Wednesday, November 28, 2012


This week's theme for Illustration Friday is "Whiskers".

This kitty has a problem with his whiskers.  He's got his head stuck and a mouse just out of reach causing pain in the mean time!

Thanks for stopping by to check out my art work.  Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Story to Share: The Lion and the Slave

This story is from Aesop's fables.  I hope you enjoy it.

There was a once a slave who was beaten by his master

That night the slave ran away into the darkness.

He ran and ran, heading for the desert hoping no one would come looking for him there.

As the sun rose, the desert became hot and the slave looked for some place to shelter.  In the cliffs he found a cave.

Just as he closed his eyes to rest, he heard a sound.  His heart nearly stopped as a huge lion entered the cave.  To late, the slave realized this was not a cave, but a lion's den.

Expecting the lion would leap on him and make him a meal, he was so surprised when instead the lion jumped on him and licked his face, pawing at him.

The lion looked up at him with sad eyes and lifted his paw to the slave.

The slave took the huge paw into his hand and saw a large sharp thorn had gotten stuck deep in the lion's paw which had become sore and swollen.

Carefully the slave took the torn from the lion's paw.  The great beast let out a sigh and again licked the slave's face.

They became friends and shared the cave.

After a while the slave began to feel lonely for people.

He decided to return to town and said good bye to the lion.

As he entered the town, he was recognized and arrested.

His master was angry and decided to make an example of the slave so all other slaves would know that running away was a very serious crime.

The slave was bound in chains and taken to the arena.  A large heavy door came open and a great lion stepped out of the shadows.  The slave trembled as he awaited the pain of the terrible claws.

Instead, the lion bounded to him like a friendly dog and rolled over.  The slave realized it was his friend from the cave and the lion had remembered him too.

The crowd was amazed and called for the slave to be spared.  The Governor of the town was so impressed with the loyalty and gratitude of the lion, he gave the slave and the lion their freedom.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Keeping It All in Perspective

Over the past months I have been considering the book of James.  Within its words is so much wisdom.  And so much that I am missing.  But as I come to verse 9, I have to stop and let the words resonate in my heart.  They are words that should remind me about what is important.  James says, "But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position  and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like the flowering grass he will pass away.  For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away."

On the one hand I might consider that I am the poor man because I certainly don't have what some people have.  My computer is old, my car is old, my TV is old, my clothes are from Goodwill and my home is small.  But then I think of what true poverty is and I am so far removed from that because I do have a roof over my head and my family has more than one vehicle, old as they may be.  I have food for at least 3 meals a day.  I have part time jobs.  Other members of my household also have jobs.  Hmm.  I'm not poor at all.  So I have to consider the words to the rich man instead.

He is to glory in his humiliation.  From there it goes on to talk of death in a veiled kind of way.  For the rich man, death is the great humiliation for everything he has is going to be taken away.  No one can take it with them. Death separates us from everything we accumulated. The poor man is in a high position because he has nothing and is therefore given the opportunity to have greater faith in God's mercy and provision.  The rich man has little need for God, because he will provide for himself, at least that is his perception of things.

I think of the poor of some places in the world where a person might have nothing, not even a shred of clothing.  They may not even belong to themselves but rather are the property of another person... probably a rich man of some sort.

But this post is not a call to feel guilty for having my physical needs met.  Rather I know I have to keep things in perspective.  It is too easy for me to get caught up in plans and goals and forget that all I have is a gift.  I was born in America not by my choice, but because of several great-grandparents choosing to leave their homelands to come here.  I was not born in a place like Somalia which is so poor and war torn and seems to me like one of the most remote places on earth.  I was born to Christian parents who took me to church and so I know my knowledge of God was not of my doing either.  I did not control the conception of my children.  I waited over 3 years for my son to be conceived.  I don't know why I even got that gift when I know of so many who yearn for a child and never receive one.

So much of my life was already decided for me: where I was born, the people I have known, the schools I attended, the shape of my face and sound of my voice, my ability to create art.  These are things that were given to me.  Somethings have been sources of pain. Some have brought happiness.  At the end of it all, the things I do have control over are my attitude towards what I have been given and towards when I have yet to be given.

James says in the midst of his pursuits the rich man will faded away.  The things that I worry over will not last.  The trials of today will pass away as well.  All that I stress over is a storm that will only last the night and in the morning there will be sunshine.  I think that all my worry, which I am feeling towards this pursuit of a career, is for nothing because God himself is the only one who knows how it will all come out and in the end, I will pass away and all that i have done will eventually pass away as well.

It is a very American thing to have a dream and an ambition.  America prospers when our people dream.  But in the dreaming it is important to not forget what has been given which is so easy to take for granted.  James knew his Bible and his words reminded me of the words of Solomon who lives some 1500 years earlier.   In the book of Ecclesiastes he says in Chapter 12 verse 1, "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, 'I have no delight in them'".  I want to remember that I have been created.  I am not self made except in the decisions I have made personally and even these have been effected by the decisions of others.  I am choosing to pursue my dream of being an illustrator, but it cannot become an illusion that distracts me from the realities of life, which are that death is a breath away so I must live thankful for each breath and all that I have in the end has been allowed to me, whether I did something to attain it or not, it is all a gift from God.

I know there are many who say that they are self made.  I know these people have worked hard in their pursuits.  But in the end all that we have will be taken away.  It is to God alone we must answer.  I know to worry is futile.  I place my dreams in to the hands of my Creator.  I trust him.  I have no reason not to.  Even what has been difficult and painful in my life has made me more humble and more grateful and I would not trade that.

Please leave a comment and share how your feel about your dreams and plans. I would love to hear your opinion.  Thanks so much for stopping by to read my post.  It means a lot to me!  May the Lord give you peace which is what we are all really after.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gaining Momemtum

When you have a part time job that doesn't need you as often as you like, it's easy to begin to feel guilty.  I had that problem this past week.  I wanted to go to work and make some extra cash for the family, but at the same time I wanted to stay home and work on illustrations and look for potential markets.  So, I have to remind myself, that even though I didn't get to work much for money now, I did get to work at pursuing my goals which will pay off in the long run.

I went through my art work and found I need to really get focused on creating my portfolio.  So, I got to work making new sketches and plans for pieces that will be good quality.  This is a new experience for me because I have almost always made art as I feel like it, not with great purpose.  Realizing I had so few that suited me was not, I realized, a good excuse to put off setting up a web site where I can display my portfolio.  After all, I need to keep it evolving and changing anyway, so why not start with work I have now?  Not having the quality I think I should have has kept me from go after my dream anyway!  So I now have a domain name of my own and a web site.  Check it out by going to the portfolio link at the top of this page.

Last night I stayed up to get serious about collecting submission information for magazines.  I have a copy of the 2012 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market which is a great place to get started because there is so much information is in one reference. I looked up the listings they have to double check information and get any additional that was left out.  Plus I looked at some of the online samples that some of the magazines have because there is no point in sending a sample pack to a company that wouldn't match up well with my stuff.

I started a sketch with a particular magazine in mind on Thursday evening.  As I have been reading, I get the feeling sending samples that will cater to the magazine's interests might be a better way to get their attention.  Reading, Breaking into Freelance Illustration by Holly DeWolf is so full of great information about branding, marketing, finances and contracts.  I highly recommend reading this book for anyone seeking to become an illustrator.  I am doing the best I can to follow her advice, though I have to say I still feel overwhelmed when I read her book because there is so much to do!

Keeping up with weekly goals is challenging and very distracting, but I'm learning a lot about recognizing when I am stressed, although I have not perfected a method of dealing with it yet!  I'm feeling really excited to be moving forward and I feel like I am nearing a place of action that will allow me to make opportunities to actually do illustration as a job.

I had really mixed feelings about my Illustration Friday entry for this past week's theme, but I know I am still growing as an artist.  I can't let myself get discouraged and quit.  Even if I am not satisfied, which I may never feel satisfied with my work all the time, I have to keep at it.  The momentum is building, so here I go!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Inspiration of Having a Job

Let's get practical today.  I know there are those hopeless romantics out there who are offended by the notion of making art to make money and believe that art should be pure and created by the artist to express himself to the world in order to change it.  They imagine an artist who is tucked away in some dingy apartment in the part of town where all the "creatives" hang out, suffering for his art, living painting to painting, not sure when he'll have money to buy his next meal.  So he writes his brother who has a real job asking for some money, cuts off his ear over some dame and then because he is despondent and misunderstood by a world to hard to recognize his great talent and unique soul, he kills himself, making his art insanely valuable when sold at auction 100 years later.

Okay, that was a little about Van Gogh, who I love and who was really a very troubled man.  I can relate to emotional turmoil.  I've had my share.  But couldn't he have been just as productive if he had not had to deal with that turmoil?  Some one like Michelangelo had his emotional junk too, but he was always gainfully employed and I bet that gave him more inspiration than his inner angst.

I mean, as a creative person, it always helps to get us moving in the productive direction when we have a direction to go in.  Song writers and singers don't just sing to themselves in the shower, they want people to hear them and it sure is nice to have some cash at the end of a gig to pay for gas, a meal and have a little left over for a bank account.  And with times being what they are, we are all feeling a little lean and motivated lately.

When my kids went to school, I had a dilemma   It was time to get a job!  And a full time job is not always readily available at this time in history.  So part time is helping out, but I also realized that a couple of part time jobs can be cobbled together to get closer to a full time job.  Not only that, this extra alone time is a great opportunity.  Needing to pay the bills just adds the fuel.

Pursuing a dream for the dream's sake could have been my motivation, but realistically, I know that I have put off the dream because I always had something else, like a payed by the hour job or children who need my attention.  I can truthfully say I have more responsibilities now and have to schedule my time more carefully than I did pre-kids, so I can't say I am doing this now because of the free time.  There is always stuff to fill the minutes with.  And I am finding I use my evenings more consistently than any other time.  Day time is for my jobs.  So, I want to add another job to my daily to do list.

That makes me feel overwhelmed!  But I keep going back to one thing... I want to have a career as an illustrator.  I want to make cool stuff AND get paid for it.  If I just wanted to make cool stuff, that could wait until I'm retired.  But right now I've got to plan for the expenses of life.  I'm doing illustration because I love it, but I'm going to be honest and say I'm making progress toward that dream because I want to make some money.

Oh no, that totally takes the innocent glow off of the dream.  Makes it sound seamy and greedy.  Yuck.
I love a song by a local singer named, Danny Flanigan, (check out his website by clicking on his name.) where he says, "Money gets me down.  Down because I need it.  What a stupid thing to need!"  I so agree with that and I'm not going to let the lack of money get me down, but I'm going to keep working with the hope of filling that need.

I would love to know how you feel about all of this having a job and needing money thing.  I bet it gets you out of bed in the morning!  Please leave a comment!  Thanks for stopping by!


"Tony zoomed past his mom and grandma when he realized the bus was in front of his house."

"Zoom" is this week's Illustration Friday theme.  Wow, and it has really sucked the life out of me!  I don't know why but I feel so unhappy with aspects of this picture.  I don't know if it is the colors or the perspective.  I feel like the figures are awkward somehow.  Or this could all be just me being so self critical!!

Thanks for stopping by to check out my art and read my rant!  Sorry :)  Anyway, I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

You're awesome!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Strength for the Weary

I woke up this morning feeling the same feeling I've had for the past couple of weeks.  Dread.  Not because anything bad had happened, or that I feared what might happen.  Rather I felt the weight of all the things I had to do today.  I did not want to get up, but I knew the longer I lay there, the less time would remain for me to get my work done.

