Sunday, March 26, 2017

I Can Do All Things . . . with some help

If you have ever tried to create a website, and are a newbie like me, you will understand why I want to celebrate. After two weeks of pulling my hair out, I finished it. At least it’s functional…could use some fancy improvements, but for now I’m happy.

On my not-new-enough laptop, the program for creating the website was so glitchy. Sometimes I could swear the screen had hiccups. It often cooperated like a two year old in the middle of a temper tantrum. Whenever I tried to drag words, they went too far one way then too far the other way…until I screamed for my son to help. In ten seconds, Elijah typed some numbers and moved my words exactly where I wanted them. My thirteen year-old daughter helped with the slide show of my illustrations. I had pictures disappear then reappear and sometimes hide behind an invisible wall. Just when I thought I got rid of an extra picture, the crazy wall would open and let the twin drawings say hello. Thank God for computer savvy kids.

A scripture comes to mind: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 Creating a website may not be seem like a big deal to most—I realize this is not finding a cure for a disease or helping the environment—but it was a goal I set, something I wanted to accomplish without a clue of how to get it done. I like goals, and it’s okay to ask for help. And when those larger problems arise, the problems that seem impossible to overcome, the Lord wants us to know He is there to give us the help we need. He is world savvy.
So now I have a website.  Frances Judge / Inspirational Author & Illustrator

Now what? Try skydiving? Climb Mount Everest? Maybe I'll write with God's help.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Just A Line

Drawing by my son, Elijah Judge

I had plans to become a famous artist. If I didn’t achieve instant recognition, I would teach at Harvard University until galleries began requesting my paintings. But here I am…after four years of art school, I stand on an alphabet rug and attempt to gain the attention of fifteen pairs of eyes. 

Instead of demonstrating the importance of the subtle variations in line thickness as the artist feels the edge of his subject through his medium, whether charcoal or paintbrush, I draw a line with chalk. “Can anyone tell me what I drew?” 

Many hands wiggle in the air, so I call on the last hand raised, belonging to Anniah with large eyes and braids to her waist. “It looks like my shoelace before my mommy ties it into a bow.” 

I need to change the subject before tears well as the class misses mom and wants to go home. “Well, it could be a shoelace. Does anyone else have an idea?” 

I point to Liam who bounces on his seat. “Is it silly string?” 

“Could be. Let’s start at the beginning and call this a line. Everything begins with a line. With a line we can form shapes…and with shapes we can form objects we see or something we imagine.” 

“What’s imujin?” 

“You imagine all the time. Does anyone like to build with Legos?”  

“Me! Me! I do!”  

“When you first get your box of Legos, you probably follow the directions to build the car on the box, but what do you do when it falls apart?” 

“I throw the pieces.” 

“Okay. That might hurt someone. Maybe you can build something else that you imagine. A spaceship or a monster.” 

I hand out the favorite medium for kindergarteners—crayons. “First draw a straight line. Then draw a squiggly line that looks like it’s dancing. Next draw an angry line. Now take your favorite color and draw a happy line.” As I suggest ideas, I stroll around the tables admiring the abstract designs they’ve created. My heart smiles. 

Ryan looks up at me and says, “Look…I made music with my lines. It’s Mozart.”  

“Are you sure you’re only five-years-old?”

When they appear to drift into thoughts of playtime and lunch, I call them to the front of the classroom. “Does anyone want to draw outside?” 

“Me! Me! Me!” 

I hand each student a clipboard with paper and a pencil, and we march outside. Two by two. “I’d like everyone to draw the lines they see around this courtyard. Some lines will be straight. Others will be bumpy.” 

It’s refreshing to hear birds singing and smell lilacs and fresh cut grass. I feel like starting a painting after school. The children are quiet as they scratch away at their paper. Maybe a few in the class will blossom into future artists.  

At the end of the class, the students hand me their paper and pencils. Anniah turns back to me and says, “You are the best teacher in the world!” She hugs me and skips out the door with the rest of the class. 

I remember praying that God would guide my future. Of course I meant future as an artist. He had a better plan for me.  Even though I won’t be teaching advanced courses here. I never had so much fun with a line.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Words for the Weary

Our very tired guard dog

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 NIV

“Let us not become weary in doing good.” But sometimes I don’t even feel like being nice. Forget doing good! I’m tired. Irritable. Overwhelmed…in an Oscar the Grouch mood. All I want to do is hide from the dishes and dust that pile up while I work full-time. Is there any time left in my day to do good? God knows how hard it is for us to combat these emotions—He must, because he reminds us to persevere many times in His word. And He says He will help us.

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. Psalm 54:4, NIV.

Our little Yorkie runs around yapping most of the morning as she barks at neighbors who dare to walk their dogs. Usually she is able to leap up on our bed, but after a morning of playing guard dog, she will look up at me with pleading eyes, begging for some help with the jump. Of course I help her. Even if she gave me a headache barking for an hour, I love her and will help in her time of need. God loves us and will help us to overcome the obstacles that seem like mountains when we are tired. I can do good in His strength. I can have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in His strength.

God wants strong children. I want strong children and hate to see them sitting for hours hugging their phones. If they don’t use their muscles, they’ll become weak and unhealthy, prone to injury. See, there’s a reason I nag. I’m the mom who knows what will benefit my children if they are willing to listen. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but he wants us to continue to strive for a goal—to emulate our heavenly Father.

I admire the nurses and nurses’ aides at the nursing home where I work. They can’t grow weary in doing good; it’s their job to be kind and helpful. They are able to persist in kindness no matter how difficult the resident’s demands. This humble attitude takes the strong character God desires in us.

So the moral of my blog: bark less, love more, trust in God to renew our strength each day.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2.