Thursday, January 31, 2019

He Did it First


Hello friends!
We're right around the corner of one of the biggest and romantic holidays ever!  VALENTINE'S DAY!
I have to admit, this one may be my favorite of the holidays that don't necessarily focus on the Life of Jesus.  I love to think that it does though, because in a very real way, the very life and death of Jesus are the "heart and soul" behind our ability to love at all!

Did you know?
In the Bible it says that we are only able to love because God FIRST and FOREMOST loved us.  (Jn 4:19) 
In the beginning - the very beginning of humanity - He wrote His image on every person.  On every soul of mankind, there is "DNA" of a Master Creator, the One by whom we are loved.  This gives us unique access to a relationship with a Maker full and complete in truth and power.  The One that created the universe, spoke stars into sparkle, dug oceans into deep, also created me.  He created you.  So uniquely.  So wonderfully.  So intricately and purposefully.  (Psalm 139)

That was just the beginning.

The fall came.  The curse placed.  Man would still bear the image of God, God would still love His specially made creature.  But something happened that required immediate attention and exquisite care.  Not to mention, unfathomable Love.
As much as God shunned the evil that abounded, He even more passionately instituted the "Way" through which the curse would be lifted, and sin washed away.  Before Eve even thought to defy her loving Lord and Master, God Himself set into motion a plan that would save her, her husband and the rest of their children (us) from what we truly deserve.
In the stead of a curse, God, who is love (1 Jn. 4:7), condescended to the form of man in the person of Jesus the Messiah, and took all of that… all of the hell.  All of the wrath.  All of the punishment.  All of the separation.  This allowed for the guilty (us) to be blameless as He (Jesus).  What manner of love the Father has given us!  (1Jn 3:1) 
Does anyone love you like this? 
Do you love anyone like this?

Scripture says that no one loves as the Father has loved.  No one so high, mighty, lifted up, honored and adored by angels, has EVER lifted a finger to save mankind as this High and Holy God.  No one. 
This was done by One.  Only One could do it.  Jesus Christ is the lover of our souls.  He made possible the return to that sweet fellowship with God the Master.  The Great I AM is forever satisfied by this "once and for all" act of inexpressible love, that is, the death on the cross for me.  For you. 

The life and death of Jesus were both wondrous representations and expressions of the deepest, most unadulterated Love. Ever.  Forever. 

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life." That apostle John really knew his stuff! (John 3:16)

And so, now we are able to say, "I love you." 
I love you…

Stamps sets used: "His Love," "Texture Tile 1,"Teeny Alpha," and "Classy Script Alpha."
Other supplies: acrylic paint, pigment inkpad, watercolor.

Enjoy a small section of the amazing words to the beautiful (and one of my favorites) hymn below!

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me
Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of your love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To your glorious rest above!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Need Wisdom?

James is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  It has such straightforward, practical advice.  I'm not sure about you, but I like it all spelled out for me.  I love it when the answer is right in front of my face.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love digging in His Word for truth and information.  I love reading to gain knowledge about who God is and what His character is like.  

There are times when I just don't know what to do or where to turn in situations.  Anyone else ever been there?  I'm sure we all have at one point or another.  In the first chapter of James, he tells us all we have to do is ask God.

"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking."  James 1:5  

The word "ask" in the Greek can be defined as "to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require." 

Wow. When I want to know something do I crave the answer?  Better yet, do I crave to hear God's wisdom?  Do I require His knowledge?  Or do I ask five different friends before I even think about going to the Lord? 

Did you read the all of verse 5?  James tells us that not only will God give us wisdom, He is generous and He doesn't rebuke us for asking.  He doesn't say "that's a stupid question!"  He gives us what we ask for...what we crave for.

In this season of choosing to truly abide with my Lord, my heart is craving Him and his knowledge more and more.  I desire to hear from Him.  My heart's cry is to get to the point that every fiber of my being requires that I hear from God.

I know my God is a generous God and He will give me wisdom.  I just have to ASK.  

Where are you today?  Are you hungry for His knowledge?  

Art behind the story:

I was excited to use some of the bold patterns and alphas that Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps has in their collection for this page.  For the background, I started out with some acrylic paints and built a pattern of color.  I added flowers and branches from the  Itty Bitty Blossoms set.  The words were stamped with Happy Alpha and Script Outline Alpha.  I stamped the arrows from the Send Me set on card stock, colored them, and then fussy cut.  

Pray this post encourages you!

Until next time,

Patio Ponderings

Monday, January 28, 2019

Llots of Llove

But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

Hi Friends!
Valentine's Day is approaching. But to be honest, my husband and I don't really celebrate it. I feel like it's a "made up" commercial holiday focused on getting people to spend money on each other. And I don't need a holiday to tell meI need to show others I love them. Now, I know many people enjoy this holiday, and that's great. It's just not for me. LOL.

God doesn't need a holiday to show us His love either. After all, He IS Love. His love never ends. And, He loves us more than we can imagine. I sometimes take that for granted. I mean, all my life, I've known God loves me. I've known that because of that love, Jesus came and died for me. But, man, when I think about the enormity of that, it's really hard to comprehend. Jesus, the Creator of all, chose to leave His throne, His glory and come to His creation. Not in a palace, not as a King, but as a baby in a manger. The Creator became the created. Can you imagine? Not only did He become a Man, but He willingly went to the cross. He gave His life and took on our sins so that we could be reconciled to the Father. That is amazing love. He loves us more than we can know.

And because He loves us, we should love others. The world is full of hurting people. And hurting people hurt people. I try to remember that when someone treats me badly. Because remembering that helps me not to react badly myself. As a follower of Christ, I am called to love. I'm called to love not only the "easy" people, but "hard" people too. That's something I have to work on. It doesn't come naturally. But I have the power of the Holy Spirit and through Him, I can love more like Jesus. I found a bracelet to help me remember to love. It has "HWLF" on it. It's the answer to WWJD- What Would Jesus Do? He Would Love First. This little visual reminder helps me to love every day, not just on a holiday.

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Happy Alpha and Llama Love. I also used watercolor crayons and a white pen.

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. Have a blessed week! Andrea

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Find out what pleases the Lord...

Hi friends,

Have you ever heard those stories of women who long for their husband to bring them flowers but he doesn't realise this and instead shows his love for her by fixing things around the house? No matter how many things he fixes, if the woman thinks that flowers demonstrate love, the fixing will not equal feeling loved. There has been a lot written on 'love languages' over the years and it is really valuable in understanding how to love those around you. I do wonder though whether we ever think about God's 'love language'..?

Ephesians 5:10 urges us to 'find out what pleases the Lord.' It seems that we are not automatically programmed to know what pleases God - we need to search and find this out. God has not left us without a way of knowing though because he has given us his Word, which tells us clearly what pleases God, and what does not please him. You see, we may think that we are doing a bunch of stuff to keep God happy, but we may be neglecting the very things that he values most. Let's dig into the Word of God and find out what it is that pleases the heart of God, then let's make every effort to do those things out of our love for him.

I used the gorgeous Mason Jar Bouquet set on this page, colouring the image with Inktense pencils and blending the colours with an aquabrush. The lettering is a combination of Happy Alpha, Bitty Minnie Alpha and Women of Praise. The butterflies are from Majestic Monarchs which has sadly sold out, but there is a new butterfly set coming in February so watch this space!

Friends, let's find out what pleases the Lord - he is so worthy of our time, attention and devotion!

Be blessed...

x Amy x

Friday, January 25, 2019

Your Steadfast Love

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever."(Psalm 107:1)

This verse is an easy one for me to remember.  I find myself repeating it over and over during my prayer time, or when I need to have more of a thankful attitude.  Perhaps its because of the Michael W. Smith praise song "Forever Faithful".  

This verse reminds us that we ALWAYS have something to thank God for:  His steadfast and forever-enduring love.  It is this love that makes God so good.  And it is for this love and goodness that we can be thankful.  This love was manifest in His Son, Jesus.  We can thank God always for Jesus.  In turn, when we give thanks to God continually, we begin to see more and more of God's goodness and steadfast love present in our lives and circumstances.  It's a beautiful cycle.  

I used the His Love stamp set to create the focal image for this page in my Little Psalm Book.  I stamped the heart onto a piece of white card stock, colored it with Worn Lipstick and Old Paper Distress Oxide Inks, and then fussy cut it out.  I also stamped the same heart onto a hymnal page, and cut out the insides of the heart .  Then I paper-pieced the hymnal page pieces onto the card stock heart.  

To create the background for this page, I brushed some Tumbled Glass Distress Oxide Ink onto the page with a makeup brush.  This allowed for a very light shading of color.  I stamped some texture in pink and black with two of the Texture Tiles 1 stamps.  I also smooshed some Dusty Concord Distress Oxide Ink onto the page, after spritzing it with water to activate the pigment in the ink.  

