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Archive for October, 2013

Landscape at my back door

painting church

I am trying to finalize this painting and keep finding fault. Today was such a beautiful day that I decided to paint on the back porch and work on painting the scene from life. I was able to capture a lot more detail and color.

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My plan, His plan

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

When summer began, so did hope and a plan. A grand plan for a wonderful pumpkin patch entered my head. Children love pumpkin patches and I wanted to grow one for the church children. Farming and gardening are foreign concepts to me and my thumb is more a shade of black than green, but I had grand aspirations and help from a true farmer. A dairy farmer, who is a member of our church, heard me talking to his daughter about wanting a pumpkin patch and offered his help. His daughter is a pumpkin growing prize winner and her secret – cow manure from dad’s farm.  Soon, a large metal troth appeared in the back garden that was donated by another member of the church. Two trucks pulled in the drive. One towed a trailer with a bull dozer. (I am not even sure what it is called, but it shovels dirt.) The other truck had a trailer full of cow manure compost. With quick adeptness, the farmer filled the troth with the wonderful cow manure creating the bed to begin the growth of my grand plan – a pumpkin patch.

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Soon, beautiful little pumpkin sprouts emerged from the soil. It wasn’t long before the bugs came – good and bad. The plants had to be treated to keep away the bad bugs; however, what kept away the bad could harm the good. There was also the question of how much water was enough and how much was too much. Around this time, I had other duties as I was in charge of organizing vacation Bible school and was overloaded with a lot of preparation for that event. My plate was overloaded with good intention and then to add to that, my son became very ill and anxiety flooded out all of my plans for good.

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 58:11

My soul was in drought. My son had a stomach bug, but it seemed to drag on and I took him to the doctor who gave him some medicine. After a couple of weeks, he was still experiencing nausea and sickness. We went back to the doctor who tried another medication. After two more weeks, he was still sick and we went back to the doctor. She put a lot of fear into me saying that he had lost ten pounds. The doctor put him on a course of antibiotics and then he went for a brain mri, an abdominal ultrasound and a barium swallow x-ray.  I was crippled with anxiety. I am a truly weak person and felt that I had no strength to bear something being terribly wrong with my child. During this time, I was following the illness of another young man who was my child’s age and dying of cancer. How could that parent bear that pain? I prayed to be spared that type of pain and I discovered that I am very incapable of enduring such a circumstance. Finally the results came back from all of the tests. They were all normal. Why he had been sick for two months was a puzzle. My son began to feel better. What had just happened? Was it just a bacterial infection that the antibiotics cured, or growth hormone that some teens experience nausea from, or something else? I have no clue. All I know is that I am thankful that God took care of my son and the other plans that I had. VBS went wonderfully and the pumpkin patch had been watered by the natural means of many perfectly timed rain showers. God had satisfied my soul in drought – His waters did not fail. I could only sit silently in His presence and look slack jawed back at the events of the summer.

The pumpkin patch was growing well. As was my soul.

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Being a pastor’s wife and living in front of the church, means that death often enters my perspective. There is a grave yard behind the church and we have had many funerals over the past couple of years. The saddest funeral was that of a teenage boy, but all funerals are sad with a touch of hope that the loved one will be seen again in heaven. This summer the funeral of the dear sister of one of our church members was held in our grave yard. It was this dear woman’s great nephew that was buried in the church yard around eighteen months past. Present at the funeral was his younger eight year old sister, who greatly misses her only sibling. There were other children at the funeral as well. The pumpkin patch proved a great attraction to these children and I happily allowed them to walk through the patch, inspect the pumpkins and ask questions. God had put in place something beautiful to give these children peace and joy at a time that is usually filled with sorrow. My heart was blessed.

Towards the end of the summer, the rains came and came and came.

patch12The yard was flooded and the patch did not fare well with all of the rain. I had planted the patch a bit too early, but then again the timing was perfect that it be at the stage it was in for the funeral. Now, in the later stages of the pumpkin patch, my inexperience was evident. I did not want to pick the pumpkins too soon and I did not want to pick them too late. The vines were beginning to rot and that rot would spread to the pumpkins. I watched and waited. My hope was that the pumpkins would grow until October; however, the pumpkins had to be picked in September and even then it was a bit late. This circumstance seemed to parallel life too.

In September, the decision was made to send my daughter to a Christian school. My children are very important to me and like many mothers out there, I want to be a perfect mother. Now the -how much should we shelter our children? – debate emerges. Like the question – when should I pick the pumpkins, releasing them from the nourishment  of the vine? – I have the decision of letting a child venture out from my homeschooling wing to a Christian school. My son has also turned sixteen and thus begins his journey to independence. Pluck them to early and there are problems – pluck them too late and there are problems. I still don’t have the answer to this question.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

I only know that God promises that things will work out if we love Him – and I do love Him, though not always perfectly. I am trying my hardest to Train up a child in the way he should go:  and trusting God that when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

It is finally October and we finally had the event that the pumpkin patch was planted for, though the whole growing process and the patch in its stages of development were a blessing in themselves. I did not trust the pumpkins that were picked too late and sat for too long, so I ended up doing what most people do and purchased pumpkins for carving. The children had a wonderful time and even though they knew that I purchased the pumpkins, they still were thankful for the pumpkin patch that God grew during the summer. As the pumpkin patch grew, so did I.

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 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit,

he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 

Abide in me, and I in you.

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

 I am the vine, ye are the branches:

He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:

for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:1-5

 

Link to Two Shoes Tuesday: http://www.josie2shoes.com/2013/10/two-shoes-tuesday-50-sorrow-or-surprise.html

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The kids had a great time tonight carving pumpkins, eating hotdogs and roasting marshmallows on the campfire. We had a great devotional with the lantern as the object lesson. The lantern will not shine without the light inside and we cannot shine for God without the Light of the World Jesus in our hearts.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying,

I am the light of the world:

he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,

but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12

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Today, my son and I washed, dried, gutted and prepared pumpkins for carving. Tonight is the first annual October family fun campfire night. The church children will be carving pumpkins, eating hotdogs, making smores, and playing games. There will also be a devotional at the campfire and fireside singing. Hopefully everyone will have a fun night.

To help carved pumpkins last longer, rinse them in a 50% vinegar 50% water solutions and allow to dry. Pumpkins that are not pre-cleaned will have bacteria on them, which leads to rot and the early demise of your beautifully carved pumpkin.

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Home Schooling Decision

I just read a good blog post and want to share a link to it. She explains why she home schools and she has very valid and scriptural reasons for home schooling.

http://www.stacymakescents.com/why-we-are-choosing-to-homeschool

I have had a lot of people question my decision to home school and under pressure sent my daughter to a Christian school as a compromise. The Christian school is an excellent school and my daughter is doing extremely well there; however, due to finances and higher insurance premiums, we are having to withdraw her from the school. At home, I will continue her learning in the same curriculum that she started at the school. I am thankful for the Christian School, her teacher and the administrator for their wonderful work with my daughter. I do feel God wanted her there these few months and the experience has greatly benefited both of us; however, I am looking forward to home schooling her again.

 

 

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30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

(Proverbs 31:30-31)

Today, I wanted to describe the journey that I have taken over the last five years and the events that have led up to my current investigations in Art. I do have an MA in painting and was an illustrator for a publishing company for five years and then I went to Scotland with my husband where I completed teacher training to become an Art teacher. In England, I taught art for seven years and loved my students and teaching. I began having ill-health during my sixth year of teaching, but I did not know the cause and tried to ignore the problem.

My husband was then asked to go to South Korea to work with a ministry there. I was happy to take our family and go on a new adventure. We loved South Korea and the people of that country. While in South Korea, my health problems became worse. I had growths in my spine that compressed nerves to my pelvic floor and colon.  I had surgery in 2008 and developed life threatening peritonitis and had another emergency surgery that thankfully saved my life. When I had peritonitis my veins were collapsing and I would have gone into organ failure and died if it weren’t for the surgery and then high doses of many antibiotics. The recovery was long.

My children were affected by my ill-health and my three-year old daughter at the time was upset by the separation from me while I was in the hospital and then our homeless situation. My son was ten and the situation was also very difficult for him, but he bravely weathered the storm. We had flown back to the states with no jobs and no home. My beautiful and gracious Aunt took us in and helped me during the hospital stay and in the recovery process. My mom and sister were also very supportive and my brothers stayed by me the whole time. I am blessed with a caring family. I am also blessed with many friends and family who all contributed to my medical bills and filled my hospital room with flowers.

We then were looking for a new home. In the past year, my three-year old daughter had moved from England at two to South Korea and while in Korea we moved again to another apartment and then I had the illness and we had to come to the states. In one year, she had been rehomed three times. However, we are thankful that we have friends and family who love us and helped us during this time.  We moved a fourth time to a home owned by  the mission headquarters of Source of Light Ministries. Source of Light Ministries hired my husband to manage a project and that situation provided us new stability and financial security.

The times of trial were not yet over. Later that year, I had an attack of acute angle closure glaucoma and almost lost my eyesight. I have had four surgeries on my eyes that have thankfully saved my sight, but my vision has diminished and I have had to get stronger corrective lenses. My brother passed on to us some head-gear with flip down magnifying lenses. I use that to help with fine details in watercolor painting.

The past five years have been a physical, mental and emotional journey. I reordered my priorities and have abandoned self. I have a new understanding and perspective on religion. I no longer live to please and meet the approval of “man” or “man’s religion.” I seek only to honor God and only look to scripture for my guidance and not the edicts of man’s religion. I believe my first ministry is to be a good wife and mother and I put all of my energy into that.

Now, back to my art – I am painting as a way to help my family. We are living on a small pastor’s salary with some missionary support and I would like to contribute economically to our family through art. I feel that I am out of practice and a bit rusty. So, I am re-exploring my abilities. Acrylics are relatively a new medium for me, but I like them because they are very forgiving. Also, I can stop painting at any time and answer the call of a child without worrying the painting will be marred. With watercolor, if you are running a wash or working wet into wet, you can not stop in the middle or you risk unwanted water marks. With acrylics, I feel that I can free up my style. The landscape that I am working on is an exploration of the acrylic medium. I am not altogether pleased with the painting, but I am learning from the process. I don’t know if my art will ever become profitable, but maybe something will come out of blogging about it. Of course, these things – blogging and creating art – are tertiary to God and family.

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The latest version of the painting

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