The act of starting down the road to catch your dream can become a tedious walk after several miles, especially knowing the goal is still miles away.  On top of pursuing that dream there are the day to day responsibilities which are unrelenting and always multiplying.  When I was in college I felt overwhelmed by school and deadlines and study and having to walk through what ever kind of weather to what ever far away building my classes were in.  That was really my only responsibility.  Now, I have 2 part time jobs, 2 kids, a dog and 2 cats, a husband, a house to keep, meals to prepare, and I need to get in some exercise and Bible study.  On top of that I am trying to learn about starting a business in illustration, feeling old and out of date, a slow dinosaur of a computer to deal with, and spending time getting the rust off of my artistic skills.  My friends probably wonder if I'm dead.

This sounds so much like I am complaining and I don't want to do that!  I was praying about all of this in a quiet moment last night.  I don't know that I gave God time to respond, but it did occur to me that the dread comes from internal resistance.  I am resisting all of this.  So I must be afraid, but why?  Afraid of what?  Not getting enough sleep?  I can remember getting pretty grumpy about that when my children were babies, as if they would never grow up and sleep through the night.  Hello, big picture, please!!  I have trouble with that sometimes.  I am beginning to think this is one of those times.

So what is there to fear?  What's the worst that will happen?  I'll get behind on my blogging?  I'll not have time for a couple of days to sit down and draw?  I will get behind on my sleep?  Really, Laura?  Is that it?

I have even wondered if I will be able to handle deadlines and trying to get the work done that I am so eagerly pursuing.  This is when I need to give myself a shake.  I have forgotten something.  I am not alone in this.

When my kids were babies I can remember thinking, "I am all alone in this!  I have to toughen up because I have to get this done - alone!"  Of course, I was not without a husband!  And, I have an ever present Savior who has promised in his word to never leave me nor forsake me (Joshua 1:5, Hebrew 13:5).  But I couldn't think of him then.  I am thinking of him now.

I know I am at the end of the strength I have just like someone who is training for an athletic event pushes themselves until they are so tired they can't go any farther because they know that training will eventually create greater strength and endurance.  In the days and weeks and months to come, this feeling of dread will pass away and I will feel like there is no struggle at all because the One who is the source of my strength will have strengthened me.

In the old days, I would have been angry right now, blaming everybody for how stressed I feel.  The Lord has shown me through those experiences that he is faithful.  I have peace in the midst of my stress knowing I am not alone and Jesus gives me wisdom and renews my strength.

Isaiah 40
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

My hope for you, dear reader, is that you will find your hope and strength in the One who has made you and loves you so dearly.  God's heart for you is tender and he sent Jesus Christ to make a way for you to come to him.  You don't have to be perfect.  All you have to do is believe.  I hope this post has blessed you.  Please feel free to leave a comment.  I'd love to hear from you and say a prayer for you.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review of Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

WonderstruckThis week I am reviewing Brian Selznick's novel, Wonderstruck which you can find at Amazon or your local library.  I chose Wonderstruck because I had read Mr. Selznick's previous novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which my children and I just loved.  And just like Hugo, Ben, the main character of Wonderstruck is an orphan, trying to find the secret to his past.  Both Hugo and Ben are, in a way, searching for their fathers.  Hugo has an automaton which his father had restored partially and he sets out to re-restore because he believes it will tell him something his father wanted him to know.  In the end, it leads him to find the actually inventor of the machine and ultimately to a new family.

The same themes are explored in Wonderstruck.  We meet Ben, newly orphaned when his mother is killed in an automobile accident.  He is already partially deaf and that deafness becomes complete when he begins to try to locate his father, whom he has never met and about whom his mother had never spoken.  An impulsive and brave boy, he sets out for New York City where he hopes to find this mysterious man by following an address he finds in an old book about the American Museum of Natural History he discovers among his mother's things.  Chance takes over and Ben is swept along my his own desires and dreams as well as the clues which lead to more clues and finally to an unexpected discovery not only about his father but about himself.

Mr. Selznick doesn't just spin a yarn with rich prose, which he does indeed do.  He also tells a story in pictures.  As in Hugo, Mr. Selznick gives the reader illustration after illustration, leading them along with each page turn, telling with pictures.  In Hugo, he uses the pictures to create action and suspense.  In Wonderstruck he uses the illustrations to tell a parallel story of a deaf girl who is also on a journey to find something, but for her it is freedom and a place in the world.  And it seems wonderfully appropriate that her story is told through our eyes and imagination as she is unable to speak.  Ben on the other hand is able to speak to other characters and thus to us.  He is never truly silent only without the ability to hear.

Wonderstruck is a compelling story of the need we all have to know who we are and where we come from. Often that means knowing who our parents and even our grandparents are.  And like Hugo, in Mr. Selznick's previous novel, Ben also finds a family who understands and loves him at the end of his journey.  My children and I loved following Ben and the little girl through the text and the pictures.  Mr. Selznick's illustrations are so beautiful and full of details and story.  I hope you will pick up a copy of Wonderstruck and follow along on the journey.

Thank you for taking the time to read about what I thought of this lovely book.  I hope it will inspire you to read more illustrated books which shouldn't be looked down upon as only being for children.  I think the really excellent ones are for all of us.  Please leave a comment and tell me what your favorite children's books are!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Tree Swing

This week's theme on Illustration Friday is "Tree".  When I was a kid, my sister and I would spend hours swinging from the tire swing my dad had hung from an old walnut tree in the back yard.  It stood at the top of a gentle slope and so when you swung out on that tire, it felt like you were so far above the ground.  We would take turns spinning the swing until we were dizzy.  We would pretend we were flying on the swing.

I miss those days.  The tree is gone now.  But I have memories that are sweet and fun to recall.  Maybe I'll have a tire swing again some day.  Don't know if my joints and bones will like it, but it would be fun to fly and spin.

This week I kept the sketch looser than I usually do.  I wasn't sure I could get the foliage right.  But I think the implied leaves and shadows and light passing through comes out.  Trees are hard to draw.  I think I got this one close to right.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Story to Share: Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood walked along the wooded path, on the way to Grandma's house.  She was enjoying the cool breeze and the bird song.  Every word of caution her parents had given her about not talking to strangers before she left the house had drifted from her mind like the leaves that drifted to the ground.

She did not see the wolf until he stood before her at the edge of a small clearing.  He smiled and she stopped.  "Where are you headed, Little Red Riding Hood?"

"I'm going to my Grandma's with a basket of treats.  She's taken ill and is in her bed," Little Red Riding Hood replied.

"That's too bad!" the wolf replied.  "I'd like to see if I can be a comfort to your Grandma.  Can you tell me the way to her house?" he asked.

"Through the woods, across the creek and over the hill," she replied.  "I have to go now, before the rolls get cold."  She skipped away.  The wolf disappeared into the woods.  He knew a short cut to Grandma's house.

 The wolf knocked at Grandma's door.  "Who is it?"  called Grandma from her bed.

"It's me, Grandma, Little Red Riding Hood!" the wolf called back, disguising his voice.

"Come in dear!" Grandma said.  The wolf crept in.  Grandma didn't even know what happened when he pounced upon her and gobbled her up.

Quickly he dressed in one of Grandma's robes and tied one of her handkerchiefs around his shaggy head.  Then he leapt into her bed and snuggled into the covers to wait for the little girl.

In no time, she arrived and knocked at the door.  The wolf again disguised his voice, "Who is it?"

"It's Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma!  I have treats for you!" the girl called back.

"Come in!" said the wolf.  Red Riding Hood came in and entered her grandmother's room.  She sat her basket down and approached the bed.  Her eyes grew wide as she gazed at the person lying there.

"What big ears you have, Grandma," the girl said, bewildered.

"The better to hear you with my dear," replied the wolf.

"Grandma, what big eyes you have," said Red Riding Hood, becoming more alarmed.

"The better to see you with my dear," replied the wolf.

Red Riding Hood gulped and said, her heart in her throat, "What big teeth you have, Grandma!"

The wolf smiled.  "The better to eat you with, my dear!" He threw off the covers and gown and the girl let out a shriek that sent the birds of the meadow flying.  The wolf gathered himself up to pounce on her, his full focus upon his intended victim.  But just as he rose from the bed, something came down from above his head and he fell to the floor with a thud.  Blood oozed from his head.  He was dead.

Red Riding Hood looked up in shock to see a tall man standing over the body of the wolf.  "Who are you?" she whimpered 

"I am a wood cutter.  I saw you walking in the woods and when I saw that you stopped to talk to the wolf, I decided to follow you because I was afraid for you.  I know the nature of wolves and I had a feeling you might be in danger", he replied, putting his hand on her shoulder and walking her quickly to the door.  "We need to get you home, to your mother and father, where you will be safe."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review of Sleep Like a Tiger

This week I am reviewing Sleep Like a Tiger written by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zaarenski.  Maybe I felt attracted to this book because I need more of what it is telling a story about!  A little girl, reluctant to succumb to the natural inclination to slumber, asks her very patient parents, "Does everything in the world go to sleep?"  In lovely sleepy similes  her parents assure her that all the creatures, even those which do not seem to, sleep.

Finally the little girl tells of a creature who sleeps to become strong; the tiger.  So slowly, even after her parents give her permission to stay awake all night, she falls asleep like the strong tiger.

Accompanying Ms. Logue's prose are the dreamy paintings of Ms. Zagarenski.  Each one is filled with pattern as you might find on soft comforters and quilts.  The soft pastels sooth the eye as the story soothes the ears.  And in the midst of the patterns are figures which seem flat in one way, but are solid and heavy in another, giving a feeling of settling down and finding the place to stay and rest.

My children listened to the story just before bed.  My son, a third grader, recognized the similes Ms. Logue use to describe the sleep the animals and enjoyed them very much.  As they listened  they became quiet and restful.

In this beautiful picture book, we say goodbye to the sun and follow the moon and stars across the surreal landscape, watching the little girl's eyes grow heavier with each turning page.  Ms. Logue's skill as a story teller shines in this bedtime tale about settling into bed and Ms. Zagarenski tucks us in with sleepy bears, slumbering dogs and snoring tigers.

To see more of the work of Caldecott honor medalist Pamela Zagarenski go to her site.  Mary Logue is the author of other works intended for adults and young adults.  For a great review of this book written by Julia Danielson, follow this link to Kirkus Reviews.  You can purchase this picture book at or visit your local library.  This is Ms. Logue's first picture book and I think, as I drift off, that she has created a beautiful piece of art.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Shy Kitty Hiding Under the Bed

This week's theme for Illustration Friday is "Shy".  It made me think of a kitty cat I used to have whose name was Ringo.  She was the cat of a friend and he could no longer care for her, so we took her in.  She was a sweet cat, but she spent alot of time under the bed, especially when guests visited.

This picture takes place in a little girl's room, just because I think every little girl ought to have the chance to love a cat sometime during her childhood.

Thanks for stopping by.  I would love for you to leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Aha Moment

Through the difficulties of last week, with illness and needy children, as well as keeping up with day job work and my house, I felt (and still feel) frustrated that I couldn't spend more time drawing and blogging.  When I did sit at the computer it twas to browse because I couldn't bring myself to be constructive   I didn't put in an entry last week for Illustration Friday because I felt so drained.  I sketched something, but failed to move forward with it.

But even as I had all these feelings of failure, I see an over arching theme at play here that I know is not a coincidence   I think this last week was a lesson in pushing through and not giving into laziness or procrastination.   In the future,  Lord willing,  I will have assignments and I will have to push through what ever blocks I come up against.  I will have to grit my teeth and keep going.

