Saturday, February 22, 2020

Wisdom & understanding...

Hi friends,

I often get asked where I start when it comes to inspiration for Bible Journaling pages. People wonder where to begin faced with the enormity of verses (and supplies!) to choose from. For me, there are a number of ways that I find pages to journal, but one of them is to do a search of an online Bible app for a word that is inspired by a stamp set. When I received the Forest Silhouettes set I looked up the word 'animals' to see what came up, and one passage that caught my attention was 1 Kings 4:29-34.

In these verses Solomon is described as having very great wisdom, discernment and understanding given to him by God which resulted in astonishing knowledge about all kinds of things, including different types of trees, animals, birds and fish. People travelled great distances to hear his wisdom and he was described as being 'wiser than anyone else.'

As someone who enjoys learning and gaining knowledge, I find this fascinating. But I also look at the wider story of Solomon's life and find it very sad. You see, Solomon had all this wisdom relating to the animal and plant world and about decision making and strategy and wealth, but he did not apply godly wisdom to his personal life. He accumulated 700 wives and 300 concubines who led him astray in his devotion to the Lord. All the knowledge about trees and fish were no use when it came to making choices to be obedient to God.

I have to remind myself of this when I am learning, even learning things about the Bible in studying theology. There is no point having a bunch of factual knowledge in terms of the way something works or the history of something, without the willingness to actually follow Jesus personally in our everyday decisions. Sometimes it is easy to hide behind our 'knowledge' and use this as an excuse not to simply obey. Often it is easier to explain something to someone else than to live it out in real life. I pray that in our knowledge and wisdom (which are good and right gifts of God that should be desired and stewarded well) we will also be people who obey the commands and leading of God with simple faith.

I thought the animals and trees in Forest Silhouettes were perfect for this page. I painted a watercolour background first, then stamped the images over the top, some with Inktense blocks and water, and some with VersaMagic inks. The text is a combination of Mini Grunge Type Alpha and Skinny Lowercase Alpha.

I am grateful to God for the wisdom and understanding he chooses to give us about many different things. I am also grateful for the Holy Spirit's continual guidance as we seek to follow Jesus as Lord.

Be blessed...

x Amy x

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Have Faith, He Knows...

Luke 24:38
And he said to them, 
"Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?"

So I’m going to be totally honest and a bit vulnerable with you guys. About 2 years ago, my husband really wanted another baby and I wasn’t sure that I did. Not because I don’t love the kids I have, I do of course! But if you’re a mom, you KNOW how hard that first year can be. Very, very little sleep, lots of crying, worrying, wondering what’s wrong, juggling all the baby “stuff” and just in general making life for a few years a little more difficult. And the thought of starting over again after you’ve already had two... you wonder if you can do it all again!

I started to pray and think a lot about this whole topic and if I thought I could really do it again. The other two had gotten older and “easier” and starting over would bring me back to square one. But one day I was sitting in my craft room, and read a devotional with the verse

Luke 24:38
“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?”

It spoke to me in a way it never had before. I just started crying! Like God had spoken right to my heart and said “Why are you doubting Me? And yourself?!?” Right then and there I wrote out a list of all of my worries, and reasons I was questioning myself at the time. I gave them to God and I prayed this exact prayer, “Lord, if we are meant to be a bigger family, please change my heart! Give me a sign or clear my doubt and show me what I am meant to do.”

And I kid you not, 2 days later, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I suddenly wasn’t worried or scared anymore. I didn’t doubt myself and I knew if we tried for another and it worked out, then it was meant to be and I was more than ready. Wow God right?! Who other than God could have changed my mind and heart so quickly.

Well, I lost my dad unexpectedly in January 2019 at 7 months pregnant with the baby I had prayed about. Trying to grieve while pregnant was very difficult. I also worried that the grief I was trying to suppress for my health would end up crushing me after the baby was born when compiled with all the hormones and emotions of having a newborn.

