Monday, February 22, 2016

Pursuing the Dream

Jerry and I began praying about our dream almost six months ago, and we have been on quite a journey since then.  Along the way we have faced disappointment, discouragement, and discovery.  We have weathered a season of goodbyes and felt the discomfort of pruning.  We have examined and re-examined our dream, and we have narrowed our focus.  We have searched our souls, prayed for wisdom, and learned a lot about patience.  

“Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart”
Psalm 37:3-4

Jerry and I started praying together, as a couple, specifically about our dream.  Since we began praying together, really difficult things have happened in our lives.  We have experienced the death of a parent, the death of two pets, and even the death of a part of our dream.  In all of these hard things, and more, it has been that unity in prayer that has kept us strong and unified!  We have daily come before our God - hand in hand - and asked Him for wisdom and blessing.  We believe He will give us the desires of our hearts because we are asking for His desires to become our desires!

Jerry and I believe that our dream involves business and ministry, and we feel strongly that the dream takes place here - at this funny farm we call Cornercopia.  We have set goals because we know that it is not enough to just dream - we must pursue our dream!  The funny thing is that it seems the harder we pursue the dream, the more distractions show up at our door.  The tricky part is to discern which of the distractions are good and necessary and which are simply distractions.  We want to remain focused, but God says, "Trust - and do good."

After much prayer and many months of waiting,  Jerry and I feel it is time to take a giant leap forward.  We are going to build the studio in our back yard and I am going to pursue this dream full time as an artist, author, and teacher right here at Cornercopia.  We are stepping out in fear and trembling - but in the full confidence of the provision of our God.  We are so excited!

As much as we are following the desires of our hearts, we don't feel that this is just for us.  Our dream involves you!  We love to open our home and our farm to our community.  Some of our happiest moments here have been the times that our backyard has been full of people - resting, enjoying fellowship, visiting the animals, finding peace.  Whether has been teaching in my outdoor studio, giving a farm tour, or pushing someone in the tire swing, sharing our funny farm gives us great pleasure.  We look forward to spending time with each of you right here!

Stay tuned as we see this dream take form.  I will begin teaching classes here in June - in my outdoor studio at first - and eventually in my new studio Jerry will build.  I already have many ideas about the classes and abouthow you can be involved.  All the while, I will continue to create my own art and will be marketing that through Etsy and various shows throughout the year.  We definitely need your prayers!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

13 Lessons I Am Learning from My Kitchen Transformation

After reading the list my cousin, Chandler, wrote in her latest blogpost - - I was inspired to write a list of my own.  Since I am now on day ten of my kitchen transformation, (not yet finished) I have to write about that!  I am really not sure if it was the lure of ringing in the new year or the paint fumes I have been inhaling for so long, but I have been doing some serious reflecting on how this kitchen transformation reflects the transformation in my own life.  Here goes:

13 Lessons I Am Learning from My Kitchen Transformation

1. Transformations are a LOT of work.
2. The project is always bigger than it looks.
3. In order to transform one area, you will probably have to make a mess in another.
4. Transformation requires patience and perseverance.
5. Transformation is exciting in the beginning, tiresome in the middle, worth it in the end.
6. Transformation requires many steps.
7. Transformation requires a lot of time.
8. Not everyone will approve of the transformation, especially in the beginning.
9. At some point in the transforming process, you will wonder why you ever began.
10. Once things begin to transform, you will notice all of the other things that need to change.
11. True transformation does not happen overnight.
12. Transformation requires advice from experts.
13. Transformation is easier with help from friends.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Scratching the Itch - Filling a Soul Need

I have had an itch to paint something for several weeks now.  That itch - a creative urge - has building and building until it literally caused me squirm!  I told Renee today that if I didn't get to paint, I may either explode or implode!  She looked at me with a confused expression, and I had to explain to her that creating is a soul need for me.

One of my wonderful students presented me with a gift card to a craft store, which enabled me to replenish my depleted paint supply and brushes.  It was just the push I needed!  I gathered my tools, a board, and a couple of photos to work from, and hunkered down to work at my kitchen table.

When I am painting, I generally chalk in my outlines first.  I decided to work on a painting of the little goat, Snickers, that we lost a few weeks ago.  I had two precious pictures of her that I combined to show her standing on wobbly little legs.  Once I was happy with the outline, I began painting.

The first hour seemed to move along well.  Renee was wrapping presents while I was painting and that was peaceful enough, but suddenly, everyone else arrived on the scene and all of the noise and action threatened to rob my creative spirit.  Renee suggested that I try listening to music on my headphones, and once she helped me get set up to do that, I was painting happily again.

I am very pleased with my end product!  It captures Snickers personality well!  Carter explained to me that if he saw someone else painting that, he would say, "Wow!  That's really good!" But since he has been watching me paint his whole life, it doesn't impress him.  I suppose I should take that as a compliment!

After finishing the painting of Snickers, I finished another painting of our goat, Willy, that I started almost a year ago.  I am really pleased with this one as well.  The difficult part for me is deciding whether or not to sell the original paintings.  Part of my "plan" for having my own studio includes selling my artwork, and I have never had trouble with that before, but these feel so personal!

Jerry has cut another board for me and I am planning a painting of my rooster, Curious, next.  Three paintings in one day?  Well, at least my itch has been scratched!

Saturday, December 6, 2014


This week I helped and held a little creature as she took her first and last breath of life.  Snickers lived for one week and eight hours, and in that time she managed to touch and bless many people with her sweetness and determination.  I feel quite certain I have learned many lessons during her short little life, but for now I will just grateful that she lived it.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


My passion is encouragement and teaching others how to tell their stories.  Such power is tapped when someone reads a piece of literature and learns something about themselves, or develops their philosophies of life further from reading, analyzing, and understanding the story.  Students won't necessarily do that on their own, especially lower level students who are  struggling with the basic comprehension of what they are reading, so I find that class discussion and journal writings are one viable way to inspire that kind of authentic learning.  

Recently, as we were beginning to read "Flowers for Algernon" in my regular level 8th grade English class, I had the students respond to the journal prompt, "Which is more important - relationships with people or accomplishments?"  After this initial journal prompt, we spent several days reading aloud and discussing the journal entries of Charlie Gordon, the main character in the story.  Charlie, who was mentally disabled, is chosen for an experimental surgery to increase his IQ.  Charlie expressed, through his own journal entries, the strong desire to be like others and to be liked by others. Despite his disability, Charlie decided that the best route to meaningful relationship was to become smarter. 

As my students read and discussed Charlie's journey, they experienced first-hand the sad discovery that Charlie himself made.  While Charlie's intelligence increased, his relationships changed and eventually decreased.  Charlie was happier before he underwent the surgery and, though he accomplished academic achievements that surpassed even the scientists who had  transformed him, he lost all ability to relate to others.  In the the end, he found himself completely alone.

In the midst of the class discussion one day, one of my student's eyes widened and she gasped!  "Oh, that's why you had us write about that prompt the other day!"  She had made a connection on her own between the writing assignment and the story, and it took her completely by surprise!  The prompt had primed my student for opening her mind to a new discovery about what she believed.  My fervent desire is that she will now view literature in a different light when she is reading on her own.  Hopefully, her educational journey has forever shifted from doing what she is told, waiting for someone to fill her with a bit of knowledge, and skimming through texts to simply fill in the blanks, to a genuine desire to learn.  Oh, what a joy it will be if a switch has flipped deep within her that has turned on a passion and created an itch for more discovery.

