Day 13: How to Paint Leaves (And Other Awesome Things)

31 days of Enjoy squareToday, I wanted to share some of my favorite youtubes of people teaching techniques or demonstrating watercolor products! These have really helped either inspire or teach me as I’ve been working on watercolor and hand-lettered projects for the shop!

This is another great video of hers:

Now admittedly, this artist has an extremely intricate, realistic style, so if you’re watching them having a panic attack, join the club. Then, if you’re exactly like me, you can take a deep breath and remember that it’s ok to not paint just like her! But she’s clearly masterfully good at it, and I wouldn’t say no to learning from her manifold wisdom. (I think the last time I remember someone using the word “manifold” was Mr. Collins. Don’t hold it against me.) 

Here’s another great video!

I LOVE the smoothness of her style, as well as the warmth of the finished illustration.

I like this video, especially for beginners, because it shows how to create some basic structure to hand-lettered pieces, and for me, structure isn’t the most obvious go-to. (My brain is like, “You mean I can’t just make swirly doodles around everything and expect it to be polished and desirable?!” No, brain. No you cannot… or I cannot. Whatever.)

I enjoy these videos because they spur me on and inspire me to be excellent. Excellence is something crucial to seek as a disciple of Christ, and as an artist. Ultimately, it won’t come from copious amounts of youtube-watching, it’ll come from practice. Perhaps very smudgey practice.

But if you need some inspiration and some great teachers to watch, start with these!

Day 11: May You Enjoy Your Smudges

Sometimes I find myself perusing Pinterest (understatement of the century), and after looking at lots of illustrations, many of them staring me down with daunting perfection, I struggle against an immediate, simultaneous hate/love of their awesomeness. (No really, I have a whole board full of impossibly, unattainably beautiful such pieces.)

And I know in my head that comparison is the thief of joy- it SO IS. But sometimes I find myself treating it like an old friend instead of an unwelcome intruder. In fact, it could be argued that I seek it out through my broken way of looking at things.

Well, not in this series, folks! I determine to drive Comparison from my midst like the sniveling, lying worm that it is. Instead, I will be free to enjoy. And today, I’m freeing myself by sharing some old drawings and a few newer sneak peaks and such with you.

They are vastly imperfect, and a couple of them are arguably not a great representation of my skill now, since they’re from a few years ago. (I’d like to think I’ve developed at least somewhat since then.) 

But I’ll share them anyway.

This first one is back from before I got married! It’s sort of me in my wedding dress (you never would’ve figured that one out, would you?). 

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This may shock you, but I’m not typically prone to drawing robots… But there Blinky blinks out from my sketchbook to this day… I think he runs on gas station slushies. Red flavor.
IMG_3326 These are some character sketches I did for a story.IMG_3323IMG_3325 IMG_3322

Gee. I wonder what inspired this one…FullSizeRender 2

Then this library picture… ugh. I promised I wouldn’t list all the things I think are wrong with all of these pictures… Because that’s annoying. So here’s me resisting…

IMG_3327 And if you’ve read this blog for long, you’ll remember this one. But I unapologetically share it again. She just makes me so happy! Probably because I just want my hair to be like that… And I want to be in charge of the autumn fairy dust. (I mean, clearly that’s her job, right?)FullSizeRender

Those are old. These are new:

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I Will be With You unto us sneak peak

Ok. So the middle one was inspired by Aliza Latta’s design. And mine is far too mushy to be added to the shop, so I’m just sharing it for funsies. Aliza is amazing, btw! And the other two are sneak peaks of projects I’ll be adding to Ebenezer Designs! They are rough drafts and will probably end up quite different… But I just couldn’t resist sharing them. And I think that’s good, because they are SUPER imperfect and smudgey.

Regardless, I got paint on my hands today. That is life-giving to my soul. And plus, if I ever want to become better, I’ll have to start exactly where I am, smudges and all.

Today, may you enjoy your smudges. May you enjoy creating- whatever that looks like for you. And may you be empowered to share your own creations, unhindered by that toxic frenemy, Comparison.

Day 7: Enjoying Surrender.

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As Communications & Events Director for If Then Movement, I have had the privilege of attending and helping with a few ITM events since I took on the job almost a year and a half ago. (I usually just say Communications Director… but the official title sounds schmancy right?) Each one I go to speaks to me differently, as I see God working in both my life and the lives of those who attend.

