Saturday, April 20, 2013

Welcome Kickstarter Friends!

Daniel and I are getting ready to launch our second Kickstarter campaign.  We going to be using the funds to help pay for the artwork creation of the back cover of Tarnished

I'm pretty jazzed about this, and figure that some new Kickstarter friends may find their way to this blog.  So, I thought it would be good to explain a bit.  This isn't a "normal" author blog.  This is a "Welcome to my World" blog.  Which is good, I think, because that way you can get to know the person who is writing the book, and if such things matter to you, can decide better if who we are fits well with who you are.

I post my art work here and I post links to other people's artwork here.  Daniel and I believe strongly in collaboration.

I also post craft tutorials.  I have fun doing them and I like to share what I am doing just in case someone else could be blessed by it. 

I also share inspirational stuff.  Things that I think God is sharing with me.  And just like the crafts, if I enjoy what He has to share, I figure maybe someone else will like it too.  I guess I'm one of those "mystic Christians".  That's a term I've started hearing lately for followers of Christ who really believe that God is involved in their every day lives.  I think He is very much involved and I hunger for His involvement. 

So that's the basics.  A big welcome to anyone who drops by.  We like friends.  Oh, and this is one of my images at right.

Friday, April 19, 2013

He Speaks In Dreams

Lots of times God will share stuff with me through a dream.  Night time dreams.  Like when I saw Daniel, my husband, in a dream about 5 years before I met him.  Job 33:15 says that God "speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds."  
 He sure does in my world.

Like right now, we've been going through some challenges with Daniel's work.  I use the word "challenges" very lightly.  It has been incredibly physically stressful to our entire family.  And this, after picking up said family and moving three states away in order to come serve these folks.  But in the midst of the worst working environment we have ever experienced, God gave me specific dreams that have to do with our situation.  I love it when He invades my world in this way.  It brings hope. (Image at right is by forgottenx: )

In the past, I have sometimes looked up symbols in dream books to try to bring more understanding to what God is telling me.  But I really think that dreams are incredibly personal.  You can only get so much interpretation from a dream book.

For instance, Grandma's house in your dream might represent all that is loving and warm and delightful.  In my dreams, my Grandma's house always represents a place of fear.  Usually I am blowing up my Grandma's house or leaving it.  I have no idea what a dream book would say about that(Image at left by Gilmec   But in my world, with my background (which no one really knows except me and God), a dream like that actually means that I am becoming more and more healthy in leaving Fear and trusting God when Fear attempts to torment me.  And what did "Grandma's House" mean to Little Red Riding Hood...well, before or after the wolf?  See how symbols can be so personal?

So, I had this dream recently.  It was actually rather morbid.  It didn't "feel" morbid while I was dreaming it.  But I woke up and thought, "Uh.  That's a hard one to share with people.  Just cause it's gross sounding."  And with that introduction, here ya go:

"Daniel and I were working in a dark, dank basement kind of place.  It was rough-hewn,
unfinished; not a good working environment at all.  (We talked it over later and agreed that pretty much sums up the working environment we are currently in.)  A lot of folks were working in this place as if it was a normal office.  Not far away from me on the ground (here's the gross part) was a clear plastic garbage bag and in it were a whole bunch of my internal organs.  I was worried about these, since I knew that a garbage bag couldn't be the right place for them (especially my heart, which I was pretty sure was in there).  Then the bag began to seep blood into the groundwater and other people began noticing and getting grossed out.  I mentioned it to Daniel and he told me not to worry.  He would throw the bag away.  It would be okay."(Image at right by Alipants: )

Needless to say, this was something of a disturbing dream.  We're throwing away my heart here?  That can't be good, right?   Well, I don't know what it means, (half the time, I don't, the day after I dream it), but I write it all down, as much as I can remember and file it away for future reference.

Fast forward a month or so.  The working environment we are in has degenerated even more.  The leadership is a fiasco:  there is constant under-cutting, juvenile-like pushes for power-plays, and my husband is having to deal with antagonism that we have never experienced before (and he worked for a stint in the state capital of California, for goodness sakes)!

Did I mention we currently work for a church?  So the leadership happens to be our pastoral leadership also.  Double ouch.  Nothing like the fun of getting friendly fire from the folks who are supposed to be spiritual family.  This has created just a tad more internal pain and stress than I am used to.  Ah well.

