February- I Am Lovely.

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Music in the morning is much better than makeup. Here is a video of my creative process- before I step into the studio to teach or create paintings, this is behind the scenes just as I am.

I was born to a midwestern, pigeon-raising, paper-route-carrying good ole farm boy from Iowa turned Engineer, and a Texas gal full of hospitality and all-things-nice who moved to Chicago and became a nurse. These two fell in love, married and started a fresh new lovely life together in Southern California. 10 years later, I was born. And life was still lovely when I was young.

But as time went on, the idea of what lovely actually is became clouded. At 10 years old, the bullying began. The kids in my class started wearing designer clothes due to our affluent suburb of Los Angeles. The success of the doctors, lawyers, stars, and the socialite culture sheltered our little society from the realities of urban life.

We had enough growing up, we were blessed. My parents did well, but they didn’t buy into the full material life that others were saturated by. I became an outsider- never really fitting in. Kids can be mean- cruel even. Soon, names like weird, odd, not cool, and ugly flooded the vocabulary of my classmates. Lovely would not be how I described myself. For several years after, I became shy, embarrassed of how I dressed, and what I looked like. I even stopped making art and writing for a season, because my sketchbook and journals were ripped to pieces in a circle of laughter. I became too ashamed to make eye contact. I banded together with the few other kids that didn’t make the cut of the perfect cookie cutter mold society had built for us.

My parents, disheartened by the bullying, truly had enough when I came home not only with a bruised spirit, but with a broken black and blue finger. So they enrolled me in a private all girls middle and high school. I was so used to not fitting in at this point that although the bullying stopped, I still was living in the effects of feeling unwanted, ugly, and weird.

One day, when I was 15 years old, I was at my locker grabbing the books for my next class, and one of the popular girls from my grade stopped by the water fountain. She said, “Jen, did you know you are really beautiful?”

I couldn’t believe it! I had been teased, felt alone and believed I was hideous. Yet, all of the ugly lies I had carried inside ceased to matter in this moment, for this one statement from a truly lovely young woman in my class, became the undoing of years of shame I had held for simply being me. I knew I had been kind and thoughtful; attempting to include those who had been forgotten, abused, or left out – because I knew how they felt. But Beautiful? That was something I’d hear from my elderly relatives, because after all, they HAD to say things like that.

Not being popular and being bullied had hurt, but it actually taught me so much about life; about building substance and character. I learned that lovely people are indeed lovely BECAUSE of their enchanting and pleasing character. Coming from a society that thrives off the latest botox treatment, or the next refining surgical enhancement that is sure to get superficial attention- to me, all of this seemed meaningless.

The definition of lovely reads: “delighting in beauty, harmony and grace; love by moral or ideal worth.” There is not much in that definition on outward appearance. In fact, most of it reflects a beautiful character of LOVE, HARMONY (the internal calm), and GRACE (a charming virtue coming from God).

Over the years I have learned that each one of us is lovely- a beautiful reflection of the Creator. The One who fashioned us after Himself, and blessed each one of us uniquely in the goodness of who He is. When we are showing up to live life lovely- we then reflect our God-given character, a beautiful harmony just as it was intended. It’s about radiating love- even when the odds are against you, when life has beaten you down and you still carry on in perseverance. Being lovely is courageous and strong, lovely is a way of life. I choose to step into loveliness; join me, for I Am Lovely, and you are too.

 

I’d like to share a few verses that have taught me a thing or two about exuding true loveliness from the inside out.

Philippians 4: 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Proverbs 3: 15-18 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Proverbs 31:25-31 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things,     but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Matthew 6:28-29 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

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I Am.

 

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I AM WHO I AM: From the Exodus, who we are was made known. Moses saw a burning bush, but it wasn’t burning up. So, he decided to investigate. As he walked towards it, his own name echoed out from the flames. He took off his sandals, for he was on Holy Ground. The voice out of the flames announced that it was the God of his ancestors. God had heard the cry of the Israelites, held captive by the Egyptians, and He told Moses to go and bring God’s people out of Egypt.

Moses asked, “Who am I, to do this?”

God answered, “I will be with you.”

Moses asked, “What should I tell the people of your name?”

And God answered, “ I AM WHO I AM.”

Many times in life we feel ill-equipped for what lies before us, and we struggle with what we are to do, who we are to be, and what we are to overcome. But God is with us; He is the I AM that is reflected in each of us. With Him- we are inspired, lovely, free, treasured, enough, worthy, restored, journeyers, healed, victorious, grateful, and joy-filled. It is the goodness of God that reflects as the light blazing within humanity. For if we are His children, and He is our maker- than it is by His hands He fashioned us to live out His truth. He promises to be with us, for that is who He is.

I chose to paint these “Truths” in the form of flowers, as each of these take root or “seed” in our lives; they are the fruits of our life, creating a blooming or blossoming effect. Each flower is symbolic to the actual birth flower of that month, and you will find the birthstone of the month nestled in each of the paintings as well. This symbolically represents us within the royal family of God, and the value that each one of us carries is greater than all the precious stones combined. I chose to paint the flowers of the year, organized by months in order to symbolize the importance of seasons that we have gone through, that we are in, or the ones to come. The backgrounds were created in a series of paint sessions; layers upon layers reflect the deep journey each of us take in our years of life- no two walks are the same. Some strokes are very precise, some are very free, and others, such as the drips, take a journey that seems to be all their own. A lot like our lives, we dig through the layers to uncover who we really are.

Enjoy the art, and if you are interested in owning a piece, they are FOR SALE HERE: https://squareup.com/market/blue-plume-studio

I Am  Inspired: January- Carnation, Snowdrop, Garnet

I Am  Lovely: February- Violet, Primrose, Amethyst

I Am Free: March- Daffodil, Jonquil, Aquamarine

I Am  Treasured: April- Daisy, Sweet Pea, Diamond

I Am  Enough: May- Lily of the Valley, Hawthorn, Emerald

I Am  Worthy: June- Rose, Honeysuckle, Pearl

I Am  Restored: July- Larkspur, Water Lily, Ruby

I Am  a Journeyer: August- Gladiolus, Poppy, Peridot

I Am  Healed: September- Aster, Morning Glory, Sapphire

I Am  Victorious: October- Marigold, Cosmos, Opal

I Am  Grateful: November – Chrysanthemum, Topaz

I Am  Joy-Filled: December- Paper-white, Holly, Turquoise

A March of Love Instead.

An old friend sent me an email saying,”Does this say ‘One human family’ or what?” With a link to NY times photos of the Woman’s March that happened all over the world this weekend. 108 photos total captured people marching, raising colorful pink banners shouting their cause.

But all of this to me seems to be a misguided light. For as I sat scrolling through the pictures of all the locations of the marches, and people believing so fervently that this right here would make our world better, I heard a soft whisper upon my heart. “I know a better cause. It is the cause that I placed within the Earth from the beginning of time. If humanity actually banded together and did this, there would be no need for marches. This weekend’s events was a bandaid for a bigger need in our world-LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS.” As God whispered this truth upon my heart, I realized that people were marching for a yearning for oneness that He placed within us from the beginning of time. Our hearts have been wired by the Creator to love. And, if we truely did what He beckoned us to do from the start, we wouldn’t have to have marches in the first place.

On Thursday night, while people of all races, cultures, genders and faiths were coming together to prepare for the marches, I was in the heart of downtown Portland meeting with people from different races, cultures, genders, and faiths who all came together for one common reason- each was homeless. A church had opened its doors and us volunteers banded together to feed, cloth, help find shelter for the cold night ahead, and most of all encourage  this group of individuals. I initially came to teach art that evening, but ended up sitting and listening to several of the young adults’ stories. Where were “the mommas” of these kids? “These kids need love. True love- the type that is patient and kind, not one that keeps records or so on. One that always lifts up, always trusts, always hopes, one that does not ever fail.” Most of the teens needed to be heard by someone that night, and every single one of them needed to be loved. To see the brokenness, violence, and cast aside feelings rise up in their eyes made my heart scream, “why don’t more people do this?! Invest in the ones here and now that need to be Loved Up.” Loved Up- the way God intended our hearts to radiate to one another.

If we spend more time and energy focusing on where the needs are in our society and we step out and DO, rather than shouting opinions at one another and then go back to our comfortable living arrangements of our own lives, we could actually change this world. If we Loved Up.

I started Blue Plume with a $100. God said to me, “Go be a light on a dark corner, change this world for the better.” That takes stepping out every day. That takes doing every day. That means I work til my back aches, til I my hands are tired, and my soul is drained, but at the end of each day, I know it is a job well done. Because I loved the best I possibly could that day. And you know the cool part? God replenishes for the next day and the next! God’s love source never runs dry. His love is truly living water, we are replenished by. Many lives have been transformed through trusting that mission I stepped into in 2010 with the start of my studio.

Love God, love others. It doesn’t matter what color skin you have, what gender you are, what is or is NOT in your bank account. We all have a human responsibility. That is LOVE. No matter what. And if we do it well, we won’t need marches.

