Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Artist Annoucement: I'm going for it.

   Let's start from the beginning, shall we? 
   As far back as I can remember I've loved to create.  This means you might have found me decorating, writing, or making some form of art since I was a little gal.  I wasn't fully aware of how much these passions were so ingrained in me, it just showed up in my life here and there.  

 Fast forward to college.  I needed a major and fast.  I was "undecided" and getting to the point where I'd be wasting time taking classes I didn't need if I was still so undecided.  I locked myself in my dorm room, alone with only the school catalogue as my company.  It was time to define my major.  I made a list of all the things I truly loved and teaching seemed to fit the bill.  I went on to graduate and teach for five years at an elementary school.  Although it was the hardest thing I'd ever done, I loved it.  I still got to be creative and use that part of my brain a bit at work.  In the evenings I dabbled a tiny bit in sewing and sometimes painting and decorating.  For the most part I was pretty tired from work and watched t.v. or read books in my free time, more than I pursued any art form.
 A few years passed and I was pregnant with Anna.  I suddenly had a deep desire to learn more about photography because I'd have my own real-life muse and wanted to capture her essence perfectly.  The winter before she was born "we" (ok, me) got a new Nikon camera and I haven't looked back since.  My camera was my tool to look for the interesting, beautiful, and otherwise unnoticed snippets in our world and capture them as snapshots.  I was hooked and my heart was invested in this art form called "photography".  

After Anna Ruth was born and I'd been nesting like crazy I decided to open my first Etsy shop, with items similar to what I'd been creating for our own home.  Handmade banners, pins, and decor filled my shop.  I sold several things but was spending so much time just trying to get anyone to notice the shop it became less fun and so much a letdown.  I found that the joy I'd originally brought to my Etsy shop was gone.  I worked even harder for a while, and then decided to close it.  My breath was let out in the biggest sigh of relief ever.

 A few months (or maybe even a year?) later I had several inquiries about doing photo shoots for people that I decided to advertise my photography art form and try something new there.  I also opened an Etsy photography shop, posting my favorites from my blog.  I sold several photos and did a few photo shoots.  Mostly the photo shop was quiet though.  I began to question if this was something I needed to pursue or not.  Maybe my photos were just that...photos to inspire on the blog.  Maybe I needed to focus on telling my story for God, letting the photos speak volumes, instead of trying to sell them.

 Last Christmas I had one of my biggest God-encounters ever.  Right in my home.  I was sitting at my dining room table praying about my "dreams".  That term always seems to big and loose.  I was telling God about each dream I'd followed, like my two Etsy stores, a handmade sell I tried to plan that I had to cancel...a retreat day several people forgot about.  Yikes.  I was feeling small enough to let God be big.  Which I should have done way back when....
 I decided to hand it all over to God.  Every. Single. Bit.  My ideas, my passions, my hobbies, my dreams, my plans.  I made it my mission for the new year to seek out opportunities to give of my talents, to silence the comparison game with other people's dreams, to stop trying to, so hard to be this ideal person I had in my head.  For as long as I could remember lately I've always had that alternative plan or dream tucked in the back of my head.  On a bad day I'd think "Someday I'll get to do art retreats" and that was the hope I'd cling to.  Not realizing or understanding that "someday" wasn't the answer I was needing.  I needed Jesus on THIS day.

After emptying my dream bucket at God's feet I felt empty myself.  Just for a few days though.  At first I wondered what in the world I would spend my time on, since I didn't have an online shop to pursue or retreat to plan.  And then I began to get happy about it, real happy.  It felt as if God had opened up my world entirely and said "Go play, and have fun!" 
 I decided I'd learn to paint by taking an online art class by Christy Tomlinson.  I remember the first night I watched the videos to learn how to paint.  I tried to sketch my own ideas with colored pencils and was amazed at what came out on the paper.  I didn't know I could do that.  A few lessons later I was painting girls on canvases and loving it.  Every single bit.  I felt my fingers connect with my heart which connected with my soul and mind.  It was a match made in heaven. 
 And then I got SUPER brave and decided to paint my own ideas.  After painting several canvases that were my own originals I started getting comments and questions here and there, asking if I had a shop or sold my art.  After responding "no" several times I hesitated and wondered if there was something to all these questions.  I began to talk with Brett about it.  He was immediately on board, encouraging me, pushing me almost, to open an art shop.  To learn as much as possible about the business of opening an art shop (online).  He basically said whatever I needed, go for it. Do it.  He complimented my art, even when I wasn't expecting it.  He encouraged and pushed and encouraged some more.
The whole time I kept pretty quiet...over the course of a week or so.  And then I broke my silence.  I told him I was absolutely terrified to try something like this.  That I was frozen in fear.  I said I didn't want to look like the silly girl who always has these big ideas and then none of them work out.  I didn't want to make the announcement on my blog just one more time that I was opening up yet another shop.   I have had so many disappointments and let downs I just wasn't sure I could try again.  I don't have a printer or scanner, both needed for an art shop and both pricey.

The list could go on.  But you know what?  For every negative, fearful comment I had....people like you and Brett came back at me with five "Go for it" comments.  I'm tearing up even typing that.  I have been vaguely mentioning on Instagram that I have been encouraged by Brett to pursue a BIG dream.  People automatically started typing their words of faith to me.  I've had "signs" from God show up everywhere to go for it.  Money showing up I wasn't expecting, strangers and friends both cheering me on.

