Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back, looking ahead

As I look back over 2012, I can't overlook how my year began. I spent New Years Eve burying one of my friends. I was early in the first trimester of pregnancy and not ready to tell anyone. I was sad but hopeful about the year and felt the need to hold tight to my friends and family.

Since then our family has grown and I am the proud mother of two kiddos. My spunky and creative little 2.5 yr old girl and my sweet smiling bouncing 4 month baby boy.

My husband and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary and together re-energized our marriage. His upcoming deployment helped us to not sweat the small stuff.

My mother has been living with us and that has provided a much needed time to reconnect with her. I am getting to know the woman not just my Mama and in turn, she is seeing me as a mother. It's all very surreal.

This new year is going to be a challenge full of surprises, but I am so thankful for another year, actually for another day to share with my family and friends.

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. (Ecclesiastes 11:5 NLT)

Be blessed and have a very happy holiday,
Kristye

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Friday, November 30, 2012

The whole world in his hands


 Do you remember that song "He's got the whole world in his hands"? I used to love that song! This morning before daycare my KJ awoke to an extra Christmas tree. We decided to put up two since this house is so large. This one is the "gold" tree. It has mostly gold decorations with a few red blubs and snow flakes. KJ likes the little red ones and was excited to add her own blubs to the tree.

Watching her hold that little bulb made me think of the song. We have so much in our control day to day. Even with those things that are out of our control, we can choose how we deal with them. This month has continued to be a roller coaster for our family. My husbands deployment was initially cancelled. Then it was turned back on. Then, his training for the second deployment was cancelled and discussion of another cancellation was being discussed. Then on Wednesday of this week, we find out he has offical orders and he will be leaving in a couple of days and will be gone for 7 months.

It's what he signed up for, I am very proud of his service to our country. We are about to seriously earn our stripes. I feel like I have the whole world in my hands right now. My KJ is a Daddy's little girl. I will do my best to give her special attention, like her Papa. Little Mark, will be four months old next week and so he doesn't have any idea about what's going on. I have gone back to a scheduled freelance job and LM is going to start daycare on Monday.

My mother just found out that one of her brother-in-laws passed away and she will be planning a trip home soon. I think we could have better news this Christmas all around. But, I am still blessed to have God's grace and favor on our family. I am thankful of the extra time I had with my husband. I am grateful for the time I spent with church family for Thanksgiving. I am hopeful that my family will all be together again very soon.

I have been prepping my office for some new artwork. I am so excited to have a place to paint again. I have a great sun room with sun coming in on three sides and tons of storage space. I have unearthed a huge stack of doodles and sketches. I am planning on doing a doodle a day. I may not post them everyday, but I am going to share them eventually.

I am prayerful that during this time of new challenges and loss, that I can maintain joy on the hard days and praise God for his wonders. He really does have the whole world in his hands.

Be blessed,
Kristye
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Laugh out loud

Soul Stirring © Kristye Addison Dudley


Have you ever been in a situation where you had to decide weather to laugh or cry? This month has been full of them. Highs and lows, tears and laughter have filled our home.

The most important event that happened this month was Mark's deployment was cancelled. Of course I cried! I was so happy to know that he would be home with our family. He came home from training with the great news. Then there was looming dread of when he would be called up. Funny how the mind works.

In other news KJ, our 2.5 year old, is officially potty trained! We went full tilt on training during a three day weekend and she is in panties! Lots of laughter and potty dances for that one. My baby is growing up (tiny tears).

My mother is doing well, some days are easier than others but for 80 she's pretty amazing! Watching her chase a half naked 2 year old to the potty, was pretty funny. Realizing that she can't do everything she used to do is difficult. I remember when she was lighting fast, I couldn't keep up with her. But she can still walk 3 miles and hold a baby all day long! Smile.

Lil Mark is as cute and as sweet as he can be. He is 3 months old and is cooing up some great conversations. He was not sleeping through the night, which was really making me want to cry. But last night was a GREAT night. Everyone got sleep and both my kids woke up with smiles.

I even actually laughed out laud this morning. I was making up dances in the kitchen! Something I used to do daily. The reality is that there are more things to be happy for than sad about. Mark's deployment maybe back on for January, but I am enjoying having him here now.

As I look at the destruction of the storm Sandy, the recurring theme is people are remembering what is important. Not homes and material things, but their friends and families I am so blessed and thankful I just want to LOL and praise God. A friend posted this on Facebook this week and it was right on time.

Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done. (1 Chronicles 16:8 NLT)

Be blessed,
Kristye

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Little works of art


Painting by KJ
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13 KJV)
As you know I am now the mother of two kiddos! It's pretty awesome. KJ loves her little brother and Lil Mark can't get enough of her. Today she got him to make his first smile.

My husband is away for two weeks training and once again, I am so thankful for my mother being here to help out. I am also grateful that I have the flexibility to help her with whatever she may need too.

I have to admit that I have used Disney Junior on TV to help me keep KJ occupied. I tell myself, she's learning. And she does pick up some educational tools, but really it gives me some time to make dinner or other chores. So I am on a mission to find other, more engaging things, more artful things. She is liking the change and so am I. Her latest finger painting master piece is above. I am so proud.
Now every time she sees a brush she says she wants to paint. I love that!

My other little work of art, Lil Mark, is just the sweetest baby, except when he's hungry. Then his head starts to spin and he makes his demands known.

Big Mark will be leaving for a 6month deployment in October and I am trying to keep my sanity. The best way to do that is with art. I am hoping that my little works of art inspire more creative work for me in the coming months.

So far all my projects have been deployment related (Count down calendars, count down jelly bean jar, map of the world to show where daddy will be, Daddy dolls with daddy's voice inside and pre-deployment family portraits).

I will keep you posted on my progress. First on my list, cleaning out/setting up my studio!

Thank you for all the prayers. Love and blessings,
Kristye

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Mother's joy

John 16:21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

I've been a pretty busy lady this month. On August 6, I delivered a 7lb 3 oz, 21 in long bouncing baby boy. He has tons if nicknames, but MJ is my favorite.

This pregnancy, delivery and postpartum period have been full of highs and lows. MJ was born with the umbilical cord around his neck and we waited what seemed like forever to hear his first cry. I went through my own challenges, delivery is hard enough, but breastfeeding, recovery, and pneumonia all at the same time was really tough.

Luckily, my husband was there to be my support. I don't know what I would do without him. Big sister is doing great. She gives baby brother lots of love and kisses and is a major big helper.

My mother has continued to have some health issues, but still came to help me with the kids during my husbands deployment.

She was in the hospital on a Friday and was on a plane the next morning to see about my family. We both admitted, God has a funny sense of humor. For the first 3 days she was here, we were rehabilitating her. She said "I thought I was coming to help you", it seems we are here to help each other!

A mother and child have a bond that can't be explained. I pray that this time with my mother brings her as much joy as I have with my children. I am so grateful for the unconditional love of moms.

Be blessed,
Kristye

Thursday, July 12, 2012

One day at a time




Family photo of my husband and KJ our babymoon in June.


So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9 NLT)

Ok so I am 35 weeks prego and I am ready to hold this little guy (or baby Jedi as my husband likes to call him) in my arms. On July 10th, I was blessed to turn 39 years old. Yeah I know, we aren't supposed to say our ages these days, but I feel very blessed to be one of the people who lived to see another day, month, and year of this life.

Was this year perfect? Not by any means. Was this year full of memories, laughter, tears and growth? Yep and for all of the things I don't want to experience again, I am so fortunate to have lived through them with my family and friends.

Well this next year is full of milestones and I am only in day one! My son is due any day now. Really!!! Last night I started having "light" contractions for about 2-3 hours straight, all while junior kicked me like Bruce Lee. It hurt like the dickens, but nothing like the real thing. I am pretty sure they were stress induced so today I took it easy.

I shouldn't be stressed, but the control freak in me is fighting to get out. I can only keep her down in short bursts lately. I can use all the prayers I can get so here's my prayer list. Yes, I have a list for everything (one of my control issues is to have lists).

