Wherever You Go, Leave a HeARTprint

HP-authlvd-etsy-A-1 When I lived overseas, I remember wishing I brought more stationary with me for handwritten notes.  Now that I am back in the USA creating full-time, I have been developing a line of encouragement cards that can be downloaded anywhere in the world that has internet access and printed out for personal use. {They can be used for commercial/organizational purposes too, we just need to set up appropriate licensing terms. And all that takes is dropping me an email.}

Now wherever you go, you can leave a HeARTprint.  These cards and printable instant downloads will be available for purchase on my Etsy shop @ RiverTreeStudio as they are created.

I’ve recently been fascinated with letter-form and decorative typography. I love all things whimsical and inspired.  I’ve been captivated with the power of words as long as I can remember.  Put all these things together and you have HeARTprints.

As an artist/illustrator, I want to create beauty that can be enjoyed everyday. I’d love wall space in gallery too for appropriate pieces when the opportunity arises one day… But it is a dream to take my illustrations and license/publish them in a variety of of ways.

To EN-courage, put courage into those who receive the message.  I can think of few other applications of creativity that make me happier.

You are invited to come along with me and leave some HeARTprints as you journey!  I have a few more designs coming out individually this week and a bundled version coming out on Sunday, February 1– in honor of Valentine’s Day. Bookmark the HeARTprints section of my Etsy store to see what new designs get loaded each week!

10943030_10205936968210277_7523232296044429736_nRemember, your authentic life is needed.  You are loved beyond measure.  And you are called to be free.

What Authentic Looks Like

10914488_651451648299261_833670856_nI’ve been thinking a lot about this new year open wide with possibilities. One theme seems to stand out for me over and over again.

What does authentic look like?

It is so much easier to look to stages and platforms and find some model with which we resonate.  I want to be like _______ when I grow up.  And we need role models who inspire us farther, higher, deeper. But the best role models inspire us to become more of who we really are, not a carbon image of who they are.

God breaks the mold every single time.  There will never be another you.  If you are trying to be someone other than who He has made you to be, it is robbing the world of the one gift only you and Jesus can give them: the gift of your life fully laid down and infused with His.

I’ve been in a season of much soul-searching and trimming away that which is secondary to focus on that which is primary.  There are many things I can do.  But that doesn’t mean I should do them, just because I can. As a friend once put it, a doctor can draw blood but that doesn’t mean drawing blood is the best use of his or her gifts and time.

What we do becomes authentic when it is the overflow of who we are created to be.  What we do becomes empowered when is overflowing with Who He is in us.  What we do bears fruit that remains when it is a seed planted, cultivated and harvested in season.

You know it when you hear it.  Authentic has a sound to it.  Effortless, it just is.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t work involved.  But the work is driven by the overflow of a heart in love with Him not the striving of our own strength and good ideas.  My good ideas usually get me in more trouble than just about anything else!

Authentic is becoming who we are created to be, filled to overflowing with Who He is, walking with Him in His season and timing.

It is a journey where we are always arriving but never fully arrive.

Prayerfully I know this season’s overflow for me is found in trusting Him enough to fully embrace the creative thread in my heart He has woken to life.  It is His call for this moment. I don’t know where it will lead, but I don’t need to know to say yes.  Trusting looks like saying yes when you don’t know where the path will actually take you.  In some ways it is a far deeper kind of trust than when I went to South Sudan where I knew the general destination, I just didn’t fully know the route.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been radically refining the focus for 2015 and retooling all I am involved in in light of its insight.  I’m leaping into the unknown with Jesus.  Anything that feels forced or less than authentic has had an ax taken to it.  Anything that isn’t a product of His overflow in this moment has either been tossed or archived.  {Take a look at the results over on RiverTree by Michele Perry. It is pretty exciting to see the stripped-down simple version.  It just is right. Authentic brands are based on genuine overflow too.}

Maybe take a moment with Him in the next little while?  See what He whispers to you about your authentic overflow for this year? You might be very surprised to hear what He has to say. Epic adventures ahead my friends!


When Your Heart Is Breaking

heartbrkn1For the last two years I have shared how it feels like a piece of my heart is missing, left in the red soil of the world’s newest nation.  How can I invest my whole heart when it is only partially available?  I ask God tough questions.  Real raw relationship is where it is at for me.

Last night I sat down with a notebook and began counting the pieces of dreams scattered across miles and moments.  Working with images and color rather than language allowed me to find words after the fact. I really didn’t know what I was drawing or where it was going. I just kept doodling on until it became what it is now.

Sometimes the bravest kind of creativity isn’t about the product, but the process we engage to reach it and the understanding we gain as we embrace the journey.

I felt like I left the best part of my heart in Africa.  I stepped off the continent of Africa into a dark, grey, stormy season of unknowing.  But it wasn’t the darkness of evil, it was the thick darkness where God is (Exodus 20:21). Until we are willing to trust Him in the dark, we will limit our ability to carry His light.

This trust walk through the unknown has tested every part of me. But slowly the darkness is becoming bright with renewed expectation.



It dawned on me…

What if the pain of my heart breaking, was actually the pain of my heart being broken open and enlarged?  Instead of a piece of my heart being planted in Africa, Jesus has allowed Africa to be planted forever in my heart, forever in my story.  Nothing left behind but all things woven together in Him, for Him, through Him.

What if the very things meant to break us down actually become the things that break us open to more of Him and His promise?  This is the mystery and the beauty of His unfailing love. May you find His goodness overwhelming you friends.  And may you find every corner or bend in the road of your journey spilling His joy.

You are loved.


How to Ring In the New Year

happynewyr webIt is hard to believe 2015 is here.  I for one, am MORE than ready and am thrilled to have rung out the old year and rung in a blank canvas with 365 days of potential.  I started writing this post on January 1st and then, well, life happened.  My Christmas remains half up in a strange nether state of seasonal limbo. (Confession: I haven’t taken anything down, I just never fully put it up.  Yes, 2014 was THAT kind of year.)

My goal this year… Move in.  Really this time.  Much of my overflow still resides in suitcases sporting African dust between their wheels.  It is time to pare down and let go of clothes I will probably never wear again.  They worked fine in Africa, but not so much here.  Clothes are not memories.  They are in this case threadbare fabric from years of vigorous wear and washing a world away.  There is no gentle cycle in the bush.  Not if you want to get the clothes clean at least.

It is time to give away that which would bless and list on eBay that which might help me pay my bills.  I’m taking January as time to really organize my year to come as much as it can be.  Goals, dreams, visions, strategic planning with the only One Who truly knows the path ahead. I have wanted to be truly organized and simplified for over a decade.  2015 is time.

After my fridge died a painful prolonged death where simultaneously an Ice Age began on my refrigerator’s interior ceiling and global warming wreaked havoc in the door and dehydrator, I finally got a new refrigerator.  I was elated.  Thank you apartment complex! Then suddenly my sweet silent world got catapulted back to the relentless sound of a generator running right beside me.  I’ve been on the hunt for noise canceling ear plugs. I really, really love my silence.

10903741_1599356316960993_944927464_nI rang in 2015 by painting it into being.  Cuddled up with hot cocoa, fuzzy slippers and a set of luscious colors, little could make me happier.  It was a kind of prophetic statement of sorts. I’m stepping into a new season. Forget stepping.  I’m diving into a new season.  Total commitment.

God keeps guiding me to focus on creating, writing and painting.  As well as helping others connect with Him creatively and become released into deeper measures of creativity themselves.  So I celebrated the passing of years by creating. Seemed fitting.

Fast forward 12 days, Happy New Year friends!  We are under 2 weeks in, so it is still almost new.

Tennyson has long been one of my favorite poets.  And one of my favorite pieces of all time is a section from his In Memoriam that speaks to the dawning of the new year.  The painting of the bells will make a lot more sense when you read Tennyson’s words below.  I performed them years ago for an assignment in the dramatic interpretation of literature and they were planted deep in my heart.

It is my prayer for all of us, this year and for the years to come.

“Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.”

–Lord Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam

This is how you ring in a new year.  You let go of the old and embrace Him Who holds all time and eternity in His hands.  Even your new year with its dreams and challenges, hopes and uncertainties.  Many amazing things to come for all of us.  I can’t wait to journey with you as we watch His goodness unfold around us each and every day.

Start 2015 knowing that you are loved with a Love that never fails.

Painted Prayers

paintedprayers-6There are times when life defies language and words seem to sputter into a heap at my feet. 2014 was a year like that. I had moved back from a war zone in Africa after 7 years there founding a children’s rescue home. My health crashed after 18 rounds of cerebral malaria and forced me to make a move I never would have chosen otherwise.

Feeling like a foreigner in my own country, all I could do was walk one step at a time, one breath at a time rising above a stormy transition by His grace.  Even the ways I had connected with God were stripped away in the process.

I couldn’t pray the way I had before.  But I couldn’t not pray either. Raw with emotion one moment and numb the next, I sat with my Bible and stared blankly at the pages.

I knew God wasn’t absent. He is never absent. I know this and it is in the moments when I can’t see or feel that I must lean hardest on what I know. And in the leaning came a whisper.

Maybe I could pray with paint…  {Keep reading this post and join me and some amazing women over on  VelvetAshes.com}