As a child I would spend hours on end drawing and coloring...as I got older it progressed to Art classes, pottery classes, and always I dreamt that one day I would become an Artist. When I was a Sophomore in High School I broke my ankle and three weeks after I was in the cast the Dr. realized that there was more going on. He ordered another set of x-rays and that is when they found a tumor growing in my ankle bone.
I had surgery and they put me in a cast to immobilize it and I spent many long hours working on paintings.
as I could do not do much more. I remember giving a set of pen and ink drawing to the Surgeon who operated on me and the next time I went for a visit they were hanging in his office. I didn't think they were anything spectacular, but it brightened my day to see he had been blessed my work.
I am never one to fish for compliments and have been told that I almost seem embarrassed whenever someone does pay me a compliment. I know that is partly because I was raised really not hearing compliments very often. I enjoy complimenting others and always try to be authentic in what I say and do.
Almost two years ago a friend invited me to take an Oil Painting class with her. She had been taking classes from a man locally and thought I might enjoy it. I decided to go ahead and purchased the necessary supplies...once again, I was hooked. I looked forward to my weekly lessons and loved working in oils. I also took a few classes from a local studio and with her I worked in acrylics and enjoyed that as well.
Fast forward ...In November after praying and much soul searching I decided to resign from my work at the Oviedo Crisis Pregnancy Center. Bob needed to go back into the office 4 days per week and I knew my life would become too chaotic between transporting him and trying to work. It was a difficult decision as I loved what I was doing, but God has taken this Plan B and turned it into far more than I could have ever imagined.
My initial thought about staying at home was I would finish writing the book my friend Kay and I have been working on...and a few chapters have been added...but, the bulk of my time goes into creating art. One of the questions I always have asked my coaching clients is this: "what do you do that makes you lose all track of time?" If you can answer that it is often the starting point to what you are most passionate about.
I go into my office often with the intention of just maybe sketching something and hours later I am totally engrossed in painting. Do I think they are all gallery worthy? No, I don't but my hope is always that my art will bring a smile to someone's face or it will evoke a sweet memory. I try to keep my prices down so if someone wants to purchase painting or a print they can actually afford to do so. So often I have gone to an art show and would love to purchase something that really speaks to my heart, but the price tag is prohibitive.
This week I have been blessed in I have sold 3 paintings and 1 print. I am honored and humbled by those who have chosen to purchase from me. I love being able to play in the paints and I pray my work always points people to the One who gifts each of us with our own set of talents and gifts. On the back of each of my paintings I always write a verse from Scripture...sometimes, if I know the person I will personalize it...other times it is just what God has laid on my heart related to the painting.
I had a Plan A...God had a Plan B and His plan has proven to be one that has blessed me. I am thankful for the artists who have shared their time and talent with me...who have encouraged me to step out in faith and to trust the process. I am grateful to my husband who has given me the opportunity to resurrect a childhood passion, a childhood dream and most of all to God be the glory forever.
I am taking part in an online group reading the soon to be released book, "What Keeps You Up at Night" by Pete Wilson, the pastor of Crosspoint Church in Nashville, TN. On Sunday Bob and I decided to sleep in a bit and later in the morning we listened to Crosspoint live on my computer.
Pete is in a sermon series now based on his book. The sermon was awesome and I am going to attempt to share some of my notes in the hope it may help someone else. He first reminded us that, "Failure does not shape us." So often in my own life I have been afraid to try something new because I do not want to risk failure.
In the book of Exodus 16: 2-3 the Israelites could not stand the unknown. They grumbled a lot and seemed to always forget about God's faithfulness. They always went to the worst case scenario. How often in life do we do the same?
Pete believes most people would rather live lives of mediocrity or live stuck in the past then move forward. He gave the example of couples who come to him with marital problems...he suggests counseling and one of them will respond, "oh, we did that once 15 years ago and it did not help." Just because something "failed" once is that a reason not to try it again? What if...what if, it really could be the answer? Fear paralyzes us and stops us from living the better life, the better way.
It isn't failure that defines us...it is the way we choose to respond to the failure that will shape our lives. What if today you made the decision to trust God in one area, just one area of your life that scares you?
