Recently, for about fifteen minutes, my life took a little and wonderful detour. Yes, sometimes the best things in life are ones that are unexpected.
Over the last eight years, small groups of women and I have visited a local high school or middle school to meet with some wonderful students and hang out with them at lunchtime. Over those eight years, we probably have given flowers to the students on three occasions. Last week was one of those occasions, but it was different.
During the break time, after the first group of students had finished lunch and the next group arrived, I looked up to see a visitor. It was a young man in his U.S. Navy uniform. That got my attention. I’m used to being in the school conference room but it’s usually full of middle school girls. He told me the receptionist had told him to hide in the room while he waited for his “little’ sister to arrive.
I live in the Hill Country of Texas and we just don’t see a lot of active duty military men and women in uniform in our day-to-day lives. The Navy is part of the history of my husband’s life and that of his brother and father. For me, seeing Navy military members is not unusual. Seeing them in the school in that room is. I had worked as a civilian for three military services, so of course I wanted to learn more about what he does and where he does it.
As he talked, I remembered he mentioned that he was hiding. I asked if his sister knew he was coming–and the answer was no. An unexpected surprise was about to be revealed right there in that conference room! We quickly put together a small bouquet of flowers and then she arrived.
To say it was a joyful and dramatic moment would be an understatement. It was a powerful reconnecting and all of it was happening in this school conference room in the middle of Texas, far away from where he does his work.
After some more tears and photo taking they left to visit elsewhere because those students we are used to seeing showed up.
On any other day there would not have been flowers to share and fifteen minutes earlier or later, the room would not have been available. Those little things that are unexpected can be more memorable than we imagine. I am sure this will be a story they will share over the years. Awesome!
Two years ago I was seeking refuge in an art gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas. The whole 4th of July joy for me was being reduced by all the tourists who frequent the Berg on holidays and the downtown area was packed, even in the Texas heat. It all seemed a little overdone and commercial. So I slipped into a beautiful little oasis at an art gallery. The gallery describes its purpose to be: Graceful Discoveries. Finding something special that satisfies your senses, speaks to your soul, and fills your heart with joy. My husband and I found that to be true There I met a local artist, Sara Winters.
If this story sounds familiar, it’s because I posted about it on the 4th in 2015. Some things are worth repeating.
The change of pace and the feel of the gallery was noticeable. We landed at the right place to reframe the celebration of our country’s independence.All this freedom we enjoy was better displayed for me in the artwork, including Sara’s little painting which is shown above (it’s since been sold). I found this piece to be simple and nostalgic in a meaningful way. More authentic, simple, and colorful in a perfect way, than the commercialism flash and noise usually associated with the 4th.
I think I love her painting even more because she is such an interesting person and she spent time with me showing some of her other pieces. Sara stands out among the other artists to me because she is a young woman with small children and is self taught. Her studio is not in town, but out in the country where barns have multiple uses.
To have art placed in the gallery where we met, the artist has to be really good at what she or he does. So, my amateur art appreciation opinion of Sara’s work is validated by experts.
Happy 4th and I thank Sara for the afternoon that has led to us still being in touch off and on for the last two years. Our visit even inspired me and some other women to go with a group of middle school students to the gallery. It was an amazing experience for everyone.
I see the afternoon in the gallery with so much art about nature and people as the way we truly are in the United States in our normal day-to-day living. The story of freedom, and all that we are offered were apparent to me that afternoon. We have the freedom to pursue our dreams. It doesn’t have to be all noise and splash to be enjoyable. It can be found in a small painting and a conversation with someone who is new to us and may have abilities we don’t have, but can enjoy and appreciate.
Happy 4th of July.
This blog is my guilty pleasure. It allows me to share my thoughts in hope that someone else will find some value or learn something along the way. I post when something really special sticks in my consciousness and it seems worth sharing.
I have been waiting for God to inspire me with meaningful words on this September 11th. As an American, I do what most of us do when we pause to remember September 11, 2001. I think about where I was when I heard, how I felt, how fear settled over me, and then hope and optimism came in the unexpected kindness we extended to each other in our wounded country. Those words come easily.
The ones that are harder to summon have to do with the passing of Rev. Dr. Marti Zimmerman on September 11, 2011. It seems trite and overdone to mention how much all of us miss her energy, presence, faithful spirit, and sense of adventure. It is much more than just those qualities.
One of her daughters posted a video today of Marti’s life. She mentioned missing her mom and wishing she could have conversations with her, but still hears her mom’s voice telling her things and giving an opinion. The woman had quite a few opinions and some of us had a lot to learn. She would always tell us that God has a sense of humor. That was a new idea to me.
She would remind us that children and youth are God’s gift for the future and that we need to give them a voice. The local church she pastored in Colorado took the business of children and youth very seriously. This is not always the case in many churches because children take time and energy and don’t usually contribute much financially. Her patience ran thin with people who were too tired or busy to go to church, even her children.
Consumerism and affluenza became the targets of her teachings and Christian education. Expensive technology, storage units where people pay to store stuff, and the lack of affordable housing in the affluent area near the church became targets of her preaching.
Marti would mention how her children would get annoyed at her constant visiting and endless conversations when they were ready to go home and leave the whole church thing for an afternoon. With some sympathy, she would acknowledge that being a PK2 child (Marti and her husband were a pastoral team) had some added challenges.
Marti became a very educated and accomplished senior pastor, earning a Doctorate of Ministry from a prestigious university in Denver. She was invited to speak throughout the country and became also became widely known among the women leadership of the connectional church. Impressive credentials, but she didn’t let it get in the way of being real. One night at a large gathering in the home of some of the church’s members someone asked her the traditional and polite what do you do question. I waited for the big long educated and wise answer that some Dr. pastors deliver with an attitude. It never came. She smiled, looked around the kitchen, laughed a little, grabbed an appetizer and said “I’m a preacher.” This seemed to me to be an understatement. I thought to myself, really? Anyone can call themselves a preacher. She knew who she was and whose she was.
When we would do financial seminars based on her work, she would lead off by saying “We’re all sinners here.” Not the intro I was going for as a facilitator. Truthfully, it took time for me to wrap my financial advisor mind around that one. I now know that she was right. We all can do better.
This Sunday I will be meeting with someone at my church in Texas to begin using the First You Dream workbook based on Marti’s sermons. Marti has left many legacies to those of us, including this work. Her teachings are with us. For me, they never leave. My friend Emily and I talk about them and I have a stack on my shelf, just waiting for God to send some more people our way. I had to re-enter all of Marti’s sermons when we created the book since her computer had seriously crashed. I’m pretty familiar with what they say.
September 11th. A day of remembering for many different reasons.
I’m leaving you with Marti’s praying hands and her uplifted ones as she preached. They are created in a cartoon format. As long as something would send the right message and teach others about Jesus and God’s love, she was up for just about anything.
Having an author’s blog feels like a luxury. My other blogs and websites are targeted for a specific purpose. This one is my go-to place when I experience something personal that touches me and is so special that I sense others might like to share the experience.
This post is celebrates our annual 4th of July holiday. It’s about how a quick stop to a local art gallery can remind us all about the beauty of our country, and the amazing talent of our artists and business owners.
My husband and I were escaping the summer heat (and the added holiday tourists blocking Main Street) in Fredericksburg, Texas. We stopped by Whistle Pik Galleries during the city-wide monthly Art Walk. The Fredericksburg area attracts a lot of artists and those who appreciate art. Whistle Pik’s tagline is: Graceful Discoveries. Finding something special that satisfies your senses, speaks to your soul, and fills your heart with joy. We found that to be true.
Going to an art gallery is a great alternative to the normal 4th of July activities. There is also an added bonus in Fredericksburg because the galleries offer complimentary sampling of wines from the local wineries along with amazing artwork. Often the artists are in the galleries and we met one, Sara Winters, who spent time telling us about her paintings which are being showed in this lovely gallery. We learned about her huge painting titled Wimberley. Please click here to view a photo of this interesting piece of art.
The Wimberley painting is 48″x60″. For those of us who aren’t artists, it is hard to imagine painting something so intricate and large. The logistics of working with such a big surface are pretty interesting. Sara is an accomplished self-taught artist. She is also one of the youngest artists I have met on our visits to galleries.
The painting is stunning and feels very Texas Hill County. Now it is also a part of Texas history. Wimberley is one of the small and very charming towns in the Hill Country which was literally swept away recently by the Blanco river. The water rose quickly creating a fierce flood that flowed with great speed and power without consideration for anything in its path. Lives were lost, homes destroyed, and the beautiful trees which seem so rooted and grand in Sara’s painting, are now broken and damaged.
Sara’s stunning artwork is one reminder of what was. The photos she showed us of how the trees look today are the reality of what remains.
This 4th of July, I celebrate artists, art galleries, and the Texas Hill Country. I celebrate a painting which not only captures the unusual strength of old and strong trees, but serves for all times as a striking visual reminder of a beautiful spot in Wimberley, Texas, as it looked before the river roared through.
Sara had a smaller painting titled The Fourth and Flowers which you may view by clicking here. It seems appropriate to give you an opportunity to enjoy this too on the day we celebrate our freedom and independence!
Sometimes we just have to take a chance.
In the fall of 2010, my friend (and pastor) Sue and I ventured out into our little community in a small town in Texas in hopes of meeting some young women who could use just a little support and encouragement to let them enjoy their school years and actually graduate. This year (2014), that hope became a reality as a group of us gathered to attend graduation to celebrate the accomplishments of those students we met that first year. Along the way the group of volunteers and students has expanded.
When we started this journey, our hopes were high, but our expectations were limited. There was no roadmap for us to follow, we just worked together as volunteers, students, and school staff members to meet the needs of those we met. It was a collaboration for sure.
Yesterday I was going through my box of cards which I have kept over the years because they are special and have brought me joy and encouragement. I found a card Sue had sent me when we first started the mentoring activity. It made me smile and reminded me that things that look good after four years, may not have seemed that certain in the beginning.
The added statement “If it isn’t tried, we don’t know if we can” became very powerful and helped me stay focused and moved me into action. The kindness in the words and the loving spirit in which the card was sent helped me remain centered on outcomes which benefited the students. This is a good reminder that kind words of encouragement can help overcome fear and allow us to ignore the small minority of people who were negative about the whole thing (yes, there were a few along the way).
This card is a keeper! May you take these wise words and move forward on something you have been going to do but lacked the courage to take the first step.