Saturday, August 23, 2014

Naomi's Story - Blessed Assurance

I’ve never met anyone who acts like a child more than Naomi.  I know that sounds like a dig, but it really isn’t.  She is a child before her creator, God and just like a child, Naomi talks to God.  A lot.  It’s a side of her I’ve admired from the moment I met her.  She innocently and faithfully talks to God, just like a kid talks to their dad.  She is honest and real with HIM and it was during a challenging day that she began to pray openly with her child-like heart.  The conversation took place as she was driving in her car.   It was a dreary, overcast day, but now and then the sun would tease and peek through the gray sky.

Naomi is in transition.  She is planning to move to Texas and wonders about the move.  Specifically, she wonders about God and asks questions.  Where was HE in this leg of her journey?  She had been seeking HIS reassurance, but she wasn't hearing that still small voice she was familiar with.  So, she decided to pray that day while in her car.  She wanted God at the center of everything and told HIM so.  Could he please just show himself to her?  Just a word, anything.   Suddenly, in that moment, the sun came out.  It wasn’t an ordinary appearance, though.  It seemed to permeate her car as well as her heart.  It went right into her soul.  She completely felt HIS presence and it was an obvious answer to her childlike pleas. 

The sun looked soft and sweet, and it disappeared back into the clouds almost like a drape being slowly drawn away.  It left behind, though, feelings and emotions almost too deep to put into words.  She felt overwhelmed.  It was clear God's Spirit was present with her.  She felt HIS peace, joy, and love in her body.  At that moment, she wished she could somehow capture the memory forever.

The following morning, after her quiet time, she reflected on the experience and decided to call me.   She shared what happened to her and also told me how the song, Blessed Assurance ran through her head as a result of her experience.  She asked if there might be a way to express her experience through my art.  This is my interpretation of Naomi’s experience, which I call, Blessed Assurance.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tony's Story

Lung cancer.  That was Tony’s diagnosis.  For Tony, this was just one small story on his journey.  He has many stories that reveal God’s faithfulness in ways impossible to explain on a human or earthly level.  On this leg of his journey, the lung cancer was just a minor detail.

Tony already took action by placing his trust in God’s hands.  He had faithful believers holding him up in prayer and from one unlikely circumstance to another, the way was made for Tony to receive treatment for his cancer at Mayo Clinic.  That in itself was not too extraordinary.  What was extraordinary was how the timing of his treatment hurdled over the usual timeline for cases like his.

Through this “unusual” timing, Tony was able to receive attention and care for his cancer.  Part of his treatment was a special type of radiation that made him feel quite afraid.   Even though there were doctors in the room, he felt alone.   As he lay still in the machine that would administer his treatment, he told the Lord how afraid he actually was.

He turned his head and clearly present with him at that moment, was Jesus.  The assurance he felt right then was overwhelming.  What added to that sense of assurance were the hundreds of faces he saw behind Jesus.  Tony remembered how many prayer lists he was on, and the faces were a vision of all those praying for him.  He was truly covered in prayer.

Joshua 1:9 is the scripture that Tony thought of that expressed his faith through this situation.

“…The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go…”

This is my interpretation of Tony's vision, created through mixed media collage...

Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm a piece of work. Artwork that is!

 “God is not a technician.  God is an Artist.   
This is the God who made you.   
The same God who lives inside you.   
He comes into us, then comes out of us, in a million little ways.”  
 Emily Freeman "A Million Little Ways"

For me, one of the little ways is through collage.  In my class this weekend, I listened, tried to retain (big challenge for this messy mind of mine) and then apply.  One thing was certain, when I thought too much about what I wanted to create, I became stuck.  I had to stop and release that urge to strive.  Strive for what?  Perfection, inability to commit?  A little of both.  

Thankfully, I caught myself and decided to just go for it and slap a piece of collage paper on my canvas.  That wasn’t so bad.  Now I was able to exhale.  Once I did that, my heart was stirred and I was able to move forward with anticipation.  What a process!  It sounds painful, but really it is growth, which is good.  

We worked with old papers, pieces of boxes and books, etc..  Who knew how many layers were in the walls of a book or box top?  It’s interesting what you find when you pull those layers apart.  

