Category Archives: icons

God’s Extravangance

“The heavens declare the Glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork .” Psalm 19:1

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The Sheer Extravagance of God

Going through a month’s snaps to find images which represent our lives for the last month, I always have to include some close ups of plants I have noticed and delighted in.

The thought, ‘the sheer extravagance of God’, came to me as I picked one of the blooms from a Floss Silk Tree which flower here in November. The trees become huge masses of pink flowers before their leaves form.  Their trunks have large thorns like medieval armor.

God is extravagant not only in the beauty of what he has created but also in the huge variety. My mind is astounded and gives thanks this Thanksgiving for how God provides for us so well.

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One of the stories this month was of a woman in my bible study class deciding that she wanted to give back a turkey to the homeless. She had as a child received a Thanksgiving turkey because her family was poor and she wanted to give back, now in her seventies, and she could afford it. She asked if I would help her get the turkey and deliver it when the time came. Well she talked to friends about what she was doing and slowly more people came alongside her donating for turkeys.

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Well, the outcome was we bought 565lbs of turkeys and delivered them for Thanksgiving to a charity called Turning Points in Bradenton.  It was God’s extravagance, each time we thought we had fulfilled the money collected, there was still more left over and we returned to the freezer to pick out some more turkeys!

 

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Christine completed a commission of our Lady of Knock, a five by three foot painting for a school library, which was shipped out this month. The story of a vision appearing to a group of people in the Irish town of Knock, is reported by the Roman Catholic Saints website, as:

‘The apparition in County Mayo in Ireland of Our Lady of Knock is reported to have occurred on the evening of August 21, 1879, the vigil of the octave of the feast of the Assumption. Those who witnessed the miracle ranged in age from five years old to seventy-five. IMG_0305

The apparition was described as follows: “Our Lady was wearing a large, brilliant crown and clothed in white garments. On her right was Saint Joseph, his head inclined toward her and on her left Saint John the Evangelist. To the left of Saint John was an altar on which stood a cross and a lamb.” Standing only a few feet off the ground, the Blessed Virgin wore a white cloak and was described by witnesses as being incredibly beautiful. She wore a bright golden crown, and appeared to be praying with her eyes looking toward heaven with her arms bend in front of her with her palms facing inward.’

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For Christine, this commission has been yet another wonderful opportunity to learn more about the different ways God has interacted with His church. The different streams of the church have such a rich history of how God has chosen to make himself known. It is different for all of us and we cannot judge another’s experience, only give thanks again that God cares enough to find different avenues to connect to us, His whole church. I am sure that everyone who reads this blog could give an example of how God has made himself known to them. Perhaps through a vision, or a healing, maybe through the audible word of God, or just that quiet thought which suddenly appears in our minds which we KNOW we have to listen to and act on.

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In November one of the big events is Veterans day. Michael had the role of leading the service which was really well attended. So many people had served America in one of the five services and each one had a photograph of them dressed in their appropriate uniforms many years ago. For Michael it was a lesson to not look at the elderly as they appear today, but remember how active, dynamic and handsome they were when they were younger. We owe a huge debt to those who have gone before us and spent some of their best years fighting for the values that made America great. Now many are truly disheartened by what is happening in this country today and feel helpless as to what to do.

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The only answer I can offer is for there to be an outpouring of prayer for healing in this nation and righteous leadership.

Jesus prayed that the church would not be divided. In many ways the church has been divided and the country is divided and it is ripe for a fall, as Jesus warned in Mathew 12:25.

Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.’

PRAYERS FOR OUR NATION

Let us pray for this nation, without calling on the ‘spirit of politics’, which continues to be an idol against the Holy Spirit. “Make thy face to shine upon thine servant; save me for thy mercies sake.” Psalm 31:16  May God ‘s face shine upon our country and save us for His mercy’s sake.

As Christians we are called to be active Christians, not waiving that assignment to politicians. The spirit of politics may cover itself with the talk of righteousness but not the walk, as is being revealed now.  ” Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24

Sending you all our love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography        Christine’s Icons      Christine’s Icon Prints

 

Prayer is All

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Dear Friends and Family:

AS usual, it’s been busy down here!

We both had a trip to San Antonio, TX, in October. It was a mixed purpose trip; Michael gave a talk to a Garden Club there and also did some garden photography. Christine has an October birthday and we were grateful to be able to celebrate that at the same time.

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We managed to get some time to visit two of the early Missions there; Los Alamos and Concepcion. Los Alamos was very crowded with visitors but there was definitely a strong sense of national pride in the history of the sacrifices made there. Mission Concepcion, which is still an active parish, had a spiritual presence and simplicity I found reminiscent of a monastery.IMG_9227

An old painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the Mexican Marian visitations, hangs in the vaulted church sanctuary and particularly caught Christine’s eye as an early example of this very famous Catholic image. Christine wrote an icon of that image in the past, which is unusual, as it is mostly seen as a religious painting.

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Christine taught an icon class at St Peter and Paul Church in Bradenton which has become a regular location for an annual class.  It was a smaller intimate class which created a real closeness to the Lord as the work is undertaken in deep prayer.

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Michael continues as the Chaplain for Freedom Village and sometimes wonders how God placed him in an elderly and mostly financially secure community as a lot of his past has been with marketplace and street ministry.IMG_9010

 

Then he is reminded that we are all souls, whether rich or poor, secure or in physical danger, we all will have to stand before God and answer for our lives. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, no matter what their circumstances are.IMG_9644

Working with the elderly is certainly a good primer for what we can anticipate of our own lives in the future. In America people are living much longer lives than they used to do and 95 years is becoming more the normal life expectancy than the unusual.IMG_9777

So a question Michael hears over and over again is, ‘what is the purpose of life?’

It becomes an even more pressing question for those who are bed bound, totally dependent on others for meals, using the bathroom, staying washed and shaved, etc. The list of their dependence goes until the elderly become reliant on others for everything, like a babe in arms.

 

We are introduced to this world as infants and we are escorted from the world as senior infants. How much purpose our lives carry at the end of our independent and active years will most likely be a reflection on how much we have a relationship with God. After all, I believe that is the real purpose of our lives; to have a relationship with God.IMG_9280

For those who find themselves not believing there is a God, quite often a purpose for life is found through their children or grandchildren’s lives. Fear, confusion and anger often develops along with a pathos of not knowing why they are still here being a burden to others.

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Seeing a future continuing for one’s family within this worldly context is what we can all ponder on. But Christians are given so much more than that, we are given a future continuing on into eternity of Glory and worship, not only with our blood family but also with our spiritual family. Our spiritual family encompasses not only the living believers but also all those past. Today is ‘All Saints Day’ in the traditional streams of Christianity and it reminds us of the enormity and significance of our family. As a family member, our ‘Father God’ or ‘Papa’, always wants to hear what is on our hearts, we can always talk with Him, even if we are too old or sick to speak out loud, He will hear us. So, we will always have a purpose for our lives and the purpose is prayer. Being in relationship with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10.

Please keep us all in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.

Sending You Our Love and Prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales

Michael’s Photography                   Christine’s Icons                 Christine’s Paintings

Expectations

Dear Friends and Family:

September has been very busy.

Florida sky by Mick Hales
Florida sky by Mick Hales

 

Christine taught an icon class at St Patrick’s church in West Palm Beach. She has done two large Icons for them in the past and this was the first class she has taught there. The students worked on the Archangel Michael icon and in the short time they had turned out really good icons. Christine puts a lot of work into the preparation which enables the students to cover a lot of ground quickly. Of course, the main work involved in writing icons is the actual prayers which go on for the whole time.

Icon Class Saint Patrick's Church
Icon Class Saint Patrick’s Church
Christine Hales Icon Class
Christine Hales Icon Class

 

Christine has been commissioned to paint a large scene of ‘Our Lady of Knock’, which this time will be acrylic and not egg tempera. The scene depicts, Mary with Joseph and John. Knock is an Irish village where an apparition stayed for over two hours and was seen by a congregation of people ranging in age from 5 to 75. During that period the weather deteriorated and it rained heavily but it did not affect the apparition. The painting will be for a school library.

Michael had a fast visit for some photography to Montauk, NY. Our other large achievement was that we moved house in two separate moves, one to empty a storage unit and another to bring the major furniture over to our new home. We still have a lot of unpacking to do but are very relieved the heavy lifting is done.

