One step at a time.

pc: Penny Hayward









My darling two year old daughter is turning three next month… and if I didn’t know better, I’d think she was turning fourteen. The sassiness is unending as she tries to declare herself independent — a “big girl”, and I can feel myself coming undone not only at the thought of her actually growing up (there’s nothing I can do to stop that, right?) but each time she pushes back at my gentle (and #truestory sometimes not so gentle…) guidance.

And just when I think I can’t handle one more blatant opposition to my asking her to put her shoes on so we can leave or go to the potty so she doesn’t have an accident she says it one. more. time.


What the heck, kid!? Seriously. Haven’t you learned by now that I’m your mom and I love you and I’m only here to help you learn and grow and not pee yourself? I feed you and love you and hug you and we laugh together and cry together and play together. You depend on me for EV. RY. THING. and yet you still oppose me on the simplest of instructions.

I know with my daughter that this is simply a milestone. One where she’s learning her independence and asserting herself. Learning boundaries, pushing them, pressing beyond them, and swinging back to center. Competencies, as a parent, I hope to both foster and help hone in her as she grows. Beautiful, wonderful, vital skills that will be used her whole life long.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s how God operates with me these days — hitting me over the head with bricks. That’s really the only way to get my attention right now since I’m constantly being pulled in approximately fourteen different directions by two small children, head spinning, mind racing, having to make decisions in a snap all day long to keep us all from physically and emotionally perishing. I know some of you feel me on that.

The brick came and fell fast and hard:

I don’t want to, either.

I don’t want to do what you’re asking me to do, God. I don’t want to.

I don’t want to be a writer, I don’t want to put myself out there. I don’t want to be vulnerable and share my words and be exposed — naked for the whole world to see and judge. I just don’t want it. It doesn’t feel safe.

Recently, God placed a new calling in my hands. One that feels uncomfortable and strange. It doesn’t feel like it quite fits me yet. It’s not something I wanted to do or asked to do or prayed for, but something I’m being trained up to do by obediently walking with Him. One step at a time.

He asked me to write. He gave me a gift and told me to use it and is opening doors and giving me space to do so. I don’t know what this is supposed to look like, but He continues to promise me that He will give me the words to say if only I will do my part by sticking by His side and putting pen to paper… or fingers to keyboard.

So, here goes, my friends. Here goes…


An interview with Alisa.

Alisa and I met back in junior high and have recently reconnected through the wonderful worldwide web! She is a self-taught painter, creator, and lover of art and is currently working as a painting instructor sharing her love of creating with others.
Like her Facebook page and check out her Etsy shop to stay up to date on what she’s been working on!

Tell me a little bit about your background and how you got started creating:
Creation has always been a huge part of my life. As a child, imagination was my biggest tool no matter what I was doing. I would create make-believe stories and games to occupy my time and I think this was the root of my love of creating. Imagination is endless and was such a powerful influence on me and still is today. I don’t think it was until my early college years that people starting referring to my products of imagination as “Art” and ever since I have just embraced that term and went with it.

Do you consider yourself an artist? (Why or why not) And how does it make you feel to think of yourself as one?
I think ever since I changed majors in college to focus on art I have been chasing down the title of “Artist” to be it and to fully understand it. I would work on pieces and always have that question in the back of my head, “Am I a real artist yet?” I felt I was always trying to qualify for this vague but crème de la crème status. It was just the way we were trained to think about art in school I think. It seemed the title “Artist”  was put on a pedestal and became this elite, almost unobtainable thing by certain definitions and it couldn’t apply to you unless what you did was the best, the most controversial, the most unique. While I still think those elements can play a big role in how people see your work, they don’t play a role in how I define myself anymore. Yes, I am an Artist. I have always been one; anyone can be if they use their imagination and passion.  If you create anything, you are an artist in my mind.

