Interview with a Renaissance Mom - Ruth Simons

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Welcome back to our series: Interview with a Renaissance Mom. Today we're featuring one of the mom-artists who helped start it all. Back when the book, Life Creative Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom was just a dream, I reached out to artist Ruth Simons and asked for her thoughts on motherhood and creativity. This is what she wrote: "Never has there been a time like this for creative and artistic women to embrace the high calling of motherhood and the unique giftings God has given to each of us. There is indeed a movement-- a renaissance -- of the creative woman, the creative mom. I'm grateful that Wendy and Kelli have chosen to encourage this generation of women, right now, to embrace their God-given creativity to the glory of God, and to steward it well. This book is right on time."

And so it is with great joy that I introduce you to the art of Renaissance Mom, Ruth Simons.

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photo credit: Elizabeth Wells Photography

Please introduce yourself to us by sharing who you are, where you live, and a bit about your kids.

I'm Ruth Chou Simons. I'm married to Troy and we live in Albuquerque, NM with our six boys, ranging from age 3 to 14. I am the founder of GraceLaced, a blog I began almost 10 years ago that expanded into an online shoppe featuring my artwork. I share daily from Instagram and am looking forward to the release of my first published book this Fall.

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At Life Creative we believe that art morphs as a woman transitions from season to season. This is especially true of creative personalities. What did your creativity look like as a child, throughout school, or into your early adult years before motherhood? And what form does it take today?

I always loved art, drawing, painting, and pretty much every form of creative arts. But being raised in a Chinese home and community, studying art seemed not acceptable if I was an over-achieving straight A student. I began college at UC Berkeley while still in high school, and prepared for a major in Biochemistry. Despite being on track to succeed in culturally approved ways, I soon realized how much I truly loved art and writing, and I ended up graduating with a fine arts degree instead.

Ironically, I set aside my art degree for over a decade when we started a family. I served alongside my husband as he pastored and headmastered, but I never stopped creating...with food, with fabric, with crayons, and even with paint when naps were in session. I never could've imagined that God would ultimately use my talents and desires in this way (business, book-writing, speaking) many years later. I am grateful for this path where He has showed himself faithful instead myself capable.

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In the busyness of motherhood it can be hard to find the place and the space to fit your passions within the practical places of family life. Where and when have you carved out the time to create in your busy days?

Even though it is now my job to create, I still have to find time to create for the joy of it, and not simply to fulfill deadlines. Sometimes that looks like a Saturday alone while the boys and their dad hike or do yardwork, but most of the time creating happens in the middle of all the family activities, and next to my kids. I've been known to paint in the living room while the rest of the family is watching a movie together.

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I believe that God purposed our creativity to be one of the vehicles through which we can respond to the Great Commission call on our lives. How has God given you opportunity to share His love with others through your creative gifts?

I planned to be a missionary. I planned on my graduate work at seminary taking me overseas for the rest of my life. But, the Lord chose instead to use my words and my art to first minister the gospel to my kids --my most important mission field-- and then online, through the platform that GraceLaced has become. I really had to decide what I was online for, and how I was willing to share, sell, and spread the word on my art and the words that accompany it. For me, it became a decision to adorn the gospel...share the truth of our hope in Christ...through social media, writing, and each print that ships out from GraceLaced Shoppe.

[Tweet "I had to decide what I was online for. For me, it became a decision to adorn the gospel..."]

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We spend our days caring for “our most beautiful creations” but there are other creations we long to pen, sing, paint, stitch and bake. It’s hard to embrace any other dream during this dream-come-true season of mothering. Share one of your dreams with our readers?

I dream of having a physical place/space that would bring together my business, art studio, heart for hospitality, and love for gathering women. I don't know if that looks like a conference, weekend workshop, or a boutique for the business, but I know that the Lord never wastes anything He gives us, so I look forward to seeing how He will use all that He's placed on my heart and in my hands.

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Would you share with us one of your “creative crushes” – another creative mom who inspires you and why.

I'd have to admit that Joanna Gaines inspires me. I'm of course inspired by her creative entrepreneur journey, but I'm mostly inspired by how she involves her children and is unwavering about who she is and what she stands for.

If you had one piece of advice to leave us with, concerning this awkward dance between faith, family and the flourishing arts, what would it be?

Think process before product, always. Get caught up in the living out of the art in your personal, unseen life first, and all that you hope to produce flows so much more easily from that. Nothing depresses my creativity more than trying to perform my way into a creative existence. God is the original artist and creator; when we live in Him, we reflect His artistry and creativity so much more naturally.

[Tweet "Think process before product. Get caught up in the living out of the art in your personal, unseen life first..."]

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Ladies, today is the launch of Ruth Simons' brand new Be Still Series, a small collection to encourage us to wait on the Lord and trust Him through seasons when He blesses...and when He takes away. This series reminds us to rest in His sovereignty as we pray and await Him to redeem all things and make all things new. We pray these new prints, canvases, journals, and notecard sets will bring assurance and peace as we remember that God is STILL on the throne. Use Coupon Code BESTILL for 15% off your GraceLaced order today!

Check out all of the be still prints (some were featured in this post) over at the GraceLaced Shoppe:

Shoppe: gracelaced.com/storeInstagram.com/gracelacedFacebook.com/gracelaced

Thank you, Ruth!

Watching you blend your palette is always fun. However, hearing how you blend the art of home and the art of motherhood amidst canvases and paint brushes is most inspiring of all.

Ladies, if you have enjoyed this interview, check out our conversation with Renaissance Mom Mellissa Fischer, who listed Ruth as her "Creative Crush." And don't forget to grab a copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom for yourself, or the creative mom in your life. (It would make a fabulous Valentine's gift alongside one of Ruth's beautiful prints!)

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There’s Gospel Power in Your Bible Journaling

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Instagram is fun! So fun. But, for the gospel-driven artist, it can be awkward. We paint in God’s Word, hand-letter His promises, color our way through our personal Bible study, and hope beyond hope that each time we upload a picture to social media, we’re pointing people to Him. But often, as we read through the comments, it’s our artwork that they’re praising.

That’s okay.

Grow your skills with the hope of growing God’s Kingdom!

 

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But still… it can be awkward.

Today a generation of creative, Jesus-loving women are using their artistic bent to bend others toward the gospel. Creative women of faith, many of them smack-dab in the midst of motherhood, are doing the awkward business of uploading faith inspiring pictures, with the ultimate hope of showcasing God’s Word for all to see.

One of my favorite ministry minded creatives is Shanna Noel, founder of the Illustrated Faith community. Her life is a beautiful portrait of how Gospel-power can flow out of a creative woman’s life. By example she inspires us to press into the awkwardness of platform building, with the hope of standing upon that virtual stage in order to hold up our Word-centric works of art.

 

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(The following is an excerpt from Life Creative)

“The first time I stumbled across one of her photos, I gasped. Literally gasped. It was all right there, faith and art intersected in the most worshipful of ways. I didn’t really expect to find God on Instagram, not wrapped up in such fresh creativity, but there He was. His Words brought to life, then captured and shared for my encouragement.

Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak,
Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot;
He walks upon the wings of the wind. (Ps. 104:1–3)

This passage of Scripture is beautiful all on its own. God-breathed poetry.

However, the picture posted on Instagram took the verses to a new level of beauty. Utilizing colored pencils and her artist’s eye, Shanna Noel drew a masculine hand over the words of her Bible. As God’s fingers gently guided swirling waters across the page, Shanna drew us deeper into this Scripture than I had ever gone before. Right there on Instagram, in front of God and everybody, a personal faith was illustrated, uploaded, and shared with the world.

When this Renaissance mom of two young girls first began illustrating her faith, she did so as a form of private worship. Right there in the pages of her journaling Bible, the Word came alive as she offered her drawing and scrapbooking skills back to the One who made her so creative. Shortly after, at the start of 2014, Shanna heard a whisper. “This is meant to be shared.” Hesitant, she kept up her creative worship in the quiet of her own home until one day she felt a clear, strong push to snap a photo.

That one post on Instagram ignited a wild fire as creative women everywhere reached out and excitedly affirmed this beautiful new form of worship. Within months, the Illustrated Faith movement took off and Shanna found herself at the helm, encouraging and equipping women to not just read the words in their Bible but to really explore them. Using simple tools from the scrapbooking industry, the Illustrated Faith community took to Instagram and Facebook, inspiring thousands of women to pursue a deeper knowledge of God through His Word.

