Finding peace in just the right place

I feel like I’m constantly saying the same old thing on these guest post intros… I met this lovely woman through the Facebook group my agent set up for clients of her agency, and I haven’t met her in person, but I love her… yadda yadda yadda. The thing is, though, it continues to be ...

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jayme_mansfield-069I feel like I’m constantly saying the same old thing on these guest post intros… I met this lovely woman through the Facebook group my agent set up for clients of her agency, and I haven’t met her in person, but I love her… yadda yadda yadda.

The thing is, though, it continues to be true. They’re all interesting and talented, kind and generous—all-around lovely people.

But I think Jayme Mansfield is really something special. Maybe because she wrote this incredible review of Praying Upside Down on her blog. Maybe because I love the name of her blog—The Blank Canvas: Fill it with Him. Maybe because she’s an artist. Or perhaps it’s because her book, Chasing the Butterfly, is really, really good.

Or maybe I should stop trying to define it and keep it simple: She’s really awesome and I hope you enjoy this guest post.

GRAPHIC spinning in circles

The Colorado Rocky Mountains are calling my name today. I’m fortunate—only a short drive from the west side of Denver will soon find me surrounded by forests of pine, valleys blanketed in wild flowers, high and fast-moving rivers from summer’s abundance of rain, and the remnants of last winter’s snow still capping the highest peaks.

But wait…though the allure of trading the city for a few days for a slice of mountain tranquility shouts to me to wrangle the dog into backseat and race the car out of town, it’s really God whispering to my soul to come rest with Him—“to be still, and know that I am God.”

He knows me well. Anxious thoughts have been brewing—my teaching job, although wonderful, has tiptoed closer than when vacation began. The myriad of home and garden improvements waits impatiently on the “to-do list.” Best intentions to meet friends for coffee, wheedle away at the stack of books on my nightstand, and re-start my long neglected Pilates regime, now wait like bored spectators—hoping for even a bit of action. Worst of all (for us author peeps), is my next unfinished manuscript with the self-prescribed, ambitious, end-of-summer birthday—which will not happen. Sigh!

Ah, yes, He knows me well. I could spend another weekend spinning in circles like my rooftop weather vane in a windstorm—heading north to the grocery store, south to the basement laundry room, east to mow the lawn, and then west to walk the dog. A momentary pause, when the wind is merely catching its breath, may allow me pause at my computer.

Or, I could stop and breathe. Close my eyes, and pray—Lord, what do you want me to do? Where do you want me to be? And let His words play over in my mind, “But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.” (Habakkuk 2:20).

Regardless of what I am doing, I do know this—He wants me with Him. Sometimes it’s among a whirlwind of people and activity—a beehive life. Other times, it is in solitude, quietness, and stillness—nestled in His presence.

Yes, He knows me, oh, so well. Today, He’s beckoning me to spend time with Him alone (okay, Gracie will tag along as I’m convinced she is one of His favorite dogs.) I’ll turn the music off while I drive, hike to a favorite vantage point to gaze upon one of His many creations—and then I will listen, soak in the inspiration, the calm, and the peace that is essential before I write.

But most importantly, I will be with Him so that I can hear the what—the answer to my prayer to be reoriented, to have my physical, emotional, and spiritual compass be recalculated. After all, I’m convinced that is when the views are most glorious.


To spend more time with Jayme, visit her at: Her website | Facebook Author Page | PinterestGoodreadsTwitterInstagramJayme’s Art Studio website

5119HhoZ9aLAuthor Bio: Jayme H. Mansfield is an author, artist, and educator. She provides vivid imagery as she melds her inspiring writing and artistic talents. Her debut novel, Chasing the Butterfly, released in late summer 2014, by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Recently, she was awarded the 2015 Christian Small Publishers Association Book of the Year in Historical Fiction and the novel is a 2015 Inspirational Readers Choice Award Finalist for Women’s Fiction. Her passion for weaving stories about women who find their strength in the Lord continues in her upcoming novel, Rush, a historically compelling tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush in the late 1800’s. Jayme owns, paints, and shares the joy of creating visual art with children and adults at the Piggy Toes Art Studio in Lakewood, Colorado for the past twenty years. After a career in both the business and creative sides of advertising, Jayme received her teaching and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Creative Arts. For many years in elementary education, she has shared a passion for literacy and the writing process with her students. She teaches at Aspen Academy in Greenwood Village, Colorado. She is married to James and has three teenage boys.

The essence of creativity…

As I’m busy writing my next book, I’m also poring through all of my files. Stacks and stacks of papers. Printed blog posts and online articles. Handwritten notes scribbled over the years as I read books in bed, late at night. Scraps of paper and receipts with “brilliant” ideas that I scribbled as I drove, ...

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GRAPHIC essence of creativityAs I’m busy writing my next book, I’m also poring through all of my files. Stacks and stacks of papers. Printed blog posts and online articles. Handwritten notes scribbled over the years as I read books in bed, late at night. Scraps of paper and receipts with “brilliant” ideas that I scribbled as I drove, afraid the thought would vanish with the scenery. Bits of my own writing, bits of other people’s.

This quotation is one I stumbled upon again recently. I immediately fell in love with when I first read it—when Ann Voskamp posted it in 2012 in a post about why everyone needs to make art everyday. (Read that post here.)

Because of my new book, I’m thinking a lot about creativity. About risk. About finding the courage to seek God even when it’s not easy. To look for Him even when we’re tired and weary. To pick up the Bible even when we don’t know where to start. Wondering about how to keep up a life of faith, how to not burn out, how to push through anyway. And I’m pondering how to still my mind and relax into my relationship with God even as I try frantically to meet this next writing deadline.

Just because I’m writing about prayer does not mean I struggle any less than you do. But with each comment I receive, each message and question about prayer, I am more and more inspired to work on this book. I’m in love with the subject. I’m in love with creativity. And I’m remembering how much I’m in love with the Creator who inspires all of those things.

And I’m grateful for you. For that thing inside that won’t let go, the part of you that keeps reaching, keeps wanting to try again or find more of God or reach out to connect with others. The part of you that keeps hoping. We hear all the time that God is love. And oh, He is. We can rest in it, pull it around us, wrap ourselves in the warm cloak of God’s adoration.

But the word that makes my spirit leap is hope. Hope says there’s always something more. That the end is not the end. That somehow, some way, things will get better. Deadlines will be met, bodies will be healed, finances will balance, relationships will be restored, life will move forward, and God will prevail.

But allowing ourselves to believe? Letting ourselves feel that hope? It’s hard. And scary. It’s a huge risk. But if you look back at Ann’s quote, note that she doesn’t simply say that creativity is believing. She says it’s believing enough.

That’s it. That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to believe everything you hear or study. You don’t need all the answers. You can still wonder, and doubt, and try, and fail, and walk forward, and fall back. But just believe enough to pick yourself back up. To take one more step. To reach out your hand, to tilt your face towards the sky. To dream. To create. To pray. To seek. To hope. And to find.

Because the biggest risks bring the greatest rewards.

 

 

Interview, review, and a giveaway

Courtney DeFeo is a friend of my agent, and that’s how we connected, but it seems we have lots in common. One of her creations is Alphabet Scripture Cards, which are pretty cool. Her bio describes her better than I could: Courtney DeFeo believes our kids can light up the world. As a former marketing ...

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Courtney DeFeo is a friend of my agent, and that’s how we connected, but it seems we have lots in common. One of her creations is Alphabet Scripture Cards, which are pretty cool.

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Her bio describes her better than I could:

Courtney DeFeo believes our kids can light up the world. As a former marketing professional, she lives in a constant brainstorm with herself and suspects it’s the route of her migraines. She wants her little light to shine so that her family knows Jesus intimately and others might see His love in the process. She is the creator of ABC Scripture Cards, Light ‘Em Up and Conversation Cups – and author of In This House, We Will Giggle. Her house is a wreck and she hates to cook. She adores her hot, patient husband. She posts entirely too many photos of her girls on Instagram. Connect with Courtney anytime: TwitterWebsiteFacebookInstagram.

