Easy To Love

I love people.  Like, I really really love people.  Once in a church small group, we were asked to tell what we were passionate about.  I have no idea why, but I came up with some nerdy thing about good parenting.

On the drive home it just ate away at me, “Why did you say that’s your passion? That’s not your passion.”A1A  The questions lingered as I drove down A1A, “So, what is my passion then?”

I can almost remember the block I was on when the Holy Spirit spoke so clearly, “It’s people.”  I wanted to stop and do a cartwheel right there.  I was grinning ear to ear, and pretty sure I said out loud, “MY PASSION IS PEOPLE!”

I’ve always been this way.  In elementary school they called it “bad deportment”, but I just loved talking to other little people.  In junior high my mom would take me to New Orleans shopping, and routinely we’d sit on Bourbon Street and “people watch.”  In high school, I could go off to summer camps for weeks on end and never miss home.  If there were people there, I was good.

But I’m not going to flat-out lie,  there are some people-types I’m not that passionate about.  They’re the ones I call “hard to love.”

Most of the people in my life–I’d say 98 percent–are “easy to love.”  My kids, my husband (usually), my neighbors, my kids’ teachers, other like-minded moms–easy to love.

Then there’s random people around town.  The nice cashier at CVS, the funny teenager at the Chick Fil A drive through, and the helpful manager at A.C. Moore–easy to love.  The hilarious eye doctor who didn’t charge me for an in and out visit–VERY easy to love.

So what do you do with the other 2 percent,  the “hard to love” brand?  In God’s sovereignty He allows these people in our lives to grow us up and refine us.  The question is, how are we to handle them?

Love-is-patientWhen Jesus walked among us He loved 100 percent of the people.  I seriously doubt he even had a “easy/hard” meter, He just loved them all so much.  In John 13:34, He said, “This a new commandment I give to you, that you would love one another, just as I have loved you.”

I want to love like Jesus did–the easy and the hard–I really do.  But I know that I can’t and won’t do it in my natural state.  I have found, however, some ways to increase my ability to love more, even if not perfectly.  Certainly not perfectly.

First, I have to literally let God’s love consume me.  God is love, and  I can tell by noon when I’ve started the day away from His love and power.  A quick gut-check is comparing my attitude to what the Bible says love is, “patient, kind, selfless, humble, etc.”  Eek.

The whole “see them as God sees them” theory may seem cheesy, but it’s good truth–cheesy or not.  When I think about this “hard to love” person in the context of being someone’s prodigal daughter, a frail recovering addict, or a jaded over-worked father, it really humbles my spirit to at least try to love them.

I’m not trying to seem naive.  I know this 2 percent can make or break your day–sometimes your life.  So, if a “hard to love” person in your life is a stumbling block, just keep a safe distance.  I’m serious.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, when you endure temptation, God will be faithful to provide an escape route.escape

If it’s someone you just can’t dodge, take my advice and press on being A Little Happy.  Eventually, they’ll dodge you.

And maybe–just maybe–you’ll be given an opportunity to see them as God does, and realize they just needed to be loved.

Learning to love like Christ is not for sissies.  You have to confront how absolutely lacking and inept you are in the love department.  Even though people are my passion, sometimes I do very poorly at loving them well, even the easy ones.

But thanks be to God, HIS love lacks nothing and HIS patience for us is long.  He has started a good work in us and He’s faithful to complete it.  So in the meantime, just love others and–for their sake–be “easy to love.”

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Vanilla Ice Moments

I struggle with anxiety.  Not the hand-wringing, fidgeting kind.  The mind whirling constantly, while looking completely calm on the outside kind.  And it’s not usually even whirling with crucial information, just the everyday needs of a family that have a tendency to overwhelm moms.

The other day I was experiencing anxiety, and simultaneously a song popped into my head.  Embarrassingly enough, it was Ice Ice Baby, and I had what I’m now calling a “Vanilla Ice Moment.” 

This was no coincidence, for me this was a God moment.

If you are a person who struggles with anxiety–or even if you don’t–you need to know how to have a “Vanilla Ice Moment”, too.  

 In light of my anxious state, I needed to heed the lyrics and literally “STOP. COLLABORATE AND LISTEN.”  To my body and to my God.

Killin' my brain like a poisonous mushroom.

