Coloring in the lines

The other day I was talking to a friend who frequently spends time with my three and a half year old daughter in a group setting. She remarked that Clara “marches to her own beat,” and that she is a “free spirit.” Now, I know every mother has her own things that make her beam with pride, but hearing these observations was music to this mother’s ears.

Yesterday evening my husband was watching Clara color. He later asked me, “Do you think you should teach her how to color in the lines?”

This is a question I have asked myself more than once. I have even half-heartedly suggested to my Little Spark that maybe she should try staying in the lines. Those words tasted bitter as they escaped my lips, lips with a history of singing their own tunes.

I’m sure throughout her life my girl will be told, in one way or another, to stay in the lines. I know she will receive this message many times from many people. I hope I will never again be one to dissuade her from veering toward the beautifully unexpected.

I hope that what she will find in my guidance is courage to embrace the gifts given to her, hope that her gifts will be recognized and embraced, and patience with her own heart when she is neither recognized nor embraced.

Because why would I want to change something this amazing?

Categories: Art, Excosmopolitan Theme, Family, Motherhood | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Old Letter Two- On Icons

So this letter was written just after the one I shared with you in my last post and also written in response to my friend’s response to it. This one gets “a little out there,” my claim to fame=).

“Yes, you are right mysticism is definitely not the correct word for what we are talking about. I was thinking along the lines of intuition, gut feelings, and dreams. I think God gives you these things and people either don’t trust God or don’t trust themselves to acknowledge these things or they simply don’t hear them because they have their iPod in! I think I meant that the world is so deep, so rich, and that in some ways things are more than they seem. God or His angels are always about waiting, shining, watching, protecting, leading. There is more going on than we notice- like spiritual warfare. And it’s the difference between gasping for a single, predictable, breath, or taking long, deliberate inhales- breathing in richly every blessing and exhaling the demons.

 I’ve gone crazy! Finally! Maybe I’ll become a mad artist after all. Or a farmer. I have a great interest in farming and connecting with the land and purity and authenticity now. So maybe I’ll start with a garden and a brushstroke.

 I started reading a book on icons about two years ago. Never finished it, but what I read was interesting. It was talking about how to approach the icons and speak to them and let their painted eyes bore into your soul, er……..something like that. Orthodox mysticism is beautiful in its own right, the churches, the incense. But there is something trapped inside of those gilded, Greek-cross walls that is less than soothing to the soul. I’m not sure I believe it is evil but more of a great collective sadness. That somehow those mysteriously painted eyes, gold alters, and seductive smoke spirals that waft from swinging brass incense holders all seem like they have been trying to conceal some great secret for so long that the truth they once possibly protected has vaporized and traveled to a less severe environment. The icons want to cry out to the people and tell them that God is no longer there but they cannot shed a single tear because, they are, after all wood and resin and pigment.

 These elemental treasures remain, inanimate, brooding in their own splendor and wishing they could remember the only name that could bring them true redemption. If they could just recall the name of Jesus it would set their golden, jewel-studded cells into flames and bring them back to dust and ash. Maybe then their purged remains could float to Heaven on the breath of God that careens over, under, and through His mighty creation where His Spirit is today, as it has always been, unbound by polished rock and sculpted metal. Wild and essentially free. The Most High God is continually moving throughout time and place in pursuit of liberating His children from certain and eternal death.

 Sorry, you know I get caught up in expressing things sometimes. What I meant by the tangent was that maybe at sometime in history orthodoxy held some semblance of purity. But, knowing what I know about God, I don’t see Him abiding in a place of such secrecy or just plain confusion. I see Him as man-Jesus_ walking through fields and gardens-speaking to men-loving people. I see Him today in the world as an all- powerful force and being that is timeless enough and pertinent enough to reach you wherever you are. Whether he woos you into conversation with Him as you smell fresh cut grass on a morning jog or comforts you as you silently sing Him praises under fluorescent supermarket lights.

