BREATHE ON ME, BREATH OF GOD
Breathe on me, breath of God.
Fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love,
And do what thou wouldst do.
Breath on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.
Breathe on me, breath of God,
Til I am wholly thine,
Til all this earthly part of me
Glows with thy fire divine.
— Hymn lyrics by Edwin Hatch, 1878
Yellow for Joy
Yellow is a color long known to inspire joy and friendliness. It is the warmth of the sun and the brightest color visible to the human eye. To have something yellow near to you can spark creativity, boost energy and lift your spirits.
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. — Nehemiah 8:10
Green for Hope
Green is the color of growth and renewal in the created order. No better sign of hope can be found than the greening of the earth in spring. To have green in your presence can bring a sense of calm and patience in waiting.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. — Isaiah 40:31
Indigo for Wisdom
Indigo is a deep color representing wisdom, spiritual maturity and depth. It is the last color appearing in the sky before night reaches it’s darkest point. Seeing this color in your environment can remind you to consider carefully and listen more.
Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. — Proverbs 2:11
Black & White for Faith
Black and white represent the contrasts between darkness and light, blindness and sight, life and death. While black evokes mystery, white stands for truth and purity — both are qualities of the Divine and hallmarks of the life of faith.
Faith…is the evidence of things we cannot see. — Hebrews 11:1
Pink for Love
Pink, like red, is a color that inspires love. While red evokes passion, pink conveys a love marked by tenderness and gentleness. The presence of pink near to you is nurturing, encouraging, and optimistic. It is symbolic of Divine Beauty.
We love because He first loved us. — I John 4:19
When I asked my oldest daughter, Madeline, if she would help me with a project to make eco-friendly packaging for my ceramic pieces, she easily agreed. She did a fantastic job sewing nearly 200 wool-blend felt sleeves.
THE DAILY DOSE
In September I decided to get real intentional about putting together more frequent “doses” of encouragement and hope than my several times a year newsletter. I’ve already put together over 50 of these which you can find on my website blog and on both Facebook and Instagram @BirchTreeStudioMLH.
I created a post “schedule” that makes it easy to know what I should share. I pick a color theme for each time I cycle through the rotation. Since featuring one of my paintings is first in the rotation, I just base the rest of the images I share on that painting. This is fun for me and I am probably geeking out on this WAY too much. Smile.
Here’s the schedule I created:
- Painting - share the story behind it
- Photo of me and a personal story
- B&W photo of my non-painting art such as ceramics, mural work
- Art or photography feature of someone else’s work - famous art or an artist I currently follow and enjoy
- Scripture graphic I’ve created
- Nature photo I’ve taken - full vibrant color
- Quote graphic I’ve created - wisdom to share
- Photo of someone who has influences or inspires me
- A collection of lovelies laid out on the studio table - I’m such a collector and this is just a fun little activity for myself.
- Painting of mine - share the story behind it
For those of you who have not seen any of these posts (I felt a little unheard starting this up during election season! LOL), I’m going to share a few my favorites. My apologies if you’ve already read these — I do intend for my newsletters to be filled with fresh encouragement!
THIS MAN CHANGED MY LIFE
He is probably the most famous archeologist of all time. No, it’s not Indiana Jones. This is Howard Carter who made one of the greatest discoveries the world had ever known in 1922.
In the 6th grade we watched a film on Carter’s adventure. The title sequence is forever burned into my brain. Emerging out of the darkness comes the death mask of King Tutankhamen, the long lost Pharaoh of Egypt whose tomb had been sought after for centuries.
Never had I seen such beautiful craftsmanship and such enchanted style, color, pattern and GOLD. My love affair with all things Ancient Egyptian had begun. But more importantly, in that moment I could see my life’s purpose. I wanted to use my artistic talent to create stunning work like this. I wanted to do it more than anything in the world.
I look back and realize just how special that moment was. Not everyone is given such a clear glimpse of who they could become. I knew I would be an artist FOREVER. Though I have seasons of doubt, I’ve really never really left the artistic path. I have HC’s discovery to thank for being a spark that ignited me as a child.
As an adult I am growing to appreciate Howard Carter for a different reason — his tenacity. After 6 fruitless years of digging in the desert, he was able to find what could not be found. He was determined and persistent. He simply would not give up and it paid off.
This is a helpful reflection for me now as I focus on building an art career. The work is slow. It is hard to imagine working for years without any significant success. The ultimate lesson here: KEEP GOING... there is beauty still to come.
A Scripture that inspires lately a persistent mindset in the face of doubt, trial, and slow-going is this:
Those who walk the fields to sow, casting their seed in tears, will one day tread those same long rows, amazed by what’s appeared. Those who weep as they walk and plant with sighs will return singing with joy, when they bring home the harvest. — Psalm 126:5-6
FANTASTIC MR. FOX
Ever since I went on spiritual pilgrimage to Ireland and Scotland in 2016, I have made a daily practice of walking or running outside. I push myself to do this even when the weather is not all that nice.
I use my outdoor time for reflection, planning, and decision making. I also enjoy observing nature and allowing myself to feel God’s presence with me. My walking practice restores me.
But I think my favorite thing about going outside is allowing space for God to delight me. That is how I think of it. I imagine God seeing me step out the front door and saying, “I’m going to put something special out for Michelle to see today.” Most of the time this is just something small like watching the baby barn swallows out practicing flight for the first time, or a really cool sunset, or the way the air smells like fresh cut grass.
But sometimes… God chooses something more striking and impressive to show me. A few weeks ago it was Fantastic Mr. Fox (or maybe Mrs.). I’d never seen a full grown fox in the wild. Occasionally a fox will make a den in a ditch and as you wiz past you may catch a glimpse of the fox cubs peeking out the hole.
On this particular day, as I approached the end of the driveway I saw him. Just on the other side of the road in the driveway entrance to our pasture… he had just crossed the road and paused at the exact moment saw him and he saw me. What a glorious creature. I noted the lovely black paws and how the black faded up his legs into a gorgeous red coat. His tail was large and fluffy and he was much bigger than I would have expected.
I took the experience to be quite special. It is one of the ways I receive encouragement from God especially in regard to being a creator. I talk to God about the things I am making, so I find it quite natural that every once and awhile, God shows me something he’s extra proud of and it fills me with great delight.
Are there ways you find God delighting and encouraging you? Do you make a point to enjoy nature on a regular basis?
MY BIGGEST SUPPORTERS
Meet my parents, Carrol and Glenda. They have been behind my journey to becoming an artist the entire way. I cannot think of a single moment where they questioned my focus in life.
I quickly learned in college that for many creative souls, their parents and family were a source of discouragement and contention. I have since spoken also with young people contemplating a career in art, but have received a clear message that to do so would be going against what was acceptable to their parents. How utterly sad!
If I remember correctly, my dad went to bat for me even in kindergarten when my teacher took away my new left-handed scissors and insisted I learn to do everything with my right hand.
My parents paid for me to attend art workshops and even footed the bill so I could specifically attend a private high school where there was an art program. As farmers, this was a significant expense for them.
When I started painting with oils in junior high my mom got me a booth and helped set everything up at a crafts fair so I could sell my work.
My parents never once questioned my pursuit of an Art Major in college. They have been in attendance at most of my talks and art presentations and like to stop by and see the theater set I’m working on or browse the work in my studio. They show interest in everything I do and hit the like button on everything I share online. My mom will even browse my website occasionally and fill out the contact form letting me know she was there and loved it all.
How do you say thanks for such life long support? I am absolutely unbelievably grateful for the role they have played in my life and career as an artist. Thank you, Mom and Dad!!