Archive by Author

In the Valley of the Shadow

29 Aug Through-the-Valley-WM

Many ACoNs* feel abandoned. They were raised by parents who were consumed with their own needs, so they find it hard to trust anyone–let alone their Father in heaven. But no matter what has happened in your life, the gentle Shepherd cares and will make a path through the wilderness for you.

Some people think this verse refers to being seriously ill and while health trials can seem like a very dark shadow at times, the Shepherd longs to brings comfort and healing into all of our darkness.

When people are depressed they often speak of a dark valley. At such times the Shepherd guides us through our despair and offers the light of hope to bring us out of such darkness. Often those who walk and breathe are spiritually dying inside while they are barely aware of their condition. This is when the Shepherd gently wakes them up.

Through-the-Valley-WM

Sometimes when we’ve been focusing on ourselves for too long we discover we have gone to a very dark place–much darker than we ever intended to go. It’s at times like these the Shepherd calls us by name. He will keep calling until we hear Him and reach for His help.

The gentle Shepherd passes no judgment. He simply offers a lifeline. He holds up the lantern of truth to guide us up through the brambles, out of the ravine and over the pass to bring us safely home. Throughout all of our valleys, the Shepherd offers comfort.

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
-Psalm 23:4

*ACoNs–Adult Children of Narcissists

As a long time Newsboys fan, I just have to add Peter Furler’s Psalm 23. Enjoy!

Art 101 Week 8

22 Aug

This series, Little Red 23rd, is one of my all time favorite projects because it was personal. I love the 23rd Psalm and I often pray my way through it as I am drifting off to sleep because it fills me with peace.

So why do a series of Little Red 23rd? Because Little Red represents survivors and survivors can benefit from the promises in the 23rd Psalm.

Growing up with narcissistic parents or religious abuse, has caused many of us to distrust our Father in heaven. Perhaps we fear God is like our abusers. The kind and gentle Shepherd of the 23rd Psalm brings comfort by modeling the ways God loves us tenderly like a shepherd. King David who wrote this Psalm was well acquainted with the way a shepherd provides, protects and rescues his sheep.

For Little Red, who no longer can trust her parents, understanding that God is like a kind shepherd instead of a controlling and violent parent makes it easier to trust God.

Little Red 23rd–He Supplies My Needs

He-Supplies-All-I-Need-WM

Little Red 23rd–He Walks With Me Through the Valley of the Shadow

Through-the-Valley-WM

Little Red 23rd–He Prepares a Table in Front of My Enemies

A-Table-in-Front-of-My-Enemies-WM

Little Red 23rd–He Anoints My Head With Oil

Annointed-1000-WM

Little Red 23rd–He makes My Cup Overflow

My-Cup-Overflows-WM

Little Red 23rd–His Kindness Follows Me All the Days of My Life

Your-Kindness-Follows-Me-WM

For the seventh painting this week, I made a word reminder.

Peace-WM

Obviously I am behind in posting my art. Between working on a book and projects for a few friends, I have been busy. It seems like it takes a lot of effort to collect all the pieces and scan them and post them, but so I will try to catch up before the challenge ends. We’ll see if I make it. Either way, my life has been changed by this challenge. I am no longer afraid of making bad art, because there is always more art to do tomorrow. When one gets in such a habit, it makes it much easier to check the ego at the door.

So I hope someone else takes courage to remember we don’t have to follow anyone’s schedule, but just commit to making art on a regular basis. That alone is enough to change our lives. Have a great weekend!

I Stand For Love

8 Aug

Today August 8 is I Stand for Love Day.

I-stand-for-love-pink-WM

 

I have decided to stand for love whether people approve or not.

I stand for loving atheists by honoring their right to NOT believe.

I stand for loving the homeless even if they should get a job. God’s grace falls on all of us.

I stand for loving those who are gay or bi or transgendered. God loves them, why shouldn’t I?

I stand for loving children enough to help them know their parents–even after divorce because all kids deserve to know both parents.

I stand for loving people who have divorced my family members because there is no reason for contempt and hate.

I stand for loving victims of abuse by speaking out against those who abuse others.

I stand for loving women and men with equality because God created us equal.

I stand for loving those who need an extra hand in hard times.

I stand for loving people by telling the truth even if I am shunned and lied about by my own family.

I stand for love, because LOVE (Jesus) stood for me.

How will you stand for love?

