Apr 16, 2014

How big is my brave?

When I stated taking a class in hand-lettering, that phrase (the title of this post) stood out to me. So I used it for my first project.



Little did I know how that phrase would pop up in so many areas of my life. So let's rewind a bit before I tell you where all this is going.

A long while back, I learned about an awesome organization, Love146, through social media. To say the stories impacted me would be just about the biggest understatement one could make. My eyes were ripped wide open to a truth about human-trafficking I'd never known. I was devastated, angered, to be completely honest, hopeless. How could people be so cruel. So sick and ugly. How could this be happening. Where was God in all of this?

I immediately knew I needed to do something. Spread awareness. I wrote a bit about it here on the blog. I donated money to Love146. My heart ached for the girls that were hurt by such trauma. I wanted to do more.

But what?

I looked into several organizations who's purpose was to end sex-trafficking, to bring healing to the victims. I looked for something to either give my time or energy to in an effort to feel like I was doing something. I wanted to be more than a voice. And I really wanted that voice to champion healing through Jesus. Because I don't know how anyone could get over that life without hope in Jesus and healing found only in Him.

Fast forward to almost two years later.

My mom took my sister and I out to dinner to celebrate our birthdays. We talked about a little of this, a little of that, laughter, jokes, and then my sister all nonchalantly, said, hey, I'm going to Africa next year. You should go.

Say what?!

My sister was going to Africa.

I feel like I should talk about our childhood when she wanted to be an astronaut. I hated it. I didn't want her going on a freakin rocket into outer space. I was also a child of the Challenger days. So it was really, really not cool that she wanted to do that.

And now she's telling me she's going to Africa! I rather that than a space shuttle but it was still scary.

Then she went on to tell us about what they would be doing in Ghana. This friend of ours, Denise, created EveryDay Ministry after she took a trip to Ghana. You can read more about her story and the mission here. But in short, they provide water wells to villages that don't have access to clean water and are partners with two organizations that provide rescue care to girls freed from slavery. And they do all of that to open the door to share the Gospel.

And this upcoming trip my sister planned on going on and invited me to go with her on, was to serve in one of the houses providing the rescue care. I think I started crying when she said that.

I thought about that trip a little here and there and how it would be amazing to go. I also kind of pushed it aside not thinking I'd ever realistically go.

Then, a few months later, I was at church. The preacher was a guest speaker and talked about fear. He asked the question, what's the one thing you would do if you had NO fear and KNEW that God was behind you? Ghana immediately came to mind. I hadn't thought about it weeks and then BAM.

I thought about the fears I had keeping me from realistically thinking about going. Being away from my family for 10 days. I've only really not seen them for an entire day. 10 days is a long time. Going to Africa. Same fears I had for my sister but now for myself too. What if something happened to me? What if I didn't come back? What about my kids? What if something happened to my family while I was gone? And I wasn't there. What about the money? I didn't know how much a trip like that would cost but I imagined it had to be expensive. We don't have that kind of money. Who would watch the girls while I was gone? Was I ready for my heart to be wrecked and changed because you can't do something like this and it not change you. What if...

So all these fears. Holding me back. Stopping me from doing something I had asked God to give me. When I asked God nearly two years ago to help me find a way to do more than give money or be a voice to help end human trafficking - I had no idea He'd ask me to go to Africa and now here I was, struggling to say yes.

And then my grandpa died. It was unexpected and I haven't shared about it here because I don't have the words yet. But it's an important part to this story because it made me realize how short our time is on this Earth and if God tells you to do something, it's a good idea to say yes. Not because God needs you. But because you need it and you may not get another chance to say yes.

So I began praying about it more. And then my sister asked me to go with her to a pre-trip meeting for Ghana. I listened to more facts and felt God even more. Urging me to say yes but still wresting with questions and fears.

And then I thought, how big is MY brave? Or better asked, how big is my FAITH?

So. To sum it up, I said yes to Africa. I said yes to God.

I'm going to Ghana in July.

It's so crazy to say that out loud. It's real. It's happening. Do I still have fears? Yes. But I'm trusting God and whatever happens, happens.

There's not much I can do about those fears aside from the money part. My family and friends have financially stepped up huge to help me and their support means more than they'll ever know. But there's still a good chunk I need to dome up with.

