New Lock Screen Download

Hi friends!

I thought it might be fun as this Passion week as Easter approaches to have a my own little downloadable egg in your grown up basket.  So here is a free lock screen for you phone or other mobile device.  Happy Easter Everyone!

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Looking Back

“Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at my doorposts.”

Proverbs 8:34

Listen.  Last year around this time I was racking my brain for a word for 2015.  It was the thing to do.  Instagram was a buzz with people picking words for the year.  Big profound post were written, images were curated, and as usual people were ready to start 2015 fresh.  It’s always exciting beginning a new year and ending an old one.  There have been years I don’t want to end and years I’ve wept with joy at the opportunity to start over, to forget what was and move forward.  Not to be outdone by all of this “word of the year” stuff I decided to seek the Lord out and see what He wanted me to learn in 2015.  I was expecting something profound,  beautiful, and original.  Something that would deeply impact peoples hearts and get lots of heart eyed emojis!  Instead the word that kept popping up into my head over that week was Listen.  I remember thinking “Listen Lord?  Really?”  Instantly a few of the really beautiful posts I had read recently popped up into my head.  This wasn’t like those.   This was simple, straight forward, something most people already know they’re supposed to do.  This wasn’t at all what I had in mind.  So naturally I tried to think of something else.

It wasn’t that I really minded the word it was just I was sure I could think of something better but as usual I was wrong.  It’s silly really.  Nobody needs a word to sum up their hopes and expectations for the year ahead.  I didn’t need to compete with all of those wonderful people I followed who were deep and profound.  I’m just not.  I try, oh boy do I try, but great expositions on scripture and incredible fresh insights from the Word of God just don’t flow from these fingers.  I’m simple.  I used to think it was a bad thing to be simple.   I used to think that in order to be effective I had to always have the right words (which seldom happens).  I thought I needed to be relevant and fresh.  That if I could only think and write like many of the authors, bloggers, and IG posters I follow then I could finally touch peoples lives and encourage their hearts.  I don’t believe that anymore.  I believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14).  I believe that God uses simple, humble, even foolish things to confound the wise (see 1 Corinthians 1:27).  That He knows the depths of hearts, He understands our needs in a way no one else does, and the really foolish thing is to pretend like I know better than He does.

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So, long story short, I chose the word Listen.  I decided to give up on my plans and go with God’s and am incredibly thankful I did.  The word listen this year was a constant reminder especially when I was struggling.  God brought that word to mind and then led me to His word.  He helped me to remember that true wisdom is from Him and when I am stuck in a hopeless situation, when I feel deserted, the word of God is like water for my soul.  I needed that reminder.

This year was not easy.  I am glad for the opportunity to start fresh but I am also thankful for all of the things God taught me.  If it wasn’t for His encouragement to listen I would have never thought I could memorize an entire book of the bible and yet through Him I did.  I memorized the book of James and am half way through the book of Philippians.  I understand now the importance of carrying the word of God in our hearts.  Many of the verses I memorized just “happened” to be exactly what I needed that day.  This year God helped me to see past my own foolish pride and begin to think like He does.  I am not special, I am broken, forgetful, and oblivious.  But God is good and He fills up and heals my own brokenness.  He reminds me of His truth if I am only willing to listen.

Reflections on James

01da9787ce0be21857595525d95bd4f868a17235a2Six months ago I wrote my last blog post. I informed you all that I was going to attempt to memorize the book of James and about four weeks ago I memorized my last verse, James 5:20.

I’ve spent the last four weeks doing some small devotionals and going over the whole book out loud and in my head over and over just making sure I remember it all. The last six months have not been easy. Memorizing scripture is most definitely a discipline, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding.

I’d like to preface all of this by saying I have a terrible memory, I am normally completely oblivious to what’s going on around me, and I am terribly unorganized and undisciplined. All of these things make really good excuses not to memorize. Frankly, I’m just not good at it. But God has shown me over the first half of this year that writing His words on the tablet of my heart has less to do with my personal strengths and weaknesses, and more to do with cultivating an appetite for scripture. I need to be hungry for the Word of God.

That hunger doesn’t always come easily. Sometimes, most times for me, it comes from consistently (daily) reading the Word. The more I read, the more I want to read, the more I want to read, the more I learn to lean in to God and depend on what He says. The Bible is not just another book in our library. It’s the living word of the only God who loves us deeply. It’s His love letter to us. Each word is incredibly important and is meant to be treasured and remembered.

My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you.
Keep my commandments and live,
And my teaching as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 7:1-3

I’m not going to lie memorizing this book was tough for me. There have been days I got so caught up in my to do list or the drama going on at home that I completely forgot to even glance at my verses and because I had replaced my daily devotion time with just scripture memory that meant on those days I got nothing! Which for me is a big deal! It’s funny because I actually found that it took more self discipline to focus on a single verse than it did for a passage. It forced me to sit still and just think about one thing instead of continuing to read and moving from one idea to the next. Which for this ADD momma was hard! I am so used to going and going being still with the Lord with only one or maybe two verses took work!

Even though my journey through the book of James was far from perfect I wouldn’t change it for the world. Learning each verse in its context helped me understand the book in a way I wouldn’t have if I simply read through it in a couple days. I now know that He is writing primarily to Jewish believers and I understand more deeply popular verses that are quoted a lot like “faith without works is dead” and “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Because I know what else he was saying. Memorizing single verses of scripture kind of reminds me of a nightlight in a dark room. It’s good to have, helps us to get around, it lets us know a little about what’s in the room, but we can’t really see the room until we turn on the light. That’s what happened when I began to finish chapters in James. It was like lights were being turned on throughout the room one chapter at a time.

Though understanding James better was wonderful it certainly wasn’t my favorite part of the process. The best part of spending all of my devotions memorizing was that in my darkest moments God used what I had memorized to minister to my heart. When I was angry, or hurting, or being completely selfish the verses I was studying would pop up, even when I didn’t want them to, but almost always exactly when I needed them.

Studying the bible in this way helped me remember what the bible means when it says;

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

I can honestly say I’ve never been more excited about scripture than I am when I’m memorizing. Now that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing memorizing just for memorizing’s sake. There are a lot of people that know a lot of the bible by heart but don’t let their hearts be affected by it. I want to be clear. It’s not enough just to remember what verses say. We need to understand them and believe them. Deep study of the word is vitally important and without saving faith in Jesus Christ neither memorizing or studying scripture will earn you salvation. The only way to be right with God saved from an eternity in Hell is through grace by faith alone in the death and resurrection of Jesus. These last six months have been an incredible blessing. I’ve loved memorizing James so much now I’m chomping at the bit to figure out which book or section of scripture I’ll do next! If any of you would like to memorize James and could use some helpful tools I have downloadable scripture memory kits now available in my etsy shop. Complete with printable memory cards and scripture artwork!

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Giving Tuesday

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This year in an attempt to fight the tide of mass materialism that unfortunately comes with this time of year someone had the idea to name today Giving Tuesday and use it to focus on donating our hard earned money to people and organizations who need it. After all we have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday so why not have a day designed to make us think about what we can give instead of what we can get. I personally think it’s brilliant.

To help you in your search for credible organizations you can donate to I’ve made a list to make it easy! Now I realize there are a lot of us who won’t be able to make a large donation today. I’ve been there, behind on the bills, not knowing where your next check will come from, $800 overdrawn, little bitty mouths to feed, no savings, and it feels like your suffocating. But something I’ve learned in the lean moments of life is that even if I have nothing financially to give there are almost always other ways to give. Giving doesn’t necessarily have to be money. It can be so much more. As Americans we almost always give out of our abundance. Which isn’t bad. God has blessed us so much. But we shouldn’t only give when we have. Sometimes like the Widow in Luke 21 we give out of our poverty. We give when we feel like we don’t have anything to give because that’s how Jesus gave. When our schedules are full and we have no extra time but we give it anyway. When we just bought something we really wanted and we see someone who actually needs it. When we are depressed, grieving, heart broken and encourage others even when we feel broken and weary. This, sacrificial giving, this is what true giving is.

So even if you can’t give money to one of the organizations on this list give something today.

“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
-Matthew 25:40b

Organizations:

Samaritans Purse
http://www.samaritanspurse.org/donation-items/where-most-needed/

Show Hope
http://showhope.org/give-hope/donate/#donate

Bible League International
http://www.bibleleague.org/

Women’s Rights without Frontiers
http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/

Compassion International
http://www.compassion.com/

Voice of the Martyrs
https://secure.persecution.com/projects_feature.aspx?categoryID=72&source=WEB

Upendo Home Kenya
igg.me/at/upendohomekenya

EKUBO Ministries
http://compassinmyheart.blogspot.com/

Businesses Where Your Purchase Gives:

Noonday Collection
http://www.noondaycollection.com/

Beautiful and Beloved
http://www.beautifulandbeloved.com/

Project Hazina
http://www.projecthazina.com/

Go Shout Love
http://www.goshoutlove.com/

She Does Justice
http://www.shedoesjustice.com/

Better Life Bags
http://www.betterlifebags.com/

And of course us! 50% of each purchase goes to the ministry listed here!

Keeping it Simple

I haven’t had a lot of time to think about what to write today so when I was considering a topic I thought to myself  “It’s going to be short and sweet.”  Love can be a deep and complex topic.  It can be super complicated to love someone.  In fact people refer to their relationships as “complicated” quite frequently.  Love is not always simple, but it can be.  We don’t always have to make grand gestures to show people we love them.  Loving someone can be as simple as praying for them.  It can mean forgiving someone who really doesn’t deserve it, spending time with a friend, or just listening.  There don’t have to be gifts or sonnets and the best part is when we simplify love it makes it easier for us to show love.

So today don’t try to think of hard ways to give love.  Think of simple, straightforward, tangible things you can do.  This way, today, we can show more than just one person that they are loved.

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Resting in Love

Sundays are typically a day to recover from the week for our family. Monday through Saturday can sometimes seem a like a endless struggle. We are constantly going, trying to be better, do more, and get just a little more out of our frazzled schedules. But Sundays, they are our days of sweet rest. We normally have the kids rest in their rooms for an hour or two so my husband and I have time to reconnect and normally veg out on the couch me with my coffee and he with his tea. I can’t tell you how much I need Sundays. After a week of homeschooling , running a small business, and trying to keep my house together they are a necessity. There is nothing like just laying on the couch in my husbands arms resting. The last few days I’ve talked about how to love others. Yesterday I touched on the fact that we can’t love like Jesus unless we know Him. Without experiencing the deep, rich, boundless love of Jesus we can’t hope to even begin to share that love with others.

Today I want to urge you if you don’t know what it is to be loved unconditionally, to be loved just as you are, to look to Jesus. And if you’ve already accepted His grace and mercy to rest in His love. After all “we love because He first Loved us” (1 John 4:19)

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Hope is our Anchor

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As most of you know September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Our ministry for this month is Starlight Shores Camp. A refuge for families with children battling cancer. Today I release a new limited edition 5″x7″ letterpress print in the shop. This print will only be printed this once and once it is gone will not be offered again. 50% of the profits from the sales of these go to the oncology floor of Helen Devos Children’s Hospital. This will not change even when our ministry changes at the end of the month. Please consider purchasing one of these prints as both a reminder that our hope is secure and an opportunity to help a child fighting for their life.

The print is gold letterpress ink not gold foil so it is not shiny like gold foil but it is beautiful. For more information or to buy one of these limited edition prints select shop from the menu or follow this link

Hope Cancer Awareness Print.