31 October 2009

50 Reasons to Love Autumn 50 Reasons to Love Autumn 50 Reasons to Love Autumn

Acorns; cool crisp weather; wood-burning fire; flannel sheets and PJs; cornstalks; jumping into a pile a fragrant, colorful leaves; warm cider; knit scarves; chili; fleece jackets; sweaters; Indian summer; apple crisp; scarecrows; autumn-scented candles; pumpkins; Canadian geese; making jelly; Thanksgiving; cranberries; roasting marshmallows; turkeys; popcorn; potato soup; orange; red, yellow, brown; shrimp gumbo; butternut squash; chowders; planning for Christmas; the sound of rustling leaves; cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice; picking apples; warm comforters; hay rides; beef stew; Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks; mittens; Cornacopias; caramel apples; Hot Chocolate; bonfires; corderoy; acorn squash; candy corn; cashmere; corn maze; Curling up with a good book; Columbus Day; Veteran's Day, wool and tweed.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
                  ~Psalm 19:1
Recently, I participated in a CAT (Collage-A-Thon) weekend hosted by ATCs For All which I am a member of. The way the CAT works is, the participants begin working on ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) at 5pm on Friday and continue (as their schedules permit) until midnight Sunday.  Artists are literally from all over the world, so we each start whenever 5pm begins in our part of the world. As we complete our cards, we post them to the site and to our galleries.  Then we trade cards and mail them out the following week.  I completed approx 16 cards in all and noticed that many of my cards had an "autumn" inspired theme. Here are some of them;

24 October 2009

I Love Autumn!

I love the month of October! I often say "autumn" is my favoritie time of the year, but here in Northeast Ohio, autumn can be 85 degrees - or 30 degrees, balmy short sleeve weather - or snow and boots.  So, I've chosen a very specific time and condition;  late October, leaves turning or at their peak, bright blue cloudless sky and, oh, about 50 - 60 degrees where I need to wear a fleece jacket.  That narrows it down to a 3 - 10 day window - and some years, we skip it all together with ice storm that knocks the leaves off before they can fully change.

I love the stews and chowders and chili - traditional - and non traditional holiday fare that comes with cooler weather. Earlier this week, Cara made Shrimp Gumbo in the crock pot.  Yum!

Last Sunday morning as I walked to church, I took some pictures of the foliage that had seemed to change overnight!

Now, Cara went out the following day and with the same camera, but set on "manual" with all her expertise in photography took some stunning pictures (below).

Hope you've enjoyed these!

17 October 2009


Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
~Ephesians 5:1-2

One of my ATC swap challenges was to make an ATC in the style or a copy of each of the 4 other participant's favorite artists.

The first one was in the style of Rosina Wachtmeister;

and the strange and weird style of Michael DeMeng;

the style of Nicoletta Cecoli;

and the style of Anne Julie Aubry;

I find it to be a challenge enough to create acceptable art on a small 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inch card, but to copy the work of another artist shows me how short I fall from the original.  What might seem like talent when compared with my own work or other "novices" pales in comparison to the real thing.

And even if I were very proficient in my own right, it is so difficult to mimick someone else.

I was thinking about how the same holds true when we are called, as Christians - "little Christs" - to imitate Christ.  No matter how much I try, I cannot come close to "being" Christ.  It is just not possible.  As long as we confine our comparisons to other imperfect humans, we can smugly go about life feeling - pretty GOOD - about ourselves.  But when the comparison is directed to the sinless, perfect, omnicient One ... we fail on EVERY level.

Now, even with all my art imperfections, each of my art friends could recognize which artist I was trying to imitate because there were enough similarities to set each card apart.

In the same way, no Christian will ever "resemble" Christ to the extent of being mistaken as BEING Christ Himself.  But... there should be just enough similarities with Him that others around can recognize to Whom we belong. We are the "set apart" - Holy ones, the "little Christs" here on Earth.

09 October 2009

I Sang Today

"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God,"
~Psalm 40:3

It's no secret - I've been off work battling an arthritic flare up - and it hasn't been fun at all!

