Long overdue update

A lot has happened since my last blog post!

Last summer I registered for two art business courses, which I’m still working my way through in between freelance work and, you know, life. I can’t wait to finish organizing my portfolio and start selling some fun products! While it’s not yet an officially registered business, I decided to call the illustration side of my freelance work Buttercup Design Studio. Here’s my prototype logo. Isn’t it cute?

My Whimsy & Wisdom weekly e-newsletter is still going strong and is about to celebrate its first anniversary. Well over 200 people get a dose of “serious joy” in their inboxes every Monday morning, and you can, too, by signing up here. (That link also brings up the archive of the last few months, if you want to check out samples.)

I’ve updated my website to highlight my latest projects and showcase some of my illustration work. I’m also offering coaching for writers as well as creative workshops for small groups.

You can now buy my books and colouring pages directly from me online, through my Whimsy & Wisdom shop here.

Last fall, I had the privilege of having my profile of Master Penman Jake Weidmann published in Inspire magazine. (Flip to page 86 of the magazine. Sorry, there’s no way for me to link to a specific page, but if you enter Full Screen mode, you can move the scroll bar at the bottom to the right page.)

I’m currently finishing up illustrations for another multi-artist colouring book being published by Ink & Willow this fall. My contribution will be eight pages, and this is the fifth such book I’ve been asked to collaborate on. Last fall I contributed to this one.

Another Ink & Willow book I collaborated on last year was Resilience, a lovely one-year journal that helps readers let go of worry. I was asked to write the text for it, the second such book I’ve worked on for them.

I’ve had several opportunities to create custom colouring pages and designed a set of Christmas illustrations for a local boutique (available through my online shop as well).

I conducted an experiment last summer and moved my office, art studio, and sewing room upstairs into the apartment above my home when my tenant there left. It was fun for the first five or six months but I eventually realized I missed living in my creative space (or creating in my living space!) so I rearranged things at home and moved back downstairs. Previously, I was trying to use my dining room for my art projects and that just wasn’t practical. Now I simply have a desk in a corner of my living room for my writing and my old office, which was much bigger than it needed to be, is now a dedicated art room. I couldn’t be happier!

I hope you enjoy all these links and find some great new resources for yourself or to give as gifts. Please comment below if you discovered something you particularly like!


New Year, New You

Five to Wear

When holidays and celebrations roll around, it’s not unusual for women to look for a new outfit to wear. I’m not as much of a shopper as I used to be but I still enjoy putting on a pretty new blouse or heading out in cool new boots. Let’s face it: We live in a fashion-obsessed world.

But did you know that the Bible gives the best outfit advice? Look at Colossians 3:12…

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Think about the word “clothe” for a moment. When you get dressed every morning, I assume you open your closet or drawers, look at what you have, and choose what you’re going to wear. Whether you lay your clothes out the night before or throw them on in a mad dash before going out, it’s probably safe to say you choose your outfit.

How much time do you spend every morning deciding what qualities and character traits you are going to adorn yourself with? How much thought do you put into what people see and experience three seconds after they notice your clothes and hair?

It really doesn’t matter how sharp your suit is or how darling your dress is if you forget these garments at home:

  1. COMPASSION – sympathetic concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others (see also Zechariah 7:9)
  2. KINDNESS – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate (see also Job 6:14)
  3. HUMILITY – a modest or low view of one’s own importance (see also Proverbs 22:4)
  4. GENTLENESS – the quality of being kind, tender, or mild-mannered (see also Philippians 4:5)
  5. PATIENCE – the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset (see also Proverbs 19:11)

No amount of fashion sense can make up for a heart focused on pleasing and glorifying itself. Not even the most stunning outfit or perfectly applied make-up can cover up a selfish, prideful and arrogant character.

Conversely, it really doesn’t matter if your blouse is 10 years old or your jeans don’t turn heads if you are clothed with the five qualities listed above. Few people will care about how you look on the outside when your kind words and gentle nature make them feel respected and safe.

Here’s a challenge I hope you’ll join me in this week: Memorize Colossians 3:12 and recite it back to yourself in the mornings as you get dressed. Observe any changes in your life with each passing day.

To help you out, I’ve created a graphic you can post up somewhere as a reminder. Just click on the image below to download or print it.

Five to Wear 2

Please leave a comment below with your own thoughts about Colossians 3:12. What does it mean to you? Which of the five qualities do you struggle with the most? (For me, it’s probably gentleness.)

I wish you a blessed, joy-filled, and peaceful new year. If you were planning a make-over in 2021, don’t forget to clothe the “new you” with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Happy new you! ❤ 


Ditch the List

Most of us start each year with a long, stress-inducing to-do list that—let’s be honest—only makes us feel lousy, as if we were such horrible people in the previous 12 months that we need a major overhaul this year to have any value. This is usually the result of comparing ourselves to others. Please stop doing that to yourself! It’s not constructive and it’s not even close to being biblical.

I’m not suggesting that we adopt the attitude of Calvin here. . .

. . . but I find it ironic that the motive behind most of our resolutions is to make us feel better about ourselves, a flawed strategy that inevitably backfires on us.

Try this: Instead of writing down all the things you can do to like yourself better 12 months from now, ask the Lord to help you start a revolution in your life and in your family, to transform you from the inside out.

Romans 12:1-2 is a great passage to memorize and meditate on: 

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This year, replace your list of goals with a blank page that you offer to God. Allow Him to reshape your thoughts, character and behaviour.

Old Habits Die Hard

Some of you might still be itching for a list of some sort, so here are five general principles (not goals) that can help you prepare to be transformed in 2021.

  1. Do a clean sweep (see Colossians 3:5-10) — Before you tackle the closets you want to declutter or start tossing out junk you’ve been hoarding, invite the Lord to help you let go of attitudes and compulsive behaviours that hinder your spiritual growth and your relationships with others.
  2. Celebrate each day (see Psalm 118:24) — Don’t wait for special occasions to break out the fancy dinnerware, blow out candles or give cards. Make it a habit to find something special about each day to rejoice over, because each day is a precious gift from God. Do something fun or meaningful—even if it’s tiny—to celebrate.
  3. Break up with your mirror (see 1 Peter 3:3-4) — When I turned 40, I wrote this in my journal: “There must come a point in every girl’s life when she cares less about how beautiful she is and more about the beauty she creates.” Certainly, use a mirror when you’re getting ready in the morning but try not to spend hours in front of it and avoid checking it throughout the day. Set an example, to your children and to others, of prioritizing inner beauty over outer beauty and of beautifying the world around you. Remind yourself that how you see is more important than how you look.
  4. Talk less, listen more (see James 1:19) — We joke about how there’s a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth, but the truth is that some people can be difficult to listen to. However, your relationships in general will become healthier when your loved ones see that you are listening to understand them and not simply to respond.
  5. Bark less, wag more (see Philippians 2:14, 4:4) — Determine that you will replace complaining and criticizing with thanking and praising. Don’t wait for your circumstances to change your feelings; you will be waiting a long, long time. Instead, change your attitude and your circumstances will suddenly look very different.

I’m pretty sure 2020 did not turn out the way you had hoped. Whether that’s because of COVID-19 or your own unmet goals, let it go. Let God give you a fresh start. 

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’” 

Lamentations 3:22-24

I love how Anne Shirley (in Anne of Green Gables) put it: “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Happy new year, friends!


Wanting Not

(No, your mind is not playing tricks on you. I originally posted this last Saturday but decided to move it to today.)

It’s the same every year: Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Christmas. Boxing Day. We gorge ourselves during the last several weeks of the year—on food, on consumer goods, on anything that brings us pleasure—and then wake up on the first day of January determined to be more altruistic.

We know that “stuff” will never make us truly happy and yet we remain on this cycle, believing the lie that one day we will find the perfect thing that finally makes our world okay. If it’s not gadgets and clothes, it’s money, food, entertainment, and a rush of adrenaline, fame or someone who loves us.

