Julie Drew

Julie Drew

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.

Abundant Goodness
Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind! Psalm 31:19

This morning, I was thinking on God's goodness in my life as he has been walking right beside me for as long as I can remember. I am thankful for His love which does indeed surpass all understanding. Even in my sin, when I go astray like the lost sheep, He doesn't abandon me to my foolishness. He comes after me and loves me still. So I am sitting here thankful. I am thankful for the gifts of a husband and children, for a home to live in and provision for what we need, when we need it. I am thankful that He is here beside me, showing me the things I need to know and understand about myself. O How abundant is His goodness!

ghost river 1A friend saw the reproduction of the painting (on the left) I had done of King’s Fold on the Ghost River. She and her husband had gone there while they were dating. Of all the paintings of the Taste of Europe show and my portfolio, this little one on the brochure caught her eye and engaged her heart. She had a frame at home would that maybe work to go with it?
She commissioned me to paint the same view at King’s Fold but with colors to match the green frame and mat. What a fun challenge! It took a bit to find some photos in my collection of the various seasons I was at King’s Fold. They did not all have the same exact view, but I could work with it. She liked the bright green of spring and she liked the effect of salt.
I drew it out and then started by painting the sky. As I painted, the opening in the clouds showed up. I paint quickly and watercolor is not completely predictable. As that was the perfect cloud for the sun rays to come out of, it seemed right to add them. As I did, I thought of my friend and her marriage. It felt to me like a blessing from God on their marriage - a gift for them.
I finished the painting, and waited for my friend to see it. What would she think? I could see in her eyes the excitement for it. She loved it. She surprised her husband with it on his birthday.
What a privilege to be a part of! I get to do a painting that I know someone is going to love and enjoy. It is something that touches their heart before I even begin. I can pray for them as I paint and let God put in what needs to be there.

Do you have a favorite place that you would like painted?

Painting: open hands/letting go

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

At the end of my last newsletter, I was healing and thought I was done. But no, after two weeks I went for a follow up appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. The infection was still there and he wanted to go back in and remove the cyst sac and scrape out the infection. So four days later, I was back in the hospital, admitted. It would be overnight at least and he wanted to keep me until the right antibiotic would be found.

Waiting – in the hospital.
First there is the waiting on an empty stomach for the surgery. It was noon before the surgery finally took place. Then I began to see and experience all kinds of waiting:

  • To be able to eat again
  • For a nurse to respond to a call bell
  • For pain to go away
  • For recovery from medication given during surgery
  • For healing to happen
  • For a doctor to come by with his/her prognosis
  • For a prescription
  • For a good meal
  • For time to pass
  • For visitors to come
  • For the okay to go home

In a hospital there is no control - 

  • Of when the doctor will come by
  • Of how long it takes to heal
  • (Sometimes even) Of bodily functions
  • Of all the above

Vulnerability is high and you have to trust the doctors and nurses.

I had a couple of roommates. One who had had hip surgery and complications afterwards. She was bed ridden and needed a lot of help. She was in her 80’s. Physio came by every day just to get her to work on standing.

On my third day in the hospital, I wrote this poem from her point of view as I watched her situation in the hospital:

Vulnerability
Stuck in this chair
Waiting for a nurse
“call” bell is dinging
No one responds, no one hears
Waiting an hour
Hoping they get here before I make a mess
Where are they?
Don’t they care?
Can’t wait much longer
…So uncomfortable
Roommates are listening
…commiserating
But they cannot help
Shake my head,
…helpless
…vulnerable
In come the nurses
Finally!
Lift in position to move me to the chair with a hole.
Lift…
…Aagh!
Too late!
What a mess!

By the fourth day in the hospital, I was pacing the hallway. In the last newsletter I wrote about the difficulty of vulnerability, but I found it became even harder the longer I had to wait. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I paced the hallways waiting. I was frustrated, impatient ready to cry and realized that this is how I am with God. I wrote in my journal that day as I was waiting for the doctor to come by and let me go home:

“ Honestly, I do not like the lack of control when waiting for You, Lord. I don’t like giving up control. I don’t like the vulnerability in crying – I would rather hide my feelings. I don’t even have it as bad as some people here. Lord, I confess, I do not want to give up my control. I want to feel important and valid. I don’t like being a “nobody.” I confess, I do not like being vulnerable, weak and teary. I’d rather be sunshine than rain. Strengthen my faith that I can let go of control. It’s not about me. What does it mean to rest in Jesus, trusting in him, letting go?”

I am currently working on this painting, “Letting Go,” as I work through these feelings and experience. I started this painting last week at the Art Vocabulary of the Soul retreat, where I shared this journey. Our weekend focus was on God as our strength in our weakness. And he is. And I can rest in that as soon as I let go.

Painting: Bearing One Another

Do you ever feel like you are stumbling along, burdened and feeling heavy of heart? I sometimes get there when I have a lot to do and it is not coming together, like this morning before I wrote this article. Some of it had to do with the thoughts I had been thinking this week. You see, recently we watched two drama movies, Wild and the Judge, which left me feeling unsettled and thinking of hard things, difficult lives and painful circumstances.

In Wild, we walk the road of grief and recovery with a young woman on the Pacific Crest Trail, a three month long hike. It is about a mother- daughter relationship. In the Judge, it is a father-son relationship, of broken relationships and hurts so deep but unspoken, of love withheld, of confusion and finally a sort of reconciliation.

I cried during the movies – we walk in a broken world and what the movies portrayed is all too real. Even as followers of Christ, we are not immune to that brokenness in our own lives: unforgiven, not talking about what is wrong, hiding truth, withholding love and affirmation, sickness, death. I feel a heaviness in my heart just to think of it all.

Will I have the grace to forgive others when I am hurt by their actions? When they seem stubborn and unforgiving to me?

It doesn’t take long to find any of the above scenarios in the newspaper or online news. I cannot change the world, but I can change me. And even that is difficult without Christ by my side encouraging me on and giving me the strength to love myself and have compassion on my fellow people. God calls us to forgive and to love, and he promises to walk with us when we are devastated by loss.

But sometimes when my heart is heavy I just need to cry and let the feelings flow. The song I shared last month still fits here. It lets me cry and feel, yet trust my Savior. My attempts at recording the song have not been successful yet, but here are the words again:

I will sing to the Lord, sing though my heart is aching, sing alleluia to my Lord.
With my heart I will sing, sing though my heart is grieving; have mercy on me, O Lord.

I will trust in the Lord, with all my heart, my soul, my mind, I will trust in you.
I will choose to rejoice, regardless of the circumstances I’ll trust in you.

Singing alleluia! Praise the name of Jesus, alleluia, amen.
Singing alleluia! Praise the name of Jesus, alleluia, amen.

Isn't It?

Water,
    we take it for granted,
    we turn on the tap,
    we let the water run,
    we can do what we want,
        it's ours
             isn't it?
What if...
    the snow didn't come?
    the spring rains failed to come?
    the river ran dry?
    we used up the aquifer?
What if...
    it didn't rain because we cut down the trees?
    the prairie became a dessert for lack of rainfall?
    fires burned up the forests because everything was so dry?
What if...
    we used up our water to irrigate water needy plants in hot, dry locations, where water quickly evaporates?
    we used it up to make endless amounts of things in factories from computers to make-up?
    we used it to push up the oil out of the oil sands, creating sledge that can kill birds?
It doesn't matter...
    it's ours
        isn't it?
Or is it?

Painting: Scarred Lands, Scarred hearts

I am Loved

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.

Painting: Living Water

echoI give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1Cor. 1:4-9)

This passage describes people living fully as they wait for Jesus to come again and “to be revealed.” How much do I really even think about Jesus’ coming again? Do you? Jesus hasn’t come back for 2000 years. Would he really come back in our lifetime? But it isn’t so much about when, as it is about the anticipation, isn’t it? In the Old Testament, they were waiting for the messiah to come, “waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.” In Hebrews 11, it talks about how people like Able, Moses, Abraham, Rahab, the judges and prophets and countless others lived by faith in the promise. (verse 39-40) “Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.”
What does that mean to be waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God?

If Jesus were born today, would we be among those waiting with eager longing, like those who did not miss his birth (Mary and Joseph, the shepherds who listened to the good news of the angels, the wise men who followed a star, Ana and Simeon waiting in the temple). They didn’t miss out when God did the unexpected: coming as a vulnerable baby, born in the poverty of a stable, not in safety (Shortly after his birth, Mary and Joseph were forced to flee for their lives with their new baby).

Is waiting for the promise, then, an anticipation in God to do the unexpected? Is it a willingness to go wherever he is leading us, even if it seems unsafe, uncomfortable or unfair?
Am I willing to be like Mary and the others, willing to go with whatever God puts before me? He will never leave me nor forsake me. Can I walk forward into that promise? Where is He going to take us this year?

On Dec 3, I went to a follow up appointment for the surgery I had had in September on a cyst on my back. I was concerned about a second cyst on my arm. This second cyst had started bothering me two days earlier, and felt similar to the first before it was removed. I showed my doctor and it needed to be dealt with. He got me into an MRI that day and scheduled surgery for the weekend. By Sunday, the day of surgery, the cyst was looking awful--angry, red and ready to burst..

I am thankful for God’s hand in the timing of this, even if it set back our work and other things I wanted to get accomplished before Christmas. Again, I had to let go and practice what I shared with you in the last two newsletters. This has been an opportunity to be still, to rest and reflect, and spend time with our family and to be thankful for God’s unexpected provision.

I pray for you as we finish this Christmas season and in the New Year. May Jesus come in unexpected ways to show you His love and grace.

Happy New Year.

