Wednesday, November 21, 2012


      It began with a simple question, “How did Guatemala change you?” Our Thursday morning prayer group was a smaller, more intimate setting that allowed such a question and a wonderful time of testimony. While the usual attendance numbered 10-15, this day there were only six of us, three of whom had just returned from mission trips to Guatemala. Two were pastors who seemed hesitant as they pondered our leader’s question. I, too, had hesitated to attend that day, but after a few moments of their sharing, I was very glad I had made the effort to get up early…I was changed.
     In the days that followed, I pondered the question for myself. I hadn’t been on any international mission trips, but I had just returned from a family visit to north Texas. “How had Abilene and Munday changed me?” 
     I remembered one morning of my trip in particular. I was enjoying my quiet time using my Bible and a “Jesus Calling” devotional. The comfortable easy chair where I sat in my cousin’s living room faced opposite a beautiful view of their back yard. The patio enclosure was furnished with a typical outdoor table and chairs. I sat there slowly drinking in the peace of that moment and praising God for His Presence in the present, that day’s devotion theme. The author, Sarah Young, had written about “The Divine Artist,” the art of living a divinely artful life, and then, the Lord reminded me of His Presence in my cousin’s monetary birthday gift which provided my rental car for making the long trip safely. Yes, I was blessed, indeed.
     I opened my eyes and gazed around the room to see the patio again, but this time, a beautiful Blue Jay enjoyed flitting around from perch to perch on each chair as if he was purposely “showing off” his color to me! He captured my attention certainly when I realized I had not seen this northern bird since I had moved away from my home near Dallas 18 years ago. “The Divine Artist” had painted for me that morning! “Such a small thing” most people might say, but I knew God was restoring hope in my soul with the sighting of a small blue bird. His Presence manifested in my present, painting a day in the life of His daughter to help me on my way to “artful living.” To think that the Ruler of the Universe would create such an event, seemingly trivial, yet so significant in my heart…Yes, Abilene changed me.
     My cousins had also planned a short day trip to our small hometown. The agenda included a driving tour to see cotton crops, the former homesteads, and a family meal with relatives at the local Dairy Queen. It was scheduled after a visit to Johnson Memorial Cemetery where my parents, my sister, and her infant son, are buried. It had been three years since I had last visited the cemetery when my mother’s oldest brother was laid to rest in the family plot. But today, this visit to “Sorrow’s Monument” was different. I was with Linda, one of my sister’s best friends. It was just by coincidence that we would be there together to embrace the moment of change in both our lives.
     When Jann died in childbirth at age 22, my parents had flown her body from St. Petersburg, Florida where she had lived with her husband, Ken. There had been services there with his family and friends and again in Munday with our family, but there was no additional memorial with our south Texas community where Dad’s career had moved the family. Mom and Dad were so grief-stricken at her sudden death and felt they could not endure another emotional service. So, her high school and college chums really never had the closure they needed. To many friends, she had just moved away and never came home again.
     Now after 43 years, Linda had traveled to this small rural community to mourn and pay her final respects to her matron of honor. I can only imagine her grief since I had carried my own unsaid good-byes for the same years, but I'd had many opportunities to lay them down at the monument when I visited the family plot. My friend, Nancy and I had prayed that the trip to the cemetery would bring a complete healing to this chapter in Linda’s soul. 
     It brought a different balm to mine to see how beautiful the bouquets were on the headstones. I had ordered the flowers to be placed for the occasion and I was indeed thankful for God’s artful gift to "grace the moment" through a local talented florist. The enemy of my soul would have me blind and barren in that west Texas wilderness, but I am grateful the Lord gave me a desire to “dress up” the monuments. It was such a simple thing to call ahead and order the flowers, but through the colorful bouquets, the Great Physician gave me a fresh vision and prescribed a new mental picture for my chart in life!
     I discovered that this is the power of a simple photograph, a documentary of times to remember, people we love, places we have been, and things we cherish. All of these are evidence “we have lived, loved and been loved.” A photograph is a tangible mental picture held in my hand that proves I am fully alive to embrace life in the “then and now.” My memories still carry vivid colors and my artist’s imagination instantly transports me to places and times right along with them. I can close my eyes and visit “Sorrow” or “Dress Up with Joy.” I can continually replay the video of my painful losses and carry them laden with a heavy heart or I can choose to see Life showing off its divinely artful bouquet. Yes, Munday changed me.
     I had not realized when I heard the question, “How did Guatemala change you?” that I would soon use its inspiration to help me write another family eulogy. Three weeks after my trip to Abilene and Munday, I made two trips to Harlingen where my brother is buried. His sudden death two years ago left his wife a widow at age 49. She was unable to overcome her grief at “Sorrow’s Monument.”
     In preparing for her memorial, I asked myself, “How did knowing her change me? How had her life and her untimely death, her struggles, her failures and her accomplishments…how did her life lessons change me? How had our relationship and conversations, the prayers and scriptures we shared, how had the Lord used these events to affect change in me?”
     Yes, now I can say that Harlingen did, indeed, change me. I gave her eulogy and I, too, stand at “Sorrow’s Monument” again. It is still painful and vivid at times, but now, when the memories come, I choose to revisit that wilderness with visions of blue birds and colorful bouquets.
         Come quickly, “Dress up with Joy!” We have some artful living to do!
(c) Copyright 2012-2016

