Mama

287081_262976693714593_7875297_oAs I sat down to begin to share all that is unfolding in my life and work right now. I felt that I could not move forward in my narrative without taking the time to share with you the most significant change that has rocked my world, because nothing that is happening to me now, or ever will happen going forward will mean anything outside of the context of this one earth shattering event.

I lost my mama.

It is hard to write anything more about that. How can I adequately describe what that means in my life? My mama was a fixed navigational point in my life. Her presence, her wisdom ,her influence, her goodness, could be depended on whatever might come. Whatever happened in my life, good or bad, could not be fully understood outside of the context of mama. I did not celebrate or mourn without her.

She was the best there was. Jesus is blessed to have her.

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Ditching the To-Do

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Right at the end of last year, I was flipping through Facebook and an article popped into my view that made my gut lurch.  It was called something like “52 Weeks to organize your life.”  I had an overwhelming visceral negative reaction to this title. I recoiled from it like it was a cobra, I promise you.

Why?

I’ll tell you.

I am forty-six and I’ll be gosh`darned if I am going to spend one more minute of my life trying to improve myself to meet some artificial, constantly shifting arbitrary standard of what an acceptable woman ought to be!

I have spent years of my life bogged down in to-do lists and goal setting, an never, ever feeling like I have accomplished anything. I have used these lists as a weapon against myself to prove just how short I fall compared to the measuring stick of womanhood.  Satan has beat me over the head with uncompleted tasks, messy closets, and Bible verses left unmemorized and left me feeling condemned and ashamed. I am sure many of you have felt it. It is that false identity of “not enough.” It is the ache in the pit of the tummy that tells me that no matter what, I will never ever be or do enough.

Enough for what?

Enough for love?

Enough of that! I quit! It is a lie and I refuse to believe it, and so should you.

How do I know it is a lie? Because Romans 8:1 says to me that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, if I feel condemned it is a lie! Even when the condemnation is coming from my own self it is an outright, bald faced lie of the enemy.

I refuse to believe that mess, and so should you.

I am enough. I am more than enough. I am enough of my family, my friends and myself. I am most certainly enough for my God. I mean, he gave me the Spirit right when I was in the middle of being at my worst. He reached down and picked me up right when I had dug down as low as I could possibly go. Does that sound like a Father who would be disappointed in me because I have not spent enough of my time memorizing scripture or organizing closets?

So, this year I am ditching the goal setting and the to-do lists. I am keeping my eyes on dreams and desires, and letting that lead me. I am refusing to feel condemned by a messy house or a missed appointment. The funny thing is that life is moving along just fine. I am loving myself right where I am and it is good. Join me?

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The Stone Collective- May

The Stone Collective Final logo

 

The Stone Collective is a community making much of Jesus as we create art, photography, prose, poems or music that commemorate the wonderful things God does in our life. Based on the passage in 1 Samuel 7:12-14, each month we will collect Ebenezer Stones as a regular practice in the art of worship via our creativity. Want to join in on The Stone Collective? Create your own Stone and link up to LIVE IT OUT! Blog. #TheStoneCollective

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Therapy Squares

 

Truth- I have been in a difficult place with my art for a while.  Life stuff has overwhelmed me, and I have been stuffing it instead of processing and working through it.  I am a little angry with God at the moment. I have been afraid to tell Him.  With a little help from a friend, I have started to open the hurt place up.

These little collages are a part of the process.  Yesterday, I made myself sit down and create uninterrupted for an hour.  That has been a struggle for me for a while.  I can usually give it 15 minutes and then I start to get antsy.  For my hour, all I did was rip papers  and glue them down, working on four squares at a time. No thinking is allowed, I just let the Spirit lead.  I know God is faithful.  I know he is working,  I know I can trust Him.  I just need to get out of the way.

Map Art Lab Book Release and Giveaway

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I finally have, here in my eager little hands, a copy of THE BOOK!

Of course I am referring to Map Art Lab: 52 Exciting Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination and Travel.

Before we go much farther, let me invite you to comment on this blog post for an opportunity to win a free copy of THE BOOK.  At the bottom of this post you will find a list of links to the pages of all the other contributors who are participating in this blog hop, and also giving away a copy.  Read and comment on all of them to increase your chances to win. The winners names will be drawn on May 16 ( the same day that my Prayer Pouch Necklace online workshop begins, incidentally.) Trust me that you want to have this book.  Imagine having a prompt for a map related art project for every week of the year!  I know, it is almost more that you can handle!

Of course, I am excited to have been included among the wildly talented and esteemed contributors of the book. Two projects of mine are featured in the project pages.

Abstract Map Bowls

Abstract Map Bowls

Abstract Map Bowls

Abstract Map Bowls

These map bowls are created from old wooden salad bowls found at yard sales and thrift stores.  They are  multi-layered with paints and collage.  Each of them represents a landscape that is real, or fictional.  You will need to get the book to get the details, but I will share this close-up and insight about my “Hometown” bowl.

Close-up of "Hometown"

Close-up of “Hometown”

I grew up in Crozet, Virginia.  Crozet is a small town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  When I was a kid it was a small, rural community.  Everyone knew each other. It was a wonderful place to be a kid.  In this detail shot, you can see three purple houses in the subdivision picture in the middle of the bowl.  One is my childhood home.  The other two represent the homes of my two best friends, Beth and Carrie.  I still love those girls.  I still love Crozet!

Prayer Scroll

Prayer Scroll

The second project I have in the book is this Prayer Scroll.  I made this scroll as a gift for my daughter, who was adopted from Ethiopia in 2007.  It shows our journey to her. Again, you will have to get the book for more detailed information on this project.

Prayer Scroll

Prayer Scroll

Thank you so much to Jill Berry and her sister, Linden McNeilly for asking me to be part of this beautiful project.  It is such an honor to be included among such talented artists.

I have to tell you that I am pretty darned excited about this book for much more than my artwork being included.  Each project is written with detailed, easy to follow instructions that are awesome for kids of all ages.  Educators will love working through these exercises with their students.  My two kiddos are homeschooled.  They participate in a weekly art class with dear friend of mine.  We have already started laying plans for working through some of the projects with the group.  I am also really stoked to do some of these projects on my own.  I love prompts to help get creative juices flowing, and having one for every week of the year is fabulous!

Can you tell I am excited? You will be too when you get your copy.  I hope you win one from myself or one of the other contributors listed below. Visit each of them.  Read and comment, and please share this post with your friends on Facebook, via email and twitter. Let us know where you shared it! Thanks!

May 7 Linden McNeilly http://www.facebook.com/lindenmcn
May 8 Kim Rae Nugent  http://kimraenugent.blogspot.com/
May 9 Cynthia Morris  http://www.originalimpulse.com/art/
May 13 Janet Fox  http://janetsfox.com/
May 14 Tony Kehlhofer  http://www.maps4kids.com/
May 15 Laurie Mika  http://www.mikaarts.com/

Paint Giveaway at The Graceful Artist

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I am  very excited that Jerry’s Artarama is sponsoring my Prayer Pouch Necklace Class with a giveaway of $45 worth of Matisse Derivan Structure Acrylics in the colors of my choosing.

If you would like to be entered into the drawing, pop over to my blog post on The Graceful Artist website.  All you need to do is share the post, and comment on the blog telling me that you shared it.

While you are there, take a look at my class and the other classes that are being offered!

Class Pouches

The Stone Collective- April

The Stone Collective Final logo

 

The Stone Collective is a community making much of Jesus as we create art, photography, prose, poems or music that commemorate the wonderful things God does in our life. Based on the passage in 1 Samuel 7:12-14, each month we will collect Ebenezer Stones as a regular practice in the art of worship via our creativity. Want to join in on The Stone Collective? Create your own Stone and link up to LIVE IT OUT! Blog. #TheStoneCollectiveProphecy

The list above is prophecy that was given for me in a small group led by my Worship Pastor a few years ago.  I remember that experience sharp detail.  I remember the voices of each person in turn sharing what they saw or heard or felt.  I love this little piece of paper so much.  I read it often to remind me of who I am in Him.

DLP Springtime

The Stone Collective -March

The Stone Collective Final logo

The Stone Collective is a community making much of Jesus as we create art, photography, prose, poems or music that commemorate the wonderful things God does in our life. Based on the passage in 1 Samuel 7:12-14, each month we will collect Ebenezer Stones as a regularly practice in the art of worship via our creativity. Want to join in on The Stone Collective? Create your own Stone and link up to LIVE IT OUT! Blog. #TheStoneCollective

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The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm16:5-6

 

Pure in Heat- 24x24" Mixed Media $350

Pure in Heat- 24×24″ Mixed Media $350

I am a woman at a crossroads. I have been approaching it for a while, seeing it from far off, not expecting to reach it so terribly suddenly. I am forty-five. I have a very definite patch of white hair appearing and spreading at the edge of my forehead. I don’t feel old. I feel much younger and stronger now than I did just a year ago. I don’t feel like I am at the end of anything, on the contrary I am at a beginning. I am also at a place of looking behind and surveying what has come before. It is a good place to be.

It is not without heartache. My son is thirteen. Thirteen means pulling away from mom. It means attaching more to dad, becoming interested in learning the ropes of manhood. It means learning to find his own way, be his own person, think his own thoughts, have his own opinion. It is a beautiful and bittersweet becoming. I feel of two minds about this process. I am proud beyond description of the responsible, handsome and intelligent young man he is becoming. I ache for the little boy who was my best buddy and co-conspirator for the previous twelve years.

Adam at the NC Museum of Art

Adam at the NC Museum of Art

My daughter is ten. She is a mature ten, both physically and socially.  We are in the midst of the dance that adolescent girls and their moms do, the spinning away and crashing back together again that causes may bumps and bruises to our hearts. I remember dancing this dance with my mom. It was painful for both of us. I am not happy with who I was then. It is easier being on the other side of it for me. My girl crashes softly into me, and I do my best to absorb the impact so that she can spin away unharmed and full of joy.

Messa in my prom shoes

Messa in my prom shoes

They need me less. Also bittersweet. It has been us three (plus dad) for seven years. We stumbled our way through homeschool together. We had grand adventures. We loved and connected deeply. I am so grateful for those years of connectedness and long and full days spent together. I am grateful for the trust they put in me to hold their hearts and guide their paths. I am grateful that it was not me who did any of it, but Christ in me. I have done nothing worthwhile outside of that.

That is the looking back. It is good.

And now, I look forward. What is in store for me as my babies become adults and grow more independent with each passing day?

I have had a growing desire, an intense dream. It has always been with me, but sort of tucked to the side. It was something for later on. In this season, my dreams and desires are getting bigger and bolder. They are demanding attention, refusing to be ignored.  I have been reading a book called “Million Little Ways: Uncovering the Art You were Made to Live” by Emily P. Freeman. It has been timely. In chapter two, the author talks about the biblical assertion that we are created by God in his image in oder to good work, the work he has set out before us to do.  She writes, “But this type of work we are to do is not the kind that comes from the outside, like a task we discover or approach. It isn’t a talent or a skill we go to school to perfect.  This word for “work” is the type that assumes the completion of an inner desire.”  Where does my desire come from?  What is my desire for? My greatest desire is to glorify God. The verse from Psalm 16 at the beginning is right where I am living now.  I am camped out at this place of immense gratitude for His presence and work in my life. I am immeasurably grateful for the beautiful years of growth and joy I have had with my children the opportunities He has given me to serve and give and love.  I want whatever I do to be an outpouring of this gratitude. I want it to be a huge neon arrow pointing at THE ONE without whom nothing good would ever come to or from me.  My desire to paint, to create beauty is all about expressing that gratitude in the language that God has gifted me with in order to carry out that exact purpose.  He has given me the desire to make art.

As I have prayed for God to pilot me through these channels over the last month, so many good things have begun to open up and burst forth for me.  I have excellent opportunities to create and teach in arenas where my efforts will glorify Him and not myself. I would be lying if I didn’t also say I am grateful for provision. We are at a place where some additional income is needed. I am desiring greatly to be an income source for the family, rather than just the spender.  He is providing ways and means toward that for us.

So I will share this again-

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm16:5-6

 

 

Chickens Y’all!

On Monday of this week the kiddos and I traipsed out into the countryside to the home of a sweet friend for lunch and adventures with chickens. My friend, Khris, is the wife of Jim, my tattoo artist. Jim was in the tattoo business for about 30 years, but has recently retired. The two are enjoying the country life and freedom from the pressure of owning a business.

Khris and I keep up with one another on Facebook. She shares often about her chickens, which I have fallen in love with from afar. I am a chicken lover, it is true! Khris gave me the names for these two when she saw the painting posted on Facebook. She said the looked just like her Helen and Hannah, and the name stuck.

Available at Swank Coffee in Southern Pines, NC.

Original painting available at Swank Coffee in Southern Pines, NC. Pendant necklaces available on my “shop” page.

We had a fabulous time with Khris and Jim and the chickens!

Khris and the kids.

Khris and the kids.

Lucky and Dirty Mary

Lucky and Dirty Mary

Dirty Mary

Dirty Mary

Katie

Katie

Helen and "Chuck" Morris

Helen and “Chuck” Morris

Morris looking Faahhbulous!

Morris looking Faahhbulous!

Khris sent us home with a dozen of the prettiest eggs you have ever seen. Messa could tell you more about who they belong to.  I only know for sure that the big white one  in the back came from Dirty Mary.

 

Natural Easter eggs!

Natural Easter eggs!

My amazing young man loves Omelets, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to teach him how to make them.  He nailed it!

Adam's Omelet!

