Hope...In The Desert {Launch + Sale!}

For those who know barrenness, waiting, thirst, and longing...

...those who know dry seasons of the soul...

...for the one who's cup isn't overflowing like it once did:

God makes a way in the wilderness. He provides rivers in the desert, and breaks up our fallow ground. He is the author of hope in, and through the desert.

I have known such desert seasons more than a few times in my life, and can confidently say there is nothing more satisfying than a parched soul whose thirst is quenched -- Jesus alone is our balm and sustainer in those seasons. 

I am grateful and thrilled to share with you the Hope in the Desert 2017 (3-in-1) Calendar.

My prayer for us is this:

That come what may in 2017, whether our current circumstances change or don't; whether we feel relief or not; whether we experience lush growth or press on in drought, we might hold fast to our HOPE in Christ, the source of living water, himself. 

As with the last year's Garden of Truth 2016 Calendar, the Hope in the Desert 2017 Calendar is meant to instruct, inspire, and encourage us as we speak to our longings with the truth of God's Word.

It is designed to be repurposed as (12) 8x10 art prints and (12) scripture memory cards. My desire is for us to find the Word of God beautiful, practical, transformative, and purposeful in our everyday lives. That is my heart behind every piece painted in GraceLaced Shoppe, but especially in our annual calendar. We hope you love this year's version as much as we do. 


WE ARE CELEBRATING WITH A SALE!

 

Now thru September 20, receive the entire 12 image Hope In the Desert Lock Screen download set, FREE with calendar purchase. (You will receive an email with FREE coupon code once you've purchased a calendar.)

(FYI: With the 20% storewide discount, our already discounted 4-pack bundles are only $120...making the calendars only $30 a piece!)

Take advantage of the 20% entire store on canvases, including brand new Hope In the Desert Canvas offerings...

I hope these verses are a balm to your soul as they are to mine as we break up the fallow ground of disbelief and hardness of heart, and welcome the downpour of sustaining grace that comes only by way of redemption. He is our hope in every season...even in the desert.

Grateful for you all. Press on, friends.

Because of grace,

 

Capturing Photos For Business and the Everyday

We hear the encouragement often to "be present" or "be in the moment" and clearly, this digital age has got us all distracted from what's alive and real, right before us. But as a mama, I long to capture these everyday moments that I have with my boys: the messes we make (and sometimes bemoan) but later wish we had captured in a photo or a picnic at the park; these boys are growing like weeds, and I don't want to miss a thing.

Capturing Photos For Business and the Everyday | gracelaced.com

But sometimes I'm worn out and distracted, and I teeter between freedom and guilt in capturing my everyday life. I love when I catch a candid photo, a moment that truly captures these ordinary but special days, as they truly are. Photos tell a story that our hearts want to remember long after the immediate memory fades.I want to tell the story the Lord has given me, but sometimes the photos don't reflect that story and I get frustrated. Do you get that way? 

Capturing Photos For Business and the Everyday | gracelaced.com

Capturing everyday moments with our families, whether with a DSLR (a "real" camera, i.e. the Nikon D750 I use) or phone, is easier when the tools and logistics are more natural than forced. My friend, Ashley Campbell of Under the Sycamore really embodies this. She truly inspires me to find the #extraordinaryinmyordinary through creatively seeing and capturing my everyday. 

Capturing Photos For Business and the Everyday | gracelaced.com

I love that Ashley encourages all of us non-professional photographers to use the tools we have to creatively tell our stories...and to find freedom in it. With the accessibility of excellent cameras in our back pockets these days, we really have every reason to document and capture our point of view.

Capturing Photos For Business and the Everyday | gracelaced.com

Ashley recently interviewed me for one of her SnapShop courses, "iPhone & Business." I don't have fancy camera crews or professional photographers for my business; I'm simply armed with my iPhone. If you've ever wondered about how I shoot my product photos, the interview tells all. 

Capturing Photos For Business and the Everyday | gracelaced.com
Capturing Photos For Business and the Everyday | gracelaced.com

We're all trying to live out our callings. We're all trying to bring praise to what He's done in our lives by telling our stories. I'm growing in this myself, day by day, and I hope you will too. Let's not be all or nothing people with photography and capturing our everyday. These are blessed and worthy moments and endeavors we are living, whether in home and business. Let's find freedom and growth in learning to see better, and capturing what we see with more wonder. I'm grateful that we don't have to be fancy or amazing to do so.

