Wednesday, November 13, 2019

One year or maybe two 🖌 this one is long

May God give you rest on all sides. May your good days outnumber your bad days. May your dreams speak louder than your fears. Where once you continually braced for impact, may you now live with holy expectancy knowing that God gives good gifts to His children.
Susie Larson
All Things New Big Daddy Weave

I started a new art project this year, this year was a long year for me but in the middle of everything,  I painted.  Caregiving for my ill mother for over 15 years, plus managing my own household and a job, the outlet came at a good time for me. Most of all, my previous artwork has been embroidery, folk art illustrations sketched in thread, but I picked up painting a few years ago as my mother's needs became more and more difficult.  A bit of compassion fatigue set in and my life was consumed with fighting insurance companies, constant doctor visits, and dealing with a much more combative situation in trying to meet all those needs, if anyone has been there you know.  I am running into more and more people with their stories about caregiving, so I included a little about my story and what was going on with me during this art project.

Either way, I express my world in pictures in a way my grandmother did in her artwork, and my other grandmother did as a folk artist in wood carving, a skill she didn't pick up until her eighties.  For me it's always been about the story.  My objective in this project is to just express the story.  The story of walking with the poor and how our lives collide, and how we learn from each other in life's difficulties.  While all our are paths are different in life, we can still learn from each other to grow and heal in a beautiful, deep, profound way, and be what God created us to be.  I collected a few thoughts along the path, mostly to remember God's faithfulness along the way.  Recording that at the same time as painting this art project can only be what I call miraculous!

This painting project post I added last years paintings of World Vision's work and I don't in any way claim to be an expert, but I'm more of a beginner; just a simple folk artist expressing the world around me. 


This time, I used the wonderful photography from World Vision's photographers.  With permission, I picked out some photos that I felt would tell a story of some of the kids I was working on getting sponsored.  I jumped in, full heartedly!  As a natural observer, I hoped to show that we are all the same, and Christ calls us to care and we are His love expressed to others.  In a unique way, we all have something to bring to the table. Time, talent, resources, your voice or even your pain, yes even our struggles. We can connect with a child a world away because we too have been shown kindness at a pivotal time in our own life, and the needs of that child in heaven are taken seriously, they are noticed, and all of heaven hears every cry.   


The Dream 
On February 17 2018
I had this dream,

I was doing some artwork and everything I was painting sold right away, and I had some interest in my work.  I also had a jar of pumpkin seeds from my last years garden, and I was giving away a few of them.  They were the Cinderella pumpkins that took over my tiny backyard last year.

(I really did save the seeds from that harvest)  

Then I saw a large canvas of a painting that had faces of children from many nations that filled the entire painting, and then another painting appeared and it was Jesus holding a child's hand.


Then I heard...


"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."


Matthew 19:14


 As I sit here and try to put everything together, I am amazed at God's faithfulness and some of it gave me chills and I'm grateful that I wrote them down, as scribbled as it was.  The joy and sorrow interweaving with my project and the lives around me could only be divine timing. Folk artists have a different way of seeing the world around them, much different than a realist.  We aim at making the complicated simple, simple symbols with simple language and I'll do my best to share that journey in the best way that I can.

  "Folk art enters a place, warms the colors, softens the edges, and plays in the yard. It is the tipping point, the key element transforming a house into a home".

Adora Myers"


 Light and easy, my brush was a soft place to land while meeting all the challenges of caregiving for my mother over the last several years.  The creative outlet of a new art project was a good outlet for me while I was caring for my very ill mother whose needs became increasingly overwhelming, and I was doing art shows that had kids living in poverty on picture folders that needed sponsorship, so I thought the paintings I would do would go well with that to use as displays to tell their stories.  The photos I used from the amazing photography work from World Vision were already beautiful and I tried to be as true to what the  photographers meant to show, and I was grateful to World Vision for allowing me to do that.  All the paintings themselves would be up for sale for the East African hunger crisis and are framed to tell a story as a whole, even though they were sold separately for charity.

