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, September 10, 2015

Art Is Used To Help the Congo.

 In memory of Congolese displaced women.  


    Today I am posting four paintings that will go to our church auction.  All proceeds go to World Relief Congo.  Violence and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been prevalent for many years.  My church, Fellowship Missionary, has made a commitment for the last few years to come along side of World Relief and provide prayers and funding to help these troubled people.  We have been a part of training peace builders among the tribes.  By we, I mean the people at my church  and World Relief. We pray all 
year for the displaced women of the Congo.  Many of our members train for the Race for Peace and solicit funds from sponsors. The monies go to World Relief to provide more counselors for teaching ways of resolving personal battles and ministering to the tormented and abused women. Over five million Congolese have been killed and slaughtered since 1996. Seventy-five per cent of the population lives on less than $1 a day.  My heart is heavy and burdened for the people of DR Congo.
          As I paint Congo scenes, the women, the surrounding tropical trees, it is as if I am stepping into their land and seeing individuals that become real to me.  God has given me a dream  for three successive years and shown me what I should paint to raise funds.  This year was no exception.  He showed me three women praising, and hope rose as they praised and prayed. 
     I enjoyed painting a stylistic portrait of the three gathered in praise.  This is a different style for me.  Friends have asked me who are the ladies that I paint?  I don’t know how to answer. The ladies live in the canvas and when I apply paint and prayer, they appear.  Now, sometimes I have to repaint if I get a color wrong or a body part out of proportion, but I never tire of painting.  I am as surprised as the viewer with the end result.  God gives me the design and image, but I must create His vision on the canvas.  It is like living on the edge of paradise.  His call, his gift, and the Holy Spirit leading creates these images. Putting our gifts together for the kingdom of God is what Race for Peace and Create4 Peace is celebrating.
     The woman sitting alone at the graveside appears somber.  Yet, there is hope rising in her.  Mysteriously, the MP3 laid down their arms last year.  After four years of intense praying, we heard the news report that for an unexplained reason they would no longer fight.  The warmongers stopped raping and attacking after years of violence in the DR Congo. The woman in the painting has buried her loved one and is not being hunted or accosted by the MP3. As she grieves for her loved one, she is sitting quietly finding hope in her future.
     The two figures carrying something on their heads represent hope rising too.  Hope is slowly rising in the Congo.  Peacemakers hired and trained with our race and art proceeds are helping tribes resolve problems. Life journeys are still sacrificial and difficult, but hope is welling up in individuals.
     The small map is a prayer map.  The woman stands in the midst of the Congo. She sees a beautiful sky and knows that life is getting better.  The keeper of this prayer map is reminded to pray daily for the women of the Congo.  Pray for healing of memories, emotions, and losses.  This map was created on a small four by six canvas, so it can sit on a desk or table and be a daily reminder to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Congo.
     I submit these art pieces and continued prayers that my sisters in the Congo may know peace and hope. Pray with me that these art pieces will bring a hefty price at our silent auction.  These funds will be added to the funds of World Relief Congo.

Monday, September 7, 2015

September and fall have a new meaning.

           September is starting with a thud!            

