Monday, February 4, 2019

Persevere in Praise

His praise shall continually
be in my mouth.
Psalm 34:1
...let us continually offer up a
sacrifice of praise to God...
Hebrews 15:15

My Word of the Year is PERSEVERE and I'm finding so many scriptural applications for it that I'm truly fascinating by looking at one word and seeing how it plays out in God's Word.  For the post today I traveled down one path of my word map to look more carefully at persevering in praise.  Very enlightening in that the Bible has so many examples of the faithful who persevered in praising God in spite of their hardships, during times of loss and grief, when praise was truly a painful sacrifice to a great and Holy God. 

Perseverance intertwines patience and persistence.  We are to keep on praising with a steadfastness that will not wane or waver when deep waters rise.  I collected only a few personally significant verses here in my little Travelers' Notebook, a place where I'm trapping a number of ways I'm exploring my WOY. 

We all know how much easier it is to praise when God answers our prayers, when He blesses us, when He gives us the desire of our hearts.  It's's a sacrifice offered in pain and anguish to praise Him when we are left brokenhearted and empty handed.  I've been in both places, haven't you.  Broken, shattered, so empty I wasn't sure there was breath in my lungs.  But I found breath...and I made choices to use the little air I had left to offer praise.  He breathed blessing back into me.  More praise...more filling.  God works that way!   It was a delightful surprise when the scripture from Habakkuk 3:19 was at the bottom of this page when I turned to my empty canvas.  How appropriate!

The Lord God is my strength, my personal bravery,
and my invincible army!

Is that not beautiful, powerful, encouraging, leaves me with a nearly breathless, "WOW GOD!"  God is our strength and when we think we are too weak or drained or broken to praise, He will give strength to the willing heart.  If we desire praise over our brokenness, He will gives us eyes to see the blessings in the thorns, the beauty in the ashes, the praise in the valley.  I know what He has done for me each time I've chosen surrendered praise...He has WOWED me with who He is.  And I know He will do it again.  I know I will break again, I know I will hurt more than I can now imagine, but through the hope and strength Christ gives me, I know He will meet me there like He always has and He will bring me through the rain and give me a song as the thunder echoes the beat of His love.  He will be my strength...and I will praise Him.  He will be my personal bravery...and I will praise Him.  He will be my invincible army...and I will praise Him.  

I will praise the Lord while I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 
Psalm 146:2

Design Details: 
I created a "rainy" background by using a very dry brush and acrylic paints.  I stamped the other images in a coordinating Distress Oxide ink.  

Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps Sets Used:

Monday, January 21, 2019

You, Lord, Raise Me Up!

But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
and raise me up...
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God for a shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 41:10, 42:5

If we are honest, we have to confess there is much in this life to get us down, so weary us, to confuse and create turmoil within.   I think of Hannah in 1 Samuel and how she suffered to the point of deep depression over her life's circumstances. Or what about Elijah, so frightened by the evil power and death threats of Jezebel that he ran as far away as he could and begged God just to take his life.  We experience enemy assault, the pressures of life, loss, and tiredness and we can certainly understand being downcast and wanting to run away.  And at the very moment we feel ourselves losing our grip, God grabs hold!

God promises again and again that he will not leave us or forsake, that we never have to figure out life on our own.  He will come to us at our point of need and raise us up.  He will lift us by his mighty hand above our circumstances to see things from his perspective.  He will walk with us in the middle of trouble and he will absorb all that would harm us if we relinquish all to him.  

In God there is always, forever hope.  He will raise us up.  Once we surrender to his Lordship, we can never be defeated.  The victory is already ours.  If you feel like you're falling, look up, reach out to God and let him grip you and lift you up. 
Design Detail:
  • watercolor paints on the background, flamingo and the heart-balloons applied with a water brush
  • texture was created with a stamp
  • Sets Used:

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Word of God

For the word of God is living and active, 
sharper than any two-edged sword,
 piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, 
of joints and of marrow, 
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12
There is so much I love about the Word of God.  It speaks to the deepest part of me and is always relevant.  It opens the door of my heart to see and know God, to be known by Him.  It is sweet; it is hard; it is powerful; it is tender; it is helpful, comforting, challenging, convicting.  It is all of these but of the list of descriptors that mean so much to me, it is the fact that it is living that amazes me most.  It distinguishes itself from any other book, even deeply moving theologically profound books.  No other book is living, is organic and consistently, constantly dynamic.  What gives it life and exactly what does that mean?

