Julie Drew

Julie Drew

“Crack! Thud!” …. Silence … murmuring voices… “Julie!”

It was late, I had been drifting off to sleep. I wondered what Reena (my 15 year old daughter) and Sam were doing working on the basement reno so late.

Sam was in the living room figuring out his new phone and ignored the noises – thinking it was Reena doing something.

It actually was Reena, but she wasn’t working on the reno. She had opened the freezer to get something and was almost hit by the ice falling off the lid.

Talia (our other daughter) slept through it all.

Any guesses?

On Saturday morning, Sam was scraping the popcorn stuff off the ceiling of the basement where we are renovating. He moved the freezer out of the way to do it. We took Reena to her dance class and left from there for Calgary to see our granddaughter for a 24-hour visit.

Monday and Tuesdays were normal busy days. No one worked on the basement. No one needed anything from the freezer.

Late Tuesday night (11:30 pm or so) Reena opened the large chest freezer, came to get her dad – and then Sam called my name. As I came downstairs, after dragging myself awake, I was greeted with, “I broke the freezer.” Something had happened when Sam moved it on Saturday, and it had been off for over 3 days.

My first thought was of how much food was in it, particularly the whole lamb I had recently purchased from the farmer’s market. In the past when confronted with this sort of dilemma, I would panic or accuse, or any number of reactions.

Instead of reacting, I chose to live in the moment and be present to the now, not the what if or what was. I felt calm as I checked out the situation in the freezer. Surprisingly most of it was still quite frozen. (I do keep a lot of turkey broth like ice whiich must have helped.) I then went to assess the freezer upstairs to see what room we might have up there to rescue what was still frozen in the chest freezer. Especially if it was truly broken, as it was midnight and we couldn’t go buy a new one.

While I started moving and shifting the food, Sam looked at the problem of the pulled out wires to see if he could figure it out.

It was not what I wanted to do. It was not what Sam wanted to do, but it was here before us and needed to be done.

By the time I had made room and moved all the (still mostly solid) frozen meat and some not so frozen fruit upstairs, (If stacked neatly it is amazing how much you can get into the little freezer above the fridge.) Sam had used a blower to clean out the dust, and discovered a wire had been dislodged but not broken. He had located a possible place for it to go back in, which was, of course, difficult to get to. We managed to do it between the two of us – and plugged the freezer in and IT ACTUALLY RUMBLED BACK ON! Weren’t we surprised!

Okay. Now what. The thought came to me that those big ice chunks that were now loose could be taken out – an opportunity to clean out the years of built up ice or we could just leave it and I could go back to bed. I opened the freezer – and decided to act on the thought. So we worked together and got it done, and moved back downstairs a portion of the food I had taken upstairs. By the time we were done the whole little midnight adventure had only taken about an hour or so, and I felt a deep satisfaction and thankfulness.

And we thanked God: for Reena paying attention to what she was feeling as she went into the freezer and acting on it, for a good solid freezer that can keep food so cold for 4 days, that it now worked again, and that we were able to be present to the situation and do what needed to be done.

We were talking earlier that evening at our home group about what it looks like to walk everyday with Jesus. We talked about the need to listen to the nudging’s of the Holy Spirit, to live in the present moment as we work out our calling in some of the most ordinary, mundane parts of life.

It could have been a very different experience if we had reacted differently.

Is it all just a matter of perspective? Any thoughts?

 

Spring is definitely here. I love watching the progress of the buds on the trees – The greening of the world as it comes back to life after winter. The poplar trees have all popped out their pussy tufts, which have elongated into the long fronds of silvery green and red buds. Just like in the painting, "Is it Spring Yet?" above. My tulips are getting their buds. And my eyes are burning today. Lately I have been ending the day with sore, dry, burning eyes. Today I am beginning it. It does not bode well for the day. Yes, I must have allergies to this season, as I experience it every year about this time. It is funny that I forget about it until after a few days of feeling it, and then it dawns on me – “Oh right! Its spring and this will be the new norm for awhile.”

I read the first paragraph in James this morning… “Consider it nothing but joy” when you face trials of any kind. “…the testing of faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:1-4)

A good set of verses for me today. Now how to consider it nothing but joy? Well, I still love to watch the buds grow, even if it does affect me. I love the steady lengthening of days. And as I take care of my eyes this year, I can look forward to the rest the warm compresses force me to take. Maybe I can start there.

Anyone else feeling the sting of allergies?