I keep going back to what James says in the first chapter of his book in the Bible; "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endureance."  I may not have brought any great witness this week for the cause of Christ or done anything noteworthy that involved me talking about Jesus, but I think I might have moved a step closer to maturity,

By realizing I have not given up, even for fatigue and distraction, I have learned something really special about endurance and persevering which are God's specialties.

God has persisted in maintaining life on earth despite our unbelief and out right hostility as we have blamed him for our terrible behavior.  Yes, wars are waged, hurricanes happen, and babies die and I don't make light of the grief of losing a baby or anything else for that matter, but babies continue to be born and life for humanity as a whole continues, in spite of our best efforts to destroy ourselves.  In it all, God endures with the love he has for all man kind.

And he promises to keep it going.  He also promises to be the companion, guide, teacher, and savior of those who will trust him.  Most of the time, I'm a pretty shabby follower of Christ, yet that promise is for me too.  And the fact that I can see past my grumpy feelings of wanting to walk away from any future creative endeavors and blame every one in my house for my failures, to the beautiful lesson of pushing through and enduring is not from my own ability to understand.  Most times, I can't get past myself to get the big picture.  I'd rather be mad or feel sorry for myself.

Instead, God seems to have heard me this morning when I asked for wisdom.  I give God all the credit if I have figured anything out at

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Inspiration Killers

Inspiration is a slippery thing, like try to catch a fish with your bear hands.  One moment you think you've got hold of it, the next it vanishes.  This week has been hard on my inspiration.  Rather than talk about what did inspire me, I'm going to talk about some inspiration killers.

Bronchitis and a sinus infection ganged up on me last week and inspiration, fair weather friend that she is, curled up and hid.  When you're sick, the ideas that were so abundant and felt so urgent when you were healthy, are now worries that induce procrastination and anxiety, which just makes you more tired than you already are.  Creativity becomes work rather than joyful play.

Once the procrastination had set in for me, I started to get behind.  My daily goals became burdens because as I missed each one, my stress increased which invariably made me want to procrastinate even more, which then had a domino effect because I just continued to miss my self imposed deadlines.  Excuses followed:  "It's not like this blog is my job and my electricity is dependent upon it." and  "It wasn't my fault!  After all I'm sick!" The stress of worry became like fog in my head and inspiration was lost in the mist.

Being sick with a chest congesting illness along with drainage from sinuses can make for difficult sleep.  Not only that, the worries I was entertaining jumped around in my head like little devils and sleep was restless at best.  The lack of sleep made me cranky with my kids and the thought of even turning on the computer made me even more cranky!  I needed sleep, but sleep was slow to come.  And with each passing night, I just felt more and more like I was just functioning.  Inspiration and creativity don't visit in those type of circumstances.

I did manage to turn the computer on and check email.  And in the spaces when I was vegging out, I looked through the web for other artists and illustrators to look at their work.  Usually I find this to be a motivating activity.  Beauty often can help us to be more creative, but this time, with all the stress and worry I was already feeling, the beautiful work of others only made me feel more critical of my own.  I began to wonder if all of this effort to pursue the dream of becoming an illustrator is really just a pipe dream, a waste of time.  My own art work began to look unworthy and not very good at all.

So how do you and I overcome all of these negative, inspiration killing circumstances and feelings?

Perseverance.  I wrote recently about the book of James in the Bible and his reminder to Christians to see trials though the eyes of faith, knowing that when that faith is tested and we weather through the test, trusting humbly that God will be with us through it, we come out on the other side, stronger and more mature and wiser.  Those traits being worth the struggle.

Someone close to me said the only difference between a pipe dream and persevering, is the outcome.  The journey there is the same.  And the only way to know the end is to keep going.  So, how much do I want to see the ending?  I better get back to work and keep going, sometimes gritting my teeth through those uninspired moments.