About This Blog

The butterfly picture in the upper left corner is a symbol and reminder for me of the spiritual process. Sometimes I am the caterpillar - barely able to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes I find myself in that dark place of the soul, and I remind myself that it is simply my cocoon. While all may seem dark, and I may feel like everything is totally disintegrating around me (and in me!) a miracle is at work in my life and I will soon be able to fly! I love those days where I experience the butterfly in my life! The ability to fly above all the mundane earthy matters and remember the truth and experience God's power in tangible ways in my life are wonderful times indeed that occur more and more often as I continue this journey! Thank you, God!

If you are so inclined, I invite you to journey with me as we seek the promised land together. While I hope to share some "faithbooking" (scrapbook pages or artistic journaling about my faith journey), much of the time the journey may well be seen in words, rather than pictures. I invite you to create your own pictures. How do these things play out in your life? I'd love to hear from you about your own spiritual journey!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Give ALL?

It's a little hard to read from the picture above, but it says, "They gave from their ABUNDANCE . . . She gave ALL she owned, ALL she had to live on".  NASB says, They gave "out of their surplus" . . . she gave "all she had to live on."  This is Mark's rendition of the story of the widow's offering (Mark 12: 41-44 - and also in Luke 21:1-4) - four short verses that pack a powerful punch!  Jesus told the disciples that the widow, in giving 2 tiny coins, gave more than any of the others with their generous gifts.

I sat there pondering these verses.  God, is this what you expect of me?  Am I to give all I have to live on?  What about prudently setting aside for retirement?  As I sat with these questions, I realized how challenging that would be for me to do!  But as I continued thinking about it, that still small voice whispered to me, "Cheryl, while I might require that of you some day, that is NOT what I'm asking today.  Today this concept applies to a different resource - your time!"  

OUCH!  That morning I had been doing a bit of whining to God (yeah, I know, not my best choice!).  But I had been feeling so overwhelmed.  My current job, which I believe he has called me to do (at least for now), keeps me SOOO busy - with very little visible return for such an investment of time!  Before I had such responsibilities, I used to be much better able to meet the needs of friends and family, making cards, spending time thinking about and making gifts, making meals & entertaining, talking for hours on the phone, . . . .   But with this current job, it is SUCH a challenge to do any of that.  And yet I KNOW people are the most important, and showing them that I care - and through me that God cares - is an important part of my ministry!  I felt challenged enough when wanting to spend quite a bit of time with my daughter to help her celebrate her birthday, but now my husband's aunt is getting to the point where she really needs an assisted living situation - and might need to stay with us while that situation is being worked out.  How can I do it all and still have the time for myself that I need to stay sane?  

This was the mind-set from which I approached my devotions yesterday morning.  Frankly, I was sort of hoping that God would say I could quit my job to have more spare time for these other things.  But that wasn't His response.  I'm not called to give of my SPARE time.  I am called to give ALL of my time - including that which I feel I need to myself in order to stay sane (all I need to live on). 

Now, I want to make this clear.  I wasn't told to give all my time to other people.  I was told to give it to GOD.  Despite my selfish tendencies, I know this is indeed the right thing to do, and that as I do so, I will once again find that "His yoke is easy and His burden is light."  I just have to be willing to totally let Him set my priorities and have ALL of my time.  I KNOW I can trust Him to provide for my needs time-wise, just like He does financially, and spiritually, and in so many ways.

Father, I have heard you, and I choose to follow your direction.  Father, I give you my schedule - all of my time.  It's not mine anyway.  I'm merely a steward for the gift of time you have given me.  Father, I seek your guidance for how you choose it to be distributed, and if I forget, or get off track, please remind me and keep me on the right path.  As I pray, He whispers to me, "I will, child.  I've promised to make your steps secure so your feet won't slip."(Ps 18:36). Thank you, Father!   

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Me and My House

As for me and my house . . . I've been pondering this verse for several days.  At first, it was in conjunction with the idea that each morning I can make new choices, and the importance of making a new choice when I'm not happy with the old one.  

This is an important reminder for me, but this morning as I was again thinking about this verse, something else jumped out at me - "as for me and my HOUSE". I've always thought of this as simply saying, "me and my family" - or perhaps "me and my household".   I'm sure it DOES mean that, but it means more than that.  The word translated "house" can be used in the widest of meanings.  One of which literally means HOUSE.  

Me and my HOUSE - do they BOTH serve God?  I know that there are several ways in which my house does indeed serve God.  For example, I often host dinners in my house and I know that showing hospitality is one way that Me and My House can serve God.  But this morning, as I lay in bed thinking about this, I could see the mess on my night stand, the carpet that needed to be cleaned, etc. And the answer came back - no, there are aspects of my house do NOT serve the Lord.  I was again reminded of the verse in Colossians 3:23 - "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men".  I need to continue with the project I started several months ago to streamline things in my home so I can keep it clean with less fuss.  It doesn't matter if it's a room that others are less likely to see - God sees it!  I want my entire home (as well as myself) to serve the Lord. 

As I continue to think on this verse, I realize there is another meaning for the word "house" that is important for me to think about.  My BODY is the temple or "house" of God.  How well is THAT house serving God?  Once again, there are certainly several ways in which it IS serving God.  But I certainly have some house cleaning to do there too.  There is still plenty of room for improvement so far as regular exercise and other healthful practices are concerned.  As for me and my house . . .

Father, I love you!  You are so gentle as you point out changes I need to make in my life!   Father, I want both me AND my house to serve you in every way!  You know the challenges I face with time constraints and prioritizing the many things on my list - to say nothing of energy and willingness to do things I find less inspiring.  Father, thank you that you continue to work in me both to WILL and to DO of your good pleasure (Phil 2:13).  Father, may my choices - this day and EVERY day - be in alignment with your will.  May both ME and MY HOUSE serve you this day, Father!  Thank you!

Monday, September 19, 2016

A New Creature

Recently as I was lying awake talking to God in the early morning hours, I was feeling pretty discouraged.  I had been working to establish better eating habits, and had REALLY blown it the night before.  When I awoke I not only felt bloated, but felt like giving up completely.  Father God, why is it that it is SOOO easy for me to fall back into my old eating habits?  Father, you've promised you have the power to heal this in me.  What is wrong?

That still small voice came back to me saying, "Daughter, this is a new day.  Choose again." Two verses immediately came to mind (my paraphrase):
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 - If anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creature.
  •  Lamentations 3:22-23 - God's love and mercy is renewed for us every morning.
I know this is where I need to put my focus.  God is creating a NEW creation in me and His mercy is new every morning.  Yesterday is gone.  I may be disappointed in myself for actions taken yesterday, but rather than wallowing in my discouragement, I need to seek forgiveness and open once again to God's power in my life to make a new choice.

It's really very simple - though not always easy.  Make a new choice.  Choose THIS day whom I will serve. (Joshua 24:15).

Father, It's so hard for me to fathom your loving kindness, your mercy, your willingness to forgive!  I can get so frustrated with myself and so discouraged when I find myself doing things I do not want to do (like Paul talked about in Romans chapter 7). When I feel my own discouragement, it can be really hard to believe that you won't give up on me!  Thank you for your promises to me and for your unfailing love that renews EVERY morning!  Thank you that Jesus overcame the things of this world and that you are working IN ME to destroy the power that sin holds over me.  I see this sort of as a cancer, eating away at me causing things in my life that I DO NOT WANT.  I am so grateful that you as the Great Physician are performing the necessary surgery and any necessary accompanying treatment (chemo? radiation?) to totally remove that insidious contagion from my life!  Thank you for the promises you've given - that I am a NEW CREATURE in Christ and that your love and mercy are new every morning.  Father, once again this day I choose to serve YOU!!!  Please work in me to bring my will and actions into alignment with your will for me.  I love you, Father!
As usual, you can read more about how I created this page on my papercrafting blog here. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Door Is Open

A few days ago I posted about the OPEN DOOR mentioned in Revelation 3:8.  At that same time, as I delved deeper into the meaning of the words in the original language, I was given a paraphrase of the passage in Revelation 3:7-13 that had a great deal of meaning for me.  It felt like God's voice directly to me speaking about some issues I was facing and questions I had about my work life in particular.  What a blessing to be given such a direct answer to my questions!  

The summary of the message was simple.  Cheryl, the door is OPEN.  Don't hesitate to step through, the prize on the other side is meant for YOU!

Yesterday, as I was preparing to post the page about Jesus stilling the waves on the sea, I was reminded of this paraphrase, and decided the message belong in my Bible, on the back of the picture of the open door.  You can see the result in the picture above.  The private message is printed on a hidden panel attached with washi tape on one side and a velcro closure (hidden behind the heart) on the other, but the summary of the message is on the visible side of that panel.  (NOTE: This only works because it is attached to an insert page.  Please do not try adding a velcro closure to a delicate Bible page!)

It reminds me of the importance of stepping through the open doors God sets before me with gratitude and praise.  And I find myself thinking of my blog readers.  What open doors has God set before YOU?  

Father, today I am so grateful for the open doors you've set before me!  Thank you for the courage you give to step through each one, and the opportunities and blessings you give!  Father, I think in a special way of my blog readers today.  What doors have you opened for them?  May they be filled with your courage to step through those doors you've set before them, and experience the peace that you give that is not dependent on circumstances.  Thank you, Father, for your guidance, for the wisdom and strength that you give to see us through the tasks you give us each day. I love you, Father.
For more on how I created this page - check here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Spirit of Fear?

Yesterday was our first day back from a vacation focused on much needed rest and relaxation.  Since it was Sunday, I continued my rest and relaxation to a large extent, but this morning as I awakened, I had my mind on the many things that needed to get done - things to do to take care of my spiritual health, things to do to take care of my physical health, things to do to take care of my home, things to do to perform the work-related tasks that were before me. . . .  As I contemplated the many things I could do with my time, I recognized a bit of anxiety welling in me.  So many things - so little time.  What was the best use of my time?  Where should I focus my energy?

As I lay awake talking to God about my to-do list, and visualizing the various tasks, I heard that still small voice whispering to me.  "Cheryl, you are worried about many things. (Luke 10:41) I came that you might enjoy life and live abundantly. (John 10:10)  In fact, the JOY of the Lord is your strength! (Nehemiah 8:10) It saddens me to see you so worried about what you should do.  I've told you 'whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might as joyful service to me!' (Eccl 9:10, Col 3:23) And  I've encouraged you to ask for wisdom, spoken of the perils of being double-minded, and explained the importance of living your life with "no wavering." (James 1:5-8)  No matter what you would choose to do in your current mind-set, you would be anxious!  But I want you to live a life of joy! (Phil 4:4)"

I was immediately convicted.  I knew He was right.  I had been allowing the spirit of worry to live through me no matter what decision I made about what I would do.  But that wasn't the spirit I wanted within me!  I want God's spirit of love and trust and joy within me - ALWAYS.  Father, forgive me!  Thank you for showing me what I was doing! Please cast out that spirit of worry and replace it with your perfect love, peace, and trust in you.  Thank you, Father.

The picture that came to mind immediately after that realization and repentance was of the disciples in the boat on the lake - terrified of the waves that were being whipped up by the gale-force winds, while Jesus slept in the back of the boat. (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25) The picture was more compelling for me because we recently spent time on a lake in a kayak, dealing with waves that were by no means whipped by a gale, but were frightening enough for me since I haven't spent a lot of time in a kayak and hadn't expected to see any waves on the lake at all.

This story of the disciples facing the waves is FOR ME!  And Jesus' words are also for me.  To that anxious voice in my mind, Jesus says, "Peace, be still" and then asks me "Why are you so timid?  How is it that you have no faith?"  As I feel the calm settle over my soul and as I remember the truth that God is in charge and is working ALL THINGS for my good (Rom 8:28), I am SO grateful!  Grateful for the reminder, grateful for the truth, grateful for the peace and joy that comes with remembering the truth.

Thank you, Father!  I am so grateful that you are in charge of my life and that I can trust you.  Father, please banish these pesky anxieties from my life.  Instead, I choose to trust in your gift of faith and to trust you to give me the direction I need.  Thank you that you are the loving God that you are!  I'm so grateful to know that you want me to ENJOY life!  How much better it is to trust you and perform the tasks you set before me with joy and praise instead of with worry!  Indeed you have not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind! (2Tim 1:7) Thank you, Father!!!

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