Artist Feature: Albion Tea Company! When Tea is More Than Tea

Today’s Artist Feature is one of the single most inspiring, mobilizing stories of beauty and heart that I’ve had the privilege of sharing so far on this blog.

Deborah and Brock Wilkie are the founders of Albion Tea Company, a business + ministry that not only creates beautiful and delicious teas (and even herbal coffees- what?!) and tea products, but also utilizes their heart for the broken, marginalized, and needy. They are doing good as well as creating good product and I simply can’t say enough about them!

Settle in with a cuppa for my interview with Deborah as she tells of the adventures that led them to start this exciting journey! (All product photography by Kara of Humilitea House who was featured on this very blog here!)

Tell us a little about your background:

World travel was a big influence in my life. I started traveling overseas immediately after high school and never looked back. Germany, Malta, England, Wales, 4 times to Ireland, 2 times to Australia…interning on a cattle station, helping as an au pair, teaching English, volunteering with a ministry…wide variety of experiences that broadened my horizons and gave me a deep appreciation for other cultures, cuisines and of course, introduced me to the wide and wonderful world of TEA!

WOW! That is a lot of travel!! (I’m only a little jealous…like 99%) Were you always a tea-lover? How did that passion develop?

I grew up collecting tea things and having teas with my mom. Our favourite book was Emilie Barnes’ If Teacups Could Talk. From picnic teas to themed seasonal teas, to teas with my dolls and teas at real tea houses, it was a staple of my girlhood. The teas my mom would throw became legendary in our area. So many amazing memories wrapped up in the gentle beauty and bonding of tea time.

I love that tea was such a sweet and meaningful part of your childhood!! I’d love to hear how the business developed from a passion into a business?

Albion Tea Company really all started with chai tea. I first had authentic loose leaf chai while on my first trip to Australia and fell in love. I never could find it back in the states, so I set about learning how to craft it myself. Many, many months later I developed a stunning chai we dubbed Rivendell Chai which has become our flagship tea. This experience opened my eyes to the complexities of tea blending, but also to how much I enjoyed the challenge and the process.

My husband and I have a heart for the UK, particularly Wales. We fund raised for two years to move to Wales and work with World Horizon’s Youth Development Team, leading an outdoor adventure program for Welsh young people. However, UK immigration denied our visas which closed that door, causing us to look for a new direction but still with a burden for that corner of the world.

Wanting to be free to pursue ministry stateside and create the life we wanted for our young family, in 2016 we decided to go into business for ourselves. Early in our marriage I had been crafting a few teas and candles and such and selling on the side. Our friend, Kara, was the one who asked if I had considered re-starting a full-on tea business, considering I had already crafted a killer chai! 😀

The seed was planted, the idea grew, and we realized that was the perfect fit for us. I had become quite the tea snob from my time overseas, and my hubby and I could see a tea business being something we would love doing together. We had a soft launch in November, 2016 and were stunned by the response from family and friends to the teas we were creating. So we officially launched in January 2017 and made the leap: Brock quit his remodeling job and I stepped away from my role as Senior Executive Leader at Usborne Books & More to give 100% to the business we are building together.

This story is so uplifting to me as a creative, hearing how God has grown this dream into a reality! And you are also using this passion to give back to that corner of the world you’d felt led to as well, right?

Yes! We currently have a tea, Snowdonia Ceylon, that has a portion of the proceeds being donated directly to the YDT program in Wales.

Tell us a little about how you created your logo and came up with your company name?

Our logo includes the Trinity Knot and the name Albion is the Ancient name for Great Britain. We love books, so there was also a literary influence to our name choice: Stephen Lawhead’s Song of Albion trilogy which is a favourite of ours!

(Yes! Favourite with a “u” in true British style.)

Clearly, you have a heart for reaching people along with your passion of creating fabulous teas. Is God opening your hearts to any other avenues of ministry?

As we have looked at the future and how we can impact young people here in the states through our business platform, youth aging out of foster care were put on our hearts. Our goal is to build our business to the point of needing to hire employees and then hire young people in this much ignored, but often very needy, demographic! We want to provide a good income, a stable work environment, mentoring, and assist in plugging them into the community and find their passion for their future.

