Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell Surrender...

We are living the last paragraph of this year.
The story of 2013 is ending.
The unexpected awaits and a new story is upon us.

2013 has been a teacher, an enemy, and a friend.

I've learned to pray. I've learned to wait.
I've been told yes and I've been told no.
But mainly, I've learned to watch.

I've learned to watch our great and sovereign God work. I believe He has placed within each of us desires and dreams that can be manifested when we let the spirit of Christ dwell within us. And when we set aside our plans and wait and wonder and watch Him work, our story becomes His story.

I am truly thankful for every family member, friend, and every stranger that was a part of my story this past year.


I know nothing of you yet.
That is thrilling.
That is scary.
But mainly thrilling.


I surrender.
I surrender it all.
To the God who spoke us into existence.
It's all His.
My family. My work. My walk.
I surrender.


You will bring new life.
New relationships.
New experiences.

Shine so bright that the world will stand in awe
of Christ's creation.

I stand surrendered.
Watching and waiting.
A new story is about to be revealed.
Open your new book friends.
Here's to Chapter 1.

Farewell 2013.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Birthday

"Mrs. Noles, before I open up my presents on Christmas morning, I always thank God for sending His son Jesus to the world."

I paused and let those words turn around in my mind before I responded.
A ten year old understood.
He got it.

"What a wonderful thing." I told him.
He went on to speak of presents and how they really don't matter all that much.
He was teaching me. Students have a way of doing that. Teaching the teachers.
If we are listening, that is.

He got me thinking about Christmas morning and what I will teach my little boy about this blessed time of year.
What will it mean to him?
What will his first thought of Christmas be?

This year, considering he is only 18 months, it will probably be, "I'm ready to eat, mom!"

What if we came to Christ first?
What if we sang to him?
What if we read his glorious story aloud in Luke 2?
What if we broke bread, instead of looking to see if Santa ate the cookies we left for him.
What if we just sat and paused and thanked him?

I want my son to experience the Miracle of Jesus and the Magic of Santa.
Jesus Saves.
Santa Gives.

How does your family celebrate the birth of the greatest gift we will ever know?

Our family always baked Jesus a cake and sang to him on Christmas morning.
We had to yell "Christmas Presents" before we got out of bed. A tradition passed down in our family from my great-grandmother.
Mom and Dad would turn on the Christmas music. Get the cameras ready and my brother and I would walk down the hall. That long hall, that lead us to our gifts. Bright lights flashed in our eyes, as they wanted to capture our sleepy, excited faces.
I remember that feeling joy upon the first glance of Santa's gifts to us.

May your Christmas be full of Jesus and Santa, Joy and Peace, and a New Hope.
A hope for what is to come.

Happy Birthday to my Savior.
We have a balloon and cupcakes ready for you tomorrow.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Remembering and Forgetting...

The bread broke.
Thanksgiving spoke.
And he told them to remember.

He first gave thanks to His father, before anything else.
And reminded them to remember Him.

As Christians, we need this reminder everyday.
Every single day we need Jesus and we need to remember His sacrifice.

Why are we prone to forget of His love?
Why do we so often forget that we weren't made for this world?
Why is it we work so hard on earth to attain and maintain, when eternity awaits us
and the kingdom is waiting to be brought down?

As Thanksgiving approaches, may we step into a state of remembering Him.

Seek love and walk in faith.
Discern what is pleasing to Him.
And make melody to the Lord with all your heart.

Every time we remember, we please our Father.

Break your bread.
Give thanks.
And remember Him today.

This I pray for us.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Vista Views

I receive a text last night from my mom that says, "Oh my... Please go to Moody Radio when you have time and listen to Chris Fabry's Broadcast, Open Spaces...WOW. It has a lot to do with places and it's set to music."

I love when people share great sermons, or great music, or great anythings!
And I especially love the beautiful art of combining spoken word and gentle music.

WOW was the perfect description of this broadcast.

What mom didn't know was that the pianist that was featured in the show is one my favorites.
His name is Stanton Lanier. And His new album, Open Spaces, was the background music for the entire show. He shares his music and his story and uses Psalm 119 as meditative scripture to guide you through the words written by David--- the man after God's own heart.

Stanton Lanier Open Spaces Cover

Psalm 119: 44-46
"I will keep your law continually, forever and ever, and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to to shame."

What is your space? Where is your vista view?
God's palette is used every day.
He paints the sky, whether it be gray or pink or blue or orange.
He casts His creation upon us and wants us to experience the vista views of this world.
I believe He does this to unite the Heavenly kingdom with His earth.
But we get to see what we want.

I hope you take time to notice today.

And I hope you can find a space in your day to experience this broadcast and I hope it brings a few "wows" into your day.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Unknown Treasure

I found it at Goodwill.
I liked the handle and the heaviness.
The color and the feel of it in my hands.

It was .59 cents

After a year, I finally decided to turn it over and see who made it.

Aletha Soule."Cool name," I thought.
I googled.
"What?" This mug, this beautiful piece of pottery I found for less than $1.00 was really worth $40.00 and was made by a passionate potter who worked from Soule Studio in California?

For the past year I had sipped my coffee from unknown treasure that had been carefully formed and created on the other side of the country. I didn't know because I hadn't looked.

I have a feeling we all have something or maybe someone in our lives that is like my mug.
My unknown treasure.
Maybe it's an antique that's been in your family that your grandma gave to you, but you never heard the story of its being?
Maybe it's a new friend who's story you haven't heard yet?
Or maybe it's more than that?

Maybe there is buried deep within our souls an abundance of treasures that are ready and waiting to be found? Treasures that have been there for years, but you just haven't looked within. You just haven't turned over your mug.

I'm praying for you. Right now in the corner chair in my room.
I'm praying you discover of unknown treasure.
Maybe in yourself? In someone elses? Or maybe on the bottom of a $1.00 mug?

It's waiting for you to see.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Every moment is a movement...

"Every place the sole of your foot treads is  yours. Occupy each place until I come and fill the earth with the knowledge of my Glory."

Moments are movements.
They are tiny experiences, given to us as gifts to experience from one to the next, in order to unite the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth.

Your first sip of coffee this morning, is a moment that will move you out the door.
Your quiet time with Christ, is a moment that will move you in the direction of His calling.
Moments are everywhere and they are waiting for you to notice them.
They are gifts waiting to be unwrapped.

Below is a story poem that I wrote this past summer while on the beach, called Old Shoe, New Shoe.
This is a story about perspective. It's about two shoes and the conversation they share about living life. Coming from two walks of life, one nearing the end of his journey, and the other, just beginning his, they both teach each other to find the satisfaction in where they are.

There once we two shoes, one old and one new. Both had doubt in the soles of their shoes. The old had lost his partner, many years ago. The new shoe had a mate that was on the shelf below.

“I’m worn out, scuffed, unwanted, and used, no one needs me,” said the old shoe to the new.

“That’s not true, said the shoe that was new. You have memories and stories in the soles of your shoes."

“You have a history, you know where you’ve been. Be proud of those wrinkles you have on your skin.”

“You stand as a reminder to one and to all to see your road through even after you fall.”

“I’m the one with worries,” said the new to the old. I have no idea where I’m going and what these soles will hold.”

“What if my roads are winding and long and my soles wear out early and my laces aren’t strong?”

Do you have any wisdom before I step out?
Something to help the fear and the doubt?
Something to be my stepping stone?
Something you’ve learned?
Something life’s shown?

The old shoe paused and looked down at his laces. He thought about time and all of the places. The places and spaces that his soles had been. Then he stopped and smiled at the wrinkles on his skin.

“You’re very first step is out of the door, so tie up those laces and go out in the world.”

“Every step matters, because every step leads, so keep walking, keep trying, and just do the next thing.”

“Don’t turn back, whatever you do. Keep the faith in the soles of your shoes.”

“If you step in a hole, step right back out. Holes teach us lessons and set us about.”

“Horizontal or vertical, whatever the view, keep walking, keep learning, and see your road through.”

Here’s the lesson from the shoes to you.

Keep walking.
Keep learning.
And see your road through.

 Remember you are treading on His ground today.
Ground that is Holy and in need of His glory.
Enjoy every moment and movement.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

When God says Go...

Art is happening.

We are making it.
And we are living it.

It's a force that can not be reckoned with.
It's unstoppable.

we will make art
Emily Freeman's book, A Million Little Ways, is breaking apart more pieces of my heart and making more space for God to do His work.

And what I've learned most about brokenness... is that it makes way for space.
Space to renovate and be restored with strength.
And strength that sparks growth.

And when growth begins, God is saying "Go."
"Go and make disciples."
"Go and sin no more."
"Go and make art."

And that we will.
We will make art.

This picture was taken early this morning as I was on my way to a local craft fair. The moment called out my name and said, "Now. Right now, you need to take a picture."

I am so thankful for this moment and the gift it brought.
I was only hoping to capture the beauty of the fog seeping through the bare, leafless trees.
I was only hoping to capture the bit of sunlight the fog was letting by.

Instead I captured them all and a little green light at the bottom.
A green light that reminded me to GO and make art.

Let's go together friends.
Let's let God pour out of us and use us for His heavenly plan.
Let's watch His masterpiece move.

Now GO get Emily's Book and be ready for the blessings to flow.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Reading the end of the story...

Yesterday I tried something new with some of my readers at school.

Instead of our normal "let's read a book" routine, I decided to begin with the end of the story.

So we turned to the back of the book and I told the students we would read "knowing" the outcome, and look for all the details leading up to the ending.

They loved it.
They were engaged.
And they looked a little closer.

As a blogger, I tend to look for stories within stories.
I look for a deeper meaning. A takeaway from an experience.

After reading the book backwards, I couldn't help but think about our lives in Christ.

I thought about His life and how he knew the outcome.
He knew His death was the only way. The only way to save us from our own selves and the sin of the world. I wonder what that felt like.

We will never know the outcome of a day.
Only our Father who art in heaven knows our ending.

May we live today within His grace and love.
May we show the world his Glory.
And live with an eternal purpose.
Because we do know there is place He is preparing.
A place for us to land.
His home. In heaven.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Art Isn't Ours.

"I don't believe there is one great thing I was made to do in this world. I believe there is one great God I was made to glorify. And there will be many ways, even a million little ways, I will declare his glory with my life." - Emily Freeman

Isn't this profound?
Because it seems like so many of us are looking.
We are looking and searching for one great thing.
One thing that makes us feel defined and purposeful.
One thing that props us up and sets us apart.
Because we want to matter.

But what if the pursuit of that one great thing, is getting in the way of the One great God who has a million things for us to do while here on His earth?

His earth.
We sometimes forget that don't we.

We forget that the creator God blew this place into being.
And he formed us from dust.
And created us to live His glory out on the world's stage.

But the more we step up to the platform. The higher we exalt our own selves.
Our purpose. Our desires. Our art.

Our purpose, desires and art aren't ours.
They belong to our creator, and flow out from us.

Take a step down and lay yourself low today.
Look up and let God move through your hands and feet, your heart and your mind.
Look inside and find your art you were meant to live today.

It's there, because He's there.
And the world needs to see His glory through you.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Art of Words

"If our words paint a picture, what does our canvas look like?"

My dad texted me this quote last night.
And I loved it.

Words heal and hurt.
Comfort and Critique
Lift us up and lay us low.

Words are powerful.
And the Bible teaches us time and time again about the power our words.

1. Proverbs 18:21- Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
2. Matthew 15:18- But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart that defiles a person.
3. Proverbs 16:24- Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

And the list goes on and on.

For every word, we paint a stroke.
And word by word and stroke by stroke our art is layed out for the world to see.

Every story told, tells the story of the heart.
And each canvas reveals our character.

May you paint the most beautiful canvas today.
Word by word.
Stroke by stroke.

Your canvas is clean.
And needs a little paint.
Let your first and your last stroke reveal the art in your heart.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 17~ When the happy runs out...

A new journal.
And a 2nd cup of coffee.

A few of many life's pleasures that bring about happiness.
A temporary, not forever, momentary happiness.

Coffee cups empty.
Journals get filled.
Blankets eventually wear.
And yes, that 2nd cup of coffee ends too.

So what happens when the happy runs out?
What happens when the things of this world are gone and we are left with only ourselves?

Yesterday I heard a sermon about happiness and its fleeting appearances.
Louie Giglio shared a story about a friend who loves coke.
And every time he saw his friend, he had a coke in his hand.

But he reminded us, that every coke bottle, just like coffee will come to an end.

There are only a few things in the life that are constant.
One being God's love.
Another being the art he has placed inside you.

The two are always there.
Awaiting still.
Ready to be poured out.

Find that joy in God and art today and dwell in the joy that both can bring.

How will you use your God today?
How will you use your art God gave you?

Go be a blessing and paint the world with grace and love.
And when your happy runs out...
Jump for joy and share the light.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 16~ Art Aliens

"Welcome to Flower World."

That's what she would say to you upon entering her studio.

Isn't that cool? Isn't that unique?
And the reason she would say that to you, is because this girl makes the MOST beautiful flower paintings I have ever soon.

Her name is Lullie Wallace.
And her studio is in downtown Charleston.
Have you heard of her?
If not, go check out her work at http://

I recently read an interview with Lulie and this is what the writer had to say...

"Last week I spent a morning with Lulie in her studio and chatted about lattes, painting, letterpress, and everything else under the sun. To say that this girl is inspiring is just not enough. Lulie's the kind of girl who sticks with you long after you leave her side... kind of like her art. And like her, the longer you look at her colorful pieces, the more you find to love."

Wow! What a compliment. 
"She sticks with you long after you leave her side."
And in reference to her art...
"the more you look, the more you love."

I wanted to know more about this artist. So I read her bio on her webpage...

In my life, I find myself attracted to the aliens around me. These aliens are not the kind that travel to earth in UFOs, but are the objects that, at first glance, appear to be everyday objects, but upon a closer look, are distinguished by uniqueness and character. If I am purchasing something that is going to be a part of my everyday life, I seem to gravitate towards furniture, clothing, jewelry, and art that have a bit of an alien quality to them. They look as though they’ve been plucked from somewhere else, but feel at home in my life.
My aliens take form in a lime green tabletop, a magenta shadow, or in vibrant teal greenery. A painting of flowers in a vase is an obvious subject matter to most collectors or observers, but what I want my art to achieve through color, shape, and texture is the balance of uniqueness, character, and honest materiality.

Hmmmm. Aliens.
I've never thought of art in that form.
But it's so true. 
I too have certain objects, designs, and patterns that attract me and somehow take up residence inside me and need to come back out in my own creative way.
And that's exactly what art is meant to do. 
It's meant to pour into you and pour back out of you in your unique and honest way.

Just like Christ, right?
He pours in and back out again.

Today, I challenge you to pay attention to your artistic aliens.
Look closer.
Look again.
And again.

Take a moment and listen to Lulie talk about her collaboration with Katherine and Jay of Hope Heals. They have a POWERFUL story. I love her mention of Christ. I love when artists bring their gifts back to Him. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 15~ The Art of Love and War

In Your justice and Your mercy
Heaven walked the broken road
Here to fight this sinner's battle
Here to make my fall your own
-Hillsong United "Love is War"

What is your war?

We all have one or two or eight going on inside of us.

And the way we wage the war inside can be one composed of love and art and beauty.
Yet there lies another side to spectrum. That being hate and destruction and sin.

In The Art of War by Sun Tzu, he writes of musical notes, and primary colours, and tastes. Each of which we have five and when combined make the most beautiful of art. 

Five musical notes give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.
Five primary colours produce more hues than can ever be seen.
Five cardinal tastes yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.

What melodies, colours, and tastes will your life experience today?
Will you be ready to receive?

May we attack our waging war inside with the art our heart holds.
Wars can be fought with paint, and books, and music, and words.

What is your war and how are you combing your struggle with your opportunities?
Seek to know your war.
And seek to know your art.

And may you combine the beauty inside with that of your war.
And watch, just watch that war fade with every attack you make with your art.
God's art that he knit together before you were born.

Until next time- 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 14~ Children are the best artists.

When was the last time you picked a dandelion and gave it to someone?

Isn't it funny how dandelions are rare and precious and perfect to children?
They blow their seeds and make wishes in the spring and then pick their
yellow faces in the fall and give them to their teachers.

When did we stop picking them to share with others?
Was it when we found out they were just weeds and got in the way of pretty lawns and perfect grass?

Children view our world so differently than we do.
They see.
They hear.
They experience.

Leaves become people
Sand makes castles.
Dirt doesn't hurt.
And blowing bubbles is beautiful.

Being an educator is a gift. It is a blessing to watch children learn and create.
And one of THE BEST parts of my job is watching children illustrate their writing.

I usually turn on music, sometimes I let them pick. And I just watch in awe as they create.
No pretenses. No perfection. No rules.

It's refreshing.

Sometimes, I myself, try to draw like a kid.
It doesn't work.
Because somewhere between being little and becoming big, I learned about perfect circles, and perfect squares. And I got caught up in making the perfect star to place on top of the perfect Christmas tree.

We pay money for fine art, for perfect lines and perfect strokes.
We graze in galleries and admire the work of the worlds finest.

But no matter what I see.
Children will always be my favorite artists.

They inspire my art.
My thinking.
And my teaching.

Until tomorrow,


Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 13~ The Art of Unity

What was on the top of your to-do list today?

Grocery shopping?
Cleaning the house?

Have you ever made a list of all the moments you could remember in a day, as you experience them?

I've done the journaling thing.
And I've done the grateful list thing.
But today, I just wrote down experiences.
And I did so, with the intention of somehow finding unity within each of these moments.

I'd like to begin with my favorite words I heard spoken from the mouth of an eight year old, that gave me a sense of peace and hope for our future generation.

She said, "My mom and dad had their anniversary this weekend."
When the words spilled from her mouth, my heart rejoiced in the knowing that her parents were still together. Still loving and living and sharing moments with her under one roof. Seems rare these days.

The other parts of my day went a little something like this...

"Jesus in Disguise" played on the radio.
I read Ephesians 2:10
I listened to a sermon by Louie Giglio about the greatness of our God.
He also taught me about the large star named Lucy, that is solid diamond.
I was challenged to go beyond the call.
I read a poem about ants with a child.
I read a poem about a wise old owl to each of my students today.
I read an article about multiple intelligences and learning styles.
I read about kids who are slow processors.
I received a sweet quote from a friend on facebook about being an artist.
I spent the evening with my family and with friends, laughing and sharing about our faith.
I am in the quiet of my home, reflecting and have no voice left. And my throat aches.

So what's the connection.
Where's the unity in all this.
Every bit of today relates back to the scripture.

Ephesians 2:10- For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Every piece of today was part of better understanding Him, understanding others, and understanding the world.
I read, listened, read some more, listened, and now here I sit.
Wondering if I payed enough attention? Or missed a slice of something?

There is unity friends in all we do and say.
The truth of His word will always unify.
You are a masterpiece and when we walk with the artist of life, he pours through us and we become the paint, the beauty of the world.

Find unity.
Seek connection.
Hide away from your fears
you'll find more art in your heart.

Until tomorrow,


Day 12~ Random Acts of Art

To be random is to be odd, unusual, or unexpected. To act is to take action and do something.

And art is the expression of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form, producing words to be appreciated primarily for their beauty of emotional power.

So let's be random this week.
Let act and make art.
And let's share it.

Because isn't art meant for the world?
Isn't it meant to be shared- once soul to another?
Isn't art a dance with our spirit?

Join me this week in sharing Random Acts of Art.

Here's what you do!

First, create something.
Paint it. Sculpt it. Sketch it. Cook it. Frame it.
You decide.

Then, attach a simple card or note to the back of it, explaining that this is a random act of art and all they need to do next is share another piece of their art randomly with the world.

Maybe you want to include a favorite scripture to go along with your creation.
Like, Ephesians 2:10- “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Lastly, share it. Leave it with a cashier at a coffee house and tell her to share it with the next customer. Leave it on a park bench. In a library. Or in your mailbox. Or send it in the mail to a friend or family member.

Whatever you do, be brave.
And let your art reflect who God made you to be.

Have a blessed Monday friends.

~Until tomorrow


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 11~ I Am an Artist (A lesson from the sidewalk)

Have you ever been looking for something and instead, found something else. And in a moment that thing you were looking for, the thing you thought mattered, didn't matter so much?

It all started with a yellow construction hat. 
How hard could it be to find a toddler construction hat to complete my son's Halloween Costume?

I searched online.
Went to Party City.
Went to Halloween Express.
Even searched the pet costumes.


My last hope was The Dollar Tree.

I was tired of looking and ready to be home.
As I neared the entrance, my eyes caught sight of a man.
A tired, weary man, crumbled in the corner of the two buildings.
A homeless man.

I walked through the doors and suddenly my search shifted to the far corner of my mind and that man, that tired weary man, mattered more than a costume.

I quickly glanced in the kids section for the hat. Nothing.
I stepped outside, glanced again at the man, and walked back to the car.

I jumped in and told my husband we had to do something.
We drove around a bit, contemplating, wondering what to do, what God wanted us to do.

Daniel  parked the car and we decided he would go talk to him. I watched my kind and caring husband step toward the man and greet him. I love how Daniel loves others. That's why I married him.

Within a minute, I saw Daniel turn and head back into the Dollar Tree. I could not watch anymore. I grabbed Weston from his seat and we ventured back into the store as well, without a thought of the hard hat. 

I found Daniel as he was looking for a flashlight. 
"The man just asked for a flashlight," he said. 

Just a light. Was all he asked for.
The verse from Psalms popped in my mind.
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

We ended up buying him a Bible and a Dr. Pepper to accompany his flashlight.

I noticed the man leave the corner and walk to the front of the store. He looked a bit disoriented and confused. Maybe under the influence?

We walked out and again greeted him. 

I looked at him.
I looked directly at his eyes. 
And behind his worn skin and matted hair and dirty clothes and toothless smile, were the most beautiful blue eyes. 

They were the bluest of blue. And I was locked into them. 
And for the first time, I looked into the soul of this man and felt like I was looking into the eyes of Jesus somehow.

Daniel asked if we could pray with him and he said yes. "But before you pray for me, can I tell you what I need?" "Sure," we both said.

"Pray that I can find a job."

So we did.

We prayed on the sidewalk in Gastonia that this man would find a job. 

Afterwards, I asked him what kind of job he wanted. 

"I want to paint." he said. 

"As in houses?" I probed. 

"Yes, inside and out."
"So you are an artist then, huh?" I said with a smile.

"Yes, yes I am an artist."

"I used to paint houses professionally. I was really good."

I believed him.

I asked him if he ever read this Bible?

"Yes, I have." 

I told him to spend some time in the Psalms and he said he would.

I walked back to the car. 
Heart beating out loud.
Tears flowing.
Mind open.
Spirit full.

That man. The man I almost ignored. 
Declared himself an artist.
And he's right. He is. He still is.

And you are too.
Will you please join our family in praying for this man.
Pray he finds a job painting.
So he can give back the art God placed in his heart. 

He is an artist.
I am an artist.
And you, yes you are an artist.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 10~ The Art of Kindness (and lack-thereof)

I thought it was really cool that Starbucks got involved in an effort to help encourage their customers to pay "it" forward. I heard about it on the radio and according to the CEO, he wanted to "show" congress and the government how this idea of passing along kindness and generosity is better than posturing and arguing.

It started Wednesday and ended today.

For two weeks I have had two Starbucks gift cards in my wallet and after I heard about this effort, I thought I would use my cards to purchase myself and someone else a coffee.

My experience was far from extraordinary. Not inspiring whatsoever.
It was downright horrible. Yet still a learning experience.
The polar opposite of what I hoped to be moving.
And all I wanted was to be back in one of my favorite local Coffee houses (SPLAT! or Queen Bee, or Caravan).

But I was there. In that moment. In Starbucks.

I greeted the cashier with a smile. No return was made (That's okay, maybe a bad day or something)

I asked her about the kindness effort and she said, "sorry it ended today." ( I thought, well today is still today last time I checked. ) Yep, my inner sarcastic voice started talking.

I asked her how the effort had been going and she said she knew nothing of it until yesterday and had no idea how it went. ( Ok, so maybe she was busy with other things.")

Then, I asked her if the new Chocolate Chai Latte was good. She said she didn't like it all because it tasted like chocolate and gingerbread. And she HATED chocolate and gingerbread. (That's fair--- not everyone is a chai fan, but this girl LOVES it).

I ordered it anyway.
I'm not so sure she liked that.

Thus began the wait as the chai was made by the anti-chai barista.

I watched her. I prayed for her. I watched the way she interacted with the other barista. Not too nice.

I started thinking  of how I could pass something on so she can see kindness in front of her face.

I reached into my wallet and got out the other gift card and asked her to give it to the next customer.
She said, "thanks." ( notice I did not use an exclamation point)

The next customer steps up. She must have known him. They smiled. Threw happy exchanges back and forth. Discussed how it is time for flannel. That did make me smile, because I was wearing it myself.

But the gift card didn't move. I watched the customer swipe his card. And the act of kindness laid there quietly beside her on the counter.

Maybe it was used after I left. Maybe not. I will never know. But I'm still praying for that girl. I'm praying for someone to show her kindness and for her to feel it and know it and want to share it.

I have been to plenty of Starbucks' where the workers are kind and wonderful and happy.
But on this particular day, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth that no Chai tea could cover.

So what's the point in this experience?
Well, here's my takeway.

1. Kindness doesn't need a date. Make it a point everyday-- not just when a company declares it.
2. Almost always, local is better! Which is why I will continue to be loyal to the locals.
3. Pray for people who don't share in the kindness you show.
4. Order a Chocolate Chai, even if the Barista hates it.

Yesterday, I stopped by Splat! on my way to work, and one of my favorite Barista's asked me if I had ever heard of Amy Carmichael. I wasn't sure. She went on to tell me of her mission work and her dedication to serving the homeless. I love learning. I love local coffee. And I love how Jesus teaches me things everywhere I go, even in Starbucks.

I will leave you with a quote from Amy Carmichael.

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” 
 Amy Carmichael

Pass some love tomorrow friends and find some art in your heart.

Until tomorrow,


Day 9~ Forgetting and Remembering

Life is but a cycle of forgetting and remembering.

We forget to pick up the milk at the grocery store, but we remember to get a card to encourage a friend.
We forget the answer to number ten on a test, but remember the rest.
We forget about the love of Christ, but we remember to love our family.

Life is but a cycle of forgetting and remembering.

Have you forgotten about the artist you were as a child?
The artist who used crayons and glue, and paste.
(Do they even make paste anymore?)
The artist who spent days in coloring books.
The artist who thought nothing scary of a blank canvas.

Please remember.
Remember the freedom you felt when you created as a child.
Remember the messes you made and didn't care.
Remember who you were before people started telling you who you were.

Who were you?
Who are you?

Take a little time today and remember what art meant to you and what it means to you.

Note the differences.
Remember what matters
And forget what doesn't.

How should one proceed if troubled by memories which one knows ought to be dismissed from the mind but which obsessively haunt it? Keep away from every place likely, by association, to revive unhappy memories. Besides thus weakening the chain of associations that would help to hold miseries in remembrance. Make it a point to develop an entirely different chain- and go with it with enthusiasm. - H. Addington Bruce

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 8~ The Art of Prayerfully Serving

He said he was too young.
Too afraid to speak.
And not qualified for the job.

Service and prayer was his art.

He was persecuted by his own family.
He was plotted against by the people of his hometown.
He was rejected and reviled by friends in the religious world.

Service and prayer was his art.

He brought light to his city, during the darkest of times.
He was the weeping prophet.
He was Jeremiah.

You are not too young.
Or old for that matter to serve.
And yes, you are not qualified.
Most aren't.
Qualifications are not a requirement.
They are found when the service is started and finished.

Prayerfully serving means placing priority to connect first with the Father.
He exalts those who come to him. To those who cry out for wisdom and knowledge.
He is the provider.
We are the acceptors.

To whom will you serve today?
Where will your feet tread?
And what will your eyes behold?
How will your ears hear?

May you experience the beautiful art of serving prayerfully in as many moments as possible.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 7~ The Art of Doodling

Do you doodle?

I started as a kid, and haven't stopped.
I doodle on notebooks and napkins, on folders and frames.

Doodling is freeing for me.
Something I don't have to think about.
Whatever happens, happens.
No details.
And definitely no perfection.

And isn't the word "doodle" in itself an exceptionally remarkable word?
I think so.

To doodle is to dream, to think beyond lines, to get away with whatever you want to get away with.
Doodling is therefore, doable by any one willing to do it!

For fun facts about the art of doodling, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doodle

Do a little doodle tonight.

Until tomorrow,

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 6~ Art in Communion

Bells sounded.
Psalms spoke.
Children gathered.
Gospels read.
Plates passed.
Bread broke.
Cups overflowed.

And a small light from above reflected into my cup.
My cup that held the blood that was sacrificed so I could live.
I stared closely, in thanksgiving and admiration.
Because the filler of the cup, is the filler of the soul, and for all that flows from the heart.

It was beautiful, to be holding truth in clenched hands, with lights shining down and loved ones near.
All partaking in their own way, their own artful way.

How we take in moments such as these, tell us so much about ourselves as artists.
The narrative I repeat and the narrative I hear, differ vastly from my neighbor nearby, sitting in the same room, experiencing the same moment in time.

Today was World Communion Sunday.
How beautiful this day must have been to our heavenly Father.
To see his creation, worshipping and remembering.
Worshipping the greatest name we'll ever know.
And remembering the greatest sacrifice there ever was.

What made today even more beautiful was the sermon.
The sermon that wasn't planned, but given.
The sermon that didn't match the one printed in the bulletin.
The sermon that reminded our congregation of God's greatest commandment.

