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Five Ways to Find Peace in the Busy Advent Season

Five Ways to Find Peace in the Busy Advent Season

As the calendar closes in on Christmas it’s easy to lose sight of the peace that is supposed to come with this season. If your Advent is headed in a less than peaceful direction, here are five strategies to get back on track.

Write it all down.

If you don’t have a family calendar the other eleven months out of the year, make one for December. Put everyone’s commitments on it, starting with the non-negotiables.

Also, make lists of everything you need to do this month, and if you aren’t a paper planner person why not print a copy of our Christmas Checklist from our freebie library this month? You can become a member for free here, or current members can log in right here (search your inbox for “Pink Salt Riot” if you can’t remember your password – we try and include it in every email!).

 

You can print as many as you need for yourself, and the rest of your family as well. If you have kids old enough to have their own holiday to dos you can also print one for each of them and guide them in writing down gifts they want to make, purchase, or wrap, and other seasonal things they need to get done.

Shop early and from as few places as possible.

Do not procrastinate on gifts that matter to you! There is nothing that steals holiday peace quite like constantly checking to see if your gifts will arrive in time. Select a few retailers that will be able to meet the majority of your gifting needs and place your orders in early December. Then you will have just a few packages to keep track of, and the bulk of your shopping will be knocked out quickly.

Here at Pink Salt Riot we like to think that we are a pretty excellent one stop shop for the girls and women on your list. With everything from stickers, tattoos, and pencils to fine customizable jewelry, you can knock out stocking stuffers, gifts for your sisters, moms, and girlfriends all in one stop. We also ship orders out within 2 business days, even in the heart of the holiday season and most of our US customers have their orders in hand in 5 business days.

Say no.

It’s easy to get buried under a pile of commitments in December. But it’s also a great opportunity to look at your priorities and be intentional about what you say yes to. When you’re filling out that family calendar from #1, why not take a moment to consider whether each activity supports your priorities and serves to prepare your family for Christmas. Not everything is optional, i know, but consider what matters most in allocating your time this season.

Make time to enjoy the season as a family.

Put some time on your calendar to do fun family activities, either with old traditions or new ones you’d like try. Some fun ideas include baking as a family, decorating cookies, caroling at a nursing home, or wrapping presents as a family for other friends and extended family members. Let the joy of the season be something you experience as a family and not just something something you rush through as individuals.

Make time to reflect on the gift of Christmas yourself.

It’s important to remember that the Advent season is meant to be a season like Lent, a time of reflection and preparation. We reflect not only on Jesus’ coming 2000 years ago, but His coming into our own hearts and lives. If we don’t take the time to reflect, we miss out on so much of the grace the season has to offer, and therefore a great source of peace, no matter how busy the season is.

There are so many great Advent reflection programs out there, but the two that I personally recommend are the Blessed Is She study, Bearing Light, and the reflection program I run each year called A Beauty Full Advent.

What do you do to keep a peaceful heart in Advent? We’d love to hear your thoughts and practices in the comments!

Giving Thanks for Everything Else

Giving Thanks for Everything Else

I think I am always going to look back at 2018 as the year I grew up.

Pink Salt Riot has grown from me + two very part time students in my living room to a full fledged business with a CFO, three directors, and a team of makers in a brand new studio. But the transitions have been hard – full of growing pains, mistakes on my part, and risks I wish had gone a different way.

This year has also been one of growing personally: putting my children in school for the first time while navigating both giftedness and special needs, exploring my own talents as a teacher and an artist in new ways, renovating our mid-century home and, most recently, saying goodbye to my unborn daughter at just 15 weeks in early November.

So much has happened, and so much has been things I didn’t want to happen. There was more than a little kicking and screaming involved.

But now I find myself getting ready for Thanksgiving, preparing my family for the trek to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and realizing that this year has given me more to be thankful for than any year prior. And it’s not just that I appreciate the good things more, I think the grace of God has actually allowed me to find the thankfulness for the struggles as well.

The business has helped me be thankful for the gifts of others: the joy of our makers, the incredible focus and organizational skills of our Ops Director, the dependability and flexibility of our Marketing Director, the patience of our CFO working with an artist who has nightmares about journal entries and account reconciliation.

Each of these team members bring something to the business I never could – themselves. Sometimes I long for the relational simplicity of the soloprenuer life I lived for so long, but that’s the bad days. That’s when I realize that though running my business used to be easier, it was poorer, not necessarily financially, but spiritually. There was only so much I could give, and I felt the constant call for more from my audience. My team is that more. Their presence pushes me out of my comfort zone every day and there is not a doubt in my mind that that is making me a better artist, leader, and person – perhaps even into the beginnings of the person God desires me to be.

