When Beauty is Frustrating: Dreams & Things

Have you ever known you were meant to do something, but you were too afraid to pursue or could see absolutely no way to accomplish it? Well, I totally understand that. And probably a lot of people do. As you know, I’ve been singing the praises (not literally- ha.) recently of Ellie Holcomb, and her wonderful album, As Sure as the SunAnd apparently, she understands this feeling of inadequacy and fear when stepping out and doing that terrifying, great thing. In this article she shared on Facebook, she shares that,

“I’m so thankful that fear didn’t keep me from saying yes to what I sensed God was asking me to do, and it’s been amazing,” she said. I felt like, releasing a full-length record was like stepping off the edge of a cliff, but as with pretty much everything I do, I just lift my hands to the heavens and say, ‘What on Earth am I doing here, Lord?’ I may think I have no business being here, but God said to be here, so I’m going to do my very best.”

Whenever I read stories like this one, there is a burning urgency- a heart positively bursting with ache inside me-to do something. Really, to do The Thing that I’ve longed to for so many years. To finally see a big dream come to fruition. Or even just one of the smaller dreams! (Do you know what I mean?) I have a handful of dreams- really quite beautiful ones, if I do say so myself. I mean, they’re so lovely that if I could, I would totally list them on my Etsy shop. Because I bet you’d love to print them out and hang them in your kitchen next to your awesome Lily and Val print! I mean, just LOOK at this amazingness:

Click the pic to go to her Etsy shop!
Click the pic to go to her Etsy shop!

 And this…

Preach it, swirly letters. Preach it.
Preach it, swirly letters. Preach it.

Speaking of dreams and listing things on Etsy, I opened my very own Etsy shop this week!!! [Insert squealing-jumping-up-and-down-party-throwing-noise-making excitement here!!!] It’s called Ebenezer Designs, and you can find it by clicking here(If you followed the Reclaiming Abundance Project then some of it will look familiar to you… However, there are also cupcakes…)Ebenezer Designs 1 

Like with most things, I was afraid to open an Etsy shop… Why? I have no idea. Probably because it’s the unknown. And probably because there are SO MANY much more talented and polished artists out there. (See above. OBVI.) It’s downright intimidating! I was also kind of afraid to start a blog.

For one thing, I’m just not a diy-er, so no pretty, pin-able pictures of before & afters to click on! But I did start a blog after a year and a half of thinking about it, because I just couldn’t help myself! And that’s basically what pushed me to open Ebenezer Designs, too.

People have been telling me for a long time that I should do something like that with my artistic abilities. People have also asked where they can find songs I’ve written on iTunes. (No, they aren’t there, people.) And according to Ellie’s dad, that’s supposedly when you’re supposed to record an album. (I’m over here like, “Hey Brown Bannister! I will totally let you produce an album for me. I can pay you $5! Special price, only for you! Sound good?”) 

Of course, I write that paragraph, and then immediately want to delete it. Because it’s hard not to seem totally self-absorbed when you’re talking about all the stuff you create, etc. And I don’t want to be somebody who is wrapped up in their own little kingdom. And I definitely don’t want to SOUND like somebody who is wrapped up in their own little kingdom… I mean, appearances, people. (I know you all think I have it together, since I never blab about all my meltdowns or skip weeks of projects I’m working on or anything.) 

AND the voice in my head says, “Psh. You are toooootally not good enough to talk about any of this stuff. The Etsy shop alone is pushing it.” Of all those things, the dreams of doing something musical are so deep in my marrow, I feel like a crazy person whenever I try to talk about it. Therefore, I mostly don’t. But I’m trying to be braver now. So, here’s me saying, I have a dream! (But way less noble and daring than MLK Jr’s dream, obviously… More like this: 

 

Dreams are great and all, but ultimately, I always come back to the fact that dreams fulfilled won’t bring me complete satisfaction. The moment I start treating them that way is the moment they become idols in the temple of Me. That is an empty place to be.

