Thursday, February 28, 2013


I am tired today. I woke up not feeling well so my Lucy and I took the day off. We watched the Pope step down, we ate some lunch and I reheated my coffee about 4 times. I was figuring out how much we all raised for Help One Now and preparing to write this blog post. I wanted to talk about how much these kids are on my heart, always on my mind. I am constantly thinking about them. I wanted to talk about how God has changed me through this, and its just beginning...

One way he has changed me though that I feel slaps me in the face everyday is my eating. I cant believe the changes I have made, not because I made any big pacts or started any programs. Its simply because God is becoming bigger, and I am becoming smaller. There is just less of me. Less of my desire to fill my own self up with things, with food... I think of these kids. The kids all over the world who walk 12 miles for dirty water or eat every 3 days...I simply just cant justify my bad habits. I feel no guilt. I feel no shame.

I just feel changed.

We all have our things. Shopping, food, anger, pride...whatever it is, God is ready to take it away. But it really took me seeing the needs in the world around me to really grasp where our money was going, what my day to day life looked like. I really had to hold a cold hard mirror to who I was living this life for. I had to look at what my legacy would be, what I would pass on to my own kids.

I came home from picking up Grace at school and I just sat down and opened the mail. I knew it was from Life Outreach, and sometimes I pretend like nobody is asking something of me. I pretend like I didn't open it, like it doesn't exist. But I cant turn away.

And as I sit and watch my kids run around and drink their water out of sippy cups, I cant help but ask myself, what in the world could I do to be less of me so I can be more for them? I see Jesus himself delivering the mail to me...personally calling me out to do what I can do.

It has been impossible for many months now even before I started to do this, impossible for me to get people who suffer in poverty off my mind. Not a day goes by. I feel like a Queen living here in this house, typing on this computer, shopping for food. Its all overwhelming to me. And suddenly my guilt and shame that I felt in the past has moved over and was replaced by action. I don't feel guilty anymore for buying good food because it helps me be strong to work for these kids. I don't feel ashamed of my abundance anymore because I am blessed to be a blessing.

113 is what I was able to do. I bought more supplies, paid my bills, paid off a credit card and gave back to my God who made it all happen.

Its a new month now, his mercy is new for me each and every day.

Thank you God for changing me.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My political party does not define me

Im so unqualified for this. My goodness.

Never in a million years would I have thought this is where I would end up. I never thought that God could take such an ugly life, such an ugly girl and bring her out of her own darkness and into the light.

In my morning conversation with my husband this morning we talked a little about politics, as we usually do.

I am a conservative Republican.

But I'm not what you think. I am not what you would call the stereotype of one. Yes, I am a white female, did not grow up in poverty. I am married to a man and we have 2 kids.

I am a conservative republican who has had an abortion.

I am a conservative republican who has battled addiction.

I am a conservative republican who once was on food stamps.

I am a conservative republican who once laid in bed for a whole year because of depression, while my husband, at the time boyfriend, went to work and supported me.

I am a conservative republican who lost her virginity at the age of 14 and most certainly did not save myself for my husband.

I am a conservative republican who has been taking advantage of sexually and exploited.

My life is not about being a republican. Its about my savior.

But the question I asked myself this morning was how could I possibly defend being a republican without my savior? I just don't know how.

What you don't know is that I have been where you are.

You believe in abortion because you have been raped and you want women to be able to make choices for their own bodies?

Been there.

You believe in social programs to provide financial help for those in need?

Been there.

I would like to grab your hand, throw my arms around you and talk like we are two people. I want you to see my crying right now. I want you to see me understanding they whys behind your stance. I want you to know that I don't think you are any less than I am. I get you.

And what I want you to see is how giving my life to my savior was the answer for me. No welfare could have gotten me here, opening my own business.  No jail sentence could have redeemed my soul. No abortion could have taken away the pain I felt in my soul or the cycle of abuse I put my own self under because I was so broken and lost I let sex be a payment I made to anyone who would pay attention to me.

And then Jesus paid attention to me.

He took it all away.

I think the  biggest misconception about being a Christian is that you must change your ways to meet Jesus.That you must understand and follow all the rules to be accepted by God. And believe me, if I had to change my ways to meet him I would still be wandering around in the desert.

