It's been a while since I've stared at the keyboard and tried to write. And yet... Here I am.
There is so much happening right now that it seems to make my head spin a bit. Art is going absolutely beautifully. Paintings have been selling and new designs have been brewing. Life, in that respect, is beyond what I can fathom.
There was a time I was so grateful to sell even one piece a month, and now the trouble is finding the time to accomplish all that is in front of me. How the Father worked that out, I'll never know. I'm not complaining. I'm rejoicing that He's using my hands!
Also, I received the editor's design layout for the book! It should be in hard print in my hand very shortly. I CANNOT believe it! This year has simply flown by! Our littlest is now almost 8 months old. This time last year I was struggling with morning sickness, and now I'm watching a determined little crawler make his way around the house!
I don't have a ton of words to say except that the Father is FAITHFUL. He is good. He is incredible. And I'm grateful to be the clay in His hands.
May your day be blessed and your face turned towards Him.
I've been hesitant to write, hesitant to share. I've asked for advice and been told that the best thing I can do is be honest. I'm okay with that. I like people shooting straight with me. I try to do the same with others.
I hesitate because I recognize that people are people, and people have a tendency to judge quickly without taking the time to think or even attempt to read the whole story. I hesitate because while I KNOW there are so many who love us, there are some who still like the ability to feel better about themselves by seeing the brokenness of others. And while I know that my transparency makes that possible, I also recognize that the difference between myself and the people who make it their life goal to look down on others is this... Peace. And regardless of the status of my daily walk... I have peace. And that's worth a whole lot.
Very few people know the depth of all that has transpired in the past year. There has been a LOT of good that has come. So too, there has been a LOT of hardship. Those who are closest too us, have seen the blessings AND the tears. I've tried to minimize the difficult stuff, and maximize the easy days. I'm trying to live by example to my kids that joy is constant, and happiness fleeting. I'm trying to lay the framework to them to praise even through tears. We haven't shielded them from the truth. We are not sugar coating our situations, but rather emphasizing that there can be good found even when life hurts and trying to gently teach them to live with gratitude for each day.
One of the most valuable lessons I have gleaned in the past year is that there is NO guarantee of anything... Even when the outlook is sunny. Even when our plans have been SOLID. There is no guarantee. Even when we have KNOWN that we KNOW that we KNOW.... We didn't know. There is no guarantee.
But as crazy as it sounds, even in that state of unsettledness, there is comfort. If I know not to rely too heavily on my own wisdom, then it doesn't take my breath away when things fall apart. When I don't put too much pressure on my husband to be my knight in shining armor, he surprises me by being my constant, by being my steady. I have a greater appreciation for his strength now than I EVER have.
He sees clearly that while it is most certainly his role to provide and give and sacrifice for the family, there are some things that are just plain out of his control. And instead of being angry about that, he does everything that he can. And when everything that he can isn't enough to make ends meet, he doesn't get angry. He gives more. And he supports my efforts too. He prays for me. He encourages me. I'm thankful for him.
At the end of April 2014, we were doing well. Kerry had a good job in the oil fields in Colorado. He was working 80 hours per week for two weeks. Then he would come home to us for two weeks. The pay was good. The benefits were solid. He was working hard, coming home tired, and providing. We were paying down past debt. We were getting ready to rent out our house here in Georgia. We were content.
He herniated a disc on the rigs towards the end of one of his two week shifts. And just. Like. That... Everything changed.
He went from providing, to barely being able to walk.
While workers compensation was doing their investigation, we were told to sit tight, that there was no need to file for short term disability. And when a 20 day state mandated time for due diligence came and went, we were concerned, but tried to do what was right. We sat tight and waited for word on how to further proceed. By the end of the summer, with no income, we lost our health insurance and benefits. And then we got the notice that workers comp was denying our claim because they had come to the conclusion that Kerry had pre-existing injuries that he didn't divulge.
So no income. No workers comp. And a lot of questions.
I can't go into the details since we have our final hearing pending in just a little over a month. But suffice to say that there was a short time where we received unemployment, and then... Nothing.
And here we are, nearly a year later, still standing. We have done our level best to minimize all of our bills. We have sold everything that we can possibly part with. And are preparing to sell our second vehicle in order to continue to pay bills and survive until our hearing. And through it all, we can honestly say it's been difficult, but worth it.
