I hope this little watercolor I call “Happy Flowers” is a blessing to you today!
Somewhere between my brain and a post on my website, a ton of posts get written, but never posted. (Most of them never leave my cranium. Do you have that problem as well?)
Fortunately, “a picture is worth a thousand words” so please think of this image as a thousand word blog post. Problem solved! 🙂
Feel free to share this with a friend who needs the gift of flowers today.
Yesterday was my last day of summer watercolor camp. Our theme for the day was watermelons!
We looked at watermelons from a lot of different angles, painting a 4×4 inch mini painting of each view. Then, we cut the watermelon into different shapes and made a bunch of mini-paintings. Some were from a distance, while others were zoomed in views.
We mixed a neutral color (in this case, red + green) and painted all the backgrounds. After we finished our little paintings, we chose our 9 favorites and mounted them as a collage on illustration board. . .
Of course, our snack for the day was (you guessed it) — watermelon!
I’m so thankful to the LORD for wiring me with an artistic bent then giving me the opportunity to teach kids with this bent as well. It’s a highlight of my summer.
We prayed together at the end of class, thanking the LORD for our gifts and asking Him to use the work of our hands to His glory. That was my favorite part of all.
Lord willing, I can’t wait for next summer’s watercolor art camps!
The elderly gentleman stood slowly to introduce himself to the group, his stiff movement reminding me so much of similar ones I had seen in my dad.
After one halting start, with great effort he finally lifted himself from his chair and stood with a firm grip on the metal framed chair backs of the row in front of him. His back was to me, so I could not hear his name, but his next powerful words brought a smile to my face and cheers from the group.
“I’m (inaudible name) and I have Parkinson’s. . . but it does not have me.”
That was the beginning of a beautiful blessing I received this week while serving as the accidental speaker for the Parkinson’s support group in Amarillo.
I say accidental because the program chairman, Frank, was in need of a speaker and went to the most logical place to find one- the Yellow Pages.
I don’t have an ad in the Yellow Pages.
The only “speaking” reference in the phone book connected him to a small business development center that’s been coaching me this spring. When Frank called that number and requested a speaker to come address a local non-profit Parkinson’s support group, he reached Brian, my coach.
Since I was the only local speaker Brian knew, he gave Frank my name and Frank called to arrange for me to speak.
Neither of these men knew my family’s Parkinson’s story.
Neither knew daddy died a year ago this week after a twenty-five year battle with the disease.
Neither knew I had a message of hope to share.
But the LORD did.
Through a series of seemingly accidental, unrelated events, the LORD opened the door for me to share with this group of brave, beautiful Parkinsonians (and their caregivers) the beautiful lessons my parents taught me about what Parkinson’s is powerless to take away.
I was the “accidentally on purpose speaker.”
Yes, Parkinson’s takes away so much, especially in terms of mobility, but I talked to the group about how my parents showed me it is as powerless as a wet noodle to take away four things:
- Your chosen attitude (especially your wit and humor)
- Your faith
- Your ministry of presence
- Your ministry of perseverance
I walked away from that meeting feeling blessed. So very blessed.
I pray that it brought a glimmer of encouragement to someone in the group that day as well. If it did, I know it was part of my dad’s legacy of a beautiful life grounded on a rock solid faith in God. I also know that the encouragement received did not happen by accident, but by the LORD’s perfect, on purpose design.
The Pondering Palette: Where have you been sent “accidentally on purpose” lately? I encourage you to share your story with a friend.
In our 29 years of marriage, Shep and I have learned that marriage both blesses and stretches us. In tough times and easy ones, marriage is relationship on earth that pictures a heavenly reality of the loving relationship Christ has with His church.
Shep and I have taken part in many marriage events during our three decades together- retreats, seminars, conferences- that have encouraged us along the way. For the past 5 years or so, we’ve helped lead a marriage ministry in our church by coordinating and/or presenting marriage focused events.
One of the things I’ve noticed about strong marriage ministry is, like a coin, it often has two distinct sides: preventative marriage enrichment and “repairative” (yes, made up that last word) marriage rescue. You might think of it as a health club approach and a hospital approach.
The Marriage Health Club
Think about what you do in a health club. Here’s my short list:
- exercise muscles to make them stronger
- learn new ways of exercising to build up your body
- train for endurance races/events (and marriage is certainly an endurance race!)
- exercise in groups or with a trainer to get encouragement along your fitness journey
- give focused attention to your physical health
Marriage enrichment is like a health club approach to your relationship. You wisely pay attention to staying strong before you’re at a crisis point when you have to address your health. Marriage enrichment is a means of strengthening your relationship, building strength that can help you weather rough times that may lie ahead.
The Marriage Hospital
Marriage repair is different. It’s more like an emergency room or a secluded hospital stay where healing takes place. Staffed by skilled physicians (or licensed marriage therapists), the marriage hospital is a place of intensive, loving care for hurting spouses.
Weekly counseling or marriage intensives in places like The Hideaway Experience provide this kind of extreme (and extremely needed) care.
My point is this: both of these approaches are powerful. They complement each other. They cover the spectrum of needs within a relationship.
Keeping the health club and the hospital open for marriages is a wise, balanced way toward effective marriage ministry.
For the past year, I’ve worked with AuthorMedia of Austin to revamp my website and learn how to blog and make the best use of social media to minister to women around the country. Working with them is one of the best ministry decisions I’ve ever made!
Here’s my unsolicited advice about why you might want to consider working with the experts at AuthorMedia. As they have patiently helped me grow and learn and stretch my skills this year, I’ve noticed three consistent themes I love about this company:
1- Spiritually Grounded and Media Savvy
In 1 Chronicles 12, groups of warriors from the 12 tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him. The group that was smallest in number was from the tribe of Issachar, but they were described in a profound way:
1 Chronicles 12:32 says these men, “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”
AuthorMedia understands the times. They grasp what’s going on in the online communication culture. Even though they are a small company (like Issachar was a small tribe), they are experts in the wise use of the internet for ministry. They also know what to do- how to use techniques and tools of social media for big kingdom impact.
I’ve deeply appreciated how, in addition to their media savvy, I’ve experienced nothing but Christ-honoring, spiritually grounded attitudes and professional competence in my interactions with the staff. They “get it” that what I am doing (and what they are doing) is much more than a business- it’s a ministry. That’s a beautiful (and rare) thing to find these days.
2- Superb Follow Up
My website had been launched and I was operating it on my own. Some days felt great, but most days, I was just flailing around cyberspace. . . or not doing anything at all because social media still felt so intimidating to me. (I’m not over that feeling yet, but things are getting better by the day!)
On one particularly discouraging day, Caitlin, AuthorMedia’s social media expert, contacted me for follow up to see if I needed anything. Boy, oh, boy did I! The gold package I purchased enabled me to get ongoing support that’s been a life saver.
As my ministry has evolved, I’ve had 3 websites over a 13 year period. As excellent as the previous designs were, this was the first time someone followed up to ask me how things were going and how they could help me succeed. Why? That’s part of AuthorMedia’s overall approach to helping author/speakers. I really appreciate their extra mile service of “let us help you until you can grasp this and operate it on your own” as opposed to “here’s your pretty balloon- go fly it.”
And did I mention how patient they are in working with techie wanna be’s like me?
(My advice to you is to bite the bullet and “go for the gold.” I started with a lower, less expensive package of development, but soon discovered the multiple benefits of the gold package. It is the absolute best and I’m so glad I did that!)
3- Super-dooper Staff
I first met AuthorMedia founder, Thomas Umstattd, at a Christian writer’s conference in New Mexico. His insightful answers to media and technology issues discussed in a workshop absolutely amazed me. About 18 months after that meeting, I signed on with AuthorMedia. He personally helped me get started, then passed me on to his resident experts to help with site development and design, social media, and blog development.
