And when I had sent the multitudes away, I went up into a mountain apart to pray

A gift from my time at EncaustiCamp this past July was making some beautiful connections and friendships. Most everyone brought their true selves to camp, being vulnerable both in their art and the sharing of their lives. Yes, even the instructors were real, approachable people that I can now call friends.

One of my new friends, Bridgette Guerzon-Mills, taught a class that married encaustic with book making. Being a lover of books, I deeply enjoyed this class. Beyond the book making aspect, I learned a great deal about art appreciation, creative approach, and some really groovy  techniques.

Song of Songs encaustic book cover
Pages from Song of Songs

Even before I met Bridgette, I was drawn to her art. She has a gift of story-telling. I am particularly drawn to her current work in progress, a journal entitled “Mother Love.” The story speaks of the struggle between a mother’s passion to love one’s children fully and a passion to create and express what is within her soul. Within the constraints of time, how does a mother do both without neglect? Where is the balance?

While Bridgette and I have different life stories, I have wrestled with this desire to balance the nourishing of my family and the nourishing of me. As partner to a home-run business and a homeschool mom, allowing myself to retreat to refill my cup has become essential in maintaining a nurturing environment in the home. Let me give you a picture of a typical day in the Jolley home.

(This next section must be read very fast while holding your breath.)

  • I aim to rise and begin my day with Bible reading and journaling. This practice allows me to align myself and clear my head before I  put on the teacher hat. It doesn’t always happen though.
  • Teacher hat on, the teenagers are to be ready for school by 9am. Much of their school work is self led. My greatest teaching task is that of directing and adding input to build on their skills.
  • During this time, my husband will be preparing for a job, at a job, or unpacking the equipment from the last job. Our dining room/school room is also the place where the video equipment is loaded and unloaded. The kids often go with him on jobs, so must juggle their own time and homework.
  • My job is to collect administrative information from him that will allow him to focus on the creative and technical aspects of the business. People may stop by throughout the day to pick up or drop off equipment which means I really should be dressed by noon.
  • I’m also in charge of the school cafeteria, but am very thankful that both the kids are excellent cooks. If need be, I can assign them to prepare meals. The struggle is making it to the grocery store to replenish.
  • Oh, and let’s not forget that I’m also juggler of calendar events and part time chauffeur.

(Okay, breathe again.)

While we have made the best lifestyle choice for our family (never wanting to imply it would be best for everyone), this disables me from being a full time artist. I can see the end of this time as my kids approach graduation, and the beginning of something new. I am so excited for my children to have opportunity to take ownership of their own dreams. I am thrilled that my studio time will exponentially explode. Yet, knowing it will come so quickly makes each moment in their presence that much more precious.

Setting healthy boundaries so I can have time in the studio is easy. That’s mere time management. But when my husband or teenagers desire just to be with me, to chat, to share their thoughts and experiences, the boundaries get muddy. At that moment I have to decide what is essential, my studio time or the time with the other person. Most times I delay my plans. Listening to my daughter pour out her thoughts, having a teenage son that desires my presence, and a husband who wants to talk of deep things, these are life itself. These are the moments that fill me with joy and feed the creativity in my brain. I receive nourishment from them and love the belonging that we share.

But have I mentioned that I’m an introvert. I need alone-time to recharge. My family is grateful when I honestly say, “I can’t listen right now. My capacity is low. I need some time to myself.” Sometimes I do need to send the multitudes away so that I go up to my mountain and worship, paint, praise, and pray, refilling to be emptied out again.




10 thoughts on “And when I had sent the multitudes away, I went up into a mountain apart to pray

  1. bridgette says:

    Amanda, it was so helpful reading this, to know what another artist/mother goes through. We all have different aspects of our lives to juggle, but it seems to me like you are doing it beautifully and fully aware.
    Love your book! 🙂

  2. Rachel says:

    I needed to read this! Seeing you on a similar path, years ahead of me gives me great encouragement. Finding and choosing time alone this time of year is a struggle. Yesterday I told Jesse,”I think I need to sit,” and I actually did for most of the day. Thank you for sharing your heart here, Amanda.

  3. Barb says:

    Although I’m in the next stage (kids already out of the house) this was like reading a description of my life!

    And from my place in life right now… having lost a son… you will never regret moments shared with your children/husband. Nor will you ever regret time alone with God. (seek ye first…) And somehow, He does provide for the artful expression as well.

    Love your book. It’s beautiful.

  4. Crystal Neubauer says:

    Oh Amanda that positively moved me to blubber a little nostalgic tear! You are so wise to slow down and prioritize those precious remaining years with the kids. It does go so fast and the time you pour into their lives now will come back to you bountifully. Reaping and Sewing – you are going to reap a harvest of love for years and years to come!

  5. Seth says:

    You touch on so many of the challenges in balances the many demands of a full life. I, along with many of your other readers I am certain, can relate!

  6. Rivergardenstudio says:

    Oh Amanda, I love reading these words about your life, so heartfelt, I love the way you are true to yourself and your family. have a beautiful day.

  7. alex castro ferreira says:

    Hello dear friend
    I love your book as you know i m a lover of books myself. I wish i could touch it and feel it. I don’t have kids but i connect with you completely time schedule is also very difficult for me being present for those we love and filling our cup is sometimes(most of) not easy but as you say it it’s worth it. i love your posts so heartful and authentic. next will clik on your friend blog have a good week xo

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