My Winter Adventure in France – Part 4

Bon Soir!

I write this late at night looking out at the star filled sky with the bright moon winking at me! I love to write at night and am a night owl, but today I would like to share my continued adventure in France this past January 2018. I traveled to experience my writers and artist dream; to see the master’s artwork and write where the famous authors like Hemingway and F.Scott Fitgerald wrote. This was a trip of a lifetime for me and one I waited five years to take.

In my journey Part 4, I am in Antibes, South of France, right on the Mediterranean Sea. I begin my first two days there on a wrong bus and a trip to the Picasso Musee. (Catch up on my story on my previous blogs.)

January 16
“J’suis perdu.” (I am lost.) I told myself as I sat on the deserted plage (beach) on the cap du Antibes. I had gotten on the #2 bus at the bus station, a 10 minute walk from my hotel, and told the driver as the receptionist taught me:”I want to go to square Albert 1 and the beach.”

“En Antibes?”

“Oui”.

Well, I rode for awhile getting nervous and he finally dropped me at this little hotel and said “le mer is tout droit.” (straight that way.) So I begin walking through these huge homes with gates, and the fear starts to come.”Lord, I do not know where I am.” Some workers point me further down and voila, there is the plage Keller. I encounter a closed snack bar being renovated and the man there gives me some more water, to which I am grateful. I have two pieces of fruit in my bag, a kiwi and tangerine, so I know I am ok for awhile, as I am a diabetic.

I start to walk along the path of the sea and find a nice place to admire my fist look at the snow covered Alps, and a sea filled with azure and turquoise waters.I start to relax knowing I am not lost, Jesus is with me and I put my head on his shoulder.”Alright, Lord, send Francois to rescue me!”

People walk by on their hike and when every man passed by I asked the Lord, “Est ce lui?” (Is this him?) Finally, the sea having done its magic and refreshed me, I say, “Lord, I just want to enjoy the sea and have fun. I am not going to look for Francois or worry about him anymore.” Let me know how long I should stay in Antibes and when to book my return ticket.”

As I am waling back up the hill, I come to a fork, not knowing which way.”Lord, help me.” I look up and see a police car.The officer stops. “Escuzi moi Monsuier, je sues pedru.” (I am lost) He directs me up to the street to catch the bus and when I arrive it is there, so I hop on. I enjoy the view as we drive along the cap back to Antibes. I had wanted to walk along the cap to the Eden Roc Hotel but it is too far and closed. Most hotels and restaurants are closed up here for winter until mid April.

On the walk back to hotel, I stop at the bakery and get a slice of pizza for 2.45 euros and at the grocery for lemonade, Diet Coke, chips, yogurt, cambert cheese and Little Boy chocolate cookies, which are better in France. I am surprised how cheap the food is here in Antibes, compared to Paris.I paid 1.15 euros for a large container of yogurt, .89 cents for limonaid, 1.50 for a large round of cambert. My hotel does not come with breakfast here, so I will save money filling my small refrigerator with food.

It is windy, with 60 degree weather and sunshine all the way to Monaco. Tomorrow I am going to the Picasso museum in the castle he lived here in Antibes.For now a nap. Enjoy the pictures!

January 17

Hello from Antibes,it’s 54 degrees and sunshine on this beautiful winter day. I journeyed into the Old City today to see Picasso’s museum in an old castle overlooking the city walls.I walked without getting lost, as Aurelie, the night receptionist here at the Best Western Inn, drew me a hand map.Picasso worked here between 1946- 1948 after the war and created ceramics, and linocuts, new mediums for him.

The man who owned the ceramic factory in nearby Vallerius taught him. I met his nieces, two French/British ladies the other night outside the gelato shop and they told me their story. One lady, Lynette, shared she held one of Picasso’s sketchbooks wearing white gloves.The family sold the factory and she just bought a home in the new development.This pricked my interest as I believe the Lord has a home for me here too, and one day I will be a home owner.

