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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.
Today is one of those mixed emotion days. I wake up to the first day of my summer break. I can’t put my finger on it but I am not bouncing around the house in celebration. This is my 26th time experiencing the end of a school year and I still struggle with the abrupt change in routine. Please don’t take this as a complaint. I would not mock those of you who do not have the gift of a long break from work. I have taught so long I don’t remember what it was like to go to “work” in June and July. I do know what it is like to work long hours in an effort to encourage and motivate students. I do know what it is like to speak to parents only to have a conversation loaded in apathy toward their child. I do know frustrated passion for lives of these youth that is at times crippling. I do know what it is like to be blamed for, well, every short coming of the national youth culture. I see a large number of students that have one goal; to graduate, nothing more. And there is a surprising amount of them that don’t think past today. They don’t plan and they don’t dream. They don’t have a life plan at all. It is a defeated community.
I know most of my readers are from this very community but so am I. Our children need to see us dream. They need to see us live. They need to see our struggles and experience our successes. They need to be a part of the family and not outside looking in like some reality series. Families are too busy going and doing instead of being together and letting the whole family unit dream together. My students have no clue about their parents lives. Without a connection emotionally they can only model what they see so, in most cases, they see parents too busy too communicate. They see both parents begrudgingly going to work and they feel it is because of them that Mom or Dad has to work. That they have no stake in the family at all. They don’t know it is really because people want more stuff. They want more money. Or it is because parents didn’t dream, they, too, just wanted to graduate. They had to settle for a pay check instead of a path to a dream.
I guess my mixed emotions this morning come from the thoughts of the end of a school year that was full of kids without a path. So many know no purpose. They have no direction. Kinda of like the zombie craze, they just meander through life. Sorry this blog is not very uplifting today. It is more of a plea. If you have children talk to them! Spend time with each child one on one. Even if you have to do what they like to do. Be involved not spectating. They think their role as parents ends by being there as they sit in the stands or as part of the crowd. I see a culture that likes to go places but in large groups not just as a family unit.
How do we battle this cultural apathy? One parent and one kid at a time. Talk to others about dreaming and help them plan a path to living their dreams. Set goals with them and be a part of those goals. And don’t stop dreaming yourself. Each week is not to be lived just to get through it. I am guilty of a lot of those weeks myself and find that is when my family was the most disconnected. If you don’t have children or you have an empty nest be an example to the kids around you. Remember when grandparents talked about “the good ole days”? All it takes is some conversation and a little of your time.
It is now time for me to get on my dreams. The pipe drawing and bass guitar have not been touched in weeks. I want my own children to see me as a person who dreams but seeks to follow those by making plans and setting goals. I need them to see an example of how to recover when your dreams take a set back or your goals are compromised like when my goal to run a triathlon in April was change due to the illness and death of my Dad. I am now entering the Hokie Half Marathon in September. I need them to see an example of how to live instead of how to just earn a pay check. And I need them to see that even now I continue to live. Maybe if you share completely yourself with your kids it will encourage you to dream as well.
Time to get back at it. No rest for the weary they say. Who every that is I would like to slap them. Why can’t the weary rest? Is it because weary people just don’t rest, hence why they are weary? Just a random thought. It seems I am always tired but I am one of those that chooses not to rest. There is always so much to accomplish. Life is too short to do nothing.
So, with that, I started back on the second guitar in the “Courageous Freedom” series. I sanded down the body a few weeks ago and this week started working on putting different inlays in the neck. I debated on not changing them but once I got it in my head that I wanted stars instead of the usual dots I just couldn’t let it go. I would have loved to have left it alone and spared myself about 5 hours of work but that would not have satisfied me. It would have glared at me each time I saw it wondering “what if”. I am withholding what the final result is going to look like just to tease you guys. I will tell you that it is a bass guitar. My love.
I have not worked on the pipes abstract I started a month ago but it is still on my mind. I carried it with me for weeks while caring for my Dad but just could not seem to pull it out and work on it. I could not get my mood right to do the work. I know art can be a wonderful outlet in times of stress but I couldn’t get to that point. Now that my life is opening up I want to get back on it. The struggle is to get caught up on the things that went neglected during my busy season.
Why do I make choices that keep me so overloaded? Could it be that I want to do more than everyone around me. No, that’s not it. I try not to make mental notes about what others are doing. Could it be that I am afraid to do nothing one day that it will be a habit and I will never achieve anything again? No, not that either. How about the need for attention? Maybe, a little. I am, after all the third of four siblings and was born to older parents. Is it where I find my worth? Man, I hope not!
I can’t completely answer for certain. I just know that ideas pop into my head all the time and if I don’t get them out it gets crowded. My husband has, in the past, said he imagined inside my head was like the lottery machine they use on TV to make the number selections. Ideas bounce around and I randomly select one to do. It can be exhausting but it is me and I accept that because I am accepted. After all I am beautifully and wonderfully made by my creator.
Have you ever went on vacation and had a lists of stops you wanted to make? Maybe you had a plan of hitting little Mom n Pop stores along the way or seeing the World’s Largest Stalactite Organ. Everything had to be on schedule or you would not get to your last destination on time before it closed. You are cruising along and making great time but when you top the hill, you see brake lights. For miles ahead looks like an airplane runway. Slowly you creep and you begin to realize the 20th Century Wax Museum closes in 1 hour. Then, there it is; detour with construction. Looks like you will have to see the Largest Ball of Yarn on a different day.
This describes my last couple of weeks. I have a list of goals for each week so I can accomplish my goals for the year. My 4 year old project, working toward the art fellowship in November, triathlon training, just to name a few are all on my 2015 to do list. And of course swimming lessons. under normal circumstances these are achievable but this year is proving to be abnormal. I have hit a detour.
It is time to resort to prioritizing. I just have to take one step at a time. The 4 year old project is nearly complete. I pulled out a blow torch and burnished the exterior and started the final coats of poly. After a frustrating week I have sense of accomplishment. I am within in 1 to 2 weeks of finishing and I can smell it. That’s not the poly fumes talking.
The triathlon training will just have to be hit or miss for now as well as the other stuff. It will be okay if I have to delay some of my plans. The big goal is my destination…the fellowship. If I continue to avoid time waisters and push on I can do it. I do have to travel through the detour on my journey. I am still travelling forward.
“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”
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.
When things are not done that I ask my kids to do I usually get one of two answers, “I forgot” or “I didn’t have time”. This usually prompts a short lecture on time management and procrastination. Don’t put things off until the last minute or until later because you may run out of time. Simple concept, do it when you think of it so it gets done.
As the week progressed I found myself not in my studio…at all. Why am I not working on “the project” that I couldn’t tear myself away from earlier. Yes, I have been busy since I went back to work after a two week holiday break and I have had a couple of evening obligations but did I really have no time to work on it, to even touch or reflect on it. Could it be that my kids learned from the best? Yes, I am one of the best “I’ll do it later” people in the world. Not many can procrastinate like me.
The weekend came and I knew I had to get on that project. I did not want to write a blog that I had failed to make any progress on my journey. Saturday came and so I had my usual relaxing morning with the knowledge that I had all day with nothing scheduled to pull me away from working on my project. After relaxing for three hours I realized lunch wasn’t too far away so I decided to clean the kitchen and hit the studio after I had eaten. Lunch came and went. The kitchen wasn’t even close to clean and there I sat. Pulled in. Almost in a trance. Suddenly, the proverbial light bulb went on. What had robbed me of all my time this week? The goal bandit. The great thief of my productivity. It was the television. Did I gain any worth while knowledge by watching the television? No. Was my life expanded or enriched by those hours in front of the television? No. Was anything memorable or a treasured moment made through the experience of watching it. No. Did I loose valuable time that could lead to achieving my goals. Yes.
With this awakening I decided the kitchen could wait. My project could not. I left the kitchen half done with chairs left in my den from the unfinished mopping. I could no longer use the later excuse. It was time. I went to the studio, sat down and began. It wasn’t long until time was lost, but this time it was enriched and memorable, it was productive and another step in my journey. I was creating, being, and dreaming. Where is this project going? Plotting and planning each mark of my blade and rotary tool. Applying sand paper every now and then. Still imaging colors and the possibilities. My mind flew completely free with all the unencumbered choices. Even when I needed to stop two hours later there are so many decisions to still make. Loving that every one takes me down a different road to a different finished product. No one better or worse than the other just different.
This is my first blog ever so please bear with me. I consider English my second language. No, I am not bilingual but as an artist, visual communication would be my first language.
I am torn at my direction. Yesterday, Christ affirmed my idea through my pastor. To be brief, the theme was to follow your dreams. Too many people loose their dreams as they age because of the struggle of a life surrounded by societal responsibilities. This year I would like to select some of my dreams and begin a journey to live them. What am I torn about you my ask? Which dream.
I have started this blog to be accountable and to explore that direction. I am notorious for not finishing projects and crowding my schedule with “stuff” to the point that my personal time is brushed asside. Life is too short. On a side bar I am turning 50 this year which brings me face to face with time.
It will take some time for me to get the hang of this but through it I am making a commitment. To? Sorry not to you, the reader, but to myself. I will post on Wednesdays for now. Please leave encouraging words and journey with me. There will be an extra post this week as this one is a “teaser”.
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. -Earnest Hemingway