     I had to go to the dentist again.  I had been painting a Congo picture all morning and had as much paint on me as the canvas.  I looked at the clock and decided I must stop now and get a shower if I hoped to get to my appointment on time.
     I stepped in the shower and turned on the warm water. Suddenly, I could feel my feet sliding and that horrifying feeling of falling.  My feet flew out from under me so quickly I had no time to think or prevent my fall.  I felt totally helpless and out of control as I landed on the right side of my face, then my shoulder, next my knee and lastly a futile attempt to soften my blow by using my hand to catch me.  It all happened in a couple seconds, but I had the feeling time had slowed down, and I could visualize and see each contact point hit the shower stall and then my slippery body landed on the tile in slow motion. 
    I knew my cheekbone and jaw hurt a lot since it was the first to hit the little seat thoughtfully molded into the Plexiglas shower stall.  My endeared bench for shaving my legs was now a destructive enemy.  I could still move my jaw that was positive. Next, I decided I should try to get up and must have pulled the shower curtain which dislodged the tension bar, and it thudded the left side of my head, bounced onto my forehead, then fell on my neck with a strangled hold.  My feet and knees were entangled in my elegant lace shower curtain.  This is beginning to look like a crime scene I thought.
     The water was spewing out onto the curtain and floor.  Of course, no one was home but Dobie Gillis, my sweet senior dog. Since I had left the door open, not to fog the bathroom mirror, he sat in the hall watching me with what his little remaining eyesight.  He tilted his head the way dogs do when they don’t understand and dropped his head and put his nose to the floor.
    “Well, Dobie, it looks like I’ve missed my shower window!”  He just sighed and lay down to see what contortion I’d do next. I slowly tried to sit up but had to untangle my legs from the octopus arms of the shower curtain and rod.  My head was spinning, but I got back into the shower stall and washed my hair, finished my shower, and dried my now throbbing body. I went to the freezer, grabbed a commercial ice pack, and held it gently on my cheek and jaw.  I looked at the clock and thought I had just enough time to get to the dentist.  Should I go?  Was I in one piece?  Could I drive?
     I could move all body parts, so I assumed I had scathed by what could have been a bone-breaking bonanza. I dressed slowly trying not to stress any of my bruises and sore places and arrived at the dentist on time.  For two weeks, my dentist had been adjusting my newly created partial. On my day-by-day visit, he would grind a little away attempting to make it a comfortable fit.
    “How are you today,” Dr. Bible generically inquired.
    “You might not want to ask,” I jested.
     He grinned.  I smiled holding my jaw and told him my tale of woe.
     Now, a couple of days away from my own version of slip and slide, I am aware of my grace covering.  I went to water aerobics the next day to smooth out some of my kinks and knots.  I have placed a rubber skid-free mat in the bottom of my shower and am working through shower phobia.  I’m grateful for God’s protection one more time.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Avocados teach and ripen

Avocados  bruise, you know?

     I left the dentist office and walked like the hunchback of Notre Dame to my car.  My right shoulder had frozen while driving there.  I was in intense pain and had little mobility in my right arm.  Feeling bruised in my mouth and my arm, I decided as soon as I left the dentist office I would go back home and ice my shoulder.
    While driving home, I realized I needed buns for tonight’s burgers and some bananas and avocados.  Since I was near George’s International Grocery, I decided to stop there. I bought my groceries and a few other Mexican things that I love from there and limped to the checkout line.  Most everyone talks Spanish, so when I go there I smile and nod a lot and understand little.  
    The clerk checked me out and I returned to my parked car.  I opened the door but had great difficulties because of my frozen shoulder.  So, I threw in two bags with my left hand, pushed my purse in with my body, but the right arm wouldn’t function, and I dropped my avocados under the car as well as my freshly packaged feta and olives.  While I was trying to reach under the car and fetch my groceries, my butt hit the door and the door slammed shut.  It began beeping when I tried to open it.  I stared at my keys inside.  My purse contents had slid out while I threw things in and I could see my phone, but, of course, I could not get to it.  (Beeping continued and people eyed my car and me.)
    The day was hot and humid. Few people around me spoke English and if any, very broken.  I saw two tall Hispanic men that looked like they were going to lunch.  Their attire spoke “businessman” to me.  I approached them and told them of my dilemma.  They looked a bit startled and stared hard at me.  I convinced one of them if they would dial my husband’s cell phone, perhaps he’d have an idea.  The man patiently dialed Denny’s number.  The phone rang and rang, which I knew it would because he was painting the outside of our house.  I hoped he might hear it but that didn’t happen.  I thanked the businessman and went back into the store with my feta, olives, and bananas.
     I asked another person for help and they said, “ Find policeman,” while pointing to a parked patrol car.  I went up and down the aisle but saw no uniformed officer.  I checked the taco luncheon counter in the Mexican store and their bakery store.  No policeman in sight.  So, I went to a lady running a register and told me her of my dilemma. She just shrugged and shook her head no.  So, behind her I noticed a kind of service window and a man was speaking to someone on the other side.  
   I went behind the grocery clerk and said, “ Hi.  Excuse me.  I need help.  My keys are in my car.  Can you help me?”  The red-shirted man smiled so kindly at me and replied in Spanish.  
    “I’m sorry, I do not speak Spanish,” I said.
   “ Tengo un amigo mecánico. I call.  Yes?
 “Yes, please.”
     I hoped he and I understood each other.  I waited in the lunch area for about 20 minutes.  I came out and found the Mexican man stocking shelves.  I used my best gestures and asked, “ Hi. Amigo here?”
    He immediately called on his cell phone again.  His friend was near and told him it would be thirty dollars to get into my car. The grocery man said, “ Thirty dollars pay.”
    I nodded and said, “Yes.”
    I remembered someone had been shot in daylight in this parking lot in the spring.  I pushed that interrupting thought away and watched as the mechanic and his friend worked diligently on this humid, 82-degree day.  Holding my white plastic grocery bags, I cheered them on.  They spoke Spanish.  I spoke English, and we all were sweating in the same language.  After forty minutes of trying several things, the door opened.  I thanked them over and over. “Gracias, thank you, thank you. Gracias.”
    As I wrote the check, I thanked them and hugged the mechanic.  The grocery man found my avocado on the car floor. He handed it to me and said, “Aguacate magullan fácilmente.”  I smiled and seemed to understand that he was warning me of bruising the avocado.  Gratefully, I climbed into my car and drove home.  I was exhausted, hot, hungry, but so pleased these two men helped me.  When I got out of my car, I heard a phone ringing.  It was a phone on my hood. I hadn’t even noticed it. How had it endured the trip home without falling off?
    When I answered it was a man speaking Spanish fast and nervously.  I didn’t understand a word, but I suspected it was the mechanic.  I kept saying, “Are you the man who fixed my car? Did you help me get my keys?  Is this your phone?”  
    To all these questions he answered, “Yes”. Then, he said, “Bring to George’s International Grocery, please.”
    “Ok, I will be right there.”  I backed out of the driveway and went back to the grocery.  I went inside and searched for the man with the red shirt that had helped me.  After walking every aisle, I found him.
    “ Hi,” I said. He looked at me with a strange look on his face.  I showed him the cell phone.  
   “Your friend, the mechanic. His phone,” I explained.
    He immediately motioned for me to follow him into the luncheon area.  There was the mechanic eating a taco at the bar.  When he saw me, his grin was bigger than his mustache.  I handed him the phone.  He immediately got out his billfold and tried to return my check I had written him earlier.  
    “No, no,” I said. “You keep it.  I thank you for your help.”  
     He said in broken English, “Thank you for returning my phone.  You are very honest.”  I hugged him and told him he was my new amigo.  His smile grew broader and he repeated, “Gracias, gracias.”
    I decided to have a chicken taco.  I’d worked up an appetite in the last hour and half.  So, I sat down alone and was enjoying my soft taco.  A man standing by my booth asked me what was good at this restaurant.  I told him I enjoyed the chicken tacos.  He went into the grocery part of the store and then returned five minutes later.  He was standing looking at me again.  
    “Are you eating a taco salad?”
    “No, a chicken taco, ” I replied.
    “Are you married?”
    “Yes, I am,” I said lowering my eyes to my meal.
    “That’s a shame.  I’d like to marry you and buy you a good meal.  You are a good looking woman.”
    “Thanks, but I am married, “ I said as casually as I would ask him to pass the salsa.

   He left.  I left.  The mechanic left.  I smiled to myself as I walked outside. I wondered if the man who wanted to marry me thought I was an old hooker, a distressed bag lady, or he just believed in short engagements. As I climbed in my car, I remembered that avocados bruise easily.  I realized that the morning’s activities had dislodged my aching shoulder and my catastrophes had been resolved.  Just like an avocado, I had ripened.  I understood two Spanish speakers without knowing their language.  I hadn’t had a proposal in 48 years and today it happened.  I might have a few bruises, but I learned a lot about gratefulness today.  I’m pleased for the city that teaches me kindness through diversity.  I’m thankful to be able to drive my air-conditioned automobile again.  Most of all, I‘m appreciative of caring strangers.