Searching for Beautiful

Looking for Beautiful

I painted this from a photo I took while in Bisbee, Arizona about five years ago. What a charming little mining town it is! We were walking down the old streets near the Copper Queen Hotel and I saw the most beautiful garden. It just screamed Paint Me! You can’t tell anything about the location by looking at this painting. My camera captured a tiny sliver of a moment in time. I found the beautiful because I was looking for it and I chose to ignore everything else around it when I painted it.

This is a reminder to me to focus on what is positive and good. The Apostle Paul, brilliant man that he was, said, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.Phil. 4:8

There is a lot of opportunity to be frustrated or anxious by events happening in our world. We have to sift through a lot of noise and despairing views to find beautiful lately. The not so beautiful seems to get way more attention. But we have been called to think about what we think about. Maybe we have the opportunity to bring joy with acts of kindness and compassion. We can also seek to acknowledge kindness in the actions of someone else by speaking a blessing over them.

There is opportunity in every direction to be in opposition. Sometimes we must take a stand. But it is more important to be loving and grace-filled than to be “right.” We can be right and be hateful. But Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 We are to love. It is hard in these days where right is now considered wrong, truth is now hidden, and dark calls itself light. But Truth will win out. And shining the light of Christ’s love is our primary mission statement.

Heavenly Father, help us to watch for Your hand at work in our world. Please help us to reflect Your love in our lives as a beacon of hope to others. And help us to spend more time searching for beauty and truth than despairing about ashes and chaos. “…provide for those who grieve a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3

Help us to love one another as You first loved us, Lord, and help us to focus on the beautiful.

Bisbee, Arizona
Cheryl

Tired? Worn Out? Burned Out?

This morning our pastor spoke on God’s model for mankind to take a day of rest as He rested on the 7th day. I have to confess something. . . I haven’t been very good at that~ I tend to be a bit of a social butterfly, I must admit. I flit from one event or project to another desperately trying to keep track of what day it is and what it is I am supposed to be doing on whatever day it is.

We are all VERY different. Not everyone lives in hyperdrive. But this morning I considered something I had forgotten. God modeled a day to cease from our striving and to rest. We don’t have to push every day! We can celebrate life, celebrate God’s creation – or take a nap! I loved reading Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message translation.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 MSG

Being burned out on religion is VERY common. It is all-pervasive in our world. Religion is striving and doing and effort. Faith is trust, believing, and resting – resting in what Jesus has done for us – in His “unforced rhythms of grace.” We are unable to do what Christ has done with all our “religious effort.” God came to earth and took on humanity forsaking His deity. And He willingly endured the agonizing penalty of all our sin on our behalf. All He asks is that we trust and walk with Him.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16. 17

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

The translation I am most familiar with of the above verse is “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

You may find rest listening to the pounding of ocean waves, watching the changing colors of a sunset, or watching the movement of shadows as the sun moves across the sky. You may find it in a treasured book. The desert, the mountains or the oceans may be your happy place. But even when we can’t be there, God has asked us to take a break, to rest. I invite you to give yourself permission to practice the discipline of rest. It may not be a Sunday for you. But devote a day to abstaining from the turmoils of busyness and walk humbly with your God, and you will find rest for your soul.

Cheryl

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

Prayers, Paintbrushes and Piano Keys!

I was wondering if I should change the name of my website to ”Prayers, Paintbrushes and Piano Keys” this week. Doesn’t it just have a ring to it? Of course I won’t change it, 🤩 but I share this with joy because like so many, I missed so much of my life this past year. This week I was invited to be at the piano a bit more often for our traditional church worship time as we slowly bring back Choir, Music! Singing! 🎶 Celebrating Jesus and celebrating life! ✨ A week from Sunday we celebrate Easter and His resurrection. This majestic celebration brings such JOY to so many as we raise our voices together in song!

I love being busy, and I wonder if you can relate —-? All has been so quiet on so many fronts for so long, but it seems it is beginning to change. Do you see it? Do you feel a frisson (I love that word!) of joy surprising you lately? There are people out walking and occasionally smiling (with teeth!), there are cars in parking lots, small groups at restaurants, and life seems to be returning to normal in some ways, at least in our communities. It is so encouraging! SPRING is BRINGING a NEW RESURRECTION this year🌻 with hope for a return to maybe a “new normal.” We hope for reconnections with family and friends, a NEW APPRECIATION for relationships, for activities, for life itself that seemed to drain away with each passing month in this last difficult year of 2020.

In this beautiful springtime, I will live my life with newfound hope. I will start by polishing my piano keys and leading people back into singing, worshiping, and making a joyful noise to the Lord. I will also pull out my paintbrushes now and again to try to capture a bit of the majesty of our Creator in our world. I will Attempt to encourage those the Lord has given me, to enjoy this spring season of life and hope.

For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. . .”” 1 Peter‬ ‭3:10-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What is YOUR Music? What have you almost forgotten this past year that you need to remember or relearn? I confess I need to relearn walking, moving, YOGA – oh my gosh- I miss yoga! There are so many things that seemed to be taken from us. But we can all take babysteps. I pray each of us would begin the process of healing by looking UP and OUT and reaching a hand to help someone up from their darkness. We also might seek to give ourselves permission to live our lives and to find JOY and WONDER in the process. Many have been lost in all that this last year has wrought, and we remember and seek to comfort those who grieve. For those of us who remain, we ask that we might celebrate the gift of life and the amazing Truth of Resurrection as we move forward one baby step at a time.

Praying blessings and a Song of Spring over you today.

Where Is Your Focus?

View of the Peak

I am trying to keep my eyes focused on positivity at this time – and it is easy for me to get distracted. So much of the news discourages me. I am so weary of virus and vaccine numbers, but I find everlasting peace and hope at the feet of Jesus. Will you walk alongside Him with me? Can we encourage one another to believe God for His promises? I need people in my life and the shortage of people around has been painful for me.

I started reading a book on Revelation so here is a book report for you! It has the craziest looking cover but the content and illustrations are very well done. Called “The Non-prophet’s Guide to the Book of Revelation,” written and illustrated by Todd Hampson, “it cuts through the complexity and confusion, is entertaining and user-friendly, and full of fascinating visuals, timelines and charts.” I highly recommend it if you are thinking this might be a good time to look into end-times prophetic Bible study.

We all feel like we’re in a valley these days and sometimes the shadows seem deep. It is my hope that art can turn a comforting light into our moments of darkness. I LOVE painting my home state, Arizona! Cactuses, sunsets, mountains, rivers~ They all make me grab my paintbrushes. Today I am sharing beauty I have found in the desert mountains that points my focus to the Master Designer and Creator. I hope you enjoy these paintings and that they help to remind you to look up . . .

“I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” Psalms‬ ‭121:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Below is a slide show of Arizona paintings. I love our beautiful state. They are from my Arizona Dreaming Gallery. Please click on the link to view these and more.


Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Cheryl