On Loving and Longing

it’s Valentine’s Day next week, and the aisles at Target are working overtime to make sure we know that love is in the air, am I right? 

And does it seem like we are all collectively trying to feel light, flirty, and happy…yet know that life is truly often heavy, burdensome, and even our best days are as the Psalmist says: “but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)

I’m not trying to be a downer; I’m just telling the truth from where I’m seeing it: Love is sweet and fragrant and fun, but it also requires labor, sacrifice, and diligence. I can’t look at pink hearts without considering all the purple ones too in the trenches of life. Love and loss, love and longing…seems to always go hand in hand.

After almost 19 years of marriage and loving a husband plus six kiddos…love (the verb) and the celebration of it feels much different than it used to:

Less fluff and more foundation. Less stuff and more substance. Less heartburn, but more heartache.

Life is full of opportunities to love, feel longing or loss, and to love anyway.

I’ve been thinking on these things as Valentine’s Day approaches and GraceLaced Shoppe launched the Be Still Series this week (with a sale!) The series is about fighting chaos and the discouragement of waiting for change, with the steadying truth of God’s Word. It’s His Word that reminds us that:

He is good when He blesses and takes away. He is not through with us yet and will indeed wipe away every tear and make all things new. We can be still because He is still on the throne, even when everything is not perfectly lovely or loving.

Love and longing can sometimes feel like the same thing: Both make the heart ache and both teach us to trust what we can’t always see with our eyes. 

So maybe these verses meet you at the intersection of loving and loss, maybe they find you yearning and waiting, and maybe these verses remind you that you must just keep pressing on in love and praise because Christ is love and your life is in Him.

I hope so.


*And if these (or anything else in the shoppe) speaks to you this week, we are having a shoppe-wide sale, so enjoy the discount and free print promo through Wednesday 2/15. 


Cheering you on, friends.

Because of grace,

 

(Family portrait by my friend, Joy Prouty of Wildflowers Photography)

Advertisements

Hope…In The Desert {Launch + Sale!}

For those who know barrenness, waiting, thirst, and longing…

…those who know dry seasons of the soul…

…for the one who’s cup isn’t overflowing like it once did:

God makes a way in the wilderness. He provides rivers in the desert, and breaks up our fallow ground. He is the author of hope in, and through the desert.

I have known such desert seasons more than a few times in my life, and can confidently say there is nothing more satisfying than a parched soul whose thirst is quenched — Jesus alone is our balm and sustainer in those seasons. 

I am grateful and thrilled to share with you the Hope in the Desert 2017 (3-in-1) Calendar.

My prayer for us is this:

That come what may in 2017, whether our current circumstances change or don’t; whether we feel relief or not; whether we experience lush growth or press on in drought, we might hold fast to our HOPE in Christ, the source of living water, himself. 

As with the last year’s Garden of Truth 2016 Calendar, the Hope in the Desert 2017 Calendar is meant to instruct, inspire, and encourage us as we speak to our longings with the truth of God’s Word.

It is designed to be repurposed as (12) 8×10 art prints and (12) scripture memory cards. My desire is for us to find the Word of God beautiful, practical, transformative, and purposeful in our everyday lives. That is my heart behind every piece painted in GraceLaced Shoppe, but especially in our annual calendar. We hope you love this year’s version as much as we do. 


WE ARE CELEBRATING WITH A SALE!

 

Now thru September 20, receive the entire 12 image Hope In the Desert Lock Screen download set, FREE with calendar purchase. (You will receive an email with FREE coupon code once you’ve purchased a calendar.)

(FYI: With the 20% storewide discount, our already discounted 4-pack bundles are only $120…making the calendars only $30 a piece!)

Take advantage of the 20% entire store on canvases, including brand new Hope In the Desert Canvas offerings…

I hope these verses are a balm to your soul as they are to mine as we break up the fallow ground of disbelief and hardness of heart, and welcome the downpour of sustaining grace that comes only by way of redemption. He is our hope in every season…even in the desert.

Grateful for you all. Press on, friends.

