MY STORY – Prayers & Paintbrushes🎨

On a Hill Far Away

Every week I come to ‘this place’ asking the Lord to give me a message of encouragement, direction, and/or hope to share. I felt a strong pull on my heart many years ago to post something other than memes and political wrangling on social media. My weekly ”blog” was birthed on my Prayers and Paintbrushes Facebook page. It has been almost a year and a half that I have had an official blog on my prayersandpaintbrushes website and though one soul may read my words – or 100 – each soul is prayed over. I am retired after a lifetime of working. I never thought retirement would be a possibility and I certainly never thought I’d be writing a blog let alone being a watercolor artist with well over 300 watercolors and a website! Today I feel led to share a little bit of my story hoping it might encourage you to keep on keeping on – regardless of where you find yourself today.

At the age of 60 I was living a new chapter of my life. Recently divorced and living alone for the first time ever, I never expected to marry again. Several years later without one blind date or attempt at internet matching, I did marry again – a wonderful newly widowed gentleman I had known slightly from church and my office. At the age of 65 I was a bride! A year later I found myself unexpectedly retired and after over a year of soul-searching and even trying to find work again, with my husband’s encouragement and support, I realized it was OK for me to be retired. But I am a bit of a social butterfly and I missed the daily interaction and purpose for my days.

At the invitation of a friend to a painting party, I picked up paintbrushes and wasn’t able to put them down! That single time event became a catalyst for another new chapter in my life. in 2016, Prayers and Paintbrushes was born. I have painted commission people, pets and places and prayed with each painting that I wouldn’t screw it up! That’s where “Prayers and Paintbrushes” originated. Shortly after I began sharing my artwork on Facebook I felt the urge to point to my Source of hope and direction and my writing career began.

I share this very abbreviated story to share these thoughts with you… I am in my 70’s. Much of the world looking at my age would think my life is finished – I have nothing left to contribute. But I beg to differ. Speaking for ANYONE of ANY AGE reading these words, I remind you your life isn’t over until it’s over. Regardless where you find yourself, God can use and bless you. Seek Him! ASK HIM! Invite Him in and ask Him to show up and show off in your life! He loves you. He has a plan for you even if you cannot even begin to see it. You may have one day left of your life! Some reading this may feel that is truth. Some may have have decades left – but we can only live one day at a time REGARDLESS of how many we have left. Give that day to the One who can in all things work for good – in your life and through your life.

In a very dark time many years back, God very literally spoke this verse to me:

I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper YOU and not to harm you, plans to give you A hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart“ Jeremiah 29:11-13

Even when I could not see the reality of these words, I clung to them. I pounded on the gates of heaven and reminded God I was believing Him for these words to be true in my life. And he’s been faithful and true. CALL on Him. Come and PRAY to Him. SEEK Him with ALL your Heart. Believe Him even in your disbelief! FAITH doesn’t mean knowing – it means trusting.

What does God want of me, of you? He wants us to give our lives to Him and believe Him for the outcome.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16, 17

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6

Whether one person hears these words I write and finds our Savior, or one hundred, I lay this effort at His feet. I seek to be used by Him with or without my paintbrushes. Please comment or message me privately if you need encouragement as you live out your story✨

For Those You Have Given Me, Lord~

I am thinking this morning about the many people God has put in my life. Much if not most of the time, we are very caught up in what is going on in our own lives. Self-focused are we! But we were made for relationship, so most of us count those we know as an important part of the fabric of our lives. Facebook, which is often a bit intrusive, is still important to me because it gives me a window into the heart, mind and lives of some of the people I care about. It enables me to (hopefully, prayerfully) make comments to encourage rather than inflame. But Facebook certainly is not the best platform to reach those we care about.

This morning I feel the weight of concern for family and friends who are struggling. I’ve often been torn almost literally to pieces by the emotional baggage of someone else’s burdens. Can anyone relate? I’ve had to learn to ‘let go and let God’ take care of what is not mine to handle. Over time, I’ve realized that I cannot edit someone else’s life story. I cannot fix ‘their broken.’ But there are things I can do when someone I care about is hurting. I can reach out with words spoken or written. I can reach out without words by a hug or a gesture – even just an “I see you – I understand” look. I can think out of the box and ask the Lord to help me know how I might encourage them or brighten their day by doing something spontaneous or unexpected.

But I believe the best thing I can do is to pray. The very best! No, not the least or the only thing I can do. Praying is the best thing! In supernatural ways we cannot even begin to fathom, God drew us into relationship with Him and one of the outcomes of His great love impacts our relationships with one another. How AMAZING that my pitiful words to God can somehow have an impact in someone’s life! How can that be? It is certainly beyond my understanding. Some verses from the Bible which tell of the power of prayer:

“Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16   

“God is my refuge and strength. He is an ever present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

There are too many promises to share more here, but my prayer today is that someone reading these words will trust the Lord today to handle something burdening their spirit and grieving their heart. I pray that someone who feels unequal to the task of lightening someone else’s load – let alone carrying their own – would pray and ask God to speak encouragement and direction. I pray those who are struggling, anxious, or fearful, would hear the voice of the Lord possibly because someone else prayed over them.

Lord, we cannot fix, nor can we heal. But we know who can and who does. I pray we might lay those burdens weighing on our hearts today at Your feet. I ask You, who knows and sees all, to take care of those who desperately need a touch from You! And I ask You to lift the weight of these burdens from our collective shoulders and lay them where they belong – in Your grace-filled, loving, and powerful arms. Because there is power in Your name, we pray

in Jesus’ name. AMEN✨

In This World You Will Have Tribulation

But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. These are the words of Jesus Christ, spoken to His disciples about the “end of the age” in John 16:33. The end of the age seems to be getting closer by the minute. The news is not good, the state of our country and our world so discouraging.

SO, I cling to the hope that these times are no surprise to the Creator and Author of The Book. The Bible warns us from cover to cover of how things would look as we neared the times most famously illustrated in the book of Revelation…but don’t skip Isaiah, Ezekial, Daniel, or Romans just to name a few.

Desiring to seek to encourage and brighten a dark world as best I am able, I point to Jesus for truth and hope. But I also share my watercolors because it is my gift to hopefully shower some brightness and color into your world. Know that as I share these words, there are heavy prayers in my heart – for miracles and for redemption – to flood in every direction. Jesus’ name is POWERFUL! His is the only name people swear by, have you ever considered that? There is a reason – and it is because there is great power in His name. So I pray, in JESUS’ NAME, for the healing of our land and the future of our world. Amen✨

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

WHAT MATTERS MOST?

My friends, husband and I went to hear a powerful speaker all the way from Israel yesterday. It was fascinating to me that most of what he said as he was sharing the amazing history of this tiny nation, came straight out of the Old Testament: a lot of words from Ezekial, from the Psalms, from Isaiah. And then he’d pop back into the New: John, Romans, Revelation. And it was all as current as today’s news. Understandably, today’s news is hard to come by as impartial truth~ But when we find the real truth, the reality is startling. I invite you to “Behold Israel. ” The NEWS section may truly be news to you!

In listening to all that was said yesterday and processing the truth that God has let us know what was going to happen – and has happened – and what will happen in the days ahead, we see a Big Picture that we mostly ignore in our daily lives. God has spoken to us so we would listen to Him and TRUST HIM. He IS who He says He is (“I AM WHO I AM”) It is important to consider the message He has left for us. He has given us a roadmap of what lies ahead.

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭46:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We have an opportunity to really think what that means for us – God really wants us to TRUST His words! He wants us to search Him out. As we do that, we are brought to a place where we have to evaluate what really matters in this life. We have become terribly divided and even the people who make up the church have fallen prey to that tactics of the dark side – division and separation. Jesus said the greatest commandment is that we love one another, not that we fight over who is right.

So my plan today is to look up. To consider what God most wants of me. How can I be a blessing and extend hope where so many feel hopeless. I paint watercolors, for goodness sake – I’m not a preacher~ But he asks us to be a light to the world. So my effort this morning is to shine light where you are this day; to encourage you to seek Him out! He sent His Son to make things right for us if we would only believe – and receive His gifts of forgiveness, grace, and redemption. . . Which will open to us the gates of Heaven.

Praying You will seek the Savior and find everlasting hope this day. Just ask Him!

A Waylon Jennings/ God Story

I think The Lord has a sense of humor and sometimes just wants to get our attention in a way that brings a big astonished smile to our face. That happened this past weekend when driving back from our 4th of July trip. We stopped for lunch in a small town at a truckstop restaurant that had quotes from famous people all over the walls and in back of the booths. There weren’t many people there so we just aimlessly walked to the back and sat in a booth. We looked over the menu, ordered, then waited to be served.

I opened my iPad to look at “Facebook news,” catching up on the posts of friends and families I had missed over the last few days. I came across the post with the picture you see me pointing to. My friend had found this long-ago photo taken back in the 70’s with Waylon Jennings, a country music star who first became well known back then. My husband loves anything “guitar” so I showed him this photo.

I closed my iPad then suddenly my husband opened his eyes really wide and said, “Did you say that was Waylon Jennings?” He looked absolutely astonished as he pointed at the quote behind my head which I hadn’t seen. I turned around and right behind me in the booth I was sitting, was a quote from the man in this picture, Waylon Jennings!

What are the odds of that happening? I can’t even begin to fathom that! I had such a sense that the Heavenly Host were getting a huge smile out of this! My immediate thought was that God is watching over us all the time. Nothing escapes His notice. He is always ready to intervene, to bless us, to rescue us – or even astonish us! As we were driving away from the restaurant, my husband was pulled over by a highway patrolman for “speeding” at 67 mph. We hadn’t seen the sign that changed the speed limit from 65 to 55 mph. The officer was very nice and kindly just gave us a warning… We looked at each other when that was over and I said, “THAT was a Waylon Jennings moment!” God showed us again He IS watching over and protecting us. Always.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139: 1-5

The 139th chapter of Psalms is one of my very favorite Psalms. I sang it back in the day as a solo called, “You Are There,” by Dan Burgess. (This is a recording sung by Cynthia Clawson and the message and music will bless you. God’s Word is not only beautiful poetry but profound truth. I pray the knowledge that He IS intimately concerned and aware of you and all you are doing and enduring speaks to Your heart. Maybe it encourages you or maybe it alarms you. But He is the Creator and mighty God; omniscient and omnipresent. Wanting to have you reach your hand up to His and hold fast. The only way you can escape Him is to once and for all turn your back on Him.

Cheryl