Nana and Minions

For the first time in my life, my schedule does not revolve around a school calendar.

Even before I started kindergarten in 1957, our family’s schedule followed the school calendar because my father taught high school.

I went from attending elementary school to junior high, then high school, and on to college. I graduated in June of 1974 and began teaching in August of that year. When we began having children, Phil was in seminary, afterward he began working at WCU in campus ministry, and then on to his teaching career as our own children began school. All that time we followed a school schedule.

I re-entered the “work force” as a volunteer teacher when our youngest child entered kindergarten and have been teaching in one capacity or another until I retired in June.

Last week I did not get up and either get myself or others ready for school.

My life until now has had a definite pattern – the school schedule.

  • start in August or September
  • new classes, new lessons, new challenges
  • off for Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • classes through winter (hoping for snow days)
  • off for spring break
  • finish the year STRONG
  • organize for the coming school year
  • off for the summer to RECHARGE
  • start again…..

Artists use pattern in many ways. The principle of design “pattern” is defined this way – “the regular arrangement of alternated or repeated elements.”

Patterns in art work give a sense of order and completeness.

Patterns in our lives give us a sense of order and security.

Children who have a pattern to their day are happier and healthier. They eat better and sleep better when they have regular times to eat and sleep. There will always be situations when these patterns are interrupted, but maintaining a routine whenever possible is so beneficial.

This pattern also develops a sense of security in the child because they know what is coming next. Children like the feeling of anticipating the activity they will do next and planning for it. That is not to say they don’t like surprises, but knowing what is next helps children cope with their surroundings and various situations. This is especially true for some children who NEED a pattern to their day to feel secure. These children will be better able to handle the inevitable changes to their routine better if they are given a warning of the change whenever possible and time to adjust.

We tried to maintain the pattern that our daughter and her husband have established this past week when their three middle boys stayed with us. Their family began to keep this schedule when their twins were born and their oldest child was 18 months old. The pattern was their link to sanity!

It has also created happy, secure children who generally know what is coming next. Not to say there are no surprises…. in fact there is never a dull moment!

The most important benefit is control of the chaos.

Truth be told, we adults function better when we have a regular routine. We used to tease my father that he always ate and went to bed at regular times, even when he was much younger. Now at 91 it seems to have paid off. He is very healthy and active.

Just as following a pattern, or repeating positive actions, is beneficial for our physical lives, it is even more important in our spiritual lives. Paul tells Timothy to follow the pattern Paul has set as he follows Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:13-14  (NLT)

13 Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. 14 Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.

That is the most important pattern one can have in life – following the pattern of Jesus – living as He lived.

In a very real sense, my pattern has not changed since I have retired. I desired to follow Jesus before retirement – I desire to follow Him now as well.

May our lives be a beautiful pattern, reflecting the image God.







We have been blessed with a new granddaughter this week. She is adjusting well to life outside the quiet confines of the womb. Although, since babies hear inside the womb, having four brothers meant that maybe it wasn’t so quiet after all!

The blessing in this is that baby Rachel sleeps right through the busy play of her brothers – she is conditioned to the noise of active play.

The addition of this precious little one has given the impression that all the parts of this family form a coherent whole. Does that mean that if Rachel had been a boy, or another child had not been added to this family that it would not be complete?

Not at all.

It does mean that once a child is added to a family through birth or adoption it is hard to imagine the family without that child. Each member of the family has a part in the family that is unduplicated and special.

I remember when we found out I was pregnant with our 3rd child and her older sister was just 6 months old. I was overwhelmed and exhausted, yet here was another child growing inside me!

I cannot imagine our family without the presence of this child, now a mother herself.

In art, the definition of “harmony” is as follows –

“The arrangement of elements to give the viewer the feeling that all the parts of the piece form a coherent whole.”

Ephesians 4:3 Amplified Bible

3 Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of the Spirit in the binding power of peace.

 I love how the Amplified translation uses the phrase – “binding power of peace”.

What a beautiful image  – when we make the effort to keep harmony in our relationships, it will BIND us together in peace!

As an artist, I must be intentional about creating harmony in my art work. I cannot randomly add color or objects without a plan, otherwise the completed artwork will not be harmonious. I always sketch out my idea first on paper, even if I am planning to work in clay or make a handmade book. This way, I can see if the parts come together in harmony before I use valuable time and supplies. I can make needed adjustments in the sketch.

Romans 12:16 Amplified Bible

16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.

Giving ourselves to humble tasks creates harmony.

My students often wanted to “just start painting – I know what I want to paint”. I required them to engage in the “humble” task of drawing first. It ALWAYS paid off.

Giving ourselves to humble tasks creates harmony in our relationships.

Changing diapers, cleaning the bathroom, planning meals ahead of time  – all these humble tasks create harmony. Instead of opening the refrigerator at 5:00 pm and seeing if there is anything for supper (my common practice when our children were small) planning meals ahead helps avoid stress when the family is hungry.

My friend Carol and I were sharing recently what a blessing it had been to have our mothers come and stay with us when our children were born. Both were wonderful examples of doing the humble tasks that helped create harmony in those days of adjustment after a new baby comes home.

Carol and I have both recently had the chance to do what our mothers did for us – now for our adult children. (Carol has had three new grandchildren this year!)

May we create harmony in our realtionships by binding ourselves together in peace and serving one another with humble tasks. What a blessing this will be to our families!


Phil and Gayle

As an artist, I use the principles of design as tools to create my art work. My students would often ask me “what makes something art?”

Great question. This question would usually come up after seeing work by an artist like Jackson Pollock who threw paint at his canvases. Barnett Newman would paint a red line down a large canvas. “I could do that”, my students would say. Yes, they could. But, their name was not Pollock of Newman.

Students never asked me “Why is that considered art?” after seeing images of Michelangelo’s or Leonardo Vinci’s art work. These artists are without question masters because something in their work is timeless and connects with people across various cultures and backgrounds.

Great art has balance.

Balance in art occurs when the parts of the artwork are arranged to create the impression of equality in importance. For instance, the background does not appear more important than the focal point – or main object. Our eyes sense when things are in balance – it is pleasing to look at.

We also sense when things are out of balance. Something just doesn’t look “right”, even if we can’t pinpoint it.

I belive this is an important issue in human relationships as well. There must be balance in the relationship for it to be meaningful and “right”.

Notice that the definition of balance in art uses the word “equality”. For a relationship to be balanced there has to equality of value – each person in the relationship must have equal value.

This does not mean the people in the relationship have the same roles, talents, abilities, or responsibilities. Yet they have the same worth.

Galatians 3:27-29 (NLT)

27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

See the balance Paul describes? He also tells the Roman Christians that they need to have balance in their view of themselves. Romans 12:3-5 NLT

3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Paul warned us about thinking “you are better than you really are”. He KNEW we have a problem with that!

The solution is recognizing that our value is based on the fact that we are children of God, our heavenly father. When we see ourselves, and others, as His children, we all have equal value – we all “belong to each other!”

This truth will create balance in all our relationships if we truly believe it and live it.

Let’s pray for balance in all our relationships.

Next week we will look at harmony, another element of design.