Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You Are Not Alone

As 2009 winds down I find myself reflecting over the events of the past year. It has been a year of trials to be sure, but trials with a purpose that have brought about significant changes and set me on a path that will lead me even closer to being the person I know I was created to be. As difficult as the year has been I believe it has been one of the most significant in my life to date and I count the blessings that have come from it as I look back.

Tops on my list is the many friends that I have made and grown closer to. Friends that I see in my daily life and really dear friends that I have met online, some I have met face to face and others I only hope to some day. I have both been encouraged by and had the opportunity to encourage and many days of just hanging out, drinking coffee, virtual or real, and sharing life.

One friend and very talented artist, Sue Simpson, I have known online for some time has been mourning the loss of her mom these past few months. Especially difficult through the holidays, but in spite of her grief she has taken the time to write me words of encouragement that I will forever cherish and I've asked her permission to share this story with you.

"I took a walk on the beach once when I was feeling confused and alone. We live within walking distance to a beach I grew up playing on. It is rock instead of sand. Sand is when the tide is out. As I entered the beach area talking to God about my dilemma, I looked down to find a white rock, all by itself among the gray and black ones. I thought to myself, this is how I am feeling, alone. I looked a few inches further and there was another white rock. This one was a little bit bigger than the first, Jesus said, see here I am, always with you. Then another white rock, this one bigger than the rest. This is your family, our community, those who love you and whom I love. You my friend are never alone. Times will feel lonely, but you are not alone. Times may feel confusing, did I do the right thing? I will be beside you to guide you. Times will feel joyful, I will share in that joy and times may feel like a very doubtful future but I am here with you and will guide you along the way.

I kept those rocks for a long time. I am sure they are here in my studio, somewhere. Although that first rock looked like the only, lonely white was within company of others. And most importantly not alone but with Jesus near by."

Sue has had a year of trials herself and these words were not lightly written. She has weathered many losses this year and I admire her for being able to reach out and share these words with me in the midst of her own pain. Be sure to take a peek at her blog and leave her a note and check out her etsy shop, Earthtone Studios, to see her beautiful work.

Inspired by Sue, I've titled this piece "You Are Not Alone". It is the first in a series of encaustic collage works done on salvaged antique board and wood scraps. I'm not quite sure how I want to mount it for display so I will be hanging on to it for a while but be sure to stop by OPF Studio at Etsy for more encaustic works.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Voyage of Discovery

The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes,
but in having new eyes....Marcel Proust.

On Day 21 of my 31 Days of Art Challenge to myself I've managed to list exactly two-thirds of what I had challenged myself to do, but through the lenses of new eyes today I see this not as a failure but part of many successes I can look back at for the year 2009.

My world, when looked at through these new eyes, becomes a cornucopia of discoveries that have been made about myself this year. Of who I am, where I've come from, and more importantly, where I am going and who I was meant to be.

I'll sit down in a few days and make a list of all these discoveries and I will celebrate the New Year, not with regrets for where I have been or the things I have failed to do, but with gratitude for the voyage that I am on. I will look at the accomplishments and give myself credit for the strength that it took to begin and stay on this journey and I will begin to look at the steps I will take in the future.

I will remember not to get overwhelmed with the big picture, but take each step and appreciate it as it comes.

The wax & wire brooch above, "Voyage of Discovery", was my Secret Santa gift to Jeanette Blix Ryan of Jeannette Blix Metal and Wire Jewelry. The Secret Santa exchange was hosted by Molly Alexander of Beautifully Broken Me. Molly is revealing each of the Secret Santas on her blog so be sure to stop by and see all the wonderful pieces that were made.

My Secret Santa was Jan Thomason of The Polka Dot Barn. Jan is a very talented paper artist, selling her work at two sites online. She was challenged to create outside of her normal media with this swap and she rose to the occasion brilliantly!

First of all I received the package in the mail and right away could tell that there was more then just a piece of jewelry inside. It was all I could do not to rip into all of these pretty little packages as soon as I opened the box, but I managed to contain myself while I looked for my camera and all the while my excitement grew.

