Whose Dress Are You Wearing?

saisapreachingweb

Yes, that is me from what feels like a forever ago.   It has been well over a decade since this photo was captured on real film that I had to walk to the corner photo shop in Calcutta to have developed.

I lived in India then and was preaching at a healing crusade.  Standing there pouring my heart out, somewhat terrified because God had put a word inside of me that stretched me to my very edges and then some.

Jesus whispered the night before as I was drifting to sleep that there would be a woman coming to the meeting and she would sit in the very back row on the right corner.  She was wearing an “ugly” olive green sweater.

{Yes, He did say that.  My apologies to lovers of all things olive and mustard. I’m sure His descriptor was purely for my benefit.}

Jesus went on to instruct me to announce in the meeting and call her forward because He was healing her back.

I got to the stage and all my resolve crumbled.  I didn’t know what a word of knowledge was in those days.  All I knew is either this word was God or I was in for an epic fail.

Trembling with mic in hand, I silently told Jesus, “I am so sorry for my little faith, but can I pretty please just announce You are healing backs instead?”  He chuckled and said He’d let me get away with that this time.

So I timidly whispered into the microphone, “I sense Jesus really wants to heal backs. Does anyone have back problems?”

Before I could finish the question there was a shriek from the back right corner of the seating area and up ran a woman in an “ugly olive green” sweater yelling that Jesus just healed her back.

Ahem.  Yes Jesus.  I get it.  I’m so grateful He is patient with all my learning curves.  When something new is being born in and through our lives, it can leave stretch marks on our souls.

That is my idea of a great meeting.  Everyone encounters Jesus and falls deeper in love with Him.  He increases and I decrease.

I shared on Friday’s podcast the story of my Kathryn Kuhlman saga.  We talked about the incredible importance of finding the unique identity Jesus has given each of us.  God just doesn’t have  cookie cutter children.

In case you are not one to listen to podcasts here is a very condensed version:

The story started with me reading a book by Kathryn Kuhlman one summer.  I had a major God encounter after finishing it.  Over the next 2 years every single time someone would pray for me or offer a word of encouragement from God’s heart,  it always related somehow to Kathryn Kuhlman.  Other than the testimonies in the book I read, I didn’t have a clue who she was or what she did.

Early on in that season, I was praying and had a vivid picture of me preaching in this long white flowing dress with flowing sleeves and white sheer scarfs that flowed down the back.  Being new to how God sometimes speaks in metaphor, I took the image literally and got one of my friends to make the dress I saw.

I’m sure the angels were scratching their heads and all of heaven was like, “Doh, that’s not exactly what God meant sweetheart.”

Richard_Roberts_Kathryn_KuhlmanA few months later I rounded the corner of a church I was visiting and ran into a life sized picture of Kathryn Kuhlman wearing “my” dress.  Oh… my… Jesus.

I share the whole story on the last Friday Ignited podcast, as well as more of my journey in learning wear the dress God beautiful has woven and fashioned just for me.  And what a journey it has been!  Identity plays such crucial role in our life with Jesus.

You can download the episode via iTunes or listen right here:

You beloved are wonderfully and fearfully made.  An absolutely unique creation of God’s heart, His gift to the world around you.  Don’t miss out by settling for being a copy of someone else. Jesus paid far too high a price for you to be you.

All my love- Michele

One Tree 3 1/2 Ways {#SketchbookSummer}

tree-1a-1a

If ever I need to still my heart, all I need to do is step outside my door and feel the sun on my face and spend a few minutes in fresh air and quiet.

I’ll never forget being 10 years old and encountering the cherry blossom season in Washington DC. Monuments and buildings escaped me but the soft beauty of the falling snow of flowers etched itself in my soul.

Today is going to be a lot of fun.  Do you have your sketchbooks ready?  We are going to do an exercise that is extremely practical.

Have you ever had a moment where you needed a new way of “seeing” or “interpreting” your situation?  Where you needed fresh perspective but you felt stuck?  I know have!

One way to become more skilled in seeing the world around you in more creative and innovative ways is to practice!  This exercise is for executives and leaders, for those of you who say, “well I’m just not creative” as much or more than it is for those of you who create regularly.  We can all practice stretching our perspective!

1tree-6

I took a sketchbook page and divided it into quarters with blue painters tape which was later removed.

  • Section 1: I took the reference photograph of a cherry tree and did a loose pencil and watercolor sketch.
  • Section 2: I created an abstraction based on the reference. Blossoms are round and branches straight so I created a pattern of overlapping circles and lines.
  • Section 3: I did a very loose watercolor sketch {no pencil} of a close up view of the blossoms themselves.
  • Section 3 1/2: Included the fact I edited the reference photo {which had no copyright restrictions} quite a bit to achieve the color balance I was looking for.

Now for your challenge… Find a tree online or offline that inspires you.  Divide your sketchbook page into 4 sections using painters tape which will be removed when done.

  • Section 1: Print off a small reference photo and put it here.
  • Section 2: Do a loose watercolor/pencil sketch.
  • Section 3: Create some form of abstraction.
  • Section 4:  Look at some detail element.
  • On the back brainstorm how many other ways you could represent this tree creatively.  No limits.  Just let the ideas flow.  We are practicing stretching our perspectives!

SPOTLIGHT ON SUPPLIES:

1tree-3

When I am simply working in my sketchbook, I gravitate toward using children’s watercolor supplies.  I love the fact I can use them without any thought to using an expensive alternative to explore ideas.  Plus they are nontoxic.

The watercolor wheels above are a Chinese generic brand I found on Ebay and I really enjoy using them.  I also enjoy using Prang, Crayola and Daler-Rowney Student grade paints.  These pieces are not being sold or given as gifts so I am not worried about colors fading over time.

1tree-5

Here is a comparison color chart of a 12 pan set of Daler Rowney, a Crayola set of 24 you can find in Walmart, and the SBYL Chinese Watercolor Wheel.

Especially if you are just getting started, you don’t have to break the bank account with expensive artist grade supplies for art journaling purposes.  If you are seriously interested in learning watercolor then I would recommend investing a bit more in a mid-grade set like Winsor Newton Cotman.

I’d love to see what YOU create!  Snap a picture of your 3 1/2 ways and post it on my Facebook page’s wall.

 

Set Your Faith On Fire

friignited1 The moment when promises you’ve held on to through thick and thin, through love and loss, through twists and turns leap into being and start to happen around you.  There is nothing like it friends.

I’ll never forget one night after arriving in South Sudan in 2006 long before it became its own nation and I sat in a bombed out shell of building rocking a baby in my arms to sleep under the billion star African sky.  And it hit me.  I was holding His promises in my arms.

Late last night when my podcast went live on iTunes for the very first time, it felt like watching another promise start to unfold.  It could have happened sooner.  I could have received God’s promise and gone out and made it happen.  The tools were available.  My skills were in place.  And there would have been no shorter path to burnout and failure.

I am not called to make something happen.  I’m not.  I’m called to step out of the boat and do what I see my Father in heaven doing. Period.

I am so grateful I did not frenetically rush the process because this podcast would have been something totally other than what it was meant to be. It might have even been aborted because its birth would have been forced prematurely.  I wonder how many genuine God-dreams and promises get aborted by us not being willing to carry them to full term.  Probably far more than we realize.

Don’t get me wrong.  It has been a crazy techie learning curve navigating in a new audio universe with lingo like “gain” and “normalize” and far stranger terms that don’t mean what they do in other realms.  I refuse to put out less than the best possible quality I can with the tools God has given so it has taken longer.  But excellence doesn’t come from rushing or taking shortcuts. 

Much research has gone into the development process. It is far more than grabbing a microphone and letting loose.