July 23, 2016  What a fun Plein Air Painting Day we had!

If you would be interested in taking part in a workshop next spring and summer contact Julie (at the bottom of the biography page).

Here are some photos from the day:

north saskatchewan2north saskatchewan canoers on the NSR NSRclassplein air1next to the teacherstudentwork1studentwork2studentwork3

The Process of a Painting

I wanted to share with you the process of the painting. I have added some details below. I  wrote in a previous blog the beginning thoughts on why I painted this. If you missed it, you can read those here in this article Wonders of the Sea.

The Possibilites:

possibility1

On wet watercolor paper, I poured liquid watercolor: blue, green and pink and I sprinked salt  and rock salt on whie it was still wet.  I was playing with color and letting whatever came from it, set the stage for the painting. 

This method of painting challenges me to let go and engage in the process. 

 

 

Mapping It Out:

step2 mapping out the painting

After it dried, and the salt had finished it's work. I looked at it until I saw possibilities.

I put masking fluid on theparts I wanted to save from the first pouring, and poured another layer of liquid watercolors - blue, pink and green.

 

 

 

A little more mask...

step3

I painted a layer of yellows and orange, before adding more masking fluid to save more of the light colors.

 

One more pour..step4

I put masking fluid on theparts I wanted to save from the first pouring, and poured another layer of liquid watercolors - blue, pink and green.

 

Rubbing:

step6

Once it is dry, I can begin to remove the salt and masking fluid by rubbing with the rubber pick up.

 

Lifting:

step7

Sometimes it can just pull right off. I am never sure exactly how it will turn out until it is all removed.

 

More Possibilites:

step8

Now I can see all that I had "saved" in the lighter colors. Now to make sense of it all.

 

The tedious details:

step9

This is the stage of the "pushing and pulling" that I talk about in classes. A wet brush and an brush with paint. Often with small brushes so it takes time.

 

And still more:

step10

Still more to go to finish it up. Can you see the changes?

 

Ta Da!

wndrs sea1100

The final touches finally finished!!! I am plsead with the result. I hope it makes you smile. It is so cheerfully colorful. 

I look forward to sharing this painting at the Blue Curve Gallery in the Beauty of the Coast Art Show July 1 - August 14, 2016. 

 

The sketch above is, Jade Evelyn, our first granddaughter. She was born on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 10:20pm and weighed 6 lbs, 8 oz. I had the privilege of helping the new little family out last week in Calgary. Our son, Thaddeus and Danielle, are doing well in their new roles, and it was such a joy to watch them adore little Jade.

I found myself quite able to just sit and be with Jade. Have you seen those tiny little hands and feet in a new born? I marveled at the wonder of Jade’s creation. She had so recently been “knit together in her mother’s womb” and indeed is “intricately and wonderfully made.” What I wrote and sang about Psalm 139 last time took on new meaning.

hands2

I, who like to do, had found myself quite content to just sit and be with this little one, this beautiful creation and gift from God. She doesn’t have to do anything. I already love her and like to be with her.

And as I sat and pondered all of this, it occurred to me that I am like this with God. He loves and cherishes me just as I am. I don’t have to do anything or achieve anything to receive that love. It isn’t conditional. He loves me just as I am.

Julie with granddaughter Jade

One of the painting exercises we did at the Art and Faith Retreat on Feb 5-7 was listen to the Tapestry Poem by Corrie ten Boom and respond with a drawing.

A response painting is a painting or drawing based on your own personal response to an event, a song, another painting as as in this case a poem. We all have responses or feelings to the events, people and things around us. Some of us are better at hiding those from others, even from our selves. This little excercise engages that part of ourselves we may not be aware of. It only takes about 15 - 20 minutes and you can use whatever materials you have on hand (paper & pencil, pen, markers, crayons, paint, clay, playdough etc.)

Try a response Painting

 

Instructions (read them through before beginning):

1) Read the poem, "Life is But a Weaving" in the image at the top of this page, out loud 2-3 times.
2) Let the poem sink in, let images come as you read.
3) Then draw, paint or create your response using images, color, lines, shapes - whatever seems right to you.
4) After you are finished, take a picture of your response and send it with a little explanation of what you were thinking of as you created it to julie(at)shedrewit.com.

With your permission, I will post it here with the others from the retreat.

I will begin posting them on on March 9, 2016.