I was spoiled with all kinds of great items that I will be able to use in my own work and ideas have been bouncing around my head for many of these items already. But as good as all that was, the real treasure was in the package with the pretty red bow in the center of the box.

Jan was able to translate her artistic style from paper to jewelry with ease, creating this mixed media necklace from many vintage items, including this center pendant she created from copper that has been etched with a hand design and combined with several pieces of vintage jewelry forming a mini wearable art sculpture. I love the center with the rhinestones lined up under a silver rectangle with what looks like shell or glass flakes under resin.

She has also combined many other pieces, each with some personal touch, the stamped scrabble tile dangle, the hand rolled polymer bead with the copper coil dangling off of it. There is even a couple of tiny images on paper dangling with a key. My pictures do not do her work justice, but you can see how much of herself she has put into the necklace and I am very grateful to be the lucky one to receive Jan's work ~ Thanks Jan!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Whistle While You Work

♪♫ Whistle While You Work♫♪

Worked the part-time frame job 2 days in a row and it has been busy as can be with Christmas fast approaching and last minute purchases being made. So many people this time of year lose site of what it is all about. And I know I am no exception. When money is tight, stores are crowded, you can't find what you need...well you know.

I decided today in the midst of all the running around the store and taking care of customers that the best course of action was to whistle. If only I knew how!

And here is the last of the Christmas Swap posts, but by far not the least!
♫♪ On the last Day of Christmas Lorraine George gave to me♪♫
This beautiful snowflake fabric ornament to hang on my tree! Simply cool and wintery in color and composition, Lorraines ornament is so soft to the touch I had to look at it a few times thinking she might have sent an authentic vintage ornament along. The fabrics she chose to use are wonderful and she has layered them one on top of another for a much appreciated homespun tactile touch to my tree! I love the blues and greens of the ribbon dangles that make me think of the snowflake in motion. Well done Lorraine! I love every inch of it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 12 - Over The River and Through The Woods

Life has a way of getting away from us doesn't it? I seem to be in a season where I am just continuously amazed at how fast time slips by. It really started to hit me when my youngest daughter graduated from high school. This year she turned 20.

This month I went back home to see my grandmother who just went to live in a nursing home. I was forewarned that she would most likely not know me. She was so cute when I bent down to hug her and she took my head between her hands smiling with delight. I thought for a moment she was going to say my name but when I asked if she knew me she just shook her head and said "no" still smiling wide.

Somehow that wasn't as hard as walking through her house this weekend after most of the furniture and belongings had already been moved. So many memories, especially this time of year, as all of our Christmas Eves as a child were spent gathering with the cousins at Gramma and Papa's house. Our little box of toys was still sitting in the bottom of the hall closet and I couldn't bear to pull it out and look inside out of fear of not being able to regain my composure.

Funny, I haven't been there in years, letting the length of the trip and the obligations of life get in the way of the important stuff, but walking in the door I felt like it was only a few days that had passed. In the cold winter chill the yard looked barren, but in my mind I could still see the flowers Gramma planted there every year and our lawn chairs all lined up waiting to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

How poignant, this reminder is, to really pay attention to the important stuff during this Christmas season. Its not about the gifts or the decorations or the food. Its about the relationships. Take the time to really notice and connect with the ones you have been blessed with and maybe even reach out to someone who hasn't been as blessed as you. What we share of our hearts lasts much longer then anything we could put under the tree.

And speaking of being blessed.....

♫ ♪ On The 12th Day of Christmas Lou McCulloch gave to me♫ ♪

This little altered baking tin is no longer used for baking sweets but still being used to dish it up! I love the pretty red & green patina Lou has given it. Not sure if she used copper patina or paint or inks? Whatever her technique she has managed to make it look genuine, which is honestly something I am drawn to. That look of one layer of paint peeking out behind another. Layers of color, a collage of patina, rust and paint! And the little tintype that I think must be a replica is just as convincing in looking like the real thing. I am so excited to have this ornament to hang on my tree and around my studio in the years to come. Sweet indeed Lou!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Day Is It and Who's Counting Anyway?

