Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oh Josie . . . links and work from home

Oh Josie . ..
(I think I say this 10,000 times a day)

On this day I gave her both sensory boxes- one with beans and one cornmeal- as I was trying to prepare supper, because she would not let me put her down . . .
knowing full well that she would likely dump them all over the floor . . . 
which she promptly did, and spent an entire ten minutes dancing in . ..
and sometimes, you know, those strategic ten minutes are worth the hour you will spend washing cornmeal out of the cracks in the floor later.  
I so love this girl.
Favorite Links This week . ..

Our friend Tim is blogging again.  I have been hoping he would come back to blogging!  He is a pastor in Madison, Wisconsin, a reader and thinker and a great heart.  You will want to follow his blog.

I really liked this post I found from Tim's Blog, Faithful is the New Radical.

I love everything that Emily at Chatting at the Sky writes, but this one was one of my favorites, one thing that will make your soul explode:
Our souls were not made for fame. 
Ruth's poem, Oceans, is perfect; about our relationship with technology and our longing for mystery.

Do What You Love at Simple Mom this week was especially encouraging:
But here’s what I’ve come to find in the few years since I’ve rediscovered my love of writing: Practicing this craft, and letting my love for it pour out on the paper and the screen, multiplies my love for my kids and my spouse. Much like having another baby enlarges your heart, exercising the gift and the passion I’ve been given makes me a better lover, not worse.
I love these Ten Tips to Steal Like an Artist

Especially number 9, be boring (it's the only way to get work done.)  I definitely feel like I am becoming more and more boring!  And happy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

where there is no art

For Mother's Day Jim gave me a new moleskin, blank pages, and my favorite pens.  Have you noticed that he gives perfect gifts?  Lately I am flooded with ideas.  Soaring in them, like Annie's little flying girls.  Paint all over our kitchen table.  There are not enough hours in the day.

I am trying to keep the writing plate spinning, too.  And the mothering one, yes.  Laundry.  Meals are nice.  We have decided next year to add the homeschool plate.

For now, rather than feeling overwhelmed, I am energized.  Happy.

Finally I am at a place where mothering and creating can- in some small, clumsy, messy ways- overlap.

But it isn't just circumstance.  Something has been dislodged, opened up.

For years there was no art in me.  I was bare, empty, quaking.  When we got married for a year my job was to paint, and this would have been a dream except that I had no color and I had no courage.

Creativity leans so heavily on courage . . . and not only for art making.  Creative-courage is necessary for any well-lived life: to be open to change, flux, risk, vision, experiment, generosity.  To be open to being wrong is a part of creativity.  

So, too, is a healthy spirituality.

I have been thinking of how naturally creativity reflects the spiritual journey.

I spent many years trying to exist in a firmly left-brained spirituality . .. (It was not a particular church so much as the way that many church-es tend to lean so heavily on the logic side of faith: capital T Truth).

And while I was trying desperately to adapt, I was also becoming increasingly tired.  Anxious.  Insecure. . . All enemies of creativity.

A few weeks ago I read a note from a friend apologizing for missing something, forgetting something, leaving a wrong impression at church the night before . .. and my heart just breaks for her because I so remember those waves of anxiety: I would drive home from church rehearsing- did I say something wrong?  Did I leave a wrong impression?  Was I out of line?  What did this mean? 

Beware of places where there is no art.  Whether it be churches, relationships, environments: there needs to be space for art. . . . and I use the term art in the loosest possible way . .. personality. quirks. experiment. mistakes. poetry. uncertainty. nuance. imperfection. prophecy. risk.

Beware of religion that leaves you more fearful than free.  It's not that the religion itself is bad, but that something is missing.

Just as a faith that gravitates toward the emotional/artistic//human side of faith may lack a structure or doctrinal foundation, so a faith that excludes these things may resemble all bones with no flesh.

Since moving to Cleveland we have landed in a church that blends both aspects of faith- Spirit and Truth.  There is room here for both the rational and the creative, and so too for discussion, questions, flow of life.  It is wonderfully liberating, both in my faith, and in my living.

I've had this post sitting in my drafts for weeks now, but unsure how to finish it or whether it really needed saying . . . but today I read something that drew a parallel on the reverse:

I have noticed lately a lot of discussion among women bloggers over pinterest, and I kept wondering what all the fuss is about?  Facebook I have at times found to feel unhealthy.  But Pinterest?  Pinterest is my oasis during the day, where I go for inspiration and energy.

Today Gypsy Mama wrote on facebook, "I think there are 2 types of pinterest people: those it inspires and those it tires.  I am of the latter variety."

. . . and I thought, Ah-ha!  That's it!  That is the way I used to feel in church, tired.

Thankfully church is not Pinterest, so that logical, non-creatives must shut down or force themselves to get excited about chalkboard paint.  But it doesn't have to be so logical that creative people find the air sucked out of them, either.

The church is Yes, And.  The church is Beauty and Truth.  Righteousness and Peace.  The church is Jesus, who is Freedom and Life.  Abundant Life.

Love and faithfulness meet together;
    righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,

    and righteousness looks down from heaven.

Psalm 85:10,11

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

how to hope and what to hope for

"The big question is how to hope and what to hope for."

I have been thinking about this quote by May Sarton (from her book, Journal of a Solitude).  It is the big question, isn't it?  We naturally hope for healthy children, a happy marriage, fulfilling career, honest friendships, enough money to not have to worry . . . And when it all falls apart, we think that it must be a terrible mistake, a problem to be fixed or difficulty from which to flee?

I read this quote (found at study in brown), and it kept knocking against the May Sarton quote in my brain all week:

We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s alright, everything is alright. We must say, “I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.” And this … is our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord.
~ Mother Theresa

Maybe the way to truly live your one wild and precious life will look completely different than what we think we hope for.   Maybe I am only beginning to learn how to hope.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Community Art Project: Beauty out of Brokenness

I have been wanting to share a collaborative art piece that we did together at the women's retreat a few weeks ago.
(Here it is not quite completed).

Our theme was on finding God in the broken or fragmented places in our lives.

My friend Maria came up with this idea for a group art project.  We were asked to bring fabric scraps with us to the weekend, perhaps some that are meaningful or significant.  On the first night we each held a fabric piece and shared the story of the fabric, or what it symbolized for us.

This stained glass pattern was painted onto the canvas beforehand, and each shape had been traced onto a pattern.  Throughout the weekend we cut-out shapes and worked together piecing the fabric onto the canvas.

I think we were all surprised by just how well the mosaic turned out, and of how meaningful it was for us as a group.

The mosaic symbolizes the way that we are all different, all broken; we come broken to God and He transforms, brings beauty out of ashes, makes all things new.

Also meaningful is the way that this piece holds so many stories, places that we are holding up to God and asking for His light and healing to shine through.

It meant a lot to work on this together as a group.  Throughout the weekend as we casually cut and glued, discussed the fabrics and where to place the colors, there was a sweet spirit of fellowship and holy creativity.

The art now hangs in our church, a symbol of stories and hope, beauty out of brokenness, the beauty of the body of Christ.

I love these ladies!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

education (revisited)

 A year ago I wrote a post struggling through our decision to homeschool our then soon-to-be kindergartener, or to send her to public school.  I received some great comments, from people I respect, on both sides of the issue.   We ended up going with public school for kindergarten.

And it has been great.

Honestly, I have had no complaints, and neither has Sam.  She has come home happy every single day.  Every day I ask her what was the best and worst thing about her day, and she has not ever had a worst thing.  I really like her teacher and have been happy with her learning, her friends, etc.

But we have decided to begin homeschool next year!

I am excited, very at peace with the decision, and I am happy that our choice is not a reaction to anything but rather choosing the better (for us) of two good things.

I am thankful for a good friend who is also homeschooling her daughter next year.  This week we swapped kids for a day, so we could each have a day to plan and do some research.

As I was researching I was able to see again just why I believe this is the right decision for us:

-Over the past four years I have read and bookmarked dozens and dozens of blogs and pages related to homeschool.  The fact that I have always been drawn to these blogs, that I find such pleasure in thinking about homeschooling my kids, is one good indication that I am doing this from my heart and not out of some sense of guilt or duty.

-I believe we can give our kids a joyful and passionate education.

-I want to live without regret.  All of the fears that I wrote about last year have not gone away, but I want to choose to live from my heart and my gut rather than from fear.

-Rush.  We intentionally kept Sami out of a lot of activities this year, but still our afternoons felt rushed.  I did not like that her teacher spent more waking hours with her than I did.  I want to keep our lives calm, with time for lessons and sports that do not fill up all of our family time.

-Let them be kids.  We do want to protect our kids from the influences of the culture, from growing up too fast, and to give them plenty of uninterrupted time for play and imagination.

-Flexibility.  Amen.

