Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christ is Born!!

"Christ is Born"
5" X 7" Oil on Canvas Panel

Palm trees, flipflops, balmy breezes and sunset celebrations - not my idea of Christmas! Nevertheless, somehow my husband coerced me into a trip to Florida earlier this month.   I loved it, but because of my surroundings, I often forgot it was Christmas – it didn’t look like it and it sure didn’t feel like it.

Ya see, my memories of Christmas includes “dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh”, and “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.”   I remember the time that Santa (the real one) actually came in our front door, his breath visible as white puffs of vapor accompanied each ho-ho-ho, toting a bag full of gifts – and (you’re gonna be so jealous), he actually knew MY name!!!  (Not sure I’ve ever recovered from that.)  
I remember receiving lots of gifts (Barbies, Barbies, and Barbies) over the years, but maybe more than the "things" I received, was the excitement and anticipation of opening them, the aromas wafting from the kitchen, the sweet smell of my grandma's Tabu cologne as she held me on her lap, imperfect homemade ornaments, and helping mom, dad, my brother and sister decorate the tree (well, maybe not my brother :)  I remember our church decorated in bold reds and the playing of Christmas carols upon entering those bright crimson doors.  And then there’s the extreme anxiety the night I "had the pleasure" of playing the music for our church service – O Holy Night!

Later, after having my own children, I remember the stressful late hours on Christmas Eve working on the  “easy-to-assemble all-parts-and-tools-included” boxed race car sets and doll houses, the sound of their little footsteps running way too early in the morning downstairs to the Christmas tree, then the playing with said boxes, and the non-stop giggling of our daughters as my husband tickled them relentlessly.  And now…. the sound of grandchildren’s footsteps running down the same long hall and stairway - still oh so early in the morning!
That may not look like any of your Christmases – but I’m sure you have a story.  We all have our past experiences and present expectations.  Perhaps this Christmas just doesn’t feel like Christmas because of your circumstances. Maybe you have more to do than there are hours in the day.  Maybe it’s your first Christmas without a loved one, or you don’t have the resources to make it quite as merry as in the past.   
Wherever we are, whatever our need, God promises to meet us in it – great or small.  If we can just choose to set ourselves, our problems, and our expectations, apart from the hustle and bustle, from the sadness and tears, and call to Him, He will come.

Step out of your “scene” and  

Give Him praise,
Rejoice in His birth,
Recount His past faithfulness,
Thank Him for His present activity,
and Be grateful for the people He has put in your life!
You will find His compassion, His comfort – His unconditional love. 
Whether your evergreens look like palm trees this year, or your snow filled scenes look like desert expanses, Jesus is there, even if it doesn’t feel like it ~ Hope is here!

Christ is Born!!
Matthew 1:16


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Golden Dome

12" X 12" Oil on Raymar Canvas Panel

Here in southern Indiana, we are deep into that time of year –time to close up the swimming pools, store the patio furniture, change the wreath on the front door, and make sure the rakes, blowers, and mulchers are all in good working order………because the greens have turned to red, orange, gold, and brown, and are falling to the ground.   And ya gotta do something with that new ground cover!  Few things stay the same in our surroundings when the seasons change.

We have made quite a few trips to the always beautiful and immaculately kept Notre Dame campus in Notre Dame, Indiana this past year.  With the construction of a new building and various other updates, it never quite looked the same each time we visited.  However, it seemed the one thing we could count on was the notably identifiable Golden Dome – its presence towering magnificently at the end of the tree-lined boulevard.  The only difference in its appearance each time was how it was ”framed”:  nestled amongst abundant green foliage, various jewel-toned autumn gems, or bare branches creating gaps filled in with a patchwork of gray skies.  While the Dome itself never changed, its “frame” sometimes affected our perception of it.

What’s different in your landscape?  What has changed with the seasons – seasons of victory, joy, abundance,……..and seasons of sadness, depression, or loss?  At the risk of sounding like my grandma, I will have to say things have changed so much in our culture during my lifespan, I hardly recognize us at times! 

With the  assurance of change, it’s hard to know what or who one can depend on.  Perhaps the one thing you have put your security in is losing its power.  Relationships come and go, the economy is up and down, political issues go round and round, and laws/rules are in and out.  Often change results in insecurity, anxiety, and insomnia, among other issues.  That is, IF you focus on your circumstances.  Fortunately, we serve a God who never changes, loves unconditionally, and is “compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love”. 

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Proverbs 18:10

Just wonderin if you’re believing that today……….

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Poppy Field

"When I Was in Italy ...."
8" X 10" Oil on Linen Panel

 Original photo
Cropped for my purposes

Several of my friends have traveled abroad, but none of them have told their story quite like Christina.  In fact, within the first few minutes of meeting her, I learned that she recently took a university class in Florence, Italy called “The Diet and Lifestyles of the Mediterranean.”  Her entire face lit up as she related her experiences with fresh enthusiasm!   (You should see the food pictures!)

If the students wanted to see any other parts of the country, they were on their own to plan day trips on the weekends.  They had to choose between trying to squeeze in as many places as they could in a short period of time, or spend more time in fewer places.  Christina chose  to embrace all she could.  Of course, that meant literally running through the streets in some places, and viewing others from the inside of a vehicle. 

I loved looking through all the photos, but was specifically drawn to the one above.   I actually looked at it for a while before realizing it was taken through the bus window.  (Some representations can be deceiving!)   I asked her if it was a poppy field, and because she was just driving by, she really didn’t know for sure.  She just knew it was a pretty field with reddish-orange flowers and a few buildings that obviously attracted her enough to take a picture.  And it attracted me enough to take a second look, zoom in, choose the part I liked, and crop it.  Then when it came time to apply the composition to my canvas, I just made the things I couldn’t discern into whatever I felt suited my goal of a well-balanced landscape.

Viewing someone’s life from a distance is somewhat like that.  We see some dots and connect them in a way that seems logical to us – and bingo, we’ve come to a conclusion that may not be the truth.  Yeah – it's all too easy to “judge from afar.”  But, the closer we get to someone, the more we can see how wrong – or right - our assumptions may have been.  (For example - those may not be poppies at all!!)

And what about our relationship with God?  Are we settling for the drive-by, the view from the foggy window, or even looking through someone else’s lenses?  It may obscure the truth, or misrepresent it, and if it does, we lose.  We lose because we put God in a box that we’ve constructed – we make Him what we want Him to be – “to fit the landscape” – and He's so much more than that!  

You want to know if “poppies are really poppies?"  Find out for yourself - go straight to Him - because you can!

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” 
James 4:8

[Guess I'll have to go to Italy!  :)))]

Oh, and you're wondering about the title?  According to Christina's father, since her return, she often begins her sentences with, "When I was in Italy, ....."  There's that passion - gotta love it!   (I think he's given her a new nickname:)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Still Life

“Petal Pushers II”
6" X 6" Oil on Raymar Panel

In case you’re not familiar with the term “still life," it is an art form in which the subject matter is most often an inanimate object, such as fruit, pottery, a vase of flowers, etc.   The artist has significant control over his/her composition and arranges it in a “fixed” manner, even choosing the type and position of the light source, creating dramatic shadows and beautiful highlights.

Still lifes, while very popular, have never been at the top of my list to paint – with the exception of flower close-ups.   I’m not sure exactly why, but I think it might be because they’re usually just so ………........ STILL…….and still is really hard for me to do!!  

Or maybe it’s the same reason why I’m not especially fond of social events where the primary activity is the proverbial “small talk."  You know – the kind of contrived conversation that starts with the typical  “How do you like this weather we’ve been having?"  Or, “Love your dress!  Where’d you get it?”, and continues to proceed, and end, superficially with both participants carefully controlling their exposure – if any at all.   (You know what I’m talkin’ about!)

Now I am NOT saying there isn’t VALUE in properly placed shadows and highlights. For instance, I think you will agree that not everyone needs to see and know EVERY thing.   To quote a dear friend, “You don’t have to tell everything you know!”  And another, “You don’t have to show your hand!”  True - some things are just meant to be shadowed.  (Remember when I used to do makeovers?)   ‘Nuff said.  (Hey - I'm not talkin' about you!)

I guess when it comes to the art of painting, I prefer things in their natural setting – like fruit on the vine/tree, flowers in the garden, and horses in the paddock.   Or maybe a better term is “life," because life is not still.  Not when you’re bored.  Not when you’re sleeping.  Not even after it stops.  

