How I Maintain My Art Journaling Practice {A Free Sample Gift-Video}

In celebration and anticipation of the upcoming class {where I am a featured artist} "Reflections : Painting Your Story", I wanted to share a FREE video with you, right here on the blog...I want you to have a small idea of my teaching style - which, I am sure, will be different from the other art teachers
in the course.

There will be such a sweet and rich diversity of gifts and teachers and techniques taught - worthy, in my mind, of celebrating.

On another note, we had a sweet, sweet Christmas here at Celidgh Cottage (it isn't only the big lofty estates that have names...we named our little house years ago.  "Celidgh" is Gaelic/Scottish for a gathering that includes great food, live music, and story telling...something that goes on here with great regularity, even with our so-called "empty nest".)

This Christmas, our youngest son, a Marine, was able to come home.  Every single grown child was with us...their spouses...their children...all four g-babies were under one roof, breaking bread (literally) at the same table for the first time.  I wasn't a bit mad about that.

There wasn't a moment of any tense or unpleasant anything...there was a heck of a lot of laughter and love.  I was living a dream I had not earned and did not deserve.  Grace did in our family what the law could  I'm always sorry for Christians who think grace can be much they miss.

I trust your Christmas was blessed.  And guess what?  It isn't over.  According to the church calendar, we celebrate until Epiphany.  I'm so down with that.

 Included here, in this free video sample (heck...I don't even ask for your email address in exchange - which makes me a trusted friend but a VERY bad marketer) are some thoughts I've been pondering this Christmas season, and I hope they are game changers for you, as much as they were for me.

The things I share with you in this art journaling video?  They rocked my world this holiday.  In all the best ways.  Enjoy.

{and head over to the link included at the top of this post to sign up for the class!}

Another {free} Online Class

In January of this year, I was asked to be a featured presenter in Jeanne Oliver Design's free online class "Becoming - The Unfolding of You". (which you can actually still join  - your membership to any of Jeanne's classes, paid or free, is lifetime membership, for as long as Jeanne Oliver Designs owns that creative community.)

 Y'all, we ended up with over six thousand in that class.  It was an incredible time, a blessing for everyone...and I am still getting emails about my part of that class.  True story.  I have cried more over some of your emails than I have over anything else in a long while.  Y'all blessed me and rocked my socks off with your feedback.

So I am over-the-moon to tell you that I'll be presenting once again, in another (FREE) class for 2016, entitled "Listening - Finding the Quiet".   And we are already sitting at well over a thousand participants, and class hasn't even started!  (This class launches January 1st, 2016)

For me, as a presenter, the best part of last year's "Becoming" class was getting to know a couple of last year's presenters (like my friend Honey Holden) and also getting to know so many of you.  I developed relationships with some of you that we are still enjoying and nurturing, to varying degrees, even now.

Yes.  I am delighted to get to pour out yet again, for this next free class.  Honestly, I prepared for hours for what some artists (no one I know) might consider a small's true - since the class is free, some artists would just toss something together, and present it only for the exposure it gives them.  I truly believe my friend Jeanne Oliver searches for artists who will contribute substantially, no matter what, as a matter of principle, and she finds them.

Or they find her.  

This class will be a life changer.  Don't let the price of admission (free) fool you.  Yes, some artists, in other venues, might not take presenting in a free class seriously.  They might throw something together.

Not me, man.  I have a tender, overly-productive conscience....especially when it comes to presenting Scripture and sharing spiritual things.  I prepare.  And I prepared for my part of this class as I would any other speaking engagement I do.  I also believe every other presenter in this upcoming class has the same ministry/work ethic.

Here is the trailer for "Listening - Finding the Quiet"

And here are your detailed (easy, free) sign up instructions:

Instructions to join class:

To join this free study you just need to be registered at (registering is free).
Once you are on the site you will find this study, free videos (business and art), my Creativity Takes Courage series and new online courses along the left hand side of the page.
You will find all of our courses/videos under the COURSES heading.
To register for Listening | Finding the Quiet
1) Go to COURSES along the left hand side of the page
2) Go to the bottom of the course and click “view all” to find Listening | Finding the Quiet
4) Click on Listening | Finding the Quiet
3) Click the +join button on the upper right hand side
4) All of the details are on the page and you are all set for the study to begin on January 1, 2016

Make sure you take just a couple of minutes, and sign up today!  Can't wait to see you there!

The Choice to Cheer Up

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
 (Romans 12:6-8)

Yes, the gifts differ. Some of us teach, some of us administrate (lead, by taking care of details), some of us finance the work, some of us speak a "now" word from the Lord.

But the cheerfulness part isn't a gift - the cheerfulness part is a choice.

Here's what I've learned for sure: if you are the sort of person who can lift the atmosphere in a room, who can cheer others up and put a smile on their face, everyone who is of a negative bent unconsciously believes you are operating in some special magic they do not possess.

They believe this special "magic" you operate in must be inexhaustible...because they think it is your "gift".  No one ever stops to think that you could actually be used (and used up) by their perpetual need for your sense of humor and sunny outlook.  After all, gifts come pretty naturally.

That is like saying honesty is a gift. No. Honesty is a choice. It is a quality of character.

Our cheerful ones are at risk, friends. Not only do others believe the cheerful woman's good humor is her "gift", others also secretly sniff condescendingly at her joy.  It is a strange, convoluted tension between two extremes - negative people will privately scoff at the cheerful ones, while at the same time feeling jealous of them, while at the same time using them like a drug.

Now. In a departure from the usual, I am going to get down and dirty.

When you get all the way down to the heart of the issue, there is an unwillingness on the part of the woman who wallows in her "stuff" - an unwillingness to make the same hard choices the joyous ones have made. By default, this is a choice no different than choosing to tell a lie, or choosing to overeat, or choosing to gossip.  The woman swallowed up by her circumstances chooses not to be cheerful. The negative woman chooses to resort to her quiet drama as a means to get her needs met...and wonders why she must fake her joy, why she can't shake her despondency, or can't get out of bed.

So what does she do? She calls a Joyous One (or texts her). Every time. In fact, the Joyous One might even be on speed dial. Or live nearby. The Joyous One is asked to come over, to give her a hug, to pray for her, even to help her do life...the Joyous One is expected to listen to the latest rendition of her problems (as though the Joyous One has none of her own) and never a thought is given to the fact that a few months or years of this will put the joyous ones at risk.

Do not ask me how I know, because I just might tell you.

I read a prayer of St. Augustine the other day, and one line grabbed me in a headlock, demanding my thoughtful consideration:

"Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ,
Rest your weary ones,
Bless your dying ones,
Soothe your suffering ones,
Pity your afflicted ones,
Shield your joyous ones,
And all for your love's sake. Amen."

I get the prayers for the sick, weary, dying, suffering and afflicted...but the joyous?

You had better believe it. They need divine protection. They can have the very life drained out of them, and then the perpetually needy will leave them in search of fresh cheery-blood.

The way I see it, this problem is solved if we each one take responsibility for our own happiness, seek the Lord diligently, and seek to increase the joy of others instead of ourselves, at all times, in all ways, at all costs. The problem is solved if we each one access the Great Grace of God. (But first you have to have a revelation of it...and that is a different post altogether.) These things are part-and-parcel of life in the body of Christ, and is part of the idea behind the words of Paul in Galatians 6, "For each one shall bear his own load."

Rejoice evermore, church.

Rejoice evermore. REJOICE evermore. Rejoice EVERMORE.

And in the meantime, we say "Yes, Lord...shield your joyous ones..."

Paint n' Dance {subtitle: The Difference Between Boys and Girls}

When my son-in-law (who lives with my daughter and their two girls across the street - and who lives next door to my other daughter and her husband and son, who live one door down from us...make sense?)

When my son-in-law sent me this video this morning, I knew I had to share.

Apparently my grandson Timothy is visiting his girl-cousins  next door at Uncle Jon's house, and he and Aidyn are in Uncle Jon's studio doing a paint-n-dance sesh.

(I live right next door and across from my identical twin daughters and their families, and I don't know half of what goes on...I am up in their business far less than people imagine...)

Watch the whole video.

(warning:  your cute-o-meter is going to peg in the red zone.  Use appropriate caution.  Yes, this is my life.  Yes, it is unbearably sweet.  Yes, it is ridiculously cute on a pretty much daily basis.  And yes, I am getting past the point of apologizing for that.  It's all sheer gift and grace, every bit of it.)

Watch my grand-girl Aidyn, and the way she dances, fierce and free.  Then watch her exuberance s-l-o-w-l-y take hold on Timothy.

Home boy starts breaking it down, in his own reserved way:

I'm thinking that I am going to take a page out of their playbook today.

I'm about to crank up the music and paint n' dance....

(To see what Uncle Jon has been up to, other than kid-sitting, click here)

Wear Your Praise Wednesday { closet makeover...}

I'm certain, when I review this past year, that I will look back on "The Great Purge of 2015" as one of the best things I ever did for myself and for my business.  

(...and I'm not done yet.  But funerals and vacation and life have taken over, as I knew they would when I first decided to purge our "stuff".  So, because I knew that ordinary life would fight against my goal, I made my intentions as firm as possible.  The result?  I got a lot more accomplished than I expected, but less than I wanted to, if that makes sense.  Which means....I succeeded.  Because all big plans turn out that way:  you split the difference between perfection and reality.

 I made a plan, and I stuck with it no matter what...within reason.  Reason says you attend funerals, and you don't forgo vacation plans with your Preacher, just to stay home and keep throwing stuff out.)

One of the areas - trust me, just one - that got purged was my walk-in closet.  And, true to the nature of purging, once I got rid of all the superfluous, and was left with this blissfully clean slate, I was then able to make over the whole space - adding back only those things that support my goals and who I am.

Yeah.  Clothes and spaces can do that.  

Clothes and spaces can absolutely help you crystallize your best intentions, and get clear on where your next glory is.  (We are all going from glory, TO glory.  Because I live in the truth of that, I am always walking the balance-beam of learning from the glory I am presently in, while finding out what my next level of glory is to be.)

