Lets keep the beauty going…

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The kids and I watched Shallow Hal with Jack Black last week.  Jeff and I really like Jack Black humor, as do the kids (Nacho Libre) is a family favorite.  But as much as we enjoyed the humor of the movie, I love the message too. Tony Robbins (a motivation speaker) hypnotizes Jack’s character to see the true beauty of a person’s soul, rather than their outer beauty.  And anyone who is really mean or nasty, he sees as ugly.

It even made me stop and think.  Jeff always teases me because I tell him how gorgeous I think he is–but it is because I see him through the glasses of love–his soul amazes me.  The same thing with my kids.  I think they are the cutest things around–but I am also very proud of their character.

What if we tried really hard to look at everyone this way?  Just like we have been looking for the little wonders and beauty in creation, what if we truly stopped and looked at people in this manner?  How would that change our country?  The world?  What if more people looked past skin deep and we put more emphasis on character and soul?

It would be interesting to see how that affected celebrities and sports heroes that is for sure.  If the money/power goggles were gone, I think a lot of ugliness would show.

Today…tell someone how gorgeous they are.  That you can see their fantastic soul glowing through and that it lights their aura.  Or whatever you wanna say.  🙂

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A bouquet of happy thoughts

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I do love a bouquet of flowers.  I was sort of hoping that the house we found in Belmond would already have a lush garden, or at least an area where I could plant lots of old fashioned favorites:  cosmos, zinnia, bachelor buttons, holly hocks.  But most of our yard is in shade…except for the common area shared with one neighbor between our driveways.  I may just have to talk Eunice into letting me plant it.  🙂

Bouquets are beautiful.  Even if they are ditch flowers (I love ditch lilies and queen Anne’s lace).  I love the freedom of a loose bouquet.  Single flowers are nice.  But more is better in my opinion.  And these bouquets remind me to pause, and be thankful for the beauty in my life.  Did you make a list on Friday?  Did you really try to notice more things of beauty?  And not cultural beauty necessarily, but what speaks to you?

This is basically my whole philosophy when teaching art.  Everyday I get to indoctrinate children 🙂 to my way of thinking.  And I hope it changes their lives.  I know it changes my life when I look at things  this way.

And by the way, Annika just got up and told me, “I like your eggs.”  Yes, I agree, they look fried eggs.  We decided we still like the art though.

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Wonders

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I will never cease to be amazed at the wonders our God is capable of.  He is truly awesome and amazing.

From the minutae, to the delicate intricate design of each living creature, to the big miracles we encounter–He does good things, and in ways we will never ever fathom.

Pause today.  OFTEN.  Look for the wonders, notice them.  Count what you can today.  And say a prayer of thanks and joy.

Joy to you all.

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Contentedness

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Paul wrote this when he was in prison.  IN prison.  I am guessing his needs were NOT being met.  But he had learned to be content. Are you content?  I have not been for a very long time.  And I should be.  The refugee crisis and the constant talk of illegal immigrants has had me considering needs vs. wants and the idea of being content. Moving has made me consider needs vs. wants and the reality of being content.

We have a lot of stuff–I needed to decide what were the needs to move.  What could we get rid of?  What needed to come first?  We moved into a 99 year old house.  The bathrooms, the number of plug-ins, the space–all very different from our 30 year old house.  We moved to a town with way fewer stores and restaurants.  What were needs vs. wants?

How would I look at my needs vs. wants through the eyes of Paul in prison?  Through the eyes of a refugee?  Through the eyes of illegal immigrants–who really are refugees also escaping horrible living conditions.

We are all looking for that same contentment.  It is really just a matter of what we need to feel content–is it a place that is safe from war, fighting, crime?  Is it a place that has food–not gourmet, easy to get at the drive-thru, but basic nutrition?  Is it an overly large space designed to perfection, or is it just a home that is warm/cool and dry with the people we love?

I am feeling more content.  I have a good home.  I have the food I need, and more.  Most importantly I have the ones I love near me.  I have Christ.

How about you?  Have you looked at your life in an attitude of contentment recently?  What changes do you need to make to be more content?

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Practicing pausing

 

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I am learning to practice the pause on a daily basis.  I think I am getting better at it, little by little.

The pause is so powerful.  Just stop, breathe, and call on God.  Then let your heart talk to Him.  Anywhere you are.  Any time of day.  And pray for what He can give you–strength, patience, open eyes, peace, healing, guidance, trust.  I am learning that I can’t pray for specific answers–He doesn’t work that way.  Only He knows what will be best.  I just need to be open to HIS answers, not mine.  And that, dear ones, is what the pause does–it opens us up in a moment to Him.

