Something has been bugging me lately. I’ve seen it in the people around me, heard it mentioned in Sunday sermons, and thought a lot about why it’s such a problem.
NEGATIVITY. Specifically, fostering a habit of negativity in relationships, which makes us miserable. It’s the husband who complains about his wife, and then his wife in turn gripes about something he did last week. Or the woman who gripes about her sister’s issues, failing to acknowledge that she shares many of those same issues. And if someone harps on me about some perceived shortcoming of mine, of course I want to gripe back “Well, you’re not so perfect either!”
Have you ever bought a piece of art, brought it home, only to realize you have no idea what to do with it?
Or you’re staring at a blank wall or an empty corner, and wishing you could fill it with art and make it beautiful, but there are a million possibilities! What color? How many artworks to hang? Too many choices.
In my bedroom, I have a favorite art display, filled with inspirational images and Bible verses. And what I’ve realized is that it didn’t come about all at once, but rather one piece at a time.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” -Luke 17:5-6
When is the last time you asked God for more faith? Maybe yours is but a speck of dust, and you want to grow it to mustard-seed-size. Maybe you even want to walk on water, so to speak (see Matthew 14:22-33).
When I sat down to doodle/practice hand lettering a while back, this is what came out of my pen: Faith can move mountains. I remember doodling the word ‘faith’, and then thinking “What should I write next?”. And that’s when the ‘…can move mountains’ part came to my mind.
No, NO, not THAT kind of morning person—the one who gets up at 4am and actually enjoys it. I have never been, nor ever will be, a true morning person. What I have become, however, is an “in the morning, give me Jesus” kind of person. Just rarely before 7am, and even then, only if I have to. 😉
Prior to a few months ago, anytime I heard someone talk about spending more than five minutes on prayer or Bible reading in the morning, I would think that person is either crazy or really blessed to have the time/energy to devote to that. When a friend of mine told me she wakes up 30 minutes early to pray before going to work each day, I thought ‘that’s admirable, but totally not for me’.
This past week has been kinda crazy, but I still want to wish you a blessed Happy Easter week, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet.
My grandpa passed away on March 31, just barely beyond his 95th birthday on March 30. It was semi-expected, but still unexpected in how quickly everything went downhill. I had just sat next to him at his birthday celebration the weekend before; he was still walking and talking, albeit slowly and with difficulty, and I never would’ve thought he would only be with us five more days.
So, like I said, it’s been a tough week. Bittersweet is the word that keeps coming to mind. Because he led a life of faith in Christ, I have the peace of knowing that he’s rejoicing in heaven now. And that feels especially significant with Easter coming…
Yesterday, for Palm Sunday, my pastor spoke about the importance of the cross. In short, that Jesus is nothing without the cross (the crucifixion and resurrection). The VICTORY over death couldn’t have come without the pain and sacrifice that Jesus endured on our behalf.
PRAYER. It’s your lifeline to communicate with God, right?! Certainly, the Bible has much to say about it, like how to pray, or what to expect (answers!).
But how few of us really put in the effort to pray like the Scriptures tell us to?
And yet, there are such rich rewards in a strong prayer life! Closer relationship with God. Answers to your struggles, and peace for the prayers he’s not yet answered. Deep and abiding joy in Him, even in the midst of the mess.
I know this, because I’ve experienced it firsthand. I’m here to tell you that having a rich prayer life does make a world of difference. And if I can do it, so can you.
Isn’t it wonderful that God loves us so much, he’s willing to forgive us? That he sent his one and only Son to die on a cross as a living sacrifice, so that we could have eternal life? So amazing!
Several months ago, I set out to capture this wondrous truth on paper. I’d been totally inspired by the Stars Go Dim song “You Are Loved”, and was excited to test out my brush calligraphy skills to create some John 3:16 art.
Sitting in my favorite cozy chair (an IKEA poang chair, in case you’re wondering), I scribbled a colorful starburst with brush pens. Then I used a water brush to turn those scribbles into a watercolor background. Super fun! It took me a few tries to hand letter the words, as you can see in the photos below.
Have you ever grappled with the question, “If God really loves me so much, why is my life such a mess”?
I certainly have.
It seems to be a very common way of thinking: That if God loves me, why did he let me endure so much heartache/tragedy/misery? If he cares for me, why am I still struggling to feed my family? Why has my career never taken off, I’m still single, my relationship with my spouse is strained, etc. etc. etc.?
CONFESSION: The other day, I was enjoying making some crafts, when I had a thought. A very self-incriminating thought. I often ‘love’ design, art, and crafts more than I love God. And also more than I love my neighbor.Ouch.
I’ve always had a great passion for creative pursuits of all kinds; ever since my Girl Scouting days, and on through my graphic design studies in college, I’ve enjoyed making cool stuff from scratch.
But now, I’ve reached that point in my relationship with Christ where I’m getting called out on some things that need to be fixed… and this is one of them.
Yesterday was a great day! I finally nailed the “grace wins every time” design that I’ve been aiming for. You know how frustrating it is when you try to accomplish something, but the results are just not panning out the way you intended? Well, my previous attempts just didn’t look right, and I finally realized why… It was because I’d forgotten to focus on the meaning of grace, and really let that come through in the art.
News flash: GRACE is AMAZING.
In order to focus on the meaning, I was listening to “Call It Grace” by Unspoken, and “Grace Wins” by Matthew West (the latter of which was my initial inspiration to create this art), and OH BOY…I got choked up. Putting brush to paper, painting a cross, and it just really hit me how beautiful grace really is. Tears threatened to fall. How amazing it is, what Jesus did for you & I on the cross!
So here today, I want to break down exactly what the Bible says about grace. But first, what does the word “grace” actually mean?