But aren’t we all still life artists in a way?  In social situations, don’t we position ourselves, and our families, in the “light” that we want others to see us in?  Don’t we keep things in the shadows – even from ourselves (and God)?  And when things aren’t going the way we think they should, don’t we try to control, manipulate, contrive, arrange, position –  FIX?  Uh-huh.

Yep - you’re probably an artist – even if you don’t call yourself one.  And the more you try to control, the tighter you are wound, the greater the potential loss.  Been there.  Am there.  Trying to learn …...... to let go ……… and let God.  It’s a process.  Join me?

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of our faith.” 
Hebrews 12:2

Sunday, July 8, 2012


It sure wasn’t on my family’s agenda for the day. Mark it down – one more day that I don’t get up to my studio to paint – I’m beginning to think it’s an elusive dream.  But when my husband emergently called my son and me to the backyard that morning, I knew something was taking precedence.  (On a scale of 1-10, he routinely scores about a “3” on “easily excitable”).  As soon as we stepped outside, we could hear a cacophony of very vocal blue jays in one of our trees – and there on a lower limb, serenely perched, was a hawk in all its magnificence.

We watched as he eventually took flight, landing 25 feet away under the pine trees.  We were amazed when we were able to get 12-15 feet away and he didn’t take off again.  (Could we be bird whisperers?)   Well, reality hit and things started falling into place – why wasn’t he flying away, why would the smaller birds stay in a tree that occupied a hawk?  Why would they have the guts to even speak to this predator?  After snapping approximately 85 photos, we noticed that one of his wings hung slightly lower than the other.  He was essentially "grounded".  We decided the situation was bigger than we were and it was up to us to get him help.

True to the old family-favorite Ghostbusters movie theme song, we looked at each other and said, 
“When there's something strange,
in your neighborhood.....
Who ya gonna call?    
 Mel Lodato!"

Well, it wasn’t on Mel’s agenda either.  He was already out doing his part in maintaining the Eagle Slough Natural Area before the temperature reached 108+.  But, we reached him just as he was finishing up, and true to his calling, he sacrificed his plans to come to the rescue. 

Now, I know you're still singing that song in your head, so you're probably picturing him in a full bodysuit, a long-handled Hawk Zapper, a backpack, and a helmet for protection - just in case the bird decides Mel is the prey.  Not so, people!  Not so!  (I was kinda hoping he would come with the helmets – I didn’t want that thing coming at my head!  Ah, but that’s another story for another time :))  No, Mel showed up in his every day attire - shorts, t-shirt, and baseball cap -bearing only a pair of long gloves and a short pole with a small net on the end to accessorize his attire.  Really?  Surely there was a blood bath – I mean bird bath - in store!

Mel looked at the hawk for a few minutes and immediately we had lots of information.  For instance, he said he was a red-tail, a male, hadn’t been out of the nest very long, and was underweight.  (You have GOT to be kidding – this guy could have been mistaken for a turkey!  Well, by me, anyway.)   

A falconer, Mel holds both a state and federal license, which allows him to trap and house a hawk in captivity for a time, and he knows his stuff!  Apparently obtaining this license is no small accomplishment, but it is for the protection of the birds and the sport from abuse.  According to, “First you take a written test on biology, training, and veterinary aspects of raptors.  To pass you must score at least 80%.  Next you have to find a sponsor to train you. He will have a general or master falconry permit, and sponsor your two-year apprenticeship. Then you must build a suitable facility to house your raptor and obtain necessary equipment. This is then physically inspected by a Game and Fish representative.  After paying the state fee you become a licensed falconer. Now you can trap a raptor.”

Well, as one would expect, the bird morphed into “fight or flight” mode, which certainly made his capture a challenge.  Hopping, with a few short flights over the neighbors privacy fences (the bird, not us!), the chase ensued, but our strategies began to wane, as my husband, son, neighbor Nathan, and I were ready to surrender to failure to help this bird who should have been long gone by now. 

But in one split second, it was a done deal!!!  With extreme skill, finesse, and the quickness of an athlete, Mel acted, and the bird was rescued!  While the hawk obviously didn’t think so, he was now literally safe in Mel’s caring, capable hands.  We got another hawk lesson - close-up this time - and some of us even got to touch him.  Mel would take the bird home, put him in a special cage, feed him his favorite foods (the hawks, not Mels), in hopes of nurturing him back to good health – even helping him rebuild his strength in flying long distances.  His rescuer knew what was best for this “little” guy and will do all he can to rehab him, with the goal of releasing him to freedom in his natural habitat when healed. 


Thank you, Mel!!!!

(Note:  If the bird is still unable to fly after 4-5 days of R & R at the Lodato Raptor Resort, he will be taken to Wessleman Park Nature Center for more comprehensive rerehabilitation.)

To the hawk, captivity doesn’t feel like freedom.  Nor does it to us.  But, really, isn’t it all in what, or who, you’re captive TO?    

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives,
and release from darkness for the prisoners…
                                                                 Isaiah 61:1

“But thanks be to God,
who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession,
and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

                                                                                                        2 Corinthians 2:14

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Donna's House

"Donna's House"
6" X 6" Oil on Raymar Canvas Panel

My friend, Donna, recently had to place her mother in a nursing home due to a stroke that left her unable to care for herself.  Hard thing to do - really hard.  Donna asked me to paint a composition of the home her mother recently moved out of - the same one Donna grew up in.  I am humbled.  What a special project to be a part of. 

As I always do when I’m painting, I wondered what life was like in this inviting bungalow in the small town of Huntingburg, Indiana.  I bet Donna ran through the grass barefoot, long blond hair flying in the breeze, dodging bumble bees!
It reminds me of my grandmother’s home – especially the large covered porch that sweeps across the front.  Oh, the stories that were probably told on that glider!  And I bet there were plenty of times she watched it rain from under the protection of that roof – then ran out and played in the puddles.    And what about all the times it was too hot to play in the yard and it shielded her from the heat of the sun?

What is it about a building that we become so attached to it – or any inanimate object (like my car that we just sold!)  It’s not the “thing”, ya know.  It’s the memories that make us feel all warm and fuzzy – or not.   And when we lose (or sell) “the thing”, it doesn’t cancel out the memories, or even erase them.  They remain as real as life itself.  Still, it feels like a loss. 

But, “things” are limited in their power.  For instance, we need protection from a lot that porches or houses or cars – things - cannot provide.  Like when life gets too hard ,,,,,,,,, like when a situation feels threatening and we lose hope……when a quick fix won’t get the job done…like when temptation tries to get the best of us ……….

It is my prayer that this painting will provide Donna’s mother with fond memories of her life in this home – and even more so, the love of her family – and even more so, the love of Him who provides it all!

“The Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm –
He will watch over your life.
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forevermore.”
Psalm 121:5-8

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Basket Kases"

No.  I'm absolutely not being mean.  They gave themselves that name!  April Biggerstaff and Charlene Bitter, that is.  I'm just kinda thinkin',.........well, you can take it up with them if ya really wanna know! 

Okay - truth is, they make gift baskets.  With all the awesome merchandise in their little shop.  "Talented" doesn't quite get it - these ladies just have a knack for making the ordinary special.  Very special! 

Blessed am I to have my artwork on display (and available for purchase) there.  I hadn't been in since I dropped off my inventory a few weeks ago.  My friend, Cindy, told me I really needed to see it - so, obediently, I stopped in.  Check out the beautiful presentation April created!!! Love it, love it, love it!  Don't you??  

Okay - so, it's not just about me.  But, y'all really should check it out.  (2009 Lincoln Avenue, Evansville, Indiana · Phone (812) 491- 9799.)  Their little shop packs a big punch from the street with their window display, only to be upstaged by the menagerie of unique gifts and original art inside.  AND, when in the market for gift giving, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS buy something for YOURSELF!

I know I said it's not about me, but my little 6" X 6" mini oil paintings are a great "one-of-a-kind" personal gift for Mother's Day - or for any other special event!  (FYI - real flowers, beautiful as they are, wither and are thrown in the trash within a week - oil lives forever!!!)  

And, if you don't mind, may I suggest a little "girlfriend" or "mother-daughter" excursion:
     1)  Browse Basket Kases.
     2)  Browse Barefoot Cottage, next door.
     3)  Cross Weinbach and visit UE's art gallery on the corner (Tell Mr. Brown I sent you!)
     4)  Go back across Weinbach and lunch at Coffee Cottage (chicken salad, cornbread  
           salad, salmon sliders - just a few ideas!) and say "hey" to Jill.    And if you have the  
           willpower to pass up the desserts ........
     4)  Step back around the corner and stop in Jeannie's Gelato for some superb "lite ice 
           cream".  (Or have lunch there in the 1st place - salmon soup, tomato bisque, paninis)
     5)  STOP BACK in BASKET KASES and make your purchase(s) - you know, those items
           you just haven't been able to get out of your mind over lunch :)


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Entwined for a Time"

“Entwined for a Time”
8" x 24"

Having waited for 20 minutes in inclement weather, dressed for sunny and warm, my husband and I grabbed the opportunity when the hostess offered two chairs at the breakfast bar.  Not what we had hoped for, yet we enthusiastically approached our seats.  I quickly realized that I would be sitting shoulder to shoulder with a young lady I had never laid eyes on.  Awkward, I thought, but that uneasy feeling was trumped by my growling stomach and frozen feet. 

Within minutes, Julie initiated conversation.  We limped along for a little while – chatting about routine matters like the weather, the food, and the masses of people.    Then she mentioned why she was in Chicago – just a stopover while job searching.  Prefacing my question with a “You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want ”, I rather apologetically asked her if she was a spiritual person.  (I knew we were either “done”, or just getting started.  She was finished eating by then, so she could have made a quick get-away if she wanted!)  And then it got personal.

Turns out, it was just the beginning.  And, because she knows the Lord, total strangers suddenly knew a lot about each other.  Now I know you absolutely cannot wait to hear what we talked about – you want all the juicy details, don’t ya?  Well, that’s between me, and my new BFF.  But, what I will tell you is that we both agreed that it was a “God thing”!  She just so happened to need to hear what God just so happened to equip me to say, not to mention the blessing our meeting had on me.

Our lives are nothing alike – she is at least 35 years younger than moi, is outgoing, and has a passion for animals.  Her lifelong ambition is to work in a zoo, and she’s brave enough to move to another state - alone!  

Polar opposites.  She – from the north (Michigan), and me – from the south.   Next to each other at Tempo on East Chestnut in downtown Chicago.   Indulging in a scrumptious breakfast.  At lunch time.  Today.  And our hearts met and our lives “Entwined for a Time".   (BTW, Julie’s the poppy at the top – the one reflecting the Son  – uh, I mean sun!)

Oh, and prayers answered – she WILL be moving to Nashville for the job of her dreams.  Praise the Lord and congratulations, Julie!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
 plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a futurel”
                                                                                                                   Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, April 5, 2012

6" X 6" Oil on Canvas Panel

It is when we come to the end of ourselves that we can see Jesus for who He truly is.

 In this somber remembrance of Jesus’ crucifixion, let us surrender our lives –
our sins, our failures, our inadequacies, our will – at the foot of the cross.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slave to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”   (Romans 6:6)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

IU vs. UK? "A Kentucky Prayer"

"A Kentucky Prayer"
4" X 6" original oil

Well, the big day has finally arrived.  Before the pairings even came out, there was much talk about the possibility of these two rivals meeting on their way to the coveted Final Four!  And now, it's here.  Lest I step on any toes or burn any bridges with my banter, I have to confess that 5/9's of our family are IU fans - 4/9's are UK fans.  But that's only because they're transplants.  And because you absolutely cannot live in Lexington and NOT be a UK fan - they bleed blue on game days.  It is clear one is from out of town if they are not sporting some form of Kentucky blue - or at the very least, have a flag hanging out your car window!

When dining at a restaurant in Lexington after a disappointing UK loss, my husband, the IU fan, has been known to "play" dumb, and ask the waiter if he knows who won the game - for the sole purpose of just making the poor guy have to say it.   I won't tell you what happens after that :))))

Anyway, (just had to let you know a little bit of what I deal with) I, personally, do wish each team well, BUT thought UK might just need a tad bit of help; thus, the painting above :)

Actually, that is my youngest grandson, JT, who dropped to his knees with hands together when my husband said it was time to pray before dinner.  I kid you not - it was the MOST PRECIOUS thing ever!!!  So, yeah, sure enough I irreverently interrupted the prayer to get my camera and by the time we did the "do-over", you couldn't even bribe him to get on his knees again.  Don't care - still precious.  

You know what the bible says?  Matthew 18:3  states, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  (I think my husband is a shoe-in, based solely on the restaurant escapade, don't you?)  

On a serious note, should we all be so respectfully ready to bow to our Lord, who saves us by grace!   