The Israelites did not trust God...they did not trust Moses as he was leading them, they lived instead complaining and fearing what would happen next. Their fear like ours is contagious, but we need to understand that courage is contagious as well. My Dad lost both of his legs due to complications from diabetes and I never saw fear in his eyes or heard him say, "I am afraid I will never walk again,"...no, instead he went to therapy and worked hard to not only walk, but to drive his own car. His courage set an example not only for me, but also for my children. He never gave up.
In Exodus 3:12 God reminds the Israelites, "Certainly I will be with you...God doesn't promise that we won't have fear in our lives, but He promises to be with us. So often,like the Israelites we automatically go to the worst case scenarios and convince ourselves that we cannot accomplish something. I remember when I first began painting a few years ago. I signed up for 6 weeks of oil painting classes with a friend...I was convinced I would not be able to produce anything half-way decent. After 6 weeks I had gained confidence and had two paintings that if I must say so were pretty good. What if I had just let the fear stop me? I think of all I would have missed out on.
Pete closed with this...the passage from Isaiah 28:16, "Therefore says the Lord God, Behold I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed." The cornerstone of our lives needs to be Jesus. When and if He is the cornerstone there will not be a need to panic. He is responsible for holding it all together...I am not, you are not. We are responsible to trust...to trust He is who He says He is and we can trust Him with every aspect of our lives.
He came to set us free...are you living in His freedom? Is your life, are your plans built on the strong foundation of Jesus?
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'' -Isaiah 41:10
I have been seeing so many posts on FB warning us we are in the end times...and maybe, we are, but the Bible tells us not to predict the hour and for those of us who profess Christ we know with certainty we will just move on to a much better location...kind of like that "deluxe apartment in the sky" the old Jefferson's show used to sing about.
I read that the Bible says "do not fear" 365 times...that would be a verse for each day of the year. I remember as a child anytime something bad happened in the world my sweet grandmother in Portuguese would tell me, "the world is coming to an end." I didn't really know God, but I knew my grandmother and so I believed her and consequently spent a lot of time in my childhood living in fear. Needless to say her predictions never came true.
When our daughter was 8 I came home from work one day to find her upstairs in her room surrounded by brown paper bags. In these bags she had placed all of her valuable, worldly possessions...such as: her diary, Cabbage patch dolls, stickers and their albums, photos, and our poor cocker spaniel Hannah. When I asked her what was going on she told me that the kids at school had told her the world was going to end. She wanted to take her stuff with her to heaven.
I explained to her that no one except God knows when the world will end and Jesus will come back again...she trusted me, but kept her bags all packed for several days...although Hannah escaped and was afraid to go into Jenny's room for weeks afterwards.
I have followed Kara Tippett's blog for a few years ...a young woman who a few weeks back from breast cancer that quickly metastasized everywhere. Her faith in God never wavered and she taught me to find peace even in the midst of hard. One of her quotes from her book, "The Hardest Peace: is this, "But because I believe God's plans for me are better than what I could plan for myself, rather than run away from the path He has set before me, I want to run towards it. I don't want to try to change God's mind - His thoughts are perfect. i want to think His thoughts. I don't want to change God's timing= His timing is perfect. I want the grace ti accept His timing. I don't want to change God's plan - His plan is perfect. I want to embrace His plan and see how He is glorified through it. I want to submit."
I think the important thing is to live each moment as though it might be your last...to always be right with Jesus and to lay my trust and my hope in His hands. He is in control and the Bible promises that he will never leave us or forsake us. I choose to not live my life in fear or worry because I know who I belong to.
It has been awhile since I wrote on my blog, but life has a way of keeping me distracted and busy. Sometimes, I look at the clock and it is early afternoon and I am still in my pajamas as I have been either painting or working on the book. I hope everyone who reads my posts occasionally is doing well and enjoying Spring wherever you are.
My sweet hubster Bob and I go to Boot Camp and least 4 nights a week and occasionally hit a Saturday class as well. We love going and our daughter is the Coach so it is wonderful to have her support and encouragement. The people we have met on this journey are so supportive and we have all bonded as we sweat together. They truly have become an extension of our family.
Last night the workout was a longer one as well as a partner workout. Bob and I were partners for what our daughter named the "filthy 50." The workout consisted of 100 box jumps, 100 jumping pull ups, but we substituted 100 jumping squats, 100 kettle bell swings, 100 walking lunges, 100 knees to elbows, 100 push press, 100 good mornings with plate, 100 wall ball shots, 100 burps, I substituted sit ups and 100 jumping jacks. Prior to that we did a quick warm-up.
I had to substitute the pull ups and the burpees as I am dealing with golfer's elbow )no, I do not play golf) but some of the movements right now just aggravate the injury. As we worked out together it was pretty funny as I realized how as we each have our strengths and weaknesses in life it is also true in the workouts. I was able to do the knees to elbow movement without great difficulty whereas Bob really struggles with that movement...but, he was able to do more wall balls than I could as that too was hurting my elbow. We got through the workout by being one another's cheerleaders!
We have been married almost 45 years and it dawned on me this morning that is a reflection of how our marriage has always been. We each came to our marriage with different strengths and weaknesses...and we have always had and continue to balance life by knowing we are a team...partners in marriage, partners in life. Sometimes, Bob might carry 60% of the load and I carry the 40%...it is truly never 50/50 the way the world would have you believe. Always cheering one another on and believing God has His hand on us.
The invisible thread who holds us together is Jesus. He is and always has been the glue who holds it all together. Our greatest strength comes from the One who created us and promises to be our strength when we are weak. I am blessed to be able to walk through life knowing God alone sees my heart, He sees the areas of life I struggle with and sees the areas where I excel. He loves me in spite of my imperfections and in Him I am enough.
As I walk through this season of my life I am secure in the knowledge of how deeply Jesus loves me. So thankful for time to do things I pray will bless the Lord and bless my soul mate...so thankful God chose Bob to be my partner in life so many years ago.
I have been attending Bible Study Fellowship for the past several months and am really enjoying it. It is something I have wanted to do in the past, but because of my schedule I could never seem to be able to take part in it. We are studying the book of Numbers and I am getting so much out of it...more than I thought I would when we first began it.
Yesterday's lecture was from Numbers 20 and the reminder this is truly a chapter of mourning as they dealt with the death of Miriam, Aaron and Moses, but also a message of God's grace. The woman who lectures reminded us the impact sin in our lives causes not only for us but also for others. It affects our influence to others.
I thought of this passage in reference to my own mother. For much of her life she felt the sinful paths she had often taken pulled her away from God. We tried to convince her if she would ask God to forgive her for all of the sins of her past, He would indeed offer her forgiveness and she could be a new creation. She didn't feel worthy of His grace or His love for most of her adult life and it influenced everything she said or did.
As I read Numbers yesterday I was reminded of how God's grace often comes in unexpected ways. In the Bible God's word tells us Aaron, though he had wandered in the wilderness with the grumbling Israelites would actually not take them into the Promised Land. he and Moses had not honored God when they struck the rock to get water instead of just speaking to the rock as God had commanded.
However, God in His great mercy allowed Aaron to see his son take over the priesthood and enabled him to die surrounded by his people. As I sat and read those words I realized this is what God also did for my mom. The last three weeks of her life she was surrounded daily by myself and our children and our grandchildren. She was loved well by us and by the Hospice nurses who treated her with compassion and kindness.
On the Monday before she died our grandson Robert was worried that she would not go to heaven. He came and spoke to her and told her he wanted the assurance he would see her again one day. She told him she felt God would not want her in heaven, but she was certain she would go to hell. With tears running down his cheeks, he said, "No Nana, all you have to do is ask Jesus to forgive you and He will and then we will see you again.
The next day the chaplain from Hospice came in just hours before Mom lapsed into unconsciousness and prayed with her and again reiterated she could indeed be with Jesus for all eternity. After he left she called me to her side and whispered, "tell Robert he can be happy as I will see him again." I didn't know if she was just saying this to give us peace or if she had really had indeed finally surrendered her past to Jesus.
An hour later she lapsed into unconsciousness so all I could do was pray. As I sat by her side over the next two days I prayed...I recited Psalms to her and told her we loved her and Jesus loved her. The evening of her death I remember sitting there knowing she was taking her final breaths and praying she would feel peace while holding her hand. As she drew hew last breath her eyes opened wide and she looked up and was gone.
Forever, I will be grateful for that glimpse of God's grace...of His mercy not only to my mom but also to our family. I wish with all of my heart Mom had understood His forgiveness long before then as I think of how different her life could have been, but always I am so thankful it is never too late as long as we have breath to surrender the past and to hold onto the One whose story will lead us all to the Promised Land.
Yesterday morning I was a bit under the weather and so we decided to watch church online. I have been wanting to listen to Pete Wilson from Crosspointe church in Nashville as I have enjoyed hos book, "Plan B" and so we did.
