Julie Drew

Julie Drew

In Newport, Oregon, there is a set of docks just for the sea lions/seals. There are maybe 50 or more sealions there. I don’t know all the difference between harbor seals and sealions. At Yaquina Head there are harbor seals that looked lighter, grey and smaller than the ones we saw in Newport on the docks. The ones at Yaquina head were also quieter, lazily soaking up the sunshine until their rocks were getting covered with water.

 
While we were enjoying the antics of the noisy Newport sealions, an umbrella from a nearby restaurant went sailing off on the wind to land in the water 20 feet from the seals. As the sealions saw it flying toward them, they went ballistic, vociferously scrambling to get away from the “flying monstrosity.”  Most were in the water trying to peer over the docks at the umbrella – barking as if they were questioning each other: “what is it?”  “I don’t know.” “Do you know what it is?” “Is it dangerous?” “Did you see that? It fell from the sky.”
 
None of the sealions were brave enough to go closer to it. Some ventured back onto the docks, but most stayed in the water on the far side of the dock, barking their displeasure with mysterious flying and now sailing objects. Any time it floated closer the storm of barking and frantic movements escalated.
 
I don’t know if the sealions resolved their situation. We left before the sealions had acclimated to the new norm.

seal1   seal2

seal3  seal4

I am sometimes like that…letting my fears take over and control my actions. I am more afraid of failure than of the unknown, but it is still a fear that influences my actions. I laugh at the seals. I can see it is only an umbrella. My own fears seem large and monumental to me. From a different perspective, are my fears really just an umbrella. How can I see them from God’s perspective, can I let go and trust him.
Isaiah 43:1-3 says…
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

 

I am his. His own. I belong to him. He invites me into his embrace. From the security of his embrace, can I face my fears? Yes, for he is with me, he comforts me and protects me.

(painting: I am loved, acrylic, 20 in x 24 in)

I am Loved

iamloved

I am Loved  ((2009 - Julie Drew)
I am loved
even in my sin...I am loved.
Pour Your Spirit on me
cleanse me, wash me
wash away my sin,
my selfishness,
my pain,
my self-righteousness,
my pride,
wash me clean,
white as snow,
make me whole,
to live,
to serve You,
to serve others.
I cannot contain this love.
Let it flow from me and touch others:
As You have forgiven me
may I forgive others.
Let it flow like a river
this love
this pouring of Your Spirit into my spirit.
Let it flow like a river
giving life where it goes
to keep it for myself
it would stagnate
but to share it gives life.
I am loved.

In 2013, my husband and I traveled to Croatia for a week. I have not painted as much of the harbors and Croatian coast as I have of the waterflal parks there. We took a day and drove the length of the coast all the way from where we were staying in the little village of Baska Voda to Dubrovnik. (about 4 hours down the coast.) It was a winding road with tiny red roof, white stucco villages dotting the coast with their harbors. The sea was filled with Islands. I knew it was called the Dalmation coast for its many islands. But seeing it was different. The tall hills (short mountains) on the islands reminded me of the Puget Sound in the Seattle area. I like the tall masts of a ship yard, standing like setinels. This miniature painting is only 3 x 7.5 inches. 

This is one of the paintings I will have in my booth at the Art Walk. You can fin me painting in my tent space on 105th Street between 82 Ave and 83 Ave.

 

As I am looking toward the Art Walk on June 10-12, 2015, I decided to work on some small pieces based on my sketchbook work from my travels. This is one of those although my travel was only an hour and some Plein Air Painting...

I love the golden, yellow canola fields. It is such a happy, bright yellow, I feel a warm glow inside just looking at it with the bright greens on the edge. I was with a friend who lives out in Vegreville. We went driving until we spotted something interesting. And then, we would stop and get our our painting supplies and do a quick painting or sketch.  These three storage buildings in the middle of a field were not too far off the road with the field of canola stretching as far as I could see. Butterflies and bumblebees were flitting around the flowers. Glorious! 5 x 15 inches.

I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:2

 

 

Wild Poppies 

All along the roads in Croatia, red poppies danced. It was beautiful. I took a number of photos as we drove along to try and capture enough for a painting like this one. 

Yesterday, as I was walking across the soccer field in the beautiful sunshine, I noticed how much it looked and felt like August with the grass so dry and prickly. Where is the rain we usually get in May? Alberta is under a fire ban province wide. Although thunderstorms are in the forecast, they may just pass us by. Have you ever seen the rain clouds streaming grey and it stops midway down as if the air is so dry it just soaks up the rain before it reaches the earth?

