Then what?

IMG_0008Here is the hard part.  We have to let go of the fear.  We have to let go of past transgressions.  We have to let go of past worries.  AND of the new ones to come….

AND MOVE ON.  Break free.  Fly like doves.

THAT is crazy hard.

One of my favorite parts of the Lutheran service is confession.  We all stand there before God and we purge the past week.  Together.  We all purge our souls and the past and hand it over to Jesus and He reminds us each week we are wiped clean and how much we need HIM.  Born again every week.

Lord, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts that we may love you more.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and your truth is not in us.

We confess that we are in bondage to sin, and cannot free ourselves.  We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.  We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.  For the sake of Jesus, have mercy on us.  forgive us, renew us, lead us to walk in your ways and delight in your glory.

But you know what?  We are human.  Even with confession, not every brick of that wall gets purged.  We hold on to some of the bricks.  Some of the mortar is still strong.  Mortar of fear.  Some of our fears and transgressions stay with us.  I think God expects that.  But He knows, we will eventually let go if we keep trying.  He knows each week if we trust in Him that we will purge more.  That we will trust that He will be there to help us fly.  He is there waiting for us to break free of each individual struggle each and every day.

And watch us fly.

 

 

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Guess what?

Hee, hee.  So, some of you may have seen this one…appears I scheduled it for Sept. 7 instead of October 7.   I am putting it back in its correct order…but this is a good one for every day to remind us…sorry about my mistake.IMG_0025

 

See?????

God PROMISES it!!!!

God did not create us to fear.  He created us with souls capable of so much love and joy.  It is when we think we must control everything and keep all the crud out and don’t listen to our own good sense that fear takes over.

Why are we like chicken little?

Why do we believe all the internet and news says?  Why do we dwell on it?  Why do we worry it will happen to us?

NOW….I am not saying we cannot take precautions and be ready.

For example, I put on bug spray–sound mind.  I don’t want the mosquitoes to bite me–spirit of love.  But I will enjoy the forest, mosquitoes or not.  And sometimes.  In a spirit of love for others and self.  A mosquito must die.  But I will not live in fear of the mosquito.  I will not stop living in fear of the mosquito.

Get my drift?

Which will you focus on?  The spirit of fear that comes from evil….or the spirit of love and sound mind that GOD gave you?

 

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guess how?

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How do we let go of fear?

1.  Trust God.  Trust that good things will eventually happen.  Trust.

2.  Climb the ladder to love.  That is the best part of the gospel of Jesus.  It is about LOVING.  Love always conquers fear.

3.  Consciously stop worrying. Let love happen.

Love will always win.

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guess why?

IMG_0002Cuz’ here is the thing:  God has our backs.  Crud or good stuff.  Fear or not.  God has this.  All the time.

Now sometimes, I need a quick little jaunt away to remind myself of this.  Probably you do, too.  Sometimes it is way too easy to fall into the fear trap.

And God is there to give us the way out.  To give us all we need.

 

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I will not fear

IMG_0005Holy cow.  There are a lot of things we could be afraid about.   A lot of worrying that could be done.  And you know where it gets ya?  NOWHERE.  Fast.

I would not say that I am an optimist.  But I would classify myself as a realist.  Crud happens.  True story.  Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, you gotta go through it.

But why should we fear crud?  I mean it is Crud!  A quote I saw a while back said worrying is like praying for the crud to happen.  So true.

I hate waiting.  I hate anticipating.  Because half the time, something goes wrong.  Something changes…sometimes for the BETTER.    I know.  Crazy.  Didn’t see that coming.

Sometimes, we have to NOT live in fear of bad things happening.  Wait, take that back.  ALL the TIME we should not live in fear.  A -L-L the T-I-M-E.

Live each day.  Maybe not to the fullest, big wonderful movie making moment . Maybe the fullest includes doing a whole lotta nothin’.  Just live.

 

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A sojourn

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Last week I hit a wall.  I was overtired, not feeling well, and completely overwhelmed.  Completely surrounded.  I NEEDED space.  Physical space to make space for emotional roominess.

So, I did.  My parents have a home they are selling, and it is empty.  So I went there for an overnight.

First I emptied my brain and just let my body take over.  I trimmed bushes and cleaned off flower beds.  No music, no podcasts, no one to talk.   Just me.  Enjoying the labor.  And the next day, more of the same.   I sat and manically created paintings and journals.  Again, just the sounds of birds and trees.