  1. Pray for fewer lists and allowing others to help me (without my overbearing help)
  2. Allow me to live in the moment in this pregnant form and not try to do things that I just can't do (clean every room in this big old house, carry things that are too heavy, and other ideas that grow out of impatience for those who are here to help me)
  3. Protect me from negative thoughts surrounding my husbands 6 month deployment over seas two months after our son is born
  4. Give me strength to honor my mother and give her hope as she comes to stay with me and the kids for 8 months
  5. Pray for peace and endurance for a safe and healthy delivery
  6. Help me to become a nurturing mother of two! No pity parties for mommy. (even on my worst day love them to pieces)

So yeah I've got a good bit going on. Trying to get the baby room together, mom's room together, give my 2 year old KJ lots of attention (sprucing up her room too), planing for her pre-school needs, helping her to adjust to all these coming changes and be a loving supportive (non-nagging, honey-do list making) wife. I am kind of spent and lately feeling like I can't do it all. But hey, maybe if I take it one day at a time, it will all be a blur and in another year full of beautiful memories before I know it.

I could have worse problems for sure. I have a husband that I love and will miss dearly. I live comfortably in a very lived-in non-show-home that's somehow still full of life. I have a mother who will drop everything to come and help me. I have a smart, sassy 2 year old that is happy and healthy. I have a little miracle of life inside me. Trying to keep all those lovely plates in the air does take work, so thanks for all your support and let's take it easy!

Be blessed,
Kristye

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Treasures


High tide by Kristye Addison Dudley

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matthew 6:21 NLT)


This was my scripture reading this morning and it made me think, what do I treasure?

I remember when I got my first job, I was driven by my career, buying my first car, owning my first home, and looking the part of a successful put-together gal. I used to regularly get my hair, nails and eyebrows done. I shopped like it was a part-time job.

Then one day I decided that I didn't want to spend anymore of my time in a salon. So I cut off my hair (really all of my hair). Then slowly but surely, I began to distance myself from the material things and "some" of the vanity.

Now I get my nails and eyebrows done on special occasions. The cars and properties have come and gone and come again and represent more of a necessity than before.

During our vacation I had one opportunity to reflect on the trip in pen and watercolor. I sketched KJ picking shells on the beach, the view from our balcony and the beach at high tide. It made me really focus on the beauty around me especially when all I could see was the vast ocean.

But what is it that I treasure? My family, my husband and my children are my treasures, but isn't there something missing?

When God isn't the first thing I treasure, the other things just don't shine as bright. I can't appreciate my family, or even this little life that I am carrying around. The smallest thing can distract me from my joy and past hurts creep to the surface like fresh wounds. When I am not focused on him things are just out of whack. I am so thankful for that scripture this morning, to remind me what's truly important.

What is it that you treasure?


Be blessed,
Kristye
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Earth Has Weight

 The Earth has Weight by Kristye Addison Dudley

I am so blessed to be able to celebrate my mother and my own motherhood (I am now 7 months prego with a baby boy and KJ turned two in April). Mom is a little woman, full of life and spunk. I think I look a little more like her everyday. She says what's on her mind and is so proud of her 4 children and 5.5 grands, you would think she worked in public relations. I had to learn early on to not be embarrassed at her announcements of family achievements to anyone in earshot. And I learned to share her with the world and I am so proud of her ability to have unlimited love to give.

I thought I would take some time out and share a little about my mother. Last year, she became ill and went to live with my sister in Charlotte, NC. (I can't thank my sister enough for her nurturing spirit). My mother left her home, her church, her friends, her post office and her routine to recover and get back on her feet.

This month it's been 8 months that she has been away from home. She is stronger and back to her self again. While she was away, however, her community back home was missing her and wanted to let her know how much she meant to them.

So a few weekends ago, I flew back to South Carolina to surprise my mother at a benefit in her honor. It was more than my siblings and I could have hoped for. The extended family that came to celebrate her made my heart melt. And my mother was truly surprised and grateful for the show of support and love. We so often give flowers when it's too late, I am so thankful that my mother was able to enjoy her flowers while she is still here.

I can't tell you everything, but here is a bit about my mother:

She loves education. She's a proud alumni of Claflin University and received advanced degrees from UNT and Northwestern. She also is a retired teacher, who taught Physical Ed to college women and taught English at a community college.

She loves the Lord and has been active in the United Methodist Church her entire life. My grandfather was a UMC pastor and she has served the church in more positions than I can name. She was the first Black woman to serve on the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, and did it for two terms.

