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Psalm 139 – You Are There

Have you read this wonderful Psalm of David? I first became acquainted with it through one of the most beautiful songs I ever heard. This piece of music struck me somewhere deep in my soul where powerful, impacting music lodges and changes everything. It was a song composed by the very talented, Dan Burgess, called “You Are There.” It became a bit of a theme song for me way back in the early ‘80s and my heart would about come out of my chest every time I sang it. I haven’t heard it in a very long time. But I thought of this song tonight when Psalm 139 was referenced in a message I was listening to. I wondered if I might be able to find the song on YouTube, and to my surprise I did! I have searched for it before. And yes, it is just as wonderful as I remember although with slightly different lyrics. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to this powerful rendition of David’s incredible love story to God written so beautifully by Dan, sung by Cynthia Clawson, and played by Brian Mann on piano.

PSALM 139 paints such stunning word pictures of a loving Heavenly Father who has known us from even before our birth watching as we were knit together in our mother’s womb.

No matter where we go, where we come from, how high we fly or how deep we may fall, we cannot escape from God’s presence. From the desert to the mountains, from the forest to the oceans…wherever we go He is there. This psalm (song) was set to music as David himself was the original composer.

I hope you will read or listen to the Psalm and find encouragement for wherever you find yourself today Because you can never be lost to His Spirit or get away from His love.

Right after listening to and humming along with this song tonight, I happened across a post on Facebook where I was stunned to learn that Dan Burgess passed away last month on March 11, 2021! Somehow I feel this was God’s way of allowing me the unique privilege of acknowledging the talent and gifts of this wonderful composer and to share how much this song meant in my life. I hope that somehow his family will realize he left behind a significant legacy. He was also the composer of (In Jesus’ Name) “We Press On” another very beautiful song, among many others.

We all have a life to live and for good or for bad, we will have an impact. Dan Burgess had an impact on me that I just felt compelled to share! It’s been almost 40 years since I’ve sung his song. But each time I knew the beauty of the message and the soaring power of the music. There is a place in my soul that this song resides and I trust that I am not alone in my feelings. I am grateful I could acknowledge a gifted composer who touched my life. He painted with a musical paintbrush creating beauty for the ears that reached to the very soul.

Well done, good and faithful servant.🎶

Let There Be Love and Laughter!

I am so ready to do a little high-stepping after such a long period of couch-sitting. People are smiling again. I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of happy that hopefully might make you smile.

Everyone has a “thing” or two that draws them in and maybe says “oh, I must have it” – roosters, watermelon, sunflowers, cookbooks… (I don’t paint cookbooks~) but you know what I mean. For me, it is something I can paint. At the end of my post you will see my most recent painting, but below are some that were plain just fun for me to do. The umbrella painting is a street in Passau, Germany that had these adorable handpainted umbrellas hanging over Artist’s Alley. It happened to be raining, so we had our own umbrellas streetside! The high heeled shoe was for my granddaughter. I hoped it might make her smile as opposed to some of the other things I paint. 🎨The rooster. Well, he did make me smile.

This is Stubby the Cat, painted for my friend, Robin Johnson, who created a childrens’ book about a brave and special cat. I look forward to the release of this book because her audience will love hearing about the adventures of a busy 3-legged, one-eyed cat with a crooked tail.

Several years ago I had the privilege of illustrating a very clever children’s counting book written in both English and Spanish. Created and self published by Trudy VanderKnoop, it was my first venture into children’s books. I’m hopeful her charming storybook will be published again soon!

Today is a day to enjoy, not be too serious. Everywhere we look we have to choose between responses. Are we going to disagree, are we going to listen and acknowledge the feelings of others – even if we disagree? Are we going to look for JOY or are we going to look for discouragement? Today I choose joy. I want to be known for my love not for my opinions…and maybe a little bit for my paintings as well~ What do you think? Can you tell I love the great ourdoors?

