Saturday, December 18, 2021

Catching My Breath

Since my last post, we have done the Washington to Missouri and back to Washington car trip (12 days, 11 nights). We visited family in Missouri, celebrating Christmas with siblings and daughter and family. But mainly spent time in the car and hotels. Very tired I am.

Now we’re doing final preparations for our Christmas back here in Washington.

Here are three more art pieces I finished before just now putting away the art supplies until after Christmas.

This little baby seal was painted following a tutorial by Louise De Masi, where she used her own photograph as a reference. I think he’s cute!

I also painted a pinecone and pine tree branches following guidance from Maria Raczynska. I was frustrated with this one, but I’ve decided to keep and post all my work, because when I look back, it can be encouraging if I see improvement.

This last quick little piece I did in a couple of hours last night. I cut it down to 4x6 (others are 5x7) and will use it to enhance a scrapbook page for December.

I’m experiencing some nostalgia and even some sadness at the moment. I know myself, and I understand the feelings. I may write about it when I’m rested. But then again, when I’m rested, I may not feel the sadness!!

Oh, but wait. Our great grandson is coming over soon to be introduced to Grandad’s Polar Express electric train that is now under our Christmas tree, and to play with us for awhile. His baby sister will be showing us her new trick of clapping. I think the sadness may be on the way out anyway!

#watercolorpinecones #watercolorbabyseal #watercolorholly #needtorest #greatgrandchildrenbringjoy #polarexpresselectrictrain #watercolor

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Watercolor: Cardinal in the Snow and Christmas Ball

Here are my last two watercolor pieces done as part of Maria Raczynska’s 12 Days of Christmas.

We recently relocated from Missouri to Washington State. We had so many cardinals in our woods/yard in Missouri, but we do not have cardinals in Washington. I miss them, and I am “drawn” to painting them more than ever now that I don’t see them.

This one was really fun to paint, and I experimented here with the trend of using the bokeh technique. 

#Christmasthemewatercolor #maria12daysofChristmas #cardinal #watercolorcardinal #bokeh

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

More Watercolor Christmas

Above are pieces #5 and 6 from the “12 Days of Christmas” watercolor project I enjoyed painting a few weeks ago. I only did 8 of the 12, so only 2 more to share after these two.

Along with the Advent study I am doing, I am also enjoying reading devotional thoughts from this pretty little book. Each devotional thought is followed by a few Scripture passages, and I love that. Also, the pictures in this book are just beautiful.

I read this today: “Learn to look steadily at Me in all your moments and all your circumstances. Though the world is unstable and in flux, you can experience continuity through your uninterrupted awareness of My Presence. Fix your gaze on what is unseen, even as the visible world parades before your eyes.”

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
1 Corinthians 4:18

#JesusCallingbySarahYoung #Maria12DaysofChristmas #FixYourEyesOnJesus #watercolor #watercolorChristmastheme

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Ready for Christmas!

Having our Thanksgiving a day early allowed us to get a head start on decorating for Christmas. That’s good, because we like to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in our house as long as possible!

And here are the next two paintings in my series of eight from Maria Raczynska’s 12 Days of Christmas (the first two appeared in yesterday’s blog post; I didn’t complete all 12).

#Christmaswatercolor #watercolornutcracker #decoratingforChristmas #Christmastree

Friday, November 26, 2021

“Thankful For” Time

One of our family traditions (not unlike many families, I’m sure) is our time around the Thanksgiving Dinner table when we share what we are especially thankful for this year.

We usually have this special time somewhere between the meal and the pie (Autumn Gold Pumpkin and/or Pecan), over coffee, of course.

This year’s Thanksgiving was celebrated in our Washington home, which is now our only home, and that was one of my “thankful-fors,” that we were able to sell the big house/property in Missouri and move “all the way” out here to Washington state, where we have 6 of our immediate family (7 when Tory is Stateside, usually in Mexico). 

We really miss our family that is not out here (daughter and her family and our siblings/spouses). But we are thankful to be “unburdened” with the whole two-home thing (which we did for seven years) and to be able to spend a lot of quality time with our son and wife (Mark and Kristy) and our grandson and wife (Conner and Caroline) and their two little ones, Leeland (3 1/2), and Lily (8 months). It is an extra blessing to be able to be in the church that Mark planted here in our town three years ago, where Conner is the Worship Pastor, and Kristy and Caroline are also involved in ministry leadership. Huge thankful-for right there!

