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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Give and Take of Motherhood

I have been immersed in motherhood.  My mothering soul is reaching out to the universe looking for enlightenment and encouragement.  I take long walks and listen to talks on motherhood, love and parenting, raising children and creating loving family relationships. I'm reading books, talking with other mothers and reaching out more and more to my own mom.

A few weeks ago while thrifting for more stretchy skirts and xl shirts to fit over my growing belly, I found two old wood ornate frames.  I knew immediately I wanted to turn them into chalkboards.  This is my thing lately, and I do it with old mirrors too.

The first old frame had a thick cardboard print-out with this painting photocopied on it. (I want to emphasize photocopy so you don't think this is a blog post about the 25 million dollar painting I found at the thrift store!)

I’d seen the painting before.  I’m not sure where, but it did look familiar to me.  I looked at it for a moment, appreciating the beauty, then quickly moved on.  I was ready to chalk-paint over it when something told me to look at the print a bit longer.  Was the image sisters, friends, mother-daughter? 

I set it aside, painted the beautiful frame it had come in and thought nothing more of it.

Until the next morning, I sat down for breakfast and opened a book I’ve been reading.  

Art of Motherhood is filled with a collection of beautiful paintings and text discussing mothering through the ages.  I found the book many years ago at the thrift store and you can see from the tattered corners, it’s been looked through a few times.

Would you believe I opened the book up to this exact page?

I found it amazing.  Was this painting trying to teach me something? I stared like I was seeing it for the first time.  How tender the embrace, how in love the two are.  I began reading the history of Madame Vigee Lebrun’s painting title Madame Vigee Lebrun and Child.  The painting is the artist with her daughter, Jeanne Lucie Louise. I grabbed Eden and hugged her in my arms while reading.

The text read:

“One wonders what sort of mother she was to little Julie.  She reportedly took her impending motherhood in stride, continuing to paint energetically throughout her pregnancy.  On the day of Julie’s birth, the artist’s closest friend, Mme de Verdun, came to see her in the studio and found her working, as the artist remembered, “between the throes.”  Urged to take to her bed, the artist replied that this was simply not possible, she had a sitting for a portrait the next day.  The artist did, however, take her friend’s advice, and her daughter was born that night.”

Oh, the joy I found in this little piece of history.  That Madame Vigee Lebrun was too busy in her heart's passion/painting to attend to her own labor is simply wonderful.  I remember editing a manuscript while in the hospital laboring with Reef.  I find the pull in motherhood between giving of ourselves but the desire to keep a bit of ourselves is constant.  We make sacrifices for our children, but still desire to make our mark as individuals, not just mothers. 

I recently found the artist Kate Daisy and I’m in love with her work.  

(images found here)

Here she is, painting with baby in tow. 

Passion to create.  Passion to live life to it's fullest.  Passion to love beyond measure.

And my sister-in-law Monique who I admire so much.   Here she is living her passions with her baby.  They are both so beautiful.

I love strong mothers.  I have friends going back to school for higher education, training for marathons, learning about interior design, teaching dance classes, traveling to exotic places, learning about whole foods or essential oils and writing books.  I admire strength in woman who do all they desire to do.  Nothing holds them back.  To teach these attributes to your child is a great thing.

I find with each child I have there is a larger capacity and desire to be creative in mothering, but in other things too.  How is that?  Sure days are busy and time is limited, but in some ways my passions are magnified and I’m able to accomplish more then before.

My favorite gift this Christmas was something my father-in-law said to me while we were out on a walk with Eden on Christmas day at sunset.  The air was cool and crisp and he lovingly held my arm in his.  I love this man and think he is very wise.  He’s just lost his wife and finding his footing again.  He’s felt sorrow beyond my comprehension and still, with hope and optimism he said to me:  “The heart has an infinite capacity to love.” I've thought about this over and over again.  I always have room in my heart  to love more.  Love will always grow.

I didn’t turn the copy of Madame Vigee Lebrun and Child into a chalkboard.  I hung it in Eden’s room as a reminder as mother’s and woman, we can have it all!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

So you want to raise a boy . . . again?

On December 29th at 20 weeks pregnant I lay on the table at the ultrasound clinic, certain the tech would confirm my motherly intuition. 

All the dreams, impressions, comments from strangers, coincidences – all of it said I was having a girl.

“You’re having a girl,” the tech was supposed to say.
“I knew it,” I was supposed to say.
I had my daughter’s name picked out.
I had her first outfit.
In my mind, everything was set.
Four boys, two girls!  Eden would have a sister. 

But, the tech didn’t say I was having a girl.
“There he is, it’s a boy,” she said with delight.  She didn’t know she was supposed to “It’s a girl.”  I hadn’t told her that.

