A recent page from one of my art journals.
“The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your soul in drought …. You shall be like a watered garden.” Isaiah 58:11
A recent page from one of my art journals.
I’ve shared on here about creating a new Facebook group called “Art From God’s Word.” Twice a month, we have a scripture prompt, and each member then creates a work of art inspired by that scripture. We can use any medium we choose, and this time around I chose watercolor and ink.
The prompt was 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins.”
I do not make New Year’s resolutions. But each year, I do look to the Lord and seek His face and His heart to learn what His plans are for my upcoming year, and what He wants from me during that time. And, of course, there are things that I want for myself as well. This year, I decided to just make a list of all the things I’m wanting to accomplish in 2020. Some of them are on God’s list as well as mine, and some of them — well — they’re probably on my list only — but God will tolerate them out of His merciful love for me. 🙂
Here’s my list — so far:
1. Eating lots of chocolate No surprise there, right?)
2 . Drinking gallons of great coffee You didn’t think I’d forget coffee, did you?
3 . Finishing the three novels that got shelved after my best friend/best editor died. I’ve recovered from the grief of losing my best friend, who was also my most trusted and efficient editor — and my reservoir for all kinds of creative ideas. But even though I don’t deal with the intense pain of the loss as much, I’ve still found it impossible to let my creativity flow back into those projects that he was working on with me. I know I’ll be able to do so eventually, and I’m trusting the Lord that this year will see a breakthrough.
4. Writing scores of Cinquain. I do love Cinquain — as most of my readers know. And I can’t wait to dive into all kinds of subject matter that can be disciplined into this wonderful poetic form this year.
5. Writing scores of Tso’i. This new poetic form that I created last year is still a challenge. Of course, it had to be somewhat intricate in order to be a genuinely “new” form. If I had followed the disciplines that are comfortable, I’d have been staying in the same groove of all the forms I’ve written in all my life. So, I accept the challenge to write loads more Tso’i in 2020.
6. Writing a new series of Christmas stories I haven’t written anything holiday-themed in a couple years, and that’s surprising, considering how much I love Christmas. I did put out my Holiday Planning Journal last year, and that was loads of fun. But this year, I want to do some more short stories that relate the special excitement, warmth, and love that belong to the Christmas season.
7. Painting more than I did last year and arranging for a showing of some of my work. During this past year, some people have been encouraging me to do a showing of my artwork at a couple local places, but I haven’t had the confidence in my work that they seem to have. However, I think it’s time I considered it seriously. This venture is more a “maybe” than a sure thing, but I’m definitely going to consider it.
8. Making connections with more Christian artists. I’ve taken the first steps in getting this goal accomplished by creating a brand new Facebook group called “Art From God’s Word.” It looks like there are quite a few other Christian artists out there who want to participate. Twice a month, I’ll post a scripture prompt on that FB page, and all the members will meditate on that scripture and then create artwork that the verse inspires. They are free to use any medium and form of art that they choose, as long as it relates to the scripture passage. It’s a way to focus on God’s Word and fellowship with others who are like-spirited and want their gifts to glorify the Lord.
9. Teaching more”Writing Poetry” classes. It’s been hard to get people to sign up for the “Writing Poetry” classes. They come to other creative writing classes, but the poetry always lags behind in enrollment. It’s such a fun class, and if people realized that, they’d want to come. So, I need to work more diligently this year at making them understand how much fun it really is.
10. Taping a number of live videos, where I teach in front of the camera. Except for a very few, my Bible teaching videos are mainly audio teaching — with the help of a few pictures or graphics for people to look at as they listen. I’ve never been photogenic, and have a complex about being on camera — video or stationary cameras either one — so I’ve held off on this venture. But I do believe the Lord says its time — maybe past time — that I got this part of the ministry off the back burner. As long as I don’t go back and look at the old live videos that I do have of myself, I think I’ll be able to accomplish this goal in 2020.
11. Increasing my focus on the Lord and becoming more conscious of His presence within me. This desire is last on my list in this post, but it is certainly not least. In fact, it is the most important thing I will do this year. And, in truth, unless I do manage to accomplish this one, most of the others will probably fall by the wayside unfinished. But I have faith that this year will be a year of new growth — even great growth — for me spiritually. So, with the Lord’s help, I’m expecting to get this last item on the list accomplished, as well as the other nine.
If you’d like to share your goals, desires, or plans for this new year, please do. Use the “Comment” windows below to tell us about them — or put a link there to a post on your own blog where you share in more detail.
Graphics courtesy of Elisa Riva @ pixabay.com (edited for this post)
WHAT DOES CHRISTMAS REALLY MEAN TO JESUS???
