day 31::this is not the end

creativity is God’s gift to us.  using our creativity is our gift to God.  ~julia cameron

i’ve started and deleted this post at least five times…trying to think of some way to wrap up this series with some neat and tidy bow.  with as much time and energy i’ve put into this, it deserves a proper ending. 

IMG_8059_blog

but i think therein lies the problem.  because through the process of writing this series – the reading, the studying, the exploration – i feel like i have made a major personal breakthrough in my own creative life.  and so to slap a ‘the end’ on it…i don’t know…in many ways i feel like it’s only the beginning.

IMG_8069_blog

i would just like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for coming along on this journey with me. i know that this past 31 days has been a bit of a departure from my usual blog material.  i mean honestly, four years ago i was blogging about what color i was going to paint my nails…and now this.  glorifying God with my life?  making Art?  but i think that is exactly what this journey represents…the evolution of my Art. 

IMG_8066_blog

going forward, my hope is to continue practicing my Art, finding joy and inspiration in my ordinary life.  i have no idea what that will look like – i only know that faith and gratitude will be my guides. 

we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. ~hebrews 6:19

thank you again for sharing this space with me.  and for all of your kind words…for your support and encouragement… i am eternally grateful.

love, kelly

31-days-blog-button2thank you so much for joining me on my 31 day writing challenge. to see all of the posts in this series, please click here. and if you would like to receive future posts via email, you can subscribe here.
Posted in 31 days | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

day 30::letting the light shine in

the windows of my soul I throw wide open to the sun.
~john greenleaf whittier

it’s my favorite thing about our 100 year-0ld house.  i love all the paned-glass windows and french doors.  i love the light they let in.

IMG_6414_blog

the only downfall to having all these wonderful windows, is trying to keep them clean.  it’s a never-ending battle…especially if you have a couple of these rugrats running around with their messy beards, snotty snouts, and muddy paws.

IMG_8043_blog

but it goes with territory you know?  and i wouldn’t change it for anything.  so every so often (way less often than i probably should mind you), i’ll grab the windex and clean the windows on the back french doors.  the light shines in better through clean windows anyway.

this whole time writing this blog series, i’ve been reading various books about art.  and the one thing that has made the biggest impression one me, the one thing i hope that has translated into this series, is that art and life share the same source.  my art is how i express my belief that joy and inspiration can be found in my ordinary life.   if i am dissatisfied with my art for some reason, then there is probably something in my life that needs addressed.

i was and there was.

and sometimes to get to bottom of it, you gotta clean house.  and yes…i even did the windows.

the source of most of my anxiety are my two sidekicks, doubt and fear.  they have been with me from the beginning of my journey with my art.  sadly they are not nearly as cute and lovable as my two canine sidekicks.  in fact, their mission is to prevent me from pursuing and sharing my art.  but have learned to recognize them..i see them for who they are.

create in me a clean heart, o God, and renew a right spirit within me.  ~psalm 51:10

it’s good to clean the windows.   it’s good to let the light shine in.

IMG_8049_blog

31-days-blog-button2thank you so much for joining me on my 31 day writing challenge. to see all of the posts in this series, please click here. and if you would like to receive future posts via email, you can subscribe here.
Posted in 31 days | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

day 29::making a case for art

a camera is a tool for learning to see without a camera.  ~dorothea lange

i suppose it could have anything.  i threw a bunch of spaghetti against the wall….hoping that in the process, i would finally find ‘my thing’.  photography is what stuck.

it was in my darkest days, those first few months after kelsey left for college, that my camera helped me to find the light.  at first photography was my conscious effort, my affirmation, that even with my daughter away at school, there were still good things in life to be photographed.  the beauty and wonder of nature were my go-to subjects in those days.  a reminder to me of the goodness of Creation and the faithfulness of the Creator.

IMG_8015_blog

as i practiced my craft though, this is when i learned to really see.  beauty and wonder was everywhere.  not just in ‘pretty’ stuff like flowers…but also in things that, at first glance, might not be considered beautiful.  through the practice of photography, i saw beauty in my journey – especially the less than pretty parts. and i became keenly aware of God’s presence through it all.  profound gratitude became the lens through which i learned to see my life.

IMG_7991_blog

for the record, i would just like to add here, that i am a cradle-catholic.  a life-long christian brought up by faithful, christian parents.  before i took up photography, i felt as though i had a close walk with God.  my faith and my hope were (and still are) constant companions on my journey through this life.  through the practice of photography though…now i have profound gratitude…and so therefore, now i have joy.

sometimes i make the mistake of saying photography healed me.  because the truth is that it was God who healed me.  my camera was just the vehicle through which He delivered his Grace and his Light.

IMG_7981_blog

to send light into the darkness of men’s hearts–such is the duty of the artist. ~schumann

some days though….sometimes i wonder if maybe my time and energy would have been better spent going back to school to study epidemiology.  or middle eastern diplomacy. or finding a cure for cancer.  or addiction.  or any other sort of human affliction.  because sometimes…i don’t know….the darkness and suffering of this world….there are days when it’s almost more than i can bear.

IMG_8025_blog

but these are exactly the days when i need my art.  i need to be reminded of all that is good and beauty-full and wonder-full.  these are the days when look through the lens of gratitude to find joy even in the midst of my struggles and challenges.

yes….art saves.

IMG_8032_blog

don’t hide your light! let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father. matthew 5:16

the real beauty of art though is being able to share it.  to share the Light.  to pass it on.  no matter if it’s pedigreed and shared on a worldwide stage.  or if it’s humble and resides in a tiny corner of the blogosphere.  letting our light shine is our calling.

thank you from the very bottom of my heart for letting me share it with you.

31-days-blog-button2thank you so much for joining me on my 31 day writing challenge. to see all of the posts in this series, please click here. and if you would like to receive future posts via email, you can subscribe here.
Posted in 31 days | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

day 28::how i spend my days

how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.  ~annie dillard

“this one is my favorite,” tripp declared.  he was standing at the bathroom sink next to me wearing his soggy dollar t-shirt…the one he got during our family vacation in st. john a few years ago. 

i looked at him and smiled.  then asked him why that particular t-shirt, out of an overflowing drawer full of t-shirts, is the one he liked the most.  at which point he goes on to share with me that it is the perfect weight – not too heavy, not too thin… that it is super soft…and finally, that he likes the design on the back. 

he then goes on to tell me that every time he goes to his drawer to pick out t-shirts, it’s like looking at a scrapbook of all the places that he’s travelled. 

oh. my. heart.

i just looked at him and smiled again.  gave him a smooch on the cheek and told him that he was too cute.  and then i walked out of the bathroom and on to whatever task was at hand.

a couple of weeks later, i was standing over a laundry basket heaping with a kaleidoscope of cotton t-shirts.  one by one i took each one out, gave it a snap to shake out the wrinkles, laid it on the bed, smoothed it out, then folded it so that the design on the front was facing out.  because he likes to see the designs when he’s looking through through his drawer naturally.  and then i realized it…i was smiling. 

IMG_4718_365

people… i was SMILING while folding clothes.

i was smiling thinking about tripp and our conversation in the bathroom that day.  i was smiling thinking about his t-shirt scrapbook drawer and oh my God. i was feeling grateful for tripp, thankful for our good life.  and there it was bubbling up… joy.  right there in the middle of my laundry basket.

i don’t know about you, but that doesn’t happen to me very often.

celebrate the Sacred in the ordinary. ~sarah ban breathnach

IMG_7956_blog

i feel like i say this all the time, but i think it bears repeating…and that is, i lead an extremely ordinary life.  i go to work.  buy groceries.  fold clothes.  empty the litter box.  cook dinner.  these ordinary tasks…i suppose one could argue that there is little opportunity for inspiration and joy in the mundane routines of life.  but i am slowly starting to learn that this is not the case.

IMG_7955_blog

in her book, pursue the intentional life, jean fleming writes that it is indeed possible to make Art with our lives.  even an ordinary life like mine.  because this kind of life, with all its “various-sameness,” is actually “a scaffold of discipline and creativity.”  one part routines, tasks, and schedules…one part variety, light, and beauty.  and it is upon this scaffold that our lives take shape. 

IMG_7959_blog

looking at life this way makes it harder to bitch and whine so much about my household chores.  i need to quit complaining about how all this ordinary life stuff takes time away from my Art.  how my Art is suffering because of my ordinary life.

my ordinary life is my Art.

IMG_7968_blog

take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. ~romans 12:1

IMG_7965_blog

my ordinary life, my God-given creative spirit…they work together. when get it right, i glorify God…i make Art.  and when i am grateful, there is joy and inspiration.

31-days-blog-button2thank you so much for joining me on my 31 day writing challenge. to see all of the posts in this series, please click here. and if you would like to receive future posts via email, you can subscribe here.
Posted in 31 days | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

day 27::be careful what you wish for

      those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks. ~thomas goodwin

“maybe it would be nice to have a running buddy.”

that’s what i was thinking to myself a few years ago during my afternoon run.  i mean don’t get me wrong…i do so love me some solitude and quiet time.  but my girl was off to college and i was feeling a little lonesome.  and i thought it might be nice to have a friend to share this space of my life with.

IMG_7930_blog

so as i ran down the midland valley trail, i offered up my simple prayer to God.  in my mind’s eye i pictured a woman around my age.  i also suggested to God that, although i wouldn’t mind if she ran a little faster than me – a push might be nice – i would prefer she not be a super-fast runner.  oh and also that she wouldn’t get too offended if sometimes i didn’t really feel like talking.

God totally answered my prayer.  only it looks nothing like what i asked for.

IMG_7935_blog

my husband and i have been running together for the past year.

it’s crazy that i just wrote that.  no kidding.  for 20+ years of marriage, running was always solo activity.  and now after all this time, to be able to have this new thing together…well it’s just amazing.

IMG_7937_blog

i love how he pushes me, in the very best possible way.  i love how when i’m with him i can go on all different kinds of routes that i would not have gone by myself.  i love how with him we can run later into the year – even when it’s dark – and stave off the ‘dreadmill’ for a few more weeks.  i love how sometimes we talk the whole way,but that he doesn’t seem to mind if i don’t feel like talking.

well, except for the time i gave him the silent-treatment for 3.2 miles….but that’s another blog post for another day.

anyway, the reason i am telling you about this is because i think it’s interesting how God answers prayers.  i could never have imagined that one day i would be telling you about running with my husband.  never in a million years.  i mean i never even dreamed that could be a possibility, let alone ask God for that.  but you know God….He can be a real show-off sometimes.

IMG_7938_blog

so whatever kind of big dreams you have for your Art…don’t be afraid to ask God for it.  but i’ll warn you now…be careful what you ask for.  because God does hear our prayers.  He does answer our prayers.  only sometimes it’s not exactly the way we might have planned it.

IMG_6616_blog

it’s probably better than we could possibly imagine.

          the Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. ~lamentations 3:25

31-days-blog-button2thank you so much for joining me on my 31 day writing challenge. to see all of the posts in this series, please click here. and if you would like to receive future posts via email, you can subscribe here.
Posted in 31 days | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments