Fighting Artistic Discouragement

Hello friends! I apologize for the wonkiness of my website. I don’t really know what I’m doing but I’m doing my best. Sorry if it looks weird HA.

It’s NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month!). I am loosely participating. I am using it as a motivator and encouragement to continue working on my first draft of my debut novel. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on it and getting back into it has me a little nervous. I am taking the advice ‘just write’ and not get hung up over how bad it is. I know my writing right now is bad because I’m not trying very hard to make it great! LOL. Why am I writing then? I’m writing this draft as just getting the story out. Once the whole story is laid out I will then go back, re-read, cut-out/add, edit etc… and repeat that process probably many times.

I’m also still working towards what next steps to take with my single. I keep getting stuck. It is easy for me to feel discouraged and then I start to doubt. On a day when I am feeling discouraged about the process I listen to the song and I get nit-picky about how it could be better. On a good day when I am feeling hopeful and excited about prospects and full of ideas I listen to it and think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. It’s a weird place to be as an artist to have such different views of what you produce on any given day.

I thought I would share what I need and what’s next…at least what I think is next.

I have a vision in my head for what the music video should or could be like. I can picture most of it. So then I write down my ideas as if I am scripting the song. Line by line, what would happen? Then I tried to draw pictures of what I envisioned. I LOVE art and I love painting but the reason I like painting FURNITURE and not canvass is because I don’t have great technical or professional skills when it comes to freehand drawing from my imagination.

So I need a collaboration partner, an artist, a friend. I need someone who can catch my vision and help me storyboard a music video. Any ideas?

Once I have a really clear vision for a music video THEN I can move forward with planning the actual shoot (working with a videographer and finding a location etc etc…)

There is a lot that goes into this than I thought there would be.

I am not going to quit though. I am not going to get scared about the unknown. I am going to trust in the Lord. This whole thing is even a thing because God put something on my heart and I believe He has called me down this path.

So I will keep trying, keep knocking on doors, keep praying, and keep waiting, until the next step is more clear and I can move forward. I’m not giving up on this.

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Working on Priorities and Anxiety

Things I am working on: priorities, seeing God in the mundane, experiencing Jesus in the mundane, worshiping God in the mundane.

Also, anxiety is a big struggle for me. I worry about big things and small things and sometimes it manifests physiologically. Sometimes my anxiety clouds my focus on Christ and I need to dig deep for the truth and refresh my heart and mind by His grace.

Read, pray, sing worship music. His grace covers my anxiety, it covers my disordered priorities, it covers me.

I pray that I can get to a point in my homemaking journey that I can enjoy each task purely because I am experiencing Jesus in it, not because I want to make someone else happy and not because it gives me an excuse to crank up my ‘cleaning music playlist’ (which is mostly Disney songs). Do your work in me, Lord.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:25-34

Scrub your floor

My flip-flops smacked where my kids dripped watermelon juice from last night’s dinner and play-dough was caked to the floor. It was long over-due for a scrub and would be an embarrassment if company came over to see. So I got my bucket and scrubber, got down on my hands and knees and started to scrub out all the neglected grime.

I got sweaty and determined to make it clean. Then I realized something. I have neglected my dirty heart in the same way. I felt almost a primal urge to scrub harder as I watched the colorful markings lift away.

When we are sealed as children of God, He does not ‘let us go’ in the same way I was willing to let my floor go. He will scrub out my sin no matter how much soap or water or elbow grease it takes. It might take a while but He persists for His children. He wants us to be holy so that we can be with Him.

The conviction in my heart over my sin overwhelmed me as I scrubbed and scrubbed. Bubbles covered the floor and I prayed for God to scrub out my sin, even when it caused sweat and tears and pain.

Then I wondered and imagined… if Jesus were to enter into my home at that moment while I was bent over my floor with my disgusting scrubber, what would he do? Would he find my state appalling or be disappointed or would he say something?

No, Jesus would get down on his hands and knees, right next to me, and would scrub my floor with me.

