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A little more info about our next adventure:

  1. Jeff is going to keep his business in Chicago-land going and will commute (6 hour drive–already planning to stay with a friend) as needed.  We have lived separately many times before (college and all 5 state moves involved at least a month apart–so nothing new here).  He will be the one gone for the summer instead of the kids and I–although I still wan to travel to visit everyone.   And winters when he is slow  in Chicago he will be in Iowa–he is already scheming a variety of ideas to keep him busy.  The man never fails to have more business ideas!
  2. Jeff’s business is doing well, but the moving industry has its fluctuations.  And having someone with a stable income (selling art–not so stable LOL) with health insurance and retirement prompted this whole thing.  Owning your own business makes those last two things expensive, and they are good through teaching.  Plus,  a second income will help with just the cost of kids becoming teens– and college is looming in our very near future.  In state tuition is a lot less in Iowa than Illinois–hopefully all three choose something in Iowa! (Yes, of course, we are encouraging Luther and U of I Hawkeyes.)
  3. Move will happen for us early August so we can get settled before my meetings, getting my classroom moved in, and curriculum ready– the kids and I will start school August 25 (super excited I get to teach Annika and Tanner). Being in the same district with the same calendar was one of the big reasons to teach in Iowa.
  4. I am hoping to house hunt in late June.  I am going to have to spring something on the family.  But again, not really anything new for us.  Pray for us we will find something!  Our house will go on the market in Lockport about the same time.  Know anyone who wants it???
  5. Besides the pull of being near family and small town Iowa life–getting re-certified to teach in Iowa  vs. getting  a new certificate in Illinois was WAY easier and cheaper, plus took far less time.  And we had to think about this:  if we wanted to move back to Iowa–now is the time—not when I am 50 with more education.  And we trust the Iowa retirement system and the likelihood that art will not get cut.  Just saying.
  6. Not only was re-certification cheaper, the whole life style will be cheaper– by almost half.  It is crazy.  Can’t wait.  And no sirens, airplanes, traffic, lines, crowds.  Less crime and Illinois government corruption.  Slower and simpler altogether.  My heart feels peaceful thinking about it.
  7. Kids are taking it hard, they don’t remember all of the other moves, but it is getting easier.  We have also been conditioning them that they are “from” Iowa since they were born, which helps.  They want to have a little land so they can have chickens and fainting goats.  LOL  Sports will make it easy for Annika and Tanner to assimilate, we hope.  Pray we find the right dance studio for Phoebe and that her transition back into school will go well.
  8.  The blog and Etsy store will keep going–but possibly scaled back a bit at first.  As well as some of my other projects.  And others–well, I learned a lot this past year about what I am good at, what I enjoy and get energized doing, and what did not work.  Making art with little kids is truly my calling–more than speaking, publishing, or business by far!  I  really struggled balancing lots of irons in the fire.  So glad I tried so many things this year, but ready to focus on just a couple instead of 10.

I promise to keep you posted as things develop.  We are looking to God to lead us in this transition and trust He will keep showing us the paths.  He will help us!  I know just documenting all of this helped.  God is good. This is His plan, so it will be good.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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I am a teacher…

good teacher candleI remember some of my favorite teachers, they were the kind who gave themselves to teaching.  They didn’t hold back.  They were real.  They were approachable.  They were caring. They truly lit up the room for the learners so that we had no choice but to be engaged.

I started in public schools, but teaching happens anywhere and everywhere.  There are always opportunities to teach and light the ways for others.  I love sharing knowledge with others.  Whether it be art, or homeschooling, or sharing a book with a friend, or teaching the kids how to clean the bathroom.  It feels good to share.  Teaching gives me satisfaction.

 

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

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Hope Whispers by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I mentioned last week that I had series set up for each week in September, this week is all butterflies.  I love these little insects, and their moth counterparts.  I find them so full of contrasts: delicate, yet strong.  Tiny but mighty.  Slow legged caterpillar  vs winged and flight filled adult.

They embody hope to me.  Anything can metamorphise into something better.  Not necessarily bigger, but definitely better.  The soft whispering of their tiny wings carries them to amazing heights and across miles.  Their delicate beauty can transfix the toughest person.  I truly believe God gave them to us as a reminder of hope.

