I pray that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-20)
When I was studying Ephesians, a few years ago, this prayer stood out. I have long yearned to be able to comprehend, really comprehend, God’s love for me in my inmost being, and I yearned to be filled with all the fullness of God. Around 2001, I started a year of praying this prayer over myself and my family. I changed the pronouns to make the prayer personal.
What got me started on this today was thinking of praying this over Reena, our daughter who is in South Korea for a year. This is how I would do it. And if you are reading this, please pray this with me, for her:
I pray that according to the riches of Your glory, LORD, that You may grant that Reena may be strengthened in her inner being with power through Your Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in her heart through faith as she is being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that Reena may have the power to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that she may be filled with all the fullness of God.
As things go with me there was a season of praying every day but as time passed, I prayed less often until I was doing something else entirely and had virtually forgotten about it. It was a few years later when I was writing about the Living Water Series that I realized my prayers had been answered and were still being answered. I can look back now and see how God was working in me:
Back then, I had a feeling that I needed to do more in the Living Water Series but I wasn’t quite sure how or what to do. So I took a weekend at King’s Fold Retreat Centre to listen to God – to see what else I was meant to do for it, what I was missing. I read through all of the scriptures and my notes again. Then I went out to walk the labyrinth. The labyrinth is a prayer walk which allows you to focus on God while you pray and listen to him. As I walked, I asked God what else and He answered, “You need to let the passion out.” I responded, “I’m scared.” He answered by giving me a picture. The picture was of Him holding my hand like a child holds the hand of their father.
I hurried back to my room and started writing. I had never felt anything so amazing before and words just started pouring out onto the paper. From this outpour of those words came four poems and the ideas for the last paintings for the Living Water series.
As I look back on it now, I can see how God was filling me up and pouring through me. It was beautiful and I yearned for more of it. I have always wanted to experience that again, in the exact same way, but as I look back on it now, I can see God doesn’t tend to repeat encounters exactly. He is unpredictable in how he lavishes us with his love. He is full of surprises and the evidence is all around us if we would just open up our eyes and our hearts to him.
It makes me wonder how often do I block him by not “letting the passion out” and by not holding his hand? I have written several times of my need to let go and trust. It does seem to be a daily battle. God doesn’t want to just trickle his Living Water through me, He wants to saturate me, if I will let him.
This leads me to the idea of saturation. God wants to saturate us, fill us up to over flowing, to spill over with that love to the world around us.
One of the last paintings I did for the Living Water Series: Out of the Believer’s Heart, was based on John 7:37-38 and Ezekiel 47. In Ezekiel 47, the water flows out of the temple and brings life to the world. We are the temple for the Holy Spirit. He flows through us and out into the world.
In 2013, I went all the way across the world to Croatia to see the Plitvice Lakes National Park, just to hear God sing to me through the waterfalls just how much he wants to saturate me.
More on the theme of Saturation:
I am Loved poem - one of the 4 poems I mention above
Blessing Cup painting - I painted over a ten year period, 1994-2004. After the Living Water Series was complete, I realized that God had been showing this theme of Saturation early on with this painting.
"Clip,clop. Clip,clop." Imagine our surprise as this buck came around the corner...
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 New International Version (NIV)
Last week, Sam and I took some time with our daughter, Reena. We went to a vacation rental on Herron Island in the Puget Sound. We also met up with our son, his wife, our grandbaby, my parents and my sister. What a fun island to explore and a wonderful place to enjoy each other’s company! There were a lot of deer on the island that were not afraid of people. I still can't believe a buck came up on the deck and tried to join us for dinner! I even got in a little plein air painting on the two beaches. It was a time to celebrate together!
After our visit, we went our separate ways. Sam and my way was to take Reena to the airport (at 3 am) where she was off on an adventure to South Korea. She will be attending school there, grade 11, for a year. She begins school on Monday, August 22.
