I’m a Ragamuffin… and proud of it!

Whoo-Thank goodness yesterday’s crazy Friday the Thirteenth AND full moon are both over… I don’t believe in those things actually affecting life, but yesterday was an absolutely insane day for me, emotionally.  But that can be a different post; today I don’t want to dwell on yesterday’s sad moments.  Today, I want to share a book I’ve been reading lately.

You may know by now, but one of my jobs is working as a Barista at a local Starbucks.  One particularly long day (I had come in early to help with coverage, and stayed through my shift, and it was a busy busy day), a group of three older (not elderly, just not necessarily young, either) people came in; one adorable couple and one man.  Working at the cash register, I get to meet a lot of interesting people, so of course, when this group came to the front of the line, they were CHATTY!  Both men were pulling pranks on the other, buying drinks and then changing orders, typical goofiness, really.  Being deaf didn’t help me much, since my Cochlear Implant can’t make mumblers talk more clearly…

I thought I was going to be annoyed, honestly.

Boy was I wrong!  Turns out, both men are pastors and best friends who’ve known each other for YEARS.  The lady with them was just as tight.  Their friendship was so much fun to witness, and then after a while, one of the men comes back up to the register (once I’m less busy, thankfully!) and asks if I’m a Christian.  I responded that, yes, I am a Christian, and he proceeds to turn to his friend and yell, “I told you so!”  Pretty sure my eyebrows hit the roof.  He turns back to me and said, “I just knew it… you seem so happy, so joyful.”  I couldn’t talk to him much then, but I thanked him, and was humbled to realize that people are watching all the time.  I was also honored that my happiness–definitely a God-given joy from within, ’cause Lord knows I wouldn’t be happy of my own accord sometimes–was a glowing light recognized by a fellow Christian.

After my shift ended that day, the group was still sitting at their table, talking and visiting with each other.  As per their request, I joined them, and we talked for another forty five minutes or so.  They asked about my art, pored over my site’s images, and tried to convince me to move to Hilton Head Island in SC to work at their church.  They almost got me, too… HHI is lovely!

But anyway, I digress.  A week or so later, I received this book in the mail; one that had been recommended by one of the pastors.  The title is “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning.  I was so touched that he had thought to mail it to me, and proceeded to begin reading it immediately.

SO GOOD.

It’s a tough book; if you want to be a complacent Christian, it’s not for you.  I’ll admit there were times when it was hard for me to read Brennan’s words because they hit so close to home.  Ultimately, though, that’s what makes a good book; TRUTH and HONESTY even when–especially when–you don’t want it.

There are so many tidbits in this book that go down as “Golden Nuggets” in my mind, but I’ll only post a few excerpts here… you should read it for yourself, though!

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“Genuine self-acceptance is not derived from the power of positive thinking, mind games, or pop psychology.  It is an act of faith in the God of grace.”

“We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh.  We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt.  This and so much more is sheer GIFT; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer…My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”

When “we grow complacent and lead practical lives, we miss the experience of awe, reverence, and wonder.  Our world is saturated with grace, and the lurking presence of God is revealed not only in spirit, but in matter–in a deer leaping across a meadow, in the flight of an eagle, in fire and water, in a rainbow after a summer storm, in a gentle doe streaking through a forest, in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, in a child licking a chocolate ice cream cone, in a woman with windblown hair. God intended for us to discover His loving presence in the world around us.”

“In faith there is movement and development.  Each day something is new.  To be Christian, faith has to be new–that is, alive and growing.  It cannot be static, finished, settled.  When Scripture, prayer, worship, ministry become routine, they are dead.”

“The biblical image of the victorious life reads more like the victorious limp.  Jesus was victorious not because He never flinched, talked back, or questioned; but having flinched, talked back, and questioned, He remained faithful.”

That’s just a WEE peek into the book.. I’m going to have to read it again and mark more, journal more, and overall absorb more of this book.  It’s not a quick read, and it’s not a guideline for life.  Rather, it is an example of how to live a Christian life that is fully reliant on God’s grace and actively using and living out that grace.  Knowing that there’s nothing I could ever do to deserve His grace or mercy, but knowing that I need to always pursue Him, rest in Him, and live for Him.  Knowing that I NEED His grace and I NEED His mercy, now more than ever.

If you’ve read this book, or others that you’d like to share, I’d LOVE to hear about them.  I thoroughly enjoy reading and discussing books, and am eager to continue growing in my faith, for which I need community!

Love you all!

Danielle

 

CHRISTMAS CARDS!!

Hello!  I know; you’re shocked… two posts in ONE week?!  Well, as I previously stated, one of my resolutions is to do better with using my time and social media.  That being said, this post is dedicated to images of my most recent Christmas Cards!

