Today I am sharing a personal mentor with you, my dear friend Corissa. In our younger years we shared lots of coffee and tea, game nights with our fiances, wedding plans, hours of car rides, and frisbee golf. As we grew older and became wives we shared the joys and tears of motherhood, support for each other while balancing graduate school with family, and encouragement while supporting our husbands in the ministry. So, basically, she's pretty great. You'll see... I mean read :)
"Tell the readers more about yourself, Corissa. What is a regular day like for you?"
"I’m a work-at-home mom and artist. Architecture was my primary design focus early on. After finishing my architecture education, working for a couple of firms, and teaching some design studios, I decided to enjoy my kids' early years at home with them. I find myself expressing my love of home and family, and my faith, through my art. I now do a number of different freelance projects. I jump between painting, quilting, graphic design, and illustrating. At church I’m involved with PR/Communications and organize a moms group. I don’t really consider myself a mentor yet, maybe more of an encourager (or an enabler if you are shopping with me). I hope to work towards being a mentor one day, but I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my faith and story today.
My days begin with a good strong cup of coffee as my husband and I get our kids ready for the day. After he’s off to work at Goodwill and our oldest son is off to kindergarten, I get the younger two settled into their imaginative world for the morning. This usually involves helping them make the couch into a ship to Madagascar, taking out the tote of costumes, or helping them find the shopping cart to play store. The kids’ bedrooms are really sunny in the morning, so I look around for a good excuse to spend time in there, especially my daughter’s girly room. Laundry works well as a legitimate reason to hang out near the dolls and quilts, drink more coffee… and maybe put away a couple of cardigans and sparkly sneakers. Before I know it, the kids are back from Madagascar and ready for lunch. We move on into rest time. My son Oliver “rests” on the couch while I work. (The definition of “rest” according to Oliver: a time to fly from couch to chair as Spiderman, hoping that it’ll be a quiet leap and Mom won’t notice…) Soon, we’re getting our oldest from school, moving on to supper, homework, bedtime, and then “us time.” Marques and I like to grab our laptops and have working nights together most nights, but we read, have devotion, or just hang out during these hours, too."
"How would you describe your unique role as a woman?"
"Being a woman involves wearing so many different hats. It’s easy to feel scattered trying to do justice to each role, but I can see how blessed I am to be a mommy, wife, friend, and designer each day. I attempt to make sure our family life is happily humming along, my husband is supported in his work, my customers are happy, and purposely make sure I’m not too busy to have time for a friend."
"I think you have a bigger hat collection than me! LOL! How do you balance family and work?"
"Family comes first. Work comes second, but I use it to support our family goals. Coffee keeps me moving, to-do lists help me remember, and a good book gives me a break to refresh."
"Tell us more about your present work. How did you get started glorifying God through your art & design?"
"Everyone can glorify God in their work, even without painting little crosses on everything. I started adding specifically Christian art to my work, though, in a practical way. I made things for our family and then made them available to others, should they find them useful. This is especially true of the Bible Story artwork I made for my kids, so that they could hold the pieces in their hands and ask their questions. I just love seeing the stories through their eyes, a fresh perspective. One day, my daughter was assembling the nativity scene and told me, “Jesus can have his gifts, but first he has to finish his nap.” Through her eyes, I got a great glimpse into what it would have been like to be Mary, juggling a baby schedule for her Savior."
"I’ve since added “Jesus Loves You” Valentines, baptism wall art, and others. This Christmas, I painted my first nativity scene, after being encouraged to do so. I enjoyed having to spend a few hours in the Christmas story, thinking about what really happened. I’ve also become a bit of a flyer nerd little by little. I really enjoy making flyers for events at churches, postcards, yard signs, T-Shirts, church logos, and newspaper ads."
With Valentine's Day around the corner please share a favorite memory of your husband's love to you?"
"Last week he called me in the middle of the day to thank me for being such a good mommy to our kids. A tear or two may have been involved on my part."
"Any tips on encouraging a husband's faith and role in the family?"
"I encourage and support my husband in his roles by working to be stronger in my own roles as a wife and mother. I look to my husband for ideas, guidance, and answers to my theology questions. He helps me become a stronger partner, and that helps him in turn."
"Is there anything specific from Titus 2:3-5, our blog’s mission, that you can comment on to encourage women? Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5
"I’m a bit of a secret admirer of a couple special ladies. I’ve been admiring them for their ability to “be joyful always” and treat others with love, regardless of the circumstances. It’s clear they understand that love is most effective for teaching, encouraging, motivating others, and taking on challenges. I see them and I strive to be as encouraging and kind toward other women as they are, building others up in their faiths and encouraging their service. They “teach what is good,” “love their husbands and children,” and are kind, a blessing to those of us around. Some women just have that certain Christian je ne sais quois. I want that, too. They lead and mentor me by example."
