Barbara Rainey enjoyed painting, and she wanted to develop her talent. But as a young mother she realized God was calling her to focus first on her family. “The Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me. … I knew, from Scripture, that my first job was to be a wife; and my second job was to be a mom.”
Now in the empty nest years, Barbara is using her artistic talents to create beautiful products for a new line of FamilyLife resources called Ever Thine Home™. In this interview adapted from FamilyLife Today®, she tells about this journey.
Bob: Did you find yourself kind of wishing you hadn’t had so many kids so you could get back to doing art?
Barbara: No, that wasn’t ever a problem because I really did trust that, when God wanted to give it back to me, He would give it back to me. I really was content trusting Him with that.
Bob: Did you find yourself thinking, when your youngest was in her senior year of high school and getting ready for college, When she leaves, I can get the art supplies back out?
Barbara: I actually started before that! I actually started taking some art lessons when our youngest was a sophomore in high school, because by then I just had two kids at home.
Bob: You had a little more spare time.
Dennis: She started dreaming and started talking about, “What if?” and articulating some of the things she’d like to do for families. I really kind of watched this re-birth occur as margins reappeared into her life. Not long after Laura left home to go away to college, she really began to pursue her interest in earnest.
Bob: Here’s what’s been interesting to me. You didn’t just dive back into painting; although, you’ve done some of that. It really blossomed from what had just been paints and watercolors to a whole different approach—all of it built around the idea that you want to use art in a way that can communicate eternal truth.
Barbara: Exactly. And by the way, just because I put my paints in a box and put them on a shelf didn’t mean I stopped being creative when I was raising our kids. I just was creative in other ways—I enjoyed helping kids with the science fair projects. I enjoyed painting rooms. I was always dabbling in something creative.
Bob: When did you start to see the opportunities for art expanding beyond just a canvas and paint? Do you remember?
Barbara: I think it really sort of happened simultaneously. In the early ‘90s, I started doing some pretty serious Bible study. It was not long after that, that I started doing art again. As my kids left home and as I had more free time, I began to think about all the things that I wished I could have done: “I wish that I could have made Christmas more meaningful,” “I wish I could have taught them more of what I was learning in the Bible,” or whatever it was.
It wasn’t that I was all wrapped up in regrets as much as there were things that I knew I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to teach my kids more about Christ; but I was so busy as a mom. I was so overwhelmed. I was so tired all the time, and I couldn’t find anything available. I didn’t have the time and energy to create something like what I wanted to be able to teach my kids, and to engage with my kids, and to interact with them, and to create that atmosphere for our family.
As I began to think about what I wanted to do in my empty nest years, it just started to make sense that if I could create some things that would help parents who were raising kids—if I could help help them do what I always longed to do—that would be a great use of my time and my energies. So the way the art fits into that is I just have a real passion for us, as believers, to create not just beautiful things but beautiful things that have good value as resources.
I think, in the Christian community, we’ve kind of slacked off on that. We don’t build grand cathedrals anymore. We build efficient, functional buildings. I think we lose some of the grandeur and the wonder of God when we settle for things just being utilitarian. I think, when we take the beauty out, we lose some of who He is. So, I wanted to be able to put that back into it.
Bob: You brought one of the Ever Thine Home resources you’ve been working on into the studio with us.
Barbara: That’s right. This is called “The Gathered Round.” The reason it’s called that is because it’s a round card holder. Picture something that you can stick greeting cards in, or post cards, or photographs.
You could call it a wreath because it’s shaped like a wreath (see photo above). In the center is a chalkboard. It’s meant to be something that a family would purchase. You put it on your kitchen counter, you put it on your kitchen table, or you set it on an entryway table. It has a stand so it can stand alone in all of those places; but the stand is also removable. You could hang it on your front door, without the stand. What it’s meant to be is a place where the family celebrates life.
A lot of families have message boards. We have a white-board with our calendars—we’re always talking about our to-do list, who’s going where, when—but this is meant to have a focus of, “How do we celebrate the truly important moments of life?”
I think, in the busyness of modern-day life—with lessons, and practices, and school, and everything else—I think it’s so easy to overlook those moments that we, as moms and dads, need to celebrate.
Bob: And you can put greeting cards, or notes, or, kind of whatever you want to in the wreath part of it. On the chalkboard—if it’s somebody’s birthday, you can write “Happy Birthday.”
Barbara: Yes. You can say: “Great! You got your braces off!” You can say, “Congratulations on passing your driver’s test.” You can say, “Welcome.” You have friends coming over for dinner—“Welcome to the Walkers.” Or if you’ve got a friend—someone new moved to town and you’re having the new neighbor over for coffee—you can write, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” and stick a bunch of recipes on it that you’re going to give her for a gift.
There are all kinds of things that can be done with it. It’s intended to be very versatile, very practical.
Copyright © 2013 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. This article was adapted and shortened from an interview on FamilyLife Today®. Click here to listen to the entire three-part series.
The new Gathered Round resource from Ever Thine Home is available in our online store. Also, save with the special Gathered Round Thanksgiving bundle.
Go to www.everthinehome.com to learn about more new resources and to read Barbara Rainey’s blog.
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