Thursday, November 15, 2012


         The Lord’s extravagant Love will always continue to move us along in the greatest adventure of all…LIFE, even when our list of odysseys begins with merely getting out of bed!

         I recently urged a good friend, who was, in her words, “in a funk and going to bed,” not to spend too much time with her head under the covers because indeed, God could not use her there. Guilty myself, I had to ask myself, "How often have I buried my head under the pillow?" (Sometimes I still want to crawl under my quilt and stay there until the Rapture!)

         That "being in a funky place" lesson returned home to me just last night when I shared a poem I had written a few years ago with my teacher. He responded with how much he liked the earlier work… “It was much more pleasant and hopeful.” Yes, my writing has been a cathartic purging of sorts that few people would enjoy. It’s true of depressed, oppressed, repressed and suppressed people who live in dark places where “Pleasantville” and the “City of Hope” seem illusive and life seems to have dealt us another dead end. I am learning a truth for myself these days, Life has no dead ends.”

         I cannot deny the search for ways out of my darkness has kept me plodding uphill, and I must admit, I am so ready to traipse through a lush meadow! 

         When I think of such a golden place, I am reminded of a relaxation technique I once used to help me fall asleep when insomnia was a frequent bedfellow. I don’t need those prompts anymore since art, “the writing life” and my faith occupy my late nights now. Here is one exercise that I fondly remember and helped me greatly.

         “I closed my eyes and imagined being at a small cottage in the middle of a wide open meadow….a rolling prairie kind of place with a meandering brook and woods whose trees towered alongside the water’s edge to shade an occasional picnic and a quick nap. 

         Once inside the cottage, I walked down a hallway to find my room with windows all around the east and southern exposure, ready to welcome the morning glints of sunlight. Bright white, loosely-woven curtains billowed from a fresh breeze that was softly blowing from the open windows. During these meditations, the prompter’s voice suggested that I get up to look out the window and describe what I saw. There were tall, swirling grasses, or corn stalks lush with pods ready for shucking, or fields of drenched sunflowers dripping from sunshine as far as my eyes could see. It became a game as I anticipated the view at the window sill, coppery, bronzed maize heads "topping out" across the horizon or rows of “high cotton” towering over my head! It seemed I could even smell fresh rain from storm clouds if I saw them approaching!  

         My bed was a wrought iron bedstead that seemed oversized for the room, but then again, maybe it was the freshly fluffed mattress, the matching white chenille spread and the brightly colored pieces of an antique wedding ring quilt lying over the foot that consumed the space. The prompter’s voice instructed me to turn back the covers, tuck myself in and lay quietly until Rest arrived, and I did this many times when I practiced the sleeping exercise.

         My eyes made a quick inventory of the room that included a large armoire staring back from the far corner, a small reading lamp on an end table beside an empty easy chair directly at my feet. I turned my head to the right and I saw it…holding up the wall was a beautiful upright piano with its manuscript propped in place and waiting to be played.

         Over time, a photo gallery of family and numerous friends decorated the top of the piano. I traced the faces of my mother and other loved ones pictured there and fingered the piano keys to pantomime a memorable recital or play my father’s favorites. In my dreams, he relaxed in the chair as I played “Clair de Lune” until he drifted into his Rest. Finally, the prompter’s voice guided me over to a beautiful, very ornate frame placed on the table beside the chair. Before picking it up, I sensed this was a picture of the most important person in my life, the person I could trust above all others, my beloved, the one who loved me most. I can still remember the shock and profound sadness when I saw that the exquisite frame held no one’s face…not even my own!”

         While this was merely a relaxation technique, I learned some valuable lessons when I analyzed this for myself. This dream-like experience described a life that was filled with GOOD things: a love of nature and God’s beauty, a safe and secure refuge, cherished, sentimental possessions, talents and meaningful relationships that created fond memories. My soul had painted a picture of an inner life that placed greater value on people, places and things. Later I came to understand these attachments as a form of worship, "idolatry," or a form of "spiritual adultery" that I had committed against the True Lover of my soul.

         I have wondered about the Face of God as He might appear in the picture frame or what the CITY OF HOPE will look like. There have been many artist’s interpretations of Christ and renderings of the throne of God, but someday, as Revelation 22:4 declares, “They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.”  God WILL have a face and I will most assuredly, fully know the most important person in my life, Jesus Christ.

         What I have perceived as “dead-ends” have been God’s way to prove and test the genuineness of my faith in Him. These seemingly dead-ends challenge me, “shake me awake,” and help me realize the relationships I truly cherish. One of the most important lessons I am realizing is that there are countless others in dark places searching for a life in PLEASANTVILLE. I have been there.  It is only a vacation destination and truly, a dead end. Listen, trust and heed the guidance of the Prompter’s Voice and you will find the CITY OF HOPE….

and hopefully, a lush meadow or two along the way.

(c) Copyright 2012-2016

Thursday, November 8, 2012


         I remember an interview I saw with Oprah Winfrey sometime in the mid to late 80's. When I heard her say that she always knew that she was destined for greatness, "something" leapt inside me. It was as if finally, I recognized that seed of greatness in myself and knew perhaps someday, someone might write books about me, too. I even dared to share this revelation with my friend, Shelly, as we camped in her Ford Econoline van under the stars in Taos, NM that year. As I remembered these memories years later, I thought about what an arrogant assumption this was!

         Fast forward almost 30 years...three more divorces, my parents and both my siblings gone, a distant relationship with my son, and a 42 year career standing behind my styling chair just to make ends meet…. Some greatness that is!

      And now, I am starting over again. No whining here, but at least, I CAN start over and "fix my life". PRAISE GOD that I have a skill to rely on, own a business that provides my livelihood, and that I have my health that enables me to stand there day after day and "eek it out..." I am grateful for my children, grandchildren, many friends, other family, and for this little apartment that provides a home and solace, a refuge to heal.

         Yes, the Great I AM is fixing my life. "It takes time..." as our little friend, Stanley, would say. As mentally challenged as he is, this was his typical response in most conversations at the Sunday dinner table with our family. Yes, even Stanley is destined for greatness. God's dream for all of us is that we would catch His Grand Vision...that somewhere deep inside of us, our inner spirit would leap to catch hold of that Truth for ourselves…. WE ARE ALL DESTINED FOR GREATNESS.

          Our life story is living out our dreams. Hopefully, my dream and God’s Vision are coming together now. I love photography, so thinking about a life’s vision and comparing it to photo images is easy for me. Just like shooting with an old film camera (remember those?) and forgetting to advance the film to the next frame results in multiple images overlapping, so is a life stuck in reverse. This kind of conflict has been my life’s experience focused on many unfulfilled dreams and past mistakes. What resulted is a temporary failure to “advance the film” of God’s vision. I forgot that “whatever the camera lens focuses on is what is developed for all to see!” And what is the solution for this overexposed life? Spending time in God’s Presence always brings His Vision for Life into sharper focus, and sometimes, it requires time spent in spiritual darkrooms to appreciate the Light. 

