“For This is Grace…”

Learning that our suffering is often not of our own,  but through the indwelling Christ, can help us see what grace is.

Paul said he rejoiced in his sufferings for the sake of the body.

And Peter said:

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It is definitely out of Him, through Him and to Him, for Him. It can definitely be His sufferings that may become part of our experience.

It is more easily remembered in the daylight than in the dark… yet, by grace, we can sometimes recognize it after, sometimes long after.

Christ cried out on the cross to His Father, “Why have you forsaken Me?” It was dark. “Doing good and suffering” He endured the cross, despising the shame –  yet recognizing the joy set before Him…. Still, He forgot the Father’s loving attentiveness to Him. Pain sometimes does that, I think.

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It is Finished – 24″x 48″ – Oil

“Into this you were called… follow in His footsteps.” Only He can follow in His footsteps, in us. At least in my case, when I “try”, I fail. He is our Life. We live by His grace.

We have “been turned” to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls, through His grace.

I would personally qualify in the category of, “For of what credit is it if sinning and being buffeted (for it), you endure it?” But God was merciful. Christ died for me.

I saw a footnote, regarding “In His welts we were healed.” I wanted to share it: “The healing of death. We were dead (Eph. 2:1), but Christ’s suffering of death healed our death that we may live in His resurrection.” Amen. Praise the Lord Jesus. His grace is sufficient.

The top photo is part of my Bible study in 1 Peter. It is a very rich study, in which I am now entering 1 Peter chapter 3. I read in a book called, “Revolutionary Bible Study” by G. Edwards, that Peter wrote this letter to the believers in cities in which Paul had taught, during the dispersion of Jewish believers from Jerusalem, during Roman rule, while Paul was in prison in Rome, awaiting execution under Nero. I thought about the circumstances regarding Jews coming into Gentile churches, as well as the societal conditions under Nero, and his persecution of the Christians.

Leapin’ & Hoppin’

While studying in 1 Peter this morning, I spent some time in the phrase “you are exulting in joy unspeakable and glorified”. The entire verse is wonderful, and I was captured with the Greek words translated into “exult”.

I love this. The word “exulting” is derived from “VERY-MUCH-LEAPING”. Haa, such joy one cannot contain oneself, and begins leaping, hopping, and like the lame man made well, praising God.

I’ve seen some people exulting, very few with “VERY-MUCH-LEAPING”, although I have seen some children, and lots of animals doing so. Dogs get very happy when their owners  come home. Squirrels, rabbits, goats and others play happily, leaping and hopping. So do calves.

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“Leapin’ & Hoppin’ ” – 30″x 15″ – Oil

These calves had been separated into a pen apart from their mothers, and being released to go their way, were filled with happiness and leaped and joyed in their freedom.

 

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Front Cover of “Everybunny Praise the Lord!” available at amazon.com

While watching rabbits interact with each other and with their surroundings, I was inspired in this book to portray, for smaller children, the joy of creation and praise of the Creator of all. Leapin’ and Hoppin’ indeed. Exulting in the Highest. Bunnies, birds, bees and even trees, praise God, exulting in His goodness.

And, according to God’s Word through Peter, the out-called chosen ones –  we exult in Jesus, in trials and testings, even when we cannot see or perceive Him through our sufferings. We believe, we exult in Him, in His unspeakable and glorified joy, in us, receiving the consummation of our belief – the salvation of our souls. I, personally, have not found myself leapin’ and hoppin’ over much during times of sufferings, but I do, by grace, believe Him.

It was fun to think about today.

Bring On the Cowboys

I have truly been inspired by “Cowboys for Trump”, their value of human life, their respect for the office of the presidency, their love for our America and their willingness to spend time and resources to support the cause they believe in. And the open declaration that God is the reason for all things…

But then, they are of an inspiring kind of folk, living a ways from town, working in the wide open without the “noise”. They care for the land and animals out of the same pool of respect that brings them to tears at the American flag passing by, and place their hats over their hearts during prayer.

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“Bring On the Boys” – 28″x 22″ – Oil

The cowboys I have met, call women, “Ma’am”, dress up to go to town or over to dinner, and come help each other out when needed for branding time or trouble.

I love painting cowboys. They were an iconic figure to me, an outstanding part of America’s heritage and history. I had wanted to know what they are about, having never been around too many cowboys before this time.

They taught me not to walk behind the horses (I was that green, having only ridden rental horses twice, and both horses knew how to get me off their saddles!); and how not to spook the cattle. I learned how they work together every way they could to get the job done. It was amazing to see only a few men move hundreds of cattle across vast spaces of land, herding them to the desired waterhole and corrals.

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“The Cow Whisperer” – 30″x 20″ – Oil

I saw them try to limit the separation time of the mama cows from their calves, make the necessary treatment as pain-free as possible to meet legal standards, employ masterful skills with ropes, horses and other “tools of the trade”. I am honored to have been invited several times to witness the different times of the year of working – rounding up the calves, branding, vaccinating, and marketing and other work that makes the ranch run smoothly.

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Branding On the Moon – 60″x 48″ – Oil

So, when you see these cowboys leaving their ranches, their work, their homes and families to support their cause, you know it is a valuable and just, necessary cause.

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Cowboys in Tandem – 60″x 48″ – Oil

 

Pelicans

Art is so extremely subjective, that bringing someone you don’t know much about a painting sight-unseen can be “risky business”.  Choosing one out of my collection that is of that person’s local environment seemed to be a safer course, as this would be a gift.

A family lost everything they had in a house fire, and I really wanted to help in any small way to restore their abode. In my life, books and art are at the forefront of activities and interest, so that is what I brought for them to sort through and choose from.

I was really blessed when the woman looked at the painting of pelicans and declared that would be perfect for her husband, because he loves the birds.

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“Morning Throw Bill” – 20″ x 30″ – Oil ©Bohlender

I enjoyed the pelicans along the gulf coast, their communal living and primeval appearance. Their fishing was exciting to watch, as they dive and catch.

Other pelican pieces painted include these two:

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“Lovely To See You Again” – 22″ x 28″ – Oil ©Bohlender

“Lovely to See You Again” was donated to an Air Force fund raising effort. I do not know who owns this piece, but I loved the “comedy” in their communion.

 

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“Friendly Gossip” – 16″x 16″ – Oil ©Bohlender

The comfortable fold of their webbed feet, the apparent interest of the one who is listening to the one joyfully divulging its treasured bit of juicy news.

This piece is a permanent part of my own collection.

 

San Antonio Sunshine

We went on a road trip recently, joining I-10 from El Paso, Texas all the way out to Alabama.

We drove as far as Ft. Stockton the first day. There we learned that there is a booming oil business happening, with “drilling going on all over the place”, and they just could not find enough help. There were plenty of new hotels there in Ft. Stockton, at a little higher than normal prices because of the demand.

Our goal was to make it to San Antonio the second day, without too strained of an effort.

It was cold, windy and overcast the three days we were there. It was cold, windy, raining and overcast the entire week I was there not too long ago. It was a little disappointing, but I did get to watch TV, which I don’t do all that often.

San Antonio is growing rapidly, with new housing going up everywhere. The city has two loops around it, and is said to be the 7th largest city in the USA now. I truly love the older part of San Antonio. I love the River Walk and the missions. I used to enjoy the Greenhouse Gallery, but they sold it years back and it is not there anymore.

This post is more about the memories of the sunshine, though I do plan a series of watercolors using the West Texas hill country, fog, scrubby trees projecting out of the fog, and ravens. In my mind, it seems Edgar Allen Poe-ish. But on to the sunshine.

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All God’s Creatures – 30″x 20″ – Oil

“All God’s Creatures” is one of my favorites, but it is a little busy for some people’s living rooms. I love the color and movement in this painting. I was impressed with three different cultures of people all forgetting everything and enjoying the family of ducks going by. They became happy, stopping to look, even glancing at each other occasionally with brief smiles. Sometimes we forget to look at other people, staying in our own world, but animals and babies seem to be a “protection umbrella” under which we feel safe enough to acknowledge other human beings. It was a sunny day at the River Walk.

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“Hot Dog” – About 24″x 18″ image area – Watercolor

Down toward the Alamo, there was a hot dog stand under the bright and happy umbrella. I was amused by the baggy drawers on the young man, and the man observing him cynically. Now in my cruder language, if someone is doing fancy deeds, showing off  or doing silly things, I might refer to them as a “hot dog”. So I thought this young man might be doing “silly things”. He is actually the Hot Dog, but the Hot Dog Stand deserved to be equally honored.