It was another ‘ahah moment’ as I walked on the squeaky wood floors of his studio, with the little shuttered rectangular windows letting light into his studio. He had started to engrave a mural into the walls of this large studio, but stopped suddenly.You can still see the engravings.I felt his presence so strongly here. His unseen works exhibited here feature things special to his heart here in the Cote d’ Azur: sea urchins, octopus, owls, bulls fighting, to name a few. He also liked doing fauns and of course, nudes. I wasn’t really a Picasso fan until today. If you want to read book about his life here in Antibes, I recommend the book Cooking for Picasso, a fictionalized story of the young girl who cooked and fed him every day while he was here, and came to have his baby.

After the museum, I wandered down the narrow cobbled stone lanes of the Old City and came upon the Holy Spirit church and went inside.They were playing operatic music, which I found strange, but I was able to sit awhile and hear from the Lord more about his plans for my time here. This was good for me, as I was feeling so depleted, spiritually and physically, from all the travel. I came upon the marchee, or daily market, and bought some goodies: baby eggplant tapenade, some truffle cheese (at 12 euros enough to last all week from a pushy marketer), some dried figs and a baguette for.89 cents. I love how the French ensure their people have bread and keep the price so low.

I ate my picnic lunch outside the city entrance overlooking all the big yachts on Millionaire Row.This is the largest and wealthiest harbor in all of Europe. Perhaps Francois owns one, you can all come for a free boat ride! I walked the ramparts out to the giant sculpture of a man made out of letters, overlooking the harbor.

I almost bought the new John Grisham book at an English bookstore but it was 34 euros.($40) It would be nice to have something to read as all the television is in French.

Enjoy the master’s work! (Both God and Picasso)

Stay tuned next month for my continued journeys in Antibes and Nice in part 5 of my winter adventure in France.

A Bientôt (See you soon!)

Miriam


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!

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How God Paints Our Lives with Pastel Crayons

thEvery artist goes through stages when they are ready to move on to a new type of art. I found myself in this stage a few months ago, when I no longer felt led to continue my Scripture Art paintings. I needed a new start after an eight month recovery period from my hand and shoulder injuries. I could now paint again and remembered the pastel crayons I had bought a few years ago sitting in my art box. I thought it would be fun, using crayons to paint, just like in Kindergarten!

So one day I got them out, all shiny and new, and smelling the wonderful chalky smell of pastels. The box had 24 colors, all of the color spectrum, so I knew I was ready. IMG_0564But, what to paint? Being that I love to paint God’s creation, especially flowers, I took my iphone camera and went out to snap some pictures. This began the process of putting myself on a schedule, and thus Painting Mondays began. Sunday night, I would select a flower scene to paint and first thing Monday morning, I would sit down with my laptop with the flower on the screen, my box of crayons, and a cup of coffee. Putting praise music on in the background inspired me to worship God both through my gift of art and song.

IMG_0588What I discovered as I drew and colored, is that I could smudge the colors with my fingers, reminding me of finger painting, which was my favorite type of painting as a child. Didn’t you love putting your fingers in the cold goo and spreading it all around on the paper? Painting with pastels is kind of like that. They are soft and leave a chalk like residue that I have to blow off periodically, and sometimes it gets on my laptop keyboard and then I have to blow it off that!

Unlike painting with acrylics or oils, you cannot mix the paint to form another IMG_0623color. You have to pick your color and then color over it with another color to lighten or darken your color of choice. I grew to love making a soft pink color by starting with magenta and lightening it with a white crayon. I discovered I could ‘mix’ the crayons in a new and fun way.

As I ‘painted’ I realized God, the ultimate Artist, paints a picture of our life everyday, and often He will ‘smudge’ our hearts with his healing touch, taking away th-1our pain and wounding, just like with a pastel crayon. He likes to ‘color’ over our mistakes with His forgiveness, and blow away our tears. And in the process, he makes a beautiful picture of our life, for all to see. For are we not His ultimate masterpieces? Aren’t you grateful He doesn’t just color within the lines, but gives us grace every day?

And when the painting is done, I spray it with a protective sealant that keeps it from smudging and remaining the beautiful picture it is. Just like God does after He heals us and saves us, He places His love and Holy Spirit as a protection that no one, not even the devil, can steal away.

IMG_0688My new pastel paintings are for sale for $50 each and you can contact me through my website giftsofhisglory.com under ‘contact Miriam’.

