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.  

Friday, October 26, 2018

Lord of My Heart

 ... my heart [will] sing your praises and not be silent. 
LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
Psalm 30:12

It's been a whirlwind of activity in our household.  I was recently in a car accident and our plans changed radically in a moment.  It isn't what I would have wished...for anyone, but there are amazing stories to tell about God's intervention throughout the event and in the days that followed. I had to smile just the other day because in the retelling I was able to share about my amazing God again and again.  My praise for Him is such that I cannot be silent.  He is a great and marvelous God, even when life is hard, when things don't go according to plan, when we are hurt and things get broken.  God is working it all out for our good. I'm so grateful that He is Lord of my heart, Master of my eternal destiny and Lover of my soul.  He is my all in all and I will praise Him with every breath I take.

I took the elements from our current printable, Starry Sanctuary, and used them in my Traveler's Notebook instead of my Bible.  I love these small pages with plenty of room for praise.   I'm free to use acrylic paint with abandon and then handwrite my thoughts over it.  So many possibilities with these printables. 

The pocket on the left is from the patterned paper samples in the printable.  The pocket swings on washi tape hinges to reveal more journaling.  One of the printed tags fits in the pocket and well as more cards with my personal praises on them.   

Friday, October 19, 2018

Every Spiritual Blessing...OURS!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who has blessed us in Christ with
every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, 
that we should be holy and blameless before him.
In love he predestined us for adoption 
to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, 
according to the purpose of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace, 
with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:3-6

Doesn't this passage just knock your socks of with pure astonishment and make you want to jump up in praise!?  It does me, every time I read it.  To contemplate what it really means for us is astounding. I love the way it begins...PRAISE.  It could end there with only two lines and it would still be worthy of our praise.  But it goes on to showcase God's extravagant love for us. 

There is so much to glean from these verses, so much depth, so much doctrine.  I could sit forever and soak in the majesty and beauty of this passage.  Praising Him for who He is...that will take at least 10,000 years. Really, I can just picture myself around the throne room in heaven and never being able to take my eyes off my Creator to even glimpse the wonders of heaven itself!  My earth bound praise has a more myopic view I'm afraid.  I do sit in awe of my God, His power and presence.  But I can't help but look at all my blessings as well...and I'm so grateful for every one of them. 

To think that I was in His heart and in His plan before He even created the universe staggers me.  I was like a long-awaited child to Him. That fact alone makes me feel so connected to all my spiritual siblings, my brothers and sisters of faith going back to those first patriarchs who called upon the name of our God.  I sit in a cosmos that envelopes a family of faith...and I'm such an important part that God bestows upon me all the spiritual blessings of heaven.  He knew me before I was conceived. He knew what my life, days, moments would be. He knew my heart before it started beating.  He knew the love and passion I would have for who He is, for His Word. He knew I would choose Him; He knew I would fall to my knees the moment the scales of darkness and lies would drop to the floor and I would bask in His Light and absorb His Truth.   He knew I would run to Him and ask to be cradled in His arms.  He knew that look I would have in my eyes as I searched the heavens to hear Him say, "You are Mine!"

And the really amazing thing?  He has done the same for every believing heart on this planet.  He draws us into an eternal circle of connection and under His starry sanctuary He hold us close.  We are not perfect children and He has to discipline us from time to time. He has to grow us, mature us and let us sit in the refiner's fire.  But what loving parent doesn't spend time polishing their child?  He was Jesus to shine forth through us, so every facet of our diamond-in-the-rough faith and character much be chiseled to perfection.  He is adorning me as part of the Bride, preparing me to live forever with the Beloved.  Meanwhile every spiritual blessing is mine...salvation, transformation, sanctification, strength, power, wisdom, grace....the list is endless because the gifts come from heaven's treasure trove!  

Design Detail:  The background is a thin acrylic scraping.  I created the stars and moon on this page by painting a heavy body white acrylic paint through a stencil that I have.  I outlined those with a fine Prismacolor pen.  The girl, banner, tab and concentric star pieces are from the printable, Starry Sanctuary, perhaps my most favorite printable so far.  It holds deep meaning for me.  Don't forget that the printable comes with both color and outline digital images so you can entirely change the color scheme.   I put white acrylic paint on a grid stamp for the additional white accents (clean your stamp immediately if you do that!!!)

Starry Sanctuary by Diane Noble

4 PDF Pages include
  • 3 pages of ready-to-print, colored images and sentiments
  • Scripture verses for Bible journaling inspiration (coordinate with images)
  • 1 page devotion based on theme
  • Personal Bible study questions and prompts
Note about the devotional: For those who want to go deeper into study you will love the study guide with questions. They make great prompts for doing art-journaling in your Bible. Additional Bible verses are included for further personal study. All of these verses go with the printables, so you won’t have to think about where they can be used in your Bible.
Digital Image Package includes

  • 58 precolored images in both JPEG and PNG formats
  • 17 outline images in both JPEG and PNG formats

Monday, September 24, 2018

Open Doors

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, 
who holds the key of David. 
What he opens no one can shut, 
and what he shuts no one can open.
 I know your deeds. 
See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. 
I know that you have little strength, 
yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Revelation 3:7-8

The letters to the seven churches of Revelation 1-3 are both historical and prophetic.  These churches actually existed and the descriptions of them are accurate.  The passages picture each church being held accountable for actions and lack of action.  One receives commendations from Christ, one encouragement for the persecution they are suffering, and the rest are judgments against the churches. I've always been fascinated with their application today because we can see so many churches reflecting one or more of the churches in Revelation.  The church at Philadelphia is the only church that received praises for their complete faithfulness to Christ. In these verses we receive instruction for our own faith walk. 

We hear many colloquialisms about God opening and closing doors, most of which are not actually biblical.  For example, "When God closes a door, He opens a window."  I'm not sure how this "work -around" mentality crept into church culture, but I've heard it a ton. To me it implies that if God chooses to close a door to something you want, He will still provide it, just in mode different from what you were seeking.  He'll work it do get you want you want.  He might close one door and open a different door altogether, sending you on a direction you didn't anticipate.  Regardless, we can take hold of what scripture says.  Christ holds the only key to heaven; He is the only way.  He opens and closes the door to heaven according to His perfect judgments.  There are no window through which people can climb in, escape or alter our eternal destination.  

I think the passage holds other implications as well.  God opens doors to us in this life too.  His primary goal is the gospel.  Ours should be too.  God will open doors for us to give testimony to both the gosple and our own salvation experience.  When He opens those doors, nothing can prevail against it to close it.  Likewise, if He closes the door, if His judgments are enacted, no one can find another way.  The lesson for us I believe is clear.  If God impresses us with an opportunity to share the gospel with someone, we better walk through the door.  He may close the opportunity to us if we don't.  The Spirit will prompt us; we need to take that seriously.  There is great joy is sharing what Christ has done.  Regardless of the person's response, we know we have acted faithfully when we take the opportunities granted by God. 
Design Details:  I used Distress Oxide inks for the background. The door image is stamped as are the distressing details.  The door and stone were colored using Copic Markers.  Stamps used are listed below. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Your Heart...and the Door

...The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to 
be upon your hearts.
Impress them upon your children. ...
Write them on the doorframes of your houses...
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Doors are significant and symbolize the entrance to a more intimate place.  When you put a welcome sign on your door, you are giving people permission to engage with your family, with your lives.  Jesus referenced himself as the door for his followers, (John 10:7).  Relationship with Christ is invitational and intimate.  He welcomes those who believe into the inner places of his person that we may abide there with him.  

It is not surprising then that we have a foreshadowing of Jesus as the door.  God commanded the Israelites, his people of the Old Testament, to write the commands he gave them upon their hearts and upon the doorposts....the area surrounding the door...the entryway.  To enter into relationship with God in the OT, faith was tied to keeping the law, God's commandments.  Perhaps that's why symbolically, the commandments were to be written near the entry point to their personal spaces.  It was a tangible reminder that to be in close relationship to God, there were to obey God's commands out of love and devotion to him. 

God always wants more than outward appearances of our devotion to him.  So His commands were to also be written on their hearts, loved, treasured, remembered.  

For believers today, our relationship to the Father comes by way of the Son, the Door for his sheep.  We know that we are free from the Law...not that we don't obey God and all his precepts, but our obedience is not what establishes relationship.  Our relationship comes through our believe and faith in Christ.  We will obey because we love him and want to please him.  But our obedience is not enough to gain access into the inner parts of the Kingdom.  Praise God, Jesus opens the way for us!

I love the symbolism of this particular door image to illustrate this passage.  Because everything in the OT is a foreshadowing of the New, what could be more appropriate for the door Christ represents than a red door?  Our entrance to an abiding relationship with our Savior comes through his shed blood, and through that gift we are given everlasting life...thus the evergreen wreath.  May we still tie his word, his truth to our hearts!
Design Details:  I used the new Christmas Joy Printable for this page printing the door on clear sticker paper and adhering to the page.  I sponged more color to get the yellow glow of light and some Distress Inks for the antiquing looks.  I used a script stencil for the smudge "commandments." 

5-pages including 4 sheets of colored images
scripture prompts
interactive devotional
and JPEG/PNG digital images to create you own custom printed images

Friday, August 24, 2018

No Brain of Straw!

We demolish arguments and every pretension 
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, 
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 
But we have the mind of Christ. 
1 Corinthians 2:16

 The scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz was a likable but pitiful character.  No brain...well, a brain of straw.  Fortunately, he at least knew he had straw for a brain and had both the desire for a real brain and the courage to go in search of one. His plight is not so different from those who are held captive to carnal thinking.  Before Christ, our minds are trapped in the world's thinking, and we do not understand the things of God. 
There were so many miracles that took place when I opened my heart to Christ over 50 years ago.  But one instantaneous transformation was new spiritual thinking...a new mind to see, understand and love God's truth.  I had grown up in a whole family of pseudo-Christians who adhered to a false religion.  Thankfully, we were nominal in church attendance so I didn't get a steady diet of their lies.  Looking back I know that God was protecting our family, preparing all of us to see and know the truth.  Even as a young girl, I sensed that what I was being taught in church was error.  Quite honestly, it didn't make sense.  Sitting under the gospel message I heard the full truth about Christ, my sin, and the way to salvation and I knew...I just knew this was it! This was truth and I was set free! I embraced Christ as Lord and Savior and have been amazed by his presence in me all these years.  
At salvation we are given the Holy Spirit who begins a mighty work of transformation within us.  He not only changes our hearts...He changes our minds.  Suddenly we see things from a spiritual...a truth perspective.  Throughout our lives God is constantly, consistently working to transform us and draw us closer to Him, to make us more like Jesus.  It is an incredible truth to me that we are given the mind of Christ.  I fear that much like the research that says we only tap into a fraction of the power and potential of our physical brains, many Christians don't access the power of Spirit with us, within our minds.  We still allow the trappings of the world to have influence over us.  The only protection is to daily fill our minds with God's truth.  When we seek His wisdom we are thinking with the mind of Christ.  When we look at life, circumstances, what the world say through the lens of Scripture, we are thinking with the mind of Christ.  When we fear, worry, doubt...we are letting the world creep in.  We have to pull out any remnant of our old straw brain...and fill our heads with all that is God's truth.  Only then will we really be free of the captivity of this world. 
Design Details:
This is the 100 Days of Bible Promises book by Illustrated Faith.  I'm skipping around in it as I find the themes and messages that I seek to illustrate.  Shanna Noel, author, really hit this one square on.  Her devotional thoughts and scriptures always reflect the truth.  They are very sound and very well written.  I highly recommend this book if you don't already have it.   I used the newest stamp set from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps called, Happy Scarecrow by Krista Hamrick.  It's an adorable set and so versatile.  I stamped the scarecrow on white cardstock, then stamped parts of the image on various designer papers to be able to paper-piece the scarecrow.  I also stamped the flowers from the set on cardstock and colored with Copic markers.  Then I adhered to the page.  Since Copic markers will bleed through these pages, it's perfect to just do them on cardstock first, then fussy-cut and color off the page first.  I also used Sunshine Girl and Cold Coffee Alphas for the larger lettering.  I used a variety of acrylic paints, stencils and texture stamps to add color and dimension to the page. 


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Be Thou My Vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art -
thou my best thought, by day or by night;
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; thine own may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.
Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only first in my heart,
high King of heaven, my treasure thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
This ancient Irish poem dates back to the 8th century and was translated in the early 1900's.  I grew up singing it in church and now I sit in thankful worship when I listen to some of the newer renditions of the hymn.  There is so much to love about the hymn. I love the Irish melody, but the words are powerful too.  Sung as a prayer, it simply petitions God to be my give me eyes to see all that He is and all that He has done.  The lyrics speak of practicing the presence of God, that our best thoughts, words and actions would indicate the devotion we have in our hearts for the High King of heaven.  It describes the intimate relationship between the Father and His child and the promised inheritance we receive as children of heaven's ruler.  
When designing in my Praise Book recently I chose to extract the meaning from the hymn and journal its practical application.  This two-page spread is the result.  I copied the hymn from an old hymn book and adhere to the page then hand drew a frame to finish the edges and added a paper pieced girl from the Girl Power clear stamp set just released this month. The stamped words at the top of the page are from Bitty Minnie Alpha; the glasses are from the Girl Power set.
I created hinged tags to express my interpretive prayers. 
My prayer...
     When I look to my highest GOAL, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my greatest HOPE, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my deepest NEED, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my strongest LOVE, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my surest WAY, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my brightest LIGHT, may that be YOU.
Underneath each tag, I wrote prayers, journaled thoughts and wrote quotes regarding each of the prayer topics.
When God is the Lord of our heart, He will be our vision, our best or night; He will be our wisdom and the foundation of our truth, He will dwell with us and we will become one with Him just as Christ was one with the Father.  When God is the Lord of our heart, He will be sufficient for any need we have and will give us our promised inheritance when we see Him face to face.  I want God to be my vision, to fill my thoughts, to be the heart of my heart!
Sets Used (all new May releases)