If you've been to my house, you've probably been on the extended tour, which takes exactly 3 minutes and includes our master bathroom because it's black and people usually like it.
My house is small. Brad jokes it used to be 2,800 sq ft until I painted it down to 1,500. I say, "we live in a little house, so we can afford to leave it ." We have lots of quippy ways to justify to ourselves and the other grownups how it's totally cool that we still live in our starter house.
Honestly, it has been a significant source of insecurity for us both over the years, which is dumb because we have been in a room full of farmers who will not have food for the winter if the rains don't come. We have served where people have built their homes with mud bricks baked in the dry season.
We live in the tension of a world where excess is normal and striving for more is valuable, and a calling on our lives to care for the poor. Some days that feels like a tug of war that will rip us in half. Some days a shopping trip leaves you feeling guilty and gross. Some days the needs of others feel overwhelming. Some days it feels like giving over saving. Some days, it's sharing instead of spending. Some days, it's buying the thing because it's ok to enjoy blessings. Tension.
I originally painted art in our living room. I would drag paint out of our hot water shed and set up a makeshift art space. We would live around it for a few days; then, I would store it before people came over.
One day, I quit. I cried and cried. How could I keep calling myself an artist when this is how I create? Some days I spent as much time hauling supplies as I did painting a canvas. I was done. It wasn't worth it. I quit.
I had kids running around, nerf bullet marks in paint orders. I didn't have what it took to keep going. I was tired of forcing my passions into the nooks and crannies of time and space.
Brad, the eternal optimist, hashed out options: I could rent a studio space. But honestly, that was a lot of pressure to make enough to pay for it, and back then, I still had kids at home. It wouldn't work. Move? We tried, but nothing worked out. Finally, he walked through our house with fresh eyes and determination. He looked at me and laid out a dumb plan. Our bedroom had the only extra space. I had sewing machines set up in a corner from a side hustle I outgrew and kids' clothes I hand-made. Over the next few weeks, sewing machines were packed up, we shifted our bed to one side, I found the perfect table on marketplace, and our bedroom became half art studio. I absolutely LOVE it. It's the perfectly weird option for our tiny, transformer house.
If you are a kid and you've ever been to my house, chances are pretty good you've painted something in my bedroom/art studio. This past week I had my friend Drew and her three girls over. As usual, we piled on hodge-podge chairs, covering surfaces with art. I don't direct a thing; I offer supplies and a chance to create. When Millie finished, I stared at her magnet and felt tears flood my eyes. "Wise Millie." Confidence and identity boldly declared over a lovely swirl of greens and blues. Sweet girl, I hope you never for one-second doubt that you are wise. Your wisdom impacted me.
Something shifted in me that day. I've hidden and felt weird about my bedroom art studio. Felt less than because we don't live in a huge house or boujee neighborhood. We haven't "grown up" like most people our age. That day, Millie had no idea that her ability to see herself so clearly gave me a little freedom to do the same. I've always been authentic with my space on the Internet, but today I want to open it up a little wider. I'm going to start sharing some of the amazing days we spend in my art studio. It's such a fun space. It's shocking how many kids paint right beside our white duvet, and somehow, the only paint spills have been on the carpet under me.
I don't know who needs to hear this: you don't need to have everything perfectly lined up to do what God has put on your heart. You don't have to have the space or resources, or even time. Look around. What nook have you overlooked? What have you let linger that can be put away to make space for something new? Walk through the thing that feels like it holds you back with someone who can see it with fresh eyes. I'm so thankful I did. I love my art studio. I'll call it that confidently because the value isn't the space. It's the creations it allows to flow.