Poetry Competitions -A Part of My Art Journey

Wahoo!

I’ve entered my first writing competition with a piece of poetry and am preparing submissions for two more; a local competition here in South Carolina (we moved. Long story) and the annual Reader’s Digest poetry/short story competition.

I’ve always doodled poems and story ideas in my homework margins and journals, mostly children’s poetry and adventures in literature, but have never taken time to see about publishing or sharing beyond family.  So, this is exciting.  It would be fantastic if I could actually make a little pocket money on the side with my stories 😀 and a wonderful legacy for my children who inspire much of it.

WE shall see….;) 2016-07-18 20.17.11

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Daily Devotion – Wait like an Eagle

Nathan, my husband, shared a devotional thought with me about this passage that I found so comforting. We tend to think of waiting as solely a posture of peace, that somehow waiting is restful and rejuvenating. We combine scriptures about waiting with scriptures about being still as though they are the same thing, while such parallels are purely cultural rather than a matter of biblical principle.  I certainly have thought this way for years, and always struggle to communicate that if we’re waiting we’re still at rest and have no worries.  I’ve come to discover that this is simply not possible in most circumstances we’ve faced in the ministry, and this is what Nathan made me think about. Waiting is hard!!

Waiting is exhausting. It takes a huge amount of effort, and waiting in a manner that honors God is even harder since rather than cope and distract yourself you learn to channel the anxiety of waiting into prayer. But oh the freedom that comes when he finally says “Ok, Go!” THAT feels like the eagle. Suddenly I feel strong and ready, mounting up to the skyline before fearlessly plunging down into the way God has laid out before me. Like holding my baby after hours of labor and months of waiting, the strength and life needed to run the race and not grow weary did not come in the waiting but AFTER it.

We’re in yet another time of waiting, struggling with anxiety, fasting, praying and continuing, in the waiting, to do what what we are able. The community of faith waits with us and prays with us. We all hope for peace in this time, but whether it comes or not, waiting IN the Lord will eventually be met with the full energy, endurance and vivacity of the eagle, the power of the Holy Spirit who also waits until the appointed time.

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Perfection – at Jesus feet

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I see these all the times and on weekends like this it’s a great time to share some thoughts.

We think that being perfect is an unattainable ideal, and when we define our perfection the way that society does it is more than true. But perfection itself, while being an ideal, is not one that I believe is unreachable or even bad!  I know you’re all shaking your heads, but stay with me.  Perfection developed out of an ideal of completeness. The Greeks thought that to be complete you had to shed your physical existence by attaining knowledge. The Egyptians thought that to be complete you had to do enough right so your ka (soul) could find heaven.  I’m a Christian, and being complete in Christ is like nothing the world has ever seen. Being perfect in Christ is not only a beautiful desire but a promise! And one that I long for. It drives me to grow, to learn about myself and who God wants me to be. It might not be popular to say but my children don’t complete me, my husband either. Only Christ can do that.

How to be perfect/complete in Christ is a long lesson and one that is ultimately finished by him, but it starts with understanding what it is that defines us. Take this illustration from Dr. Hollinger, the GCTS president, who spoke at our chapel this weekend.  Same old story we all know about  Mary and Martha, but he made a distinct point that Martha was NOT doing something bad. She was serving, like Christ serves, like we serve our children and our families day in and day out. And yet there is a strong difference between the choices of each woman that Jesus does not miss.  Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, which is a position of learning and a distinct phrase denoting discipleship. She was listening and learning, defining herself by her presence at his feet.  Jesus tells Martha that Mary’s choice is one that will last, that it will help her persevere in times if hardship and struggle and darkness. It is the better choice, because it will sustain her. Martha is defining herself by her service, and when she attempts to make Mary do the same he rebukes her. The lesson is this.

Perfection/completeness comes FIRST from being at Jesus’ feet, not doing the dishes, cooking, teaching, going to women’s Bible study or any of the many many things we do. Think of mother Theresa or Corrie Ten Boom. They faced unspeakable hardship founded not on their work but by their discipleship at the feet of Christ, in prayer and in study and listening. Their service was an outpouring of that devotion, a by product that was blessed by their good choice. I think we CAN reach toward being perfect, I think we can live a life devoted to becoming complete in Christ and have no shame in wanting or pursuing that.  For us who love God and want our children to fall love with him as well, we MUST do that. And we have to start at Jesus’ feet.

