Friday, February 3, 2017

Paint Brushes In Hand!

The globe was done for my dear friend's son for his graduation.

This one was commissioned last spring.  I love the feel of it! 
Makes me want to go out and ride my bike!

A student from Northwood University commissioned this work for the
Northwood University International Auto Show.

I am currently working on a
"Favorite Flower"
series to have
for purchase at a local studio here in town.
I donated this to raise money for a friend fighting cancer!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

So Much Joy!

I find myself reflecting on the past 3 years and asking myself, "What do I really feel?"  Some may say a few things like sadness, heartbreak, brokenness, instability....shame.  But that is not at all what I feel.  I am reminded of the verse from Psalm 30:5 

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Taking a break from full time ministry and allowing God's redemptive work to weave its way through our family has brought so much joy, at times my heart may burst from the fullness it feels.  At first the pain seemed too much to carry; but as I have found when I truly allow myself to be completely emptied I am left only to be filled with something so much more. It was either to allow bitterness to fill me up or grace!  I choose grace!  I choose it a million times over...again...and again.

Grace heals, Grace forgives.  Grace loves. Grace sustains. Grace brings wholeness. Grace restores.
Grace is JOY!

As we begin this new season, this new journey there is so much excitement that is almost hard to contain at times.  Each day I am reminded that I get to do ministry.  It is a privilege. It is an honor.  I will never be tempted to take it for granted ever again. 

 There is so much joy in serving Jesus.  Joy in knowing that I am saved by grace.  I have been given this free gift of salvation from a God who truly loves me and my family.  His love is so deep and so wide.  And He has saw fit to use me and our story to be a hand that reaches out to those who are hurting.  So they too can feel that love of God who knows them by name!

Everyday... I get to be a children's pastor!  That is exciting!  It is a joy!  

We are so thankful, in this season of pondering the good things of God, for all the people God has placed into our lives.  Sometimes it seems they have come unexpectedly...but my God is very intentional.  Everyone who has entered into our story has been with such great purpose.  I am thankful for each and every one.  My heart has such deep love for the Church!  It has truly been a shinning light.  In a world that may say different,  the church has been the most beautiful to me more than every before.

 Our new church home is wonderful.  I am amazed once again how God has been involved with each and every step to Saginaw.  I remember the first day I drove into the church parking lot my first day. Tears of gratitude streaming down my face.  Lauren Daigle song streaming through my car to the depths of my heart.....

I am guilty

Ashamed of what I've done, what I've become
These hands are dirty
I dare not lift them up to the Holy one

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

I've been hiding
Afraid I've let you down, inside I doubt
That You could love me
But in Your eyes there's only grace now

Though I fall, You can make me new
From this death I will rise with You
Oh the grace reaching out for me
How can it be
How can it be

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

I am truly blessed.  My family is blessed. Our hearts are full this Thanksgiving Season!


Senior Pictures - Marine Nathan McCAll

I had the honor of taking my nephew's pictures for him this past summer.  We are so super proud of him.  He is officially a Marine!  I knew that some of these pictures would be very special.  Congratulations Nathan on your many accomplishments this year.  Ooh RAH!

Get JOY!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

An Open Letter to Camp Counselors!

Dear Camp Counselors (for my children's past and future counselors, other people's children their counselors),

I just got back from 5 days of counseling at a Kid's Camp.  I had been a counselor before... 16 years ago at a Jr./Sr. High Camp (pre-motherhood).  I was 22 and vowed I would never do it again for the rest of my life.  I have made the exception to do Royal Family Kids Camp once and just recently 5 days ago.  For some reason, I just couldn't say no to someone.  I knew I was walking into a week of hard work.  I was reminded why I made that solemn promise at such a young age and it is why I say thank you today.

Thank you for....