There are some lovely textures, colors and papers inside the hard exteriors of those pages.  But you had to dig a little and look beyond.  Just like us.  The layers of our lives may be hard and rigid, but pull them back and look out.  A thing of beauty appears.  The broken is re-purposed and made into something new and lovely.  It’s the story of our lives.  

My art journey has been more than just learning about an art form and techniques.  It’s been about trusting God as I walk fully in who he created me to be.  It’s been about me owning that I am an artist, embracing His truth in me.   After all, he made me.  He is the one that moves me from a place of striving, and instead to live from the stirring His spirit makes to flutter in my heart.  What a difference.  He pulls back the exterior and exposes what is inside.  The good and bad.

God begins to restore us the minute we are born.  He is always looking to gently pull back the   hard exterior of our lives to expose the parts that can be revealed to reflect His work in us.  We are the ultimate collage that he is creating.

And the exhale continues.

                         Discovery                           Recovery

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:19

With You
My heart is set
for a new journey
But only with you 
Where shall I find you? 
The journey is beginning
& I travel with wonder
and wait for my heart
to be filled
To be filled with more
of you 
Holy Spirit, I seek a place
of joy and peace
             - Re Kielar

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lipstick and a prayer

Winter is being stubborn.  Just a few weeks ago, spring teased us and we were happy and hooked.   On this one particular day, driving in to work, I said a few simple prayers, and decided to push back the cold with some color.

I’m not usually one to splash on lipstick, but out came a tube from my purse.  It was practically new because most of the time, the color sticks to my teeth rather than my lips.  There must be a video on how to apply it properly, don’t you think?  I’m not a loyal user, but this dreary morning, it was my secret weapon.  I needed a lift.

So when I walked into the office, I didn’t say good morning.  Instead, I said, “Get your lipstick on, girls!”  We had a good laugh as we complained about the cold and wondered how much longer we’d be tortured by the cold.  We needed to inject some color into the day.  It was a great way to battle the weather.

Do you ever get up with awareness that there’s a remnant of "winter" trying to sneak in your day?  And you know you want to, need to, have to, push back the cold trying to creep in?  It’s funny how much we are influenced by things that revolve around our own planets.  I try to live my life as other oriented, but sadly, much of the time I am much too aware of ME. My thoughts.  My feelings.  I fight to get outside myself, but sometimes, “stuff” takes over my thoughts.  Thoughts that act like a stubborn winter.

So my morning drive is now a time to inject some color in those hidden places in my mind. Thankfully, God helps me with that.  So, there are mornings that begin with lipstick and a prayer.  I just have to remember that the color comes from the Lord.  He colors my day, my thoughts, and my life. God is solid and offers strength for each day. So unlike lipstick that promises to last all day, God is truly solid and his word imparts "colorful" truth to my thoughts.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What I learned in March

Another day of snow.  The amount we'd been getting was absurd.  But this one particular day, there was an amazing snowfall.  Even though I really, really wanted to complain, I just couldn't.  It was way to beautiful.  As I drove to work, I looked at the trees along my route.  Each covered perfectly with a velvety ribbon of white.  Just amazing.  How could I possibly complain?  So as I drove, I took it all in.  Any other day, maybe the snow would not have received such a welcome, but this day, it did.  I decided to celebrate instead of complain.  So what happened?  Well, my disposition changed.  Since then, I focused on a simple prayer.  Lord, change me.  Three little words.  Because when it comes down to it, the driver for my mood is my attitude, my perspective, my thinking...all of it.  Learning and saying these three little words was a huge graduation for me.  It gave me a sense of peace and relief.  That is, until I learned a new way to pray just last week.  During a small-group study, I grasped the simple notion that God isn't in the business of changing me, He is in the business of redeeming me.  Daily.  Minute by minute.  Wow!  He wants to see a better version of me come into reality.  A truer version of me.  A version of me that He sees.  That He created.  So, my prayer changed to a new three word prayer.  Now I say, Lord, grow me.  I love that, and how appropriate as we enter the supreme season of growth all around us.  Lord, grow us!!

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:15-16