My name is Suzanne and I am writing this blog to share my life experience as an artist, designer and person of faith.
It is my hope to encourage, motivate, uplift and support those who seek to use their God given gifts and talents to serve.
For it is by God we are all endowed with such gifts, and talents, and it is to God's good work that they can be returned.
All the artwork and content posted on this site is the property of Suzanne VanRaemdonck. There is a registered copyright and trademark and cannot be reproduced without specific contractual agreement given by the artist and author.
Well, now that summer is half over, and all my gardening issues have been tended to, hopefully I'll be able to be a bit more diligent about keeping my blog up. Actually a gardeners job is never done...at least not till around the end of October here in Michigan.
Aside from all the work I have been doing outdoors, just last weekend I wrote a letter to the District Superintendent of my church to request becoming a candidate in the Local Pastor program in my area.
I have been feeling the call to ministry for a very long time but apparently was not completely ready till now. God's timing is perfect and although sometimes I wish I would have gotten started several years ago when I first began to feel the nudge, I would have begun without all the experiences God has led me through since then and boy have they made me stronger. Both in my faith, my marriage, and as an individual.
I will be teaching my first ever Bible study class this Fall at my church. It is going to be about women's roles in the Bible and the roles we play in the church today, as well as how we carry over those roles into contemporary life as Christians. I am very excited to be given the opportunity to lead in this capacity and can't wait to get started. I am also going to have the chance to deliver my first sermon in my church on August 8Th. It's really funny because I don't like to have attention brought to myself, I don't like to get up in front of people and I don't much like to have people looking at me. But when I think about speaking for God, I feel no fear. I am filled with humble enthusiasm and I have a sense that this is what I was always meant to do. It is the best feeling in the world.
So for all of you out there who are still searching for your purpose, I encourage you to keep digging deep inside yourself. Ask yourself questions like: What do I really love to do? But more importantly Why do I love to do it? If your answer is "Because it makes me feel good." Then you need to go on to: Why does it make me feel good? What specifically about this makes me feel good? And keep praying, the answers will come.
Image Title: "Wild Child" by Eric VanRaemdonck All rights reserved. Available as Fine Art Notecard at www.ArtisticNatureDotCom.etsy.com
Well I have had yet another head spinning month, and I must say that God does work in the most amazing and mysterious ways!!
I could not write before this because since the middle of May I have been planning a very unexpected trip.
For those of you who read my blog, (bless you) you may recall that I mentioned that my son was going to be graduating this year with his PhD in neuroscience. And that he was receiving an award for the work he has done both with his research and for being published in a science journal before he graduated. He was to be honored at UCLA on May 18Th and because of the fact that my husband and I are full time caregivers to my husband's dad, plus the fact that I had just been to CA. in January, though it broke my heart, I just didn't think I could be there.
My ex-husband who lives in CA. emailed an invitation to my husband and I for a dinner he and his wife would be hosting in David's honor after the award ceremony. Well this really drove home the thought that I couldn't be there and I had to email them back to tearfully tell them so. A couple of day's later, I received another email from my "ex" with yet another invitation. He said that they knew how much it would mean to David to have both his mother and little sister there on such an occasion and that they would like to extend the invitation to fly my daughter and myself out in time for the ceremony. They wanted this to be a surprise for our son so I couldn't write anything on my blog until after the event, just in case my son should read it.
Soooo, We had a wonderful time, the expression on my son's face when we first came pulling up in the car and he saw me was priceless. This was the first time I ever had the opportunity to see my son speak publicly and he was amazing! Of course none of us understood a word of it but we knew it was some very heady stuff. So my son's a genius!! No Really.
I just want to say that if there are any of you out there who are contemplating divorce, or who are already divorced and there are kids involved, just remember, your children aren't getting a divorce, you are. My "ex" and I agreed that we would always do all that we could to keep our divorce from hurting our son as much as we were possibly able. We stayed as friendly and amicable as we possibly could under the circumstances. When we did disagree, we kept it between us and NEVER used our son as a pawn to try to turn him against one another to serve our wounded pride. As a result my sons family simply expanded when each of his parents remarried and he had more people to love and help raise him. The results speak for themselves.
Our son is not only very smart, but he is an easy going guy who doesn't take himself or anything else for that matter too seriously. (Well clearly he does take some things very seriously.) He enjoys his life and the relationships that God has blessed him with. When he was 3 years old and I was a single mom, I entered him in a small family run preschool. The woman who ran it said "I've never seen such a well balanced child". Put you're children first and see how far they will go.
I also want to offer my public thanks to my ex-husband and his wife Leon & Annette(even though they told me to stop thanking them) for a lifetime of mutual respect, consideration and commitment to our son.
April was an unbelievable month. I haven't been able to create a new post since Easter! During the month of April my father in-law was diagnosed with pneumonia and spent about a week in the hospital again. He is back home and doing fine now. Although each incident seems to take a bit more out of him.
My mother was in and out of the hospital 3 times! She also developed pneumonia after having back surgery. She is doing okay now, but I am not certain of her needs or how to address them from the other side of the country.