But she is no stranger to firsts. She helped charter the undergraduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the oldest African American Sorority, at Clemson University. Which became my alma mater and the chapter in which one of my sisters and myself became members. My oldest sister joined at Florida State University and many of my family members are also my sisters. My mother has also celebrated her Golden anniversary, 50 years of membership.

She even was integral in helping my oldest sister find her passion in dance. When a local dance studio would not accept African American students, my mother encouraged one of the teachers to start her own school. My sister took classes there and went on to become a dance major in college, to study at Alvin Ailey school of dance in NYC, to dance off broadway and around the world. She is still dancing to this day.


Of all the things that my mother has taught me, a recurring theme is, If something needs to get done, do it. She has never broken a promise to me or anyone that she has met.

She does carry the weight of the world sometimes, like the painting depicts, but she always does it with nurturing care. I do hope this next chapter of her life brings back that determined spirit that makes her like no one else. It makes her my Mamma, or Mrs. Rubielee (yes that is one word).

Mom I love you, and I hope I can show my children how to live an unselfish and giving life like you have shown me. And maybe I can teach you how to really smell the roses. That's the trait I get from my father and since his passing, it's time I help her remember. She will be coming to Louisiana to help me when my little guy is born and I can't wait to show her the honeysuckle bush outside our home (not roses, but just as sweet).




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Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Working Mother's Revelation

Revelations I © Kristye Addison Dudley
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On the news today, I heard a really sad comment. It was about the divide between working mothers and stay at home mothers. I have to admit, there have been days when I have been working and felt so guilty about KJ being in daycare that I wanted to cry. This year I even took steps to make my work schedule more flexible and add more variety so that I can spend more time focusing on my family.

There have been days when I went to lunch and saw mothers out with their young children and envied the time that they spent together. Then there are those days, where my work is so fulfilling that I know if KJ were with me, I could not give her the time and attention she deserved. And then there is that awesome time of the day, when I go and pick her up from daycare and she sees me and smiles. She drops whatever she is doing and runs to me saying "Momma!" And I am reassured that all is well.

The truth of the matter is, all mothers are working mothers. If you work inside or outside of the home each day has it's challenges and it's joys. Finding the balance in either lifestyle is hard and I applaud all mothers today. Let's take some time before this mother's day to really appreciate the hard working women around us and stop judging each other.

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2
Be blessed,
Kristye


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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting

"The Earth Has Weight" © Kristye Addison Dudley
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Hello, it's been a while since I have blogged. I have been busy with life! Well, busy growing one. I am 17 weeks pregnant with our second child and it's a little boy.

I was really sick and exhausted for the first trimester and I just focused on getting through it. Now I am feeling better and my body is having flashbacks of when I was pregnant with my little girl. KJ will be 2 next month and it's all sort of blowing my mind.

We are also planning to move into a rental house here in Louisiana. I am really excited about it. Last year we almost closed on a home here, but once again, God had other plans.

We found peace and contentment where we were and waited until the time was right. Well the time is now. And we will be moving into a larger and even cooler place. It's a restored 1930s home, with lots of great sunlight, parks in walking distance and a huge attic that will become my studio. And when it's time to make our next move, we can just move. No selling, or rental properties to concern our selves with. Whew, I can't tell you how good that feels.

Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! (Psalm 27:14 NKJV)

So we are truly learning to wait. I am 38 years old and I waited for Mr. Right. I waited until I was at "high risk" maternal age to have children (biggest plus - the extra ultrasound pictures). And I am waiting to see how God will continue to move in our lives. It seems like waiting is one of the hardest things to do, but God is watching to see how we wait. Are we anxious? Are we content? Are we lazy? Are we disciplined? I have been pretty inconsistent with my waiting patterns. Somewhere between a pacing pattern (when I am too in my head) or a waltz (when I hand my problems over). I do like to dance, so I am working on my waltz right now.

I know in my heart that there is a plan for me and my family. I can see it and I am just waiting for all the pieces to come together. The painting above "The Earth Has Weight" is one of my favorite tribal style paintings based upon Adrinka symbols. One more thing I am gladly waiting on is to hold my baby boy.

Are you waiting on anything?

