Deep Holes, Living Water

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My art mentor, Marge, asked me if I was excited about my woman at the well book, The Drink Of A Lifetime, being published. How kind of her to ask. What a gift to just ask me how I am feeling. She takes time to ask and listen. She models loving, mentoring well for me. She’s been a true shepherd in my life.

I think about her question. I’m in a very different place emotionally than when I first made the art for the book. Yes, I knew about the Samaritan woman’s holes and how they resonated with my own story. But now, after so much chemo pain, night after night, day upon day, I think I better know her cavernous pain – the five failed marriages and now just “living,” truly unsafely, with a man. No commitment from that man. No certainty of love, care and fidelity. I mean, she must have been emotionally spent. Done. Chemo done.

Yet, Jesus steps into her very messy story and bottomless pain, carefully revealing He profoundly knows her and loves her in the safest way possible. He initiates in a winsome way, (“Can I have a drink?”) His desire to be eternally committed to her in life-giving love. (Living water) Most would certainly be put off by her messy life. Handling someone else’s pain, without suffering ourselves, rarely happens. However, Jesus did not distance Himself from her; He moves in close to make things eternally right and to heal.

I am learning of His loving commitment to me in deeper places in my heart. He is healing my cavernous “holes” just as He healed hers. Holes like pride, selfishness, envy, unforgiveness, and control. With quiet whispers in these nights, He says, “What about this? Could you have responded differently? Anything you want to confess?” There have been many nights of hot tears on my cheeks as I recall unkind words, jealousy for ministry, jealousy for health, wanting to control my own life, for heaven’s sake. “I’m sorry,” I whisper back, with the lump of remorse in my throat. Then, I’m gripped by God’s love and forgiveness flooding in at those moments of sorrow. (Living Water for me!) More tears break way to rest; He has carefully made things right eternally and healed.

So, yes, it’s nice to be able to share the book with my family and friends, and hopefully with women in tough places around the world. So many have cheered me on in this cancer journey; it’s so much fun to share this book with them. But, my deeper excitement is in knowing I’m loved with that same safe, life-giving love of Jesus, for all eternity, as given to the woman at the well.

To order your copy of The Drink Of A Lifetime, please click HERE.

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Marge, left, and me, in Lucca, Italia.

 

 

Being Still – Bone Pain, Stage 4 Chemo

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Last Friday, I completed my third chemo infusion, with three of my four daughters, lovingly, generously at my side. I was so excited that I was not getting a shot that potentially protects my bones, because the side effect of that shot is extreme bone pain. Kind of crazy side effect, but that’s what happens. My girls and I went home from the treatment; we were hopeful that the pain this week would not be as bad as last time.

By Monday, however, my pain overwhelmed me. All I could do was to lie as still as possible and breathe. Sometimes, the pain was so intense, I would forget to breathe. The pain was defining my moments, that were stringing into hours. My knees were and are particularly painful. I describe it like this: if you have ever fallen on your knees, on cement or pavement, and hit really hard, that’s how it feels. Bang, you hit the cement, bang, you hit the cement, bang, you hit the cement, hour after hour. No let up.

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Oxycodine becomes my new best friend, and we hold hands and wander into a kind of dizzy sleep. The knee pain is constant, but my brain is in a fog, so I have moments of being tricked into thinking the pain is less. I am being still, so I wonder to myself what I can do. Then, I laugh at myself, because that’s just silly. I’m down for the count, flat as a pancake. “I can’t do anything,” I say to myself. (Why am I such a doer? I mean really; take a break!) “Well, I could pray,” I say to myself after a few minutes of painful breathing. The pain has stripped away the desire to do anything else, and so, I begin praying. I weakly pray for every family members I can remember(think chemo brain); then I go onto praying for friends. I think of Eileen, Laurie, Trisha, Sue, Tom, Lupe, Konnie, Betty, Karen,Kara’s kids and so many more. I bring marriages, children, parents to Him. It’s just God and me, in the pain, having a conversation. I’m not moving one inch, I’m being still, my knees are banging on the cement, and I am entrusting my people to the God who knows me and loves me. The pain doesn’t rob me of my faith.

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If I can trust God in this kind of constant pain, in this dark valley of the shadow of death, with the people I love, then I know something miraculous is happening. Once in a while, I ask God to take this cancer from me, however, my over-arching thought is not self-pity. Instead, it is, “Let me bring my dear ones to the God of the universe that loves them.” It’s quiet, but truly, it’s a let’s all scream and shout kind of victory of my faith.

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Peru Nativity Cards Coming Soon!

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5×7 Glossy reproduction, blank on inside – sold as individual cards and in sets. Coming soon.

What a morning with my chemo brain! Chemo brain is not for the faint of heart. Ordering cards and reproductions are hard for my artist brain, on a good day. Then, you add partially fried, chemo brain cells, factor in crazy, self-willed spell check, and my morning’s work of ordering cards from my original watercolor was a wee bit of a challenge! Somehow, miraculously, these cards have all been ordered from the printer.

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This is the back of the 5×7 card.
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4×5.5 matte reproduction, blank inside.
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This is the back of the 4×5.5 cards.

My next chemo appointment is right around when these are due to arrive at my place. I hope to have the brain function, and the physical strength, to mail out cards by mid-November. I am so thankful to God to have the strength to paint any day during my chemo cycles. And, the capacity to order cards, on top of painting, is nothing short of miraculous. God keeps showing me His grace in the middle of my hard.

Beauty In Brokenness Is Up

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The artwork is up at my church in Colorado, and I am praying this piece will reach hearts and minister to others’ brokenness. Only Jesus can truly heal our broken places and empty places in our souls. Nothing else will really satisfy.

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I am very thankful to those who took the time to put everything up. Having led a visual arts ministry in the Seattle area, I know how much work, good work, it is. How wonderful to have the full support of our pastor for the visual arts.

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Thanksgiving 2014 – Looking Back Three Years

I am filled with thankfulness as I think back to this time three years ago. At that time, my doctor was trying to save my life with poison (chemo). Strange, but I am still on planet earth three years later. With my stage four breast cancer, one might get up to five years after diagnosis and treatment. That’s what they say. We’ll see. I’m thankful this year I am with lots of family and three grandsons!

Here is a post on my old blog from that time…..I added a few pictures.

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The Annunciation, Marcia Carole, Painted Papers, Collage

Pushing through chemo lethargy and killer headaches, I’ve been preparing painted papers for my next piece, The Annunciation, these past two days. I use watercolor paper and paint with acrylic paints. Additionally, using found objects, I add layers of texture to these painted papers. One “found object” I use is something called “sequin waste.” Seen above as the aqua strip with cut out stars, it is the waste after star sequins are cut and collected for sale. Thus, it gets its catchy name – sequin waste.

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As I pull the sequin waste away, I blend different blues and whites into the star pattern left behind so that the paper looks more painterly. I am hoping to use it for the sky in the annunciation piece, so I am thinking, painting, changing my mind, adding more stars with the sequin waste, blending them away, etc. The sequin waste goes on and off the painted paper throughout this whole process.

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With a name like “sequin waste”, while lying in bed ignoring the chemo headache, I think over the word “waste.” The chemo headache is a waste of my time, cancer is a total waste, loosing my hair is a waste, lying in bed for hours on end seems a waste. You get my train of thought. My train of thought seems a waste, and then I decide to redeem it…kind of like the sequin waste. I suppose the Holy Spirit should be credited with this change in direction.

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My collaged book on the woman at the well.

I think about two New Testament people who seemed to have “wasted” lives. First, I think of the woman at the well, the one who had had five husbands and was living with a sixth man, who encountered Jesus while filling up her jar of water. He knew all about her, didn’t think she was a waste at all. He so reached into her heart with love and acceptance within the knowing of her wasted years, she was motivated to run to her community and lead her village to Jesus.

Then, there is Matthew, a really unpopular tax collector who bilked, cheated his own people, for the financial gain of their oppressors and himself. His life was an irritating waste in the eyes of his community, and yet, Jesus saw Matthew differently. Jesus invited him into a relationship of love and forgiveness, worth and value. Jesus modeled for Matthew’s community the act of moving in closer to their enemies, the wasted people in their minds, and into transformation.

Then, having plenty of time on my hands these days, my mind moved onto Jesus, His life, and then when He was on the cross. Looking at Him, nailed and bleeding beyond recognition, must have looked like an overwhelming, horrendous waste. Is it? That’s the question everyone needs to answer, as they encounter Jesus – just like the woman at the well or Matthew. I believe, right there, on the cross, Jesus is taking God’s wrath, just anger, for our sins, wrongs, darkness of our hearts, whatever you want to call what you know you have, in His own person. Then, He gives us His perfection in the most profound exchange ever given throughout all eternity, and says, “It is finished.”

Later, after His death and burial, the stone is rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, more importantly, but similar to my pulling away the sequin waste with my painted papers, and we all see the beauty of His resurrection, conquering death for each of us. I guess sequin waste isn’t a waste after all. It’s actually shown me a great deal today.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2