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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Are you making history today?

Each day is the past in making.

            Since we are on vacation and viewing a lot of historical sights, I realized that each day we are making history.  As I walked by Civil War heroes’ statues in Savannah, I read quotes from them and read engraved markers about their strength and courage.  I wondered when these men and women made these decisions, if they realized they were making history.
Every time I visit Savannah, I take a walk along River Street to visit the statue of The Waving Girl. It is one of Savannah’s favorite stories.  The legend is that Florence Martus was the daughter of a sergeant stationed at Fort Pulaski. Florence, feeling alone, moved to a cottage along the river near the entrance of the harbor with her brother George, the Cockspur Island Lighthouse keeper.
I’ve read several versions of the story, but most agree that she was lonely and daily with her collie companion she would stand by the water and wave a white handkerchief to passing ships.  Soon sailors retuned her greetings by waving white flags or rags.  Often, they would send a horn blast to return her welcoming gesture. She continued this ritual for 44 years.  At night she would wave at passing ships with a lantern. 
The romantic in me enjoys the other legend that at eighteen Florence was courted by a sailor and fell deeply in love.  He gave her his Navy white handkerchief when he had to depart with his ship to unknown ports.  It was a promise that he would return.
I think there had to be a personal relationship that motivated her for 44 years. I think she wasn’t thinking of making history; yet, she did.  Perhaps he had a waving girl in every port, or maybe he was killed in battle.  No one knows, but her constant greeting of the ships made her a famous historical figure in Savannah.  Who knows the real truth? Only Florence I guess, but it is history today. 
Do any of my readers have a better motivation for a woman greeting boats for forty-four years?  I’d love to hear from you.  In the meantime, remember that you may be making history today.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Learning from a child.

Memories of the heart and lessons learned from a four and seven year old.

            For the last two weeks, we have been keeping our granddaughters, so Christine and John could enjoy a long deserved vacation alone in Italy.
            Meanwhile, I have had to resurrect my parental skills of bedtime rituals, packing lunches, and playing every available second of the day.  Sometimes my play is Uno, Barbie doing pretend ballet recitals, or creating art and doing craft projects. On sunny days, it is helping girls climb trees and walking in the park.  Every moment is utilized for fun if at all possible.  The day must stop for meals but other than that the girls have reminded me of the importance of play in life.
         I must admit I have a childlike spirit and enjoy play too.  My play usually is writing, painting, reading, or meditating.. Theirs is constant and changing. Diversity is important to their day. So, as I write this I am short of time but long in thoughts.  I am making a list of  a few of the  things these two gals have taught me in two weeks. 
          1. Do it now. " Mimi, let’s not wait one more minute."
         2." Can we have one more fairy story?" Creating a tale everyday keeps my mind writing and creating.
         3. “Well, let’s eat. You know Ava and I like different things.”
         4."Girls, settle down. Stop giggling and go to sleep." Older child says, " You giggle, Mimi."  Giggling is good for all of us.
         5. When everyone playing Uno gets beat by a four year old three times in a row, it is humbling. Little people need victories too.
         6. Ellie says, “I don’t brush my hair.  Curls don’t need brushed you know.” Appreciate the pluses of yourself.
         7. " Mimi, run, run, run fast as you can. Try to catch me."  Why walk when you can run to your next activity?
         8.” Stay focused, Mimi, stay with us when we are looking at these toys.”
         9. Art should be free spirited, fun, and your own interpretation. “Mimi, didn’t you know using all these colors feels good?”
        10.  “Mimi, put the remote back where it belongs and we all can find it.”
They have taught me so much more and blessed me beyond measure.  They have made a lasting heart memory and reminded me of daily steps needed in my journey. Life is good when you allow a child to lead you.