New House
New House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael’s Chaplaincy work has taken him to three different charities this month which are involved with helping the homeless in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. One in particular called Harvest Home in Sarasota has been in operation for about 26 years and came directly out of Harvest Church. The church realized that feeding people was not enough and they began to provide buildings and beds for them. Initially the pastor second mortgaged his home to buy the first building. That initial risk has since enabled many people to get clear of homelessness and also restore some of the very run down housing stock in Sarasota.

 

What are you expecting, Michael?

Mick Hales Leaf
Mick Hales Leaf

 

That question kept coming into my mind as I sat in church last Sunday. Each time I answered it in my mind it just came right back up, as though God was saying to me, ‘No, wrong answer. What are you expecting, Michael.’

After a while I realized I was not expecting enough. All of my aspirations and thoughts had been very manageable by my own actions and accountability, flawed as I am. But God was asking me to name a vision far beyond my own ability. I was being remanded by God for not thinking large enough, not pushing into harnessing the power of God.

That afternoon I was preaching on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, how the two men’s situations reversed totally and irrevocably after their death’s. The sermon was based on Jesus’s warning that God really does care what we do with our riches. Riches indeed enable power, if you have the money you can buy good healthcare, good legal help, great clothes, etc, etc, individually; or on a national level, you can build a strong army and really exercise that power.

Power in itself is not evil, as money in itself is not evil. It is how it is used that God cares about.

The command, ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’; really defines God’s care about how we treat others, how we utilize our power or riches for others.

 

Similarly, God really cares if we are not utilizing the power he has given us through the Holy Spirit for His purposes. I think that was what His question to me was about. It certainly has made me search for answers in prayer and to start thinking further into the future.

 

Please keep us both in prayer, especially as we discern our direction for what God is calling us to do- and let us know how we can pray for you.

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales

Mick’s photography      Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

In The Name of Jesus

Dear Friends and Family:

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Christine finished off a commissioned icon of the Ascension which is going to New Jersey shortly. The colors and forms of the figures are wonderful. Christine has been diligently daily drawing from a course put out by Sister Petra and she keeps sharpening her iconography skills. She is booked to take a week’s class from a couple of Russian Iconographers in November.

An exciting development for her has been creating a new page on her website for ordering prints of different sizes of her icons. This means they are now coming available for people around the world to purchase directly from the web. Please take a look.

Moving!!

August was a busy month also because we actually searched out and bought a new condo to live in. It has two bedrooms and enough room to empty out a storage space we have been storing paintings and photographs in. The location is much closer to the church we fellowship in and the landscaping has many old live oak trees with hanging Spanish moss. We are really excited about this change and have some painting to get done before we can move in.IMG_8368

Day 4 Hope

Michael took part in a local charity event with some of its’ follow up meetings called ‘Day 4 Hope’, a wonderful program to help homeless children be prepared for starting school, with medical, dental, backpacks, hair cuts, food and even a professional photograph of the parents and children. This is just a part of what this charity does and it’s program extends into the community by partnering churches with schools, which enables Christian volunteers establish strong relationships with identified families of need and help them over the long term.IMG_8310

 

People may have a mental image of Florida being a place where people go to retire, play golf, and relax on their spoils of life. This may be true for some, but actually, Florida has a very broad and vibrant community, with many more young people than old. There is a lot of wealth mixed in with a lot of people who are just getting by. There are many homeless and people in need for one reason or another. Drugs, human trafficking, environmental exploitation are all taking place; requiring armies of volunteers who try to address these issues and put people back together again. Charities, halfway houses, hospitals, twelve step programs, community minded police forces, churches and municipal agencies are all answering what Jesus referenced to in Mark 14:7:

‘For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.’IMG_8114

That text for some reason calls to my mind a simple awareness which happened while I was ministering in hospital recently. I opened my eyes during a prayer session and focused on the old wrinkled charcoal black hand of a patient resting in my white fingers. He was old, in fact he may have been close to his passing. He was in the ICU ward and I was visiting whoever seemed to want or need a Chaplain. Our prayer went on and on, and I could tell the Holy Spirit was present. He kept repeating very slowly, ‘In the name of Jesus.’ He would not let go of my hand. We did not want the presence of Jesus to leave. Our backgrounds must have been so very different but we were at that point united, calling on Jesus. When Jesus shows up powerfully, you do not want him to leave.IMG_8207