 

Psalm 139: 7-16
Ephesians 4:11-16
Eccles. 4:9-12
Colossians 3:12-17

I was talking to my massage therapist recently about fascia tissue, which is like a web or net of tissue that wraps around all the muscles organs and bones in the body. The fascia holds everything together, holds the shape with tensegrity and works to protect you. When you are injured or are cut, like in a surgery, you are immobile for awhile. Immobility causes the fascia to thicken and pull on the surrounding muscles, organs and bones. Apparently the fascia has a "memeory" and will hold on to the shape it formed in pain, which then puts everything off alignment. My massage therapist likened it to when you put the flat sheet on a bed and pull the corners tight, you can see the strech lines in the sheet. You may want that in a bed, but in an arm it causes tightness in the muscles and tendons. I have two spots from the surgeries I had in 2014, and it is a good chance they are the cause of continued stress in both of my arms. I can do a lot more now, but I have to still rest and stretch, and not overwork my arms – which can lead to back, neck and side pain and headaches. (I do have a tendency of forgetting to take breaks.)

This talk of a web of connective tissue led my thoughts back toward the phrases in the scripture listed above: “being knit together in my mother’s womb,” “intricately woven,” and “knit together in love.” These are phrases from the recent weekend retreat on art and faith that Sam and I led (Feb 5-7). Ephesians 4:15-16 says:

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

As I think about what I have been learning about fascia, this scripture takes on some new significance. As a body of believers, we are affected by one another. When there is division, unforgiveness, pain and death, it affects the whole community. When we are working well together, it promotes growth and flexibility. The passage in Colossains becomes vital to the health of the body of believers, because we are truly knit together and it takes work to keep us knit together in love.

This year my growing edge has been in music. As I take time to listen, these melodies keep coming to me. I have been taking time to record these snippets of melody until they come togther. As I prepared for the retreat, and I contemplated the scripture above, one of the sets of snippets came together with the scripture and worked into the following song based on the verses we selected in Psalm 139:7-16.

The weekend retreat was about listening to the Word and responding with art (painting, poetry, music and this time we also had a contemplative weaving project.) Whether we have a large group or a small one, God works in our midst and it is beautiful. God takes each one another step on their journey. Sometimes it is breakthrough revelations, and sometimes just quiet awareness. My favorite part of the retreat is our closing service, where we share where God has met us, revealed himself to us. It is so beautiful.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

maryannerikatulipstaliamegan response painting

Upcoming retreats:

June 24-26, 2016 King's Fold Retreat Centre...theme TBA

October 28-30, 2016 King's Fold Retreat Centre
…theme TBA

Wonders of the Sea…

Have you ever really looked at a shell? They contain God’s amazing creativity and ingenuity. The shell grows with the creature inside of it. Even the tiniest ones are miniatures of the large ones.

I started collecting shells as a little girl in landlocked St. Louis, Missouri. My parents had taken a trip to Vancouver, BC and they brought back a shell package with a large scallop shell as the “basket” holding the other shells including a piece of bright pink and purple coral, a tiny starfish and sea horse. What a wonder! So beautiful! Such tiny detail! I loved to look at them and dream of finding them on actual ocean beaches. I found some fresh water clams in a slough area on a school field trip. I was thrilled.

Treasures of the Sea on Julie's DeskWhen I was twelve, my family and I went on a Big Trip West. We were gone a month- driving and tent camping. We circled the western states, missing Nevada, even going into Canada to Vancouver Island. We saw and experienced many amazing things. One was the Oregon coast. My dream of walking an ocean beach and finding beautiful shells had come true. We combed the beach for shells, rocks and interesting driftwood. I was mostly interested in shells and hoped to find some whole ones. Mostly I found bits and pieces of shells.

Last summer, I joined my parents and sister at the Oregon coast. It is still beautiful and I still enjoy some beach combing, but now I also want to paint it or just sit and drink it all in. I love the crashing waves, the sea foam, the sea spray and all the wildlife. I love the tide pools - these miniature worlds of life and color.

possibility1

As I watch the tide pool, I am reminded of what Jesus said about birds of the air and flowers of the field. (Matthew 6: 25-34) Small parts of creation, but examples to us. God desires our trust, “don’t worry about food, clothing.” He will be our provider. He who cares about those little things like flowers, birds, and sea creatures, cares even more for you and me. Isn’t that a wonder?

Last visit with you, I posted this possibility painting.
possiilities n treasuresBThis is what I saw in it. It is still in progress.

