Why I Needed Rugby to Start Painting Again

"Jeana, you need to keep running forward —even when no one passes you the ball."

Twice a week, my rugby team plays a game of touch with the local men's team, and they were giving me pointers as I played. (And as a rookie, all advice is greatly appreciated.)

"You keep hesitating when you run up to receive a pass. But all you need to do is run forward with your hands up and ready to receive. That way, you'll either get the ball or distract the opposing team if we pass to someone else. Just commit and move forward."

Commit and move forward.

It doesn't matter if it's painting, writing, or rugby —hesitation has been one of my greatest enemies.
 

Instead of being decisive, I've always waited for permission to take the next step. I avoid responsibility by simply not choosing. It feels safer to just stand still.

Perfectionism and fear of failure used to make my decisions for me. But now, I'm learning this one thing that is changing the way I do everything:

As long as you're moving forward, it's okay to fail along the way.

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I started an Etsy shop once.

And then I closed it down shortly after that. I couldn't sell a thing, and I was humiliated.

It was my husband's idea for me to focus on my art instead of looking for a job when we moved to a new city for him to pursue his master's degree. He saw the way my receptionist job drained me emotionally, and he saw deep worth in my art (he still does.)

And so I painted things I thought people might like. And I did all the things the books told me to do. And I told people for weeks and weeks that I was an artist.

And then I stared at a laptop screen that told me I had no sales. None.

And in my perfectionist mind, those zeros told me that I had no worth. So within a couple months, I shut it all down for good.

And so there I was, a 20-year-old girl in a new city. No community. No job. I couldn't even use the label "student" when people asked "What do you do?" because I decided not to go back that semester.

I felt so small. And, somehow, relieved when I finally gave it all up.

The very next day after closing it all down, I walked to a local coffee shop. I was fasting that day (except coffee, naturally) because I needed clarity. I needed space to talk with Jesus.

I sat in that unfamiliar cafe in that unfamiliar town feeling rather unfamiliar myself. I journaled at that coffee bar, telling Jesus that I had no idea who I was. I told Him that I had spent my life trying to be "somebody" only to realize that I am really nothing special. I told Him about how I tried to accomplish things and say, "This is all for the glory of God!" when in reality, I just wanted to sell something and call myself an artist. I wanted the glory. But I wasn't even capable of that.

So God, I journaled that day. You know me best. You must know what I am good for, because I obviously have no idea myself. 

So tell me: what it is that you want from this one life I have to live?

And over the next few weeks, Jesus answered me in the form of rest.

And over the next 3 years, I learned how to let God heal and restore things through resting and waiting in Him.
 

(Maybe I could've come to Him a different way, laying down my identity, idolatry, and security at His feet out of obedience. Instead, I did it because I was brought to to low point of my life, and I desperately needed the love of God to direct me.

And what a wonderful thing it is that our Heavenly Father will take a "yes" and pour out His life-changing love no matter how we come to Him.)

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So I'm writing all of this because the strangest thing has happened:

I'm selling my art again.
 

Not because I want to own my own business. Or because I need the money or the affirmation or anything.

I simply started painting things that I really love. And just to challenge myself and add some accountability, I decided to post it all on my instagram page.

And friends and strangers alike wanted to buy what I created just for fun. And one day, I realized that I should put this art online so people can easily buy the ones they want. Like an Etsy shop.

And then it hit me.

I hadn't thought about my old Etsy shop in years. Every once in while it'd come to mind and I would think, "What was even the point of that whole experience?". I'd been so ashamed that I have told almost NO ONE about it, and hoped that everyone else had just forgotten.

But here I am. A 24-year-old woman who God had to break down and grow back into a whole person before she could confidently share her art again. 

...

These days, I've found myself in that tension of being in a position to move forward while also being terrified to make the wrong choice.