Why do I know he would respond like that? Because he, being the son of God, submitted himself to the most shameful of deaths for that time and endured not only physical pain but spiritual and emotional turmoil, all to save His people so we can experience a Holy, good, merciful, Father God. That, right there friends, is WHO I scrub my floor for and why it gave me joy. My chore became an act of worship and that’s exactly what He wanted me to realize in that moment.

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Summer Update

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post here, which makes me sad. But I’ve found I’ve had very little energy to give to blog posts for the last couple of months.

Summer is in full swing and between a slew of graduation parties, end of year programs, family gatherings, travel plans, birthdays, swim lessons, etc… I have just been trying to stay focused on my family and enjoying the summer season while it lasts.

I have been trying to participate in #campnanowrimo this July which is a month-long writing sprint where you try to write a novel in a month. I’ve never participated in this online writing challenge before but it’s been good to help motivate me to add to my word count.

Even this challenge though is challenging to keep up with. It’s hard to find any kind of devoted time to accomplish something like write a book when being a full-time mom to three young kids. I know that even if I set unrealistic goals that I do not meet, progress is still progress, and I can’t put the same kind of expectations on myself that a full-time writer can.

My word-count is passed 30k and I’m on chapter 10 right now which is great. I’ve received feedback from my first two chapters from a few people which was so incredibly helpful. I know my first draft is going to suck and I’ve accepted that. My writing right now is not good… but this process is just getting the story out of my head and onto the computer screen. It’s about getting the story organized, developed, and having a plan. Once the first draft is done I can re-read, re-write, embellish, fill it out, make it pretty etc… and that’s just not the phase I’m in right now which is totally okay.

As for the song – it’s been recorded and I am waiting to schedule a time to add some choral/back-up singers for a couple of parts. I am loosely planning to have the song ready for release with a video sometime before October! We’ll see how things go with that.

I waffle between projects too… some days I get excited about the writing of the book and other days I get excited about the song (particularly the creation of a video to go along with it). I can’t just stick with one thing very long, I end up switching it up and my projects take turns.

Come August though I’m hoping to take a step away from writing and focus on reading (reading for pleasure, inspiration, and self-enrichment) as well as planning my homeschool year.

So… hopefully I can get a good chunk of writing done in these last two-ish weeks of July! WAA.

What are you working on this summer?

A Song

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

Victor Hugo

I have always loved music and singing and when I was a kid I wrote a lot of poetry and would try to make up songs to go with the poems. But I haven’t done anything like that in years. Well, I’ve had this tune (and even some of the words) in my head since I was a pre-teen. I always thought it was catchy and fun and could make a great song and never forgot that melody. A few months ago inspiration hit and I no longer had just an old idea for a chorus I suddenly had an entire song.

I can’t really explain how this happened. The words flowed and the verses and a bridge just evolved. I would hum or sing it while washing dishes and jot down lyric ideas late at night when I should have been sleeping or at random times while out places on my notes app.

I awkwardly plunked the notes out on my little keyboard (because I can’t even play the piano) and then one day I recorded myself singing it with my phone and then nervously sent the video clip to some friends who are musicians.

From then on this process of producing ‘a single’ has gone very smoothly so far. I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I am doing but thankfully my friends know music engineering and have been amazing to work with.

I am getting so excited to share this song with the world. But I don’t want to share too much because I want it to speak for itself. With this tune in my head and words that just spilled out I could feel deep down in my bones that God was going to do something with this song. It’s exactly like Victor Hugo’s quote. It is impossible for me to be silent.

Up until recently, I’ve actually felt extremely shy and afraid about singing this way. I am 100% comfortable singing in choirs (which I haven’t done since high school but I loved it!) and I’ve sang solos in musical theater (again, not since high school) and I’ve had the joy to sing occasionally on our church worship team. But most, if not all, of that singing was sung with my ‘head voice’. I like to call it my choir voice.

But, the kind of singing that really moves me, and the voice I use for when I really want to pour my soul into it, is my chest voice. This is also called a belting voice. For whatever reason, I’ve been afraid to sing in front of other people using this voice, even though it’s my favorite style of singing.

I actually think singing in front of my kids since their births have helped me get more comfortable singing in front of others. I don’t really fear their judgment because they might not know yet what is supposed to sound good. Except for when one of them asks, “Mom can you stop singing already!?” then I feel self-conscience again. Hah.

But I’ve been wondering why God would put this desire in me, a desire that has recently gotten stronger? Is singing/songwriting a way I could bring glory to God? And when I randomly decided to give this old song idea a little bit of time, it was like I was receiving a big resounding YES.

So, right now, I’ve sung my song in front of a few friends and my hubby and kids. I was still nervous. But I’ve been seeking the Lord in the process of stripping away my silly fears and just focusing on doing what I believe I’m being called to do.

The song has been arranged and recorded but there are a few adjustments yet to be made. I can’t believe how FUN this process has been.

What I am seeking the Lord for next in this is a videographer. We (me and the music team/friends I’ve been working with) feel that this song would be best shared and more powerful with a nicely produced music video.

It’s a bit out of my comfort zone (but again a lot of this has been!) but I really am hoping and praying for the right videographer to work with for this project.

So, here’s how you can help: subscribe to my blog or follow me on one of my social media accounts so I can update you about the progress AND more importantly: share this blog post with your friends and help me spread the word. For anyone interested I can share privately a little more detail. I just want to plan a big reveal/release for everyone when it’s all done.

If you are a videographer and I’ve piqued your curiosity you can email me at jessica @ kartis . online

Thank you so much for reading this!

I have to give some shoutouts now and thank all the people who’ve been a part of this:
My husband and kids, Ian, Elizabeth, Doug, Milo & Rachel – you know who you are. You all rock.

‘God Sightings’ Amidst Travel Drama: Part 2

So I was in the depths of despair at the airport gate. I had to calm down and start figuring out what I was going to do next. Many phone calls later I found myself sitting in the airport I was supposed to be flying out of waiting for my sister to pick me up again.

My only option was to wait until the following day and catch the same flight again. It’s not easy to find alternative flights out of a place like Hawaii… they only do so many a day. So, I spent one more night at my sister’s place and then headed to the airport the next morning a good four and a half hours early this time!

When I landed in San Francisco I was supposed to be switching airlines and making a connecting flight to Minneapolis. Well, that flight was’t happening again until Sunday (it was Friday). So, I waited at the airport and had planned to attempt to fly standby for a different airline which would take me to Dallas and then to Minneapolis. This gate was busy but there were a few open seats on the plane. I had no idea what kind of chances I had of getting on that plane were. I just knew I wanted to get home and the sooner the better.

As an anxious mom missing her kids and flying alone, sitting at that gate waiting to find out if I would make it on or not was agonizing. And sure enough… I did not get on.

It was then around midnight in San Francisco. I was so worked up and anxious that I wasn’t feeling tired. Plus, on Hawaiian time it was only a few hours earlier. I ended up walking around the airport, finding random quiet places to sit and read. Then I went to a coffee shop that was open all night and got a salad and a tea at 2:00am. Bless my dad who was awake during the night in Minnesota texting me and encouraging me when everyone else I knew was sleeping. I did some more reading and then when Nick was waking up I talked to him on the phone about everything that happened.

At about 4:30am I started calling hotels. But see… you don’t check into a hotel room at 5am with no notice… you have to pay for that night, so technically speaking I was needing two nights! I was getting tired and wanted to get out of the airport. I called several hotels nearby, explained my situation and none of them had open rooms or would let me check in that early.

So, I picked a hotel… and I just booked for the next night knowing that I had about 10 hours before I “technically” was supposed to check in. After I booked and paid for the room I got the airport shuttle to the hotel and showed up at the front desk.

I told the guy at the front desk, “I know I’m not supposed to check in this early but I just had to get out of the airport. I am happy to hang out in the lobby here and wait for a room to open up if something becomes available before my check in time.”