My daughter turned 21 and later announced that she is thinking about moving in with her boyfriend.
My son (who will be graduating this year with his PhD. in neuroscience) announced that he was interviewing at Harvard for a position in a Lab doing research for his "Post Doc" work. He was then offered the position, which he has now accepted! My ex-husband surprised me with an email invitation for a dinner he and his wife will be hosting after the award ceremony that will be held in our sons honor at UCLA.
We did our taxes and got them paid!
And I let my pastor know that I have definitely decided to follow the call and pursue an education to become a "Local Pastor" He then offered to let me deliver my first sermon in the month of May which unfortunately I will have to take a rain check on since I will be in L.A. at the time. Then last Sunday, he surprised me with an announcement to our whole church about my decision.
My head is still spinning! Hopefully I will be able to keep up a bit better this month and make more than one post. Oh...I also believe I will be starting on a new commissioned painting for someone of their family home this month. Who knows what May will bring.
B.T.W. The image you see above is a note card reproduced from one of my husband's original oil paintings. The title is "Respect". It is available through our shop at artisticnaturedotcom.etsy.com. Please stop in and leave us a message to say you came by.
This is the house my husband's father built along with his father,(my husband's grand father)which along with caring for dad we now maintain. I made this painting for him for his 86th birthday. He was delighted.
I don't know how it happened, but it seems to me that our society has become dishonorable to our elders. We push them to the background as if they are invisable. I guess knowone wants to look at getting old so they are simply swept out of the way. They are kept apart from families and society, sent to nursing homes and assisted living facilaties because knowone has the time or the room for them in their lives. How Very Sad.
My father in-law turned 88 this month. By moving into his home with him, and taking on the role as his sole care givers, we have made great sacrifices so that he would be able to stay in his own home. Not the least of which has been butting heads with family members over differences of openion about the handling of his affairs and household. This is unfortunately more the norm rather than the exception, as I have discovered in talking to others who have cared for their elder parents, as well as the professionals who are involved with helping us care for dad.
Now it is begening with my own mother who is all the way on the other side of the country from me. She had 6 children. Two of them have passed away and none of us still lives in the same state as her, or each other. My sister and I are begening to deal with which direction to take for her care. She is 82 and has recently had surgery on her back. I am glad that my husband and I have always stuck to our convictions about working at home so that we are now in a position to do this for Dad. Now there just needs to be 2 of me.
Today the topic of our service at church was, Greed.
I have to admit I am a little confused over this in regard to money. On the one hand we're taught that we're supposed to be satisfied with what we have, content and happy with whatever the Lord provides us with. But then you have someone like Joel Osteen who teaches us that God wants us to have a prosperous and bountiful life, which I believe is true. I think it is important that each of us strives to be all that God intended us to be. So you have to wonder, "If I am stepping out in faith and facing my fears to live a life that serves God, but I don't see any fruit from my efforts...am I on the right track? Did I understand Him correctly? Have I made a mistake?
Is it wrong to aim higher? To think bigger?
If that were true we would never have computers, heart transplants, or huge ministries that reach people all over the globe via television instead of just small town churches.
I would imagine the problem lies not with the desire to aim higher or think bigger, but with what you do with what you have, or what you want to do with what you hope to have that matters. Of course we must ask ourselves...Why do I want this?
I think as human beings we cannot completely let go of feelings of greed, ego, etc. All we can do is try to keep them in check.
I guess the question is...How do we find that middle ground of trusting that God has us in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, doing exactly what he intended for us to do, if what we are attempting to do doesn't seem to be going anywhere?
I welcome your input and opinions, I'm always trying to grow.
New Original Acrylic Painting by Suzanne VanRaemdonck c.2009. Title: Stepping Stone 9" x 12" Now Available. (Price $105.00) Also available as a note card. (Price $4.00) To make a Purchase Go To www.artisticnature.com. and click on the link for my Etsy shop.
DISCOURAGEMENT. Discouragement is a poisonous thing. Once it gets inside you it is hard to shake. But shake it you must.
I believe that God's goodness cannot get through to you to it's fullest when you allow discouragement to stand between you and Him.
Psalm 37:4 "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
What does your heart desire? What would you do with your life, if you knew you could not fail?
I hope you like my new little painting, and that it's message of "Welcome" helps to keep away feelings of discouragement in your life. All of the artwork you see here on my blog can be purchased in my Etsy shop. This can be easily accessed by visiting our website www.ArtisticNature.com and clicking on the link there. If you buy greeting cards of any kind, I hope you will choose to purchase from us, rather than from some large impersonal company. This serves no purpose than to make the already rich company richer! I ask you to join us in a win-win commitment, which will sustain our business, and help both you and I, to help others at the same time.
This time of year I can hardly stand another cold dreary day. This is the time when I begin to look forward to the warmer days of spring and summer and begin to think about flowers. Both the ones I have planted in the past, and the ones I hope to plant this year...heavy sigh.