Perhaps I will turn these into new greeting cards as well. God knows what He has in mind for me, and you too! He sees the blank canvas of your life every day and will ‘color’ His will for you unto it, if you surrender you will and life to Him as your Lord and Savior. He wants to color over all the blackness of your sin and mistakes IMG_0649and give you a heart white as snow. Would you let Him today do this for you? If so, please pray this prayer:

Dear Jesus: Thank you that you are the Creator of all things, including me. I want to live a new life, with you in the center of my heart and life. Please forgive my sins, I believe you died on the cross for me and rose from the dead so I could have eternal life with you. I accept you as my Lord and Savior today and ask you to make my life a beautiful masterpiece. Amen.

To view my Scripture paintings and greeting cards click on ‘my art’ above.

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Miracle Shoes: A Devotion/Prayer

I’d like to share one of my devotions that has been published in Penned From the Heart last year to encourage you in your walk today with God. The devotion, or prayer, shows God’s faithfulness during my time as a Christian missionary visiting England.

May it bless you today…and may you find a miracle of your own!

Miracle Shoes

“But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 KJV

th-2I peered out the window at another rainy October day in Cranborne, England, What am I going to do? I only have summer shoes with me since I left my luggage back in London.

“Lord, I am trusting you for my finances as I travel as a visiting missionary. I need a pair of warm boots for this cold weather. My pocketbook is empty. Help!”

That afternoon I stopped at a shoe store on my way to speak at a prayer group. A pair of brown leather boots for 50 pounds was in the window. Those would be perfect, th-1Lord. At the meeting, the leader told me, “Miriam, we can support you with prayers but not financially, as we are all on a pension.”

Two days later, a check for 50 pounds arrived by mail from a woman at the group. God had miraculously meet my need. He cares about the little things, even keeping our toes warm. He increases our faith as we trust Him to supply all our needs.

Heavenly Father, I trust you to provide all I need, knowing every good and perfect gift comes from you.

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Book Review: “The Amish Clockmaker” by Susan Meissner and Mindy Starns Clark

Part of the fun of being a writer is when you have the opportunity to review the latest novel of a writer friend and are given a complimentary copy by the publisher to do so. Today, I will be reviewing The Amish Clockmaker by author Susan Meissnerth and Minday Starns Clark. I met Susan at last year’s Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference and we have become Facebook friends. I was happy to respond to her request for reviewers of her third book in the series, The Men of Lancaster County.

As some of you may remember, I have visited Lancaster, Pennsylvania and hope to make my home there one day amongst the quiet life of the Amish. I learned to quilt there IMG_0294and continue my hobby to this day. So when the book arrived in the mail, I quickly poured a cup of tea and climbed on my bed to read. I was intriqued that it featured an Amish man as the main character and was a mystery/suspense, which I enjoy.

I think the book jacket explains the storyline best, so will quote it here:

“Newlywed Matthew Zook is expanding his family’s tack and feed store when a surprising property dispute puts the remodel on hold-and raises new questions about the location’s mysterious past.

Decades earlier, the same building housed a clock shop run by a young Amish clockmaker named Clayton Raber. Known for his hot temper, Clayton was arrested for the murder of his beloved wife, a crime almost everyone-including his own family members-believed he committed, even after the charges were dropped. Isolated and feeling condemned by IMG_0228all, Clayton eventually broke from the church, left Lancaster County, and was never heard from again.

Now the only way Matthew can solve the boundary issue and save his family’s business is to track down the clockmaker. But does this put Matthew on the trail of a murderer?”

Susan and Mindy write so beautifully. My favorite part of the story is the love story of Clayton and Miriam (my namesake!) as he rescues her from the shame of an unplanned pregnancy by a ‘worldly’ man, and her subsequent postpartum psychosis that tears them apart and leads to her death. I admire how the authors chose to deal with a serious mental illness that is not much written about.

God’s character is seen throughout the book. We see the faithful love of God exemplified in Clayton’s love of Miriam. We witness God’s redemption as Matthew attempts to unite Clayton and his estranged family. This gave me hope that one day the Lord may bring truth and understanding to my own estranged family situation. We see God’s faithfulness to bring good out of a bad situation, even many years later, giving every reader hope for their own future.

