"The Interloper" by J. Chatham

"The Interloper" by J. Chatham
is available in a limited edition 11x17 print or in boxed sets of note cards. I enjoyed sketching this trio. It reminded me of the trouble I caused one of my feline companions when I moved us into the territory of another tom cat. Those invaded may crouch and study but eventually their tails fluff and fur begins flying. Yet for a brief strolling moment, the invader walks triumphant through a turf he knows is not his own!

"Snoozin" by J. Chatham

"Snoozin" by J. Chatham
"The Feline Series" contains line drawings and paintings. "Snoozin" is available in black and white note cards with envelopes. It is pairied with "The Interloper" in boxed sets of 10 cards and envelopes (5 per design). (Retail $15.)

"In the Light of the Moon" by J. Chatham

"In the Light of the Moon" by J. Chatham
Part of the "Texana Series", this design is available in prnts suitable for framing (5"x7" interior mat size, 8 " x 10" interior mat size and 10 1/2" x 16 1/2" interior mat size) and in individual large cards with enevelpes and boxed cards with envelopes (10 cards and envelopes per box retail $15.)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Life Journey

By Faith Chatham - Dec. 30, 2010

In 1941 it was 6 years before my birth.

In 1951 I longed to start first grade and when my big sisters came home for lunch they had to play school with their baby sister to console me. I learned to read and thought books should be read cover to cover without interruption. In the second, third, fourth and fifth grades, and on up into high school, I'd read by flashlight under the bed covers if mom insisted it was time to close the book, turnout the bedroom light and go to sleep.

In 1961 my father was killed suddenly in a train truck collision and my world crashed with him. It seemed the only way not to hurt that badly ever again was to not love that deeply. I spent hours sitting on the veranda, pouring out my heart and hopes to the seemingly all understanding black walnut tree in the side yard outside my bedroom window, watching light and shadows as they danced through the sycamore tree leaves projecting shapes on the century old bricks in our front walk. I listened to how loud the crickets sounded in the relative silence of the night and how bright, yet fleeting, was the light of fireflies in spring and summer. I tried to figure out what life was to be for me and what I was to be in it. Despite all the nurture and encouragement around me I felt rejected and abandoned. I was thin skinned and minor criticisms could send me on a tail spin. I tried to win acceptance by being a people pleaser, over achiever, dependable, kind and talented. I was a church group youth leader. I set out to change the world, help save the world, conqueor the world. Through baptized and believing in God, I was so into being the church that I missed out on being with God.

In 1971 I was trying to disentangle my heart from loving someone who crept up on me -- one I didn't consider a candidate to date let alone to fall in love with. The 22 years age difference and more than a little circumstance crowded out our joy. For both of us love was cloaked in mourning and denial.We didn't doubt love...but I noticed that what we loved and admired most in each other was diminished in our being together. I tried to convince God that our union was worthy to bless. He never did.

During that decade, work was my solace. I co-founded a community theatre in my home town, worked at the hometown newspaper, ran my own creative shop, exhibited and sold my paintings, owned and operated an art gallery and teaching studio. I wandered the woods with my border collie, sat on the shores of Lake o the Pines and Caddo Lake writing and reading poetry, painting and listening to the waves and seeking God and wondering if what I saw and perceived of life was what it really was or was supposed to be about. Mostly I wondered why love which didn't fit wouldn't release my heart and dreams and why someone who was miles away was more present than most folks who were actually in the same room with me. Despite my wishing it were otherwise, no new love could get through to me because neither I, nor my former lover, totally willed to severe the cord, though determined to stay away. Love and futility seemed one and the same.

In 1981 I closed my ad agency/creative shop in Longview and moved back to Arlington, worked at another newspaper and returned to college full-time. I'd just completed an internship at MHMR before leaving East Texas. I'd realized it would be futile to pursue a MA in psychology because, observing the misuse of confidentiality laws to protect incompetence and abuse by mental health practioners rather than for benefit of clients, I'd realized I'd probably be a whistle blower if I worked in clinical care settings. I studied Urban Affairs, communication, international political and economic systems. I earned a second bachelors degree in Russian Language and Soviet and Eastern European Area Studies. I studied in Russia and Eastern Europe two summers and spent part of a summer doing research at Stanford's Hoover Institute of War and Peace. I used a travel grant for intergovermental studies.

In 1991, I was a consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Recently out of grad school, I lived on an international stage, was connected with friends and acquaintances around the world. God was reopening my heart like a flower, regenerating closed off dreams and talents and sustaining me as I struggled in adjusting to living without my best friend and confident and my mother, who had both recently exited this world through long, multi-yeared journeys with the same invasive form of lung cancer. During this decade, business colleagues, priests, bishops and missionaries filled my mind and daytimer. I went to seminary and was "formed" as a Fransciscan.

Usually it seemed that I had a front row seat for my own life adventures as God worked things out better than I could dream, imagine or accomplish, though most folks seemed to try to give me the credit.Eastern Europe and Central America consumed much of my attention.

Despite hard work and success I couldn't get adequate affordable health care and my body suffered.

In 2001 I suffered massive neurological and physiological damage. By the end of the year I was totally disabled and my biggest life crutch -- work was ripped from my survivors toolbag. Doctor after doctor diagnoised and labeled me permanently and totally disabled. I never accepted either the totally or permanently label/prognosis.

The monastic journey ended abruptly when the Bishop took on more responsibility than he could handle and he delegated oversight to those who were unprepared and/orill-equipped to respect the vows and vocations of others.

In this decade, without medical doctors giving reason to expect much improvement, I've had to relearn basic life skills and processes, regain speech and cognitive functioning, reteach myself (with help of an incredibly patient friend) English, studying it like it was a foreign and not my native language. I've again begun to paint, write and advocate during this decade, though not as much or as smoothly or consistently as before. I lost the ability to drive and dance but experienced heightened gifts of mysticism and intercessory and contemplative prayer.

In late 2008 I was surprised to discover the ability to set aside fear. I was astounded by romantic love from a most unexpected dearly cherished old friend. I found myself enabled to receive love and to love more more deeply than ever in my life. I came to trust in God's love and in my own, and to receive, despite the fear of knowing that whether through separation of death or a decision, mutual or imposed by another, parting eventually is the reality of all love relationships while we inhabit these mortal bodies.We knew we were God's gift to each other. Instead of my loving another romantically, I let God love another through me romantically. Each time we hit a snag I let God reshape me. Instead of my trying to convince God, this time I let God gift us. It felt and appeared like it would be forever. Our dreams, hearts and hopes conjoined and then diverted.

2009 was a rough year emotionally and physically. I had five eye surgeries and had to begin relying some of the time on an electric chair. The presence of that chair made me more determined than ever to get to the place where I'll no longer need to use it. I'm not there yet, but there is now a glimmer which builds my hope. I haven't started painting again yet, but expect to next year.

By late 2010 I'd progressed to using a cane as much as the chair or walker. Occasionally I walk briefly without pain with neither. The love of my life (thus far) returned in friendship in late 2009, and we grew to a really good place spiritually and romantically this past year. This month he encountered someone else who literally takes his breath away and he hers. There is no room in his life for a former lover, nor in mine.

As 2011 approaches, I'm acutely aware that I am richly blessed. I see how far I've come cognitively, mentally, emotionally, spiritually in this past decade. It was the most physically confining yet emotionally expansive decade of my life. I fought and worked continually, unrelently to re learn to walk, to speak, to think, to write, to reason and to love and receive love. I've almost lived the life of a recluse with only a handful of friends within my inner chambers, yet it seems that thousands of folks I've never (or barely) heard of, think they know me! The battle is far from over, but as I assess where I was a decade ago and where I am now. I have hope for a future where I'll cast off fraility and experience stamina and health instead of premature senility and restriction. After five eye surgeries in one year I'm at last able to read novels for the sheer joy of it. I hope to shed the pain and regain the ability to walk and stroll for the fun of it. I miss dancing and have never ceased to long and dream of dancing. This month I read five novels just for fun. I hadn't read a novel for fun in years

Ten years ago there was little hope of getting where I am now. I'll let God give me new hope, fresh dreams, his anointing and his blinders and his vision, and those he chooses for me to experience his life with.

