Tag Archives | stepping stones

Way Far Ahead

wise man who built his house on the rock

You know just how far ahead of us God is?  It is like this picture–we can stand at the top of a mountain and see for miles and miles.  It seems like a long way.  But God, can see much much further.  Farther than we can ever imagine.

Sometimes we need to climb high to get God’s perspective and trust that He will guide and protect us up and down that trail.  Trusting in God’s words and practicing the good things He teaches us brings wisdom–the kind that lasts and lasts–that cannot be weathered.  The kind that is not obsolete with trends or changes in technology.  The kind that we can actually pass on to another generation after we have seen and done and learned.

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What Has Happened

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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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Power in His Name

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Inspired by this song:  Break Every Chain sung by Jesus Culture

A little on this artwork:  I was listening to this song, thinking about rocks–I think I painted this about the time I wrote the stepping stones series.  This time I was thinking of the purity of Christ and the whiteness of marble.  I was thinking about broken chains and just how hard that is to do.  About all the things He does, that I want to do with Him.  And this came out.

Notice the word at the top of the pile is the word I have been focusing on:  obey.  And from there I wrote ways to obey.  These are all ways I can do what Jesus is calling me to do.  And when I call on His power to help me do these things He shares with me–strengthening me in ways I will never imagine.

There is power in the name of Jesus.  There is.  There is power.

He breaks every chain holding us to sin, to the Earth, and He makes us pure in heaven with Him.

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A HUGE House

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Exodus 14:14 Remain Standing by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

So this is the for REAL Friday before Labor Day post.  🙂  So this weekend I am going to try and disconnect or REAL.

I am going to have to fight hard!

Not a battle we would usually give to God, but hey, He says He can and will take anything.  And sometimes its the little everyday battles that can be the hardest!  And I love that this verse reminds me that God is fighting for me when I am STILL, disconnected, just being.  He helps us through a battle everyday and leaves us standing on this earth until our battles are complete.  I am thankful for all the battles.  I am even more thankful He is next to me!!!

So as we enjoy our earthly castles this weekend, don’t go to far from your heavenly King and He will bless you!

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Cornerstone

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Cornerstone Acts 4:11 by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Before I painted this one I googled images for cornerstones.  Most of the photos were of very old buildings, hundreds of years old.  Buildings of stability, tradition, strength, and even the courage to prevail.  Buildings that had made it through any number of natural and human disasters.

When we are in need it is so good to know that we can turn to the strongest one of all!  Jesus is our cornerstone.  He is stability, strength, courage.  God is a tradition of faith and love that has prevailed through thousands of years of natural and human disasters.  We can stand in His corner and know that we are protected and loved.

Remember I prayed for a bubble of protection this weekend around my daughter?  I liked that image, but now I think I like the visual of her standing by the cornerstone of Jesus-the walls flanking her on either side.  I like the visual of me standing in that corner with my hands pressed against the cool stones and bricks feeling the power of Jesus jolt my system as I feel that stability strengthen me.

We sang the song Cornerstone this weekend in church, and of course, I cried.  And my artwork came to my mind.  I closed my eyes and could picture this building.  And the cornerstones of countless churches.  And I was fortified.

Here is the song by Hillsong for you to listen to.  What images come to mind?  How does it make you feel?

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I thought I had a plan

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The Lord is near by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Ah, peoples, I am just going to be real tonight.  Completely honest and vulnerable and transparent.  Off the cuff, not using my scheduled art and notes, nothing.  Just gonna let you in.

Because today was HARD.  And I don’t have the energy to dig deep tonight.  As a lot of you know, I usually write most of my posts on Saturdays, schedule them for the week, and then can focus on other things.  But this weekend I didn’t have a chance to write.  The last couple weekends I haven’t had a chance to write.  I am in a polar vortex of sports. This time of year is hard for a non-sports fanatic:  between our own baseball games, hockey playoffs and basketball playoffs on tv, and regular season Twins games…I cannot escape it.  And I can’t get anyone else to turn it off.  So if I am not running to games, I am spending an hour every day looking for the stuff they have lost.  Because they can’t see the hat sitting on the table.  Or I am trying to catch up on everything around the house.

