The Art Making


When I have a chance to paint, it’s rare these days. Sometimes that backs up on me and I feel sad. I know, though, that one day my life will be much slower. I won’t have three kids to dominate all of my time and energy. It’ll be Joel and I, in an empty house, ready to take on the world. Then, I’ll be able to paint for hours on end and no one will interrupt. Unless Joel has an adventure planned, then I will gladly drop the brush and go!

My Tessa is closer to 7 than 6. I am not super proud of the last portrait I painted of her. I long for a weekend where she’s gone, and I redo the whole thing. In a frenzy of desire to paint, I knocked out this portrait of Tessa. The greens of the early spring are evident. Come April, the Green Canopy takes over our piece of the woods. Tessa gets tired of getting her picture taken, and then she runs. Her arms and legs are strong and lanky. I know she will be different from her sister in many ways.


Tessa is busy. She loves being physical and experiential, a lot like her brother. She has a a hilarious sense of humor and she snuggles so well. She loves our kitty, Natasha, but the kitty usually runs or growls when she’s around. Someday, the love between the two will be reciprocated.


I love where I live. It’s full of every kind of light, and every color. Much like the Impressionists, I work in a frenzy to capture the light and feeling. I was not expecting to do anything in particular with this piece, but now that it is a Tessa portrait, it’s mine.


Then, I took a piece that was a few years old, and I cropped it. What good is a big painting if no one likes it? So I cropped it, and made two paintings.



 These nuggets of Stockholm in the winter, are on my wall now. They shouldn’t be, they don’t match what is hanging next to them. So, someone needs to buy them! They are in my etsy shop.  They look good together, and also on their own!

I am working on some woodland creature paintings that will be ready for Christmas shopping.

Make someone’s Christmas merry!



There is this precious cottage down the street from my house. It’s abandoned. It’s been neglected. It’s stripped of all it’s valuable accents. We have always enjoyed it’s simple beauty.


Someone broke the glass door and went in. So, we went in because…well, we have been dying of curiosity.


The curved stairs with no railing.


The main hall with a vaulted ceiling.


The kitchen was gone.



The upstairs had these adorable doors and angles.


The roof is leaky, obviously.


But, oh, what a sweet gem. It will never be restored because it’s not historical. It’s not “Civil War” worthy.


So the owners took all the good stuff, and sold the beautiful shell.

This time of year, the huge gingko tree out front is blazing yellow. It’s such a fairy tale, but in reality, it’s a humble subject of a Buzzfeed article about “amazing abandoned places in Tennessee”. If that would ever exist.

I love that we live next to a battlefield. All the preserved wildness is haunting and never disappoints. It’s a refuge after days of hard work and no energy to drive, to walk through the canopy of trees to this place of wonder that never gets old. We play hide and seek and always find something interesting and lovely. It will be hard when the Feds actually decide to tear it down because it’s on a battlefield. History has levels of importance, but for now, this little place is all wonder.

Busy Monday


A word about Mondays. Mondays are dubbed Busy Mondays at my house. It is the only day I go to work, outside the home, all day, and someone else is in charge of my kids. I have to be prepared to teach about 40 students, from grade 3-12. Monday’s activities dominate about half of my weekend on average. This weekend it took a little more effort. Most Mondays, I come home pretty tired, but I still have some gumption to make a simple dinner for my family, clean up, and exercise. Not today though.

IMG_0176 IMG_0240

Daylight Savings Time sucks the life out of us today. We meet my in-laws at a restaurant and it’s almost dark. Eden doesn’t like her food and curls up in a ball in the booth. We are all tired. Once we are home, I do the few chores that I see around the house. Then I decide it’s time to talk to my husband.

The conversation, I thought, starts innocently enough. I am sure that there is something stressing him out. The conversation ends, two hours later, with less peace than it began with. We are so tired. All I wanted, was to connect away from the busy. Have a few more words than “hi” and “bye”. I worry we are losing our grasp on finding that touch stone. I feel I am needy and he is moody. I’m not at peace, he goes to bed.

So what do I do when I feel no peace, but I am also glad this conflict came to light? I have faith that tomorrow will have new mercies. I will pray for my husband and bless him, not complain to God. I will have faith that peace will come.



Hi everyone. It’s NaBloPoMo. I have been wanting to blog again, so I’m going to take on this challenge. Be prepared for, well, something.

It’s been over a year since I blogged last. Oh dear. It’s been a tough one. I am thankful for the mercies that have been given us. But, I have felt the struggle of sin and death in the world more this year that most. Social media doesn’t help. Things like Ebola, the shooting of reservists here in Chattanooga, marriages dissolving, cancer, surgeries, illnesses, accidents and disease. What is left, I am full of great anxiety about it all. I would love to say that I found a solution. A magic way to breathe through it. Maybe even a happy pill. Nope.

I will say that the Bible is the best, most life-giving, most honest, most soul-food ever. It is not a calming breath at the end of yoga. It’s not a happy pill that helps you sleep. It is the truth. The truth is not something that solves all your problems, but it is not transient or needing refills. It is there in the middle of the night. It is there when all we have is the eternal, it is there. So I have started a habit ever since this past winter when my anxiety level was through the roof. Bible verses on index cards. I carried them in my back pocket. I posted them on the IG. I’d stick them next to my bowl of cereal. I’d prop them up against the bathroom mirror. The Bible. Here’s a taste. See ya tomorrow.

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Arise and shine. #biblecards #isaiah #fall

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Food that my spirit needs #biblecards

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He loves you more

I want a do- over.  #mamaselfie #vscocam
There have been a lot of things I have had to do in my life lately. Many, many tasks that seem never ending and impossible to keep up with. All I want is for somebody to help me. But what does that help look like? I must admit, I shift back and forth between passive-agressive, super emotional lady, to flailing my arms around, shouting, insane lady. Neither one of these things get me any help. Go figure. The silent treatment, crying yelling, stomping off in a huff. It don’t work. What am I? On an episode of The Real World? (<–seriously clink on this link for a nostalgic laugh!)

Sometimes I take the high road and I keep working and I ask for help nicely, just like I tell my children to do. I do get help, but it never seems like quite enough. You see I’m looking for help that also acknowledges my struggle and pain. I’m looking for human beings to fill places inside of me that they can’t fill. It’s impossible.

We are all selfish, none of us can live for someone else the way Jesus did. I don’t care how long you have been married, or how romantic your husband is, or even how wonderful of a man he is, he will never love you the way you truly need to be loved. I have had way too many discussions with my husband about how I feel neglected sometimes over this past 15 years. These conversations, although they might have some benefit in the short term, are not the answer. My husband is a really good man, he treats me very well. He is an awesome Papa. He loves Jesus. I have nothing to complain about.

Papa's home. Time to play #mtnhome #JK #vscocam

Honestly ladies. Our men work all day, they feel unfulfilled in their work (many of them), they come home from being absent from us all day to the epicenter of stress in the home which is dinner time! I don’t want to complain to my husband as soon as he walks in the door. It might feel good to vent, but its also really mean! I want to bless my husband and give him a place of peace to come home to. But that, is a completely different blog post. 

Today, I just want to encourage a different way of thinking. All those empty places and longings, desires for your life to change, those will never be filled by people. Your loving Heavenly Father knows how to love you. Only Jesus who came for his bride knows how to truly fill your lonely places. When I feel empty, and WOW have I felt empty these past few months, I go and talk to the only person who really hears me. He gives me hope, He helps me keep running toward my goal. He reminds me that I am lovable and beautiful. That I am a blessing to the people around me. Only Jesus will do that. And, BTW, He is totally perfect and awesome.

So when I’m feeling needy, I like to turn on some worship music, put in my earbuds and remind myself how amazing my Savior is. It only takes a short while. Filling my ears and heart with worship to realize that I have a wonderful life. Jesus gave it to me. He loves me so well that He saved my life. He loves me so well that He gave me a good man for a husband. He gave me three beautiful children who I get to stay home and educate. And I am learning. He shows me that He gave me an important purpose. He is beginning to teach me how to rest even when I’m very busy and tired. He is showing me that He is my best friend. I have a lot to learn, and I have a lot of healing to do. There’s a lot of things I have stopped hoping for. I have stopped dreaming about things. I know that Jesus, my best friend, will teach me how to do that again. His world is so vast and His love is so big and His knowledge of me is so deep, that how could I not?!

Super Moon from Cravens #vscocam

Yesterday I was filled with sadness. I felt like a failure. I felt that others had failed me. I was mad. Things just weren’t turning out the way I wanted them to. I cried and cried. That deep weeping of complete exhaustion, frustration and helplessness. But you know what, I can’t always get what I want, but I can always have Jesus. He is making me less and less. It sucks. But you know what, if I have Jesus, I will have joy. My family will be blessed. And my sacrifice, is worship. 

I have also been reading a book (shocker!) by Dutch Sheets called The Power of Hope. It has been the kind of book that is food for the soul, but also the poison for self-pity. Even though the book focuses on your personal struggle, it just keeps bringing it back to Jesus. It’s hard to read sometimes when I want to be selfish. But it is a salve for my hurts and my weariness. Dutch wrote about how God knows what you need to hear, just when you need to hear it. 

And then today…

I was just reminded by a complete stranger on Instagram that I’m fighting a good fight. Homeschooling has been tough these first weeks, and she gave me that bit of hope.

“I am a homeschool grad and I want to encourage you that it’s been a tremendous gift to me from my parents! You can do it! #WayToGoMama”

How am I to deny this love? How am I to decide that I can’t keep going. I am so perfectly loved and cared for. I want all the answers, but I will trust and hope in the One who always gives me what I need. See what He has for you.

Back to school at @thecamphouse ! Same day different books #kinderfirst #almondmilklatte #vscocam



I am bored. I want so badly to have a conversation that doesn’t involve the well being of children and their thoughts. I want to be involved in a conversation that is about something else. Anything else. NPR doesn’t talk back, it just tells me bad news. Movies and TV are fiction. Text messages are vague and interrupt my rhythm. I want to talk to adults. 

I have a lot to do. I teach all day Monday. I have to be ready to do that which means “mom teacher” hat goes off and “art teacher” hat gets put on. And that happens only when my children have their school work done. That is Friday, when everyone is looking forward to the weekend, I get to do my other job. I have signed up to teach another class on Fridays. It is good. We need the money. I work from the moment I wake up until late skimming materials, packing bags, hole-punching things.

Maintain. Be on time. Prepare food. Buy food. Clean up after. Clean clothes. Fold clothes. Instruct children. Organize children’s books and work. Direct children to help with food, clothes, cleaning up after. Try not to get impatient. Stay composed.

Keep breathing. There are fires to put out. There are fears and anxieties. Breathe in, breathe out. One foot in front of the other. Do not worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble of it’s own. Be prepared to have everything stop, or go in reverse, or explode. Take in those moments when things are so good. Peace, calm, laughter, breakthrough, prayer. God times. Instagram it. 

Hope for the future. Things change. These children will grow. They will be gone. My time with the hustle-bustle will be over soon. It will be too quiet. The world is full of trouble. Violence, disease, war, hate. I feel the weight. Lord, we need you. He will come and make things new. I will reach out for opportunities and they will reach back. I will hold my husbands hand, and we will walk together. New places, new adventures.

New mercies every morning. Sunshine. Children’s faces, freckled and smooth. Hugs. Coffee. Morning. Strong body to do the work. Sharp eyes to see what is ahead. Love from those at arms reach, and beyond. They reach back. Anxieties disappear.

Run the race. Is my race important? What good am I doing, this Hermit of a Homeschooling Housewife? There is more I want. I want more than to live for the responsibility. I want to live to see joy never-ceasing. I want to run for expectation. Lord, make my heart expect great things.

Be thankful. Always something. Thank you, Lord, for the computer and wi-fi so I can get my blog-therapy.