It has taken many decades for me to entrust my heart and soul to love. In 2008 when I was terrified , I poured my heart out to God. The little girl who'd huddled in Aunt Pole's stair well while Daddy's funeral was being planned, pinching myself hoping I'd wake up and find it wasn't real and he wasn't dead reminded God how very much love hurts. As I faced loving, God assured the woman I'd become that some day, whether by death or mortal acts and decision, there would be a parting. He didn't tell me he'd protect me from dissapointment, sorrow or hurt. But he promised me that if I'd receive his love and let him love another through me, God assured me when the time came, however soon or however long it might be, God promised me he'd be here, would take my hand in his and guide me through it. I hope the cord gets severed this time, though I can't say I don't love him. Sometimes we must be emptied before we can be truly filled. Instead of discarding, maybe we can release former lovers to God and trust that in God, there is no blessing to one or two at the expense of another, but rather to each their own special gift from God.

He is faithful and present. I'm as inquisitive and eager to learn today as I was 60 years ago. I'm less impetutious but not really that exceptionally much more patient. Instead of ploughing ahead I usually soak in listening prayer and look for the path where God clears out the way. I've learned to release those I love to God, whether they are near or physically, mentally or emotionally far away. I know God doesn't bless one of us by failing the other. The Father doesn't give to one child at the expense of another. If we give and receive the fathers love to each other and we're led in different paths, his blessing is for all, not for just one or two or a few out of many.

I expect this next decade to be the best in my life thus far. My joy is not dependent upon how another or others make me feel. Love is now to me a presence that transcends human acts or events.

Faith Chatham receives intercessory prayer requests at prayerephesians@gmail.com
Intercessions will be offered.
Messages may not be answered but prayers will be offered.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tissue Paper

By Faith Chatham - excerpt from Sacred Spaces - copyright 2009
I tell God: ‘I don’t understand?
Don’t know
what I should feel,
or do?’
Wonder if I could do
what “I should”
if I only knew!

I’ve asked you
to help me
put it into context,
to help me
Yet, for some reason
you can’t
or won’t,
and I’m left wondering
why I still seek your soul
when you flee
from mine!

I railed at God,
and asked Him
to “take this love away.”

He told me “No!”
He reminded me
that I’d told Him
if He ‘honored me
with some
of His love for you,
I’d honor it,
and you,
as long as He chose
to trust me with it!’

Now you’re gone.
You seem to have moved far beyond
loving me,
yet my hurt and anger
gets replaced regularly
with a glimmer
of God’s incredible
love for you!

I talked to God about “pride” one day.
He told me that “this time, your pride
is not the most important thing!”

When the words I had for you
weren’t very kind,
He filled me with His words
and called you “his innocent!”

O Magnificent Betrayer of my heart,
O Sweet Obsession of my soul,
I wonder how long God will fill me
fresh every morning
with prayers for you?

Will my soul ever stop
for yours?

Will I be able to take some of the trust
and hope
and joy
I knew in you
and wrap it gently
in tissue paper
and lay it in the “keep chest”
until we reach that other world
where love knows no boundaries
and does not
grow cold?

when your love for me
has gone dormant
does mine
still tremble?

For now, I have to trust
that in God’s time
I’ll cease to weep
when I think
of what we shared
and what we miss
in the silence
of these hours.
-- by Faith Chatham
Excerpt from SACRED SPACES, copyright 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Did those dreams I had in childhood bring me where I am today

Excerpt from Sacred Spaces by Faith Chatham - copyright 2009

It feels good today to have expectations
of the “normal” that used to be.
I slept as long as it took to wake up,
knowing there were no missed commitments.
Refreshed, thanksgiving came easily from my lips.
Thanks were the first thoughts I spoke this morning.
I didn’t ache as much as yesterday when I awoke.