Also making my shared list this year is “my family,” and that is more than just “I’m thankful for my family.” For me, I am so thankful for the blessing of family members following God and raising their families to follow Him. Such a rarity these days, it seems to me, and I do not want to take that blessing for granted. God is so good to my family.

I’m just going to say this: My children and their children and their children (whether in Washington or Missouri) are just beautiful people, in every way. I know they’re mine, but they just are, and I recognize this as just one of the ways God has chosen to bless me, the Mom and Mamo to 12 (so far)! Thank you, Lord.

I also shared this year about how thankful I am for my husband—always, of course, for the way he loves me, takes care of me (spoils me), provides for me, and on and on. But this year I’m especially thankful that, as the mirror is less and less kind to me, his rose-colored glasses just get “rosier,” and he just tells me how beautiful I am all the time. I’ve always loved that he does that, but it seems like especially recently, I’ve NEEDED for him to do that (how does he know?)!! So I’m thankful for him and his rose-colored glasses (may he never lose them!).

Not mentioned in our family sharing time, I am also thankful for my art hobby. It truly is a personal blessing that I have found and am developing a hobby that is challenging but also enjoyable and relaxing. I created a few Christmas-themed pieces around mid-November (mainly while my three guys were hunting). Now that Thanksgiving is over, I will share a few of them here, a couple of them at a time.

To all my readers, thank you for following me, and to those who send me notes or leave comments, thank you for your encouragement. I’m thankful for all of you, too!

#thankfulfortime #Thanksgiving #Christmaswatercolor #ThanksgivingDinner #ThanksgivingTurkey #Family #watercolor

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Always Busy (and some Watercolor)

There is an old saying, “Well, that says a lot about you.” That’s rather nebulous, and I wonder if using that “inclusive statement” might sometimes be jumping to conclusions, and maybe while a statement might say “SOMETHING about you,” it may not necessarily say A LOT about you? Just rambling here, no answer.

But an example of the above would be this: I am always busy. Does that say a lot about me? If it does, I hope it’s good, because it’s true.

Sometimes my “busy” is more a worthwhile use of my time than at other times. 
Sometimes my “busy” is doing fun things, sometimes it is doing serious things.
Sometimes it is doing helpful things, sometimes it is doing self-centered things.
Sometimes it is serving others, sometimes it is not. 
And so on.

But I am always busy.

At this point, I have several projects in progress. Well, I should say, I ALWAYS have several projects in progress. I’m always busy.

But right now, I am
-preparing for Thanksgiving at my house (menu plans, grocery lists, timetable for preparations, etc.).
-preparing for Christmas (shopping, wrapping, addressing cards, formulating Christmas letter, doing Christmas watercolor art, planning menus, working on lists for when to do what (decorating, etc.).
-planning trip to Missouri to see daughter and family and siblings during the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
-planning/preparing Sunday dinners for my family at my house.
-keeping up with church activities.
-keeping up with Bible study/devotionals (about to start an Advent study).
-keeping up with some watercolor art (some seasonal, some not).
-keeping up with my fitness/health goals.

I will soon be posting some Christmas watercolor art pieces I completed a couple of weeks ago.

This week, I painted a couple of watercolor birds, following a teacher I enjoy, Louise De Masi (from Australia). 


Fairy Wren (Australia)

My Bible passage for today:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Matthew 6:25-26

#birdsdonotworry #Idonotneedtoworry #projects #alwaysbusy #thatsaysalotaboutme #hopeitisgood #planning #watercolor #kingfisher #fairywren #Australia #LouiseDeMasi #busylife

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Caught Up, Catching Up, and Up Next {Bible Study and other Projects}

There are many things I enjoy about being “retired,” which has described my status for many years, actually. My last year of teaching was 1998-99. One of the things that brings me such contentment and joy is that I am free to do my Bible studies, reading and devotionals on my own schedule and in my own time. 

Since it is up to me, apparently it is my choice is to have several things going at once. I may have two Bible studies, plus a year-long Bible reading challenge, plus a Christian book, plus more than one devotional going on at the same time. That has been the case lately. While I was at times a bit overwhelmed with “today’s do list” in my notebook, I will say that finishing several projects virtually simultaneously is quite a feeling of accomplishment!!

