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Do Something

Oct 12, 16

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone. – Ronald Reagan

img_6677Monday marked World Homelessness Day. A day set aside to recognize those currently fighting poverty, hunger and life instability.

Homelessness is a cause that is so dear to my heart. Through volunteer work at Charlotte’s Harvest Center and mission trips with Samaritan’s Feet, “homelessness,” is no longer a nameless, faceless issue. Instead, my heart has been touched deeply and personally by the men, women and children surviving homelessness as well as the organizations committed to fighting on their behalf.
img_6678Monday also marked the pre-order launch of my newest book Angels: The Collector’s Edition, the net proceeds of which will be given to those organizations making a difference within the homeless community.

img_6676Our team commemorated the day by packing supply kits with personal hygiene items, water, snacks, socks and a list of resources. We’ll share these kits with our neighbors on the street and the ministries committed to them.

I’m so motivated by Ronald Reagan’s famous quote that reminds us that we can all reach someone. What someone is God placing in your path today?


Angels: The Collector’s Edition

Oct 7, 16

Angels: The Collector’s Edition
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

the-collectors-edition-lucite-sleeveFourteen years ago, on a small canvas in my home studio, I painted my first angel, and as it turns out, my life song.

I can clearly remember the day not long after when I was serving at Charlotte’s Harvest Center. I felt so conflicted and wondered how I would be able to do it all… be a wife, a mom, an artist, and a philanthropist, giving back to those in need. I felt the Lord’s still, small voice speak to me and urge me to “paint and give back.” Those four simple words have launched years of partnership, birthed thousands of angels, and filled my heart.

Today in my studio I was painting and praising to some wonderful Christian music, the song below from Steven Curtis Chapman came on, and I was reminded to commit everything I do for the glory of God who made me. There is nothing like being dedicated to the sweet spot of gifts and passions, perfectly planned by God.

I remember when my kids were little, and there I was in the midst of the chaos, picking up toys, my hair thrown up in a ponytail with no makeup on my face except for the little bit of lipstick I’d put on on my way out the door. Those days seem so long ago (and honestly, with my kids 22, 21, 19, and 16 years old… they were longer ago than I want to admit!).

These days, I stand here painting or having product development meetings or marketing strategy sessions, and my hair is still in a ponytail, and I still just thrown on a little lipstick on my way out the door, and there are times that I can’t help but wonder if it matters. Another angel? Another bird? Another notecard? Will it make a difference at all? And then I’m reminded in so many different ways… the lyrics in a song or the stories we receive… that it does matter, and as long as I give God the glory, every little thing matters.

Wherever you’re sitting today… at a cluttered kitchen table with children running around, a conference room at the bank waiting for a meeting, in an art studio like me, please remember that the little stuff and the big stuff… it all matters!

Monday marks World Homelessness Day, and our team has been working diligently on a brand new coffee table book, Angels: The Collector’s Edition, which combines the most beloved content from Angels In Our Midst as well as more than 150 pages of new content, artwork and stories of faith. You’ll find inspiring words from some of the most talented musical artists today, like Steven Curtis Chapman, his organization Show Hope, and the way God brought us together.

This new book was created in honor of the organizations who are fighting to end homelessness and the negative cycle of poverty across the nation and worldwide. To commemorate these amazing organizations and the population of voiceless angels that they serve, 20% of net proceeds from the sale of Angels: The Collector’s Edition will be donated to our dear partners to aid their fight.

Our new books will be arriving the first week of December, just in time to secure a spot under your tree.

Our pre-ordering opens Monday, and you can choose your preferred package. We are offering three options:
The book
The book + fine art print of cover artwork
The book + original Angel oil painting (quantities are limited)

collectors-edition-cover_inside-mockupDo Everything – Steven Curtis Chapman

You’re picking up toys on the living room floor for the fifteenth time today

Matching up socks
Sweeping up lost cheerios that got away 

You put a baby on your hip
Color on your lips and head out the door 

While I may not know you,
I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?

Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long 

As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause He made you,
To do
Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do 

Maybe you’re that guy with the suit and tie
Maybe your shirt says your name 

You may be hooking up mergers
Cooking up burgers
But at the end of the day

Little stuff
Big stuff
In between stuff
God sees it all the same 

While I may not know you
I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?
Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long
As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause He made you
To do 

Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every thing you do 

Maybe you’re sitting in math class
Or maybe on a mission in the Congo
Or maybe you’re working at the office
Singing along with the radio

Maybe you’re a down and out rock star
Or feeding orphans in the Myanmar
Anywhere and everywhere that you are 

Whatever you do
It all matters
So do what you do
Don’t ever forget 

To do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause He made you
To do
Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace

As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause he made you
To do
Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do 

In every little thing you do
In every little thing you do




All Access

Oct 4, 16

“At David and Kurt’s” by Eve Plumb. Available through Anne Neilson Fine Art Gallery.

Have you checked out the new Instagram Stories on Instagram? I love them. Essentially a live feed of my friends and loved ones lives right at my fingertips. I love the connections that social media allows us, but I can’t help but think that the ease of connection is also hurting our real, true, personal relationships with each other.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Scripture doesn’t mention that as Twitter sharpens Twitter, or as Facebook sharpens Facebook. No. It speaks of metal sharpening metal, which only happens when it comes into direct contact with another piece of metal… not just by scrolling through a newsfeed.

Sharpening each other happens in direct fellowship, in conversations, in small groups, in meals over the same table. I love the fun of social media but never want to take for granted the true identities of those behind the accounts. I want to be increasingly intentional about the relationships I’m building.

Just this morning I met a friend for coffee. We ran into each other three weeks ago at a restaurant and talked about how much we’d like to see each other and catch up. I reminded her (and myself!) that it’s never about being too busy… it’s about taking the time to put it on the calendar. We scheduled a date right then, and this morning was so lovely and refreshing for us both.

The Lord built us for community with one another. Not for community with a screen. He hand-selected each one of us to be sitting the unique position where we are now, surrounded by the people that are in our lives. And no amount of filters or shares will validate or steal that. My joy is my duty and my treasure to protect. I dress for an audience of One and am striving for real community with the divine appointments He arranges for me.


The Trendsetter

Sep 30, 16

Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
Walking through the mall or dropping my son off at school, it’s clear that anything that was in style when I was young will come full circle again eventually. Currently, according to the fashion experts, trends from the ’90s are back in style. Granted my ’90s years were spent wearing the uniform of a mom-on-the-go, but ultimately trends are cyclical.

In interior design, through working with designers who come into the Gallery, we know that both mid-Century modern and minimalist styles with pops of color are on the “it” list. But nothing new is truly original.

Do you remember being young and flipping through magazines, begging your parents to take you out right then and there for the latest must-have outfit or hairstyle? Never mind whether you had the body type, coloring or hair texture to pull it off, it was all about imitating those all-knowing trendsetters.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve settled more fully into my own style and taste and stopped chasing the latest trends. And spiritually, I’m more comfortable now as well, as I’ve embraced what Ephesians calls us to do… be an imitator of Christ. No one else. No other trend. Just the timeless, boundless power and love of Christ.

Unlike Jennifer Aniston’s wildly popular Friends haircut or the puffy sleeves of the ’80s, His love for us, and what we are called to imitate of Him is one-size fits all. The Holy Spirit dwells in us all, and our job is to stop flipping the pages of what’s “in,” and instead reflect and focus on what is within, then copy and apply it for the world to see.

He is the ultimate Trendsetter, and He fearfully and wonderfully made us to walk out what is already in us. How encouraging and freeing!

Just for fun: what trend did you copy that you never should have? And, how are you imitating Christ to those around you?



Only God

Sep 27, 16

Philippians 3:14
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


“His Divine Creation” by Anne Neilson; available through Anne Neilson Fine Art Gallery.

It’s a pleasure to travel often for work. Whether showcasing my art or giving a talk on “painting with a purpose,” a common narrative that rises to the top is “how are you doing all of this?” What has become a business born out of a passion is so much bigger than me. And the answer is simple: “Only God.”

I remember watching an interview with Lance Armstrong when the interviewer asked Lance about his miraculous healing of cancer. Lance answered, “I knew I could do it, so I did it.” It made me so sad that a man with a platform as large as his was at the time, saw only his own effort in a miracle, rather than the opportunity to showcase our supernatural Healer. That isn’t my story.

From my first angel painting in 2003 to meeting Oprah through a divine appointment several years later to the publication of Angels In Our Midst and the launch of Anne Neilson Home, the only thing I can say is, “Only God.” If we were to gather together for an intimate coffee date, I could spend hours telling you the stories of behind the scenes mishaps and trials that threatened to derail my dreams for my businesses, but somehow, God has chosen, time and again, to show me favor and deliver stories drenched in “only God,” moments.

My friends, there is no effort that you can put in that will win over or wow God. There is nothing that you can do to create a miracle on your own. Instead, you can diligently and faithfully choose each and every day to be obedient to Him, and He will see the work of His “good and faithful servant,” and say, “I know that when I work through them, they will magnify my Glory to those around Him.” That is why the first words on my lips any time I’m asked will be, “Only God. Always God. Forever God.”

What moments can you look back on and say, “Only God”?


The Beauty of Wisdom

Sep 23, 16

Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.


“Ballerina at Rest” by Lisa Moore and available from the Anne Neilson Fine Art Gallery.

I posted at the end of last week on the changes that are always happening around us. As I age, my appearance is no exception. As my hair starts showing more and more signs of the years I’ve lived, I hope to embrace it as a token of what God has brought me through in this life… every mountaintop and every valley, equally.

Surely you have those confidants whose advice you seek out, whose spirit is just attractive, oozing wisdom and wise counsel. I know I do. And I also know that the Lord richly rewarded Solomon, who was able to request any gift from Him and asked for His wisdom. You know, just like Solomon, we have the power to request ANY gift from the Lord, as well, and how often do we ask for His wisdom? His will, yes. His direction, sure. But His rich, all-consuming wisdom? Not as often.

We innately value wisdom in our relationships, and we know (with each gray hair that appears!) that we are acquiring it as we face and overcome the trials that we encounter, but what a mighty encounter we would have to be face to face with our Creator and asked Him to give us a slice of His wisdom.

I love the way Scripture weaves a narrative together. Proverbs 31 tells us that beauty is fleeting but the fear of the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 9 tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Maybe then, it’s no surprise that as our youthful looks fade, our wisdom increases. In fact, I’m choosing to believe that as I gain wisdom, and as I seek Him to receive it, the grays I’m gaining are even more beautiful, showcasing that I’m drawing nearer to Him.

Wisdom is beautiful, and it pleases God’s heart for you to dive deeper to obtain it.

What does wisdom look like to you?


With Open Hands

Sep 21, 16

Proverbs 31:20
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

james-3-18My heart has been heavy in recent months, and even more so in recent days, as racial tensions have erupted throughout the nation and landed in our own Charlotte backyard this week. The solutions aren’t easy, but acknowledgement of our current national crisis – and the responsibility that we, as a body of believers, carry – is a start.

As fear threatens our homes with daily news of violence, I encourage you to check your hands. Many of us, when fearful and threatened, clench our fists tightly, holding them against ourselves. It’s a defensive stance. Nothing can enter your hands, and nothing can leave your hands when you have them closed.

Instead, I challenge you – literally and figuratively – to open your hands. Pray for our city leaders, our police officers, our neighbors. Pray for peace and unity. Be a conductor of love, not an enforcer of intolerance or escalation. Allow love, peace and kindness to flow to you and from you, and let healing begin.


Click to Change

Sep 16, 16

img_2894Yesterday morning I updated my phone to the newest software, which frankly, I hate doing. I hate relearning how to work my phone, and I like the old ways of operating my apps. I get so accustomed to the old ways of doing things, that when I’m forced to move to a new system, I get frustrated.

The fact is, despite my frustration and reluctance to accept it, change is constantly swirling around all of us… our appearance, our jobs, our family stages, our health, our responsibilities, our political system… everything except God, who created all of those things around us. His scriptures say that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I want to encourage you that as you step into whatever season is changing the most right now (and there are probably several at once!), whether it’s new parenthood, becoming an empty nester, caring for an ailing parent, fighting your way through a divorce, whatever it is, the initial changes will not only be scary, but they will also be accompanied by fear, frustration and discouragement. As you walk down this new path, however, following the One who is leading you, you will begin to find a new stride and rhythm. And what once felt impossible (learning a new app in your software update, for instance), will become second nature.

God is faithful, and He is always true. As He says in Jeremiah 29:11, His plans are always to prosper you and not to harm you… to give you a hope and a future. The next upgrade in your operating system won’t be without its own learning curve, but it promises to elevate you to a new, even better level than before.

Press into a God who loves you and wants His best for you above all. Dear Lord, let us not fear imbalance, instability and constant change, but let us anchor ourselves with the knowledge that You are good; You are true; and Your love is steadfast and will never be found wavering or unsteady.

What changes are you stepping into today?



September 10, 2001

Sep 13, 16

Luke 21:9
When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.
This weekend we had the burdensome honor of commemorating the 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack that killed thousands of Americans. We can nearly all recall where we were when we first heard the news that those two planes had struck New York’s Twin Towers.

On Sunday morning, I was flipping through my old journals and paused on the entry dated September 10, 2001, just 24 hours before horror gripped our country. It was an otherwise ordinary day as I sat in my prayer chair reading Scripture and sending prayers of provision and protection for my family and friends.
img_6351As I was wrapping up my quiet time, I kept feeling that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit impressing upon me to meditate on Luke 21. I wrote it down, unsure what it meant. Again, I felt the prodding in my heart to open His word and read the chapter. Luke 21 isn’t a well-known chapter in the Bible, and it wasn’t one that I was immediately familiar with. It’s a warning to God’s people about the unrest and war coming on the nation, but also an encouragement that He is still overseeing it all and asks His people to not fear.

The next morning, of course, our nation was greeted with an act of terror so horrific and cruel, that we are all thrown into grief and dismay. Yet even in the middle of the tragedy and confusion, my heart stayed still, knowing that God had spoken to me the day before.

There is so much power in posturing your heart to hear from the Lord. He is always speaking to us, if we would just pause and listen. Additionally, there is great blessing in recording the ways He moves in our lives. I’m thankful for these old journals that I can flip back through and remind myself of His faithfulness.

Do you journal? Do you write down the ways He has blessed you and shown Himself faithful in your life? I’d love to hear about it!


Devious Distractions

Sep 9, 16

A guest post from Anne Neilson Home’s communications director Caroline Arey.


“Dwell in the Presence of the Lord” by Anne Neilson

The most dangerous separations I feel from God don’t happen through major catastrophes. Instead, those awful disasters somehow serve as catalysts causing me to recognize the Lord in some way – clinging to Him with conviction. What really serves to drive me away from the Lord is those little distractions.

I have found that the mundane incidents that may make a list of grievances to fill a text to a friend seem too small and petty to bring before the Father (particularly in the face of “real” issues assailing so many others). And the deep, intimate dialogue that flows in the throes of grief, brokenheartedness, fear, or doubt just sort of piddles away to a great big silence.

The daily distractions of life seem at once too large and too menial to report, so it’s easier just to wade through them and try and find another way to rejuvenate our spirits alone. I t’s right there in that juxtaposition that I think the enemy lies in wait most eagerly. H e’s masterful , clever and dangerous because of his lulling strategy. We would all be named Job if he assaulted us too catastrophically, too often.

Instead, he calculates a steady stream of distractions – sluggish wifi connections, a broken garage door, a fender bender an HVAC repair… the mundane “life stuff,” that serves to clog the pipes of communication with the Lord. Because how bizarre does it feel to posture at the feet of the Divine Creator and beseechingly cry out, “Lord, I need you to miraculously heal my pipes in Your heavenly mercy.”?

But just like, as parents, we yearn for our children to unpack the details of their day and allow us a glimpse into their world, our Creator wants to hear our burdens too… no matter how slight.

The distractions won’t stop… they’re the water torture treatment keeping us longing for eternity… but their devastation on our faith can be minimized when we stop letting ourselves be entangled in the enemy’s snares.

What is distracting you today? How can you look around the distraction and make eye contact with the Lord instead?


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