Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fix Our Eyes


"Anna Lucy"
6" x 6" Oil on linen panel
NFS

I planned to write a fun little story about Anna Lucy and how those baby blues claimed my heart when I saw her picture on her grandma’s Facebook page.  But, honestly, what else  could be said that isn't already being said? 

            “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
 but on what is unseen. 
 For what is seen is temporary, 
but what is unseen is eternal.” 
                                                                       2 Cor 4:18

Have a blessed Christmas season!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Our Favorite Clown

"T-Bone"
8" x 10" oil on linen panel
NFS

Well, we did NOT see it coming.  The evening that T-Bone (a.k.a. Terry) revealed his “alter ego”, we were stunned.  (I mean, what kind of person chooses to be a clown?)  But within seconds, we thought, “Well, of COURSE he’s a clown!”  It was so HIM. 

Actually, all of us have another side to us.  There’s the outward appearance that we present to others on a daily basis…..when truth is, there is so much more than meets the eye.  There are hidden secrets, the things we are ashamed of or embarrassed by......and the hidden treasures, the special qualities that are unique to us.

We met Terry one Sunday morning when he came (sans costume) to our table at church in search of joining a small group.  I guess we passed the “test” because he and his wife, Debbie, have been with us for two years, sharing their lives and faith walk with us. 

When you’re in a small group, eventually trust is earned and the truth of who we are emerges.    You see, real intimacy begins when the layers are peeled back and the real “us” is bared – sometimes slowly, sometimes all at once – things we’re proud of, and then the not so much.  But it’s only there, stripped down, that we can actually be real with other each and with God.  No judgement.

And so now I know!  Now I know what kind of person chooses to be a clown.  A quiet, humble, kind, faithful, humorous man that loves to make children smile.   A transparent man who inspires our group nearly each and every meeting.   When it’s time for prayer requests. he sometimes responds, “My prayer is for God to answer your prayers” 

But his classic response is our favorite:   “Just give me more Jesus – I just need more Jesus.”

Yeah ……….he makes adults smile too! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Equestrian

"In Her Element"
8 X 10 on canvas panel
NFS

Never say never.  Just never say never.

Many of my subscribers know my story – that I didn’t even want or attempt to paint until 2009.  I have written pages and pages on this, but trust me when I say that I struggled with drawing stick figures.  THEN, upon learning that I had a little ability in this area, I said multiple times that, I would never even try to do portraits, which in reality, was quite laughable because that was not just a longshot – it was more like an impossibility.  (Just ask my teacher/mentor.)

So, fast forward through several attempts that ended in the round file, and here is my first portrait worthy of showing its face!  AND it will be hanging in the Arts Council's “Art in the City” exhibit begeinning June 9-30.  The opening reception is this Friday, June 10, 5:30-7:00 at 318 Main St., Evansville, IN - on the walkway.  Yes, that's an invite  :)

I have come to realize that we (me) are in a habit of politely and kindly telling God what we cannot do or will not do and FYI, pretty sure He frowns on that :)  Sometimes ……well, most of the time (me)……….I think there is a fear of failure that keeps us from forging into unknown territories.  And oh how we LOVE our comfort zones!  But when our fear super-cedes our yes, we miss out on God’s best.   (I think I heard that at church - Patrick Garcia.)

I just want to share that each of my prior attempts (failures) provided me with plenty of frustration, yet enough encouragement (“Don’t tell me I can’t do that!”) to face the next “blank canvas”.  I fail miserably in the perseverance department on multiple levels, but I feel God telling me, “HEY - Don’t tell me what your limitations are…….” for "I know the plans I have made for you, declares the Lord."   See Jeremiah 29:11-13

Be cognizant of opportunities God brings your way.  They may seem incidental, but they are not accidental.  Just try saying yes instead of never!  

P.S.  We would LOVE to hear your “yes” story!



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bearded Collie

   
 "Angel"
6" X 8" Oil on Linen Panel
NFS


Wayward path, warp speed, brunt force, prolonged pain …... all I could think of when I saw it coming!

