When Your Art Feels “Ridiculous”

The other day Jesse came up to me with a solemn expression and made this confession:

“Mom, sometimes when I’m in the bathroom by myself, I make up little songs but then I say ‘That’s ridiculous!’ to myself. And I stop.”

Because this boy lives in a home that values creativity and celebrates all artistic expression, I cannot fathom where this critical response to his song-making came from unless it is the very enemy of his soul sowing lies in order to halt the progress of a would-be worshiper.

Though I was in the middle of cooking supper, I felt this was a crucial moment in my boy’s life, and the Lord prompted me to squat down and get eye level straight with him and take the time to root out these lies and replace them with some deep truths I’ve learned about art.

How even if your art is not ‘perfect’, the effort is a worthy act.

How we must practice our art, and even the clumsy beginnings are important.

I asked him if he thought his favorite Go Fish Guys wrote perfect songs when they were seven?

I asked him if it was ‘ridiculous’ for Lydia to reach for her toys, when her hand eye coordination is so imperfect?

And then (because words of affirmation are my love language and I was bursting with love for this little boy and because I’d gotten on a roll) I told him that I think he’s got talent in this area. I reminded him of how delightful his Chick-fil-a theme song was that he had composed that very afternoon. And I informed him that he has been writing songs since he was three and a half.

when your art feels ridiculous {a conversation with a seven year old songwriter)

I went to find his journal and we spent the next half hour in fits of giggles over the funny things he said and did when he was a young boy and finally I found the page where I’d recorded his first song.

“Just 10 days after he first learned to sing, Jesse composed his first song:

Me wish me be an angel
But me not have wings
Oh, goody, goody, goody
Me wish me be an angel
Or a princess
Oh goody goody goody
Me wish me be an angel today.”

His eyes were filled with wonder, a satisfying change from the shame and confusion I’d seen when he made his confusion earlier.

Oh, Lord, protect my boy from lies and fears that try to keep him from living his art and doing whatever it is that you made him to do!

To read about my little system for writing down the precious and hilarious things my kids say, you can visit this post published on Passionate Homemaking a few years ago. And if your art feels ridiculous, well, you need to read Emily Freeman’s book, A Million Little Ways. I’m still chewing on it, you can read the review I wrote of the book last fall.

Harvest Season (a pictoral update)

I have so few words this week. Mostly pictures. We are working like crazy to be good stewards of the bountiful fruit harvest God blessed us with this year.


The branches in the orchard are literally snapping under the weight of our largest harvest yet.


We’ve been blessed by friends willing to come labor with us, we could never do this without help!


Labor Day we pressed 73 gallons, and estimate that is only 1/4 of our apples!
(These gallons were for the freezer, thus the head space in the jugs)

Thanks to my dear friend, September, for the above photos and all their family’s help that day!


On days we’re not pressing, we are making sauce. It’s so fun to have two helpers in the kitchen this year, with Claire graduating to the kitchen crew.


Pears are also ripe, and even the littlest man was able to help pick our little dwarf tree clean.




Every meal contains apples! Here’s an oven pancake. We’ve also enjoyed pork chops with applesauce, and there’s a pie on the agenda today for a certain man’s birthday today! (Happy birthday, Jeremy!)


Jesse is my right hand in the kitchen anymore. Here he is cranking out yet another batch of applesauce.


Meanwhile, I was paring pears.


Tomorrow we’ll be pressing cider again. If you’re in the area, please feel free to stop in! I make a big pot of chilli for the helpers and everyone goes home with fresh (free!) cider! Email me if you need directions. We’d love to see you!

And if you’d like to follow the fun on instagram, I’m @trinaholden and am using the hashtag #holdensciderpress to share pictures of our vintage cider press in action!

Jesse’s First Pet {in which we make sourdough starter}

When I decided to make our new sourdough experiment Jesse’s responsibility, I told him it would be like having a pet: he would have to feed and water it night and day. It would be good practice for the dog he dreams of. He was all for it.


First he ground some flour. This is already one of his regular chores that he loves. In fact, it may be time to delegate this chore to a younger sibling–and I might not have to do the training. Jesse demonstrated the entire process to Seth this morning, letting him turn on the switch (which is always an exciting moment for a toddler)

(FYI fresh ground flour is not necessary to the sourdough process, it’s just what we have)


Then we mixed a little flour with a little water. I’m thinking this is awfully simple so far…

Jesse thought we needed to add more. I told him not to worry–it would grow!


I’m using the very easy to follow yet comprehensive instructions for starting your own sourdough in Wardeh’s Sourdough A-Z Ebook.


First step is just to mix and cover. We’ll check on the sourdough before bed tonight, and give it regular lovin’ for a week. At the end of that time we should have successfully captured our own wild yeast, and will be ready to experiment with the amazing variety of things you can make with sourdough (cake! tortillas! crepes! english muffins! pizza dough! Who knew?)

