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✨

I Will Lift Up My Eyes

I live in the Grand Canyon state. Most people living anywhere in the world can identify this breathtaking piece of real estate. If you are standing at the rim, you will look down and across and as many times as you may have seen it in photographs, your mind can barely grasp the awe of what lies before you. If you make the significant effort to hike down to the bottom you will most definitely be looking up, possibly seeing the same place but from an entirely different perspective. Your perpective matters.

My heart hurts over the tangles and knots of this past year. Many people we love, trust and respect are separated from us by distance or by opinion. FEAR seems to be the word of 2020/21. I propose we replace the word fear with these words:

Giving and Blessing

One of God’s greatest gifts is the gift of giving. “It is better to give than to receive.” These words are attributed to Jesus in Acts 20:35 when Paul said, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

This has been a hard concept that has taken a lifetime of learning for me! In one of the most amazing verses in the Bible God says this: “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” Malachi‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭RSV‬‬ Test me in this, God says. This is not prosperity gospel. This is God saying I have made the world to operate this way. Obey me and see if I do not bless you in return.

There were times in my life I had absolutely nothing to give but the gift of encouragement. It cost nothing other than paying attention to and investing in relationships with others. There is joy in giving our time in service to needs in our community and in obedience to His calling and nudges on our heart. And we can seek to be more intentional in ways that will bless people who are really struggling. So many are emotionally wounded and hiding behind doors and masks desperately hoping to find their real life return to them! So where we are now and in whatever place we feel confident to stand, I pray we would test God in this, and reach out to others as we are able in obedience to His direction. We cannot take any of it with us: time, talent, or treasure. Help us be blessed to be a blessing, Jesus.

Lord, we most desperately would love to see our world as you see it! Your perspective is so much higher than ours. We see through a glass darkly, as Paul says. In these days where so many of us are weary and discouraged, I pray You would help us to look UP!

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.” Psalms‬ ‭121:1-8‬ ‭RSV‬‬

So as You give to us Your protection and Your watchcare, Lord, I pray You would enable us to be wise and to seek Your leading that we might spread JOY and HOPE in these days. Help us to see as You see and love as You love. Thank You for Your grace and forgiveness, and that You reached down and offered us the incredible GIFT of YOURSELF in Jesus.

We give You this day, Lord, in Jesus’ name. AMEN

Painful Memories Dusted Off

This morning I am sharing very personal thoughts. I find myself sifting through the dusty cobwebs of time and memory going back 30, 40 years.

I am revisiting past feelings of inadequacy, confusion, loss and insufficiency, Lord. So many years ago I was caught in a life that was very painful and lonely. As I prayed and struggled my way through the stormy waters of my life, I was fearful to share my love of You with others. I felt I had no words anyone would want to hear. My only platform back then was my singing voice and I sang praises to You. I was a soloist, in a woman’s emsemble, and choir for a very long time. I always felt there was an incredible emotional and spiritual connection when music connected with lyrics and touched someones’ heart. You gave me words. Now in these present days, I no longer have that “voice.” I can no longer sing as I could then. The loss of my singing voice has been an adjustment for me, I confess. Yet You still give me words! The voice You have given me in these days is with the brush strokes of my paints and the written word.

Heading Home

How amazed I am Lord. I hardly know how to process this life You have given me. I am unworthy of Your Love! Yet You have given me Your worthiness and used this cracked and broken vessel to hopefully encourage others through their stormy waters. I pray for those who feel they are drowning where they might be today – they are not! You are there as they reach out and grab the lifeline of Your presence to save them. You are faithful and worthy of praise. I LOVE YOU, LORD and am speechless before You. Holy Spirit, I pray You would speak through these written words to encourage someone this day.

Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us. 2 Cor. 4:7

Surely Goodness & Mercy Shall Follow Me…

Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if goodness or mercy are following anyone. I know many who are profoundly struggling and the battles on all sides seem interminable. We look around our communities and wonder how we could have gotten to such a place! We are harangued by COVID numbers and warnings and concerned about those we love, jobs and businesses are lost, and fear keeps us apart and seems to be shutting down our world.

There are many ways we can and should individually choose to deal with the issues of our “Roaring 20’s” world. We do need to be wise, compassionate and thoughtful as we confront the challenges facing us. And everyone will have a different position or platform. I choose to focus on how best I can continue to love on and bless those God has given me as well as seeking wisdom to deal with the times in which we find ourselves.

In spite of all that seems upside down these days, I trust the promises of God and the wisdom on His Word. Psalm 23 verse 6 begins, “Surely Your goodness and love (mercy) will follow me all the days of my life…” The original word “follow” is PURSUE. God is chasing after us in His effort to rescue His lambs. He is our Great Shepherd and we are certainly lost sheep! ”Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me; your rod and staff comfort me.” God’s shepherd tools guide, direct, and sometimes discipline us for our protection and safety. He is our Gatekeeper. He IS your Savior.

You may feel like a woman walking alone in stormy weather. But the Lord has not abandoned you. Your Heavenly Father and good Shepherd will never let you go. Seek Him, I pray. Confess your need of Him and give Him your anxieties – He is faithful and strong to carry them on Your behalf. After all, He gave His life to save you…

“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on YOUR understanding. In all you do acknowledge HIM, and He WILL direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5, 6

Praying for you today✨

Good News Christmas 2020

Good News of great joy for all people.” An angel showed up and reduced the shepherds to abject terror when he appeared to them and spoke this message. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah (Christ), the Lord.” Luke 2:11. Of course the first words the angel said were, “Do not be afraid,” because being terrified is a natural response to being approached by such a powerful Heavenly being! God sent His mighty angel and His warrior armies to bring Good News and sing a spine-tingling chorus of Hallelujahs to the lowliest of the low that first Christmas.

We’ve heard this Christmas message so often. May I insert us into this setting? This morning I pray we would experience the angel as did the shepherds; wherever you are sitting, whatever you are stressing over, however anxious or disappointed you may be feeing at this moment – this powerful Angel messenger has come to YOU and speaks to you in your fear. DO NOT BE AFRAID. His news is GOOD NEWS. It is for YOU – this Savior has been born to YOU. He is for you, he loves you, he is a gift given to you from Almightly God Himself.

Good News of Great Joy

Regardless of the disappointments, painful losses, and mindbending circumstances ALL of us have endured this past year, the Christmas story tells us that God is with us – Immanuel. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23

So Do not be afraid.

Christmas looks very different this year. Our plans changed at every turn. Annual traditions took a leave of absence for 2020, parties and get togethers were replaced with ZOOM. And singing ~ well, heavenly choirs singing “The Hallelujah Chorus” from years past were enjoyed online as I sang from my car.

Even so, Lord Jesus, we celebrate Your presence with us this Christmas. We need You and are grateful You make Your presence known to us. In spite of our fears, our disappointments, and yes our confusion, we ask for the JOY of Your great love to fill us this week as we love on those around us: our neighbors, co-workers, family and friends – even if it is remotely!

Praying you will seek the gifts of the King of Kings this Christmas: among them being love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, joy, peace and the very presence of God Himself.