Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Grand Review: New House

I love summaries. So here's mine from 2012! I'm calling it a "grand review" because I'm going to break it up into several posts, rather than making it one obnoxiously long post.

After a ridiculously long wait of about three years, we sold our house in December of 2011, which propelled us into another long wait of home shopping. By April 2012, we closed on the new house and Jon began gutting the entire thing! Since he is amazing, and the hardest worker I know, he basically finished the house overhaul in six weeks, allowing us to move in by the end of May. 

It was crazy and chaotic and I realized I don't do well with that much crazy. I also discovered my most loathed paradox of life--sometimes when your dreams come true, rather than the expected feeling of elation, depression happens. The big, classic, letdown of something long dreamed about and idealized, becoming a reality--and reality is messy. I was caught unaware by this letdown, which maybe added to the depression, because frankly, I felt guilty that I wasn't elated and shouting praise to God every second for giving us what we wanted.  

Thankfully, finally, after six months of settling in, and wrestling with my inner crazy and life's paradox, I am truly soaking in the blessing of this place and enjoying it for all the marvelousness it truly is.

Throwing hammers into the wall for fun. Before tearing it down.

This boy gets the hard-work genes from his daddy! He loved helping!

Family Room: Before

Family room: after. With family in it.

My little art model-man helping me choose color schemes.
Living Room

Thanksgiving in our new home, and SO thankful!

The blessing of an amazing view and a pair of stunning pine trees in our own backyard!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hope in the Sorrowful Swamp

painting by Fiona Finlay
Life's ebbs and flows of sorrow and joy come in and out for me pretty smoothly, normally. Yet this year has felt sorrowfully swampy. Like a shallow pool of muddy water has seeped in and won't wash away and it's clouding even the best moments.  I've been waiting for a natural draining to take place, for the moon to cycle around, and gravity's force to pull the tide out, and with it, the murky water. But still it stays. Last night I felt a complete loss as to what to do about it; I wanted something to do to push away this rotten water for good.

Today, when each piece from the few blogs I regularly read seemed to speak so directly and specifically to me, I felt a jolt of hope that the swamp won't remain forever. I'm posting my two favorites here to keep for my own future reminders, and to share, because they are fabulous.

1. In Which I Simply Get to Work by Sarah Bessey. This was my "something to do"! And who would ever think it--chores! Chores to the rescue! This post resonated so deeply in my soul, I almost didn't want to share it. But that felt selfishly silly.

"I bring order to my soul with the ordinary work, the ordinary love, the ordinary beauty of the every day life, and funny as it may be, it's where I find that space of pause, the shut off switch for my never-ending-inner-monologue that so irritates me..."

2. The Unintended Double-Edged Sword by Seth Haines. This post, in such a succinct way, pieced together parts of a theological puzzle I had been stuck on for a long time. I felt something important click together for me as I was reading this.

"A word of caution to the would be story tellers: prosperity does not necessarily implicate providence, nor does it always bring comfort. Sometimes, the providence is in the pain."

How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?...
But I have trusted in Your mercy,
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation
I will sing to the Lord
for He has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:2, 5-6

Read away and ponder with me...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beginning My Art Collection

I just bought my first original painting by an artist, Michele Maule, who I've admired on etsy for a couple years! She does a lot of collage and oil painting, but I felt this watercolor was made for me. I have a fascination with flocks of geese. When they fly overhead I feel like I've been graced by something magical. As an animal, a goose is feisty and I'm a little afraid of them, but in flight they're ethereal.

I love the pen detail in this piece and the way the clouds are blotchy and stylized. Clouds make me happy too, and we've got this blue-gray-white scheme in our house, so really, I couldn't have made a better choice with this one to start my art collection!

Check out Michele's other works here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Love in the Fog

Photo Credit

My love and I have been floating for a a few months.

Not in the dreamy, newlywed way,

but rather, in the suspended, circling the airport, waiting to land, kind of floating.

We're in the fog, antsy, uncomfortable.

Yet here we remain sitting next to each other close enough to touch

with hands in our laps.

Waiting for the clear to land, waiting for a voice to say it's safe and our turn.

What if the safety never comes?

Will we run out of fuel and plummet, stomachs lifting before a quick end on solid ground?

Will we turn around and fly to better weather and clearer runways?

Either way, whether it's crashing and burning, or landing and moving on,

I think I need to reach out and take your hand,

hold it tightly and remain.


For it's your hand, love

that I've vowed to hold in light and dark.

It's your hand that's patient, kind, knowing, gentle, strong.

It's your hand I want to hold when we find our footing again

and run, run, run out of the fog

grounded and facing the bright blue of

love everlasting.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I want to say...

Acrylic on canvas by Katie M. Berggren

When I started this blog I wanted it to be the place where I explore everything "non-mommy" since so many hours of my days are spent being mommy. My life is full of our children and they make my joy full, yet I still want space for me; to think, pray, create, learn and be quiet.

And yet...

Louise Erdrich has said, "the world tips away when we look into our children's faces", and I've found this profoundly true, especially when seasons of trial muddle my sight of life's beauty. I look into my children's faces, and I am reminded.  I'm reminded of the fact that every day I get to love and care for God's living, breathing, learning, laughing, beautiful creations. They are part of me, reflect me, and reflect God. I find them miraculous in every sense. They make the world's ugly fade with the beauty of their faces and hearts.

How could I leave them out of this space?

In light of this I'm going to do a series where each week in April I'll write about my kids, and Jon too, since without him, our wee ones wouldn't be. These three, the biggest, most constant, always giving gifts in my life.

As I'm writing this, JJ Heller just sang in my ears, "If I could not hold a pen, I would write of you with my heart instead."  I feel like I've been doing a lot of this--holding precious snapshots of daily moments with Jon and our kids inside my heart. But since I can hold a "pen", I want to write with my heart and honor my loves inside of my "non-mommy" place on the internet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blue Like Jazz. The Movie. April 13th!

My friend Michele and I had the chance to see a pre-screening of Blue Like Jazz on Monday. We also got to meet Donald Miller, Steve Taylor (director) and Marshall Allman (plays Donald Miller in the film). They held a Q&A after the film, and it was interesting to hear their stories about creating and producing the film.

Donald Miller-author of Blue Like Jazz
When I read the book, Blue Like Jazz in 2003, I immediately loved Miller's humor and honesty in sharing his spiritual journey. I felt it fully deserved its 40 plus weeks on the National Bestseller List. In 2009 I read A Million Miles in A Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. In this book, Miller shares a lot about writing the script for Blue Like Jazz, and I loved this book even more than his prior two. It was one of those "laugh-out-loud, then ugly cry, then laugh again" books for me. If you haven't read either book, and you want to see the movie, "A Million Miles", would be great to read first.

Steve Taylor and Marshall Allman

The film is a comedy about young Donald Miller (Marshall Allman) who had grown up Southern-Baptist in Texas, and decides to attend Reed College in Portland, Oregon his freshman year. He is wanting to escape his sub-culture, his family issues, and God Himself. Reed College is the perfect setting for the escape he's seeking. Reed  has actually been called "the most godless campus in the U.S."  The story progresses as he navigates making friends and getting involved on campus, all the while quietly dealing with his existential  questions.

I believe the first way to ruin a potentially good story, in literature or film, is to make it "message heavy". To make a message the priority over the story structure, character development, or other important elements, is damaging to the story's integrity. It makes it preachy and awkward and I can't even stand it. I never felt any sermonizing from this film. The creators of the film don't call Blue Like Jazz a "Christian Movie", but rather a movie about a Christian. The story succeeded in telling an entertaining story about a conflicted student, and how he deals with the conflict.

For me, if watching movies that are adapted from books is a hobby, I claim that as one of mine! I love how each medium can work together to tell the story, each with different strengths--all the better if the film adaptation makes a lot of changes! I enjoy reading the book first, then seeing the movie and visa-versa. Even though much of the content from the book was altered to fit the movie, it worked. An excerpt from "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" perfectly sums up the need to alter the book for film:

"Let me put this another way," Steve said. "While you've written a good book, thoughts don't translate onto the screen very well. The audience can't get inside your head like they can in a book. They will be restless. They won't engage. Trying to be true to the book is like asking people to read your mind. A story has to move in real life and real time. It's all about action."
"You think they might be bored if we just show my life the way it is," I clarified. I guess I was asking for reassurance that my life was okay. "I think they'd stab each other in the necks with drinking straws," Steve said. 

One element I love most about the art of film is the acting--it's a deal-breaker for me if the acting doesn't measure up. I have much respect for actors who can pull off a convincing performance, since I can't even control my facial expressions or express emotion in appropriate ways in normal life! (Don't argue with me on this point, friends.) I love how an actor can add nuance to the emotion in a story that I sometimes don't imagine when I'm reading--even sometimes in brilliantly written stories. I felt each performance by the main characters in Blue Like Jazz was excellent. Each character was richly portrayed by the actors.

I'm happy to say this movie was not message heavy, but a vivid portrayal of a college student's life, even though heavily altered and adapted from book form. Steve Taylor said they took full advantage of their PG-13 rating to attempt a realistic portrayal of the culture at Reed College. They wanted to walk the line between honest storytelling and gratuitousness. Personally, I think they did a good job. Just don't take your kids unless you want them to learn some early lessons about drinking, drugs, sexuality, civil disobedience and almost-naked marching bands.

One creative choice the filmmakers made was to bring some of the cartoon elements from the book into the movie. If you've read the book, remember the sexy carrot? Yes, she's in the movie. Weird. I think they could have pulled off some of the cartoony-ness if they had the budget for quality CG effects, but instead they give you some awkward moments that made me cringe a little. Considering this is the only weakness that stood out to me, I really enjoyed the movie overall and feel it artfully tells Don's story with strong themes of love, friendship, and forgiveness. I hope they have much success when they open in select cities April 13th! I'm actually slightly insanely curious about how this film will be received!

If you're a big fan of the book and want the movie in your city, visit the Blue Like Jazz website to find out how you can get it there! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Painting. A Year Late

This week I took a painting class with Wendy Brightbill, a local mixed-media artist, and had so much fun! This was a goal from 2011, and even though accomplished late, it's directed me unexpectedly in my goal setting for this year. Okay, "a bit", is understating it--novel work is pushed aside (for now) and I'm ready to PAINT!! Though writing brings me serious happiness on an ontological level, visual art does the same, yet it feels more do-able on a daily basis at this stage in life. Also, I'm loving that I can invite my kids to join in the mess with me!

One of my favorite pieces by Wendy Brightbill. Check out her etsy shop!

First up--I'm doing an art journal! This idea has been around for a while, but I'm just now learning about it and it seems perfect for learning and growing as an artist.

I'm doing the journal in the form of an "altered book"--a recycled, hardcover children's book transformed into my own original work. Each page or spread will be a practice in a different mixed-media technique, but really personal to whatever is on my heart and mind that day or season. I looked through several of Wendy's books at the class, and I was moved by them in such a way, all I could say was,

"Wow--these are like, an experience!!"

 Art. Journal.

Perfect for someone who likes words and color at the same time--me! Happiness. Ontologically. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Breathtaking Empty Space

My prayer these days. Maybe it will be a good one for you too!

Photograph by Erica DeDell
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.
--Common Prayer; A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

This is the last line of a prayer in the book of Common Prayer; A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro. You can read all the prayers in the book on this site!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Town Mouse, Country Mouse

This will be me--a town girl, living with country mice--if we get the house we have an offer on right now. The one I lost three hours of sleep over last night. The one that feels like a mountain retreat with a breathtaking peak view; that is completely, miraculously, in our price range.

It's been thirteen years since I've lived anywhere remotely country, probably about ten years since Jon was a ranch worker, riding a horse with a lasso (I'm imagining the lasso--not sure if that's totally true) herding Longhorn Cattle.

Our last house was so bug-free it was an event when we had a housefly inside. I'm certain this house will come with much more than that--spiders, beetles, woodpeckers, mice...

If we get this house, we will have what we think we want. Forest, meadow, acres, view, yet close enough to town to remain actively engaged with school, friends and family.

I might fall on the floor in mourning if this doesn't work out. I'm ready to embrace all that comes with country-living, including mice helping me put on my earrings.


Check out the artist of this painting. Love her work!