Tag Archives | birds

Practicing pausing

 

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I am learning to practice the pause on a daily basis.  I think I am getting better at it, little by little.

The pause is so powerful.  Just stop, breathe, and call on God.  Then let your heart talk to Him.  Anywhere you are.  Any time of day.  And pray for what He can give you–strength, patience, open eyes, peace, healing, guidance, trust.  I am learning that I can’t pray for specific answers–He doesn’t work that way.  Only He knows what will be best.  I just need to be open to HIS answers, not mine.  And that, dear ones, is what the pause does–it opens us up in a moment to Him.

So often I know that we want to pray for a specific answer that fits in our understanding and desires.  But that isn’t always going to be the answer He gives.  We must remember that Christ promised, promised, we  would have struggles–and most likely more struggles because we are believers.  The world is not going to conform to our beliefs.  The world is not going to live up to our standards.  We must wait for heaven–it is not here on Earth.

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

far more valuable than any birds

Isn’t this fun????  I had such a good time painting this–thinking of what little feathered friends I wanted to invite to this painting party.  Birds of all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities. (Which if you look at each little bird they DO have a personality!  Kind of funny.)

And the best part is the meaning of that verse.  God takes the time to make each birdie unique.  He takes the time to provide for them.  And if He does that for a little ole bird, imagine what care He takes designing and equipping us!

Now that is a good day my friends!!!

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

spread kindness, light, love

Light and love.  Spread that stuff thick.  Like peanut butter.  That has become my mantra for this year.   And I thought I was going to focus on either “enough” or “surrender”.  God is so funny like that!

I just finished this art for this little week long series on houses.  I sketched it last fall, but then it just sat there, no color, no words.  Bleh.  So I painted it, as bright as I could.  I added all the flowers, and the birds, and the little doodad details.  And then I saw something about spread love everywhere on Pinterest–and I thought of this little drawing.  Of a village.  With variety.  A place with a lot of understanding, trust, big and little things, knowledge, treasures.  Light.  and Love.  And Kindness.  You know–knowledge, understanding, all that jazz.  🙂

This is what I want my world to look like I decided.  Happiness and love bouncing around.  Closeness.  Joy, even amongst the hills and valleys.  A place where there are similarities, but no cookie cutters.  A place where kindness, light and love are spread THICK, or at least where I can spread it thickly.

Now, in this little piece, I can kind of see Greenfield, Iowa where I was born and where my parents live again.  Hmmm.  And my aunt made a keen observation–maybe I long for a 3 story house with an art studio on the top level lined with windows so I can see out on all God’s love and light.  Hmmm.  Perhaps someday.

Learned a lot about myself this week.  Did you learn anything?

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

everyone who honors your name

My concentration is off today. Do you ever have those days?

I did the other blog posts for this week over the weekend.  Now it is Wednesday–I was very productive yesterday.  But today–not so much.  I have been wandering from thing to thing.  I go to do something, and get distracted by something else, I called someone but got voicemail, Phoebe did most of her homeschooling by herself.  So I thought, I will sit down and finish my blogging for the week.  And this is all I can come up with!

But the good news with this artpiece is–it works with my state of mind!  Know how?  I know that because I am faithful to God, He will be faithful to me.  I can trust He will help me focus again and get back on track.  I can trust that He will take care of me in the mean time and keep me safe from harm–because who knows what I might do to myself in the meantime.  Probably slide down the stairs, or at least walk into a door.  He will watch out for me that the deadlines I am encroaching on will get filled eventually.

So I am going to say a little prayer here for focus.  Thank Jesus for being faith full when I depend on Him.  And know that my world will be all right.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Trust with All Your Heart

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That is a doozy of a verse now isn’t it?  Trust with ALL your heart.  Do not rely on your own understanding.  When all I want to do is think about something until I have it reconciled in my noggin and go with that plan.  And sometimes I luck out and that is God’s plan, but not all the time.  Actually, rarely.  Because He usually thinks much bigger and outside the box.  I tend to just go with what looks like will be the easiest path.  🙂

But I am getting better at this one.  And I realize every time that my understanding of a situation is so limited.  My rationalizing doesn’t include a full picture.  God’s does.  And when I give stuff over to Him, He seems to do a pretty good job with it.

So I am working on this–using my whole heart to trust.  Relying on God and not myself.  How about you?

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Where Are You Christmas?

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Here is today’s link to music:  The Piano Guys Where Are You Christmas?

I have said it before, I will say it again many times I am sure:  Christmas can be hard.  So let your self remember right now…I know a lot of people see cardinals and think of loved ones:  in fact there is a poem about it.  And there is nothing more beautiful than a bright red cardinal against a snowy white backdrop.  Today, as you listen remember your loved ones who are no longer here, and remember the joys of Christmases past, and know that they are thinking of you and loving you and missing you as well. This cardinal is your sighting for today of your loved one in your memories.  May it bless you.

Song by James Horner and Will Jennings:
Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you?
Why have you gone away?
Where is the laughter you used to bring me?
Why can’t I hear music play?
My world is changing
I’m rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too?
Where are you Christmas? Do you remember
The one you used to know?
I’m not the same one, see what the time’s done
Is that why you have let me go?
Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here
If you care, oh
If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time
I feel you, Christmas, I know I’ve found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love
Where are you Christmas?
Fills your heart with love
Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Serenity Prayer

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I remember seeing this prayer hanging in my Grandmother’s house as a small child.  It is printed on a plaque.  And even as a child I remember thinking it was very wise and correct.

Serenity is NOT a word I would use to describe myself in any way shape or form.  I am a bit of a live wire.  🙂  I realize this, always have been.  My ADD seems to be getting worse again as I get older, and along with it my ability to be serene.

But I do pray for serenity–a state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.  And I do pray for the courage and the wisdom to do so.  I pray this a lot.  A LOT.  I have to pray to calm myself down many many  times a day.

The good news:  it works.  There is something about stopping, taking that deep breath and thinking about the whole courage and wisdom thing that helps me re-center and realize that God has got this, I don’t have to freak out.

How about you?  Do you recite this prayer?  Any memories surrounding it?

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

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Matthew 18:20 Where Gathered by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

 

I will tell you what…it sure is a lot easier to take step #2–the spreading the gospel part–when more believers are gathered!  When we feel like there is someone human standing next to us backing us up.  Because, really, I know God is there with me, but still.  I like someone who can cut in on the conversation when I falter.

And not only when I falter when it comes to the great commission, but anytime, really.  Sometimes, I need a slap on the wrist–stop gossiping, watch your language, don’t worry, you have enough.  And sometimes it sure is lovely to share a hug, a prayer, and a song.

I love hanging with my Christian peeps.  With every move, five states in five years remember, I would search out a church.  Sometimes it was easy, others not so much.  All Christians are not the same.  And that is good.  But when I am hanging out on a wire–I want some birdies just like me.  🙂  That was always a great part of being Lutheran.  I knew if I could find an ELCA or LCMC church, I would know what to do, I would find peeps like me.  I would know the prayers and the songs.

We have been outside Chicago for SEVEN WHOLE YEARS.  That is incredible for us!  And each year we have seen the birds on our wire change.  Some have stayed the whole time, we are constantly adding new, and some flew away but are coming back.  Some migrated and we have never seen them again.

The best part is all the different kinds of peeps.  So many different beliefs, so many different backgrounds, and so many different styles.  I love it.  I am learning so much from all of them.  I have discovered, I just like being gathered with Christians.  They sure are a great group to be with!

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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All the Good From Christ

Scan-008From my dear cousin, Pastor Douglas Hollenbeck…

Each day brings a new set of joys and trials. We find people who need us and who we need in our lives. We find hurt feelings, strong attitudes, pride, jealousy, love, and desire. We find in each day a new challenge to make the day better than the day before. Where to start? Where to start? Let’s start where life begins and the day has its own beginning. Let’s start with Jesus Christ and His love and let our day flow from there. As we begin with Jesus we allow His forgiveness and mercy to fill our hearts as we confess our sins before Him and we receive His will for our lives and our day. Filled with Jesus and covered by His blood we are now ready to go into the world and face it. May you find Christ in the eyes of every person and know God’s will in every situation.

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Isn’t that great!  Such wise words that I had to share, if you follow him on Facebook, he posts words of hope and learning all the time for his parish.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mt-Carmel-United-Methodist-Church/114663744506?pnref=story

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Everyone Can Do It

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Everyone Can Give It by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

So encouragement.  Don’t think you can walk up to random people and give them a compliment?  Brighten their day? Make them feel special?

Of course you can silly!

Here is a little story of how it can work, and help:

Our post office people in Lockport have a reputation for crankiness.  They used to drive me bonkers.  But the more I stop by there with orders, the more I see the silliness they must cope with.  So I decided to hand out some compliments, and hopefully add to their day in a positive way rather that add to their drudgery. –I complimented one woman’s ring, another day I noticed the other woman was more tan (turned out she is going on vacation), another time I commented on how well the man was handling all the crazy passport business.  I did or said other little things for patrons.  And you know what?  It worked!  Hallelujah!  Now I get grins, jokes, and better service.  And sometimes, we get other patrons to smile too.

Just like the birds on a wire, who will always make room for another, we can always make room in our hearts to encourage another of God’s family.  It is something we can all do.  And it takes seconds.  And it reflects back to us–it encourages our selves.  It pays it forward.  And it eventually will spread like wildfire.  Encouragement.  Everyone can do it.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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I Want to Be With Me

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Be Who You Want to Hang Out With by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Aren’t these little guys funny?  I have no idea why I drew them like this–I probably saw something on Pinterest that inspired them.  They make me smile.

Those are the kinds of people I like to be with–the ones who SMILE A LOT.  The ones who make me want to smile a lot.

It took some hard self-reflection to understand this concept.  Not long ago, I spent a lot of time with people who didn’t smile a lot.  I had things in common with them.  We could talk easily.  But I didn’t like who I was when I was with them.  And I discovered I was becoming someone I didn’t want to be with–think about that–not wanting to be with your own self because you are disgusted with your own heart.

I had let a lot of bitterness fill me.  The depression was taking over.  I didn’t smile much.  I was constantly annoyed.  I blamed it on my circumstances and everyone around me.  And then I realized.  I was the circumstance.  I was the nasty person.

So I made changes.  I did what I needed to medically control the depression. I prayed and prayed for the bitterness to be set free.  I decided my circumstance wasn’t going to change–we weren’t moving–so I needed to find reasons to like where I live.  I needed to make my house what I wanted.  I needed to give of my gifts and stop letting people take what they wanted.  I made more time for the people who make me smile, and let go or either budgeted small amounts of time for the unhealthy relationships.

And it made a huge difference.  I like ME again.  I am someone I would want to spend time with.  And I realized:  some people will want to be with, will need, what this version of me has to give–others will not.  And that is a wonderful lesson to be okay with.

Have you ever had to learn this lesson?

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

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I don’t remember why I redid this saying.  Sometimes I will re paint one if I am not happy with the results.  But I like both of these.  Maybe God was sending me a message…

Do you ever feel unneeded?  It can be unnerving to not feel like no one wants what you have to give.  I have felt it at the beginning of our moves.  I have heard that seniors and empty nesters cope with this feeling.

And then there are other times, when we feel very needed but not wanted for our own gifts.  When the kids were really little, I was often overwhelmed by their need for me to attend to their every whim.  But at the same time, I love caring for them to this day.  I am filled with a sense of purpose, rightness, and love when I can do for them.

What do you have to give that someone needs?  And I am not talking about the over-volunteering kinds of needs that go on in our culture–the fundraising, the time-the whatever–the fulfilling of someone else’s selfishness.  Because there is a big difference people.  I am talking about your GIFTS.  What has God blessed you with as a talent that someone needs right now?

I had to discover the hard way that I need to give in my gift areas.  It is not fulfilling when it has to be taken–it is overwhelming, and stripping.  But when I focused in on giving of my favorite talents, the things that truly come from my heart–it was and is the best thing ever.  And I found people who needed me in that way.

Take a minute today to reflect–what are people taking and what are you giving?  What do they need from your heart?

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Through Christ I CAN

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Phillipians 4:13 I Can Do All Things Through Christ by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I learned a hard lesson the last couple weeks:  I cannot work at night.  I am a zombie after 8 o’clock.  If you have spent an evening with me, you know this is true.  But I thought I could stay up late to finish projects. And I screwed them up.  I was continually frustrated.   So last week, I got smart and woke up early and worked then.  MUCH better results.  And, I always start with my time with God.  Coffee, Bible, art–then computer, orders, writing, etc.  MUCH better.  I can because He guides me.  I can because Jesus fills me.

Because Christ strengthens me.  He is with me as I sleep.  He renews me.  And then I wake up to His Word ready to soak it up.  Ready to let it build my faith muscle.  I can look out on the morning, see His creation, hear His birds, and feel His love filling me. Just as He fills His creation.  He does this for ALL of us.

Jesus calls out to each of us.  He so wants to strengthen us.  He wants to fill every heart with his power.  Isn’t that amazing?  He wants to help strengthen us by taking all the hard stuff.  God wants to replace all that hard stuff with love and grace.

I can’t imagine being without that kind of power.  I will hold tight to it.

How about you?  Will you let Jesus strengthen you today?

 

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

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Try Try Again by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I was playing around with different bird shapes for this drawing.  I have a Pinterest board just for different ways to sketch little birdies (follow me here) along with hundreds of other pins about journaling, drawing, watercolor, beautiful photos, art lessons, quotes, Bible verses.  It is a wonderland of ideas.  I love seeing other people’s artwork.  But sometimes, it gets those doubts churning.  That is when I have to remind myself to just try.  No one else is expecting perfection.  Everyone else is just trying.  It is okay.  I don’t need to recreate anything anyone else makes, I need to try to make my own story and art.

I honestly do not believe that God thinks we will ever be perfect here on Earth.  I think He knew as soon as Eve took that bite that it was all over, it was all just a matter of trying for each person from then on out.

Why do non-believers expect Christians to be perfect?  That is something I don’t understand.  Isn’t that the whole point of being a Christian?  We realize we are not perfect and that we need God in our lives to help lead our choices.  We know we need grace.  We believe God/Jesus/Holy Spirit is the only possible perfect thing ever.  We believe every day is another day to try.

Does it have anything to do with, especially as Christians, we expect ourselves and/or each other to be perfect?  Why is that?  I don’t get it at all.  Why we do we hold each other/ourselves to a level that we KNOW is unattainable?  Why can’t we all just be happy when we are each trying?

Not too many conclusions today.  Lots of questions.  But I do know this:  I need to expect less perfection from me.  I need to expect only that I try, and the same for all those I encounter.

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Spirit Fill My Words

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The Spirit Will Teach You What To Say by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Sometimes I am worried about what I should say.  There is the trick!  You all know I can talk a blue streak.  That has never been an issue.  My report cards were filled with, “Joy to have in class, talks way too much.”  LOL  But, because I tend to vomit words, I worry about what will come out.  My mom has been trying to teach me since I was a toddler to think before I speak, but I just never mastered that.

In fact, if you speak with me, you will probably notice that sometimes two or three thoughts will try to come out at the same time.  And I have to stop myself and back track.  You will notice that the stories I tell are quite long, because all the details are stuck in my head and to me, important, to you–not so much probably.  So I have to stop myself and focus on the main point of the story.  (Truly I am so visual that I could include exactly what every person was wearing, the lighting, the details of the space–total visual overload.)

See, I digress.  Back to what I should  be saying.

When it is important what words I use, I am getting better at relying on the Spirit to fill me.  God is so good that way.  Have you ever prayed with someone and the words just fall out–you don’t think them, afterwards you have no idea where they came from, but they were so right.  That’s Holy Spirit.  Have you ever been giving advice to a friend, only to hear some new insight come out, that may not have been yours?  That’s Holy Spirit.

When we are open to letting the Holy Spirit lead us, He will fill us mind, body, and soul.  He will bless our words and actions with love, grace, and peace.  He will fill us with a light that will emanate through our very words.  Our words will then bless all those around us.  They will share the gospel in everything we say.  Because there will be that undercurrent, that electricity of Spirit in them.

I pray that the Holy Spirit fills us all.  That He overtakes all of our words.  That He helps us share the light of Jesus.

No worries.  Holy Spirit will teach you what to say at the very hour you need it.  Amen.

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