When you take the leap, and the ground gives way…

9I have been trying to write this post for weeks… at first I was anticipating posting a picture of a shiny new RV that would carry our family to neat places around the country.  We planned an epic adventure, a family sabbatical, one of trusting God and waiting on his timing to reveal what was next for us.  We looked forward to reconnecting as a family, investing in our girls who are rapidly approaching tween years, exploring the beautiful land of the free, and living in the space between.  But in the last few months our plans have taken a drastic change, an unbelievable turning of events.

After we were finished at camp,

after I gave my two weeks notice to the school,

after I communicated the plan for our family sabbatical,

after we found the perfect RV and researched our route,

after I packed half our house,

after I thought the change was enough, I went to the doctor…

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If you want to swim, you have to get wet. Life lessons from the community pool.


Yesterday morning I went swimming at SpringHill for the last time…

At the end of the summer my husband and I made the tough decision to move from this place we’ve called home for the last ten years.  As I struggle for a way to say goodbye and inform all the different circles of people we know here, my heart is overwhelmed.  So I turned back to a passion and comfort, the pool, to paint an analogy of my time here.  What has made this place different?  What have I learned  about “community” living in a small rural town?

My whole life I have been a competitive swimmer.  Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, I spent hours upon hours swimming laps in pools.  These practices were contained in neat rows that classified you based on your speed and ability.  You knew where you stood on the team based on the lane the coach put you in.  The lane markers in the pool kept you not only swimming in a straight line, but served as breakers minimizing your wake, so not to interfere with anyone else’s workout.  We were trained to focus only on our stokes, our time, and our race. Our best individual performance was what helped the team.

For the last 10 years I have been swimming with the community lap swimmers at the camp pool.   Typically I am the youngest in the pool by 20-30 years (sorry ladies:). There are no coaches, no starting blocks, no flags, and there are no such lane markers, nor is there a “fast lane.”  Admittedly, it took me a while to get used to this arrangement, wondering if I could “succeed” in such an environment.  It wasn’t the perfect set up but it was what was available, eventually my love for swimming won out over my need to create an ideal practice environment.  Some days there were few people in the pool, other days it felt crowded, swimmers always gracefully shifted. Over time I realized there was a space for everyone, including me.  Community is about lessening your expectations and embracing what’s in front of you, God grants purpose wherever he places you.

I was greeted each Tuesday and Thursday with waves and smiles from patrons, eventually I learned their stories and they would regularly give me updates.  I fell in love with their characters, I celebrated and cried with them. We became cheerleaders for each other’s weight-loss goals, physical pain and recovery, and intentional journey to be healthy.  We learned who preferred which spot due to their special need, and when someone missed a day, the pool seemed empty.  I always looked forward to the return of the snow birds, who would come back in the summer with stories of their swimming adventures in other locations.  I have swam through many seasons, through pregnancy, after babies, I have slowed down my pace and fought for the right to go during busy times. This last year I had to give up swimming with this group in order to go back into teaching, it was one of the things I missed most.  I still swam at other times but I grieved their presence in the pool; it’s not the place, it’s the people.   To be in community you have to show up and make a routine of it, God desires us to be fully present.

For a long time I felt myself holding back on my workouts… would I look like a show off if I swam the entire set or splashed during my flip turns.  What if someone veered in my spot as I swam, do I slow down?  Go around? What are the unwritten rules to truly fit in here?  I found myself constantly surveying the area around me when I swam, to make sure my strokes didn’t overtake the next persons.  Even so, I grew confident in showing my ability, and allowed myself to push forward, as I grew in my mindfulness of those around me.  We drafted off each others wake and I felt myself pausing as others passed.  My movements affected theirs, and theirs affected mine.   Even though many were not fast, I found myself amazed at their endurance and dedication. They accepted me into their group even with my splashes and wild flip turns.  To become a part of community you have to be vulnerable allowing others to accept both your weaknesses and strengths.

Yesterday I sat on the edge of the pool,  observing the water aerobics ladies who enter just after lap swim and my heart already grieves as I leave.  I loved seeing them around town,  in the public library, the grocery store, at church.  The overlap in a small town is one of the greatest blessings,  it is also one of the things that makes it so hard to leave.  I will always remember running into a lady from lap-swim in the high-school office where I taught, with students all around she publicly declared “Oh Kate, I almost didn’t recognize you with clothes on!”  While the students got a chuckle at it, I felt proud of her comfort level and willingness to accept me and treat me no differently, no matter the situation we were in.  The magnitude of community goes beyond the pool, beyond school, beyond camp, beyond church, beyond town functions, it dwells deeply in the heart.  Living in a place where the “markers” are removed allows for true community to form. The community is the team, together we perform our best.

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backlogs on a “full” year


I never intended a year of silence at least in this space.

My word for 2014 was “full.”   Who even knows what that means until you live the year and reflect on its happenings.  Confidently I can say it was FULL indeed.

I started the year off with some goals, it seemed to be a transition year from full time stay at home mom to whatever God held next.  One of my goals was simply to contribute to our family’s financial picture.  I threw $10,000 out there as a optimistic goal.  But opportunities began to present themselves.

In January, I took on a long-term substitute teaching position at our local high school teaching art (imagine that!)  The first weekend I broke my arm and I learned two things.  First being, I love teaching.  I forgot how much fun it is to be in the classroom.  Second, I could do it with one arm… It was a schedule that worked for our family.

During the lenten season,  I took on another goal/challenge.  I decided to fast using the daniel plan, eating vegan diet for 40 days.  Three specific prayers grew deep in my heart.  One of these prayers was for “what’s next.”   In a small town there are few options to grow professionally, what are the chances there would be something here for me? How could our family “get ahead” and be faithful to where God has placed us?  At the end of lent, the three prayers were still unanswered.  Depressed that I gave up all my “comforts” for silence, I continued to wait for the answers.   Fasting isn’t so much about giving up for getting as it is intentionally withholding and waiting.

During the summer, I was honored to be asked to serve on a committee to interview a new principal and teacher for our local elementary.  After viewing dozens of cover letters and resumes, one thing came to mind… I am never going back into teaching.  It seemed that taking 10 years off was too much.  Look what all these other people have accomplished while I was home raising babies and playing in the mud.

But there’s one thing about comparison, it usually works against us instead of for us.  When God begins a prayer in your heart, be prepared for an answers that defies odds.

Ten days before the beginning of the school year I got a text from middle school principal, saying the current art teacher left, am I interested in applying.   YES. I am amazed to have an opportunity to teach and dive deeper into the community here.  Saying yes, is daunting and life changing.

After reflecting,  I remember my first teaching experience,  the “call” was very similar.  In the small town of Wilmore, there were few jobs around.  Two days before the start of the school year a principal from LCA called because they happened to hear I had an art teaching degree.

How amazing that I have gotten not ONE but TWO personal calls to teach.  I am still in the adjusting and overwhelmed stage but I trust that God calls us to use our giftings and our yeses to FILL our lives.  He doesn’t open doors to see us fail or struggle but to follow after him and grow us it deep ways.






We saw this little guy around all winter.  He has a whole slew of friends, bunnies, birds and deer.  I couldn’t keep from carving such a cute model onto a little print block.  The snow has since melted, I will miss seeing the little tracks, but now I can capture him on some of my new art work…


same thing

loft stripe katharine morling

Living in a small town surrounded by woods, I would never call myself a fashionista…   Not that people don’t care about how they look, heels just aren’t practical on dirt roads.  I didn’t grow up here, so somewhere deep down there’s a little part of me that still likes clothes and dressing up. This desire just usually gives way to chaco sandals and yoga pants…   I am super thankful my whole life isn’t dictated by style and my budget is super thankful too.  Yet every-once in a while I get sucked in and this is how my brain thinks…

a conversation with my husband.
me:  “I really like this blouse” (looking at sites online – of course)
a:    “yeah, that’s cool” (not really paying attention)
me: “It looks like this ceramic artist’s work that I have been spotting on pinterest. ”    
         (now looking on pinterest for said picture)
a:  (looking over trying to catch up and connect what I just said to the photos now in front of him.)
       “I don’t think I could ever buy you clothes.” 
What?  Can’t you see they’re the same thing!
So I have no idea when I will wear it or where to but
I bought it for myself… and a new pair of heels.

walking with warhol


Whew… I just finished 13 weeks teaching for our local art teacher who was on maternity leave.  Truthfully it was a divine appointment.  I needed a season of waking up – GETTING DRESSED – getting out the door – TEACHING – meeting new people – INTERACTING.  I loved it, it was like riding a bike, being back in the classroom.  I accomplished nothing of my own artwork except “examples” but sometimes you just need a season to break away and heal (literally, I also broke my arm the first week.)

