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Sweet September

Life is a giftWhat a difference a few weeks can make! When I wrote August’s blog post I was struggling to feel positive. I have to admit that I didn’t always keep my cool. At one point I yelled, “I just want ONE day without drama!” That’s a lie. I’d like all of my days to be drama free. Wouldn’t you?

But when life’s bumps in the road start to feel like we’re driving on railroad tracks it’s time to hold on tight. Let go, have patience… have a little faith… believe that things will get better… and… at the right time, if the right time comes… things will get better!

At the right time, things got better. And wow, did they ever! I hardly know where to begin…

I finally started a special project that I’d been wanting to do for months. I started it, kept working on it, and saw it through to the finished art. There’s a much longer story behind my new painting, but I want to share this with you right away so I’ll give you the short version. First, here it is… this is the video of me painting “Marie’s Babies”. Below the video is the description. Please read the description before watching the video.

“Marie’s Babies” oil painting, video description:

This oil painting tells Marie and John’s story of the two journeys of their beautiful twin boys, Cathal and Lorcan. The babies were born very premature. They could fit entirely in their parents’ hands; every day was a fight to survive. Sadly, one of their precious babies slipped away after about a month of loving him here on Earth. Marie has no pictures of Cathal without tubes and machines covering up much of his tiny body. I offered to help her create an image of him as a whole baby, free from the medical chains. I didn’t know how to go about doing this exactly, but I prayed my way through the experience. The symbolism in the painting seems to evolve. You might see this painting differently, depending on what you feel when you view the art. One way to see it is that Lorcan is sheltered by God’s love here on Earth, as represented by the flower. Cathal has been carried gently away by God’s spirit, as represented by the butterfly. But I only paint the pictures, after that, my art doesn’t belong to me. This painting belongs to the O’Halloran family of Ireland. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this powerful and life-changing experience. I didn’t paint this alone, I had divine intervention the whole time. God bless the O’Halloran family, and thank you for sharing your beautiful babies with me, and with the world. Peace be with you.

*Note: the tiny babies in the painting are very close to life-sized…notice how small they are compared to my hands…I was shocked when I saw the photograph of Marie touching Cathal, when I saw the size comparison between her hands and his tiny body

Marie will share her story, and when she does I’ll link to it. It’s her story to tell, not mine. We have become very close over the past two years. When all of this was happening to her, my heart was breaking.  Marie is my Irish friend who is helping us move to Ireland. And on that note, I have another announcement to make. While I was painting “Marie’s Babies”, Marie had no idea that I’d started the project or that I was actually finishing it… but meanwhile she was doing something significant to help me!

At the same time that I was sending her an email with an attachment to view the photo of the finished painting, Marie was drafting an email to tell me about the connections she’s made for me in Ireland. I’ll announce something more specific later but I will be doing exhibits and events in Ireland! It’s shaping up to be a bit of a tour spanning across at least two counties, County Cork and County Limerick.  I’d like to hold off saying anything more because things are still shaping up, but this is incredibly exciting and beyond my wildest dreams!

Permission to stay in Ireland may be possible if we have a strong purpose for being there. Hopefully we’ll be granted enough time that Brent will be able to get his teaching certification finalized and transferred into the Irish system, land an interview, land a job, and get a work visa before we have to leave. It’s a lot to expect, especially when jobs are highly competitive, and as an American he’d have to prove that he’s better than all of the other qualified applicants, but with faith and determination anything is possible. And… we’ll keep an open mind that something we aren’t expecting is just around the corner. We need to let things develop as they are meant to. Have a little faith, right?

For now, I’ll celebrate that our dream to live in Ireland is coming true! How long we get to live there remains to be seen, but look how far we’ve come. I’m guessing we can get permission to stay for at least six months, perhaps a year! The harder we work to raise funds, the easier it will be to get permission to stay for a longer period of time (the Irish government wants to see a full bank account, with proof that we can afford to live there for the amount of time that we request). With a little faith… well, there’s always a way.

I’m working on it! I’m about 1/5 of the way through the last Serena Wilcox mystery (#12 in the series) and about 1/5 through a new book I’m writing about our dream to move to Ireland. Not only am I busy with two new books, but I’m also busy with these events:

  • Minneapolis Comic Con! In October I’ll be representing the writing half of the “Dramatic Mom” team. My illustrator daughter Cassandra Thomas was invited to attend the Minneapolis Comic Con, with a free table for her and for her guest (me). She’ll be promoting her KiLA iLO series while I show off our Dramatic Mom series.
  • Guest speaker, Journey House, University of Wisconsin – RF: I’ve been invited to speak again in November. This will be my third public speaking event for the campus organization. I greatly look forward to it. I’m kind of sad to know that this is my last time there, as we’ll be moving in December…and more importantly, Cassie graduates from college! Our connection to UW-RF will end. I’m happy that I get one last opportunity to be a part of Journey House’s inspirational speaker series, their “This I Believe” luncheons.
  • Little Free Library book tour – more about that later~! [it’s “later”, here’s the update! My Little Free Library Tour … Destination #1]

I need to wrap up this blog post even though I have so much more to say. Wow, what a difference in my attitude and outlook from August to Sweet September! There’s so much going on now, and all of it is looking up, up, up! Pay attention to this space, God is doing amazing things for me and my family.

Speaking of family, that’s where most of my time and energy goes. It’s hard to keep up with all of the things they are doing. Nicholas is studying for the SAT test, looming next Saturday already. Cassie is preparing to order her cap and gown–she found out that she will graduate Magna Cum Laude! She will soon have a Math degree, and is planning to apply to graduate school in Cork, Ireland. Nicholas wants to go into IT and also plans to apply for college in Ireland, but he has to struggle through the SAT test first and I’m nervous for him. And then there’s baby girl Savannah who is thirteen going on thirty. She already has her whole life planned out… she wants to be a midwife. It’ll be an adventure, seeing what God has in store for these three.

Two of my children are now adults, and our last child is almost an adult in her mind. I’d love to bottle them up and not let them get a day older, but I can’t do that. So here I am, trying to keep up, and saving up all the memories that I can. Meanwhile, Brent has been keeping me on my toes because he’s been sick with something serious at least once a year for the past three years. He’s better now, but he was out of commission for about two weeks. Two. Very. Long. Weeks. But hey, August is over and Sweet September rolled in with beautiful sunny skies and wonderful new opportunities. See, if we wait long enough, the weather does change.