So often I know that we want to pray for a specific answer that fits in our understanding and desires.  But that isn’t always going to be the answer He gives.  We must remember that Christ promised, promised, we  would have struggles–and most likely more struggles because we are believers.  The world is not going to conform to our beliefs.  The world is not going to live up to our standards.  We must wait for heaven–it is not here on Earth.

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Looking to God

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Hello dear friends, it has been too long.  It has been a very busy month!  But the kids and I are all settled in Belmond, Iowa now.  I painted this view at my mother-in-law’s house the end of July.  As I looked out across the rolling farmland and at the vastness of the blue sky I felt peace, I felt the awesome-ness of God and His creation, I felt His hands reaching out to hold me.

The whole process of moving went relatively smoothly, and I truly believe that had a lot to do with prayer and trusting that God was hearing.  Whenever I felt myself getting worked up, I would try to stop, breathe deeply, and trust that God would lead.  There were bumps and annoyances (one being we still haven’t sold the Lockport house–pray on this one please).  But through it all, I felt a sense of rightness.  That we are following God’s call so He will provide.

It feels good to be in our new home, with my kids, getting a classroom ready.  We are falling into place in Belmond quickly and easily (the people are so kind and friendly).

God heard.

He knew what we needed.

We waited.

He spoke.

We followed.

 

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the RIGHT leader

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Oh wow, did this one hit hard.  Our nation is in a precarious position as far as I am concerned.  Those of you who are older probably remember other times when it felt like America was in crisis, but I don’t.  I am concerned for our government and the leaders our citizens are choosing.  I know there have been other scary seasons, and this one may not be any different, but it still makes me wary.  All I can think is that sometimes, throughout the Bible, bad leaders rose up.  Bad leaders led to a fall, and then a cleansing.

But mostly, this verse makes me trust.  God will raise up the right leaders.  He will make Jesus more and more apparent.  He will bring people to point us to Jesus.  God knows what needs to happen.  He will protect His believers –it may be that He will protect us from the evil by taking us to heaven, and we must accept that plan.  He never promised that we wouldn’t face persecution and struggles here.  Not once.  In fact He promises we will.   So we must look to the end, and plan our choice.

And in the face of an uncertain future on Earth, trust that He will carry out His plans for good.

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Friends and wine

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How perfect is this at this time in my life????  I am writing this during one of my last weeks in Illinois (working ahead so there are posts when I am away from computers).  And I am enjoying wine with a lot of old friends.    Many times this year I enjoyed the opportunity to break bread and share drinks with old friends from other states, other seasons.  Each time, we sat and talked like we had never been separated.  Not only did it make me cherish those friends more, but it comforted me as I readied to leave friends in Illinois.  For I knew, I will never abandon them, I just won’t see them as often.   And I knew I would be returning to friends in Iowa.

This verse comforts me as I prepare to make new friends as well.  When we moved to Illinois I had this crazy notion that I needed to make friends immediately, ones that I could share everything with.  I don’t feel that way this time.  I understand what the writer means–it is okay to let new friendships ripen on the vine and let them age until they can be fully enjoyed.  I can’t expect too much too soon.  And I shouldn’t forsake the old while waiting on the new.

Hopefully this comforts some of my old friends as well.  You will always have places in my heart, and in my home wherever that may be.

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Remember the end

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I think this is pretty darn true.  If I would stop and consider how my actions are going to impact the future, I might make some different decisions.  Too often, I think we as humans only consider the here and now, and we forget to consider how sins of today might change our tomorrows.  How they might affect our eternity.

I do believe that God has plans for us on a day to day basis.  I do think He affects the minutae of our days.  But more so, I know that His plans are for the end of our lives.  He wants us in the here and now, but He really wants us to plan for the end– when we have the chance, and the choice, to be with Him.  Our life on earth is so tiny in comparison to the option of spending eternity with Jesus.

How is what we are doing today affecting that future?

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Wisdom

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If you can’t read my chicken scratch here are the words of Sirach 6:14-17 on wisdom–

Come to her with all your soul and keep her ways with all your might.  Search out and seek and she will become known to you and when you get a hold of her do not let go for at last you will find the rest she gives and she will be changed into joy for you.  She will become a strong defense and her collar a glorious robe.  her yoke a golden ornament and her bonds a purple cord.  you will wear her like a glorious robe.  

I already had this sketch with the long skirt covered in a garden, and when I read these verses I knew that they belonged with her.  Each of the flowers reminded me of a different bit of wisdom, a memory, an opportunity, whether good or bad, to learn and grow.  To turn the bad ones into beautiful  chances to grow in joy.

I want to wear wisdom as a glorious robe.  I want to seek out wisdom and let it hold me until it fills me with joy.  Doesn’t that sound lovely?  How different would our world be if everyone looked at wisdom this way?  If we let learning change our hearts for good, instead of bitterness and anger?  If we all cloaked ourselves in the gloriousness of love?

I am praying for that.  For all of us.

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Confident

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Here is the kicker though with all of that sin–we have to stop the cycles of sin.  We can understand that God melts it away.  We can be thankful for that.  But part of that gratitude is RESPECT to God, and not adding more sin on top of more sin on top of more sin.

We cannot take advantage, we can not be entitled, we can not be irreverent.  We can not think that we can battle sin with sin.

We must do the exact opposite of those things if we are to live in the joy that God promises.  Otherwise we aren’t truly saved from the despair of our own world, but just living on the edge between the two.

We must be grateful for every opportunity to act in love, be respectful of the joy and peace that can be so easily shattered, and try our hardest every day to battle sin with choices to love, be kind, be patient, to see our hearts.

Are you letting layers of sin build up?  Are you holding them all together and saving them up?  Are you adding to the layers each day?

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Frost

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I found Sirach, a book included in the apocrypha and so only included in some Bibles.  Such beautiful imagery along with the proverbs collected here.

If only we would believe this!  Jesus melts away all of our sins when we believe and turn to Him.  Melts.  Them.  AWAY.

Have you ever really looked at an early morning frost?  How they sparkle in the sun, they looked so lovely and like such a good idea in the beginning.  Until you see that if left, they will kill everything they cover.  But the sun comes out, warming everything, promising that it is not time yet–and all the frost melts, disappears, evaporates.  All of it—like each and every little crystal was a sin –each time we didn’t forgive, or assumed, or spewed hate, or didn’t rest, or went against God.  Gone.  Evaporated into thin air.  And green grass left behind.  Ready to face another day.

What if all peoples believed this?  What if we started each day free of our sins and bitterness? What if we looked at each new day as another opportunity to get it right?

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Wisdom

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Oh people.  What is happening in our nation?  And what is making the news is only the tip of the iceberg.  We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

While the media covers everything going on in other countries, sensationalizes our election process, and glorifies silly celebrities–our citizens are starting internal civil wars.  Our cities are ravaged by people shooting each other for reasons of race, religion, gender, and career.  My heart is breaking.

As Christians now is our time to turn to God even more, to Jesus, and what the Bible teaches us.  Love, forgiveness, gratitude, hope.  Not blaming, not judging, not hate.  Please, please, please do not spew the hatred of these other people, please do not let the devil turn us and make us sin right along with them.

Open your heart to the wisdom of God.  Let it warm your body from your very heart and radiate through every pore.  His is the only true wisdom.

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Paths

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This quote is from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, one of my all time favorite devotionals.  She wrote down what she felt Jesus telling her.

I especially liked this.  I know a lot of different people on different paths right now.  Some are wandering closer to Jesus, some farther away right now. some are lost, some have found a direct route and are headed as fast as they can to the cross and our Savior.

Here’s the thing:  all of those paths are GOOD.  None are better than others.  Each will have bumps.  And even that person on the direct path is going to hit some construction along the way.  The important thing is that we all end up at the same destination:  the hands of God.

Let Him lead you there.  Let Him take you on your own path.  Don’t expect to follow someone else’s.  Don’t think your path is the only or the best way–it is for YOU, but not someone else.  Let them walk their path and find Jesus in their own faith, in His plan.

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He will hear

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I had to do a lot of waiting to hear what God was going to reply this spring.  And really my whole life.  But isn’t that the way of God?  We ask everyday, He hears, we wait, He answers.  It is the waiting part that is so hard, but also so worth it.  We must just look to God.  Continually look to God.  Continually wait.  He does hear our calls.

Our new house sat on the market, empty, for a year and a half.  Those poor people.  I am sure their waiting was horrid.  But…for me, I am glad it was available.  I almost feel like the house has been waiting for me.  There was just something when I walked through the door.  It needs a lot of TLC and a good deep cleaning, some new paint, and God knows it needs new bathrooms stat.  But none of that mattered to me.  I walked around and saw what it could be.  And God had answered my prayers.  For years I have been wandering realtor.com looking at old houses, just waiting until the day came when I could have one.

I think God looks at us the same way.  He sees what we can be.  Not what we are right now.  He hears us, and He wants us to be more than we imagine.  Sometimes what we ask for isn’t the bigger and better thing He has planned.  So He must wait on us.  Ever thought of it that way?  He hears.  He waits for us.  He knows what wonderful things could be.

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