But, Daniel reminded me of something beautiful in the midst of this mess.  It's from this neat verse in Ezekiel (36:26):  "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

(Image at right is titled "Heart of Flesh" by Arteigel, who's gallery can be seen at .

I guess it's pretty comforting to realize that in spite of the pain that hits sometimes, there is Someone who cares, who notices and who plans on taking care of you.  He will allow you to go through the junk, yes.  And He will not ignore the pain--He SEES it (that part is important!)  But, He cares very much about your heart and doesn't want it to feel numb or be stepped on or be thrown away.  Rather, He will give you a brand new one, that maybe doesn't even remember the hurt that destroyed it in the first place.

Oh, and the day after this morbid dream, God gave me another one.  In it, I was going on a date with
my husband and we were going to go to a wonderful restaurant that was an all-you-can-eat kind of place.  We went to peek at the banquet and I remember being delighted by all the possible desserts.  In the dream, I remember thinking, "Hooo, boy.  There's so much good stuff here, we're going to have to be careful we don't eat too much!"

Ha!  How's that for an encouraging thought.  There's good stuff ahead.  And in the midst of working in a dungeon, that's encouragement!  That's what makes us keep our chins up and keep pressing on.  And that is the beauty of knowing that dreams are from God.   (Image at right by Er-ca :

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Fairy Named Kayleigh

    It's been such a long time since I posted any of my artwork up here.  Look, this proves I still do some!

    This is my little niece, Kayleigh.  She is just three.  She loves fairies, I'm told.  She lives in California, with the rest of our family, so we don't get to see her now.  A friend took this photo of her after she was bouncing around on a trampoline and fell.  She even made falling look fun.  I begged the use of the photo when I saw it on Facebook so I could turn her into a fairy.  Doesn't she make a sweet little one, though? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Influencers: Remembering Corrie

  As an author (who really needs to get back to writing the sequel to Tarnished, I've been thinking a lot about how much it matters who has influenced me.  I'm going to begin putting up posts every now and then that share who the "influencers" are in my life.  My heroes, basically.  Because if I was a reader, I would want to know.

  So, for the first of these, and in memory of the recent anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, I'm sharing about Corrie Ten Boom.

Corrie was also an author.  She wrote a book about the illegal activities she was involved with during WWII, when her country of Holland was overtaken by Nazi Germany.  She was involved with the Dutch Underground and ended up being put in a Nazi Concentration Camp for failing to reveal the hiding place of the Jews she had hidden in her home.  She didn't get started on this stuff until she was in her late forties, I think.  You can tell she was a rather extraordinary person just by hearing this much, right?

(Image above right which shows some of the Holocaust's victims belongs to Color-Her-World.  You can view this artist's work at )

In her book,  The Hiding Place, Corrie shares about surviving the Concentration Camp (Ravensbruck).  It's a pretty amazing story.  Here's a link to the book on Amazon: .   But she begins by sharing about her early life, growing up in the Victorian era.   One of those early stories left a lasting impression on me for how I choose to write.

(The above photograph is of Corrie and her family taken in 1902, Corrie is on the extreme right.
This story actually has more to do with her father, who seems to be quite an extraordinary man as well.  Little Corrie, who was around age 10 or 11, was with her father, a watchmaker, at the train station when the story picks up.  It is here that she asks him a question that had been troubling her.

      "'Father, what is sex-sin?'
      He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing.  At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.
     'Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?' he said.
      I stood up and tugged at it.  It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
    'It's too heavy," I said.
    'Yes,' he said.  'And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load.  It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge.  Some knowledge is too heavy for children.  When you are older and stronger you can bear it.  For now you must trust me to carry it for you.'
    And I was satisfied.  More than satisfied--wonderfully at peace.  There were answers to this and all my hard questions--for now I was content to leave them in my father's keeping." 
-page 26, The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom

I love this!  Isn't it beautiful?  A father, protecting his child from hard truths that could hurt or harm her before she is ready to hear them?  It reminds me of that one movie, Life is Beautiful.  Few of us have fathers who understand to this extent that a child should be protected in this way.

Now, keep in mind that Corrie was raised at the turn of the century, when sex was never discussed, even at home.   In our society today (which is rather infiltrated with "sex-sin", and therefore might require an explanation a little earlier), we might answer somewhat differently a child who is age 10 or 11.  That's not really my point.   I'm talking about the way Corrie's father valued his daughter's heart.  Like the way a millionaire might care for his Rolls Royce.  The millionaire is not going to drive his Rolls through a bad part of city or over roads that he'd take his beater Jeep on.  Like a man would recognize the worth of a ridiculously priced car, this father recognized the value of his child's innocence.  (Artist of image at left is kawaiikitteny, whose work you can learn more about at the link under the photo.)

Recently, I was hanging out with friends who have children around the same age as we do.  The father was boasting about their 4 year old son, and how the boy could watch anything and it didn't seem to affect him in the least.  The man had showed his son Batman, the Dark Knight.  I cringed.  What about that precious innocence?  To see such dark visions; images of lunacy, hatred, fear, affects me, as an adult.  What must it do to a four year old child?

So this is a legacy that my friend Corrie has passed on to me:  a desire to cover the children.  To bear some of the harder burdens for them, until they are older.  I keep this in mind as I write.  I do not wish to enter the deeper dungeons.  There is a place for that at another time or with another author but mostly I trust you will find my stories free of the heavier burdens that would be more than a child should be asked to carry.

Image at right is by artist *Zindy.  You can find her incredible portfolio at

Another friend and influencer (who you will hear more about another time), L.M. Montgomery, put it this way:   "A pine forest is just as real as a pigsty, but a darn sight nicer to be in."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Proposal in a Kilt

Almost seven years ago, my husband proposed to me.  Knowing my love for the fairy-tales, the movie Braveheart, and all things Celtic, he wore a kilt, ran up this hill and met me at the top, where he knelt down, gave me a fairy-tale he had written for me and asked me to marry him.

Yes, it really was that good.  Almost seven years later, it still is.

I'm incredibly blessed.  I don't say so to boast.  I say so because it can be discouraging when you are single and waiting for that special One to come along.  It can be hard to still believe in the fairy-tale.  I'm living proof to come along and tell you, "Don't give up hope.  Don't settle.  God has someone out there that is better than you could ask for or imagine."

What did I do while I was waiting to meet my husband?  Well, I looked to God a lot.  A LOT.  Being a single Christian who is trying to stay pure and wait for the right man can feel very lonely.  But it's worth it.  It is SO worth it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thoughts On Blue Hair

I was going through severe need for spring color and the winter here in our new home has been unlike anything I've ever experienced before.  So, I dyed my hair blue and purple.
To me, this seemed like a normal response.  Not a big deal.  I've added purple or blue highlights in the past.  Some like it, some don't.  My husband loves it.  But folks out here in the Midwest (remember, I'm a California native) do not seem to know what to do with me because of it.  I'm serious.  

Now, I'm not into rebellion as a way to express myself.  I am into "pretty".  I color my hair blue and purple, because to me (and more importantly, to my husband) blue and purple hair is pretty.

So, you can call me naive if you want, but I really did not expect any sort of prejudice to be connected to my odd hair color choices.  As in, prejudice against me because I have blue hair.  No way. 

At first I enjoyed the random glares I would receive here and there.  I would smile back at these folks like we shared a joke together: yes, I have blue hair--isn't it different and fun??  But then I noticed that some people I had started having a connection with previous to coloring my hair were stumbling over their words when we met, and trying hard not to look to hard at my coiffure.  Ah well, I figured.  It's just a good joke.

I've been attending a Christian Moms' group since having come to Illinois.  I decided to help out at their yearly Rummage Sale.  My purple highlights have faded to a pale navy color, and the brilliance of the aqua has also been toned down by numerous washings, so I'm not quite as colorful now as in the photos above.  The Moms' group got their first look at me when I showed up to help set up.  I've gotten a little more aware about the effect of my hair since it began to dawn on me that Mid-westerners are not as enured to such sights as apparently, Californians are.  Or even Colorado peeps, since I was there for one colorful hair adjustment too.

