Art is Belonging: An Attempted Definition

And I’ll tell you why. I was thinking about this blog when I posted Long Live Beauty’s 50th post, and reminding myself why I started it to begin with. Among those thoughts housed in my brain, some wandered in regarding art and creating, and why I do it- why we do it.
 IMG_2602
.
What is art anyway? The definition(s) I share with you here is by no means the most extensive or broad look at art as a whole. It is one of the jumbling, run-on, tangled definitions I’ve got that will probably seem more like I’m spilling the contents of my purse- both personal and random- all over the floor. I’m ok with that.
 .
So.
 .
Art is being who I’m made to be, art is making something beautiful. Art is bringing beauty to the world, and when beauty is brought to the world, it orders it a little more; it puts one more mess to right again. It shifts paradigms, bolsters faith, shakes up and wakes up and comforts and disturbs.
.
Art is belonging, because it’s how I find a place for everything and put everything in its place. It’s belonging because we belong in beauty, we belong to the most Beautiful One. In both its questions and its answers, art can simultaneously ask where He is and point directly to Him.
 welcome home
And art isn’t confined to a paint brush or a camera or a violin or a stage. Art is what we make when we be most fully ourselves as possible- no, it’s more than that. It’s what we make when we surrender to being most fully His.
 .
Art is a bell ringing on the front porch of heaven, calling us all home for eternity’s feast.
 
Art is a Bell Mockup
To see this in the shop, click the pic.

Long Live Beauty's 50th Post!

Welcome to the party, friends!

[insert party-complete with confetti, baked goods, and pointy hats- here] 

It’s my 50th post, here at the blog. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s a big deal or not in the blogosphere… is it? Well, I’m still throwing a little post-party over here.

happy 50th
And whether you’ve experienced all 50, or this is your first one, I wanted to share the top ten posts from the last year and a half-ish. Consider them your party finger-foods. You can either binge-read them all (is that a thing? or maybe just where Harry Potter books are concerned?) or just pick the few that most speak to you. Have fun and enjoy the party!
1. Artist of the Month: Erin Elisabeth Aubrey– This post brought by far the most visits to my humble little hobbit hole of a blog than any other post prior! It’s probably because Erin is super fabulous and fancy schmancy (and maybe is also a great person and musician and known by a lot of people), and I LOVE how many new people got to hear her story and her thoughts on beauty and art!

2. Lucy: Cuteness, the Poopocolypse, and Other Adventures– I mean, how could I not include this? For one thing, it describes some of our earliest adventures in parenthood, which naturally include blowout diapers among other things (like scary hospital visits). Admittedly, this is a bit nostalgic, but it was the first post of mine that received a significant number of views… which makes me think it’s at the very least entertaining.

3. Letters from Ella: Light on a Tuesday– This post came from one of the dearest, most beloved, vulnerable corners of my heart. If you missed it and you like whimsically-doodled-upon-letters, check it out.

4. How to Host a Fabulous Girls Weekend– I’m not really a how-to or diy kind of girl. But this was possibly the most fun thing I did this whole year.

5. Surrender: How to Wait Well– This came from some of the goings-on in my own heart, where God was working like a potter with clay. I share it again because I had a handful of really encouraging responses from it, affirming the fact that this struggle is present for many others.

6. The Reclaiming Abundance Project– I. Heart. This. Project. If you haven’t been reading my blog for long, go check out this series I did as a way of claiming the promise of abundance God gives- abundance for right now. The kind that transcends income or circumstance. The kind born out of cultivating gratitude and a heart and home filled with His Word.

7. Reclaiming Abundance: Making Room in 2015! (Or: Grumpaccinos)– Because sometimes a girl just has to be real about stuff like not drinking coffee for 10 days and intentional healthy eating.

8. So Much Quinoa. So Much Kale. (Or: Am I a Hipster Now?)– This one I had to include because a) it was right after we finished our detox period on The Daniel Plan and for the first time after 10 days of detox I got to drink coffee that day, and b) I’m pretty sure I drank said coffee right before authoring this post… Read it to experience my hyperness.

9. Bludgeoning My Toast– This was my very first post ever. (Awwww… *wipes a tear*)

10. Reclaiming Abundance: He Will Be Our Sanctuary– I love this post because I love the message. I doodled the quote “He will be our sanctuary; let our hearts not be afraid” from Aaron Shust’s recent Christmas album, and wrote some thoughts about the time of year to go along with it.

I hope you enjoy these. And I hope you’ll stick with me through what promises to be an exciting autumn!

August: A Begrudged Celebration (& Much Anticipation)

“August is the month of quiet haze that stretches itself out on lavender horizons. Everything hushes. It’s the only time of year you can hear the last of the plants growing in their dirt beds. They are amber days with caramelized sunsets.” – Brooke Reed

Isn’t that so beautiful? I thought it was. So much so in fact, that I doodled this print of it to share with you, and will hopefully soon add it as a listing on Ebenezer Designs. (Which will obviously not be a janky photo I took on my phone.)

FullSizeRender

You see, I had determined, back on July 30th, that I would not post about anything fallish (after my Pre-Fall post a few weeks ago) until a certain date- August 26th to be exact- because it was on that date last year when I posted my surrender to all autumnal inclinations to festoon our apartment with my epic Dollar Tree fall decor. We’ll see if I make it that long…

If you’ve read any of my blog, you may have realized that August- along with February- feel like the most obligatory and annoying months of the year to me. February because of its mix of tundra and wonderland-turned-evil-sludge-that-ruins-everything, and August because of previously outlined reasons found here. But I have endeavored to like August for the past couple of years, because of reasons found here.

So, in spite of the persisting uncomfortable humidity, bugs, and general upheaval that comes with beginning a new school year (although a girl at Charlotte Russe totally thought my mom was taking me back to school shopping the other day. I was like, “You’re adorable.”) I have decided that this month will be an opportunity. An opportunity to hush my house and myself before the festooning of fall begins.

Once you decorate for fall, it sort of marks the beginning of some of the most beautiful and festive months of the year. And also, for good or ill, some of the most rushed. (Is it ironic to anyone else that “rushed” and “hushed” rhyme???) And while I usually decorate way earlier than most people anyway, it’s because I just want to savor autumn well, especially since it often feels devoured prematurely by Christmas (another season for which I bear no small amount of enthusiasm).

Hushing the house is something The Nester talked about earlier this summer. Of course, she highlighted the concept to mirror the nature of summer, to quiet your home and quiet your life a little as you take a break from the busy rest of the year (even if you still work full time, etc). It is another way to de-clutter, which is also one of my words on my banner for 2015 (which you can see at the top of the page). So, this is how August is redeeming itself for me. “Everything hushes.” That’s sounds nice, doesn’t it?

For me this year, fall will mark the beginning of a particularly exciting and challenging season- but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out why! Lots of developments of the blog-rific and artistic nature- I’m SO excited I wish I could just tell you everything right this second! …. But that would kind of ruin the whole “hushing” thing.

I hope you’ll take a leaf out of Brooke’s book, and “hush” along with the rest of creation in August.

May all your Augusts be carmelized!

(I kind of borrowed that from her as well… It’s what she said after sharing this print on social media. Sounds delicious, right?)

How are YOU hushing in August?

UPDATE: Here is the photo of the listing on my etsy shop, Ebenezer Designs! 

August-Mockup-5

Artist of the Month: Bailey Roberts Photography

Bailey Roberts and I have been friends since high school, when we both had epic long hair and nerdiness abounded. We also ended up going to the same college, where our coolness continued… And where I witnessed her beautiful photography skills for the first time! Later, she photographed my wedding, and I’m not sure I’ve ever looked as amazing as I did in her pictures…

37244_513128929980_2443354_n

This is one of my favorite pictures from that day! Okay, okay. Without further ado, here is our Artist of the Month with her thoughts on beauty in chaos:

Weddings! I love weddings! Drinks all around! I think Captain Jack Sparrow said it best and speaks for all of us.

a487c2e3a8325b2552acba40baaa88d4

Who doesn’t love a wedding? Even more than I love attending weddings and celebrating the marriages of dear friends, I love photographing weddings.

2015-05-26_0001

For some of you, the thought of photographing a wedding is exciting and some of you are experiencing sudden uncontrollable eye twitching right now at the thought. For me? It’s both exciting and eye twitch inducing. I have ADHD, OCD, social anxiety and I’m a wedding photographer. How have I not combusted yet?

To be honest, I’m not sure. But what I do know is that what might otherwise be the perfect cocktail to leave me in a hyperventilating puddle in the corner is actually one way in which God is using my weakness for His glory, particularly when it comes to the loving, adrenaline filled chaos that surrounds someone’s wedding day.

People constantly say to me that they don’t know how I do it and that they wouldn’t be able to handle the stress and the pressure of photographing the most important day in someone’s life. I won’t deny that there is a great deal of pressure (I mean, it’s not life or death pressure, but still, it’s not as though I could recreate the day if I missed something) but to tell you the truth, I thrive on that stress. And here’s why.

There is beauty in chaos. When you are in the midst of it, you can’t see it, but when you’re removed from it, it’s as though time slows down and allows you to experience what others may miss. The bride may be focused on getting ready and putting on the gorgeous gown that she has been just dying to wear, so she may not notice the tears form in her mother’s eyes. The couple may be so excited to see each other at the end of the aisle that the rest of the world ceases to exists.

In those moments especially, I take it upon myself to photograph not just how the couple experienced their day, but also how those around them experienced it. In situations like those, having social anxiety gives me the ability to make myself nearly invisible and just watch the scene unfold. At the same time, my ADHD proves useful and my brain and eyes are playing visual ping pong, darting back and forth between the bride and groom, the guests, the details, the checklist in my head, the lens I need to use, the composition that I want to set up and whether I can do it all quietly without tripping over my own feet. It’s as though my own internal chaos calms the chaos around me and slows it down to show it for the beauty that it is.

How true is that of every day life too? Whether going through the best or worst times in your life, there is still beauty in the chaos. And that beauty comes from the outside perspective, the eternal perspective of our places in the world. You may not be able to see the beauty in the moment, but just the fact that God has a plan and sees everything at once gives such an immense, comforting beauty to the craziness of life. Beauty isn’t just in the moment. It’s in the story. It’s in the plan. It’s in all of the steps that God has ordained that lead us to where we are and to where He wants us to be. Stepping back from our current situation, whether good or bad, allows us to connect the dots and see the bigger picture that God has already composed. And what a beautiful picture it is. It’s a picture of our God waiting for his bride, the church, patiently waiting for us and simultaneously pursuing us in ways our greatest earthly love stories can just barely reflect.

Because I’m a visual person, I want to share some photos with you. I like to think of God waiting for us much like these eager and anxious grooms waited to see their brides for the first time on their wedding day.

clair and keven-00041 jasmine and nate-00226 Olivia-00002

198701_543164882366123_1268791209_n

The pure joy and euphoria on a wedding day may be some of the best ways through which we can glimpse the immensity of God’s love for us.

Theresa and Chase-00109

They say that if you want to see what a person truly values, look at what they photograph the most.

Gravatt-Dirks-00326

I value marriage, and I value love, but most importantly I value God’s desire for my life and my marriage and that it is all a reflection of Him.

january-8-5

To find more about Bailey Roberts and her gorgeous photography, visit her website here and her Facebook page here