As a Christian teen, I pitied unbelievers who sought fulfillment in behaviours I wouldn’t dream of. Naïvely, I did not recognize the same patterns in my own life. My pursuits were different but the driving force was the same: a longing for significance. I began performing, trying to please people. What I lacked in beauty, athleticism, and charisma, I tried to make up for with academic excellence, church involvement, and perfect behaviour.

None of those efforts are inherently bad, but when the underlying goal is to earn people’s love, you set yourself up for a life of regret. The slightest indication that I’d fallen short sent me into a tailspin of anxiety, followed by self-flagellation. I’d pull away from people, trying to hide my brokenness and weakness, sabotaging any potential for true intimacy.

Harry Schaumburg, a Christian counsellor and author, says, “In demanding the bliss of someone’s real or imagined warmth, we become consumed with ourselves, which destroys the very ecstasy we seek. There is no way out. We are locked in reality, always wanting and therefore always destroying what we want.”

Several years ago, I realized that even my relationship with God had become a way to feel better about myself; confession and repentance were more about not feeling yucky than about pleasing God. I prayed: “Please teach my heart to want nothing but You. I want to want You, Lord. I want to truthfully say, ‘Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.’”

I listed the things I wanted—to lose weight, to have a vibrant devotional life, to have victory over sin, to manage my time better, etc. Not a single thing on my list seemed contrary to God’s will but I knew I wanted those things more than I wanted God. Things began to change when I made hungering for God my daily, overarching goal.

God is patient and faithful and—I love this—God is for us. He doesn’t shame or condemn us for our cravings because He sees them for what they really are, even when we don’t. He is ready to meet every need.

My wish for you for 2021 is similar to Apostle Paul’s: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. . . who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:17-20).


Room for Jesus?

“Jesus deserves better. A lot better.”

This was the response of Mara, a character in the book Two Steps Forward by Sharon Garlough Brown, when her spiritual director Katherine asked what she thought about Jesus being born in lowly, humble place instead of in a palace.

Katherine then pointed out to Mara: “But God freely chose that place.”

A moment earlier, Mara had been confessing that her life felt too messy for Jesus to enter it. She had a colourful past and her marriage was so rocky that she was feeling real hatred toward her husband. She didn’t know where to start cleaning up her heart to make room for Jesus. Katherine challenged her to consider whether that was her job. Was she trying to make her heart look like a luxury resort before she let Jesus in? That’s when she reminded Mara that Jesus, who could have been born in a palace, chose instead a simple stable.

I am so much like Mara at times. I look at my life and think, “Okay, let me get rid of this pile of junk and then do some dusting there and, oh, that cabinet is a mess and… and… and…” Meanwhile, Jesus is waiting for me to ask Him in so that we can spend time together, so that He can help me with the clean-up. But I’m too proud, or I’m too ashamed, and then I feel stuck.

Have you ever felt this way? Like your mess is too messy, your pain too painful, your darkness too dark? How could God want to be part of any of that? Why would He waste His time there when He could be somewhere brighter and cleaner?

The Bible tells us that Jesus “came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) When someone is so lost that a search-and-rescue party is organized or the Coast Guard is called in, they’re generally not in a wide-open well-lit space. They may be in the middle of a dense forest, somewhere on a mountain, or lost at sea. If Jesus came to seek and save the lost, He anticipated entering dark and messy places. He was willing to do that. He is still willing to do that. Why?

He loves us. He loves us with a love we cannot image because we are simply incapable of loving that way. It makes no sense to us. But it’s true:

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)


“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

I wrote the reflection above for my church newsletter a few weeks ago but I feel like I need to say a bit more. Here are some additional, more personal thoughts…

For a major chunk of this past year, my heart was a very messy place. As I tried to make sense of things I’d struggled with for years, I dug deep into my past (or things I read and heard turned over some of the dirt), unearthing things that I then I had to decide what to do with. Like someone decluttering a house, I ended up with KEEP, TOSS, GIVE AWAY, and DECIDE LATER piles. So, yeah, it was messy. It made me nervous because I thought there was no space left for God. I found myself trying to talk to Him through the closed door of my heart while I shuffled the piles around (making the junk look different instead of actually getting rid of it), but it was hard to hear how He was answering.