To love the Lord our God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And to love your neighbor as yourself.

He changed the main course of the table today, and we feasted on this great commandment that is so beautiful to say, but so hard to live out.

No paint was needed.
Brushes were unnecessary.
But a canvas was painted in my heart as I took in communion and watched the Holy Spirit dwell among the souls in our church. 

Did you have an experience like this today?
Something so beautiful, so memorable, so art-filled?

Praying you did.
Or you will.

Until tomorrow,


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 5~ Art Challenge

Today's post is short and sweet.
It is simply a challenge to you, the reader...

Make something and then share it with someone you love.

Art is meant to be shared.
Our creator shared each of his brushstrokes with us.
He gave us light and breath, and soul.

When we share what we make with others, we are inviting them to drink from the communion cup of Christ.

In revealing, there is revelation.

Take time to reveal yourself to someone else.
Simply show them the art you have in your heart.

Until Tomorrow~


Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4~ Heart Break

Do you remember your first heart break?

That immature love, that wasn't really love, but you were convinced it was because your heart said so. The person you penned a heart around in your class yearbook and wrote love letters to in Biology lab?

Yeah, that one.

Maybe your heart broke a little or maybe it broke a lot.
Maybe it felt like a crack or even a whole.
Even still, it hurt.

And then you got over it,right?
I thank the good Lord for allowing heart break to happen.

Our hearts were made to break.
At times in our lives we face this temporary brokenness.
But what we don't see is that our hearts are being reshaped to be ready for what God has planned.

So what happens when our hearts are cracked and life seems empty?

Sometimes we start filling those cracks with grout.
We fill it with unhealthy relationships, sin and destructive lifestyles.
And pretty soon our hearts are all sealed up and cold.

What if those cracks were meant for art?
For you to fill up with what is already in you?
The parts of you, you have forgotten.

Think about your story and what parts of your story caused heart break.

Maybe you're ready for a filling.
Maybe you need to color again.
Or paint.
Or sing.
Or dance.

I hope you're getting there.
I hope you're thinking differently about what kind of artist you are.
Because you are.

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3 ~Heartburn

And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:32, NKJV

60 million people suffer from heartburn.
And the interesting thing about heartburn is that it's not an issue of the heart.
It's an issue of the digestive system.
But those who have experienced it, know that feeling. And it truly feels like a burning sensation of the heart.

But there is another kind of burning.
A holy kind of heartburn.
The kind that stirs you
and moves you and sometimes shakes you up.

What if all of us burned for what we believe in and let the heart burn happen?

Today I saw God in so many seconds.
I saw him this morning on my porch as the sky shifted from hues of pink to orange in minutes.
I saw him in a conversation with a teacher about a student who "just needs to move" to learn.
I saw him in my studio.

Oh, was he there.

I asked my artists, "If in this moment, they could paint anything on canvas, what would it be?"

My favorite response was this...

"I would paint my feelings."
"You know, like you can use certain colors to paint how you are feeling."

And from there... we conversed about how colors made us feel.

I love kid artists. Maybe because I still feel like one.

But she gets it.
She understands color, and beauty, and feelings.
Matters of the heart.

What would you paint right now, if you could?
Whatever that is, should tell you something about your heart.

So now what?
Are you ready to paint the art in your heart?
I dare you to move.
I dare you to dream.
I dare to let your heart burn today.
And tomorrow
and the next.

Until tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2~ What is your Art?

I've always loved the fact that so many words can be found inside the word, "heart".


As a literacy teacher, I'm always asking my students to seek out patterns within words.
Last week I was working with a group of second graders and we were coming up with words that ending with -art. One student said "heart." I stopped briefly and shared with them the words found within heart.As I wrote them down, the Holy spirit whispered...

"He who hears with the ear, will find the art in the heart."
I said it aloud to my students. They said, "hey, that's cool."
They probably didn't understand the meaning, but maybe a seed was planted.

So tonight, as your friend, I'm asking you to seek out the patterns in your own heart.
Because what the heart knows by heart, the heart knows.
And when we know who we are and what's inside us, we find an outpouring of creative gifts to share with the world.

What did you hear today?

I heard busses traveling, crayons coloring, students reading, airplanes flying, music blaring, and my son breathing. Just to name a few.

All beautiful music played by the lives of other human beings.

My art is music. My art is encouragement. My art is loving and listening. My art is creatively connecting with the human heart and leaving my signature everywhere I go.

What's your art?

Dwell on what art is to you and what you want it to be.
Dwell on your gifts, your passions, and your talents.
Are you using them?

I'm praying for you and I'm praying the next 31 days will transform the condition of your heart as we make space for what matters.

Walk into tomorrow remembering this thought...

"The quickest way we can make our lives better is to make time for the things we love because, when we are doing what we love, we are serving the world in a way we were designed to."

Take your heart to work with you, if you work.
Keep your heart at home, if you stay home.
Whatever you do, pay attention, close attention.
Glimpses of God are given daily.
Listen and look.
Seek and find.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 Days to Finding the Art in your Heart


We've all got it.

It's there.

Waiting in our hearts.
Ready for flight.

And for the next 31 days, I'll be linking up with The Nester for 31 Days of 2013

My topic is "Finding the Art in your Heart." Thousands of bloggers from all over will be participating and I would love for you to join in the discovering  of what kind of artist you are. I am so happy to be partnering with my dear friend, Lizzie Branch. She and I met at She Speaks this summer and I am so excited for her new adventure, as she opens up her studio in Clayton, NC! We decided to make this a collaborative effort, so we will both be writing on the same topic. We know God will use our writing to connect us to one another and with YOU!

Neither of us has a plan.
We don't know what will come of our writing.
We just know God moves when people gather.
So will you gather with us, daily?

We need communion.
We need connection.
We need creativity.

Welcome October.
Our hearts are open.

Today, my friend, Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky released her book, A Million Little Ways. I can not wait to get my  heart in this book SOON, as I know it will serve as a guidebook this month.

Take some time to check out her book trailer. Her words are like food for the soul.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

her life...

Her life has always been beautiful.

I met her when I was 10.

She and I share so many sweet memories.

I've watched her grow...from infant, to toddler, to a young lady, and now a beautiful woman.

Her life is a living example, a testimony, and a song sung back to the Saviour.

And now she is nearing the end of her college journey and stepping out into a greater world. I can not wait to see where God places her.

So to my friend, Claire Cottrill, this is my prayer for you.

Praying for peace as you tend to the rest of this year.
Praying for grace to greet you upon each day.
Praying for discernment to meet you in each decision you make.
Praying for your faith and for God to do great things in your life.

I am amazed at how you have lived your life and I feel blessed to call you friend.

Who is your her?
Or him?

Tell them today.
They need to hear it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What do you believe our hearts hold?

Question for the day...

What does your heart hold?

Before we answer this let's first talk about the heart as organ. The living, beating, pump we have stored within each of us.

Our hearts hold arteries, veins, ventricles, an aorta, atriums, a brevis and an apex.

Although all of these parts work together, they are also divided into four chambers.

The heart dwells as a divided organ.

When did your heart start beating?

Mine started sometime in November of 1982.
Isn't it amazing to think that our hearts begin beating only 21 days after conception?
And from that day forward, our hearts beat with every moment that passes.

All of what you just read is factual. We know much about the human heart scientifically.

But what do we know of the parts of the heart that are invisible and mysterious and real?

What else dwells there?

For me, my heart is packed, yet open. It gets broken and put back together, again and again.
It is where I hope, I dream, I desire.

For me, my heart is where Christ resides.
And if Christ dwells there, it is my job to keep it as clean, pure, and holy as possible.

This of course, involves the renewing of the mind.
I have read many articles about the heart and mind and how closely they communicate.
And I believe when your mind is renewed, the heart renews itself.

In order for my heart to be a dwelling place for Christ, I have to purify my thought life.
My mind, where my soul resides, is a battlefield.
And if I'm not fighting that battle, then the world wins every time.

When I set my mind on things above, my heart has more space for Christ.

What does your heart hold?

Think about your dwelling place.
Think about what lives inside you.

Make space to breathe in Christ's love and grace tonight friends.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Words we say matter...

Being featured on someone else's blog is always humbling.
Because when someone writes about an experience with you, it is personal and it deep and it reminds you of God's faithfulness.

This summer, as some of you know, I attended a conference called, She Speaks.
This conference changed me as a writer. I found a deeper connection with God and found a new voice I hadn't heard.

I met so many friends, just in a day. I connected with writers who shared the desires of my heart and mind. Conversations were easy and meaningful and authentic.

I met a friend.
Our souls connected.
And we both knew God intended our lives to intersect.

Yesterday she wrote about her experience and how one comment I made to her, changed her.
I didn't know what would happen after that conference and she didn't either.
But God knew.

Please bounce over to her page
and read about this awesome experience.

Speak life into someone today.
You never know how what you say could change their life.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Every moment is but a new beginning...

Alarm clock sounds. A new day.

Coffee perks. A new pot.

Showers rain down. A new cleansing.

Scripture read. A new understanding.

Every single moment of our lives is but an ending and a new beginning.

That's comforting isn't it?
Knowing that what is in the here and now, won't be forever.
some moments we cling tightly to. Feeling and knowing God is a gift and we bask in those times.
other moments we can't wait to be free from what is facing us. Breathing and living are hard and we feel paralyzed.

Whether good or bad, every single moment is an ending and new beginning.

Chance after chance we have a choice to set God's kingdom in motion here on earth.

And if every moment is a new beginning, then grace covers those moments when we feel shame and remorse.
Grace covers moments when sin remained in us.
Grace covers moments when we can't see, hear, or taste the Father.

Lord, we come humbly before you.
Praying that earthly moments can and will be used for eternal moments.
We pray that in the moments ahead we can remember Micah 6:8, and 1 Peter 1:13, and Colossians 3:23, and Roman 12:2.
Because when we seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, moments slow and we see what matters.
Because when we prepare our minds for action, moments are intentional and filled with grace and love.
Because when we remember you in all our words and deeds, you're greater good is found in these moments.
Because when we pray for renewal of mind, we can be on guard for each moment ahead.

Thank you Lord for each moment.
Thank you Lord for preparing an eternal Heaven, which will be filled with perfect moments, perfect love and intimacy with you.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

We know who holds tomorrow.

We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we do know who holds tomorrow.

We don't know what joys will come or what sorrows will fall, but we know who holds tomorrow.

We don't know if we will sing or shout or scream, but we know who holds tomorrow.

We don't know whose hand will need held or if or hand will be in need of the holding, but we know who holds tomorrow.

We don't know what will happen from sun up to sun down.
But we can know...

We can know, because we know of the faithfulness, the joy, and truth that our Father promises with each new day.

We can know He is watching and is waiting for us to hold His hand.

We can know He is God.

So be still tonight. Remember who holds tomorrow. Remember who holds your hand.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

When you watch learning, real learning...

One thing I love about my studio is watching authentic learning take root in my students. From there I watch ideas grow and do my best to water their ideas with that I have learned about teaching. But mainly, I believe they know how to grow, they just need belief. They need encouragement. They need love. Because when they are learning about what they want to learn, what God built inside them to carry out, amazing and beautiful things overflow.

I've seen it over and over again with one of my students. He is an idea machine. Constantly using his creativity to fuel his work. I love being a part of the growing of his mind, and offering my part of it as well. I know he will go far in life.

This particular student loves drawing the "Life is Good" stick guy, but he made his own little stick figure. His looks different. It's unique. Just like him.
He knows the value of putting your own spin, on another's ideas.

After seeing him use this stick figure in so many of his illustrations, we decided to read up on the background story of the Life is Good guys.

We researched. Printed Articles. Highlighted interesting facts. But in all the research, we mainly discovered the guys behind the t-shirts were just regular guys who lived out a van for awhile, selling
 t-shirts door to door. What made them achieve was their momentum. They didn't stop learning and growing. That's real learning.

He wrote about what he learned.
He made another sketch of his stick guy version.
And today...
He made this tshirt.

I love it.
I want one.

He was proud of His work.
And I was blessed to watch the life cycle of this simple stick figure.
The life cycle of learning.
Real learning.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Days Matter...

Today, our not-so-little boy started preschool. A new beginning.
Today, his parents waved goodbye. A new goodbye.

What a blessing to watch the first day unfold. And an even greater blessing knowing he is in good, God loving hands.

One little step today, paved the way for many more, as this not-so-little boy walked into a new world. A world of play, and fun, and friends. 

We strapped his backpack on and gave him a red apple, a gift for Mrs. Kim, his teacher.
Our not-so little boy, wanted to test out the apple and make sure it was ripe enough for his new teacher.
Mrs. Kim did not get an apple today. Ha.

These boys, oh these boys. They are precious. And their daddies, they watch them so closely. Their daddies will pave the way, showing the boys how to be men. Men of integrity, of faith, of God.

We walked into this new beginning with old friends. Friends who have always been there. Friends you know God placed in your life on purpose. Walking in with familiarity, makes a heart beat slow a bit.
We felt that today. Together.

The classroom door was closed. A few children had arrived. We walked through it with them. Together.

His teacher- so loving, so kind, so perfect for my son. A gift she is. With her help, he will grow.
His friends- 6 boys and 2 girls, some old friends and some new. Together, they will grow.

We watched them as parents, not teachers. Being on the other side of it, when you are the one walking away and leaving. It's a different feeling. A good feeling. A feeling that is unforgettable.

We walked away tearless. We were okay.
We slowly turned the corner. 
Reminiscing began. 
"How do they grow so fast?"
"This time last year, they couldn't walk or talk?"
"Remember, when they....?

Our voices trembled a bit.
Our eyes wet with mommy tears.
Our hearts happy, but still a little unsettled.
Knowing things don't slow down from here.

A day of hello and goodbye's
A day of unknown.
A day that we can never get back.
First days matter.

Here we go.
A new hello.
A new goodbye.
Thank you God.

broken crayons

Last week I was working on a lesson at school.

I needed crayons to outline what I was wanting to emphasis.

As I outlined, I thought about how most of us stop using crayons when we grow up.
We think we are too big, too old to grasp something so small and child-like with our grown-up hands.
We let go of the former things of life. We are too busy to think about crayons. 

I continued coloring.
Then I thought about all the broken crayons I've seen as a teacher.
Crayons that break because of too much pressing. Too much pressure.
Crayons can only take so much.
Then snap-- what was once whole, is separate. 
Yet, the color still remains.
The crayon still has purpose.
It can still be used.

And friends, so can we.
The lesson here is that we are all those broken crayons.
We come broken.
We come used.
We come separated in pieces, fragments.

Yet, our maker sees us.
All that we have been.
And he bonds us, and still uses us for good.
Because he knows what we still have in us.
He lets our colors shine through the broken cracks of our lives.
If we let Him.

So today, I challenge you to pick up a crayon.
Press it lightly onto a sheet of notebook paper.
Write the words
"I am broken and beautiful."
While remembering that one day you will be made whole by your Father.

We are broken crayons.
We are still capable of coloring the world.
One moment at a time.

Color the world today.

Monday, September 2, 2013

reading. watching. listening (what i'll be up to in September)

So, September.
We meet again.
I'm awake.
Breathing still.
Ready for your show.
There is a lot to be learned.
A lot to be seen
And a lot of Jesus living and loving to do.

So, September...
I'll do my part, if you will do yours!
Let's make it good, what do you say?

Here's what I'll be up to...

What I'll be reading.

1. Wonder- THIS BOOK IS BREAKING MY HEART. Right now I am on pg. 91 and have reread so many perfect sentences. Sentences that I wish we could make kids understand. Reading a young adult fiction book is refreshing and so relevant to my big-girl life because inside I'm still little. This book is about a boy who has a facial deformity and what he experiences everyday. His favorite day is Halloween because he is able to put on a mask and no one stares at him. My favorite line in the book so far is "Everyone born of God, overcometh the world."

2. Chase- By Jenny Allen  God is already using this book in MIGHTY ways as our women's group is wrestling through it. We are learning about the heart of David and why his life was a model for us, even as sinner. (Because aren't we all, oh yes yes.)

3. The Genius of Generosity- Daniel and I are currently reading this book and wow, is it a great book if you are turning your finances over to God. Chip Ingram is one of our favorite pastors and I can promise you this book will inspire you to check your heart and your checkbook.

4. 1 Peter- Tomorrow I will begin reading this new testament book and digging in deep to learn more about hope and holiness.

What I'll be watching. (The list is short because I'm not much of a TV gal).

1. Panthers Football (we are looking pretty good this season)
2. Nostalgia for the Light- A documentary about the Atacama desert. The driest place above sea level on earth, where astronomers gather to observe the stars.
3. Mr. Holland's Opus- an oldie but goodie and a fabulous movie for teachers and families.

What I'll be listening to.
1. Christa Wells: Feed your Soul

2. Volcano Choir: Repave
3. Sara Bareilles- The Blessed Unrest
4. Watermark- A Grateful People
5. Chip Ingram and Jonathan Martin Podcasts

So there ya have it!

Let us take moments of our month to remember the the excitement that a new school year brings, but let us also remember the pain our nation felt 12 years ago. If you get a chance, please listen to Green Day's song, Wake me up when September ends. I googled its meaning and discovered this.

In this song Armstrong reveals his feelings about his father who died in September of 1982 when Armstrong was 10 years old. However this is not the only meaning that this song bears. For most Americans the month of September is associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001. A lot of people have lost their loved ones to that tragedy andSeptember (which comes on the album as track 11) is connected not only to the death of the author's father, but also to the families of the victims of 9/11, and the pain of losing loved ones in general. This is a song of wisdom and acceptance. "Drenched in my pain again, becoming who we are" - the realization of the fact that everything we go through, all the pain and losses, all the hardships we meet along the way are meant to make us stronger and shape our personalities.

Read.Watch. and Listen this Septemeber friends.
And please, please share what you are up to with me.
I love learning and hearing about you too!