Miracles in the Mundane

Miracles in the Mundane

My friend, Dacia, runs her own business from home and has two adorable little kids.  She recently posted on her IG stories about being home alone and randomly catching herself calling out “what?”  She just laughed about it and said, “that’s how many times my name (aka ‘mom’) has been called in the last 24 hours … I’m just conditioned to call out ‘what?’ every so often.”

If that doesn’t sum up the life of a mom, I don’t know what does.  

Motherhood is made up of countless mundane habits and tasks repeated over and over and over again, punctuated by thrills of novelty.  Motherhood is answering to “mama” so much, so often, that you can hear it ringing in your ears long after your children are put to bed.  It is chopping up food into bite size pieces for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and snack, and then washing the highchair, sweeping the floor, wiping the hands, and cleaning the bib after each meal.  It is pushing the toddler on the swing until your arms are numb, but her giggles somehow infuse the strength in your limbs to continue.  It is nightly zipping him up into soft pajamas and getting sloppy, sticky kisses professing his undying love, even when you feel you don’t deserve it.

Sometimes the monotony of motherhood can feel overwhelming.  Your job is never done, your tasks never complete.  A lawyer can deliver a beautiful closing argument and close her case.  A surgeon can mend a heart, then wash her hands from the surgery and go home.  An artist can paint the last stroke on a canvas, then seal up her paints and hang the art in a gallery.  Yet a mother kisses a boo-boo, washes behind dirty ears, mops a kitchen floor, folds soon-to-be dirtied clothes, and then prepares to redo it all the next day.

As a work-from-home mom, I have been guilty many times of looking at these monotonous tasks as the things keeping me from more meaningful work.  I have looked at women in other seasons of life, maybe without children or maybe with older, more independent children, and envied their freedom to go after dreams or callings or giftings that God has given them.  If I didn’t spend so much time serving my toddler and pre-schooler, would I have written my book by now?  If my mind didn’t feel so numb at the end of a needy day, would I be farther along in what I think my ministry should look like?  Am I less valuable to the world and the Kingdom since I spend all day scraping up dried gummies from the kitchen floor and fishing random items out of my baby’s mouth?  Am I showing my daughters how to be a dynamic, world-changing woman if my biggest accomplishment that day was successfully clipping my one-year-old pterodactyl’s fingernails?

This never-ending repetition of a mother’s tasks can feel like the very thing holding you back from getting the “good” work done.  But what if, in fact, these mundane tasks are where the miracle is?

GK Chesterton wrote, “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.  They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.  For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.  But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.  It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon.  It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.  It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

It’s okay, go ahead and read it again to let it sink in.  Bro. GK was speaking straight to my heart.

Now, the daily (hourly) task of diaper changes may not at first appear as glorious as the way the sun daily rises, but they both carry a hint of the consistency for which our Father is known.  He has a limitless imagination, yet He has been content for thousands of years to keep on creating daisies with sunny yellow centers and long white petals.

God is known for His unchanging, consistent, never-failing ways.  He doesn’t look at the sun and say, “I need excitement!  How about you rise from the west today?”  He doesn’t look at Monday and say, “I just created you last week.  I’m tired of it.  Let’s just not do Monday this week.”  He doesn’t look at the lilies and say, “My glory and worth are better shown in big, public arenas.  Clothing you is not worth my time.”  No, He doesn’t say that at all.

Matthew 6:28-30 says, “And why take ye thought for raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”

He arranges petal on lilies in the field that won’t even last a day.  He tells the sea at each tide how far to come in.  He holds the earth up every second of every minute in the vastness of space.  He creates winter, spring, summer, and fall, and then starts all over again without fail.  He provides us with new mercies each and every morning.

Yes, He does great and mighty miracles – stories that we pass down to our children and their children.  He heals blinded eyes and gives children to the barren and shrinks tumors and speaks in rolls of thunder.  But are those moments of loud, earth-shaking, breath-taking feats of His power more “important” than the daily acts of sustaining and protecting and speaking and leading and guiding He does for us all?  Would we dare tell God that His unfailing consistency isn’t as miraculous as the moments He surprises us?

If God can be glorified in the consistent clothing of the lily, then surely He can be glorified in my consistent tasks of mothering.  Surely He looks at the mother, wiping her little one’s runny nose for the tenth time that day, with the same reckless love with which He looks at the one standing on stage speaking to hundreds.  He is God of the unimaginable universe, yet He counts our hairs one by one on our head.  Surely I can slow down enough to read my daughter her favorite book a few more (hundred) times.