Early in our marriage, my husband’s family occasionally engaged in a competitive holiday tournament of tetherball.  In case you’ve never had the pleasure, a sturdy iron pole is firmly anchored  at its base, and a rope attached to a medium size ball is suspended from the top of the pole.  The object is to be the first to wrap the rope around the pole by hitting the ball with your hand (uh, some people use their fist.) 

One day I was na├»ve enough to actually accept the challenge from my extremely competitive husband.  We played a friendly game for several minutes - which I realized later, was him letting me get comfortable.   Then, when I looked away for just a split second, in his odd sense of humor, he seized the moment and “spiked” the ball as hard as he could.  (Picture Greg in the volleyball game in Meet the Parents!)

Well, I had just enough time to partially duck out the path of the ball traveling in a wayward path at warp speed.  I may not be strong and athletic, but lucky for him, I can be quick.   (I will not go into my over-dramatization of this assault at this time.)  So, for a week, I sported a king-size bruise on my left shoulder, thereby displaying lovely colors of alizarin crimson, dioxazine violet, ultramarine blue….and eventually yellow ochre.  (Oh my gosh -  are you e-snickering???  You seriously have the same sense of humor?????)

Okay, fine.  I'm moving on..........look at that face!!!!  The precious little lady above is Angel - can't you almost see her halo?   She has been a loyal, faithful friend to her "mom" for many years.  From trials, tribulations, and celebrations, to spending simple quiet times at home, Angel has been her constant companion.

Sometimes life presents its own version of "tetherball" when struggles, opposition, and illness can threaten our very existence.  Remember, tho, that we are tethered to a sovereign, faithful, and loving God who knows just how long the rope is, and promises not only His love and presence, but His sovereignty.

Oh, and it sure helps to have an Angel in your life!!  

"When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
You will not drown,
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
You will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you. 
For I am the Lord, your God.”
                                                                                                                  Isaiah 43:2-3a


For Kari Jobe's emotional performance of "I Am Not Alone", click here:  https://youtu.be/bfveawSAHJA







Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Goose, Goose, Swan!!




"Goose....Goose....Swan!"
11" X 14" Oil on Canvas Panel 
He was lurking in the wooded shadows near Monet's bridge behind the quaint, historic New Harmony Inn.  It was late afternoon - the day after our daughters wedding.   Though sensing his movements, it was hard to identify a shape.  I anxiously wondered what was hiding in that area of barren brush and freshly fallen leaves - likely a goose?   Yeah, probably a goose.

Suddenly I heard a big splash as he majestically propelled his graceful body out of the darkness into the light, swiftly gliding on to the glittering sunlit waters.  The brilliant light both illuminated and intensified his color. This was no goose, but a beautiful swan!  The contrast of his shadowed, yet now hued areas against his white body was stunning.   I moved toward my camera, knowing that no photograph would ever capture the lively reverberation of energy that was playing out before me.

While we can appreciate the valiant efforts of our human attempt to reiterate something, there are some things that just have be experienced.  

When we answer Gods call from darkness into His light, we not only begin to reflect the Son, but even our dark places of sin, shame, and bondage become colorfully enlightened ..... in a way that demonstrates His incomparable transforming power and gives hope to those still lost in the shadows!  

"..He called you out of darkness into His marvelous light..."
1 Peter 2:10 (ESV) 




Monday, September 7, 2015

Golden Retriever II


"The Invitation" 
8" X 8" Oil on Linen panel

I told him no at first ……even though that handsome irresistible grin seemed to be choosing me.  I had an artistic idea in my mind, and well, he just didn’t meet my expectations.  It would have been easier to just say yes.  But no, I knew best ....... really wasn't an option. 

Frustrated, I poured over my choices again and again.   I kept asking Lyn, his “mom”, to send more pictures, hoping I’d see just what I wanted!   As a last resort, I enlisted the help of my artist friend, Colleen, and my teacher, Chris.  They pointed out some things that made me take a step back and re-think the whole situation. 

