Gift #1130: May Art Bead Scene Challenge

And here we are at the ending of another month.  Though it was late, Spring was rather fleeting ( a week or two) and we suddenly found ourselves in summer this month.  May was filled with a flurry of flower petals and has now faded to a soothing green.  This month’s painting for our Art Bead challenge was “Primavera” by Sandro Botticelli, 1478.

This is my favorite of Botticelli’s paintings.  I first was introduced to it via an art series called “Every Picture Tells a Story.”  The host, Waldemar Januszczak, uses well-known paintings to illuminate the culture, history, and meanings behind these magnificent works of art.  In the episode about “Birth of Venus”, he brings us to this painting to describe the style and some of the mythology that plays into Venus and Primavera.  I instantly fell in love with this painting.  From that show I learned that Botticelli trained as a goldsmith and would incorporate gold leafing into his artwork.  His name, Boticelli, was a nickname which means “little barrel”.  He was the youngest of several children and apparently never in good health.  His older robust brother was nicknamed “Botticello” – or large barrel because of his physique and Boticelli was so named because he was the scrawny little brother.  (It’s details like this that make watching the series a delight), especially when it focuses on medieval art.  Ever since I saw Sleeping Beauty as a little girl, it kindled a love of medieval art, especially of forest art, that continues strong to this day.  This painting is filled with features that make me ecstatic – starting with that magnificent dark forest in the background.  Oh how I love the way those trees arch and frame the scene!  The pop of color with the fruit in the tree canopy and the flowers upon the dark forest floor are vibrant and entrancing.  The dark background makes the characters in the foreground luminescent.  Medieval artists were exquisitely able to manipulate light in their works in ways that take my breath away. The fabrics are incredible and the detail throughout the painting is extraordinary.  It has served as source of inspiration and beauty for centuries.

This painting encapsulates all the beauty and mystery and enchantment that exemplifies medieval art.  Rich and opulent, it fills all the senses as you’re drawn into the scene.  These were the key words that I focused on as I planned my jewelry for this month.  I wanted to capture Boticelli’s love for gold in my necklace.  One of the jewelry techniques I’ve dabbled in during my own journey of metalsmithing is electroplating.  I have several pieces I’ve created using found organic materials and I used one of them as the focal point in this necklace.  It’s a seed pod with a delicate floral shape that’s been plated with copper and patinated with liver of sulfur for a rich, illuminated feel.  If I remember correctly, the seed pod was foraged from one of my forest walks, so it was a perfect fit with the painting.  The rest of the necklace formed by happy happenstance.

image

I had the electroplated seed pod out on the table, and while I was waiting for inspiration to hit, I received a bead kit from Humblebeads with a bead soup, linen cord, and a button charm to make a wrap bracelet.  The two ended up together on my table and then it hit…. use the bead soup to make a long necklace instead of a bracelet.  I supplemented the beads in the kit with many of my own so I’d have enough to make a long enough necklace to wrap around my neck twice.  I don’t have many long necklaces like this and since it was a popular style in the medieval/renaissance period, it would match stylistically with the painting.  The bead soup was various colors of green and purple and I added in more beads in those colors, some darker ones to give it depth, some floral Humblebeads disc beads, some metallic beads for luster, and some additional leaf beads to add to the forest imagery.  I wanted it to look like something from the forest floor of the painting.  The button is a faux tin piece from Humblebeads featuring a tiny owl.  This was the perfect touch – it fit the color scheme and it’s a subtle nod again to Sleeping Beauty’s forest (the owl is one of my favorite characters)

image

The necklace is designed so that when wrapped around, the owl button will be in the center of the higher strand and the electroplated seed pod will hang from the lower strand.  I had so much fun creating the bead soup and knotting the linen on this project.  I’ve not made bead soup before but it came out splendidly.  And I love the supple drape of the linen.  I’ll be making more necklaces on linen for sure.  Plus, the linen is a subtle purple shade which complements the beads beautifully.

image

For the earrings, I wanted to create something equally lush and opulent.  I had two antique copper leaves that I paired with dark green/blue Humblebeads disc beads and jazzed them up with bead caps, copper spacers, and faceted green gemstones.  To add additional romance to them, I draped tiny chain behind the leaves and dangled tiny beads from my bead soup mix.  The result is perfectly medieval.

