Our Weekend (aka that time I got excited about fall. Again.)

The parenthetical title could also read “aka that time I got excited about fall and took 8,000 pictures on my iPhone” But I thought that might be a little long…

You know how in that wonderful 1996 cinematic adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen, the ridiculous Mrs. Elton says, “…do you know who I just adore? Who I want to wrap up and put in my pocket???” Well, her answer is Jane Fairfax, but of course, my version of that question would not be “who” ((isn’t it supposed to be “whom?” I am 99% sure she says “who” but I’m thinking it ought to be “whom”… oh well)) but “what.” And the answer would, of course, be autumn. Sigh! That glorious season… which I have already waxed poetic about here((And by “waxed poetic” I mean, rambled on a lot about with an excessive use of all caps…)) 

BUT STILL. Can one really ramble too much about fall? If your answer is yes, then you should probably leave and never come back. ((Such people usually like summer best… Anyone can like summer. It’s the vanilla of the seasons. Well, that’s how I feel when fall comes back anyway…)) But autumn? Autumn is a whole feast. There’s enough chill to wear boots and scarves and drink hot, frothy beverages, enough sun to smile, enough rain to merit staying inside OR go out and be cozy elsewhere ((i.e. Starbucks, Barnes & Noble… Borders if it still existed)). It’s a feast for the eyes with all the color, and a feast for the soul too. Don’t you just feel like some mysterious and magical adventure is about to start when it’s autumn? It seems like every mysterious and magical story or movie I love begins in autumn, or at least it feels like it does. ((Movies that take place in England in summer don’t count, because half the time it DOES feel like autumn with all the rain and chilly weather they get.))

But just to prove it, here are some examples…

And that’s just a small sampling. At the very least, they make me feel like fall. And that’s just movies of course. Books don’t exactly have trailers, so… you know…

And we had a thoroughly and delightfully autumnal experience this weekend, when we went over to visit my parents. ((Same weekend of Ethan’s birthday party…))  Here, of course, I must be referring to the covered bridge festival at Bridgeton. Aaaaaaand cue excessive amounts of phone pictures…

photo 4 photo 5 photo 3 photo 2 photo 1

Yes. Lucy’s jacket is a bunny. Isn’t it freaking adorable?!?! It gives “chubby bunny” a whole new meaning… HA. Here you also may find my mom and dad and husband… and some glorious mums.

photo 13 photo 11 photo 9 photo 8 photo 7 photo 10 photo 14 photo 16

What are these things?

1. Super cute painted boards for measuring your children’s heights as they grow.

2. Beautiful, handmade/painted bench, which I am still pining away for, even though we have no room for such a thing in our apartment…

3. Pretty, colorful jars full of flavored honey sticks. A happy thing to look at, but I confess to having no desire to try them. My sugar consumption is extremely intentional at covered bridge festivals; honey sticks are just a waste of time compared to elephant ears, fudge, and giant, homemade-by-Amish-people pretzels.

4. Lucy shopping for purses… and by “shopping” I mean, “taste-testing.” She found none to her taste… and also she only carries big purses, like her momma.

5. “I moustache you a question, but I’ll shave it for later.” I mean, you’ve probably seen that before, but puns are so wonderful!

6. Our Nest pillow- oh, how I wanted it with all my heart!! HOWEVER, it was $40. Seriously?! For a pillow that was decidedly not handmade or anything like, and most likely imported from China. Who do they think they are- Pier 1?

7. Lucy. And her crazy eyes.

And also, my dad bought this…

Because he's a minister. HA. Get it?
Because he’s a minister. HA. Get it?

Obviously, I have inherited my love of cheesy humor genetically. Anyway, I love days full of beauty, like this one. Hopefully, you can glimpse some of it through my lacking and imperfect skills of photography. ((“Photography” being a term I use extremely loosely.)) 

