Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Winter Wonderland

By Hazel Holland

I would much rather look at snow scenes from the comfort of a warm house or a warm car than from actually being out in the snow and feeling the cold.  I remember when I painted this watercolor years ago I could see the snow on the distant mountains, but I didn't have to crunch through it to get to my car.  But that is soon going to change.

I just came home from spending a wonderful Christmas with my family where the winters are cold and snow isn't just reserved for the mountains.  So next winter I will have to get use to leaving the comfort of my warm home and crunching through snow to warm up my cold car. 

This will be a big adjustment.  It's been 37 years since I left the cold winters of Ohio and moved to California, and even more since I left Michigan and England.  But the four seasons will be a welcome change even though I don't relish the cold winters...

I will enjoy watching new plants push their way through melting snow as they offer their natural beauty to Springtime. The less humid summers with two-digit temperatures is another reason to make this move.  The vibrant fall colors won't just be in the mountains, but along the streets, and hopefully in my own back yard.

By the time winter comes around again I hope I will be ready to embrace the snow that can make winter a wonderland! 

Down By the Old Mill Stream

By Hazel Holland

When I painted this watercolor of an old mill scene many years ago it was to try and capture the mood of this beautiful rural setting.  I didn't want to forget the charm and quaintness of the way things use to be.  It reminded me of idyllic times in the past when life seemed to be more carefree and less complicated.

And a part of me wants to return there often.  I want to breathe deeply of the fresh air that I feel on my face.  I want to sit under the old oak tree with a good book, and listen to the old mill stream lap at my feet.  Seems there was no need to hurry back then.  Time stood still forever.

Our memories of yesterday down by the old mill stream seem to rejuvenate our spirits.  We recapture our forgotten youth as we watch the mill wheel slowly turn and remember our first kiss.  We know it was summertime back then because the leaves on the oak tree were in full bloom... and we were in love. 

But now the leaves have fallen.  The oak tree is bare and winter is here.  We preferred the summer.  But the seasons change.  And with each new season comes new memories.  The old memories will always be there as a foundation upon which to build the new.  

But we cannot live our lives in the past.  We must live in the present.  Although once we were in love and forever young, now love has come to maturity.  It has more meaning in our lives than a fleeting kiss down by the old mill stream  To love others is a choice.

We have grown wiser and stronger like that old oak tree.  Our ability to love others has grown deeper as we choose to love them more for their sake and less for our own.

We will weather the storms of life far better if we choose to live each moment in the present.  I know that we all take trips back to the old mill stream.  But when we do, tomorrows dreams remain waiting to be experienced...  And we can only experience them as we are present in our lives.  Living in the past we can never hope to fulfill the destiny God has for us now. 

So let's take the best from all our yesterdays and bring them into the present.  For it is in the present that God chooses to dwell in us and we choose to live in the Spirit.  It is in the present that we experience His joy...not back at the old mill streams of our lives.  No matter how beautiful and peaceful we remember those mill streams to be, they are nothing compared to the joy that comes with living in His presence now.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Rich Heritage

By Hazel Holland

"Westcot", my great grandfather's sister's house in  Devon, England, painted by my grandmother in 1928! 

This is one of grandmother's water color paintings that she painted in 1928, and that I had tucked away in a manilla folder for safe-keeping.  I was delighted when I recently discovered it, because forgotten memories and lost dreams can now be restored with the aide of a digital camera!  A little help from Microsoft Office Picture Manager... and the painting came back to life.

And with it came a flood of fond childhood memories... the good times spent at my grandparent's home in Hertforshire, England.  In fact this painting resembles their house and English garden. 

My grandmother planted and took care of the flowers, and my grandfather raised the vegetables and fruit.  Geraniums were grandma's favorite flower to grow, even though as a child I couldn't understand why because they never smelled pretty.  And my grandpa's vegetable garden and apple orchard were his pride and joy and the envy of anyone who saw it.

Practically everything we ate we grew.  And whenever we needed something from the store my grandmother would put it on the shopping list, and grandfather would pick it up on his Friday shopping trip.  He could have ridden the bus to the shops downtown, but he always preferred to walk the three miles.  Sometimes the return trip home would take him a little longer than usual, and I would hear my grandmother mumbling under her breath as she looked at the clock: "You should ride the bus home George... and not be so stubborn!"

But he never did.  He took his time walking the three miles home because he preferred to stop along the way and admire people's gardens, and perhaps chat with a stranger or two.  People would recognize him when they saw him walking with his cane and shopping bag, and he would tip his hat.  He was in no hurry.  He had time to smell the flowers... 

I enjoyed smelling flowers, too.  As a child I liked picking raspberries and strawberries in the early morning while the dew was still clinging to the fresh fruit.  Digging up new potatoes with grandpa and counting how many peas were inside each pod was always fun.  

Most people wouldn't eat raw rhubarb or sour gooseberries before breakfast, but I did.  Never mind that later I sometimes got an awful stomachache... Grandma's Andrews Liver Salts (antacid) always worked... and I loved the fizzy feeling in my mouth!