I love the lighting at the Hot Dog stand, the shadows – equally in All God’s Creatures. The sun was warm, then, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

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“Lady in Red” – about 10″x 16″ image area – Watercolor

So much goes on at the River Walk, people moving happily about, light and shadows, lots of color… even purple table cloths. Pigeons sometimes land on tables to clean up left-overs, but I didn’t notice any at this place. What I did notice was this graceful woman in a red dress. She may have been a hostess, or just there breathing, and I found her enchanting. She stood out in many ways besides the color of her dress, but her grace affected me.

This was a happy one to paint, layers and layers of light and color, a lot of activity and varying lines. And the lady in red.

So there truly are sunny days in San Antonio, they just didn’t happen this time through. I will make it to these wonderful places again, in the sunshine.

I loved painting some of the missions as well, the light and shadows, lines and textures. But that is for another time.

This painting is in a private collection in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

 

Faraway, Yet Near

Near the entrance to the amazing Chiricahua National Monument, is the original homestead of the Riggs family, called “Faraway Ranch”. The family settled there and then founded “The Wonderland of Rocks”, later becoming  “The Chiricahua National Monument”.

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Entrance to Faraway Ranch – 24″x 20″ – Oil – (Photo from older photograph, maybe early 2000. I do not remember where this original painting is now – nor the title ).

It is a beautiful walk into the ranch area, you feel yourself coming home in a way… it warms you as you come closer to pass by the old buildings past the fence, on the trail that leads to the main house.

There was something really odd while I was there one day, walking back from the house toward the old buildings. I do not know what the buildings were… work sheds, out-buildings maybe. But I thought for sure there were chickens there at one time.

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Wooden Fence at Faraway – about 20″x 14″ – Watercolor

I loved the pathway that passed this fence, and the light through the trees… the calm light gracing everything. It was peaceful. Yet, for just a moment I thought a woman walked by me with a basket of eggs in her hand, walking on this pathway. But there was no one there.

Everywhere there was evidence of lives lived, hearts given, times gone by.

Maybe that’s why these paintings came to mind this new year. Yesterday I read of someone else’s experience of his life lived, of the memories now being longer than the time remaining, of the “owning” of our own imminent bodily death. But then, “And then I lift my head and look about me at the river and the valley, the great, unearned beauty of this place, and I feel the memoryless joy of a man just risen from the grave..”

The memoryless joy of a man just risen from the grave…. a new creation, in resurrection life. Gone is the old and the new is here. Jesus said He is making all things new. All things. Not only now, in this life and the ages to come for those who believe, but all things.

Our time on this earth may be a shadow, or passing wind, but in Him is Life… His Life never ends. His Being IS, WILL BE, WAS…. of His kingdom there is no end.

So here, I look about me at…the great, unearned beauty of this place, and feel joy. I am grateful for this life/time that remains on earth, until we go home.

It really is a gift.

 

A Friend

The “random” setting on my screensaver brings memories and works to mind. Today my friend Tom went by, and my heart was happy to remember him.

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I can’t remember the exact size, but it must have been 12″x 16″ or so, in oil. I hope I named it “My Friend Tom Tom”. That’s what I’ll call it today. He usually doesn’t wear a watermark across his neck, that it there to stop people from making posters and mugs of things that isn’t of their own creating. So, I apologize for that distraction.

Tom, himself, is wonderful, a kind and determined man.

I don’t think he’s mind me telling you that the sign on his office wall read, “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!” He magnified the things he could work with, and suffered the things he suffered with equal grace and determination.

He ran a coffee shop, which in its day, was the best. He said he liked to “create experiences” when he made your coffee or whatever was your delight.  He also had hair, but at this point in time, he didn’t. I thought he was feisty and nice looking.

We moved away and I no longer hang my work in his shop or see Tom, but I think of him occasionally, when I drink coffee, or look at the cabinet he traded me that I now use for art supply storage. Lovely. He is no less my friend just because I do not see him.

The painting itself is one of my favorites that I’ve done. I didn’t struggle with it then, but now I wonder how I painted it. He owns the painting, and last I saw, it was hanging in his shop.

I praise God for Tom Tom.