But that day playing rugby, I felt the Lord tell me this:

"Don't be afraid to move forward. In rugby, the person with the ball is not waiting for you to make the right move —they are ready to pass where ever you decide to go. In the same way, I am letting you choose. There is no right way to move forward as long as you are simply being obedient to Me instead of hesitating in fear. And life isn't about getting the ball; it's about moving the Kingdom forward for others as well as yourself. Just have your hands up and ready, and expect me to be with you along the way. "

I don't know if I could've done something differently when I first tried to sell my art. In a lot of ways, I still feel uncertain about how to put my art on display again. But no matter what happens, I am free to fail and to have fun along the way.

Because we don't need perfectionism's permission to do whatever it is our heart calls us to. All we need are hands that are up and ready for whatever God sends our way as we move forward in love.


And in case you were wondering what a flower-painting rugby player looks like, here you go.

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Thank you for reading! I wrote these words for you, and I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below. 
P.S. —you can subscribe to The Slow Artisan here.

The Cure for Vanity and Insecurity

When I first began playing rugby last fall, I could feel a part of my heart awakening for the first time in years.

Being an athlete was a part of my identity for most of my life, and there was something sweet about reigniting my love for the game.

The funny thing is, it also reignited another flame that I've tried to let die: my vanity.
 

And as a 23-year-old woman, this is one of the biggest struggles of my life.

...

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I remember growing up as a greasy-haired ugly duckling and not giving a second thought to how I looked.
 

I remember having strangers shamelessly comment on my appearance and guess my ethnicity (that still happens.)

I remember hitting puberty and men thinking I was much older and being shocked when they found out I was only 13. 

I remember the hand of my father grabbing my arm to pull me aside to remind me that I should NOT be wearing that outfit in public because I was embarrassing him and shaming myself.

I remember the high school locker room where girls commented on my abs and legs because all those years of sports added up and I had more muscle than fat on my body.

I remember all the contradicting praise and shame and having no idea how to sort it in my own heart.

...

I remember becoming a women and buying larger pants.

The muscle sinking away and replacing itself with soft curves and cellulite.

That was right around the time Pinterest exploded and "Secrets of How to get Perfect Abs" and "20 Minute Workout for a Toned Butt" was being pinned by everyone.

I remember bikini pictures and post-workout selfies flooding my social media.

And I remember thinking, "I used to have a perfect body:  abs like those pictures and the legs of a runner. But now, I have the body of a receptionist who used to workout."

Fast-forward 5ish years, and here's current me who finally learned how to eat healthy portions and discipline myself enough to at least jog every once in a while. My body and the way I view myself has had its ups and downs as I learn to love my own frame. 

And coincidently, right as rugby season officially began, an acquaintance of mine challenged me to do the Whole30 with her. So, my first 30 days of an intense sport was paired with the healthiest food I've eaten.

And all of a sudden, I looked in the mirror and saw my high school body again.

It made me feel Pinterest worthy. Something inside me felt as if this was my chance to show the world that I'm not a blob. 

But then I remember when I didn't look this way.

I remember how I gain a little weight every winter.
I remember that one day I will look older and my youth won't be able to fuel my self-esteem.
I remember that this same body whose muscles have torn to get toned will tear one day to bring a baby from womb to arms.
But will I call my body beautiful then?

And I try to remember what God has told me about how He sees me.

"Yet LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay,
and You are our potter; we all are the work of Your hands. "
Isaiah 64:8
 

And as I prayed into this verse one day, the Holy Spirit brought this image to mind: loving hands were working on a piece of clay, spinning it on a wheel. It was shaped like a round vase. And then God spoke into my heart, "I have loved your every curve because they are the work of My hands."

 

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For the past few months, every once in a while, different people will come up to me and say, "You are so beautiful."

And I have desperately wanted to say, "Please, please, PLEASE do not tell me that." I'm on a constant teeter totter of vanity and insecurity, and someone complimenting my appearance doesn't seem to help anything. I've spent too many years feeding off of what others think of me.

But a couple weeks ago, someone came up to me and said it a little differently:

"I felt like God wanted me to tell you two things: He's planted hope in your heart, and He is the One who calls you beautiful."

And for some reason, I couldn't stop crying.

