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‘Theology’ is a word that, for most of my life, has been better described as adopted or borrowed rather than owned. 

I grew up in a Christian family, went to church regularly, and attended a Christian school for 13 years.  All my friends were ‘saved.’  I was saved like 17 times myself, so I knew a lot about being born again.  Again. 

I thought a lot about God because he felt heavy on my shoulders.  Looking back, I think I asked him into my heart so many times because nothing ever seemed to change within that space; and I couldn’t figure out why Jesus sucked at saving me.  I believed he shooed me into the “Book of Life” (whatever that is) because he stuck his foot in his mouth and decided to get overly cute—welcoming everyone to Life—forgetting that I would show up in the 80’s and need to get in on that, too. 

Much of what I believed about God and Jesus was shaped from adopted theology, just taking in what others said...never mining the truths for myself.  I had questions.  But I found easy answers in Sunday school and Bible lessons.  The answers were abundant and took so little effort (“Because He is God, and He can do whatever He wants.”).  Even in the parts of my soul where they fell quite short, my answers were able to keep my heart afloat enough to always keep God in my cross hairs.  I had to keep him there because I didn’t trust him let loose in my life.  He felt too much like a bull in a china shop, and I liked all my breakables safe, especially my heart. 

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Something shifted like an earthquake along the way.  So much of what I believed fell to the ground, shattering in a thousand fragments.  I think things still fall down, even now; but I am not so afraid of the broken places.  As I walk through all the crashed down beliefs and answers to the questions I never really wanted answers to, I have found that this God I feared for so long is actually a Reclaimer of all the broken things.  Part of me likes ‘hippie-Jesus’ imagery, because He really does upcycle all things into beauty again. 

Broken theology seems like a bad thing to admit; like, maybe I should have my crap a little more together after being born again 17 times.  I think if I were a disciple, I’d have been Thomas, the doubter.  Because I hardly get through a day without doubting so deeply, I can feel myself demanding Jesus’ palms face up, running my unworthy fingers over my redemption over and over.  Just to be sure it all exists; that I exist.  These are the broken places I inhabit more than not, where I am echoing my favorite tattooed, female pastor:

There are times when I hear my name, turn, and recognize Jesus. There are times when faith feels like a friendship with God. But there are many other times when it feels more adversarial or even vacant. Yet none of that matters in the end. How we feel about Jesus or how close we feel to God is meaningless next to how God acts upon us. How God indeed enters into our messy lives and loves us through them, whether we want God’s help or not. And how, even after we’ve experienced some sort of resurrection, it’s never perfect or impressive like an Easter bonnet, because, like Jesus, resurrected bodies are always in rough shape.

Rough shape seems to be the only place I’ve authentically encountered grace.  Little by little, in the shifting theology, the reading into early morning hours, the questions, the fear of slippery slopes until I finally just closed my eyes and allowed the slide into muddy places, the encounters with dark and holy things, the Sundays I don’t know if I believe the words I sing, and the Sundays I cannot imagine anything else as true but those very same lyrics… in it all I find the edges and textures to my faith.  It is rough, honestly.  God feels like sandpaper some days, rubbing everything hard-to-understand against my finite space-time existence.  But these are the troubling spots, the uncertainties, and the doubts where I’ve been given an invitation sealed with grace to adventure into mystery.  To know what it means to love a God who no longer feels heavy on my shoulders, but who sets me free.  To find space to listen and love others, having learned that theology might be more about grace and less about black and white answers.  To believe in the process and struggle; because I think there is something God loves about the mingling of dust and holiness~ like maybe something about being his image bearer means that I should not ever want to shake my humanity away while I become the very thing he made me to be. 

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 One of the ‘favorite people I’ve met in my life’ persons is Sarah Bessey.  I went to Haiti with her two Springs back, and I remember how she genuinely seemed interested in my story.  She looked at me like I mattered and something about her resembled Jesus.  She says smart things all the time, and she writes books that everyone should read.  Recently, she posted a quote that made me want to fly all the way to Canada and hug her (and God knows I hate flying…):

“Theology belongs just as much to the rest of us—
the mother folding laundry,
the father coaching basketball,
the university student studying to be a nurse,
the construction worker,
the artist,
the refugee—
as it does to the great scholars.” 

Theology belongs to the individual.  It is our opportunity to know the God who we proclaim, and to not know him, too.  To see him more clearly while never finding his lines or edges, allowing him to exist outside our back pockets and tiny God-shaped boxes.  I believe in this truth like I believe I need my next breath.  I want even my children to search and struggle, feel allowed to ask everything hard and scary.  And I don’t want to answer it all.  I want them to hear tattooed Lutheran lady-pastors preach about crappy doctrine and a redeemed church, to believe every truth in Genesis while never feeling tethered to a historical or scientific interpretation of it, to see the bible through the lens of mission—and know that the Author of stardust and universe pursues them their whole lifelong existence, to wrestle with the gracious inclusion of all misfits and sinners- because we are each those exact things.  I do not want to define God for them; I just want to invite them to his table.  Theology belongs to the children, too.  To all the innocent hearts, all the magic and imagination, all the creativity we lose along the way in our growing up.  I want mine at his dinner table, even a little rowdy with laughter, questions, and story.  Because if they learn to be comfortable in the process, they will know freedom and joy.  And grace. 

They will know his presence and find he is never heavy on the shoulders. 

Theology is my favorite place to be.
It feels like home; and like journey.
Like a table full of delicious things and hunger, too. 
And I’m thankful to be exploring beside my two littles, Phil, and all my friends who believe in the same invitation to love and know the One who completes their souls.


Lots to Give Away...!!

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Who says your Halloween decorations have to be orange and black?

I was inspired by the new Kit and Clowder Mixed Media Class to make a really pretty project using an image I had colored a long time ago, but never found just the right use for.  Alyce encourages her students to use what they have on hand, so I was able to make a lovely piece of art for Halloween using all the leftover crafty bits in my drawers and baskets.  I did not have the right sized canvas for my colored image, so instead I substituted a piece of thick, textured paper from a mixed media notebook I had not broken into yet.  I put it in a frame, sans the glass...and put it right on my kitchen wall.

I really love how it turned out.  
It's just the right touch of sweetness to my fall decor. 

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Alyce's new class is loaded with three totally different projects, all inspired by a new image in my shop called "Steampunk Style."  I specially designed this image for Alyce and her class.  If you like to color folds and hair, this digi is the perfect challenge!  The class includes both coloring instruction and full project how-to's.

Watching Alyce color the image and explain the steps to beautiful shadows, highlights, and blending makes me want to color all day.  I love that she believes everyone can achieve the coloring they dream of~ it is really just a matter of learning the techniques!  
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This weekend, Alyce is giving away a past technique class (value of $70) to one of my readers.  The winner can choose the class from the list above~ all of which will help in perfecting your coloring skills!  

The winner will also receive a child's size fairy t-shirt, courtesy of "A Very Fairy Door."  Kim and Carlie are closing in on the end of their Kickstarter campaign.  One of the levels of donation receives ALL 8 fairy digis (seen colored below).  It will only cost about $20 US dollars--- which is a HUGE DEAL!!  I'm really hoping we can help these ladies out.  They have a huge passion for this book and it's story.  Plus, their kickstarter offers many ways to donate with lots of fun gifts and reward levels!  Click here if you'd like to donate.  Also, sharing the project is always, always appreciated!! 

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---> I am throwing in a $20 voucher to my shop for the winner as well. <----

The giveaway ends on September 27th @12am EST.

Enter through Rafflecopter below. 
There are a few ways to maximize your entries, so be sure to enter as much as possible!

Thanks for stopping by!
Happy weekend!! 

**Giveaway closed, winner has been notified via email.**
a Rafflecopter giveaway


School Days. (and a giveaway!)

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Mid-week, first week.
Third year of homeschooling. 
We already lit all the fall scented candles. 
And visited Starbucks twice to do math. 

There is something oddly comforting about the schedules and schoolwork that wait for us after all the long, lazy summer days.  It's a new beginning--familiar, exciting, and sweetened just an extra bit by pumpkin lattes and soft cardigans.  Plus, I can start wearing my Doc Martens again and ditch the flipflops.  Which might be the best part of it all.
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I want this school year to be marked by good mornings, slow-paced days, time spent together, growing friendships, creativity in the mundane, and noticed beauty. 

Hope your fall is filled with all the things that make this time of year special...
That wonderful messy, mix of calendar dates;
homework; hot mugs of coffee; 
stews and soups; pumpkins on the step; 
and cozy, early evenings at home. 

**I am giving away TWO Fairy Friends t-shirts on my Facebook page this Friday.  If you have not checked out the new book I illustrated, please click over to this Kickstarter campaign. There are --->exclusive fairy digis available<--- and lots of other rewards for donating!!  Even sharing the project is much appreciated... Join our Facebook giveaway for a chance to win a tee for your kiddo...


Planner DIY.

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This is the part of our year that feels like a fresh start.  
We begin school on Monday, so I've been filling my planner with 'to-do's' galore.
Usually, I buy a new planner.  But I am trying to use old things better...
So, I bought cheap insert pages this year. 
And a couple packs of stickers...
Making do with what I have is being creative in and of itself.

I like to separate my planner sections with folders/dividers. 
All the cute packs of them seem like a waste of money, so I just make my own. 
You can too.
All you need is cardstock (preferably printed, something cute:).
Clear packing tape. 
Hole punch.
And then to make it way better than any store-bought divider-- use some of your scrapbooking stickers/alphas/washi tape and decorate it. 

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 ~fold a piece of cardstock to a slightly bigger width than your planner pages
(Erasmus was really interested in this project)
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~fold a smaller piece to use as your tab 
attach it with the packing tape...kinda like laminating it
(I cover all the corners of the divider too so they don't get worn quickly)

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~cut out a square and sew it to one side of your page
now you have a little pocket

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~use clear photo pockets that have a sticky strip to hold stickers/receipts

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~this photo has nothing to do with my planner
it is just cute;)

 Happy school year planning, peeps. 
Remember-- cute planners accomplish more;). 

**Winners of the custom monster drawing-- Pocono Pam and Danielle Bartnik.
Please email me at krista7smith@yahoo.com to receive your custom piece. 


Custom Monster Art

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Do you wonder what you would look like zombified?  
Or maybe your child?
(Although, I'm pretty sure every mama has seen her kid already in monster mode;)...
We've already walked through the Halloween store.  
I was against it.  Because it was literally the first day of September. 
But my brother was with the kids and I...
And the vote was 3-1.  
Kids and uncle win.

Anyhow, it put me in the mood to draw some monsters.  
If you want a vampire teeth or zombie drool version of yourself, here are the details and how to enter.

1.  The drawing will be a 5x7 prismacolor pencil original, signed.
2.  It will *not come framed.  You can do that yourself.  But I'll ship it to you:). 
3.  You can help me concept the character~ head shot only.  It can have up to 2 "props."
4.  One character per winner.  
5.  I reserve the right to use/sell the character sketch as a digital stamp.  
6.  If you win, you agree to all of the above. 

I will choose two winners Wednesday, September 9th.  
Drawings will be completed and mailed within a week of the winners being announced. 
Here is how to enter:

1.  Follow this blog. 
2.  One share.  On any social media site... Facebook, IG, blog, etc.  
3.  Comment that you have followed and shared and then tell me what monster you'd ask for...

Closes Tuesday night, September 8, 9pm EST. 
Good luck!!

