Saturday, September 29, 2012

Breakfast at Tiffany's

So I don't normally use movie titles as blog titles, I promise. But this is a special occasion. The 25th birthday of my best friend, Sarah, in fact! Yes, our names are both Sarah. Yes, it does confuse people when we talk sometimes. How we differentiate ourselves? Well, #1 and #2, of course, and she is Tall Sarah, and I'm Shorty, since I'm the shorter of the two of us.

I digress.

Today we had an Audrey Hepburn/Breakfast at Tiffany's themed birthday party to celebrate! We worked all night and morning putting up decorations, cooking food and preparing for the big day. It really felt like someone was getting married was so much fun, though!

Sparkling strings of beads and jewels adorned crisp white table clothes, with blue glass beads giving it that Tiffany's pop of color. An Eiffel Tower stood on the table, diamond candles, pearls and bling galore were scattered throughout the room. It was an event that was sure to make Audrey proud as Sarah and I mashed our creative minds together.

And of course, the party was a hit.

We had brunch, coffee and tea, orange juice, everyone dressed up in true Audrey style, we watched Breakfast at Tiffany's, and played a few fun games. It was a great way to celebrate Sarah's 25th birthday, and a whole lot of fun to put together! Here's a peak at our fabulous time today...

A welcome sign that I did for the party!

Getting set up last night...

Sarah dressed up and took pictures to match pictures of Audrey Hepburn! She looks SO much like her!

Spreading the bling around...

Getting fancy! The refreshing beverage table.

The food table! 

What's an Audrey Hepburn party without Paris??

All of the yummy food for our brunch!

Lots of bling!

Chit chatting at the party!

All of the Sarah's!

Breakfast at Tiffany' the portrait I did for her birthday on the wall!

Now for the project that I was working on this week! It was a portrait of Audrey Hepburn for Sarah's birthday present. Check out the progress and the final piece!

Final framed piece!

Well, that was just a peak into the fabulous time we had celebrating Sarah's 25th birthday...Audrey Hepburn style! Happy Birthday, Sarah! You are a blessing in my life, and I am so blessed to have you as my best friend. Love you lots, sister!

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Good morning, Gill!"

"I said, good morning, Gill!" 10 extra cool points to the person that can name that Bill Murray movie! I didn't watch that particular one today (though it is spectacularly hilarious), but I did watch Groundhog Day today for the first time. Pretty good, too! And it makes you think about what you would do if you only had one day to live. Or if you lived the same day over and over again. Food for thought!

And speaking of food, is there any smell better and more delicious than crisp onions and fresh garlic sauteing in a hot frying pan on the stove? I say nay. But, I may be a bit partial. It's safe to say that if I am cooking, there is always garlic and onions involved. If I'm cooking just for myself, probably a lot of garlic. And a lot of hot sauce. I just love the stuff!

Today I had the day off, which was nice. It was nice to slow down, cook up some good breakfast, draw, go for a walk, and get things done. Like yesterday, it's the little things. 

Let me pause and tell you about my walk for a second, though. Since being back from the race, I'm in a new house in a completely new side of town. After being on the race, a neighborhood that some may call "sketchy," looks completely normal to me. I actually love it. I love being close to things, people, places. But I know that there is darkness here (there is everywhere). At night I pick up on it more. Several times in the past few weeks I've woken up, finding myself praying, speaking against fear and the darkness of night.

Speaking out against more than just the physical darkness, but the spiritual darkness. I know there is more going on. Last night before bed, I started praying for the house, and the neighborhood. There's a liquor store down the street on the corner. I prayed about that. I didn't wake up at all last night.

This morning I took a stroll around the block, and about half way through, I thought, wait, why am I not praying while I'm doing this? I am a light, and I'm going to bring the light to these streets. I began covering the place with prayers. People walking, people driving, the people working, an apartment complex, the neighborhood in general. Even the liquor store. That God would move in a mighty, mighty way, and His glory would shine like the sun in this neighborhood, and in Tucson.

Let me tell you, prayers are effective. HIGHLY effective. I saw that first hand around the world, and my life is full of testimony to that fact. So I'm going to keep walking, and keep praying. Our prayers shift things in the spiritual realm, and they draw us into our Daddy's heart.

So next time you're out for a walk or a drive, I challenge you to say a prayer for your community...and keep praying. Watch how God moves!

End note about my walk turned prayer walk.

Today I also was able to work on a new project, which was re-creating the hand lettering that I did of Matthew 10:31 from a 4'' x 6'' form to a 16'' x 20'' form. It took me about five hours, but here's the process and the finished piece!

Did you know that YOU are worth more than many sparrows? You are. Yes, YOU. 

You are worthy.