He is preaching on relationships right now and yesterday's sermon was excellent. I am taking the liberty of sharing some of his remarks, but urge you to go online and listen to the sermon in its entirety. He reminded us that most people have no difficulty in "falling in love, but most of us are ill equipped to stay in love." Bob and I have been married almost 45 years now. The years have certainly had their share of peaks and valleys, but it is what we choose to do in the valleys that makes all the difference.
Many years ago Bob and I made a decision that has blessed us and our marriage. There is a verse in Scripture which says, "a cord of three strands is not easily broken." Jesus is the strand...He is the glue that has held our marriage together. Andy Stanley says, "the foundation for staying in love is to make love a verb." So often I hear people say "I fell out of love...well, it is not an emotion...it requires action and you can just as easily fall back in love.
Pete spoke about how so often couples are willing to spend thousands of dollars on elaborate weddings, but when the troubles come (and they will) they have no desire to spend the money and time to get counseling in the hopes of being able to stay married. I often think it would be so beneficial for every couple who is considering divorce to be required to spend 60 days going to a marriage counselor. Think of how many marriages could be restored and how children's lives would not have to be shattered.
Pete Wilson listed 2 reasons marriages fail:
1) Familiarity -we stop pursuing our spouses. Think of what you did for your spouse when you were dating...the little gifts, the calls in the middle of the day, the notes, etc.
2) Exhaustion - Our energy level goes down as our responsibilities go up. It takes lots of energy to have a healthy relationship. Where are you most willing to expend your energy?
So often we have a sense of entitlement and put our needs and what we feel are our rights before the needs of our spouses. He suggested we begin to focus on our responsibilities as partners and let go of the need to always have it be about our "rights." It is not always about putting our personal happiness first.
We are all wired differently...we all come from different backgrounds and our homes of origin were all unique...it is how we handle all those differences that matters. Pete suggested that spouses read the "5 Love Languages" so they can better understand what fills their spouses love tank. He feels that unless we know one another's love language we will continue to relate to them from our own love language.
He gave a condensed version of the "5 Love Languages" which I will share...number them from 1 (least important) to 10 (most important and have your spouse do the same and then share.
1) Receiving Gifts
2) Quality Time
3) Acts of Service
4) Words of Affirmation
5) Physical Touch
Try relation to one another from your love language and watch the difference it will make.
I was reading a blog post this morning and it truly resonated with me. The author of the post wrote about how so often as women we fail to have a voice. When I first began dating my husband whose background was very different from mine I had a very difficult time embracing the foods. The first time I had dinner at his home my future mother-in-law who was a wonderful cook made a quick dinner...scrambled eggs with browned hamburg (it does have an Arabic name) and salad.
I took one bite of the egg dish and let's just say, "I was not a fan," but not wanting to hurt her feelings or to make waves I waited until she had exited the room and scraped all of the eggs into my honey's dish. I proceeded to take more salad and pita bread and of course, she thought I had loved it and so wanted to give me more eggs. I was afraid to say, "no, I really don't like it."
So often in our lives we are trying to choose the right answer, to be politically correct that in the process we lose our voice. I remember reading a book years ago by Stasi Eldredge, "Captivating" and the reminder that as women we want to be pursued, we want to be loved for who we are and we want to be heard and to be seen by those God has placed on our path.
I am just as guilty as I know many of my sisters are in burying ourselves in other things because it is less painful than facing the reality of the sometimes emptiness we feel throughout our day. I remember when our children were younger thinking the endless days of cooking, laundry, chauffeuring, etc would never end and yet, so often failed to cherish just being in the moment.
Moments come and moments go, but to be truly present in the moments often blesses us in unexpected ways. Last night we joined some of our family to celebrate our grandson Robert's 12th Birthday. I sat between our youngest grandson, Marky and Robert, the birthday boy...sweet time of fun conversation with two special boys in my life. I never tire of hearing them say, "I love you Gram."
I love interacting with these "grands" of our and every conversation or text is a reminder from God of His love for me and for them. Sometimes, I let the waves of sadness envelop me over some of my wants that never seem to magically appear, but when I really stop to listen to my life I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am loved most of all by the One who created me. He carries me in the moments when my heart is heavy and He loves me on the days when my hair is a disaster and the number on the scale makes me frown. He knows when my heart aches for the people I miss and sees the joy I have in knowing I am His daughter. He knows when I am shaking my head at events swirling around me and I know my peace can only be found in Him.