It was humbling, but I realized I had been looking for the wrong thing – a serious, traditional regal pose -  a picture of perfection with all things right – the icon of "Golden Retriever-ville."  So, now with an open mind, I began to study all the views, to take time to really see him.   The more I studied him, the more my heart began to move.  This loveable big guy was inviting me on an adventure - to leave my worries behind …. to play like a child – to run free, to play catch and Frisbee, to roll in a pile of fall leaves.... to laugh til I cried, and to love til it hurt!  So, I gave him a big imaginary hug and I said YES!!  Meet Mort.

After his mom told me stories about him, I realized his personality matched what I was seeing and knew it was the story my painting was to tell.   Being the good-looking hunk that he was, you may not be surprised to learn that Mort loved to be told how handsome he was!  He had a bit of a sinful streak in him tho – he loved to steal.  Yeah, the socks right off your feet.  Of course he thought the ensuing chase was the best – so fun!!!  And he slept in the bathtub.......what??

I can’t believe I took so long to choose this reference photo.  I think the problem began with the fact that my mind was closed to anything other than what I had created in it – I was literally BLIND to my options.  That is, until someone helped me see things differently.   

You know, some decisions need to be made with our head; others with our heart.  And then there are those decisions that we may initially make with our heads….. that then, in turn, truly change our hearts and lives.

Many in Jesus’ day did not acknowledge Him as the answer to the prophesied Savior – a King.  And so they missed out – they overlooked Him because He wasn’t the picture they had in their minds.  Like many of us today, maybe you know about Him but often look right past him in a world of need, sin, and destruction – all in searching for answers that you imagine.   Maybe if we’d listen to that friend that is reaching out, take a closer look and study who He really is, BE WITH HIM, our hearts would recognize His invitation and accept it – to love and receive love, to forgive and receive forgiveness, to live in freedom!  Just say YES!!!

"...yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life..."
John 5:40   (ESV)





Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Yellow Lab

"Maizey"
8" X 8" oil on linen panel
NFS

I thought we were doing a good thing...choosing that cute playful bundle to bring into our family.  But wow – did she make this 60-ish year old empty-nester get up on her feet!  It was as if we suddenly “owned” a toddler!

About a year after our golden passed, we began to think about getting a new family pet.  If you know me at all, you've heard my frequent verbal expression of displeasure in Gabe’s overly abundant shedding, as well as the  house rule:  “Do not wear black to the Murrays! “  

So, in choosing our next family member, our thought processes went something like this:  Golden Retriever vs. Labrador Retriever – same sweet, laid-back just-fold-in kind of temperament, short fur (as in less).   You see the logic, right?  Please say yes.  I know – you’d think two grown adults would have more sense than that.  Maybe it’s just that we believed what we wanted to believe because it was the one and only breed we could remotely agree on.

Well, suffice it to say – I love, love, love this dog.  But, Gabe she is NOT.  In no way are their personalities the same – well, to give her the benefit of the doubt – not yet, anyway.  I know I exaggerate a bit – ahem – but that little 5 pound piece of abundant energy with not one ounce of innate sense of right and wrong totally has totally consumed my life for her first year and a half.   (I can still hear my grandson in his little sing-song mimicking tone, thinking I wouldn’t hear him..…..”Maizey, Maizey, Maizey.”  Don't you love it!)

Feeling as if there were no hope and out of necessity to maintain my sanity, family relationships, and physical health, I took her to obedience training.   We immediately bonded when she began to respond to my commands.  And with each subsequent act of obedience came a treat.  Fast forward a year or so - I stand amazed at her response to positive training, and how it transformed her unmanageable and self-destructive spirit into one that willingly submits to her  “master” and loves living her life of obedience. 

There are so many parallels to our walk with Jesus that I find demonstrated in my  “Walk with Maizey.”  (So glad God “dumbs things down” for me!)  It begins with submitting our untamed, unsaved lives to His Authority, therein allowing Him to change us into His likeness, guiding us daily, and assuring our eternity.  When we align our hearts with His, we place ourselves into a position to be blessed  - the “treat” that results from obedience.

Oh and the rule about not wearing black to our home – sorry to say – still stands!

"....choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...."
Joshua 24: 15

          1.  Why do you believe what you believe? 
          2.  Who/What have you submitted yourself to – Who is your master??
          3.  How’s that workin for you?