inspiration

Being a guest on “Blessed Are the Feminists” podcast

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A few weeks ago, the kind folks at the “Blessed Are the Feminists” podcast invited me to be a guest, and talk about my experiences with Christian feminism, having LGBTQ faith and being a gay Christian mama.

It was such a great conversation, and I think, so important to have right now! The episode aired Sept 1, and can be heard on their website here. Or look them up on iTunes & Spotify to subscribe! Follow them on instagram & twitter @holyfeminists!

Here’s a few tweets they put out about my episode:

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“Dear Younger (gay) Me” Book Update

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My agent Claire and I have been working hard on this for the last few weeks, and hopefully soon I will have more news to share!

This project has just poured out of me, like a pitcher full of water finally being emptied. In my 18 years as an artist, I have never quite had that feeling before. Usually I struggle with getting what’s in my head onto the page/screen. I’m really excited to finish it, and for everyone to get the chance to read it! I have a lot more work [drawing] to do, but I feel so incredibly grateful to work on it every chance I get. Here are the latest illustrations I have done – they will make more sense with the text. 🙂

Stay tuned for the full story and publishing updates!

LGBTQ Story Illustrations for OnePioneer

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I was asked to illustrate a little story for this great organization OnePioneer, who gives LGBTQ+ kids the same experience at camps as the other kids. Growing up in a very conservative Christian summer camp [which I loved!], I understand how important this is, especially now.

To read the full story written by Michelle Dowling and Emma Silverthorne, click here! See below the illustrations in order of how they appear in the story. I love doing little projects like this!

 

Exciting news – I got an agent!

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Friends, I have some really exciting news!

A couple years ago, after listening to a particularly motivating Super Soul Sunday, the message was “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

So I went into my office, and wrote these three dreams that were hidden in my heart on a piece of paper:

1 – I will support my family through my art.

2 – I will help people and share my truth with my art.

3 – I will illustrate and publish kids books.

I signed it, and tacked it up in the corner of my little office at home, in a place where I would always see it when working at the computer.

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Last Thursday early morning, I sent out my art and book idea to a few places, following some inner motivation that I couldn’t shake. By Thursday afternoon, to my utter disbelief, I had two offers of representation from agencies in New York City.

After talking to both agencies on the phone and email, and getting over the shock at their enthusiasm to work with ME (??!), I had a really great problem in front of me. Thank you to my inner circle of friends (and of course Tams!) who helped make this decision clear.

This morning I signed a contract with Claire Draper from The Bent Agency in NYC, and I could not be more excited.

This feels like the beginning of a whole new road for me and for my family. To everyone I have ever worked with, or call a friend, thank you for always believing in me!

Let’s do this!!

Working on “Dear Younger (gay) Me”

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Hi friends! Life is sooooooo busy [Mamas & Papas raise your hands!] but I am continuing to move forward on this book project. I don’t know what will happen, but I feel it in my bones that I just gotta do it.

Here’s an illustration that will be for the inside.

If anyone needs/wants a reminder of why I am writing this, read my original announcement here. I will also post my cover again to see the art together.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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Inktober 2018

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It took me into November – BUT I DID THEM ALL YOU GUYS! With two kids and lotsa work, this was a flippin’ feat.

All sketches done on a Moleskine sketchbook, using a mix of pentel brush pen, pigma liners, colerase pencils, pencil crayons and markers. Click to enlarge any of them to see larger.

Thanks for following along! 🙂

My “Stranger Things” Golden Book

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I love Netflix’s “Stranger Things”. Who doesn’t? And I love Golden Books. So I thought, why not combine them for a fun exercise??

I tried to work my way through Season 1 [with full-time work and a toddler], so I only made 10 pages so far. With the new baby coming, I will pause this for now, but hopefully will come back to finish it later. It’s been fun to do!

See what I have so far: [all pages done digitally in Photoshop]ep01_a.jpg

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Stay tuned for more! 🙂

My story for Dark Glass Theatre’s “Trespass”

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Instructions for a life:


Pay attention. 

Be astonished. 

Tell someone. 

I grew up in a large Pentecostal church, baptized days after being born. God and Jesus were always a huge part of my life.

My youth was full of Christian conventions, church summer camps and Friday night youth groups. I always believed the church was my family, and they would love me no matter what, because that’s what I was taught. I loved every aspect of growing up in the church…

Until I realized in my late teens that I may be gay.

From the age of 17 to 29, I encountered hurt, neglect, shame, loneliness and guilt from my church family. Sadly not an uncommon story, what had been my refuge since birth, became a dark place that made me question everything.

I began to hate myself and my futile prayers. Without ever having to say it, they made me believe I had to choose: embrace God, or be damned, and embrace this capital Sin.

I clearly remember sitting in my room at 18 years old, writing in my prayer journal and sobbing. After dodging this struggle as long as I could, I finally turned my head to look it square in the face.

Everyone was right. I was the worst of sinners. And no amount of prayer was changing that.

How could I be attracted to women? I grew up around all the right people, in the perfect Christian environment, with a loving mother and father to guide me. I was so involved at church and I loved it. I loved Jesus genuinely, and my family fiercely – and now I felt as though they couldn’t love me if I embraced being gay.

Hope began to dwindle.

Hope continued to dwindle for 13 years, where I had some of the most severe lows, and intoxicating highs, as I trudged along the messy path of my faith and sexuality. My faith was truly tested in every possible way. I was forced to ask myself  – and God – questions that I never would have, if I was straight.
What a gift, actually, that turned out to be.

