Let Me Count the What?

Count the stitches! Are you confused yet? I’m writing about a total, absolute surprise that my husband and I received from a lovely friend.

count the love

Peg Hoobler spent a year and thousands of stitches and in a way, saying, “I love you, you are special, I’ve dedicated my time and thoughts to our friendship by designing and making this quilt especially for you both.” At least that’s how I felt when she gave us this beautiful work of art.

count the love

We have a king size bed. It’s big, and higher off the floor than normal and the quilt is perfect. There are thousands, yes, thousands of tiny “in-out” stitches, beautifully hand done. The design was created just for us, as we love bamboo (especially Ken) so there are special bamboo sections that she collected over time. Wow!

count the love

Better yet, this quilt is Peggy’s 147th quilting gift! Imagine receiving one of Peg’s special designs. She said what she enjoys the most is when people say, “You made it just for me.”

count the love

What? Yes, she has made a lifestyle of giving, surprising and delighting those around her with her quilts and really with her love.

Truly it is the “Art of Encouragement” in action! …and love in action.

Are you awestruck yet? I am.  You probably know the poem, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Imagine the love, the stitches and the difficulty it takes to create and then to give it away.

count the love

What can you count?

You may be writing, sewing, painting, care-taking, but in whatever you are doing, do it with love and gratitude in your heart. Giving of yourself, your talents, your time, is, in many ways, honoring the gifts God has given you.

During this Thanksgiving weekend, where everything seems “over the top” and everyone is making a special point to give thanks, think about how you can develop a lifestyle of love, giving and gratitude every day.

Stop and spend a minute in silence, tell the Father that You do love Him and take time to count the ways. I’d love to hear if you’ve had a special person who honored you in your life.

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Pure Moments and Visual Speaking

This week, we’re pleased to have a guest blogger with us. Robin McLaurin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood Education from Daemen College, a Master’s degree in Art Education from Texas Women’s University, and an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Art. She has earned numerous distinctions as an artist including winner of the Red Poppy Festival Art Exhibit Grand Prize and being selected as the artist in residence at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. Ms. McLaurin has been an art teacher for over 15 years and has taught at all levels from lower elementary to undergraduate college students. She has taught at Grace Academy in Georgetown, Texas, since 2010 and inspires students to pursue the True, the Good, and the Beautiful as they both enjoy and create art. 

As a photographer I work to capture pure moments.  These pure moments for me are glimpses into heaven here on earth.  To recognize pure moments, I continue to train my eyes to see, my ears to hear and my heart to listen; and to be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  My days are filled with the expectation of seeing and capturing pure moments.  My hope is to share these captured God moments with those around me.

pure moments
photo credit, Robin McLaurin

This past year, these pure moments have come often and when least expected, usually when my camera is not with me.  This has frustrated me.  One such moment was on the highway crossing over a creek sheltered by tall oak trees.  I looked to my right and bam.  What I saw was a beautiful sunset with brilliant oranges and deep yellows glistening off the water.  I began to lament that I did not have my camera with me when it occurred to me that this was such a pure moment that to capture it would decrease the purity and sanctity of it.  God had meant it just for me.  In exposing these pure moments to me I am entrusted with passing on His evidence of His faithfulness.

pure moments
photo credit, Robin McLaurin
Pure moments, pure materials

I transfer these pure moments into my process with the use of pure materials.  My most recent body of work is anthrotypes.  This is a historical photographic practice where chlorophyll is extracted from the petals of flowers.  Once extracted the emulsion (liquid from the petals) is painted onto paper.  The flowers I used to create the emulsion, is the same flower you will see on each photograph.  They are photographs made from plant matter.  The image on the paper is created through photosynthesis.  These images were made while I lived on the Cayman Islands last summer.

pure moments
photo credit, Robin, McLaurin

As we head into Thanksgiving and Christmas, I pray that you will expect to see these pure moments each day.  Pure moments are visual messages from God confirming His love for us. Pure moments serve as affirmation that He is with us always. They are visual messages from God sent specifically to you.

pure moments
photo credit, Robin McLaurin

Enjoying the pure moments,

Robin McLaurin

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No Fun Allowed!!!

Yes, guilty as charged, I do take myself too seriously! How about you?

My recent experience at Lisa Whitener’s pallet knife workshop got me really thinking about having fun.

No Fun Allowed

Then I read,  what Dr. Seuss said, (Theodor Seuss Geisel),

“Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humor, which is awfully important in this day and age. Humor has a tremendous place in this sordid world. It’s more than just a matter of laughing. If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack.”

I needed that, everyone needs a little nonsense in their lives otherwise their own self importance gets in the way. I think when we get too full of ourselves, we aren’t all that fun to be with.  We give ourselves and others a brain cramp. 

Fun, on the other hand has an enlivening effect.

No Fun Allowed
Lisa Whitener on “fun”

I had a chance to talk to Lisa about her philosophy on art and being creative. She also had some nice encouragement for you, our readers. Listen to what Lisa has to say about making life and art fun.

 

There are a whole lot of reasons that we become self absorbed. One underlying cause is our pride. Pride will make you worrying about what other people think. They are going to think what they want whether you do the right, wrong, best thing anyway. Accept that you’ll never please people. Allow yourself to please God with simple faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Here are a couple of nonsense goodies that can help you:

  • Buy some bubbles at your local dollar store, blow them on the porch or in bed, laugh.
  • Concentration is good, but recognize frowning does not help you do a better job. 
  • Turn off the tv, don’t be in bondage to media where everything is a crisis. 
  • Ditch the “I’ve got to be perfect” syndrome, it’s boring and paralyzing.
  • Joy is good for relationships. Play with your cat, dog, friend or mate.
  • Develop a fun attitude by being intentional and grateful. Fun is a stress reliever, watch a funny movie or video. 
No Fun Allowed
My thanks to photographer Suzanne Wallick for this lovely picture

It’s ok to be quirky, embrace that you’ve been wired by God to be in his image and as is everyone else, so relax.  

Are you having fun yet? If not, start today! I’d love to know how you have fun and SHARE the fun – leave a comment here or share on Facebook or Instagram.

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The Art of the Mundane

art of the mundane
© Laura Gabel, “Just Dandi”. Pastel on Uart, 9.5 x 11.5. Private collection.

“Mundane” – ordinary, pertaining to the things of earth. The mundane is where most of us live – the ordinary, everyday stuff of life. As I sit writing this, I also have my preschool teacher hat on and I’m watching ten precious three-year-olds vainly fight sleep during their daily rest time. The moment indeed feels very ordinary. 

Earlier this week, I gathered with some dear mom friends from my children’s school for a sweet time of fellowship. We gather every week throughout the school year. Another ordinary, mundane moment. 

What has art to do with the mundane-ness of our lives? I would suggest that most of us are surrounded by far more art in the midst of our mundane lives than we ever thought possible. At that same gathering of mom’s this week, I was asked, “so is it your week to blog?” When I responded “yes….” the immediate follow up question was “what are you writing on?” Honestly, at that point, I hadn’t yet decided. I tend to have multiple ideas rolling around in my head that hopefully crystalize into something coherent and (if God is especially gracious) interesting by Thursday morning. 

One of my friends shared a story from her adventures in knitting that I’ve been rolling around in my head for the past few days. She was pondering the verse from Psalm 139 where David remarks that God knit him together in his mother’s womb. When she knits, every piece of the yarn that she is using passes through her hands as she transforms it into a finished (and no doubt lovely) piece. In the same way, she commented, every piece of our lives, every strand, every fiber of our being has passed through our Maker’s Hands as he transforms us into His workmanship.

art of the mundane
Knitting and photo credits to Heather B.

Do you see what my friend did there? She took the mundane, ordinary hobby of knitting and made it into a holy moment. No longer confined just to the things of this world. An otherworldly truth, a beautiful, artistic moment broke forth. We are surrounded by beauty, by art even in the very ordinary things of our lives. 

Brother Lawrence wrote a book many centuries ago called “Practicing the Presence of God”. In one of the more well-known passages, Lawrence talks about experiencing the very presence of God while washing dishes in the monastery. 

art of the mundane

How to see art in the mundane

I don’t know what your “to do” list looks like this week. I suspect much of it involves work tasks, errands to run, perhaps a few fun activities thrown in there. The vast majority of your tasks are likely ones you do every week, maybe even every day. Most of us live rather ordinary lives. I want to challenge you to open your eyes to see the beauty that is around you. Where is the art to be found in those mundane moments?

We’re in the process of launching our Instagram feed; you can follow us @artoflgabel. I’d love to see you be part of that adventure. As your eyes are opened to the art around you, grab your phone and snap a picture. Share your everyday moments of art with us, use #artofthemundane. 

art of the mundane

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