garden of my mind

a stroll through some blooming thoughts & weeds

what's love got to do with sun hats?

We had a beautiful evening under blue skies and I think everyone genuinely enjoyed themselves at last evening's script floppy hat workshop. It was so good. I was able to share a little bit about my story before we started crafting. I like to make analogies. its the teacher in me. I couldn't help but connect our wide brimmed sun hats with the hope I have in Jesus Christ.

 

In Ephesians we are told to put on the armor of God because life is a battlefield.  Boy, have I learned that. Eight years ago I had a very trying year; my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, my grandmother passed away, & I suffered from a traumatic miscarriage. I became very angry and consumed with sadness. I turned to flowers to give me something creative to keep my mind off of the hurt. That interest turned into a hobby and then turned into my business, ladybird. God redeemed my pain and gave me hope through his beautiful creation. Now, I am able to share with others how I got through one of the hardest times of my life by sharing my passion for flowers, plants, & crafts.

 

Then... this winter my father in law passed away at 61 from brain cancer and a few weeks later I had a second miscarriage. another horrific blow was dealt to my husband and I. Life is indeed a battlefield; from everyday troubles to larger tragedies. I used to think as a christian I should be immune from the pain and suffering of this world. but god showed me that everyone’s life on earth is promised to have heartache, not because of him, but because of sin. 

 

It could be very easy to curl up and not fight through these things. But the amazing thing is God offers us hope through Jesus Christ. He went through the ultimate suffering of death on a cross, when he was blameless, so that he could welcome us to an eternal place free from evil, pain, crying, and sadness one day. That is how loved YOU are. He has known our heartache and he gives us hope to make it through. That is the richest HOPE anyone or anything can offer us in this life. The only thing required of us is to simply believe in his promise. It is because of that promise that I am here today, to share this hope & courage I have found. It is the only thing I can cling to in my grief. so... love has everything to do with this little craft workshop.

As we make our sun hats tonight, let’s remember the shade of relief only He can offer us in the harsh heat of life. The bible doesn’t tell us to put on a sun hat as our armor for this earthly battlefield... but similarly, my hope is as you wear this hat by the pool or beach, you think of Jesus and his sacrifice so that we could have relief from all of this, just like your hat gives you some shade. You do not have to walk through suffering alone. He is available to you. All you need to do is put his love on.

If you are going through a tough time and need support, please email me. I would love to be able to encourage you. ladybirdshopette@gmail.com

 

 

Weddings with Ladybird

Name: Jacki Johnston
Name of business: Ladybird
Location: I work out of my home in Carmel, Indiana
Length of time in business: 2 years

How did you get started with Ladybird?

After having a miscarriage several years ago, I started playing with flowers every week to giving me something pretty and hopeful to take my mind off of it.  A few years later my college roommate asked me to DIY her wedding flowers at a beautiful vineyard in California. I did and absolutely loved it! Not long after that I was excited to see Martha Stewart Weddings pinned my first bouquet I did for that California wedding on their page! I decided then, with encouragement from friends, to start my business. (the Martha Stewart pinned bouquet... 

How did you come up with the name LadyBird?

There is a quote from former First Lady LadyBird Johnson, "where flowers bloom, so does hope" This means a lot to me. During a sad and lonely time of my life, flowers and nature were my way of remembering God's hope. That if He takes care of His beautiful creation, He will take care of me and be with me...  And that one day we will be with Him in a glorious place. Now I have two beautiful daughters, Lula and Goldie.  He has made and is making all things beautiful.

Who/what inspired you to become a florist?

My mother is always gardening and instilled her love of nature to me. When I lived in Texas, she had a yellow rose bush out back.  We used to cut roses from this bush and bring them to teachers and friends.  My grandmother was also a flower lover. She had huge fluffy peony bushes and bold iris bulbs at her 1860s era house. I've grown up on flowers. 

What are your favorite items to make (bouquets, flower crowns, etc.) and what is your favorite creation that you’ve made so far? 

This is so hard because I really love playing and creating flowers. Can I make it a tie? There are two events that stick out in my mind. 

1. I did a styled shoot with a great photographer a few summers ago in a sunflower field. We drove to a secluded field about two hours north of Indy and waded through chin-high weeds to a huge field covered in thousands of sunny sunflowers.  The model wore my mother's vintage boho wedding dress and I crafted a floral sun bonnet.  Besides getting bit by a hundred mosquitos, it was one of the most fun evenings I've had in the business. 

2. I worked with a really great bride who decided to get married at her future home with her husband.  It was a beautiful house with a brick pathway and cute lawn.. perfect for an intimate gathering of celebration.  She was great because she let me do my art without putting a ton of stipulations on me.  She told me her favorite flower (anemones) and color scheme and after meeting with her I got of sense of her impeccable style.  From then on I had the creative freedom.  It ended up being a cool, rainy October afternoon but that didn't stop her.  She told her guests to get out their umbrellas and continued with her big day.  

What flowers do you offer to your customers? What's your favorite flower combo? 

My favorite flowers are garden roses.  Their fragrance, petals, and colors are breathtaking. I also love a wildflower look so adding in things like thistle, feverfew, and lots of greenery to make the bouquets organic looking. I try to use as many local flowers as I can.  In the spring, I can source anemones, poppies, and ranunculus from an awesome flower farm a few miles away.  In the late spring or early summer, I use peonies from southern Indiana.  The local flower markets also bring in unique local flowers throughout the summer and into the fall that make me really proud to use product from hardworking flower neighbors. For flower crowns, I have to work with flowers I know will last so that limits a little bit. I love making flower crowns! 

How do you transport flowers to wedding venues and/or reception sites?

Right now I use my SUV and make multiple trips if need be, but I can also rent vans or trucks for larger scale events. 

How far will you deliver?

I have done weddings in California, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana... I will deliver and work anywhere.  I love to travel and see new places (of course there is a traveling charge) 
 

Do you offer consultations, and if so, do you charge for them?

I do offer complimentary consultations.  Typically when a bride first reaches out, I like to schedule a meeting for coffee to go over her needs and wants.  Then I create a proposal and we go from there.  If you are a bride searching for vendors, keep in mind as you begin to set up consultations, that our time is meaningful to us.  If you aren't serious about using us, don't lead us on. 

Can customers bring in designs they've seen on the internet or in a magazine for you to recreate?

Of course! I love to see what inspires the bride.  And that doesn't have to just be wedding pictures.  If you saw a scene in an anthro catalog or you and your fiance have a favorite book or hobby... all of this helps me visualize florals for your day.  As far as recreating, I will use images as inspiration, but like to put my own artistic vision into the pieces I create. I want your look to be unique. 

What is unique about you and your business that sets you apart from other Indy florists?

Indy has incredible florists who do beautiful work.  Just scrolling through Instagram can show you the talent we are surrounded by.  I started Ladybird because it was a passion that turned into a calling.  I believe God has given me this passion of flowers and color and plants to share His love with others. Ladybird isn't something I have to do but something I really enjoy doing.  Please look at my website to see a sampling of my portfolio. To schedule a consultation, go to my connect page or e-mail me at ladybirdshopette@gmail.com 

hope & courage

I catch myself; tenderly putting my hand on my belly like I'm cradling a little babe. Maybe it is a bit like the phantom limb sensation amputees feel. I stand sideways and look in the mirror expecting to see a bit more of a bump, but it is actually shrinking.  It has been a week since I went to bed pregnant with hope of a new baby in the fall. However, the next morning would bring a familiar journey down a road I've traveled wearily before.  

I sat there staring at a glaring black and white screen.  She typed in No Fetal Heartbeat.  Tears streamed down my face.  I frantically searched for that beautiful flicker on the screen but it wasn't there. I would have been 12 weeks. I feel a little uncomfortable writing about such personal trials but miscarriage and hope have been at the core of why I started this business. (You can read a bit about that history soon) I want to be transparent.  I want to be the broken vessel Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians.  

I honestly never thought I would hear the word miscarriage directed at me again.  In 2009, I suffered a miscarriage at 10 weeks. I did it at home, so full of fear and pain. The loneliness that followed was raw. At the time I was mad at God. Why didn't he protect me from that heartache? I didn't want to hear anything about faith or suffering or how it could bring good. I was mad at everyone really.  I was angry when people shared encouraging words and I was ticked when people told me to move on and it wasn't meant to be.  I dreaded seeing other pregnant women or seeing anything related to babies. That miscarriage represented a loss of innocence to me. I was 25, newly married, just spent a year living in paradise... and suddenly everything I knew was ripped away. I saw how hard life was. But time has a way of letting us learn the whys and it develops our perspective.  I can say now that my faith was not built on a solid rock.  When the rains came pouring down, everything was washed away.  I have spent many hours since trying to find that solid rock and lean on it.  It is such a hard thing to turn from my own understanding and rely on faith. 

I don't feel anger now like I did then.  I have some clarity on this loss from my history. I still felt defeated and sad of course.  My verse for the past few years has been Ecclesiastes 3:11, "God makes everything beautiful in its time." I had actually just lettered it on an old window the night before I found out. I thought the miscarriage journey had already been made beautiful and was over. I turned to flowers last time to help me redirect my mind onto something creative that reminded me of beauty and hope. That is when ladybird was truly birthed.  It has grown over the years and I have been able to share my story with many women and hopefully encourage them to let God turn their ugly hurts into something beautiful. In my mind, these opportunities to share my faith proved that He had transformed that heartache already. But as I read on in Ecclesiastes 3:12 I saw, "but he's left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to." (MSG) I wanted that part of my story to be over, but it isn't.  It is the road set before me.  I must travel it.  Not only this, but Paul says we must rejoice in our sufferings because it produces a hope, character, and perseverance more like Jesus.  I can't say that I am rejoicing in this, but I pray God would help my heart to be open. 

