Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dinner time now and then

He dipped his finger in the fry sauce, you know the gourmet mixture of ketchup and mayo, and declared that it was delicious and he did like it.  He even dipped his fry in the sauce and took a bite. Welcome to the big time folks,  dinner with kids, showing seven nights a week everywhere.  The kid, he tried a sauce,  a wet, non-solid substance, a miracle, I’m sure.

Then he boasted in trying his dinner, I tried it, I did. 

The boy, he tried the fries and ignored the fish, but you know, good job for effort.

Dinner time around here is a struggle. I’m nearly certain kids were only meant to eat two meals a day. Nearly certain.

The other day, after refusing whatever I was serving, something tasty and made from scratch, he gave wild praises about, wait for it, buttered toast.  The best butter toast ever, he said. 

Huh.  Perhaps, I’ve been trying to hard.

Well, today, when the fry sauce was so wildly exclaimed, that’s when it hit me.

I’m going to make a list of all the dinners, they don’t want to eat for the next fourteen+ years and when they go off to college and tell me how awful the food is, I’m going to send it to them.  That’s what I’m going to do.

That will teach ‘em.

And one day, they’ll beg me, they’ll plead for a delicious home cooked meal.

One day, friends, one day.

Friday, December 28, 2012

On the new and ending the old

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a document on my computer titled, Morning Pages.  For the past five years I’ve kept up with the practice on and off, ever since completing The Artists Way, (highly recommended).  It’s the practice of free writing three pages each morning, to spill your every thought and question, thus creating home for them, so that the open spaces of your brain can be filled with creative energy.  It’s never meant for anyone else to read, so there’s no pressure to spin words perfectly and it does wonders for a head that feels blurry and full—you know, when you’re grasping for thoughts, but they flutter just out of your reach like colorful butterflies in hyper drive when you are stuck in slow motion.

When I opened this document, I expected to see the last date of 12.26.12, instead, it was 12.28.11.  Apparently there are a few of these floating around the corners of my computer memory, but a funny thing happened, as I glanced over the words I had written a year ago, they carried the same questions, truths, and dreams that were on my heart a year later.  Almost identical. And that’s not to say that there hasn’t been growth in this year of 2012, but in the area of creativity and business, I know the journey is so young.  This blog is nothing if not a testament to the various creative enterprises that I’ve tested out and all of them had lead me one step closer to here or there, whatever “that” place is.  I don’t consider them failures, because with each one I learned, expanded my skills, and perhaps, found the courage to try something new. 

When I read the words I wrote from last December, it was just the push I needed to take yet another step.  For a while now, months, even longer, I’ve been weary of selling my art online.  As an artist, a piece of my heart goes into everything I make and then to slap a price on it and say, “hey hey, pick me, pretty please”  is the opposite of inspiring, it’s almost soul-quenching.  It interferes with my creative process as occasionally the thought will swirl around, could I sell this?  And that’s the killer right there.  I will never stop making art, ever, not even if my hands fall off, but I’m tired of the selling lingering in the back of my mind.

And while I have some ideas that I will be pursuing during this next part of the adventure, I have come to a great understanding, or rather have come to the same understanding in a greater way,

I want to write.

I want to write.

I want to write.

Sure, I could do both, but I found myself in a fearful place, when this truest words resounded from my most honest soul, but if I don’t sell my art online, will I still be “considered” an artist?  How will people find my work?  Can you even stand the putrid nonsense of that? I can’t.  Of course, I’m an artist, of course.  Shut up.  And I suppose that when it comes down to it, the right people will always find you, if you are following your heart. If you are taking brave steps that lead you to doors waiting to be opened.   If you roar your dreams into the night sky, they will not go unheard.  The internet is just a tool, a silly/useful tool.

To be even more vulnerable, in the early fall, when I was considering this, I dared to suggest to God, that if I closed my shop, how would extra money even come?  Ha, as if the great creator of the universe was limited to supplying our needs via my tiny little website. And, as it happened, I haven’t sold a piece of art online since August, not a single one.   I know, what a ridiculous thing to say.  I don’t recommend it.

And then the inevitable question that we all come to when we are going forward in any part of life, will you surrender the good for something better?  Your hands will be empty for a while, but only then can they be filled again.  Sometimes, the “good” isn’t really much of anything is, we’re just afraid to let go and hold on to that which we can’t see, because, then what? 

Well.. then anything, really.

And I like possibilities, you know.

All of this to say, I’m closing the shop for an indefinite amount of time on Monday, the 31st.   So if there is anything you’d like to order, do so this weekend.  If there are any original paintings that you have been wanting, send me a message about any offers (I’m open).  

As to whatever happens next, I will be writing it here.

With 2013 just around the next Monday, I am filled with excitement for the new days and opportunities, for the friends that will be made, for the places we will go, for the creativity that will fuel and connect us, for the encouragement and signs that will carry us forward to what awaits.


Molly: You remember when I was a little girl and I could play Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto and everyone was talking about my potential?

Mr. Magorium:  Mhhm.

Molly: Well, I am 23 now and everyone's still talking about my potential but if you ask ‘em to play the song I know best... I'll still play Rachmaninov's Second.

Mr. Magorium: May I suggest you stun the world with Molly Mahoney's First?

Monday, December 10, 2012

like blankets of snow

In the middle of the afternoon, I’m washing dishes, because I’m a rebel of such matters. They are playing in the living room, I hear loud, rambunctious laughter.   It will end with tears, because it will.  Four is having so much fun and little miss nearly two thinks she as big as him, but it gets too rough and then the tears. 

What happened?  I asked.  Harper got hurt, because she fell down, he answered.  I pause and assess the tiny, red mark on her cheek, my eyes studying his.  Did she just fall down? He thinks for a minute and then our eyes meet, honesty pours out of him, with no fear.  No, Harper got hurt because I pushed her and she fell down.  I’m sorry, mama, we were just playing. 

There are hugs and kisses and all is well, she adores her brother and she holds no grudge on these long winter days. 

Daddy works long hours with a new schedule, but down from two jobs for two years to one, we are thankful.  Inside we’ve created a world full of cozy and cheer.  Robot towers and train tracks and well-loved baby dolls.  Coffee in the morning and coffee in the afternoon, meals in-between.  Toys decorate the floor by day, the silence of the tree lights by night.  The new possibilities that may come with spring sit bundled on a shelf, with a sign that reads, do not open until later,  and right now feels good.  Exhausting, but really good.  For one of the first times, probably ever, I am not wishing away all the moments that lead up to what could be.  I find myself walking throughout the house, doing normal motherly-artist things and I’m aware of a feeling that is not to be taken for granted. 

Contentment covers me like the thick blanket of freshly, fallen snow outside my window.

Just Write


Monday, November 26, 2012

Good Morning Sunset

In the mornings, I walk through the house and pull open the blinds, tie back the curtains and let in the light.   I fill the kettle and set it on the stove, in a sweeping motion barely recognized as a motion at all.  We stumble into the rooms without beds and they tell me that they had a good nap.  Yes, good morning mama, I had a good nap.  And it never fails to spread a smile on my face, I don’t even think about correcting them.

Today, he climbed into my lap as I sat in the yellow chair next to the window and he squinted at the sun.  The sun is so bright, good morning sunset.  I corrected him with sunrise, and regretted it immediately.  After all, he’s right isn’t he?  Good morning sunset that makes the snow a glittery blanket of white for now and later will paint the wintry sky before dinner.

And sure there is the rather overwhelming list of needs and requests that these wild things need, a steady downpour of mama, mama, mama, breakfast, so much breakfast, because, of course, they hardly ate their dinner.  So, I fill their bowls and they fill their bellies, sharing half with the floor, while making sure the day starts will plenty of noise.  Perhaps one day she’ll understand that 10 baby dolls can’t fit in the high chair with her and he’ll learn to eat cheerios at a slightly slower… more human speed. (probably not).

Not every part of everything is warm and glorious in life. 

But, the sun is mesmerizing as it rises higher and higher in the sky on this quiet morning at home, after a week of being gone.  A foamy latte is in my resting in my hands.

It’s good to be home. 

Good morning sunset.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The jar of wild collected beautiful and jumping frogs

The steam is rising from the first mug of Christmas blend 2012. The sunlight catches the rim and in the middle of the enlightened area one tiny sparkle dances into my eye. The light stretches diagonally across my old wooden desk highlighting the layers of peeling and scratched wood. My beloved ten dollar garage sale find of a desk, so loved and well altered in the name of many an art project.

A jar holds treasures in a bouquet of random that are not at all random to me. Dried flowers and peacock feathers, found shells from the lake, vintage buttons, spools of thread, knobby sticks, and well loved paint brushes donned in layers of paint. The brushes no longer paint pictures, but their matted bristles carry the stories of my days, days of favorite paintings and struggles and countless times of art as worship, art that compels us to the light, art that brings to the surface that which was previously unseen.

The jar of wild, collected beautiful rests in the path of the morning light casting brave shadows upon the standard white wall. I watch the etchings transform as the sun rises in the sky and something comes alive in my soul on this Friday in November.

My coffee mug is illuminated now, the painted shadows from the jar more or less are faint patches of dark of the wall. I turn and see the sun peeking in from the top corner of the living room window. It is 8:44 am. That fleeting moment is passed, but not forgotten. In the pausing and seeing, we allow these small gifts to become the exposition for the chapter of our days.

On Sunday, we found these hardcover books, dressed in the most decadent vintage patterns. In each book, collections of old stories have lived since 1954. They sat on bookshelves until they were tossed into the donation bin, where they were placed on institutional shelving in the thrift store that smelled bad. Jane Eyre and Les Misérables sparked my interest, but the real appeal was in the the magic of the binding, the painted pages, the golden adornments, the pages rich in old book smell. To our delight, these books were marked at $2.49, as if the employees had no idea of their real value.

I devoured Les Misérables in four days, a story that I thought I knew, but had never read.

If ever there was a story of grace and redemption, it lives here. It says that in a world oozing with broken wretchedness, grace transforms and frees and births new possibilities, unimaginable possibilities. And it speaks of love, the passionate, young, blind version and the kind that grips our beings and changes who we are, beckoning us to compassion and sacrifice and dedication.

In the words of Kathleen Kelly, “read it, I know you'll love it.”

But that isn't even what I wanted to tell you about today. I turned the page and discovered, The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, by Mark Twain. A title like that could not be refused. I read the introduction pages and learned that this was the story that launched the career of Mr. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). As a young journalist, he would sit for hours in bars and listen to drunkards tell their stories to willing ears. I can only imagine the rubbish that he heard, but I think he knew that treasure could be found in most peculiar places. He listened and gathered. And one day, he wrote down this tale about a gambler, a stranger, and a bet on a jumping frog, a bit of regional folklore and submitted it for publishing. It was rejected again and again, until a couple years later, someone said yes. It was rather successful and printed in its own copy. This ridiculous tale is how the world came to know the creator of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. This short story is pure nonsense, nothing but the sheer enjoyment of a good tale that may or may not be true.

As I finished reading, I laughed out loud twice, once for the silliness of it all, and again at the realization this was his first big break. Something so incredibly random and inconsequential. And I thought about how most of us are searching for that “big break,” in whatever it is that we do, the ladder to success and affirmation that we are talented and appreciated for what we love to do. But how much effort do we place on predetermining the value of something, by what it means to us. Oh this isn't any good, it can't be worth finishing or submitting or sharing. Oh, this is just a bit of nonsense, no one will read it. Oh this painting is just average, but not nearly as good as that one over here. And so we go about the limiting the value of our creations, causing them to wither before they even bloom. But, honestly, great creators don't just give away the answers and meaning of things. No they do not, do they?

It's like a mother bird who has nurtured her young and when the time comes, she must allow them to leave the nest. She must accept the chance that their little wings might struggle before they can really fly. And she must be brave enough to send them into the world, because they can not remain in the nest, for if they do, they will never reach their full potential. It would be a tragic waste of wings.

I wonder how much bravery and beauty is being held hostage by us? The ones who aspire to greatness, but fear the journey, criticism, and rejection. How many of us will ignore the jumping frog tales and fleeting shadows on a wall and in doing sacrifice the Huck Finns? What are we suffocating because we simple do not understand what it means and we are not sure what will happen?

Monday, November 12, 2012

New art in shop!

Bunny for Tea Note Cards Set of 5

Hello friends… I’m updating the shop with lots of new prints, paintings, and note cards.  This will be the last update for the year, so be sure to check out the shop soon.

The Umbrellas Set Sail  Original Art on Canvas

A Winter Celebration Original Art on Canvas

A Great North Winter Art Print

Choose Your Adventure Art Print

Coastal Glory Original Art on Canvas

By the Sea Original Acrylic on Canvas

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Warehouse: an allegory

For reasons unknown to us, we had come in possession of a thrift store.  Still dazed with the shock of the news, we turned the lock to the warehouse and stepped into a massive collection of dust coated castaways.  Rows and rows of shelves stocked full of items, once in use and demand.  Stacks of beautiful doors leaned against concrete walls, telling of weathering paint and finger-print stained windows.  Large vases housed strange dusty imitation leaves, ferns, and blossoms.  Wire baskets filled with a myriad of random.

Beyond that I could not say what filled the store, because dreams are always tinted with a blur and if you try looking closer the blur increases.  Am I alone in this?  How certain details of dreams, the ones that you especially want to understand are impossible to see? 

We had just begun to take stock of this place, when customers walked in, the sign read open.  It frustrated me that we couldn’t close for just a while to make sense of the madness, but alas, the doors continued to open and close to sound of an old bell and the questions.

“How much for this?”

“I don’t believe this is worth the price listed, it is broken here and here.”

“Can you tell me where to find what I’m looking for?”

We weren’t sure how the cash register worked, the line swelled with angry, impatient people. We did the best we could, after a few tries we were learning and the anger diffused.  That’s when the authorities came.

“I am Mr.Wiles, Deputy Inspector of Regulations and Restrictions, I’m here to issue this notice that demands you close down shop.  You are in violation of five codes and the city is revoking your license.” 

He wore an ill-fitting suit with a bowler that no longer resembled any current fashion.  His eyes were dark and I could find no sign of a sparkle in them. I tried to make him understand, that we were new and we didn’t know all the details.  I tried to explain that we had received a letter and a key and how not even an hour earlier we walked in those doors for the first time. 

“Well, then you won’t mind surrendering your papers and key,” he answered in a monotone, borderline non-human way. 

I trembled, but with conviction responded, “I’m sorry, but we can’t do that just yet.  I know that we can do something with this place, I know that we can turn it into something really great.  This place is full of treasures yet to be discovered, but we haven’t had enough time. We need time to search through the junk and the dust to find them. We need time to wash away the dirt. You must understand sir, it takes time and we have only just arrived.  Give us an extension and you will see.

He bit the side of his lips and his eyes shifted back and forth, he was pretending to consider my request.  And before he could reject, a lady with tight wrinkles above her nose and a sour expression on her face approached. She wore a perfectly tailored midnight blue suit, a scarf of the same color tied meticulously around her neck.   Each side of the scarf extended the same amount down in either direction.

“Ms. Withers, ma’am of the Department of System Interiors.  It has come to our attention that we have not received your last monthly filings. I am here to collect articles A through G immediately. If you can not hand them over, we have the right to take into our possession this dusty collection of junk.  As you can see, it can not be of any use to you, these piles of waste.  It is nonsense and garbage and we will happily take it off your hands and put them to more practical uses.”

I looked to see Mr. Wiles standing silently, he too was waiting for my resignation.

More passionately than the first time, I took a deep breath and replied,

“Ms. Withers,  just today, we walked into the building for the first time. We don’t know why it has been given to us or anything else, all I can tell you is that from the few moments I have had to explore, I am certain that this nonsense and garbage as you call it has the potential to be turned into something beautiful.  It may look filthy and pointless, but I know that with time and care, you won’t even recognize this place. I don’t know why the last owner stopped seeing that, I don’t know why he gave up.  I don’t have those files for you, but we am here now and from this point on we will be happy to fill out your forms…”

“But protocol requires those documents, I must have those exact forms. This is my job and without those forms, we cannot continue, the system requires it,” Ms. Withers interrupted, her voice trembled at the idea of not obtaining those forms.

“And I must add, that the list of code violations is damning, you simply cannot do what you say.  This place is nothing and can be nothing and you will be better off turning over your papers and keys,” Mr. Wiles said as echoes of the last statement bounces off the walls.

I surveyed the room, the gray concrete walls hovering high above me. I saw the rows that housed shelves of dusty forlorn items, dismissed and cast aside. The dust so thick that the original color was tinted a dismal gray.  I saw areas of furniture gathered according to type, dented and scratched.  The vases filled with flowers that never lived, but even now were dying.  All around me, I saw a society of wood, plastic, textiles, and glass under the rule of the dust and despair so strong that the colors were no longer visible to the human eye.  The air was thick and a heaviness wafted above our heads.

To my left Mr.Wiles in his haphazard black from head to toe and Ms. Withers in her midnight blue.

For a moment, I believe them.  I thought of the time and work that would change this place. I imagined the exhaustion and the piles of junk we’d have to sort through to find the treasures.  I felt the weight of the emotional journey that would come from washing away the layers that hid the beautiful.  The case seemed overwhelming, until I saw it in the corner of my eye.  A large industrial wire basket under a table, filled with empty picture frames and pieces of wood, and curiously, one wool blanket, a soft shade of cream, like sweet butter, with stripes of red, yellow, and blue.  The colors as vibrant as an artist’s palette, a tiny palette of color in world of dull.

And I knew they were wrong. 

“I’m sorry, but you must leave. I can not give you what you want, but you must leave now. We have work to do.”

I said it with certainty and authority, looking them in the eye.  The two of them shook their heads, casting unsure glances at each other.  This breech of protocol left them shaking in their well polished shoes. Ms. Withers raised her hand from the piles of paper in her hands in objection, she began to speak.

“I’m sorry, but you must leave. I will not give you want you want.  We have work to do.”

I interjected, halting the speech from her mouth.  I ushered them towards the door, they protested all the way through and once the doors closed, they stood outside pounding the metal.

But I would not listen and I turned to my husband, our eyes searched each other’s deeply and with a shake of our heads, we pushed up our sleeves and walked towards the world tinted of grey.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On terror and bravery, a true story.

Today I’m filling pages with memories and stories and this one just started pouring out.

After college I spent one year working with a non-profit company that traveled the country presenting character education programs to students K-12.  We set up three giant screens and speakers, the video was full of stories and chart topping hits that would engage and encourage students to be kind, strong, and determined people.  The stories spoke of kids overcoming obstacles and making good choices.  It was relevant and well done.  Overall, this tour was a good experience filled with meeting wonderful people and seeing new places.  Some places were harder than others.  Some places were more forgettable than others. This story is not one of them..

This job brought me to places in the US that I would have never seen on my own. I experienced social norms that felt like foreign countries to me. My view of the world grew  during this year in ways I will never forget.

One day, we traveled to a desert town north of Los Angeles.  The district was new, schools, stores and homes. It was beautiful. We were told that the new development was an attempt to get families out of the roughest L.A. neighborhoods. Gang violence was at a high and there were police dispatched to the schools and extra law enforcement, especially in the after school hours. The drop out rate was higher than the graduation rate.  I went to a high school that has rowing, equestrian, and tennis teams. There were 600 students in my graduating class.  I think two kids dropped out that year.

I stood in a gymnasium of five hundred high school students.The only adults in the room were me, my co-worker, and our contact person, a guidance counselor, who was less than courteous. It didn't take long to see that we were merely babysitters for the next two hours. The students were mostly bigger than me, their faces were hazed with apathy and anger. We gave a brief introduction to the video and I couldn't even hear myself through the PA system. I stopped talking and we pushed play.

They talked and laughed and walked over to their friends. Some turned to face the opposite direction. I was furious at the amount of disrespect that I saw, but not really for myself.  Never in all my years of life had I felt such hopelessness in a room, it didn't matter what I had to say, because it didn't matter what they became.  Why should they believe anything different.

I went to the guidance counselor and asked if I could stop the presentation to speak to the students. She looked at me with huge, amused eyes and said, well, if you wish.  I saw her shaking her head as I turned.

The only light in the pitch black room with no windows and two sets of doors was from the three giant screens that projected the video.

I asked my co-worker to hit pause and with 111% fire in my blood and 110% fear, I  walked to the front of the bleachers and said,

“Excuse me. Excuse me,” could they see me trembling, I don't know, I didn't matter. The fire was burning now. I continued,

“Every day, we travel to schools sharing this video, because we want to encourage students who need someone to tell them that they can do great things and overcome trouble, no matter the circumstances. Never before have I seen such rudeness and disrespect from a group of students and I am afraid for you, because if you don't start caring, you will mess up your life and you may not get a second chance. It doesn’t matter if you remember me or this video, but we are here today to share this and even if you don't want to listen, stop talking so that other students can listen. Thank you.”

The room was silent.

I set the microphone down and walked across the floor. In that moment, I felt like I could climb Everest and crumble into a sopping heap of tears at the same time. It took me five minutes to stop shaking. I was thankful for the darkness. My co-worker looked at me stunned, but proud.

It didn't take long for some noise to resume, but the levels stayed at a minimum. The bell rang just before the end of the video, the students filed through the doors. We torn down our equipment alone, usually students helped. I can't remember if the guidance counselor said good bye or not.

I won’t soon forget that day.  For all the fear that shook me, I could not breathe another moment of the apathy and disrespect that filled the room.  And still, I knew that sitting in those bleachers were kids who did care, kids who had big dreams, and kids who just needed even a sliver of hope. 

The intoxicating mix of terror and bravery are forever scribbled into my memory.  Even as I typed this out today, I trembled remembering those steps to the front of the room.  More than the fear, I remember the presence of the courage and how I shook with fear the entire way, but the courage was leading my steps, pushing me forward. Standing before one thousand eyes, hundreds of lives full of good, bad, beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeless, and hopeful.

There are moments that shape and define us, and even if every single one of those kids walked out of that room unaffected, I drove away with that desert gymnasium forever imprinted in my soul.

I think we forget, I think we’ve been playing by the wrong set of rules and I’m pretty sure that if courage and fear were a game of paper rock scissors, courage could beat fear every time.

Because courage fights for hope and light. Fear fights for darkness.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5


So when your hopes on fire

But you know your desire

Don't hold a glass over the flame

Don't let your heart grow cold

I will call you by name

I will share your road

(Hopeless Wanderer, Mumford & Sons)

Monday, October 15, 2012

On the process and who we are

Today, I started with grey and blue heavily mixed with water,  they dashed and dripped downward, making their own way with happy freedom. Colors washed over each other, changing, becoming, never staying the same.  The thick paper became heavy with layers and depth, wrinkled and full of details and secrets. 

For a brief time there was an arrow and a bird, but they didn't stay, they were only temporary, leading me forward.  As I swept the brush over them, they did not cease, but became part of the canvas, giving way to new possibilities.

And then scraps from torn pages, seemingly insignificant pieces became the focal point. Sometimes, the very smallest things are crucial to the forming process.  So many colors and drips and smears in the painting. 
Mixing and dipping the brush and meeting the page, over and over and over.

Layers were peeled off and sections were wiped clean. 

Until it was done.  In the way that God created the world and when he was done, he stopped and saw that it was good.  It’s like that and so cliche, but you just know.

I thought about the process, how so many times I was unsure of the outcome and I wasn't exactly sure what I was creating, but I knew I must continue, I knew it would come and make all kinds of sense at just the right time.   I wondered if people would see it and be overwhelmed by the uncertainty, when all I saw was this great sense of peace in this act of surrender.  The surrender of letting the paint fall and the colors mix, allowing the layers to build a foundation.  Being open to the uncertainty, and hopeful of the results.

This story of the creative process, it’s the story of us, isn't it.

Are we the paint, the brush or the artist?

And won’t it be so much easier if the brush stopped trying to be the artist, so that together they could create something beautiful?

Friday, October 12, 2012

On fitted sheets and God.

So you know how you click over to the place of Pinterest and there are ten-thousand ever-loving re-pins of the secret to folding a fitted sheet?  I was folding laundry today during my weekly folding afternoon and I pulled a few sheets from the basket, because I have a kid who doesn’t wear diapers anymore, not because I wash all the sheets every week.  I certainly do not.

And every time I take a fitted sheet in my hand, I pause and it makes me think about the caption of that pin, “FINALLY, the secret to properly folding a fitted sheet!  All your problems have now been solved. There is nothing to difficult for you now that you can fold a fitted sheet.  You have arrived.”  It probably says that, I don’t know, I scroll down as quickly as I can.  

I don’t want to know how to fold a freaking fitted sheet. ever. 


The thing is… the internet is obsessed with having a linen closet ready to be inspected by the Queen of England.  Has she showed up to any of your places, because she’s not been here.  And what kind of guest arrives and immediately asks to tour the linen closet? I mean, I have nothing against perfectly symmetrical and poetic linen closets (well maybe I do), but this post isn’t really about such things. (What I really want to do is mess it up a bit, to grace your life with a bit of chaos as my best friend in high school called it.) You see, she had a very classic style, nothing bold or dramatic or too bright.  Her closet was a monochromatic shrine to navy blue and I loved her for it.  But then one day after years of influence, she bought a bright pink one shoulder tank on her own and it was one of my proudest moments in life. 

Back to fitted sheets.

Before the madness of the pinterest, it was one of the great mysteries that people just accepted, like no one really knew how to fold them, but they gave it their best try and called it a day and no one lost any sleep at night.  We were all together in a peaceful state of poorly folded sheets. Those were the days.

The reason I don’t ever want to follow the step by step how-to-fold tutorial is because of God.  That’s right. God.  I’m a girl who likes a little mystery in life.  I like to know that there is this great force in charge of knowing all the answers and giving me the ones I need.  Knowing all the answers would be an incredibly taxing and heavy job.  It keeps me small, in the good way. Like, it’s my job to clean and use the sheets and take care of them and do the best I can with the sheets I’ve been given, turning them into something beautiful, but that’s all.

However, sometimes I freak out and I’m all, I WILL FOLD THIS SHEET PERFECTLY.  I WILL SOLVE ALL THE PROBLEMS AND HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.  I WILL MAKE MY KID’S SANDWICHES LOOK LIKE MATER. (No I will not. My kid  barely eats his sandwiches, why would I waste my time doing that?)  And I get lost in a frenzied state of angst because basically what I’m trying do is live my life in the way that someone else told me I must, in a way that would make Martha and the Queen so proud. That’s when things turn into a mess, because I forget that I’m small and I forget that I don’t want all the answers. I try to help God do his job, which he does very well and that is always a bad idea.

Basically, am I saying that the how-to-fold-a-fitted-sheet-tutorial is the same as the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden?

Maybe. Probably.

And that why fitted sheets remind me of God.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 3, 2012

The world is ablaze with season right now, sprinkled, drenched, smeared with colors of the best kind.  Every window becomes a frame for a masterful, temporary work of art.  Today as I drove into town, the residents of Minneapolis were out in full force.  In fact, I believe every bike was biking, every path was filled with walkers, every al fresco chair was filled with diners and afternoon coffee drinkers.  It’s almost like it was the first warm day of the year, when the masses suddenly appear.  Except, it’s probably the last. These people know this and they are soaking it up, every last drop, because not sure if you are familiar with Minnesota winters, but they are not friendly.

Today as the sun danced over the trees of red, yellow, and orange, there was a serious energy,  a rare 80 degree day in October, a gift.

Tomorrow the thermometers will read 40 less than today.

My creativity comes in seasons too and this extended warmth was like a jolt of make, make, make.  There was so much making, so many ideas, which is never a bad thing.   It’s harvest and I was constantly reaping the bounty. 

But, yesterday, I found myself trying to sew items for the shop.  I was frustrated at every turn, the machine was annoying, the colors of thread I needed were gone, everything was a challenge.  I was trying to finish these items so quickly that I was resenting them.  I had lost the sweetness of the creative process and traded it for the end result.  Way wrong answer. We are not machines.  We do not exist for the sole purpose of creating a finished product.  The magic is in the process, in the molding and in the creating.

I walked away from my machine.  I needed a break.  It’s tricky sometimes when your art is also a business, even a tiny, little one like mine.  It’s easy to lose sight of why you are writing, sewing, painting, etc.  Yesterday, I was frenzied and frustrated.  This kept sounding in my head and in my heart.  It was a fresh breath and hope.

It is not by coincidence, that the seasonal shift is in sync with my creativity or rather the other way around.  The colder weather has a way of bringing us in and slowing us down, because we need it.  Circumstances beyond our control take the lead.  We get so busy with busy and life and art and everything that the fall sort of picks us up by the collar, dusts us off and sets us back on the right path.

Seasons are so intentional in that way, the shift of nature, the constant waves of change: life, growth, energy, pause, death, re-birth… and again.

Cease striving and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am God.  This message is everywhere for me, in conversations with friends, in things I’m reading and seeing and feeling.  I can hear the whispers in the rustle and crunch of the leaves, in the color parade of the trees, in the brisk wind warmed by the sun.

We tend to get pretty good at striving, in fact, our days are spent perfecting the art of striving, but this message is life and we are invited to rest in that sustaining power and in it find all that we need.

So that’s where I am again, learning this life long lesson.

October 4, 2012

Today the wind is tearing leaves from branches and composing an emotional song, leaving no loose item untouched.  It reminds me that we are small and that we must let the process happen, we must trust the maker’s hands, and remember that all of our breaths and all of our days are the process.  It’s our story unfolding safely in His hands.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Us vs. Them: A true story, a tragedy.

For all the complicated matters of life, there are two distinct groups of people.  Both of these live under the little roof of our home.  What you are about to read is a true story.

The facts are that once a week, I am forced to rise early, before the sun rises, when the world is still dark.  I am forced to wake up to the hideous sound of an alarm clock rather than the noise of silly children in the next room.  And that sound is an assault to my mind, body, and spirit.  Clearly the inventor of alarm clocks was a mean, hateful person.

It was on this morning, on the third of October in the year 2012, that I had to drive my husband to work so we could have the car for the day.  He goes to work very early, hours before the world should be alive and moving.  I had to wake up at 6:00 AM.  I know, I know, awful.  I will accept sympathy gifts of coffee.

When it was time, I opened the door and stepped into the room where not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse (THANK GOD!)  and in that darkness slept two little ones.  And a moment at the turn of the handle,  at the burst of light, she quickly stumbled to her feet and shouted, “Daddy?”  It is a wonderful morning in her opinion, when she sees her daddy first thing.  I lifted her from the confines of her bed and she barreled down the hall into the blinding light, “daddy! daddy! daddy!”  The other child did not flinch.  No eyes opened, no response to the assaulting light or noise. 

I sat down gently on his bed and rubbed his back, saying softly as all morning actions should be, “Hudson, it’s time to wake up.”  He moaned and turned to the other side, scrunching his face, eyes still closed. 

And from the other room, the horror of all horrors, that husband, he started singing!!!  The horror was not in fact his voice, but that he was using his voice in such a loud, rambunctious way at such an hour.  I mean, of all the inconsiderate things to do, singing in the morning, unthinkable. 

He walked into the room with a talking baby girl in his arms and a song on his mouth.  My son, he looked up at me and crawled into my arms, his head flopped down.

The rest continues below:

Matt: Good morning, good morning, you slept the whole night through…

Me:  Stop, why would you do such a thing?

Matt: It’s our job to wake our kids up in an obnoxious manner.

Me: No, no, it is not.  It is our job to protect our children from terrible things. No one wants to wake up to singing.  You guys are noisy.

He just laughed and then walked away with the small, loud one into the blinding light from the kitchen.  I stroked the little boy’s head still nestled in my arms and said, ‘I’m sorry they are so loud, I’m sorry they don’t understand us.” He let out a giant sigh, eyes not yet opened. He was glad to know he wasn’t alone in this. We didn’t move until it was absolutely necessary.

The moral of this story is clear.  The protagonists and antagonists are obvious.  The tragedy is real and it has been happening for ages and worst of all, it’s happening in my own home.

Let’s make the world a better place, people. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The greatest time of year.

An ode to fall and the creativity that I wish for you, words from Bittersweet

Fall is harvest, when we’re getting all the good stuff that someone took the time to plant many months ago. Someone planted it, and now we benefit from it.  And that’s how it is when we make art.  We struggle and push and pant seeds deeps underground, and it doesn’t look like much for a while.  But them someone comes along and listens to your song or sees your painting and reads your poem, and they feel alive again, like the world is fresh and bursting, just like harvest.

Plant something today that will feed someone many months or many years from now.  Plant something today, because you’ve feasted on someone else’s carefully planted seeds, seeds that bloomed into nourishment and kept you alive and wide eyed.

Use what you have, use what the world gives you.  Use this first day of fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness; harvest; orange, gold, amber; cool nights and the smell of fire. Out tree-lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smell of nostalgia: apples bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider, warmth itself.  The leaves as they spark into wild color just before they die are the world’s oldest performance art, and everything we see is celebrating one last violently hued hurrah before the black and white and the silence of winter. 

Fall is begging for us to dance and sing and write with just the same drama and blaze.

-Shauna Niequist

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Art As Worship #2

All things New copy

Redemption is calling us home.

Inspired by this song.

Heart of My Own Heart copy

I would argue that both are hymns.

Mumford & Sons meets Be Thou my Vision

Lead Me.

This act, art as worship has transformed my interest in the daily “devotions.”  I’ve never been very good at that part, but this is new, this new ritual.  I can’t wait to discover the words that will leap off the page or out of song and into my heart.  And these things  stay with me for the whole day, it becomes part of my daily soundtrack. 

I’m reading Bittersweet, and last night I read this…

“One of my favorite Celtic ideas is the concept of thin places. A thin place, according to the Celtic mystics, is a place where the boundary between the natural world and the supernatural one is more permeable, thinner, if you will.

Sometimes they’re physical places.  There are places all over Ireland where people have said, if you stand here, if you face this direction, if you hike to the top of that ridge at just the right time, that’s a thin place, a place where the passage between heaven and earth is  short one, a place where God’s presence is almost palpable….

Thin places: places where the boundary between the divine world and the human world become almost nonexistent, and the two, divine and human, can for a moment, dance together uninterrupted. Some are physical and some aren’t places at all, but states of being or circumstances or seasons.

When we find a thin place, anything, anywhere, we should live differently in the face of it, because if we don’t, we miss some of the best moments that life with God has to offer us.  These thin places are gifts, treasures, and they worth changing our lives for.”

-Shauna Niequist

I think whatever our act of daily time with God is, it has to be like this. Done out of desire and not guilt, because I don’t believe in guilt of any kind, no, none at all, but  I do believe in finding that place where you can meet God.  The ocean. Art. Sunrise. The blank page. Quiet hours of holding sick babies in your arms. The stillness of evening. That’s where I meet God and when I show up, He is there.

This art as worship is something I look forward to, because I know it’s more than doodles on a page, it’s when I meet with the divine God and it transforms me.  It’s never about fitting in time or crossing of an item off a list. It’s penetrating the heavens. It’s worship.

What are you thin places?  What is your act of worship?


(All images are here and you are welcome to use them as desktop/screensaver or pass them on to a friend.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Art as Worship

There is a Light

It is no mystery to you by now, that I believe art is worship.  The act of creating connects us on a deeper level to the one who created the universe.  I believe art can be a hope, a whisper of our heart, a dream, and even a prayer.

Often, I find lyrics to a song or a scripture that speak to me as I begin to sketch and paint and it comes together in a way that becomes my act of worship. My soul declares the truth of God, my heart tells of his goodness and mercy.  Some do this in a song, I do it with colors. 

This has become an almost daily act for me and I began to realize that I would love to share this you all.   I want them to be available to anyone who could use the encouragement and reminder.  I will be adding these images to a flickr account and I give you complete freedom to save them to your computer, pass them on, even print them for yourself or a friend.  Of course, I ask that you respect my ownership and the rights of any lyrics too.

I am delighted to share these with you, I really am. I don’t really care about getting anything in return, but there is a place on the right side of the blog where you may donate any amount, if you wish.  If something speaks to you in a big way or you so desire, the option is available.

Most of all, I hope you are blessed and encouraged by these pieces, this art as worship.

I will be sharing them here and on my Instagram username- Saturatedpalette ||hashtag #artasworship, if you desire to follow the adventure.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Golden Life

It’s the best kind of fall day, warm in the sun, cool in the shade.  Shadows of leaves dance on the couch.  You could drink this stuff up and never tire.  New music from Bob Dylan and The Avett brothers.  Afternoons with my boy are calm and sweet.  Curious George and cars for him, art projects for me.  I sat in the yellow chair and he immediately joined me.  Take a picture of mama and Hudson, he asked, so we did.  He kept putting his little hand up to make our faces into squished up little duo.  He sighed and said, I love you mama.

This morning my baby girl got in trouble and she was so very sad, she asked to go night night at 10am.  She collected her favorite blanket and that smelly grey shirt and burrowed deep into my arms.  I stroked her hair. What a thing this is, motherhood, we must discipline to teach right and wrong and then cuddle to fill them up again.

These days, so full of sweet and struggle, it’s the ever-changing blend of parenthood.  Full. Tough. Wonderful.

At the bottom of a box of fabric, I found a can of gold spray paint.  It was the perfect inspiration for today. Something magical about this Thursday.  Yesterday was cool and rainy, full of conversations over coffee and tea. It left my tank full from the power of real conversation and quality time and now it’s overflowing onto canvases and through cans of spray paint.

My dearest friends and I play this game, What color are you feeling today? 

My answer can be found below.





Your turn….

Monday, September 10, 2012

Glorious Autumn Mixed Media Orginal Art 5x7

His nine day vacation ended with his alarm this morning.  We returned from our week away to find parenthood just as good and challenging as ever.  Yesterday there was football watching and napping.

Today the leaves rustle a tune deeper as they begin to adorn themselves with their new fall colors.  The sun shines through the open windows and a chatty wind sweeps through the house again and again.

A new season is upon us.

New ideas. New intentions. New pursuits. New creativity.

The beginning of new is full of life and energy.  It gives us a friendly push onward and forward.  To sweep out the corners that we neglected, to initiate new goals, and take steps towards dreams.  Do you feel it in the air?

I’m overwhelmed with the sense that some dreams will come alive in this season.  Do I say that with every seasonal shift? I hope so, oh I do, because dreamers never stop dreaming and they never run out.  New ideas lead us down unseen paths and into foreign places.  We are dreamers, that is what we do.

So today, whether the leaves are beginning to celebrate their annual wardrobe change or not, what do you dream for this new season?  What ideas will you dare to utter into the wild September wind?  Your thoughts are safe and welcome here in this space. 

Friends, let’s be what we were made to be, brave, strong, and courageous.


Autumn print is in the shop**

Friday, August 31, 2012

year five

Every August we have the same conversations, this is the day I arrived in California, this is the day we met, this is the day you went out of your way to find me a Starbucks, this is the day we took that walk. You talked about robots and were so nervous.  Pieces of the story that we never forget, that never fade into the mirage of the rest.  The beginning of us. 

It seems like anything before us was a lifetime ago. There was childhood. College. Us. 

Five years now.

The late summer air was thick and warm, typical of Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The barn was swept and decorated, not a single centerpiece looked the same, much to the chagrin of my best friend.  Mugs filled with coffee beans, table numbers and crayons. Paper on the tables for drawing.  Twinkle lights strung across the loft.   And a certain magic in the legacy of this barn, a story that needs to be pressed between pages for safe keeping, another time.

There was the moment I will always cherish, a sweet reverie just for me, as if to close one chapter and signal another.  As quickly as it came, it passed and Moon River filled the open air, my cue forward.

It happened beautifully, with a mix of blurred parts and pieces etched in the stonework of our memories. And every year we retell and reminisce.  It was a great day, absolutely, full of lovely details and special moments, but it was simply the beginning of our story, the first pieces of exposition that set the scene.  The ruffles in the dress that mixed with the pleats at the bottom. The way his face changed when I walked around the corner. How we tried so hard not to laugh during communion as we watched flies feast on our bread. The beginning is what draws us in and hooks us, but the rest, that is why we keep reading… living. 

The plot thickens, the characters evolve and grow, you begin to root for them through trials and find yourself in the most unexpected places.

This year, number five, it’s been full.  A husband working two jobs, two marvelous, loud creatures that sink deeper and deeper into our hearts, blurring the parts before them, redefining the meaning of  exhaustion.  The pursuit of dreams, pressing on through glimpses of beauty and struggle and waiting and blessing.  Pages full of love and light and shadows and painted skies and new mercies.

This is the part of long days, tired hands, and hard work, where love is decorated less in white dresses and slow dances, but in stolen moments, shared glances, and masked laughter (caused by your kid saying the most ridiculous and brilliant things when they are trying to get out of trouble or eating dinner or going to bed). And it’s no less beautiful.  This where were love grows and matures and deepens, refined in the fires of time.

Anniversaries allow us to retell our story from the beginning, to celebrate all the pages that have been filled in since the last year, and dream about the ones to come. 

five years later, it’s still my favorite.  

Carrigan Wedding Pictures 511

Monday, August 27, 2012

Introducing: Words in Color

I promise that this post is about art, but first it’s about money, because we don’t live in imaginary land and we can’t ignore it.  Unfortunately.

A few years ago, in our second year of marriage, we went through a course called Financial Peace University.  We learned some great wisdom and practices to implement into our lives to live within our means and succeed with money. We both had seen first hand from our parents massive mistakes regarding finances and we wanted to be smarter, to build a strong foundation.  Within the first month of the program, Matt lost his job, when his employer went out of business.  Thankfully, our needs were meant, side jobs, unemployment, provisions, we did not lack, but we couldn’t really begin our attack plan to destroy the debt we did have.  We were in survival mode, and we were not alone, as the country entered the mess of a situation we still face.

It often feels like we are still in that place, where we always have enough, but not extra to chisel away the bills that do not shrink so easily.  And you know, it’s life, this season of being a young family, living within our means, making it work.  The process is a slow one and we know that if we are faithful to this lifestyle, we will see the benefits. 

When we talk about dreams for our future, we speak of travel, art, missions, empowering others, and being supporters of dreams.  But, every month that feels so far away, when I send off the payments to student loans and pesky credit card bills.  Sometimes, we hope that those mountains will just dissolve, you know, who wouldn’t, but the truth is, we swiped the card, we signed the loan papers and there are great lessons to learn as we accept the results of those decisions.

Not too long ago, I prayed that God would show me ways that my creativity could be used to address this responsibility. Here’s a shocker, student loans don’t really care if you decided to become a stay-at-home mother and artist.  And not for one second do I regret that experience or the amount I must repay, it was so defining to who I am, the people I know, and the places I’ve gone.  Not for one second. Yet, my greatest endearments towards it all seem to have no erasing effect on the balance.  So, I said that most earnest prayer and within 48 hours, I received a serious monsoon of inspiration.

A brand new collection came alive.  Every free waking moment and some from my dreams have been dedicated to this production and I’m so eager to share it with you.  It’s special to me, because I believe it was an answer to prayer and because it mixes my love of writing and art.  Words and colors, the way I see the world; the way I share it. The idea was that each painting could be a page torn from a book, able to stand alone as a complete thought, but fit right into its place in a bigger story. Just like you and me.


Words in Color is a series of 15 small mixed media pieces. The originals will be available for purchase at a very affordable price, because I think art is meant to be shared rather than sitting in stacks in my home wearing a costly price tag.  Prints will also be in stock. All the profits will go towards paying off chunks of the debts quicker, allowing us to have more freedom to give, and go, and empower.


What excites me the most about this collection is how as a whole it speaks of hope, beauty, dreams, adventure, love, and encouragement— the things that move us and connect us and challenge us.


You can find the entire collection here in my shop.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

the mistake.

I covered the paper in paint, with a color called fawn.  It was still wet and reflecting light.  From the book that I have destroyed in the name of art, I grabbed a oddly shaped strip without thinking.  My intention was to create a base rich in texture and layers.  The paper bonded with the wet paint and when I looked down,  it’s possible the world froze in time, at least in my living room, it did.  I shivered slightly at what I saw.

Art has a way of taking our randomness and our mistakes and making the best things happen. When we simply respond to the process and begin with the tools, it leads us down a foggy trail, where we see only one step at a time.  Every layer and color, shadow and edge, they come together creating something reflective of something bigger than us.  People  often fear the unknown, but I think the best outcomes are waiting for us there. Ones we couldn’t imagine; ones we risk never knowing.  In art and in life, of course,  because I find no distinction between the two. 

Dreamers Paradise copy

I looked down and I saw him instantly, roaring his dreams to the open night sky.  There is something huge in this torn-paper-bear, telling of life and the search that compels and sustains us.  We begin with the idea of the search leading us to where we will find Him, but really the search is where we find Him, in the middle of our doings, in the process of creating. The search is our life and in the responding and creating and applying paper to wet paint, He causes the best things to happen.

*This is the first from my new collection that I will be sharing soon and adding to the shop soon. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This week in history

Some of the best decisions I’ve ever made happened during this middle of August week in years past.  Usually, I find August to be a filler, a waste of space, summer slowly interfering with the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes and cooler temps.  I don’t suppose I give August enough credit for the days that changed my life.

Case #1 

The year is 2002.  I traveled lands far and wide to a place of sunshine and humidity.  I left my homeland of Michigan and the safe choice of college in (of all places Minneapolis, freaking, Minnesota) for the tropics, for the great, world renowned, Southeastern College.  That’s right, COLLEGE and I will cherish those last days before it became a Disney resort University all my live long days. 

If I remember correctly, on this exact day TEN YEARS AGO, was the freshman community service project.  We were bussed to a local park, that I am certain we never visited ever again, to free it from the oppression of air potatoes, the great offender of all weeds.  Looking back, could this have been a massive joke?   Quite possibly, yes.  I remember the dehydration, being stranded under a pavilion, in the afternoon rain shower, while other students showed off their coolest human tricks, this was our moment, to make our mark, after all!!  Mostly, I remember the people I met, who became my friends instantly, because that’s how it was in college… and that is in my opinion, the very best quality of post-high school education.  Real-life-post-college-adulthood-friend-making could learn a few lessons here.

