Unwritten

Staring at the blank page before you

Open up the dirty window

Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find…

Jasper drawing at Starbucks 01-blog

Today is where my book begins. The rest is still unwritten.

2015 has been the year of questions both answered and unanswered.  The main question I faced was how to stay afloat in a sea of waves that I felt were carrying me every direction except the one that I wanted to go.  This summer I faced a moment of surrender to the rocky seas.  I realized that the waves were not meant to harm, but to push me in the best direction.

I felt very much that my future was already written and that it wasn’t one that was excited me.  It wasn’t one I would choose for myself, if I held all the power to choose.  I was feeling stuck in the mud, as my former toddler use to say when he didn’t want to do something.  The mud was self-inflicted and imaginary. All he had to do was stand up.

I, too, had to stand up.  Once I gave up the fight, so to speak, I started to see bits and pieces of the shore. Though everything was certainly not perfect, the pieces were falling into place.

God was in the business of providing some needed change that would shake up the monotony of right here. Through that, I began to see anew that I could trust Him with much larger things.

If He could provide a school for my daughter and more time outside the four walls of home for the rest of us, He could provide for the other concerns of our hearts.  But, first and foremost, He was just concerned with my heart that was starting to lose hope. I felt a very real call from God to just turn from my striving and seek Him.  The real answer to all my questions.  That was exactly what I needed and still need each day.

God showed me that while He has certainly written my future, it isn’t second best to my imaginings.  His plans are bigger and better than any dream I could dream.  Right here, with exactly what we have, at this exact moment, is good.  But not just good, BEST.

I guess you could say that He is disciplining me in trust and contentment.

I’m living with my arms wide open to God’s plans for us, whatever they may be.  I still pray for those little heart’s desires, but I won’t break if that’s where they stay.

This new school year is so different already and I’m encouraged by all the growth I’ve seen both in me and my students.  All I have to do is be faithful to the day’s work. Fruit is on the vine.

Linking with Good.Random.Fun, Songography, Black and White Wednesday, and Wednesdays Around the World.

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Growing

I’ve been feeling a renewed sense of taking the time to live. Do you know what I mean? Like all of us, I can get so bogged down in the daily doings of life that I forget to truly live.

It’s funny how spring invites us to see things freshly.  All the life bursting forth reminds us that we also need to recreate.

Garden beginnings 01-blog

So, I sat down and wrote a bit in a journal about what that means to me right now and I realized that I need to protect this sacred place of living. I mean, I already knew that, but it gets lost in the fray at times.

I realized, anew, that I’m responsible for my own happiness and time to live.  It is not anyone else’s responsibility to carve that out for me.  Me being me, I came up with a plan.

garden 2015

On the docket:

  • Gardening
  • Walks
  • Time to reflect/Bible study
  • Handwritten letters
  • Time outdoors
  • Creating my own adventures
  • Simplicity and Minimalism
  • Nourishing my artist’s heart
  • Friendships: Old and New
  • Guarding my heart
  • Meaningful conversations and fellowship
  • Seeking out inspirational, passionate people/being mentored and mentoring/a circle of giving and receiving
  • Abundance mentality in thoughts, words, and deeds
  • Picnics
  • Time with hubby
  • Wine and cheese

Gosh, there really is so much more I could say.  This will require lots of prayer and intentional choices.  You may remember that my two words of 2015 are Pause and Follow. It’s getting close to mid-year and it’s time to do those gut checks.  Am I making strides towards my goals? Are you? Are you pursuing them un-apologetically? If I’m honest, there has been rough surf.  I’m grateful for those because I can adjust my sails going into the second half of the year.

Happiness is the reward of intentional living.  I’m growing.

Linking with Good.Random.Fun.

 

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Little Things Thursday

I’ve decided to jump feet first into Bible journaling.  Have you heard of this? It’s a way to express your faith artistically, if art speaks to your heart.   It’s sort of scrapbooking meets your quiet time.

You can buy a journaling Bible or you can just use any kind of sketchbook.  The one I am getting is currently back-ordered, and I have been waiting for several weeks to get mine. I’ve been gathering materials meanwhile.

Bible journaling

Basically whatever speaks to you during your Bible reading time can become an artistic expression in the margins. I’ve seen some amazing artwork from others in some of the communities I have found.

Bible journaling

There is something about joining creativity with faith that feels very full-circle to me.

Bible journaling

And even though I think I’m not crafty or very good at this kind of art, I am hoping it will open up more undiscovered creative spaces in me.  2015 is all about pausing to follow new rabbit trails and to discover new things along the way.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, here are a few spaces to get you started.  Shanna’s blog.  Printables and Totes. Facebook Community. ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (TruTone, Chestnut, Leaves Design) <-affilitate link.  There are a variety of Bibles to order on Amazon for this purpose.