I invite you to shop my Gallery. And here are some of MY favorite paintings:

And this is what I painted today. Just because. Maybe because Mother’s Day is coming up and it reminded me of kitchen tables and vases with fresh flowers. Celebrating family and the precious women in our life. Celebrating you, my friends! I hope it makes you smile. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Magnolias for Mom

Meet, Know, Follow

As we move forward on the paths of life, we will encounter loss. It may come gradually over time slowly filling us with anguish. It may happen suddenly causing profound and devastating shock. But loss is unavoidable and however it happens, we are forced to face the changes – ready or not.

I met Jesus in my mid-twenties after years of rolling my eyes and changing the subject when He became a topic of conversation. I was searching for Him even though I didn’t realize it was HIM for whom I was searching. One day, God found me. To my amazement, I met my Savior and was captured by the “Hound of Heaven.”

Over many years I came to know and build a relationship with Jesus. I studied the Bible. I attended a church learning under a Godly pastor. I began to recognize Jesus’ voice leading me, and as the years went on and the pain of loss began to tear deeper into my world, I clung to Him. I trusted His faithfulness and great love for me even though I did not understand much of what was happening in my personal life. I KNEW He loved me although I lived shrouded in emotional and relational struggles. He did not take away my pain, but He was there with me everytime I cried

God led me through one painful step at a time. After many difficult years, He led me slowly out of that hard season of loss into a time of joy and abundance. I learned that although He may not answer my prayer as I expected it should be answered, He did have an answer. And it was one I never would have dreamed.

FAST FORWARD Loss continues to follow me of a different sort. From my youngest years I knew I would sing. It was just built into me – even though the reality of it scared me. I first picked up a microphone to sing a solo before our church when I was in my mid twenties. I was terrified! But the joy of communicating a powerful message with beautiful music was like nothing I could have imagined. I continued to sing for over 4 decades loving the sense that I was communicating from the depths of my soul. I sang to an Audience of One regardless how many faces were in front of me. God heard. And each person sitting in their seat heard, each receiving it themselves – as one. Singing was one of the ways I defined my life. Music was a Big Deal to me.

About three years ago, I realized my “instrument” wasn’t working as it always had. I felt as if I had somehow swallowed someone else’s vocal cords! My range was rapidly changing, my high notes disappearing. I lost confidence in my ‘identity’ as a soloist. I realized it was time to hang up my soprano hat. And that has been and continues to be difficult for me. I have lost part of what had been part of my identity. Yet I FOLLOW Him where He leads. I trust Him as I walk the path of my life: sometimes in light, sometimes in darkness – not often knowing what lies ahead for sure. But I TRUST Him, wherever He takes me.

If God has seemingly taken something important from you, I know it hurts. There is grief and sadness, confusion and pain. There is a period of mourning for our loss – there is no way to avoid that. But He is always there! He KNOWS. He CARES. He DOES have a plan for our lives and it likely looks nothing like we had imagined.

Here I sit. Writing to you. Painting now and again when my paintbrushes scream to be taken into the light. 🎨 I could NEVER have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would write – that I would PAINT, for goodness sake! That I would care so much to share what the Lord has taught me over 50+ years of holding tight to His hand. That my paintings would bring a smile to someone’s face is such a surprise. Writing and painting did not happen until my voice began to fade away…

I pray these words might encourage you in your season of grief or loss. He is FAITHFUL and He will continue to use you in ways you may not have yet considered.

I have followed and trusted Him these many years since He ‘caught’ me. And Jesus has loved me well. He has forgiven me for every mess I’ve made, for every heart I’ve wounded, for my anger and frustration and hurt for so many years – He has loved me and will love me, to the last breath I take. And He is there for YOU. All you need to do is call out to Him and invite Him into your wounded heart.

Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

Meet, Know and Follow Jesus is the mission statement of my home church, Traditional Service at Sun Valley Community Church, Tempe, AZ

Whatever Path You Are On

Do you ever feel as if your life has you stumbling down a confusing road with an uncertain destination and wonder where on earth you are going?! I think of times I had no clue whether to choose “path A or path B” – and which one was “God’s perfect will” anyway? The life roads we had been on before 2020 suddenly made a sharp left turn OFF the paths we had thought we were safely on. These uncertain days have created a lot of division in our world and brought many to not only a fork in the road, but a huge boulder. Everywhere we go and to everyone we speak we navigate a minefield in fear we might set off an explosion! No matter what is going on in our lives, we move forward uncertain of what lies ahead or around the next corner. And as we’ve certainly learned especially in these recent days, life can throw us unexpected curves.

