Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More July Joy


        July, for me, is a month to ponder and write about joy. There are many reasons to feel joy. What I write are just ideas that stir inside and seem to ring true. Joy may come from understanding. When knowledge becomes wisdom sometimes a sweet understanding begins deep within the heart. It most certainly comes from the Holy Ghost.  I call that joy. It softens, calms, and brings a solace that is like nourishment to a hungry soul. Notice how these scriptures, divided into categories of reasons for joy, all seem to be about coming to an eternal understanding.


            Joy at the promise with being with Heavenly Father

Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

             Joy at Repentance

Psalms 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Isaiah 51:3 For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Jeremiah 33:11 The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.

         Joy at Drawing on the Atonement

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.  Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Doctrine and Covenants 128:19 Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!

Doctrine and Covenants 128:23 Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!


                  Joy From testifying

Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.

                 Joy at knowing Jesus has come

Luke 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.



     I do believe receiving joy may come from being ready and open. The voices giving words to the above scriptures were seeking, knocking and expecting answers. Joy may be the outcome of a believer's desire. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Evaluating

             This dive into art wasn't sudden. Every decade I pulled out my pencils and sketchbook and started the process of making images. Drawing was the least expensive, so I felt safe messing around with the desire but little confidence that I had a goal. I believe in the past I sought after approval more than growth. So, the desire gave way to other less time intensive pursuits.


      But, when I turned sixty I was serious. I took a class and invested in canvas, paint, and ephemera. Then the learning curve started. My first paintings had elements of other artist's work. I was copying but that was a beginning.


     I found results in my artwork that have nothing to do with end process. Detail work never attracted me but I found myself doing small, tedious work and liking the calm that comes.


            Words play a big part in my art. The marriage of ideas and images is most inspiring to me. I find nuances of big concepts in an image and a simple word can bring the whole story together.


        Last week my friend Rebecca asked if she could photograph me in a work setting for a class project. I found her presence reassuring as she asked questions about my paintings. Her photographs blew me away. She captured the fun I have when I go upstairs to play.

     
The latest paintings have a new look. They draw me closer to what I feel is still deep inside. I"ll be excited to see what will emerge in six more months.

          I think this art thing is a keeper. No day has gone by that I have not thought about what I what to paint. Very few days have passed without an hour or two in the studio.
     I owe I debt of gratitude to:
  1. My Dad who showed me how art kept a person mentally healthy.
  2. My husband who keeps listening.
  3. Brené Brown who offered a art journal class which changed my life.
  4. Kelly Rae Roberts whose class gave me a foundation and a community to share within.

                             Truly there is joy in my life and I hope it translates on canvas.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I Belong

    Recently Benjamin and Hannah joined our family. The novelty of twins has and may never wear off as far as I'm concerned. I find great joy in visiting and noting the changes in their faces and bodies. I've been thinking of rights when it comes to belonging. I'm sure the twins will exert their rights to be first, to be better, to be loved most, as all children do. But many adults cannot grow out of that stage of demanding rights.


When it comes to family life, perhaps demanding rights is not the most productive point of view. Of more importance is taking responsibility of being part of a family. Taking responsibility brings connection which is what most of us truly want. Demanding rights sets us apart.


I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully makes sense.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Love The Place I Live

  I live on a crazy beautiful island in the Puget Sound. The clear mornings can make my heart stop with the color show over the water.


     Another act in the show of clear mornings might be the chance to see this majestic volcano in the distance. The word "clear" is important to my descriptions because, truth be told, it is often cloudy. On those days theses wonders of earth and sky are hidden behind a fuzzy blanket of gray.


   Our rural setting brings creatures right to my front door. This summer I have twins coming around. They look so sweet and innocent but they are after my rose and fuchsia bushes. I get so frustrated with these beasties.


    We are an artist community. Right on the US Bank building artist William Forrester painted the history of our island. Depicted are our first settlers who landed on our shores, then the farmers who civilized the forests, and also those that founded the first US Bank.


    Not to be forgotten are the many musicians, who are always present at community gatherings, who are lined up in the painting like music notes on a staff. I love this mural. It encourages me to express myself as an artist and as a musician.