image

I’m so pleased with this set and how well it captures the emotions and colors that remind me of “Primavera”.  And I have enough of the bead soup left to make a matching wrap bracelet!  I hope you enjoyed the jewelry and design process for May.  Have a wonderful, creative week.

image

Blessings to you,

Sarah

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gift #1129: Wildflowers

There are few things in this world more enchanting to me than woodland wildflowers.  Ok, maybe pumpkins and moss…. it’s a toss-up with those three.  But wildflowers are right up on the top of the list, especially right now when the first breaths of spring blow our way.  It was a long, long winter that was really stubborn and did not want to leave.  I’m not sure what made winter so at home this year, but it took some convincing that he’d be late for his visit with the southern hemisphere if he didn’t leave.  Finally by mid-April he seemed content enough to wander off and let the other seasons have a visit.  Spring was impatient about having to wait so long to be ushered in and consequently was rushed in her attempts to paint the landscape.  After a few weeks, we already have Summer hovering at the door wondering if he can come earlier than expected for his stay.  Sigh!  What is it with these mercurial seasons?!

image

One of my family’s favorite places to be is Spring Mill State Park (so much so that I’m afraid we’ve neglected the other state parks).  We have gotten into a routine of visiting 3 times a year – winter, spring, and fall.  It’s beautiful year round and each season brings its charms to the forest.  In past years we’ve gone for our spring visit in early May and most of the wildflowers are already gone.  This year our schedule allowed for a visit towards the middle-end of April.  I thought we’d have an early spring like the last few years and we’d be peak for wildflower season.

image

Do to the slight confusion on the part of the seasons on their visiting schedule, Spring was late and by the time our trip drew near there was really no sign that Spring would be showing up this year and I was disappointed that we would still not see many wildflowers this year.  None of the trees had leaves at this point (in fact most just got them last week) but I was still happy to be visiting one of my favorite places and would enjoy the peaceful quiet of the forest regardless.

image

However, once we started hiking,  we were amazed at the profundity of the hardy little wildflowers.  There they were – peeking out of the barely thawed ground and forging a spring out of nothing.  My heart dearly loves these precious flowers that create color and beauty out of a drab landscape.  They speak so eloquently of the secrets of life and God’s love and care.  In a world that could have been dreary and colorless, God choose instead to infuse it with seasons that would produce beauty, life, and rest in their turn and amaze us always with His creative love.

image

We saw so many beautiful flowers – the redbuds were in bloom around the lake, which was stunning.  In addition we say bellwort, dutchman’s breeches (I love that name!), spring beauty, anemone, yellow wood poppies trout lilies, jack in the pulpit, and my favorites… trillium!  The forest was bursting with trillium and I made it my special mission to photograph every one I could get within range of my lens.  This made for very long hikes, let me tell you, but it was well worth it and I enjoyed saying hello to each one and telling them how beautiful they were.

image

It felt like being in a fairy forest.  It was such a joy to roam the paths of wooded trees, basking in the dappled sunlight, and rejoicing in the new growth that filled the leaf-strewn ground.  These little plants emerged from the dark earth, each with their own story to tell, and announcing that spring is here again.  Welcome Spring and welcome to all the flowers that grace our gardens and forest with beauty.

image

Blessings to you,

Sarah

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gift #1128: April Art Bead Scene Challenge

I hope you’ve all been having a good April.  Spring finally has come to my neck of the woods.  We’re in my favorite phase of spring – in which the trees flower.  The magnolia trees are at their peak and the crabapples should be opening up any time soon.  Tiny leaves are starting to peak up from the soil and bare branches.  The earth is starting to fill with color again.  And speaking of color, here’s our inspiration for April over at the Art Bead Scene

This is called “Disks of Newton” by Frantisek Kupka, 1912.  Kupka was an Czech abstract painter, and like most of his genre, spent his career enraging the critics and transforming the way we think of art.  I’ll be honest, most of the time I fall into the critic’s camp with respect to abstract art.  It’s much easier to appreciate the skill and beauty of a realistic landscape than odd blobs of paint on canvas.  However, this artist did communicate a clear tribute to Newton in his work, and since I also admire Newton, it brought us to a common place.  Although the colors are too primary and bright for my taste, I did get mesmerized by all those concentric rings of color and how they stayed distinct yet somehow bled into each other.  I was also charmed by how the center of the painting looked like an apple – nice touch Kupka.

I had many different ideas my mind played with and discarded for this challenge.  I thought about making rings of colored beads and interlocking them, as a literal interpretation, then I thought about creating something ombre, or even going crazy and trying a Victorian steampunk design with a bright punch of color – layered hammered metal rings with an art bead in the center.  I might return to such ideas when I have more energy, but they were just more experimental than I could complete right now.  There are two types of artists – process oriented and product oriented.  Process artists create just for the joy of making something; it doesn’t have to be pretty or useful at the end, it’s just the experience of playing that makes art meaningful.  Product artists create with a defined goal in mind and value their artistic output more than the process.  I’m the latter and when I create, I want to maximize the chances I’ll end up with something I’ll like and wear.  So I decided to redirect my imaginings to what I love – and right now that’s nature in her spring glory.  The way Kupka wielded color in his painting reminded me of light shifting through a forest coming alive with the promise of spring.  And so my jewelry reflects that lovely scene.

image

“Woodland Walk” pulls together my favorite color palette right now and is full of things I love.  A few months ago, I discovered a ceramic artist, Grubbi Beads, who makes exquisite pendants and beads.   I placed an order and one of the sets I purchased was this lovely deer pendant with some matching ceramic beads.  You may not be able to tell from this picture, but the deer is on her way to a spring festival in the heart of the woods, and is appropriately costumed in a lovely headdress of pink flowers.  No doubt she will enjoy many hours of music and dancing and have her fill of cake.  She forms the focal point of the necklace along with coordinating ceramic beads and polymer clay floral bead by Humblebeads.  Copper ferns frame her path into the woods, and overhead the trees cascade into delicate pink flowers and new green leaves.

image

“Spring in the Woods” earrings pull together elements from the necklace, with a profusion of pink blossoms.  I used more Czech glass leaves and tiny pink rounds, paired with polymer clay beads from Humblebeads and floral etched glass beads.  I decided to add some extra flair and made the earwires myself.

I’m very pleased with the set and the way it captures the jubilant promise of spring.  I think it’s perfectly suited to any forest fairy eager to celebrate the rebirth of life and love in the woods.  And now I must wander the paths of wildflowers.

image

Blessings to you,

Sarah

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gift #1127: Of Flowers and Feet

Earlier this year I posted about how difficult winter was for me and my plan to spur spring into action by knitting socks… floral inspired socks, no less.  I figured if I could make spring fall from my knitting needles, then the weather would get excited and want to make it spring outside.  Since we’re several weeks beyond the vernal equinox I figured it was time to give you an update on how my plan was going.

image4.jpeg

Short story:  not good.  I completed the Winter Rose socks with time to spare right before spring was due to arrive.  Unfortunately, winter did not seem to take the hint.  We’ve still had cold weather and snow and I’m starting to worry that the plants will get confused and think they’re in Narnia and not bother to flower and green up at all.  However, my beloved hellebores understood my need and have been a great source of joy.  My favorite flowers brave the snow and cold, steadfastly unfurling green leaves and tender buds into the world, forging a new spring right under the nose of Mr. Winter.  And they are lovely.  I’m so delighted that the first pair of socks in the Sock Society paid tribute to these magnificent flowers.

Now it is April and we have a new sock pattern and a new opportunity to entice spring to come.  The second sock pattern is inspired by another favorite of mine – magnolia blossoms.  I’d not seen anything like the pink showers of magnolia blossoms until I moved to Indiana.  That first spring, and every spring since, I’ve been enchanted and delighted by these beautiful trees that unfurl their magic in early spring.  The pattern came out April 1st but because of some other deadlines I wasn’t able to start knitting on the socks until yesterday.  But turns out the timing was perfect – because look what started to emerge yesterday….

image

image

So with blossoms on the trees and socks on my needles and feet, I eagerly wait to greet spring.

image

Blessings to you,

Sarah

image4.jpeg

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gift #1126: Happy Easter 2018

Happy Easter everyone and welcome to April.  It’s snowing right now…. I won’t spend time discoursing about how that seems antithetical to Easter, that’s just how it goes.  But one of the wonderful aspects of Easter is that it is not tied to circumstances.  Easter gives us a reason to rejoice and hope even in the most difficult of situations.  The first Easter Sunday could hardly have been birthed in darker times, and yet out of the death of the Son of God,  came the rescue of the world.

Each Easter I share a song to commemorate the day.  This year’s song is one that our choir sang for church this weekend.  It is called “All Hail King Jesus” and you can see the song performed on youtube here.

There was a moment when the lights went out
When death had claimed its victory
The King of love had given up His life
The darkest day in history

There on a cross they made for sinners
For every curse His blood atoned
One final breath and it was finished
But not the end we could have known

For the earth began to shake, and the veil was torn
What sacrifice was made, as the heavens roared

All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Lord of heaven and earth
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world

There was a moment when the sky lit up
A flash of light breaking through
When all was lost He crossed eternity
The King of life was on the move

For in a dark, cold tomb, where our Lord was laid
One miraculous breath, and we’re forever changed

All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Lord of heaven and earth
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world

Let every knee, come bow before the King of kings
Let every tongue, confess that He is Lord
Lift up your shout, let us join with all of heaven
Singing holy
Singing holy
Crying out holy
Singing holy

All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Lord of heaven and earth
And all hail, King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world

Happy Easter!  He is risen!!

image

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Gift #1125: A New Creation

On the eve of Easter my thoughts are drawn to what this day means, to what God has done for us.  The reality of an empty tomb defies all logic.  Millennia and millennia of human experience showed us that nothing was as powerful as the grave, nothing as final, nothing as greedy.  The legacy of the first man, Adam, left a long line of sorrow, death, and despair at the cost of sin.  And then suddenly one quiet morning, everything changed.  The Son of God, and the Second Adam, exited the tomb where He was hastily laid just a few days before.  In one victorious instant, the greatest enemy was defeated and the grave made powerless.  Christ had overcome death and reversed the fate of the world.  His resurrection is called the “first fruits” and it is His promise that as He rose, He will raise all those who look to Him.  Death lost its power that day because God gave us life.  Though we still face a physical death, we have confidence that through that death we enter a life more real, more glorious than anything we could comprehend.  Death is not a destination, it is now only a door that opens into the splendor of God’s presence.

Jesus is called “the Second Adam” in the book of Romans and it’s one of my favorite names for God.  The discourse in Romans 5 is among my most loved Scriptures as it contrasts the consequences of Adam’s disobedience resulting in death to Christ’s obedience that brings us life.  And that’s as far as I’d taken the analogy until this week.  But in His role as a second Adam, Christ is not only reversing the curse of sin, He has completed a second creation. The whole of the Old Testament is preparing the world for Christ’s work to establish a new covenant of grace, a new creation that will be eternally redeemed.  But the New Testament echoes the creation account in ways I’d never thought about until recently.

Genesis begins with the statement:  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.   The gospel of John begins his account of Christ’s ministry in the same way:  “In the beginning was the Word… .and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  At the beginning of time, God creates the universe and man.  In the fullness of time, at the dawn of a new creation, God clothes Himself in flesh and enters His creation to redeem it.  The first creation centers on a garden, the garden of Eden, where paradise is tragically lost.  Christ is buried and resurrected in a garden as well, but in this garden paradise is regained.

The first words of God that are recorded in the Bible are when Adam and Eve have sinned and God comes to meet with them.  “Where are you?” “What have you done?” And the question haunts us through the centuries of devastation and heartache.  Our Creator God looking for us, piercing us with questions that force us to meet the reality we find ourselves in.  We are lost, we are hurt, and we want to go home.  It’s a question we can hardly answer – we ourselves don’t know where we are or how to get back to what our hearts long for.  But God knows where to find us, and He comes after us with a burning passion that takes Him to the cross to pay for all the debt of sin that we never could.  His pursuit ends in a tomb.  And then that Sunday morning, we hear a risen Christ’s first words in the garden spoken to Mary…. “Who do you seek?”  “Why are you crying?”   On the eve of a new creation, God poses yet another question to humanity.  He has found us and now we have found Him.  As we see the risen glorified Savior, we know He is what we’ve been searching for.  He is our Home.  Mary answers Christ with but a single word – His name.  It is a story of a creation lost and regained in that moment.  A reunion of God with His creation.

The book of Revelation looks ahead to the day when Christ will establish His reign over a renewed and glorified creation.  What he started in the Garden of the Resurrection was a new creation of hearts transformed.  What we look forward to is the day when all the effects of sin will be wiped away from the earth and from our bodies and we will dwell with Him in perfect relationship again.   The words spoken from the throne of God in Revelation 5 echo back to the question at the tomb.  “Weep no more, for the Lion of the tribe of Judah has triumphed.”   Mary’s tears evaporated in the light of knowing the One she loved was alive and with her.   As a new creation dawns, our tears will disappear like dew in the light of the sunrise.  Our Savior has triumphed over sin and death, and He comes to be with us forever.  Rejoice in the hope and glory of His Easter promise.

Image result for open tomb of jesus

Blessings to you,

Sarah

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gift #1124: Art Bead Scene March Challenge

As we near the end of March (who can believe it?!) it’s time to show you what the inspiration for this month was and what I created with it.  This month’s painting was warm and vibrant and full of the promise of high summer.  It was a relief to work with subject matter full of color in a month when there’s the desiccated palette of window outside my windows.  It definitely feels like it should be spring by now and wildflowers should be blooming, but our weather hasn’t gotten the message and I think winter has made itself comfortable.  So this painting was a joy to muse on while planning how to design jewelry.

image

The painter is Marianne North.  I was introduced to her last year courtesy of a book I was reading that discussed Victorian botanical art.  Her life was a dream of high adventure.  Marianne was born in 1830 to a wealthy family.  Upon her mother’s death in 1855, Marianne took up floral painting and accompanied her father on his travels, touring Europe and Egypt.  After her father’s death, Marianne continued to travel, embarking on trips that would last multiple years at a time.  She traveled throughout Asia, India, Australia, New Zealand, and then headed across the western hemisphere to travel throughout South America, and even spent time in California.  During her lifetime she painted over 1000 scenes of botanic interest, forming an important record of floral species of interest.  She exhibited frequently at Kew Gardens.  Sir Joseph Hooker, the director of Kew, was a family friend.  Her legacy and contributions to science are honored by a permanent gallery at Kew, which rotates her collection of paintings.  According to Kew, her gallery is the only permanent solo exhibit of a female artist in Britain.

Marianne North

She was a traveler, a scientist, an artist, and an adventuress.  Truly a remarkable woman.  We are very fortunate that her work was esteemed and preserved so that we can enjoy the observations of her keen mind and the artistic renderings of her brush.  This painting features a vibrant red lily from southern India, which she painted in 1878.  I love the lush, tropical feel of this scene.  Not only does she accurately depict the flora, but she draws you in an a special way so that you feel the heat and steamy atmosphere, the buzzing of the dancing dragonflies, and the heady perfume of tropical plants.  It utterly transports you to a world of romance, adventure, and discovery.

I wanted to capture some of that feeling in what I created.  The 1800s was an amazing time of discovery in the natural sciences and I’m obsessed with the Victorian age of botany.  To pay homage to an incredible woman and a unique period in history was an exciting challenge for me.  Reds and deep pinks are not normally colors I work with and what I have in the way of beads is few.  But as I pulled out my collection of Humblebeads, I found a set of tropical foliage beads that I had bought last year (probably in the depths of winter-induced depression) and I thought they would be perfect for the color palette.  I also wanted to adventurous with the design and do something different from my normal layouts.

image

After playing around with the focal bead, I decided to use it horizontally.  I had purchased a set of brightly colored agate beads at a show on a whim and have used a few of them in various projects.  I decided to create the body of the necklace by linking these beads all the way around to saturate the necklace with color.  To give some visual punch, I draped chain along the focal bead and added a dragonfly and lily pad charms.  I added a light patina of greens to the lilly pad to bring some color to the charms.  I’m giddily pleased with how this came out.  And it feels just like the painting to me, which was something I really wanted to capture.  Just look at the cane work on that focal bead!  The detail in the leaves and the tiny pink flowers is just amazing.

image

For the earrings I used disc beads that coordinated with the long bead.  I dressed these up with some bead caps whose shape mirrors that of the water lily.  For the bead caps on top, I curled the edges up to give more of a blossom effect.  Additional patinated lilly pads dangle from the earrings.

I love this set so much and it was exciting to work in a more vibrant color palette than I usually do.  Now all that we need is warmer weather and a profusion of floral blooms.  Perhaps while waiting for summer to arrive, I shall content myself with a trip to the greenhouse and dream of the exotic visions that Marianne North enjoyed and painted.

image

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Gift #1123: We’re All Ears March Challenge

It’s time for the reveal of the “We’re All Ears” March Challenge.  This month, our inspiration was monochromatic black and white.  We were encouraged to pull together different patterns and textures with pops of color to pay tribute to a classic combination.  A couple of thoughts went through my head when read about our prompt for the month:  1)  I love black and white patterns  and 2) I have very few black beads.   I hardly ever, ever use black, especially in jewelry, so this would be a challenge.  Nonetheless, I was excited to explore something different than I usually make and something I secretly really like.

Now when I think about black and white, I immediately fixate on Alice in Wonderland.  From the black and white tiled floors, to the zany patterns splashed with color, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland are a visual feast for the eye and I am entranced by everything Alice, from the original Tenniel illustrations (black and white, coincidence??) to the recent Disney reimaginings.   So I decided that my earrings for this month would be loosely and indirectly based on an Alice theme as well.

I surprised myself by making 4 pairs of earrings (I thought it would be stretching to get 2 pairs done).  Turns out that once I started, creative juices started flowing and they just kept coming.  In fact, I still have some other ideas, but I needed to get the post written and linked.

First up:  Tugley Wood

image

These earrings are actually fresh off the bead board as of this evening.  While digging in my beads for something else, I came across these large black and white wooden beads.  “Perfect!” I squealed and then picked up some additional beads and ran back down to make these earrings.  Such was the strength of inspiration that I still don’t even recall what I went up to find initially.  I guess if it’s important it will come back to me.  But I digress, these earrings came together quite quickly with the floral bead accented with shell slivers, silver spacers, and delicate silver feathers.  Perhaps from the Jubub bird? Watch out!  Tugley Wood can be a beautiful place, full of twisting trees branches, flowers, and mushrooms, but it can also be dangerous!  Especially if you’ve shrunk in size!

Next up is a trip to Marmoreal, home to the White Queen.

image

This pair of earrings is named for the ethereal dwelling of the gentle White Queen.  Her home is filled with lightness and lots of white, with the occasional flash of black for contrast.  These lucite flowers dangling from silver heart earwires seem to capture the essence of White Queen and her castle gardens.

My third pair is called “Tea on the Lawn”

image

I’m not sure why, but that phrase stuck in my head as I looked at the earrings and so that’s what they want to be called.  These were fun earrings to design – I wanted to include some warm accents to these shell leaves.  I layered them with coconut spacers and striated black agate beads.  Then I wrapped them with brown waxed linen with tiny green agate spacers tied onto the ends.  The fiber dangles give some motion and interest to the earrings.  They feel as if they’d be at home on the ears of someone attending a tea party – they are part black and white elegance and part whimsy.  Perfect for Alice.

A trip to Wonderland would not be complete without the age-old activity of painting flowers.  These earrings are dubbed “Painting the Roses Red”.

image

This is the first pair I made and the only pair where I incorporated a heavy saturation of color.  Deep burgundy lucite flowers are wrapped with brass filigree, which I grunged down with acrylic paints.  Teardrop black crystals with a metallic finish glitter underneath the roses and a tiny black Swarovski crystal finishes the design.  These delight the little Goth streak that hides deep in my heart.  Although they work perfectly for an elegant Alice-in-Wonderland inspired design, I have to confess that their first wearing was last night to Les Miserables.  Turns out, they also tie in beautifully to one of my favorite songs “Red and Black”!  (Insert happy dance)

Well, I hope you have enjoyed your trip through Wonderland and the creative romp through this month’s earring inspiration.  Don’t forget the curious bottle tagged “Drink Me” on the way back through the looking glass.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gift #1122: Of Birthdays and Remembrances

This past Sunday my church celebrated our 10th birthday.  We’ve been celebrating this whole month, with special events that let us look back to see God’s faithfulness and how He has written the stories of hundreds of lives and woven them together to make this family.  Part of our “looking back” has meant that our Pastor is preaching key sermons from our past series and we are singing songs that we used to sing but not as much anymore.  Both these aspects have delighted me greatly.  Firstly, the two sermons we’ve had so far have been from my favorite series – one in Exodus and one from Joshua and it’s been wonderful to hear from these books of the Bible again. Secondly, I love the singing at my church and it’s been glorious to hear the songs I first associated with my church home sung again.  I’ve pretty much just cried from joy at both services during all the singing.   Thirdly, it emphasizes again the relevancy of God’s truth.  The sermons and songs we’ve heard are just as applicable and needful to my heart as the day I first heard them.   In fact, now that more life has been lived, the message is even more precious.

image

Since late fall my family has gone through a very difficult time.  There are several situations that feel overwhelming and many is the morning that I wake up feeling like we’re drowning under the weight of it.  I’m scared of the future and anxiety-ridden about the news that each day will bring.  It’s been very difficult to trust God in this because my eyes are limited by a temporal view.  And He promises victory and grace, but I know that these promises may not be fulfilled in this lifetime or at least in the way I expect them to come.  I’m wrestling with the paradoxical truths that God promises life and triumph, but in this world we don’t always get happy, miraculous answers to our problems.  Hence I’m in the midst of a struggle to re-orient my perspective to an eternal one.

image

To close out our service last Sunday (our actual anniversary day), the choir sang a song from the early days, one of my very favorites.  It’s called “Praise the Lord O my Soul”  and it’s a beautiful musical rendition of Psalm 103, which also happens to be one of my favorite psalms.  Hearing that song was like receiving a kiss from God, like He was whispering to my heart, remember Who I Am and what I have promised for you.  I’ve been meditating and re-reading this psalm all week and wanted to share it with you.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
  Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
  who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
  who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
  who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

  The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

  He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
   The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
 He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
  as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

   As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
  for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
   The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
  the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

image

May it be as much of an encouragement to you wherever you are on life’s journey as it has been to me.

PS:  I’ve included some pictures of spring emerging because there’s not much else that speaks to the promises of God being fulfilled as a flower opening.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gift #1121: Orchids

Well hello everyone and welcome to March!  We’re on the home stretch into spring now.  It’s really, really hard for me to get through January and February, but once we get into March I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief.  The world starts waking up and green things will slowly start to emerge now.  We may have some cold spells left, but we’re on the move towards the light.   I blogged earlier this year about the steps I was taking to keep sane in the winter months and how I was looking forward to spring.  One of the upcoming events that I was looking forward to was the return of orchids to our greenhouse at the art museum.

image

They came to us second week into February and have been lifting our spirits through the long, dismal, grey days.  This is their last weekend on official display.  My mom and I have been able to visit with them a couple of times.  I’m already sad to see them go, but I’m consoling myself with the knowledge that many of them will be staying and I can still go back to spend time with them.  And also the outdoor spring bulb display is well underway.  Many of the bulbs are sprouting and getting bigger by the day and some have already started blooming… but I’m getting ahead of myself and today’s post is for orchids.  image

If you remember from last year,  I confessed that I had not liked orchids much at all.  It wasn’t until last year’s display that I had genuine appreciation and love for the plants.  It took a long time for me to like them, but once it hit, it hit hard.  I spent last spring reading several books about orchids, I knit a shawl to remind me of orchids, and I’ve been waiting impatiently to see them again.  This time I greeted them with much love and affection.

image

To a color-starved soul in the depths of winter, these blossoms are far more fabulous and luminescent than any sparkling jewel.   As the light falls on these blooms, they just glow and I’m pretty sure I hear angel’s singing as I admire them.

image

Delicate floral scents perfume the greenhouse and the air shimmers with energy and color.  It’s really hard to have a favorite plant from all the lovelies on display.  I had a handful of ones that I found very special from this year.  Most of these are ladyslippers.  I’m utterly enchanted by these orchids.  Even before I appreciated orchids as a whole, ladyslippers were incredible to me.  I love their muted colors of pink melting into green, Some of them this year were hybrids I’d not seen before – dark, dark burgundy so rich and beautiful it took my breath away.

image

image

I’m so inspired by these beautiful plants, rich in color and texture, and so grateful that we can enjoy them during the last dismal days of winter.  It’s a foretaste of what’s to come with spring, when the earth leaps alive in a riot of color and celebration.  While we wait for that happy event, I’m content to feast my eyes on orchids and treasure them.

image

Blessings to you,

Sarah

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments