Parental Guidance Is Suggested

I must say I am so glad to have my two kids back on American soil. They spent the last nearly two weeks in Peru. It was very hard to let them go but how can I hold them back. I remember when my church first announced the trip. My daughter was sitting beside me and immediately turned to me and said I want to go. It wasn’t too much of a surprise because she loves to travel and adventure. What was a shock was my son sought us out as soon as the service was over from where he was sitting with a friend. “Mom I want to go.”

My husband and I exchanged glances. The cost has to be huge and PERU. That is like, really, really far away. Just take a deep breath. I told myself.

My church does a number of mission trips every year so my kids see mission work as a part of the “show them Jesus” lifestyle we are trying to teach and do ourselves. They traveled a couple of years ago to Mexico without us for less than a week to work in an orphanage. Oddly, this trip also contained orphanage work. My husband and I did not go then and would not be able to go to this one either. The only thing harder, to me, than going is sending your children.

Do I trust the adults going? At the time of the announcement that Sunday morning we had no clue who was going. We agreed anyway that they could put their names in as interested. Even though they are not really kids at 18 and 15, those kind of answers mean yes to them and I knew that.

The process began, fund raising and bringing myself to the realization that this was going to happen. Personnel changed but they did not waver. Even when all the girls that showed interest dropped out my daughter did not flinch. Looks like this was going to happen. I did trust the team but they are human beings. To learn to share my kids with the world I have to trust Christ who is in them.

I remember struggling about 5 years ago with my letting go of my children. Allowing them to explore and learn even through mistakes as they grow is so difficult. I remember clearly praying about that and Christ saying trust me. I finally, by the end of the prayer told Him He could have them. That I surrender them to Him. I thought there would be this huge out pouring of Godly gratitude from Him but instead I get this emotional slap. This awakening of sorts. “They are already mine.” Next was the wow moment. I am only human. I will provide, protect, love, support…with all of my human abilities but if they are His, man. No person can provide more, protect more, love more, support more…than Christ. Why would I hold them back? You go, God! You do all those things.

So what is my role? Well, those things come through me, through my husband, through my family and friends. We supply the parental guidance. Just like the movies suggest, we steer our children and allow Christ to guide our hands as we help mold them.

So, with that memory to the conversation Jesus and I had I let them go. Sure it was difficult. I missed them immensely. My husband and I enjoyed a taste of the empty nest but we kept busy to keep our minds from straying us.  There were moments but there was an overall peace inside knowing Christ is always with them and that He’s got their back. All we have to do is provide the parental guidance.

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I Found A Masterpiece

As I move more toward a career in art I continue to struggle with the same problem over and over.  What to charge people for my work.  You never know if you should charge by the hour or the personal value or even how much you “need” the money.  I have read lots of articles on this subject but still question myself.  If I am too cheap people may not respect me, after all I am an educated professional.  If I am too expensive I may not make a sale not to mention I love to see people happy.  I am just not a good salesperson.

I also hate selling my originals.  Copies are not hard to part with but what is the true value of an original P H Younger art piece.  How can I part with something so important to me?  All the time, effort, thought and love that goes into each one.  I know every line, mark, and space that I slowly and methodically added.  Each one has its on importance, it’s own purpose.  Leaving out even the smallest spot would make the piece unfinished or incomplete.    The steps of creating them in my head long before they become a visually concrete piece of work can be exhilarating.

I have had some nice offers on the Thorned Guitar but I can’t place a value on it right now.  The joy and challenge of it I still feel so clearly.  It is a part of me.  As it’s creator, I am a part of it.  Like a finger print.

It is with these thoughts I see God as an artist.  The creativity that went into carving the World.  The intricacies and attention to detail amaze me.  I am not talking about the science of how things are put together, which is incredible as well, but the parts of Him that are all over me.  “He knows every hair on my head” because He placed them there.  Just as I  place every mark on my creations.  I am the masterpiece He can’t put a price on.  The artwork that is priceless.

Serving some deserving

I know the title for this one is a little corny but it does make you go…humm.  I just got back from a retreat where I had an amazingly great time.  I have been working so hard on my art, my job (I have actually had a lot of snow days off) and my family that I deserved a little R&R.  For those of you not familiar with the term R&R.  It is a military term for rest and relaxation.  I did some therapy shopping and was amazed at all the places that gave me a veterans discount.  My friends kept telling me to take it because I deserved it for my service to our country.  It made me feel important and special.

But what does it really mean to deserve something.  That term has probably served me more negatives then positives in my life.  “Oh, I donate my time playing music at church I deserve this guitar”, “ching”.  (That is the sound of an old fashioned cash register).  “I didn’t get a gift after all I have done I deserve one so I will buy it myself”, ching.  “I ran today so I deserve this chocolate chip cookie” or even “I can have this donut because I am going to run later.”  I have even given myself both a cookie and a donut on the same day for just the one run.  I am thinking this thought processes is not healthy for my finances or my body.

On the flip side the deserving punishment judgement can be equally as dangerous.   A getting what you deserve mentality can be very frustrating.  If you look around too much at what people get compared to what they do you will find yourself confused.  Life doesn’t punish and reward fairly.  I have lever been comfortable when I hear phrases like “Christ died for me when I didn’t deserve it”.  What a guilt laden way to view the cross.  I hate owing anyone anything so I can’t approach my walk with Christ that way.

Don’t get me wrong.  Jesus certainly didn’t deserve to die.  He chose to.  We can’t love and live out of guilt so we need to be very careful how we use the term deserve, especially in our spiritual walk and our walk with others.  Instead of being undeserving maybe we could try to see Him as our martyr and we His soldiers because to Him we are important and special.

DISCLAIMER:  I will try not to consider what I deserve when I price my artwork. I will, however, try not to think too hard about the word when I price my artwork in the future.

Courageous Freedom

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As I journey through this year of self discovery as an artist one of the things I would like to do is to continue with my guitar re-creating.  It would make a great series of pieces. I have chosen the title Courageous Freedom for the series.  I will reveal to you the next guitar will be a bass guitar but the rest is a secret until it is finished.  Hopefully, it will not take the 5 years it took me to build the Thorny Guitar I revealed a couple of weeks ago.  I chose this series title because it is a combination of two of my favorite words.

I posses the greatest respect for those 2 words separately but when you put them together, volumes are written.  I have touched on bravery numerous times in my blogs but it is just that important to me.  Courage is required to take risk, to step out on the mission field, to march into a new career, to get rid of those comfort zones, to make decisions about things you have invested countless hours and money into, to marry, to start a family.  I think you get the picture.  Each day we make same courageous decisions.  Where there is risk there is the opportunity for courage.

It takes courage to create freedom.  Yes, freedom can be created.  I learned that from my time in the military.  We are not born courageous.  We learn it from acts of bravery, from managing fear and from Christ’s empowerment.  When my army reserve unit was activated and sent to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm I learned really quickly what courage looked like.  I was surrounded by it everyday.  I was pretty scared at times but you move forward.  At night in my tent I would just say God protect me.  After rolling my socks over my boots to keep the scorpions and spiders out I would go to sleep.  I do not remember staying awake or worrying about anything.  I had been gifted with the courage of Christ.

It also takes courage to accept freedom.  Too many people are afraid to move into a life of freedom.  It is much safer and easier to stay in the same restrictive rituals that bind our faith.  I have broken down walls in my own life recently that I had built up for protection because I had been hurt many years ago.  I lacked the courage to allow myself to feel what was outside those stone walls.  They were cold and dark and left me incapable of truly feeling all that Christ had to offer.  Love was a very difficult concept when I was cowering behind that impenetrable barrier.  Those walls shackled me.  I felt little and lived a numbing life.  It took courage to break the walls down and step out into the light.  The love and emotions that hit me at first felt like stepping out into bright light from a dark cave.  I could only describe it as an emotional hangover the next day.  It took along time to manage all that and how to handle all this new freedom.  But I haven’t regretted a second of it.  The passion, love and courage I now have are wonderful friends.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” —Plato

Victory

I am still feeling the wonderful after effects of victory.  After battling all the decisions and time that went into making my thorned guitar which, I revealed last week, I have spent this week soaking up a since of accomplishment.  I can’t describe the natural high I get hearing it played and seeing it complete.  I am trying to stay humble but I will say all the compliments have been so encouraging. It has inspired me so that I have not been idle.  I have found my next one and started a two-dimensional piece as well (more on those next week).

I have always tried to answer a compliment with something like, “thank you it’s not that hard” or “I still have a lot to learn” or “you should see…”  or even “but did you see the problem with”. Sometimes I even start pointing out the mistakes in the piece.  Why did I think that humility meant lowering myself, elevating someone else or deferring the conversation.  Could it be that I love being affirmed so much it scared me?  I didn’t want to be arrogant or obnoxious but where do you draw the line.  How can an artist be confident and promote themselves without being too overwhelming or boystrious?  Well, now that I am a mature woman here is what I have learned.

If someone gives you a compliment you must accept it in its entirety.  It is a gift given to you and should not be returned. You should not try to best their gift by giving them a bigger compliment either.  Allow them to bless you and always say thank you without a but at the end.  No pun entended.

Next, never point out your mistakes when receiving a compliment.  I have mentioned this before.  Focusing on the negatives only brings you to a negative focus.  I know that is redundant but it is true. The complimenter is enjoying something you did so don’t ruin it for them. It reminds me of when you go to a movie and with no knowledge of the story you leave the theatre thinking how much you enjoyed it. Then your book nerd friends start trashing it. Before you didn’t care that the main character was suppose to have blonde hair or that there were not suppose to be an elven heroine.

Lastly, deferring is disrespectful to the giver of the compliment.  They are complimenting you and not someone or anything else.  Be respectful and accept it for goodness sake.  There is no arrogance in that.

You can live in victory each day without coming across as boastful and conceited.  It is victorious confidence that Christ gives us.  Why would we belittle ourselves as less.  As long as we carry ourselves with love first the belief in one’s self will keep us grounded.

You Make Me Brave

I saw a post on Facebook one day that posed this question, “if you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?”  I thought I was really clever when I typed the word “nothing.”  Thinking, why would it be worth doing if there was not the threat of failure looming over you.  It stuck with me for days; the more I thought about it, the more I felt maybe the opposite was true.

I really don’t consider failure when I attempt a project like I am working on now.  Sometimes, maybe I should since I do tend to get over my head but I guess that is a blog for another day. I am a big believer that you can accomplish anything, within reason, and the right amount of effort. Consider this, if you focus on the failure then doesn’t that become what you are trying to accomplish? Let’s say you are carving a sculpture and all you can think about is how just one little slip and off goes an important part. Guess what? You will probably slip. Or you are dieting and all you think about is a yummy chocolate donut. Or if you approach Christianity by focusing on sin instead of love or grace. I think you get what I mean.

I grew up, for a time, expecting the worst. My philosophy then was based on the thought that I could never be disappointed with failure. Instead I would be surprised by success.  How crazy is that?  Why look at life that way?  It’s all because of one simple and very powerful word, FEAR.

It has taken a lot of years and a complete restructuring of my thought processes but I have conquered most of my fears.  I realized that with Christ in me how can I have fear?  What kind of craziness is that?  So the rest of them have to go.

With this I will Face Fears at Fifty in 2015.  It is with this attitude I have started working toward being an independent, professional artist. But there is one other fear in particular that still smothers me at times. The Mack Daddy of all my fears. It is time to get rid of my big fear of the water.  How?  Swimming lessons!  Paid for and set to begin next month so I can’t get cold feet and back out.  I can only go into it focusing on the success and not the failure.  I will be a swimmer in a month!

Enjoy this song.  Oddly it has water in the lyrics.