Sunday, May 10, 2015

For Moms Whose Life May Not Be a Fantasy

"Julia - Standing Strong"
©Antonia Ruppert
Mixed Media Acrylic and Oil Pastel on Panel
Do you remember what two shows were on Saturday night TV in the 80’s? I won’t make you strain to remember.  They were Love Boat and Fantasy Island.  I bring them up to remind you of the endings—always perfect and wrapped up in an hour.  Though in real life, circumstances are not always a dream, I’m learning from other moms that one does not have to wait to be faithful. 

Don’t Wait to Believe
When I talked with Dee, she shared how she came to trust God with her children.  She recalls being anxious when her first daughter went away to college.  She says she cried - she was so scared.  At some point, she was assured by scripture when Jesus says he had not lost one(John 18:9).  She always goes back to that key verse.

Additionally, when her second daughter’s right side went limp while running track, she knew something was wrong.  She could not get in to see a specialist for her daughter for 6 months.  She remembers thinking, “Really Lord?’  The scripture that encouraged her was John 11:4 (But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death…”  Her daughter’s condition was eventually diagnosed and managed. 

 “God is amazing,” Dee says. He carried her through.

Don’t Wait to Worship
While getting to know Julia, it became apparent that she is a true worshipper. If you only knew her story, you'd understand her exuberant praise.

After suffering a stroke in 1995, she promised she would be a better mother.  Having a stroke brought her family closer to her.  God brought her through the slow journey.  That is why she praises God so much.

"Tina (Attentive and Faithful)"
©Antonia Ruppert
Mixed Media Acrylic and Oil Pastel on Panel
Don’t Wait to Laugh
As I painted Zoraida we could not help laughing and talking. 

Zoraida shared with me the funniest story about her children.  They were about  six and three at the time.  One day , some friends of her mother showed up to visit her. In her excitement, she forgot to offer them anything-no water, cookies or anything. This was something she often did when friends stopped by.  

After talking for a bit, her small children appeared with the tray. They had placed  real glasses and everything on it.  They walked in with juice spilling between the two of them. The three year old asked, “Do you want juice?” in Spanish.  But she said it wrong since she was just learning , both English and Spanish.

Zoraida smiled and laughed as she recalled this memory.

"Hannah Remembering" - progress
©Antonia Ruppert
Mixed Media Acrylic and Oil Pastel on Panel
Don't Wait to Remember
The funny stories continued when I talked to Hannah.

She recalled a day when her husband was home with their two year old, Marcus. When she returned home, Marcus came downstairs with a substance on his face and arms.  Hannah thought it was poop all over him and started freaking out.  She did what every mom would do. She smelled it, etc., but there was no scent.  She went upstairs and found what he’d gotten into.  what she saw made her laugh.  He  had found a stash of cheetos and coffee(was it ground?).  He had dipped the cheetos into the coffee and ate some and smeared some. 

It’s one of those stories you remember with laughter.

Thanks to all of the mothers who have shared their stories with me.  I am headed today to my church New Life Community Church to worship.  As part of the service for Mother's Day, folks will be able to see twelve paintings from my series.  Here is a sneek peek at the installation: 

Portraits of Motherhood
 Installation view at New Life Community Church (Melrose Park, IL)
©Antonia Ruppert
Portraits of Motherhood 
 Installation view at New Life Community Church (Melrose Park, IL)
©Antonia Ruppert
In conclusion, I am learning so much from my painting series.  No matter what mountain you are facing, no matter what battles you’re fighting - you don’t have to wait.  No, this is not the Love Boat or Fantasy Island.  But, what I’m learning from other moms is that one does not have to wait to be faithful. You can believe, worship, laugh and remember.  Now.

Who do you know who'd love to see this post? Thank you for using the share buttons to post on Facebook, Google + or where ever you hang out.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Faces of Strength - a Mom with a Global Heart

"Lori's Heart"
Mixed Media on Panel
In my last post, I shared about Lori.   This post, I hope to inspire you with her strength story.

For Lori, it all started at a church youth group about four years ago.  The topic was about an organization called “Feed My Starving Children.” a non-profit committed to feeding malnourished children.  She thought it would be a good way for her own children to be involved - “kids helping kids.”  

About two years later, after Lori became the president of her parent/teacher association she was given a huge task.  The superintendent suggested they come up with a community service project for the middle schoolers.  The idea to do something with “Feed My Starving Children” kept coming back to her. 

The idea was sealed when she saw they had a mobile packing day event which allows groups to pack meals at their own location.  She says she felt it was a way for the students to be “globally connected.” It was a chance to “reach beyond our borders.”

It took a big step of faith and a ton of letters, followup and fundraising. As a result of her step and that of many other community members, there were: 
  • 108,000 mobile packs
  • 510 volunteers
  • 3 different packing sessions
  • 14 pallets of food

298 children fed for one year!