Jesus changed me.

I do not believe in abortion because I now see the value in human life. I once did not even see the value in my own. I believe in trusting in a savior to be my provider and show me the answers to my life's challenges. I believe that because he created me, he has a plan for my life and I am not stuck wandering around aimlessly chasing after things that weren't mine to begin with.

If he created me, he cares for me, and he is my answer.

My political party does not define me. My race does not define me. My financial status does not define me.

My creator does.

I value your opinion. I honor your stories. I am eager to hear your position.

 One thing I cant do is defend my position without Jesus Christ.

He saved me.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

the water

It was summer of 1996 when I attended FCA camp in Marshall, Indiana. I was a big city Chicago gal making a journey into the sticks to meet other sport minded/God minded kids. We were all kids. 

I remember the first night of chapel. This would be the first time I met God. It wasn't at church back home and it wasn't at a youth group meeting. He was there in Indiana, waiting for me. I will never forget the beautiful toned wood on that chapel that we sang in and met Jesus at...I will never forget the paths cut out for us with rock and stone. I will never forget the camp t shirts and the the feeling that was in the air. It was too thick to ignore.

Jesus was waiting for me.

We sang songs and I remember there was an "altar call" for those who wanted to accept Jesus into their hearts and after, we were handed a tiny little red pamphlet with answers to all the questions..."what happens now?" I was 14 years old, I had lots of questions.

I was a kid in years, but in life I was well beyond my years. I had experience so much pain up until this point I felt so happy to just sing songs and be amongst people who just expected me to be 13. But what was typical for me was that I wanted to be alone. I didn't want to be amongst the people, it was too cheerful and too uplifting for a gal like me who had been through so much already...

I remember just wanting to be alone with him. I said the prayer with everyone but I remember feeling like it wasn't right. I just wanted to be alone with him. everyone walked out of chapel to greet free time and I walked that rock path all the way to the water...

I landed upon a dock. It was so quiet I couldn't even hear the air move. He was there. I sat on the dock and bowed my head and folded my hands and did everything they told me to do. Except this time it felt right. I asked Jesus to come into my heart, my life, and take ownership. I asked him to forgive me of my sin and I told him I needed him. I don't remember what else came out of my 13 year old heart but I will never forget what happened next.

I opened my eyes and there I was alone on that dock in the middle of a scarce Midwest farming town, and I looked to the heavens and I saw my first shooting star....

This past weekend was sort of an eye opener for me. As you know, I am so brand new to this art world and I am not sure of where I am going. I have given myself permission to try things and fail. I don't expect things to all fall together at once. But this weekend I painted some art and I felt unusually comforted. I felt at peace.

And it dawned on me why I felt so good about this weekends work.

 I painted the feeling of where I first became alive.

Its the tones, the feel of the weathered wood on that dock. Its the peace I felt there, the first time I really felt peace in my life. The stillness of the water. The dark blue tones paired with light blue tones...the rusty reddish brown tones...the feeling of being connected to the  nature around me, the nature that was created for me where I met my God.

The most comfort I feel in my art is not painting something that would typically hang in a museum or gallery. I don't use an easel and I have tried. Rather I enjoy being able to pick up the canvas and turn it and walk around with it. I like to move it to the outside and drip running paint and water on it. I like to run my painters knife over it and simulate many years of weather and roughness. I like to visually look at something that is weathered and distressed because I find beauty in it.

Its peaceful to me that something can be so old and broken and yet be so beautiful. It is peaceful to me that I can approach God that way. And it is peaceful that he accepts me that way.

I don't paint the Midwest. I don't paint the city. I don't like to use color that I didn't see in nature that day. It all pretty much came together for me. And now I understand why I love to be outside so much and why the water is my refuge. I understand now why I love being married to my Navy husband who takes us from water front town to waterfront town and why when we end up in San Antonio Texas, I feel like i am missing a piece of my soul.

I am suddenly at peace with that art I make. I am at peace because I don't feel as if I am wandering around aimlessly anymore trying to figure it all out.

God said something to me this weekend that I will never forget.

Just paint things that are pretty to look at.

