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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
In the yogurt container on the left, you can see the small torn bits. of paper and fabric.
The next step is to take it to the blender station, where the bits are loudly chopped up and the paper pulp is made.
Once the pulp is made, it is taken to the next station where it is poured onto screens.
Last is the process of getting it off the screen so it can be taken home.
Pressing, flicking and rolling.
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!
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!)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?
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 have 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)
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.
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.
2 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.
3 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 ((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,
wash me clean,
white as snow,
make me whole,
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 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
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.
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.
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,
washing over us,
reaches down inside our souls,
the living water,
the Spring of Life
in Him we have life.
Come, all who are thirsty
Come and drink.
We 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.
Ours 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.
I think of all the times over the years, when I have gone out in May and April to catch this snow on the new life. Waiting for spring, is a theme I keep coming back to.What 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!
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.
Even 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!
“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.