Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Pelicans

(images are in the public domain)

The following is a guest post.

The Pelicans
By Betty Doyle

We sat by the ocean where the river
Met the writhing swells of the jetty,
And far out at sea the darkness
Was threatening already.
The mighty waves crashed relentlessly
In huge mountains of spray;
Each followed the other
To wear the rocks away.
The winds picked up and swept
The clumps of sea grass
Giving warning that summer days
Were past,
And from the dark gray horizon
We began to see
Birds with long beaks,
As they were starting to flee:
A flock of Pelicans without number,
Heading to the shore;
Their large wings caught the wind
And helped them sail the more.
They dived close over the water,
But their prey they did not see,
Then circled all around,

We watched this performance as ducks
And seagulls joined the rest
As the wind grew worse,
Coming in from the west.
Even a red-winged blackbird
Could be seen,
But the large Pelicans seemed to vanish
From the scene.
The clouds moved in fast, the colors
Seemed to change with the gale,
And soon the pelting rain we heard;
Yet still the gulls did sail.
It was time to leave this panorama
Of Nature’s best;
And as we drove by the harbor we sighted
The flock of Pelicans bedded down to rest.

Copyright 2011 by Betty Doyle.
Used by permission.

This post is also shared with L. L. Barkat's "Seedlings in Stone",
On, In, and Around Mondays

and Laura Boggess' "The Wellspring",
Playdates with God

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Jesus Belongs to Me

You know how it is when you get something stuck in your mind? A song you haven’t thought of in years, suddenly repeats in your head endlessly. Or you keep dreaming and scheming about something you want to do, even though you haven’t time to do one more thing, but already have plenty of things to do already.

A magazine illustration had attracted me for a long time. It had pleasing color contrasts and wispy, feathery lines. I wanted to create something using the same colors, with trailing lines. But the urge always came when I needed to do something else rather urgently. Finally I couldn’t stand it any longer – I needed to create “that look”. Or at least to use those colors.

I settled for some quickie pastel (artist’s chalk) sketches. The illustration was on an attractively streaked blue background. My blue paper was a duller shade, and minus the fetching decorative effects. My pastels weren’t as bright or neon-y as those in the magazine design. The chalk wouldn’t lend itself to the picture’s transparency showing pretty lines underneath parts of the final layers.

But I’d thought of that picture – and postponed action of my own -- for weeks. And I could envision my color combinations making pleasant work. (As a matter of fact, the first foray turned out to be so much fun I got out other colors of paper and quickly made several other squiggly-line drawings.) Thus did my creativity get the “doing of the thing” unstuck from my mind.

I do always try to offer my art, and everything else I do, as a worship to God. As it happened, I also had a song stuck in my mind (an old hymn).
Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me –
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.

I grew tired of my mind echoing the same little chorus over and over. But I couldn’t get the song unstuck from my brain. Along the way, however, the “Jesus belongs to me” part illuminated itself as vividly as my brightly swirled lines were brightening the papers.

We are so often admonished to keep our faith. “A Christian ought not to have doubts.” “Don’t give in the fear.” “Don’t allow negative thoughts.” “God always sends revival when people repent and pray, so if you’re not experiencing revival, you need to repent of not spending enough time with God.” “Don’t lose your first love.” “Give and it shall be given to you.” “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.” “Forsake not the assembly of believers, as some have done.” Agggrrr! There can be so much WORK to being a Christian. So much trying to get it right -- “Now I belong to Jesus” (so I ought to be good, and kind, and holy.) The persons who keep pushing these ideas mean well enough. Certainly I’m not advocating we are to be slackers for God. But all the good advice is enough to wear me out.

But – “Jesus belongs to me!” Well, that says something different to me. Yes, I know we are “in Christ”, that we are born again, that “the Lord inhabits the praises of his people.” I believe his promises (not my own ability to believe, but his faithfulness at “keeping” me). So because “Jesus belongs to me”, I can cheerfully accept the verse from Ephesians chapter 1 that says “and all things happen just as he decided long ago.”

(It’s not that now I’ve had some new revelation that I’d never thought of before. It’s just that the daily burdens of life make me forget who I am in Jesus, and who he is in me. I need all the reminders and refreshings I can get!)

Whew! It’s not my work to “keep” myself. Jesus belongs to me. He won’t let go of my hand. He won’t stop guiding me, comforting me. He continually offers me HIMSELF.

(He’s much better at drawing imaginative, bright scrolly lines in me, in my life-circumstances, than I am of envisioning what he’s working on in me.) Wow! I think I just unstuck my mind, both from hearing that song playing on and on in my head not letting in any other praise-him-song, and from trying to think how I can be the most pleasing to him.

For all of that, I can truly say with the Psalmist, “My lines have fallen in pleasant places.”

copyright 2011 by Marilee Miller

This post is also shared with L. L. Barkat's "Seedlings in Stone" On, In, and Around Mondays
On In Around button

And with Laura Boggess' "The Wellspring" Playdates with God

Monday, October 3, 2011

When Life Isn't Fair.



Some time ago I reported my escapade with a leaky bucket of paint, that left a mess I had to sop up with plenty of paper towels. And I shared how I’d saved the blottings for backgrounds of future artworks.

The paper towel with the thickest soppings was crumpled and gooey and unmanageable. I couldn’t really flatten it onto a newspaper backing. So I left it to dry out while draped loosely over a cardboard box. The paint, of course, stuck to the box – mostly. The drapes and folds protrude, but probably would sag over time from moisture in the air.

I’m an artist who loves to make backgrounds. Sometimes, the odder the better. My intention is always to draw or paint or glue on objects of interest for the foregrounds. But that part of making art scares me! A lot! What if I can’t find or make something that takes best advantage of the blots and scribblings in the background? What if I my point of interest happens to hide the very best part of a dramatic background? What if I don’t like my artwork when I’m done? When am I going to have time to create the wild and wonderful foregrounds I envision in mind? In fact, do I even have the skill to draw and paint, or cut out, the perfect shapes for things I’m not used to drawing?

It’s not fair to have big dreams for art, but not to be sure I can satisfy myself (or others). Will what I make, be worth the long struggle to pull things together? Or will I FAIL, as I often feel like I do?

Maybe first, before I try to create a unified work, I need to lay out some elements. See if I come up with something I like. Interesting colors, or shapes, or sizes, or ??? In this instance, I laid some objects (that just happened to be in the room) with the draped box. I could be as whimsical as I liked, since the objects weren’t meant to be a permanent attachment.

The randomly chosen objects were: A chenille bird (from a rummage sale). A little tree-shrub I’d cut from cardboard. My art abstract: “White half-tailed Manx cat sleeping on rug” (translation: pulled-apart cotton puff, frayed burlap scrap, good imagination).

Quirky, yes. Whimsical. The odd bits and pieces, placed together, made a fun photo! With a background, textures, a foreground, and other interesting points.

Sometimes, our lives seem unfair. We dream of wonderful lives filled with achievements and earthly rewards. We’d like to have good friends and family, a peaceful existence, enough money to live on, enough food to eat, enough deep sense of God in our lives to feel “satisfied” and running over with blessings.

And then “real life” happens. Bad things happen to good people. Almost everyone goes through struggles. Griefs, sorrows, loss, embarrassments, put-downs, abuse. Disappointment, discontent, heartache, failure, poor attitudes, poverty, disease, wars and rumors of wars. A lot of odd pieces get slung at us; we sigh because we can’t make sense of what is happening. We think we’ve been handed more than we can cope with.

I have to keep telling myself that it’s not what happens in this life -- but what I do with what has happened. Scratch that! It’s really what I allow God to work within me. Am I going to be bitter, or better? Do I hate myself for failing, or look for his rainbows? Resent the stones that have tumbled into my path, or ask him to lead me around or over them? Am I too scared to keep trying? Will I dwell on the past until I miss the beauties and the God-gifts of the present moment? Or do I try to see the odd pieces of seeming strangeness or disaster, as lessons in beholding the beauty and presence of the Lord in spite of everything?

I can’t stop all failures. I can’t do away with all fears. I may not be able to change all the textures I have to deal with. It’s natural to feel scared, defenseless, broadsided, hurt or wounded. But I can try – sometimes with gritted teeth or a doubtful heart, to be sure – to keep offering to open my clenched fists. Dear God, I ask you to shape me into the person you meant all along for me to be.


This post is also shared with L L Barkat's "Seedlings in Stone" On, In, or Around Mondays

and Laura Boggess' "The Wellspring" Playdates with God.