Mushrooms, turtles, and snails combine with leaves, berries and flowers to highlight some of the flora and fauna of the forest floor. This weeks Spoonflower Design Challenge is “Forest Biome” and I had fun bringing a touch of whimsy to my design.
The leaves were next. I wanted a variety. Those little heart branches were last and they are my favorite!
Then I needed berries… but I wanted a variety of berries for interest.
I added the turtles in honor of my 8 year old son. He loves turtles. I’m not big on realistic turtle drawing, though. My turtles often have those super unrealistically high shells. He has vaulted ceilings. 🙂
I thought I was done, and I was really happy with the design, when my husband decided I needed to add snails. He does that sort of thing all the time.
“But I don’t want to add snails! Snails sound hard!”
Nonetheless, I added snails. And I love them. He was right. It definitely needed snails. And one of them definitely needed a face, however unscientific it may be. 🙂
Spoonflower is showcasing these in their contest as wallpaper, but how would you use it? Fabric? Wallpaper? Would you turn it into a little girls dress? Or dress the walls of the kids playroom? Let me know in the comments!
Restraint and self control are two of my big struggles right now. Though my struggle with them shows itself in several areas of my life, the main one is in the area of eating.
This past November, our pastor preached on this very thing and it caught my attention!
He called restraint a skill and self-control a fruit of the spirit. He reminded us that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. (Galatians 5:13) He said we need to tell ourselves NO more often. At least these are the things I heard. (Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us through a sermon in a way unintended by the pastors. I love when He does this!)
I needed to hear all these things, though. If restraint is a skill, that means that it is something that can be learned and grown. This takes work, but is possible! Second Peter 1:10 tells us that if we “practice these things (verse 6 lists self-control as one of the things), you will never fall.” Self-control is listed as a fruit of the Spirit, but this verse tells us we can also practice it to get better! And that we should!
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. ” Romans 12:1
To present my body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God as my spiritual worship. Sacrifice implies that I’m giving something up. Holy and acceptable to God implies that I’m living the way God would want me to. And it would all be something I’m presenting to God as worship.
Each time I tell myself no, I’m saying YES to God.
Do you need to tell yourself no in some area so that you can say yes to God?
Will you pin one of these images so you can share this message with others?
(Read to the bottom to find out how all this affects you!)
Some people take things one at a time, and I think that is a great plan. But I’ve never been very good at it. I almost always have a bunch of things going on at once. I told you about my teeth brushing, Bible reading, self-control with food goals this year. I would have thought that would be enough for now… at least when you figure I’m already raising and homeschooling 6 kids, running an Etsy shop (that I’m trying to make successful), and serving at church. (Let’s not talk about the laundry and the meals and the cleaning… the kids can do that stuff, right?)
But no… let’s add more!
Last week, while discussing marketing strategy for my Etsy shop, my husband decided I should start an Instagram account. Now, I’ve wanted to try IG for a long time, but the timing was never right. (The timing isn’t right until Husband has complete peace about and fully supports it!) So when he said this, I was immediately excited and terrified!
Trying new things is scary!
Can anyone relate? Trying new things is scary! I jumped in though. I spent the next 24 hour or so researching the best ways to start an IG account for an Etsy shop that sells digital downloads. Most of what I found wasn’t quite that specific, but it got me going. I watched videos, read articles, and asked more questions. I started setting up my account, discovered that I had no idea what something was and did some more research.
Trying new things takes time
I started the recommended 10-12 posts in my first day or two of opening the account. That took a lot of time. Then I discovered I had the size wrong and they were all a bit fuzzy… I deleted and re-posted them properly sized.
I posted a second reel… this time adding music (my sister told me to… she’s way better at this stuff than I am!)
I created a third reel… one I pieced together from multiple videos. I published and deleted this reel 5+ times before getting it right (I have no idea if all the deleting is bad for my account… I’m so new at this!) It took all day!
Trying new things needs a strategy
My research suggested that it was better to set realistic expectations for how often I post, planning to post 2-3 times a week rather than posting a bunch and then not posting for a long time. This sounded good. I was already struggling to find time for all the things before starting this adventure, so 2-3 times a week sounded reasonable. Problem is, I can’t help myself. I have fallen into a goal of publishing something everyday… and the more of those that are reels, the better. LOL. I want to reach as many people as I can as fast as I can, and I know that having content is the best way to do that.
So far I can say I’m having a good experience. I’m nearly a week in and I can see how it could totally absorb me if I’m not careful. I’m exploring and learning and adding in my own stuff. I’m hoping that week 2 won’t take as much time as week 1 did and that I can get back to posting new products in my shop. (There are quite a few over there by the way!)
How does this affect you?
That’s the question, isn’t it? I started this blog as a way to chronicle my art journey, but in the last year or so I’ve been trying to figure out how to add value here for you. I want my journey to have more to do with serving and encouraging others than just about me. I want to build community. While I’m planning to continue those goals here, I am hoping to expand on them on Instagram.
A couple weeks ago I shared with you my desire to see change in my life and we talked about some of the “How”, Biblically, for getting there. We talked about renewing our minds with the truths of God’s Word. (Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8)
I mentioned, only briefly, that the only way to be different is to begin doing things differently. That is what I want to talk about today.
I’ve come to believe the adage that “habits form character”. If I want to change, and I do, I must create some new habits into my life. Ultimately, our thoughts come first (that’s why we talked about them already). Our renewed minds help lead to building the good habits that will lead to good character, and lives changed for the better. If I want to change, I must change what I do.
How to make changes
Habits are a great tool for making changes in your life. I recommend taking one habit at a time, but since I’m not very good at that, I won’t judge if you have a few you want to work on. As you begin to build a habit, you have a decision to make each time. Is your habit brushing your teeth before bed (ahem… like I’m working toward)? Then each evening you are presented with a choice. Am I going to brush my teeth? Or skip it? Every night that I decide to brush, I am laying a brick in the foundation of this new habit. For every brick laid, the next decision is easier to make until you don’t have to think about it at all. You’ll just do it because it’s what you do. When you do it without thinking, that’s when it’s a habit.
I feel like some habits are easier than others, but more often than not, I need some accountability to stay on track. The first week of January, I was doing great! I brushed my teeth every night, was self-controlled in my eating and spent time each morning in God’s Word. As the days have passed though, I’ve missed a day here or there with each of these… and the self-control thing has gone right out the window. I need accountability! Having a partner helps. Reporting in each day about your habit to someone else is a great way to stay on track, but maybe that doesn’t work for you. Maybe you don’t have anyone you trust. Maybe you are working on too many things at once and need another way.
There are so many ideas for habit trackers on Pinterest. You can put one in your bullet journal or create one to print out.
I’ve designed a couple different habit trackers for myself, and I’ve added them to my shop as well for those of you who would be blessed by a little (or a lot, like me) of accountability for your new habits. One is a tracker for one habit at a time. Maybe you are trying to add a bit of exercise each day. Or laundry. Or packing lunch the night before. Or daily time in God’s Word. When you succeed, color in the heart for that day. There is a key at the bottom so you can chose a different shade of each color for different responses. Light pink for “kinda did it” and dark pink or red for “yes! did it with gusto!” You choose!
The monthly seasonal habit trackers have room for multiple habits. These are great for keeping track of established habits while you add others, or if you are like me, just start with several at once and see how you do. These have artwork to match each month, and religious and non religious options for the holiday months.
Habit trackers are great for two reasons (maybe more, let me know in the comments if I missed any!) First, some of us, like my teen daughter, will make a point of doing the new habit so there won’t be any holes in her tracker. She’s very upset when she can’t color something off, so she’s careful to stay on track. For the rest of us, it acts as a tool to see how you are progressing. It helps to show you where you may need to pay more attention, or whether your “occasional going to bed without brushing your teeth” is becoming the norm again. Whether it is accountability or a tool to help you see, habit trackers are one way to help you accomplish your goals!
Did you start working on a new habit this year? Did you mean to? It’s not too late. Find an accountability partner, create a habit tracker of your own, or pop over to my shop to grab one of mine! Let me know in the comments… what are you working on this year? I’d love to cheer you on!
I mentioned the other day that if I were going to pick one word to focus on in the new year, it would be “transformation”. I choose this because there are so many areas of my life that need it… change I mean. I’ve let myself get into a series of bad habits over the last few years and something needs to change.
I want to be different and the only way to do that is to start by doing things differently.
First of all, a look at God’s Word.
Where does the Bible say we should start a transformation? Romans 12:2 says we will “be transformed by the renewal of our minds.” But what are we to renew our minds with?
There are so many things in this world that could help us to renew our minds. Many claim the power of “positive thinking” or “affirmations”. They say that telling ourselves we are enough, worthy, valuable… that these things will change us, but they aren’t the way the Bible tells us to renew our mind. The Bible tells us that we should be renewing our minds with “whatever is true… honorable… just… pure… lovely… commendable.” (Philippians 4:8) It goes on to say that, “if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
The truth is that, as much as we like to think we are, we aren’t enough, worthy, or valuable in and of ourselves. It is only Christ and his redemptive work on the Cross (i.e. that he gave His live that we may be forgiven for our sins) that make us anything. We are not enough… He is! We are not worthy… He is! We are not valuable, except that He thinks we are. Most of the affirmations out there don’t fulfill the Philippians 4:8 mandate, but there are so many truths in Scripture that do and can build us up if we will set our minds on them. I saw a need for these sorts of things out on the internet (shameless plug ahead) when I created my Encouraging Words and posted about them back in November, and my Christmas version last month (post here).
God’s Word is the truth we should be renewing our minds with! Buying little cards or making your own are a tool you can use to keep those truths in front of you, but they cannot take the place of regular, daily time spent reading, memorizing, and thinking about His Word- the Bible! If we want change in our lives: weight loss, anger management, self-control; we must start by renewing our minds with God’s Word.
I’m going to admit that I haven’t been making this a priority lately. Days are busy and start without me sometimes. I miss more days than I care to admit. It can happen to anyone. When we don’t make a point to spend time reading and studying, praying and worshiping, we won’t do it. We will fall away. And our minds will be renewed by the words of the world instead. We need to make God’s Word a habit. We need to renew our minds with His Word. Every other change starts with this one!
I mentioned briefly that I much prefer to look ahead to the new year than to look back. New holds promise. The Bible tells us that joy comes in the morning and that is just the way I feel looking at the new year. Anne of Green Gables is noted to have said, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” The new year doesn’t either! As we stand at the threshold of 2024, it’s a fitting time to reflect on the journey of the past year, letting go of those parts we’ve already sought forgiveness for, and to seek God’s wisdom for the days to come. This moment invites us to pause, acknowledging His presence in our lives, and to consider the path He has laid out for us.
How can we use this time for His glory?
Reflect on God’s Faithfulness
In addition to looking back and letting go of the guilt and shame of our forgiven failures, we also want to consider God’s faithfulness this past year! Remember the answered prayers, unexpected blessings, and moments of growth. By acknowledging His hand in my life, I nestle in closer to the intimate relationship He wants with me.
Pray with Purpose
Take intentional time in prayer, bringing our joys, sorrows, and desires before the Lord. Seek His guidance and wisdom as you review the choices and decisions of the past year. Allow your prayers to be a conversation with God, surrendering your plans and desires to His perfect will.
Set Christ-Centered Goals
As you consider your goals for the new year, strive to align them with God’s Word. Instead of focusing solely on personal achievements, think about how your goals can contribute to God’s kingdom and reflect His love to those around you.
Instead of “lose 50 pounds”, think, “I will present my body as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) and “practice what God’s Word says about self-control” (2 Peter 1:5-10). Whatever your goals this year, based them on Scripture and ask God to help you!
Challenge yourself to embrace personal transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit. Identify areas of your life where you can grow. Allow God to shape and mold you into the person He has designed you to be, acknowledging that true fulfillment comes from aligning your life with His purpose.
Some people choose one word to focus on in the new year. I’ve done this, but I’m not very good at keeping with it. If I were to choose one word for this new year, it would be transformation. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” I want God to transform my life for His glory this year, using His Word to renew and transform me. Let God’s Word renew and transform your own life this year!
Community and Accountability
Recognize the importance of community in your journey. Engage with fellow believers who can offer support, encouragement, and accountability. Share your goals with trusted friends or a mentor, allowing them to walk alongside you as you pursue a Christ-centered life.
In the upcoming year, let your foundation be firmly “rooted and built up in [Jesus]” (Colossians 2:7). As we embark on this new chapter, let us remember the words of Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
If habit trackers are your thing, I have a couple in my shop.
May your new year be filled with the peace that surpasses all understanding, rooted in a deep relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As I sit here in the last days of 2023, I like to take a few minutes to look back over the year. Actually, I don’t love it, but I find myself doing it anyway. What I really want to do is look forward to how I’m going to make the next year better, but as I start to do that, I find myself realizing that all the “new” things I hope for next year have their root in the disappointments of the year rounding up. Yuck. It’s full of failure, sin, and shame! I feel like the list of things I want to get better at and the sins I want victory over is longer than the success list!
Each year as Christmas ends and I really start thinking about it all, my mind travels back to a New Year’s from years ago when it happened to be on a Sunday. Our pastor preached a sermon that touched my heart! Instead of talking about setting goals for the new year, he focused on letting go of the old one—saying good-bye to all the mess-ups and sins we still carry around even after repenting from them.
He reminded us that when we ask God for forgiveness, those sins get nailed to the cross. Not only doesn’t carrying them into the new year make sense, we aren’t supposed to do it! All the guilt and shame that I tend to carry around without realizing it need to be put off.
It was a simple but powerful reminder to start fresh and not drag the old stuff along. That sermon inspired a painting that I’ve remade many of the years since. Here is this year’s for you to download if you would like! I hope it is a blessed reminder to your heart as it is to mine!
Without much snow to speak of, winter made it’s official beginning today. I thought I’d pop in before it’s tomorrow! Christmas is coming, but winter is here and will be here for some time. In central PA, we generally get the bulk of our winter in January and February, so we aren’t surprised when we can get some work done outside this late in December.