I was so happy to be interviewed for her site. Head over there to read our conversation—or leave a comment on the post on her site in order to enter for a giveaway of a copy of my book.


I was so moved by this review of my book, and blown away when I realized the author is 15 years old. I can’t imagine being so…well, amazing…at that age. (Or any other, quite frankly!) I hope you’ll hop over there to read her lovely review and check out the rest of her blog while you’re at it. Besides, you’ve gotta love this pic.

 

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I’m supposed to be a word person, right? So why can’t I find words to describe how it feels to hear other people talk about Praying Upside Down? Why can’t I figure out how to convey my sense of awe? How can I express the humility I feel, coupled with giddy exhilaration that someone got it, that someone heard from God or turned towards Him in a new way? I’ve known all along that if anyone hears God through those words, it’s because God is drawing them, not because I’m anything remarkable. But just to be able to be a part of that process? As I said a whole paragraph ago, I just have no words to describe it. (Apparently, though, I have plenty of words to describe the ways in which I cannot describe it. Go figure.) To all of you who have reached out in some way to share your experience,  T H A N K   Y O U . xo

Messy Prayer

God has an amazing way of connecting us with each other. Becky Kopitzke and I share the same agent. During the reach-out-to-everyone-you-know phase of my book promotion, I wrote to her. Turns out, she lives near where my daughter Anna goes to school in Wisconsin. And attends the church that Anna had hoped to check ...

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God has an amazing way of connecting us with each other. Becky Kopitzke and I share the same agent. During the reach-out-to-everyone-you-know phase of my book promotion, I wrote to her. Turns out, she lives near where my daughter Anna goes to school in Wisconsin. And attends the church that Anna had hoped to check out at some point. Becky graciously welcomed her in and has met her at the coffee shop. I’m blown away by the ways God shows His love to us, by the people He places in our lives at the right times. Today I’m honored to post at Becky’s blog about when prayer is messy. Leave a comment on her blog for a chance to win a copy of Praying Upside Down!

Prayer-Messy

Surely I’m not the only mom who’s cringed at the unavoidable (but unsavory) task of accepting the artwork being held out by her small child. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? A soggy piece of construction paper, drenched with runny paint, dripping in rivulets across the page. And down your child’s arms. And into your purse, if you’re not careful. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there might even be glue. And glitter. You just know that if you touch this glorious bastion of creativity, it’s going to rub off on you, too.

Being creative can be messy.

So can prayer.

Then again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If prayer is, in its simplest form, communication with God—a way of reaching hold of a greater power, the greater power—then wouldn’t you want some of that to rub off?

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Behind the cover

“So, did you design your book cover?” I hear that a lot. The answer is no. “But you’re a graphic designer!” I know that. But people say this often enough that I thought I’d briefly explain. If you self-publish, you can design your own cover. And from what I’ve seen, sometimes with smaller publishers, the ...

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PUD cover with drop shadow

“So, did you design your book cover?”

I hear that a lot. The answer is no.

“But you’re a graphic designer!”

I know that. But people say this often enough that I thought I’d briefly explain.

If you self-publish, you can design your own cover. And from what I’ve seen, sometimes with smaller publishers, the author can choose a designer. But the more traditional publishers have whole teams dedicated to marketing and design. And although I’m a professional marketer, I’m not a professional book marketer or designer.

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve put so much into this book. I’ve poured out my heart. I’ve written and rewritten and edited and struggled over word choices and theology. I’ve reached out to everyone I know, begging for favors and help. If I’d had to design the cover, too, I think it would have been too much for me to handle.

As a designer, too, I know that the hardest person to design for is yourself.

Because Tyndale is an amazingly awesome publisher, they gave me a lot of input into my cover, though. They had me fill out a survey and provide samples of other covers I liked and why. They asked about visual metaphors for the book’s content. And then they came back to me with a presentation of four possible cover directions.

I was blown away at the conceptual thinking behind it. They had me at “rationale.”

Believe it or not, this cover is not the one I picked at first. But my team felt strongly about it—strongly enough to put it in front of me when I met with them in person and explain why they thought it best represented the book. And they were completely right. I was hung up on one small detail and hadn’t wanted to be difficult so I’d picked a different direction—but when I got up the guts to ask for that change, they readily complied and I felt silly for worrying about it.

The more I look at it, the more I like it. I love the colors. I love that the fabulous designer, Nicole Grimes, hand-painted the image and hand-drew the type. I love that the image representing the whole book shows that there are two different ways to view the same thing, because it’s something I say over and over. I LOVE that I have a blurb from the amazing Elizabeth Berg on the front. How cool is that?

But most of all? I love the idea of the two faces for a book on prayer. The book is about drawing near to God—coming face to face with the Almighty. And when we do, the cup of His purpose is poured out between us. But I say it better in my book. Check out chapter 6… in just a few more days!

 

 

Do you see what I see? No? Good.

Don’t worry. This post isn’t about The Dress. Well, not really. As a graphic designer, I pride myself on how I perceive color, on noticing the nuances of hues and shades and being able to describe them to my clients. So I confess that this has been kind of hard on me. One, I like ...

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Don’t worry. This post isn’t about The Dress. Well, not really.

As a graphic designer, I pride myself on how I perceive color, on noticing the nuances of hues and shades and being able to describe them to my clients. So I confess that this has been kind of hard on me. One, I like to be right, and I still disagree with some of the conclusions regarding what the dress actually looks like. And two, I’ve always been adamant that I am a really good judge of color. I can see a paint chip once, and weeks later at Target pick up a throw pillow or vase that matches perfectly. One year I got a sweater for Christmas, and without having it with me, bought a pair of leggings the exact color as the sweater. I notice when there’s a little more blue in this green than in this one, or when the red contains a smidge of yellow.

When clients don’t see the same thing I do, at times I get a little bit of an attitude. Because it’s soooo clear to me, and I don’t know how they can’t see it. (And I may have mentioned that I like to be right.)

But this (somewhat annoying) dress debate has taught me something. There may be reasons I’d never considered for why someone else might see a specific situation in a different way than I do. Something that isn’t readily apparent. Something hidden. Unseen, if you will.

It’s not really about being right or wrong, no matter how much you want your perspective to be true. I’ve heard from many Christians “we believe the Truth.” “We only teach the Bible’s Truth.” And they mean it. I’ve been known to say the same thing, and I mean it too.

But my truth may look slightly different than yours, even when we’re both looking at the same picture. I see a light bluish-lavender color, which I assume is a white dress in cool wintry shadows (like the color of shadows striping an Indiana snowy landscape)—while you see blue.

Our culture has been edging more and more to extremes. There’s little middle ground, and practically no tolerance for different opinions. If nothing else, the dress has shown us that. And within the Christian culture, it seems that differences in worship or interpretation or practice have polarized us, rather than pulling us together.

And yet we’re all striving to see the same truth. To discover it, apply it, and live it.

But while I may read the Bible and note that Jesus drank wine—and therefore decide that wine should be used for communion, another person serves grape juice because they want to cause no man to stumble. And another may say somewhere in the middle is more accurate, because the wine in Jesus’ day wasn’t as strong as ours, so really if we’re wanting to follow Jesus, we should mix water with the wine.

I know there are bigger issues than this, and I personally don’t think this one is that important. Because we’re all trying to follow His directive to do this in remembrance of Him. To honor Him. And in my deepest self I believe God honors all of our intentions.

I do hope the discussion about the dress ends soon, but even more, I hope we walk away from it having learned something. Maybe when someone disagrees with me, or sees a situation differently or draws an alternate conclusion than I do, I have to consider that there’s more to it than meets the eye. It might be that their life experience has given them a different outlook. Perhaps they bring assumptions and biases to their interpretation of an event. Quite possibly, they’ve been hurt by someone using similar words as I am, by a church experience with imperfect people or leaders. Or maybe God reveals Himself in a different way to that person than He does to me.

It doesn’t mean my God has changed or that we serve different gods. Just that He created us as individuals. He speaks to us in a variety of ways.

Maybe we need to allow ourselves to be open to the possibility that neither of us is wrong.

And embrace the fact that we’re all just made a little bit differently.

The ART of Praying Upside Down

Book titles change fairly often. I started out expecting my book to be called Praying Upside Down. Then the folks at Tyndale suggested The Art of Praying Upside Down. I liked that, too. But then there were reasons to be made for shortening it back to Praying Upside Down—all of which I agree with—so I had ...

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Book titles change fairly often. I started out expecting my book to be called Praying Upside Down. Then the folks at Tyndale suggested The Art of Praying Upside Down. I liked that, too. But then there were reasons to be made for shortening it back to Praying Upside Down—all of which I agree with—so I had to wrap my head around it again. But it’s all good. I still love my title. It just sometimes takes me a little while to adapt to changes.

But in honor of the “art” part, I’m going to share a few more blurbs with you. These are quotes about my book provided by artists, or focusing on the art concept, so I am particularly proud of them. Check out these writers if you don’t already know of them. I’ve provided links where it made sense. (P.S. 85 days until my book releases!)


Praying Upside Down offers an invaluable antidote to the prayer life that has gone stale. We can forget the one-dimensional prayers we have been praying before bedtime all these years. Kelly O’Dell Stanley literally turns prayer on its head, transforming it into a fresh, vibrant act of creativity that refreshes the spirit. Take Kelly at her word, and you will never look at prayer the same way again.

MATT APPLING
Teacher, pastor, and author of Life after Art: What You Forgot About Life and Faith Since You Left the Art Room and Plus or Minus
(see guest post from Matt here)


In Praying Upside Down, Kelly O’Dell Stanley offers us a fresh perspective on not only our prayers, but also the God who answers them. Art has a way of moving and stretching us. Of making us consider our experiences in a new light. Stanley utilizes her first-hand knowledge of the artistic process to shine new truth on what it means to commune with God and the full spectrum of ways we can see His answers manifest in our lives, if our eyes are open. Praying Upside Down will rejuvenate any prayer life, and I believe this work is truly a gift to the body of Christ.

SARAH KOVAC
Author of In Capable Arms (you can read what I wrote about her book here)


vision(Look at this gorgeous image from Tim’s website. He is amazing.)

This book is an invitation to pray so much more richly in so many new ways. Kelly O’Dell Stanley expands our horizons about conversing with God not with more instructions but through one experience after another. If you are an artist-type, you will quickly find that she speaks your language. Even if you do not consider yourself an artist, you will be opened up to the Master Artist’s point of view, which, in Kelly’s words, “is quite a view!”

TIMOTHY R. BOTTS
Calligrapher and author of Doorposts

14 Things I Learned in 2014

Emily Freeman is one of my favorite bloggers—if you don’t already know her, check out chattingatthesky.com. Every month, she does a “what I learned” post, and this week she’s posting her year-end roundup. I decided to join in the link-up. These are just a few of the things that I learned this last year, in ...

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14 things header

Emily Freeman is one of my favorite bloggers—if you don’t already know her, check out chattingatthesky.com. Every month, she does a “what I learned” post, and this week she’s posting her year-end roundup. I decided to join in the link-up. These are just a few of the things that I learned this last year, in no particular order.

1. God’s timing is [still, always] perfect, even if His answers seem upside down. My husband was let go from his job with no warning on New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2013). Right after that, on an already-planned-trip to NYC, we were “snowed out” and couldn’t get back into Indy. And then my workload  increased exponentially. Turns out, Tim and I make a pretty good team. While I closed myself in my office, he picked up Bobby from school, attended swim meets, and ran to the grocery. I was able to do a lot more work, and we managed to make COBRA insurance payments for a family of five for a whole year. Not fun, but we did it.

2. Even though we’re pretty self-sufficient, I miss Tim when he’s not around. When Tim started a new job after six months of being home, he spent most of ten weeks of training staying in an out-of-town hotel. I quickly discovered that it’s just not the same when he’s not here. Not just because I want the help—but because I know very few men who happily, willingly go to doctor’s appointments, band concerts, and to Goodwill to create costumes for various school projects—yet that’s exactly where Tim thrives. (Tip to newlyweds: pretend you don’t know how to sew, and maybe your husband will become the go-to person when someone needs a button replaced or a ripped seam repaired. Or an elaborate costume prepared the night before a big presentation.)

3. A mother’s job doesn’t cease just because her kids leave home. To be honest, I already knew this since Katie’s been in college in Iowa for a couple years. But when Anna went to Wisconsin, I got to discover it all over again. Sure, there’s less clutter around the house when they (and their stuff) move several hours away. And I confess, I like less clutter. A lot. But my role doesn’t really change all that much when they change locations. I just get to do motherly things from a long distance… Which reminds me that I need to do a better job of teaching, of delegating, of making them self-sufficient. At the same time, I’m grateful that they sometimes want to know what I think :-).

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4. I love design. But in my heart of hearts, I’m a writer first. I believe with all of my heart that God led me to this place. I don’t want to be anywhere else. This is what I want to do. And the more I learn (through some really amazing editors) and the more I write, the more I love it. So with that in mind…

5. I’m still brave enough to take a giant leap of faith. When my oldest child, Katie, was three months old, I left the security of regular employment to start my own business. I only had one client at the time and had no idea how I was gonna make it. But my husband had health insurance and we had a reasonable mortgage, so rather than leave my baby with someone I didn’t know, I went for it. I learned to type with a baby on my lap, and I discovered the mute button to hide toddler sounds during conference calls. There have been plenty of leaps along the way—office space outside the home, adding clients I wasn’t sure I was qualified for, resignations from others. I added writing and consulting to my list of services. But now, this latest leap is pretty scary. I (temporarily) resigned all new work from my largest client/co-consultant, knowing that I need the time for book promotion and writing. I’m not sure how I’ll make up for the lost income. Or if more work will be waiting when I’m ready. But I’ve taken Ray Bradbury’s advice: “Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.” I already jumped. Time to start building.

6. God manages to surprise me over and over and over again. Between the time last night when I wrote #5 and this afternoon, when I sat down to finish the post, I was notified that I’ll soon be receiving a big check I wasn’t expecting. I have to believe He will continue to provide—somehow, some way.

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7. The elusive writer’s “platform” really is more than just social media followers. I don’t have the number of followers my publisher would like, and I have a lot of work ahead of me. (I’m OK with that.) But I’ve seen how the past few years of meeting people has been valuable. I connected with other writers because I liked and admired them. I tried to be real and to be open, and I didn’t do it for personal gain. But now that I need book endorsements and places to guest post, I’m seeing the secondary benefits of some of these connections. For example, I attended a workshop with Elizabeth Berg a few years ago—and now one of her blurbs graces the front cover of my book!

8. Redecorating revives me. Mom always said two things about my propensity for change: 1) “Your room dimensions are probably a foot smaller now because of all the coats of paint on the walls.” And 2) “As much as you like to change things, it’s a miracle Tim’s been around as long as he has.” She may have been right. I’ve been on a kick to change things up a bit around here. New charcoal bedspread, rugs and curtains in the bedroom, brightened up with colorful throw pillows and an old family quilt. LOVE. And now I’ve moved the girls into the same room (they’re both in college and never home, so why not?), turned Katie’s old room into a den/library, and I’m changing our sunroom into a laundry room and pantry with built-in shelves and cubbies. New colors, new curtains. Pretty glass jars to hold popcorn and rice and pasta. Organization makes me so happy. (As does IKEA.)

9. Cooking is dangerous for my health. One day, as I obliviously reached above my head to remove a glass baking dish from the cabinet, the 9×12 pan shattered in my hand—little bits of sharp glass landing all over the kitchen, including on the bologna my son wanted me to fry for him. Glad I dodged that one, but unfortunately, I didn’t dodge the glass itself and cut my lip pretty badly. Now I’m on a quest for colorful ceramic baking dishes to replace all the psychotic glass that could, with no warning, self-destruct.

10. Coloring is beneficial for your health. I know there are studies to back this up, but I don’t know where they are. What I do know, though, is that when I was in Florida with Dad this summer for his chemo and radiation, he and I had lots of fun visiting Michael’s. He came back with a sketch pad and drawing pencils, and I got a coloring book. That trip to Michael’s was one of the most fun ones ever—even though Dad was sick. The whole time I was down there I kept thinking, “I forgot how much fun I have with Dad!” But now I remember. When we got back to the room after our art supply shopping spree, he did a few sketches. I think it made him feel a little more like himself. He got through treatment and got back to painting, and now, six months later, he has a new Best of Show ribbon in his studio from a show in September. And all of his recent tests have come back cancer-free.

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11. The year 2015 might actually, truly get here. When I signed with Tyndale, publication of my book was over two years out. I think people are as tired of asking “Is your book out yet?” as I am of saying, “Nope, not ‘til May of next year.” But now I can say, “Just a few more months!” Four, to be exact, as on January 1. Not that I’m giddy with excitement or anything.

12. OK, really, I’m giddy with excitement!

13. The light from an iPad, I’ve read, keeps you from ever reaching REM sleep or feeling rested. What this seems to tell me is that if I did NOT stay up late reading on my iPad, I’d never get up. As it is now, I’m asleep within five minutes and have crazy deep dreams. Also, I can sleep until noon if allowed (sadly, I’m not allowed very often). It seems I’m reverting to teenager-dom. Which leads me to this last lesson:

14. I will apparently have these braces on for the rest of my adult life. Or at least another year of it. I’m going with the idea that braces and occasional acne make me look much less than my 47 years of age. If I’m delusional, please don’t correct me.

So that’s my list of 14 things to wrap up this year. I probably learned a few more things, but if I did, I don’t remember them. I really, truly hope you’ll stick around here a while to see what comes in 2015. If my to-do list or the number of spread sheets in my writing folder is any indication, I have lots of things planned.

So tell me… where are your thoughts taking you as this year draws to a close?

And now… finally… the official cover of my book!

So…whaddaya think? I’ll tell you why I like it. It’s hand-painted and hand-lettered (by one of Tyndale’s fabulous designers), so that brings in the art aspect. This optical illusion—the faces and/or chalice—is one that’s featured in the book. (But you’ll have to wait until then to read the whole story behind it.) The image depicts ...

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So…whaddaya think?

I’ll tell you why I like it. It’s hand-painted and hand-lettered (by one of Tyndale’s fabulous designers), so that brings in the art aspect. This optical illusion—the faces and/or chalice—is one that’s featured in the book. (But you’ll have to wait until then to read the whole story behind it.) The image depicts either object—or both—depending on how you look at it. It feels reflective. Prayerful. Conversational. And it represents a basic theme of my book, that there’s more than one way to look at any situation, and our point of view makes all the difference in the world in how we experience it.

But there’s more to it than that. My book is about looking for God. Drawing near to Him. Talking to Him, feeling Him, seeing Him. It’s about those moments when we come face to face with Him. And when I look at this image, that’s what I feel. That kind of intimacy is what I long to find, over and over again. And what I hope—and pray—others will find in my words. Not because I want to change them. But because those moments when I’ve glimpsed God have transformed my faith, my beliefs, and my soul, and I can’t think of a better thing to wish for anyone.

I hope you like the cover. And do you want to know a secret? It’s already available for pre-order on Amazon. It will eventually be on sale in many more outlets, too, but those links aren’t live yet. If you want to be among the first to order it (even though it won’t be available until May 1), feel free to click that pre-order button! And it’s officially no longer a secret, so feel free to forward or post this anywhere you like. For some reason, the cover and description only show up with the paperback link for now, but that should be corrected soon :-).

Thank you all for following along on this journey. I’m pretty impatient, so this wait is hard for me. But I couldn’t have asked for a better publisher or better experience. I’m grateful for all of you who continue to follow along… and thankful that publication is now finally less than six months away!

P.S. Thanks to all of my new blog subscribers. Your names are in the back of my journal so I can pray for you by name.

P.P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Christy Blundy. Please email me (kellyostanley-at-me-dot-com) your choice of a hand-painted journal, hand-made sterling silver earrings, or a $15 Amazon gift card, along with your mailing address, and I’ll get that to you right away. Thanks!

Blessed silence

Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of God. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson...

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Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of God. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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