So many more outdoor memories I have, but I have wonderful indoor memories as well.  My grandmother loved to paint, and I was eager to learn.  She gave me my first art lesson in mixing watercolors when I was seven, and I found out the hard way that it wasn't as easy as it looked.  I discovered quite quickly that "mud" was an easy color to make!   

But it was exciting to see how the colors would change when they were mixed together.  I immediately wanted to make beautiful pictures like she did, but my grandmother was wise.  She gently told me that it would take time, and that I must be patient, and that I must keep practicing.

But it wasn't just art that she taught me...  It was sewing and knitting and crocheting and making doll houses out of large cardboard boxes with real glass for windows, and matchbox furniture.  

She taught me how to play the piano and the auto harp.  And on special occasions she would put my hair up in rag curls at night so that I would have beautiful ringlets the next day.  The list went on and on...  

There was never a dull moment at grandma's house, because she always had time to listen to my childish dreams.  Sometimes she'd even let me eat a cookie or candy between meals... a treat that was never allowed at home.  

Christmastime was the best time of all because I loved the way Grandma's house smelled.  It wasn't just the Christmas tree, the holly berries, or the gingerbread men...but all the wonderful smells that brought back the good memories of the closeness we felt and the love that we shared whenever we were together.

So if you're a grandma or grandpa reading this post right now, grasp every opportunity you can to spend quality and fun time with your grandchildren.  Their little minds are so open and receptive to learning new things.  So find out what they like to do and what makes them happy...  

Then share with them age appropriate things that you liked to do when you were a child, and see what their response is.  More than likely they will be excited to use their minds and hands to create something from their hearts as you sit by and gently guide them.  You'll know that you're a success when you see the pure joy on their faces!

As I look back on my childhood memories...the ones that made the greatest impression on my young mind were the many times grandma and I spent time doing things together.  I learned many life-changing lessons from her loving spirit and patient example. 

My grandmother's actions made me feel like she had taken me into her heart.  That's why I never got tired of the burnt toast and scrambled eggs and cheese she fixed for breakfast every morning because they were prepared with love... and I knew it. 

What a rich heritage I've been given. It wasn't material things that were important to my grandparent's, but loving relationships.  How blessed I am to have experienced this at a young age, and now recognized as an adult.  

My rich heritage has not been in houses or lands or the tangible "things" of this life, but in the intangible things of the heart.  I've inherited a gentle spirit and a compassionate heart, and a great desire to help others learn how to protect their important heart-to-heart relationships, too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Broken for Blessing!

By Hazel Holland

"And I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony [unnaturally hardened] heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God]." Ezekiel 11:19 (Amplified Bible)

I can't take the credit for this wonderful pencil drawing of an English fishing village scene, but I wish I could.  All I did was add a little color to it. 

Actually my father, Jeff Brown, drew it back in 1997 when he began drawing for the first time.  He was 80 at the time, and now he's 94!  He's not been drawing lately, but he's still going strong!  Yeah dad!

As I looked at this drawing that my father so beautifully did, I asked the Holy Spirit to show me what He wanted me to see in this picturesque English fishing village with the cobblestone street.  Immediately I knew that He wanted me to share with you how the walls of my heart became hardened like stone because of unforgiveness.  My heart was like the stone buildings and cobblestone street in this picture.

As a child my body would have appeared to be physically present with my family, but so often my heart was removed from their presence.  Over the years a kind of deadening numbness set in, because I had unknowingly closed the door of my heart to my family in order to protect it from further pain.

But God didn't design my heart or your heart to function this way.  Just as our physical hearts need an inflow as well as an outflow of lifeblood in both directions or we will die, so our spiritual hearts need to both receive of His love, and let it flow out of us to others, or we will die!

"Love one another as I have loved you" then becomes a life-giving command of Jesus to us as we realize that God created us to be receivers as well as givers of His love and grace! It's how He made us.  But we can't give of His love and grace to others if we haven't first received His love and grace for ourselves.

As I was pondering these thoughts the Lord reminded me of an experience I had back in 1997 a couple of months after my father drew this picture...  

I was returning home from a church one Sunday evening when I decided to stop by the local El Pollo Loco restaurant and get a spicy black bean burrito.  Back in 1997 this restaurant closed earlier on Sundays, but I didn't realize that when I walked up to the "closed" door to get a burrito.

After I entered the restaurant I noticed that there was no sign of food anywhere, and the waitresses had their backs to me as they busily cleaned up the kitchen.  Suddenly one of them became aware of my presence and jumped as she turned around.   

“How did you get in here?” she asked abruptly. 

“I just walked through the door.” I responded calmly, surprised by such a question.

“You couldn’t have! I locked that door forty-five minutes ago!"

Having said that, she went out the back door of the restaurant and came around to check the front door.  Sure enough it was locked tight.  The manager had to let her in.  As they walked by me they had this incredulous look of awe mixed with confusion on their faces. 

“You must have some kind of supernatural powers!” they both exclaimed.

“No!  I’m a Christian and I serve a supernatural God!” I responded.

