A Young Friend of Mine...How I Love This Girl!

If you get a moment, please visit my friend Christina, over on her blog, "Simplicity of Life".

She is such a go-getter, a girl who has fought battles both in her personal life, and for the Gospel.  The above link will take you to a short video clip.

Christina is slightly  hearing impaired, and yet she does not let that stop her from having major adventures, nor does she let that stop her from staking her entire claim on the Word of His Grace, which, as the apostle Paul said, "is able to save souls"...

I'm praying for her every day, this summer.  She's away on another adventure, and I couldn't be more proud of my young friend!

A Peek Inside the Sketchbook...

Practicing painting poppies on sketch paper, before braving The Canvas...

This is what happens when you ( I ) paint at night.  In artificial, overhead, dim light.  I was going for orangey-red, and ended up with pinkish orangey red.  How the..??

I could have sworn there was no pink on my paint palette, which in this case was a sheet of waxed paper, since this was meant to be kind of a creative Brain Dump, and not a "real" painting.  There.  Was.  No.  Pink...anywhere.  There were two shades of green, some red, some orange, some yellow, some "lamp black"...no pink.  I am betting that, somehow, a dab of the titanium white, which I used with a pinprick of yellow to achieve a softer green (are you following me?), sneaked over and mated with some of the crimson.

My take-away?  Never seriously paint in anything but bright natural light.

Or buy an expensive Ott floor light.  (Lots of paint-by-nighters swear by them...)

Problem is, I am a paint-by-nighter.  My Muse loves sunset.  Well, my Muse can be a workhorse and a driver, and once she gets me going earlier in the morning or day, she doesn't want to quit just because the pretty light has sunk in the western sky.

Good thing this was just practice, on sketch paper...

I Can't Believe It

We are done.  My home education career - 20+ years - is officially over.  And I found myself approaching the occasion as the full, whole, wealthy woman I dreamed of being 20+ years ago.

Against all odds.

And by Grace Alone.

Oh, by grace alone!

One set of home schooling parents actually said, tonight, (and I'll call them "the Williams" - names changed to protect the not-so-innocent legalists) "Our daughter Matilda is number five of eight.  We've graduated four before her, and we now have 5 to prove that the Williams System works."

I sat in total consternation.  I know my whole face was, like, "Oh no you di'in't.  You DID NOT just say that in my presence."

The "system" works??   No.  No, a thousand times, no.  There isn't a system of child-rearing out there that churns and turns out reliable results, every time.  Systems do not lovers of God make.

Systems rob God of the glory that belongs to Him Alone.  I almost stood up, in Holy Ghost Authority, to set the record straight.

Not really.  Of course, God doesn't need my defense of His grace and glory.

But He so deserves every speck of credit.  I am certain, in that moment, that my eyes burned with the flame that is shut up in my bones...a heart that burns with a desire to see the Finished Work of Christ proclaimed.  The Preacher and I dared not make eye contact.  I am absolutely certain that, had we made eye contact, one of us would have given the other the "go ahead"....and one or the other of us would have gone to preachin', right then and there.  

On a lighter note....I came home to a surprise family party.  My four adult children gave me the most amazing gift...I walked through my door, weary but happy, and there were candles lit all over the house, James Taylor playing on the Bose system, cake, and presents...and more presents...

Most special of all, there were the letters and cards, thanking me.  For.  Real.  Each and every son and daughter took the time to write out their love and thanks.  I dissolved into a complete flood of tears.

Has it been easy?  Nope.

You.  Have.  No.  Idea.

Has it been worth it?  Yes.  A thousand times, yes.

Would I do it all again?  Ask me in a few years.

What is next?  I don't know.  

That is partly why this blog exists!  I'm making it up as I go, and I don't care to say so.  Transparent honesty is my gift (or so I was told this evening).  Come with me, as I explore all the happy possibilities that middle age, ministry, grandmothering, and a for-now- full (but eventually-to-be-empty) nest can bring!

Thoughts on Graduation Eve - Last One

Here I sit...propped up on pillows, wanting to talk to all of you.  It is going on 11 o'clock and I am beyond the point of exhaustion.  When I stand up, my kneecaps shake.  This night, somehow, feels like the end of  20 years of hard work.

We are through the rehearsal part of our home school high school graduation - tomorrow is the Real Thing.

No one can know what it took to get here.  Truly.  You can't know.

Tonight, after taking me out to dinner (once rehearsal was over) the Preacher and I were riding and talking...reflecting on the journey, reflecting on this Epic Graduation of our youngest.  In basketball terms, it doesn't feel like a "blow out win".  It feels like we squeaked out with a two-point, one basket win.  It feels like we could have....perhaps should have....lost.

But we smiled, and took each other's hand, and said, just like we've said after many basketball games the last few years:

A win is a win.

It was ugly.  It was messy.  This "win" might even be messy, right up to the final seconds.  (Isaac swears that he will not wear a tie - mandatory Home Education Association graduation dress code for our area.  But I have no room to talk.  I am planning on wearing my linen dress pants, instead of the "mandatory" dress or skirt that the powers that be told us we must wear tomorrow...and I wonder where my son gets his penchant for ignoring stupid rules.)