That's where you come in. I know there are a ton of organizations, causes and all kinds of things you can give your money to, but if you'd like to help send me to Africa - I'm going to be holding an fundraiser on instagram under the user @YESTOGHANAAUCTION, April 28th at 6pm, Central, where I'll be auctioning off chalk art hoops.

Remember those things we made in Arizona? I'm working on several different ones and hope to the final money needed for the trip. The highest bidders will be giving directly to EveryDay ministry for my part of the funds needed. I hope to see you there!

I'll keep you posted! But until then, please pray for me and my sister, our families while we prepare and safety while we travel.

Thank you!

Apr 11, 2014

10 on 10

Since I'm a serious blogger these days, yesterday was the 10th so there's this thing called 10 on 10 where you take 10 pictures throughout the day. My sweet friend, Rebekah (one of the awesome gals I met in Arizona) hosts this link up thing to share your tens.

Here are my 10.












6:30 - morning person like her daddy, morning hair like her mommy

8 - Thursday donut date with great-grandparents

11:30 - lunch with my ladies - because we were all craving Mexican food

12:30 - little window washers helping clean the old house

1:30 - taking pictures of the old house to list online

2:30 - dirty face from playing in the backyard while I took pictures inside

3:30 - picking up new prints from my printer man with a sleeping girl in the back while the other watches frozen 

4:30 - chicken duties

5:30 - watering the garden and kiddos

And 6:30 - dinner - quick and easy chicken salad sandwiches with a side of fruit



Happy Friday friends! For the fun of Friday and a new print in the shop - use code FRIDAYFUNDAY for 30% your total order from my shop. Ends at midnight.

Apr 8, 2014

Hope Spoken 2014!!



So.

Hope Spoken happened last weekend and I was asked to go as a small group leader. I must admit, as I did when they asked me, that I was feeling a bit under-qualified to lead a group of ladies in a small group setting especially at a conference with the majority of ladies attending coming from a faith-based background. But, regardless of my feelings of inadequacy, I said yes.

I'm so thankful I did.

I got to go on a mini road trip with my sister, who also happeed to be a small group leader and, ahem, is a speaker next year. Holla!



I am so thankful for our time together chatting on the drive there and back. And so thankful she asked me to be her roommate. She's solid gold, y'all.

And this is where I talk about coming down with a cold the day before. The weekend before Hope Spoken I took a trip to Arizona where I ran myself down. There was a two hour time difference and I stayed up way too late and go up way too early. Always a bad combo for my wellness. Enter the cold. I drank green smoothies out the wazoo and took some cold medicine to curb the runny nose, man voice, etc. What a great first impression I was about to make on some ladies!

Thankfully my sister thought it was kind of funny and really, by the first night's end, I was a little delirious, on all kinds of happy highs (as well as cold med highs) and everything was pretty funny.

unashamedly stolen from her instagram feed.

But man.

I was not ready for what God had in store for me the next day. I had been praying for my small group for months and when we met for the second time Saturday morning, my heart was broken. I was in awe of the truths and heartache the ladies shared in my group. I will go on record saying my ladies were the best. They were honest and ready for a movement.

It's funny how people seem so all together on the outside and then when you dig a little deeper, you see how we all may be different but so much the same.

Different struggles. Different trials. Different questions needing answered. Different hopes. Different fears. Different dreams.

But at the core.

We are all God's children and we can all have hope.

I knew right then and there that I wasn't chosen to be a small group leader to lead a group of women. I was chosen so that they could lead me.

I will never forget their stories, their tears or laughs. My group of ladies impacted me with a hope I've never been so sure of.

I went in to that conference with questions of my own. Hurt and pains that haunt me. Dreams that I don't even know how to think logically about because the questions and fears are so big. And for them, I'll forever be thankful.

I walked out of that conference with answered questions. A hope for the pain to go away. And dreams that may take time and sacrifice and new direction, but are maybe so much better than I ever imagined.

It was a conference I was so excited about going to. My first conference ever - not work related. And it set the bar pretty high.



Aside from the deep stuff, not that me on cold medicine is really deep. Haha. I met friends I'd only know online and dreamed of meeting one day because they inspire me so much. Women like Danielle, Casey, Lynsey, Joy, Crystal, Jami, Hannah, Jess, Cory, Jami, Laura and a lady I probably scared off with my teeny-bopper excitement to meet her, Shauna Niequist.

She gave an awesome talk on less busy. Something I needed to hear. An answer to a question.

More love. Less hustle.

So I made a print for myself to remind me daily of that.



And then I made unexpected friends in Kirby, Haverlee, Naomi, Sherry, Staey and my love, Kimberly.



Although the weekend started off in a daze of excitement, sickness, and nervousness, the end result what something by far more than I could have ever hoped for or dreamed it could be.



And let's take a minute to thank the donut people.

I

I may have eaten my weight in those.

So thank you Danielle, Casey and Emily. Thank you for putting your blood sweat and tears into such an amazing, God-filled weekend. I pray God's blessings pile upon you like never imagined.



And here's to next year. Because you know it didn't end with 2014!

Also. I'm so thankful to a husband that supports my crazy adventures and details my car while I'm gone - you rock.

And thankful that I came home to a sweet girl on her birth day!

Thank you mom and dad for helping out my husband while his wife was away two weekends in a row and for making a special dinner for a special girl for her 2nd birthday! Love you.

And happy 2nd to my babe.



And yes. I stole a balloon from the Hope Spoken decor. Well, I didn't really steal it. It was offered to me after I mentioned her birthday and that I was going home to celebrate her. So thanks, ladies, for letting me take a balloon to my girl. She loved it!

Apr 6, 2014

learning something new

Do not adjust your wireless frequency. You are in fact reading another post here today. I know this may come as a shock but I figured it might be fun to do a little catch up here and there and some things I've been working on and not blogging about.

Today I'm talking about hand-lettering.

My friend, Lori, encouraged me to take a class she had taken on Skillshare. Skillshare is a website that has online classes (extremely reasonably priced) in a variety of creative industries. I have taken and am currently enrolled in a few and have learned so much. The classes have lifetime access and you can watch the lessons on your own pace as many times as you like.

So anyway, back to Lori. I'm going to brag about her for a minute. Being in the creative industry and owning a shop, it's sometimes difficult to find people that aren't trying to compete with you and instead be an encouragement. Lori is the best encourager I've ever met, she's crazy talented and she gives me awesome critiques.

When she suggested the class on lettering, I was a little hesitant. I'd long admired others' lettering but didn't know where to begin.

That's where Mary Kate McDevitt comes in. She is a mega talented artist and works mainly in hand-lettering. I'm sure you've seen her work, even if you didn't realize it was her.

She is the teacher on the class Lori told me about. The class is, "The first steps to hand-lettering: concept to sketch."  The class doesn't really dive too much into creating actual letters but more about working through your concept, developing thumbnails and then digitizing your sketch in Illustrator. I loved the class. I have been using Illustrator and Photoshop for nearly 15 years and picked up some handy little tricks in the class.

All that to say, if you're interested in pursing hand-lettering and don't know where to start, take the class. It's only $20. And if you leave your email address in the comment section, I'll send you a $10 off code for your first Skillshare class! That's only $10!!

Now I'll show you what I've been working on since taking the class.

Project one: how big is your brave (funny fact - this quote has also become my accidental "word" for the year)




Project two: to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow



Then I did a little chalk art over at my sister's house and turned the initial concept into a chalk-art print: linger a little longer You can read her post about the quote here.




And then I was hired by Tulsa People, a local magazine, to do the artwork for a couple of feature articles! My art. In print.




I loved that I got to do artwork for the downtown issue since I used to live so close to downtown and fell in love with that part of town. So many great shops, restaurants, events and everything else you can imagine.

Here's where I insert a shameless plug. We just put the "for sale" on our adorable little midtown bungalow. If you're interested in living in super cute house 5 minutes from downtown, Utica Square and the Cherry St. Farmer's Market - just to name a few :) - email me at lesleyraez(at)gmail-dot-com.

Back to business.

And lastly, my latest: only Jesus can bring the awesome.


This came from attending Hope Spoken last weekend, more on that this week. There were these breakout speaker sessions and one of the ones I went to was The Fabulous Jami Nato. She's the funniest self-proclaimed-introvert I've ever met. Her words were encouraging and her story was amazing to see God working in the midst of heartache.

At one point she was talking about how people look up to others and think, "man, she's pretty awesome. I wish I were like her." Okay, don't quote that, but it's the gist. Then she went on to say how we should look at people and see Jesus in them and be more, "wow, I want to know her Jesus." Again, the gist. Then something along the lines of we don't bring the awesome - and you can quote her here because I wrote it down, "Only Jesus can bring the awesome."

I loved it and wanted it on my wall. So I did what any normal person that makes typographic prints would do, I hand-lettered that bad boy and made myself my own print.

So that's where I am right now. Very much an amateur in the whole hand-lettering biz but very much obsessed.

And I kind of enjoy seeing other artist's process so I've been making little videos and sharing them on instagram (@lesleyzellers) when I finish a print.

Here's the garden one:



And brave:



Thanks for all the encouragement you guys have shown me on the instagrams and in my shop. You're the best.

Also. I feel like I should say this post is not sponsored. I just love the classes and think some of you will too :)

Apr 4, 2014

Be Crafty Arizona - the ladies


Remember when I said I may blog twice this week. This is part two to my trip to Arizona for Be Crafty.

When I left Tulsa I was all ball of emotion. I've never flown by myself. I've flown many times, just never alone where I was responsible for everything. So there were some nerves there. Add in leaving my family for the weekend and missing them dearly with the excitement of seeing Amanda again and meeting new friends in actual real life that I've followed for years. Crazy mess of emotions.

I grabbed a coffee at the airport and smiled when the barista spelled my name right.


It's the little things folks. It took my mind off all the emotions I was feeling. But then the caffeine started taking effect. Now I was a jittery mess of nerves.

But then the craziest thing happened. I made it to Arizona and as soon as I saw Amanda waiting for me near baggage claim, all those crazy emotions were put to ease. We hugged, got my bags and then we met up with Kate (who I got to meet at the OK Be Crafty!) to head out to Sprinkles.


I've also never had a Sprinkles cupcake and they lived up to the hype.

It was so easy sitting and laughing with those girls. I had missed them and was so thankful to be with them again.

After we savored the cupcakes, it was time to head to dinner at Heather's.

I have followed Heather's blog and instagram for a while now. And here's a fun fact, she had me for a mug swap partner this past year.  So I felt like I knew her and couldn't wait to meet her in real life. Also, her house is just as cute an amazing as it looks through the screen.



After I digested the fact that Arizona homes don't have grass and instead have rocks in their front yards - it's a dessert y'all, I walked in to Heather's amazing house and was greeted by so many ladies I have to admire and love through social media. Isn't it a weird thing? Going through life and meeting people online, connecting through blogs or pictures of lives, texting or emailing about little nothings and creating a friendship without having shared a cup of coffee in real life?!

 




Anyway. I had been waiting a long time to finally meet some of the ladies there but I also got to make new friendships with girls I'd never met. I am so thankful I got the opportunity to hang out with these ladies in person. They were all just as I imagined. Better actually.








I finally got to meet my girl, Katy. Our friendship begin years ago after I stalked Katy when I found out she was my first mug swap partner. We connected over coffee, kids and we both have etsy shops and now we're real life friends. Katy is good people.


I wish I could talk about each lady because they were all so wonderful but I'm just getting back to this whole blogging thing so - I'm going to stop while I'm ahead. But just know,  Leigh, Ruth, Rebekah, Heather, Annalea, Kim, Amanda, Cole, Katy and Kate - you ladies are so beautiful inside and out. I'm so thankful for our short time together. And Lauren! Thank you for the amazing photos you captured and your sweet little self. You rock.

Maybe it was the full heart from a blessed weekend or the excitement to hold my family again but thankfully, the trip home was much easier.

Until next time Arizona.

Apr 1, 2014

Be Crafty Arizona - FREE SWAG

Oh hey! I'm blogging today. I know it's been a while and I have so much spinning around in my head after back-to-back amazing weekends of traveling so bear with me as I try to sort it all out.

Today I'm talking about Be Crafty and it's going to be full of all kinds of pretty and if you stick around for the whole thing, you just might walk away with a bag full of swag! And you never know, I just may blog again this week (insert ghost emoji here).

Remember a while back when I posted about Be Crafty for the first time? You can read about it here. Well, that same great Amanda asked me to join her again for a workshop in Arizona hosting alongside Heather, Cole, Katy and Kate! How could anyone say no to that? I know I can't and thankfully the husband said yes too.