So for all the struggles, I am thankful.

My struggles with navigating school for my children, most especially my gifted four year old, have also been challenging, but they have helped me see the importance of viewing each person as an individual and realizing deeply that that is how God looks at us. It has helped me appreciate the struggles and sacrifices of my parents to provide me with a challenging education in light of my own giftedness. It has helped me see my son as a gift full of possibility, requiring a level of dedication from me above and beyond the norm because he has been given talents and gifts that have the potential to affect and shape the world above and beyond the norm.

So for all the struggles, I am thankful.

This year I also felt a call to dedicate myself to art in a deeper way than ever before. Though I showed early aptitudes for drawing, writing, poetry, and photography, much of the skill I built as child has fallen to the wayside in adulthood, except for the skills I do still use in my work. Somehow toddler motherhood and small business ownership hasn’t left a lot of time to paint and write recreationally. I still struggle frequently with frustration that I feel called to things I am not yet a professional at, and I resent the fact that time to practice, and not simply produce, is necessary.

I wrestled with this all summer particularly, and actually God has spoken to this need for time directly through the Pink Salt Riot team. They have all been getting so good at their jobs that there is less and less for me to do and more and more time for me to be creating better art for both our brand and myself. In short, God has opened the time for me to practice.

But you know what?

I hate to practice.

I like to be good at things.

And so even with the time given back to me, it has been a struggle to sit my butt down and make bad art. It’s hard to practice. Just like it’s hard to practice our faith. Have you ever noticed that’s what we call it? “Practicing” our faith?

I am at a time of tremendous opportunity in my life – a time when I can grow in discipline that will renew my life as an artist, but also as a Christian.

So for the all the struggles, I am thankful.

Our beautiful, maddening home is also a constant source of struggle that has, even still, taught us to be thankful for shelter. Our AC was sub standard for most of the Oklahoma summer, our electric and plumbing are ancient, and it felt like all we could do to simply paint all the mid century dark wood that made it feel like we were living in some kind of a underground lair after four years of enduring it. The paint on our kitchen cabinets ended up not taking two coats like we expected, but five to seven. On 40+ cabinets and drawers.

But our home feels like ours now after all the paint. The big yards are our children’s favorite playgrounds. And the constant fear that a major system will go kaput gives us a very tangible opportunity to trust God to provide.  

So for all the struggles, I am thankful.

And then, there’s Frances, my infant daughter that went home to God on All Saints Day. I found out I was pregnant my children’s first day of school. I liked the idea that I was not going to be away from all my children at any point this year. And even as I sit and write this I am aware that now I am here by myself, with an empty womb like an empty tomb inside of me.

Frances is everything that’s bittersweet in life. She is the saint from our inner circle, and I know she prays for us. But she is also the hole in our inner circle here on Earth, the open space that will never be filled until heaven.

Her sonogram picture hangs in the hall next to my other children’s portraits. Her life existed, her life mattered, and it matters still. She has deepened my pro-life views, and helped me find a new and shattering empathy with women who feel trapped into letting their unborn babies go before they have the chance to live. She has given me new empathy for the thousands of women who have walked this road before me, including my own mother. She has helped me find a longing for heaven that I have never experienced before.

So for all the struggles, I am thankful.

Wherever you are this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to count the blessings amidst your struggles even more than the blessings that come with a bow. My husband is wonderful. It takes very little from me to be thankful for him, or for my children (although that does fluctuate with their decibel level). It takes a lot more to be thankful for the struggles. The day to day gratitude should be the easy stuff- the things would could take for granted, but choose not to. But I think if we are going to take a whole day, or week even, to be about thankfulness, we need to dig in and till up our deepest feelings about everything that has touched us this year – good and bad. We need to take this gift of time and sit with it all.

Because I think, at the end of the day, a good Thanksgiving is one where we look past the turkey, and the iPhones, and the good jobs, and find the thankfulness for the hardest things we’ve faced this year. 

I think that’s when we grow.

Happy Thanksgiving, and please know that we are deeply thankful for you.

Why Gifts Matter

Why Gifts Matter

As we head into the holiday season I find myself full of the same kind of annual glee I feel every early November. I am an artist and someone who delights in giving meaningful gifts and this time of year I get lean in to both of those things in a wonderful way. Being a part of creating thousands of Christmas gifts every year through Pink Salt Riot is my favorite Christmas gift that others give to me. The chance to be a part of all of those acts of love is nothing short of astonishing and carries me through the loneliest times of working motherhood.

