An Attitude of Gratitude

You guys. I have been silent, writing behind the scenes but afraid to publish what I’m going through. I’m reading, searching, exploring, and my God is blowing my mind. There is so much more out there that I’ve always felt pulled toward but when society told me to shut it down, I did, like a good, nice girl.

But I’m so tired of living this shell of a ‘good’ girl, a ‘nice’ girl, who doesn’t make waves, who doesn’t say things that make others uncomfortable, who constantly overanalyzes everything before she says it to make sure no one is offended, at the detriment to her own soul.

Lately I’m breaking out of this shell, involuntarily. I truly can’t help it. Everything I’m stumbling on is feeding my soul like manna, and I’m so in love with my life and my God and I just want to keep exploring…I want to share everything I’m finding but I’m afraid. Of judgment, of losing loved ones…

Be Thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart…my God has never seemed so close to me, yet I’m realizing I’m creating distance with my religion. I have no ill will and nothing but love and appreciation in my heart for this sweet church that has helped me grow up and done nothing but encourage me. Yet I’m realizing some of the things I’m exploring are in direct conflict with what they practice. So I close my eyes, quiet my spirit, and listen.

My treasure Thou art…I just want my God. I can feel Him in my soul, in my spirit. The English language gives him a male connotation, but really, He’s neither male or female. He’s light, and divinity, and everything that makes life worth living. He isn’t a he, or she…He just….is.

I’ve been surrendering my will, trying to figure out my next steps. I love to create. This feels good, it feels right. I love to encourage, to teach. I love to give hope, to transform ‘garbage’ to ‘art’. It’s all how we perceive things. I put together my Patreon, a website that allows artists to make money through their services, but it didn’t feel quite right. ‘Who am I to beg money for my work’ rang through my head, obnoxious and persistent. This isn’t right. I tried to give it time, thinking this is just how I’m supposed to make money so my husband can follow his dream. Instead my creativity suffered and I consulted my tarot cards. They revealed what I already knew.

Write. Create. Listen to your intuition. Things will happen as they’re supposed to. Quit trying to force things. Temperance. Sweet temperance. I feel called to meditate on this…to me it’s like a crucible, a refinement. Becoming stronger by trials.

Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. I could listen to this song over and over. Overwhelming, never ending reckless love of God…I look at Logan, toddling toward me as he walks past Nate’s truck in a busy parking lot and my heart swells with pride and love and protection. I helped make this beautiful, sweet boy. I would do anything for him. I want nothing but the best for him, I will move heaven and earth to make his dreams come true, yet I know he has to play his part as well. If I can feel this as a parent, imagine what our God must feel towards us, His creation???

My love for my God has never been stronger, but I’m questioning everything…my traditional customs, the usual way I do things. What if there is a different (dare I say–better–??) way of faith than the usual customs and traditions and societal regulations…

I’m realizing the answers I’m so desperately seeking are inside me. So I’m listening to this sweet, still voice inside my soul, that sends whispers to my heart with beacons of hope and talismans of faith…

This sweet, still voice. If I can just pause the incessant chatter of my brain, the deluge of messages from today’s world, find my center and listen, I can find peace.

It takes effort…so much effort. It’s so simply complicated. Breathe in, as deep as you can, and let it out. Over and over. Let go. Just be. Some days are harder than others, but I keep my ‘Will o Wisp’ journal handy and it keeps me on track.

I live my days for this sweet, still voice. She guides me to still waters, and holds the lantern to illuminate my path. I tried so hard to find others to guide me, to tell me the answers and show me the way. I bought and read books, looking for wisdom only to find mirrors.

I’m realizing the answers are inside me. When I take a moment to be still, when I record the moments that speak to me and make me feel–be it happy or angry or sad or determined–that is my answer. This sometimes takes me down the most unorthodox paths. As I was reading Paulo Coelho’s “The Witch of Portobello”, so many sentences are speaking to me. One speaks to me so much that I write it on my bathroom mirror in permanent marker

“Everything is worship if your mind is focused on the present moment”

Yes. So much yes. My worries for tomorrow, my thoughts of yesterday, are nothing but stories my brain is concocting. I take the back roads home from work, and try to let my anxieties go.

Let it go…instead, focus on what I’m doing in this very moment. I slam on the brakes on the gravel road as I look at the doe with her two fawns as I mentally thank my God for this moment that reassures me that all is as it should be. Worrying has always been one of my worst faults. But why? What does worrying accomplish? My brothers don’t seem to worry about anything, and just live life as it comes, and I love their free spirit. What would happen if I ceased worrying? We wouldn’t have hamburger buns for our barbecue? So what…lol. No one comes to the BBQ for the hamburger buns…they come for the company, to enjoy each other’s company!

I’m letting go of inhibitions. I never liked dancing, unless I was thoroughly drunk. Deep down I knew the sacredness of dancing, and I couldn’t let go. Reading this novel, the discussion of the ‘navel’, made me think of belly dancing, and I googled it. There was a beautiful YouTube video talking about how to belly dance, and I loved it. As I moved and swayed to the foreign music, I felt like letting my hair down and free. This wasn’t about sexuality, or fitness, or whether I could hear the beat. This was letting the notes wash over me, seep into my soul, and feeling my inside respond with swaying to the beat, without thinking about it. It was losing myself to the rhythm. I danced, and danced, alone, for almost an hour. At times I caught myself pushing my palms to the ceiling, thanking my God, thankful to be alive. As I finally tired, I felt an impulse to unwind with yoga. As I googled yoga with gratitude, sweet Adrienne popped up. Life is so good, and I am so thankful.