To hear I was having a boy was about as foreign to me as if she’d said “Congratulations.  You’re having an alien.”

I told my boys I was crying tears of joy.  “I am so happy,” I said, choking through the sobs. I asked the counselor to come hug me so I could hide my face in his shoulders.  I was doing one of those ugly cries.  I have been very emotional during this pregnancy, but what was this I was feeling?  I realized I’d made one major mistake with this pregnancy.  For the first time ever, I picked the gender of my unborn child in my mind from the very start.  It was a girl.  I wanted a repeat of Eden.  I had all the clothes.  I had the pink room.  I had the hair bows!  With all my other children, gender didn’t matter.  I’d wanted a baby anyway the baby came.  So why did it matter this time?

Truth was I wasn’t sad to be having a boy at all.  I love boys.  My boys are the best.  I love being surrounded by them, their energy, the special way they nurture me. I love watching them set goals and accomplish difficult things. I love watching them run, jump, slam dunk, climb, throw, wrestle (ok, not so much the wrestling part), pray, study and learn.  I love having a husband who is so good because I know my son’s have an incredible example. 

I realized I was crying because I was saying goodbye to my almost there/just within reach potential second daughter.  All the things I’d planned we’d do, all the cute dresses, all the tutus!  Once I got a grip and told myself I’d work through the emotions of this later, my thought was “I’m having a boy.  I’m having a boy!  OH MY GOSH!  This is amazing, but I know nothing about raising a boy.”  I thought this while sitting in a room with my four sons.

I know nothing about raising boys.
Crazy, but that’s how I felt.
Perhaps overwhelmed is a better way to say it.

What do I know about boys?  I know I love my boys.  This is a normal day for me.  
My boys with their friends.  Eden and I are outnumbered!

My boys!  They play, they eat, they work, they eat, I discipline, I threaten, they obey, I reward, they eat, I threaten again, they say sorry, they play, they eat, they wrestle, I yell “Take it outside!”  We have lots of basketballs and skateboards. They experiment with my tools, search and leave their sport equipment all over the house. We do a lot of hiking, love to travel, the counselor takes them camping, SUNS games, UofA games, monster truck events– you name it – we’ve done it with our boys.


They’re so special,
they’re so amazing,
they’re so complex!

The world tries to pull boys in so many directions to count.  As a parent, I feel like it's a strange game of tug-of-war.  There are drugs, addictions, laziness, and violent video games.  So many things that corrupt. There is fighting, gangs and wars.  There is showing off to friends and ridiculous stunts with consequences.  I know, I have four younger brothers.  I heard the stories of the pool-hopping, the car chases, the girl’s they liked with the pretty blond hair.  Boys are exhausting.

And with all that, boys have a lot to aspire to.  My brothers did it.  Because my parent’s loved them, feed them, prayed for them and taught them how to work they are all amazing men.  John Mayer says it best, doesn’t he?  

I know daughters have just as much potential and complexities, but I get girls.  I’m a girl.  I feel like I have some sort of grip on raising my daughter.  Both boys and girls will make their mark in the world, find a promising career, fall in love.  But, my boys.  They are a mystery.  Oh how I want each of my boys to be good to their wife, like their dad is to me.  Someday each of my boys will be a dad too, they will be a provider of their own family.  Most importantly, I want them to grow up and be happy.

How do I do that?

How do I raise a boy who grows up to be a happy man? A good man?

I’ve done some soul searching.  I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer.  Having a fifth son has forced me to get a grip on my growing basketball team.  
“My dream team,” I’m calling them.  
"I can do this!  I can do this!” My new mantra!  

And then I remembered a book from my childhood.  So You Want To Raise A Boy by W. Cleon Skousen, published in 1958.  

This book sat on my parent’s book shelf in the living room.  I remember staring at this book (and the very cute boy on the cover) time and time again thinking “If there’s a book written on raising boys, it must be a very difficult thing to do.”  I watched my mom reference it over and over again, each time blowing off steam then to regain her composure, bow her head in prayer and try again. 

I borrowed the worn book from my parent's last week and after reading it, I wanted to through it against the wall.  Yep, it confirms the inevitable.  Boys are complex little people who can go in all sorts of different directions.  They don’t make sense, they do crazy things and they have lots of testosterone.  I was hoping for a check list.  
Where was my check list?  
Do A, B and C and you will have a perfect boy, but the book doesn’t say that. 

Then I got to the chapter 29 “What is the Ideal Mother.”  From the first sentence, my racing mind was finally silenced.  I felt peace.  I could relate to every single word.  I read it in pure humility.  This is when I got it.  Each sentence seemed to feed my soul.  Everything was making sense.  All the confusion I felt was replaced with a small smile appearing on my face.  I felt so honored to be the mother of boys; to be the mother of almost six children.  Boys, girls; whatever!  They all need love . . . and food!