Lori says she learned “not to limit God with what my idea of possible is. All things are possible.”
Can I hear an amen?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Faces of Strength - What Do You Have a Heart for?

"Lori - in Progress"
Oil Pastel and Acrylic
12 x12
Have you ever met someone who is so purposeful about her calling?  

That is my friend Lori - another strong subject in my Faces of Strength series. 

Besides being a wife and a mother of two teens, Lori has a real heart for children.  She had always wanted her own children after holding babies in her church nursery.  

After starting her family later in life, she believes family to be the most important foundation.  As her children are now older, she says its important to develop relationships with them as they mature.

So what happens when this determined wife, mom and PTA president decides to help starving children and make a global impact?  

I will share the details of Lori’s mission in my next post.

Meanwhile, what do you have a heart for? What mission would you be willing to exert great strength for?
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Keep Your Head Up

drawing, affirmation, faith
"Keep Your Head Up - design sketch"
©Antonia Ruppert
Ink and Watercolor on Paper
Keep your head up. You can do it. Stay Positive. It will work out.

Today marks the first day in this new month. Its a day for pranks according to my daughter but, I think its a day for new beginnings.

So encourage yourself.

I submitted this design idea to a new training center that is looking for art.  I loved the message and thought you would also appreciate the positive vibe.

I dedicate this creation to my godson BJ and my dear friend Anita.

Keep your head up.

Monday, March 30, 2015

For the One Who Thinks 1986 is Ancient

©Antonia Ruppert
Doesn't it just rub you when your kids think you're waaay uncool? Here is a poem inspired by my youngest daughter, Imani, age 9 - who currently thinks 1986 is ancient.  To read why I wrote this, go here.  

One Day ©Antonia Ruppert

One day soon in the mirror you’ll see
all I had hoped you’d be
You’ll look long and hard and say
“Mom also wore her hair that way.”

Your skin etched with laughter 
where smooth use to be
Your velvety hands
moistened with Mr. Clean

That your way will be guided 
and your dreams made true
Is all I can ever hope for you.

Yet, in the mirror, one day, you’ll see
though today you laugh hilariously.
In the mirror one day you’ll see,

you’re more than ever like me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What I Learned this Week about Laughter

portrait, Sylvia, acrylic, mixed media
"In the Mirror"
©Antonia Ruppert
Acrylic and Mixed Media
Do you ever laugh at yourself? This week I learned that part of being human is being able to laugh at your own experiences.  My 9 year old spent some part of this evening watching some of my old videos and laughing. 

This was NOT a “laugh with you” kind of laugher.

She said look at your clothes, why did you wear that? (And I thought my clothes were just fine.)

She then said, “Look Mom, look at your dancing!” After some moments of watching, she finally said “You freak me out!”

I had to say OK and laugh with her. Some of my old videos were a bit much -  to say the least.  We had a moment together.

I am working on a poem - an ode to my youngest which I will share with you next post.

Pictured in this post is another painting from my series Faces of Strength.  “In the Mirror” is a rendition of Sylvia. Another painting of Sylvia is posted here.

This week I learned to not take myself so seriously. Have you laughed at your own self lately? 

Go ahead, look again at those old videos. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Faces of Strength: Feeling Honored

Faces of Strength painting_Antonia Ruppert
"I am Honored" ©Antonia Ruppert
Mixed Media on Panel
After meeting with Chinniese to hear her story and paint her, I became aware of other words to associate with motherhood. Honor. Wisdom. Patience. Let me share with you some of the gems she shared with me.
  • Chinniese said, “It’s an honor to be someone’s mommy.”
  • She relies on prayer to find the wisdom she needs daily.
  • Though she felt overwhelmed at first, she would not change it for the world.
  • Chinniese learned to be excited and embrace her daughter for who she is.
  • She considers being a mom as another way of being a good steward.

We talked further about one of her life lessons: having patience with herself.  She explained that we can beat ourselves up, but God does not look at us like that.  He looks at us with grace (free and unmerited favor).  I felt after talking to Chinniese that she has great patience with herself - as a parent and as a person.

Besides having this type of personal patience, Chinniese has a circle of friends which provides added wisdom on how to do things. She wants to see her friends and other women built up - to know that they too are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Meeting with Chinniese and creating the painting of our experience together was awesome. I painted her from life—only adjusting some parts slightly afterwards.  In the process of creating the final art, it dawned on me several times that I could add anything I wanted to tell her story.  Hence, the hair barrette was added to show the youthful quality of the left figure.  Additionally, I decided to use her own words in the painting - words from our conversation as well as themes which guide her - honor, patience and trust.

What three words describe your life as a mother or your relationship with your own mom? Let me know in the comments below.

And if you would like to see this painting as a greeting card—be sure to go to my Fine Art America page.

I am thankful to Chinniese for allowing me to hear her story and thankful to you for joining me today.