The One My Soul Loves

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Behind the scenes at Coastal Occasions, Jacksonville Beach | Event Styling: Make My Day Planning

I am a hopeless romantic.  I love Hallmark movies, princes in shining armor, gorgeously-styled wedding photography, all things bright and beautiful and true love that never ends.

Maybe I should say I am a hope-full romantic.

Full of hope because no matter how dark the night, how contentious the politics, how volatile the social issues, how challenging the personal season, I know that I belong to the King and the most beautiful of weddings here are but the faintest shadow of what He is preparing for the Church, His Bride. He is the One my soul loves and I will wait for Him.

But I revel in even the faintest foreshadow reminding of His goodness.

The last month has been a whirlwind and I have cherished connecting with some incredibly talented creatives.  I got to design my first bespoke (that’s design lingo for customYes, I had to look it up too.) wedding invitation suite and have it featured in the styled shoot above.

Not quite 2 weeks ago, I sensed Jesus with a wink saying it was time to start designing wedding invitations. I had been looking into that area as a possibility but not seriously until He mentioned it. My reply: Well, OK Jesus, if I’m to step out in doing this, I need to have some kind of launch party or something.  And I need some great photography.

A few hours later I found out about a need in a local styled wedding shoot scarcely a few days away and the match was quite literally made in heaven.  Almost overnight, I found myself thrust into the world of wedding stationery and styled photography.

Then came the all-night make-it-happen moment where every creative doubt I ever had stayed up all night screaming at me as I lettered and painted.  I just prayed my part was enough to serve what was needed.  I arrived on set little more than 72 hours from when I said yes to Jesus about this new direction. I left with many more friends than I came with and some amazing confirmation.

And so the line Watercolor & Whimsy Weddings by Michele Perry Design was born. (Photos coming soon!)

I’ll be creating bespoke (fully-custom) wedding stationery as well as pre-designed stationery suites with customizable elements.  Both will be available at a fraction of the normal cost because the stationery components will be delivered digitally as print-ready files and/or digital files that can be sent as email attachments or via social media. I’m also working on a commission service called Forever Petals™ where I use photos of the bridal or wedding florals as the inspiration base to create coordinating watercolor floral art that won’t wilt or whither.

You’ve heard me say that many times my life journey following God’s heart is a prophetic one. This unexpected turn in the road is no exception. Every time I put brush to paper, it isn’t just to serve a customer or execute a creative vision; it is a prayer from my heart responding to the love-cry from His.

The Father is sending out His invitations for the wedding feast of His Son. Beautiful, bespoke invitations created uniquely for each person, culture and tribe. Inscribed with the names written on His hands.

Invitations where we are not simply invited to fall in love, we are invited to fall into His love story that never ends. 

P.S. I’d sure appreciate prayers:

  • For creativity, the right relational connections & huge amounts of wisdom.
  • For open doors to demonstrate God’s heart to my community and all He brings.
  • For God to open the doors no man can shut and close the ones no man can open… and bring the right clients at the right time.
  • For the details to come together on getting ready to move into my house/studio space with as little hiccups as possible and huge grace as I settle in while juggling school and ongoing health issues.
  • For favor for the styled wedding shoots I’m contributing to, that they will be featured in the right national as well as regional publications.

 

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Learning To Dance In the In-Between

You can find prints of this new lovely on my Etsy storefront
You can find prints of this new lovely watercolor on my Etsy storefront.

Two months ago I sat down to write here more regularly.  Then life happened.  I gave up eating 95% of anything that was not plant-based for health reasons.  I discovered coconut milk coffee creamer.  My apartment/studio/office flooded for the 4th and 5th times with waste water. There was mold, rust and general environmental mayhem. My laptop became a wastewater casualty, along with whole grad school notebooks of notes that succumbed to mold and water damage… in the middle of semester finals no less.  I wound up with around 15 days to move out of my apartment.

I packed up my world up and moved it to storage. Not a small feat considering I can pack an apartment like I pack a suitcase. I encountered one of the worst moving companies on the planet who actually screamed profanities at me when I left an honest, even generous, review. I moved in with family for the summer as we figured out what was next. I updated some things around here (love the new banner) and on my design studio site because, well, they needed updating.  My business has been in a holding pattern.  My health has been hit hard.  It has been a battle.

