Tag Archives | encouragement

Imperfection

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Ha!  I made this one to remind myself that I don’t have to make perfect, beautiful art every time.  I can just get some thoughts out and enjoy the process.  But it is also the perfect thing to post next because I realized Thursday this week that I double posted Monday and Wednesday.  I forgot I already had posts ready to roll, and wrote new ones.  Imperfection, unorganization, reality at its best people.

Working full time is an adjustment for me and the kids.  How I divide up my time is very different.  My energy level at night is even lower than before.  Thank goodness everything is within 5 blocks of us and I don’t have to race around as much!

We all need this reminder though don’t we?  Imperfection is okay. Only God is perfect.  And He never expects us to be at His level.  He expects us to create our own magic within the imperfection.  To allow our souls to have wiggle room to grow, to relax.  And most importantly to turn to HIM.

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Verbs: #6 Watch

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More verbs!  Everywhere we look thee is advice to follow in our world.  which do we choose to do/follow?  Where and when to we get God’s answers?  That there is the tricky part.  Listening for what GOD is saying, not some person on tv or the radio.  And the hard part is when you want an answer right now, but you have to wait months for one.  Because of course, God works in His own sweet time.  Bugger.

God totally has a sense of humor about this too–I am not kidding.   That Lauren Daigle song “Trust in You” came on every time I got in the car for the last three weeks.  I finally put in a cd because I couldn’t take it anymore.  Then…I finally handed it over and trusted, and I got an answer.  And I know it is what HE planned, because it wasn’t what I had thought would happen.  I know in my heart, it is from HIM.  I just had to watch for it.

Here is the song if you don’t know which one…Lauren Daigle “Trust”

 

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Working toward that goal

not that I have obtained

Goals.  Plans.  Dreams.

All of them to be obtained in the future.

There are so many quotes about future.  So many philosophies.  Live in the now.  Plan for tomorrow.  Savor this moment.  Reach for dreams.

It can all seem confusing.  Which one do I do?  Which fits today?  tomorrow?  It can seem like a constant state of confusion and limbo.

One thing is certain…don’t linger on the past.  It’s done.

And when we know that we belong to Christ Jesus it is even easier to not linger on the past.  We can look forward…a long long long ways.  Into eternity.  So really this little moment today is infitesimal compared to the goal of heaven.  Not that it is easy to do, but it sure is a better use of our time.

 

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New Shapes in Different Seasons

what shape tree

The quote is by David Whyte–sorry they keep getting covered…a lot of my art this winter used up every square inch of the paper.  I seemed to go outside the edges constantly.  As if I couldn’t contain my thoughts.  This tree isn’t one of my favorites, but I like the sky–and the quote.

We never know what shape is inside us, not really, do we?  I can spread my branches as wide as I want growing and reaching.  And sometimes they get broken off.  And sometimes, that’s ok.

I have realized something about myself the past six months.  I thought I had a good shape for my career plan.  I like speaking to large groups, but I discovered, I prefer them to be small children.  🙂  I like teaching, but the weekends and nights are adding a lot of stress and chaos to a family that already has enough.  And really–I am not a chaos kind of girl.  I like routines.  Like blogging and art journaling.  That routine brings me a lot of peace–and that carries into my day and how I interact with my family.

So I need to rethink my shapes and branches to what really works in THIS season of life.  Have you ever felt like that?  God may have plans for us, we may have capabilities.  But there are definite seasons for when they should be used, or should wait.

The wonderful thing is that God planted talents inside our seeds knowing those seasons would come.  He understood when He designed each of us what shapes and branches would happen.  But He understood some seasons would be beautiful growing weather, and others would have storms and droughts.  We just have to trust that He will reveal to us what shapes.  And remember that He trusts us to LEARN from the growth and the storms.

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Fruits of the Spirit–or Road Directions?

fruit of the spirit

If you look closely, you can see this started with actual pieces of fruit in the background.  What a silly.  As soon as I did it, I knew it was all wrong, and it sat unfinished for a month.  BUT, then I went in and learned from the lesson, was true to myself, and GOD, and let HIS words shine through–in the art, and for my life.   I do like how that mix of color ended up working behind the verse.  And more importantly Galations 5:22 is helping me figure out what God has planned for me in this next season.  This list isn’t just a list–it is a set of directions.  Have you ever looked at it that way?  I never had, but when I did, it changed my thinking and my heart.  I had plans–to paint fruit, to be a traveling speaker.  Mmmhmm.  And God is using this to remind me–Nicole’s plans did not result in the fruits of the SPIRIT, at least not all of them.  My plans don’t give me peace, patience, generosity, gentleness, or self control.  BAH.

God did not intend for us to only get HALF of His gifts, that would be a shame.  He planned for us as Christ followers to attempt to attain all of them.  He wants us to live in the fullness of Christ, through the gifts of the Spirit.  THAT is God’s plan.  And that is when I realized this was the road map to my future, this was truly a gift of the Spirit to lead me in my seasons.  This was the gift of discernment I had been praying for all along.

Look at your current plans–those you have, those God might have.  Now line them up with this list–do they correlate?  Which ones? If they all do, praise Jesus you are on the right track you lucky duck!  If not, maybe you are like me.  We need to rethink how our plans, and need to follow God’s directions so that we can gain more of those Spirit fruits.  Because I don’t know about you, but that list is pretty tantalizing.  I crave that list.  My hope is that you do too.

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I am a mess…

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I love Elizabeth Gilbert.  Her new book, Big Magic, is fabulous.  I actually listened to it with Emily at Little Pastiche Art Studio.  So many truths about being creative and living in that realm–because it is just a little different.  We all know it.  Creatives have that reputation.

I am a hot mess a lot of the time.  I really need a routine that I can follow. But my life is not a routine.  It is far from it.  Jeff’s job, my jobs, homeschooling, volunteering, kid/ sports /activities–very little of it is routine.  And I mess it up REGULARLY.  In spectacular ways.  Big fireworks ways.  And I take those closest to me along for the explosion.    The part of me that wants to over achieve, get it right all the time, be superwoman, best sports/dance mom ever falls short and frustrates me.  And I feel guilty.  And then I get mad at myself, and others think I am mad at them (well, maybe I am sometimes).  Although I am trying not to do that as often.  I am trying to clean up some of my mess.

But I am also trying to embrace the glorious mess that I am.  It is what makes me, me, after all.  I am not going to get it right all the time.  I AM a creative.  I am human.  We are busy and running in all directions.  I have dear friends and family who are willing to accept my glorious mess, it is time for me to do so as well.

 

 

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I am What I am

I am by grace of God

The other part of God loving us and creating us each uniquely is His grace that He extends to us.  He loves us so much that He gives us opportunity after opportunity to be the best version of what He created.

By His GRACE.

We don’t earn it.  He just gives it to us.  For being ourselves.  For acknowledging that He made us.  For believing He saves us–each and every moment we live.

That is a lot to live up to–and it could feel overwhelming.  Until we realize.  It simply is NOT.  It is just a sweet breath of grace blowing through each of us.  It is confidence in being loved.  It is the confidence to be who He created.

And I raise my arms to reach out to Him in praise.  His grace is not in vain–I will live up to His expectation for me, to be me.

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He made Me me

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This piece started out as a demo for two different videos over on Bible Stories from the Heart. (Which our new devotion is out on Amazon and starts this week! And you can watch both videos on our YouTube channel. )  I needed to show different ways to use washi tapes and then I went forward and made another video on a mixed media piece.  At first it felt like a hot mess, and then it all came together in the end–and it felt like ME.

Sometimes, okay, most of the time, I feel like a hot mess.  I feel like I just don’t quite fit in.  I feel a little too loud, a little too boisterous, a little too short, a little too artsy, a little too wiggly, a little too annoying or needy, a little too—well different.

And then I remember.  God created ME.  He meant for me to be this way, and I am doing a good job of embracing that.  God loves me and loves me well.  And that is what really matters.  He didn’t plan for me to be one of the people that blends in.  I am not a brown sparrow.  And if I am going to stick out even when I try to be a brown sparrow, well, heck, I might as well go all in and be peacock.  Only smaller. Maybe a ruby throated hummingbird-tiny, constantly moving.  Only too quiet.

I digress.  See?

What matters is…understanding God made us all different on purpose.  And He loves each of us uniquely and purely and completely.  Do you feel that love?  Do you understand the power of that?  He loves you as YOU.

Can I get an Amen Hallelujah!

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According to Faith

according to your faith

Good morning!  Sorry I missed a couple days…I didn’t get them scheduled before my trip and it took me a couple days to recoup.  I needed Tuesday to sleep from early flights and excitement and Wednesday was all about recovering my house and pantry–they ate everything and wore everything.  😉

I am feeling like this verse is so so true right now…my faith has deepened an incredible amount in the last five years, and especially the last two.  And God is using my willingness to surrender to Him for His good works and is blessing me accordingly.  90 women showed up Monday night and studied the Word through art with Leslie and I.  And it touched a lot of hearts–new friendships were made, connections were made, some broke out in giggles of excitement, some shed tears of restoration.  It was just what we hoped it would be.

But I also know of people going through some tough tough situations right now.  How is their faith reflected in that?  I suppose that is the age old question.  In my BSF Revelation study right now I have learned that God uses those times to bring us that much closer to Him.  And sometimes He is using His faithful followers to bring others to Him through those difficulties.  I know that as I see faithful ones responding to hard times… I am encouraged.  It helps me focus on God.  It makes me look back on my hard seasons and see the growth, see how God never left, and it does bring me closer.

Our faith does not promise we will not be persecuted by sickness, grief, financial issues, relationship woes–if anything the Bible tells us we may end up being tested by Satan that much more to pull us away from our faith in Christ.

We must remember there will be riches in joy and peace here on earth according to our faith.  But there will be far more riches of joy and peace in heaven when we can be right next to our Savior.

So I am grateful for the good things in my life now–for a wonderful event and trip, for a great partner in Leslie, a loving and supportive family, and all of YOU.   I lean on my faith in God that deepens everyday. I am thankful for the dark time that led me to faith art journaling and this ministry.  And I am ready for the storms that will come, for I know according to my faith…it will all be good.

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What Has Happened

what has happened has helped

Phillipians 12:12

 When I happened across this verse (Paul writing in prison), I knew exactly how I wanted to put it into artwork.  You know I love me some stones and especially a path! His wording really stood out to me.  Even though good and bad things had happened to him, he realized how it all worked together for good.  So this time I wanted the stones to be colorful to represent all the different things that happen in a lifetime that build a path.

And for me–it is the bad things as much as the good things that got me to here today.  If it hadn’t been for that crazy bad depression in 2011 I would not have started art journaling my faith.  My artwork wouldn’t have developed into my own style, I wouldn’t have a blog or a business and I wouldn’t be using all that to spread the gospel.  Even though that depression was Baaaaad with a capital B, it brought me to here, closer to God, closer to you.

There are a lot of good things too–I have had a lot of wonderful Christians on that path.  A lot of great experiences.  They all came together to this point.  That’s why the stones are all different shapes and colors, no two are alike or have more impact–just different.

How about you?  What does your path look like?  Has it brought you to a spot you can help spread some light and love?  Or not quite yet?  Have you ever looked at your past in this distinctive perspective? Take a few minutes today and contemplate that.

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Witnesses

witnesses to end of earth

I hate it when I get used by people, don’t you?  You know that there is nothing in it for you at all.  You can tell that nothing is genuine.  Yuck.

Except when that person is Jesus. And He is totally using me people.  And in this instance it is so cool.

Jesus called us to the great commission for a reason–to share His light and love, to encourage each other daily to the ends of the earth.  To witness to as many as we can–until everyone has had an opportunity to choose light and love.  See that hand up there–it represents all the roads we can take, how they can all intersect, how they can spread everywhere.  It also represents what happens when we are witnesses–the truth of light and love starts flowing through our veins, it is imprinted in our hands.  Everything we touch can be filled with light and love.  Super cool.

I want to keep sharing lots and lots and lots of light and love.  I get to do that through my art.  I shared lots of ways you can support my ministry yesterday–but really this is GOD’S ministry.   He is using me.  And He wants to use you.  

“Ew!” you might think. ” I am not ready to witness.  My road is short right now.  I don’t even know how to witness!”

WELL, I am going to make it super easy for you.  Share my artwork.  Let it lead people to Jesus.  Hopefully it will help them ask questions.  You can use my artwork in lots of ways–schedule a workshop with me at your church, buy some prints to give away, or just share this blog on Facebook or through email.  Let’s spread some light people! Let’s go to the ends of the earth.  Let’s make some roads that lead right back to God.

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Encourage DAILY

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This is what the blog is all about people.  I hope that it encourages you.  I hope that it encourages you to encourage others.  Share it, pass it on, live the love and light.  Laugh.

On this day when we remember Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. , I think he would like this quote–he wanted us to build each other up every day called today.  Move past the yesterdays.  And the more we focus on what we can do right for all peoples this day–the more the future will take care of itself.

Go.  Encourage someone.

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Be Made New

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My devotions this week included the story of Sodom and Gomorrah –which I had forgotten this was from Genesis, I was thinking it was later in the OT–but anywhoo…  In the commentary by David Preuss he made several points that fit perfectly with my theme this week on the blog that I just have to share with you.

“There has been no ‘golden age’…yet there is a great temptation to begin living in the past.”

“Nostlgia for the past is understandable.  If it becomes a hindrance to positive forward action it is destructive.  It will harden its adherents into an unmoving block of salt.”

Well said David Preuss.

We all know someone who is so bitter about the past that it colors every relationship of now because they just can’t let go. Maybe it is even our self.  I know I have been there, and when I finally realized the truth of the situation it improved those relationships dramatically.

We all know that person who still reminds everyone of their “glory days”, yet have nothing to show for a new life.

We all know that person who demands that life was so much less violent before–um, hello?  Have you studied any of the revolutions?

Maybe kids were more respectful and independent long ago–they were also orphaned as children, worked in factories (child labor), and grew up poor.  Wait…weren’t half of them refugees from European countries?  Isn’t that how most Americans originally got here?

We must remember there is always the other side of the past–the parts we hide from ourselves to make it all look better in our memory.

There is also the other half of our TODAY:  being made NEW!  We have an opportunity every single stinking day to get it right.  Especially when we call on Jesus to help us with that.  Remember our focus yesterday?  Light and love.  Love and light.  That is part of being made new.  And it can be awesome when we let ourselves enjoy a new day, a new opportunity, a new reality every day.

And if you want a little music inspiration to help:  Lincoln Brewster’s “Made New”

 

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Bravest Thing

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This piece is a little different from what I usually post.  I make more collage pieces, but they tend to be more personal in nature, so they don’t make it onto the blog.  And they tend to be messy on the paper as well as emotionally messy.  But this one is different.  I had fun collaging bits from my desk that are part of my story:  stamps (travel, writing), hearts/love, growth, circles and cycles, birds, measurement, music, a J for Jeff–and then a random goldfish, just because I liked it.  🙂

But it is the quote that really spoke to me and that made me want to share this piece.  I am pretty open about my fight with depression these days, but I wasn’t always.  And fighting through the process to healing was definitely the hardest and bravest thing I did do.  And coming out on the other side loving myself, giving myself grace.

I did a presentation at a MOPS group a few weeks ago.  I was supposed to be talking about faith art journaling, and I did, but what I ended up emphasizing was owning my story and the process that brought me to healing and the part art played in it.  I think the coordinator was disappointed–she wanted more of an art lesson.  But I had three women come up to thank me for sharing.  They felt like they had heard their own stories, diagnoses, and felt they weren’t alone as I spoke.  God sent me to them that day.  God knew I needed to own my story and be brave about it to help those other women.  It was worth it.

Love your self today enough to be brave today and own your story.  You never know where it will take you.

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I am His lighthouse

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I have been worrying a lot lately.  I know, I know, I preach don’t worry.  But I am human, and there have been several things in the last month that I just don’t feel sure about.

I have not been faith full.  I have not been constant.

And yet, God is coming through on my prayers.  Despite myself, I am His.  What an amazing light in the darkness.

As I have prayed, with eyes closed, I see a light behind my closed lids.  I am sure there is some scientific thing about the light transferred or mirrored or some such thing.  But to me, it is like seeing the light of God shining as a beacon to remind I am His, He will take care of everything in His own time.  Sometimes faster than I expected, sometimes slower.  But He is always there reminding me.  What a comfort and joy!

I hope that you see that light and are reminded as well.

 

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