Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Artistic Mother

Beauty does not exist to be ignored, rather it is a reflection of the soul that invites our participation.                           ~Linda Saccoccio 

There are so many things I could say about my mother.  I could tell you about her gentle voice whispering, "Bless your baby heart" when I was sick. (I heard those words during my last illness.)  I could tell you how I loved racing her to the door when Daddy came home to see who got the first kiss.  I could tell you how passionate she was about Christian Education (she always said she'd take me piggyback if she had to). Or how she was always waiting when we came home from school.  I could tell you I never once questioned her relationship with God, because it shined through every part of her life.

Mom and I -- 17 years younger!
But as I was thinking about this post, the thing that kept coming to mind was her love of beauty.  I don't think we ever used anything ugly --  whether it was an ironing board cover or a pencil.  Why use something ugly when you could just as easily use the beautiful.

From my earliest years I realized my mother epitomized a Sheltering Tree -- always creating and giving to others.  But each gift for others, whether a homemade cinnamon roll or a bouquet of flowers, had a beautiful ribbon tied around it.  The quote by Vincent van Gogh -- I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people -- describes my mother perfectly.

My mother (with Mary Ann Clark) is standing on the left.

Her artistic gene was evident in everything she did, whether sewing dresses for me or making scrapbooks long before it became a fad. Throughout the years my mother tried about every medium available to her.  Classes for oil painting, water colors, drawing, homemade paper, ceramics and china painting -- Mom enjoyed every project, and I quickly learned to admire them all.  None of my friends' mothers appreciated and created beauty with the same intensity as my mother, and I was so proud of her.

I remember a picture Mom colored with me -- a simple picture of a skater.  She colored the girl's outfit red, then shined it with a tissue.  The white fur was finished the same way.  I would love to have that picture, but the one in my mind's eyes is very clear. Mom could transform a coloring book into an artistically flavored coffee table book!

She always supplied me with craft projects, making each trip to the craft store such fun.  We found projects were more fun when we were both enjoying the same one.  We wove baskets together, cross stitched, and experimented with a myriad of creative ideas.

Today she spends her creative time designing beautiful cards like the one she made to congratulate Emily for her regional convention successes.  Just this week my aunt spent time with her to make cards.  She still shelters others and all her thoughtful gifts are still tied with a ribbon.

My mother brought beauty into my life, not only through the artistic gift given by God, but by creative parenting, home decorating and a lifetime of sheltering.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."  My mother found beauty and carries it with her.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  I love you.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Women of Influence

Mentoring is relational interaction in which one person empowers another by sharing their God-given wisdom, experience, and habits of obedience to God's word.  ~Rachel Olsen

 Hands down, my mother was -- and is-- the biggest influence on my life.  However, since it's not yet Mother's Day, I want to celebrate some of the other women who have mentored me throughout the years.  In Titus 2:3-5 Paul tells us, These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children,  to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. Having a mentor empowered me to be all God planned for us to be. 

At 18 I went from my childhood home to marriage and living on a college campus.  Life changed for me in a hurry.  Those were the days before free cell phone minutes so calling my mother every time I had a question was out.  The wife of the college president, Marlene Beers, became my mentor and continues to this day.  She taught me the practical in the form of recipes and household hints.  She was there when the college quartet sang at a tiny West Virginia camp that provided two dorms: a men's dorm and a women's dorm.  As a new bride I would have preferred to be with my husband but Marlene made it fun.  She was always there to pray with me, share insights into Scriptures and encourage obedience to God even in the small things.

I suggest Transforming Together
by Ele Parrott
And oh, how we laughed.  Marlene has an contageous laugh.  Throughout my seven years of infertility, her exemplary teaching about mothering proved invaluable.  She also taught me how to honor and respect RB, again by example.

From Ohio, we moved to Indiana where another mentor entered my life.  Janet was our senior pastor's wife and soon became a dear friend.  I cannot begin to tell all I learned from her.  We laughed, we cried, and she helped birth my babies.  She also ate pounds of potatoes with me in the weeks after Sarah died. 

Decorating, entertaining and cooking together...walking the track, shopping and road trips were all filled with non-stop talking and a chance for me to learn from someone who walked my path.

There were others throughout the years who touched my life -- Wanda Moser, Grandma Arnold, Granny Golden, Marcile Lane -- all mentored me in some way. 

Being a mentor doesn't require training or perfection.  You don't have to hit the perfect age or have a PhD.  You must, however, love people and have a heart for God.  That's all. 

Follow these Biblical examples to become a mentor:

1.  Be an example.  Hannah has quite a story.  First she endured the "nanny-nanny" of Penniah, her husband's other wife, because of her infertility.  Then she was accused by the Priest of being drunk.  But when God blessed her with a son, she turned around and gave him back to God, keeping the vow she had made to God.  Be free with your story.  If you experienced someone hurting you, share your feelings.  Was it hard for you to see your child leave home to prepare for ministry?  Be honest. Were you accused of something you didn't do? Share the pain.  Authentic mentoring means telling your story.

2.  Share a Bible Study.  Lazarus' sister, Mary, loved learning from Jesus.  My guess is that she shared her new-found knowledge with others.  Help develop Godliness by studying the Bible together.  Show how to apply the Scriptures to everyday life.

3.  Minister together.  Dorcas used her needle to minister to others.  Teach a younger woman a craft such as sewing, knitting or crochet, quilting or flower arranging.  Then use the skill together to minister to others.  Crochet or knit a prayer shawl, arrange flowers for the elderly in care homes.  Make a quilt to give to a homeless shelter or a baby blanket for a pregnancy care center.

4.  Plan times for listening. In the course of grieving for her husband and son, Naomi still had time to listen to Ruth's sadness.  She told her so much about her God that Ruth chose to make Naomi's God, her own God.  Meet at the coffee shop for a latte.  Walk together.  As you listen to the young woman's heart, you will be able to share your God.

5.  Use life-lessons to teach.  Abigail sheltered through hospitality, packing a big picnic lunch for David and his soldiers even though her husband refused to share.  Moses' mother sheltered through mindful parenting, saving him for leadership.  The widow lady who made Elijah a cake sheltered through cooking.

 "A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could (unknown).  Ask God to guide you in the area of mentoring.  Keep your heart tender and open.  Mentoring is  a Biblical command -- a beautiful way to shelter.

* * * * *

Has there been someone who has mentored you?  Why not give them a small gift this Mother's Day?  Here's an easy gift idea -- I haven't found anyone yet who didn't like this mix.

5 c. Rice or Corn Chex
3 c. Cheerios
2 c. stick pretzels
2 c. pecan halves
2 c. marshmallows
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 lb. white chocolate

Stir first six ingredients together, melt white chocolate and pour over dry ingredients. Stir to coat. Pour out on wax paper to dry.

I made the cone from one 12" x 12" piece of scrapbook paper, rolled into a cone and glued.  After I filled it with the mix I covered it with cellophane and tied a bow around it. 

For another idea to fill your cone check out Homespun With Love.  Kristin punched holes on the side and made a ribbon handle.  Livy from A Field Journal made these musical cones.  Wouldn't they be perfect for a music recital?  Here's an idea from Save-On-Crafts, and I can't wait to try these smaller ones from Split Coast StampersFamily Crafts has an idea a child can make -- check out the flowers they fill them with.  My kind of flowers! 

I'm sure you can come up with others throughout web-land.  If you have other ideas of what to fill the cones with I'd love for you to share them.  I'm getting addicted to this packaging!

Linking to