Anyway, somewhere during the course of setting up, I realized there was a discussion going on in a corner with a group of the ladies who were not trying to keep their voices low.   I first realized they were discussing hair and then heard something to the effect of:  "Maybe if you were living in a metropolitan area, but I haven't seen anything like that out here".

 My first thought:  "That doesn't sound friendly".

But then, I thought, "Maybe they aren't talking about me.  I shouldn't jump to that conclusion."  Daniel's a great one for reminding me that I should always try to assume the best about people and let them prove me wrong.  So I kept on working.  But I did notice that there seemed to be a decided coldness from some of the ladies who had been in that group talking about "hair and that".

Eh, no big deal.  I shall overwhelm them with my friendliness and helpfulness.  Then they will understand that hair color is no big deal.  But people can choose whether or not they wish to be overwhelmed.  One woman in particular was determined to not like me.  Hmm.  Maybe it's not hair at all--maybe she doesn't like my Colorado plates.  We'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

I had found one or two women who I got along with and was chatting with happily them at the Sale, so I was content.  After the height of Rummage madness was over, I sat down to munch on a piece of pizza with them and they asked me a bit more about myself.  I explained the move from California, and then the move from Colorado and they asked me how I like it out here.  So I was frank.

"I like parts of it, but ya'all our different out here about hair.  I have colored it this way several times and never have I run into quite so much...well...I don't know, maybe people in California are more hardened to such sights."  I ended this with a chuckle, because I guess I figured they would take it with the same surprise and see it as a joke the way I did.  But the gal who I had talked the most with responded, "Yeah, when I met you, I didn't get the blue hair.  But you don't talk like Someone with Blue Hair would talk."

Someone with Blue Hair.  You could almost hear the capitals when she said it.  And what does someone with blue hair talk like?  How do you make an assumption about anyone based on your first glance of their outward appearance?

Ugh.  It's like a bad essay prompt you would encounter in high school about prejudice:  "You don't talk like someone with (insert adjective here) would talk..."  Write one page.  Due tomorrow.

All I can think about this is, if they have an issue with my hair dye, how on earth do they handle the people who come into their churches?  (This sale we are having is a kind of outreach, as well as a service to the community. )  I have a good friend from California who has a bubbly personality and would lay her life down for the cross of Christ in an instant.   But if she were here, somehow, I don't think that would matter to some in this Mom's Group as much as the tattoos on the backs of her arms.  I don't think it would matter to them that both of the tattoos are Bible verses.  I'm not sure they'd get close enough to her to discover that.  Ugh.  Prejudice of any kind is so...nasty.

The book of James is actually quite clear about prejudice based on outward appearance.  Here's what it says in Chapter 2, verses 1 through 4:   

"My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.   If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"

(image above by Emberblue on deviantart: )
Sure, he's talking there about favoritism based on riches, but I think in our nation, where really, all of us are richer than 96% of the rest of the world, we can substitute basic outward appearance.  

I don't want to miss out on getting to know a person or know their story because I am shocked or slightly offended by their initial appearance to me.  They might be a treasure.  They probably are.  The best of treasures are usually the ones that are harder to find.  

There is one more day in which I need to attend this Rummage Sale. But honestly, I don't like those women at the Sale very much.  I don't want to hang out with them.  I want to go hang out with the teenagers that sport gauges or the piercings.  Those are my peeps!  They'd celebrate my wild hair with me.  It wouldn't be a hang-up to them and that would mean we wouldn't have to discuss it--instead, we could chat about things that actually have meaning.  Like God's goodness.  Or His love and incredible mercy.  

That settles it.  Only one thing to do.   I'll go to the Sale.  I committed to it, for one thing.  But I'm going to go get out the bright aqua and re-do all my bright colors before I go back in.  That's the only way to combat this prejudice junk.  And the religious junk.  Go face it head on, and love it to death. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

More Fun With Pinecones

   Earlier this year I put up a post of a wreath I made using pinecones that dropped from my own trees (it's so much fun to use stuff off my acre and a half!).

You can view that post here:

There are other fun things you can do with pine cones, and today, I wanted to show you something else I had fun making with them.

