As a result of my commitment to Lent, I have been doing more Bible reading than I was doing previously. I have a plan that I am following so that is helping. As I read everyday and do a little art in my Lent journal.. God is revealing things to me. I sense that He is answering questions that I did not realize I had..opening up scripture in new ways. This should hardly be news to me since I have been a Bible reader for the last 38 years, but there have been seasons where I could not open it up and I felt dried up and lost. This short season has changed all that.. my spirit is being renewed by focusing on the Lord, His word, my art and desiring to change some bad habits and patterns that keep me from trusting Him fully. My faith feels stronger.. I have more hope and there are some answers to prayer that I believe are coming.
One of the passages that God used during this last week, was from the last chapter of John.. you know the one, where Jesus appears to his disciples after the resurrection and says ” Come and have breakfast.” I have always enjoyed the down to earth flavor of that passage. He fried fish for them.. no sermon.. just food and fellowship. In this same chapter He asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter gets a little annoyed but says yes every time. What is this all about? Some people see it linked to Peter’s denial of Jesus.. since that happened three times. I can see that possibility, but I see much more. Jesus answered Peter three times.. He told Peter to feed His lambs, take care of His sheep and feed His sheep. Some translations say tend or shepherd my sheep. What does this mean? For me it means that if I love the Lord I am going to care for, encourage, and comfort His people. There can be no excuse for not doing this including disillusionment, cynicism, and old wounds. It was a word I needed to hear. Anyone who attends church and interacts with other believers long enough will have reasons for pulling away and licking their wounds. Yet if I am understanding this passage correctly, we don’t have that option. “IF YOU LOVE ME…Feed my sheep!” Wow.. I got it Lord and thanks for making it so clear:)
So grateful for a God that reveals Himself through the scriptures and that cares enough about us to communicate with each one of His sheep in a personal way.
Today is day 11 of Lent. The season is 40 days and lasts until Easter… we are about to enter the second week of Lent officially starting tomorrow. Interestingly as I have started taking this season seriously.. God has been revealing things to me. It seems that the pattern is the same during Lent and actually any other season. Once I decide to eliminate some things that take too much time(and in the end add up to nothing) God moves into the empty space and speaks things I need to hear.
First I decided to spend less time on the computer and that meant getting off Facebook.. then it seemed like He asked me to give up something that I thought was a positive in my life. I sensed the Lord asking me to let go of trying to help people with problems that seemed overwhelming. As a counselor.. that is my work and I understand the support I give people is needed and part of God’s plan for my clients and for me. Outside of this setting.. I can be a type of rescuer.. wanting to fix people and give them lots of my time and energy.. So it was very interesting to realize that I need to have better boundaries in my personal life and trust God with the people who are struggling. He continually reminds me that I have limited energy and He does not want me to be depleted by taking on burdens that don’t belong to me.. This has been a process for me.. it is not something new, but this time He is going deeper and asking more from me.
It is all a matter of trust. Trusting Him to help those I cannot help. Trusting Him to comfort and encourage the brokenhearted. Trusting that He will bring others into the places I cannot go. So.. I am continuing the journey and asking Him to forgive me for the things He is identifying in my character that I need to give to Him and trusting that this will be a fruitful 40 days…believing that I will see things in a new way by the time we get to Easter!
I have posted a few pictures of my little Lent art journal.. staying in His word and creating art together is rich and a good use of time:)
I spent most of my Christian life never really appreciating Lent. Many churches don’t acknowledge this season and seem to ignore it. I am not sure why but I suspect it has to do with rejecting ritual or tradition. I feel like I was missing something all those years and this year I have embraced Lent in a new way. I started googling Lent and scripture and came up with some very interesting websites. Many of them seem to spring from the more contemplative stream of the faith. As I began exploring and reading things from each site I suddenly saw an opportunity. Traditionally people give up things for Lent and I understand the reasoning behind this.. although admittedly I have not done much giving up during Lent in past years. This year I am joining in with giving something up.. that something is Facebook. I have only been on Facebook for less than a year and I have to admit that I think about giving it up permanently every time I visit the site.. Actually giving up Facebook the first time I was on it.. 5 years ago.. resulted in my starting this blog.. So here I am again thinking that God has a plan for me to do something that I can only understand if I quit that site and free up the time that it takes from my life.
So since yesterday was the official beginning of Lent.. Ash Wednesday.. I stopped visiting the site and sure enough.. here I am back on my blog. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I love writing and I have not been very inspired since I started wasting so much time. I also started an art journal for Lent.. an idea that emerged today and I am very excited about sticking with it for the entire season of Lent. I am journaling a new scripture every day for the 40 days of Lent.
The first day has been inspiring and I hope to draw closer to the Lord as I am faithful to listen each day and create my art journal. This is the type of project anyone can do.. you don’t need artistic talent and you definitely don’t need lots of art supplies. Any little journal or even one that you make yourself will work. At the end of the 40 days you will be able to look at what you have done and realize how far God has taken you by being intentional and focusing on Him every day until Easter.. For my journal, I took watercolor paper and cut it into small rectangles and punched holes in the sides. I tied them together with ribbon and that was all there was to it.. very easy. I hope to do a different type of thing on each page.. giving the scripture reference and a phrase that jumps out at me. I plan to post some pictures of what I am doing as I go along.
So why not do something creative this year and let yourself enjoy Lent. Yes you might have to give something up to make this happen.. but think about how much you will gain in the end. This season only happens once each year and it ends in a celebration of the life God has given us! Preparing for the celebration will bring thankfulness and joy into our hearts and we will have those things to offer up to Him!
Over the last week or so I have been doing Bible journaling. When I first heard about this idea.. I have to admit I did not get it. Why would I do art on the pages of a Bible.. it almost seemed wrong. Yet.. I was intrigued by the idea since I enjoy journaling and have been working on various art journals for the last couple of years. My daughter.. knowing nothing about this.. gave me a journaling Bible for my birthday two weeks ago. OK.. it was time to push past whatever was holding me back.
I started watching videos on Bible journaling and saw examples of how people were doing it.. I decided to step out and try it.. doing a few things on the first page of the book of Hebrews.. a book I am studying right now. It was interesting but I was afraid of ruining the pages.. then I learned about gesso and ordered some. It coats the page so you can use watercolors and other things without totally ruining the other side.. Loved that idea and tried doing a couple of other pages. I was happy with the results and wondered why I was suddenly eager to do more.
Well.. this morning after I woke up I had a realization. As I was working on the pages of the Bible..decorating and creating art.. I was responding to God’s word in a new way. My art was a form of worship. For almost 40 years the Bible has been a huge part of my life.. I have read it over and over and there are so many passages that God has used to comfort and encourage me.. Now I am giving something to Him.. I am responding to His love letter with color and shapes and words that express my love for Him..It was a surprising revelation that I want to share with everyone!
We have a God who created the heavens and the earth and He made everything beautiful.. for us. He made us in His image..we have creation all around us and we were made to create! When we create, we touch the heart of God..we join forces with the Holy Spirit to bring something beautiful into the world.. it is a powerful experience. Creativity is a part of the human experience.. it slows us down and draws us away from the madness of this world. I hope you can find an outlet for your creativity and that it will become a refuge from the busyness and the noise that surrounds us.
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”
We got a good dose of God’s blessing of rain this month.. after a long dry spell..the colors of His palette are everywhere. I have been walking over the last week.. easy to do when the sun is shining every day. You never know what new things are just around the corner and I am continually encouraged by the Lord that He is in control and everything is moving ahead exactly the way He has planned it.
My heart is feeling full of hope as we move toward Spring and I know that it is because He has answered the cry of my heart to be renewed and granted more faith in this season. I see the way He is weaving my life experiences together..nothing is random. Isn’t that reassuring? We are part of a larger story..one that we can’t full comprehend, but He gives us glimpses. One thing leads to another and suddenly we are filled with joy.. God is doing things with us and through us.
I want to leave you encouraged today.. filled with anticipation..hopeful and renewed in your faith. I can’t do all that, but the Lord can and He will.. He is ready to meet us and to fill us with His living water.. I took some pictures on one of my walks to share with you…glimpses of Spring and all the good things that are yet to come..
Here is the scripture that God gave me for this year.. I am art journaling these days..I recommend it.. as a way of responding to the Lord and remembering His words to us.