And there it is, the big one, the most important Do of all. I hope that each of you is in the presence of Jesus…..wait a second….spell check just made me realize I spelled presence wrong in the artwork. Darn it! ARGH!
Well, that one won’t go up for sale.
But, that did just make for a better blog post. Because God won’t care that I spelled it wrong. Isn’t grace a wonderful thing? I am human, I mess up, God still loves me to the absolute fullness of HIS capacity, not mine, but His. Jesus walks beside me everyday , present and full, helping me Live in the fullness of his GRACE that He gives freely. Not because of what I do, but because of His sacrifice and my faith in Him and that gift.
Oh, what sweetness that is.
And the same is true for each of you. For every person on Earth. He created every human to live in full relationship with HIM. He offers His abundant Love and Grace to ALL, and to those who believe He rejoices over and offers even more.
Yes, that is a DO.
This is such a good “do” to do. I wish I was better at doing it consistently, especially the ice cream part. As it has cooled to frigid temperatures in Chicagoland, I am not as excited to walk the dog each morning. I am more excited to see the hot coffee button light up.
But walking, the act of breathing in deeply, exhaling deeply, is so refreshing. And knowing that God is there walking with me, makes it even better. I love when the sun is out. I love when it shines right in my eyes and makes them water with its power. Jesus is the light of the world, and the sun always reminds me of this.
And then to walk to either Sonic or Culver’s to get ice cream. Thank you God for ice cream. It is the food of angels.
May you walk in God’s light today. May you breathe in HIS peace, love, and grace. May you exhale all of your cares and worries and let them float on the breeze up to Him.
I painted all of these to be sort of fun and cheeky. But really they all carry supremely important, serious messages.
Are you good at spending time with friends, with loved ones? Because your loved ones SHOULD be your friends. Are you good at not just spending time with them, but giggling with them, not just talking but sharing with them? Because that is what matters. Not stuff, not work, not accolades, but the relationships we make and build to last. Not spending money, but spending time, that most precious of commodities.
I have been so blessed to build relationships with so many people. So many who I can recount times that we laughed and cried and were there for each other in all times. Times when they lifted me, and times when I lifted them, and times when we walked hand in hand. They didn’t want gifts I purchased, they wanted the gift of me, and I of them.
We are in an age when we have so many choices to connect with people. We can be surrounded by the warmth of these relationships. If they are next door, we can reach out and touch them. Or we can use technology.
I have been so blessed by Facebook. I have family all over the country. I have friends all over the world. And Facebook lets me spend time with them and helps me build relationships that last. I know that my friend in Australia is celebrating her daughter’s birthday with her first sleepover. I know that my friend in Michigan watched The Nativity with her kids last night. I know that my cousin/friend in Texas had a very special prayer and life change with her daughter last night. I know my nephew broke his arm. I know another friend completed two Ironwoman races last month. Facebook allows me to connect, to encourage, to spend time.
My blog is another way that I am spending time with special friends. Each of you is touching me, touching my heart.
My cousin lost her husband the other night. A man in his fifties, he had a heart attack in his sleep and walked toward Jesus. But he left behind a a family who is mourning the loss of his time, his laugh, his strength.
It reminds me that much more of how precious these relationships are. Forget the holiday shopping, spend time giggling with your special friends today. Whether they are the family in your home, family and friends down the street, or family and friends around the globe. Reach out with your time. Reach out with laughter. Reach out with love and caring.
I love this one. I really like them all, but I am really really really good at this.
Naps are the best. They truly are. I don’t understand why children fight them.
Time to process, research what your body needs, what your hopes are for that day, and time to reflect.
Warmth and snuggles, maybe with just a blanket, or a dog. Or even better with a child.
And wake up refreshed and ready to roll again.
Even God and Jesus took time to rest. So should we.
Confidence is a wonderful thing. I have struggled for years with believing in myself. For too long I was over concerned with trying to be “perfect.” I hope you know that that is unattainable, a unicorn, something completely false and never real. Because I didn’t. I never thought what I did was good enough. I always wanted more. It has taken me years to understand God is the only one capable of perfection.
