Tag Archives | listen and follow

Respond with Faith

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Because we are imperfect, faith is always the answer.  We might come up with other answers, but they probably are not the best ones.  When we take that pause and ask how would God want me to react, we find the strong answers, the ones that may be difficult, but that will lead us to a better place in the long run.  We find the ones that will help us move forward with love and respect for ourselves and those around us.  And sometimes doing the hard this is loving.  Sometimes doing what may not seem loving actually is the most imperfect, best idea that will  bring about the answers truly needed.

When you ask a question, when someone asks you a hard question, let faith answer.

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

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

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Fruits of the Spirit–or Road Directions?

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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.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Let Them Grow Together

wheat-and-weedsMatthew 13:  29-30

This is from Jesus’ parable of the weeds.  A man sows good seed in his field and during the night an enemy sows weeds among the good wheat.  The servants ask if they should pull the weeds.  But the man replies… the above verse…let them grow together until the harvest and then we will separate them.

I let a giant thistle grow in my garden last spring.  I mistakenly thought it was a poppy.  (Hey–just look at a poppy leaf, they are similar!)  The thistle turned out to be just a weed, one that my daughter lovingly deemed the devil’s flower.  But at the same time it wasn’t–I have always loved the purple color of the blossoms, and I like the texture of the leaves.  And they are the favorite food of goldfinches, who kept tabs on the plant hoping they could get a taste.

As I have studied Revelation this year, I see just how much God follows this strategy.  He lets the weeds grow, they have purposes, and He is waiting until the harvest to give them chances.  There are weeds around me all the time testing my faith, giving me opportunities to see how I might react, if the weed might have worth and will I give it that possibility.  And to share my faith and hope that maybe, they aren’t just a weed–but just a different kind of plant that will in turn yield its own kind of good fruit.

I am human, no matter how hard I try not to be judgemental, but it happens.  In my head pops an opportunity that I have missed.  I am not giving that person the chance I should, and I need to right that wrong.  And I am humbled, because a good friend is giving that person an opportunity.

I am sure there are others…but this is the weed God might be calling me to.  Ever have those?  Who are the ones we consider weeds right now?  God is leaving them there until the harvest.  How can we see the worth in that plant and give them a chance to bear fruit in Christ?

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

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Here is another way to RISE UP.  Stand tall.

This one isn’t flying, or climbing, but standing tall.  (Even for a shorty 5’2″ like me!)  Standing GIRAFFE tall.  One night this fall I sat down and sketched  several animals and then added the verses and thoughts later–a frog, a lightning bug, a giraffe, an elephant and owl.  Hence, why I planned an all animal week to share.  I did not plan that they would come together this way.  But they are.

Rising up–going to new places and new heights.

Until He returns.  Studying Revelation–the preparations for Christ to return for His believers and all the many steps to give people more opportunities to believe.  For me, it is learning that God needs me to help with this.

Calls me home.  He is calling me, and you dear friend, to draw near to Him.  Someday, it will happen in a very permanent way. But even during our time on Earth, He wants us to grow in faith and be close to His heart.

In the power of Christ I stand. This is the sweet spot.  Where the roads are clear.  In the light.  Where we can shine and climb and rise up.

This, this place of height, is where I should be.  Standing tall and proud of my faith.  Ready to leave that legacy –that I am proud of the art talent God gave me.  I am proud of my faith.  I want to share the sweet peace of it with everyone.  And because I am trusting, God is making that platform bigger every day.

How can He make a difference in you?  What is your height?  Are you proud of your faith?  Or hiding behind it?  Are you in the sweet spot of Christ’s light in your life?   Are you READY to be?

 

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

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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.

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

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I sketched this on the plane to Atlanta this August.  I almost missed the flight, but God opened some paths.  After takeoff I pulled out my devotions and Bible and this was the verse.  He reminded me that it is His plan not mine that will work.

I am not sure what that right direction is right now.  It is my busiest time of year with lots of Christmas orders, custom requests flying in every other day, shows, and art to create—and our modem broke.  I can use Jeff’s business computer when he is not home because mine runs off WiFi–no internet at my desktop.  At least I can still scan and print!  I just can’t do things on my own time.

Maybe that is God’s way of making me slow down in this busy season.  Yes, that is how I am going to think of it.  This maybe one of those times that I am being a bit headstrong, and God knows I need something else.

Do you ever feel like He does that for you?  Stop right now, really consider, is God putting up some roadblocks?  Are you fulfilling what YOU want, or what HE wants?  What paths are free of detours?  Maybe we need to take a deep breath and head down those back roads for awhile.

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

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

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Life is to Live

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There you go.  Not going to say too much more. Only this:  I encourage you to go out and live it today.  Make some experiences rather than just think about them or worry about them or plan them.  Live it.

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

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I have done a HORRIBLE job lately of putting things on my calendar.  And saying yes and being over helpful, but then not helpful at all–because I have been not only double scheduling but triple scheduling.  We showed up late a lot last week.  I had to cancel plans because of previous things that I should have known about.  I needed a lot of grace last week.

This week, I am putting myself in God’s hands.  I need Him to take care of me.  I need Him to help me say no, to get organized, and to remember what is actually on that calendar.

How about you?  Do you struggle with margin and scheduling?  I am realizing I set this precedent for myself in junior high and I am only getting worse.  I don’t want my kids to be like this as adults.  I want to model something different.  How about you?

So let’s pray on it:

God we ask you to hold us right in the palm of your hands.  Hold us close and help us to see the big picture, lead us to a time of sabbath that will refresh us.  Show us the ways to leave margin in our schedules that we may have more time for you and our families.  Let us remember that we must set an example of margin for others, that by leaving space in our schedules we are encouraging others to do the same.  May this habit of allowing space in our schedules bless us and remind us that we are in your hands, that you care for us at all time.

Amen

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

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One of those things about not living in the now is getting caught up in our storms–worrying how big they are going to get, thinking about past destruction.

I hate the new radar weather things on phones.  I find them ridiculous.  “Well, it says there is a 20% chance that it might rain at 2:00 tomorrow, but tonight will be just fine.”  Hmmm, yeah.  Ask your phone why it rained an inch and blew down my garage sale in the middle of the night when there was no percent.

I think the wind may have blown if it off the course and the weatherman didn’t catch that.

Yeah.  I don’t trust that stuff.  (Now I will admit, I should check it a little more–being a little prepared isn’t all bad.)

And personally, I like storms.  I find them fascinating and beautiful.  If something is going to happen, it is going to happen.  I just accept it.

I think this quote (forget where I found this one) says it all.  Who cares how big the storm is?  Who cares what path it is going to take?  If I live in the assurance that God will provide, if not on earth at least in heaven, it doesn’t matter what the destruction of stuff the storm does.  I can overcome any of that with a God as big as mine!  He has made some seriously big crazy awesome promises.  And one of them was NOT that life would be easy as His follower.

In FACT, if anything, God says over and over in the Bible that it will be harder and we will face more trials.  Yep.  You know it’s true!  Ya’ll have read it in there before.  Why don’t we believe this?   Just because we are Christians does not make us impervious to the world and the sin that is in it or the natural disasters.  We just have a much better coping system–if we actually use it.

So let go today of your storm.  LET GO.  Right now.  Quit complaining to God about it –He knows about it anyway.  And just tell the problem, “I am NOT going to let this get the better of me!  I am handing you over to God and I trust He will take care of you, you big stupid storm problem.  Now, GIT!”

And see what happens.

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

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Let’s go out and affect this day!  We can make the quality of it high–we can make it better, make it glorious, make it filled with love.  This is what we are called to do.

We cannot change other people’s reactions, attitudes, and behaviors–but we can affect them.  By being positive role models, by being cheerful, by sharing unconditional love.

There is no reason to worry–what will be will be.  We are provided for in huge ways.  We are going to encounter struggles, but how we deal with them is what is really going to make the difference.  We can sit and stew on them and ruin the moment that is right now, we can miss the beauty of the moment of right now and the wondrous things God is currently doing.  Or we can rise to the moment and enjoy it in all of its splendor.

We have been given Today.  We must make it the best possible we can in gratitude to God for giving it to us.

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

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The moment we not only believe that He loves us but that God finds us beautiful is moment that His light starts shining through us.

For me–it is the moment that I accept He created me to be ME–not like anyone else.  And I can be comfortable and confident in that.

Confidence, comfort, joy –those are all desirable qualities–ones that draw others in.  There are so many “societal” and “cultural” ideas of beauty–but not everyone is drawn to the same things.  And often if the insides don’t match the outsides it doesn’t matter anyway.  God created different forms of beauty and different people to be drawn to those differences.  Just because a magazine shows one thing, doesn’t mean it is the rule!  I have struggled with having a body that would never show up in an ad, but my husband, kids and family seem to like looking at me just fine–short and curvy is okay in real life.  Short dark hair is beautiful.

So be concerned with your beauty, inner and outer–accept and embrace it and watch what happens.  The confidence that follows will draw more onlookers than you will ever imagine.  And God will be more proud of you than ever for giving credit to His design skills.

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