Often, we look back at our past and wistfully think, “if only.”
If only I had had better parents.
If only I had had more opportunities.
If only I had made a different decision.
There have been times I’ve imagined myself talking to a younger me. Travel back in time, giving that child art lessons, opportunities, direction, or someone to talk to. If only.
Rather than listen to my past history, I needed to meditate with the Living Word. Once I took the time to do just that, the Lord pointed out that my musings were basically saying that He has not been enough in my life and has not been active in my past. The “if only” game is not as harmless as it seems. It’s an affront to a loving God who has been designing a life for me to learn grow, overcome, and become.
I am not going to achieve anything with the “if only” mindset. Frankly, I’m not going to achieve anything because of my talents or giftings, either. Anything I accomplish in life will because of the price Jesus paid. He has a plan and it’s time I work with Him instead of looking backwards.
No more “if only.”
After I'd posted the first icon I wrote (factoid - you write an icon, you don't paint it), a friend who is undergoing treatment for cancer commented how much she liked it. So much so, she was wondering how she might be able to acquire it. The tradition of creating icons has a pretty strict stipulation that you don't give away your first one because it is full of your frailties and flesh, not spirit and prayer. While she was gracious when I explained that, I determined she'd have one to help her along in her healing journey.
Carolyn Rock and the rest of the West Michigan iconography family were gracious in assisting me with materials, prayer, and moral support in creating the Archangel Gabriel. The messenger. My prayer is that he brings a message of healing to my friend.
After a couple weeks it was finished, and I presented it to my friend. She was speechless. No small feat.
Have a glimpse. And while you're thinking of it, join me in prayer for her healing.
Through the sadness of going through Mom and Dad’s belongings and grieving the losses we’ve had, there are flashes of mirth here and there. We discovered a small notebook that Mom had started as a ‘Round Robin’ letter among her siblings. She filled out the first page with all the siblings’ addresses, the next page was birthdays and wedding anniversaries. She introduced the idea with a letter about what she hoped the notebook would do - connect them over the distances since they couldn’t get together very often. She wrote a newsy missive filled with photos and sent it to her oldest brother with the hope that his spouse wouldn’t let the notebook sit around but take him in hand and keep it moving. It was a success.
It’s over twenty years old and it’s been fun to read the letters and look at the pictures. So many people are gone now, but they live again in their writing. The last letter is from Dad. I was reading it in my office when I started howling with laughter. Dad was writing about his kids and I thought his viewpoint was interesting. Then he got to me.
“Donna is the artisan in the family and is always preparing for one art show or another. She has a very impressive collection of ribbons and awards over the years from many locations. Several years ago I purchased one of her paintings that I really liked. Some time later she entered it in a show and won and award. (Sort of true. He purchased the piece off my easel but I had told him I’d already entered it in a show and would have to get it back since it had been accepted.) Now she would like to buy it back (we’re departing from reality here, but his creative skills are kicking in) but in light of the recent increase in works of art I have been forced to raise the price so much she can’t swing it. I keep telling her it’s a lesson in free enterprise. I don’t think she really minds but then I am very careful not to let her serve me any strong tasting meals.”
I miss him and he’s not even gone, yet. But this part, his wicked wit and storytelling, is gone forever. Except in old letters.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.