Today, listen for hope, watch for it.  Let it encourage you to try just one more time.  We never know what will result.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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I am not Alone

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Another way He blessed me and led me last week:  I met with Camille and her peers at Reformation Productions in Buford, GA.  Camille is writing a book with a really fun story and great way to praise God.  She chose me to design her logos and book cover. During the meeting we brainstormed what the feel for the book and designs really should be.  I learned so much!  About the decision making process, about her book, about designing.  It was really great.  We didn’t make any hard decisions, and that was okay.  I got so much out of the process.

I truly felt His presence through the entire process of last week.  There were so many moments when I started to feel sick to my stomach with nerves and worry.  Sometimes it was feelings of excitement and giddiness and little goosebumps would pop out on my arms.  There were moments when I was so worn out I just wanted to lay down and fall asleep.  But each time, I would close my eyes, wait a moment, take a deep breath, and it was like I could feel Jesus standing beside me, holding my hand, guiding me to the next step.

He walked straight in front of me guiding me through the process.  He knew I would be fine.  He knew He would fill me with the words and whatever else.  And I knew, I could let Him.

That feels amazing to me; to be able to trust so fully in something beyond me.  To be able to know that He is planning, and looking ahead to make sure that I draw closer to Him, if only I will follow.  For there is the kicker:  He has plans that are to bless us with His love, not necessarily to give us earthly things or what we think we need.  If I choose to follow my own path, make my own decisions and go places without God, I am negating and working against what He wants for me.  I am taking the process of growing closer to Him away.

Sometimes it is not about the big decisions, or outcomes.  Sometimes it is just about the walk with Jesus and knowing He is right there.

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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The Tongue of a Teacher

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Isaiah 50:4 Tongue of a Teacher by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Last Saturday morning I taught a class at the cutest little place, The Rustic Couch, in Duluth, GA.  Ann, the owner is the best and I absolutely love her style!  The whole place is full of color and textures and great flea market finds.  We sat outside on the fun patio with 13 women and got deep into our souls to praise Jesus on paper.  God blessed us with gorgeous weather, gorgeous women, and the wonderful Maurice Hicks ( I will share his new movie/documentary trailer later this week) captured the whole thing on film for us.

There were several great moments:  at one point I was teaching how important it is to let your authentic self shine through on the paper and a balloon popped!  It was like Jesus was clapping His hands Amen!  I got goose bumps all over.  Because that is one of my favorite points when teaching:  it is not about copying my style, but learning from my techniques and using them to put what we each uniquely see into the art.  I don’t like to have them copy my art for the class, I encourage them to paint their own colors, add, and subtract as they need to.  It works:  the funny part is that most of the time, the finished product will match what they wore to the class that day!

I am so thankful that God has given me the tongue of a teacher.  Now, my kids, I am not so sure.  Especially when I reprimand other kids out in public when the teacher can’t hack it anymore.

But seriously, I LOVE teaching and bringing God’s creativity to people.  When I can help them notice the beauty of His world, the power of His words, and then see them put them together–writing it all on their own hearts and spilling it out in praise to Him, my heart overflows.  Literally.  I often leave classes singing and praying to God for those blessings.

I am blessed that God made my spiritual gifts pretty obvious and that He is giving me a huge avenue to share them right now.  I pray that it continues, that He blesses me, and that I am able to share those blessings with others.  That I am able to encourage another round of people to use their gifts of teaching and art to praise Jesus.

 

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

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Psalm 145:21 My Mouth will Praise by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I have so very much to praise God for these days!  Last week was an absolute whirlwind of art activity, speaking, praising, teaching, selling, God promoting craziness I tell you!  Each day this week I am going to share a piece of what happened.

I traveled to Atlanta.  Leslie Eaton and I promoted Bible Stories from the Heart all weekend and were on a wonderful Christian show.  Yves McKenzie was the best host!  He made it so easy and comfortable.  We talked about our interactive study, how it came about, how it is growing, and how it can bless people with a different approach of studying the Bible with art.

We had the best time…and the producer must have thought so too…because she is connecting us with the president of their station and thinks we should be on a show they produce that is syndicated around the nation.  MMMHHmmm!  Or as Yves would say, Amen!!!  I looked like a bobblehead nodding every time he said amen because I wasn’t used to all the amens.   My white girl, Lutheran, Midwest -ness came out!  I will do better next time though–holding my head still and at saying amen.  🙂

Leslie and I were both so excited that the Spirit filled our words with what we really needed to say.  We prayed that it would bless someone–even if just one.  We made some wonderful connections with other guests, the host, it was just a great experience.  I think we blessed a few people if I do say so myself.

The feelings were overwhelming this weekend; we were both on such a high of praise and energy.  It was exhausting!  But at the same time, I want to keep that feeling flowing.  So I will continue to praise God as much as I can, from the depths of my heart.

 

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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God is SOOOOOOOOOO Good

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I am rejoicing in my God, my Savior.  He has blessed me so deeply.  I am almost speechless.  Almost.  🙂

Life is not an easy road.  There are a lot of twists and bends.  A lot of valleys.  And then…you find the peak.  You see the sun shining brightly through the clouds–and you know, you just KNOW, it is Jesus.

Jesus has blessed me through art this week in ways I didn’t know possible.  I did an art fair on Sunday that was a surprise success–especially since He gave me a chance to spread His word outside of a church.  I taught my first faith journaling class today.  Those eleven ladies blessed me so greatly with their joy in journaling their faith alongside me.  It was a sacred time, Jesus was there with us.  Then, He made an opportunity to visit Atlanta and finally meet Leslie Eaton face to face.  And the opportunity to spread the word and our Bible study online on tv with even more people!   He was preparing me this weekend for the ability to say yes to this new chance to be His servant.

I magnify His name!

That He gave me this talent, that He surrounded me with encouragers, that He strengthened me and my faith to make me ready for this ministry.

My soul rejoices!

THANK YOU for being on this journey with me!!!

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

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is hard to quiet–my thoughts, the world, everything.  Especially on vacation.  I have thought before how I needed a vacation time to recoup from my vacation!  If only I would take time for quiet, time to sit and listen for God, for stories of his children, for the beauty of creation–I wouldn’t feel the rush and the push and the vacation would be more rejuvenating.

So as you move into the weekend, take time to be quiet–to quiet the yelling, the traffic, the roaring of whatever.  Sit and listen to what is pulsing underneath and hear God’s voice in that.  And may it bless you in ways you never imagined.

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

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Wherever You Go by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

One of the things I love about being a Christian is that we believe that God is in us–that the Holy Spirit is in our hearts and souls all the time.  Constantly with us.  Loved, protected, led.  All we must do, is acknowledge that, accept it, and allow the Spirit to work in us.

This made me think about gas–what kinds we put in our cars–ethanol, basic, premium.  Or what can happen when junk contaminates the fuel and the subsequent damage that can happen.  When we are traveling we are that much more conscious of caring for our vehicles.  We maybe even get extra maintenance done before we leave.  Do we do that for ourselves?  Do we prime our souls for vacation?  Our minds and hearts?  What about while we are gone–are we filling ourselves with the best possible fuel?

Just something to think about…especially if you have long car ride ahead.  🙂

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

 

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John 5:8 Walk by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

So many of us are leaving on vacations this time of year.  Or have already been on one.  Or maybe you are contemplating one.  Maybe you are there already.  It is so easy when we are away from home to neglect our faith.  We are out of our regular routines, away from our churches and the communities that support our Christianity.  Jesus calls us to get up and walk, to take His gospel everywhere we can, at all times.

In this passage He is talking to a lame man who is ill.  Jesus heals him and sends him on his way.   Jesus heals him on a Sabbath and the Pharisees are outraged that he would break the law.  But Jesus proclaims that, “My father is still working, and I also am working.”

Jesus never stopped because it was going to be hard, going to be a nuisance, going to make him stand out, or make other people uncomfortable.  Why should we?  Our nation is supposed to be a place where we are FREE to openly practice our faith.  Openly free to worship and spread LOVE–not judgement–but PEACE.

So…do you take advantage of that ALL the time, in ALL places?  For example, do you visit other churches while traveling?  Do you take time to read the Bible or a devotion (maybe this blog on your mobile device hint hint)?  Do you pray before meals in restaurants?  Do you spread love and peace to the tourism workers (who deal with some pretty cranky people)?  Are you standing up, walking, and being a light?

I am going to try harder.  Some of those I do, some I don’t.  Let’s make a pact to do better at spreading Christianity is positive way no matter where we go.

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

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Isaiah 43:18 Move Forward by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Forward,  we are called to move forward.  Not backward.  Not stay stationary.

God is calling us to move forward, one foot at a time, in His love and peace.

Renewal people.  I am telling you!  ‘Tis the season me thinks to look at the resolutions we made back in January and see if we have moved forward with those.

Time to move forward with cleaning the chaff out of our lives.  Clear the weeds from the garden.  Plant new seeds.  Nurture the good ones.

Time to move around with vacations, retreats, renewal of relationships.  Moving toward better times, places, people.

We are called.  Not to keep things the same.  But to move.  Forward.

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

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Retreat of Renewal by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I love it when a plan comes together.  I knew I was saving all of these artworks until now for a reason.  I love when I create something because it touches me that day, but then I look back at them and can put them together like puzzle pieces.  It helps me feel safe in God’s plan.

He knew I was going to need this renewal time.  Summer usually is my retreat–I escape to family farms in Iowa, and to Michigan or Ohio.  This summer, circumstances with schedules are not allowing for the travel–and maybe that is good.  God knew I was going to need my own home to be my retreat.  He wants me to renew right here.  He was waiting for ME to wait for His word.  All of these changes in my diet would be crazy hard traveling.  I would never stick with it.

God, I have heard you.  I am listening.  I am ready for your renewal.  You are my place of quiet retreat.

How about you?  Are you doing any renewing this summer?

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

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Trust in God One Day at a Time by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

This is my mantra through this journey of renewal.  I have been illustrating/studying the book of Exodus with Bible Stories from the Heart throughout June with Leslie, and she has done an amazing job of showing how God used the journey of the Israelites to force them into leaning on God every single day to get them from Egypt to the promised land.  Every single day, He made sure that they needed Him, and Him only, that they were reminded of His power.  They relied on God for their very survival and in turn it deepened their faith creating a whole history that paved the way to Christ.

If the Israelites can do it, so can I, so can you.  I can trust in my Savior, Jesus, each and every day.  He has a plan of restoration, renewal, revival–and He wants us to be a part of it.  The first step is to just TRUST.

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

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Hello!  I hope that you enjoyed the art for the last week.  I am finally starting to feel fully myself again!

The whole episode the last two weeks (rash, swelling, urgent care, ER, drug reactions, steroid and antihistimine fog)  made me really think about all sorts of re words:  revival, renewal, repair, recovery.

I feel like God has spent the last two years renewing my spirit and soul.  He and I have done some hard work fixing my brain and my heart.  Renewing my faith into a whole new, deeper relationship with Him. Restoring my laughter and joy in every day life.  Repairing relationships.

But somewhere along the lines this winter I left my body behind.  I sat down and really thought about the last time I felt HEALTHY.  And it was definitely before Christmas–January was a bout of flu, February  was a relapse that took 10 days off my life, early May I had that horrid stomach virus, and all the way in between I never completely recovered.  My system just got more and more worn down, my body in more disrepair.  I was sleeping less, and worse, my eating habits were horrible–I was turning to carbs, sugar, and caffeine more and more to try and keep our schedule.  So my brain was fogged and I started messing things up, forgetting things, becoming unorganized.  That is not me.

The episode (can you tell that is my new name for it? LOL) made me stop and really take stock.  The first step in repairing all the havoc in my body is diet–I have cut out all dairy, gluten, eggs, sugar, and anything processed.  Eating lots of beans people!  And fruit!  And drinking a ton of water and chammomile tea, because I cut out coffee and alcohol as well.  I am telling you–what I wouldn’t do for a glass of wine and chocolate anything dessert right now.  BUT–getting my body back in balance and repaired is more important than the 20 minutes I would enjoy that treat.  I am sick of being itchy!  And tired and everything else.

I have prayed fervently to God to revive my body that I can continue His service.  I realized, I can’t make art, teach classes, process orders, or illustrate anything if I don’t feel good.  God has done His part to bless my art ministry, now it is my part to take care of the tool that does the work.  I am praying He will grant me the strength to do this hard diet and changes.  There are so many temptations!  But I know Jesus will carry me with love and peace through this renewal, so that makes it easier to face this recovery.  

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Giving Grace…to Me

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Give Yourself Grace by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Ah.  God moments.  This is the art I decided to post a month ago.  God knew I would need it.

I had a bad reaction to something this week. LONG story, but my face, neck, and chest are covered in a bad rash and there has been some swelling.  Not sure caused by what.  I have decided to try some drastic diet changes, sleep, stress, meds, all that good stuff.  God and I are going to  start a crazy journey of obedience I think.  Never thought He would push me this direction!

So, I am going to give myself some grace and step back.  The blog is going to be very short.  I still have that monthly plan already scheduled through August.  Which means I can post art for you to enjoy.  But I may not be energized enough to write.  We shall see.

Hopefully you can give yourself a little grace–that is a positive thought, isn’t it?  Its a good feeling to know that I can give myself permission to step back.

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