It is strange to not have her at home, this is a new season for us with our youngest gone. Our other daughter is still at home, but she is independent with her own vehicle and job that keeps her busy. I miss Reena, but I am excited for her too. It is kind of bittersweet.
With all of these changes, it is good to remember, as Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 describes, there is a season for everything. This isn’t forever and something else will change. As I learn to walk in the present moment, I can take things as they come, not worrying about the future or agonizing over the past.
The following poem and painting I did when our oldest son, Thaddeus, was in Capernwray Bible School in England. It seems fitting with our youngest so far away in South Korea.
New things come, old things pass.
It is hard to let go.
It is hard to say good-bye to what was,
Treasured moments; the good, the bad
letting go is part of living.
It is part of loving.
There will be new beginnings;
Such is the circle or spiral we live in.
We cannot hold on to the present.
It must fly
And the empty nest
is the memory we have left.
Oh how abundant is your goodness
That you have laid up for those who fear you,
And accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
In the site of everyone.
It has been about a year and a half since I changed my website and art business from SheDrewIt Design to Julie Drew -Art and Faith. I did this after talking with a business coach who encouraged me to speak out my story, who I am. If I want to be about art and faith – then say so. I debuted with it last year at the art walk and at times it felt awkward. It is a bit like the verse above – proclaiming my faith in the site of everyone.
This year at the art walk I noticed the difference in myself. I was more confidant as I talked to people about the scripture behind the paintings. Several times over the weekend I heard the sighs and the comments of the peace people felt when they came into my tent and viewed my art. I had people actually come back to me again over the course of the three days.
I felt privileged to be a part of whatever God was stirring up in them. I had random people come up and thank me for being so bold. I had a lot of interesting conversations that would not have happened if I hadn’t hung it on my tent for all the world to see. I am thankful to be able to share myself more freely, to be myself.
A few weeks ago, I had a call from the person at the Whyte Ave Wellness centre who is arranging paintings for display. She loves my work and has one of my paintings. She promoted me to the owner by showing him my website and the Alberta landscape paintings that I would be showing. Proclaiming my faith on my business card almost lost me the chance to show at this space, until the owner was shown my artwork. He loves it! His eyes danced with appreciation when it was all displayed. Yeah!
So if you are in the Bonnie Doon area, pop into the Whyte Avenue Wellness Centre. In the lobby, I have 11 paintings of Alberta, which will hang there until the end of December. (We go there regularly for massage, which I recommend.)
How do you put your faith in the site of everyone?
Good news!!- The show has been liked so much it is has been extended into January, 2017.
I am excited to announce that 11 paintings in the Alberta Landscapes Series will be on display in the reception area of the Whyte Avenue Chiropractic & Wellness Centre through (originally Dec 2016) January.
The Centre is located: 8923 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB.
One of the things I like to do in the summertime is to go out sketching and painting “en plein air.”
En plein air (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃ plɛn ɛːʁ]), or plein air painting, is a phrase borrowed from the French equivalent meaning "open (in full) air". It is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, also called French: peinture sur le motif ("painting of the object(s) or what the eye actually sees"), where a painter reproduces the actual visual conditions seen at the time of the painting. This method contrasts with studio painting or academic rules; those might create a predetermined look. (Wikipedia)
It is different to paint from life than just using photos. Photos tend to flatten the image. When I hike, I take a camera and at least a small sketchbook, much to my family’s chagrin. (I had to learn to sketch quickly and take photos on the go, but I seem to be perpetually lagging behind. After all I had an agenda – capture as many ideas/ photo references as possible.)
Even so, it is nice to be with people who don’t mind sitting still for a bit. I have a friend who invited me to Kananaskis Country several times. 3- 5 days of hiking and painting and relaxing with no one waiting for me to get done. On these occasions, I would pack up a backpack full of supplies and carry them the distance and come home with a mostly finished painting.
When hiking, I want to get a great picture or idea – and capture it. I would come home with hundreds of photos (with digital photography it is thousands of photo references!) and a few sketches for the depth perception. From these, I start planning paintings. I sometimes go on a hike with a specific idea for which I am seeking sketches and photo references.
