This month has five Sundays, which means this week’s Self-Care Sunday will focus on art. And freedom.

Sheds, Crackers, and Art

As a teacher, I have the freedom for eight weeks to go on adventures—at times, academic, at other times artistic or physical. Part of my summer vacation adventure this year includes spending time with the entire family—including my parents.

By Friday of last week, everyone had arrived in Wasilla, and our artistic adventure could begin. The adventure? Build a one-car garage for Laura and Louis. Their new home didn’t include a garage, but in Alaska, one needs a dry place to store bicycles, tools, and other valuables.

At first, I didn’t think of garage building as an artistic endeavor. But I’ve changed my mind as I’ve watched the men work. First of all, they had to design it. Pedro had a vision of the shape, Louis had a vision for the function he needed, and my dad, as the most experienced builder, had the vision to make it all work. They each bring different skills to the table, and their art embodies a collaborative effort. Abel provides the comic relief.

While the men build, the women wrangle the toddler, photograph and videotape the project, plant a garden, and bake. All of those require art as well. Especially the toddler wrangling.

I’ve played endless games of ‘Vroom, Vroom’ (providing the sound effects and bouncing of a parked quad), ‘Measuring Tape’ (pulling out a measuring tape and measuring things), and ‘Suitcase’ (we each push a suitcase around the house and hide from each other). Laura has planted a late-season garden and beautiful flowers in her new flowerbeds. Mor mor (aka my mom) keeps the cookie jar filled with cookies and homemade whole-wheat crackers. Abel ‘helps’ wherever he can.

All four generations use their creativity for the benefit of the others.

The Definition of Art Might Surprise You

I used to think that an artistic person had to draw or paint well. Maybe I should have looked the word up in my dictionary. You see, I convinced myself that since I couldn’t draw, I couldn’t do art.

Webster’s defines art, first of all, as ‘skill acquired by experience, study, or observation.’ Not until the fourth definition of the word does the dictionary introduce the concept of ‘the conscious use of skill and creative imagination.’ In other words, art doesn’t require creativity, but it can include it.

Webster’s doesn’t clarify whether or not that ‘skill acquired’ works best when combined with a creative interest in the skill being acquired. But I can’t imagine someone acquiring great skill at watercolor painting without a natural interest in creating with watercolors. And not everyone who learns to paint with watercolors will achieve greatness.

But I think the point of creativity and acquiring art has more to do with nurturing our need for artistic expression. As created beings, we have a built-in desire to create—whether it’s a masterpiece in the kitchen, the sewing room, or the boardroom.

As fallen human beings, we also struggle with purpose and let our emotions get all tangled up in the conflict of gender roles.

So, what About Gender Roles?

Find out how to enjoy the art of building and baking (and, yes, those are art forms!). #art #creativity #recipeI struggled with this as a younger woman. The term ‘women’s work’ (especially when uttered by a misogynistic man) worked like Pavlov’s bell on my temper. Now, I understand that work is simply work.

Whoever has the talent and skill is probably best suited to perform it. Pedro cooks breakfast because he makes the best pancakes and waffles. I’ve had to make pancakes three times this summer, and they still haven’t turned out ‘right.’ I cook dinner because I make the best entrées.

Although Pedro knows how to sew, he doesn’t have the patience for big projects like quilts, costumes, or wedding dresses. Likewise, although I know how to change the oil filter in our vehicles, I don’t have the patience for getting dirty and messing with engine things. If he loved to sew and design clothing, then we’d share the sewing machines. And if I loved motors, we’d hang out in the garage together.

I feel fulfilled when I create new recipes for dinner or create things with my sewing machine. Pedro feels fulfilled when he makes tasty new muffin combinations or successfully fixes a vehicle. As far as the quotidian tasks like laundry, mowing the lawn, or scrubbing talents go, well, since neither or us particularly likes those, we split them up according to who has time.

We do art for each other and reap the benefits of each other’s talents. The role of each gender is to serve the other—because God made us for service, as well.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 NLT

Enjoy Your Creations and Creativity!

Most of all, remember to take pride in your art—those talents and creative bents that God knit into your genetic make-up. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of a job well-done because someone has disparaged the activity.

You don’t work for men, you work for God. When you work for him, using the talents he has given you, all you do will be a work of art. And there’s freedom in art.

You don't work for men, you work for God. And when you use your talents for him, everything you do will be a work of art. #art #creativity Click To Tweet

Here’s my mom’s creative cracker recipe—Abel loved helping her roll them out.

Mor mor’s Whole-Wheat Oat Crackers

By Evelyn Strawn
Preheat oven to 340˚
Yields about 48 crackers

2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups oat flour OR 3 cups of rolled oats
1 ¾ teaspoons of salt
2 cups dates (we use the date pieces found in the bulk section at the grocery store)
2/3 cup oil
3 Tbs. honey

2/3-1 cup of water

Optional add-ins
½ cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup coconut flakes
2/3 cups ground nuts (your choice—try pecans, walnuts, cashews, or almonds)

Put all ingredients into a food processor or a mixer with a dough hook. Add 2/3 cup of water and mix. If the dough seems dry, continue adding the other 1/3 cup of water. The dough should be about like pie crust dough—smooth, but not sticky.

Divide the dough into two balls and roll them out in two cookie sheets. Cut the dough into about 24 cracker rectangles (use a bread knife) and bake one sheet at a time for 18-20 minutes. The edges of the crackers should pull away from each other and the tops and bottoms should look a little brown.

Remove from oven and transfer to a cookie sheet. Once they’ve cooled, store in an airtight bag or container. I have no idea how long one can store these, because with a crowd of seven, the batch disappears in 36 hours.

Try this healthy (er) whole-wheat cracker recipe! #cracker #wholewheat #recipe Click To Tweet

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  1. I really enjoyed your post Anita, how lovely that four generations came together to give each other artistic gifts of provision & inspiration!

    I haven’t viewed arts from this perception, so thank you for that inspiration!
    Feel free to drop in for a cuppa, 😀

  2. I loved getting this glimpse into your Alaska vacation. Praising God you had fun! And I have learned over the years that art is much more than painting and drawing. Your words are always beautiful art.

  3. I enjoyed this! I used to think either people were creative, or they weren’t. It was a light bulb moment for me when I realized we’re all creative, just in different ways. I used to do church bulletin boards with a lady who insisted she wasn’t an idea person, but she could help put up a board if someone else would tell her what to do. Yet when we worked together, she came up with lots of ideas during the process. One of my best friends is a whiz at flower arranging (even had her own flirst’s business for a while) and simple but neat ideas for meals. But cross stitch, something I loved, was something she just couldn’t seem to get. God created us with different gifts, and I love to see how He works them out in different people’s lives. to
    Barbara Harper recently posted…Psalms for the SleeplessMy Profile

  4. I can relate to the pancake thing. Mine almost always turn out gooey inside. Actually my kids think that is how they should be and love them that way! ha! Thankfully my daughter is a better cook. She makes delicious pancakes!

  5. That cracker recipe sounds delicious! I’ll have to try that soon. Blessings to you, Anita! I’m your neighbor at #TellHisStory.

  6. Fantastic article, Anita. In this season of my life, though, with Joe and me each having disabilities to work through and around, this line did it for me: “Whoever has the talent and skill is probably best suited to perform it.”

    Good stuff!

  7. I guess I should be reading Webster’s to find out more definitions too. Who knew that art is a skill acquired by experience, study, or observation.

    It’s also good to read about gender roles. Growing up in a house of all brothers our roles were defined clearly by male and female. It’s nice to know that it doesn’t always need to be that way. Sounds like your summer has been fun. I know spending time with family is one of my favorite things.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Women Are Like ThatMy Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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