 

Freedom–Nothing Left to Lose

6 Aug

How do you define freedom? If you grew up with controlling parents, it could be something as small as the music you listen to and the foods you eat, but chances are it is the bigger things like the way you vote, worship and the lifestyle you have chosen. Many ACONs* are frustrated because their parents still want to control how they vote. If this is true, perhaps it is time to remind your parents they don’t get to vote in your life.

An ACON wrote to me the other day to say her parents don’t understand her healing process and because she doesn’t want to hurt them, she is caught in between her need to be herself and her need to please her parents. This is actually a lose-lose situation. Her parents will never be satisfied and she will continue to waste her life trying to please them, but she will never get the blessing.

Nothing-to-Lose-WM

I don’t think any narcissistic parent will ever understand their child’s healing process. Toxic narcissism is basically a lack of empathy and those who lack empathy are not able to put themselves in their children’s shoes.

The only cure for narcissism seems to be empathy, but no one knows how to create empathy in people consumed with their own needs. This is why we must reach for our own healing and not try to explain everything to our parents. They controlled our lives for long enough, it’s time to make our own choices. We can only find freedom when we are willing to accept the apology we never got and give ourselves the blessing we deserve.

As we let go of people pleasing and codependency, we discover a new hope and freedom. This freedom only comes when we realize our parents will never love us unconditionally–when we finally hit the point where we realize we have nothing left to lose, we find freedom.

Even Jesus lets go and teaches us to let go too. We don’t have to stop loving our parents, but we can stop expecting them to meet our needs. In this letting go, we accept ourselves for who we are and accept our parents as they are. This is freedom and if you can pull it off it is a win-win situation for all.

PS for those who are struggling and need a little incentive here is one of my favs from the eighties–gotta hand it to Billy Joel.

*ACON Adult Child of Narcissists

Art 101 Week Four

1 Jul Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.  -Brene Brown

Week four was a very busy week for me, I celebrate my 24th wedding anniversary and my hubby’s birthday so getting stuff done was a challenge. As a result I am now one piece of art behind. Remember I said I wanted to do something different. Well I posted this in the middle of last week and told how I made my first piece of art which took four days with what seemed like multiple moving parts. If you want to know how to make one for yourself, you can read about it here. This is the picture of the finished product.

In-this-house-1000-WM

I also made a couple more mantra girls to add to my collection and I also put up a gallery for them on the side bar to the right.

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.  -Brene Brown

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. -Brene Brown

 

You get what you tolerate. -Henry Cloud

You get what you tolerate. -Henry Cloud

I plan to keep doing this and catch up my one day but right now I will be on a break for a week so that will put me behind even more, however I love doing this and I will be back in week! I hope everyone else in Art 101 is enjoying the process and going at their own pace as well. Have a good week!

Art: Mission Statement Wall Hanging

27 Jun In-this-house-1000-WM

For over ten years, my husband and I have been discussing various mission statements for our home. This past week we celebrated 24 years of marriage. I decided if we haven’t figure it out what this marriage thing is about by now, we might as well give up, so my anniversary gift to him was this wall hanging. And he loves it. We both do, but it was a lot of work and the worst of it was that I lost the wooden panel canvas I wanted to use.

In-this-house-1000-WM
I woke up one day thinking I could do this project while he was at work and surprise him. But the only surprise was that I turned our entire house up-side-down. (I’m sure he was thrilled to come home to chaos.) The next day I reorganized and cleaned my studio because after doing art everyday for a month things were getting out of hand. Even after a thorough cleaning, I still found no canvas. We are not the kind of people who have a cluttered home–we like to see the walls. My hubby searched for it while he was home, but neither of us could figure out how such a big canvass could get lost in such a clean house. It was extremely frustrating and I even questioned if I dreamed it all up and never actually ordered it, but he remembered it too.

One thing we have learned in all our years together is that life is unpredictable, so neither of us got bent out of shape about it, but it was really weird. The next morning I temporarily lost my drive to do art so I got lazy and decided to sleep in. When I got up and came out into the family room, the canvas was sitting there waiting for me. After pinching myself, I texted hubby and sure enough he had found it in the garage in a box marked for guess what? Good Will–yikes!

Day One

So I cheerfully began the process of turning the canvas into a home mission statement. It took a whole day to write out the statement and stamp it on the board to make sure the letters would fit. After all these years, I basically knew what we wanted it to say, but to make it fit succinctly was key.