And isn't this true of each one of us?  We go through life, skimming the surface of all that it has to offer.  We wade through the shallow waters along the shore of a deep and coursing river of culture and faith and relationship. We feel like we are experiencing life because our ankles are wet and we occasionally feel the ripples of the water lapping at our shins, but we are reluctant to jump in and submerge our souls in the teeming, tumultuous waters of the adventure of life.  Every once in while, someone asks us a question, someone pushes us to participate in a discussion that forces us to come to a conclusion.  Someone invites us to wade out beyond the comfort levels of our own meager measure of the real meaning of life.  While we are there, struggling to maintain our footing, suddenly the current sweeps us off our figurative feet and we are whisked into deeper level of understanding!  That "aha" moment carries us to a new place, a new understanding, a new adventure, and our life will never again be the same!

This is life!  How wonderful to be the one who is whisked away!  But it is infinitely more amazing to be the one who invites an observer into the adventure.  To watch another who was idling, apathetic and unaware, come alive, awakening to the true journey, only urges the encourager to encourage all the more.  This is teaching!  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Everything I Need

It has been a hard week.  Truthfully, it has been a hard year.  Even more truthfully, I can't really remember when life wasn't hard - at least a little.  But as hard as things have been, I have to say, "I have everything I need!"  

I could mean this from a worldly and material perspective.  There isn't anything that I really need at this point that I don't have, but we have been in the position - and not so long ago - where we had to rely on help from others to meet some of our needs.  It can be frightening and ever so humbling to have to depend upon the good will of other people, but it teaches so much.  Without a time of being needy myself, I am not sure that I would be so generous.  Had I not experienced a bit of desparation, I wonder if I would be as compassionate.  Because I have personally suffered and benefited from the encouragement of godly people, I am quick to encourage others who are discouraged.

I could also mean this from a spiritual perspective.  Paul said, in Philippians 4:12-13, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."  I have everything I need because all I really need is Him.  Just a few short verses later, Paul said, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19). How He will supply them is up to Him and I am certain that is part of the plan.

If I think I have a physical need, but God knows that what I really need is to learn to trust, He will meet that physical need in such a way that meets the Spiritual need even more.  We may think we need something material right now, but if God knows we need to learn to depend on Him more, He may have us wait on the physical need to help us learn to depend.  Sometimes He will met a need through other godly people simply so that we will learn a lesson about love and encouragement.

Life is hard!  It is full of trouble - and why are we surprised about this?  Jesus said, ""I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) I believe Him!  I know He has overcome the world because I have that peace that He describes.  I can have a hard week - a hard month - a hard year - and more, because I have learned the secret to being content and at peace!  I have everything I need.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Rescue Mission

A different neighbor called today.  Different neighbor - similar question.  "Do you have turkeys?"  If you read my post from last week, you know that our turkeys were lost and a neighbor found them in her yard.  The funny part is that she, like the neighbor that called today, assumed that they must be ours!  As it turned out, these turkeys were not ours but we rescued them anyway and put them in one of our coops to keep them safe.  Later in the day we met a new neighbor while he was out canvassing the neighborhood looking for his missing turkeys.  We enjoyed talking with him as we helped him walk his turkeys home.  It was the second "turkey trot" in Kents Store this week.

I love that our neighbors think of us first whenever there are lost animals in the area.  We have the reputation for collecting animals and also for rescuing those that are lost.  Though we have only been raising farm animals for seven years, we seem to be known as the local experts.  We are far from experts, but we have gained quite a bit of experience and we are always willing to try to help.

As much as I enjoy our status of the rescuers of lost animals, I would much rather be known as someone who helps lost people.  Whether we are helping them find their way to God or just guiding them through a tough time, providing shelter during a physical storm or an emotional one, I want my home and my family to be a place of refuge for others.

When people remember me, I won't mind if they remember our funny farm on the corner for all its animals and the tire swing in the back yard, but I hope they will also remember that we were available in their time of need.  While we are, at Cornercopia, collectors of animals, we are also collectors of people.  We enjoy relationship and we love to welcome others as part of our family.

I didn't mind that early morning call today.  We are used to the phone calls that invite us out on a rescue mission.  It is what we do and it is what we love.  I guess you could say that, at Cornercopia, rescue is our mission.