Digital Art: Caricatures

Every now and then I let all my people out as long as they promise to behave.

I created my caricatures from photos. I don’t like pictures of myself, but I love distorting them into something humorous.

Using PaintShop Pro 2019 Ultimate, I first erase the backgrounds from the photos. Then, using the Warp Brush I manipulate the facial features. When I’m satisfied with the character I wish to create, I use plugins and other special effects to give it the finishing touch.

Click on any picture to enlarge

Bookmarks: My Great-grandchildren

I was blessed with one child, a son who, due to an injury when he was a teen, the doctor said he probably wouldn’t father children. He has four children and six grandchildren. We are truly blessed!

I enjoy digital designs and I hope you enjoy my creations using photos of my great-grandchildren that I collected over the years. These kids are awesome!

My Grace is Sufficient

I AM A GOD WHO HEALS.

Those are the first six words I read from my daily devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

And they got my attention.

But what awakened my spiritual slumber are the words in the last paragraph: I rarely heal all the brokenness in a person’s life. Even my servant Paul was told, “My grace is sufficient for you,” when he sought healing for the thorn in his flesh.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Wow! So that must mean that no matter how mighty our faith or how shiny our halo, we’re not always gonna get what we ask God for.

As a kid, I had faith; lots of faith. Or, at least I thought I did until a boy accidentally broke my glasses as we were horsing around on the church bus.

Great! What am I gonna tell mom and daddy who can barely put food on the table let alone buy another pair of glasses? What am I gonna do? I’m as blind as a bat without them.

So, with all the faith a ten-year-old could muster, I pressed my glasses together, squeezed my eyes shut, and prayed,  “Lord. You gotta fix my glasses. You can do it! I know you can!”

You can imagine my disappointment when I opened my eyes and realized my glasses were still just as broken as they were before I asked God to magically put them back together again.

As a child, it didn’t matter that it was just a pair of glasses. They were broken and I knew and believed with all my heart and soul that God had the power to fix them.

But He didn’t.

And when the family walked side by side with my sister down the church aisle to pray for her healing, we had faith that God could do it. Yet, cancer claimed her life anyway.

But God healed my brother years ago from a heart condition caused by rheumatic fever and my baby brother from a bowel obstruction immediately following the pastor’s prayers when he came to the house. He even healed my mother right before she was wheeled down to surgery. The X-ray proved the mass was gone!

I don’t know the mind of God; why He heals one person and not another. But I do know that no one has the right to tell anyone that healing doesn’t come because of a person’s lack of faith.

I saw this happen once when a group of Christians gathered around a young woman with MS slumped in a wheelchair, scolding her for not having enough faith to get up and walk! And I was so proud when our assistant pastor marched his small, indignant frame toward the holier than thou group and boldly put an end to their vicious bullying.

In my own life, like those broken pair of glasses, God doesn’t magically put my brokenness back together. It’s been a long, painful, drawn-out process of anger and frustration, of jerking away and running back. A roller coaster ride of failures and victories, tears and laughter, sadness and joy. Walking the green mile through depression, anxiety, and fear. A never-ending cycle of I’m okay, I’m not okay and maybe I’ll never be okay.

Yes, the struggle is just too much at times. But, it’s through the grueling struggles, not the instant healing that God reveals His endless love and care and mercy toward me. It’s through my quiet times with Him and the tears rolling down my face, and His light shining in the dungeon of darkness, revealing my weaknesses, my stubbornness, my fears, anger, and rage; all the prickly, painful thorns that keep me dependent on Him. Without those struggles, I may never know how much God wants me for Himself. I may never know His love and protection. And I may die not ever knowing a father’s love.

So, the way I see it, healing is not healing if it separates me from God; If it causes me to develop a doctor-patient relationship where the doctor heals and the patient doesn’t need him or her anymore.

It’s horrifying to think that everything I ask God for would sever our relationship if He gave it to me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Art: Pocket Full of Happy

Sometimes our own little world is not very happy. Bad stuff happens. Pets die. Friends disappoint us. Parents get old and sick and spend their remaining months or years in a nursing home.

Having battled depression most of my life, I like being around happy people and creating happy stuff. I hope my creations put a smile on your face. As always, they are free for you to use. Click on any picture to enlarge.

 

Be Still and Listen

I raised the windows in the living room, poured a cup of coffee and snuggled in my favorite chair. The one that glides and swivels so I can keep busy while I’m sitting and doing nothing. The one that Pepper loves when she curls on my lap and I rock her to sleep. The one where I sit and think and dream and talk to God.

So, as I sat gazing out the window, feeling the breeze, listening to the wind chimes, and watching the salamander skittering across the porch rail, God whispered,

“Stop pushing so hard and trying to fix everything. Stop fretting about getting old. Stop worrying about your husband’s diabetes. Stop complaining because you can’t do things you did ten years ago. Just keep trusting me. I have everything under control. I will never let you down.”

Yeah. God whispered that to me this morning through the gentle breeze, the tinkling wind chimes, and the salamander skittering across the porch rail.

I Want More of This and Less of That

I got a makeover today. I asked the makeup artist to make my eyes look bigger, my nose to look smaller, and my lips to look fuller.

Yeah, I’m just clowning around. But how many of us are never satisfied with our looks? As a kid, I used to sit for hours drawing before and after pictures of myself because I never liked what I saw in the mirror: freckles splattered all over my face, eyebrows and eyelashes you couldn’t see with the naked eye, and straight, stubborn red hair. And I was skinny. Like, Olive Oyl skinny. My clothes looked better on the coat hanger than they looked on me.

But, I wasn’t alone in my self-loathing world. My best friend was so self-conscious of her weight that it was like coaxing a mule to get her to poke her head out the door. Another friend hated her feet and nose and said they were the two ugliest body parts ever. And then there was the boob thing. They were either too big, too little, or non-existent. Guess where I fit in.

It’s a shame that many of us go through life feeling “less than” for whatever reason. Why do we do that? What is so awful about that body part we don’t like? So awful that we feel we belong in a zoo; or even worse, a freak show. So awful that many have spent thousands of dollars to fix only to end up broke and just as dissatisfied as ever.

Ken and Barbie didn’t help much. And neither did models and movie stars with their dazzling eyes, flawless skin, and perfect bodies. The unspoken message was and still is, what you see is what you should look like. And if you don’t, you might as well wear a bag over your head.

And we believe it!

I fell into that deep dark hole of believing that people didn’t like me because I was ugly. The truth is, I didn’t like myself because I believed I was ugly. I believed that from head to toe something was really wrong with me. I mean, really! Other girls my age had boobs. Why couldn’t I?

According to guys, boobs were way better than brains. I grew up with brothers, I know. They would laugh and tell me I was a pirates dream because I had a sunken chest. And they hid Playboy books under their mattresses and google-eyed every girl who bounced like a pair of basketballs when she walked.

So yeah. I got the message loud and clear. If you don’t have boobs you might as well be dead.

While laying in the sun one day, my bathing suit stuffed with toilet paper, I felt completely hopeless of ever looking like a real girl. But I believed in prayer. I even believed in miracles. So I prayed, “Lord. Please give me some boobs!”

Today, I’m so thankful God didn’t give me what I asked for. And I’m thankful that I learned to love myself as I am. If we can’t love and accept ourselves, how can we possibly love and accept others? If all we see when we look at someone is their physical appearance then we’re not seeing that person at all. There’s so much more to a book than its cover. You have to open it. You have to read it. Only then can you know and appreciate what it’s all about.

So I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care what color your skin is. I don’t care if you walk with a limp, stutter when you talk if you’re gay or straight or have tattoos and piercings from head to toe. I care about your heart. And I judge whether I want you as my friend by what’s in your heart.

It’s been a long, hard journey, this self-discovery thing. A journey that most of us have traveled. And until we can realize that there is no “perfect” in this world we’ll never end that torturous journey. We’ll never be happy with ourselves. We’ll never dig deep inside ourselves to see what really makes us tick. We’ll die wishing we could be like someone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Lock Me Up and Throw Away the Key!

I sat on the edge of the sterile, paper-lined examining table, laughing at my husband’s silly jokes, my mind racing like a team of runaway horses. My husband accuses me of never being able to sit still for five minutes without jumping up and doing something.

A brief knock at the door and the doctor walks in, shaking his head and rolling his eyes playfully. Laughing nervously, I said, “Yeah, I know. Just cut off my head and be done with it!”

He sits in the chair across the room, crosses his long legs and patiently begins his interrogation. I look at my husband for comfort, wishing we were at the beach or the Bahamas; anyplace but here.

Finally, satisfied that I had answered all his perplexing questions accurately, he has a diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder.

Great! Not only do I feel crazy, I am crazy!

Suddenly, it all started making sense, though, why my brothers called me Sybil, why the rollercoaster of high’s and low’s, the crying spells, the anger and rage, the gnawing, gut-wrenching feeling that something is wrong with me. No normal person flies into a rage over a squeaky chair or broken vase. And certainly, no normal person feels like a terrorist lives inside them, setting off bombs and blowing up their insides and sense of reality their entire life.

No wonder I was more wildcat than my mother could handle. We were like two live wires striking against each other creating more sparks than either of us could handle. She didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand her, yet, we were both the same.

So, I’m sitting there thinking, now what. Am I stuck like this? Do I just live out the rest of my days feeling guilty because of who I am, hating myself because no matter how hard I try I can’t get my act together? Give me a break, I’m old. I’m running out of time!

Other than gaining an ounce of wisdom and a sliver of understanding, I’m no better off now than I was before sitting in the doctor’s office. I’ll take the medicine like he prescribed and just keep doing the best I can. Since I can’t tame the beast within I’ll keep avoiding people, places, and things that make it roar the loudest. I’ll try to stop cleaning my house all night long and pushing myself to the nth degree in everything I do. I’ll try giving myself permission to screw up and work on forgiving the stupid things I do and say.

But, do you have an inkling how hard that is? People with mental disorders feel they have to be punished; purged from their abominable sins to be allowed back into the human race. They have to work twice as hard to receive half the benefit of “normal” people. We have to hide who we really are, don’t dare show the world our ugly side. Keep it stuffed way down deep and never, ever let that stinking sewage rise to the surface and erupt. Do you see the dilemma? do you feel the pain and desperation of just wanting to be okay?

Pretending became a way of life for me, and how I hate pretending! It goes against the grain of who I really am. So many times I wished I could go shopping for a new brain that functioned with love and peace and joy, was more positive and happy and full of fresh ideas and creations. A brand new brain without a junkyard dog tied to it.

I realize that no one is perfect. No one is “normal”. We live in a fallen world of brokenness, none of us escapes the trials and tears and long, lonely nights. We all have our own battles to fight. We all want to win.

So, I sit here today, feeling anxious as usual, worrying about this and that and hoping the medicine will kick in before I die. But, I am thankful for my life, the things I’ve gone through and the wisdom I’ve gained in the process. I’m thankful that God chose me to live this life with its many challenges so that I can better understand others going through similar circumstances. I’m thankful that I don’t have to be “normal” for God to love me and use me for His purpose. I’m thankful that I have sense enough to know that only God can put me back together again. All I have to do is trust Him.

Borderline Personality Disorder | Learn About This Disorder | rtor.org‎