So I was a day behind in my posts and now 4 days behind. I've just come off of 3 more "body in motion" days. Taking care of all the important stuff, working the new part time job, doctors visits, morning coffee with very dear friends, and yes that was one of the most important.

Some days it is tempting, when the schedule begins to get tight and things like announcing a 31 day blog challenge get behind on only the 10th day into it, to cancel the things that aren't absolutely necessary. But coffee with friends, especially in the midst of the difficult seasons of life, can be the most necessary and vital appointment on the schedule.

Its nice to sit down and share your secrets, hopes, dreams, disappointments with a few very close women who will laugh, cry, encourage and pray with me. A place to regain perspective and set back out with a renewed ability to handle life and remember what the true purpose in it all is anyway.

And speaking of a few good friends ~

♫ ♪ on the 11th Day of Christmas Deryn Mentock gave to me ♫ ♪

Deryn is the ring leader of our annual Christmas swap. I'm really not sure how long I have known her or exactly where we first met online, but I am privileged to know her and have met her in person recently in person. Deryn is a true giver and puts her entire heart into her work. Take a look at the brilliant way that Deryn wrapped her gift. Using a luxurious purpley blue jeweled length of ribbon stitched around to form a little bag and then, just for the sake of torturing those of us that Deryn knew would not behave ourselves and wait until Day 11 to open the gift, she stitched the gift inside!

Ah, clever girl that she is. I really had no intention of peeking. I'm a big girl and I happen to love the anticipation of waiting and wondering what is inside such a pretty package. But the fact that this was the first present to arrive in the mail, and close to two weeks ahead of all of the rest at that, and the fact that it contained something that I knew was hand crafted by the very talented Deryn Mentock was a very powerful allurement!

Well I did manage to wait, but ONLY because of the stitching that held it all in place, and it was well worth it. Deryn has once again outdone herself creating this very tiny reliquary containing a nativity scene made from genuine vintage and antique elements, including antique bible text, postcard, scripture and many vintage elements that invite the viewer to look deeper and more carefully with each tiny detail. Oh my pictures do not do this little shrine justice. You really do need to read Deryns post and visit her etsy shop to fully appreciate how talented she is, but I warn you, you will wind up wanting one of everything for yourself!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 10 - Hark Herald the Bunny Sings

The 10th Day of my 31 days of art postings and 12 Days of Christmas Exchange is all about the announcement of exciting things to come.

Remembering a Dream

Many months ago I was contacted by Lesley Riley asking if I would be interested in doing an interview with her for the Artist to Artist article she does in each issue of Cloth Paper Scissors and I have been eager to announce the news ever since!

This is truly a dream for me. Part of a bigger dream to become an artist "When I grow up", but as with many childhood dreams, it was put away and forgot about over the years. Covered over with layer upon layer of being who I needed to be to take care of the life that I had.

Over the years art remained a lifeline for me. Something I would turn to when everything else in life seemed to be so uncertain, so frightening or overwhelming and chaotic. Whatever the project was I had in my hand, it became an island of calm. And when I worked at whatever it was I was creating, sewing, beading, or crafting, the dream would stir and I would find myself thinking of ways I could turn what I was doing into a business. Just little sparks of thought.

To be able to do art full time. To be an artist. Wistful. Wishful Thinking.

Well the dream has begun to take shape as a reality these past few years as I have begun the journey of uncovering my true self and looking into the past to discover my future. Hard work to turn around and face some of it, but without this work I would not have remembered this childhood dream of mine. I would not have been able to peel away the layers, the self-protective mask and realize who I was meant to be.

