Hide and Seek

“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, coming ready or not!” And so the hunt begins. This generations-old game of hiding and seeking.

When they are tiny the game is nothing more than covering one’s face with your hands, or hiding behind a blanket, Yet, we revel in their joyful gurgles of delight when we reveal ourselves, and play it over and over, just to hear their gorgeous squeals again.

They grow to hiding their faces with their whole back end hanging out in plain view but still we happily play the game repeatedly, playing in kind so we can be found. Their lack of sophistication is endearing.

A sense of self is developed and no longer do rear ends cutely hang out , but, rather, with cunning they hide cleverly out of sight behind a door or in the closet. A clever parent will never hide so well that they cannot be found, otherwise the seekers would eventually give up and not want to play anymore.

Our Heavenly Father wants to be found. In Isaiah 55:6, we are encouraged to “Seek the Lord while He may be found”. In James 4:8, we are reminded that if we come near to Him, He will come near to us. Yada, in the fourth dimension is drawing near to God for a face-to-face personal encounter.He wants us to find Him. He wants to play the game.

Many times in the Bible we are told to come into His presence with thanksgiving. Remember that the giving of ‘thanks’ comes from the root Hebrew word “yada (to know)”. Yada, level 1, is seek out and find the facts, When you come into His presence, start with your countdown, 10=Thankyou for… 9=thank you for… 8= thank you for…. I confess that sometimes I struggle to get to ten things. My life is reasonably repetitive and I don’t like to say the same things over and over. Too quickly it can loose it’s meaning and freshness if I repeat myself too often. I must search hard to find new things. Examine carefully my day. Sometimes this pressure to come up with new things has me stop and think about Him and why He is so good to me. It leads me to Yada, level 2, where I learn why He does these things. Who is He? As I give mental ascent to the WHY I find myself opening up to Level 3 where I begin to get personal and real with Him.

Often as we grow we learn a different form of ‘Hide and Seek”. We hide from others and we hide from ourselves, even to the point of loosing sight of who we actually are. Over the years, if I’ve got to level 3 and have opened myself up and been real, then I’d considered that enough, that I did well. Opening myself up would bring with it so much emotion that I was really unable to go further. But the more I have come to know myself, address my ‘issues’, and become comfortable with who I am, the more I am free to move forward into level 4. It’s like a marriage. You have to both KNOW yourselves before you can KNOW the other, or else one can easily become co- dependant (expecting the other to fix your issues or to be the fixer), or independant (where you refuse the depth of relationship) , rather than inter-dependant (both working as functioning individuals who give and take equally from the relationship). Even with God, we need to KNOW who we are and take responsibility for ourselves. We cannot expect Him to magically fix us. He doesn’t do the ‘Abracadabra wand’ thing to make us whole. Rather, I have found that He leads when WE ask. And we get the joy and self-love from having accomplished and changed into something we like and are proud of. Nor can we be independant of Him with success. We are hard-wired for relationship. We can try to be an island because it seems less painful or we are free to be more self-indulgent, but at the end of the day we loose big time. God wants real, equal, relationship. Face to face…Yada, level 4 knowing.

And so I make my grateful list of ten things every day. Searching out His daily reveals of Himself to me. Want to come with me into His presence?

Mama’s Kitchen

Who doesn’t love the smells that come out of Mama’s kitchen?! My own children have all left home but still I love to go to my parent’s house and have my Mum’s cooking. It’s comforting, soothing, familiar. Doesn’t matter what the food actually is because it’s all about the nourishment I received there. My basic needs being met.

Now, I’m sure that there are some people who don’t care for Mama’s cooking at all. For a while my own dear children decided to go on an anti-broccoli stunt and discovered that many lessons can be taught in Mama’s kitchen. They received broccoli every night for two whole weeks and thereafter never complained about broccoli again. Instead, strangely, they took to saying they hated ice cream…interesting, huh. But, no parent likes to hear complaints and whining over the food they have prepared for their lovelies. It puts a real sour taste in the relationship. Mama doesn’t feel a whole lot of excitement towards cooking the next meal. She does, however, continue to cook in spite of, because her love is greater than her feelings of being unappreciated.

We do not go to the table and have food magically appear. Mama makes it. She puts time and effort in. At some point in a child’s development they come to this realisation that Mama is the source of the food. The way of Mama is to make the food (Yada level two). The way of Mama is to care for us, to love us. She is faithful in her preparing of food. Reliable. To be trusted. We learn to learn to say ‘Thank you” to her. To acknowledge and show our appreciation for the gift she has given us. My Darling Dearest was amazing at giving our kids a great example on this. I am not always good at following a recipe but am want to tweek it according to what I have available rather than make another trip to the store. Some have been terrific successes but, oh dear, some have been real doozies. Never once can I remember him complaining. He would always eat it…even when I was saying how bad it was and refusing to eat it myself…and he always says thank you. Appreciation boosts Mama’s dopamine levels. She feels happy. Appreciated. Ready and keen to cook for us again.

But imagine if you actually went to the kitchen and began to relate to Mama. Not just realising that there is food on the table. Not just acknowledging that it is Mama who gave it to you. Not just saying a repetitive ‘thank you’ after each meal. But, realising that Mama is a person. That she can be related to. Tell her heartfelt how you enjoyed her meal, how you appreciate what she does for you. It’s a whole ‘nother level of relating from just fact to heart-to-heart. A turning towards each other. A building of relationship.

I think God wants this turning from us. He, just like us, wants to be acknowledged, to be seen. It’s not a case of His self- worth as a parent depending on us being thankful. He’s not that insecure. But, if we are made in His image and we need relationship so much, then it stands to reason that so does He. The Bible tells us over and over that we are to come into His presence with thanksgiving. Say Thank you when you come into His ‘kitchen’. See what He’s done for you. Acknowledge it. Give due praise. Turn towards Him.

This turning, beginning to engage, is level three of ‘Yada’. It’s as if we are moving from just a superficial head level towards a heart level relationship.This dimension three is having a personal encounter. Truly, we grow in gratefulness. It’s so much more than just saying ‘Thank you’.

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Phil.

We had had yet another ‘disagreement’ and, as per usual, I was left feeling that I must be either horribly delusional or he must be just plain wrong. I had always favoured the latter but it wasn’t making me feel any better. I was still miserable and hated this contention between us. But how to make him see sense?…he can be more stubborn than an ox when he thinks he’s right! (and in case you’re wondering I am quite different to him… meek as a lamb, docile as a dove… lol, yeah right!)

I turned on the TV to be greeted with Dr. Phil interviewing some miserable soul.

“There’s no such thing as reality. It’s just your perception of it,” he said.

And right there, it hit me hard between the eyes. Neither of us were right and neither of us were wrong. We just had different perceptions. Relief flooded me. It was a lightbulb moment that would bring huge changes to our marriage. No longer did I have to compete, be right, or, be wrong. We could both be legitimised and work this stuff out together. Our different ways of looking at things could become an asset rather than a stumbling block. I just had to open my mind to this new idea.

It had also been a struggle to open my mind to the idea that there was good in my life. I had never thought about it in specifics. I definitely didn’t feel it. In reality, I think like most people, things had happened, I had had an emotional reaction and however I was left feeling at the end of that experience is where I stayed. What I told myself from that happening was what I ended up believing.And most of the time that was negative. The idea of challenging what I was thinking was totally foreign to me. If I thought it, it must be real, right? Well, apparently not according to Dr. Phil. My thoughts are not reality. They are a perception and perceptions can be challenged and changed. Hhhmmmm

So along comes God and asks me to draw something every day that I am grateful for. I’m a pickin’ that He knew I would be having some major mindset shifts to accomplish this task. In order to find the one thing I would draw each day, I decided to make a list of ten things during the day and from those ten choose the one that would become today’s grateful drawing. As we talked about last week, this is dimension 1 of ‘Yada’. To begin to seek out, analyse, investigate. To begin to know the good in my world. But as I continued to do this each day, month in and month out, I began to notice a shift coming in my ‘daily grateful list’. Instead of just things, events, etc., happening around me, I began to put things like ‘Grateful for the sunset…God’s kiss goodnight’ or ‘ Grateful for Freedom…God’s gift’. The author of the good, the reason behind the thing or event, was becoming visible to me. I was moving into the second dimension of ‘Yada’… I was beginning to understand how or why.

Johnson Oatman, the author of many many great old hymns, was onto something when he wrote

“Count Your Blessings, Name Them One by One,

Count your blessings, see what God has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

My dad was telling me the other day about a group called the Wayside Mission in Auckland, New Zealand, back around the time I was making my entrance into the world. They had a kitchen and shower block as well as a big meeting hall and used to give out showers and food to the alcoholics and homeless people who lived in the city at that time. Dad used to go and help out. He said that, for all they had absolutely nothing in the world, when asked every week what they’d like to sing it was always “Count Your Blessings, Name Them One by One”, and it was always every verse in a rousing rendition sung with all their gusto. What was it that made this song their constant favourite? Did they know what Dr. Phil was saying? Did they find as they sang it every week, that their perspective changed from the hard world around them back to the one who is love? Apart from a shower and food in their belly today, their situation hadn’t changed, but when their perspective was on the Giver and His gifts, their world was a brighter happier place.

Perspective…grateful.

Where’s Wally?

I like to study. Do you? For me, I enjoy the whole idea of new concepts and thoughts expanding my thinking. But, I am always running them past my understanding of the Bible. As my bro said the other day, ‘The Bible is a very profound book”, to which I heartily agree. It’s like my internal compass. So when I write posts on ‘grateful’ or ‘thankful’ I am going back and checking out what I can find in the Bible before taking an idea as my own. We’ve established that ‘grateful’ isn’t in the Bible, but ‘thankful’ is, so I did a little more research. Turns out there’s a few words all interpreted as ‘thankful’, but most of them stem from a Hebrew word ‘Yada’ (like Seinfeld’s ‘Yada yada yada). Yada means ‘to know’. More specifically, ‘to know’ in five different dimensions. To keep it simple, we’ll just look at the first dimension today, which is to know in detail, to study, analyse, or investigate like a detective seeking the details of a mystery.

Growing up my sister and I were given the nicknames of Wally and Polly. She was called Polly because she talked so much. I got Wally on account of my indecisiveness. I was always ‘wallying around’. Then onto the market comes a series of books entitled ‘Where’s Wally?” Interestingly, Wally becomes Waldo in North America, Charlie in France, Walter in Germany, all depending on what resonates better with the locals. Now, this is clever marketing but whether he’s Wally or Waldo, you still know him by his defining features. He has a little red and white striped hat with a pompom. He’s tall and skinny so you don’t confuse him with Santa Claus. He has a red and white striped shirt… not black and white like a criminal (stereo-type cartoons going on here) blue jeans, glasses, a walking stick. And in all the activity within a page you can still find him because you know (Yada) him.

To put it candidly, I was a Wally because I did not know (yada) myself. I was my own mystery. I did not know myself because I was bound up by things that had happened in my life, both spiritual and natural, causing my thinking to be skew-whiff and beliefs all wrong. When one is bound, one is hopeless. Hopelessness (the absence of hope) leads to depression. When one is depressed the ability to make decisions is very low. I was a Wally and, sadly, did not know it.

So, how did this Wally begin to know (yada) herself? I came across two entirely different books that did nothing more than open my eyes to the fact that I was NOT living my best life. There was more. Having ABSOLUTELY no idea where to turn, what to do, or how to go about finding this life the authors promised, I asked God to lead. I trusted Him that He knew everything and could do miracles. My prayer was a simple request that, if it was at all possible, I’d really appreciate His help. I didn’t see any other alternatives open to me.

The good news is that He is a God who does do miracles… actually, He was the VERY best alternative I could have chosen! By the time He asked me to do the daily grateful drawings ten years had passed from that prayer, in which He had peeled back the layers of my heart and mind like an onion , exposing and letting me deal with things one issue at a time. Without all the chains binding me up I was now free to begin discovering who I really was. Wally was about to change into someone new.

Now, in order to do this drawing every day that He was asking of me, I had to become like a detective examining each day carefully. Paying real attention. I had to learn to look for the good. It did not come naturally. Some days it was just a mental exercise of finding things to be thankful for… emotions often not engaged so no overwhelming feelings of gratefulness to help me see the moments. But with constant daily practice I began slowly to see differently. I had to know (yada) and be at peace with myself. I began to see the many good things in my life. Eventually emotion followed. Gratefulness for my life did come.

So, where’s Wally these days?

Wally is gone.

YAY!!!

I Got Told Off

Setting the scene… My husband is a great tutor of maths and the sciences. Not only was it very beneficial homeschooling our darlings, but it has also provided us with some extra income along the way. While living in the Sunshine Coast in Australia, he had one particular student who was very bright and was also keen to learn. Blessed with parents who were able to support this desire, many sessions ensued and in time friendships sprang up between some of our kids.

The lessons took place at the student’s grandparent’s home for convenience. And just as conveniently, Grandma & Grandad had a big pool out back. When the summer temps started getting higher Grandad kindly offered a swim to all of our kids whilst Dad was tutoring. Many happy summer hours were spent splashing and cooling off there. We appreciated his generosity. At least I thought I did…

One day out of the blue, Grandad asks me if I like coming there.

“Of course, we do. Why do you ask?”

“You’ve not said ‘Thank you'”

I was flabbergasted. “We haven’t? Have we really not said ‘Thank you’ at all”?

“Oh, you have said it,” Grandad replied, “but it hasn’t been very grateful.”

Excuse me, what?! I had NO idea what he was trying to say. For sure, I was being told off, but I did not understand what I had done wrong. I do remember apologising and being EVER so ‘grateful’ when it was time to leave.

To say I was perplexed was an understatement and somehow the fun and excitement of a swim there lost it’s lustre pretty quickly… like immediately. Although I didn’t understand what he was getting at, I made the best attempt I could to show my gratitude. I bought them a gift and dropped round to the house unexpectedly one day and told the kids to take it in while I played chicken in the van. {Sorry kids if you’re reading this} Not knowing what else to do I tucked it away in the recesses of my heart and hoped that one day I would be able to comprehend it.

That day was coming.

We moved unexpectedly soon after to the other end of the state. The boxes were unpacked and life got back into a rhythm. Sometime in that process … I can’t remember exactly when… an idea came to me. I think it was God telling me the direction I should go, cause, trust me, it wasn’t in my normal thoughts at all.

“Draw something every day that you are grateful for.”

I mulled it round for a couple of weeks as it seemed a bit odd to me really. First off, what was I grateful for enough to draw it? To spend that time and effort on? Secondly, my drawing skills were ok but not that good. Thirdly, what if I had a down day, a real Eeyore day? What if there was nothing to draw? Fourthly, I wasn’t very good at long term things. What if I forgot? Fifthly,… you get the gist that I had a long list of reasons why not to do this.

Have learnt, though, that if He says something, you should pay attention. And so I began to draw.

I drew for a whole year. Some days, I missed and had to catch up. Some days, I REALLY struggled to see enough positive in the world. The drawings started as little things that I liked. Slowly I began to notice a shift and found myself having a broader concept of the good in my world. Nothing of particular note may have happened in my day but it was good that I had a loving husband and 5 wonderful kids. I could draw them. The every day concentrating on the ‘good thing’, the thinking about how to convey it on paper, the looking back and seeing the collection grow, remembering, all these things worked together to begin a major shift in my head and in my heart.

And then I had my ‘ah ha’ moment. The conversation with Grandad came flooding back and I realised what he was seeing. My parents taught me to say ‘please’ and ‘ thank you’, and I did. But despite the words coming out of my mouth, my heart had not had a revelation of how blessed I am. I was not grateful. Grandad had told me off, and, given time and following the instructions of Him who knows all things, including the inner workings of me, I finally got it.

As a final note to this little story, I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to Grandad for being gutsy and forthright enough to tell me what he thought even though we were only casual acquaintances. That little incident had a profound effect for which I am very grateful… though probably not grateful enough to wish for the opinion of EVERY Grandad I meet. Just saying…

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“What Have I Done?”

