Gift #1086: Earth Day with Audubon

We are blessed beyond measure with a wonderful art museum nearby and I’ve spent many, many happy weekends enjoying the special exhibits, the permanent collections, and the gardens.  Much to my delight, a gallery featuring the work of Audubon recently opened and will keep us company through the end of July.  My mom and I were able to visit the exhibit for the first time today.  And how appropriate it was that today is also Earth Day.  I could think of no better way to celebrate than by delighting in the exquisite art of Audubon,  one of our nation’s greatest natural historians.  The exhibit focused on his Birds of America portfolio and was organized according to the expeditions he took to paint the birds of each region of the eastern US.  Audubon spent over a decade painting the 435 prints that form his magnum opus.

We spent the day learning the processes involved in painting the watercolors, creating the prints, and publishing.  We marveled at the expert artistic technique mingled with an acute observation and understanding of the natural world that birthed these masterpieces.  And above all, we gained a deeper appreciation of the diversity and beauty God displayed when He gifted the world with birds.  We left the exhibit sobered by the knowledge that many of these beautiful birds have suffered overhunting, habitat loss, and extirpation at the hands of men.  Even in his own lifetime Audubon witnessed wholesale slaughter and decimation of once plentiful birds.  He worked to establish protection of birds in their nesting grounds and sought to limit habitat destruction.  Six of the birds that Audubon painted are now extinct and many others are now endangered.

North America’s only indigenous parakeet – the Carolina Parakeet was found throughout eastern US.  Audubon pictured them here consuming a cockle-bur plant.  He orients the birds in such a way as to show off their brilliant plumage.  Their brightly colored feathers made them a desired element for ladies’ hats and their propensity to eat anything they could light on made them a mortal enemy of local farmers.

The Passenger Pigeon was one of the most abundant birds in North America.  In Audubon’s lifetime, their numbers were estimated at over 3 billion.  Audubon writes of traveling in the company of great crowds of pigeons:  for three days so many birds flew with them that they clouded the sun.  At one point he counted flocks as they spun in the sky and numbered 163 within just 21 minutes.  He records the large numbers of settlers that lined the banks of the river and felled the birds by the hundreds and thousands with guns.   60 years after Audubon’s death, the pigeon’s would be extinct, along with the Carolina parakeet.  The last free-ranging individuals were seen in the early 1900s and the final representatives of their species died in captivity around 1914 (both were housed at the Cincinnati Zoo).

Others, like the Pinnated Grous, were already noticeably declining in Audubon’s time.  He mentions of this bird that they had already abandoned his home state of Kentucky and were removing ever further west.  In their case they were vanquished not by guns, but by habitat alteration and destruction.  Today the species is restricted to isolated remnants of the tall-grass prairies in the Great Plains and is listed as vulnerable and threatened.

Seeing these birds captured in watercolor from nearly 200 years ago served as a grave reminder that we are charged with protecting and caring for creation.  Each of these creatures is a unique and priceless gift given life by God.  It is our sacred duty to love and care for them as He does.

“If I were cruel I would tell you of a million wonders that you will never get to see and never get to touch.  Fascinating, beautiful creatures from all over the world that will never delight, amuse, or astonish you.   Extraordinary lives of dazzling complexity that will never take your breath away…

because we have already taken theirs.” – Priceless 

Let us shelter and cherish what remains.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #1085: A New Covenant

This past week we’ve looked at the covenants that God has made with his people throughout history and have seen how God used these covenants to draw people into relationship with Him, reveal His character, and demonstrate His faithful love.  Each of the covenants God made was a picture meant to illustrate His unfolding plan of redemption.  Because of sin, God’s people could never fully keep or enjoy the benefits of close communion that God’s covenant offered.  And so woven throughout the history of Old Testament, we see God referring to a New Covenant which will fulfill all the commitments of the Old.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
 It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors…
because they broke my covenant,
 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people…
They will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”  Jer 31:31-34

On the night that Jesus was betrayed to death, He ate a last meal with His disciples and referred to His blood as the New Covenant which would be poured out for the forgiveness of sin.  God Himself in the form of man, was now the covenant.  All the covenants of the Old Testament looked forward to Him.  God – the Giver, the Keeper, the Fulfillment, the Spoken Word of the Covenant.   He is the Promiser and the Promised One.