I get to talk about some of this in the interview with Lesley, which focuses largely on my passion for encaustic collage and on the objects that I love to collect and sell. I am so excited to announce the issue is now available for pre-order and will be hitting store shelves on January 5th. Check it out at CPS and see for yourself, my name next to the very talented Lesley Riley's ~ Wow! What a dream!!

and speaking of growing up to be a real artist....

♪ ♫ on the 10th day of Christmas Kelly Snelling gave to me ♫ ♪

A festive package to put under my tree! Now Kelly's package was one of those that invited shaking as soon as it arrived in the mail, I should have taken a picture of the outside of the carton. You'll have to be sure to read Kelly's post about it and see the artsy way she adorned the box and the message to be careful not to squish she wrote on each one for the postman.

As I pulled the shiny blue gift out of the box I could hear a jingling inside and I shook it. Rewarded by more jingling I shook it more and before I knew it I was shaking my way around the kitchen jingling and dancing and singing. I had to make myself put it down not knowing if it was breakable, but I was having so much fun!

Knowing the quality of work that Kelly produces and the fact that she warned the group that her ornament was kind of "quirky" made waiting for the 10th day of the exchange a challenge, but wait I did, and when I finally got to open it I laughed out loud!

Laughed and laughed! I was delighted with laughter!

Kelly this is another one that I will cherish as a "favorite among favorites" of all the years of swapping I've been involved in!

Just look at that worried expression on his white enameled face! Is he worried from his flight? or from all that shaking upon his arrival? or the many days of waiting to come out of that pakage? Bunny Rabbit, what are you so worried about? Kelly has invited each of the artists in the swap to come up with a story of their own for why she sent us rabbits for a Christmas swap.

First my thoughts turned to the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, running past Alice with his large pocket watch in hand worriedly announcing "I'm late, I'm late", and of course I could relate to that because I always seem to be running late. Even this blog post is going up a day late! Maybe Kelly was letting us know, through her ornament that she was worried about being late?

But after giving it some more thought this morning I knew there was something else about this rabbit. Something he was trying to say. It is kind of unusual, you know, to hang a white rabbit on a Christmas tree. Especially one who looks like he would be much more at home as part of a Spring time Easter display. And that is when it hit me!

He is an Easter bunny
and he did have something important to say!

I thought of the traditional Easter Bunny widely viewed as a symbol to announce the arrival of Spring. And then the Christian tradition of incorporating this symbol and the eggs that he would bring as a way of sharing the story of Christ who would die on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice and rise again from the tomb. Conquering the grave and paying the penalty for the sins of all who would come to him. I thought then of John the baptist, a forerunner of Jesus, who came to announce and point to the coming of The Messiah.

And just as I was about to name him "John" in recognition of his forerunner spirit, coming to me at Christmas to announce the impending birth of Christ, I heard in my head the song "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and I thought of that star on his bell and then thought of those Angels who came to the shepherds in the field announcing Christs birth along with the star that shone above Bethlehem and it all became clear.

His name is Herald:
  • announce: foreshadow or presage
  • acclaim: praise vociferously; "The critics hailed the young pianist as a new Rubinstein"
  • (formal) a person who announces important news; "the chieftain had a herald who announced his arrival with a trumpet"
  • hail: greet enthusiastically or joyfully
  • harbinger: something that precedes and indicates the approach of something or someone
And that worried look really was about being late. After all, when he arrived I did spin him around and around my kitchen until he was so dizzy he couldn't see straight, let alone remember what day it was!

Don't worry Herald, you aren't late. You are right on time.

♫ ♪ Hark Harold the Bunny sings ♪ ♫ Glory to the newborn King ♫ ♪

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Day 9 Just Being Playful

Art for Day 9, just a little ACEO Art Card. I love the look of the white on white. Pulling together seemingly random papers and items in a monochromatic scheme is very soothing. Many times when I pull together a random collection in this way I get something inside, a stirring of sorts and I hear a word, a verse, a scripture, and I'll know the storyteller within has something to say.

