I love working with small businesses/non-profits and start ups – it’s a sweet spot for me and a niche that I will always be passionate about. When a local client I had worked with in the past contacted me to help her with her brand from the ground up, I delightfully said yes. I updated her logo, gave her a slick new ecommerce website, and took photos of her beautiful handiwork. Her stunning jewelry designs made my job easy! All I had to do was hire a model (thank you Laurie!) and scout a location, and let the true beauty of the work shine. I wanted to share a few of the images from the shoot, because I’m just so in love. Thanks for looking! If you love the pieces, check our her website.
There was a slow-moving storm looming dark and heavy in the distance. I looked at the storm, then at the very lengthy looking pier and back at the storm again, wondering if we could beat the impending rain. The cost was clear – we can either risk getting wet but see the amazing ocean view from the pier, or just stay nestled in our RV doing nothing. We had 3 months of rubber tramping under our belt, and I’d learned by this time to embrace the adventure of the journey, so my sons and I decided to literally throw our caution to the ocean wind and walk to the end of the pier and back – almost half a mile.
There hadn’t been even one lone sprinkle yet, so we took our time. The boys, aged 5 and 4, stopped by every point of interest – the bloody fish cutting table, the discarded guts littering the well-worn boards, the seagulls in abundance that were loitering unabashedly for their chance at dinner. We watched the fishermen in rain parkas cast their long weary lines over the sides – meanwhile the clouds grew closer, the wind picked up speed and we had just made it to the end of the pier when I felt the first hair-raising sprinkle land on my arm.
Quickly, we hooded our heads with our jackets and we began the long rush back toward the oceans edge, this time, ignoring all the side shows. I remember the giant crashes of the waves below us getting stronger and more violent. The storm grew increasingly intense, and so did my remorse. The heavens were our catechism, every drop was our scourging. The fishermen were bailing out of their posts and heading towards shore. The boys were yelling but still ok, while I was experiencing equal parts regret and blithe merriment as I ran the length of the pier.
I try to err on the side of squeezing the most out of moments in life, so as we reached the mouth of the pier, I was still glad we had made the trek. By this time though it was pouring down rain and visibility was low, so I gently pushed my wet little ducks inside the first shelter I could find – the public restroom facilities. Once under it’s covering, I surveyed my children and the dark surroundings. I saw that we weren’t the only ones to take refuge in this communal space. The rain pelted down fiercely and my heart was matching its rhythm. Huddled into this small refuge about the size of a hallway, there were half a dozen people, all similarly soaked, but none looking even slightly bereaved. In fact, most of them seemed happy about this sudden plight. Discarded nearby were backpacks and bed rolls, and they had a rather gypsy-like appearance, so I quickly summed up, these were not tourists or regular fishing folk. These were the area riff-raff.
Of course as a parent, I immediately began the brain gymnastics of trying to decide which would be worse, stay here with these potentially dangerous strangers, or brave the storm while running the rest of the way to our house on wheels. As I was cartwheeling through the latter thought, an older gentlemen walked up to us. “Can I take your jackets? Dry them off for ya?” the man said. “Oh, really? Ok sure,” I said doubtfully. He smiled warmly, and I felt my self relax a bit. “He’ll take care of ya,” the woman beside me said confidently. She had a pretty face, though it looked like years of wandering had etched the lines deep into her visage, making her look much older than she really was. She introduced herself and the man next to her as we took off our rain soaked jackets and handed them off to the old man. I watched him carry them off into the men’s side of the restroom facilities and heard him turn on the hand dryer. He WAS drying our jackets. I felt guilty for even doubting him as his act of kindness warmed the rest of the chill off my heart.
“Stephanie” Oil / oil pastels on paper
The woman, named Stephanie, told me they were just passing through the area. They’d been traveling-wandering-roaming? like this for months or maybe years. They go where they want, when they want to and have seen things and places that most people only dream of. I held the boys loosely as I listened, one with each hand while these fellow nomads told me their stories.
I’m proud of my children in these situations – they’ve been in enough diverse environments to not really know any type of fear or prejudice towards people that may be in a less fortunate circumstance than their own. For this I’m grateful. I’ve always tried to straddle the fence when it comes to exposing them to parts of the world that are not always pretty, while also trying to keep them safe. Here’s the thing though that I’ve learned about living a life that’s meaningful and following Jesus – it’s not always safe. It’s risky and radical. Hanging out with a bunch of vagrants is considered unsafe and unsound for most good, self-preserving suburban families. But strangely, in this dark and wet shelter far from home, I felt warmth and friendship that I don’t feel in most public settings, dare I say, even church settings. There was a freedom that governed their actions. Freedom to come and go, to stay, to talk, to spend 30 minutes drying our jackets with a hand dryer. This act of love is on a short list of acts of love that have really impacted me in my life. And as the rain subsided, our jackets were handed over miraculously warm and toasty, I said goodbye to our new friends and ushered my children out to the newly sun-drenched world.
I still vividly imagine this micro-ideal world under the canopy of a public restroom, the day I took a small risk and ended up with a rich lesson in love that I will never forget. Love in its purest form is often surprising and always life-altering. I hope to let pure love govern me always in this way, the same way my vagrant friends loved us strangers that day at the pier.
I’ve been sitting on this story for several years now. After some gentle prodding from my husband, and just feeling like it’s the right time, I’m sharing it here. Some of my most profound interactions in life have been with people that would be labeled “poor” or “marginalized.” Over the last few years we have intentionally put ourselves in environments and situations where we are able to get out of our safe “bubble” and let love in. This is one of those stories.
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“Would you like to buy some chickens? I have white chickens, chinese chickens, black chickens…”
So began my friendship with the homeless man named Al, with birds for friends that he jokingly tried to convince my boys and I were his pets. He lived by an abandoned restaurant with a shopping cart packed full to the brim with his only belongings and a sitting chair close beside. He always had someone less fortunate than him nearby who was looking for help – and to that person, Al was their helper. When at first I was getting to know him he told me where he slept. A little restaurant around the block that the owner let him in every night. It was a great deal really. He spent all day in the shade, and had a safe place to sleep at night. “How do you eat every day?” I asked. Ah, his face lit up. “God is good. I am never hungry. I have everything I need. I am happy.”
During our frequent visits he gave me many words of wisdom which I felt proud to have interpreted despite his thick Hispanic accent. What intrigued me the most was his faith in God. He used his time sitting all day to pray. He was not lost in the labyrinth of his own mind like a lot of people that live on the streets. Sitting alone one day, he started to laugh uncontrollably – and he felt worried that he might be like one of those people he sees pass every day and his heart breaks for. Then he did a self-evaluation and determined, “Nope, I’m just very happy.”
One day he called me “Mija” (pronounced, me-ha) which means “daughter” in Spanish. He told me that he is 78 and has a biological daughter of his own, in Texas. He likes living on the streets, well, as far as the freedom goes. But he is old, and his body is deteriorating. “I’m no sissy” he said. But the pain. The pain has been enough to make him cry out in agony. I wish I could take it away. I wish I could give him a nice soft bed to sleep in. But something makes me stop. It’s the occasional inappropriate comment. The look up and down my body and the way his mouth fills with saliva like I’m a piece of meat. I’m confused. It’s like he’s a different person when he acts this way. I know that it is just his old habits, something he used to do so frequently, it’s like second nature. A nature he’s repeatedly told me that God is still working on. “We can only pray and ask God to make us better. And he will.” In those uncomfortable moments, I remind him – I am “mija” – daughter. I say, “I love and care for you like…”
…“like a daughter,” he finishes. The animal look escapes his eyes and his face returns with that familiar warmth. My eyes fill with tears. He sees me, Evie – daughter – and that is enough for that moment.