This outfit is killin’ my brain
like a poisonous mushroom

When anxiety sets in, I would encourage you to stop whatever you are doing.  Just stop.  Do a physical body check, the unique way you were created isn’t like anyone else.  Your physical condition alone can be a great indicator of stress.  Spiritually speaking, stopping is complete yielding, and God can work with a yielded heart.  

Next, collaborate.  Think about your role in life and examine how your daily tasks line up with that role.  For personal example, my role is that of a stay at home mother with young (wild) kids.  If I am attempting to do things that don’t fit the role of a “mom with young (wild) kids,” I’m sure to regress into an anxious state.

To collaborate also means to get on the same page as God.  Maybe you are in the same book, but are you in the same chapter?  When you are speed-reading or flipping ahead into chapters you aren’t ready for, you’ll be anxious.  Trust me.

And finally, listen.  Pray and ask God to lead you beside still waters, where you can meditate on His plan and His order of things.  Ask Him to guide your steps, so you can place what matters most back at the top of the list.

Anxiety isn’t of God, but don’t be ashamed that it sometimes resides in you.  It is an emotion that should drive us to God.

I’ve come to understand I may battle anxiety my entire earthly life, but I also rest in the fact that God has power over my emotions.  Reading His word, the Bible, proves He has the best things for my to-do list, whether that be for the day or for coming years.  And as Vanilla Ice says, “Anything less than the best–”  Well, you know the rest.

Psalm 85:8

I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people,

his faithful servants– but let them not turn to folly.

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Being Remade

I’m so excited to start featuring artists I love!  And by “love” I mean I love their work, but even more I love their HEART!  This week I want to spotlight Jacquelyn Berry Rogers, of ReMade in Mississippi.

The last time I saw this beautiful girl, she was about six years old sitting still while I painted her face at the Wesson flea market.  Reconnecting with her as adults is fascinating, and seeing how she’s embraced life is why I knew–even way back then–great things were in store for her.

I asked Jacquelyn to tell me about why she pursues a creative path, specifically in working with jewelry.  I know you’ll be as blessed as I was and feel her charming, warm spirit just oozing through her words.

*********************************************

jacqueline berry

For the life of me, I cannot recall a time when I wasn’t a crafter. I grew up watching my mother and grandmother sew, quilt, crochet, and embroider. In his free time, my father repaired his own arrows and reloaded his brass casings and shotgun shells for hunting. Hands-on work appeals to me and always has.

At a young age I began simple cross stitch and–bless her heart–my mother attempted to teach me to use a sewing machine. I could spend hours in my room with a hot glue gun, popsicle sticks, construction paper, and empty Coke bottles. I, of course, went through the “glitter everything!” phase, and over my high school years I painted and repainted every piece of furniture in my room. Multiple times.

I have dabbled in pottery, ceramics, woodwork, and metalwork. Every morning I wake up with a new project in mind, but most of them never make it past my sketch/ideas journal. Time and space are limiting factors for me as they are for many crafters with lofty ambitions, so our journals get thicker and heavier.

This is what brought me to jewelry. My hands stay busy and my compulsive need to create is satisfied while my two year old plays “big trucks” at my feet or naps in the next room. Is jewelry a passion for me? No, but creating is.

The “remade” aspect of my craft, however, I am passionate about. While I am not a super-environmentalist, I try to do my part. I recycle, try to buy local produce, cook as many “meatless Monday” meals as my husband will allow, and only buy sustainable sourced seafood (you don’t want to have a conversation with me about salmon or tuna). With that being said, reusing and re-purposing materials is my way of trying to contribute to the “green” movement by making something desirable out of another something that would otherwise be forgotten in a drawer or thrown away.remade in MS

My ReMade in Mississippi jewelry is the beginning of a journey I am pursuing with the support of my loving husband and amazing family. I hope that one day what started out at a tiny work desk in my living room will end up pushing my skills and patience to the limit in a workshop filled with sawdust, tools, a pottery wheel, and all sorts of broken, dented, cracked, and rusted materials begging to be ReMade.

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   Browse ReMade in Mississippi jewelry at  www.etsy.com/shop/ReMadeMS 

Thank you, Jacquelyn, for sharing your story. The image of forgotten things being found, cherished, and made into something beautiful reminds me of our own Creator. What a picture of God’s heart for us your jewelry is: making something desirable out of something that would otherwise be forgotten.

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Bone-Tired

I’ve always loved the book of Proverbs. Maybe it’s the snippets of easy-to-recall wisdom, or the powerful gut-check truths it holds. Regardless, I found that Proverbs 17:22 captures my intention and life-purpose of encouraging others in the ups and downs of life. It reads,

“A cheerful heart is like good medicine,

but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  

Have you ever noticed how many people quote the first half and leave out the rest?  I’m guilty, heck I even doodled a picture of it! But it’s the second part that deserves the most emphasis for everyone surviving in this broken and harsh world…  cheerful heart

A crushed spirit dries up the bones.  This is a word-picture of suffering, as it doesn’t just hover over us– like a cartoonish black cloud–it settles deep into our core.  Into our bones.

Taking this word picture a step further, the marrow–in the center of the bone–is our source of life.  Countless cells and life-processes stem from this fearfully and wonderfully made anatomical location.  If it is dried up, life simply can’t exist.

Although the cheering heart is cute, (if I do say so myself) this is actually a very serious verse to meditate on.  What it is saying is that a happy heart is good medicine, but it’s not the cure.  The cure can only come from life being breathed back into the bones.  

There’s nothing fun about suffering, be it emotional, spiritual, or physical.  But there are wondrous truths for us to cling to when we are in that state.  God’s loving mercy is shown in Psalms 34:18,

“The Lord is near to those whose hearts are humble.
He RESCUES those who are crushed in spirit!”  

Rescues!  I love that word.  When your bones are dried up (disintegrated) and your spirit is crushed (pulverized), “happy and cheerful” isn’t gonna do the trick.  We need to be rescued and healed; to have life breathed back into what’s dead.

Does this mean your suffering will magically disappear?  Will ailments flee and depression cease just by believing this magic potion of a verse? Probably not.  But that’s not because you aren’t being rescued. You are just being rescued in a way beyond that of our human understanding. It is a divine rescue.

So how in the WORLD is God rescuing us?!  Who wants a rescuer that won’t just take away my pain and let me be happy all the time? Who would read a book containing information and “promises” that doesn’t lead to instant relief?  I’m so glad you asked!

 I believe God is rescuing us from a life without hope.  

When my body fails me and my emotions lie to me, I have a sure and solid HOPE that God stands in charge of my life, and is allowing me to experience exactly what I need to fulfill my life-purpose.  When my physical being is worn, and my mental being is wrought, I have the HOPE of an eternity that God says will be under His rule and order.  No.  More.  Suffering.

Let me tell you friend, I know suffering, and so do you.  I understand your weariness well, and I’d much rather not have to deal with it.  But I can attest to this: through my suffering over the years, my faith in a divine plan has become my biggest source of true hope of rescue.

I love my husband, he’s supportive and catches me when I fall.  My children bring me joy with their giggles and liveliness. Medications help me cope with different ailments I endure. But nothing RESCUES me from this harsh world like the knowledge that God is giving me exactly what I need to be transformed into the fullest potential of myself, even when that requires suffering. I hope you find some hope in that good news.

Peace to all who suffer.

******************************************************************************************

But we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And hope will not disappoint us.

Romans 5: 3-5

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Brain Battles

Yep. “Moves Randomly From Task to Task”
pretty much sums me up.

When God inspired me to start a blog, I feel He led me very precisely.  You can read all about that in my first post, “Are You A Little Happy.”  In a nutshell, I long to encourage other weary women through writing, and for fun, feature like-minded artists.

Like most right-brainers, I have the tendency to get lost in the periphery and lose sight of the central focus.  Lately, I’ve been spending more time molding clay and washing paint brushes than penning my thoughts.

Expect to continue seeing my doodles, though :)

Expect to continue seeing my doodles, though 🙂

Although it’s been fun to play around with art, the baby may have eaten a bead or two, and definitely ate a few bites of paint.  For now, I’m putting the art supplies back on the “hobby shelf,” so I can focus on the absolute thing God’s called me to: mothering (not poisoning) my children.  And writing.

I honestly didn’t expect such a positive response to the blog, and it’s nice confirmation to a new writer.  I also find joy in writing, unlike most who have bad flashbacks of college term papers at the mention of the word.  A wise mentor once taught me when we feel God’s pleasure in our work, it’s assurance we are in His will.

So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to 

find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures 

are from the hand of God. Ecclesiastes 2:24

If you haven’t already, please tell a friend about A Little Happy.  Building a site where women can be refreshed and encouraged by God’s truth is going to be an adventure.  I have guest writers on standby and artists from around the country I’m tickled to feature.

Thank you for following my blog, I feel certain God has asked me to do this.  Not to mention, writing is much less stressful than cleaning up spilled paint and mining beads from Ben’s diaper.

Has anyone seen  my paintbrushes?

Has anyone seen
my paintbrushes?

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Join Hairs With Jesus

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, which means the choir wore robes with reversible collars, and I annually wore new Easter shoes.  It also means I went to “big church” with my parents, and had a tight grip on the terms sin, repentance, and eternity well before I completed kindergarten.  

It was around that age–over a Sunday lunch at Maw Maw’s–I was showing off my church bulletin artwork to my family.  One drawing that lives in Smith Family infamy is that of a big Jesus with two little girls, all joined together by their pigtails.

Jesus and his posse

By the way, it’s join HEIRS. I think.

My favorite part of “big church” was the end, mainly because it was over, and partially because that’s when the whole congregation linked hands and sang a closing hymn together.  One of my favorites was “Family of God,” but until I unveiled my drawing that day, I didn’t realize I’d belted out this hymn incorrectly my whole existence.  As it turns out, that hymn wasn’t the only part of my religion I’d misunderstood, regardless of my proper Christian raising.

There is no set age for baptism in the Baptist denomination, because quite frankly we are keen enough to figure out when we need Jesus.  For me, that was the tender age of 11, and after the pastor announced for everyone to close their eyes and bow their heads the Spirit moved in me.  I knew people were rebelling against the closed-eye rule, but I gathered up my courage and made my way down the aisle anyway.  

During a home visit that week, my pastor realized I was more interested in hell-dodging than Christ-following.  I think it had something to do with his closing inquiry, “Now, Macie, do you have any questions?”  To which I responded, “Yes, if we are finished, can mama paint my fingernails now?”

Fast forward a whopping two years.  I definitely saw a fork in the road, and wanted whole-heartedly to choose God’s way over the world’s.  Understanding the 3 key terms–SIN, REPENTANCE, and ETERNITY–I earnestly wanted to quit sinning, repent for good, and spend eternity in Heaven.  I was baptized in November of 1992 in a frigid baptismal, due to a broken heater.  If I wasn’t a native Baptist, I’d say it was a sign.

For many years thereafter I stumbled through life, much like that child that thought she knew the lyrics.  I went through seasons of rebellion and renewal, but mostly rebellion; confusion and confidence, but mostly confusion; faithfulness and faithlessness, but mostly faithlessness.  I watched other teenagers and young adults love God with all their heart, and had just about decided I wasn’t cut out for it, that it was for folks who were good at being good.

That was a long time ago.  And although I still battle this rebellious heart–and suspect I always will in this mortal body–I now know what made “being” a Christian so unreachable for me.  I’m convinced my schizophrenic spirituality stemmed from a most basic problem–the lack of understanding.  And without understanding, there was no lasting pleasure for me in pursuing the things of God.  Proverbs 2:1-5, 9-10 tells it like this,

My child, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Yes, I had attended church, sang in the children’s choir, been baptized and had even gone on youth retreats and mission trips.  But my journey was never about seeking understanding, quite frankly I just wanted Jesus to fix me.  But the Proverbs-promise says if you seek understanding you’ll find knowledge and then–and only then–will you find pleasure in your soul.  Once I found pleasure in Christ, well let’s just say wild horses couldn’t drag me away, fixed or not.

Doctrinal questions I’ve sought–and continue to seek–answers to are the foundation for many posts in my blog.  Some of you may read and think, “Well I thought everyone knew that.”  But the more Christians I meet and know, the more I hear people singing the wrong lyrics.  There are lots of great Christians wondering why they aren’t “fixed”, when it’s not even about that at all.  Christians are weary and worn from dragging Jesus around by their pigtails.

There’s always talk about Christians not “living-out” their faith, but I believe there’s not so much a problem of Christians living-out their faith.  I believe there’s a problem of Christians–like me–understanding their faith.  In other words, I think our faith is suffering not from a problem of want- to, but a problem of know-how.

Sometimes I’ll tackle serious faith topics via my blog, and when I do, I pray you’ll see my heart and know it’s in humility I share.  I’m not trying to “enlighten” you, if you are a Christian, or convert you if you’re not.  I’m simply writing down the ways God’s drawn me to Himself, and pretty-much blown my mind.  There truly is pleasure at His right hand, when you sit and beg for wisdom and understanding to come into your heart.

  

Dunked me and married me off. You're the best!

Dunked me and married me off.
You’re the best!

This post is dedicated to my childhood pastor, Brother Mike Carr, who patiently pastored me–knowing all along I had spiritual schizophrenia.  Who stood by me as I continued to run from understanding.  And who can now wipe his forehead and sigh in relief that I’m finally starting to get it. Thank you.

 

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ONE Mississippi

In my life I’ve lived in many places, some on purpose and some by way of not-so-awesome choices.  But regardless of my means of arrival–and departure–each has opened my eyes to the beauty and diversity of America and her people.  I can honestly say each location has been filled with kind people and beautiful adventures. 

Currently, I’m living in Virginia where my family enjoys visiting the nation’s capital, Civil War battlefields, and watching the seasons dramatically change.  Before that, we called Florida home.  We lived a mere 20 minutes from the beach and enjoyed the beautiful accents (and food!) of friends from diverse cultures.

The beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast.                      Photo: Keith Register

The beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast.                        Photo: Keith Register

I was born a people-watcher, and as we’ve relocated, I’ve noticed a heart-warming trend among children.  Regardless of the location, and even nationality, many use a tried and true method of counting as they play.  Think back to your childhood and at some point you probably counted using this trusted method, “ONE, Mississippi, TWO, Mississippi…”

I’ve always been proud to be a Mississippi girl, so ever since I moved from Mississippi, I’ve been devoted to an unspoken assignment.  At times I’m a bold delegate, clearing up ridiculous misnomers, and other times I’m rather covert in my mission.  But at all times I’m as spirited as a banty rooster when it comes to speaking out for my home state, and the wonderful people who live there.

A Little Happy’s first
Mississippi Tee Shirt!

My deep rooted love of Mississippi naturally flows into my crafting ideas, and I’ve found myself drawn to projects that involve my beloved state.  Some ideas began as impromptu class projects for my son, and some–like the tee shirt design above–were birthed while doodling images of the Magnolia State.

Lately, I feel like God has given me a vision, and asked me to use these projects for something more.  I am praying that in His timing, with His leading, this vision will develop, and A Little Happy can partner with and support different ministries, beginning in Mississippi.  When will all this happen, you ask?  Let’s start counting together, ONE Mississippi, TWO Mississippi…

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First Grade Theology

My oldest child will soon be entering second grade, but before we take that leap, I’ve been reflecting on first grade.  It was a year filled with new adventures (the bus–need I say more), corny jokes, and inquiries of a particular finger gesture.  I giggled with him and pretended I’d never heard these same jokes I told 30 years ago, and instructed him that “pointing” your finger like that is the same as sticking your tongue out at the preacher.  You just don’t do it.

Not my kid, but pretty good tongue-sticker-outer

Not my kid, but pretty good tongue-sticker-outer

By far my favorite habit he gleaned from his seven year old peers is saying, “I’m true,” to bring exciting stories to a close.  It’s a declaration of valor, proof that we should trust him.  For example, “Mommy today Johnny ate FOUR hot dogs at lunch.  I’m true, I’m true!”  I guess my expression slightly changes mid-story, why else would he find it necessary to quickly interject this new tag-line?

It hit me the other day, aren’t we all like the first grade child, desperately declaring our valor?  With every story we tell, every issue we debate, and every decision we make, we subconsciously proclaim our truth in the matter.  

Our constant need to be right and true stems from the world’s–and our–addiction to self-worth.  But no matter how much the world tries to inflate my pride, the fact is on my own I am not true, my intentions are not pure and I am not good.  No matter how much I try, or how much willpower I muster up, the word of God says even my best try falls short.  Isaiah 64:6 goes so far as to call my efforts at righteousness “filthy rags.”  There is nothing in me alone that is honest, or upstanding.  Nothing.  

He is true, and only in Him can I NOT be false.

He is true, and only in Him can I NOT be false.

While one would think this to be the most damning and depressing spiritual information ever leaked, it’s actually freed me to live my frail life in my strong Savior.  In the frequent times I feel the need to be right–to defend my valor– God reminds me that although I may be true-ish, He alone is fully true.  And if I’ll stop, repent, and choose to operate in His imputed righteousness–instead of my right-ness–then, and only then, can His truth shine through me.  Sometimes it’s too late, and I’ve already steamrolled over someone with my stubborn right-ness.  That’s when grace reminds me I don’t have to beat myself up, or grovel in my mistake.  Psalm 85:10 tells me His mercy goes hand in hand with His truth, and His righteousness and peace are one.

Mercy and truth have met together;

Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Psalms 85:10

Freedom is living my imperfect life, all the while standing not on my truth, but on God’s truth.  Freedom is opening my mouth and saying things or moving my feet and doing things that bear no resemblance to my Lord, but falling fast into the forgiveness and restoration only He can give.  Being a Christian never meant I am always true, right or full of valor.  It means I believe Christ is always true and always righteous, tied together in beautiful mercy.

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Retreat!

Busy, busy, busy describes most of our lives.  If we aren’t busy, we’ll find something to do, and even if we can’t find something to do our brain is kept busy.  But busy-living is a heavy burden and you can’t go on that way for long.  It is right, and good, to stop every once in a while and scream–“RETREAT!”  My word, even Jesus got to a point where he and his disciples didn’t have time to eat.  It’s recorded in Mark 6:21, “He went away from the crowds and said to His followers, ‘Let’s go somewhere lonely and get some rest.'”

Memorial Day weekend my husband and I took a much needed retreat.  Having been married 11 years, we realized we’d only had 2 getaways as a couple.  That’s pretty darn sad.  New to northern Virginia, we searched the area for appealing options and discovered a hidden gem, Wintergreen Resort.

Blue Ridge Morning

Blue Ridge Morning

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia, this affordable getaway made for the perfect escape.  If you’re a ski buff–which I am not, nor have I made plans to be–this probably isn’t your place, with man made snow and 3515 ft at it’s highest point.  But if you love lonely mountain life, God’s green beauty surrounding you, and really good food within walking distance, I’d keep Wintergreen on your radar.

The Memorial Day festivities included live music, yummy BBQ and a craft show. Believe it or not, I’ve never been to a real craft show, so I was super-duper excited.  I don’t know what was better, looking at–and buying–the arts and crafts, or talking to the artists about their lives and their work.  Below you’ll find pictures, life tidbits, and contact information for the artists I met.

The weekend rest and fun was a good thing, but the best thing was remembering how to spend time with my husband and how much we love music and nature. No matter where you are in life, whether it’s carrying a heavy load, or surprisingly calm and rested, we all need to get away from the crowd to a lonely place.  Remember the things you love, those lovely things you have pushed aside to take care of the urgent daily tasks that dominate our energies.  -Oh, and never ever get too busy to eat.

“Art is fulfilling work, because

we were created to create, by the Creator.” -just me

Teethable Toys

Teethable Toys

A retired Virginia cattle farmer hand carves wooden toys and then practically gives them away!  For only $7 each I had to have one of each animal.  The couple was so genuine I truly hope I get to see them again one day.  They lived off the land and in their camper while they hand-built their dream log cabin.  Their organic garden supplies all of their produce needs and plenty to share with neighbors and friends.  You can visit http://www.valleygreengallery.com to find Robert and Linda Wilkes’ wooden toys.  By the way, they don’t own a computer–only a phone–so don’t try to find them on Facebook.

Brian Lacy Pottery

Brian Lacy Pottery

Next stop, pottery.  Oh, how I love pottery!  Pottery isn’t a cheap addiction, which is why I don’t have more of it, but potter Brian Lacy offers many affordable and functional pieces.  I walked away with this adorable steal, a teensy vase about 4 inches tall and $7.  My husband said, “Look it’s a shot glass!” and I said, “Look it’s a teensy vase!” and Brian Lacy said “It’s a shot-vase!”  The shot-vase is a perfect addition to my kitchen window sill, and holds half a dozen zinnias perfectly.  Brian is a stay-at-home dad and a full time artist with a gentle spirit that makes you want to own something he’s created.  He makes a colander I’m pretty sure I must have, so visit him with me on Facebook, “BrianLacyPottery.”

Must Have Pendant

Must Have Pendant

Linc and Ginny Warner of Greensboro, North Carolina, another retired couple, make Smokey Mountain slate look good.  While Linc makes oil-burning candles from the larger slabs of rock, Ginny creates beautiful pendants from the smaller pieces.  Ginny is a proud grandmother and chatted with me briefly, assuring me I really will love my grandchildren even more than my own children.  I wonder if her grand babies dig through her baubles and beads “making” jewelry while she’s not looking?  This necklace (chain included) was a mere $7.50, and you can order your own at stone-of-fire@earthlink.net.

Hunter Wolfe

Hunter Wolfe and ARE

Musician Hunter Wolfe and his 16 year old drumming sister totally stole the show in the battle of the bands.  My husband and I were captivated by their raw talent and couldn’t help but hope big things for this duo.  Their first album, The Go, has such strong Mississippi references, I had to inquire–and hope–they were from my home state.  No such luck, they are from Tulsa originally, but the lyrics prove once again that everyone loves Mississippi.  They are very humble, approachable and did I mention talented? Find out more about this group at http://www.hunterwolfe.com, while they tour the UK beginning in September.

The final artist I want to feature is Carolyn Schallmo from Richmond, Virginia.  Carolyn is the mother of four–count them FOUR–girls, and has been painting ever since her childhood art teacher told her she had no talent.  Carolyn’s work is inspirational, uplifting and many pieces are underscored with scripture references.  While googling Carolyn, I found she’s illustrated many children’s books! You can find Carolyn on Facebook, “carolyn! eclectic expressions of color and mirth.” Browse her art and get some for yourself, because I truly believe she pours her love of life into each piece.

Create!

Create

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All in God Time

Something very frustrating has happened since Father God gave me the desire to blog–the demand of Father Time.  The Lord keeps me supplied with ideas, and I love to sit and write about truths He reveals to our family.  However, the one missing piece is the time it takes to put it into my blog.

Have you been in my shoes, and felt certain God had gifted you, supplied you, and called you to something, only to leave an obstacle keeping you from carrying it to completion?  I’ve been meditating on this question for 2 weeks, “Lord why have you given me the desire to do this, when it’s obvious I would have to neglect other things to do it?”  And I think today I heard His answer, “Time.”  

I love Sarah Young’s daily devotional, “Jesus Calling.”  On June 21 and June 27, the devotion speaks of the limit of human time and how we can learn to trust God within it.  I feel like God used these two specific devotions to guide me and build my faith in His sovereignty.  If we understand two things about God–His omnipresence and His sovereignty–we can find peace and security as we wait for Him to fulfill dreams He’s given us.

Scripture teaches us of God’s omnipresence, that is His timeless nature.  The Lord declares in Revelation 1:8 what he already revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I am the God who was, who is, and who is to come.”  God doesn’t dwell trapped by the constraint of a 12 month calendar, He makes eternal plans that have no deadline and no expiration date.  God doesn’t panic like we do, trying to hurry up and accomplish something.  If He’s put a dream in your heart, it was formed before you were born, and if it’s needed to further His Kingdom, He’ll see to it that it is fulfilled.

I adore the second part of Revelation 1:8 which reads, “I am sovereign strong.”  The sovereignty of God ensures us that He has complete authority and rule over all things.  All things.  Psalm 115:3 confirms God possesses all power in heaven and on earth and that nothing can thwart His plans.  To say God is sovereign means He governs everything.

God’s done some serious heart-probing in me, because quite frankly I was bound up in anxiety worrying how I was going to find time to do all the things I feel He’s asked me to do.  These are some thoughts that helped me line up my desires with God’s word and make sure I’m not barging into territory that’s not mine.

  • Paul says to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:23) that although “all things are permitted, all things are not beneficial or edifying.”  I’m no theologian, but to me this says, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
  • Is my family in second place, so I can pursue something, even something ‘good’?  If you have a family, that is your first ministry, and as life seasons change that ministry-picture also changes.  But for young families like mine it looks like this: mama begging God for wisdom to”build up her home with her hands,” Proverbs 14:1.
  • Lastly, I keep coming back to this pride-killer: am I keeping my eyes on the root of why God has asked me to do this?  When I start getting overly concerned my grammar is correct, or daydreaming about this blog having hundreds of followers, the Holy Spirit is faithful to simmer me down.  I pray that each time I lose sight of the why, God would humble me back to His purpose.

Friend, you don’t have to live in a state of panic and anxiety, worried you won’t find time to complete something you feel called to do.  Hold loosely to the dreams God gives you because you are limited, but He is limitless.  His plans won’t be thwarted just because He’s asking you to proceed slowly or even wait.  I believe He loves us enough to let us help Him bring His Kingdom, all in God time.  

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June 30, 2013 · 1:32 am