Share Your Journey in His Favor: January – “I am Inspired”

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Over the last six years I have done something a little different. I have skipped New Year’s Resolutions. Completely. Instead, I decided to actually become a better person. A person not just riddled with fear and anxiety of not being perfect, but decided to intentionally work and grow as a deeper individual in a specific area.

In 2012 my journey of intentions began with a simple phrase- “Be Brave, Conquer your Fear.” And that year, I took a deep breath, and started my little art studio, Blue Plume, in a tiny spare bedroom.

2013 was my “Year of Transformation,” as I felt the rumblings of change, and something big, but I did not know how big it really was. As I began to explore my creative heart, I found my business growing immensely  and outgrowing my tiny home studio, which was bursting with creativity. But as an artist, authenticity was so important; I was yearning for acceptance in this. My marriage was in a perilous state, caught in between my anxious housewife duties, keeping our “perfect little modest house” in order- and the vibrant and bold creativity that kept me awake at night. Within a few tearful months, divorce papers were signed, and I numbly packed what was divied up as “my half” of the belongings. The sense that I had just walked through a fire, left me scrambling to save my heart somewhere amongst the ashes. So- I traveled America in an ice cream truck. Totally a reasonable thing to do, right? Well, it was the only thing that seemed to make sense to me, even though everyone looked at me dumbfounded as I told them about the tour I was embarking on. Sherwood to New York, two months on the road, it seemed as though I found myself and lost myself along the way. What I walked through, drove through, and painted my way through was a huge “Year of Transformation.”

2014 started isolated, quiet, and fighting for survival. The year of 2014 was the “Year of Sacred Time.” After walking through the explosive year prior, I was utterly exhausted. I hunkered down, living in a tiny white cottage with a red milk barn for my art studio. This was a year of many songs written, heart cries to God, begging for answers, and all the while, working 3 jobs to make ends meet. This was the year I attempted to take my life- but then God said, “I’m not done with you yet.” I had lost everything and had gained “Sacred Time” to discover the woman he had destined for me to be.

2015 I entered into a new found love and freedom of who God said I was-his daughter; so this became my “Year of Unbridled Freedom.” My fragile little heart was mending, but still weak, and I stepped into another marriage quickly without heeding warnings from friends and family. Even through a lightning-fast end to my second marriage, God poured His love out to me, kept me safe, and amongst all chaos, and comforted His daughter in her time of distress. It was through this time I learned what living with God-given strength and peace actually meant. My changing living situations, juggling my personal life while running a business, God taught me how to live in “Unbridled Freedom.” I was literally set free.

After going through a few years of utter wreckage, one either sinks or swims. I had fought for my life, almost lost it a few times, and it was as if I had swam so deep, I had uncovered a treasure chest deep within my heart. Thus 2016 became the “Year of My Heart’s Treasure.” In one of my journal entries, I described it like so,

“ My heart’s treasure, all the desires and dreams I watched crash and burn, fall away, like ashes from past days. God touched my heart with a Father’s love, with a stranger’s prayer, a 90 acre field, a rusty old barn; and in that place of loosing everything that had fallen through my clenched fists, I gained everything. To the world, it may look like I have nothing; but to me, I have found my heart’s treasure. As I reach to accept the contents within me, I now possess the desires once dead, the dreams once forgotten are now awakened to a place deeper, stronger, and bigger than I ever dreamed, for I have a father who loves me.”

This past “Year of My Heart’s Treasure,” I had realized my worth. I had realized my wealth. Although I started living 2016 in a sweet little rented room, smaller than my parent’s walk-in closet, and everything I owned fit in the back of my ole truck, I started the year with love from the Father above. That love radiated so full and so rich through my life, I ended 2016 happily married to a wonderful man who loves me for all that I am worth and all of my quirks. My big ole truck loves our farm and helps out when we need it to contribute to our bountifully big dreams we have dreamt for this sacred place. I traveled far and I am finally home.

So, this brings me to 2017- in prayer this November, I heard a whisper that welled up in my spirit. “Share your journey.” A few days later, I heard it again, “Share your journey in my favor.” I realized I had been sharing my story with people one on one that have come through the studio, going through difficult things and needing hope. But I realized God wants me to step out more. So 2017, This is my “Year to Share my Journey in His Favor.”  When I am able to share in His favor, all things good may flourish. In you and in me. For He is so good. I have so much to share with you this year, and this is just a snapshot of the journey God and I have traveled. and from this journey with Him, I gain my inspiration, and keep journeying through this amazing thing we call life. Everyday now, I live authentically inspired. I challenge you to do the same. Let’s see what 2017 brings.