Be blessed,
Kristye

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Donate for my friend Keasha https://cualumni.clemson.edu/remember/keasha

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Greatest Love

So, like many of you I was touched by the music of Whitney Houston. The picture below is me in high school, sporting one of my many WH inspired hairstyles. Her passing is really so sad. But, I think the saddest part is that she had a gift that can not be replicated.

But the true greatest gift of all, is that we all have been given some gift. And we either use it or lose it.

Just last weekend, my family and friends were debating the best Super bowl national anthem. I said Whitney Houston. Not knowing that by that time the following week, she would physically be gone.

But a part of her was lost long before her passing. When her gift became second to her demons, she lost some of her spark. Have you ever had a time in your life were you could see your path clearly and then became so distracted that it took you a while to find your way again?

I think that happens to us all. Are you using your God given gifts?

Be blessed and Whitney RIP,
Kristye

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Praise and pride

"My perspective, your perspective" (Detail of diptych) © Kristye Addison Dudley


January is almost over and I have only blogged once. I have got to get back to it! Well, here's an update. A memorial fund has been set up for Keasha, here is the link Keasha Rutlegde Draft Memorial. And I still can't believe that the new year started off with such a huge loss. I love you girl.

On the home front, my 22 month old is settling in to all-things-toddler and keeping me and my husband very busy. My husband and I have been making plans on my career change and recently found that "our" best laid plans had some flaws. That's probably because, our plan veered slightly off of God's plan. The painting above has a partner that is right side up. It's always reminded me of how different a situation can appear from your point of view. Sometimes you need a new perspective. And I thank God for that.

"Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. (Matthew 7:24-26 NLT)"

Luckily, we were given some timely advice and were blessed to awake to a new day. So all is not lost, there's just more work to do. It's time to put God's plan back in place and get busy doing his work.

I am really enjoying my new teaching position. It is so fulfilling to see a young person get excited about art. I remember when people questioned my early childhood development. It took me going through a screening program with a therapist to find out, "Kristye can read...She would just rather draw".

I hope that each of you are seeking God's plan in your life and remember that even if we stray he still keeps us near.

Be blessed,
Kristye

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thy Will Be Done

Thy Will Be Done - Acrylic on Canvas © Kristye Addison Dudley
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It's been an interesting start to the year. I have been asked numerous times "How was your holiday?" I know that people are asking out of routine, because usually the response is "It was great. How was yours?" Then we fall in line with the dance of sharing all the good things that happened.

I have had a harder time staying in step with this dance this year. The response "We went to a funeral for one of my college friends." Is not what people really want to know and I try not to over share. But that is the truth. We had a great Christmas eve. We spent it surrounded by our close friends. We had a great Christmas Day. We enjoyed a church service and spent the afternoon opening gifts and hanging out eating left overs from the night before. The next couple of days were just as lazy, until I received the call that changed the tempo for New Years.

We drove from Louisiana to South Carolina to celebrate the life of my girlfriend. It was a weekend full of tears and laughter. I was able to see all of my siblings and my mother. Mark was able to see all of this siblings except one and his mother too. My sorority sisters and I fell back into our old college roles. We were busy making plans and organizing, while all the while enjoying each others company. It was a time to reflect on the past and think about the future. It was a wonderful weekend of love and peace but there were times however, it was all I could do to not break down and cry at the thought of not seeing Keasha as I knew her.

So I would pray, I would take a deep breath and pray. I would pray about my family, I would pray about her family, I would give thanks for life, and I would ask for guidance.

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9-10

"Thy will be done", is such a powerful statement. Giving over our will to God's and letting him have his way with us, sounds so good in theory, but it is his will that gives us peace. This is going to be an awesome year. Tonight my 20 month old daughter, KJ, started Mom and Tot gymnastics. Heaven help me, it was like trying to herd kittens. I am so grateful for tylenol. Next week my latest adventure begins as an art teacher. I can't wait to see what my students will teach me. I can't wait to teach them about the boundless world of art. I hope it touches their lives as it has shaped mine.

I pray that God's will continues to move in my life and direct my path. I pray he does the same for you.


Be blessed,
Kristye

*Part of the proceeds from my artwork will go to the American Cancer Society to help find a cure.

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