Friday, June 1, 2012

A Morning With Malachi

We were just going about our morning business when we noticed Malachi (AKA Kye) trying to dig his way under the blanket that we had on the floor for the dog. He would bury his nose under the egde, lift it up and it would fall. This happened several times and he seemed to be getting frustrated. He couldn't really get all the way under it. It was pretty clear... He wanted a fort.

So we made him this one.

I know. Completely rediculous. But he loved it.

XX's to you!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do you ever sit down to read a good book for "just a few minutes" only to look up at the clock an hour or so later? Well, that's how I feel, only instead of a book, it's been painting! I look up from my work and months have flown by!
My last post was filled with pictures of falling snow. Now I look out the window to green grass and foliage, sprinkled here and there with bright, colorful blooms.
My 13 yr. old son took this!
 He's developed a love for photography, himself, over the past few months.

And the dreams I've had of painting and restorning furniture  to replace the income from my job are in motion. It's not been easy by any stretch but I knew there would be difficulties and sacrifices to make in the beginning. 
Here are some of the pieces I've done recently:

A little Old White and lots of Emporer's Silk Red by Annie Sloan! I just purchased some Paris Gray, so I'll be sharing some of those projects soon.
Until then, be blessed!
Ciao! Jen

Friday, February 24, 2012

SNOW!!! Now It Feels like Winter In Michigan.

It's not like we haven't had any snow this winter, but compared to most years it's been VERY little. We've had way more 40ish degree days than I can ever remember having. More sun too, I think, which is nice.
But I like my Michigan snow....
Out my front window.

Out back. Finally seeing plow trucks...

I'm enjoying my snow day :)
Hope you're staying warm wherever your corner of the world may be. Have a spectacular weekend while you're at it, too!
Hugs~ Jen

Thursday, February 16, 2012

From Doubting to Dreaming

I woke up this morning to a heaviness. Doubts and fear about finances, kids, broken vehicles were ready and waiting to pound my peace into the ground.

Do you ever have one of those mornings? You go to bed content. Even joyful.

...Then you wake up the next morning with thoughts all tangled and depression, like a bully, hovering?  Kind of like that cloud in that depression know the one? Only, I notice in that commercial that the cloud never really goes away. It just hangs back a bit, like a neglected pet or something. What's up with that?! I want that cloud gone! (Not to mention, I don't want to it possibly cause increased suicidal thoughts!) I can tell you from personal experience that the Master Physician can kick that cloud to the curb! He did it for me years ago and He did it again for me today.

And now I'm just sitting here thinking this morning; He didn't bring me the storm that we just came through (losing our house), but He brought me through it.... and I'm stronger than when it began (get this!) because of the storm! It's like spiritual weight training and He's the personal trainer.

On top of that He showed me color and life where I only saw gray. My eyes just needed to readjust to new landscapes.

I feared, and instead of scolding me, He protected me...

He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
Psalm 91:4

My feelings and the enemy of my soul lied to me, but The Lord valiantly fought on my behalf when I was weak. He whispered Love into these ears until I trusted Him again. He spoke Truth to my heart. I believe Him.

And I'm dreaming again. I told you in a previous post that My creativity was returning. Well, so has my dream to upcycle furniture and create things with my hands for more than just a hobby. Doing it as a business is something I've half-heartedly tried and thought about over the past couple years, but never quite had the confidence to throw myself into. Well, I really think that NOW is the time. My other job is not cutting it financially and THIS is what I really want to do!

Let me elaborate some. My husband and I were recently challenged at our church to help with a fundraiser for one of our church's outreach ministries called the Yellow Box. We could come up with whatever fundraiser we wished. Some people are detailing cars and giving oil changes, some are selling freezer meals, a dentist-friend of ours is giving discounted teeth cleanings...the list goes on. Whatever money is raised by February 26th goes to funding the completion of the Yellow Box remodeling, which in turn, will fund various missions and so on.  When we were given this challenge I knew that I wanted to use my love for upcycling old things to help fund this I've been painting...and painting...and painting. And I love doing it. So I've prayerfully taken some time off of my very part-time job to test the waters. I may still work part time for a short while, but once it replaces my income, Lord willing, I'm going grow it so I can just work from my home.

So you may see some changes around here! I'm excited to share the work I've been doing! You'll also probably see some new pages...maybe even another blog, eventually. We'll cross that bridge when we get there :)

I'll post some of the pieces I've done below. You may recognize a couple of them, but most of them are things I've worked on in the past few weeks. I'll keep you posted as new pieces are created.

All of this makes me wonder...Would I even be stepping out on this limb to pursue this dream if I hadn't been uncomfortable and tried for a season?

Probably not.

Annie Sloan Graphite

Annie Sloan Old white and Graphite.

LOVED the natural crackles.

Annie Sloan Old White w/ dark wax. Graphite stencils

Annie Sloan paint and various acrylics. I did this in January.

Annie Sloan Graphite and Emporer's Silk w/ Dark Wax.

Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue.

A wash of Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue.

Annie Sloan Old White and Duck Egg Blue.

Annie Sloan Emporer's Silk w/ dark wax.

Mixed media piece I did last year.

Vintage wall birds. Repainted white.

A picture I took a couple of years ago and recently framed w/ this vintage frame)

Annie Sloan Old White
....Totally amazed by His grace,

~ Jen

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Animal Shenanigans

Still completely clueless that he just slapped Kye silly.
...And probably wondering "Hey...where'd that cat go?"

Saturday, February 4, 2012

This Side of the Storm

Sometimes trials can sweep into a life like a fire storm.

Sometimes it's both an unexpected arrival and, in the end, an unexpected outcome.

We had one of those storms this past summer and I was left asking myself "Am I going to make it through this with a sound mind and a marriage in tact? Can I stand the heat? Will I melt like butter or will I allow it to strengthen me?" Because, If you think about it, that same fire that melts butter will also strengthen and harden steel.

So was I butter or steel? As the fire swept through, I wasn't so sure, but thankfully God walked with me though it every step. I thought, at times He wasn't paying attention. Like He left His post or something??? I knew better, but I felt like I was alone. Oh, how our feelings will lie to us. Now, looking back, I can see He never left my side. He had a better plan for my future than I had for myself, but it was a more difficult path than I would have chosen... It was exactly what I needed.

What exactly happened? Well, making a long story short; just weeks after my last post in June my husband lost his job of 13 years. We also lost our home of  7 years to foreclosure. We were suddenly without a home and without our main source of income... Never in a million years would I have ever guessed we would end up in that situation. Anyway, what we did have was 3 kids, a cat and a dog to care and provide for. We packed up our things, put them into two storage units and moved our 3 kids and 2 pets to our dear friend's home for the following 4+ months. They had "mother-in-law-quarters" in their basement (sort of like a studio apartment) that we crammed into until we moved to our current home.
I tell people it was the most horrible-wonderful time I've ever experienced. Very humbling and very eye-opening. God blessed us SO greatly through our friends that shared their home as well as through our church, that shared their hearts and resources. What a strange thing to suddenly be the ones in need.
I've had a few people tell me it seems so unfair how everything went down. I felt that way at first but, then I thought "Really? Who am I, that I shouldn't experience difficulties?" ...And in the end I've seen God's hand in more amazing ways than many are fortunate enough to see. I do miss my house, my garden and park-like backyard. I miss the larger paychecks, too. But I wouldn't trade them for all that God has given us through this season in our life. God has a beautiful way of restoring to us what we lose in those trials, as well. Maybe in a different form, but restoration, all the same. We have been blessed with a beautiful home now. It's actually nicer and newer than our other home. My husband has a job that doesn't pay the same, but it's much better on his back and for his health... This was an answer to prayer!
Anyway, all of these months since life took such a drastic turn, there have been so many times I've snapped a picture or had a story to share, but decided against it. I struggled with the decision to share, or not to share the trials I was enduring.  I didn't know... so I did nothing.The first couple of months ALL creativity had drained out of me. ALL desire to blog was gone. Life seemed to have so much of it's color. But as the creativity and color slowly returned, I realized life and time still marched on around me... It just looked a little different. I saw how God was returning what had been lost in beautiful ways.
I wanted to reconnect. I missed my blogging connections. But embarassment and pride kept me from sharing. I journaled instead, but it's not the same as sharing life with others. So it's taken me months to get here to this place where I open up and share the personal trials we've faced, but I don't think it's a story for me to keep to myself. I hope it encourages at least one little somebody.

Life can be a struggle. But it can be such a beautiful struggle when you look back and see the full tapestry God is making of your life... not just the part that was rough to get through. That's where I am... looking back at all of it now. And it's an amazing view! (You may also want to read the post I wrote almost a year ago now about God's restoring power: My Art Lesson. He's a patient teacher.)

I'm stronger. He didn't let me melt. I'm back and look forward to posting and sharing again. I have many things I'm working on that I look forward to sharing. Maybe even filling in some of the gaps over the past few months. All of the pictures I've included in the post are from those precious months in the "wilderness" at our sweet friend's home. G'night, my friends!

Hugs  ~Jen

Romans 5:3-5 “Let us exult while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance; endurance, in turn, an approved condition; the approved condition, in turn, hope, and the hope does not lead to disappointment.”

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Days 168 & 169

I'm jumping back into things now that I'm feeling a little more like myself again and picking back up at days 168 and 169. That would be Saturday and today :)
 Yesterday we helped some friends move. They live about an hour and a half away in the town my husband and I pretty much grew up in. On the way home my husband, being the car fanatic that he is, spotted some old cars he wanted to get a closer look at. He said they must have been sitting there are really long time. The sign was too faded to read the phone number and the dust inside was an inch thick...but it looked pretty cool on the outside. :)
 This is my pic for today. 
This little weed and I have actually become friends. I don't know about where you live but here in Michigan, purslane tries to take over my garden every year! You can't get rid of it! But I found out year before last that it's actually a drought-resistant, highly-nutritious little plant that is great in salads and many other dishes. It contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable out there! Here's a link to some more info on it, if you happen to find it in your yard, sidewalk cracks or garden. It's also known the be a good living mulch that will keep other weeds at bay. 
Hope you're having a great Father's Day weekend!
XX's ~Jen