I don't ever want to take the little moments in time for granted. I love the coffee being on in the morning when I get up, the unexpected texts from a grand or an adult child, the husband whose word I can always trust, the church family that welcomes prodigals home and friends who have become more like family.
For years due to pain and rejection in my life my heart was hard as I was so afraid it would be hurt and broken. Like the story of the Velveteen Rabbit sometimes it does hurt to love and our hearts will be hurt when we love, but deep in our souls we know we are made to love God and to love others.
I have come to the realization that it is necessary to be willing to open our hearts and to embrace God's love for us because in order to love Him as we should and to love others, we really must begin to love us, the imperfect people that we are.
My reminder this morning as I worked on a piece of mixed media...this verse from the Bible, "If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed." Free to be loved and to love.
I am reading a good book right now, "Living Well, Spending Less, 12 Secrets of the Good Life byRuth Soukup. At the beginning of the book is the reminder that, "the state of our finances usually mirrors the rest of our lives." What we spend our money on penetrates into every area of our lives and is often a realtiy check of what we feel is most important. It is the author reiterates, "a direct reflection of what is in our hearts."
The Bible tells us in Matthew 1:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But stir up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." What do you treasure? If you looked at your bank statement today what would it tell you about your life?
A few weeks ago on Facebook I asked the question if you were to ask your children or your grandchildren what they feel is most important to you what would they say? I don't remember getting many responses, but I did have a young friend send me a private message and she did ask her 10 year-old the question: "what do you feel is most important to Mommy? Her response, "your friends." OUCH! This little girl heard her mom talking on the phone all the time to friends, going out at night with her girl friends and she realized although "mommy time" was important she was neglecting to spend the time she needed to with her daughter. It opened her eyes and she realized these years are fleeting and she needed to prioritize her life.
The world tells us that "Stuff" is important. The media, magazines, Pinterest, etc. tell us that we need to have the perfect furniture for our perfect homes, we need to drive the right cars, we need the labels on our clothing and so the "stuff" it keeps coming in and cluttering up our homes and emptying our wallets. We hear that a friend has taken a vacation and gone to Europe and even though we might be happy for them underneath a little green monster is saying, "you need a vacation in Europe too."
The "wants" are not only related to material things...we see the magazine ads that say if we buy this makeup the fine lines will become invisible, if we drink this concotion for breakfast and dinner we will lose 10 lbs in 10 days, if we wrap our bodies we will lose inches and it goes on and on. All of us see it everywhere and often we are guilty of believing that all this "stuff" will make our lives better. I once had a friend who bought every bottle she could find at CVS of body lotion for firming up her skin. Her skin didn't get any firmer but her wallet sure got thinner.
For five years I was consumed by an eating disorder that almost killed me. I kept thinking there would be a magic number and once I reached it I would feel so much better aboout my life and about myself. The numbers on the scale kept dropping...the lowest number I saw was 78 pounds at the age of 37, but I didn't feel better about my life or myself. The excess starvation almost destroyed the life I was trying to make better.
Last night at Bible Study it was my turn to share my testimony. Some of the women in my group have walked with Jesus all of their lives and their testimonies were sweet and packaged very nicely. My testimony is messy...my growing up years were messy and for a long time the pain in my life was what defined me. From the age of 5 I believed in God...I attended Catholic school and recited rote prayers and read the catechism and went to Mass, but I did not have a personal relationship with God. I feared God more than I loved Him.
In 1993 a sweet friend told me about her Jesus...he was very different from the Jesus I had grown up believing in. Her Jesus offered grace, unconditional love and the gift of eternal life if I asked Him into my heart. On a cold Saturday afternoon I sat in a restaurant and gave my life to Jesus. As I began to surrender my life to Him and to read His Word I began to understand who I really was. I am the daughter of an amazing God who doesn't care about the number on the scale, what I drive, or if my clothing has labels. He sees me just as I am wholly acceptable in His sight.
As I sat last night and shared my messy story I was once again reminded that my life is good not because of what I have or how I look...it is rich because I have faith in God, family, friends, and talents and gifts He has blessed me with. I pray I will spend the rest of my days storing up treasures in heaven and secure in the knowledge that in Christ I am enough.