Friday, December 21, 2012

4th Advent Giveaway: A Tiny Bit Early...

Christmas comes early... at least it does when Monday is Christmas Eve! This last giveaway is up and ready for downloading a few days early in light of all the last minute preparations being made for the big day. Christmas, we do love you for all the joy you bring us and the reminder that we haven't been left alone in this world. Emmanuel is with us and we rejoice! Noel, Je t'aime!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tennessee Christmas

Painting featured: "Tango Maureen"

 Growing up listening to Amy Grant's "Tender Tennessee Christmas" kind of had an adverse effect on me- it really made me wish we had those snow covered roofs in Colorado. I couldn't understand Amy's love for a state that held so few signs that winter happened. I wanted my snow men- my snow cream- snow boots! What I  didn't know was that kids still had to go to school on snow days. What???? People emerged out of their homes-turned-snow forts with all their stock piles of milk and bread and went on with life as usual?   They weren't scared out of their minds to drive on an inch of snow and potential black ice? Eventually I learned that only in the South are snow machines a rare phenomenon and the rest of the US laughs at us TN bumpkins... Well, unless a Christmas miracle occurs this year, there probably won't be any snow on Christmas day or any other day this winter (thank you, climate change) but I'll take you, Tennessee. You're a pretty great place to be. You've made a true Southern woman out of me and I kinda like you. A lot. Merry Tennessee Christmas to you!!  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Third Advent Giveaway!

This printout is free and downloadable here.

One more week until Christmas and I'm buzzing. I'm buzzing with some new found freedom amidst the craziness of this season. The last few weeks have been so rich with a few new epiphanies for me as I've been struggling through all the highs and low that Christmas can bring:

 1. It's just stuff.
I'm so embarrassed to admit that I am the first one to be absorbed with the consumerism that surrounds Christmas. The minute I start my Christmas shopping, I start wanting things. Pretty, shiny, sparkly things. Things for myself. New things that shout at me when I'm supposed to be focused on giving to others. I get so consumed with myself and orchestrating the perfect Christmas list for myself to ensure that all my wants are fulfilled and I end the Christmas season with a gaping hole in myself that focus on stuff brings. I was walking through Target the other day and was coveting a thousand shiny new things and this overwhelming thought came over me- "It's just stuff. It shouldn't have this power over you." And I felt a burden lift from me. A freedom started to form - it's just stuff and I really don't need any of it. What a gift! Now to pray that I can maintain this posture throughout the year.

2. Time to reflect.
Every December I set out to create quiet time- time to meditate on the miracle and wonder of Christ coming to earth to set us free from ourselves. Every year December 25th comes and I have filled every possible minute with myself: parties, cookie baking, Christmas carding, list making, shopping. I've made an idol of my entertainment and haven't given Christ the prominence that worshiping Him demands. This year, I stumbled across two of the best centering items I could have found. An advent devotional: Dale and Jonalyn Fincher's Opening the Stable Door  and Sufjan Stephen's Christmas album from long ago, "Songs for Christmas." The more I read and listen, the more I want of Christ and the less I feel the need to be so busy.

3. It's not over yet.
 This is probably my favorite epiphany this season. I get the January blues BIG TIME. Christmas is over. The parties, the festivities, the cheer, the loving, the giving- it's all over and all we have left is a cold, dark, bleak month, full of dreariness because our wallets are empty and our bodies are sluggish from too much indulging. But if Christmas really is as powerful as it claims to be- if a tiny little baby was born and His birth pierced the dark, dark world and a shard of hope entered the world, then Christmas is not over after the 25th. In fact, it just begins in the new year. Christmas gives me new life for the year. As our pastor put it, the gospel reminds me that this life is not as good as it gets. Life is not "just the way it is," Christ gives me hope that this is not the way it's always going to be. One day my King will sit on His throne and right all that is wrong. He will forever pierce all darkness and rule over a city and a people who know no darkness, pain, or tears. If I really believe the gospel, December 26th can become a day of joy and peace. Emmanuel has come! God is with us! I can keep celebrating because I have a reason beyond gifting and feasting to be joyful.

**** The above printout is free and downloadable here. My prayer is that it will be an encouragement and a reminder of the hope that awaits us this season!!   *****

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Inspiration for Custom Work

I am often asked where I find inspiration for artwork and I'm happy to share a great example of the inspiration process today.  The above piece was one that I recently collaborated on with a friend. She and her husband wanted an abstract piece with a field of flowers that also brought back memories from their travels in Europe. Holly sent me the picture below as the inspiration for our project and they also decided that they wanted a French barn in the composition to add a bit more of a European flair to the piece. I used the photo for the basic composition, adding a few of my own touches. 
I then snooped around for some good images of stone French country barns and found one that fit well in the scene. This was such a great painting to work on and such an easy process working with Holly and Allen.  I hope it brings you two as much joy as it brought me! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Gift Tag Download!

It's week 2 of Christmas downloads! Hopefully you're breezing through your Christmas gift purchases and are ready to wrap happy!   Available on Etsy after today. Happy Monday- and enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Citrus Christmas

Every year the ladies in my family gather together for cookie day- a most exciting day of the year where we will cover my aunt's kitchen with dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies and fill up take home boxes to spread among friends. It's always fun to see what everyone makes each year and it's always a hard decision to pick one cookie out of so many delicious options! This year, I've narrowed my selection down to citrus- gleaning inspiration from a Stella McCartney citrus cake I discovered a while back. So, what'll it be? Orange Pistacio (unfortunately, the recipe for these lovely cookies was in german, so I might try this one) , lemon rosemary, lemon lavendar shortbread, or citrus cranberry ? Hmmmmmmmm.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

'Tis Giving Season!!!

 A very Merry December to you!! I'm doing a little Advent giveaway each week and have worked up four Christmas printables that will be available for download every Monday this month!  Just download and print away!! Today's giveaway is "Joy to the World." Happy Monday!!