Keeping it in Perspective

I made this one for mamas in that last trimester of pregnancy.  But really, it is extremely relevant to motherhood in general–even if you aren’t anywhere near pregnant read to the end of the post!

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Keep in in Perspective by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I saw a photo reference for this piece and it brought back memories and I knew I had to paint it.  I was a humongous prego lady…I carried my babies out front.  And I ate like crazy, so I got big, the baby got big. It was all I could do to see my toes by the end, but they were painted delicious bright colors.  And I would ask, “Do I have on matching shoes? ”

Then, they turned three.  And I remember looking down at the floor at the mess at my feet.  And reminding myself, “This too shall pass.  They will only be this little for awhile.”

Then they turned ten. And I looked at the floor, still saw a mess, then looked up to God and asked, “When, when God?  When will this get easier?  How do I train these little monsters?”

And each time, I would call my mom.  Get her advice (she is awesome).  And always she would help me put it all in perspective.  She would remind me of my own capabilities.  That I could do this.  She would remind of the ultimate goal:  raising kids to be loving and independent.  Raising them to know God.  THOSE ARE THE GOALS.  Not a clean house, not perfect meals, not wonderful vacations, not exceptional students, blah, blah, blah.

FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE.

And Jesus teaches us, the greatest of these is LOVE.  That is our goal.  From the very begininng, from the moment we accept being mamas, no matter who we mother, no matter the season, our goal is to love.

Keep it in perspective.

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Becoming a Mama

What better time than the week before Mother’s day to celebrate bringing babies into the world?  I have been working on several pieces over the past year for my friend Kerri.  She is an amazing birth instructor (shameless plug…hit her website and see all she has to offer at www.thismommaknows.com) and she also works with mamas through Will County Pregnancy Resource Center (shout out to my folks there!).  And there is the Journey Hub in Frankfort (shout out to those girls!).   This week is dedicated to them, and the amazing work they all do.

But it is also for any and all mamas.  Those of us deep in the potty training trenches, those of us driving our buses–cars I mean, those with empty nests, those lovin’ on grandbabies.  Those who adopt kiddos into their homes here, those who adopt kids through charities that they will never meet.  Those waiting to be mamas.  Those mamas to new Christians.  Yep, they are important, too.

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New life!  Isn’t it the most amazing thing!?  Babies are just crazy!  I love ’em.  Can’t get enough of ’em.  I love me some prego bellies.  (Never want to do it again myself, thank you.)  I love all kinds of babies–even of the animal sort.  On our spring walk today we saw a retention pond with HUNDREDS of tadpoles.  They were so cool!  The way God designed babies and how we all develop is just amazing to me.  So incredibly powerful.  And the ways mamas do it.  Wow, the instincts for it are unbelievable.  It is not easy.  It is not easy to make new life, to bring it into the world, to trust our instincts, to see it through.  But man is it beautiful and worth it!

God created females to do this special thing–to mother.  He trusted US.  He uses us to bring new life–whether it is brand new  mini people, or ushering a person of any age and size into new life with Christ.  He gave us this special job.

You know what is beautiful?  Mamas.  Not just the job of getting them here, not just the job of moving them along.  But the women.  YOU ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL.  I have never seen a mama look at her baby, no matter how old, and not thought to myself, that, that right there is gorgeous.  Even when the mama is crazy mad–it is still a special look only for that child that is perfect.

So yes, this week, we shall celebrate.

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Make a Masterpiece

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Make a Masterpiece by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I am trying to create a masterpiece.  I love painting, I love writing, but the whole point is to make a bigger, better more lasting, masterpiece:  my life.  God created me with these cravings for a reason.  He created you with certain cravings with a masterpiece in mind.  He created us to do these things, not for the things, but for the end result:  to glorify HIM.  Jesus plans for us to live this life to its fullest, most beautiful capacity.  That may include learning some lessons through very painful means, it may mean that some us have a long time to work or we may have a very very short time.  But no matter what it is to be a masterpiece created with God in our tool box.

We can’t do that if we are wreaking havoc on our own life with sin.  If we are not focused on following Christ’s commands, the masterpiece will never come to fruition.  It will just sit there half complete, leaving everyone wondering what it could have been.  Sin takes us off track, it turns our heads from what we crave to really do, what we were meant to do.  What will lead us to God and love. It leaves a ruin in its tracks.

Don’t you want a masterpiece?  Don’t we all want one?  Don’t we all want the ultimate reward of life in heaven with Jesus, fully whole, after completing our masterpiece?  Able to fully enjoy the final result?
I know I do, and that is why I will try to be dead to sin, alive in Christ, obeying and working on my masterpiece.

Here are a couple of the other verses in chapter 6:

 

Romans 6:  15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? ….22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

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Tell the Truth

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Can you imagine if we all dropped our inhibitions and told the TRUTH?  to God?  to self?  to others?  all the time??

It might scare the world with the power of it.  What if Christians all stepped up and were honest about our faith everyday?  with our neighbors?  at work?  at church?  What if we all obeyed Christ’s commandments to LOVE one another?  People don’t know what to do with truth.  We have become so accustomed to lies, walls, and smoke screens that when we share love they often don’t know what to do with it.

There is a lot of power in honesty.  Especially with God.  When we are vulnerable with Him, is when He can do the most through us.  When we are truly honest with others, there are the most breakthroughs, the least amount of assumptions.

So, today, let’s pray:

Jesus, We confess that we hide parts of our selves and our hearts.  We confess that we need you to help us tell the truth, your truth.  Lead us to be vulnerable.  Open our hearts to your Words, that we would listen, fully listen, to what you are whispering to us.  Open our hearts to truth, then open our minds and our mouths that we would spread that to everyone around us.  Make us ready to surprise the world with the power of your Word, with the power of your commandments, with the power of your love.  Give us opportunities to spread that love and truth, help us recognize them as gifts from you.  Jesus, we ask you to let us assume less, share more, and be ready for how the world will react.  We know that you will be walking right beside us and we are so grateful.

All God’s people said ….AMEN!

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Nourish the Cravings

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You know how else I create?  I nourish my cravings for God, for time to hear Him and be close to Him.  I nourish my cravings for art.  I sit down and make sure I take the time to do what my body needs to do.  I carve out time.  I make conscious decisions–am I craving someone else’s life or my own?  Sometimes, to be honest I am wanting an out, so I turn on the tv for a bit, surf Pinterest, or more likely I pick up a novel.  But most of the time, I know that what will really satisfy me will happen in my studio.

I start with one of these:

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These are my favorite sources to go to God:  my Bible (Oxford NIV or Message), my old school Lutheran worship hymnal (I love reading the prayers and old hymn lyrics), Christ in Our Home (Augsburg Fortress) devotional,  Daily Walk through Proverbs, Simple Abundance (Sarah Ban Breathnach), Jesus Calling (Sarah Young), or Multiply (Francis Chan).  Do you have any favorites?

Sometimes I need some art inspiration so I peruse some of these.

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Words and images stave off the hunger, they are a good appetizer, but for me the main entree is painting in prayer and worship to God.

What do you crave?  Is it something that brings you closer to God?  Or, do you ignore the things your spirit really needs and try to comfort it with something that only pulls you further from Jesus’ peace and grace?  Are you nourishing your soul?  Or starving it, maybe even gorging it on unhealthy things?

When you nourish your spirit with what is true and good, more goodness will result.

And then you can have dessert.  Chocolate. That is always nourishing.  🙂

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Beyond Awesome

Did you watch the clip yesterday?  Here is another bit from Rhino:

I love him and his confidence!  Anytime the kids watch this movie we tell each other that we are be-awesome for days.  I want to instill that kind of confidence in my kids–that they aren’t just good, or awesome, but beyond awesome.  Because that is how God created them.

I am feeling pretty awesome these days.  I didn’t always.  That crazy/perfectionist/depressed side of me never thought anything was good enough.  But I am changing my ways.  And ya’ll are helping me by just being here.

You ask,” How do you keep up?  Get all that painting and writing done?” (Which in Rhino’s world would translate, “How are you so awesome?”  Well, let me show you…found this on Pinterest and had to paint it:

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Art before Housework by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

That is how!  Totally true.  But the best part, is now I can say it is for “business”.  HA! Beyond awesome.  (See?  Answering the knock to use my gifts is paying off!) Honestly, I could be doing dishes right this moment or organizing my mail.  But, I would rather paint.  I would.  So, I do.  The dishes will get done at some point, we haven’t run out for a meal yet.