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(Their decor was ON POINT, people. It was a fabulous fall explosion. But in a good way. Though, come to think of it, I can’t really imagine how fall could explode in a bad way…)

This weekend’s was no exception. It probably held greater depth for me in part because it took place at the church where I grew up, watching my parents minister on staff. I love that place!

And I love seeing what God does through our retreat called “So Be It: Brave Surrender to God’s Call Every Day”.

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This is my favorite retreat that we do. Because it gives women a chance to dig deep and let their hearts open up to the truth that surrender is how we experience the goodness God intends for us.

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Sometimes I have a hard time yielding to that process. Sometimes, all I can do is put one foot in front of the other, rejoice in simple things like autumn wreaths, incredible things like God’s grace, and continuously surrender moment by moment. And sometimes, surrendering is putting pieces of a necklace together that function as a small, beautiful, brave stake in the ground for the kingdom of God.

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That’s what attendees got to do together this weekend. My dear friend chose this necklace, and I confess that the phrase is one of my favorites. (I have a necklace with this same artwork in it… because we’re the same person. We even wore matching colors.)

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What you don’t see in the picture is the small piece of paper that gets buried behind the artwork and the glass tile; that piece of paper serves as a place to write something you feel God laying on your heart to surrender to Him, or a verse He’s leading you to cling to, or a person you need to keep praying for, etc. I love that it’s a tactile, tangible representation of the message.

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The other thing that gets buried in this necklace is a tiny seed, which represents the fact that in order to bear fruit, the seed itself must die. This stands out to me especially, because God has been reminding me that even if I’m afraid of losing or surrendering something to him, doing just that is what bears fruit.

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(This is a candy bar. Get it?)

For someone who professes to be a creative person, I can be really uncreative when it comes to looking past what I think is good and instead trusting that God’s best is better. (Or best… or something.)

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Later in this series, I plan to dig up what God says about enjoyment, but for today, I end with this verse:
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
                        – Psalm 36:7-8

Day 6: Laziness vs. Leisure

31 days of Enjoy squareLeisure is an important part of enjoyment. But sometimes, leisure gets a bad rap. Because we’re human and imperfect, and that often translates to taking something like leisure and turning it into laziness.

I struggle with this like any person does. Remember back when I wrote about how Netflix plays an important role in marriage? Well, obviously there was a degree of the facetious in that post, along with the serious (as is common here). And I confess, sometimes, binge-watching stuff on Netflix renders me incapacitated, and the thought of getting up off the couch to get more cookies seems as daunting as climbing Mt. Everest.

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That’s how laziness ruins leisure. There’s nothing evil about leisure in and of itself. But laziness? It renders me whiny and self-absorbed in a matter of a few pajama-clad, cookie-filled hours. At that point, am I really enjoying anything?

In those moments, maybe what I really need is some intentional enjoyment. That’s just another reason I love fall; I find myself doing specific things like going to covered bridge festivals, showing colorful leaves to my daughter, buying pumpkins (after laboriously looking for the one with the most character- aka warts and such), etc. And it’s not even that those activities are somehow better than watching Netflix.

Kara Faith Photography Fall Tree

It’s just the searching and seeing that takes place when I experience those things.

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I develop an awareness of beauty; I tune my heart to the blessings of a moment. And even though fall comes every year, the awareness still- always- brings me delight.

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It’s a holy enjoyment.

So, with that said, may your leisure lift you up this season. May you become more aware of the unearthly beauty that graces the earth so generously with itself. Breath it in deep. Enjoy… whether you find yourself pajama-clad and cookie-filled, or wandering through a pumpkin patch.

Kara Faith Photography- Autumn Leaves

Today’s glorious pictures are brought to you by Kara Faith Photography!

Day 5: It’s Autumn at Ebenezer Designs

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For Day 3, I wanted to share with you three new fall prints I’ve added to the shop this week!

First, “I fall for autumn.” Because I do. Don’t you?

I Fall For Autumn Mockup

Thank-Fall. (Get it? I know. I am a genius…)

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And what trio of autumnal prints would be complete without this quote by L.M. Montgomery? “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” That woman was so brilliant. I’m pretty sure she and I would’ve been BFFs.