Later that morning, I took some time to listen and write out what I felt God tell me:

"Jeana, one day, you will be old. 
And I will gaze at the lines etched on your face, 
the breasts that have nourished your beloved children, 
and the calloused feet that have walked many miles into My Kingdom.
I will look at you like I do now, and I will say,
'She is beautiful. She is mine. I love her.'
It's important for you to know how I see you.
Viewing yourself from My perspective is the cure for both vanity and insecurity. 
I say that you are beautiful
—and it is true because I see you for who you really are."

...

Measuring my worth in my appearance and encouraging others to see me as beautiful has left me both hungry for affirmation and terrified to look at my own reflection. 

But our bodies go through different seasons and shapes, and I’m learning the importance of loving it through all its changes.

I'm learning that life-changing, nourishing beauty is not going to be found in an Instagram-worthy body or chasing an appearance that this world labels "beautiful".
 

Real beauty will come from the reflection we see when we look into the eyes of our Creator who says that He loves our every curve because we are the work of His hands.

Abs, rolls, wrinkles, stretch marks, thick and thin and all.


After all, your Heavenly Father is the one who calls you beautiful —
—and it is true because He sees you for who you really are.


Thank you for reading! I wrote these words for you, and I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
P.S. —you can subscribe to The Slow Artisan here.

Embracing Seasons of Waiting

I talk about waiting a lot. Mostly because that's been the theme of the past couple of years of my life. 
 

But also because it's been the thing that God has used to turn my heart and identity upside down (or right side up, depending your perspective.)

Two years ago, I stopped painting.
I stopped writing.
I stopped all intensive exercising.
I stopped looking for opportunities to move forward because I just felt that it was time to be still.

And, most significantly, God told me to just wait. 

"You've forgotten who you are," He said. "I'm going to help you remember."

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....

Almost exactly a year ago, I took a very long walk to get away from my home for the evening. Nothing was wrong in particular, except that we got the news that family wanted to come visit soon. I remember feeling the anxiety rise up inside me as I imagined how I could explain my season of waiting to them. I didn't want to be misunderstood. I didn't want to be judged. And there were so many things I didn't understand myself about why the heck I needed to do nothing —or even how long this season would last.

So I walked. And I found a bench right as the sun began to set, and there I sat and waited for my Father to speak to me.

I'm not leaving until you give me an answer. Tears rolled down my face. Or I'm pretty sure they did, because they are as I remember this moment. I will wait here all night until you give me some kind of clarity.

I remember watching the clouds dance across the sky as they turned from white to gold and red. And what felt like hours later, though I'm sure it was only mere minutes,  a still small voice filled my space on the park bench.

"You forget who you really are. That's the source of all this hurt you carry. It makes you feel unsteady, like you're trying to cross rushing waters on a makeshift raft.You believe the lie that you will never be enough. Not for Me, or your loved ones, or even yourself."

But what's the answer? Who am I then? Will you help me remember? What's the truth? I'll wait here all night for you to speak.

And I waited a long time watching that sunset. At one point I wondered if time had frozen because there was this moment where the colors were so vivid it was unreal. And it lasted far longer than a sunset normally does (in my opinion). Or perhaps it was just because I was sitting still enough that I finally took it all in —the time it takes to paint the sky.

And what He told me next might sound odd to you. It certainly sounded odd to me, even though I know it's true.

"My sweet girl, if you want a new heart to pump life inside of you, 
then what is dead needs to be cut off.
Feeding off of the approval of others has left you a shell of your true self."

 

...

When I finally walked home that night, my husband asked me why I took so long to get home. I told him about my anxiety about having to explain to family why I was waiting. I didn't want them to think that I was lazy or stupid and taking advantage of my husband's student salary.

"That's why you need to keep waiting."

"What?"

"You need to realize that what you are doing is of value, Jeana," he said. "When people ask me about you, I tell them the truth: that you are an artist. That you paint sometimes and you write sometimes, and you bake a lot these days. I tell them about how I admire your creativity. That right now, you make our home into a lovely place to be, and I would be miserable without you —the real you. I could come home to a wife that is burnt out and stressed as I try to get my PhD. But instead I come home to someone who loves me dearly and makes wonderful art and food in our own home. And until you realize that that is priceless —that you are priceless—  you need to keep waiting."