For whatever reason, I haven't delved too deep, when I see this card all I can think of is "The Zipper Man" from a dialogue between Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly in the movie "You've Got Mail" as Kathleen is preparing to meet her mystery man-

JOE: He could be the zipper Man.
KATHLEEN: Who's that?
JOE: This guy on Amsterdam who repairs zippers. You'll never have to buy new luggage.

Sometimes the storyteller just wants to be playful. And here is something else that is playful.

♫ ♪ on the 9th Day of Christmas JoAnna gave to me ♫ ♪

One of my favorite things about this exchange has been the creativity put into the wrapping of each of the ornaments. Many of the artists seem to have put almost as much into the wrapping as they have into the ornament itself.

The first thing I noticed as I began to unwrap JoAnna's ornament was how she managed to engage nearly all of my senses with her wrapping. The visual appeal as you can see, with the clear cellophane as a teaser showing off the the pretty red & white ticking fabric used to hide the gift all surrounded by little shreds of old text and just the hint of the ornament peeking from the top. As I picked it up the silver bell was jingling and when I opened it I caught the slightest whiff of something fragrant. I thought at first I was mistaken, but then noticed a bit of potpourri was also inside the package. It smells so good!

I am absolutely delighted with JoAnnas choice for her ornament this year. She has developed a style that is all her own, a sort of grungy primitive style and often with this muslin vintagy fabric incorporated somehow. But this ornament really shows off her talent for all things distinctly feminine. It is so pretty and I know that I will not want to put this away with my regular ornaments at the end of the Christmas season! Be sure to head over to JoAnnas blog to be wowed with the talent she has for making art dolls, fairies, bottles, and so much more!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Day 8 Elementary Science

Perhaps this is just what I need today, a text-book in Elementary Science. It may help to explain why I have spent the better part of the day trying to get one simple solder to take with no success.

Granted, the materials I am trying to join are an unlikely duo. Silver and steel. They appear to go together just about as well as music and bugs, or religion and science, or salty and sweet. Really none of these things have to contradict, but can actually compliment the other, be it simply to create a curious appeal, to point to the truth the other holds, or support and enhance the flavor of the other.

I do love this contradiction created by steel and silver together. The dark matte black of the steel against the highly polished silver, but today it is just creating frustration in me so I will put it aside for another day.

Now here is something that I can say went very well for me today. I finally got to open this present!

♫♪ on the 8th day of Christmas Sally Turlington gave to me ♪♫

This beautiful ornament of the Holy family! Now talk about a contradiction. God coming to earth in the form of man. Not just as a man, but being born as an infant in the most humble of circumstances. Demonstrating his desire to serve, not just the King and Creator ruling with iron fisted will, but offering himself to each man and woman as a perfect sinless Savior. Because of Him I do not have to stride for salvation, always weighing whether my goods outnumber my bads.

I am so honored to be able to hang this ornament on my tree. It will remind me, not only of what the Christmas season is all about, but also of the wonderfully talented artist who put so much love into creating this gift for the exchange. Sally personalized each one of the 13 ornaments she created to suit the recipient, adorning with vintage jewelry and baubles. Mine has this beautiful vintage cross dangle that makes it both a reminder of Christs birth and His ultimate sacrifice.

I highly recommend you pay Sally's blog a visit. She has selflessly shared a step-by-step tutorial on creating these Christmas treasures, starting with the hand-formed paper clay arched frames and finishing with her special handmade brayed paper, which I have been dancing happy dances about since the day it arrived in the mail. I carefully removed each little gold staple used to bind it together so that I can use this special paper in my work! Two presies from the very talented Sally Turlington!

And don't forget to stop by OPF Studio where Day 6's art is now listed.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Day 7 Art & Ornament - One and the Same

Is this cheating? Day 7 of the 12 Days of Christmas swap was the day everyone opened my present so I think I can get away with saying this is both my new art and my ornament swap photo today! And speaking of cheating, I confess that I never managed to wrap one of my own ornaments for me and didn't get a picture of the wrapped packages before I mailed them, so I have stolen this picture from Sally's blog. But how could I resist? She makes it look so sparkly pretty with the lights reflecting on it like that!