So that's what I am going to do. Whether its a flag or a beach scene or something that doesn't even make sense. I am going to paint it because there must be other people who find beauty in the serenity of the water and the wide open sky and the beautiful wood tones on that chapel, and on that dock. My goodness do I love those tones...

I feel at peace.

FCA Camp Marshall, Indiana...many years ago ;)

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Friday, February 22, 2013

our week in photos...

grace telling a story about angels/Lucy intrigued by poverty /painting scripture/Jeremiah 29:11 in action

our sweet mornings/ I cant stop reading about Moses/ meeting a sweet lady on a motorcycle who bought my love painting/ a trip downtown to buy boxes and a quick date to the thriftstore with the Colocinos.

Grace captures my heart with her love of painting along side of me/ a new shipment of flag canvas/serving in the nursery/Grace had her first school project
captivated by a documentary piece on Van Gogh/my first big canvas for a client/grace mastering her letters/workout

the most beautiful cow i have ever seen/Lucy and daddy enjoying the show/the rodeo God blessed us with/the tickets, I will never forget how we got those tickets

valentine from my grandma/grace writing out her first valentines to her classmates/playgroup success/current obsession is pineapple

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mt. Sinai: Exodus

Oh how I would love to visit this mountain one day. While I was painting this, all I could think about was the people at the base of this mountain, waiting... I was thinking about the golden calf. I thought about all the "golden calfs" I have in my own life. How sometimes I chose what is quick and easy, what is there, right now. I get very impatient waiting. But Moses had something that was worth the wait. He had personal time, face time with God and had literally, life in his hands. The people got impatient and couldn't wait.

I don't know who this is in my could be Moses receiving the Ten Commandments, or it could be God the father himself giving them. I started to write the ten commandments on it and this figure was showing through so I decided to go with it...figuratively. its a reminder of what happened there and who my God is. God the father. Not my bank account, not my health, not my circumstances or any other "golden calfs" .... it is my God and in Him alone I will trust and follow.

The Golden Calf

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”  So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.  He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.  Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?  Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.  Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”

Moses replied:
“It is not the sound of victory,
it is not the sound of defeat;
it is the sound of singing that I hear.”

When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.  And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”

“Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.

 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”

 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

 The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.
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Monday, February 18, 2013

my perfect storm...

A most favorite friend of mine and her husband asked me to paint her something for their new vintage beach home... we went around in circles about what it should be. Abstract? Ship? Traditional? We decided on a few things and I just chose to roll with it.

Yesterday was a day of just sheer panic. Not bad panic but anticipation... it felt like I was entering into a new world. I put my base on the canvas and set it out to dry in the sunshine and I turned on the tv for a moment. There was a special on Van Gogh and I was captivated. It brought me to tears. I couldn't believe how a girl from Clarendon Hills, Illinois , mother of 2, wife...could relate to him. I just never knew that he studied other artists brush strokes to learn and develop his style...I never knew that he started out using no color ,much like me. I am not fond of bright color. People have ordered art from me and forced me to use it... I couldn't understand when they said he had " two left hands". That feels like me right now.

I just feel so grateful to be able to do this. I feel like I am in a dream and it just keeps getting better. I cant believe you buy my art. I cant believe you find beauty in it. Because i am not an artist per say. I have no training in the arts. But I have a much tender soul. I have feelings. I have my God. I have a much different perspective of the world that I used to.

I just want you to know that through the panic, the red rash I got, the tears...I love it all. I love this journey. I have no idea what I am doing or where I am going but I like this ride.

I know who is in charge.
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

a game changer...

I will never forget this. The only reason this blog exists is so I can remember the goodness of the Lord, and I can share his goodness with you. Its really easy to forget when the storms are above you, when the clouds are rolling in and you feel like surely, nobody sees your pain. I have felt that. I sometimes feel like this world is so big, so full of pain and suffering , that God just passes over me and doesn't care about the small things. Sometimes I feel like he doesn't hear me, how could he? There are millions of people everyday lifting up their needs to him and he says he hears all of us?

We woke up on Saturday thinking we were going fishing but for some reason we got our coffee and huddled up on the couch and I stared to sing " old MacDonald had a farm" to the girls... it reminded us that the Rodeo was here and we had such a great time last year we decided to go. I looked on the website and it said it was dollar days, dollar popcorn and hot dogs and rides... we packed up and left under the assumption that we would get tickets there for the show and be able to get everyone fed there for a few bucks. This was good. But for some reason I ended up packing a full cooler of lunch just in case.

We got there and the rodeo was sold out, both shows. We could pay for just the grounds and walk around and see the animals and some rides, but no show.My husband wanted to get out of the way so he headed out of the line towards the parking lot while I stayed at the ticket office. I could tell he just wanted to leave and come back another day. I was also in the cash only line which meant, well cash only. We only had the 20 we just broke for parking and our our card. I sort of just stood there thinking about what to do while some sweet lady behind me said, Ill pay for you. So I let her. I grabbed my husband and told him we were going in but I just knew I should have listened to him. He wanted to come back when it was dollar days on Monday and the show wasn't sold out. It really is alot of money to pay to go and not see the show. But being the alpha female I am I said lets go...

We went in and walked around and it was fun. But I had this nagging feeling that I should have just listened to him. This story is not about that but I have to say that this is something the Lord is dealing with me on. I am beginning to understand that submission to my husband does not come from a place of a God just barking rules out or saying that I am weaker than my husband or incapable, but it really is for my benefit. He gives my husband certain wisdom and then he gives that to me. That's just the way he wanted it and I have trouble trusting anyone so I like to jump the chain of command and pretend I know best. We sat down to eat our lunch in the beautiful sunshine and I just looked at him and felt this wave of guilt come over me for all the times I have left my husband wandering around with me with his tale tucked between his legs because I am so sure that I am right. It was like a movie playing in my head and I just felt so sorry.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy,cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church for we are members of his body.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Ephesians Five

I couldn't stop praying. I just kept telling God how sorry I was that I was like that. I couldn't stop thinking about how much trouble I have put us in because I refused to listen to the wisdom he gives my husband or even give him the opportunity to lead our family in this way.

I walked the rodeo with my husband and sweet kids. The sunshine was on our face and their was so much joy in their eyes. But I made a personal plea to God, God I am sorry that I didn't listen. I am sorry that I don't always follow your rules, but i want to. I feel so bad for my family right now, we are here but we could have come back and seen the show when it wasn't sold out. If you wanted to, and I know you could, you could just give us tickets. You could just bless my family despite of my mistakes...I'm so sorry. I am not asking you to, I'm just saying you could.

We walked for about an hour and then went to the reptile house. It caught my husbands eye since they were doing fishing and dog stuff near...I thought to myself there are so many people here. Thousands. How could one person just single this family of 4 out and know that we needed tickets. How could it be possible? But I had this feeling that he was going to do it. At moments, I questioned did he hear me? Does he care that I let my family down and need some help redeeming this situation? Because there are people suffering in this world right now and people who really need him...and I just need tickets. Surely he is somewhere else, where really important things are happening...

The reptile house led us out to a walkway that led to the carnival rides. For some reason I stopped to ask this information lady where the pony rides were and how much they cost. She pointed in the direction...we started to walk off. Then she called us back and said are you going to the rodeo? I said no, its sold out...she smiled and waved me over. I lost it. I couldnt breathe. The tears are streaming from my face right now as I type this out...

One person in the thousands of people around us singled us out and gave this family tickets to the show.

I started to cry a very loud ugly cry. Sob. Tears streaming from my face and she grabbed me and hugged me. I said I'm so sorry you probably don't understand why I am crying...its just you are an answer to prayer. You are an answer to my prayer. She smiled again like she knew something I didn't and said have a wonderful time.

I cried the whole way there. We got into the show and the lights were so bright and the music was so loud and my blood was pumping and I felt so alive. But then suddenly everything stopped in my body. It was quiet, I could see everything happening around me. I could see my kids laughing and having a great time, but I could hear nothing. It was as if I was the only person on this earth. Like I was in the presence of God, just me. It was just me and him. I wanted to get on the floor, body sprawled out all over and just thank him. Its like i could not get low enough. Not because of the tickets...but because he heard me. He knew that I needed something and it wasn't too little for him.

The whole day, even when we got home until right now all I can think about is how beautiful he is. I am not alone. We are not alone. We don't walk around here aimlessly trying to fix all of our problems, come up with money for our bills, fill our life's calling. None of it is separate from him. He is everywhere.

He is everything.

Today was a game changer. Today was a day that I will always remember not because of something huge that he did for us. I will forever cherish today because of something small. Tickets. Nobody knew that I was praying for them, nobody knew that I needed them except him. And the thousands of people walking back and forth all around me, they didn't know, but he knew. And he made it happen.

Those tickets will be a forever reminder of his goodness, his faithfulness, his mercy and his grace.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

his love...

To my husband on this love day, who requires no admiration or praise during the year...I felt it pulling at my heart to outwardly express to the world how your quiet, persevering love has been the kind of love that has shown me the very face of Jesus...

you have gone to war for me.

you have forgiven me.

you have loved me when I was so unlovable.

you have required nothing of me.

you have said, stay....

you have let me walk in freedom while Jesus gutted out the wretched parts of my heart...

you have given me peace.

you have given me security.

you have provided for me.

you have given me our babies.

you have stood by me, watched me make mistakes and let the Lord speak first.

You have shown me what Jesus looks like.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

If this is love, you are love.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One year ago today, he changed things.

Last year, the Lord spoke.

And one year ago today, I moved...

He told me to paint. He told me to serve. He told me to trust him. He told me it would all count for something...He told me he wasn't going to waste it.

For some reason today my Grace and I started to pull weeds in our front yard. They all just caught my eye as we were going inside... so I grabbed a shovel and she put on her gloves and anxiously awaited every time I slammed my foot on the heavy shovel, digging around each weed three or four times, trying to loosen it up. We started to make progress, she kept asking me to move faster. I couldn't. She asked why they even existed.

I told her it was so we could really appreciate the flowers...

She asked me where they came from. I said I didn't know, she told me evil made them...

I started to think about the weeds, how some weeds are so rooted deep down in the soil they take alot of work, alot of people, alot of patience, alot of God to dig them out. And I thought about how I could just pick them up from the surface, but they would need to be picked again soon...

I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be in my own life. I have never been so amazed at everything around me, the opportunities, the love...and I cant help but praise him for waiting on me, until all the weeds were uprooted.

entitlement, envy, skepticism, lust, anger, ungratefulness, fear... all weeds.

Weeds that exist in my soul that have prevented me from walking into my own destiny.

But what amazes me to the very core, is that even when I was full of disgusting weeds, he still loved me. He still provided for me. He still claimed me as his. He still had a plan.

I still have weeds, they just arent so many and they arent so deep.

my first painting
Let my first ever painting, one year ago, be a reflection of what my soul was longing for... I was waiting, most days not patiently like this bird, for God to just move. But oh so much had to be cleared out of the way for this to happen. So many things I have tried on my own will, with my own resources, my own plan...and so many things failed.

And as I sit here right now thinking about you all, I am grateful beyond measure. I am grateful that you see the beauty in what I do. But what I am most grateful for is that God still saw the beauty in me, even when i didn't. that he had this waiting in the wings for me, under his wing, tucked away for the very moment that he knew would bring him the most glory...

a shop, a blog, a website, materials, financial resources, sales, free advertising all of it. none of it I could provide, but he did.

He gave us a way to get out of debt. He gave me a way to serve. He gave this family, this girl a new life.

I have no idea where this is going. most days i feel like i have no idea the direction this is headed, and i am finally okay with that. I used to be the girl who if she couldn't see the big picture, she wouldn't do it. But as I take each day out of my own hands and place it in his, I feel more safe. I feel able.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength...means something different these days. Because I cant do all things, but I can do the things he wants me to do. There is an overwhelming sense of purpose, safety, creativity, worship, gratitude and grace that fills you up when you step out of your own self and walk right into your God given destiny. And I in a place where if he says move, I move. If he says trust me, I trust him.
A year ago, my husband and I prayed in that hotel room that God would lead us to the place he wanted us to live. We were tired. We had a new baby and i was still nursing and the Navy had a new place for us to be, our fourth military move in 6 years...we just wanted a sign. We asked for a sign. Give us peace, we knew there would be peace in that place. But what I didn't expect was a whole new life. I didn't expect any of this....
Thank you for taking this journey with me. Please know that I think of each and every single one of you, I pray for you. I pray that God uses my story to reveal much about himself. Thank you for supporting my art.
Thank you. 

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Friday, February 8, 2013

how He speaks to me...

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8
If I was writing this to you 6 months ago, boy these words would have quite a different tune...and they did. I wrote a post that I am now hiding from you because it makes me so sad to see myself come from such a place of discouragement, the truth is I was the cause of all of it. If you have been following me for a while you might have read it, it was called " for when you are discouraged". From then until now, God has revealed much about himself, his character, his wisdom. So what has changed?
I just got tired of doing things on my own. Its that simple.
I was so tired of my world spinning in circles I just decided in my heart one day, God, I don't want to do anything you don't want me to do or say anything you don't want me to say or be anything you don't want me to be. When I first started along the path of creating a business, I had no idea what I was doing. And most days, things are still brand new to me. Currently I am trying to figure out how to do my taxes and how to ship really large paintings. I still have no clue, but I know the one who does and I believe that he will give me wisdom.
God has forced me to stop and wait, and usually I hate that. I am a horrible decision maker because I feel the need to act quickly. I feel like everything needs to happen NOW and for something to be successful, big things need to happen in a big way, right now. But if I have been doing that all my life and nothing has really worked out, it was time to drastically change the way I made choices. And what that looks like for me is waiting. And my God, it has just changed me. 
I have learned that God speaks to us in many ways. But I have always struggled with my spiritual self and not being able to discern what is from God or not. The reason I think I struggle with that so much is because I am a "feeler". I feel so deeply all the time that I just got used to making choices based on those feelings...and I have gotten myself into some messes, frustrating and ugly and damaging messes. So I have been careful this time around, the past few months to just stop and ask God to speak. Tell me what to me, lead me and prevent me from making wrong choices.
And he has made me wait.
And wait...
Its taken me about 30 days to make another canvas order and I have hated every single day of waiting. But I just know that I want so bad to be saved from myself that I waited until I knew for sure the direction in which he wanted me to go. And yesterday he spoke and now I know how God speaks to us.
Through his word and through peace.
 Its a peaceful feeling in the hard things. Its feeling like I am doing the right thing. Its a feeling that my choice is right according to his word. Its a feeling like my boundaries and chains and walls are torn down and I am walking around in a new freedom, a feeling of power and security that what he is asking me to do is so big that I  could never do it on my own but yet I feel safe knowing that he is walking every single step of the way with me. I have made choices before that weren't from him and I was left with a wringing feeling in my stomach and anxiety and fear. And that's how I know from the past, what it feels like to walk a distance ahead of him or behind him. 
He has allowed me to walk far away from him so that I would know the peace I could have if I walk close.
I have had to make some choices lately concerning the art, where its going...who I am doing it for. And yesterday something happened to someone I know and my heart was broken all day long. And I couldn't escape the things that God was laying on my heavy, heavy heart. Yesterday I made a choice that this art is not for me. I am not trying to be a famous artist. I'm not trying to be a millionaire. I am not trying to compete with big people. I am not trying to build a brand.
My brand is Jesus Christ.
So then what is it that I am trying to do? I want people to be able to afford my art. I want to help our family get out of debt. I want people to be blessed by it. I want to raise money for people who suffer. I want God to show us how to be good stewards with his money...I want to inspire people to rise up and realize that there is a special call on each life, your life.That you were meant for something great, that what you are going through right now is for your good. 
I want to act justly, love mercy and walk so humbly with God. I want it.
I am running, not walking... after that.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

