Do It @ Home on ThanksGiving!

It’s that time of year again.

You know the time! The four letter word ‘busy’ is how everyone is, when you ask how they are.

The mall Christmas decorations go up as soon as the trick or treaters go home. Today is officially 6 weeks until Christmas Morning. That would be 41 shopping days until little Johnny finds out if he can keep up with the Joneses – or not. Thanksgiving gets sandwiched between Halloween and Black Friday, shopping lists are made, dream holidays planned, credit cards get worn out and we step into the highest suicide rate of the year. Or not.

We actually have a choice in this.

Are we powerless victims to advertising? Or are we powerful believers in a redeeming, hope filled season? One where Jesus reigns?

Okay, honestly, I am mostly the powerful believer in a redeeming, hope filled, Jesus season with occasional tendencies toward powerless advertisement victim…Don’t judge me!

What are our options this year? How can we remain Christ centered? I could give you some lists (maybe next week).

How about one thing?

Is there one thing I could do to slow down, be thankful, remember who I am in Christ, stay focused on Jesus?

Yes. There. Is.

Communion.

Celebrate the Lord’s Supper at home. Start with Thanksgiving!

Recently, as I have been reading my bible, I have been hit with such a huge realization. Jesus didn’t go to ‘church.’ He didn’t ever tell people to go to ‘church.’ He didn’t have a ‘church’ building campaign. He didn’t tell us to build a ‘church.’ The word translated into ‘church’ in our bibles was the word ekklesia and it means ‘called out ones.’ It refers to people not buildings.

I am for the the local ‘church’ buildings – they provide an amazing service. But I also believe we should not depend on the local church to ‘do’ our walk with Jesus for us. I love sharing communion with other believers in a church service. I think it is a holy moment. It’s even better in your own home!

Jesus didn’t take communion in a ‘church’ building. Or a synagogue. Or a temple. He broke bread, in a home, with his twelve friends (11 if you don’t count Judas a friend). These are the guys He did life with.

This famous ‘Last Supper’ bread breaking was during the Passover meal. This  celebration was and is in remembrance of God’s deliverance of Israel. Jesus and the disciples were in someone’s home. In a guest room set up for this feast. For almost four hundred years after Christ’s resurrection, believers met in homes and shared communion in their own homes. (Mark 14:12-26, Matthew 26:17-30, Luke 22:7-23)

Some of my personal thoughts:

I think Jesus loved this! He broke bread and gave thanks as the risen Christ with the guys he met on the road to Emmaus! He loved being with people, enjoyed eating with them, feeding them (sometimes 5000 at a time)!

When I take Jesus with me when I am not in a ‘church’ building and place Him at the helm of my every day life – heaven smiles.

If we take communion at home in a biblical model (1 Corinthians 11:23-25):

1. We examine or test ourselves to see where our heart is at. What does this look like? I usually do this in a two step process:

(a)   Do I need to forgive anyone? Close your eyes and ask God. Did anyone come to mind? If so – forgive the person – out loud (whether you feel like it or not doesn’t matter – just do it). Release them from your expectations and ask God to bless them. 

(b)   Am I believing any lies? Close your eyes and ask God. Did you hear a lie you are believing? If so – ask God to forgive you for believing the lie and ask Him what the truth is.

2. We give thanks. Whatever this looks like for you. What are you thankful for?

3. We break the bread. Jesus did this and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” As you take a bite of bread remember what Jesus has done, who He is, how much He loves you.

4. We take the cup. Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this,  whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Drink from the cup (or a cup) and remember Jesus, consider the wonder of the new covenant – us, no longer separated from our Heavenly daddy!

It’s really that simple. And that beautiful. And that holy. In your own home. With your own family and or friends. Do it when you gather as a group or family in  remembrance and honor of our Lord Jesus. Do it at home! Often.

Jesus never intended communion to be reserved for a ‘church building’ or ‘church setting.’ Heck, there weren’t any when he walked the planet.

Jesus wants to walk with, commune with, love and laugh with, guide, counsel, protect and bless you 24/7! Invite Him to dinner! (Revelation 3:20)

We set a place for Him at our home. I believe He is with us and will show up on my doorstep for dinner!

What is Wisdom?

Some say the elephant is wise, others say the owl. To some wisdom is an animal, to others a person, a parent or a mentor. To others wisdom is a philosophy, a religion or God.

