Be faithful in prayer…

This week, as I was working on the Valley of Shadow piece, I kept finding my praying interrupted by thoughts of “I’ve already prayed all of this.  I can’t think of anything more to pray!” and feelings of frustration and despair.

Painting Assistant by Carmen CS
Painting Assistant, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

I sought advice from my beloved sister in Christ Rheba.  She reminded me that it is OK to pray the same prayer over and over.  I realized that is what prayer should be – not a fleeting thought but a dedicated repetition, a focussing of the spirit on the goal, whether that be celebration of God, thanksgiving for blessings, or requests.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Rom. 12:12


Valley of Shadow – Canvas Ready to Paint

As you can see, the high contrast design is much easier to make out behind the canvas.  Now we’re ready to move on to preparing some paints.

Valley of Shadow - Ready to Paint by Carmen CS
Valley of Shadow – Ready to Paint, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

Dreaming is a core part…

“Dreaming is a core part of who we are. True, not all dreams come from God and not all of them are his will for our lives, but the capacity to use our imaginations, to have visions, to nurture desires is inherent in who he has created us to be.”
From my morning readings in “You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream”, by Holley Gerth.
a70/365 by daisee
70/365, a photo by daisee on Flickr.  Used under Creative Commons Attribution License.
I believe that it is part of our being created Children of God, in His image, that we can create.  And creation requires imagination, requires us to dream.  This is part of how we’re made, and I believe essential to how we are meant to live.  Embrace you creativity, your dreams, your passions!

Valley of Shadow – Design in High Contrast

So I make what I call a high-contrast version of the design.  This makes it easy to identify the different areas of color in the design. While it looks odd, it makes the process of painting the canvas much easier.

Valley of Shadow Design in High Contrast by Carmen CS
Valley of Shadow Design in High Contrast, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

God regards not the greatness…

“… the littleness of the work lessened not one whit the value of the offering, for God regards not the greatness of the work, but the love which prompts it.”

From my morning readings in “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence

Church Window Part One by Simon & His Camera
Church Window Part One, a photo by Simon & His Camera on Flickr.


What I like about this quote is the emphasis on our love.  Everything we do with our love for God is important, and  God values it.  We never need think “this is too trivial.”  Every little thing matters, and lots of little things can matter more than one big one.

Valley of Shadow – Magnetic!

You might be wondering what the little grey squares on the canvas are.  They are rare earth magnets; small but quite powerful magnets used by needle pointers to hold their needles.  One on each side of the canvas holds gently but firmly, preventing the canvas distortion that we used to get from sticking our needles through the canvas.

I tried taping my design to the back of the canvas, but the magnets work better.  It’s easier to make small adjustments to  the design’s position.  This is necessary because no matter how carefully I make the design up, it never perfectly fits the point size of the canvas.  Thus I need to shift the design round as I paint different areas.

Rare earth magnets are stronger than ordinary magnets, and very light!  Ordinary magnets have trouble holding through any thickness of material; these rare earth magnets even hold through my 9-year-old niece’s fingers!

Magnetic! by Carmen CS
Magnetic!, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

The work that we love done God’s way…

“… the work that we love done with zest and care, but done God’s way not ours, at His pace not ours, for His glory not ours, and laid down without reluctance, as the movement of the Will demands. Also the drudgery that we do not love done too, because that is His will and not ours.”

From my morning readings in “Abba” by Evelyn Underhill.

The Secret Room, Deep in the Abbey by Stuck in Customs
The Secret Room, Deep in the Abbey, a photo by Stuck in Customs on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Attribution License.

This reminds me that my NeedlePrayer work, which I love, is done for God’s glory, and must be done according to His will, and in service of Him and His people and His plan. Also, no craft or service is free of drudgery, and I can to do that cheerfully as well, as an essential part of my work.

A Great Audiobook for NeedlePrayer

I love listening to uplifting music or audiobooks while doing NeedlePrayer.  Well-chosen listening helps me focus, and can even bring to my attention prayer requests I have lost track of.

Of the audiobooks I use, far and away the best so far is “The Lord is My Shepherd – the Healing Wisdom of the 23rd Psalm” by Harold S. Kushner.  It addresses issues that must come to a thinking person’s mind in the face of tragedy, with a God-centered approach which is truly comforting while not icing over the pain.  I often send a copy of the book as well when I deliver a finished piece.  If you haven’t read it, I can’t recommend it enough.


41EIxvLs3rL._SL175_ by Carmen CSThe Lord Is My Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm Audiobook | Harold Kushner |

Do any of you know of other audiobooks I might like?

Valley of Shadow – Seeing Design Details Through the Canvas

The only problem is that the overlay of the canvas makes it very hard to make out slight differences in the colors of the design.  If you have large contrasts between colors there’s no problem, but this kind of naturalistic design depends on subtle shading for its effect.  There are more than 20 shades present in this design, and it is very nearly impossible to differentiate more than a dozen using the current printout.

Hard to See Design Colors by Carmen CS
Hard to See Design Colors, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

About service not selfishness…

“But if you have yielded to God and you have this nagging desire within you that just won’t go away, then most likely it’s from him.  And if it is, then he has a way that you can live it out that isn’t about selfishness but instead is about service.”

From my morning readings in “You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream”, by Holley Gerth.

Van Fleet Rose by Carmen CS

Van Fleet Rose, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.  Used under Creative Commons Attribution License.

We need to be careful to do God’s will, not our will and desire.  But often he has made us for our dream, and so it is delightful to us.  The trick is to see how our desires serve his will and his people, vs. how they can be twisted into selfishness.  I serve joyfully with my God-given talents and skills.