Of course there are plenty of reasons why it would be easy to at least delay homeschooling for another year.  I want to write, I want to make art, and I don't feel like I need to give either of those up.  Rather, I am believing that schooling my kids will in ways feed my art, and vice versa.  Maybe it will not be in the amounts of time that I would like, but I believe there is room for both.  And, to remember that this is a season of life; I want to live it to it's full.

I have posted and will continue to update a Homeschool page with some of our favorite links and resources on the sidebar.  Find it here.  And my homeschool board on pinterest is here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

love one another: art + links

Another very simple painting that we did together recently. 
I printed out "love one another" in a large font 
(I don't remember what size?),
cut-out the letters
(imperfectly- we aren't going for perfection here),
and taped them to the canvas.
I have also done this with contact paper, which sticks better but is difficult to pull the backing off.
We painted the entire canvas in whatever shades of blue we liked,
not worrying too much if we smudged under the letters.  
After the paint was dry we pulled the letters off, revealing the white underneath.
Someday this will be part of a collage in the girls' bedroom,
for now it hangs out on our craft shelf.

+ two great posts:

What if the reason there are television screens in every godforsaken corner of the U.S., and rampant alcoholism in Russia, and endless electronic distraction in Japan, is because the average man and woman need something, anything, to tamp the intensity of bearing a soul in this soul-crushing age?What if we writers are able to tell stories of hurt and joy only because something in us is dulled enough to look them full in the face?
Enough: or why we should all be laughing hysterically in the magazine aisle by Rachel Held Evans
 But the way I see it, TIME gave us a something of a gift. By stripping that cover of all pretense, it revealed in plain language the lie behind so much of the media’s messages for women: If you aren’t a sexy, put-together, powerful, super-mom, who breastfeeds her kids until they’re four while baking apple pies, making crayon art, and investing in a successful career,  then you’re a failure. You will always fall short. You will never be enough.  Such an idea is so absurd, it should elicit laughter, not groans.  It’s like millionized lashes and fortified fruit science—too stupid to take seriously!
And yet a small part of us believes it.
Why?This whole idea of the “ideal woman” is one reason I decided to take on my year of biblical womanhood project.  I hated how well-intentioned pastors and leaders were taking the Bible I loved so much and turning into yet another magazine cover that asks:  “Are you biblical enough?”

Friday, May 11, 2012

the creative process, and places I thought I'd never go


  Annie must have snapped these pics of Sami attempting to compose her very first email.  I love this series because I think it describes my writing process precisely!  HA!

While Sami is writing and reading these days, Annie is drawing-- always pictures of girls soaring through the air, pigtails flying behind them. 

And then there are the things I swore I'd never do . . . 

We went to a pet store this week.  On purpose.  (Forgive me pet people, but I have to control my gag reflex just walking into a pet store!)  Because we needed to buy bedding for our new baby bunny . . .

Her name is Fluffy.  Because we are wildly original.

She is all thanks to my dad who is already my kids' Best Buddy, and now officially their hero for convincing their mother that they can have a pet.  (Ok, I'll admit, it is pretty darn cute).  (How to housetrain a rabbit -- another thing I never thought I would google).  

Now I am off to pack the car; we are taking Fluffy and heading to the country for the weekend, stopping on our way to pick up my lovely mom at the airport who was visiting my brother Joe in L.A. this week.

This pictures makes me smile- two of my very favorite people.

Happy Mother's Day to my fun, creative, joyful Mom.  I am so glad you are my mom!

And Happy Mother's Day to the wonderful mothers I know.  I hope that you will find great joy in the gift of motherhood, and will take time this weekend to celebrate this messy, humble, glorious work!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

being together

I wish I had pictures of our women's retreat this weekend . . . they would be glowing green and fly-away blue.  I was even greeted by a red sly fox as I sat beneath the trees, sketching life.

But a picture would not be accurate because you would need to feel the sun and hear the breeze . . . and in the background the music of voices.

But not just voices . ..

When women come together something magical happens.  They transform a place.

I need these voices, this gathering together, these conversations.

I need the community of women- every age and personality and persuasion- because they all teach me, they all are beautiful.

This is the church-

-and it happens only in the friction and rub, the grappling for words, the subtleties of expression, the anointing of prayer.

I found my spirit nourished not only from the time away, the time beneath the trees, the glory of nature . .. but most from this connection with other women; honesty, being together, being heard.  It is holy ground.

There is a sacredness of sharing together.

"Our stories are sacred!  They are oral stories of God.
Being able to speak words releases something.
Humans find God's presence primarily through relationships."-Mattie Marie Mast

This is the beauty of the church.