A Walkabout for Art Lovers in Nice, France

This Fall I plan to visit Nice, France, on the Cote d’Azur (blue sea) in the South of France. Also known as the French Riviera, it was a playground for artists – inspiring them to create art in a way that Paris could not, with the sun, sea and ocean breeze as subjects of their modernist paintings.

As an artist, I am looking forward to visiting the Marc Chagall Museum in Nice. Having a Jewish heritage myself, Monsuier Chagall is a favorite. I first saw his genius in the stained glass windows of the chapel in Haddassah Hospital outside Jerusalem, on my first tour of Israel. I was moved by his biblical scenes and my messianic-Jewish tour guide (a Jew who believes in Jesus) gave a delightful commentary as we visited the chapel. My favorite Chagall painting, La Mariee, is of a bride with violin-playing goat.

The Musee Marc Chagall was created with the cooperation of the artist himself, with large paintings illustrating the first two chapters of the Bible, Genesis and Exodus; and Solomon’s Song of Songs or Canticles, which is a biblical meditation on love.

THE LIFE OF CHAGALL

Marc Chagall, born Moishe Zakharovich Shagalov; (1887 –– 1985) was a Russian-French artist of Belarusian Jewish origin. An early modernist, he was associated with several major artistic styles and created works in virtually every artistic format, including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints.

Chagall was born into Russian poverty (his father was a herring merchant) and he went on to live a life encompassing nearly 100 years. He lived the Russian revolution, arrived in Paris not speaking a word of French, returned to his village to marry his fiancé and was then trapped in Russia during WWI. He returned to Paris to become one of the Modernist masters, but even this couldn’t save him as a Jew during WWII and his family had to be smuggled out of France to America. During this time his Jewish hometown was decimated from a population of over 200,000 to just 118 survivors.

Despite this, his work is infused with joy and optimism, whimsical dreamlike symbols, and always evoking his humble childhood and faith.

CHAGALL ON THE RIVIERA

Chagall lived his final years in Saint Paul de Vence from 1966-1985, where he was constantly in motion on new projects, even up to the day he died at age 97 (his tomb can be found in the Saint Paul de Vence cemetery). His works can be found up and down the coast – and sometimes crop up in surprising places, like at the winery Sainte Roseline where a Chagall mosaic covers a wall in the chapel, or in the back of L’Ane Rouge restaurant in the Nice Port, where you can find a red ceramic donkey, a gift to his stubborn red-haired mistress, Anne, who he nicknamed L’Ane Rouge, and who then gave the name to her restaurant.

How to Get There:

Take bus Bus #15 Rimiez/St-George, which you can catch behind the Nice Etoile Shopping Center, behind Galeries Lafayette, or on rue Geoffredo. Once the bus is well up the hill and you have a great city view to your left, you know your stop is getting close. After you pass the ‘Rolland Garros’ stop, push the red button and get off at the ‘Musee Chagall’ stop. The museum is via the road on your left. The museum is on Avenue Docteur Menard, which is just off Boulevard de Cimiez.*

Voyages heureux à Nice – Miriam

Check out my memoirs available on Amazon.com in ebook or paperback
Becoming Miriam: A Life Transformed by God.

*adapted from Allison Coe – Best of Nice, Blog.


Paris Here I Come: The Best Falafel in Paris Review

Yes, I am excited to say my long planned trip to Paris is finally coming to pass. I have been waiting for the Lord to provide the money to go, and voila, I have received a nice settlement from a car accident which will allow me to travel to France.

One of my desired things to do when I get to Paris is visit the Jewish Quarter, the Marais, and have a falafel at what I have been told is the best falafel restaurant. I hear they are out of this world, and having spent much time in Israel, I love to eat them. If you are going to Jerusalem anytime soon, the best place to get one is in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City. They put French fries in them, which I love.