 

How has God been taking care of the details in your life? Leave your comments below.

possibilities n treaures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt 6:25-34

Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

The Process of Saturation

Today as I have finished this painting, Saturation 2, I think again of how it felt to be in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia, with water below me and falling all around me, the sound of the water dancing, roaring, trickling as we walked around the 16 lakes and thousands of waterfalls. This has been on my mind now for a couple of years, ever since I took the trip to Croatia with my husband, Sam. Below I will show you the layers and process of this painting.

Like this painting, the idea of saturation has been building layer upon layer. As I look back I see roots of it in the artwork and study I was doing in 1994. This is my first painting on this journey (The Blessing Cup, finished in 2004).

One of the key passages of scripture for me was Ephesians 3: 16-19

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (NIV)


The phrase, “so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”(NRSV), resonated deeply in me with such a longing and desire. So in 2005 or so, I began to pray it for myself and my family.


There were other milestones along the way preparing me for the idea of saturation:

Now as I think again of how it felt there with water below me and falling all around me, with the sound of the water dancing, roaring, trickling as we walked around the lakes and waterfalls. I think of God who is the Living water, filling and spilling everywhere, all around. Filling to overflowing.

Saturation is being so full you overflow.

God wants to fill me (and you) to overflowing, so that I (and you) may be filled with all the fullness of God.


Every Day. Fullness. Not a trickle.


Then, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water,” (John 7:38), to saturate the world with God’s love and mercy, and bring life where it flows...

Are you ready to be filled to overflowing with the all of the fullness of God?

Let it flow.

 

Painting process of Saturation 2.

View Saturation 2 in my store


I had been thinking of how to do this painting for a while before I finally got started. I wanted to create the texture of the limestone cliffs covered in vegetation using my handmade paper. You can see here the layers of the handmade paper on the canvas…

saturate1

saturated detail

 

 I used watercolor to get the initial colors on the handmade paper…

saturate2

 

 

Adding ink for detail on the hanging, grass like, vines…

saturate3

Next I sponged in layers of acrylic to create the trees and ground cover…

saturate3a

 

More acrylic layers creating depth and details…

saturated 4 detail

saturated 4

Finally adding the water falls…

saturate5

And the lake with reflections...saturation2f

This morning, I woke thinking of Corrie ten Boom’s story. Do you know it? I read her book, The Hiding Place, a long time ago. She lived in the Netherlands during World War II and she worked in the clock shop with her family. When the Nazi’s invaded, she and her family put their lives at risk by hiding the Jews and smuggling them out of the country. They built a secret room in their home to keep the Jews concealed – their hiding place. They stood up, for a handful of people at a time, like bridge, creating a path to safety. Toward the end of the war, they were caught and sent to a concentration camp. Of her family, she alone survived to tell her heart wrenching, heroic story.

In the book of Esther, in the Bible, Esther had to risk her life to petition the king on behalf of her people, to do what was right. She said, “If I parish, I parish.” She stood in the gap, like a bridge to safety, and the evil Haman was defeated. (Esther 1-10) There has been a lot of talk this week in the news and social media about the refugees, and what happened in Paris, and what to do about ISIS. Doesn’t ISIS win, if we shut the doors on the refugees? Will we let fear control us? Can we be willing to take a risk, put ourselves in danger, for others? Can we stand in the gap and be a bridge to safety? It goes beyond bringing them into our countries, are we willing to help those who come here find work, learn English, and acclimate to life here.

The painting above, Standing in the Gap (watercolor and color pencil), is a part of the series I painted, God is My Refuge. When I first saw the natural bridge in Marble Canyon, Banff/Jasper National Park area, with the pine tree standing so tall, I thought of Jesus on the cross. It reminded me of the old visual that was often used in telling the gospel story. Where you have two cliffs separated by a gap. God is on one side and we are on the other, and the gap is our sin. We try to get across the gap of our sin that separates us from God, but we cannot succeed. Then God sent His son, Jesus, to bridge the gap for us. He died for us and rose again that we can be with him. And we can accept his love and walk across the bridge – and be in relationship with God.

In his book, Esther, Charles Swindoll wrote, “Think of the scientists, the inventors, the explorers, the technological experts, who have literally changed the course of history. Think of the courageous preachers down through time who have stood alone in the gap and made a difference.

I want to be like Corrie ten Boom and Esther. Where do you stand?

