When You’re Misunderstood {And There’s Nothing You Can Do}

It’s hard to be a lover of beauty and creating and things of the soul and be misunderstood by other human beings. I mean, just because someone isn’t artsy doesn’t mean they don’t have a soul; technically, aren’t we all soulful in some way?

Photography credit: Kara Cline Photography

But in spite of this, other people can seem like another species, whether it’s people you’re related to or someone you work with or even a friend. Maybe someone has misunderstood a dream that breaks your heart with its bigness, or maybe they misunderstood comments you’ve made, or a text you sent. (As far as communication goes, texting can really be the worst.) 

Sometimes, I think there are seasons of misunderstanding, or being misunderstood… or both. Where is the grace? It’s tempting to ask, brandishing a fist at the world. I think it’s a good question, especially as members of the body of Christ. How do we have grace with each other, no matter who is doing the misunderstanding?

Ecclesiastes 7:20-22 says,

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
    no one who does what is right and never sins.

Do not pay attention to every word people say,

    or you may hear your servant cursing you—

for you know in your heart
    that many times you yourself have cursed others.

Sometimes, we hear other people’s words, and we store them up in our heart and let them define us. At least, I do.

Photography credit: Kara Cline Photography

But they don’t define us. Neither does a perception someone has or even a lot of people. Even if we do something wrong, that doesn’t define us either.

We are defined as children of God. That’s where the grace is. Or rather, He is where the grace is. God is there, clothing us in redemption, and clothing others in it, too. Even those who misunderstand and hurt us (intentionally or otherwise). 

It still stings when they do. It’s not easy to just respond from a place of grace all the time (especially if it’s someone who just pushes your buttons, right?) But I’ve found that if- at the very least- I can catch myself before my blood hits boiling point, that I can coach myself to remember Christ. Oh yeah- and those redemption clothes I mentioned.

Where is the grace? It comes from God- and now because of Christ, it comes from me too. You know- theoretically. But perspective makes all the difference. Often, we have to fight for it.

So, here’s some perspective for you:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2: 1-11

You know what gets me about that section in Philippians 2? The part where it says, “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” My first instinct is, “Yes. That’s a good thing. Loving and serving others. Totally.” But my second is, “Wait, what? Even that person who has contributed nothing but stress, drama, angst, and tears to my life for months? Years?? Value them as better than myself????”

To which Jesus says, “Yes.” And that’s all he has to say. Because he has the authority to say it. If we are in Christ, then we are children of God, and therefore we are on level ground, because we are all his sons and daughters. So, I must give grace to Thorn-in-my-Side, because before the Lord their name is Child. And so is mine.

Photography credit: Kara Cline Photography

If you’re finding yourself in a conversation, a relationship, or a whole season of just being plain misunderstood, may this encourage you to settle into the good garments of grace- given through Jesus, who- to put it mildly- knows what it’s like to be misunderstood.

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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!

A Few Tools for Creative Juices {And Spring Starbucks Cups}

So, one of the purposes of this blog is theoretically to talk about and/or wrestle with being an artist (in all the senses of the word) and in particular, being a follower of Christ who is an artist. But obviously, I’m not able to write as regularly as I was pre-second baby. Which is totally fine!

But lately, I’ve felt the nudge again; I’ve felt the pull to tell you some things. Namely, I want to say- Remember! This is a safe place, where hopefully you’ll feel the hospitality of the Holy Spirit to bare your battles and burdens as an artist, and where you can come on over any time to get a cup of coffee (or tea, if that’s your- well- cup of tea) and we can say all the things to each other. Probably a lot of, “Me too!!!”

Things like:

  • I’m discouraged.
  • I feel like I’ll never be the type of artist I want to be
  • I feel overwhelmingly small, like a dust bunny swept under the rug.
  • Is anyone else out there feeling this way?
  • I know God is faithful, that he gave me dreams and desires, but I’m having trouble shaking the dust of today off of my perspective.

OR

  • I’m loving my life right now and I just want to see and/or celebrate all the pretty things.
  • I am so thankful and encouraged.
  • I’m praising Jesus!! Because I’m feeling security in my now, not because everything is secure, but because he is.
  • I feel small in such a good way, because he is so much bigger, and because I know he can do big with small things.
  • My art is my art, and I’m going to do it and feel joy abounding, and not question it.

OR really, any other think you could think. (No, that’s not a typo, but we’re working on “Seussical Kids” at the performing arts center right now, and that’s an actual song from it.)

Also, I love the idea that occasionally when you come for a visit and for the aforementioned hot beverages, you might find something helpful in your artistic journey. Something to encourage and bolster you with the stalwart ferocity of a British sea captain in the 1800’s (or at least one from the movies).

So, here are some ideas to help provide encouragement and bolstering and stalwart ferocity:

  1. On Being Creative– Remember this? Well, if you don’t, it was a series I poured my heart into last spring, all about many of these struggles we face as creatives/artists/people in general, and specifically about my own struggles.
  2. Frannerd and Iraville on Youtube- if you’re an illustrator, THESE TWO are my favs right now. Find them on IG. Just do it. You need the beauty, the inspiration, the skill of these ladies… Also, Fran is HILARIOUS. She likes cussing a little bit, though (can we all just admit we like doing that sometimes?), so if your kids are around, you know… wait til they’re not around.
  3. Art & Faith Conversations– My friend Libby John has been doing some big things in the past year, like recording and releasing her album (WHAT!) and now, launching this new podcast with her friend, Sarah. They talk about exactly what’s in the title: conversations about all things art and faith, the battles a creative fights, identity, Jesus, how we approach art as believers, and of course- C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, because can you talk about art of any kind too long before bringing up those guys? No. No you cannot. You can also find links to the podcast on her Facebook page here or you can just search it in the iTunes store.

So, these were just a few things I thought I might share with you, my artsy friend. Keep making your art, okay? If this isn’t enough stalwart ferocity for your British sea-captain sensibilities, I suggest renting Master and Commander.

 

P.S. Have you SEEN the springy cups at Starbucks?! They are my new favorite thing. Here’s one I doodled this week. Doodle-able cups are the best. (Fyi I used a red micron pen, a light pink tombow dual brush marker, and this random blue pen that just says “Le Pen” on the side.) Also? That aqua/turquoise color is MY JAM. That is all.

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!

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.)