I found letter stamping rather tedious because I knew I was going to cover it all over with paper anyway, but it was a necessary step to make sure what I wanted to say would fit on the canvas and it’s a good thing I did, because I had too many words. I pared down my original statement several times to make it fit.

Another issue was finding letters that were actually the right size. I have lots of stamps (thanks to my hubby who faithfully supports the arts through buying my supplies.) Even with seven or eight different types I still struggled to find the right fit. And no, sorry local friends, I cannot share my stamps because they are organized in a way that only I can figure out.

Looking at the finished product for day one, you might notice I misspelled one word because looking at letters backwards while breathing in ink fumes causes a headache. After this, I called it a day.

End of Day One

Lettering

Day Two

For the second day, I used watercolor paper and gouache to make some little flowers and bigger flower shapes to add to the finish product. It might not seem like much, but these little details reflect the history of our lives. We have owned seven cats and treasured every one, so cats were naturally on the top of my list. We love the ocean and had our first kiss in New Zealand on a gorgeous beach and we honeymooned at and have lived on the Oregon Coast, so I added a couple starfish (and yes there really are purple ones.) We both love to read so a book is a must. The bluebird of happiness is always welcome in my art. And two hearts beating individually, but in time with each other is symbolic of our union.

By the time I was finished dreaming up stuff to paint and cutting them out, I was done for the day.

End of Day Two

Pieces

Day Three

I did what Kelly Rae Roberts calls “unleashing our joy.” I thought of what sort of things I wanted to build into the first layer. (For those unfamiliar with this type of art, mixed media art is not just about the looks of the finished project but a journey filled with meaning and while not all layers are visible on the finished project, they have meaning to the artist.

Life is too short to spend time gluing ugly paper on a board, so I chose papers that delighted me and began gluing them down with gel gloss medium. I love gel gloss medium because it seals the surface so you can wipe off the paint if you don’t like it for future applications. Here is the first layer glued on with a top layer of gel gloss applied.

Paper
Next I wanted to add meaningful layers for our marriage. My hubby is a musician so I added a G clef. We both love the writings of George MacDonald so I ripped a page out of an antique book (bought specifically for this sort of thing) “At the Back of the North Wind,” and glued them onto the next layer.

Here is the page I glued and as you can see for people whose families were not always happy, we have often felt much like Diamond, but we also have discovered we have a choice and we do not need to make the same choices as our parents. We especially like the last part, “When heart and head go together, nothing can stand before them.” Thanks George MacDonald!

George-MacDonald

For the paint layers, I first painted the whole thing including sides with the color I must wanted to use. Then I took some bubble wrap and brushed paint on it and then placed it on the canvas for some contrast. At this point you can no longer read the George MacDonald quote and you can barely see the G clef, but hubby and I know it’s in there and that’s what matters. This is where art really is a process.

Paint-layers
Next I added some green paint and used some stencils to add more contrasting layers and more gel gloss before masking off the edges with painter’s masking tape (which is a lot like real masking tape except it’s blue and doesn’t stick as hard or ruin the surface.) I left this picture a little bigger so you can see the details. I think it looks like a pretty painting in its own right at this point.

Stencils-and-masking-off

 

I learned masking with white years ago from my mentor and friend Estle Johnson who not only taught me to paint with oils, but she paid for and took me to get my GED. At the time, I was young and had no idea how she was such a gift to my life–one of those human angels God sends when we are in need.

I thought of Estle as I painted this and wished she was still alive today so I could thank her for the many things she taught me. She definitely influenced my life for the better. This love I felt for her was also poured onto the canvass with each stroke. I felt straight white would be too stark and I wanted a warmer tone so I added some medium cad yellow to the white. I’ll show you what it looked like in case you want to make one for yourself. I will also add a list of supplies at the end of the page for those interested in making their own mission statement.*

White-with-yellow-for-veiling

So here is what the first layer looked like.
Veiling-in-white-first-layer
You can still see through it easily but I wanted to make sure my letters stood out so I went for a second layer. I then added some strips on the bottom and on the top I added washi tape that looks like a measuring tape that measures hope, joy, love, laughter and says I love U on it. It felt it was appropriate because these are the fruits of a good marriage.

Next I applied my larger fonts with paint. I put the paint on the stamps with a small paint brush and pressed down. This was looking good, but it was time for a rest so I stopped here.