When I thought of all the very talented artists in this group and how many years I have been online friends with so many of them I knew right away I wanted to send them each my whole heart. What better way to express what words just won't say?

I've been working with encaustics for the better part of the year now and have had a love for jewelry making and metalsmithing for quite sometime. Somewhere along the way I managed to bring these two passions together in what I have branded my "Wax & Wire Wearable Art" line and I knew when I was given the opportunity to participate in the exchange again this year that I would creat my ornaments from wax & wire too.

So I designed and then redesigned and tweeked and thought it out and finally settled on a design that I was excited about. But once I started working I realized I might have been a little too ambitious and had to take it to the drawing board once again. The ornament that I wanted to make had a total of 24 soldering points, the one that I wound up making has 4!

If you are intrigued by the process check out the latest addtion of Belle Armoire Jewelry, page 92, for my Wax & Wire tutorial or come and see me in person at Art & Soul in February in Vegas where I will be vending my art & objects.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Day 6 - Dream in Color

Day 6 and Dreaming of many things. Big dreams. Dreams beyond what I feel capable of at the moment.

An endless hope filled magical colorful dream. One that begins with a step and ends with a life well lived.

And speaking of colorful ~

♫♪ on the 6th day of Christmas Maija gave to me ♪ ♫

This adorable doll ornament just spilling over with her colorful ribbon tassel skirt! This is another one of those pictures that I feel just does not do this piece justice. It is so much prettier then I can get through on camera. The ribbon tassel at the bottom is full and soft and the colors remind me of a gypsies skirt. Her paper hat is adorned with a silvery trim, she is wearing a ruffle around her neck of soft maroon velour and she sports a red flower in the center of her body. Detail after detail of these jewel toned colors and sweet touches make this another favorite this year! I think I may be hanging her in the studio after Christmas too. As a matter of fact, I'm starting to think of ways to display all my ornaments from this swap and the previous ones. They are just too precious to be hiding away most of the year!
Be sure to head over to Maija's blog to spend some time reading. She is one lucky girl when it comes to art adventuring and she is generous in her sharing with photos and stories to wet your appetite!

Day 5 - Body In Motion

When I decided to write a blog post each day this month to show you 31 new pieces of art and the 12 Days of Christmas exchange that I'm participating in, I didn't take into consideration that there would be days when I literally just wasn't home long enough to post. Yesterday was one of those days.

I was a body in motion. Work was sandwiched between activities and blogging was not impossible, but doing it early in the am on either end of the day wasn't that appealing. We all have days like that. Not a lot of thinking involved, just taking care of a very full plate.

So here I am on the 6th posting about the 5th and tonight I'll try to catch up with my 6th day post. The ACEO card for Day 5, Body In Motion, has been listed at OPF Studio on Etsy.

♫♪ on the 5th Day of Christmas Ruth Rae gave to me ♫ ♪

Oh lucky me that Ruth still had time to spend on this swap with us! She has been one busy gal this year with traveling to promote A Charming Exchange and putting the finishing touches on, and now promoting her new book, Layered Tattered & Stitched.

And layered, tattered, and stitched is the perfect way to describe this beautiful ornament that Ruth created for the exchange. The layers and layers of warm and cozy fabric with tattered and frayed edges all stitched up to create the little house just invite the feeling of home and family and calm appreciation for the treasure we carry in our hearts through Christ. Just what the season is all about.

Ruth pays such attention to every detail from the way the package is lovingly wrapped in layer after layer down to the way she signs the piece on the back. She is an inspiration! I highly recommend spending some time on her blog and putting both her books on your Christmas wish list!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Day 4 - Tenacity

Day 4 is about Tenacity - and will have to write about it later.

But here's what is really important ~ ♪ ♫ on the 4th day of Christmas Melissa gave to me ♪ ♫

The most beautifully wrapped gift I've ever seen under the tree! This treasure of a bag has had me intrigued since it arrived in my mailbox with such a beautiful package I knew there would be something really special inside.

I was not disappointed when I opened it this morning to find this beautiful plaster heart handcrafted by Melissa David to resemble a Sacred Heart shrine to hang from the tree. With the dangle of objects it makes me think of a window into my soul. A sacred place where love takes root and gets its wings. What a beautiful gift and treasure to hang from my tree!
Melissa doesn't have a blog to direct you to so I will send you back to Deryn's blog for the best photography and to continue to read her study of the 12 apostles of Jesus.

Day 3
's art has now been listed in my Etsy shop ~

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Day 3 - Never Give Up Hope

On Day 3 of my 12 Days of Christmas and 31 Days of Art series I find myself feeling a little down. Okay, more then a little down, one of those days that you wake up and everything seems to go wrong before you even step foot out of bed.
Ever have one of those days? The kind that you say things like "must have got up on the wrong side of bed" and "I knew this was going to be a bad day before it even started"? I recognize the negative mindset that goes along with this kind of thinking and try to correct it when I catch myself. It isn't a bad day just because I have to deal with something challenging as soon as I get up. There is no wrong side of the bed (unless you have a lumpy mattress) its just about ordinary life. Good, bad, and everything in between. Life.

Today, though it seemed to set off a pattern of self-doubt about the course I am on. One where I spiraled, try as I might, into self-defeating patterns and crazy hopeless thoughts like "I'm all the way back to square one." "all my hard work has been for nothing."

Thankfully I had an appointment with a very dear and wise counselor who helped me to get some much needed perspective. All my hard work over this past year or so has not been "for nothing". I've seen many positive changes in myself and my life. Some visible to others, some known only to a few close friends, and some are just between me and God. I've changed the way I react to difficult situations and people. Not perfect, but very good progress. I've set goals and achieved them. I've taken risks and addressed my fears head on. Well sometimes I've addressed my fears while cowering in a corner, but believe me, I've addressed them!

But now, it is time to start peeling away the next layer. I can hang onto the good of what I have learned already and begin to work on another area. It will be a challenge and many of the feelings will be similar to where I was when I first started this journey. But now I can hang onto the progress I've made and find hope in it.

Kind of like my faith walk with God.

At 33 I had more doubts then faith, but in the midst of it I came to Him. Took a leap of faith in spite of my doubts, fears, anger, and tendency toward self reliance. From that day 11 years ago until now God has been faithfully answering my questions and bringing me into a deeper relationship with him. One step. One day. One question at a time. I can look back to where I was with Him then and in spite of still having bad days my faith is night and day different. When I struggle with my faith I can look back at those questions, those answers he brought and see and know and trust even more deeply and continue to walk.

As I sat down today to write about my Art for Day 3 I could hear a song by a band called The Sidewalk Prophets playing in my head. Something I felt God was wanting me to listen to. It is something for you too:

If we were face to face,
I'd tell you just what you mean to me,
I'd tell you these simple truths,

Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here,
Take your time and pray,
These are the words I would say,

And of course there is another song that continues to play:
♪ ♫ on the 3rd day of Christmas Jackie gave to me ♫ ♪

A beautiful doll ornament to hang from my tree! It is a dreary day outside today and my lighting was not good. I was hoping to get a good shot of this ornament while it was dangling because it is so pretty. It has a glass crystal dangle on an antique chain with tiny little stars hanging from the bottom and right away I knew she was not going to be just another tree ornament. I've been needing to find a pull for the light above my work table in my studio and she is just perfect for that purpose! But the silly girl would just not hold still and let me get a good picture. I don't think Jackie has a blog to send you too (Jackie let me know if I'm wrong), but you can head over to Deryn's blog for better pictures and read each day her story of the 12 Disciples of Jesus.

My Day Two art has now been posted at OPF Studio on Etsy where everything is still 50% off through tomorrow!