I became enthralled with the suspenseful storyline and read the book in three days! I particularly liked how I knew each town she mentioned in the story, as I had been

me in Amish buggy ride

me in Amish buggy ride

there personally. Susan creates and weaves the beauty of Lancaster County and the simplicity of Amish life throughout the story, which any reader would enjoy.

I highly recommend Susan’s The Amish Clockmaker. Don’t you love it when you find a new author and can’t wait to read all of their published books? I am now reading the second book in her series, The Amish Blacksmith, which tells the story of a ‘horse gentler’ or horse whisperer. To find out more about Susan and her published novels, visit her website: www.susanmeissner.com

To see my Scripture art and greeting cards visit my website at giftofhisglory.commeadow  5 x 7 scan

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Baby Teeth and Birthday Blues

What do baby teeth and birthdays have in common? Well, for me, a lot. You see tomorrow I am having my last baby tooth pulled, tooth #T, so the dentist says. It has served me well for 53 years, as I was born without a permanent tooth below it. I also have a BIG birthday coming up on Saturday, January 3, and I am feeling depressed. About both.

As long as I had my baby tooth, I felt young and alive at heart. As long as I was in my early fifties, I still felt young and cute, especially since people say I look a decade younger. Turning 54 is not so cute anymore. And, it is definitely middle-aged. I am one year away from being 55 when you can get into the movies on Monday for $6, shop at Ross Dress For Less on Tuesday’s for 10% off, and an assortment of other treats. That’s what my MOTHER does, I think to myself.

But, what hit me most was how on Saturday I will wake up and still not have a husband. I implored of the Lord, “How did this happen that I am now a senior citizen and still unmarried? Did you forget to put the husband card in your day-timer of my life? Who will want me with all my sags, memory loss, and turkey neck? I still want to be a mother, and unless you are going to pull another Elizabeth or Sarah number on me, I will not be giving birth.

So the tears came. I know some of it was the after-Christmas blues, the ‘why haven’t you opened the door for me to move yet’ and disappointment of not going to Paris for Christmas, because I had to stay home and have my tooth pulled. But, I think it is mostly the realization that I am growing older, alone.

Yes, I have my sweet Savior as my best friend and spiritual husband. Yes, I love to spend time with him and go on fun adventures together. In fact, I plan on spending my birthday just with Him, taking English afternoon tea in a tea house in San Francisco and then walking through Golden Gate Park, hand in hand. However, the yearning for a family of my own, a real-live husband and child to spend my ‘glory’ years with tugs at my heart.

I laugh with my friends that if I do somehow have a miracle child, I will be too old to bend over and pick her/him up! When I run around the house looking for my glasses, only to find them on my face already or in the shower (huh?), I mourn the loss of both my estrogen and memory, not necessarily in that order. I wonder why I have suddenly started calling everyone ‘dear’ as my grandmother did?

So, I did what every good writer would do, I blogged about it. And as I write this, the Lord reminds me of the gift of life He has given me, when I should have died many times over in my life. That He will bless my birthday with surprises and a heart full of His love, for I am His princess, His daughter and the best is yet to come! My heart is lifted and I place my trust in Him.

Goodbye baby tooth, I will miss you!

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On Pins and Needles… God’s Healing Through Acupuncture

acupuncture needles

acupuncture needles

Every Tuesday I take the train to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto for an acupuncture sessions with Dr. Huang. Now this is a miracle. I was always one to doubt Eastern medicine, figuring it was ‘phu phu’ stuff, involving centering your energy and ‘Chi’s’. Until I injured my hands, arms and shoulder from overuse. In pain, not able to write, paint or bike, or even get to the grocery store without a friend taking me, I found myself in a humble spot with the Lord.

My conventional doctors could only give me cortisone shots and the possibility of surgery, which I did not want. Physical Therapy did not help. So when my pain doctor suggested Acupuncture, I prayed about it.

“Really, Lord, acupuncture? Isn’t this dangerous to do spiritually?”

Hearing the Scripture over and over, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6), I felt God was leading me to try this, so I made the appointment. Wondering how I would pay for it, as my insurance did not cover it, I was offered a 80% discount by Stanford, a welcome surprise.