Painting: Waiting for the Promise

Plitvice Lakes


My husband , Sam, and I celebrated our 25th anniversary year with a three week trip to Europe in May. As we looked for places to visit there, I got a big “dreaming” book of pictures of places around the world. In it were many beautiful possibilities in Europe, but one stood out to me from all the rest, Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. It described it as 16 lakes with waterfalls cascading from one to the next and boardwalks through the park. I wanted to go and see this park, and paint it.  As many of you know I have done a couple of series on water, Living Water and Beauty of the Coast. I love painting water. But with the longing and intrigued sense I was feeling I wondered what else God was going to show me there. I waited in anticipation.

We arrived at the park about 10am, as did a lot of other people and tour groups. It  is a huge park – and there were several route options, with boats and buses, and trails/board walks. We chose one and began walking. Already it was beautiful. I did a quick sketch and already saw that it would be challenging with all the people on the path to paint or sketch for any length of time.

boardwalk at Plitvice LakesThe view that we saw as we headed down into the valley was spectacular. The turquoise green of the lakes was stunning and the first waterfalls were varied and  amazing. We hiked all the way down to the lakes and the board walks. .....The boardwalk went right over the top of the lakes and waterfalls. My soul was filled with delight as we walked among the waterfalls. They were surrounding us, under us, loud, rushing water and I began to sing quietly (not that anyone could have heard me over the roar of all that rushing water.):
“Living Water fill my Thirsty Soul, Holy Spirit, Come, Bread of life fill my aching need,  holy Spirit Come, for I am nothing without your love, bring new life in me, then will  me life bring  glory unto thee, Holy Spirit come.”

sketching, perched on a wallWe took the stairs up the cliff on the other side of the ravine, where there was a lookout over the tallest waterfall in the park. The lookout had a stone wall which I perched on to be out of the way while I painted a watercolor sketch of the falls.sketch of Veliki Slap(big waterfall)

Plitvice Lakes, CroatiaLater we took a boat ride across a lake to the next set of trails. After a picnic lunch, we took a bus to the end of the trails so that we could walk back. It was as I walked and sketched along this stretch where the water was everywhere – running through the groves of trees, under the boardwalk, falling beside us that I was overwhelmed with the sense of saturation. saturationAnd that is what God desires – to saturate me with his Spirit, his presence in my life. Not the trickling I allow him in but a complete washing, filling, spilling over and out of me to those around me. This is what I came all the way to Croatia to hear and understand through the metaphor of Plitvice Lakes. It was what God has been showing me over the years, but now I understand it at a new level.

Veliki Slap (Big Waterfall)
By this time there were less people in the park and we could sit and contemplate, write and paint without so many people around. We were enjoying it so much that we missed the last boat back and had to walk quickly around a big lake to get back to our car before dark. I haven’t walked that fast for an hour or so in a long time. It is nice to know I can.
It had been a great day.
Krka Lakes National Park
We spent our last day in Croatia at Krka National Park which is another park of lakes and waterfalls further south in Croatia. It was just as beautiful and it was even more “saturated” with water, re-emphasizing to me my need for the saturation of the Holy Spirit, the Living Water.

 

 

Eagles in Tree

I love watching birds in flight. The beautiful, majestic bald eagle soars high riding the wind, then dives down toward the water to catch a fish. This is the time of year that people start watching for eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay on Lake Coeur d'Alene, mid November to end of January, with the peak between Christmas and New Years. Last year peaked 217 eagles were counted on December 30 at Wolf Lodge Bay. The eagles come to feed on the kokanee salmon. Several birds can be spotted on the same trees. How many do you see in the photo here? I count 5.

Isaiah wrote: "but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not be faint."

The closest I come to flying is in an airplane. I recently took a trip to Colorado and on one of the flights we experienced a lot of turbulence (more than I remember ever experiencing before). I will admit that a plane dropping what feels like 2-3 feet suddenly and shifting and swaying makes me extremely nervous, terrified. I have an active imagination that can picture way too many scenarios. I realized that I could panic or I could trust the pilot, who had probably flown through plenty of turbulence, and pray. So I closed my eyes and relaxed. I allowed myself to ride the waves of air. It was like a rollercoaster up, down, toss to the right, now the left, drop and up again...It was not nearly so bad as I thought it would be.

And as I sat through it and relaxed into it, I began to think about my fears. How many of my fears are based on being out of control? How much do I not enjoy the things that put me in that position, like down hill skiing, roller coasters, huge water slides. Yet as an artist, very little of an art business is really under my control. I cannot predict what will sell or touch someone's heart. I cannot know which classes people will want to take. Oh I try and I stress myself out over it all.

Can I learn to ride the wind with my Lord?

Soaring with the wind like a bird on the wing
Can I learn to let go, close my eyes and trust
Ride the waves of air
Up and down, sideways, up
Trusting He will not let me fall
Let go and just ride
When relaxed it is not nearly so bad
As I thought it would be
Could I learn to enjoy it?
Would that be going too far?
Let it go.
Trust.
Relax in His arms on the waves of the air
Trust and relax
Let it go, that control
Let it go

Painting: On Eagle's Wings

On Eagles' Wings, Watercolor

(Above) 7 in x 11 in

$180.00

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