• Art and Prayer

    Out of the mouths of babes

    I’m in Texas spending time with our son Nathaniel and his family and getting to know our newest grandchild, Mary. I’m loving the sweetness of holding a newborn snuggled in my arms, as well as the enthusiasm, boundless energy, and creativity of Mary’s three older siblings. But my heart is also heavy with concern for dear friends back home and their family members who are battling Covid right now, and for two other friends who are hospitalized with very serious heart issues. This morning I was sitting with Paul, Elizabeth, and Samuel while they were eating breakfast, and at one point, was silently praying for our friends and feeling the…

  • Art and Prayer,  Praying Scripture

    Marvelously Made

    You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.You saw me before I was born.    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.Every moment was laid out    before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:13-16 Fifty-four years ago this past week my sister Megan Ariel was born. Megan has lived in heaven for all but six weeks of these fifty-four years, because of a heart defect she was…

  • Art and Prayer,  Praying Scripture

    Freedom!

    You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:16-17 This week we celebrate the freedom we have in the United States, freedom to worship God and to make many choices about how we live. Let’s think about what God says about how to…

  • Art and Prayer,  Praying Scripture

    Church!

    They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 Imagine how exciting it would be to be a part of a church like this! This…

  • Art and Prayer,  Visio Divina

    Sketching as Prayer

    Yesterday we had our Spring Sketching as Prayer retreat at church, and it was a very refreshing day for me. While I enjoyed doing the retreat via Zoom in January, and it was great to see people from all across the United States and even one person in England, it was much more relaxing for me to lead a retreat locally. Not having to keep much technology in mind allowed me to really relax and experience the day as a retreat for myself as well. It’s interesting that, although I very much need and appreciate time alone at home, it sometimes seems that “solitude” with other people can be powerful…

  • Art and Prayer,  Praying with Trees,  Visio Divina

    Off Kilter

    I’ve been taking a few days of retreat-at-home time. Stephen has been away, so with time alone at home, I figured I’d have some refreshing time of solitude and silence. It’s been good in many ways, but I haven’t managed to settle my mind as much as I had hoped. It just seems there are so many good ways to occupy my mind or spend my time, and it can be hard to quiet myself, even when I manage to avoid the phone and computer. One day I decided to sit quietly and sketch the pin oak that’s growing in our yard. I’m fascinated by its downward growing lower limbs…

  • Art and Prayer

    Barabbas

    Today is Good Friday, a dark day in history when Jesus was condemned and crucified. So why is it called “Good”? If we look at that day from the perspective of Barabbas, it was indeed a good day, an unexpectedly good day. Barabbas was a criminal condemned to die, a terrorist or some other sort of violent criminal. Roman prisons were harsh places, and death sentences were carried out cruelly. Barabbas could have been dragged from his prison cell at any time to be flogged to the point of being horribly flayed, after which he would be crucified—an especially slow and torturous form of execution. He probably wasn’t having any…

  • Art and Prayer

    Sketching as Prayer

    God made me an artist, and when I neglect my art, I neglect one of the primary ways God designed me to worship him and be in communion with him. I find that when I sketch, more than when I focus on a finished painting or drawing, I tend to unconsciously move into an awareness of God’s presence and into a sense of wonder. Sketching is, for me, a way of simply being with God. God made me an artist. I need to do my art in some way or another, or I feel as though my soul is drying up. Sketching is a way I do that without being…

  • Art and Prayer

    Praying with trees

    I become fidgety when I have to sit still in meetings, even in meetings I generally enjoy, even in prayer meetings. So, even though I very much appreciated the privilege of gathering with other believers in prayer, I found myself becoming distracted and antsy when everyone else was quietly focused and sitting still. I just couldn’t sit so still for long, and that caused my mind to wander to my walk with my dog in the sunshine that afternoon, the interesting bird at my feeder, a phone call with a friend, my next meal, and so on… One rainy November day I was walking in the woods with a friend…