According to Merriam Webster:

Definition of wisdom
1. a : accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge
b : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight
c : good sense : judgment
d : generally accepted belief
2. a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3. the teachings of the ancient wise men

According to the Christian Bible Reference Site: In the Biblical sense, wisdom is the “ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding.” (Lockyer p. 1103)

For me: Wisdom is a journey. It is a chosen path based on experience, failure, success and perseverance. I have often learned more and become more wise by my failure than through my success. There is just something more true about the ability to fall down, shake it off and get back up again to try again. The sheer resilience, the hope found in overcoming – just doesn’t happen in the easy ‘win.’

And you know what else? The wisest women and men I have met will not claim to have ‘it’ all together. Instead they tell the story of their life, the wisdom journey that accumulated over years, and tears and sweat. Yet when I listen to the details of their life experience, I hear the interwoven choice of joy. This joy seems to show up by sheer will in the face of incredible opposition. I am always humbled and honored to sit at the feet of those who care to share their life lessons with me.

Wisdom is portrayed as a woman in the Bible. I kind of really like that, probably because I am a woman… Proverbs 4:5-9 says:

Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 

Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
    embrace her, and she will honor you.
 She will give you a garland to grace your head
    and present you with a glorious crown.

 There are wisdom traditions throughout our world and history. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Vedanta, Daoism; all manner of religion or philosophy call upon the people to grow in this practice or knowledge. Wisdom seems to be a large part of the path to maturity and completely transformative to our nature. Think hot headed person vs. wise person and you probably just formed a complete mental picture of each.

So how do we find this Wisdom Path? Must we fail so frequently as to become discouraged, depressed or even victimized before we get wise? Maybe. Are there books and teachings to follow to avoid the shortcomings of not yet being wise? Probably. Are there people that are alive and breathing that are more wise than ourselves to glean from? Absolutely!

What if we stepped out and began seeking wisdom? What if we shared the wisdom we have learned, stumbled upon or been hit over the head with? What if we had discussions concerning wisdom?

I don’t know about you, but I personally missed wise counsel – probably by no ones fault but my own. I am sure pride got in my way. Not just pride of knowing ‘it’ all but also pride that created a barrier for me to ask for someone else’s wisdom. I had no wisdom practice. I looked for no teacher.

Society today no longer lives in a familial network of generational wisdom in the same house, sometimes not even in the same community. We don’t honor Wise elders. In fact we don’t even like the word ‘old’ or ‘elder.’ Outside of certain Universities or religions, we don’t even consider wisdom.

One of the things that I so would have appreciated as a younger person was someone to come along side me and share what they had learned with me. Not in a judgemental, ‘You Should…’ sort of way, but in a, ‘Here is what happened and what I found/learned…’ sort of way. I knew I wanted a different way than the way I grew up – I desired something kinder, more loving and wiser. Now I can be that person to my younger self. In NO way, shape or form do I proclaim to have this thing called ‘life’ figured out. But I have learned a lot, I have come a long way. I bet you have too! At age 50, I am deciding to share the lessons I have learned and the wisdom I have gained a long the way.

In the next days, weeks, months I am choosing to write the lessons I wish I knew when I was in my twenties (and 30’s and 40’s – I didn’t say I was a fast learner). I hope you will jump in and enjoy the Wisdom discussion with me! I would love to hear what wisdom means to you!


Call of My Wild Soul

Sometimes, when you least expect it, and think it can’t possibly happen this BIG, this WAY, ever again – our Hearts are Cracked Wide Open.

God has been this way for me for many years now, and I am pretty sure, I will never get used to or expect the expansive goodness that comes from our Creator.

For me, my filter is Jesus. And no, I am not saying He must be yours. I simply ache to share my experience.

This last week I was at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico for an art retreat titled: Call of the Wild Soul. It was incredible.

First and foremost, I admit, I cry every time I see the Rocky Mountains. I am a Midwesterner whose heart and soul lives in the mountain forests and streams. My husband loves the Caribbean, so we have compromised and I also love the island of Captiva. But, I HEAR GOD in the mountains. And I hear the whisper of creation through the mountains, valley, cedars, water and rocks of this rugged land.

Call of the Wild Soul is an art retreat. So you think: artists making or teaching art. Right? But this was So Much More.

First, Ghost Ranch has a rich and creative history. It is where Georgia O’Keeffe sequestered herself and painted many of her famous paintings. It is a land rich with a checkered past of artists, outlaws, natives, entrepreneurs and religious icons. Second, it is a thin place. Ghost Ranch and its 21,000 acres are one of those places where heaven and earth intermingle. You simply cannot walk on its land and not feel a connection to something larger than yourself. There is even a labyrinth set up for whatever religious practice you prefer. Currently the Ranch is owned by the Presbyterian Church, and there are many beautiful and stunning places to worship.

Next, imagine a place where visual artists, Bluegrass artists, bird watchers, travelers, cowboys and truth seekers all meet up to experience what the wildness of the land has to offer. Pure serendipity happens. All meld together. It Is Magical.

While I was at this amazing retreat I experienced new art technique, new ways to connect to nature, camaraderie with an amazing sisterhood, and brotherhood, and at one-ness with the land and nature. My cup is full and overflowing!

At the same time all this was happening I did some growing up. As much as I loved all the classes and teachers, I was able to follow my own compass. When a time came to follow my own heart and joy versus curriculum, I chose me. This was a huge and transformative experience for me. As much as I would like to say I am no longer a people pleaser, I still like to go with the flow to not rock the boat or hurt people’s feelings. I was presented with the opportunity to conform to a class that wasn’t resonating with me. I chose not to attend the second day and instead attend to the joy of following my heart. And I Did. It was like breaking free from a self imposed cage!

During this same time period, I opened to a different way of knowing and experiencing creation. It was world changing for me. I have always been drawn to nature and animals AND almost felt guilty or persecuted for my love of the same. Here, at Call of the Wild Soul, I was released to be a complete lover of nature, animals and ALL creation. It was Soul Affirming. This happened because of the organizer, Erin Faith Allen; the setting, Ghost Ranch and the class Environmental Self Portraiture led by Melody Ross and Pixie Lighthorse.

Gratitude and abundant thanks to all who made this possible.

Gesso + Jesus

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Let me tell you about gesso. First it is pronounced, “jess-o.” It took me a couple adult years doing art to realize this proper pronunciation, marking me a novice in the art field. I am okay with that, because I have embraced being a novice (most of the time).

Gesso is a base coat or primer for many art substrates, including canvas, wood or paper. Gesso changes how art medium interacts with the substrate. It can seal a surface, make a material more absorbent or give it more, “tooth.” Gesso can also be used to cover mistakes and start over.

I love gesso. It reminds me of Jesus.

I really enjoy working with canvas, board or paper primed with gesso. It allows me certain assumptions. I know the next layer of paint or graphite or pastel will react a certain way. I also know my canvas will be easier to work with.

People are like that. Myself included. I am WAY easier to work with, with Jesus. I wont go into a long story here, or doctrine or theology. What I will say is this: My life before following Jesus was completely different than my life is now. I live wrapped in the security blanket of God Love that marks even my worst days with a spark of joy and peace.

Back to gesso… It can also cover an art mistake like nothing else! Wonky eye? Gesso (see photo). Missed perspective? Gesso. Out of proportion body? Gesso. You get the idea. Not only does gesso cover the mistake, it gives you a brand new base to start over from.

I know! Just like Jesus!

Walking with Jesus has given me a clean canvas to create on, daily. I have embraced the Jesus gesso of being forgiven and set free (from addiction, depression, shame, anger, hopelessness). Just like in art, and with gesso, I continue to work through each day. Neither Jesus or gesso are a magic wand. But they are pretty darn close! Jesus truly can take all our mistakes and make beautiful art from them.

As I am growing, journeying, as a human and an artist – I see life’s lessons mirrored in art. I know my art can always improve with the help of gesso. And my life continues to expand with a Jesus walk.

Showing Up and Sharing

I recently have had the honor of being asked to participate in a  project sharing stories of ‘FamilyPreneurs.’ I know it’s not a real word…YET! I want to share here. Following is our short BIO for the project:

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Our story is a Faith story. Jeff and I will celebrate 27 years of marriage this year, by the grace of God. Our family includes three wonderful sons, two daughters-in-love and a very precious grand baby. We also own and partner in four companies that employ approximately 400 people.

Entrepreneurship has afforded our family more benefits than a simple biography could encapsulate. But I’ll try: Income, outrageous ability to be generous, time and education flexibility, travel, homes, cars, etc… It has also cost us: time, flexibility, relationships, travel, homes, cars etc… And it almost cost us our marriage.

Jeff and I were not raised in homes that followed Jesus, so we truly didn’t know there was a better way to do life, relationships and business. We were honest, hardworking, struggling, hard people. We were trying to do everything ‘right’ and the way we were ‘taught.’ You know – work our asses off, educate our children in a traditional setting with emphasis on performance and grades, make everything on the outside ‘look perfect.’ On the inside we were dying. Our marriage was in shambles. I was clinically depressed while on depression medication. Our children had diagnosis of ADHD, dyslexia and ADD. We survived embezzlement – just barely – and had deep mistrust issues with everyone. What a ride!

Discovering and surrendering to a relationship with our Creator changed everything. I started contemplating and seeking Jesus during a two year stint of therapy. Don’t get me wrong, it was (and still is) a process! Jesus made us realize we are never alone, we always have a helper and we might want to step out of some of our old ways of thinking.

Just some of the benefits: no more depression or depression meds, the best marriage in the world – we have led countless marriage groups, the options of homeschool and alternative education opportunities, financial investment in our children’s businesses as opposed to college education, a family that isn’t perfect but IS for each other, businesses that grew during the economic downturn of 2008+, new opportunities daily, and for me the courage to pursue my love of art and writing. Truly we are blessed beyond measure and live a life of unspeakable joy. The hardships no longer take us out, they make us stronger.

Saying Goodbye to 2015

This has been a great year. A wonderful year. A hard year. A year full of change. Isn’t every year just like this? Some more marked by joy than sadness. And some more marked by loss than by love. The constant is the ever moving and happening change around us. Why is it that this change always seems to surprise? To knock me off kilter? To shake me? Maybe it is supposed to.

This year I gained a daughter, became a grandmother and lost my dad. We purchased a second home, a new business, a new car. A friend passed away. We became empty nesters. I had both writing and art published, sold or under contract to be. I took the steps to open a new studio in 2016. We changed A LOT in our businesses. I continue to look forward.

I need to honor my God, my year and myself – by taking a moment to reflect on this year.

What if everything stayed the same? How would we become ourselves? How would we continue?

He who sits on the throne says, “I make ALL things new.”

I think this includes me. He renews me, my mind, my outlook  and my life. Probably you and yours too. I think part of the point is learning to deal with this continual newness. This change.

I am choosing to embrace change. I would love to tell you how gracefully and beautifully I have done this. However, that would be a lie. It’s been incredibly messy, hard, unscheduled and unplanned and simply wonderful. What God has worked out for good (through the hardness and awkwardness) bowls me over!

This is the time of year I choose thankfulness for the blessings of the year, forgiveness for my shortcomings (or complete failures), grace for my mistakes, hope for the future and mercy in each moment. I thank God for all He has done and is continuing to do in me and my family. I thank Jesus for being with me through it all.

I also seek God for a word or theme for my next year. For 2016 I have heard: Be dazzled.

I can’t tell you how this warms my soul! I have been praying for a pure heart. That God would keep wonder alive and fresh for me daily. That Jesus would teach me, guide me, lead me deeper into Him everyday.

And I encourage YOU. Take a moment. Look at the highs and lows of your year. Thank God in all your circumstance. Share your gratitude. Say your goodbyes. Give forgiveness. Welcome the New Year. Ask for a word or theme for 2016 AND embrace it! Stay present. Be intentional. And love one another.

 

 

 

 

 

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Live Better Stories

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Okay, this advice came on the packing paper for a new pair of shoes. And I couldn’t resist adding it to my current art project!

This year I am choosing to live a better story!

After all, one of the best parts of being human is our ability to choose. A better story for me might be stepping more into the abundant life that is always available.

My friend, Jesus, might say, “Life to the full.”

Yes. That’s part of my better story!

I want MORE for Christmas!

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This year I have been thinking a lot about Christmas.

What it means. Why we do what we do (or don’t do). What traditions we follow. How we celebrate. Who we celebrate with.

Even the word: Christmas.

I was driving by a sign the other day and mentally broke the word ‘Christmas’ down.

“Christ” – as in Jesus.

“Mas” – the Spanish word for ‘but’ or with an accent mark above the ‘a’, meaning ‘more.’

 But, Jesus

 Jesus – More

I follow many traditions of man:

Family made.

Created by Western Christianity.

Commercially made.

Not necessarily in that order.

The irony of the truth, that God, in the form of a baby, came to us in a barn (not a church building, or a temple, or a mansion, or a government building or an inn or even a simple home) still boggles my mind.

I ask, “Why?”

Could it be so that one group could not lay claim to the Messiah?

As humans we like to think we know the right way. That our people group, sub culture, culture, religion, like-minded friends, etc… know The way. We can be so small minded.

This year as I give to the poor, share with the less fortunate, buy gifts for friends and family, bake cookies, wrap presents, read the original Christmas story, decorate a Christmas tree, sing carols, enjoy Christmas lights, visit churches  and wear red and green, I can’t help but think there is more. I don’t think these activities are wrong. But there is more.

Shouldn’t everyday be Christmas?

Truly in our hearts and lives, Jesus came that we might have LIFE and Abundant Life – everyday.

ALL the World – not just one sub culture. I am discovering, daily, what that might mean and look like.

Hope Filled, Grace Filled, Joy-Filled, Mercy Filled, Generous, Loving, Overflowing to the whole world… Not perfect, just Life Bringing…

My prayer this year: More Jesus. More of You. Everyday. For everyone.