Of course, the other lovely thing is that my mother is a master of decorating, and decorating creatively mostly with things she already has… So, I decided to snap a few quick pictures of their house before we left to go home…

photo 2 photo 3 photo 6 photo 1 photo 7 photo 8 photo 9

Isn’t it all just a jumble of loveliness??? That rooster/tray/twinkle lights conglomeration? That’s above the fridge. Has above the fridge ever looked more beautiful anywhere?! I think not. I included pictures of their baby grand; it has been a lifelong dream of my mother’s to own one, and almost ten years ago now they got to purchase one. It makes my heart as happy to play it as eating elephant ears… almost- dare I say- happier? That bench is actually a shortened pew from the church in which I grew up- where my parents both work to this day. They don’t sit on pews any more; this is from the old building, which is QUITE old… I mean, the church was founded in 1863, I think (or 1865?), but I’m not sure if the old, darling little building originates from that time… Regardless, isn’t that mini-pew so beautiful? And I suppose I could talk about the mantle, which is gorgeous, and decidedly pin-worthy… Maybe I’ll just pin it and be done with it. ((Someone remind me: what did we do before Pinterest???))

Here is maybe my fav picture from the whole day:

And here's my beautiful momma. You're lucky I only posted this one picture of her standing next to pumpkins...
My beautiful momma. You’re lucky I only posted this one picture of her standing next to pumpkins…

So. Autumn abounded this beautiful weekend, and I soaked it up like an elephant ear soaks up butter and cinnamon sugar. What Autumn Escapades are you enjoying? ((And does anyone know if there is a place to get elephant ears in Cincinnati???))

Reclaiming Abundance: Be Strong and Courageous (week 8!)

This week’s Abundance Verse I gave as a gift. We celebrated my nephew, Ethan’s, 3rd birthday on Saturday. He is pretty stinkin adorable, if I may say so. And we didn’t know we’d be able to go until Thursday evening, so my time for coming up with a gift was quite limited. And what can you give a 3-year-old that is truly special??? We knew he’d get lots of super fun toys and clothes, and since I didn’t really have time to get him something of that nature, I decided to draw this for him:

This is one of my favorite verses!
This is one of my favorite verses!

I love this verse. Verse 9 in its entirety says,

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I picked this one for Ethan because it’s what I’d want someone to pray over my children (boys or girls) and it’s what I’m praying over him, as well as my brother and sis-in-law. Parenthood requires such a unique brand of bravery. You must bind up their wounds, but let them fall sometimes. Hold them in your hands, but keep an open palm. Battle in prayer for them, but don’t worry about them. Whew! It’s a fine line we walk. And we ourselves need little reminders to be brave, too.

I took this at Mom and Dad's house. Props to Mom for having cute fall stuff festooned about the house, for the purposes of me taking cute pictures of Ethan's present...
I took this at Mom and Dad’s house. Props to Mom for having cute fall stuff festooned about the house, for the purposes of me taking cute pictures of Ethan’s present…

The very name “Ethan” apparently has a Hebrew origin (according to babynames.com, which must be infallible because it’s on the internet) meaning “firm, strong.” So, I’m really just praying he’d be the embodiment of his namesake. And I suppose that’s really what I want to pray for all my siblings’ children… and my siblings… and for people in general.

photo 17

There seems to me to be an inextricable link between living brave and being abundant. It takes risk, putting yourself out there. It requires trusting that God and his grace is sufficient, that they will be enough whether or not you are accepted or understood by strangers, friends, or even your family. Being a generous person is the bravest when you know your audience is not receptive. People will question your convictions, your integrity, your motives, and often the only reaction you’ll receive is judgement. Be brave anyway, because it’s what you’re called to be.

photo 18

Easy for me to say… But this blog- and this Reclaiming Abundance Project specifically- is nothing if not a reminder to myself. When I’m writing, I am forced to elicit from my brain those truths which are most solid ground, so that when I’m reacting to life like someone who’s never heard the word “abundance,” I have an anchor. At least here, at LongLiveBeauty, I can ((hopefully)) capture a fraction of what is best about myself- no, more than that- what is best about God. Here, I raise my Ebenezer. Because so far, God has helped us, and we have no reason to doubt him as we step forward. Like in 1 Samuel 7. ((Click on the link, and you’ll find out what that whole “Ebenezer” thing is about…))

Really, the whole of Joshua chapter 1 is SO GOOD and I was tempted to include more of it, but then I remembered that I didn’t have 5 hours to sit and draw the thing, and also that it’s for a 3-year-old, so I reminded myself to keep it simple… But I sort of wish I could’ve included Joshua 1:5-9 at least:

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

My prayer is for bravery. This weekend, I especially prayed it for my nephew, Ethan, who is such a sweet boy. May he be a lover of Jesus, and may I be too. When you are in his love, you have no fear because he is sufficient and keeps his promises. So, my hope is that this little doodle- a little boy made strong and courageous in the love of Christ- may be a little Ebenezer, a little solid rock for those to whom it was given, to remind them where strength and courage comes from when they need it.

Reclaiming Abundance: May We Risk (week 7!)

Ok, before we jump in to this week (which I shall endeavor to make more brief since last week’s post kind of took a long walk down Rambling Lane) I just have to say, IT’S OCTOBER!!!!

This is how excited I am.
This is how excited I am.

PEOPLE! October, which is arguably my FAVORITE month of the year- though really mid-September through December are my most favourites- so favourite that you have to spell that word with the “u” to make it as fanciful as this quarter of the year is to me. Here are some reasons why October (and November too…) are totally AUTUMN ((get it??? Like “awesome” but “autumn” instead??))

e2bd45a16285084e491143752775855f a1c06137e8bfaaf7248a63cb6f4e4f94 06b58a54f8ecc40447263746c2cec628

That’s a wreath I made for my front door… And by “wreath I made for my front door” I mean “wreath I pinned on my Autumn Happiness Pinterest board because let’s face it DIY isn’t really my thing.”

So. My Abundance verse for this week was inspired by If Then Move’s motto of 1 John 3:17-18, which says,

“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them,how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

I say inspired by, because this week is a little different. Instead of doodling a verse to put in a frame and hang on my wall ((or, you know, tape it…)) I am using something that was lovingly made by my dear friends, Wendy Fitzgerald and Cheryl Fraser, who- along with being the founders of If Then Move- are two of the MOST AMAZING women I’ve ever met. And they’re artsy like me! ((Basically, they give me hope that you can be an artist and share the love of God and simultaneously not starve.))

If you’ve been around LongLiveBeauty for awhile, you might know that I’ve been working for ((Wendy would correct it to “with” but I’m saying for)) Wendy as If Then Move’s communications director- taking care of booking events, and being the contact person for churches, camps, retreat centers, etc. who want to have their own ITM event. Here is a video to give you an idea of what this amazing discipleship ministry is all about!

Wendy is, as I have said like, a million times, one of my mentors and basically who I want to be when I grow up. Get a snapshot of her here. Then there’s Cheryl- OH MY GOODNESS she is so ridiculously talented and would never tell you this herself, but she’s worked for all kinds of fancy schmancy big deal companies like Disney, Warner Bros., and a handful of others as a product designer and developer. Go read about her here. The amazing thing is, these two brimming-with-talent ladies are using their gifts because they love Jesus and want to expand the kingdom of God. I am so passionate about this ministry not only because of who they are, but what God is doing through them!

And this weekend, I got to attend and help with their event at this church in Somerset, KY, where we hung out with some amazing women! Here are some snapshots of the weekend:

photo 10 photo 9 photo 8 photo 7 photo 6 photo 5 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 weddingdress

Are you sad you weren’t there? I am too! Because let me tell you, it was WONDERFUL. ((Might I recommend you tell your church staff people that you heard about this amazing ministry that you think totally needs to come and do an event at your church???))

And watching Wendy and Cheryl live out this If Then Move verse in 1 John 3 embodies the kind of life I want to live- because it takes bravery and boldness to pursue a dream, especially one that involves being perpetually vulnerable with complete strangers in the effort to build the community and kingdom of God. They are dangerous, risky ladies. And I want to be dangerous too- dangerous for Christ. And the stories I could tell you… Satan clearly thinks we are a threat, because each of us could tell you about the days leading up to this event of how we have lately been attacked by him. But we have just as clearly been delivered by God. He’s so good- not only does He deliver us, He pours out blessing after blessing on us. His abundance.

So, while these thoughts were going through my head this weekend, I noticed this beautiful cuff bracelet on the product tables:

Scroll back up and you'll see all the other cuff bracelets! I love them all!
Scroll back up and you’ll see all the other cuff bracelets! I love them all!

May we risk. This reminded me of the very beginning of this year- and this blog- where I shared my deep desire to live bravely.  There are so many verses that go along with this. Take anything from Joshua 1, or that verse in Colossians, and the list goes on and on.

I need the boldness and courage to risk- to be vulnerable, to stop trying to be perfect, to have grace for others (and for myself), to love generously, to pursue God-sized dreams that I have, to own up to my mistakes. And I love this bracelet, because it reflects this verse in Deuteronomy 6:8

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

So many people around me are risking every day. Friends from our church are taking a risk to go back to Africa for two weeks, our friend Justin and his band Carrollton are going on tour for 7 weeks starting last weekand my husband has a week of important meetings this week to help prepare for next summer’s convention… All of these situations require putting yourself out there, and risking security, talents, resources … Risk requires trusting in God.

I talk a good talk sometimes, but when it comes down to really risking in relationships, in jobs, in anything… I struggle not to waver.

The underside of the bracelet has a prayer pocket, a place to tuck reminders of those people, places, situations where I need to be brave enough to risk.

remnantsline

Maybe this little cuff around my wrist will help me risk; may I love generously, not holding back, and let my abundant heart overflow into the world.

maywerisk

P.S. My wonderful mother-in-law, Debbie, came to the event too- mostly to give her some much needed Grandma/Lucy-time. 😀 …And it enabled me to help and engage with the goings-on of the event. 

photo 1 photo 11 photo 12

Reclaiming Abundance: The Busy Badge (week 6!)

Are you ready? It’s a good one this week. But first, here is a commissioned illustration I finished recently! My dear friend, Rachel, asked if I would do a 4-paned drawing of a tree depicting the 4 seasons:

springSummerFallWinter

Good thing I love drawing gnarly trees… 😀 ((Should you desire prints of such a thing, they are 5×7 and all 4 are $40 total plus shipping. $10 for an individual print.))

Moving on… This week’s Abundance verse is Colossians 3:15.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

I have long loved this verse. There is a doodle of it in my Idea Book from a couple years ago, which looked like this:

Technically, it's 3:15a, I guess... (Do people do that anymore?)
Technically, it’s 3:15a, I guess… (Do people do that anymore?)

((I realized after publishing this that for some reason this picture isn’t showing up… sheesh. Sorry, folks, I will work on getting it to work… Or I’ll just move on and forget about it…))

And I was so going to print off a copy of it for this week’s project, but of course the moment I actually want to use our printer, it’s out of ink. The “ever-parched printer” as Ann said- this week as a matter of fact. So, I just drew a new one, which looks very similar.

Someday, I'm going to post something other than janky iPhone pictures... But not today!
Someday, I’m going to post something other than janky iPhone pictures… But not today!

It is actually part of the section I wrote about last week, but somehow I unintentionally didn’t include verse 15… So, I can’t take credit for planning it this way. Maybe it was a God thing? Anyway, this verse is a big deal for me, for what I want my life, relationship, and home to be about. The peace of Christ.

If peace is to rule, it follows that other things cannot. Things like the Busy Badge. I can’t take credit for coining this bit of genius. I heard it during a recorded training from a leader in the company through which I have a home business. She was using it in reference to a book by Brigid Schultewhich is about a study of women- specifically, moms who work part-time, who are supposedly in the category of the most stressed out people in the world. (Full disclosure: I haven’t read this book yet, and I don’t know that I agree with every single thing she says in that interview I linked to her name, just fyi. That said, there’s still truth there.)

Here it is... I decided to put it on one of the shelves on our entertainment center.
Here it is… I decided to put it on one of the shelves on our entertainment center.

“I’m busy.” One of the phrase that I found myself internally rolling my eyes at the most while working my home business. Because you’re not too busy to get a haircut, to get your oil changed, to buy groceries, because you make time for all those things. That’s what I found myself saying… in my head. Granted, we all have busy seasons, but I would argue that it’s an overused word. “Busy.” As tired and exhausted a word as we are in reality. And I think what really irked me about people saying this word to me was the mentality behind it.

And yes, that's a giant gold-ish R and H in the back...
And yes, that’s a giant gold-ish R and H in the back…

Once, I heard the phrase referred to as a “humble-brag” which surpasses much of what I could say to attempt to describe it. All at once, the person touting their busy badge is self-deprecating and yet self-exalting, making a martyr of themselves- merely a reactive victim of life, and at the same time raising themselves on an isolated pedestal, as though you could never understand the swirl of chaos that encircles them like a vulture around it’s prey.

And in the past, I’ve wanted to say, “No one makes you spend your time the way you do. It’s up to you! Don’t make me feel bad for your choices.” (Yes, I recognize no one can make you feel a certain way without your consent.)

But here’s the thing. About the time I would get riled up thinking these things, I would glance in the mirror, and really- did I look any different? Especially now, in this new season of being a parent, a wife, an artist, a teacher all at the same time? Hadn’t I been guilty of donning the Busy Badge as my go-to accessory? Maybe I have gotten better about not blurting it out and exposing that I’m just as bad as anyone else. Now, I think I’m just sneakily not saying it out loud, but it’s still there, lurking behind the jokes about my schedule, or sighs I let escape even when I’m just at home by myself. Yup, I’m just as bad as anyone.

Oh look, another angle!
Oh look, another angle!
e e cummings said, “pity this busy monster, man unkind, not. Progress is a comfortable disease:” I’m not the greatest fan of him, but isn’t this so articulate?
 .
Am I letting the Busy Badge reign? It has not served me well in the past, and it’s clearly not serving anyone else well either. The Busy Badge usurps the throne of peace. 
 .
Yet, as tired as the word is, we are busy. There is definitely truth in that. I’m just thankful we’re not to that season of parenthood yet where our kid(s) is in sports. Merciful heavens!! Practice for those things is like, every night of the week! And some people let their kids do like, a million additional extracurriculars on top of that… yeesh!
 .
Honestly, though,     ((she said emphatically to herself))     if you don’t want to volunteer on a team at your church or at your kids school, don’t respond by brandishing your busy badge. Just own it and say you don’t want to do it. There is just as much honor in saying no to something as saying yes, but there’s no honor in saying yes to something and then flaking out. Plus, you still end up communicating to the person you’re bailing on that THEY are not important. And some people recommend saying, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” Admittedly, sometimes this really is a necessary thing to do- I mean- there IS so much going on, and how many times have I double booked myself without realizing that both things were happening the same day? But if you have no intention of doing it, put on your big girl panties and find a way to say no. I mean, say it kindly, but SAY IT. Because this kind of ambiguous statement just creates unnecessary chaos and opportunity for miscommunication. Seriously, we don’t need any more of that!

.

And let me be clear- being busy in the sense that you’re active and invested in your life and the lives of those around you isn’t bad in itself. But- for me at least- it can turn into tasks for their own sake. Which feels more like the legalistic and rigid rules the pharisees added to the law. Like here in Mark 2. And Jesus calls them out on that toxic way of living. Mere rule-following doesn’t imply a rich relationship with God, neither does a task-filled calendar imply a full life. That kind of busy becomes Worry’s bedfellow. It, too, is like a rocking chair. You’re in constant motion, but you’re still going nowhere.

Rocking with Worry

Maybe we are spent. Our energy, our money, our attention- all spent. And we wonder why we never feel enough. We say yes to so many good things; does it follow that sometimes we miss out on the best thing? And in some odd, twisted way, isn’t the polished busy badge a way of worshiping our lack and glorifying our brokenness? What a strange idolatry… God, save us from ourselves. God- who is the only Enough, the Master of all schedules, Lord over time- is the only one who makes our busyness more than busyness. In our own strength, it’s only ever weariness and rundown rat-race. In his hands, moments are redeemed, we can breathe, and even our chaos is ordered. And fragmented and fractured lives become part of the fractal of his glory. ((I just love that word… fractal. People ought to use it more often. I got super excited when I was watching Frozen recently and realized there’s a line in “Let It Go” where Elsa sings about frozen fractals… Way to go songwriting team!))

So how do we get to THAT place?? Where we are protected by peace, and not slaves to the schedule? If the peace of Christ really is to rule in our hearts, maybe we need to dig deeper?

I remember the greeting. How the Jews say, “Shalom.” Shalom means “peace.” But that word often doesn’t fall on our ears with its true weight. Strong’s Concordance defines the Hebrew word “shalom” as completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace, and other stuff (click the link and check it out). But it’s not just a temporary peace- easily shattered by life’s traffic jams and tragedies. It’s not only a principle, it’s God’s point and purpose. The whole story of the Bible- His Story and ours- centers around this proclamation of hope: He is coming. He is come. He is coming again. And why? Because only through him- through Jesus- will we find complete wholeness, healing, joy, and the infinite and indescribable blessing of living completely in the Presence of God together. That’s the plan. So, as He is still accomplishing this, what do we do in the mean time? Here are Barnes’ Notes on the subject.

Preside in your hearts; sit as umpire there (Doddridge); govern and control you. The word rendered here “rule” – βραβεύετω brabeuetō- is commonly used in reference to the Olympic and other games. It means, to be a director, or arbiter of the public games; to preside over them and preserve order, and to distribute the prizes to the victors. The meaning here is, that the peace which God gives to the soul is to be to us what the brabeutes, or governor at the games was to those who contended there. It is to preside over and govern the mind; to preserve every thing in its place; and to save it from tumult, disorder, and irregularity. The thought is a very beautiful one. The soul is liable to the agitations of passion and excitement – like an assembled multitude of men. It needs something to preside over it, and keep its various faculties in place and order; and nothing is so well fitted to do this as the calm peace which religion gives, a deep sense of the presence of God, the desire and the evidence of his friendship, the hope of his favor, and the belief that he has forgiven all our sins. The “peace of God” will thus calm down every agitated element of the soul; subdue the tumult of passion, and preserve the mind in healthful action and order – as a ruler sways and controls the passions of assembled multitudes of people.

.

I love that he says peace is to “sit as an umpire there; govern and control you.” We have such negative connotations of something else “controlling” us, but in this case, isn’t it a great thing? Isn’t it a relief to yield control (which you don’t really have anyway) to the one Person who actually knows what’s going on? And not only does he know what’s going on, he is bringing all things into the wholeness of his love- wholeness, soundness, welfare, peace. Shalom. Isn’t that just so wonderful?! And just fyi, I can’t pretend to have as deep an understanding as this guy seems to. But it reminds me how much we miss when we just hear the surface of a word’s meaning. ((But still, isn’t it so encouraging to know that behind our small words and small lives there is big meaning? To know that we only see a minuscule part of the picture, and that God is infinitely bigger and more wonderful than we can even comprehend? I for one would not be worshiping him if I thought I could understand every part of him… I mean, he wouldn’t be God if that were the case, right? But that’s not exactly what we’re talking about here…))

And what a lovely crown it is...
May “shalom” break through our thinly color-penciled lives.

So, may you and I breathe more deeply the peace of Christ this week, in every frenetic and fleeting moment. May the peace of Christ wear the crown; may it rule in our hearts.