What have I done? I’ve called myself ‘the grateful artist’ for years now. ‘Grateful’ was the first word that popped into my head way back when, to describe myself with all these drawings of things that I am ‘grateful’ for.

It seemed simple at the time but now I find that the word ‘grateful’ is not mentioned even once in the Bible…NOT EVEN ONCE! The Amplified Bible uses it two times which is a pretty small usage considering we are talking 66 books multiplied many times over for all the different translations. What have I done?

If the Bible doesn’t use the word ‘grateful‘, then what word does it use? Turns out it uses the word ‘thanks’. I wonder why?

So, we begin an etymology study … a nice big word meaning the study of .the origin of words and their meanings 🙂 … and discover that the word ‘grateful’ originates from the Latin word ‘gratus’ meaning ‘ pleasing / thankful’ and by the mid 15th century had progressed to Medieval Latin ‘gratitudo’. From there it became the present word ‘gratitude’ by the Late Middle English period.

The word ‘thankful’ comes from the Old English ‘pancful’ meaning ‘ satisfied/ grateful’ ‘ thoughtful, ingenious, clever’. But if you go back to the word ‘thank’ you discover that

thanks (n.)

“mid-13c., plural of thank (n.), from Old English þancþonc in its secondary sense “grateful thought, gratitude,” from Proto-Germanic *thanka-, from the same root as thank (v.). In prehistoric times the Germanic noun seems to have expanded from “a thinking of, a remembering” to also mean “remember fondly, think of with gratitude.” Compare Old Saxon thank, Old Frisian thank, Old Norse þökk, Dutch dank, German Dank. The Old English noun chiefly meant “thought, reflection, sentiment; mind, will, purpose,” also “grace, mercy, pardon; pleasure, satisfaction.”

And in all of that ramble lies the key.

The Bible was translated from Hebrew and Greek into English by a fellow called Tyndale in 1536 when we were still in the Early Modern English period. The word ‘grateful’ had not even become a part of the English language yet. About a hundred years too early and we all know enough examples of how language changes so fast in a century. So, Mr. Tyndale used the word he did have, which was ‘ thankful’.

The root meanings of the two words, ‘grateful’ and ‘ thankful’ are quite similar. They often appear as synonyms for each other. Of course, we must not forget that language is a continually evolving thing so a slight difference in meaning is expected, … they did have different ‘mothers’, after all.

So, what have I done?

Turns out I’ve done nothing at all… except, perhaps, follow my natural inclinations. “Grateful’ is more feeling connected, whereas, ‘ thankful’ is more thought connected. And although I do like a good think, at the heart of me I’m a much more feeling/ intuitive type. So ‘The Grateful Artist’ it shall continue to be.

Thanks 🙂

Grateful vs Thankful

Last week we discussed the meaning of the word ‘grateful’… an emotion expressing appreciation.

Oh! So it’s a feeling. Haha… I like that. I do feelings so I should be good at this. 🙂

I wonder if it is the same as ‘thankful’?

‘Thankful’ is an adjective (describing word) and means, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, ‘Conscious of benefit received’.

‘thankfulness’ is the noun (naming word)

‘Thank’ is the verb (doing word)

Sorry… too many years homeschooling and now I find word studies fascinating.

If ‘grateful’ is an emotion or feeling, and ‘thankful’ is a conscious thought, then I see that I can be thankful without feeling anything. If these conscious thoughts of thankfulness multiply and continue perhaps one could expect that emotions would eventually kick in as well?

But can I be ‘grateful’ without being ‘thankful’? ie., have the emotion without the conscious thought?

We’ve had a lot of fun thinking this one through this week. It’s like a mental game of Twister.

What do you think? Pop your thoughts in the comments.

And while you are pondering that fine line, here’s this week’s grateful drawings. Enjoy!

The Art of Being Grateful

This thing called ‘grateful’ that I am trying to be, what is it?

I need a clear goal to know where to aim and to be sure of hitting the mark.

The dictionary is a good place to start. A definition. A meaning.

“warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful: I am grateful to you for your help. expressing or actuated by gratitude: a grateful letter. pleasing to the mind or senses; agreeable or welcome; refreshing: a grateful breeze.” -www.dictionary.com

It’s an adjective… a describing word.

According to Psychology Today, Gratitude is an emotion expressing an appreciation for what one has, as opposed to what one wants, . Furthermore, Harvard Medical School offers that gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what one receives – tangible or intangible – as they acknowledge the goodness in their lives.

This feeling is one of positivity: the practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude. Making choices to focus on the good. See the cup as half full instead of half empty. When I first decided to start drawing the things I was grateful for back in April 2009, I honestly struggled. Some days were not so hard but others… wow, they tested me! There were times I was being such a ‘lovable Eeyore’ that I had to ask hubby for some help. But over time I began to see changes. One grateful list at a time, Drawing one of the things on that list each day. and bit by bit I’ve seen major mindset shifts.

For that I am overwhelmingly grateful.

But the journey is nowhere near over! I may be much better than I used to be but I’ve realised this is a conscious life choice I need to be making on the daily.

I’ve had this idea rolling around in my head now for awhile to combine my grateful drawings with some thoughts on the art of being grateful. What do you think? Would you be interested in pondering these things with me? I hope so.

And to that end, here’s my first week of drawings for 2021. Enjoy!

Lake Rotopounamu…finally!

Lake Rotopounamu

Latitude: 39.0260°S

Longitude: 175.7372°E

We’ve been trying for three weeks  to get here, but every week the weather is miserable or too many of us are occupied elsewhere. FINALLY, we have made it, and it did NOT disappoint.

Not only did we make it but we brought a few others along too…hubbies and mums keen to tag along. Great to make the party merrier. One took the kids and showed them how to find the perfect walking sticks. These sticks morphed at will by youthful imaginations…one minute a walking stick, the next a brandishing sword, the next a marching band baton…and all that transitioning at the flick of the wrist and executed with dramatic precision. It was impressive to watch 🙂

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Those walking sticks kept them going as we walked the 5kms around the lake edge. Fascinating how something so simple can capture the imagination and keep boredom away. Of course, we stopped a couple of times for drawing purposes and then those walking sticks became wading poles as they ventured out in their “waterproof gumboots” (makes me wonder if there was another kind at home  that they had had adventures with 🙂 ) and then before we knew it we were back at the carpark with everyone feeling like they had had a good blow-out, hungry for lunch, some appreciation for nature filling our souls and a couple of good sketches in our artbooks.

Lake Rotopounamu, finally we walked you and enjoyed your beauty. What a great backyard we have!

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Beautiful Bluster

Waitetoko

Latitude:-38.8982

Longitude: 175.9202

She’s lived here 40 years so I guess she should know. “It’s not often like this. Got to have just the right wind direction to get these waves. Doesn’t it feel like we are at the sea?”

I had to agree. Windy. Boisterous. Waves crashing over the rocks on the point. Cormorants on the pier gripping tight with their toes. Nature’s palette  almost 50 shades of gray. My dogs bounding around like half-crazed wild things…why do animals and kids go crazy in the wind?

That wind was going right through us and so the offer of a warm fire, freshly baked scones…with homemade peach jam, no less,… and a hot cup of tea was too good to pass up. How wonderful to have one of our own living here in Waitetoko…today’s destination  for #360in365.

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We followed her down a dirt road lined with bush and then…voila…we were stripping off jackets and sipping hot tea. A potter’s home is a wonderful place to sketch in. Every nook had another vista of cute little objects. 40 years of accumulated magic and we were all in heaven.

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Every window was a view of paddocks, cows and lovely Autumn coloured trees. Paperwhites nodding delicately throughout the garden. Little sheds and cute-to-draw fences dotted about.  So many wonderful new things to paint and indulge in so that before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head back to reality. Darn! I could have painted the entire day away!

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Thank you, Chris, for a lovely warm haven to wile away a morning in painted bliss.

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The rain had stopped so I got a quick sketch done of the lakefront as we left. Watercolour was added later as my painting buddies deemed it too cold  to sit around out there. Where’s their sense of adventure amidst this beautiful bluster?