Understanding best practices, how things work, topic generation, equipment purchase, hosting features and building the conceptual framework… all needed to be in place before hitting the publish button.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 11.57.03 PM

After much prayer and grace, Friday Ignited™ went LIVE in the wee hours this morning!  My goal each week is to write a companion post here that expands or engages aspects of the topic matter covered in a deeper way.

There are plans for equipping series, encouragement and sharing stories together {#CourageCasts}, even interviews and featured guests.  It is truly limitless what God can do through this new leap of faith.

It is my deepest desire that this podcast would be a source of building up the Body and that it does indeed set your faith on fire.  We can’t become carriers of His flame until we are willing to be consumed by it.  You can listen, download and subscribe via iTunes here, via the direct RSS feed here and on my SoundCloud profile here.

I sure hope to have you along for the adventure!

{While this podcast will always be joyfully offered for free, it is not free to produce.  Would you consider becoming part of my support team and help this project grow and develop into all that God desires it to become? No gift, no prayer, no act of love is ever insignificant.}

Love Blooms {#SketchbookSummer}

IMG_7039It has been a crazy week.  More projects than days. Launching anything is not for the faint of heart.  Even with all the challenges it is a joy to build something from scratch.  I feel somehow closest to God’s heart when I am creating, capturing colors, words and flinging them on page and screen.

I’m reminded this week that creating is nothing if not a labor of love.  And that is what we are.  You.  Me.  We are the creative work of God’s love.  We are born from the overflow of His heart, not from obligation.  That makes me stand amazed every time.

There’s this amazing series Mom and I have watched called The Men Who Built America. {I know… I’m waiting for the necessary sequel too…  The Women Who Kept America Together}.   But withstanding the gender focus, this was one of the most beautifully done series of its kind that I have seen.  In my cinematographically uber-picky opinion, at least.

I think it is easy to hear the term “old money” and look at the historically rich aristocracy and forget.  Old money was once new money.  It was the product of hard work, sacrifice and a huge amount of being brave enough to believe so strongly in something unseen that faith became sight.  Many of the wealthiest men in our history started with huge gaping deficits. They failed time and time again.  They just kept failing smarter.

Obviously some of the tactics they used were not just and I’m not advocating those.  Many are illegal today.  However their raw tenacity and gumption and refusal to accept defeat is pretty darn inspiring.

Creating takes a love that refuses to give up.  Maybe that’s why it makes me feel so close to Jesus.  He is Love that refuses to give up.

SO, do you have your sketchbooks ready?  A simple sketchbook and some basic watercolors don’t have to break your budget.suppliesI love Canson’s Mixed Media sketchbook.  It can take wet and dry media quite well.  I cover mine and make it a beautiful place to create in.  My favorite brushes are Simply Simmons.  I have very expensive sable brushes for watercolor but somehow I always return to these!  Talens Angora is a great student grade set of opaque watercolors to play with and my favorite pencil is found right here.

IMG_0761aWe are going to make a simple hand-lettered word that reminds us of summer {or fall or whenever you like!}  The beautiful thing is, if you can write letters, you can draw. That simple.  So no excuses saying you’re just not creative or you can’t draw.

handlettrcollageGetting started is simple.  Brew some tea.  {That bit is optional. I love green tea with mint in it in the afternoon.}  Pick a simple word like LOVE.  Using a ruler, draw two parallel lines on your paper to serve as top and bottom guidelines to keep your letters roughly the same height.  Measure the width of the paper and draw a light dot or tick to mark the center.  Write simple thin line letters to serve as a frame starting with the center-most 2 letters and working your way out from there.

IMG_0749Draw on top of your lightly written lines different shapes and kinds of flowers and leaves.  Need some inspiration for the flowery bits? Take scroll thru Pinterest here.

Now using a very fine brush and some watercolor, start filling them in with color.  When using watercolors, the color will go wherever the water is.  So when trying to keep colors within the lines only wet the part of the paper where you want that specific color to go.  Then let it dry before working in a different color nearby, unless you want the colors to bleed together and mix.  Build up layers of color (letting each layer dry before adding the next} until you get the effect you want.