Everyone has different opinions and different feelings concerning the meaning of Christmas. What were Jesus’ feelings about coming from the throne into a tiny body that was laid in a manger at Bethlehem? That’s the focus of my most recent upload to Radical About Jesus YouTube channel: “Let’s Not Get Stuck At The Manger”
Make listening to and sharing this message part of your Advent Celebration this year.
In the early morning of October 23 — just 11 days from today — thousands of swallows will lift off the grounds of the San Juan Capistrano mission, circle the mission once, and begin their pre-scheduled 7500-mile flight back to their home city of Goya, Argentina. They will have spent 7 months at the mission, enjoying the warm climate and excellent food — and offering their share of the work to keep the eco-system in its proper balance — particularly by destroying about a billion insects. But it will be time to go home, and those swallows will not fail to leave at exactly the appointed moment.
Their visit to the centuries-old California mission began in Goya at dawn on February 18 — as it has every February 18 for at least the past 200 years. They arrived at Capistrano on March 19 — as they have for at least 200 years — and, yes, all the mission bells did ring, just as Leon Rene’s 1940’s song says. There is a great celebration at the mission every year, and thousands of people turn out to welcome the birds to their summer home. All events are planned well ahead of time because there is absolutely no doubt that these lovely swallows will be right on time.
Argentinian magazine correspondent Enrique Bermudez, who writes for Para Todos Magazine, has made a thorough study of the swallows. He says they fly most of their 7500 mile journey at an altitude of 6600 feet and fly at a speed of 18 miles per hour. His research shows that swallows are masters at following a flight plan that takes advantage of every favorable wind. And somehow, in spite of all kinds of unpredictable natural events, they arrive exactly at the appointed time on March 19, year after year after year. How awe-inspiring is that?
Well, it must be pretty inspiring for the majority of people because the event has been immortalized in word and song for decades now. Unfortunately most people any distance away cannot be present to celebrate the event, but most all of us have the privilege of witnessing a similar miracle right in our own back yards if we care to take notice. Most of us have “closer-to-home” birds that migrate north and south at exactly the right time every year — returning at the same appointed time when the seasons change. In my neck of the woods, the most prominent migratory birds are the geese, and their v-shaped flight patterns make designs across our skies for several weeks each fall as they follow their God-given homing devices to their places of winter refuge.
And so it is in every little burg and hamlet across the planet. Then when spring pops out from under winter’s blanket, ducks, geese, and birds of various sorts find themselves on the move again, and without fail, all the members of each species of bird know exactly where they are going. Just like the Capistrano swallows, they all have this built-in guidance system that we call “instinct.” It’s an internal radar, given to them by their Creator, that doesn’t fail to take them exactly where they need to go: south in the winter, north in the summer, and even to the highest rafters of the crumbling mission at San Juan Capistrano.
But what about us? People. Do we have our built-in homing device turned on? Is it keeping us focused on our perfect destination? No matter what the season in our lives, our perfect place of safety and fulfillment is always the same place: The Almighty, Eternal, Living God.
What time is it in your life? Is it time to migrate to a new place in your spiritual walk? Do you find yourself feeling the need to live on a higher plane? Or is it getting a little dark and cold where you are now, causing you to long for more warmth and light and nourishment?
Well, the Word of God makes it clear that we each have a built-in homing device with its own internal radar. That Word tells us that we do not have to “anxiously look about us,” trying to find our path. (Isaiah 41:10). All we have to do is set our hearts on the one who created that homing device. (Prov. 3:6). And even more directly, we are told that we will find Him through Jesus Christ, who is “the way” into the heart of that Creator. (John 14:6).
Do you have your radar zeroed in on the almighty God of the universe? If so, you have a fantastic journey ahead of you. If not, maybe this changing season is a good time to make an adjustment.
Just a little whimsy I posted on my poetry site, but I thought you might enjoy it too. It goes along with the whimsy I was feeling when I painted this doodle-ly piece. [I don’t think doodle-ly is really a word, but I’m a writer — I can make up my own words. 🙂 ].
I know a forest filled with rainbow colored trees.
And every time it rains, they lift their leafy heads.
For God’s great promise spoken to Noah years ago,
With bow that promised we’d have no more floods to dread,
Reflects its multicolored prism on these trees,
And God’s great faithfulness from tree to tree is spread.
Just a little happy page from one of my journals:
Do you prefer reading books digitally? Well, then this offer is for you. SET FREE TO LOVE, which is Book # 1 in The Smoky Mountain Series, is available for the next four days absolutely free in digital format.
The book normally sells for $3.99, but since Amazon and I are focusing on The Smoky Mountain Series promotions this month, we’re offering the first book free — for the next 4 days only.
Also, if you don’t own a Kindle device, you can download a free Kindle app for any device that you use. You’ll find the download on the same page where you order the book.
If you enjoy inspirational fiction, I hope you’ll check out Private Detective Maddison Holt’s story in SET FREE TO LOVE. Click on the title to link to the product page for a description and to make your purchase.
To participate in Trent’s Weekly Smile Challenge, click on the link and get the simple instructions.
Well this week, I have two reasons to smile. One was last Thursday, and one was just this morning.
Thursday was another “Meeting Aboard the Ark” meeting that my ministry Radical About Jesus holds at our local civic center. I love these meetings because we have a great time worshiping the Lord and getting into His Word, but I especially love the meetings when people come who need much healing and help from the Lord. We had a meeting like that this time. So often, the people in need just don’t know that God wants them well and that He wants to provide all their needs. They’ve been taught that God delivers people sometimes, but sometimes He chooses not to, so they’re plagued with doubts and fears, and they’ve suffered for years.
But when they hear the Word of God and how He has poured His heart into promises to come to them and bring them the relief and the help they need — and that He has already paid for it all through Jesus’ finished work — they just open up and blossom like a flower in the sun. It’s the most amazing and joyous thing to see the change come over these people as they soak up God’s Word. Their faces light up, their eyes shine, they sit up straighter in their seats and even lean forward as if to soak it up better — because they’re learning how much God loves them and wants to help them. And they’re learning how to receive miracles from Him. Then when we come to the time to pray for them, their faith is ready to receive, and God is able to change their lives.
I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my life than carry that delivering, healing, life-giving Word to people who need it so much. So, naturally, that kind of experience can produce the biggest smiles of all.
But then there are the little things — as Trent mentioned in his own post this week. And I had one of those experiences this morning. I left the house early for a prayer meeting, and just as I was closing my car door, I glanced over at a sort of grassy area close to my azalea bushes. I saw the most amazing sight: There were hundreds of tiny sparkling gems scattered throughout the grass — in varying shades of greens, blues, and reds. I was stunned. I had never seen anything like it before, and as my gaze traveled over the rest of my yard, I saw more. The dew still on the ground was reflecting the sun’s light in those prisms of color, and it looked like my lawn had been seeded with precious sparkling gems of so many colors.
Some of you readers may have experienced that situation before, but I never have, and I was just speechless for a moment. I sat there, motionless, and suddenly my heart just swelled with gratitude that the Lord had given me that special experience. I had been having a troubled time the past couple days, for a couple different reasons — not the least of which was sadness as I come to the week that is the anniversary of losing my husband (17 years ago now) and then losing my very best friend of many years (just two years ago this week.)
So my heart was heavy this morning, and the little light display from the Lord so cheered me and made me realize how much the Lord loves beauty and how much of it He creates. He just reminded me that if He bothered to create so much beauty in little drops of dew, how much more beautiful will Heaven and the rest of eternity be. I was running much later than I should have been for the meeting, but I just had to sit there quietly and soak up that lovely experience — which made me smile a lot — and thank the Lord over and over. I did finally get to church for the prayer meeting though. 🙂
I hope all of you have had plenty to smile about this week as well.
Not everyone who follows me on this site follows my ministry site “Hangin’ Out With God.” But a whole lot of you do. For that reason, I’m posting a reminder here as well as there, so that you won’t forget to switch to our brand new site with us.
“Hangin’ Out With God” has been spreading the love of Jesus for over 8 years, and we have moved that work to our brand new site — “Radical About Jesus Ministries.” This week will be the last week “Hangin” Out” is available for public viewing. Unfortunately, I’m not sure everyone has actually realized that unless they hop over to the new website and hit the “Follow” button, they will lose all connection with that work.
I know it sounds strange to say that the readers don’t understand that point. But you know how it is: we are creatures of habit, and if we’ve been going to the same site for over 8 years, we just keep doing it and thinking, “Oh, yeah, I need to check out the new site.” Then the next time we visit the old website, we think that again — and again — and, well, you get the point.
Anyway, since we have hundreds of followers on “Hangin’ Out” and only about 5 of them have moved with us to the new site, I thought a little reminder here for those who follow both sites might be helpful. Of course, if most of those hundreds of people don’t want to follow us any longer, that’s okay, but I don’t really think that’s the case with most of them.
So, please, if you want to stay connected with the “Hangin’ Out With God” ministry, be sure to visit “Radical About Jesus Ministries” and hit “Follow” before next Monday. We really don’t want to lose you!
When there’s no textbook on love, romance can be a little tricky. But God, who’s the original Author of romance, has all the answers in His own book. And Professor Ephraim Kent is about to get an education with a higher degree than he’s ever earned before.
Purchase your own copy in paperback or digital:
The God who created the whole universe loves YOU!
My goodness, you have friends in high places!