Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2011 One World One Heart Giveaway!

If you've never participated in the annual One World One Heart Giveaway, then you need to! You can sign up to participate if you're a blogger- give something away as a prize for people stopping by your blog, or just sign up for a chance to win on others' blogs.

This is a worldwide event, with thousands of people participating! You can go to this website to read the rules and learn more. This is the last year they'll be doing it, so go sign up!

I participated 2 years ago, and it was so fun! I gave an art pendant away as a prize, and I won gifts from 2 different blogs. Plus, it's so great to look at everyones' blogs and see what people are doing around the world.

So stop back by my blog on Jan. 30th to see what I'll be giving away!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tree Mishaps

It was a great idea. We pulled off the dirt path that lead to my mom's land in east Texas. I was so excited as I looked at all the trees, imagining them in my yard. And one special tree in our house, decorated with our hand-picked ornaments. Each one representing a different memory.
Kind of a wild tree, but it had a good shape at this point.

We chose four trees- 2 Sweet Gum, 2 Pine Trees. Dug them up, put them in buckets to transport home. And then we went searching the woods for the perfect Christmas tree. After a bit, I saw it-*the* tree. I could hear the Hallelujah Chorus singing, just like the Griswalds in "Christmas Vacation." I couldn't wait to put up our own special tree!

This is right before he dropped the ornament and it shattered into oblivion.

So we trimmed the branches; it was a bit wild looking. We hung ornaments. We broke ornaments. The branches sagged a little under the weight of the lights. We watched "Elf" while we decorated, and Ted made fudge. The perfect evening with our perfect tree.

Timmy was so excited to add the star on top.

Before bed, I noticed something wrong. The tree had fallen over. More broken ornaments and sagging branches. No problem, we fixed it up. Propped some magazines under the base just in case it happened again.

The next day, it fell over yet again. More broken ornaments. Now we had a gaping hole in the front where branches had drooped. All the lights sagged to the bottom of the tree. It was only December 3. I didn't think our tree was going to survive the holidays. My 3 year old even told me, "Papaw has a better tree than ours. His star isn't falling, and he doesn't have a whole in his tree." Sigh.

This picture doesn't really capture the crazy mess it had become!

We told some friends about our misadventures in tree hunting, and they laughed with us. A few years back, they had cut down a tree in the woods and happily decorated it in their house. But the next day they saw big black splotches covering the walls and furniture- spiders!! Man, I was glad that at least we didn't bring home any "friends."

Our lovely new, sturdy tree!

A few days later our friends called. They had won a free tree and were bringing it over! So we took down our sad treasure and put the new tree in its place. I decorated it without the kids "helping." No more broken ornaments or sagging limbs. Tree mishap fixed.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hold Onto Hope

This is my newest artwork, called "Hold Onto Hope." It definitely represents where I am in life right now.
I feel trapped, caged. But I know I'm here for a reason and that I can't give up. A few months ago I actually had a dream about it. The bird represents hope, and in the dream God told me to nourish it, to keep feeding the bird so it would stay alive.
So no matter what life is like or what kind of chaos surrounds me, I'm holding onto my hope that God has a plan and things will change for the better.
"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope." (Ps. 130:5)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sex Trafficking in America

A few weeks ago I attended a women's conference. One of the classes was about starting a new ministry, which I assumed would be about church planting or leading a women's ministry. But the woman who spoke, Jeanie Turner, had started a ministry in Florida called One Way Out. She goes into brothels, strip clubs, and jails to give gifts to the women and just to love on them. She herself was the woman at the well who met Jesus, having been married 5 or so times. God saved her and changed her radically, and she went to tell the most desperate about her Jesus. I cried throughout her story, profoundly grateful that God can save and redeem like this.

