Sunday, June 26, 2022

Thrive

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Jeremiah 29:4-7
When people think of Jeremiah 29, they often think of verse 11. But just a few verses before that, there is a beautiful passage of how to live in circumstances in which you might not want to be. You see, Jeremiah was writing to the Jewish people who had been sent into exile. And that exile lasted 70 years! Yep, not 7, not 17, but 70 years. And God told them to flourish, to build houses and plant gardens, to marry and have families- to build a life, a good life. We may not be living in exile, but there are probably circumstances of your life that are difficult. You may not be living where you want to live. You may not have the life you expected to have. Your community may not be thriving. But God is there just like He was there for the Jews these verses were written to. And He wants you to thrive anyway.

He also told them to pray for their community. The cities they found themselves in, in exile, they were to pray for peace and prosperity. So what should we do? We should PRAY!!

These instructions, although given to the Jews a long time ago, can be applied in our lives. My nation has been struggling and the state of this nation isn’t where I want it to be. But nonetheless, I am to make the best of my circumstances, to build a house and a family, to plant gardens of love and unity and Jesus’ light, to pray for my city, my state, my country- peace and prosperity for them all regardless of whether I voted for the people in office or not. Plant gardens, my friends, and pray. If your city/state/nation prospers, you too will prosper.

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Boss Lady Alpha, Welcome Home, and Love Your Neighbor. To shadow the words, I used a pencil. I love using a pencil because you can erase it if you mess up and make it darker or lighter depending on what you want it to look like.

Thrive wherever you are because God is there too. Andrea

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Seeking & Thirsting...

Hi friends,


Have you ever had a craving for something? I'm sure we all can identify with that feeling of being desperate for a drink of water (or coffee!) or for something sweet, or something comforting. Desire, or thirst, is what drives us to seek the thing that will quench our thirst. When we are thirsty, we become determined, focused, intentional, even desperate.


Sometimes in the Christian life (ok, maybe more than sometimes!), we can live without intention, focus or drive toward God and his Word. We can drift into a spiritual state of ambivalence, with other concerns taking our focus and attention. When I have been in this place, it's been easy to wonder what's wrong with me. Why am I not seeking God like I should? Why am I not more disciplined? And a guilt trip is easy to take.


But what if the problem is not with our seeking but with our thirsting? What if the reason we are not seeking is that we are not thirsty or that we are quenching our thirst with other things? Thirst is natural, but not everything that quenches our thirst is good for us. Sometimes we can quench our thirst with so much coffee or soft drink that we don't drink enough water, which is actually the healthiest way to quench our thirst. What if the same is true spiritually? What if we are quenching our thirst on things that are providing immediate relief but are not truly life-giving? This makes me think: what have I been 'drinking' lately? How am I satisfying my spiritual thirst? The writer of Psalm 63 shows us a vivid picture of what it looks like to thirst for God, and this inspires and challenges me to have that same posture. 


I created the background on this page using acrylic paint and used a few stamp sets for the verse: Refresh My Soul, Seek Him, and Mini Bold Print Alpha. I used the new Special Blooms bundle for the focal image, stamping on watercolour card then colouring and die-cutting before gluing to the page. I added some butterflies from Spread Your Wings and some wordfetti from Prayer Time to finish.

Be blessed...

x Amy x



Sunday, June 12, 2022

Set Free

 Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. 
John 8:32

Hi Friends,
I'm sure most of you have heard the phrase, "the truth will set you free." Many schools and universities use it as a motto. But Jesus was the One who said it and He wasn't talking about academia. He also wasn't talking of political freedom. That's how the Jews took what He said, but they missed His point. Jesus was talking about spiritual freedom. 

Jesus is Truth. When we know Him, we are free from sin, free from condemnation, and free from death. So friends, are you living free? For many of us, we think of freedom as personal independence- being able to do what we want when we want. But Jesus wasn't setting us free do do whatever we want. He was freeing us to fellowship with Him and the Father, and that means we live in a way that we obey Him and choose His will for our lives. As we submit to Christ, to Truth, sin has less power over us. We make choices that glorify God most of the time. We can live knowing that Jesus doesn't condemn us and that while we will experience physical death, we won't experience spiritual death. That is freedom only Christ can give us!

No matter what happens in the world, we will always be free in Christ. 

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Freedom in Christ and Mixed Up Stencil. I used distress oxides for the background.

Have a blessed week! Andrea

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Giving thanks...

Hi friends,


I've been reading a book recently which has challenged me on the practice of giving thanks - both to God and to one another in community. The uncomfortable truth is that I don't give thanks as often as it is needed. Whether it is busyness, self-centredness, forgetfulness, or entitlement, there are many reasons why we fail to give thanks to God for all his many blessings, and to one another for the ways in which they bless us. 


I once heard a preacher say that anything we are not grateful for is something that we think we are entitled to, and many years later I've never forgotten that. In a world that is focused so much on what we are entitled to, what our rights are, fulfilling our deepest desires, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are actually entitled to nothing really. Everything, including our every breath, is a gift from God. I've heard that it is often the poorest countries and communities that actually exude the most joy and gratitude, because they are grateful for every small blessing. What a challenge to so many of us who have so much we forget to be grateful for.


As I was looking at Scriptures on gratitude, I found this one in Psalm 145, which says that all the Lord's works will give thanks to him, and it made me wonder: if the animals and stars and trees can give thanks to the Lord, why am I falling short? I don't know how a deer or a fox or a butterfly give thanks to the Lord (something to look forward to finding out in the new heaven and the new earth I think!), but I do know that for humans to give thanks it requires words. We need to open our mouths in speech or song, or we can write down our thanks in a journal or our Bible or on a keyboard and screen. So I'm making a commitment that I want to grow in gratitude and express my thanks more and more frequently. What about you? What would you say your gratitude quotient is like at the moment? 


I created the background on this page with acrylic paints and the new Grunge Gears stencil with my Gel Press plate, which was fun. The animals from Fur-Ever Friends were stamped on card then die-cut and watercoloured. I stamped some grass from Nature Silhouettes along the bottom of the page before gluing on the die-cut animals. The text was stamped with a combination of Faith Phrases, Women of Praise, Boss Lady Alpha, and School Days Alpha

Let's be people to commit to grow in gratitude, so that it overflows out of our hearts and our mouths.

Be blessed...

x Amy x


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

A Bruised Reed

"a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice."
Isaiah 42:3


I'm sure you've heard the expression "God will never give you more than you can handle." Unfortunately, there's no real biblical truth to that statement. In reality, God will often give more than you think you can handle in your own strength. The Apostle Paul himself says that he and his friends were "so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself (2 Cor 1:8)." But then in 2 Corinthians 12, he says:
"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me form becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

That sounds a lot like God giving Paul more than he could handle!

However, I think it's we easy to swing so far back the other way that we think God will just "pile on" trial after trial, and hardship after hardship, in an effort to "toughen us up" or to get us to rely on Him. This is simply not the case either!

I think a safe place to be is right in the middle. We often experience more than we can handle in life, but the Lord provides his strength and love (yes, love) to navigate the difficult times of life.  


Isaiah 42 specifically speaks to the gentle, loving character of Jesus. David Guzik has this to say about verse 3: "Often we feel that God deals roughly with our weaknesses and failures. Just the opposite is true. He deals with them gently, tenderly, helping them along until the bruised reed is strong and the smoking flax is in full flame." Isn't that encouraging?

"Think again of that reed: something that has been crushed, or hurt by unkindness, a life that is somehow bent and bruised and shattered, without strength or beauty. There is nothing attractive about a reed, and there is certainly nothing very pleasant about the circumstances in which it lives! Usually it grows in a smelly, unsavory swamp. 

We call ourselves Christians, but if you are like me, sometimes you are desperately ashamed of how dimly your light burns. There is far more smoke than fire: so little prayer, so little real testimony, so much depression and discouragement. But the Lord says He will not extinguish the smoking flax." (Redpath)

I read this passage in my personal quiet time last week and I was so overcome by the sweet tenderness of this verse. I am like a reed - a little bent, bruised, and crushed. I feel like things have been "piled on" this year and I was starting to get discouraged. This verse was a sweet reminder that, while I may be bruised, I won't be broken.

If you're feeling a little bruised (like me!) this year, I hope this verse brings encouragement to your heart as it did to mine. There will be things in life that are too much to handle on your own strength. Things that God either allows or ordains. But God has promised to be with you every step of the way, and your gentle Savior will help you along until you are strong again. 💜

Much love in Christ, 

Janelle
IG: @journalingjoy

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Just Enough

 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, "The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth." 1 Kings 17:14

Hi Friends,
Have you ever felt desperate? I think that's probably what this widow was feeling when Elijah spoke to her. She had so very little that she was planning to prepare the last meal for herself and her son. And Elijah asked her to use what she had on him. When we're desperate, we often don't think about others outside of our closest family and friends, certainly not a stranger. But when Elijah made his request, he also gave her a promise from God. She would have just enough. Just enough flour and just enough oil to make it through until the end of the drought. And she had just enough faith to do what Elijah asked.

Just enough. We often think that "just enough" is not enough. In the western world, it's all about excess. We want more and more. We have to keep up with the Joneses. We need the newest, the biggest, and the brightest.

I think this story is beautiful in the fact that God provided for them but it wasn't all at once. It wasn't in excess. It was just enough. God can certainly give us more than enough and He often does. But sometimes we need to be satisfied with just enough. And when we've got just enough, aren't we more dependent on God? Aren't we more likely to go to Him? When we have more than enough it's easy to begin thinking we are self-sufficient.

Just enough can be hard for those of us used to more than enough. But what a rich experience it can be!

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Boss Lady Alpha, Watch Your Mouth, and In His image. Simple page of stamping. I used a pencil to shadow the letters.

Have a blessed week! Andrea 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12
Dear Friends,
This is one of my favorite verses! I've journaled this verse many times, and even written a blog on it before. And here it is again! LOL 

This verse shows how amazingly forgiving our God is. It tells us how far God separates us from our sin when He forgives us. Have you ever thought of how far the east is from the west? Think about it. If you travel north, you eventually get to the North Pole and start going south. However, if you travel east, no matter how far you travel, you will NEVER start going west! And if you travel west, you will NEVER start going east. So, that's how far God has removed our sin from us- it can't be measured because it's never ending! Wow! Wow! Wow!

It can be hard for us to understand just how forgiving our God is because we tend to be just a bit less forgiving, right? I know I'm far, far less forgiving than Him. But Colossians 3:13 tells us "as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Eeeek!  OK, so God wants me to forgive when someone says they're sorry. Yes. But, what about when they aren't sorry? Guess what, God still wants us to forgive them. Our forgiving others is NOT dependent on whether they are sorry or necessarily deserving of that forgiveness. We need to forgive others solely because God forgave us, pure and simple. And honestly, when we forgive, it does as much good for us as it does the other party because we can let go of the bad feelings. Is it always easy to forgive? No. But remember, God is with you. He has removed your sin as far as the east is from the west!! He will help you to forgive others just as He has forgiven you.

Page details: I used a brand new alpha set from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps called Boss Lady Alpha. It's great! I love all the alphas!! And there are dies to go with it!!! My black ink was a little funky. I didn't get good coverage on all the letters for some reason. That's what you see in the photo (the letters that look shiny), but I just decided to go with it. :) I also used 2 SNSS stencils: Starry Night and Sunburst. The Starburst is a 2 step stencil and really cool!

Have a blessed week, and remember how forgiven you are! Andrea