     Sunsets are equal to the sunrise, especially when coming home on a ferry after a long day on the mainland. We came here as an experiment, twenty five years ago. I might be ready to claim this rock in the middle of the sea, my home.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Exhale

    I am sitting on the couch as Thursday becomes Friday with a cold. My body is signaling me that two nights without decent sleep cannot be maintained. The night often brings quick shallow breathing as I allow my mind to run pell mell through the scenarios of trouble and trial. There are many concerns on my plate but ironically I have very little ability to change them. I can support, buoy up, and cheer on the ones I love but I cannot take away the burdens they carry.


    Tonight I plan on having a long exhale after two many gulps of care. This picture reminds me that even amidst the debris the world has ability to be beautiful and strong. I'm small in he larger scheme of things and being small allows me the right to inhale and exhale the goodness that is so much bigger than me.

I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully makes sense.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Is For Joy

         Have you ever laughingly thought that Lehi must have excluded women in the following scripture because he knew they worried too much to have real joy?
   2 Nephi 2:25 "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."
         Joke aside, women may be even more able to embrace joy. In the past I sometimes tried to save joy for later when my current worry was resolved. I have recently learned that joy can't be saved in a "good feelings" bank account. When it comes the road opens and a fork appears. This way, let the feeling flood me, engulf me, and witness the gift like water from a deep well. The other way, block it, deny it, and hope it is there when you feel more worthy.


     What is Lehi saying right before this message about joy? 
     2 Nephi 2:21 "And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh;"
     What does repentance have to do with joy? There is nothing that brings the Holy Ghost faster than repentance. When a child of God chooses to act and desires repentance, swoosh....divine help appears. There is an opportunity to feel the amazing love of God in the repentance process. I observed that when my son invited his girl friend to take the missionary lessons in our home. Each week the joy quotient rose in our family. I felt electrified, uplifted, and full of joy as she steadily came to the choice to be baptized.
     Now, what does Lehi say after the scripture about joy?
    2 Nephi 2:26 "And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given."
  There is no other way to have a fullness of joy. It is rooted, planted, and firmly embedded in our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the good news. His testifies of joy himself.
  3 Nephi 17:20 "And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full."
   I think His joy was full because these souls were choosing Him. They wanted alignment with his mission to bring them back to Heavenly Father. They were choosing at-one-ment. 
Truly the fullness of joy will come when we are in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again. Nevertheless, I have benefited from some small down payments that the Father has given me. These feelings are deep within my heart. Often I am compelled to tell whoever is close by that I am so happy. I can't seem to engineer these feelings so I know they are from a divine source. They don't seem to be connected to lack of adversity. In the middle of a trying, difficult scenario, I have been sent this joy. It is however my choice to receive. Just like a football player reaching, stretching, and running toward the ball, I find that the joy is cherished so much more when I am willing to receive. May we spend some time this July thinking on the choices we make that help us receive joy.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stillness and Light

   I have been chasing after kids. Literally, I have been following them around holding them accountable for what their mother asks of them. It is hard work. So, today I needed stillness. The best way to get stillness when you have four children with you is to take them into the forest. Much the same happens at the beach. Nature caresses, soothes, and lulls the loud right out of us. I told my grandchildren that I had an intention today. I intended to see and feel the light.


     Light plays hide and seek in the forest. It illuminates and then moves on to another spot. Always roving through branches, leaves, and bush. I bring up the rear of a gang of hikers who are remarkably peaceful, if not totally quiet.


    We listen for birds, smell the musty raindrops which fell hours before, and always follow the light.
   

    My favorite forest trail is the Fisher Pond Nature Preserve. I like seeing how it changes from season to season. The salmon berries are gone. We missed the window of opportunity to forage on their sweetness. But, huckleberries and blackberries are coming soon.


    I forget the soothing balm offered by the natural world. My overburdened mind finds such comfort in trees and especially the ever changing shine of the sun. Mother Earth and Father Sun have been here forever. I have existed forever, as well.