          “Yes, Lord, YOU are fixing my life and helping me to recognize the seed of greatness planted in me. It is this vision that I must grasp and clearly focus on for destiny to firmly root in my life. What I feed, water and tend, GROWS. “Seed, time and harvest….” is a message that still applies even when it feels like a season of “time waiting and whackin’ weeds.” Only You, God Almighty, can see the harvest ahead…. “It just takes time…”

         And yet, if given the choice of sitting in Your Presence or possessing my destiny for greatness, well, Lord, there is NO choiceThe privilege of communing with the God of the Universe IS fulfilling my destiny for greatness.
(c)Copyright 2012-2016

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


"I AM" are the two most powerful words in the English language, especially when I ask myself, "Who am I? What am I?" I've pondered this message for several months now after listening to a YouTube message from Ray Hughes at Morning Star Ministries. He's a notable preacher, teacher, modern day prophet speaking to worship leaders, musicians and artists in the Kingdom of God here on earth today. Although I don't watch Oprah often or espouse her philosophy with any of her spiritual gurus, her guest on last night's LIFECLASS was Pastor Joel Osteen from Lakewood Church in Houston. Again the message was "I AM....." So, I began this morning with pen and paper to affirm my list and I encourage you to do the same. His key point in the message was, "Whatever follows the two words 'I AM' will come looking for me." These are my first declarations:

I AM a child of the Living God, daughter of the King...His princess.

I AM a mother to two wonderful children and their spouses.

I AM a grandmother to 6 terrific grandchildren whom I love more than they will ever know.

I AM a successful business owner and operator of a notable beauty salon established circa 1993. I arrived in December 1997 and hesitantly purchased it in December 1999. God willed it so. This is my 13th year. We expanded into the next suite in April 2004.

I AM a creative artist, photographer, author, and poet. Since March 2011, I've held three successful art events and people have purchased my work after a 7 year withdrawal from making art.

I AM loving, gentle, kind and have chosen badly in past relationships. I AM healing from my brokenness and learning to live a life of peace.

I AM worthy without a mate/partner/husband. I have valid thoughts and ideas that have merit regardless whether I mirror life with a man or not.

I AM fortunate (Blessed, happy, to be envied, highly favored) to have this time when God is preserving me, protecting, providing and preparing me for what my next chapter will be. His purpose is this season of waiting. My job is to wait and see WHO, WHAT, WHERE, HOW AND WHEN God will change me through this LIFECLASS. Some lessons and teachers I've liked more than others, certainly, but I AM LEARNING TO LOVE SOLITUDE.

I AM an encourager to others. Words of knowledge and wisdom are gifts from the Lord. As long as I'm alive and breathing, there's someone who needs the gift of my life that only I can offer.


I AM an inspiration to others I'm unaware are watching. GOOD IS COMING from the destructive events of my story.

I AM courageous to speak Truth into a situation when necessary, courageous to speak boldly even when I feel fear, dread, or anxious about the outcome.

I AM confident that God began a good, NEW work in me all those years ago. Getting sidetracked by my sin, unhealthy men, & failed marriages with them is no surprise to God. He did not randomly pick me for this journey/pathway. He KNEW I would survive. 

I AM a survivor. He KNEW the pathway I would choose every time....Life or Destruction. Both paths have everlasting consequences, but only one pathway is eternal with Him in Paradise. There is a difference between everlasting and eternal life.

I AM thankful I AM eternally yours in Christ.

I AM blessed beyond measure with INNER PEACE....a peace known intimately and forevermore.

I AM rested and refreshed by Your Word and I am content to be a WOMAN OF ONE BOOK, THE BIBLE.

I AM convicted and repent of my worry and anxiety when I have not trusted You in Your Sovereign Providence over my life. I AM and I DO....wait and trust in Your Sovereignty. 

(c) Copyright 2012-2016


PLEASE NOTE:  This post is not intended to judge the depth of anyone's relationship with the Lord but to share how God worked in MY h...