It is not so unusual for me to try and challenge myself, but it didn't seem like a good time to do that with all that I had to deal with.  The last two years was especially hard for me as my mother was becoming increasingly combative and I was dealing with insurance companies, social workers and all kinds of doctors with not one medical problem, but many, and even with the part time caregivers, they were overwhelmed and weren't enough. Every hospital visit they would tell me "you need to do something" but her insurance would not cover any help, even for her basic needs.


My mother could not go home after the last hospital emergency and her care was at the highest level possible.  Her insurance would not cover her health costs anymore and I was looking at an almost $10,000 dollar bill every month.  A couple came in at work and told me "I feel like God wants me to tell you something".  I was concerned at first, I didn't need one more stressful thing.  "Your concern about your mother" he said, "God wants you to surrender her to him and that He is near, He is like a dove on your shoulder".  I was shocked but grateful that the couple came back and told me that.  Within the month after fighting the insurance agency for not paying her medical needs, my mother received a inheritance from my grandmother that paid entirely for her care, about $10,000 a month for about 4 months, every last cent.


This was a huge deal for me to let go, I have always been "the protector" as I thought.  I knew that God was helping me and that meant so much!  Compassion fatigue was a battle I was trying very hard not to get, but I was forced to continue to just press on, but I made sure she was in the best place that would give her the best care possible.  It was a miracle that the provision came at just the right time!  Any sooner or any later it would not of helped us with this but just at the right time.

In the beginning of the year 2019 I received the sweetest phone call of encouragement. I have many places here that have known the situation with my mom, a few of them have really felt bad for me for what I was going through with insurances and activating for the best for my mom. She is feeding herself, remembering things more and sitting in the dining room with a new friend named Neil. Two ladies in particular have been extra encouraging, the lady that called me today, started crying and told me how proud she was of me for standing up for her in the face of such opposition from insurances, negative reports, social workers and for keeping her in the best place for her now. All I could do was ask for prayer "Please pray that the finances will continue for her very high level of care. Thank you"! 

 God's timing is perfect

Painting number one was a little girl from China in her beautiful traditional clothes getting clean water from a new drinking water project from World Vision.  This was a cheerful piece with it's bright clothing topped off with a lovely bow.  Light and airy, I was thinking as I was painting this piece.  It was a pleasant contrast to the heavy weight of what I was going through.  This little girl too, no longer had the weight of carrying the water for her family and her burden was lighter.  The water looked so pure on the photo I was painting from, it was a good (and light) start to my project.  

Painting #1
   
 "This little girl of ethnic Yao is washing her hands under the clean tap water,
thanks to the drinking water project launched by World Vision". (Photo: 2014 WV Staff)


Halfway through this painting I got the call that my mother stopped breathing.   I put the brush down and went to the hospital,  and there were many people trying to relive her.  Her body was so beat and frail, it was amazing how many times she survived one medical crisis after another for over twenty years. After a long time of trying to resuscitate her, with the chaplin by my side, I yelled "let her go" and after years of caring and protecting my mother she was gone.  My brother was going to fly back home before this happened and his plane was delayed so he was able to come and help make arrangements with me. 



Photo credit World Vision

Nirma's Story
Photo credit World Vision

Her name is Nirma, she’s 15 years old and was one week away from her wedding to a much older man and it was stopped just a week before her nuptials, and she was grateful to be able to learn some technical skills.  I really did want to capture her expression on her face, how she felt with this burden on her.  I painted the partial window with the blue skies to represent hope and beauty on the horizon.


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 

 Angelina
It's Mother's Day and I had to work. It would be the first Mother's Day after her passing.  The store is about to close and a lady came into the store and was looking for sympathy cards.  She told me that her son passed away this month from violence, and she was getting cards for all the people that were helping her in this.  We both shared about how God was preparing us and showing us signs along the way. With me it was a hummingbird that I saw every day for a few months, sometimes in humorous ways.  Like one man that came up to me with a little box and said "would you like to see my hummingbirds in this box".

You don't hear that every day!  When the man opened the box it had two beautifully beaded hummingbirds in it and he just got out of prison and wanted to sell them.  Another time was when one hummingbird came to the window in the winter, there were no flowers to attract them and I didnt see it again all winter.


With Angelina, she was the angel I needed on that day.  I hope I was a blessing too, with hugs and prayers we ended this difficult day.


Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart. 

Psalm 27:14

Painting #2
When I saw these two men they touched me deeply with their prayers for a World Vision journalist in a video.  Their story is even more touching, they are the best of friends after being enemies during the Rwandan genocide.   One is Hutu and the other is Tutsi and they hated each other, but now they have a strong bond and both families are very close.
When they pray together they move mountains.
Moving Mountains 
Photo credit Jon Warren/World Vision 

Their wonderful prayers for Kari below is why I picked this picture.

friend is someone who strengthens you with prayer

blesses you with love and encourages you with hope.
Tracy Glover
"Work of Love" 

Photo credit Jon Warren/ World Vision

A painting of little girl feverish with malaria sat in the lap of journalist Kari Costanza of World Vision  while she was interviewing her parents in Zambia

World Vision's work, love and ministry of the dedicated workers.


Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58



Underneath a painting it looks like random, shapes, colors and undertones, 
 but as I'm painting this, it is important to know that in all of this, 
those tones do have a purpose.

I think sometimes that God allows some things to humble us to become completely dependent on Him.   I am a volunteer and I just marvel at older people doing volunteer work into their eighties and beyond.  The first time I met this lady was at a conference, she was praying over all the cubicles of the staff in the building.  I think she’s a pretty remarkable lady doing what she does in her eighties, and I just couldn’t resist the sweet interaction in the photo, and of course the chicken. 




Painting #3
The Heart of a volunteer 
Photo credit Megan Pratt /World Vision



My mother was a collector, I mean vintage things, a lot of things you can’t just throw away, so when I had to be the administrator of the estate, I was overwhelmed and upset, it really was my worst fear to deal with all this.  I felt the weight of it in my body, the backaches and stress from doing so much was a real thing!  Stress shows up physically on me, and I tried to manage work and the demands of the estate at the same time.   All the planning and help I could find for me fell through.   My son in-law helped on the weekend of the funeral.  My husband and I worked on it regularly, but every time we would spend hours on it, it wouldn't even put a dent in it, and we were overwhelmed and time was running out on trying to list her house for sale. 


My husband knew someone from work that recommended her sister’s church, they sell items for their annual rummage sale.  He said they would bring a team to collect the things that they can sell for their youth programs and missions work. I agreed, thinking they would just pick through everything and I would still have to go back to work after. 

They showed up Monday morning and to my surprise many of them were seniors, in fact the majority were.  I texted my husband to tell him to pray that no one gets hurt, I was really concerned.  


They cleaned out the entire house, top to bottom. I was in awe! I have been a volunteer for many years, but I have never been at the receiving end of what this little church did for me. 


All with joy, achy knees, their own stories to tell me, organized tubs and bins, attention to every detail, all of it was hard work and done with a smile.  Not once did one of the neighbors offer to help until they witnessed this band of church volunteers, lay out a full potluck lunch in the middle of the neighborhood while they were hauling off antique furniture, packing knick knacks and other interesting finds.   It was quite the ordeal and they all got it done in two days!
 What a miracle! 
They are my heroes!  


The heart of a volunteer is never measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others.


~DeAnn Hollis

 “Everybody can be great…
because anybody can serve. 
You don’t have to have a 
college degree to serve. 
You don’t have to make your subject 
and verb agree to serve. 
You only need a heart full of grace. 
A soul generated by love”  


So in the middle of the mess, this happened,  "Franklin" my third grandchild.  
I am so thankful to be in the delivery room with all three,  
and he came in the most gentle and peaceful way! 