Just a closer walk with Thee <3

Lovely Fool’s Journey

So much has changed I feel like I don’t even recognize myself anymore, in a good way. This year has been such a radical awakening, I almost feel as if I’ve been reborn. Wine has lost it’s glamour over me…and I’ve tried it and it’s just not the same. I had two glasses of wine a few weekends ago and to my surprise I was pretty tipsy. The next morning I woke up and I felt slightly pukey, and my head ached, and it was just…ugh. I hadn’t realized I how much I appreciated getting out of bed, feeling good and rested and getting on with my day. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating on special occasions but now I’m more than content to let the whiskey get a little dust on the bottle.

By no longer dulling my senses every night, my eyes are wide open and I feel like the Universe has just opened itself up to me and revealed so many secrets. I’ve found so many new things I feel deeply called to study, to research, and there’s just not enough time in the day, in a good way. My minutes are packed as full as I can get them with moments that make me happy. I started listening to my inner voice and stopped doing things because “I should” but didn’t really want to. If it feels good, I do it. I wear the black skirt that makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn. I let myself stay up all night planning and figuring things out for our future. I let the laundry stay in the dryer for a moment and lay down on the floor and feel the ground beneath my back, let my muscles and vertebrae settle, and welcome Logan’s sloppy kiss.

As long as I like the results I’m getting, I keep doing whatever it is that makes my soul happy without worrying about my inner lizard (a concept from Martha Beck’s book, Steering by Starlight) griping at me. My inner lizard is Rosie, and she has bright pink sunglasses that match her pink lipstick, she smokes like a chimney and has a tendency for theatrics. Her favorite way to pass the time is to worry about how wrong things will go and what other people might be thinking about us. Now that I know I can tell her to chill, I don’t mind my little lizard. Martha Beck is one of my new favorite authors and I’m only three chapters into her book but I’ve already ordered her other one, Finding Your Own North Star.

I’m exploring religion and spirituality, researching and seeing what feels right deep inside. And I’ve never felt closer to God than I do now. I have so many notes of books and authors I need to read, of artists I want to learn from, and a watercolor class that starts in August. I’m going to learn how to watercolor sunrises and sunsets, because pictures just don’t do justice to what I am blessed to see every day.

I’m definitely still on edge and feeling irritable at times, the itchy feeling like something’s under my skin and I just want to run, or the moments when I feel like I’m being swept away by a tidal wave still catch me off guard. But the more I reach out to people on Instagram and connect with my tribe, the more I realize I’m not alone in this feeling and it will pass. Everything is going to be okay. The sweet voice of Audrey Assad sings this hymn in my mind throughout the day and I love it:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord

Thou my great Father, I Thy true son

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine inheritance, now and always

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart

High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

High King of Heaven, my victory won

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun

Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all…

I feel called to go back through my diaries and journals, to explore these thought processes that weighed me down for so long. I’ve already started going through my diary from when I was 8 years old, and realized so many insights as to why I do/think certain ways today. For example, I had written about reading a book that dealt with grief, and my anger and grief over losing my cat, Spanky. Then I had written that I can’t show my feelings in front of my parents because I don’t want them to think I’m a baby. Ignoring and hiding my true feelings; something I still do to this day. Why? Why do I need to pretend I’m not human? This is something I can let go. By looking back at my sweet, naive 8 year old self, I feel like I can heal a part of my soul.

I also stumbled on a website called Patreon, that allows artists to fund their creativity. I’m content with my job, working 24 hours as a nurse, but I would love to work toward generating enough income that my husband could quit his job and work at home full-time, raising cattle, hay, or whatever he feels he needs to do with these 80 acres. So I’ve been slowly pulling this website together.

There are four tiers to my Patreon, and my vision is to have it be an expansion of this blog, a ‘behind the scenes and gifts’ for those who feel called to help us work towards our dream of building up this land with livestock and a greenhouse, raising our boys, learning the ‘olden ways’ of doing things and sharing all this with you. This time last year I truly wondered if life was really worth living. Now I have so much I want to do and learn…Hebrew and Latin and composting, making paper from the birds nest that was in our barbecue, creating my art and watching my boys grow…I wonder how I’m going to get it all done in the next 50 years.

The first tier is Logan’s tier, and it involves me going through and writing about my old journal entries. I’ve thought about this for the last few months, because there are things in my diaries I’m not proud of, and sharing them with the world obviously invites scrutiny. Then I think about finding someone who was going through something similar, and the hope it gave me, the strength. To me that makes it worthwhile…to maybe hold a lantern for some sweet young girl starting out on her own path. The only regrets I have for my actions is the pain I’ve caused others–everything I’ve been through has taught me something and made me stronger and wiser.

By going through these entries there is also a sweet healing component. Almost like my spirit is there with my 8 year old self, telling me that all is going to be okay, and finally releasing that burden I insisted on carrying around with me all this time. I’m gaining so much insight and respect for my parents and others around me. I didn’t realize all they shouldered when I was young, but their grace in difficult situations has taught me so much and I am so thankful for them.

This first tier is for anyone who wants to contribute a $1 or more a month. I’ll still blog on this site, but some of the posts will only be for “Patreons” to see. I’m downsizing my social media, no longer focusing as much on Twitter and Facebook, and will focus on Instagram (one account only–I’m no longer going to do an account for home life and a separate one for art). It’s too much to try to keep up with while working and the boys, the animals, etc.

The second tier is Dillon’s tier. Dillon is my charismatic little artist, and he loves to interact with people as he creates his art. For $10 or more a month, Patreons can watch us livestream at least once a week and interact with us while watching us play with art. I love doing this because sometimes I’m not sure what direction to go and I can ask people watching for their input!

The third tier is my tier. For $20 or more a month, I will hand make ‘happy mail’ and send it you at least once a month…I love to share quotes that I find uplifting and encouraging, and have sent happy mail to a pen pal in Oklahoma City with real sunflower petals on it from our driveway. You also get the previous two tiers. I’m limiting this one to 20 people, since I can only make so many things a month 🙂

The fourth tier is Nate’s tier, and is for those who want to pay $100 or more a month. Nate is incredible at handtooling leather, and will create a bookmark or something similar for you. I tried to get him to agree to videoing a happy dance and uploading it to Facebook, but that was a hard no!

So we’re just throwing this out to the universe, ignoring Rosie as she whispers, “Do you really think people would be interested?!” And seeing what happens…

You can view our Patreon page here–let me know what you think!

Whatever will be, will be…

I am loving this app, Procreate. It makes it so easy to create designs that I can upload to my Society6 website. Add in the Apple Pencil, and I am in heaven. I made the above over this weekend. Saturday was a busy day for me, and I felt like I got a lot accomplished. Dillon and I cleaned his room and threw out/gave away a bunch of toys. I worked on the canvas below, and made the above.

Sunday I woke up with a headache. It felt like a tension headache, and I knew I just needed to rest. I took Motrin and a muscle relaxer and just let myself sleep. At first I felt like I wasted most of the day, but now I know I needed to catch up on my rest and I feel back to my normal self.

I’m slacking on my devotions and quiet time. I can tell because I can feel my anxiety and tension increasing, and I feel overwhelmed and scattered. I love my planner, because it helps me get things out of my head and onto paper. Nate and several other people I know can keep things straight in their head, but I can’t. I can’t even remember what I did last week on Monday without looking back at my journal or planner. I have to remember I can plan all I want, but ultimately God has control over what’s to come, and I have to know that whatever will be, will be…

Red, White and You Blog Hop

I am very excited to participate in my first blog hop, courtesy of Kate’s Crafty Closet. I “met” the owner on Periscope–Tony, who makes the most gorgeous cards. More importantly, Dillon (my 7 year old) was able to watch a guy crafting and realized crafting is not just for girls. He instantly fell in love with Tony and watching him work! You can follow Tony on Periscope with the handle @tonymac1974.

I love the Fourth of July, the fireworks, parades, barbecues, and celebrating our country. When Tony announced the theme for the blog hop I knew instantly what I wanted to do–a flag with the words “Home of the Free because of the Brave” somewhere on my work.

I didn’t have a flag stencil so I decided to try making one with my Cricut, using the holographic vinyl (all links are affiliate links) like this one: Cricut Holographic Vinyl on Amazon. This is the first time I’ve done this so I was hoping it would work!

“Weeding” the stencil. I decided to save the stars.

I was participating in Tony’s Friday evening Periscope Art Train, so I decided to work on it during my portion.

Let the creating begin!

You can watch me creating this on Periscope here!

For the words, I used my iPad, Apple Pencil, and the app Procreate to draw what I wanted to say. I just started using Procreate this last week so I’m still learning. I settled on this:

Next I wanted to print it on tissue paper–another process that requires some prayer! I use a glue stick to tack down the tissue paper onto printer paper and then feed it through. I have to be careful because I don’t want to jam up my printer. My mother in law bought me this printer for Christmas last year and I love it (thank you Becky!! <3)!!! It’s a Canon Pixma TS5020 and so far it’s been able to do whatever crazy ideas I’ve come up with! And it’s less than $100, which is a steal in my opinion.

I love printing on white tissue paper because when I glue it down with medium, it dries clear. I sprayed it with Krylon Fixatif to try to keep the ink from smearing when I used the wet mediums.

As you can see, creating is not a simple process–it’s a lot of trial and error and happy mistakes 🙂

I continued working on it a little bit the next night, Saturday night, during Lil Deb’s Creative Crew Art Block. Second Periscope

I didn’t quite like how it was looking…it was divided into two parts with the flag on top and the wording and ribbon on the bottom. I also wasn’t happy that my ink smudged. I decided to go to bed and look at it with fresh eyes in the morning.

So today I woke up and looked at it again. I knew instantly what I wanted to do. I had some parchment paper that I could use and if I overlapped it slightly onto the flag, it would help my piece look more cohesive.

I carefully traced the words I had written and glued the parchment paper down.

I sealed it with a coat of Golden Regular Gel Gloss and let it dry. I’m thinking of selling it in In my Etsy shop, along with the stencil. You can also check out my work on My Society6 site. From July 2nd to July 4th, use promo code HAPPY4TH to get 40% off all purchases on the Society6 website!

Let me know what you think in the comments below, and make sure to check out these other amazing, crafty bloggers!!

Anthony Macaluso – Kate’s Crafty Closet

Priscilla Joseph – Nubble Light Designs

Sarmin Lancaster – Funtastic Crafts

Lisa Bedigian – Royal Pumpkin Art

My Favorite Art Journaling Supplies

Circa 2013. I’m new to Pinterest, and I’m seeing all these amazing pins about art journaling. I pin each one I like until I decide that I’m going to try this. I jump in my Jeep and drive to Michael’s. I wander the aisles, trying to figure out where ‘guess-oh’ would be. I ask the saleslady. “Guess-oh? You mean gesso?” Oh. It’s pronounced jess-oh. She leads the way to the acrylic/watercolor/oil painting aisle. Oy vey there’s a lot to choose from!

Fast forward to today, and art journaling is one of my biggest tools to sort out my thoughts and decompress from adulting. It’s overwhelming to get started, and there are so many different items to choose from. I want to share the art journaling supplies I use the most and the items that if I had to do it over again, I would buy first. IMG_0094I tried to stick to supplies you wouldn’t normally find around the house. I didn’t put an art journal in here because with the gesso, you can make any paper you want your journal…take an old magazine, glue a few pages together, give it a coat of gesso, and you’re ready to go!

1) Clear or white gesso to prep pages

2) Matte medium or mod podge to use as a glue for collaging paper

3) Gel gloss to “seal” your pages and help create layers. By sealing with gel gloss, you don’t have to worry as much about smearing your previous layers. It goes on milky but dries clear. If you want you can create texture by drawing in wet gel gloss and letting it dry.

These first three are sometimes called ‘mediums’ in the art world.

4) Water brushes are great–they’re portable and easy to use. Just fill with water and gently squeeze the reservoir.

5) Heat gun-I’m impatient and like to speed up the drying time by using this tool. You can substitute a hair dryer instead, too.

6) Water soluble wax pastels-I like Caran D’aiche but there are other brands available too. You can use them like a crayon, or use your water brush to pick up some color. You can also mix these with the mediums to get more texture and interesting effects.

7) Faber Castell gelatos are one of my favorites. I love to use these to make backgrounds and I also mix them with mediums to use for getting more textures. Like the wax pastels you can use them like a crayon or use them with the water brush.

8) White gel pen-Sakura gelly roll pens are my favorite. It’s amazing how adding some white hightlihgts makes any page pop–more vibrant and interesting to look at.

9) My favorite pen to write in my art journal with is Micron archival ink pens. They come in different sizes–03, 05, and 08 are the ones I use the most. Archival ink is important because once it is dry, you can work on top of it with other liquid mediums and materials and it shouldn’t smear.

10) Last, are my Winsor Newton watercolors. They sell several different sized sets, from small ones designed to be portable to large sets. They have excellent pigment for a new artist and aren’t super expensive, especially if you take advantage of a sale or use a coupon.

These are just my personal faves. Everyone has their own opinion, but if I had to choose, this are my choices. What would you have on your list? Leave me a comment! 🙂

 

Rainy Days & Mondays

I stumbled on the Carpenters (I’m realizing I like my parents’ generation of music–Journey (so deliciously cheesy!) to Tom Petty (I feel like he just gets me) to now the Carpenters. I woke up this morning to a rainy Monday morning. This wonderful weekend flew by and I almost felt like I had a mild hangover when the boys woke me up–(I need to drink more water and less coffee/tea!) and am just feeling melancholy.

I don’t think it’s something to be medicated. I think it’s just a normal part of being human–the rainy day makes me want to do comforting things. A hot cup of coffee, sharing a blanket with my boys, and open my Bible that I have honestly not opened in a week or so. I went to Church Saturday evening…it’s so interesting to me how insidious the devil is. Dillon and I were running late and Dillon was pretty tired. I asked him if he just wanted to go home and he told me no, he wanted to go to Church. They have an amazing kids’ church, and Dillon had a blast the last time he went, but the last few Sundays he has been insisting on going to the adult’s sermon. I love the men in their 60s/70s that come up to him. Dillon has the same snap button cowboy shirts that they are wearing! But my point is, it’s so easy to convince myself that I can just go next week, and this is exactly what I need to NOT do.

The sermon was great. We are created to worship. We all worship…something. People tend to think of worshiping as going to church and singing songs about God, but it’s more than that. It’s whatever you spend your money on, your time doing. I heard someone say whatever you spend your money on, there your heart is. I thought about it, and it’s true. I haven’t had a haircut in who knows how long, but I will happily fork over money for the boys to get theirs cut. I have to be careful because Hobby Lobby and Michaels are so tempting and it’s easy to get carried away, buying art supplies I honestly don’t need.

My God is a jealous god, and rightfully so. Jealousy might have a negative connotation, but I honestly would feel hurt if God didn’t care about my love for Him. But He does. We were created to worship, and we were created by Him. I struggle with humility, the need for others’ approval, and doing everything for His glory. To paraphrase, “I must become less, and He must become more”.

I realized this morning I haven’t done a devotional since June 12th. So this rainy Monday morning melancholiness is a good thing. It pushes me into His arms, when I’ve been wandering a little too far away…

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers are still my devotionals.

Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” I love reading the notes in my Bible. “To be cheerful is to be ready to greet others with a welcome, a word of encouragement, an enthusiasm for the task at hand, and a positive outlook on the future. Such people are as welcome as pain-relieving medicine.”

Wow. That is perfect for me to remember as I go into work this afternoon. A large part of my job is doing patient interviews, assessing their pain, working the doctors and staff to implement medications and non-medication pain relief such as massage, TENs & other therapist driven pain relieving measures, aromatherapy, etc. But how important is distraction? I remember the last interview I did, a patient who was a little difficult to work with because she is so honest with her thoughts and emotions. I enjoyed talking with her about our common interest in art, and as I eventually wrapped up our interview, she asked me to ask the floor nurse for her pain pill. “I got so caught up in our conversation I forgot about our pain!” How amazing is that? Not that I think I deserve a pat on the back but the fact that just by sitting and talking with her, enjoying each other’s company was enough to override her brain and nerves telling her that her recently surgically repaired knee was inflamed is amazing!

I love being around people who are encouraging, cheerful, enthusiastic about getting the job done (it has to be done–why not have fun while doing it??) and look at the future with a sense that no matter what happens, everything will be okay.

I love being around people like that, and I want to be a person like this.

I remember how I felt this time last year. I was miserable, and although I know I put on a happy face for acquaintances, those who knew me best probably didn’t think I was the funnest person to be around, and I don’t blame them. My spirit was overwhelmed, crushed, dried up. You can’t give love freely if you don’t love yourself.

My Bible tells me this verse is closely associated with Proverbs 15:13, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Yes! This is so, so true. Like I wrote yesterday, by changing my negative, pessimistic outlook on life, I unconsciously replaced my heartache with joy. I don’t have to think about smiling at strangers when I’m practicing an attitude of gratitude, I just want to and so I do. But last year, thinking that I honestly didn’t want to be on this Earth anymore, I was so inwardly focused I didn’t even notice the people around me. I was sucked into my cesspool of misery.

This verse has an annotation that directs me to Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Being anxious is one of my biggest downfalls. I worry about everything, real and imaginary. I’ve always had an inclination to do this and somehow convinced myself at some point that if I think about something bad happening and how I would handle it, it won’t come true. This is so morbid, and even extends to worrying about the boys and Nate when they drive 3 hours away to see his mom. What would I do if they were in a car accident and gone to me forever? The thought brings tears to my eyes and my shoulders and neck tighten up. Why do I do this? Circling back to Sarah Young’s devotional for today–God is saying, “Jenni–stop trying to micromanage My job and enjoy the life you’ve been blessed with!” The idea that I’m powerful enough to micromanage God is so absurd it makes me want to laugh and shake my head. What I should be doing instead is covering them in prayer as they travel, asking God and His angels to guide them and protect them from harm. I can relax, He has made me so many promises and hasn’t broken one yet. He promised me He wants what is best for me and so I can let go of this worry and the subsequent anxiety…

This leads to Isaiah 50:4. I don’t get it, so I read up to the beginning of the chapter. God is talking about Israel, who has turned to other nations for help, and essentially rejecting God. This is crazy because God is almighty and powerful, only wants what is best for us, and only asks us to love Him in return. But by turning to other nations, Israel compromised and sold themselves out and fell into sin.

What’s even worse is that God had promised to fight for Israel, if they would only trust Him. This is obvious in hindsight, which is 20/20. But how many times have I looked to other things to protect me, to fight for me, leading God to say to me (I imagine a father and a wayward daughter)

“When I came [to rescue you], why was there no one?

When I called, why was there no one to answer?

Was My arm too short to deliver you?

Do I lack the strength to rescue you?

By a mere [command] I dry up the sea,

I turn rivers into a desert…

I clothe the heavens with darkness and make sackcloth [a very coarse, rough fabric like burlap] its covering

(This is beyond confusing–according to Google and Barnes’ Notes on the Bible–“Alluding to clouds. Sackcloth was a coarse and dark cloth which was usually worn as an emblem of mourning…to say, therefore, that the heaves were clothed with sackcloth, is one of the most striking and impressive figures which can be conceived.” The Pulpit Commentary says, “God means to assert his power of leaving all nature in absolute darkness, if he so choose-a power necessarily belonging to him who said, “Let there be light; and there was light”. Yikes–God is reminding us just how powerful He is…why are we turning others for help instead of Him??)I keep reading and my conscience prickles. Isaiah 50:10-11, “Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust isn’t he name of the Lord and rely on their God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.” This doesn’t sound like a loving God at all! I read the footnotes:”If we walk by our own light and reject God’s, we become self-sufficient, and the result of self-sufficiency is torment. When we place confidence in our own intelligence, appearance, or accomplishments instead of in God, we risk torment later when these strengths fade.” Well, that makes sense. And I’m completely guilty of relying on my own self instead of looking to God. I need to become less, and He needs to become more.

An Attitude of Gratitude

My mommy juice now is tea. A glass of kombucha (fermented tea) a day, and a hot cup of tea while I work or while I’m winding down for bed. Tension Tamer is great, and I like Yogi’s Invigorating tea with the flavor of nectarines. Yogi is fun too because their tags have sentiments on them. Today I used two bags and they read, “Spread the light; be the lighthouse” and “An attitude of gratitude brings opportunities”.

I like the sentiments and I decide to glue them into my planner. As I flip the page, I realize the sticker I put on yesterday reads, “Have an attitude of gratitude”. I know this is a common sentiment, but it’s pretty crazy my tea ends up having the same phrase on the tag. I believe in signs, so here goes.

I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my life, positive changes. It’s amazing how things happened when I decided I needed a change. I love my life right now…I still get overwhelmed and frustrated, but it’s so much easier to put things into perspective.

Taking the boys out of daycare has been amazing. I look forward to going to work, to interacting with my patients. Then I look forward to coming home and slipping into bed to wake up to my boys the next morning. The two extra days to stay on top of laundry and household chores have been so good.

I’m so thankful to have a husband like Nate, who lives for his family and holds himself to such a high standard. As I watch him check the oil in my Jeep, I catch myself thinking, “Man, he’s hot…” Yet he’s the first one to jump in and do laundry and cook dinner, doing what needs to be done through the day to provide for his family financially and then coming home and working tirelessly, without complaint.

I’m thankful for my boys. Logan is at the stage (I say the last hurdle before he’s more independent!) where I have to keep a constant vigil to keep him from harm’s way. Walking the fine line between letting him learn even though it means he might get a bump or two. Dillon is such a tender hearted young man–he looks after his mama like his dad does. He knows I get lost in my head sometimes and tend to forget things, but I when I remember that I forgot something, he’s right there next to me, “Here it is, Mom. I grabbed it for you.”

Dillon told me he doesn’t like feeding the animals in the morning–the smell of the kibble makes him gag. So he asked if his job could be getting Logan ready in the morning–getting him dressed. He is such a good big brother and Logan worships him. I love the relationship they’re forming and I pray it lasts forever.

Last New Year’s Eve, I was such a hot mess but I couldn’t see a way out. It truly felt like this was just the way it was, and I was helpless. Now I know this is a lie. My mom and stepdad write down their hopes for the year every year on New Year’s Eve–not resolutions per se, but what they want to see manifested. I honestly don’t remember what I wrote down, but I do remember feeling disgusted with myself, with my drinking, and how it was affecting my relationship with my loved ones, and more importantly, the way it was affecting my self esteem. But I didn’t know how to let it go, because I needed a crutch to get me through my self-created unhappiness. Ironically, the alcohol was the main contributor of that depression and misery.

I couldn’t imagine how things could possibly get better, but SJ and Mom said it doesn’t matter–just write down what you want to have happen. So I did. I knew the morning rush & commute to get to work was too much and my mental health was suffering. I truly thought that was just the way it had to be–a depressing, disheartening lie.

Mom and SJ flew home to Maine, taking the scroll that had all of our hopes for 2018 with them. We went back to our regular routines, and while I tried to cut back on my wine, I wasn’t successful. But through a sequence of events since I started this blog, things have fallen into place. I went from feeling miserable because I felt like I was an exhausted hamster, running a wheel and not accomplishing anything to feeling…joyful and content.

Really, not a whole lot has changed…I’m still working in the same job, for the same people, just 16 hours less a week. But that small change that I was so afraid to ask for, coupled with changing how I think about things, has made all the difference.

My mindset has changed. I’ve listened to countless podcasts, read blogs, self-help books, and found my faith and my church (again). I’ve realized 3 core truths that I truly believe. I might find more eventually, which would be nice. Each truth has felt like a key, a way to release old, or even false beliefs.

1) I don’t need to worry about what others think about me or my life. The only ones I need to concern myself with is my God, and myself. As long as I can go to bed at the end of the day and be at peace with myself and my actions for the day, it doesn’t matter what other people think or do, say or believe. This might sound selfish, but I’m realizing it’s the opposite. By giving myself permission to be true to me and stop trying to please everyone, I open myself up to being real with people, and I find it’s easier to love others when I’m at peace with myself.

2) Everything is neutral. Alcohol is neutral. Death is neutral. It’s how we think about alcohol and death that makes them “good”, “bad”, etc. Dillon asked me if alcohol is bad. I told him no, alcohol is not bad. But just like anything you try in life, you have to ask yourself if you like the results you’re getting. Having a glass of wine is not bad. Having ten glasses of wine isn’t necessarily bad, as long as you don’t mind the results you get (which will likely be a nasty hangover, but I digress!) 🙂 I finished explaining to Dillon that I didn’t like the results I was getting with my drinking, and so I made the choice to stop. I told him it didn’t mean I was never going to drink again, but my relationship with Dillon was suffering because of me drinking wine, so I stopped drinking.

This is cognitive behavioral therapy–the think/feel/act cycle to be specific. I heard about this concept in Rachel Hart’s podcast, Take a Break, and it was revolutionary to me–it changed the way I viewed wine and everything else. Your life is pretty much black and white; your thoughts are what color your world. When I described my world as bleak and gray, it was mostly due to my pessimistic outlook on things.

3) You have passions for a reason. For so long I shut myself down whenever I felt creative. I would tell myself, “You’re not an artist. You don’t know how to draw. You’re being silly…” Why? Why was I squelching that little whisper, pulling away from my soul tugging at me, urging me to create? When I gave myself permission to play, and stopped comparing my beginning to someone else’s middle (comparing my beginner art to those with years of experience), and just enjoyed the process, a whole new world opened up to me and it was amazing! Colors and textures, the smell of gesso and another unfurling of a white page or canvas to reveal hidden beauty, playing with new ideas and going down rabbit trails of “What if I try this…” and “What would happen if I do that…” I don’t do it for the accolade or the money. It’s the joy of the process and I could literally sit and play and create all day, everyday.

Growing up, I had a passion for medicine that led me to becoming a nurse. I still like being a nurse, but I don’t feel a passion to keep going to school to further my career. I don’t feel called to return to the ER. I’m content where I’m at. I get to sit and talk to patients, something I love. I get to have a job that allows me the flexibility to make my family a priority. For my coworkers and my boss, Sue, I am at a loss to say how thankful I am.

When I talk to teenagers, I tell them to follow their passions. They do not have to follow the cliche of graduate high school, go to college, get married, have babies and work for corporate America. They have interests for a reason! Pursue whatever tugs at your heart, pulls at your mind, and makes you feel alive! Do it with reckless abandon and everything will fall into place. You might not be a millionaire, but you also won’t be wasting your life doing something you hate, counting down the years to retirement.

I am grateful for my life, and the change to soak up every second of it and try to capture these precious moments in words and pictures so someday I can look back on a life well lived, and a life I loved living.

