There's Room For You {How to Stop Comparing and Start Creating}

There's Room For You {How to Stop Comparing and Start Creating} | gracelaced.com

You’re more creative than you might feel or think.

Trust me. I'm a creative, and sometimes I struggle to be enough. I know how it is: You scroll through social media and Pinterest and it feels like everyone was created with 10 times more ingenuity than you. You wonder, How is everyone so amazingly playful, intentional, color-coordinated, light-filled, mess-proof, delightfully-messy, time-laden, beauty-finding, detail-specific, and incredibly good at making food look so much more delicious than what’s on your plate? Even her grilled cheese looks extra….gooey.

There’s no room to be creative because everything’s already been done and thought of and painted and lettered and plated and photographed and seen and done. 

There’s no room for me, you say.

But here’s the truth, friend:

There is nothing new under the sun; it HAS all been done before.

But, there’s never been another YOU.

There’s no room to be another her, or them, or him, or that

There’s plenty of room to be YOU.

And maybe you feel stuck for the same reason that I do sometimes:

Trying to get ahead and be better than someone else flat wipes me out and zaps any and all creative energy. Do you know the feeling?

How can I paint a masterpiece? I may not.

How can I think of something no one has ever thought of before? I won’t.

How can I get to the finish line before someone else? I can’t outrun everyone, and I don’t want to.

But we each have longings to make, create, declare, and profess. We have something we want to say with what we have. How do we stop comparing and start creating?

Why don't we begin here:

When we stop trying to say, “Look at me! I'm the best!” we end up with the freedom to welcome, rather than chase….receive, rather than react…make for the joy of it, rather than to measure up.

So much of becoming who our Creator made us to be begins when we recognize that all that we have is given not gotten. Gratitude and humility before Christ ignites creativity because we don't have to prove how amazing we are in the light of how amazing He IS.

We don't have to be impressive...just impressions of Christ.

There's Room For You.jpg

And so, let’s circle back once again to this that we know, but so often forget: 

We are the created, made to reflect the Creator. Our endless spinning is not just comparison and getting ahead…it’s the creation trying to find it’s worth. But He says it clearly to us in Isaiah: You are Mine. (Isaiah 43:1) We can rest easy because our value is beyond measure and has nothing to do with how unique we can make ourselves; He's already declared us, each, His own.

So, friend, don’t waste your day…

replicating what someone else has composed, 

wishing you could be as creative as another, 

chasing a viewpoint that is not your own,

dancing to another’s playlist,

or groaning when someone else tells their story beautifully.

There’s room for you to be YOU...and you're the only one who can tell your story.

Maybe it means you don’t follow everyone who you admire. Maybe it means you only follow those who cause you to keep your focus on an audience of One. Maybe it means you learn something new. Maybe it means you stop saying “I can’t.” Maybe it means you find inspiration from something not made by another human being. These are good places to start.

Our good Father is a brilliant Creator: He makes no person twice. So go and make the most of your one precious life, your one unique story, your one set of hands, your only set of eyes, and follow the Lord with the one set of feet that were made to keep in step….only with Him. 

I'm cheering you on...and persevering along with you, friend.

*If this subject strikes a chord...I wrote about reflecting His creativity back at the birth of the Shoppe in 2013, and creating in a comparison world back in 2014.

Because of grace,

 

On Loving and Longing

On Loving and Longing | gracelaced.com

it's Valentine's Day next week, and the aisles at Target are working overtime to make sure we know that love is in the air, am I right? 

And does it seem like we are all collectively trying to feel light, flirty, and happy...yet know that life is truly often heavy, burdensome, and even our best days are as the Psalmist says: "but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." (Psalm 90:10)

I'm not trying to be a downer; I'm just telling the truth from where I'm seeing it: Love is sweet and fragrant and fun, but it also requires labor, sacrifice, and diligence. I can't look at pink hearts without considering all the purple ones too in the trenches of life. Love and loss, love and longing...seems to always go hand in hand.

After almost 19 years of marriage and loving a husband plus six kiddos...love (the verb) and the celebration of it feels much different than it used to:

On Loving and Longing | gracelaced.com

Less fluff and more foundation. Less stuff and more substance. Less heartburn, but more heartache.

Life is full of opportunities to love, feel longing or loss, and to love anyway.