Case #2

The year is 2006.  I wake up in a camp on a dusty mountain in California.  I was already smitten with the land of wonder. My new co-workers and I are making a pilgrimage into a tiny little town called Los Angeles, to sit in the warehouse of the company office and listen to guy named Ernie tell us about car insurance.  It was wildly boring. Thankfully, promises of a fun evening staved off death by insurance safety lectures.  The night before, one person in particular was talking about going to a concert in Hollywood.  I was mildly impressed that he was familiar with this artist named Mat Kearney and I wanted in… also I was excited about shopping and Starbucks, before returning to our wilderness camp.  I didn’t ride in the same van  or even hang out with him that night, but it was our first conversation.  I fell in love with a sweater, a marvelous red and white striped beauty.  It cost exactly $188.  Every last co-worker of mine thought I was insane and made fun of me. Clearly, they had never heard of Anthropologie, not the most fashionable bunch. I didn’t buy it, I still wish I did.

The following night at dinner, we found ourselves sitting across from each other.  He made fun of me for liking Dashboard Confessional.  And the rest is history. 


College and California… the best decisions I’ve ever made, and that’s all for today’s episode of this week in history.  Until next time, friends.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Evening in Missoula, the dance of the water at dusk.

A typical sequence of events on a Monday afternoon, walk to the mailbox, check e-mail, read a text, so ordinary.  We spend minutes and hours, living and doing these normal things.

Yet, there are days when each note plays out like a grand orchestra, conducted by the most brilliant of masters. The skin shivers, the breath quivers, the tiny forming eye wells, I have a friend who calls these secret messages. Yes, indeed.

And you consider how each piece played out, how the sender mailed the letter at a certain time, entrusting it to the system who took x amount of days to deliver it to you, and how a random errand meant you were the one to walk across the grass to the mailbox, when usually it’s him.  After catching your breath, another message is waiting for you, but not moments earlier, right now.  Because in the raw emotion of blessing and awe, these words transcend their usual power, once again taking your own limited breath, so you only can inhale love from the origin of love itself. And it rushes past body and into soul, leaving you amazed at the one who pens the story of our days.

We don’t always see how our actions touch others, how one small ripple shatters the smooth, glassy surface and prompts the dance of the water at dusk.  My lovely friend was drinking tea the other day, it was called Evening in Missoula.  If this dance had a name, the dance of the water at dusk, it would be Evening in Missoula. Lights once still flicker and sway extending past their origin, tiny currents lap the shore and wash over the stones, smoothing them, in contrast to the gritty sand.  One event sets this scene in motion, creating a masterpiece to behold, but no one dwells on the exact boat or breeze or rock that started it. 

In the same way, life can feel trivial, the stirrings we respond to, the encouragement and light we send, but perhaps it’s the best way, so we step out of view, letting the true masterpiece shine.

It’s magic really, and not the card trick kind, but something so much bigger than our wildest imagination, something that connects us all to each other and to the heavens.


Monday, August 13, 2012

on the bat pandemic of 2012…. that never was.

We are on day seven of the plague over here.  After we came home from the cabin, the kids got sick.  The husband got sick.  God spared me for the sake of my family, I’m sure, but people, my battery is exhausted.  Funny little story, all seven of the other kids that were also at the cabin have been sick all week and some parents too, that is not the funny part.  This past weekend, when we found out, someone suggested that it might have been caused by the bat feces that was swept up from the deck, where they all played.  Well, upon hearing such possibilities, we took a trip to the doctor, who wore a face mask and scared my children, just to be sure that we were not going to be the origin of the great bat feces pandemic of 2012.  I mean, I watched Contagion, it happened here in Minneapolis. For twenty-five minutes in the car and in the waiting room, we entertained ourselves with the  hypothetical events that would happen if in fact the great bat pandemic of 2012 was real.  Of course, it was only funny in our exhausted heads.   And as it turns out, the real problem is  four little infected ears. 

The doctor humored our inquiries about the diseases caused by inhaling the fungus found in bat feces (how disgusting was that sentence?), and I’m pretty sure he searched WebMD or something.  I mean, I already did that.  He tried to get H to talk to him, which of course he didn’t, because he not overly conversation with strangers, especially people wearing masks.  And then went into a full monologue to the baby girl about the flowers on her shoes, so he could check her ears and eyes, she fell for none of his tricks.  I don’t know, again, maybe the mask?

Alas, the verdict was nothing that will ever be make it in the history books or future documentaries.

Miracle of miracles, they are willingly taking the medicine, which is now recorded for all time and I know this has to end soon.  We are going to make it!  Until I have more eloquent words, some photos of items recently added to the shops.

Dream Bird Collage Owl Wall Art Print

His name is Thatcher and he’s new in shop.  Feel free to visit him here.

Stripes. Hood. A touch of green.  The Finley Hoodie.

This lovely winter jacket is made from 100% French wool.  The Claire Jacket.


I’m sorry for the sentence about about the fungus and bat feces.  The end.

Friday, August 10, 2012

on whining and adventures.

The air is cool. The sun is rising. Minnesota has its moments.  Coughing sick children were the soundtrack on repeat last night… rather all week.  At a definitive point this morning, I determined more sleep felt inferior to an hour of writing with a cup of steamy tea and silence.

Last night I fell into bed, upon hearing some news from a friend and all I could do was feel incredibly ridiculous for the ways in which I am skilled at complaining.  I mean, what in my world is even worth a complaint.  And it’s not just a case of wow, their story is so hard.  It’s more like you think of the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years and you are so judgmental of them, seriously people what is your problem, didn’t you learn your lesson already

But, before the sentence has a punctuation, comes the moment when you realize you could have auditioned for ring leader of the pack.  It’s never anything major, just all these little bits that we bemoan over and over until as Shauna wrote in Cold Tangerines, “It’s been really hard in my head.”  We make it so hard in our heads.  When it’s not really any harder than the normal hard parts of life.

Once I had this conversation with one of the dearest and wisest people I know.  My infant son was unhappy and making his demands.  I wish I (adults) could just whine and scream until I got my way, like babies do.  And in her gentle, truthful way, she answered, oh, but we do don’t we.  Oh. Yes, we kind of do that.

Here’s the problem, whining does not go with being an adventurer and if I have my say, I choose the latter.  We can paint it on canvases and scribble it on pages and whisper it to the wind, but at some point we can’t be really adventurers if we are always marching circles in our heads. It gets pretty heavy and has this way of distorting our vision and without knowing it we get lost in a desert of sorts for a very long time.  All the while, we’re marching and shouting, what is your problem everyone else, didn’t you learn your lesson already?  (when all we are saying is, I’m the best complainer EVER.)

My kids have been sick all week and people I know are moving to really fun places. Pretty tragic stuff, I know. 

And the adventurer me can’t find any reason to open my mouth other than with gratitude.


Monday, August 6, 2012

a weekend

A weekend away, a cabin full of people, lots of kids, new faces, late night games, campfires, small town strolls, and sitting by the water every moment possible.  No other words necessary.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

an adventure within the adventure

They have this way of talking, special conversations between the two of them.  He sits next to her and asks questions,  Is that your shirt?  Are you okay? Are you thirsty? No, Harper, that’s not a baby, that’s a dog. She looks up at her big brother and in a sweet, high pitched voice tells a tale in words to complicated for adults. Somehow he gets what she’s saying and responds.  He waits for her answer.  Repeat.

It’s my favorite thing.

Sometimes he speaks for her, but mostly she speaks well enough for herself.  Want some chips Harps?  And without waiting, Harper wants some chips.  For breakfast.  How could anyone refuse when they both want chips, for breakfast?  I laugh and she confirms their request with a squeal. Chips.  They have already learned the power of joining forces.

When he’s sick, she senses the difference and and brings him essentials: bears, cars, coloring books, and her babies.  She sets off on a mission and doesn’t stop until all of babies and animals have been relocated to his side.  She’s sits with him and if he throws up or coughs, she makes the same sounds. Her eyes tell how she loves doing this for him and his gentle smile comes alive and he thanks her.

He named his bear, Beetabop.  Beetabop it is.