In the Marais district of Paris, long lines form in front of a tiny, dark green storefront, where tourists and locals alike await what just may be the best falafel sandwich in all of Europe. At least according to Lenny Kravitz, whose picture adorns this always crowded kosher eatery. Yes, while the City of Lights is renowned for its Michelin-starred restaurants and gourmet cuisine, one may not always feel up for a multi-course meal.

If you’re looking for something delicious and budget friendly, (a classic falafel pita cost 5 euro and will satisfy your appetite for hours and hours), head straight for the Marais district and don’t stop walking until you get to 34, rue des Rosiers.

The neighbourhood, the traditional Jewish quarter of Paris, is full of falafel joints, but L’As du Falafel is widely-known to be the best (Paris resident and professional food writer and blogger, David Lebovitz, puts L’As du falafel at number 2 on his list of 10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris). Give your money to the Israeli guys standing outside, and get in line to pick up your order from the take-away window.

What you’ll get is a pita stuffed to the brim (you’ll need a fork and lots of napkins) with super-crisp, garlicky chickpea fritters, creamy hummus, lightly pickled red cabbage, salted cucumbers, fried eggplant and just-hot-enough harissa (ask for extra sauce piquant).

One word of advice: don’t save this meal for your last day on a Paris visit. Once you have one of these falafel sandwiches, you’ll want to come back again for another.

L’As du Falafel
34 rue des Rosiers (Métro Saint Paul), Paris
+33 (1) 48 87 63 60
Closed Saturdays

Bon Appetit! Wish me luck in my travels! – Miriam

Check out my book/memoirs: Becoming Miriam: A life transformed by God – click above or for sale at Amazon.com


Do you love a great Zoo?

Bon Jour! Zoos are some of my favorite things, visiting them wherever I travel. How about you? Today, I will take you on a tour of famous zoos, including one in Paris!

I remember as a teenager visiting my older sister Kathy in San Diego and spending the day wandering the huge San Diego Zoo, happy to see the animals in natural habitats. My favorite animal is the seal or otter, and I love to see them swimming around while barking. And of course, I often travelled to the San Francisco Zoo, taking my students when I was teaching elementary school.

Then one day while staying in Jerusalem during my missionary days there, I took the bus to the The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo to explore. It was November, and warm with a cool breeze, like the Fall gets there. Colorful leaves blew around my feet as I debarked the bus. I paid my 10 shekels to enter and was so surprised to see the native animals of the Bible, one after another. Each habitat had a sign posted with the Scripture from the Jewish Bible that mentions the animal, and where it came from, which was fascinating to see! God’s Word at the Zoo! King Solomon brought many of the animals on his great ships into the port at the tip of the Red Sea, now know as Eilat.

The zoo sees its primary goal as the conservation of endangered species. These include animals mentioned in the Bible which are now extinct in Israel, such as the Asian lion, the Syrian brown bear, the Asiatic cheetah, the Nile crocodile, and the Persian fallow deer.

Finally, I reached a large open reserve where animals roamed freely together. I rested on a bench overlooking the reserve nearby an Orthodox woman, in her long sleeves and skirt and wig, nursing her baby. I was shocked as I had never seen an Orthodox woman breastfeeding. She smiled at me, and I smiled back. Such peace and tranquility until an Israeli fighter jet flew overhead, breaking the silence and scattering the animals. A spark of fear settled in my heart, wondering if an attack was imminent. Just a typical day in Israel, I reminded myself.

And in the spirit of keeping everything French and highlighting some fun things to do if you get to Paris, may I recommend the Melagerie du Jardin des Plantes (Zoo & Gardens), the oldest zoo in France, right in the heart of Paris. In 1793 the Jardin des Plantes, which was originally a botanical garden, became the first public zoo in France. The compact 16 acre area, with formal 18th-century landscaping, was retained when the Jardin was renovated between 1918 and 1939. It holds some 1,100 specimens, including the rare Przewalski’s horse. It was the personal zoo of the aristocracy, who selected many animals to reside there from all of Europe and beyond.

