In the Master’s Hand

I couldn’t wait to get there.

As I was driving the almost hour it took, I pondered why I was so looking forward to this particular morning with my friend. I recognized that it might be rational to dread it. You see, I was taking my two first acrylic paintings out to a stunningly accomplished artist for the purpose of asking her what I am doing wrong.

I smiled as I answered my own question. The reason this invited critique is so welcome to me is that I know this friend loves me and only has my best interest at heart.

Continuing my mental dialogue, I asked myself why I feel trepidation when I ask God to search my heart. Don’t I trust that he will only take away that which is not contributing to the Masterpiece He is making of me? Don’t I know that He will stir excitement as I begin to recognize that I have more potential than I realized?

My session with my friend, as she worked with me and my painting, had many “moments” that translate easily into reflections of that which God desires to do with my heart.

When I laid out my paintings before her, she smiled with interest and then asked, “How would you like me to help you today?”

I told her I would like to learn how to bring light on to the canvas. With the confidence of a master she said, “I can help you with that”.

The first steps took me in a direction I had not expected. There was no way I could see that what she was asking me to do would in anyway create the finished product I was seeking. But, I trusted her and followed every step as best as I could.

She watched me patiently, far enough away for me to feel like it was mine, but close enough to stand beside me when I turned my head toward her.

At times, she took my brush and said, “I’m going to shock you now!” as she lightly brushed blue or even yellow all over my background and then worked it in as though it belonged.

Why do I hesitate when God asks me to do something that I can’t imagine will lead me to where I want to go? Why do I resist letting Him take the brush and shock me with techniques that only make sense to me in hindsight?

As I left my friends studio, I recognized that I have much more to learn than I realized. Learning to paint will be a journey, not a class. Maybe God, too, is wanting me to remember that I am on a journey. I really don’t have many answers. In fact, I don’t even know the questions.

I am so grateful that I am learning to paint and that I have a Master teacher.

I am so grateful that I am learning to trust the One Who is crafting me into a Masterpiece for Him.

I can’t wait to present myself to Him today in prayer and ask Him to search my heart.

It’s easier today, because yesterday I was guided by “Jesus with skin on”.

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Marital Status

This morning I am pondering the question my adopted granddaughter asked me last night. “Besta, (Norwegian for Grandma) are you still married now that Virgil died?”

I hadn’t really thought about it. I answered, “I don’t think so.

Then, for the first time, I used the word “widow”. I said, “I guess I am a widow now”.

This grandchild immediately reacted with alarm, “That sounds sad and negative”.

Her words stirred a passion within me. I determined at that very moment that “No way will sad and negative be descriptive of who I am becoming.”

Among the plethora of new things that I am beginning to process, is the choosing of a new category when asked to designate marital status.

But, more importantly, how will I be perceived by this granddaughter that doesn’t miss anything as she watches my life.

I am grateful for her question. I am grateful for all her questions. They keep me cognizant that I am being watched.  My talk needs to be translated into my walk for me to be authentic in her eyes.

I look forward to disempowering any label that limits my new journey.

 

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Cookie Crumbs and Cat Hair

As I step into this new season, I wake up to quiet.

I no longer hear the rhythmic thud of my husband’s quad cane as he struggles to cross the kitchen floor. I no longer hear the ding of a spoon hitting the side of his bowl of grits.

The quiet invites me to release all that I have learned, over decades, of what grief does and allow grief to just be.

I smile as I see the cookie crumbs and cat hair on my couch.  My granddaughter came over last night and somehow nuzzled the cat, eaten her cookie and completed her homework all in the same space.

I’m glad that I don’t need for me or my furniture to be free of cookie crumbs and cat hair. I want both my couch and my heart to be places where children and kittens can be free to play.

May this new season be one where the child in me can take up more space.

Maybe I will add to the cookie crumbs and cat hair today.

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The Words I Needed to Hear

Thoughts intrude upon my mind with messages not of my own creation.

In the blur of the night following my husband’s death, these words woke me form my fitful sleep: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes”.

Before I could question or protest, the message repeated, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes”.

I knew the Sender was blocking all access to any suggestion that this event was caused by anything I did or did not do.

I knew these words were from scripture but needed to secure their address as Psalm 118:23.

My eyes then drifted down to verse 24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it’.