And you know what  struck me:  I enjoyed the sight of a FINISHED PRODUCT.  I loved seeing that pile of sticks grow.  I loved seeing a clean and tidy space that won’t get bad again for at least a year.  I was so excited to see that giant pile of finished artwork.

Because that is the hard part of IMPORTANT WORK AT HOME.  There are no finished products.  My kids will always evolve and need new guidance.  (Heck, I called my own parents and I am almost 40!)  My marriage is always going to need a bit of polishing.  That laundry and pile of dishes….wait, I don’t even want to think about how quickly they return.  Hardly ever is there an end point in this journey.

I am so glad I took the time to rest.  I needed it and the perspective it afforded me.  It helped me realize what was wrong is really alright.  It helped me realize I can’t control or change it.  I am always surrounded by people.  I am never going to see a completely finished project.

And that is okay.

As long as I take time to rest on the journey and at least enjoy what I have accomplished so far.

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Listening…

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Do you hear that still, small voice?  Have you taken the time to listen?  Can you hear the music in the trees?  Are you letting the colors form into songs?

I am.  I am on break from homeschooling.  Early Columbus Day/Veteran’s Day/Teacher Inservice day/substitute day.  Whatever you want to call it.  I am going on walks to listen by myself.    But, I am taking the kids, too.  We are going to go listen to trees.  We are going to listen to God’s creation and decipher what is being said.

I wholeheartedly believe there is no better way to listen to God than to get right up close to what HE created.  Not man-made, but GOD-MADE.

Listen.

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Go for a Walk

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A walk can do the soul a lot of good.  It is one of my best ways to calm down.  To refresh, literally to breathe in some different (hopefully) cleaner air.  To clear my mind.  To pray and talk with HIM.  I need that alone time.

I am an introvert…I get my energy from doing things on my own.  I enjoy people and love to be around them.  But I can’t do it all the time.  I have to make space for myself to re-energize.

I am in need of some of that space.  This is the hardest part of homeschooling.  As I talked with my mom and some homeschooling friends yesterday I realized 1) I have brought this on myself by not setting aside time and by giving into the demands of those around me and 2) my recent meltdowns have a lot to do with my own perceptions and expectations.

Now…that being said there are some things that my kids especially need to get done.  On a daily basis. By themselves.  Thinking on their own.

I have allowed them to make me think for them.

So I am going to take a walk.   No dog, no kids, no spouse, no friends.  Not alone…but with God.  I am going to confess to Him what I have done and what I have left undone. I am going to take the time to really talk to Jesus and refocus, revitalize, re-energize.  I have a feeling that will help.   I’ll come back to them ready to walk with them each and every day.

And that is why I will turn to Jesus and walk with Him all of my days.

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Where?

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Do you remember that book The Purpose Driven Life  by Rick Warren.  I never got through it.  I was too young really.  I was in the baby steps stages.

Heck, I am still in the baby steps!

But I think I know my purpose.  God is showing it to me right here.  I am supposed to be sharing my faith through art and supporting the faith of others.

Now….I still don’t know my right from my left.  (Sad, but true.)  I have NO IDEA what 90% of the roads around me are named (just turn left at the yellow tree, right at the green house, go by the duck in rain gear).  I still measure how long it takes to get somewhere in songs and time (it is 3 movies to my parents, 2 songs to the grocery store, and an hour to go anywhere in Chicago).  I struggle with GPS (she recalculates constantly and is always telling me to make legal u-turns).

BUT, I know where my paints are!  Where and When are up in the air.  I hope Jesus calls me to big things.  We’ll see!

How about you?  What is your where or when in this giant Candy Land game of Life?

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Life and Laughter

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This is the title and tagline for a comedienne I know, Tracy DeGraaf.  Great lady.  She is doing a show at the end of the month and I really want to go.  You should go…I will post the info on the facebook page.

But life happens.  I planned in August things for ME.  I thought…now is the time!  I am going to start recharging Me!  I can do things I enjoy!  I can meet with my friends!  I can make art and sell it!  I am not volunteering, I will have so much more time!

Laugh with me here.  Loud.  Cue lots of moms laughing hysterically.

I was so silly!

I bought tickets to a play, I signed up to go to a retreat through church with good friends, I looked up concerts for favorite Christian bands, I promised to go to the comedy show.  I have a craft show planned.  I am participating in gallery shows.