The song I’ve picked to celebrate Easter this year illustrates this truth beautifully.

You and me we use so very many clumsy words.
The noise of what we often say is not worth being heard.
When the Father’s Wisdom wanted to communicate His love,
He spoke it in one final perfect Word.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

And so the Father’s fondest thought took on flesh and bone.
He spoke the living luminous Word, at once His will was done.
And so the transformation that in man had been unheard
Took place in God the Father as He spoke that final Word.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

And so the Light became alive
And manna became Man.
Eternity stepped into time
So we could understand.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

Happy Easter!! The One who was born to carry our sin, secure our redemption, and achieve peace with God has fulfilled the Covenant and He lives to call us His own.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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GIft #1084: Covenant with David

After the people of Israel had resettled back in their homeland and prospered, they looked for a king to lead and unite them.  God chose a young shepherd boy by the name of David to guide His people.  It would be many years of waiting and maturing for David between the initial promise of a kingdom and its fulfillment.  Once David’s throne was established and the nation made secure, he wanted to build a permanent temple for God’s presence to dwell because they were still using the tabernacle from the nation’s early days in the wilderness.  This is response God sent to David.

This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders[a] over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.

“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom…  Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[b]; your throne will be established forever.’” 2 Sam 7:8-12, 16

This is one of my favorite of the covenants because it so clearly shows the character of God.  He begins by reminding David of His presence in the past and His faithfulness in keeping His promises.  God tells David He will continue to provide by establishing his reputation and giving the nation peace.  Here’s what I find fascinating: remember David is asking God for permission to build God a house.  God responds by saying He will build a house and legacy for David.  And then He goes on to promise David that his lineage and rule will last forever – He promises eternal kingship to David’s line.  The generosity and kindness of God is overwhelming.  David sought to honor God by giving Him a home, but what God promises instead is that He will come to His people through David.

Jesus is the descendant of David whose throne will be eternal.  Many prophecies in the Old Testament refer to the King from David’s line who will rule in righteousness and peace.

In those days and at that time
    I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
    he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ Jer 33:15-16

In his earthly ministry, Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God, fulfilling all the signs associated with kingship foretold by the prophets.  He healed diseases, gave sight to the blind, encouraged the oppressed, raised the dead to life, freed captives, and stirred hearts towards repentance.  The domain of Christ’s kingdom is found in the hearts and souls of all those who follow after Him and have accepted His salvation.  But the prophets also speak of the day coming when His kingdom will be a physical reality on earth.  In that day, God will wipe away the curse of sin and all will be perfect and restored.  We’re told that peace and justice will be the scepter by which Christ will reign over the redeemed and perfected earth.

He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,  far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Eph 1:20-23

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1083: Covenant with Israel

Today’s covenant follows the descendants of Abraham.  A tumultuous history led his family to Egypt to avoid famine in Canaan, but 400 years passed before they would go home again.  The people of Israel endured centuries of slavery and were desperate for salvation.  God heard their cries and raised up a man to free the Israelites.  After a dramatic display of God’s power of authority, they left the land of Egypt, following God’s direction across the Red Sea and into the wilderness.  There God met with them at Mount Sinai and God made a covenant with this nation.

“This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:  ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.   Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”  Gen 19:3-6

The covenant relationship God initiates with the Israelites most closely resembles a marital contract in which both parties make pledges to conduct themselves in a manner that honors the pact and their marriage partner.  As such, God requires the Israelites to obey the law He gave to Moses and to honor and love Him.  God promises to bless the people’s obedience and to make them His treasure.  The Israelites enthusiastically pledge their obedience to God.  What follows for the rest of the Old Testament narrative is a spectacular display of Israel’s incapacity to keep the law and God’s faithful love in bringing His people back to Him.  The example of Israel highlights the failings of the entire human race.  Try as we might, desire as much as we can muster, but we cannot obey the law perfectly and consistently.  And as a result, we cannot attain to relationship with God on our own merit.   Foreseeing the weight of sin that would impair the covenant relationship, God instituted sacrifices and special observances that would cover their sin and allow them to enter the temple and worship God.  And so things remained until God sent another Savior to rescue His people.