We aren’t the only dry place where there is supposed to be rain. Our son, Nathaniel, and his friend, Travis are traveling around Southeast Asia and in one of their postings they mentioned a dry waterfalls in Thailand which is supposed to be in monsoon season.

The drought in California has been in the news as well and the repercussion that I noticed has been the doubling price of almonds, from $10 to $19 a bag. I may need to find a new munchie food.

I remember when we moved to Edmonton 18 and a half years ago, May and June were the rainiest months. Our children played baseball and the weather affected the games as we shivered on the sidelines. About 2007 or so I started noticing a change: it was warmer and dryer in the spring and summer and little snow in the winter. That drought lasted about 4-5 years before there was a break. We lost a number of birch and poplar trees in the Edmonton area. The ground was like a sieve and rain just disappeared. Strong winds would come and trees in the ravine would just fall over as if the soil was so dry there wasn’t anything to hold the tree in place.

During the drought years I was working on the Living Water Series and I have continued to add to the series since then. In the series, I was thinking about the scriptures of living water, being thirsty for God and how we often go after other things besides His Living Water. I compared it to the environment and the drought. I was thinking of all that this week again.

Psalm 63:1

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

 

 

Water

Water

Water
flowing, living,
the essence of life;
we cannot live without it.
We are drawn to it:
the roaring of the surf,
the lapping at the edge of a lake,
cascading down the mountainside,
running and tripping down a river,
a trickling brook.
It delights our hearts,
overflowing us,
washing over us,
reaches down inside our souls,
renewing us.
God is
the living water,
the Spring of Life
in Him we have life.
Come, all who are thirsty
Come and drink.

- Julie

click here for more information on Alpine Meadow, oil panting.

springsnowSpring or Winter Relapse?

tulip snowyellowtulipinsnowWe woke up to snow this morning. And as I write this it continues to fall.

My girls were not excited about it. One chose to bike to work, the other hitched a ride from her dad to get to school. Once everyone had left I took the opportunity to grab my camera and our dog, Lizzy for a trek into fairyland.

First, I checked on my flowers out front. My daffodils were buried, but the tulips were bravely peeking through the snow.

I do love to watch the snow fall, even today, when I am eager for spring. It is peaceful, serene. Sounds are muffled, at least until I get down to the creek which is loudly, rushing along.

LizzyOurs are the first tracks through this part of the ravine. Here is Lizzy, our dog. She shows up better against the snow. She roams while I take photos.

When we moved to Edmonton, Alberta 18 years ago, we heard that it had snowed at some point over history in every single month of the year. Thankfully we have not experienced all of that, but snow in May has definitely been common.

spring snows300wThe watercolor painting here on the left, I did in 2013. The red Poplar seed pods were out that year. This year the buds have yet to open on those trees.

I think of all the times over the years, when I have gone out in May andred bridge April to catch this snow on the new life. Waiting for spring, is a theme I keep coming back to.train tresselWhat are you waiting for? What does "Waiting for Spring" signify for you?
I have written about it in the past. Today, I will just dwell in the moment.

Enjoy the photos of fairyland!bridge2

Painting: Hope for Spring

An Afternoon Painting at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital


On the morning I went to spend the afternoon painting at the Glenrose, we had a fresh blanket of new snow the day before. But the sun was shining, and as it is a spring snow, we know it is temporary.
I decided to approach my blank watercolor paper with no agenda – no plan just to see what came.

I started with the blue and energetically, whipped those lines across the middle of the page of the page. Hmm, thinking of the blue snow shadows, I then threw clouds in the sky. But no, the sun is shining so there should be blue there too. Then followed the trees lifting their empty branches to the heavens. On a faraway hill the treeline of evergreens emerged. The bank and rocks pushed their way through next. Finally the tree shadows emerged and all of a sudden the sun was shining on my page.


I talked with Glenrose patients and visitors as I let the painting emerge. As one fellow said – “That has got to be Alberta.” It is all the parts I love about winter in Alberta: the long blue shadows, the white crisp snow gleaming under the sun’s rays, the shapes and gestures of the trees reaching to the heavens, creeks frozen or flowing.


109resurrection 3 1000wEven so, I look forward to spring and I am out looking for evidence of its arrival. The pussy willows are showing their tufts. My daffodils and tulips are beginning to push through in the garden. But spring is teasing us. It is snowing again this morning. Spring is long and slow here in Edmonton, but it is not without hope. Like today, we will probably get more snow before winter finally let’s go.
Like spring, God’s redemptive work in our lives is long and slow. We may go two steps forward and one step back (and sometimes one step forward and two steps back), but he is there with us. He made a way for us.


Praise be to God who gives us the victory in our Lord Jesus Christ

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Happy Easter

 

 Painting: Resurrection III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Painting: redemption/Transformation

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” says the Lord of Hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)

Weakness and failure, our world looks down on these and on those who display weakness and failure. Yet, we love the story of the underdog, the hero who rises above his past; stories of redemption, of overcoming failure and achieving success.

There is a different story of redemption that hinges on our admitting our weakness and failure, our need for a Savior. It is so easy to fall into the trap of self-sufficiency, hiding our weaknesses even from ourselves, from myself. When I stop hiding, I can actually begin to love those around me, and not worry about me. When we are worried about our position or power, or place, we have no room to love those around us. I cannot know that “His grace is sufficient for me,” if I do not admit I need God’s gift of grace.

This past month, I watched a cyst that had been on my back for a long time, begin to double and triple in size. It became painful to move my left arm. I do not like to rest and ask for help. I do like to act and do. I had to acknowledge my need to seek help from doctors, ask questions, rest at home. It was a long ordeal involving several weeks, trips to the doctor and the emergency room. I had x-rays, an ultrasound, and even an MRI before they were ready to do something and by that time it was heavily infected, and I had spent almost two days at the hospital. I am on the mend now, and both the wound and the infection are healing, and I am grateful to God and the doctors for their work.

With all of this I recognize that I do not like to be ill. It was a struggle to not feel guilty while resting, my “to do” list is long. I get sore and tired still. I feel like a wimp. Where did that come from? I think I need to accomplish something to be fulfilled. God isn’t waiting for me to accomplish something, or become great. God is inviting me to be with him, to walk with him. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.” Why is it so hard to let go and just trust him?

I have been reading slowly through Madeleine L’Engle’s book, The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth. She wrote:
“It is only when I am able to acknowledge my own failures that I am free to be part of a community, and part of that freedom is to be able to accept that the community itself is going to fail. At the very least, it is going to change, and it may die, and this, in worldly terms, is failure.
The church in our village offered me community and so redeemed my failures as wife, mother, writer.”
It isn’t just God whom I need to trust, but to be willing to open myself up to others around me in my community. As Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians, “for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

I have been working on a different painting this summer, Redemption.

Art Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat

Connecting with God Through the Arts

Two unique retreats June and October in 2016

Time : Friday, 6:30 pm to  Sunday, 3 pm

 

Do you have a creative inclination? Are you thirsty for God? Do you want to learn how to connect with God creatively? Do you think: "How can I use my creativity to connect with God?" How do you listen to God, hear his voice? Are you looking for new ways to connect and listen to God?

This retreat is for artists, would be artists, and for those who are curious about art and faith.  Students will be encouraged to create in the art of their choice -- painting, writing, photography, dance, etc. Instruction for watercolor and drawing will be provided for those who desire it. Supplies are availbale for a nominal fee. Coaching for the other painting mediums and writing will also be available. There will be solitude and group time in the schedule. King's Fold is a beautiful location in the foothills along Ghost River.

Testimonianls

Retreat Presenters:

Artist Julie Drew and Sam Drew.

sam julie

June 25-27, 2016  

location: King'sfold Retreat and Renwal Center

Cost:

$375  by April 30, 2016
$400 after April30, 2016

$65 extra for a single room

Refund Policy: Refunds of all payments except a $50 deposit available until June 1, 2016.
No refunds after June 1, 2016.

Cost covers accomodation in a beautiful location, 3 meals on Saturday and 2 on Sunday, and the program.

pdfPoster of the Art Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat

pdfBrochure of the Art Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat

October 28-30, 2016 (Theme: Saturation)

location: King'sfold Retreat and Renwal Center

Cost:

$360  by July 30, 2016
$410 after  July 30, 2016

$65 extra for a single room

Refund Policy: Refunds of all payments except a $50 deposit available until Oct. 1, 2016.
No refunds after Oct. 1, 2016.

Cost covers accomodation in a beautiful location, 3 meals on Saturday and 2 on Sunday, and the program.

  count me in

 

Sam Drew

samSam is a spiritual director and Christian teacher. He has taught and led numerous one day retreats and week-long courses on topics of spiritual formation, including "Writing Your Spiritual Autobiography", "The Theology of Spiritual Formation," and the "Institute of Spiritual Formation" through the Urban Sanctuary in Edmonton. He also preaches regularly as part of the Teaching Team at Calvary Baptist Church in Edmonton. Sam has a Master of Divinity and Certificate of Spiritual Direction from North Park Seminary in Chicago, as well as a Certificate of Spiritual Formation from the Urban Sanctuary.

kingsfolddescript

The Story of the Aral Sea epitomises our own thirsty search for water other than the living water.

In 1960, just 50 years ago, the Soviet Union began diverting water from the Aral Sea to grow cotton in a dry climate. Their experiment was successful, producing a cotton industry in Uzbekistan to be the third largest cotton exporter in the world. But it did not come without a cost. The Aral Sea was the fourth largest inland sea in the world and supported many small villages with its fishing industry. As the irrigation continued, the sea dried up and so did the fishing. The land became a desert with blowing dust and salt unleashing a scourge of respiratory diseases in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. “In Uzbekistan, although prohibited under the Uzbek constitution, there have been estimates that hundreds of thousands of children are forced by the regime to hand pick cotton during the harvest season with little or no pay... Some children miss up to three months of schooling each year while picking cotton. Those who fail to meet their quotas o r pick poor quality cotton are punished by scolding, beating or detention.” – Environmental Justice Foundation Their industry brings death to the land and the life of the people.

Just as God’s living water brings life to our souls, the waters coming back into the northern part of the sea, now called the North Aral sea is slowly bringing life back with it. “A dam built by the World Bank and Kazakh government is slowly resurrecting a small part of the sea, reviving the fishing industry and bringing hope to an area that some expected would simply dry up and blow away in the fierce, salty winds.
“The miracle is a small one compared with the damage that will probably never be undone. Uzbekistan has chosen to keep the lucrative cotton industry going, and to prospect for gas and oil under the exposed seabed.” -Peter Leonard, the Associated Press.

So often in our world the life that God gives is not enough, we want so much more, and we end up with so much less...

Painting: Empty Sea, Empty Heart

Painting: The Heavens Declare
Time flies...and sometimes it doesn’t.
I have worked on two paintings this year that reflect the passage of time. The changes a sky can have in 20 minutes. One I painted in February and this week I finished the second one. The first one I saw on my way to Kananaskis last summer. We were just past Airdrie headed west when I looked in the rear-view mirror and filling it were these thunderheads. It was so amazing; I pulled over for a better view and to take some pictures. The second one I will tell about in a minute, but first I want to share with you another thought.

This year has been a growing year for me. I have been taking the Urban Institute at the Urban Sanctuary, which is about growing in your spiritual walk with God and doing it with a small group of people, walking the journey together. Some of it is about listening, waiting and understanding more of ourselves as we grow closer to God. But it takes time. It takes carving out time in our day to spend reflecting and listening and reading. It has also been about waiting - God waiting for me to be ready to face things in myself, my past so that I can grow into who He created me to be. And it has been about me waiting and leaning more on God, trusting Him with my life.

261prairie storm1000wAs I worked on Prairie Storm in February, I was thinking about the waiting process and how it is sometimes like a storm. These big clouds build up and pile on top of each other until they are massive, and thunderous and lightning streaks out and the heavens seem to open for buckets of drenching rain and in the midst of all the chaos there is sometimes a rainbow as the storm passes over, dissolves and out pops the sun. In life, we have things that build up inside of us, things we need to face or deal with, things that block us from being our true selves. And then, it acccelerates or sometimes hammers us with emotion: the rains come, the tears, the realizations of our sin, our failings and things we are not good at. But after the storm can come the healing, the rainbow after the storm - redemption, God's grace poured out on us, because he loves us just as we are.

Back on the road to Kananaskis, just 15- 20 minutes later, I was watching for the sunset. We should be heading into it, but I caught the colors in my rear-view mirror. Those same clouds in the thunderhead had turned glorious in multiple colors. Of course I had to stop the car and drink it all in. Grace out poured. Majestic. And the heavens declare...

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

Painting: How Deeply Are You Rooted?

