Tag Archives | Motivational Quotes

New Shapes in Different Seasons

what shape tree

The quote is by David Whyte–sorry they keep getting covered…a lot of my art this winter used up every square inch of the paper.  I seemed to go outside the edges constantly.  As if I couldn’t contain my thoughts.  This tree isn’t one of my favorites, but I like the sky–and the quote.

We never know what shape is inside us, not really, do we?  I can spread my branches as wide as I want growing and reaching.  And sometimes they get broken off.  And sometimes, that’s ok.

I have realized something about myself the past six months.  I thought I had a good shape for my career plan.  I like speaking to large groups, but I discovered, I prefer them to be small children.  🙂  I like teaching, but the weekends and nights are adding a lot of stress and chaos to a family that already has enough.  And really–I am not a chaos kind of girl.  I like routines.  Like blogging and art journaling.  That routine brings me a lot of peace–and that carries into my day and how I interact with my family.

So I need to rethink my shapes and branches to what really works in THIS season of life.  Have you ever felt like that?  God may have plans for us, we may have capabilities.  But there are definite seasons for when they should be used, or should wait.

The wonderful thing is that God planted talents inside our seeds knowing those seasons would come.  He understood when He designed each of us what shapes and branches would happen.  But He understood some seasons would be beautiful growing weather, and others would have storms and droughts.  We just have to trust that He will reveal to us what shapes.  And remember that He trusts us to LEARN from the growth and the storms.

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


thinking about you city

I slept in again.  🙂  And I do not have any posts pre-scheduled.  So here we are, late again this morning.

But it’s all good.  God is with me.  He is thinking about me.  It is a new day and I am awake and enjoying it.  Praise to Him.

This new print was pretty popular this weekend at the show.  I think we all just need this little reminder.  We just need that big ole billboard sometimes right in front of us that God is thinking about each of us individually and He loves us in the midst of our day in our human world.  We need reminded that He is bigger and has more impact than any of our human constructs.  Yet, He stops to think of us and get our attention.  Again, Praise to Him.

Tomorrow morning, my family will be at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade with a whole slew of tap dancers. Phoebe’s studio was invited to join in the fun–watch for us on tv.  🙂  So excited for her opportunity to tap among the buildings of downtown.  I pray that 1.  we will not freeze and 2.  that we will help people see God’s billboard through us while we are down there.  Wherever you are for the holiday I pray that 1.  you are warm and 2.  that you shine some Jesus too.

Love ya’ll!

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

Bravest Thing


This piece is a little different from what I usually post.  I make more collage pieces, but they tend to be more personal in nature, so they don’t make it onto the blog.  And they tend to be messy on the paper as well as emotionally messy.  But this one is different.  I had fun collaging bits from my desk that are part of my story:  stamps (travel, writing), hearts/love, growth, circles and cycles, birds, measurement, music, a J for Jeff–and then a random goldfish, just because I liked it.  🙂

But it is the quote that really spoke to me and that made me want to share this piece.  I am pretty open about my fight with depression these days, but I wasn’t always.  And fighting through the process to healing was definitely the hardest and bravest thing I did do.  And coming out on the other side loving myself, giving myself grace.

I did a presentation at a MOPS group a few weeks ago.  I was supposed to be talking about faith art journaling, and I did, but what I ended up emphasizing was owning my story and the process that brought me to healing and the part art played in it.  I think the coordinator was disappointed–she wanted more of an art lesson.  But I had three women come up to thank me for sharing.  They felt like they had heard their own stories, diagnoses, and felt they weren’t alone as I spoke.  God sent me to them that day.  God knew I needed to own my story and be brave about it to help those other women.  It was worth it.

Love your self today enough to be brave today and own your story.  You never know where it will take you.

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

Life is to Live


There you go.  Not going to say too much more. Only this:  I encourage you to go out and live it today.  Make some experiences rather than just think about them or worry about them or plan them.  Live it.

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

Affect the Day


Let’s go out and affect this day!  We can make the quality of it high–we can make it better, make it glorious, make it filled with love.  This is what we are called to do.

We cannot change other people’s reactions, attitudes, and behaviors–but we can affect them.  By being positive role models, by being cheerful, by sharing unconditional love.

There is no reason to worry–what will be will be.  We are provided for in huge ways.  We are going to encounter struggles, but how we deal with them is what is really going to make the difference.  We can sit and stew on them and ruin the moment that is right now, we can miss the beauty of the moment of right now and the wondrous things God is currently doing.  Or we can rise to the moment and enjoy it in all of its splendor.

We have been given Today.  We must make it the best possible we can in gratitude to God for giving it to us.

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

Listen to something new

Scan-001I am only going to share music with this today.

This is some of the best piano music I have found in a long time!  Absolutely inspiring click the links below to go to YouTube and listen:

Paul Cardall New Life, “Letting Go”*

David Ketchum “MGNT Kids Remix” you can listen here. **

(* He composed the music to go with several Richard Paul Evans books and an album of hymns.)

(**The original song is good, but a bit scary. But as a piano piece it was fabulous.  The rest of the album is good and interesting also.  I always like being introduced to something new.)

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

A Series of Small Stuff


Great Through Series of Small by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Holy moly.  It always surprises me when I come across a piece I haven’t shared that I painted almost a year ago.  Sometimes I wonder if I paint too much.  Then I am like, “NAHHH!!! I can’t paint enough!”  Christ is so good that He is giving me all of these ideas!  I am trying to catch up with HIM.  He really has been working on me to paint words for Him for a long time.

But He needed to strengthen me.

Looking back, I would love to have not gone through my bad bouts of depression. (I know Jeff would prefer not to have dealt with those episodes!)  But at the same time, I grew from those times, I am a much stronger woman, wife, mom, and Christian.  Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t moved so many times. (I mean really; 5 states in 5 years was kind of nuts.  Who does that but crazy people?)  But if we hadn’t, I wouldn’t have so many amazing experiences, friends, points of view on different ways to live and worship Jesus.  I wonder what would have happened if I had listened way back 20 years ago and made HIS art then, instead of scrapbooking, painting pictures of farmer’s markets, and making all of those collaged cards (I even went to New York City thinking I could sell them).  But if I hadn’t tried all of those different things, I wouldn’t appreciate what He is doing in me now.  I wouldn’t have that background of different styles and techniques that shapes my art now.

Lots and lots and lots of small things in a long series.  Bringing me to do His work NOW.  All in HIS time.  What would have happened if one of those other things had broken me?  What would have happened if they had been successful?  Would I be where I am now?

Would He have strengthened me to this point?

Would I be ready to do HIS will?

Because I know now, my way doesn’t work.  My ideas aren’t always the best.  I can trust that He is using this world to shape me.  I can trust that there is a lesson in everything–no matter how hard it is, no matter how much I don’t want it, or think it will break me.

And more importantly:  I know that the great is not me.  The GREAT is JESUS.  Him working in me.  Him leading me to glorify Him.  It is so easy in our culture to get caught up in how great we think we are.  And that is not the point.  That is not when or how or what is truly great.

The series of small things brought together leads us to a life with what is truly truly great.  Faith in Christ.

I can only pray that He will use a whole string of more small stuff the rest of my life until I get to join Him in what will be the greatest of all.

How about you?  Can you look at your series of small things?  Are they leading you to the great?  Is God strengthening you?  Getting you ready for the great stuff?  Are you in the great stuff now?  Do you realize it?  I hope so!

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

Try Try Again


Try Try Again by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I was playing around with different bird shapes for this drawing.  I have a Pinterest board just for different ways to sketch little birdies (follow me here) along with hundreds of other pins about journaling, drawing, watercolor, beautiful photos, art lessons, quotes, Bible verses.  It is a wonderland of ideas.  I love seeing other people’s artwork.  But sometimes, it gets those doubts churning.  That is when I have to remind myself to just try.  No one else is expecting perfection.  Everyone else is just trying.  It is okay.  I don’t need to recreate anything anyone else makes, I need to try to make my own story and art.

I honestly do not believe that God thinks we will ever be perfect here on Earth.  I think He knew as soon as Eve took that bite that it was all over, it was all just a matter of trying for each person from then on out.

Why do non-believers expect Christians to be perfect?  That is something I don’t understand.  Isn’t that the whole point of being a Christian?  We realize we are not perfect and that we need God in our lives to help lead our choices.  We know we need grace.  We believe God/Jesus/Holy Spirit is the only possible perfect thing ever.  We believe every day is another day to try.

Does it have anything to do with, especially as Christians, we expect ourselves and/or each other to be perfect?  Why is that?  I don’t get it at all.  Why we do we hold each other/ourselves to a level that we KNOW is unattainable?  Why can’t we all just be happy when we are each trying?

Not too many conclusions today.  Lots of questions.  But I do know this:  I need to expect less perfection from me.  I need to expect only that I try, and the same for all those I encounter.


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

Breathe in Deeply My Sweets


Breathe in Deeply by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

I told all of you that my big news also came with a crazy story.

I visited my wonderful sister in Ohio this weekend, and it was so good to see her!  But I arrived with a serious stomach bug.  Truly.  Half way there (200 miles in) I started feeling nauseous.  Really nauseous.  And within an hour of my arrival I was full on viral, food poisoning, sick.  My poor sister.  I was there to attend a dance recital and watch her and her three kids dance.  The last thing she needed was me there in full sickness mode.

I stayed home Friday evening with her youngest and my two.  I turned on the tv for them, snuggled on a couch with clear paths leading from it, and tried to distract myself with emails and Facebook.  Low and behold there was an inquiry email from Leslie!  So in between flashes of illness, I was encountering a God whisper!

I wanted to just smirk up at God, and ask Him, “Really?  You do have a sense of humor don’t you?  I feel awful right now, I am not even at home, and right now is when you want me to look into this? Now?!  This should come when I can do a happy dance!  When I am near a computer so I can do this full on, not my phone, which I can barely type full sentences on.”

I am telling you.  We never know when Jesus will decide to show up!  This is why our hearts MUST be open and our ears ready to listen, our mouths shut and our arms ready to embrace.

So.  I took a deep deep breath.  Another deeper one.  And I perused the Bible Stories from the Heart sites.  And I took another deep breath and contacted Leslie.  And I took another deep breath, and prayed that this was the correct answer to God’s whispers.

Saturday was busy (recital and of course my two kids got sick).  Sunday night I returned home, feeling much better and checked my email.  And did my happy dance.

This is going to be wonderful!  All in God’s time.

Have you been waiting for His whispers and answers?  It can be so hard to wait and listen.  It can be so hard to take His advice and let go to do His will.  It can be draining fighting all by ourselves, and fighting His plan.  But when we breathe in His grace, love, peace, mercy, and wisdom–it is the cleanest, brightest, breath ever.  It fills not just your lungs, but instantly travels your whole system.  Breaths of surrender to His plan.  And your whole body is lifted and lighter.


I can’t wait to have you breathe in deeply with Leslie and I!


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

Beyond Awesome

Did you watch the clip yesterday?  Here is another bit from Rhino:

I love him and his confidence!  Anytime the kids watch this movie we tell each other that we are be-awesome for days.  I want to instill that kind of confidence in my kids–that they aren’t just good, or awesome, but beyond awesome.  Because that is how God created them.

I am feeling pretty awesome these days.  I didn’t always.  That crazy/perfectionist/depressed side of me never thought anything was good enough.  But I am changing my ways.  And ya’ll are helping me by just being here.

You ask,” How do you keep up?  Get all that painting and writing done?” (Which in Rhino’s world would translate, “How are you so awesome?”  Well, let me show you…found this on Pinterest and had to paint it:


Art before Housework by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

That is how!  Totally true.  But the best part, is now I can say it is for “business”.  HA! Beyond awesome.  (See?  Answering the knock to use my gifts is paying off!) Honestly, I could be doing dishes right this moment or organizing my mail.  But, I would rather paint.  I would.  So, I do.  The dishes will get done at some point, we haven’t run out for a meal yet.

And then when I let myself paint, I have a tendency to “get in the zone” or let my “mojo” take over, I lose consciousness of time and space.  I know where my kids are, but two hours feels like five minutes when I am doing this:


More wise words from another favorite artist.  When I am answering the knock, letting God work through me, the art just pours out, all His awesome.  The words are just…there.  When I push, or I try and make it about me, I end up completely annoyed (this is when the perfectionist/depressed/crazy has a tendency to show up) and ruin everything on the paper and around me.

But you know what the real answer is?  I answered the knock and LET GOD IN.  I trusted Him to let His awesome flow through me.  I let go and let Him.  I trusted that Jesus is beyond awesome, that He created me to share in that, and that he expects it of me.

Of each of us.  He expects us all to be beyond awesome when we walk with Him.  Because we ARE.

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

Knock Knock

Art is obviously my favorite way to express myself.  We all have some unique gift God gave us.  And usually it isn’t a choice, it is just simply what must be done.

It can be easy to ignore our gifts though, shove them away to a “better” time.

You know how sometimes you are at home, you hear the doorbell or the knock.  But you stop, you are comfy on the couch.  You consider, “Can they tell I am home?  Can I ignore them?”  Or maybe you peek out a peephole or out the window.  Is it some solicitor to wave away?  Someone you close your eyes, sigh, and open up anyway?  Sometimes we do that with our gifts.  We ignore them for when we “have more time” and instead do the “bread and butter” necessary things.

And then sometimes, we hear a knock and it is someone you are overjoyed to see.  You open the door wide and welcome them whole heartedly.  Maybe you were expecting them, maybe it is a surprise.  Sometimes the timing isn’t what you thought.  But you answer the knock because you know it is the right thing to do.


Art is a Knocking from your Soul By Nicole Plymesser Nelson

So why don’t we do that with our talents?  You know, those spiritual gifts God gave us.  He didn’t create all of us to just make money or control everything in sight.  He didn’t intend for us to sit on the couch and ignore them, or peep out but walk away, or even sigh and acknowledge them, but only if necessary.

He created us to connect.  To spread His gospel.  To love on each other.  To answer the knock from our very souls and get on with it.  And the best part?  Is when you ANSWER He does super cool things.  Things you never imagined.


Georgia O’Keefe Say thing With Color and Shapes

Ms. O’Keefe (one of my favorite artists by the way) says it perfectly.  There were so many things I didn’t know I could say, things that were bottled up, just ready to explode.  And when I did, I ended up with over 400 pieces of art so far. I think I had a lot to say.  I think God had a lot to say through me.

What is Jesus going to say through you?  What is your talent?  Have you answered the knock to bake?  to dance?  to write a book?  teach a class?  open a studio?  to reach out to different people?  Some of you have.  (Wink, wink to my girlies I just called out, you know who you are–so proud of all you answering the knock!)  Or maybe you are still peeping out the window.

Do it.  Answer the knock.  It is your soul.  It is your destiny.

I leave you with this, one of my all time favorite Disney characters:


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.

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.

She believed the cracks were openings for grace


She Believed the Cracks Were Openings for Grace

I am not perfect.  Not by a long shot.  None of us are.  Yet, God still gave us Easter and the promise of salvation.  It is now Holy Week, only a few days until my favorite holiday.  I find Easter incredibly powerful.

Spring, itself has a big impact every year on my life.  It is hard holding depression at bay all winter, especially when it snows in March. I struggled this past week.  I felt the heaviness of our family being in the house all the time,  my head ached with annoyance, their need, and my need for their independence.  I was CRANKY. I was CRACKED.  But this weekend, the blue skies showed up, I went for a walk, I sat in the bay window and literally soaked up warm sun rays like a cat.  I found the daffodils pushing up in the garden.  I spent a day painting and playing.  Everything feels new again.  I admitted I was in need, that I couldn’t do it, and GRACE showed up in those cracks, oozed out like the mud of spring time.

That is what I love about Easter.  No matter how many cracks I have, I can confess them to Jesus, because He already knows they are there.  He fulfilled a plan that fills those cracks with an infinite amount of grace.  He knew when He hung on that cross that I would sin, and yet He loves me anyway.  And it is the same for each of us.  If we look at the cracks as openings for His grace, and not as caverns we can fall into, it changes our whole perspective.  We know we can hop those cracks and make to the other side, whole, intact, and loved completely.  We just have to hop them holding Jesus’ hand.


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

Question to Enlightenment



Kids are so good at questions aren’t they?  They know how to USE them:  to gain knowledge, to get what they want, to grow.  They know that the more they ask the more answers they will get.  To the point of being annoying at times.  But look at how much children learn and grow in such a short time.  Why as adults do we stop asking questions?  Why do we think we have all the right answers, or are not curious enough to even wonder?

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is how much I learn.  I am growing right along with the kids in my knowledge of all sorts of topics.  All the funny factoids, all of the different points of view, all of the new information that I don’t ever remember learning about before –they all fascinate me.  Often I find myself in wonder of the world God created. I find myself confused by human actions.  And when humans use the talents God blessed them with for good, I am filled with joy.

Yes, the more questions we ask, the better.  Don’t be afraid to have the curiousity of child.  Learn from their example.

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

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