I tend to get many of the same questions over and over again. For this reason, I’ve set up this FAQ page, answering some of the more frequently asked questions for me and for Thoughts and Designs. I’ve also linked to posts, where applicable, that answer these questions in more detail.

Did I miss anything? Let me know using my contact page, or contact me via social media.


Why did you originally start this site (as JoyfulMomma.org)?

Originally, I started the site as “Joyful Momma” as a place to write and share my thoughts on motherhood in particular and the Christian life in general.

Writing about life, I have found, seems to affect life in a way. I found that the more I wrote about things, the more I honed in on what I really believed, and why I believed it.

Why Thoughts & Designs?

I wanted to come up with a name that bridged both aspects of what I do, as a writer and an artist. I finally settled on Thoughts and Designs because I feel it sums up who I am and what I do on this site.

Have your views on different issues changed much over the years?

Yes and no.

I really am passionate about encouraging moms to enjoy the journey, but also taking the time to really help and guide your kiddos as they learn to navigate this world. I think when I was starting out, I had a more idealistic, ueber conservative view on many things.

I like things black and white, but perhaps with the wisdom of age, I’ve come to see that it’s not always so simple.

I’ve been frustrated at people who, for example, take the Bible out of context and beat their kids or treat them in an unkind dehumanizing way. This hurts my heart for the kids themselves, for the parents who are missing out on the joy of parenting, and for those who look on and think that Jesus condones this.

I’ve come to realize that most people who go off on tangents are losing sight of the most important part of serving God, and that’s not what church you go to, what version of the Bible you read, what kind of clothes you wear, what sort of school your kids go to, and what political party you belong to.

No, the most important part of serving God is Loving God and Loving the People He has made.

the most important part of serving God is Loving God and Loving the People He has made Click To Tweet

Now, that loving of God will cause us to change how we live, and it will prompt us in different directions perhaps than what we were on before. God leads His dear children along, as the song goes. As long as we are seeking Him in prayer and Bible study, and we are focused on loving Him and loving those He has made, we’re not going to go off and, say, join a militia in rural Idaho or live in a cave avoiding people, as tempting as it may be at times.


You’re clearly a really organized person…right?

Er, No.

I am pretty obsessive about organizational things because I’ve learned over the years that, in order to get things done, I need to build in some discipline and order into my life. I also have learned that what works for others may or may not work for me. I had to come up with a way to order my life in such a way that I personally am able to be as productive as possible.

Note, I didn’t say “as productive as I want to be”. Sadly, as I wrote about in Quiet Times in Loud Households, there is not enough hours in the day to do everything we feel we should do, everything we want to do, and everything we get suckered into doing. It’s true.

How do you find the time for….?

Whenever I’m asked how I find the time for something I do, I am aware in an instant that when you say yes to one thing, you say no to something else. If you don’t personally have the time to do (name something I do that you don’t), that doesn’t mean I am more organized or that I have more hours in my day. It simply means that I am saying no to some things that you are saying yes to, so that I can say yes to something else.

For example, I’ve give up on being suzy homemaker because at some point I realized that the time spent making my house sparkle wasn’t nearly as important to me as other things (GASP! I know, right?). My house is reasonably clean and kept, but most of you would probably put me to shame in this area. I’ve chosen to accept my limitations in this area and move on. I try not to spend longer than an hour on any housework other than cooking (which I enjoy).

We all make choices based on what’s important to us. I’ve written about this more in a series of posts on focusing on what is really important to you.

You talk about the seasons of life often. How have those seasons affected your life?

Well, right now, looking back, I can see it so clearly, for better and for worse. When you are a new mom with one or more babies or toddlers, the days are super long. What we don’t realize at that moment is that though the days are long, the years are short. That season, the one where you have babies and toddlers, only feels like it lasts 2 million years. Really, that’s the sleep deprivation talking.

for more, I wrote this one about five years ago: Are Stay at Home Moms Burying their Talents?

Do You have Any regrets?

You can’t really do anything with them. I guess I’ve had to come to accept that most of my regrets come from things that were used of God to shape me into a better person.

There are two regrets I do have that I really do wish I had done differently.

  • I wish I would have chosen my battles wisely, and been more compassionate in different times in my life. I was very black and white on many issues, and as you grow older, you realize that life is not so neatly packaged, as your idealism wishes it was. As I mentioned earlier, you really can’t go wrong with focusing on loving God and loving the people He has made, and filtering all of the extra twaddle of life and faith through those two commandments.
  • I wish I would have learned earlier that just because someone you respect is giving you advice, it doesn’t mean that this advice is the best thing for you at this time, even if they are someone who generally gives good advice.


What’s the hardest part of being a writer and artist?

I would have to say, Being Consistent no matter how you are “feeling” at the moment.

Consistency is hard, no matter the topic 🙂

As an artist, I don’t share everything I create, because there’s sketchbooks and journals, and then there are masterpieces. For the longest time, I shared absolutely everything I created, and I realized while at the museum that most of “the greats” didn’t do that. They even painted over some old pictures so as to not waste the canvas.

I have recently been reading DaVinci’s journals and sketchbooks, and this has made me even more aware of the value of simply drawing and creating, for no reason and with no thought of who may one day see it, or what you might “earn” off of it. I try to draw regularly (pretty much every day), just as a matter of discipline. I find that drawing even while I’m not “inspired” makes me more creative and productive, even if I’m not sketching out anything in particular.

As far as being a writer, I think the hardest part, for me, is reaction to what I write. The periods when I’ve gone silent for a long period was usually prefaced by some kind of discouragement or frustration.

One time that stands out to me in particular, I was writing a series on my time backpacking around Europe, and I forget what I was specifically writing about, but I used the word “ex-patriot”. Well, I got hammered in comments and email. Ex-patriot means “someone living abroad” and does not mean “I hate my country”. Apparently very few people knew that, judging from the angry messages.  Having spent lots of time as an ex-patriot, I thought everyone knew what an expat was… Clearly not. 

I also find it hard, as a writer, to balance writing about something that is going on and using discretion, especially when it comes to talking about my family. My husband is always like, “oh you should write about this happening…” and then after we talk it over (because I use him to bounce ideas off and talk through them), we usually decide that in some ways that cute antidote about a child is fun to share in the family, but not really something you want the whole world to know, out of respect to her and whoever may Google her name one day as she applies for a job somewhere.

Do you have a process for creating art or ebooks then?

My creative process varies based on whether it’s a client project or just something I wanted to do. It can be summed up in each of these articles

Do you draw with the computer or with a pencil most of the time?

Both. For a while, after I got back to art after the season of extreme mothering (5 kids in 6 years, you guys), I enjoyed getting to know the new programs that were out and playing around with all of the cool buttons. I’m ADHD like that.

You can read more about my sketching process here, and why I choose to use pencils before computer programs.

Did you know that Adobe Illustrator has an Auto-Trace Button?

Yes, but I still use the pen tool.

Trace is great for small items that have very little detail. However, I have learned the hard way that it’s better to create a vector shape properly the first time around, rather than take a short cut the first time, and be frustrated every time you try to use that shape thereafter.

Most of the shapes I use, especially the icons I’ve created for this site, for example, I’m going to use over and over again. I’d be wise to take the time the first time around. I find that, on most imported things, the trace feature creates more work than it saves.