Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Blessed Nation

Hello again, friends!

 I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  I spent a good portion of Memorial Day reflecting on my freedoms and the blessings I have because I live in this great nation.  I am thankful for the sacrifices so many throughout history have made.  It's almost incomprehensible, to think of all the lives that have been lost to protect our freedom and way of life. 

Psalm 33
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
    play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.

13 From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
    all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you. 

I pray, Lord, that we never forget as a nation, where our hope comes from.  I pray we never forget the sacrifices made so that we may live as a free nation.  I pray for each and every service member, that they may seek You and know You and that they live a life in service to You, first and foremost.  Protect them, as they protect us, Lord.  I also pray for the family members of our armed forces.  I can not imagine the countless sleepless nights they endure waiting to hear from their loved ones.  Give them strength and comfort, Lord.  

Father God, thank You for the ultimate sacrifice made by your Son, that allows us a place in Heaven, if we only accept Him as our Savior!  Help us to be a nation of Christian soldiers, ready to sacrifice what ever You ask of us, for the glory of Your Kingdom.  Amen.

Page Details:
I started this page by drawing and painting the flag and flag pole, using acrylic paints.  Then I stamped the large floral cluster from Consider the Wildflowers using a light colored ink and messily colored it in with acrylic paint.  I stamped back over the image with black Stazon ink, after the paint dried.  I repeated this process with the cross from the Rustic Easter set.  I covered up my flag with pieces of paper and sprayed the sky with a light blue mister spray I made using Derwent Inktense Blocks and some water.  I added some clouds with white Distress Paint.  It was at this time, I felt like I might not have left enough room for my title and decided I would have to stamp over the top of my flag to have room.  I tried using Archival Ink to start with, but the word was getting lost in the flag.  Embossing powder to the rescue!  I used Versamark Ink with black embossing powder and the Chunky Alpha and Mini Grunge Type Alpha to complete my title.  And because I had some stray embossing, I used some black paint splatters to finish off my page. 

(Before the title)

Until next time, catch up with me on Instagram and Facebook @simplyjillsjourney.


Monday, May 25, 2020

Focus on Jesus

O our God, will You not execute judgment on them? 
For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. 
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You. 2 Chronicles 20:12

Hi Friends!
Today we are in 2 Chronicles 20 where Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was told that the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites had declared war on him. And he got scared. Wouldn't you too? But his response wasn't to focus on the enemy and his circumstances. No, instead he immediately went straight to God. He also asked the people of Judah to fast. So nationwide, they sought the Lord. Incredible! How amazing to have a leader that led people directly to God in difficult times.

Jehoshaphat prayed before the people. He cried out to God with all of Judah and asked God to help them. And he ended the prayer with a thought I can SO relate to, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You." Oh man, I can relate to Jehoshaphat's fear and not knowing what to do regarding big, scary things in life. I've read this chapter before, more than once. But in this reading, this sentence really stopped me. Maybe it's because of what's going on in America and the world right now. I don't know, but it so resonated with me. This reminds me to keep my focus on Him, to do what Jehoshaphat did. So, I'm adopting this sentence as a little prayer that I can send up anytime fear or worry starts to set in. I don't know what to do, Lord, but my eyes are on You. Yes and amen, y'all! Do you want to know how the story ends? They didn't even have to fight the battle! God, through Jahaziel, told them to march out against the army, but to just "stand still and watch the Lord's victory." (2 Chron 20:17) God caused the enemy armies to fight among themselves, not one of them escaped. Don't we have an awesome God? If He could do that for Jehoshaphat and Judah, just think how worthy He is to entrust with the circumstances of your life. Focus on Him, sweet friends, not your circumstances.

For the page, I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Capture This Moment, Healer of My Heart, Girl Power, and Your Story. I painted the back ground with acrylic paint. While that dried, I stamped the camera image on some sticker paper and then again on a post-it note to make a mask. Before I cut the mask out, I drew hands and arms so the girl could hold the camera. (They're a little wonky, I know. That's why I love stamps so much so I don't have to depend on my drawing skills!) Then I cut out the mask. I use post-it notes so it will stick where I want it and not move. Once the mask was placed, I stamped the girl, removed the mask, and drew in the hands/arms to match the masked area. I drew the frame freehand. I colored the image with alcohol markers, then cut it out to place it on the Bible page. I wrote my prayer out, and finished the page with a stencil and more acrylic paint.