If we could foster the heart of a daughter towards men. If they could foster the heart of a father towards us. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?
“The way I think about you is not right. But my heart for you is good.” He says with a regretful sadness. I get it. I often feel like I’m teetering on the edge of animal and angel. That there are parts of me that are so filled with light, and then there are dark corners where it seems that not even a tiny pinpoint of sun can get through. My dark room isn’t lust, like Al’s, but it’s a room called anger. And another one that’s called resentment. I walk away from our final encounter and I can feel the Spirit teaching me something else through my friendship with Al. If I don’t let God in those dark rooms, if I don’t get a sledgehammer and start busting out walls to let the light of God in, it will become second nature. I will walk in that room and not even see the difference.
We were moving away. Before we left I gave Al the news and his words to me were, “My heart is breaking.” I assured him that I have friends here that if he needs anything, to call me and I will send help. “I don’t want your friends, I want you, mija.”
“I see myself in your eyes for the very last time.” He says wistfully. Oh how that struck me as so profound right then. Indeed, we do see our reflection in others. Sometimes, we are repulsed by what we see. Sometimes, we are filled with a sense of recognition. In his eyes, I see myself. I see the way I am, and the way I want to be. And oh, the reminder that we are never a finished work – even at age 78.
We said our goodbyes and tearfully parted ways. I don’t know if will see Al again in this life or not. I will treasure the time I knew him, and what he taught me.
That I am mija. Daughter. That identity can change everything. That light can pierce darkness and create life-giving beauty. Thank you, Al. I hope I see you on the other side.
Disclaimer: I have tried my very best several times to render Al’s portrait by memory – unsuccessfully. The above sketch is actually based off of a photograph of astrophysicist, Kip Thorne, who bears his likeness almost to a “T.”
It’s been a little over 6 months since coming off the road. The first 3 months were spent getting our stuff out of storage and settling into our new place, and literally detoxing from the feverish travels over 16 months and 45 states. This home has brought a lot of healing and rest for us. The boys had a very strange mix of not ever wanting to leave the house (major homebodies) and never wanting to be alone – these are symptoms I believe are directly related to being constantly on the move in 200 sq ft of space. While it has been a wonderfully slow change of pace, I have felt restless – the opportunities of things and activities to get plugged into are overwhelmingly present, but frankly, not very life-giving. So, the re-emergence of this blog will hopefully be an outlet for all that I’ve absorbed over the last 2 years and the catalyst for making something new, something meaningful.
I haven’t been bored, the boys take up most of my time, when I do get those rare moments alone, I create, I write, I read, I introspect. And it really feels like I’m about to explode. So here’s what I’ve been up to:
Two years ago something inside me just ignited when I started to explore Science again – I really think it was from homeschooling and teaching the boys that I got so excited about it myself. Since then I’ve been reading everything from the Science of color, physics, astronomy, biology, and everything in between. It’s all incredibly interesting to me. Anyone who knew my in my school days would do a double take, but this self-guided study into the workings of our world has been substantially shaping me as an artist as well. I would love to explore the intersection of art and science more and share it with you.
Through my inquiries in science, it has also caused me to inevitably look at my faith through a new lens – I no longer feel bound to cultural theology or beliefs directly related to my evangelical roots that can’t be proven by the Bible. Even the Bible has not escaped my new scrutinizing eyes, and I do believe that my faith will end up being stronger. How freeing it’s been to look at the world through the light of science and realize, God is not threatened by our findings of the mysteries of the world. In fact, for me it does the opposite – when I find something in nature that directly reveals something I already know about His character, it strengthens my belief rather than shakes it. I think I will always be a student of theology, but I’m finding there are so many other ways of getting to know Him other than through the Bible.
Oh, art. Without having blocks of time to create art I feel incomplete. Art is a direct expression of me and the beauty I wish to convey to the world. Photography, painting, words, design – it all significantly enhances my own life and I hope to do the same for others.
My life would be nothing without being able to stretch out my hands and gifts through the tangible acts of compassion. It’s so wired into my DNA that I believe I would just shrivel up without it. If I can think of the most soul-crushing things to do as a human, at the top of the list would be to life a live wrapped up in the desires and ambitions of oneself. Without the act of loving and giving, I find that everything else has very little meaning. So finding somewhere to serve was at the top of my list – somewhere I can also take the boys along, hoping that they too will learn the value in service to others.
Reading and Writing
My journals have been getting bathed in words and more words. I’m reading more than I ever have been – mostly non-fiction with a sprinkling of fiction. I can’t get enough. That’s one thing I sorely missed when we were on the road – no library access to check out books. Now! It’s just a gift. I read and then follow the breadcrumb trail of other thoughts that reading makes me think of, or another author to check out. Finding the gems, weeding out the dross – it’s like a treasure hunt for truth and beauty that I will never tire of.
We are planting roots in more ways than one – my backyard has become my healing balm and my guilty pleasure. I’m experimenting with growing a small selection of food as well – peas, rainbow chard, herbs, tomatoes. It’s my first time growing something other than flowers, and oh there is SO much to learn. The gift of having a plot of earth to till and care for isn’t easily taken for granted. It’s a lot of work but I can’t imagine anything else I’d like to take up so much of my time.
So those are some things that have been challenging me, feeding me, and richly infusing my life that could easily become mundane in the throes of motherhood. I love the journey more than the idea of any destination. I’m just following where my heart and passion leads and knowing that I won’t be led astray.
So if anyone made it this far…thank you for reading and…What have you been up to?
Florida was amazing. We were there for 3 weeks while Kent worked closely with OneHope on some online intiatives. The boys and I were at the beach often and we came home with some mighty good tan lines. The treasures were abundant on land, shore and in the water. So this collection was hard to put together, just because there was so much bounty.
The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth, It can lie down like silk breathing or toss havoc shoreward; it can give gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can sweet-talk entirely. As I can too, And so, no doubt, can you, and you. – Mary Oliver (via Saturated Palette)
Sanibel Beach was my favorite coastline that we visited – the water was serene, there were no jellyfish and the beach was loaded with shells. I greedily collected all the capiz, abalone, and butterfly shells l could find and even came across magenta seaweed. Amazing!
We are in Tulsa now, settled in for the month of December, and just in time for ice and snow in the forecast. Woo. But it will be nice spending Christmas with family and making some sweet memories of advent and longing for light in the darkness of winter. I hope you are somewhere safe and warm and perhaps enjoying a comfortingly hot beverage. Love to you!
“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.” -Rainer Maria Rilke (via domesticpoetry)
On our travels I’ve been collecting a growing bag of treasures from every place we visit. I don’t have the heart to just toss them out, so I decided to start a series of photographs of the natural findings from every state. South Carolina was abundant in it’s beautiful natural fruits – the leaves were just about to turn so their were a few lucky ones that had already donned their new vibrant hue before it’s lonely descent towards earth. Rocks and flakes of Mica from the sand, bark from the White Birch, exotic wildflowers, bracket fungus, and lovely Dicranum moss were among the found treasures.
I think it will be a fun project, and maybe I can eventually do this for every state!
We are finishing up our visit in Florida this week while Kent works with the organization, One Hope. Florida has been beautiful, but I’ve been really happy to connect with some new friends here during our stay – it’s amazing how quickly one can feel isolated and alone without these kind of relationships on the road. Then, on to Kansas City for Thanksgiving!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments – what are your Thanksgiving plans?
Hey y’all! We’ve been in the South for a few weeks so I’ve gotten the lazy drawl added into my Okie accent. It feels good to just let the words fall out of the mouth like that. If you want to see some highlights of our trip, just visit my instagram or vsco feed. We had such a fantastic time there, and my sister and her family really outdid themselves showing us all the beauty South Carolina has to offer.