I've been thinking on these things as Valentine's Day approaches and GraceLaced Shoppe launched the Be Still Series this week (with a sale!) The series is about fighting chaos and the discouragement of waiting for change, with the steadying truth of God's Word. It's His Word that reminds us that:

He is good when He blesses and takes away. He is not through with us yet and will indeed wipe away every tear and make all things new. We can be still because He is still on the throne, even when everything is not perfectly lovely or loving.

On Loving and Longing | gracelaced.com

Love and longing can sometimes feel like the same thing: Both make the heart ache and both teach us to trust what we can't always see with our eyes. 

So maybe these verses meet you at the intersection of loving and loss, maybe they find you yearning and waiting, and maybe these verses remind you that you must just keep pressing on in love and praise because Christ is love and your life is in Him.

I hope so.


*And if these (or anything else in the shoppe) speaks to you this week, we are having a shoppe-wide sale, so enjoy the discount and free print promo through Wednesday 2/15. 


Cheering you on, friends.

Because of grace,

 

(Family portrait by my friend, Joy Prouty of Wildflowers Photography)

Grinding The Wheat in 2017

Ruth Chou Simons | gracelaced.com

If we were having coffee today, I'd tell you that what I do here and on Instagram is equally for preaching to own heart as it is to encourage yours. I'd tell you that true hope isn't in pretty prints but with the good news they proclaim. I want to be a John the Baptist with brush in hand, pointing to the One who actually brings life. May GraceLaced art be a starting point, not the end itself. Let's not treat the Word as Spurgeon describes: 

There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in His service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser's feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else the juice will not flow; and they must well tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. Our bodies are not supported by merely taking food into the mouth, but the process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward food becomes assimilated with the inner life. Our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it. 

Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God's Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this morning, "I will meditate in Thy precepts."  (C.H. Spurgeon)

Friends: persevere in the grinding, gathering, plucking, and stooping low to drink from the Well offered to us. May all the beauty + truth you find here in 2017 merely adorn what is most satisfying: Christ himself.

We can't drink from a cup that is already full of our agenda and striving, so to that end will you pray for me as I pray for you: That we would be emptied of our kingdom and filled up with His.

That's my commitment as I seek to steward this space well; thank you for beginning another year with me here. 


In effort to grind the wheat this year, I'm beginning (again) another year-long reading plan with the ESV Bible App. You can choose from several plans, and read passages in app, or have it read to you. It'll track your progress and keep you working through the Scriptures in manageable chunks.

I'd love for you to join me. It's not going to be perfect, and some of us will have to set aside our ideas of a perfectly quiet house and unfettered time with all our commentaries open, plus endless hours to Bible journal -- let's be real; that's not going to happen every day. Some us won't make it all the way through without missing a single day, and it will drive us crazy, but that isn't the point. It's not about us, but about knowing Him and the promises of His Word, in its entirety. The point is to PERSIST:

ESV Bible App | gracelaced.com
ESV Bible App | gracelaced.com

I hear the app only has Bible reading plans for the iPhone version. If you're an Android user, I will post daily reading charts as often as I'm able in my Instastories in the mornings: Instagram.com/graelaced. Join me there for encouragement!

Sometimes it's not the words of my mouth that's the problem - I'm fairly good at guarding those; it's the meditations of my heart that can run unfettered, which in time, will reveal itslef in my speech too. I've been sharing on the blog and in Instastories about not just liking the bread, but #grindingthewheat in 2017. We do that by tethering the meditations of our hearts to the unfailing Word of God...not for a pep talk or for self-affirmation, but to align our desires with His. Our Rock and our Redeemer isn't just faithful for salvation but for every day we'll need hope for our tongues + minds in 2017! 


By the way....Did you purchase last year's Garden of Truth calendar? Now that the year is over, are you re-purposing it and memorizing the scriptures? I hope so! Let me know how you are using last year's calendar, I'd love to know.

2015 Garden of Truth Calendar | gracelaced.com
GraceLaced Garden of Truth | gracelaced.com

And if you haven't purchased a 2017 Hope In the Desert Calendar, don't wait! They are 50-70% off in the Shoppe, depending on quantity. My hope is that you will let the Word minister to your heart day by day, and that these scriptures will be hidden in our hearts as we preach the truth to ourselves!


Praying for you as you grind the wheat and grow in the Word in 2017. It's worth it...to persist and not give up. I'm standing and seeking along with you. 

Because of grace,

 

Farewell to 2016 {from the Simons Family}

As we head into the last weekend of 2016, our family's reflecting on where we've been and where we're going. Was 2016 as hard for you as it was for us? We will all collectively celebrate the turning of a new year in just two days, but some journeys and seasons in life simply don't reset just because the calendar says it's a new day.

As always, new beginnings start in our hearts. 

For me, it begins with giving praise for all Christ has done to redeem us and to give hope to our foolishness. But it also begins with tracing back through, and not forgetting, what waters He's brought us through this year, and how we've learned to praise Him, even when they're not waters we choose to tread. 

(Photo credit: Joy Prouty, Wildflowers Photography)

(Photo credit: Joy Prouty, Wildflowers Photography)

2016 gave new meaning to Job's words: "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
 

From the start of the year, when my oldest son and I traveled with Compassion Bloggers to Ecuador.

...To the unexpected opportunity to fulfill a family dream of creating a respite in Durango, Colorado,


...To Troy coming to the end of his 8 year journey as headmaster of a classical school we were part of founding,

...To writing and painting my first book, due to release in September 2017,

...To a painful season of goodbyes and new beginnings,

...To the best and the hardest moments in training young hearts,

...And to ending the year looking at one another as a family, and as a small business, and marveling at His bountiful blessing, first and foremost displayed in grace, 
everyday.

The One who's birth we celebrated just days ago - Emmanuel - has been faithful and merciful at every turn. His hand has guided and provided for us as a family in both physically and emotionally.

Coming soon to GraceLaced Shoppe...

Coming soon to GraceLaced Shoppe...

And as a small business owner, I thank you, on behalf of my family and the GraceLaced Team, for not simply purchasing my artwork and products in 2016, but for joining us as we seek to adorn the gospel of Christ and make the beauty of God's Word and creation known. He is worthy; we are honored to reflect His glory.

I'm excited for what 2017 may bring, but as we prepare to share these changes and things to come, I keep in mind: Let your will be done, Lord.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
— Proverbs 19:21

If there's one thing I learned in 2016, through the fire of refining by the Lord's hand, it's that I want no plan that is not of Him and in Him and for His glory. 

To that end, Lord, lead us into 2017...to Christ be the glory for all that is to come.


In case you missed it in our newsletter, or on social media, we are closing out the year with a huge Inventory Clearance SALE!

GraceLaced Hope In the Desert 2017 Calendars are 50-70% off, popular prints and all Christmas products are marked down, and many prints are discontinuing. Prices good while supplies last! Sale ends 11:59pm MST 1/1/17!

Because of grace,

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Holiday Launch 2016 + Sale

This season doesn't have to usher in busyness in our hearts even if it seems that way on our calendars. The holiday season...our celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas, are opportunities for us to remember the joy of God's provisions, beginning with the ultimate gift of salvation through Christ coming to abide with us.

Today, we launch Holiday 2016 in GraceLaced Shoppe, with new Thanksgiving and Christmas prints, canvases, Christmas cards, and a new journal. Here are this year's offerings...


THANKSGIVING

Our Thanksgiving designs are all about gratitude and praise, in all circumstances, to the One who is worthy...

CHRISTMAS

For Christmas we invite you to join us in celebrating the birth of our Savior. The JOY we long for in this live is made possible because Christ came to ABIDE with us. We celebrate and REJOICE in a risen Christ. It's for this joy that we TELL others, far and wide, of the hope of the gospel.

NEW YEAR

Finally, our favorite product all year: Hope In the Desert 2017 Calendar, created to help us to memorize scripture with 12 repurpose-able scripture memory cards and 8x10 art prints. Buy a single calendar for yourself or a discounted 4-pack to divide up and give as gifts to your family and friends. (With this week's additional 20% sale, each calendar in the 4-pack ends up being just $30 apiece!)

SALE DETAILS

Enjoy 20% off all "Holiday" category items in the Shoppe with code: BEATTHERUSH.

The sale ends at 11:59pm MDT, Sunday, October 30.

(P.S. If you are already a subscriber, be sure to open the email you received in your inbox this morning for a little free gift from us!)

Shop all GraceLaced Holiday Products

Grateful for all of you who celebrate each season with my artwork. To Him be all glory.

Because of grace,