In the past two and half months, my art has taken off. FLOWN. I have never sold as many pieces as I have this past year. I shake my head to see what the Lord is doing. I had always been afraid to work in color until I was snowed in and bored in Cheyenne Wyoming. I never painted a single watercolor until that winter... and the sky's the limit now!
I have the opportunity to showcase my artwork in a restaurant that is opening in downtown Macon. And the Lord has also provided the possibility of using my art as a means to help communities raise funds to save historic buildings and draw attention to the needs of the counties they are in. I never imagined that was even possible. But it is.
I have had so many people encourage me, push me on, prod me forward. I have been blown away by the amount of support that we have received in the last year. There have been people who have reached out to love on my family, and they haven't even known the depth of the issues that we face. I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I've been reduced to a puddle by an unexpected check, or art commission, or care box for my children. And it's always been just at the right moment. Just when I am ready to collapse and give up, there is another reminder that we are doing what we need to.
First and foremost, to those who have loved on our family. THANK YOU. I have not taken a single thing for granted. And you will never know the depth of how much you've touched our lives. This past year would have been unbearable if we had walked alone. We love you. And especially those who have reached out to my children, from the deepest part of me... Thank you. It is so difficult to let your children see your weakness, and to see them go without. It hurts. And yet, this past year has been an opportunity for me to humble myself, let my guard down, and allow people to minister to us. There have been so many times that I gave when I could, and to receive is MUCH harder for me, but I have grown in the process. And I'm grateful. So grateful.
Next, this is where the honesty comes in. We have 36 days until we are due in Colorado for our final hearing. We recognize that if we are denied workers compensation that our lives will be forever changed. We know that we will lose our home, and we have acknowledged that may be a very real possibility. These 36 days seem like 36 more months. I am painting as much as I can, and increasing my workload while Kerry is helping with the kids and doing website promotion to get my art off and running. We are off to a good start, but there is still a huge gap between where we need to be and where we are.
I've never been afraid of hard work. I've never been one to look for the easy route. And right now is no different. I'm putting in the hours, and we are taking each day as it comes. I'm going to post a link at the bottom of this blog to a GoFundMe page that I started a little over a month ago. Our family is trying to make this dream a reality, and while the pieces are in place, we still need to have running water and a roof over our heads. We only have 36 days until we know what our next steps will be.
I recognize that I still have to option to put my kids back in public schools, leave my husband at home and go back to work. But I can't do art and work a 40 hour week. I'm not strong enough to do it all. Kerry needs medical attention to see if he can ever gain feeling back in his leg. We recognize that he will never be able to do a heavy physical job like he was before. We aren't angry. We are just walking it out one day at a time.
It's good to have family and friends that believe in us. Thank you for your prayers, your texts, your letters, and your love. We couldn't have gone this far without you. The Father has been good to us. And regardless of the outcome, we will praise.
Please share this story, and the link. We don't care if it's $5 or $500. The highest donor will still get the portrait of the ship that I'm working on. There's a picture of it on the GoFundMe page. And I'm still sending out originals to those who donate. No matter the size. We are grateful for your help.
It's the pink button right below.
Thoughts race through my mind as a look over a table filled with paints, and brushes and pencils, cups of muddy water and half burnt candles, a stray tape dispenser and scissors...
Is this worth it? Or am I trying to live someone else's dream?
There are so many who believe. So many who have encouraged me. I know that there is potential here, but how do I make that reality? I feel like our family is on the brink of something amazing. I really do. But is it foolish of me to stand at the edge of a canyon? I know there are ways to make legitimate income at hourly jobs. We've done that before. We've been there.
When my husband came back from the oil rigs, and his back was injured, we had no idea how we were going to survive. It's been nearly 11 months, and still we are waiting for closure. The company that he worked for denied our worker's compensation claim and in the course of their investigation, since we were without income, our medical insurance lapsed. So now we sit, waiting for an appeal hearing which has not yet come to fruition. 11 months. No steady paycheck. And yet somehow we have managed to survive.
Now I know it's no coincidence. I know that there have been miraculous things that have happened. And I know for a fact that there are some who don't believe in miracles. You are perfectly within your rights to not believe, but if I listed the number of times that people who have NO CLUE the depth of our situation have stepped in with exactly what we needed at the last possible moment over the course of the past year, you'd be eating your tongue. I have always had a strong faith, but now... It's overwhelming. It's EASY to say you believe. But when within 24 hours, you'll lose your lights and water and car insurance, and "somehow" something "just happens to come through" and all those bills are paid.... It makes you look up and KNOW... I thought I knew before ... But it's tangible now.
We are in the final days leading up to our hearing... Until this is over, my husband can't seek medical attention for a severe herniation in his L5 lumbar. The beauty of our situation is that although he has numbness and an OBVIOUS injury to his back, he isn't in pain. I'm praising for that. It's hard, but it's not hopeless.
Our hearing should be in May. That's what they tell us anyways. We'll see what happens. All I know is that regardless of the time... Regardless of the outcome... We'll be okay. I've never really understood before...
"“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart."
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
So instead of throwing my brushes away and returning to "safety"... I'm going to stay right where my feet are firmly planted. I'm choosing hope.
Just a quick update on the GoFundMe project. I've posted a few updates with the latest paintings that will be given away during this campaign. Please feel free to share the post via any social media site. Every little bit helps!!!
Perhaps there is nothing magical about the way paint flows from the tip of a brush, but for me, it's healing.
Perhaps there is nothing redeeming about the bristles and the strokes of color and the formation of thoughts, but for me, it soothes the ache.
Perhaps there is nothing at all astounding about hours spent creating a work that will soon arrive on a wall and be forgotten, but for me, it's a way to release.
Watercolor... Acrylic... Oil... Pastels... Pencils... Ink...
Plain jane ordinary tools.
But for me... They take me away from the stress and the worry. They allow me to breathe and focus on someone else's needs for a moment. They erase the worry lines from my forehead and the tension in my neck. They draw me into something that is not myself.
And I am thankful. I'm thankful that my wires are crossed and my heart is tied up in the little things. They may not be valuable to some, but they are priceless to the soul.
And I'm thankful for healing through a brush.
Okay, just kidding. It's only one mural. I wanted to have a quick tag to another medium that I enjoyed. There's not really a way to advertise it in the gallery, but there is indeed a tool here that can be shared if it's ever needed. Airbrush is an incredible way to spend the day! So much fun to create large scale pieces. Take a moment to check out the following article!
It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I am deeply fascinated by the inner workings and driving forces behind why people pour themselves into art. I stumbled across a site today that captured my FULL attention.
Autism is a subject that can be difficult to broach, and is incredible and formidable to those who face it daily. Those who fall of the spectrum of autism can be easily overwhelmed by daily functions. I was drawn into this website because it gives just a glimpse, a tiny TINY glimpse into the brilliance of some of these minds. They are driven to art as a coping mechanism for life. Their canvas is their escape.
The subject matter and visions that flow from the artists' paintbrush is phenomenal, absolutely stunning. I'm so thankful that someone took the time to gather, and study, and talk to the creators of these pieces. What an interesting way to shed light on a subject that is all too overlooked. Click the link below to scroll and enjoy some of the most unique pieces I've had the honor of laying my eyes on.
It's nearly midnight, and I'm staring at my paints and listening to The Voice. I'm exhausted, but at peace. I've never even been able to grasp that art could be a living. I mean, it has worked for others, but for me... It's always seemed like a pipe dream. And I'm gently reminded that this has nothing to do with me, but rather, there is a plan that is unfolding before my eyes that may very well include the opportunity to reach out and make a difference. I'm excited about the opportunity to grow, to share, and to learn new forms of expression.
How incredible! To be able to do what I love, and not feel guilty! Today closes, and it is a GOOD day!
Its been a blessing to realize that I may be able to make my art into a full time profession. But I have to be honest, that's not what motivates me. What really motivates me is being able to use the gift I've been blessed with to in someway help others. I don't have a master plan in place for what my end goal is, but it all centers around being able to help make the world a better place. It could be helping a church raise funds to build a center to feed the poor, or helping a historic society preserve the historical beauty of long forgotten buildings. But one of my favorite examples of using gifts to uplift people and help society in general is an organization called HOBO Nation. Please check the video out below and check out their website to support their efforts.
So, we've been hard at work trying to get this new website off of the ground and have a campaign in progress to get my artwork in front a team of investors to take it to a regional and possibly national audience. This is a dream I've had to be able to be an artist full time and professionally and for the first time, we are on the brink of making that happen. So if you are reading this and are enjoying the watercolor paintings, drawings, and portraits, please share this website with your friends and family. And if you feel so inclined to purchase some artwork, you can visit my store on Etsy by clicking the button on the home page, or you can contribute to our campaign on Go Fund Me. Thank you for visiting and be sure to subscribe to the blog and check the website frequently for new artwork. Thank you and have a blessed day.