As many as 36% end up homeless as they lack the support system and skills needed to acquire a job and establish a life for themselves. Nearly half of youth who age out of the system end up in prison within 2 years. Our goal is to hire aging out youth as employees of Albion Tea Company, providing a steady paycheck, mentoring, and assistance plugging into the community.

That is amazing!!! I think you’re the first person I’ve heard of point out this overlooked corner of the population. How awesome would it be to see God use Albion to reach and bless them!

We are actually moving to northern idaho next year and looking at farm properties. To expand our business and ministry, we want to have a pick-your-own-lavender and tea farm with a tea/gift shop, a getaway cabin or two, and tiny houses for the youth we employ to live- a place of peace and rest for folks to come, relax, and find Christ-love. Our own little Rivendell if you will.

We believe this vision to provide work and housing for a time will give these people much needed tools and eventually help them work towards full independence to chase their own dreams!

I am already in love with this idea, not only because I would obviously want to visit, but because it’s so empowering and inspiring to find ministries and businesses and creatives (or a combination of the three) who are not only creating beautiful, excellent products, but are also using their gifting and business etc. as a vehicle to draw people close to Christ and grow the kingdom of God.

Personally, I LOVED the teas you sent me. Would you share a little more about your process of creating them and what kinds of products you have?

Each tea blend we sell is completely our own creation. We dream them up and make them a reality. We currently have 15 black and herbal blends, plus 4 drinking chocolate blends, and an herbal coffee blend, plus chai tea jelly and a chai spice blend. We love to get creative and think outside the box with tea! We also love searching for unique beverage accessories to provide for our customers.

Herbal coffee?! Okay. That’s the next thing I’m ordering. And hey, if I decide to go absolutely all-natural everything tomorrow, can I still consume your products?

Absolutely! We are committed to an organic, eco-friendly life style and this carries over to our business as well! Our tea ingredients are organic and fair trade. We do not use any artificial or natural flavorings or preservatives…if we can’t make a flavor with real food ingredients, we don’t make it! Presents a huge challenge but we are committed to providing tea as it should be…fresh, pure, organic, utterly delicious.

We create our teas and drinking chocolates to order so each customer receives a deliciously fresh product every time. Nothing sitting on shelves and collecting dust over here!

What if I’m new to the tea-drinking world? Can I ask questions or reach out to you guys?

Definitely. We love teaching people how to use loose leaf tea and love answering our customers questions about the process from selecting a kettle to choosing an infuser! The taste of fresh loose leaf will blow the mind of anyone accustomed to drinking tea made from boxed tea bags. And not only is it easy to prepare and tastes amazing, but it is highly cost effective. Our loose leaf canisters come out to less than 50 cents per cup for made to order, fresh, organic, fair trade tea! You can’t beat that anywhere!

That is a lot cheaper than my Starbucks order, not gonna lie. Can you give us any sneak peeks of what’s new or coming up for Albion Tea Company?

This month we have launched our Adventure in a Cup Club…a monthly subscription box featuring our teas and drinking chocolates, along with carefully curated accessories and goodies. We have a box for adults as well as one for kids! With our love of world travel, we will be exploring different cultures with our boxes throughout the year.

That sounds fabulous!! And for kids, too? I would never have thought of that.

Yes! Kids love tea too; plus, it makes a super yummy alternative to sweet sodas and juices! We have created many of our herbal blends with kiddos in mind; our daughter Carys LOVES being our official taste tester for those. 😉 Her favourite is Misty Mountain Chai.

Since it’s summer, do you make any cooler options?

All our teas and drinking chocolates can be made ICED! How cool is that?! So for warm months, or for those not keen on hot drinks, we have ya covered. My favourite trick to make iced loose leaf tea (which knocks bagged iced tea out of the park!) is to use a french press (that hasn’t been used for coffee of course.) You put in 1 tsp per 6 oz of water, cover with cold water, pop the french press in the fridge for 6-12 hours (depending on which kind you are steeping), press down, and voila!

