Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Swiss Birthday Celebration

Today is Dave's 59th birthday!

These pictures were taken just yesterday in Switzerland, where he took Claire and a friend to hike in the Alps over the week-end.

It's been a dream of Claire's for several years to do a backpacking trip in the area above Lauterbrunnen, and after a year on the calendar, that dream came true, despite all the restrictions across Europe. Thankfully Switzerland's borders were still open so they were able to go.

I've only seen a few pictures so far, but from what I've seen, it was quite an epic hike!

They spent three nights in huts throughout this part of the Alps, soaking in God's magnificent design in this part of the world.

On this 59th birthday, three things come to mind that I love about Dave, represented in this hiking trip.

He loves his family and consistently invests time and energy into those relationships that mean so much to him.

He is an adventurer at heart and is always up for another one, especially if it involves being with people he loves!

And finally...Dave has deep faith in our big God, and being in Switzerland is one of his happiest places to be as it reminds him moment by moment while hiking, of just how great and awesome God is!

Happy Birthday dearest Dave!! I celebrate you with all my heart today! ❤️

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Here and Now

Although fall is right around the corner, I'm still thinking about the summer today.

It's been a month since I last posted, which is unusual for me. I do hope to go back and capture some of the days of this extraordinary season, but for now want to reflect a bit.

Why do I call it extraordinary?

I have experienced relationship with the Lord -- Father, Son and Spirit -- in the most tender, meaningful, and present kind of way. It's been rich, personal, joyful, as well as gut wrenching (as he's led me to confront my own sin), hard, but liberating! I feel so deeply cleansed having walked a road of obedience to whatever He has asked of me in the past six months.

This journey started in March, when I developed some pain in different areas of my body. After getting fully checked out medically and finding nothing, I went down the road of pressing in more than ever to listen and be with the Lord.

It took time; it took discipline. It's so much easier to just keep going, to keep busy. But the pain was relentless and in His grace for me, gave little choice but to stop. And in the stopping, I found stillness. With the Lord. In a way I'd never known before.

When I look back over these six months, and in particular the past month, as I've pressed in to being present in the here and now with Him more than I ever have, I am kind of at a loss for words about the preciousness of it. I have so deeply treasured and valued God's love for me as He relentlessly pursued me, taking us to new places in our relationship.

Being a person who enjoys productivity and results, it's been a humbling experience to be led to set those things aside and just "be".

Sometimes the being was with just Him; sometimes the being was with family and friends. Other times the being was just in quiet, with only the sounds of the surroundings next to me.

But in all of it, I found deep, deep peace and joy, rest and love in the "being". He likes being with me, and wants more of that (and I know for sure that He likes being with you too!)

To be honest though, it's a little hard to know where to go from here.

I am free of the pain now (for which I'm so grateful to the Lord) so can physically "get up and walk". But I don't want to just go back to walking (limping?!) in old ways. I want to walk in the kind of intimacy I've experienced with Him these past six months.

To be super honest, this new place He's led me to has some implications that make blogging a little difficult.  And I'm still trying to discern what His way forward is for me in this.

Being present in the here and now with Him, and with others, means that I have to set aside some of my "future" thinking which is where my blogging brain has been over the past 14 years. There has always been a part of me that is thinking forward to what I might write about, rather than just being in the present.

If you've read this far, you're probably one of my regular blog readers (or family!). Thank you for being patient with me, and going on this journey with me. I have loved blogging all these years, and I think there are still more posts ahead. But it might look different going forward. I really don't know.

I'm praying and listening for how to live present, in the here and now, and still blog!

I know I'll do a bit of "catch up", because there are special memories I want to capture of the past month. And then we'll see what comes next.

For now, Psalm 16:11 best captures my expectation and hope for the future: "You will make known to me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forever."

This is my hope for here and now with the Lord, as I seek to walk more closely with Him in his presence.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

My First Oil Painting

Today was a special day in my life! It's the day I finished my first oil painting.

I am so thankful for my brother-in-law, Steve, and his patient teaching that allowed me to not only understand the basics, but actually put brush to canvas and paint.

It's taken me six days to complete this small painting. And honestly, some days I didn't like it and didn't think I'd be able to finish. 

But thanks to Steve, and Claire who was also a huge encouragement, I pressed on. 

And finally today added the last highlights and finishing touches. 

Somewhere in these past six days Steve mentioned to me that the picture I chose to paint, was probably not the easiest for my first painting! Since I was working with the water's reflection, it did feel overwhelming at times. 

But when I stepped back and saw that it was good (everything in me wants to say "Good enough", but I'm not saying that!), I could put down the brush and truly be happy with what my head, eyes, hand and heart had created on that canvas.

This is definitely the fulfillment of a dream I've had for a long time of trying to paint!

Later, I signed the canvas, and I'll happily take it home as a beautiful reminder of this special time of learning to paint with oils. 

And with a reminder of a favorite place of mine that I painted.

