Delighted with Daffodils (and two new photographs in the shop)

Goodness I didn't mean to be gone that long!  I'm still here, just drowning in technological stuff and at the same time, delighted with daffodils.  How's that for a Monday mouthful? 

I'm teaching myself/learning iMovie.  It's been a long time goal of mine but I've felt scared to even dip my toes into the water and try.  Mostly because I knew it would be hard work and it is! All you techies reading this might be having a good belly laugh, but my heart is SO into my photography that I want my videos to feel the same.  This weekend I told myself enough was enough, time to brave up and try.  I jumped in with both feet and have the sweetest video ready to show you this week.  It's my first video ever and I still have a lot of work to do.  But I can feel the excitement that comes with conquering something and learning something new.  I remember feeling this way when I first started to paint and opened up my Etsy shop.  Scared silly, but also enough excitement in the air that I knew I couldn't just quit. 
I suppose in my mind I was picturing another few weeks of being tucked inside, warm next to the fire.  Time to ease slowly into spring.  It's simply not so.  Last weekend I spotted a green stem on the side of the road and thought "Surely it can't be?!"  The daffodils seemed to be back, a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.  

The girls and I pulled our boots on and made the slow drive through the pasture, waiting to see if anything would be waiting or not.  If we'd only taken the pasture at first glance our immediate answer would have been "no".  
Everything appeared to be brown and crunchy, still tired from winter.  But, as soon as we crossed over the fence we saw it.  Bright yellow pops of color.  A celebration just waiting to be noticed! 

This bud waiting to open and the parade of cheerfulness among the dark, dreary woods speak volumes to me.  When it seems as if things look one way or are too gloomy for words, look again.  Perhaps there is a surprise of cheer just around the corner waiting for you. 

Or perhaps you can be the cheer for someone else. 

These simple delights have breathed fresh air into my lungs and heart this week. 
Reminders that God is up to so much more than we can see with our human eyes.  

I created each of these 8x10 photographs with that simple message in mind.  
That ordinary can come alive at any minute.

You can see these photographs in the shop here.

Here's to life surprising you with delight today. 

table tales

Life happens around the table. 
Coffee cups are held close to keep hands warm, conversations shared, first bites tried, and plates pushed away as bellies say "we're full!".  There are books to be read, prayers to utter, new faces to love...all around the table.  From lessons on manners to highchairs and hilarious laughter, again the table is what brings it all together. 
We bought our table brand new with a matching set of chairs, right before we moved into our house on the farm.  I was HUGE and pregnant with Anna Ruth and wanted a big table to fill with friends, family, and kids.  We searched at place after place until we found this one.  I have never even dreamed of having another table. This one simply holds too many stories. 
This week I did, however, give it a fresh coat of white paint.  Much different than the dark brown stain it came in.  As Anna Ruth first spotted the table she exclaimed "It's beautiful!" Coming from her, this is a huge compliment as she definitely knows what she likes and doesn't like.  I would have to agree.  The table turned out beautifully and it feels as if it's saying "thank-you" itself, every time I gaze over and see the fresh white.  

Do you know that I have been debating/almost worrying over whether or not to paint this table since November? I even bought the paint and a lot of other unnecessary products after a too helpful sales person  at Lowe's thought I "needed" all of it.  I am smarter than that and at least had the wisdom to go return it all the next day.  
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when we were at the Home Depot and bought a gallon of oil-based white paint.  After painting our built-ins with it I knew it was perfect for the table.  It is seriously the perfect white.  Not too grey or off-white.  Just right.  
As for all that worrying over the table? I realized how silly it is to worry over something like a table.  It is just a table.  All that beautiful life will still happen around the table, whether I paint it pink, red, white, or green.  The color doesn't matter, but the people sure do.  Why waste my time worrying over something so simple? 

Yesterday Anna Ruth and I sat around the table, looking through our stack of Instax photos.  I explained how pictures tell a story that words sometimes can't.  She, of course, wondered what I meant.  I went on to explain how our hearts, eyes, and memory work together when we see a photo, bringing all sorts of wonderful things to mind.  

I decided to follow my own lesson later that night once the girls were snug in their beds and the house was quiet.  As I looked back through my past photos, seeing how many different ways the table and shelves had changed, it was as if I was reading a really great story.  Certain photos evoked a slow, sweet smile like this one of Betsy Grace as a baby. 
Others like this scene from Betsy's party made my eyes light up, remembering all the family crammed around the table to celebrate our girl. 

Photos like these remind me of the countless hours we've logged, deep conversations happening among the paints.

And of course there are always the fancy Christmas Eve tables that remind me how much our family truly enjoys instilling new traditions in our home.  They create a sort of hopeful rhythm that guides our year with joy, as sure as the sun. 

Often times the photos tell a story of whatever current craft phase I happened to be in, like making paper flowers or filling embroidery hoops with fabric. 

No matter the state of the table or the decor on the shelves, each reminds me of several things.  One, that documenting our everyday, seemingly "ordinary" lives is worth it.  Worth the time, the extra effort to pick up the camera for a few seconds a day, worth the counter space to leave the camera in a spot that's easily accessible.  I'm also reminded of the goodness and faithfulness of God.  I'm sure I must have felt similar emotions and thoughts in each of these very different seasons of life pictured.  I probably wondered about situations around me, prayed over my dreams, and tried to love my Jesus and family well.  I'm sure some days felt extremely hard, others a piece of cake.  

I'm sure our table tales are only just beginning.  I read a quote today that struck a chord with me.  It said "Make your ordinary come alive."  The table seems to be the most ordinary of places, yet as record shows it is certainly one of the most alive.  Let your ordinary life come alive at the table this week.  Invite a new friend, leave a book out for lingering, slowly eat a tasty meal, give many, many thanks for coming alive. 

See you around the table. 

Practical ways to live creatively

Happy Tuesday friends! Mondays always start off so full, I feel like I've run a marathon by the end of it! We definitely start our weeks off with a burst of energy and a bustle in our step.  But then along comes Tuesday, Monday's quieter counterpart.  Thank goodness for both.  

Today I have a bit on my heart about practical ways to live creatively, in the midst of whatever your season is.  Quiet, bustling, empty, full....all hold the capacity for creativity.  If you've been around the blog for long at all or even since the beginning over seven years ago, you've watched me struggle at times with knowing how to live creatively right where I am.  I picture a drawing of a line, when at first as a new mom I had the desire to do some home projects, buy a set of watercolors, and dip my toe into the nudging I felt.  Once I took a step or two into the world of art, the line spiked WAY up high, as if I'd climbed a mountain.  And I stayed on top of that creative mountain, so bold and brave and full of BIG ideas.  This was about two years ago.  

Over the past year and a half God and I have had some pretty interesting conversations over what it means to be creative, to live as an artist, all within this thing we call "life."  I've wrestled with God and been stubborn, feeling like my current life wasn't allowing me to reach my fullest potential as an artist.  Those words are so hard for me to write, honestly because I'm so far from that thinking and toxic attitude now.  I believe God has placed certain strengths in every single one of His people, to be used right where we are.  Sure, there have been moments where I've felt like I'd won the lottery with the big, creative opportunity I was getting to partake in (like styling a wedding anniversary party)! However, mostly I've learned that in honoring my life as it is right now and allowing my feet to sink in deep to the callings and people that surround me, I am bringing worship to God.  

God has taught me that creativity isn't a vacation we take away from our current home/life/stories.  It's instead, a sweet fragrance that infuses our lives no matter what our current story holds.
So without further ado, let's look at a few practical ways creativity is a very normal, real part of my day-to-day life.  
1.) Read books about creativity! Even just a line here and there by someone who also gets this creative road, can lift my spirits and give me new ways to think about art.  Big Magic totally changed my viewpoint of my journey as an artist, allowing me to see my "failures" or missed opportunities as simply that. Just things missed, but not things to define who I am as a person.  Artists aren't failures.  We are brave and we both try and fail often.  But we keep trying.  

