In June of 2011 as I was beginning a six week daily regimen of radiation treatments to ensure no malignant cells remained after surgery removed a very small breast cancer tumor, I formally invited my new friend Carrie, to begin working with me on what has now become Ever Thine Home.
I had watched Carrie’s creative work from a distance, admiring amazing wedding invitations and Christmas cards, creative fliers and webpages; finally I mustered the courage to ask her to join me. But we’d never met in person. Ours was an ‘I’d heard of her, she’d heard of me’ acquaintance. Our last face to face interaction was when she was a student in the sixth grade Sunday school class my husband and I taught! Now she was a married thirty something without children and I an empty nester. After the first meeting we sensed our partnership was a match made in heaven. From day one I knew she was the one, though I wondered how long she’d stick with this older woman’s dream. Gratefully she hasn’t given up on me and like my daughters Carrie keeps me young.
Before I continue this story a small detour is in order. When my first two children were very young and my husband Dennis and I had just started a tiny ministry to help marriages and families, now widely known as FamilyLife, I made a decision to put away my art supplies and delay the development of my artistic interests until my children were much older. The decision was mine alone and was prompted by my own impatience with my little ones when they interrupted mommy’s artistic endeavors. It was not pretty. My impatience was actually quite ugly and selfish and I knew my children were more important than growing my mustard seed talent. So for the sake of the more important canvases God had given me to paint and influence, I boxed up all my art supplies and put them on the shelf and told God that day, “I don’t know why you gave me artistic interests and ability if I can’t develop it, but I do know you gave me these two children (four more followed) and shaping them is more important than growing my own talents. I give my art to you today and if you want to give it back to me some day that is Your business not mine. I will trust your timing and give thanks even if I never get it back.”
To be sure I did not stop being a creative or artistic person, but I expressed that side of my God-given genetics in other ways that didn’t demand the focus of my previous part time art career. I channeled that drive into sewing, quilting, smocking, painting rooms and furniture, helping my kids with their art and science fair projects, creating garden spaces in our wooded two acre plot of earth, designing lots of print projects for my kids’ schools, and helping my husband with his writing and other creative endeavors. My priorities changed that day, not my creative wiring. I chose to serve my husband and children instead of my own interests, hoping that some day my turn would come.
When my youngest was a sophomore in high school God opened the door to the world of art for me once again. Beginning lessons that year felt like a banquet after a long famine. Now I could be fully engaged with no guilt and no regrets.
During my twenty year sabbatical from art I would often search for beautiful meaningful ways to express my faith at home, but I found little. I also looked for ways to teach my children the great truths of the Bible that were deeper than kid storybooks; again nothing. And last I wished for something to make a statement of who we belonged to in our home. Something beautiful, intriguing and elegant like a piece of art that had to be studied to be understood. Sadly there has been a parting of ways between art and biblical truth since the days of grand cathedrals and renaissance art. What was once woven tightly has unraveled.
I am truly amazed at what God has birthed through Ever Thine Home in these seven short years. And Carrie and I have marveled at how well our partnership has worked, how alike we are in our thinking, tastes and even sleep patterns! Her eye for design has taken my ideas to a level I could not have achieved on my own. In the last year we have expanded our little team of two to include Jim, whose full time presence has add immeasurably in countless ways, a collection of valuable skilled contributors within FamilyLife, and other outside helpers including my daughters, Ashley and Laura.
The story behind the story is God knows what He is doing. His timetable is impeccable. Beautiful design married to eternal truth is a winning combination. And we are having a great time.