I definitely can say God has been faithful, 
and to me that meant everything!


 



“A work of art is a world in itself reflecting senses and emotions of the artist’s world.”
~Hans Hofmann
 


Raw Sienna  is a yellowish-brown natural earth pigment, composed primarily of iron oxide hydroxide. The colour of the pigment in its natural, or raw state.  

This doesn't sound too pretty but this is what I had to use for water in this next painting.  I can't even imagine drinking the water that was this color and the very last thing you want to do in oil painting is to have have muddy colors, but I had to find a way to do that clearly, if that makes sense at all.


  Painting # 4
The search for clean water
Photo credit Jon Warren/World Vision 2014

Children wait for cattle to leave the pond before they are able to fetch water. The pond attracts those desperate for water, including animals who defecate there.


I really felt like you can see the story here on what these kids had to drink on a daily basis.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought that this speaks volume.  




Photo credit World Vision
The Joy of Clean Water Wash programs and clean water is everything!Photo credit World Vision 
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants.
 They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
    like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Isaiah 44:3-4
“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free ... 
so other people would be also free.”
Rosa Parks
Photo credit Jon Warren/World Vision 2014
My husband asked me why I picked a photo that was so difficult. and of course I said I like to torture myself, but really,  I really loved this photo and what it represented!  You feel her joy for only a moment until you realize her situation.  What?  Where is she?   She has such a beautiful spirit in a hard place.

Painting #5
Freedom

“Sonali twirls outside a Child-Friendly Space across the street from a brothel in Bangladesh where her mother works. I love this moment because her carefree dancing and beautiful dress reflect who Sonali is inside. Her name means “golden.” 
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Cor 3;17

It is part of the story, a story of “freedom” for a child just being a little light in a dark world. 

Photo Credit World Vision
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
! Peter 2:9





 A little peace,summer season is here and it's time for sundresses and sandals. Fatigue has set in and I'm wondering how I'm going to finish this project and does it really matter to anyone?  It's moving so slow and my life is crazy right now.  As I'm feeling more and more isolated and I'm relying on God more and more for that strength.


What on earth did I get myself into?

 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

Zechariah 4:6

If ever there was a theme verse, this was it!
 A sweet connection between a mother and son as they walked through the snow getting water for the family in Amasia, Armenia.  
World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt


The stillness caught my attention on this photo, the beauty of its bright white snow and the light reflecting on it was beautiful and peaceful even though it had almost no vegetation on it.  As I was painting it I noticed that the mother and son weren't dressed for the cold weather and they had to walk so far for water, and i'm sure for supplies too.  A simple coat, gloves and boots would be more precious than food in a place like this. 

Painting #6
Peace Snow



Celebrate your small victories. 
Every 1/4 mark, 
1/2 mark, 
no matter how small. 
Some mountains are best taken slow and steady.




Photo credit/World Vision
Grateful Mama" Hardships turn into gratitude for mothers.Maternal health, healthy childbirth and medical help. 

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me
Matt 25;24-25





The choice of photos wasn't an easy one,  I wanted to show some of the most meaningful stories I could find.  I had a large Hawaiian festival coming up so I decided to add this one on the beach because I was going to display the paintings that I already finished so far for a three day long booth. 








Painting # 7
A second look
Photo credit World Vision

Families and children collecting shrimp fry near Mongla, Bangladesh where some children do hazardous work. I thought this painting was going to be about food security, but when one of the staff members of World Vision posted some articles on child labor it occurred to me why there was so many children on the beach fishing. Child labor can be hazardous and is not always on the shore, it’s machinery, hard labor and sometimes far from home. Struggling families need the income and can’t afford the fees for uniforms and supplies for school. World Vision opened up a child-Friendly Learning Center here so the children can learn life skills and play in a safe environment to grow and give them a good future.

From a distance this photo looked like a tropical beach but a second look told the story.


Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Matthew 4:18-19

My grandson came for a visit and watered my garden everyday.  Really everything is doing well this year except for pumpkin and sunflowers that I had so many seeds from previous gardens.  The year before all I had was sunflowers that you could see from the house all summer long. God must of thought I needed sunflowers that year.  They sure were cheerful during that time!  My grandson talked about how he liked my art and how I should do art shows which was really sweet!   All during my mother's funeral he held my hand and we walked the garden and we went on an adventure on the grounds at the cemetery. He talked about Jesus and His resurrection, and taking on the sins of the world for all mankind. (These are all his words and he is five) We found rocks, pine cones,wildflowers and found an old rusty can that we kicked., as all five year olds do. 

We talked about heaven and what it will be like. All the broken flowers we found we put on other tombstones, as he said that these are God’s gifts that we will distribute around for blessings.  My son in-law did the service and did a wonderful job and did some of the hard work for me. I feel like I crossed a mountain that day, maybe a little one but definitely a mountain and I can honestly say that I am blessed.  All my grandkids are such a joy!  I even painted some dog paintings a while back for his room.   Moving forward on this lazy summer day, all the sketch and prep work is completed on the next painting,  number 8 and I will start on it tomorrow.


Books and bricks 

Photo credit World Vision



A child reading instead of doing hard labor displayed in the bricks behind them.


"Never forget the

three powerful
resources you always
have available to you:
love, prayer and forgiveness". 
~H. Jackson Brown, Jr

Photo credit World Vision

Today I hit an all time low, I was so drained and discouraged with my slow progress.   I plant a garden every year and even though it was neglected it still was thriving.  A beautiful vine that produced beans and flowers all summer long was growing so fast that I couldn't find a tall enough stake for it so I grew them to hold together with one stake. This project was for hunger and I already met my goal.  It really was a miracle of the timing of everything and only God could of done that, really.   The paintings were selling and all the provision was made on time but I still had to finish what I started and I was moving too slow and I couldn't go any faster. 

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.


I gave my coworker some seeds to a big harvest I had one year of cinderella pumpkins and sunflowers.  
She mentioned to me that she planted some seeds in her beautiful garden soil and her husband had some in his pocket that he forgot about and threw in the front yard.  The pumpkin she bought from the store didn't do well, but the ones her husband threw out front by mistake in awful soil is growing well and thriving in infertile ground.  I noticed one cinderella plant was planted by birds near a drain a few blocks away, I recognize that shaped pumpkin anywhere, and my co worker grew beautiful sunflowers from that seed. 

She wrote "We noticed it was beginning to grow more into a really long vine, in two directions.  A couple of months in and it's a gorgeous red and dark orange color.  It's interesting how it grew in our front yard without any nutritional base and isn't that how God works in our lives?  He takes our messes and makes them beautiful and a miracle.  He makes beauty from ashes and He alone gives us the nutrients to survive and binds us together because we are His.  Our backgrounds help us to heal others and impossible is God's specialty"!  

~Sarah 


When it is hard to make sense of all you lost and all you missed, the beautiful thing is...you don’t have to. Instead, you can focus on this new day that has just been given to you, and rest in sweet assurance, that even in the little things, Light is still pouring through.
~Morgan Harper Nichols


Photo credit Laura Reinhardt/World Vision

 "The Gift" Hunger/Children taking care of children
In this painting, Somali feeding her little brother eggs from chickens that they received from World Vision. The children are no longer malnourished and is pictured here with a full plate of food.

Children are often looking after other siblings and Im sure its a blessing to have food to give them.




“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me 
to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,to set the oppressed free,
Luke 4:18


Painting #8
Joy

Photo credit World Vision ( just a copy to paint from)



Dedicated Staff. 
 Doing God's work with joy.
Photo credit Jon Warren/World Vision

Photo credit World Vision

I painted this one because it was so joyful and I thought is was lovely with the children and trees.  I don’t really know what kind of trees these were but I sure got lost in the complexity of them.  I had company, extended family issues, work and I wondered if I could get this one done, it was the most challenging one yet. 

I always play music while I paint, and this dance (or game) seemed to go pleasantly with this so I called it “Joy”. 
World Vision's photojournalist Laura Reinhardt (which needed an extra picture)  dancing with the the children in Zambia. 

The importance of fun and play are crucial to a child's growth and wellbeing.
So I'm taking a short break (a road trip) to recharge and refocus! 

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.


Philemon 1:7

The hard road...
The only way I was going to finish this project was to trust God's gentle hand to carry me  through.  The rolling hills that we were driving through were beautiful with the sage green and gold grasses swaying in the wind.  How beautiful it was in contrast to the deep blue skies.  Yellow and lavender wildflowers were everywhere, but the most amazing feature was the white clouds that hung low to cast shadows to cool this arid valley.

We drove 25 hours to visit my mother in law in a very small town in the midwest.  Listening to the birds in the morning and watching fireflies at night, life really slows down here! I even saw a hummingbird come to the window and it reminded me of God's goodness.  


While we were there my mother in laws elderly neighbor had an emergency and fell.  She was on the ground outside bleeding and her daughter in panic with literally a black storm coming in.  The midwest knows how to do storms!  We assisted until the paramedics came and It was all too familiar.  


God's timing was evident!

Photo credit Jon Warren/World Vision
Painting #9
Carry each other's burdens
Photo credit World Vision

  His burden is easy "Carry each other’s burdens”. Two-year-old Pascal follows a group of older children while carrying firewood back to his home in Rwanda.



Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2



I loved some of the people that bought the paintings, they were so sweet!

Some of the paintings sold fast! This one had three different people that wanted to buy it and two of them didn't even know who the people in it were!  The lady that bought "Carry each other's burdens" sponsored 3 children while I was packing up the painting thanks to my helper Tamara! 



“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:1-12

 All who wander are not lost  The mighty mountains crossing the continental divide were beautifully chiseled with deep rich tones of mauve, gray and purple all topped with white snow.  This must of been a difficult way to travel for the early settlers. They were pretty to look at from our air conditioned car but it is harsh terrain. 
  
There are so many refugees fleeing their homes right now, the statistics are staggering. 



Photo credit Jon Warren/World Vision  
At the time I'm writing this, 

1 Syria 5.6 million refugees 2 Afghanistan 2.5 million refugees 3 South Sudan 2.3 million refugees 4 Myanmar 1.2 million refugees 5 Democratic Republic of the Congo 833,400 refugees 6 Somalia 809,273 refugees

More than half of those refugees are children.

The photo
that I chose was a refugee mother and a little girl named Jannatul (which means best heaven) holding each other because its all this mother has left after losing her husband and two other kids.


Painting #10
In Limbo
Photo credit Jon Warren/World Vision 

At night, Jannatul's mother sings her to sleep with a quiet lullaby. 

“I pat her back and hold her closely in my arms", says Salima. In the dark, there is peace until morning. The world's largest refugee camp is located near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.   Families live in small overcrowded and hot shelters made of bamboo and plastic tarps that often leak during monsoon season storms.





“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett 



One of our favorite summer movies is the Secret Garden!  We like all versions of this classic movie.  It's about a little girl named Mary that experienced tremendous loss and was just numb with grief and anger.  Her life began to change with the help of a bird (a robin) after a magical gust of wind blows the ivy away from a mysterious door and she discovers a secret garden.

Her healing was evident as the garden came alive, so she too came alive. All the toll of plowing and planting, the plants bloomed and she bloomed and it touched those around her.

I was finishing up this painting and there was a loud commotion outside my window.  I looked and it was a rental company putting a sign up on my neighbors yard.  The commotion continued as I was painting but I get very involved (tunnel vision) while painting and I didn't look up a second time.


