I am NOT my job.

Hello loves!

I suppose the title of this post could be taken a bit controversially; What exactly do I mean, “I am not my job?”  Does it mean I don’t like my job?  Does it mean that I don’t want to be classified as an Art Teacher or Artist?  Does it mean that my job (or any job, for that matter) is not important?

NO.

Does it mean that we often stereotype incorrectly based on a person’s occupation?  Does it mean that I don’t want to be seen ONLY as an Art Teacher?  Does it mean that my job is only ONE aspect of who I am?

YES.

Right now, I’m blessed enough to be going through a virtual Bible Study with some AMAZING ladies through Facebook.  We are reading “Working Women of the Bible,” by Susan Dimickele.  Each of us is a working lady… I’m an Art Teacher, obviously, but others are Personal Trainers, STAHMs, Auditors and all sorts of professionals.  I’m only one chapter in the book right now, but I LOVE it.  I am so excited about what this study will bring, and (being the nerd I am) I can’t wait to use the study guide as I journal and sketch all the inspiration, life lessons, and amazing stories I learn as I meed various women of the Bible.

So yes, I am an Art Teacher, but I am SO much more than that.  As I was re-reading Genesis 1, I came across a tidbit that I’d written a while ago that really sums it up: “Our occupation/function/job in God’s kingdom is NOT what defines us or gives us our worth… God’s very creation OF us is what gives us INFINITE worth. (Specifically referring to Genesis 1:27 here-“God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”

Oh snap!  He created THEM, MALE AND FEMALE… in His image.  Both of the genders.  In His image.  Even in our crazy, chaotic, gender-stereotyped and otherwise inequality-burdened world, we can find comfort in the fact that God intended something different; something more fulfilling and equitable for everyone.  (Dimickele 22).  I could talk all day about inequality and why I think we should treat others better than we often do.  I can’t understand how someone’s skin color, gender, ethnicity, background, etc. changes who they are; NO MATTER WHAT, we are all children of God, and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory (Romans 3:23), but He loves us ANYWAYS!  There is nothing to be gained by demeaning others, lifting yourself or others up, or fostering racism (of any kind).  We can’t “earn” status with God… all we can do is accept it.  This blows my mind!

However, I digress… The point of this post is not to ramble or rant about fairness (or my perception thereof).  The reason I wanted to write this post is to share that you, my friend, are worth so much more than your career.  Our careers are so fleeting, ultimately such a minimal part of our lives and existence (maybe not in hours, but definitely in purpose)!  What’s more; our careers are always changing… we jump from one job to the next sometimes, trying to climb up the corporate ladder, nail the next audition, earn partner, or receive the highest honors in our field, whatever they may be.  ONE thing remains constant: God and His calling for our life.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

This calling is something that matters more than the ins and outs of daily life.  God doesn’t call us to ONE career–He calls us to one purpose, which He can fulfill through any career, if we let Him and expect Him to show up.

I’m not advocating career-hopping.  The last thing I think people need is inconsistency and unreliability!  However, sometimes we change.  Our circumstances change.  The job and its requirements change.  Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves and everyone around us is to be honest; admit that we are either overwhelmed, or the job isn’t right anymore, WE aren’t right for the job at this time, or whatever.

I’ll use a personal example here.  I taught Art for two years (2012-2014).  I was so excited to use my degree and make a difference right out of college.  I graduated from Brevard in May 2012, and by June 15, I had a job… IN MY FIELD.  Honestly, I was surprised, ’cause I’d always been told that was rare, especially in the Arts.  I had all sorts of ideas of what I would do in the classroom, what my life would look like, and where I was headed.

God had other plans.

The first year was pretty good; I had done well, my students succeeded, and I got along with all my colleagues.  However, I wasn’t at peace entirely.  Throughout the second year, I struggled.  Not as far as the job was concerned; I knew what I was talking about, what I was doing, and teaching came easily to me.  Since that seemed to be the case, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t love it.  I kept thinking to myself, if God gave me this talent for teaching, why don’t I love it?  It got to a point where I was pretty unhappy, and wanted to go back to school, back to being in a studio, painting and working every day.

I spent the next two years at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, way up near Canada (for reference).  I LOVED IT.  Everything about it.  And I made so many amazing friends, connections, and learned SO much.  Then I graduated, culminating in the most surreal exhibition experience I’ve EVER had.  I found myself at a crossroads.  I had gone to graduate school to pursue a career in the Museum/Gallery aspect of the Arts, so I tried that.  I quickly realized that, between two jobs, I had no time to make my own work.  I thought I hadn’t had time during my teaching years, but juggling two jobs taught me that I really DID, I just didn’t realize it or know how to maximize it.

Enter Pinnacle Classical Academy.  I began thinking about teaching more and more, realizing (after the fact, of course) what I had taken for granted the first time around.  A dear high school teacher of mine reached out to me about teaching Middle and High School Art at Pinnacle, and I was leery at first, simply based on my previous experience.  But I was also excited.  I had done my student teaching at the high school level, and knew I loved that age group.  My first teaching job had been 5th and 6th grade and I only saw them once a week, if even.  At Pinnacle, I’d see them more regularly and for longer class periods.  Plus the school is on the newer side; I would be able to be part of something in it’s developmental stages, evolving as the school grows and improves.  THAT was and is super exciting to me.

So now, I’ll be teaching again in a few weeks.  I’m setting up my classroom soon, rolling out lesson plans, making samples, and drawing up some posters for the classroom.  Meanwhile, I’m really genuinely excited.  Add to that this Bible Study on working women of the Bible, and its focus on putting God first in work and doing everything for Him (Colossians 3:23) and this girl is ready to go!  I’m in a better headspace.  I appreciate what I have more, plus my nephew is 2.5 and has a wee little sister on the way and I now live only 15 minutes from them.

I know the future is uncertain.  I have no idea where this will lead.  I only know one thing: God says, “I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) BRING IT ON!  And keep me accountable, friends.

Peace and love,

Danielle

Nowhere Near…

Do you ever have those days where you realize you’re NOWHERE near where you thought you would be at a certain point in your life?  Maybe you thought you’d be married by a certain age, or done with school by a certain year.  Maybe you thought you’d be traveling or living/working somewhere exotic.  Maybe you never thought you’d leave home, or vice versa, couldn’t wait to leave, but haven’t.  Maybe you’ve failed at something, lost a job.  Maybe your significant other broke up with you, or you have been disappointed, stepped on, or let down in more ways than you can count.

Maybe you never had any idea where you’d go, who you’d be, or what you’d do…

Maybe you still don’t.

contentment
Can I just say that I honestly think Philippians 4 is my favorite chapter of the Bible?! 4:11 and 4:13 are two of my favorite verses EVERRRRRR! 

This is something I struggle with sometimes (okay… a lot).  I’ve always been the type of person to look forward to the next thing; graduation from HS, graduation from College, working, marriage, living life… I’m generally happy and easily excitable, but am I content?  Do I know how to really live in the moment, soaking it up and enjoying all the wonders that God provides every day?

new-mercies

As I sit here, on the day I turn 27, I reflect on the past years of my life.  I’ve done a lot, seen a lot, loved and worked a lot.  I’m not ANYWHERE near where I thought I’d be, had you asked me at 10.  I harbored fantasies that I’d be married by now (yes, I’m one of those people who have a pinterest board dedicated to my “one-day dream wedding”…no, I’m not ashamed), working at a job I loved, in a really cool place with lots of things to do, and of course I’d be making art, writing, reading, and doing all the things I love.

I’ve lost my hearing at 5, gained a Cochlear Implant at 6, played soccer for 16 years, graduated from High School as valedictorian, completed college with honors, struggled with an eating disorder (from which I learned a lot, and am eternally thankful for the people who supported me even when it made me want to hate them), run marathons, taught school, obtained a Masters degree, worked in museums, worked in a coffee shop (YUMMMMMM!), and am now wondering what else I will do.  I’m on the brink of potentially doing some things I couldn’t have pictured before; I’ve changed and grown a lot over the years, and I think I have a healthier perspective now than I’ve ever had.

There’s really only one thing I’m sure of… (okay; two… coffee is DELISH).

confidence

Okay, I think I’ll leave it at that for now.  Sorry (not sorry) for all the images, but as an artist, images often speak more than text alone.  I should make some images with verses and watercolors and sell those… hmmm… or just plaster them all over my walls to remind me of what I never EVER want to lose sight of!

Love you all!

Danielle

“Patience is a virtue”

We’ve all heard it said AT LEAST a million times… “Patience is a virtue.”  I honestly have no idea where this quote originated, and let me spare you the time of looking it up online; you’ll get a zillion different answers, and who knows which one is correct!

For me, I’ve heard it the most from my parents…

As a kid, I was ready to start playing soccer before I was old enough… “Patience is a virtue.”  (Although, my Athletic Director father went ahead and let me start)

When I lost my hearing, I was impatient to get to the next step, because I had to wear useless hearing aids (hearing aids are great, but when you have NO hearing for them to aid, not so much)… “Patience is a virtue.”

Growing up, I’d be super-impatient about something with school, theatre, art, etc… there it was again… “Patience is a virtue.”

Applying for college… “Patience is a virtue.”

Now I’m at a point of my life where I’ve heard it SO many times, I’m about sick of it, honestly.  I graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with my MFA in Fine Art this past May, and have VERY impatiently been applying and waiting for jobs.  In fact, I’ve been so impatient, I let fear rule my thoughts, and I almost took a job I didn’t really want, simply for the sake of working again–I’m so ready to get out on my own again, pave my own way into this crazy world, meet new people, see new things, visit new places…

But am I REALLY ready?  I know I’m mentally ready… but maybe I’m not physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually ready… All I know is that God has been really working on patience with me lately.  I KNOW that He will provide a job and sustenance and that His timing is so so so so much better than mine.  I KNOW that.  I trust Him.

But do I really LIVE out that knowledge, that trust?

I think that’s what God is trying to tell me.  Until I can 100% trust Him, maybe I’m not really ready to be on my own again.  Maybe He wants me to stay with my parents longer than I want, so I can be part of their lives, and enjoy the time I have with them, ’cause goodness knows it won’t last forever.  Maybe He wants me to be close to my brother and his wife, so I can watch their ADORABLE child, Bailey, grow up a bit before I leave and go elsewhere.  Maybe, maybe, maybe…

That brings me to today’s devotional reading from “David: Seeking God’s Heart,” a devotional study written by Beth Moore.  Today, I was reading in 2 Samuel, and the title of the chapter in the study was “Right Place: Sometimes God reveals Himself through experiences we don’t understand.”

Hello, smack in the face!

Today’s specific passage was 2 Samuel 2:1-7.  David has just heard about Saul’s death, as well as that of Saul’s sons, including Jonathan, with whom David was incredibly close.  David is trying to decide what to do, and where to go from here.  Instead of acting of his own accord, David ASKED God what he should do!  This is super important to note–at least for me–because David ALWAYS asked God what he should do before he did ANYTHING.  David knows that God can answer and that He will… in HIS time.  This is where Beth Moore says, “He had taken some wrong turns and some right turns, but he took virtually every step crying out to his God,” which reminds me that, no matter where we go or what we do, if we strive to plant our feet in God’s Way, we will get where we are going… it may  be a different route than we originally think… it may not be the scenic route… and it may start MUCH later than we want it to… but God knows what His plan is, not us… and HE knows what needs to happen in order to make it come to fruition.  We just need to trust and follow.

I used to think that constantly asking God for direction would be like pestering Him… like, He has SO much going on that I shouldn’t “bother” him by asking for the same thing over and over again.  But that is exactly what David does.  He asks God for direction, repeatedly, until God gives him specifics.  And until God does supply these specifics, David stays put.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do anything or go anywhere until God says something extremely specific (I honestly believe that God can and will use us anywhere, even if it’s somewhere that seems unlikely).  In fact, if you struggle with that, you should totally read the book, “Just Do Something,” by Kevin DeYoung.  It’s a pretty good read!

one day.jpg
Unfortunately, I cannot take any credit for this absolutely gorgeous and inspiring collage! 

Basically, what I’m saying is that, maybe… just maybe… asking God for specific directions isn’t a sign of impatience or a lack of trust.  Maybe it’s a sign of deepened trust; a trust that transcends the fear of becoming a bother.  Maybe, like prayer, asking God for specific directions is more for us, as humans, than it is for God.  Perhaps it is a reminder, a daily mantra, to help us persevere in our patience and remember just why it is that we are patiently waiting for God’s direction: ‘Cause His way is the ONLY way!

Beth Moore left some pretty good guidelines/suggestions for how to learn to listen to God’s Word when we are in doubt or struggling with what to do.  I’m gonna leave them here, and challenge you, and myself, to try to incorporate these more daily:

  1. Acknowledge your specific need for direction.
  2. Continue to pray and study His Word daily.
  3. Ask God to HELP you recognize His answer (we humans can be pretty darn dumb)
  4. Ask for a confirmation if you have any doubt. (God didn’t even hate Thomas for doubting, way back in John 20:24-29, when he appears to Thomas and the disciples after the Resurrection… He won’t hate us.  He’ll just help us understand.)

Sorry it’s a bit of a long one this time… I guess I had a lot to say!

Peace, love and Jesus,

Danielle

Another revelation, while painting Revelations! … and LET IT GO!

Hello lovelies,

So here it is: my promised post about my thesis show and today’s critique!  Which shall I start with?… how ’bout an IMAGE?!  Here’s one: (there are more throughout)

living creatures

I’ll start with today’s critique.  I’ll come right out and say that It did NOT go how I would have liked. The professor was not “too” critical or anything like that, and I did get some helpful, constructive feedback.  No one was mean or “overly” nice…

so WHY was it not my best critique?

Well, in retrospect, I realize that many factors built into today’s mood: I was already frustrated because the critiques of my classmates dragged on for FOUR class days already, and we were in the last 30 minutes or so of the fourth class day (that’s 12 hours, spread throughout 3 weeks, at least), and I didn’t think we would even get to my work today.  My irritation and frustration have been growing since the beginning of the semester; I wasn’t happy with painting, my professor was projecting himself on my painting style, and there are/were other frustrations… (I’m just not including those photos)

big eagle lion sketch

THAT being said, when today’s critique was full of the professor “finishing” the painting in his style, verbally, and seeming to push me in a direction I am NOT taking the painting, it was the last straw.  I realized a week or so ago that I MISS my old studio practice.  I MISS pastel sketches, painting in high contrast, using jewel-tones, and trusting myself.  It took listening to my peers and talking with them to realize that I was rather lost, for a while.  I tell my drawing students, all the time, that they should trust themselves and go with their gut… but I wasn’t listening to myself.  Now, I realize that I have to take what is said by the professor, and apply it to what I want to do, how I want to do it.

The moment I had that “revelation,” I felt like Elsa, from Frozen….”let it go!”  So here’s a picture from buzzfeed, ’cause who DOESN’T love Elsa?!

get-frozen-again-as-elsa-sings-let-it-go-in-25-la-1-16133-1390324078-27_big

Over the past several weeks, I have realized that my thesis exhibition is MINE.  Yes, my professor is there for guidance and can certainly teach me new things, but ultimately, I cannot let him force me to compromise my vision.  And a vision is exactly what I am depicting.  I’m re-presenting (’cause it’s already been presented once, by John) John’s visions from Patmos in Revelation…. My professor–and others–may not “get it,” but for a while, I was painting for my professor, and I lost my way.  I realize that I live, breathe, and paint for an audience of one: God.  When I let go of what my professor was pushing me toward, I was able to regain some of my old truthfulness.  I know how to paint.  I may not be the best artist, but that’s okay… I just need to be true to myself, paint for God, and allow Him to work through me.

YES, that feels good.  YES, it is a huge sigh of relief… BUT my professor’s “stray-causing”…? (I’ll call it that) is not without benefits.  Through my frustration with painting, I realized that trying to paint ALL of Revelations is ridiculous.  There’s so much I can never understand or fathom. God even says very clearly that “no mind can comprehend…” (1 Corinthians 2:9) The more I think about it, also, the more I realize that part of my vision of Revelations is NOT painting at all… it’s sculpture.  When I read about the seven bowls from Revelations, I do not see them as paintings, but as actual bowls!

Am I a sculptor?  NOOOOOO… haha… BUT, I did take Sculpture last semester, and honestly, I enjoyed it a LOT more than I expected to… or than I let on.  AND, I realized that, for me, a huge part of being at RIT is learning to be an ARTIST, not “just a painter,” and what better way to express my growth as an artist than to present an interdisciplinary show?  What better way to represent Revelations than how my initial vision portrays it?  That’s what Revelations is, after all: Visions.

So, that being said… I’m thinking three paintings, and seven bowls.  Both numbers are Biblically symbolic and significant… Three for the Holy Trinity, the anti-trinity (which is depicted in one of my paintings, along with the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the 4 living creatures around the throne of Heaven).  Seven is one of the most common numbers in Revelations, and is a symbol of wholeness and completion.  Here is some research based on the numbers 3 and 7, in Revelations, specifically:

“Next to seven, 3 is the most commonly found or referenced number in Revelation. An angel is charged to cry three woe’s to those who live on earth to warn them of more trials to come (Revelation 8:13). The murdered bodies of the Two Witnesses will not be allowed to be buried but rather will lie openly in Jerusalem for three days before they are resurrected. Three unclean spirits will be allowed to deceive the whole world to FIGHT the returning Jesus Christ in what is called the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:13 – 16). The new Jerusalem, created by God for placement on a new earth, will be shaped like a square with three gates on each side (Revelation 21:13).”     —http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/3.html

There’s way too much about the number seven for one “nugget,” so, click here.

Here’s one last image for you… I’m toying around with the idea of Hope, and how to insert that… so this is a cute dove I’m considering… I’ve done several different sketches in different poses, but this guy is the only one I snapped, so far:

dove

So, I don’t know exactly what my thesis will be, in the end… but I know who I want to rely on for guidance, and I have a rough plan… for me, that is enough.

As always, peace love and art!  RENEWED! -Danielle