Uh, huh.  Silly.  I am not sure ANY of that is happening now.

BECAUSE the kids schedules gelled.  I am pretty good about making them only sign up for ONE thing.  I was adamant about this starting in early childhood.  Or at least I THOUGHT so.

But, ONE thing means THREE days a week.  And Phoebe, miss 11 year old, is doing more than ONE.

Plus, we have homeschool and the art lessons I teach.

And there are two of us parents, two cars, and Jeff is coaching.  So now that there is baseball, football, and dance all at the same time and every Friday night, every one, and every Saturday…guess what is getting cut.

Yep.  LAUGH.  THAT IS ALL I CAN DO.  Because otherwise I am going to cry.  I will smile at all of them, and darn it, they better smile back.

But really, I should laugh.  Because I am blessed with three talented children and I love sharing in their joys.  They are important work.  And they make me laugh and smile all the time.

Now I understand why my retired parents are living it up right now….hmmm.  Life happens, doesn’t it?

 

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Wonderful Angelou #2

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What a wonderful thought!  Each and every day is fresh and filled with promise.  Even if I wake up back aching, nose stuffy, still tired, to a packed schedule.  It is fantastic.  I am alive.  There could be all sorts of great surprises that can happen.  I have the chance to love and laugh.  That is wonderful and new.

How about you?  What promises does your day hold?  What will be the wonderful thing growing in the garden of your life that blooms today?  Will you raise your face to the sunshine?  Will you look forward?

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maya Angelou inspired #1

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I painted this last spring right after Maya Angelou died.  I read many of her books and was always inspired by her prose and her attitude.

This one is so appropriate for this time of year with everyone going back to school.  Teachers are such an important part of life.  They affect the very threads of our social and cultural fabric.  Thank you to all of you who devote your lives to training others, no matter the age.

And not just in public school (which is only centuries old).  Most of our learning does not occur within the walls of a public school–as I discussed last week.  It takes place at home.  In our churches.  In nature.  In stores.  On dance floors and little league fields.  On sidewalks and roads.

Think of ALL of the people you learn from on a daily basis!  Think of ALL you learn each and every day still.  (And if you are not still learning you are in a heap of trouble people!)  Think of ALL the people you are teaching and touching.

This blog is one of the many ways I get to share what I am learning.  Thank you for all of the comments back last week.  I learned, I taught. You learned, I hope that you shared and taught as well.

Let’s do great work together.  Let’s make Maya proud.  Let’s make GOD PROUD.

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And then He did more: Goose bump moment!

IMG_0023Goose bumps time.  Do you ever have those God moments when you know He was working and something happens and you are suddenly covered in goose bumps???  I do.

I had a big one the other day.  And it involves this artwork.  God is just so awesome.

We visited our good friends’ church a couple weeks ago.  Annika’s best friend decided to be baptized.  Their church does it in a river and we wanted to be there for him.  It was our first experience with this kind of baptism and it was incredible.

We were running late and I grabbed the card for him and four prints of my artwork.  I handed them to Annika in the car to let her choose–either one or all –for her friend.  She chose one.  That leaves 3, right?

We get to the service.  Outside by a river, gorgeous day.  Very moving.  Two other people are being baptized and then a third stands up.  3.  And the verse for the day and focus of the sermon:  the one above, Colossians 2:7.

So I realize, hey!  I have 3 prints I will give those to the other 3 new brothers and sisters in Christ.  So here I am, complete stranger handing these over to a teenage boy and two adults in their 50s or 60s I would guess.  I gave the one above to the teen.

So I am not sure what happened in between…but the print of this verse ended up on the windshield of the pastor’s car.  So for him, this was a total surprise.  He does not know me or my artwork.  He does not know that I handed this out.  It just ends up with him–what his sermon series started with last week and is focusing on specifically the next Sunday.  He has a God moment–how in the world did this artwork get completed, end up at a service by the river, and then on his car???  He decides to use it in his powerpoint for the sermon.

Our friends go to church, are listening to him telling his God moment story and the sermon and then my artwork is put on the screen and stays there for 10 minutes or so.  Several other people in the church know me through them and recognize it as well, and all are flabbergasted by how this came about.  And they share the story with me.

Cool, huh?  I cried when they told me.  Happy, proud and humble,tears.

This is what my artwork and this blog are about.  God moments.  God working through me to share His word and power.  Using my artwork to touch others.  To bring joy and peace to those around me, and around the world.

Thank you to all of you who share these stories with me.  They mean the world to me.  Thanks for being here.

Now, go share my artwork!  🙂  God moments abound!

 

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Jesus called

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See???  I am telling you, Jesus called me this week.  He plans this blog people, not me.

He knew He needed to remind me that the important work was at home.

He knew He needed to remind me that teaching and being there for my kids is not a distraction, it is the most important job I have.

He knew that I needed to be reminded that Jesus is not looking for perfection.  We are going to need a panic bag.  We are going to stumble.  We are going to need to get our perspective put right.

Jesus needed to remind me that with every breath He is there with me teaching them.  That it is my job to let my children in on on that super powerful learning and important life skill–turning to Jesus.  Giving it to HIM.  Letting HIM lead.  That they are looking to me to be an example of a Christ follower.

They see me reading my Bible, creating these artworks, going to church, serving others, praying, singing his songs of praise.  Talk about important home schooling.  Not indoctrinating, but modeling.  MODELING.  How crazy important.

I hope that these last blog posts have been good for you as well.  You got a glimpse into my days that is for sure.  Some of you have kids, some of you are teachers, some of you homeschool.  A lot of you don’t.  So I hope that you were able to find something in the artworks and even in my posts that encouraged you to do great work at home.  With those close to you who are not a distraction, but important pieces of your day.  I hope that you will remember Christ does not call us to perfection, but to just follow and do what we can in every step and moment.

 

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Children are Important & a homeschooling panic bag

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continuing from the last post…

Great work.  Important work.  Home work on family and self.

I took that one step further, I homeschool our three kids.  God planned these posts.

I am struggling with this important work.  God knew I needed these artworks.

Homeschooling my two daughters is easy peasy lemon squeezy.  They are born students.  They enjoy learning, do not mind doing the paperwork (too much), and catch onto concepts very easily.  My son is not the same.

He brought a brown paper lunch bag to class the other morning.  He says, “This is our panic bag.  wWhen I get frustrated with you mom, I can breathe in this.”   Funny, but so true.

My panic bag moment:  I actually went to the pubic elementary to talk to the principal this week.  She is a wonderful woman who I respect greatly.  Her background in alternative education actually makes her a proponent of homeschooling.  She gets it.  And she is an invaluable resource to me.  She helped me feel more comfortable again about Tanner’s learning.  And feel more convicted that I am doing important work with him and we are progressing just fine, thank you.

You see Tanner, as she reminded me, is a normal first grade boy with little interest or focus on learning.  That is what I needed to hear.  Schoolwork is going to be different for him since he is a boy.  I have to remember he is still a first grader.  He is a kinesthetic and auditory learner:  he can spit back information he hears me teaching the girls and he can recite anything put to motions and song.  He HATES to put anything on paper.  It is torture for BOTH of us.  He needs lots of breaks for snacks, play, or to just run around the outside of the house four times.  Not kidding.

When I want to just get him to do his work, just read the words on the page (not the story he made up from looking out the window), or just finish a project without telling me four jokes–when I am frustrated with him beyond belief–when the girls are ready to throw their books at him–we have to remember.  He is HIM.  He is important.  And just learning the rote of sitting, writing, focusing is HARD for Tanner.  Just this is IMPORTANT GREAT WORK.

Every time I see that panic bag sitting on his desk it reminds me:  we are doing okay, we don’t have to get frustrated, we can take our time, he will get it.  It reminds me of all the great ideas my mom (a special education teacher by trade and theater extraordinaire) gave me of how we can make learning more kinesthic and fun.  It reminds me to put away the workbook and get out the playdoh for him and then make his own books.

We both breathe easier just seeing that reminder.  He is one smart kid.  He made it funny.

He played his first flag football game last night.  I was so proud of him:  not for athletic prowess, but because he got IT.  He listened to his coaches, he was the first one in his correct spot, he followed the directions, he played fair, he was kind to his teammates, he was cracking jokes (of course).  I saw the important work we have been doing out there on the field.  He may not know all of his sight words and he might write every number backwards, but what I really NEED him to learn is happening.  He is a good kid who will be just fine out in the big world.

THAT my friends is important.  THAT is the greatest work I will ever do.

Ya’ll made me cry this morning.  Thanks for letting me share with you.

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