Indelible

The artist chooses sea green and sweeps it onto the canvas. The basic outline has been completed and she now releases herself to place life in the picture with her creative eye. The first lines provided the impression of what was to be, but as layer upon layer of colour is added, the message of the art comes alive.

The designer of this project, a writer, had a vision of how the art would show her message. As they spoke of styles and meanings the artist realized the importance of this assignment. The designer herself would be enjoying the finished piece. She did not plan to showcase it, but if someone were to notice she would willingly share the meaning of each element and what they meant within the piece.

20180908_232933 (6)The artist chooses a simple brown to add shading to the open book, whose pages were fluttering as though a breeze from the bird’s wing had lifted them.

 

20180908_232933 (5)20180908_232933 (4)Across the book, she places a quill pen. The nib has a small cross design that holds the ink and is tipped in blood red. This tip is connected to the quill, tied to the peacock feather by purple wrapping. At the end of the wrap where the feather fronds begin, hangs a white cross with a red bead in the center.

 

20180908_232933 (3)The artist creates the feather with multiple jewel tones, paying special attention to shading and emphasizing the “eye of God,” the circular design on a peacock feather. Delicate beads are attached to the feather stem the length of the colourful fronds.

 

 

20180908_232933 (2)Opposite the feather but reaching to equal height in the design, the bird stretches his wings in flight. He is not brightly coloured like the peacock feather but is shaded to show delicate feathers. Wispy swirls are placed throughout the picture, connecting the elements and giving life to the moving air that lifts the pages of the book.

 

 

20180908_232933 (8)The artist stands back to examine her work. The placement, the colours, the shading, the individual elements, and the complete effect. The canvas was not smooth and perfect. It had been creased and was discoloured in places. However, the design cut through those scars, so the eye was no longer drawn to them. She touched up a place or two and added one more wisp of wind.

 

 

Finally, the artist chooses the final colour. The bright red would both add to and distract from the rest of the picture. She letters with blood the title of the piece under the book and quill.

 

“My Story is Eternal”

 

The artist is pleased, so steps back to allow the canvas to rise and make her way to the mirror. The designer gazes at her newly tattooed chest and draws a quick breath.

 

“How beautiful!” she whispers, a catch in her throat. Tears well inside her heart but do not complete the journey to her eyes. She has been drained dry by the last few years. Now she is simply grateful, awed, excited.

 

“The scars are not completely covered, but my eyes are not drawn to them. Even the radiation tattoo dot has disappeared!” The designer, herself the canvas, sees her message and is amazed at the fine lines of truth.

 

20180908_232933The book; her life, her journey, her story. She is a writer. She knew all the difficult stories in that book. Childhood sexual abuse. Confusion, loneliness, tears. Breast cancer treatments and mastectomies. Her husband’s near-fatal cancer. SAD, depression, deep pits of darkness – mental health struggles developed from her childhood, years of exposure to traumatic events through her work, and now life-changing surgery. Yet over, throughout, and around the pages was comfort, protection, and hope.

The eye of God. “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me,” she hummed the Gospel hymn based on Psalm 32:8, Matthew 6:26, and Matthew 10:29-31.

The dove, God’s Spirit hovering in every circumstance, causing holy winds and healing breezes to move through her heart.

The cross, the blood of her Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ, promising healing, purpose, and hope to come from life’s scourging. Eternal comfort.

 

**************

 

Writing stories of my life builds my faith as I see how God has been present in each detail. Faith provides hope in my stories. Both faith and writing are indelibly tattooed into my life.

Because of God, my story is eternal.

 

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”                                         Romans 5:1-5 (New Living Translation

 

 

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Joy or Laughter?

Tears of JoyDo you prefer laughter or joy? Or are they the same thing? Or does one produce the other?

My post on Inscribe Writers Online shares a couple times of laughter in my life as I pray that God will continue to fill my heart with His joy.

It is called Humour in my Life.

InScribeFall ConferenceDo you like to tell humorous stories? Are you artistic? The Inscribe Fall Conference is coming up in September and I would love for you to join me there. This year it is in Wetaskawin, Alberta, just outside of Calgary. Check it out at the Fall Conference page of Inscribe.

As Autumn is fast approaching, remember in the change of season to plan creativity time into your life. Creativity can take any form from writing, drawing, playing an instrument, acting, painting, colouring, sewing or knitting, designing, crafting, photography, or any kind of activity that helps you create. Creativity helps you better process life, heal from the hard times in life, and develops God’s creative character in your daily life. Invest in your relationship with God and in caring for yourself by finding your creative streak.

The Rest of the Song

canada-159585_1280Canada Day fell on a Sunday this year and in our church service, we sang “O Canada.” Did you know there were more words to the song adopted as our national anthem? In fact, there have been a variety of tunes and lyrics written by various people throughout our 151 years as a country.

The best-known version, sung at sporting and other public events, is only the first verse and chorus of the most popular of the renditions, written by  Robert Stanley Weir in 1908, with the fourth verse added in 1926, and updated by him again in 1938. That first portion was selected as the official Canadian National Anthem in 1980.

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Rhythm and Rhyme

pexels-photo-371954.jpeg

Poetry.

Do you read poetry? Do you write poetry?

Sometimes rhythm and rhyme flow from my pen to draw a poem. Most often I do not set out to write poetry, yet some things are not able to be expressed in any other way. To write a paragraph or a page would be to say too much, to explain too much, to draw lines that box you in. A poem outlines a moment of thought and lets the reader colour in the meaning from their own experience.

My post this month on the Inscribe Writers’ Online Blog, titled “I Write, Therefore I Am” is one of those poems that came when I was trying to write something completely different. Yet this poem says it all. And this poem leaves so much unsaid. You, the reader, may expand the words to provide meaning for you.

dandelion-1931080_1920Colour outside the lines. Use a paintbrush, a broken crayon, or even lipstick. Let the creative nature in you free to fly with the wild wind as you respond to the rhythm and rhyme of poetry.

Words are my creative outlet. I believe creativity puts colour into our lives and provides a way for us to appreciate beauty. What kind of creative outlet flows from you? Music? Art? Dance? Photography? Lego?

Tell me, what is your poetry?

Mud Season

We are in between Winter and Spring. Perhaps still a little closer to Winter, or Second Winter as some say than to Spring, as we still have snow falling. I know the flowers are under this white layer, though, just waking up and beginning to stretch so when the sun throws off the blanket of winter, they will jump out of bed and stretch tall to begin their joyous dance of summer.

Where I live in northern Canada, we have another season between Winter and Spring. I call it mud season when the snow is mostly gone but the ground has not dried completely or been overtaken by the green grass.

mud-1332495_1920Everything ends up with a layer of thick dirt that has been thrown up from the roads or tramped in on shoes. It’s not a long season. Mostly mud season only lasts a few days or a week. But the havoc it can cause in that short time!

Some of us make the best of it by putting on rubber boots and slopping through the puddles, very much like we shuffle through the leaves in Autumn… except the mud sticks to us like sin.

Speaking of sin… (how did you like that little segue?) This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The people cheered for who they thought would be a new earthly King.

Now we are in Holy Week. This is the week when the people realized Jesus was not to be an earthly King but also did not understand he was to be their Spiritual King, the Messiah. It is a week to consider how much God loves mankind, proven by his actions during this week.

Growing up I don’t remember being taught about some aspects of the Easter season, like the 40 days of Lent, or being required to give up something for Lent. And I don’t remember ever getting a new outfit to wear to Easter Sunday Service. We went to church every Sunday – most times early for Sunday School, stayed through the morning service, and again in the evening!

Yet I knew Easter Sunday was a special Sunday. Not because of new clothes, or attending church just that one time a year. And certainly not because of Easter egg hunts or chocolate bunnies. Easter was the day we celebrated our Risen Saviour.

God had become mortal and lived among mankind as Jesus – the same Jesus we celebrate the birth of at Christmas. Jesus lived a sinless life, even though he was tempted and lived in a dangerous, fallen world the same as we do. During Holy Week we remember what transpired in his life as he followed his mission to provide the perfect sacrifice so mankind could enjoy the presence of God, a presence most individuals had not known since sin entered our world in the Garden of Eden.

Jesus himself was the sacrifice  – his blood dripped from his body as they nailed him to a cross between two thieves on the “Good Friday” so long ago. He died.

He was buried. His followers were confused.

But on Easter Sunday we celebrate because Jesus did not stay buried. He crashed through the gates of hell and defeated death. Hundreds saw him, talked with him, and touched him after the stone to his gravesite was discovered rolled away. He returned to his glory in Heaven where he speaks to God on behalf of those who believe he was the needed sacrifice and provides eternal life with God.

God did not leave us, though. The Spirit of God came to live not just with but in followers of Christ. The trinity of God is not simply another idol or “inner child”  or a genie to ask for wishes. The Trinity is God the Father, Christ the Son and Saviour, and the Spirit our Guide. They are our living God, the I AM who loves each person, who we trust for salvation, who we worship at special times like Easter, but also every day we claim him as our Lord.

I have friends and family who do not believe any of this for a second. That is their choice and I continue to pray God will pursue them and they will turn to seek him. As for me, I do believe, and I will celebrate the spiritual reason for the Easter weekend. It is so much more than a day or two off work. It is so much more than a family gathering or colouring eggs. It is a day of decision, forgiveness, redemption, and joy because our Saviour lives.

carefree-cheerful-child-459949 (2)My post on the Inscribe Writers Online blog this month is a fictional short story about a little girl in mud season who discovers the meaning of Easter. Take a few moments to read it and leave a comment on that site or on here.

Are you living in mud? Have you been covered in the blood of Jesus to be washed whiter than snow? Is this year the Spring of a new life for you? I pray you will consider the Easter story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and what the truth of this season means to you.

Come to the Table

“Come to the table,” Mom called.

Dad, seven boys, and a girl, me, elbowed our way into the place set for us. The table had one end pushed against the wall with chairs on each side and Mom’s chair at the head so she could move between the kitchen and table. Our places were designated by the colour of plastic Tupperware cup set above the plate. Being the only girl, my cup was pink. Dad sat to the left of Mom, to my right, and my younger brother with his turquoise cup on my other side. If I was quick enough or volunteered to set the table, I could switch my cup with Jonathan’s, so I was not beside Dad.

20170905_142440The table itself was oak with a steam-pressed filigree along the side and five thick, vertically splined legs. Additional sections stretched the middle to fit all of us. This piece of furniture was old, already second-hand when it came to the family before I was born. The original stain was worn by years of washing after dirty hands, bumping chairs, and dropped utensils. Some marks cut deep into the grain, testifying to the daily use of this gathering place.

At Christmas, when the older girls and sometimes “stray” guests came home, more leaves were added. My younger brother and I, and sometimes a couple of the boys just older than me, were relegated to a folding card table in the kitchen while the rest of the place settings were shuffled to accommodate more people.

The table was central to our family life. We ate in shifts at breakfast and on Tuesday evenings to accommodate various activities. We celebrated birthdays with a simple cake and Dad’s many verses to the Happy Birthday song. Mom worked cryptogram puzzles or read her Bible while listening to a radio preacher and many kids coloured or did homework at this central room of our home.

Over the years children moved on, spreading across the country. Extra sectional leaves were removed from the table as the place settings diminished.

With the nest empty, Mom and Dad decided to move closer to Granny-Gran. They sold the only house I had ever seen them in, along with much of the furniture and kitchen items. I asked about the table. It was also up for sale. I asked if I could buy it and promised we could pick it up, even though we lived 12 hours away. I sent a cheque and called my in-laws, who lived in the same town as my parents. They picked up the table to keep until we could travel down. A couple months later, seeing the table flooded my head, heart, and stomach with memories. Some were good memories, but also came painful memories of a confusing childhood.

“Come to the table,” I called to my children. The table was tired, worn out, and squeaky. When the halves wouldn’t stay together anymore we packed it away, planning to one day refurbish it.

Years passed. We moved several times, taking the table along and again saying that someday we would fix it.

20170905_142453At one point we asked a hand-tool woodworking friend to see what he could do to tighten up the joints. He sanded a couple edges, replaced wooden dowels that matched the originals, and suggested it needed more work. Once again it was stored until we had time and finances.

This summer my husband was cleaning the garage and decided it was time. He set the center leg on sawhorses and began to sand. Three weeks later, the detail and splines of that first leg were finished, ready for stain or paint. Taking a break from the labour-intensive legs, he attached some buckles to the underside of the table top to hold it together. He sanded the worn top surface and gouges to reveal the beautiful oak wood. Many of the dents that damaged the table were too deep to sand out completely, but they added character and memories, so he left them.

The patterned steam-pressed sides posed some difficulty. Even hand sanding the delicate pattern could damage it, but the original stain was still quite dark, and we worried the design would not be seen if we just painted over it. The other legs, too, had damage from chairs knocking against them, so while they were sanded, these splines were left with the dark stain inside, unlike the first leg. Choosing a stain slightly lighter than the original finish, Wally brushed the pigment into the wood. He covered the stain with a diamond coat lightly sanding between coats. There was little difference between the first, center leg, and the last four. The finished table had the colouring and shine  I imagine the original table looked like. It was fabulous.

20171006_155613We brought the finished table into our dining room to once again be used as a gathering place. For just us, we don’t need any leaves added, but we have them for when family, friends, or strangers visit.

Why would I want the table of my childhood in my home, a reminder of pain and confusion from a difficult time of life?

I believe that, like the table, I have been redeemed and made like new. Not all scars are taken away for they are too deep to completely remove. Some are needed to add to the beauty of life. Rough areas remain where struggles have knocked against me. I am worn by repeated fears and disappointments.

Like this table, I am sanded down and stained with the blood of Christ to reveal a beauty despite my broken, squeaky, patina. Christ is not done placing clear coats on me, yet even now I see He is revealing His handiwork even as He continues His work in me.

20171006_155607One day we will be called to come to His banquet table. I picture my place set there, with the table showing some of the scars of my life that God has healed but left visible to remind me of how He sands my soul. The table will be crowded so I will bump elbows with others He has invited; perhaps those who caused my deep scars as well as those who are helping them heal.

Another reason I treasure this table is the purpose it has as a gathering place for family, friends, and guests. Beyond physical nourishment, meeting together around a table brings nourishment to our relationships as games are played or food and conversations are shared. It is a place to be creative, to learn, and to celebrate. Young and old, family or friend or stranger, we are included.

Jesus invites us to remember Him whenever we take communion. This is also an invitation to commit to being part of His family here on earth, in our present lives, gathering at His table. There, He feeds our souls, wipes our tears, calms our fears, and lets us rub elbows to experience Godly relationships with others who also gather there as part of His Kingdom family.

Will you join me?

Come to the table.

 

(more photos below)

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