I don’t expect to weep today.
I used to take myself for granted.
It feels good today to have expectations
of the “normal” that used to be.

Didn’t think I’d lose myself in “some other”
or venture past “simply caring”
into that nebulous joy-filled world of mutual need.
It feels good today to have expectations
of the “normal” that used to be.

I’m glad there was no need
for prayers for you when I awoke.
You were in the peaceful recesses of my soul,
at a safe distance;
yet I know you’re still within my heart.

God knows I want Him to keep you safe, vibrantly alive,
and free to be fully yourself, as He wants you to be.
I didn’t ache as much today when I awoke.
Your name was not the first word I spoke.

It was such a relief to find
that recognizing God’s touch
was the first thought upon my mind.
I heard raindrops falling regularly
in syncopation from the roof.
I remember hearing that sound
in childhood and in youth.

Through windows streaked with rain,
I’d dream of finding love.
I let those drops of rain mingle through my mind,
as I wander in memory like the steady tempo
on the porch swing, and an ultra-understandingly wise walnut tree.

As real as the adolescent who was in it,
that porch-swing was filled with thoughts of hesitance,
confidence and speculation about what I’d find,
of what “someday” would be like,
of who I’d want to love, and “what I’d want to be.”

Did dreams bring me to this place?
I wonder if those dreams were of what I am today?
Thunder-storm accented evenings and afternoons in the Texas sun
moulded wishes into intentions and plans of “what to do”.
I remember “planning”, “thinking” and “scheming”
of how I could become:
an artist, writer, investigative reporter, and a poet.

I dreamt of loving, in various dimensions,
with words and deeds and thoughts,
expressed with pastel, brush, pen and action.
I wanted to be tender to friends and strangers,
serve the hapless and the free.

I wanted to work and make a difference
to the brave and to the weak.
I wanted to discover life and share it,
touching others I did meet with simplicity and compassion,
to be a marvel and inspiration with selfless humility.

I didn’t understand what it is to lose yourself in loving,
to be ground under another's foot,
to measure love in time and minutes,
or balancing love and giving
with other things someone might need!

I didn’t think of you being the first thought
I’d think upon awaking,
or of the need to change one’s plans or pace
to spend a fleeting minute with the special person
who sheds iridescent lustre upon my face.
I didn’t think someone could make such a difference
in how I feel, in what I think, or how I dream.

Today upon awaking,
it felt good to have my first thoughts
be thoughts to God of thanksgiving.

Wherever you are,
beyond my vision and my reach,
though you weren’t the first words upon my lips today,
you are nestled warm within the crevices of my soul.

I’m at peace knowing you are safe in Him.
Prayers for you are natural.
On simple days, you intermingle in essence with my thoughts,
like dreams I dreamt on that veranda,
moments mundane, extraordinary and spectacular,
you exceed the wildest speculation of my youth.

I grew old and ceased to trust and dream and care.
I’ve grown callouses against the abrasions of others’ souls.
When you told me you were “harmless”,
instinctively I knew that was not true.
You are one of few among the many
who can deeply disappoint me.
Somehow, when you said you were harmless,
I thought, “Beware! He can probably make you care!”

I didn’t dream you’d really want me.
I didn’t expect to be pulled that deeply,
through the mundane and the splendor,
feeling neither you nor I need to hide nor to cover
the reality of our lives or of our psyche.

I know you meant everything you told me.
You believed the words when you said them.
You weren’t just “fishin’ ” for your comfort,
spinning lines to draw me in.
Though I don’t know how much
of what you felt then is how you feel today,
I know when you said it, you really meant it.
I find comfort, through the silence,
to know that then you sincerely cared.

Discovering this morning that your name
was not the first thought upon my awaking,
lets me dream someday I might return to “being normal”
since the love who found me
withdrew and stays aloof and out of reach.

I know you meant it when you said it.
Might still mean it, though silence makes it hard to truly know.
Maybe you swing between reality and misconceptions,
fear of losing yourself in love again or passion,
or something you sense but I do not see.

I saw a dream;
You feared a demon.
You fled and left me to fight him here alone.
In the evening and in the morning,
I fought to make sense of what I found
in loving and in your leaving.

The birds chirped outside my window.
Rain washed the earth as I pondered
what I’d dreamed and what I am.
The sun shone upon my frustration.
Water washed upon me like baptism.
Instead of despair, I was filled
with a different kind of hope.

I pray for you, my darling,
as I did before we ventured past friendship into love.
I’m thankful that we were naked for those moments,
not afraid of rejection despite the failure, recent or in our youth.

Prospects for the future escape me.
Them I do not know.
This is true, for you and me, individually or collectively,
we know in our season we did not reject
and were not rejected,
did not scorn the other’s basic truth.

We might not walk together easily,
may not speak or touch again,
yet even silence cannot reprove
the reality of acceptance,
of reverence, and of joy.

We found love, succulent and tender,
if for but just a season,
tasted hope and trust and passion,
letting it revive us, if but for a moment!
It reverberates through the present,
whether we want it or whether we don’t.

Your name wasn’t the first word I spoke this morning.
Knowing that, I have hope that someday
I’ll return to “normal”.
Yet I wonder if the dreams I had in childhood
brought me to where I am today.
-- by Faith Chatham
copyright 2009 (excerpt from Sacred Spaces)

"Rose" in pink

"Rose" in pink
I love roses and draw them in all colors, sizes and stages of bloom. The "Exotic and Domestic Flora Series" includes roses in all color schemes. It is a decorator's delight because the tones vary to match almost any fabric or wall paper scheme. Contact the artist for more information.

"Tea Time" at dusk by J. Chatham

"Tea Time" at dusk by J. Chatham
"Tea Time" is available in soft pastel to reflect the soft colors of a late afternoon setting sun.

"Tea Time" by J. Chatham

"Tea Time" by J. Chatham
I like to have a tea pot polished and a crisp starched table cloth handy so I can be ready to brew a warm cup of tea for friends who stop by. I didn't actually have a bouquet of magnolia blossoms when I painted this, but they were etched in my memory. We had a large magnolia tree in our yard in the house where I grew up in Marshall. Texas. "Tea Time" is available in cards, boxed 10 cards and envelopes per package. Usually it is grouped with another floral deisgn and there are five cards of each design. (Retail $15.)

"In the Puple Haze of the Moon" by J. Chatham

"In the Puple Haze of the Moon" by J. Chatham
A companion but with more blue/purple tones, this design is available in all the options as "In the Light of the Moon" (see above).

"Texas Stallion" by J. Chatham

"Texas Stallion" by J. Chatham
is one of many horse prints and designs available in cards and prints. This dynamic black stallion captures the spirit of the Texas pioneers who migrated to Texas before it became a Republic or joined the United States. As the blue shadow of the current State of Texas fades into the blue and purple of the distant mountains, the boundaries of the Republic of Texas were far north of the current state line.

"Tulips" by J. Chatham

"Tulips" by J. Chatham

"Tulips" with bronze by J. Chatham

"Tulips" with bronze by J. Chatham

"Tulips" with Green by J. Chatham

"Tulips" with Green by J. Chatham

"Cattails" by J. Chatham

"Cattails" by J. Chatham

Designing for Designers

Designing for Designers
When decorating, frequently we find paintings and prints which we like, but the colors clash with our room's color schemes. J. Chatham designs print series so that you can choose the image you like and tailor the colors within the print to coordinate with your color scheme. Here are examples of how the "Autumn Leaves" prints varies one image to adapt to different color schemes.

"Autumn Leaves in Fire" by J. Chatham

"Autumn Leaves in Fire" by J. Chatham

"Autumn Leaves in Yellow" by J. Chatham

"Autumn Leaves in Yellow" by J. Chatham

"Autumn Leaves" in Bronze by J. Chatham

"Autumn Leaves" in Bronze by J. Chatham

"Autumn Leaves in Green" by J. Chatham

"Autumn Leaves in Green" by J. Chatham