I carry a wadded up turquoise tablecloth out the back door and shake breakfast crumbs over the porch railing. I turn to go back inside to set the dinner table, but light catches the corner of my eye. Green leaves dancing in early evening breeze light up like thin paper lanterns. I drop the tablecloth on a dusty chair and grab my phone from its back pocket home, then tiptoe down three stairs for a closer look. Quiet as to not disturb nature’s artistry at work.
Click. I capture five-pointed leaves made more alive by the day’s last light. I breathe.
* * *
I snap pictures of browning banana peels on my kitchen counter, left haphazard by my husband. I frame the scene in pixels, not because discarded fruit skins are a thing of beauty, but because God uses the commonplace to teach my heart uncommon truths. To teach me that sacrificial love is not just a fancy term in some archaic book; it’s the saving grace Gospel in the one Good Book. The message we’re called to live.
The Creator of bananas, marriage, and forgiveness chose to make me a writer. I write to learn the lesson full. So I sit down at my curb-rescued desk and type out the message He’s writing in me. The post title reads, “Banana Peels and a Lesson in Perspective,” and by the end I know I’m tasked with throwing yellow and brown breakfast trash away every day along with any irritation for the sake of practical love. Readers leave comments that say, “Me, too” and “Thanks for being real.”
All I’ve done is the heart-searching, word-plucking work the Spirit led me through.
* * *
I walk into an Orthodox church for the first time and marvel at the colorful displays. My senses overwhelm me and I feel a little faint—not sure if it’s my blood pressure dropping or the stuffiness despite the spacious place. I sip from the water bottle I hope it’s okay to have inside and purpose to make the most of this special grad class field trip.
I shuffle my way around the perimeter then weave through every aisle. No matter where I turn there is art. There is story. Intricate paintings and stained glass masterpieces. Carved wood, marble pillars, silk flowers, and crystal chandeliers. And gold. Oh, the gold. Golden paint in stylized halos hover above every saint. Shimmer. Illuminate.
But these are not just artistic exhibits. These are icons. Written records of Christianity’s most prominent figures and poignant moments in history. I’m witnessing the inspired telling of the Gospel—iconographers the skilled vessel for the Storyteller.
The wooziness won’t leave me so I make my way to a lonely pew. I try to take in every angle. Try to translate the reading I’ve done for my masters class into meaning of what I’m seeing. But the analytical mind won’t work here.
I’m compelled to offer a response from the heart. I pull out pen and paper and scribble the words flowing fast.
This is a house of worship,
A place the soul is fed,
A place the spirit meets the Spirit.
This is a sacred place
Of Beauty. Honor. Sacrifice.
Who could gaze upon these displays
And not experience reverence for Christ?
I do not understand the Greek words
Inscribed on every surface.
But my heart knows the language
Of truth and beauty.
Yes, we all speak beauty—
Or at least we’re made to listen.
* * *
I sit crisscross-applesauce on carpet that begs to be vacuumed and deal our 15th round of Uno. Brown eyes gleam excitement when Noah plays another draw four wild. “Gotcha, Mommy!” my six year old squeals.
He calls blue and slaps down his last card, and before he can ask I’m shuffling again because I know “Just one more?” is coming.
The sun beats on our backs as we walk home from school, Eli’s fingers intertwined with mine, our shared hands swinging.
“Did you know we have a marble jar? Did you know there are more than 3,000 kinds of apples? When can you buy me some yellow ones? How long would it take to dig a hole and find lava? Like a billion hours or a trillion hours? When can I have a slingshot like David or a sword like the zombie we saw hanging on the green house?”
My five year old’s questions pulse like tiny swords on my light-induced headache, but I keep taking deep breaths and answer each one with as much joy as I can muster.
Because, oh, the curiosity! The wonder!
My knees creak from an old sports injury as I crouch down eye to eye with my three year old. Tears run hot mad down his satiny cheeks. “I won’t listen to you ever,” Jude huffs, then collapses in my arms in the same breathy puff.
I pray the Spirit’s help in tempering my blood prone to boil. I speak affirming words of love and tell him in toddler terms how it makes mommy’s heart sad when he hits me.
The moment ends with soft lips pressed in my neck and “I’m sorry, Princess Mommy” whispers.
Pasta sauce sputters on the stove, tiny splatters escaping their stainless steel confines. Black burners now covered with red dots. I ignore the mess to referee a brother brawl erupting over whose turn it is for the blue marker. In the midst of “Use your words” and “What’s the Golden Rule?” reminders, one boy asks, “Hey, Mom, what’s for dinner?” My ravioli reply is met with groans and disgruntled bemoans, but before I can say it, another kid chimes in with my favorite phrase: “Let’s give thanks for what we have and don’t complain!”
Easy for him to say it snarky as a ravioli lover—but bless my heart, at least it’s sinking in.
These: my ordinary mama moments. The joys and challenges that mark the mundane canvas of daily life with strokes of beauty.
Few eyes, if any at all, will see the countless hours of dinner fixing, homework helping, character training, and card game playing. The prayers for wisdom, grace, and strength lifted up with intention and desperation both won’t be heard, applauded, or understood by anyone, but the One.
Yet, it’s the grit and grace of motherhood, of raising three young boys into mighty men, that is perhaps my greatest Icon. My loudest testimony, clearest window to who God is and how He made me.
It’s with dish hands and soft tummy, wrinkled brow and growing heart that I make the art of motherhood.
I teach gratitude as I learn to be grateful. I model forgiveness as I learn to forgive. I proclaim the Father’s unconditional love for my three sons as I learn to accept it fully for myself.
There’s rarely glitter or first time precision in this type of masterpiece making. Never perfection. But there is golden light, which is true of every true icon. Because that’s the product of reflecting God. That’s the beauty that no man or mother can fabricate or replicate. That’s the genuine, precious metal expression from creating in rhythm with the Creator the precise piece He’s set before you.
It’s Him shining through you.
Weary mama apt for impatience with rough-and-tumble children prone not to listen, transformed into a glorious picture of the Spirit’s fruit: love, joy, peace, unto self-control.
For Him. Because of Him.
It’s a window for me. A window for them.
To see the One who sees us.
* * *
These are micro-snapshots of my callings.
I’m a noticer. A capturer. I’m a reflector and creator. A word-art maker. I’m a writer.
I am a mother, which means I’m a teacher, a trainer, a nurturing caretaker.
This is the artistry I’ve been commissioned for.
Even as I’ve entered a new life season as a graduate student, with much of my time spent at the window of scholarship instead of creating a view for you here, I am still creating art. Art on lined pages of scribbled notes. Art through soothing hugs to calm little hearts with big night terrors. Art in capturing neighborhood beauty one iPhone click at a time.
We are all made to create because we’ve been made in the image of the Creator.
This is my art. My windows.
What are yours?
* * *