Years ago, Shanna’s gift would have likely been confined to her family’s
enjoyment, a legacy passed down to
grandchildren and great-grandchildren
perhaps. Possibly she could have blessed her local church or women’s ministry with her skill set too. Today, however,
it’s ignited a worldwide phenomenon, a
revival so to speak, thanks to the digital age. One woman’s faith, filtered through the lens of her unique abilities, then shared authentically in the online realm of social media.

When creative talent and gospel love collide with the power of the Internet, a tidal wave of impact flows far beyond our reach. This is the effect of social media, flowing out from a creative’s heart to the ends of the earth, a visual wild fire of gospel-infused artistry.”

 

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If you are creative mom, eager to use your talent for God’s glory – even in this intense season of motherhood, “Life Creative” was written for you! We believe that your unique gifts make you uniquely equipped to share the gospel right in your home, in your local communities, and even out into the world in this digital age! Order your copy of Life Creative today.

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*Bible art featured in this post is by Renaissance Mom, Melissa Fischer.

Renaissance Mom - Rachel Baxter

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My heart's desire for this series, and truly for the book Life Creative itself, is to show that God made us creative for His great gospel glory! We are His masterpieces, indeed, privileged to make masterpieces of our own, but all purposed to point others to the Master Craftsman! Today's guest, Rachel Baxter, gives us a clear picture of how God's Great Commission call upon our lives can be lived out, partially, through our inspired, creative, in-His-image design. Get ready to go on a wonderful ride, to the far corners of the world, with this sweet Renaissance Mom and her dear family.

 

Welcome Welcome, Rachel Baxter!

 

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1.) Please introduce yourself and your family to all of us.

Hi! My name is Rachel and I am married to my handsome pastor and we have six children, Ellie, Sam, Henry, Nora Kate, Charlie and Ben. Our children range from two to nine years old. Let me do the math for you, we had six kids in a seven year span. I gave birth to five of our littles in six and half years and then we spent the last year working to bring our newest son home through adoption. He is two years old and is from China. You can imagine it has been a busy, beautiful, messy, exhausting, hilarious and exhilarating last decade.

 

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2.) What did your art look like before you had children?

The funny thing is I think my children actually helped bring out my creativity. My years in college and the few years after when I was doing college ministry I did not do much in the realm of art. As I was growing up performing arts and visual arts were a part of my daily life, but when I went to college I ended up leaving much of this behind. Having children and being a homemaker gave a rebirth to my love of art.

 

View More: http://christinemasonphotography.pass.us/charlie-backyard-bubble-bash

 

3.) How did art morph and change after children, and what does your creativity look like today?

Performing arts and visual arts had been a part of my life growing up. Certainly becoming a mother revived some of those artistic places in me. Decorating a home, planning birthday parties, photography and doing arts and crafts with my kids were some of the ways my creativity bloomed in this season of motherhood. However, there is one area of art I never would have expected to be birthed from this season - motherhood made me a writer.

 

[Tweet ""Motherhood made me a writer" (Rachel Baxter, Renaissance Mom)"]

 

Despite my natural creative bent, writing had never been a part of my repertoire. I started a blog ten years ago to keep friends and relatives updated on our family when social media was in its infancy and so were my babies. My writing and my children grew together. I am not one of those women who can report after ten years of blogging that I run a successful online business, ministry, or have published book, but I can say after ten years of blogging I became a writer.

 

I so enjoy using words to illustrate the story God is writing for our family and I do it in hopes of encouraging others in the trenches like myself. For many women I think having a family has meant letting go of an art form they loved but for me it was the opposite. Being a mother gave birth to my art. Most of my inspiration as a writer has been born out of the mess and beauty of motherhood.

 

View More: http://christinemasonphotography.pass.us/charlie-backyard-bubble-bash

 

4.) Where and when have you carved out time to create in your busy mothering days?

People often ask me how I make time for writing, and I do not have a really good answer because for me there has never been a consistent plan and certainly not much time. Having so many children born or adopted in such a short period time allowed for very little consistency over the last decade. Instead of carving out time for writing, writing has carved me. After too much time being away from it the words chase me down and force me to give up sleep, pass on the Netflix rerun or beg someone to watch my kids so I can go to a coffee shop to get the words out. A practical tip for any writers out there is don’t feel like you have to say it all and write full fledged blog posts or chapters to a book to be able to write. Most of my writing happens on Instagram where I write “instablogs” but when I have more time or I can’t help but write more I write on my blog. The important part is keep writing as often as you can, even if only in little snippets.

 

5.) Motherhood doesn't have to be the death of dreaming - in fact, it shouldn't be! We continue to dream even with little ones by our side. What are some of your hopes and dreams in regards to your creativity?

I would love to write a book and maybe a devotional one day and have articles published on certain blogs/websites I deem especially wonderful. But what I really want is to continue to develop and grow in my writing and for it to be used to influence others toward God and the things He loves.

 

6.) If you had one piece of advice to offer a mother who may be struggling with the messy blend of motherhood and art, what would you say?

Take another look at your children and really consider how they effect your art. I think we often view our kids as the barrier to our art but maybe they are something more. In my first years of motherhood I saw my kids as the thing keeping me from my art but more recently something clicked and I realized they were the reason I have any art to give. I struggled in the early years of parenting wanting to have the perfect mom job. I wanted a job which allowed me all the benefits of mothering but also all the accolades of working in a public setting. I saw my friends being successful work at home moms as photographers, writers and artists and in my heart I struggled terribly with envy. The envy led me to punish my kids and my husband for taking this away from me. But God got a hold of me and opened my eyes to see these children were not to blame instead they were to be praised. I was becoming a writer because of them not in spite of them. It is through the mess of of motherhood I have found some of my deepest and most beautiful inspiration.

 

7) How can God use our creativity in His Great Commission call upon our mothering lives?

I love that you are asking this question! I think often we divorce our creativity from our discipleship of our children when really God intended them to go hand in hand. God is a creative and he made us in his image. His intent for his people is for us to use all that we are to glorify Him. When we are using our gifts to point our children to Jesus it shows them the wholeness of the Great Commission. We are called to make disciples, disciples are not soldiers in an army all following the same orders they are unique creations, each different than the other following the same leader, Jesus. Each disciple is given certain works they are to accomplish for God’s Kingdom. Specifically for me, one way I use my creative writing in the discipleship of my children is through creative storytelling. Often when I talk to them about the Bible I use story. Not just stories from the Bible but I will use stories from my own life and relate them to Biblical principals, they love this and they get it, because story resonates. Story reaches into their little hearts. My kids obviously don’t read the things I write for my blog or other publications but when they see me write it shows them that I take seriously the creative gifts God has given me. It shows them the truth that God has made us creative beings and we can use our creativity to glorify God and bless others.

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photos courtesy, The Archibald Project

 

8) How did creativity play a part in your recent adoption story?

One of my great surprise joys in our adoption journey was how much my creativity came out through this process. From coming up with creative adoption fundraisers, to inviting a team of talented photographers to join us in telling our story, to personally writing about our story as we lived it out, creativity has been enfolded throughout the process. We had to raise $30,000 to bring our son home and I knew I didn’t just want to ask people for money. I longed to bring people into our journey in many different ways. So I put my creative cap on and went to work. One of the fundraisers I hosted was a weekend crafting retreat called “Made to Create.” We transformed our neighborhood club house into a craft house, ate yummy comfort food, had women come to speak about how God is using their creativity for the kingdom and, of course, crafted! The whole time I couldn’t believe I was holding a fundraiser because this was way to much fun. I continued to use my creativity throughout the fundraising process and it was really life giving to use my gifts in bringing my son home.

 

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The other way creativity was woven into our adoption was through story telling. I knew I wanted to tell this story but not just in the old fashion way. I wanted to use as many avenues as possible to take this story forward. Not because our adoption story is unique but because God uses stories to reach deep into people’s souls and change them. I knew how other people’s stories have changed my life and I desired our sons story to change others. Since Instagram is my favorite writing and story telling platform I chose to write there as we experienced it. I wanted people to feel like they were there with us. I tried to share the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and emotions we experienced each day through my words.

My deep desire was that in doing so it would ignite in people a sense that they had come along with us, and that it would lead them to see that they too could care for the orphan. We took it a step further by partnering with the Archibald project to tell our story.

 

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photo courtesy, The Archibald Project

 

The Archibald Project is an orphan care advocacy organizations using creative avenues to help people see the wide variety of ways we can all care for the orphan. They use storytelling through the medium of photography and videography to advocate for the orphan and the vulnerable child. I wanted to bring them along because I knew they had the creative ability to tell Ben's story even better than I could alone. Many of the photos in this post are from the Archibald project.

In November, for adoption awareness month, they will be launching the video they created for us to better tell our son’s story. God has made people emotional beings and telling stories through multiple mediums helps reach deep into their souls and elicits change in a way just reading statistics on orphans can not. I am hoping through our creative story telling many families and individuals will be moved to action on behalf of the orphan.

 

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8) Rachel, how can we follow along with you and your family after this dynamite interview?

Yes, absolutely! I blog when I can at www.rachbaxter.com, but I'm always pretty active on Instagram  and Facebook

And of course you can find more of my family's story, along with other inspiring adoption stories at The Archibald Project.

 

Thank you, Rachel, for being so generous with your family's redemptive story. Your willingness to share your lives creatively with readers has great gospel power!

 

1471421589984Dear friend, if you are a creative mom and desire to use your writing and picture taking, your clever home decorating and craft making and hospitality for God's great glory, our new book, Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom is for you!

 

In this season of parenting all our people, it is common to feel confined most days to home. But, it is absolutely possible to travel "to the ends of the earth" with The Good News of Jesus Christ through this digital age.

 

We believe that your creative bent has the power to bend people to the Gospel!

 

Let us encourage you.

 

 

 

 

Order your copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom today!

 

Interview with a Renaissance Mom - Stacey Thacker

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Welcome back to our (hopefully) inspiring new series, Interview with a Renaissance Mom! Today's featured artist has found the key to her Great Commission Call from the comfort and confinement of her own cozy home! Author Stacey Thacker shares with us how her words have wings to go beyond the practical places of this parenting season.

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Please introduce yourself.

Hello friends! I’m Stacey Thacker. My husband Mike and I have been married for 22 years and for the last 14 or so we have lived in Central Florida. We have four girls ages (almost 7, 10, 13, and almost 17).  We also have a crazy dog, but that's another story. I grew up in a small town in Southern Indiana and graduated from Indiana University.

At Life Creative we believe that art morphs as a woman transitions from season to season. This is especially true of creative personalities. What did your creativity look before children, and what shape does it take today?

I’ve always loved music and starting singing in church at a young age. Throughout the years, I played in the band and sang in various school choirs. Today, I’m blessed to have the opportunity to lead worship at my church on a regular basis. This is one of my sweetest gifts.

Words have also been a large part of my life. I always wrote letters and kept a diary as a girl. This somehow got buried in the baby raising years. My husband was smart enough to know I needed a place to work out my words and encouraged me to start a blog about seven years ago. As my words found a rhythm of their own, God began to open doors for me to put them on paper once again. This time, his plan involved books. I’m still in awe at being an author. Honestly, I didn’t see it coming at this point in my life.

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In the busyness of motherhood it can be hard to find the place and the space to fit your passions within the practical places of family life. Where and when have you carved out the time to create in your busy days?

Writing happens in the nooks and crannies of my life. Sometimes that involves a quick trip to Panera on a Saturday or hiding in my bedroom while the kids play together and hopefully do the dishes. I grab time when I can and of course when I’m under a deadline, I’m more aware of the value of those precious times when I can pour out my heart on the page.

Music was something I also had to step away from for a couple of years and I can tell you I sorely missed it. But a few years ago, God brought it back around in a way that fit into my schedule as a mom. I attend weekly rehearsals for the most part and lead worship about once every six weeks. My husband is key in helping to make that possible when I need to be at an early sound check on Sunday Morning.

I believe that God purposed our creativity to be one of the vehicles through which we respond to the Great Commission call on our lives. How has God given you opportunity to share His love with others through your creative gifts? In your home… your local community… and even out into the world.

Throughout the years, I’ve had the chance to lead small groups and travel the world to tell others about Christ. I have a heart for women to be in the Word. Yet, as a mom my time is not always my own. There have been seasons where I’ve simply needed to be home. As a writer, however, my words can go anywhere. They can stretch to the far corners of the globe while I stay home in my pajamas fixing breakfast for my kids. I can’t always go speak or be part of global mission trips. But my words—they can fly.

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We spend our days caring for “our beautiful creations” but there are other creations we long to pen, sing, paint, stitch and bake. It’s hard to embrace any other dream during this dream-come-true season of mothering.  Share one of your dreams with our readers?

You know, it sounds a bit hokey I’m sure, but I think I’m living it right now. I said it before, I’m the one most in awe that God has made me an author. My dreams involve projects that bring women together around a table with the Word of God between them. I also might have a song or two hiding in my heart. Perhaps He has something for me along those lines as well.

Would you share with us one of your “creative crushes” – another creative mom who inspires you and why.

I love watching women who have a passion to encourage and build up other women. A couple of years ago I had the chance to meet with Lysa Terkeurst and her Compel writing team and talk about writing words that matter. I learned so much during our time together. I came away with a deep respect for her passion to help women in ministry thrive. I pray I’m able to do that for other women as well.

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If you had one piece of advice to leave us with, concerning this awkward dance between faith, family and the flourishing arts, what would it be?

God has a way of working it out. He has a plan, simply trust him. Also, bring your family with you. Be honest with them and say, “Hey, mom has this opportunity and I want you to be part of it. I can’t do it without you.” Talk through your stories with them, ask them for their opinion on your latest creation, and if you are baking something wonderful in the kitchen, make sure they get a portion of it as well. It doesn’t always have to be one or the other. Once when I was worried about the writing and taking time away for that, my husband encouraged me with this: “Just think about what it will mean to the girls for their mom to be an author.” I realized that pursuing my dream would encourage them to do the same with dreams of their own.

Where can we find more of your work and connect with you online?

You can find me at staceythacker.com, on Instagram and Twitter @staceythacker, and Facebook @officialStaceyThacker. and my new book, Fresh Out of Amazing: Opening Your Heart to God’s Unexpected Invitation is now available!

Thank you so much, Stacey, for inviting us into the Renaissance story of your own Life Creative.

To find out more about Stacey's experience as a Christian author, smack-dab in this intense season of mothering her girls, hop on over to her blog to read today's post!

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We hope these interviews inspire you to celebrate your own

Life Creative.

Order a copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom today and join our Renaissance Faire! As a special incentive, purchase Life Creative by the end of September and receive our free downloadable resource, "Five Stepss to Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Thriving Business."Confirm purchase and receive your free gift today!

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Interview with a Renaissance Mom - Becky Leach

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SIGNS SIGNS SIGNS- Many of today's Renaissance Moms are creating handmade signs with paint and pen and computer graphics. Some hand letter their missives of encouragement while others salvage reclaimed wood and frame up canvases.

These word-centric works of art hang above our mantels, above our beds, above our couches, ever-reminding us of what is true and right and nobel. Adorning our homes with lovely things, decorating our minds with lovely thoughts! 

In the old testament book of Deuteronomy, God declares the most important commandment of all, to Love Him with all we have (our heart, soul, and strength) then He goes immediately on to tell us how the love should flow out from within us - out into the lives of our children and into our homes, as we write His Words upon our doorposts and our gates. 

Signs!

Today's Renaissance Mom is the sweetest sign maker you'll ever meet. Many of Becky Leach's happy works of art simply cheer us up with an "Oh Happy Day!" while others cheer us on with scripture promises. 

I'm so pleased to introduce you to, Renaissance Mom, Becky Leach

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1.) Please introduce yourself and your family to all of us.

Hey y'all!! My name is Becky and I am the artist and owner behind the hand-painted sign shop, Little Branches. I am married to my hunky high school sweetheart, Jeff and we have three kids - Brady, Charlotte and Landry. They are 8, 5 and almost 2 respectively.

2.) What did your art look like before you had children?

I graduated from college with a degree in Interior Design and worked at an architectural firm until I had Brady (about four years). I didn't have any time for my "own" art to be honest. The creative part of my brain was spent by the time I went home every day, even though I LOVED my job so much. I, of course, moved furniture around in our little home all the time (now Jeff is just used to this), but I wouldn't have even considered it my "canvas" at that time. My job took all of my creative energy during those years - happily so.

3.) How did that art morph and change after children, and what does your creativity look like today?

After I had Brady, I knew I wanted to stay home and so, despite my husband being in law school at the time, we decided that's what I would do. The first year or so was HARD. I missed being around people (read: adults) and it took me a while to realize that I also missed my creative outlet. For a handful of years I basically started to make. Make what? you might ask - make EVERYTHING. I started cooking elaborate meals that were wasted on our children, but that we so loved. I taught myself to sew, I did lots of DIY home projects and I got really into Project Life - and this was all before Pinterest.