An hour later I walked the dog and everything was gone in a patch of landscape by the sidewalk except a sign that said the area was treated with pesticides.  I have been fighting the use of pesticides for years and thought I won, until a rental company (that doesn't even live here) didn't like the ornamental grasses in my front yard and removed them with poisons and put my pretty pots and landscaping rocks in front of the rental side, because it looked pretty.  


So my carefully planted and landscaped spot is bare dirt now and I took my pots back off the rental property side and I'm thinking today about this beautiful strong woman in the painting.  How happy it is for her to have a bit of earth in this world.  How lovely are her growing plants that she is watering and cultivating to feed her family.  

What a completely liberating thing to do!



Painting #11
A Bit of Earth
Photo credit World Vision

“She stopped and listened to him and somehow his cheerful, friendly little whistle gave her a pleased feeling--even a disagreeable little girl may be lonely, and the big closed house and big bare moor and big bare gardens had made this one feel as if there was no one left in the world but herself. If she had been an affectionate child, who had been used to being loved, she would have broken her heart, but even though she was "Mistress Mary Quite Contrary" she was desolate, and the bright-breasted little bird brought a look into her sour little face which was almost a smile. She listened to him until he flew away. He was not like an Indian bird and she liked him and wondered if she should ever see him again. Perhaps he lived in the mysterious garden and knew all about it.” 
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden




A season of planting, sowing and watering, it feels more like plowing.  I have had many encounters along the way but most have left now (or it just feels that way) and my daughters told me I should have someone overseeing this project like a church or community to see the blind spots that you don't see.  I know I need to finish well, leaving a little piece of me with each painting.  A little dramatic I know, but I must finish strong.



In His Shoes
Photo credit Laura Reinhardt/World Vision 



Photo credit Laura Reinhardt/ World Vision 
The Setback... Then the worst thing happened!  The last painting that I was working on for weeks didn't work out.  I readjusted a few things then changed a few things more and my husband agreed it wasn't the last piece I wanted, but I was almost to my deadline and I haven't ask for permission to do anything else and I had no idea what to do. 

Fix your eyes on Jesus. Stay in your lane. Run your race. Don’t get sidetracked. Be patient. Be courageous. Be steadfast. Be tenacious. Be resilient. Be consistent. Be faithful. Trust God. Finish your course.
Christine Caine

Something told me, stop now and just look back and see what God has done.  I was amazed at all that has happened this year and especially amazed at the dream (up at the top) almost two years ago.  

I decided then to paint the canvas full of children I saw many years back.

Painting #12 
Based on various photos from World Vision



Sponsor a Child today 🚸


I was talking to a lady today about writing down the times that God has really worked in your life.  We easily forget when the going gets tough and your tired, discouraged and the path is dark and you don't see things clearly. 

 Recently, I met a another lady that was from Kenya and she was looking for some encouraging gifts for some girls age 5 and up that were on the streets in her hometown in Kenya.  She said it can't say "love" or "beautiful" because that's what the men use on them when they approached them, so we found.  "You are Fearfully and Wonderfully made".

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well".

Psalm 139:14 (niv)

I'm thankful for His faithfulness to me and I hope you will join me with sponsoring a child.  You never know what kind of impact you can do by just caring enough to make a difference in a life of a child.
I will be going to Cambodia with World Vision!
I would love to find sponsors for children there, join me!

https://www.worldvision.org/sponsor-a-child?campaign=226220126 


Two years ago exactly to the day I was in Hawaii and (at the time I originally wrote this) coincidentally, we will be there in two days at the very same beach.  Or maybe not so coincidentally, really, is there coincidences in life or has God planned everything all along? I don't know but a it's a really good way to just end this. 

To God Be The Glory!


Adieu! I'll be on a beach somewhere,


With Love, 🖌

Stephanie

   

  https://mycause.worldvision.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.participant&ParticipantID=3891

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