No Valedictorian speech, no sparkling ACT scores.  In fact, he qualifies for college by the skin of his teeth.   This child was the one who would have been labeled and medicated in public school.  The fact that we made it this far is amazing. He was more work than the other three put together, in every way - academically, emotionally, socially, spiritually.

This is a win that has been barely pulled out, and in the "final moments" of the game, no less.  The playing, from the beginning of this game to the end of it, has not been pretty.  All members of the team could have done better.  The coaches could have coached better.  The player could have played better.

In short, nothing about it has been perfect.  Fans will leave shaking their heads, wondering, "How did they win??!"

But when all is said and done, I can say I did my best.  There were more days I did my best, than there were days I didn't do my best.  I did my best...on most days.  Can more than that be done, really?

I can't even say there were more good days than bad.  Not with this boy.

That's the part of home education no one talks about.  Some academic years have more dark days than sunny ones. Some children, from kindergarten through graduation, encounter more hard days than happy days.  No one wants to talk about that.  However, you know me.  The Gospel has made me so free, I can tell the truth.

I did what God called me to do.

The Preacher and I pulled out the Messy Win.

But a win is a win.

And when I look back, many years from now, there will simply be a "4" in the wins column - and a "0" in the losses column.  Four wins.  No losses.  I didn't give up.  I didn't quit.  I didn't quit, maybe even when common sense said I should have.

That will be what matters to me.

I've Gone Emo...

I've gone Emo.

Real Tears.  I've completely cried off what little makeup I put on this morning. And I thought that the distraction of taking my own picture would make it stop.  Nope.

It is the week of my youngest son's high school graduation.

And I've gone Emo.

God, help me.

I may as well give in and wear the skinny jeans with the canvas sneakers, paint my fingernails black, and experiment with my hair color, because I am way too in touch with my emotions this week.

I defy you to graduate your youngest from your home school, listen to country music whilst running Graduation Errands, and not cry your butt off.

Pray for me, friends.  I am truly afraid of what I might be capable of, this Saturday evening at 6 o'clock, as The Preacher and I walk across the stage to meet our youngest, and hand him his diploma.

What if I sob?

What if I have to exit stage left, crawling on my hands and knees?

What if I decide to sell Amway?

What if I move to Post-Yuppie Farm Road,  and start killing my own cows and milking Nubian goats?

Nah.  I'd rather get a nose piercing.

Help me, Rhonda.  God, grant me the serenity.  And get me through this weekend.

More Pictures - New "Studio"

Someday, I won't have to put quotes around the words "studio".

But for now, I will gladly trade having a whole room to myself, for this:

Little Britches, helping his PopPop set up Mimi's "studio"...

You tell me...is having a "room", quote unquote, better than having a "studio", quote unquote, AND getting to enjoy this sight, each and every day?  Nah.  I didn't think it was better, either.  Hey...when this season is over, it is over.  Justin and Hannah are very close to the moving out phase - they are house searching weekly.  And once they are gone, I am sure I will be plastering pictures of a whole, new, big, beautiful REAL studio, no quotes involved.  But for now I'm sloppy blessed.  Wouldn't trade this for a "room".

So we went from what you see up there, to this...

 I am the Queen of Making It Work.
This is my "studio", quotes gladly added...
one wall...in my room.

 Inspiration wall...

 ribbons and embroidery...

some of my paints...actually, a very few of my paints....

 Stuff n' things...

 ...more paints...

...more inspiration...not the least of which is a young friend of mine, Christina Damron, for whom I will be praying this summer, as she embarks on Amazing Adventures in the Gospel...as a photographer!
(You can follow her adventures via her blog, "Simplicity".  The link is to your right, under Harvest Blogs)

 ...what was accomplished today...
not done yet, but almost!

 I.  Am.  Loved.

...and so are you...

Thanks for coming over to my "studio".  I'm beyond excited about it, and I appreciate that you took the time to come and see!

My New Studio

Here is what I've been working on today.

Forgive the shadow-y picture, I just now (as in this minute) shot it with my phone, and it is nearly 11 PM.  There is no way I'm breaking out the Big Girl Camera at the moment.  I'm just too tired.

I'm in the process of moving my "studio" out of my dining room, and into my bedroom.  You are looking at my Mother's Day gift from The Preacher.  New desk and easel!  And I used a gift card from my youngest son to get the cool shelf that you see...with metal bins for paints and rod upon which I hung up all my ribbons and clipped up some of my fabric samples and embroidery.

To the left of that, you see my $6 find from today!  A metal thingey.  I put a wooden dowel through one part of it, to hang my burlap (used for a cool backing on my small 5x5 canvases) and also my kraft paper (backing for canvases larger than 5x5).  Then you see a really large canvas that scares me, so I haven't faced it yet.  Then you see some upholstery fabric.  Oh, and a small stool that will keep my tiny netbook (upon which I am now typing away) visible but safe from water and paint and matte medium - where I can access it while working.

I've even already started a new Inspiration Wall.  There are several pictures torn from various magazines and taped to the wall behind my easel.  That wall will fill up soon, I am sure.

More pictures tomorrow.  I am worn out, but happy!  My Inner Muse is producing and the mojo was full-on today!

"Never forget that the nurturing and preservation of your own muse is job one. Lose it and you may be losing a great deal."

-Robert Genn