In 2012 I knew I wanted to start my own business - focused on whatever I was making at the time. It somehow turned into painting signs after I opened it. Looking back on it, it was divinely orchestrated, because I wouldn't have set out to do that in any way. But painting signs connects my love of being creative with my love of words - and only God could have put those two things together in that way!

becky leach
becky leach

4.) Where and when have you carved out time to create in your busy mothering days?

I love having a creative busness - I thank God for the opportunities (almost) every day. But with the blessing of having this business there is also a downside - and that is that I don't make for myself anymore! I NEED to do that more - paint for myself and for my friends, and sew! I would like to find time to sew - it's just hard to fit it in!

My youngest goes to mother's day out twice a week during the school year - so I tend to have two days a week solo for a few hours. This is where the bulk of my painting time happens... however like I mentioned above, this time could also be spent ordering supplies, shipping or hammering out details of a new blog post. Rarely is this time used purely as creating for myself! I need to get better at that! Today, in fact, I have some construction paper and crayons set out for my older two when they get home from school - and perhaps I can sit down and make right alongside of them!?

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5.) Motherhood doesn't have to be the death of dreaming - in fact, it shouldn't be! We continue to dream even with little ones by our side. What are some of your hopes and dreams in regards to your creativity?

Oh gosh, Wendy. My dreams. My dreams scare me. I tend to get stuck somewhere in between what I want for myself and what God wants for me. What I've been learning though, is this: when I lean into Him, He molds my desires into His and His into mine. It's a weird thing, isn't it?

But in order to not evade the question here we go on my dreams : I have a book outlined that I want to write on dreaming big within the roles we play as women. I want to somehow see my painting and my call to write, speak and lead be integrated. (Only God can do this.) I want to pour creativity into my kids. I want to learn to take risks. I want my kids to see me take risks. I want to learn that it's okay to fail. And I really want it to soak into me this idea that success doesn't look the same for me as it does for the next sign shop. That God built my business differently - just like He built ME differently.

My greatest dream is that I would wake up and find myself (someday) fully content with who I am in Him both creatively and professionally. That one day I would realize that I don't have to do it all at once, but that God has given me this creative passion today for TODAY. For this moment right here. I dream that one day it wouldn't matter if anyone else recognizes the beauty of my artwork, but that it would truly be all for Him and that would be enough to make my heart full.

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6) At Life Creative we believe that our creativity may actually be an important part of our Great Commission call. How has your art allowed you to share God's love with the people in your home, your local community, and out into the world?

With my artwork, that's an easy answer. I send works of art to other's homes with God's Word painted across of it. But that's the easy answer. The hard answer is that it's really an opportunity to BE different than the world. The hard answer is that God - through my artwork - has given me a platform to share His love and I often don't do that well. I try to be raw, honest and vulnerable but sometimes I know I hold back. My biggest desire is for people to love Jesus more and be reminded of him after seeing my artwork or reading my words.

becky 2
becky 2

7.) If you had one piece of advice to offer a mother who may be struggling with the messy blend of motherhood and art, what would you say?

KEEP GOING. Weary mom - you are NOT alone. You are normal. God has you right here and you are doing a GREAT job. There is no such thing as a perfect balance - or not one that I (or anyone who is being honest) have found. Make time to create each day - even if it's just for a few minutes. Sit down and do something with your hands. Sew, paint, write, draw, create, cook, make. It might not look the same as it did five years ago, it won't look the same in five years - but you were made to create TODAY. Don't put it off because the desire will catch up with you and some day you'll wake up and wonder what happened to the you that you once were! Even if you are sitting with playdough in your hands or sidewalk chalk in the driveway, just create.

8) How can our readers follow along with you online?

Yay! I would love for you to follow along online! My blog is www.bloglittlebranches.com and my shop is www.shoplittlebranches.net // I update my Instagram account @littlebranches most. I hope you'll hop on over and say hi!

Oh Becky! This conversation was so much fun. I especially love your dreams - all of them! Thank you for joining our Renaissance Faire, and inspiring the rest of us to live our Life Creative as unto the Lord!

Wen

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We hope these interviews inspire you to celebrate your own

Life Creative.

Order a copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom today and join our Renaissance Faire! As a special incentive, purchase Life Creative by the end of September and receive our free downloadable resource, "Five Stepss to Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Thriving Business."Confirm purchase and receive your free gift today!

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