Archive for the ‘Life Lessons’ Category

Cup Overflowing

This morning I met with my women's small group, where we're in the middle of studying the story of Gideon in the Bible. I can relate to Gideon so much. He had a faith in God, but still needed assurance when God called him to do something that was beyond his own strength. And instead of God being angry at his questioning, He accommodated Gideon's requests. I'd like to say my faith is so strong that I immediately do what God says to do, or go where He says to go, but sometimes I hold back. Sometimes I let fear rule my heart instead of trusting God to do what only He can do. But God is changing me one day at a time. The more I trust Him, the more easily I can say no to fear (read: there's no room for fear in a heart who knows God!).

After group was over my heart was full, my cup overflowing if you will. Our conversation had been rich with Gideon's story and our own life experiences, real questions and honest answers. I believe it's important to surround yourself with people who are moving in the same direction in life as you so they can help fill your cup. Then you're free to pour yourself into others who need it. And, when things happen beyond your control and you're spilled out in grief or disappointment or illness, you'll still have a little something in your cup.

Artistically, I prefer using pencil on paper to lay down my sketch before adding digital color. But then once on the computer, I often refine my lines and lose the imperfect, sketchy appearance I love so much. With this drawing, I resisted the urge to clean it up to perfection and left plenty of sketchiness (I think that's a word!). If you look close enough, you can see the loose lines and I think it adds so much character. I also experimented with a few new brushes that added fun texture. The cup shown, by the way, is my favorite painted mug (not painted by me) that I've had for years. Drawing it made me realize I've favored gold in art for quite some time without even knowing it!

I hope you're filled to the brim today.

~Christina

This morning I met a friend over coffee and a cinnamon roll. We've known each other for years, first having met by being in the same "community group" within our church. She is someone I can be real with. Someone with whom I can share my successes and struggles and ask tough questions and receive honest answers.

Working for myself, it's easy to become isolated during the day and not have the people interaction I sometimes need. So I cherish friends who simply say "I'm available" and carve time out just for me. That's such a gift.

Now I'm feeling sentimental over all the friends I have in my life, even if we don't go quite as deep. Friends just make my life more rich. I am known by them. I feel understood. And hopefully I do the same for them.

So I encourage you to allow people into your inner circle. Let them get to know you and what you're going through at any given time. We were made to be in relationship. Life is infinitely better that way.

So here's to friends (and cinnamon rolls):

I'm so thankful for you!

friendship

~Christina

I met a friend for a run at the trail today. I enjoy the time I spend with her as we get moving, soak up the sun and fresh air, catch up on personal life and talk art and business. She's a creative person as well so it's great to share thoughts with her and know that she truly understands.

As we talked about art business, a topic that came up was social media. You might remember that I basically declared war on social media last summer. I largely stepped away so that I could learn to control my use of social media instead of letting it control me. And if I'm being honest, to a certain extent, I still have trouble with it today. It's a slippery slope that will probably always be that way. But today I'm also much more aware of my social media use. It doesn't receive my attention first thing in the morning anymore and I'm no longer victim to the comparison trap. Whew! It feels good to say that.

But the biggest benefit to unplugging for awhile? → Continue Reading

Devices
Social media and I have had a confusing relationship ever since we discovered each other. By nature I'm a fairly shy, introverted person, yet I have a deep need to be in community with others. Those characteristics together can present interpersonal challenges. Social media, however, gives me a window into the lives of others without having to be more outgoing, as I've sometimes wished I was. I love catching glimpses of what's going on with my family and friends. I love seeing the creative work of other artists and being inspired by their successes. I love meeting new people (and making great friends) through social media that I otherwise would not have met. I love being inspired to do good, especially in the midst of dark days.

But for me, there is a trade-off to the constant information-feed of social media. First, it's become a habit. Just like I wake up and eat breakfast without thinking about it, I often grab my phone to see the latest news on Facebook or Instagram, without thinking. And if I do that enough times in the day suddenly minutes (hours?) disappear without me being aware. Second, while social media can be incredibly positive, it can also be wildly negative. It's a place where many people don't think about the impact of their words or the images they share. There is open judgement, slander and inappropriate content. I also recognize that everyone simply wants to be heard and validated, sometimes hurting others as they react to their own personal hurts. But is it wise to feed our minds with negativity, day after day, much like a never-ending reel of the evening news? I don't believe so. Third, it tempts me to be discontent. I think this may be the biggest offender. I see the beautiful vacation photos in my timeline and the skilled artwork of fellow artists, happy things that most definitely should be celebrated. But if I'm not careful, my thoughts can easily shift from celebration of their joy to *myself*, wondering when it will be MY time to enjoy that tropical destination or have such incredible talent. And if enough people are "liking" the things I post, that means something, right? It's the ultimate comparison trap rooted in the lie that we can't be content where we are today with everything we already have.

So what does this mean for me?

I'm breaking up with social media.

Sort of.

I'm not quitting it altogether. But it's no longer going to play a significant role in my life as it has in the past. The good news is that the chains have already begun to loosen when it comes to my personal use of it. But for work, not so much.

I confess it's a little scary, as an artist, to think about not highly leveraging this tool. After all, what I do is visual in nature and what better avenue to share my work than a website that others view every day. But for now, if doing so isn't best for me personally, then it's not best for business. As I recently launched the new print collection, I had a beautiful season of productivity when the art poured out. I want to tap into that kind of productivity again, this time though, not feeling the need to stop and post my work along the way. At least, not as often as I was. One of my triggers for spending too much time on the web is posting content. Chad likes to say I start "squirreling" (i.e. going off on tangents) and while I used to take offense to that, I laugh now because it's COMPLETELY true. Being on Instagram sometimes feels like being a kid in a candy store. I am wired to create. I am not wired to gorge myself with social information.

Squirrel

If these thoughts are alien to you and you've always had a healthy perspective on social media then kudos to you! I sincerely admire you. But if you can relate, I hope this inspires you to make positive changes regarding your own use of social media. I've been battling these thoughts for far too long. Enough is enough. Time is too precious to spend another (unaware) second with my face in my phone.

It's time to look up.

It's time to live in the present.

I am worth it.

You are worth it.

Recently a special gift was given to Chad and me: a charcoal drawing made by his Mom when she was young. Receiving it was completely unexpected because we didn't know that Mom ever drew anything, especially with charcoal, and we've never seen the drawing until now.

Mom S Charcoal Drawing 2 → Continue Reading

Newbie

It was the Spring of 2012, just a few months after I began selling jewelry. Up to that point, all of my jewelry orders had been from friends and family members. They were (are) so supportive that way.

I was thrilled when I received an order from someone I didn't know, someone who found me on Etsy. She was the very first to order the copper bangle bracelet set, and I wanted it to be perfect.

Copper Bangles → Continue Reading

Clock - Sm
Chad called me from the office today. He doesn't typically call during work hours so I knew it was important.

"Can you please do me a favor and pull some information off my passport?" Those were the words I heard after a brief greeting. → Continue Reading

This copper twist ring came back to me from a young lady who needed to have it re-sized for her fiancé. She sent it back in the original kraft jewelry box that I packaged it in, except this time, I received it hand-painted as a special surprise for him when he opened it again.

Isn't it beautiful?

Painted Box

I've haven't personally met her or him, but her thoughtfulness says so much about them.

A simple act of love touches not only the recipient, but those who witness it.

The longer you work for yourself, the more you learn about yourself.

Just when I think I've settled into my next great adventure, another follows right on its heels. I used to be hard on myself and believe it was necessary to focus on a single thing so I'd become an "expert". But I've realized being an expert is not only unnecessary, it can be limiting. Sometimes knowing a little about many topics brings more opportunities and keeps you intrigued, especially if you're like me and need to change things up from time to time (read: every 6-9 months).

I've finally, fully embraced this truth about me.

If you can't seem to settle on just one thing either, just know that it's okay.

Adventure

Three weeks ago I boarded a flight in Atlanta with 15 other team members on a globalX short term mission trip to El Salvador. Today and back home, I'm a different person.

Our purpose in El Salvador was to serve alongside La Casa de mi Padre, a children's home whose vision is to heal hearts, restore families and bring hope. We met the children under their care, saw firsthand the healthy home environments they provide, and experienced the love poured out onto these children and into their community. Though La Casa's work is ongoing, from my perspective, their vision is reality.

Our team spent several days working at La Finca (the future home for La Casa) on a house that will be the transition home for their young adult men: boys who have aged out of the children's home. We painted the interior and exterior walls and hung ceiling fans and lighting. We also sealed a fence containing a horse-riding area, used as a form of therapy for the children who need it. It was great to see how much work can be accomplished with many helping hands and willing hearts.

La Finca transition home - before

La Finca transition home - before

House Getting Base Coat

Applying the base coat

New textured, orange Colonial finish

New textured, orange Colonial finish

La Finca transition home - after

La Finca transition home - after

The children of La Casa were in school during the week days, but we were still able to have some quality time with them during our stay. Just like any other kids, they were full of energy and liked to have fun! We had an afternoon of crafts with the girls, making colorful, duct tape handbags and beaded ribbon barrettes, while the boys played fútbol/soccer. Even faces were painted.

Ribbon and tape choices for crafts with the girls

Colorful ribbons, barrettes and tape

Receiving a demonstration. I needed it, too!

Receiving a demonstration. I needed it, too!

A happy, painted face

Happily painted

We spent another afternoon at the park with the kids, playing kickball and basketball, braiding hair and painting nails. Afterward the boys retreated to play a game, while the girls held a dance party! There were a lot of smiles and laughs that day.

Dina gave me the most beautiful, artistic manicure.

Dina (and Aby - not shown) gave me the most beautiful, artistic manicure. I rarely paint my fingernails, so I felt pampered.

Probably one of the most profound experiences occurred while we delivered food to families surrounding La Finca. La Casa makes it a practice to meet their neighbors face to face, and provide their most basic needs such as rice and beans for cooking, to show them they are valued.

Bags of food carried out into the community

Bags of food prepared for us to carry out into the community

Literally in the jungle, we hiked up and down mountainous terrain to find the humblest of homes tucked away among the trees. Not expecting our visit, each person we met greeted us with both surprise and gratitude.

View while delivering food

View while delivering food

Most of us required a translator (thank you Carlos!) in order to communicate with our Spanish-speaking neighbors. We spent a little time at each house, talking with the families, praying with them and hearing their stories. One woman in particular captured my heart as she invited us into her home. As we were getting ready to say goodbye, I wanted to tell this woman that we loved her. I watched her outward demeanor soften as she heard those words in her language and her eyes filled with tears. In that moment, I knew that was why we traveled all those miles to El Salvador...

...to partner with La Casa in sharing God's love.

Something happens inside of us when we catch a glimpse of God at work, when we see people through His lens instead of our own. Suddenly the little things that distract us fade away. The things and people that matter to God, matter to us. We find ourselves the recipients of unconditional love and therefore receive the capacity to give it. We are changed.

I am changed.

It feels like the beginning of something new...and it's entirely beautiful.

The view from the back of the house. Their chapel is seen on the middle left.

The view from the back of the house. Their chapel is seen on the middle left. We spent a few minutes there hearing about the future plans for La Casa de mi Padre and sang Amazing Grace. No instruments, just our voices lifted up in worship to God. Beautiful.