Right at that moment, I sensed God's Spirit nudging me to give the young lady who had locked that door... a word from Him.
“God is going to open locked doors in your life.  He’s heard the cry of your heart and He wants you to know how much He loves you!”

She was speechless...  She awkwardly thanked me and then went about her business of helping clean up the restaurant, while another waitress insisted on fixing me a burrito, and then I left.

As I walked out the previously locked door, I noticed that it was “power locked.”  There was no way I could have walked through that door “unaided.”  I looked around to see if there were any little rocks that could have somehow prevented it from fully closing.  There were none.  

Immediately I sensed the presence of the Spirit as He began to speak to my heart and tell me that He was going to open locked doors in my life.  Tears filled my eyes and I began to weep as I experienced the tender love in the Father’s heart for me. 

But little did I realize at the time that unforgiveness was going to be one of those locked doors that He would supernaturally open.  As the blazing light from the Cross pierced my stony heart, the walls began to come down, and the cobblestones were broken apart...

I had been broken for blessing.  I had been freed to forgive so that I could become a blessing to others.  If you haven't already been broken by His love and grace, will you let God's Spirit begin to bring down the stony walls within your heart now? 

He wants to break you for blessing, too.  He wants you to receive of His love and grace, and then let it flow out of your new heart to others. 

( It seems that when we have been victims of spiritual abuse... especially as children... we learn to close the door of our hearts at an early age in order to protect ourselves from further abuse...  But God knows how to open our hearts to the rays of His love.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Erasing Dark Shadows

By Hazel Holland

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:21-23

This watercolor painting that I painted of a Michigan sunset is a reminder of how I struggled to keep smiling as I faced being confined to a TB hospital for two months back in August of 1967.  It actually amazes me now that I had the determination to paint such bright colors when I was feeling anything but cheerful. 

As I look at the jagged edges of the dark shadows on the mountains I remember how they seemed to parallel my gloomy thoughts and unspoken fears back then.  Now the lines seem too harsh, but back then they clearly reflected the stark reality of daily life.

Although some patients told me that they had been in this hospital forever, I was not going to be one of them.  Others had died in there, but I would live to tell about it.

So in order to try and bring some kind of semblance of balance to the dark shadows of my doubts and fears, I decided to paint the most warm and cheerful fall leaves I could imagine in the foreground of my painting.  Perhaps it would help to dispel my angst with hope.  So each time I would have those dreadful thoughts of being confined to this hospital for eons, I would add a few more orange and yellow leaves to the trees in the foreground.  

As you can see from the density of those orange and yellow leaves, I struggled a bit with anxiety.  But gradually the focus of my thoughts shifted away from myself and my own fears to the needs of the people around me.

I began to wake up each morning with a renewed sense of purpose.  I would make the best of my two month "vacation" because now I had a mission.  I would paint my heart out, and do whatever it took to help erase the dark shadows from other patient's hearts. Instead of spreading around more gloom, I would bring them hope and cheer.  And with God's help I think I did.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Place of Sanctuary

By Hazel Holland

This cozy little cabin tucked away somewhere in the Swiss Alps, surrounded by lush evergreens and alpine flowers, overlooking a crystal blue lake with a backdrop of distant snow-covered mountains was my safe haven... an idyllic place of tranquility that I could escape to whenever I needed to get away from the turmoil of life. 

 I liked the idea of placing the mountains in the distance when I drew this remote scene many years ago because I hated the cold.  My memories of trudging through deep snow drifts on my way to and from school during bitterly cold English winters had left an indelible impression of dread on me.  Snow looked pretty enough in pictures, but in reality if you weren't wearing warm enough clothing when you got caught in a blizzard, your feet and hands would be bone-chilling numb by the time you got home from school.

Now as I look back at that time in my life, I realize that this idealistic picture was a symbol of sanctuary for me.  I wanted to find a safe haven that I hoped would shelter me from the coldness and fear that I felt within my own heart.  I wanted to create a place of safety where I could escape from the turmoil and pain I saw in the hearts of others.

As a child I use to dream of escaping into my grandmother's waiting arms whenever I was misjudged or harshly mistreated at home. She was always ready to give me a hug and take me into her heart.  That's why I painted this elderly-looking woman in this idealistic setting, because she represented the love and acceptance I needed, but rarely received at home.

I painted her standing outside looking at the bank of flowers because working with flowers was grandmother's favorite pastime.  Although now as I look back on those childhood memories, I imagine grandma had an ulterior motive for puttering around outside in her flower garden just at the time I would pass by her house after school.  She must have noticed that I was constantly hungry, because she would always place at least one or two of her famous rock buns in my pocket so that I would have something to eat on my way home from school.

One drawback of these life-saving memories was that we didn't always live near grandma. When we did life was bearable, but when we didn't there seemed to be no end to the ugly days...  During those down times I would escape into a world of my own choosing and making in order to numb the terrible pain in my heart. 

But then about twenty years ago something miraculous happened.  My mother finally had the courage to tell me her story...  By sharing her childhood abuse she freed me to let go of mine.  Immediately I began to live life with a new focus.  I chose to move toward my mother for her sake instead of moving away for mine. 

I began to let go of years of unrealistic expectations of what I’d wanted my mother to be for me, because I saw that she was not just the mother who failed me, but a deeply hurt woman whom I failed to love.  Her confession and tears freed me to forgive her for the years of anguish and rejection.  Her honesty freed me to accept my loss.

I began to realize how much more she needed my love that I needed hers... I saw that she had been a child trying to raise a child, and no one understood. Now I wanted to offer her the gift of being understood. I wanted her to taste the joy of being forgiven. I wanted to offer her acceptance with no exception, because that is the kind of agape love God has freely given me.

And that, my friend, is the kind of agape love God has freely given you.  No matter what storms you may be facing right now, and no matter what chaos is surrounding your life, you can find yourself a sanctuary in Jesus Christ.  He can bring beauty out of the ugliest of situations as He brings His healing touch to our waiting hearts.

Now I no longer need to find a place of sanctuary by withdrawing from life, because God has given me sanctuary within His heart.  Jesus is my sanctuary!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Too Busy!

By Hazel Holland

After discovering this painting the other day that I had "abandoned" to that box in the garage, I picked it up and was immediately shocked to see how "busy" this picture was... waaaaaaaaaay too busy!

Then the memories began to flood my mind...  I had painted this picture soon after my son was born, and right after painting the poppies... "A Burst of Sunshine".

I had tried my hand at using a palette knife instead of a brush because I thought that it would be much faster.  It was.  Never mind the fact that I had gotten carried away with the number of flowers I had tried to squeeze into the vase...  I was just "practicing" anyway, and had no serious intention of keeping this trial run.  But like a lot of my other "trial runs" this one too found its way into that forgotten box in the garage, just waiting to be brought back to life at the right time... His time.

Looking at the painting now it is so obviously tooooooo busy!  It reminds me of how busy and full my life was back then as I tried to juggle my new role as a mother with working outside of the home.  No wonder I crammed so many daisies into one small vase.  There was no time to paint a larger vase!

But I could have stopped painting the daisies at any time.  No one had a knife to my throat demanding that I continue to paint them. I was in total control of the palette knife, but I got carried away in my exuberance and joy at seeing flowers materialize so quickly before my eyes.  They reminded me of God's Smile.

By saying that, I'm not at all suggesting that God was smiling at my busyness.  Not at all!  He was smiling at me because He had given me a love for His creation, and now I was beginning to exercise the artistic gift He had given me...

I was taking baby steps back then, but as the years rolled by I matured in my gift and learned how to bring better balance into my pictures... and into my life.  My focus and goals began to change as God became by number one priority.  More balance was restored to the busyness of my life as I began to desire hearing God's voice and knowing His heart...

However, I must confess that sometimes I still get carried away with painting more "daisies" than I can ever fit into the "vase".  In my exuberance and joy at living life in the Spirit I forget that there are still only 24 hours in a day.  Do you know what I mean? 

We need to remember that only as we rest in His love will we be able to hear God's heart for others.  My desire is to let Him show me how to paint "daisies" so that others will see His smile upon them... even in the midst of their busyness.  Then perhaps some will stop just long enough in the midst of their busy day to smell the sweet perfume of his presence, and decide to stop crowding Him out so that they can can paint daisies, too.

A Burst of Sunshine

By Hazel Holland

Here are another couple of paintings I found tucked away in a box in the garage.  These California poppies were my first try at doing oils while I was recovering from my C-section after giving birth to my son.

I must confess that, after moving to California, whenever I saw wild poppies growing beside the road I wanted to immediately stop the car and get out and pick some... that is until friends quickly informed me that picking the state flower that grew so profusely along the county roads was a misdemeanor.  To me it seemed such a shame that none of these bright and beautiful, wild flowers would ever make their way into a vase in my home.  So my next best option was to try and paint them instead. 

These poppies were painted at a time when I was so happy to be a mommy.   My son was a burst of sunshine that brought such joy into my life.  And apparently that joy started to bubble up inside of me  during the C-section surgery, because my doctor's first words to me in the recovery room were: "You have a beautiful singing voice, Mrs. Holland!"

 "Huh?  What do you mean?" I groggily responded.

"You sang at the top of your lungs throughout the entire surgery, "I'm gonna have a beautiful baby!  I'm gonna have a beautiful boy!  You repeated these words over and over and over again!" 

"Really?  I sang?"

"Yes!  Usually all I hear from my patients is swearing!  So hearing you sing like that was a real treat.  And guess what?  You do have a beautiful baby!  You do have a beautiful boy!"

Of course back then I had no idea whether I was going to have a boy or a girl.  But God knew.  And I like to think that He chose to give me a joyful song back then to always remind me of how He knows everything about me... even the unspoken desires of my heart.

He knows everything about you, too... even the unspoken desires of your heart.  More than anything else His desire for you is that you come to know Him like He knows you...intimately.  And when you do, His joy will be like a burst of sunshine flooding your soul, and your heart will not be able to contain it.

See art link: Too Busy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unfinished Business

By Hazel Holland

"He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

I just came across this unfinished oil that I began painting many years ago. As you can tell from the expression on the little girl's face she is sad because her toy is broken. Her dog is trying to console her by offering her the comfort of his love through this difficult time.

I remember feeling like this little girl many times back then because my life was broken and I didn't know how to fix it. I longed for someone to offer me the comfort of their presence... someone who would be with me through the rough times.

Even though I didn't know that Someone intimately back then, Jesus was holding me in the palm of His hand as He carefully began putting the pieces of my life back together. Others may leave me, but He would be with me forever.

I think I will leave this oil painting unfinished to remind myself and others that God has not finished painting on the canvas of our lives, either. His promise to us is that the good work He began in us He will complete.

Although at times when we look at our lives we may feel like we are incomplete, we can know for a certainty that we are complete in Him. So let's let go of the nagging temptation to trust in the unfinished work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as the basis of our acceptance with God.

God accepts us on the basis of Christ's finished work on the cross, NOT on the basis of what the Holy Spirit does in our hearts. However, He tells us that He will complete the unfinished business in our hearts so that we can be confident that the One who began this good work in us will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

God's promise is sure. You are complete in Him, but He isn't finished with you yet!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Beauty for Ashes

By Hazel Holland

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me... to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness...that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:1-3)

When Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth on that Sabbath day, He announced to the people present that He was the fulfillment of the Jubilee that had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah.

We know from reading the rest of the story that the people were not prepared to receive this "Good News". They were incensed and rejected the very idea that Joseph and Mary's son could be the “Anointed One”.

Nevertheless, in the same way that the Lord’s favor rested upon Jesus when He walked into the synagogue on that unforgetable day, so the Holy Spirit continued to rest upon Him for the next three years as He fulfilled His Jubilee mission.

As the Good News of salvation began to shine into the darkened recesses of people’s souls, it began to heal their broken hearts, and bring them freedom from slavery to sin. Jesus brought forth beauty from the ashes of people’s lives. He brought them hope when they were full of despair. He turned their mourning into joy and the spirit of heaviness was replaced by praise.

Jesus continues to give people beauty for ashes today. He gives us sight when we are spiritually blind, and brings us freedom when we’re oppressed by guilt. He reminds us that the basis of our acceptance with God will always be His finished work that took place outside of us on the cross.

So there’s nothing more that we can do because it has already been done by Him. The Good News that Isaiah foretold so many years ago was an announcement of pardon from sin that Christ’s good work alone accomplished for all mankind.

Jesus has become my Jubilee. He gives me the beauty of His life in exchange for the ashes of my failures and broken dreams.

* (This is a pastel I did a number of years ago as I struggled to create beauty out of the ashes of my life.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Winter of My Life

By Hazel Holland

"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12:24

Have you ever felt that your life was one long, cold winter night that would never end? I have. The challenge and uncertainty of unforeseen circumstances left you wondering what would happen next as the monotonous days and months dragged by offering little hope that springtime was coming. Even the sun forgot to come out from behind the clouds on most days and offer you the consoling warmth of its rays.

But just as God had a purpose for creating the winter season, He also has a purpose for teaching us about His constancy and love during the winter seasons of our lives. During these times when we long for Springtime, we can't see what He's doing in our lives because everything is buried just beneath the surface.

But we can rest assured that God is doing His work in the soil of our hearts during the long, cold winter of our lives. Without winter there could be no Spring. For it is during the winter season that the seed must die in order to bring forth a fruitful harvest in the Spring.

Then at just the right time, in God's eternal Spingtime, He will bring forth a harvest of righteousness from the long, cold winter of our lives... a fruitful harvest that will glorify Him!

Hinds Feet

By Hazel Holland

 "The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills." Habakkuk 3:19; Psalm 18:33

Only a God of love can transform the grief and pain that we each experience in our daily lives and make these valley times into something very precious. Since God made us for Himself, our hearts can never know His peace and rest until we find it in His love alone.

That's why this spiritual journey we are on has many troubles and trials and tests of every kind. God permits difficulties to come our way because one of the most important lessons God desires to teach us as we walk through dark times is that His love will never abandon us to the darkness. Instead, He is the Light that will overwhelm it.

He wants us to learn to trust Him and surrender our wills to Him in the midst of not knowing what lies ahead. As we choose to abandon ourselves to God's loving care, we will begin to experience the kind of love and intimacy that our hearts have always longed for.

Perhaps more than anything else God wants to show us how He can redeem our past mistakes and failures. He can restore the years that the locusts have eaten, and when we least expect it, He can bring forth fruitfulness out of what was once dry, parched ground.

Through His Spirit He wants to bring new meaning to our lives and give us a greater understanding of the experiences through which we pass. He wants to make our feet like the feet of a deer so that we can learn to walk by faith and not by sight. So let's choose to stand in the high places of His heart where His perfect love casts out all fear.