If you have been wishing to experiment with sourdough as badly as I have, this might be the time of year to start, when you’re inside a bit more and when a bowl of soup and a fresh slice of sourdough bread sounds oh-so-good.

Do you have any suggestions for what Jesse should name his new pet???

Tinsel, Truth, and a Real Live Manger {How the Kids are Celebrating Advent}

I’m in the mood to give y’all a glimpse of how we’re celebrating Christmas around here with a 2, 4, and 6 year old. Do you mind? Great…here we go.


Our new tradition this year is doing the Truth in the Tinsel Advent activity eBook. (affliate link–woot!) The kids adore their daily Christmas craft, and I appreciate something that reminds me to slow down and focus on the kids in an otherwise busy day. Here’s Claire painting a crown ornament that represents Christ’s kingship.


I’m delighted that the crafts are so simply even Seth has been able to be involved. He loves hanging his ornament on the tree each evening.


I’m also loving the maturity of my eldest, allowing us to do some more involved projects together. Here we trimmed the front bushes….


…and turned the trimmings into window wreaths. This is Jesse’s first wreath, people! He made three–I’m so proud.


More truth in the Tinsel crafts..this time they were making a Mary ornament. Can you tell Claire is delighted?


Claire drew Mary’s face herself!


And finally this year, we hung Christmas lights outside. It was sunny that day, so the kids bundled up and went out to help Daddy. Seth saw it as a wonderful opportunity to do some climbing!


Claire says, “I think he’s going to fall, so I am going to stand here to catch him!”

So helpful. Thank you, Claire.

I don’t have pictures yet of the lights actually on, because we still had to find some extension cords….


The other day, during Seth’s nap, I took the eldest outside for some wood crafting. (look! even their playhouse has lights!)


Everyone helped….


And we made this simple manner (tutorial here) out of some wood scraps. Now Claire can stop asking what a manger is every.single. time. we sing Away in a Manger!


And then Jeremy calls me from washing dinner dishes last night–”bring the camera!” There was a monkey in the manger! The tutorial warned me about how appealing the finished product was for two year olds….

I’m really loving how an advent countdown (anything that has us doing or reading something related to the Christmas story every day) keeps my kids focused on the true meaning of Christmas. I love this conversation between Jesse and Claire the other day….

Jesse: “Three weeks till Christmas!!!”
Claire: “It’s already Christmas!
Jesse: “No, Claire–it’s not Christmas yet!
Claire: “Yes it is! Today is Christmas!
Mommy: “Claire is right, Jess–we’re celebrating Christmas all month!”

I just loved this glimpse into how Claire views Christmas. This whole month is Christmas–the presents on the 25th are only a small part of the celebration in her mind. When you celebrate Christmas every day of December, your getting into a habit of Celebrating Christ every day, which could easily be carried into the New Year, dontcha think?

What do you do for advent? Do share–I’m already collecting ideas for next year!



Anyways, what IS the best feeling in the world?

His almost-6-year-old questions can be so random. And deep. Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I’m left breathless and with no answers. Sometimes his questions lead me to answers I’d forgotten

“Mom? Is dirt in the same f’lamily as sand?”

“Mom? Why do we call it ‘sewage’?

“Anyways, what IS the best feeling in the world?”

This last after Uncle Nathanael and I had agreed that the feeling of a coming thunderstorm was the best feeling in the world. Rain began to fall and the question was not one he was going to let go unanswered:

“Is it going to church or reading your’s Bible?”

I found myself instantly anxious to guide him to an answer beyond religion and duty. I quickly formed words which I then tried to let out slowly so he would–hopefully–sense the depth of conviction and truth behind them.

“Yes—yes…it can be those things—really, it’s anytime you are in the presence of God. The best feeling in the world is being with God.”

Do you have trouble living the answers you say you believe—like me? My friend Katie’s post was so encouraging to me this week, as I seek small moments to turn my heart toward my maker and that ‘best feeling in the world’.

Don’t under estimate how much time the Spirit needs to meet us – He waits only for us to want Him.”

read the rest from Katie @ NotUnredeemed.com

The Art of The Family Portrait

Family Photo Shoot
First, find a nice background and gather a few props. Insert human into frame to get the focus and settings right.

Summon more humans.

Family Photo Shoot
Encourage young humans to smile at small, flashing light…

…then wait, and wait, and wait for self timer to work…

Holden Family, May 2012
Jeremy, Trina, Jesse (5 1/2), Claire (3 1/2) and Seth (22 months)

While We Wait for Life to ‘Load’

I watch the blue, pixel stream surge along its banks as my email loads, and remember the days of dial up. Back then I’d set the computer to do a task and go off and busy myself so I didn’t waste precious moments waiting for the page to load. Sometimes it was 3 paragraphs in a book, or one shirt ironed, or a phone call made–I couldn’t stand to just sit there so I chose to fill those waiting moments.

A moment from last summer captured and celebrated

 This week I found myself wishing my life had a status window like my inbox. I’d like to see if I’m 74% of the way there, or have only progressed 13%. As if that would help the waiting. But waiting is waiting. And I was reminded this week to make the most of waiting.