October Quote Mockup

Click each picture to go see them on Ebenezer Designs on Etsy! They’re $10 a piece, but here’s how you can enter to win all 3 sent to your inbox for FREE!!!!

  1. Go and Like Long Live Beauty’s Facebook page and/or follow me on Instagram: @haylie_allcott
  2. Share a link to one post of 31 Days of Enjoy (or if you have a favorite Long Live Beauty post, that’s fine too) on your own timeline
  3. Now you’re entered into the drawing!!!

Regardless, I hope you are feasting on the beauty of autumn in whatever ways you love to do.

Enjoy!

Day 4: Autumn Mornings

I don’t always love mornings, but I always love morning light. Especially in autumn.
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Isn’t it divine?

I personally feel the beauty of whatever is beneath this shadow world most clearly trying to push through during that time of day, when everything is fresh and new and quiet, yet singing. It feels- almost- like things are the way they are supposed to be.

Autumn mornings make me feel this more acutely in some ways than other seasons do. Maybe it’s because it’s the harvest time; I remember the abundance we have yet to enjoy. The glory we’ll someday experience. And yet- He is with us now, even though we don’t live in the fullness of His presence like we will someday.

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Isn’t it a grace to dwell in so much beauty even now? That even in this life which often feels like waiting or searching, we are graced with moments of freshness and newness, of quiet and singing? I love autumn mornings because of that and because they still my soul.

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I hope yours may be stilled today, too.

Day 3: Spice Up Your Weekend Pinning

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It’s Saturday! We’re three days in to 31 Days of Enjoy, and for Day 3 I thought I’d share 10 favorite things from my Autumn board on Pinterest.

  1. Who doesn’t love free printables??? This one is a gem.6295273f13650d0f3863732b81dc7d8d
  2. I just love this centerpiece. The article linked to the picture is, supposedly, “60 Amazing Pumpkin Centerpieces and Glorious Fall Decorating Ideas” which I think is a) a verbose title and b) overselling a little- I mean, “glorious”? Well, they are gorgeous… so what do I know?5e0611e5a45926521f8bfda9390a0ab9
  3. This is one DIY I actually want to do! It looks easy, and also rather gratifying, considering its simplicity. My kind of DIY.79d31efa222b9c2899da75d690069c70
  4. I just love this girl’s mantle! It looks utterly cozy. And makes me want a mantle to decorate. 1ec41762cc9e76e71325a4934e13e5e9
  5. This is one of those things I pinned because as Liz Lemon says, “I want to go to there.” The link is to some place on tumblr. (Can I confess to not really understanding the purpose of tumblr? Is it just pictures?? I realize I could just google it, but I want to be real about important issues like this.)bc177faa509af99e64b1eb9178905ec1
  6. I want this scarf SO. BADLY. I found it recently on Amazon for considerably cheaper than the linked site shows, but haven’t ordered it yet. (One has to be mindful of spreading out one’s purchases… especially on things which one absolutely does NOT need because one already has a ton of scarves.)faa365990f898e574d2e9fb31c1a7e27
  7. Speaking of plaid things… I love this tablescape (incidentally, one of my favorite words ever) from The Turquoise Home. That post features 26 other fabulous tablescapes (weee! there it is again) for Thanksgiving.b4c420cb1dccda8a9218d8717bc33f6e
  8. This pillow. (Hmm, plaid again in this picture… I am really on a plaid kick, aren’t I?)b3c9068c21efeb8f1da5121a90a77898
  9. These velvet pumpkins. Velvet pumpkins, you guys. I desperately long for a few, however they are QUITE pricey. But still. Click on this one, because Love Feast is making some beautiful things in their shop!c916547d9fd353ad4864ea4318b2aa66
  10. And last, but not least, I had to include this one because it’s an old favorite. (And still funny.)Pumkin Flavored EverythingThere you go! 10 of my favorite things from my Autumn Happiness Board on Pinterest. To see the whole board in all its glory, click here! I linked each picture to its original home on the internet, by the way. That way, you can go explore these fun places. Enjoy!

Day 2: That Epic Autumn Wreath!

You guys.

I have been dreaming of this post for like, 2 and a half months now- and IT’S FINALLY HERE!!! EEEEP. (Inhaling… Exhaling… calming down enough to prevent spontaneous combustion.)

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As many of you know, I SUPER LOVE fall wreaths. And I decided that this was the year- the year to finally purchase my very first, very own, autumnalicious display of wreathery.

Day 2 Autumn Wreath

It had to be big. It had to be voluminous. It had to be like an autumnal celebratory explosion on my front door… but in a classy and welcoming way, obviously. And finally, after much seeking, searching, deliberating, and shunning the overpriced specimens at Michaels and several other places, I bought this beauty at Kirklands, the place where happiness goes to decorate its house:

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(I don’t know why the Kirklands’ picture is so small, but it is.)

I could’ve gone so many directions with buying a wreath! Some are rustic and neutral, some involve a lot of sunflowers (which for some reason were not my fav), some look homemade but aren’t, some were plum-y in their color scheme, others glitterfied like a fall wreath that fell into a craft store… or Vegas, and some in the traditional colors of fall.

For this- my first ever wreath purchased for my home that wasn’t given to me for free- I decided to go a little more traditional. Doesn’t it just beckon so invitingly? It’s like it’s saying, “Hey friends! Come on in and have some chili and cider. And some apple turnovers and ice cream. And some pumpkin muffins!”

This is extra special for me, because it’s the first year I haven’t had to shun the idea of spending more than $1 on decor. Don’t get me wrong! I still firmly believe that for general garland and faux-flower purchases, Dollar Tree should be the go-to place. (It’s COMPLETELY different than other dollar stores, people. I’ve said before and I’ll say again- Dollar Tree is to Target what all other dollar stores are to Walmart.) 

Upon first hanging it, it was bow-less, and then I found a cheap roll of this pretty, rustic ribbon, which I then attempted to festoon upon the wreath like this:

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Which I decided looked like I’d given up on bow-tying. But also I remembered that my point in purchasing the ribbon was to cover the plastic hanger-thing. So, I tried again, with what I think is a far more pleasing result!

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Isn’t it amazing how something so inconsequential, like a wreath, can inspire so much wonder? Maybe it’s silly, but for me, this brings me thorough and utter delight. And that is what I’m about in this season: enjoying a little beauty to greet me on my front door, reminding me in a unique way to celebrate and enjoy.

31 Days of Enjoy

Welcome to 31 Days of Enjoy!!!
Scroll Down to read day 1::Click to read the other days, I’ll be adding a link to each day once it goes live.

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Day 2: That Epic Autumn Wreath!
Day 3: Spice Up Your Weekend Pinning
Day 4: Autumn Mornings
Day 5: It’s Autumn at Ebenezer Designs (a giveaway!)
Day 6: Laziness vs. Leisure
Day 7: Enjoying Surrender.
Day 8: Enjoy Holiness
Day 9: Three Secret Weapons for Autumn Decor
Day 10: A Walk with Lucy
Day 11: May You Enjoy Your Smudges
Day 12: The Frost is on the Pumpkin
Day 13: How to Paint Leaves (And Other Awesome Things)
Day 14: When You Need to Laugh (Really. Really. Hard.)
Day 15: Rejoice! (Free Printable! Not for Mrs. Trunchbull.)
Day 16: What the Bible Says about “Enjoy” {Part 1}
Day 17: How to Enjoy a Simple Saturday. 
Day 18: Some Depth on a Sunday.
Day 19: Covered Bridge Festival!!!
Day 20: When You Don’t Have a Mantle {Or a Porch}
Day 21: Hand-Drawn Christmas Cards!
Day 22: Artist of the Month- Andrew Peterson
Day 23: Have Courage and Be Kind
Day 24: Kara’s House
Day 25: Homecoming! {Or… Lucy Goes to Milligan: Part 1}
Day 26: Homecoming! {Or… Lucy Goes to Milligan: Part 2}
Day 27: What the Bible Says about “Enjoy” {Part 2}
Day 28: Enjoying Coffee. {And Catching Up.}
Day 29: 10-ish Favorite Pieces from my Fall Wardrobe
Day 30: Fall Family Photos
Day 31: A Song for Harvest Time {Really, It’s for You!}
31 Days of Enjoy has begun!!! Are you ready? Ok.
For my very first 31 Days of Writing ever, I chose a very simple word to focus on. And that word is “Enjoy.”
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Dictionary.com (that’s right, I’m going all wedding-toast on y’all) defines “enjoy” as:

1. to experience with joy; take pleasure in

2. to have and use with satisfaction; have the benefit of

3. to find or experience pleasure for (oneself):

4. to undergo (an improvement)
It’s such a simple word. And yet, I often tend to attach a lot of guilt and disclaimers and caveats that frequently prevent me from truly just- enjoying. Can you relate??? I’m a striver. So much striving. Striving to be perfect, to be right, fretting over my thoughts, or fretting about fretting over my thoughts. You know- the common kind of crazy.
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And I imagine Jesus next to me saying, “Martha, Martha. You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one.” After which he reminds me of all the verses about anxiety and cares and worry etc.
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I didn’t grow up learning the Westminster Catechism, but I’ve always loved this particular declaration from it which says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
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Doesn’t that sum up a good bit of what we’re called to do in our lives as believers? And for this 31 Days focus, it fits in perfectly. Have you ever thought about your chief end being to glorify God and to enjoy him? Most of the time, I think of serving God, or pleasing God, or listening to God- all of which are good things. But altogether, they seem to me to stem from a heart of worship.
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I think worship itself is a manifestation of doing just that- glorifying God and enjoying him. And we’re supposed to be worshippers always. As is says in Romans 12:1,
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
We’re also supposed to rejoice- always.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
– Philippians 4:4
I believe God is a God who delights in and enjoys, and I think we are made to delight in and enjoy as well. However, much of the time I agonize over my desires not being worthy enough or godly enough or something. It’s like I punish and subsequently deny myself joy just because I can’t let go of my own need to be perfect and/or life to be perfect (an exercise in futility if ever there was one).
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I don’t know about you, but for me, this annoying way of thinking taints my enjoyment in general because I’m so preoccupied with trying to not enjoy something, or trying to enjoy the right way, or whatever ridiculous over-analytical way my brain frames it. Plus, that kind of thinking is still All. About. Me.
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But.
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What if, instead, I just enjoyed the Lord, enjoyed the grace I receive through being covered by Christ’s perfection? By enjoy, I here mean- “experience with joy, take pleasure in.” How could that change my life- even in enjoying small things?
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So, these next 31 days will be full of focusing on this renewed way of looking at enjoyment and delight. Specifically, I’ll be focusing on enjoying these three areas:
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1. Life- Yes. I want to enjoy life. (Have I rocked your world with my unique and epiphanical thinking? Epiphanical, I’ve decided, is a word. As of now.) But seriously, this is a time to take a breather and enjoy some things. And plus, this is Lucy’s first fall when she will actually be cognizant of her surroundings- play in leaves, hear them crunch under her boots (side note- little girl boots?! Eeee!), explore pumpkin patches or apple orchards… or both, drink cider. You know- enjoy all the things! And I want to be right there with her, enjoying. Which is why there will be a sincerely unapologetic stream of autumnally-themed posts, most likely involving at least one about a fall wreath and certainly a lot after that regarding decor in general.
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2. this blog- I want to “have and use with satisfaction; have the benefit of” it. Work my blogging muscle. Blogging is another way for me personally to process my own story, but also to be intentional- when you’re sharing your story and your heart, you want to present your best self… Or maybe it’s not so much your best self, so much as the self which is best at sharing those things. This blog forces me to articulate, to think, and to be accountable. This is why blogging is not just for the readers, it’s for the writer. (At least, in my case it is.) 
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Don’t worry, not all my posts will be long. Some will probably just be a picture and a thought, or a question or something- huzza for simplicity! (And brevity… I could call this 31 Days of Brevity, because obviously that’s something about which I know nothing. However, that would be significantly less fun. So, I’m not doing it.)
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3. Ebenezer Designs- Here I am talking about definition #4, “to undergo (an improvement)” I don’t know why, but that definition of “enjoy” brings me particular excitement. Maybe it’s because I’m thinking of it in the context of my etsy shop. Regulars around here will remember that I just launched this shop back in March– and that was a brave step for me!  SO prepare yourself. I’ll be launching a new line of various seasonal lovelies over at the shop and I’ll be sharing them over the course of our 31 Days of Enjoy!!!
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I hope you’ll join in the enjoying. And I ask that if you’re willing to share these posts with others, that you would do so! I want you, dear friends, to come along on this journey as well as take part in fostering a community of storytellers, apple cider-drinkers, beauty-seekers and makers… which is to say, a community of those who glorify God and enjoy him forever.