Also, the drinking chocolate makes amaaazing homemade popsicles! A trick of the trade for hot herbal brews is to cover your mug with a plate while steeping to keep all the healthy herbal goodness and flavor in your tea instead of letting it escape with the steam.

Wow. Great tips!! Anything else we should know about your fabulous company?

In July, we will be donating 10 trees to Trees for the Future for every canister of tea we sell: our goal is to sell 1,000 canisters in July to plant 10,000 trees! 1,000 trees brings an entire family out of poverty! (After July we will regularly be donating 1 tree per canister.) Trees for the Future has an amazing program teaching forest farming techniques to families in Africa to help bring them out of poverty and to restore the land itself. Check them out here.

I can’t stop saying wow… Readers, are you inspired yet???

Thank you to Deborah from Albion Tea Company for taking the time to share your story with us!!! And just for you, reader, use this COUPON CODE to receive 15% off your order: BEAUTY15

If you want learn more about Albion Tea Company, here are all the places on the interwebs you can find them:

ALSO: Deborah and her hubby are hosting a tea time event TOMORROW evening for anyone who would like to know more about their online tea experience program!!! To find more info, click here.

And one more thing…
If you’d love to do something fun in support of Brock and Deborah’s fabulous business + ministry, here’s a truly fun idea!

Happy 2017- Wait. Let’s Try That Again.

The month of January was a month of false starts. After traveling for two weeks with our little girls, we got home. Ahhh home.

After we unpacked and ever-so-promptly did all the laundry and cleaned up the assorted Christmas debris, I prepared to settle in, get a new calendar, arrange my life in ever-so-orderly a fashion.

Focus, I thought to myself. Focus shall be my word for this year. I will cultivate true presence with my husband, with our children, in our relationships. I will engage in the varied jobs and responsibilities I have with humility and attentiveness. I will be patient with where we are in life and savor the season with gratitude and joy. I will practice listening to the Holy Spirit and quiet my chatty soul.

And all in all, I shall transcend the heretofore tolerated messes in my life and failures of character into a rosy, glorious existence of serenity and wisdom.

I mean. So much serenity, you guys.

These are the things I considered with much anticipation as we undecorated in the last day of December and first of January. And then, January second arrived, and I’m pretty sure Peeves the Poltergeist was lurking somewhere  enjoying the coming upheaval, cackling in delight. He was probably also eating popcorn…

First, I got a cold. Then, in those first days of January, Ryan asked me, “Where’s your wallet?” I unconcernedly assured him I didn’t know, but that I’d find it. Fast forward to a week later, by which point we had ransacked all of our earthly possessions and even gotten so desperate as to call the Cracker Barrel we ate at on our way home from Christmas traveling. No luck.

On top of that, one of my big toes started hurting. Real bad. It started as a minor annoyance that first week of January, but by the end of the second week, I was limping around pathetically, with a swollen, gross horror movie of a toe. I decided I was probably dying.

So, we paid the urgent care $100 only to have the doc come in and say, “Yeah, I don’t do toes. That’s infected. You should go to a podiatrist.” And I was like, “Greeeaaat. Would you like to tell me any more obvious things while I light some more money on fire?”

Later that week, we went to the podiatrist. Let’s just leave some mystery there. I don’t think you really want to know what they had to do to my toenail… Regardless, it was expensive. So, you know, a really good time to lose my wallet (and the extra Christmas money we’d received which was inside it).

“Focus.” I flinched as my glowingly good-intentioned word for the year arose in my mind. The irony was not lost on me.

Meanwhile, marchers protested and blew up the internet with their signs and their rage and their holy hashtags. What was all this about? I wondered. I looked into it and was kind of like, “Wait, so what are they marching for again? Did Trump like, veto women’s rights to vote and I missed it??? Oh. They’re just…preemptively protesting. Got it. Well, they’re allowed… Oh, and pro-life groups were removed from the list of protesters. Okay.” I felt increasingly disconnected from this group. Which is weird, since I’m a woman.