And then when I let myself paint, I have a tendency to “get in the zone” or let my “mojo” take over, I lose consciousness of time and space.  I know where my kids are, but two hours feels like five minutes when I am doing this:

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More wise words from another favorite artist.  When I am answering the knock, letting God work through me, the art just pours out, all His awesome.  The words are just…there.  When I push, or I try and make it about me, I end up completely annoyed (this is when the perfectionist/depressed/crazy has a tendency to show up) and ruin everything on the paper and around me.

But you know what the real answer is?  I answered the knock and LET GOD IN.  I trusted Him to let His awesome flow through me.  I let go and let Him.  I trusted that Jesus is beyond awesome, that He created me to share in that, and that he expects it of me.

Of each of us.  He expects us all to be beyond awesome when we walk with Him.  Because we ARE.

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Knock Knock

Art is obviously my favorite way to express myself.  We all have some unique gift God gave us.  And usually it isn’t a choice, it is just simply what must be done.

It can be easy to ignore our gifts though, shove them away to a “better” time.

You know how sometimes you are at home, you hear the doorbell or the knock.  But you stop, you are comfy on the couch.  You consider, “Can they tell I am home?  Can I ignore them?”  Or maybe you peek out a peephole or out the window.  Is it some solicitor to wave away?  Someone you close your eyes, sigh, and open up anyway?  Sometimes we do that with our gifts.  We ignore them for when we “have more time” and instead do the “bread and butter” necessary things.

And then sometimes, we hear a knock and it is someone you are overjoyed to see.  You open the door wide and welcome them whole heartedly.  Maybe you were expecting them, maybe it is a surprise.  Sometimes the timing isn’t what you thought.  But you answer the knock because you know it is the right thing to do.

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Art is a Knocking from your Soul By Nicole Plymesser Nelson

So why don’t we do that with our talents?  You know, those spiritual gifts God gave us.  He didn’t create all of us to just make money or control everything in sight.  He didn’t intend for us to sit on the couch and ignore them, or peep out but walk away, or even sigh and acknowledge them, but only if necessary.

He created us to connect.  To spread His gospel.  To love on each other.  To answer the knock from our very souls and get on with it.  And the best part?  Is when you ANSWER He does super cool things.  Things you never imagined.

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Georgia O’Keefe Say thing With Color and Shapes

Ms. O’Keefe (one of my favorite artists by the way) says it perfectly.  There were so many things I didn’t know I could say, things that were bottled up, just ready to explode.  And when I did, I ended up with over 400 pieces of art so far. I think I had a lot to say.  I think God had a lot to say through me.

What is Jesus going to say through you?  What is your talent?  Have you answered the knock to bake?  to dance?  to write a book?  teach a class?  open a studio?  to reach out to different people?  Some of you have.  (Wink, wink to my girlies I just called out, you know who you are–so proud of all you answering the knock!)  Or maybe you are still peeping out the window.

Do it.  Answer the knock.  It is your soul.  It is your destiny.

I leave you with this, one of my all time favorite Disney characters:

 

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Now I am

I had to share!  Last night’s concert was everything I hoped.  Soulful, refreshing, heart filling.  First, I love Matt Maher’s music.  Second, I love loud music.  Third, it was pretty awesome to be with a whole crowd of people letting go, dancing and singing and clapping for Jesus.  Pretty darn cool.  I might need to start a savings account just for more concerts, it was so cool.  I wanted to go see him last November, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Now was the time.  I needed it right now.

There will be lots of new art inspired by Matt’s lyrics and music.  I looked through all my journals this morning, and I can’t believe it, but I have never painted “Your Grace is Enough!”  That song is very special to me, it got me through some hard times.  Maybe why I wasn’t ready to paint it before.

Now I am.

I had a God moment last night outside of the music.  One of those moments, a meeting with a person, that I had hoped for a year ago, and didn’t happen.  One of those, that of course, it spilled out of my eyes, because I was surprised and overwhelmed by God’s intervention and timing.  But I think God was saving it for when I was ready.

Now I am.  My artwork, my writing, I am ready now.  I needed a year’s growth.

