Like A Canvas

A few days ago, I took a social media quiz to determine my so-called ‘life quote’. I’m sure you’ve seen similar ‘tests’ regarding personality traits, how good of a friend you are, etc. I generally avoid them, but got sucked into this one nonetheless. 🙂

This is what my results showed:

“Your life is like a canvas: every morning it is up to you to decide if you like to keep on painting the same old picture or create a new one.”


While I don’t think this quote is the ultimate reflection of who I am, it stood out for several reasons. First, I hadn’t seen this quote before, so it made me stop and think.

Second, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much of a mood lifter the recent changes to my home have been. I have seen the value in changing my surroundings, which has prompted me to be open to change in other areas of my life.

Third, the idea of keeping the status quo or creating a new opportunity reminded me of a fun mom’s night out with friends two years ago. A local artist hosted a painting night, with a predetermined picture as the goal.

There were two options and I since I am not super crafty, I decided to go with the easier choice. The end result was supposed to be a silhouette of two song birds on a branch or wire. The little birds looked very cozy against an azure background.

I thought it was so cute, similar to this cheery picture I recently bought for my home.


At the beginning of our painting session, my friends and I were given the same size canvas and amount of paint, and the same directions and materials. It seemed fairly easy, and the artist gave us pointers as needed.

All was going well until…

I added too much white paint to the blue! I started spreading it around but that only made it worse. Of course I kept smearing the white paint, trying to blend it in…

As you can tell in the picture (below), my results looked nothing like the original plan! I tried to make the birds and the branches. But, it turned into a big mess. Soon, I took a step back and considered my options.

I could keep going and hope the old plan worked out—or I could go another direction entirely. The second option—the obvious choice—was a much better fit for my skill level…


Ok, clearly I’m not meant to be a painter! Stop laughing and let me explain!

I decided the white against the dark blue looked a little like a thunderstorm clouds. Or, possibly, a turbulent ocean… I couldn’t quite decide. 😉

Either way, I felt it represented a sense of turmoil.

In the end, I painted tiny v-shaped birds at the top of the clouds (or waves?!) to signify rising above the chaos. I wrote ‘Isaiah 40:31’ in the corner, and decided that was the best I could do! Whew!


As I think about that experience and the ‘life quote’ above, there are a few parallels.

Sometimes our life ‘canvas’ looks good. The brush strokes match up just as we envisioned. Occasionally, smudges or spills can make a big mess—and we feel like we have to start over. But, often, those creations turn out to be the most interesting.

Perhaps we just have to reframe the failure or make it into a new picture!

You might have to take a second look to see the hidden beauty and potential amidst all the smudges. You might not understand all that has happened in your life or how it could possibly turn out well.

Rest assured. You might not see God’s hand in it all. But, trust me—He’s there! He cares deeply about you and is the Master of second chances. It might not look perfect, but God can make our lives into a beautiful masterpiece as we rise above the chaos.


The key is letting Him show us what to keep (the old) and what to change (make new). Thank God, the final result is more dependent on Him leading us than our artistic talent!


God, thanks for seeing the beauty within us and for developing it in our lives. Thanks for second chances and new direction. Please continue making us—and remaking us—like You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: When it comes to being artistic, do you prefer painting, drawing, photography, music, writing, food, or something else? Did you ever have a project that required a do-over…or a complete overhaul?

Task: Make something creative today!

Finding Grace #11

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!


Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

  • This week has been awesome. We’ve had visitors all week! First, my mom, aunt, and sister came for a few days. After they left, a dear friend from college came to visit for a long weekend. We all had a blast laughing, sharing our stories, shopping, and eating delicious food. It was a fun and fairly restful week, even though we all stayed up way too late enjoying ourselves! We had gorgeous weather, and I also enjoyed catching up with my neighbors outside.
  • My sister and brother-in-law gave me a beautiful orchid this week in remembrance of Dave. There are many different types of orchidswhat variety! But I like the purplish/fuschia ones the best. (My sister didn’t know it, yet that’s the one she gave me!) I think they are so pretty! I am amazed at how delicate they are, yet their blooms last for longer than many other plants.
  • Yesterday (Friday), my friend and I went to a ‘junk market’ where we perused vintage, antique, and up-cycled items. We saw many interesting objects, and I found a couple small heart magnets for the fridge. Lydia got some hair clips from someone who also has an online Etsy shop. I also bought some locally made raspberry and strawberry jam! As we walked around, I thought about how God remakes us to be more like Him. We are His masterpiece. We each have a unique, God-given purpose—He doesn’t make mistakes. He restores us and makes all things new! (see Ephesians 2:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17)


These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

2015 Favorite Posts

Hello! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends!

This year, I’ve challenged myself to do new things and keep moving forward. It’s been an amazing journey while seeking God’s sweet and refreshing grace. His love never fails.

To wrap up 2015, here is an index to some of my favorite posts.

Enjoy these posts, and I will see you next week…in 2016! 🙂


1)From Ordinary to Extraordinary

(My first published blog post helped set the stage for our life now.)

2)What I Learned from a Cup of Milk

(A parenting insight during a meltdown from a few years ago.)

3)Grace and Ice Cream

(I wanted to take Lydia for ice cream, but she was throwing a fit.)

4)Father Knows Best

(A little story about God’s perfect timing as we continue moving forward.)

5)A Road Trip, Relaxation and Pie

(I love pie and beautiful views!)

6)Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

(One of the biggest lessons I learned in our cancer journey; this is where it all started.)

7)Favorite Nancy!

(Who doesn’t have a favorite Nancy?!)

8)Tomatoes and Better Days Ahead

(A poor, neglected tomato plant brought me tremendous hope during a dark time.)

9)Put on Your Pants!

(On procrastination and just doing what we are supposed to do!)

10)God’s Grace and Glory in Wyoming

(Another road trip with beautiful scenery and great friends…)

11)On Rivendell and Rest

(For LOTR fans, a great parallel on finding rest in God.)

12)Race Toward Grace!

(Going into the new year, let’s race toward grace!)

13)Got Stress? Get Grace!

(For all the times when we are still trying to run the entire solar system…)

14)The Significance of Our Stories

(This one has a video link at the bottom. God still works in the midst of our difficult stories.)

15)A Preschool Pick-Me-Up

(My most popular post thus far. My little one set me straight!)

16)Tidings of Comfort and Joy

(God brings us comfort during our trials and joy in our pain. Praise God!)


Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:14).




Tomatoes and Better Days Ahead

I love fresh tomatoes—they are one of my favorite foods of summer. My dad and I are the only ones in our family who will eat them. So, my mom always grows them just for us. There is nothing better than vine-ripened tomatoes in the heat of an Illinois summer. Delicious! I pluck them right off the vine, and into my mouth they go. There is little chance that they’ll even make it inside. Sorry, Dad!

Here in North Dakota, I cannot seem to grow tomatoes successfully! It could be due to the shorter growing season or having less humidity… I might get a few tomatoes, but not nearly enough for my tastes.

Check out my poor tomato plant (pictured below). Knowing I enjoy tomatoes, my mom planted it for me the summer that Dave died (2013). As you can see it didn’t fare well!

I could have forgotten to water it in my grief…or maybe it was the mighty wind that knocked it over half a dozen times.

2013 Tomato Plant

I don’t know what is worse—its pathetic, withered look or the need to prop it up against my deck railing! Day after day, I would walk by it in a daze. I often failed to water it.

In some ways, it represented my life quite well at the time. Towards the end of summer, I took a picture of it, as a marker. Dismally, I thought, “I must look like this plant, down and out, a little worse for the wear.” I had no clear plan at the time. (Grief is like that.)

Soon, I noticed there was still fruit. Despite appearances, my poor tomatoes were still hanging on! As I waited on the Lord to renew my vision…even in my grief…I knew He would make something good (Jeremiah 29:11). In a sense this tomato plant brought me tremendous hope during those dark days.

Have you ever felt Life looked a little bleak? Has your hope withered as Life pressed in?

I’m so sorry. Like this tomato plant, we all experience rough times. Circumstances can change in an instant. I know. We get knocked down for many reasons. Whatever your loss or pain, will you let God handle it? He will make a glorious masterpiece, if you will let Him.

Lamentations 3:24 says, “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” If you feel like a beaten up, wind-tossed tomato plant, there is hope!

Have confidence in God’s timing and goodness (see Psalm 27:13).

He loves you very much.

Father God, thank You for bringing me through, and giving me new direction. Your wonderful plan includes hope for today and a great future. The best is yet to come! Thank You for sustaining us with Your grace and power.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.