With winter here and Christmas a few days away, I wanted to pause everything else and wish you a Merry Christmas! I’m still working on new things for the shop, alongside baking and trying to shake this chest cold. I hope your Christmas is just the right temperature for you and full of health!
Tis the season for decorating and bringing Christmas joy to our families through our efforts, and I love the idea of bringing our coffee bars and cocoa bars (for those of us who go that way) along with us. Whether you’re an avid coffee enthusiast or just love the cozy ambiance of a well-decorated space, these simple and creative ideas will help you turn your coffee corner into a Christmas haven.
Festive Mug Display
Mugs and decor I’ve gathered over the years. The coffee sign you can find in my shop!
Start by showcasing your favorite holiday mugs. Arrange them on a tiered tray or floating shelves, and mix and match designs for a charming, eclectic look. Add a touch of greenery or tiny ornaments to each mug for an extra festive touch.
Seasonal Flavors and Garnishes
Update your coffee bar with seasonal flavors like peppermint, gingerbread, or cinnamon. Display the syrups in decorative bottles and arrange fresh cinnamon sticks or candy canes in jars for an inviting visual appeal. These additions not only enhance the flavor of your coffee but also add a delightful aroma to the space.
String Lights and Garland
Embrace the warm glow of the season by draping your coffee bar with string lights or fairy lights. Twine them around shelves, cabinets, or hang them along the edges. Add a touch of greenery with Christmas garlands to complete the look.
Themed Coffee Station Signs
You can find the digital files for this sign in my shop. It’s not specifically Christmas, but will fit all year with your other decor.
Create charming signs or chalkboards with festive coffee-related quotes or greetings. Use holiday-themed fonts and colors to match the Christmas spirit or place something simple into a Christmas space. Place these signs strategically around your coffee bar to add a personal and welcoming touch or set them front and center.
Adorn with Ornaments
Utilize Christmas ornaments and decor to creatively decorate your coffee bar. Hang them from the shelves, attach them to garlands, or place them in glass jars. Choose ornaments that complement your overall decor theme and color scheme.
Seasonal Coasters and Napkins
Swap out your regular coasters and napkins for festive alternatives. Look for holiday-themed designs or colors that resonate with the Christmas spirit. It’s a small detail that can make a big difference in tying together the overall look of your coffee bar.
Transforming your coffee bar for Christmas doesn’t have to be complicated. By incorporating these simple and creative ideas, you can infuse your space with the warmth and joy of the holiday season. So, brew a cup of your favorite seasonal coffee, sit back, and savor the magic of Christmas in your beautifully decorated coffee nook.
Can you feel the magic of the Christmas season approaching? It’s here! While I know that sometimes Christmas is hard, it’s that time of the year when we want to infuse joy, warmth, and a sprinkle of creativity into some unforgettable memories. As we kick off December, we are thrilled to introduce our latest tool for creating your own Christmas wonderland – the Pastel Gingerbread Clipart Collection, now available in my shop!
🎨 Unveiling the Delightful Pastel Palette
Our Pastel Gingerbread Clipart Collection is not your traditional festive fare. We’ve added a touch of whimsy with a pastel palette that brings a fresh and modern spin to the classic gingerbread charm. Imagine soft mint greens and dreamy pinks adorning your Christmas projects. Whether you’re designing greeting cards, invitations, or DIY decor, these whimsical gingerbread illustrations are sure to add a dash of sweetness and sophistication.
More Than Just Clipart: Unleashing Your Creativity 💡
But wait, I want to do more than just introduce our new clipart collection. We want to help you on your creative journey. With this in mind, here are some bonus tips to elevate your holiday designs and make the most of our Pastel Gingerbread Clipart:
1. Mix and Match Textures: Combine our clipart with various textures like watercolor backgrounds, glitter overlays, or even rustic paper for a multidimensional effect.
2. Create Cozy Holiday Scenes: Build heartwarming holiday scenes by pairing our gingerbread characters with complementary elements like snowflakes, hot cocoa mugs, and twinkling lights.
3. Personalize Your Projects: Infuse your unique style by customizing the clipart with personalized touches, such as adding names, dates, or even turning them into adorable holiday avatars.
4. DIY Gift Tags and Labels: Elevate your gift-giving game by incorporating our clipart into DIY gift tags and labels. It’s a thoughtful touch that makes presents even more special.
5. Share the Joy: Spread the festive cheer by using the clipart to create digital wallpapers, social media posts, or e-cards to share with friends and family.
Where to Find Our Pastel Gingerbread Clipart 🎁
Ready to embark on a journey of festive creativity? Visit my Etsy shop to explore the Pastel Gingerbread Clipart Collection and unlock a world of artistic possibilities.