Archive | Life: food, school, travels

One SMALL Positive Thought


Positive Thoughts Change the Day by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Have you ever woke up from a bad dream and it colored your whole day?  Made you cranky, nervous, uneasy.  Ever woke up with a headache?  Those are a bummer–again it can ruin the whole day.  Felt annoyed by something immediately?

But what about those other days?  The ones where you wake up from a peaceful dream and sleep.  Or start with a great Bible reading or song.  Maybe a sweet kiss and words of love from a little one.  Or a super cool piece of artwork.  (Wink, wink  heehee)  Maybe just the song of a bird, a great cup of juice or coffee, good traffic, pants that fit today.  Could be anything.

Those things leave us in a good mood for the whole day–we can come back to them and get warmth and encouragement from them every minute of that 24 hours.  Just ONE SMALL POSITIVE THOUGHT.  What if we gave ourselves permission to do that–have a positive thought or maybe even to compliment our SELF.  What if we warmed ourselves from the inside? How could that change us?  Do you think they would snowball?  Would we be willing to allow ourselves more little positive thoughts?  Would we feel the glow of them?  –And then be more likely to share that encouragement?

Hmmm.  Interesting thought.  Yes?

I now have this print on my desk–so I see it first when I come down each morning.  It helps me.  If you think it might help you, you can get prints of it here.  


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

Everyone Can Do It


Everyone Can Give It by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

So encouragement.  Don’t think you can walk up to random people and give them a compliment?  Brighten their day? Make them feel special?

Of course you can silly!

Here is a little story of how it can work, and help:

Our post office people in Lockport have a reputation for crankiness.  They used to drive me bonkers.  But the more I stop by there with orders, the more I see the silliness they must cope with.  So I decided to hand out some compliments, and hopefully add to their day in a positive way rather that add to their drudgery. –I complimented one woman’s ring, another day I noticed the other woman was more tan (turned out she is going on vacation), another time I commented on how well the man was handling all the crazy passport business.  I did or said other little things for patrons.  And you know what?  It worked!  Hallelujah!  Now I get grins, jokes, and better service.  And sometimes, we get other patrons to smile too.

Just like the birds on a wire, who will always make room for another, we can always make room in our hearts to encourage another of God’s family.  It is something we can all do.  And it takes seconds.  And it reflects back to us–it encourages our selves.  It pays it forward.  And it eventually will spread like wildfire.  Encouragement.  Everyone can do it.

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

Just Encourage People


Encourage People by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Encouraging those around us:  it is so direly necessary.  We all need cheerleaders:  those people in our life who help us stay up, hopeful, filled with faith.  Those who love us as we are.  We are usually very good at encouraging those who are closest to us.  That can be easy.

But what about the others…you know…all of the other people that we encounter each and every day.  Strangers.    They need our encouragement too!

I decided a long time ago, I like compliments.  It makes my day when someone tells me they like my crazy short haircut, or the shirt I have on, or how well behaved my kids are being–it does happen sometimes–the behavior and the compliments :).  Those words FEEL GOOD.  They make my heart swell.  And not in a vain way, but in a hey! I made a good choice way!  Someone noticed something good!  Maybe it brought both of us joy!  I can feel it all the way to my toes.

So I decided, I would hand out compliments.  To random strangers.  If I see someone who looks great, I tell them.  If someone is doing something great.  I tell them.  If they make any sort of positive impact on me, I tell them, or if I think my words will have a positive impact on them, I tell them.

And the best part:  the smiles I get back.  I smile all they way to my toes.  I feel like I am helping them stay up, hopeful, and filled with faith for our world.  I am spreading the love of Jesus in a heartfelt way.

Melissa at just posted on this last month.  Her words rang so true.  She ends her post like this,” She probably has no idea that her comments still come back to me to this day, sweet encouragement at times when I need it. I want my words to hang delicious over someone’s head, always ready to breathe life and healing into them when they need some. It’s such a simple imperative: See the beauty and good in people, and say what you see. If we start today, who knows how much love we can dole out, one sweet word at a time?”

