Monday, December 5, 2016

My tea bag told me I was limitless

My tea bag last night said "You are limitless". 
But my message board I'm staring at as I'm writing this has a rather unfortunate "e" that fell off the word "quiet" and so you can figure out the rest. "Quit" is now staring me in the face. 
Isn't life funny sometimes?  I took neither of these messages entirely to heart, although I suppose both do ring a bit true on this Monday, while I'm sitting at this kitchen table, with this mug.  

I've had a yearning to write.  If you peeked into my house around 5:30 in the morning and saw me curled up and cozy under the covers, you'd be baffled at the writing thing.  Especially if you saw how our mornings start and then the steady pace our days roll on by with.  I used to think I didn't have free time for blogging or painting or whatever little ideas squeezed their way into my mind among the piles of laundry and cooking.  The truth was, I had loads of time compared to now.  And parents of teenagers or older kiddos, I know. I've heard it a million times already-"just wait 'till they get older." 

Although I certainly believe some things need to take a backseat for a season (you read my painting blog post, right?), I have never prescribed to the train of thought that says "life is too busy, I'll just quit."  Life is as busy and busting at the seams as we make it.  It's the words, ideas, practices, and rituals that make life rich.  Sometimes though one part of life is screaming for attention and the rest fades into the background.  That's where I am now.  

I mentioned ever so briefly that I was working on some things, health-wise.  Nothing major, but big enough to where I truly wasn't feeling well at all, for days and weeks and sometimes months.  It came to an almost breaking point while on the most lovely date in Eureka Springs, when I finally, tearfully told Brett "I'm so rosy I cover it up really well, but I just don't feel well.  Hardly ever." 

He gently but firmly encouraged me to make a couple doctor's appointments or else he would.  I haven't been a good student my whole life for nothing. I called the doctors. 

A non-emergency diagnosis from one, a set of crooked X-rays from another.  To make a long story a little shorter I was dealing with some internal things but also my spine and neck were way, way out of line.  To make an even longer story even shorter, I'm now going to the chiropractor weekly and have made drastic changes to my diet.  Both of these tools combined have made for a me that feels good, like really good!  It is amazing and freeing. 

But this has been my one part of life that's been screaming for attention.  And so I've given it.  As I've done so I've felt at a loss or drained for words about all the other squares of life that make up this rich tapestry that is our story.  

Where to even start about that cute bulletin board makeover I did?  How to explain our first foster care meeting is tonight and all I'm looking for as I scan the horizon are cheerleaders and an army of God to encourage us, not tell us your worst horror story.  How do I pull back the curtain on my entire health story without feeling like I'm standing and shouting in the middle of a very quiet crowd with questioning looks and strange glances?  How do I unpack my journey into my photography business, without it sounding shallow and easy?  Because it truly has just fallen into place! 

I find that writing for me is like sinking deep into a really great couch, with my favorite afghan and a mug of something really hot.  Preferably coffee or a close second, tea. I've never been a good writer on the fly.  I need time to watch the words dance across the screen and mull over them.  With all that is swirling in my world right now it's been hard to jump in and grab a piece of life and write about it. 

Yet that longing to write is only intensifying as change seems to line up in a row, handing out marching orders in my life one after the other.  I will also say the new Gilmore Girls series did nothing to quench this desire either.  If you've watched, you know what I mean. 

All that to say, I'm here, I'm longing to write, and I will.  I'm neither limitless nor going to quit.  I'm just right here in the middle, mostly rosy but also realistic.  Some day down the road I'd love to share the natural ways God is using to heal me, from the inside out.  For now, I pinky-promise to keep showing up on the blog.  Just this week the girls and I pulled up Christmas posts from the past, one after another.  It was like watching the most beautiful film I could have dreamed up.  I've spent too much of life wishing for someone else's story at times.  

Not this time.  This is my story, my song, my life ballad back to God for all that He has done.  My story is beautiful and so is yours. 

 Go into your week with that planted firmly in your heart.  I'll pray you see it take root and grow into the tangible you can see with your eyes.  Perhaps a smile from someone you've been praying for, a moment of quiet and a beautiful sky, a funny something to make you laugh when your bones are aching for joy.  I know this time of year isn't rosy and merry for all and my heart aches to send some joy flying your way, like the flight of birds that soar over the farm a few times a day.  That's what I'm praying for you.  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

...and the paint goes on!