 

I often wonder if we were able to have or even expect Jesus to show up, while we are ‘doing good for the poor,’ what ever aspect of ‘poor’ that was, whether, poverty, health, shame, addiction or homelessness, how much more change there would be. God is a God of miracles when we expect and really pray for it. So often he is not invited in when we are ‘doing good for the poor.’ It seems like at the most obvious times that we do need God’s presence, we tend to not invite him.  Is that because it is now counter cultural to do so? Well, maybe we do invite him in. The question is do we really expect him to come?IMG_6569

 

Do we open up our eyes and say only God could have done this? Placed a black hand in a white hand and bound them together in prayer.

You are in our prayers daily!

Sending love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s website

Christine’s Website

Practice!

Dear Friends and Family:

Confession of St. Peter Icon by Christine Hales
Confession of St. Peter Icon by Christine Hales

Christine completed the large St Peter icon commission and Father Keith Owen collected it by driving down from St Peter’s Church, Lakewood, Ohio. It underwent a quick installation to coincide with the official opening of new buildings for St Peter’s Church on Pentecost.  Now she is working on some smaller icons, St Camillus and the Holy Face of Christ. It is a very different process of icon writing when the size is a lot smaller and she finds that it is always good to have a change.

Christine Hales' Icon Studio
Christine Hales’ Icon Studio

Photography

I had a quick trip to NY and Newport, RI for photography. The Newport job was in an extremely interesting property which has follies, grottoes, fountains et al. All very personal to the owner of the property. He has created all this over the last 20 years. I was fortunate to have just a short hail storm otherwise it was beautifully sunny window in a very wet spring and many beautiful photographs were had!

Hail Storm by Mick Hales
Hail Storm by Mick Hales

 

Chaplaincy

One of the people I visited this week with my Chaplaincy work told me that having a good singing voice takes continued practice, it is not something one keeps unless it is exercised. It was obvious to me once she had said so but I had never thought of that before. I used to sing in a choir at school but now find it hard to carry a tune through the length of a hymn.

There are so many aspects to ministry that one needs to keep on practicing so you do not lose them, which becomes a loss to you personally and also to those you are ministering to.

Hales Icon Studio
Hales Icon Studio

1 Timothy 4:14-16 says this perfectly.

14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,[c] so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

 

Flowers by Mick Hales
Flowers by Mick Hales

God’s Calling

Yesterday I presided over a memorial service in a Baptist church. It was for a man I had ministered to, prayed with and watched him go through the slow stages of going from life on earth to everlasting life. It was all part of the work I now have as a Chaplain in an old people’s community. I love what I am doing; teaching, praying, visiting, preaching, studying the word and caring for people in the last chapters of their lives. Quite often they have experienced very full lives and been highly trained and educated. I make many mistakes and I so often feel inadequate, but I believe God called me to that work and yet I still often hear God calling me in my head, ‘Michael, Michael I am calling you.’

I reply ‘take me Lord, what are you calling me for?’

It comes again, ’Michael, Michael I am calling you.’

Am I still not engaged as God purposes? Is there more?

Then I realize, of course there is always more. God always has more than we can imagine. What I need to pray into though is to hold fast the gifts God has given me and to keep exercising them. There is a destination to keep my eyes on and not turn around to look at my past; like a ploughman holding steadfast his course exercising his skills till the end of the furrow. God will direct my path if I keep exercising His gifts and loving Him.

Luke 9:62. Jesus said to him, ’No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’IMG_6696

 

So please keep us both in your prayers as God continues to work His will in our lives that we would truly know His purpose and destination for us.

 

With His Love, Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography

Christine’s Icons

 

Travel and Revelations

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Christine had a busy month in March teaching iconography at our home church in Sarasota, Church of the Redeemer and also at the Union Theological Seminary in NYC. She is also getting ready to teach another Icon class at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico next week. She delivered a beautiful icon commissioned by one of her former students in Miami, a wonderful Icon of Mary Magdalen and Christ. Recently there appears to be an understanding within the church body, that the significance of Mary Magdalene and her ministry towards Christ, as well as to the very early church, has not been fully appreciated. [Mark 16: 14] One of our fun days was a visit to the Dali museum in St Petersburg with friends. There was lots to see of course, but one of the outside displays was a Golden Spiral, which is used extensively in iconography and sacred geometry.