To me flowers are a gift from God. They bring so much joy with their beauty and fragrance. I could sit outside all day just gawking at them. Of course every time I go out to enjoy them, I can never do so without also thinking...hmmm, I need to prune this, and pull that weed, and may be a water feature over here, or a new bed over there. My son once said to me "Gosh mom, can't you just enjoy what's here?". Gardening is sort of like painting for me. I can always find another spot for more color, texture, or interest. I'm always trying to improve.
I love this little poem, and it is so true for me.
The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, You are nearer God's heart in a garden, Than anywhere else on earth.
Speaking of my son...I just found out that he has won an award for his outstanding work in Neuro Science at U.C.L.A. Which is where he will attain his Ph.D. soon. Of course I can't mention my son without also saying that my daughter, who is only 20years old is already the manager of the store she has been working at for the last year or so.
Last week my daughter and I flew to California to visit my mother. My daughter was born there, but hadn't been back for a visit since she was 9, she is now 20 years old. I was very excited to show her around. Unfortunately it was cold and rainy the whole week we were there. We still managed to have some fun together though.
My mother is in her 80's and not doing so well. She is in a lot of pain. It's hard to live so far away from her now. It is also hard to have both my father in-law and my mother, hitting the age that they need so much care at around the same time. Thank God for my sister. Although she also lives in a different state than our mother, she & I will work between us to make sure that Mom is cared for.
On a happier note. This Tuesday night I will be speaking about "Using Your Gifts & Talents To Serve Others" at the Swartz Creek Women's Club. I am really looking forward to it and am honored to have been invited by the daughter & wife of the town Mayor, Penny & Boots Abrams. I will be showing some of my newest paintings and will have some fine art note cards available for sale. It will be a lot of fun! I'll let you know how it turns out.
When something as tragic as the recent earth quake in Haiti happens, it begs the question, "why"?. Why would a God who is good and loving allow such pain and suffering? None of us can answer this question. But my pastor (Jeff Jaggers) put it pretty well. He said... "I do not believe that God is responsible for this tragic disaster-just as I do not believe that God was responsible for hurricane Katrina or Michael Jackson's death. What is good is that the church (which is of God) will use this opportunity to incarnate God's love and care for the people of Haiti. It may not get much (any) press, but we will still bring help and hope to these folks whom God loves."
We all need to do what we can to help the people of Haiti, keep them in your prayers and take whatever action you can.
There are days as a full time elder care giver, when you just feel like you don't know how much more you can take. Two days before Christmas this year my father in law had a T.I.A. (a small stroke). We called for an ambulance and he was taken to the hospital where they admitted him and he remained until a couple of days after Christmas. Usually the T.I.A's only last 15 minutes to an hour or so. This one lasted around four days. He has come back to us a bit less himself. He is having a harder time understanding things and his incontinence has increased. He sleeps most of the day now, and his motor skills are not as sharp as they were before this incident. He has become weaker and my husband has to bear most of his weight when raising and lowering him in and out of his bed to the wheelchair. Eric's knees and back are beginning to hurt him after 3 years of doing this job. My husband will be 59 this month and I am concerned for his health and well being.
Having said all that, I am still glad we chose to take care of dad ourselves. He is happy in his own home and there are things he looks at each day that I know give him a lot of comfort. The cost of elder care within a full time care facility is astronomical, and lets face it...when you get old who would you rather have there to care for you? Someone you love and you know loves you and has your best interest in their heart? Or a stranger who is being paid? What would you give to know that your adult child wants to care for you? I believe we are giving dad everything a person of his age, condition and circumstance could ever possibly hope to have on this earth. We should all be so blessed. It would be difficult if not impossible for most people to do this job the way we do, but because we have been self employed and work at home we can now be here for dad. However it is a struggle to try to take care of him and all his medical needs, as well as run a household and two businesses. But God blesses us and we manage to make it month by month.
I find great peace and deep feelings of warmth and security in the simplest of things. Like the sun shining through our window, lighting up the vase of flowers my son gave me for my birthday.
God speaks...you just have to pay attention.
Hang on to your joy wherever you find it. Suzanne.
I love small towns. I find them quaint and comforting in a big world. I also love old buildings, and old houses. My tastes seem to lean toward anything prior to the 1950's. It seems that it was right around that time they started making cookie cutter houses and leaving out all the fine details that gave buildings character and charm. I have in fact decided to dedicate my art to honoring small towns and vintage buildings. I have started with Flushing Michigan, which is a very quaint little town. It is picturesque with a beautiful park and gorgeous old Victorian homes lining the streets. I have painted the Main Street, as well as some of the beautiful buildings that house current businesses. Like a dentist's office and the florist that made it's home in an old 1800's Victorian. I also painted a classic old barbershop that I have always admired. Besides being a painter, I am a gardener, and included some paintings of the sweet gardens carefully nurtured by loving hands. Above are some examples of my work. You can see more by visiting our website at www.artisticnature.com.
I plan to expand to other small towns in Michigan and hopefully someday, I will travel to small towns all over America painting their beautiful old homes, buildings and of course gardens. Have a great day and God Bless.