Sunday, October 10, 2021

Like That City

 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

Hi Friends!
We take light for granted. We take for granted that the sun will come up in the morning. We take for granted that when we flip a switch in our homes, light will come on. Do we also take for granted that Christ's light is shining somewhere by someone in this world? Here's the thing, we can't leave it up to someone else. WE are to be that light. Christ told us so in Matthew 5:14. It's our duty as Christ followers to shine the light He's given us. We can't take it for granted. We have to work to shine in this dark world. The great thing about light is that darkness can't compete with it. Darkness can't overcome light. Whenever, wherever, light is found, darkness disappears. So, church, we have a lot of work to do. And we need to start in our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities and our communities. But the best news, y'all, is we don't have to do it alone- we do it by the power of the Holy Spirit, God Himself. When we shine Christ's light, we glorify Him (Matt 5:16). And that's our purpose here on earth.

I like the song by Third Day, "City on a Hill." Here are some of the lyrics:
A city on a hill cannot be hidden
Standing tall before all men
To show the things that it's been given
And everything that it can give
Just like that city on a hillside
We got a light that's deep within us
No, don't keep it to yourself
Just remember how you felt
When you first gave your life to Jesus

So how do we shine Jesus' light? We study God's Word and share it with others. We love and serve others. We point others to Jesus. Shine, friends, shine!

Page Details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Wonder of Wonders, Shine Your Light, and Trust in the Lord. I also used the Rise & Shine Stencil. Wonder of Wonders has some great images, one of them being the city I used on the page. I stamped the city and drew the hill with a Micron pen. I colored the hill and sky with chalk pastels. I colored the city with Prismacolor pencils. Then I stamped the words in the sky and handlettered part of the lyrics on the hill.




Have a blessed week! Andrea

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Be at Rest Again...

Hi friends,


I don't know about you, but I find it all too easy for my soul to not be in a place of rest. Whether that be because of busyness or anxieties or troubling circumstances, it is easy for my soul to be on edge, fraught with a million thoughts and cares. But much like physical rest needs to be intentional for it to be good rest (we have to decide to go to sleep at a particular time, to have a Sabbath, or a holiday), the same is true for our souls.


One of the ways we can intentionally return our souls to a state of rest is to meditate on God's goodness. Psalm 116:7 in the New Living Translation says 'Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.' The NRSV captures the psalmist telling his soul: 'Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.' When we meditate on the goodness of God that we have experienced in the past, we are able to tell our souls to rest, because we know that whatever we are facing, God is still good and he will be good to us as his children. 


Whatever we are facing, whether it be external troubles or internal turmoil, we can rest in the goodness of God. Just like when we are physically tired and need to take ourselves to bed, when our souls are worn out we need to take ourselves to the goodness of God and rest there, knowing that God is good and that his love for us endures forever. 


I created the background on this page using gelatos, then stamped the Floral Background image on the top and coloured with coloured pencils and paint pens. The adorable image at the bottom is from the new Wonder of Wonders set, stamped and coloured with coloured pencils. The verse was stamped using a combination of sets: The Lord's Battle, With Love Alpha, and Teeny Alpha

Let's be people to intentionally return to resting in the goodness of God.

Be blessed...

x Amy x


Monday, October 4, 2021

A Pattern of Grace and Mercy

"I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Timothy 1: 12-17


If you were to ask me which books of the Bible are my favorite, I would definitely say 1 and 2 Timothy. The Apostle Paul's letters to Timothy, a young minister, are packed full of so much wisdom and encouragement. If you consider that they are Paul's last written letters to the church, it makes them even more powerful. 💙

Paul was one of the biggest persecutors of the early Christian church until his miraculous conversion on the Damascus road. He holds none of his history back when he calls himself the foremost, or chief, of sinners. In fact, he uses his testimony to establish the saving and changing power of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. 


I particularly love what he says in this verse:

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:16 NLT)

Another translation says this:

However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. (1 Timothy 1:16 NKJV)


Paul doesn't hide from his past. He wants his past to show an example, a pattern, of the grace and mercy shown to all sinners by the Lord Jesus Christ. But Paul doesn't just stop there! He lives the rest of his life in the service of Christ so that his entire life may show a pattern of the grace and mercy of Jesus. 

If you have a history that isn't so pretty, read this passage in 1 Timothy and know that there nothing you've done that is not redeemable under the blood of Jesus. Accept his grace and mercy and then continue to live in His grace and mercy that your life may show as a pattern and an example for others. 


Page Details

I used watered-down acrylic paint for the background of this page, then stamped the edges with Versamagic chalk ink to create a pattern of plaid and flowers along the edges. Then I splattered the page with some white paint and set aside to dry. I stamped the cross and flowers on vellum and colored with colored pencils, then used double sided tape to adhere to the page. I then stamped my title and colored in with Uniball white signo gel pen (my favorite brand of white gel pen!). 

  
  

I pray we all live in the grace and mercy offered to us by the love of Jesus this week. 

In Christ, 

Janelle
@journalingjoy


Monday, September 20, 2021

He is the I Am

"God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And he said, 'Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.' God also said to Moses, 'Say this to the people of Israel: The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations."
Exodus 3:14-15


I read an article a few weeks ago from Phylicia Masonheimer entitled "The Millennial Gospel: Jesus Tell Me More About Me" and it convicted me to my core. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it. 

In today's culture, we often look to the Bible and to Jesus to tell us more about us. We interact socially with other Christians we can relate to. Our "story" gets us likes, comments, and shares. We want to be real. We want to show others our struggle. We want to connect with other Christians who get us. And none of that is necessarily bad, but as Phy says,

"(The) millennial gospel spends more time talking about our weakness, our struggle, and our habits than it does about preeminence of God’s character. We know a lot about being relevant; we know a lot about discipleship and church planting and being “real” with one another. But that’s the problem. Our new, Christian “reality” revolves around… us. Jesus is there in name; yes, He’s part of our lives. But the “I Am” of our conversations is more often “I am learning…” and “I am struggling…” than an active acknowledgement of I AM THAT I AM.

It made me stop and think. Is my gospel more about me than it is about the I AM? Am I living with a focus on what I'm going through rather than living with a focus on the I AM? The bottom line is this:

We don’t need Jesus to tell us more about us. We need Jesus. Period.

My story is only effective so long as it points to the I AM. My worship is only holy as long as I am worshipping the I AM. The Lord of Lords. The King of Kings. The Holy God. I don't need Him to tell me more about me, I need to learn more about Him. 🙌

The article convicted and challenged my heart. I want my life to continually point to my God as the I Am. Don't you?


Page Details

This page actually came together over several days. I stamped the Encouraging Peonies on vellum and colored them with colored pencils. I used gelatos as the page background. Gelatos are not a medium I'm very comfortable with, so I am trying to get better! I gessoed the page with two layers of gesso, then rubbed the gelatos over the page using a baby wipe. I splattered the page with some watered down white acrylic paint. I used the Psalm 23 background stamp set to add a little depth and dimension to the background. I then fussy cut the flowers and used a clear tape runner to adhere them to the page. I used the He Is and I Am stamp sets for the page title, and last but not least, I journaled my prayer on a piece of scrap vellum. 


Here are the stamp sets used:

 

 

Much love in Christ, 

Janelle

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Purpose of Christmas

She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

Hello friends!
Many of us send and receive Christmas cards each year with sweet images of our Baby Savior and His earthly parents, and/or the shepherds and wise men seeking Him. They come with encouraging Bible verses and sentiments and make as feel all warm inside. But what if you received a Christmas card that spoke of the real purpose of Christmas? What if you opened the envelope and pulled out a card that said, "Born to Die." How would you feel then? That would kinda zap my Christmas spirit!

Most likely, we're not going to be seeing any Christmas cards with those sentiments on them any time soon, but the fact is Christ's purpose in being born was the cross. Why was Jesus born? Because every one of us are sinners.

I came across an online article by C.J. Mahaney entitled, "Disturbing Christmas: The Manger and the Cross." Mr. Mahaney quoted an article by William H. Smith from 1992, part of which I want to share:
"That Baby was born so that 'He who had no sin' would become 'sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.' The Baby's destiny from the moment of His conception was hell- hell in the place of sinners. When I look into the manger, I come away shaken as I realize again that He was born to pay the unbearable penalty for my sins. That's the message of Christmas: God reconciled the world to Himself through Christ, man's sin has alienated him from God, and man's reconciliation with God is possible only through faith in Christ...Christmas is disturbing."

Does that mean we shouldn't celebrate Christmas and be joyful about it? Of course not! Christmas is about God's great love for us. And we should certainly celebrate that love. But it should include reflection and acknowledgement of what Christ did for us, and an acknowledgement of His role as Judge to those who don't accept Him as Savior. 

He left Heaven. He left His rightful glory. He became His creation. He endured physical and emotional abuse of the most horrid kind. He suffered an awful death. He was separated from the Father for our sakes. And He did it all willingly. Think about that.

As Smith said in the conclusion of his article, "Only those who have been profoundly disturbed to the point of deep repentance are able to receive the tidings of comfort, peace, and joy that Christmas proclaims."

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Endless Love, Curly Girl Alpha, and Adore Him. I stamped the baby and cross images, using watercolor crayons to then color them. After painting, I stamped the words and flowers.



Have a blessed week, my friends! Andrea

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Did God make a mistake?

"No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:37-39


It's been almost five years to the day since we got the call that a certain little 8-year old boy needed a new foster home. We were prepared for the call, we had started the licensing process and met him and his current foster family for the first time a few weeks prior. My husband and I talked it over and prayed about it and, as I was praying, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge my heart with this verse: "whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to Me" (Matt 25:40). I knew in my heart that Dakota was supposed to come to our home (how he came into our life is a story for another day 😉), so we notified the case worker, and Dakota moved into our home on October 30, 2016. 

That day began the long road of fostering - the supervised parenting visits, the doctor's visits, the therapy visits, the unannounced home inspections, the case worker meetings, the trainings, the list goes on. The goal of fostering is always reconciliation with the birth parent. The goal was for this sweet boy to go back to a safe and loving home with his birth mom. He lived every day with the expectation that he was going home, and we had to have multiple conversations explaining why it just wasn't safe for him to do so. It was heartbreaking for him, and for us.  

Dakota's half siblings were in different foster homes at that time, and one morning during a parent visit, the other foster moms and I met for coffee. We were six months into our journey and I was so tired, so discouraged, so defeated. I had been certain this is the path God had called us down, but it was so hard. As I sat and talked with the other, more seasoned foster moms, I shared how overwhelmed I was with everything and the truth just kind of slipped out - 

"I know this is what God wanted us to do, but I think God made a mistake.

There, I'd finally said out loud what I'd been thinking. Surely God made a mistake. Surely there was a family better equipped for this fostering process. Surely there was a better mom than me somewhere in this county. Surely this wasn't supposed to be so hard

 

Once I uttered the words out loud, I knew I had a big problem. In my finite thinking, God wouldn't call me to do a hard thing. If He called me to do something, He would make it easy for me to do. He would give smooth sailing to a sweet family ending, all wrapped up in a pretty, little bow. Reality is much different. Reality is hard. Reality is acknowledging that following God's leading isn't always pretty.

I wish I could tell you that I surrendered my way of thinking right there and that was the end of it, but that's just not the case. I went to God over and over and over again, praying for His wisdom, His grace, His kindness, His mercy. There is nothing like being a foster parent to highlight all of your shortcoming as a parent. I knew if I was going to do what He had called us to do, I needed His guidance every step of the way. I had to daily acknowledge that God brought our family together for a reason and He makes no mistakes


After two years in foster care, Dakota was adopted into our family in May 2018. We were surrounded by all friends, family, coworkers, church family, and all his 4th grade classmates (class field trip to the courthouse!). More importantly, Dakota accepted Christ as his Savior and was adopted into the family of God that same year. 💙

If you've ever followed God's leading and realized it was so much harder than you could have ever anticipated, I hope to encourage you with these truths from God's Word. 

"This God - his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him." - Psalm 18:30

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and thoughts higher than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9

"God is not man, that he should lie, or son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and he will not do it? Or has he spoken, and he will not fulfill it?" - Number 23:19

You may not understand His leading, you may feel defeated and discouraged, as I did - but you can always rest in the promises and the goodness of God. God makes no mistakes.





Page Details

I created this page in my ESV Scripture Journal using Distress Inks as the background, then stamped the rest of the background and title using the following stamp sets: Berry Branch Backgroun, Typewriter Text Background, Typewriter Blocks Alpha, Rebecca Script Alpha, All in All, and Faith Wordfetti Too

  
  

I have a handy little Sizzix Sidekick die machine and have slowly been adding to my die collection. These Mini Tag Dies are perfect for my little machine and for creating teeny tags, such as the That's Love tag in this page. 



Much love in Christ, 

Janelle

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Too Big For Me!

But the Lord said to me, "Do not fear him, for I have given him and all his people and his land into your hand." Deuteronomy 3:2a

Hello Friends!
"God won't give you more than you can handle." Have you ever heard someone say this, or said it yourself? It's NOT biblical. And, while most people saying this have good intentions, we must realize it's totally untrue. Over and over again in the Bible, we read stories where God gave people much more than they could handle. And today, we're going to look at one of those stories.

After God took Israel out of Egypt, He was taking them to the Promised land. But they decided to send 12 men to scout out the land. And 10 of those men came back saying that the land was great, but the people were huge and there was no way they could defeat them. Why were they saying this? Because, it was too much for THEM to handle. When looking at it from their own strength, the Israelites were unable to defeat the mighty people they saw. What they missed, but Joshua and Caleb did not, was that God could handle it. God had already told them He was giving them the land. But, most of them were still relying on their own strength. Here's the thing, God will give us more than we can handle. But, HE can handle it, so rely on Him to get you through.

Fast forward to Deuteronomy, an 11 day trip took about 40 years because they didn't trust God. God told Moses not to fear, that He would go before them and defeat the nations. And guess what, He did what He said He would do!

Friends, life often seems like it's too much to handle. The world right now is too much to handle. But, we can trust that our great God has it all under control. HE CAN HANDLE IT! Nothing has taken Him by surprise. So, when you can't handle it, go to Him. When you can handle it, go to Him anyway. He's got this- whatever "this" is.

Back to that untrue quote we often hear, it is probably based on 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (emphasis mine) See, this verse isn't talking about life struggles. It's talking about temptation. That's a big difference.

Page Details: I used the Bold & Outline Caps Alpha from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps. I had some bleedthrough from the other side. I don't use gesso because I don't like stamping or painting on top of it. So, I have to deal with bleedthrough sometimes. On this page, I decided to stamp the letters on sticker paper to help cover the bleedthrough and help the letters stand out. I applied distress oxides to the page with blender brushes. I used Speckled Egg, Weathered Wood, and Pine Needles. I then used those same colors to stamp the letters, cut them out and stuck them to the page. You can still see some of the bleedthrough, but I'm ok with that.

When it's too much, and when it's not, abide in Him. Have a blessed week! Andrea