What are you currently working on and how do you find inspiration for your pieces?
Although I graduated with an Art degree, I never actually did any painting in school and that has become my primary focus as of late. I’m teaching myself to paint! I am a painting instructor now as my full time job, but everything I have learned I have taught myself through trial and error and some awesome Bob Ross videos. Right now I work mostly in acrylics and I am just now embarking on discovering watercolors which is becoming my new favorite thing. I am currently working on writing and illustrating my own children’s book in my spare time and I am also working on a series of nature inspired portraits incorporating animal and plant elements. I’m really inspired by the magical realm of nature and anything fantastical so I try to make that visible in some way in a lot of the things I’m working on.
Sister Bear

You recently had the opportunity to show your paintings at RAW:natural born artists in Columbus, Ohio. Tell me about your experience showing your work and preparing for the show: 
RAW was a great experience for me. Being out in the real world, with a real job, and real responsibilities it is really hard to keep your creative flow going and keep making your art. RAW was awesome because it got me motivated to really focus on my art and pump out a good body of work to show. This being one of my first “real” shows I was very nervous about how I would compare to other, probably more trained and experienced artists, but I found this wasn’t a factor at all. It was amazing to network with all the other artists and create new contacts and resources with them. RAW showcases every kind of art from visual to performing to hair and makeup artists…It was really cool to play a part in this collaborative artistic effort.

Do you enjoy any creating with any other artistic mediums? If so, what are they?
You name it, I’ll try it. I love making and I don’t even care what it is, I would like to at least attempt it once. I absolutely love photography and do that on the side as well when given the time.

What has been your biggest struggle as an artist?
My biggest struggle has been getting over the expectations of what an artist is supposed to be and if I was good enough to claim that title. Changing the way I thought of myself in this sense was a process, but now I have a different outlook on it. I create for myself now and not others and it is made me so much happier along with really improving the quality of my art. I feel another main struggle is just simply finding the time to be creative; it is definitely something you have to fight to include in your busy everyday life.

What do you consider to be your greatest victory or success?
Every time I finish a new piece, it is my greatest victory. I learn something new on every piece I work on and the next project is always the next greatest victory. The feeling of finishing something you have poured yourself into is unreal. I think it is the reason I start a new project in the first place, I love to finish it and relish that satisfaction of hard work realized.

paper clouds

Do you have any parting words of wisdom or advice for other creatives?
Don’t listen to the inner critic…Shut them up and do it. Enjoy the process, and finally, the fruits of your labor. Most importantly just keep making. We have to find the time, but when we do it is time well spent. Creation really does nourish the soul and keeps our insides happy :)


IMG_5968.JPGOne morning, about a week ago, Andy and I were standing in the backyard drinking our coffee as we watched the kids play in the mid-morning light.

Mornings are sacred times to me. The quietness before our day of work begins — savoring moments together as a family and sipping coffee while Andy and I share little words with one another.

Our backyard is one of my most favorite places to savor these morning-times. It’s a safe place for me — for us — fully surrounded by a tall, wooden privacy fence that turns our tiny, ever-green and usually blooming backyard into a bit of a secluded wonderland. It is the closest thing we have to feeling like we have our own little space in this world, given that we live packed tightly into a cute little neighborhood with tiny houses and tiny yards surrounded by lots of neighbors.

As Andy and I were standing outside on the deck, he glanced over his shoulder toward our neighbor’s house and noticed a tree branch bobbing about. He drew my attention to the shivering limb exclaiming there was a cat in the tree! A cat?

I looked and looked and looked, but I couldn’t see it! I could see the tree swaying in a way that told me it was more than just the early breeze causing movement, but I certainly could NOT see a cat anywhere!

Andy continued to describe the precise placement of the cat to me to help me discover it’s location — that it was right by the bird feeder hanging in the tree if I would just look then I would see it.

I felt myself beginning to grow frustrated and then increasingly moreso as I continued to look directly AT the bird feeder and still there was absolutely NO cat in sight! I knew the cat had to be there, I trusted Andy, and I could see the tree moving, I just couldn’t see the cat anywhere at all. What was I missing?

As it turns out his 8 inches-taller-than-me height made a huge difference.

Andy was able to see over the fence to a lower-hanging bird feeder that was completely out of my view. All I could see from my physical standing point was a second one that was positioned on a limb higher up… one that should have had a cat perched next to it.

As Andy and I were having this discussion about the elusive cat, it reminded me of a million times that I stubbornly refused to hop up onto a chair to fully see things from his perspective. How many times have I been the fool who “takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Prov. 18:2? And how often have I been quick to speak and become frustrated or angry before truly taking the time to listen as we are encouraged to do in James 1:19?

