Learning and becoming

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This is exactly all that my goal entails this year:  I want to learn more about being truly obedient to God, truly wise in my faith, and I want it to to soak into every ounce of my being until it is so embedded into my soul that it becomes who I am.

We can learn to be cranky.  We can learn to be rude.  We can learn to complain.  We can learn to be critical.  You know people like this; it has become who they are.  I don’t think they even realize it is who they have become sometimes.  But those traits have taken over and filled their souls with a bitterness.  It leaks out of them like poison.  I was becoming one of them.   I have had to make some major changes to separate myself and  unlearn some of those behaviors.

That is not who God created us to be.  He wants us to step back, put on the perspectacles, make sure we are learning to  BE LOVING and GRACE FILLED–to our self and to our neighbor.  And to make who we are into what He intended.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Perspectacles

This little owl showed up in my journal sketches one morning and the more I stared at her, I realized she was a wise, but funny and realistic sort of little gal–sort of like me 🙂 Just kidding, I have a lot to learn–but then again isn’t that very realization wisdom?

Glennon over at Momastery coined the word perspectacles, and it is one of my favorite words.  (Can you tell I am a bit of a word nerd?)  Little owl is a lot like Glennon, also.  And she wanted to share a Glennon lesson I decided.

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“Sometimes heaven is just a new pair of glasses.”- Anne Lamott

We all need glasses when it comes to counting our blessings.  We have to remember to look at our surroundings with a fresh perspective.  The need could be new glasses, a new prescription, a good cleaning, or even sunglasses to reduce the glare.

This can be a challenge sometimes.  Today’s culture celebrates possessions:  the nicer and more, the better.  Post Christmas, our house is filled with even more new “things”–I can see them as a mess and think, “Where in the world do I put all this!”

Or I can think of what a blessing it is to have this home, and all of these new possessions.

For now, I have “quieted” our house.  I took down all the holiday decorations yesterday.  I am not putting up anything else for awhile.  I love to move decor and furniture around, Jeff calls it playing house.  Decorating for each holiday and season, and swapping out favorite objects all the time is fun for me and keeps things fresh.  Plus, changing collections that are displayed means they aren’t crowding each other for space and attention.  But for now, I want it pared down to the basics.  Couches, chairs, tables, and the usual artwork on the walls (although a part of me wants to take all of that down also.)

I think of the first disciples.  Jesus called them to ministry by asking them to leave behind all their possessions and follow Him.  They willingly did it.  I consider missionaries in other countries who leave behind the creature comforts we take for granted in America.  I remember the homeless right here in Chicago shivering in the horrible cold.

God has blessed me tremendously, and all of you.  I sit here typing, wrapped in a new quilt, sipping a mug of tea, a fire going in the other room, in new yoga pants and a warm sweatshirt.  My life is full of possessions that make my life easy and comfortable.  I will probably add pieces back into our home to ward off the chill of winter and create a cozy scene for each space, but not yet.

Right now, I will wear my perspectacles and praise God for the basics He gives each day.  I will reflect on giving up the things of this earth to focus on Him.  And look at the excess in my home that I could share with the less fortunate.  Yes, perspectacles can lead to wisdom I think.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Needed it

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What did you screw up recently?

How’s that for the start of  a blog post?

I don’t know about you, but I screw up daily.  I sure need God’s grace.  I crave it.  I ask for it.  I confess I need it.  Every single day.

As the Lutherans would say:  We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.  We have sinned against you in thoughts, words and deeds;  by what we have done and what we have left undone.  We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

And one of the best parts about being a Christian is God knows that I am trying to do the right thing, He sees I can’t do it all the time, even expects it, and He loves and forgives me anyway.

Yep, I need a dose of that every day.

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Metric or English Standard measures don’t matter

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There is a loaded statement.  How many of your blessings are you using in a day?  God gives each of us spiritual gifts.  He has a vision for how we will use them.  Remember, we may not know exactly how He has it planned to play out, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore or waste those talents.

***It also does not mean we have to go nuts doing as much as we can until we are burnt out!  Just gotta throw out that disclaimer for those of us who have a tendency to over do it!***

BUT, if we don’t use them at all, it sure makes it hard for God to bless us through those talents, now doesn’t it?  He can’t bless us very much if we sit on the couch and watch tv constantly or sit and stare into space.  Make sure you are out of the nothing box in your brain.  Can’t use what was lost yesterday, can’t carry it into tomorrow.  Gotta use it today.

For each day we use to His glory, He will give us another.  It may be here, it may be in heaven for eternity.  Eternal life and joy measured out to you…now that is a blessing!  That makes me want to use my faith and talents in abundance just to thank God for that super cool opportunity each and every day.

Can’t be measured in centimeters, pounds, liters, or tablespoons.  It is measured in LIFE.

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Just do what you can

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Same thing, different way to say it.  This time from the Bible—we can’t control it all.  We can’t.  We are human.

We can:

COMMIT to doing what is right and loving.

CLARIFY our love and DECLARE it.

and DO what we can.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Only 2

Scan-019That is right folks.  Every day is a fresh start and the one we should work on.  Can’t go back and change it.  Can’t go forward and plan it or worry about it.

