Each year, over $6.5 billion is spent on greeting cards in the U.S. alone. According to the Greeting Card Association, the most popular choices include birthday, thank-you, and of course, holiday cards like Christmas and Valentine's Day.
Mary Meehan, Cedaredge resident, is adding to that pool of cards with a different type of message -- Happy Resurrection Day.
"The Resurrection of Jesus the Christ is a miracle of all time," shared Meehan, age 94. "I felt led to something to honor and share the excitement." For Meehan, sending a card to celebrate Christ's resurrection (Easter) is her yearly alternative to sending Christmas cards and ties together two of her loves: watercolor and writing.
How the Cards
The process begins in January, when Meehan gathers her watercolor art and notebook to begin assembling. Throughout the past year she will have spent hours reflecting specifically on Christ's resurrection and the biblical passage Acts 1:1-10, the accounts of Jesus' conversation and teachings to others after His resurrection.
She then takes these thoughts and re-reads them to see what moves her on "what God has shown."
"My messages are encouragements around this account and what the Bible explains about the tremendous love for us by God shown in the sacrifice of Jesus," shared Meehan.
Next, she will look at her watercolors and decide which one to tape on the front for the original. Meehan's watercolors are a result of testing new brushes, techniques or simply having fun.
Her inspiration comes mostly from the mountains, though sometimes she'll create a piece that, for example, resembles her visualization of a prayer. In fact, Meehan moved to Cedaredge 18 years ago because of her love for the mountains; much of her artwork reflects this love.
When assembling the cards, if she feels drawn to a certain piece then this becomes the cover for the year's card. The chosen message then gets typed, printed and taped to either the back or inside of the original.
Additionally, Meehan will enlarge or slice the front image and print bookmarks with a scripture or short message on the back. The idea came from her son and she now includes them with her cards.
To complete the process she makes copies at a print shop. The last batch she printed over 300, sending them to friends and family not just in the Surface Creek area but all over the country.
Many recipients have told Meehan how much they love the cards and that they display or even frame them each year. "I get comments how beautiful they are, but what's important is the message inside," she said.
For Meehan the process is a lesson in not just reflecting but also examining the specific aspects of the Bible and "finding reward for digging deeper." She even started recently receiving Resurrection Day cards in return.
"I send out the message of Christ's love and I get gratefulness in return," she said.
A Lifetime of Art
Ultimately, Meehan sees these cards as a way to give back what talent she sees God has given her. Meehan's love for art and writing began at an early age and she decided to continue this and pursue a five year program combining both the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia College of Art.
"I was always teaching, whether it was out of my home or at a community center," she said.
After graduating, marrying and starting a family she continued teaching art out of her home. While also hosting clay and painting classes at a local art center someone commented she should teach at the local school.
"I had to go back to get my teaching certificate, but it's what I wanted," she said. Meehan worked mostly with elementary school classes, and enjoys applying the beginner principles of art to any adult class.
Specifically, she loves teaching first grade art to adults and gladly teaches friends or anyone wanting lessons. She said, "Seeing someone's confidence and their magic moment during a lesson is what brings me joy."
Her late husband, Thomas, also taught art and focused his career on selling his oil paintings in exhibits and galleries.
Today, Meehan's passion for art is used in the Resurrection Day cards, but she wasn't always passionate about faith. When Meehan was 52 she became a Christian because a friend invited her to a prayer meeting.
The message was simple, powerful and ignited a change. Upon retiring in 1993 she turned her entire focus to ministry.
Stonecroft, a non-profit women's ministry, caught her attention and she also began working with Good News Club (GNC), a Child Evangelism Fellowship. In Philadelphia she worked with three GNC but now in Cedaredge there's only one.
She enjoys GNC because of the gospel focused messages and crafts with children. Stonecroft nurtures her passion about Bible study and connecting with other women of faith.
Naturally, the next step was to share her reflections and artwork in a gospel-centered way. Thus her Resurrection Day cards began.
She sees her ministry as continually growing and is excited for how her project will keep expanding. For Meehan, serving the Lord is her bottom line.
Now, about 18 years later from the first card, she's decided to take the next step and sell her cards, naming the endeavor "Mary Moments."
Expanding Her Ministry
Recently, when making a trip to Stacy's on Main in Cedaredge, Meehan decided to take a leap of faith and ask about displaying some of her cards for sale.
"Stacy [Malmgren] has this beautiful little children's corner and she didn't have a children's book display so I wanted to show her my son-in-law's [Bob Barner] illustrated books," she explained. "I decided, well, why don't I also take my cards?"
Malmgren was thrilled not only about the books, which Barner wrote and illustrated, but also Meehan's cards. "I see it as a great opportunity," she said.
Soon Barner's books and a collection of "Mary Moments" will be available for purchase at the shop.
Meehan's inquiry is an example of how Stacy's is quickly becoming a go-to for locals to enjoy a quick cup of joe while browsing an assortment of high quality, local, handcrafted artwork and goods.
For example, Barner's books are educational, even including a message in the back for teaching the principles within the pages. Meehan's cards are a way to personalize a greeting while sending a loved one a unique watercolor.
Meehan's display will include not only her Resurrection Day cards with their biblical message, but also other pieces, too.
One of Meehan's cards features a wooden stove watercolor with the greeting "Warmest Wishes." Some cards will come with a bookmark of the artwork containing a note or scripture on the back.
"I love being able to do something meaningful with my finished art," she shared. "I think this is how the Lord is using my talents to present His message."