Books! Plans and Quilts

SpringBeautyBookCapture

Hello friends,

I’ve got stacks of books on my table and books on my brain! The above image is a rough draft cover for one of the books I’m working on. I’m using shutterfly to create this book:

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I created my first book over a year ago and shared the online link to view. It is called Fall ~ A Thankful ABC Book.

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I finally ordered it and when it arrived I was PRETTY excited! It will help me tweak my other books. They are all seasonal each with a different theme. I will be focusing on creating these books from the last few years of work. They will be inspirational, beautiful and meaningful to me (and hopefully others!) The rest of this year of 2017 will be focused primarily on the Seasonal books and making quilts and having picnics. And I’m also hoping to get chicks!

I’m inspired by Selina Lake books:

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and by Susan Branch books:

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AND then there are some awesome books I’ve been reading:

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

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Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequest

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I also bought a copy of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden

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I have immersed myself in making playlists of music on Spotify (thanks to my daughter for helping me!) I’m listening a lot to the soundtrack of the movie, “You’ve Got Mail.”  Try clicking this link for a listen HERE! I’m listening to music while I’m working on books.

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Other books I’m spending time with are my Bible, journal and daily devotional: focusing on “Beauty for my Soul” in this Season.

quiet time

quiet time

My latest quilt was a gift. My next quilt will be for a picnic to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary.

repurposed quilt

shabby chic quilt

My plan is to do many picnics this year. I will be living my picnic fantasy (including me enjoying the picnic!) Not sure what else God has planned but I will probably not be as present here on the blog or on social media.

Bye For Now,

and hoping you get some time soon to be Creative and “Live Your Dream.”

Melanie


Broken (and Blessed)

A Season of great Blessing and Brokenness

“Our deepest blessing is born of our brokenness…” -Ann Voskamp

(*Note: the youtube videos are wonderful but if you do not watch them, it’s okay. I share important lyrics in writing.)

“I’m Not Alright” – Sanctus Real

I’m not alright, I’m broken inside

Broken inside

And all I go through, it leads me to you

It leads me to you

Burn away the pride

Bring me to my weakness

‘Til everything I hide behind is gone

And when I’m open wide with nothing left to cling to

Only you are there to lead me on

‘Cause honestly, I’m not that strong

And I’ll move

Closer to you

That’s why I need you

“I am not unbreakable…”

(from the new Gilmore Girls ~ which is a show I enjoy but wouldn’t exactly recommend)

Oh, I am not unbreakable,

I am breaking right now

I’m experiencing a season in my life that is profoundly broken and blessed….I have asked my husband, “how can things be SO good and SO bad all at the same time?”

There has been joy and sorrow. There has been birth and death. There has been living and dying (all at the same time). There has been good and bad. There has been new and old. There has been rejoicing and grief. There has been fear and there has been peace. There has been so little and so much. There has been dreams come true and there have been dreams lost. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Side by side.

During the Christmas Holidays, we were given so many gifts that spoke to our heart and our needs. I asked my husband, “how do we have so much and so little all at the same time?”

This recent Christmas was the first Christmas (that I can remember) that I didn’t have presents for my children. However, we were incredibly blessed by love and gifts from family. I felt incredibly broken and blessed. So much and so little at the same time.

The week after Christmas I got my dream {free} chicken coop. The same week my husband got an opportunity to rent a small space in a larger shop. We couldn’t believe these Big dreams came true. The right place, the right price, the right time. (or so we thought) Then my father in-law became very ill and all of life seemed upside down. Gifts from God looked ill-timed. Really God?

We didn’t know how long this “upside down”  life would go on. It still feels “upside down.” My sweet father in-law went to Heaven end of January. Sorrow and Joy all at the same time. I used to think life was more black and white. The past couple months have thrown a lot of color into the mix! There was never a whole day of sorrow or a whole day full of joy…

Even dreams that came true. They didn’t quite come true the way we envisioned. Even dreams coming true brought some disappointment and sorrow mixed with incredible JOY.

Several babies of friends were born this month as my father in-law languished…

As he languished he still was living. And loving. and believing. and doubting.

Even the babies that were born into such love and joy. There was still pain.

How (in the world) can there be so much good and so much bad….ALL at the same time?

How can my heart be so good and then I realize the ugliness buried deep within? (all at the same time)

How can I trust God and take a step of faith toward His plan? ~ but at the very same time, make excuses and continue down the other path (just to be sure) Trust and Doubt both dwelling within me.

So glad our God is full of grace. I hope this Season has taught me to have more compassion toward others. It’s not just my life that is conflicting.

(as this writing was brewing I read a few quotes from Ann Voskamp from her new book, The Broken Way) I know these quotes fueled this writing to be born so I if you want to read more about this topic, look her new book up. Her Instagram is @annvoskamp. These quotes stopped me in my tracks:

*wholeness and brokenness are not opposites

*you don’t have to be afraid of broken things, because Christ is redeeming everything

It is a broken life with blessing. Broken is blessed. It is a mystery to me how I came to the end of myself. I didn’t really see it coming until a few days before the funeral.