I enjoy taking the time to sketch, but it isn’t just the need to paint what I see that draws me to the outdoors. I have learned that sometimes it is nice to even just sit and absorb the beauty without trying to draw it. It feel’s a bit like I’m “drinking” in God’s creation. There are so many metaphors in creation that lead back to God. In the stillness of just being present, as I sit and listen and wait in quiet, I can hear and see the metaphors and things that God is whispering to me.
For God alone my soul waits in silence… Psalm 62
It has been a long journey, this learning to wait, to enjoy moments, not to be rushing on to the next thing to do or paint. For me, it is a process of letting go of agendas, of accomplishment, and of worrying about making the people around me happy with me. At times, I fall back into the old patterns, but I am learning to recognize this in myself. On a hike I don’t take quite so many photos, and I sit and absorb as much as I sit and draw/paint.
A couple of years ago, my husband, Sam, and I took a trip to Europe. Since we were flying, I had to find compact art supplies that I could take on the plane. Traveling light. Now it is my art/camera travel bag for wherever I am going – hiking, road trip etc. I can even pair that down to a smaller size and take just the essentials.
This Saturday morning (July 23), I will be teaching en plein air on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in Devon. I will be teaching sketching as well as painting: how to capture what is before us; what to paint, what to leave out; and eye training. There is still room in the workshop, if you would like to come.
Are you curious about what is in my art-camera bag?
When I read the old testament – particularly the prophets I see this God with an achingly Big Heart yearning for his people to “turn to him and live” (Amos 5). God doesn’t ‘need us,’ but he does long for a relationship with us. He went so far as to die for us.
I was thinking of this as I read Psalm 13:1 – “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Does God ever wonder that about me? The following “conversation” is the result of that wondering…
How long, my daughter, will you turn away from Me and go your own way?
When will you trust Me with all of yourself?
Don’t you know how much I long to hold you as I walk with you?
I am right here next to you; don’t you see me? Can’t you feel my presence?
When will you let Me lift the burden from your shoulders?
Let me enfold you in My embrace. I have loved you since before you were born. I knit you together in your mother’s womb. I know your past, I know your present and I know your future.
Won’t you let go and trust me?
Oh my Lord and Father, I want to trust you, I do. I just don't know how to let go. Why do I keep wanting to take control?
Oh my child, it is fear that keeps you from trusting me. In order to trust me you need to let go of your fear. You hold onto it like armor, yet it is full of holes and lies. Your fear and your ego tell you that only you can solve or achieve what is before you. This is not true. Open your eyes to My truth, I am the way, I am your life. Walk with me. Let me show you who you really are, whom I made you to be.
I am afraid, Lord.
I know. That is the point, my child. Let me hold your hand. We will do this together. Trust Me.
How many times have you done this, Lord, given me the courage to walk into your trust, holding your hand? Too many to count. Yet I have to be reminded to trust each time. Oh how stubborn I can be. How do you have patience for me?
Oh my child, I am patient because I love you and I delight in in you. You are mine and I will hold you fast.
Take my hand.
I invite you to the breathtaking beauty of the coast with its awe inspiring coast with its cliffs and expanses of ocean from the mists to the sunshine. I enjoy painting the details of the animal life and the wonder of the tide pools. I worked mostly in watercolor, but for some of the paintings I used my handmde paper to capture the texture and feel of the scene.
I have scheduled two days to go and do painting demonstrations there and answer and answer any questions people have of my art. Come Join me - I would welcome your visit!
I am looking forward to another Art Walk on Whyte Avenue. I will be joining the 450 artists who will also be showing and selling their art work. The variety of artists is amazing to see.
I will be on the closed off portion of 105 St again between 82 Ave and 83 Ave with my tan gazebo tent. I plan on painting again - so stop by and watch a demo!