I have never been to Arizona before and I may have gone a little overboard with the pictures I took of all the huge cacti. It's cacti right? Not cactuses? Anyway, the weather was amazing, the people was so friendly and the whole weekend was a dream. Safe to say Arizona has a new fan.



So let's talk about the actual event. I must say. Amanda constantly amazes me with her decorating vision. We were able to transform a room in the Old Main building at Arizona State University into beauty. But it would not have been possible without the help of some AMAZING event sponsors donating their gorgeous products: Barberry and Lace, CupcakeMag and Junk in the Trunk Vintage.


The day kicked off with a photo booth outside for all the guests to get pictures with their friends. Let me tell you. That chalk backdrop was a beast painting, seasoning and drawing on, but I'm so happy how it turned out and the paper fans from made it so fun. Also fun. The fine people of Hello Apparel providing us the hostesses with awesome shirts for the day!





Once the ladies made their way in they were greeted by a stairway of swag.

Let me take a moment to share about the swag. Heather painted canvas bags for each lady, Cole made felt flowers that served as name tags and Sweet Lulu (10% off with code crafty) sent honeycomb balls for each bag. They were amaing.



And inside each bag...


  1. this little light - print // Pretty Girl Designs // IG @prettygirldesigns // 20% off Code: BECRAFTYAZ until April 30th
  2. poms // Steph Loves Ben  //  IG @stephlovesben
  3. thank you card set // Lori Danelle  // IG @loridanelle
  4. notecard // Kate Eschbach //  IG @songskatesang


  1. felt fetti // Benzi  //  IG @benzidesign
  2. everyday is an adventure print // IG @katykristin  // 20% off Code: BECRAFTYAZ until April 30th
  3. earrings // Barberry & lace // IG @barberry_and_lace
  4. hello friend mini cards // Pen and Paint  //  IG @PEN_AND_PAINT


  1. free prints // Printic 
  2. my mom snaps book // My Mom Snaps //  IG @prettygirldesigns  // 20% off Code: BECRAFTYAZ until April 30th
  3. washi tape // Willow Washi // IG @willowwashi
  4. cloth bag filled with goodies // Inspire Lovely // IG @inspirelovely
  5. you are loved card // Give with Joy // IG @anetanina


  1. notebook - look familiar :) // Tiny Prints notebook - Recipe For Crazy print design  use code: BECRAFTY 25% off  // IG @lesleyzellers
  2. it is well print // Fancy That Design //  IG @fancythatdesign // 10% off Code: BECRAFTYAZ until April 30th
  3. fabric flags // Natalie Creates  // IG @nataliecreates
  4. earrings // Archetype Collective // IG @stefanie_morgan
Like I said, amazing! We are so thankful to all the sponsors that sent so many pretties to share with our ladies. You guys are awesome.

And guess what?! They all sent an extra item to give away to one of you! Go over to Amanda's post to enter to win your own swag bag!!

So awesome.




As for the craft projects, Amanda and I teamed up for a chalk art hoop craft. She led the way in wrapping quilting hoops with fabric then I jumped in to do a demo on some tips for stepping up your chalk art skills.



I passed out some little kits for the ladies and then we all got a little chalky.



And when you get a little chalky, you just may decide to bust a move with your completed project.


No? Just me? Okay.



And the hoops wouldn't have been possible without the chalk oilcloth from Modern June. Thank you so much!

Back to the other projects.

Amanda then shared tips on crepe paper flowers and all the different ways to make them to apply to an ampersand.




I took a break on this project because I did my fair share of crepe paper flowers when my sister got married. We made countless flowers for her wedding decorations. Good memories.

It is so fun to see all the different personalities of ladies come out in the same craft. Each with unique color combos, flowers, glitter or yarn, big flowers or teeny ones. So many amazing flowers were made.


And there was another project but I didn't get any pictures of it. Oops. But it was amazing too :)


And lastly, thank you to The Mason Bar Company for providing the cutest lids and straws for our ladies, Sucre + Confetti for gorgeous balloons and the AMAZING Lauren for capturing our event with the loveliest photography.

Whew. What a day. I am just so thankful I got to be a part of such a great day, meet so many amazing ladies and walk away with a full heart and great friendships. Be Crafty. You did it again.

An HEY! Don't forget to go enter Amanda's giveaway to get your own swag bag!