I’m talking about ‘Living like there’s no tomorrow’ but that phrase is a bit cliched for me, not to mention overwhelming. Today let’s ask ourselves,

  • What if I lost internet connection tomorrow? How would I use this connection/platform/window today?
  • What if I was moving out of state next month? Who would I spend one more afternoon with, or what spot would I take my kids to one more time?
  • What if I sprained my wrist tomorrow? What would I create today?
  • What if my camera broke this afternoon? What would I capture this morning?
  • What if I got laryngitis tonight? What would I declare today?


When we’re waiting–

for something to change…

for a mountain to move…

or a life event to ‘upload’…

…we need maximize this moment! If I lost my chance to blog tomorrow, today I want to say to you–Dance in this moment, Sister!

What did you decide to do with your waiting moments after reading this post? Let’s inspire each other in the comments…

P.S If you subscribe by RSS or email, you may want to come by and see the updates we’ve made to the blog! I’ve filled my sidebar with a few of my favorite things, and have updated my header and the “Inspired” page in my menu bar.

P.S.S. If you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter yet, you may want to soon ’cause I just might be finally putting together my first one this week and I don’t want you to miss it…

In which we enjoy our spring bike rides…with a side of milk

I did a crazy thing the other day.

We were just getting the bikes hooked up for a family bike ride, when I remembered we were out of milk. I looked at the clock–there wouldn’t be time to fetch it before a ride, nor after. We would have to do both simultaneously.

Jeremy gave me that look that he does when he’s trying to figure out why he married such a crazy woman. I argued that I would be the one pulling the extra load so that gave me the final word in the debate. He willingly arranged the three one-gallon glass containers I had handed to him into the back of the bike trailer with a towel stuffed between for padding.

And we were off. Seth is always laughing with delight before we even get to the end of the driveway. We all love family bike rides.

Jesse pedaled along behind Jeremy, full of his usua, 5 year old, trying-to-figure-out-the-whole-world questions. “Which way are we going, Mamma?”



“We’re gonna get milk!”

We’re blessed to have an Amish farm with a Jersey herd just down the road that’s willing to sell us raw milk at milking time. Yeah, it’s a couple of miles, but we usually do 4-6 miles on our after-dinner family bike rides, so I thought it was doable.

We made it to the farm easily (it’s a slight incline most of the way…) and as I filled our jugs from the bulk tank, The Farmer came in from the barn. He glanced out the window.

“Ahh, so that’s why I didn’t here ye pull up! That’s quite a set up ya have there…I like it!”

“Yeah”, I replied, “It makes up for not having a horse and buggy.”

The Farmer laughed. He likes my jokes.

Pulling out of the driveway, I asked Jeremy how much a gallon weighs.

“Eight pounds.”

“Yikes – 24 Lbs! It’s like I added a third child to the load!”

He just smiled. He never has to say “I told you so.”

I will conclude this story with the simple statement--I got a good workout on the way home.

And the next bike ride we went on, we headed up-hill, so the ride home was down-hill all the way…

P.S. I have to say it was incredibly satisfying to go and fetch milk on my own pedal-power. I think I’ll do it again.

Looking for your own supply for raw milk?

Little Listening Ears

One day my boy came downstairs and announced, “Mom! God talked to me!”

I was terribly excited. “Really! What did He say?”

“He just said ‘Jesse! Jesse! Jesse!’ over and over.” I could tell he was a bit confused, if not discouraged. I sent up a flaire-prayer for wisdom and received sudden inspiration. I stepped over and pulled a baby name book of the shelf.

“Jess, do you know what your name means? Let’s see…it means ‘God is Here’. So, when God says your name, it’s like He’s saying ‘I’m alive and I’m right here with you, Jesse!’ Isn’t that cool?”

His eyes lit up, and it’s as if I saw his faith grow a measurable leap.

Read about ways I’ve attempted to cultivate my children’s ear for God’s voice in the post “Raising Samuels” over at Passionate Homemaking today…

A Dinosaur and “Pat”

Today he read his first solo word, “Pat”. With a single glance, he belted it out. A channel has opened and the water will never run the old route again. I wanted him to remember this moment as I fondly remember the day I read my first word, so I squealed and cheered until my throat went raspy. His eyes shone.

Today he beat  me at Alphabet Bingo.

Today he asked, so sweetly, if tomorrow I wouldn’t talk on the phone and just play games with him all day.

I said ‘yes’ before I remembered I had a skype appointment.

“You tould just tancel it, touldn’t you?”

I hesitated, but suddenly, simply, agreed. Of course I could cancel it. What is more important than a boy who is just learning to read, who wants to play letter games with his mamma ALL day?

Nothing, just nothing.

Photos taken at the Orlando Zoo in December. He thought it was a real dinosaur and was actually a bit scared.

I thought it was hilarious and made him pose with me.