Pay attention. 

Be astonished. 

Tell someone.

My relationships with family and friends went through some extreme ups and downs, and I made some bad choices motivated by hurt and loneliness.

Yet through it all, I felt God softly standing beside me, gently pursuing me, and not allowing despair to take a full hold. Deep down I always knew He created me for more than this chaos I was feeling.

A few weeks before my 30th birthday, I was coming very close to the end of my rope, and I knew I had to make a choice.

I had been dating this amazing woman named Tammy for seven years, yet so much of my life was in the closet, and up in the air. I lived with constant chaos rolling around in my soul, and I didn’t see how I could ever be okay with being both gay and a Christian — never mind be gay-married. It wasn’t fair to her any longer, and I had to make a decision to either end things or move forward.

A friend asked me to housesit, and I knew this was my chance to spend a week alone with God.

As I peeled back the layers of hurt, chaos and confusion of the last 13 years, I wept, and I asked God the impossible one last time.

Can You truly still love me if I love the gay part of myself?

Will you turn Your back, or will You be in the middle of our relationship, if I take the hand of the one I love, and walk forward in this life with her?

Will I ever possibly feel peace?

The answers were not was I was expecting — and they were not what everyone was telling me they would be. It was in that moment that I realized something vital. I had been listening to God’s people for 13 years – but what did God Himself have to say to me?

I waited, and I listened… and I sat there in the stillness.

I felt inside my soul, bubbling to the surface, a deep, resounding YES.

YES, I LOVE ALL THAT I MADE YOU TO BE.

YES, a thousand times over, YES.

And more than that – none of your struggle will be wasted.

I

Felt

Peace.

A peace that began to wash over me like waves, consuming the shores of chaos and washing them away, layer by layer.

I didn’t get written answers, or theological clarity — but I got peace. A peace that has not wavered since that day.

One year later, Tams and I got married. Our wedding day was not at all as I imagined it as a young girl. For one, I wasn’t marrying a shaggy-haired youth pastor, I was marrying a woman.

Secondly – my parents chose not to be there. I never thought I could look back on my wedding day with the profound void of my parents absence, and be truly happy.

But let me tell you my friends, God was there. And He filled that void so completely. I remember turning the corner to walk down the aisle, and I saw Tams waiting there for me – my heart burst, because I truly felt God saying to me – this is who I have made for you. I never believed that could have been possible. I am astonished. When I think back on that day, I just feel love.

I stand before you now, seven years later, at 37 years old, married to my beautiful Tams since 2011. We have a 19 month old daughter named Robson, who is our consistent beam of light, and we are pregnant with our second – a boy, due in just a few short days.

Profound gratefulness fuels my life. 

I can say today that I am wholly myself, in true contentment, and embracing this life God has given me.

It hasn’t been easy since that peace flooded my soul – but it is a continual well in which I draw from, to make it through the tough times.

There are still people close to me, including my parents, who do not agree, and that is hard… but it is okay. We can disagree. I know some people see my gift of peace as the moment when I gave into my sin. But this moment when people believe I walked away from God, is in fact the moment that I ran towards Him.

This is God’s story, and I am just trying to live it out. I believe that He will redeem it all one day; and I just need to leave that up to Him.

Pay attention. 

Be astonished. 

Tell someone.

This poem by Mary Oliver resonates deeply as I reflect on my life journey so far.

Pay attention. Because of the turmoil that God has brought me through, I am forced to pay attention to the gifts in my life that I will no longer take for granted. My daughter’s embrace is that much sweeter. Holding my wife’s hand in public is that much more profound.

Be astonished. When I have tough encounters with the ones I love, and they do not cheer my relationship or family on – I am grieved. But God gives me such a quiet and beautiful peace to be still, and trust Him. My heart remains soft. And that makes me truly astonished.

Tell someone. When God gave me this peace, I promised Him I would share His story. That is why I embrace it proudly. I believe I have been called to share my truth, to live authentically – and to leave the rest to Him.

What a true gift it is to be heard.

Thank you for listening.

Robson-inspired sketches

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Since I have been home taking care of Robson the last few months, AND trying to keep up with my full-time gig – doing any additional sketching seems like a pipe dream! BUT… once in a while, I am able to carve out a precious hour or two to do some art for myself.

Here are a few I have done so far:

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Robson in the Woods admiring the trees as she does on our daily walks. 🙂 [digital]

 

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Robson running around with multiple sweaters all day. Sometimes she wears 3 at a time. 🙂 [digital]

 

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Robson and I go to the same park almost every day near our house. I love looking at this massive tree that reminds me of a mysterious cave. I finally drew it from memory. 🙂 [digital]

“Downside Up” book is for sale NOW!

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This is exciting news for me! The book that my friend Peter Walker wrote, “Downside Up”, and I have illustrated for almost two years is for sale on Amazon NOW! It is also available in Barnes & Noble bookstores in the States! You can buy it Amazon.com or Amazon.ca 🙂 And if you like it, please feel free to leave a review!

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This is the first project that I have worked on that I have fully been able to combine my art and my faith, and I am so excited it is available for purchase! It’s also the first published book I have illustrated 🙂

Feel free to like the Facebook page for more updates! Here is a synopsis of the book: “A picture book for grown-ups! Satire and humor in rhyme and verse about Jesus, the church, and what’s gone wrong! Is there any reason for hope?”

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A couple teaser illustrations:

The front and back covers: