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.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"An Angel"
6" X 6" Oil on Raymar Canvas Panel

The bible tells us that angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14).  So it’s easy to see how “angel” transitions into our every day language.  Who are the people that have truly blessed you in your life – who have been there for you in a time of need, who have anonymously acted in love, who have adorned you with unsolicited encouragement?

Recently, I attended the funeral prayer service of a friend’s mother – Bev.  I didn’t know her well personally, but certainly knew her through my friend and her sister.  When I would see her, she always preceded her words with her warm, genuine smile, and somehow wasted no time in making me feel comfortable, even if that meant her being uncomfortable.  What I remember most about her, though, is how she always made me feel special.  In her presence, surely I wore a tiara.

When it came time for family members and friends to share their thoughts at the prayer service, I listened as, one by one, each person related their favorite things about Bev – from funny stories to sentimental moments.  It wasn’t long before I realized the common thread amongst those whose lives she touched.  She made each one of us feel special in her own way – because we were special to her.  (And I thought it was just me!)

I think that is a gift – God’s gift to her that she then extended to many others.  What a testimony to her life.  The service was a beautiful celebration of a devoted wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, great-grandmother, (add the many other roles she played), who is greatly missed. 

An Angel.

This painting is in honor of Beverly Schapker.