Saturday, June 30, 2012

Prairie Song Retreat Art Project Time

Beautiful In It's Time
Session One:  Prairie Song 
Art and Photo Retreat

has been in my heart to share for over a year.

At last I got to share with lovely ladies!
So glad my 10 year old daughter, Sydney, was my photographer!
Thanks to her we have these photos!

A faith centered art and photo time with women in a relaxed environment.

To be encouraged to develop a habit
for a new way of living.

What is that habit?

To see the beauty in your very own right here and right now.
The things that we walk or drive by every single day.
To have gratitude to God for his gifts and for His walking with us.
To embrace Him and the life He has given us.
To embrace the uniqueness of who he made each one of us to be.

In Philippians 2:14-16, it says this:
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 
15 so that you may become blameless and pure, 
“children of God 
without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] 
Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 
16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.

This is one practical way that I know has worked for me
to live out gratitude to God for the life He's given
rather than be grumbler and complainer.
Photographs and art.
They create visual art journals of gratitude.
I want to share the message ~ to pass it on.
Do you see how much of a difference it makes?
When we don't complain and argue, 
we shine like stars in the darkness of this broken, crooked, depraved world,
holding out the word of life.
We find the gifts, the beauty, the life
that God has given.
Those glimpses of God's intention and beauty are still here.
And we are 
His little lights of hope 
shimmering in the darkness to others and to our own hearts.

Seeing beauty. Matters.
And God can even turn curses into beauty.
Creeping Jenny cursed weeds become a blessing of love
when my 5 year old brings me a bowl filled with them,
"These are for you, Mommy."
Beauty from ashes.

Like a mosaic made of shattered glass.
Broken and put back together into a beautiful work of art.
He does that with our lives.
He has done that with me.
And helped me embrace who I am rather than resist it, condemn or belittle.
Each of our uniqueness is our own beauty to share and give.
Our purpose from Him is in that uniqueness that is like no one else.
The closer we get to Him and know Him, the more we find out who we are.
And that is beautiful.

Creating keepsakes is fun.

But there is so much more behind it.




Here is a bit of what I shared that day
and wrote in the online portion of this class:

I distinctly remember the day that I first heard Kenny Chesney's song, Don't Blink
I was driving across the pasture of our "Schrek Place" alone in the old Chevy ranch pickup while my family pushed cattle along on four-wheelers to the corral on the hilltop.  
My breath caught in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to the words, 
and realized that 
I was missing my life.

Don't blink.  You just might miss your babies grow and like mine did, turning into moms and dads, next thing you know you're better half of 50 years is there in bed, and you're praying God takes you instead. 
Trust me friend, a hundred years goes faster than you think.  Don't blink."
. . . best start putting first things first . . . take every breath God gives you for what its worth . . . so I've been trying to slow it down . . . I've been trying to take it in . . . in this here today gone tomorrow world we're livin' in . . . Don't blink.

Underneath was a deep longing for something real, pure, true, beautiful.  So that day, my breath caught, and as the tears that had welled up began to run down my cheeks, I thought about the brief time in which my kids had grown out of toddler stage and into starting school.  And about this rancher in Wranglers with icy teal eyes and flecks of gray in his hair that still made my heart quicken when I would see him walk through the door.  I thought about driving that rumbling Chevy bouncing along with them all in my sight.  And about how just a few years ago on long weekend breaks from college I would sit behind him on the four-wheeler riding across the prairie, put my ear on his back and hear his heart beat, and think that there was no other place in the world that I would rather be.  And I thought about in that moment of that song, that there really was no place in the world that I'd rather be than right here with this man, with these kids, driving across this grass with the window down and prairie wind in my hair.

This is about that transition in my life.
From always looking for the next big goal or big moment,
to looking the beauty of right here, right now.

I still have goals.  Holding these retreats are a goal.
But they come about through a process
of living a beautiful life that I enjoy.
I work, yes.  I have tasks that are unpleasant, yes.  I have annoying things, yes.
My kids fight. Grasshoppers move in.  There are bills to pay.  Dishes to clean.
But my eyes and mind come back to finding God and his beauty and gift in 
the work and tasks
I do what I believe in.
I try to live what I truly believe is important.

And passing it on . . . 
sharing it.

I loved spending the day with these truly beautiful spirits.

