Tea Talk (and a Free Printable)

It’s been awhile since I last popped in with a little life update (like here and here). The spring semester always seems to fly by for me, but this year I was battling sickness and the incessant winter so much that it’s seemed spring would never come. But the sun’s shining now, we’re counting down the last couple weeks of school, and a breeze is drifting in through the open windows, so I think that signals the light at the end of the tunnel. So pour yourself a cup of tea and let’s dive in!

Around the beginning of the year, I hosted an art party at our apartment for some the ladies from our church. We enjoyed good fellowship and the chance to express our creativity. I love being able to share my love for art and beauty with others and I’m blessed to know these ladies.

Right at the time I was about to give up on ever seeing spring again, I discovered this sweet little shop, Olive and Pearl. It was like stepping off the snowy street and into an adult’s version of Narnia (you know, after the white witch has been defeated): beautiful products, tasteful displays, charming bouquets, and lovely smells. I just found my new splurge store.

I’ve started to find my groove sharing my art locally. I had a display at a coffee shop, the library, and the Art League in town. There’s something so much more personal (and sometimes scary) about sharing my work in local places. I love that we live in a town that appreciates art and beauty, and that supports artists. For better or worse, I’ve also signed myself up to sell at the farmer’s market, and I have some art fairs at the beginning and end of summer. There’s been a lull in the internet side of the business while I gear up for all of this. Here goes!

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk a little bit about my other job – teaching. To end out our study of The Twenty-One Balloons, we had a balloon party. The kids brought in food from various countries to go with the theme of the book, and they created their own hot air balloons. It a unique experience to get caught up in a book and be able to share the adventure with others. I love that I get to do that with this group of kids.

Over the Easter holiday, Owen and I got away for a little time together in the wilderness. What started as a two day backpacking trip turned into a stay at a historical hotel and a visit to the hot springs. We began with a hike to a secluded campsite in a canyon next to a little stream. We hiked the area and watched the sunset, then hiked out in the morning and headed to the Thermopolis hot springs. It was a wonderful time of reconnecting and enjoying God’s creation.

If you haven’t figured it out from some of my posts (or haven’t seen all the books I own), I’m an avid reader. So I thought it was high time I created some bookmarks for you to use in your own reading life. Click on the image below and print from your browser.

Bookmarks

 

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The One Thing No One Tells You About Starting A Business

After I started my Etsy shop, I discovered that the internet if full of information about how to be successful. Much of it is very helpful. For someone like me who had no real plan going in, I have learned a tremendous amount about how to run an art shop and blog. It’s really kind of an amazing age we live in where you can learn almost anything with the help of the internet.

But there’s something a little deceptive about a lot of the advice out there. The internet has a lovely way of editing out all the failures and condensing everything into quick little sound bites of information. Most of the advice you get about how to start a blog, business, or anything really, makes it seems like you will find success overnight.

I’m calling their bluff.  I don’t buy it.

The one thing no one tells you about starting a business (or anything new for that matter) is that it will take time. As a self-proclaimed hater of waiting, I don’t want to hear this advice. I want to believe that the next big break will happen overnight and I won’t have to do anything to make it happen. But the truth is, it’s more than a few updated strategies, tweaks to a blog, or promotional posts that will build a successful business. Sometimes it’s years of hard work and perfecting techniques and learning and growing.

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To be perfectly candid, pretty much all of last year was a big experiment for me. I really had no idea what I was doing as an artist and blogger and I tried a lot of things that didn’t work so well. And I’m still trying to embrace the little victories, because it’s slow going.

I realize a lot of people are more set up than I was to be successful. They had connections, were seen by the right people, had a really solid business plan from the beginning. But even with the best practices, it takes time to create something that has real staying power.

This is true for any area of life. Sure, some of us have the natural ability to be successful at certain things right off the bat, but I bet even those people have things they have to work on. If it’s not small business, it’s parenting. If not blogging, job performance. There’s this false image that makes it seem like we can do it all and have it all. But it’s just that: tightly edited images that show one small snapshot of reality, but not the whole picture. Life is messier than that and takes a heck of a lot more work and patience.

In an instant gratification culture, it’s really easy to give up when you don’t see immediate results. But whatever happened to words like “persistence”, “diligence”, and “endurance”? These qualities require time to develop.

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I still haven’t seen the kind of success I’d like, but I’ve seen growth, and right now that’s more important than success. And I trust that God is using all the small progress along the way to teach me patience and persistence.