What does scribbling in the sand have to do with creativity?
In his book, Scribbling in the Sand, singer and songwriter, Michael Card explored the biblical foundations of true Christian creativity. He speaks to all people not those just with a creative bent. I resonated with much of his work, just as I enjoy his music and am myself inspired by it. Below I have put the link to the song he wrote to go with the book – based on the passage in John 8 where the woman is caught in adultery and Jesus bends down and writes in the sand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic79r2_Mxl0&feature=related  

At the end of his book, Michael Card was speaking of Jesus and his ministry of healing and feeding and going out of his way to connect with people. Michael Card said this on gifts and giving:
“Gifts are wondrous things. They can heal and feed people, and even set them free. We sometimes spend enormous amounts of time and money strengthening and developing them, and there is nothing wrong with that. The process of giving a gift to someone, whether it is a poem for a friend or a huge exhibit that tours the world, is a thrilling experience for everyone involved. But don’t settle for that.


“We are called to give more. If Jesus is truly our paradigm and pattern, as we confess he is, then like him we must be searching for new and creative ways to give ourselves to others for his sake. That is true creativity. It does not require perfect pitch. It does not demand digital dexterity. In fact, it does not demand anything at all except surrender. This is not to say that it is easy. There is a level of giving that we can achieve only through brokenness, but the burden is light precisely because the One who places it on our lives never completely takes his hand from under the weight. He never stops pursuing us, even to the very last moment of our lives. He creates a space in time that allows us to respond to his extravagant invitation. He welcomes our creative, worshipful response. He promises to never leave and forsake us, to never stop tracing his pattern in the sacred soul that is our lives.” (Scribbling in the Sand, p.158-9)

As we are into the advent season, giving is more on our minds. At least it is on mine. I think that is why this phrase particularly stood out to me... “If Jesus is truly our paradigm and pattern, as we confess he is, then like him we must be searching for new and creative ways to give ourselves to others for his sake.” Sometimes I begrudge the shopping for gifts. I am not fond of shopping, it is something I avoid, maybe because I am too frugal. I do not fighting traffic and lines of people.
So, maybe I need to turn my attitude. Instead of looking at the lists as things to get done think about possibilities, get creative with those lists. Think about the person and what they would enjoy (and maybe it isn’t on the list). What is it about them that sparks an idea of a way to creatively give of myself.

One more quote:
“Art creates a space in time when we can hear God...” - Michael Card What a gift that is! When we get creative and give more from our heart we open ourselves up to THE Creator, our God, who gave of himself for us in the form of a little baby in a manger.

One of my favourite Christmas songs by Michael Card is Immanuel. I have sung it in church and home and I would like to wish all of you a blessed Christmas!
Immanuel! God is with us! May God be with you and your family this season!

What does scribbling in the sand have to do with creativity?

In his book, Scribbling in the Sand, singer and songwriter, Michael Card explored the biblical foundations of true Christian creativity. He speaks to all people not those just with a creative bent. I resonated with much of his work, just as I enjoy his music and am myself inspired by it. Below I have put the link to the song he wrote to go with the book – based on the passage in John 8 where the woman is caught in adultery and Jesus bends down and writes in the sand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic79r2_Mxl0&feature=related (This takes you to the article where I was able to embed his song on my website)

At the end of his book, Michael Card was speaking of Jesus and his ministry of healing and feeding and going out of his way to connect with people. Michael Card said this on gifts and giving:
“Gifts are wondrous things. They can heal and feed people, and even set them free. We sometimes spend enormous amounts of time and money strengthening and developing them, and there is nothing wrong with that. The process of giving a gift to someone, whether it is a poem for a friend or a huge exhibit that tours the world, is a thrilling experience for everyone involved. But don’t settle for that.
“We are called to give more. If Jesus is truly our paradigm and pattern, as we confess he is, then like him we must be searching for new and creative ways to give ourselves to others for his sake.  That is true creativity. It does not require perfect pitch. It does not demand digital dexterity.  In fact, it does not demand anything at all except surrender. This is not to say that it is easy. There is a level of giving that we can achieve only through brokenness, but the burden is light precisely because the One who places it on our lives never completely takes his hand from under the weight. He never stops pursuing us, even to the very last moment of our lives. He creates a space in time that allows us to respond to his extravagant invitation. He welcomes our creative, worshipful response. He promises to never leave and forsake us, to never stop tracing his pattern in the sacred soul that is our lives.” (Scribbling in the Sand, p.158-9)

As we are into the advent season, giving is more on our minds. At least it is on mine. I think that is why this phrase particularly stood out to me... “If Jesus is truly our paradigm and pattern, as we confess he is, then like him we must be searching for new and creative ways to give ourselves to others for his sake.”  Sometimes I begrudge the shopping for gifts. I am not fond of shopping, it is something I avoid, maybe because I am too frugal. I do not fighting traffic and lines of people.
So, maybe I need to turn my attitude. Instead of looking at the lists as things to get done think about possibilities, get creative with those lists. Think about the person and what they would enjoy (and maybe it isn’t on the list). What is it about them that sparks an idea of a way to creatively give of myself.

One more quote:
“Art creates a space in time when we can hear God...” - Michael Card    What a gift that is! When we get creative and give more from our heart we open ourselves up to THE Creator, our God, who gave of himself for us in the form of a little baby in a manger.

One of my favourite Christmas songs by Michael Card is Immanuel. I have sung it in church and home and I would like to share it with you today and wish all of you a blessed Christmas!
Immanuel! God is with us! May God be with you and your family this season!

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.

Look to Abraham your father
and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
that I might bless him and multiply him.

Awake, awake, put on strength,
O arm of the Lord;
awake, as in days of old,
the generations of long ago.
Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,
who pierced the dragon?

Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made the depths of the sea a way
for the redeemed to pass over? Isaiah 51:1-2, 9-10

Remember your past, remember the rock from which you were hewn...

50th Anniversaries are interesting. My parents had their 50th wedding anniversary this past August. This past summer, I have been working on a commission to do a watercolor painting of a church for their 50th anniversary celebration which took place last weekend. At both celebrations, it was a time for sharing stories, memories, and the ups and downs, humorous and serious. We don’t always see what is going on in a moment, but in celebrations like this we can look back and see how God has moved among us. It has been a privilege to paint Cross of Christ Lutheran Church for the deaf for their 50th Anniversary celebration and be part of what God has been doing there.

I started out by taking a number of photos to see how best to capture the essence of the church. I took them home and realized I would need to draw onsite as the trees covered too much of the building in the photographs. So, I set up my easel and started work on it. I thought about the stories I had heard and worked to capture some of them. I left out the branches that hid the building with it’s beautiful stone work, the stained glass window of Jesus healing the deaf man and the courtyard with the three crosses. I worked in the dancing shadows of the surrounding trees. I thought of what God had been doing here, the many people that worshiped here, the lives that were touched and changed and the light this church has been to the deaf community over the last 50 years. It was beautiful to be a part of it in a small way.

web img1489I have mentioned before that I have been on a journey with a small group at the Urban Sanctuary. I have been looking at the patterns and stories that make up myself, and last spring I reread some old journals I had kept during highschool and university. Like the anniversaries, it was a way to revisit memories - good and bad, old hurts and confusion. As I read, I realized that I had been hiding myself from my own self like those trees in the painting. In fact, I found my memories were worse than they actually were in the journals. Yes, I made mistakes and wasn't perfect, but I could love myself and accept who I was and who I am. It is in embracing our memories and facing our truths that we can become more of who God created us to be. It is taking away the branches of facade I put there to hide myself - and expose me - so that I can learn to be myself - to not hide who I am. And in remembering, I could more clearly see how God has woven himself into the story and walked with me through this journey. Now I can see the direction he is leading me - and I am able to hold on to him a bit more - as I remember who He is and what He has done for me.

In Isaiah 51, the LORD, is calling the righteous to remember- remember who they are, to remember Abraham and Sarah, and to remember who God is. We are like the Israelites. We need to take time to remember who we are, to uncover what we have hidden and remember who God is.

 

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us,
because God's love has been poured into our lives through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

We also "boast in our sufferings..." When was the last time you did that? It was certainly not something I had made a practice of, but God is teaching me to reconsider it.

This last fall, I was going through a difficult time with some relationships and in the midst of this I was very hurt and angry. I didn't like what was going on and I didn't know why it was happening. It's easy to fall into the ways of our culture of entitlement. Christian's are not immune to feeling "I deserve", "you deserve", or "we deserve" and feeling that suffering or tragedy of any sort is just plain wrong. Or sometimes we feel guilt when tragedy strikes, as if we've done something wrong and the suffering is our fault. Both of these attitudes are centered around us and what we do. We feel we have worked hard. We are good people. Therefore, we deserve good things to happen.

As all these feelings swirled around inside, I turned, as I often do, to painting to draw close to God and sort my spirit out. But when I got to this painting, what I felt I really need to work on was the rainbow. I didn't paint the hurt, instead I painted the hope I have in Christ. A sign of God's promise that he loves me and walks with me in my pain. He heals and redeems situations beyond what I can imagine. And he does it, not because I deserve it, but because he loves me. For that I will trust God to take me through and work through all that is before me. And hope does not disappoint.

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