I can’t name all of Thomas’ AuthorMedia staff, but here are a few you’ve just got to know about:
Samantha Fagan is a delight to work with as she turns ministry dreams in to webpages. The time we spent targeting the audience for my website was amazing. Her insightful questions opened my eyes to clarify my mission and ministry and target my site to specific groups of women.
Caitlin Muir is a social media expert who makes things understandable and reachable for a speaker like me who isn’t a “techie” but is hungry to learn. We’re just starting to work together, but after our first session I’ve learned a lot- like how to make a monthly “editorial map” to schedule my media posts.
I could go on and on about others on the AuthorMedia staff I’ve worked with directly like- Hannah, Leah, Hilary, and Katherine. Just know I highly recommend this talented bunch of young people to authors and speakers who are searching for help with their web presence.
This video I captured in a local park illustrates how I feel about the web-based part of my ministry now as a result of what I’ve learned via AuthorMedia:
AuthorMedia understands the times. . . and they know how to help you know what to do to help your ministry dreams take off and fly.
P.S. I just realized that, one year ago, I could not have written this post. AuthorMedia taught me how to use WordPress, resize photos for the web, insert images into a post, create my own Wisdom In Watercolor channel on youtube, upload a video to youtube, insert a youtube video into a post, and create an overall cleaner blog post. I’m so grateful!
I am married to a Shepherd. He does not have a flock of sheep, but a family and whole bunch of people in our church he cares for. Deeply. You see, he is a minister and counselor.
He helps people carry their pain and find comfort in the rough spots of life. He inspires me.
I want to be more like him when I grow up. Kind. Compassionate. Understanding. Merciful.
One of the best things that has ever happened in my life on this earth was the day the Lord crossed our paths while we were seminary students in Ft. Worth, TX.
I hope that after 28 years of marriage he has rubbed off on me a bit. I have so much still to learn from him… just have to keep my eyes open!
(By the way, this is another one of my many infamous “eyes shut” photos. It still makes me laugh!)
(PS I’ve told him his alter-ego on my blog will be “Shep.” Since he’s a minister, maybe I should have said altar-ego. LOL)
When I first started painting, I was all about creating things I liked from other artists. (That’s actually one method of artistic training. In fact, you can see young “painters in training” in museums and art classes around the world learning technique by analyzing and copying the works of the Old Masters.)
Problem is, as well as I could copy others, it wasn’t me. Their work was not my work. After a while, I felt like I was going for the title “Copycat Queen” and I didn’t like it one bit.
“LORD, who have You designed me to be as an artist?” I started to wonder. About that same time, I started learning about the artist’s “voice.”
In the same way that you can detect the writing “voice” of your favorite author after reading just a few paragraphs of their work, artists have their own “voice” as well. Problem is, it can take years to mature and develop your own particular style- your voice- as you grow your own “body of work.”
(Body of work = art speak for creating a TON of paintings, throwing out the crummy ones)
(Crummy paintings = ones that your own mother wouldn’t want to hang on her refrigerator with the fancy “I Love My Kids” magnet she picked up at her favorite Cracker Barrel on her last vacation)
There’s nothing that can replace just wetting your watercolors and painting to discover the artistic style the LORD has woven into you as a watercolorist. But, I have found a neat resource that has helped me take a giant step toward putting words to what I’m learning about my distinctive “voice” as an artist.
It’s a book called Finding Your Visual Voice (A Painter’s Guide to Developing an Artistic Style). The author is Dakota Mitchell with Lee Haroun (North Light Books).
Through thoughtful questions and samples of various artistic styles, this book inspires me and helps me get to the core of who God has specifically designed me to be as an artist. I really like all the insightful paintings, quotes, step-by-step demos, reflection questions, and interviews with artists in this resource. Plus, it’s FULL of colorful photos. (Woot!)
Again, no book can replace time spent painting, but this one can be helpful in giving a name to the kind of painter you’ve been designed to be.