Mother’s Day or Money Day?

I know this sounds un-American, but I have a close friend, who says that Mother’s Day is nothing but baloney–a made up day to sell greeting cards and goodies. Now, don’t get all worked up, even the founder of American Mother’s Day Anna Jarvis ended up criticizing the celebration for becoming too commercialized.

According to Wikipedia, Ann Jarvis [mom] “was very active within the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church community. It was during one of her Sunday school lessons in 1876 that her daughter, Anna Jarvis [daughter], allegedly found her inspiration for Mother’s Day, as Ann closed her lesson with a prayer, stating: “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.” On May 10, 1908, three years after her mother’s death, Anna Jarvis held a memorial ceremony to honor her mother and all mothers at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, today the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in Grafton, West Virginia, marking the first official observance of Mother’s Day

Jarvis frequently referred to her mom’s memory during her efforts to maintain the sentimental heart of the day while also maintaining her own role as the founder of the holiday. 

In addition to her efforts to maintain her position and recognition as the holiday’s founder, Jarvis struggled against forces of commercialization that overwhelmed her original message. Among some of these forces were the confection, floral and greeting card industry. Anna said, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.” 

Oh dear! This echo’s my friends thoughts that honoring a mom once a year, while ignoring her most of the time is really a heart issue.

Now I know that my mom strived to be a much better mother to me than her mother was to her. I am grateful for the love, care, and encouragement she gave us. But I know that many sons and daughters may find it very, very hard to love and honor their moms. Whether it’s favoritism, abandonment, cruelty or whatever, the pain of not having a mother that fulfills our perfect image of motherhood holds us back.

Many artists have portrayed their mothers, some in surprisingly beautiful ways. For instance, very few people would recognize this painting as Picasso’s, often known as the pioneer of cubism.

We get a real treat when looking at Albrecht Durer’s oil painting of his mother and later some of his thoughts about her.

After she in turn died in 1514, her son wrote “This my pious Mother … often had the plague and many other severe and strange illnesses, and she suffered great poverty, scorn, contempt, mocking words, terrors, and great adversities. Yet she bore no malice. Also she died hard … I felt so grieved for her that I cannot express it.” I think this famous sketch of her at age 63 conveys Durer’s sadness about her hard life. 

If you were to paint your mother, what would she look like to you today, right now? Would that painting show the hardness of your heart, your anger, your unforgiveness, your hurt?

As lovers of Christ, we are commanded to love one another. This is hard, but it is a command. That command doesn’t include nursing a grudge, replaying your woundedness or treasuring your martyred state. To mature in our faith in Christ is simple. We say no to ourselves and yes to God. It is simple, but no, it is not easy. A first step toward that may be to ask God to cleanse and change your heart.

Our last portrait is the famous and iconic painting of Whistler’s mother. Perhaps you can’t tell from looking at the painting of her what Whistler thought, or perhaps you can! In any of the above 3 moms, I myself love Picasso’s portrait of his mother. 

While God is often referred to as Father, the Scriptures do in fact use maternal imagery to show us that God loves us, provides for us and cares for us like a mother with her newborn. Isaiah tells of God as the One who feeds, comforts, and cares for His children; and while even some human mothers may forget their children, God never will. He is better than even the best mother. Jesus himself draws upon maternal imagery in Deuteronomy when he laments over Jerusalem His longing to gather His people as a mother hen gathers her chicks.

God wants us to know that His heart is for us. What about your heart?Perhaps you need to examine it this Mother’s Day.

 

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Thankful for the Lasting Legacy

Webster defines a legacy as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” What kind of legacy do you want to leave?

Several years ago a young couple, who had recently gotten married, began attending our church. Jeremy was starting a new life. And his new wife loved the Lord, and supported and strengthened him. So when she got pregnant and we had a baby shower for her, I decided to give them a gift certificate for a portrait of their new baby boy, Eli.

Eli arrived, healthy and full of energy. I mean full of laughter, love, smiles, and ACTION! That baby loved being held by everyone at church and brought us all so much joy! But getting a photo of the growing Eli, was practically impossible–this little fellow moved fast!! Finally, after many attempts, I was able to capture his zest for life. But alas, it was a lousy cell phone shot.

Eli Legacy blog 1

I moved ahead anyway, trying to capture him in my preliminary sketch.