And then I cried. I really do forget who I really am.

But thankfully, I have a husband and Heavenly Father who remember for me.

 

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The past couple years have been the undoing of me.
 

I've been turned upside down and tipped over until all the things I thought I could build my life upon were laid upon the ground. 

Wife.
Friend.
Sister.
Worker.
Artist.
Daughter.

These aren't bad things —it's a gift to live life in any of those roles. But when they become things to place on the value scales of our self worth, they become idols that never grow us or shape us into who we are meant to be. Instead, we worship people and titles and job descriptions as if they can set the earth upon its axis and keep the sun rising and setting everyday.

And we are left running in circles, wondering why we're so tired and unsure about who we really are.

So, friend, if you are wondering why there's this pain you can't shake, why you can't quite catch your breath, why it's hard to feel rested, then let me tell you this: It's time to stop.

I don't know what you're holding onto that needs to be put down for a little while. But if you catch a moment to listen, I'm sure He'll show you. During the weeks that passed after I went on that walk, God began to speak into my heart about who I really am:

"I want you to listen to who I SAY YOU ARE:
When you know that YOU ARE MINE and that THAT IS ENOUGH,
then you don't have to live a life buried in the ground of your fears.
I'm bringing you back from the dead, and you're going to grow up in my love for you
—into your identity as my beloved daughter."

We have only this one sweet and wonderful life to live. Let us not waste it because because we forget who we are. Instead, let's try to remember who God is and what that says about us.

And when He calls you or me to be still for a while, let us be unafraid to wait for Him —to watch Him paint the sky.

...

( I wrote this piece as a guest post for Annie Eskridge's blog Making Room for Peace )

 



I so appreciate you being here! I wrote these words for you, and I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below. 
P.S. —you can subscribe to The Slow Artisan here.

Why You Don't Need to Wait for Confidence Anymore

All my life, I've carried a particular fear within me. I joke about being introverted and socially awkward, but here's the truth about it:

I fear being unwanted and un-welcomed. 
 

I'm twenty-three-years-old. I'm still figuring out this adult thing, especially the complicated identity stuff that's thrown in with financial worries and having babies. 

It's easy to blame my response to fear on a personality flaw. But lately, I can feel the Holy Spirit asking me to take a deeper look, beyond my excuses, to unwrap all the lies I've believed about who God says I am.

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An old memory came to surface of my thoughts recently.

It was back during middle school, and I was backstage in the auditorium working on props during my art class. Twice a year since the time I was 7, I would perform in dance recitals on this very stage. I remember the feeling of the lights turning on, the music playing, the smell of hairspray, the itchy, frilly costumes, and glitter flying everywhere as we tapped and twirled upon these old wooden floors. It was exhausting but fun. 

I finished my painting assignment early, so I started to wander around the stage to pass the time. The large red curtains were closed, hiding the hundreds of seats that I faced when I danced. 

When I peeked my head in from behind the heavy curtain, what I saw shouldn't have surprised me —but it did. I'd never before seen this auditorium so dark and empty. And as I stepped out onto the main stage, I let the curtain fall behind me, shutting out every last bit of light. I stood upon a dark stage with only the faint outline of chairs to behold me.

No music. No frills. No eyes to see me perform.
 

It maybe should have felt eery. But oddly, I felt so safe.

Because for the first time, I felt alone. Truly alone. I could take a breath. No one could watch me perform. I was free to just be myself.

And as I pondered that memory, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper in my heart:

"Jeana, you believe the lie that if you hide yourself from judgement, you'll be safe."
 

Of course I believe that. I'm safer if I never show anyone my art, or grow deeper in relationships, or speak out boldly. After all, am I not safer when I shut the world out behind me?

No. Of course not.

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...

I could blame my tendency to hide on my upbringing.

Or on my personality. Or I could tell myself that I have nothing important to say or give, and I might as well hide within the boundaries I call "safe." 

Because "safe" to me always meant "not messing up." 

or "not falling."
"not gaining negative attention."
"not saying the wrong things."
"not hurting anyone's feelings."
"not disappointing anyone, especially those I love."