And if scripture isn’t your thing, you can do this with any written word that speaks to you. I love the way art leaves impressions on your soul whether you have natural talent, or none!

Create anyway. It’s a great Little Thing.

What are you creating this week?


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a decision

About a week ago, I shared with you that I was contemplating a “big” decision.  I want to thank all of you who offered encouragement and prayers.

I finally firmed up my decision and::

peru-web

Yep…I’m going to Peru!  I’ll share a few dets with you.

I have an 8+ year history of overseas missions experience, but had to leave that behind in 2007.  I thought that I’d have to forget about all of that in this new phase of life, and for 6 years that was almost true.  I’ve alluded to that being really difficult for me here and there.

I recently decided that it would be good for me to serve on our church’s missions committee.  At one of our meetings, I was assigned the task of helping one of our church members as she planned a trip to Peru.  I would be her point person with the committee for anything she needed, planning wise.  Long story short, which was really just 24 hours later, she invited me to join her on the trip.  This really wasn’t on my radar, but I agreed to pray.  That’s where this post comes in.   Many of you suspected that I already knew the answer, but needed that push of affirmation.  You were so right! I was feeling that old familiar tug to go.  Yet, I wanted to make sure that going really was God’s will.  I sought some counsel, and prayed.

AND…

I bought a ticket to Lima, Peru last Friday!

I’ll only be traveling 5 days, which is no big deal, really.  I just get mom anxiety when I have to leave my kids.  You know?

But, I feel that the value of the trip is enough of a push to go.  3 ladies from my church will fly to Lima to essentially host a small ladies retreat for the wives of medical missionaries in Cusco, Peru.  The terrain of Cusco makes it difficult for the wives of the doctors to fellowship with each other regularly.  Missionary life is wonderful, but it is also lonely and dry at times.  We will all meet up in Lima to enjoy a season of Bible study, prayer, crafting, and probably shopping/girlie stuff.  This retreat will hopefully refresh these ladies to return to Cusco ready to continue serving.  I would have loved something like this when I lived in Thailand.  Sometimes you just need to get your tank filled to continue your journey!

I’m feeling really blessed that God would revive a few opportunities to continue cross-cultural ministry.  This will be my first trip to South America, so that culture will be a completely new experience for me.  All I know is ancient culture from our history studies.

The trip is at the end of September, so I have 4 months to prepare which will involve passport renewal, and support raising.  I’m really excited, but also still going to struggle with mom anxiety.  Mostly excited!

I’ll keep you updated! I covet your prayers for this trip, and I may need a guest poster or two!

Linking up with Tamar and Gina.

 

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beauty from ashes

The Lenten season is once again upon us.   This season we are to reflect on upon the work Christ came to do on the cross.  Some see this time as a time of penitence, but it is also time of life and renewal as we think on Christ coming to make all things new.

NapTime MomTog

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Resolutions??

I mentioned that I am not one to make resolutions.  Something about that word makes me feel bound.  Another way to say resolution is goal.  I have goals.  I have specific goals.  Setting goals keeps me on track for where I want to be in 2012.  So, with a new year, comes a fresh start.

One area I really want to grow myself is in daily Bible reading.   I read the Bible, but I haven’t read through it in a year in quite sometime.  I have other studies that I am doing, but I also want to just read through.  So, I am going to do M’Cheyne’s reading plan where you read 4 chapters a day.  The 4 chapters are broken down into 1 Old Testament, 1 Gospel, 1 prophet, and 1 letter.  It seems very doable.  So far, I’m on track!

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge my3boybarians.com

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lessons in kindness

A very touching event occured for me today and the messenger was both a stranger and a part of my life.  We met up with a friend and her children for lunch.  Our children ate their meals and ran off to play at the indoor playground as is customary during our  times of fellowship together.  My friend and I spent a good hour or more talking while the kids played.  Our children checked in with us at various times, as they do.  After the hour or so, a gentleman comes near our table and is making fairly strong eye contact with me.  My first thought was that he must think he knows me, but would be mistaken.  I had no indication of who he might be.  I returned the eye contact because I could tell he really wanted to speak.  He finally approached our table and asked if I were Gracyn’s mother.  I indicated that I was, and he sat down at our table.  My next thoughts were swirling to some failure on her part that we would need to address.  This gentleman became very reflective and began to explain to me how my daughter had shown his 2 year old grandson great kindness by playing with him in the playground.  He became emotional and teary as he explained how she walked the boy up the stairs and helped him down the slide.  She was patient and kind. She stayed by his side for over an hour.  He said he did not know how to thank her.  I explained that it wasn’t needed.  He was so grateful and cried because my daughter invested in his grandson selflessly.   My friend piped in that her kindness was because of Jesus.  I’m glad she did because I could barely speak…you know how it is when a man cries!  I was so very grateful for God’s work in her life and that she is understanding service.  The gentleman then laid a folded bill in front of me and asked me to buy her ice cream.  I wanted to refuse, and I tried.  However, something told me that it was important for him to reward her.   I thought too, that it would be a concrete way to reinforce the lesson to be kind and serve.   I was also grateful that he noticed and made an effort to praise the good her saw in her.  Encouragement is often neglected in this world and we take kindness for granted.   Our pride keeps us from raising another up.  We often don’t do the good we ought to do.  I am thankful that both my daughter and this man were living examples of kindness and encouragement.   Small acts and words can often be a balm to someone’s heart.   I’m thankful to see evidence of God’s work in my daughter’s heart.  It encourages me to know that He is sanctifying.  That folded bill was $10.  We were able to buy all the children ice cream and let Gracyn keep the $5 change.  We explained to the children that the only reason they had ice cream was because of Gracyn’s kindness…a great lesson to all!  My prayer is that my 3 kids will be able to continue effecting gospel change in this world!

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Jesse Tree

My desire was to show some of our Jesse Tree ornaments before now, but with everything else going on I neglected to take a few pictures of them.   Knowing I could not fit in a craft session to make our own ornaments, I chose to pay 30 well spent dollars for someone else’s craft.  I ordered these via Etsy from a lady in Brisbane, Australia. They are just made of felt, and I could probably make them myself. However, I’m thankful that I didn’t have to.  They were a bit late getting to me, but we’ve doubled up some of our readings to get caught up.

I so enjoy celebrating Advent.  I would recommend looking into it if you’ve never participated in Advent before.  Essentially, we are doing a daily reading from the Bible beginning with creation (or in my version, the Root of Jesse) teaching the prophesy of the coming Christ.  It’s so rich!  We hang a corresponding felt ornament on a 3 foot Christmas tree as we work our way to the birth of Christ on December 25th.  The ornaments help our children to remember the Bible readings we have done.  Many people also light candles every Sunday of Advent, which are symbolic.  We have yet to find an Advent “wreath” that we like to incorportate this yet.  Next year, I am going to be on the hunt!  Most of us have heard of the Advent calendar, and while we also turn a door every night, Advent is so much more than this!  It is a special time during our Christmas celebration.

These are a sample of the ornaments we have.  The cradle represents the promise to Abraham to have a child after years and years of waiting, as well as the covenant to give him offsrping as numerous as the stars (that’s us!).   The ram represents the provision of a sacrifice to take Isaac’s place on the altar.

Noah’s rainbow and Joseph’s coat of many colors

Advent is our main focus of Christmas, but in the spirit of honesty we do also have a visit from Santa.  We sum it up like this: We feel perfectly free to have Santa leave a few gifts under our tree.  We don’t think this unravels what we do to spiritually train our children all year long.  For the Christian, every day is Christmas and Easter.  The real meaning and celebration of Christmas isn’t confined to one month of the year.  It’s a daily revelation and celebration of what God has done for us.

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This and That

I think I have reached that point in the holiday season.   I have been to a few party-events.  I have baked for a cookie exchange that I didn’t even get to attend after all the work due to a miscommunication with my husband over schedules.  We’ve shopped and wrapped gifts.  My cards have been sent.  We’ve decorated.  I still have a couple fun things on the horizon, but I am at the point where I am ready to hunker down and savor the simple things that I love in the 10 days before Christmas.  It is this time that I like to slow down, drink hot tea, watch movies, bask by the fire, look at my tree and just ponder the sweetness of the gospel.   I love following that cord that begins with creation and leads up to the birth of our Savior.  It’s an amazing cord.  I am enjoying doing the Jesse Tree with the kids and introducing them to the continuity of the Old Testament and New.  I savor the time with our little family as we anticipate Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  We have all but finished our first semester of school and will be taking off until January 9th…if I can hold out that long!  I’m looking forward to time off to just rejuvenate for the 2nd half of the year.  I think we are all a little ready for more down time.  It’s such a sweet relief to know that we have this break upon us.

And for fun…enjoy my snowman with his bottle brush Christmas tree.

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simple, small reminders

Not long ago I mentioned the kid’s devotional Jesus Calling.  I have been using this book as our late-morning devotional that we do together (each child has other assigned morning Bible readings as part of their school program).  The readings are very short and give scripture readings additionally.  I have to say that I think my kids are enjoying this and are learning more about God’s character and love for them.  I too, am enjoying the simple and small reminders of God’s faithfulness and love in the midst of all the hustle of school work and household chores.  I have often thought that these little lessons are more for me!   Today’s devotion was on building the habit of trusting Jesus.  How timely the words, “I trust you, Jesus” were to me knowing I had things I am tempted to despair over.  I really didn’t need more words than that.  They were enough to sustain me until I had the time to devote to lengthier Bible reading in the afternoon.  Sometimes it’s the succinct that speaks to the heart more than abundant words.

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