He replied, “Don’t tell anyone… but we have a room with a King size bed on the 8th floor open, here ya go.” And he handed me a room key, right then and there – at 5:30am! I swear he was an angel sent from above. I almost started crying!

“Wow. Thank you so much. You have no idea how thankful I am. This is the first thing that’s gone right in the last 2 days!” is what I said back.

In the midst of my distress, my agonizing to be home with my family, my exhaustion and loneliness, God gave me a nice big hotel room on the 8th floor with a view of the Bay for the price of 1 night that I got to check into 10 hours early.

I burst into tears just weeping and praising God for his provision in taking care of me. I felt humiliated that I had been so distraught and upset over the turn of events and I hadn’t been resting in God’s sovereignty the way I should have. I will never forget that moment I cuddled into the waffle robe after taking a hot shower and sank into that delicious bed thinking how undeserved I was of that gift, thinking how God orchestrated all of it just to take care of me.

I slept like a rock and went to bed around 6 in the morning. I woke up around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I was still tired and felt like I could sleep more. However, I knew this was an opportunity to see a little bit of San Francisco while I was there. So I got ready and took a Lyft ride to the city.

The next few hours were so fun and exciting. My Lyft drivers were all very friendly and informative. The architecture and sights of the city and the bay were stunning. I got to see the Golden Gate Bridge, a beautiful Cathedral, and have a virtual guided tour of the Fairmont Hotel! (Also, huge thank you to my cousin who unknowingly became another instrument and blessing of God’s provision for me that day!) It was a joy to get a short but sweet taste of life and culture and the beauty of San Francisco.

After sleeping that night for only like 2 hours (jet lagged maybe?) I headed back to the airport… again like 4 hours early (when nothing was open yet! Anxious much!?) and awaited my second (or was it third?) chance to get home. It was Sunday morning, Mother’s Day. I was the first person to get checked in at the airline gate and the last one to get on the plane. But I did get on that plane. The airline agent chuckled at me as he recognized me from checking in at 4:00am sharp and then I saw him wave a friendly goodbye to me as I sat in my window seat.

The flight was okay. I tried to sleep but it was hard to get comfortable. But when that plane landed I felt so much relief and couldn’t wait to see Nick and the kids. I got to see Nick first as he met me at the airport. Then we went to my parents house where we reunited with the kids. We hugged, I cried, and we talked and then we napped. Then we went home.

God certainly grew my faith in some unexpected ways during this trip. What was supposed to be a fun, relaxing memory ended up being much more. Even though it was rough to experience and I hope nothing like that ever happens again, there was beauty in the chaos and God showed up so many times.

My friend’s HG Story

If you missed the blog post over at RMMB, please follow the link below.

Not Just In Our Head: Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness

I felt Alicia’s story needed to be shared and she’s been wanting to share it too. She regularly posts updates on her facebook about HG awareness and updates about her daughter who is needing some pretty intense ongoing medical care. It was on honor to write the above linked blog post with her!

I want to share the link to her GoFundMe page as well. It would bless them greatly to receive financial gifts during this challenging time as well as your prayers for God’s sustaining grace in their lives!

https://www.gofundme.com/addisons-adventures?fbclid=IwAR1Fqy4TvMuHmno2t9nCOxwyHKfY9yBqJ773Dikw5YqSglcShdVXJsDeKao

‘God Sightings’ Amidst Travel Drama: Part 1

As I re-read my last blog post I now feel even more convicted about what happened during my trip (not so much during actually, more just the travel days). I was preachin’ to my own choir. Most of my problems on this adventure were still quite small in the grand scope of things but it still was a test of faith. I didn’t do so hot. But God sure showed up! Let me tell you what He did.

