Tag Archives | parenting

Little or Big Things

enjoy the little things

This quote by Robert Brault is so true.

More tall houses,  more shutters, more hearts.  Hmmm, either this is what I want or I just like to draw them this way!  I originally did this on a huge canvas for a client, and it was a little different.  Then another client saw it and asked for it, so now I have a version for prints.

I am trying to focus a little more on my family–I am learning how to balance my art/work/teaching with my peeps.  It can be hard when my studio is right here in the house to delineate work time and home time–especially when they can’t tell if I am playing and relaxing or working.

So this weekend, I did skipped my work.  I fell behind on some projects.  Because I spent time with my kids and husband and a dear friend.  But THEY are the BIG things–taking Tanner sledding this week, taking Annika to the movies and going to her games, doing a craft project and going shopping for new “mature tween” clothes with Phoebe.  Baking with them, playing Clue, helping Tanner find the floor in his bedroom, hanging out with Jeff, wine and dinner with a friend with lots of catching up.  All of those seem like little things.  But the kids, especially, will remember them.  And more importantly these things build the relationships that are the biggest  and most important treasure of all.

All part of the knowledge and trust right?  I want my loved ones to trust me the way I know I can trust in God. I want them to know I will be there for them when they need me in good and bad.  That I will love them unfailingly.  That I want to be near them.  That I know them, and love them for who they are.  That I consider them the treasure in my life.

How about you?  Which big and little things are you focusing on?

 

 

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When I am with YOU

big heart little minds

Had to share this lullaby with you by JJ Heller:  When I’m With You

I included a piece of the lyrics below.  It is such a celebration of loving little ones.  I painted this piece for teachers this fall, but really it is for anyone who shapes a child–whether it be on a daily basis, on weekends, on rare visits, or merely for a season.  We have to be open to letting our hearts swell for these babies (and I mean all ages).  I still call on my mommy and daddy for help and love when my mind feels little and I need their big love.  So sit back, take a listen, and think about the littles you are shaping, and all those who shaped you.

When I hold you in my arms, Love
Something changes
It’s the strangest feeling
The things that used to matter
They don’t matter to me
When I see you
And you’re smiling
How my heart aches
So full it is about to break
You make me believe in love

I could never count all the ways
That you change me, Baby
Every day the sky is a deeper shade of blue
When I’m with you
When I hear you, and you’re crying
It resonates, Dear
In a place I didn’t know was there
You make me believe in love

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When Doubts Filled My Mind

 

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Psalm 94:19 Doubts by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I am overwhelmed by the blessings God is pouring on me lately.  You know why?  Because I never truly expected them.  I am constantly filled with self doubt–perfectionism leads me to believe that I am never quite good enough.  Someone’s art is always more detailed, bigger, more technical.  My writing is just the same as anyone else out there in the blogosphere.  And this isn’t new.  I have always struggled with this form of low self-confidence.

Several random thoughts converged into this topic in the last few weeks.  It started when I noticed various child behaviors at the ball fields the last month.  And, as you will see, it started on thoughts about parenting, and it morphed into lessons of how God parents me all the time.

When the kids were really little we started a signal when they needed my attention–especially when I was on the phone or speaking with someone else.  Because, even though they didn’t need me thirty seconds before the phone rang, it is a dire emergency to tell me there is lint on the couch as soon as I say hello to anyone.  Suddenly they are yelling, “Mom!MOm!MmmOMMMM!MomMYMOmmYYY!” and tugging on any clothing or skin they can find.

So we decided they would wrap their little hands around my wrist and hold on (which of course did become a death grip with a small dance depending on the urgency).  I could either look down at them, touch them, or just wink to acknowledge their need, and could answer as soon as possible.  They liked that they at least had some control, I liked that they quit yelling.

Wouldn’t it be nice to do that with God, have that direct contact signal?  Just hold His wrist and just wait until He answered?  Sometimes He seems to take forever! But at least I would know for sure I was in His presence, I would be sure He was aware of my need.  When my head is filled with doubts–about my choices, about the nature of the world, about things beyond my control–it would be very comforting to have that signal.

And then I realized.  I do have that.  I have a link to His comfort, peace, unconditional love, and a gift that He knows I am here and need Him.  It is always at my disposal.  He created it for me, for each of His babies.

The Bible.

God spent thousands of years writing it.  Talking to people.  Doing miracles.  Recording them, so that we would have that direct link to Him all the time.

Prayer.

He hears us.  It says right there in the Bible.  He knows.  We just have to wait for the wink, the look, the touch, a word.  We have to be watching and listening for it.  Not listening to our own cries.  Not caught up in our own emergency temper tantrum dance.  But patiently waiting.  Holding on to His comfort.  Letting our doubts be renewed in His hope and cheer.