#2 is absolutely necessary to balance out #1. We should have dreams, high hopes, but also a sense of reality. I think of peachy perfect as just a little under real perfect. It’s all good, just peachy. Just enough. A little sweet, a little tart. A little crisp, a little smushy. Peachy perfect.
Because God did create us perfect. But we are under the spell of being human. Know that you are awesome, but be confident enough to admit that you are human. That you are peachy perfect. And that is good.
I have a series for you this week. Actually I have several planned for this month. The first one started with a list of Do’s I ran across early this fall. I liked the first two, and then got a little ADD as usual and veered off and did my own thing. I hope you enjoy them this week.
One DO is: have high hopes for yourself. We should have dreams. We should believe that God created us to be more than we are right now…He always has something up his sleeve!
Hopes and dreams are one thing, expectations are another. Remember that hopes can take a long time, especially in God time. He operates on his own agenda, so don’t expect fireworks instantly. Expect there to be bumps, high winds, birds dive-bombing you, and more as you cross the high wire of hope. There are going to be sunshine rays and moments you feel like you are floating, too. Make sure the tight rope of hope never ends, there is always more to do, enjoy and live for up ahead.
But do remember to keep low expectations of others: you can’t control them. You can’t expect them. Low expectations = happiness when they do come through.
Let’s review: high hopes for YOU, low expectations for others.
Something has occurred to me.
I am NOT a serious Christian.
I know, I know. I should have realized this a long, long time ago. You have probably already figured this out. Let me illustrate.
Long ago, I was cast to play the part of Maria in our high school production of The Sound of Music. I loved Julie Andrews and the movie version. I loved the part. I loved singing the songs. Unfortunately, a lot of people were upset that I got the part because I was only a sophomore, and that made it a difficult memory for a long time. But you know what, the directors knew I was Maria….
I am prone to twirling, singing at a moment’s notice, dancing wherever I am, blurting out how I feel, being sentimental, a bit bossy, wearing odd clothing, a bit silly, and I have a huge capacity to see the good in others and have a monstrous faith in God that doesn’t quite fit in.
So the part was easy for me.
And I have finally realized, I am no nun. They would never have let me in the convent. I am not the super serious missionary type. I am not the on my knees, verse memorizing, obedient, whispering, calm, sitting in my same spot of the pew, Bible toting, folded hands and eagle art making, law following, kind of Christian. I am not a serious Christian.
(Which is funny, because I do still love a good traditional Lutheran stand up sit down chanty kind of service.)
OH NO. In all reality, I am a waving my arms, dancing in my car and stores, red and rhinestone and punky hair wearing, not so well behaved, yelling, laughing, switching spots and throwing people off at church, throwing out compliments and love to complete strangers, rainbows and crazy art making, deep friendship with God…like talking to Him out loud, kind of Christian.
Another craft show story…I loved when a teenage girl saw a print of Lighthouse which is lyrics to the song by Rend Collective, and she started singing under her breath and doing actions (that she does with little people at her church, so cool). I got goose bumps and couldn’t help singing out loud. At a craft show. Most booths did not have this going on. Random singing.
So NOT SERIOUS.
I have decided to promote even more of this non-serious Christian, Jesus following sort of faith. That is going to be a part of this ministry. It is okay for us to be radical non-serious celebratory Christians. God created me this way, to be not serious. I am going to roll with it. I am going to embrace not being a serious Christian.
And you know the best part? We NEED both kinds of Christ followers. God created us all different for a reason. It is good to be a serious type. It is good to be not serious. IT IS GOOD to have a deep faith in our Creator and Savior. IT IS GOOD to have a close friendship with HIM.
Oh, Black Friday, I have mixed emotions about this day, as I am sure most of you do. The doorbusters and sales make so many of the gifts I want to give at Christmas possible. But the crowds can be so crazy. We all have horror stories of things we have seen or heard of that happened in the crush to get just the right piece of technology or toy.
Today, if you are out, I dare you to take some of the Black out of the retail experience and take a few moments to brighten someone’s day with a little color, a little sunrise of hope, a ray of the sunshine that Jesus has placed in us. The Reason for the Season, right?
It can be little things that spread color. A friend posted a photo on Facebook of a gorgeous sunrise on his way to Kansas City this fall and I had to paint it. It warmed my soul all day. It can be silly videos of kids giggling that trigger a day of smiles. It can be an awesome Christian song from Mercy Me or Big Daddy Weave that leaves me humming and dancing all day.
So before you go out today or shopping all season for that matter, find at least one colorful, little thing that will bring you joy. Pause before you rush out the door and into the traffic, set down the list of wants, and thank God for all of the needs He has met. Then share that joy with the lady pushing in line, the man shaking his fist for a parking spot, the overtired and frustrated retail help. Send up a little prayer for them.
And enjoy the shopping, the blessing of being able to bless those around you, the blessing of people to love, and of being loved. The blessing that God is with us every moment.
I am going to leave this artwork extra big because you have to look for something hidden in the heart. This is a very special God moment, God planned story. Prepare to get chills, because when we built this house in the subdivision, God was there.
I created this piece for one of my super clients, Amy, who is becoming a good friend. She has adopted 5 kids and this was to celebrate them, and she wanted to give this piece to another friend, Holly, who is also adopting. Amy originally planned to give it to Holly later, but decided to give her the print a couple weeks ago over breakfast –coincidentally the same day I was having lunch with Amy and our mutual friend Kerri.
Amy gives Holly the piece and she loves it, (of course). But Holly is especially touched that I included her last name in the artwork. Amy was confused…I didn’t write McDermott anywhere, she hadn’t even told me the names. But what God knew, and what Holly noticed, is that the name of the book’s character is, you guessed it. McDermott. Can you find it? It is everywhere.
The book that I randomly picked up at a garage sale, the pages I randomly ripped up, the pieces I randomly glued and did or did not overlap, all were not so random. That is way too much to be a coincidence. This is a God moment, God wink. God Plan. God is good. All the time. Moment. He was with me, so He could be right up close and send a super cool message to Holly that HE is there.
Of course I was floored when Amy shared this story with me. I got all teary eyed. And I knew. God is using me. He is using me to build a subdivision. This custom home was a model home kind of awesomeness, welcome to the neighborhood, super discount (can’t beat free love and grace), all the bells and whistles and upgrades kind of house.
I think I will keep painting. I think God has a purpose for me and this art, what do you think? Who knows we might have to annex some surrounding towns. 🙂
So how about you? Has my art prompted any God moments for you? Please share them with me, and our little community here!
Hello bloggy followers and friends! I finished my first BIG MAJOR craft show just hours ago. It was a roaring success and I definitely have the confidence to do more of them. It was monetarily successful–lots of people took bags of artwork home. But more so, it was ministry successful. And that means more to me by far.
People cried in my booth. Several times. I cried, too, sometimes. I got goose bumps. I prayed with some of them right then and there. I added some to my prayer lists. I prayed silently for a few. I met students from Olivet Nazarene University who are going to share my cards and artwork. I met a woman opening a Catholic store who would like to sell my work. I met new Christians. I met a man from a Nazi concentration camp. I met people working full time in the ministry. I met a 40 something woman who never thought she or her sister would conceive, and they both believed, and they did. I met a mama who’s heart is going out to her son. I met a grandma who’s grandchild didn’t survive the womb. So many cool people who are now in my heart for good.
God has so many different, wonderful children. He is blessing me with meeting and building up each and every one of you. You are building me UP! So many of the tears were for people who are struggling, really hurting. And to know that my artwork gave them a sense of peace and inspiration, and that they were going to pass that on to others, just overwhelmed me with God’s amazing ability to use me as His hands and feet.
So, I feel like I am building a little subdivision: Townhomes by Nicplynel. Affordable housing, nice landscaping, and super close to this wonderful community built by this awesome developer named Jesus. His are super deluxe homes. And He is willing to share all of His amenities with everyone.
God is good.
All the time…the Olivet students replied.
Or God winks one woman told me.
So true! What do you do when there are too many options? I get stressed out, I question every choice I make, and then I ….clean and reorganize and purge. Paint a new picture. Read a book. Start a completely random sewing project. Anything but what I am supposed to be doing.
For example, I came to the office to call and cancel an appointment. But I hate making phone calls. I saw the computer lit up with the blog and sat down to write this instead.
There are opportunities everywhere we turn these days. Countless events, fundraisers, people, phone calls, emails, websites, advertisements, volunteer needs…for me (someone who has issues with keeping boundaries) it can be completely overwhelming. I have a hard time saying no. I feel guilty saying no. And everyone wants FULL commitment. ALL your time. And then once they get it they seem to want more and more and more.
Hence, the one year sabbatical from volunteering.
I have had to start sitting back and asking myself, “Do I NEED to do this?”
Not CAN I, because of course I can. It is definitely within my talents.
Not even just, do I have TIME for this. I can always make time. I choose how to spend my time.
Not do I WANT to do this. Of course I want to. It would be interesting, fascinating, an excellent learning or social opportunity. I want to support those around me.
But more, is this important to ME. Does this fit in with the priorities that I have for myself at this very point in time. Is this really beneficial for my family, myself, or my business. Is this where Christ is pointing me? That, especially, is the hard question.
Oy, I struggle with this. I actually have a couple friends that I call regularly for just say no pep talks. My mother-in-law calls it SUV–stop unnecessary volunteering (although for me it goes beyond volunteering).
If I must say no to you, if I must bow out, know that these are never easy decisions for me. Do any of you have a hard time with this? How do you handle it?
Yeah, if the dishes need done, the laundry folded, the mail sorted…you know where to find me. Painting at my desk. My mind swirls with art and color all of the time. I am constantly thinking of, and then forgetting, new designs and words. I can tell you all about my art, but not have a CLUE to what day it is, what appointment I am supposed to be at, etc.
Oh well. Not gonna change.
So how about for you? What work do you find yourself doing/thinking about in a form of procrastination?
You see the good stuff, what I think is worthy of making it onto the blog or into the shop. You don’t see the scratched out, never painted, crumpled, thrown away, dumped artworks. You don’t see the overly personal, written all over, super emotional pieces. But still, I only put up what I consider my best images. Although, it never fails, there are always images that I don’t consider important that are best sellers. Who knew?
Isn’t that how life is? Isn’t that what the great game is all about? What we hide as the real self, and what we let the world see and think is our true self. Life is one giant artwork that we try to paint for everyone else to see. But God knows the truth.
Now what I find very interesting about this whole concept is that a lot of times the things we are trying to hide the most are what endear others to us the most. The things that make us unique, that make us human, the special things we share, are what matter the most. When we put up all of our artwork of each day we gain the most.
I try to be pretty transparent on the blog. I feel like God is calling me to keep it real, to confess my limitations.
I think that is what brings some of you back. Or at least I hope that I help you see God in your life and the art in your life. I hope I make you see in a new perspective. Or at least open your eyes to your own perspective.
Do you have a nickname?
Annika and I just finished reading Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. Little Jeffrey is nicknamed Maniac because, well, he is pretty manic about a lot of things. At the end of the book we discussed what significance his nickname had to him, to the other characters, and to the book as a whole. I have a lot of nicknames for Miss Annika: koala, tree frog, monkey, Miss A, Annika bonika, and more. They all have something to do with her personality, they are all special to her, they all endear her to me. Even though she scowls at me, I know that she likes them. They are something special between the two of us.
I love that Jesus has many names. That we can call on him using a moniker that defines the moment and the need. That can define our relationship with him.
In Talledega Nights Will Ferrell has a silly scene where he talks about praying to the baby Jesus, the teenage Jesus, the bearded Jesus. It is silly. But actually I like the point it brings up.
Jesus is who He is to each of us. He just wants to have a relationship with you. He will answer no matter how you call. When we believe, He will bless us with grace and love that knows no bounds. He is God. He hears us, he listens, he knows. He will call you HIS.
I like that.
Emmanuel is my favorite by the way. 🙂 And I prefer the teacher Jesus.