Completely Broken…

I did not have the strength to go to my own father in-laws funeral. All the preceding week I did feel anxious about the upcoming weekend but my complete breakdown was a bit of a surprise.

All the negative feelings that could possibly come to mind, in fact, did and left me weak and unable to pull myself together. Memories from the past, broken relationships, the family’s grief and anxiety, etc. I felt myself staring down a tunnel of darkness. I recalled nightmares, paranoia and even a “face of fear.” I could not imagine feeling this overwhelming sadness in a large group of people.

I found myself undone. Telling my husband about it all left me wondering how mental illness creeps in until it becomes truth. It also made me feel incredibly blessed to have a husband who is patient and listens late at night to my “crazy” thoughts and endless tears.  I can’t remember the last time I was “undone.” (it has been a while but I have had Seasons of darkness and mental illness)

I found myself with paranoia about certain people, feelings, past experiences, spiritual questions.

The “Prince of Peace” song (by Hillsong) I’ve listened to over and over again.

“Be Still My Heart and Know that You are God.”

Prince of Peace

“You’ve Never Failed and You won’t stop now.”

“My Soul will rest in your embrace.”

“I am Yours and You are mine.”

Prince of Peace

I don’t understand why this brokenness has happened to me. But God allows it. He allows it in everyone’s life. At the same time I was facing my breakdown, I clearly saw brokenness in everyone around me. I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew I might find some comfort in being with others who are broken. But I couldn’t find the strength. God barely whispered to me to trust Him in my weakness.

Isn’t is said that our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness? I saw this clearly in my own family members and I saw it clearly in myself. I am sensitive and empathetic. These qualities can be helpful but can also bring me down. I want perfection and “black and white.” These qualities help me feel like I have control. But I know that perfection is a myth and this life is not in “black and white.” There is so much color.

Imperfection and brokenness are my least favorite. God is showing me that imperfection and brokenness is how life is on this earth. And He created it that way. ?  I run from imperfection and brokenness. Sometimes, I lose the strength to run and God says, “it’s okay. I’m here in the brokenness. In fact, there is beauty in this mess.”

I’m looking for the beauty. It is what gets me up (barely) in the morning. I’m keeping track of my lovely thoughts and texting them to myself. I’m believing that God is with me. He is with the broken-hearted.

How do we navigate this imperfect and broken life? God whispers to me to look for beauty in the brokenness.

This season has reminded me that joy and sorrow, death and life, fear and peace, so little and so much can, seemingly, happen all at once.

This season is reminding me that we are all broken and trying to make sense of it. This season has prompted me to look for beauty in the darkness. It is not what I want to do ~ but I must. There is blessing and beauty in brokenness.

camellia

(this pink Camellia is living and dying. It is a little ugly and beautiful.)




January bits of news

society6.com/countrycottageliving

Dear friends,

I had a few bits of news to share with you…I had fun playing around with uploading some images to society6.com/countrycottageliving. They put the images directly on products so anyone can buy and I receive a very small profit. I’ll upload a few more every so often and hope to develop them into Seasonal collections. A print starts as low as $13 and watch for sales on products and free shipping offers! Check out the little shop HERE!

In the Winter Issue of Mingle Magazine, my work was published titled: “Valentine’s Picnic for the Girls.” This is the cover of the magazine that came out January 2017 and will likely be on newstands till March.

Mingle Magazine

If you’d like to see all the images and story for the Valentine’s Picnic, HERE is the link at Country Cottage Living. I’m sharing more of my heart in my magazine write-ups – I hope you get a chance to peak at the magazine article. (below) one of my favorite images

winter valentine picnic

After resting and organizing a few closets and drawers the first couple weeks of January, I started painting pieces to sell and then started painting my kitchen cabinets. My kitchen cabinets are almost done and I think my new WHITE kitchen is going to be very cheery and inviting; I can’t wait to do a little photoshoot and share it with you in February. I was very inspired by @selinalake ‘s Instagram post:

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I want to incorporate the “vibes” in the photos in my new looking kitchen!

Also, we scored a “new to us” chicken coop free off Craigslist….a dream for years finally coming true! Chickens in the Spring has a nice ring to it! Many photoshoots to come of my new chick friends!

@simplyrosiephotography on Instagram is one of my absolute favorites and this image definitely makes me smile:

Simply Rosie Photography

And last, but not least, my dear father-in-law is near the end of his life and we are spending time and energy saying goodbye and making him comfortable. I’m trying to support my husband as much as possible during this Season. However, my paint brush seems to bring me some kind of therapy. I don’t have to think too much so I just keep painting stuff. I guess I’ll keep going till I run out of paint :0  Here is my father in-law and me in 2010. I made an amateur video of us making German Sourdough Rye Bread together so I could learn how. I’m pretty good at making the bread now but it’s no easy task!

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If you’d like to watch a little of the videos on YouTube, here is Part 1 and Part 2.

I am lifting him up in prayer and meditating on Psalm 23.

Psalm 23 (KJV)

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Until next time,

~Melanie

Winter Sunset