Category Archives: General

Whimsy & Wisdom

The last 25 years have been an incredible journey of exploring the world of publishing and books andsurprise for me!illustration and art. And, over the last few months, I feel like God has given me greater clarity about what to do with my gifts and talents.

After much reflection and prayer, I’ve decided to give my creative work a name: Whimsy & Wisdom! (Thus the renaming of this blog, which used to be called Piece of Mind.) As many of you know, I’m passionate about both faith and artistry, I can be both serious and silly, and I’m committed to truth while also being a fan of wholesome fantasy. I have written articles about difficult subjects and doodled whimsical butterflies.

Some people worry that if they’re too joyful, people will judge them for not being serious enough. The opposite is also true. I am on a mission to remind people that they can be botheven at the same time! I want to inspire you toward seriously joyful living.

In the coming months I will be working on projects I look forward to sharing with the world at some point. But, for now, I’d like to ask you to sign up to receive a FREE weekly e-newsletter I’ll be launching sometime in February. You won’t be receiving long letters or articles to read (although I may include the occasional interesting link). Rather, I would like to send you bite-sized inspiration, creative ideas, and tips for living with more joy. And while I may occasionally mention my books, this newsletter won’t be a weekly sales pitch. That’s a promise!

How does that sound? Are you in? Then please click on this link and fill in just a couple of quick details: http://eepurl.com/hmTd8j. That’s it! 🙂

I’m not sure of the exact date I’ll send the first newsletter, but I’ll probably send an update in the next few weeks. Of course, you will always have the option to unsubscribe if you’re not enjoying the weekly emails.

Thank you for your time, interest, and encouragement! Wishing you many blessings in the days ahead,

Ann-Margret

My 2020 Christmas Letter

It’s hard to believe nine months have already passed since we first heard of COVID-19. Back in March, most of us thought it was a temporary setback. Then, as we understood it might take much longer, panic set in: How will we ever get through this? And now we’re seeing just how resilient and strong people can be when life strips away comforts and conveniences we so easily take for granted, when we’re forced to lean into each other even as we practice social distancing. I know that for many of you the challenges of 2020 have been far more difficult than they have been for me (although I had to mourn the deaths of an aunt, a church member I’ve known since birth, and a friend I went to college with), so I won’t pretend I understand what you’ve been going through, but I do want to encourage you to not give up. People like me are inspired when we watch people like you!

Thank you for being part of my journey, even if you only interact with me on social media and we don’t know each other personally. Each connection has played a part in helping me become who I am and come this far in my life, especially in the last few years as I’ve experienced more change and growth than I believed was possible for me.

As strange and tough as 2020 has been, I must confess it was a good year for me. That’s partly because 2019 was such a hard and discouraging year. I struggled in my work, in my spiritual growth, in my personal life. But God is faithful and He is good, and He relentlessly told me He loves me through people, through books, through music, through nature, and through His Word, even (or especially) in times of silence and darkness. After 40 years of being a Christian, I finally got it.

Unless you’ve had this experience, too—I know some of you have, and I hope the rest of you will one day—it’s hard to imagine how much light and freedom and hope pour into your life when you truly believe God loves you, and you start to love Him back. When you start to follow and obey Him because you are excited to, and not because you feel like you have to (or else you’ll displease Him and disappoint people around you), the whole game changes. So 2020 has been unforgettable for me for reasons other than COVID. I’ve been rediscovering who God made me to be and enjoying the abundant life He has for each of us. Some of the changes have been significant (such as driving… confidently!), some minor (I finally got my ears pierced in January), some sweet (I now have an adorable brown tabby named Buttercup and she makes me smile every day), and some celebration-worthy (my nephew got engaged!)

I’ve been busy with work and am starting to shift into teaching about writing. Things are happening at my church, despite COVID-related challenges, and we’ve had a number of new families join us, which shows that even a global pandemic cannot stop God from moving in people’s hearts. It’s wonderful! Of course, we were unable to go to Armenia this summer—and then there was the heartbreaking war in Artsakh—so our hearts and minds have been with our beloved friends there.

So that’s some of my news! I pray that this Christmas you will truly experience God’s amazing love as you reflect on the greatest gift ever given to us: Jesus coming to this earth to live among us and then to give His life for us. May God bless you richly in 2021!

Ann-Margret

Illustration by Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Two “Joy” Books!

A month ago I shared a list of books that have had a great impact on my life in the last year or two but I didn’t say anything about the books I’ve written or collaborated on. So I’m going to tell you about two of them today!

The Joy of Working at Home

This summer, after numerous discussions about how COVID-19 has forced many people to work at home—people who never intended to work from home and possibly still hate doing so—three freelance writer friends and I decided to write an ebook covering all the ins and outs—and ups and downs—of telecommuting.

The Joy of Working at Home is a practical manual that covers, among several other topics:

  • Best practices for a useful workspace
  • Tools for managing time and tasks
  • Advice on staying healthy, professional and productive
  • Tips for setting boundaries
  • Help for blending work and family

At only $2.99 US from Amazon, you can download a copy for yourself and give one as a gift to a family member or friend who is also puzzling over how to deal with the challenges of working and living in the same space.

If you’re on Facebook, you can also follow our page for free book excerpts, bonus tips, and more: https://www.facebook.com/joyofworkingathome.

Choose Joy: A Coloring Book of Gratitude and Wonder

I was thrilled when, early in 2020, Ink & Willow asked me to participate, for the third time, in a multi-artist colouring book. (I had previously contributed five drawings each to Whatever Is Lovely and Everything Beautiful.)

This time, I not only got to draw seven of the pages in this gorgeous book, but one of my designs was chosen for the cover and I lettered the quotes on eight other illustrations. Five years into illustrating colouring books, this is my best work yet. I hope you’ll get a copy! Click here to find it on Amazon.

I’m working on several new creative projects that I look forward to sharing with you in 2021. Thanks for stopping by! I’ll share a Christmas reflection this weekend, so please make sure you’re signed up to be notified of new posts.

Ann-Margret

My Book Wish List (for you)

Since 2011, I’ve been keeping track of the books I read in an old notebook, listing books as I buy them and then using a date stamp to mark when I finish one of them. I have also finally started to keep track on Goodreads (you can follow me here).

As I read, I tend to pull out quotes I like and share them on Facebook (follow my author page here). A few friends have told me they appreciate my book recommendations so I thought I’d write a post about several books that have had a great impact on my life in the last year or so.

Other than the first two, they are in no particular order…

After the Bible, The Cure (by John Lynch) has been the biggest game-changer for me, especially as a long-time Christian who grew up in evangelical circles and became a pastor’s kid in my teens. A kind, older gentleman who was in my life for only a couple of months recommended it to me last November, not knowing the spiritual turmoil I was going through at the time, and God used it to open my eyes to the fact that I’d spent years trying to make Him (and everyone else around me) be pleased with me instead of trying to please Him. Every page of this book made me feel less alone, less hopeless, less lost. My relationship with God did a 180 turn and I’ve been going through a transformation I had begun to despair I’d ever experience.

The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning – I’ve read this little book three times in the last couple of years. The second time was in one sitting, a few weeks before I read The Cure. I wept and wept as it touched a deep place inside, a place that found it hard to believe God truly loved me. It helped me better understand the kind of intimacy I could experience with God. Another game-changer.

Your Future Self Will Thank You by Drew Dyck – If you struggle with self-discipline and self-control and feel frustrated by failed attempts to form new habits, read this. It’s full of biblical wisdom and practical tips, woven with humour and backed up with brain science. It helped me shift the way I approach self-control and I’ve started to see good progress with my goals!

The Sensible Shoes series by Sharon Garlough Brown – These books read like novels but are packed, packed, packed with insights and encouragement about the journey of spiritual transformation we go through as we submit our lives to Jesus Christ. I was especially touched by the character Hannah as her story mirrored mine in some ways. (Fun fact: I got my ears pierced in January because of her!)

Influence by Kate Motaung and Shannon Popkin – Every Christian who is a writer or speaker or “influencer” of some sort needs to read this little book. The authors help make sense of the condundrum we all face: How do I market my work without making it all about me instead of God? Insightful and inspired.

Free to Lean by Jocelyn Green – I’ve read all eight of Jocelyn’s fantastic historical fiction books but this little non-fiction number is my favourite. It’s a breath of fresh air for those of us who feel weighed down by the pressure to be everything and do everything. Stop. Read this book.

Other books I highly recommend:

Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson

Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Lies Women Believe by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Sex and the Single Girl by Juli Slattery

Me, Myself and Bob by Phil Vischer

The Minister’s Wife by Karen Stiller

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Joy Unspeakable

Growing up, I used to enjoy the vinyl records my parents played (I may have just given my age away!) and occasionally I hear some of the songs echoing in the far recesses of my brain. One of them was a hymn sung by a then-popular television evangelist, and it made me smile to remember it a few days before the new year because it is about a three-letter word that has become my theme in recent months: JOY!

Joy Unspeakable, written by Barney E. Warren in 1900, goes like this:

I have found His grace is all complete,
He supplieth every need;
While I sit and learn at Jesus’ feet,
I am free, yes, free indeed.

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
Full of glory, full of glory;
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
Oh, the half has never yet been told.

I have found the pleasure I once craved,
It is joy and peace within;
What a wondrous blessing, I am saved
From the awful gulf of sin.

I have found that hope so bright and clear,
Living in the realm of grace;
Oh, the Savior’s presence is so near,
I can see His smiling face.

I have found the joy no tongue can tell,
How its waves of glory roll;
It is like a great o’erflowing well,
Springing up within my soul.

Isn’t that beautiful? The Bible says that the peace we find in Christ is beyond understanding (Philippians 4:7). Similarly, it’s fitting to say that the joy He gives us is “unspeakable”—indescribable. How do you explain that deep, bubbling joy that begins far down in your soul and overflows even in the midst of pain, hardship, uncertainty and need? It defies human logic and flies in the face of worldly standards of happiness.

I don’t know whether you’ve made any resolutions or goals for 2019, but I have one overarching one: to seek my joy in Christ alone and to share that joy with others. One way I try to do that is through my daily posts on Facebook, which you can follow here. I hope you’ll come and visit and be encouraged.

Be sure to check out the “31 Days of Encouraging Others” challenge I posted. In case you don’t have Facebook, here it is in a nutshell:

January challenge

Oh, one more thing before I close: Click on the “Freebies” tab above to find my latest free colouring page (“Rejoice!”)

I wish you a joyous New Year!

Ann-Margret 

P.S. Thanks for your patience while I took a break from my blog. I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be posting but I’ll be around a little more often. 🙂

 

Hiatus

Dear readers,

I haven’t posted in a while, and I appreciate your patience while I take a break from blogging for a little while longer. I had big plans for this blog at the beginning of the year but I had more enthusiasm than time and energy. And a week from today I’ll be on my way to Armenia for three weeks, along with my Dad and my niece Alexis, for my fourth mission trip to my motherland. Please follow our trip on our blog or on Facebook.

In late September, I’ll be the keynote speaker at the InScribe Fall Conference in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and then, in mid-October, I fly down to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Breathe Conference, where I’ll mainly be learning (and my friend Jocelyn Green will be the keynote speaker!) but I’ll also have the opportunity to co-lead a workshop and facilitate a creative activity.

I’m also working on a new book proposal so, as you can see, there’s a lot going on! I still post pretty regularly on Facebook, though, so I invite you to follow me there, too.

This blog is not over, friends. I’m just gathering some really good material to share with you when the time is right. Thanks for sticking around! 🙂

Have a blessed summer,

Ann-Margret ❤

 

Schedule Change

Hi folks! After reviewing the last three months on my blog and getting some training on productivity and platforms, I have decided to discontinue the Curated Wednesdays posts and shift things around a bit. Starting next week, I’ll be posting on Inspired Tuesdays and, as before, on Creative Saturdays.

In place of the curated posts, I’m going to start developing an email newsletter with highlights, fresh material and some of the types of goodies I would have included in those posts. I’ll give more details about all that and how you can sign up once I’ve got it organized. I might get that going in late spring or early summer.

Thanks for being understanding about this change. Quality over quantity, right? 🙂

See you again tomorrow. I’ve got a quirky project idea for you to work on (something kids or clubs may especially enjoy)!

Ann-Margret

 

Pausing…

A dear friend just gave me some advice, which I’m going to take. Current circumstances are going to make it tough for me to maintain my blog in the next few days, so I’m going to take a short break–just one week. I will start posting again on Monday, February 12 February 5. [Nobody pointed out that I accidentally gave myself two weeks off. Whoops!]

Thanks for understanding and see you again really soon!

Ann-Margret

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