This is the photo I used as my guide. It's the back of the cove where Dave and I stay when we are in our boat, out off the island of Lastovo. You can see I took quite a bit of artistic liberty in painting it! At one point I had a boat in the painting, but didn't like it so just covered it up! So goes can do what looks right to your eye!

This has been a truly enriching experience, trying something completely new and finding that I loved it; that I actually produced something I'm proud of, even on the first try, is even more special! 

Now I'm thinking about what to paint next! 😀

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Plein Air on Hvar

This morning not only brought beautiful, crisp air, but it opened the way for something else today.

An afternoon of "plein air" oil painting!

Plein air is the french name for painting outdoors. Steve has been looking forward to being able to hike out somewhere and simply paint what is in eye's view, and today was the perfect day for it!

So he and Claire brought up folding chairs, canvases and all the supplies for painting the view from up above our house here on Hvar.

I came up to keep them company, take photos of their progress, and enjoy this gorgeous view with them!

They both sketched out the basic outline of the scene, and then began to fill it in. It was so fun watching their different styles, both in sketch and colors, emerge. That's what so fun about painting - you can do what your eye sees, which makes everyone's view the right one!

Dave and Josh came up the hill to check out their paintings too.

I'm glad Dave captured us all right here, on the little road that leads to many more vineyards up above.

But the view for painting today is down this hill, capturing the path, vineyards, rock walls and trees, and on out to the Adriatic sea!

It was fascinating for me to watch these two bring this scene to life on their canvases. I was learning so much by watching.

Aren't these beautiful?!

L: Steve; R: Claire

This is just the beginning of their paintings - the "rough draft" if you will. Honestly, I love them "as is" too!

They'll most likely work on finishing from home, as they both have some more painting they'd like to get roughed out before we leave Hvar!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Turn of Season

After a gigantic lightening, thunder, rain and wind storm last night, this morning was complete gloriousness!

It was as if everything had been washed (which it literally had!) and now every little detail around you came into focus.

Claire and I took a walk this morning just to enjoy the beauty of a town "made new" by the washing of the rain last night.

A picture can hardly capture the crispness of the air, the brightness of the sun, nor the warmth of fall sun that is now here instead of its summer self.

It's so crazy how the season can change in a matter of just hours, overnight really!

There was a coolness to the air now, thought it was still warm on your skin because of the sun's warm rays.

I've only been here one other time when there was a season shift like this. It's so cool to experience it like that!

Claire and I just wandered through the little village, and sat overlooking the vineyards, olive orchards and sea, soaking in God's glorious creation in all of it's changing of clothes!

And then slowly meandered back to the house where Claire then finished up her first oil painting this morning!

Isn't that gorgeous? It's from a picture taken in the village, near the spot we just walked to today!

You can see the seat cushions from the terrace table chairs, hung up to dry on the railing. Oops! Forgot to bring them in last night before the downpour. Good thing they're meant to get wet, and could survive the "turn of season" storm last night.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Storm's Arrival

Sure enough, the storm that's been brewing finally let loose this evening here on Hvar. 

All day the sky has been dark, with almost no sun, though it's still warm.

But you can tell, and see, that rain is somewhere out there, and probably headed our way!

By 8:30, the storm had arrived, complete with a lightening show. I don't know how my phone camera managed to capture this, but it was spectacular!

And a little later on, I captured this lightening strike somewhere out on the sea.

Soon after, the rain come gushing down, as the thunder and lightening increased, and our electricity went off and on a few times. We're supposed to get some high winds tonight too.

Glad we're tucked in here in the house, safe from what's going on outside!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Wandering Stari Grad

Dave's brothers are here on Hvar, and we're spending the week with them enjoying being family and just hanging out.

But you can't be on Hvar and not see a few sights! So this afternoon we headed over to the other side of the island, to the town of Stari Grad to show Steve around, who has never been here.

L-R: Steve, Dave and Josh!

It was so fun just wandering the streets, and showing him favorite places where we like to walk when we're here.

As wandered, I know Steve, Claire and I were keeping our eyes out for scenes that we might like to paint in the future, now that Claire and I are hooked on Steve's hobby of oil painting!

It would be hard to choose which scene to paint.

Stari Grad was inhabited over 2400 years ago, making it one of Europe's oldest towns, not to mention, charming!

I've read that most buildings in the old town center were built in the 16th and 17th century, making it such a picturesque sight to wander around in!

Claire and I ducked into one of our favorite stores on the island to pick up local specialities, like honey.

We haven't been here together for several years so it was fun to share it again with each other!

By the time we were ready to leave, the weather had finally started shifting into what the forecast has been predicting.

A phenomenon that occurs here when there's a shift in the weather, happened as we were walking back to our car.

The water began overflowing from the sea, covering the sidewalks.

Dave and I have been here when it actually flooded farther into the town! Buildings that are in danger of flooding, have special systems where they can close off so the water doesn't come in.

It probably won't be that bad today. But a storm is definitely headed this way!