Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6,7

“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well-pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; when having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build the new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim. Stir us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes, and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope and love.

Robert L. Darwell 

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(detail from a collage)

Making collages is a favorite medium for me; it is quick and allows me to put pieces together into a whole. This is a snippet from a collage about seeking the artist’s way.  Sometimes there is a theme that evolves, sometimes not. Sometimes there are words and pictures, sometimes just pictures.  Skirt Magazines are a favorite source for making collages…I try to glean something meaningful from the pages that are full of superficial ads for plastic surgery and botox specials.  Today is Saturday, time to play!  I hope there will be artist whispers I can hear!

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God Has Not Forgotten You

When I start something new, something that makes me feel vulnerable because I am taking a risk in sharing myself, it isn’t long before doubts and a wave of fear washes over me.  The inner critic, who over-analyzes the worthiness of my efforts, rises up and shouts “Who do you think you are? You are a nobody so who cares what you have to say?!”  I have spent my entire adult life fighting this battle of the mind and as a result I have often shrunk back allowing it to weaken my resolve or, even worse, to crush my creativity.  I see it happen to other artists who are courageous enough to keep fighting the battle in spite of many rejections and obstacles, but their battle scars are showing.  I know each of us matter and so do our voices.  Whether you have a story to tell, a picture to paint, a song to sing, a race to run, or a mountain to climb, I think we all have something to say or something we must do that is worthy. I truly believe our hopes and dreams are God-given and creativity is the birthright of EVERY human being.  I try to encourage creative efforts whenever I see them and especially when I am touched or inspired by them.  We can’t see ahead on the path, we don’t know where the art, the dreams we have, or life will lead us, but I am learning to simply take the next step, however small it might be.  So, if you are a comrade on the journey, whatever it may be, and you, too, know the battle of which I speak, these lyrics I wrote over a decade ago when I was battle-weary are for the both of us:

God has not forgotten you. You are His child and He loves you.

Turn now to Him and He’ll be there, God has not forgotten you.

When the door slams in your face, when the road seems long and dreary…

Hear Him calling, feel His grace, Hear these words when you’re weary:

God has not forgotten you. You are His child and He loves you.

Turn now to Him and He’ll be there, God has not forgotten you

When you feel rejected by the world, when the search for love brings only hate…

Hear Him calling from your unfurled heart, Hear these words and humbly wait:

God has not forgotten you. You are His child and He loves you.

Turn now to Him and He’ll be there, God has not forgotten you.

When your light has turned to gray, when you feel alone and broken…

Hear Him calling, for you He prays, Hear these words softly spoken:

God has not forgotten you.  You are His child and He loves you.

Turn now to Him and He’ll be there, God has not forgotten you.”

If it weren’t for the boiling August heat, this is where I’d like to be right now…watching the tide come in and out on Turkey Creek, in my own backyard.  Living in a house so close to a swamp (“marsh” is the politically correct term if you are in real estate) is a bittersweet blessing.  On the one hand, there is endless beauty and peace that inspires me to draw; on the other, when circumstances align (like the alignment of planets, almost) such as a full moon, high tide, and a four to six inch sudden downpour, the backyard becomes a lake and, once in a great while, my husband’s studio (a.k.a enclosed garage) gets cleansed, much like baptism by immersion.  We have learned to cope with this disappointing situation by not keeping valuables on the floor, though sometimes we forget and get caught by surprise (such as the night about a year ago when our daughter was in a wreck during a rainstorm and while we went to be with her on the side of the interstate, our son was at home dealing with the flooded studio!  We didn’t care a lick about the damaged stuff because we were so grateful she was okay!).  Even though this is the bitter part of the blessing, it is still very sweet to appreciate this beautiful place on our tiny “island” on Turkey Creek and feel like we hear the heartbeat of heaven in the midst of the burbs.  It’s just that sometimes it beats too loud and fast and we get slammed with a double whammy!  Many things in life are like this, I think, and we have to learn to take the bitter with the sweet. 

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Heartbeat of Heaven

Heartbeat of heaven, how can I hear…Your silent rhythm through ev’ry tear?

Heartbeat of heaven, open my ears…Your gentle rhythm quiets my fears.

Heartbeat of heaven, silence my care…be in the quiet pause of my prayer.

Heartbeat of heaven, I hear Your call…You are my comfort, I give You my all.

Heartbeat of heaven, beat in my heart…we are in rhythm in ev’ry part.

Heartbeat of heaven, pull my heartstrings…Your Love is pulsing in living things.

This is the beat of the Lord, feel His Heart pulse in the air.  His is the Voice of accord, come hear His song everywhere.

These are song lyrics I wrote many years ago inspired by a walk on the beach, one of many escape trips for solitude in the midst of raising children.  If there be any good that I do, know that it is because of Christ; and of course I don’t credit Him with the bad, I own it all and ask for His mercy, thankful for the gifts of grace that find me when I’m lost.   

Yesterday I heard the tragic news of two small boys found drowned, still strapped in their carseats and a mother’s part in this horrible event is being investigated. Last month it was a two year old found dead in a concrete filled trash can. How do we hear of such things and not be filled with tears or dread or rage or hate? But for the grace of God there go I. And we must pray for the children as Christ knows each by name…Lord, have mercy.

Hush, little child, little child of God Divine,
God will be here, will be near, sweet child of mine.
Hush little child, little child of God Divine,
Fear not the dark, not the dark, where Light will shine.
Rest little child, little child, angels are near.
They will keep watch, will keep watch, wipe every tear.
Rest little child, little child, angels are here.
You are God’s hope, shining hope, no need to fear.

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“How can you live sweetly amid the vexatious things, the irritating things, the multitude of little worries and frets, which lie all along your way, and which you cannot evade?  You cannot at present change your surroundings.  Whatever kind of life you are to live, must be lived amid precisely the experiences in which you are now moving.  Here you must win your victories or suffer your defeats.  No restlessness or discontent can change your lot.  Others may have circumstances surrounding them, but here are yours.  You had better make up your mind to accept what you cannot alter.  You CAN live a beautiful life in the midst of your present circumstances.”   J.R.Miller

I don’t know who this guy is but I love this quote and it made me think of this picture from Folly Beach, SC, one of my favorite thinking spots.  Somehow sitting in the midst of all that driftwood makes me think of the vexatious things in my life, yet the beautiful sea endlessly smoothes the rough edges with the crash of every wave. 

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