Thursday, October 31

The Art I Make and Live

Today, before I post the very last of this 31 Day series, I'm pausing to remember the ways I make and live art in the different areas of my life.

Emily over at Chatting at the Sky, is hosting a link-up on her blog, where she has invited her readers to share their lives with each other as the conclusion to her 31 Day series. I thought it would be a good exercise for me to be involved in; finding out what the making of art looks like in my world, and the way I actually live out art in not so obvious ways.

 I've written many words this last month, so the remainder of this post will simply be in pictures.

We all make and live art. In fact, I wrote about this and Emily's new book a couple days ago.

This is a sampling of the ways I do this.


Please excuse the following tiny pictures, they're stuck that way!



{Day 30} The Other Side of October - 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

I love October for numerous reasons. I love how crunchy and colorful leaves swirl to the ground when the wind blows. I delight in the arrival of all things pumpkin-related in stores and coffee shops. I enjoy decorating the inside of my house for fall and Thanksgiving. And I even get a warm, cozy feeling as the chill hits the air and the sky is a brilliant blue.

photo by debcll: Creative Commons

I can't forget to mention the scarves, boots, and sweaters that enter into wardrobes this time of year either. I just love them. When skinny jeans came on the scene (whenever that was) I vowed I'd never step foot in a pair. There was just no way I was putting my body, which was perpetually postpartum, into a pair of the little devils. But I've changed my mind. Still, I have yet to wear a pair in public without a safety net (aka: a pair of boots over top), but I may get there at some point. Thankfully for me, freezing temperatures and snow are on their way; so boots it is.

The lovely parts of October aside, there is one side of October I don't look forward to: the arrival of Halloween.

Just driving through our neighborhood this time of year is a chore. You just never know what you're going to get. There is one homeowner, who through the years, consistently enjoys decorating with things like fake bloody heads on stakes, front lawn graveyards, ghosts hung with eerie spotlighting on them, and ginormous spider webs covering their front entry among others. When the d├ęcor is especially horrific at this address, we take another route in and out of the neighborhood. This drives me nuts. And makes me sorry for the neighbors that live on that street.

This isn't the only reason Halloween is not hallowed by this gal, but it's a start. Can I just say that November 1st is one of my favorite days of the year? Seriously.

This post isn't here to convince you to celebrate Halloween or not. I write today to give you some food for thought. I believe we sometimes do things because we've always done things. Or because most people do these things. We, as a mass of people, won't be standing before the Lord together. It will be as individuals.

I pray you seek for yourself and the family you lead what will please God above anything else.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

After seeing a certain article flash across my facebook news feed all week, I finally read it. Then I read it to my older kids this morning during school. (FYI: There was one section omitted in my reading to them, because they just aren't there yet.) This article helped solidify our position on the holiday even more, and helped our kids see the reason for their parents' decision. Seeing the light bulb in your kids' minds go from dim to brightly lit, when understanding a concept, is a beautiful thing to see as a mom.

I wholeheartedly agree to what the author shared. And am thankful she did. I hope you'll decide to give it a read as well.
10 Reasons I Kissed Halloween Goodbye by Michele Blake

"God wants His people to be holy, which means to be set apart. If everyone else is doing something, and I’m doing it too, that is a good time to examine myself to see if I’m really in the faith. If people don’t look at me and think I am peculiar (1 Peter 2:9) — if I fit right in with our culture and no one can tell I am any different — then I am probably doing something wrong.

The Bible doesn’t say that we should have less to do with darkness than other people do; it says have nothing to do with evil. By even acknowledging and associating with the holiday, I was giving credence to it in my life and opening myself to deception."

Wednesday, October 30

{Day 29} And Then She Wrote About a Chicken - Matthew 23:37

"Annika, what should I write today's blog post about? When we get home tonight I have to write an entire blog post, and I have no idea what I'm going to say."

Annika, age 5 answers back as quick as lightning, "You should write about a chicken."

A chicken? Alrighty then.

I sat here at the computer for 30 minutes trying to get the chicken out of my head and think of a real topic. But she just wouldn't leave. So I decided to let my mind wander there.

Let's see... what kind of scripture-based material could I come up that is based on a chicken? I can't believe I just typed that out. Hmm... Noah's ark (just not feeling it)... animal sacrifice (no thank you).

But wait. Wait! There's that verse that says there are times God wants to be like a mother hen who gathers her chicks and protects them under the comfort of her wings. Now we're talking. I can't wait to tell Annie when she wakes up tomorrow.