“The ideal mother is struggling toward heaven and drawing her children with her.”
“By design the ideal mother is a perfect imperfectionist.”
“An ideal mother becomes the model or standard by which her son will judge women.”
“A wise mother finds herself in a key position to guide the entire family toward unity and solidarity.”

What a position of power I have.  Wow!  Shaping these boys, all my children that will someday be leaders in their homes, cities and countries.  It’s such a privilege.  I can do this.  It’s what I was born to do.

I have asked myself “Is Eden enough?”  I have one daughter.  Since finding out I’m having another boy, I look at her and know 100% she’s enough.  She’s my perfect feminine spirit and I’m so blessed to have her.  We have such a special bond, my oh my!

Since finding out I’m having another boy, I feel a bit softer towards my boys.  They need just as much love and nurturing as girls.  Being pregnant makes me a better person and mother.  I have a constant reminder of the sacrifice of what I’m doing; how they are worth it and the rewards and joy to come.  I can’t wait to meet my new son (just typing this I have tears in my eyes).  My five most precious moments in the world are when the doctor holds up my brand new baby and introduces us for the first time.  I’m so happy I get to again try to figure out how to raise a boy.  Most of all, I can’t wait to see my boys with a new little brother.  There will be laughter, there will be joy and if I have anything to do with it, there will be cake!

So, what was my husband's reaction at the ultrasound clinic?  Fist-pumping excitement all the way.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I'm Back With A Little Biggs of Everything!

For the past 2 1/2 years I've enjoyed serving as primary president to the children 18 months-12 years old in my church.  However, it's been very time consuming and has left little time for crafting, re-dos and especially blogging!  Now that I'll be moving into a less demanding job at church, I've decided to create a blog about everything I do.  I hope you can take the time to stop by for a visit.  Although I will still be featuring many of my trash to treasure finds and room make-overs, I'll also be making most of these items available for sale, hosting fun events where you can make or buy these items and of course talking about the crazy adventures of the Biggs family- I guess you can say my new blog will be "A Little Biggs of Everything".  Hope to see you there.  Love, Kelly

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

About 8 months ago, I had a dream.

Every novel I've written, plus the start of my blog has all been because of a dream I've had. I've had lots of dreams that haven't turned into novels or blogs, but about eight months ago I had a dream I haven't been able to stop thinking about.

In the dream there was a peasant girl in an abandoned village standing near a swing hanging from a giant tree.  Her father had built her the swing years ago.  She was hesitant to sit down on the swing because she wasn’t a child anymore and there was work to be done, but after a moment she let the swing take over and found herself pushing off into the clouds.  The wind and sky were all around her and for a moment it seemed all was right in the world when she heard the desperate cries of a man.  She knew the sound well. It was the sound of someone being killed.

Roman guards surveyed the area often.  The citizens of her village were all in Bethlehem, commissioned by Caesar Augustus to pay their taxes.  Only the outcast; the leper and homeless, rebels and abandoned lived in the woods surrounding her village.  And she shouldn’t be in her village anyway.  The only reason she had taken the day journey back to her homeland was to gather her oils and other bottles of apothecary to take back to the city. She had promised her father, the Inn Keeper, she would not stray from her task and would be back to Bethlehem before nightfall.

She heard the desperate cries of the man once more.  She left the swing and walked deep into the forest knowing she was putting herself in great danger, but still followed the sounds of the tormented man.  Deep into the woods, she found him bound and a slew of Roman guards with their swords drawn surrounded him.  Hiding behind a tree, she watched as the man received his final blow from the largest guard.  The man was killed for his crime and left tied to the stump of a tree as an example to other rebels in the area.

The girl had been trained by her mother in many things; helping others in childbirth, aromatherapy, apothecary and burial rituals.  She knew the man’s soul would not be permitted into heaven if he did not receive a proper burial, so she waited until the guards were gone. Through a bit of creativity and lots of hard work, she was able to drag the man to her deserted house in the village by the swing.

It was nightfall when she started the rituals – the seven candles burning around his deceased body, the rose oil circled into both of his hands symbolizing the good and bad deeds of his life, chanting the prayers for the dead, a lock of hair burned to purify his soul, his wounds cleaned, his beard shaved and finally she would administer a cut into the jugular vein were his blood would be drained.  With scalpel in hand, she prepared herself to dig deep into the flesh of his neck when someone grabbed at her.  Little did she know she hadn’t been alone during the ritual. The very man she was preparing for burial had come back to life!  Deranged, he held her captive in his grasp – demanding for answers!

Yeah, I know!  Crazy dream!

It was awesome!