I am blessed. So very, very, much. Time to shut up and rest in the blessing. 

If a Tree Falls in the Woods…

IMG_9451The kids and I went to the pool after Vacation Bible School one day. We got thundered out, and came down the driveway. There was a tree on our house. The kids all declared different things, “Mom! A Tree” “Mama? How do we get in the house?” ” What do we do?!”

And all I said was, “Well, we are not driving down the driveway!”




There was a tree on our house. The first thing we did was park at the top of the hill and walk down to the house, observing the wreckage all the way down. The kids were troubled, but I don’t think they were scared. I wasn’t scared. I walked into the house and breathed a sigh of sweet relief when I saw the tree had not pierced the ceiling of the house. But when Josiah saw that his window had a massive branch lodged in it, he started to tear up. Poor guy.

IMG_9454I told everyone to change out of their swimsuits, and I paced around wondering what to do first. Joel was out of town, in Canada. My parents (who are currently living in our cottage) were in the UK. It was just me. I was the only grown up in charge. Lord, help me. So I called my friend, Missy, who had a tree fall on her house a few years back. She said to call my insurance company, take a lot of pictures, and have the insurance company get us a really nice hotel room. I told the kids they could watch a movie, and I was on the phone for a while. Thankfully, we have very good electrical folks at EPB, and they came and fixed the downed power lines in less than an hour. I didn’t have to worry about everything in my parents fridge spoiling. I was watching them pull huge trucks down my driveway, and figure out where to put the cherry picker. I saw them get a chainsaw out all while trying to talk to the insurance guy and Joel. Joel was stunned, and apologetic for not being there*. When asked how big the tree was, having the EPB guys close by turned out to be useful, “At least 50ft tall, Ma’am”. I got off the phone just in time to have the friendly EPB guy tell me that I will not lose power at all, or wi-fi for that matter. I just about crumpled with joy. When the electrical lines to the cottage were repaired, they went to work on the wi-fi to the cottage. “You know it’s gonna start pouring in a minute” the electrical EPB worker said. “That’s OK,” the wi-fi guy said,”I brought my umbrella!” and he popped open an umbrella and stuck it in the holder on the side of the cherry picker. Great guys, yeah EPB! The insurance company told me they could find me a roofer to cover the area damaged by the tree, but I planned to call my connections first. I tried one person and got voicemail, then I called Ty. I didn’t expect him to answer, but he did,”Ty!” I was so relieved to hear a voice of a trusted friend! I almost started balling on the phone. Ty told me who he knew and trusted, and instead of giving me a bunch of numbers to call, he called them himself. Ty Willison, selfless and helpful. So thankful for trusted friends!



The guys from Live Right Construction were on the job. Caleb tarped the whole roof area. He took pictures of the damaged roof and got as much off the roof as he could without a chainsaw. It didn’t downpour anymore after the tree fell, but it sure felt good to have everything covered up well. We were dry, connected, and had plans for the rest of the week. The kids had VBS all week long, and that gave me three mornings to deal with the tree stuff.


Because my parents were out of the country, they did not have to got through the added stress of their power being out. Also, we sent Josiah up to sleep in their cottage after Joel got back from Toronto. He loved it. IMG_9482The guys came the next day and moved through that fallen tree with the strange beauty of chainsaw gymnastics. I took the kids to the pool again, and when we came home the kids said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if there was another tree on our house?” No, it would not be funny. I did have to keep the guy with the chainsaw from taking all my potential firewood.

And now, about a month later, we finally have a new window for Josiah’s room. A very new and shiny (expensive) window. We will replace gutters, and do some paint still. But I’m very thankful for how smoothly this went. God took good care of us, from start to middle and He will to the finish.

*oh, and the reason Joel felt especially bad for calling me during the tree fiasco was that he was staying in one of the nicest hotels in Toronto. He was eating at fabulous restaurants, and going to see amazing views of the city from the top of the CN center. He was watching the Yankees play the Blue Jays from his hotel bar window. Yeah, he felt really bad. I’m still waiting to make up for that.