Our hope is in Him, and no one else. Have a blessed week! Andrea

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Servants and Stewards...

Hi friends,

I've been reading through Paul's letters recently in my devotional reading time and I came across this verse in 1 Corinthians 4:1 - 'This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.'

These two words, servants and stewards, struck me as a pretty good description of how we should view not only Paul and his missionary team, but also ourselves. Servants are those who know they are employed by and accountable to their master. They don't do their own thing or set their own agenda. They seek their master's instructions and aim to please him in everything they do. Their aim is to be faithful to their master in everything. This is how we are called to live our lives as followers of Christ. He is our master and lord, and the way we live should reflect our desire to please and obey him in all things.

Stewards are those who are entrusted with something for use and safekeeping. They know it is not theirs and therefore treat it with respect and faithfulness to its intended purpose. Paul knew that the message he preached about the mysteries of God that had been revealed in Christ was not his to do with as he pleased. He knew that his responsibility was to be a faithful steward and preach the gospel according to the purpose given to him by God.

The same can be said of us. We have been entrusted with a message and with gifts from God, but we are stewards of these, not owners. So as we speak and serve we need to be mindful that our aim is to be faithful to the One who entrusted us with these gifts and this message. We are servants and stewards.

I used the beautiful new In This Together stamp set on this page, which I stamped and coloured with watercolours. The text was stamped with a combination of Skinny Lowercase Alpha and Bitty Minnie Alpha. I added a Blue Morpho Butterfly printed on clear sticker paper. Here are the sets I used:

My prayer is that we would be faithful servants of our Lord Jesus Christ and faithful stewards of that which he has entrusted to us.

Be blessed...
x Amy x

Friday, May 22, 2020

Run With Endurance

“I am never signing up to do this again!” I scold myself as I’m half a mile into my race. “I don’t know what I was thinking wanting to get up before dawn to come out here and run this early in the morning.” If you know me, you know that I am NOT a morning person and I am definitely not an early morning exerciser. So the mere fact that I am running a race before dawn, or just after, tells you how much I love it. But right now, the road before me is long, crowded and already my legs are feeling heavy. But somewhere just beyond the first mile mark, something changes. My steps get secure. My breathing is under control and the crowd has lessened a bit. The distance before me is still daunting, but it seems do-able.

No matter what distance you run, the first mile is always the hardest. It’s crowded from the people clamored at the start line. Your pace is hard to find because you’re surrounded by people who run different speeds. And until the air clears a bit, it’s almost hard to breathe. But somewhere around that first mile mark, the dust settles some. The challenge is still there, but instead of being overwhelming, you realize that you do have the strength within you to tackle the race ahead. It’s in those moments that follow that you really begin to learn what you are made of. All of your preparation has reached a pinnacle and it’s time to put your training to the test. There’s so much that we can learn from running a race, but there are three main points I want to look at today.

1. Find a steady, but challenging pace. 
The starting line of a race is one of the most congested, chaotic places. There are hundreds and sometimes thousands of people all standing together with the same goal: get to the finish line as fast as you can. And as soon as that buzz sounds signaling the start of the race, everyone takes off. It’s crowded and hurried and often hard to find your running speed because you are surrounded by people running different paces. Sometimes you don’t realize how fast you are running until you start fighting fatigue prematurely. The key to running well is to find a pace that is steady, yet challenging. You want to find a pace that you can hold over a long period of time, yet one that will allow you to meet your time goals. 

My favorite place to start in a race is at the back. I may be one of the last ones through the starting line, but I typically don’t feel the pressure to keep up with everyone. As the race continues, the crowd clears. People are finding their own stride and are starting to lay claim to the race – it is theirs to run. The competition lies within themselves…can I do better this time than last? What can I do differently this time that I messed up on last time? 