Photo by Topinambour - Creative Commons

Matthew 23:37

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

By itself, this verse may seem strange and confusing. So let's talk about its meaning and discuss the back story a bit. Verse 37 begins with Jesus shaking his head at the leadership of Jerusalem during his day. Namely King Herod and other city leaders. Jesus laments that Israel keeps rejecting God's call for them to repent. The plot to kill Jesus isn't revealed until later on in the book of Matthew (chapter 26), but as we can imagine, the city's leaders were not exactly happy with the things Jesus was saying about them.

And then we get to the chicken part.

Jesus then likens the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the trinity) to a mother hen. He reveals his desire to call His children to Himself and shelter them like a mama hen does her chicks. But they don't want to. I think of a stubborn 3 year-old who, when given the offer of a hug from mama, turns his back. Denying the gift of a hug. Staying firmly planted in his poor choice.

I must say, looking at pictures of hens gathering chicks unto herself, was one of the highlights of my day. Go ahead. Go to Google. Click on the word Image at the top of the page, then type in these search words "hen chicks under wing." Just try it. I gasped at the beauty of it all.

If you would just repent, stubborn city! I'd be able to scoop you up in love like I've been longing to. (my paraphrase)

I don't want to be a stubborn city. And I don't want to be like a headstrong toddler either. I want to be a chick who is accepting the shelter of the Most High God. Under His wings.

Psalm 61:4

Let me dwell in your tent forever!
    Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
There you have it. A blog post about a chicken that took me two hours to write when I was running on fumes. The end.


Tuesday, October 29

{Day 28} The Skies Aren't the Only Ones Proclaiming - Psalm 19:1

Tonight, nine hungry souls were about to devour the result of my labor in the kitchen, as they often do. The dinner was piping hot, ready to be scooped onto plates. An hour's work would soon morph into fuel that would fill bellies in mere minutes.

As I mustered up the courage to call the kids to dinner (you do know what I mean, right?), I looked out the back door to see that a burning sunset was beginning to paint the landscape. The mountains were bathed in a pinkish hue, and the field of grass that juts up against the spot where the rivers meet the ocean when the tide is out, were a brilliant burnt orange.

From my vantage point, the trees were blocking too much of the view I knew lay beyond. And I felt frustrated I couldn't just reach out and part the trees like Moses parted the waters.

So I grabbed my camera, made sure it was okay for me to bail on the family and dinner, and then bolted. I drove to my dad and stepmom's house, which is just through the trees and possesses a view like no other.

Psalm 19:1 immediately came to mind as I watched heavens show off while the sun furthered it's decent. The skies were definitely making a proclamation on this night.

Psalm 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

As I stood there snapping picture after picture, my thoughts moved to the book I'm reading called A Million Little Ways, written by a new friend. She wrote this book for us all -- because we too declare the glory of God.

    "If history is anything to go on, then one thing I know for sure is, the job I do with my hands will change over time.
    I don't believe there is one great thing I was made to do in this world. I believe there is one great God I was made to glorify. And there will be many ways, even a million little ways, I will declare his glory with my life." - pg. 40

 The way you pack lunches for school, write thank you notes after a party, or snip bangs that hang over eyes is one of the many ways He declares His glory through you. But we struggle with how to reconcile the different gifts and talents we see evident in the lives around us. Our gifts seem small or useless sometimes. And we don't like that feeling.

    "We may be displeased with the ways he wants to reveal his glory through us because they don't look like the ways he reveals his glory through others." - pg. 27 

But what if we believed our role was just as important as violins are to an orchestra. And bees are to pollination? They're vital parts, playing important roles. Just like us.

Next time you look at the skies as they proclaim the work of His hands, remember that you too declare the glory of God in that way only you can.

Sunday, October 27

{Days 26 & 27} Fixed - Hebrews 12:1-2

This weekend, may you find yourself fixed.

Firmly fixed on Him. Removing your gaze from fear, striving, hardship, health, relationships, plans, and worries.

Turn instead to gaze at Him. The One who endured the unthinkable to bring us into the unbelievable.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Friday, October 25

{Days 24 & 25} Encouraging Progress - Hebrews 3:13

Everything seemed to be going wrong that day.

I was constantly having to redirect or discipline the three year olds, and the baby was walking around whining and crying the day away as were trying to do school. Nothing could satisfy her. I tried everything from feeding, changing, snuggling, playing, and holding her to no avail. She just wanted to be grumpy. And she furrowed her brow decidedly, as if she were locking in the grump.

I could have called off school for a time and sent us all outside for a change of pace, but I didn't. I stuck to my guns, because this was supposed to play out just like I'd planned it, right?

So laughable, I know.

With children, nothing goes as planned. Unless you plan for some chaos.