I got to make my own lesson plans at the highschool which was a fun creative jog for me.  I pretty much had free reign… except the perimeter to stay in POP art.  This project was based off of Andy Warhol’s artwork – I wanted to steer clear of multicolored portraits and soup cans.  After putting a slideshow together of his work,  I realized that he began his career making shoe illustrations and ended it with these wild designer camouflage prints.  We decided to combine the two for this acrylic painting project.  Shoes are so personal and tell so much about a person – It really did help me to get to know the students better.  They also used design-seeds (I love this site)  to pick color schemes and learned to mix paint to match.  These are all students work,  they did such a great job!

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thin mint ice cream…

thin mint

It’s been a while since I posted an ice cream recipe… but its Girl Scout cookie season.  We have a ridiculous amount of cookies around the house.  Apparently I did NOT plan this well, as I had challenged myself with the daniel fast (vegan) at the beginning of the lenten season.  So no meat, dairy, caffeine, bread with yeast, sugar… chocolate…  ice cream… girl scout cookies.  I gave in and took a bite – it was like manna.

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup vanilla almond milk

1 egg, beaten

2/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

6 precious GS thin mint cookies, crushed

Whip the eggs and sugar together, add the cocoa powder, blending well.  Whisk in the cream, milk and extract.  Pour into an ice cream machine and freeze according to directions.  Mine takes about 20 minutes.  Add the chopped/crushed cookies the last 3 minutes of mixing.  Transfer to freezer safe container.

sweet stuff


I went back to junior high this winter… and high school.   I am having a blast teaching art again.  I think anytime you get a eight year break off your job, there is a honeymoon stage again.  The highschoolers are doing a series of POP Artists, so we started with Wayne Thiebaud, he is most famous for his paintings of bakery cupcakes, pastries, and pies.

I started the unit off by bringing in giant donuts, for them to sketch.  There is a shop by us that sells awesome 7-8 inch donuts for $2 each.    The students drew contour and gestural sketches.  And of course we ate the evidence.  They were a big hit!

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I feel like I haven’t been very present on here this winter…  I have had my hands tied – literally!

I have two little girl scouts and we went to an ice skating event.   Now just to set the record – I am a decent/really good skater.  I am stunned that I  fell to begin with and heaping on my bruised pride, broke a bone.  How humbling to  “fail” at something you are good at.   Normally I would rest at home and heal but I had previously committed to a long term substitute teaching assignment for 12 weeks, and a baby was coming.  I remember thinking “Great, I knew I could teach, but now I have to do it with one arm behind my back.”

That first week my husband also left for Chicago for the week, and it snowed everyday…  were talking bitter cold -20, foot of snow on the ground.  Now someone said to me “I hope you broke it in the least possible way,”  which I truly believe was the case.

I haven’t been able to do any of my normal activities, swimming, skiing, cooking, pottery, but I can still teach!  I am thankful for an activity that keeps me from going stir crazy and uses my gifts. The kids have been super great at school and it helps me emphasize with a number of them that are “broken” as well.  It has been a huge blessing to see friends come forward to help in the smallest of ways – although coming over at 7AM to braid my girls hair for school  is a BIG deal!

( The photo above is the x-ray my daughter made for me). I  am in complete awe of how quickly the body heals.  It has now been about 5 weeks, and I have resumed using my arm.  It is not 100% back but it is so close.


two tangles



I have been working on some zentangles.

A zentangle is a miniature abstract work of art.  It is created from a collection of patterns not meant to represent anything.  I think everything is supposed to represent something, unless someone is upset with me, in-which I reserve the right to say I didn’t mean anything…  They are designed to be made into tiles, each is a surprise that unfolds before the creator’s eyes, one stroke at a time.  The process teaches us to be comfortable letting our instincts be in control, so it does not matter what you add next.

So, I kind of took the “zen” out of it drawing recognizable images.  But this is what my first two looked like…  The one on the left is representative of my haunted shower.

And the right I was reading Matthew 13, can you spot all the parables about “The kingdom of Heaven?”  The sower, the weeds, the mustard seed, the yeast, the hidden treasure, the pearl, the net of fish and the owner of the house.


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