Category: Untraditional Work

A Season of Transitions and Many Blessings

After 3 years of  full freelancing, with God providing from all different places including the work of our hands, the Lord has seen fit to give me a job that is providing fully for our family. This will enable us, God willing, to find a local place to rent instead of moving wherever (as we were willing to do and are still willing to do should things change, yet this means we can stay here where family is, especially my grandmother who is not doing as well as we would hope.) This was completely God’s hand– one minute I  was doing some website work and an hour later I had a full time job.

New palette– sketch for future color reference.

This job is not a forever job.  I am part of a team of women who care for an elderly woman. When she no longer needs us then I will no longer have this job.  So we are using this income to get ourselves on better financial footing, to pay off debt,  and find a temporary place to live. (The bank finally, after 6 months, decided that the buyer of our home was not suitable and that we were going to back into full foreclosure. Sigh. So we have a Sheriff sale ate again and a move out date.)  We are packing up the house and looking for a place to rent, or will as soon as the plague leaves our house. We have a list of places to check but are waiting on God’s timing, and part of that is being healthy again (Rach got sick, then the rest of us did– par for the course, though I think we are on the tail end of it now).

Little reader dragon-ACEO

In the last month, not only have we been adjusting to the changes that come with me working full time but also, God has been doing some serious spiritual heart surgery around here.   There have been many changes of a wide variety and those, combined with me working, and the family being sick, have made for a very interesting time but one I am not quite ready to discuss publicly (especially since we are still in the midst of it– we are talking deep internal changes which only show in small things externally). Basically Shamus and I have been spending a huge amount of time listening to the bible together and talking about what God is showing us and  the internal understandings and changes have been pretty huge. Aside from  all the other stuff He has specifically laid 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.) on both of our hearts and we are praying and learning what that looks like in the work that He has given us to do.

Curled up with a Good Book– dragon postcard.

Also, during that time Shamus had a huge computer mess which lead to blessings but that is a story for him to tell (which I believe he will be sharing later this week.) In fact, I believe he has another thing to share this week as well.

All in all God has been blessing us from every angle.  The job I have permits me a lot of downtime and quiet, so I spend that time reading and painting. I do have internet access but no laptop or tablet so I can only be online in part, via the wi-fi smart phone– this means I can keep in touch with the family while there without having to make calls. This means I am spending less time  on groups on Facebook and more time just praying for the CU group (I can only access it sporadically from the phone and usually don’t get updates). That said it is a blessing to have quiet time to paint, and be encouraged to do so (the lady I work for loves that I spend my downtime painting and encourages it.) So I am not only working full time but also producing more paintings.

New book dragon.

The only downside of me working is I am getting less time at home with the family. 🙂  They don’t seem to be suffering for it, in fact it has been a neat transition as Shamus is taking on more of the daily conversations about anything and everything. I think it is a very good thing all in all but I do miss having a good feel for what is going on, what is needed, and who is struggling with what.

Finally, Shamus and I celebrated 16 years of marriage this week by getting nice and sick (well, he is.  I am only slightly  so– stuffy nose mostly) but that made for an interesting anniversary.  Also, Rach spent her birthday last week sick but I think had a super awesome birthday anyway.

So there it is.  A bit of a rambly post about how God is working in our lives and  where we are right now. Aside from being sick the kids are thriving. Shamus is thriving. I am thriving. God is good and is doing great things.  We will see where He leads us next.

Goings ons: GAPS, unschooling, work and more

So I have been a bit busy. I mean, I am ALWAYS busy in the summer, but this is unusually busy. Some of it has been the Christian Unschooling Facebook group which take as lot of my time as I am admin there. Some of it has been learning new things: between Pinterest (you can find me here) and Google + (find me here). BTW both programs are wonderful but I am really, really in love with Google +. The artist community there is amazing and inspiring.

We are still on the GAPS diet and it is still helping.

