Seen & Heard: A Year of Grace & Stashing Treasures

There are so many things that happened in this past year that can’t be spoken about yet. The situations are too fresh, too near, so – unresolved. These things can be wrestled with, spoken about, cried over, before God in prayer. I think that’s the way He plans it. Quiet dependence on Him.

January

18120This year was definitely a lesson in dependence and 30 days into it, I was already Arguing with the Almighty.  My family dynamic had changed, the neat and tidy had been thrown off and I was struggling to line all my ducks up in a row again. I never did get those ducks lined up, but I learned a lot through that trial/blessing.

T&J

February
The stress of 2013, the decisions to be made, huge, greater than us, philosophical, moral, life-altering decisions had to be decided and we didn’t always see eye to eye. February 14 rolls around and a day that’s supposed to be full of love – wasn’t. Learning to live out Marriage in the Trenches was difficult, 2013 marks our hardest year of marriage so far.

March
FAMILYWORSHIPBy this time, we had started to gain our bearings a bit. Books certainly have an impact on me and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together made huge impact in how I view community and family life.  Out of it came the Family Worship Experiment, a practice that didn’t stick, due to life schedules, but was fruitful in the trying and I suspect will surface again.

April
Some time in April, I joined a book club. I’ve never been in a book club before, this one was good for me, until I made the mistake of reading someone else’s blog post on a chapter before I read it. It was talking about making furniture out of leather. That was more than I could bear, I’ve made unblogged progress in this book, but sadly, it is on the 2013 unfinished books list. I’ll finish it, I will, it’s too good not to.

Mayjojo
I was still reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking in May, blogging through chapters 3 & 4, who knew there was a Hidden Art of Doodling Prayer? This really was a good exercise for me, blogging through that book, maybe I’ll pick it up in 2014.  A better picture of what has had an impact on my own life and more specifically in 2013 is the post Child-rearing: It Takes Community. A special thank you to those very important adults who have impacted and poured into my children.

When your child hits a wall and turns their ears from you, when there is no way to get in, get through, make way. Then, friendship steps in, community steps in, life on life daily living kicks it up a notch and makes paths where the brush and weeds and thorns were too thick to pass through.

June
wpid-2013-06-11-16.56.08.pngAre you tired yet? It was tiring to live this year! We celebrated 15 years of marriage in June, moved in June, our hearts broke in June, I can only pray that in time God will restore and heal all broken things. So Life Goes On…

So I take my boxes and those dear to me and I venture out with all the exhilaration and hope that comes with new life. A fresh start. With all confidence in the One who has been faithful, and will be faithful again, I smile.

I embrace the future.

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In July the struggled continued. 2013 was a year of changes and rediscovering who we were. It was as if the rug was pulled out from under us and we just couldn’t gain a steady footing. These two posts this month are very dear to me. One was the passing of a dear girl Amanda Wright and the other was regular life with kids, but as I look back now I see that we were making specific and pivotal decisions during this time that we’re reaping the blessings from now. God does that, He takes you through the pain to bring you to the joy, sometimes it just takes time.

August
I was studying for our Women’s Conference in August and I had biblical womanhood on my mind in The Old Worn Soapbox.  Being on the other side, I find myself tired of talking about this. We’ve gone through the teaching stage for now, it’s time to start living some of these things. I’ve been praying about how to provide opportunities for women to live out their call  in the body. We’ve made progress, God’s not done with this yet.

September
wpid-20130906_151341.jpgGuess What? In September, I posted my first Seen & Heard post. They’ve come to be my favorite, I love to act silly and say whatever I want in them. Sometimes I have too much to say because something has gotten me all fired up, but mostly I try to keep them light and funny and not LONG like this one. I also began blogging through The Church Planter’s Wife, a book that has been good for me, another book not completed in 2013. (Grace, Grace!)

October
I began blogging twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays in October. Yeah, I know, it’s a lot of Julee in a week. I have to live with me all the time so just be glad you can close your browser and walk away.  There were funny moments of Identity Crisis, moments where God spoke in A Still Small Voice, just reading books with the kids in Wrapped up in Rhymes, there were even battles over Halloween. The instance that had the greatest impact on me and greatest response from women was A Call to Connect where I discovered: “It’s possible to crave community yet also crave privacy.” I learned that it’s ok to have a small circle I’m close to, I don’t have to extend deep friendship to every person that seeks it. I scratched the surface on a topic (friendship) that is the cause of ache and hurt in  many women, it was interesting to see the response.

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We’ve almost made it through the year. If you’ve made it this far in this post, you’re a trooper. I honestly don’t expect you to read the linked posts (Not even my husband or my mother would do that), but it’s been a great exercise for me to look back through this lens of written word. I can see God’s hand in all of these difficult days and in the great days too. November 2013 brings a look at my Unconventional Life a dream In Visions and Dreams that I thought was for one situation, but as it played out, was for another situation.

I also wrote about The Dark Thoughts of  a Mother, I understand not everyone has been to this place, which is why it needs to be written about. If you haven’t parented a child like this, you just can’t know what it’s like. I wanted to give the mothers that have, some relief.

December
I wrote two posts in December about a boy who was killed for his faith. I understand that a rich christian man losing his reality TV show job is more important, but this still burns in my heart. Dear America, This is Not a Game and Dear America, Actually  were like the Dark Thoughts of a Mother post, me saying what I really think and have lived. Both posts were misunderstood by some, that’s ok.

I wish I could say that at the end of all of these 2013 posts, I didn’t need to write and work through ObSoLeTe – The Pain in December, but I did. There are still pictures and Facebook posts and memories that remind me of the sting. It is what it is. My prayer is still this:

And I know I shouldn’t care
If I’m out or if I’m in
Cause if I am dismissed
Oh you always take me in

Take me in God. Take me in and shield the pain of what was, the pain of what could have been. Take me in to the next year and close the chapter on all that once was.

Take me in your love and heal me, make me new.

After writing that post, it stings less, just a bit less. Most the time.

On to 2014
Congratulations! You made it to the end! Now it’s time to start 2014! I’ve gone back and forth about studying the book of Nehemiah this year, but after writing this wrap up, I see that it’s time to begin purposefully rebuilding the city.One foot in front of the other, here we go. We go with grace, hope and peace – We go with God.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

 (Psalm 91:1-2, ESV)

Music – Hidden Art Chapter 3

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As I thought about music and my encounters and associations with music, I discovered that I associate music with people and seasons of life. In chapter 3, Edith discusses music as a means of enjoyment and giving among a family or a group of people. In Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together, he speaks of the community of believers coming together in a united song of worship to God. The idea of family, community and music all integrated together in worship is a theme that is resonating loudly in my heart.

My earliest memories of music are the songs of praise that my mom used to listen to while I was a child. Some of my fondest childhood memories are coming in from playing outside and finding her cleaning, listening to praise music and drinking sweet tea. She had a sun dress that she liked to wear on hot summer days and sometimes she would clip her hair up while she worked.  In these impressions, and I call them impressions because I’m not positive the iced tea drinking, vacuuming, worship music episodes actually happened at once at any given time, they are just an impression in my mind and what I think of when I think of childhood.  In these impressions, my mother taught me that my daily work, my daily living, could be turned into times of peace and worship of God by singing to Him while working.  My mother does not have a good voice, but she sang to God and she taught me to do the same.

My dad enjoys music and I learned to love Jazz music from him, when I was in junior high. The other night at an Art Walk – wasn’t that very artsy of me to go to an Art Walk? Yes, I am proud to say I did. I followed it up the next day with a craft boutique. Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen, the hidden art is coming forth! At the art walk, we passed a Jazz cafe that I hope to take my Dad to someday. I can attribute much of my music appreciation to his love of all kinds of music.

In college, I took a piano class and it was the hammer that shattered any musical ambition I might possibly have had.  I was in Piano 2 and on the first day the teacher told me to go back and retake Piano 1 and told me that I didn’t have any rhythm.  After a couple class periods of being sequestered to a piano room to clap out beats, I eventually dropped that class. I have never touched a musical instrument to play since that experience and I don’t attempt to clap and sing at the same time.

College wasn’t a total bust as far as musical experience though, I took a Music Appreciation class that I loved very much.  Appreciating music is far easier than playing music and I was happy to discover that Edith said appreciating music was a suitable form of musical enjoyment. Just as another blogger pointed out, taking time to enjoy art is a creative act.

These days, I spend time listening to music alone and with my family. We began a time of Family Worship a while back and the songs on the minds of my children and that I hear them singing throughout the day come from our times of worship together in the morning. This enjoyment of music and worship before God first thing in the morning is a special kind of fellowship and community in our family and one I think would fit the criteria for art. Somehow, I ended up with a child that enjoys breakdancing and another musically talented child. I enjoy watching them express themselves through this talent, both as a hobby and as an expression of worship.

Edith Shaeffer closes the chapter by quoting scripture that speaks of making a joyful noise unto the Lord. Spirit filled worship, a reflection of what we’ll spend eternity doing.  Times of worship among a body of believers is my favorite and most cherished expression of music.  My walk with God; from the earliest stirrings, to jr high and high school when God called to me and spoke to my heart through song, times with my church family – old and new and quiet moments alone or with my husband sitting before the King, has been stirred, moved along and deepened by worshiping Him.

Music is an art and I’ve learned that I can change or set the mood and tone of my home by what music I play. Music can play an influential part in The Hidden Art of Homemaking.