Because of grace,

 

Grieving + 2 New Prints To Help Us Rejoice

My dear friend, Susan, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday afternoon this last week, and while I know that her passing is her gain, we who love her grieve and miss her deeply. This is what I shared at her memorial service…on friendship:

About once every other week for several years, Susan would come by the house after she dropped her boys off at school, and I’d put the kettle on. She was predictable in all the best ways. She’d sit up at my kitchen island, and I’d serve her a cup of Good Earth tea while I had my second cup of coffee. “I can’t believe there’s no sugar in this!” she’d say every time.  I’d dice up some onions and chop up whatever veggies were in the fridge, and we’d get caught up on our latest news. Sometimes it was no more than hunting for where to find the perfect mustard colored leather purse or what drapes were most appropriate in a certain room each of us were working on. But by the time our basted eggs and sautéed veggies were done, we’d already be confiding about our recent struggles to be patient, show grace, embrace trials, or pray through unknowns. That’s how it was with Susan: all the fun and attentiveness to beauty that surrounds with every bit of her heart knit to all the things that really mattered.

Compassionate, kind, thoughtful, truthful, thorough, and discerning, and slow to speak and quick to listen. These are marks of any friend we might hope for, but Susan wasn’t just any friend; she was the friend that stuck closer than a sister. She always remembered to ask about the prayer requests you may have forgotten to give an update for. She knew how to comfort and she was quick to provide in tangible ways any opportunity that was given. 

One of the ways she gave so selflessly was in investing her life in ministries that she cared about, regardless of how hard it was to do so at times. Two of those ministries were personal labors of love for me and my family, so as you can imagine, her giving of her talents and time during those years, were a gift of friendship to me as well. I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter encourager, more discerning confidante, or more prayer-filled sister in Christ.

Susan and I were opposites in many ways, but of like heart in all the ways that were eternal. We would laugh anytime we collaborated on an event, shopped for gifts, decorated a room, or picked out an outfit together. She loved for things to coordinate, and I would hardly stand for it. She took care to make sure colors matched, and I challenged that effort at every turn and pushed her limits on embracing the artistically clashing and unexpected. Even this last week, while painting my dining room a shade short of the deepest black, with plans to either paint a mural of cascading bouquet of flowers or gold lettering against the ink colored wall, I longed to hear her say to me again with her knowing smile: “Of course you decided to paint that wall. You’ll probably do something different in there by the New Year!” 

She spurred me on in my artistic endeavors, believed in me before I even truly believed in myself, and always asked to hear more of the ways God was opening doors for my gifts and talents. Even while she battled breast cancer, she continued to tirelessly encourage, applaud, and support my work. She even commissioned a large canvas from me of her favorite sunflowers, just before the outside world stood up and took notice. So often I have thought to myself, “Susan will be so excited for me. Susan would be so proud.” And trust me, that speaks more of her than of me; she was that generous of a friend. 

Cicero wrote: “Few men have true friends, and few are worthy. True friends are amazing, and all amazing things are rare. Many foolish men think often of money and little of friends, but they err. We can be strong without a lot of money, but without friendship, we are not strong and life is meaningless.” My husband, Troy, likes to define a true friend as someone who makes you want to love Christ more. If that is true, Susan not only brought so much meaningfulness to each of our lives, but in her 50 years here with us…invested eternally. Her friendship has prepared us for the glory and joy that she now has become. We can’t wait for our sweet reunion, friend.


This has been a season of grief…for myself, those close to me, and especially now – worldwide. Loss occurs 365 days a year but somehow in the glow of the holiday season, the memory of loved ones is especially tender and raw.

I painted these two new prints in GraceLaced Shoppe recently while mourning the loss of a friend’s baby, and then, while I personally wrestled with finding the joy of the Lord.

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

I’m praying these prints encourage you and yours this season, to look to the One who comforts the broken-hearted.

I’m so honored that you are here. If you enjoyed this blog post and would like new posts to come directly to your inbox, I invite you to subscribe to GraceLaced Blog here.

New Christmas Prints To Turn Our Eyes + SALE!

Christ didn’t come to simply comfort and console…he came, born as a babe, with the Cross in view, to do the seemingly impossible…what we couldn’t do on our own: be reconciled to a Holy God. He came in humility, as a helpless baby…to not wield his right to the throne, but to yield his will to the Father’s unfolding plan. Jesus would rescue the hearts of men who didn’t know they needed rescuing, by a man they didn’t believe could rescue them.