Remember:  Low expectations for all the things out of our control.

God tested me this Christmas.  My family tried to make all sorts of plans to get together, which, when you all live in different states can be tricky.  And you know what?  Little of it worked out.  One family got sick, another needed to stay with other family members.  Jeff planned to smoke ribs for our Christmas Day dinner, but when he got his present out of the box, it was damaged.  So we had nachos.  I know, super special and fancy.

God had a vision for our holiday, and it was not the one I had forseen.  But as usual, His was better.

My sister broke down and got a dog for her family to make up for not getting to travel and being sick.  They are all very excited and an adorable dog is saved.

Instead of celebrating here, we are going to be at my parent’s house, and will get to celebrate with more people, who are in need of family at this time.

Instead of having a fancy dinner, we snuggled on the couch with nachos and giggles and capped it off with a nerf gun war.  Not formal–but actually more connecting.

We had the ribs two days later when Jeff could focus and play with his new toy all day and when we were all that much more thankful.

We stayed in Lockport, attended church here, and someone had the opportunity to share with me–they saw my faith during the service–and ya’ll know I needed to hear that!  God be workin’ on my Goal!

We have to trust that God’s vision is going to be bigger and greater than ours ever could be.  We have to trust that big or small problems can lead to bigger and better understanding, clarity, and life overall.  We can’t see the future, we can’t change the past.  We can work in the moment right now to make it the best we can, we can obey and comply, we can LOVE.  Today only.  And God will take care of the rest.

So how did God change your holiday plans?  Can you see ways it may have been a part of his bigger goal?  Some of the changes may have been devastating, but hopefully they pulled you closer to HIM.

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Washed Clean

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In preparation for the new growth this year:  remember Christ washes us clean, removes all stains, and helps us grow in His light when we believe.  All living things need water to grow and live.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Wishes vs Blessings

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Remember that crazy million number of moments we have?  Remember how most of those are moments of happiness, goodness, and blessings?  As many as all the dandelion petals in a yard bright with yellow turned white.

We can look at that yard as full of weeds, blowing into everyone else’s yard poisoning the green.

Or we can look at it like children:  a full sweep of flowers to play love me/love me not, a million chances to blow the spindly little seeds miles away on breezes of wishes, hundreds of stems to curl around themselves in spirals of joy.  Each of those things a little blessing in and of itself.

How will you look at the world this year?  Will you make wishes?  Will you count the blessings you already have?  Will you look at both through new eyes?

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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5 Goals: Demolished

Yeah, this post ended up long too.  God is putting a lot of words in my mouth as usual.  So if the posts are too much, coming too fast, just look at the artwork.  But if you want to know more….read on bloggy friends.Scan-035I had the drawing of the hand first in my journal.  Then I came across these words on Pinterest and I knew just where I wanted them.

DEMOLISH.  Isn’t that a fun word?  Sometimes I love the English language.  Another word lately I am loving is DANGLING.  I like how they feel rolling around my mouth, how they move my lips, the sounds they make.  I do not like the words moist, treat or Lord.  Yuck.  They feel funny.

Anyway, I digress.  DEMOLISH, not only does it sound good, it is overflowing with meaning.  It is not just to finish, not just done, it is:

de·mol·ish
[dih-mol-ish]
VERB (USED WITH OBJECT)
1.
to destroy or ruin (a building or other structure), especially on purpose; tear down; raze.
2.
to put an end to; destroy; explode: The results of his research demolished many theories.
3.
to lay waste to; ruin utterly: The fire demolished the area.
4.
Informal. to devour completely: We simply demolished that turkey.
OOOOO, there are more favorite words in there:  DEVOUR, EXPLODE, RAZE, RUIN.
That is what I want to do with my goals this year!  How about you?  What if we each set just five goals.  One for each finger.  And then what if we exploded them?  Demolished each goal one by one by one?  What if by the end of the year we had devoured each one and razed our life?  Broke it down on purpose to RAISE up a new life?  To utterly and completely be in our own life?
That could be pretty powerful.  I just got goosebumps thinking about it.  It is a little scary, don’t you think?  But think of the power that could have in our lives!  The positive effects that could take place.  The goals could be anything:  big things, tiny pieces of one big goal, moderately sized conditions.
You know my main goal:  OBEY.  My other four are pieces of that big one:  one for artwork, one for reading, one for my family, and one for my head.  If I can count those out on my phalanges then the thumb will be almost complete.
I hope you are able to demolish some goals this year.

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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A new year, a new goal

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I lied, this post is chatty.  I promise to make the next few less wordy.  But this one needs the length.

Last year I couldn’t decide on a “word” for the year.  I tried to use several, and I lost focus about July.  I was still trying to stretch and grow into God’s plans for me, and that I think I accomplished.

I am not really a resolution kind of girl.  I never follow through on those.  I am a list maker, so perhaps those count as goals?  Yes, probably as goals.  As last year waned, my life changed, and as I became introspective, one thought seemed to surface more and more:  I want to do God’s will.  As more and more of the artwork was faith based, as more and more of the blog posts were faith based as well, I looked at myself critically.