Let everything dry completely.  Then erase any pencil lines showing you don’t want to keep.

IMG_0837Snap a photo of your masterpiece and if you are so inclined share it with us over on my Facebook page here as a reply to this post!

I happened to complete this version on watercolor paper for a print project I was working on.   Prints are available on my new store, RiverTreebyMichele.com and on my Etsy storefront as well.

Happy creating friends!  Remember you are a creation of God’s amazing love.

{This post has a few amazon affiliate links so if enough of you click through and decide to purchase something, you get a great deal and I may get a teensy bit of financial amazingness. Thank you in advance!}

Why Everyone Needs A Sketchbook {#SketchbookSummer}

imperfectartI’m convinced.  We ALL need a sketchbook.

I hear you thinking:

  • “But I’m not an artist.”
  • “But I’m not creative.”
  • “But I’m a hyper-logical, left-brained engineer turned executive.”
  • “But I’m just a __________ and can’t draw a straight line.”

I’ll tell you a secret.  I can’t draw a straight line either.  I just became friends with my ruler. ;-)

Somehow summer has raced by this year and the slowing down part of my plan never happened.  But here we are.  If we are going to have a summer sketchbook series, it better start now.  The days are quickly slipping into autumn.

It was in the 80s yesterday.  I almost panicked.  That is cold for swimming in my book.  90s are better.  Yes, I do wear sweaters when the thermometer dips below 75.

So welcome!  This series is for everyone.  You don’t need to be an artist or even believe you have a creative cell in your body.

Sketchbooks are about the journey; they are about the process far more than the product.  Most wonderfully of all, they are a safe place to wholeheartedly embrace imperfection in all its many-colored splendor.

Maybe that is why so many of us never even try creative projects out. I get it.  I’m a perfectionist in recovery. Imperfection is utterly terrifying. But without imperfection there is no creativity and there is no growth.artofimperfection-webWhat if there was a space you could put your very vocal inner critic in time out?  What if there you were free to explore impossible ideas and express big crazy dreams?  What if you could celebrate each new imperfection and mistake as progress and learning instead of failure?  What if the tyranny of the blank page became the tremendous expectation of all the possibilities that could fill it?

Keeping a sketchbook might just teach us something about living life a little lighter, a good bit freer with a whole lot more creativity.

And that is why everyone needs a sketchbook.  Including you.

I so believe in the importance of these concepts that they play a key role in my studies for grad school.  I’m fascinated by creativity and leadership and how each can transform the other…  2am-reading-crazy-academic-articles-for-fun kind of fascinated.  I know.  I just love learning.

I want to invite you to come along over the next 2 weeks and just try it out.  Grab a sketchbook and give it a go.  There really is nothing to loose.  {I’ll be sharing more about supplies tomorrow but you can do this in under $15-20.}  It won’t be the same without you!11755220_10207374118018124_1319652640018375830_nAnd before I forget, something SUPER exciting happened over the weekend!  I now have my very own online store and a growing product line!  Please check it out over at RiverTreebyMichele.com.  It has a growing assortment of prints and products from my original illustrations, fair trade items and more!  I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with this.  I will be loading new items all week long.

framed2

If you like the reminder above to “Practice the Art of Imperfection”, prints {unframed} are available right here. If you are more comfortable purchasing on Etsy, you can also find it in my shop here. Both places are secure and safe.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 7.58.18 PMAND to help get your creativity kick-started, I am offering a free #colorwithme adult coloring sheet to make the page a little less blank. I am in the process of creating a line of downloadable, printable guides called Make Your Own Masterpiece™ {#MYOM}.  You can print them on high quality paper or card stock and color them using pencils or markers.  Or you can print them on watercolor paper and use watercolors!

Download your free PDF right here.

Always remember friends: You. Are. Loved.