Inspired Changes–Finished Version


Isn’t that an awesome concept?

We cannot change others.  But we can inspire them.  We can model other ways of thinking and doing.  The people who really influence others make the changes themselves first.  They show us how to be faithful, obedient, grateful, and so many other things.  I know this is a lesson I need all the time.  I want to “fix” things.  But really I need to step back and adjust myself first.

I read these two books this winter.  In some ways they were difficult to get through–but mostly because I needed to time to process and be influenced by these two amazing women.  These were not books to stay glued to for one night, but to be affected by over time.

  Left to Tell  Brain on Fire

These women are survivors, one of a holocaust and the other of mental illness brought on suddenly by sickness.  They made it through.  And they came out stronger.  They have now written books to influence others to make changes in their lives for the better.  I highly recommend both books.  I know these are two influential women in my life who have inspired me.


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

My Lighthouse

Today is:  My Lighthouse by Rend Collective  You have to listen, and clap, and maybe do a polka with it.  I mean YOU HAVE TO.  I am not kidding, or at least I have to.  It goes back to that always dancing and singing thing for me.


God is my light…I now think of Him in yellow.  Really, I do.  And there have been so many times in my life of darkness and it has been His Light that truly has saved me and led me back to the safe path. Anytime I see sun rays shining down through a cloud I think of God.  And angels. Bright blue skies make me want to raise my hands and praise God for shining that day. The sun’s rays of light and warmth mark our days, make the moon shine, the waters flow, living things grow.  That is a lot of power.  That is God.  Power, light, growth, warmth, LIFE.

LIFE, people.

Follow it safely to your own shore.  Go  forth and let it shine from you.  🙂

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

Do something

Here is the link to today’s song:  Do Something by Matthew West .  I figured out how to make the title the link.


This is sort of the theme at our church right now.  We are calling everyone to think about what we can each do, no matter how small or how big, to share the word of God and to build His church.  Pastor Dorothy talked about how we can start with just kind words and letting  our faith be visible, and move up from there.  I also loved a couple of the examples she gave:  of water that needs to flow freely to stay healthy, or if it is dammed up it can become toxic to itself and of protecting and hiding our valuables, including our talents, or else they end up unused for their intended purpose.  It is time to risk our pride/dignity/confidence and make sure that the world is hearing about God’s worth and the power of a relationship with Jesus, and we need to DO SOMETHING about it.  DO SOMETHING.  ANYTHING.

(Yes, I take notes during sermons…you never know when a good art piece idea or blog might happen!)


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



Link:  Thrive by Casting Crowns

This song speaks to me in so many ways:  I love the melody, the music style.  But the lyrics are so incredibly powerful.  So encouraging.  Perfect for every single day.  But encouraging to me on my journey from depression to joy–my journey sharing my art–my journey with my church.  I want to THRIVE.

 ***Jeff just asked if I had blogged about the beginning of baseball.  Hmmm.  No.    We have already watched five Twins games.  Jeff, Annika, and Tanner are sucked in to little league and the bigs.  We will have their full attention again after the series in October.  So there, I just blogged about baseball.  Job complete.

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

All in all

IMG_0004-001This is Nichole Nordeman’s version:

Such a simple melody, easy to harmonize (which any good alto always likes).  Always fills me completely with gratitude and calms me down while lifting me up.  And a super message–and, again, easy to remember.

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

God Makes Everything Glorious

The start of the Music Collection

 I LOVE music.  I am that crazy woman you see rocking out in her car at the stoplight, who is whistling in the parking lot, singing under my breath in stores, dancing in my backyard.  So if those places why not hands up at church bouncing more than the kids to the beat.

 Ok, I admit it.  I dance and sing everywhere.  EVERY where.   I cannot help it.

This is the first in several art pieces I am going to share with you that have been inspired by music.  Some are old, some I am doing specifically for this series.  And each one will have a link underneath for you to listen.  🙂

And dance.  You really should dance.

With out further ado, #1.

Go to here to hear the song:

David Crowder

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

Other Christians

IMG_0003I think I came across this a while ago in my devotions.  I have been thinking a lot about different churches, different religions, different Christian faiths. We are all such different individuals.  Our needs are so different.  We all have different love languages.  Why shouldn’t our faith be different?  Why isn’t it okay among Christians to respect those different needs?

And why shouldn’t we spend time with non Christians, non believers. Even those of different denominations.  Learn, share, and encourage each other.

Jesus did.

He even said.  It will not matter when it comes to judgement.  Because the person who believed for one day is as important as the life long Christian.  Jesus is not partial.

How awesome is that? On the days that I question if my belief is strong enough, “right” enough, vocal enough, service enough I can come back to this. God wants us ALL.  No matter what.  He knows what my needs are.  He knows what I am capable of.  And He accepts that.

And the same goes for you.

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

Its Lent

IMG_0001It is lent–that church calendar time when we prepare for Easter. I am not giving up anything–well, I am trying to cut down on my sugar intake. Instead, I am adding–to my faith through study, art, and writing.   My relationship with God is more personal, deeper, more…dare I say fun.  

I feel closer to Jesus than ever.  And sharing that love, that relationship is uplifting.  He knew that it would be…that is why he encourages us to share!  I am sure of that now.  Not to preach and judge.  But to bring this super cool deep feeling of love and acceptance to ourselves and others.

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

Gratitude in Obedience


So this is the Part two to God’s top ten.  THIS is why we try.  This is why we stretch to be who God wants us to be.  This is why we learn more about His Word, to learn more of how to stretch.  And to be reminded constantly that we are rewarded for trying to be obedient.  Gold stars for us–in GRACE.

How amazing is it that God understands?How amazing is it that He still wants us and loves us?

That Jesus came, died, and rose again because He planned on us messing up and needing that grace? How can we not be absolutely Grateful for that??So amazingly cool.

What a crazy awesome gift, Grace.  I know I am grateful from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.  I know it makes me want to give a gift back to God.    And all He asks for in return is Faith.  Belief.  The least we can do is Obey.

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

God’s Top Ten


I found this kid friendly version of the ten commandments on Pinterest.  I loved the simplicity of the wording.  I am going to hang this in our homeschool room and go over it with the kids.  Have it up as a constant reminder for them.

But more importantly , I need it for me.

There is something about seeing it broken down into such simple words, don’t you think?  Really God wants us to follow some pretty simple guidelines.  All of these help us show others LOVE.

As I painted this I thought about it a lot.  And then I sat there and stared at this piece.  And I knew.  God wanted me to paint this for me, for adults, as well as for kids.  We all need to see this and be reminded.

We are HUMAN.  No matter how good we think we are, we all break ALL of these.  ALL the time.  We NEED God’s grace daily because we are human.  We can try as hard as we like, but we all break these consistently when we look at the basic premise behind each one.

I do not always put God first.  I let other committments get in the way.

I believe in One God, in Jesus Christ.  But do I let money get the best of me?

Ugh, naughty, mean, judgemental words slip out all the time.

I try to rest.  Really, really I do.  The world does not make it easy.

I know I have hurt my parents.

Hurt NO ONE.  Holy snow, I wish I could I say this is the one I haven’t committed, but when you put it that way…

I cheat, I don’t give things my all, I cut corners.

Even this one.  Have I stolen ideas?

I really try to tell the truth.

Jealousy.  This one is bad.  Pinterest can be such a great resource.  It also makes me want a more pulled together house, better art, healthier food, more exercise, artsy clothes and jewelry.  Material stuff.  Naughty.

How can I expect my kids to follow these perfectly when I don’t?

That is going to be part of our ongoing discussion.  That we can’t.  And that really, God doesn’t expect us too.  He wants us to try, but really, He knows.  We are Human.  Duh, that’s why he sent Jesus!  That is why He has grace.  That is why we need to believe in that amazing miracle of GRACE through Christ.

Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t try to follow these and be our best human selves.  To stretch and grow….more on that tomorrow.

For now, how well do you do with these rules?  How do you teach them?

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


IMG_0009Going a little personal here today.  Just warning ya’ll.  I have made a committment to myself to be open about my issues with depression.  I want to be there and be honest for other people struggling, they same way I found their words comforting on various blogs and websites.

I struggle with all of the above.  Depression has been taking over my brain since I was in fourth or fifth grade to be honest, and I have had several seriously bad bouts over the years.  And then there have been really good years.  It has its ups and downs.  (Haha…little depression joke there).  But seriously, it is a cycle.  Sometimes I am fine.  And sometimes the crazy cycle of doubt, guilt, shame, self criticism, and high expectations is overwhelming and crippling.

I am on some good medicine now.  Just like diabetics need insulin, I need help with serotonin and other brain chemicals.  And they are working.  I am beating this thing.  This winter has been so much better than others.  The whole year to be exact.  I was not created to live in a fog.  I was not meant to hide.  But to be out there.  Enjoying and sharing in life.   I was meant to be victorious.  I know that God created me to share my gifts–and I really feel like sharing the gift of being victorious over depression is one of them.

If you are at the top or the bottom of the spiral, I understand.  Whether you are finding help right now or not, I understand.  Just know, you are not alone.  I am praying for you and your victory.

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

Do what you do

IMG_0006This can be so hard.

I look at other artists blogs, artwork, and more.  I want to learn their techniques.  I want to learn how they blog.  I want to emulate their success (or at least what I believe them to have).

And then I realize.  They are not me.  I am.  God has created me to do something very special.

I went to a workshop years ago (pre-kids) in Detroit with  artist/teacher Peter London.  He wrote a book, No More Secondhand Art.  That workshop had a huge impact on me.  He helped us realize that no matter what every single person has a different viewpoint and voice.  We all see the world completely differently through the lens of our own eyes and brains.  NO ONE else sees and perceives the way anyone else does.  This was huge in my teaching.  I never made the kids all copy the same artwork, or follow exactly what I did.  I showed them HOW, but then they were expected to make it their own.

So why do should I expect myself to create artwork like anyone else?  Why should any of our homes look the same?  Wear the same outfits?  Create the same meal?  Parent the same?  Run a business the same?  Have the same faith relationship needs?  I tell the kids all the time how much I love how original they are.

It is time to start telling myself, again, and believe it.  For good.

How about you?  What is God inspiring YOU to do?

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

Right People

#3 in the Peach Keeper  series

IMG_0007Oh, buddy, isn’t that the truth???? I have struggled with this one.  I have moved a lot, lived in a lot of places, hoped for a lot of new friends.

I have met some doozies in my search for friends to talk to.  (Because ya’ll KNOW I love to talk.)   And moving can be lonely sometimes.  I have pursued people that really I had nothing in common with, but they seemed to be the ones I thought I was “supposed” to friend.  Sometimes I was just lazy, sometimes desperate, sometimes over confident about their ability to fit into my life.  I have opened myself up to people that I was completely unprepared for, some seriously quirky people that I had no idea what to do with them as things went along.  People that Jeff would not let me answer the phone if they called.  Stalker weird.

People that then I maybe didn’t do a good job unfriending or even friending in the first place. Bad Nicole.

But then there are the others.  The ones who have made me who I am today.  Who gave a piece of themselves to carry with me wherever I go to fill my heart with happiness.   All of the lovely people who have so many common interests and experiences, kindred spirits.  The ones that I am excited to see a message from or see their phone number pop up.  The ones that I wish all lived right next door.

(I have this silly dream that someday I will hold the “I Love Nicole” conference.  LOL  All my besties from each state and season will all join me for a weekend of goodness, because I know they would all love each other, too, of course.)

Those are the RIGHT people.  Those are the ones I hold dear to my heart.  Those are the ones who light up my day.  I am so blessed to have found so many of them, in so many places.  So incredibly thankful for you.

I hope that you, too, have a heart filled with the RIGHT friends.

I hope you have enjoyed this little series.  And I hope you pick up a copy of the book.  It really is quite delightful.

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

So good can enter

#2 in the Peach Keeper  series of journal entries.  This is the link to the author: Sarah Addison Allen  .

IMG_0010How true is that???????  Holy schmoly!  The truth in this, people, should rock some of our worlds.  Especially burnt out, over volunteered mamas/and papas.  If I leave an open spot in my home, in my heart, good things could fit in there!  I know I have things on my plate that I want to feed the dog under the table.  And I should!  Because if there is room on the plate, there is room for dessert!  GOOD things.  Yummy chocolate gooey-ness with whipped cream and butter and flaky pastry.  That, was a lot of metaphors.  But you get it.

If I give up things that are annoying, or I am doing just to please someone else, or out of a sense of duty, I can make room for time with my kids and husband, time to paint, time to read good books like The Peach Keeper.  Good things that fill me with joy, that  bring me closer to love, and ultimately make me a better person.  Far better than the one who fulfills obligations with dragging feet and mumbling under the breath.  There is someone else out there that will find joy in that duty.  LET THEM DO IT!

Make room for the good things.  Whether it is in your house, in your heart, in your mind, on your plate.  DO IT.  Today.

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

A good map

I recently read an excellent book.

There were several ideas/quotes that I really enjoyed amongst the prose, that really stuck with me.

I am a sucker for books set in the South (and secretly believe I was meant to live there) and this is set in North Carolina.  The book follows two women who are finding their place in their hometown, love, and friendship, all while uncovering a mystery that bonded  the families of both women together.  It was a lighthearted, easy read and thoroughly enjoyable.

I will share three journal entries this week I did based on the book.  Here is the first:
IMG_0012How true is that?  Sometimes we are circling in our sense of being lost.  Turning down every avenue trying every option.  When really we just need to stay on the straight path and get where we belong.  And sometimes we just have to listen to the right person to do that.

It may be a close loved one, it may be a friend, it may be a stranger, it may be God.

But a good map makes all the difference!

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

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