2.) God's word and a journal. 
Some of you will panic at the sight of BIG MAGIC and my bible all in the same stack, lol.  The most creative soul I know is Jesus.  If I only read the creative books but don't spend time in the ultimate Creator's word, my soul suffers.  Reading my bible and jotting down a verse, a prayer, or something God stirs in my soul, does wonders for my creativity.  It's like plugging my artist heart into a light socket.  It lights up immediately.  Other books don't do that.  God's word does.
3.) Food and cooking hold the GREAT capacity for creativity.  Cooking used to be the thing I "had" to do and I despised it.  Then I began to notice a pattern with blogs I was reading or people I was paying attention to.  They had such passion AND they were cooks.  Slowly I've come over to the other side of cooking, which is that it holds immeasurable ways to be creative.  The world is at your fingertips through food.  I read cookbooks on a daily basis, love trying new ingredients, and will talk to anybody about food for days. Even down to the way a plate is styled, food is art.

4.) Be on the lookout EVERYWHERE for art.  
This scene stirs up some kind of story in me.  Yet you want to know where I found this picture-perfect pick-up truck? At our local safari.  The least likely of places. 

Keep your eyes open everywhere for the creative way life shows up.  Even better? Take a picture of it.  Your camera, whether it be a DSLR or phone, is your bff when it comes to viewing the world through a creative lens.  Use it often! 
5.) Paint. 
Even if you've never painted anything and don't even know how, go buy a cheap set of watercolors and take 10 minutes to try it out.  You might love what you made or you might not, you might want to share it with the whole world or hide it away.  Either way, I can almost guarantee that your fingers and your heart and soul will smile and thank-you.  
6.) Style friendly reminders to let your creativity shine.

7.) Be ok with a "mess".  Or in my world, I prefer to call this a "happy mess".  If we're trying to be perfectly clean all the time, odds are your creativity is limited to browsing Pinterest or making a list of projects to try.  I know this because I've been this.  But if we ever want to spread our creative wings we sometimes have to actually do something about it.  Pull out the paints for your kiddos and give enough time to do lots of paintings, even if it means they take up the counter space while they dry.  Start a creative project and give yourself permission to leave it sitting out until the next day.  I promise, your world will still keep spinning even with a bit of "happy mess" left out. 

8.) Style creative spots in your home. There's something about this basket on my dining room table that does my heart good.  It's really just a collection of favorites. Dried roses from Brett, vintage, thrifted silverware, some favorite cookbooks, and the first branches of spring from the farm.  I could style my home and your home and shop windows for daaaaaaaaays.  It simply feels good to be in a place with a bit of creativity infused, even in simple ways like on the dining room table. 
9.) Be ok with beginnings that don't end.  Yet.  
I started this painting and it's just sitting on the counter.  Will it get loads more attention before I feel like it's "done" or is it done already? I don't know yet.  I'm waiting on the painting to tell me, or my soul to whisper something.  This used to drive me crazy.  If I started a painting on a Tuesday, I wanted it done by Wednesday.  I've discovered that art doesn't happen on a neat, tidy schedule like I think it should.  Rather for me, it happens in snippets of time here and there that all add up to something beautiful. 

10.) Give yourself time and permission to play. 
Last week after announcing my plans to create an online class I immediately wanted to have a 10-step list of the exact steps I needed to do to make this happen.  I wanted perfect projects from beginning to end.  Well, you can imagine the pressure this put on myself.  So instead I made myself step away from planning mode and go into the craft room to simply play.  To pull out the paints and try whatever idea came to mind.  Usually for me this means I'll try one idea, like painting with watercolors, and then that will flow into this idea and that idea and so on.  

My point? This little canvas is one of the most special things to me, I've ever created.  It wasn't planned or on purpose, but came during a session of play.  
(I'll be teaching a lesson on a similar canvas in Gatherings, my online course!)
11.) Have an inspiration wall. 

12.) Use your mantle or a shelf in your home to change as the seasons change, styling it different ways each time. 

What else would you add to the list?
I'm sure I could go on for another 50 points, there are literally so many ways to live creatively.
We'll do a part 2 soon :).

And last, but not least,

The shop is full to the brim with bright, colorful reminders of the creative capacity our lives hold.

How will you live creatively today? 

The rosy in my real life!

Hello friends! I'm here for another edition of "rosy in my real life!"  I tried to number these and do one for every week o...