Seeing the World through Their Eyes

Our kitten Ash.

I love art. Art makes my brain zip and zing and come alive!

I love digging in and doing artsy stuff myself. And I really love watching creativity happen. I love the way you can give 25 or even 250   people the very same art supplies and all of the art projects they dream up will be different.   Some slightly – others dramatically – but none of the creations folks dream up will be exactly the same.

I love the unpredictability of art. I love that art has unexpected surprises.

I love that art is open-ended and that in art there aren’t any “right” answers. You simply   can’t do art wrong. (Unless you refuse to give art a try or mock art. I think mocking art or refusing to try art is probably the wrong choice . . . but keeping our hearts and minds closed to new experiences and opportunities is rarely the better option.)

One of my greatest joys in parenting the McFarland sons has been the opportunity to expose Jack and Will to art and art supplies. Our home is filled with art supplies (and books).   We are big on both around here!

This picture shows our busy dining room table all cluttered up with art supplies and a bonus stuffed animal.

Our dining room table’s centerpiece is a huge antique wooden tray filled with essential art supplies: tape – cardstock – Ball jars of scissors – Sharpies – pencils – and pens.   It is always there – unless we are using the table for a puzzle or playing a board game. (We eat there sometimes too – but the tray doesn’t need to move for meals. Our plates aren’t that big!?!?!)

Anyway – I love art. And I love sharing my passion for art with Jack and Will.   Both of our sons regularly reach for art supplies to create and make.   And when they do – they put their own wonderful spin on their creations. Nothing they make looks like something their mom would make.

Will’s creations are often dominated by the color orange. Will reaches first for the orange marker – the orange play dough – the orange crayon – the orange beads – the orange anything really. Orange is Will’s signature color.

Will is also very precise and detail oriented. He will image something and then he will work tirelessly to make his artistic vision come into existence. William abhors it when something fails to live up to his artistic vision! Will’s standards are high and can be intimidating.

Why yes – he did choose this impressive ensemble himself!

When failing to meet Will’s standards – I have foolishly tried to engage him in philosophical conversations about art. Sharing with Will – how no art is bad art and the need to see the beauty in creating and imperfection leaves him unmoved. His response is usually something like – “Good – that can be YOURS. Mine should have (straighter sides – accurate detailing – the proper shade of paint – etc) – thank you!

Okay then . . .

Will has high expectations.

Jack also loves to craft and make and will try anything that peaks his interest and lots of things have peaked his interest over the years.   Jack’s approach to art has always been a bit more experimental. He is more willing to give something a whirl and see what will happen.

He loves to give things a try – to experiment – to dig in. To simply give it a go and see what will happen.

Jack free-hand embroiders. Jack can tie-dye like a pro. Jack makes nifty paracord creations. Jack doodles and draws and sketches too. Jack has been doing some pretty cool beading this summer.

Over the years Jack has tried his hand at all sorts of things – but other than sketching and doodling and drawing (especially with black Sharpie) – he hasn’t found that medium that drew him in and kept him coming back again and again month after month after month. Jack hadn’t found his artistic passion.

But this year Jack may have found his artistic passion (what I think might be Jack’s knitting).

Jack took a black and white film photography class as his senior year elective – and he fell hard for photography. Jack loves photography – especially black and white film photography.

Jack walks through life with a camera slung over his shoulder – kinda like the way his mom walks through life with knitting in her hands.

Jack says this is one of the images that he will always carry with him when he thinks of his parents = us walking side by side. . .

One camera led to other cameras. And to intriguing lessons on the merits of film over digital photography.   And developing film and light readings and golden hours and all sorts of things I never knew anything about!

I love listening and learning from folks when they are willing to share about their passions. Learning about one of my sons’ passions – well – it doesn’t get any better than this!

I have always loved seeing the world through my sons’ eyes and through their artistic creations. And now – seeing the world through Jack’s photos – well sometimes – my boy – leaves me thinking really big thinks . . . Really BIG thinks . . .

Jack’s photography intrigues me – because it feels like he is giving me a glimpse into the way he sees his world and the people in it.

Jack’s photography shows me what catches his eye and interests him – and I find this intriguing.

I feel honored to see what he sees – even if it was only for a moment.

After all – isn’t that a huge part of relationship (sometimes a huge hurdle) – trying to see the world from another person’s perspective?

Jack’s mom and his wrecked car.

What have you learned from a loved one lately? Have you been open to listening and learning something from someone else? Have you allowed yourself to be vulnerable enough to try to see the world from someone else’s point of view – if only for a moment?

My sons have made me wiser (if I can claim any wisdom at all that is).

Hoops – Hilarity – Laughter and Learning

Saint Stephen on Easter morning.

Part of the call process in the ELCA entails churches and pastors exchanging great big packets of documents full of information about ourselves.   We tend to call this “The Call Paperwork.”

Filling out this paperwork is arduous – time consuming and often just plain excruciating.

And I believe this is completely intentional! If the ELCA makes the call process annoying enough – then their pastors aren’t going to be quitting their current churches every single time it gets tough or boring or annoying. Sure – the church council may be driving you to distraction. BUT it is probably better and certainly much – MUCH easier to stay put and fix the problem than it is to face the 40 pages of paperwork it takes just to start the process of moving to a new church! (Not that the Saint Stephen church council would ever bug me. Our relationship is a delight and a blessing and a joy!)

(Anyway – I digress – AGAIN!) When I received the initial call paperwork from the Indiana-Kentucky Synod over 12 years ago now – for a church called Saint Stephen in Louisville – Kentucky – one of the first things I declared to Jason was – “I don’t know about moving to such a big city . . . ”

To which my husband replied – “Read the paperwork – Kerri.   Keep an open mind.” Jason is like this. He insists on bringing logic and level-headedness to every situation – even when total irrationality is called for!

So – I kept an open mind – and it was love at first sight/read. And I hadn’t even met Brenda or Tammy or Paul and the rest of the call committee yet! I knew Saint Stephen would be my next call if you all would have me . . .

The second thing I commented on was our church’s name.

Saint Stephen in the quiet hush of Christmas Eve.

Saint Stephen . . . Hmmm . . . Interesting . . .

I knew Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr and his life is written about in the New Testament book of Acts – but I couldn’t recall much more. Who was this Saint Stephen guy – I wondered?

So – I grabbed a Bible (my trusty Thompson Chain with the easy reference index in the back to be exact) and looked up Stephen and started to read.   Stephen is a fascinating and inspiring man of faith. I was and continue to be thrilled to serve a Christian community named for such an incredible man of faith.

Saint Stephen fed the hungry. He cared for widows and orphans. He could summarize the Old Testament. He knew his faith and could debate rings around the best religious scholars of his day. And Saint Stephen was loving and gracious and filled with mercy. Saint Stephen was humble and that is rare and beautiful.

Saint Stephen is so cool and inspiring that I decided to plan a VBS style evening of fun – fellowship and learning around his life.

There were Saint Stephen themed games and snacks and crafts and of course we all learned about the life and ministry of our special namesake saint.   We also ate and talked and chatted and chattered – because we are Lutheran Christians and we rock at this like a bunch of rock stars.

We started the evening with a yummy – summery feast. We ate and drank and chatted and talked and laughed and raised the decibel level in the fellowship hall to a delightfully distracting level. There was Jello and chips and watermelon and tea and the companionship of our sisters and brothers in Christ. I wandered and meandered from table to table and chatted with amazing Lutheran after amazing Lutheran. Wow – do I love Lutherans!

After supper – we headed into the sanctuary to spend some time together learning about Saint Stephen.   Saint Stephen was one cool and deeply inspiring guy.

My lesson plan even included a menu and was about 10 pages long!

I may have been the one with the carefully constructed lesson plan for the evening – but like every single time I lead a Bible study – I learned so much from my sisters and brothers in Christ.

The folks of Saint Stephen are wise and insightful. I especially loved listening and learning and hearing folks share about the many and varied ways they serve God in their daily lives.

After our more formal time of learning and discussion in the sanctuary – we headed back into the fellowship hall and courtyard room for games – snacks and crafting. This was when the decibel level really rose in the church and the wild rumpus got rolling!

Jack and Caitlyn were in charge of the first game. The goal was to throw your pool noodle hoops around as much food for the Fern Creek/Highview United Ministries as possible. Much hilarity ensued as laughing Lutheran after laughing Lutheran gave it a whirl and a twirl and a try!

(The winner was our very own Jason McFarland. I assure you that he had no extra insider help or practice time . . . Seriously!)

While the gaming was happening in the fellowship hall – crafting was happening in the courtyard room. Folks were making heart and cross key chains or beaded necklaces/bracelets/key chains/hearts. The creativity was flowing.

I love to see what folks design and come up with when they are presented with a table or two of craft supplies and are encouraged to play and explore and create and just have fun!

The snacks/desserts came from the creative minds of Markley/Drewett family. We were treated to delicious cookies topped with homemade strawberry buttercream icing! The cookies were symbolic of the rocks that were used to stone Stephen and the pink hearts were reminders of Saint Stephen’s love – even for those who murdered him.

Our final activity was a scavenger hunt all over Saint Stephen to test the participants’ knowledge about their church.

There were clues like:

Where you will find Saint Stephen’s very own electric chair!

Where you could leave your offering to the Lord!

This place has beautiful red – yellow and white stained-glass windows (just red – yellow and white stained-glass windows) and a cross with Jesus’ name.

The Beckman family almost always sits here for worship.

The teams know our church quite well and were very evenly matched – because while the pink team won – it was close. They were neck and neck!

I had a wonderful evening with my sisters and brothers in Christ – learning – laughing – chatting and celebrating the blessings of Christian community.

These 2 are clearly working on world peace . . . I bet they would make AWESOME church council members!

And I am already starting to plan the next special event night . . . Moses and Miriam? Or Maybe another saint . . .

Pat bought the coffee. I wonder – was this a commentary on the people for whom he was purchasing the coffee . . .!?!?!?!?!