Somehow, God still reached me through the chaos. (I think it was when I could no longer breathe in there and I had to nudge the door open a bit.) He showed me that I didn’t need to deal with my mess to gain His approval, to ensure that He was pleased with me, to earn His love. I already had all that. What I needed to do was trust Him enough to let Him in, to let Him see the mess, to let Him clean it out. I needed to admit that I couldn’t manage my failures, my sin, my brokenness and that I needed Him to do that. I needed to become vulnerable. I needed to risk intimacy with Him.

And you know what? That’s what I did.

And you know what? He stepped in, not with contempt or condemnation, but with love and compassion. He didn’t reject me. He didn’t berate me. He didn’t belittle me. He began sweeping and tidying and helping me toss things that don’t belong in my heart to make room for the things He wants to give me.

January 1 will mark 40 years since I asked Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Saviour (I just figured out that milestone — wow!) but it’s taken me this long to really begin to grasp how much He loves me and how much I can trust Him.

And you know what? That’s okay. Some plants shoot up out of the ground and grow quickly. Others take their time and mature more slowly. I can’t afford to get tangled up with regrets about what I did or didn’t do in the past, what I could have done better. Today, I’m forgiven. If God does not condemn me for my past, why should I?

If your life feels messy and chaotic or dark and cloudy or whatever kind of challenge you’re going through, don’t let the enemy convince you that you’re somehow beyond the reach of God’s grace. Jesus would love nothing more than to step into your mess and sweep it with His love, the most powerful cleansing force you’ll ever know.

Can I pray for you? If you’re struggling and need some encouragement, please write to me. And please remember that God loves you more than you can imagine.


Saturday Round-up

I’m competing with the royal wedding this morning. Ah well. Hopefully some of you will drop by when the festivities are over. 🙂 (No, I’m not watching. I have a television but I don’t have TV, if you know what I mean. I just watch Netflix and DVDs. My current obsession is Lie to Me.)

Speaking of Royal Marriages…

Last week I learned that one of my favourite hymns, Unto the Hills, was penned by the fourth Governor General of Canada, John Douglas Campbell (1878 – 1883), and that he was married to Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise. Useless information but still pretty cool, especially as I’m Canadian. The hymn is based on Psalm 121, by the way:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

And that reminds me of this more modern take on the Psalm:

Are You Rejecting the Promised Land?

This year, I’m reading the through the Bible using the M’Cheyne Bible Calendar (it goes through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice). So, I’ve been in Numbers, a book that isn’t necessarily one you’d turn to for inspiration or spiritual enlightenment. That’s what made it all the more surprising when I tripped over this nugget several days ago:

“As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected.” (Numbers 14:31)

What’s the big deal about this verse? Let me highlight the words the land you have rejected. The Israelites didn’t make it into the Promised Land for one simple reason: They rejected it. God didn’t take it away from them. For forty years, He patiently led them toward it and all they did was grumble and moan and complain and whine and murmur and reminisce about (of all things!) the garlic and onions back in Egypt. For forty years, they made it abundantly clear that they didn’t want the blessings God had in store for them. For forty years, they rejected His goodness.

It hit me right in the face: How many of God’s blessings, whether good health or success in my work or healthy relationships, have I missed out on because I was too busy navel-gazing at my pity parties? How many doors that God has opened have I not walked through because I didn’t want to leave something else behind?

I could write a whole Bible study on this theme, and maybe I will one day, but I just wanted to share those thoughts for now. I’d love to hear your own comments!

Read a Good Book Recently?


Why not take a few minutes to write a review on Amazon or another bookstore’s website that sells the book? I can tell you from personal experience that even a one-sentence positive review can be a huge boost to an author.

If you (or your kids) have read any of my books, would you please consider writing a review? If you have friends who have bought my book, could you encourage them to do the same? Thank you so much! You can find my books on Amazon here.

One for the Road

May this encourage you today: “God’s power, glory, and majesty make me feel like I don’t deserve to be in the same room with him. His love, mercy, and compassion let me know I don’t belong anywhere else.” — Eric Collier

See you on Tuesday!