how He loves us...the book of Job

I have made it through the book of Job.
I had no idea that so much would be revealed to me through this story. And my favorite part is always going to be that Job was restored. There has been a  big part of me that has been running through life trying to dodge more suffering. And if Im not running then I am stopped dead in my tracks, feet stuck in the mud...paralyzed with fear of what lies ahead. And either part of me has seen the goodness of the Lord and has no other choice then to grab ahold of his mighty hand and walk, slow. There is just no other choice for me. If he loves me, who can be against me? If he loves me, what weapon formed against me will prosper?
From the very start of my own personal suffering in life I thought it was my destiny to suffer. I thought surly my afflictions and chains would be my destiny...but through all of this, some of my prayers were not answered. But he heard my cries. He saw my pain....and instead decided to take me on a journey, a faithful journey of learning how much he really does love me and I would emerge from my own afflictions not loving him for what he does, but for who he is.
A God who is present. A God who has a purpose in all he allows his children to suffer through. My God its beautiful. And what do I learn from Job? I learn that there is so much we don't know, and we need to be ok with that. I am not the God of my own life and honestly I would rather walk with my God through suffering than be alone in anything.
Satan would have us believe that God is not love because he allows his children to suffer. Jobs three friends would have you believe that it is because of our own sin that suffer. But our heavenly father shows us that it is the blood of his son Jesus Christ that washes us clean and redeems us to him, and his love is so deep, so wide that we will never know how far it reaches...and I have tasted that love and have clothed myself in it from the moment I accepted it.
If you are walking through suffering right now, call out to him. Ask him to show you his love. How far, how deep. And there is redemption for whatever it is that you are walking through, on this side or the other. I remember a few months ago, I had a return of my skin disease, the one I had surgery for. I had made it 8 months without any signs of it. I just knew that it wasn't over because I hadn't put my trust in God to be my healer. I thought for sure it was gone because I had it surgically removed but one day things felt different. The pain was back and I could feel the stirring and just knew it was making a comeback. I was standing in the hallway and I stopped and just looked to the heavens and said in my heart that if it would return, I would not curse God. I would not be angry, I was thankful for the 8 months I had and if it came back for sure it would be then I would finally out of desperation, understand that my only healing is the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.
What a precious gift the book of Job has been to me. His testing, his faith and his relationship with father God is changing my broken and worn out heart. Gods love, his unfailing love, is taking all the pieces of this jumbled up story, full of heartache and emptiness, and turning it into a beautiful story, for his glory.  
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don't have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way...

He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us...
Oh, how He loves us...
Oh, how He loves us.

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

we have a winner!

 Congrats Chris Marlow from Help One Now!!!
winner of a $100 credit to my etsy shop!
*thanks to the 7 people who entered! Check back next month for another giveaway when I announce the March cause!

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Friday, February 1, 2013

February: Help One Now

You guys, I have been wanting to shout to the world what I feel about this group of people for so long now and today I get to. They don't have any clue who I am but that's ok.

Help One Now

visit their website here.

I am just so drawn to this group. Here is their statement from their website...

"In 2009, Help One Now started with one part-time employee. Now, we have close to 10 staff, located in three cities and 2 countries. Our staff is deeply committed to our vision of caring for orphans, empowering leaders and seeing communities transformed - Not only is this a job, but it's also a calling for each of us, and each day, we come to work fully committed to seeing this vision, executed and come to life."

Goodness. Just one person in 2009. Just one. Remember what I said yesterday about just one?

Jen Hatmaker, I cyber stalk you and God has used you, sister, to show me what brave looks like. I don't know how to thank you, other than to do my small part. And its small. But I believe that if a whole bunch of people did their own small part, big things would start to change.

You can find Jen's blog here.

"If we are just brave enough to side with the people who God loves, then he will side with us. Rather than becoming paralyzed by the scope of suffering on earth, we just say jump in! Jump in wherever, imperfectly. Just move..."  -Jen Hatmaker

I love the way this group sponsors kids. Their model for change just blows my mind. They have detailed information about where the money goes, why they choose to sponsor each child 2 times and how that all works for the community. But what I really love about this is you have the option here to choose a child, view a photo and get real personal. Sometimes I think what turns people away from giving even just a small amount is that they don't see what their money does or where it goes. And why I struggle with even that because lets face it, giving is the core of people I think we all just want to connect. We connect to homeless people with signs on the side of the road because we see them. We see the need. And I believe in Help One Now because they are so open about their projects and they way the fund them. When you visit their site and go to contribute, you can choose what your heart pulls you to and feel good about where your money goes.

I always said that if I was able to financially give to this project I would start by sponsoring 2 kids. My goal is to sponsor 2 kids this month. I know this is not the last time I will be backing this group!
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