What are you passionate about? What gets YOU out of bed in the morning, excited to start the day? Is it spending time with your children? Are you passionate about your job? A sports team? Is it your morning cup of coffee?
If you are like me then you have seen a bazillion blogs and posts about "Finding your Passion." They are all over the internet and in bookstores promising, through a few "simple steps", to help you find that thing that will get you up in the morning excited and enthusiastic about your life.
"Just revisit your childhood and think about what you loved to do back then", they will say. Well, what if you liked making mud pies? Is that what you are supposed to spend your time doing? And what if you are the type of person that is just not very passionate about anything? Is something wrong with you?
Now, I am going to say something right now that may seem a bit presumptious. But it is something I KNOW is true for not only YOU but for ME and for anyone and everyone in the whole world.
I KNOW what you are passionate about. Yep, you! I KNOW what makes your heart burn with desire and I KNOW what makes you happy.
What is it?
Well, I cannot tell you just yet. But I will. in a moment. I promise.
Over the years, I have been passionate about many things. As you may have guessed, I started out with a passion for art. It began at the age of three. All I wanted to do was color with my crayons. But, soon this passion changed and when I was 12 years old, I was, instead, infatuated with singing. I would come home every day after school and sing into a hairbrush pretending I was Whitney Houston. I constantly dreamed of preforming on Star Search one day and was a fanatic about Mariah Carey and Sarah Brightman. Then at 15 years old, my passion changed again and I became intensely fervent about a boy named Derek Eastman. Thinking of him completely consumed my thoughts. I felt special and important when he finally asked me to be his girlfriend. But then when we broke up I was lost. Therefore, I lost my passion again and then became obsessed with running. Later on, in my twenties, my passion changed again and I became fixated on being thin to the point of developing multiple addictions to bulimia, alcohol and drugs.
Are you seeing the pattern? Basically my point in sharing all of that is that my passions changed. Now you may say this is normal. Maybe you even relate. Maybe you don't. Passions change with age. It is just the way of life. Right?
Well, no matter what your experience is I want to exhort you to think about something.
What if, TODAY, you found your PASSION? What if you found that ONE thing that is so amazing and so extremely life giving that it literally makes you excited to get out of bed each day NO MATTER what. And what if this PASSION never changed. NO matter if it is a grey and rainy day, NO matter if your boyfriend or wife has left you or if your Mom has passed away. No matter if there is no money in the bank. No matter if you are in pain or lonely.
What if it were possible to be passionate, happy and full of joy from this day on for the rest of your life no matter what?
Do you think that is possible?
And, I KNOW it to be true because I have found it!!!!! And oh my goodness, it was a LONG road to get here but that is perfectly OK because I am here now and I NEVER have to go anywhere else. I never have to change my passion. I never have to worry or fear or dread pain or loss. I can be full of passion always.
And the great news is that my passion is the SAME EXACT PASSION that burns in your heart too.
What do I mean?
Like I said, over the course of my life, I have been passionate about a number of things. Boys, being thin, art, face and body painting, alcohol, drugs, FA ...but it was not until I became passionate about Jesus, truly passionate about Jesus, that I found my REAL TRUE PASSION.
Now, at this point perhaps you are rolling your eyes. Hey I get it. I am just one more of those crazy Christians that talks about, blogs about and sings about, Jesus, the way the truth and the life.
Please, though, please know that I am only writing this because I KNOW what I say is true. It is more amazing than you could ever imagine.
Heck, there are many more things I could be doing with my time right now than writing this blog post. Writing this has taken a significant amount of my time this morning when I could be doing something like drawing or singing or running (things I still love.)
But nope, even though I am passionate about art and music and running, I am way more crazy passionate about Jesus and have been so radically changed by the REAL love that is available in following and loving Him that I cannot help but to spend my time passionately writing this blog so, perhaps, one person, maybe you, can, too, be changed in the radical way I have.
Why would I want to do this? Because there are no words to describe when you find WHY you were created and WHY you are alive. This passion in Jesus, this overwhelming love, LEADS you to more PASSION.....YOUR UNIQUE PASSION!
So am I saying that you now have to figure out how to become more passionate about Jesus. No and yes.
Striving to be passionate about Jesus is not the point. The point is He first loved us! Feeling like we HAVE to be passionate for Jesus would be passionless. Jesus wants you to truly and honestly be passionate about Him. He is no fool. He does not like fake people or fake adoration. In fact, He hates it.
So, how do you get this passion?
The same why I have.
Ask for it. Honestly and humbly ask for it. Let him love you. Spend time with him. Talk to him. Let him teach you his ways. Read his word.
It truly is everything.
I used to wander to and fro. I used to be a flimsy reed in the wind. But now I am a sturdy oak tree firmly planted in the all consuming love of the Saviour that burns twenty four hours a day for our whole hearts.
It is a love that cannot be comprehended and when you have been changed by it nothing will ever be the same.
This is good news my friend.
Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the scriptures: "Passion for God's house will consume me." John 2:17
I pray you are filled with a holy passion today and that your life is never the same agian. And guess what? When you are ravished by his love and He has your whole heart you then find out WHY you were made and WHAT YOUR unique purpose is. AND I guarnatee you will leap out of bed each day roaring with passion to do that thing that he has made you for!
I KNOW IT BECAUSE I AM LIVING IT and if I can FIND THIS than ANYONE can!
Be encouraged and blessed my friend.
Several years ago I created a video on my YouTube channel. It's called "Cool Cool Whip Art, The Emotional Porcupine".
To expand my creativity, I started this fun drawing project I called "Cool Cool Whip Art."
For this project, I took two empty Cool Whip containers and filled them with words. I filled one container with nouns and one container with adjectives. I then closed my eyes and pulled out one word from each container. Then with the words I had chosen I then challenged myself to come up with a drawing right then and there.
So, one day, all alone in my bedroom in front of a video camera, I picked the words emotional and porcupine. "Wow!" I thought. "How in the world am I going to draw an emotional porcupine? In front of a camera no less?"
I sat and thought about it for a while. "Hmmmmm, what would make me emotional if I were a porcupine?"
It took a few minutes to come up with something I felt would really convey the feeling of emotion in a prickly animal but when I had it I put pencil to paper and started sketching.
The Emotional Porcupine was born.
Now, before you go any further I highly suggest you watch the story of The Emotional Porcupine here to get the most out of the rest of this blog post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPhDRupmkcw&t=7s
So what do you think about what you just saw? Well, let me just tell you that I had no idea how powerful this particular little video and drawing would be when I was drawing it. In fact, I actually thought it was a stupid project and the fact that hardly anyone liked my Emotional Porcupine You Tube video made me think I was right.
But despite the harsh and mean inner critic, I have kept my video up on You Tube all these years for the world to see because there was just something about this story that I liked.
Now fast forward to just a week ago.
I was with some friends at an all weekend long LIFE CHANGE EVENT at my church, The Father's House. It was an amazing event and weekend and, well, life changing.
Afterwards we sat and ate some lunch together. We were sharing about the new levels and depths of freedom and peace we had just received.
After lunch, I pulled out my phone and showed one of my friends my Emotional Porcupine video. I am not quite sure what compelled me to show her this video just then but looking back, I now know the Holy Spirit wanted to show me and her something that day.
She had never seen any of my videos before. In fact, she had no idea I had created my own web site and made videos and did all the countless amount of things that I do. (It's a wonder I sleep.)
I did not have a clue how much this video was going to touch her. You see, she has a child with some very difficult challenges. Her child is special, requires a lot of work and energy and it has been especially hard for my friend since she is a single Mom. Interestingly enough and unbeknownst to me, this child loves balloons. Apparently, she loves to hold them and let them go. It gives her great joy and peace.
After my friend was done watching the story of the Emotional Porcupine she asked me if she could please buy the images as prints to frame and put up in her home. I was like, "What?!!! You want to BUY these prints? Like you really want them?"
"Yes!, I do!" She replied.
I could not believe she actually wanted a copy of my little green porcupine! For years these drawings sat in a bin. A bin FILLED with artwork I have created but the world has never seen. But the images spoke something to my friend's heart. Something about her daughter. What was this something? It was HOPE!
Then to top it off, that next morning another friend texted me something that really rocked my world. I had sent her a picture of a different piece of artwork I had done that morning. Not really expecting a reply, she sent me a text back saying something that really confused me. The text read as follows: "Mandy God shows you how much He loves you through your art. Not everybody has that." I was like WHAT?! What does she mean? No, my art is FOR people. It's not FOR ME. IN fact, most of the time I look at my art and critique it never thinking it is any good. What is going on here?! I actually felt a little angry by her response. Just being honest.
And then God spoke to my heart....
"Mandy, I do speak my love to you though the art you create. That is part of what it is for.
Mandy, my sweet, you are that porcupine! My dear daughter, you have been making lemonade out of lemons for a long time. You were making lemons out of lemonade when you made that porcupine video in your room. You were in so much pain but you didn't let that stop you. You had a headfull of insecurity and doubt but you put it out there anyway. You did not have people to help you and the money to buy equipment yet you used what you had in front of you. You educated yourself. You were so resourceful. You pushed through. You were in pain but you brought me into it. You prayed to me and I was with you. I am always with you. Even though you were going through so much turmoil, you thanked me for it all. You praised and thanked me during your times of great pain and sorrow. Even when you doubted. Even when you felt like you were not doing enough. You were.
You rose above dear one and as a result you are going to help many others know they are that porcupine too. That they too can rise above any circumstance. You are going to show them that, in life, you will always have troubles, but to focus on me and together we can make lemonade out of lemons.
Mandy, I gave you this talent to create art. It is for you to glorify me. It is also for you to inspire people and bring them hope AND, dear child, it is absolutely for YOU too!.
I am so proud of you. You took the talents I gave you and you multiplied them. Now I get ready for more blessings. Beyond your wildest imagination."
I was in tears! I couldn't believe it. I wish I could articulate just how amazing this realization was. I wish I could tell you how much hope and confidence and love and peace and direction this moment breathed into me.
I have been so hard on myself thinking I have been getting nowhere with my art and my life, wondering what I was doing wrong and why I was not a successful artist but that day, I realized I was successful. Truly successful. I did not let my circumstances crush me. The fact that I keep getting up is enough.
With Him by my side, I have done what seemed impossible. I rose above my circumstances. I keep rising above my circumstances, everyday. I still have challenges. Everything was and can still feel so against me succeeding as an artist. EVERYTHING! But I keep sticking marshmallows on my quills and I keep moving forward.
AND here I am today.
And I am not stopping...no matter what.
So, no matter what you are facing. Don't give up. Don't give in. Look for a way out and above your circumstance. Sometimes this may mean that it's best to sit and wait and NOT take a drink or NOT self-medicate with some kind of substance. Sit with the pain. Let yourself feel it. Journal it out. Let yourself go through the discomfort. Reach out for help. Pray. Talk. Be real. Take your problems to God and speak truth over yourself. He is an ever present help in times of trouble. It is though these times that we grow the most when we face it head on.
AND it prepares us to be able to steward and carry the great plans God has for us.
Whatever you are going through I just want you to know that you have a choice. You have power. You are capable. Everything you need is within you. Everything you need to break free. You can do anything through Him that gives you strength. It takes time to see big changes but it's the small changes that matter each day.
So dear one, know that whatever you are facing today will pass. You will rise above it. You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Now, go buy some marshmallows and celebrate!
To purchase prints of The Emotional Porcupine click here: http://www.mandysartandsoul.com/store/p31/Emotional_Porcupine_%28Sadness_%26_Happiness%29_Print_Set_.html
Watch the making of The Emotional porcupine
On March 1, 2017 I started the #30daysofbiblelettering project with thousands of other artists across the globe. This 30 day plan is the 4th plan so far and was started by a world renowned hand lettering artist that goes by the name @stefankunz on Instagram.
The project is about hand lettering one bible verse every day for 30 consecutive days in any style you enjoy. Every artist hand letters the same bible verse each day following the 30 day plan that can be found on: http://30daysofbiblelettering.com/
I am having fun participating and it is so neat to see all the different versions people come up with.
I have never done anything like this and was hopeful that I would actually follow through until the end. Well. so far so good and since March 1 have created a work of art each day. I am now on day, and lucky, number 13. (Head to my Instagram page to see all 13 so far and if you are reading this after March 13, there are more to see.)
At first I started hand lettering each verse but then as each day progressed I started to find a style that fit more in line with what I really LOVE to do...which is to use a combination of drawing by hand, lots of color, creating coloring pages AND using Photoshop.
Basically I am finally using the Graphic Design degree I acquired 20 years ago. (I guess it's never too late.)
COming Up with the idea
Today's (Day 13) verse is Psalm 119:130 and I thought it would be fun to show you the process of HOW I came up with the final piece.
So, are you ready? Let's get started...
Sketching it out
The first thing I do each day is read the verse in the bible and then meditate on it for a while asking the Holy Spirit for inspiration on how to bring the verse to life.
When I am done praying I start sketching a number of different versions. I will commonly look on Instagram and google images for inspiration and when I feel I finally have something I like I will start sketching it up in greater detail.
For this particular verse I was initially thinking "lightbulb" but then felt more drawn to a candle to depict the light instead. I am glad I went in that direction.
Sketching out the artwork
After sketching out a couple versions of a candle in pencil and getting it to where I liked it I then traced over the sketch to ink it using Staedtler Markers.
For this step I took the penciled sketch and placed it on my glass drafting table. (sample picture from google images of my glass desk pictured below on the left.)
I then place a nice sturdy piece of watercolor paper on top of the penciled sketch and place a small desktop lamp in the back of the glass desktop to light up the lines so I can see them and ink the drawing better.
Basically, with the small lamp in the back of my glass desk top, I am making my own "light table". (sample picture from google images of a normal light table pictured below on the right.)
Scanning it in and adding font
Next, I scanned in the candle I had just drawn and brought that sketch into Photoshop. I used the "levels" tool to give it more contrast, making the whites whiter and the blacks blacker.
I then started to add the words of the bible verse one by one. The #30daysofbiblelettering project is supposed to be all about hand lettering, which I did for the first few days, but instead of hand lettering the words for today's verse, I chose to add them in Photoshop.
I am not a rebel. It is a personal preference. I like how crisp and clear the words look by adding them in this way.
Adding color using photoshop
Once I liked where everything was positioned I then started adding the color in. I used the gradient tool a lot for this piece. I wanted to achieve a warm feel to it, hence the yellow, reddish and maroon tones. I think I did a good job. I also wanted to make sure the word light and the candle looked as if it were glowing. I think I did pretty good here too.
Creating the coloring page
After the coloring part was done I then took the orginal black and white piece and made sure I saved it to make into a coloring page. I then saved the colored piece and brought both versions into a new file adding the stock photo of some colored pencils in at the bottom.
I do this for all my hand drawn coloring pages. I like the way this looks because I think it gives the viewers a feel for what the finished colored project could look like.
Uploading to Social Media
After everything was finished and done to my liking I then created another image to upload onto my social media sites. I made sure that when I posted it I added all the pertinent hashtags and links to catch the attention of anyone that may be looking for coloring pages.
I then called Weebly, the company that hosts my website to ask how I make a "free" downloadable coloring page file available to my fans.
I create and maintain every aspect of my website so I am always calling Weebly with questions. They know me by now. :-)
A nice lady directed me on how to do it and wah-la, you will find YOUR FREE coloring page file below. It is called "unfolding of words". Just click on it and save it to your computer. Then print it out and color away!
Free coloring page download
But wait! There's more. I want to see what you did. SO, when you are done coloring in your page please take a picture of it and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will upload them to my "Coloring Gallery". (It is a little bare right now.) :-)
...And then I did some groceries and went for a walk.
Motivated by the radical love of Jesus, I create beautiful works of art and passionately share my testimony to free people all across the earth to also fully and completely live the life they were uniquely created for.
I blog about things that I experiene and hope will motivate, guide and inspire you toward greater creativity, fulfillment, peace, and joy in your everyday life.