 Even at Wal-Mart today. I wrote this about my experience: "So I have a friend named Betty that works at Wal-Mart as a cashier. We've known each other a long time, since Anna was born. Over the course of the last few years we've talked about teaching, kids, cooking, nails, the garden, the weather, and our families. Today she struck up a conversation with me over this magazine and "just happened" to bring up the big, giant, scary exciting dream I was just discussing with Brett on the back deck. It's funny that over the last three years it's never come up 'till now. "
So friends, this enormous story is all to say, thank-you and I'm going for it.  I'm going to open a shop with my mixed media art canvases.  I don't have all the details worked out as far as when or how.  I just know that THIS experience feels bigger and stronger than anything I've ever even thought about before.  That a thousand signs point towards "being an artist".  I'm taking an ecourse now to learn about the business of being an artist.  So I really have no time frame as far as when the shop will open.  I want to take my time and do it right.  In the mean time, I'll keep painting and showing you what I'm up to and I hope you'll stick around long enough for when I can type those glorious words "Shops Open!
Blogger Tricks

People Matter: Easter 2014

 My Easter started early, as does every day.  I've made it a daily practice to wake up before the girls and Easter was no exception.  Betsy Grace decided to join me for a peek at this gorgeous sky.  I photographed it, looked away, and it was gone.  It was a sight to behold....a sight indeed.  I was so thankful I was up early enough to take it in.  It was as if the sky was just waiting and waiting 'till this moment to burst into celebration for the life of Christ.  I'll amen to that.
 Betsy Grace and I spent a moment on the porch together and after she woke up again a bit later we did Easter bags! 
 I bought the girls some things at the Dollar Tree and made little Easter bags for them.  They were so, so excited.  Anna Ruth even let out a few Anna squeals.  That just delighted my mama heart to no end. I think it proves the saying that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.  
 The same could definitely be said about my Easter cake.  I wanted to make something the kids would think was just fabulous, even though it may not have been a gourmet anything.  So I looked up how to make a bunny cake like I remember having as a kid.  I used a boxed cake mix and tubs of frosting from the grocery store.  It turned out pretty well!  The kids were very excited to see a bunny cake and it tasted sweet and delicious.  

 We were able to spend Easter with both sides of the family!  We decided to stay home from church so that it didn't create such a long day for the girls, going from here and there all day with no naps.  I felt guilty all week about choosing to stay at home, until we were at home.  Then I found myself reflecting on Easter much more than I've done in the last few years.  I stood over the sink, washing dishes in the quiet and heard God telling me over and over "I'm alive, I'm alive...act like I'm alive".  
 The little girls got to do an egg hunt at both families!  What a treat for them!  It was a joy to watch Betsy Grace be able to join in the egg hunt this year!  She collected 3 or 4 and was done.  

These are my people, my family.  They matter so much to me.  I cherish this picture greatly!

 And us.  
Our little family of four.  
No words for what hope, strength, and joy this picture holds. 

 As we moved on to the second family house of the day, watching everyone love on my girls did my heart volumes of good.  
 Throughout this whole day (and over the last few weeks) two words keep resonating in my heart and mind: People matter.
 I hear it over and over.  It's the reason why Easter is SO worth celebrating.  Jesus knew a long, long time ago how much people mattered.  And He shows us His love and grace through these beautiful vessels called people still today.
When it comes down to it, 
dirty laundry, the perfect anything,
an extra five pounds, the kind of car you drive or house you live in,
money, awards received.......don't matter.

People do.  Choose people.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Springtime on the farm!

 How was your Easter?  I hope it was filled with majesty and wonder and thanks for our awesome God!   Last week I tried to be very intentional to include a mixture of fun and meaningful Easter activities in our week.  Some ideas went great, others not so much.  Like when I set Easter eggs, markers, and stickers out and Anna scribbled three lines on hers and said she was done.  

It made me laugh and laugh.  At least I tried! 
 One message we did get loud and clear was the reason for Easter, that Jesus is alive!
"How did He make me?!"  Anna Ruth asked me one day...
as I talk about Jesus in the most normal way she is showing an interest.  
 I pray my girls grow up to love Jesus fiercely, as He has first loved us.  
Something I tell them often is how incredibly beautiful God made them and the farm too!  
 I couldn't imagine a more giving, creative, artistic father than God.  

 I always say that He could have left us with a good world that was made entirely of black and white.  And we STILL would have been blessed.  

 But He didn't!  
 He chose to give us multitudes of color, layer upon layer, here, there, and everywhere.  

 Spring time on the farm feels like one big canvas God's painted.  Not to show off (although He has every reason to), but just bless us.  To love us.  To wrap a hug of color all around us, so everywhere we look we hear "I"m here, and there, and look! Over there too!"

This is where I worship,
the pastures are where I pray.
The fields are where I find my peace and hope,
my troubles and cares all fade away.

Friday, April 18, 2014

New canvas: the purpose of life.

Meet my newest canvas creation. 

 and now go put these words into practice 
and have an incredibly adventurous weekend.
The whole world is waiting!