So, I’ve  been working on this new manuscript (working title The Swing) for about 8 months now.  I’ve had some good days where the story line flows like melted butter and others where I literally have to work for every s i n g l e word.  It can be physically exhausting yet wonderfully liberating.  There are days I resent the task (never the story or my characters, just the writing process itself) because I’m such an active person and I have to sit here for hours on end; writing, editing, searching while the world moves on without me.  I stay up too late, wake up too early and sometimes my kids eat Serrano’s bean deep and doughnuts from Bashas for dinner.  I’m figuratively running through my mind searching who these characters are, understanding the Old and New Testament on a deeper level than ever before, researching embalming methods of the Egyptians, learning more about Biblical days (and sometimes finding nothing so I have to fill in the blank) and it can be exhausting.  But I love this story so much, the characters are constantly stirring around in my soul; therefore I must write them on paper!

So you can imagine my frustration when I experienced writers block around page 70.  The story line is thick and juicy with romance, conflict, character development and history, but I didn’t know where to go next.    Writers block doesn’t happen to me often and I can usually see scene after scene in my mind, so I was incredibly frustrated with my mind drew a blank.  I took a few weeks off.

I’m not the most patient writer anyway.  I find I write 10 pages at a time very fast paced, like drawing a skeleton without any flesh.  Then, I go back and fill in all the details.  Sometimes this doubles the original 10 pages to 20 pages or more.  I find additional plots and twists, insights into my characters, loop holes and missteps in the plot so it can be a pretty rewarding/difficult process.  Both rewarding and difficult at the same time can be grueling.

So, how did I work through the writer’s block?

I found this incredible painting of the baby Jesus by artist Jenedy Paige and stared at it for a time, touched at the pureness and simplicity.  My testimony grew on how important it is to cherish the miraculous story of the birth of the Savior of our word and find creative ways to share it so it continues to touch our hearts in new and beautiful ways.

I walk about an hour every day, mainly to work through the horrible morning sickness I’m still experiencing and I’ve started listening to best-selling author interviews on YouTube.  They share writing tips, how their plots are developed and spread love and motivation for all.  My favorite tips so far come from author Stephenie Meyer and author Sue Monk Kidd.  I've read all their books and respect them so much as authors and creative women!

I continued reading.  I just finished Lauren Oliver’s book Before I Fall
Um, WOW! 
Totally different writing style then mine (and actually, I wouldn't recommend it to young adults for some adult content), but I was in awe.  Superbly written and the message at the end was so good.

I attended author Deirdra Eden’s discussion on her experience of writing and publishing her book The Watchers and it was just what I needed.  Thank you, Deirdra. 

I ate lots of chips and homemade salsa, which seemed to work for me.

I worked on other projects I have including editing novels I have completed or working on other ideas and manuscripts in process.  I started my query and synopsis for The Swing.  I blogged, read other authors blogs and researched authors I love and their current projects.  The creativity out there is highly motivating.

I went to the doctor and saw the first photo of my little baby.  Baby wasn’t cooperative, so still not sure what we are having.  I find I’m very creative when I’m pregnant because hey, I’m creating the greatest gift ever.  The joy in my heart keeps everything in perspective.

Then, yesterday I was working in the kitchen when I had an idea.  I wasn’t even thinking of The Swing or my plot when a scene ran through my mind and practically knocked me over. It was perfect.  I rushed to the computer and typed out six pages.  I know exactly where the story is going now and my goal is to finish by Christmas.  This book is a Christmas story and it has brought the spirit of Christmas to my heart in a very personal way.

So, there you have it.  My new manuscript and the simple things I do to work through the occasional writer’s block I have.  Now, onto writing!

For those interested, I’ve pasted below the first chapter of The Swing.  I hope you enjoy it.  

The Swing
A Novel

At first I had the idea to not even approach the swing, let alone sit on it.  It was a cloudy gray morning and I had work to do, but I watched the swing sway gently in the wind, like an angel was taking a turn.  That’s when I felt something calling me. 

“Come swing Miriam.  Play as you did as a child.  Forget everything else,” it seemed to say. 

The hem of my dress dragged across the ground as I walked toward the tree.  I stopped and reached out to the rope like it was an old friend; for truly, how many times had I held onto the swing when I needed to hold something.  I turned back toward the home, expecting to see my mother standing in the door throwing out a bucket of breakfast scraps for the chickens, but there were no chickens and there was no mother.

The swing enticed me to sit down.  Never had I felt so lonely, rocking slowly at first which caused me to stay inside my thoughts.  The gentle motion nudged open the doors of my mind and I contemplated all the changes I’d been through the past year since Mother’s death.  The gentle breeze seemed to go through me, caressing every part of my  body until a chill ran up my spin.  Eventually the swing took over and my toes reached the top leaves of the giant olive tree.  Flying high seemed to set me free.  I was closer to heaven and for a moment, I wanted to smile. 