"What do you feel is a threat to a woman’s faithfulness in her home? How can we be alert against it?"
"For me, it’s the temptation to become overwhelmed. I keep my favorite passages close at hand or memorized, as reminders to myself that I can’t just drop my crosses again. Also, as women, we really have a great opportunity to encourage each other through the challenges we face. In trying to support friends, I’ve had such neat chances to see the faiths and perspectives of other women. That really strengthens me, helps me be joyful. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 is one of my favorites on this topic. Laughter is also a great defense."
"Can you share an event in your life that was terribly difficult that God strengthened you?"
"Just a few months after losing my dear grandma to breast cancer, I had a placental abruption in my first pregnancy. My son was delivered at 32 weeks in New Ulm, MN, and sent by helicopter to Children’s in Minneapolis. From there he’s continued to just thrive, but I really held on to the hurt and trauma of being separated from tiny little guy for a few days.
A couple of years later, I was pregnant with my third baby. On my first day of teaching an architecture studio at UW-Milwaukee, I had a pulmonary embolism, with multiple blood clots in my lungs. Again, I was so surprised that something so difficult could happen in my life, I was very overwhelmed. My little daughter and I made it through, but it was almost a year later before I realized I was so sad still from that traumatic event and the previous ones. One day, I realized that God had brought my three babies and I safely through those times. I was incredibly blessed, but still feeling sorry for myself for having gone through rough times. Finally, finally(!) I cast that anxiety on Jesus and moved forward.
This last June, our second baby, Oliver, began having seizures around his third birthday. This time, I was much more prepared to face my challenges. It didn’t surprise me for once that pain and heartbreak had found its way into our family and home. I think I was challenged beyond what I had been in the past, because everything was so unpredictable and my child just wasn’t himself for weeks on end. Yet, through those past challenges (that I had gone through kicking and screaming), I had gained buckets of patience and the understanding that these rotten days do pass. On the other side of the pain, we’ll find that God has made us so much stronger.
Now, I have my tools for getting through heartbreaking days. I cast my anxiety on Him, (1 Peter 5:7) take a big breath, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18) for the blessings, and let that bad day just go. The next morning, we get to start again. By mid-September, we had let many rough days pass by. Oliver was often anxious and angry, and I missed my happy little boy. I told my pastor how it was going, and he asked our prayer circle at church to continue praying for us. Oliver hasn’t had a seizure since that day I asked for help. I realize that he easily could have more seizures, when he outgrows his current medication dose, or something triggers another seizure. Meanwhile, though, every single normal day just seems like an incredible gift. Every day, my kids look to me like happy little miracles running around and I can hardly believe we’re all together still, laughing. Romans 5:1-5 brings great perspective for me."
"Beautifully said. God gently leads us with little ones, doesn't he? Is there a moment that you saw God's hand so clearly guiding or providing for you that you would like to share?"
"On those hard days with Oliver, I could clearly see how sitting so many weeks in an NICU with my premie had prepared me to sit by and wait for a seizure to pass. God had prepared me and sat there with me. It is also clear when I get to listen to women going through similar situations why I had to go through those things. I am the mom that had the premie, was in the ICU myself, and handled epilepsy. I’m the mom that got overwhelmed, I know them. I know how they hurt, because so do I. I know why they need a friend more than a critic when they aren’t holding up so well."
"So true, Corissa. What’s next for you and the family?"
"I wish I knew, but I don’t. In the upcoming month, I have some exciting art and blogging opportunities. I can’t wait to share them as they come up! As for our family and our ministry, we’re striving to be content and patient as we await whatever comes next."
"You have shared many bible passages, which is your favorite?"
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:16-18 "This passage has gotten me through my hardest days in the last year. I use it as a tool to adjust my perspective and attitude when I’m heartbroken. So that I can give thanks and smile on those hardest days, I have to stop and think what is good, rather than what’s breaking my heart."
"Amen! Oh Corissa, thank you for sharing your life and faith today. It is my hope that other women reading may be comforted in similar trials and inspired to use their gifts, no matter what vocation, to glorify our Lord. You may not feel like a mentor yet but you certainly are one to me. So thankful for you!
We are currently hosting a giveaway by Corissa Nelson Art in celebration of our first month blogging.
Only a couple of days left to enter!
Wedding Commemoration Wall Print
This 8x10 artwork celebrates a marriage and the beginning of a new household with a vintage film flair. It would make a very special gift for your spouse for Valentine's Day or an anniversary. Even the silhouette of the couple is personalized. SWEEET!