 

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  • Rachel has been able to fully add multiple foods into her diet that triggered full SJS symptoms before– including lemon, chicken, and ginger.  She can also be around tomato and apple without symptoms (just being in the same room with them would trigger a reaction before.)  She has also had plenty of energy and zero RA symptoms since going on the diet.
  • Issac is doing very well on the diet though he now has added regular raw milk in (it is something he can fix himself quickly and will always drink.)  He doesn’t like broth so I make reductions with whatever he is eating — kind of like gravy which works well.
  • Esther was doing very well until she started forgetting to eat and just started drinking straight raw milk all the time. Around that time she contracted a stomach bug, her system got all out of whack and she has to restart intro  in order to heal.  We are nearly back to where she was already and she is now able to eat way more foods than she could before without enzymes.
  • I am continuing to heal well though we ran out of grass fed beef and it is hard to get around here without ordering quarter (which we are doing but it will take 8 weeks to get.)  I can now eat chicken and eggs with no reaction though after years of being allergic I am really nervous of it.  Up until this week I have had no RA symptoms at all.  This week we ran out of broth and I have been slightly stiff (no big flare-ups) and dealing with the exhaustion that comes when I am dealing with what would be a flareup if I were eating a regular diet.  Considering that in the past the first weeks of August are my worst flare-up times and have meant me on crutches most years I am doing exceptionally well.
Unschooling is still going on:

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  • It has become so much of our lifestyle that I seldom think about it anymore.  The kids as always are doing all sorts of things– mostly on the computer (but what do you expect when most of their parents time is spent on the computer?)
  • Rachel is spending a lot of time playing piano, watching anime, drawing manga, learning Japanese, focusing on being more independent, reading the driver’s handbook again and again (she can’t wait to get her license in 3 years),  playing Minecraft and WoW and doing odd jobs for money.
  • Esther is spending much time reading, on Minecraft, Roblox, and Sims 3, drawing, and trying to get her sleeping and eating into healthy patterns so she grows properly (her goal not mine).
  • Issac is spending lots of time playing with his Fisher Price castle, pirates, and submarine thanks to finding more parts via my brother and the thrift shop.  He is also really into Roblox and Minecraft, chemistry, and electricity.
Work stuff:
  • Shamus finally got paid.  It was a year in coming but it is here which means we are no longer struggling (though we still can’t make the full house payment since we need to make this last — since who knows the next time we will get paid. :))
  • This means that part of our current work is figuring out how best to spend on the big things (ordering things we use in bulk, paying off bigger debts, and generally learning how to live on freelancer income.)
  • Shamus is working on a game engine and a book and is thinking about another book.  He is currently working on a game proposal for the game engine as he has potential backers, finishing the first book, and thinking on the new book.  We are also considering different ways of monetizing his site more efficiently.
  • I am working on some more book illustrations/cover art, several portraits, and have some website work on the backburner (waiting for clients to get back to me.)
  • The card game is out and for sale (once we get the cost of making it paid off in sales then we get a chunk in proceeds so…go buy a copy, or two or three?  It makes an awesome gift, is fun to play even as adults, is fast paced and educational (math, history –since I made the costumes and everything involved historically accurate to the 16th century, reading, logic).  My kids love it as do other unschooling friends who have played it.  It is also easy to adapt to other games or for more than 2 people.
Provision:
  • It has been amazing how God has provided this last year and we are trying to learn from the experience and make wise decisions for the future.  He has made sure we have had all we needed despite our lack of funds and it has been awesome to see how various people have stepped in  and provided where work did not.  Shamus’s readers on his website are absolutely amazing as their random gifts saw us through many tight spots, as did several families who took us on and sponsored us, making sure we had what we needed.  We praise the Lord for all of their help.  Our personal goal is to make this (which the Lord has lead us to) work.  To avoid needing to eat into the chunk of  money we have been paid for previous work done and to instead of try to work our way out of the debt we are in.  We want to get to the position where we can freely give and help those in need out of our excess instead of just out of our tithe.  We are praying that the Lord will get us to that point via the work He has provided for us to do.  That said the life of a freelancer may not be easy but it is always interesting.

 

Provision

Green Energy Snap Circuits
Issac saved up his birthday/Christmas money to get these. Just ordered them and got them right before our derf we ar a lmost out of money moment..

We have been, for several months, gratefully living off the money we got back from the government (via paying our taxes) for which we have been very, very grateful.  The problem is we knew it wouldn’t last.  We didn’t go crazy and buy all sorts of things– except for stocking up on the things we had been out of for some time, getting a few things to replace broken other things (though not replacing all the broken appliances– well attempting to, but when the replacements also broke we just waited).  So we are at that place.  The place where we are back relying on Jehovah Jireh daily.  The oldest isn’t too thrilled as she doesn’t like being uncomfortable at all but here we are.  SO I thought I should share what all He has been doing (though I have been sharing daily on Facebook and on the CU group.)

 

Moraine State Park
Impromptu trip to Moraine on a very hot sunny day.

When we realized how low we were getting we did the same thing we always do– avoided paying the bills.  We are awful that way.  Then we went to pay the bills and realized, wow, we really are low– too low to buy groceries.  Okay, now what God?  (I hate that we do that, but we both do, especially as it almost always happens when Shamus is sleeping during the day and we aren’t seeing each other except when one of us is falling asleep.

Green Energy Snap Circuits
Intent on his new kit.
  • Right around that time I got a spur of the moment, last minute, please help us get this done in time book cover job (thanks Grace!) which paid for a bill that needed paid NOW.  The book is here: http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Keven-Newsome/dp/tags-on-product/0987653105, the cover was nearly done, just needed to place some text and clean it up for print.  Holly Heisey did the cover and it is lovely.
  • I helped a friend transfer her blog for fun and she sent us gift cards for a local restaurant– which is awesome and will provide a much needed date with Mr. Hubbypants (if our sleep EVER lines up again!)
  • The first thing that happened, immediately following paying bills is I started really analyzing the cost of GAPS foods and deciding what was most important.  We then realized that trips to Broadrun farms were VERY important as raw milk, meat, and eggs are the cheapest nutrition for us.  So, knowing we didn’t have the money we prayed that God would provide.  And around the time that we HAD to leave I got money via paypal through the same friend who sent us the gift cards!  Enough for everything we needed at the farm!  YAH!  (And thanks to my grandma I had enough gas to go!)
  • If you follow my husband at all you will know that he was finishing up his book, Libreoffice hiccuped and LOST 3 days of work– which was HUGE and he was devastated.  Then a reader sent him a free gift of  Word (the “good  version–can’t remember which year).  He was grateful but felt it wasn’t time to get back into it– which is fine because he works in his head like I do, THEN put sit on paper.
  • Because of that he suddenly got back into programming and started working on a game engine again– and is going at warp speed doing what he calls the best programming he has ever done.  Which is awesome and I am excited to see where God takes that.
  • I have multiple jobs right now, all of which will help pay the bills in the coming month (some things due soon so that is awesome.)
  • Right after I had a huge panic attack about where the money would come from, God started putting everything into place.   A friend sent us not only enough to renew our Science Center Membership (which he says we should do) but also added enough to pay some bills and keep us in food until these jobs pay.  Praise the Lord–some stress relieved.
  • Another friend was doing a rummage sale at her church and told me to let her know what appliances we had that had died so she could watch for them.  Then she offered to pick them up at the pre-sale (just for helpers) so I would get them.  THEN when I tried to pay her she said no!  So now we have all new small appliances to replace all our broken ones!
Moraine State Park
Moraine State Park, Pa

The Daily Blather

My brain is not doing so well as far as coming up with posts– frankly we are just too busy living.  So here is a cross section of what we are up to:

We spent the day running errands, going to the library (where we got some awesome book and audio books, including a Diana Wynne Jones) and got to go to the park for the first time this year.  We brought along Esther’s best friend -we called spontaneously as we were driving by her house.  I love that her mom, Rachel’s pinano teacher, is as spontaneous as I am and happily agreed that she could go along.  It was windy and chilly despite the supposed 65 degrees though it did get nice and warm when the sun peaked through the storm cloud dominated sky.  I love having kids that are old enough to play at the park on their own whole I sit in the warm minivan and read my library book.  They managed to get muddy via mud puddles and creek plus they explored a fallen tree and all the old fountains at the park.  (I forgot my camera and though my cell has some photos they are hard to get to.)  We got to explore both the purple park and the lower (gazebo) park because we had to leave for a bit (someone had to use the restroom so we ran to Big Lots and picked up some snacks too.)  After that we headed down to the smaller Alameda park where the kids climbed around and had enjoyed the creek.  Rach sat in the car with me as she is still pretty run down after being sick so we read our books and watched some Larpers preparing to play.  It was actually pretty awesome and Rach was tempted to go talk to them to see if she could get involved since that is one of her dreams and we didn’t even know there was a group in the area.  I am sure there are more but I actually recognized several of the people from the comic book store.

We stopped at the thrift shop where we found the original Clue game– which we played over and over when we got home.  LOVE that game.  We also found a Lego Harry Potter Night Bus still in it’s plastic bag for $.49 which is awesome.  Also we found Esther some much needed tennis shoes, Rach an awesome skirt (she is like me and lives in skirts–her sister?  not so much, except for in the summer.)  I found something for me as well but now I can’t remember what it was.  Oh, but I found my husband an awesome hat at Kohl’s (where I had one of those $10 gift cards they send out.)  I spent $4 which is more than I usually do with those but it looks awesome and I had promised him a hat after PAX, because we are also a hat wearing family. 🙂

 

We also managed to mail out a pile of things that had been waiting to go.  Of this I am proud–I am bad at remembering to mail things.  Our post office is awkward to get to though we have a sweet little post things place where we love the owner and this time, because my brain was on backwards, we ended up using both the main post office AND visiting Miss Josie who when the kids were small would let them help her box things.

I am working on another painting– based on the  18th photo down on Melissa’s post here.  Aren’t her photos wonderful?  When my own photos run out of interest I have a habit of turning to hers for something to paint, and that one is gorgeous.  I am thinking of doing partial color so that should be fun.  I am taking photos as I go and you can keep up with them here at my Facebook page.  I didn’t get anything done on it today because we were gone all day but I did get the masking on last night– which the kids think is funny because the liquid friskit I use is bright orange (you use it to mask out the white in watercolors) so the painting looks freaky.  Will post a photo of it to the Facebook page when I get the next layer don e and can post both photos.

We are celebrating our first Passover this week– it has been an interesting experience which I will relate in another post.

Jehovah Jireh

This morning I started to panic again.  I have been doing some work, very fun, exciting work, and it is a paying a bit– enough to cover a few of the past due bills and some necessary items.  But we have plenty of bills that are overdue which means everything is at pay or shut off status and despite God’s obvious provision in the past my brain started thinking again.  So instead of panicking I prayed, and praised God for what He has already done, and then prayed again (I know in my brain that God has and is still providing but every once in a while there is a disconnect in there between that part and the part that buys groceries and pays bills.)

I know God is providing.  I know God is providing.  I know God is providing and am thankful for all He has done.

So anyway, this morning after starting to panic and stopping again I got back to work.   The box art for the card game is sent in and all ready to go so hopefully we are able to move towards printing soon (which is exciting and scary all rolled into one.)  I am also proofing a book while scanning for description for some possible book cover art.  Plus random around the house stuff that needed done.  In the midst of all that I got an email.

A writer friend I had done some website work for in the past and now more recently wanted to know my Paypal address.  This is cool because I finished the work before Christmas and she didn’t have the money then.  Anyway she was able to pay me in full for that job which means that, combined with the work I have been doing (and have gotten promptly paid for) we have enough to pay the most pressing bills and buy a few much needed items.

And so once again God stepped in and took care of things when I couldn’t imagine how He would.  I would so love to be in a place where I didn’t wonder how He could possibly do something because I KNOW HE will I just need the rest of me to know as well.  So praise the Lord for He is awesome!

Work and a Gift

Actually the title should be something about how work is a gift from God, which it is.  How bored we would be and how little enjoyment we would have if we didn’t have something to do with our hands.

I am excited because the Lord has gifted me with several bits of work to do that may lead to other bits of work in a field I adore.  This is especially exciting because it combines skills I have developed over time (which is always nice– I would much rather do that which God has prepared me to do than some random new thing for which I am not designed), books (which if you don’t know already I am passionate about), and creativity (design using Gimp as well as with my pen and paints).

A friend of mine, Grace, owns a small publishing company, Splashdown Books, and was talking about all the work she had to get done this month and I (per usual) volunteered to help.  I got to layout a book cover (which I enjoyed a lot more than designing websites) and got to do a small painting that will be incorporated into the covers for the series.  And then she paid me for my work on the very first night which I was not expecting (like I said I volunteered) and for which I was grateful.  And it looks like she may have other work for me (at the very least the rest of this series which is also exciting, and fun.)

Ever since I was a child and wrote “BCL” in every one of my picture books (B___ Children’s Library) and then proceeded to organize them by author (and type for the non-fiction) I have adored books and wanted to have something to do with them. For a long time I thought I wanted to write and though I do I do not consider myself a “writer”.  I don’t care enough about writing itself to research the best ways to write, writing styles, getting published and all that.  On the other hand I AM passionate about art, a well designed book cover (I will often pick up a book based on a great cover), and encouraging good writers (and there are a lot though there are also a lot of  the other sort of writers out there.)  So it is exciting that God is leading in that direction at this time (I don’t know what He has planned for the future but I am enjoying where I am.)

That, combined with doing the box art for the card game (more art from that over here) is making for a very busy me. The sooner the box art is done, the sooner we can get it published so I am working to get it done quickly, and praying over the work constantly.

Also cool is that Shamus has had several possible offers regarding paying gigs (for both writing and his videos).  We are prayerfully considering each, especially since we are feeling very led to continue in the direction we are going.  He has also been writing about 2,000 words a day on his book, which is coming along nicely.

Finally my mother-in-law showed up with some cash from my father-in-law this morning.  She  said, “He just told me that I was to give this to you kids.”  So that is pretty awesome and appreciated.  Have I mentioned that our families are wonderful and have been such a blessing to us?   Regardless, I will say it now, they are wonderful and a blessing. 🙂  (Later on Rachel came home (she had spent the day helping her grandma and practicing piano at my mother-in-law’s church) she came laden with perishable groceries that my mother-in-law had gotten us: eggs, salad, fruit, and cheese.  Did I mention they are awesome?!

And now back to work. Trying to finish the final element of the box art before Sabbath so I can touch it up then get it scanned after Sabbath.

Where We Are: December

Painted this a few minutes before Sabbath began Christmas eve--an excellent reminder of my own need for rest and peace.

*Please excuse the awkward wording–I have a cold and my brain is full of goo and my brain is transposing words left and right.)

First off, hoping you have had a blessed holiday season whether you celebrate or not– we kind of celebrated Hanukkah (we lit a small menorah made of playdough and birthday cake candles and played with the dreidel)  and celebrated Christmas on Christmas eve with our extended families Christmas day we had a small immediate family celebration then a short visit with my 82 yr old grandmother) while celebrating a much needed Sabbath.  It turned out that we all got sick which made me even more grateful that we did most of the celebrating the day before.

This month has seen much blessing from friends and family who have stepped in to cover our needs in various ways despite the paycheck we expected not showing up (please pray it comes in the next few weeks– things are going to start getting shut off otherwise).  From friends who sent us cash (which bought much needed groceries and paid the immediate bills) and gave me  small jobs that covered Christmas dinner and a few small gifts to family members who stepped in and paid for gas and our steer (which means that we have plenty of organic, grass-fed beef), to small gifts of much needed items, even Christmas gifts of clothes that are needed and FIT and grocery money (the kids are so excited about the Whole Foods gift card from my WONDERFUL sister-in-law) we have been amazingly blessed.  It is not comfortable, especially each day not knowing where, when and how the next need  will be met.

I am usually the “God will provide” person– every time we have a need I am the one who trusts and believes and watches for God to step in– and He always does because He is faithful, but I am struggling– every few days I get knocked over with a wave of fear and I am battling it with His help.  The thing is, because I am usually the one who just trusts it is affecting the rest of the family having me worried.  So I am praying diligently for patience, faith, and the ability to stand strong in faith.

So now I am praying for a miracle, and trusting we will have one soon.  He is faithful and He has provided thus far therefore I can trust Him and I am standing on His promises that He will take care of us.  That said just an update on other things:

Shamus is writing a brilliant book while working on all his other projects.  Brilliant I say.  He was working on an epic tale (which was well written, makes a perfect short story, and fizzled out because he didn’t have his arc figured out before he started) but this one is shorter, funnier, and just plain awesome and I can’t wait to share it with others.  He is also trying to finish up so loose ends so he can start applying various places who may be interested in his work– but those would all mean moving and him working in an office (which would mean not writing).  We are really praying that somehow the Lord would provide so that he can continue to work from home (and actually get paid what is promised to him) and that he would be able to keep writing which is really his passion.

The kids are growing like weeds (Rach is 5′ 5″ and a half! and the other two have rapidly shortening clothes).  They are also maturing at an alarming rate.  They all set out to buy gifts for everyone in the family with their own money and did a beautiful job.  Rachel has been saving up and purchasing her own lunch foods (her own choice–she wants to  learn about economy, the cost of food, and learn to do for herself so that when she is old enough to move out she knows how to live economically.)  Issac made rice packs as gifts for everyone and Esther not only purchased special gifts for individuals but she stepped in several times to help the family out using her birthday money.

All three kids are keeping very busy with various projects.  Rachel had to stop piano lessons until we get paid again but is occasionally babysitting for her teacher in exchange for a lesson and is also doing quite a bit of babysitting otherwise.  Esther is not going to be in the next show due to monetary restraints but is happily engaged in other projects (most including books either reading of or writing.)  Issac is building and creating and making constantly.

I am sure there is a lot more they are doing but right now my brain is shutting down so I will instead point you to a post that is where my heart is and is better able to express how I am feeling at the moment than I apparently am in my addle brained state:  My dear friend Holly shares it here.

Regarding the card/painting project

that I mentioned all the way back here at the beginning of summer.  It is coming down to the final bits– I only have a few cards left to paint and have all the photos I need to work from (praise the Lord, this happened suddenly and perfectly and I barely had a thing to do with it other than mentioning that I needed photos and why).  This means that once I manage to get all scanned and sent off (and probably rework some and edit others) I will be finished with this and able to move on to the next thing, which hopefully includes something else that will bring in some more money as well as an artist page on Facebook (which I keep meaning to do but haven’t yet due to all focus being on the cards and research).

I still haven’t managed to send off even a single photo of the work to the client/friend/person-who-designed-the-game because every time I attempt to do so something happens to keep it from happening (like losing ALL the scans without saving or the camera batteries suddenly dying and all the spares mysteriously disappearing–both of which have happened at least once among other things.)  This is making my poor husband exceptionally nervous as the pile of cards and card elements sitting here not in any digital form scares him.  Hard drive crashes and lost files don’t worry him near as much as sudden gusts of wind blowing all the cards away or the cards spontaneously combusting or who knows what might happen.  So, I am leaving them in God’s hands and will get them in the computer when it happens.

This also means that I don’t have any photos to share with you (plus I am not sure about actually sharing the images until the game is actually being published– I know lots of artists do share highlights or sneak peaks or whatever but… since this is my first such deal I don’t want to mess things up by sharing before it’s time.

And so, back to work.  I have a character sitting here waiting to be inked and another sketch waiting to be painted and then a few more to sketch, paint, and ink and then I am done except for the box art– which I doubt I can do until we know what dimensions the box will be.