I stamped the title words with Mini Grunge Type Alpha and Chunky Lowercase Alpha Stamp sets, as well as one of the words from the Filigree Hearts set.  To achieve the two-tone letters of "forever" I simply inked the bottom of the letter stamps with the purple ink first, and then the top of the letter stamps with the pink, overlapping slightly to blend the colors.  I added some shading with a black precision pen, and then adhered my heart with some double sided foam tape.  I finished the page off with a black and white tab, some washi from my stash, and some black splatter painting.

This heart stamp is perfect for Bible Journaling, or for creating heartfelt handmade cards--especially with Valentine's Day coming!  Be sure to check out how the other ladies on the team have been using the His Love set.  You'll be amazed!

Thanks for stopping by!


His Love

Thursday, January 24, 2019

He Intercedes For Us

Sometimes I feel desensitized. Like I forget what Christ did. I forget he took my place. I forget what I deserve. It becomes knowledge... not heart. How do I get there? How do I not feel this brokenness of what I have done. This gratitude for what Christ has done. That he chose us. I see my own sin... and I know He sees it. And sometimes the world around me sees it. Okay I’m sure my family sees it a lot. And yet He stands before the throne in my place. And He says NOTHING CAN SEPERATE our place with Him. Nothing. He intercedes on my behalf. I need to soak that up. 

“Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:34‬ ‭CSB‬‬

I used the Versamark Chalk inks to create the background. then stamped the flowers and colored in with the neocolors11. I used Happy Alpha and Mini Grunge for the words. 


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

You are Mine

How blessed are we? How lucky are we? That the Lord of all Lords asked US to be mine?! 
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬
You know what- actually, he didn’t even ask- he declared! I have called you by name..YOU ARE MINE. In all our mess, in all our sin he redeems us and declares us His! 
Sometimes I know I don’t feel claimable, so unworthy...but He has made me worthy. 
So forever and ever - You are Mine, and I AM YOURS! 

🥰 Brittany Carleton 

* I used our new alpha “Happy Alpha” and “His Love” set along with some sticks Washi and watercolor! Also shown is a little texture using our Texture Tiles 1 set! 

Monday, January 21, 2019

You, Lord, Raise Me Up!

But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
and raise me up...
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God for a shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 41:10, 42:5

If we are honest, we have to confess there is much in this life to get us down, so weary us, to confuse and create turmoil within.   I think of Hannah in 1 Samuel and how she suffered to the point of deep depression over her life's circumstances. Or what about Elijah, so frightened by the evil power and death threats of Jezebel that he ran as far away as he could and begged God just to take his life.  We experience enemy assault, the pressures of life, loss, and tiredness and we can certainly understand being downcast and wanting to run away.  And at the very moment we feel ourselves losing our grip, God grabs hold!

God promises again and again that he will not leave us or forsake, that we never have to figure out life on our own.  He will come to us at our point of need and raise us up.  He will lift us by his mighty hand above our circumstances to see things from his perspective.  He will walk with us in the middle of trouble and he will absorb all that would harm us if we relinquish all to him.  

In God there is always, forever hope.  He will raise us up.  Once we surrender to his Lordship, we can never be defeated.  The victory is already ours.  If you feel like you're falling, look up, reach out to God and let him grip you and lift you up. 
Design Detail:
  • watercolor paints on the background, flamingo and the heart-balloons applied with a water brush
  • texture was created with a stamp
  • Sets Used:

Friday, January 18, 2019

Prayer 101

It’s great to know that when we need answers, we have a great textbook readily available to us. In the book of James, we are told if we need wisdom, all we have to do is ask. 

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Learning about prayer is the same way. It’s all laid out for us in the gospels. Jesus teaches a model prayer often referred to as the Lord’s Prayer. We often want to jump straight to it, but Jesus prefaces it with some specific instructions.

He tells us in Matthew 6:6:

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (MSG)

I love that He is so specific.

“Find a secluded place.”

“Just be there simply and honestly.”

Then, when our posture, position, and place is right, He tells us that “the focus will shift from you to God.”

Without the preparation, our hearts and minds will still be on #allthethings instead of where it needs to be: on Him.

With my word of the year being “abide”, I knew that prayer would be an integral part of it. Not only is the Lord teaching me to draw near and abide with Him, He is showing me clearly just how to do that.

My hope is that this will challenge you to examine your posture, position, and place as you spend time with the Lord in prayer.  