Sweet Fellowship

By Hazel Holland

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Isaiah 1:18

Here's another one of my oil paintings done on what originally was a very dark and discolored-looking shell. Since this shell didn't naturally have an evenly white background, I had to paint the background white before I could paint another heart-warming winter scene from God's creation.

Kind of reminds me of how our hearts looked before God forgave us and whitewashed us with His blood! Now our sins have become as white as snow, because His agape love covers a multitude of sins.

Since we have been so graciously forgiven, let us extend God's forgiveness to one another and enjoy the sweet fellowship that comes from living in the Spirit.

Unbroken Fellowship

By Hazel Holland

Many years ago now I did a number of oil paintings on shells that I had picked up one afternoon during a stroll along Pismo Beach. I decided that these plain and ordinary looking shells could become quite extraordinary if I painted some heart-warming scenes on them and brought them to life. This one was my first try.

I know at times during our lives we may feel plain and ordinary, and perhaps even like a shell of what we use to be, but does God see us this way? Because we are His beloved children, God desires to leave His footprints on our hearts forever... heart-warming scenes that portray His mercy and grace so that we will come to know His heart of agape love for us.

God is so amazing and extraordinary because He created us in His image even though He knew that sin would mar His image in us. That's because He also new that our acceptance of Jesus Christ's sacrifice for us would bring healing and restoration to the broken fellowship that sin created.

Since our hearts have now been reconciled to Him because of the cross, we have been brought back to life through the Spirit. Now we can enjoy heart-warming and unbroken fellowship with Him forever.

God's Smile

By Hazel Holland

(A few years ago I did this drawing with pastels in order to express my gratefulness to God for the beauty of His creation that brought me such joy as a child!)

One of my favorite pastimes as a small child was going for a nature walk in the English countryside. I loved to run and skip through the fields and meadows, and breathe in the delicate perfume of the wild flowers while admiring their simple beauty. Each flower's face seemed to be bursting with joy as it danced and swayed in the gentle breeze, and I knew it was inviting me to pick it.

But more than anything else, I enjoyed finding a new wild flower that was tucked away from the beaten path and out of sight...especially one that I didn't have already in my hand. Somehow, whenever I discovered a new flower it was as if God was smiling at me.

However, whenever I found a flower that had been trampled on and crushed, I felt such sadness. So I would pick it and take it home with me, hoping to "resurrect" it later in a vase of water. Quite often that miracle happened.

I picked and gathered the wild flowers until my hands couldn't hold anymore because I desired to fill my whole house with the sweet perfume and delicate beauty of God's creation.

I didn't realize back then as a young child that God had placed within my heart a sensitivity to His Spirit that would be realized much later... As I saw God's heart for us expressed through His creation, I couldn't stop marveling at His handiwork.

I wanted to be out in nature 24/7, because it was only there that I felt accepted and loved. I could feel the warmth of God's smile upon me in every opening flower, and I hoped that someday I too would be free to dance and smile like these beautiful flowers, and become the child He created me to be...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Priceless Pearl

By Hazel Holland

(I painted this oil about 27 years ago, and then wrote this parable about 20 years ago as I was beginning to get a deeper understanding of the agape love that was in the heart of the Father for you and me.)

One day the Great Pearl Merchant was walking among the rock pools of His universe. He was searching for fine pearls and He knew just where to look—in the most remote places where no one else would venture to go.

One day as He was gazing into the limpid waters He discovered me, tucked away under a large rock hidden from view. Carefully He reached down, picked me up and opened up my rough exterior. I saw Him kneeling there admiring my worth and beauty. The light that came from Him made me glow and sparkle. I had never seen myself before as I really was, because I had always been in the darkness of my prison. But now I saw another world of much light.

He gently laid me down in a safe place and told me He would return. Now I had time to reflect… If He hadn't opened me up I would never have known the truth about myself. I would never have known who I really was. I didn't know that I was a beautiful pearl, because all I had ever experienced was the dark, locked shell, and the constant irritation of fighting against whatever it was that made me feel uncomfortable. But He had seen past my ugly outer defenses.

Soon the Great Pearl Merchant returned from His Kingdom. He had sold all His possessions—everything He owned to purchase me. He kneeled down and lovingly held me in the palm of His hand. I was the Pearl of Great Price that He had been looking for. I was worth everything to Him.

I was so happy to be out of my darkness that I just lay there in His hand, content to reflect His light. I wondered… if I hadn't gone through the constant knocks and irritations of life in the shell, would I be this beautiful pearl that He wanted so much to be with Him forever?

In the Palm of His Hand

By Hazel Holland

After seeing the movie, "Deep Impact" (thirteen years ago) I was emotionally drained and upset when I walked in the back door of my home. It was after 11 o'clock at night and the place was in darkness except for a small light I had left on over the stove.

Immediately I noticed the shadow of something small fly across my kitchen. At first I thought it was a butterfly that had landed on the hood over my stove. Imagine my surprise to discover that it was a little hummingbird! But how in the world did a hummingbird get in my house...especially at night?

My first concern was for the little bird's safety. It could beat itself to death trying to escape getting caught. So I stood still looking at it for a moment before I slowly began to move towards it.

The hummingbird seemed so small and so fragile. How could he ever possibly know that I wanted to free him and not harm him. But I think he knew because he let me cup him in the palm of my hand and very gently take him outside. When I opened my hands he flew two feet away onto a branch of wisteria that grew around my back porch.

He sat on the branch for the longest time, intently looking at me. It was as if he was saying, "Thank you for caring for me!" When he began to stretch his little wings, the tears began to roll down my cheeks because the Lord began to speak to my heart.

Since God knew the deep impact that this disaster movie had made on me, He used a little hummingbird to help me deal with my trust issues, and bring further healing to my heart. Because this little hummingbird had trusted me to take care of him, he showed me that I could also trust God in the most difficult of circumstances. I was in the palm of His hand!

(I have always loved hummingbirds, but after this experience I was compelled to try and do this pastel depicting their beauty.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Such Gentleness

By Hazel Holland

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God." Psalm 42:1

When I first set out to try my hand at doing pastels years ago, I told myself that I was just "practicing" because of all the mistakes I was making in this first picture, and knew I couldn't erase.

I think I was impressed to draw a mother deer with her baby fawn because it was a reminder of the love and closeness that I had always longed for as a child, but never received. There was something about the gentleness of this mother deer that helped me understand that this was God's intention for His creation from the very beginning...

But sin has left its ugly scars on God's creation so that our longings for love and closeness are not always realized when we need them the most. However, God knew this would happen, and so He chose to enter into our world and become the love and closeness that we all need.

Now, through the Spirit, we can enter into an intimate relationship with God and receive His love...a love that our souls have always longed for. Now, like the deer that seeks to drink from streams of water, we can drink from His streams of Living Water where we will never thirst again.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another Place in Time

By Hazel Holland

This is the last of the water colors that I painted in 1967 while I was confined to a TB hospital waiting for the results of the sputum test to see if I had contracted TB from the previous tenant who had lived in our apartment.

That was the longest two months of my life! As you can see I escaped to another place in time where life was simple and more carefree.

Carry Me Forever

By Hazel Holland

Here's another water color that I painted during the same period of time that I painted "Woodland Wonders"... over 40 years ago. I was 22 at the time and had only been married 2 months when I was sent away to this TB hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan for 2 months.

I needed Jesus to be my Shepherd and carry me through this very difficult time in my life. I know He did.

He will carry you through difficult times in your life, too. Even though you may not feel His touch you can enter into His Heart and know that He is your faithful Shepherd, and His love will carry you through.

Going Through Deep Waters

By Hazel Holland

Like the other water color paintings that I've recently shared from my past, I also painted this one at a time in my life when I felt like I was going to drown in my grief.

But as I began to paint this picture I remembered the following words of Scripture: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you" (Isaiah 43:2).

Although it felt like I was not able to breathe, I did. Although it felt like I was going to drown, I didn't. Although I felt helpless and hopeless and didn't know how I was going to be able to keep my head above water, the Lord became my strength and held my head high. He lifted me up out of the pit and placed my feet on firm ground. He brought me out into the spacious place of His heart where there was plenty of room for me to learn to begin to trust in His love...

(You might notice that I signed my last name as "Lonberg" in this painting... that was before I had my name changed back to what it is now).

Islands of Power

By Hazel Holland

Here's another watercolor that I painted over thirty years ago that I found hidden away in a box in the garage. Apparently I had painted several abstract watercolors at the time as I struggled to make meaning out of painful realities that were governing my life.

When I looked at this picture the other day I was immediately reminded of a post that I had written back in 2008 about God's failsafe power system. So I decided to rewrite the article and post it along with this painting on my "Sound the Trumpet blog" at the link below, because God has redeemed my past.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Broken Pieces of My Life

By Hazel Holland

I found eight more watercolors that I painted over 30 years ago stashed away in that dusty old box in my garage... I'm kind of embarrassed to post this one here because it not only reveals that contemporary art is NOT my forte, but it also exposes my past brokenness.

In my struggle to find meaning out of the pain and heartbreak of divorce, I decided to paint the confusing mixture of feelings I was experiencing inside. This painting depicts the many layers within my heart that needed healing. At the time they were being torn apart and ripped into irregular shaped pieces. The colors used represent the various emotions I was experiencing at the time...

The dark shades of green, brown, and black at the bottom of the painting represent my depression. But the worse feelings of all were my unending feelings of hopelessness and abandonment that stretched out in lengthy plateaus...

The layers of blue represent my feelings of isolation and rejection that I had towards myself. Since blue is a cool color I chose it to represent the cold and harsh feelings I had toward myself from an early age. I didn't know who I was because I had not yet experienced the intimacy of knowing Jesus through the Spirit, neither had I yet been overwhelmed by the love in the Father's heart for me.

The red represents Christ's blood and His love for me that covers my sins. This was painted more from my knowledge of the Scriptures, than from my life in the Spirit. Although He knew me, I didn't yet know Him. Although I loved Jesus Christ, I didn't yet KNOW Him personally.