These circumstances were frustrating to me, but that wasn't the problem. I was the problem. I was letting them frustrate me. When I let myself become unglued on the inside, it ties me up in knots. Then I become upset with myself, and take it out on everyone under the age of thirteen in the form of frustrated sighs and curt answers as a tension headache builds.

Guilt sneaks in and whispers,

"You really should be good at this by now. Or at least better than you are. They deserve more."

I inwardly agree, and wallow in my immaturity. Then fear chimes in,

"These kids are going to laugh at you later on. They're going to tell all sorts of stories to their spouses and children about how grumpy you could get over nothing."

I shudder to think of the stories told, and vow to keep the material for future stories to a minimum.

Naptime came at one o'clock, as it always does, and the Hallelujah Chorus began to echo through the halls of my mind. I was feeling better about the day, and about myself, now that I had nothing to be frustrated about. Or so I thought.

After unlocking my brain and kicking my feet up on the couch for a bit, I was feeling even better. There's just something about being able to truly think for the first time in a day. And then I remembered our dinner plans. We planned for it to be a crock pot day, and it was now 2:30, and I'd yet to turn on a crock pot. I dashed to the fridge to pull out the meat Jeremy had prepped for me the night before. He cut up the chicken so I could just throw it in the crockpot and pour the sauce over top. Easy Peasy.

But the chicken was not the chicken I was expecting. Don't laugh.
My dear husband had cut up the chicken like a saint, but I was imagining boneless skinless sorts of chicken (like I always used in this recipe). Not the skin-on bone-in stuff that was laying raw before me. I seriously couldn't figure out how to make this recipe without my kind of chicken.

I picked up the phone, half frustrated and half curious. What in the world did he expect me to do with this kind of chicken? Okay, you can laugh now. I was ridiculous.

I got ahold of him at work, and held it together as best I could. As I dialed, I changed my mind. I wasn't frustrated with him. He's a dinner-savior who cut up chicken to help me out. I was now frustrated with me (again) for being frustrated with him. I kindly asked him what I should do, because he's a great cook and loves to lend a hand.

Then I burst into tears. About chicken, about me, about this cycle of frustration. Then he had to cut the conversation short, poor man, because he shares an office with another man. And it may have gotten awkward talking to a woman who was crying about dinner, but wasn't really crying about dinner. I hung up, put the funky chicken in the crockpot, poured the sauce on top, and turned it to high with hopes it would be ready in 2.5 hours.

He called back about an hour later to check on me. With compassion filling his voice, he asked, "How are you?"

"I'm great now!" I chirped. And I was. But I imagined I sounded like a scary female version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Crazy one minute, fine the next.

Then he said five words that make be cringe, "Can I tell you something?"

Immediately, I'm thinking he's going to tell me that I should really work on all of this. This cycle I've been finding myself in, for, oh, I don't know -- a year? But he doesn't.

He says, "It's a real sign of maturity, you know. How quickly you bounce back from frustration these days." Wait. What? Me, mature?

Like mature in my faith, mature? Wow, that was not what I was expecting him to say. Here I was, berating myself for getting frustrated so easily, and there he was seeing progress. I had been making beautiful progress! I saw it too once I took my eyes off my failures.

You're making progress too, you know. Like the way you bite your tongue instead of telling someone how wrong you think they are. Or the way you step out in faith in the midst of uncertainty, rather than hiding from it. Author Lysa TerKeurst calls it "imperfect progress."

That's me. I'm progressing imperfectly.

This was an incredible gift for me to receive. And I'm thinking people in your life would appreciate receiving it too. How can you encourage someone today who is making progress you can see?

Be an encouragement to that someone.

Hebrews 3:13

13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Wednesday, October 23

{Day 23} Let Your Light Shine, But Say It Your Own Way - Matthew 5:16

Matthew 5:16

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Creative Commons: Walt Jabsco

"Let your light shine" is a familiar saying to us. We first heard it in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), and have come to know it means we should share the good news about Jesus with our words and with our life by the things we do and say. To hopefully inspire others into action. But we fear we may be doing it the wrong way.


We have things to say or do, and things we feel we can contribute. But we shrink back because we remember that people have already written books on it, or are already doing it. That thing we do or are passionate about too.

I'm beginning to understand that there's really nothing new to say, but there is a new perspective - yours. And that makes it sparkly and brand-new all over again.

So don't be afraid to say it your way. Do it with your unique spin. Because you're the only one who can do that.

Let your light shine, not so others will think you're fabulous (even though you probably are), but so they may look to God and praise Him. Be the conduit. The waterslide from which they shoot out laughing into the pool of God's love.

But do it or say it your own way. It's easy to want to emulate others. How they mother, cook, use their gifts, or share their faith. But it wasn't mean to work that way.

Be true the one you were created to be.

I love the song, Shine by Christa Wells--she crafts her thoughts so beautifully into song. I can't get this one out of my head. Care to scroll down and listen along?

Yes, it’s hard to believe/
When you’re well aware that you’re not what you mean to be/
And your house is full of unfinished rooms/
’Cause you’re fond of starts, but you find it hard to follow through/
You think you’re recognized by your faults/
But the mirror that you hold is false/

’Cause you shine//
He shines His light through a prism/
We give back what we’re given/
To color this, to color this/
To color this world, color this world/
Be the friend you never had/Be the one to take a stand/
Say it your way, say it your way/Say it your own way//

And it’s hard to believe/
That I count as much as those on either side of me/
’Cause I don’t have it, whatever it takes/
To be like them, they are gifted in so many ways/
Yes, we could lay our talents in the earth/
We could pile on the doubt like dirt/
Or we can shine//

He shines His light through a prism/
We give back what we’re given/
To color this, to color this/
To color this world, color this world/
Be the friend you never had/
Be the one to take a stand/
Say it your way, say it your way/
Say it your own way//

Shine, we shine, His light refracted/
Shine, we shine His light refracted//


{Day 22} Is He Calling You Out? - Matthew 14:28-32

{As you begin reading today's post, consider scrolling to the end to start the song, then come back to begin reading.}

photo credit: Sea of Galilee fritzmb Creative Commons

There the disciples were, piling into a boat, pushing off to cross the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had just fed the five thousand (Matthew 14), and had gone away alone to pray on a mountainside.

The wind and waves were battering the boat, and it was late.

Then there He was. Walking toward their rocking boat on top of the waves. The disciples were afraid, and rightly so, when they saw a figure moving toward them. Jesus quickly said, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."

You probably know what happened next.

Matthew 14:28-32

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

Has Jesus been knocking on your heart, asking you to come? Is He asking you to walk upon the waters with Him?

This song (Oceans by Hillsong United) has been accompanying me on a journey these last 6 months. Well, it's been years in the making actually, but more specifically for this last half of a year. He's asked me to join Him out on the waters. Many times I've doubted, started sinking, and He's reached His hand out to me, asking me to believe.

I can't wait to share in the coming months more of this journey, but for now, I'm going to ask you to do something...

Consider how He may be asking you to join Him out on the waters.

Maybe He's asking something of you. Just like He does of me. It might be a change He wants to see in you. Or maybe a step He's asking you to take.

"Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."


Monday, October 21

{Day 21} The Reward is Coming - Matthew 5:12

Just seven minutes ago, I walked out of the third bedroom, where I tucked in the third little afternoon napper.

And I was spent. Grumpy. Kind of how I was feeling just four days ago.
One child spilled another child's entire bowl of chili just moments before at lunch, I had to give the baby a bath before laying her down because she was such a mess after lunch, and I've had a raging headache and backache all day.

I was mumbling like the mean ol' Grinch as I walked back to the kitchen to see what other messes needed mopping, when I ran smack into the memory verse the kids are working on this week.

Bah humbug and other sorts of grumpy words like those that fly out of Mr. Scrooge's mouth were at the ready when I saw this. What is it with me and miserable Christmas-y characters today?

I know the reward is coming. I know. I know! Is it too much to ask for some of it to be here right now?

Do you ever feel that way?

The work we do is hard. It's mind-numbing, repetitive, and there are all sorts of other things we'd like to be doing or need to be doing in addition to this most important work.

How do we rejoice in the present, while still dreaming of the future? I know we aren't to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34), but thinking about the good things to come, is in fact good.

But do the good things that are to come make you not want to be a part of God's will for you in the here and now?

This brings us to Luke 16:10, and the whole idea that if we are being half-hearted or ungrateful with the small stuff (now), we'll in turn be half-hearted and ungrateful with the big stuff (then).

Ooh. I don't want to be found unfaithful in either place.

If we're half-hearted and ungrateful for our circumstances now--we'll still be half-hearted and ungrateful when they change.

I want to be present in the now. I'm a dreamer, so this task of doing the mundane day in and day out is terribly difficult at times.

It seems like each and every day I have to recommit to trusting in His plan for today. Today is here, it can't be taken back, but today can bring forth rewards that are waiting of us in eternity.

Matthew 5:12

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The reward comes by being faithful today. In what He has given me to do. Even the mundane and headache inducing.

I desire to live a life that piles up the rewards in heaven, don't you?

Sunday, October 20

{Days 19 & 20} More Than Enough - Lamentations 3:22-24

Flickr Creative Commons: hoangnt

This weekend, may you know God's love for you never ends.

His mercy goes on forever.
In fact, a fresh delivery arrives each morning.

The Lord is more than enough.
This weekend, may you grab onto this hope, and live it's truth.

Lamentations 3:22-24

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;

23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Have a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, October 19

{Day 18} Those Lovely Funky Moods - Colossians 3:17

This post in the 31 Day series is brought to you by the word Forgotten. Here I sit at 9:00 p.m., having just remembered that I had a post to write today. Just being honest here, in case you ever got the crazy notion in your head that I've got it all together.

Today was one of those days where I just didn't want to be doing what I was doing.

I didn't want to homeschool. I didn't want Jeremy to be working overtime anymore. I didn't want to be avoiding sugar and grains on this cleanse I'm in the middle of. And I didn't want to be feeling the way I was feeling. I didn't. I didn't. I didn't.

Doesn't it sound like I was a cheerful person to be around today?

Just ask my kids, they'd tell you that mom was a wee bit off her game. So, lets talk about those funky moods we find ourselves in, because I'm fresh out of one. And don't want to be back into one in the next week, which has been the pattern.

The end of the week comes, and mom is grumpy again on Friday because she's spent and feeling behind.

Flickr Creative Commons: Phae

I know without a doubt, that the troubles of the day would have disappeared, had I just rested. Just stopped the thought pattern that caused me to wish I could be doing something else in those moments. And rested in what God gave me to do today.

And what He gave me to do was good. It is good.

Here's the verse that plays over and over in my mind on days like these:

Colossians 3:17

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Sort of stops you in your tracks, doesn't it?  I do want to do everything for Him. Not for me--because it makes me happy or excited. But for Him because I'm doing His work. The work He gives me is good. His assignments for me bring joy.

Joy that no bad attitude, or "if only" statements can take away.

What situations in life are making you cranky? What verses help you get on the other side of a funky mood?

Friday, October 18

{Day 17} Thankful for Everything (Even the Ugly Parts) - Ephesians 5:20

The word thankful is a common one (or at least I hope it is) in our everyday language.

"Man, I'm so thankful it's not raining today."

"You are a wonderful daughter. I'm thankful for you. "

It is good and right to be thankful.

We're usually thankful for the obvious stuff. (And that's good too.)

A pay raise. A roof over our heads. Churches we love. Children. Chocolate. A sunny day.

But, are we thankful too for the ugly stuff in our lives? Should we be?

A friend of mine was in a heartbreaking situation some time ago. Her whole world was flipped upside down and then inside out. In the middle of this great trial, we would regularly talk it all out. In our conversations, we waded through the wreckage to see if anything was salvageable. At one point we got on the topic of thankfulness.

She couldn't imagine what there was to be thankful for. At all. It looked bleak. The future was uncertain. And the word thankful certainly wasn't rolling off her tongue.

I suggested that she look for things to be thankful for in the midst of this circumstance. Not be thankful for the whole situation, but be looking for the things to be thankful for in and around it.

That seemed to sit well with her. But it didn't sit well with me. It has wrecked me for months.

Should we be thankful for everything? I mean, everything?

Ephesians 5:20

20   ... giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, ...

I yanked this verse (mid-paragraph) out of Ephesians 5, which is talking about how the beloved children of God are to act.

God isn't say here that we are to be thankful for the good and some of the inconvenient. He's saying everything. E V E R Y T H I N G. Oh, that's so humbling. And so difficult.

The only way I can reconcile all of this is that we're thankful for the trials because of the good we know He is working on our behalf through our circumstances.

Are we thankful for broken legs in car crashes?
Or house fires that take our homes?

It's a tricky bit. But if I know God, and I'm pleased to say I do, I'd say He meant what he said.

Give thanks always and for everything.

I'd love for you to join in the conversation today (and everyday). Tell me, what does this verse speak to you?

How does this play out in your lives?

Wednesday, October 16

{Day 16} Words and Thoughts - Psalm 19:14

You won't hear much from me today because I'm in bed feeling poorly while my husband, who has just walked in the door from work, is wrangling the kids and dinner prep in one fell swoop.

And he's happy to do it. I love him so much.

But even in my state tonight, I couldn't miss the opportunity to share God's Word with you. So today, I'll leave you with this:

Psalm 19:14

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,

   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
God, we want to please you with the things we say and the things we think. We want to honor you and those in our lives with our whole hearts. We cling to you, our Rock and Redeemer!