My dad was Mr. Ewing, the art teacher. He would visit all the schools in the district, bringing fun projects to our classes for once-a-week art sessions. We did everything from drawing to photography. It was great, especially for me. The children in my class would say, “Your dad is Mr. Ewing?!” “Yes,” I would answer with all the coolness that a celebrity of this magnitude was entitled to.
His “office” was on the third floor of an old school office building. He had a darkroom where we would help him develop pictures. He had places to paint, wide tables, BIG rolls of tape, crayons, markers, and a HUGE paper cutter. It was amazing. (I believe this is where my love for office supplies was born.) My dad was happy there and my brothers and I felt so special when he would bring us into his creative world.
Once in a while, he helped us to make something with clay and then fire it in the kiln. Often, I would find myself a little frustrated if one of my projects wasn’t turning out like I had pictured it in my head. When I voiced my complaint, my dad explained that starting with a plan, laying the pieces out, and looking at a clear picture of what you want to create will lead to success. But, the secret to making something better than you first imagined comes when you open yourself up to new ways and new ideas. Although the basic concept does not change, the creative process should always allow for change and adaptation. Somewhere between a solid plan and a flowing and flexible execution, something more beautiful than you first imagined can be created.
We experience this same creative process in our mothering. This creative process helped me to go from fumbling through the basics of baby care to being able to organize a home and family with nine individual schedules.
I started with a plan, and although the basic plan or end goal stayed constant, over the years, I changed my philosophies of life and how I look at myself and others. This personal evolution taught me to slow down and to encourage those who are struggling without judgment. I laugh at the theories I had at the beginning of motherhood and consider, sometimes joyfully and sometimes wistfully, the realities at my present stage. I cringe at what I thought was important and what I came to realize has no importance, and I gratefully acknowledge that this ongoing journey of motherhood has taught me so much that I couldn't have learned in any other way.
Just as the results of our earnest artistic endeavors go into the hot fires of the kiln to solidify and bake into a beautiful creation, we, too, are put through the refining fires of motherhood. In the process, we can develop Christlike attributes of wisdom, love, and patience that come from the consecration and sacrifice that are part of constant nurturing.
If during the creative process of motherhood, we stick determinedly to the initial plan we made, not allowing for mistakes or new ideas or ways of doing things, we may miss out on the potential of what we can become in partnership with the Lord. But, if we allow for the process of faith, inspiration, and innovation in the execution of life's plans, what comes out of the kiln of life can be far more magnificent than our original conception. We will have a life full of those sweet moments that arise from sharing our changing dreams, our frustrations, our realizations and triumphs with Him. And in the end, we will find that something beautiful has been created.
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