As we are running through this life, the best thing that we can remember is to stay in stride behind Jesus. He is the ultimate pace-setter. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” Don’t try to run ahead when you feel strong or go around Him when the terrain seems rough. He sees the road ahead when we don’t and He knows which way is best. Follow Him. Keep your eyes focused on Him. Speed is important in a race, but more important than that is steadiness and consistency. Following Him will be challenging at times, but His steps are always secure; He is worthy to be trusted. Other paths and other people will look tempting to follow but He said, “There is only one way to the Father and that is through me” (John 14:6, paraphrased). Surrender the desire to run your own way and your own pace and stay focused on Him. Let Him guide your steps. Learn the way that He runs and mimic it. Because I can promise you one thing: He won’t let you down. 

2. When things get tough, slow down, but don’t stop.
Races are never flat. I gave up on that wish a long time ago! Pavement is uneven. Hills come and go. Running against the wind is a fight you can’t control. But one thing is certain: for every uphill you climb, there is always a downhill, or at least a flat road! Life happens. Trials come. But Jesus told us to run with endurance the race set before us. I love the definition of endurance. It is the ability to endure a difficult situation without giving way. It is the ability of someone or something to remain active for a long period of time while gaining immunity to fatigue. We are told to run with endurance the race set before us. When we place our hope in the Lord, we are told that “we will find new strength…[we] will run and not grow weary…” Isaiah 40:31. When that road ahead seems daunting, we place our hope and our trust in the Lord and He will give us the strength to endure. We press on toward the goal that Christ has called us to (Philippians 3:14). If we are in stride behind Him, we can have absolute certainty that the direction we are running is the right direction. We can know that when we encounter difficult circumstances that we are where we are supposed to be because HE has led us there. We can find JOY in the journey because we are running in step with Christ. Is He going to give us more than we can handle? YES…Because He wants to grow our dependence on Him. We run with endurance. We endure trials and suffering and pain and heartache because He is growing us and strengthening us to become more like Him. When those hill climbs are making your muscles burn, slow your steps but keep on running. He won’t run off and leave you, He still there marking out the path in front of you. Press on. The finish line is near!

3. Have a good playlist. 
As silly as it sounds, a critical component for me to run a good race is to have a good playlist. The beat of the music helps me keep my pace and when I am focused on the empowering words of the songs, I am able to mentally press through the tough times. A couple of years ago, I made the decision to only listen to Christian music while I am running. Music has such an impact on me and seems to go straight from my ears to my soul. Because of that, I made the choice that if I am going to be using music to get through tough workouts, I want it to point me to the one who can get me through all things- Christ. And there is nothing like worshipping while you’re running J

All that to say, it is vital that we surround ourselves with things that are going to uplift and encourage us on a daily basis. We need to have good, Christian friends to challenge us to be better people. We need to listen to music and read books that have positive, Biblically centered messages. We need to be involved in ministries that put Christ and others first. In our life-race, we need a good playlist to get us through the tough times. We need to be able to pull those messages from our subconscious to get us through the dark, unsteady times. The messages that you feed your mind will filter out into the way that you run and the way that you live. Make it good <3

By the time I get to the finish line I feel strong, accomplished and ready to take on the world. All thoughts of how hard the race was are gone and it’s in those moments that follow that I sign up for another race. Because there’s nothing like being welcomed back at the finish line with a loved ones arms around you, proud of you for what you have just done J Well done, faithful friends. We made it. 

Have a great weekend!
IG: @lifeintherace

Crafty Details
I started this page by stenciling some diamonds with Twisted Citron distress oxide and adding some texture with Texture Tiles 1 with Broken China. I printed the digital stamp Turtley Awesome and colored him with my Prismacolor colored pencils. I stamped the words with a combination of Messy Stamped Alpha and Teeny Alpha and finished with a few strips of washi on the top and bottom. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Graves Into Gardens

Have you ever have an image or idea come to mind, and you just can't get it out of your head until you get it out on paper or complete it?!? That's what this page was for me. 