I told my besties (which, by the way, I hate that word...and by the way, my besties will always and forever be my church ladies - "Shout out to my Harvest gals!") that I wanted to sell tickets and give tours of my closet.  And so, it is with great, obnoxious enthusiasm that I present you with just one of the results of "The Great Purge of 2015" new inspiration closet:

I truly wish I had "before" pictures.

First and most important point:  I went to a modified capsule wardrobe...

...meaning, I took every stitch of every piece of clothing I own, and pared it down to right around 50 seasonal items...including Tshirts and tanks (which are folded and tucked away in drawers).

What this means is, when I began this purge back in late summer, I chose around 50 clothing items to be in my spring/summer capsule.  (Some capsule wardrobe-ers go with 20-something, some go with 30-something.)  Every jacket, every vest, every T-shirt, every pair of jeans, every-everything counts.

I found that it helped me immensely to just go with an arbitrary number, and force myself to pare down to it.  To keep giving away or tossing clothing until I reached under 50 items, I had to go through my shirts, pants, dresses, etc. not once, not twice, but multiple times....and make hard choices.  Do I like this shirt or this shirt best?  Do these pants fit better than these?

Here is what had to go:  whatever wasn't my favorite and best fitting and most reflective of who I really am, right now this moment - which is an artist-entrepreneur...who occasionally has to dress beautifully for art shows and the random hot date.  Other than those occasions, and weddings and funerals, my wardrobe gets to be this casual, semi-bohemian mix of what I like best.

(This week or next, I will have to pull out all my fall/winter clothing, and go through the exact same process...pare it all down to my 50 or so pieces.  It won't be easy, but now that I know how transformational it is to actually have fewer but better choices...I will gladly do it.)

I added back a tiny slipper chair, on clearance at Target.  It was actually meant to be a little girl's chair.  A tiny-tot-chair.  But I've had a couple of months, now, to use it for putting on my shoes, for putting on tights (yes, our weather actually got chilly enough to do that for one, and only one night recently), and for prayer.  And I am in love with the idea of having a tiny chair in one's closet.

If you can at all fit one in your it.

I added a small sheepskin rug.  Clearanced at my local Ross for under $10.

I added a watercolor sign that spoke to my heart.

I took all my earrings out of the plastic ice trays they were in (!!) and purchased two $7 velvet compartment trays from Hobby Lobby (using my coupon).

...the tiny "Paris" tin was a gift from a dear prayer-partner friend, who just so happens to know that I dream of going to Paris, while not actually wanting to go to Paris.  Travel isn't my thing...but beautiful places are still fun to dream about.  She filled that tin with images of Paris...

...and, of course, no closet is complete without a few of the pebbles you have written on, over the years.

Last, but totally not least, I added a... chandelier.

Oh my dear, sweet heavenly goodness.  It was a complete splurge.

And so worth it.

When this most intimate of spaces was complete, I shut the door (said door finally has a full length mirror on it.  I had to choose between all my shoes, keeping only those that are the "hardest workers", giving away the rest - so I could ditch the behind-the-door ugly shoe rack, and replace it with a full length mirror):

...I shut this door, sat down on the tiny-tot chair...

...and cried my eyes out.

See, this closet was built just for me, way back in 2004.  We renovated our house, and I got the walk-in-closet I had always wanted.

And it took me over ten years to make it special.

And all total, I know it didn't cost me $200 to create something that will bless me every single morning and night for many years to come.  It took me ten years to decide I was worth the investment.

People.  I told you.  Self-care is not my superpower.  And that might be the understatement of 2015.

I immediately texted my daughters (don't's the new millennium, and its how everyone rolls) and admonished them, "Do as your mother says, don't do as she does.  Self care matters."

And we leave my closet (where I now want to live)...the first thing you see is my inspiration wall - which is an instigator and has been a huge part of every level of glory I have hit in the last 3 years:

Wearing your praise matters.  When you are well put together, and the effort to be well put together no longer takes a ton of time, or too many decisions (we all only have so much mental bandwidth) - we are more likely to say "YES" to things that matter.

I am more likely to say "YES" to a mentoring breakfast, when I know my clothes are ready for me to jump into.

I am more likely to say "YES" to eating out with Tim at someplace besides O'Charley's, when I can take one look inside a beautiful space, and choose something a little more special to wear...and it is pressed and waiting for me.

Simple issues of self care and self respect.

And I hope you are better at all of these things than I am.  I'm still a work in progress, but I'm happy to share my reality with you.  Thanks for listening.

Is your most intimate of spaces - your closet - a special space?  Even if all you have is a tiny closet (that is all I had for almost 20 years) you can scale down and pare back and make it special.

How are you at self care?

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {#rockyourreaders...a collaboration with}

I told y'all that #wearyourpraise is a thing.

You see, friends, I've been...contacted.  Yes.  That's it.  I've been contacted.  I received an email asking me if I was interested in an affiliate post, in exchange for product.