I am in technology meltdown. One computer is dying–hopefully we can keep it running until our IT guy comes back again.  Everything seems to be in slow motion.  I cannot seem to be happy with several marketing items I am trying to put together, I spent all morning rearranging pieces.  My phone keeps dying and getting stuck so I have to restart.  And then when I was supposed to work on-line with it and make some calls during dance, I forgot the stupid thing.

I got lost three times today.  Trying to find one store. Who does that?  With a GPS?  I wanted a store not a distribution center.  UGH.

We did homeschool, but the girls were pretty independent today.

Then I had someone email me tonight that a notebook I made, I used the wrong dictionary page, I am tearing up I am so mortified, it had several horrible words.  I really do try to be careful.  So please, if you have bought anything from me with dictionary pages, please check it and I will replace it for free.  My heart is heavy.

My current to-do list is filled with lots of fun things.  Lots of stuff I want.  But on a day like today, it is overwhelming.

Ever have those?  So I am having a little pity party right now.  And I am trying to remember that my Lord is near me.  My spirit is feeling heavy under the weight of all those little pebbles.   And I am trying to remember that Satan is trying to tempt me right now.  Anytime something really good faith wise happens Satan seems to be right there tempting me over the edge.  He loves to play with my perfectionism.  He loves to push my guilt buttons.

So I am going to stare at the breathe deeply artwork, drink some wine, and talk with God.  He is such a good listener, even for the little pebbles.  And I am going to push away my frustrations and Satan.  And I am going to look forward to a new day tomorrow full of grace.

Thanks for listening.  Love ya’ll.

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Stones Surrounded in Fruits of Sweetness

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Colossians 1:10 Fruit of Good Work

 

I have other new stone pieces I have been working on this week, because of course I was inspired.  But for today I want to share another piece I did way back last summer.  And it still has stones, they are just hidden–luckily this time they are surrounded in sweetness.

We do work hard and we do grow in knowledge in our God.  But sometimes the fruit can seem like they aren’t worth it.  Have you ever picked cherries?  It is a lot of work.  My parents had two sour cherry trees and I would go each summer and pick all of the cherries.  It would take all day, it would be sticky, it could be hot.  Some years the birds got all of the good fruit.  Some years I didn’t get there soon enough and they were overripe on the tree.  Some the cherries were gorgeous, only to discover they were mostly stone and little fruit.

And then there were some truly amazing years when they were huge, juicy, plump, bright red beauties.  The work would be quiet, peaceful, meditative almost.  The wind in the trees would be soft and cooling.  The birds would sing to me, I to them, and the bugs would stay away.  I would fill bucket after bucket on a beautiful sunny day dreaming of the pies, jams, and wine we would be able to make.  The colors were so vibrant one year I snapped these pictures.  The first one is the background on my phone.

 

Are you still following my symbolism and metaphors?  🙂

Sometimes we put in a lot of work and faith, and it feels like it is all for naught. I think of the Israelites roaming the desert for 40 years living on manna.  I think of the prophets and apostles who taught diligently to deaf ears.  I think of current day believers trying their best to spread the word, to be a light to others, to bear beautiful fruit that others will want to keep.  And all they find is stones.  All they encounter is people with stones for hearts, who are all to willing to throw that first pebble or boulder at whoever is first in sight.  All they see ahead are rocky paths that don’t seem to have an end.

But we are always rewarded at some point with a bounty.  When we lead lives that are worthy, our God will come through, at some point.  He will.  He always does.  He will give us our bright red cherry on top.  Wait for it to be ripe.  Wait for that bright, gorgeous day.  Wait, and the birds will sing, and you to them, of the awesomeness of our God.

Of the fruits of your labor, faith, and love.

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John 8:7 Cast the First Stone

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John 8:7 Cast the First Stone by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

These stones are like another inukshuk–more of a stack, than a path.  I like the way the dictionary page added the texture and some of the shading.  I like the way the stones are stacked, how the white holds them together and keeps them from falling–an invisible glue of faith.

And yet it could be easy to separate them.  It could be so easy to grab one off the stack and chuck it as hard as possible at the first available target.  Because, you know–you just get so upset you want to throw something.

Sometimes that target is other people.  They can make us so mad!  Can’t they?  Well, at least me. I hate being judgemental, and yet, my brain instantly comes to conclusions about people and situations.

Sometimes the target is even worse:  myself.  I throw way too many stones at that target.  Guilt, shame, perfectionism–oooo,weee, it’s like setting up a catapult or baseball pitching machine in my brain.  All day, every day.  And really, that is no less of a sin.

Jesus taught that we cannot cast the first stone.  That we have just as much sin as the next person.  That we must look at our self and our own faults first.  Jesus is willing to accept us and our sins, and we should be willing to give that same grace.  To others.  And to ourselves.

He wants us to keep our stack of stones in our own hands, keep it glued together with faith–the faith that He will get rid of the stack of stones when the time is right.  He will take them all, and save us from our own faults, and from the sin of judging.  That our God, our Christ, will be the target.  He will not let the catapult of stones hit us, wear us down, or destroy us.

 

 

 

 

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His Love stands Like an Inukshuk

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His Love Never Fails

I am enamored with Inuit inukshuks (click the word to see more images of some).  It is on my bucket list to go see one someday. My simple stack above reminds me of them:

If you are not familiar, the following is from inukshuk.com….

 Inukshuk, the singular of inuksuit, means “in the likeness of a human” in the Inuit language. They are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival. The traditional meaning of the inukshuk is “Someone was here” or “You are on the right path.”

The Inuit make inuksuit in different forms for a variety of purposes: as navigation or directional aids, to mark a place of respect or memorial for a beloved person, or to indicate migration routes or places where fish can be found. Other similar stone structures were objects of veneration, signifying places of power or the abode of spirits. Although most inuksuit appear singly, sometimes they are arranged in sequences spanning great distances or are grouped to mark a specific place.

I have been realizing with these posts just how much I like stones.  How much I seek them out.  But I have also been realizing why I am drawn to them.

I love that inukshuks basically mean “someone is here and guiding you, even if you don’t see them here now.”  That is exactly what our faith in Jesus is all about.  Even though we were not there for His resurrection, or when He visited the disciples, or any of the other times–faith says we believe in His power.  Faith in Jesus says that we believe He is guiding us down the path He has set.  Faith says that Jesus is with us.

I saw this cartoon the other day:

Joyful and healing: how doing the right thing changed everything

Isn’t that the truth?  Even though I know I have Jesus;  Even though I have inukshuks as signs all around me; even though I have a stone in my pocket/on my desk reminding me–Jesus still has to drag me along sometimes. Unfortunately, that is part of being human.  Fortunately, that is also part of being saved.  His love will never fail me.  His love will last and stand forever, and guide us always.

So for now, I am stacking my stones.  I am looking for stacks and paths.  I am watching and waiting.  Tanner’s first two full days of school went fairly well.  I did a lot of research today for summer tutors for reading.  We are going to take this one day at a time, one stepping stone at a time, watching carefully for the slippery ones.  And when I finally get that figured out, then I will figure out what to do with my days now that he isn’t homeschooling and how that affects the girls and the other crazy snowball thoughts in my head…and I will try not to make Jesus drag me along the path.  🙂

Yes, one stone at a time.

Sidenote:  I was listening to this song for the words:  Your Love Never Fails from Jesus Culture

 

 

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Isaiah 41:10 Fear Not –We are a Part of God’s Stone Path

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Isaiah 41:10 Fear Not by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

When I realized I had never featured this artwork on the blog, I was flabbergasted.  It is one of my favorites from last summer and a bestseller on Etsy.  I was very pleased with the colors in the stone path on this piece and the texture of the sand.  While painting among the fields of Iowa, I was thinking of following the beaches of Lake Superior in Michigan specifically.  We visited there a couple summers ago with dear friends.  Let me tell you–it is gorgeous.  Peaceful.  Wide open in some areas, and sheltered with trees in others.  A place where the power of God is incredibly evident.  A place where it is hard to feel dismayed or alone.  A place where you see God’s victorious hand holding us all aloft.

The kids and I collected many stones that trip.  During the summer I put them out on our coffee table in a big pottery bowl.  Every time I see them, it reminds me of that place, of God, of the friends and family He has gifted us.  It reminds me of all the stepping stone paths in my life that have brought me to this place.  It feels solid, secure, lasting.

We need those reminders, don’t we?  Or at least I do.  In times when we aren’t sure of the next step, it helps to know there have been stones behind us, and ones ahead.  Sometimes, it is nice to know we are part of a beach, a long path of stones that stretches for miles.

 

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