It is enough

Hey you!  I don’t know where you are this morning but I find myself here in my kitchen typing unexpected words onto my computer while coffee brews in the background.  Lights twinkle on our Christmas tree and I’m trying to drink a full glass of water before breakfast because of something I heard someone say on a podcast last week about being an “I drink a full glass of water as soon as I wake up” kind of person. I can’t for the life of me remember what podcast it was or who said it but after a quick -and failed- google search, because I know you are all dying to hear where I attained this water information, I decided to not let myself get too distracted because this morning during my devotions I heard the whisper of God.  I know, it sounds weird to me too.  There was no audible voice like little Samuel heard in 1 Samuel 3, or a big booming one like when God talks to Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments” movie that plays on TV every Easter, just a still small whisper that spoke truth and peace into my morning.

Three words.  It. Is. Enough. 

This year – well most of my life actually – I’ve been fighting the hardness of my own heart.  Wanting to go my own way.  Thinking that I know best, or maybe a more accurately explained as thinking that what I want is best.  Let me clarify here because usually my own way isn’t bad.  Normally I want to do ministry related things, God things, things that are good, holy, and righteous things like foreign missions, adoption, ‘christian’ artwork, teaching, and discipleship.  For whatever reason God has closed the door on most of those opportunities over the years and kept me here, a stay at home mom who home-schools our kids.  Most of my life is spent corralling four unruly children between the walls of our 1100 sq. ft. home.  If I’m being completely honest, this is a source of contention between me and God.

I’m not one of those women who dreamed their whole childhood of becoming a mother.  It is something I wanted to happen eventually but not something I pined for.  Don’t misunderstand, my kids have shaped me and sanctified me as a person, I love them more than I have words or time to describe here but motherhood itself was not my dream.  Like those crazy Disney movies I obsessed over as a kid I always felt I was meant for something more and like cancer that idea infects every part of my heart if I let it.

It’s not just mothering though.  Last year we left a church that I had been a part of for ten years and my husband has been a part of since his adolescence to help and encourage a small church nearby.  It was where we felt God was calling us but I miss my former church family terribly.   The small group we are a part of now averages 30 people on a good day and while I love those people I can also feel isolated and lonely there.   We have so much peace as a family that this is where God wants us but sometimes I ask why?

Over the last several months I’ve taken a kind of social media hiatus reevaluating what I think the Lord wants of my business.  I’m in the process of closing the art portion of my El Roi Artistry shop to focus entirely on the bible study materials.  It seems like He is pushing me specifically in the direction of children’s study helps at the moment which I am excited about but also a tiny bit disappointed.  I really wanted my art shop to become something.

So, yesterday morning while our family was driving to church I confessed the way I felt to my husband not in specifics like I just explained here but the deep true reality that God feels far off and part of me doesn’t want Him.  I want my own way.

I want Him to bless what I think He should bless and
I find myself like Jacob, wrestling.

This morning as I began to pray for a sweet teenage girl that our family loves who wants to go into missions and as I attempted find words for her I felt resistance.  Just to be clear, I want God to do great things through this friend wherever He leads her, but it was hard for me to say that outloud.  I was supposed to do missions work.  I committed to that when I was young.  I want to have what she might have.  I realized what was happening and like a child who hasn’t got their way I decided to tell God what I thought of His plan for my life, not in a rebellious angry way but more defeated and honest.  I hadn’t been honest with myself or with God for a long time.  James 3:10 says “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.”  It’s easy for us to lie to ourselves about our own pride and arrogance.  Like the Pharisees, who Jesus called white washed tombs, we parade ourselves around as friends of God but inside we are far from Him.  Friends, as I prayed I could feel the Lord uncovering the bitterness, jealousy, and selfish ambition that I had been trying to cover up for so long.

The truth is, I want to do great things for God and this morning once again I was reminded that that is exactly what I’m doing.  I pictured the Widow of Zarephath standing before Elijah with her handful of flour and tiny bit of oil at the bottom of a bottle thinking “I can’t give this to you, this is not enough” (1 Kings 17) and Phillip looking at a little boy with five loaves and a few fish thinking “we need so much more” (John 6).   But David spoke truth in Psalms 16 when he said:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    You hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

As I laid out all my complaints and unmet expectations before God in the middle of my sentence I heard Him whisper “It is enough.”  And even though this isn’t the first time this year I was reminded of this truth I think I may be the first time I actually believed it.  In her book “The broken way” Ann Voskamp calls us “the remembering people”  and I am so quick to forget.  There is so much “not enough” in our culture.  We are reminded everyday through our friends and our Facebook feeds that we need more but quickly we discover that the search for more always ends up with never enough.

My mothering, homeschooling, nursery working, bible study with a friend life may seem little but just because something is little doesn’t mean it isn’t good.  There is an old song I used to sing in church as a child “Little is much when God is in it” that I had forgotten until today but the truth rings clear.  Little things and small obedience can be big before the God we serve.  He works big in the little things.  This season we celebrate the small, humble, and quiet coming of our savior.  God elevates and exalts the humble.

So this morning as I listen to my kids play in the living room and finish this last cup of coffee the words from 1 Peter I read in the dark and quiet earlier today reverberate in my heart “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”  I don’t claim to be suffering but I know there are those within the reach of these words that are.  In any situation friends whether that means we are really hurting or simply wrestling with God about His plan for our life.  He is trustworthy.  We can entrust our souls and our days to him.  His faithfulness doesn’t end.  He isn’t finished with you yet and He is blessing your obedience whether you see it or not.

In this season of much let us never forget that what we have is enough.

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Gracelaced Book Review

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.
~James Bryce

About six weeks ago I opened up a box with one of the most beautiful devotional books I’ve ever had the privilege of holding.  I immediately began to thumb through page after page of gorgeous artwork and photography kind of enamored with the thought and skill laid into each one.  Design wise everything about it called out to me.  It made me want to curl up on the couch with some coffee and chocolate because chocolate and coffee are two things that take a book from great to amazing. 

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While l as an artist would like to judge this book solely on how pretty it is I know I can’t.  A book is not measured by how beautifully it was designed, I have read some pretty terrible beautiful books, it’s measured by the truth we take away from it.  A good book, any good story really, should feed our souls and reveal truths that sometimes get lost in our day-to-day realities.  

This book in particular, Gracelaced by Ruth Chou Simons, delivers on ever count.  Not only is it beautiful, it is authentic and overflowing with the deep truth, think coffee table book meets devotional book.

I’ve read Ruth’s writing for several years and have always been impressed with her ability to use words not only to convey truth but to point us to the Truth Giver in a way that is not demeaning or self righteous but encouraging and equipping.  The book is laid out into four seasons winter, spring, summer, and fall with each season serving a different purpose.

Winter is for “Resting in who He is”

Spring is for “Rehearsing the truth” He says about you

Summer “Responding in faith” to those truths

Fall is for “Remembering His provision”

Lately I’ve been wrestling with being overwhelmed while preparing for our school year which begins next week.  I’ve taken the last month away from social media so that I might get some clarity and focus but when I think about all I’d like to do:

  • grow a small business
  • minister to women
  • raise my kids
  • love my husband
  • home school
  • church
  • keep the house clean
  • get to know my neighbors
  • pour into friendships
  • have time in the Word

I can almost immediately feel my chest tightening and anxiety take over.  I’ve never been an anxious person but here dwelling in my list of to do’s I realize how short I fall and I begin to measure myself by those bullet points.  They scream at me “failure” and in that moment I want to throw in the towel and just give up.

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A few weeks ago as the overwhelming anxiety once again began to creep in I was reading the fall section of Ruth’s book.  I turned to that first devotional and read the words:

“God makes us needy that we might find him generous; He allows us to feel to weak to handle all of the details that we might delight in His sovereignty.” *

There it was.  I was needy.  I felt crushed and broken under all of the priorities I’d made for myself and in a moment My forgetful heart was reminded of the One who holds the world together.  She continues later,

“You’re held, not because you can handle it all, but because Jesus can.” *

I can’t handle it all.  I can’t juggle anything really, I’m a terrible juggler, but I don’t have to.  I needed the reminder that I am not measured by how much I can accomplish my Savior has already finished the most important work and He can more than handle these burdens I carry.  They aren’t mine to bear.  I am a finite person with a limited bandwidth but I serve an infinite God.  

Over and over throughout the book Ruth reminds us of who God is because, when we know who He is we can fully understand who we are.  We get real clarity when we look at life through the lens of God’s character.  We see what matters most.  I realized a few weeks ago while lying in bed reading this book that most of the things causing me anxiety were not the most important things and that if God calls us to something He will equip us for it but friends, He is not always calling us to all the things.  There are seasons, life ebbs and flows, so today breath in His grace.  Let Him carry the burdens that feel to heavy for you.  Remember you are not measured by your to do list, likes on Facebook, Instagram, or how outwardly successful you are here. 

You are measured by Christ’s finished work on the cross.

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I would highly recommend Ruth’s book to everyone.  Find it on her website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local Christian bookstore.  

P.S.  I also loved that I felt like this book gave me permission to doodle all over it.  Seriously, you need this in your life.  You’ll thank me later 🙂


*All quotes from Gracelaced book by Ruth Chou Simons Copyright 2017

WORTHYBANNER

This word.  Worthy.  The question of what it actually means to be worthy has been playing over and over in my mind all week and just like many other questions the answer usually depends on who you ask.  So naturally I asked google.  “What is the definition of Worthy?”

worthy

adjective wor·thy \ˈwər-thē\

Simple Definition of worthy

  • : good and deserving respect, praise, or attention

  • : having enough good qualities to be considered important, useful, etc

There it is, good, deserving respect, considered important, useful…so who decides that?  Who decides what is good?  Well, let’s think about our options.  If my worthiness depends on the culture than it will change depending on what society values at the time.  If my circumstances, family, and environment determine my value then all of these things are outside of my control and there is nothing I can do to affect how worthy I am.  If it is my actions that are the determining factor  than what decides which actions are “good” and which are not.  Is it even possible to know what my worth is?  A simple answer, yes.  Your value, my value, anyone’s worthiness really doesn’t depend on us.  It depends on something far greater than us.