Wouldn't you know it, my very-very first really true affiliate post is with (drumroll...)

Stop laughing, because you are about to be jealous.

Given, this wasn't totally out of the blue.  I heart, and that's never been a secret.  I have declared my bifocal reader love to the world, in several earlier posts.  But I had to buy the bifocals first. So you can imagine my excitement, in getting a few pair to enjoy at no charge...

...if I'd just blog about them.

This is big, y'all.

I really truly wear my bifocal readers every day of my life.  Why bifocal readers?  Two reasons:

1.  Glasses are a fashion statement all by themselves.  This makes me feel lucky to need readers.  People who don't need eyeglasses are wearing fake glasses.  And if you do need glasses, and you are wearing and I can't be friends.

Just kidding.  But seriously, consider wearing glasses like any other fashion accessory - and get more than one pair.  A girl needs several pairs, to match her outfit or her mood.

And hey...if this article by THE Sartorialist can't convince you to get on the glasses train...I can't help you.

I told you you'd be jealous.  Wearing glasses is a beautiful thing.

Reason number 2 I wear bifocal readers every day:  Back before I discovered bifocal readers, I was continually losing my regular readers.  My only recourse was either go bifocal, or buy a chain to attach my readers to, and hang them around my neck.

Um.  Ain't gonna happen.

Because, even though I am a granny, I can't wear my readers on a chain like a granny.  Because I want my grandkids to be able to wear shirts like this:

And if I wear my readers on a chain, that can't happen.

I'm excited to share a few styles of readers with you, and chat just a little bit about glasses in general.

First up, is the Ivy League bifocal

...I wear these when I'm feeling intellectual.  Which is every day, almost.

Next, are my all-time favorites, the Elwood bifocal, with a tortoise frame:

No lie, I feel pretty in these specs and this dress.  And that's what "wear your praise Wednesday" is about.  Here's another mood:

Next, when you are in a fun-loving state of mind:

(I wore these with my orange T-shirt this past Saturday...thinking it would be good luck for my team, the Tennessee Volunteers.  Alas.)

I requested these specifically.  I wanted them, because white-rimmed eyeglasses are trending hard right now, as evidenced by my new friend, the adorable Gabi Blair of Design Mom:

(My home was featured on her informative, award winning design blog this past year!)

Diverting just a minute to sunglasses, I also love these:

The "Iris" bifocal sunglasses.  I refuse to wear any other bifocal sunglasses for now.  These win.  Hands up...and peace out.

Last but not least, when I want my glasses to be cute, but understated, I go with these "Indiana" bifocals:

Once in awhile, I may be in an every-day-ish, understated sort of mood, but don't be fooled.  My glasses may be understated, but my heart still wants to wear its praise and live loudly.

(For more on how #wearyourpraise Wednesday got started, click here)

I'm excited to be able to offer my friends and readers (ar, pun intended) a 20% discount on any pair of readers on's  website.  The coupon code is "sheila".

Have fun looking!  If you order something cute, please send me a picture of you in your readers...or share it to Instagram with the hashtag #rockyourreaders and #sheilaatchleydesigns.  I'd love to see you rocking your readers, and perhaps even share your picture here on the blog!

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...too busy to shoot myself...}

Hiiiiiiii there, girlfriends (and the occasional guy!)...

...around here there has been an unexpected and entirely tragic funeral in our church family, an impending overnight guest,  a big-time video shoot with the beautiful Elisa Trentham of Sherwood Media for my part as an "extra" in Jeanne Oliver's new online course "Art of Home || Modern Simple Living".

(You can sign up here )

And so, I've been too busy to shoot myself.

But never fear, I won't leave you hanging.  I have two fabulous links to two fashion articles, both looking ahead into the fall season.

Top 15 Fall Trends - by the team over at StitchFix

(Which, by the way, I did keep a pair of jeans that came with my "fix" this month.  I had two credits, and that brought the price down to irresistible proportions.  Will share soon!)

And Fashion Rules You Should Resolve to Break - I chose this one, because it explodes the myth of "no white after Labor Day".

Finally, I was in Target today to pick up some beach essentials (South Carolina here we come!) and happened upon this:

(That's not me up there.)

Anyhoo, it struck me that this, surely was a Beach Essential.

So I snagged it on sale.

That is me up there.

In my closet, where I now live.  Thuggin' for the iphone camera.  Making time - just for you - to shoot myself.  See the tags??

The.  Things.  I.  Do.  For.  You.

Art of Home || Modern Simple Living { lessons on the Home Arts...}

I was recently asked to be one of the presenters in the online course "Art of Home || Modern Simple Living". Here is a description of the course:

Art of Home | Modern Simple Living will be about some of the lost arts of caring for our home and family.

Each week will contain step by step videos with decorating, cooking, gardening, entertaining, housekeeping and much more!

The following will be shared:  The Art of Farm to Table, The Art of Gathering, The Art of Domestic Moxie and The Art of Reclaimed Style.

This four week course is your favorite home and cooking magazines come to life!

...and here the trailer for the course:

AoH 01 trailer from Revilo Designs on Vimeo.