I have walked a very rocky path with a dear friend for several years. Her life has been painful on many levels and her faith has been a roller coaster with many stomach-dropping loops. Through the unremitting stress exponentially increasing this last year, we have prayed and asked God for what only He can do. And the months have gone on and the battles have continued raging. Then, within 48 hours, her circumstance abruptly changed 180 degrees to the positive and she was no longer on the same path at all. That which had been so incredibly frightening for her suddenly evaporated as her situation changed overnight. Too complicated to explain, the short answer is that God had NOT forgotten her, He HAD heard her many anguished prayers, He was working on it, and He finally had all His proverbial ducks in a row and made the Great Reveal. Her longtime prayers for release were suddenly answered. And her attitude was suddenly one of great relief and joy.

As I look back at all that has gone on for such a long and painful time and remember the many times she cried out, “Where is God?” “Why isn’t He doing anything?!” I know that I too wondered where He was. I have faith and knew He heard. I KNOW He answers prayers! And I know many times the painful answer is Wait. But what a lift to my spirit it was to see how AMAZINGLY God met her need! “Coincidences of timing.” No, I don’t have faith to believe in coincidences. It was God’s miraculous provision: blessing her beyond what would be a minimum answer to her need. I was reminded of one of my favorite Bible passages, Jeremiah 29:11-13.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

JOY! I rejoice with my friend. I look back in HINDSIGHT and celebrate! Yes, He was listening, He was directing her paths, He loved her all the way through hearing every prayer and seeing all her tears.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8.

I LOVE Hindsight! Through the rearview mirror I can see clearly what God has done. I will make an effort to REMEMBER His great acts of kindness and how He has blessed by sharing with you and by recording in my journal. I can hopefully encourage others and hopefully you, on whatever twisty road you may be struggling, to TRUST Him! To believe His promises. To remember His great love for You. And to continue putting one foot in front of the other trusting He will direct your paths. He is faithful And I for one shout Hallelujah This morning!

Beauty for Ashes

When I saw this photo, I knew I would be taking my paintbrushes to it. I know some people love abstract and free-form art. But my passion is trying to recreate something real. Isn’t it funny how different we all are?! Art is VERY personal and emotional and there is no logic to it, right? But this image, this one spoke to my heart.

This painting so reminded me of the stories of our lives. All of us have closets filled with old, broken down relics from our past: moments battered, bruised, worn, and often hidden away. These snapshots make up the stories of our lives. Some painful memories have an impact on the face we show to the world. Some secrets from the dark closets of our pasts have been given power to cripple or to rule over us. It is a new day. It is a new week. The Lord IS Risen! I pray we would open those locked doors and bring those ancient pieces hidden away into the light. Painful memories of our past do not need to define us in our present.

What is a stumbling block to you? What is holding you back? What lies are you still believing? What truth have you not looked at in the light of God’s promises?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Most all of us have wounds unhealed: secrets gathering dust weighing us down, forgiveness that needs to happen. How can this old chair beaten with the abuses of time, pressure, and abuse be a beautiful frame for an old battered and likely discarded bucket? Yet when it is filled with glorious blooms and vibrant color, these discarded antiques bring hope and joy. God can make beauty for ashes And I count on Him for that!

This Monday after Easter, I pray you will trust the One who overcame the powers of darkness and death itself. Among the battered, broken down discards of our lives, I pray we would find HOPE to start this week with fresh eyes and a new perspective. JOY! Praying for a spirit of hope and FAITH for new beginnings as we head into spring, 2021

If you would enjoy a visual reminder of hope, I invite you to my Gallery where you will find any of my paintings looking like this (and more).

Masks, Spiral Notebooks, Tote bags, Coffee cups, yoga mats, throw pillow, STICKERS, LOL

Rejoice, He is Risen!