When we look at the world around us we see hate, bigotry, natural disasters, death, homelessness, starvation, childlessness, the shear magnitude of evil around us can be overwhelming and when we compare ourselves to that we seem like we’ve got things pretty well in hand.  Compared to everything that’s happening in the world I’d say my life looks pretty good, but let’s take a minute and separate ourselves from the fallen conditions around us.  Let’s just look at us… or no, me, my own heart,  lets look at that because my worthiness does not depend on what’s happening in the world, it depends on what’s happening in my heart and when I look at that I see everything in a different light.  In my heart there is pride, jealousy, and hate, just to name a few off the top of my head.  Now, I’ve never killed anyone and overall I’ve done some OK things in my life so with that in mind I’d say I am a pretty good person overall.  I have some bad things but hey who doesn’t.  I’m still good enough, that doesn’t make me unworthy, or does it?

Well that depends.  If there’s no standard of what is good or bad, right or wrong, than absolutely!  Live however you want because ultimately it really doesn’t matter, except that it does.  There are standards.  The bible clearly lists standards that we are supposed to attain to.  They lay out the perfect life, how to live without sin.  The only problem is this: No one qualifies (Romans 3:10).  What does this mean?  It means we are lost.  We are a people without hope struggling in vain to be good and attain a standard which in the end is like treading a stormy sea.  We are cold, wet, exhausted, and alone.  We feel as if the strength in our body is failing and soon the sea will overtake us.  Only to our surprise someone has thrown out a life preserver.  There is one who is worthy.  One who has managed to rise above temptation and the evil that surrounds us to live perfectly.  God came down in human flesh to be one of us.  It was His plan all along.  He saw His creation, humanity, and knew we would never be able to attain to this standard, but the standard could not be changed.  God is not only perfectly good but He is perfectly just.  He must judge sin and He is holy so he cannot be near sin.  In order for God to be Holy and still be able to love His creation, to draw near to His people, than payment must be made, the sin had to be atoned for.  His solution, to leave the glory of Heaven and be Emmanuel “God with us.”  He lived perfectly so that in the end He would be the final sacrifice, the perfect lamb to offer as payment for the sins of a dying world.

Today, my friends, is Good Friday.  The day we look back and clearly see the death of a man who committed no crimes, the sinless Son of God “who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).  He is what makes us worthy because He is worthy.

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

Revelation 5:12b

Can I just be honest for a moment friends?  I really think part of our problem as a culture especially as believers in our culture is that we focus way to much attention 0n this question, our own worthiness.  We remind ourselves constantly that we are enough, we are beautiful, and worthy.  We buy prints, mugs, t-shirts, and books that tell us what we need to feel better about ourselves.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I love many of those prints, mugs, t-shirts, and books.  Hey, I even sell some of them, but I think many times our focus is wrong because it is on ourselves.  In the end what makes us confident is not our own self-worth but how much value we find in our Creator.

“for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,”

Philippians 3:3

So today sisters let’s remember the One who is worthy.

What is love?

The funny thing about writing on love is almost every post I’m reminded of a song.  Like today all I can think of is “what is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more..”  Anyways, I felt compelled on this journey to love intentionally to define love.  In our culture today, for a variety of reasons, love has become confined to this sexual love box that quite frankly I don’t believe it belongs in.  Actually even the Oxford Dictionary defines love in this way:

love  [ ləv ]

noun

  1. an intense feeling of deep affection:
    “babies fill parents with intense feelings of love”
    synonyms: relationship · love affair · romance · liaison · affair of the heart ·

    More
    • a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone:
      “it was love at first sight”
      synonyms: infatuated with · besotted with · enamored of ·

While this type of love is real there is so much more to loving a person than being emotionally attached or physically loving them. The bible defines love differently.  It explains true unconditional love.  Love that doesn’t depend on our feelings but remains despite our feelings 1 Corinthians actually lays out in detail what real love is,

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Many of us have heard these verses over and over but when you break down the truth of scripture.  You realize how far as a culture we’ve missed the mark on this one.  Love is not some fairy tale ending even though I some days I desperately wish it could be.  Love is not an amazing feel we get when we care for someone.  It isn’t a sweet kiss or a bouquet of flowers.  All these are just the effects of Love.  Love is choosing the good of another person over your own good.  Sacrifice.  It’s not always fun, it’s not always easy, and quite frankly more often than not it’s something I don’t feel like doing, but it’s good.  And love that has been tested is deep and rich.  That is why at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 Paul writes “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

So today I’m taking a moment to breathe and consider what it really means to “abide” in love.  I’m considering ways to step out of what is easy for me and do something hard for someone.  Something that actually puts their good above my own.  I pray you can do the same thing too.

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The Shop is Live

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…and just like that 17 items are up for sale.  I’m incredibly nervous right now so this post will be short and sweet.  A big thanks to everyone for your support.  Each of you have been an incredible encouragement.  I hope to have prints and stationary available in the shop in September.

Happy Thursday 🙂