An Extra Special, Custom Home

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.

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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!

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
2

building my own subdivision

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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.

God moments.

Or God winks one woman told me.

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

IMG_0009So 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?

 

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0

Procrastination

IMG_0033Yeah, 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?

 

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

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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.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
7

All his names

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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.

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Keeping perspective this holiday

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And then there is this piece.  I had to do one silly one.  But, really, this is the one I might need in poster size on my mirror every morning.

I love the Christian part of Christmas.  I am not a gifts and Santa kind of person.  I dread it…starting NOW I break into a sweat anytime I consider having to find something for someone else.  I put too much pressure on myself.  Writing about it is giving me the heebie jeebies.  My weird mental block with gifts is a whole lifetime with a psychiatrist worth of story, let alone in a blog post.

I usually get all worked up, end up on a soapbox, or hiding in a corner, and really just want to stay in my room for the season.

So this is my mantra this year…don’t get your tinsel in a tangle Nicole.  Keep it cool.  Keep it loose.  Focus on the love.  Untangle my thoughts, my emotions, my hot buttons.

Instead let the tinsel shine…let it sparkle…let it be the love/the icing on the tree.  Let it shine in the front window to let everyone see the celebration of love and Jesus.

How about you?  Does your tinsel get tangled?  Will you join me in trying to enjoy this season this year?

Or, are you one of the lucky ones who has always enjoyed it?

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
1

Mary at Christmas

IMG_0010She sure did!

Talk about a huge leap of faith, pushing yourself to your own limits, inspiring others by persevering.

She is literally the mother of all motivation.

She gave herself over, let go of it all, let God work in her.  She let Him turn her life upside down so that He could turn ours right side up through Jesus.

I wish I could  give her a fist bump.

Now, it is our turn to believe.  To believe that we CAN.  That we can believe, that we can go past our limits, that we can inspire others, that we can believe in love and Christ, that we can give it up, let it go, turn upside down to share the truest love ever.

She did.  You do.

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
0

Christmas previews

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I tend not to be inspired for Christmas.  I have a hard time coming up with images I like usually.  Actually, Christmas is not one of my favorite holidays…I let the stress get to me.  I prefer Easter.  But I knew that for Christmas Crossroads I should really have some holiday merchandise. (So yes, this will be for sale soon in Etsy as well.)

But this year, I am kind of looking forward to Christmas.  I am in a better place inside my head, I have let a lot of things go that bugged me about the holiday season, and I have a new plan for coping, a new plan to focus on faith and not the secular reasons for the celebration.  And so, the images came much easier.

I found words that were not as used, a little off the beaten path, fresh to me–with no connections to past stresses.  I was able to consider Christmas in a whole new way, and it came out in my journals and the artwork.

love this idea.  True love was born in a stable.  The purest, most sacrificial, deepest, most profound love ever.  It came in the purest and newest form.  I like to think of the love radiating from that stable that most precious of nights.  O holy night, the stars were brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.  Can you see the love reflecting from the stars?  God sent Jesus that night for each of us.  The best gift ever.  The  strongest proof ever of his enduring promises for us.

Yes, true love was born in a stable.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
0

Autumn Trails

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Hopefully we have had a beautiful drive through autumn trees.

Maybe not, probably mostly interstate.  But you know, a girl can always look hard for the beautiful.  Right?

I loved this quote when I saw it.  Straight paths can be so boring.  I walk the same sidewalk path every day with Belle.  Sometimes, when I am singing I go ahead and close my eyes and dance along and let Belle lead me along because I trust it will be the same old safe path as always.  Only once have I ran into a bush.

But you  know what is the best?  When you go hiking someplace new.  Or walking in a new city.  And you go around a bend/over a hill/through a tunnel and BLAMMO something new is there.  And it is the best thing ever.  I mean, like ,ever.

Ever feel like your life is that way?  Ever feel like being a Christian is that way?  You think you know what is up ahead.  Then God proves you wrong.  Sometimes its good, sometimes it hurts a lot more than running into a bush.  But Jesus always leads us to Him, salvation, heaven. LOVE, eventually, and the most amazing view,  EVER

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
0

I am, You are

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I am writing ahead of time again, because we are on the road, again.  This time we are headed to Virginia/Washington D.C to stay with dear framily–friends from Jeff’s GMAC days who, over all the moves and years, we have managed to stay close to.  Plus, I decided to take advantage of their current location for some excellent Civil War homeschooling opportunities.  And Jeff tends to be a war buff.

This week’s posts will be short and sweet.

Something to enjoy looking at, with just a bit to ponder.  Hopefully.

So in this month of thanksgiving, did you give thanks for yourself yet?  Because you are pretty stinking awesome.  And a lot of people are thankful for you.  Jesus is thank-full for you.

Make a list of why you should be thankful for YOU.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
0

More of the same

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Happy Halloween!  I don’t really have a good piece of artwork for the holiday.  I actually did a piece based on “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe for a show and that really pushed me.  I don’t really have much of a dark side.

But I do love costumes and candy!

I did read an article from Kirk Cameron (my favorite hottie as a teenager, be still my heart) who is now a steadfast Christian.  He was encouraging Christians to celebrate Halloween–since really it is a celebration of life over death.  A party to remember those who have gone ahead of us to heaven.  And a chance to party like rockstars that we get to go, too.

Looking for how I am going to tie all this together?               Wait for it…………….

So even though we are all different human beings, dressed up all different, celebrating in different ways, we are all alike that we are God’s babies and that He celebrates our birth and our death when we return to Him.

That is cause for chocolate people!

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
1

Family music

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Music is pretty important to me, can you tell?  I grew up in a family of musicians and singers.  One of my favorite all time memories is my mom’s side –sometimes as many as 30 of us–all singing the prayer before meals in four part harmonies and then singing carols at Christmas to the piano.  We had many music majors in college, some trained voices, some just beautiful in their own right.  We have had people remark on the wealth of talent among us and how the family blends to create such beautiful sounds.  Such a gift from God for each of us, to His glory.

(This is a choir singing “Be Present at Our Table Lord”…we sound pretty close to this when we sing it, for real.  We sing a few different lyrics.  click here)

And each time we sing together I remember how God has created us all as individuals, blood relations, but all so different.  The music overlooks all those differences to bring us together and make us one in the song.

Every family has its issues.  Some days my kids hate each other and are having knock down drag out punching fights.  Others they are rolling on the floor, hugging, giggling, tickling and loving on each other.

I know families that spend every waking moment together.  And others who do not even speak to each other.  There are families that have caused damage and pain.  There are families that the love they share is almost surreal.  Some families are the same DNA, some are friends who feel like family.  Some we choose, some not.

Because, really most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle, some low notes, some high notes, lots of harmonies among the melodies.  Lots of orchestral pieces.  Some heavy metal drum and electric guitar riffs.  Some lullabies.  Some dirges.  Some off key in the shower karaoke tunes from the 80’s.  Some Grammy winners.

ALL beautiful.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
0

Pandora Play list

Pandora gave me the best play list on Thursday October 23.  I was walking Belle, singing and dancing like usual, but even more so because of the powerful music they gave me that morning.  I came home and wrote down the songs and decided I needed to share. I shared the first song the other day.  The second one was “Strong God” by Desperation Band.  I found this link about when he wrote it and it came from this same verse:

 

Here is the link to the story behind the song which is pretty stinking cool:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGT1lrsIgmo

Which made me think about the last post and looking for who God wants us to see.  And about proclaiming how Good is Our Savior.  Especially to those who are in need.  Some of who we can see have physical needs.  Some may have emotional needs that aren’t readily visible.  But Jesus knows, and He sends us to do His work.

The chorus:

“Sing out, lift your voice and cry out.  Awesome is our strong God, mighty is our God.

Sing out , raise your hands and shout out.  Awesome is our God!

There is no higher, NO, there is no greater, NO, there is no stronger, than our God!”

He IS awesome.  I will sing, I will raise my hands, I will do His work.  I think you will too.  Am I right?

So here is the song:  Desperation Band:  Strong God

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
0

a Look and listen ATTItUDE

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Attitude really is everything isn’t it?  When we decide to LOOK for GOOD in people we see it.

For example:

the tattoo artist/owner who :  one of the kindest men I know, donates money to charity and is trying to build his town up.

the bartender who:  will drop everything to talk to a friend and help, and shows up for every single one of his son’s games…and some of my daughter’s.

the mailman who:  is the crankiest man alive and I FINALLY got him to smile and crack a joke the other day.

To look for the good, to listen for the good, to feel the extraordinary in every day –the amazing gift of life and love, and then to share it with EVERY SINGLE PERSON.

 

 

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