I plan on visiting when I take my trip to Paris in the near future while enjoying the beautiful botanical gardens. I hope to paint some of the flowers there with my pastels and include them in my art greeting card collection. I wonder what animal and flower will be my favorite? Restez à l’écoute – stay turned! Au revoir mes amis. – Goodbye my friends!

Check out my book/memoirs: Becoming Miriam: A life transformed by God – click above
or for sale at Amazon.com.

To see my art greeting cards, click here


Escape to the South of France – A Book Review: Cooking for Picasso

Do you ever have a book you just can’t put down, that you feel was placed in your hands for such a time as this? This was the case for me, as I discovered a new author named Camille Aubray who lives in the South of France and wrote a wonderful mystery/romance novel called Cooking for Picasso.

As you might know, I hope to move to the Cote de Azur (blue sea) in France to start a new life serving the Lord as an artist and writer. My heart is already there, so I was thrilled to be brought right into the pages, through the author’s descriptive, colorful paintings of the area and its food and Provence cooking. I also loved how she brought into the story the famous artists who painted the area, including Picasso and Matisse, from the 1930s onward. The reader gets a peek into this little known time of Picasso’s life: his women and his art, following him to his last years living in Paris.

Cooking for Picasso, tells the story of three generations of French women, starting with Ondine, a young French girl living in the town of Juan Les Pins, nearby Antibes, whose family runs a popular cafe in the 1930s. One day she is sent to cook for a secret Patron who turns out to be Picasso. The story line jumps back and forth to modern day 1980s, where her daughter Julie and granddaughter Celine set out to solve the puzzle of the missing Picasso painting done of Ondine called Woman at the Window.

A mesmerizing story of love, heartbreak, and the search for our true passion and purpose, I highly recommend Cooking for Picasso. Anyone with a heart for French cooking, art and the joie de vie that the South of France can bring will find it delightful. Available at Amazon.com or your local bookstore or library.


A Virtual Trip to Paris on Christmas Day

is-1Joyeux Noel! Merry Christmas in French. It’s Christmas Day here outside San Francisco and I am writing my first blog post for my new theme C’est La Vie! (This is life!) I hope you are somewhere warm celebrating the birth of our dear Savior Jesus, who came to bring light to our darkness and freedom and hope for eternal life to each one of us.

Now that my first book, Becoming Miriam: A Life Transformed by God is published and available for sale on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle/ebook img_1397formats, I can go forth with my plans of going to Paris and fulfilling my dream of being a writer and artist there. I plan on taking a long trip to write in the cafe where famous authors wrote during the Romance-age of Paris and paint where famous artists painted..

I plan to go to Cafe Les Deux Magots in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris, which was the rendezvous of the literary and is-2intellectual society. I know the booth where Hemingway wrote and desire to sit with my laptop and work on my second book, which is a continuation of my first, how God is leading me to France to live and minister there. Think what inspiration this will be. Sipping on a Cafe Creme, letting a buttery croissant melt in my mouth. Watching all the people, hearing French spoken and using my limited French with the waiter.

After a day writing, I hope to take my pastels down to the river Seine, the main large river that runs through Paris in a snake shape, and paint the famous bridges. I will take a coffee and walk till I find that perfect one, perhaps with Notre Dame Cathedral in the background, Think what inspiration that will be, to imagine is-3how Picasso, Monet, and Chagall painted the same spot, and to be surrounded by other artists hoping to make their mark in the art world. I’ll capture how the sunlight dances on the dark green water, and the clouds floating by. Perhaps there will be a small child with a colorful balloon.

My heart will soar as my dream comes true, as God is a giver of good dreams. It has been a hard, long wait, with the passing of my father this summer, and recovery from a car accident of 14 months, along with a bout with melanoma cancer.

But our God promises to bring good out of evil and sickness, to give us the hope of life with a loving God who adopts us as His child, even when we are alone and abandoned by our own families. He will never leave us or abandon us, and will come live in our heart when we ask him to forgive our sins and give us a clear, new beginning.

You can learn how to have this personal relationship with God by reading my book, which shares how I found this same relationship is-4after a life that left me with a broken heart and damaged life. Jesus was faithful to restore me and can for you too, no matter how wounded you are.

Back to France…I have some resources to share with you if you would like to come along and dream with me about going to Paris. Read the book: The Paris Wife: The First Mrs. Hemingway, by Paula McLain.The Paris Wife takes place in the hopelessly romantic 1920s, as Hadley, a 28-year-old virgin, and Hemingway, a terribly ambitious 21-year-old wounded in the First World War, start their lives together in France.

is-5McLain smartly explores Hadley’s ambivalence about her role as supportive wife to a budding genius, and the novel is at its most powerful and devastating in its portrayal of two key moments in the marriage: when Hadley leaves a valise with her husband’s manuscripts on a train, only to see them stolen, and later, when she realizes he has left her out of his first novel,The Sun Also Rises.

It is a great read, and allows the reader to step into the romance of 1920s Paris. For a movie that does the same thing, I recommend the movie Midnight in Paris (2011), directed by Woody Allen, starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams set in modern day Paris. While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée’s family, Gil, a writer, 220px-Midnight_in_Paris_Posterwalks the streets of Paris at midnight only to be offered a ride in a car that has him time traveling back to the romance of the 1920s. There he meets the greats: Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Picasso.

I hope you have enjoyed our little trip to Paris today, and will follow along on my blog to enjoy more! I also plan to go to the South of France and visit Nice, where Chagall and Picasso both have museums.

Blessings to you, dear reader on this Christmas Day.
Un joyeux Noël à tous nos lecteurs.

Au Revoir!

To read a synopsis of my book, click above or go to Amazon.com

To view my greeting cards that feature my art, click above or go to miriamsarzotti.com


Paris: The Inspirational Story Behind My Book:

Don’t you love to find out how an author chooses to write their story or memoir? I was inspired to write my pre-published book, Becoming Miriam: A Life Transformed by God from a Hollywood movie. Yes, it’s true! I share below how my desire to go to Paris, France, came into being along with my first book. Enjoy!

Writing my story – January 23, 2012, San Carlos, California.

Do not remember the former things nor consider the things of old, Behold I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth, Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

th-3I had just returned from a one night retreat down near Carmel, which sits on the ocean in Central California. I came away from the retreat feeling renewed in my spirit. While there, the Lord whispered to my heart that when I came home there would be a blessing waiting for me that would make me cry. I eagerly opened the mail and found the movie Sabrina, waiting in my mailbox from a mail order movie service.

th The next day, I watched the modern story of Sabrina with Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford (not the Audrey Hepburn version). As Sabrina ran off to Paris to find herself, I told the Lord i wanted my freedom to do this too, not always waiting on His perfect will do do whatever He asked of me.

Deep down I was miserable, living an oppressive life of financial disability, spiritual oppression and feelings of futility. How I wanted to run off to Paris and do the Paris artist thing. To paint and draw and hang out at the cafe. To walk the Seine th-4and all its 23 bridges, finding my favorite to journal on just like Sabrina did.

Deep inside, I felt the Lord say, “Do you really want to run away from me and my will for your life? For there in the center of my will you will find safety.” I realized this was the answer to my feelings of insecurity all the time. “No, Lord, I don’t want to run away from you,” I said with tears in my eyes. He tenderly replied, “I want to give you the desires of your heart, all of them, as your Heavenly Father who loves and adores you, I know you want to travel the world and i will bring a large provision for you to do so.”

Excited now, I realized my deepest desire was to write, but what? I implored of the Lord what to write. “Write your life story; speak the truth and many others will find hope in your story of redemption and healing from abuse, mental illness, and ministry.”