Capturing Photos For Business and the Everyday | gracelaced.com

SnapShop classes for both DSLR and iPhone are available through Ashley's membership site + community, where you can learn and grow at your own pace.  For $5 per month, you get access to all past lessons, with new content added each month. There is a $50 sign up fee (so worth it - the DSLR class alone used to be $250) but I’ve got a discount for you!

$10 off with code: GraceLaced

(code expires 9/16/16)


Learn more and join SnapShop here.


Pressing in and pressing on together,

 

*Some links in this post are affiliate links. Please see my disclosure in sidebar for more info.

2 Simple Ways I Begin My Day (That Make all the Difference)

2 Simple Ways I Begin My Day (That Make all the Difference) | gracelaced.com

Sometimes people assume that being a mom of six automatically means that I’m always frazzled, and that style + beauty are last on my list of priorities. I am no fussy, glamorous mom, but I’m often asked about how I "look so nice" going about my domestic and business-from-home life. My answer usually involves something about how inefficient I can be some days and how I never got out of sweats just the other day. But the truth is, I do make conscious choices about preparing for my day, choices I've learned, that can make all the difference.

This is not a post about unobtainable beauty regiments and idealistic rituals. I'm simply sharing the two most important ways I personally care for myself each day so that I can care for my husband and six sons. A busy mom's tendency is to roll out of bed and begin meeting needs and checking off boxes. We think our efficiency determines our productivity, but in reality, our attitude and mindset have more to do with our productivity as moms than our schedules.

For me, preparing myself for the day isn't fancy, but it is intentional. Caring for myself helps me care for my family. As we enter the busy back-to-school season, these are my two secret weapons to being my best for my family.

2 Simple Ways I Begin My Day (That Make all the Difference) | gracelaced.com

1. Spend time preparing my heart

This is where I start because this is what I underestimate the most. It’s so easy to overlook things of the heart and nourishing your soul because oftentimes, the results are not immediate and can feel like a luxury when we wake up to such long lists to accomplish in a day. But, I’ve come to find that this simple beginning is an investment that pays dividends throughout the day. It might look different for each person, but the principle is the same:

What we take in heart-wise will most influence our output work-wise.

It’s not enough to wish to grow in patience, endurance, wisdom, and love for God…it is cultivated through intentionally feasting on the Word of God and communing with Him. Maybe that means you sing, listen to audio bible, journal, read, paint, or take a walk while you pray, but remember that He meets us in His word when we are willing to quiet our hearts to listen and receive. Creating room to breath, think, and grow internally will always benefit the work we do throughout the day...even if it's not 3 hours...

2. Preparing to be presentable

2 Simple Ways I Begin My Day (That Make all the Difference) | gracelaced.com

I love an old pair of sweats and a messy ponytail as much as the next girl, but not getting dressed or leaving my hair undone has never armed me with a better attitude or helped me be more productive. When I get dressed like my day is significant, I usually value it as such.

When I take the time to put together an outfit or throw on a simple dress, and style my hair (even if it's just taking the extra 10 minutes to blow dry with a round brush), I send the message to myself, my kids and whomever I might meet that day that I'm showing up with my best. It’s not about trends, as much as it’s really about embracing (and begin grateful for) our natural beauty, and feeling like the best version of ourselves, right where we are. As a mom of six, I've known seasons where I was lucky to change into a shirt that wasn't covered in spit up or sticky fingerprints — there's grace for those days, friends!

2 Simple Ways I Begin My Day (That Make all the Difference) | gracelaced.com

I think the key is this: We just need to keep pushing ourselves toward being more intentional and not more apathetic. I don't want life to happen to me but rather be proactive about it, and for me, it begins with how I present myself.

Here's what I've found as a busy mom: Discouragement sneaks up on us so easily but can so often be diverted with a simple routine to let our feelings follow our determination, rather than the other way around. Be blessed, friends. Little by little...we are growing day by day...

2 Simple Ways I Begin My Day (That Make all the Difference) | gracelaced.com

(This post was originally posted and featured at SheKnows.)

Because of grace,

 

Building Relationships When You Have No Bandwidth

Building Relationships When You Have No Bandwidth | gracelaced.com

The older I get, the more I realize that when it comes to relationships, leisure is a luxury, but intentional is something all of us can afford. 

Perhaps you can relate...hear me out:

Family, friends, and fellowship take time -- time that seems most elusive during the very seasons we need them most. Child-rearing, career-building, purpose-finding, needs-meeting, faith-building, life-managing, and marriage-investing all seem to pile into the same (roughly) decade-long season that leaves us with almost zero percent bandwidth and, yet, 100% need for support. Personally, with a 14 year old and a 3 year old as bookends, plus over a decade of ministry work, Troy and I feel like the season has been close on to 15 years now. 

Building Relationships When You Have No Bandwidth | gracelaced.com

It doesn't mean that we don't have dear friends. It doesn't mean we don't find meaningful fellowship at church. It doesn't mean we don't have family dinners with extended family. It simply means that building relationships doesn't look or feel quite like we thought it would. 

There are not as many dinners that go long into the night as we imagined. There aren't as many family reunions or vacations on the calendar. We don't sit around strumming guitars on a Tuesday night and tell our life stories as regularly as we did back in college. (Wait, do you?) We have to fight for leisure, and even more so to be intentional. 

Building Relationships When You Have No Bandwidth | gracelaced.com

We are 40-somethings now, and more than ever, we have to consciously choose being intentional over leisure. I'm making peace with it...and maybe I'm a slow learner:

  • I'm making peace with the fact that I don't get to see extended and out of town family as often as I'd like, but I can be intentional and not superficial when we do spend time together.
  • I'm making peace with how difficult it is to counsel others when I'm counseling my own children, but I can pray about specific relationships that come my way.
  • I'm making peace with not making it to all the fun social functions in favor of the ones that feed my soul with good conversation.
  • I'm making peace with taking time for strangers for the sake of widening my circle, in lieu of only surrounding myself with the comfort of the familiar.
  • I'm making peace with how much time it takes to grow a thriving - not just surviving - family; my family is a mission field as significant as the one across the ocean.
  • I'm making peace with not pleasing all who have expectations of me and not expecting other to please me either; relationships are not built on guilt but giving. 

On the one hand, I'm making peace with how relationship take intention when leisure is rare, and on the other: how much grace I can give and receive while figuring it out.

Friend, don't close the shutters or bring in the welcome mat; let's just change our expectations and focus. 

Building Relationships When You Have No Bandwidth | gracelaced.com

Maybe we can offer ourselves and others a bit more grace while navigating these seasons where what we need and what we can offer are sometimes juxtaposing. 

And maybe while we all learn how to be more intentional, we can start by remembering that the most deliberate relationship secured for us on the Cross of Christ is the most satisfying relationship we can have. Family, friends, and fellowship were all meant to mirror horizontally what we discover vertically. Amazingly, when we grow more intentional to know Christ, we grow more intentional to love others. No wonder these are summed up as the greatest commandments:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
— Mark 12:30-31

Praise Him for the tension: the lack of leisure that makes us more intentional, the hunger for relationship that makes us press into our God and those He provides for fellowship, the inability to juggle it all...that teaches us that He alone can make "all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) 

He's still at work...in and through each relationship in our lives,  in whatever season we find ourselves.

Because of grace,

 

Worry, Replaced.

I've been a worrier my whole life. Biting nails, thinking too long into the night...and at times, feeling that all too familiar weight upon my chest. And while there are all sorts of enjoyable ways to shake off our struggles and distract us from our worries, the fight is not easily won. I don't know about you, but I can't simply apply "Don't worry, be happy!" or "Shake it off!" or "Believe in yourself!" to the inner beast of worry. You see, the root of worry is rarely a simple rearranging of circumstances or fixing of others' perceptions of you; worry is rooted in idols of the heart. 

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Phil. 4:6)

Worry, a sinful trusting in ourselves over a mighty God, stands guard at the doorway of our heart idols: fear, approval, pride, justice, self-sufficiency, comfort, ease. I'm familiar with them all. 

The only way I've known to battle worry effectively is only by Grace: to slay the idols of my heart with the powerful love of Him displayed through redemption in Christ, and replace them with the truth of God's Word. Here's where we must preach truth to ourselves. Nothing else will do. Not friends, favor, sunshine, good food, travel, nor new shoes. They all lighten the burden, but only the gospel will throw the weight of our self-suffiency upon Christ, and set us free.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

{While we're on the topic of worry, do any of you entrepreneurs, creatives, or writers ever worry over how to use social media, especially Instagram? How? How often? Why? Is it making a difference? 

Ruth with the Hope Writers Team

I'm over at the Hope Writers Podcast episode: Instagram For Writers. Find the full interview with me about Instagram at Hope Writers site (where you can do a trial membership to check it out!

Between book writing, personal circumstances, and the busy Mother's Day season at GraceLaced Shoppe, I've not yet found my rhythm with how to be more present here at the blog; but, I'm grateful that you show up. I'm grateful that you join me here to find GRACE - not self - as the beauty in our everyday.}

Because of grace,

Ruth