Isn’t it funny how God’s time works?  He is so smart, that God.  We all have something we think should happen now, and it just isn’t happening.    Or maybe it didn’t happen.  We thought we needed something, and He decided, nope, no you don’t.  You need this.   It can be so hard to give up that control and let Him do His thing.  I have struggled with it.

And now, I am.  I am letting go and letting him have it.

And the more I do, the better His stuff gets.  Way better than what I had planned.  Because that is what is awesome about God…His plans are way more than we can ever, ever imagine.

Let go with me. See what Jesus has planned for you.

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Woohoo! And Amen!

I am so crazy excited I cannot contain myself!  I am finally going to see Matt Maher in concert tonight with a good friend (shout out to Becki!).  He is at the top of my list of favorite Christian artists.  I am going to be yelling woohoo and amen a lot tonight!  I know I will cry.  I know I will smile.  As Becki said, it will refreshing.  So true.  I am pretty sure we will pray and connect.  Awesome.

Not sure who I am talking about?  Let me refresh your memory…here are two art pieces I have made.  You can click the image and go to the blog post and the link to the music.

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No laughing if you go back to those posts. Man, my writing has come a long, long way.  What is up with a title like “my favorite song january 2014”????  Geesh.  No search engine optimization there!  No matter, I still like these art pieces and love the music.  They can stand alone.

But I digress as usual…Christian music.  Remember that story of the mustard seed from earlier this week?  I have been thinking about it in terms of music.  I listen to a lot of genres.  I never thought that the lyrics were affecting me much, until I started making a point of queing up my favorite Christian artists on Pandora.  The more I listen to those songs, the more I pray, the more connected I feel to God.  It is not that the other music influenced me to do bad things, but it didn’t encourage me to do what is right for my soul either.

And there are more and more options for different styles of music in the Christian sector as well.  I remember when I was in high school, it was pretty limited.  Plus, there wasn’t streaming, pandora, mp3s, let alone Christian rock radio stations.  We have so many more choices these days.

Now when I do switch the station to other stations I am that much more aware of the lyrics.  I don’t know if they are worse, or if I am just that much more sensitive.  But I do realize how I am affected when I listen.  It isn’t always good.

Do you listen to Christian music?  Who are your favorites?  Use Pandora?  It is my favorite way to hear new and different artists. It plays a much more diverse song list than my radio stations.  It is free to get an account online.  Start with Matt Maher and see where the rabbit hole takes you.  And see where the lyrics take you.  I guarantee it is going to be a good place.  A Woohoo and Amen place.  And we all need to be connected to that!

Have a great weekend!

 

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Stay Connected

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Stay Connected By Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Sorry I missed posting this by morning.

I was getting organized and spent more time on that and didn’t leave time to post!  Now that I have wrapped my head around committing to making nicplynel bigger, I decided I needed to take the business side a little more seriously.  Soooo, I bought an ORGANIZER!  That is always the first step, right?  I do love a good binder!  (I also made up a binder to get all the kid stuff under control as well.)  So I spent three days synchronizing calendars.  And I went through my art and planned the series and order for the next three months.  Sometimes being three months ahead in art is good, sometimes not…especially when I have new ones I REALLY want to share!  Next, I actually have to look at the finance end–eek.  Not my strong point.  Etsy keeps me in the black–but you know…that is about all I know.  And I need to make some technology upgrades, so that might set me back.  I should know where I am at fiscally I suppose.  Drives my husband nuts.  I would much rather paint.

Or be connected to what matters most!  LIKE my family, my friends, my bloggy crew, my art.

It is insanely important to connect to the ones around us.  We need them, they need us.  And what better way to connect to them than through prayer?  Do you pray for them?  Do you pray with them?  Taking the time to say a prayer with my kids is so grounding.  Using a single moment in my day to send up a prayer for a loved one, makes me feel connected to them across the miles.  I write Christ’s peace as the close to all of my Etsy notes…and I pray for that person that they will be blessed.  I may never meet them, but I still feel connected.

One of the reasons I love corporate prayers during church is the synchronization of the voices.  The connection of our voices on syllables.  Feeling in synch.  Feeling connection.

God meant for us to be connected to one another.  The Bible refers to us as ONE IN CHRIST all the time.  Connection.  The Bible tells us over and over that God IS IN US.  Connection.

Take a moment now, connect with someone–through prayer for them or in prayer together.  What better way to synch your souls?

 

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Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying

5 Ways to PrayThis week it is all about prayer on nicplynel.  Monday was how God used spring to help me see his paths, Tuesday compared seeds to prayers, and today, well obviously by the super cool new little graphic thing I figured out how to make (thank you Kerri and canva.com) I am going to cover five different ways to pray.  These are the main ones I use on a daily basis, weekly basis, you know…whenever I need to talk to God.

So lets get started… here is our art for today:

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Lord, Listen to your Children Praying by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

This is why we pray!  Because our God IS listening.

1. Silent Self Prayers  I love a good silent, meditative prayer.  These are so easy to do anytime, anywhere, anyhow.  Because it is just like a phone call to God inside your head.  Just talking.  No special flowery words.  No structure.  Just chatting.  But I do think having a special place to pray helps.  You know where I pray the best?  Two places:  my art studio table where I also do my Bible study and in the car.  The first makes complete sense–I always feel compelled to talk to God from the depths of my heart after reading His words.  It feels like the most natural response in the world.  But the car…who knew?  Right?  But if I am alone, and it is quiet, my heart automatically reaches out to God.  I truly believe He loves to hear our thoughts.

2.  Journaling/Lists  Writing down prayers can be so therapeutic.  Journaling isn’t keeping track of my day–it isn’t a log for me.  I am a list maker, so for me it is mostly a collection of them.  It is where I put all things heavy on my heart and mind, or the list of gratitude for blessings big and small.  I started a long time ago with listing 5 things a day to be thankful for–even if it was that I didn’t burn my toast.  And then I started making a list of people that needed prayers.  And then I started…

3.  Artwork  It began with doodles around my lists, then morphed into needing to put a layer of color behind the list, then I wanted to write out favorite Bible verses.  This is actually a big movement right now.  Praying in Color is a book that is out about just doodles.  Zentangling is glorified meditative doodling–with really fun results.  Shanna Noel has made Illustrated Faith a huge movement–they draw/use stickers/etc in journaling Bibles.  I am hoping to start teaching some workshops at some point.  Everyone loves to color–why not pray and do it at the same time!

Or maybe my artwork helps you pray.  I love getting comments back that a piece was exactly what you needed here on the blog and on Etsy.  That is why I sell the prints.  That is why I post them here.  We are praying at the same time through them.    **see #5  🙂

4.  Music  We hear music constantly these days.  The girls and I have been studying composers and discussed how people either had to play it themselves, sing or hum if they wanted a soundtrack to their day.  And now, it is incredibly easy to have it as filler noise.  But so many Christian songs have such heartfelt lyrics.  Sometimes a prayer can just be slowing down, really listening to one song, and repeating the chorus with them.  Many are meant to be worship full.  Prayer is feeling the words and lifting  them to God.  So for this prayer the course is set, we just have to ride along, and let it fill our heart.  Need ideas?  Check out my music series here.  Or just click music series in the tag cloud.

5.  Corporate Prayer  There is a comfort in reciting a well-known prayer.  To know that generations before you have said that prayer.  To know that people right now are sending up the same words to God.  There is comfort in knowing the same blessing will be invoked.  There is peace in a ritual confession.  Many voices lifting prayers together brings unity and connection.  Whether you find a small group of people to say your own prayers, or you are in church with a mass of people praying as one.  My family says the same table prayer most nights–the same prayer I know my parents in Iowa are saying, my sister in Ohio is saying, and many of my other family members across the nation are reciting, the same one my great grandparents used.  For me–I am not just reciting it like a drone.  I am sharing a tradition, a connection with my family that touches my heart. How powerful is that to know hundreds of people are in the same prayer?   God can’t miss that one!  Check back with me and I can connect you to resources for written prayers.

Oh, there are so many ways to pray.  I could go on and on and on.  But this is enough for today.  I will continue my prayer discussion tomorrow.

Until then…know that I lifted a prayer for each of you today:  that you will be blessed with the love and peace of Jesus.  That you will find rest or strength in Him, whichever you need today.  That I am thankful for your presence here.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Seed Packet of Prayers

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Seed Packet of Prayers

Another favorite part of spring is planting the garden.  I just got my seeds for spinach, lettuce, and peas in a week ago.  But my mom is a gardening extraordinaire and this was my parent’s garden last week at the same time:

Look at all those adorable seedlings!  I still get excited seeing them pop through the ground, and then watching all summer as they mature and bear fruit.