With the Lord’s permission now, I excitedly jumped on the bed like a child, praising Him for His goodness and loving me enough to give my my heart’s desire. I would trust the Holy Spirit to show me how to write my story, and what to include in the chapters. I promised to use this gift of writing He had imparted in me to bring Him glory. I felt a new freedom to do what my heart desired and take a break from ministry.

th-6The next day, I sat at Peets Care with my morning coffee and began to write my story. I found an application called “Ulysses” to organize my book. As I sat down to write, I felt an anointing from the Holy Spirit.The story just flowed from my fingers. I wrote the forward, inspiration, and the highlights of what my story would tell. It just flowed out in perfect order from my heart. Bowing my head in gratitude, I prayed, “Lord, I will wait for the money to go to Paris and will be faithful to write every day as it rains here in January.

I faithfully awoke each morning, happy to have a project to work on that brought me such joy. The sense of futility I had suffered lifted. I realized God’s financial provision through my disability that allowed me stay home and write my book. The bigger picture came into light and I felt the Lord’s hand on my life.

One morning, He reminded me of a Parisian cafe around the corner that had just opened. Taking my laptop with me, I visited the cafe to find the French owner, th-1Geoffrey, welcome me with a loud. “Bon Jour Madame”. The menu was full of french comfort food and French music played in the background, I sat and ordered a french cafe, or coffee, and felt as if I had stepped into Parisian cafe. If I couldn’t go to Paris, the Lord would bring Paris to me! I vowed to come every day to write as I sipped the french campaigned the owner blessed me with! Oh La La!

Within two months, my entire story had poured out of my soul and I had my first draft of ten chapters with an intriguing title, “Running from the Witches: How the Redemptive Love and Power of Jesus Christ Healed my Life”. (Later to be changed!)

I found it healing to write all parts of my story; the trauma I experienced on the mission field when I was a missionary to the Jewish people, both here and in Israel,th-5 and the trauma I incurred as a child. While writing through the trauma, tears would fall from my eyes and wet my hands on the keyboard as I relived the evil abuse I suffered. I knew I was writing this book to give Glory to the Lord for healing my life and redeeming me from the pit I had been in.

Hope and love flowed through my heart as I realized one day this book would be published and my life restored. It encouraged me to know I would bring hope and healing to others. I knew now my life with all its valleys and mountain top experiences, had been for a reason. My life was a tapestry the Lord was weaving together; on the back it looked like a bunch of twisted strings, but on the front side a beautiful painting of a whole and full life was appearing.

th-2Today (July, 2015), my book is finished, except for the afterword. I plan to write it in Paris at a cafe where Ernest Hemingway wrote. I’ll then be able to say, I did indeed write my book in Paris! I continue to await his financial provision to go.

I have experienced the struggles of a writer; the ups and downs, the set backs and victories, the blogs and tweets. I remind myself every day how blessed I am to fulfill my lifetime dream of writing a book. Thank you Jesus.

To see my Christian art and greeting cards, go to ‘my art’ above or giftsofhisglory.com


Meeting God at the Fair

thIt had been two of those hellish weeks, when everything was difficult and the Devil was trying (and succeeding) to attack and discourage me. I felt overwhelmed with scary landlord issues, getting new carpet installed, the internet going out, starting a challenging new volunteer job, and 103 degree heat. All I could do was cry out to God: “Help”.

And then God moved. I attended my acupuncture appointment after a month had passed, the longest I had gone without a session. As the needles did their magic, God whispered to me answers to my prayers and encouraged me with visions of my new life in France. I relaxed and breathed again. Yes, He was still in control.

IMG_0810And then in rained. On the day I was planning to go to the local county fair with my friend Patrice. I was longing for a day of fun, to be like a kid again. So I put on my waterproof hat, not to be deterred, and off we went.

We were first to arrive. As the rain came down, the blessings began. We had the fairgrounds almost to ourselves. No crowds, no heat. Not your usual fair, right? We picked out tasty food, Greek fries (yum) for me, and chicken gyro for Patrice. We IMG_0805talked and shared stories. Then we wandered over to the animals and had such good belly laughs at pigs deep in slumber and turkey Tom strutting his stuff. Of course, we took pictures with our iphones and sent them on Facebook right away to our friends.

Then we stumbled upon the butterfly tent. Inside where hundreds of butterflies butterfliesfluttering around. We were given a Q-tip to dip in nectar to feed them. Did you know butterflies eat with their legs? Yes, it’s true. I had a “God moment” when two butterflies alighted on my pink shirt and stuck to me like glue. I took a deep breath and told Patrice, “I think they are attracted to the Jesus light in me.” Yes, indeed, they knew the presence of their IMG_1276maker, God, creator of all things. I was struck by God’s tenderness to me, to allow me to experience a new and glorious thing: feeding butterflies! Knowing they live such a short life span of 14 days, reminded me of the preciousness of life, and put things into perspective.

IMG_0812I felt his presence in Patrice’s laughter as we next watched the pig races, a first for her, and what she most wanted to see. Giggling, we next rode the carousal, me picking a horse with pink roses on its mane, and she picking a zebra. As we bobbed up and down to the music, I felt the IMG_0822Lord’s presence and threw him a kiss, so happy to be with Him, as He washed our dry land with plentiful rain.
IMG_0820

In the art gallery, I saw his beauty in the creation of paintings and photographs that displayed His glory and was humbled by the artistic craftsmanship of the quilts, mine being no where as good as these! Finally, we ended our day with treats no fair experience is good without: a soft ice cream cone for me; and a chocolate dipped banana with nuts for Patrice, as the rain dripped steadily on our faces. Our feet were tired as we left the fair, joking as we walked along that we might be old, but not too old to get on and off the merry-go-round!

God is all around you and wants you to cherish His presence about you. Can you take a minute today and ask Him to show himself to you? The God of the universe loves you and wants to be in personal relationship with you, if you only ask. His son, Jesus, jesusandusinheavenwill come make His home with you, forgive you of your sins, and give you eternal life in Heaven with him. Simply open your heart and invite him in today. It’s that easy.

I wish you a summer full of God appearances. May you find His joy at the most unlikely places, as I did at the fair!

To see my paintings and greeting cards, click on ‘my art’ above or giftsofhisglory.com

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Packing by Faith…My Latest Adventure.

I sit at my desk surrounded by boxes packed and waiting to be sealed up. I am planning on moving after 13 years at my apartment in downtown San Carlos which has been both a blessing (location) and curse, facing many trials. But in my prayer time, the Lord finally whispered to me its time to move.

“Where, Lord,” I have petitioned Him over and over. My heart has been to go to Paris and finish my book by writing the ‘afterward’ at a cafe where famous writers have written their best sellers, such as Hemingway. I have wanted to go to walk the Siene river and paint where Picasso and Monet painted. It has been my dream trip and a door I believe the Lord will open for me soon.

My heart is also in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, amongst the quiet lifestyle of the Amish and farm country. Visiting four years ago, I feel in love with the people and the fall season of leaves turning red, yellow and orange, so unlike here in Northern California. I have desired to marry, to quilt, make my own soap, sew my future children’s clothes and get fresh milk from the dairy. I know it is a dichotomy to want to live in France and the Bible Belt of America. But those are the two sides of me.

God is good that way. He plants the desires of our heart and then gives them to us. Often waiting a VERY long time, as I have, for my dreams to come true. “How will you survive the long, snowy winters, Miriam? my friends ask. “Hopefully with a break and trip to Palm Springs desert,” I reply laughing.

So I began to pack up my apartment, not knowing the next step as to where God will first lead me, but I know He will. Over and over He gives me the Scripture “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Me, and I will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I know he can do more than I ask or imagine, including bringing the resources I need to move; finances, home, plane ticket. I am trusting Him by faith. Sometimes God asks us to take that first step of faith, even though it seems strange or crazy to others.

