Learning to Lean In & Love Your Whole Story

Since February is the month of LOVE, I thought I’d continue following the calendar (albeit a Hallmark calendar) and share a lesson I recently learned about leaning into and loving my whole story.

Please tell me you have had those situations, those projects, those life lessons that can’t stop providing teachable moments?

Some of them pushing you to the brink of your adult self…as in making you want to break down into a full on tantrum and throw something breakable against the brick wall you keep hitting? I definitely got reintroduced to my inner three year old self several months ago by a painting I was working on!

I was very much aware during the process that this would go down as the painting that taught me so much! (#&*$%! honestly not some of my proudest moments)

My dear Mom, who is an amazing artist, stopped by one afternoon and talked me out of throwing it into the trash. My Baby Girl (she’s 22 and among the uber-talented in our clan) FaceTimed in from Minneapolis and cheered me on. (No pressure here in the presence of greatness to do something beautiful- ha ha ha ha!)

I finished it. It look nothing like I envisioned. It looked absolutely nothing like the photo that inspired it. But I finished it.

All I could see were the mistakes and awkward places of struggle when I looked at it.

Here is it like a teenager trying (and dying) to grow beyond being uncomfortable and stiff in its unfinished body.


In an attempt to see where I could fix it, I stepped back and squinted, which my art instructor says you’re suppose to do when looking for places that will make a painting sing. All I could hear was shrieking (and all I can vainly think about when squinting is that I am choosing to deepen my “squinkles”).  Honestly, the squinting didn’t help.

It needed to just be finished. I needed to be finished with it.

It was my lesson in letting go for the love of learning without the fear of screwing up the perfect picture in my head.

It was my lesson of embracing the places of beauty on the canvas for the way the colors played with each other when I got lost in the moment.

It was my lesson of beauty in the accidental patterns of a brush momentarily free from a tight grip.

It was my reminder that mixed in with the places of struggle and mistakes are the beautiful, the unpredictable, the holy moly that’s amazing places when you get a sneak peek into something that fills your heart to the brim and beyond!


When I started to notice these places of beautiful detail, I couldn’t bare to think of throwing all I had learned into the trash (I also didn’t want to hang it up in my living room-ha). I began to absolutely love the details in places of freedom right along with the details in places of mistakes and struggle.

That’s how it is with our stories, isn’t it?

It’s in the places of mistakes, struggle and pain that beauty gets mixed in and things we couldn’t see before actually lead us to being more whole and more free.


Our places of challenge and pain are personalized invitations to keep painting, to keep putting color on the canvas of our story.

Learning to let our messiness be part of the picture and leaning into our struggles with reverence and awe potentially allows them to become some of our most instructive moments of His love and grace come down to save us.

Without them, we might never get to moments of real freedom when we are fully who we were created to be. (#SOULTATTOO)

So rather than throw the painting in the trash, I had my hubs cut it up. Yes I did, with big power tools.


I wanted to soak in what I had learned in all those beautiful details of struggle and freedom. I just wanted to hold each piece and soak in all that each one had to teach me.




Let it all be art, Sweet Friend.  Let it all be part of the bigger story He is telling through your story, your whole story, not just the perfect picture you had envisioned in your head.


Each detail, nothing ever wasted…with reverence and awe.


Holy, hidden truth and beauty in all the details of your life, all of them.


Lean into the struggles and listen for the hidden treasure being offered to you.


Can I tell you how much I have completely enjoyed each of these little creations?

They speak volumes to my heart about how His masterful, creative love is being painted on my canvas, about how each and every part of my story has a particular beauty of its own (yes, even the hardest parts).

If you find yourself in a place of needing a little reminder that your life and all of its details are inviting you discover deeper truth and treasure, I’d love to give one of these tiny paintings to you. Yeah, my gift to you. Just use the contact form to send me the address of your abode and I will pop one of these little treasures in the post straight away!

My hope is that you will place it where it will catch your eye as you come and go. My prayer is that it will remind you are deeply loved, that your life matters- each and every chapter of it, especially the places of pain, failure, fear and struggle. I pray that you will lean in to find His hidden, holy gifts and beautiful treasure that is waiting for you in those tender places.

XO Annie

PS There are a limited number of mini-masterpieces so please don’t delay in letting me know if you would like one.  When they are gone, well, they’re gone 😉 – until I paint another instructive painting! XO

PSS If you’re spending time discovering your beautiful #SOULTATTOO, take a little time to ask yourself where your Character Strengths maybe have been covered up by some of life’s rough patches. Be kind to yourself because this is a pretty common occurrence. Maybe you can get some clarity on the invitation to step back into your Character Strengths and live more fully out of your#SOULTATTOO?


2 thoughts on “Learning to Lean In & Love Your Whole Story

  1. Beautiful, Annie! The beauty is in learning to embrace every aspect of one’s life. The good times, the hard times, the wise decisions and the not so wise decisions. The beauty is in the realization that who we are at this very moment is made up of all the mini-masterpieces and all the trashed canvases. The beauty is in accepting our colorful journey and God’s gifts of grace and mercy as we progress into our soul tattoo strengths while understanding our weaknesses. The beauty is in allowing our Lord to show us who He created us to be. Our unique soul tattoo is an expression of colors, textures and designs and is a living masterpiece that cannot be contained, longing to be shared with love and humility.

    ( I would love to have one of your mini-masterpieces!)


    1. Beautifully said, Joette! I know your journey has been full of much beauty and grace through valleys and on mountain tops! Your name is on a little piece of art- coming your way, Sweet Friend!


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