Steadfast, immovable, rock solid, secure, my refuge. This is my God. Now put this together with the mountains playing hide and seek in the clouds and mist. Those mountains are still there, whether I can see them or not, just like God. Steadfast, immovable, rock solid, secure, my refuge. This image of “Steadfast” is one of the metaphors God showed me when I was working on my God is My Refuge series about ten or so years ago.
Whenever I see the mountains this way I am reminded of this metaphor of who God is and where I can run to when my soul and heart ache and when I am at peace and filled with joy and contentment. The state of peace and contentment was what I felt as we drove through the mountains on our way home from Kimberly, BC and our May long weekend holiday, taking scads of photos of the mountains playing hide-n-seek in the clouds.
I don’t have to be in distress to run to God. (Read an excerpt of my God is My Refuge devotional book on this chapter here.)
He wants to just “be” with me, to fill me up to overflowing with his love and presence. I don’t have to wait until I am so stressed and upset that I run dragging myself to his presence. In fact, he isn’t so far away. I am learning to find contentment in just "being" with God, but it isn't easy. I get caught up in productivity, and my long list of "to do's."
(This "being" is for me a new perspective, just like The Three Sisters Mountain photo to the right here is - Three Sisters mountain in Banff different angle of the same mountain in the painting above.) Are the clouds just my own busyness, my own distractions, my own fears and doubts that keep me from seeing His steadfast presence right here and right now? With me?
What clouds are obstructing your view of God and his rock solid presence in your life?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
The fluff of the poplar trees is starting to fly like snow. So on Saturday evening, I went for a walk in the ravine to see if it could be collected yet. There was one section up on the hillside above the path that was covered in 1 – 4 inches of poplar fluff seeds. Beautiful. Peaceful.
Now you might wonder why I am collecting it. You see, one of my favorite papers (see the image of poplar/ red denim paper on the left) to create has poplar in it. Therefore, every year I watch for the opening of the poplar seed pods. Some years it falls in thick banks of fluffy “snow” that I can scoop up the top layer and avoid the dirt and debris below it – like this year. Some years the window of time between rain storms doesn’t allow the fluff to fly much. Sometimes we get a heavy frost and the pods fall to the ground before opening. On those years I have collected the unopened pods and hope they open up in a paper sack, which sometimes works.
It has been so dry this year I was wondering if the pods had enough moisture to grow. Some did, some shriveled up on the branches. Collecting the fluffy "snow" has its own challenges. I had to remember how I had done it before. The first handful is fine. The second handful goes in and the previous handful wants to fly free of the bag again. So if you were watching me, you would have seen as much fly out of the bag as I managed to put in, until I remembered to start squeezing the fluff together in my hands, giving it more substance and weight. The fluff itself has some oils in it, which I could feel as I squeezed it together.
This is all a part of the process of creating for me. I love the walks in the woods to find the fluff with which I make paper. It is peaceful. There are certain times of year I collect each one and a part of me is watching and waiting for it. I watch and observe the signs. This is the season for the fluff and I would have missed it if I was going by the calendar. It is usually not out until June.
Over the summer, I take note of where the fireweed is blooming, so that I can collect it late August or September when the seed pods are beginning to open. Likewise, I know where the long thistles and the short thistles grow, where to collect some cattails, and "Old Man`s Beard."
I am always on the lookout for other "fluffy" plants when I am out walking. When I see one, a curiosity rises in me to wonder what kind of paper it would make. And I think of the possibilities of what I could paint on that paper. I also think of a painting idea and go gather what I need to create the paper I want to work on. (I did that for this painting, Out of the Believer's Heart - I had to make a lot of onion skin paper for the dry land portion.)
When I was a young mom, I came across, or was given, a devotional book with a title something like "The Raspberry Kingdom." The author used the arduous task of picking wild raspberries as a metaphor for her own walk and relationship with God. I resonated with her. It gave me words for what I felt when I would go collect the wild logan berries (blackberries) along the trails in Eugene Oregon or the fruit in the wild, old orchard on Beacon hill in Spokane. And I think about it now as I collect various seeds for papermaking.