What I'd hope to be just a couple of days off to recouperate quickly turned into 2 weeks. I couldn't walk, shift the position of my leg or turn over without wincing in extreme pain.  My daughter descended to the storage room to retrieve my walker- a souvenier from my knee replacement last year that I never expected to have to use again.  A couple trips to the doctor's (once with a wheelchair), try this treatment - not working?  - Try this one...  Finally, just as I was able to fold up the walker (hopefully for good, this time!) and graduated to the use of my cane (another relic I thought I was forever done with!), I was hit with a terrible head cold, which I couldn't treat with OTC meds as I was on steroids for a few more days yet.  Lots of sleepless nights, drowsey days, reading God's Word, crying out to him....

So, today as I was washing a few dishes, I heard the strangest thing...

I was singing!

The radio was playing an updated version of one of my favorite hymns - "It is Well With My Soul", by 4Him.  It was then I realized during the last couple of weeks of pain, I hadn't sung .. AT ALL.  Now, I don't have a pleasant singing voice - in fact, I have one good note - and it's real loooow!  But I do like to make a joyful noise unto the Lord! I wasn't even able to attend church last Sunday.  Oh how I missed singing to the Lord!

The next song played was "Cry Holy" by Salvadore.  And there's where complete worship began!  The next thing I knew, my soapy hands were raised, dripping dishwater on the floor, my eyes were dripping tears into the sink as I sang out to the Lord with all my heart!.

"Weeping may endure for a night,
but joy comes in the morning."

Psalm 30:4

04 October 2009

Preferring the Pits

For nearly two weeks now, I've been rather immobilized with a severe arthritic flare up. My time at home and incapacitated affords me the opportunity to listen to my favorite Christian radio station.

The other day I was listening as a pastor related his experiences adopting 2 orphaned boys from Russia. He spoke of the filth and squalor orphans were subjected to at the orphanage. The orphanage was terribly quiet as babies comforted themselves by rocking themselves in their excrement-encrusted cribs. They had long since given up crying as their cries were in vain - no one heeded them. Virtually no human contact at all. Having spent time holding the 2 children the pastor and his wife had chosen to adopt, he described the heartbreaking, yet almost joyful emotion he felt when it came time to leave the 1-year-old boys. For the first time in most of their short lives, they cried and screamed, reaching out their arms to the couple. As the pastor described it, it was as though they were the first people to love those children and there was an immediate bonding.

Long story short - once the paperwork was completed for the adoptions, the Pastor and his wife returned a few months later to bring the boys back home with them. He said he'd anticipated it to be a "Hallmark" moment, but it turned out quite the opposite. Once the boys were taken outside of the orphanage facility, they began to scream in terror. They had never been outside before - EVER! The sun hurt their eyes, the sensation of air blowing on their faces was met with fear. The sound of the car door, the engine - any little noise terrified them. As they drove away from the building the boys screamed and reached out for the only "home" they had ever known. The pastor tried to comfort them. "You'll love it at our home, you'll have a different life... safety, siblings and cousins who love you, Happy Meals, air conditioning, clean clothes ... " Nothing he said - even if they could have understood - could console them. He realized they preferred the "pit" they had lived in to all the "unknown" splendor he and his wife could offer.

In many ways, that is exactly how we feel about this world. We cannot imagine all that heaven has to offer. There is nothing we can humanly compare it to. So instead, we cling to the things of this world - the filty sin-filled pit we live in, we set all of our hopes and dreams in what we can see and are familier with, and fear the "unknown" of a future for eternity in heaven.

I remember a couple of years ago when I took the trip of a lifetime to Israel. Months of planning, saving up, preparing! I remember glibly telling one of my daughters that I hoped the rapture didn't occur before I'd returned from the trip. "I mean, I REALLY am looking forward to seeing the sites of the Bible, walking the footsteps where Jesus walked... " To which she replied, "Mom, that's dumb. If the rapture occurs, you can walk in Jesus' footsteps anytime you like, by just following behind him!"

Of course, I realize that heaven is indescribably, infinitely better than anything this world can offer. In fact, it's not a stretch for me to appreciate the fact that, in heaven, there will be no more pain....