It had been a year since we left this home, but there it stood just like the day Father and I carried out the few things we needed for our journey.  Because of the irrigation system Father designed, mature olive trees grew around the perimeter of the home and provided shade all times of the day.  Father had mortared the bricks with the help of his brothers and carried Mother over the threshold on their wedding day.  I was born in the walls of this home 9 months later.  I would be 17 years old this winter.

I’m not sure how long I’d been on the swing, letting the rhythm of it carry me away - outside my thoughts with the clouds and sky waiting for me; when I heard something in the distance.  The bird’s stopped chirping and the breeze died down when I realized I was never truly alone at all.  Roman guards were all around these parts.  Again, I heard a muffled sound.  Someone screamed out in pain, a sound I knew all too well.  It was the sound of someone dying.

I placed my feet on the ground and released myself from the swing, walking away from all the questions I couldn’t answer.  Each step was carefully placed.  I couldn’t make any noise or I’d risk being caught.

Because of the rainy season, the ground was damp.  As a child, rainy days made me sleepy, but now I was wide awake.  In the distance; I heard the unmistakable sound of thunder.  I stopped and placed my hand on my heart.  How I wished it was only thunder I had heard earlier?  I did not want to walk into danger.  The wind picked up and blew wisps of my hair across my face.  I wanted to go back to the swing, back to the memories of picking flowers and braiding them into my hair, back to Mother tucking me into bed at night when  again, I heard the voice of a man cry out.  Now that I was closer I could make out the words.

“I, Ezra, son of Gareb - on my father’s grave, am innocent,” he yelled.  I turned my head and walked toward the sound, wanting to rush but knew the need to be quiet; hoping to help but knowing there was nothing I could do.  That’s when I saw him.

He was strapped to a tree.  From where I stood, I couldn’t see his face.  He took his beating well, only grunting when the guards took turns whipping him.  How could he receive it?  Hit after hit and his muttered screams turned into soft moans when finally, one of the guards lashed the handle of his sword into the side of the man’s head. The man went limp.

`“Coward,” one of the men in uniform said and spit at the prisoner. 

“He’s dead now.  Leave him as a warning,” the captain said and placed the sword in a saddle belt around his waist.  They turned and walked back toward the city.  I stayed hidden behind a tree, catching my breath; waiting until they were gone so I could provide a proper burial for the man now dead.  

Linking up to:
Jenny Matlock

Monday, December 8, 2014

My journey - what now?

I’m not sure how many times I’ve sat down to write my story about sexual abuse.  I start a page, maybe finish a chapter and 6 years ago I wrote an entire 300 page novel.  That first novel was fiction, of course, but the story was about me.  I’m there in every page.    

From day to day, my motive changes.  One day I want to write for healing; another day I want to write to help others and some days I want to write to explore.  But, every day I can’t help what I write; for writing has been most healing and I have to let it carry me where it wants. 

What do I want to share?  What will help other people suffering the most?  Could my story prevent others from being hurt?  Can I do it?

As I get older, I’m so impressed with people who share their unique challenges and trials; their hurts and fears cupped with spoonfuls of hope.  

My favorite books of 2014 include A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

 My Story by Elizabeth Smart 

and Finding Me by Michelle Knight.   

The heartache and fear; the horror and despair, but these girls found a way through there abuse.  They over came in such a triumphant way, their courage and faith like fireworks during a thunderstorm.  These girls are my hero’s and I strongly recommend these memoirs to anyone. 

I’m finally at a place where my past no longer hurts me.  It’s been this way for a couple of years now.  This is because of my Savior, Jesus Christ and also because of the tender, nurturing love of my husband.  My story now feels just like that – a story.  Some days, it’s even easy to forget that scared hopeless girl was me.  In many ways I’ve overcome, but almost every angle of my character has been built on my struggles of overcoming. 

Where I was once vulnerable, I’m now acutely aware.

Because I was hurt, I’m now able to see the hurt in others.

The loneliness I once felt serves as a constant source of gratitude; for I never forget the blessings that surround me. 

I’ve always been happy; that was one element not taken away from me; but now I’m happy deep down to my soul – not just as a coping mechanism.

I most relate to teenage and young adult girls, because this is the age my life took a difficult turn.  It took me nearly a decade to get back on track.

Because of my healing, I could move on easily.  No longer do I have flash backs when my husband touches me a certain way, no more panic attacks at strange hours of the day, but something inside of me says “Don’t forget.” 