I’ve been able to do a few illustration projects, and this spread for Emma Magazine in their November issue was great fun. If you want to get in the holiday spirit, go take a peek at it, it’s beautiful the whole way through! Happy Friday, friends.
This might be my favorite collection yet by my friends at FTM. The Field Guide collection is a welcome to fall with a combination of lush botanicals, painterly florals, and unexpected visitors of the insect variety. Inspired by classic Dutch paintings (think Girl with a Pearl Earring minus Scarjo), the projects are infused with Delft blue, bud green, and yellow ochre. Each one was designed for the hopeless romantic.
We are 23 days into our RV adventure. There have been highs and lows. The first week I was convinced that we wouldn’t make it. It was sweltering hot in Texas, we were still figuring out the new lifestyle and there were so. many. tantrums. My 3 year old is not making the transition easy.
At least by now, Kent and I have figured out that we need to communicate 20x more than we were, have way more grace for each other and just work together as a team. I understand that I show alot of the perfect, serene moments on my instagram feed, but what you don’t see is just as important because it’s reality.
So there are upsides and downsides, as with anything new, and some of them are not mutually exclusive – each point is beneficial on it’s own but there is hardship that comes with even good things in life that are really valuable for growth. Living a life of terrific ease and comfort all the time never really taught anyone anything (that I know of). Here are the top 10 observations from a newbie traveler:
1. Tight space = loss of dignity and personal space
2. Less time to work (for me)
3. No consistency
4. Nowhere to put a screaming child
5. Carsickness Anyone have any tips on remedies?
6. One wrong switch flipped in the RV while driving into a gas station, we all blow up. For realz.
7. Um, I ran out of “downsides”
1. Meeting new people
2. Seeing new places
3. Building love and togetherness as a family
4. A Simpler life
6. Clean the whole house in an hour or less!
8. Focus on priorities in life – relationships, food, water, shelter, work – that pretty much sums it up
9. More time to read, write and journal!
10. A stronger, more intense season of walking with the Lord, listening and abiding
We shall not cease from exploration and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. -T.S. Eliot, “The Four Quartets”
We are in South Carolina right now, soaking up some quality time with my older sis and her family. It’s lovely to be in the south during the fall season. The trees will be turning soon and life is really, really sweet. More updates to come!
Last week was Circles Conference 2013, and just like last year, I left feeling charged, full, and energized for the creative journey ahead. My favorite talk, and most applicable right now, was Ben Jenkins from One Fast Buffalo. Six years ago he traded his overdone life for the bare essentials life of living in an RV. Kent and I got talk to him at the speakers dinner and pick his brain. The main takeaway from our conversation, was, “it’s all about togetherness.” We are 12 days into our journey on the road and that is for sure what I’m seeing. But, more about that later.
He talked about what is essential in life and what is not – and for our journey of simplicity right now, it resonated in a big way. I’m totally stealing this from his talk, but here it is.
The way he sees it there are 24 hours in a day – 8 hours for work – 8 for play – and 8 for sleeping. His best work is done in solitude and he believes that every artist needs solitude plus participation (exploring, interacting with people, etc) for the best work to come. There definitely was a common theme through a lot of the talks about creating more with love and integrity and simplifying so you can experience more and focus on relationships. Lotta Nieminen talked about this when she realized she felt more like a factory than a designer, and she was just crossing projects off the list, not doing them with love.
Too tired and too busy is very American. Slow down. Slow is better. -Ben Jenkins
I also got to meet a designer I admire very much, Megan Gilger. Her talk was wonderful and her slides were just delicious. I love everything she creates, right down to the life that her and her husband lives.
It was so fun to be with other creatives, but not just creatives who are ambitious and talented, but Circles attracts a very special crowd that seems to want more from creativity than just big name clients, money or building a big name. It might sound cliche, but there is definitely a commonality in wanting to use art and creativity for good and to bring change in the world. That is what I love about this conference. I walked away with a lot to process and a lot to build upon.