The layers of blue and red shades together depict the struggle I was having in allowing God to come into my desert places of deep brokenness. The thick walls (blue colors) that I had erected to protect my heart also kept me from experiencing God's heart for me.

The lighter colors represent my moments of catching a fleeting glimpse of the "light", and hoping that one day it would be more than just a glimpse. I wanted to feel joy again. The light colors of pink represented faith.

I wanted to believe that as soon as I began to heal from my rejection and abandonment issues the walls would come down. So the painting depicts the hope I had in the mist of my despair. Although I couldn't see through the darkness at the time, I painted the lighter shades, hoping that one day the clouds of depression would vanish and reveal the warmth of the sun (Son).

The yellow and orange shades at the top of the painting represent the "Light" I was searching for. That was before I came to understand that "Light" is a Person, and joy is one of His gifts through the Spirit!

Now I'm thankful that I didn't throw this painting away because it's a reminder to me, and hopefully to anyone who reads this post that God is faithful! He will more than finish the good work He has begun in you and I.

He will more than heal all of our broken places with His agape love. He will draw us to Himself with His love and offer us His heart where we can find ultimate rest in Him 24/7. His place of rest and intimacy in the Spirit is glorious we cannot keep Him to ourselves.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Music Maker

By Hazel Holland

Here's another watercolor that I painted over thirty years ago that I found stashed away in a box in the garage. It was my first try at doing contemporary art...and my last!

I remember wanting to make beautiful music in my heart in order to drown out the sadness that I felt inside. But I didn't personally know the only One who could give me the notes to play and the words to sing.

But He created a hunger inside of me for something more than what I knew. The Relentless Pursuer never gave up on pursuing me with His love. He won't give up on you either, because it's your heart that He's after.

Woodland Wonders

By Hazel Holland

Here's another water color that I painted 44 years ago while I was confined to a TB hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan for two months. Apparently I got a fungus in my lungs that looked like TB, but thankfully wasn't.

In order to lift my spirits and forget about the fact that I was wearing a mask over my nose and mouth 24/7, I escaped into the wonderful world of art where I was free to roam the woodland and joyfully take in the wonders of God's creation.

Now as I look back to that dark time in my life I am amazed that I painted a watercolor that reflects such lightness and joy. The Fall colors remind me of how much I miss the four seasons out here in California, and how I'm looking forward to enjoying them again when I move next Spring.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Finding My Rest

By Hazel Holland

As I was cleaning out my garage the other day I came across a box that contained several watercolor paintings that I did over thirty years ago. They were tucked away inside a forgotten folder because I saw little value in my work.

It's quite amazing to me now that something as beautiful as this little bird was discarded by me as having little value. As I think back to that time in my life it was probably more of a reflection of the way I saw myself rather than the way I perceived God's feathered creation.

Today as I looked at this painting it brought me great joy as I realized that I have come to find my true rest in Him alone. Jesus has become my Sabbath rest 24/7.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Legacy Art Classes

By Hazel Holland

A number of years ago I was assigned to teach art classes in an elementary school in order to determine what kind of impact creative expression might have on the academic lives of the students. By providing a safe and caring outlet for self-expression, children of various ages were able to not only access their creativity, but also able to slowly work through academic and behavioral problems, along with difficult issues in their personal lives.

The grades of failing students began to improve. Students with behavior problems became more able to control their emotions. As the student’s sense of well-being improved they began treating one another with more respect and kindness, making the classroom a more peaceful place.

Legacy Art

After seeing the positive impact that my art classes had on the lives of children, I decided to make a difference in the lives of the elderly population in nursing homes and assisted living facilities by providing them with an opportunity to express themselves creatively.

Legacy Art provides a nurturing and supportive environment for artistic self-expression that helps give seniors a renewed sense of well-being as they participate in the life-affirming pleasures of creating art from the heart.

Legacy Art will help seniors use their imagination to visually express their inner and outer world of feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Seniors may not realize it, but they have many valuable lessons to teach us from the “school of life”.

Families will treasure the legacy that their elderly loved one creates. Hopefully their art work will become a keepsake that will be worth more than a thousand words!

A Legacy Art instructor will come to your place of residence and provide weekly art instruction. Specific activities offered are water color painting, colored tissue paper painting (great for greeting cards), drawing with various mediums, plus a number of seasonal ideas & projects for creative seniors.

Contact Hazel at hazelholland@gmail.com or call (951) 505-0104 to set up a date and time for Legacy Art Classes where seniors will enjoy creating memories from their heart. Families will treasure the legacy their elderly loved ones create. Hopefully their art work will become a keepsake that will be worth more than a thousand words!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


By Hazel Holland

Praise be to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze... whose love many waters cannot quench, has destroyed every work of darkness, and purchased men and women for God through His blood. To Him be praise and honor, glory and power forever!

(For further reading about this water color painting of Jesus Christ's triumph over death see: http://artfromhisheart.blogspot.com/2008/04/lion-of-judah-has-triumphed.html