  • Preparing days before camp even starts, buying gifts, decorations, markers, flash lights, hair stuff, bags...the list could go on and on.  
  • Covering our kids in prayer before they even walk on the campgrounds.
  • Thinking of bringing extra blankets, bug spray, sunscreen, toothpaste, hair-ties, fans, space heaters, and Kleenex for my kid's runny nose. 
  • Stopping your life.
  • Turning off your phone.  
  • Being so excited and welcoming when they get dropped off.  This makes every mommy's heart soothed as they leave their children with others for 5 whole days!  Some of us have been in agony over it and will be while they are gone.  
  • Being trustworthy for us parents who are excited to get a break from our kids for 5 days!
  • Helping our kiddos get settled in and ready for the week. 
  • Guiding them through all the rules and keeping them on schedule!
  • Reminding them to brush their teeth.
  • Taking a midnight run to the bathroom.
  • Squishing spiders.
  • Carrying band-aids.
  • Handling meltdowns beautifully.
  • Making them take showers.
  • Braiding endless heads of hair.
  • Catching frogs.
  • Teaching them how to make friendship bracelets.
  • Advising them to change their underwear at least once during the week. 
  • Hugging them when they get homesick.
  • Managing friendship drama.
  • Checking the mouse traps in the cabin.
  • Cheering them on when they are struggling to pass their swim test.
  • Encouraging them when they fail swim test.
  • Hollering like a mad person to make them feel soooo good when they finally pass their swim test!!!!
  • Patting them on the back when they make a good decision. 
  • Somewhat controlling the amount of junk food they are consuming so they don't barf in their bed at night. 
  • Letting our kids find independence.  Because we all know we over-parent sometime and don't let them do half of the stuff they do one their own at camp. 
  • Showing my kid how to do something I have failed to teach them to do on their own. 
  • Bringing a night light for our kids who are afraid of the dark. 
  • Staying up later to make sure they are all asleep and safe.
  • Praying for our kid who has a nightmare in the middle of the night. 
  • Late night Glow Dance Parties!!!
  • Playing with them.
  • Taking another midnight run to the bathroom.
  • Winning games, challenges, clean cabin award!
  • Teaching them good sportsmanship when they lose. 
  • Counting your kids several times when they are swimming to make sure they are all safe.
  • Taking them on paddle boat rides when no one else will go with them.
  • Getting up an hour earlier so you can help them get ready. 
  • Reminding them to get their towel, tooth brush, soap, Bible.
  • Taking them to the nurse when they get hurt and hugging them while they are there. 
  • Preparing devotions specifically for your group. 
  • Praying with them at meals.
  • Walking, walking, walking and more walking (and probably destroying your shoes) with them everywhere to all their fun experiences.
  • Writing letters to them.
  • Keeping them under your umbrella while it pours.
  • Giving up your umbrella to keep them dry while it pours.
  • Praying words of life over my kids during chapel time.
  • Asking the Holy Spirit to make life changing moments in their hearts that will last long after they leave our home. 
  • Crying for them.
  • Weeping with them.
  • Correcting them.
  • Jumping for Joy alongside them.
  • Dancing with them.
  • Being an example on how to worship God.
  • Holding their hand.
  • Hugging them.
  • Listening to them.
  • Understanding their hurts.
  • Instructing them about the things of God.
  • Reminding them that God is their perfect heavenly Father who will never ever leave them and loves them more than anything. 
  • Leading our children to Jesus.
  • Inviting the Holy Spirit to fill them.
  • Being their biggest cheerleader when God shows them His plan for their life!
  • And for loving my kids!!!!

Thank You, a thousand times Thank You!  Because being a counselor is a thankless job.  You work 24 hrs for 5 straight days. Your muscles hurt.  You have gone through 2 pairs of flip flops. You probably ran out of clean clothes. You struggled to get a good night sleep. You are tired. You are exhausted.  But you don't care because you love our kids and you love God. And as you become a distant memory the moment their parents sweep them into their arms and drive off, remember every kid remembers their camp experience. It is at camp I rededicated my heart to Jesus. It was at camp my daughter asked Jesus into her heart.  It is at camp kids are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is at camp that kids are called to be pastors and missionaries.  There are experiences that happen at camp that will impact the way they live for the rest of their lives.  It is all because a group of people like yourself said yes to 5 days of camp.

So the words "Thank You" seem so insignificant for what you have done. In return, I ask that God will bless you with all the good and wonderful blessings from Heaven.  That He would fill you with joy overflowing.

With much love,
A mommy of your campers

Will I ever counsel again at camp?
....ehh I will leave that up to God now.  It is in my opinion, one of the hardest jobs in ministry I have ever done.


Special Thanks to Captured Photography for the top 3 pictures.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Jesse- Senior Photos

I had the honor to take some pictures of this good looking guy last week.  I am a little biased because he is my nephew.  Congratulations Jesse on being a 2014 graduate!!!

Much love from your aunt....

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Daughter - The Artist!

I am so proud of my girl and the artist she is becoming.  She has really found her niche in duct tape.  She is now selling her work to raise money for the various things like her missions trip she is going on this Sunday and a youth retreat in August.  I am loving her art and not just because I am her mom...but because she is getting good with that sticky stuff!  

So enjoy....
Bahama Beach-SOLD
Sunset Love - $60
Hope- SOLD
Redemption Price-SOLD
Lily Pad-SOLD
Florida Sun-SOLD
Abstract Sunshine- $60
Red Bridge-SOLD
Love it...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You Need the Right Stuff!!!