At first, everything seemed great. My flight out of Minneapolis was smooth as butter and I enjoyed flying over mountains and valleys and desserts on my way to L.A. for a connecting flight. But then in the LA airport I stood in line for a coffee MUCH longer than I should have and barely had time to fill my water bottle up to get on the next flight. The flight to Honolulu was longer and there was more turbulence than I’ve felt before. It wasn’t overly dramatic or scary turbulence but it was there and it lasted a good hour! I hadn’t really eaten any real food (other than the peanut butter bars I packed) and after drinking all my coffee and all my water I developed a headache. It was probably a tension headache from turbulence and I was also dehydrated and hungry. I started feeling kind of sick and I’ve never felt sick on a plane before.

Finally, the flight landed. I had a splitting, throbbing headache and felt nauseous. I was so antsy to get out of the airport though that I didn’t even stop for water or for a bathroom break. I just went straight to my rental car and then I had to find my sister and pick her up. She was waiting for me at a nearby terminal parking lot but as I circled the unfamiliar airport my GPS map and the road signs had me turned around and I ended up leaving the airport. I had to drive 5 miles down the freeway to turn back around and drive back to the airport to pick up my sister!

We drove about 30 minutes to the North side of Oahu where she rented an Airbnb. Not only was this Airbnb hard to locate and find the entrance for, but 2 dogs bolted out of the gate and ran away (which we later found out was “normal”) and then we found RAT POOP all over the smelly, musty rental house.

Nope.

Then we drove around for a long time, got food, went to some cafes and shops trying to kill time as we figured out what to do next.

Airbnb provided a full refund plus an extra $40 for the hassle. THEN, my sister found and booked a replacement Airbnb that turned out to have the dreamiest lanai I could have ever imagined. This was the first big God sighting.

Despite the chaos of the travel day I actually wasn’t nearly as crabby or ill-tempered I would typically be. I had to go with the flow and I couldn’t stress too much because most of it was totally out of my control. God ended up providing a sweet place to stay that was well worth the hassle.

Sadly, I must have gotten a cold from the airport because after that day I felt just a little bit under the weather for the remainder of the trip. But I didn’t want to let that prevent me from experiencing the week like I would if I was totally healthy.

The rest of our time was pretty awesome, despite my cold. We went to a few different beaches, went out to eat several times, relaxed on the lanai, completed a crazy jungle waterfall hike, saw some pretty botanical gardens and visited Pearl Harbor Memorial. In fact, please enjoy my Vlog of the trip too for all the fun stuff! The second video below is my sister’s vlog. I figured I would link both since they are both fun and have some differing perspectives.

When it was time to go home, unfortunately, I arrived to the airport later than I should have. To my defense, I arrived to the airport with about as much time as I gave myself at the MSP airport and other airports that I’ve been to! However, I was woefully unprepared for the chaos and disorder that was the Honolulu Hawaiian Airlines Lobby. Lines were out the door. I stood in the wrong line TWICE. There were not nearly enough airline staff to direct the masses and help all the confused people. And I was not the only one confused either, several others around me seemed just as disoriented. Finally though, I was checked in with my boarding pass (even though I was checked in at the same time as the boarding time) and I still had to go through TSA.

One staff member tried to rush me through the line but it took a while… if you ask me, there was a little too much “laid back” Hawaiian chill among the airport employees there. The security at TSA reassured me though that I was checked in and the airline knew I was coming so they would hold the plane.

I ran to my gate… which was clear to the other end of the airport! I was sweating and developed blisters on my feet. When I finally reached the empty gate I blurted out to the agent “did I miss it?” and she sighed and said, “…yeah…”
“But TSA told me you would hold the plane!” I shouted.
“Yeah…they’re not supposed to say things like that…” she replied.

What happened next was a little embarrassing. I kind of flipped out. My emotions were all over the place and if I can put it poetically at all I suppose I would use Anne’s words and say I was “in the depths of despair”.

If you want to find out what happens next stay tuned for my next blog post and I’ll share even more God sightings from my crazy travel experience!

God Sightings is a term recently coined by our pastor to encourage us to share testimonies of how God shows up in our lives; kind of like a God moment. So, with this spiritual exercise going it is only fitting that I use this great term.