[I am blogging through the book The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Shaeffer with others at Ordo Amoris]

 

T&H

Hidden Art – Chapter 2

As I sat staring straight ahead last night, my husband asked me what I was doing. “I’m thinking about this book!” I replied.  I find that I am still trying to wrap my mind around all of this, still trying to grasp what is art, what art is to me. There are things that inspire me but I haven’t posted them because I feel like they are the wrong thing. People inspire me, my kids, the people I interact with.  No one wants to see a blog filled with the constant happenings of someone random kids…
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Edith talks about a hidden talent within each of us that needs to be brought out and exercised. Hidden art that needs to be integrated into the daily so that it can grow and blossom.  That is what I was thinking about last night.  What is this hidden art within me, can I make time for it in my life and do I really want to.  Everything always goes back to the great commission for me.  Jesus didn’t say go and preach to all the nations – and make beautiful art!  That isn’t a fair filter at all though, I do a great many things that Jesus didn’t speak of in the great commission, but I don’t think that holding it up next to it for a bit is a foolish idea.  I went to sleep last night with the resolve that this hidden art is ok and can be incorporated into a life – for the Glory of God.  It has to fit in a box somewhere in my head and that is a good box to put it in.

Now to the struggle of hidden art and viewing it around me.  I decided to post the last couple of pictures on my phone because those are the things that inspire me.  When I see my daughter sleeping peacefully, I don’t just think she is cute, I am moved, inspired, these are the things that cause me to think deeper and make me want to write.

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As I see her lying here in the morning light, as I see her sleeping peacefully with her chubby little arms tucked under her smooth cheeks, I am moved. God created this little wonder of life and beauty. This is art, the art of the Master.

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I counted my pennies to make sure I had enough to buy this box of tea. The fact that I had to sacrifice and consider my actions to purchase this makes it more rare and special to me. This tea has a floral scent and I drink it at nighttime while I read. When I see this box it speaks of peace, deep thought and communion with God. This little box holds so much feeling of beauty and contentment for me.

I don’t know if these things that speak to me in my day to day count as “art.” I don’t know if they qualify to fit in the club, but I supposedly got over that in chapter 1 so, to me, this is art.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking – Chapter 1

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Sometime, while I was sick, I joined a book club.

That doesn’t seem so off for me, except the book is called The Hidden Art of Homemaking.  That didn’t sound off either, until I received the book and I read the chapter titles.  What?! This book is about art and painting and sculptures, what?? What in the world did I get myself into?! Remain calm.

Being an introverted person all my life, I’ve often felt like extroverted people were trying to MAKE me be more extroverted, more like them. As if, somehow, extroverted is the way to be.  I have felt the exact same way about art and creative people in general, they expect me to be like them and to be able to do the things they do. I’m just not very creative naturally and when I’ve tried to be creative it looks… wrong.  Besides picture study with the kids in school, art and I stay apart as much as possible.

God has been s t r e t c h i n g me for a while now and so I’m not so surprised by this book club that I have fallen into. I actually began to get a little excited as I picked up the book to start reading, what could God possibly have in store here?

I read the first chapter and what wonder is this? I LOVED it.  The thoughts presented are ones I’ve never taken time to ponder, never thought could apply to me.

Edith Schaeffer is the author and she spoke to my heart right away, on the second page of the first chapter as I embraced an idea that was so freeing. She wrote about all creativity coming forth out of the imaginations, mind and personality in each of us, but that each are unique and what you create in originality, I CAN NOT. That thought zeroed in on a lifetime of frustration, of being in art classes and trying to copy what others are doing, walking into beautiful homes and wishing I could do the same. This very simple idea that I don’t have to be able to create the things others create, that is not the standard of creativity for me. When I see a creative expression I can know that God gave someone that inspiration and idea and it is one that I may enjoy the fruits of, but that I don’t have to try to emulate. I will carry that one along with me!

The rest of the chapter continued to keep my mind moving. Why had I never thought about the fact that I was made in the image of a Creator and therefore my desire to create, which for me is with words (and maybe babies!) is just a reflection of my Father? It made me think of my three year old playing dolls and pretending the things she sees lived out everyday, she is being like her parents in her own way.  As we humans go about this world always trying to invent and make things we are not shaking our fist at our Creator, but rather emulating Him.

One of the things we are being invited to do in this bookclub is to share our pictures of the beauty in the things around us, this week we are posting pictures of the view of our backyards. I am really excited about this because I know I have only a couple more months in this house and in this beautiful city.  Every day I wake up to the view of my backyard as my very first sight of the day. Being a southern California girl, I don’t expect to live in a place as beautiful as this again for a very long time, if ever.  For today, I soak in this view:

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Now that my personal reservations have subsided, I am really looking forward to the rest of this book and thinking deeper on the theology of art and creativity!