Category Archives: learning curve

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.






The last two weekends I have spent up in Marquette, MI taking classes for my American Red Cross instructors training.  My goal is to teach all the lifeguarding and first aid classes at camp.  Lifegarding was one of my first jobs when I was 16 and I still love the water today.  Here’s what I learned; 6 hour drive x 4 = totally great experience!  I had this hidden fear of bad weather, driving over the mackinaw bridge, getting lost but every part of the trip just divinely worked out!  I had a great class with four fire fighters,  whom I just came to love for their humor and bravery – I am not sure I could find better stories anywhere else.  This is what they were up to Friday night between classes. Yup, full on water rescue in frozen lake Superior.DSC_0902
The first weekend I made a little retreat and the second a connect with friends.  I could easily fall in love with this little community although they warned me “don’t tell anyone we are up here…”  There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground and blizzard like conditions a few times.   These photos are from my last few days there, beautiful blue sunshine and a bit of exploring, and a taste of spring.  See what I found…. perfect!DSC_0910 DSC_0908 DSC_0909 DSC_0890 DSC_0903

cont edu…

I think our kids school district is trying out a year-round calendar unknowingly through snow days…  we have surpassed the alloted days, so every day from here on out will be tacked on in June.   Oh joy!   While my kids are happy to be out of school, I am eager to jump back in.
I tried to get into this class at Hollanders last fall but it sold out too quickly.  This past weekend I had another shot,  Barbara Brown did an excellent job teaching us how to make these gorgeous leather wrap journals.  See those paper signatures all those pages were torn by hand and using a paper knife… not my favorite part, but I love the sewing!  I thought this design would be a great use for some of my buttons and beads.  Beyond that I just always feel a boost of creative energy whenever I take a class,  it helps me beat the winter blues…


A few other folks in the class let me take some photos of their work,  I am always amazed to take part in classes with such talented people.  It wasn’t too long ago I just longed for this kind of experience but failed to follow through, paralyzed by insecurities, scheduling, and fear of costs. Have you taken a workshop in something you are interested in lately?  It was an investment worth while,  here I’ll give you my top 3 reasons.
  1. It builds your resume and confidence in your craft.  Taking classes often leads me down new paths.  I have gained confidence in my artwork and exploring creatively.
  2. It is a source of entertainment.  There are a ton of classes/workshops out there to fit every budget.  I got on my computer and searched for classes in my area and online.  I am excited to start this clayer class next month, I get to participate from my own studio!
  3. It is cheaper and more effective than therapy!  It is hard to stay in a funk when you are learning something new that you are interested in. It typically gives me a jolt of productivity as well (who couldn’t use a few tons of that!)

Cheers to learning!


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goal one: Adventure

new cook

Is it too late in January to talk goals?   I realized that many of my “goals” stay the same from year to year.  About four years ago I went on a retreat which encouraged writing a “life rhythm,” which focused on healthy personal habits for a balanced life.  I still keep that list close, not as a checklist but a way of living.  Much of the work was based on this book.  That being said I haven’t created many out-of-the-box goals in quite some time.  Except the ice cream one… has it been two years!  So not to be too vague but the first goal is;

ONE: Follow the Adventure.  


1 a : an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks  b: : the encountering of risks <the spirit of adventure>

2 : an exciting or remarkable experience <an adventure in exotic dining>
3 : an enterprise involving financial risk

I am not sure how to tangibly obtain this yet and that third definition scares me.  But it will involve cooking and running…  I recently ordered this cookbook – I think I could eat it the pictures are so beautiful.  It also does a good job of giving substitute ingredients.  We don’t have too many fancy ingredients here in Amish country …  although I did find Marscapone at the store the other day.  I bought it immediately and searched for a recipe later.  Mmmm chocolate cake.

massai & magic

It has been a GORGEOUS fall here in Northern Michigan, so we have been taking to the tree house in our back yard for reading time.  Fitting as I was reading a “Magic Tree House” book with my kids the other day, I started reading out loud chapter books with them when they were very young.  As we read about the bees, lions and masai warriors my kids were fighting to see the pictures first, so I turned one of the five pictures in the book and then I thought to myself, wait a minute…  I’ll show you a picture of a massai warrior!  I ran inside and grabbed my photo album and leafed through our safari pages and there is my beautiful first born daughter held by two massai tribesmen.  What a neat thing to be able to  1. read to your child,  2. let them get wrapped up in the story line, and 3. personally identify with it….  I turned to S,  “you have  been to this exact place” this book is talking about.  It didn’t take magic, just a little following Jesus.

Don’t forget where you have been friends, it grounds you for where you are going in the future.  Falling in love with reading, adventure and mommy time is great but it is nothing compared to trusting and obeying Jesus and the plan he has for you.

one check off the list…

I survived…. and I’m embarrassed it’s already Friday…

Last Saturday, it rained on and off all day, down right pouring at times, most instance it sent all vendors scrambling to the sides of their tent to hold them down or move stuff inside.  I think I was on a lucky corner, somewhat protected from the elements.  My stuff ended up being moved all over the place, mostly from the rain.  On the bright side, there was a steady flow of people, even a few from our town who came up to support me – so sweet of them!    I did reach my goal I had set ahead of time and it was just such a great learning experience.  I am so thankful my sister was able to help, she was awesome!

A couple of sweet things, I scored the shelving unit from a potter who didn’t need them anymore,  after a little stain and new shelves, they were so sturdy and held so much stuff.  Also, I had originally planned to paint a backdrop for my tent, but truthfully it was an epic fail!  On Friday I took a picture of one of my books and added my name and had a friend at camp print it on vinyl, another friend had a grommet maker for the corners.  In the end I am glad my first sign didn’t work out, the back-up plan turn out so much better!


I was afraid to leave my tent all day, so I only got around to a few other vendors.  One thing that I could see from my spot was this adorable crocheted bunting.  After glancing over at it all day, I finally struck up a conversation with the crafters and ended up with a trade for one of my mugs!   I am glad I got to bring something home,  selling vs attending a show is just a totally different experience.   It is good but it is a lot of work! I think I’ll try something indoors next…


“serving boats”

Ready!  Three kiln loads in the last two weeks, everything is priced, packed and ready to go. This article was super helpful to preparing.  Now all I need is a little sunshine for the weekend!  I love how these wood-grain canoe “serving boats” turned out!  I am very ready for fall and comfort food, can you tell?

since monday

Since Monday I have been busy working down in the studio.  I am trying to squeeze one more kiln load in before the Cadillac Artwalk next weekend.  I am really enjoying repetitive shapes lately, and monday was all about large soup mugs with textured handles.  I used my carved feather to press into the handles and have a little series of feather print journals coming soon….    I also carved some new stamps to press into clay after they are bisqued, can’t wait to try these little guys out.  The last photo is a pinterest inspired work, clay bangles that make a lovely clanking sound when worn together!

I am brainstorming how to work this summer when two little girls are off school.  Nevertheless I am planning on doing a few (indoor) shows this fall, I always get more accomplished when I have a goal.  Anyone know of any good ones in Michigan that I should try?

winter/spring book list

These are the books that have been accumulating on the little woven chair next to my bed.   At certain times they are scattered about the house, lost for a time, until peeked interest goes looking for it again.  I have been rotating chapters over the last few months, unaware of the growing pile.  Each has its own little place and time for this infrequent and “the atmosphere has to be just right” reader.

Mercy, love, thankfulness, gratitude, redemption, fullness, shaping, forgiving, transforming – If I could just finish them I would be a better person.

There is one more book that I should have added to the stack. It is not one that can be checked off the list but is the foundation of the pile.  Yet,  it too was misplaced this week, lost under a pile of papers, but unlike the others it did not yield an organic search but a rather frantic one.  It was very apparent to me without MY bible I felt very lost.  Somehow this worn book with creased pages, coffee stains and underlined portions feels like a passport to my soul – my ticket to travel/ move.  It is quoted in every one of those books pictured above, they aim to explain and grasp it’s principles and promises.  To the one seeking it will never disappoint, to the skeptic it is not revealed.

I’ve been happily reunited with MY book,  if I read it daily for as long as I live I know it will transform my heart, mind, marriage, children, attitude, everything I hold dear.

for the love of buttercream.

This year I made a lemon blueberry marble cake for my birthday.  All from scratch, three intense steps, and yes despite my spouse’s offer to make it, I made my own cake.  No ice cream.  And the buttercream frosting almost ruined the whole day.  Which my sweetie quickly googled “how to save buttercream frosting”  who knew it would yield so many people with the same trouble!   The inside looks better than the outside, isn’t that a good metaphor for aging.  Isn’t it better to be more beautiful on the inside.