End of Day Three

Second-Veilng-with-White-and-lettering
Day Four

I got out the black dizzy ink pad and started applying letters. I found a way to keep the ink from stinking up the room in the shortest amount of time, I set out each line and prepared to stamp then opened the ink pad and as soon as that line was done, I shut it immediately. Then I prepared the next line of stamps. It was fun, but challenging to decide where to put the larger letters. All the words in larger letters stand out so I wanted them to be words that represented our core values like respect, love, freedom, etc. I also used that handy painter’s masking tape to measure and mark off each line to keep it straight.

More-Lettering
After I had all the letters on, I added another coat of gel gloss to seal it off and started gluing on pieces of the water color art I had made. I didn’t use all of the pieces. The main idea was to have options but not overdo it. As I glued each piece on, I glued over it and then went around each with black marker for continuity. I also traced the turquoise letters with black. To finish, I put two more coats of gel gloss over the entire piece including the sides.

End of Day Four

Even though it ended up being a little late for our anniversary, I was thrilled to set it out last night and start supper. My hubby came home and made his yummy stir fry sauce and we sat and ate while we stared at it. That’s how it goes in a fun marriage. Here is one last look at the finished product hanging on the wall.

In-This-House-Wall-WM

 

Supplies you might need if you want to make one of your own–

wood panel or canvas

paper–the stiffer the better

gel gloss medium

acrylic paints and brushes of your choice

zinc white acrylic for veiling

watercolor paper  

gouache to make small art pieces

book page or items of interest to you to incorporate into your art

bubble wrap or other texture tools help

painter’s masking tape

stencils and letter stamps of various sizes
(if you live in a small town look on Amazon)

*NOTE: Make sure you use zinc white for veiling because it’s transparent

You also might want to keep your selections to transparent colors which mix easily without looking like mud.

Here is a video I found that helps explain the advantages of transparent colors.

Good to Go

26 Jun Good-to-Go-phone-1000-WM

The other day someone said they wished they knew the statistics so they could move to the area with the least amount of narcissists. Obviously she felt like she was a magnet for narcs.

Even though it would be nice to know the area where the least narcissists live, the statistics are probably changing all the time. A better solution might be to recognize narcissists for who he is—which is a desperate person living with a survivor of the fittest mentality.

We all act selfish at times, but we are not all toxic enough to be defined as narcissists. Narcissism is on a scale. If you think of it like a measuring stick, the first few millimeters are about healthy self-care. Healthy people realize it is not selfish to take care of our own needs first. Only by taking care of ourselves first can we have anything to give to others.

Good-to-Go-phone-1000-WM

As we cross to the other side if the measuring stick we find toxic and malignant narcissism. Toxic parents are parents who do not care for their children—young or grown—but merely use them to push their own needs and agenda onto them.

The term adult child—people who were once children dealing with adult problems came about because these parents failed in some way to provide, protect or nurture their children in some way. While many parents have regrets, the toxic narcissistic parent has no empathy for their child regardless of any pain they caused them.

The book the Empathy Trap explains how narcissists target empathetic people and how some family members enable the narc because they are apathetic to the abuse of others. An empathetic child raised by narcissistic parents can become a target for marrying a narcissist because the parent has used the child’s natural empathy and groomed them to provide them with narcissistic feed. As they grow out of the family home they automatically look for someone to save or fix—and usually such marriages end badly.

To be safe from narcissists, it takes two important steps—the first step to is to recognize a narcissist and the second is to keep good boundaries to keep one from sucking you into a situation that might drain you.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you meet someone new—

Do they talk only about what they are interested in?
Are they arrogant and full of self?
Do they have a victim mentality?
Do they feel they can break the law?
Do they refuse to take ownership of their choices?
Are they willing to lie to save their own reputation?
Are they willing to throw someone else under the bus to protect self?
Do they want revenge whenever someone crosses them?
Do they use their children or spouse?
These traits do not guarantee this person is a narcissist, but they are red flags.

The second step is to protect your boundaries. Here are a few tips—

Can you be responsible for your own choices?
Can you can say no?
Can you stop apologizing?
Can you stop trying win love by working for it?
Can you stop giving up who you are for others?
Can you finally value yourself as much as you value others?
Can you do self-care without others reminding you?
Can you stop co-dependently giving away all you time, money and energy?

If you can answer yes to most of these, you can live anywhere because the boundaries are finally set in your head and you are good to go.

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