This year life opened back up in a wide, big, open way.
Leaders at work intensified the activity and expectations.
Church geared up in a return to programs and areas of service.
Postponed celebrations and family gatherings returned with gusto.
With that regained freedom, the year was bent on going into overdrive. There was a return to a frenetic pace of activity in every realm of life, not in a bad way. It was the knee jerk reaction of being held back for so long, the temptation is to run as fast and hard as one can.
And we did.
Yet in the middle of the mass of activities, the fallout from the last few years seems to be catching up with us: mentally, physically, emotionally.
I'm happy to be back out and busy again, but what was that weariness about?
All these things led me to return to the annual project of creating a "thankful home" with more determination than before.
Each year I wonder if I should continue it, but this year I hardly questioned it. It seemed a life-giving thing to return to, a necessary exercise to refocus heart and mind.
I knew in my heart of hearts I needed to stop and rest a while, to take count of the gifts God is and continues to give. I'm sorry to say I often miss His gifts because of the speed of life and my focus on distractions and all the busyness.
This project is a simple way of slowing down, stopping, reflecting, and saturating an hour, a day, a week with a focus on thanksgiving, on gratitude and appreciation for what has been and what is given.
One Hour this Week to Sink Into Grace & Paint
There is something about sitting down with a hot cup of coffee or tea, dipping the paintbrush in the water, then swirling it in the palette, waking up the watercolors.
And, then putting color on a piece of paper with a paintbrush...how does that help calm down my thinking and bring about a sense of grace and calm so quickly? I don't know how, but it does. The artwork invites me to stop moving so quickly even if only for a few minutes.
The house is symbolic of the life and stability that comes as I practice being thankful. Giving thanks to God is a powerful stabilizer in life. When I live out of a heart of thankfulness something in me shifts. It changes how I see almost everything.
Being thankful opens me up. Anxiety and fretting shut me down. I know this on a very logical level, but I struggle with living it out.
So, every November, when my heart and mind are in need of a bit of a tune up, I return to this simple practice of painting out a sweet fall-themed home. This year the home is nestled in a mini forest of trees letting go of their beautiful leaves.
Tips for Creating Your 'Thankful Home' Painting
First, I'd love for you to paint with me. You can sign up here
. It's a three-part project that takes about an hour to complete (not including the drying time).
Second, keep the design simple to allow your mind and heart to sink into the joy of playing with paint instead of wondering how to create depth or fix the perspective and so forth. You'll notice my home is front facing and basic.
Use only a few colors. This will help your art really "sing" when you finish. I use about 5 colors in the painting this year: burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, gamboge, cadmium orange, cadmium red. I used a little bit of raw umber but it's not essential. I used the same blue for the sky, the home, and then some details on the trunks and pathway.
If you don't have a micron pen, a fine tip sharpie (not the big ones!) or black gel pen will work.
After the paint dries, begin to write in your list of thanksgiving. I love using the tree trunks, edges of the house, the curve of the pumpkins to add in the year's "gifts."
Consider leaving an open space to write in a thanksgiving prayer or other things you want to list out that the rest of the painting didn't provide room for. I left room under the trees and pumpkins to add in additional thoughts. Once I start recalling the gifts of the year, they keep coming!
Ideas to Think of What to Write on Your Thankful Home
Need help thinking of the gifts you've been given? Here are some of the things on my heart and the questions I ask myself.
They range from big to small. All are significant to me just like your list will be dear to you!
What simple, everyday things are gifts in your life? A few of mine...
Morning coffee and watching the sunrise.
Laughing with one of my brothers and my Mom
Frequent walks along a nature path
The weekly prayer group.
What activities with people have been a gift to you? Again, a few of mine...
Quarterly coffee with Jenelle
Volunteering with the sweetest people in our church hospitality team and all the laughter shared there.
Reconnecting with a cousin.
Snail mail from a friend.
Finally, what things are the simple things in life that have meant something to you? Think about nature, animals, the kindness of strangers, etc.
The daily walks along a quiet path.
My sister's cat who finally befriended me.
The way the sun dances through the trees in the morning.
A car that keeps working.
Several lovely acquaintances who are turning into dear friends.
A wilderness season that is teaching me lessons I could not learn in sunnier seasons.
I hope in the next week before Thanksgiving, you can set aside time to sit and percolate in the sweet gifts of the season and the year!
Here's the link to paint the 2022 Thankful Home with me. I hope you enjoy it!