 Here's the first one:

I found some fun DIY projects on Pinterest where people had dipped pinecones in paint and then allowed them to drip-dry.  I had some leftover glossy white paint, so I decided to give it a try.  It was tedious and messy, but I think the reason I had more trouble was because of the kind of pinecones that I had.  They were too fragile and it was hard to make them work.  However, I have one tree that produces a heavy, thicker pinecone.  I think it's a cedar.  And with the pinecones from this tree, I got this beauty:
I screwed in a tiny picture hanging loop, and then tied the ribbon to it.  I'd been looking for something to utilize the knobs on this bathroom shelf. 

All the rest of the pinecones that I had experimented with worked great in this apothecary jar, with a few natural ones thrown in and some more of the green ribbon.  At first I left it like that, but I have these branches (same ones I used in the pinecone wreath) from these bushes that line one side of my house.  I liked the look of them sticking out of the top. 

The bathroom also has this window on the opposite side.  I figured, since I had a few more paint covered pine cones, that I would set a few in the window sill.  And since we have a pine cone theme going on here, I glued some of the pine cone seed flakes to a photo frame of my husband and I. 

I like the contrast of the natural pine cones with the paint covered ones.  It's fun.

Here's a detailed shot of the photo frame.  I used hot glue, but I will say if I thought this frame was going to get a lot of handling, I'd probably use tacky glue instead.  That would hold better on the metal of the frame.

I'll be doing at least one more post with pine cones.  I have another wreath and a small decorative Christmas Tree partially done.  I figure, since I have all these materials (pine cones are still dropping from my trees) that it is a good plan to work on future Christmas gifts now, when I have the time.  So stay tuned for at least one more Pine-cone Post--yay!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Division is Not Always Bad

"Pray for unity, come against division"...that's been a prayer for years that I have heard and agreed with.  Especially with the many ways we find to divide ourselves from one another, through denominations, political stances, sin, and belief systems.  But you know, I think it's important to remember that division is not always bad.

Why talk about division?  After all, we are on the heels of Easter Sunday, the one holiday in the Church which really ought to unify us all the most.  Oh...because I've been out getting my hands in the dirt.  No, literally.  See?

(image above by RoseKate: )

I've got these plants.  I'm not sure what they are.  Their old leaves and stem leftovers look like they are some sort of lily.  I've been told that they are a kind of wildflower and have blue blooms.  Sounds nice.  I'm not sure about all that, but what I have discovered is that they are a kind of bulb, and haven't been messed with in years.

Now, I'm no amazing gardener, but I do know that bulb plants are one of those flowers that need to be divided.  After they're all through with their blooming (somewhere else on the web they can give you specifics about this), you dig them up, and find that they're tuber like roots have multiplied over the year.  So you divide them.  And then in the fall, you replant them, separated so that they can multiply again.

The plants I am digging up haven't been divided in many long years, maybe never.  It has created this congested root mass.  They still bloom, but all in one massive clump.  So now I get the fun of digging them up, dividing them, replanting a whole bunch of them in other places and sharing them with anybody who wants them.  My whole place is going to look so much better for this division, and I'll bet the plants will do better, too!

Sometimes, God brings division intentionally.   Twice in the Bible that I can think of, off the top of my head.  In the Old Testament, He "divided tongues" at the Tower of Babel.  If you read the story, you find He did it intentionally because the people hadn't followed His directions about "going out into all the earth and multiplying".  He changed their languages to kinda force them to do His directions. 
 (Image of Tower of Babel by Poopgoblyn:

Then, in the New Testament, there was division in the Early Church between Paul and Barnabas.  They were two early missionaries, both good guys, but they had a disagreement (being human and all).  They had been traveling together for quite some time but this disagreement wasn't something that they could resolve without separating.  You might think this was a terrible thing, but it wasn't!  God used it, like He does.  He multiplied them through their division--now that's some delightful backwards math!  Paul and Barnabas both picked up new traveling buddies and ended up reaching twice as many places.

(Image of Paul Writing by eikonik: )

I just think that's incredibly encouraging.  God is so good at that sort of thing; taking what looks like a mess and turning it into a wonderful thing.  He sure has done that in my life a lot.  I guess it's just good to know that the next time something divisive comes along in our lives, it could be God allowing it to happen.  Why?  Not to punish, or sadden.  He's bringing division in order to bring multiplication.  It's a good thing!  It's going to make your life so much more beautiful!