Update on the painting of the North saskatchewan River West of downtown Edmonton. I decided to post the progression of the painting process and I will add more as I complete the painting.

nsr inprogress

in progress

in progress3

Watercolor painting in progress 4

Watercolor Painting of North Saskachewan river in progress

Watercolor Painting of North Saskachewan river in progress

On Procrastination:

These last two weeks I fully intended to finish that painting I started so I would be able to show you, but I didn’t. I would like to say that there was a good reason for this, but there isn’t. I procrastinated. I found many other things to do instead. I even found other paintings to start and work on.
This morning, I was going to get up early and finish it. Well, that didn’t happen either. So here I am thinking about procrastination instead. It made me think of the verses in Romans chapter 7, where Paul is talking about the law and sin, our human condition. In verse 15 he says, “I do not understand my own action. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” And again in verses 18-20:

18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Now you may think this is a bit extreme for procrastination, but it got me thinking. Why do I find myself procrastinating? What am I afraid of? What fear is my ego obsessed with now? Hmm. The fear of failure and what others will think of me and what I do, keeps looming over me.

Watercolor of North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton

I liked where I had started with the painting and I didn’t want to mess it up! Therefore, I started a smaller “practice” piece. I also wanted to work on taking a video as I worked. So, I tried that out on the practice one as well. (It will take more practice to get that right. It is hard to see through my hand what I am doing in the video.) I have attached the “practice painting” which actually I like how it turned out. And I have the tiny bit more of the one I am working on – you can see what it is more clearly.

I tell my students to play and practice and not to worry about getting it ‘right.’ Trust the process of where it takes you. It would be good to listen to my own advice.

Is procrastination bad? Whenever I let my fears rule me, letting my ego put up its defense and safety nets, I am hiding my true self even from me. I am not trusting God, but relying on myself. I am working too hard to get it all "right."

And I fail. Fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.in progress

Isn’t it odd that when I acknowledge and work through my fears, they let go of me. For me, it is also taking a step further, an expectation to receive and be open to what God is sending my way. Trusting the process, letting go of my agenda.

If I was to say that I can do it on my own though, I would be untrue to the Holy Spirit who is nudging me and giving me the courage to see and face myself. With Paul I say, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord!

Can I learn to trust the process?

Do you find yourself procrastinating? What are the fears you are running from when you procrastinate?

setup

At Kaleido Arts Festival in September, I taught the papermaking workshop again. This was my eighth year! It is a privelege to be asked to come back every year and a fun festival to be a part of. I actually remembered to take some pictures this year. 

 

tearing

It is all set up so people can come make one piece of paper to take home with them. 

 

We were set up in the  fellowship hall of St Faith Anglican Church.

 


 

Tearing

Here is part of the set up and next is the other part where the group is beginning to tear paper, cut fabric and add natural fluffs (cattail, thistle, fireweed, down feathers, poplar fluff were some of the choices).

torn2

In the yogurt container on the left, you can see the small torn bits. of paper and fabric.

 

 

 

 


 

 Blending

preblending2The next step is to take it to the blender station, where the bits are loudly chopped up and the paper pulp is made.

blending

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Creating 

pouring

Once the pulp is made, it is taken to the next station where it is poured onto screens.

creating


Lifting 

wetonscreen

Last is the process of getting it off the screen so it can be taken home.

Pressing, flicking and rolling.

gettingoffscreen

redsolid

bluewithheart

Look for my next workshop in the late spring or summer.

I teach another workshop on papermaking, an all day workshop. The students in the workshop will make 10-15 unique pieces of paper to take home with them.

I provide all the supplies, as mentioned above as well as pressed leaves and flowers that can be added.

Come and have a fun workshop with me!  

(Next workshop Nov 12 at the Paint Spot)

One of my favorite places to sit in the morning as I eat my breakfast and study the Bible is in the livingroom. The chair I sit in faces a large picture window, which faces east. If I get to the chair at the right time, I am able to watch the sunrise peak through the trees. 

Today the world was awash in rosy hues subtle and warm, glowing. Yesterday, the pink was fiery against the purple clouds. 

I love the sunrise. It seeps a peace into my soul. I want to just sit and watch it and "drink it in." It is a great way to begin the day. (The above painting, "On the Wings of the Morning,"  is actually from my imagination. A combination of many sunrises and the prairie. We can see so much sky here on the Alberta Prairie!)

280waiting clarity1000w

Psalm 130

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.

When I am traveling, I will get up early to try to catch the sunrise in a new place or see what the early morning brings. If I have my painting supplies with me, I will try to capture it in my sketchbook. This watercolor painting of the Ghost River valley at King's Fold, "Waiting for Clarity," was painted Plein Air one such early morning.

There are several early morning passages in scripture. Here are a few others:

277song dawn1000wPsalm 30

4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 5
1 Give ear to my words, O Lord;
give heed to my sighing.
2 Listen to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.

Psalm 139

9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.

Lamentations 3

19 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
20 My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

(Painting with Meadow Lark: watercolor, 15 in x 11 in, status: available)

Last month I wrote from the Oregon Coast. I shared about the funny sea lions and their antics and compared it to myself and my faith journey and I shared the painting of Jesus with his arms stretched wide. If you missed it you can read it here: Sealions Reaction to an Umbrella.

What I didn’t share was my struggles with vision this summer. As a visual artist, sight matters to me. I had three separate cysts on my right eyelid, so I have had to take the time to put warm compresses on my eye to aid the healing/draining of the cysts. Apparently, I am also starting to get a cataract in my right eye. This all causes a blurriness in my vision. I am right eye dominant, so it has also taken time to retrain my eyes to see left eye dominantly. Add to that the numerous trips to get the correct prescription for my glasses. This morning I see more clearly than I have in a while. The last lens for my glasses came in on Wednesday this week. I am thankful.

Not being able to see is discouraging, and disheartening. Not seeing well affects other things too – like balance. I had a biking accident and my left hip has not been the same since then. I have been sitting wrong in my computer chair because I have not been able to see the screen – which affects how my body feels at the end of the day, too. As I was finishing up the painting of Jesus (Painting: I am Loved) one morning, I stood and painted 5 hours straight without taking a break. (I was concentrating too much to notice.) I realized afterwards, as I could hardly walk, that I had hurt my left leg, again. My friend pointed out the irony of working on a painting to portray Jesus’ love for me, and hurting myself in the process. I have about 45 min of exercises to do from physio. This learning to take care of myself is time consuming. Yes, I want to feel better, but it doesn’t feel like I am accomplishing anything. I have had to tell myself that “no one is going to do this for me, I have to do it for myself.” I feel broken, like my body is failing to live up to my expectations and getting in the way of all I want to accomplish.

As all this has been going on this summer, I have been slowly reading through Ezekiel. I usually like the prophets, I can see God’s yearning heart for his people and my heart aches with his. I have not seen that as much in Ezekiel, but I am only up to chapter 14. Ezekiel takes place during the exile – but before the fall of Jerusalem. The judgment is upon them. It has stirred up all kinds of emotions in me. Ezekiel not only speaks prophesies from God, he lives the metaphors and prophesy. For example in chapter 4, Ezekiel lays on his left side for 390 days for the punishment of the house of Israel and then lays down on his right side bound for 40 days to represent the punishment of Judah. He acts out the metaphor of what God will do to the Israelites. I would not like to be Ezekiel. Did he really even have a choice? Can a prophet really not speak what God has given him to speak?

306transformation963w(Painting: Transformation, Acrylic & Multimedia, 20 in x 16 in, 2014)

Then I thought of how I started about 6 or so years ago to work on a series: Waiting on the LORD. In the last 6 or so years I have had a number of things happen that have been teaching me what it means to really wait on the LORD. This summer was no exception. God has been using these metaphors in my life to show me about trust, letting go, riding the airwaves with Him, learning to rest in Him, I am valued because he loves me not for what I can accomplish. Do I object to Ezekiel, because I am seeing the parallels in my life? Have I had any choice but to go through this? I suppose the choice I have made is to seek God and what he is teaching me through it, growing my spirit. The alternative would be to shrink my spirit with complaining and poor attitude. Have I been living in metaphors, too? Is that the only way I would be able to understand what it means to really wait on the LORD?

So as I reflect on the summer, on my fears and frustrations with my eyesight and hip, can I learn to love the parts of me that redemption2have failed? Like the painting of transformation, I have thought I have to become something fresh and new and leave the failed parts, the garbage, the pain, and the dysfunctional parts of me behind. I have failed in my own eyes, when I cannot do what I think I should be able to, when my body feels like it is falling apart and preventing me from doing things, when I have made mistakes, or made people upset with me. Yet, God loves all of me, redeems my garbage. Can I love myself enough to take care of myself? Can I accept my failings and brokenness? I wanted to see if I could paint Jesus reaching out to embrace me, to love me. Can I truly accept his love and embrace, and love myself as he sees me?

(Painting: Redemption, Acrylic on Canvas Paper, 20in x 16in)

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