But here's the thing —I love to dance. I make art, I write, and I love making new friends. And fear often tempts us away from the things we love to create because it feels risky to pour your heart out in front of other people.

But that's what community is —the beauty of vulnerability. And God's Kingdom should be filled with people who are free to be themselves in the presence of Jesus and others, without fear of judgement or the drive of competition. 


And don't I want to live a life like that?

Yes. Of course I do.

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"Children who know they are loved are free to fall, to make mistakes —thus free to try, free to adventure, to have fun. Life is a game, however serious, and joy undergirds it all. But the uptight, who fear they will be lost if they fail to perform rightly, will never discover the twinkle of the Father's eye. That is, until God's love breaks the shackles of performance. His laughter bubbles behind the melodramas of human life, and His chuckle is suppressed by His hand, even as our parents put hand to mouth so as not to embarrass us."

- John Sanford // The Elijah Task


I always thought that confidence would come when I was sure I could do everything right.

And I thought I was supposed to hide until that happened.

But I'm learning these days that confidence is not having the world love and appreciate the things you do —it's being who you are and doing what God made you to do despite what you fear the world may think.

Confidence is acknowledging outcomes and possible mistakes —but moving forward anyway. 
Confidence is listening to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit that says,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. So move forward, don’t be afraid to fail, and expect My joy to follow you along the way.” 

..

Here's the thing: you don’t have to wait for confidence —you’re always allowed to go forward into the places God is calling you to be. 

Onto the old wooden stage.
Into motherhood.
Into new community.
Out of hiding, and into a new perspective on who you are in Christ.

Because you have the freedom to fail and fall into the love & laughter of God —over and over, again and again. 

And you and I can expect joy along the way, because we are always wanted and welcomed into the presence of God.

 


I so appreciate you being here! I wrote these words for you, and I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below. 
P.S. —you can subscribe to The Slow Artisan here.

Finding Hope in Laughter and Lamentation Alike

"Lamentation is a part of worship. It is that part of us that cries out over the sorrow of the suffering, pain, and relational brokenness by which we have all been hurt.

...if the Lord walks there with me, what possible advantage could there be in conjuring another way?"

-Russ Ramsey,  One Christian’s Reflections on Encountering Death

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...

I read an article about a man's lamentations and suffering with Christ. And interestingly, it brought me relief.
 

It doesn't really make sense considering the circumstances: Within the past few months, my husband and I took a 3 week trip in Europe that we didn't have to pay for. We just bought a house with a down payment that was given to us free of charge. After closing on the home, Nooch and I ended up with double in our savings account despite the fact that I have not had a job for the past year.

One day on our trip oversees, I had overwhelming joy looking at these blessings. Praising Jesus. Amazed at his provision.

After all, doesn't all that sound like favor from God? Many would say so.

But deep down —even though I am genuinely grateful for these circumstances —something didn't sit well inside of me. 

Because it's easy to praise God when I get the things I want.

And while these things are all blessings, it's easy to forget that they are not the point.

That God is not a genie that grants me my desires.
That my perspective of my Good Father is not dependent upon my circumstances, whether lovely or painful.
That the hard times remind me that even sunny days come and go, allowing me to appreciate them while they are here, and letting them go when the time comes.

I think I felt uneasy because I know deep down that the Kingdom of God is not grown according to the state of my well-being.

God's favor is not reflective of me getting what I think is best for my life. But when I forget that truth, a fear of losing the blessings grows within me. And I remember the harder times and the insecurity that comes with it.
And I begin to fear what life is like when things don't go my way.

So, I read about a man's encounter with Jesus in the midst of death and sorrow, and it filled me with hope.
 

"The Lord does not owe me a pain-free life.
But he does promise to be with me in it."


I remember I was sitting in the backseat of a car as we drove along the French countryside while I read those words by Russ Ramsey.

It reminded me that my hope is not dependent on the wonderful things that have happened these past couple of months. They won't last forever, and that's okay. 

It reminded me of the way I wrestled in frustration with God last summer, when I felt called to quit my job. It made this year's provision all the sweeter.

It reminded me of the closeness of Jesus at the news of my father's cancer diagnosis last fall. During my grief, my heart was comforted like never before.

It reminded me that scripture calls Jesus a man of sorrows. That despite that natural desire to avoid pain at all costs, He embraced it. 

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A year ago, I would have been afraid to talk about suffering.

Today, it gives me hope to accept this beautiful reality.
 

I've tasted the hard times, the breaking of my heart. I've been a weary traveller on my life's journey, and I'm sure I'll be one again and again.

I've tasted the times of rest and growth and dreams that came alive. And I don't fear losing these good times, because my soul is satisfied in my Good Father —the One who waits embraces me in laughter and lamentation alike.

Permission to Simplify (& why I've stopped painting)

Back in my small hometown, I was known as that artist girl.
 

In high school, I'd been in the local newspaper a few times for awards I'd received for my paintings, and I had some pieces displayed in local galleries as well.

On my visit home this past summer, even though it had been 4 years since I've moved away, someone on the street recognized me.

"You're that artist girl right? I remember you!"

It was a sweet gesture, and I smiled and nodded.

But I didn't tell her that it's been almost 2 years since I've painted a portrait.
 

I didn't tell her about how painting became less of a creative outlet and more of a challenge I wanted to win. How each painting was supposed to be better than the last, on a larger canvas, with more complicated mediums and compositions because I wanted the recognition for my hard work. 

And in the end, it exhausted me.
 

But I guess I haven't been totally honest —I did paint once since my last art show. Around this time last year, I found out that my dad had cancer, and I didn't have words to describe how I felt.

So I painted watercolor flowers.
Three poinsettias, on a white piece of paper.
Just for me.

For whatever reason, I needed the simple strokes of a brush and color to give my heart the space to speak. That's probably the point of art; I just didn't realize it until now.

  A watercolor portrait of my younger sister. 

A watercolor portrait of my younger sister. 

 

I have a tendency to run from simplicity.

Maybe it's because I secretly believe that the end product is worth more if the process is complicated or difficult.

Simplicity seems too easy. Like it doesn't produce anything special.
It doesn't produce enough.

But that's not true at all.

The thing is, there's something healing about simplicity.


When something hurts, we must simplify. If it's the body, we have to simplify our movements. The stomach, we simplify food. The mind, we simply lessen the input to give our heads a break.

I don't know about you, but living in a world that is constantly wanting more and better and bigger has left me hurt and exhausted. 

And there's something inside me that is longing to simplify.


To be okay with less. To rest more. To let things heal and be reset as they should be.

To look at my life and the things I create and see that it is all enough as it is, even in it's simplest form.

  Her name is  Curls.  She's one of my favorite paintings.

Her name is Curls. She's one of my favorite paintings.

 

While walking around town with some friends last fall, one of them, an artist, stopped to look inside the window of a gallery.

"Jeana, your work is better than this," he said, almost with exasperation. "You need to be putting yourself out there!"

Again, I smiled and nodded. I could tell that it seemed wasteful to him for me not to paint.

But a year later, I'm realizing that I've needed to just let this love for art have the time to grow into something new. I needed a break in order to fall in love with my art again. And hopefully when I start painting again, it can be from a place of creativity and expression, instead of output and expectation.

Because in the end, I think that we all need simplicity to function well. It's what allows us to produce the better things, in simpler, organic ways.

Just as artisan foods tend to have less ingredients, created in a process that requires longer and more thoughtful work, maybe our lives could use a little simplicity in order to be made whole and well.

Like a simple, slow, artisan life. 

The Power of Slow and Small Moments

"...Once you've pursued Him through throngs of people to grab hold of the hem of his cloak and He has turned to face you and acknowledged your faith by performing great miracles in your life, the idea of fading back into the crowd and going back to business as usual just no longer appeals."

I'm not one of those people that has undergone a miraculous physical healing.
 

That's just not my story. But I have had moments of making my way to the Savior, seeking His healing touch.