I heard the song Graves into Gardens from Elevation Worship this past Easter Sunday. And this song just blew me away. I was singing as we worshiped Easter morning in our living room together as a family. But this image of an old grey tombstone suddenly covered in bright flowers was burned in to my brain and I knew I had to make a journaling page about it. Knowing we had this beautiful floral stamp set Consider the Wildflowers coming out soon, I held on to my idea till I could use them and AHHH I just love how it turned out!

Some Lyrics:
I searched the world
But it couldn't fill me
Man's empty praise and treasures that fade
Are never enough
Then You came along
And put me back together
And every desire is now satisfied
Here in Your love (hey)
Oh, there's nothing better than You
There's nothing better than You
Lord, there's nothing
Nothing is better than You
(Oh, yes I know it's true)
(Come on, tell 'em, hey)
I'm not afraid
To show You my weakness
My failures and flaws, Lord, You've seen them all
And You still call me friend
'Cause the God of the mountain
Is the God of the valley
There's not a place Your mercy and grace
Won't find me again.....

Below is an excerpt from Elevation Worship themselves, explaining the meaning behind this song. They explain it so well I won't even try paraphrasing it. So powerful!

"Graves Into Gardens"​ has roots in a sermon [Pastor Steven's] preached on a Bible passage found 
in 2 Kings 13.

After the prophet Elisha died, his story didn’t end there. Two Israelites were near his gravesite about to bury another man. When they saw a band of enemy raiders coming, they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21).

Pastor Steven preached that just like the resurrection miracle Elisha still had left in his bones, ​God is in the business of bringing dead things back to life. ​And i​f we’ll throw the dead areas of our lives on the bones, if we’ll believe in the power of God, if we’ll declare resurrection power 

over everything we sow, nothing will be wasted. Nothing is over.
 Nothing is finished. If God is in it, we will move forward.

As the members of Elevation Worship have corporately expressed: “Our prayer for this project is that it would serve to bring the reality of the Kingdom of God into our hearts and minds –– our entire faith is built on the truth that when Jesus hung on a cross and was placed in a tomb, it wasn’t the end. He wasn’t buried, he was only planted. What the world saw as defeat, God knew was a victory. Our faith is in a resurrected King, and the reality that resurrection 

is still happening and is possible in our own lives.”

Worship leader Chris Brown further illuminates: “We hope people are able to take a second look at what they once considered “dead” in their life. And that this project provides a new perspective that allows them to see new​ life​ in seemingly ​dead​ places. Because what God breathes on must come to life. And what we may see as a grave, God sees as a garden.”

Stephanie Gammon

Consider the Wildflowers
Skinny Minnie Alpha 
Typewriter Blocks Alpha 
Loop da Loop Alpha

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Encouragement about Encouragement

Hey there, it's Deeds! 💜💛

I'm on the blog today to offer a bit of encouragement about "encouragement."  

To keep it brief, as sisters and brothers in Christ, the command to encourage one another is one among many commands to the body of Christ, the Church.  
There are actually nearly 60 passages of scripture called "one another" passages, wherein unity and oneness of mind, love and strength, help and hope are required of us toward others of the faith.  In this, there is a workable "body," and a powerful testimony to those outside the faith!

When the Lord calls us to encouragement, His words are pretty clear as to the consistency, the intensity and the emergency...
 "See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end." (Hebrews 3:-14 emphasis, mine)

God has a beautiful story to tell in the binding of our Bible.  There is a compelling tale of Creation and the perfection within.  This leads to something known as "the fall," the drastic change from something wonderful and "good" according to corrupted and becoming more corrupt because of sin.  Then (queue the Hero music), God brings about the Redemption plan which comes in and through the Person of Jesus Christ.  This sinless God the Son, does the ultimate work to redeem mankind on the cross and through the resurrection.  Because of this act of love and grace from God, now we have the opportunity to know and love God ourselves, love others, and tell others of the hope that is in Him.  The finale of this beautiful tale is called Recreation.  This is the part where God the Son assumes the throne for all time in a newly made, perfectly developed, eternal realm of glory.  Followers of God from the beginning of time to the end, live here forever.  Dwell here for all eternity, in the presence of the Lord, worshiping, living and loving perfectly - FOREVER! 
Now, this story hold so much more for us and gets unfolded in the pages of the Bible.  When you look at scripture through the lens of the "Story" - HIS story - encouragement, as was meant in Hebrews, is possible and powerful! So,

When you see a crisis in the brotherhood, encourage.
When you see pain, encourage.
When you see growth, encourage.
When you encounter rebellion, encourage.
When there's bickering, encourage.
On and on, the list goes regarding the blessing of one child of God to another.  On and on the list goes of ways and reasons to do so. 

Sometimes, I make encouragement cards for my family (those who would say they are "in Christ") to help them see from scripture the necessity to endure, persevere, take heart, believe Christ, live in grace, love with power, and see the bigger picture.  This is an exercise for me too, to remember God's calling on our lives, and the implications of being His child/follower/ambassador.  And through the filter of this wonderful Story of scripture, I'm encouraged! 

So here's a few examples of the cards I made, but also the scripture from which they're based (I would
encourage you to look up each of these to help understand the sentiment!):

God is good, all the time.
 - Romans 8:28
 - Psalm 145:9
 - Psalm 136

Inside the will of God is the only place to be.
 - John 15:7
 - Jeremiah 29:11
 - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

When you go through deep waters, God will be with you.
 - 2 Corinthians 4:9
 - Isaiah 43:2-3
 - Psalm 62:6

I am His, and He is mine.
 - Song of Songs 6:3
 - Ezekiel 16:8
 - Isaiah 43:1

God never allows pain without a purpose.
 - Philippians 2:13
 - Hebrews 12:6
 - Psalm 94:12
 - 1 Peter 5:10
 - Romans 5:3-5

Trust in God's perfect plan, even when His answer is wait.
 - Psalm 62:5
 - Titus 2:13
 - Psalm 46:10

I do hope this was helpful and encouraging.  This is something that works mightily in the lives of fellow followers of Christ - this use of scripture in daily living is powerful because the Word is living and powerful!  It divides even the more narrow of pathways in our souls to do that work which cannot be done by any other book, tool, blade, or medicine.  It IS the power of God - in it we find Him.  And, THAT is encouraging.

Much love,

Affiliate link to Sweet n Sassy Stamps: www.sweetnsassystamps.com/?aff=7

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Cleansed, NOT Consumed


But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:1-3 NLT

Have you ever wondered why God allows the trials and burdens in our lives?  I think we all have at some point in our faith walk.   The Bible never promises us a life without struggles.  Trials are inevitable.  In Isaiah 43:2, God says "when" we go through rivers and "when" we walk through fire, it doesn't say "if".  

God allows us to face these trials and hardships to cleanse and purify our hearts and to draw us closer to Him.  Just like steel, we can be strengthened in the fire; we can learn  from our struggles.  We can learn to trust more fully in the Lord.  We can learn compassion, humility, and vulnerability.  We can learn prospective and to be more thankful for the many blessings God gives us.  

The struggles we face can strengthen our relationship with the Father, if we remember that He is with us, just as He promises in the verses above.  He instructs us, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you".  He is our Creator and Redeemer.  He calls us His.  He promises to be with us as we walk through the fire.    

If you are in the fire, I pray you use this season to cleanse your heart and strengthen your relationship with the Lord.  I know the struggle is hard, but do not be consumed.  God will create beauty from the ashes.   

Page Details:
I started this page by painting flames, using acrylics in the lower corner.  Then I layered the beautiful black and white florals from Consider the Wildflowers over the fire and at the top of the page.  I used the  Girl Power set to stamp out an image to represent myself.  I stamped my title using the Cold Coffee Alpha and Messy Stamped Alpha.  I finished it off by adding some star stenciling and paint splatters to the background.  The blueish purple specks on the page are actually bleed through from the entry on the reverse of this page, but I decided not to let that bother me and let it be apart of the "sparks" floating up from the fire. 

Until next time, catch up with me on Instagram and Facebook @simplyjillsjourney.