My answer: more times than I’d like to admit. (Andy, this is my public and semi-formal apology to you! Thank you for being patient with me!)

And then I thought about God. (Because let’s just continue to be real here while I’m exposing my shortcomings: my first thoughts aren’t always about God…)

How many times have I prayed and spouted off my opinion about life? Been displeased with my circumstances, my physical body, my gifts… and how many times have I missed the point because I refused to see things from HIS perspective?

God tells us we are:

-Valuable to Him. Luke 12:7
-His masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10
-Loved and Chosen by Him. 1 Thessalonians 1:4

So what happens if we will commit to stop what we are doing (anyone else out there complaining and being stubborn like I am?) and climb up on a chair to see things from God’s perspective — to drop to our knees and humble ourselves to see what He is doing in our lives and how He loves us? To make space to truly hear from Him.

I believe that our lives could be transformed…


The Prayer of St. Francis:

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.



An interview with Fia.

Today I have the great pleasure of introducing you to illustrator, artist, feminist, mom — Fia Kilbourn. Fia was one of the very first friends I made when my husband and I moved to California just over three and a half years ago. She has inspired me with her courage to always speak her heart, and through her work with her ability to see and create life and beauty out of everyday things. Fia is also a fellow artist-momma and truly understands the juggling act required to be a full-time mother while maintaining time and space to be creative so we can be filled up and have the ability to give back to those who need us.


Tell me a little bit about your background and how you got started working as an illustrator:
I was a freelance graphic designer before I had my first child. I took a few years off from work after my daughter was born and when I decided I might want to start looking for work again, I didn’t really love the idea of doing graphic design. Around the same time, my daughter was really interested in drawing, or rather, asking me to draw things for her. It had been so long since I had sketched anything and it felt so good. I started checking out children’s drawing books whenever I took my daughter to the library. The first book I borrowed was Draw 50 Dinosaurs by Lee J. Ames because my daughter was in a huge dinosaur phase. The more I drew, the more right it felt. It felt like coming home after a long journey.

Do you consider yourself an artist? Why or why not and how does it make you feel to think of yourself as one?
I was always drawing and creating as early as I can remember, so I think that other than a time when I lost my way, I’ve always considered myself an artist. Almost everything I’ve been passionate about (drawing, dance, fashion) has been because creating things is my language. It’s how I respond to the world.

fia scarves

fia glasses

What is it about illustrating that excites you?
I love working with my hands. There is an intimacy with hand-drawn or hand-painted art that I missed when I was doing graphic design. I also love when I feel like I conveyed an idea the way I wanted to, when I feel like what was in my head is on paper.

What are your favorite subjects to illustrate and why? (Tell me about your current projects!)
I’m inspired by flowers, animals, fruit, fashion, hairstyles. Right now, I’m working on a project featuring 100 great women. Another artist I follow on Instagram (Nieves Waleska, @nwpb) recommended the 100 Day Project to me. I was inspired by the Women on 20s campaign and decided I wanted to illustrate great women in history for my project. I had recently started doing these hair portraits where I left a lot of white space on the face and the portraits for this project were just a natural extension of that. Highlighting the great things women have done is also a nice intersection of my art and my feminism. I’m trying to be as inclusive as I can be in my project, because it’s important for me to feature overlooked women and communities. That’s why I’m still looking for any suggestions on women to feature. I’m about halfway through the project and I still have room to add more women to my list.

Fia Frida

Fia lucille


Do you enjoy working in any other forms of art?
Very much. Sometimes I feel like I make even mundane things about artistic expression. Makeup, outfits. I do nail art. I even have a blog for my nail art. I used to dance. In fact, that is the art form I miss the most. I used to be in classes 5 days a week and I wish I could still be dancing that often, but I don’t have time in my life for it right now.

What is one of your biggest struggles as an artist and are there any struggles that you’ve overcome?
Right now my biggest struggles are time and space. I’m still a full-time caregiver for my children. My youngest son is with me all day and my daughter is with me for a half day. Some days I barely put anything in my sketchbook because I’m too exhausted or my kids are too clingy. My goal is to draw in my sketchbook once a day and I can usually accomplish that but sometimes I take up to a week off.

Space is another issue. I have a designated space on the bar in our family room, but it’s in the middle of everything. It’s sometimes hard to tune out what the rest of the family is doing.

In high school I had a destructive art teacher. She wrote some hurtful personal comments on the back of my paintings when she graded them. I was also in a senior art class with three other students and she gave the other students graduation cards glowing about their future in art, but my was just a generic congratulations. The omission was obvious. I still don’t know why she singled me out. She’s the reason I pursued graphic design instead of other forms of art. It took me awhile to get over it. I’m very grateful for my daughter encouraging me to draw again. I think overcoming that gave me confidence in myself as an artist. It helps to have the perspective of an adult now and realize what that teacher did was wrong.

Fia honeybee

Fia toast

As a fellow artist-momma how do you balance making time for art?
Ha! This question is so timely, because I recently took a break from my 100 Day Project to focus on my son and our upcoming move a little more. I think that is good and healthy, but that hasn’t stopped me from feeling a little bit guilty. And of course, when I’m working on my art, it’s hard not to feel selfish. I think the thing about life is that you never arrive and then stay there. Sometimes you can balance things and then sometimes you veer one way or the other and then you course correct. Life is always going to fall out of balance and we have to be comfortable with that and learn to make gradual changes back to center.

When it comes to your art, what do you consider to be one of your biggest successes or victories and what are you most proud of?
I’m proud of myself for “getting back on the horse” after so many years. Also, putting my work up on Instagram, learning to silence my inner critic and just share my work. It’s funny because some of the pieces I’m the most disappointed in my ability to translate from my head to paper are the pieces that connect with people.

Fia birds

fia bat

Do you have any advice for other creatives or budding illustrators?
I attended ICON8 last summer even though I wasn’t a student and I wasn’t working as an illustrator. It was a bit intimidating. I learned a lot but the two things I have been applying to my journey this past year are to try to draw something every day. Don’t get hung up on the what to draw, just draw. Hone your skill and style so when you have more time to focus on concept, you have the tools to accomplish it.

The other thing is to say yes. I have been approached a few times this year to work on things that I wasn’t sure if I had the time or I was intimidated by the scope, but I said yes anyway. It’s easy to get paralyzed by the what ifs so just make it a habit to say yes and then figure it out as you go along. All that being said, advice is so personal. It often assumes a common starting point, so if something doesn’t seem to fit your life, ignore my advice.


“What are you afraid of?”

My friend, Bonnie, asked me a few weeks ago as I timidly stepped around the ideas that I was holding in my heart — carefully straining them, sorting through them, before fully divulging them to her — a trusted friend.

She knew I was holding back, she heard it in my voice and I knew she felt it as I clamped a sweaty palm around my phone willing myself to be honest enough to fully answer her question…

“I’m afraid of being a failure. Of not being good enough, smart enough, expert enough to do what I feel in my heart I’m made to do. I’m terrified of being laughed at, misunderstood, and letting people down,” I told her.

I told my friend what I was afraid of.

And what happened next changed me forever.

“Now tell me what you want to do,” she said.

As I released my fears, moved them aside and refused their construction of a clamp around my heart, joy burst forth from the depths of my very being.

I poured my heart out to her.

My dreams, ideas, inspirations began to flow freely and I felt my heart lifting as a smile formed across my face. And I’m certain, if I had been standing in front of a mirror watching myself, I would have seen a sparkle in my eye — the manifestation of joy itself.

But why?

How did the act of voicing my fears make room for joy?

So, I decided to dive a bit deeper, and I began realizing that the fears I listed all hinged on one single lie I was believing — that my identity and worth comes from who people say I am.

I have been placing my identity and worth in the hands of man  — worrying deeply and intently about what people think of me and how they view me instead of resting in the truth of who I am in Christwho HE says I am:

Fearfully and wonderfully made.
(Psalm 139:14) 

(Philippians 4:13)

Equipped and able to do good.
(Hebrews 13:21)

Forgiven, made new, redeemed.
(2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 1:7)

Recognizing and letting go of the lies that captured my heart gave me freedom to see the Truth — to live fully in who I am in Christ! And continually soaking up the Truth, basking in it, marinating my mind with it will give me ammunition against future lies that will try to invade space in my heart.

Releasing fear makes room for joy.

So, I want to ask you, my friend.

What are you afraid of?