Monday, July 15, 2013

At the Intersection (Vol. 2) - Liz Owen of Mabel's House

So I lost my camera chord. Or I should say it is misplaced. It is probably in my office. But I am too lazy to get up and go look. I am whooped.
If I had my camera chord I might have been able to download all the pictures I took of the shower I helped throw for a lovely bride-to-be, or my boys sulky faces after a long first day back to school, or the bench and chairs that Jeanetta helped me get  painted or the mantle I decorated.
But no. All that will have to wait.
Which is probably okay, because in all honesty I am 100% wiped out from all the fun and hard work that has gone into the last three days.
So what better time to share another vol. of At the Intersection?

Today I am so excited to have my IRL friend Liz Owen sharing her thoughts on the intersection of mess and beauty in her faith, her art, and her parenting.  I think you will find this post as delightful, honest, and real as Liz is in real-life. She is authentic to her core. 

Name: Elizabeth (Liz) Owen
Blog Name: Mabel's House
Art Form: Writing, sometimes Decorator
Kids Ages: One daughter, Jane,  2
Relationship Status: Married
Other Job(s) besides blogging/creating: Project Manager
Expression of Faith: Christian, Non-denominational
Where Do You Live? in Little Rock in a House


How did you find your creative niche? Was this something you have always done, or did you fall into it by accident? I started writing "books" before I could actually write. I folded pieces of paper in half and scribbled what I thought looked like words inside. I remember aching to learn how to read. But I didn't buckle down and get serious about writing until my late 20's.
Where do you create? Office? Kitchen table? I have a small desk/vanity upstairs in my closet when I need to really concentrate, but I've found that I can pretty much write anywhere.

Do you create best in solitude or in the middle of chaos? Contained chaos, like the tv or people having a conversation across the room is no problem. My two year old hanging on my leg? No.

How does your faith influence your creative process? I think the things that occupy our minds the most always come out in our creative processes, so yes, it influences it that way. I don't necessarily always write about my faith, but it's always there in some form.

How does that process influence or enrich your faith? Writing makes me hone my thoughts, it makes me take a good look at how I really feel, or the things that really confuse/excite/intrigue me. I'd say that writing enables me to think more critically about my faith in ways I wouldn't normally be able to do. The old phrase "I don't know what I think until I write about it" applies mightily to me.

Sometimes I feel as if writing, parenting, and the practicing my faith are all drawing from the same well inside me, that they tax the same part of my heart. This means that quite often I find that I have depleted all of my resources pouring into just one of the three, leaving the other two wanting.  Do you have this same issue, or is it just me? 

Yes. Absolutely. 100%. Some weeks I'm on a creative roll and write four or five chapters, or several blog posts I'm really proud of, but I end up ignoring my family to do so. Then the next week I don't write a thing, but I spend the entire time watching movies with my husband or playing games with my daughter. It's a major see-saw for me. I"m sure there's a nice middle ground somewhere, but I haven't found it yet. Until then I've just come to embrace the see-saw, and I'm thankful to have a husband who understands.

What do you do to recharge, or refill the well...

In your creative process?  READ. A million people have said it before me, but it bears repeating, you cannot be a good writer if you don't read. I'm constantly inspired by other people's work and it really motivates me. 

In your parenting? Honestly, I only have one kid, and she's a good egg. As long as she sleeps the whole night through I'm recharged by the next morning. A few weeks ago I ran away though. My husband had been away a lot, and I'd been sick and working, and Jane had been in a bad mood and teething, and I just packed my bags and went away for two days all by myself. That was a major recharge, although not something I'll be able to do very often. 

In the practicing of your faith? Talk about your peaks and valleys. The church we attend is very encouraging, and I try to read a "religious" book fairly often. But lately I'm learning that mediation has a big place in my life. I don't do it formally, or probably even correctly, but at night before bed I turn out the lights, listen to something soothing instrumental music, and just lie very still and quiet. I started doing this as a practice for my anxiety, but found that it turned out to be a very spiritual time. I feel that sometimes we're so busy praying at God we don't take time to be still and quiet, to listen to what he might be saying back. I"ve learned not to be so hard on myself. I don't expect to be on a spiritual high all the time. My faith is a lot like my marriage. Sometimes it's an exciting adventure, and sometimes we just sit quietly across each other at the dinner table and pass the salad. Both are good. Both are ok. 

Do you have any advice for other mom's out there who are also trying to learn how to live out their callings as artist, mothers and followers of Christ? What is something you wish someone had told you earlier on?  Cut yourself some slack. No, it's not just you. We're all winging it. You're doing just fine.  It's going to be alright. 

What are some specific challenges you are facing right now in all three of these areas? Like all moms with young kids, I wish for more time to be creative and write. Or just time to sit and stare at the wall and drool. But everything in this life is a phase, and one of these days I'll have tons of writing time and a lot less peanut butter shaped hand prints on my walls. I will miss those hand prints. I try to remember that when I'm frustrated and craving quiet time to read or write.

How can I, and my readers, pray for you? I'd ask for prayers that God gives me wisdom to know His truth. The more and more I read my Bible and pray the more I realize that sometimes institutions greatly miss the mark on what God, and Jesus, intended. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers regarding the interplay of art, faith, and parenthood in your life? Any experiences or practices you would like to share?

 I remember the first time I ever swam in the ocean, I really fought the waves and swells. I struggled against them, until I learned to just roll with the water (so to speak). My life as a mother and writer is no different. I can't control the waves and swells, or the sick days or dirty dishes or missed deadlines. I can only roll with it. That's what I tell myself a million times a day. 

Thank you Liz! I love you friend.
This post could not have come on a better day for me personally, and I bet I am not alone!

I am by no means a journalist so if there are questions you would like me to ask future interviewees please leave them in the comments on this post.

Also, if anything Liz said struck a chord in you, please say so! The great thing about blogging is that we can encourage each other, right her in this little online space, from wherever we are, no need to even put on make-up or brush our hair. So please, leave Liz some love in the comments!

PS- Loving Liz? Buy her precious book and get to know her better! 

Love much,


  1. Two things stuck out-that to be a good writer you must read (I'm finding more people than I realize love to read but it's becoming a lost art-not in our home!),
    and that those peanut butter hands will be gone before we know it. Made me tear up. I have two little gals so this got to me.

    I will check out your book-for sure! Thank-you for being authentic and sharing!

  2. I don't know Liz IRL, but I'm a faithful reader of her blog, and I thoroughly enjoyed her book. There are a lot of kindred thoughts in this interview. On the flip side of children growing up: my mom died just last October and even though I spent more time with her than many people spend with their parents, I long for more! It's so true - savor and live in the moments!

  3. I have been reading Liz's blog each time she posts for several years. Her blog is so refreshing and uplifting. She is real and candid and I just love that!! :0)

  4. I love both of your blogs! Struck by Liz's observation that we pray so much that we forget to stop and listen. That is something I need to do! I appreciate the beautiful photos, good thoughts and interesting writing you both do.


ok, really. tell me the truth... do these comments make me look fat?

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