Beautiful, Messy Life

Last weekend was a busy one with the Kid’s Fishing Day Saturday morning, our neighbor/Dillon’s classmate’s Colton’s birthday party at the Children’s Museum Saturday afternoon, church Saturday evening, and then a start of summer BBQ at Dillon’s school. I knew Dillon was tired but I didn’t want to not go to the small BBQ and be rude.

This weekend was more challenging than most for me. Usually Nate is able to go with us as we do things around town. It’s amazing how having another person makes it 10x easier. But it was his weekend on call and ironically, just as we were getting ready to go do something, he inevitably would get called in. He was called 5 times this weekend, working over 16 hours in 2 days after having worked all week long.

We went to the Kid’s Fishing Day at Wadsworth and met up with a classmate and friend of Dillon’s, Amaris & her family. Sweet Amaris is so good with Dillon and Logan and is the sweetest little mother hen. My dad is involved with Walleyes Unlimited so was helping out with the Fishing Day. With Grandpa’s coaching, Dillon is getting pretty good at casting!

Grandpa Scott teaching Dillon how to cast

Afterwards we loaded up and headed to Target to get Colton’s birthday present, and then headed over to the Children’s Museum.

A science experiment about mixing colors…

Dillon needed to know what was going to happen, who was going to be there, what were we going to do after…as he peppered me with questions from the backseat, I tried to explain to him it didn’t matter who was there, we would have fun even if we were the only ones! He reminded me of ME when I was younger…having to know every detail, trying to mentally prepare himself for what was going to happen. I’m not sure why we do this, instead of being in the moment and taking it as it comes. Instead we let our worry rob us of the joy of living in the moment.

We went to the BBQ and I enjoyed myself. Nate got called in once again, so I was on my own with the boys again. It was at the school, and Dillon’s classmates’ families were amazing and so helpful, taking Logan for a bit so I could eat. We managed to get them fed, and then they went outside to play. It was hot and dry–perfect for water balloons.

The time flew by and before I knew it it was time to get home. I told Dillon to pick up the busted balloon pieces like his classmates, and he realized his good time was coming to an end and lost it. Full meltdown. I knew he was tired, but this was way out of proportion. Then he started to talk so negatively about himself…His angry tirade continued as I loaded him and Logan up in my Jeep and headed home. “I hate myself!”…”No one likes me!” “I wish I was dead!” I glanced at him in the rear view mirror, trying to figure out where on Earth this was coming from. We made it home and I put a tired Logan to bed, then sat with Dillon and talked. I didn’t know what to tell him, so I just told him that those thoughts were from the devil, who hates us and God and wants to make God sad by taking us away from Him. By letting ourselves believe these negative thoughts, we are letting the devil win. I could see this slowly sink in.

Dillon and I talked, and I told him the iPad and PS4 needed to be put away. I don’t know if he’s watching something that might be triggering these ideas, but it’s summer anyway and there are better things to be doing than screen time. We cuddle until he’s calm, and Nate came home.

We talk, venting our frustrations about the 17 hours he spent working this weekend instead of being there with us, about Dillon’s meltdown, the upcoming week. He’s exhausted, and so am I, but dinner, laundry, and little boys don’t take care of themselves. We get the boys fed, bathed, and put to bed. We fold one last load of laundry and mutually agree we’re done for the evening. I am overwhelmed, and I don’t try to hide my anxiety. I’m sure everyone thinks I’m a hot mess most of the time, which isn’t far from the truth. But I’ve got an amazing husband and Jesus, and together we continue to raise up our boys and build our dreams.

I tried to unwind with my art, but I just felt…stuck. Like something was plugged up. So I did some yoga to try to loosen up my stiff back, then went upstairs. As I passed through the kitchen I noticed the lightning storm, and couldn’t help being mesmerized by it. As I watched the lightning flash, I was finally still enough to let my mind work through everything I was feeling. I went back downstairs.

So I’m sitting here in the dark, the lightning settling down, listening to worship music. I set it to random and the first song was King of My Heart, a song I feel speaks to my soul. I feel like I’m in this plateau, this middle place, like I’m stagnating and I know exactly why. I am still not giving up my need for anesthetizing myself, I’m not trusting God’s plan for me, and this only leads to anxiety. Watching Dillon, it was like he was acting out how I felt inside. I was trying to take him place to place, so he could have fun, because I love him. And instead of trusting me, he was questioning me every step of the way, letting his negative self talk get in the way of having a good time with his friends. Just like God is trying to lead me to better places, and I’m questioning Him and and doubting His plan for me. No wonder I get so anxious…

I signed up for Kelly Rae Robert’s online class that started June 1st. The purpose is to reveal the negative way we talk to ourselves without realizing it. I opened today’s email and read it. Divine intervention–I read it to Dillon in terms he can understand. We decide we’re going to make our own rock–a symbol to carry to remind ourselves–him to be joyful in how he talks to himself and me to have faith in God that He will work everything out.

We worked together and made our rocks. We’re still working on it, but I’m hopeful we can change this negativity. If we wouldn’t talk to others this way, then why do we do it to ourselves?

A Mother’s Heart

a mother's heart

My mom always says growing older is not for the faint of heart, but I’m realizing being a mom isn’t either. It has a way of revealing my insecurities and doubts, magnifying my shortcomings, and encouraging me to be a better person.

Dillon is getting older, and with that more independence. He struggles with containing his emotions and has a temper that gets him into trouble. Yet he has a heart of gold and is hardest on himself; a difficult combination to figure out how to discipline.

I remember when my brother was about Dillon’s age, he stole a piece of candy from the restaurant in Shelby. My parents saw it and made him take it back and apologize. He never did it again. I remember my other brother stealing a piece of gum from the grocery store, but he got caught. My mom picked him up and after a good scare from the friendly police officer, he never did it again.

Dillon is about the same age as they both were, and the temptation was too much for him as well. He saw a TracFone cell lying around and decided he needed it. Nate saw it and made him return it right away, but still the feeling resides–are we failing as parents?

This world has changed so much since I was in high school in 2000. Cell phones were around then, and I had one, but the only game it had on it was Snake. There was no apps to download, no sexting…

I wonder how we keep our kids from making mistakes that could have a ripple effect on the rest of their lives. Discipline–are we too lenient? Too strict? Spanking doesn’t really work with Dillon, and I believe he’s too old for that anyway. How do we get him to understand with every action, good and bad, comes consequences?

Being a parent is scary–the responsibility to we have to God, our families, and society is huge.

I initially made this background last weekend. I didn’t know quite where I was going with it at the time. Then a few days later Dillon and I went to a BBQ and he was exhausted from a weekend of too much and had an epic meltdown. We came home and I had a little meltdown of my own. I reached out to a mom’s Facebook group and was met with reassurance and advice from women who have been there.

Then I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this piece–that would be named ‘A Mother’s Heart’. I wanted it to be a little shabby, a touch beat up, but a color palette of hope. My process video is on YouTube here, showing how I made it. I originally had glued black beaded lace but decided I didn’t like it…it didn’t quite flow, so I tore it off. The hot glue made some of the canvas peel up, and I could have covered it up, but I loved the effect it gave. The strips of paper are actually tea bags that I rinsed off and dried. The cardboard from the heart came from a package that I received (it was the backing).

The video is sped up 20x and is a little shaky at times…sorry!

My Stencil Art Portfolio

Here is a collection of my art work using stencils from The Crafter’s Workshop (TCW), Tim Holtz, Heidi Swapp, etc.

This was one of my first mixed media experiments. I made this for my brother who was living with us and going through a rough time. We both love Journey and the ‘This End Up” sticker was a joke. The white is modeling paste through stencils. For the canvas, I used the top of a pizza box, sprayed it with water, and ripped away some of the paper to get a grungy look. I used ink sprays for the background color.

I made this one for my other brother who served in the Army Infantry and had just come home from a grueling Iraq deployment. He had survivor’s guilt and my heart hurt for him. He finds strength through his music. I wanted to tell him I was here for him and that I loved him but I didn’t know the right words…

These first few are really emotionally heavy!! I first started art journaling as a way of dealing with my emotions, before I started drinking heavily. My best work back then was the work that I did when I didn’t think and just created what I was feeling inside. I promise I will lighten up after these!

This page I did after trying to have baby number 2 for over a year and then having a miscarriage. This was one of my darker times, and even though I hadn’t gone to church or had a real close relationship to God in over 11 years, I turned to Him then. The tabs read, “Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

Looking back now, God had a plan all along. We were in the middle of a stressful time–I was emotionally and mentally worn down from working long hours as an ER nurse and we were in the middle of trying to sell our house and buy a new one–a stressful time since it was our dream home and we had to scrape to come up with 10%. But by His grace we made it and a month after we moved in, I was pregnant with Logan.

This is a playful one–the pink word is glitter glue and reads ‘meraki’ which is supposed to mean to ‘do something with soul, creativity, or love, to put something of yourself into your work’. The white is modeling paste and TCW stencils, and I believe the flowers are too.

This one is an unfinished project. Sometimes I create a background and leave it, only to find it years later and it’s the perfect timing to finish it. This was made with Faber Castell’s Gelatos and Tim Holtz’s stencils and tissue paper.

This is another work in progress. I created the face and hair out of Sennelier oil pastels, various mediums for the background, and the words are tissue paper! The body is one of my favorite stencils by The Crafter’s Workshop…it reads ‘Art is just another way of expressing our innermost thoughts into concrete media. Where form and function come together in beauty, color and shape. We put our feelings and experiences onto paper canvas, surfaces of all kinds. Allowing ourselves to release and surrender to this all encompassing force. This need to register what was today what might be tomorrow. And what was yesterday and the day before that.”

It is the perfect stencil to add texture and I need to buy a new one!!

One of my recent creations for my Skillshare class/video tutorial. I love this page so much because I had no plan really for the right side of the page after I finished the left side. So I put it down, went upstairs and spent time with my family, then went downstairs, prayed, put on worship music, and this just came out. Intro to Mixed Media Art Journaling Skillshare Class

This was my most recent creation. I love how the colors evolved and started to remind me of unicorns. All of my life I’ve strived to be a ‘good’ girl, a ‘nice’ girl, to not make waves and try to make everyone happy and make everyone like me. But that’s not possible, and I’m done wasting my energy worrying about it 🙂 I was really fired up after reading some of A.W. Tozer’s writings when I created this, if you couldn’t tell from my Instagram post below!

I added my sister, Ronda, because this is what I needed to hear when I was a teenager, feeling so self-conscious and awkward.

Why do we try to conform to fit in? We hide away the best parts of ourselves so we don’t stand out and tell ourselves it’s wrong to desire what we truly yearn for. We settle for a so-so life because it’s “safe” and believe that’s how we’re meant to live. I don’t want my generation to be “nice”. I want my generation to be passionate about whatever means something to them!!

“Refuse to be average. Let your heart soar as high as it will.” -A.W. Tozer

@ronda__roo

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#motivation #awtozer #hope #desire #life #lifequotes