Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Has Passed....

Okay, that is a tongue-in-cheek title. I hope all my blog friends are well and enjoying something cozy in the afterglow of Christmas this week. I am hunkered down in the bunker of home trying to fight off the last vestiges of a particularly nasty cold and sore throat. I thought I would do a little catching up and sharing in what seems to have become a bi-annual posting.

The fall and Christmas season seems to run like a train on greased rails and ...just like that... it is over. I am enjoying the pace of this week, which for me has slowed considerably. Thanksgiving is such a beautiful holiday full of fond reminiscence and family. What a great start to any holiday season. The Christmas rush was on just after Thanksgiving was over, and I completed three Christmas commisssions in time to send them off to new homes for the holidays.   Here are two of those:

The Tudor cottage was great and the second one is a London townhome... such fun to draw.  I am looking forward to a new commission in the next few months of a newly built church surrounded by six of its former locations.   I am also hanging thirteen of my art pieces at a local hospital's art gallery during the month of January.  I am praying for fruit from this show.

One of the most enjoyable times for me during the holidays was seeing my daughter perform with the ballet company she was invited to be a part of at the beginning of the school year.  They are one of the two performing groups at her ballet school and are called Immanuel (photo above of their feet).  They performed on pointe before several thousand at a local church to "Sing We Now of Christmas" and "Once In Royal David's City." It was a very meaningful time and meant so much to me to see her years of hard work bringing forth such beautiful fruit.  I hope that your fall and holiday season was filled with joy and family love.

Wishing all my blog friends a happy, healthy, blessed 2012!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birthing Another New Website...

I am in the process of birthing yet another website for another very creative lady. This one had a very good job working away from home, but in recent days has quit that job in order to pursue her "bliss" in the paper and printing business. (I will share more once we launch her site, but the new logo I created for her is below.) I can recall those Victorias that contained features about women pursuing their "bliss" in regard to their careers or work. There is even a book I have, published by Victoria's editors, called The Business of Bliss which tells the stories of a number of women who did this.

This is something that I have also had the opportunity to do. When I graduated from college with a degree Advertising and Graphic Design many moons ago, none of the layout work was done on computers. It was all meticulously hand-done with rub-on lettering or movable typesetting and gum paste. These days, it seems everything is done via computer. It is really an amazing thing to think about. I have had the opportunity to learn all of this amazing technology as it has evolved. It has gotten incredibly sophisticated through these recent years, and the software will do almost anything that you can imagine.

When I began building websites over 10 years ago, it was all very new and primitive. Since I am a very VISUAL designer, the "coding" required to build websites then was very off-putting to me. But the newest software is so friendly to those of us who are visual designers that it is truly a pleasure to be a web designer this current environment. It is almost like completing an unbelievably large painting, (except that it almost feels like you are never really finished.)  There is always a change here or a tweak there that will inevitably have to be made.

In that past few years I have also had the opportunity to learn to incorporate these new and very popular methods of "quick communication" -- now so affectionately known as Social Media -- into the design of these new websites. I have customized backgrounds and logos and color schemes for Blogger and Twitter, and I have become co-administrator on many a Facebook page.

I am thankful for being able to pursue my bliss and being able to do that from my home. I do not take lightly the privilege of being with my precious family each day, and I am asking the Lord to keep me busy doing what I love, whether it is drawing someone's home, creating a painting, or designing a website. Since these are hard economic times, I must also be wise about what financial contribution I am making in our family. But for now, I am so thankful to be a "worker at home"...

Titus 2:5 " be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Any Way the Wind Blows

IMG011(Photo above taken just after Hurricane Katrina in Pascagoula, MS)

These days you can never tell which way the wind will blow.  It may just bring a tornado to your doorstep.  People in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia found this out the hard way on April 27th.  People in Joplin, Missouri, found this out the hard way on May 22nd.  And in last week’s latest round of tornadic activity even the people in Springfield, Massachusetts, where tornadoes are fairly rare, got a taste of their fury.  Then there is the outbreak in California, also historically a fairly tornado-free area.

So, what is really going on here?  Some would say that it is caused by “global warming” … I wonder if that is why we had the coldest winter on record in quite a while this past year.   Maybe Cheryl ( >>wink<< with her vast study of and fascination with the weather) could help us understand better.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, tornadoes… just what does it all add up to?

(Photo above taken after April 27th tornadoes in Alabama)

If you are like I am, you have been thinking about and pondering  what all this strange weather activity really means.  I think of Jesus’ words when He told us in Matthew 24, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”  Birth pangs slowly and increasingly get harder and closer together; and so it seems these strange weather patterns are doing.  It is a constant reminder that this earth is not only an unpredictable place and one we will never be able to control with our man-made schemes, neither is it our permanent home.  No matter how hard we try to stay here or how much effort we put into living longer, one fact remains:  no one gets out of this life alive.   And these recent storms are such a vivid reminder that we don’t get to choose when our final day will be.

(Photo above taken after AL tornadoes shot a splintered two-by-four through a picture in a child’s bedroom)

So what can we do with this knowledge?  Well, there are really only two options… we can live with the conviction that Jesus is Lord, that He paid the penalty for our sin, and that He will come back and redeem all those who truly know and love Him.  Or we can choose to ignore Him, living exactly as we please, without regard for His love or sacrifice.  We really must choose, and ignoring His love and sacrifice is really a choice against Him. 

