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Tag Archives | tiny art

The Milagro of Love

Today’s Advent Art-Meditation is from Zephaniah 3: 14-17

Zephaniah is a short book in the bible in which the prophet is warning Jerusalem (yet again) that there will be destruction because of their return to pagan practices and away from God. But he promises there will be a remnant of humble believers who will rebuild after the razing. He tells them at that time there will be no more fear and that the Lord will be among them, “singing joyfully because of them.”

Milagro Heart Trinity

Milagro Heart Trinity

God’s relationship with the Jews is a lot like a long-term marriage. If you’re newly-married, you might not believe me. But if you’ve been in a relationship for 10 years or more, you’ll know what I mean. The Jewish people endlessly swing from loving God, to thinking He might be ignoring them, to turning away from Him and trying to solve all their own problems themselves, and finally rediscovering God was there all along with a Love that stands the test of time. In marriage terms, these four stages are called Romance, Disillusionment, Misery and Awakening.

It’s good to be aware of these natural stages of a relationship because we live in a world that preaches the first stage of Romance as all there is to love. When we hit the wall of stage 2 and 3, we sometimes believe the answer is to flee back to stage 1 and start all over with someone new. Don’t believe it…if you’ve committed your life to someone, try and navigate your way to stage 4: Awakening. It’s hard and you might get burned. You may both have to decide to wander through the desert to get there. You might need to ask for directions. But on the other side is where true love lives, the Promised Land.

Life is hard. Marriage is hard. The one thing you should know is that you’re not alone. If you find yourself in that desert of pain so vast and lonely that there are no words, the devil tries to make you believe no one could ever know how you feel. I know. I’ve been there. But Jesus says He is the vine and we are the branches. That means we are all connected and it’s in our best interest to reach out and support each other. A healthy vine produces the choice wine. No matter what you go through, whether it’s an addiction, a death of a loved one, abuse or a difficult marriage, there ARE others who have suffered like you have and who understand your pain. Don’t let people tell you there aren’t. Don’t tell yourself their aren’t. You just need to find them and that might mean stepping out of your shame and blame and trusting someone of good will. When you do, you will begin to heal…and God will “renew you in His love, singing joyfully because of you”.

Today’s art is a trinity of milagro hearts. “Milagro” is Spanish for miracle, and the heart with a burning flame is a popular Hispanic icon. It signifies undying love. In this case, I have created one to represent a man, one a woman, and the third with the crown of thorns is for Christ.

You can purchase this artwork here.

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If your marriage is troubled and you don’t know where to turn, consider attending the Retrouvaille program, available worldwide. You do not have to be Catholic, Christian or any faith to go. It’s cheaper than therapy, and Milagros, or Miracles, happen through this program all the time. Click here to find out more.

Everything’s coming up roses as long as I get my coffee!

JN791_ComingUpRoses

“Coming Up Roses” 3 x 3"

Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from Psalm 43: 3-5 and speaks about not giving up hope and trusting in God even when the chips are down.

We all have days that we just don’t want to face. It may be as trivial as not wanting to leave your warm bed on a cold, dark day. Or you may have to look for a job or face a difficult person. Whatever it is, you can trust in God to help you get through it. For me, reframing daily inconveniences into the context of “What does God ask of me in this situation” helps me to find joy and peace each day no matter how mundane or aggravating. It’s like that little bit of caffeine in my morning coffee that gets me up and out. One foot in front of the other, I get through each day and reach at least some of my destinations. I trust there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s only from the TV!

In the Catholic church, we use colors to distinguish the liturgical seasons. Three of the four weeks of Advent are symbolized by violet, a royal color for the Prince of Peace. This week, week three, features rose. This past Sunday was called “Gaudete Sunday” (Latin for Rejoice), and is one of only two days during the year when the color is used. It is a combination of violet and white, which is used for major feasts and celebrations like Christmas. If you attended Catholic mass anywhere in the world this weekend, you saw a rose candle being lit, rose garments on the celebrant and rose decorations on the altar. The color is like a little jolt of anticipation in the middle of the Advent season, a reminder that although we still wait, we have not lost hope.

Parties, presents, kids finishing up school projects…it all gets so rushed. The barely-used rose color in church this weekend made me stop, notice, take a breath, and gather strength to keep on going…full caffeine ahead!

You can purchase this tiny artwork here.

This Little Lighthouse of Mine

The reference for today’s Advent Art Mediation is John 1: 6-9

Santa Cruz Lighthouse Art © Jen Norton

This Little Lighthouse of Mine

John is introduced as a man sent from God to bear witness to the light that was coming into the world. It is clarified that he is not the actual light, but merely here to testify. If we continue on past verse 9, we see that not all recognize “the Light”, but those that do are empowered to become children of God.

I have to admit, there have been points in my life where I wasn’t so sure about the light thing. Maybe Jesus was just a great social revolutionary. Maybe he’s just one iteration of many times God has become man. Other indigenous cultures have similar mythology, after all. I’m a painter…I work in shades of gray and alternate possibilities. But then I look at stories of men and women that really walked the earth (in recorded time) and historical narratives that tie together. The bible was compiled over a long period of time by a variety of people. It would be awfully hard to tie up all those loose ends and fulfill hundreds of prophesies without some form of divine intervention, not to mention stand the test of time under the scrutiny of scholars. And then there was that death and resurrection thing, with eye-witnesses. So I choose to believe.

Stronger proof for me has been in the moments when I’ve actually felt God’s presence. The occasion that comes to mind today happened about 15 years ago. We were trying to have children and coming to the realization that it wasn’t going to happen with out the miracles of modern science. I was really down and really worried.

One day, after work, I was “called” to go stand along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, near the Lighthouse that houses the surfing museum. Called is a weird thing to try to describe (or believe) in an internet blog post. I can only say that I had this intense desire to drive 1/2 hour in the opposite direction from my house, over a mountain, to go stand on the cliff of the sea for no known reason. This wasn’t the first time I’d experienced this phenomenon, so I didn’t question. I just went. I stood by the ocean in the wind with my eyes closed. After a moment, all human sounds around me left and all I heard was the wind in my ears. In the wind, I heard a voice that instantly told me exactly what needed to happen and to not be afraid. It wasn’t an audible voice…it was more like the words were placed inside me.

You may be thinking I’m a bit crazy. That’s OK…I’m an artist, so your crazy might just be my normal. I only know that the feeling I left with that day carried me through the years it took to get my beautiful daughter, born on Christmas Eve. Near the lighthouse, I caught a glimmer of light to come.

This tiny Lighthouse art is available here.