In studying of Joseph, I have learned so many things.  When faced with hard times, trial, or a disaster in one’s life I discovered that one must have character to make it through to the other side unscathed.  I am so impressed by this guy.  I mean come on... he was sold into slavery by his brothers and then thrown into jail falsely by his boss.  I wanted to figure out what it was about him that helped him not let his situation define and destroy him.  In reading, I discovered 10 characteristics one must grow in to face hard times with grace and honor.   Joseph is such a shining example of all of these characteristics.   

As a slave and a prisoner….
1.       He had a relationship with God. (39:2, 39:21)
2.       He was a hard worker and made the most of his situation. (39:3, 39:22)
3.       He was trustworthy. (39:6, 39:23)
4.       He had integrity. (39:8)
5.       He had self-control. (39:10)
6.       He remained pure. (39:12)
7.       He understood who he was and who God was. (40:8, 41:16)
8.       He was honest. (40:9-19)
9.       He was helpful. (41:33-36)
10.    He persevered. (41:46)

I want all of these characteristics to become a part of me.  When I allow God to develop all of these things, I know God will help me in hard times and circumstances.  Trials and bad things are going to happen, that is life….a fallen world.  But God helps us by not leaving us as we are.  All we need to do is ask God to help us be like Joseph. 

James 1:2-4
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dreams, Dreams, Dreams...UGH!

There is this song I like by Harry Nilsson….“Dreams are nothing more than wishes. And a wish's just a dream, wish to come true”.  Now he is singing a song about puppy’s and friends.  But lately, I think I have been a little scared to dream.  Sadly, I kind of let myself run from it. Probably because, like the words in the song, I am afraid that they will become wishes… never to come true. 

I know that this is not where God want’s me.  I know that God has every detail of my life unwrapping like a beautiful gift placed lovingly under a twinkle lit tree. But I am afraid what is in it.  Am I going to like it?  Is it going to be hard? Is it going to be filled with more pain?  Is it going to be filled with good things?  Will I find joy in it?  I know the answer is yes to all those questions.  I just don’t like yes to the gloomy ones.

I want to dream about the good things God has for me.  I want to know the path we are going to take next after we are done with this season of our lives. But there are so many questions…so little answers from Him right now.  Dreaming seems a little untouchable if that makes any sense. 

As I have been thinking about Joseph and his dream, I got to wondering.  I began to wonder if Joseph ever gave up on the dream.  I mean at just 17 he was given a dream that his brothers would bow down to him.  I wonder what he thought that meant.  I mean there wasn’t a laid out plan for how that would happen.  They were just doing it. (Gen. 37:1-17)

Did he give up on the dream when he sat at the bottom of the pit?

Did he give up on the dream as he watched his brothers sell him into slavery?

Did he give up on the dream as he served in Potiphar’s home?

Did he give up on the dream when he was unjustly thrown in jail?

Did he give up on the dream as he sat in that jail room waiting…waiting on God?

Well, I am sure that there were days Joseph was wondering what God was doing.  Maybe, he lost sight of the dream.  Maybe, he questioned the dream himself.  I mean it was what got him in this mess in the first place.  I bet there were days he was full of regret that he ever mentioned the dreams at all to his brothers.  He was human…just like me. 

I cannot escape Joseph’s character though throughout the story.  No matter what terrible place he found himself, his integrity always stayed intact.  That tells me something about this guy.  It tells me that he didn’t live his life in pursuit of the dream.  He lived his life in pursuit of the One who gave the dream. 

Huh…even as I write these simple words, God is showing me something so powerful.  It isn’t about the dream.  It isn’t about figuring out what the plan is for my life.  It is about pursuing the Dream Maker.  If Joseph never had those dreams…would God still have saved his family the same way?  I don’t know…probably.  Because it never was about the dreams, it was about the heart of a man who had to trust that dream to God at the bottom of a pit, in a home as a slave, and as a prisoner behind bars.

God gave me a dream as a young girl, a calling, to be in full time ministry.  He didn’t give me all the directions.  He didn’t lay out all the plans.  Because it isn’t really about the dream now is it?!  I really think it is about my heart.  My heart needs to be willing to go where ever God is asking me to go.  My heart needs to feel what God wants me to feel.  My heart must trust the Dream Maker no matter where the dream may lead.  Because in the end it really is not about me anyway.  It was not about Joseph either as we find in this verse…

God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. ~Gen.45:7

It is about what Christ wants to do in and through me.
So, my prayer is God here is my heart let Your dreams flow through me as you wish, because….

You are Truth
You are Life
You are the Savior of our souls!

I will….


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Joseph Bible Study

My hubby and I are teaching a class at our church about Joseph.  I am going to do my own Bible study on Joseph right here.  

What happens when our life goes in a completely different direction then we had planned?

Genesis 37
I Am Flawed!
Dreams, Dreams, Dreams..UGH!
You Need the Right Stuff!

I Am Flawed!

Did you ever realize that in the writing of Genesis, Joseph story is 13 chapters long?  That is 1/5 of the book.  Huh!  I am finding that is not too surprising; because I think God wants to say something very profound to Christ followers through the life of Joseph.

In chapter 37, I found some interesting little tidbits that really…well…spoke to me.  God began to show how relationships in our lives can affect our future.  I began to seek out answers to some questions like... Can God use me even when I have screwed up big time?  What about those flawed relationships in my own life?  How have I let any of those flaws shape my future?  What am I letting God do about it?  

Who knew that a coat could cause so much trouble? It was just a coat right?  

A Great Father Still Flawed
The great father of the Hebrew nation, Jacob…Israel… still even in his old age was flawed.  He chose a favorite son.  In doing so, he pitted his other sons against Joseph.  Jacob was not being an example to his boys.  He was not showing them how God loves us.  God does not have favorites…thank goodness or I would never be able to stand in the same room with people like Billy Graham, Corrie Ten Boom, or Mother Teresa.  
Wow, sometimes we think of giants of Bible as such holy people and that we can never be like them.  I mean come on, after all Jacob went through….man oh man, he literally wrestled with God for goodness sake.  The truth is, we are all flawed until we die, simply because we are human.  But it is only by God’s grace that covers us and makes a pure.  God is always working on our hearts.  In this life, we will never be perfect.  However, God is always working out His holiness in us until our very last breath if we let Him.

  • How many times do I still fail?  
  • How many times do I share favoritism? 

Bitter Brothers
Joseph’s brothers….yeah they had a right to be miffed.  No child wants to be loved less than another child.  That is not how God loves us.  We are not loved on a scale.  However, those boys had a decision to make.  They could let what their father said about them define them or they could let their heavenly Father define them. 
They decided to go in the wrong direction.  They decided to go the direction of hate.  The moment we let those feeling arise inside of us, it is like a cancer that eats away every good thing that God wants to do.  It can take over to the point that we can’t even hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling us to stop what we are doing and turn away from sin.  Those boys could not hear the Spirit as they were devising a plan to kill their brother over a coat and a dream. 

  • Have I let hate slip into my heart towards anyone?  
  • Has bitterness got a hold of me?

Failed Leader
Reuben, the oldest brother, has a tender heart.  Many may see him as a little bit of a hero in this story, because he doesn’t want to kill Joseph and finds a way to talk his brothers out of it.  But here is the deal, Reuben was the first born, the heir, he had a lot of ability to change the course of this story…but he didn’t.
 I see Reuben as missed opportunity for greatness.  He let fear and his own anger keep him from doing the complete right thing.  He only went half way with God.  He knew killing Joseph was wrong.  But he didn’t have enough courage to say, “No Brothers! This is an evil plan in the eyes of the Lord. We will not kill our brother or not let any evil come to him.”  Those were never his words or actions although it was his intent.  Life is full of good intentions. But God looks at our actions!!!

  • Am I full of just good intentions, but no action?  
  • Am I holding back anything from God?

Selfish Greedy Brother
Judah…well he just took the change of course in their plan to be greedy and make some money off his brother.  How many times do we use people’s misfortune for our gain?  Sadly, maybe more than we want to admit.

  • Have I used people for my selfish gain or ambition?
  • Do I only care about myself?

A Prideful Son
Lastly, Joseph the amazing man of God in our story.    Yet, I can’t escape his flaw in this story as it begins to unfold.  You see Joseph is just 17 when he receives his “Coat of Many Colors” and I don’t think he was an idiot even though he was young.  He knew what that special coat meant and he knew how his brothers treated him after.  He knew that he was his dad’s favorite.  I think he wore that coat with pride. 
When he has the two dreams, I think we see this pride come out.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with what God spoke to him in his dreams.  I think the problem arises in Joseph’s approach as he shares it with his brothers.  He does not come humbly to his brothers. In fact, it was kind of like dropping a ninja kick to a wasp’s nest and expecting them to just be okay with it.  Even his own father rebukes him.  I think the reaction from his brothers and dad is very telling of the attitude that Joseph was displaying.  Even Joseph is flawed.

  • Have I let my gifts become more important than people?  
  • Have I become prideful?

Yet, in all our flaws God is working out an amazing story of Grace.  He is not surprised by our mistakes or the mistakes of others in our lives.  He knows how to use them.  God was about to work out the most amazing story of struggle, perseverance, holiness, integrity, leadership, courage, forgiveness, love, and provision found in the Bible through the most flawed of men.   Thank God that he uses us in all our flaws.  Thank goodness in the end He can redeem us even when we are drowning in a grand mess of our own sin. Thank God, He pulls us up out of the pit when we cry out to him.

Romans 8:28

New Living Translation (NLT)
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Thank you Jesus that you love us...flaws and all!