I know I have been waiting for this particual wink for over 15 years.  I let go of His wrist a few times.  I listened to my screaming  a few times.  But when I have waited patiently, I have been rewarded.

Calm your doubts today.  Hold on to your Savior.  He WILL calm your doubts.  He WILL bring you hope and cheer.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Shift into Being a Mama

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A Mama is Born by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

We are really, really good as a society/culture/humankind at celebrating the baby.  But what about the mama?  I remember that first baby.  All the parties and presents, calls, food, etc.  And I remember the third baby.  It was a little different.  But more so, I remember the changes for ME.  Yeah, that kid is cute, and yeah she is doing some fun things.  But I was doing some pretty crazy changing.  Most mamas do.

We weren’t mamas before.  Just like graduating from high school, or getting married, this is a huge life conversion!  Our sense of independence shifts.  Our sense of self shifts.  Our sense of purpose and hierarchy shifts.  Until you have a child, whether birthed or adopted or just chosen, you don’t get it.  And with every subsequent child it shifts again.  Our mind and our hearts, our capacity to give and love, and sacrifice, oh my, reaches a whole new level we never thought capable.

We need to celebrate that in women!  That amazing capacity to do what we need to do, that ability to shift with the seasons of life, that proficiency for loving to the utmost magnitude.  Not just one day a year, but all the time.

Today, find a mama.  Congratulate her on being new.  On being herself as a mama.  For making the conversion, the shift.  For being brave enough to let the shift happen.  For embracing it.  For growing with it.  For doing it well.  Find her in a store, in church, on the sidewalk, at work, wherever.  Find her.

Congrats on being a mama to all my ladies here!

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Keeping it in Perspective

I made this one for mamas in that last trimester of pregnancy.  But really, it is extremely relevant to motherhood in general–even if you aren’t anywhere near pregnant read to the end of the post!

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Keep in in Perspective by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I saw a photo reference for this piece and it brought back memories and I knew I had to paint it.  I was a humongous prego lady…I carried my babies out front.  And I ate like crazy, so I got big, the baby got big. It was all I could do to see my toes by the end, but they were painted delicious bright colors.  And I would ask, “Do I have on matching shoes? ”

Then, they turned three.  And I remember looking down at the floor at the mess at my feet.  And reminding myself, “This too shall pass.  They will only be this little for awhile.”

Then they turned ten. And I looked at the floor, still saw a mess, then looked up to God and asked, “When, when God?  When will this get easier?  How do I train these little monsters?”

And each time, I would call my mom.  Get her advice (she is awesome).  And always she would help me put it all in perspective.  She would remind me of my own capabilities.  That I could do this.  She would remind of the ultimate goal:  raising kids to be loving and independent.  Raising them to know God.  THOSE ARE THE GOALS.  Not a clean house, not perfect meals, not wonderful vacations, not exceptional students, blah, blah, blah.

FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE.

And Jesus teaches us, the greatest of these is LOVE.  That is our goal.  From the very begininng, from the moment we accept being mamas, no matter who we mother, no matter the season, our goal is to love.

Keep it in perspective.

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

What better time than the week before Mother’s day to celebrate bringing babies into the world?  I have been working on several pieces over the past year for my friend Kerri.  She is an amazing birth instructor (shameless plug…hit her website and see all she has to offer at www.thismommaknows.com) and she also works with mamas through Will County Pregnancy Resource Center (shout out to my folks there!).  And there is the Journey Hub in Frankfort (shout out to those girls!).   This week is dedicated to them, and the amazing work they all do.

But it is also for any and all mamas.  Those of us deep in the potty training trenches, those of us driving our buses–cars I mean, those with empty nests, those lovin’ on grandbabies.  Those who adopt kiddos into their homes here, those who adopt kids through charities that they will never meet.  Those waiting to be mamas.  Those mamas to new Christians.  Yep, they are important, too.

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New life!  Isn’t it the most amazing thing!?  Babies are just crazy!  I love ’em.  Can’t get enough of ’em.  I love me some prego bellies.  (Never want to do it again myself, thank you.)  I love all kinds of babies–even of the animal sort.  On our spring walk today we saw a retention pond with HUNDREDS of tadpoles.  They were so cool!  The way God designed babies and how we all develop is just amazing to me.  So incredibly powerful.  And the ways mamas do it.  Wow, the instincts for it are unbelievable.  It is not easy.  It is not easy to make new life, to bring it into the world, to trust our instincts, to see it through.  But man is it beautiful and worth it!

God created females to do this special thing–to mother.  He trusted US.  He uses us to bring new life–whether it is brand new  mini people, or ushering a person of any age and size into new life with Christ.  He gave us this special job.

You know what is beautiful?  Mamas.  Not just the job of getting them here, not just the job of moving them along.  But the women.  YOU ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL.  I have never seen a mama look at her baby, no matter how old, and not thought to myself, that, that right there is gorgeous.  Even when the mama is crazy mad–it is still a special look only for that child that is perfect.

So yes, this week, we shall celebrate.

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

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follow the stepping stones by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I love stones.  I have been a rock collector my whole life.  My poor mother watched me box up and move the same rocks, move after move.  I still have many of them.  So many characteristics call to me in them:  the solidity, the age, colors, textures (especially smooth ones), the weight.  Several sit on my desk, and every once in awhile I will pick one up, hold it, and just think for a bit.

Unsurprisingly, stones pop up often in my artwork.  This week I will share several of those pieces with you.  The first is these stepping stones, covered in moss, peeping out of water.  I thought of the large stones that you hop one to another across a creek as I painted.  Some are dry and easy to stand on, some are covered in moss, wet and slippery–stones you can’t quite be sure of your balance upon.  You could make it to the other side, you could slip and fall into the water.  But either way, whether dry or wet, we will make it to the other side.  No matter what.

Tanner starts full day school today.  Public school.  I am standing on a mossy, wet stone right now.  I had to hop from stone to stone in the first place to start homeschooling, and fell in a few times.  Now to backtrack, I am not leery or worried,  not necessarily nervous,  but I am sensitive, uncomfortable,  a bit tense.  I don’t know which stone we are going to jump to next.  But I have realized and remembered that I just need to take it one stone at a time.  My inner critic keeps wanting to look back, and the planner wants to look way down the creek.  But I really do just need to wait, watch the current, and then follow the stone that God will point out.  Have faith.  Know that God is planning.  Know that this stepping stone and any others that follow will be okay.

So today, I am going to carry a stone around with me.  To remind me that God planned these stepping stones eons ago.  They have been carried by the waters, smoothed and honed, and lasted.  And God will do the same with me.

Do you have a special stone?  Are you hopping from stone to stone now?

 

 

 

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Weird behavior is Natural in Smart Children

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Weird Behavior is natural in smart children Hunter Thompson

If this is true, my kids are the poster children, hence why I was drawn to this quote.  They do some crazy stuff.  They say some very funny things.  They do some very weird things.  I like to blame it on their smartness, creativity and imagination.  I love taking credit for it–because I am super good at letting them do/try just about anything.   (Lots of humility there, right?  HA!) I guess that makes me the poster child of the lenient moms.  I don’t mind dirt, weird contraptions, cooking concoctions, coloring on their bodies, bizarre outfit choices, etc.  I chalk it all up to learning.  Hence why I love homeschooling.  I figure the more experiences you have the more you learn and remember.  And aren’t connections and recall half the battle with smartness? (Hmm, bad sign, it took me three or four minutes to think of those words.)

I ran across this quote on Pinterest.  But tonight, I looked up Hunter S. Thompson, apparently the father of gonzo journalism.  I went down his rabbit hole on the internet for awhile.  I read a bit of his memoir that this quote came from, which actually is,  “Weird behavior is natural in smart children, as curiosity is in a kitten.”  He seems to have embodied this quote as a child, and as an adult, and became a fascinating person.

I want my kids to be fascinating.  I want their talents unwrapped in a glorious profusion of  celebration.  I want them to live up to the hype God promised when He designed them.  And if that means we must be weird, weird we will be!

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Every child has a Talent

Sometimes, it turns out, I am not very creative.  I like to reuse my favorite symbols and images (lots of flowers, birds, suns).  But what I find really interesting is when I even use similar colors and words on the pages.  For example these two, one done in the fall, one just recently.

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Every child is gifted with talents, unwrap them at different times

Interestingly enough, both times I was thinking about my Tanner.  He is seven, and reading has not come easily for him.  I have struggled as a mama and a homeschooler with a lot of guilt.  I have wondered if I just didn’t teach him well enough, put in enough time.  You know, all the usual guilt stuff.  But I have to keep reminding myself of these two: The girls were readers early.  Phoebe still curls up with a book on her own, Annika takes a bit of prodding.  But Phoebe also loves words.  Annika would rather have a ball and glove in her hand.  Tanner just hasn’t unwrapped his gift for reading yet.  And he has other talents–he is hilarious and one of the most loving. generous kids you will ever meet.  Those qualities might make his life easier in many ways.

I also have to remember this:

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Have faith in your child

(Funny how the same red flower is shaped, the words are similar.)

This is the important part.  I have to have FAITH in him.  He knows when I am frustrated and he shuts down.  All kids will react, and live up to, our expectations of them.  If they are told, “YOU are stupid and rotten.”  They believe it.  How many adults have stories they remember about a certain teacher or adult who had no faith in their abilities and were vocal about it?  The more I encourage him, the better he does.  I go for a conference at the school tomorrow so they can update me on his progress.  I know I am already seeing a difference.  It has been hard to give up homeschooling him, even part of the day, but I see that this is best for him.

So as a mama and teacher I have to remind myself to ask this question:  How can we expect to know all the gifts of our children at an early age? I know adults who did not unwrap their talent completely until they were over forty, or more.  I know adults that changed their path with the use of their gift completely.   We lose faith in ourselves, those around us question our choices.  But do you know who has eternal faith in you?  Do you know who is infinitely patient as you unwrap your talents?

God.  Jesus.  God created us knowing that we have talents.  He KNOWS because He DESIGNED us.  He doesn’t mess up.  He creates wonderful, glorious things.  Sometimes our talents may not be in line with what current culture thinks is right.  Sometimes our talents lay latent all too long.  But He has faith we will find them.  He is always waiting, watching, cheering us on, loving us no matter what.  He KNOWS we will find that gift and when we do, that it will glorify Him in such an amazing way…but He won’t really be surprised.  God expected it all along.

I will try to follow his example.  I will obey.  I will have faith in my children, and in myself, that our gifts are unique, special, desirable, and just waiting to be unwrapped.

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Humble My Heart Jesus

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Please Humble My Heart Jesus

 

This is a tough subject.  We all struggle with being prideful I think, to some degree.  It is a quality that I have tried to teach to my children and emulate.  But it can be really hard.  Humility is on God’s list of obedience.  He requires it of us.  Jesus was an excellent role model for this quality.  And it should be a part of every Christian’s learning and roots.

So…I did some research.  I found this website and post that really spoke to me: (link to the site in purple, Britton’s words in blue)

“The Bible Shows the Power in Humility” by Doug Britton

God says when you are humble, you are free from pride and arrogance. You know that in your flesh you are inadequate, yet you also know who you are in Christ.

Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5)

Godly humility is being comfortable with who you are in the Lord and therefore putting others first. The picture of humility in the Bible is one of a strong person who loves others, not someone who is a wimp.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

Although we should avoid self-pride, godly humility does not mean we should pretend we are unaware of the gifts God has given us. The key is to remember that they are from God.

Although I am less than the least of all of God’’s people, this grace was given to me: to preach to the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)

These explanations helped me.  My artwork is a place where I have pride. My children are another.  I have wondered if I was too pride-full.  But these verses are helping point me in the right direction.  It is okay that I am excited about the talent  and ideas God gives me. (And truly, I often am not in control and He is working the brush!) It is okay that I am satisfied with my children and their accomplishments, because I know that it is God who leads my parenting, who gave them to me, and who gave them their talents.  But I also realize that none of my artwork or my children are perfect, I realize they could be better, I realize that we cannot attain perfection, it is impossible.  I realize that we cannot control every thing and every outcome.

When we get in trouble is when pride is synonymous with these words:  vanity, condescension, disdain, pompous, patronizing, superiority,  pretension, egotistical, haughty, conceited.  Yuck.  Those words all put a bad taste in my mouth and creepy crawlies on my neck.  Each brought up a memory of a person or situation that could be described perfectly by those words, and I could remember how I felt instantly.  I don’t want to be associated with those words.

So I will continue to pray for humility in all things.

Side note:  I made the art with stamps I carved from erasers and acrylics.  I was playing and getting ready for an art class lesson and several artworks came out that I will share more this week.

 

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Jesus called

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See???  I am telling you, Jesus called me this week.  He plans this blog people, not me.

He knew He needed to remind me that the important work was at home.

He knew He needed to remind me that teaching and being there for my kids is not a distraction, it is the most important job I have.

He knew that I needed to be reminded that Jesus is not looking for perfection.  We are going to need a panic bag.  We are going to stumble.  We are going to need to get our perspective put right.

Jesus needed to remind me that with every breath He is there with me teaching them.  That it is my job to let my children in on on that super powerful learning and important life skill–turning to Jesus.  Giving it to HIM.  Letting HIM lead.  That they are looking to me to be an example of a Christ follower.

They see me reading my Bible, creating these artworks, going to church, serving others, praying, singing his songs of praise.  Talk about important home schooling.  Not indoctrinating, but modeling.  MODELING.  How crazy important.

I hope that these last blog posts have been good for you as well.  You got a glimpse into my days that is for sure.  Some of you have kids, some of you are teachers, some of you homeschool.  A lot of you don’t.  So I hope that you were able to find something in the artworks and even in my posts that encouraged you to do great work at home.  With those close to you who are not a distraction, but important pieces of your day.  I hope that you will remember Christ does not call us to perfection, but to just follow and do what we can in every step and moment.

 

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