My Story Matters {...and so does yours...}

I’m a grandmother now.  A Mimi, to be precise.  Before I know it, this one (in the picture below) will get married and have her first baby, and I will be a great-grandmother.  

I’m old enough today, to be carrying several versions of myself inside me, like Russian dolls. 

I'll be 50 years old this November.  Turning 50 is like having my 21-year-old self still inside me - the one who had just given birth to identical twin girls and who consequently never slept my 21st year.  I have inside me the 31-year-old version of myself - the one who was a pastor’s wife, who made Sloppy Joe lentils for her family, and ate everything whole food and low fat. 

I even have the 41-year-old Sheila still inside me, now.  The one who was trying to raise children who would live right and have no regrets - the 41-year-old momma who home educated all four, who had run hard and long and who had her finish line in sight,  whose job was almost done, and whose heart was on the cusp of being shattered in a million pieces.

Boyhood goes from this... this...

From this... this...

I suspected, but didn't know for sure when I was 41, that the "boys of summer" were about to be gone forever.  Boyhood innocence sometimes vanishes
in ways we hoped it wouldn't.

Children grow up.  They all do.  

Yeah.  I was a "basketball mom".  Whose son was headed for university.

If I'd known then, on that very day right up there, if I'd known then what I know now...

...I would still have done it.  All of it.

The overall story of my life has one theme:

The supremacy of Christ in all of life.  

Christ in my life as a teenage girl who overcame being told by classmates grade after grade, year after year that she was ugly, but who placed third in the Junior Miss Pageant - and scored the top score of all contestants in a category called poise and appearance.  

Christ the source of joy as a young bride - when I found out that married love was profound and beautiful, but Jesus was even better.  

Christ, the giver of peace when my nest suddenly emptied as two beautiful capable daughters married Godly men (see here and here and here), 

and two sons went temporarily AWOL, becoming prodigals…and I coped with feeling like the enemy of my soul had won.  

Christ, my all-in-all as a grandmother whose first grandchild, a boy named after my husband, lived with us for almost three years, along with his parents, while his momma  and daddy saved up for a house.  A house that, little did we know, would be the house next door.   

Christ, the giver of grace upon grace upon grace as my other twin daughter and her husband bought the other house next door, and two of my granddaughters moved all their pink tiaras and dolls and shiny shoes into those rooms.

Christ, who redeems every situation, as my oldest son became a first-time dad...

My story is His story. My life has but one context: the sacred-beautiful transforming power of grace, as found in the Gospel of the finished work of Christ.

All my stories find their significance in the One story of who God is. So tell your stories, too. My stories are not about me. Sure, I am the main character in my life story, that's how God made things to be, but the story itself is a manifesto of Him who made me.

What have you been a witness of? Bear witness, sister! 

Bearing witness isn't always quoting scripture. It is the telling of story. We....WE are His letters, His workmanship.

A Free Art Tutorial { VERY FIRST "talk-to-you-while-I-work" video!}

(next in my sketchbook series "A More Beautiful Question".  This one is entitled "What Are You Waiting For?")

This may be my last free art video for awhile.

I say it is the last, at least for now, because the time has come for me to choose a platform (something very simple, as I am not looking to form my own social community - I ultimately want my work to focus on the making of art, not the editing of video or the management of a large website) and start filming a paid class.

 The real question is how to pick, from all the ideas I have in my head, what should be my first - very own - paid art class? I have ideas ranging from...

 ...nevermind. I think I have my very first copycat out there (no - it isn't you) and so my business mentors teach me to keep a little more to myself than I have before. My tendency is to share in detail, and that isn't always necessary or beneficial.

Suffice it to say that my teaching style tends to blend art instruction with Bible teaching with stand up comedy....(it's the alcohol...just kidding!)   In short, anything can and usually does happen when I strap on a mic.

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at last night's shoot:

I'm nothing if not cutting-edge, as you can see.

Above, you see those drawers you'll hear open/close/open/close all throughout the tutorial.

To say that I'm visually inspired might be an understatement.  And I can't wait to finish re-decorating this entire studio.  The blue walls are about to get a one-way-ticket to...

...nevermind.  I'm not going to say what I'm thinking.

Above is the easel that, in the video, I promised you a picture of.  All that yummy dried paint.  I can't throw it away.

So here's my last free video offering for a little while.  I apologize ahead of time because this video is well over an hour.  For your convenience, I chose to divide it into seven parts.

I realize it is a lot of information.  A long lesson.  But when I filmed this last night...

(I know.  The worst time to shoot video.  But The Preacher was at the church late, I had the house to myself, and I'm alone far less than you might think.  I can't get all my imaginary friends to go home.)

...I decided I was going for it.  I decided I was going to put my very first "talk while I work" video out into the world.

Yeah.  This is the first time I talk to all of you while I work.  (I told you I can't get my imaginary friends to leave.  What were y'all doing still in my studio at 10 PM last night?!)  And consequently, I made up my mind that I was going to stick with this, forge through, power through, and, as Seth Godin says, "SHIP."  Even if the resulting image was crap.

(I'll leave it for you to decide, as to the finished image...but you may not make fun of my accent...)



For the Love of My Scruffy Little City {....Knoxville, TN}

Lately, I've had a desire to sketch and paint local, urban subject matter.  In the past, every time The Preacher and I took a Monday Funday day-or-half-day off, we'd take a trip to the Smokies.  He'd haul his huge Nikon, and I'd drag along my portable studio...(an art bag filled with "just the essentials".  Only - the essentials keep multiplying.  hashtag Ihaveanaddictiontoartsupplies.)

After years of this personal art practice, after years of taking off on the occasional but pretty consistent Monday (I wish it was every Monday) I now have whole sketch books full of mountain and meadow scenes.

And suddenly, this week, I told The Preacher I want to tackle my town.

So we went and shot Knoxville all up this evening.  Since sunrise or sunset or overcast are really the only times sane photogs shoot, we checked our local weather and saw that today or tomorrow would be peak time, this week.

Tip:  You can only get to so many places during said peak time, when the light is luscious.  We will have to do this again.  And again.  Looks like my Mondays are all planned out for the foreseeable future.

You know I hate that.  Especially when it involves dinner out.

 (today's menu)

 (bathroom selfie - because you can't not.)

Disclaimer:  every shot here was taken with my iPhone 6 - not my big girl camera.  I just wanted shots for sketches and paintings today - The Preacher took the "real" photographs.

My town used to be called the "Scruffy Little City" a few generations ago.  Today, it is beginning to rival Nashville when it comes to music and art.

My town has the iconic:

...and the weirdly iconic:

And if you watch closely, especially on any foreseeable Monday, you might see a preacher shooting up the city, all dressed in Volunteer Orange:

(His wife will probably be in a random bathroom, taking a selfie.  Don't watch for her.)

This scene stopped me in my tracks, quite literally.  Not the one above, of the cute preacher shooting the town - the one below.

The Preacher kept walking darn near a block before he realized he had lost me to this:

Isn't that dreamy?  Now I have to go back and eat there.  Right there.  Nothing less will do.

The Preacher had to screech to a halt, and then sigh while making a U-turn on a sketchy side street, because I begged to be able to grab this shot out the truck passenger side window:

Stay tuned this upcoming Monday...

I will be out of the house and roaming my city.