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Release #5: “A Pop of Color”

Release #5:  “A Pop of Color”

 

The Poppy is one of my favorite flowers for its bold pop of color and delicate pleated petals. I sure follow in my Creator’s footsteps, loving detail as much as He does. Sometimes we can wonder if God is aware of all that is playing out in and around us, but if He is intricately pleating the petals of Poppies then we can be sure He is intricately working on the details of our lives too.

 

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27

 

“A Pop of Color” is one of the watercolors I painted during my yearlong creative challenge and has just been released in print! Use it as a reminder, for you or someone you love, that long before you can see the beauty, God is working on the details that will unfold in your life!

 

Details:
This entire series of prints mimics the original watercolors themselves in their look and feel.
8 x 10”
Unframed
$35
Find it here for your own collection or to gift.

 

VoyageATL Shares My Story

VoyageATL Shares My Story

I am so excited to have been featured in the magazine VoyageATL in their Inspiring Stories series!!  I really appreciate their mission of telling the stories of hidden creatives like me. 🙂  Please click here to read the article!

Photo credit: Amanda Herrold Photography

Hope

Hope

 

I had no plan of writing on my blog this evening, but while out in my studio earlier today I was reminded of Romans 4:17 and felt compelled to share a little hope. I arranged the words of that verse, “God who gives life to the dead”, on my letterboard last month as a harbinger of spring; but when I saw them this afternoon I thought of how appropriate they are on this day that sits between Good Friday and Easter….our Lord’s death and resurrection.

 

Romans 4:17 is one of my favorite scripture verses and one that I often declare as I am working out, believing God to enable what is unable within my body…which He is. I have neurological and muscular damage that keeps me from walking independently, but the God who created my muscles and nervous system can recreate them. In the same way, God is able to breathe life and ability into your own circumstances that might look “hopeless” right now. The New Living Translation of Romans 4:17 goes on to say, “…and who creates new things out of nothing”.

 

Let’s never forget, regardless of what we see or how we feel or what “man” has spoken over us, with Jesus we ALWAYS have hope. And if you’re a believer in Christ, Romans 8:11 tells us “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” This Easter let’s believe for some personal resurrections as we celebrate Jesus’ because as Jeremy Camp sings, “the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us”! …just remember, Jesus was resurrected because He first surrendered to His Father and His ways.

 

Release #4: “Should Have Been Mine”

Release #4:  “Should Have Been Mine”

 

A crown of thorns is a reminder of what Jesus endured, overcame and won for everyone who believes (Romans 10:9). He suffered the punishment that we deserved. The crown of thorns He bore should have been on your head and mine.

 

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:5 NLT

 

“Should Have Been Mine” is one of the watercolors I painted during my yearlong creative challenge and is just now released in print for your own collection as a raw reminder of the price of our redemption.  And just in time for Easter!

 

Details:
This entire series of prints mimics the original watercolors themselves in their look and feel.
8 x 10”
Unframed
$35
*Ships immediately.
Find it here.

 

 

Release #2 and #3: “Little Black Dress” & “Black Tie”

Release #2 and #3:  “Little Black Dress” & “Black Tie”

 

Next in the lineup of my new series of prints is “Little Black Dress” and “Black Tie”. I know I said I’d be introducing them one at a time as the year plays out, but hey, “two are better than one” (Ecc. 4:9)!

 

What’s more fun than dressing up and celebrating some aspect of life with those you love?! The Bible says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: …a time to weep and a time to laugh a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (Ecc. 3:1, 4). Life is unquestionably hard and painful, but in the middle of it all God gives us gifts of celebration.

 

This duo would make a great addition to a bedroom, powder room, dream closet or even her home office! Find them here.

Details:
This entire series of prints mimics the original watercolors themselves in their look and feel.
8 x 10”
Unframed
$35 each

 

Release #1: “Spoken For”

Release #1:  “Spoken For”

 

I am so excited to share with you that I have a new series of prints! It’s been a longtime coming, but they are here and I couldn’t be more pleased. This collection includes 15 of the 50 pieces of art that I created during my yearlong creative challenge. I will be introducing them one at a time as the year unfolds, but I am starting with my favorite one of them all…“Spoken For”.

 

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23

 

There are countless things in this world fighting hard for our affections. If we don’t guard our hearts, we are in danger of losing what is most precious to us: Our faith, marriage, family, God’s promises, peace, and the list goes on. It’s rarely easy, but we must be vigilant over our source of life.

 

With this print series, I didn’t want to just reproduce the images, but the feelings and emotions of holding the originals themselves. They are all printed on acid-free paper that mimics the watercolor paper they were painted on with the same margins as the originals.

 

Now you can add “Spoken For” to your own collection! Or it’d make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift!!  Find it here.

 

 

This is My Story: God Uses Imperfect People

This is My Story:  God Uses Imperfect People

 

Remember me?  I haven’t forgotten you; in fact, I’ve missed you.  I am sorry for my silence, but to be honest, I’ve needed to be quiet.  This year has been an emotional rollercoaster for me with losing ones dear to my heart, big opportunities and projects, several health battles and surgeries for both of my parents, getting a new car that delights my heart every time I see her :), walking with friends through extremely hard seasons in their lives and celebrations and travel.  This has been my year, but I’m certain it resembles yours too.  We are all busy and overwhelmed, and even if our list isn’t as long & hard as someone else’s, ours is no less challenging for us.

 

Throughout this year’s rollercoaster ride I’ve carried the extra weight of two situations that played out as 2017 came to a close and 2018 began.  In one case, I wronged someone and in another, I was wronged.  One brought shame and the other anger.  Those are powerful emotions that I don’t often battle, so I was definitely rattled.

 

Details are unimportant, but earlier this year someone that I should have been able to trust entered my safe place and took what wasn’t theirs, turning the space where I gain my greatest strength into a place of violation and unrest.  Where was their integrity and respect???  They caused me more angst than they will ever know.  Healing has been a process and especially difficult because there was no closure.  They never admitted to their wrong, so no apology was made and nothing was ever returned.  But in the face of constant reminders that kept reigniting bitterness and anger God challenged me to have “a love that looks beyond” (like Jesus).  Admittedly, nothing about that was easy when I felt so violated.  Thankfully, as the months have passed, God has brought so much healing where this wound is concerned, but I still find myself whispering “soften my heart” and “remove the sting”.

 

Big sigh.  While feeling completely stabbed in the back, God gently reminded me of how I myself messed up only 2 months earlier, overstepping and hurting someone who should have been able to trust meWhere was MY integrity and respect???  I’m afraid I caused more angst in them than I ever knew.  I apologized for my words and actions, though I do not know if I was ever forgiven.  My wrong was unacceptable and shame is a powerful force that condemns, paralyzes and imprisons.  In her post “What Our Hearts Need When We Mess Up”, Holley Gerth said, “…what the enemy is really after is not simply to make us sin — the cross has already taken care of that — it’s to make us abandon our identity. It’s to convince us we cannot be both imperfect and loved at the same time. It’s to tempt us to believe our worst moments define us.”

 

In both situations, it has been a battle for me:  A battle to forgive the one who wronged me…and myself.  A battle to show God’s grace and forgiveness…and to receive it.  But the enemy does not get the final say in these or any other area of my life…he never has.  Anger and shame don’t win here.  I cannot let my offender or my offense own me because I’ve already been bought.  Besides, my enemy isn’t even the one who took things from me on a winter day, but the one who seeks to steal from me EVERY day (Ephesians 6:12).

 

I really struggled with how God uses this person the way that He does for His kingdom, yet at the same time they were capable of stealing from me.  But couldn’t the one that I wronged say the same of me??  I am understanding more and more of how God uses imperfect people…and I am thankful He does, otherwise He wouldn’t be using me.  As Holley Gerth eloquently puts it, “No level of spirituality or ministry exists where we are suddenly exempt from being human.”  The Bible proves it.  While there are consequences for sin, we cannot let the enemy deceive us into thinking that we – or others – are disqualified or a fraud when failure happens.

 

If you have been wronged by one of Christ’s followers, please don’t judge God, His church or a ministry based on the person’s actions.  If you are looking for perfection, look to Jesus alone because the rest of us are apt to let you down somewhere along the way.  Let’s keep our eyes on the work of God, not on the flesh and blood He chooses to work through.

 

To the one who I hurt, I hope you have forgiven me.  To the one who hurt me, I forgive you.

 

Love,

Michele

 

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – Jesus in John 8:7

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

But by the grace of God I am what I am… – 1 Corinthians 15:10

 

This song by Big Daddy Weave says it all.

 

Don’t Stop Believing

Don’t Stop Believing

 

To my fellow “80’s child”, no, this is not about Journey’s song, “Don’t Stop Believing”. Shocking, I know. 🙂 A few weeks ago I read a blog post that resonated within my spirit. Since God has been adding to that word, I thought I’d send a little “life” and encouragement your way on this bitter and blistery winter evening. In the post, Kerry Campbell used tulip and amaryllis bulbs as an analogy of life coming forth where there is no visible life.

 

I just took this photo yesterday of one of my mom’s hydrangea bushes out in her garden. It is hard to believe that in just a couple months new buds will be shooting out from those dead sticks. That bush has weathered snowstorms, zero degree temps and deer chewing on it, yet life will still spring forth because of life and activity taking place within the roots…even in these winter months.

 

Ten years ago God made 2 bold promises to me. There are days when I am resolved in my faith and full of peace and anticipation; then there are days when I am discouraged and restless. Guess which days my focus is on my unchanging circumstances and which days my eyes are on my Promise Maker?

 

The “winter seasons” of our lives can be difficult. They can be long and bleak if we focus on the lack of change. Our conclusions and outlooks are then formed by what we see…or don’t see. Like this hydrangea, our hopes, dreams and even God’s promises to us can look “dead”. But as in the rhizome roots, bulbs and tubers of perennials, there IS activity taking place beyond what our eyes see as God works things toward fulfillment in our lives.

 

Satan is a thief and a liar. Never forget it. He wants to sabotage every hope of yours and mine and every promise of God.  One way he tries to do that is by drawing our attention to the lack of life in those areas we have been praying over. He forgets though that as believers in Christ we belong to the “God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist” (Romans 4:17 NASB). Never forget that either.

 

That verse above is taken from a passage of scripture that talks about Abraham being justified by faith. Verses 18 – 21 go on to say, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”  (Emphasis mine)

 

About 25 years passed between the time God first revealed to Abraham that he’d be the father of many nations and when Sarah gave birth to Isaac (the beginning of God’s fulfillment). Just because God doesn’t fulfill His promises within our timetable does NOT mean that He isn’t going to fulfill them! Our rationalization is not God’s. He didn’t need Sarah to be in her childbearing years for her to bear a child! So the next time we are tempted to doubt or be discouraged, let’s “…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12). Let’s actively refuse to doubt that in the fullness of time we will see new shoots of life bursting from those dead sticks in our lives!

 

*On a different note, for those interested and on Instagram, I am reposting my yearlong Creative Challenge each week. I’d love to have you join me over there @hispaintbrush_michele!

 

Eyes of Hope

Eyes of Hope

 

Okay, so New Year’s is hands down one of my favorite times of the year. There is something about a fresh start that breathes life into my innermost being. I am motivated, passionate, focused and full of anticipation. I always wonder what words will adorn the blank pages of my journals in the coming 12 months.

 

My painting above of a pair of rose-colored glasses is entitled “Eternal Optimist”. Typically, that is me. As believers in Christ I think we should all be eternal optimists since we always have hope. For me, I hope the year ahead will find me finally walking in the fullness of God’s promises to me. Here’s the thing though… Even if my worst nightmare befalls me in 2018 I will STILL have hope. Jesus is my hope, and no matter what my tomorrows hold for me I know that Jesus will be by my side with grace for the moment and hope for a better tomorrow. If you walk with Jesus, regardless of what your circumstances may be, never forget that you forever carry Hope within you too. He is the God of the impossible, the God of ‘suddenlies’ and the God Who “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

 

There are things about 2017 I desperately wish I could forget and undo, and there are things I’d like to hang in a gallery with a spotlight on them. I am certain that 2018 will hold the same, but through it all, I just want to know Jesus even more. Here’s to a year of stronger relationships with the Hope of our world!

 

Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this. Jeremiah 14:22

 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

Winners Fail Until They Succeed

Winners Fail Until They Succeed

 

Hello all! I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is next week. How is that??? I know I’ve been quiet for most of the fall, but right at the time of my last post God began calling me to set-apart time in my studio. With that, I made a commitment to myself to work on my art every day in October…which I did! But I intentionally remained quiet about it because I knew that I needed freedom to fail this time – something that I didn’t feel I had in front of the public eye last year. For those of you who walked beside me throughout last year’s creative challenge know that in the end I felt disappointed that my work did not reflect the loose brushwork that I had hoped to achieve. As a result, when the year/challenge ended, I felt like I had failed in many ways; but as Beth Moore said in Beloved Disciple, “God does not consider my circumstance over until there is victory.” Hallelujah for that!

 

Though my yearlong challenge ended, my journey to freedom from perfectionism hasn’t. So every evening last month I closed myself in my studio and painted. Many days I failed, but I failed well. I honestly found it liberating to fall short and know that it was “okay”. Coming to that place alone was a victory for me! I learned more in those 31 days than I learned all last year BECAUSE I failed and learned from each mistake.

 

From the very first day in the studio, my month-long commitment began to look different than I envisioned. I was constantly having to surrender my plans, timelines and expectations. I daily had to transform my thinking because I knew that October’s studio time was to be focused on growth, not performance. I am reminded of when the disciples (before they were disciples) fished all night and caught nothing; yet when in obedience they let down their nets ‘when’ and ‘how’ Jesus commanded (even though it was contrary to their reasoning), their nets were so full of fish that they were breaking (Luke 5:4-6). The disciples might have considered their long night of catching no fish a big failure, but their story was not over. And if they HAD caught fish the night before, they would not have experienced Jesus’s power and authority the way they had. For me, that is huge.

 

We live in a culture where we tend to showcase our highlight reels for the world to see, but I want more than highlights; more than just masterpieces. I want depth, I want muscle and I want to know God better through my journey…and those come from grit, sweat, tears, risks, failures and surrender. I have lived with a performance mentality for so long that I have not allowed myself that ability to step back and grow my gift behind closed doors…until last month.

 

The painting above was the first piece I did in October. It is entitled, “Whose I Am: A Self-Portrait” and was inspired by Isaiah 44:5… “Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.” The conviction is so deep within me…“I am the Lords”. That is who I am. And if you follow Jesus, that is who you are too. We are not our failures, weaknesses or sins. Jesus died to guarantee that. We will all fail along the way, but never forget, “winners fail until they succeed”. Your story is so far from over…and so is mine.

 

***Ironically, I just opened an account on Instagram…home of highlight reels. 🙂 Let’s remember together that everyone’s story is so much deeper, harder and more painful than what meets the eye. Whatever you’re battling tonight, please know that you are not alone. And if you’re on Instagram, I’d love to see you over there! @hispaintbrush_michele