The never-ending repetition of a mother’s tasks is not the thing holding us back from getting to the “good” work.  It’s not what we need to check off a to-do list before finally going after our calling or gifting or purpose.  Maybe God is taking this time in the trenches to mold us mamas into an image more like Him? Maybe it is a season where He is using the monotony to strip the excess off us.  Maybe it’s not always the loud moments of acclaim on social media, but the quiet moments in the basement folding clean footed jammies that He looks at us and says, “Yes, I see My light reflecting from her.”

There are God-reflecting miracles in the daily mundane of motherhood.  There is beauty and glory and power in the daily sweeping and disciplining and cooking.  We just have to look closely not to miss them.

Free Coloring Pages

Free Coloring Pages

Either two days ago or twenty-five years ago, our country started preparing for a global pandemic.  I’ve honestly lost all notion of time at this point.  Ha!

But here we are, an uncertain amount of time later, with our children home from school, restaurants shut down, events cancelled, churches changing their methods, doctors issuing new warnings every day, and not one loaf of bread to be found for miles.

While I feel small and insignificant in light of the chaos that is going on, I serve a God Who is bigger than it all.  I didn’t want this time to pass without doing what I could to make a difference.  Now, I can’t cure the virus or calm all the panic or create toilet paper.  I’m even highly doubtful of my bread baking abilities. But I can use my voice and my art to try and shine a light.

So I have created an 8-page digital coloring book filled with hope and trust and faith in Someone bigger than us.  My idea for these pages is two-fold.  One, your children are now home 24/7 with no outside activities to engage them. (Don’t worry, I included several non-floral designs for the little men in your life.) 

Our children are little sponges, and can soak in stress and worry that we think we have hidden.  These coloring pages are an activity that they can do that has been steeped in prayer.  As they color them, you can use that time to explain the words on each page and what they mean to you.  When was the last time you explained “peace” to your four-year-old?  Somehow the process of condensing down these big ideas into easily-understandable ones for children makes them come alive in a new way. 

That leads me to the second purpose of these pages.  I think they would be great for adults of all ages.  You can color them with crayons or markers, or you can download them onto your tablet and color them in your favorite art app.  The act of coloring is slow and methodical.  It is perfect for those of us who have racing, busy minds.  Let the time spent filling in each stoke be a time that points you to the Peace Speaker.  Think about the words on the page and how they are related to what the Promise Maker has spoken over our lives.  Turn off social media for a bit and make something with your own two hands.  Give Him an opportunity to speak to you.

This may sound crazy and a bit much to put upon a coloring book, but God has used smaller things to minister to His people before.  And we don’t really have time right now to do anything without making God a part of it.  We are literally relying on Him for our daily bread in some cities and towns.  If we approach Him boldly and expecting to hear from Him, I have no doubt He will meet us there.  

(This set of coloring pages is completely free, and don’t worry – I’m not asking for your e-mail either. It’s simply a free gift – no strings attached!) There is a User Guide included in the download link that will hopefully answer any questions you may have about using the coloring pages. I hope it blesses you!  And I hope you have some fun!

The Flourish Studio

The Flourish Studio

Welcome to The Flourish Studio! I am so excited for this rebrand for my little business. At the end of 2019, I knew that God was leading me somewhere specific for 2020. It wasn’t like this big push or loud voice from Heaven, but more of a gentle nudging to dive in deeper.

I started this hand lettering business in March of 2019 under my own name as a way to share the projects I was working on and maybe make a few extra dollars for our family. As the year unfolded, it grew and changed and became something that I was really excited to be a part of! And I felt it was time to get a business name and actually do this thing!

I believe that no detail is too small to God. When choosing the name for my business, I prayed and asked Him to show me what He wanted this space to be.  What purpose did He have in mind? And for the longest time I felt like He was silent. Well, more accurately, I felt Him there and knew He was speaking. But I couldn’t quite understand it or hear it. You know what I mean? I’m like, “God, if you could just send me a text message that would be grrrrreat.”

After a time, I felt led to the story of Habakkuk. It’s a short book in the Bible, and it’s a conversation between a prophet and God. He asks God why He is silent in the face of such evil, and he asks for an answer for the problems facing his people. He waits until God speaks, and God’s first words are in verse 2.

“And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Habakkuk 2:2

Now, the following vision and message is remarkable. Habakkuk’s response is convicting and beautiful. But it was that verse that stopped me in my tracks. I pulled up every study resource I could find to dive into what all it meant.

Write the vision. Record the vision. Describe, engrave, write what God has spoken.

Make it plain. Make it clear. Explain it and declare it. (Or in my case, make it covered in florals. Ha!)

That he may run that readeth it. Now this is the part that gets me. It’s not saying that once you read what God’s spoken you can now go do a 5K. Thank the Lord. Because the only time I run is toward cake. Nope, this is talking about the act of being a herald. A messenger. You know those old medieval movies where the king sends out a rider on his fastest horse to run ahead of him and deliver his message? It’s that guy. One who runs ahead of the army and declares, proclaims, and cries out the vision that the King entrusted to him. That’s what God is asking us all to do.

Find the good news in Him. Record the great things He has declared to His people. Make it clear so that everyone can comprehend the hopeful future He has laid out for us. Then run with glorious freedom, declaring that hope to the world.

Um, wow. Yes, I want to be a part of that mission! Don’t you?!

I felt like God was telling me to write and run. That was it! My direction. But, “Write and Run” isn’t a very great business name. And there’s also the pesky detail of my inability to physically run with any speed at all. It would just be confusing. Ha!

So, with alllll of that being said, here’s how I landed on The Flourish Studio and how it fits the mission that I am on in 2020.

Flourish has multiple meanings. One meaning of flourish is a calligraphy term. It’s the flowy, elegant little swirls and “extras” added to the letters. Flourishes are decorative details. Habakkuk may have written the vision on a tablet of stone, but I can’t help but add some florals and colors.

Flourish also means to thrive or to grow and prosper. When I think of that person reading the vision and then running, I see a woman who just dropped the weight of the world off her shoulders. I see a woman who has found her meaning in God and is now ready to run with beautiful abandon, not letting anything slow her down. I see a woman who is ready to thrive, not just survive.

I hope that every piece of art you may see from The Flourish Studio or every blog post or article you may read here directs you to the vision Giver. I pray that the painted Bibles, with all their details and colors, draw you in to spending more time in the Word. I pray that the hand-lettered signs and illustrations of your families remind you of God’s goodness and provision in your life. I pray that any words I share are for the sole purpose of helping us run in the mission. Helping us see the miracles in the mundane – the hope in the hurting – and how God is in the midst of all of it.

Thank you so much for letting me share a bit of my heart with you today. I am really excited to move forward in a clearer direction this year. And I’m so thankful that you are a part of it with me!

Roaring Twenties

Roaring Twenties

Is there another decade in American history more iconic than the Roaring Twenties? This decade marked new “freedoms” in the American culture. The economy boomed, there was a surge of new technologies that enabled more people to have cars, radios, washing machines – even sliced bread. Women were given the right to vote, entered the work force, got on birth control, and adopted a new culture and style. Flappers were the image of the Roaring Twenties, which “rejected many traditional moral standards.” (Dictionary.com)
The Roaring Twenties epitomizes a feeling of shedding moral constrictions, defying social norms, living lavishly, and worshipping culture.
It kind of feels like we’re back in the Roaring Twenties already, right?! Well, I propose we take back that title and make this decade the new Roaring Twenties. In this decade actually being a woman confident in her own skin and femininity and God-given identity is breaking a cultural norm. In this decade bringing back decency and modesty and personal convictions IS breaking a cultural norm. Abstaining from secular music and R-rated movies and media applauding immorality IS breaking a cultural norm.
We are a new generation ROARING, not about our personal freedoms and abilities to live recklessly, but ROARING about the God we serve, the freedom He gave us through His death, and the ability to live a life set apart to give Him the glory. We are ROARING to make His Name famous. We are ROARING that He created man and woman in His own image. We are ROARING that we choose to shed the trappings of this world in favor of choosing Him and only Him. We are ROARING that you’re not truly free until you take on His yoke.
We are the new Roaring Twenties, and we will not be silent. 

All is Not Calm

All is Not Calm

I feel like there should be a name for that indescribable feeling at Christmas.  That bittersweet mix of jubilation and unrest.  The hope of promises fulfilled and the unfulfilled yearning for more.  We sing of peace on earth, but often feel our deepest pains more acutely.

Sometimes you face Christmas holding hope and joy in one hand and grief and sorrow in the other.  Grief takes on a new form during holidays.  Loss seems greater.  Pain seems louder.  But joy takes on a new form, too.  Surrounded by the glittery lights and wrapped packages, our hearts are often turned to what we are really thankful for.  The excess somehow points its way back to the roots.

I think that first Christmas was the epitome of that indescribable feeling.  Such deep sorrow, such deep joy.  If you are struggling this year holding space for both extremes, you are in good company.  If your grief seems to overshadow your joy, or your celebrations dim in light of your loss, maybe you’re even closer to the whole point of this celebration anyway.

