April 28, 2011

Parking Lot Angel

Written Jan. 13, 2011
Lettered with simple scribe's tools found in purse, a Uniball pen and 2HB pencil. 

There are angels among us.

Today I was walking to my car in the Lowe's parking lot, juggling two gallons of paint, rollers and stir sticks, a purse that was much bigger than it needed to be, and a styrofoam cup of coffee that was much smaller than it needed to be.  A kind, older gentleman saw me struggling and offered his assistance.  As he walked away I wished him a wonderful day.  He simply said, "It's one of a kind, isn't it?"  I turned around and stared at him.  Could it be?  An angel sent to me -- placed in my path to wake me up to this day?  His words were so simple, so profound, so necessary they could have only come from one place.  I have been running too fast, allowing fear to control my priorities and uncertainty to order my day. I have forgotten to make room for joy.  It's easy to do that, isn't it?  To get sucked into a certain type of day, week, month that if it was your last you would weep at all the loss.  My parking lot angel spoke so loud to me today he could have been screaming.

We are moving to New York.  I haven't had time to blog, to create, to sing, to read to my children.  Soon I will be driving away from everything that is safe and familiar.  I have to admit that as we prepare our house for sale and pack up memories that came from this special place, I am not making room for joy.  I am only making room for fear.  My days are all about holding on to any shred of peace I can find.  And because of all that holding on, I'm not finding any.  I have completely forgotten how to live and love this day in my frantic pursuit of creating a perfect "tomorrow" for my family.  But this day is one-of-a-kind, my parking lot angel reminded me.  One-of-a-kind.  Unique.  Pertaining to a singular example.  Never to be repeated.  And certainly not to be wished away.

I hesitated to get in my car in case he had more words for me.  My angel had stopped and was looking in amazement at a souped-up truck parked next to my minivan.  Chuckling, he pointed to the truck and repeated, "It's one of kind, isn't it?"

Though my parking lot angel ended up being just a man who appreciates a nice truck, my God remains a God who speaks to me in unexpected ways when I need it most.

April 26, 2011

Play for Me Kokopelli

©2009 Shannon M. Wilson
Though I created this a long tine ago, I remember lettering it like it was yesterday.  It was the first time I had attempted layered and circular text of one of my first paste paper backgrounds.  I remember studying pictures of sweet Kokopelli and his feather-laden hair and trying to reflect the spirit of the southwest in the colors and textures.  It was a gift for my mother on the occasion of her 65th birthday.  (To say her  home decor has a southwestern flare is an understatement.)  

It wasn't the art that made her cry, it was the words that accompanied it -- a beautifully presented little speech by my oldest son comparing her to the mythical flute-playing character that can be found all over her house.  As the kids and I studied the history of this figure that is sacred to many Native Americans, we had to laugh at the similarities between the two of them -- mischievous, whimsical, joyful, charitable, musical, bringer of joy.

Kokopelli was a wanderer who carried songs on his back.  Representing everything pure and spiritual about music, he brought good luck and fortune to anyone who listened.  His flute was said to symbolize happiness and joy.  When he played the sun came out, the snow melted, grass began to grow, birds began to sing, and all the animals gathered round to hear his songs.

You can see the same reaction in the children, grandchildren and students that sit at my mother's feet as she "sings" her love for them through her teaching, her stories, and her infectious energy.  She believes in the potential of each child and student so fiercely that they end up believing it too, and that's when the magic happens.  Their special gifts (that were always there) start pouring out and lives are changed.  

Whatever the true meaning of Kokopelli, our family knows him as an endless source of joy -- just like my mother.

I'm sharing this piece here, now, because our recent move to New York took her daughter and grandchildren away from her. I wanted her to know, again, how much she's loved and missed and thought of.  I know she is asking herself, "What now?," with her grandchildren far from home.  I want her to remember that it is children she influences and there are hundreds near her wherever she is and wherever we are.  She has only scratched the surface on what she has left to give.  I love you, Mom.  Hang in there.

April 24, 2011

First Easter Away from Home

It's our first holiday without family and the feeling that something is missing is casting a shadow over this otherwise beautiful day.  I know that time is going to make it easier as we form new traditions and break bread in other ways, but we still have to do today, don't we?  I've never cooked an Easter meal.  My mom, in-laws, and siblings have taken care of that for me for 42 years. (Can I show my heartfelt appreciation to you all now?!)  I joked with Mom on the phone today that Taco Bell was on the menu because it's easy to fall into that "What's the point?" mentality.  But that's the cup-half-empty way of approaching this new season and I can't let that dominate.  My kids are watching.  God is watching.  The five of us will break bread together tonight, and talk about how great the food is in our rental farm kitchen, and how blessings continue to rain down on this family.  We'll talk about new beginnings and hope and freedom -- messages that echo today's Easter service and our family's journey.  We'll talk about how crazy an easter egg hunt can be across 55 acres of wooded farmland.  And we'll raise our glasses to the rest of the family we love and miss terribly on this important day.

Here are some pictures from our hunt.  It was cloudy and mild, but the rain held off and it was perfect.  Even if we didn't find all the eggs.

Drew hid 88 eggs over a half-mile trail.  The kids found 77 on the first swipe.

Drew continues to remove any doubt that the Easter bunny is a farce.
Coyote candy.  Syd, seriously, put that down.
Thinking of you.

April 20, 2011

Change is Here

Lake Michigan one last time before the move.
We can do this.  Together.

Hello, my dear friends.  I have missed you and this blog more than you know. Before I jump right back in, though, I feel like I owe you an explanation.  Change hasn't just crept in since my last post, it has knocked me over.  That beauty I was longing for in my October post?  I'm sitting in the middle it of it, but it was preceded by a whole lot o' ugly.  (Sounds a little like my faith journey, now that I think about it.)  I couldn't fill you in as it was unfolding, because many of the steps called for and still call for discretion, but here is what I can say.

Incredible tension and pain has been a big part of our family's life because of impossible professional relationships with family members.  Things finally came to a head, our choices got fewer, and we had to make a difficult decision. That decision took us far away from the people we love.  In the last 6 months my husband and I and our three young children have survived the termination of a partnership, a heart-wrenching resignation, a season of unemployment, a job search, a home sale, and a cross-country move away from family and dear friends.   In retrospect, I wish I would have blogged throughout, but I was too overwhelmed and probably a little afraid to admit what I was feeling.  My faith can be so weak when I'm being called to trust in an outcome I can't see. I will post something from January, though, that I wrote in the thick of it because it's a message I want to remember, and is one that might resonate with some of you.

I have very few of my art supplies here with me, because we are in a rental house and all my belongings are in a storage shed states away.  My medium may have to be photography and words until we are settled in a house of our own, so this blog will be taking a slight detour for the next few months.  Thank you for sticking with me, though, and for your emails of support during my absence.  I have truly missed you all and can't wait to work creatively alongside and amongst you again.

April 14, 2011

More Farm Joys at the Rental House

Below are a few more shots of the Carriage House and the things we've been doing this week. We are now officially enrolled in the new school and the kids have seen their classrooms, met their teachers, and know where to go when they got off the bus.  Seth is thrilled that Kindergarten is only half-day (with no full-day option) and will only be in school for 2 1/2 hours (slacker).   Lucas is excited to have a locker and that his teacher leads the drama club.  Syd is giddy that she gets to change into shorts and t-shirt for gym.  Hmmm...was it really that simple?  

I miss you all. It's been a whirlwind for the past six months and I have been swept up by all the activity.  But life is simpler and quieter here, and I can feel the moment coming when I'm going to be blindsided by the truth of all we've left behind.  Having the kids home with me has been a blessing, but it has also helped me avoid the loneliness I know is coming.  I pray God will feather my landing the way he has feathered my children's with the beauty and joy of this farm.  I pray the solitude that is around the corner will force my reliance on Him even more, because that's when I'll know I'm going to be okay.  I pray the same for the friends and family we've left behind, an even more difficult place to be.  

Here are some more pics:

This place is cozy and clean and has everything we need to be a family.

There's a den in the back of the apartment we're using as the kids' playroom.  It's where they watch movies and play Wii while Drew and I carve out some time for ourselves.  

There's a small deck off of FR for coffee in a.m., wine in p.m., and grilling dinner.

Here's the FR with great views of the farm from both windows.  My computer station is set up (on left) so I can take it all in while I'm writing/reading.

Kurt taught Lucas how to drive his tractor (with Seth and Syd in tow).

Occasionally the kids get to join in simple farm chores. Here Lucas is taking pruned raspberry bush branches over to the burn pile.  Syd and Seth know where to find the eggs, "little farm miracles," as described by Joyce.  

The chicks have arrived!!  There are eight of them and Joyce described them as "cotton balls with legs."  As soon as she said that I knew Syd would have a friend in her for life.  They talk the same language. :)

April 10, 2011

You Can Hear a Pin Drop

And a woodpecker peck.  And the sheep cry out for leftovers from their new friends.   I can see wild turkeys in the distance impressing their love interests with their full-feathered strut.  I can see the woods brimming with life and the field voles tempting the hawks that circle overhead.   This place is beautiful, but oh, the sound of it.  Most of you who know me know what sound can do to me -- it has the power to move me into a rage or in this case, to usher me into peace.  It is completely silent here except for the sounds of things of God.  I was prepared for the beauty, and the allure of the animals, and the quaintness of the carriage house, but not for the silence.  Thank you, Father in Heaven, for knowing what I needed. 

We are renting a 1300 square foot Carriage House that sits a few hundred yards back from the owner's main house.

The openness of the property and views is breathtaking.

The sheep and chickens have already warmed up to the kids and get all our leftovers.  I've never seen the kids eat so little. :)   Baby chicks are coming next week and we'll get to see them bond with a "foster hen" in a makeshift nursery.    While Drew is at work, the Andersons (owners) offered to take us to a nearby farm to see a 2-week old foal.

The owners have 55 acres of private field, forest, and rolling hills.  Mr. Anderson gave us a tour of all of it yesterday and showed the kids how to follow the stream home if they ever feel lost.  We learned how to identify different trees by their bark, and to watch the forest floor for deer and coyote tracks.  He is an Eagle Scout and loves to teach.  What a blessing.

It's hard to give you a sense of the topography with pictures, but there are ridges and ravines and mountains in the distance -- all safe for the kids to explore.

The farm is about 500 feet above sea level, but 6 miles up the road is the John Boyd Thatcher State Park, which is at 2000 feet above sea level.  The hiking is going to be incredible with the cliffs and the 300 foot waterfalls.  We aren't in Indiana anymore!

Pulled this photo from Wikipedia.  The Helderberg Escarpment is full of rocky cliff faces and makes for a beautiful backdrop for many Voorheesville homes.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I wanted to try to give you a sense of the place and our well-being.  This rental property has been an unbelievable way to start our season of change.  We have moments of tears and laughter in the same hour, but it's going to be okay. We are going to be okay.  Please don't worry about us.  God is speaking in the silence.

April 7, 2011

First Stop Niagara Falls

Before writing any posts on how sad I feel to be moving away from everything I know and love, I wanted to start with some happy shots from our first family adventure. To split up our drive into two days, Drew looked for somewhere special to stay.  We knew it was going to be an emotional drive and we were hoping a "carrot" at the end of it might give the kids (and us) something else to focus on.  It ended up being the perfect call.  We stayed in a beautiful hotel overlooking Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side. The border patrol was perfectly scary as he slowly reviewed our passports and asked us to remove our sunglasses, adding great drama to the experience. The hotel was as amazing as its pictures online.   Though the town felt a bit like Gatlinburg with its casinos and souvenir shops, what was authentic was the closeness in this first picture.  The day was exhausting, and emotional, and not without its tense moments. But we're doing it. Bit by bit. Together.  I so appreciated the kids' attitudes and fearlessness and love for each other -- no small thing today.  

The first of many family moments in this adventure...

Kind Canadians gave us a premium (and free!) upgrade to help make up for our family's difficult day.  Those are the United States falls you see behind Seth through our bedroom window.

What's a trip to Niagara Falls without the staged "I'm falling!" shot?   Leave it to Sydney.