13490688_10209889049289834_3950160464243038224_oBut… today, I BOUGHT A HOUSE!

There has been a lot of living in the in between these last few years since returning from Africa.  But, once again, God used a seriously bad situation to open an amazing door of opportunity.

I no longer will have to live in my office!  I will have a separate room with a door I can shut when the work day is over. If I could have sketched the floor plan of my ideal setup for this season, it would have wound up being the layout of this cottage style house.  Grateful is too small a word. It is my cozy bungalow.  A blank canvas I can make 100% my own.

When I asked Jesus to speak into my living situation, I felt led to look up the street number of this home in the book Psalms right after we initially viewed it.  My apartment had just flooded for the 5th time, I was sick and I was so frustrated with everything. The street number took me to Psalm 29 where it says the Lord sits enthroned at the flood. He did.  Sit enthroned. Five is the number of grace.  And there was.  Such extreme grace at every step. There is much more woven into this house’s story and how it marks a huge seasonal transition but, suffice it to say that it is not simply a commitment, it’s a calling.  Jesus  has such a sense of humor!

I’m stepping out into new mission field that is just as broken, hurting and desperate as any I have served in before.  The brokenness here just looks different.  I don’t know where the steps will lead in the days and months to come, but I know the One Who is leading the dance.  And that is all that matters.

 

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Why I Deleted My Instagram Feed

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I know.  Who does that? Just delete every single photo in her Instagram feed to begin again?

I just did.  On purpose. Voluntarily.

Tangential Confession: I’ve watched many episodes of Hoarders.  But I can’t watch the show any more.  Just the previews give me claustrophobic panic flutters. I see a pile in the corner of my office and I’m like, OH NO!  My spaces are far too cluttered and the answer is not more space.  I am one person with a small dog.  I have no need for more than 720 square feet, if that. I don’t need more space, I need less stuff. So this year, I am on a relentless quest of de-cluttering my world.

I finally realized this last week what I love about staying in hotels so much.  There is no visual clutter, anywhere.  Just wide open spaces and serene surfaces. Peaceful tranquility.  I feel calmer and more creative just thinking about it.

Clutter isn’t just physical (though I have way too much of that), it is mental, emotional, spiritual and in this day-in-age, very often digital.

My Instagram feed was cluttered and quite honestly, it was driving me nuts. So often I think we get trapped by our online accounts.  My social media does not own me.  I own it.  Period.  Take that cluttered social feeds!

I would look at beautiful boards on interest of white, clean, minimalistic scenes and carefully curated spaces and think… ahhhhhh.  Maybe. One day.

Then last night, one day became today.  There’s no way to do it, but to just do it. I downloaded all my Instagram history {I didn’t want to loose my pictures!} and then set an app to delete every last photo on my feed.  {Not my account, I didn’t want to loose my followers, just my content.}

I want my Instagram feed to be a refuge.  Not just for you who are kind enough to follow along, but for myself as well.

I’ll be posting regularly so the feed will grow again.  Do you need some artful encouragement and digital serenity? Head on over there and follow the journey.

Bright, airy, simple, encouraging, a journal of illustrated grace and intentional simplicity, without the visual clutter and noise. A place for your soul to breathe and your heart to still.

Don’t be afraid to delete, unfollow, unsubscribe and take charge curating your digital world on-screen so you have time for what really matters off-screen. You are loved!

Less Is More

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It has been a forever since I’ve been here.  Life has been slightly crazy.

Renovations (unsolicited) turned my office/apartment upside down and buried me under an avalanche of stuff for a week.  Before that, were health issues, taxes, setting up a pro business website from scratch on a totally new platform (L-O-V-E the result, micheleperrycreative.com), grad school and taking on the youth department at my parent’s church {as a volunteer- if you’d like to help me have a little salary for what I do to help cover my basics or at least gas money, (shameless plug) you can donate via my sending church here.}

You get the idea. It has been busy.

My most recent forced renovations have renewed my urge to simplify in earnest. Stuff suffocates.  Space breathes.  It is just that simple.

I doubt I will ever be a hard core minimalist, but I am fascinated by them. Living from 1-2 suitcases for 7 years cured me of hard core for the moment.  But I am definitely looking forward embracing simpler, lighter, freer living with closets that don’t require my body weight to close the doors, functional organization and order in place, and surfaces that clear and restful.