The day I found out I prayed over and over for God to bring some kind of truth to my mind.  He was gracious and just before I went to bed that night he brought 1 Peter 1:6-7 to my mind.  1 Peter was the book that got me back into seeking God after the first miscarriage so I thought it was fitting for Him to bring it to my mind again. "I know how this good makes you feel, even though you have to put up with aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory." (MSG) He is using this suffering to burn off all that doesn't resemble Him.  He is refining me. How I wish it didn't take things like this to be more like God! I read how gold is refined in the fire and I love the symbolism.  It is heated to an extremely high temperature and the impurities rise to the top and are skimmed off.  The goldsmith knows the gold is pure when he looks in and can see his reflection.  I pray that this suffering does just that. That my impurities will be skimmed off and Jesus can look and see His reflection better in me.  

If you aren't a Christian, you might think this sounds crazy. Rejoice in suffering? Desire refinement by fire? The way I look at it is we all have suffering.  No one is immune.  But because I have grace and faith in the creator of the universe and in a God who sent His son to die for me, so that I might have a hope for a future free from all this... I have a personal friend in Him to walk through the tragedies of life with me.  No one should have to deal with sickness, death, and trials alone. Moreover, the hurts of this life can be transformed into something good if we trust and love God. I couldn't face losing two babies without knowing that blessed assurance that this pain and emptiness will be made whole. My prayer is that you might see the need for a loving God to be with you as your travel your own hard journeys...and that you might invite Him in to your darkness so he can shine a light. 

And God has already proven He is with me. Some mornings I wake up crying and wonder how I am going to make it through the day and God shows up. God is with me through a husband who is a shoulder to cry on and an amazing captain of our ship sailing the treacherous seas of life. Through a dear friend who brought over Coke in a bottle and lots of candy and sat and talked and made me laugh. Through a friend who dropped off a gift card for me to treat myself and get my nails done. Through a loving friend who texts verses and words from God all throughout the day. Through a mom who cried with me and who brought over homemade beef and noodles, kiss cookies, and a bright pink purse. Through a dad and mom who loved and watched my girls so we could have a few days to reel. Through a gentle and respectful doctor who held my hand on the surgery table as too many tears to count rolled down my cheeks. Through countless texts and prayers from friends and family all over the country. Through the smiles & laughter of my two girls; my brightest stars and greatest treasures. Through the swaying of trees and the refreshing breeze that helps me to believe a new peace is coming. 

I can already see lessons God wants to teach me in this.  In this world we rely so much on what is seen.  I wanted to see that heartbeat desperately, but I must rely on what is unseen.  That God has a plan for me and for my children. That He will work all things for the good and that He will make all things beautiful in its time. 

 

 

 

Crowned with Love

The night was filled with vinyl, cupcakes, bubbly, flowers,  & beauty.  We packed 18 gals into our tiny workshop room at Kindred while heart helium balloons floated above us.  Before we started our crown construction, I told everyone of my love for Valentine's Day.  I love the colors, the candy, and the sentiment.  I know some think it is just a Hallmark holiday, but to me it is a day to celebrate L O V E.  And not just romantic love, but the unconditional. never-ending love from our Heavenly Father.  God says He rejoices over us with dancing... now that's love. That He created each and everyone one of us with a unique purpose; that He loves us so much he set up a path to eternity of glory and goodness with Him, away from the hurt and evil of this world.

 Just like I might create a bouquet of colorful and fragrant blooms, He has weaved together qualities in each of us that should shine and bring that beauty to the world.  Not just physical beauty, but a sweet fragrance and boldness that brings glory to the creator.  When I see an arrangement of flowers, a magnificent painting, or taste a cake that is sweet and delicious - it makes me feel awe for the creator of those things.  We should feel that same type of awe for the creator of this world and us.

 So I wanted everyone to feel that awe and love last Monday night.  I wanted them to feel special and then go off into the world and help others feel that kind of special... through each women's beauty. And I know there are times in life when we don't feel that beauty, because sadness seems like it is about to swallow us. However, let Valentine's Day be a reminder that we are deeply loved and that God says He WILL make ALL things work to the good for those that love Him.  Let me be an example.  He has turned hurt into beauty for me. That is His speciality.  

So we constructed our crowns over Etta Fitzgerald and Breakfast at Tiffany's tunes.  Everyone did such a beautiful job, I tried to talk them into wearing them the next day for their Vday dates.  We looked like flower princesses!

After we created our own colorful crowns, we had the amazing Lexi of Doodle Shots capture the happiness and gorgeousness of the night and I HAD to share the images.  It is all just too good.