It was one of the most encouraging environments ever.

I loved seeing how given the same tools and "ingredients"

each one created an entirely different project.

All reminders to look for beauty
in their live
embrace it,
see it,
enjoy it,
have gratitude to God for it.

I'd like to share with you a little story about these retreats that I shared on facebook yesterday:

I just need to share this! SO AWESOME! In regards to these retreats, 
I kept hearing in my mind, 
"Use what you have," 
whenever there was a question of what to share, where to share, what to eat, when, what to teach, 
I'd hear in my mind, 
"just use what you have". 
"Use the camera you have, use the stories you have, use the wildflowers, sunflowers, birds that you have, use the cardboard that you have, the paper, the old books, the boxes of things from Irma, the White Owl hall, use the bountiful food that you have. 
You don't NEED ANYTHING ELSE to do this thing." 
This is what I kept hearing as an answer to my questions.
 I told Dede last weekend in regards to her camera lens, 
"use what you have." 
An idea to do a faith centered art/photo retreat has been in my heart for over a year...several years. 
Today, I was doing my Nehemiah Bible study that I'm doing with my Canadian friends. 
This is what I read in my Bible, 
"And in this I give advice: 
It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began
 and were desiring to do a year ago; 
but now you also must complete the doing of it; 
that as there was a readiness to desire it, 
so there also may be a completion to it 
For if there is first a willing mind, 
it is accepted according to WHAT ONE HAS, 
and NOT according to what he does not have." 
2 Corinthians 8:10-12.
(Caps are my emphasis) 
{I love it when God speaks out of His word a message I have been hearing all along and confirms the desires of my heart are from Him and not my own imagination! I couldn't help but share! I would LOVE for you to attend and we will see what God has for you! I can only imagine!}

Session 2 and 3 are open for registration here:

Sneak peekers, you saw the set up and this was the real deal.
You can go here to see the photo walk part: 

Love joining Jen and this group of inspiring artists!
sneak peek

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Time For All Things

Lazuli Bunting ~ Shaw Ranch ~ after a rain ~ photo by Jodene Shaw.

I love this conversation 
from the movie The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings) 
between Frodo and Sam:

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. 

Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. 
They kept going. 
Because they were holding on to something. 

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam? 

Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... 

and it's worth fighting for.

It takes careful consideration to know when is the right action.  Only each one of us can really determine it through prayer and wisdom, and trust in the grace of God.  We can always hang on to Him.  And we can always let things go to His care.  The object of our hanging on or letting go is key.  Those are two constants I have found in my life.  I can hang on to Him and I can let go of my need to have or control other people, circumstances, issues, things.  So much of my hanging on has to do with my control.

There are people and relationships, goals and dreams, plans, beliefs that we need to hang on to . . . to fight the good fight for.  And there are ones to let go of . . . there are times to release them.

It's not always easy to know. 
There are times that inside ourself, we are the only ones who know the right time . . . even if everyone else around us has a different opinion.  Often those we love, respect and admire will have a different opinion about the very same thing.  So we have to decide for ourself.  And let their opinions go.  Usually that is the hardest thing for me.  But bit, by bit, I am taking ownership of my decisions and it has been freeing.

There have been things I thought I would hang onto that I found were necessary to let go of . . . and I am so glad that I did.  There are commitments, covenants, promises that I hang on to and fight for and nurture and grow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Prairie Song Photo Walk

Saturday was a pioneer day for me.
Pioneering into new territory.
Hosting and leading a photo walk and art retreat.

Five lovely ladies
joined me for a day of seeking.

Seeking the unique beauty
of wildflowers
fence posts and barbed wire
gravel roads
the unique beauty
of each other.

Our mission was to search for birds
but they were hiding most of the time.
We did hear them sing their prairie song to us.

Sometimes in life
we have to open our eyes
to what is there
to enjoy

when the thing that we had hoped for

does not 

show up,

come through,


I was hopeful
these ladies
would not get bored with the prairie.

My hopes were so fulfilled.

As we spent about one hour
along a short little stretch
of our gravel road.

And another hour
in the summer sun
White Owl Creek.

Abundance is what we found.
Abundance is what I saw when I looked
at my photographer friends.
In John 10 Jesus said,
I have come that they may have life,
and have it more abundantly.

That is what I saw:
abundant life,
abundant fascination,
abundant beauty.

