Portrait of Sunday Reed

Portrait of Sunday Reed by Moya Dyring, 1934

You never really know where a rabbit trail is going to take you. I set out to find a work of art that suited me. I searched for “Sunday art” since today is Sunday and that’s quite an ordeal of good and bad. I wanted something calming, maybe a landscape, but I ended up being intrigued by this portrait of Sunday Reed. She was an art collector in Australia. There’s a book about her. She had a unique life, it would seem, but the photo images showed her with her husband and children, and they seemed loving.

Is this calming and Sunday-like? Not really. But it’s human. And the portrait hints at something beyond human–something lovely and ethereal. I looked up ethereal. Something delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world. The color combination reminds me of grocery bags, but also chalk, and… and… a painting I made in the little art walk-through room at Ripon College. It reminds me of the way that room smelled. This painting is about memory, I think. At least, it is for me, right now. I love how paintings can pull you in like that. This is one I would enjoy hanging on my wall.


What Could I Sell?

In my quest to explore ways I can help earn a living, I explored Etsy. I have a friend who does well selling her homemade things on Etsy, so it’s something I needed to look into. What could I sell? Drawings. I explored drawings. There’s a lot of neat artwork on Etsy, and the prices are really all over the board. Some people are practically giving away original art, and some people are charging hundreds of dollars. I could do artwork made to order. You know, someone gives me their wedding photo and I make a drawing of it with some design-y stuff in the background. Or I could experiment with watercolor. I could appeal to the cat crowd. I think my family is officially cat-crazy enough to appeal to just about any cat person. (Don’t tell anyone, but we sometimes have 10 cats in the house, all at the same time. They stand at the window and give us guilty looks. Or pleading looks. Or they shiver and look pitiful. Almost any look is good enough to entice one of us to take pity and open the door. Zoom! They’re all in. I generally have to defend my cereal bowl at breakfast. I’m not really complaining. I love them.)

So anyway, I went about doodling this afternoon, trying to come up with something that looked salable. Eh. I don’t know. My heart’s not into the made-to-order stuff. And I think my heart should be in it. If I’m going to draw, it ought to be for the sake of the art, not for the sake of the money. Otherwise, I’m probably going to make mediocre drawings.

Why don’t I apply that standard to my writing? I mean, I don’t love writing blog articles for healthcare staffing companies, but I just wrote one. I write for money. I think there’s something more practical about words than art. Words can certainly be artful, and if I’m going to write poetry, I’m going to write for the love of it, not for money. But if I’m going to write about leadership trends, then I do want to get paid. Does that make sense?

Somewhere along the line today, I remembered that I’m trying not to be ashamed of who I am. I am an artist and a writer. I am a home educator. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a Christian. Right at the moment, I am not earning much money. Does that make me feel ashamed? Not really. But I think it makes my husband ashamed. Or mad. But me… no. Look at all the things I am. Those are important things. And I do them. I have purpose.

It gets confusing, though, when my husband doesn’t see things the same way I do.

Prayers Please

I’m asking for prayers. I’m feeling a lot of pressure from my husband to get a job and put the kids in school. I do what I can with freelance writing at home, and I’m not a big spender, but these things aren’t really enough to fix our financial situation. My husband doesn’t seem to feel obligated to get a better job than his current milking position. He has alienated himself from our church and is not listening to those in church authority. I’m in a bad situation right now, and I need to make sure the kids are okay. It’s hard for me to know what to do.

Please pray for wisdom and insight for me. Pray for clear direction. Pray for the safety and well-being of our family. Thank you. I know the power of prayer, and I believe God will use them for good.

A Nice Start to the Christmas Season

I really enjoyed the busy, crafty atmosphere of being home with the kids today. My girls have been doing painting and crafting all afternoon. I now have a Pinterest app on my phone, which makes it super convenient to look up random ideas like, “Crafts using Old Christmas Cards” and “Fun Christmas Crafts.” The girls made a Christmassy paper plate fairy house today, and they began a rather ambitious project of making a banner by cutting triangles out of old Christmas cards. They also each made an ornament by cutting a Christmas card picture to fit inside a jar lid and then wrapping yarn around the outside of the lid. Very pretty! I’m glad I saved all those old Christmas cards.

Yesterday we made some Christmas cookies (sugar cookies with colored sugar on top), which we will bring to church on Sunday. It’s our turn for lunch. I made pumpkin bread this afternoon, and the house smells yummy.

I did nearly all of my shopping Monday night (Cyber Monday!), and I’m happy to get that accomplished.

I don’t usually get excited about the Christmas holiday, and I wouldn’t call myself excited now. Maybe pleased, or mildly jolly. 🙂 I wish you all some unplanned, low-stress Christmassy days as well!

Random Little Things I’m Thankful For

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to make a list of some random things that have been a blessing for me lately.

  • My middle daughter had an eye check-up and did not want me in the exam room, so I was blessed with some time in the waiting area to sip hot cocoa and watch one of those competitive house-buying TV shows.
  • I have a pumpkin pie in the oven. The most difficult part of baking a pie is getting it into the oven without moving the strips of aluminum foil around the edges (which keep the crust from burning). This time the transfer to the oven was a piece of … pie!
  • On a whim, the kids and I decided to check out our library’s kids’ game night. We had a great time! And the library director blessed us by lending us three games to take home for a whole month.
  • My kids love Thanksgiving. They really get me into the spirit:) We have this Happy Thanksgiving banner that we print out and color every year. I would have only done it once, but the kids make sure we do it every single year.
  • Homeschooling is so flexible. My sleeping patterns have been off a little (wide awake after the kids are in bed, and super sleepy in the mornings). Thankfully, the kids don’t mind starting school work later, and no one else cares either!
  • The delete button on my email is a blessing:) I’ve been getting so many Black Friday advertisements that would normally tempt me and stress me out (because I don’t care for Christmas shopping, but I know it has to be done). This year, I’m just deleting everything that looks like it’s going to want me to spend too much money. And I’m not feeling bad about that at all!

What random things are blessing you these days?

How to Find Selfless Joy in a Me-First World

Do you like to read the quotes that some authors use to begin their books or chapters? I do. In the humbling book, How to Find Selfless Joy in a Me-First World by Leslie Vernick (2003), the quotes beginning each chapter are insightful and often beautiful. I’d like to share them here.

It is vain, O men, that you seek within yourselves the cure for your miseries. All your insight only leads you to the knowledge that it is not in yourselves that you will discover the true and the good.
— Blaise Pascal

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
— Jim Elliot

So let us realize our limitations. We are something and we are not everything.
— Blaise Pascal

My sin is to look on my faults and be discouraged, or to look on my good and be puffed up.
— Puritan Prayer

The nothing believes itself something; and the All-Powerful makes himself nothing.
— Francois Fenelon

The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.
— Phillips Brooks

As long as you are proud you cannot know God.
— C.S. Lewis

For you can have no greater sign of a more confirmed pride, than when you think that you are humble enough.
— William Law

Honey, it’s not that I don’t love you. My problem is that I just love myself more.
— Robin Boisvert

Your purpose is not to be seen or known or loved or admired or praised. Your purpose is to see, know, love, admire, and praise God.
— Guigo

Recent Reads

Here are some good books I’ve read recently. First, books I read for myself.

  • Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson, 2018. It’s speculative fiction, and I liked it! It’s about Chinese and American politics, and still I liked it! It’s also about citizens traveling back and forth between the earth and moon, which is a neat concept. And it stars three really great characters, especially when they are together: Ta Shu – an old poet/cloud show host/feng shui expert, Qi Chan – a pregnant Chinese young woman who is a symbol for the billions of Chinese people, Fred – a shy, nerdy American quantum communications expert who has the misfortune to get caught up in a murder on the moon.
  • How to Find Selfless Joy in a Me-First World by Leslie Vernick, 2003. Leslie Vernick is the author who most seems to understand my situation. I like all books by her. This book is interesting because it isn’t like other Christian living books. It’s very Biblical, practical, and encouraging.

Now, books I’ve read aloud to the kids.

  • Blue Balliett books: Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game. Wow. Why haven’t I read these before? They are great. Adventure, art history, art adventure, detective work, passion for art, passion for learning, puzzle-solving, close friendships, parent-child relationships, cool illustrations, pentominoes, a girl who loves to write… these books were made for me. We’re actually in the middle of The Wright 3 now. (It’s about Frank Lloyd Wright, not the Wright Brothers.) We read them out of order. So far, The Calder Game is my favorite. Chasing Vermeer is just a little bit weird because of the references to Charles Fort, who was this (real-life) wacky guy who believed in weird supernatural stuff. But still… any book that inspires me to pull out my book of Vermeer’s paintings… it’s got to be good.
  • Gloria Whelan books: Angel on the Square and A Time to be Silent. Two very different books, but well worth it. We read A Time to be Silent in one day (it was a Sunday, and we had lots of time to read, and yes, my voice was hoarse by the end). Angel on the Square is about the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution, and it’s super interesting. A Time to be Silent is about a teenage girl who chooses not to talk, and her preacher-dad takes her along on his mission work in the North Woods (of Wisconsin, maybe?). Good stuff.
  • Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, 1916. This was a special request by all three children. I believe it is the fourth time I’ve read it aloud. It’s still wonderful.

A few picture books we’ve enjoyed recently.

  • William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by Bruce Coville, 2003. Shakespeare’s sticky situations can be so funny and complicated!
  • Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock, 2004. Cats and Thanksgiving! Perfect combo.
  • Fiona’s Lace by Patricia Polacco, 2014. I get to practice my Irish lilt:)
  • Because of Thursday by Patricia Polacco, 2016. Cats and food! Another perfect combo.
  • The Water Hole by Graeme Base, 2001. Search for all the hidden animals. We check this one out often.