Next to Last Projects

I have been wanting to get into art again, and a unique opportunity came my way when a friend called me to join an art project. Seems this church in our town is going through the book The Story all this year during their Sunday sermons. They will read/ hear a message on a chapter a week, 31 chapters in all. This is a program that many churches have done, making it similar to a mega-VBS with posters and interactives that you can buy or make as you go through the book. This particular church decided to commission local artists (not me) and willing wannabes (me) to do a painting for each chapter, a 20 x 20 canvas that would depict a scene from that part of The Story. I was thrilled to be asked. At first I thought the work was to be 20 FEET by 20 FEET, but I still was able to say yes right away; hey, I had never painted a mural, but this sounded like a God thing and He would help me do it. I told a lady at church (real local artist) about this, too, and she did not bat an eyelash when I said 20 by 20, probably because she had painted many murals, between work on our church’s VBS backgrounds and props for our Experience Bethlehem walk through at Christmas time.

Then I realized this Story project would be a series of 20 inch by 20 inch canvas. What a relief, but now I could feel confident enough to sign up for two! The first will represent the ‘Wandering’ chapter, and the second will represent the chapter about Hannah and Samuel, and Saul. I hope to get them both done before I have the baby, my biggest spring project.

The first painting I have had a harder time designing than I thought I would. I first thought of just a sandaled foot, emerging into a sandy, rocky wilderness floor. Or I thought of depicting some Israelites resting on rocks, rubbing their tired feet like Degas’ paintings and drawings of ‘Dancers Resting’. Then someone suggested just the wilderness, with footprints going here and there. I finally asked Luke what he thought I should do, and he came up with something totally different, and very abstract. The top left corner of the canvas would have a solid image of a quail, and that image would repeat diagonally across the canvas but morph until it was just a circle, in the bottom right corner, to represent manna. This sounds cool, but I’m not sure if it will coordinate with the other paintings very well. Obviously, each painting will be individualistic, but a painting like that might be over the top, if everyone else does scenes with people in them.

To add to my thoughts, I googled quail yesterday to find a good picture I could trace for the quail image, and came across a photograph that captured the different colors of this particular quail, it was beyond gorgeous. But I can’t do a 20 by 20 painting of a quail! That would be almost as bad as painting a 20 feet by 20 feet mural of a quail! Too much quail. Seems the Israelites had the same troubles, ha ha.

My Utmost For His Highest was talking today about simplicity. I sure need some of that right now. Email me if you want to weigh in on any of these painting ideas, or help me simplify by suggesting another.

She Lives

I know, I left all three of you hanging the other day with my dog vs. van story. Even as I type this, she sits at Sam’s knees while he rubs her ears. She is in doggy heaven. More than she deserves, to be sure. But isn’t that the story of all of us? One thought that keeps emerging for me is how the antics of this hapless dog, and the grace offered her, mimics my own experience with our Great Savior.

So the night of the discovery, Bella was allowed to sleep inside, but even she could sense that things were not the same. She only lay curled up on the floor, not straining at the leash, not barking. Just hiding out.

For the next few days I worked at finding someone who could help me list her on Craigslist (pets are buried in lawn & garden, very confusing), and keeping Bella from the underside of our van. Luke worked at the wires, seeing if he could possibly fix them himself. Everywhere we went, I would have to explain why we all weren’t there or why we weren’t in the van, and I think each time I would tell the story of Bella’s attack with more relish. I was upset; maybe I never got as angry as Luke, but I sure ran my mouth like I was.

A week later, the part came in that was the final piece to (hopefully) rewiring the van. It was a cute little sensor that looked like Darth Maul at the plug, but of course absolutely essential to our van running again. Luke spent an hour or so under the van, putting things together, and…nothing. He came back inside, looked something up on the phone, and thought to himself for a few minutes. Then he went back out, switched some wires, and Voila! The van started, and showed to be switching gears! So for about $15 he was able to fix it this time, himself! Himself and God, he was heard later to acknowledge, as at that last part when things still weren’t working, he knows God showed him what to change. My Hero and my hero.

Slightly more amazing than this cheap fix is the complete 180 Luke has made in recent days regarding Bella. He went from wanting to shoot her, to wrestling with the dog last night before bed. This has to be a God thing as well. Maybe Luke realizes that everything, no matter how it happens, is an act of God, or allowed by Him. It aggravated us so much that this would be at the paws of a dog, when we were perfectly fine with it being caused by hitting a deer, and we certainly wouldn’t have howled as much if it had been an accident. But because it was a dog, well. That’s different. It shouldn’t make a difference in our responses however. We should be able to take each day’s troubles with equal measures of grace, since that is exactly the way our Heavenly Father deals with us. And I guess Bella will be around for a while longer, showing us this in the flesh, or fur.

I’m still up for listing her as a free dog to a good home. Preferrably miles from your actual home, vehicles, and possessions, if possible. There’s grace and then there’s dogs.

Read the first post about this here.

Good Report

Ah, my boy.

Now we can release that breath we were holding. Now I can shed a tear or two as I  reflect upon the 13-year journey that has brought us here, knowing that the Lord has carried us all the way.

Your due date was very close to Julia’s, but you ended up being two weeks late. Tax day! Uncle Sam would be a nickname that stuck. When the nurse lay you on the baby table, you were turned with your back to us. What was that spot on your back? It looked like a nipple, but in the wrong place. Your dad and I both knew what a mark like that meant, but already we felt hope like a warm blanket-

You were moving. Everything. And I think you even peed on the table. What joyful, ordinary things to see in this extraordinary boy!

Eight weeks later, you had spinal surgery to repair a lipomyelomeningocele, a mild form of spina bifida. Even then, I felt the weight of how blessed we were- there were other children in this hospital dealing with much, MUCH worse maladies than yours. Still, it gave peace to our minds to know we could give you the best opportunity at an active future- we hoped for walking, running, and any sport you might fancy.

The one warning was that you might have trouble in the future with ‘tethering’- where the nerves would get caught in a time of growth, causing you pain or developmental issues. Year after year went by, and you only showed signs of growing in strength.

This past year we started noticing some irregularities in the way your legs were developing. It seemed like a good idea to consult the neurosurgeon first, as the tethering came to mind. Today you had an MRI, your first that you remember, to check things out in your back.

I didn’t worry about this procedure or this visit. In fact, when someone would ask me about it and have this really concerned look on their face, I would have to take a minute to think what they were talking about. Partly because I am busy, my mind stays busy, but also because I know this is out of my hands. God made you, Sam, and He did an awesome job. You are strong, and capable. There is no thought of limits when it comes to you. I will say I have entertained some sadness in this past year as we notice the issues with your legs. I remember having the same pangs when Aliyah, Sarah, and then Abbie needed glasses. These kinds of things point to a ‘less- than’ body, and I grieve a little bit to think that you are not 100%. The reasonable in me says, look at all you do have. The Spirit in me says, look at the future and hope I have planned for you. So I don’t stay sad.

The neurosurgeon looked over the scan and said…drumroll please…the MRI looks exactly like the one done in 2006. No tethering at this time. Thank you, Lord! This was just what I needed to hear, that there is nothing we need worry about at this time, and there was nothing we could have been doing in the past 10 years that we didn’t do. As a parent, that is the difficulty- knowing when to act and when to let a thing sit as it is. You’ll have those same dilemmas if you marry and have children, I am sure.

Thank you, God, for Sam. Thank you, Sam, for being such a great kid. I love you and look forward to seeing the man you become.

Bella Gratia

What a wild two weeks it has been since ‘the incident’. I, for one, marvel that some of us are still here.

A couple of months ago, we load up the van one morning to go to the library, turn the ignition key, and…nothing. Luke looked at the damaged wires underneath, got enough of them spliced together to start it and travel in second gear, and slowly drove down the hill to the mechanic, with me following close behind in his truck. I had hit a deer the week before, and we wondered if that might have jogged things loose. Lots of money later, we have a working van.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. We load up the van, I turn the key…nothing. Sam finds some torn wires in the gravel under the van that have saliva on them. Hmmm. I decided to email Luke at work about it instead of waiting until he came home to tell him; maybe that was a bad thing to do, but I don’t like carrying around bad news all day. He was not happy, and was already making it quite clear across the internet how endangered the life of our dog, Bella, was. We knew she did get under the van, and we knew there were mice/ voles that were up under there, too, but we didn’t put it all together until she attacked our van a SECOND time, likely going after a rodent. Aargh!

The first evening was tense. I wasn’t sure if Luke was going to shoot her, strangle her, or stomp on her. At one point he ordered me to take her to the pound, so I went for her leash. Upon further thought, we knew we didn’t have enough time to make it up there and back, as we both had places to be that evening, and we would probably be charged a fee for dropping her off, a salty rub in an open wound right now.

As I went through my evening, the more I thought and prayed about Bella, the more I thought maybe Luke should shoot her. What would it mean to offer her to someone else? “Here, this dog has cost us hundreds of dollars in car repairs in the last few months, why don’t you take her?” What would that be saying about our respect for other people and their property? Maybe she was worth more dead than alive. Alive was getting really expensive.

To be continued