My Confession

I have a confession to make. I hope you won't judge me harshly, as it's something we've probably all done, especially we women. I have been more "Martha" than "Mary".101_0021

I confess I've been more concerned with the 'things' in my life--(especially my office and my physical surroundings) than my time spent with the Lord.

OUCH.

Kinda hurts when He makes it that clear and personal.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman name Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made...'Martha, Martha,'the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" --Luke 10:38-41(NIV)

I confess I've let 'things' keep me from spending time with my Lord, even today.

My intention was to do my devotional time first, then take care of the little things in the kitchen that always seem to pile up.

HA!

My day started with Bible reading, thanks to an app on my phone. It is not an in-depth Bible study I'm looking at, but it is God's Word, rather than birds with anger issues. Yet I found myself dozing back to sleep while reading.

Once down in the kitchen, my eyes swept along the counter needing a good wipe and the dishwasher needing to be emptied. The dirty dishes on the counter waiting to be cleaned lined the cabinet, like a marching band at the Macy's parade.

I couldn't ignore them; there was no room to prep vegetables for a smoothie.

(I confess this is my new way of getting more vegetables into my diet.)

As I pulled the bag of spinach from the bottom of the refrigerator, I noticed a brownish puddle near the bottom of the bins.

It appears the hamburger I bought the other day had leaked its contamination all over the bottom of the 'fridge. This necessitated me emptying the bottom half of the 'fridge, and cleaning and disinfecting the walls, drawers and shelves, causing a muscle spasm in my back.

I won't confess some of the phrases that passed through my mind at this point.

But midway through, I heard the reminder from God, that I still hadn't spent time with Him.

Surely after dinner I would have some uninterrupted time.

And then, while preparing dinner, I made two deep slices in my right index finger, requiring 6 stitches.

I have to confess, I was pretty bummed by this time.

Yet, as the words were barely formed in my mind, I heard the Lord ask, " Will you give up your time with me so easily?"

The enemy of my soul would like nothing better than keeping me away from my time with God. Oh no satan--you will not win this time.

And as I prayed, confessed my weaknesses, and repented of my wishy-washy behavior, I felt company. Jesus was here with me, after all. I expect Him to come to my aid.

I must confess my unbelief, that He will do what He said He will do.

How will you respond? What do you need to confess?

A Beautiful Work

This was my studio today.100_9975 I have no less than 7 projects going at the same time.

I love this!

Although I am a mise en place (a French term that means 'everything in place') kinda girl, especially when it comes to my sock drawer, a messy studio is a delight to me.

It means I'm doing.

It means the creative juices are flowing.

It means I've gotten excited about my passion again.

It means I'm doing work I was created to do!

So I am not surprised to read in my beloved copy of "Come Away My Beloved" by Frances J. Roberts, these words:

"...There is work to be done, and I need you as a vessel through which to work......I want to do a beautiful work.......There will be inconveniences to be born, self-pleasing to be laid aside, and sacrifices and pain--but what a blessed reward I have in store! Yes, in store for you, if you are able to let Me use you the way I desire....

You are not unworthy; you are not unprepared. You have no reason to hold back...draw closer to Me, and I will pour My love out upon you......Lo, I wait for you..."

Chosen. For this. My work. 100_9979

Unbelief? Or My Six Words?

I've been dealing with a health issue of late. I'm fine now, but while I was going through it, I had numerous people "praying over" me. Please don't misunderstand. I welcome prayer.

I'm considered a 'prayer warrior'--one who will pray at any time, day or night, for an issue brought to my attention. I will keep at it, until I hear otherwise, or have peace over the matter. Sometimes I'll pray for a day and not pray again until a week later. I will pray for as long as the Lord leads.

But I never prayed for my own healing.

I've never been one to 'demand' God heal me right now simply because I asked it in Jesus' Name. I see that as me thinking God is a magician, here to do my bidding. I've never experienced God in that way. My first inclination is to ask Him,"What do You want me to learn from this?"

"How will this bring You the most Glory?"

I remember when my mom had cancer. She stayed with me during her treatments, as she was too weak to care for herself. In that six weeks of daily radiation (52 miles each way), I had a cancer scare of my own. I remember thinking, "Lord, if I have to have cancer to show my mom Your glory, bring it." It wasn't even a conscious thought--it was just suddenly there.

I believe the things that happen to me, happen because my Heavenly Father allows them to be there.

How else would I learn? How else could I testify? How else will I encourage others to seek His Face in the middle of their trial?

I hold tightly to six words found in Daniel 3, found in verse 18.

(Starting in Daniel 3,) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Six words. "But even if He does not..."

I may not like the trials set before me.

He could have healed me at any time, or not at all.

He still can...if He chooses.

Six little words. I believe them.

Welcome to My New Web Site!

Thank you so much for being a part of my new launch! There's lots of information here, so feel free to browse around a bit. Remember, I'm still a work in progress; please stop by often to see what I'm up to next--or better yet, subscribe to my updates! Then you won't miss a thing--and I even put together a free gift when you subscribe!

"Ordinary Places--Extraordinary God" features some of my photographs with Scripture, showing evidence of His Presence all around us. There's one for each day of the week.

My blog, "Still Water and Ponderings" will be published on Mondays, focusing on encouragement, prayer and wisdom from the Bible.

A new blog, "ArtFully Speaking", will be out on Wednesdays. I will be talking about the stories behind my biblically-based art work and its personal meaning. Look for my first post next Wednesday!

If you'd like to see some of my artwork, browse the art work gallery or the art work in progress in the studio.

Topics for my speaking ministry, ArtFully Yours Ministry can be found here.

Anything else you'd like to know? Just leave me a comment below and I'll answer any questions you might have.

Have fun browsing! And don't forget to subscribe for your free gift! Thanks!

Attempt at Productivity - Step 1

These cookies are my undoing.I'm blaming hormonal changes at this point, but I realize this is too much information.

Pardon my digression.

I started out today fully intending to leave my home office--(where a thousand things are waiting to be done) and sit at my local coffee/sandwich place of choice to get some serious writing done.

After running 4 errands, I arrived, starved, ready to get busy. Only 2 more errands after this and I could check all those "to-do's" off today's list.

And you know God laughed.

Sigh.

I set myself into a corner table near an outlet to finish my devotion before the writing session. As I'm finishing up my reading from Proverbs, a young couple sit diagonally behind me. Fine. I can tune them out.

Then the conversation started in earnest and got louder. Apparently they are not going out; he is 17 with a 16 year old drama-queen girlfriend and she is 18 or 19, with a penchant for drinking every night. The conversation escalated to their individual sexual prowess.

I really don't want to listen to this.

At this point I was really glad I carry a pair of earplugs in my purse. Yes, really. They are invaluable when one is faced with a situation as described above, having to be a patient in a hospital, or finding oneself at a fireworks show--(my husband is a licensed pyro-technician, so this is not as much an isolated occurrence as one might think).

But I digress.

Earplugs installed, I concentrated on Mark 4 and the parable of the four soils. I use a life application NIV Bible, because I find the footnotes helpful. Verses 18 and 19 caught my eye.

"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Bold letters mine)

The footnote went deeper still. "The four soils represent four different ways people respond to God's message. Usually we think about four different kinds of people. But he may also have been talking about a) different times in a person's life or b) how we willingly receive God's message in some areas of our lives but resist it in others. For example, you may be open to God about your future, but be closed about how you spend your money. Or respond like good soil to God's demand for worship, but be rocky soil to his demand to give to people in need.

We need to be like good soil in every area of our lives."

A life packed with materialistic and carnal pursuits deafens us to God's Word.

I wish I could tell you I spoke to those young people and shared the gospel with them, but I didn't. I prayed they would be receptive to the person who would, whenever that time came. Here at Panera, at 4:30 PM wasn't the time.

Deception has Reared Its Ugly Head...or Has It?

I've been deceived.I should have recognized it; the signs were there but I missed them.

How could I have gone from 'helpful' to 'prideful' in one seemingly fell swoop?

Ah...the whispers of the enemy. He specializes in this very tactic.

I started writing this post yesterday, on the 24th. I could not continue. The enemy of my soul had stopped me again...or had he?

I knew the direction I was heading when I started writing...I was going to spout about the rotten chain of events that had been weighing me down lately. Those enemy tactics that seemed to be working. But I could not continue to dwell in that noxious stew. This starting and stopping had never happened to me before.

This unfinished post became just another thing on my 'to-do list' I had no interest in doing.

But today...

In reading through my 242 e-mails (I had let those pile up too), I came across 2 separate instances from 2 completely different directions; both referring to John 10:10

My NIV states, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." My Living Bible says "(red letters)...My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." (bold letters mine)

Why am I allowing the enemy of my soul to get me down?

I know I acted in a way that was most pleasing to God.

I know I did what had to be done.

I know without a doubt, because I prayed through every decision I made.

Crappy stuff fell on my head; I had momentarily forgotten to wipe it off before I became crushed and paralyzed by it.

Thank You LORD, for letting me stew in my stuff long enough to smell its stench, but not long enough to be crippled by it. Amen.

Adding Prayer to Lent...the Final Three days.

I am full. My cup is overflowing.

I have had these 3 days of so much prayer; so much closeness to God and physically feeling His Presence that I have had moments I couldn't speak.

It started with my determination to start my Friday in devotional time.

"...seek first his kingdom and his righteousness..."(Matthew 6:33 NIV) "...seek and you will find..."(Matthew 7:7 NIV) "...seek and you will find..."(Luke 11:9 NIV)

Afterwards, I got many errands done; the ones that had been on recurring 'to-do' lists. I washed, dried and folded three loads of laundry. I made a big ol' pot of bean chili (simmering all day and making the house smell wonderful) I made a smaller pot of black bean soup. I worked on an art project I had been neglecting. I got three boxes ready for the mail. I spent time with friends Friday evening at our Bible study group. I went to our church's prayer vigil from 10PM-1 AM, and had a prophetic Word spoken over me.

I was filled with a new energy from that Word.

I slept.

I awoke, renewed.

I continued to slash things off the seemingly endless 'to-do' list. I went from shop to stop, finding good prices, consolidating my efforts, even finding the best route to not waste any extra time....and all throughout the day, I had the certain feeling I was totally in the moment.

I was giving praise to Him and I was indeed thankful.

I'm in the middle of reading Ann Voskamp's book,"One Thousand Gifts";(I'm not done with it yet, but I highly recommend it.) In it, the author wrestles hard with God, with the injustices of this Earth and comes nose to nose with a quote from Alexander Schmemann about the Eucharist [thanksgiving].

About giving thanks for ALL things. Bad things. Hurtful, bloody things. The things that make us dig our nails into our palms and scream until no sound comes out...

'Eucharisteo' she calls it.

Jesus went to the cross for our sins. He endured the betrayal, the beatings, the whipping, the carrying of the cross, the spikes in His hands, His feet, and the spear in His side. Jesus dies that cruel death for each one of us. If there was no one else, He did it for you. For me.

"After taking the cup, He gave thanks..." Luke 22:17(NIV) "And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it... do this in remembrance of Me." Luke 22:19(NIV)

The miracles happen after we truly give thanks.

Eucharisteo.

I pray this journey of adding prayer to Lent has brought you closer to God. I know I am not the same.

Adding Prayer During Lent -- Day 1

As a child, Lent always meant giving up something I enjoyed; and I was told to be happy about it. Not a clear concept, especially to my young mind. It was supposed to represent the fact that Jesus gave up His life for us on the cross, so the least we could do was to give up something we liked for the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, so we would suffer, like Jesus did. Please understand, this was my youthful thinking's explanation. As I grew in wisdom and understanding, my thoughts surrounding this mysterious period of time changed. I began to see the time before Resurrection Day (as I learned to call it) a preparation time, to ponder how I could prepare myself to believe the miracle that is said to have taken place three days after Good Friday (another name I could not understand in my youth).

Over the last week, I have been called to pray mightily. Friends have relationship issues with family members, some are healing physically and emotionally, and others have needed travelling mercies. There have been two deaths among extended family members in as many days. I have felt the Lord's leading me to be on my knees, standing in the gap, for these dear ones.

Instead of giving something up during this Lenten season, I am being drawn to closer fellowship with my Lord. I want to seek His face daily--sometimes hourly, given my attention span.

I pray that you, dear reader, will find something meaningful to draw you to the Lord during our journey over the next forty days.

Prayer Sabbath - "I'm Still At It!"

We had an interesting sermon at church yesterday. Pastor Tammy reminded us that we are growing wiser; we seek revival and God is indeed moving in the hearts of His people. When we grow in the LORD, who else notices that growth? That's right. The enemy.

He is not concerned with the Christian stuck. When we are being stretched and growing in God's Grace and Holy Spirit fire; these are the times when the enemy shudders. These are the times when he does his darnest to get us off track, to get us to take our eyes off of God and the work He has for us to do, and focus on the landslide blocking our path.

The enemy doesn't give a second thought to us, once he has gotten us to look away from our goal.

The enemy of our souls will rape and beat us, and leave us broken and bleeding by the side of the road.

I've been there. I've heard him laughing as he walked away.

(The enemy would like you to think that's the end of the story.)

BUT!

Jesus is there to pick you up, apply balm to your wounds and help you back to your feet. As you turn to face Jesus, your eyes full of fear(will He be mad at me?)/hope(will He forgive me?)/regret(i'm sorry LORD)/wonder(Oh LORD...i have no words...)/(insert your emotion here)

You see His eyes are filled with love.

Only Love.

You search...yes, only Love--for you.

This is why I pray.

Prayer Sabbath-Day 2

It was not my intention to have a second post about a prayer Sabbath; however, I recieved 5 (yes, count them-FIVE!) prayer requests either Holy Spirit driven, or by e-mail or telephone today. I have always considered myself a prayer warrior. Very early in my Christian journey, I ran across a little book about prayer by Rosalind Rinker. The title escapes me at the moment, but it included the odd (then) concept of conversational prayer--the conversation between God and the pray-er (me).

This concept fascinated me. Being brought up in a denomination that only recited written prayers, this sounded really neat and I timidly tried it, clumsily at first. Apparently I was onto something because I felt the response almost immediately.

The recited prayers did not have the same effect. I started to ask God how He wanted me to pray, and I recieved bits of His Wisdom as He would reveal Himself to me.

A little at a time, always in His Time, He was preparing me for the next step. So again, I could not not pray.

The intercession for God's people needs to be brought before the Lord. The enemy is still lurking about looking for whom he can devour.

"After Jesus had gone indoors, his diciples asked Him privately, 'Why couldn't we drive it out?' He replied, 'This kind can come out only by prayer.' " Mark 9:28-29 (NIV)

A warrior was born.

Prayer Sabbath

I've been led to pray mightily for some friends of mine lately. God seems to bring people to my mind; I've learned to not ignore these 'Holy Spirit nudgings'(as I've learned to call them).

I usually don't know what I'm praying about or any other details. Afterwards I don't even remember that I did pray. Sometimes I'm led to send a note-'just to let you know I'm thinking of you and I prayed today'--sometimes not.

The best part of this is when I know that I have done what I was called to do.

It's an opening of myself; a stretching to believe that He knows better than I do for His own. I am a tiny but necessary part of His plan.

He instructs--I obey--He acts and is glorified by His believers.

"but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer." (Psalm 66:19 NIV)

Pushing On Through

I was thumbing through my latest journal, and noticed a distinct pattern. Every entry where I sought the Lord's direction, He answered. These entries varied from pen scribbles of sculpture ideas to sentence prayers about my drive to work. I prayed to live my faith so others could see You in my life and believe...I was blessed by scripture from 2 Timothy 4:5-"But you! Keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." (bold print mine)

Another day, driving to work while it was still dark out, a song came on my iPod, and during the words, "...gotta start sometime; why not now?..." a shooting star streaked across the sky in front of me at the precise moment of "now".

Page after page.

Entry after entry.

I kept on--'keeping on'.

There was a thread of prayer running through every word and drawing.

I even found where I had prayed for friends during my breaks. All recorded.

Tough days at work were noted, with scripture--

"God cares about honesty in the workplace; your business is His business. (Prov.16:11-MSG)

"Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger, if you try to make it better, you'll only make it worse. (Prov.19:19-MSG)

Persistence. Pushing on through.

Storm Damage- Conclusion

What happens to those who are so firmly wedged into the lies of this world; who choose to ignore the small, still voice of God? What if we don't realize the error of our ways? What if we've fit ourselves so comfortably in the world's views and opinions that our behavior no longer seems like sin to us?

It will be too late.

"...Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."(1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

Storm Damage-Part 2

The lilac bush had been around a long time--at least the fifteen years we have lived in the house. This branch that broke was not one I had slated for removal. It was one of the stronger ones with great flowering potential. Yet now it was dead wood. As I continued to saw my way through, the tiny teeth left a pile of fine powder sawdust around the blade. It looked like it was barely making a dent.

But that's where I was wrong. When I removed the saw to see my progress, there was indeed a cut in the wood; I remember being surprised at how deep it was. Heartened now, I continued.

I thought again about the seemingly little progress I was making. A secret sin or a bad habit--really anything contrary to God's precepts--can chip away at our resolve to conduct ourselves in a manner pleasing to God. We can justify subtle lies when they're wrapped in noble intentions. The behavior becomes so ingrained that we wake up one day, and hopefully realize our error.

But the consequences of our behavior will happen.

We will be left to clean up the mess.

Storm Damage-Part 1

Back in October 2011, Pennsylvania got hit with an unexpected snow storm. The heavy, wet snow wreaked havoc on many trees and caused widespread damage. In my own yard, the lilac bush took the brunt of the hit.In preparation to trim the lilac, I went out to the shed, looking for a pair of pruners. Upon closer inspection of the broken branch, I determined a saw would be in order. However, all I could find in the shed was a small hacksaw type of tool. As I began to saw away, I noticed the tiny teeth the blade had. This was going to take awhile. Nevertheless, I persevered. As those tiny teeth kept cutting through the branch, I couldn't help but see the similarity between it and sin in our lives.

How many times do we pass off a little sin as "Oh, it won't matter" or "Nobody will find out" or the ever popular,"That's not really wrong, is it"?

Here's a hint--If you're asking that question or find yourself strongly defending it? It probably is.