And I have had one particular moment where He seemed to push through my crowded life to make His way to me. And I haven't been the same since.

...

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When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that I was 10 minutes early for work. Which was odd because I was normally 5 minutes late for work everyday. But I digress. 

This was about 3 years ago or so. Life was busy —I was a newlywed in a new city working and going to college. But all of a sudden, I had 10 minutes to spare. (And I didn't want to use that time to be early for work —spare time was a precious commodity.)

There was an old CD in the car somewhere with one of my favorite songs, "How He Loves." So I thought, why not have some Jesus time before work? I love Him, we hadn't spent much time together the past several months, so maybe we could catch up for a few minutes.

The C note rang from my speakers as the song began. I closed my eyes. 

“Jesus, I’m sorry it’s been so long…” But then my thoughts were interrupted.

“Stop. It’s okay.”

“Really, I…”

“Stop. I love you, and I’ve missed you. You don’t need to say anything. Let me speak.”

And so I did.

And He spoke to my heart, as present as if He was there sitting in my passenger seat.
 

And I could try to explain how Jesus spoke. How His love overwhelmed me and filled the entire space. How the tears began to flow immediately. But all I know is that Jesus was there, closer than my very breath, speaking loving kindness into my soul.

First, He filled me with all the joy I'd experienced in my marriage and reminded me that it was a gift from him. I was so overwhelmed with His love, I could practically feel him saying "Jeana, I love you so much! This is a blessing from me.” His love was like a hurricane, as the song says. I was bent beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

Then He showed me my hurt from the past and present. My anxieties that have left me cynical and paralyzed with fear. Exposing lies I've believed about myself. My tears of joy turned into tears of hurt, like Jesus was lifting up a bandage on a wound I've tried to hide.

"You've been living with a thorn in your side, and it has kept you from truly living. I'm going to remove this, and it will set you free to live a life of joy."

And I wept right there in the parking lot of the shopping center.

All I offered Jesus was 10 minutes. In return, He spoke healing into my heart that has forever changed me.

Sometimes I can't help but think that He was sitting in the passenger seat everyday as I drove to work, waiting patiently for me to just turn my face to Him.

...

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That day turned out to be the beginning.
 

The beginning of a new way of listening to Jesus and making space for Him to speak. 
Of acknowledging hurt that I had buried deep in my heart.
Of trusting and believing that when I reached out my hand to touch the Living God, He would turn my way and heal me. And not only heal, but cry with me through the hurt and everything in between.

It's what led me to take a year of rest —and ultimately to write on this blog.

That day taught me the power of slow and small moments and how God is always waiting to meet us where we are.

It doesn't matter if we're in church, washing dishes in the kitchen, or commuting to work —He is actually, seriously, and legitimately always with us.


And He is longing to speak love over you. Because He sees you and knows you and doesn't want you limping around with this thorn in your side, either.

And really, this walk with Jesus has been like any other friendship. The more time I’ve spent with Him, the more I’ve enjoyed His company. As I’ve learned to sit in His presence, He’s walked me through tears of joy and pain and healing. I’ve learned to discern the sound of His voice, and now I recognize it throughout my days, guiding me. It’s the voice that comforts me as if a hand is intertwined in mine.

I know that sitting and waiting is not comfortable. And I understand the busyness of life, and the mundane moments that feel anything but sacred.

But if you feel that dull ache in your heart, if you need to catch your breath, if you want to be reminded of who you really are, maybe you could try taking a moment to listen.

Mine happened on accident. Yours doesn't have to.

Our time is precious, which is what makes it a precious offering when we lay it at the feet of Jesus.
When we take that time to listen, we allow Him to keep His promises to us, like the ones found in Psalm 23:2-3:

[The Shepherd] makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.

(And if finding a moment to rest of cultivating a slower pace is difficult for you, I've written about some ways that have helped me keep my soul nourished in this hurried world here.)

And I get the feeling that He's waiting to speak loving kindness over you each day. From the seat of your car. From the hem of His robe. From His heart to yours.

...

