Category Archives: icons

Palm Sunday Video

Getting Ready for Palm Sunday!!

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

They say natural disasters have three stages, the approach, the occurrence and the aftermath.

Writing on April first we are still in the approach stage. We have no idea how devastating April is going to turn out to be, certainly New York is going to be hammered and many other metropolitan areas as well. Then the aftermath is going to extend much further than people can digest at the moment; the loss of life, the loss of work and a depressed economy will be with us for a long, long time. Other things will change, our work habits, our trust in the governmental institutions and how we return to worship in churches or not.

Our VIctory Garden
Our VIctory Garden

Yes, we are looking at a huge shaking approaching, larger and more extensive than we can imagine. Think back one month when there was not an inkling of what was coming along, we were not prepared, individually or as a nation. It is times like this that the reality of how vulnerable our lives are and indeed the strength and stability of America is, even carrying a superpower status. Then we look at countries like India with high densities of population and ask what is going to happen there? Maybe the hot temperatures in the many of the vulnerable countries will lessen the power of the virus; it is destroyed at temperatures over 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, interesting enough, the virus does not like light but survives in cold, dark, damp environment, it is not alive in itself but attaches to human cells, corrupting them to then corrupt and destroy others. One could use that as a good description of the demonic.

So much to pray for. So much arrogance to repent from.

Such an awesome God to pray to.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography:                                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mathew 21:21

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.

 Taking God Seriously

God is calling us all to take Him seriously. To focus on Him and not leave Him on the back burner. Many of us have time now, while we are sheltering in place to focus on God. This is a huge opportunity to turn away from the distractions of the world and return to prayer.

Indeed, God is inviting us to be in prayer. He is directing us to be in prayer.

Christine and I have been working from home. I have not been allowed to do visitations in the hospital or the nursing home attached to Freedom Village. Freedom Village now has highly restricted access, so I have been preparing for them sheets of collected scriptures on different subjects, for the residents to use as starting points for them to pray from. They are being called, ‘Food for Prayer’, and I hope they can open the door to the Holy Spirit to work individually in them. I have also been preparing You Tube Sunday services and will cover the Easter services in the similar way. God has opened a door for me to use my photography in these video’s which I have not been doing since I took up the Chaplain job. Please check out the two services I have already posted through the links below.

 

Christine has been completing a commission of a very beautiful icon of Christ, where He is holding the scripture, ‘I am the light of the world’.  Additionally, she has created an original Icon of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. She has also been taking an online course from an iconographer in London, Ian Knowles,  which meant very early mornings joining with some 99 other iconographers from around the world. She has also been part of a strong bible study online group of women, which always go way over time and brings a lot of revelation and joy.

Daniel in the Lion's Den Icon by Christine Hales
Daniel in the Lion’s Den Icon by Christine Hales
Look For Silver Linings

One of the silver linings in all of this virus situation is that the online methods of communicating can give us an alternative way of getting many things done. But there is no alternative to actually being with someone one on one when they are going through a bad time.

This was brought home to me last week when I was called to visit someone who lost her husband the previous day. She had not been allowed to see him for the last two weeks that he was alive, even though they were less than two hundred yards apart. They had talked frequently on the phone, but to not have been able to touch each other and look into their eyes       was a haunting separation. These are some of the simple things, which really hurt, when we are denied them. That same desire to be close, so close that we see into the hearts of people, is God’s desire for our relationship with Him. That we would seek to touch Him and look deeply into his eyes and know Him. That is the love He has for us and yearns for us to have for him. It has always been that way and it will always remain that way. I pray we wake up to that in this time of opportunity.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

Let us know how we can pray for you and please keep us in prayer.

 

Do not forget to watch the two videos, one is for Palm Sunday [ZOOE0], I would love to get feed back on them.

Michael’s Video Links- they are great!!

https://youtu.be/I9wyjwZOOE0

https://youtu.be/cXosEs51n7Y

Love and prayers,

Mick Hales photography
Mick Hales photography

Christine and Michael Hales

Christine’s Icon Prints            Michael’s Photography

 

 

 

Icons in Sarasota!

 

Dear Family and Friends:

Christine had a wonderful pop up show of her iconography in downtown Sarasota, hosted in a high end carpet store owned by a Christian friend. It was just for one evening, about 15 icons were on show and a lot of people came. Christine gave a talk part way through about what Icons are, how they are created and what they have meant to her in her life. She was totally involved with her talk and she moved into testimony in a very natural way. The training she had received at Global Awakening started to come through and people’s hearts were getting moved to love and experience God’s Presence.

Icons by Christine Hales
Icons by Christine Hales

 

It is a beautiful thing when the Holy Spirit takes over in a secular situation and people realize something special is happening even if they cannot attribute it to a spiritual incursion.

Hales Icon Exhibit Sarasota
Hales Icon Exhibit Sarasota

Conversely, when a negative spiritual force is breaking into our world and people do not realize we are witnessing a demonic incursion, it is a disastrous thing. As this is being written,  a few minutes ago the senate voted not to hear witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Trump. I perceive that as a huge step towards tyranny in this nation. It would appear that an irrevocable damage has occurred to its compass. The rudder was just taken off the boat and thrown in the water, because people were happy with the direction the wind was blowing, at the moment.

Photo by Mick Hales
Photo by Mick Hales

The senate just lost the ability to hold a course through the troubled waters of democracy and voted for tyranny.  What will bring the country to realize it has stepped into tyranny? It has to be a spiritual awakening.

Photo by Mick Hales
Photo by Mick Hales

 

No matter how depressing I find the direction of the nation, as I call out to God, I hear back, to press in with the gifts that I have been given. As a Christian to engage one on one with people using  the gifts I have. For me they happen to be praying for people’s healing and coming alongside those in times of trial in prayer. Well as I write I have a list of ten people in hospital or nursing care that need visiting, six people who recently lost a loved one and also need visiting. I just left praying for someone with a tumor protruding inches out of his leg. This is how we can push into the spiritual malaise in this nation, by using the gifts we have been given by the Lord for the Lord. When we as Christians rely on a spirit of politics to redeem a spiritual malaise in our country it is a false assumption.

Flower by Mick Hales
Flower by Mick Hales

Many nations have gone through very similar situations and after years have managed to come out again. So my prayer would be that we press into using our gifts for the Lord one on one.

Michael Hales, Chaplain
Michael Hales, Chaplain

 

As Paul writes in Romans 12, 6 ‘Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.’

Hales Icons in Sarasota
Hales Icons in Sarasota

Please let us know how we can pray for you.

Sending love and prayers,

 

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography     Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Dear Friends and Family:

Happy New Year!  And of course we wish you a really Blessed 2020 with many new doors opening by the Lord.

Happy New Year photo by Mick Hales
Happy New Year photo by Mick Hales

December seemed to happen very quickly this year, perhaps because things just kept popping up that needed to be done.

Our News

Michael had a surprise phone call asking him at 9:30 on Boxing day morning to undertake a marriage at 1:00 that day at the hospital he volunteers at. Christine has developed a lot of new women friends in Christ and was invited to several Christmas parties by them. We managed to receive a day of generational healing prayer, at Christian Healing Ministries in Jacksonville, which was a powerful Blessing. Michael had one memorial service and five other services at Freedom Village to lead and preach. On top of all that we made it to Art Basel Miami to see what was cooking in the art world.

Michael leading a wedding ceremony at the hospital
Michael leading a wedding ceremony at the hospital

Christine completed a commission of St Francis and the Wolf  of Lubbio which came out beautifully. She has been diligently focused on drawing skills and it is really bearing beautiful fruit in her icons. This month she will have a one evening show of her icons at a prestigious carpet gallery in downtown Sarasota called ‘Art to Walk On’ on January 24th and has been preparing a variety of icons for that. It is going to be stunning.

Politics and the love of Christ

Of course we have to bring up what happened this December with the impeachment of the President of the United States. It is almost like the ‘Emperor has no clothes on’ within Christian circles because it is hard to talk about.  As so much division has happened within the body of Christ, much of which seemingly slipped into following a political spirit rather than holding to the Holy Spirit; the evangelical right regarded Donald Trump as a savior, regardless of his overtly unchristian persona.  ‘Christianity Today’, had the fortitude to really question whether the President should be given carte blanche by Christians.  We continue to pray that God will provide good leadership for this country, today and in the years to come.

Seabirds by Mick Hales
Seabirds by Mick Hales

Each month Michael writes an article for the Freedom Village Newsletter, ‘The Crier’ and last month it was about ‘Holding Hands.’

He is adding it below, because it could be extrapolated to the situation our country finds itself in. It is a piece on small steps of faith that can lead to larger changes through unity. Jesus said a house divided cannot stand. How do we bridge the gap of extreme division within this country before it is led to tyranny?

How to return to relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance and not a spirit of politics within Christian living.

As 2020 opens there needs to be some deep searching for truth in our prayers as to who we are following, Jesus Christ or partisan politics. I pray that each side of this deep divide can reach out to touch the other and heal.

Advent Wreath on Christmas Eve by Mick Hales
Advent Wreath on Christmas Eve by Mick Hales

Holding Hands

We all know what it means to hold hands with someone we love, someone special to us. A spouse or one of our own children. Holding hands is a way in personal relationships we can express trust, comfort, fondness, togetherness and love.

But what about when we hold hands with someone we do not know so well, maybe someone we are visiting and want to show a sign of support for what they are going through, perhaps they are ill or experienced a loss recently. That can take a step of faith to put your hands out for someone who may not know you. The actual activity of sharing another person’s hands results scientifically in the release of oxytocin in our bodies giving us a feeling of safety and warmth.

I remember as a child walking through the streets of Enugu, a town in Nigeria where I spent several years, people would just touch you as you walked past. It was culturally normal that touch would happen between people, even strangers on the streets. To us in a ‘Western mindset’ this seems very intrusive, we prefer to keep an invisible barrier around us that other people stay out of.  We would hate being touched by people as they walked past  us on the streets, by hands held to out to the sides so there was a connection as one passed. This very simple gesture was a way of connecting, a way of placing oneself in the present and acknowledging all life around us as we travel through it.

Saint Francis and the Wolf of Lubbio, Icon by Christine Hales
Saint Francis and the Wolf of Lubbio, Icon by Christine Hales

We find in the scriptures that Jesus throughout his ministry would touch people as he was healing them. We also know that people would try to touch him in the crowd or even just his garment; Mark 3:10, is a good example.

‘for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.’

When Jesus was touching people there was a transference of power by the Holy Spirit to heal. That is why I believe when people come together to support or even pray for others, holding hands is a wonderful way to bring us all closer together, as we present ourselves and our concerns to God.

Let us continue to gather as lovers of Christ and hold hands as we pray for our country, our world, and each other in the year ahead.

Celebrating Michael's Birthday and Boxing Day!
Celebrating Michael’s Birthday and Boxing Day!

Sending love, prayers, and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography      Christine’s Icons      Christine’s Art Work

 

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.

 

New Job for Michaelimg_4084

 

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