Okay- Have no idea what I as talking about or if it will still ring true tomorrow. Fun though.


 I love finding this stuff! So, the reason I became interested in icons in the first place and even attempted reading a book on them was because of the brief experiences I had in Belarus seeing real people interact with these beautiful, strange, often solemn little paintings of Christ and various saints. I was fascinated by the familiarity I saw people approach these icons with and also saddened by the needful fervor with which they were addressed.  Add in the art history classes/interest and there’s your explanation.

Would love to hear some creative and inspired feedback on this one or the previous=)


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Old Letter

I am so amazed by the things God hides in my heart that I don’t let go of. Here is a letter written to a friend about four years ago mentioning “excosmopolitan!”  I was stoked (that one’s for you babe) to find it today! This letter also shows some of the struggles I had living in Mexico- don’t let it fool you- I loved the place, must have been having a rough time of it when this was written though.

“ So when we stay close to home I can imagine it’s exotic and beautiful, however go to where the cobblestone ends and the madness begins and Mexico is less than ideal. This is a huge city. We take busses to get everywhere and they are annoying, crowded, and smelly. The city is incredibly polluted, so Aaron struggles with his allergies especially now during the dry season when it is so dusty. In fact, it’s SO dusty that you must wear sunglasses all the time, even when it isn’t sunny (it’s almost always sunny though, which is something I really like) so the dust doesn’t blow into your eyes! The rainy season will begin in June and then it’s thunderstorms and torrential downpours every night. The streets flood when it rains and the water pools- sometimes to cross the street you have to walk way out of your way or through quite deep and yuck-o water.

 I struggle here because teaching is not my heart. Being a wife, a mom, an artist, and physical activity is what I love. So sometimes I feel like I am not doing my real purpose, but I do know that this is where God wants me now.

 I don’t paint much………… I wish I did. I am at a new point where for the first time in my life I am not confident in my artistic abilities at all. I feel a little lost. I don’t want to just paint pretty pictures. I want to create something real and meaningful.Sometimes I think the whole concept of being an artist is so egotistical and I need to get over myself and let it go and just work hard and enjoy the little things in life (Ecclesiastes on the mind). On the surface I want to be an artist to make at least some money so I can be “free” of a normal job, the have recognition, to be great, to be remembered. None of these are good reasons. The REAL reason I create is because I AM an artist whether I like it or not. I can chose not to paint but it will make me miserable. God created me to create for His glory and I want to do that, but fleshing that out is an enigma right now.

 I have moments of great inspiration frequently. Ideas are not the issue, it’s the manifestation of them. The look, the paint, the reality.  What will this “excosmopolitan” appear as? How can this idea appear in a show in Baghdad  or Jerusalem? Can it promote peace? Can it show human frailty and divine redemption? Can it ring true as a teacher in this modern age? What color? What symbol? What style? And the scariest question of all, Can I DO it?

 No. But God can. I feel I am not yet strong enough in Him for Him to trust me with such a thing………

N E ways. That’s where I am now. Tormented by my mind many waking hours and soothed by the shadows the sun casts as it trickles through bugambilia flowers. Comforted by warm, though dusty, breezes. Inspired by whispers I think I imagine riding into Las Fuentes on the colors of the evening sunset.

 So dear friend! Thank you for asking and for listening. Life really is to great and beautiful to bear on your own, is it not?

What place do you think mysticism has in Christianity? That’s a thinker. I was asked this recently and am thinking about it. I don’t think they meant “mysticism” as we think with the strong new-age connotations of the word. I think they just meant listening for God’s voice and seeing Him and His signs that are all around us. Not taking anything for granted, but as having come directly from the hand of God.

You know, His still small voice…………. At least it could make for an interesting writing topic.

 With Love.”

 So cool right??? I love to see, even better get a firm piece of evidence- for remembrance- that reminds me of how deliberately I have been led by the hand of God all along and that yes- He is working all things together for the good. Amen!

Categories: Art, Excosmopolitan Theme, Travel Writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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