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Slow death

I had several really fun posts planned for this week, including the promised announcements about on-the-road teaching gigs… but then I got hacked and my laptop had to be reformatted and I had a kind of mini-meltdown and pity party for myself.

Laptop-Reformat

In the middle of weeping and feeling sorry for myself and utterly overwhelmed, I stumbled across this amazing blog post by Ann Voskamp. (If you don’t regularly read her blog, you really and truly are missing out.) And some of what she wrote just jumped right off the screen and slapped me in the face like Cher in Moonstruck.

Life is Pain — and you get to choose: either the Pain of Discipline or the Pain of Disappointment. Nothing happens without discipline. No music gets played without discipline. No games get won. No finish lines get crossed. No freedom gets tasted. And you want that…

Brilliant doesn’t matter, if you can’t get out of bed. Talent doesn’t mean a thing, if you let Fear be some terrorist that takes you hostage. Potential doesn’t add up to anything, if you get addicted to perfectionism because perfectionism is slow death by self.

And then I had a conversation with my sweet husband, and aired the things that were dogging my spirit, and we made some decisions and found ourselves in agreement and a kind of fog lifted. Then a dear friend checked in with me today and we found we are walking a similar path, and I came face to face with this uncomfortable truth:

I’ve been undisciplined about a lot of things since I got sick in September, and it’s created a perfect storm of unhealthy consequences. The result is that I have had kind of an internal crisis going on – emotional, spiritual, mental, and creative. I have been very much affected by some circumstantial things, having nothing to do with being hacked or having to reformat my laptop (which were just the last straws) – and I was becoming much too focused on the provision instead of the Provider. So… discipline, starting with lots and lots of time with Father, and patience, and taking little bites instead of big ones, and one day at a time.

And grace.

Because in the end, that’s what He wants for us. Love and grace and redemption. Anything less is not His best.

So I’m rebooting more than just my computer this week. If you’re interested in joining me, I’ve started a new 30-day reading plan on the YouVersion app – accounts are free and completely private, though you’re welcome to “friend” me or drop me an email if you want to share anything along the way.

“Fun” posts will resume next week, God willing and the creek don’t rise. Enjoy the weekend!

Once upon a time…

… there was a princess. The problem was, she didn’t know she was a princess and so her life didn’t look anything like a princess’s life might look. Sometimes, she wondered if there were other things she might be capable of doing, people she was supposed to know and places she was supposed to go. But it was too easy to listen to the people around her, people who had been sent by an evil prince to confuse her and whose job it was to make sure she never remembered who she was created to be.

The land where the princess lived was ruled by a good and compassionate king, and he watched over the princess. Even though she did many stupid and destructive things, the kind king loved her very much and made sure the princess continued to have a roof over her head and food on her table, and he secretly sent people to protect her from the worst consequences of her choices. In spite of how much he loved her, she never came to him or sought his counsel, and although his heart broke over the destruction that was becoming her life, he continued to do everything he could to protect her.

One day, the king received word that the princess was in real trouble. She was destitute, and her heart was broken, and she had come to believe that there was nothing good about her or about her life. The king realized that she might – at last – be willing to accept the kind of help he had always longed to give her. He searched among the knights of his kingdom for one who would be capable of showing her his great love and compassion. After much reflection, he selected one of the bravest and most humble of his knights. This knight had fought valiantly to defend his kingdom, and had devoted his life to its protection in times of war and times of peace. Although he was very strong, he was also very gentle, and his heart was tender. The king knew this knight was just what the princess needed.

And so the knight was sent to find the princess, and when he did, he discovered that she was very broken and fragile, and sometimes tried to hurt the people who wanted most to help her. But the king had given the knight the ability to see her heart, to see what the king had created her to be, and he patiently loved her and tended to her and protected her while she healed – even though she didn’t really understand that’s what was happening.

Nick and Francesca Watson by Francesca Watson Designs

What a difference 20 years makes!

After many years, when he felt she was ready, the king sent a messenger to the princess. She had not realized in all this time that the land where she lived was governed by the good king, but this messenger shared the story of the king and some of the things he had created the princess to be and do, and she was overwhelmed and humbled to learn how patient he had been with her all this time. She went immediately to the king’s court, and fell at his feet, and wept many tears of regret and shame as she asked for his forgiveness. He was most gracious with her, and raised her up, and kissed her hands and her eyes and told her not to cry any more. When he asked her about the knight he had sent to her, the princess suddenly realized what a great gift from the king the knight had been. She went and brought the knight to the king’s court, and together they asked his blessing on them, that they might be married in his sight and live together to serve the work of his kingdom. And the king agreed.

It would be lovely to say that the princess and the knight lived happily ever after, but in spite of all they had been through together, they were sometimes not smart about seeking the king’s counsel, and the evil prince, who was enraged that they had become so determined to do the work of the king, sometimes sent difficulties into their lives to try and discourage them. In spite of those challenges, the knight continued to do everything he could to protect the kingdom and the princess, and they reminded one another often to do the king’s bidding instead of things that were easy.

This week, the princess celebrates the 66th anniversary of the day the king brought the knight into the world. She celebrates all that he is, and all that he has done, and the way he looked into her heart and saw the woman the king intended her to be – before anyone else had seen those things. And she celebrates the service he has given to the kingdom, the selfless years he gave to protect it and serve it, even when it wasn’t popular or well-thought of. She celebrates the man he is, his integrity and honor, and gratefully celebrates that he brought those things to her, as gifts, before she ever thought she might be worthy of them.

Nick Watson by Francesca Watson Designs

Candid photo from the year before we were married.

Happy birthday, Nicholas Steven Watson, the greatest gift God has ever given me besides his Son. I am so grateful for you, and humbled by the ways you have served your family and your country over the course of your life. You have my admiration, my respect, and my deepest love. May God richly bless you in this coming year for all that you have been and done.

 

Blessings

I continue to marvel at the many blessings being pouring out into our lives these days. After several years of feeling very much as if I was just wading along the water’s edge, retreating whenever the big waves loomed, I have taken up my word for the year* and plunged deep, striking out for the horizon and leaving the shore behind. If that sounds dramatic… well, it has been. The last six months have been an ongoing process of sorting through and setting aside the things that have accumulated around the edges of our lives and recommitting to the basics. It’s amazing to me how hard that is to maintain – the minutiae have a tendency to cling to our ankles and demand attention but we’re learning to deal with them more effectively, day by day.

Even more amazing, though, is the way that life and purpose has begun to come into focus. It is so clear that I am in the right place, doing the things that I am meant to do now. Nick and I are having the most wonderful and exciting talks about what we feel God is doing in our lives and what our future holds. Our daughter, Danica, called me the other night just to talk – we had the most natural, normal and loving thirty minutes on the phone together, and I have tucked the glow and warmth of that conversation deep into my heart so I can revisit it over and over, like a small round stone in my pocket that my fingers can’t stop exploring. I can hardly bear to go to sleep at night – life is so good right now and I don’t want to miss a moment.

My inaugural post at Art Jewelry Elements went up this morning – go check it out if you have a minute. It’s about the etching class I took with Gail at Wired Designs weekend before last.

Handmade Artisan Jewelry by Francesca Watson Designs

My etched brass earrings using the metal sheet we etched in class.

I am also busily exploring the new design idea that came to me last week – and rather prolifically, too. The 2012 Rusted Gingham Barn Sale is just around the corner, and at this point my big concern is that I won’t have enough inventory. I am in awe of the people in the jewelry community who post photos in our Facebook gathering places and say things like, “Here are the 30 necklaces I whipped up after I put the kids to bed last night.” My mind boggles – I just don’t know how they do it!! So, there’s still a lot of studio time on the schedule, to the exclusion of most other things.

And I’m loving it.

As I reread that post from January, I am really struck by how prophetic it turned out to be. I had no idea when I wrote it that I would be quitting my job in May, but it very clearly lays out the things that would turn out to be foundational in taking that step of faith.

Unexpectedly, there’s even MORE big news!

And life changes again. For the better.

I’ve written a lot about the classes I’ve taken this year at Wired Designs Studio here in San Antonio. Gail Stouffer, one of the studio owners and the Director of Education, has been hugely supportive and encouraging of my efforts, and I have become quite fond of her. My time in the Wired Designs studio is always a jump-start to new ideas and new approaches to things I’m trying, and Gail is directly responsible for my newfound passion for glass cabochons. I feel really fortunate to have become part of that community of artists.

Well, last week Gail got in touch with me and asked me to consider joining her team as a metal and wire instructor. I was floored – thrilled, excited, scared, and floored. We’re still working out the schedule and some of the details, but after the first of the year, I’ll be working with another instructor to cover the metal class schedule, which will include a boot camp that covers the essentials of metal with a design class that puts it all together. At the moment, it looks like I’ll be teaching anywhere from three to five classes a month and I could not be more excited.

And grateful.

It was such a big deal for me to leave my job in May, to decide to follow whole-heartedly the path I felt God was setting before me, and to ignore the worry about money and provision that inevitably tries to creep in when we take such big steps away from “normal.” I have had Nick’s complete support in this and I have reveled in the unrestricted time to be creative and focused, but I admit that I have felt a little guilty and selfish to have been such a drain on our resources this summer. This opportunity is another encouragement to me that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Thanks so much, Gail! I’m looking forward this new phase of the journey!