Take heart. If there is something you are trying to master but you just don’t see the results, keep at it. Keep working and trust that in time you will see the fruits of your labor. Whatever work God has given you to do today, give it everything you have for this day. You may not see the big picture or get there as fast as you want, but be faithful with today. Sometimes the slow process is just as important as the end result.

 

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8 Ways to Bring Back the Lost Art of Snail Mail

Remember handwritten letters? You know, snail mail? Like actual cards that people wrote and sent in the mail?

Even though I grew up during the age of letter-writing, I’ve almost forgotten that that’s an option anymore. We live in such an age of technology that we don’t even think to write letters on paper when we can send a text or a facebook message. It’s really a lost art.

But handwritten notes can be a powerful thing. Owen and I communicated through cards, postcards, and little notes throughout college and even during our time apart. I’ve held onto all of his notes all these years as reminders of our early relationship. Texts just don’t quite have the same significance.

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I mean, how sweet are these? The bottom right letter was after he took me to the homecoming banquet shortly after we met. Little did we know then…

Maybe it’s time to bring back good old-fashioned letter writing. I say this to my own conviction as I recently responded by text to a handwritten card I received (oops!). If you’re stumped about where to start, here are some ideas to help bring back the lost art of snail mail.

Tell Others You Love Them

There’s nothing quite as surprising or special as finding a sweet note in your lunch bag or tucked under your pillow. It can be a long list of the reasons you care about someone or just a simple “I love you”.

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Show gratitude

I was raised to write thank you notes for every gift I received or special thing someone did for me. As a child I complied begrudgingly, but as an adult I see the value of expressing gratitude in written form. It takes a little more thought to put pen to paper and write the reasons you’re grateful, but it’s an important and beautiful practice.

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Tell Someone You Care 

I’m a big proponent of care packages (especially where chocolate is involved). These are particularly great for the starving college student in your life, for long distance friendships, or to greet someone who has just moved to a new house or town. Tuck in a little note to say what they mean to you and that you’re thinking of them.

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Beautify Your Walls 

Okay, this might be a little bit of a cop-out because it doesn’t require you to actually write a letter, but I’ve bought and received cards that were just so pretty I had to frame them and use them as wall art. Cards are the perfect size for filling the little spaces in gallery walls (one of my favorite decorating trends). I especially like looking out for pretty Christmas cards and saving them for decoration the next Christmas. It’s all part of #seeingthebeautyinlife.

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Encourage with Scripture Verses

Sometimes there are things that no human words can say to comfort or encourage someone; that’s when writing the truth of God’s word can be the most powerful.

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Write a Real Old-Fashioned Letter

Before facebook messages were a thing, I used to write long detailed letters to my long-distance friends. I always looked forward to receiving letters back. Now I’m lucky if I send a decent Christmas card. Maybe it’s time to revisit the days of pen pals and write real letters again.

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Make Your Own Cards

I used to love scrapbooking, but nowadays that seems like a complicated process for preserving pictures that are better kept digitally. But I still have a box of scrapbooking supplies that I use to create cards for baby showers, birthdays, and other celebrations. There’s something special about creating a note with a caring message that someone else can enjoy.

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Just Because

I just found out that April is National Card and Letter Writing Month and thanks to Hallmark, there’s a whole calendar of ideas for writing letters for the month of April. You could really pull it out whenever you’re looking for inspiration.

And call it a shameless plug, but I’ve got plenty of cards and stationery in my shop if you’re looking to restock your card stash.

So go on out there and get writing!

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Driving Out Fear By Remembering the Whole Story

 

Although I’ve been a Christian most of my life, I’ve grown in my understanding of the deep implications of God’s word in the last ten years or so. I used to view the bible as a collection of little encouraging snippets that I could apply to my life in a haphazard fashion. I’ve since come to look at it as a complete book that is a continuing story from the beginning that shows us who our God is. Instead of looking at individual stories that have neatly tied up morals at the end, I am learning to see the nature of God and the bigger narrative we get to be a small part of. When I wrote this guest post recently over at Defying Shadows blog based on a single verse, I saw it as an opportunity to unfold the greater story that takes my eyes off of me, and reminds me of the God that conquers all our fears.

Haggai 2-5 - ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear._

I have a lot of fears. With a vivid imagination like mine, it’s easy to concoct all kinds of dangerous situations that might arise from a seemingly harmless activity. I’ll spare you the details. So many times I forget the nature of God and who He is and what He promises. He doesn’t promise us that our lives will be easy or without struggle and sadness. But like the verse in Haggai, he promises that His spirit is with us. Just like the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. It was forty years of wandering, never knowing what dangers might befall or when they would reach the end. But they had a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night as a physical reminder that God was with them.

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God made a promise to His people in the Old Testament, and He makes the same promise to us today. It was a covenant made to Eve in the garden of Eden, to Moses at the burning bush, and later to Abraham that God had chosen a remnant to be His people. A people who would fail and complain and forget God’s goodness. And yet He remained faithful. God brought his people out of slavery and hardships in Egypt. God preserved that people through the generations so that from them would come the very one who came to save them. Jesus. The God Man who opened the way for all to come to Him.

We no longer have a physical reminder of God’s presence in the form of cloud, or fire, or God in the flesh, but we have something just as powerful: His word. I often forget that there is power in His written words. Power to drive away fear and live in the truth. Without this deep understanding of who God is and what He has done, I will remain in fear, just like the Israelites did. But when I remember the covenant He made so many generations ago, my fears start to dissolve. I no longer live under the darkness of my fear, but in the light of the promise that he will never leave me nor forsake me.

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words -Leaves in the Wind (A Mother’s Story)

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Shelby of Shelby at Home and she was gracious enough to write a wonderful guest post for me as part of my “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” series. She’s a talented artist and blogger and I love this story she shared behind one of her pieces of art. Oh, and stick around till the end where you’ll find a link to the process video behind her piece of art. Without any further ado, here’s Shelby:

Let me be honest, when I first became a mother I truly believed if I just did what I was ‘supposed’ to do as a mom I could shape them into the well-behaved, perfect children I knew I was destined to have. The reality: they are their own little people, through and through. They are just born that way. Another thing I learned: there is no ‘supposed right way blue print.’ The way my parents did it may have no effect on the beautiful little monsters that bless my life.

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Let me back up. I was born to two amazingly loving parents who were young and not really prepared for a baby. I don’t know if anyone is ever really prepared, truly. But they were good people who knew how to work hard, taught us that if you work hard you can accomplish more than you ever thought, and they taught my sister and me what it means to have parents that love you. My mom always says, “the only two things a kid really needs is one, to feel safe, and two, to feel loved. We had that.

My parents always encouraged my sister and me to pursue our dreams and be who we are at heart. That being said, I don’t know why I ever got the idea that being a parent was going to be easy and that, again, I had some major bearing on who they are. I have a bearing on what opportunities – good or bad – that I allow to be put in front of them. But they run the show of their own little life… and it is amazing!

I have a son, 10, and a daughter, 8. They could not be more different little people. I’d like to blame my husband for some of their quirkiness, but he is often just as baffled as I am about where their little personalities came from. My son doesn’t have a shy bone in his body. We would go to the zoo when he was 2-3 and he would make best friends with some random kid. I would end up having to walk the rest of the day with a complete stranger because he refused to leave his new best friend. This was honestly painful for me seeing that I am a bit of an introvert and small talk with this kid’s grandma was killing me. He is an amazing kid and I am envious of his infectious, likable attitude toward life.

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My daughter is the complete opposite: she’s always a momma’s girl and wears all emotions on her sleeve. And she has emotions! She is moody and tries every ounce of patience I have as she is the most stubborn person I have ever met! She has massive amounts of separation anxiety, yet does the announcements at school for the whole student body to hear. I can’t keep up. Her heart is the size of Texas and she shows all sides of it. I ask her, “where did I get you?” She replies, “from God.” She says it like, duh mom! I love her and her fiery personality.

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A couple months ago, I felt that we needed some sunshine. My hubby was not yet home from work and it was just me and the kids and a nice day. Sometimes I love just seeing where their little personalities will come out. It’s unpredictable and fascinating. I gave them each a camera and told them to take some great pictures they could use as inspiration for their art projects.

Art is the one thing I have tried to always have around them. It’s an expression of our most inner parts and I think it’s good therapy even for kiddos. We left on our walk and I was anxious to see what direction they would go with their pictures. Mason had a very deliberate straight-forward approach to his pictures. McKenna wanted a full story. She wanted me to take the pictures of her posing here, posing there. She is such a ham.

The pictures were meant to inspire her. It turns out I was the one who was inspired. I felt like the time I spent with them both that day totally exemplified their personalities. Art is emotion and that day ‘my cup runneth over’ as they say. I had to paint my daughter just as she was – silly, sweet and all heart.

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This painting I did in two sessions. I am more of an illustrator at heart. Despite art lessons and tutorials that tell you otherwise, I start with a pastel drawing. I am also a figure painter, so highlighting the most important part that I want to be the focus is always first. In this case, it was her face. That took one session and then the more loose background and such took another session.

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I think it may be one of my favorites. Emotion is the driving force behind all enjoyment of paintings. If we didn’t care about that aspect any ol’ painting from the dollar store would be fine to hang on our walls. But our love for what the painting represents is what makes it into a real work of art in our eyes. This painting might as well be my heart on the canvas.

There is no making these little monsters into the people I thought they should be, I wouldn’t even dream it. God sent them here far more amazing than anything I could tried to make them.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

 ~    ~   ~

Y’all, how amazing is Shelby’s art? I love to hear her heart behind this stunning piece. You can see more of her work over on her website Shelby at Home and on her Instagram and Facebook page. And as a bonus, here’s a Leaves in the Wind Process Video so you can watch the mesmerizing work in progress.

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5 Ways to See the Beauty in Unexpected Places (and a Free Printable)

If you’re like me, you might find it’s easy to become distracted by everyday worries, responsibilities, and beeping notifications that constantly vy for your attention. The whole “stop and smell the roses” thing can become nonexistent in our lives. And yet, it’s oh so important.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the reason I’m doing what I’m doing; about my desire to point others toward beauty, and about how what we see changes us. This pursuit might seem superficial, but I think there are hints of Eden all around us; traces of God in the ordinary. Slowing down to notice them is the only challenge. So I’m offering a few simple ideas to take to heart when seeking beauty in the unexpected places.

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1. Turn off technology

There are a lot of beautiful things we can see on the internet or TV, but nothing compares to seeing those things in real life. Instead of looking at your phone while you’re waiting in line, seek out something worth looking at: the flowers at the grocery store, the cute little baby in front of you, the pictures on the wall at the dentist office. You might even have to look closely, but don’t miss what’s right in front of your eyes.

Try leaving your phone at home and going for a walk (I’m dating myself, but remember the old days when we couldn’t even imagine taking a phone with us outdoors? And now we panic when we accidently leave it behind.) Power down for a while and enjoy what’s around you. Resist the urge to capture it on camera and truly see the beauty.

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2. Create your own beauty

You don’t have to be an artist or take beautiful photos to to create something worth looking at. Even a well-prepared meal or a clean house has beauty in it. Sometimes it’s worth it to pull out the paints, markers, or colored pencils and just start creating something. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece to be beautiful. Just looking at pretty colors and exercising your creative muscles is worth it.

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3. Go somewhere new and really notice the details

It’s easy to take for granted the pretty things in our daily lives, but sometimes a change of scenery can be the very thing we need to see things differently. It might be an exotic trip to a beach resort, but it can also be as simple as stepping into a boutique you’ve never visited before or driving into the wilderness. Art museums are also great for this (especially for the self-professed artists like myself). Leave the camera behind and pay attention to each little thing along the way so you can take mental photographs to capture the memories.

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4. Read a book 

Your own imagination can be full of untapped beauty.The very best books paint pictures in our minds. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a big fan of reading. I love to get lost in a story or be transported to another place. Words are as important as images and can be even more powerful. And they can communicate beauty in a vivid way. Search for beauty in the books you read and for heaven’s sake, ditch the books that are full of ugliness and lack redemption. A beautiful story told with well-chosen words in of infinite value (I mean, just look at the bible).

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5. Be intentional 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane routines of daily life and lose sight of the beauty around us. There’s value in looking up from the ever-pressing daily needs and pausing for a moment to appreciate the little things. Pick those flowers and enjoy their beauty, open the curtains so you can see the sky, listen to classical music while you wash your dishes. Fill your mind and heart with what is truly important.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
~Philippians 4:8

#sharingthebeautyinlife

Just a reminder, I would love to see the beauty you are finding as you journey through this life. Whatever it is that captures your attention, share it on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #sharingthebeautyinlife. Let’s share the beauty we see to point back to our creator.

One of my favorite things to notice and appreciate is birds. Aside from just being pretty little creatures, they are a picture of God’s care for us. I created this graphic as  printable for you guys and a reminder that God’s love spans all of creation.