Friday, October 4, 2013

A dream, a painting, a Spiritual confirmation

Creating by way of the Creator

In my dream, I saw a vision of a vivid orange background with five women hanging on a rope in Africa.
When I awakened, I saw the vision flash before me.  I drew a very rough draft in my journal, and I realized this would be my piece for peace.  I had volunteered to give a painting to be sold in a silent auction at my church.  The last weekend of September, we were racing, praying, and hoping to make others more aware of the need for peace in the Congo.
I painted my long thin canvas orange canvas and waited for it to dry.  I put on my tennis shoes and set out for my training for the four-mile walk I would do to raise funds for the race for peace in the Congo.  As I walked, I began to pray for the women in the Congo and felt a spiritual stirring, a nudging from the Lord to intercede for these women.  I had been praying in the mornings during my devotion time, but those were distant prayers.  Those were prayers that were getting my heart ready to commit to interceding for the vulnerable of the Congo.  Today, was different, I began to feel their despair, their fear, and hear their cries.  Today, I knew my prayers were heart felt and heard by my Father in heaven.
The next morning I arose early to begin my painting. I was at a loss as to what Congo ladies wore.  How could I paint them?
That day I spent two and one half hours at the library searching for photos of Congolese women’s attire.  I only found a book of Faces of Africa.  I took the book home, but I knew my ladies in the painting were to have no faces.  They were the “forgotten” women in the Congo.  Even the media had not given them faces.  The Congo’s violence was seldom covered.   I looked all over the internet and still could find little of their  current, daily dress.  I could see women with various turbans and scarves, and one photo with the ladies in tee shirts and long wrapped skirts.
So, I decided this would be a faith painting.  I would begin painting in obedience.  I would trust that the Spirit would lead me and that He did.  As the figures formed on the canvas, I could feel their hearts, their sufferings, yet I knew hope was building within them and me.  Hope for peace in the Congo was coming forth in the painting and through my spirit from the Creator.  I trusted I could paint this because the great Creator had created me.  I had His spirit and He would lead.
Eagerly I awakened three successive mornings at 5:00, prayed and read the Word and then I’d begin to paint again.  I put dresses on them from my imagination.  I was worried that this wasn’t even the right colors or what the women really wore.  I just kept painting.  After getting the women all hanging from a rope like clothesline, I looked again at the photo of the two women in the wrapped skirts.  I suddenly noticed behind them were mountains.  Mountains! I hadn’t planned for mountains.  I googled the terrain of east Africa and sure enough there were mountains.  So, I painstakingly put the mountains in around the hanging women.
Then, the next morning, I got up to look at my painting and realized one of the women in the foreground, just was not positioned correctly.  I heard in my spirit, “These women have been made strong by their surroundings.  They have learned to endure hardships.” So, I began painting out the one woman and replaced her almost effortless into a strong woman forced to hang, forced to suffer, but she still had courage within.  I felt the Spirit channeling through me as I painted.  Many times I would put down my brush to wipe tears from my eyes.  Sometimes I would just paint with great hurt within. I painted and wondered, “ Is this even how the women look? Do these clothes depict Africa or my image of their dress?”  Truthfully, I was unsure of my painting, but the Spirit just kept me painting.  Spirit led and Spirit designed.  I knew it was bold and I could feel strength in the piece and my deadline for submitting it to the church gallery was near.  I had to let the oils dry or I could not get it to the church.  All that cad red and alizarin paint took a long time to dry.  I carried it to the church with insecurity that it was not good enough to offer.  It was my first painting depicting full figures of people.  I painted landscapes for three years, but I had never painted people. My husband went with me to drop the painting off at church.  He is always so supportive of my paintings bad or good.  Was this one good enough to offer to others at the church auction?
The painting , "Forgotten" was hung in the gallery on a corner panel.  I was amazed at the wonderful creations that were displayed. Evidence of the Creator was apparent.  He was working in the hearts of the artist toward peace in the Congo.  I felt humbled; yet, I was so excited to be a part of this movement of the arts.
It was Saturday night, September 28th when I met Belinda Bauman, who is a writer, author, and advocate for the women of the Congo. She was our guest speaker for our praise gathering.  She explained that when she came around the corner panel  displaying the church’s silent auction art,  she stopped at my bold orange painting and thought a Congolese painted it. The dress was the same as the Congo.  The colors depicted the choice of their fabrics.  The turbans were just as they chose to wear.  
She had faces for my five women on the clothes line.  She had been interviewing these five ladies about the same time I was painting them.  She was in the Congo at a temporary refuge camp and was given permission as a reporter to go within the block and interview.  They led her to five women who shared their story of fears and hopes.  Their greatest fear was that they would be forgotten by the world.  Their greatest hope was peace and safety for their families.  Their desire was to be seen.
Such spiritual affirmation is exhilarating, but more importantly this testimony of two women who had never met were being used by the Lord to insure the Congolese women that they were not forgotten.  The Father saw them and heard their cries. Then, the Holy Spirit transferred that vision to me. God had manifested their likeness on canvas to assure them they were seen and not forgotten. 
The Spirit called forth something within me. I trusted and created.  The Spirit called forth to Belinda to interview those five ladies in the refuge camp at the same time.  My title of the painting was their fear.   Is God real?  I will be pleased to hear your answer.