You are worth it all to HIM. Let that sink in to your heart today.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bacon, Books, and Buffalo

In case you were wondering, all three of these things made their way into my day today.

A delicious bacon me, it was good. Because bacon is chocolate, plus caramel...and of course ice cream. You dip your french fry in a frosty...technically a chocolate dipped potato. Bacon in ice cream is not that different...really. Don't knock it til you try's a tasty treat!


Sketchbooks! Here's a peak at a page in my sketchbook right now (because I'm working on a super secret project right now that I can't show you pictures of...yet. But you will soon!). This is a hand lettering that I am doing, but it's not quite finished yet. 

Chosen was a theme that God put on my heart a year ago in Uganda. Speaking of Uganda...a year ago I was adorned with these lovely black eyes from the Nile River...thanks again, Nile! 

Anyway, chosen. God woke me up early one morning, and revealed the lie that I had been believing and living practically all my life. I believed that I was the girl who was passed over. But He said no. You are CHOSEN. He continues to speak it over me, and it is a word that now holds such a deep and precious meaning to my heart.

Another book to this subject.
I have recently started reading "Not a Fan" by Kyle Idleman. A GREAT read. I hadn't heard of it before, but a friend from church gave it to me. Addresses a key issue that I see among Christians, and asks the question, "are you a fan, or a follower." Really good food for thought. If you get a chance, pick it up!


I was introduced to this hilarious video by a friend today, and it made me you should just watch it.

The simple things that make me smile and cheer me up on what could be a gloomy day (one of our family dogs passed away last night...RIP Little Bear). 

This is a less serious post, but just thought it was a day full of little blessings and I wanted to share them with you. More to come this week, plus at the end of the week I get to unveil the secret project I have been working on!

Here's to the start of a great week, being thankful for the little things every day, and hearing God whisper His love in every circumstance...because He is GOOD!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pencil Pusher

 While most view the words "pencil pusher" in a negative light, I want to bring a new meaning to the table. I am a pencil pusher, in the most technical form of the phrase. I absolutely love to draw and push a pencil around a paper. I always have, and always will.

Art is a passion that God has sealed upon my soul for life.

While many things bring me a lot of joy in life, like working with kids, cooking, writing, serving others, etc, there is nothing that sets my heart on fire quite like art. Painting, drawing with pencils, charcoal, pastels, colored pencils, you name it. If I get to be creative, I'm all about it.

I've always loved to draw...I really should show pictures of drawings from middle school and high school. Some are hilarious. But, it's been a theme and current in my life. And while I was on the World Race, God exploded that even more.

Art has always been something present in my life, but also something that gets put on the back burner a lot. Mostly because it's viewed as simply a hobby. It's not "practical." The words "starving artist" are always flashing through people's minds if someone labels themselves as an artist. It's a fine hobby to be sure, but don't go expecting to make a life out of art, most think.

I want to challenge that.

God has set a fire in my soul to use art and missions together.

The church and Christians have stood silent far too long in the art community. It's time to wake up. It's time to actually use the gifts and talents that God has given us for His kingdom.

I had the honor and privilege to use my gift around the globe this past year. I got to paint nine different murals in five different countries, and left pieces of art in other ones, as well. And I loved being able to share Christ's love through art. There aren't as many language barriers in art as there are with other ministries, and yet art isn't really seen as much of a tool. But oh, it is.

God set this passion and dream for art and missions on my heart many years ago, but like I said, it got put on the back burner. When you talk about fine arts and missions together, a lot of people just don't get it. Which, is understandable because of the lack of use of it in many ways. But.

There needs to be a change. Art is a very specific way to reach out to people with God's heart. To offer hope. To share His love. To share His word.

God has not abandoned the arts. They are not evil. They challenge us. They speak to the depths of our soul. At least to me, it does.

I really could go on and on about art and how God touches my heart over and over again through it, and how I want to share it with others.

This is my heart, this is my cry.

To join art and missions and share it across this country and across the world. To ignite others to use their gifts as well. I am going to use my gift for His glory. Not for mine, but completely and totally all for HIS glory. To share His love with others.

Every piece that I do is an extension of His heart in me. How He has gotten a hold of me. And I want to use that to be His hands and feet, to be a light to the world.

 Charcoal drawing of hands holding baby's feet....I did this piece for a friend for a rally in Tucson. 
A few different pieces, most all of these done in pastel colors. The top left and bottom middle pictures where done during worship times. 

These are "oldies" but goodies, just a few pieces that I did in pencil on the World Race. 
Some words that the Lord has spoken to me and given me images for, so I put them down on paper. The bottom three were done in pastels, the top in pencil. 
Lastly...a final note, I finally got my thank you notes out for the World Race! 55 envelopes later, and many pictures from around the world, they are sent off. I loved seeing the pictures of my months around the world on those cards. I love getting to share those moments!

"But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
-Ephesians 5:13-14

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Captured Frames: Moldova

Well, here we are, you're at the end of my eleven month journey around the world.

Our final month in Moldova. Which, I was actually in a different "country" called Transnistria. It is a political breakaway of Moldova, has it's own border (but no US embassy), military, police, etc. It is only recognized by Russia and North Korea, and we called it home for the last month of the World Race.

And it was one of my favorite months on the World Race. The culture was similar to what we found in eastern Ukraine...a sort of Russian culture outside of Russia. It was a busy month, right from the beginning. But it was a blessing, and I absolutely loved getting to be a part of the church in Tiraspol and what they are doing in Transnistria. God is moving!

Memories of Transnistria...

Cherries everywhere!
Long walks to the bus stop and back to go into Tiraspol (but I love walking, so that was nice)
My 24th birthday, and getting to eat Mexican food!! So delicious.
Working in the "brick yard".
Being a part of the churches 17 year anniversary/birthday.
Singing along to "We Are Family" with a band that sang mainly in Russian, but sang that English song at the 17 year celebration!
Worship at the church in Tiraspol, complete with saxophone and accordion!
The open, loving hearts of the people that we got to know in Transnistria...they are such a light and joy!

Enjoy this look into our last month on the World Race!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Captured Frames: China

So this one is a little out of order, but here is my video from China!

We spent the month of March working with an amazing special needs orphanage. The kids there stole my heart, they were precious beyond words! I was also able to paint two murals for them, which was a blast.

Memories of China...

Our first cold month on the race, which meant wearing tons of layers, scarves, coats, and hats. Which was really very strange after sweating constantly for the seven months prior to that (more for me because I come from the hot hot state of Arizona).

Hot pot! A delicious soup establishment that is popular in China. You get a boiling pot of soup, and put in uncooked veggies, slices of meat, dumplings, etc to cook, then you eat it! Yum. Perfect for those cold days.

Birthday Cake oreos. The rest of the world knows how to do it right with amazing flavors of oreos. Although, there are some strange flavors too (green tea, mango, I think dragon fruit or lychee may have been part of a flavor too. I stayed away from those.)

Seeing the Great Wall of China!

Climbing countless stairs. Not just on the Great Wall, but everywhere else. There aren't many elevators in China, and there sure are a lot of floors on buildings.

Waiting in line from 1:40am to 4:40am for a taxi in Beijing in the freezing cold. That was a tough one.

Exploring Beijing!

China was an amazing place. Such ancient history, and it was so neat to explore that a little. And like I said, those kids captured my heart. Check out the video!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Captured Frames: Romania

Ah, Romania.

It was a month of refreshment at a camp on the top of a hill, overlooking a peaceful, quiet village. We could see sheep dotting the hills almost every day. Spring had sprung, and lush greenery surrounded us. Our team and two others worked to prepare this camp for the busy summer months to come for little ones that would hear about God and experience summer camp.

It was a sweet month of spending time with the Lord. Seeking His heart for the future. Worshiping. Pressing in.

God spoke to me a lot about fire that month, which came up in some very interesting ways. In dreams, through words, verses, and images. It was also a month that I got to dive more and more into my artwork, and really paint and work with the Lord in creating my pieces.

In all, it was a sweet time!

(Minus the time I fell down the spiral staircase and hit my head on the tiled steps. Ouch!)

Anyways, enjoy the video of our time in Romania!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Attention: we interrupt this normal broadcast segment for a startling update.

What is it? You may ask.

Well, truth be told, I'm asking myself the same thing.

It all started yesterday as I was driving home from work, like I always do. Driving down the same road, sitting at the same stop lights, listening to the same radio stations. Wow, this feels repetitive. But then suddenly, a wrench gets thrown forcefully into my routine.

I come to a halt at the stop light before the freeway. Standing in the median right next to me, is a man.

His eyes are shaded partially by his worn down baseball cap. He has on jeans and a loose shirt. Rolled up in his right pants pocket is a piece of cardboard jutting awkwardly out the top. His hair was greying, and course. His skin wrinkled from the sun and age.

I could not take my eyes off of him. Not because of anything that physically kept my eyes there. There was nothing startling about him, really. No sleeping bag or tent or crate on the ground behind him, no great big beard, nothing that would scream a stereotypical homeless man. He just looked like he had a rough day.

His eyes were what I could not look away from. He stared straight ahead. Not to the right, to the left, up or down. Straight ahead. He reached slowly into his pocket and unrolled the sign. Held it for a few minutes, and rolled it back up and put it in his pocket before the light even turned green.

My heart literally broke in that moment. God flooded my heart with HIS heart for the world. For this one man that stood on the side of the road. For the pain and rejection and Lord knows what else he faces standing on the road.

We sit in our cars, we do all we can to occupy ourselves and try to look the other way, try to pretend that men and women like him don't exist. We avoid the uncomfortability of it. At least I know I have at times. I was frozen in my seat as I sat at that light. As I saw a man, a man who society says has no worth.

But you know what?

He's someone's son.
He's someone's brother.
He could be someone's father.
He could be someone's husband.
Used to be friend.
Used to be neighbor.
Used to be coworker.

He is a person. He is God's son. He has an identity. He has worth. He has value. He is loved by his true Father.

And what do we do? What do I do?


I choked back tears as I drove home yesterday.

That could be me. That could be my brother. My father. My mother. It could be anyone I know. Would I leave them alone? No.

The hardest part for me to see what that man rolling up his sign before the light even changed green. He turned to the side for a moment, looked down, and brushed his hand beneath his eye, wiping away the moisture of a tear.

God broke my heart. He gives me His heart in moments like these. Now, what am I to do with it? You can bet I won't forget. And I'll be searching to find ways to speak life and worth into the people around me that I know and I don't know.

I want to live with open hands and an open heart.

That starts now, on my own doorstep.

(Picture credits from Google images)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Captured Frames: Ukraine


So after three months in Africa, and five months in Asia, our beloved Y Squad headed to Eastern Europe for the last season of our adventure. Even looking back on it now, man. Time seriously flew by. It still is.

It was quite a change jumping from Asian culture into Eastern Europe. For one thing, we were completely surrounded by other white people in Europe, that didn't necessarily know we were American...until we opened our mouths. But we didn't get stared at all the time, pointed at, get our pictures taken (that much).

But I absolutely loved our time in Ukraine.

This was my first month of being a team leader, which came with its own set of new experiences. God grew me so much in those final three months of the race, and I am so grateful to have been surrounded by such amazing people.

But Ukraine definitely holds a special place in my heart. The people, the language, the food (thank goodness we got real cheese and bread again), the culture. It was a life giving month, full of good times and growth. We helped out at eye glass clinics that gave out free glasses in different villages and towns, we participated in a farming seminar (the principles of which are forever ingrained into my mind), taught English, and lived life with a great family. It was a blessing!

Check out our time in eastern Ukraine!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Captured Frames: Malaysia

Welcome to the jungle- I mean Malaysia. But really, if you're looking for the real deal jungle....take a trek to Malaysia and wander out past Kuala Lumpur. Head up into some mountains, see breathtaking views...oh, and watch out for elephants, they like to cross the road. Seriously, there are elephant road caution signs along the way.

Malaysia was a month that I physically hit a wall. I was exhausted at the start of the month, and we moved around a lot. But God was good, and we met many amazing people in our travels across the northern part of Malaysia. We ministered to many Indian families, and were greatly blessed by them in return as well.

It was a month of eating lots of delicious curry, eating dinner super late (think 9 or 10pm), facing a lot of spiritual warfare, proclaiming God's love and goodness, and finding fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ around Malaysia.

Enjoy this look at our month in Malaysia!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Captured Frames: Cambodia

I would be lying if I said that when we first arrived in Cambodia, I was excited.

As we walked across the border (which was an ordeal in and of itself), I noticed the change immediately in our surroundings. And what I saw looked a lot like Africa, Uganda, specifically. And because that was a more difficult month for me, I began to dread what lie ahead.

Our team eventually arrived at our tiny village in Kampot Province, and our surroundings began to morph into what looked like the set of Gilligan's Island. Towering coconut trees stood above us, dirt roads all around, dry rice fields, sandy dirt. But we were greeted with warm affection and love, and my heart began to soften ever so slightly for Cambodia.

It is true that Cambodia is a poor country. They estimate that only about twenty percent of the country has fixed electricity. Our team had electricity only for about three hours a day, provided by the gentle hum of a generator. But even despite the lack of electricity, we found things to do. And my heart warmed even more to the simplicity and beauty of life.

The people of Cambodia captivated my heart. Young and old. They are gentle, and kind. Hope is beginning to sparkle deep in their eyes. I felt that deep set hope from the people throughout the month. Through all the hurt from Cambodia's past, God has a plan for this remarkable little nation. And hope awaits.

I fell in love with Cambodia that month. It was not love at first sight by any means. But God began to woo my heart through gentle whispers in that place, and I saw His fingerprints everywhere.

So don't go judging a book by it's cover. Let God surprise you with the outcome.

Enjoy the video!