What beauty do we miss every day
that we drive by or walk by?
Just outside our door?
Or right inside our home sitting right beside us?

Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a nap,
but thumbed through the TV schedule and found 
a documentary:

The message was so much the same as what I had shared.
Slow down.  Be kind. Gentle. Authentic.
Look for the beautiful uniqueness in each person
and like them for who they really are.
See the beautiful, noble, and sacred right where you are.
True to me, it brought tears to my eyes as I watched.
Fred Rogers and I would have been great friends, I think.
We could have done a wonderful retreat together!
But instead I work out carrying on his heart
for being kind to others,
for depth and simplicity
for liking people just the way they are.
And that does take work.

Tomorrow, I will share our art project time.

Watch for new dates appearing on the blog soon!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Beautiful In It's Time ~ Prairie Song

He has made 
in it's time.
Also, He has put eternity in their hearts
except that no one can find out
the work that God does
from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

I don't know how He does it.
I don't know what His time frame is.
But I have faith.
Even though I cannot completely see it.
I believe that He is good.
Because of the little glimpses I have seen.
And when things test and try my faith,
that is the belief that gets me through,
that in the end, it will be ok,
and if it's not ok, it's not the end.
And that not only will it be ok,
it will

When the beauty 
is real and vibrant and visible,
I look for it.
I find it.
And I do my best to remember it.

My girls were my set up crew today.
Getting ready for a day
of seeking
and finding
and remembering
and honoring
and having gratitude
everyday beauty
in real life
on the prairie.

Finding beauty in everyday.
Becoming fascinated with the ordinary.
Having gratitude for the here and now.
100 years goes faster than you think . . . Don't blink.

All of those things
do not always come easy.

They are a challenge.
A challenge I give myself, remind myself,
to live out.

It has made a difference.

Finding . . .
Beauty in everyday life.

Finding . . .
Beauty in God.

Finding . . . 
Beauty in who he made me to be.
(Dare I say that? Dare I believe it?)

True beauty.
Deep in the heart.

Every good and perfect gift comes from above ~ 
it says in the book of James.

Do I see the gifts?
Or do I walk right on by and never notice?
Seeing them
has given me abundance
right here,
right now

Do I have beauty to offer?
Do you?

Yes indeed.  I believe every woman has a unique beauty to give
that is hers and hers alone that was meant to be shared,
that was given to her by an intentional God in love and truth.

Our little White Owl Community Hall is all set up
artsy and pretty and beautiful
for a day with beautiful women
on the beautiful prairie
given and created by a
beautiful God.

Looking forward to taking a leap of faith
sharing my first art and photo and faith retreat!

Tomorrow is the day!

Linking up with Studio JRU here:
sneak peek

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Awful Beautiful Life

South Dakota Capital Building, Pierre, SD, class field trip

May 2012.

It reminds me of this song Awful Beautiful Life by
that says,

I laid in bed that night and thought about the day
And how my life is like a roller coaster ride
The ups and downs and crazy turns along the way
It'll throw you off if you don't hold on tight
You can't really smile until you've shed some tears
I could die today or I might live on for years

I love this crazy, tragic,
Sometimes almost magic,
Awful, beautful life

Preschool Graduation.



School Field Trip ~ Ice Skating



Laura Ingalls Wilder costume and biography report on Grandparent's Day 


I am



Kindergarten Screening






That is what May is like.

Shaw Ranch Branding 2012

We shift gears


ranch work

to school projects

to sports,

field trips



Meade County Rural Schools Rally Day 2012


The kids grow.
We learn.
We do our best.
We learn how to win.
We learn how to lose.
We learn to cheer on our friends.
We learn our strengths.
We learn our weaknesses.
We confront our frustrations and fears.
We work and we play.
We pray.

It is 

fast and furious

in the spring.

Mother's Day at Four Corners Bridge with the one who still holds my heart in his hands


I carry my


so I can
get a grasp
of the moments
that pass

Moments that I don't want to miss.

I can
our time

That it 
and full

and required

And I am reminded
that it is ok

to just notice
where I am
on the way
to where

Click this picture to register for my first art & photo retreat! Yay!

I feel

And here we are.

so fast
I am 
missing it.

Even though
I am right here
in the midst of all of it.

{Darryl Worley}

Finding Heaven