Jesus would perfectly keep God’s law and fulfill in Israel’s place their side of the covenant.   When teaching the people, Jesus said

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  Mt 5:17

In many ways, Jesus’ life mirrors the history of the Israelites.  After 400 years of silence from God, Moses is protected from infanticide and called to rescue His people.  Likewise, Jesus is also divinely spared while all the young males of Bethlehem are destroyed.  The people of Israel spend 40 years in the wilderness learning to trust God for provision.  Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness relying on God the Father’s strength and resisting temptation.   God affirms His power by miraculously parting the Jordan River to allow the Israelites to enter the Promised Land.  God affirms the divinity and authority of the Second Person of the Trinity when Jesus Himself is baptized in the same river.   The Israelites were saved from their enslavement on the night of Passover.  On this night, the Israelites were to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts of their homes so they would be spared when judgement came to the Egyptians.  It was a sacred observance that the Israelites commemorated every year once they returned to their homeland.  Jesus fulfilled the foreshadowing of the observance as the Lamb of God.  It was on the eve of Passover that Jesus was crucified and offered up as the sacrifice to cover all sin.

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.  Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.   Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.  Heb 9:24-26

On Good Friday it is especially timely to reflect on how Christ perfectly kept the law of God and stood in man’s place to offer His obedience in exchange for our sin.  Because of Him we can live in communion with God, knowing that we are declared righteous.  And we can rejoice in God’s faithfulness which keep His covenant with us and for us.

Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Romans 10:4

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1082: Covenant with Abraham

Today’s covenant takes us to an ancient city bustling with life and culture.  Into this civilization, God reaches out to one man and speaks:

Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you

I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.[a]
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.” Gen 12:1-3

God invites 75-year old Abram to leave what he has known and journey with Him instead.  Ur was a polytheistic society and it’s not clear what Abram’s idea of God was at that point.  He didn’t know God as a friend yet, but we do know is that Abram obeyed this call and came to know God.  It seems an awfully big request to leave everything and nearly everyone he had known for an unknown destination.  But we are told in the book of Hebrews that Abram was a man whose heart was fixed on eternity.   And perhaps for that reason he was able to hear the call and willingly obey.

Decades later found him settled and prosperous in the land of Canaan when God showed up to him again. Abram reminds God that he does not yet have a son and God promises him a son and heir

 a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”

As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram[b]; your name will be Abraham,[c] for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”Gen 15:4-5, 17:4-8

God kept His word and before long the elderly couple had a miraculous child of promise.  From him grew the family, and then the nation of Israel, defined by their covenant with God as His people.  Hundreds of years would pass before another miraculous child would be promised to Abraham’s descendants.

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel Isaiah 7:14

Through this child would come the ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant.  He would be a blessing to all the nations by bringing the riches of His grace and forgiveness. His presence would herald in the kingdom of heaven.  Through faith in Him, people from every tribe and tongue would joined to the family of Abraham, and all considered children of the Great Promise.

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”  So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Gal 3:8-9

Image result for biblical abraham renaissance painting

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1081: Covenant with Noah

The next time we see God making a covenant, it is hundreds and hundreds of years later in the aftermath of the great flood.  After warning the world for 120 years of impending judgement for their sin, only 8 individuals from one family heed the call and act in obedience to escape judgement.   God washes away the wicked stain and the world begins afresh.  In many ways it’s a discomfiting account and sobering.  We don’t like to be confronted with our sin and our dependence on God.  We like to think we’re in control, that we can call the shots about our behavior and desires.  We want God to look the other way and excuse our sin, but God loves us too much for that and the flood is as much about God’s grace and provision as it is judgement.  The two are always entwined.

Noah and his family embraced the way of escape God offered and found protection in the ark.  As they stepped out into a new world, God made this covenant:

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him:  “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth.  I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”  Gen 9:8-16

While this is referred to as the covenant with Noah, notice that it is all-inclusive.  All of his family, all of the animals, and all of the earth are included in the scope of God’s covenant to not bring widespread judgement for sin on the earth again.  God set a rainbow as the sign of His promise.  Every time He or the inhabitants of the earth saw the rainbow after a rain, it would bring to mind the covenant of God’s patience and provision instead of punishment.