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Michael’s News

Michael is slowly finding his way as a Chaplain for a retirement community which has lots of opportunity for praying one on one and also preaching and teaching. He, also, had a quick trip to New York to photograph an apartment which overlooked the Hudson River. The owners were vacating the apartment after  thirty years and wanted a record of it.     IMG_5355

He has a short story about what happened after doing a hospital visitation recently. He finished his hospital visit and returned to his car. Quite close by to where he had parked was a man sitting on a tire barrier under a shade tree. He was talking to someone who appeared to be just someone in passing. After a while he heard what the conversation was about, that the man’s father was in the hospital and apparently deteriorating fast.

After a while he felt God nudge him to go over and see if he could help the man. There was a long conversation, mostly the man talking and Michael just listening. Eventually Michael asked if he could pray for him and did so and then returned home.

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About two hours later, he had a call from the hospital to return at that man’s request. Michael had been wearing a hospital Chaplain’s ID, earlier and they were asking for him specifically. So he returned and went to the room where the man and his father were. He prayed for them both separately and then talked and prayed with his mother and sister who were also at the hospital. Then waited to see how if he might help further. After a while the man came out of the father’s room and asked for Michael’s phone number and said he would be in touch if things developed. He then announced that the whole family was agnostic, but he recently learned his father had begun to pray when traveling to some of his medical appointments.

Hearing From God

Sometimes, it is strange how God works, but now Michael believes that God had heard his prayers while going to those doctors’ visits and somehow God got one of His own family to represent Him at a vital moment in that family’s life.

At the time Michael came away wondering, why was he asked to go back to the hospital if they were all agnostic? Why would they allow him to pray for them, each one separately? Maybe, just maybe, at that late hour, they realized they would be called upon to account for their lives before God.IMG_5117

As indeed we all shall. Whether we are cognizant that there will be an accounting before God or not. Even if we stand proudly as Christian, Agnostic, Republican or Democrat, we shall all be accountable before God.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Hebrews 4:13

That’s all for now.  Love snd prayers to you all!

Michael and Christine Hales

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Please let us know how we can pray for you.

Another Great Icon Delivered

Blessed Mother Icon Delivered to Saint Patrick’s Church, Palm Beach

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Christine delivered her Blessed Mother Icon to St Patrick’s church in Palm Beach Gardens and also got to see her St Patrick icon now installed in the beautiful church. Father Aidan and associates eagerly unpacked the icon which will be installed on the wall across from St Patrick. Christine continues to be working on four other icons now under commission, one on Mary Magdalene, Thomas Merton, Pauli Murray and the confessions of St Peter. It is such a privilege to watch how these icons come alive through prayer and reading, which Christine enjoys so much, and God has certainly placed it on her heart to bring iconography into contemporary worship.

 

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For Michael it has been a long road waiting for the next placement for him to be consistently engaged for God. His prayer of late has been, ‘Lord, I pray that you would open the doors to the job that YOU want to do through me.’ Finally the doors have been opened and Michael will be embarking on serving as Chaplain for a large senior living community and in the neighboring hospital. This will give him ample opportunity to pray for people, which he loves to do, and also minister to the elderly and sick.

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It has been a long time waiting for this to fall into place and we have so much thankfulness that God has brought us to this point. There is also a great feeling of relief that Michael will not need to rely so completely on freelance photography income although he will be able to continue when the opportunities arise. Paul writes about the feeling of peace and thanks in Colossians 3:15-17.  ‘And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’

When life changes suddenly what do we have to hold on to?

 As Michael visits the hospital as Chaplain he often asks the patients in bed, ‘How long have you been in here?’ The answers vary from just overnight to several months, but the one thing in common to all of them is their desire to be released. This is no reflection on the hospital but their wish to return to the life they used to have. For some that is never going to be possible again, something happened which cannot be reversed, some aspect of their lives’ foundation has been shattered. It may be as simple as loosing their driving license or as traumatic as loosing a limb. This is where Chaplaincy has a critical role to give meaning and purpose to life for people to hold onto and move towards.img_3988

It is at this point that the foundational belief that God loves us becomes our saving grace, literally. No matter what we have lost physically we can never loose the love God has for us. We can choose to close our availability to know or receive that love, but from God’s position he will never stop loving us. Paul talks at length in Romans 8 [Michael’s favorite bible chapter] about the love of God for us, finishing in verse 38 with the astonishing statement:

 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Finding a Great Church to Worship In.

We are also very thankful to have found a thriving church we feel welcomed in and have joined. The Church of the Redeemer, in Sarasota, has an extraordinary outreach program, full liturgy and renowned musical life. It is good to be a part of a church with good leadership and friendly people.

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So we are very thankful that Michael has come out of a desert experience and is excited to see what God wants to do through him as a Chaplain.

Please keep us in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.

Love you all,

Michael and Christine Hales

Hales Art Website     Mick’s Photography Website      Christine’s Icon Website

 

 

Happy New Year

Dear Friends and Family:

Bromeliad, Mick Hales
Bromeliad, Mick Hales

Happy New Year!

 

For us this is a New Season as well as a New Year. We finally sold our house in New York on December 27th. This has been the culmination of many steps for several years. Although we loved our house and had nearly twenty years of great memories there, it was a strain on our time and resources which we would rather direct towards God’s purposes in our lives.

We are now in Bradenton, Florida, in a modest 1970s low rise condominium complex. There is a wonderful community spirit amongst the residents here which is what attracted us to start with, as well as the semi tropical weather, plant material and life style. IMG_3122

Christine spent a lot of her time in Florida as a child and Michael was in Pakistan and Nigeria, so the weather is quite familiar.     IMG_3203

Icons of Women in the Church

Christine has finished a wonderful Icon commission of Mary. It will be delivered to Palm Beach latter this week for the Church of Saint Patrick. She is now starting on a beautiful  Icon of Mary Magdalene. She has been reading the book, “The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity”, written by Cynthia Bourgeault. Christine takes her commissions very seriously and does a lot of background research as she initiates her drawings.

Blessed Mother Icon by Christine Hales
Blessed Mother Icon by Christine Hales

Chaplaincy for 2019

Michael has been tying up some of the jobs involved with the house move and is excited to be starting to volunteer as a Chaplain at a local hospital.

Michael writes: Thinking of a new season, I am reminded of Jesus visiting Nazareth, where he had grown up and reading in the synagogue from Isaiah a prophecy which all the Jews were familiar with:

Isaiah 61:1

[ The Year of the Lord’s Favor ] The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

Then boldly declaring to the congregation that they were witnessing the fulfillment of that prophecy. He was declaring a new season, declaring the presence of the Holy Spirit within him and what that would mean in the future. They could expect things to be different, especially for the poor, brokenhearted, sick and downtrodden. It was a declaration of faith, at the start of his ministry as a human being, a new season for Him and for all of us.

As a Christian I ask myself, “do I carry that message in my daily life to people I meet, whether through words or actions”? I know that Jesus came to change our lives and to release us from captivity- in whatever form that might be for us. One way I try to do that is by praying for people wherever I discern a need ,and that brings me to two questions- or more correctly, two prayers.

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Lord, help me know how to pray for people I meet in my daily life.

This is a question that often comes up for me. “How do I pray for the person that is right in front of me, right now?” Often the question which arises before that is, “Lord, how do I ask this person if I can pray for them?”

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How do we bring God into a chance meeting with someone in a natural way, which does not intimidate or push people away?  How comfortable we are in our relationship with Christ will be transmitted in every nuance we have in our voice, words, body language and eyes. The words we choose to suggest prayer to a stranger will be given to us by the Holy Spirit if we recognize it is God’s heart that we request to pray at that time.     IMG_E3221

Every Day Another Opportunity to Pray

Yesterday, while in an auto shop getting a price quote for car work, I got to pray for a mechanic and his wife.  After looking at my car and giving me various estimates, we chatted a little and I noticed a bible amongst the large jumble on top of his desk. Soon he was sharing how his wife had suffered two years of multiple surgeries to fight cancer. As soon as he started sharing that, I knew this was a God appointment for me to pray with him.

