Being Authentic

Good morning!  I thought I would share a little more about me this morning:

Being AUTHENTIC.  That is something that we all struggle with, right?  In this crazy world that often wants us to conform, we can lose our sense of who God created us to be uniquely.  I know as a young mom, I fell into that trap.  But I am reviving who I am!  God is leading me along the way.  I am believing more that He loves me, He created me uniquely, and He needs me to be that person.  My job is to believe it.

So who am I?

I am a mom to these guys:

    

Phoebe is 12, Annika is 10 and Tanner is 7.

I am a wife to Jeff:

He doesn’t like it when I take his picture.  I love how much he makes me laugh!

I am an artist and teacher.

I am 40 and I love it.

I am a Christian.

I am trying to be gluten and dairy free.

I am spontaneous, flexible, honest, a bit giddy and excitable, a bit scattered–but try to be organized.

Tired a lot, need naps.

I prefer dresses and skirts.  I wear a lot of jewelry and the bigger the better.  Even though I am short, only 5’2″, and very pear shaped.

I drive a Ford Flex that is red with a white top.

I am not patient, romantic, or athletic.  Crowds can make me act different.  Not good at technology, but work with it all the time.  I am horrible at talking on the phone, but can talk for hours in person.

I am not bitter memories or my sins of the past.  I will not let those define the me I am today.  And neither will Jesus–He forgave them and moved on.  I need to do the same.

I know who I am.  God is proud of that.  He wants me this way.  Have you sat down and thought about who God created you to be?  Who He LOVES?  It is such an empowering and calming thing to do.  Just like the vision boards…I am working on mine…will post soon.  🙂

An Enduring Faith

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The Power of Faith in Jesus by Nicole Plymesser Nelson

Good morning!  I decided I wanted to share a few posts about my different backgrounds:  my faith, my family, my art and maybe even just me in general.  It is always good to get know a sister in Christ better, right?  So I am going to start with faith:

I grew up in the ELCA Lutheran church:  there are also the Missouri and Wisconsin synod branches.  The ELCA is probably considered the least strict of the three in some ways–not sure how to put that.  But the ELCA allows women to not only be laypeople in the church, but also ordained ministers.  That is probably the biggest difference.  The ELCA believes in salvation by grace not works, the sacraments, confession of sins,  and follows a set liturgy (prayers, responsive readings, and every week they read from the Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and the Gospel).  When I was a kid I went to Sunday school and attended church with my parents, so I was in on all of that.  I have always felt like I had a really strong base in the Word, because I listened during church and soaked in all of that.  I was very blessed.

I come from a family of strong faith and religion.  My mom, aunts, and grandmother on mom’s side really shaped my faith and service to the church:  you didn’t just attend, you SERVED.  And it was a good thing.  I have always dived in and enjoyed my different roles in the churches we attended.  Ours was a praying family, a Bible reading family, a singing hymns at home family.

I attended a Lutheran college, and took religion classes. BUT I was friends with strong feminist types, my religion professor was more interested in the historical facets of the Bible than the spiritual, and I was questioning life in general  (pretty typical college stuff).  My family thought I didn’t believe anymore…I NEVER stopped believing that Jesus Christ was my Savior, but I DID question RELIGION and cultural and societal roles of religion.  I know, I thought I was deep.  And I was trying to balance my scientific knowledge with my faith knowledge. That is a tricky and long road.

Now:  add into that a grandmother on the other side who had a strong faith, reads her Bible constantly, but who is very judgemental.  She told me as a child that I wasn’t saved because I wasn’t born again, that my denomination wasn’t being a true Christian.  And I have had other friends and neighbors pressure me the same way.  That put a whole judgemental spin in me:  I knew I was a Christian, but I became very leery, unbelieving of some other denominations.  I was prejudiced.

In my twenties and thirties we moved several times.  Sometimes I could find my good old comfortable ELCA church (that is another Lutheran tenet–you should be able to find a Lutheran church anywhere in the nation and be able to slip into and recognize the liturgy and feel comfortable and accepted).  Sometimes I couldn’t find one.  But I knew I needed fellowship with Christ and other believers, so I attended a variety of churches.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I was finally able to let go of denominational prejudices.  I was able to see that we are all unique individuals with unique and different faith needs.  We all have different backgrounds and comforts in our religion, our worship, our beliefs.  Different personalities express worship and belief in different ways.  Some share, some do not.  Some need constant learning, some do not.  And often, if you look at the personality of a person outside of church, how they deal with everything in their life, they approach faith the same way.

But those of us who believe ARE ALL CHRISTIANS.

In the past three years, I discovered another thing that changed my personal faith.  I was really good at teaching kids about faith, but I wasn’t very good at teaching myself.  I gave my faith away to my family and others through too much service–the kind of service that was draining me, not building me. So I pulled back.

This is when the faith art journaling REALLY took off.  And then when business took off.  Because I was sharing, and still building myself.  I was giving more up to Jesus–control, worries, prayers, faith.  I finally let Him lead.  I didn’t make the choices, as much as He did.  I quit praying for very specific requests.  I stared praying with confession that I am not perfect and need God in every moment.  I started praying with gratitude.  And I started praying for not this or that thing how I wanted it to be, but for strength, wisdom, discernment, peace and calm, love, patience–the things that would let me believe in God’s will and plan, but that would help me on that path.

My faith is renewed.  It has always been there.  ALWAYS.  But it has taken a fresh new spin, it is affecting me in a new way.  Teaching me in a way that fills my current life.  I am sure that it will morph again as my life continues to change with age and changes.  And that is as it should be.

In Christ’s peace,

Nicole

God Makes Music Glorious

Original Post Here

I have included this post here at BSFTH, so you get to know me a little more.  🙂  If you click over to my website www.nicplynel.com I have an entire series of posts based on music lyrics.  You can find them under the tag music.  

 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.

The happier the song the better.  I listen to Christian music a lot, but I refuse to listen to commercials, there are just way too many good songs I could be missing–and God has given way to many people way to much talent to miss out on it.  So  I push buttons.  I love alternative rock, folk, country, dance, some hip hop, I will listen to songs that I have NO IDEA what they  are saying or if it is even in English if it has awesome music.  I love harmony.  I love beats.

LOVE LOVE LOVE 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.
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Go to here to hear the song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81dK2Vu1IUs&hd=1

David Crowder

Beyond Awesome

Original Post Here

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:

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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:

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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.

A Series of Small Stuff

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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!

His Love Stands Like an Inukshuk

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His Love Never Fails

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

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

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

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

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

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

I saw this cartoon the other day:

Joyful and healing: how doing the right thing changed everything

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

So for now, I am stacking my stones.  I am looking for stacks and paths.  I am watching and waiting.

Yes, one stone at a time.