Jesus echoed this when He said “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  In the time of Noah, and in every time since, the awful truth has been the weight of sin that separates us from God and from each other.  Now God in the flesh had come to save the world from sin, to obliterate its power, and to win back Paradise.  And this was done when Christ hung on the cross and bore the consequences and death of every sin.  His righteousness bore our sin and He suffered punishment in place of the world.  Like the rainbow, the cross now stands as a symbol of God’s mercy and salvation.  The covenant of peace that God speaks of at the time of Noah is made complete in the cross, which achieves peace between God and man and welcomes us back into relationship with Him.

This is the invitation of God which speaks between the rainbow and the cross.

“To me this is like the days of Noah,
    when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.
 Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Is 54:9-10

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1080: Covenant with Adam

The very first covenant God makes takes place at the dawn of creation.  As the world is breathing its first breath, God makes a covenant with the creature into whom He has poured His own breath- Adam.  Indeed, Adam (and subsequently his descendants) was made expressly for this –  a sacred and everlasting relationship with His creator.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.  Gen 1:28-30

God’s first act of generosity was to bless His creation and to give charge of it to the first man and woman.  As they were created in His image, they were to be His care-givers over all He made and enjoy all the pleasures of their new home.  One translation says they were to “dress the garden”.  I love that imagery as the garden and the animals were something Adam and Eve were to tenderly love and care for so that all would flourish.  In Gen 2, a condensed summary of the creation account, we are also told of the condition of the covenant.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Gen 2:16-17

This covenant relationship was mutual – God was giving His creation and Himself to Adam and Eve, and to show their love for God, they were to obey His command.  But they did not.  Paradise was lost and the covenant was replaced with a curse.  Their relationship with God, with creation, with each other were fractured.  Their disobedience severed their connection with the Source of Life and death was the result, enslaving men and all of creation in its cruel grip.  But sin and death would not have the last word.  God left His promise that the curse would be reversed and the covenant kept, even though Adam could not keep it.  Thousands of years later, the Second person of the Trinity, the One who formed Adam in His image, would take on flesh and become the Second Adam.  Paul eloquently describes Christ’s role as the second Adam in one of my favorite passages of Scripture.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.   And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.  Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 5:12-21

I love the symmetry in this passage that mirrors the two trajectories that Adam and Christ have wrought on the world.  While Adam’s sin brought condemnation and death, Christ’s death brings justification and life.  Sin enslaves us, but Christ’s obedience frees us through grace: the dead come to life and the sinners become righteous.  C.S. Lewis referred to Christ’s fulfillment of the Adamic covenant as “treading Adam’s dance backwards”.  His act of obedience covers our disobedience and reverses the curse of sin.  In our world it often seems as if sin and destruction are the most powerful forces.  Even in examining my own heart I am overwhelmed by the degree of sin I find there.  But these verses are a hope and victory because they state that God’s grace is more than sin.  There’s no sin that hasn’t met forgiveness at the cross; there’s no power in sin that has not been vanquished by Christ’s obedience. And there’s no grave that has a tighter grip than grace.

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  Blessings to you,

Sarah

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GIft #1079: Heading towards Easter

I’ve been excitedly anticipating Easter for a long time and now it’s nearly here.  As early as January, I was thinking about what to blog about for Easter week in preparation of Resurrection Sunday.  At that time my church was starting a series on the importance of community and how we are made for relationship with God and with others.  As part of that introduction, my pastor mentioned how God made covenants with His people throughout history.  This was the primary way that God initiated and maintained relationships.  That got me thinking about the various covenants that God made, their purposes and promises, and how Christ fulfilled them all.  And that seemed like a wonderful theme to focus on during the week leading up to Easter.  So over this next week, we’ll take a look at each covenant God made in the Old Testament, its implications and promises, and its ultimate fulfillment.  It is God’s story told throughout history and I hope you’ll be blessed in being reminded again that God is the One who pursues and saves.

The journey begins tomorrow.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1078: A Sentimental Journey

Today we celebrate the 95th birthday of one of my favorite actresses.  Doris Day was one of the very first actresses that I remember and I adored her completely as a young girl.  She was a favorite of my Nana and she and I would watch lots of Doris Day’s films together when I spent the night.  It was our special activity we did together.  My Nana introduced me to a lot of the great films of the 30s-60s but the ones with Doris Day were my favorite.  I loved her spunk and happiness, the hilarious situations she would get into in her films, and of course, her voice.

