Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Hero

I got an email from Jeanna Mandeville that she was featuring a customized decorative box I made, called "Hero". Go check out her site to see more heroes. Thanks again, Jeanna! Here are some more pictures of the box I made, which was for my hero, my husband.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Etsy Favs of the Week

It's been a while since I posted about Etsy, so here are some of my favorite finds this week:
"Bound and Broken" by lightleaks
Country Church by cinderellamoments 
"Love Who You Are" by CafeBaudelaire
Wordy Butterfly Mobile by Royal Buffet 
Letterpress sign by hijirik
 Vintage Chinese Earrings by modesign  
Clutch by Synth04

Support handmade crafts!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Consumerism- The American Dream?

I was re-reading some essays I had written a while back, and I was struck by this one. It really captures the frustration and urgency I felt at the time:

Watching tv, it would appear that everyone in this country is absorbed with fashion, the ins and outs of Hollywood, and making money. The American Dream has been twisted into a self-absorbed quest for more possessions. It's all about how much you have, and then showing it off to everyone else. But is that the most important thing? Is that all life is about? 

What's going on in the rest of our world? How can fashion and entertainment be important when basic survival needs aren't being met? Or when people are worried about being surrounded by constant civil war? Or the people forced into labor without fair pay? Or those torn from their families, loved ones dying from disease and poverty? When I think about these people- and they're out there, everywhere- it makes me sick to hear about the trivial vanity that so concerns our society.

I'm tired of listening to our nation complain about our economic crisis. I know it's important. My family has been affected by it, too. We're technically at poverty level right now. But even at that, we're rich beyond what some people in our world could ever hope to be.

So we can't buy a lot of stuff. Do we really even need it? What gets cut when you don't have enough money? All the superfluous things you can do without. But it begs the question- did you really need it to begin with? 

How do we reconcile our need for wealth with what's going on in the rest of our world? What about people who live in true poverty? How can we justify our pursuit of wealth, as opposed to helping other people? When faced with wars, oppression, slavery, sex-trafficking, extreme poverty, etc- how can we be content with our small scope of the world? When our life is done, will we really be satisfied that we made a difference? Do we even want to make a difference? And if not, why not? 

Imagine what could be learned if we switched places with someone less fortunate. 

Maybe we'd see how completely frustrating, wearying, and burdensome it is to not have enough money to cover the basics. Maybe our perceptions might shift, too. Maybe we would realize that we don't need all the other stuff- fashionable clothes, the newest electronics, and luxury cars. It's not as necessary as we believe.

There's a beauty in simplicity. In knowing that you can walk away from your things without regrets. There's a freedom in knowing you can survive with just enough. That your stuff doesn't own you. Like the song says- "what you have is what you need, and everything is else is only greed". We don't need any more than what we already have.

People are always, always, always more important than things. I guess that's what I have to remember when I'm frustrated with our system. The economy isn't my focus. Fashion and entertainment aren't my focus. People are my focus. So instead of getting exasperated about our culture, I have to remind myself what to focus on.

Last night we watched the VP debate. There was a lot of talk about the war in Iraq. Darfur was briefly mentioned, as well. The moderator asked if America had the resources or the energy to intervene in the genocide. Afterwards, Ted and I shared our frustration about our nation's perspective. We are currently in a war to protect our economic interests. It has been very costly- financially and with human lives. But when another country is involved in mass murdering its own people for a decade, we aren't sure if we can afford to intervene. What is wrong with this picture?

It's really hard for me to sit here, typing on my laptop with the tv droning on in the background. I look around my living room at all my things. I feel safe here. I have everything I need. But halfway around the world, there are people dying right now. They don't feel safe. They don't have their basic needs met. They have a constant fear of being murdered. Their world looks hopeless and frightening.

I think about the Holocaust. We know now about the events that took place before America became involved. All the horrible killings, the torturous experiments performed on people, the raping of the human soul and spirit that continued for so many years. If I had been alive then, if I had been aware, would I have done anything to help?

I've watched 'Blood Diamond' and 'The Last King of Scotland' and others. They depict the horrors of war-torn Africa. The mass genocides, the power-hungry war-lords, the way wealthy white men played them off each other and prospered from the fighting. And every time I see more, every time I'm made aware of another atrocity taking place, I feel more and more helpless. What can I possibly do to make a difference?

I've done research into the issue of human trafficking. How it involves people being enslaved, forced to work without pay, their bodies sold to the highest bidder. Their choices removed, their lives threatened. Even children being forced into prostitution, just to please the sick fantasies of rich men. It is absolutely horrendous that such things are happening in our world- right now, as I write. I can't even fully comprehend it. The more I learn, the more angry and frustrated I feel. What can I possibly do to help?

I believe that people are valuable. Each person, regardless of their age or race or economic level or country of origin. The people living in Africa and Haiti and India are my brothers and sisters. We each contain desires, feelings, dreams, fears, needs. When they hurt, it affects me. But I sit here on my couch feeling totally helpless to do anything about their suffering.

If the harvest is ready and the workers are few, if God just needs willing vessels and we answered the call, then now what? Why are we stuck, going in circles?

So Ted encouraged me to use what I have around me to channel my angst. My writing, my songs, my artwork. Even though what I really want is to go straight there to the people in need and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them. I want to hold them in my arms, remind them that they are loved and valuable, encourage them to keep hoping and dreaming.

But right now, I can't go. I can't do those things tangibly for the people suffering in those places. All I can do now is pray for them- desperate prayers for rescue and salvation from the evil surrounding them. All I can do is advocate for them, raise awareness of what is really going on in our world. Call people to wake up from the rat race that smothers out our compassion. All I can do is use the tools at my disposal- to make a difference in my sphere of influence. It's not enough, and it won't be the end of my efforts.

With all my being, I promise I will go there someday, somehow. But until then, I will do what I can here and try my best to be satisfied until that day finally comes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SPARK: Art and Writing Challenge

I wanted to let everyone know about a creative challenge I recently took part in. The site is finally finished, so go take a look at some amazingly talented artists and writers. If you're interested in participating in the future, there's information on that as well.

Here's a description from SPARK:
"Visual artists and writers get paired up and trade work. Each person sends their partner an inspiration piece—something they created just for this project or that’s taken from their portfolio of work. Using that work—a photo, painting, poem, story, etc.—each SPARK participant creates a response piece in their own medium."

Be sure and click my name (Michelle Wallace) on "The Work" and on "Contributors" to see my artwork and bio.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I'm always surprised by peace. I tend to pray for it a lot, but it's still unusual to find myself surrounded by it. It reminds me of being in a bubble. I can see and hear things around me, but it doesn't shock my system like normal. I react differently than I usually would in stressful situations.

For instance, Ted lost his job last week. It's our only source of income, and we didn't have very much to begin with. We have three hungry kids, and plenty of bills to pay. And yet when he called to tell me the bad news, my calm reaction surprised even me.  And strangely enough, he was calm, too.

As we've told people, the worry is evident in their faces. They ask us if we're ok. And we just turn to each other, mirror images of calm composure. What's wrong with us, we wonder. Maybe it's because for the last three years, we've had to completely rely on God to provide for us. Maybe it's that we've been in this exact situation twice before. Maybe it's because we've been consistently praying for God's presence to surround us and for Him to daily lead our steps.

Whatever the reason, we feel God's supernatural peace. It doesn't make sense, but there it is. And all I can say is that I'm so grateful for His peace right now.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Some Favorite Quotes

"Love me, please, I love you; I can bear to be your friend. So ask of me anything...I am not a tentative person. Whatever I do, I give up my whole self to it." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

"Many a humble soul will be amazed to find that the seed it sowed in weakness, in the dust of daily life, has blossomed into immortal flowers under the eye of the Lord."  -Harriet Beecher Stowe

"Not reaching success isn't the end of the world; not trying is."  -Tim Wiley

"Love from the center of who you good friends who love beauty in everyone."  -Romans 12, The Message Bible

"I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I'm not feeling it. I believe in God even when He is silent."  -Jewish holocaust survivor

"Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good."  -Teresa of Avila

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."  -Maya Angelou

"We refuse to wear masks and play games." -2 Corinthians 4, The Message Bible

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite... Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved but have never been able to reach."  -Ayn Rand

"If we only have the will to walk, then God is pleased with our stumbles."  -C.S. Lewis

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses... yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."  -Emma Lazarus (on Statue of Liberty)

"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain."  -Emily Dickinson

"The psychological equivalent of air is to be understood."  -Stephen Covey

"All the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe- people and things, animals and atoms- get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies."  -1 Colossians 1, The Message Bible

Monday, March 2, 2009

15 Simple Pleasures

One of my writing prompts today was to list 15 Simple Pleasures and then write about one in particular. So I thought I'd share my simple pleasures with you. Just writing the list made me feel happy. What are your simple pleasures?

15 Simple Pleasures 

  1. blankets and pillows
  2. chocolate, popcorn and/or Dr. Pepper
  3. reading
  4. watching/laughing at my kids
  5. being in nature
  6. snuggling
  7. playing the piano
  8. creating art or writing
  9. watching a movie
  10. browsing art online
  11. massage from my hubby
  12. listening to my favorite music
  13. afternoon naps
  14. starbucks
  15. alone time
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