Tag Archives: Florida

God’s Creation

Dear Family and Friends:

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Christine had another teaching class at Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, NY, with several returning students. She has a following of students who want to continue to go deeper into the experience of writing icons. Teaching in a monastery which has a daily cycle of five prayer services by the monks makes it even more of a prayerful experience. The retreat coincided with some of the very hot weather which spread across the North East this July.

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Michael continues with the chaplaincy work in the elderly community at Freedom Village and Blake hospital. There are so many end of life situations which people are dealing with. To bring the love of Christ into those critical times is a great privilege and also can be very demanding. One of the constants that has brought him relief is photographing the beauty of creation, in all manner of things.

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It is God’s creativity, which is never endingly astonishing and it is available for all to see, ‘who have eyes to see.’

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Paul writes about creation in Romans 1:19-21, saying that everyone should recognize the extraordinary presence of God by the awesome divine nature of the things that have been made. He says there is no excuse, for not recognizing God’s hand at work, or for not honoring it.

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19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

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We are in a time where respect for God’s creation is not a priority for the leadership of America or Brazil [the rain forest is being destroyed at the encouragement of Brazil’s president, our president has turned away from recognizing global warming and the Paris agreement]. The environment is loosing at irrevocable speed to human development and greed.

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The environment is just one arena but now there are many areas where Christians have decided to place their trust and favor in a political spirit, following blindly ‘false Christian’ political leadership away from those things dear to Christ’s heart. Loving our neighbor, has moved to creating walls, division, racism, inequality, lies and squandering truth. Michael thinks we have a responsibility to point out as a Christian, that many are following a political spirit, which will turn whichever way it believes it can gain the most votes. It has no heart for what the consequences are. It is not driven by love but by a bullying greed. It is a political spirit not the Holy Spirit.

Michael grew up in England and his father witnessed how the fascist mentality was allowed to grow in Germany and Italy before the war. The mistake the Christians made in trusting that political spirit, rather than being responsible to the Holy Spirit, were profound.

We are responsible to the Holy Spirit, responsible to the love of Christ, responsible to Glorify God our Father, one person at a time one Christian at a time. Not to place our work and responsibility at the feet ‘fake Christian political figures’.

‘For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.’

Jesus taught how to separate between the political spirit and the Holy Spirit, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’

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I pray that we render to God the things which are God’s and gives thanks and honor to all He creates and not turn our responsibilities over to a false spirit.

It is our joy to pray for you all each day.

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography     Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

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

 

Be Still…

 

Holy Cross Monastery Mick Hales
Holy Cross Monastery Mick Hales

Christine has had an active month, again with teaching an Icon class at Holy Cross Monastery in the Hudson Valley, which was focused on Sacred Geometry. It was a wonderful class and it is always especially good within the monastic life at Holy Cross to experience these retreats. The spring in New York had been quite wet and all the trees were especially beautiful with the early leaf growth giving a rich chartreuse green to the landscape.

Icon Class Christine Hales
Icon Class Christine Hales

 

Her large icon of St Peter with Christ is practically complete and is due to travel to Ohio next week. The colors are very powerful and the peace in the expression of Christ is captivating. IMG_6009

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There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit moves through these Icons and touches many people.

We are so grateful for the work that Christine has been led to creating and teaching iconography, please keep her in your prayers.

Clouds Mick Hales
Clouds Mick Hales

Be Still and Know that I am God.

 

May has been quite an active month with trips- driving  to New York and flying to Texas.

 

Michael’s Chaplaincy work includes leading a weekly contemplative prayer session. He has been doing it now for a couple of months and the regular attendants know the procedure and are able to become ‘still’. A portion of scripture is read three times and then people are still and quiet for twenty minutes as they allow God to dig them deeper into the relevance of the scripture to them at that time. Afterwards we share with each other what God led us to.

Magnolia Mick Hales
Magnolia Mick Hales

 

It always amazes me that each person is taken down a different path to a personal encounter with God, finding out what God wants to reveal to them individually. We all start with the same scripture passage to ponder and pray into but end up with different results.

It is a reminder how important it is to be still with God.

Jesus did exactly that, rising early in the morning to go by himself to a quiet place where he could talk and listen to God the Father. Through his intimate time with the Father he was able to face the stress of his ministry. In His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus prays that we, those who in the future would believe that Jesus was sent from God could have that same love and intimacy that He had with the Father. Such an extraordinary prayer. He also prayed that we could all be as one. Not that we would be identical but we could have a united purpose coming from a united love. That is when things will start to happen, when the body of Christ moves as one. What will it take for the body of Christ to move as one?

Iris Mick Hales
Iris Mick Hales

 

The scripture from Psalm 46 reads,

‘Be still and know that I am God,

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.’

The power of that scripture is far beyond what we can imagine. The news we hear from the nations, including our own, points to a world without God. But the truth is, God is God, and when we are still and focused on Him, his power is released through us and His love is made real in us.

Such a counter culture concept for us today in a world where business and activity are the hallmarks of success. Success for Jesus is being totally intimate with God and for us to have that too.

So, Michael, still has to teach himself, when driving or flying, or just being really busy which happened this month: the real journey is to be still with God that’s when things start to happen.

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

Sending love and prayers,

 

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photographs            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.

Transitions

Dear Friends and Family:

Flower by Mick Hales
Flower by Mick Hales

Somehow February always comes to an abrupt end, I keep expecting there to be a few more days in the month, so that is my apology for this coming a day later than I had hoped.

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We celebrated their 25thwedding anniversary with a dolphin watching boat trip. Part of the cruise led past Old Cortez village, which apparently is the only surviving active fishing community in Florida.

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Christine taught an introduction to iconography at St Peter and Paul Apostles Catholic Church to a group of women which is a new venue for her. She has a busy month coming up with teaching in Sarasota, New York City and Ghost Ranch, NM. She also had a flying visit to St Thomas’ Parish, in Upper Marlboro, MD, to deliver and attend the blessing of an icon she had written of Pauli Murray, a former member of that parish, who was an American civil rights advocate, feminist, lawyer and ordained priest. Christine has more commissions coming in which is so exciting and her book Eyes of Fire’, continues to gather great comments and reviews as more people get the opportunity to read it. One of Christine’s recent students just got back to her saying she wished she had read the book before taking the class and she could have had a deeper understanding of how significant iconography is.

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This has been an exciting month with my starting the new position of Chaplain at Freedom Village, in Bradenton. It’s a senior living community close by Blake hospital where I also volunteer as a Chaplain.

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This new job carries a broad job description including preaching and leading Sunday Vespers service, Bible study teaching, coordinating and conducting memorial services, hospital visitations and getting to know a community of about 900 people.

There’s lots of opportunity to pray for people which I enjoy tremendously.

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Sadly, some of the situations people face are heart rendering and all one can do is be present with them in silent prayer. Some of the more emotional experiences are for sons and daughters, faced with decisions about whether it is time to abstain from further medical treatment for their parents and allow them to pass over.

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In a senior community many are facing end of life situations and those with a faith in God have so much more peace through the hard times. This community has a great spirit and many live very full and positive lives for many years. Seniors are though, facing very real difficulties as the body slowly or sometimes suddenly start to fail. The fact is getting old is not easy, in fact it can be a very challenging time of life, when we no longer have the physical resources to face challenges, we need the emotional and spiritual strength to do so.

Visit the Elderly

Loneliness is a killer. That is true all through our lives, but it is especially so in old age. Memories of delivering, ‘meals on wheels’ to shut-ins in rural New York gave me the full experience of old people living alone and slowly loosing any contact with the outside world except through the television set which played constantly day or night. As our society has become more mobile the support from extended family in our later days is often not a possibility. The children have moved out of state for work or education and their own families keep them fully occupied.

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It is not a surprise that James talks about the need to not forget the elderly or orphans as we practice our different streams of Godly worship, James 1:27,

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.’

Please let us know how we can pray for you and also hold us up as we go through these transitions in our lives.

We love hearing from you, and look forward to all that God is going to do in this new season in our lives!

Blessings and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography    Christine’s Icons

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