 Just then, a woman who had suffered from bleeding for 12 years approached from behind and touched the tassel on His robe,  for she said to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I’ll be made well!”
But Jesus turned and saw her. “Have courage, daughter,” He said. “Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that moment.
Matthew 9:20-22


I so appreciate you being here! I wrote these words for you, and I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
P.S. —you can subscribe to The Slow Artisan here.

Let Your Heart Grieve the Good Stuff

Growing up is hard.

And as a twenty-three-year-old woman, I've come to realize that it's not difficult because of all the adulting. (Paying a mortgage and doing taxes isn't fun, but it's doable.)

Really, it's the identity stuff that gets me.

Four years ago, I got married, moved out of my childhood home, and started college all within the same summer. Practically overnight, I found myself with a new identity.

A new last name, a new city, and an overwhelming sense of being totally lost in the world.

Sometimes change, even when you can see it coming, can still hit hard and knock you off your feet a little bit.

It's as if all of a sudden, you are no longer who you once were.
Or at least, that's how I felt.

...

Up until that point, my first year of marriage was the best and loneliest year of my life.

The best because I married the most wonderful and caring man. My best friend.
The loneliest because I was a married 19-year-old with friends living far away and new faces who could never know the old me.

And I was still getting to know the new me.
 

I loved being married. Still do. However, I didn't really consider how leaving home and sharing my life with my husband meant the loss of the old ways. "Loss" might seem like a strong word. But for the first time in my life, I realized that things would actually never be the same. And while it wasn't a bad thing necessarily, it was something that I needed the time and space to process.

In fact, I've realized that change —even the good kind— can require a time of grieving.

It might seem over dramatic to grieve about the loss of that circle of friends who lived just down the street.
Or not seeing my siblings who lived just down the hall.
Or being a small town artist in a new city, too shy to convince anyone that I am more than my job as a receptionist.

But those were things that my heart needed to grieve. 

And if I don't take the time to hold that old identity in my hands and choose to let it go, I'll find myself stuck somewhere between the old and new ways.

I can't be both the middle child of seven, and also a wife to my husband equally.
I can't prioritize being a daughter over running my own household.
I can't build upon an old identity that was never meant to last anyway.

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...

Transition has gotten a little easier over the years.

And it's definitely changed my perspective on how to deal with this particular grief.

I saw my husband grieve when we moved from Colorado to Kentucky to earn his master's degree; he had to to leave behind his best friends.
I see my friends move to different cities, and I listen to their struggles as they deal with their evolving friendships.
I feel the pressure to be a peacemaker for my old home, but then I am painfully reminded that I have my own family to care for first and foremost.

It's teaching me the importance of holding things loosely, letting the old and new ways flow freely into my hands as they come and go.

Maybe you can relate to these kinds of growing pains. If so, let me be the first to tell you that I totally feel you. It's okay to grieve the change. That might be exactly what your heart needs before you move forward.

I think it's just part of the process as we grow up and into a new identity —the one God intended all along.

And the process might look like a kind of mourning. Or maybe letting go. 
Or looking in the mirror and realizing that change and growth can lead to very beautiful things, even when being in the middle of it feels disappointing or just plain awkward.

So if you've found yourself in the fog between the old and new, be encouraged by this fact:

You are not alone, and you don't have to navigate the change on your own.

 

You will make known to me the paths of life;
in Your presence is the fullness of joy;
in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Psalm 16:11

No matter how old we get,
no matter how far across the state or country or world we move,
no matter who we marry or what career we choose,

we always have a Heavenly Father who knows us better than we know ourselves. He gets the big picture, and loves us through the grief and awkward moments of any and every identity crisis we encounter.

And all we have to do is ask Him to guide.
And listen for the next small step.

Over these few years of big changes and moving to new places, I've found that this sweet love of God is the one single constant I've had. With His right hand in mine, I'm reminded of who I really am. I've learned to embrace to goodness that comes with His presence during the changing times.

Found in my new family and role in marriage.
In the new cities and new friends I've come to love. 
Growing up into the one identity that will never change: my place as a daughter and friend of Jesus.

And in His hand, we are invited to find pleasures ever more, through all the fog, grief, and awkward places in between.