 

I come back to surrender. How those deep, heart-aching passions and talents (whether meager or great) are nothing if God is not in them. I don’t want them to be nothing, but more than that, I desperately want to see how God can make them more than they are on their own.

 

I want to see him take some fish and some bread crust, and multiply it into a feast for a multitude! I mean, don’t you want that for your life, too?

So for now, I’m trying to be brave and share my little etsy shop with you. (If you go to the shop’s About page you can read the story behind the name, and how it’s a place *hopefully* for beauty with a purpose.) And I’m focusing on surrender. Which reminded me of this powerful quote by my friend, Wendy:

 

It’s the newest addition to Ebenezer Designs! (Click it to see the listing itself.) I hope it encourages you like it does me. Are you bravely pursuing a dream??? Feeling brave enough to share? (And if you have an Etsy shop, your advice is totally welcome!)

Btdubs, I linked up this post at the House of Hipsters linky party here.

Our Home (In Which I Succumb to Gray & White Chevron)

Ever feel like you only like something because it’s trendy? For example, take chevron patterns… on anything. Do I really love them? Or have they just been all over Pinterest, HGTV, and/or diy blogs long enough that I’ve found myself going, “Yeah… chevron pattern! Maybe in a gray and white? OMG SO CUTE!!!” (Which as I was writing this blog post, I stumbled upon Nicki’s latest post over at T-shirt and Jeans all about how she was anti-white walls until Pinterest and magazine prettiness pestered her subconscious into submission, and now she loves them… or at least thinks she does. Sneaky Pinterest… Just kidding, I love them too.) Well, for chevron patterns at least, I don’t know anymore… I’m pretty sure I love them. I mean, I know I love stripes, so theoretically I would also love something that is essentially ziz-zaggy stripes. And ironically, I’d already written this post prior to purchasing this shower curtain:

shower curtain 2
Nope. It wasn’t planned at all. It just happened to be on sale at Kohl’s, and our old one was just sad and gross.
Just a close up of that little spot by the sink. I just love this happy little fake Ikea plant.
Just a close up of that little spot by the sink. I just love this happy little fake Ikea plant.

Anyway… This same question has occurred to me as I’ve been thinking about my home recently. What do I really want to see in my home? What words do I want associated with it? What words do I not want associated with it? Up until about 6 months ago I hadn’t ever thought much about it in those exact terms, but The Nester has a fabulous post about this topic here. And go ahead and click the link to Darlene’s blog that she includes in that one, too. (If you combined both of their posts, you wouldn’t have half of one of mine.)

There are two words that I definitely don’t want. The first word is “forced.” I don’t want to suck the life out of it by trying too hard to be homey or something. The second one is “trendy.” It’s kind of related, but it differs in that I don’t want to have something just because it’s socially palatable right now. For example, I hate modern style. Not all modern style, but moreso spaces that are just wholly comprised of modern, with no warmth or character in them at all. I recognize it’s possible to utilize modern style and retain warmth. But for the most part, when I see a room or home like that, I just feel like it’s a shell of humanity instead of the shelter of it.

So, here are some words I do want to define my home and the contents thereof:

* purpose– I want our home to be a place of purpose on different levels; obviously, I don’t just want a place full of junk that isn’t serving us or anyone else, but I also pray that this word permeates our living space and those that take shelter in it. I want Ryan’s and my journey of seeking God’s purpose for us to be lived out honestly (and therefore imperfectly) before our children, so they feel safe enough to live honestly and imperfectly on their own journeys too.

* peace- because I need to come home to peace when the world isn’t peaceful. * abundance (duh)- if you’re new here and don’t get it, go read this(Or at least scroll through it very quickly and look at the pictures.) 

* beauty– because beautiful things, people. (And hello, the name of the blog? I’ve said it before but beauty is kinda my thing.)