After all, my relationship is with Him and I strive to be obedient. He knows the plan and the future, and that it is good. “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Stay tuned for my destination in my next blog post!

What step of faith is God asking you to take today? Leave me a comment and let me know!

To see my Thanksgiving and Christmas greeting cards with Scripture, see ‘my art’ above or www.giftsofhisglory.com. Special price on bundle of 6 cards! They make great gifts too!christmas poinsettias 5 x 7 greeting scan final


Magnificent Desolution – Guest Writer Rebecca Qualls

Today I welcome guest writer Rebecca Qualls to my blog.  I first met Rebecca when she was my ‘buddy’ at my first Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference three years ago.  She took me under her wing and helped me navigate the conference, offering encouragement along the way  We remained friends on Facebook, sharing the ups and downs of life and writing.I asked her to share her writing talent with you, as I  take a break from writing.  Enjoy her post!

“Beautiful!  Beautiful! Magnificent desolation.”-Buzz Aldrin, American astronaut

It’s been eighteen months. Eighteen months since we left suburban California life and bought a home on six acres in the high desert of northern Nevada.
We live in a beautiful agricultural valley surrounded by several mountain ranges and tumble weeds. You never forget the first time the strong winds pick up a tumble weed and send it into your backside. It’s like a right of passage.
In fact, there seem to be a lot of those–rights of passage. Butchering chickens. Collecting eggs everyday. Getting up early even on the weekends to feed the animals. Rural life is, well, sort of like leaving Oz to live in Kansas.
But living in the desert takes pastoral to a whole new level. It’s stark, with mind boggling weather shifts, intensely dry, arid and windy. (And not coastal breeze windy. I’m talking dust storm windy. See note about tumbleweeds above.)
When we first got here, I couldn’t help but think of the Israelites. They lived in a beautiful and fertile place. Until Moses. He led them smack dab into the desert. You know the story, right? The parting of the Red Sea, the water gushing out of the rock, manna, not to mention, the roaming for forty years. Hours of Sunday School Bible class watching as the stories were told using cut outs and a large flannel board. I had heard the stories so many times, I thought I had a handle on what living in the desert must have been like. Boy, was I wrong.
Granted, I’m not wandering around like a nomad or gathering our only food source out of the yard every morning. I haven’t marched on a walled city recently; but even now, eighteen months later, I ponder the similarities.
Stark, dry, windy, desolate. And yet, beautiful.
As I began to make the comparison, I contemplated the reasons for God transplanting the Israelites into the desert.
“Why?” I asked many times in the barrenness. Why here? Nearly every time I did, I would encounter a photo op as resplendent as this one.
Why here? I thought I had a budding ministry back in California.
If a picture says a thousand words, God was answering my question in tomes. I didn’t understand it at first. We live here simply because it’s beautiful?
It’s been eighteen months and although I still don’t understand completely what God is doing, that’s no longer the issue. “Why” in the desert has a way of getting lost. It disappears behind each breathtaking sunset and indescribable cloud formation.
God’s response to my persistent question has been gentle and consistent.
Repeatedly He simply shows Himself. His glory and His simplicity. His majesty and His mystery. Creator God. Orchestrator of the Heavens.
The why is swallowed by Who.
In the manner God so often works, it goes even deeper. There are the people around us and the animals we have taken charge over. Here in the desert, our neighbors aren’t the people we simply wave to when we are mowing the lawn. They are the one’s who drop what they are doing to help you catch the sheep that just got loose. They are the one’s who know your kiddos are going to be walking home in the rain from bus stop so they  meet them at the road and give them a lift home. Neighbors in the desert are the one’s who laugh when you laugh and cry when you cry.
“Beautiful! Beautiful! Magnificent desolation!”
Sometimes it takes the desolation to see the magnificence. Sometimes it takes the contrast of grandeur in the middle of stark to demonstrate truth profoundly.
There are so many things that happen in our lives that take shape beyond the scope of understanding. We strive to understand, to make sense of the chaos. I don’t know that I will ever fully understand why, but I see who. I see Who made the grandeur, and I see who I get to share it with. And maybe that was part of God’s plan for the Israelites, too. It was time they saw and experienced a lot more who.
In your own desolation, can you see the beautiful Who?
Rebecca Qualls currently resides in beautiful and quite rural, Smith Valley, Nevada, with her husband and three children. Her debut novel, “Distressed,” is available on Amazon.

Distressed
Driscoll, a law enforcement officer and his wife Alex, have worked hard to build a life for themselves, but when Driscoll heroically rescues a man from a burning car, and their young son is rushed to the hospital for an unexplainable seizure, the two discover they have taken different roads. They must find a way back to each other or lose everything. This suspenseful and emotional story will show you the burdens a hero bears and the strength required to love.

To see Miriam’s Scripture art and greeting cards go to ‘my art’ above or www.giftsofhisglory.com

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My Magical time in Victoria, Canada

Inner Harbor, Victoria

It started with an unexpected check in the mail.  I had been praying for money for a vacation and with delight, here it was from the Lord’s hand to mine.  Paris? No, not enough money. Hawaii?  No, it would buy me maybe three days.

Then it came to me:  Victoria, British Columbia.  I had been as a teenager and remembered its beauty.  I wanted a place to have a honeymoon of sorts with Jesus, to relax and spend more time together, and grow in my intimacy with Him.

July 7th came quickly, and I was off for the two hour flight to the island.  My seatmate was a local man, who gave me all the ins and outs to do.  I planned on biking the island and exploring all the nooks and crannies.  I lived in England for five months during a break from the mission field and looked forward to fish-n-chips and English high tea. with thick cream on my scones.

Castle

Upon arrival, I was met with the perpetual hanging flower pots that are all over the island.  I arrived at my quaint inn, built in 1900 as a dormitory for coal miners.  My room overlooked the Craigdarroch Castle, which I quickly

Tower of Castle

went to see.  The Lord had promised me a surprise there, and I found it in the tower, with 360 degree views of Victoria.  Breathtaking.  I won’t share my surprise as it is a secret!

For four days I biked.  Along the shore, taking in the beauty of the Olympic Mountains and large timber like driftwood that scattered the beaches. To Oak Bay, where I had my delicious tea and visited the local art galleries, admiring the local artists. I explored the beautiful inner harbor, basking in the glow of the famous Empress Inn and its Rose Gardens.  I stopped and waited in line for halibut fish-n-chips at Red Fish-Blue fish, the local favorite.  I biked to Fisherman’s Warf and

Floating home

saw the floating houses and ate more fish-n-chips!

Every night, I was exhausted, and spent the evening watching the sun set not until 10:00pm, as it is close to Alaska and stays light until then.

porch where I watched sun set

The Canadian people are so friendly and helpful. Every place I went, if I was lost, they helped me.They were fun to talk to and had delightful stories to share.  I fell in love with Victoria, with its beauty, its European flair, and its laid back lifestyle.

Sunken Garden at Brutchart

Trip highlight was to famous Brutchart Gardens, where the color and expanse of flowers took my breath away. Of course, my phone and camera batteries died half way through, but I found a postcard of the spot I wanted to paint, as a souvenir of my trip.

I will be taking a break from painting my regular Scripture art and painting the beauty of Victoria from my heart.  It is good for an artist to switch things up every

Me at Totem Pole of Native Canadians

once in awhile!

The Lord blessed me with a closer intimacy with Him, healed my heart from some painful things in my life, and just had fun with me.  He loves to dance and sit and watch His masterpiece, the sunset, together.  I will always remember Victoria as my special love place with Him, and I am grateful for the beautiful, relaxing time I had.  Enjoy the pictures!

Stained glass of Dogwood, Canadians state flower, in castle

 

Rose trellis at Brutchart Gardens

 

 

The Empress Hotel

 

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