The past couple Sundays I have shared some wonderful art related to the Word of God, making art in your journaling Bible to literally making art out of your Bible. These are ideas that have inspired me to approach the Scriptures with different eyes and express what God is showing me in different ways.
I shared some of Heather's from her book Word Made Art (be sure to check that out!). I also love that she has made something that takes the Word of God off of the page and into the every day beautiful all around us. These are pieces that could be framed around your home, reminding you of Scripture when you need it, making it more a part of your heart at all times.
I really love this chalk piece as well, reminding me seeking God is in the every day and creativity and beauty can be, too.
It isn't just when I sit down with a pen and my journal, pencil and a sketchpad. Doodling on the sidewalk with my kids. On the margins of my paper n a meeting.
If I truly want to seek God in my all day, every day life, His word will go in and flow out of me at all times.
So, go create!
Seek Him today in new ways!
**And now a fun bonus for all of my readers! Thank you for joining me as I write for 31 days in October. As a part of the Write 31 Day community, I am able to extend a great giveaway to you! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading!**
Learning to pray is learning to trust the wisdom, the power, and the love of our Heavenly Father, always so far beyond our dreams. He knows our need and knows ways to meet it that have never entered our heads. Things we feel sure we need for happiness may often lead to our ruin.
- Elisabeth Elliot
You would think I had heard the cliches enough to believe them. I mean that is why they are cliche, right? Because they are everywhere.
"Thank God for unanswered prayers!"
"Whenever God closes a door, He opens a window."
Most of the time I pray asking for God's will, but my heart is still clutching tightly to my own will. I have in mind these things that will make me happy. Good things, sometimes. Holy things. But it doesn't mean they are right for me right now. Trusting God to be in complete control of both my life and the timing of things is easier said than done, to quote another cliche.
We are having a bit of a struggle right now with our youngest. He is such a sweet boy, thoughtful and kind. He is also a four year old boy though! He wants what he wants and he wants it now! (Sound familiar? I think that is still in all of us. We just know how to conceal it a little better as adults?) He has been acting out in school, not listening to instructions. He wants to play right now, thank you. Not pay attention to learning his alphabet.
Playing outside is a wonderful thing. I want him to run and play and enjoy this beautiful fall. But we know that he needs to take a few minutes and trace some letters, look at some flashcards and learn with mommy. Real tears ensue and my heart breaks for my little man who just wants his way. But that is one reason why we here as parents - to do what is best for them for them in the long run.
But, oh how many internal fits do I throw when my Heavenly Father says "no" or "wait!"
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Jesus says these words in Matthew 7.9-11, illustrating how good our Father really is, how He really has our best in mind.
I know this in my head but quieting my heart to trust His wisdom is so much harder. I can pray for God's will all I want but until my heart is truly trusting before Him, really surrendered, they will just be words. I am trying to literally pray these days with open hands before Him, showing Him I am letting go of all that I hold onto in my heart and willing to accept what He gives as best.
It is a posture of submission, one I have to believe will work it's way into my heart with each prayer of, "your will be done."
**And now a fun bonus for all of my weekend readers! Thank you for joining me as I write for 31 days in October. As a part of the Write 31 Day community, I am able to extend a great giveaway to you! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading!**
Very rarely does a day pass that every item on the to-do list gets marked off.
My google calendar has more overlapping brightly colored blocks than white space.
Peek into my life on the weeks before an international trip and you will glimpse the definition of OCD! Charts of where each child is supposed to be and when, spreadsheets of schedules, packing lists and to-do lists. I am the epitome of Proverbs 19.21 that says, "Many are the plans in a person's heart."
Unfortunately for my heart, there is a second part of that verse that reads, "BUT it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Ouch! I like my purposes to prevail, my plans to succeed.
And interruptions? I am ashamed to admit they can reveal an ugly heart in me quicker than most anything else.
Children have created a greater need for all these schedules in my life but have also been my greatest reminder that interruptions are so often God's Divine appointments.
I may make a plan for the day but boo-boo's happen that need a bandaid and mommy's kisses. Dinner should be on the table by 6:00 but sitting with my daughter while she proudly shows me that first book she can read on her own means dinner can wait. Fevers mean working from home while I cuddle with a child in my lap. Walks can take precedence over cleaning or homework can push back the time we leave for church.
But then there are the interruptions in my day that I can sometimes get frustrated with. A co-worker needs to talk about the painful family situation she finds herself in while a deadline looms over my head. A friend needs help moving while my house remains a wreck because I haven't been home a single night in weeks.
If I don't guard my heart and hold my plans loosely, people around me in need can turn into interruptions in my schedule instead of opportunities to be the Body of Christ and show love.
When we lived in the Middle East, we saw what a truly person-oriented culture (instead of task-oriented) looks like. People felt free to just show up on our doorstep and stay for hours. You ran out to get a meal to prepare if afternoon tea turned into dinner. When you showed up late for an appointment it was completely normal to say, "oh, I stayed talking with this friend or helping out that person."
The person you were with took precedence over another commitment.
It was painful sometimes to live on "Egyptian time" but also beautiful to see people as the purpose, not the distraction.
Today I am praying for a quiet heart - the kind that is not rattled by interruptions, that can break plans to fulfill the Lord's purpose.
I have lived with a caged heart, raging inside of me like a bird beating its wings against the bars that confine it. I know Psalm 32.3-4 to be true because I lived it - "When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your heart of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat."
There was a sin that I held hidden in my heart for nearly two yeas. It was a rebellion against God and against someone I had loved. I reasons that since it was in the past and our relationship had changed, I didn't need to open an old wound. I knew in my heart that omission was a lie and I wouldn't be whole until I spoke the truth.
I confessed to God but there was still a heavy burden on my heart. I tried to put it out of my mind. Excuse it. Dismiss it.
The nagging pain in my heart kept coming back like that scab you continue to pick at, hoping it will go away. Only it needs to be mended, healed. I couldn't get the guilt out of my head. I couldn't pray anymore without it tugging at the corners of my mind, coming between me and God.
I finally choked back the shame I felt and wrote the letter I never wanted to pen. I showed the darkest parts of me to a person I had tried to present a holy front to.
I mailed that letter and though there was a twinge of fear at what he would think in the pit of my stomach, my heart finally felt free. I felt forgiven. Even though God had already forgiven me, the weight on me, His hand of discipline, demanded I make it right by the truth.
I later sat at dinner with this man and had a hard conversation about the past, and a hopeful one about the future. It wasn't easy but it was right. I could now live out Psalm 32.5: "Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the Lord,' and you forgave me! All my guilt is gone."
The raging inside subsided. My heart was quiet again.
Whenever I feel a disquiet groaning again in my soul, I try to remember that time in my life and ask God to show me unconfessed sin that holds my heart captive. I know I will only experience freedom and a quiet heart when I am willing to confess.
I see so much of myself in my daughter. It is really cute when she cocks that hip out and stands just like me or when I watch her in ballet class and remember just what it was like to be in front of that mirror.
It isn’t as much fun when I see my strong willed defiance in her. The way she can argue with a wall. Yep, that’s me, too.
I also see so much I want to protect her tender little heart from. She is so compassionate and caring but that comes with a dark side.
Like me, she is a people pleaser. She just got the cutest little hair cut. She proudly sent off her 8-inch ponytail to help make a wig for a woman who might have lost her hair to cancer treatments. She sports this sassy stacked bob now.
Her main concern, though, is what everyone else will think of it. “Mom, do you really like it?” she asked me at least ten times the day she got it cut.
She also wants desperately to please God. I will never forget when we were having a discussion about a Bible story and I was trying to help her see that God gives us guidelines to live by because He has our best in mind. I asked her to imagine there were no rules and she could do whatever she wanted. A look of fear came over her petite features. “But I want to follow the rules,” she squeaked. “I want to make Jesus happy!”
Oh sweet girl! I want to make sure she understands that following rules isn’t going to make Jesus love her anymore than He already does and that breaking them isn’t going to make her fall out of some sort of favor with Him. I try to talk often, as I did today, with her about how God sees the heart and cares more about knowing us than us following some list of rules.
But I know the source of her fears. They are mine, too.
I daily struggle to focus more on faith than deeds. The aim to please, the way I was taught for so many years to understand the Bible – so much has conditioned me to think I have to do to be some sort of Christian ideal.
There is such a fine line between doing to please and doing out of loving obedience. I have always focused on the second half of Jeremiah 17.10 that says He will “reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
As my daughter and I were talking about the heart today I read the Message version of this verse: “But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”
My need to please lessened it’s grip on my heart a bit when I read those words. God knows our hearts and cares more about the why than the what. If we are staying connected to Him and we mess up, He knows us as we really are. Not as who we want Him to see. Not as who we hope our actions show us to be.
Whether we are six, thirty-four, or seventy-five – this is difficult to understand and hard to do.
Today I am trying, though, to quiet my heart, knowing He sees me. He knows me. And He loves me no matter what.