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Feather Graphic Download

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – A Wedding in the Mountains

They say you can’t pick your family, and how much more true that is for your in-laws. So I’m really fortunate to have fallen in love with a man who has an awesome family. My in-laws are all really great and my husband’s sister is one of the sweetest people I know.

She got married a year and a half ago and it was a wedding for the books. Not because it was extravagant or over-the-top, but because of where it was located. She and her now husband are avid mountain climbers (let’s just say, they make the hikes I take look like a literal walk in the park). So when it came time to choose their wedding venue, they settled on a beautiful meadow in the middle of the vibrant aspens surrounded by majestic mountains. I mean, really spectacular. The only challenge was in getting there.

After a plane flight and a scenic six-hour drive, we were ready for the real adventure – a narrow winding mountain road in the heart of Colorado. Picture getting to the narrowest part of the road with a cliff on one side and a drop off on the other and meeting an oncoming vehicle, and invoking terror in my imaginative brain. Thanks to the skills of my brother-in-law, we did not plummet to our deaths, but arrived after a stream-crossing or two safely at the beautiful meadow.

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The wedding itself was simple and beautiful. I love weddings, not just because they’re pretty, but because of what they represent: the joining of two people, the reminder of the significance of my own marriage, and the picture of the bride of Christ. Seeing someone you care about get married is even more special.

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For their wedding gift, I painted a picture to preserve the memory of the beautiful location. Of course, I had to paint it before I actually saw the venue, so I relied heavily on my googling skills. Thankfully, the location looked just like the google image I modeled the painting after. Of course, in person it was much more spectacular. Towering majestic mountains with vibrant aspens, cool mountain air, and rays of sunshine. It was really a magical place!

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I am so grateful that we got to be part of their special day and that we could witness the joining of two lives into one.

As we drove back down the winding road into the little western town, Owen grabbed a rock from the wedding location. Later, I painted an aspen leaf on it to commemorate the day as a Christmas gift for them and a reminder of a perfect day in a perfect place.

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Seeing the Beauty in Unexpected Places

If noticing-pretty-things was a love language, it would be mine. I attribute my obsession with having a clean and decorated house to this quality. Everything has to be pretty and proper and in its place. My eyes are like a radar zeroed in on something of beauty, that vignette that stands out in a sea of ordinary.

My vision when I started this blog and my shop was to share beauty with others. But more than that, I want to encourage others to look around them and really see the beauty in life. Sometimes it’s visual beauty, sometimes it’s the beauty you see inside of another person, or a beautiful conversation. Inspiration is all around us.

One of the dilemma’s I had with starting this whole thing a year ago was that beauty is superficial and seems trivial. I mean, there are bigger issues in the world than making sure people see pretty things. But could it be that beauty satisfies some deep longing of the soul? That in all the ugliness in this world, stopping to see the small beauty can bring us a picture of hope?

God could have made this world ordinary, ugly, and boring. It would have served its purpose without anything especially interesting to look at. But He chose to infuse it with life and color and fascinating creations. As I imagine it, the Garden of Eden was a place of untainted beauty and we still see remnants of that today.

Beauty manifests itself in so many ways that sometimes we can’t help but sit up and take notice. But sometimes we have to be intentional about seeing and finding the beauty that is all around us. This article about teaching children beautiful speaks so perfectly to that sentiment and is a reminder that all beauty comes from God and points back to him.

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And even when you don’t see beauty in your surroundings, many times you can see the potential for beauty. Maybe that’s a metaphor for life: seeing the potential in ugly situations, pictures, and people. Everything is stained with the effects of sin, but there is still beauty to be seen if we keep our eyes open. And it’s all a picture of an amazingly creative and inventive God.

I have to admit, I had a lot of frustration at the constant snow this winter and the nearly-impassable roads. I had to be intentional about reminding myself to look up at the majestic snow-covered mountains surrounding my town. When I fix my eyes on the negative and the ugly, I become discouraged; but when I focus on the beauty in my life, I see a picture of who God is. What we see impacts us more than we know. It infiltrates our minds and affects our thoughts. What we see matters.

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In the same way, our hearts need to be stayed on a beauty far greater than outward appearance. So fix your eyes on Jesus, the ultimate beauty; The beauty and sorrow of the wounds that wrenched his body and the blood that meant freedom for us. The beauty of the empty tomb and the scars that remind us of the punishment he bore so we could be forgiven. And one day, through the wonder of the cross, our future world with God will be a place free from the ugliness of sin and a rebirth of that perfect beauty from the beginning of creation.