Because of a very, very packed schedule in recent days, and an upcoming vacation, today was the only day I had available to shoot my segment (a lesson on home canning).

I couldn't have pulled it off by myself on such short notice.  I knew I had to have professional help. So I called on Sherwood Media and its owner/founder Elisa Trentham.

She flat-out delivered.  Here are a couple of peeks behind-the-scenes:

That's Elisa, you see there in my mirror.  I'm not that skinny.  Hashtag sadbuttrue and when you sign up for this course, you'll see...

...but I'm trying to be okay with that.  "I love how video adds at least 10 pounds to a woman's frame"...

...said no woman in the history of ever.

Titus 2 tells us that the "older women" should teach the younger women - and since my nest is empty, since I've raised and launched four arrows into the world, since I now have 5 grandbabies, since I have lived, breathed, and loved all things home and hospitality for almost 30 years, through thick, thin, lesson plans, phonics, basketball games, graduation,  two Marine boot camps and two Parris Island graduations, heart ache, heartbreak, and every possible scenario...

...since I am, even as I run a creative art business, still a passionate home maker in every sense of the word, I feel kind of qualified to teach.

It's important that you don't just take my word for any of this. Everybody's cooler online.  Ask my husband - ask my daughters - ask my friends how I tend and tenderly love my people and my home, as creatively as I can.  I don't do everything perfectly, but it gets done.

Who says you can only do one thing at a time?  In fact, I feel that running a creative business while still doing my own cleaning, still cooking, still gardening, still practicing hospitality and managing a thriving home - that is part of what allows me to truly own the role of home maker as part of my ministry in my empty nest season.

Because of all the above, and the fact that I'll be fifty next year, I finally feel kind of qualified to teach.  I say "kind of" because I'm an avid student, and plan on learning till I die.  So there's that part of me that is qualified to teach, but there is this huge, huge part of me that just wants to learn all I can.

Speaking of can...(it's a bad segue, but it's all I got).

Would you like to take the mystery out of the canning process?  Because that is my contribution to this course.  I am going to take the angst and the worry out of using an old fashioned pressure canner - no fancy expensive electric one is used.

And I use real tomatoes.

All this, and Jesus too.

No, seriously, I also take a few minutes to share with you my heart behind all this home making.

It's a Titus 2 heart that God put in me at the age of 20, and I still have it today.  I've lived my whole life for one thing:  to be qualified, when the season of "older woman" finally arrived, to share the Gospel with women of all ages.

Join me?

The cost of the entire course is $64.99, and you get lifetime access to four weeks (many, many instructional and inspirational) videos of wisdom and beauty!

Here is the link, where you can sign up:

So do you do any canning?  What do you grow?  What do you can?  We eat all we can, and what we can't eat, we can.

It's a bad joke, but it's all I got.  Cut me some schedule is brutal this week...but after that...'ll be a few blissful days in Margeritaville.  I can hear the waves already...

Feed Your People Well { latest mixed media original is available...}

My newest original, styled in my own kitchen ...

This is a wood canvas 10"x10" mixed media original entitled "Feed Your People". It was rendered in acrylic, willow stick, charcoal, ink, and pastel. My inspiration was drawn from every unsung hero-mom (or dad!) who sets the table lovingly, and cooks for her or his people.

It's a daily, sometimes difficult act of selflessness. And it is one of the most important jobs on the planet, because the saying is truth: "One cannot live well unless one has dined well."

This piece is $150, plus FREE shipping for the next 48 hours. I always offer free shipping on pieces on which the paint hasn't quite even dried. Because if you grab it quick, it saves me a lot of work - photographing my art properly and posting it to my online shop is not a fast-and-easy process.

Contact me if you're ready to give this piece a good home and get in on the free shipping! Once it goes up in my shop, free shipping goes away.

What is "Cheap Grace"...really?

(Vincent Van Gogh's "Weeping Woman")

My favorite blogger Ann Voskamp, over at A Holy Experience, hit another home run with her recent post entitled "You Know They're Laughing At Us, Right?"

I also weep over the Creflo Dollars of the pop-Christian-culture...and the Josh Duggars of the fundamentalist-legalist-Christian sub-culture...and the Tullian Tchividjians of the grace-Christian camp...and I applaud and appreciate Voskamp's willingness to name names.

The great apostle Paul named names.  And so must we.  Carefully.  With many tears.

I would only add one thing to Ann's post - and it feels like wild presumption to even think I could add to the thoughts of one of our day's finest writers - but in her recent post she said:

"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

I couldn't agree more.  And here is what I would add:

Cheap grace is grace without local church.  Cheap grace is grace without true community.

Where else is repentance required and lived out, if not in the context of community?  Where else does church discipline take place, but in church?  Who do we confess our sins to, if not to a safe community of believers?  Where else is discipleship fleshed out, the cross made vivid, wolves in sheep clothing called by their name, and the flock of God guarded, and where else can Christ be incarnated?

Nowhere else but the church.  

All these things - repentance, church discipline, confession, incarnation - do not find their full expression within one person, or within a small group of favorite people who think like me, or within a business.  They don't find full and robust expression even in one family.  "Family church" can be a smokescreen to avoid the pain of real, true, flawed, diverse, beautiful local church.  To avoid church community is to live in such a way as to never have to extend grace to anyone but "me and mine".

Living like a lone ranger is cheap grace.

When I hear someone refer to "cheap grace", or "easy believe-ism", I laugh. I've read (and love) all of Bonhoeffer's works, and I get what he meant, when he coined the term "cheap grace" from a prison cell, living in close community amongst a diversity of men, suffering for the sake of Christ.

But can we, with authority, use those words unless we are likewise living in community as Bonhoeffer did?  Some who use the words "cheap grace", are using them to look down their nose at someone else...or to take someone else's theology down a peg or two.  No one who bandies those words for those reasons have actually understood the grace of God - because it can't be comprehended outside the gritty community of imperfect local church...a place often filled with prodigals in various stages of return.  

That's why repentance and confession must be preached and incarnated before the eyes of our watching community, right alongside justification and grace.  That's why I appreciate Voskamp's use of the term "cheap grace" - her context is spot-on.

Grace is mere concept to the rugged Christian individualist, that is why they think it can be cheapened. When you "live of the gospel", when you live in right relationship to others, nothing is more costly or more difficult in life than to earnestly look for the good, to "keep yourself in the love of God". (Jude)

Far from being "cheap", the truth of grace will cost you more than you ever thought you could pay, and stretch your faith beyond where you thought you could go.

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...neutrals go with neutrals go with neutrals - transitioning into fall...}

(In advance...a grateful "thanks" for pinning...)

...this morning, even as I type this post for tomorrow, fall is in the air.

Fall used to be my favorite season.  Now it is my second favorite, and that's still something.

I will miss summer, but I will also love transitioning into my fall clothing.  So today, I want to tell you something you already know, deep down:  a neutral goes with a neutral, goes with a neutral.  Here is a list of the neutral colors that have made it into my capsule wardrobe (and yes!  I've gone to a capsule wardrobe - more about that in another Wear Your Praise Wednesday post...along with pictures of my beautiful closet - which I used to hate, and now want to live in...)

olive green
white or cream

That's it.  Any combination of those neutrals (or any other neutral palette, such as navy, khaki, red, and cream), you can pile them on this fall, as many as you like even in one outfit, and you won't go wrong.  Even if you combine neutral patterns.  And that, girlfriends, is also another post for another day.  If you ever wanted to dabble in combining in, on your body....we, the over 40 crowd, can do it if we stick to neutral patterns.  (Think black and white stripes with a leopard print jacket or shoe).

Here, I've gone with those Wal-Mart bermudas in black, and I shifted my artisan belt buckle off to the side on purpose.  Because it interests me.  And because I love the two rhinestone rivets, with the word "fly" stamped beside them.  I've combined the shorts and belt with a new Old Navy long sleeve boyfriend T.  (And oh my dear sweet, don't walk, run to Old Navy and get you some.  Boyfriend T-shirts, not boyfriends.  Mmmmm-kay?)

Comfy, baggy, cozy sweetness that you can do the "half tuck" with.  Or the "mullet tuck".  (Business in the front, party in the back...)

The point is, combine your neutrals - throw on black on black on brown on black without worrying about matching.  Throw on your black with brown shoes and a brown belt...and if your big hair bothers you...

Put on a neutral hat.  Not blue.  Not green.  Not red (though some say red is a neutral).

Then, take it right back off...

...because sister...the taller the hair, the closer to God.

Here, I've piled on yet another neutral layer.  This olive colored vest from Target was on sale at my store, and I felt like I stole it, it was so cheap.

I can't find it on the website anymore, so I went to Amazon, and found almost the exact same thing here - and I chose the most inexpensive one.  You're welcome.  (This site is not monetized.  My links are purely hard work and a courtesy.  I do not (yet) get anything at all, if you click and buy something.)

One reason why this vest is my favorite layer (I wear it with daggum near everything) is that it has pockets for my iphone.

I weep.

I used to be so old-school.  Now I am a technology snob.  "Dear Santa, I want it all."

"I like big hair, and I cannot lie."

Girl, I say rock the big hair, and rock the big whate'r else your momma gave ya.  Because beauty is not about size or age or any such thing.

That's true.

You know it is.  And if you don't know it, I will make it one of my life's goals to convince you.

If you want to keep your complexes, you better bail on me now, because #wearyourpraise
is a thing.

It is taking off, friends, and I am driving the bus.  My way or the highway - so start feeling beautiful in middle age, or I will stop this bus and fuss.

Or something.

In summary:

Belt (my design)
Necklace (my design - this is a different design, but same length)

Underlined Bits {...things I underline when I read...}

(one of my first pieces of original art)

God looked on Christ as if Christ had been sin; not as if He had taken up the sins of His people, or as if they were laid on Him, though that were true, but as if He Himself had positively been that noxious—that God-hating—that soul-damning thing, called sin. When the Judge of all the earth said, ‘Where is Sin?’ Christ presented himself…what a grim picture that is, to conceive of sin gathered up into one mass - murder, lust and stealing, and adultery - and the Father looked on Christ as if He were that mass of sin. He was not sin, but the Father looked on upon Him as made sin for us. Christ stands in our place, assumes our guilt, takes on our iniquity and God treats Him as if He had been sin…How can any punishment fall on that man who ceases to possess sin, because his sin was cast upon Christ and Christ has suffered in his place? Oh, glorious triumph of faith to be able to say, whenever I feel the guilt of sin, whenever conscience pricks me, ‘Yes, it is true but my Lord is answerable for it all, for He has taken it all upon Himself and suffered in my place.”

Charles Spurgeon, The King’s Highway

Wear Your Praise Wednesday - Terrible Tulle {...the tulle skirt}

If you haven't seen pictures of grown women in tulle don't Pinterest, do you?

My favorite article on wearing tulle can be found at the Huffington Post.  It's entitled "How To Wear a Tulle Skirt Without Looking Like a Ballerina".

I tried really hard to copy this look...

...but I couldn't praise the Lord in this kind of getup, either.

But I did bite the bullet and buy myself an inexpensive tulle skirt.

And the jury is out, as to what I think about that.

However, in life as in art, I share epic fails as well as successes.  I am a big believer in transparency - and though everything in me wants to skip this week's "Wear Your Praise Wednesday" you go:

Lord, help.

I'm not even going to tell you how huge this skirt makes me feel, because that would be inappropriate oversharing.  ("moo".)

 Slightly better.  What have I tried to teach us, class?  "Layers are our friends!"

You can be like me, and try compensating with a scarf.  Meh...

I crack myself up.  It is so apparent, in every picture, that I'm not feeling it.

So there you have it.  I am confident each one of you will forthwith procure a tulle skirt for yourselves.


12 Best Things I Ever Did {...from my bedroom to my business...}

Don't worry.  I'm not about to get all weird and overshare.

However, sharing is caring.  And I care.  So I decided to gather the top 12 best things I've done recently (they may or may not be the "best things I ever did") that have impacted my life significantly:

1.  Put this rebounder right beside my desk.  On days that are heavy desk days, I position it to where I have to step over it to even get to the bathroom.  This encourages me to jump up and down for several minutes at a time.  Health benefits are enormous.

2.  Began diffusing essential oils by my bed, every night.

3.  Began using Progessence Plus every morning.  Two drops, at the base of the front of my neck...about where your thyroid is.

Sorry for the really small picture.  I don't sell essential oils, and never will.  That isn't because I don't love them.  Rather, I have not found them to be the cure-all that many who make money from them portray them to be...and I realize that is just my experience, not theirs.  Big exception:  Progessence Plus, and lemongrass.  Progessence Plus for a general, overall, noticeable improvement in perimenopausal symptoms, and lemongrass because every time I wear it, women ask me what is that lovely, lovely  scent I am wearing

And they look like they might eat me alive.  It isn't a comfortable feeling, but it is oddly satisfying.

contact me for a wonderful essential oils rep.  She won't try to talk you into a thing you do not want...

4.  I started a new series:  "Wear Your Praise Wednesday"  That little weekly post drives a lot of new traffic to this blog.

5.  Put up serious boundaries with people who didn't want to take my boundaries seriously.  If you are a creative, you know this.  You have to guard your wellsprings.  For me, those wellsprings are prayer and meditation - and time to simply create in my studio without interruption.

6.  I started wearing bifocal readers

7.  I am in the process of becoming more "hard to get" so I can live the kind of life that makes good art inevitable.  I am being far more careful in my collaborations, and lengthening my turn-round time on commissions.

8.  Embraced my true giftings and calling.  (Part of this involved admitting to being an introvert, while at the same time not allowing that title to limit me.)

9.  Owned my inner bohemian.  While I don't see myself getting any tattoos, my style has markedly shifted.  I now wear jeans to church as a rule.  And I break silly rules, because silly rules should, without doubt, be broken.

10.  I found my voice again.  This happened right about this very month, in the year of our Lord 2009.  I had been in a friendship-relationship that I had been allowing to intimidate me.  I let it all go...both the intimidation...and the friendship.  The Lord said "Do not chase it down."

This was hard for me, because I am a "lifer".  I make friends for life, and I am loyal to a fault.  I will do anything, short of compromising the Gospel, to restore a relationship.

Not that time.  I had to obey God, rather than men, and rather than my own predispositions.  And it was a wonderful, bountiful dealing for my soul.  I found my voice again.  The growth has been explosive every year since.

11.  Accepted the fact that I am called to "glory and virtue".  (2 Pet. 1)  I am called to do big things, to make an impact, to be dang good at what I do and work hard and accomplish everything I can.  That word "virtue" in 2 Peter chapter 1, in the the Greek, has its roots in the word "manliness".

In other words, I have accepted the fact that I am to be strong and brave.  I can do hard things.  I'm called to give God "my best yes".  Called to virtue.  Called to glory...which means that others look at me and see the handiwork of very God.

Slackers can't do that.  Passive women can't do that.

12.  Bought a (used) Mac.  With a ginormous 22" screen.

Oh.  Happy.  Day.  Best thing I ever did for my business.

Flashback Friday {...a post from the archives on the danger of "perfect"...}

                                                 Today I'm throwing back three years to a
blog post about the danger of "perfect".
This post was entitled, "Permanent Beta Launch"
and it's a mix of small business and theology

and it was written in the language of sarcasm, in which I am, unfortunately, fluent.


(mixed media art-in-progress..."Suspended in Grace"...with four being the number of Creativity...and the amount of children I have had to release to God and His unfathomable riches of Grace!) 

Love Michael Hyatt's post today on living with Permanent Beta.  This is when you find an acceptable level of imperfection, and you roll with it anyhow. (That's my succinct paraphrase, and I think it's great.)

My Spiritual Gift is "Roll With It".  You won't find it in Scripture, not in those exact words, nor will you find it on any Spiritual Gift Test.  But I promise, my gift is Roll With It.

Not so long ago, however, my gift was more akin to "Wait Until It's Perfect".  The crazy thing is, nothing ever was.  Perfect.

Thank God He imparted the gift of Roll With It to me.  If He hadn't, very little would be getting done, except what I could do to please and bless myself. I wouldn't be actively mentoring other women, creating art and selling it, and we wouldn't even attempt some of the things on our schedule - because it's all risky business.

But we Roll With It.  What God says, we do, even when it is BigBig, even when we don't seem to have the resources, even when we can't do it perfectly the first time.

The big revelation (truly) for me was - and I didn't begin to really get it until I began naming my years, beginning with "Create" -  that you always tweak as you go.  I once knew a man, Godblesshim, who for years was hung up on pride.  He worried that The Preacher was prideful, worried about the pride of teenage boys, and prayed endlessly for humility - especially that others who were doing Big Things would Stay Humble.  He was the pride police, and of course, you aren't supposed to walk in pride.

So you sit and do little-to-nothing in the area of your true calling and passion, wearing pride turned inside-out like a reversible coat.  We all know that pride is what keeps you sitting there until you are no longer proud.  And the worst pride of all is to be certain of your own humility.  Might be best to shed that deceptively-protective layer and stand up and do something imperfectly.  By the way - be proud that you did.

Then you simply face the Tweaking Process.  Someone is going to correct/critique/tell you how you must improve.

Hug them, when they do.  I did...just last week - and they weren't just correcting my spelling or my grammar.

And I received correction a few weeks before that.  If no one is critiquing you, you aren't out in front.  (And if you are the one always critiquing...well...I've got sad news.  You aren't out in front either.  But I'll take your criticism on advisement.)

Does that mean I must embrace all correction?  Nah.  Only when it is for the Greater Good.  Only when it does not compromise the Finished Work of Christ in my life.  When it gets petty or personal, I toss it like year-old mascara.

Friend, it's all in the Tweak.  Life is one big 80 year Tweak.  Get over yourself, and move on.  If you make a mistake, own it and fix it.  I promise the juju of the universe is not moved when we screw things up.  You were born wrong, and you'll be wrong again before dinner.

All my life I thought I had God's stamp of approval because my life wasn't going badly. Now I was faced with the fear that it might actually be the opposite. What if my life was going so beautifully because I wasn't chasing after God?

- Jennie Allen, Anything

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...dresses as shirts...}

(image from

Is it just me, or has anyone noticed that hemlines have been alarmingly short in recent days?  That girl up there, she is beautiful, but whoever told her she was wearing a dress was punking her.  

I think that these teeny-tiny short dresses are on their way out, and the "midi dress" or "midi skirt" is making a roaring comeback.  

And that makes me sad.

It makes me sad because never...ever, in my memory...has there been a better selection of beautiful tunic-style tops as we have seen in the era of the Teeny Tiny Dress.

Still.  Younger gals, here is a piece of advice from someone who, though she is almost 50, still has some fashion chops:  if you have to wonder if it is a dress or a is a top.  If it could kind of, sort of be either is a top.

That dress up there?  Most.  Gorgeous.  Shirt.  Ever.

So, because I'd do anything for you, I dug around in my closet for the tops I have that were merchandised to me as dresses...

...and if this isn't proof that this dress is a shirt,  I can't help you.  And I can't ever take myself seriously when I shoot these blog posts.  

It's going to get worse, people, so if you are going to bail on me, do it now.

This little number is from  I call it my hippie dress, only it could never be a dress because I can't praise the Lord in it.

This dress/shirt is a design by Jeanne Oliver,   and is no longer available.

Don't cry.

(Jeanne...this is me...begging you to design more dresses.  Because I need more shirts.)

Last but not least, I chose a dress that I actually do wear as a dress.  Just to keep you confused.

But no, really.  I wear it as a dress.  I only want you to open your closet and expand your horizons.  

Just don't wear a ball gown as a top.

Um.  Nevermind.