Nothing Too Small

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I’d like you to meet my friend, Shannan Martin. I call her my friend, even though we’ve only met in person once (which was the craziest sleepover party I will probably ever experience in my life.) She might not recognize me if we ever met in the salsa isle of the grocery store, which is fine because I would probably get all sweaty and nervous and embarrassed that I hadn’t showered yet. But then again, she is the realest deal around, so I’m guessing I’d find her still in her sweats too.

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Shannan just wrote a book, Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted. You absolutely must read it when it comes out. Do like me and preorder a copy on Amazon. I started following Shannan’s blog, Flower Patch Farmgirl, back when she was living the dream life in a picture perfect farmhouse down a tree lined lane. I’m not going to give the story away, but she and her husband had a hunch that God had better ideas for them than a comfy cozy life on the farm, so they let go of what they thought was their dream come true and traded it in for an unmapped adventure with God. It has been quite the ride.

Who doesn’t love an inspirational story? I think we all do.

But let’s be honest. Big stories make me feel small sometimes. Like a drop in a bucket.

Ker-plink. Ker-plunk.

It’s tempting to think bigger is better. It’s tempting to think the best story wins. I know in my head it’s not true, but in my heart I tend to feel otherwise. Why hasn’t God asked me to do something bigger and better? Something radical? Something important?

I’m about to get real here when I say I might even be jealous of other people’s stories. It’s the ugly truth. Inspiring stories make me wish my own story had a little more glamour and flash. How’s that for dirty laundry? (aka sinful nature?) But seriously, how often have you heard the phrase, “tell your story” or “your story matters” and thought your own “story” wasn’t good enough?

The world needs big radical Jesus loving world changers. I know I need them. I learn from them. I read their blogs, buy their books, and follow their feeds. They inspire me. They open my eyes and break open my heart and move me to act. They point me to Jesus.

But here’s the thing I need to remember:

The world needs the everyday ordinary Jesus loving world changers too.

You know what that means?

That means I get to do that thing that God whispers in MY ear today.

It’s a very simple two step process. 1. Listen. 2. Obey.

While it’s true that nothing is too big with God,

it’s also true that nothing is too small.

Because if God asks me to do it,

it IS important.

*linking up with Lori Harris for her series #onethingrightnow

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January Resolutions

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It’s January, the month of fresh starts, new beginnings, and resolutions for a new and improved whatever.

I could quickly come up with a mile long list of things that I think need improving, but that’s not the way I want to roll anymore. I’ve chased “a better future” for far too long. Let me tell you, running into the future is a race that is never won.

Instead, I’m working really hard on contentment and joy in the right here, the right now, and the as is. It’s easy some days. Other days it’s a battle. Who am I kidding? Most days it’s a battle. Why? Because I’m a fixer and a do-er. If I go too long without any “fixing” or “doing” I get reeeeeeally cranky. Just ask my husband. Productivity and progress are two of my favorite words. Unfortunately, this make me quick to lose sight of two other valuable “p” words: patience and presence.

I think it is natural as an artist and creator to imagine “what could be,” and to desire to create it. The problem is when the “what could be” becomes more important and worthy of my attention and affection than the “what is.”

So no big glamorous inspirational resolutions for me this year.  I’m simply going to keep on keeping on with the already good, good gifts I’ve been given. Or maybe I do have a resolution–to be present, to be grateful, to do the work of today, and to leave the outcome up to God.

Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received. ~C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

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Resist the Resistance

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“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” ~Steven Pressfield. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

It’s been hard to call myself an artist these days because there’s not a whole lot of art making going on around here. I’ve got resistance coming from every direction. No time…no space…no quiet…more important things to do…things that need fixing…mini-emergencies…places to be…mom jobs…you name it. That kind of thinking tempts a girl to hang up her apron and retire the brushes because life just keeps getting in the way.

But then I remember.

I remember making 100 Faces.

I remember how just a few minutes a day and a few scraps of paper and the corner of a desk was all it took to make a little art. I remember how a little art = lots of happy.

I remember how day after day, a little art grew into a lot of art, and then that art landed itself on a gallery wall, and now that art is heading for Art Prize with over 1,500 other works of art, where it could potentially be seen by tens of thousands of people over the course of the next three weeks.

Wow. Just wow.

I don’t think I’m ready to retire quite yet. Nope, not even close. Hopefully not ever.

God wrote this story, and all the resistance in the world isn’t going to change who He made me to be…

an artist.

I have to go now. My brushes are calling.

What’s calling you?

 

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It’s Mother’s Day and I’m Sorry

img327I don’t have a mom anymore. Well I do, but she’s been in heaven for most of my life. That makes Mother’s Day a little difficult. Actually, it makes life difficult. Ask anyone without a momma and they’ll tell you it’s true. Or maybe go a day, a week, or a month without talking to, calling, texting, or seeing your mom. I take that back. Don’t ever do that. I’d feel terrible if you did that. In fact, you can stop reading right now and go hang out with your mom or call her up just to chat because this letter is not for you.

This letter is for the motherless. I wrote it to myself actually, but if you’re motherless I invite you to read on. I know it can be lonely being a motherless mom. I want you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to know that I know some of what YOU know and feel some of what YOU feel. I’m cracking open my heart here because I’m sorry for our loss. I’m writing to me, but please know I’m writing to you too. My situation is not yours. My experience is not yours. My words are not yours. But my heart? I think it might ache a little bit like yours.

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Dear Motherless Mom,

Today is hard. I’m sorry that you’re heart aches a little or maybe a whole lot. I’m sorry that today you are thinking about what could have been and what should have been. I’m sorry that today you’ll see other moms celebrating with their mothers and their children celebrating with their grandmothers. I’m sorry you can only imagine how wonderful that must be. I’m sorry that most of the time it seems like everyone has a momma and everyone assumes that you have one too. But you don’t. And it hurts. I’m sorry you feel like it’s not fair. It isn’t.  

I’m sorry that you still want your mom and need your mom and miss your mom. I’m sorry she’s not there to support you and encourage you and hold your hand on your hard days. I’m sorry she’s not there to share laughter and joy and hugs on your happy days. I’m sorry she cannot call and see how you’re doing and ask to talk to the kids for awhile. I’m sorry there no skyping to heaven because I know how you would do anything just to hear her voice and see her smiling at you again. I’m sorry that you sometimes wonder if anyone is praying for you and your family like your mother would. I’m sorry that it  sometimes it feels like no one really cares about your lives like your mother would. I’m sorry it can make you very sad and lonely some days. I’m sorry there isn’t an adoption agency that specializes in adoptions of moms for orphaned adults. I’m sorry that even if there where such a thing, you know it wouldn’t be the same. Your mother is irreplaceable. No one and nothing can ever take her place. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

You have every right and reason to cry today. It’s okay. Go ahead and cry. You miss your mom. You always will. That means you loved her and she loved you. Without her, you wouldn’t be the person you are today. You wouldn’t be the mom that you are, the wife that you are, the sister that you are, the friend that you are. You had an amazing person for a mother. In the years that you had with her, she gave you enough love to last the rest of your lifetime without her. How? She pointed you to God. Not everybody can say that about their mom and not everybody could do what you’ve had to do. It’s hard, so hard, but God has helped you, as He promised He would. Your mom was right. God is always there for you and you’re always going to need Him.

I’m sorry you cannot turn to your mom for help anymore, but she was right. God helps you. I’m sorry you cannot go to your mom for wisdom and advice anymore, but she was right. God guides you. I’m sorry you cannot go to your mom for comfort anymore, but she was right. God comforts you. I’m sorry you cannot go to your mom to be loved unconditionally anymore, but she was right. God loves you. I’m sorry you cannot turn to your mom for anything you need, but she was right. God provides for you.

Yes, it’s still really hard without your momma, but you are not alone. You have help. God’s taking good care of your mom, and He’s taking good care of you. So today, when you are done with your well-deserved crying, dig down deep and find your joy. Find something to be grateful for. Be mindful of your blessings. Believe it or not, even a hole in your heart can be a blessing if you let it. 

“What a wonderful God we have-he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more he will shower us with his comfort and encouragement.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 The Living Bible

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Always Be A Dreamer

Watercolor by Kristi LYnn Studio

Me having a blog is such a terrible idea. Really.

In fact, you could consider me an expert on how to have an unsuccessful blog. Here’s my expert advice:

#1. Never post anything.

#2. Post so infrequently that you forget your own username and password. (everysingletime.)

#3. Write all blog posts in your head where nobody can read them.

Maybe this blog is an exercise in futility, but I feel like I need to finish telling my story.

Last time I wrote I left you hanging…for a very long time.

I’m alive and well, so you know everything turns out in the end, but it was a dark time. God was performing open heart surgery on my life and it hurt. I was angry. I had fought hard for my dreams and letting go felt an awful lot like giving up. Letting go felt like losing. Letting go felt like failure. So I believed the lies and the constant nagging voice inside my war torn head. I believed I had somehow failed. Or worse yet, God had failed me. I threw in the towel. I was so done. Done with dreams, done with faith, done with giving a rip about anything.

You know what’s weird? I was clearly deeply depressed, but in some strange and unexpected way I felt free. The burden of constantly trying to figure things out was gone. Instead of filling my head with plans for some future dream life that was the apparent key to my happiness, I saw no choice but to accept that this, right here, right now, was it. This was my life. I had better learn to live it.

Something shifts inside when you start to live your life right here, right now, as is. It doesn’t happen over night, but gradually you start to appreciate what you have and wonder how you could have missed it. With time and practice, this new thing called contentment settles in and you realize that the life you have going on might actually be pretty darn good. I love the saying, “Gratitude turns what you have into enough.” Let me tell you, this is such a better place to be.

I’m not trying to say that dreams and ambitions are bad. They aren’t! But they can be if we let them take us to a place of discontent and ingratitude like I did. I’ll always be a dreamer. I’m just holding those dreams loosely now, knowing that my dreams, no matter how good or godly I think they are, might need a little remodeling from the Creator and Ruler of the universe from time to time.  Don’t believe for a second that suddenly my life is now just a bowl of cherries and I spend my days in a state of blissful gratitude and acceptance. Nope. Life is hard and I am human. I’m also one of those humans that is wired for perfection and control, who thinks thoughts 24/7, and feels ALL the feelings. I will always struggle to let God take the wheel. Which is actually quite ironic because I hate to drive and will sleep in the car every chance I get. Go figure

I’m rambling. I was telling you a story and then got all preachy on you. Let me be concise:

I had big dreams that would fix everything I thought needed fixing.

God said something along the lines of “Sorry, we aren’t going that route.”

I said, “What?! Are you kidding me?! Why not?!”

I let go, but not without an ugy fight.

He forgave me for that ugly fight.

I no longer felt the soul crushing desperation to fix my life. It didn’t need fixing.

I started making art.

I can hear what you are thinking.

“What the heck does art have to do with anything?”

Well, friends, it has everything to do with everything, but you are just going to have to be patient until I have the time and mental fortitude to tell you why. Apparently the writing part of my brain shuts down after about an hour and the perfectionst in me will need to spend the next three hours picking apart every word. I promise I will be back (even if it breaks rules #1-3) and I will tell you how God started to move when I finally got out of the way.

 

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My Botticelli Study

My most recent painting comes from a study of Botticelli led by the talented and lovely Jenny Wentworth as a part of the online class “Studying Under the Masters.”

Come and follow along with my Botticelli journey from beginning to end…

Sketch with charcoal on gessoed birch board. Under-painted sky in Payne's Gray.

Sketch with charcoal on gessoed 11×14 birch board. Under-painted sky in Payne’s Gray.

 

Underpainting the landscape with yellows and greens.

Under-painting the landscape with yellows and greens.

 

Completed background.

Completed background.

Burnt Umber wash for hair and shadows

Burnt Umber wash for hair and shadows.

 

Under-painting a wash of gold for skintones and hair

Under-painting a wash of gold for skintones and hair.   Starting to look like Fiona from Shrek?

Begin layering skin tones with washes of mostly white

Begin layering skin tones with washes of mostly white.

Opps!  Lost too much shadow.  Add eye details.

Opps! Lost too much shadow. Add eye details.

 

Change hair. Warm up skin. Start reds for gown and lips.

Change hair. Warm up skin. Start reds for gown and lips.

 

Added charcoal shadow and really dislike that. Errrr....

Added charcoal shadow and regret that. Errrr….

 

Add wreath and necklace.

Highlights to hair and add wreath and necklace.

 

Re-work skin tones: burnt umber, cadmium yellow, titanium white.  Complete gown and jewels.

Re-work skin tones: burnt umber, cadmium yellow, titanium white. Complete gown and jewels. Work on eyes.

 

Decided to add veil. Wishing I had done it BERFORE the wreath! Veil is done with titanium white and glazing medium.

Decided to add veil. Wishing I had done it BERFORE the wreath! Veil is done with titanium white and glazing medium.

 

Brush on some red and orange pastels for the blushing cheeks.  Call it finished!

Brush on some red and orange pastels for the blushing cheeks. Call it finished!

 

www.kristilynnstudio.com

The Botticelli influence is demonstrated in the landscaped background, which was painted first – as Botticelli would have done. Her tousled hair is adorned with a wreath and veil as is often seen in Botticelli’s work. She wears jewels, a gown, and rosy red lips inspired from a variety of Botticelli paintings.

As I look back at the progression of the painting and see the different stages in photos, I can’t help but appreciate this line from the book “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

“The truth is that the piece of art which seems so profoundly right in it’s finished state may earlier have been only inches or seconds away from total collapse.”

Yes, it’s true.  Art takes courage!

 

 

 

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Mr. Churchill Saves the Day

I saw a pin on Pinterest and I just had to paint it.

I created this  painting the very same day.  My daughter is a big  Katie Daisy fan, and this is very much inspired by her art.  Besides, this time of year I NEED FLOWERS!  I think I shall continue to paint flowers until every drop of snow has melted.

Floral Painting by Kristi Lynn Studio

I am crazy about this painting! The flowers, the colors, the texture, the style…YUM!

But those words are what really get to me. Oh, they are good. So good, and yet so very hard to live out.

Why? Because being brave with your life also means accepting failure along the way. I mean really, who likes to fail? I’d prefer guaranteed success, wouldn’t you?

The very first art class I offered for children was a complete fail. True story. I didn’t promote it well and I had a very limited target audience. Still, not a single drop of interest? OUCH! I took it pretty hard. Harder than I expected. Harder than I should have.

Floral Painting by Kristi Lynn Studio

A year later, I tried again. The one class I planned filled quickly and I was able to offer a second class to accommodate more. I think I cried happy tears for a whole week.

For the the next session, I offered three classes and filled 24 spots in 24 hours with five more trickling in later. Boo-yah!!! More happy tears!

But for the next three weeks? I have just 9 kids signed up for Monday and 2 kids for Wednesday! WHAAAAAT????? (in my best minion voice)

I contacted the Wednesday families and cancelled that class. Is that a failure? No, not really, but it still FEELS like failure. It’s so tempting to let my disappointment become a stumbling block.

Floral Painting by Kristi Lynn Studio

Providentially, a friend posted a quote on Facebook the same day I cancelled my class.

This quote very quickly changed my perspective as I scribbled it down in a journal:

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”  ~Churchill

Why, thank you for timely reminder, wise Mr. Churchill, you are so absolutely right.

Floral Painting by Kristi Lynn Studio

I’m totally looking forward to my smaller class. Less people means less crowd control and more connecting. Whether I have 29 kids or 9 kids, I absolutely love what I do, and what they do, and our time together. Kids are so smart and so creative. It’s just such an honor to be a part of a little artist’s life and to provide creative experiences for them to grow.

Floral Painting by Kristi Lynn Studio

So yes, cancelling class was a bummer. I could stress myself over the whys and analyze all the variables. I could take it personally and be blue. The truth is, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m okay with that. I 100% believe in this calling, even if I have to “fail” sometimes.

Besides, with one less class to plan, prepare, and teach, I have extra time for planning something else. Something I’m very excited about.

Something I’ll tell you about LATER!

 

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