The next class was about using the arts to minister to girls just out of sex-trafficking. The speaker, Rebecca Grant, had grown up as a missionary's daughter in India. When she was 16, the family was driven to the red light district and she saw girls younger than herself out on the streets, selling their bodies to men. She saw with painful clarity the hopelessness in their eyes. Then Rebecca's family was taken to a house where rescued girls and women were living, just a few months out of that lifestyle. They were so joyful and kept repeating, "Isn't our God good? Look where I am now! I have a future." The contrast between the girls in the home and the girls on the street was striking. When she was older, Rebecca started Rescue Arts, visiting the many homes of rescued girls, using drama, art, dance, writing, and music as creative therapy. Again, I cried throughout her class as she described these girls and how she used the healing arts to minister to them.

The next night, I was browsing through the section of old books at Half Price Books. I started talking to a woman who worked there about how much I loved old books, a kindred spirit. She went to the back to get some that had never been shelved for me to look at. We ooed and awwed at some antiques until she showed me one that was pretty beat up. It had a lovely illustration of a girl behind bars, which caught my attention because I frequently have that image in my head symbolically. Then I read the title- "Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls Or War on the White Slave Trade." I nearly jumped with excitement! I explained to her that I was part of a group called Alert Ministries, who help sexually exploited women in the Dallas area, some of whom have been trafficked here. So I bought the book for $5 and tucked my treasure in my arms.
I'm only halfway through reading it, but it has been an amazing read already. The book was written in 1910(!), a collection of published articles on sex trafficking in America. I still can't believe I found it. The writers were lawyers, pastors, and social service workers who discovered this crime operating under their noses. They write, "For the protection of the innocent, for the safeguarding of the weak, for the warning of the tempted and the alarm of the wicked, the truth must be told- the truth that makes us free."

The book gives a history of cultures that practiced forced prostitution, from Biblical times to the 1900's. It describes the process of how the girls were deceived and/or kidnapped and taken to be prisoners in the brothels. It lists tips for parents on safeguarding their girls, accounts of stories from women that have escaped, and laws that have come about because of the peoples' efforts to stop this crime. What surprises me most is how similar the circumstances were 100 years ago to today. People were shocked and refused to believe it could happen in their cities. But once people refused to ignore what was going on, they rallied to put an end to it.
The authors give advice for those who want to help: "Form organizations everywhere to fight this traffic. Through these organizations educate the... communities to be careful... demand proper legislation, write the senators and representatives about it... and help build homes for training the girls for better lives." It made me very happy to realize that there are many organizations currently doing this very work- raising awareness, educating the public, fighting for laws to protect the innocent and punish the abusers, and creating places where the women can be healed and trained for future careers. Love146 has all of these aspects, along with other organizations.

The book has so many shocking statistics, wonderful quotes, illustrations and photographs that will inspire and challenge. Even though it was written in 1910, it's still applicable to what's happening today in America and around the world. You can read the archived book online here. There's also an incredible documentary out now called Playground that discusses this problem, focusing on how many young American girls wind up in prostitution. There are so many great organizations out there helping put an end to this tragedy. I hope you'll check out some of the websites and the book to learn more about the problem and how to be part of the solution!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Good Leaders- What NOT To Do

Today's blog is from Carissa Byers. I liked it so much, I thought it was worth passing along. Tell me what you think...

The Good Leaders

Citibank's Advice to Women copy

I found this in a blog post at "Easily Amused."

This list makes me sad. Our society often fails dramatically when trying to empower women. First and foremost, you do not empower a woman by teaching her how to be like a man.

Sitting around with your legs spread, always getting the last word, doing whatever you want without asking if anyone minds, never apologizing, playing unfair, always needing credit for every last thing (which I personally find really obnoxious) and firmly pumping everyone's hand, etc. is just ridiculous. These are not qualities of a good leader or a good man, for that matter.

No person can fake their way to be a remarkable leader through learned gestures. Learned gestures are what we teach monkeys to do for our amusement.

What erodes a woman's self confidence is not apologizing, it's buying this book.

Good leaders of all genders will be genuine people who lead because they are good at it. Because they are smart and passionate and compassionate and better at it than any one else. They will be good leaders because they believe in the goal and the message and because they can communicate and motivate people. They will be good leaders regardless of how many pats on the back they get or how much they get paid. The Good Leaders will be successful regardless of their hand strength and regardless of what hangs or does not hang between their legs.