But in the back of my mind I had a deep admiration for his mom, Freisia and dad, Jeremy. They were raising two sons, Joshua, Freisia’s first son, and now Eli. They made a commitment to raise a godly family, to leave a godly legacy. In Proverbs 22:6 it states: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Eli legacy blog 3

Just taking pictures of Eli, I realized how challenging it is to make a firm decision in a crooked and difficult world. Parents have a hard task to raise spiritually healthy children who know and love the Lord.

Eli legacy blog 4

What does all this have to do with Thanksgiving? Well, to raise kids in a world hostile to Christian values is a struggle. It takes time, energy, and the ability to dedicate yourself and your children into His care and hands.

Eli legacy blog 5

There will be lots of families gathered today for Thanksgiving, but I am especially thankful for those parents and grandparents who are raising kids who will learn to love Jesus. I am thankful for the thousands of youth workers, like my friend Joy, who have dedicated their time, attention, and love on the young people who will one day lead our nation. Today, I am especially thankful for all the Michelles, Justins, Jeremys, Freisias, Yvonnes, and countless others who are raising a new group of godly children that will turn into God worshiping adults. We give God all the glory for helping them.

Eli legacy blog 6

Thank you Lord for parents, grandparents, church leaders, and teachers that strengthen the true fabric and meaning of love embodied in our Lord Jesus Christ. Empower them as they diligently endeavor to leave a lasting legacy of godly principles and embedding them into our children.

Perhaps you share my admiration for godly shepherds, do tell me about it! If you’d like to leave a lasting legacy in a portrait, it’s not too late to order a gift certificate for that special loved one as a Christmas gift. Email me and we can talk about it.

 

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We Gather Together for what?

How would you answer that question? We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing….so goes the old hymn. Was that your first response? If you know the hymn, it’s probably stuck in your head now, so perhaps that was your answer!

Many of us will gather with loved ones, friends, family, maybe even strangers, and celebrate Thanksgiving next week. But why do we gather? I’m not talking about historical or political underpinnings of the official “Thanksgiving” holiday. My hunch is that most of us have never thought much about why we gather. At the same time, most of us would not want to celebrate the holidays alone. There’s something about our need to celebrate that is most fully expressed as we gather.

I’ve written on Thanksgiving before, and this year, Laura is tasked with the official Thanksgiving Day blog post. So I was trying to come up with something unique and creative to commemorate the holiday. And for inspiration, I went to my trusty companion…google. Gatherings have been a frequent inspiration for many artists. In fact, I’ve already used one of the most famous works:

gather blog 1
Luncheon of the Boating Party, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Oil on canvas, 51 x 68, 1881. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC.

Living in Florida, I found it interesting that many of the famous paintings of various gatherings depicted people enjoying a meal together outside.

gather blog 2
HIp, Hip, Hurrah! by Peder Severin Kroyer, oil on canvas, 53 x 65 in, 1888. Gothenburg Museum of Art.

For most of my life, I have lived in climates where Thanksgiving weather necessitates eating indoors. What about you? Will you gather inside or enjoy the great outdoors while you dine?

I love this painting, which was new to me.

gather blog 3
Lunch on the field, Francisco Bayeu y Subias, oil on canvas, 37 x 56 cm, 1775, Museo del Prado, Madrid.

It is clearly a festive occasion – there are wine bottles nearby and a guitar off to the side. The participants are enjoying themselves, perhaps they sang prior to the meal, or maybe they will sing afterwards. It looks like the kind of gathering I would enjoy! Will you have music involved as you gather? Will you sing together?

I was entertained to see that two artists painted such similar paintings that they actually chose the same title.

gather blog 3
Luncheon on the Grass, Paul Cezanne. Oil on canvas, 81 x 60cm, 1869. Private Collection.
gather blog 4
Luncheon on the Grass, Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 248 x 217 cm, 1866. Musee d’Orsay, Paris.

In both of these works, the participants in the luncheon seem at ease with one another. Some of the gentlemen have removed their hats, the ladies are reclining on picnic blankets. There is a level of comfort and familiarity to the scene. I certainly hope you gather with folks whom you enjoy. And that you are comfortable with those gathered around your table (or picnic blanket).

It is possible though that this holiday season finds you alone, the stranger. Who might you ask to welcome you? And for those of us who may be the host of a holiday gathering, who is the stranger who needs a welcoming table?

