Sunday, January 25, 2009

About my other grandfather...

A while back I posted about my grandfather -- my mom's dad -- and what a special relationship we had. Well my other grandfather was very special to me, too. He was a World War II veteran and one of the "Greatest Generation." He must have seen some real atrocities in that war because he never would talk about it. I am really sorry about that now that he's gone, as there is so much I'd like to ask him about his experiences. Because I was very much a surprise to all my grandparents, and all of them were at a young age, I am sure it was not an easy thing to be a grandfather so young. But he loved me and had his own special name for me. When he would hear me coming he would smile and call out, "There's my little squeegee." (It was only many years later that I learned what a squeegee is, but I always think of him when I hear the word.) He sang in the choir and was in church every Sunday for as long as I can remember. He had a lovely voice, and I would often walk in to hear him singing a hymn.

When I was in elementary school, he realized a dream he had held for a long time. He built a pond just a few miles from town so that he would have somewhere to go fishing when he got off work each day. As time went on, he made improvements to it, such as adding a couple of piers and a boat dock. But the dream was not just about the pond, and a couple of years later he began to build a cabin there. It was a two bedroom, one bath "camp house" with large kitchen and den great room and a huge porch. It had a basement and a patio under the porch with a couple of porch swings. He loved this place, and it became his haven. He tended the fish, tended to the landscaping, and just generally put his heart into it. It truly became a beautiful place. I loved to go out to it particularly when I was in junior high school. I wasn't much for fishing, but I would paddle around in the boat, or find a spot to read, or just go for a walk... all the while enjoying the beauty of God's creation.

Now that my grandfather isn't with us, the lake has passed on to my father and his sister. It is there for all of us to enjoy, but it holds such beautiful memories for us all of my grandfather and how much he enjoyed this "dream come true." Each time I am there, I expect to hear him singing or whistling a tune... and I can almost hear him call out, "There's my squeegee!" For Christmas this year, I did a sketch of the place for my dad, who was very moved by it. I gave a print of it to my brother who happens to live just across the road and around the bend from this place.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ever feel like Habakkuk?

Of course, at this point you're probably asking, "How exactly did Habakkuk feel?" Or maybe you don't even know who he is. Well, he was a prophet who was really not satisfied with how God was running things... and he complained about it. Really complained...

"How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted."

Yep, I'd say that qualifies as complaining. But God was not put off by Habakkuk's complaints. Instead, He answered. But His answer was not the answer that Habakkuk wanted. So what did Habakkuk do? You guessed it... he complained again. So the Lord told him plainly of the judgment coming upon Habakkuk's people. Again, this was not what he wanted to hear, and yet this time he did not complain. Instead, he prayed. And he asked that God - in the midst of His wrath - would remember His mercy. And then Habakkuk began to remind himself who the Lord really is and began to praise Him saying, "His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from His hand; and there He veiled His power."

After he recounts the many ways God's power and might have been shown, he comes around again to the fact that God is about to judge the people and says, "I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us." But the last few verses of this interesting book are the really amazing to me and are filled with Habakkuk's knowledge that only God is his strength and hope:

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places."

This small book helps me also to process my complaints but to realize that God is my strength and my hope.

More commissioned artwork:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thinking Happy Thoughts

Sorry for the gloomy previous post... computer issues can really get the better of me sometimes. As thankful as I am for them, sometimes I loathe all the baggage that comes along with them (and I am quite sure I am not alone in this!) But we will leave that subject now and move forward.

Lamentations 3:22-23 are some of my favorite verses in Scripture. "The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." I am so thankful that God's mercies are new every morning. His unfailing love never ceases, and He is more faithful than we can even wrap our minds around. Despite the circumstances of our world, our nation, our city, our own family, He is in charge of my destiny. As His child I have no need to worry or fret about what the future holds because I know that He holds my future. I am His child. I am loved by the King of kings. Nothing in all creation can separate me from His love. These truths are straight from scripture and are there so that we can remind ourselves that when things seem to be going awry in our lives, our lives are securely held in the hand of the One with all the power. And His hands are hands of love. This not only allows me happy thoughts, it gives me deep, abiding joy. I pray that it will encourage you as it has me this Monday morning. Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

And here's another commissioned work from the Christmas season of a home in Birmingham:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear me, where does the time go?

Do any of you feel this way? Surely, I am not the only one. I thought that by the second week of the year I would have recovered from Christmas and be ready to tackle all that this new year has to throw at me. But no, I am seemingly more behind than usual and in dire need of an organization session. So far I feel swept away in the current of the infant year, and this is not at all what I had in mind for my fresh new beginnings in 2009. My "To Do" list just keeps growing and somehow I don't seem to find time to tackle the things on it.

One of my biggest problems is something that should have been a blessing... getting my computer screen fixed. My Dell (gr-r-r-r) Inspiron 6000 (which turned 2 years old in February 2008) laptop screen began to go all pink on me around this time last year. Yes, it was not even 2 years old at the time. Then it just would go completely black. Because I do web design, I could not be without it. So for many months I used it with an external monitor while using my son's laptop for times I needed something portable (which, it turns out, was the majority of the time.) My wonderful, precious, patient son has put up with this for most of a year. I decided that it was time to de-sequester his computer.

So off to the nearest computer repair place I went... then after a $30 diagnosis fee and a new screen to the tune of $166 (did I mention that the computer was LESS than two years old when the screen went out?), I thought I would have a "new" computer. What I actually have is a new computer SCREEN. However, my battery only holds a charge for about 30 minutes (if that), and when I boot up my operating system does not "recognize" my adapter... you know, the Dell A/C adapter... the one that came with my computer... the computer that was less than TWO YEARS OLD when all this started! If I take out the adapter while the computer boots up, then I don't get the error message. But then I must be ready with the power cord so that the battery doesn't give out. Then by inserting the cord slowly and turning at just the right angle it will begin to charge the battery and provide power to the computer.

I have spent the past week cleaning up my son's computer from all the files, photos, e-mails movies, etc. that I had put on it over the past year and trying to make my Dell work like it is supposed to... loading files, reconfiguring 10 different e-mail accounts, etc. This has proven to be more of a challenge than I bargained for... I will spare you the other details. They would put you to sleep. (Insomniacs may e-mail me privately.) It really is amazing what a time-sapper computer configuring can be. Oh, and did I mention that as I was walking out of the computer repair shop feeling so good about having my PORTABLE computer back, the fellow who worked on my computer told me in broken English that I had better be very careful when moving around my computer and that I might not even want to open and close my laptop because the HINGES ARE WEARING OUT! So my laptop, which is supposed to be portable, is actually not all that portable because I CAN'T CLOSE THE LID! How's that for twisted irony?

Yes, it's been a frustrating week and worst of all, I don't have all my blog links so I haven't been able to make the rounds. Hope you're all doing well and that you'll forgive my absence (does it really make the heart grow fonder?)

One of the other things on my "To Do" list was to post the commissioned artwork I had done which could not be posted before Christmas. So here's one of them:

Love to all!