So, since I’m usually not really sure if anyone is actually reading my blog (though I’m always amazed at the number of page “visits”), I will recount these things mainly for my own accountability.

Caught Up

(1) Probably the biggest sense of relief for me is that I finished every single day of The One Year Chronological Bible. I actually did it in about 10 1/2 months. I started it December 24, 2020, and finished it last night. It was very challenging, and the next time I do a read-the-Bible-through plan, I will not do chronological (didn’t really like that order). But I am glad I was able to keep my commitment, through a very stressful and strenuous year (including selling our place and making a cross-country move).

(2) Last June I started reading Woven by Angie Smith. This book has my highest recommendation. 

Having done Angie’s Bible Study, Seamless, I already knew I loved her style and her grasp of the Bible as a seamless story. That’s what Woven is all about. As it says on the back, “In her unique and remarkably readable way, Angie Smith helps you tie together all the loose, disconnected threads, weaving them into a beautifully crafted story line…from separate stories to the One they are all about. Because once you see the big picture, you’ll see it on every page.”

Even though I was concurrently reading the Bible through in a year, this book kept me engaged and not wanting to put it down. It actually helped me see the bigger picture in the daily reading I was doing.

(3) Bible Study (with workbook), “Joy is a Person,” by Robin Meadows. This was an in-depth study of Philippians. I chose to do this one because I sometimes get bogged down with stress and worry (another topic!) and forget to remember the JOY. I just finished this one two days ago.


Catching Up (in Progress)

(1) I am enjoying the book As Long as I Have Breath: Serving God with Purpose in the Later Years.

This little book, written by Bruce Gordon and published by Focus on the Family, is actually 52 devotionals, one for each week of the year. I started it at the end of September, reading one devotional each Monday (for a year). From the back, “In this 52-week devotional, Bruce Gordon challenges the idea that youth is the best part of life. He asserts that we make too little of our opportunities in later life… These practical devotionals, steeped in Scripture will help you transition to a time of life that can be rich with purpose, significance, and hope as you serve God…Discover for yourself that the best years, the most impactful years of your life are still to come.” 

Gordon provides reminders for me that I need to hear, about the need to find a place of service, regardless of age/season of life.

(2) I love the writings of Suzie Eller, and I am refreshed and renewed by the reading of her book (free on Kindle), The Spirit-Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith Without Borders. 

I’m almost finished with this one, and interestingly, looking back at all the readings/studies I have been doing lately, it’s like everything came together recently into one huge emphasis on the New Testament. I kept thinking, “Didn’t I just read this?” Yes, I did. It may have been in the chronological reading where I was in the NT, or in the Philippians study, or Angie’s book, or this book by Suzie. Interesting coincidence.

(3) Always in progress is my artwork. I came to a stopping place with my usual subjects (like fruit, animals, birds, etc.). Most recent of those:

But I have also completed 9 of 12 Days of Christmas watercolor art projects, which I will begin to share after Thanksgiving.

(4) I always have the current year Scrapbook in progress. I am currently caught up through October.

Up Next

(1) As soon as I finish Suzie Eller’s book, I am looking forward to reading Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity, by Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD.

I actually already did a sneak peek of the first few pages and am even more excited about reading it. I have written many times about how much I love the word and the meaning of REST. 

Dr Dalton-Smith is a board-certified internal medicine physician, and a Christian speaker (Focus on the Family, etc.). From the back, “In this book you’ll discover a time-tested secret to living your best life. Discover the seven types of rest—physical, mental, emotional, social, sensory, creative, spiritual—needed for you to thrive in your relationships, career, and personal goals. Her insightful and practical approach to correcting your work-rest imbalance will help you experience deeper and fuller levels of satisfaction in your life.”

I have a feeling I am going to be putting my phone down a little more often after reading this book.

(2) I love Thanksgiving, and I love Christmas, and I love the time between those two celebrations. So I sometimes (not always) plan to do an Advent study of some sort. This year, I will be doing Prepare Him Room by Susie Larson. It is a Daily Advent Devotional.

This book “invites you to give God sacred space in your holiday season as you ponder the miracle of Christ and respond to His work in your life. As you begin your Christmas preparations this year, journey through Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and ultimate resurrection. God invites you to be still and let Jesus radically transform you this holy season. Let earth receive her King!”

So, yes, it does feel good to be caught up, and yet still have some things in-progress, and also to have some things ready to do.

I guess that’s kind of me, it’s how I roll: feeling good about finished projects, never without something going on, and already looking forward to what is “up next.”

#BibleReading #BibleStudy #Woven #SpiritLedHeart #AsLongAsIHaveBreath #AngieSmith #SuzanneEller #Rest #watercolor #watercolorplum #Advent #PrepareHimRoom #SusieLarson #JoyisaPerson

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Thankful for the Gift of Music (orig post 2/20/2015)

G52 Prompt 7 Music

The prompt for the Gratitude 52 Journal this week is “Music: Sketch or illustrate your appreciation for the gift of music.”

My Mamo Wilson had a grand piano. When I was very small, I loved to sit at the piano and pretend I was like my Aunt Lucy, who had an incredible talent at the piano. When my mother would tell me to “Stop banging on the piano,” my Mamo would say, “Let her play.” 

1950 BK and Janene at Mamos piano

When I was 9, my family was visiting in a home that had a piano. I sat at the piano and someone helped me place my fingers on keys that I later knew to be C-E-G. I pressed down on the keys and thought it was the most beautiful sound in the world (LOVED 3-part harmony from that time forth!).

I begged my parents (who had no money, as my dad had just begun college to prepare for his ministry as a pastor, and there were four of us kids). But my mother arranged to get her piano (a Wurlitzer spinet) from her mother’s house. At 50 cents per lesson, I began, as a 5th grader. I continued with piano lessons, off and on, until I was a senior in high school, at which time I began giving lessons. I say “off and on” because when lack of money would dictate, I would have to stop taking lessons for a while. During those times, I went through my lesson books on my own.

Barbara Princess, Janene candidate, Keith Crown Bearer Russellville Oct 1960

This was Mother’s Wurlitzer. By this time (8th grade), I was playing for church and was using my allowance money to buy sheet music, like “He” (seen here, on the piano) for 60 cents. I still have that sheet music.

Bride in Home

My wedding photographer recognized that piano was so much a part of my life that he suggested one of my bridal photos should be at the piano.

In the mid-70’s, I used money made from giving piano lessons to buy my first piano, a Wurlitzer. I still have it.

My most prized possession is my Yamaha Baby Grand Piano, a surprise Christmas gift from my husband in 2003. 

new yamaha

I value the time I spend alone at the piano, but even more, the “singing around the piano,” quite often actually (what a blessing!), and always during our family Christmas.



music room tree 1

christmas music on piano 2

Playing piano has always been at the core of who I am. It would take a book to write all about the role of music in my life, and down through the generations of my children and grandchildren. So, yes, I am truly thankful for the gift of music.

#Gratitude52Journal #GiftofMusic #BabyGrandPiano #sketch #watercolor

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

My Yamaha Baby Grand is Here!

As previously stated, “Once my piano has been delivered, for the first time in a very long time, all my belongings will be under one roof.” Yes! That time is now! 

Granted, the quantity of those “belongings” has been greatly reduced, after giving away a very large portion of what was “housed” in our big house on Peaceful Acres, in Troy, Missouri, once that property was sold. BUT, what we do still own (of primary importance is our sentimental belongings, such as photos, albums, and keepsakes), is all with us in our ONE home now.

As we prepared to make the cross-country move, I was able to find a piano moving company that only moves pianos, specializes in cross-country moves, employs only certified piano movers, and is able to store the piano in a climate-controlled environment until delivery. 

In my “big house” in Troy, the piano reigned over a fairly large “library,” where it looked particularly stunning during the Christmas season. 

They packed up/picked up my piano on July 21.


Then, we moved from Missouri, arriving in Washington on August 15. No piano yet. Until last Saturday. It was delivered on October 23.


And now, the baby grand reigns over a much smaller room, but it is all just for the piano, but still with plenty of room for family to stand, for “singing around the piano.” 

And so, here we are. All my “stuff” is with me. And some of my “stuff” is pretty important to me.

My piano means so much more than just a musical instrument. In the next couple of posts, I may share previous blog writings where I describe that part of me that is basically impossible to describe. I know. Few will understand. But some will.