So, that is my plan for today!

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Maybe we Paint an Onion

“What would you like us to do today on your 92nd birthday?” This was my question yesterday to my husband.  His immediate response was “Maybe we should paint an onion.”

Given his dementia, I am usually not surprised by unexpected answers, but this one has caused me to ponder.

I shared this dialogue with my social worker friend and she, of course, asked, “How did that work for you?”

Again, I pondered. Is the idea of painting an onion just a reason to laugh at a nonsense idea or it is worth considering?

The phrase could be captured and used in the instances when life hands you something to which there is nothing to say or nothing to do. For example, if someone tells you the stock market just crashed you could say, “Maybe we should paint an onion.”

But what if we were to literally try it? I don’t know what medium you could possibly use, but there’s something appealing about messing up an art project and then simply removing that layer and finding a new layer inviting you to begin again. An onion could be a canvas that is very forgiving.

Reflecting on the decades of my life, I recognize God’s grace repeatedly pealing away that which has either simply served its purpose or proven to be a creative mess.

Isaiah gives us this insight into the ways of God. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

Maybe painting an onion is faith that the God who has been there pealing and providing in the past is my Art Teacher with tenure.

That’s it for now… I’ve got an onion that needs paint!!!

 

 

 

 

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Just this one relationship…

I doubt that there is anyone who has better friends or more friends than I do.  I am grateful to God and to my friends for the gift they are to me.

Yet, I find myself mourning the lack of family. I married late in life and do not have my own children. My husband now has dementia, which robs us of meaningful relationship.

This loss of not having a family becomes especially painful to me on holidays. It seems like everyone knows where they are going to spend the holiday and with whom. I always am invited somewhere, but it always feels like I am the added on one.

I have given you this background so that you have a context for what I want to say next.

My only nephew, who I do have a deep life- giving relationship with, lives in Houston. This week, he and his two step children, plus a cousin of these children, have visited this area and invaded my house as if it was their own.

On one of our days together I said, “I am so thankful to have this time with you because I don’t have a family.”

This cousin, who has just turned 15, seemed perplexed as he looked deep into my eyes and said, “You have a really big family.” He then went on to list the members of this extended Mexican family that was now claiming me as one of them.

My heart was stirred as my mind questioned. “What is the reason for him embracing me as family?”

Is it simply because my nephew married his aunt?

Is it just this one relationship that extends to me all the benefits of family?

How could this concept of family help us in the church?

What if we were to look deep into each other’s eyes and say that because you belong to Jesus, we belong to each other?

Just this one relationship…

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A Smile and a Receipt

(Please read yesterday’s post “I don’t feel like me” for context here.)

I woke up this morning to greet my new hair color and subsequently my new face in the mirror.

As I pondered and tried on different expressions, I found that when I smiled, the person looking back at me from the mirror was easier to accept. I forced myself to say, “Good Morning, you cute little brown thing!” and as I did. I couldn’t help but giggle.

I am determined to not mask this new me by returning to highlighted hair, but what I want to do is make a smile a standard component of who I am. Being a person who contemplates and reflects, this will take some practice. But I don’t think my propensity for contemplation and reflection needs to be done behind a somber face.

Instead of highlighting my hair, what if I embark on a mission to highlight my face with a smile? I like this thought.

And then there is the spiritual side, which is faithful to show up in every life transition, demanding a view from a higher plane.

Yesterday, just after I wrote “I don’t feel like me”, I returned to my Bible to finish the passage I had started earlier in the day. After just three verses I read, “Letyour true beauty come from your inner personality, not a focus on the external. For lasting beauty comes from a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is precious in God’s sight and is much more important than the outward adornment of elaborate hair, jewelry,[b] and fine clothes.” (from 1 Peter 3:4-5 TPT).

So more important to God that how I look in the mirror is that I have a gentle and peaceful spirit. He even turned the knife a little by specifically mentioning elaborate hair.

Maybe it’s time to receive what God has given me with thanksgiving. I have a beautiful head of brown hair that is consistent with a healthy body. He must think it’s appropriate for this next season of my life. I hope I don’t talk about it much anymore.

Instead, I want to put my energy into nurturing a gentle and peaceful spirit.

So, I put a smile on my face and with gratitude give God a receipt for what He has chosen to give me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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