I just can’t buy the fact that this world just “happened” as an accident of the cosmos.  It would take much more of a leap of faith to believe that, than it does for me to look at the magnificently crafted human body, see its intricate design of systems and organs, and believe it must have had an awesome Creator.

(I mean seriously, can you look at that precious face and think it was an accident of nature? I don’t actually know this little fellow, but a friend of mine snapped his picture while on vacation.)

To use a quote that I hear frequently, “I would rather live like there is a God only to find out that there is not, than to live like there is no God only to find that there is (and, I might add, that He is truly not only Creator, but Judge of the universe.)” 

Storms will come…  so what will you do when they come? As for me, I will lift my eyes to the hills and realize again just where my help comes from:  my help comes from the Lord, Creator of heaven and earth.


And as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.


Friday, May 13, 2011

The Storms of Life

[Prologue]Since I had started the previous post ("November? Really?") a month ago, I decided to go ahead and post it just like I had left it the last time I was editing it on April 6th. (And even though Blogger had a severe glitch yesterday, the post was saved because I created it last month.  So, I just re-posted.) I couldn't get the "Publish Post" button to work that original day in April for some reason, and so I just got busy again and forgot about the post until I came here yesterday... determined to post something since I have been away so long.  [end]

God never promised that this life would be easy, and He knows just how awful it can be from walking this earth in human flesh. So, why am I surprised when the storms of life come? I guess it's because I would really like to live in the fairytale world of happily-ever-after NOW, instead of when I reach heaven. Our hearts long for that, and we do everything we can to bring love, beauty, and even perfection (whatever our version of that happens to be) to our little corners of the world. But, sometimes the storms of life come, and we have absolutely no control over them. We may be doing EVERYTHING right and still be staring devastation in the face.

Such is the case here in Alabama, in the aftermath of the tornadoes of April 27th.  When the Federal Government declares 39 out of 67 counties to be Federal Disaster Areas, you know that it was bad. I have personally never seen with my own eyes destruction from the elements like I have witnessed in the wake of this latest group of storms. When someone mentions the word Supercell Tornadoes in the future, you can be sure we will take the appropriate safety measures. Unfortunately, in this storm many did just that, yet they still lost loved ones and homes... whole communities destroyed.

The community in which I lived and ministered for over 20 years was utterly devastated. I have lived about 20 miles away from this community for the past 6 years, but there are four families in our current church family who live (or lived) there. Two of our four families lost their homes. As we drove through the area on our way to help these families salvage what they could, I could hardly recognize the town I had lived in for so long. How does that happen... and all in about 5 minutes? It is too much to try to wrap your mind around. In some places, for as far as you can see in front and back of you, there are NO tops of trees. Can you imagine that? Would you want to have to walk out your front door to that each day? I know I wouldn't... yet, some of these people (i.e. the ones who didn't lose their homes) will have to continue to do just that. Why, you may ask? I certainly have, and there are no easy answers.

This Supercell spawned 308 tornadoes and killed 243 people in Alabama alone. The most devastating of these tornadoes ravaged a path of destruction spanning the entire width of the state of Alabama, and at times it was a mile wide. The Super Cell was so devastating that it now has its own Wikipedia page which states, "An extremely large and violent tornado outbreak, the largest in United States history[citation needed], occured from April 25 to 28, 2011, affecting the Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States, leaving catastrophic destruction in its wake, especially across the state of Alabama."

Those words do not begin to describe what I have seen with my own eyes. It destroyed both Pleasant Grove (the place in which I lived and ministered for 20 years) and my beloved college town of Tuscaloosa. So many have lost so much.

And yet, I have seen God's people at their very best. The faith community has gathered around these people and tried to provide for every need. Our particular community has first-hand experience at this, having been some of the first to get into the Gulf Coast (and still ministering there) after Hurricane Katrina. So, God has His people ready, prepared to show His love, to be hands and feet in a devastating and rapidly deteriorating world. No matter how much we would want to bring our idea of perfection, beauty, and love to our corner of the world, only He can really do that. And for now, He is choosing to use His servants to minister and bring hope into a place for which -- from all outward appearances -- there is no hope.

If you think of it, pray for us as we strive to bring His love, His hope, and His healing to a very broken place. We are clinging to His promises...

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

November? Really?

I can't believe it was November when I last posted. Since that time we have had Thanksgiving, Christmas, lots of snow (yes, even this far south), and now Spring has officially arrived. I have been painting away, along with building websites and trying to make improvements in our massive yard. I will share a few pictures below of what has been keeping me occupied. That way, at least, you will know I haven't just been goofing off these past few months. :)

I have an art show coming up this weekend and have been getting ready for that in the midst of all else that is going on.

So far this spring in our yard we have planted irises, azaleas, phlox, clematis, yellow jessamine, bronze ajuga, hostas, daylilies, 2 winged euonymous bushes, a lorapetalum, a cleyera, and petunias in pots. We have also transplanted three large crepe myrtles. We also have planted a veggie garden with lettuce, potatoes, cabbages, baby tomato plants, peas, and peppers. So far, everything seems to be doing well, and thankfully we dodged a frost last night by a few degrees. The birdsongs are keeping me quite entertained each morning. I have seen numerous redbirds, robins, and even a bluejay or two in our yard. The gentle harbingers of spring never disappoint.

I am also keeping quite busy with a couple of new websites I am working on ... more to come on that in subsequent days. For now, I am just glad to be back. I would love to know what is going on in your part of the world!