…All because God purposed to redeem and restore according to his will, not man’s wisdom…because He is glorified in making the weak strong, the worthless worthy, the helpless able, and the outcast loved deeply. I could think on that every day of the year and still not grasp the magnitude of Emmanuel, God with us. 

This is what’s been on my mind this year as we release two new Christmas prints for 2015…


It’s a busy time of year for us at GraceLaced Shoppe. This week, I’ll be traveling to South Carolina to speak at Allume Conference, where we will also have a table. It’s a joy for me to meet you all, so if you see me at a conference, please do stop by and say hello. 🙂 The GraceLaced Team has grown and we are still learning our stride as we come up on completing two full years of being in business. What a ride this has been!

We’ve recently sent out our 6000th order here from the studio and I couldn’t be more grateful and honored. What a surprise to see the Lord use my hand and a brush in this way. I’m just humbled to be a part of what He’s doing. And really…he’s doing quite a bit. There are lots of things going on around here that I’m eager to share about in time. 

It’s been my heart, this Fall, to offer prints and products that turn our eyes to Jesus and to the power of His Word. 

This year’s two new additions to GraceLaced Shoppe Christmas Store both seek to remind us of why Jesus came to earth and where we really find hope and comfort. Some of our favorites from last year also return this Christmas, so I it’s our prayer that you be blessed by them…and turn your eyes to what His birth, life, death, and resurrection means for you, today…

And this painting, though not Christmas related, is dear to my heart and included in this release with hopes of being a blessing…

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

We’ve also added some Gift Sets with journal and notecard sets in two of our most encouraging prints…

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

And you may have heard…we all but entirely sold out of our first ambitious shipment of the Garden Of Truth Calendars within the first week of releasing them last month! We’ve now received our final shipment of them, so we are re-releasing them with this sale as well. Don’t hesitate if you want one, for yourself and a friend! The heart behind this calendar is to bless with a 3-in-1 reusable piece of art that encourages us to hide God’s Word in our hearts….all year long!

In celebration of the new releases, we are offering 15% off:

  • ALL CHRISTMAS 2014 AND NEW CHRISTMAS 2015 prints and products

  • All new releases

  • Garden of Truth Calendar

  • Gift Sets

Use code: NEWCHRISTMAS

Offer good through 11:59 pm MT, October 18, 2015.

 

As always, thank you for the privilege of encouraging you through this corner of words and artwork. You are a blessing to me!

Because of grace,

I’m so honored that you are here. If you enjoy this blog and would like new posts to come directly to your inbox, I invite you to subscribe to GraceLaced by email.

On Turning 40

Forty was always off in the distance: The Land of Grown-Ups. Even when honoring Troy turning 40 two years ago, my day seemed sooo far off in the future.

And here I am, on the eve of what I have always imagined to be a wiser, stronger, better, calmer me. In some ways, those things are true in my life…I do feel more assured, less chaotic, more settled, and better equipped than I have ever felt, but I’ve also found the dawn of my 40s accompanying more unknowns, heartaches, sin-fighting, and grace-giving than I’d ever imagined. 

I think when you’re younger, you hope that time and diligence will bring about refinement that makes living easier. But the older I get, the more I’m thinking it’s actually that the refining work of Christ in our lives makes us need easy living, less. The aim is no longer to arrive at a place of less difficulty (with ourselves or our circumstances), but rather to handle ourselves and our circumstances in difficulty with Christ-wardness. The question at 40 is not WHAT I will do with my life, but HOW I will do what He’s given me to do.

Our pastor preached out of 2 Samuel 7 today, as David prays according to God’s sovereign anointing and greatness in and through David’s life. I couldn’t help but hear this verse with a grateful heart as I turn the corner on four decades of life.

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?

— 2 Samuel 7:18

It’s just another day, and though nothing physically changes, the heart knows that 40 years of breath is no small miracle. The Lord has done great things…and who am I that he would bring me this far? 

Because of His glory and for His praise…I have been given the number of my days. Lord, help me to see them accurately, steward them well, and run the race with my eyes wide open. Thank you for these 40 years.


We are celebrating my birthday at GraceLaced Shoppe!

*All orders placed on my birthday, October 5, will receive a FREE special edition 5×7 print of “Live A Quiet Life,” a verse I hold as a pursuit of my heart.

*I’ve teamed up with amazing companies all week long for daily giveaways for Ruth’s Fab 40 Giveaway Week on Instagram! Be sure to check in daily over there, and join in the fun. I’ll be giving away a $40 store credit EACH DAY to GraceLaced Shoppe along with some amazing goodies! Come back on Friday to the blog, where I’ll highlight each collaborating company…you’ll have a chance to enter until giveaways close on Sunday night, October 11. 

Thanks for celebrating with me and for your sweet support of GraceLaced. I’m so grateful.

Because of grace,

I’m so honored that you are here. If you enjoy this blog and would like new posts to come directly to your inbox, I invite you to subscribe to GraceLaced by email.

A Garden of Truth for 2016

I’m slow to learn and hard of hearing…and sometimes hard of heart.

There are 365 days in a year, and 365 days of the year you will find me fighting to keep Truth at the forefront of my mind and in the pliable part of my heart. It’s not just about waging war on sin, it’s about setting our minds on things above as a means for battle. 

I have to continually pull up the weeds that I hope to replace with a garden of truth.

That’s the heart behind the debut of what I hope to be an annual Garden of Truth calendar in GraceLaced Shoppe.  The calendar, which releases today, was designed to 3-in-1, with 12 repurpose-able 8×10 prints, and 12 coordinating scripture memory cards. I wanted to offer the kind of calendar that would draw you in with beauty but would anchor you to truth….all year long. 

Each month is adorned with a flower that blooms during that time of year + a portion of a verse of Truth that is worthy of rehearsing over and over again. The full verse is located beneath the print, so you can easily read it and remind yourself throughout the month. 

You may want to make it a verse to memorize all month long, as a family or with a friend. Once the month is over, you can follow the instructions and cut the page of the month out as a separate print + scripture memory card. I’ve also created a set of 12 lock screen downloads that coordinate with the calendar so that you can have access to your yearlong garden of truths everywhere you go…


To celebrate the calendar release, I’m running a SALE and PROMO through Sunday, September 20!

Take 20% off entire shoppe, including ALL new releases! Use code: TRUTH20

+

Every order with a calendar purchase, now through Sunday, will receive an emailed coupon code for a FREE download of the Garden of Truth Lock Screen Set!

(both offers last thru 9/20/15, 11:59 MT)


As always, I’m honored to have the opportunity to share my artwork with you. I’m grateful that He’s chosen to use words and brush offered from this place as a means of encouragement. May His Word richly dwell within us and spur us on in both hard and fertile soil. 

Because of grace,

I’m so honored that you are here. If you enjoy this blog and would like new posts to come directly to your inbox, I invite you to subscribe to GraceLaced by email.

Endless Summer and Back To School {New Releases + Sale}

It’s back to school in our neck of the woods, and I’m both holding on to summer and transitioning to the challenging work that is schooling our children. The end of carefree and the ushering in of responsibilities always reveals more than the need for order to a schedule; it reveals our NEED FOR CHRIST. 

This new set of releases is both my celebration of an endless summer…and reminders of where our real comfort comes from…


The “Summer Poppies” painting is for all of us who long for summer to linger a little longer.

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

…in journal and notecard sets…

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

And…the reminder that our striving and efforts to show ourselves able are simply not enough, nor needed: “Power Made Perfect” is one of my favorite new pieces in the shoppe.

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

document.querySelector(‘.product-block .product-block’).classList.add(‘is-first-product-block’);

And I leave you with this last new release: “Endurance and Encouragement” found in the only One who can provide lasting assurance…in our families, our relationships, our pursuit each day to glorify Jesus. It’s simple, but I pray it helps keep the reminder and truth squarely before us as the seasons change…and we head back to school.

To celebrate the new releases, I’m running a little sale through Sunday, August 23.

All new releases discounted at introductory prices (10 % off, no code necessary) only thru Sunday.

PLUS

Take 15% off any order over $40, only thru Sunday.

Use Code: BACKTOSCHOOL

Sale ends 11:59 pm MT, Sunday August 23


As always, I’m grateful for your support and honored that you are here.

Because of grace,