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!

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!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Leaping for Joy?

As I was leafing through my Bible this morning, this drawing of a linen ephod jumped out at me and I started to read about it.  It turns out it is a representation of the fact that apparently King David was wearing one when he came rejoicing with the Levites who were bringing the ark to the place David had prepared for it in Jerusalem.  As I was reading the story this morning, the last verse of I Chronicles chapter 15 really jumped out at me.
"And it happened when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and making merry; and she despised him in her heart."  I Chronicles 15:29
King David, despised because he was "leaping and making merry."  Have you ever been there?  Been despised because of expressing joy?  Told you're making a scene?  Being undignified?  I have. Plenty of times.  One that comes to mind was when I was in college - probably about 18 years old. I went to the city park with a date.  I don't remember the young man's name or much about him, except for his disapproving stance as I chose to start climbing the marvelous trees in that park.  I was expressing joy, but got the message loud and clear that rather than partaking in my joy, the young man was simply seeing me as childish and was rather embarrassed to be seen with me.  Sometimes disapproval of the way I expressed joy was stated clearly, but often, just as Michal despised King David "in her heart", those despising me left it unexpressed except through body language and behavior.  But I certainly recognized it anyway, and I realize now that each time it happened, I became more cautious about expressing joy.  No wonder God has had to keep speaking to me about the importance of joy!  He keeps reminding me that the joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)  But I've learned to become dignified enough that I am cautious about when and how I express joy.  

Perhaps this is why we speak of some older adults as "experiencing a 2nd childhood."  Perhaps they've somehow managed to throw off the restraints of societal disapproval, after decades of conforming, and are once again choosing to express joy!  

Father, I want to be more open in expression of the joy you place within my heart!  Thank you for this joy and the peace that passes all understanding - going beyond circumstances and anything others might understand.  Thank you for the strength your joy brings!  Father, I CHOOSE joy this day!  I recognize the efforts of the enemy who tries to steal my joy, because that is a very real way of stealing my STRENGTH!  Father, I ask that you keep my mind focused on JOY as I go about the tasks you have set before me.  And may I be a joy ENCOURAGER, rather than a joy discourager, Father!

As I recognize the way joy has been stolen from me in the past, I have to ask myself the question - have I done that to others?  And the unfortunate answer is that I'm sure that I have.  Sometimes it's been about dignity, but sometimes it's been because of my focus on what needs to be done.  I've wanted folks to "quit goofing around" and get back to work!  I know the enemy doesn't care WHY the joy is stolen - just that it is (because stealing joy steals a person's strength!).
Father, forgive me for my tendency to judge others with disapproval - whether overtly spoken or not.  I know from my own experiences that one doesn't have to be overt for the message to get across.  Father, I don't want to be a joy stealer!  I want to be a joy GIVER!  Father, please work in and through me to share your joy with all I meet, that you may be glorified, and they may be strengthened.  I love you, Father!

Friday, August 19, 2016

I Rejoice!

The story of Hannah as told in the first few chapters of 1 Samuel is quite moving.  And I find Hannah's prayer as recorded in the first 10 verses of chapter 2 quite thought provoking.  Hannah has been tormented for years, wanting a child desperately and having Peninnah goad her about her barrenness.  She promises God that if He will just give her a son, she will give Him to the Lord.  She is given a son, and when he is weaned, she brings him to the temple to leave him with the high priest to be raised by him in service to God.  The prayer I mentioned in chapter 2 is her prayer when she brings Samuel to stay with Eli.  Can you imagine how she must have been feeling, knowing that when she returned home, it would be without the son she had prayed for so long?  

I know if it had been me, I'd have had a hard time behaving as Hannah did.  I'd probably have been really torn.  Having made a promise to God, I would want to fulfill it, but could have found all sorts of reasons why it might not be a good idea to leave him with Eli.  Just look how his OWN sons turned out!  I'd likely be quite worried about leaving my son, and very sad about it at the very least.  But that is not Hannah's attitude.  She is clearly a "cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7), focusing not on her impending loss, but her immense gratitude for God's giving her a son.  In her prayer, she says:
"My heart exults in the Lord. . . I rejoice in thy salvation" (I Sam 2:1, NASV)
and goes on to talk about how wonderful God is.  And lest you think she was just one of those mothers who didn't care about her child, that thought is dispelled by the fact that she carefully made him clothes each year and brought them to him (I Sam 2:19).  Remember this was before a time when one could just go out and purchase cloth and zip something up with an electric sewing machine!

For me, this story speaks to me on so many levels - especially about the power of prayer, and the importance of cheerfulness & joy - especially when giving gifts to God!

Father, once again I am reminded of how you encourage us to rejoice and give thanks in ALL THINGS.  I am so grateful for your love and care for me!  Thank you for this special time of rest and relaxation that you have provided, and thank you for the renewed energy to return to the work you have given me to do.  May I do my work cheerfully as a gift to those I serve, and in gratitude to you for the many gifts you have given me - including these current tasks! (Eccl 3:13)  Father, I love you!

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