Art behind the story:

With the release of Filagree Hearts this month as the stamp of the month at Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps, I knew I wanted to use this set everywhere!

The background was done with a wet on wet watercolor technique, and then the additional visual texture was added with stamps from that same set, as well as another favorite Grunge Elements 2.

I stamped several Filagree Hearts on paper and fussy cut them.  I wrote the verse out on some patterned cardstock, and then added the "aged" look with the Grunge Elements 2 and pens.  

Lastly, I added the title with the Happy Alpha and finished it off with a fabric clip and some washi tape.

Hope you enjoy all the new releases this month, but mostly, I pray that using them to create for Him will be precious time well spent.

Until next time,

Patio Ponderings

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Be Humble, Gentle and Patient

Ephesians 4:2-3
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 
Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace."

I don't know if it's because Valentine's Day is approaching or what, but I woke up super grateful for my husband the day I created this page. My husband and I don't pay too much attention to Valentine's Day in particular, mainly because our anniversary is the next month and we rather focus on and celebrate that occasion instead. But it's also important that we celebrate our significant other all the time, not just on special occasions. 

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day activities and to-do lists that its really easy to take each other for granted! I know I'm guilty of it myself sometimes! We all are at one point or another. When you're a part of a couple, you each have you're own role, or duties you typically take care of while you partner has others. And sometimes, you get so use to your husband or wife taking care of those things, you take it for granted that they always get done. 

There are some days my husband comes home and all I can seem to do is focus on negative things, or the things he isn't doing. And in turn, sometimes he comes home and instead of seeing how much I took care of all day long, he only sees the laundry that is still sitting on the sofa, or the kids toys on the floor, dinner not cooked, etc. It's all too easy to see and point out things someone isn't doing. But it is so important that we seek out and celebrate the best thing is our husbands and wives. We all have our own set of pressures that others can't always see. Pressures we sometimes hide from others because we don't want to burden them with that stress.

Ephesians 4:2-3 tells us we should be humble, gentle, and patient. Bearing with one another in love! God brought me to my husband, paired us together and blessed us with the life we are living and I could not be more grateful. He is my rock when things get rough, my biggest supporter, the father to my children, my friend and my love. He works so hard to support his family and he loves us unconditionally. What more can you ask for? So I need to continue to remind myself to be humble, gentle, and patient when things may seem less than perfect. I can't always see all the stress swirling around in his head, and he can't always see mine. So we need to bear with each other, through it all, and grow together in love. 

Life isn't perfect, it's just not possible. So hold on to the people God has blessed you with, and treat them with love and respect. 

Prayer: Thank you Lord for my husband! I am beyond grateful for him and all the blessings we have in our life. Please help me to not lose sight of the little or big things. I pray that I always see the best in him and that I can always be a loving and supportive wife. May we always make you the center of our marriage. 

Stephanie Gammon

His Love 

Skinny Caps Alpha 

Grunge Elements 2

Mini Grunge Type Alpha 

Texture Tiles 3

Bitty Minnie Alpha

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I Know the World Needs Jesus

Hey friends and family!

I'm so in love with Jesus.  Can I just say, without the Lord I would be absolutely sunk!  There's so much that comes by being in the family of Christ; so much worked into being linked to Jesus, and there's not enough paper to write it on, according to John the disciple.  :)

Jesus is the hope of the world.
The Word of God in human flesh and form.
The reason for joy; the meaning of love.

Last Sunday, I was able to attend the church service.  Does this sound odd?  Well, in the phase in which I find myself presently (baby, sick kids and fatigue), I find that getting to the church house for fellowship and feeding, ministry and service comes as quite the challenge.  When I get to go, I'm thrilled, refreshed and reconnected with friends I have - SERIOUSLY - not seen in months. 

There's something sweet about the encountering of Jesus in all of the ways mentioned above.  When we fellowship with people of the family of God, we share Christ, unity, bonding, and much more.  When we are fed from the pulpit or classes, we hear Jesus, and our faith is strengthened.  When we minister, we are sharing Jesus' love and hope with others, whether it's a hug of understanding, a warm smile of encouragement, or tears shed for the sake of weeping with those who weep.  Service, of course, shows Jesus' life and light in ways that we don't understand because outside our physical realms lies the heavenly one, wherein angels are entertained, and God omni-present! 

The reflections of Jesus to others (inside or outside the body of Christ) can have such an eternal affect on those around us.  Wherever we are; whatever we are.
As a mom, in particular and especially, I forget what ways I'm impacting my children.  They are my "world."  They are the viewers of my life; the spectators of my day-in-day-out activities and reactions. 
God reminded me of this again last Sunday...

The worship music started.
There was unity in song.
There was blessedness in community.
At one point, I simply stood in silence and listened as those around me as they lifted the name of Jesus.  Sometimes there was 3-part harmony, but I wasn't noting that as much as the squeeze I felt at my side.

My daughter. 
My only daughter.
My child.

She'd stayed with me and stood by me for songs and announcements.  It was just the two of us there at the time as hubster elected to stay with the sicklies of the house, giving me a worship service.  
Very different, yet strangely wonderful. 
As we sang, the phrase, "I know the world needs Jesus," entered the worship hall.  Have you heard this song?
The chorus goes like this: 

"I know the world needs Jesus.
I know the world needs freedom.
So give us eyes to see the hurting and the broken.
Let our lives align with every word You say."

It's beautiful.  Following the chorus, it weighed heavily on me - almost to sorrow - what God was saying by the seemingly random side hug from my baby girl.  "Your children need Jesus, Deirdre.  All five of them.  They all need Me, and you need to show Me to them." 

I cried. 
For the first time in my life as a mom, I realized that the person of Jesus - the Healer, Restorer, Savior, Redeemer, and King - was not the subject of conversation on a regular basis.  My children - my "world" - did not know Jesus, and further still, did not know their need for Him. 
Oh, the shame and pain. 
Oh, the guilt of having hidden the Light under a basket.

That day changed me.  The Spirit opened me up to humbling and recovery.  I need to do things differently at my home.  I even changed the lyrics of the song above in order to better relate to my calling.

"I know my kids need Jesus.
I know my kids need freedom.
So give me eyes to see their hurting and their breaking.
Let my life align with every word You say."

So...I slipped this entry into Proverbs 22:6 which says, "Train up a child in the way he should go.  And when he is old he will not depart from it."  I believe with my whole heart that being the Light in my "world" is a good portion of what it means to train my children in the understanding of God.  My reflecting Jesus, sharing His Word, and being His hands and feet to them can impact them for life in the way they should go!

I encourage you, friends, wherever you are and whatever you are: seek to be Jesus to your "world."  If God has not called you to a full-time ministry as pastor's wife, missionary, bible translator, bible professor, don't worry.  He's called you to full-time ministry as mom, wife, Wendy's employee, amusement park vendor, garbage man, you name it!  In your "world," there are people who need Jesus.  In your "world," there are those who need to taste and see that He is good; they NEED freedom from the chains of sin, death and hell that can only be granted by faith in Jesus the Christ.

I love God the Holy Spirit.  I love His biddings.  Yes, sometimes they are difficult to swallow and digest, but they are timely mercies.  They are gracious urges to do that which is of utmost importance!
In God's mercies and much love,

Happy Alpha, Girl Power, Brotherly Love, Sunshine Girl Alpha

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sweet on You

Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful." Song of Solomon 1:15-16

Hi Friends!

Today I'm in Song of Solomon, a book of love. This book tells the love story between a king and his bride. It's an allegory of God's love for us. Throughout the Bible, there are many verses that speak to how much God loves us. And, Christ is portrayed as the Bridegroom with the church as His bride. In Revelation 19:6-9, the marriage supper between Christ and the church is described. So, you could say, He is sweet on us! Not because of anything we've done, or because of who we are, or because we deserve it. He loves us because that's who He is- Love.

It's His character. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, love is described. And the love described is God's love for us. His love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. It's not dishonoring, self-seeking, or easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. It delights in truth, protects, hopes, never ends...never fails. Wow. God's love for us is truly amazing. Look what He did for us because of that love: "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) I'm sure most of us are familiar with that verse. We know what Christ did for us. But please don't take it for granted. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." He chose the cross. He knew every one of our sins, and all the times we would betray Him, and even then, He chose the cross so that we could be redeemed. He loves us that much. There really are no words that adequately describe that kind of love.

So know, friends, that you are truly loved. On those days that the world beats you down, when you feel unlovable, remember He's sweet on you. He loves you. He is with you every step of the way.

Page details: I used 2 brand new sets from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps called Heart Candy and Happy Alpha. They are both so much fun! I used scrapbook paper to piece together the candy box. And I highlighted the letters with a white pen.

Have a blessed week! Andrea