In John, chapter one we learn that, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The term "word" is different in John and Hebrews.  The Word is "the Logos," is complex but refers to the person of Jesus.  The term "word" in Hebrews refers not to Christ, but to God's written, recorded and inspired word...the Bible.  The Bibles we hold in our hands are obviously not breathing, growing--not in the sense as defines life.  Yet it IS alive, and it IS active.  God's word is alive because it brings perpetuates spiritual life was giving life by the breath of the Holy Spirit.  It brings real, supernatural transformation in the living soul of the human who accepts it as truth.  "Faith comes from hearing [or reading] the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ," (Romans 10:17).  It brings life and vitality, light and salvation.  It is not powerless, but has the power to save.  

As we come to the Word of God for the life it can give, we find it renders much to feed our spirit.  It is a sword; it is strength; it is a foundation for living our lives; it is absolute truth; it contains the only gospel of Christ; it points to Christ--our peace and our salvation.  I'm so very grateful that God prepared my heart as a twelve year old girl to receive the Word...and thereby trust its Author.  God's Word led me to Him...and He is my all in all.  

I'm grateful each and every day that I have the living and active Word of God at my disposal.  I cannot imagine not having a Bible.  That's why it's so important for those of us who do to read it and to hide it in our hearts, to share it with others.  I've known several people who have owned Bibles but never read them.  Others give cursory attention but depend mostly on someone else to preach or teach from it.  Some think they know scriptures from platitudes they hear literally on the street and take such triteness as truth.  The only way God's Word can bring your spirit alive is to take it in and let the Holy Spirit do His transforming work through it.  

God's Word is my sure foundation.  It is the one absolutely trustworthy thing on which I can stake my life...because it reveals my faithful, totally trustworthy Father. 

Design Details:
I just added a little more color to the page (100 Days of Bible Promises Devotion Book by Shanna Noel/Illustrated Faith with gelatos and a water-brush.  I drew a simple sketch of a Bible then added stamps to the central image and words over the pages.

 Doves of Peace

Mighty Fortress
Armor of God

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Coffee Lover Blog Hop Samples

I'm participating in the Coffee Lovers Blog Hop on behalf of Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps.  My projects showcase two of their coffee themed stamp sets:  Jesus and Coffee and Special Blend.

I created a bright abstract background with stencils and Distress Ink Oxides and a couple of texture stamps.   The coffee mugs are stamped on cardstock, colored with Copic marker and adhered to the page.

The page uses the stamp set Special Blend.  I created a distressed background with sponged inks and a variety of distress stamps.  I did some stenciling as well.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

JOY: Jesus Overflowing in You.

These things I have spoken to you,
that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be full.
John 15:11 
As Jesus nears the time of his crucifixionhe pulls his disciples close to him for some final instructions and words of comfort and encouragement.  He speaks about their relationship to him and the need for them to abide in him.  He warns them of the difficulties that lie ahead in identifying with him, because the world has shown its hatred of him already.  He already knows what will conquer evil and hate. His love will bring victory.  And as we abide in him and allow his love to spill out we too will be more than conquerors.  
I used the stamp, Joy to the Word, to create the acrostic Jesus overflowing in show the truth of this verse in John.  There is a direct link between Jesus's vine discourse and the antidote for evil and hate he discusses later.  
Design Detail:
I used gelatos more like watercolor paints to create this background.  I stamped the joy from the set, colored it with copic markers and cut it out to place it vertically on the margin.  Then I used the Teeny Alpha set for all the lettering.  The "t" from this set formed the small crosses on the page.  I also used the Texture Tiles set for the distressing on the page. 

Sets Used from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps:

Joy to the World

Teeny Alpha

Texture Tiles 1

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Lord Is Good

Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
for the Lord is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Jeremiah 33:11
I recently reread the story of the 10 lepers healed by Jesus.  Leprosy was a slow, agonizing and ostracizing disease.  To be brought back from the brink of this torturous nightmare would have indeed been a miracle that demonstrated unfathomable power and obvious love.  Most lepers were shunned by their community and even their families.  To have been a leper, then to have been made clean would have been more than freeing, more than miraculous for the suffering one.  This miracle restored life in so many ways. Thus, we are incredulous to know that only one of the ten came back to Jesus to praise God and to thank his healer.   We just shake our heads and ask, "How could they not?"

Yet, look at all the blessings so many people receive today and take for granted or fail to give credit for the goodness in their lives.  Our God blesses even the unbeliever!  We wouldn't expect them to acknowledge God as the source of blessing.  But it is surprising to hear believers complain even when their lives compared to some are amazingly good. If my memory serves me correctly, I've been guilty myself!

I know God has been so very good to me.  Daily, I can see blessing after blessing, each as undeserved as the one before.  I experience joy in His presence and He showers me with His unfailing love.  I pray each day to see His gifts over the grit of life.  The best antidote to the growth of thankless callouses on our heart, is to run back to Him every day and praise God, thanking Him for all He has done for us.  May we never be like those 9 lepers that prioritized their perfunctory duties and headed to the priests first, instead of running back to Jesus who took the blight off their lives.

We can thank God every day for who He is, for His steadfast, unfailing love toward us.  He wouldn't have to do a thing for us and we'd still have reason enough to praise.  But that He showers us with blessing because of His great love...that is the great miracle. 

Design Details:
I had so much fun creating this background, especially the pattern in the margin.  I created my own color spray using a gelato and water and it turned out so well.  I love it more than so many of the sprays that stain so deeply and permeate the page.  I sprayed over a stencil.  I have this quick video for you to share my design process.

Sets Used:

Check out the video to see how I masked off the unwanted portion of one stamp. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Come into His Presence

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Psalm 95:1-2

God is omnipresent--present in reality at all times.  Every believer also has the reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit...God present in us.  So why would scripture allude to a "coming into his presence" as though we could be away from it?  

We've had an absolutely stunning fall around our home place this year.  One breathtaking scene after another appears all along the roads in the short distances we travel nearly every day.

I don't know why, but fall brings me into the presence of God in fresh ways every season.  He created me to love color, so when He displays the splendor of His artistry as these photos barely capture, I am so awed by Him.  I know God is always near me, but there are times when I "come into His presence."  These are times I feel closer, I move closer to Him in prayer or through something His Word speaks to me.   

There have been times when I've been brokenhearted and I come into His presence for an extra measure of closeness and comfort.  When I hold my grandson while he sleeps and I ponder the potential of his life, I come into God's presence.  In worship at my church, I feel God tugging at my heart to forget all those around me and just come into His presence.  His presence is sweet, secure and surges with power. 

I fall so short of being able to adequately describe the wonder and awe of coming into God's presence.  But I know when I do, He is always there, always ready to take my spirit to new heights, to deepen my faith and broaden my vision of His plan for me.  And every time, without fail, when I come into His presence I have to bow in thanksgiving.  That incredible, breath-taking moment of feeling the rush of His presence pulls gratitude from the innermost reaches of my soul.  All that He is, all He has done, all He has planned for me, all He will accomplish...all of Him makes me want to run into His presence and always....always with thanksgiving!
Design Detail:  I just had to pull out my fallish and very fun printable, Sunflowers and Pumpkins for this page.  These are so perfect for the season.  Here I used a clear, matte finish sticker version of my images.  And just because I could, I layered them right on top of each other.  A few simple splashes on the page and words from one of my favorite stamp sets, Incredible Blessed and a very simple page took only minutes to do.  

You can check both of these out on the Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps store page.