Last thought, Jesus’ feet never stayed still for long. Are we ready and willing to follow when he gets up and starts walking?

Homeschooling at three

This has got to be one of the funniest and most fun parts of my day. My son is only three but gosh what a perfect time to fill his little world. It’s slow and gradual, he has a schedule but HE doesn’t know it. To him it’s just a bit of work that’s sometimes frustrating but most of the time GREAT! Here’s what we do for writing every other day which are reading/writing/art/music days!

First, I turned art into writing practice. We started with circles, lots of circles 🙂

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A few days of circles and he started noticing other things which are made of circles! He let me guide his hand while drawing a toy train, starting with the wheels of course.

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The scribble is his little sister’s addition. She sits and reads her books or draws her own scribbles next to us, and when it’s Sammy’s turn to do it all by himself she let’s me teach her to draw.

While we drew the train I told him about lines and squares and other shapes he knows, combining auditory with visual and physical learning. The plan is to lead him to straight and angled lines next. The circles are just becoming second nature. But, to keep it interesting, I added numbers and control. Sounds complicated but take a look!

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I did the first circles in pen (mine need work too haha) he had to draw IN the first circle, ON the second circle, and outside the third circle. This kind of came to me as we worked but it turned out great. He had to led me guide his hand to help the muscle memory but can then go to town with just verbal help! I feel like I’m getting all academic on ya but this was a lot of fun for both of us. You don’t freak out if he does it wrong, he’s three!

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Here’s a veggie tales character he wanted me to draw and then he added the embellishment. See the circles?

The trick is taking advantage of when he is really wanting to learn and have help and then knowing when to back off and let him try. I don’t get it right all the time and we both have our moments. But, this is our second week and he is learning so much.  The alphabet is just circles and lines, so is art! 

The last thing we do, that I don’t have pictures of, is actual letters.  They are big, messy and we do them together and separately. Eventually he’ll have enough interest that I can take him up to the volleyball sand pit to draw and write. Now it’s time to turn on some Beethoven for listening time. Even an hour a day of classical music in the background helps all those little brain juices 🙂

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Schubert is Samuels favorite. (Schubert is technically Romantic for all you music buffs).

Color in Motion – painting with my son

It was an art day in our house yesterday! And after painting one of his usual, colored spots on brown paper, we tried something new. I was so glad that my THREE YEAR OLD actually tried some of these things

This is a flower and surrounding decoration- he had limited colors to work with and no direction. acrylic on printer paper.
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This was…I’m not sure what it WAS but when I asked him what it was called.he said “Emergency” haha.
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Don’t read too much into that, it’s also tunnels for trains but the irony is hilarious. My husband laughed well.

And THIS, this is mine. I was demonstrating how painting can be an act of movement and interpretation as well as blotting paper with brushes, so during the lively finale of Vivaldi Spring my masterpiece took shape. In about a minute. This is, Vivaldi Spring!

imageGo do something fun and crazy with your kids today!

The Mother Heart of God

WHEW, I’ve been out of the bloggosphere for too long with school and kiddos and fundraising and traveling.  Well, it’s Mother’s Day and I am DYING to preach and speak to mothers about so many things, so many essential and necessary things that too few mothers will ever hear.  But I’ll content myself with sending out this paper I just finished for a class on the nature of God.  I chose the Mother-heart of God.  It’s short, per the requirements of the class, and there is an abundance of scriptures I was barely able to touch, but I think the message is the same.

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The Mother Heart of God

The nature of God transcends human understanding in so many aspects. He is the Creator, the caregiver of the earth and the first teacher of mankind. How are we to come to know him except that he make himself knowable to us? Just as Biblical revelation is made relevant to us in our unique culture and circumstances, so does God use the familiar to communicate his character and great love. From the Torah to the Prophets, God appears as a mother who experiences the birth of her children, the hopes and frustrations of nurturing, the pain of rebellion and the anguish and necessity of a second delivery, a new birth.
The Old Testament image of the mother heart of God is one of nurturing, of birth and delivery and hope. In the book of Genesis 1, Elohim gives birth to the universe and to his image bearers, living beings in his likeness, his children. He tenderly forms man from the dust of the ground and places them in a garden (Gen 2:7-8), an Ancient Near Eastern symbol of fertility and abundance.3 Isaiah 44:2 says, “Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you.” The prophet goes on to describe the beauty of this mother-child relationship, the pouring out of God’s Spirit upon her children and grandchildren, (44:3), and comfort as the mother-heart assures the people not to fear, (44:8). As a mother delivers her child and teaches it, so the Lord delivered the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, (Ex 12:33), and gave them the Law to guide them and teach them how to raise their own children, (Deut 6:4-7). The prophet Hosea recalls the Lord’s tenderness in this way, “Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms…I led them with the cords of man, with the bonds of love,” (Hos 11:3-4). This affectionate relationship of life and joy contrasts sharply to the bloody and demanding worship of Mesopotamian fertility gods, to whom humanity were slaves.4 Yet the Children of God chose these other gods instead of their own Creator, causing his mother heart much sorrow and grief.
“You neglected the Rock who begot you [Israel], and forgot the God who gave you birth,” (Deut 32:18). God’s frustration, anger and grief at the sin and rebellion of his children is unmistakable. In Genesis 6 the Lord grieved that he had made mankind and he grieves again for the sins of Israel, suffering with them in their disobedience, “In all their affliction he was afflicted…they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit,” (Isaiah 63:8-9). Any loving mother whose child has been disobedient struggles with the desire to forgive and forget and the necessity of instruction in that which is right. The prophet Isaiah tells us that God also experiences this struggle of mother-hood, that he finally could not keep silent and, groaning like a woman in labor, will utterly put to shame his children for their idolatry, (Isaiah 42:14 &17). God had warned them in the wilderness, of the consequences of disobedience, (Deut 28:64-65), and though he waited and watched for hundreds of years, the mother God could not put off discipline any longer. In 740 BC Israel fell to the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser (EOT, 242), and Judah was carried into exile by the Babylonians in 605 BC and again in 587 BC, (EOT, 246). But God’s mother-heart does not give up on her children. Just like he did in Exodus 3:7-8 the LORD saw the affliction of his people in exile and sent the prophet Jeremiah to give them hope with this promise, that they would find him again and he would bring them back, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,” (Jer 29:11&14).

One of the Hebrew verbs for delivery and deliverance in the context of the Exodus is Natsal, which means “to snatch” or to take away, with some force and rapidity, (Strongs, H5337). Likening the Exodus of Israel to birth through delivery, this verb seems to imply a birth that is less natural and more like a cesarean birth where the child has to be plucked forcefully from the womb in order to save it. Like the events surrounding the Exodus, a cesarean birth is surrounded by emotions of pain and fear, (Ex 11:6). This is remarkable when it is considered that this is the kind of birth that God agrees to not once, but twice in order to deliver his people, (Isaiah 46:3-4). Though they had sinned and rebelled and broken the covenant, the ever enduring and longsuffering Mother would not forget them, “Can a woman forget her nursing child…? I will not forget you, you are inscribed on my hands,” Isaiah 49:15-16. A cesarean birth is not only more traumatic and dangerous, but, if successful, also brings a rejoicing more akin to salvation and redemption than that of a natural birth. If the cut is not made the child may not survive, and if it is, the child who may have been lost is redeemed into a new birth. “I brought you out of the Land of Egypt,” God says in Leviticus 11:45, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Hundreds of years later the Mother-heart has still not forgotten, “Return to me that I may return to you!” (Zech 1:3 and Mal 3:7).
The emotion and passion of the Mother-heart of God is unmistakable in the course of scripture and the history of humanity. He has been with us from the beginning to the end, and his promises of hope and deliverance, from a mother to her children, are ones that can be counted on as steadfast and sure. Hundreds of years later a Son was sent to a mother, who would give birth, nurture and teach a man who was no ordinary man. Jesus did not sin, but he was a little boy once, and I can only imagine what love and intimacy God and Mary must have shared as he grew to be the Deliverer.

2015-04-06 12.16.373 Dr. McDowell, Catherine. “Lecture on Symbolism in the Old Testament.” (presentation, Residency Week at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC, March 23-25, 2015.
4 Unknown. “Enuma Elish.” In Readings from the Ancient Near East, by Bill T. Arnold, & Bryan E. Beyer, 43. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group: Baker Academic, 2002.