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I find that picking the right time in a conversation to openly declare, ‘I am a Christian and love to pray for people and have seen God heal many people. Would you mind if I pray for you right now?’

That is what I want to get over but those are not necessarily the words to use. Each person gives out leads about themselves and how open they might be to receiving prayer and it is up to us to read those leads correctly and kindly, lovingly, bring God into the picture.

 

This is when we just stand in God’s love ourselves and share it. Quoting many bible versus is not appropriate at this point, showing who God is, as a loving living caring person within you, is. Simple words, lovingly delivered right to the point of the situation, in Jesus Christ name. We are standing in for Jesus. We are representing Jesus directly and inviting Him and the Holy Spirit into this moment and the situation we are praying for.

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This is not revelatory information, it is nothing new but if for the New Year we stepped out and simply prayed for more people, Jesus would be represented on the streets, super markets, laundries, airports, subways, anywhere we see a need. What happens after that is up to Jesus. Sometimes there is a healing right in front of our eyes, sometimes it is as though we have just been separated from the busy world around us, sometimes we get rejected outright, often we have no idea what God is doing and when. But that is OK, our part is to step up and love the person in front of us and invite Jesus in.

New Year’s Resolution

That is my New Years resolution to move through any fear I might have and pray for more people. Can you imagine what that would be like if all Christians actually stepped out and prayed for people?

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We hope and pray that 2019 is a great new year, with fulfilled hopes and dreams, and that it users in a great and God filled new season for us all.  Let us know how we can pray for you, it is our pleasure to add your prayer requests to our prayer time each day.

Love, Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photography Website      Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kingdom Arts Ministry Blog: November 2018

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Thankfulness Becomes Gratitude.

I will always remember sitting with Christine in church, this Thanksgiving morning, and realizing how profoundly thankful I was to be there. I had a deep resonating gratitude. My thankfulness developed into a well of gratitude which I still draw from weeks later.

New York snow plough
New York snow plough

Part of it came from a safe arrival at 3:30 am that same morning after a 1300 mile cold drive from New York, part of it came from a wonderful sermon on how we are called to be thankful as Christians at all times, but most of it came from being with Christine and worshipping together.

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Icons

Christine has been very busy with icon commissions and has recently completed one on the ‘Harrowing of Hell’ where Jesus is pulling out of death and hell Adam and Eve and the saints who passed before His i resurrection. She has also been working on a large ‘Blessed Mother’  icon for St Patrick’s church near Palm Beach.

Harrowing of Hell Icon by Christine Simoneau Hales
Harrowing of Hell Icon by Christine Simoneau Hales

I have been so grateful to have time to thoroughly read her book, Eyes of Fire, and receive the richness of her experience, strength and hope from it. Her book is a really valuable tool to understand what Icons are, how they relate to contemporary art and their place in our spiritual lives. For those people who are Christians but cannot relate to Icons this is a ‘must read’ to get an understanding of this whole rich spiritual life.

Eyes of Fire Icon Book
Eyes of Fire Icon Book

Thankfulness

There is a song line which says, ‘we do not know what we have till it is gone.’  Sadly, there is a lot of truth in it. Being thankful for what we have, whether relationships, possessions, security or freedom to worship the God of our own choice, is a directive Christ gives us so we can live life in all its fullness. When there is no thanks in our lives ‘for all things’, whether good or not so good, there is a lack and where there is a lack the demonic will try to fill it with something else, perhaps alcohol, food, medications, sex, shopping, watching TV: the list goes on. Each one of these ‘fillers’, when used in a balanced and righteous way are part of a full life, but when they are used to fill a lack or emptiness they can become addictive and destructive, a part of the demonic’s arsenal.

 

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From Thankfulness Turns To Action

Volunteering in a homeless day shelter this week, I got to pray on the street for a lady who was donating some clothes to the shelter and also looking for her brother, whom she had not seen for a year, but she knew he had used the shelter in the past. We prayed in the street that she could be reunited with her brother. She was so grateful for the prayer that she decided to immediately start to volunteer at the shelter. Thankfulness had moved to gratitude and was causing her to take positive Godly action, to donate her time to help those in need.

