Tag Archives: kids

when things are not what they seem


Some challenges are straightforward: six loads of laundry is six loads of laundry.

Some challenges are not what we expect: the ten year art career plan is really the 22 year life-family-art-failure-faith-journey jumbled together non-plan.

and some challenges change the way we see things: getting my kids to the bus on time turns my view of our humble driveway into a moment of wonder.

Another morning starts; I get the kids up, dressed, chored, fed, packed, maybe even brushed and then rushed down the drive to meet the bus. No, it’s not a long way. Yes, they could walk, but they’d be wet and frozen from the start and sick days are out around here. (Don’t worry, I do make them walk back up – unless it’s howling a gale.)

I turned the car around to head home and found myself staring into the middle of an old movie. It was startling. I got back up to the house, grabbed my camera and stayed out as long as I could stand the cold (ok, yes I was in my pj’s) to observe and record what I was seeing.

These are not black and white photos, and they aren’t tinted. The colours of  the land were muted for miles by the frozen air and filtered light of a clouded morning sky. It was so very still and beautiful and other-worldly. I took dozens of photos, trying to capture the atmosphere of a place so familiar, yet completely transformed.

P1260219an unexpected ocean – soaked and frozen gorse and moor-grass…

P1260195a vast and newly formed lake – only a few feet deep and as wide as this small field…

P1260205a quiet road leading to an unseen destination –

the unexpected place of inspiration and freedom for my heart. the path home.

Life is full of challenges, you know this. I know this. But things are not always as they seem. What feels monotonous can bring about patience and rhythm. What is hard can prove to be a rock on which to stand. What can seem like a dead end may just be a door to something totally unexpected. and amazing.

be encouraged.


a moment to breathe


Christmas eve crazy – I was in the middle of all the good stuff; the kids and the music, the cooking and the cleaning, lights and movies, Noel, oh well, and fa-la-la…

but I could feel the days and weeks of balancing sickness and celebration catching up with me…my own colours were fading as I poured out in different directions what was necessary and needed. Then I caught a glimpse of the sky from my kitchen window. And just like that, I grabbed my camera and flip-flopped out into a gale to follow the light and colour I saw swirling behind our tree line.P1250692 I kept chasing that ever-changing scene, crossing our flooded stream and holding on to the ground so that I could reach some breath-taking beauty, so that I could breathe in the wild wonder of it for just a few precious minutes…P1250701 I didn’t care about the cold or the mud or the possibility of burning cookies, I needed to be there in that place…P1250715-001to wonder as I wander once again…P1250702

A new year comes in a few short hours…most of us have no idea what it will bring. But just in case it’s crazy and busy and full of things we’ve not planned for, let us not forget to look out our window, to run to beauty – however fleeting – to get our toes in the dirt and feel this life as we live it.

be encouraged

and blessed

in 2016.







lead me to the wonder


With my head down (so as not to eat a procrastinating pre-teen), focussed on the task at hand (4 pack lunches) and trying to tick the boxes off on my mental check list (insert more coffee) I hardly noticed what he said. Our teenage son passed by, school tie in hand, to say “Mom you should check out the front door.” I mumbled an “umhmm” and kept doing exactly what I was doing. Because there was a time limit. Because I was trying to be The Momma Who Gets It Done. Because the 8 year old still did not have his shoes on. because…because…

My husband came into the fray of that early-morning school-day kitchen and took my hand.

“What?” slightly surprised…

“Come with me.” smiling…

“What is it?” slightly exasperated…

“Just come.”

I let him lead me out of the buzz, down the hallway to our front door.

“This…” he gestured…

It was extraordinary. Little sparkling hammocks were swinging in our windows. The door opened to trees criss-crossed with translucent bridges and diamond shaped pockets.


It was magical


and breath-taking,




and beautiful.



and I almost missed it…because

The lists and the work and the rush and the stuff will probably always be here. Let it wait while you wonder, even if it’s just for a few precious moments, at the transient and extraordinary right outside your door. be encouraged.

colouring someone’s story


I find it difficult to focus on my studio when wildchilds are about on summer holidays. I tend to get caught up in the sand and ice lollies, sibling spats and late nights of Kids Off School. But the month of July held two precious jewels for me, commissioned work that was very personal and challenging in a good way. Interpreting someone’s story, a chapter in their life – past or upcoming – is an honour. It comes with a “hold your breath” moment while waiting to see if you got it right, if the work connects with the person’s heart…P1250102

I made a small drawing for a woman who recently lost her mother.  The friend who commissioned the work told me this story: “…Before her mum passed away (the mother) accepted the Lord and my friend began to find butterflies all over her mum’s house. The day her mum passed away my friend found a lilac butterfly in her belongings and felt like the Lord was reassuring her of her mum’s salvation…for the first few days after the funeral people were either wearing butterflies or she saw them wherever she went…”P1250106-001

In the midst of the summer swirl, taking time to be still and focus on something so small and tender and poignant became a gift to me. Maybe you are in that same swirl of busy, noisy life?  That can be a really good thing. There is also good in the studied, focussed quiet. In the days ahead may we find time for both.

Be encouraged.




look up into the blue


So, it’s been an eventful, 5-kid-crazy, happy-sad-sick-better, hospitals and day trips kind of summer. We had some amazing weeks of warm SUNNY buggy, get-the-hose-out weather. In Scotland, that means everything comes to a halt while we all go outside to observe the strange, wonderful orb in the sky…






And while there was not much time for painting or writing (as they both require some uninterrupted alone time) there was always time to look and let the beauty of an ordinary sky soak into my heart. These pictures were taken from our back deck while picnicking with bathing-suit clad little ones, Lego, some chickens and the cat! So even if everything is piling up around your ears, there can be inspiration and beauty for you to observe… to store up for a quieter moment of expression. Be encouraged.

east, west, home is best


The west coast of Scotland is vastly different from the east coast of North Carolina…the colour of light, the movement of water, the cut of the earth’s edges. Being raised to love the southern coastline, it took me some time to find my bearings here, to redefine what “going to the beach” meant in my heart. Deciding to find the beauty made all the difference. I went to hunt for treasure…and now I never come back without some.


Our children love going to the beach as much as I did as a child. Yes, they may need water shoes and wetsuits. They may bring home more beautifully coloured rocks than shells. They may not ride waves but they do get fish and chips! Their experience is different but it’s just as fun, full of adventure and love. And that helps me to find more treasure, to see more of home…through their eyes. May this encourage you today to see the beauty that is around you, especially in the unfamiliar places.

our littlest one on the run for tiny flounder caught on the sandbar

child’s play


Five kids, rare sunshine and the back porch…

There were blankets (because it was COLD!) and skateboards and balls and snacks and drinks. There were also paints and crayons and markers and paper which I still find irresistable even when frozen and covered with Easter chocolate. You’re never too old for crayons! May you find time to play today – be creative, be encouraged.