* comfort– I mean, that show was called “The Big Comfy Couch” not “The Awkward-Sized Un-Sittable Satin Homage to King Louis the XIV’s Palace in Versailles.” (That title is terrible, for one thing.)

* practical– for those that know me, this might be a surprise, but I think that (and this is arguable) for me, something is most beautiful when it both adds to the visual landscape as well as to the functional one.

* artsy- because I am. Plus, doing artsy things frequently requires risk and- if I can basically flat out copy what The Nester said about this- home should be a safe place to take risks. Amiright?

* real– here, we could also write brave, or authentic, or vulnerably imperfect, because I really don’t want to be afraid of my house not being perfect when someone comes over. I want to say without a trace of apology, “Come on over to our 3rd floor Laundry Pile- I mean, apartment!” (Admittedly, I really hope to avoid it being a large laundry pile when people come for a visit…)

* categories of chaos (which is basically my way of having order, while insuring my sanity when things aren’t perfectly stacked, but they’re all in the same bin, or something like that… and yes, I realize it’s not really a one-word-descriptor) Basically, I want our home to be somewhere between a hobbit hole, the Gryffindor Common Room, and some cottage designed by Joanna Gaines using stuff from The Magnolia Market. And then filled with Jesus. (Or filled with Jesus first?? Either way, lots of Jesus.)  So, in the interest of keepin it real with y’all, here are some imperfect places of King’s Cottage:

My "office" (aka kitchen table) when I'm doing work for ITM. You have no idea how much I love that little lantern from Pier 1... And that tray... and that swirly planner. Oh, the pretties!!!
My “office” (aka kitchen table) when I’m doing work for ITM. You have no idea how much I love that little lantern from Pier 1… And that tray… and that swirly planner. Oh, the pretties!!!
The coziness of this bed... I can't even. And oh, how I do long for stuff to be on the walls and/or window treatments or something... but for now, it'll do, pig.
The coziness of this bed… I can’t even. And oh, how I do long for stuff to be on the walls and/or window treatments or something… but for now, it’ll do, pig.
A spot out in the living room, which right now is home to Holly Gerth's book, You Were Made for a God-Sized Dream.
A spot out in the living area, which right now is home to Holly Gerth’s book, You Were Made for a God-Sized Dream.
On the wall directly opposite the bed is this antique bookcase (which has been terrifying to move every time we've gone to a new home), these wedding pictures, books & journals, and this partial copy of a Renoir painting I did in college (in which the girl has ridiculously long arms- sigh! That makes me sad to this day.)
On the wall directly opposite the bed is this antique bookcase (which has been terrifying to move every time we’ve gone to a new home), these wedding pictures, books & journals, and this partial copy of a Renoir painting I did in college (in which the girl has ridiculously long arms- sigh! That bugs me to this day, but I still love it.)

I know it’s not much, and it’s not about to be featured anywhere (except here- BAM!) but it’s part of our homey journey together. Do you have a beautiful place in your home that you especially love? Anyone else live in an apartment and have great ideas for making it cute? Please, for the love of renting, share!!!

I linked up at the super-fab linky party at House of Hipsters this week!

Reclaiming Abundance: The Road Goes Ever On (But We Can Recap A Little)

So, here we are. The “end” of the Reclaiming Abundance project.

At the beginning, I said that my goal was to powerfully, intentionally reclaim our abundance, rediscover victory, rebuild our foundation. And that ambitious and lofty-sounding task would start with the Word- specifically, by implementing it our lives in simple tangible ways. And by ways, I mean doodles. (Mostly.)

So, here are all the doodled-verses and “Ebenezers” I created or used in this project!

1. Week 1: May You Have Good Eyes (Matthew 6:19-25, 33)

ra 8ra 4photo 6 photo 7

We started with having good eyes, and remembering things like when you’ve come to the end of your bank account, you haven’t come to the end of you.

2. Week 2: The Princess (Psalm 45:13-15)

pink frame 5All gloriouspink frame 2

In which I shared about my deepest desire for my own princess: that she would grow to be a true princess- daughter of the King, knowing in whom her identity lies. Just as innocent and loyal, but fierce and truthful as Queen Lucy the Valiant, for whom she is partially named. (I say partially because she’s also named “Lucy” because I had a dream about her 2 years prior to her birth… but another time.)

3. Week 3: Clive the Coffee Pot (Psalm 5:3)

Clive and VersePsalm 5 3

In which we learned that I need coffee to keep me alive, Word to keep me living, and that Clive, my coffee pot, is a kiss-up. Also, that it isn’t very productive to try having conversations with me prior to Jesus and coffee time.

4. Dig Down Deep (Luke 6:47-49, and Psalm 84 & 86)

coffee and chocolate

overalls

In which I was a hot mess. I had no doodle this week, only Francis Chan videos like this one, reminding me about God’s love, because I was starving for it (There was talk of ugly crying, if you’ll remember) and had to dig down deep, like the man in Luke 6.

5. Wear Love (Colossians 3:12-14, 16)

Wear Love

In which I discovered that when Want has the run of my life, I live in scarcity. When Love reigns, it frees, saves, redeems me. And I realized that Frozen had it right (sort of).

6. The Busy Badge (Colossians 3:15)

Peace of Christ

In which we learned that The Busy Badge usurps the throne of peace. It’s a strange idolatry that gives us a way to almost worship our lack and glorify our brokenness; it gives the victim in us a way to be simultaneously self-deprecating and self-exalting… which is just miserable. I’d much rather the peace of Christ rule.

7. May We Risk (1 John 3:17-18)

maywewrist

In which my wonderful mother-in-law came with Lucy and me to help us with an awesome If Then Move event! I wear this little cuff I got at the event all the time- it reminds me of my desire to risk being brave, vulnerable, love generously, and live abundantly.

8. Be Strong & Courageous (Joshua 1:9)

strong & courageous

In which I drew this verse for my nephew’s birthday present, and remembered that I want to be this way too.

9. My Beloved’s (Song of Solomon 6:3 and 2:4b)

photo 11

In which Lucy is the cutest stinkin flower girl ever in the history of flower girls… and also, we remember to wave this banner over our lives.

10-11. King’s Cottage & Yellow Pants

photo 5

photo 4

In which I dubbed our humble little 3rd floor apartment “King’s Cottage” and also describe my patience issues with hulu, hangers, and preschoolers. (Thus why I chose that verse.) Oh, and her pants had to be yellow because my favourite pants are yellow. (I am SO profound sometimes.)

12. Give Thanks

photo 4

photo 3

In which I made a pretty sign for fall/Thanksgiving, resulting in reflections on gratitude, how we so often miss out in our Black-Friday scrambles, and how gratitude opens our eyes from living lives of famine to feast and abundance.

13. Proverbs Mean Girl?

photo 6In which that Proverbs 31 girl turns out not to be a mean girl after all. She’s not impossibly perfect, she’s just at peace in the Lord. And therefore, she lives abundant. (And maybe she does eat bread after all.)

14. He Will Be Our Sanctuary

Scan Sanctuary

Arguably, my favourite!! (With a “u” as always.) In which we remember that we are saved sanctuaries in which God lives by His Spirit. And our hearts prepared Him room.

15, 16, & 17.

Words for 2015

In which we continued making room by starting The Daniel Plan in our home… which revealed that I’m not as cheerful about giving things up as I thought in week 15, related the astonishing quantity of quinoa and kale we had consumed in week 16, and shared with the utmost honesty my opinion of the Internet’s Top 3 Substitutes for Half & Half in Coffee in week 17 (and imparting my wisdom that soy milk is THE ONLY one that is acceptable. You’re welcome.)