Because budgets are threadbare at the moment, subscriptions like Hulu are banished in favor of groceries and rent.  I don’t actually think I’ll miss them unless I’m either sick or bored.  And I don’t have time for boredom. Or sickness.

I may live on a paved road now, but the mission field is still all around. And unlike where I have been used to serving, this mission field moves FAST. I am so used to moving slow, but I am gradually finding a new pace with a new grace for this new place.

As I pray about where our journey together is heading, I feel an ever so slight bend in the road bringing renewed focus here to topics around devotional living, spiritual growth in Jesus, missions and simplicity.

Tidying things up.  Bringing focus to what matters most.  Him. You. The nations.

Stay tuned… more to come!

The New Face of Missions

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The face of missions is changing. It has to. If all we were doing was the sum total of all God wanted done, the job would be finished and we’d be at a wedding feast.

Missions has become “professionalized”. I know. I’ve been and still am a missionary professionally. And that isn’t changing. But the problem with professionalizing anything is it can take what once was considered the calling of all and relegate it to a relative few, the experts with the degrees. For brain surgeons, professionalization is fabulous. But for missionaries, not so much.

Professional missionaries alone will NEVER get the job done of reaching the world.  It doesn’t matter how trained or smart or even anointed we are.  God never intended missions, or ministry for that matter, to be left to a handful of experts.

If you love Jesus, YOU are a missionary every bit as much as I am.

The issue isn’t IF you are missionary, it is WHERE you are a missionary.  And that location can change seasonally as you follow Jesus.

One of the many things I miss about working in South Sudan was that my kids got it.  They believed they were just as much a missionary as any of us. And they were right. They might have been even a little bit more passionate than some of us.  We adults had to break up fights about who was going to get to go pray for the sick at the hospital.

The harvest field isn’t going to uproot itself en masse and walk into our meeting places of worship. That’s why in Africa we loaded a flat bed truck with speakers and music and our kids and leaders and went into the literal markets of village areas. In the midst of tarps teetering on sticks and ropes, we prayed for the sick and shared the love of Jesus in ways those who gathered could relate to and understand.

Missions here in the west is NO different. Missions is about taking the reality of Jesus we know from our meeting place with Him OUT into our marketplaces. Missions is a bridge from the meeting place to the marketplace all of us who love Jesus are called to cross every single day.

Missions isn’t about invasion. We don’t go to rule over culture or take over the market.  Missions is about incarnation, where the very reality of Jesus made real in us, then through us, draws those with hearts open to receive. We show up… filled up (with Jesus) ready to be spilled out (as His love-offerings on the world around us).

So what skill, idea, business, vocation, training has God put in your hand, that when stewarded with wisdom and excellence, might open doors to genuinely serve your community as Jesus Himself is made real in you? 

THAT, beloved IS the essence of missions. 

The harvest will only be fully reached when the church as a whole, both in the USA and abroad, is empowered to lay hold of the truth: Missions has a new face today… yours.


Ok for that special announcement I mentioned Friday.

There is no way I would share this post without actually walking it out.  Over the latter part of last year and the beginning of this one, Jesus has been challenging me to His both-and reality.

Yes, I am still doing all I have been doing in missions and equipping within church/ministry circles with more doors opening all the time in that arena.  But I feel so strongly about this perspective, as well as the need for the church to see intentional, practical working models of this dynamic: I’m stepping out to open my own company.  It isn’t either-or, it is both-and.

What many of you might not know is that for the last 20 years almost every place I’ve gone I’ve been involved in helping individuals, ministries, organizations and businesses discover, develop and deliver their unique brand identities to the world around them. God said make it official… so I did. And MichelePerryCreative.com was born.

I’m now taking clients who would like help learning how to best tell the story of their brand, their business, organization or ministry and engage the right audience in ways that convert to real-world growth. I come alongside my clients with custom solutions for brand identity design, business development, digital marketing, social media planning and creative strategy that they need to truly soar. I share the same things I learned over the last two decades that have seen over a million dollars raised for projects I started and/or was involved in.

A minimum of 10% of all proceeds coming in are going straight back into the children’s village in South Sudan, as well as eventually to other partnered works.

You have a bold audacious dream… or even a tiny, timid one. Either way I can’t wait to help you make it come true!

Please help me get the word out there by: