#defy, #pray, #believe

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hi Everyone,

A friend reached out with a special request this week:

Can I commission you to do one of your beautiful Zenspirations® Care-Moji designs for a dear friend who was just diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer after 10 years in remission!!!!  I’m heartbroken for her and her family. She loves your work and her tribe has adopted the following sign off in support: #defy #pray #believe. 

How do you cope with life-shattering situations? What do you do when life seems SO unfair that you have no words to describe how unfair it is?

We each go through times when we feel overwhelmed by the events taking place in our lives and the lives of those we love. Weeks when you get so much bad news that you can’t even catch your breath. How do you stay grounded when you feel overwhelmed by the suffering all around you? How do you support the people you love who are facing serious, life threatening– or life altering– challenges?

These aren’t rhetorical questions– this is a beginning of a conversation I’d like to have. I’d like to support my friend while she supports her friend… and I’d welcome your ideas. Please leave a comment on the blog sharing how you deal with– and/or how you help other people deal with– life’s turmoils. If something someone said or did made a difference for you during a difficult period in your life, please share that, too… maybe it will inspire someone in the Zenspirations community to do something similar. Sharing is a great way to connect, and we can all learn from one another. I’m especially interested in ideas which will bring hope and comfort to the bereaved, and to the friends and family of someone who is terminally ill. Thanks, in advance, for sharing.

One of the ways I cope with sorrow is putting pen to paper. I usually find comfort in pouring my heart out onto the pages of my morning prayer journal…

I believe in the power of prayer, and even when I don’t know what to pray for…

Another way I cope– and try to help– is by sharing my creative gifts. I was honored to letter these words (with the Apple Pencil using the Procreate App on my iPad Pro) for my friend to use to support her friend, and hope they will bring courage, strength and hope to everyone who sees them.

In addition to creating personalized messages, I really enjoy giving gifts which feature my art. Since this month marks the fourth anniversary of when I started the weekly Zenspirations® blog, I’m planning a four day sale where EVERYTHING in the Zenspirations Shop– will be on sale! I will let you know the details in next week’s blog, but wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of the new products which I’m adding to the webstore. There are eight Flip Notes designs:

I always keep a Flip Note in my purse, and another in the car so I can jot things down (or doodle!) wherever I am. Here’s a close up of one of the designs.

And I’m adding my 10 new Spellbinders On the Wings of Love Shapeabilities die sets to the webstore! For those of you who enjoy creating hand-made cards, I can’t wait to see all the creative ways you’ll use them. Here are three designs that my friend Dawn Winburn made.

To inspire you to try out the new dies, here are step-by-step instructions on how to make the center card.            

Supplies used in photo samples:

  • Joanne’s Spellbinders Shapeabilities Hearts and Butterflies Borders die set
  • Joanne’s Spellbinders Singing Bird stamp set “You are loved more than you could possibly imagine” stamp.
  • Sakura’s Koi® Watercolors Field Sketch Set with Brush
  • Zig Memory System dual action glue pen
  • Ranger Jet Black Archival Ink stamp pad
  • Ranger Crystal Stickles glitter glue
  • Dimensional adhesive tape or adhesive foam.
  • Acrylic stamping block
  • Yellow & black smooth card stock & white textured care stock
  • Watercolor paper

Step 1: Create a rainbow watercolor wash on good quality watercolor paper at least 3” x 7”. In the example, you see Sakura’s Koi® Watercolors Field Sketch Set. Also create a light blue, variegated watercolor wash at least 3” x 3” which will be used as the background for the stamped text. Set aside to dry completely.

Step 2: Use Joanne’s heart die from the Shapeabilities Hearts and Butterflies Borders die set to cut two heart columns; one out of black paper, and one out of the rainbow wash you painted. Make sure the wash is completely dry before you cut it.

Step 3: Cut yellow card stock to 10” x 7”. Fold down to 5” x 7”. Use a bone folder to press the crease down tight.

Step 4: Cut white textured card stock to 5.5” x 7.5”. With clean watercolor brush from Koi set, moisten all four edges.

Step 5: Pull straight down to slowly tear .5” off each of the four edges to create the torn edge in the sample photo. This will leave a white torn edged rectangle measuring approximately 4.5” x 6.5”.

Step 6: Glue the black heart column behind the rainbow heart column, about 1/16″ to the right, which will create a drop shadow effect. Attach the heart column to the center of the white textured card stock. Glue white card stock to yellow card, so card opens on the right.

Step 7: Select the Singing Bird stamp set.

Step 8: Using black archival ink, ink the “You are loved more than you could possibly imagine” stamp. Stamp it onto the light blue watercolor wash background from step 1.

Step 9: Create spiral swirls on white background using glitter glue.

Step 10: Cut out “You are loved…” stamped image using wavy cuts to create an interesting shape around the stamp. Attach dimensional tape or foam to back of stamped image. Attach to card in the upper left quarter of the card, to the left of the hearts.

Here’s a close up of the finished design:

There will be some other surprises in the webstore, too– just in time for the ‘Blog-versary’ Sale. I’ll be adding designs and products based on feedback from the people who volunteered to vote on them. If you sent me an e-mail with the word VOLUNTEER in the subject line, be on the look-out for an e-mail from me later this week. I look forward to your thoughts!

Stay Zenspired,


11 thoughts on “#defy, #pray, #believe”

  1. I always love reading your blog. I know what helps me with difficult times is to cook, feed people and try to make something useful for them.

  2. Good morning Joanne. This post is timely and a great avenue for talking of death and grieving and accepting that which we cannot change. I recently lost a sister-in-law and two friends in two days. The deaths made me re-evaluate life in general, they gave me the strength to get rid of things that caused me stress and anxiety… life is just too short. My husband and I have reached out to others who are hurting too and given them a shoulder to cry on, we have listened to stories and shared ours too. Being creative has been helpful. Reading the book you wrote about losing a loved one has been so helpful…thank you fior the words that are eloquent, meaningful and right on the money!

  3. Hello Joanne. I don’t always feel well enough to respond to your blog posts, but I do enjoy reading every one of them. Your posts always make me think about who I am, who I want to be and who can I reach out to in some small way to lift them up and bring them some joy in life. Although this post begins with a sad situation, it still speaks to me in the same way. My heart is heavy for this woman. When I’m struggling with difficult situations, I try to write about it in my journal even if I don’t have the words to express what I am feeling. Writing about it seems to lighten or remove the heaviness that I feel. I combine my writing with prayer because God is the only one who can bring true comfort, healing, direction and whatever else I need. Another thing I do is read the Bible – the Word of God. The Bible brings comfort and healing also in a way that nothing else can. In the last few years, I’ve been adding lettering or artwork if something comes to mind. Many times when I am in a difficult situation, I try to reach out to someone else. Not only does it bring comfort to the individual, but it brings comfort and perspective to me. The thing I find that most people appreciate is prayer. Not only praying for them but praying with them so that they hear what’s in my heart for them. Sometimes I sing a comforting hymn or chorus to a person. Lastly, but not least, I almost always send a card and sometimes more than one over a period of months. I like to remind them that I’m praying, i’m here for them, and God is with them and knows their situation. All of this really does help.

  4. Hi Joanne – I am so delighted to see these step by step instructions for how to make cards with beautiful supplies that you have created. As one who has never been “crafty”, I am now so inspired to try this. I think my two granddaughters would also love this. Thank you for these wonderful instructions. With regard to helping someone face a loss or other crisis, when I was faced with multiple losses, the thing that helped me the most was just people showing up to actually do what needed to be done. They did not wait to be asked or called, but just jumped right in to get things done. The occasion I am referring to was when my father died suddenly and I had to have a spinal fusion in my neck at Johns Hopkins all within three weeks. Additionally, I was newly separated with three small children and on the path to divorce. I was in neck brace for three months. A rotating group of friends came to my house every evening and helped feed the children and get them to bed, plus another rotating group of friends drove my children to all their sports events. Someone organized this and I just got a phone call that this is what they were going to do to help. I never in the world would have asked for all of that, but they saw what was needed and just did it. I have never forgotten the kindness of that special group of friends.

  5. Dearest Joanne,
    I was so touched when I read your blog on my phone morning. It is so touching, so deep, so inspiring, so thoughtful, so thought-provoking, and so much to take in and to process…And tonight, as I’m finally on my laptop, I’m seeing so much more to your post. I’m all the more excited to get your new die cut tool so that I can make these amazing heart designs for some cards. I also want to give my students the chance to use this tool and make some similar cards.
    I’m actually dealing with so many huge challenges in my life right now and I’m really grappling with how best to deal with the heaviness, the sadness, the stress and all of the unknowns. My mother’s Dementia, my sister’s longtime Mental Health issues and other severe problems stemming from both of those situations, my baby sister’s recent health issues, my sister-in-law recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and other dear friends dealing with cancer or other critical health issues, many friends with ailing parents or parents who have died recently, and the list goes on and on… For me, I try to pray often and ask for God’s peace, His comfort, His healing, His help for each person.. I’m also asking Jesus to help me not feel totally overwhelmed or down or discouraged by all of these heavy issues. He wants me to cast all of my anxieties and cares on Him, instead. I also try to reach out often and I send many greeting cards to express my love and prayers, with encouraging verses and messages, etc., to those who are suffering. It’s quite a journey for me in these season of life.
    By the way, your Flip Notes are so beautiful and wonderful, too. I can’t wait to see all the new things that you have available. I finally had the opportunity to order your Beloved Word Prayer Journal this morning!!! And, I finally realized that I may not have signed up for your blog after all. So, now I’m signed up. Thanks for your wonderful blogs and all of the beautiful, creative things you are doing, Joanne. I thank the Lord for you and I am continually celebrating the blessing of you!! Thank you for being a blessing to so many!!

  6. Hi Joanne,

    Your post is beautifully inspiring, as always! And what a good friend you are to feel so deeply about your friend’s pain. Your new products are all gorgeous!
    The only thing I have learned to do, when a friend is dealing with big life challenges, is not to wait for them to ask for help. I think, especially for women, it is very hard to ask. When a friend of mine was battling terminal cancer, I was able to listen to her give a lecture on coping with breast cancer and how friends and family can help. The one thing she suggested was not to wait for your loved one to ask for help. If you just tell them to let you know what you can do, you won’t hear from them. You have to literally show up and clean the kitchen or fix dinner etc. I found this was as helpful for me as it has been for my friends and loved ones, because it made me feel useful in some small way.

    Thank you for sharing from the heart Joanne! Sending love and hugs!

  7. P.S. I thought of an important part of how I deal with all the struggles, health issues and challenges in the lives of family and friends, and in my own life. It is so important to express gratitude to God for His blessings…even when things are tough. Along with daily prayer for many, many people, I also try to express gratitude whenever possible. I take a lot of photos of nature…the trees and flowers, the sunrises and sunsets, and the clouds and everything that represents the changing seasons wherever I am. I post these or else my own drawings and paintings, on Facebook and Instagram, often with Scripture, or encouraging messages. I especially do this to be an encouragemeng to others, but it’s encouraging to me as well.

  8. What a lovely post.Your new products and dies are wonderful . It was great to see them in person and I can’t wait to get the ones I ordered and start making cards with them. Cards are definitely one of the ways I try to send comfort. I also try to help grieving people stay grounded. Bringing food, taking a walk together in nature, giving a grounding essential oil, a foot rub or back rub helps them stay connected to this world. I am also planning to send out your book.

  9. Lovely designs on your writing pads. And useful. The outreach to people in need can have many styles. Far away, because of this new world, meals can be sent using the internet and the various food providers online. These have been a go to for me for new mothers, as they are so very busy, and a real meal already available in your own house (all contents included) can take away at least one day worth of worry for them. In person, delivering meals homemade is another go to for us. Seriously, even a gift card from a fast food place can be enjoyed as it takes a person away from thinking when they haven’t got a moment to spare. I agree that making and sending cards or simply sending cards with uplifting messages always finds a welcome home.
    Finding peace in the chaos is not always easy. Helping others to find peace is truly a gift. I never assume anyone else has volunteered to take on a role as a caregiver. I evaluate if I think this is something I could do, I pray about it, and if I feel I am being led to do so, I speak up. An example, this coming year, three of us are going to babysit a newborn for a very physically fragile mother who must return to work. We are all grandmothers and are taking on this as our outreach to this young family. We will be there for one another as well as the family. Helping doesn’t always have to be hard, as it can simply be something your own family is doing like eating. Make the pot bigger and share, or take a few hours out of your week and use if for the good of others in some personal way that feels right for you. But I always use prayer and choose peace when moving toward my “new assignments”. We are all so blessed, just look at this wonderful way we reach out to one another simply reading this wonderful blog and sharing ideas.

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