Questions to Consider

As I was reading The Love of God by Oswald Chambers, I came across the following paragraph that made me pause and consider. 

 "If Jesus Christ were manifested now, would we be like Him? Or would we have a hundred and one things to do before we could be as He is? We have not been taking time to purify ourselves as He is pure because we have been restless and annoyed; we have imagined that we have things to do that no one can do but ourselves. It may be true, but immediately we think it, we lose out. There is only one lodestar to the saint, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have no business getting into circumstances God does not put us into. Faith means keeping absolutely right with God. He does all the rest. We are only what we are in the dark; all the rest is reputation. What God looks at is what we are in the dark--the imaginations of our minds; the thoughts of our heart; the habits of our bodies; these are the things that mark us in God's sight." (Excerpt from "The Love of God" by Oswald Chambers)

I strongly feel these are questions we, as Christians, need to ask ourselves. 

How am I in the dark?

Where do I let my mind and imagination take me?

What are the deep, inner thoughts of my heart?

What are the habits of my body?

And most importantly, What can I do to purify myself so I'll be more like Jesus? That's a tall order. It seems almost impossible but I must remind myself that all things are possible with God. 

 When things don't go as we like, do we accept the situation immediately, or do we indulge in feelings of regret that can easily spill over the line into resentment? I am reminded that I need to remember that God is sovereign over my circumstances and humble myself under His mighty hand. Instead of being resentful, I need to rejoice in what He is doing in my life, even though it is beyond my understanding. The ultimate challenge is to fix my eyes on God, no matter what is going on around me. 

 

Stop the Hate

Stop the Hate

Social media has the potential to reach hundreds, even thousands of deranged, angry minds.
We never know what one post might trigger in another individual. 
Yes, we have the freedom to express our opinion, 
But we also have a responsibility to be aware of the result that opinion may cause.
So, let's consider . . . 

Why feed the anger?
Anger kills.
Why spread slander?
It destroys.
Why speak hate?
Hate divides.

Hate and anger
Divide and destroy,
But . . . Love and kindness
Heals and restores.

Our heart is our garden.
We should guard it with all diligence.
The seeds we plant in our garden of life will grow.
They will produce fruit and we WILL reap what we plant.
 
What we post or share on social media
Reveals what is in our heart.
It exposes who we are.
It plants seeds . . . always!
Seeds that grow and produce fruit, good or bad.

Be careful of the seeds you plant.
You may not like reaping the fruit they produce.
Plant seeds of love and kindness
Instead of hate and anger.

Stop and think before sharing a post! Ask yourself . . . 
Does this post create a climate of hate?
Would I want someone to say THIS about ME? 
Would I want friends, family, or the world to BELIEVE THIS about ME? 
Do I REALLY want to plant THIS seed and reap the fruit of it? 

Then don't post it. 
Don't post things that promote hate
Or stir up anger.

Plant seeds of love.
Plant seeds of kindness.

Stop the hate.

 

© June 2017 Susan J. Harris

The Wind

I believe we are in a season of letting go.
Letting go of the old, so the new can come.
Letting go of expectations, so God can give us new ones.
Letting go of all that would hinder our moving forward in Him.
Letting go of everything that would tie us down, hold us back, or keep us bound to earthy things.

This year the wind has consistently blown stronger and more powerful than I can remember.
I like to believe it’s a manifestation of what is going on in the spirit realm.
The wind of His glory is blowing. It's symbolic of pruning; blowing out the old and making room for the new. 
It’s a demonstration of God’s power and control.

Lord, let Your wind blow!
Blow out sickness, disease and evil.
Blow in Your healing, restoration and redemption.
Blow in Your Word, Your grace, Your joy and Your love.
Let Your wind blow!

Tribute to My Dad

Please bear with me while I have a sentimental moment. This is a tribute to my Daddy. . .

Harvey B. Jeffries
Dec. 13, 1914 - Nov. 14, 2004

Poppy and Nana_Harvey and Aileen Jeffries.jpg

Today, December 13, 2015, would have been my Daddy's 101st birthday if he were still with us. I've been reminiscing about him and wanted to share some thoughts about the type of man he was. Although it has been 11 years since he moved on to his Heavenly home, I still remember and miss him every single day. I guess you could say he was one of my heroes in life.

He was an unassuming, quiet man who didn't require riches or great success to be happy. He was at peace, content to live a simple life and thankful for everything he had especially his family. He was rich and successful but his wealth and success were not based on worldly things or accolades, it came from his character, a life well lived and the relationships he had with family and friends.

He was a kind, sweet man who would give anyone the shirt off his back if they needed it. He always put others first and would help meet any need he could. He was a generous man. Whatever he had, he would freely share without hesitation.

He knew how to love unconditionally. He never met a stranger and showed love and acceptance to everyone. I never heard him say negative or bad things about others. He had a caring and accepting heart and always thought the best of others. He believed there was good in everyone.

He was a collector of "stuff" and loved to repurpose things. He never wanted to throw away or waste anything and was a creative craftsman who was able to take things others discarded and make something out of it. This is something I have seen both of my children do as well. 

He had so many neat little sayings which my sister, Jo, and I now refer to as "Harveyisms". For example. "People have more fun than anybody", “If you can’t make yourself at home, that’s where you ought to be”, “Eat every bean and pea on your plate.” "My get up and go got up and went"...just to name a few. I always loved hearing him share his little nuggets of humor and wisdom. 

He was not a highly educated man because he had to quit school at an early age to help support and take care of his siblings when his mother died. However, he was smart and very knowledgable. He loved to read newspapers, maps, phone books, etc. He could study a map or a phone book for hours on end and never get bored with it. He had a lot of common sense that served him well. I remember the first time we played the game Trivial Pursuit with family and friends. Everyone thought he would surely lose but he amazed them by answering every question correctly without hesitation. Needless to say, they were blown away by the wealth of knowledge he had. 

Aileen_Jo_Harvey Jeffries.jpg

I have so many fond memories of Daddy when I was growing up. Things like him pushing me around the yard in our wheelbarrow, watching him build a tree house in the Mimosa tree on Smith Street in Whiteville, helping him build a walkway at our beach house on Oak Island so we could get from the house to the road without stepping on the cacti in the yard, and sitting on his lap with his arms wrapped around me while we watched westerns together, especially Gunsmoke. Then there were the times he babysat so Mom could go to her bridge club. Those were some of my favorite nights. Often he would take my sister and me to the store (Roses) and let us play with all the toys while he did paperwork in the office. He didn't worry about bedtimes but he would take us to the store in our pajamas so we could stay as long as possible. Then he was always careful to sneak us in the door right before Mom returned home, telling us to run get in the bed, pretend we were asleep and not let her know how late we were up. It was our little secret. Those were such special times and memories.

He was a very patient and understanding man. I almost never saw him riled up and often wondered how he could remain so patient. A trait I am afraid I didn't inherit but wish I did. 

My Daddy taught me things by showing me how to do them. He taught me how to fish, crab, and dig for clams. He taught me how to drive a car, and maintain it... how to change a tire, change the oil, set the points and plugs, etc. He taught me all the ins and outs of dime store management... how to order and price merchandise, unload a freight truck, make signs, put together bicycles and tricycles, stock shelves, manage and clean the candy counter, measure and sell candy, cook the various types of nuts we sold, pop the popcorn, run the checkout, make change, and take inventory...the list goes on and on. And he taught me, by his example, how to interact with people. 

He always told me, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” And he was right. That is something I have tried to pass that on to my children because I believe it is true. I learned so many lessons from watching my Daddy live his life; lessons that cannot be learned from a book or in school. Most importantly, he taught me how to care and be thankful. He taught me how to love unconditionally. He was a gem in the crown of life. 

Daddy always took time for others...he was never so busy that he couldn't stop and chat, sit down and drink a cup of coffee with someone or just speak while passing. He always willingly gave out hugs, a smile, a kind word. He was a friend to all and had no enemies that I know of. 

He was quick to forgive and never held a grudge. He understood the importance of forgiveness and reaped the benefits of it. There was nothing anyone could do that he wouldn't forgive. For him, forgiveness was a way of life. He had a heart full of compassion and treated others the way he liked to be treated. 

He took life one day at a time. I don't ever remember seeing him in a hurry -- except, of course, the time he and my Uncle JP were shooting off fireworks and caught the field across the street on fire. He moved pretty fast that night, burning all the hair off his legs as he and JP proceeded to stomp out the fire.  :)

Here's one example of the type of man he was (and yes, you've may have heard me share this story before so forgive the repetition)... While working for him at Roses when I was in high school, I spotted a man shoplifting and ran up to the office to alert Dad. He immediately followed me downstairs. I pointed out the shoplifter and Daddy went over to talk to him. They were speaking in low tones so I couldn't hear what was being said. Then I watched as the man put the items he had taken (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant) back in his pocket and turned to leave; Dad smiled, patting the man on the shoulder. When he returned to where I was, he explained that the man had lost his job and was homeless. Daddy said he told the man to come back whenever he needed any necessities and get whatever he needed without fear of embarrassment or getting arrested. The example of generosity I saw that day made a major impact on me. I think it was at that point that I actually saw the Life of Jesus lived out through my Dad. The homeless man would occasionally return and go straight to Daddy instead of just helping himself. They would go together, get a bag and find what the man needed and Daddy would bag it for him then send him on his way. The man never took advantage of Dad's generosity. He was very appreciative and respectful. Of course, mind you, Daddy had no problem having a shoplifter arrested when they were stealing for the sake of stealing. He held honesty, truth and integrity in high regard and exemplified those traits in his life. 

I guess as I watched Daddy in his later years when he started pocketing American flags and pens at the retirement home, or paper placemats and peppermints at restaurants, I realized he must have felt he was entitled for the generosity he had shown while managing Roses....Or maybe that's just part of getting old. Hahaha!

When our two children, Jamie and Mark were born, Dad immediately fell in love with them. They were his pride and joy. He always wanted to show them off and spend time with them every chance he got. Whenever one of them walked in a room where he was, his face lit up. It thrilled my heart to watch him interact with them, always with a twinkle in his eyes. If he had only been younger when they were born, there would have had so many more wonderful memories and lessons they could have learned from him. I must admit it was a little sad that he was as old as he was when they arrived on the scene but the timing was God's plan and that's the way it was meant to be. It is my hope and prayer that Jamie and Mark will always remember their granddaddy, aka "Poppy" and that he loved both of them as much as life itself. Jamie and Mark have received so many of Daddy's good traits and it makes my heart sing to see part of him live on in their lives. They are his legacy!

Thanks for letting me reminisce. I hope I haven't bored you too much. My Daddy meant the world to me and I just wanted to share with you a few of the memories I have of him. 

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you and I miss you!

Summer of 2015

October 2015 Sunset

A summer to remember has ended and we are headed into Fall with temperatures dropping faster than usual for this time of year. Sure hope we get some more average Fall temps before winter sets in. 

I haven't had any time to be in my studio to create art this summer but sometimes there are more important things in life that take precedence over what we love to do. Loving, helping and caring for a family member or friend during a difficult and challenging season is one of those opportunities and one which I embrace to the best of my ability. It is another aspect of who I am as an artist and as a person. As I lay down my desire to paint and allow myself to be available for a loved one, I know in my heart that I will be rewarded with joy and there will be time to paint at a later date. So until then, I am making mental notes of creative ideas for new artwork.

My mother-in-law, Marjorie, fell in June and broke her hip. At age 94, this started a chain reaction of events that have required much time and energy but she is now settled into a Memory Care facility and I am happy to say she seems to have adjusted well to her new environment and made new friends. She is not aware where she is or what happened to her but she is happy and that is what matters most. It has been a difficult transition for the family but it has also been rewarding and a season full of blessings with gifts of love along the way. 

Besides seeing that Marjorie is properly cared for, my husband and I have also had the responsibility of getting her home ready to sell and feel we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As we cleaned out her house, I was acutely aware of all the "stuff" we, as humans, accumulate over the years. Stuff that once held precious memories, now has little or no meaning and has to be processed. In the end, it all winds up being donated or sold for pennies, way less than it's initial worth. Once the one who held the memories can no longer remember, things lose their value. Note to self: Quit accumulating and start cleaning out stuff so the children won't have so much to do when I'm gone. They'll have more than enough to handle with processing all these paintings I have sitting around my studio. (Smile!) Needless to say, it has been an eye opening, emotional rollercoaster of a summer. There have been so many changes, new responsibilities and adjustments which have required attention but we are very thankful it has gone as well as it has. 

It's interesting how the circumstances of life can consume your time and zap your creativity. Although I have missed being in my studio and painting, I am eternally grateful for the special times I have had with my mother-in-law over the past few months. They are priceless and have been and continue to be a gift -- memories I will carry in my heart forever -- and this season isn't over yet so I'm sure there are more memories to be made. I remain hopeful the energy will return and the creative juices will once again flow and I look forward to when I can get back in the studio. Until then, I am determined to enjoy this journey, the time we have left with Marjorie and soaking up all the memories possible.

I did manage to accomplish one thing this summer. I put prices on my website to make it easier for collectors to chose their favorite artwork. I invite you to take a moment, browse the gallery and let me know if there is anything you are interested in. I accept PayPal, personal or certified checks. And, of course, cash is always welcome for local purchases.