This year, I decided to paint each member of my family a card.  I painted a card for each couple, individual or family, depending on who lived with whom.  Since I haven’t had a lot of time to make art, due to working two jobs and whatnot, this was a GREAT outlet to be able to relax and just let my creative juices flow!  PLUS, I discovered that I really enjoy painting cards, and it’s DEFINITELY something I plan to continue.  In fact, check out my Etsy site, and let me know if you want any custom cards for anything–I’ll be happy to collaborate and help you create whatever you want!  All from my heARTmade shop!

So, I’ll post each card, and then describe why that card fits that family/person/couple!  Super fun and if you have any questions, comments, or ideas, I’m totally game!

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This one was made for my cousin and her husband.  My cousin is an avid Disney fan, so I chose to “arrange” multi-colored glass ornaments into the classical Mouse Ears!  Stay tuned for a post dedicated to another Disney-themed Christmas project, as well!

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This one was done for my brother, his wife, and their ADORABLE two year old son (yes I am shamelessly smitten with my nephew!).  I thought the little penguins would be fun for them, especially for my nephew, and there are three penguins ’cause there are three in their little family!  The penguins are skating since my brother’s family loves to do active things together, and we all know that ice skating is one of the best ways to spend a winter day with family!

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This was definitely one of my favorites to work on–the color combinations were so much fun!  This is one I did for my aunt’s family (aunt, uncle, and three kids).  Each year, my aunt decorates with the most fun “chunky” Christmas lights and a Charlie Brown-inspired tree, so I couldn’t think of anything better than fun lights for their family!

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This one was actually done for one of my closest friends from school.  We both love pickles and it’s kind of a running joke between us.  So, in the tradition of the Christmas Pickle, I simply couldn’t resist!  My family has ALWAYS done the pickle tradition, as long as I can remember.   My parents would hide the green pickle ornament in a “difficult-to-find” spot, and my brother, sister and I would scour the tree!  Usually, I ended up finding the ornament first, but my sister would “shove” me out of the way and claim the prize!  Whoever found the pickle first would open the first present.  She’s competitive; I’m not…

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This adorable snowman (if I do say so myself) was created for my mom and dad.  My mom LOVES snowmen… like, really loves them.  She decorates multiple rooms in our house with snowman decor that usually lasts until… errrr… March?  Haha… Needless to say, a cuddly snowman reaching out for a hug was perfect, since my parents give the best hugs, and I adore them for SO many reasons!

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This one, I painted for my aunt and uncle, both of whom share my love for a nice hot beverage!  In fact, my aunt is a frequent customer at Starbucks (I’m a barista, but not at the one she frequents!), and I have her drink memorized to a TEA… (heehee… see what I did there… she drinks Chai Tea Lattes!)   Anyhoo, cold days, hot drinks, warm hearts is what Christmas is all about!

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This is the one I painted for my grandparents.  My grandmother always notices the pinecones loading the trees in her backyard, commenting on how beautiful they are, and my grandfather taught me the importance of working hard, including yard work.  Thus, a pinecone in all it’s complexity and simply painted seemed suitable for them!

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I have a dear cousin whose goofiness can be very politically-inspired, including obnoxious RWB outfits and whatnot…. So I chose to paint him an Uncle Sam inspired snowman!

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This is another of my favorites… largely for the same reason as the lights; all the colors mingling together were so fun to play around with.  Plus, I love the repetition of the circular/spherical shape of the ornaments.  I created this one for another dear cousin who is incredibly talented in design, calligraphy, and those types of things.  Therefore, I wanted to make a card that was more design-based than concept-based.  This was/is the result!

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This was done for another aunt and uncle who are some of the classiest people I know.  I’ve always felt that their home and style were pretty traditional, and I have always loved visiting their house!  It’s so cozy and has remained mostly the same since my childhood, so I figured a simple, traditional ornament hanging on a bright ribbon would be perfect for them!  Really happy with how it turned out, too.

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This is for another more traditional family member… ironically, the daughter of the previously listed aunt and uncle!  She lives with her hubby and their two adorable kids in a really sweet little house, so I wanted to depict that cozy welcome that a wreath brings to a front door!

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This is a whole different kind of cozy!  This one went to a couple (my cousin and his wife) who live in Charleston SC, and have made a lovely life together running dive charters and working in the great deep blue!  Unlike Olaf, this snowman isn’t melting as he basks in the sun…no puddles here!  Plus, the sun is really an ornament… so I don’t know how much heat it really generates… 😉

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This card was/is for a VERY musically talented cousin-family of mine!  My cousin, her hubs, and their adorable kiddos are all AWESOMELY musical, and the daughter would totally be the pink birdie, teaching her little brother the right notes to sing, as the bell rings below!

