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!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Courage

The last two posts have been about fearlessness & faith.  Today's is about courage - which is also the opposite of fear.  This morning I was drawn to Psalms 27:14 "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."  

Whenever I see a phrase repeated like that, I figure it's a pretty important concept.  So my questions were two-fold.  1) What does it mean to have your heart strengthened? 2) What does it mean to "wait" on the Lord?

The answer to the 1st came quickly enough.  While it could mean many things, for me today it means courage.  When God strengthens my heart he gives me courage to face the unknowns ahead without fear.

So what does it mean to wait on the Lord?  The picture that came to mind for this one was that of a child and parent out for a walk.  The parent has asked the child to stick to His side.  Often, however, children like to run ahead - the parent seems to be moving so slowly!  But in this case, my Heavenly Father knows there is a lion near the path ahead - "seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).  As I see this picture in my mind, I realize that if I run ahead on the path, not only will I be fearful when I face the lion on my own, but I will be in serious danger as well.  BUT, if I wait on Him and walk with Him, when we come face to face with the lion I will feel no fear because I KNOW my Daddy can handle it and I am safe!!!

Father, please keep me by your side this day.  I do not want to run ahead and get myself into dangerous situations.  I want to face any dangers with you by my side where I will be safe.  Thank you, Father!!!!

Monday, August 7, 2017

FAITH


Today I was taken to Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  I've been reading the story of a man who had a very special encounter with God.  His son was in a coma and the doctors had told them there was no hope - but God told him otherwise.  As he prayed, God spoke to him in an audible voice so there was no doubt!  God promised him that his son would be healed and told him to go tell the others at the hospital.  The man describes how when he went back to the hospital, nothing had changed in the physical world.  To all appearances, his son was still dying.  But he had been given the assurance by God and was convinced that things were happening in the UNSEEN world that would soon manifest in the healing of his son in the physical world.  

This is the faith that is needed to experience miracles - the assurance of things hoped for - the conviction of things not seen.  Certainty of God's power and willingness to change the situation.  I'm reminded that this faith is a GIFT. (Eph 2:8)  

Suddenly I have better understanding of at least one of the reasons Jesus told us to KEEP ON ASKING.  It keeps us centered in that gift of faith, helping to ensure our certainty of God's promise and ensuring that seeds of doubt are not allowed to grow and flourish and steal our miracle from us.

Father, thank you so much for your gift of faith!  You know there are yet things I do not yet understand in Jesus' teachings on this subject.  But you've shown me that my certainty does not rely on my own understanding - it relies on the gift of faith in your love and power - your character.  I KNOW you love me and that you can be trusted.  I KNOW you want me to have freedom from fear and a solid faith walk full of joy and peace - and that you are gifting me with that now!  Father, I choose to continue to boldly come before your throne of grace so you can keep my feet planted on the path and keep the weeds of doubt from growing as you continue your work in me.  Thank you, Father!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fearless!!!!


It seems like forever since I posted on this blog.  I tend to not think about posting when I don't have to have a picture to go with the message!!!! Anyway, today I DO have a picture, though it's mostly words and those may be a bit challenging to actually see in this photo.  But here's the story behind the picture. 

The focus for this page is 1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment." (NKJV) This is something God's been bringing to my attention.  Though I hadn't really realized it until recently, I've had a tendency to live with a low (medium???!) level of anxiety as my natural state - and that is NOT His plan for me!!! He wants to give me freedom from even that low level of fear that has been tormenting me!!! 

I am so grateful that His choice for me is a life of freedom from tormenting fear - a life of love, joy, and peace!!!  But He's been showing me that I haven't been accepting the whole of that gift from him.  As he relieves major fears, I have been content to settle back into my "natural" state of low-level anxiety instead of letting Him remove it ALL!!!!  

One of the things that has helped me visualize this is work that I've been doing, with the help of a specialist, to relieve pain in my physical body.  She explained to me that due to stress in our lives (physical trauma, emotional tension, etc), we tend to live with a constant level of stress.  She drew a line and numbered it 0 at one end and 100 at the other.  She said this is a picture of our muscles - they can be firing at 100%, or they can be completely relaxed at 0% or somewhere in between.  Then she said that often, our brain has become so used to our carrying a certain amount of stress, that it comes to believe that 20% firing of a muscle is as much as it is possible to relax.  Part of my work with her is to re-train my brain to realize that it can actually relax the muscle farther than that!

For me this has been a great visual for my relationship with nervousness and anxiety (other words for fear!).  I have become so used to living with a certain amount of nervousness or anxiety that I've seen that as normal.  But God offers to remove ALL of it and replace it with His Spirit!

2 Timothy 1:7 reminds me, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."  (ISV) 

Suddenly I find myself understanding the story of Mary & Martha (as told in Luke 10:39-42) much better.  I'll admit that I've struggled with this story.  I can REALLY relate to Martha who is trying to get food on the table while everyone else is relaxing and enjoying their time with Jesus. She's feeling a bit resentful that her sister isn't helping her and speaks to Jesus about it.  But Jesus gently tells her, "Martha, Martha!  You worry and fuss about a lot of things.  But there is only one thing you need.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it is not to be taken away from her." (ISV - emphasis mine).  Other versions use words like: anxious, bothered, troubled, distracted, upset.  THIS is the real issue here.  It's not about making dinner - it's about allowing anxiety to distract us and drain our energy so we aren't able to move forward with 100% focus on anything.  THIS is what God is speaking to me about. 

He's promised that His perfect love casts out fear - ALL of it, if I will let it!!! Thank you, Father!!! What a wonderful promise!  I choose this.  Please cast out ALL fear and replace it with your spirit of POWER, LOVE, and SELF-DISCIPLINE.  I don't know how to do this for myself, but I know I don't have to know how.  You are doing it FOR me.  I just have to allow you FULL access to change my life!  Father, I am so looking forward to experiencing life from this new perspective.  To face new challenges and opportunities with excitement and joy instead of nervous trepidation.  What a concept!  Thank you, Father, for doing this work in me and for your promise that the work you've begun in me you will see to completion.  You've got your work cut out for you, but I know YOU can do it!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!     

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!

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