We sing “all is calm, all is bright,” but those aren’t words I would necessarily assign to that first Christmas.  I don’t think that first Christmas was perfect.  It wasn’t magical and glittery and full of cheer.  I don’t think Michael Buble was sitting outside the stable doors crooning “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  I don’t think Mary sipped on a decaf white peppermint mocha out of a red cup between pain-free contractions.  I kind of doubt Joseph had the perfect gift for Mary wrapped in elegant wrapping paper and tied with a bow just sitting next to the horse trough.  I don’t think all was calm.  Or bright.  

Jesus, perfection Himself, didn’t come to the world wrapped in perfection.  He didn’t just appear, glowing and bright and saturating everyone in peace.

No, He came to the world in a surge of pain. Mary, screaming and pushing.  Joseph, sweating and praying.  Jesus, wet and crying.  When man fell and sin was introduced, God wrapped child-bearing in pain and sorrow.   Did He look forward into time and see how great a sorrow Mary would experience when bringing forth His son?  Why did He choose such a vulnerable way to bring salvation to the world? Why did He choose pain?  Surely He could have chosen a safer way.  One without risks.  Without stretching and ripping and pushing and agony.  

Mary and Joseph were all alone in that stable.  No one had room for them.  No one included them.  No one cared that she was in labor, that she held the key to their salvation.

Where were their family members? Everyone was traveling to Bethlehem with them.  Wasn’t there anyone to reach out or give up their bed?  Wasn’t there anyone to bring them a casserole or cut the cord or sweep out the stable? 

No doctor.  No epidural.  No ice chips.  No monitors checking the baby’s heart rate.  No nurse instructing how to push.  No family members pacing the halls.  No bed.  No crib.  No comfort.

All wasn’t calm, and all wasn’t bright.

Mary had carried that glorious secret for nine months.  She had suffered gossip and rumors and misunderstandings.  She was kept at arm’s length by a new husband.  She had to make a difficult trip carrying a full-term baby.  She started contractions on a donkey.  Labored in a stable.  Birthed on straw and dirt.  

If I were her, I would have imagined that the Savior’s birth would have immediately and visibly changed everything.  I would have believed that the world would take notice.  That all wounds would have been instantly mended.  That life would become new.  

And it did.  But not in the way that changed their situation.  Life was made new.  The life-giver was wrapped in rags and laying in a manger probably still sticky from the horse feed.  How do you reconcile that?  How do you reconcile your greatest hopes and prayers – an entire nation’s greatest hopes and prayers for hundreds of years – arriving in the most helpless, vulnerable way?  All alone?  

Surely Joseph and Mary felt it.  Surely the presence of God ushered into that room with the final push in a way that no one had yet experienced Him.  Surely all their doubting was replaced with certainty.  Surely they looked into the face of the Messiah and felt a peace indescribable.

But that overwhelming joy, that promise fulfilled, didn’t change their situation.  The innkeeper didn’t suddenly come rushing out and make space for the newborn King.  Mary still had to finish the birthing process.  Her pain and bleeding and recovery didn’t stop.  Their lowly surroundings and discomfort and danger on their lives weren’t immediately eased and comforted.

The nursery Mary had prepared at home lay empty while she struggled to find something to wrap her baby in not covered in hay.  The moment all creation had been yearning for had passed, and who had noticed?

That first Christmas wasn’t “perfect.

It was lonely and dark.  Cold and smelly.  Loud and painful.  Maybe disappointing.  Probably confusing.

But the Promise was made flesh.  They could now hold on to their hope with both hands.

Maybe your Christmas season isn’t perfect this year.  Maybe you have worked to string the lights and bake the cookies and sing the songs, but your heart is carrying a hidden pain.  Maybe someone is missing from the table this year.  Maybe it doesn’t look like what you had hoped it would by now.  Maybe you feel less than, ill-equipped, unworthy, broken, or doubtful.  Maybe you are trying to reconcile the joy Christ brings and the sorrow brought by this world.

I can think of no better way to honor the King of Kings than to bring our broken pieces to Him.

This yearning that can’t be described?  C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity wrote “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This year, instead of allowing our hurts and wounds and doubt to drag us further from Him, let’s give it to Him.  He’s not afraid of pain or of questions.  He’s not afraid of doubts or loneliness.  That’s how He chose to came to the world.  He chose to come in pain and leave in pain.  So why would we think He can’t handle ours?

Whatever it is you’re holding in your hands this season – grief, joy, sorrow, hopes, disappointments – the good news is that you don’t have to hold it alone.  We yearn for Heaven while experiencing Heaven on earth.  We can rejoice for the peace He brought while still fighting for that peace on earth.  We can sing “Joy to the World” in a world filled with doubt and pain because both are true.

All may not be calm.  But the beauty is that it doesn’t have to be.