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Down in the Valley

MissWyolene-ValleyFear has pretty much always been just below the surface of my personality.

If I’m having a great day, it doesn’t take much to roll my stomach into the familiar knots of anxiety. Sometimes I feel the physical symptoms of that fear before I can even pinpoint its source.
I’ve mentioned it here before, maybe even joked about it out loud.

But it’s no joke.

I don’t mean to suggest that my anxiety is somehow more valid than anyone else’s. Or that I feel things more than the next person. Because, in the throes of my own anxious thoughts, it Is very easy to make myself the victim.

But the truth of the matter is, fear is a sin. Plain and simple.

It’s a lack of faith in my Father.

It’s my desire to control when I have none.

It distracts me from seeing God’s good provision all around me.

Recently, one of my biggest fears came to pass: the loss of a child. I miscarried very early in my third pregnancy. I quickly found myself in the exact place I feared the most: the valley of the shadow of death.

The atmosphere during our little one’s passing has threatened to suffocate at times. Loud voices tell me that I wasn’t really in THAT valley. I must just be in another, sorta sad, but very common valley and it wasn’t really life yet, anyway. But what we have walked through is a death in our family. Just because this happens to so many hopeful mamas doesn’t make the loss any lighter. Just because I never saw our sweet baby’s face doesn’t mean he didn’t matter. The deep ache in my soul tells me everything I need to know about the legitimacy of this little life.

Just when I think I’ve scaled the walls a little bit on my own, fear and grief slam me right back to the valley’s cold, dark floor. What in the hell am I supposed to do?

Nothing. I can’t do a thing unless Jesus shows up.

And He has.

Because of Him, I have not been alone. His rod and His staff have tangibly comforted me. He has been with me in ways that are nothing short of miraculous and precious. This has not been a season I can self-talk or B-complex vitamin my way out of. This is me saying I’m broken. I can’t fix myself. I have to face the fear that this could happen again. This world is a fallen one, after all.

But, Jesus.

He knew about this precious life before He flung the stars out into the black. And He chose to create me even though He knew I’d really screw up trusting Him as Abba Father. He paid the highest price for my lack of faith. For my prideful attempts to say “It’s cool, I got this, Jesus” only to realize that my broken body couldn’t keep this child safe.

There are certainly days and weeks when He seems far. And maybe it’s because I’m up to my old tricks: staying busy to numb the sadness in my heart and pretending like I’ve got all of it dangling on my own strings. Or maybe I’ve been listening to the critical voices too long. I can only pray that grace floods in and shows me where I am so very forgiven. His voice is always the sweet, confident one. Oh, how I want to know what it means to walk around in that grace. Kinda like when a breeze picks up the dead leaves and dances with them for a moment.

He tells me things like:

He is a he.
He is happy and whole.
He has a name.
You will meet him one day, but I get to hug you first.

If your heart is crushed in this way, ask Jesus to show up. He wants to carry you through the valley.

Though He brings grief, He will show compassion. -Lamentations 3:32

Making Things New | Free Desktop Calendar Wallpaper

Happy 2015!

Today I made you a desktop wallpaper calendar. So that you may be reminded that you are lovely and valued. That you have been created for a purpose. May you bloom this year, friend.

Download yours here! Or right click and save the image below. (Please feels free to share this link with others! Just remember it is for personal use only.)

MissWyolene-Jan2015-desktop-insert

Love,

misswyolene_smallstamp-yellow-alone

New in the Shop • Hand-Lettered Valentine Card

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I thought I’d share a little piece of my heart with you today.

At first glance, this is a Valentine card. But, it isn’t your typical hearts-and-cupids-and-nothing-but-bubble-gum-pink type of card. It’s bold and in your face- just like love ought to be.

I really dig how the design combines pattern, lettering, and florals: a trifecta of awesome, if you ask me. She’s printed on a fabulous pearl paper and comes with an equally fantastic gold envelope. That liner? To me, it just makes the entire thing.

Quite honestly, this might be one of the best examples of my overall vision for Miss Wyolene that I’ve produced to date. I want my work to pop. I want it to be unexpected. I want whoever the end recipient is to feel loved and treasured.

So, there’s more where this card came from. A lot more.

If you’d like to get your hands on this pretty, hop over to my shop. I’d love to wrap one up for you to send to your love.

Love,

misswyolene_smallstamp-yellow-alone

Thoughts on 2014 | Free January Wallpaper Calendar

Greetings, friends!

I don’t know about you all, but I’m sitting here thinking “what just happened?” Was it not Thanksgiving, like, two minutes ago? Christmas was a whirlwind and now it’s already 2014. I kinda feel like I got gypped a little bit. There wasn’t as much time to savor the holidays. I let Christmas get to me. Not the advent Christmas that my soul craves, but the busy, hectic, I-forgot-I-needed-to-bake-that Christmas that I vow to avoid each year.

Coming away from the chaos, I’m really wanting to approach this year differently. We spent some time with the real Miss Wyolene over the holidays and I was reminded of an interaction she and I had when I was in the fourth grade. She and my grandaddy had come up from Georgia for a few days to hang with the broseph and me while my parents were out of town. According to my grandmother, my mom left her no major instructions, except, could she possibly organize Morgan’s bedroom? (Shudders all around.)

Now, understand that I have ALWAYS been a creative person (meaning, I’ve lived amongst piles of glitter and magazine scraps my entire life.) Also understand that at her core, Miss Wyolene is THE most organized person I have EVER met. So imagine my dismay when I came home from school to find my “creations” and belongings categorized into piles that stretched from my bedroom, down the hallway, all the way to the den. We’re talking, Bedazzler, colored pencils, baskeball card collection, and aforementioned glitter. I’m sure my horror bordered on disrespect towards Miss Wyolene. She calmly sat me down and explained why this exercise in organization was important.

(Please read the following in your best “Scarlett O’Hara southern accent.)

“Morgan, I have a saying that I want you to learn. ‘A place for everything and everything in it’s place.’ Do you know what that means?”

“No,” I undoubtedly hmmphed.

“It means that everything you have needs to live in a certain place. That way, you always know where everything is. When your grandaddy comes to me and says ‘where is such and such?’ I say ‘I know right where that is because it is in it’s place.’”

I’m not going to lie, it was probably brutal for my grandmother, who swears up and down she didn’t throw anything away. Even my Michael Jordan and Larry Bird posters. (Have I mentioned that I was an odd girl…hair bows and basketball cards?) The thing is, Miss Wyolene was right and is still right. Her home is the epitome of organization. I fear I might have broken her heart for all of her efforts because I still struggle to keep an orderly home. And an orderly workspace? FORGET it.

But in reflecting on this vintage conversation, I am realizing all of the wisdom nuggets I can glean from it. I have pulled a few loose “challenges” (not resolutions. I hate those.) from them that I’d like to share- if only to keep myself accountable. I want to:

1. Have an intentional amount of stuff.
As a creative, it is SO HARD to purge things. But freeing up space and ditching clutter can really make room for my eyeballs to see new things. White space is a designer’s best friend. I know I always end up filling it in, but it’s always there when I begin on a sketch page or on a new InDesign document. Why not make the spaces where I work and live look more like this? There’s probably a zen lesson in there somewhere: about giving yourself room to breathe for the purpose of creating. And if I can’t find a place for a thing, maybe it’s time to evaluate whether or not I need that thing.

2. Apply this rule to my boundaries, too.
Boundaries are HARD, y’all. Now that I’m a mama to one with one on the way this year, it’s more important than ever to find and defend my borders. As I move into this year, I’ve been outlining my goals and plans for Miss Wyolene. (Complete with Excel doc, guys. I’m not even playing.) I’ve tried to keep my work/creative life manageable. I can’t blog multiple times a week. To be honest, I don’t really want to. I have a plan to blog once a week. And hopefully those posts will be more deliberate. I’m also mapping out a studio schedule and setting aside very specific hours to work. And that frees me up to be a mama, wife, and homemaker the rest of the time. I can’t tell y’all how excited I am to see how this plan unfolds. This past year was far too muddy with overlapping time. And the guilt that ensued from my attention being devised was brutal. Kid time is kid time. The computer will be off. The phone will be at it’s charging station. Likewise, work time has its place, too. When the kiddos are in bed or napping or at Mother’s Day Out, then I can completely focus on taking the spreadsheet out of excel and building tangible, beautiful things from my plan.

3. Have less Netflix, more reading.
This kinda goes along with my previous points. I really want to purge what isn’t helpful, to make room for what grows and challenges me. I’m about halfway finished reading “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. It’s an easy read and it’s all about writing. (Sheesh, I hope she never reads this blog. I’m kind of a brain dump writer.) However, there are SO MANY great nuggets to glean as a creative person. I keep thinking to myself  ’This is so much more helpful than catching up on “Scandal.’ I gotta pump myself full of this kind of thing. What inspires me to make beautiful things? I need to go to there.

So, many things ahead for Miss Wyolene in 2013. I will be packing up my office to make room for baby and moving into a coat closet. Literally. I will be learning how to juggle these items with two kiddos. I’m hoping and praying that the above points will serve as a framework as I seek balance. I know I will fail. I know it will be hard. And I know I can’t do it alone. As Lamott says in her book “Make plans and watch God laugh.” (Or something like that.) But I gotta try.

And to celebrate this intention, I’m sharing a desktop wallpaper calendar with you all. It’s going to be mind all month. Hopefully it will encourage you to find beauty and to make your time count towards whatever it is that moves you. For me, I want to savor time with my little people (and also my Big person), enrich their lives and the lives of others around me, all while finding space to create beauty. So, cheers to you, 2014!

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(©2014 Miss Wyolene. For personal use only.)

Love,
misswyolene_smallstamp-yellow-alone

PS- I have a few more printed desktop calendars left in my Etsy shop! Snag yours here!