About a year ago, I started project:USED.  
You can read about my inspiration for project:USED here.  It was an incredible undertaking with so much support, but I’ll never forget how vulnerable I felt releasing the video.  Days before the release, I cried into my husband’s shoulder.  What was I feeling?  Was it shame?  Hurt? Fear?  I’ve always been good at keeping secrets.  There have been so many things in my life no one was every supposed to know about.  I think the hurt came from breaking open a secret. 

I continue to discover my path.  I have a great desire to save.  Sometimes this come out in the way I salvage thrift store finds. It’s a fun way to save- to redeem.  My Dear Trash ( six years old now and almost 1,000,000 hits) is full of hope.  Where I once felt like trash, I found value again in myself.  I find a little bit of myself in every piece I work on.

Then I wrote my first novel The Mermaids Handbook of Secrets (originally titled Colors of the Sea).  
I explored scientist Rachel Carson and her desire to protect the sea and our environment.  I’ve always loved Rachel Carson and her books, even making her a major part of my studies through my communication degree at ASU.  I took a postmodern twist on Rachel Carson and developed a character for the young adult audience that would reintroduce her passion for the sea to a new generation.  There is an underlying theme of saving the sea from environmental trauma and the sexual abuse my character faces.  You can read the first chapter here

Then, my daughter was born.  Her presence; the very essence of the female spirit radiated in her.  
She.  Girl.  Safe. Loved.

And I’ve learned so much about myself and mothering from having a daughter.  
Here is Eden with my mom.
Eden is my perfect mirror.  If I love myself, she’ll learn to love herself.  If I’m strong, she’ll learn to be strong.  If I celebrate my female spirit, she’ll do the same.  How I've grown seeing the world through the eyes of my wonderful innocent daughter. 

Next, I wrote The Memory Catcher with my mom author Sarah Hinze.  

The book is her memoir; her journey of her own miscarriage, to studying prebirth experiences and finally to becoming a voice for the unborn.  
Her books share how unborn spirits can warn, protect and enlighten us.  Then, unexpectedly her research presented evidence that aborted babies may die here on earth, but their souls live on.  These real-life accounts in a book she wrote called The Castaways provided healing and hope for so many.  
Coming soon, the 15-year anniversary edition of The Castaways (more on that later).
I learned God can lead us when we write, especially when we write to honor Him.  The experience made me crave inspiring memoirs and I broke out of  my normal reading genre - fiction.  I’ve always known difficult things that happen to us can lead to good things, but I learned it in a literary sense.  There is a beautiful way to share such stories.

I can’t forget my new found love of Christian music.  I spend a lot of time painting and restoring furniture, working in the kitchen and so forth.  I stopped listening to political radio and top 40 and turned the dial over to the inspiring messages and gorgeous tunes of these amazing musicians.  So many songs touched my heart, but the one that stands out is Overcomer by Mandisa.  Her story is amazing.
I was being spiritually nourished throughout the day.  My relationship with Jesus Christ grew in leaps and bounds.  

Then, project:USED (  
Dresses, the very core of woman; some might say its sexist, but with the inspiration of DRESSEMBER and a new look at what it means for a woman to wear a dress, I found dresses liberating.  The dress became a symbol of what it means to be a strong woman.  Don’t hide behind pants, celebrate the female spirit. 

After all that, what now?  I’ve come a long way as a mother, wife, an entrepreneur, a writer and a girl.  I’ve blogged for almost six years.  My dear readers, what courage and healing you’ve provided me!  It’s been so much fun.  Thank you for following me on this journey and I look forward to continuing the exploration of My Dear Trash.  In addition to my blog, I’ve written and completed almost five novels all about strong young adult girls that overcome in their own way.  An exciting twist, my last two novels are historical fiction.  God willing, I think I know where my next step leads.  I’m currently working with a literary agency and I think my time may have finally come to publish my stories.  Yes, it’s a big leap, but oh my! Am I ever ready to hold own of my own books.  You’ll find me in a puddle of tears jumping for joy. 

All these experiences (and too many to count) have lead me to light.  I have so many stories and ideas; dreams and goals – all bringing another step closer to the joy of being a strong, confident girl!  

I love having so many artistic outlets in my life. If it wasn’t for the therapeutic outlet of furniture restoration, I wouldn’t have so much time to collect my thoughts and explore plots. If it wasn’t for writing, I’d probably explode in a big pile of ideas!  So, wish me luck and courage and I take this leap of faith into the world of publishing.  I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!

You can check out my website at
Follow me on facebook for My Dear Trash here and for project:USED here.
I'm also on pinterest here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The only thing I’d ever painted was a house

I paint almost every day, sanding and prepping first before I apply that first coat of beautiful paint.  I can't imagine what I did before finding this addictive hobby of mine I love so much.  Here's my latest creative - an antique buffet done up in Paris gray.  

But, before shabby chic furniture, I was somewhat of an outsider.  To be quite honest, the only thing I'd ever painted was a house.