But in reflecting on gift giving lately I have realized that not only Christmas, but gift giving itself has gotten tied up in secular commercialism in a way that is definitely doesn’t have to be. Gift giving in and of itself does not detract from Christmas, or even the celebration of Christ at Christmas, as I heard one women remark. She was very proud of the fact that no one in her family gave or received Christmas gifts because they wanted to “only focus on Christ.”

I don’t disagree with the sentiment. I also want Christmas to be solely about Christ. But I think that’s where the gifts come in, not where they need to exit.

Christ himself is a gift on Christmas – a gift to each of us and to everyone that has ever lived. He is the perfect gift from God – a Redeemer who saves us from ourselves, our deep ties to sin, and even death itself. Christmas is about giving, the gift God gave and still gives, and then also our own attempts to mimic that. And of course we are not under any delusions that our small and simple gifts will bring salvation of any kind, but we are still called to give like God – in a way that signifies our deep knowing and love of the people we give to.

Gifts are a chance to let people know that they are seen. And in our noisy, crowded, lonely world, being seen is deeply meaningful. It is the desire to be seen that has created so much of the chaos in our world – people feeling the need to scream and shout and shoot guns to remind everyone else that they exist, that they hurt, and that they want to matter. There is a reason gift giving is a love language – the thought and effort put into a gift reflects the thought and effort we put into the person through the gift.

This isn’t a post to try and guilt you into spending a lot of money on Christmas gifts or even to try and get you to shop with us here at PSR this holiday season, even though we do really love to help you create the perfect giftsThis is a post to remind you why we all started giving gifts in the first place, and to let you know that we are going to support you in your gift giving this year if you have $100 to spend or nothing to spend.

Everyone deserves a Christmas present created just for them, and I also think that everyone deserves the opportunity to give amazing gifts even if they have very little, or even no, money to spend.

That’s why this month and next we are going to be bringing you videos, freebies, and wrapping papers to help you love others through your gift giving. I will be sharing easy ways to create meaningful gifts through special wrapping techniques, easy gifts to make and give using our freebie library, as well as specials and coupon codes to get the most bang for your buck if you choose to shop with us this holiday season.

{Tiny fraction of the free printable wrapping paper we have in our library ^}

I have put together a HUGE library of free printable cards and wrapping paper that you can access completely free by signing up for our future gift giving updates right here:

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    It is up to us to give in a way that points back to God this Christmas. And that God is not stingy, tired, or adverse to beautiful things. He is generous, overflowing, abundant, and delighted by the work of His hands.

    How can you give like God this Christmas?

    Parting Words of Wisdom from Some Inspirational Artists

    Parting Words of Wisdom from Some Inspirational Artists

    “Keep at it! Pray over it. People want your artwork in their homes, in their work spaces. Sometimes, it just takes time.”

    Courtney Freiburger, Wooden sign maker and graphic designer at Hardy Design Photo

    “For anyone seeking to start sharing their gifts through creating beauty: 1)Seek the advice of experts. When I started Catholic Girl Talk, I had absoluetly no idea what I was getting into. However, I reached out to specific people who were already doing what I was doing, and doing it well. Through their advice and encouragement, I was able to work through some of the initial roadblocks of starting a ministry and YouTube Channel. 2)Be professional but seek authenticity above all. For example, if you feel called to start a YouTube Channel but do not have the latest DSLR, start it anyway! You don’t have to have the latest and best equipment to start. Many YouTubers became successful starting out with only an iPhone and good content! The key is that you are sharing authentic content from your heart. Of course, use the equipment you do have in the most professional way possible. Then, contine learning to improve your quality and skills as you go. I’ve found that a lot of it comes only with practice!”

    Olivia, vlogger, video content creator at Catholic Girl Talk

    “Pray when you create. Let the joy of the Lord flow through you.”

    Mary Glomski, Crafter, maker at Hooking Joy Designs

    “You were created to co-create beauty. The beauty you create can move others to Christ in a way that only your art can do. The world needs the beauty you have to share!”

    Jacki Beers, creative designer and rosary maker at Faber Beads

    “If God is laying it on your heart to create, than someone needs that piece of creation in their life. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, God is working through you for a reason!”

    Alicia Baker, jewelry creator at No Heart Untouched

    And I saved my favorite for last:

    “Oh man, just go for it. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? You know, think of those little cherubs in all the cathedrals, the ones that only have heads and wings? Those things scare the LIFE OUTTA ME. But I mean, they’re art, right? If some dude could make those scary little creatures and have them adorn cathedrals and basilicas and churches all over the world, I’m pretty sure there’s a place for you and your art too. 😂 HAVE TREMENDOUS HOPE.”

    Heather, Illustrator, painter, and maker at Honeychild Forest 

    Wisdom for New, Young, + Shy Christian Artists

    “You DO have a place! Use what is at your disposal to convey beauty to the world in a way that is authentic to you. Beauty is the medium through which truth and goodness are conveyed. The world desperately needs you. It needs to see the light of Christ shining through the art you are creating. Even though it seems that someone has already taken your niche, YOU have unique gifts and tastes that just might draw someone into truth and goodness who would have been turned off before. Beauty will save the world, and you are needed to save the world through beauty.”

    Olivia, vlogger, video content creator at Catholic Girl Talk

    “There is always a place at the table. God’s gift to you is beautiful and worth sharing. It will give Him glory for you to use your talent!”

    Gina Fensterer, designer at Someday Saints Designs

    “Ask God where he wants you to use your skills. And listen when He answers! Don’t be afraid to start small or to fail. Be honest about your skill level. Practice where you need it and be confident in what you are great at! If you want God to use your art, you can’t waste any time on false humility or fear of failure.”

    Annie Vaeth, Printmaker and Painter at Paper Monastery 
    “Don’t limit your audience to “Christian” or not… you’ll be surprised!”
    Michelle Arnold Paine, painter at Michelle Paine
    “Your creativity is your legacy. It will live beyond you. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with uncertainty, you have a chance to become overwhelmed with faith & joy. Choose that path.”
    Christy M. Johnson, Art therapist, artist, and illustrator
    “I have heard others wonder if they should, for instance, make saint dolls since others like me are already doing that. I think it’s important to make sure that you are true to yourself and your style as an artist. There’s room for more doll makers (or fill in the blank what art you want to pursue), and yes, all art is imitation. But what will make you successful is embracing your own style and what makes your rendition different and unique. I learn a lot from seeing what others are doing, but ultimately I have to create what is on my heart in a way that is genuine to who I am and what my style is. I often think of Catherine of Siena’s words: “Be who God made you to be and you will set the world on fire.” I think our art works that way too. It takes time to develop that style. Mine is still developing. But it’s important to resist the temptation to simply copy what what someone else is doing.”
    Marcy Kelleher, Doll maker, felt florist, seamstress, and fiber artist at Marzipantz Shop
    “With rosary making, I’m in the most saturated market! I had tiny goals when I started to put my pieces out there, but God has not been outdone in His generosity. God wants to use us in unique ways, and we can never know how God wants to use our talents for His glory-unless we try!”
    Jessica Dixon, jewelry designer and rosary maker at Come Holy Spirit Rosaries
    “God needs you and the church needs your unique gifts! If you feel a call to share your talents then God has a space for you. Pray to Our Lady for guidance!”
    Rose Osada, jewelry designer at Relics by Rose
    “There is a place for you! I 100% believe in making what you would want to purchase as a consumer because then a different sort of energy flows into your work that does not otherwise. Christ can reach through to all through all.”
    Alexandra Lemke, seamstress at The Lemke Lodge
    “Be authentically you. Make sure you are working/creating to honor Christ. That way, while it can be a bit scary, you will not be adandoned in your journey.”
    Allison Seitz, artisan at Small Things Gr8 Love
    “If you can stop thinking about the sale long enough to paint something that fuels your prayer life and inspires one just other person to draw closer to Christ then this process/job/outlet/business is worth all of the time and effort.”
    Kourtnee Senn, painter at Studio Senn
    “Go. For. It. If nothing else, do it for the process of figuring your God-given strengths. He’s given you an interest in these things for some higher purpose!”
    Jennifer, graphic designer, artist, and jewelry maker at Telos Art Shop
    ” There is always more room at the table! But I’d encourage you to find your niche—how can you make your item unique? What makes your art different from anyone else’s? Embrace your own style, and be patient discovering what that might be. Lastly, trust. If this is where God wants you to be for his glory, then be assured it will happen.”

    Megan Reusz, crafter at The Cozy Wife

    The Impact of Faith on the Lives of Artists

    Earlier this fall I surveyed a diverse group of Catholic artists about what impact their faith has had on their work as artists. Here are a sampling of their responses. I hope their words inspire you to explore the role of beauty in your own faith.

    “My life as an artist is inseparable from my life of faith. I have always felt a need to create beauty and as I have grown in my faith I have seen that as a direct gift from God which allows me to participate in His creator spirit! My Catholic faith is inseparable from what I produce as an artist. Especially when I am painting religious imagery, my faith informs my work and my work informs my faith. I paint as I pray and I pray as I paint. In my artistic vocation I am always seeking to reveal a tiny glimpse of the eternal beauty that is God.”