***This giveaway is now closed.  Winners have been announced.


Broken Hallelujahs

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There is this song I love, 
You probably know all the words, too.
It played from my speakers recently as I drove, and I hit repeat on my phone each time it ended.   
The song always feels troubled and beautiful to me all at once.
And I've heard it dozens of times.
But it got all the way into my bones and heart that day.  
And then I knew why.
From the single line:

Love is not a victory march
It's a cold 
It's a broken

 I think I will look back on this year as my broken Hallelujah year.  

1. Praise ye the Lord!
2. a shout of joy, praise, or gratitude

I've spent so much of my time trying to put my thumb on God.  
Pin Him to what I think He must be.
Just hold Him steady for a minute to get a good, clear look~ 
But the more I've squirmed and shifted and adjusted, 
The more mystery He looks like.  
And there is less and less of what I imagine Him to be
And more and more of Him inviting me into a dance.
The kind in the movies where the camera spins and 
Everything is blurry and good and lovely.  
A movie-dance where the girl is holding desperately onto Someone, 
But her eyes are closed and 
Her head is back
And she is laughing. 
Nothing is very clear, 
But everything is right.

I don't like to dance. 
I'm actually terrible at it.
And completely awkward...
The kind of awkward where I really feel the need to shove my weird arms down into pockets.
Because pockets are an awkward girl's best friend. 
It just feels lately like I've been spinning and
My hallelujah feels broken. 
Because I'd prefer to see my Dance Partner for everything He is.
Know His next move.
See the big picture, all the way zoomed out.
But that isn't the dance I've been invited into,
And that makes my 
A choice;
My praise song, 
A struggle;
My Hallelujah, 

But I keep uttering it anyway. 
Even if all I'm seeing are glimpses into 
What I search for.  
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One of the best paragraphs I've read in a very long time is from
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (by Donald Miller):

'The next day, when I was walking with my cousin Carol, she asked me where I thought my uncle was.  She knew he was in heaven, but she wanted me to tell her what I thought he might be doing, what heaven was like.  I told her I thought heaven was outside of time, and perhaps we were already there with her father.  She seemed to think that was nice, but I could tell she wasn't comforted.  And later that night I pictured Uncle Art, and I could see him in heaven, and he was sitting at a table and there was a celebration.   There was dancing and bottles of wine, and there was music.  I could see him at a wedding, and I realized that's what I should have told Carol, that her dad was at a wedding.'

I am a figure-it-out-person. 
I liked word problems in math class. 
Which is probably in some way tied to my awkward dancing and need for deep pockets, 
But whatever.
I like learning. 
And thinking. 
And most of all, getting the right answer. 
But for all the reading and thinking and all-out-nerding-it-up that I do, 
I learn the most about God
At the table.  
Surrounded by friends who somewhere along the way morphed into family. 
Food, beer, laughter, strings of lights, way-too-loud kids, inside jokes...
It all feels a bit of familiar heaven.
Like I am totally sitting at a table in heaven, outside of time and space,
Yelling back to my awkward-ass earth self, 
This. Is. It. 
It is all in the glimpses
And the fleeting, but perfect moments.
It really is a Wind in my soul.
And I see it, if just for a second.

This is what matters.
This is what I am created for.

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So even if I feel less than settled in 
My theology at times,
Even if I feel dizzy
And all my straight lines get blurred
And all the black and white turn into shades of a thousand colors, 
(Because I assumed somewhere along the way my Creator could be solved like a word problem), 
My Hallelujahs are still whispered,
Broken as they are.
Because His love is not something I win.
It will never be a victory I claim.
It is an invitation. 
To learn more.
To know, for certain, less.
To eat and laugh and love others 
Around a table
Or a borrowed firepit.
Under stars.
Sitting on blankets and beach chairs.
And somehow, 
Beside heaven.

I think my broken Hallelujahs 
Have led me closer to the wedding feast.


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