Thursday, April 25, 2013

Three on Thursday: Love Your Body

Life is beautiful.  It is hard, but- "It's the shadows and the shit that make the light bits believable," as Victoria Finlay put it in  Color.  {Great book on the history(s) of color/pigments-READ IT!} 

It's been a difficult week, full of ups and downs beyond the scope of my typical week.  Today has been exceptionally good though.  Elated with good news and full of life I decided to run to express my gratitude to be alive, and as I walked back home during my cool down I thought about three little things that we take for granted.  Dear Reader, I want you to think about these things in a new light.

The older I get the more attractive I find fine lines.  Strange, perhaps, but true.  As I reached my mid twenties they became a curiosity to me.  A few years ago I read something about how you earn your wrinkles.  Think about it- instead of regretting the sun damage that exacerbated your fine lines, think of them as reminders of the great times when you were too busy being present in the moment to worry about your skin {but please put on sunscreen in the future}.  Or remember all the joys and laughter of your life that earned you those trophies.  When I see fine lines now I don't think about age, I see wisdom, laughter, survival.

Kinesis-movement is such a gift!  Oh how we are made to move.  Our culture is saturated with inspiration to move for weightloss, or art, but what about just pure joy. To move because we are full of life! Because we can!?  To move because life is short and there are far too many people who don't have the freedom to move either politically, physically, or even emotionally.  Oh Reader it doesn't matter how you decide to move.  You don't have to run or do yoga.  You could skip a few of your steps towards some destination. You could simply marvel at the movement of your fingers.

Finally, scars.  Yes, scars.  Here I will leave you with this beautiful quote from Chris Cleave's Little Bee "...I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

There's an Ostrich in My Office

I can't believe it's already Wednesday!  My family and I gathered for a long weekend in Savannah, GA to celebrate my fabulous mother's birthday.  We strolled along the beautiful river and it was lovely to be able to walk so much.  There is so much art in that city; I'm not sure which came first- SCAD or the art community, but it's pretty great.  We had some delicious meals and some great walks, and left for home on Monday.  We heard about the bombings in Boston as we were driving home and we- like most people I assume- have been pretty vigilant about watching the news as the story unfolds.  But in between news castings I did get to complete this painting.  She was still waiting on my easel when I got home and painting is a wonderful distraction. 

It's difficult to tell in photos, but her eyes are a purple-y black, and I decided she needed some fancy lashes.  She's currently on display in my office, since we seem to be running out of wall space in our house- more evidence that it's time to get the etsy shop up and running!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Casting Cares: Denial Versus Prayer

There's a fine distinction, I'm learning, between casting cares on Him and casting cares "away."  I am learning that I must be careful to lift up my worries and concerns to the Lord through prayer, and not just push them down.  It is not enough to encounter a problem, new or recurring, and dismiss it, even if we say that it's in God's hands. That is what I mean by pushing something down.   It's passing the buck and it's not communication.  

Like any relationship, one cannot take for granted that something will be accomplished by the other person.  For example: throughout my life my family's general rule was one person made dinner and the rest of us helped clean up.  Despite the division of duties, it wasn't really fair to expect this to always be the case as there were times when it was necessary for the cook to be the cleaner.  Such an expectation might foster feelings of being taken for granted, or it might mean that the work never gets done because of other factors that prevent the assumed cleaner from cleaning.  We set ourselves up for disappointment when we simply expect someone else to do something, without telling them what we expect them to do or how we expect them to help.  Even with our omniscient God as the other person in the relationship, there is still a need for communication, and it's for our benefit.

Lately I've been tempted to think meh, God's got this; I don't need to be concerned about this, and then I fail to pray about it.  When it resurfaces I dismiss it, because God's got it.  Subsequently, I've found that while I'm very good at tricking my own mind, my body is not so easily deceived and it will tell me when I've just been pushing cares down instead of lifting them up.  My dreams get wackier, my neck and shoulders tense up, I can't focus, and I experience other symptoms of stress.  It's not pleasant, but it is a great reminder of my need to pray-that we are beings created to be in communication and relationship with our Creator.

I believe that God is omniscient and in control, but He's not a dictator; He's not "Big Brother."  He's Papa, Abba Father.  He doesn't just want to fix my problems in an impersonal way.  He doesn't just want to give me a fish and feed me for a day, but as a good parent-He wants to teach me to fish.  Yet even that parable falls short, for in learning to fish I may deceive myself into thinking that I'm in control; He wants me to fish with Him.  In other words, He doesn't want to be my backup or my sidekick, not my rescuer but my teammate- Master and apprentice.  As God lovingly and patiently teaches me lessons I'm not expected to keep them to myself, but to humbly help others learn them too.  I have not mastered this lesson yet, but I am learning in the lap of my Heavenly Father.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

There's an Ostrich on My Easel

Craft stores are dangerous places for creative types.  I can go in with plans for one idea and come out with a multitude more, or I can get completely overwhelmed by all the options.  I had the former experience recently as I went in search of nifty letters to create an alphabet wall for a bun in {someone else's} oven.

As I was walking past the bead aisle I was struck by a lovely color combination:

I love the khaki green and earthy tones with the metallics and the ballet slipper pink.  I like how the addition of the pale pink to this palette softens the otherwise utilitarian feel and warms up the metals to give the palette unique richness and depth.  

I've been thinking about painting an ostrich for a couple of weeks- they're such "odd birds," which makes them perfect for a whimsical makeover.  Of course, as you can below, my take on this palette had a darker green, a lighter pink, and antique gold in place of silver tones.  Taking a break from my typically bolder hues, more muted hues seemed more appropriate for this endeavor.  She's still a work in progress.  I imagine her beak will be shades of silver, her back cloaked in purples, and then we'll add a little life to her eyes.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Faithful Friday: Honesty & Growing Pains

When it comes to my relationship with God, lately I feel like a teenager, or perhaps even a toddler.  It's like He's the parent that only gets recognition when He does something really cool, such as answering a prayer in an unexpected way, or in the way I wanted.  Or I come whining to Him.  The rest of the time I spend acting as though I'm in control.  Perhaps it is behavior more like the teenager- aware of your bad behavior and wanting to be nicer, more appreciative, but finding yourself indulging your selfishness.  You know better, but you've yet to establish the patterns necessary to make more permanent and conscientious changes.

It would help to be more consistent about taking time to re-center by spending concrete amounts of time in the word and listening prayer {I'm great at the rambling talking part}.  It's tough, and if I'm honest there will be days that I may just go through the motions to make the habit, but somehow I trust that I'll get stronger as I make each choice.

About this time last year an online devotional "You'll Meet An Old Lady One Day" really struck home.  The decisions I make now in how I act will affect the kind of person I become when those patterns become rigid.  When I am old I want to be the kind, wise, creative lady that people enjoy being around.  I believe we earn our wrinkles, and I want mine to be from laughter, from a life well lived.

Every day is a new challenge.  I've traded physical growing pains for spiritual ones.

I don't know how this post will help anyone, except to honestly say that my faith journey is not perfect.  I get tired and sit idle too long, or stubborn and stew in my resentment, or even recklessly over confident, but my faltering in the journey doesn't make my destination any less present or secure.  The messages around me say to stop comparing, to be honest and tell the whole story because that's what makes community.  You never know who you'll help when you share your struggles, as well as your triumphs; you never know who'll help you either.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Black Betty's Birthday

In 2010, After a year of proving to myself that I could survive on my own- keep a roof over my head and food in my fridge- I determined it was time to get a dog.  Enter into my life Black Betty, a fluffy muppet pup, also known as a labradoodle.

Now folks, I chose a labradoodle because the breed's reputation is a cross between the best of labradors and standard poodles- personality without the shedding.  (Short haired dogs can make me itch and I'm iffy about little dogs- some of them are fantastic and some of them are demonic little ankle biters.)  True to this reputation, Betty doesn't shed, hair.  She "lints" which is to say there aren't millions of little dog hairs all over the house, but I do find clumps of Betty hair akin to dust bunnies.  But let me tell you, Betty's nickname around our house is "Velcro" because things stick to her like, well, velcro- leaves, grass, pollen, sticks, moss, etc.  They all cling to her, particularly her derriere, and get tracked all over our house as they fall off. You cannot simply wipe them off, just as you cannot simply wipe off velcro.  Someday I will get a picture of it worthy of posting on dog shaming.

She is a joy to me and this Saturday we celebrated her 3rd birthday, which meant that she and her sister, Kati (an Australian cattle dog mix) enjoyed licking the remnants out of large peanut butter jars.

Shockingly the blending of our two dog families has never been an issue.  "Inspector Kati" who is suspicious of all other dogs, is content to boss Betty around.  Betty, the giant pushover, either does not understand or does not care when Kati bosses her around.  She will simply take the correction and try again in another 30 seconds.

Betty loves: squeakers, other dogs, peanut butter, ear and chin scratches, socks (the dirtier and bigger the better), tall men, swimming/water, wiping her mouth off on clean clothes, breezy car rides

Betty hates: grooming, overly-enthusiastic people, knocking, medicine, hats

<-- Kati snuggles a shame-faced Betty before her spring shearing.