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!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Social Etiquette & Food Choices

For some time I've struggled with food issues.  One of my challenges is that I've found that it can be challenging for me to make healthy food choices on an ongoing basis if I, even occasionally, eat foods that I've found to be less than helpful for my body system.  And yet, what to do when I'm in a social setting?  Eating out with friends?  Or even being a guest in someone's home?  

In a social setting, I hate to say anything about special dietary issues because I hate to make extra trouble for my hosts or make them feel I don't appreciate what they've done in preparing a meal.  I also don't want to be excluded from social events because people don't want to deal with my food sensitivities - especially since many people would see my diet as quite restrictive and wouldn't have a clue how to handle it!  After all, relationships are more important than food!

It's been an on-going challenge - one I've faced mostly internally.  I kept remembering the story in Acts chapter 10 about Peter's vision about the unclean meat.  He was told, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."  While I knew that for Peter, this vision was actually talking about the "unclean" gentiles, I also felt this story indicated that with prayer, I should be able to eat anything and not have it adversely affect me - especially when coupled with Luke 10:10 - "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." (NIV)

Recently, however, I was brought to a different story.  One I've heard since I was a child, but didn't absorb the full significance.  That is the story told in Daniel 1:8-16.  I've always seen this story as a lesson that a plant-based diet can be superior to one that is based in rich "delicacies", but I completely ignored the fact that Daniel ASKED that he and his friends be given a different meal than the other people were being given!  Now, this was an on-going situation and not a one-time thing, but it really struck me.  Daniel asked to be fed differently.  This realization has helped me both to feel better about choosing to eat differently than the "norm", and to feel less uncomfortable about saying something about it.  I still want to pray about each situation, but am more open to a wider range of responses.  Thank you, Father!

I was faced with a related dilemma again this weekend.  My husband's aunt is in an assisted living situation.  The facility had a special "Valentine's" meal where the residents were encouraged to invite family to join them for lunch.  So, this aunt asked my husband and me to join her.  It turned out to be quite challenging food-wise. The main food that I could eat was the appetizer salad.  Our aunt noticed I wasn't eating much and questioned me about it. I knew that she knew my dietary choices and would understand that the food in front of me did not meet those criteria, so what should I say?  I knew she wasn't particularly happy with the meal either, but she really had little choice.  She lived there!  I didn't want to make her feel any worse about things.  But the fact remained.  I REALLY couldn't eat much of what was in front of me!  

It was a lesson I continue to ponder and pray about. I want to understand all that God had for me to learn in that situation.  One of the questions I'm sitting with after my experience yesterday is, "what I can do to help improve our aunt's experience."  My heart hurts for her.  She's faced many changes that she didn't WANT, and is in a situation that isn't ideal.

Father, what is your will concerning her?  What is my part to play?

Father, this day I once again seek your guidance in my life.  May each thought, word, and action be in accordance with your will!  May I not only gain increased clarity on HOW best to eat, but also WHEN and WHAT to say about it to others, and WHEN I need to just eat what is put before me, trusting you to protect me.  Father, I know this lesson goes beyond physical food. 

I think of a couple passages in 1 Corinthians: 
  • "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."  1 Cor 6:12
  • "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." 1 Cor 10:23
It's clear to me that I need to make sure my focus is on what is BEST, not what I can get away with!  While it may be true that I can get away with eating certain things - whether we're talking about physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual - that doesn't necessarily mean it's best.  God wants the BEST for me.  Shouldn't I support Him in that endeavor?  Likewise, I know God wants the very best for our aunt, and I want to support Him in that endeavor as well.

Father, may I be willing to learn from you about what is BEST for me.  May I be open to whatever changes may be necessary in the physical, emotion, mental, and spiritual parts of my being.  Thank you for wanting the very best for me.  May I cooperate with you on that.  And may I also recognize how I can facilitate that for others and be willing to follow through with the tasks you place before me.  Thank you, Father!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Forgive - and Comfort?!

As you may have noticed, it's been too long since I posted here.  I wanted to wait until I had another Bible journaling piece to share.  But I have haven't managed to do another one yet, and I was reminded today that I can post without one.  After all, that's the way I did this blog for quite awhile.  So, that is what I'll do - and when I do an artistic piece, you'll see that too.  

There have been many things in the last several months that I wanted to journal about, and I realize now, how much I've missed by not posting about them even though I didn't have an artistic piece to go with the message.  This morning I find my mind going back to one verse in particular.  This particular verse made a real impression because I saw something in it that I'd never seen before.  In fact, that new idea was presented on a main-stream talk show of all places in the last week!  It made such an impression on me that I had to go look it up and spend some time pondering it.

It was a verse that spoke about forgiving others and is found in 2 Corinthians 2:7.  Paul is speaking to the people of Corinth about someone who has caused an offense of some sort and tells them that they need to both forgive AND comfort him!

While I might not yet have a complete understanding, I've certainly understood the importance of forgiveness for some time - but that little one-word addition really made me stop & think.  Not only are we to forgive those that harm us, but to comfort them as well?!!!  What a thought!  Isn't the injured party the one that needs the comfort? We're to comfort the one who caused the damage?

That's what it says, isn't it?  As I think about it more, I can see a more mundane experience where I can fully understand this.  For instance, if someone breaks something of mine, they may feel really badly about it.  I may need to comfort them & tell them it's all right.  I know I'll be much happier if I behave in this way rather than getting all upset about the loss of some material possession.

But I have a feeling that this idea is meant to go much farther than that.  After all, I know if I accidentally broke something that belonged to someone else, I'd appreciate the forgiveness and comfort.  But if I hurt someone's spirit or caused harm to a person in some way, I'd want that forgiveness & comfort even more!

I am reminded - "Freely you have received, freely give." (Matt 10:8)  I am SO grateful for the forgiveness and comfort that God freely gives me!   

Father, whom is it that I need to forgive and comfort today?  May I be an open channel for you and your forgiving love to flow through to those I meet this day.  Thank you, Father!  Thank you for your forgiving love and your comfort.  I know I don't deserve it, and too often I still even take it for granted.  Father, I DO love and appreciate you.  Your love is amazing and I choose to be a channel for that love to flow through.  Thank you for the blessings I know this day will bring.  You are an amazing God and I am SO grateful for your love - for your forgiveness and comfort.  I love you, Father!

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. 

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