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Last, but not least, this is the card I painted for my little sister and her new hub!  First married Christmas this year!!! Yay!  The two live in Nashville, hence the cowboy boots, and the hubby is a HARDCORE steelers fan… hence the spurs.  Plus my sister is as crazy for Christmas as I am, if not more, so a traditional Santa hat was a MUST!

Well, that’s all folks!  I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at these cards as much as I enjoyed making them.  I don’t know about you, but I get SO excited about sending personalized things to loved ones that I can barely wait to give them whatever I’ve made or bought.  That being said, this was definitely something exciting for me this year, and I look forward to future Christmases (and other occasions) to paint cards!

If you have any traditions you love about the Holidays, I’d be thrilled to learn what they are!  And if you have any questions about ordering cards, shoot me an email or message me on here, and I’d be happy to see what we can concoct!

 

Love you all!

Danielle

New Year, New Resolutions

2017

Okay, so we hear about New Years Resolutions EVERY year at the beginning of January.  I get it; we are probably all sick of hearing about it.  I doubt anyone wants to read about my three resolutions, but I’ll share anyway.  PLUS, I am long overdue in posting about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon I am doing as a St. Jude Hero in March!

First, the resolutions.  Last year, I honestly didn’t “set” any.  This year, they kind of came about on their own.  Perhaps it’s necessity?  Perhaps I’m just growing up?  Regardless, here they are:

  1. I plan to lead a “tidier” lifestyle.  Rather than allowing myself to be bogged down with work, time constraints and other things, I’m going to try to keep my room/living spaces and my car cleaner.  I know that I tend to breathe more easily in a clean, clutter-free, organized space.  One might assume that knowing this would simplify my problem, but it doesn’t.  I can never seem to find time to clean deeply, so things build up and then can get overwhelming.  Sound like life?  YUP.  In theory, I’m hoping that cleaning a little more each day, putting things away more immediately, and just working to improve overall cleanliness will carry into my time management of life, in general.  Having time is not the issue; choosing to USE the time I have is.
  2. My second resolution is pretty straightforward.  I am going to work on my Social Media presence when it comes to marketing my artwork and other projects.  I have an Etsy account, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, but I don’t use them well.  2017 is gonna be the year in which that changes.  If anyone has tips about that one, PLEASE let me know, because I’ve clearly not been too successful in the past.  Again, I do think that the use of my time influences this as well.  I need to use the time I have to create things, market them, and reach out through Social Media more regularly.
  3. Last, but definitely not least, I want to build my relationship with and faith in God.  While I know what I believe and where I stand, I want to become even more enthralled with my amazing Savior; I want to spend time poring over His Word, His Grace, and the abundance of His love for me.  I want my introspection and devotional studies to overflow the vessel of my body and heart so that others can get a glimpse of the amazing God I love and serve.  I want Him to be enough.  REALLY be enough.  Not just in theory or word, but in active practice and daily life.  I want to build up my fellowship circle, which is currently lacking, as I’ve recently moved.

Okay, so that’s the basic gist of my New Years Resolutions… and NO, I am not going to talk about Mariah Carey at all… let’s just say that 2016, as lovely as it was, is behind us, and I am looking forward to all that 2017 has in store!

Speaking of what 2017 has in store… I’ll be running my FIRST Rock ‘n’ Roll race on March 11, so I’ll begin my marathon training regimen soon, and would simply LOVE to hear from other runners what you typically do in the months prior to a marathon, or any race, really. I’m super excited about this race, especially because it’ll be the first time I’ve done a race as a St. Jude Hero.  This means that I’ll be raising funds for research at the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and running in support of (and supported by) St. Jude.  Here’s a link for more information about this AWESOME charity/endeavor.

I’m particularly excited about running for St. Jude because 83 cents (on average) of every dollar raised goes directly toward research and treatment for the children supported by St. Jude.  This allows families to get the help and care that they need at NO cost to them.  To me, that is one of the most important things in the life of these families; they are able to be together in a safe environment where people care about them and helping them improve their situations.  See here!  So far, I’ve raised $530 at the Bronze Level for St. Jude.  Mathematically, this means that all the people who’ve supported me so far have sent about $440 dollars directly to St. Jude.  While I’ve actually reached my initial goal set in 2016, I want to see how far I and my lovely friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and other generous people can go.  If you, or someone you know, would like to donate, here is a link directly to my donation page!

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Whoo– that’s enough for tonight, I believe.  Remember, Social Media improvement is part of my NYR… so do expect to be seeing more from me soon! 🙂  Perhaps my next post will involve some homemade Christmas items from my own heARTmade collection!

Happy New Year, and Happy New You!  May your 2017 be as awesome as I intend to make mine!  Love you all!

Danielle