Meanwhile, here my great grandson is on the piano bench with me, following a long history of  “piano bench” sharing, starting with me as a toddler, sharing the bench with my Aunt Lucy, who was my “idol” at the piano. Then there were my two children, with me. And then my grandchildren, Tory and Conner. (I actually gave piano lessons to both my children, Mark and Sharida, and then to Tory and Conner.)

Tory Early Spring 2004 (my piano was brand new)

Conner October 2007

And now Conner’s son, my great grandson, Leeland. He is so excited to have the piano in my home here in Washington. He has been waiting for it. He has used his little truck to play like he is delivering it. “Mamo, I just delivered your piano into the piano room!” So, he and I are both pretty excited to have the real thing, finally here!

The next couple of posts, for those who take the time to read them, will give insight into how my piano is so much a part of me.

#YamahaBabyGrand #MyPiano #CrossCountryMove #PianoMovers #WhoIAm #RustyandNeedtoPractice #library #pianoroom

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Watercolor Fox

As much as I try, I cannot bring myself to think of a fox as “bad.” I know they often appear in literature (specifically, even in the Bible) as something other than sweet, little cuddly fur balls; nonetheless, I just think of them as beautiful creatures.

There are several Scripture passages about foxes, but the one that came to my mind as I was thinking about this “little fox,” was the reference to “little foxes” in Song of Solomon. This information is taken from one of my favorite resources,

In Song of Solomon 2:15 the speaker says, “Catch for us the foxes, / the little foxes / that ruin the vineyards, / our vineyards that are in bloom.” It might seem strange that, in the middle of a romantic, tender conversation, the matter of a fox hunt should arise. As with much of the imagery in this beautiful poem, the foxes are symbolic.

Solomon’s readers considered foxes to be destructive animals that could destroy valuable vineyards (cf. Judges 15:4Psalm 63:10Ezekiel 13:4). As the Shulammite and her beloved verbalize their love for each other, we are suddenly confronted with the need to catch the foxes that spoil the vines. If the blossoming vineyard spreading its fragrance (Song of Solomon 2:13) refers to the growing romance between the couple, then the foxes of verse 15 represent potential problems that could damage the relationship prior to the marriage (which takes place in chapter 5). The command, in essence, is “Take preventative measures to protect this love from anything that could harm it.”

In the Old Testament, foxes are mentioned in Judges 15. Samson ties torches to 300 foxes and releases them to destroy the grain fields of the Philistines. In Nehemiah 4:3, the evil Tobiah mocks the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall, saying, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

Okay, I get that. And as the reference notes, “Solomon’s readers considered foxes to be destructive animals…” Writers need to know their audience. 

For me, if I’m the “audience,” and someone wanted to warn me to “beware” of a potential danger, whether in a relationship with another person, or in my relationship with God (?), it might be well to warn me that little soft furry creatures may not always be what they appear to be. 

But when I paint a little fox, I choose to think of him as just another of God’s beautiful creations—and I’m especially fond of furry ones.

#foxesintheBible #watercolorfox #watercolorpractice #watercolor #MariaRaczynskaInspired #littlefoxes

Monday, October 11, 2021

Fruit of the Spirit and Self-Reflection Questions

When I paint fruits, I often think about the Scripture passage in Galatians that describes, really, what my life should exhibit.

 Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” If I want my life to be “Spirit-filled,” those characteristics should be not only present but descriptive of me.

As I was pondering that thought, my weekly Devo in “As Long As I Have Breath” expanded on this same concept (funny how that happens sometimes).

Bruce Gordon says, “Self-reflection can give you the insight you need to adjust your thinking and your actions…setting your mind on the things of the Spirit means being influenced by the Spirit who lives inside of you. It means aligning yourself with the Spirit.”

These self-reflection questions are posed by Gordon:

1. What are you doing well that you can leverage?
2. What isn’t working that you need to change?
3. What is missing that you need to add?
4. What is confusing that you need to clarify?
5. How can you be influenced by the Spirit? What would this look like in your life?

Good questions. I recorded my answers (reflections) in the study book. 

Happy Autumn!

#AsLongAsIHaveBreath #fruitoftheSpirit #watercolorpear #selfreflection