Adam’s Omelet!

Khris, we had the very best time.  Thank you so much. I hope we can see much more of each other soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get this Book!

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I have another big announcement to share with you. I am honored to be among the artists featured in the beautiful book you see above. My sweet friend Jill Berry, has been a cheerleader and encourager to me for the past several years. We met when I took a class from her at Art and Soul in Virginia. We hit it off, and have been pals since. She is an incredibly talented artist, and one of the most generous and supportive instructors I have ever had the pleasure of taking a class with.

Jill loves maps. She loves to create maps as art. Her first book on the subject of maps as art, Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed Media Mapmaking, was published in 2011. It is still one of my favorite mixed media books. I had shared some of my own map art with Jill a long while back, and she said she wanted to include them in her next book. Sure enough, when the time came, she contacted me about those pieces, and asked me to do another special project for her. So, I have a couple of different projects in this new book which is due out in May.

Map Art Lab: 52 Exciting Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination and Travel, is co-authored with Jill’s sister, Linden McNeilly, who is an educator. It includes 52 labs to lead the explorer on adventures in map art making. It is a great guide for artists, art educators, and anyone just needing a little play time. I am looking forward to working through some of the labs with my kiddos and some of their homeschool friends.

The book is available for pre-order now, so order your copy. You will love it, I promise!

The Stone Collective- February

The Stone Collective Final logo
The Stone Collective is a community making much of Jesus as we create art, photography, prose, poems or music that commemorate the wonderful things God does in our life. Based on the passage in 1 Samuel 7:12-14, each month we will collect Ebenezer Stones as a regularly practice in the art of worship via our creativity. Want to join in on The Stone Collective? Create your own Stone and link up to LIVE IT OUT! Blog. #TheStoneCollective

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Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood. —Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

What is an Ebenezer Stone anyway? The word Ebenezer coms from two Hebrew words, Even for stone and Ezer for help. So, an Ebenezer is a stone of help. The first Ebenezer stone was place by Samuel-

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 17:12

This is right after the Israelites have repented and turned back to God. Samuel intercedes for them, and the result is that God helps them in battle against the Philistines. Samuel placed the stone as a remembrance of God’s help.

I wanted my Ebenezer this week to be a literal depiction of a stone monument. I have been battling my own Philistine for a long time. I, myself, am also that Philistine. You see, I have struggled for years with my weight and food addiction. I have always been heavy, now in my mid-forties, my youth is slipping away, and with it, my health.

About nine months ago, I started (again) on a journey of trying to get healthy. At the time, I didn’t follow any set diet. I eat clean, and exercise more. I just began trying to eat cleaner and move more. Over the summer, it was easy. Fresh veggies were abundant. I met my friends Jean Skipper and Jodi Ohl at the pool regularly to tread water. I even spent the big bucks to spend a week at Hilton Head Health. I saw great progress. But, there was still that nagging craving, obsession with food. Over the Fall and Winter, I managed to keep most of the weight off that I had gained, but in December and January, the scale took a tremendous jump up.

I decided that I really needed to jump start myself again, and decided to do the Daniel Fast. I started to do a little digging, and discovered The Daniel Plan from Pastor Rick Warren. I decided to do the detox outlined in his book. I convinced my hubby to do it with me. We committed to a forty day detox beginning Sunday, February 28. About that time, I also found that fellow Stone Collective member, Stephanie Ackerman, was committed to the Daniel Plan, and had. Facebook group set up for support. So, I jumped in there too.

I have tried all kinds of things to lose weight and regain my health. I needed to do something differently. The difference is that this time, it is to only a weight loss journey, it is a spiritual journey as well. I have been more diligent about being in the Word and in prayer. I have really been daily committing my body and health to God. It is working. I had headaches initially, but after a couple of days they subsided. Another thing that I very quickly noticed was missing was the obsession with food and eating and my cravings for all the wrong stuff. It was seriously just gone.

What took me so long to get here? I have been so like the Israelites, I had turned away from God so he couldn’t see what I was eating. I was caught in a loop of self destructive behavior that I just could not break out of on my own. I was my own worst enemy. But, then God….
So, here we are on day thirty-two, and I am seriously never looking back. I want more. I want more health. I want more Jesus. I am so grateful to God for the radical change in my thinking that has completely changed the way I relate to food and eating. I have lost twenty-seven pounds since last Spring. God has brought me this far and I know he will bring me further still. So I raise my Ebenezer to remind me.
Thanks for sticking with me for this long saga. I am looking forward to the months ahead with The Stone Collective. If you would like to join in, head over to the Live It Out blog page for the project- here . Thanks to Sarah Francis Martin for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful project.