And not in a bad, depression way, but clearly.  And specifically, I looked at my faith and my role as a Christian, or Christ follower or disciple, in particular.  Moving churches , a new study, and looking back at many of the experiences that have shaped my faith helped precipitate this. I have been thinking a lot about what I believe, why I believe, how I believe, what is comforting worship to me vs. what others prefer, and how I practice what I believe.   I want to be able to articulate the answers to all of those questions better.

I know that I have always had a deep faith in Jesus.  I have questioned all sorts of doctrines and theologies, denominations, I went through a feminist stage in college, and the result is my faith has become my own, not just beliefs my parents or a church indoctrinated.  I have always been a church goer, and served at each parish.  I have always felt like I practiced religion, and yet I have had many people discount my faith as not worthy, not as good, not as deep, not as pure, not the same.

Why?  So, other questions came to my mind.  Does my faith show on the outside?  Do I come across as a disciple or a hypocrite?  Am I a Samaritan or a Pharisee?  And do I question and judge the faith of others right back?

Which leads me to this year’s word and goal:  OBEY.  I want to really study what God planned for me.  And not just stretch into it, but to accept it wholeheartedly and to run with it.  Not what I think He wants, but what He wants.  I used the good ole thesaurus to look up meanings and synonyms.  I love assent.  I am willingly giving over my life.  I am going to comply with His rules, His expectations, His commands.  I want my faith to be visible.  I never want someone to question the sincerity of my faith ever again.

Be prepared.  This might be a common topic this year.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Live long and Prosper

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This is a popular verse.  I do really like it.  This artwork is from last summer, but as I was reading a study recently it brought up this particular verse in relationship to people taking it out of context.  So I was curious and looked it up.  My guess is that the study author is referring to people looking for prosperity of material things.

In context, it is a letter Jeremiah sent to the elders of the Israelites who were exiles in Babylonia.  They were to establish homes, go ahead and live life, and pray for the welfare of the state.  God promises that after seventy years He will listen and restore them, bringing them back together as a nation.  Nothing about winning a lottery, long life–in fact you are going to be lucky to last the seven decades in reality, getting what you want, or immediate satisfaction here.

Interesting.

Like so many other verses in the Bible, God is not promising immediate action.  He does not promise earthly wealth.  God promises HIS prosperity and hope.  He does think of us, always planned to bring Christ, always planned grace, always planned to pull us back to Him.  What could show more prosperity than that?

My hope is that my faith will prosper so that I can live in the promise that I will return to Jesus one day.  That sounds like a pretty good reward to me.  What do you think?

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Be Awesome

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Have you ever seen Kid President?  I love this kid.  (Click the purple to see him.)  I could watch him everyday, all of his videos.  Such simple words, from an adorable kid.  The story behind him is inspiring, too.  Plus, he likes to dance.  That’s always a bonus in my book.

It’s funny when you focus on good stuff, how it seems to pour out of you.  When you try to do what God intended for you it just flows.  The last two months I have been flooded with art.  Between ideas from ya’ll and my devotions and just God working I had four journals going at once.  I would paint in one, and then while it dried, I would paint in another, and another, and another.  I couldn’t help myself.  I have scanned in something like 80 new pieces this month.  And I still haven’t shared everything from last summer.  I know, I am out of control.  Jeff thinks I should stop painting,  but then what the heck am I going to do?  Explode?

Well, kind of.  I am going to explode this blog.  If I don’t start blasting you with art I am never going to get my library of work organized.  So be prepared people!  I have a piece a day coming your way for the next two months.  I may not write, I may let the art stand alone.  But then again, I do get chatty.  We’ll just have to see.  I am warning you now.

What are you going to do to be awesome this year?

 

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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A super moment

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There is one moment that stands out among all moments:  Christ’s birth.  And the angels proclaimed it because it was outstandingly special.

Luke 2: 10-14

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people;  to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign for you; you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

Let us all proclaim it with shouts of joy this night.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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86,400 Goodness

Oh, God can be so good.  When we stop and look at all the little blessings in a day we can be reminded of this, even in the Blue of December, the bleak mid-winter.  It might be a box of oranges and sand and seashells–summer in a box from a precious Texas cousin.  It might be smiling faces of loved ones on Christmas cards.  It might be the sweetness of a cookie.  It might be a joke in your favorite holiday movie.  It might be the glow of an Advent candle.

 

Look for them.  Notice the thousands of moments that God gives us each day.  There are 86,400 seconds in a day.  Surely at least half of them are good.  Even if they are when you are sleeping, filled with rest and peace.

Let’s do a little mind blowing math.

That is 31,536,000 opportunities a year to feel blessed.  If you have a MILLION good moments, that is a lot of thankful for.  Ten percent is 3 million moments.  THREE million, and that is only ten percent.  Three million are probably bad, too.

So if three million are really good, and three million are bad, that still leaves 25, 536,000 moments of in the middle.  That is a lot.

God is good.  All the time.Scan-016

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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