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As I got older and learned more about Doris Day, I came to admire her for more reasons.  She was a woman of determination and courage – who faced disappointment and loss but did not let that define her.  I was surprised to learn that film had not been her first choice and that she had wanted to be a professional dancer.  But a serious car accident destroyed that dream.  As she recovered on bedrest, she listened to music and found a joy in singing.  In 1945 she recorded “Sentimental Journey”- her first big hit.  (It’s subsequently become one of my favorite songs of hers, though I still have a soft spot for Secret Love and By the Light of the Silvery Moon.)   She is also woman of great compassion and purpose and has worked tirelessly against animal cruelty for decades.  For these and so many other reasons, I have looked up to her and consider her a heroine on and off the silver screen.

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It’s tempting to watch her movies and reminiscence of a simpler time when life was full of tea and cakes and happy songs with no real troubles.  But to do so ignores the real impact of her life.  As I’ve grown up with her, I’ve come to realize hers is a deeper legacy.  It’s one of wrestling with personal pain and loss and of choosing joy in spite of it.  It’s of reaching for new dreams, finding passions that change the world, and using your voice to bring happiness and love to others.

 

Thank you for the sentimental journey of a lifetime Doris Day.  Thank you for influencing my life and being a wonderful role model for generations of women.  And Happy Birthday!!

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1077: March Art Bead Scene

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of March already!  Hopefully we’ve seen the last of freezing weather and can now enjoy the steady progression of spring.  Several recent events have occurred which have assured me we’re on the way 1) I’ve had a sinus infection 2) the tables and chairs have been restored to the outside courtyard at work (and a full 4 business days before usual!) I was so fortunate as to be able to eat outside yesterday 3) the hyacinths are up and the crabapple trees are starting to tinge pink with buds 5) the floral exhibits at the art museum are opening tomorrow with 5 special gardens making their debut and 4) birdsong has been filling the mornings.  I think there’s a nesting pair of doves that have made their home nearby as they’ve been spending lots of time on the deck and I’ve enjoyed their presence in the afternoons.

This month’s artwork will be my favorite of the year.  I don’t know what the rest of the year holds, but I can definitely say that nothing will top this for me:

Isn’t that beautiful?  I love everything about this so much – the birds and nests, the colors, the composition, the feel of the piece… wow!  This stunning painting is the work of Marianne North, a Briton of the Victorian age who lived something of a fairytale life.  At the age of 40, Marianne embarked on a series of explorations to paint the flora of the world.  Over the course of 13 years, Marianne traveled throughout North and South America, Asia, and Africa.  She staying with dignitaries and famous artists/scientists of the time, often remaining in a single country for over a year to learn its culture and the natural history.  At the end of her life, there were 832 paintings of birds, vegetation, flowers, and landscapes that chronicled her adventures.  These paintings are now housed at the Kew, where her works are on permanent exhibit at the North gallery.  She is the only woman whose works have been exhibited as a solo permanent gallery at the Kew.  In 2008 the Kew underwent an extensive restoration of her paintings and the gallery so they can be enjoyed for years to come.  This is definitely on my bucket list of places to see – I mean, Kew Gardens has been on it for a long, long time, but now to know that this artist’s work is there too – what a special experience it would be to see it in person!

I was very inspired by the artwork because I naturally gravitate to anything bird-related.   My first set of jewelry I call “Birdsong”

The necklace features an amazing polymer clay bird by Humblebeads – it’s one of her bramble bird collection.  I made a wire-wrapped nest with blue Czech beads as eggs, and also added an enameled leaf by Gardanne Beads.  I love the way the blue and yellow tones meld so nicely together.  Further up the chain I added a few more blue and yellow Czech beads and dangled a little feather.

The earrings are Czech beads with little brass feathers.

My second set is called “Nesting”

I used more Humblebeads in this necklace as well.  I wire-wrapped a nest around the large egg and added a disc beads and blue clay leaf to the nest.  A simple chain with tiny Czech glass flower finishes it off.

Earrings are made with Humblebeads birch disc beads and tiny brass nests from Vintaj.

I love the soft, spring hues of these pieces and the bird nest imagery.  It was a delight to create with this artwork and to learn about the remarkable woman who painted it.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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