Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Happy Birthday to Mary Ashley

Last week we celebrated Mary Ashley's 12th birthday with what was supposed to be dinner but turned into late-night cake shared with the family after Christian's wrestling match.

This year, instead of a party, she has asked if we could give her room a makeover. So once wrestling season has ended for the boys, we will be tackling some redecorating projects to turn her room into a stylish haven perfect for a pre-teen.

Purple is Mary Ashley's color of choice these days, so I incorporated her favorite hue into our birthday tablescape.

This decisive girl knew she wanted chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and the more chocolate the better. We enjoyed celebrating her special day and look forward to continuing the festivities with a bedroom she can call home.

Happy birthday to our sweet Mary Ashley!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Words of Life: Bible Page Prints from Maria Watercolor

"I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds" (Psalm 77:12).

One of the sweet surprises of the new year has been corresponding with Maria Morris, the talented entrepreneur behind Maria WatercolorShe reached out recently to let me know that one of my photographs inspired her design for this Life Is Beautiful print, which highlights the first thought of Ecclesiastes 3:11: "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time." Isn't this a treasure?

Although her degree in commercial art has brought many opportunities for design work through the years, the artist says her passion has always been portrait painting. While living in Paraguay for eight years, she sold more than 150 watercolor portraits of common people, such as street vendors and open-air market ladies. Now back in the States and raising her children in Kansas City, Kansas, Maria started an Etsy shop that features portraits with both hand- and digitally painted details.

In researching the top-grossing vendors on the site, Maria discovered artwork combined with book pages. "I thought, why use the dictionary when the Bible is so much better?" she explains. "Not even knowing it was a great idea, I started overlaying my watercolors on Bible pages." This new venture has generated significant interest in her shop -- in fact, quadrupling business in a matter of months. "More importantly, I'm spreading the Word of God, who is my first and greatest love," she adds. Maria offers a variety of prints featuring passages from the Old and New Testaments, with the option to order custom florals highlighting a verse of choice. When browsing her shop, I immediately thought of Philippians 4:8, a key verse of inspiration for A Little Loveliness.

The artwork above -- a teacup brimming with a lush bouquet rendered in Maria's signature palette of vivid hues -- is the lovely result of our correspondence. She sent me a complimentary 8x10 print last week, and the colors look so rich on the textured watercolor paper. Once framed, this special keepsake will be displayed in a place of honor for years to come.

Another of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11, is showcased in the design above. Wouldn't one of these prints make a wonderful gift? For birthday, anniversary, wedding or graduation, I can think of no sweeter gesture than a word of Scripture. And what an "apple of gold" for a friend who needs encouragement! One of Maria's clients ordered prints for her Bible-study group, but when the highlighted verse was mentioned during her daughter's bridesmaids brunch, she gave them to the wedding party instead. So now she is ordering more! I expect that many of us will be doing the same.

As for the verses she appreciates most, Maria turns to these two passages daily in her own life:

"That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight iweaknesses, iinsults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10). 

"I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).

She maintains that the greatest blessing of this new professional endeavor is "just knowing that all my art experience, all my years teaching the Bible, and even all the hard times I've gone through are being channeled into these Bible Page prints, which are encouraging so many and bringing the Bible into homes in a fresh, lovely way."

For messages of love, joy and peace, I invite you to peruse Maria's shop! 

Photos from Maria Watercolors. Used with permission.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

"Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day." ~ Michael Josephson

Wishing you a lovely New Year
brimming with grace, peace, joy and love!

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