It is an arduous task, sometimes full of thorns and uneven ground. It takes energy and time, but the reward is great. Is it worth the reward? For me, it is like working and walking hand in hand with God the Creator. He shows me little metaphors – of the trials and tribulation on a small scale with a reward puts in perspective the larger scale of life. I think about the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, (Matt 6) and God the Father who cares for them, and who also cares for me. I find peace and quiet when I walk the trails. I talk with God about whatever is on my heart, and I listen. It is a place and time - that is about just learning to "be," to live in the moment.
I feel a deep satisfaction, when I make the paper from the gathered seeds; when I try out a new seed paper; And when I take it further and begin to create a painting from the paper I created. It is all a part of the process of making paper.
I also look forward to sharing the findings with those who come to make paper with me. I think it is interesting and probably speaks to our culture when a student asks where I was able to purchase the fluff I had collected. Have we spent too much time apart from nature and God’s natural kingdom, his creation?
I challenge you to go for a walk in the woods, or natural setting near you this week. Look around. See what treasures you can find in God’s creation and listen for the metaphors God reveals around you. Then tell me about it. I’d like to hear your story.
“Crack! Thud!” …. Silence … murmuring voices… “Julie!”
It was late, I had been drifting off to sleep. I wondered what Reena (my 15 year old daughter) and Sam were doing working on the basement reno so late.
Sam was in the living room figuring out his new phone and ignored the noises – thinking it was Reena doing something.
It actually was Reena, but she wasn’t working on the reno. She had opened the freezer to get something and was almost hit by the ice falling off the lid.
Talia (our other daughter) slept through it all.
On Saturday morning, Sam was scraping the popcorn stuff off the ceiling of the basement where we are renovating. He moved the freezer out of the way to do it. We took Reena to her dance class and left from there for Calgary to see our granddaughter for a 24-hour visit.
Monday and Tuesdays were normal busy days. No one worked on the basement. No one needed anything from the freezer.
Late Tuesday night (11:30 pm or so) Reena opened the large chest freezer, came to get her dad – and then Sam called my name. As I came downstairs, after dragging myself awake, I was greeted with, “I broke the freezer.” Something had happened when Sam moved it on Saturday, and it had been off for over 3 days.
My first thought was of how much food was in it, particularly the whole lamb I had recently purchased from the farmer’s market. In the past when confronted with this sort of dilemma, I would panic or accuse, or any number of reactions.
Instead of reacting, I chose to live in the moment and be present to the now, not the what if or what was. I felt calm as I checked out the situation in the freezer. Surprisingly most of it was still quite frozen. (I do keep a lot of turkey broth like ice whiich must have helped.) I then went to assess the freezer upstairs to see what room we might have up there to rescue what was still frozen in the chest freezer. Especially if it was truly broken, as it was midnight and we couldn’t go buy a new one.
While I started moving and shifting the food, Sam looked at the problem of the pulled out wires to see if he could figure it out.
It was not what I wanted to do. It was not what Sam wanted to do, but it was here before us and needed to be done.
By the time I had made room and moved all the (still mostly solid) frozen meat and some not so frozen fruit upstairs, (If stacked neatly it is amazing how much you can get into the little freezer above the fridge.) Sam had used a blower to clean out the dust, and discovered a wire had been dislodged but not broken. He had located a possible place for it to go back in, which was, of course, difficult to get to. We managed to do it between the two of us – and plugged the freezer in and IT ACTUALLY RUMBLED BACK ON! Weren’t we surprised!
Okay. Now what. The thought came to me that those big ice chunks that were now loose could be taken out – an opportunity to clean out the years of built up ice or we could just leave it and I could go back to bed. I opened the freezer – and decided to act on the thought. So we worked together and got it done, and moved back downstairs a portion of the food I had taken upstairs. By the time we were done the whole little midnight adventure had only taken about an hour or so, and I felt a deep satisfaction and thankfulness.