Well fast forward to now... where we’re getting ready to celebrate Alyssa’s first birthday in April! This past year has been a whirlwind of emotion, pain and blessings all in one. But a few months ago I realized, God KNEW that I would need Alyssa! Having her to hold, and love on in this precious season has helped heal my heart immensely!! I had no way of knowing just how much I would need her in our lives... but God did!!! He knew what was ahead for our family with the unexpected loss of my dad, and he knew that Alyssa would be the bright light in a dark year for all of us. And I do not take that for granted for one moment. All the things I was worried about in this first year with her have all been an answer to prayer. She has been the easiest baby, an amazing sleeper (yay!!), and the happiest little girl! She has been an amazing blessing that has completed our family.

I am so glad looking back on that day, that I took that leap of faith and trusted in God and what he had planned for us! God has always been there guiding me through life and he will never leave my side. Just as he is there for YOU and will never leave your side!

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. 

Her pudgy footprint :)
I covered up a messed up handprint with
these cascading acrylic flowers

So this page I'm sharing today has Alyssa's footprint on it, at 10 months old. I tried to do her hand print but that's much easier said than done! Check out my instagram post here to see a short video of us "attempting" to do her handprint haha.  Here are a couple photos...

I love capturing personal memories on the pages of my bibles! 
And this is one of those pages that will always be special to me! 

Stephanie Gammon

Loop da Loop Alpha 

All in All 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Do You Have Hope?

Dragonfly Dreams stamp set affiliate link here.

You can say a lot about hope.  
There's been book after book written about it. 
There's been a long line of pastors/teachers/evangelists that talk about.
Hope is a great topic, though sometimes, it comes to us in packages with "get well" cards, or sentiments of "sorry for your loss."  
It's not wrong to send hopeful encouragement to someone.  In fact, rather than just the two isolated instances above, there should be MUCH MORE TALK ABOUT HOPE THAN WE DO NOW.

Because, life.

When the countless minutes of our everyday lives tick by, we can easily lose sight of the goal and purpose of our existence.  If we can't counter the feelings of meaninglessness or tedious, mundane or unimportant with the pervasive truths of Hope from scripture, two things (at least, as far as I can tell) happen.  
Firstly, we align ourselves with "living for the weekend." I've done it.  The hope I should be seeking in scripture - the motivation for living each day with vigor, endurance and joy through the grace of God - is replaced by an impatient posture toward each day, looking forward to "clocking out," and using the weekend as a reward for getting through the week.  
Secondly, it takes away the glorious opportunities set aside in each particular part I play of the bigger picture - God's kingdom work.  Being rooted in wishing "this phase" or "that piece" of life away pulls me further away from knowing and understanding God's sovereign control, and His ordaining every day, every moment for His glory. 
I don't want that!  I want to be a part of something - something glorious!  Something godly!  Something God-planned, God-called, God-sanctioned! 

What about suffering?
Where is the hope in suffering?
Oh, my friends.  This is one of those topics that truly test my faith and belief in the One and true God, for myself and for others.  It's so broad.  It's so rampant.  Everybody has suffered, or will suffer in some way.
Suffering comes in many forms.  Too many forms.  Too much brokenness exists, and more than we can even comprehend.  Corruption took over our world back in Genesis 3.  That story began a long line of living outside God's wise counsel, depending on our own ways, and living beyond our God-created position as "creation" vs. "Creator."  It's where our "god complex" comes from.  It's the beginning of death, sickness, and the ability to have a perfectly worshipful, unified bond with our Maker.  
It's where suffering began.  Sudden relational severing of humanity from Almighty God is painful.  And had we been the live audience to this casualty, we probably would have seen a once bright and peaceful countenance of the first man and woman turn to darkened confusion and insecurity.  That's painful.  Ever heard of #thestruggleisreal?  It doesn't get more real than this.  
But it doesn't go on forever.  In the same chapter in Genesis, God begins immediately to undo Satan's attack with a promise - THE promise.  The promise of Himself, in human form, to do what only He could do on behalf of all mankind: Kill off our enemy forever (Genesis 3:15), and usher in a perfect creation once again! 
The Bible is explicit in the discontinuation of any and ALL forms of trial, tribulation, heartbreak, and sorrow!  A bit of this encouragement comes as part of the narrative of Romans 8.  Paul writes,

Romans 8:18-30

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (8:18-30)


Friends, suffering is hard.  Life is hard!  Life is the biggest trial of all time, which God uses to bring many sons to glory!  We groan.  We wait.  We don't know when He's coming back.  But… wait for it…
We have hope.  It's given to us to cling to as we pursue the life that God has redeemed for us.  We are in fact called to continue to live as ambassadors of His glory and grace.  The calling does not come without aid - and boy do we need it - of the Holy Spirit.  The above verses are so fraught with joy and hope, it's crazy that any of us wallows in despair. 
Like I said, I do it.
I wallow. 
Lord, forgive.
Hope is not just holding our chin high as a way of ignoring our situation or dismissing reality.  Hope is an eager expectation, a joyful anticipation of what is to come, to the degree that we re-purpose our energies to proclaiming the good news until He comes! 
With the help of the Holy Spirit within, we are capable of more than we realize.  We are ABLE to endure.  We are ABLE to face tomorrow.  We are ABLE to grow.  We are ABLE to conquer evil.  We are ABLE to "count it all joy!"
As our brother, Paul David Tripp writes in his book, "New Morning Mercies,"
"We can experience peace in the face of the unknown.  We can feel an inner well-being while living in the middle of mystery.  You don't have to be anxious about the future.  A God of grace has invaded your life, and He always completes what He starts!" (February 6)

This small insert is going into a compact Bible to give to someone.

Praise Jesus and amen!
Much love,
Dragonfly Stamp Set

Monday, February 17, 2020

All of Creation Points to the Creator

Jeremiah 10
I had the opportunity to journal this page live in the Creative Worship Bible Journaling Facebook group yesterday, and it was so much fun! 😊 It kicked off our bi-weekly design challenge: Silhouettes. 

The inspiration for this page came from my lovely pastor's wife. She loves to teach her Sunday School lesson on the spiritual truths we can learn from bugs and nature. No seriously! She's taught lessons on the honey bee, spider, crab apple tree, and even dust! She uses God's beautiful creation to teach us about God Himself. 

For example, these past two weeks, she's taught on the ant. Did you know that a scout ant will go out looking for food, wander randomly until it finds a food source, and then immediately make a line straight back to the nest, leaving a scent trail along the way so the other ants can find the way back to the food source? Not only did God put that navigation beacon in the ant, He gave it the ability to leave a distinct path back to their source of life - food!

Dear friends, that's exactly what God wants us to do when we find HIM! So often we wander randomly through life searching for the truth, the source, the sustenance we need to keep going - and then we find our Heavenly Father, and in Him we find life and life more abundant. He then wants us to take this truth back to our "nest" leaving a trail back to Him that is easy for others to follow. Isn't that just great?! 💜


All of creation, from the biggest mountain to the tiniest ant, is designed to point us back to the Creator. These next two weeks, I hope you'll take a moment to learn something from God's creation that points you to Him - and then journal about it!

I journaled this page using watercolors and stamps. You can watch the whole process over on the FB group page. I finished out the pages with some white "snow" highlights, white ink splatters, and some purple sparkle washi and a bow.



Have a wonderful week in the Lord, 


We'd love to have you join our Creative Worship Design Challenge this week? Use the hashtags #creativeworshipsnss or #cwchallengefeb16 to join on social media!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

To live is Christ

About a week ago, this song came on the radio. I had heard it before and loved to sing it but I have always had questions about what it meant when it said "To live is Christ, to die is gain." Philippians 1:21 I have talked to a few people about the meaning of this verse and after hearing from them and researching it on my own, the song had a whole new meaning to me. 

So let's talk about the very first part of this... Even in the fire.
I find it very much a God wink that Jennifer's blog post yesterday talked about the fiery furnace in Daniel chapter three and some truths that we find there. 
God is with us.
Even in the fire.
Even in the storms.
Even in the hills and valleys of life.
Even when our life takes a complete 180 from what we had planned for. 
God will always be there.

To live is Christ.
What does that mean exactly?
Our lives as Christians, as believers, are to be continuously pointing back to Christ. Every thing we do, every thing we say, every move we make should be done to bring glory to God. If we look back at Paul's life, he devoted himself to bring God glory through every aspect of his being. We should live our lives so that Christ is our focus, our goal, and our chief desire. 

To die is gain.
Now this is the part that always confuses me. What exactly did Paul mean when he told the Philippians "to die is gain"?
Simply put it means that one day we will enjoy heaven. What joy awaits us in heaven! As Christians we do not have to fear death because we have eternity to look forward to!

Hope you all have a blessed weekend!

Friday, February 14, 2020

You Stand in the Fire Beside Me

God’s timing never ceases to amaze me. I created this page several weeks ago after I had a few rough weeks of homeschooling, mothering and wife-ing. The Chris Tomlin song “Jesus” was stuck in my head and the words to the song were comforting to my soul in that Jesus was always with me, standing in the fire of life right beside me. Little did I know that by the time I would publish this blog post I would be knee-deep into a devotional centered around Daniel 3 or that the week before a dear family in our community would suffer an unimaginable loss due to a house fire. 

The words that I felt the Lord speak to me about a year ago echoed in my head. Just tell your story.

First, come with me to Daniel 3.

Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, better known to us as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were three young boys who were taken captive to Babylon, along with Daniel. They were forced into the Babylonian culture and told that they had to learn the literature, the language and the religion. They were forced to assimilate but they drew the line when it came to food and to worship. They held on to the integrity that they were taught and refused to serve the Babylonian gods or bow down to the statue that King Nebuchadezzar had erected. They made a very bold, very well-known declaration to the king: “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace…but if not, be it known to you, O King, that we will not bow down to your gods.” Their refusal to bow down enraged the King and he punished them by subjecting them to the fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than the norm. But the story doesn’t end there. When the king looked up, he didn’t just see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fire. He saw FOUR people. Unbound. Walking around, unscathed in the fire. Unaffected by the heat. Unwavering in their belief. He beckoned them to come out – and they did…unsinged. Their clothes didn’t even smell like smoke. And his reaction? Wait for it…. He WORSHIPPED their God. And he called all the Babylonians to do the same!

Whoa! Talk about bold faith here.  Who in their right mind would stand up to the KING of Babylon?!? But these guys did. And what did they get? A crispy introduction to the king’s fury. But what’s even more amazing? Because of their unwavering faith, the king himself bowed down to the God of the Hebrews. The Most High God. El Elyon. Because you see, their belief in their God was bigger than the fire that threatened to consume them. They weren’t worried about death. In fact, they could probably claim as Paul would years later that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) And because of their faith, their lives were changed forever, as well as those around them.

There’s a couple of things that I want you to remember about this story.

God allows the fire
God could have easily stepped in with a miracle and stopped the fiery furnace situation for Shadrach and his companions. But He didn’t. He let it come. His plan went far beyond what they could see. Because of their fire, a city was turned toward the Lord. Hearts were inclined toward the true Rescuer. They held on to their faith, and you know what? God showed up. Right in the middle of the fire with them. Think about that for a second. They didn’t even see God until they were already in the fire. So even though He allowed it, He was also there standing with them.

 Fires are going to come. Relationships are going to struggle. Jobs are going to end. Medical situations are going to happen. But we have to hang on to Romans 8:28 that says that “all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Does that mean all things will BE good? No. But we have to have faith in the fact that all things will WORK for good. All things have a purpose. EVERYTHING happens in its own season. Unfortunately many things happen that we can’t explain and we are left wondering why. This side of heaven, we may never understand. But we have to be okay with that, because someday we will. 

The fire is not going to consume you
Oh, it’s going to feel like it. And sometimes you may even get a little weary…but you will not be consumed. Take a look at Isaiah 43:1-2: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (emphasis mine). 

I could camp out here for a while, you guys. I could tell you all about my story. About how I got shingles at 37 weeks pregnant, suffered from nerve damage and then had spinal fusion surgery…all in the span of about 8 weeks. I could tell you about my scare with lymphoma. I could tell you about all the lies that I believed from Satan about my worth as a mom and a wife. I could tell you about being stuck in a pit of sin with seemingly no way out. I could tell you about my shortcomings as a Christian, but mostly, I can tell you about my God. How He is faithful. How He delivered me. How even though I was nearly burning up in that fire, He was there and He saw me out. Oh, I got scarred alright. In fact, I have two gorgeous ones adorning either side of my lumbar spine, but I have more life in me right now than I ever dreamed possible. If there’s one thing that I can promise you, it’s that the fire that you’re walking through right now is not going to consume you, it’s going to refine you. I know it hurts, and it might for a while, but hang on. God’s not done yet. 

Our reaction to the fire is life-changing
The faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego turned the heart of the king to worship. The way they stood up to the king and the way they declared their trust in the Lord was a powerful influence on all of Babylon. The way that we respond to our fires can point people to or away from the Lord. It’s ok to get weary. It’s ok to be frustrated. It’s ok if we question why. Our world is broken. Things are going to happen that we don’t understand. But what’s more important is that we don’t lose faith in the God who can deliver. Fires are part of our story. They are made to change us. They are made to help us grow and strengthen our faith. And in turn, if we stay steadfast, we will be able to say as David, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3). 

It’s all about Him. Everything that we face is designed to bring glory to the Father. So whether it’s the fire of your marriage, the fire of parenting a difficult child or a myriad of other fires that we face in this life we can always, ALWAYS have the hope that Jesus is there, standing in the fire beside you and giving you a story to tell. 

Have a great weekend, friends!

Crafty Details:
To begin this page, I found the image of a fire that I liked and traced it onto my page. I outlined it with a black Pitt Pen and then watercolored the image with various tones of yellow, orange and red. I then used Texture Tiles 1 with Fired Brick Distress Oxide to add some embers to the fire. The words are stamped with Love Ya Like a Sister Alpha and Marquee Caps Alpha. The word “fire” was stamped with a mix of Fossilized Amber, Spiced Marmalade and Fired Brick Oxides and then cut out and glued to the page. I finished the page with a few sentiments from Faith Wordfetti, a tab, date stamp and prayer.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Love Each Other

We are just a few days away from Valentine's Day, so I thought it was a perfect time to talk about "LOVE". 

Love is defined in the Oxford dictionary as "1.  An intense feeling of deep affection. 2. A great interest and pleasure in something."  It is a word I use often.  I love my family and friends. I love chocolate, I love to have crafting time and I love the beach.  But what I want to look at, is the Biblical meaning of love. 

There are 4 types of love in the Bible:

Storge - Empathy Bond
Philios - Friend Bond
Eros - Romantic Love
Agape - Unconditional "God" love

My challenge to you and myself this Valentine's Day is to love everyone with Agape love, as God loves us.

The Bible actually calls for us to love others, like God loves us. Mmm...that can be more than a little difficult, am I right? Am I supposed to love a co-worker who tried to sabotage my career, or a rude cashier, or a driver that made a not-so-nice hand gesture to me because I was turning in the parking lot too slowly for their liking?  YES!!!  Because that's how God loves us.

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 
Romans 5:8 NIV

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
 1 John 4:7-11 NIV

 1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
 1 John 3:1 NIV

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16 NIV 

10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:10 NIV

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV 

 26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:26 NIV 

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NIV 
The love we have been shown through the sacrifice of Jesus is a love like no other!  So this Valentine's Day and everyday, let us not only love those we find easy to love....let us love EVERYONE, so that we can glorify God!

Page Details:
I created this page by stamping out several people, with the Brotherly LoveGirl Power stamp sets.  I had fun making each one unique, just as God made us.  I colored them in with watercolors and cut them out with my Brother Scan & Cut (my Christmas present from my hubby).  I used the people to create at tip-in at the bottom of the page, so I could still read the scripture underneath.  I traced and colored a large heart in the center, to represent God's love for us.  I used the hearts from the Women of Praise set to create a background. My title is a combination of the new Loop da Loop Alpha and Bitty Mini Alpha

Here's a short video clip, showing how the tip-in works:

These are the sets I used to create my page:

Until next time, catch up with me on Instagram @simplyjillsjourney.  I hope you all have a Happy Valentine's Day!

Jill Norris