In our home, we will indeed gather to ask the Lord’s blessing. He has been very gracious to us this year. Enjoy this little clip from A Prairie Home Companion – may you smile, wonder at God’s blessings, and perhaps extend a bit more grace as you extend your table and gather together.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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My daughter the unwitting celebrity

I have a “famous” daughter. My children are an endless source of inspiration and I love to write about them. In fact, I just did a quick search on my own blog and found more than ten examples of posts where I mention my girls. We take them on trips to art museums, we expose them to local artisans, we encourage their own creativity, and we delight to see them embracing, appreciating, and contributing art.

We, as a school community, celebrate both the visual and performing artistic endeavors of our students in grades K through 12 every spring. The students perform a variety of musical numbers for their adoring fans.  We also have a chance to view many of their art projects on display. Students are invited to submit original artwork to grace the cover of the program for the evening’s festivities.

daughter art 2

My oldest daughter labored for days on getting her design just right. She wanted to find the perfect illustration for this year’s theme of “summer”. In the end, the teachers recognized her hard work by granting her the privilege of having her artwork on the program’s cover. She became an instant celebrity on campus the day it was announced. I arrived to pick her up at the end of the day, and as we lingered on campus, every student who passed us called out their congratulations.

daughter art

Proud daughter, proud mama

I was so proud of my daughter for having her artwork recognized. Our students were so gracious to acknowledge their classmate’s success, and to be genuinely proud of her accomplishment. My daughter was definitely excited to have won, but she was also humble. I know that she does not like to be in the spotlight and was even a bit embarrassed at all the attention. She was also extremely worried about being publicly acknowledged during the night’s program. Her fears were relieved when she was simply recognized verbally that evening.

Now, I don’t know whether or not my children will ever have artwork on display in a gallery or a museum. But I do know that they love to create. Their minds of full of countless ideas, and art is one way in which they can express that imagination. I want to encourage them to be creative. We want them to enter contests, to take risks, to face their fears. I’m delighted that their school and their art provide them with opportunities to do so.

daughter art 1

What about you? Are there risks you can take? What art do you have to create? We all have something to share. Let’s also be the ones to cheer others on in their successes. And remember, if you should see artwork by A. Keller in your local museum, you saw her here first!

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A Gala, Grace, and Goodbye

A wise bear once said, ““How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”. If that is true, then I am indeed lucky, blessed in fact.

Two years ago, my family moved to the Austin, Texas area because my husband had accepted a teaching position at a classical school in Georgetown. This summer finds us packing up our home, saying “goodbye”, and moving yet again. I am excited to start a new adventure at a new school. However, I am finding the saying of “goodbye” to be incredibly difficult.

Recently, Laura blogged about a new painting she was finishing up for a benefit auction for our current school, Grace Academy. When I had originally asked Laura if she’d be willing to paint a landscape of our campus for the auction, I did not know we would be leaving the school. And so I found myself on a Friday night, surrounded by people who love the school and were excited to contribute their funds towards the furtherance of Grace Academy’s mission. Among the items up for bid was Laura’s painting.

goodbye to grace

Unexpectedly, I found myself anxious over it’s sale. Not because I didn’t think it would be popular, but because I was worried over who might get the painting. Would it be someone I know? Someone who loves art? A family who loves Grace Academy? Even though I didn’t create the beautiful landscape, saying “goodbye” to it felt a bit intimidating; it was also a “goodbye” to the school I’d come to love.

The auction was a silent auction, so I wasn’t aware of how the bidding was going. A friend of mine promised me that she’d let me know who purchased the painting once all the dust of the gala auction had settled. The next morning, I received a text from a dear friend that said, “guess what I have?!” and this picture:

grace goodbye 2

Not quite goodbye….yet

I found myself relieved that she was the one who purchased “Sunrise at Grace”. I told her that I was glad it was going to a good home; having it with her felt like it was still “in the family”.But I was also sad as the realization hit that she would be one of the hardest people to bid goodbye. She also texted me, “And now with y’all moving it holds another special place for me because I wouldn’t have the painting without your connection to Laura. So thank you! I will treasure it always. And always think of your and your family as well as the school we love so much!”

I have joked with her in the past that she is my muse when I have nothing to write about. On at least one occasion, she was the direct inspiration for my post of the week. I can think of countless other friends that I have met as a result of our time at Grace Academy who have so clearly influenced who I am as a person.

My friend sent a wonderful thank you note to Laura in regards to the painting:

I am writing to let you know that my family now has your beautiful painting of the Grace Academy landscape on our mantle! It is just beautiful!!! It will always hold a special place in my heart. Our two boys (currently 10th and 8th graders) started attending school at Grace in third and first grade. I can so clearly remember the first time my husband and I drove onto campus. The property is beautiful and just has a feeling of peace and joy. Even 8 years later I think of that first time I entered campus and how peaceful it was almost every single day that I drive onto the property. So thank you Laura! Thank you for your selfless donation of time and talent to our school. We will treasure it always. May God richly bless you in your artistic endeavors!

goodbye

This school will always hold a special place in our hearts as well. Even as I am writing this, I am a substitute teacher in the Upper School. I was just told by a roomful of eighth graders that I am their favorite sub, as I passed out their difficult Logic test. We will miss the students, we will miss the teachers, we will miss the parents. We are lucky indeed, for it is quite hard to say goodbye.

 

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Are you spoiled rotten?

After looking at so many definitions of the words “Spoiled Rotten” I’m not sure if it is a phrase that means something good, or something bad. I thought I knew!

So does “Spoiled Rotten” mean:

a) food that had spoiled, became rotted and is no longer edible

b) indulging a child, pet, or someone by giving them what they want, whenever they want, in excess

c) someone who didn’t do anything to deserve a showering of gifts

d) your other definition here: _____________________________

e) a badge of bragging when the giver overindulges another

Then if you look up the definitions of the words “spoiled” and “rotten” separately, you are bound to get confused!

Hopefully, this post today, is not nearly so confusing. It’s really about a sister loving a sister in an extraordinary way, giving from the heart and receiving graciously.

So here is the set-up: my sis Leesa said, “drive an hour and a half to Sarasota so I can treat you to lunch for your birthday.” She knew full well that this would not make sense to her uber logical, older sister. I mean if it’s my birthday…well, you finish the thought. Anyway, I love her and trust her, but on the drive I kept thinking, “what could be so special”, huh?

Oh how I was spoiled

She whisked me off to a enchanted cottage in downtown Sarasota called The Garden Room cafe at Shoogie Boogies. What a name, but oh my, oh me, what a splendid, charming place!

For me, it was as if I had gone down the rabbit hole as Alice in Wonderland and voila! I expected to see the Red Queen ready to escort us from one lovely room to another. A totally unexpected retreat from daily life.

The lovely hostess and owner Kathryn Kittinger was welcoming and delightfully prepared, for my birthday luncheon, a cozy table for two in the corner.

The food was yummy…really perfect; we both had mushroom soup (light, yet creamy). I had a fluffy broccoli and ham quiche, Leesa had the most marvelous looking crepes!

But the best part was just being together. Two sisters laughing, talking, sharing, just having a leisurely time of it! It really tickled me and she knew it. So elegant, so fun, great conversation with the closest and one and only sister!

Are you spoiled or a spoiler?

Plenty of giving gets done in our society, but it’s more on a tit for tat approach. Real giving can be an unexpected delight for the receiver. Jesus pursued me to give me an unexpected gift of not only eternal life but a life that is abundant with His presence. If you haven’t received that gift, the way has been made for you already:  “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13.

Soon you’ll learn a lot more about Kathryn Kittinger’s (Photographer and Creative Entrepreneur) amazing life and how she came to be in Sarasota and open this peaceful restaurant. Look for my next interview with her to really “over-the-top” encourage you!

In the meantime, have you ever been graciously spoiled by someone? I’d love to hear about it!

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Chickens and Brothers??

chickens and brothers collageWhat do my Rhode Island Red chickens in Florida have in common with a fabulous art exhibition about brothers at the Kimbell Museum in Ft. Worth?

During my recent visit to Texas, I discovered that Pam, my hostess and good friend had a surprise excursion planned:  TicketKimbell

The featured exhibit was devoted to a rare collection of 44 paintings by the Le Nain Brothers. These 3 French painting brothers were well known in the 1630’s and 1640’s. You can see some of their remarkable works here.

So where is the commonality and what is the mystery? Our, “Le Chicks” are pretty impossible to tell apart and art historians have had an almost impossible time trying to figure which of the brothers painted which paintings. In fact all 3 brothers worked together, apparently in harmony and signed all the paintings with just “Le Nain.”

Le Nain Brothers

Antoine, Louis and Mathieu have had the art world scratching their collective heads for a long time. A detailed chart at the Kimbell tried to ferret out the differences in signature painting styles, etc. But the fact remains that this art “who done it” will remain a mystery. Apparently the Le Nain brothers didn’t care who got credit.  La Nativite a la Torche was one of my favorites, solid, sculptural, sensitively composed with the light focused on mother and child. As you can see from this Nativity scene, they were in synch!

Le Nain Brothers - Nativity with the Torch

Very little is known about them, but they shared a studio, remained unmarried and seemed to be utterly devoted to their work. How did they do it?

Who figured out the compositions? The works are seamless. Did all three stand there and paint? Did they work in shifts? Was there discord?  They must have enjoyed it or they wouldn’t have worked together for such a long period of time. And finally, how in the world did they subordinate their egos?

Le Nain brothers

In a “me first” world, this is a rare picture of brotherly love.  Romans 12:10 (TLB) instructs us to “Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other.” But I think 1 Peter 3:8-12 (MSG) puts it in perspective for me, “Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing”

Do you know any other painters that paint together to create one work? How would you characterize the Le Nain’s approach to harmony? Have you experienced that kind of collaboration with your siblings? I know I have, but I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences. BTW, the exhibit concludes on September 11th, so if you’re in the Dallas area and you have a chance, don’t miss it!

 

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Two Ways to Visit an Art Museum

Recently, we loaded up the kids and headed to Houston for vacation, endeavoring to cram as much touristy fun into five days as was humanly possible. One of the places on our itinerary was the Museum of Fine Art. My husband and I have always enjoyed art museums, and our oldest is now a huge fan as well. But the five-year old… she’s along for the ride. It’s a lot of “Don’t touch the art” and “Don’t run” and “Shhhhhh,” but she’s learning. I tell myself that there is no other way for her to learn how to behave in and to appreciate art museums if she is not given the chance.

Houston art museum

Our experience in the morning was very different from our experience in the afternoon. In the morning, we leisurely ambled through gallery after gallery, talking quietly about our favorite pieces and exhibits that piqued our curiosity. After a break for lunch (to refuel) and a trip to the children’s museum (to placate our children), we returned in the evening to finish the galleries we had missed. Only now we were all tired, our feet were sore, more people were there, and there was really loud music playing in the lobby. So while the girls and I took a restroom break, my husband breezed through the remaining rooms to tell us where to find the big-name artists (Picasso in the first room, back wall; Monet 2nd room, left side etc.) so the girls and I could hit the highlights as we cruised through the remainder of the museum.

Houston art museum piece

That crazy day led to an interesting discussion: What is the best way to visit an art museum? I know I posted previously about the reason for benches in art museums. And truthfully, that is the way I prefer to visit — slowly, carefully, taking time to really see the art, to think about it, to be simply surrounded by beautiful works of art. 

But what if my regular, everyday existence did not regularly have room for art? What if I had never been exposed to such works of beauty? What if I had been given only one hour to walk inside the doors of an art museum? Shouldn’t I try to fill my visual cup with as much art as I could? Would it be worth it to breeze through just to have that art imprinted in my visual memory? I think so.

My brain cannot process information it does not have. My mind cannot ponder in a vacuum. It needs fuel. We live in a world that is too often ugly or sterile. We work in dull cubicles; our conversations occur all-too-often through technology instead of face-to-face. Our children play video games instead of drawing pictures or building forts. And our minds and imaginations grow dull. How many five-year olds have never even been to an art museum? Did my daughter sit and meditate on the wonderful Pissarro landscapes we saw? No, and frankly I’m not sure she could tell you much about what we saw that day. But her eyes saw much that was beautiful that day, and it will shape the way she thinks and feels. While I did appreciate the beauty of individual works, I also benefited from swimming through that vast collection of art. The world of human creativity is much bigger than I am, and not everyone looks like me, thinks like me, creates like me. To focus on a single work of art is to focus on a single drop of rain. But sometimes I need to see the immensity of the ocean.

What about you?

houston art museum Lewis Glacier

Are you a stop-and-ponder, focus-on-one-work-at-a-time sort of person? Or do you tend to breeze through and let it all flood over you? I think we all need some measure of both. What do you think? What do you do when you visit an art museum? How do you enjoy experiencing art? How do you take in the beauty of this world, both that of the Divine Artist and the human artists made in His image?

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But I’m not a writer…..

“I’d like you to write for the blog.” That one sentence, so small, so seemingly ordinary… It rocked my world. My first (and for awhile my ONLY) response was, “I’m not a writer.” I’m a mom, a wife, a virtual assistant. I’m in the background. My many and varied roles all work to make others shine. I’m a helper; I make your life easier, better, more efficient. What I don’t do is take center stage. So how did we get here, to this place where I’m writing, where I’m putting myself out there for all the world to see and read?

Let’s back up several months to the summer of 2015. As Laura has done more paintings and received more exposure, she has needed more time to create those beautiful pieces of art we so enjoy. As she created more beauty, she wanted a place to display (and hopefully sell!) her pieces to others. She asked me to create a blog where she could write about her creative process, showcase her artwork, and eventually sell her work. But over weeks and months, what started as a mere blog turned into a full blown website, complete with multiple pages, a blog, and an e-commerce store. Many thanks to WordPress and sites such as this one for holding this novice’s hand as I learned to develop a website. Although I’m nowhere near hiring myself out to develop and design website, and I still have a tremendous amount to learn, it was less painful than I thought it would be. And the site is up and running, and you are reading it.

But then Laura dropped that bomb on me: “I’d like you to write for the blog.” What?! Why? I’m not an artist, and I didn’t think I knew much about art. Laura graciously and lovingly challenged me on those perceptions. After all, our blog is called “The Art of Encouragement,” not “Here’s how to do art” or “The Art Blog” or something similar. As we talked further, a different image of what we want this site to be began to emerge. We want this site to be a place where anyone can come and find a place of beauty and encouragement for their day. We all face challenges and difficulties, and we can all benefit from a gentle, positive “push” in the right direction. 

So Laura finds her inspiration in her own artwork and the situations that brought that artwork into being. She draws from her own life and her own creative process. I, too, draw inspiration from my own life and my own creative processes (such as they are). At the heart of my life is my faith and my family. That’s why I write about those things so much. Who am I? I’m a child of God, a disciple of Jesus, a wife to an amazing man, and a mom to two incredible little girls. Those hats alone provide countless ideas and nuggets of thought than turn into these posts. And guess what?  I LOVE to write. Writing for this blog is my favorite part of the job Laura pays me to do. Sitting with my laptop, letting thoughts flow out onto the page that later get edited into more coherent thoughts. These posts are my art. This is where I create.

renoir woman with child

This painting by Renoir hangs in my daughters’ room. They are the “two sisters” who inspire me. It’s no surprise then, that I often use portrait paintings to illustrate my blog posts – people are the source of so much of my writing. I hope you enjoy the art as much as the blog posts!

What about you? Where do you find inspiration? Where do you create? All of us are created in the image of God. And God is a Creator. One of the ways we reflect His likeness is through our own creativity. What’s holding you back? To what creative opportunities do you object by saying “but…”? My challenge for you today is to take just ten minutes to go for a walk and think about it. Find that place in your life where you want to be creative, and then go do it. Then come back here and let us know how you create! I can’t wait to hear your stories.

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Norman Rockwell and Thanksgiving

rockwell

In our house, we like to joke that Thanksgiving is about “family, food, and football.” Although when I think about it, maybe we aren’t really joking! Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a time when we ought to reflect on all the things for which we are thankful. I truly do have so much for which to give thanks; God has blessed me far more than I deserve.

As I look at this Norman Rockwell painting, I wonder how many of our Thanksgiving celebrations even resemble this picture any longer. Do multiple generations of the same family dress up and gather around our table to enjoy a scrumptious feast? Last Saturday, I gathered with multiple generations for a pre-Thanksgiving feast, but it was served on paper plates rather than china. And we were gathered in my grandmother’s assisted living facility, not her house. Did that make it any less a time for giving thanks? Absolutely not. It was a delight to see my children enjoying time with their great-grandmother, and to see her face brighten just to be at the same table with us. 

Last week, we gathered with three other families from our church small group and enjoyed another pre-Thanksgiving feast. While none of us are related biologically, we all share an even deeper family connection through our faith in Christ. Our family in Christ may not look like a Norman Rockwell painting, but we shared a time of giving thanks nonetheless.

We will gather tomorrow for our “official” family Thanksgiving. The china will be out, the turkey will be scrumptious. But the faces will be varied – maybe just the four of us in my immediate family, perhaps some far-from-home college students, perhaps a few of our neighbors who decided not to be alone for the holiday. Again, not Rockwellian, but worthy of thanks still.

I don’t know what your Thanksgiving feast will look like. If your table is full, rejoice. If it is not, find others who may also be lonely and share your thanks (and your food) together. What is it that fills your heart with thankfulness this year? Share that with those gathered round you. Make memories; be thankful. 

If this year should find a once-filled chair now empty, don’t hide from the sadness. Remember the times that you shared and find joy in the memories. I pray you may find comfort in the God of all comfort. 

“Oh give thanks to the LORD for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1)

 

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