Check out the whole story.  It is awesome.  It will inspire you to spread some love, not just today, but everyday.

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

I Want to Be With Me


Be Who You Want to Hang Out With by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Aren’t these little guys funny?  I have no idea why I drew them like this–I probably saw something on Pinterest that inspired them.  They make me smile.

Those are the kinds of people I like to be with–the ones who SMILE A LOT.  The ones who make me want to smile a lot.

It took some hard self-reflection to understand this concept.  Not long ago, I spent a lot of time with people who didn’t smile a lot.  I had things in common with them.  We could talk easily.  But I didn’t like who I was when I was with them.  And I discovered I was becoming someone I didn’t want to be with–think about that–not wanting to be with your own self because you are disgusted with your own heart.

I had let a lot of bitterness fill me.  The depression was taking over.  I didn’t smile much.  I was constantly annoyed.  I blamed it on my circumstances and everyone around me.  And then I realized.  I was the circumstance.  I was the nasty person.

So I made changes.  I did what I needed to medically control the depression. I prayed and prayed for the bitterness to be set free.  I decided my circumstance wasn’t going to change–we weren’t moving–so I needed to find reasons to like where I live.  I needed to make my house what I wanted.  I needed to give of my gifts and stop letting people take what they wanted.  I made more time for the people who make me smile, and let go or either budgeted small amounts of time for the unhealthy relationships.

And it made a huge difference.  I like ME again.  I am someone I would want to spend time with.  And I realized:  some people will want to be with, will need, what this version of me has to give–others will not.  And that is a wonderful lesson to be okay with.

Have you ever had to learn this lesson?

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

You Are Needed



I don’t remember why I redid this saying.  Sometimes I will re paint one if I am not happy with the results.  But I like both of these.  Maybe God was sending me a message…

Do you ever feel unneeded?  It can be unnerving to not feel like no one wants what you have to give.  I have felt it at the beginning of our moves.  I have heard that seniors and empty nesters cope with this feeling.

And then there are other times, when we feel very needed but not wanted for our own gifts.  When the kids were really little, I was often overwhelmed by their need for me to attend to their every whim.  But at the same time, I love caring for them to this day.  I am filled with a sense of purpose, rightness, and love when I can do for them.

What do you have to give that someone needs?  And I am not talking about the over-volunteering kinds of needs that go on in our culture–the fundraising, the time-the whatever–the fulfilling of someone else’s selfishness.  Because there is a big difference people.  I am talking about your GIFTS.  What has God blessed you with as a talent that someone needs right now?

I had to discover the hard way that I need to give in my gift areas.  It is not fulfilling when it has to be taken–it is overwhelming, and stripping.  But when I focused in on giving of my favorite talents, the things that truly come from my heart–it was and is the best thing ever.  And I found people who needed me in that way.

Take a minute today to reflect–what are people taking and what are you giving?  What do they need from your heart?

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

Stop the Tantrum


God Uses Us as We Are Now by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I have a very long fuse.  I can be happy for a very long time, and I will let a lot of things go.  Which is actually bad, because when I blow, I am usually in full on temper tantrum mode.  I like to kick the kids’ stuff they leave lying around.  I will yell.  It took being a mom to get better at controlling my temper.  Not just because I wanted to set a better example, but because what I used with the kids, worked on me.

This is what we do:  1.  close your eyes  2.  take three deep breaths  3.  use your words calmly.  So simple it seems almost silly, right?

Well, #1–Close your eyes–when we are bombaloo* we are completely overwhelmed and overstimulated and closing your eyes at least removes 1 sense.

(*Bombaloo is a word from this book–excellent for teaching children about the feeling of out of control mad–and I love that word) .

#2 Deep breaths–this centers the rest of the senses.

#3 Words–no one understands the blubbering, or muttering under our breath.   In reality, it is often incoherent even to ourselves.  This makes us stop and think about what it is we really want.