Well, that’s not entirely true if you count the paint-by-number and watercolors from my Barbie coloring book when I was a kid.  My first real painting experience with a grown-up home-improvement store paint brush was when I was 25 years-old and a week before my wedding. 

I decided long before becoming engaged, I wanted my wedding reception at my parent’s house. My childhood home was on an acre of land with dozens of orange trees and giant pine trees that were somewhat out of place in the middle of the Phoenix desert.  Thanks to the monthly irrigation turn that left the yard flooded for almost an entire day, this property was green and blooming.  The problem was my parent’s house was a bit dated; a bit saggy and creased in places because of age.  There was the broken foyer window my dad had carefully pieced back together with duct tape years earlier not to be outdone by the outdoor lighting fixtures kindly dating themselves in the form of 1970’s yellow glass balls.  We didn’t let the leaning mailbox bother us (my teenage brother backed into it with his car five years earlier); heck if a the leaning tower of Pisa could stand like that for hundreds of years we knew our mailbox wasn’t going anywhere.  The spare tires stacked in the carport didn’t need to be moved because that’s where the kittens played.  The large pile of chopped wood near the swing set had just been sprayed, so I knew the hornets nest was empty. I had no doubt my wedding reception was going to be perfect.

Truthfully, my parent’s house was beautiful all on its own.  Rows of wild grape bushes stretched their vines; intertwining in and out of the rusty pool fence as if trying to reach the pool water.  The property was an organic jungle where my family shared long thoughtful talks and countless games of baseball.  The grass never seemed to stop growing, wild flowers sprung up where the oranges had dropped last year’s crop and a large juniper bush had grown big enough to invite my younger siblings inside its branches to build a fort.  Sure, the other yards in the neighborhood were manicured by professional yard crews, but not my parents.  Oh no, it was all done by hand, literally because none of the power tools worked well enough to actually function on a regular basis.  I learned the beauty of clipping a mile long hedge with hand trimming sheers wasn’t the fact the blisters eventually turned into calluses, it was you knew every square of the yard.  Pushing a lawn mower row after row put me into a strange sort of trance; calming and meditative.  As a teenager, when I was frustrated I worked in the yard.  It always had something for me to do that felt significant.  The reward of all that work was a giant tree swing my dad made and a lazy hammock Mom picked up at a garage sale that offered rest and relaxation.

A week before my wedding reception, my parents had most of us, their children, out there working for the big event.  My brothers trimmed trees while my sisters raked dead leaves.  We were like a fine-tooled machine, composting and trimming away.  That really only lasted about an hour before someone ran off and another complained they were hungry, but I appreciated every bit of it as much.  The yard was my happy place; it just needed to be cleaned up a bit.  It was the place I would hold hands with my soon-to-be husband and celebrate the start of our eternity with several hundreds of people and a giant wedding cake.

A week before the big event, I started to notice a few not-so-perfect things about the house.  It wasn’t that I expected things to be perfect for the big day; after all I was a hippy girl with waist-length hair that hadn’t been cut in a while too.  Still, I knew hosting an event with hundreds of my closest friends, family, and co-workers was a big deal I needed to prepare for.  So I started a conversation with my dad that went a little something like this: “Dad, what do you think about the paint trim on the house? Should we touch it up for the reception?”  My dad’s reaction was like asking a car mechanic driving an old beat-up Datsun what he thought about the suspicious sound coming from under the hood; it was no big deal. I could tell my dad wasn’t getting it, so I tried another idea:  “If you bring home some paint, I’ll do some touch up on the trim?”  His eyes lit up.  I had offered my dad a suggestion; just a little nudge - you lend me your house for a day and I will make it beautiful for years to come. 

I had done it.  I convinced my dad it would only take a gallon of paint, maybe two to get the trim of the 3,500 square foot home up to date.  My dad pulled a ladder from his workshop and we positioned it so I could start.  Finally, there in my hand was my first experience with a paint brush.  I slathered that forest green paint right onto that wood like frosting on a cake.  The dry-rot wood sucked up the paint like a dehydrated athlete to Gatorade.  I smeared a bit more paint on, half expecting it to look perfect, but I think deep down I knew better.  The flaking trim needed to be prepped and fixed in many places, but I would just have to do my best because doing something would look better then doing nothing.

Later that day at my request, my dad went back to the hardware store for another gallon of forest green paint.  I remained optimistic about the task, but painting for hours with my head faced upward kinked my neck.  Really, how long could this take?  Had I only moved a few feet since starting that morning?  Reality set in when my beloved family came to the rescue.  My brothers offered to help.  My dad pulled out a long paint stick with a roller on it and invested in a 5 gallon bucket of paint.  Things turned serious and the house trim slowly turned from a dingy sierra brown to a bold forest green.  For three long grueling days alongside my dad and brothers, I craned my neck, stroking and applying pressure as needed, as paint took to wood. 

            The morning of the wedding I took one last walk around the property as a single lady; my mind whirling like water forced down a drain.  I was still a girl, yet I would be a wife; his wife.  I had saved myself for this day and I wondered what he would be like as a husband.  My heart was his, as was my absolute trust.  Never had I tasted the flavor of love he radiated.  He was my perfect secret. 

An unexpected morning rain left the muggy September air with a mist of cool and the cool grass rubbed against my bare feet.  The sun wouldn’t stay hiding behind the clouds forever so I relished the few moments I had to dream about my big day. My fiancĂ© Derek was my best friend wrapped in a 6’5 perfect masculine frame.  His ability to love completely shocked me and after four amazing weeks of dating (and a three month engagement), he reeled me in like a fish on a line.  We were both somewhat misfits of society; a shy hippy I would later call him after I got to know him better, but somehow we had found one another.  I bent down underneath the giant orange tree and collected an arrangement of wildflowers worthy for a bride.  I was getting married in just a couple of hours. 

I rushed inside and jumped in the shower, scrubbing the left-over paint still on my hands and underneath my fingernails when I felt a strange burning on my arm.  That’s when I noticed a deep gash running along the back of my arm.  Where had that come from?  Then I remember just yesterday while mowing the lawn I had walked into the gnarly branches of an unforgiving orange tree.  Paint stains and scars on my wedding day – no sweat! 

And, that is why I wore long gloves on my wedding day.
(no, it wasn't just to be coy!) 

 Covered the paint under my fingernails, 
paint on my hands
 and most of the scab on my arm.  

Playing with my darling flower girls in my parent's orange patch.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Birthday's with Trash

Oh, my Momma!

My love for her is something else.
We can get a bit crazy together!
She lives down the street, so I see her everyday on bike rides or walking the dog. 

When together, we travel all over the emotional spectrum with deep talks on spiritual things, exploring feelings on motherhood and laughing about the joys (and sometimes mishaps) of this amazing life.

Plus, we look a lot alike.

For years now, I’ve renewed her COSTCO membership for her birthday gift, but I always like to do something else too. 

Enter trash!
I have it all around my house. 
TRASH:  what others have thrown out or discarded 

Yes, trash!  This is mainly what I find at thrift stores, but lately I’ve  been trying to think outside the proverbial trash box.  What can I use that I already have?

Vintage mirrors turned into chalkboards

Old shutters display art

And now, old pieces of wood turned into letters for a birthday.
 Let me explain.

These brackets supported a mirror on the back of a dresser the counselor brought home.
I learned a long time ago when working on furniture keep everything.  Screws, fixtures, even brackets because at some point you’re going to need it to fix another piece of furniture.

Of make something completely different.

A little paint, configuring and viola!
A letter H for Momma Hinze to hang on her front door.

I had the key hole left over from another dresser and the key pendent I purchased in Prescott this summer as a necklace charm. I thought it appropriate to put both on the H, since my Momma hold's the key to my heart.

Plus, my sister Becky’s daughter turned three.  How could I birthday her with trash!

Little Emma is a delightful thing with sparkling eyes.  I had an old frame and whitewashed the canvas to try something different.  On a side note, when I travel to any beach town, I enjoy collecting sand from my travels and use it in sand art later.  Well, Becky recently returned from Hawaii.  I was there last year and still had sand from Oahu, so it was perfect to outline little Emma's photo from Hawaii in beach sand. I used a burlap rope as the final touch around the photo.

Birthday and trash?  Not two words that usually goes together.
Next? Christmas and trash!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Broken Dresser Rescue

I thought for sure this piece was a goner!
Let me explain. 

I found this solid wood cabinet at Goodwill, stripped it and painted it a creamy white (sorry, no before photo).

When the counselor moved it to the shop, he somehow maneuvered it in just the wrong way and snap!  Off came the cabinet door in a broken mess.

Quit honestly, if it was going to break, I'm so glad it happened before some had spent the money on this piece.

So . . . what to do?  What to do!

It sat for a while on my back patio while I worked on other pieces.  

Every once in a while I looked at it, wondering why I hadn't donated it back to the thrift store.  There obviously was no hope for it.  Broken is broken.  I can't sell a cabinet with one door missing!

Then, one night I had an idea and I could hardly wait until the next day to make it happen.

I took all the cabinet doors off, painted the backing in a chevron pattern, used wood putty to fill in the hinge holes and made it an open cabinet.


An additional perk, the unbroken cabinet doors make great chalkboards. We shared one with our wonderful teacher from the gym who is moving this week.  

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