Tag Archives: encouragement

The Art Show

Last week, we–as a family–headed down to Cincinnati for an evening of fun. First stop was a run-around through Ikea (that place is like a corn maze!) with the intent of finding a reading chair for my room. The hunt turned out quite successful as we left with a small recliner-style chair loaded in the back of the suburban. It is a simple, but lovely black chair and it has already been well used! We also went to Jungle Jim’s–the coolest international market around! We all ventured to our favorite places around the world in search of goodies. My focus was the variety of teas: Papaya and Passion Fruit black tea from the Asian section and herbal teas from the England section–Raspberry Cream Caramel and Tangerine Almond.

We then headed out to the Clifton Cultural Arts Center for the art show in which I was a participant, with collaborating artwork and two of my own paintings. Although I barely missed meeting with the three girls that I had been in Skype contact with over the previous months, I did have a chance to meet the two professors–Jenny and Sarah–and one other student from their class. The collaborating watercolor cards (that I started) were not yet complete, so I look forward to seeing the outcome when the girls send them to me in the mail; the painting canvas, however, was finished and on display. Because I had only started the canvases, seeing the outcome didn’t feel like I had any part in the project, though I did. A very strange and new experience, because I still feel as though I make art thinking inside the box…a very traditional view of art I guess. IMG_4913


IMG_4932 Jenny, me, Sarah

IMG_4916 My own paintings: Clematis in Full Bloom and Fire and Ice

As I ended viewing the art exhibits around the room, I had a chance to talk more with Jenny about the class, art experience and purpose of this particular show. I had noticed a theme: much of the art descriptions discussed around the area of cancer or other life-threatening traumas–the pain, emotions, questions, fears, doubts, hopes and dreams, survival. Jenny mentioned that she had encouraged the students to think deeply of these things and portray them–because we are all affected, whether you are the one facing the trials or it is someone else you know. Art is a medium to express these different side-effects of disease.

One art set was a participant project where cards and pens had been placed on a table. You were invited to write an encouraging letter to an anonymous adult cancer survivor or patient. (Read about full project here: The Mandala Project.) I locked my walker so I could sit at the table and picked up a blank card. At first I didn’t know what to say…I get a lot of encouraging letters, sometimes even from strangers, but here I sat speechless for a few minutes. I finally started just by saying my name and that I didn’t have cancer, but a rare disease with tumors. After my first introduction sentence, thoughts just started to come…

I concluded my note by mentioning strength, because, let’s be honest…whether it’s cancer, NF2 or another disease, any can initially wipe out your strength–physically, mentally and emotionally. I have been there. I still am there. And it is when you cry out in your uttermost weaknesses, that God answers in His fullness of strength…in ways you never anticipated, hoped or dreamed.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26, ESV


Filed under Family Times, Paintings, Uncategorized

Thankful for Today

I didn’t take much notice of the blue skies and appearing sunshine when I first woke this morning. Remembering the days of summer when waking between 6:30-7 A.M. was pure joy (and total spontaneous…), I groggily pull myself out of bed around 7:40 after smacking my snooze button at least three times prior. Stanley Steemer was coming between 8-9 A.M. to spot clean the carpet, in which my room was one of them. I text Mom to tell her I am awake (though not desiring to be out of bed yet) and get ready.

As I enter the kitchen, Mom has the coffee brewing and I grab a quick bowl of cereal for breakfast. “I could be more awake if I went to bed earlier,” my thoughts conclude. This past week, I have had many late evenings. If I did not want to blame myself, I would put blame on the authors who write incredible novels. I started one Saturday evening and simply could not put it down! Last night I had about eighty pages left and knew if I didn’t conclude the story, I wouldn’t sleep anyway. I am known to finish good reads such as this at the wee hours in the morning, but last night, it was just until 1 A.M.

Blue skies and sunshine were not highly celebrated by my family or I while living in Colorado. In fact, like the mountains, I simply took the combination for granted. After moving, the skies proved very different! I can handle the long streaks of rainy days, but what gets me is the days where the sky is just white: no clouds, no sun, no blue. Just white, as if a drywall has been placed between earth and the heavens. Not so today! Blue skies and sunshine. As I reenter the kitchen a few hours later for lunch, I tell Mom: “These kinds of days give me energy!” And sort of pump my arms in cheerleader fashion.

Last week I called my good lady friend for a chat. Gayle is more like another grandma as she has known my family and I even before I was born. Her godly wisdom and sense of humor are something that encourages me every chance we get to talk (or when I visited her during Denver days.) She is the only mid-eighties woman I know that can chat more about football than even myself! No offense to my family, but I don’t get very far when discussing the topic with them (except for my brother-in-law!) 🙂

So when I called her, our first order of talk was indeed football, seeing as the Superbowl is approaching this coming Sunday and we are both Broncos fans! We talked about family and the holidays; current news, weather and a few fun things coming up. Eventually we got around to discussing health–she has Diabetes and myself with NF2. About the only thing we have in common is bad balance and occasional falls (but no broken bones!) We near the end of our conversation and I briefly mention the dates for my upcoming MRI/doctor appointments. I share a few thoughts on the matter and tell her that there is nothing I can do at this point besides take life one day at a time and live it to the fullest and to the best of my abilities while I can.

She listened then responded, “Well I’ll tell you…I am just so thankful that you are still able to get yourself around and take care of yourself and not confined yet. I am happy to hear that.” I got a few tears in my eyes, “Thanks Gayle.”

When I commented to Mom about the sunshine, blue skies and energy, my mind flashed with thoughts of Gayle. She was thankful for my health, though we had discussed even the changes that are spiraling downward. How often do I get out of bed and pray simply, “Thank you for this new day,” or “Thank you that I can still get myself out of bed and prepare for the day.” In honesty, I don’t…especially on the white days. But I desire to start a new praise habit…one of thankfulness in the morning, no matter the colors of the sky.

Blue skies that take me back to being a child
Trees with leaves that turn the colors I love
A heart that’s beating to Your melodies ringing
And I am a miracle ’cause heaven is a part of me
And You are the song that I’m singing

“All Things New.” Watermark. Rocketown, 2004.


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times