Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Joy & our friend, Job

Cover page for the book of Job with a reference to James

Hey everyone! 
Deeds here, with another blog post and Youtube process video for Creative Worship! I love this blog.  I love that you're coming.  I love that this is making an impact in the lives of so many.
I pray that today you will find this blog a blessing and encouragement, particularly because it covers a topic that I find the hardest to understand.
Dear friends, this is - by far - one of the hardest blogs I've had to write; it's the hardest of topics that I've ever had to think about:
And, what is joy? 
What does it look like for me?
What does joy look like in the believer in the midst of pain and suffering?

And guess what?  I don't have the answers to all of these questions.  The biggest issue I'm grappling with right now is how to explain joy in the middle of suffering.
Let me first explain why this lands on my radar.  WHY in the world am I so fixated on joy in suffering?  Cheer in the midst of sorrow?
Well, firstly I'm in the book of Job.  I have a Bible reading plan that I follow.  It takes me through chapters at a time of certain books, and only small sprigs of scripture other times.  I’m liking they layout of the plan!
But, Job? 
Oi.  Job. 
I confess that my heart was achy before I even read the first chapter.  My mind wrestled with God on this topic of the suffering believer.  My soul cringed at the mess that would come as I dealt with some real struggles as a believer in a fallen, depraved, starving world.

Y'all, there's a lot to this concept of joy. 
There's a LOT to the marriage of joy & suffering. 
For the sake of not getting ahead of myself, and attempting to stay clear, I've come up with a few bullet points (and hopefully helpful reminders) on what I've learned since I began this journey in Job.

-Suffering passes through the throne of Grace.
-Suffering is only allowed, by this Throne, to the extent that it is turned around for His glory.
-Suffering is meant to draw us ever closer to the throne that has more than enough grace to see us through "in time of need." (Heb. 4:16)
Reference: Job 1:6ff
These are the basics of what I've come to understand about Job.  It's what I've come to experience daily as the battle rages for my heart.  
Job experienced one of the highest levels of suffering that we know of.  His wealth, his children, his property, his inheritance, his health, his future…gone.  Gone in an instant.  Gone forever.  Gone without reason…
Chapters following his initial loss are COMPLETELY taken over by a discussion that would sooner prove unhelpful, unencouraging, un-insightful, and unwanted than be considered imparted grace and life.  Job had some lousy friends.  Worse yet, he had a terrible wife. 
He had it bad.
He had it the worst.
"Dude took an L," is how I would hear my kids put it. 
And it actually happened - this account is not a sad story of a kid's book with no premise and little moral value.  This truly took place in our history.  Job was a real "dude."

I believe Job is written for our good; for us to see how we can handle the issues of sickness, rejection, loss, and the temptation to lose hope. 
BUT, I more so believe that this amazing account directs us to the One who suffered the most; the One who gave it all; the One who incurred the most rejection, the most ridicule, the most loss, the most burden, the most judgment, and the most wrath, even unto death on the cross. 
The Bible says,
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
 KEEPING OUR EYES ON JESUS, the founder and perfecter of our faith, WHO FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM ENDURRED THE CROSS, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (Hebrews 12:1-4, emphasis mine)
Stamp set used: "Choose Faith"
Affiliate link here: http://www.sweetnsassystamps.com?aff=7

Small prayer of hope that God will show me His heart.
It's not easy being weary in heartbreak and body ache.  It's not easy enduring the loss of a friend, or the rejection of a husband.  It's NOT easy.
It's part of our fallen world to encounter the problems we face, and it's totally natural to fall faint-hearted to the pressure of pain and sorrow. 
God knows us; He knows our heart. 
He loves us; He purchased our soul.
By the blood that was shed on the cross, He bought back what has been taken away from us by sin.  Through His love in life and death, Jesus our Redeemer, LIVES ON to bring help, hope and joy to us, His joint-heirs! 

We suffer, though not alone.
We faint, though not to death.
We endure, though not needlessly.
God is good; God is sovereign; and God is in control.  When going through the hardest of situations and the desperate of circumstances, remember that the Lord God Almighty has intentions for turning what the enemy means for harm and cursing into a matter of grace and glory for God!
Job said, "I know my Redeemer lives!" (Job 19:25)
This is a mantra and creed for the Christian faith as we work together, running the race, singing in suffering and enduring to glory!
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." (James 1:2-3)

Much love,

Monday, May 20, 2019

Chain Breaker Then, Chain Breaker Now

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble." Ps 107:1-2

"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!" Ps 107:13-15

I am reading through the Bible chronologically this year, and have been slowly making my way through I and II Chronicles, I and II Samuel, and the Psalms. A recurring theme has been the story of the Israelites' journey from slaves in Egypt, through the desert, to the Promised Land. Over and over again, the writers recount the journey and rejoice over God's deliverance. 

As I was reading through Psalm 107, verse 14 jumped out at me. It says "He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart." The Christian Standard Bible translation says, "He brought them out of darkness and gloom and broke their chains apart." God saw them in their captivity, heard them in their distress, and provided a way out.

As I had previously shared with you, I spent most of my early adult years in bondage to sin until Christ set me free. Christ came so that we could be free from our chains. In fact, the Bible is full of examples of the freedom offered to all who believe:

  • II Corinthians 3:17 - Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
  • John 8:36 - If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
  • Galatians 5:13 - You were called to be free.
  • Galatians 5:1 - It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
  • Ephesians 3:12 - We may approach God with freedom and confidence.
  • Acts 13:38-39 - Everyone who believes is set free from sin.
  • Romans 6:22 - You have been set free from sin.
  • 1 Peter 2:16 - Use your freedom to serve God. 
  • Romans 8:20-21 - You've been set free from the law of sin and death.
  • Luke 4:18 - Christ came to set the oppressed free.

Friends, can I just encourage you with this simple truth today: the same God who brought the Israelites out captivity, who broke their chains and set them free, has promised to do the same for you. He was a Chain Breaker then, and He's a Chain Breaker now.

I pray you live in victory and freedom throughout this week!

Love in Christ, 

I used Distress Oxides, a white gel pen, and the Freedom in Christ and Typewriter Blocks Alpha stamp sets from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps to create this page. I would love for you to spend some time studying the freedom found in Christ and journal your own "Freedom" page. Be sure to tag me on Facebook or Instagram (@journalingjoy) so I can see your finished work! ❤


Saturday, May 18, 2019

No Longer a Slave

Hello all! I hope you are all enjoying the new stamp releases this month and feeling inspired and creative. You can hop over to the shop and check out all the stamps here as well as some sets that have come back in stock.

This is smaller entry because some days you only have a few moments or you may want to add extra entries later. I began this page with one of my favorite techniques embossing and watercolor. I used the Freedom in Christ set for the stamped images, Versafine clear ink and white embossing powder. If you have never tried this technique before it is an absolute blast and makes you feel a little like a magician. I first stamped the images with the clear sticky ink then pour the powder over the areas dumping the excess back into the container. It is very important that you clean the area around the images with a clean paintbrush, sweeping away all the stray powder that wants to stick in the wrong spots. If you don't do this you could end up with spots of raised embossing in areas that you didn't intend. Next comes the magic...the heat tool. Warm up the powder slowly moving your tool so the area doesn't burn once the powder melts you are finished. Ta da! Now it doesn't pop off the page yet so I like to use watercolor to create a background, but I could totally see using distress inks and oxides too. Finally I like to add a little extra pizzazz with some washi, stickers, and a tip in.

 "We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we are no longer enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him."  Romans 6:6-8

Father, Thank you for reminding me that Satan has no power over me! His kingdom is defeated, through your death. You give me the power to fight the temptation of sin. Amen! 

Love and Prayers,

Monday, May 13, 2019

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching to all the lost;
By it I have been pardoned, saved to the uttermost.
Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty;
O wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.
-Wonderful Grace of Jesus, Haldor Lillenas

Dear Friends,
Are you familiar with the hymn, Wonderful Grace of Jesus? Probably, many of us are; but if you aren't, I encourage you to listen to it. This is a hymn I enjoy singing. But more importantly, it praises God for His grace. Without His grace, where would we be? I'll tell you...we would be lost and without hope, forever separated from Him.

Sometimes, we get grace and mercy confused. In the New Testament, "grace" is the Greek word "charis" which means "favor, blessing, or kindness." Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than punish us as our sin deserves. So, grace is giving us what we don't deserve. Mercy, on the other hand, is not giving us what we do deserve (punishment).

Through God's grace we get so many things. Here are a few:

  • Salvation: For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. Eph 2:8
  • Sufficiency: 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12:9
  • Righteousness: And all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Rom 3:24
  • Freedom: For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
God's grace takes away our burden of sin and frees our captive souls. Grace extends to all. People may choose to reject it, but God gives everyone the opportunity to receive it. I pray that we live in His grace and remember the blessings we receive through it.
Page details: I journaled in an old hymnal rather than my Bible for this one. I bought this used hymnal on Amazon. Sometimes hymnals can be found in thrift shops as well. This particular hymnal was once in a public high school library as it is stamped. I thought that was cool. I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Freedom in ChristLife in Jesus, and Free Indeed. Freedom in Christ is a newly released set. I also used watercolor crayons and Micron pens.

Have a blessed week! Andrea

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Made Perfect & Being Made Holy...

Hi friends,

I have recently completed a module on the book of Hebrews at college and have learnt so much in the process, as well as having been reminded of important truths that I have been taught in the past but really need to meditate on in the present.

One of these truths is this verse in Hebrews 10:14 which I saw in a new light having studied Greek this year. When it says he has made perfect forever, this verb 'made perfect' is in a Greek tense which means that it is a past action with ongoing present significance. So the sacrifice of Christ made us perfect in the past, which has ongoing impact on the present. What an amazing thought!

The second part of this verse is closely related: those who have been made perfect are being made holy. This is the difference between justification and sanctification: justification is when we were made perfect by the sacrifice of Jesus, and sanctification is the ongoing process of that perfection working its way into every corner of our lives in our being made holy. It is so important that we recognise both parts of the truth of this verse. Sometimes we can become disillusioned by the unholiness of our present lives that we forget that God has already made us perfect. But there is a danger that we can focus so much on having been made perfect that we forget that the ongoing process of being made holy in our thoughts, words and actions is very important as well.

I wanted to try to represent this passage of scripture in the colours I used, so I chose red for the 'having been made perfect' part, because it is only through the blood of Jesus that we can be perfect in God's sight. I chose white for 'being made holy' as this represented purity to me. The butterflies that I've stenciled turn from red to white as they are exposed more and more to the light of God's truth (represented by the yellow). Butterflies are a particular favourite of mine as they represent transformation (and they are SO pretty!!). There are so many ways to illustrate a scripture, and choosing colours is a great one to try - it really makes you think through the symbolism and meaning behind what you are meditating on.

After I created the background and stenciling with acrylic paints, I stamped the verse with a combination of Joint Heirs, Typewriter Blocks Alpha and Bitty Minnie Alpha, combined with a few white alphabet stickers. I added some washi tape and a dimensional butterfly sticker to finish this page off. Here are the sets I used:


I hope you are encouraged as you reflect on what the sacrifice of Jesus has done in making us perfect and continuing to make us holy!

Every blessing...

x Amy x

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Freedom in Christ

Hello dear friends!  Big waves, and bigger hugs!  ✋😘
I'm glad you're here, and I hope you'll hang out for a bit.  If you peruse the Sweet n Sassy Stamps and Creative Worship blogs for a while, you'll find a plethora (yes, I DID use that word 🤣) of pages for inspiration; but, you'll also find heart and transparency in the ladies here.  
We look forward to ministering to you this way!

Today, I'm working on a page that means a whole bunch to me.  It has done so for the last few months.  
I used this section of the Word, here in Romans, to prepare for the retreat in Savannah, Georgia back in April, and as I engaged with the meaning behind chapter 8 vv. 14-16, God spoke volumes to me.  When He does that, it's hard not to listen.  It's even hard to do a page and just move on.  It's hard to push on to other things when the Holy Spirit meets you, louder and more obvious than ever.  
Yeah, it was THAT loud.

When speaking about our freedoms in Christ, a lot of times we issue the idea to the shackles we wear:
And while these are ALL things that the Holy Spirit has wonderfully disentangled us from, I have found it difficult at times to remain "free;" as free as Christ paid to make me.  I forget something incredibly important as I struggle to abide in His love and grace, rather than the yoke of bondage that once held me captive: I am His daughter.  I am a daughter of God.  A child, precious in His sight and delicate in His arms.

Romans 8:14-16 says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; rather you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father! The Spirit itself testifies with our spirit, that we are the children of God."
There are so many truth bombs of this passage; even more so are the alternate scriptures provided in the Word of God to lift up, confirm and bolster this very idea: IF IN CHRIST, WE ARE NO LONGER SLAVES, but CHILDREN!

So what I'm going to do is just put in front of you some good ol' hearty "take-home" love from the Father Himself, straight from His mouth, directly from His heart.  Are you ready?  Here we go…

Firstly, what does it mean to be a child of God?

  • Gal. 3:26 “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
  • John 1:12-13 "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."
  • Gal. 4:5-6 “to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”
  • Eph. 1:4-5 “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”
  • Rom. 8:29 “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.”
Born of/Led by the Spirit:
  • John 3:3,6 ‘Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God...That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”’
  • 1 John 5:1,4 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him...For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
  • Rom. 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
  • Gal. 3:29 “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
  • Gal. 4:7 “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
  • Eph. 1:11 “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,”

Now, what does it look like to be a child of God?  (These are some of my most favorite of passages.)

Not a Slave:
  • Gal. 4:7 “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
  • 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
Confident Assurance:
  • Eph. 1:13-14 “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
  • 1 Peter 1:4-5 “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
  • 2 Cor. 1:22 “and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
  • Heb. 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  LOVE THIS!
Not alone:
  • Heb. 2:17-18 “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
  • Heb. 13:5-6 ‘he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”’
I realize, this is a lot.  That's why it's in a blogpost, but I do want to share with you that were it not for the powerful truths we find in scripture, and MORE THAN ENOUGH scripture to back up scriptural truths, it may be hard for some to take seriously what God says about them.  As children, what GOD says about us is most important; most blessed; most needed; most effective; most productive, and if you read these beautiful statements from your Daddy, He has promised they will make their mark in your life and return to Him having done a work in you!!

This is huge!  This is power!  We who are in our Savior, the Christ, are free to be children of the One true God.  The only Begotten of the Father has granted us complete assurance and access to Him who sits on the mighty throne of heaven!

Such love! Such grace!  So amazing!
Much love,

If you're interested in nabbing some of these beautiful stamps, visit my affiliate link here, and please please tag me if you do a journaling entry in Romans 8, or anywhere else you find to claim your freedoms!!  I would love to see how the Lord spoke to you! 
IG: @mercies_journaled
FB: Deirdre Cason

Stamps used are "Freedom in Christ," and "Texture Tiles 2."
I love them both!!

Monday, May 6, 2019

He Set Me Free

"For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been SET FREE from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 6:20-23

The world has sold this lie that being a Christian means living by a set of "rules" - a long list of things you can and can't do. When I was a teenager, I hated the rules. I hated being told what I could and couldn't do. I just wanted to be like everyone else and do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.

I was 15 when I had my first drink of alcohol, 16 when I got pregnant, 17 when I got kicked out of my house, 18 when I first experimented with drugs, and 19 when I realized I was alcohol-dependent. My choices as a teenager set my course for the next 10 years. I had all the “freedom” in the world, but I was never more chained down.

When I came back to the Lord in my mid-twenties (that’s a story for another day, if you ever want to hear it 😉), I continued to struggle with my drinking. I told myself I had it under control, I told myself it is not a sin to have a drink (after all, people in Bible times drank alcohol, for goodness sake!), I told myself it wasn’t hurting anybody, I told myself it wasn’t a problem if no one knew about it. I told myself lie after lie to make myself feel better and avoid dealing with the real problem. God is a jealous God and He has made it clear in His Word that we are not to have another other god before Him. My alcohol dependency was my god, and I knew it. It was more important to me than pretty much anything, certainly more important than my relationship with God. I was stuck in a vicious cycle, battling my wants with what I knew God wanted from me.  

Thankfully, God didn’t leave me in my bondage. He continued to work on my heart until I had a crazy idea: what if I went a whole year without one drop of alcohol?! It was nearing the end of the year, everyone makes new year’s resolutions, what if I decided to give God everything and not have one drop of alcohol for one, whole year? I reasoned with myself, “it’s only one year, if nothing changes I haven’t lost anything, I can always go back to the same routine, no harm no foul.” So, I did it. I committed to one year of no alcohol, completely sold out for Christ in every area of my life.

What a year that was!! God broke me and remade me, and in the process completely remade and restored my family. It was the most difficult, but freeing year of my life, and at the end of that year, I knew I could never go back to who and what I was. I spent 15 years of my life chained down by alcohol and poor decisions, living under the pretense of “freedom.” My “freedom” almost destroyed me and almost destroyed my family. I can tell you without a doubt that there is no freedom like the freedom I found when I gave every area of my life over to Christ. I was no longer in bondage to who I was, I was a new person. I’ll love the Lord forever for saving me, for saving my family, and for setting me free.

If your story sounds a bit like mine, take heart, God’s not finished with you yet. Hold onto the promise of Isaiah 43 – “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” He makes all things new, and that includes you too.

If you have something that you are holding onto, something that is standing in the way of your deepening relationship with your heavenly Father, I urge you to make a commitment today to give it up. For me, it was alcohol. It might be something different for you, but you know deep in your heart that God will never have complete control of your life until you let it go. Let me encourage you by saying that the freedom you will find by being completely surrendered to Christ is far better than that thing you think you can’t give up.

The world tells us that being a Christian means living by rules. In reality the complete opposite is true. When I think of the bondage I lived in for so many years, my heart breaks. I was so lost, so chained down, so broken, and I didn’t even know it until Christ set me free. True freedom can only be found in Christ.

I love using the ESV Scripture Journals because of all the blank space to write notes, paint, and journal! This page has a lot of meaning to me, but it was fun and easy to do. For real! I just used distress oxides and the Freedom in Christ, Texture Tiles 1, and Typewriter Text Background stamp sets to create this page. See my step-by-step process below. 😊



I hope and pray that my story encourages you in your walk with Christ. He never meant for us to live in bondage, He meant for us to live free in Him. Surrender to Him today and know what it's like to be FREE. 

(This is me and my handsome family. My high school sweetheart with whom, by the grace of God, I've been in love with for 19+ years; my 17 year old son, Alex; my 15 year old son, Tyler; and my 10 year old adoptive son, Dakota. Isn't God good?)

Much love in Christ, 


Hop on over to the Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps shop to see this month's new releases as well as the other stamps I used for this page 😊: