Loss changes your perspective. It makes you realize (sometimes in the most painful way imaginable) that things are not what matter, people are. This Christmas Eve day I am thinking of those who are celebrating Christmas despite the absence of someone they love. Maybe the pain is so deep or the loss so fresh, they are not even celebrating -- they are just enduring.

For those people, I am wishing for future Christmases that they can enjoy... when the hole in their hearts is not so raw, when the people they are missing are back in their company. Maybe that reunion will take place in this life, and maybe it won't happen until the next, but the thing that I love most about Christmas and the true meaning behind it, is Hope.

Hope that we will celebrate Christmas with grandchildren near.
Hope that next Christmas the child we are longing to adopt will be in our homes.
Hope that our siblings and children will return safely from serving our country.

Hope that the babies we have lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, infant cancer ... will be restored to our arms once again.
Hope that the friends and family members we have had to say goodbye to, we will see and laugh with again.
Hope that came in the form of a baby born in a smelly barn.

Hope that is possible because of our Savior.

If you feel empty and alone this Christmas, if you feel the absence of someone you love, just hold on. Hold onto hope.


4 more sleeps...

  • The gifts are purchased & wrapped
  • Hannah's school Christmas program is over
  • Our contribution to our church Christmas vespers was a success -- Hannah made an adorable angel, along with 5 other little girls.
  • I've made a significant dent in my "Christmas movies to watch" list
  • The stockings are stuffed by the chimney
  • 3 more work days (including today) and then we get Jonathan home for 4 days
  • I wish it would be a white Christmas, but am thankful the roads will be better for my family who are traveling
*    *    *

Are YOU ready for Christmas?

Journaling prompts: What was your favorite Christmas present as a child? Why was it special to you?
What's the most memorable Christmas of your past? Why?


Because He Came

Christmas is wonderment. Because of a stable birth so very long ago, we have a Savior. And because of that Savior, we have hope in the bleak times, and joy in the good times and the bad.

Because He came, we can see the miracles. Because of Him, we hold on when we feel we will be blown over. Because of that baby, we are given the ultimate gift. I hope that this Christmas season, perhaps in the bustle of overcrowded toy aisles, or in the suds of a sink full of Christmas dinner dishes, maybe while sitting quietly in your living room, aglow with dozens of twinkling Christmas tree lights, or on the drive to pick up your child from school that last exhausting, busy week before Christmas break begins, you will feel that special magic that Christmas is. The magic that represents the peace, hope, joy and faith that is ours in this life that is not always easy or good. That magic is because of an obedient Mary, a faithful Joseph, a baby Jesus who was born in the most humble of settings and circumstances, and because of the sacrifice made on the cross. No Christmas present can ever top that gift.

I wish you that moment to remember what's behind this holiday of hustle and bustle and the never-ending "to do" list; that moment that exists because He came.

Don't you just love...

sweet vintage rubber stamps in happy colors? Rubber stamping is so much fun and can dress up so many different things. Check out this Etsy shop. Cute stamps!

Check out this adorable vintage toaster.

Fun, fun!


Things I Love about Christmastime

pillsbury ready-to-bake christmas cookies. coffee-mate peppermint-mocha creamer. scarves. red. 4 personalized stockings all hung in a row. family. snow (when we get it). little girls in matching christmas jammies. froofy holiday dresses. my husband in a red tie. journaling by the lights of the christmas tree after everyone's gone to bed and it's quiet. christmas music. traditions. taking hannah to see the nutcracker. 'elf' with will ferrell. peppermint hot cocoa with marshmallows. hearing my daughter ask her baby sister, 'nally, what do you want for christmas?' plotting what to get for the girls with my husband. keeping (good) secrets. swapping gifts with my best friend over tea. the feeling that magic is in the air, that there are possibilities. being together. hope. very real hope because of a child born unto us many, many, many years ago...



As you probably noticed, Live Art.fully has a new face! I hope you like it. Stay tuned for new posts...



In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fitting to talk about keeping a Gratitude Journal. Many journalers keep a separate book for recording things they are grateful for. I have done this in the past. Especially in hard times, making a point to search out what's good in your life and write it down can really boost your mood and give you courage. It works just as well to periodically make a list of things that make you happy, give you joy, bring you peace, or that you are grateful for in your regular journal. I make a point of doing an entry like this every Thanksgiving, and also at times when things seem bleak.

This week, sit down with a cup of hot apple cider, cocoa, coffee or tea, and write about the things in your life that you are thankful for. It can be an entry or just a quick list.

Feel free to share some of what you come up with.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Courage Knocking

Pretty much everyone has at least one or two things (if not one or two dozen) that they don't do. "I'm not a runner." "Writing? I'm not good at that." "Oh, I don't mow the lawn, my husband does that." "Special music? Are you kidding? I can't carry a tune!"

I have a whole list of things I don't feel confident, or competent doing. I am one of those who doesn't mow the lawn, doesn't plant flowers, 'can't' run, doesn't feel comfortable with any recipe that uses words like 'saute', and the list goes on...

When we are young, before we've found our proverbial boxes, labeled them, and climbed inside, we dare to try new things. What we haven't yet attempted, we haven't failed. And then we grow up, finding things that come more naturally than others, or things we enjoy more or even excel at. So we tend to stick to those things.

Today I woke up tired, but strangely energetic. I itched to create art -- not just write or doodle or stamp, things I do regularly, but do something truly artistic. Paint. Pastels. Canvases. Hard, scary, messy things to which I normally say "Oh, I don't do that. I'm not an artist."

So after taking my Kindergartener to school, my almost-three-year-old and I went home to create Art.

I used oil pastels for the first time and shoved my inner critic and self-doubt aside to create something worthy of being called art. I had a blast and actually liked what I ended up with.

I also decided to tackle a new recipe for dinner. Pumpkin Lasagna. The pictures looked too good to be true, but the recipe wanted me to melt butter on the stovetop and brown minced garlic and.... I was already overwhelmed with the browning of garlic.

So I again pushed aside that little inner voice that said, "It's okay that you can't cook. You have other talents. You bake! You write! You're nearly ready for the Olympics in laundry." Step by step, I followed the recipe.

I melted butter. I browned garlic. I added incredients and stirred and layered and shredded and layered and spread and layered and topped the whole thing with sliced fresh mozzarella. It's out of the oven now, bubbling and hot and smelling of autumn comfort.

What 'can't' you do? Why not try?


Remembering Our Heroes...

Almost seven years ago, my beloved grandmother died. She was young; her death was sudden and unexpected. Today is her birthday.

She loved God and she loved people, and her life reflected it. She prayed fervently for me, and all of the members of our family every day. She did her best not to judge. She used her time to be a friend, her hands to serve (even if it meant scrubbing toilets or doing dishes), her voice to encourage; her home to offer hospitality. She touched hundreds of lives.

So along with the men and women, past and present, who have served, honored, and defended our country, I remember and pay tribute to my Grandma Lonnie, one of my personal heroes.


"Why keep a journal?"

I believe in journaling. There are numerous aspects of writing in a journal that are beneficial. It's wonderful for record-keeping, lowering your stress level, making goals and tracking your progress, reflecting on the day, remembering the best days of your life, and counter-intuitively, documenting those "worst days" too.

Another, deeper, aspect of journaling that I've found tremendously valuable is using it to work through tough stuff. Are you grieving? Are you a survivor of abuse? Have you been diagnosed with cancer or some other serious medical condition? Do you live with chronic pain? Write about it.

Research shows that unresolved issues can create physical disease. That is to say, your mind is not at ease, and left alone that can lead to real medical disease. Work through it. Write through it. Write it out.

Here are a few prompts to get you writing if any of this post resonated with you:

  1. I am a survivor...
  2. Living with pain is like...
  3. What I don't want to remember is that...
Yes, it's hard. Yes, it hurts. No, it's not pretty. But sometimes the most important step we can take to start down the path of healing is to rip off the scab and bleed a little.


Goings On Around Here

It's fall now. Chilly temps, heater running, leaves sticking to the bottom of our shoes, rain...

I've been busy having out of town guests, keeping the laundry pile from surpassing me in height, dropping off and picking up Daughter 1 from school & keeping up with her school activities, supervising Daughter 2 in her many attempts at Climbing Things Not Meant to be Climbed and the art of coloring, restocking the pantry, working, checking out some new Fall TV shows, and baking. The other night the girls and I made dinner & dessert for their Daddy and enjoyed our cake with a tea party.


What's keeping you busy? What's the best thing that's happened in the last month and the worst thing? Write about them.


Prompt: Growth

Using colored ink in your journal can help you theme entries into categories.

Green symbolizes so many things -- nature, growth, life, earth...
This week: Write in green ink about a time when you were growing. Maybe you were growing physically (growth spurts as a child, becoming a teenager, pregnancy, etc...), maybe you were growing emotionally. Maybe it was mental growth (school, classes, etc...) or spiritual growth.

Write about it. Growth. Life. New Beginnings.



"The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly." -- Friedrich Nietzsche



What are you using to decorate your journal? Try something new this week! This summer I've been experimenting with rubber stamps. Loved these brown butterflies!


Journaling Escapes

This morning after dropping my Kindergartener off at school, I took my toddler to a coffee shop overlooking the beach. She enjoyed apple juice & toys while I did some writing and sipped a latte. Later, I journaled at the beach while watching her chase seagulls and feed them her Goldfish crackers.

Where are you journaling? Finding new places to journal can free up your writing, and shake up your routine and perspective. This week: pack up the supplies you need to journal and find a new place to write. It might be your car, the playground, a train or bus, a cafe in the grocery store, the doctor's office waiting room, your front yard, or the children's section of your local library. See where your thoughts take you on the page, and report back.

Happy journaling & stay tuned...



Journaling is a hobby you can take with you quite easily, even if you use more than a pen and blank book.

What I generally take out-and-about with me fits in a big handbag with plenty of room leftover for wallet, keys, cell phone, etc. etc. plus things my daughters might need like snacks, board books, and extra clothes.

I like to take:
  • my journal
  • pens (at the bare minimum, one archival-quality black pen, like the Sharpie Pen, or Pigma Micron.
  • stickers
  • a gluestick
  • colored pens or pencils.
TIP: Affix an envelope into the back cover of your journal, and put bits of art or stickers inside, for quick additions to journal entries on the go.

Here's a short video on one art journaler's personal travel tool kit.

Happy journaling and stay tuned...

Contentment (Prompt)

I read somewhere that it's often easier for people to write about hard times and sadness than it is to capture with words happiness and true contentment. Think back to the last time you felt perfectly happy. Write about that moment, day, or time in your life with as much description as possible. Were you happy because of external circumstances, or despite them?


Changing Seasons

When the weather begins to change, and one season morphs into the next, it is easy to think about other changes taking place around you and within you. The other morning I woke to a cold house. It felt like Fall. Today my daughter started Kindergarten, and the yellow school buses are busy with their pick-ups and drop-offs around town. It is a season for new crayons & pencils, sweaters, and new beginnings.

Make a list in your journal about the things you love about Fall. Lists are fun! They are easy, can be done quickly, you can use bullet points, or different colors of ink or fonts, whatever you like. Doodle a border around your list or use stickers or magazine pages to illustrate your page.

Here are a few of my fall favorites:
sweater weather
new jeans

fuzzy socks
hot drinks
the crisp smell in the air
the seasonal scents & flavors -- apple, caramel, pumpkin...
long evenings to savor
the crunch of brightly colored leaves beneath your feet
baking pumpkin bread & muffins



Sometime in the next few days, do some writing using this phrase to start: "I used to believe..."


Extraordinary (Holiday) Monday

These are the best kinds of days... sunshine, not hot, and fresh air; outing with my family; everyone happy; toddler giggles from the playground tire swing; coffee & journaling; burger lunch outside; good conversation with Jonathan; strolling while hand-holding; tourist toodling; feeling elegant; wearing pearls; the awareness that I respect the man I married; the absence of tasks and duties waiting at home. No schedule, no agenda... just togetherness and fun.

Details, details, details... and the Art of Being Present

In writing, as in life, it is valuable to learn to be present. Writing is enriched when detail from as many of the five senses as possible is included. When I find myself content or joyful in a moment, I often stop and think specifically about what is contributing to my happiness.

Example: "This moment brought by the smell of Tide laundry detergent, the sound of Indie music on Pandora, the taste of cinnamon-brown sugar-cream oatmeal, the sight of two itty bitty girls smiling, and the feel of lavendar-infused shea socks."

What is it that has caught your attention about this moment? Is it a cool breeze that's blowing the wind off your face, or the faint smell of rain lingering in the air? Is it a giggle from your child, or stacks of freshly folded laundry? Whatever it is, use it in your writing.




Prompts work equally well for journaling or writing. Often, your writing will end up somewhere you didn't expect when you began writing from the prompt.

Try and set aside a few minutes sometime in the next week to write about a time you felt alone in a crowd.


On Journaling

My writing journey began nearly twenty years ago when I began keeping a diary. The diary was a gift from family friends. It was white, small, hardback, with a tiny gold lock & key. I especially adored that feature as I had three siblings. I began to write in it, and eventually I filled its little pages, and got a new diary, also small with a lock & key. Fast forward through the years, and many preferences of journal size & style, and I now have boxes of filled journals. At some point in this journey, I began to add things in, other than just writing. If I flip back through my volumes, I find all sorts of things attached to the pages -- receipts, photos, stickers, brochures, ticket stubs, ballet & theatre programs, greeting cards, candy wrappers, florist cards, you name it, it's probably in there somewhere. I have used many methods for affixing said objects -- staples, Scotch tape, doublestick tape, clear packing tape, and gluestick.

Essentially my journals have become what I jokingly call "scrapnals" -- a mix of scrapbooking & journaling. They are journal books, filled with lots of writing, but with a fair amount of proof & illustration.

I journal about everything. Daily events, things my daughters say, celebrations, tough times, food, weather, outings & events, things rattling around in my head and heart that have no audience.

Journaling is therapeutic. But that's not nearly all it is to me. Between the covers of my journal I record life. I creatively illustrate my pages using stickers, brads, marker, colored pencil, rubber stamps, photos, drawings, etc...

It is art. It is creativity. It is authenticity. It is history. It is reflection & recollection & restoration.

"Creative journaling", for lack of a better term, is a gift. Watch for future blogs on journaling.

Seeking Beauty

I have sand on my feet as I write. The ocean inspires me like little else. What inspires you? In the midst of jobs, responsibilities, stress, deadlines, and obligations what feeds you? In starting this blog, I am attempting to create a space where inspiration and art can live. Like a packet of flower seeds, I hope this will be just the beginning of things to come -- for me and for you. Stop by and see what I'm thinking about, what's grabbing my attention and inspiring me. My hope is that you'll begin to search for authenticity; that you will look for beauty around you.

Stay tuned...
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