{Book} Surprised By Motherhood

Lisa-Jo Baker’s book “Surprised By Motherhood” was released today, and I can’t wait to read it. Lisa-Jo is the hostess of Five-Minute Friday, a 5-minute writing prompt I like to join here when time permits and I remember (keeping it real). Unlike Lisa-Jo, I wanted to be a career mom. Motherhood is my favorite role, and I’m still adjusting to being mom to 20-somethings.  I miss the season when all my chicks were under my roof together. I know how to do that! This new season is just as confusing, frightening and unpredictable as the former seemed at the time. Mercy.

This video made me cry, because I’m a mom and I get it.

Learn more about Surprised By Motherhood here.

Rethinking Lent

It’s been whirlwind tornado crazy around here the past couple weeks. A lot of it has to do with this hole in the ground….

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More on that later. I have some fun things to show you, but it’s Ash Wednesday, and I want to share something that touched my heart and shook my socks.

I had no idea what Lent was until my early 20s. The idea of the Lenten fast wasn’t something I contemplated until later in adulthood. I can’t remember exactly when I adopted the practice, but I do remember my desire was to be intentional about considering Jesus’ sacrifice.  Over the years I’ve tried hard to choose what I fast based on the amount of sacrifice for me – the point isn’t for it to be easy.  A few years ago I fasted chocolate, which was sheer torture because I forgot that my birthday falls smack in the middle of Lent, and I had to have not-chocolate cake that year. But as I willed myself to honor my commitment it made me think about the garden of Gethsemane and how easy it would have been for Jesus to walk away. And that’s what makes the struggle real, isn’t it? Denying my wayward heart for the heart of God.   And is there really anything I could give up that comes close to all Jesus gave?
Then there’s also the temptation to make the fast about giving up things that are bad for us –  like a 40 day no-fast-food kick-start – with hopes that it will become a habit by time Easter rolls around. Can anyone else relate?

Last week I read this post by Kim at Given Breath and it felt like fresh air floating through an open window. Go ahead and take a peek. Soak it in. I’ll wait….
As I read my insides sighed, yes!, and I began earnestly praying about something more meaningful to focus on this season. And it’s been hard,  because there are so many things I could abstain from.
I want to be the celebratory, hospitable, generous, and thankful person Kim speaks of, so this year I am approaching my fast in a different way. A deeper way. A growing way.

Let’s Be Brave

When I began this blog, my goal was simple – to create fearlessly. I figured if I was scared to death someone else out there probably is, too, and we could encourage each other. That goal remains in the back of my mind as I continue to fight the Perfection Monster and reclaim the child-like joy of creating. It’s a theme you’ll see running throughout this blog, because fear has no place in creativity. We are made in the image of the Master Creator and He only asks us to show up. How’s that for no pressure? Show up and be who you are.  Too often I allow fear to keep me from awesome things. I listen to the What-If Monster and turn back to “safe.” Safe is boring. Safe doesn’t reach our goals. Safe doesn’t spark life, it hastens death.

This arrived in my in box from Lisa Jo Baker, the talented gal who hosts 5-Minute Fridays.  Not only do I love its message, it’s my colors, and I thought it would look fabulous here.  It’s big enough to print out and hang on your wall as a healthy reminder.   🙂

Still Dreaming

The Hunk and I are in a tight financial season, so for the past couple years I’ve been cleaning a few houses on the side. I’m one of those weirdos who actually likes to clean.  It’s another way I make art – in the small touches that bless others.

Today I cleaned a house that takes all day every Monday. There was nothing special about today’s work except this family is interracial. As the radio played, reminding us of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contribution to our world, I thought about my current position: a white woman  serving in an interracial home. I wasn’t the lawyer or the doctor or the decorator there for a visit –  I was the hired help. It made me laugh. And I wasn’t just a white woman cleaning for a black family – oh, no. I was cleaning for an interracial family – a concept that still makes heads spin in some circles. I laughed some more.

I was born in 1964, and my growing up years began in a blue-collar neighborhood in New Jersey. Everyone worked hard for a living and we were all mixed up – a black family there, a Korean family across the street, an Irish Catholic family two houses down. My dad is Dutch/German and my mom is Italian. The kids on my street played together and went to school together, blissfully ignorant of the turmoil in the world around us. My best friend in the third grade was Paschell Simmons – a beautiful girl with  dark brown skin and a smile that never quit. We held hands as we walked through the halls and shared our deepest secrets.  My church was a wee little non-denominational body where everyone was all mixed up, too. That was my normal.

When we moved to Florida things changed. I was beat up almost every day of the 5th grade by a large black girl named Ruth. I later discovered the bathroom I used my first day there was unlabeled “black girls only.” The teachers would tell you otherwise, but the students knew. Except the new white girl from Jersey. I told Ruth I was sorry and that made things a little better, but it depended on her mood any given day. My grandmother gets full credit for my loving attitude toward this angry child, because I probably would have booby-trapped her lunchbox if given half a chance.

I survived the culture shock of living in the south for the most part still blissfully unaware. Sometimes I think maybe God protected me then so I could see more clearly now. Today we attend a multicultural church that’s all mixed up with one service almost entirely filled with our homeless friends.  Many people think we’re weird. It’s where I’m most comfortable – all mixed together and weird.

I’m honored and humbled by what my friends and I learn from each other.  We’re living the Dream… and still Dreaming for more, Dr. King.

More Than Just 15 Minutes of Fame

I stumbled upon this video soon after it was posted, and it’s totally gone viral. An unknown voice teacher is randomly selected from an audience to sing a duet with Kristin Chenoweth, becoming an instant celebrity when she nails it. It’s a real life dream-come-true story. Kristin was all class, and made some wonderful comments after the performance.

Then there’s the story about the 96 year old man who says he’s not a songwriter and can’t sing… but he enters a song writing contest to honor his late wife of 73 years. The producers of the contest love his heart and honor him in an amazing way. Have a tissue handy. 😉

Sarah and Fred weren’t looking for their 15 minutes of fame. They were everyday people acting on what they feel passionate about… and touched thousands as a result.  Kristin Chenoweth and Green Shoe Studio‘s willingness to push someone else into the spotlight is inspiring and refreshing.

Things That Make Me Happy

I find it sad when someone sees a happy person and says they’re “lucky” based merely on how they appear from afar.  Lucky is winning the lottery or getting that parking space up front. Happiness is not lucky, it’s a choice. It isn’t dependent on your circumstances. I believe gratitude is the thread that links happy people. It’s too easy to get tricked into focusing on what isn’t right in our lives, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll miss out. Stopping to notice the things that excite, inspire and warm us is a good exercise to keep the balance.

Here are some things that make me happy –  in no particular order:

1. A man who looks at me like I’m the most beautiful woman in the world. (I think he needs glasses, but that’s okay!)
2. Being a mother. It’s my favorite.
3. A sunbeam to sit in.
4. Birds on a wire make me smile without fail.
5. Playing with sparklers.
6. Color – I looooooove colors. All of them. Together.
7. Fabric and its possibilities
8. A box of new crayons
9. Fireworks. I don’t ever want them to stop!
10. The feel of a book in my hands.
11. The electricity of brainstorming with creative people.
12. Open windows letting in the breeze.
13. All four seasons.
14. Cool grass on my bare toes.
15. Freshly baked bread. The smell, the texture, the warmth.
16. A homemade meal and all the people I love around the table. Bliss.
17. Our big backyard full of family and friends.
18. Creating. Quilting, drawing, painting, decorating, making things from toilet paper rolls…
19. Sister moments with special women.
20. The feeling of finishing a project!
21. Taking pictures.
22. Folding laundry. The feel of the fabric through my fingers, the warmth and the fresh smell.
23. A clean house.
25. Playing board games with my kids.
26. The beach.
27. Freshly shaved legs (mine).
28. A freshly shaved face (his).
29. Having a space to create – love my studio.
30. Chocolate. (remember, I said in no particular order)
31. The smell of freshly mowed grass.
32. Trees – their beauty and intricacy.
33. A good massage.
34. Rainbows made by chandelier crystals hung in my windows.
35. The smell after a hard rain.
36. Devotions with the Hunk in hushed tones before bed.
37. Laughing so hard I can’t breathe.
38. Antics with my sister. <3
39. Singing. I can’t not sing.
40. The feel of freshly washed sheets.
41. Having all of my kids under my roof at one time.
42. Crisp fall breezes.
43. Finding great bargains.
44. The way handwork feels between my fingers.
45. Playing with the band/orchestra. Being a small part of something magical… exhilarating.
46. Being outdoors.
47. The energy I feel after a hard workout.
48. The night sky loaded with stars.
49. Being on the water. Growing up, my family always had a boat, and it still invigorates me immensely.
50. Christmas lights.
51. Flowers
52. Playing in the snow.

Each time I proof read this I add a couple more things to the list…. and that’s the point. 😉  What makes you happy?

{Book} Nurture Your Creative Spirit

A few years ago I wrote a post about quilt artist and teacher, Vikki Pignatelli, and her willingness to help a newbie quilt artist. I finally had the opportunity to meet and work with Vikki in person, and she is the real deal.

In the spirit of creating fearlessly, I want to rave about her new book, Nurture Your Creative Spirit: Wisdom and Insight Learned Through the Art of QuiltingThough Vikki’s insight is gleaned from her quilting journey, the truths contained in her book apply to any artist, regardless of your chosen medium.

Vikki writes in a style that feels like you’re snuggled into a big, comfy chair, sipping tea with a close friend while she shares the behind-the-scenes of her creative process. She discusses traits that nurture creativity (humor, flexibility, curiosity), and how our life experiences can influence our art and foster creative growth if we let it. Full of rich photos and practical advice, this is a book you will go back to again and again.

You can see a sneek preview of the book here.

Tuesdays Unwrapped: Messy and Unexpected on a Tuesday

I was excited when Emily announced that Tuesdays Unwrapped would return for the month of December. Then last Friday hit, and I wondered if I’d have the oomph to even bother. I read her post today and saw the theme for the month – “celebrating the lovely, the messy and the unexpected” – and I cried. Again. Because the messy and unexpected has rattled my cage hard. And I wondered what in the world I could muster up to celebrate that.

Friday my sister was diagnosed with a sneaky type of breast cancer. All-of-a-sudden her world is upside down and her days are consumed with doctors and emotions. A mastectomy looms large before the year is up. I’m 900 miles away and can’t kiss it better. I hate that.

So my Tuesday attempt centers around the thought of my lovely sister battling an unexpected enemy. But every miracle begins with a mess… so I’m unwrapping His treasures hidden in dark places.

31 Days: The Fearless Artist

Fearless Artists are confident in their calling.
They know how to embrace their own style.
They surround themselves with the right people.
They say yes to what scares them, using fear to direct instead of paralyze.
They are flexible and willing to take risks.
They don’t hide behind someday.
Fearless artists keep moving, no matter what.
They don’t worry about perfect.
They remember that making art is fun.
They don’t let limitations deter them.
They make art every day.

We are fearless artists.

This is Day 31.  I’m so happy you’ve joined me on this journey, and I would love to hear your story. The world needs your voice. Go, make art!
All posts in the series can be found on this page.

On Being an Artist Who Happens to be Christian

The past two weeks I had the opportunity to be a part of Regent’s Film Camp teaching the Animation track. What a blast!!  I had five campers under my charge, and we covered a LOT of material. There is nothing as exciting as watching the lights come on in these young minds as I helped them draw their creativity to the surface. [ No pun intended. Really 😉 ] It was an honor like no other.

My favorite part of camp was joint time we spent each morning with all the campers. Our theme for the week was Creation (God’s first act recorded in the bible) and our role as artists. We began the day with a film clip of some sort, and the instructors took turns presenting short devotionals that fit our theme.
This time was a watering hole of sorts for me.
It reminded me of how very much I LOVE film – my insides literally tickle watching behind-the-scenes footage and working with cameras, lights, scripts. Even working with high-schoolers creating silly short films is magical.

It also reignited my passion to change the face of what people consider “Christian” art. It helped to be with other like-minded artists passionate for Jesus.

Today, Jim LePage posted a video that encapsulates this passion and exposes the fallacy of common Christian thought regarding the arts much better than I could articulate. The video is produced by Mars Hill, and they were kind enough to post the URL to share this video with you.