And so it began. Dr. Huang, with his Chinese accent and sense of humor, studied the practice in China before he began practicing at Stanford 20 years ago. I was a bit nervous, as I did not know what he was doing, placing up to 14 needles all over me, but I trusted God would use his hands to help heal me.

They say acupuncture works for some and not for others, but my very first session, I felt its magical effects. I felt my life force or ‘energy’ as they call it, move and center me. I felt a deep peace and calm come over me. After the very first session, for which he was treating my carpel tunnel in both hands, with pain radiating up to my neck, I was able to write on the computer without pain for 15 minutes, which believe me, was a miracle.

To work on my frozen shoulder, he asked me if I could take a ‘big’ needle. I assured him if I could take a cortisone shot in my wrists, I could take this needle.

“Now don’t kick me,” he said, as He placed the needle in my right shin.

“O.K. I won’t” not knowing what to expect. He turned it twice, and i felt my nerve travel into my foot and my foot kick up, luckily missing him.

“Now, move your shoulder through all the pain points for one minute.”

I did this, and low and behold, all my shoulder pain was gone! I could move my left arm. I was pain free for four days! When I told my orthopedic doctor, Dr. Roh, he exclaimed;

“I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it…but give me his name as I have a patient who want to try it.” I laughed all the way home from the doctors office.

images-2The best part happens while I lie on the table for 45 minutes after the needles are placed in various places. I hear the Holy Spirit whispering to me above the relaxing Chinese meditation music. I hear words of comfort, as He also moves through my soul, healing it from past hurts and trauma. I feel deep peace and calm come over me and all my worries float away. I see Jesus in a vision, sitting at my feet, touching my body as His healing power flows through me. Tears spring from the sides of my eyes, as my heart expresses my gratitude to the Lord for this provision of healing to me: body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Huang puts two needles in my head and he tells me this aligns and balances my energy. Do I believe it now? Yes, I do, as I have seen how my emotions have stabilized and my mind is clearer and calmer.

God works in mysterious ways. He can take an unbeliever like myself and turn me into a believer, when I see His power and majesty move on my behalf. Dr. Huang jokes with me by saying, to heal my depression he would have to sick a long needle into one ear and out the other, to which I laugh. But it is no laughing matter to be able to type this whole blog post, to be able to ride my bike again on occasion and to paint with my pastel crayons. images

God is in the business of restoring broken parts and places with whatever means He chooses. I give Him all the Glory. I share my testimony with you today, hoping you will trust Him with your broken places, asking Him for His healing touch in whatever way He brings it, including ‘pins and needles’. Amen.

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Under His Wings – A Devotion


 

For this post today, I would like to share one of my latest devotions, written after my last writers conference in April 2014. I usually don’t share my devotions due to copyright infringements (i.e people steal your writing), however, since this soon to be published, I gladly share it here.

Entitled “Under His Wings”, it shares an angelic encounter I had. I am sure many of you have experienced your own angel sightings or want to! Bless you as you consider how God can keep us all, “Under His Wings.”

Under His Wings by Miriam Sarzotti Copyright 2014.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (Psalm 91:4 NLT)

The day after Easter Sunday, I was relaxing on my couch recovering from a long writers conference and the intensity of Holy Week. Feeling the Lord’s presence, I sat quietly with Him and envisioned myself cuddled in His arms. I thanked Him for the blessings He had bestowed on me, in particular keeping me safe from the devil’s schemes. He whispered for me to take His hand, and trust Him to guide me forward in my life. Suddenly, I saw a white fluffy item fall from the ceiling. Picking it up, I was amazed to discover a small feather. Soft to my touch, it didn’t resemble an animal’s feather. Instantly, I knew in my heart it was from a heavenly wing. Peace filled my soul. I saw feathers fall before during a service in Jerusalem, so was not totally surprised. God sent me a supernatural reminder that I was safe in the shelter of His wings.

Have you felt safe in God’s arms? He longs for us to run to Him to find shelter in His loving presence and promises in Scripture daily. Ask Him to show you signs of His love and protection today.

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Fall Holiday greeting card Mums in Pumpkin

Fall Holiday greeting card Mums in Pumpkin


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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