Sunday, August 29, 2021

Too Big For Me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Lament and Mourn and Weep...

Hi friends,

There are a lot of really heavy things going on in the world at the moment aren't there? Whether it's the situation in Afghanistan, the earthquake in Haiti, the ongoing effects of Covid, let alone the personal challenges and tragedies many people face on a daily basis, it is often difficult to process. The writers of Scripture don't shy away from these realities and they show us ways in which we can follow God faithfully in amongst the pain and trauma, bringing the heaviness of our emotions to the Lord.

One of the gifts given to us in Scripture are the Psalms, which show us how to talk to God in any and every situation. In the Psalms, there are a remarkable amount of lament Psalms (over a third of the Psalter fit into this category). In these verses we find David and others pouring out their pain, trouble, complaint, and anger to God, trusting that he will hear and answer. These writers knew that it is unhealthy to bottle up painful emotions and put on a brave face, pretending that everything is fine. They instead wrote about their feelings in a lot of detail, but always in the context of a prayerful relationship with God.

The verse that I have journaled on this page is actually not from the Psalms but from the New Testament - James 4:9 (NRSV). In this passage of James, the writer is not addressing those who are suffering from tragedy, but those who are living in sin. He counsels them that the most appropriate response to recognising sin in your life is to humble yourself and lament, mourn, and weep for the ways in which you have disobeyed and grieved the Lord. This is quite sobering isn't it? How often do we respond like this when we are confronted with sin in our lives? It is much easier to brush it off, say a quick "Sorry Lord!" and carry on with life. But James highlights the seriousness of sin and its effects on our relationship with God and those around us. We should be grieved when our attitudes and actions violate God's word. What a challenge for us to consider today!

I created a background on this page using acrylic paints, then added some gelatos and blended with my finger to create a few more shades of colour. The words were stamped using Ellis Square Alpha and Art Deco Alpha, and the leaves, which I coloured with coloured pencils, are from Botanical Branches.

Whether we are facing loss, confusion, anger, or remorse for sin, we can come to God in lament, knowing that he hears our cries and dries our tears. He comforts, consoles and accepts us even at our darkest hours.

Be blessed...

x Amy x

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Turn Down the Noise

And after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. 
And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 1 Kings 19:12

Hello, dear friends!
Today I'm in 1 Kings 19 with Elijah. In chapter 18, we find Elijah at a spiritual high. God came through in a big way and defeated the prophets of Baal. God was with Elijah big time! But, in chapter 19, Jezebel was pretty angry about what had happened, and vowed to kill Elijah. So he ran. 

Does that surprise you? I mean, he's ELIJAH, the great prophet, who was taken up to heaven by God in a great whirlwind. When circumstances got tough, he ran? Can you relate? I sure can. I may not physically run away when life gets hard, but I mentally run- to books or TV or social media, anything that might help me take my mind off the hard.

Elijah was feeling "done." In verse 4, he asked to die. He was exhausted. The Bible tells us he slept after praying to die. And God sent an angel who fed him. God knew Elijah needed to be physically strengthened so that he could continue the work God had for him. 

Well, Elijah went to Mt. Horeb and found a cave where he took shelter. And God had one question for him in verse 9, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" But Elijah didn't really answer God's question, instead he told God that he was the only one left standing for God, and that he had received a death threat. 

So God told him to go out of the cave, and God sent:
  • a mighty wind
  • an earthquake
  • a fire
But God was not in those things. The loud, chaotic things that so easily get our attention because they are loud and chaotic are often not where we will find God. Instead, God came to him with a whisper, a whisper that asked the same question, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" You see God didn't want him to run away from his problems. In fact, He told Elijah to go right back in to those problems! But, God strengthened him physically and mentally. He had fed him and promised Elijah that he wasn't the only one standing for God. He promised that there would be others to come alongside Elijah in standing for God.

Our world is loud. And there are a lot of problems. So, in the midst of the hard, instead of mentally (or physically) running away from the problems, turn down the noise of the world, and sit with Him in the stillness. God will speak to you through His Word. He will strengthen you and me too.

My life has had a lot of changes lately as we moved from Kansas to Texas. There's been hard and stressful times in this move. But, I just have seen God working over and over. He cares about the details of our lives. And He is there for us. We just have to listen.

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Ellis Square Alpha, Marker Alpha, Bitty Minnie Alpha, I Am Loved, Texture Tiles 1, Texture Tiles 6, Texture Tiles 9, Gear Up, and Grunge Elements 3. The background was done with distress oxides: Speckled Egg, Dusty Concord, and Chipped Sapphire. I applied them to the page with blender brushes. I spritzed the page with water as the distress oxides react and give a neat effect. Then I used all the stamps. :) I wanted the background stamps to give the idea of the noisiness of life, but the blue area is calm and quiet.

Sit with Him, my friends. He's waiting! Have a blessed week. Andrea

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Little Forgiveness, Little Love...

Hi friends,

When I was thinking about this statement of Jesus, "Whoever has been forgiven little, loves little," I thought of an illustration from everyday life that may help us to understand the truth of this saying. Jesus gives his own example of two people who owe two amounts of money - one large and one small - and who are both forgiven their debt. The question, 'who will love the one who forgave the debt more?' has an obvious answer. 

The example I thought of was a person's house with a yard covered in autumn leaves. If your whole yard is covered thickly with leaves and you are too weak or busy to rake and remove them, you would be incredibly grateful if someone came along and did that for you, free of charge. You would (hopefully) thank them profusely and think very highly of them and their kind service to you. On the other hand, if you only had three leaves sitting on your nicely manicured lawn, and someone came along and removed them, then told you of their service, you may well simply shrug and think 'well, that was no big deal.' 

But what if your lawn was full of leaves but you couldn't see them for some reason? If someone came along and removed them for you out of loving service, you wouldn't care because you wouldn't think you needed their service. This last example is probably true of the Pharisee who was hosting Jesus for dinner. It wasn't that he had no or only a few sins that needed forgiveness, but that he couldn't see the sin in his heart and life. He couldn't see the pride and superiority, the lack of reliance on God, the critical and judgmental spirit of others, and probably more that are unnamed. Because he couldn't see his sin and didn't recognise his need of forgiveness, his love for Jesus was meagre compared to the woman who was thoroughly aware of her sin, and thoroughly loved the one who forgave her. 

Which of these examples describes you? Are you aware of your yard full of leaves that need removing? Do you think you only have a few so it's no big deal? Or are you blind to the number of leaves piling up on your lawn that you need someone to do something about? Only Jesus can remove our sin and offer forgiveness and cleansing. Are we worshipping him in love, or serving him from a distance?

I used a couple of new Sweet 'n Sassy sets this month on this page: Fall Background for the leaves, and Faith Wordfetti Too for the black wordfetti which I embossed with white onto black card. The background was painted with acrylics, and the verse was stamped with a combination of Bitty Minnie Alpha and Hello My Name Is. The house and trees are from Love Your Neighbor

Let's be like the woman in Luke 7:36-50 who knows the depths of her sin, and loves extravagantly the one who has forgiven her.

Be blessed...

x Amy x

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Salt & Light

You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world- like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:13-14

Hi Friends!
Today we're talking about salt and light. And on my page, that is represented by the ocean and the sun. Have you ever been swimming in the ocean, and gotten a mouthful of water? I have, and I have to say, it didn't taste too good! So what did Jesus mean when He said His followers are the salt of the earth? There are differing opinions on this. In Jesus' day, salt was used as a preservative and as a flavor enhancer. So, some people think that Jesus was telling His followers to preserve truth and goodness in this fallen world. Others think Jesus was telling His followers to enhance the world- making God's work stand out from the norms of life. In Jesus' day, salt was valuable. The value of salt lies in it's effect on what is around it. And that's what we, as Jesus' followers, need to do. We need to affect those around us, to impact them in a way that draws them to Jesus. We need to be a positive impact on our communities, living differently than the world. And that brings us to how we are to be light. If we are living differently than the world, we will stand out, or shine. But we aren't to stand out for ourselves. We are to stand out for God's glory. This world is dark. But we know, when we turn a light on in a dark room, the darkness vanishes. Our presence must be like that light- standing for the truth and living in a godly way so that people are drawn to God and embrace His truth. It's easy, as humans, to muddle this up. We can do things in a way that cause others question God or turn away from Him, just like I spit out that salty ocean water. So, I think, dear friends, we must be gentle in our approach- bold, yes most definitely, but gentle, being sure to show the love that Jesus showed. Even when He was guiding and teaching sinners, He loved them. His only anger was directed to the religious leaders who thought they were oh so holy.

Be salt and light. Be like Jesus.

Page details: Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps just released this fabulous alpha set called Ellis Square. Don't ya love it? I sure do! I started by drawing the waves and sun with pencil, then used watercolor crayons to color it in, and finished it by outlining the lines with a Micron pen. Then I stamped the words on top.

Have a blessed week, dear ones! Andrea