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Unexpected Beauty"

"Unexpected Beauty”
6" X 6" Oil on Raymar Panel

When my missionary friend in Africa said she had sent me a photograph that she thought might make a nice painting, I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive (sorry, Barb!)  It’s not that I don’t trust her opinion – ‘cuz she really has good taste.  It’s just that my visual perception of Africa was compiled primarily of the 500 (give or take) pictures my husband and son took on their recent missionary trek there.  Not that those aren’t worthy of canvas– it’s just that none of them are anywhere close to the subject matter or colors I’m used to painting.  

Now, be honest - aren’t you thinking brown (as in hippo, dirt and desert), gray (as in elephant, hut and desert), and ochre (as in giraffe, lion and desert)?

But, faithful friend that I am, I anxiously opened the download and looked.  Surely she must have made a mistake and attached photos from the States instead!  Lush foliage, vibrant botanicals, a purring ‘felix domesticus’, and ………. a charming daffodil yellow home, acces-sorized  with clay pots of fragrant blooms????

Ya gotta love those moments of Unexpected Beauty!  They happen quite frequently really – it’s just that we usually are so focused on what we expect  - our “earth tones” - that we’re not even open to seeing the “color” God places in our paths.   Like the true “cerulean blue” confidante who had merely been an acquaintance before you faced an insurmountable issue.  Or the strength of the primary colors you experience when God empowers you to do something you dread and know you could never do on your own.   How about the “tickled pink” laughter between girlfriends as they help each other find humor when dealing with overwhelming work or family issues.

Just a reminder – start looking :)

“to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in His temple.”
Psalm 27:4

Many thanks to Barb and Doug for supplying the reference photo for this painting!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012


6" X 6" Oil on Raymar panel

Available at Ben and Penny's
(on the river behind Cafe Aruzzo)
Newburgh, Indiana

Fini!  The fourth and final piece of my South of France series – I think - well, for now.  We complete our make-believe mini-vacation at a quaint shop in the Eze Village in Eze, France, overlooking the Mediterranean, near Monte Carlo.   Before going on, inhale deeply that fresh sea air – ahh – you have a glorious day ahead of you!

Not knowing what type of shop this is, its name, “Infini”, triggers our imagination to purchase a souvenir from one last boutique - of your choice!  Will you choose French-milled soaps, wine from the local vineyards, or parfum?  Oh, is that a restaurant across the street (Creme Brulee!)……and one down the street (Croquembouche)?

Choices - opportunities we take for granted.  Some come so natural, or habitual, that sometimes we don’t even realize we’re making them.

Are you, by chance, a “Greys Anatomy” fan?   This past week, they aired an unusual episode where all the normal characters had “chosen” differently years ago.  They had selected different career specialties (or drugs instead), and significant others, so that even their resulting personalities were far from the real character.   As I continued to think about it over the days following, I was reminded of a phrase from an old friend,

“Today’s choices are tomorrow’s consequences.”  Really!

Soooooo…..ahem……what are you gonna do today?  Will you step away from the security of the familiar and follow that dream?  A calling from God?   How about lay down a bad habit and start anew?  Do something special for someone?  Or maybe  change your attitude or response to something that has chosen you.   

Whatever you choose – I
 hope you have a day filled with warm sunshine,
even if you have to make your own!

And remember, the possibilities are “Infini”!

My gift to you today – hope you enjoy! 

Many thanks to Anne Heinrich, the photographer for the reference photos from which the series was painted!  

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Reste dans L'ombre"

"Reste dans L'ombre"
6" X 6" Oil on Raymar Panel

Available at Ben and Penny's
(on the river behind Cafe Aruzzo)
Newburgh, Indiana

The bible study that I have been a part of for a number of years is comprised of 20 amazing women.   As I recorded the prayer requests at a recent meeting,  I was emotionally moved by the significant number of ladies currently dealing with difficult issues.  I’m talking about the gut-punch, take-your-breath-away, drop-to-your-knees, fall-flat-on-your-face kind of situations.  Major life issues with aging parents, wayward children wandering in the darkness, multiple premature familial deaths in a short period of time, family issues resulting in division and long-term anger and bitterness, and _________________________________________________________________

Oh, I could go on, but ‘nuff said.  However, I did leave a “fill-in-the-blank” for you – just in case.

In my quiet time this morning, I ran across a scripture that I hope will give you rest, even tho you may feel like you’re on a leaky raft surrounded by raging rapids threatening to take you under by their strong currents, tempting and taunting to edge away what strength you have left. 

I hope this is not you today.  But, if it is,

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Psalm 91:1

Look closely - see the bench in the shadow?  That’s for you – take a seat, “dwell” and rest.   He’s got ya covered.

Reference photo from South of France by Anne Heinrich.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Belle Maison"
6" X 6" Oil on Raymar Canvas Panel

When I first laid eyes on the reference photo for this painting taken by my friend, Anne Heinrich on a recent trip to South of France, I was so drawn to the house’s fa├žade.  I just wanted to be there in person.  Its approachable, warm, inviting, colorful, interesting, and gentle presence emanates a “welcome” - almost as if its arms are open wide, ready to affectionately embrace anyone wanting to enter.  It’s perfectly imperfect.   

I do wonder what it’s like to live there.  Surely everything is always clean and orderly, the kitchen always stocked with their favorite foods, and there are as many TV’s and remotes as the number of people that reside in it!   Of course, I think it’s decorated exactly like I would do it, and that all who live there are happy, content, and at peace - all the time!

Shall we go in?   Let’s see what it’s really like, and if we actually had the opportunity, would we really want to stay?  Is it as you imagined?  How would you describe it?

Stiff and formal?  (Are you afraid to move for fear you’ll do the wrong  thing?)
Too fancy?  (Could you ever measure up to the expectations?)
High maintenance?  (Is your mind already thinking of the upkeep?)           
Cluttered with “stuff”?  (Do you want to run to your “safe place”?)
Empty and cold?  (Do you feel unwanted, edged out?)

Or, can you hardly hold yourself back from enveloping yourself in the  billowed, overstuffed chair and a half, adorned with soft, fluffy, down pillows and ottoman in your favorite colors – a place of rest and refreshment? 

Thought for the Day
If an inanimate object can create just enough curb appeal by warming our hearts enough to make us want to enter, I have to wonder what message we, as humans, present to others with our appearance?  (We sure do spend a lot of time and effort on it!)   And more importantly, what do they encounter once they’ve entered our “space”?

“For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them,
and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
                                                                                2 Cor. 6:16

Monday, January 16, 2012

"The Door"
6" X 6" Oil on Raymar Canvas Panel

We watched as Lane slowly and methodically got out of the Rescue Mission (homeless shelter) van.  Like a well-oiled machine, he began navigating his way up the long sidewalk to the church doors.  With each step, his crutches propelled his body forward as he drug both legs behind.   Our emotions surged with compassion and wonderment.  I thought of the numerous times that it just wasn’t all that “convenient” to go to church - the weather was bad, or I was too tired, or I needed to sleep in, or I didn’t have anything to wear, or my back hurt .....  Until now, I had thought our “greeting” job wasn’t really very important.  
Once inside, Lane stopped to re-cupe right behind my door.  I asked him if he needed some help and he promptly told me that he had it covered and the “GPS on his crutches would tell him where he needed to go.”

I decided that personally welcoming him took precedence over the proper manning of my door.  (Besides, my husband was still working his post.) 
       I said, "So, have you been here before?"
       He said,  “No, I don't go to church.  But for the past two years, it’s just basically been me
             and God."
       I said, “It sounds like you know Him pretty well.”  
       He said . “Yeah, I've been through a lot, but I can’t quote chapter/verse.”
       I said,  “That’s okay - that's not what it’s all about anyway.”   

This man had a history with God.  As we continued to talk, I learned more about him, and his situation.  He came into our building with needs that evening.  I wish I could tell you this story ends with,  “So, I took him over to the side – we sat down on the bench, and I prayed with him – for a job, for housing, for God’s love and blessing, for healing …..”

But, I didn’t.  I told him I would pray for him - which I did - and still do.  Wish I had a do-over.

Lane essentially knocked on the door of our church that day.  I, like you, wonder if his life changed that evening – by the message he heard, a song that was sung, a person he sat next to, or maybe he even met someone who helped him find a job, or was healed from his bitterness.   I wonder, too, if I had been obedient, how it may have changed my life.  

Opening a “door” for someone may change their world. 
Walking through that door with them may also change yours. 

(South of France reference photo compliments of Anne Heinrich.)