Shift -ed

Towards the end of 2008, I felt anticipation, intuitively knowing that something was about to change. I found myself making concrete goals, taking affirmative action, becoming that artist I’ve been telling myself I am. My journal pages reflected this.

I do owe much of it to this book:

Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts

Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts

But something pushed me, prompted me to purchase the book. I have so many on my wish list. How did this one make it to my home? And I’ve only made it through the first chapter.

This book, the first chapter of this book, widely opened a door that had only been cracked just enough to peek through. Fear had been holding me back from opening the door, fear of rejection, of failure, of depression, of becoming overwhelmed, that I might find out I’m not really an artist after all. And what did I find on the other side of the door? Why my art studio and myself.

One of my favorite movies is Strictly Ballroom. I’m not sure if it is the ludicrous dress and hair, the animated characters, or the underlying theme of the movie that made me fall in love with it. I’ve adopted its motto:  “A Life Lived in Fear Is a Life Half Lived.” And it’s Biblical…

2 Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

After Christmas, the shift occurred. I have been Creative Every Day in an very active way, more so than ever before. Out of the blue I’ve received several requests for specific artwork or jewelry. I have a list of items I am working on and through. And when I get these projects done, there is more, so much more.

I am very excited about a specific project of which I’ll show you a glimpse:

There will be three 16×20 collage pieces in this series which I’m making for our church. I’ve decided to wait to reveal them until they are done and show more of a step by step process. Also I want the church to be the first to see the finished project.

So now I have a new dilemma. Between homeschooling, cooking, and working in my studio, blogging has taken a back seat. But I’m not too concerned. I’m sure with the ebb and flow of life that I will find my way back here more regularly. Until then, picture me with messy hair, a far-away look in my eyes, paint on my fingers, and passion in my heart.

amanda ∞

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the big draw day 5

Why was drawing the hand easier than the camera?

I had fun with the hand today, adding it to my sermon notes at church:

And some more sermon notes from last week:

I’ve been having fun tweeking my art blog. For those of you interested in the differences I’ve found between how Blogger functions as compared to WordPress, here is what I’ve experienced so far:

  • Blogger has MUCH fewer templates to choose from, but there is MUCH more freedom to adjust the templates to the blogger’s tastes.
  • WordPress has LOTS of very fun and professional looking templates available that can be adjusted somewhat.
  • WordPress has great perks like Blog Stats galore, and a view of comments I have made on other wordpress blogs and the responses that follow.
  • Blogger has made it extremely simply to add items on the sidebar, and to move the order of those items.
  • Blogger also allows a greater range of widgets and moving gadgets to be added to the sidebar.
  • Blogger has some fun options for Blogroll, like listing the times of the latest postings from the blogs on my Blogroll.
  • Adding favorite blogs to my Blogroll was extremely easy.
  • There is also the Follow option which views blogs I choose to follow in a Feed Reader type of format, but lists them in chronological order as my favorite bloggers post new entries. I also have the option to view these same blogs on Google Reader with the click of a button if I prefer that format.
  • WordPress has the wonderful Page option, so I can have tabs for pages at the top of my blog, more like a website.
  • WordPress allows viewing of all comments received on one page, making it easy to respond directly to the commenter.
  • Another great WordPress statistic is the list of Search Engine Terms. This can be quite entertaining.

Overall I have found Blogger to be much more user-friendly and -fun, and WordPress to be much more informational and professional. I am very comfortable with WordPress and can navigate easily, but it did take me much more time to set up and tweek than it did with Blogger. I’ve never had a problem with WordPress and have heard stories of difficulties with Blogger, so time will be the real test. I think in the end it will come down to personal preference, no real winner.

amanda ∞

Rest

My husband has just stepped off a 3 week whirlwind of work. With extremely long work days, and only one day each week to recover, he was exhausted when he reached the end. And so was I. Although I have only 2 children, and they are old enough to take care of themselves, 3 weeks without the support of my husband on a full time homeschooling schedule can wear me out both physically and emotionally.

We had already planned to take this week off of school, and it just so happens that my husband has most of the week off too! I look forward to much creativity, house cleaning, laundry, blogging, and spending time with my family (not necessarily in that order). The only event planned for the week is a Valentine Party at our home this Thursday. Our homeschool group is invited to come and make Valentines which we will take to a nursing home that afternoon. And my son has planned a Heroscape challenge with a couple friends this Saturday. I’m looking forward to this as well since the mothers of his friends are dear friends of mine.

This week I’m hoping to share with you some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head, and some new art. If you find nothing new here this week, that means I’ve been carried away by gypsies.

amanda ∞

Friends

My friend, Nita, at Red Tin Heart has lost her husband. John was paralyzed from an accident this past summer, and recently succumbed to a bone infection. His body could take no more. Please lift Nita and her children up in prayer.

I’ve been praying for John, and had been hopeful that he would be home with Nita soon. I can’t relate the depth of sadness felt for Nita. She has struggled for so long while John has been in the hospital and in therapy.

As I cried and grieved for my friend today, I was astounded by the depth of blogger relationships.

And when Julie brings her children home, I will rejoice for her just as deeply.

When Sandi’s daughter is sick, I pray.

I may never see you face to face, but many of you have become dear friends to me. I care about you more than even I realize sometimes. When I’m not blogging, I miss you and wonder how things are with you. What happens in your lives matters to me, yet if I walked past you, I wouldn’t even know. Perplexing.

Anyway, my grief for Nita has me loving and appreciating you all even more today. (((HUGS)))

amanda ∞

Winter


The trees are stark. All the earth takes on extremes of light or dark. Nothing is growing. All is still, silent. Outside. On the grey days, I long for Spring. When the sun shines, my whole body rejoices. Hope springs up within me. Why do I feel this surge of hope? Because I have tasted of spring and watched the earth come alive with new growth. Because my body needs the light, the sun.

Although Winter is not my favorite, I am so thankful to live in a region that has distinct seasons. As with all the lessons of nature, God reveals such wisdom through His seasons. As King Solomon once wrote, to every thing there is a a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (Ecclesiates 3:1).

My spiritual Winter was last November. The hope the Son gave me kept me looking forward to my Spring. That internal Spring has arrived. The crocus showed its head in December. Since then, everything is blooming and growing like mad. Although nothing unusual is happening in my life right now, I see such beauty all around. Methinks my garden will be full come Summer.

While pondering what has caused this spiritual Spring, I see the correlation between what I have declared precious to me, and the growth.

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

At the beginning of this new year, our family began reading the Bible together following the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan mentioned by my Pastor. God’s Word is permeating this family. I see the repercussions of this as my kids treat each other with grace and intentional kindness rather than bickering.

Another change we have all made this year is our focus on people rather than things, specifically the computer thing. We were all treating the computer as a pacifier to soothe us whenever we were bored or tired. Rather than turning to one another, we would retreat and sedate by playing computer games or (me) blogging extremely too much. Now when we are bored, we play a game together or find a project to work on. Since January 1, my son and husband have painted two rooms, re-stained the kitchen cabinets, and added trim board to several baseboards. Right now my son is doing all of my daughter’s chores so that she will have time to illustrate his comic book. (Can’t wait to show you the finished product.)

Although I’ve been blogging very little, I’ve actually been enjoying it so much more. It has become a nice add-on rather than a large part of me. And today at Blended Colors, I found this wonderful logo to add to my sidebar.
 =blogging without obligation

My prayer life has also changed. (I can feel the roots reaching deeper still.) God has burdened my heart to pray for so many people, some of which are out here in blogland. I got to meet one special little boy today who I’ve been fervently praying for. I find it amazing how God binds my heart to the people I pray for. As I looked into the sweet little face of Trey Evan today, I already loved him deeply.

Anyway, I find the contrast of the physical out-of-doors wintry freeziness, and my inner springy bloominess to be quite perplexing. Which is more real to me, the physical season or the spiritual one. I’d say the spiritual one without blinking if my toes weren’t so cold right now.

amanda ∞

Outward

After much prayer and seeking this past month, God has given me a verse for 2008:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I will run the race rather than running my computer.  

This is my year to focus Outward. My personality is one that is naturally introspective and introverted. This new focus will be unnatural to me, but this is a good thing. Nurturing and developing relationships is my direction. Although it is really quite easy and enjoyable for me to develop blogging relationships, my focus will be on family and friends that are physically in my life.

One of the greatest barriers I need to cross is using the phone. Chatting on the phone is not something that has ever come easily for me. I’d rather meet with someone face to face, but often I don’t see my friends because I don’t call and keep in contact.

To avoid overload, this new direction will be taken with small steps. If I make an effort to go outward at least once each day, this will be progress. My prayer is that God builds me up for His glory, and that one day this thinking will be natural for me.

I’ve also committed to teaching a Bible study at Veronica’s Voice. I’ve been putting this one off with the excuse that I just don’t have the time. After truly looking at how I was spending my time, I’ve realized that I have plenty for a Bible study once a week. I was procrastinating doing this because it is more difficult than being with my beloved friend, the computer.

I am excited for this year and look forward to the stretching that I will be doing. Although it may be much less of a priority, I will continue to blog. Not only do I grow by writing and sharing, I also find great hope and strength in the stories of others.

Are you making any changes this year? Going in new directions? I’d love to hear your story.

amanda ∞

New Year’s Resolution

New year resolutions, I am not one to set them, but have found myself pondering and praying about God’s directions for me. This fall I spent extremely too much time on the computer. I am sure I wasted days. This is not what God has prepared for me. Last spring, God began stripping responsibilities and duties from me to be available for His direction. Rather than praying and listening, I have been filling my “still time” with mindless computer time. Rather than playing games with my son or playing the piano, I have been pouring this beautiful gift of time down the drain. As a result, my family became less intimate this fall. As I sat staring at the computer screen, everyone else quickly learned to piddle away their time as well.  To guard this precious gift and to allow myself to live more fully as God directs, goals and disciplines must be set. I must choose to do these things.

  • I will not wander aimlessly on the internet.
  • I will not play computer games.
  • I will minimize Outlook so as not to be continually scanning for new emails.
  • I will continue to exercise regularly and will make an effort to add exercise time to my routine.
  • I will continue to focus on feeding my family nutritious food.
  • I will take my vitamins.
  • I will drink lots of water.
  • I will not drink alcohol.
  • I will monitor my coffee intake.
  • I will continue my daily Bible reading and will seek more time in God’s precious Word.
  • I will call, at minimum, one friend each week.
  • I will look for opportunities to be quiet with God throughout each day.
  • I will have conversations with each child individually each day.
  • I will frequently remind my husband to take me out.
  • I will pray for artistic inspiration.
  • I will do my best with household duties without comparing my life and choices to others.
  • I will be of good cheer.
  • I will give thanks.

I notice 3 distinct reasons for these goals as I list them. One is to guard my mind from becoming complacent; two, to keep my body (and my family) in good condition so that I am available; three, to build on relationships with family and friends and anyone God puts in my path. I do all of these things to develop a greater intimacy with my Father. Whenever one of these areas is lacking, I tend to loose touch with the One who created me.

So I suppose if I were to have a New Year’s Resolution, it would be: To let nothing hinder me in my passionate pursuit of a deeper relationship with my Father, not even myself.

amanda ∞