12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

ancestor worship

My painting, Ancestor Worship.

Today marks the beginning of the 12 days of Christmas which symbolizes the wise men’s journey from the east to Bethlehem. The wise men brought their lavish gifts to the Christ child. Their journey is all about drawing closer to Christ.

This is a good time to reflect during this “Selah” moment between Christmas and the New Year. I am taking an artist retreat in a few days for this reason.

I am not talking about New Year’s resolutions. What are the weights and the one thing that keeps you from moving forward?

I did this surrealistic painting above called “Ancestor Worship.” The young woman in the painting ponders her future. Nearby two African masks representing her ancestors hoover in the clouds.

The painting is inspired by Hebrews 12:1:” We have all these “cloud of witnesses” around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall.”

Selah.

SEARCHING FOR JESUS

Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Fort Myers Beach, Florida

We all want to take the easiest and quickest route. I got on MapQuest to search for the quickest route to Fort Myers Beach. I save a step and a dime searching Kayak.  We are accustomed to using short cuts. We sometimes use short cuts when searching for God.

I was thinking of the wise men and wondering why they went to Jerusalem when God had revealed to them the Messianic star.

“Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him?” the wise men asked King Herod. Perhaps they were following protocol or looking for a short cut. The wise men certainly thought the ruler would be able to help them. With their heads in the sky, they left Jerusalem following the same star that had lead them before they met King Herod! What a waste of time.

Their trip to Herod only aroused his suspicions. They became his enemy when he realized they were not returning with the requested information.

Short cuts don’t always work out and can be to our detriment. I surfed the TV channels in vain looking for any sign of Jesus in the midst of Christmas movies. I found instead Kohl’s ads and The Polar Express movie. Although I say I hate wasting time, I wasted a few hours watching a movie. Still no Jesus!

So I picked up my bible and found the baby in the manger in Luke 2. We look for Jesus in all the wrong places. Even when we get off track, God is waiting to guide us as He did the wise men.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

MY GROWN UP CHRISTMAS LIST

I did my painting "Bonds," after my father's death.

I did my painting “Bonds,” after my father’s death. It symbolizes my relationship with my father. I loved my father who was far from perfect. Love covers a multitude of sins.

I got an early gift from my grown up Christmas list. After many years, two family members are now in the process of reconciling with one another. While I was rejoicing over that, I thought of a family member who at odds with me. Of course, I was in the right. That is always our excuse. Sadly, unforgiveness is common among families. Behind all the Christmas joy, cards, gifts, and carols, a note of bitterness rings.

I wish that we grown ups would not carry the hurts of childhood into our adulthood. It only stunts our spiritual growth and hinders emotional stability.

Parents are imperfect people. Why hold grudges against people who maybe dead and in most cases meant no harm. How about siblings who no longer speak to one another carrying childhood hurts into the present?

Even if the harm was intentional there’s no benefit in being angry with someone who has moved on to other things while you linger in the past. Whether the offender is dead or alive it doesn’t matter, moving forward requires forgiveness.

I am glad Christmas comes before the New Year. Christmas offers us a new start and we can give others a new start just before the New Year begins.

Christmas also gives us a fresh chance to be more God-centered and less self-centered if we focus on the child in the manger. Christmas by its very nature is the essence of forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness means giving up our rights. That’s what Jesus did.

So, I made amends with my family member. As the say goes: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

ARTISTS BUILDING COMMUNITY

Artist Andrea Robbin's toddler's Arts and Literacy class explores different artistic techniques.

Artist Andrea Robbin’s toddler’s Arts and Literacy class explores different artistic techniques.

The Bass Museum at Miami Beach is tapping into one of the community’s greatest resources…the talent of artists.

At the museum’s “Creativity in the Community” event, artists got a chance to exhibit their talents along with the artwork of local families.

It was a day of celebration for the families who participated in the Arts and Literacy program.

The program consists of a featured book each week and an art project based on the book. Each child received a free book. The goal of the program is to strengthen families by teaching parents literacy and creativity skills.

The program book “Welcome to My Neighborhood” by Quiara Alegria Hudes and the week’s art project were definitely vehicles for promoting community pride. Children proudly discussed their neighborhoods and completed a neighborhood collage using the techniques of Romare Bearden.

I am an Art AmBASSador and a believer in artists as social advocates for community good. As part of the “Creativity in the Community” event I did caricatures for children. The program also included live music, A Congo parade, and food. The Bass provided free transportation to the museum for the families from various program community sites.

The winter session of the Arts and Literacy program begins in January.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING

“A romantic stroll on the beach is one thing. However, my painting “Beach Erosion,’ is a stroll into my mind and heart.” I was thinking about my quote and how romantic relationships can often make or break a Christmas if you let them.

Christmas songs promise a “perfect ending to a perfect day” setting us up with high expectations. One of my favorite songs is “Merry Christmas Darling” by the Carpenters. It’s full of sentiment and longing. There is also a note of sadness in this song as well.

BEACH EROSION

My painting Beach Erosion

It reminds me of the turbulent emotions I felt when I did my painting “Beach Erosion.” It was my first venture into surrealism. I call it a hard and poignant look at love because of the meaning behind the painting. The ethereal pastel painting features dreamlike images juxtaposed with various symbols.

I wrote the following poem to accompany the painting:

I don’t get it.

they say the same process

that once created beaches

now destroys them.

likewise it is said that the same force

that often brings people together

frequently pulls them apart.

 

gradual movements, tectonic shifts.

changed perspectives.

what once bought pleasure

dissipates into pain.

 

Merry Christmas Darling! Happy New Year, too!

CHRISTMAS BREAK

Enjoying a Christmas break with my grandson at the Florida Citrus Model Train Show.

Enjoying a Christmas break with my grandson at the Florida Citrus Model Train Society Show. My favorite display was this Art Deco model of Mel’s Diner.

Yesterday I took a break from blogging. It’s kind of hard to blog when your heart is not in it. Yesterday, I learned a close friend had been in the hospital. Thank God she is now discharged. In addition to that, a family member is in hospice. Not to mention family members who are at odds with each other.

In spite this, I sang Christmas carols while I shopped and listened to a Christmas CD in the car.

I got great Christmas deals. Having less money forced me to get what people really needed and not what made me feel good.

I love this display of McDonald's too!

I love this display of McDonald’s too!

Today, I made up my Christmas card list. I texted and called a few people I hadn’t heard from in a while. I went to the Florida Citrus Model Train Society Show.

The Christ child came in the midst of human suffering. Perhaps that is the message of Christmas.

NORDSTROM’S CHECKING YOUR LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE

Like the “Jolly Old Elf”, each year I make a list. Throughout the year, I track my decisions to make sure they line up with my stated goals. There’s no coal for me if there are more “yays than nays”!

Tracking is also a tool marketers use to measure their success. Surveys are the most common tool. They are often used after the shopping experience.

Retailers want to shape your shopping habits not just measure them. Now your smart phone is also one of the tracking tools marketers use. When you log into a store’s complimentary Wi-Fi, retailers like Nordstrom track the store counters and departments you go to for their marketing data.

Shopping for teddy bear.

Christmas shopping in 2014. Next year the smart shelf will change the nature of shopping.

The smart shelf is another technology being developed to monitor consumer’s shopping habits. Sensors on the shelves will gauge a person’s gender and approximate age to compile data. An “ad” will pop up on the smart phone with a coupon for various items based on the data.

No more mystery shopping!