Have you ever thought of prayers as seeds?

These seeds start out in this little packet for 50cents.  Hundreds of them inside, teeny tiny things, just waiting to be something amazing.  If you leave them in that envelope, nothing.  They will stay good for a very long time, but they will never do anything more.  But once they hit the ground and are watered super cool processes start.  The kids and I did the bean experiment (you know bean, wet paper towel, plastic baggie, watch the growth) a few years ago.  It really doesn’t take much to get that sprout.  It doesn’t.  And then if you nurture it even more you end up with this:

Image result for bean plant AND THIS …     Image result for bean plant   AND THIS TALL ONE …

(image credits:  bonnieplants.com, growveg.com, gardening.cornell.edu)

It is the same with prayers.  Nothing is going to happen if we just talk about it, as I illustrated and blogged HERE.  I have included the parable of the mustard seed at the end of this post if you are not familiar, in it Jesus talks about this very thing about faith.  Prayer and faith need nurturing.  My parent’s garden?  They are outstanding at fertilizing, watering, weeding, and keeping critters out.  Our faith needs the same!  We can all walk around with a little packet in our pocket of seeds of faith and prayer, but if we don’t open it, there’s no doing people!

The more I blogged last week, the more I realized I needed to do some heart to heart time with God.  So right there at my desk, amidst the paint and paper chaos, I started planting prayer seeds.  Every time I sat down, I made sure I prayed again.  (Some people have little altars, I have  my studio.)  And every time I watered that little prayer seedling, it sprouted a little taller.  Until I had prayed so much that it felt like I had a Jack and the Bean Stalk size plant growing me a direct line all the way to heaven.  And it felt like long, green beans were growing back down at me filled with seeds of hope, love, and answers.

So this week, we are going to talk prayer.  All kinds, all ways.  Because prayer seedlings are a good, good thing.  And hopefully our prayers will be the seeds that fall on good ground and produce not thirty times more, but hundred times more.

Parable of the Mustard Seed Meaning:

Matthew 13: 18 “So listen to the meaning of that story about the farmer. 19 What is the seed that fell by the road? That seed is like the person who hears the message about the kingdom but does not understand it. The Evil One comes and takes away what was planted in that person’s heart. 20 And what is the seed that fell on rocky ground? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching and quickly accepts it with joy. 21 But he does not let the teaching go deep into his life, so he keeps it only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the teaching he accepted, he quickly gives up. 22 And what is the seed that fell among the thorny weeds? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching but lets worries about this life and the temptation of wealth stop that teaching from growing. So the teaching does not produce fruit[a] in that person’s life.23 But what is the seed that fell on the good ground? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching and understands it. That person grows and produces fruit, sometimes a hundred times more, sometimes sixty times more, and sometimes thirty times more.”

(from  Bible Gateway)

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Flowers Like Sunshine Bring Seeing and Happiness

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Flowers like Sunshine Bring Happiness

 

Good morning friends!  Spring  has sprung full on!  Joy of joy of joys.  Needed it!  The trees are all in bloom, forsythia brightens the roadways, bright daffodils and hyacinth dot the bright green grass.  Oh, my colorful world is back!  How I have missed you.  I don’t know about you, but obviously flowers and sunshine make me really really really happy.  I don’t know if it is the explosion of colors and light that pervades my artist eye that makes the difference, or the bodily response in hormones that God designed–you know oxytocin, serotonin, happy-tonin whichever one it is.  🙂

Sunshine makes me see my world in a whole new light.  Seriously.  Not just in a, “Wow, look everything is so pretty and smells fresh!”  kind of way.

But in a, “Wow, you know, God has a plan in this!  Check out those stepping stones laid out for me.  He lined them with sunshine so I would notice this is the path to take!”

First Tanner went back to school, now another one is considering it.  That left me reeling.  How do we make that change and how do I redirect my thinking?  But also—whoah Nelly!  That will leave me with a LOT more time! Do I get a job outside our home?  Or do I pursue the job God is laying out for me????

Have you been noticing the change in writing?  I got this cool little tool for Search Engine Optimization.  In other words, it checks to see if I am being cohesive, linking out, and making sure that more people can actually find the blog and artwork.  I looked back at the beginning of the blog and at my original intentions.  I thought I wouldn’t have enough artwork and words to share. Ha! I planned to add in crafts, recipes, homeschool stuff.  But that is not what God had in mind.

I found a manuscript I started a couple years back that is just like the blog really–artwork and response. When I started it, the words just flowed, often like they do here.  Like the blog, it isn’t some theological, Bible study, deep thoughts kind of writing.  It is my style, that I use here, applying faith to everyday life.  Walking those crazy stepping stones, looking for God moments and good, learning how to love like Jesus in every moment.

I think I know what I am going to work on next year.  And that dear friends is making me happy.  Stay tuned.  🙂

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Stones Surrounded in Fruits of Sweetness

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Colossians 1:10 Fruit of Good Work

 

I have other new stone pieces I have been working on this week, because of course I was inspired.  But for today I want to share another piece I did way back last summer.  And it still has stones, they are just hidden–luckily this time they are surrounded in sweetness.

We do work hard and we do grow in knowledge in our God.  But sometimes the fruit can seem like they aren’t worth it.  Have you ever picked cherries?  It is a lot of work.  My parents had two sour cherry trees and I would go each summer and pick all of the cherries.  It would take all day, it would be sticky, it could be hot.  Some years the birds got all of the good fruit.  Some years I didn’t get there soon enough and they were overripe on the tree.  Some the cherries were gorgeous, only to discover they were mostly stone and little fruit.

And then there were some truly amazing years when they were huge, juicy, plump, bright red beauties.  The work would be quiet, peaceful, meditative almost.  The wind in the trees would be soft and cooling.  The birds would sing to me, I to them, and the bugs would stay away.  I would fill bucket after bucket on a beautiful sunny day dreaming of the pies, jams, and wine we would be able to make.  The colors were so vibrant one year I snapped these pictures.  The first one is the background on my phone.

 

Are you still following my symbolism and metaphors?  🙂

Sometimes we put in a lot of work and faith, and it feels like it is all for naught. I think of the Israelites roaming the desert for 40 years living on manna.  I think of the prophets and apostles who taught diligently to deaf ears.  I think of current day believers trying their best to spread the word, to be a light to others, to bear beautiful fruit that others will want to keep.  And all they find is stones.  All they encounter is people with stones for hearts, who are all to willing to throw that first pebble or boulder at whoever is first in sight.  All they see ahead are rocky paths that don’t seem to have an end.

But we are always rewarded at some point with a bounty.  When we lead lives that are worthy, our God will come through, at some point.  He will.  He always does.  He will give us our bright red cherry on top.  Wait for it to be ripe.  Wait for that bright, gorgeous day.  Wait, and the birds will sing, and you to them, of the awesomeness of our God.

Of the fruits of your labor, faith, and love.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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John 8:7 Cast the First Stone

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John 8:7 Cast the First Stone by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

These stones are like another inukshuk–more of a stack, than a path.  I like the way the dictionary page added the texture and some of the shading.  I like the way the stones are stacked, how the white holds them together and keeps them from falling–an invisible glue of faith.

And yet it could be easy to separate them.  It could be so easy to grab one off the stack and chuck it as hard as possible at the first available target.  Because, you know–you just get so upset you want to throw something.

Sometimes that target is other people.  They can make us so mad!  Can’t they?  Well, at least me. I hate being judgemental, and yet, my brain instantly comes to conclusions about people and situations.

Sometimes the target is even worse:  myself.  I throw way too many stones at that target.  Guilt, shame, perfectionism–oooo,weee, it’s like setting up a catapult or baseball pitching machine in my brain.  All day, every day.  And really, that is no less of a sin.

Jesus taught that we cannot cast the first stone.  That we have just as much sin as the next person.  That we must look at our self and our own faults first.  Jesus is willing to accept us and our sins, and we should be willing to give that same grace.  To others.  And to ourselves.

He wants us to keep our stack of stones in our own hands, keep it glued together with faith–the faith that He will get rid of the stack of stones when the time is right.  He will take them all, and save us from our own faults, and from the sin of judging.  That our God, our Christ, will be the target.  He will not let the catapult of stones hit us, wear us down, or destroy us.

 

 

 

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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