And we thanked God: for Reena paying attention to what she was feeling as she went into the freezer and acting on it, for a good solid freezer that can keep food so cold for 4 days, that it now worked again, and that we were able to be present to the situation and do what needed to be done.
We were talking earlier that evening at our home group about what it looks like to walk everyday with Jesus. We talked about the need to listen to the nudging’s of the Holy Spirit, to live in the present moment as we work out our calling in some of the most ordinary, mundane parts of life.
It could have been a very different experience if we had reacted differently.
Is it all just a matter of perspective? Any thoughts?
Spring is definitely here. I love watching the progress of the buds on the trees – The greening of the world as it comes back to life after winter. The poplar trees have all popped out their pussy tufts, which have elongated into the long fronds of silvery green and red buds. Just like in the painting, "Is it Spring Yet?" above. My tulips are getting their buds. And my eyes are burning today. Lately I have been ending the day with sore, dry, burning eyes. Today I am beginning it. It does not bode well for the day. Yes, I must have allergies to this season, as I experience it every year about this time. It is funny that I forget about it until after a few days of feeling it, and then it dawns on me – “Oh right! Its spring and this will be the new norm for awhile.”
I read the first paragraph in James this morning… “Consider it nothing but joy” when you face trials of any kind. “…the testing of faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:1-4)
A good set of verses for me today. Now how to consider it nothing but joy? Well, I still love to watch the buds grow, even if it does affect me. I love the steady lengthening of days. And as I take care of my eyes this year, I can look forward to the rest the warm compresses force me to take. Maybe I can start there.
Anyone else feeling the sting of allergies?
I wanted to share with you the process of the painting. I have added some details below. I wrote in a previous blog the beginning thoughts on why I painted this. If you missed it, you can read those here in this article Wonders of the Sea.
On wet watercolor paper, I poured liquid watercolor: blue, green and pink and I sprinked salt and rock salt on whie it was still wet. I was playing with color and letting whatever came from it, set the stage for the painting.
This method of painting challenges me to let go and engage in the process.
After it dried, and the salt had finished it's work. I looked at it until I saw possibilities.
I put masking fluid on theparts I wanted to save from the first pouring, and poured another layer of liquid watercolors - blue, pink and green.
I painted a layer of yellows and orange, before adding more masking fluid to save more of the light colors.
I put masking fluid on theparts I wanted to save from the first pouring, and poured another layer of liquid watercolors - blue, pink and green.
Once it is dry, I can begin to remove the salt and masking fluid by rubbing with the rubber pick up.
Sometimes it can just pull right off. I am never sure exactly how it will turn out until it is all removed.
Now I can see all that I had "saved" in the lighter colors. Now to make sense of it all.
This is the stage of the "pushing and pulling" that I talk about in classes. A wet brush and an brush with paint. Often with small brushes so it takes time.
Still more to go to finish it up. Can you see the changes?
The sketch above is, Jade Evelyn, our first granddaughter. She was born on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 10:20pm and weighed 6 lbs, 8 oz. I had the privilege of helping the new little family out last week in Calgary. Our son, Thaddeus and Danielle, are doing well in their new roles, and it was such a joy to watch them adore little Jade.
I found myself quite able to just sit and be with Jade. Have you seen those tiny little hands and feet in a new born? I marveled at the wonder of Jade’s creation. She had so recently been “knit together in her mother’s womb” and indeed is “intricately and wonderfully made.” What I wrote and sang about Psalm 139 last time took on new meaning.
I, who like to do, had found myself quite content to just sit and be with this little one, this beautiful creation and gift from God. She doesn’t have to do anything. I already love her and like to be with her.
And as I sat and pondered all of this, it occurred to me that I am like this with God. He loves and cherishes me just as I am. I don’t have to do anything or achieve anything to receive that love. It isn’t conditional. He loves me just as I am.