18. So Love Can Fill

Love Will Fill Love Conquers All

In which I share the lofty and complex thought that gratitude is the coconut oil of all virtues and made up words like “gratitudinally,” and that, “Love is fierce. Love is unafraid to give itself. It isn’t concerned with ulterior motives. Love gives and gives when everything else runs out, runs down, or runs away. Love fights like an indomitable warrior. Love wins battles. Love conquers all.” And these two free printables (which I designed for free.99 at picmonkey.com). 

19. Blueberry French Toast Day!

In which I ate this:

EDIT photo 9

And then wrote a million paragraphs documenting my love of the healthy blueberry french toast found in The Daniel Plan cookbook. YUM. (We just had these again this morning… So, Blueberry French Toast Day: Part 5-ish!!!)

20. As Sure As the Sun

Sure As the Sun FULL Return to Me

In which I remember He is the Only Sure Thing, and let Ellie Holcomb’s beautiful album be the latest soundtrack for my life.

So, in closing, thank you for tracking with me through all the rants, ramblings, and rabbit trails (whoa, unintended alliteration) of this Reclaiming Abundance Project. God has changed us SO much in the past 6 months; I feel like we are different people now! Instead of strife our home fills with peace, instead of loneliness- love, instead of despair- hope.

I didn’t know how (yet I dared to dream) this process of intentionally seeking His abundance would change so much for us. And even though this will never really end- though we are really always having to reclaim abundance over and over- we’ve been reset and renewed. We are now free here at King’s Cottage from rampant scarcity and will ward it off at all costs. May we now live lives of thankfulness- of Doxology- and say

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son, & Holy Ghost.

Amen!

This post linked up at House of Hipsters‘ linky party!

As Sure As the Sun (The Only Sure Thing)

Sometimes, you just need to let truth swirl out of a colored pencil and speak for itself. I won’t wax too poetic (aka ramble and run-on as per usual) today, but I will say a few words. (And they are, ‘Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!’ But seriously…) Sure As the Sun FULL Ever get to the end of a couple weeks and realize you haven’t spent any time with God? I mean, aside from going to church and/or small group or something. Because that just happened to me recently. I’d been scheduled at work a lot more the last 2 weeks specifically, because the daycare was moving locations, and I frequently had to be there at 7:00 am. (It’s early, friends. SO EARLY.)  As a result, I ended up having like 30 seconds of quiet time. Total. And for me, that leaves me all depleted and shriveled up inside. It’s like a plant saying, “You know, Sun, I’m super busy the next couple weeks, so I’m just going to need a break from photosynthesizing for awhile…” And the sun’s like, “Yeah. Good luck with that.”

But in all seriousness, I tend to become the worst, most joyless version of myself possible when I stop intentionally seeking Him first. Add extra fatigue and hormones (and one epic fall down the stairs last week- the whole right side of my body is basically just a giant bruise) and then I’m really special to be around. So, when my long-awaited day off finally arrived, I definitely planned on some extra God time.

Well, apparently God saw what a hot mess I’d been, and decided I needed the whole day with Him (since by a series of events I will not bother you with, my computer was unavailable all day). This, of course, turned out to be a very good thing.

Part of it was spent listening to the amazing album As Sure As the Sun by Ellie Holcomb. Her lyrics speak honestly, her melodies ring true, her songs are unique. Here’s the title track:

This album really deserves its own post, outlining her articulate songwriting abilities, and how her own spiritual journey with God is so palpable and vulnerable (and so resonates with my own! and probably many people’s). Here’s one of my other favorite songs from the album:

Here’s another doodle from that day… Return to MeCertainly, neither doodle is perfect, but they weren’t intended to be. With each imperfect swirl and scribble, and time in the Word, I felt myself come back to life again. And they somehow remind me that He is the only sure thing. (If you’d like to see some other beautiful things, go check out the linky party at houseofhipsters.com from Saturday night, which you can find here.)

And also this button from the Club Narwhal linky party:

Persia Lou

– See more at: http://clubnarwhal.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-makers-no-55.html#more