But I say this because the holy hashtaggers flooded social media, and subsequently another wave in the onslaught of political arguments resulted across the board. Friends I know deactivated their Facebook accounts. (I didn’t. Because cute pictures of other people’s babies, you know.)

So it felt like I’d stumbled into 2017, into a loud, distracting mess. I wanted to back away slowly- back into 2016. Maybe no one would notice?

But we can’t run away from our messes. Does that mean we join protests? Do we take the bait and follow the crowds? Follow the popular instagrammers, YouTubers, some who used to be pillars of faith and now have decided a deep end of half-truths is a better place to dive than to face the hard things- minor or major- head on?

Clearly, I experienced some disillusionment as these things transpired. Not that I now despise anyone who is well known or think blogging is a waste, or that hashtags are evil. (They’re not necessarily. They’re fun, and I usually overuse them.) But I just reminded myself that I’m not one of their “followers.” I am a follower of Christ.

No, I’m a disciple of Christ. And that means certain things for how I view the world.

For one thing, it means that when a mini-maelstrom of minor calamities befalls me, I don’t feed my fearful, suspicious side. You know, that ominous voice inside that says, “It’s a sign. Doom is at hand. This will be the year of crap.” 

Instead, I say, “You know what, no.” Just because January threw a fit and marched in protest of not being 2016 anymore doesn’t mean it’s worth coloring all the other months in similar hues. I am not the victim I once was. Not that I’m not weak, but that Christ’s strength is growing inside me. This is a time to be a victor.

So, whatever, January. You sucked and you’re over. Also, you didn’t suck because the Lord helped me drive a stake in the ground and declare that even times of losing my wallet and subsequently our Christmas money, times of stupid toenails and stupid toe infections, times when I have a cold on top of all the other stuff and can’t take any normal decongestants because I’m nursing, times when half-baked opinions and wholehearted unkindness is rampant- in the midst of times like those, I can be joyful. Because the Lord is sufficient in all things; he always gives us what we need.

And he did.

Aimee always says that laughter is usually her default. I decided that was a better plan than implosion. So I tried laughing at all the distractions. I asked God to help my trust sing louder than the noise- trust that he would provide, that we could handle this, that light is still brighter than darkness, and that darkness is paltry and puny in comparison.

It worked out well. Because you know what? Someone left a Walmart gift card with a hefty amount on it anonymously at our door. Ryan ended up receiving a chunky check for some work he did recently. And several other providential, out-of-the-blue things like that happened. In fact, only a few hours after my procedure at the podiatrist, we received word about that check. Hours, you guys.

God is good. He gives us everything we need. And I realized these distractions were just opportunities- to focus. So that’s still my word for the year.

Therefore, I will not be joining the ubiquitous tantrum that everyone is throwing about how terrible things were in 2016, or will be in 2017, or whatever.

Instead, let’s throw a party. Or at least have some cake pops. Let’s be people who add flavor to the world. It’s February. Happy New Year!

NEW: Pumpkin-Spiced Prints for Your Autumn-y Pleasure!!! Plus an Announcement

It’s almost autumn. AUTUMN, YOU GUYS!!! Beautiful, lovely, pumpkin-spiced autumn. I’m always ready for it, as you know. I wrote a whole series last fall called “31 Days of Enjoy”, which was punctuated heavily by an outpouring of gushing my crisp, leafy love of Autumnal Everything.

 

Last year, I barely made it to October without talking about autumn at least a little. This year, I made it at least to September! I deserve a gold medal. Or maybe an orangey-red medal. You know what? I’ll settle for a pumpkin-spice latte.

 

And I managed to also wait until September to decorate, unlike two years ago(So, make that two pumpkin-spice lattes.) Barely. But I’m totally ok decorating for fall now, because a) baby is due the 27th, but who knows when she’ll come? and b) I’m quickly losing my physical prowess and motivation to accomplish things like decorating.

 

I don’t have pictures of decor today. But I DO have some really special lovelies I am just beyond excited to share with you!!! (And stay tuned for an announcement at the end of the post, too!) I’ve worked hard all summer on projects for the shop, custom orders, illustrations, and lots of new listings- I confess it’s been WAY harder to wait on sharing some of these even than decorating for fall!

So, here are three brand spanking new, watercolor outpourings of autumny happiness I illustrated just to spread my joy further this season! And guess what? They are for sale in the shop as of today!!!

autumn header full view

 

The first one- a redhead walking in the woods- can be customized with the quote of your choice for a smidgen more than the purchase price!

Etsy Redhead Angle EDIT

For example:

Redhead October Quote

Or maybe you like more swirly writing?

Redhead October Quote 4 Meddon

You can request whatever quote you want (as long as I can get it to fit and look right etc.) and what type of font you prefer, too!

Then the second listing (possibly my favorite) features another redhead- yes, another, because I am one so deal with it- surrounded by a happy mound of pumpkins, wearing a happy scarf, and drinking something hot and delicious. (Oh, and her hair is swirly and why can’t my hair in real life be like this?)

Autumn Dreams Angle 2 EDIT

Isn’t she just happy? I super love her.

 

Last but not least is a precious little family taking a walk in the woods together.

Etsy Family Angle

 

Aren’t they sweet with their little baby boy?

 

All of these cheery watercolor prints are 8×10 and are available as printable downloads in the shop! Visit the shop here to download yours!! Or of course you can order a physical print to be mailed to you as well here.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: If you were thinking of ordering a custom piece from me, I’m only accepting new orders through September 15th- aka you have 10 days to order. 

Since I budget 2 weeks per custom order, that provides me about that time frame to finish up any lingering projects before the baby is due.

 

I hope you enjoy these fall pieces! And dahling, won’t you be so kind as to share a link either to this post or to my shop with people in your world? I would be so honored!

autumn header full view

Happy October Part 1! (I mean- September.)

 

Day 6: A Creative’s Playlist

Welcome to Day 6 of the On Being Creative series! You’ll find links to all the posts as they’re added on the series’ homepage here.

Day 6

So far, we’ve talked practical questions about creativity and our purpose as creatives, we’ve talked about some of the deep aches and struggles of the creative soul, and what kills our creativity and what cultivates it.

Dang. We sound smart, right?

And since we’ve talked at length about our doubts and discouragement, giving ourselves permission to dig deep and know that a breaking heart can provide breakthrough for our art, let’s take a breather today.

We’ve thoroughly acknowledged our struggles with darkness, so let’s just as ardently and bravely celebrate the light.

Rejoice 2
I recently created a playlist on Spotify specifically for encouragement as a creative and to remind me to live life palms toward heaven, continuously worshiping and surrendering. And today I’m sharing the link with you.

Here it is!

It’s a mix of worship and folks songs by some of my favorite artists. Here are my top 10 must-hear songs from the list:

  1. Fool with a Fancy Guitar by Andrew Peterson
  2. Shine by Christa Wells
  3. Meant to Be by Carrollton
  4. No Longer I by Matt Redman
  5. Many Roads by Andrew Peterson
  6. I Shall Not Want by Audrey Assad
  7. The Sower’s Song by Andrew Peterson
  8. Warrior by Hannah Kerr
  9. Break Every Chain by Jesus Culture
  10. Grow by Kolby Koloff

Fool with a Fancy Guitar, Shine, Meant to Be, and Many Roads are especially relevant to the heart of a creative, and if you’re limited on time, I’d at least listen to those first! In the video I linked to Fool, Andrew explains he wrote it after reading someone’s negative review of one of his albums. I love that! Because it’s good to experience a piece of art created in response to struggle, isn’t it?

Armor Shop Pic

I hope this gives you some beauty, some truth, and some powerful encouragement. I hope you can take some time to yourself when you can really pay attention to the lyrics of these songs; let them sink in.

(Did you know that I have my own music page here on the website? It’s at the top of the page under “Music.” Or you can just click here.)

 

 

 

On Being Creative {A Series}

Welcome to the homepage for the “On Being Creative” Series!

On Being Creative: A Series for the Hearts and Minds of Creatives Everywhere

 

This has been on my heart for awhile, because of what God’s been doing IN my heart. Writing for this series feels like I’m stretching some shaky, uncoordinated mental and emotional muscles with shaky, uncoordinated words to match.

 

But if you’re willing to walk a tremulous bridge of vulnerability, I welcome you into a deep and secret place where all my thoughts and desires regarding creativity live. May my pain meet yours where it’s at, may hope chase close behind, may my fumbling words say something good (may they say something period), and where you and I encounter my limits, may we see beyond them to the limitlessness of God, the first and greatest Creator.

 

You’ll find links to each post as they’re added. Come back any time! And please, I welcome your own contributions to the conversation. As we’ll see, stories build stronger bridges between us, and yours is no exception.

 

Day 1: Creativity: Practicality + Purpose + Place

Day 2: The Impossible Ache of the Creative Soul

Day 3: The One Word That Kills Creativity

Day 4: Five Tips to Cultivate Creativity

Day 5: Why Believing in Yourself Doesn’t Work {For the Creative Who Can’t Right Now}

Day 6: A Creative’s Playlist

Day 7: Minstrels and Bards {That’s What We Are}

Artist of the Month: Heather Hernandez

I am so honored to introduce May’s Artist of the Month with you! Heather Hernandez is a wife and mother of two, writing about embracing divine joy in every season. We met recently over the interwebs, via our mutual membership in an excellent website called Hope*Writers.

Encouragement flows naturally out of Heather and subsequently her writing, because it is innately part of her. She writes over at rejoicinginlife.com where you can find more encouragement as a mom, creative, and/or human being. Heather was recently featured at (in)courage as well, which is a website devoted to creating a new home for the hearts of women to connect and thrive with God and each other.

You’ll also find some excellent FREE resources when you subscribe to Heather’s blog that will help you embrace the season you are in through faith, organization, and really good questions to ask yourself.

Today, she generously shares how to live a creative and artful life well from a place of purpose and peace.

heather and juan_0018

 

“God wrote, ‘I love you’— he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea.  He wrote his message everywhere!  Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror — to show us what he is like, to help us to know him, to make our hearts sing.”  Sally Lloyd Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible

I was reading this to my son yesterday and it stuck with me.

Because all of creation, all of the beauty God lavishly painted across the sea, the earth, the sky, and the stars, all of his ART…it all points us back to him.  It whispers to us deep in our souls and spirits about who he is.

He poured out his creativity into his creation.  Into us.

And I believe that all of us have that spark.  That divine well of creativity that when we are soaking in His words, His song, His beauty, His creation, enables us to live creative, beautiful, artful lives wherever we are at, in so many different ways.

It’s been almost seventeen years since my father died and it wasn’t until last month when I wrote about him living his life well, that I realized part of why I thought he lived it well was because he was making art with his life.

I think that looks like being present, blooming where you are planted, using limitations for inspiration, doing the things that make you more fully yourself and using the gifts our Creator bestowed upon you.

For my father, that looked like, transforming our little backyard into his own mini farm, woodworking, leather working, hiking, camping, fishing, taking classes in Western history, and writing a book by hand during his lunch breaks and cracks of time.  It also looked like playing, and chasing, and wrestling with my brother and I.

He didn’t have acres of land to farm or the money to buy one.  He didn’t have the ability to quit his “regular” job and write for a living.  But he didn’t let the limitations stop him from using his gifts and pursuing the things he loved.  He lived and loved and died well.  And his life pointed everyone back to the Creator.

I inherited my love of writing from him.  There have been a lot of stops and starts and redirections along the way, but I’m finally feeling like I have a purpose in it all.  That I have something to write about.

But this season for me is one of pregnancies and raising babies and making a home.  And so it looks like finding my cracks of time to write and create and dream.  And remembering to be present with my children and my husband.  To see the limitations as ways to decide what is important and refine my focus.

I think there is this idea that bigger is better.  That we have to be on the NY Times Bestseller list, or reach hundreds of thousands with our words.  That we need to be selling albums, or be a nationally recognized name, or grow our businesses bigger and bigger.

But I think when we measure value by the number of sales, page views, and likes, we are missing the mark.

It is so easy to compare my life, my purpose, my gifts to other people.  Especially the well known ones who do have the big numbers, likes, and followers.  But we are all unique and we are in different places and seasons and God’s purposes for our lives are as vast and varied as His creation.

And the person who is faithful where they are planted, who blooms there as they cultivate and care for their patch of ground, their little family, their little community.  They are doing just as valuable work as the person who is speaking to the masses.

It’s not about the quantity of what we have to offer, or even the number of people we touch.  It’s about offering up our gifts to God and listening to what He is calling US to do and being faithful in that.

In the interest of my love for lists, here are some things I think we can do to be purposeful about living more creative and artful lives.

1. Be Present.  

It’s so easy to drift through life always thinking about the next thing on the To Do list (Ahem, Me!) Try to stop and slow down and be present in what you are doing.  Really take in your surroundings when you’re going for a walk.  Give your children some focused attention and listen to what they are saying.  Dance in the kitchen.  Sing with the kids.  Savor your cup of coffee.  Use your five senses.

2.  Where Are You Planted?  

Take stock of your season and your responsibilities.  What are your limitations right now?  They can change sometimes without us really noticing.  Be realistic about what you have time for.

3.  Use Your Limitations for Inspiration.

Take the parameters of those limitations and think about what you can do within them.  Prioritize what is important to you and your family and refine your focus and purpose for this particular season.

4.  Use Your Gifts.  

What do you love?  What skills and abilities did the Lord give you?  What makes you feel alive and energized?  Write them down and think about ways you can use them in your life.  You may not have room for all of them at once.  Come up with what you can do right now in this season and pick some to add in.  Depending on how much time and energy you have in your season, it may look as simple as writing while the kids are napping, or inviting another mom over for coffee once a week or sketching after the kids are in bed, or playing the piano for your children.

5. How Can You Help and/or Enrich Other’s Lives?  

This goes hand in hand with using your gifts.  Once you decide what you love and which things to make time for, then think about how you can use them to help others or enrich others lives.  Can you make dinners for new mothers? (They SUPER appreciate this, I guarantee!)  Maybe start writing encouraging notes to people, or help in the nursery at church, or do something to raise money for charity.  Ask the Lord to show you opportunities that are a good fit for your season.

6.  Keep Your Well Filled.  

This should perhaps be #1 as well.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness, in the cares of this world and stop dwelling on God and my well dries up, and I feel like I don’t have anything to pour back out.  Anything to fuel that kind of art.

I think that’s why it’s so important to dwell on the true, the noble, the just, the pure, the lovely, the admirable, the excellent, and the praiseworthy.  (Phillippians 4:8)

To seek out the things of beauty.  To fill ourselves up so we have something to give, to create.

To reflect the glory of God.

So remember, you are special and unique and don’t have to be anyone except who God created you to be.  You can live artfully no matter what season you are in and what your particular gifts and talents are.  And everything you have to offer is valuable and you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone.

And all of this beauty?  All of creation?

It is his message of “I love you”.

Artist of the Month: Humilitea House {Everyday Arts by Kara Cline}

For February’s Artist of the Month, we are featuring Kara Cline of Humilitea House!!! This post has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited that Kara is sharing her heart with you today! I met Kara when I was a freshman in college and have counted her one of my dearest friends ever since. Almost immediately after meeting her, I experienced her decided spiritual gift of hospitality; even in our crumbly dorm rooms, hers always felt like someplace homey and peaceful, where there was always a cup of hot tea in your hand practically right after you set foot in the door.

Kara is multi-talented as a gifted photographer, potter, writer, painter, hand-letterer, and musician (and probably something else she hasn’t bothered to mention to me), with a deep and abiding love of Jesus and every person she meets (with whom she is immediately friends).

I can’t say enough about Kara’s generous and perceptive heart, nor her overflowing creativity, nor her gorgeous flowing locks of golden hair. (I mean, seriously people, no one has hair like hers…) So, I’ll just stop saying things and let her take over. I’m sure there’s enough hot tea or coffee- or both- here for you and enough good words for your soul, too. Enjoy.

windblown Kara

Hello fellow artist hearts and kindred spirits. Allow me to share a cup of coffee with you for a few moments, welcome you to my kitchen table as the snowflakes swirl outside, and be vulnerable with you.  I want to share something I struggle with every day.  You see, I’ve been procrastinating. Procrastinating to write this blog post, and, really, to create in general… because I’m afraid.

green vine

If I take a long hard look, I’m really astonished at how fear has managed to snake it’s way into my heart.  Entwining it’s coils around every beautiful young plant that God has intended for good and for strength. It suffocates delicate shoots before they even press all the way through the soil, and chokes the light out of things that my Creator desires to use to help bring about wholeness and healing in this broken world.

yellow leaf

As an artist I look at the tangled mess in my spirit and a voice slithers out and says that I am alone in this. The voice mocks and claims that God cannot use anything that comes from these two hands.  The voice reasons that I am ugly through and through, and that no beauty can come from such a jumble of insecurities and half-hearted attempts at creating.

snow on red

But, dear children of the Living God, I say this to myself as much as to you. That voice is a liar.

statue

Christ has rescued me from the power of sin and death. Through His blood He has transformed me from a charred sinner into His holy and beautiful daughter. He has completely changed my life! Why, why, WHY then do I insist on viewing His gift of creativity in my life as a filthy rag?  Why am I ashamed of it, holding it at arms length and desperately searching for a place to hide it lest people discover I’m a fraud?  Why am I terrified of practice and of falling down? Why am I so prideful that I allow fear to keep me from sharing such gifts?  Why do I say they aren’t good enough?

chimney

I’m rejecting His gifts and I’m making the Holy Spirit heartsick.

Friends, even though that deceptive voice keeps telling me that I’m alone, I know that I’m not. Once you dig through the surface, so many of us artists struggle with the exact same thing, but we’re fighting a battle that has already been won on our behalf.

“… for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

“ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

For so long I have let this fear and procrastination prevent the use of so many blessings. I can make excuses and put off sitting down to my pottery wheel, picking up my camera, or pressing my piano keys, and I usually do. I envision myself in an imaginary future where I am suddenly adept at all of those skills, or I look through my Instagram feed and fuel the consuming fire of comparison until I am immobilized. The real tragedy of this though, is that my days on this earth are passing more quickly each year, and I am wasting the precious time that my Father has given me.  It may sound dramatic, but it is nonetheless true.  We are eternal beings, yes, but our time in this world is not infinite.

Lucy

How can we let such gifts stagnate when this globe is crying out for hope and purpose? It is no coincidence that the favorite tools of the enemy against creatives are fear and discouragement.  The liar wants to keep us deceived.  We have been blessed with creative voices.  They are voices that are meant to be used, and used right now.  Yes, we will create countless things that are far from perfection, but our God is a God who takes broken things and makes them beautiful.

Psalm 139 14

 

So please, be encouraged from someone who is still fighting those lies.  Whether your gifts are music, sculpting, homemaking, writing, painting, conversation, or a myriad of other combinations, don’t listen to the deception anymore that you have no place in the world as an artist.  Turn your attention to the one who gave you such wonderful gifts…and pour out.

gnarledtreePour out to the One who has made you, dear friends.  Pour out healing beauty on this fractured earth, and be not afraid.

watercolor pottery

 

I’m so thankful for Kara stopping by to share these vulnerable thoughts that so often plague us as artist, and for sharing a sampling of her beautiful photography with us!!!  (Remember back in October when she did our family photos? She captured us so perfectly!) You can see more of her photography here. Coming soon is her Etsy shop of her gorgeous, rustic ceramic creations! I’ll be sure to share the link with you all as soon as it’s up.