The way he’s cautious and she is fearless makes this perfect blend.  She instigates the stacking chairs on top of the coffee tables.  At eighteen months.  He catches the infectious look of her eyes and joins.  When we intervene, she’s crushed and he gets over it quickly.  We’ve banned her from watching any of the gymnastics during the Olympics.  She doesn’t need anymore ideas at the moment.  But, that thrill in her eyes, the way she is so alive when jumping off the couch or climbing across a collection of furniture, it’s the most amazing to witness. The wild eyes, the energy, the moment between the destinations, the squeal,  her happy place.

This week, I took them to the park where the play structure is not too high for small ones and she couldn’t believe how I let her roam across the bridges and scale the stairs.  One of those squeaky bridges caused her brother to pause and ask for my hand, while her little legs bolted across bravely onward.

She is expressive and he is pensive.  The worlds he creates in his head, the way his toys have ideas and feelings and stories to tell.  We marvel.  When she sleeps, we build little towns of trains and Lincoln logs and animals and garages for his cars. It’s creating and possibilities, getting lost in imagination and adding details just for fun. And by fun I mean necessity, because life is our canvas and we can create just the basics or revel in the beautiful details.  Especially… the details.

You know, in the same way that God created rocks that sparkle with a parade of colors and rocks that are every inch smooth and black.  How he designed sunsets and snowflakes and the color scheme of fall.  The way leaves rustle a sweet song when they dance with the wind.  The way that the sea is moody and grey one day, then brilliant and blue the next. It’s all extra, the finishing touches on his great work.  Because, why not? Because, he can.

And in the same way, he could have just given us any old random kids, but I’m in awe of how he knows us and our children. We talk endlessly of dreams, risk, adventures and here we have this wild eyed, daredevil of a daughter looking for every chance to fly.  Her brave heart left in our care. Our boy with his quiet ways and a head full of stories and possibilities.  That which we pursue for ourselves, we are entrusted to protect and nurture in them. An adventure within the adventure, really.

It makes me feel small in the best way, how this huge part of my story is really about them, and how these pieces of them are so crucial to who I am. How we met and fell in love and made babies, these two marvelous babies. What a wonder these details that make up our days.

Rocks on the shore, decorated with a parade of colors that sparkle and glisten, shades of bravery and possibilities and love.

What do you see in the eyes of your children? What details leave you in awe?  What radiates from the shore?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rainy day us.

The sweet rhythm of  gently falling rain.  A world painted grey and green.  The beautiful calm.

Earlier this morning, great booms and wild lightning woke us to listen their marvelous tale, a love story, for certain. I watched frenzied light flash across the palest blanket of bluish-gray.  I shook with the thunder and let the sleepy drip drop of the rain lull me back to sleep.

All the windows are open, the scent sweeps through our home and dances with the incense that drifts from the kitchen.  There is a natural rhythm to life in the way of weather, in the way that spring jolts us to life and summer is a flutter of activity; how the fall romances us with the best colors (and scarves and cute boots) and most phenomenal smells and then how winter beckons us inside. 

And when the rain pours down and refreshes the hues of browning green, we are invited to delight in a standing offer of  slowness.  Most of my favorite things pair well with rain: steamy coffee, books, wellies, Nora Ephron movies, baking, creating, and Coldplay, of course.  Rainy day music is something I know. 

My kids, they get rainy days too and it thrills me.  We stayed in bed and their eyes got big with each boom, not scared big, but wow big. Do you see the rain, Harper, he asked his sister.  Rain, she points. Thunder rattles.  Do you hear the thunder, Harper?  Tunder., she answers.  He is pleased, as if she has completed her lessons properly. 

Now they built block robots on the floor and watch Curious George and every so often, check the status of the great, wet outdoors.  They are calm inside and it shows all the way through to their faces and in their contented spirits.  I am so thankful for a life that allows this.

The way the earth invites us into these brief seasons of calm is something I hope they always know.  I hope they allow the rain to fall without blame when it trumps preconceived plans.  When they leave the grocery store and it instantly pours three times harder,  I hope they don’t see inconvenience, but whole heartedly step out and let it wash over them.  Clothes dry and two marvelous minutes of standing in the rain can do wonders for most anything. 

The rain reminds us we are small and not in control and we need that, because for all our dreams and plans we think we are.  We need the sun to point us forward fully alive with  passion and possibility and we need the rain that whispers sweet nothings of stillness. 

Joining with dozens of others for Just Write.

Monday, July 23, 2012

on beauty in the heavy right now

In my last post, I wrote about the season of heavy right now. What follows is not a story about how all of a sudden, the heavy blew away with a change in the air, leaving behind sparkling, magical days.  Instead, something else did and as it usually turns out, it was better because it did not happen my way, in my own understanding.

All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

(Acts 2:44-46)

This weekend, this scripture came alive to me, as I had never seen it before.  We found ourselves on both the giving and receiving ends and it’s something amazing, so much bigger than us.  A story about a God who knows the details of our lives and how community is not restricted to proximity.  It reminds me in this season of sustaining rather than abundance that blessing and beauty can be found in the middle of the heavy, right here and now.

And I’m so thankful.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The heavy everywhere

I am a hunter of beauty, seeker of the good, collector of joy, but I do not live blind to the darkness and ignorant of trouble.  Life is light and dark, beautiful and ugly, a mix on repeat daily, intersecting,  and even parallel.  The presence of one does not erase the other.

We delight in one  and proclaim it to all and we shake under the other and hide.  Tonight, as my fingers flutter over white keys, I wonder if doing the latter gives it a greater power.  Because, a bad day right now doesn’t delete the three great ones prior and I think that living, real living means acknowledging both.

Right now, the windows are open and the air is thick with the weight of humidity and late July.  It’s slimy and unattractive and your breathing feels harder. 

It’s heavy and I’m not just talking about the air.

There’s car trouble, which also means money and another round of trusting in God 101 for the 1,000th time, and long hot days, and normal trials of parenting and other grown up things, when you dream about long quiet vacations.  There’s all the work you pour into new ventures and dreams and days when you think, really is this worth it, because I’m exhausted (and like buttons don’t translate into currency).  And seven weeks into looking for a new church, where you walk into a place where everyone else is playing a role and you’re supposed to guess what happens next, like one of those games you played at youth group parties, except it’s not a game and it’s not with your friends. Oh, your friends, you miss them, but that is always.  It’s awkward and new and challenging and hot because, it’s hot everywhere.  And it seems like as of late you’ve been spending more time in front of your cupboards trying to create magic out of completely non-magical ingredients.  And if that isn’t enough, ANTS.

A long breath.

None of the above is a true tragedy, except for the ants, I know.  But,  together they feel so heavy and thick like the air outside and you whisper prayers for a sweet, cool breath that reaches deep inside and dances over you with comfort.  And you try to focus on all the good and beautiful that also fill your days, like how she crocks her head to the side and smiles at you with those blue baby eyes or how your little boy comes to your desk and says, Did you make that mama?  Great job and you want to scoop him up for knowing just the right thing to say at age 3.  And how in less than two months you will celebrate five years of marriage to the one next to you, who is also tired, as you make this life together. Together and tired, until death to us part, should probably be added to the vows.

Life. It’s beautiful and real and challenging and at times, heavy.

Heavy is not the same as horrible and unbearable. Heavy is hard.

Everywhere I turn I read something that clenches my soul and says, I know, I’m here, I am with you.  I find it in a song, or a scripture or words I read or paint on a canvas.  I do not feel alone or forsaken. No.

I think so often people try to ignore the existence of heavy, because it’s negative or bad.  I don’t agree.  To embrace right now and admit my humanity is equally as much a part of the story as the happy ending.  All the elements of the plot are crucial.  So, I do not tremble or question my foundation when I say right now is hard.

Because I know that seasons change, in colors outside my door and in life and I know the air will turn soft and cool and sweet once again.  Life is like that, always changing, shaping, growing, making us stronger, and enriching our story.

The air is heavy tonight, but the dusk has brought in the slightest breeze.  It’s barely cool, but cooler, indeed.

and also, we are intrepid, we carry on.


“You pray for wonderful, honest, gritty, tender stories to write, but then you have to live through them.”

-Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

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