    Annie Vaeth, Printmaker and Painter at Paper Monastery 
    “I love making things that connect faith and whimsy. For instance, painting animals that are praying the rosary has been such a fun way to spread a love of the rosary and for prayer through modern children’s art. I want those paintings to reflect joy and beauty, because joy and beauty are a reflection of who God is and a reflection of faith, hope and our Heavenly home.
    For me personally, I feel close to God when I am creating. It’s usually a time of tremendous peace and consolation, where I feel close to His Heart, and I crave it.
    I also have limitations as an artist, so many times I’m like “ok God, how do you want me to do this? How can I make this thing come to life?” and I have to wait on Him for that inspiration.”
    Heather, Illustrator, painter, and maker at Honeychild Forest 
    “I wanted items for my own children to help them connect to their own name saints. I wanted something beautiful and heirloom quality. Not finding exactly what I was looking for, I realized I would have to make it. So I launched my online custom shop. And it’s been so fun! I’ve grown my skills over the past couple of years and was able to make and take a Father Solanus Casey doll with us and the kids when we went to his beatification mass in Detroit. While I make other items than just saint dolls, (I also focus on items that are literary or emphasize the beauty & magic of childhood), I pray over my family, friends & church while I work. I truly believe that by embracing the artist God made me to be, I am living a prayer of praise to Him.”
    Marcy Kelleher, Doll maker, felt florist, seamstress, and fiber artist at Marzipantz Shop
    “My faith lead me to art and, in return, my art returns me to my faith. For most of my life I’ve thought of being an artist as impractical, a poor career move, too big of a risk &, even, foolish. And yet, painting is what brings me clarity & solace so it always hovered on the periphery of my life. It took not being able to find a job to finally commit to my artistry. When there were no other options I was invited to make art. And I finally took my gift seriously. My fears slowly turned into faith and trust that this was the next step. This was, after all, a gift I was given how could I not use it? And now that I am using it, I am more prayerful & spiritual than ever before. Owning & building a business is incredibly hard work. It demands structure, time, education, consistency, resilience & self-worth. My faith allows me to overcome each hump of self-doubt I come across on the journey. I am an artist because I believe.”
    Christy M. Johnson, Art therapist, artist, and illustrator
    “My faith is EVERYTHING to me as an artist! It is my constant inspiration, my rock and it keeps me grounded in my creativity. God is ALL beauty and goodness and I am in constant awe of what an AWESOME artist He is. I bubble up with happiness whenever I am creating something that will point others towards Him.”
    Carla Quigley, Painter, jewelry maker, woodworker, hand letterer, and teacher at Religious Art by Carla Q
    “For me this is very much a Chicken-Or -the-Egg question. My faith is what opens my eyes to beauty around me and makes me hungry to add to that beauty… And then it is also my work as an artist that trains my eye and my heart to seek and recognize beauty in all of creation. Obviously my Morse Code necklaces carry meaningful messages, but the way I see it, even plain beaded earrings add to the beauty in this world and help to make someones day brighter. It is my faith first and foremost that makes bringing those brighter days the goal of my work.”
    Theresa Barger, maker and crafter at Apple and Azalea
    “St. John Paul the Great encouraged artists to be “custodians of beauty” and “heralds and witnessed of hope for humanity.” My greatest joy in my art is giving light and hope that reflects the love of God I have been so graciously given.”
    Artist at Southfarthing Studio
    “I pray often while making each piece that I sell. I pray for the artist who designed the fabric I am using, and I pray for the consumer who will buy and use the piece. That’s why I feel like my products are still “Catholic” in nature because of all of the little prayers that goes on behind the scenes.”
    Alexandra Lemke, seamstress at The Lemke Lodge
    “A few years ago, I stopped painting commission work and decided I wanted to create art that was important to me; art that could be used to hand down the Faith. The Church holds so much inspiration, depth and importance. Now all of my work is built around my Faith and sitting down with the Creator Spirit is the best part of my job.”
    Kourtnee Senn, painter at Studio Senn
    “I love making the faith “touchable.” I think embracing beauty with all our senses is so important—we are after all physical creatures. I love using my hands to make something beautiful that will help someone else more fully embrace their faith.”
    Megan Reusz, crafter at The Cozy Wife
    “My art is based on bringing the Sacred into the midst of the ordinary. I am continually inspired by the lives of the Saints and the Word of God, and work to bring quotes to life in a way that is practical and useful. Resting in God renews my creative spirit.”
    Elayne Miller, Hand letterer and artisan at Annunciation Designs