Saturday, September 7, 2013

Altered Art for Oma's 90th Birthday

How do you celebrate 90 years of life? 
My best friend's mother is celebrating 90 years this month, and in honor of her life the family is gathering cards, greetings and "love notes" from friends and family.
I've known Oma (Frieda) since 1973.  It was that summer that Oma opened her home to me and I came to live with my girl friend and her family for awhile on Long Island, NY.  I was so blessed by this family and by their extended community of friends and family.
It was during this stay that I learned most of my German cooking skills from Oma and I counted this time as "training" for my marrying into a German family. Oma's family immigrated from Germany in the 1950's  and were first generation immigrants to the US (as are my husband's family who immigrated to Canada).  Needless to say home life in a German family was very different than what I knew growing up in was a whole other world from Texas!
 German was the language of the home and my high school German did not prepare me for this!  As part of their family I attended a German speaking church and I even attempted a short time with the German Choir!  Learning all the wonderful German songs (sung acapella) at gatherings with their other German friends and family is still a sweet memory for me.  Even now, when we gather together from all parts of the country for special family events, we hold hands and sing the old songs that I learned so long ago.  I had MUCH to learn during my time with this family and Oma was a GREAT teacher.
One of the very first things she taught me to bake was a proper Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Torte).  It was a hot, humid day and the whole cake was a flop...but we both laughed (and she was secretly happy that I did not outshine her in my baking skills!) She loves to be the TOP COOK! (and owns that title proudly!)
To pay tribute to Oma on her birthday, I wanted to create something that would honor her life and the legacy that she has given, no only to me and my family, but for all the memories she has created for those of us who have known her.
I started my project with a search for hands...older hands.  Oma's hands are and now gnarled and work-worn from years of cooking, cleaning and caring for her family.  She had a hard life after the war in Germany but her family always came first.  Starting life over in the US was also not an easy time for her and her family.
The next item I wanted to incorporate into my work was scripture describing the Proverbs 31 woman (but in German, of course!)  I've seen her rise up early to care for her household.  I've also seen those early hours spent in prayer...silently entreating God for the needs of her family.  Oma has worked endless hours and performed countless tasks for others.  After the war, and once her little family immigrated to the United States there were still many hurdles to overcome...language barriers, cultural differences as well the endless tasks of beginning life anew. 

Using a photo program I "married" the two layers to create my base image.  I affixed this base image to my canvas.

Next, I wanted to give Oma a visual reminder that even though her life has not turned out as she had planned, and there are still many unexpected twists and turns to come, the Lord has not forsaken nor  forgotten her.

To finished the project I added musical notes along the edges to remind her to sing the song in her heart, the songs she has known and sung for years.  I also trimmed out the edge with a vintage piece of lace that she gave me years ago!

Each step of the way on this project I thought of all the years since, marriages, babies, death.  So much happiness and sadness all held in the same hands...molding her to who Christ has called her to be. I know she has kept all these things in her heart to think on.  
I don't know that there is much to "desire" for a birthday once you turn, to Oma on her 90th birthday...
I want to celebrate your life!  I know it has not always been easy, nor has it always been comfortable or fair..."God never rejects a weak and weary heart that seeks Him. No matter how broken-down and overwhelmed we are, God welcomes us and is willing and able to help us." Psalm 51:17
I want to celebrate your strength...not in and of yourself, but the strength you gained from your trust in God that He would carry you the very end!
You have been an example to me and to others and I pray you will "finish strong!"
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timotny 4:6-8
Much love to Frieda, and to her family, for all they have meant to my life!
Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My 60th Birthday – Jubilee!

"Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan. This fiftieth year will be a jubilee for you. During that year you must not plant your fields or store away any of the crops that grow on their own, and don’t gather the grapes from your unpruned vines." Leviticus 25:10-11 (NLT)

As I was reading my Bible I came across this Scripture recently.  These verses tell me that in the fiftieth year, God commanded that each person was to return to his family property: the land was not to be harvested; slaves and their children were to be released. On God’s calendar, the jubilee year was a time for celebration, restoration to wholeness, rest, and release.

2002 was my true “year of jubilee, but I think I was too busy with children and just living life to take time to have a jubilee!  This past Christmas (actually the day after ) I turned 60...and I think it will be my magic age! I have decided that this year will be my Jubilee Year...a time to renew myself and my relationships. I have chosen to liberate myself by celebrating the life God has given me.

This year I will renew myself. I want to explore more of the world around me. See and experience new and diverse things!  I will continue taking classes to better my art and my sewing skills.  I will learn and try new skills and activities. I plan to take better care of the body I’m in—there are really no replacement parts.  “So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day.” 2 Cor. 4:16 (NCV)   I plan to take more naps and spend leisurely time with my grandchildren just listening to their ramblings about their life and interests.  I plan to spend more time doing nothing but holding my new grand take in her smell and the joy of new life.  I will let go of life’s trivialities, with those things that will not matter in eternity but I strive to have more patience with others.

I want to renew my relationships. My parents will not be with me forever. I will continue to learn from them and know my history.  My brothers, sisters and sister-in-laws are important to me.  I want to take time to speak with them about what is significant.  Know who they are and who they continue becoming and to watch as their children grow and change.

My girls and their husbands, they are my heart!  I will take time to listen to them...what is weighing on their hearts, what is important for their families and their futures.  Balancing that fine line of “advice” and meddling!  I will love each of them for who they are, who they are becoming.  Watching as each make life decisions for their families...and loving being part of their lives!

My husband, my love...I want to continue building on the foundation our 38 year marriage.  To solidify what we have and plan for our future, of times to come. More importantly, just as the ancient Israelites allowed slaves to go free, I will release those who have hurt me.  Letting go of what “lies behind...”

My friends...I am truly blessed with many “long-term” friendships. (I won’t use the words “old friends”!) Friends are the family we get to “pick” and the Lord has truly given me some priceless treasures in those He’s planted in my life.  I want to know them more deeply and continue sharing life’s joy and pain together.  

I hope to liberate myself by celebrating the life I have. Too often I can allow my mistakes and missteps to prevent me from living with joy. I want to be free to accept who I am, warts and all. I am not perfect—will never be perfect–but I am created to live in His perfect freedom. I will give the gift of myself to others, to serve others—I will be set free in order to celebrate others.

No one seems to know with complete clarity and certainty what their life calling is. I  hear people  talking about how to “find their soul.” I’ve always thought this was code to figuring out what they were going to do with their lives, who they want to be when they “grew up.”  I am thankful, because I’m not trying to find my soul anymore. I’m not looking for my “calling.”  I am honestly not trying to find much of anything I lack anymore. That is not to say I have gotten many of the things I thought I needed in my life. But, I did find my soul. I’m not sure when or where I found it, but I found it!  It also feels very complete. I made a conscience decision to be grateful for the things I’ve been given, which has been a lot.

I am not afraid of death anymore because I know that what I really want is on the other side of this life.  “Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.” 1 Cor. 13:12

So...all of this to say, getting older isn’t all that bad!   I will not stop asking and seeking (Luke 11:9) for a deeper understanding of who I am in Christ and what my place in His-story really is.  I will live with my freedom—earned after sixty years of toil—I will celebrate my year of Jubilee! (Even if it is 10 years late!)

Happy jubilee!