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I would love to see the beauty you are finding as you journey through this life. It might be a small vignette or a hidden flash of God’s artistry along the way, or it may be a grand majestic show of the beautiful. Whatever it is that captures your attention, share it on Instagram with the hashtag #sharingthebeautyinlife. I know there are a lot of pretty things on instagram, but I’d love to fill up the hashtag with unexpected beauty found in surprising places. Let’s share the beauty in life to point back to our creator.

 

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Valentine’s Day Roundup and a Free Printable

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, a day I used to be strongly convinced was invented by card and chocolate companies to increase sales in the least eventful time of the year. Who needs love when you can be an independent women free of the entanglements of romance?

My, how things changed once I got married.

Poor Owen. Our first Valentine’s Day he took me out to a nice restaurant the weekend before and that was it. No flowers, chocolates, or sweet cards on the actually day, and I wouldn’t speak to him for a good 24 hours. To his credit, he thought I was still the same Valentine’s-hating girl I was before we got married, but no. Now I felt this was en excuse to indulge in two of my favorite things – chocolate and flowers (I’m more cliche than I’d like to think). Because everyone knows that true love is as simple as a nice dinner and a few gifts.

All that to say we’ve found a pleasant compromise in our years together – fondue date night. It gives us a fun activity to do together, a delicious meal, and allows us to avoid the crowded restaurants. Of course, he now dutifully buys me flowers and a box of chocolates.

In reality, romance in marriage should be more than just a single day of the year. Candy and sappy cards really have nothing to do with it. Owen shows me love every day when he gets up and works hard so I can pursue my dreams. I see his love when he slows his pace on a hike so I can keep up. Or when he cleans the kitchen because he knows it’s my least favorite job. Real love is a series of daily dying to self; but it’s also in the mundane that we see each other for who we truly are and that’s a pretty amazing thing. There’s something really special about living with my best friend who knows who I really am and still likes me. And vice versa.

If you’re in the mood for a few posts about love and marriage, I’ve rounded up all my past posts on the topic for your reading pleasure. And if you scroll to the bottom, there’s a sweet little cupcake card printable if you still need a Valentine’s card for your special someone.

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7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Marriage

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Our Love Story Part 1Our Love Story Part 2Our Love Story Part 3

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What Loving Others Like Jesus Really Means

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We Love Because He First Loved Us

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10 Free or Inexpensive Ways to Date Your Spouse

 

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Choose the white “you’re sweet” cupcake card or the pink “you’re sweet” cupcake card or print both for different occasions. Enjoy Valentine’s day (whether you’re spending time with your honey or treating yourself to something special) and remember in your chocolate coma that love is more than just a single day.

 

 

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – A Little House with a New Beginning

My grandma was a big influence in convincing me to start painting as more than just a hobby. During Christmas a year ago, on our trip to visit family, we chatted at a coffee shop and it wasn’t long before she encouraged me to pursue selling my art. I don’t even remember how it came up in conversation, but I’m glad it did.

My grandma has been a big supporter of my creative life and I’m so grateful for a family who treasures and values art and beauty as much as I do.

Even though I only make it home a couple of times a year, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with my grandma in the last year and a half since my grandpa passed away. I’ve treasured the conversations and time we’ve spent together. She was a teacher like me, so we have an automatic connection there, but she also has the Opelt sense of humor, she’s sharp as a tack and pretty classy to boot, and she loves popcorn (one of my obsessions).

Since my grandpa died, there have been a lot of changes for my grandma. She lost the man she was married to for over 60 year and she sold the grand old house that we used to visit as kids.

But she’s also looking to the future. Something that has been exciting for her is purchasing and moving into her own little down-sized home. She’s taken so much pride in this little place and in turning it into her own personal sanctuary.

grandma

She’s relished the task of picking paint colors and furniture. She’s hung up art and made it sweet and cozy (I haven’t been there to visit yet, but I hear it’s pretty sweet). She’s planted flowers and furnished the porches. She’s made it her home.

This Christmas, she asked me to paint her little home and frame it as a Christmas present to herself. I gladly complied with her request.What a special way to commemorate this new beginning in her life. house-picture

Last summer, a nest of bluebirds made their home in her yard. They raised their family there and flitted about all summer. A sign of a new start. She insisted I include them in the painting. There’s another thing we have in common: the love of birds.

 

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