The Good Leaders are equipped with good grammar. Especially when publishing a book so as to avoid "not get taken seriously."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spark Art & Writing- New Mixed Media Art

We finished another round of Spark, the Art & Writing Challenge. This time around I had two partners. After reading Kim's poem, I created this piece, called "Friendship."
The girl's eyes were what captured my attention in this vintage photo. With her hands on her heart, she seems the essence of love and loyalty.
I had a lot of fun cutting out images for her crown of flowers.
I used silver thread and emerald colored beads for her necklace.

And using Rus' short story, I created this mixed media piece, called "Flow."
I started off painting the ocean, then added papers and more paint.

Finally, I drew a woman in deep reflection, hair flowing in the breeze. My daughter suggested that she needed a necklace, and I think it adds a lot. I loved using watercolors to enhance the subtle colors of the woman. The way they pool in certain areas and mix with other colors makes the result always a surprise.

You can see more art and writing from Spark here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Tension of Dreaming and Sitting Still

I'm always more reflective at night. After the lights are off and the house is silent, it's finally quiet enough to hear inside. Although lately I've been trying to drown out my thoughts. Mostly because I need to ignore them to persevere. It sounds dramatic, but it's really pretty simple: I can't have what I want.

I'm a dreamer by nature. A planner and a starter. I love complexity and fixing things, or even creating something out of nothing. But routines and maintenance kill my soul. I think a part of it dies every time I have to repeat the formulaic process. So I dream to keep going. Some day I'll get to do... (fill in blank). And then I can survive the boredom. Yes, boredom is my enemy.

And it's really hard to watch others thrive. They get to live out the dreams in my heart while I'm still waiting. Sitting still. The kids have a book about having to learn to sit still in school. Sitting still. Sit still. Still sitting still. Sit still! I feel like that kindergardener who wants to run and play and explore. But right now it's circle time and I need to sit still and listen and learn.

So what am I learning? Well, I've learned that I suck at sitting still. I have no patience. But I AM trying every day. I'm trying very hard to be content where I am. And to keep the dreams alive, instead of crushing them because they are too painful to remember. So I'm gently nourishing the dreams in my heart while still living one day at a time. Holding that tension is emotionally exhausting. And complicated. But I do like complexity. Hmm...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Beautiful Oregon

My in-laws recently moved from Dallas to Portland, so we went for a visit. It's hard to believe places like that really exist, the exquisite beauty of water and mountains and huge trees.
Ted and I decided we need to live next to the ocean.
Gorgeous flowers were everywhere. These were at a local park.
We couldn't believe how big even the fruit was in Oregon.
This is the view from Garry & Rachel's living room window. Sigh.
Rachel & Garry with their "babies," next to a community garden. I wish we had one here!
Their house- just kidding! I saw this in the woods and had to take a picture. I'm not sure where I'm going to use it in my art, but I just love the crumbling structure.
We had a picnic lunch in a little park off the beaten path.
After lunch, we walked on the trail nearby. It was like stepping back in time.
Suddenly a curve in the trail revealed this waterfall!
Ted wanted to get in, but I wouldn't let him. I'm a stick-in-the-mud, I know.
Multnomah Falls is breathtaking.
At the bottom of the falls.
We took a trip down the coast and stopped by these amazing trees. They don't grow this tall in Texas!
Our view when we looked up.
It was pretty chilly there- a welcome relief from 100+ degree days in Texas!
This is the 250-300 year old "Octopus Tree."
Did I mention we want to move to Oregon?...
It seemed like everywhere we looked was picture perfect.
Some of the cliffs we passed along the way.

Needless to say, I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Featured in Etsy Treasuries

Thanks to TheForestFaery and RiniMugginsVintage for including my photo "English Countryside" and my painting "Survivor" in their Etsy treasuries! I think it's my 6th or 7th time to be included in a treasury, and each time it blows me away. Especially when I consider the other amazing artists included. Thanks for supporting local art!

shades of Pemberley


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