MomGirl Products are HERE! Plus, a Giveaway!

Look! Up in the sky- it’s a bird! It’s a plane! No. It’s MomGirl!!!

She is here, y’all!!! MomGirl products are officially up on my shop to order! I’ve been working so hard on these for a couple months, trying to figure out how best to offer my messy-bunned, legging-clad, coffee-drinking superhero to the world.

So, if you are in need of some MomGirl in your life (or if you know someone who does), here are all the goodies so far! Click on any of the pictures to be taken to the listings within my Etsy shop.

(Side Note: I sense this post will be filled with all the exclamation marks and much all-capping. You have been warned.)

First, greeting cards!!! 

There are 3 cards up in the shop at the moment, which are the following:

 

GAH. Aren’t they so cute?!?! (Is that ok to say about your own artwork? I’m just so excited about them!) Each card comes with the teal envelope you see pictured.

Each card has a fun caption inside, too.

 

 

Here’s the second one:

 

And here’s the third:

Plus, they’re pink on the back!

You can see more details and/or purchase any of the cards over on my Etsy shop, Ebenezer Designs! 

 

NOW. Prepare yourself for what I’m all giddy-like-Hermione-Granger-in-Gilderoy Lockhart’s class about.

Letters from MomGirl- aka a MomGirl Subscription!!!

YOU GUYS. I’m so excited. SO EXCITED!!! Ok. Here’s how it works. You can choose from a 3, 6, or 12-month subscription, which will feature one 5×7 MomGirl print per month, with a short note of encouragement on the back from me, MomGirl! (Gasp! I’ve said too much…now people will know I’M MomGirl…) 

Here’s what I can promise about the encouragement: it’s real, it’s brief, and it’s lighthearted. Moms carry enough weight- baby or otherwise- and levity is such a gift when you’re parenting littles and overwhelm hovers ominously close by.

Plus, it arrives each month in a pretty pink envelope!

This subscription is an ideal gift for new moms, no matter how many children they have! But really? It’s a gift for anyone who feels like a hot mess. MomGirl is here to say- “Me too, girl.” She wears a messy bun for the fourth day in a row, throws on that pair of leggings with the mysterious crust on them, and loves on her people the best she can- often while doing one or more jobs on top of all that!

I wanted to offer something that would be a means of support and a smidgen of self-care to those who need it. Hopefully, these Letters from MomGirl can be a vehicle for that!

SO. In celebration of launching these MomGirl goodies, I wanted to offer a gift and a giveaway.

Here’s how to get the gift:

The first 3 people who purchase the MomGirl subscription (regardless of 3, 6, or 12 month) will receive a custom print of themselves as MomGirl!

Here’s the giveaway:

One lucky winner will receive a MomGirl care package including one MomGirl greeting card, a pack of these watercolor thank you cards, and a Starbucks gift card! (So you can get your coffee on.)

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Purchase any MomGirl product.
  2. Subscribe to this blog.
  3. For bonus entries, repost one of the MomGirl posts on my Instagram and tag me in it using the handle above!

This giveaway will run for one week, ending on May 25, 2017!

I have been so excited to share this with you, and hope you enjoy these goodies!!!

Keep on momming.

MomGirl, out.

 

P.S. You know what another fabulous method of self-care is? Listening to the Kindred Mom podcast which just launched yesterday!! I am already enjoying listening to these ladies share encouragement from their journeys in motherhood. PLUS, THEY are doing a giveaway too, which includes stuff from Magnolia Market y’all. MAGNOLIA MARKET. Go check them out here! And enter their giveaway by following them on IG @kindred_mom

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!

Imperfect, Artful Living. {Sweet Days + iPhone Memories + Art}

Man. I can’t believe our 2nd baby girl is about to join us. Any day now… Really. Any day. *AHEM.*

I was looking through my phone and the RIDICULOUS amount of photos there, and saw the increasing fullness of this year- from my belly to our schedules- and back to my belly. It’s been dizzying (sometimes downright nauseating- ha), unexpected, miraculously productive, risky, and so good.

 

all-the-art

 

I’ve been so blessed to work on multiple custom orders for the shopnew exciting illustration projects that hopefully you’ll hear about some time, whimsical thank you cards, and of course the autumn pieces I shared recently which are my happy place. All of this means I’ve not only created more items for the shop, but I’ve had more business- real, actual business- from the shop this year! Easily more than double last year! That’s such a huge blessing.

 

Beyond work or the shop or any measurable productivity, as summer wraps up- ANY DAY NOW please– I find the deluge of iPhone photos reminding me it hasn’t been all to-do lists and travels (though often it felt that way). 

There have been coffee shop visits, in which much prancing around in tutus occurred:

coffee-shop-1coffee-shop-dance

 

There was the annual weekend lakehouse trip with our small group:

 

lakehouse-4

lakehouse-2lakehouse-3

 

There was the incredible and unexpected experience of getting to perform 8 months pregnant at Gospelfest in Kettering, Ohio alongside 9 other artists (and Sidewalk Prophets!)- all of whom had to audition back in June (except Sidewalk Prophets…obviously). That process alone was a risk for me, and definitely a challenge, considering Ryan had to take the afternoon off work and lug a keyboard and equipment and our toddler across town to make that even happen!

It was one surprising moment after another- not the least of which was being asked by one of the audition judges to be on her radio show the day before the performance! I’ve definitely never done that before. Lucy enjoyed it, too!

 

img_7473

Oh, don’t mind my crazy eyes and dorky face. I was just freaking out a little…

img_7474

 

The concert happened the next day in an outdoor venue. Naturally, the weather decided to helpfully be either 91 degrees with 200% humidity or crazy thunderstorms that caused a 45 minute delay- RIGHT before it was my turn to perform. So, just more time for me to feel nauseous backstage, no big deal… (My husband was so awesome; at one point during our wait, he said, “You’re gonna Adele the crap out of this place.” I just love that man.)

 

poncho-tastic

 

In case you’re wondering what love looks like? It wears a raging bright orange poncho. And it runs through the rain to make sure all your stuff is okay.

Oh yeah! I had a booth there too… that’s the stuff to which I’m referring. All the artists had the option of utilizing a booth, and this was my very first time actually having all my Etsy shop stuff out somewhere for purchase!

 

booth-5

 

(Hey look- Bethany is totally hiding in the background! And WOW I’m so pregnant in this photo. Who knew I could get even more pregnant than this?)

That whole weekend was filled with such meaning and encouragement! Dear friends rode over with my parents- a 2 hour drive one way- to come and see me perform (and get totally drenched in sweat followed by torrents of rain). Not to mention people from our church who came out to support me, and even other extended family who I rarely get to see! I felt overwhelmed with encouragement and that they all took the time to come and be part of such a great experience with me!

Then, the last two weekends were occupied with two separate women’s retreats…at which I led worship. Because I’m super good at planning. Yet, in spite of how exhausting it is to really do anything at this point, all of those endeavors were such a blessing! I’ve prayed for God to open doors and provide opportunities for me to utilize the abilities I have, and I’ve even prayed for opportunities to risk!

This year has been chock full of those. Throughout the summer, I’ve just prayed desperately that God would help me get all the work done I needed to before Evie is born! But now, other than my desire for her to arrive, I’ve prayed that he would help me savor the sweetness of these days, of these answered prayers, and especially this time with Lucy before we go from a family of 3 to a family of 4.

Yesterday, I told Lu we were going to have special Mommy + Lucy time and do fun stuff. “Fun stuff!” she gasped, “For us??” Just like that, which was the cutest ever. I kept it simple, which is pretty much all I have capacity for anyway, and documented our “fun stuff” as follows:

  1. Fall Coloring Pages- free via Google!

coloring

I decided to make it feel semi-preschool-ish and talk all about fall, because obviously. So, after we talked about pumpkins and acorns and leaves and colored several pages, we watched some youtube videos for kids about fall which she loved. (Notice: she is looking super adorable in Ryan’s old Cubs t-shirt from when he was a little boy! How cute is that?!)

2. Making Peanut Butter Cookies! This was a brave activity for me to do with her. It was the first time I’ve ever had her help me make anything, thus I picked the easiest thing I could think of that was also cookies. My mom’s PB cookies have literally 3 ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes and BAM! Peanut butter cookie deliciousness. There is no possible way you can mess these up. Oh, and you can sprinkle sugar on the top of them if you want. That’s optional. However, making a criss-cross pattern with a fork on each one is mandatory. I’m pretty sure that’s what makes them so good…

 

Lucy was a great helper! She helped dump the sugar in:

dumping-the-sugar

Then she got to help stir with the bright green “fa-tchua!” which pretty much made her life.

excited-cookie-face

 

And then that 10-minute wait, in which we could barely contain our excitement as the cookies baked… Then they were done!

 

pb-cookies-2

Then this happened so fast, I’m pretty sure she just inhaled it.

eating-cookies

 

These aren’t perfect pictures. They were not carefully curated to be part of a blog post. But they’re here because this is part of living beautifully.

This is part of leaning into the art made in the imperfect moments: when you still have storage bins in the middle of your living room that have been there for weeks or your little one is in mismatched pajamas, or you find yourself wearing the same top and leggings all the time because literally nothing else fits because of the new life preparing to arrive (as evidenced by this rare photo of my prego-profile… I don’t typically post lots/any of those).

 

prego

 

I’m happy sharing our moments of imperfect art with you. Freshly baked from my iPhone. With a criss-cross pattern and sugar sprinkled on top.

For a little while, I’ll take a breather from writing here. But rest assured I won’t be able to stay away long! See you soon- most likely with lots more iPhone photos. Much Love!

 

pb-cookies

 

P.S. I almost forgot!!! 4 of my original songs are NOW AVAILABLE on Noisetrade!!!!! Eeep! I’m SO excited about this!!! CLICK HERE to go visit the page and download them!

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.)

 

How I Happy: July 2016 Edition

You guys. I have SUCH a good July How-I-Happy Roundup for you! It was going to be June’s… until I was the vocal director for a kids theater camp last week and thought I could do all the things. {Spoiler alert: I can’t.} Also, I think I forget just how much being pregnant wipes you the heck out!

Speaking of which, we are officially in the 3rd trimester, friends. Batten down the hatches. Secure all your loved ones. For your own safety, carry around some coffee in case you bump into me somewhere…

Anyway, here are the fabulous, delightful things I’m happying with right now:

  1. The day I pooped my closet– This post. It is THE SINGLE MOST HILARIOUS THING I’ve ever read. EVER. I think Ryan and I were both in tears we were laughing so hard when I read it aloud to him. I mean. Just go read it. I don’t care if you don’t get any further in this post. (Though you’d be missing some pretty fabulous stuff.)
  2. Still moments from Emily P. Freeman– Deep breaths for the soul. That’s what these short recordings feel like. (It makes her blog’s tagline “creating space for the soul to breathe” very apropos.) She will send you 7 days worth of free audio-devotionals. They’re brief but breathable. Plus, they’re accompanied by a lovely piano played in the background (by Emily herself, I think). Emily says these are for you, “If you long for a few quiet moments but aren’t quite sure how to get them.” Amen and amen.
  3.  These shoes. happy shoesI’d been pinning photos of cute outfits featuring these white sneakers, but I realized they were Converse, aka expensive. (Example: here.) But I don’t care about the brand- I just wanted some practical shoes that were also super cute! So, when I happened upon these at Target (where all pretty things live), it was love at first sight, and I decided to contrive a way to acquire them. After selling a schmancy purse that I don’t even use or really like any more at Clothes Mentor (aka the greatest consignment shop ever), I had more than enough $$ to claim my prize! Huzza!!! (She cried, hoisting her bayonet into the air…) I’m talking a lot about these shoes, but PEOPLE. They look cute with Every. Outfit. They look good with shorts, jeans, dresses… seriously. Every outfit. Go get yo self a pair because I got the Last Size 8 they had when I bought them!!
  4. These Warrior Princess bookmarks with Ephesians 6 on them! IMG_6749 Click the pic to visit the listing in my shop! I am just so excited about these beauties. They’ve got the feisty warrior princess on one side, and the full passage from Ephesians 6:13-17 on the other. Basically, I want to be this warrior princess when I grow up.
  5. Speaking of warrior princesses, I had the sweetest custom order from a lady who wanted to know if I could illustrate a warrior princess to look like her daughter- is that not so fun? So, because it won’t be in the shop for anyone else, I just wanted to share this piece here with you:FullSizeRender
  6. I WON an Instagram Giveaway. I actually won!!! Have you heard of Lauren Becker? I just discovered her on Instagram a few months ago, and I am loving her stuff! I say “stuff” because she is not only a singer/songwriter, but an artist as well. She did an IG giveaway weeks ago, and I was the winner- woohoo!!! Lauren Becker Giveaway PackageI received this fabulous package of goodies, including two signed albums, a copy of The Invitation New Testament, some lovely stationery, and a little book full of her beautiful hand lettering!!! If you’re looking for some beauty in your IG feed, you can follow Lauren here: @laurenbeckermusic and you can find her albums and other info at her website: lauren-becker.com. Here’s one of her songs I super love right now:

     

  7. My Husband. Seriously. DSC_0720Earlier this week, he took a few hours out of his work day to drive with Lucy and me to this audition for Kettering Medical Health’s GospelFest featuring Sidewalk Prophets (a free concert happening at the end of August)!Of course it started storming just as we were trying to get in the car, and of course our toddler had a giant meltdown in the process, and of course it was a 35-minute drive down a traffic-ridden interstate in the wind and pouring rain to get there. 

    But we got there and it was awesome. I literally couldn’t have done it without him. He had to lug the keyboard and its accoutrements into the building and answer what were probably rudimentary tech questions (but which I could not answer nonetheless) and keep Lucy entertained while the judges talked to me and listened to me perform… Post-crazy-rainstorm/toddler meltdown, the whole experience was just an immense encouragement and blessing for me.

    For my spouse to take so much time and endure so much utter inconvenience to pursue something like this for me speaks love loudly. (And people should know how awesome he is, dang it!) Whether I get picked to perform or not, it was totally worth it. So, thanks for believing in me, Hubs. (And loving me, and carrying stuff for me, and wrangling our child and her emotional rollercoasters, and reminding me of the obvious answers to those judges’ questions…) Still not sure if he’s really the Best Husband Ever? Just look at one of my most favorite pictures of all time from our wedding rehearsal: Best Groom Ever (Photo courtesy of Bailey Roberts Photography, who is amazing!)

    How are you happying this summer? Comment and let me know!! Especially if you’re pregnant and have special summer pregnancy hacks I should know about…

Day 7: Minstrels and Bards {A Song + Giveaway}

Welcome to Day 7 of the On Being Creative series! You’ll find links to all the posts as they’re added on the series’ homepage here.

Day 7

To wrap up this series, I’m offering a song I wrote about being a kingdom creative, someone who is a Christ-follower, who knows that ancient longing of every soul- for Home and for his presence.Lengthen-the-steps edit

No matter the manifestation of our creativity (painting, drawing, teaching, writing, parenting, baking, under-water-basket-weaving…), we are all story-tellers. We travel the world, never quite at home, telling about the goodness and glory of God. Kind of like those old-timey traveling bards.

That’s where this song came from. That’s what we are (minus the tights and feathered caps…or not. I don’t know your life). And I make jokes because it makes me nervous any time I share songs I’ve written. So let me straight up ask you for kindness and generosity as you listen and read the lyrics. Maybe- if it stirs you a little- maybe you’d share it with someone else?

We gather and scatter to tell the story
And whether together or apart
our hearts beat in time with glory
That’s how it goes on the road of sacred art

Creation sings haunting melodies
Of what was lost, a garden peace
Harmony turned to sorrow
The only homeland we know
Is the one in tales told
On coldest of nights they shine bright
Like a star we can follow

In rags and shadows we house a great light
We sing of seeing it conquer the night
Minstrels and bards pointing to what’s written in the stars
If you’ve got an ear, you can hear the song in our hearts

Have you heard
The good word
Grace and truth
It’s everywhere
Earth and air
And heavens too

It beats like a drum
Eternity a hum
Resonating
With every little beat
Of the songs we sing
It’s our remaking

Fiery words and holy tones
Hallelujahs burning in my bones
Of all of us the body and the blood of the redeemed
Minstrels and bards pointing to what’s written in the stars
If you’ve got an ear, you can hear the song in our hearts

When we sing our songs we
Fill with ancient longing
Those who stay find their way
When we tell our stories
We tell about his glory
Light has come, light has won
And it’s coming back for us

In rags and shadows we house a great light
We sing of seeing it conquer the night
Fiery words and holy tones
Hallelujahs burning in the bones
Of all of us the body and the blood of the redeemed
Minstrels and bards pointing to what’s written in the stars
If you’ve got an ear, you can hear the song in our hearts

(A little bit of my baby bump made it into this video… Hi baby!)

So what have we learned in this series? We talked about 4 Reasons We Make Artwe learned that it’s ok to ache and that art isn’t about resultswe hushed the word that kills creativity, some tips for cultivating creativity, why believing in yourself doesn’t work (and maybe when it does), and we took a deep breath of good music and encouragement.

DSC_0653-2

I mean, I know we said art isn’t really about productivity, but man have we been productive or what?! Anyway, if you’ve stuck with me through the whole series, let me just say- THANK YOU. It means so much that you would allow my words to come alongside you in your own story.

letters 3

Has this series encouraged you? Have you been reading along? Leave a comment and let me know! Which post most resonated with you? Which was your favorite?

Oh, and you’re probably wondering about that GIVEAWAY, right?

You can enter to win this printable from my shop for FREE!

Art is a Bell Mockup

Here are all the ways you can enter:

  1. Subscribe to the blog- it’s a great way to keep bringing encouragement, community, and inspiration to your creative soul.
  2. Follow me on Instagram @haylieallcott
  3. Like the blog’s Facebook page here.

(Subscribers will soon receive extras like free printables, extra content, + discounts for the shop. Yay!)

If you’re new to this space, here’s what you can expect from the blog:

  • I feature a new, unique artist every month (that’s coming up next week!) to inspire and uplift, as well as to expose more people to some excellent creatives out there!
  • You’ll also find a monthly How I Happy post, to remind you to live artful and unapologetic delight.
  • I also share music as well as illustrations for my Etsy shop, Ebenezer Designs and more! I only post at most 2 times a week, so your inbox will be happy to see me (versus being like, geez this chick AGAIN?!)

My prayer is that this series brought some encouragement and spoke some truth to some discouraged creative soul out there. Keep building that community around you. Keep making your art. Keep telling the story.

Giveaway now closed, but subscribe anyway to keep receiving good stuff for your creative soul!

Shop Feature: Colossians 3:16

I love Colossians. Specifically, I love Colossians 3.

For the last couple of years or so, I keep coming back to it every so often, finding that I didn’t know how thirsty my soul gets for these words.

I recently thought (not for the first time), I want to hand-letter this whole chapter!!! But other priorities made me realize I probably shouldn’t do that. Yet.

So, to satiate a little of that desire, I just hand-lettered a part of 3:16 with some rustic, swirly letters.

Ebenezer Designs- Colossians 3:16

 

This is from the English Standard Version. I just love it. And I love that word- “richly.” Another word for that is “abundantly.”

It reminds me of what Jesus said in John 10:10 about coming so that we may have abundant life through him. (If you’re new here, you might like checking out the Reclaiming Abundance Project from awhile back.)

Verses like this remind me why I started Ebenezer Designs in the first place.

If you love Colossians 3 as much as I do, this printable is available in my shop for just $7. (You can click the pic to go straight to the listing in Etsy.)

I hope you enjoy it!

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.

 

Artist of the Month: Dogwood and Oak! {Becca Woodbury}

It’s time for December’s Artist of month! I’m SO thrilled for you to hear from the heart and art of my dear friend, Becca, the creator behind this lovely wreathery on Etsy called Dogwood and Oak(Is wreathery a thing? Never mind, I’ve decided it is. I mean, what else do you call a shop that sells wreaths? Plus it sounds fancy schmancy.) Becca and I go way back to our days as lowly baristas in tie-dye t-shirts (ick) in East Tennessee. Her quiet but honest spirit always encourages me; her humor and sass always surprise me (don’t let the quiet thing fool you- she’s hilarious).

And if you’ve ever struggled with justifying making time for creativity in your life, this post is for you. Welcome, friend. Enjoy! (And P.S. There may be a gift of the discount variety just for you at the end of this post…)

img_2142

As a kid, I loved art in so many forms; you name it, and I was into it. I sketched, painted, made Christmas ornaments, scrapbooked, wrote short stories, read like it was my job, and played piano. As I got older and had more claims on my time, I gradually let many of these hobbies fall by the wayside in order to take care of my responsibilities. The creative activities that still found a place in my life went from activities I got to do to things I had to do, such as reading for school or practicing a piano piece for a recital. Before long, as is often the case with necessity, the joy was gone.

When I had the option, I dropped the things I had once loved. Music had become so stressful and full of outer expectations that I begged to quit taking lessons — and then went years without even touching a piano. I read what I had to for school assignments and nothing more. My life had become so structured that I didn’t feel like I had the mental capacity for creativity. My free time went to mindless activities that numbed me and passed the time, but did nothing to heal or refresh — often the opposite (hello, Facebook).

I lived a life virtually devoid of art — my own or anyone else’s — for years while I worked to reach my academic and professional goals. I immersed myself in three and a half years of undergrad and two years of grad school, allowing myself very little outside activity. As I neared the end of my masters program, my professors talked to my class about the need to have hobbies, particularly creative ones, in order to prevent burnout once we began working. I was surprised, but I made a mental note. It was only when everything came to a screeching halt that I realized how important their advice was.

Long story short, a move to a new city that was supposed to bring plenty of opportunity has been a huge disappointment. I rarely work, spending most days at home while my husband is at his job, and I don’t know anyone. I realized several months ago that I had two options: I could (continue to) spend every minute of every day agonizing over job applications and wondering what was wrong; or I could give myself some grace and allow myself to have hobbies in this unique period of waiting.

(Click the pick to see the Etsy listing!)

unnamed-3

For the first time in a long time, I picked up a book simply because it interested me — and finished it quickly. One book turned to 26 as I began (and soon finished) a reading challenge, my enthusiasm growing with each book. This kickstarted a memory of my interest in writing, the fact that I had considered journalism in college, and I soon began my blog. I remembered the joy of physically creating something, and my Etsy shop was born.

(Click the pic to see the Etsy listing!)

unnamed

I wish I could say it’s been easy to tap into my creative side again, but those muscles were severely atrophied. It has been a joy, absolutely, to pick up where I left off all those years ago and to discover new outlets that I love. But, to be perfectly honest, I’ve been scared. There have been times — so many times — when I didn’t feel good enough to do anything creative. You know how “comparison is the thief of joy” and all that jazz? It’s easy to read all about it in an insanely gorgeous font on Instagram and say yes and amen until you actually do something that makes you feel vulnerable.

(Click the pic to see the Etsy listing!)

unnamed-4

The comparison game is far too easy to play, despite the fact that we all know nobody wins. And yet, I sometimes can’t stop the thoughts… I’m not as creative as this other person. I’m out of practice. How will anything I do matter?

unnamed

Gradually, I’ve realized that creating, in and of itself, is a thrill. It’s an expression of the God-given heart that is uniquely yours. Your creations may never hang in a gallery or soothe hipsters while they mull over life in a coffee shop, but even if another soul never sees/hears/experiences what you make, it matters for you, the creator. It matters when you pour your heart into something that moves you. It matters when you use your abilities to make something beautiful for God’s glory, whether it’s shared or private. It matters when your whole body and mind feel refreshed and ready to face life, even if all you’ve done is get lost in a coloring book.

(Click the pick to see the Etsy listing!)

unnamed-2

There are always reasons why we shouldn’t create. Time. Resources. Stress. Lack of confidence. But you don’t have to be Taylor Swift to make something important and refreshing for your soul. Love and nurture your inner creator.

It matters.

I know you probably loved reading Becca’s thoughts about this seemingly impractical act of being creative (or even just, you know- reading a book!) as much as I did. So thankful for her and her beautiful shop!!!

And guess what- EXCLUSIVELY for readers of her post today, Dogwood and Oak is giving a 10% discount with the code longlivebeauty at her shop! (Plus, currently ALL Christmas wreaths are marked down!!!) Also, follow @dogwoodandoak on Instagram for further festive additions to her shop and sales!

Abide: Yet in Thy Dark Streets Shineth

I love this time of year. Yet sometimes, when darkness falls early, with an ungraceful thud, I find it to be kind of a bummer.

Especially when it’s 4:30 PM and already too dark to take a decent picture of new pieces for the shop… And even more especially when I’m extra-excited about them.

That was the case for what would’ve been yesterday’s post. (And is now today’s.) This lyric has taken up residence in my heart for the past month or so, as I thought about the dearest phrases of Christmas time.

(This piece will be up in the shop by tonight at 10pm!)

Everlasting Light 2

I said recently that winter is dark. (I know- thanks, Captain Obvious.) And so is the world. And yet– in earth’s darkest time of the year, we celebrate light. We celebrate the Light. The Word came down and spoke a new word to us- hope.

A Thrill

The world is dark.

Yet. We have the hope of Christ dwelling in us- the hope of glory. That’s a pretty powerful “yet.”

One powerful reason why I love that line.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light. 

Everlasting Light 1

It gives me hope that Christ really can and does abide in me. After all, his name is Emmanuel- God with us. If I can just get out of the way…That’s the hard part.

I had a conversation with a friend this week about how if I just focused on Jesus, delighting in the Lord, and seeking his kingdom I probably wouldn’t be hindered by all the ways I’m broken.

IMG_4062

Do you do that, too? Put yourself back into the chains from which Christ has already freed you? Like being stuck in some impossible level of an old video game where you are forced to wander but can’t get anywhere, I often feel stuck in my own darkness.

Yet. It’s one of the best three-letter-words ever. Jesus takes hold of my circular thoughts and hushes my run-on sentences with this one phrase.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light.

Really? In these dark streets? The well-worn paths of shame I’ve walked in my heart? I’ve been stuck in that part of town for so long. I long to find where he is and stay there in his presence.

Prepare Him Room

We make it so hard, but I think if I can just focus on the light, I won’t be so confounded by darkness.

That’s why there are so many songs worth singing at Christmas time. Let’s rejoice! Let’s forget and let go of our old paths; that’s not who we are anymore. I know it’s hard, because we get so used to depending on ourselves (which is like driving a car which could die at any time), but abiding means we depend on Jesus for everything now, starting with this moment.

As my friend Wendy always says, “If you can trust Jesus with your eternity, you can trust him with your now.”

I love this verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” which often doesn’t get sung:

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

“So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.”  Isn’t that so good?

I also love, “Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but something else Wendy shared with me is that the word “meek” in the Bible comes from the word that means “warhorse.” A creature that puts unmovable faith in its master, who can face a multitude of hostile enemies and go charging forward into the fray- because it’s master urged it to.

So, to say your soul is “meek” now paints a very different picture than it used to for me.

Not only am I redeemed, I am a servant with access to the power of the Most High God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The power to be set free from the petty prison-town of my old ways. That’s the Christmas Story.

And I really should know it, because I sing it to my daughter every night before she goes to sleep:

Jesus loves me, this I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to Him belong

They are weak but He is strong.

I feel all but made of weakness, yet he fills instead with strength. My default is thrashing ingratitude and blind self-absorption, yet he creates in me a new heart and redeems every failure with his sufficient grace.

I have a heart of darkness. Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the Everlasting Light.

Everlasting Light 2

May the story of Christ give you a thrill of hope today that chases away all your darkness.

 

 

Some holiday housekeeping for Ebenezer Designs:

  1. Remember, every print in my shop is a downloadable, digital print (unless otherwise specified). Obviously, these you can download and print yourself. BUT, if you decide you’d like to order a physical print to be mailed to you, you’ll notice that’s a separate listing for both 8×10 and 5×7 prints.
  2. Don’t forget about the Christmas cards!!! I’m SO excited about these, friends, and I only have about 9 sets left! And those are NOT downloadable. Remember each set comes with 4 different card designs. Rejoice Wreath Love Hans Comfort and Joy A Beautiful Sight
  3. Any item to be mailed- i.e. Christmas cards, physical prints, etc.- needs to be ordered by Wednesday, December 16th at the very latest. 
  4. There may be a special Christmas gift package on sale in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eye out for that!