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✨

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.

WHAT Do You Want God to Do for You?

I love the author and pastor, Mark Batterson, of National Community Church in Washington, DC. One of his recent books is called “Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God.” It is wonderful and thought provoking reminding us of the many ways we can know God is speaking to us. Obviously, the first place is in His Word, the Bible. A blind man called out to Jesus from the side of the road. Jesus asked Him what seems an obvious question in Luke 18:41

”What do you want me to do for you?”

Mark Batterson said: “We’re out of touch with what we really want. If we don’t know what we want, how are we going to know when we get it? Maybe it’s time to take inventory. What do you want God to do for you? You owe it to Him to answer that question.”

Mark went on to say, “We let the expectations of others override the desires God has put in our hearts.” (pg 92 “Whisper”) Just think about that statement for a minute… Is there something you’ve always had as a secret desire deep in your heart that you have stuffed away?

Let’s each look deep within today sifting through all the COVID clutter to find our one and only true life. This is our now, our gift of breath – our present. We don’t get to do this over. What is a deep longing that You can bring to Jesus’ feet and ask Him to bless and prosper? Are you hiding from a calling because you are afraid of failure? Do you long for a good friend but have fears about their condemnation or disapproval? Do you have something you have always wanted to do or be?

What do you want Jesus to do for you?

Watercolor and writing have always been a secret desire for me. Hidden away in notebooks and closets for a lifetime, I strove to meet the expectations and needs of others oblivious to what God had placed in my heart…until I heard His call and knew it was His time.

What place in your heart aches to be filled? In James 4:2b James says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Those are pretty powerful words… I encourage you to ask Him to clear away the cobwebs and clutter around you and dust off your passions. Go before God and ASK Him for what is deep within You.
It is too easy to fill those empty spaces with very wrong things: eating too much, falling into depression, unwise choices. None of us are strangers to these things…So I pray honesty, vulnerability, WISDOM and TRUST in this process.

One of my favorite promises of Scripture is Psalm 37:4. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

What is your heart’s desire today? Are you lonely, frustrated, fearful, hiding? Is there a secret part of you that wants to poke your head out and shine? ASK Him. TRUST Him. BELIEVE Him. Because He sees you as you sit by the road. He only wants to know from your heart, what it is you need from Him. And maybe more than anything, you need Jesus Himself.