded that way immediately. Gratefully, He knew my heart. He knew I had to prepare my spirit to rely on Him , not me. He knew what was in my hand . He knew I could be used to touch the educator’s hearts and minds in Kazakhstan. My visits there have given me growth, insights into their culture, and best friends. God knew what I needed to develop me and help them. He knew the gifts He had given me and only asked me to use them, and He would do the speaking, the demonstrations, and guide my teachings. Again, leaning on Him , following His urging brought me such joy and understanding of His power, His presence, and His love.

These difficult times have developed my faith, my trust , and love of God. I pray today that my heart is waxen, not hard like Pharaoh’s . May this week bring us all a week of listening and learning. May we answer willingly and come to realize what is in our hand.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Spiritual Skies and Lows

Spiritual Skies and Lows

I am learning to paint a sky.  I imagined it to be much easier than it is.  Bill Inman teaches me to glaze color on top of color to create the movement of the wind in the clouds.  He spends much of his time instructing me how to make light shine through these clouds.  I must insert tiny bits of light yellow into the tips of the clouds.  If my brush is too full of paint, I make a blob of yellow instead of a highlight.  I am immediately disappointed and wish I had not made the mistaken stroke.  I realize my error but often do not know how to fix it.  I am so distraught that I just want to quit, take my paints and go home.

For this reason, Bill is my instructor.  He immediately understands what I have done.  He explains that the wayward blob is a result of not using my brush correctly.  Again, for the umpteen time, he demonstrates how to use my brush.  Then, he tells me what color of paint is needed to obliterate my blob.

Painting is a spiritual endeavor.  My sky painting has taught me so much about my heavenly Father who created our sky.  I am reminded of the story of Abraham’s experience when he trusted God.  God instructed Abraham and he obeyed. His faith was tested when he was told to sacrifice his only son , Isaac.
(Genesis 22:1-19)  Abraham had the understanding that God would work things out. God would provide the sacrifice.  He had his confidence in God, not his ability to climb this mountain.  His faith was in God’s provisions, not in how awkward it was to ready his son for sacrifice.  His whole experience was a God thing, not an Abraham thing. 

I too must enter into a trust with each painting.  My strokes feel awkward and my blobs are disappointing.  However, by the hand of a master painter, I have renewed confidence.  He can instruct me how to turn away from using my brush incorrectly and how to make light highlight dark values. 

The  Word of God  instructs me on  how to live my life to create a painting that is pleasing to Him.  I have made some blobs and awkward strokes on my journey.  However, my God patiently instructs me again and again until my painting is complete and a beautiful representation of Him.

Just like Abraham, I have spiritual highs and lows.  I know each spiritual step is directed and corrected by my heavenly Father. Now, back to learning how to paint a sky.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eating and Pickin' with Angels

Eating  and Pickin’ With Angels

I come from a long line of storytellers.  It could be our Irish roots or our Cherokee heritage.  It could be we learned to tell stories from our elders.  It is in our blood , and as a child I loved family gatherings because I learned so much from my ancestors.  Our gatherings were always around a well-filled table of  sumptuous southern cooking.  Platters of crisp fried chicken surrounded by puffy biscuits and slick gravy were standard fare.  Included in that medley of foods were fresh cooked shuck beans, cucumbers in a sweet and sour dressing, and a plate filled with green onions and tomatoes, new potatoes and green beans, squash, and on  and on. 

Each member had a story behind their food offering.  For example, the fried chicken was the recipe from Aunt Lynchy.  She fried up a big platter and left it out for visitors  who might come by while she was out chopping wood or planting the field.  Passing  Kentucky law men and neighbors knew a tasty platter of chicken awaited them any time they passed through.  With Aunt Lynchy’s open door policy and tasty handout, she lived to be 104.

Now, the biscuit recipe was my grandma’s.  She had nine youngins’ and little money.  So, they grew up on lots of biscuits and cornbread.  Grandpa Eli would bring home hobos from the train , and he would offer them a “full stomach” guarantee before they left.  I remember sitting at the table with these old gents and thinking I wished they had left with a “good cleaning” too.  Grandma always reminded me that they might be an angel of which we were unaware.  So, we were to treat them with respect and honor.  I guess that is why we ate so many meals with the angels.

Shuck beans were Aunt Mary’s specialty.  She would grow the green beans, pick and wash them,  and string them on a long piece of cotton mending thread.  Then, she would put them on the rafters to dry.  After they were dried and shriveled, she would cook up the best pot of beans anyone ever tasted.  They were seasoned with salt pork, of course.

Grandpa Eli constantly told  Indian legends, railroad stories, or nature tales.  I would sit by his knee and listen to his tales between his asthmatic wheezing.  He used to send shivers down my spine telling me about the big, hoop snake that lived in the meadow.  Grandpa  explained  that he was looking for dandelion or other edible greens, and he would hear, “  Whoopa, whoopa, whoopa.”  He would say it really eerie , and I would snuggle nearer to him.  “Child, that ole snake puts his tale in his mouth and makes himself into a hoop.”  Eli continued, “ Then as it rolls down the meadow you can hear the hoopin’ sounds.”  Every time he and I would walk in the woods or meadow, he would ask , “ Can you hear that sound?”  And I could.

So, family gatherings trained me in story telling and great cooking.  One other ingredient was the music.  My uncles played guitars and banjos and had every aunt crying as they sang “The Old Rugged Cross” and “ I ‘ll Fly Away, O’ Glory.”  We sang and cried and openly expressed our love for our Savior.  These were blessings that I cherish. Family blessed by God is a wonderful start to any year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The first day of 2011

New Year’s Day             2011  20ll   2011  2011  2011  2011

Well, it is 2011.  Today I begin a new year of writing and creating.  I write for the joy of writing, so this should be a joyful year.  I don’t really make new year’s resolutions, but I set goals .  I will write more and paint more this year.  Most self-help books indicate that I should say specifics like : write two hours a day, paint four hours every Thursday and Saturday.  I am not made up of specifics, details, and exact quotas.  God just made me spontaneous, free, and appreciative of  each moment.

I will sit in the sunshine, walk in the wind, play with my granddaughters, and enjoy the feel of the keys on my fingertips.  I will write the songs, the longings, the anticipations within my heart.  I will not worry that my writing is “not good enough”.  Instead, I will acknowledge that my writing is my voice within.  It is the pleas of my heart to share my thoughts, my happenings, and my God praises.  I must put these ideas into words to know completeness and understand my destiny.  I have a compelling need to chart my journey in journals, in blogging, in short essays, and in poems and scrapbooks.

My visual world brings depth to my journey.  I realize while painting an image how art brings me closer to my Creator.  Art encompasses my soul, my being, my emotions.  Through painting and scrap booking and visual journals, I document my stories, ideas, and emotions.  Visual creating is so close to writing.  Each takes all my focus and a little courage.  I must tromp out that critic voice that says, “ You can’t write; you can’t paint.”  That voice is loud and tries to obstruct my creating.  I know that God created me and is the giver of my gifts.  It is He who makes me hunger to paint with words and oil colors.  It is as if He is speaking directly to me as I enter into creative acts.  I cherish these moments and plan to honor my gifts and use them more this year. 

So, as I reflect on this new year, I know that I know God has an ultimate plan for me.  I know that I know I will be needed by friends and family.  I understand that His grace will be sufficient for whatever challenges I must face.  I know that I know creating will bring and document memories of 2011. I know that I know that it is the Giver of these gifts that brings me joy and hope.