i painted this picture long before i wanted children.

i painted it in the hopes of wanting children. for so long i hadn’t. it was something i told Trenton on our honeymoon. on the stretch of tent and sleeping bag in halifax, nova scotia, surrounded by happy people we screamed at each other and i thought, we’ve made a big mistake. for i didn’t want them. and he did. and he’d thought i had, too.

and for three years i proved my point by starving myself until he told me i needed to choose: it was food or him. and after a moment of quiet i chose him and i started to eat. we moved to Korea where we taught English from 2-9 pm, and in the mornings before yoga (where fierce Korean ‘ajumas’ did one-armed handstands), i painted.

i painted pictures of mothers and children and i begged God through the strokes to give me maternal feelings. for i had none. i was empty, i was selfish, i loved my solitude and my guitar and my drinking wine and staying out late and sleeping in.

but the more i painted, the more i could see it. the picture evolving before me. the picture of love that withstands bloody labor and sleepless nights and spit-up on shirts, the love that makes you rock for hours on end just to hear the crying cease, the love that causes you to look across a floor strewn with toys and unfolded laundry, to find the eyes of the man it all began with, and to say “you’re worth this. you’re worth all of it. and i would do it over again in a heartbeat.”

because it is. worth it. when the rocking ceases and the spit up is cleaned off, when the laundry is folded and put away, and you stare into the face that you and your husband created–the face with his father’s nose and your eyelashes and your grandfather’s jaw–you know: you needed that scream in the campground and those years of starving and that choice on the highway and those mornings, painting, to make you realize that this, this breathtaking miracle, will always be your greatest work of art.

this post, as well as an interview concerning my art, is appearing today at my friend sadee’s place… please visit her and say ‘hello’.

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*originals and prints of emily’s paintings available here*

**also, just wanting to shout hallelujah for the way God is good, for the lump being benign and for feeling so very, very loved by all of you and your gracious prayers. thank you. from earth’s humble shores…*