Here is the faith application:  God uses me even in that very moment, during that tantrum, and all of us.  Just as we are, wherever that might be.  He may use me as an example to myself.  He may use me as an example to my kids (whether teaching them to calm themselves or doing it myself).  He may use me as an example to others.

Usually God has a higher purpose though:  He may use it to bring me closer to HIMSELF.  Guess what, when I close my eyes and take those deep breaths, I think, “How does God expect me to act?”  It brings me closer to my creator.  It refocuses me on what He has taught me to do through His words in the Bible and I can hear Jesus whispering to me.  and when it is all over I am a stronger person, a stronger Christian.

Sometimes a bombaloo time is just a short burst of emotion.  Sometimes it can last years if we hold on tight to that overwhelmed and bitter feeling.  But no matter what, God is there.  He is using us.  He meets us where we are every time.



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

Shift into Being a Mama


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!

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

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!


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.


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.

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 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.


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.

Flowers Like Sunshine Bring Seeing and Happiness


Flowers like Sunshine Bring Happiness


Good morning friends!  Spring  has sprung full on!  Joy of joy of joys.  Needed it!  The trees are all in bloom, forsythia brightens the roadways, bright daffodils and hyacinth dot the bright green grass.  Oh, my colorful world is back!  How I have missed you.  I don’t know about you, but obviously flowers and sunshine make me really really really happy.  I don’t know if it is the explosion of colors and light that pervades my artist eye that makes the difference, or the bodily response in hormones that God designed–you know oxytocin, serotonin, happy-tonin whichever one it is.  🙂

Sunshine makes me see my world in a whole new light.  Seriously.  Not just in a, “Wow, look everything is so pretty and smells fresh!”  kind of way.

But in a, “Wow, you know, God has a plan in this!  Check out those stepping stones laid out for me.  He lined them with sunshine so I would notice this is the path to take!”

First Tanner went back to school, now another one is considering it.  That left me reeling.  How do we make that change and how do I redirect my thinking?  But also—whoah Nelly!  That will leave me with a LOT more time! Do I get a job outside our home?  Or do I pursue the job God is laying out for me????

Have you been noticing the change in writing?  I got this cool little tool for Search Engine Optimization.  In other words, it checks to see if I am being cohesive, linking out, and making sure that more people can actually find the blog and artwork.  I looked back at the beginning of the blog and at my original intentions.  I thought I wouldn’t have enough artwork and words to share. Ha! I planned to add in crafts, recipes, homeschool stuff.  But that is not what God had in mind.

I found a manuscript I started a couple years back that is just like the blog really–artwork and response. When I started it, the words just flowed, often like they do here.  Like the blog, it isn’t some theological, Bible study, deep thoughts kind of writing.  It is my style, that I use here, applying faith to everyday life.  Walking those crazy stepping stones, looking for God moments and good, learning how to love like Jesus in every moment.

I think I know what I am going to work on next year.  And that dear friends is making me happy.  Stay tuned.  🙂


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

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


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.


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

Follow the Stepping Stones


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?




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

Weird behavior is Natural in Smart Children


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!

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

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.


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:


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.

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

Be Complete on Your Own



Be Complete on Your Own

I decided to share some more of the collaged stamping pieces.

Do you remember in the movie Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise tells Renee Zellweger, “You complete me.”?  It was such a popular catch phrase for so long.

I came across this quote on Pinterest and liked it (by anonymous I am guessing, since it was not attributed).

God created us to be complete in and of ourselves.  He knew what we should be as a person.  But He also knew what we would need in a spouse, a friend, a family member.  We needed people to complement us, to help us learn, to teach us to love, to help us be a better version of ourselves.

God did a great job creating each of us.  But he knew we can’t do this on our own.  He calls us to brotherhood, calls us to fellowship.  He gave each of us unique spiritual gifts. And He gave us people in this world to help showcase them.  And He gave us Jesus.  What better complement to everything we do?



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

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