"I'm finding I'm not able to do near as much as I thought"...or something close to that.  This is the line I read in Shauna Niequest's life-changing book Present Over Perfect.  Her point was when she unloaded her plate a bit, so to speak, she found she could do fewer things than she thought, if she were to do them well.  
The same is oh, so true of me, as hard of a journey as it's been for me to realize that and admit it.  But how freeing to know our limits! I am an avid dreamer, a gal with a wild imagination.  You'll almost never find me without an idea in mind, or most likely a whole handful! Enough to go around for days and days.  Ideas for events, paintings, photos, crafts with the girls, and new things to cook.  Music to listen to, Pinterest ideas to try, books to read.  These are the things flooding my brain, almost constantly.  I got to the place a year or so ago where I realized I wasn't doing well at much of anything because I was so scattered.  
So I made a change. I wrote down just a few areas to focus on and put my head down and got to work.  My "to do" list shortened but my memories and ministry grew by leaps and bounds.  Suddenly I felt more free about choosing to tackle the mess in the closets instead of ignoring it and paint instead.  I started placing my family as my first priority and my best priority, not my other thing to do that was keeping me from my true passions and talents.  As ugly as that is to type (and as hurtful) it's where I was. 
All that to say, as I changed my mindset my schedule shifted too.  I don't have set studio hours to paint, it just happens here and there.  As my photography business has grown (such a blessing!) my painting time has dwindled at times.  

Now, as the dreamer that I am, that is admittedly frustrating at times for me.  I want to do ALL the things, ALL the time.  But my heart simply cannot leave my loved ones trailing in the dust because I had my hands too full of dreams.  

For now I am painting when I can, sketching here and there. I aim to manage some little pockets of my days better, getting me back into a more regular routine with art.  

Because oh how I crave it.  I almost physically long for a paintbrush in my hand and my eyes long to see color fill a page.  It is necessary to the very fiber of my being. 

While I do miss painting so often, I'm not missing much.  The precious, priceless moments with my children and my dear Brett are worth more than painting could ever give me. 

For today I choose this-"Inch by inch, life's a cinch.  Yard by yard, life is hard." 

Inch by inch I'm learning to embrace the ministry and love and creativity God has called me to as both a mama and an artist.  Inch by inch, I'll paint my passions.  

Yard by yard, life isn't hard when I keep my heart in focus. 
It's beautiful. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hiking the Buffalo

Let's do a bit of time travel, shall we? Back in early autumn we took a day to go on a hike, near the Buffalo.  We feel like the luckiest people because we live fairly close to so many beautiful spots.  It takes us a bit over an hour to reach the Buffalo River and the hiking is superb in our opinion. 

Hiking is something we've done as a family since the girls were babies.  We've graduated from a fairly smooth path with the stroller, to this.  Both the girls climbed up and down this steep path with help from Brett and I.  They really had to be brave, but wore the most triumphant, confident look after they'd made it.  "We can do hard things girls", that's what I keep telling them. 
The leaves here were warm and glorious! 
I typically carry my camera and sometimes my camera bag, when we hike.  You can see that sometimes the girls think they need to carry their cameras like their mama, too.  Other than that we don't typically take anything with us if it's a short hike.  On the longer hikes I'll sometimes wear a backpack with kleenex, water, and a few snacks inside.  

My kiddos are never, ever bored on hikes and one of the reasons being that we keep our eyes out looking for the interesting, the lovely, the different, the colorful.  One of them spotted this beautiful snail!  Sometimes our hikes can take a while because they want to stop and admire almost everything.  Especially Betsy! She is like her mama, she sees hearts everywhere and what looks like abstract art to everyone else, looks like shapes and pictures and stories to her. 

Near the steep parts of the trail Brett and I walk nearest the edge and make the girls hold onto our hands the whole time.  

One of the best parts about hiking the Buffalo is that after you're done you can sit by the river and have a picnic! I am most definitely a water girl, as a close friend pointed out to me one day recently.  Whether it be the river, the lake, or even our farm creek, the gurgles and soothing sounds of water running over rocks is simply my favorite.  

This was such a plain day, but certainly one of our favorites.  Although we love the city and fancy places just as much as the next person, we are really most at home in nature.  Give me a pile of rocks to sit on, the company of my family, a few birds soaring, and the happy gurgling of water running past and I am a happy gal. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hello. Is it me you're looking for?

Sorry, bad blog title I know, but we saw Trolls this week and that was a line from the movie and it stuck.  You might not be looking for me around here, but I am! I have deeply missed this space.  The girls started pre-school again, way back in August.  We quickly fell into our normal school routine and as each week filled up and the next one stood waiting it felt as if someone took a globe (or our world itself) and gave it a good spin.  The kind of spin that gets you to almost December and you're smiling, but trying to catch your breath and wondering where all the time went. 
As I shared in my last post, my photography calendar has been full to the brim also this fall.  It wasn't a dream I was actively pounding the pavement for but instead has come about rather naturally. I have looked at Brett dozens of times and said "What a surprise! What a treat! What an honor!".  You really cannot even imagine the thrill I get from tenderly taking people and their stories and telling them well with photographs and film.  It isn't something I take lightly at all.  I am so very honored and astounded that I have had the privilege of spending time with so many of you and capturing your season of life.  I have some really fun ways I'd like to continue improving my photography and keeping my inspiration fresh over the Christmas break and then I'm excited to start booking spring shoots! 

I've also been asked several times if I'd teach a photography class and have plans to do so.  Please stay tuned! 
In the meantime, besides spending time taking photos and editing them, we have thoroughly enjoyed our Arkansas version of fall.  Here on the farm the trees get "so-so"....meaning pretty, but for a fairly short amount of time.  We are so lacking in rain this year which I assume makes a difference.  The girls and I have spent time in town around the square, where the maple trees are aplenty.  Certainly a feast for our eyes, indeed!  With it being so warm we have spent plenty of days outside, until that winter darkness shoves us back in for the night.  
I keep thinking and saying I should be reading, as I am typically an avid reader.  This year though, it's been mostly cookbooks or magazines or watching shows.  Yes, I too am a true and true Gilmore Girls fan.  Have you watched?  I can't say I have loved the new episodes near as much as I expected.  Anyway, we have enjoyed Anne of Green Gables on PBS, the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, and videos from the library.  

But back to the reading-what do you recommend for me? 

One of the reasons I've been reading cookbooks and recipes so much (besides the fact I just plain adore them) is that I've been working on some minor health issues and trying to heal through food, vitamins, and weekly visits to the chiropractor.  And you know what? So far, so good. Very, very good.  A little further down the road I'll share more, but for now I need to own this story as just my own.  

So many of you have kindly asked about our foster care journey, which will actually begin Monday, December 5th with our first meeting! We are going through The Call, which is a local organization/ministry that comes alongside families and helps them work with DCFS to become a certified foster family.  Our agency work on our adoption is closed, it doesn't transfer to any of our foster care journey.  So we are essentially starting at square one. 

I also plan to write more about this journey as well and shed some light on the misconceptions people have about foster care because there are many.  I will start by saying this, you can specify which age you are interested in and how many children at a time.  So if you're like we were and picturing a group of 5 teenagers coming to your house and you don't currently feel ready for that, that's actually not a good excuse to not help.  At least for us it wasn't.  I remember the day so clearly someone told me we could foster babies, and just one at a time if we wanted. 

An instant "Yes! I'm in" went off in my head. Every single one of my selfish excuses I'd been tossing around had light shed on them and I saw them as they were-mostly wrong and pretty silly. 
With that said, I'm not sure when we'll finish all of our training (it's 30 hours worth) but boy are we excited to have a baby in the house again! It will feel like a whole new world. 

Betsy had a birthday last weekend and turned FOUR! 

See? I told you, spinning world for sure.  I am so grateful for all this life buzzing around me.  My camera is the instrument in which I make it slow down, even if just a bit.  
Art, music I'm loving, Christmas decorations, Advent....
there is so much more to share with you my friends. 
For today though I've got one last sip of tea and then it's 
"see you later" 'till tomorrow! 

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