Parrots at the Sarasota Jungle Garden
Parrots at the Sarasota Jungle Garden

When praying for the sick, most of my prayers are just thanking God. Repeating over and over again, ‘Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus for your presence.’  When we are in a place of gratitude with the Holy Spirit the demonic is pushed out and healing can take place. That is why even when something horrible has happened, if we can stay in a place of gratitude and in contact with God, the demonic is not able to use that horrible event to cause further destruction by attaching unforgiveness, or resentment, anger, envy, hatred, revenge; anything to keep the horror of the event alive and burning in our lives. Anything that keeps us from having peace.

But that is not God’s will, as we read in Colossians 3:

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Please keep us in prayers as we move into this new season in our lives, that we may always be thankful for what God is doing in our lives.

Also please let us know how we can pray for you.

Love you all,

Mick’s Website    Christine’s Icons 

Click here to Purchase Christine’s Icon Book

Love, not Fear and Hate

Dear Friends and Family:

Icon Class at Immaculate Conception Seminary
Icon Class at Immaculate Conception Seminary

Christine had a wonderful Icon writing retreat at the former Roman Catholic Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, in Lloyd Harbor, NY.

It was a privilege to be able to spend time in a seminary building which had so many priests pass through its doors for many years. Although no longer a seminary, as such, a lot of retreats and teaching classes continue in the extraordinary building and grounds.

Icon Painting Class with Christine Hales
Icon Painting Class with Christine Hales

Christine was teaching Iconography to a wonderful group of students keen to learn how to write an icon and practice this spiritual discipline over the Columbus Day weekend. The building has an extraordinary collection of religious paintings, stonework, ironwork and all manor of crafts and a deep presence of prayer.

Eyes of Fire Getting Great Reviews!

Christine’s book has been getting wonderful reviews and is #1 new release in spiritual books on Amazon!! If you have not had a chance to order a copy yet please go for it.

Eyes of Fire Icon Book
Eyes of Fire Icon Book

It is wonderful to see how God has worked through her struggle as an artist to come up with a vibrant position to talk to artists as wells Christians. This is a well resourced book for this who are interested in writing Icons, but it is also a deep revelation of her walk and faith in using the gifts God has given her.

Here are two links for you to get a copy.  Book of the Month Club    and   direct link to  Amazon.   Get your copy today!!

 

Our Move is Coming Along!!

We achieved a major move from the Hudson Valley, NY, to Bradenton, FL. It is by no means completed yet but the major part has been done.

Paintings and photographs preparing to move
Paintings and photographs preparing to move

Moving is thought to be one of the five most stressful situations normal life offers. Certainly driving a heavy loaded truck 1400 miles is stressful, let alone all the packing and now unpacking, all the decisions about what should be kept and what should be given away or discarded.

We were Blessed though, we knew where we were going and that people at our destination were glad we were coming.

 

Our thoughts and prayers though go out to the much maligned people who have lost a safe place to live in their homes in Honduras and as best they can are travelling on foot to find a safer life. This is the ‘Caravan’, desperate people fleeing because they no longer have safe homes. They have become a political football for the Trump administration to build fears about immigrants, even though they are still one thousand miles away from the US border travelling by foot, 5200 troops are being sent to ‘guard’ the borders. President Trump has described the coming midterm elections as the ‘Election of the Caravan’. It is alarmist rhetoric which is fueling hatred in our country leading to political and anti semetic violence.

As a Christian I have to say this is not of God. As a Christian I have to say this nation is heading in a hedonistic direction which is contrary to its values of the past.

Attending to homeless in NYC
Attending to homeless in NYC

As a Christian I refer to scripture,

Isaiah 58:6-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed[a] go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Children learning Franklin D Roosevelt's Four Freedoms
Children learning Franklin D Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms

It is worth going back to Franklin D Roosevelt’s speech known as the Four Freedoms made in January 1941, where he talks of the freedom of speech and expression,  that every person can worship God in his own way, freedom from want and freedom from fear. These four freedoms he declared are for everywhere in the world and attainable in our own time and generation. America seems to have turned in on itself and lost the vision of a caring leader of freedom in the world.

This is a time where prayer for this nation, with all of it’s power and wealth, for all of its responsibilities to the world as a whole, would be guided by the Holy Spirit and a heart of love not hatred and fear. Let us all come together and seek before God His wisdom on the direction of this nation in prayer.

Love and Prayers,

Michael and Christine