Winsome Words And Wet Canvases

I am a processor of things these days with winsome words and wet canvases.

I write down words in the silence of the night with the hum of a quiet house with endless tears streaming or I blare the music and sling paint and pray and process…I process within both extremes…

Tonight I sit … in the quiet hum…with tears streaming …processing the latest news and life’s most recent gut punches… it seems like there has been far too many lately for so many I love.

We embark on a new month and season soon. Just moments ago it ushered in July 1st!
The second half to a already strange year.

A calendar all of us should have probably wanted to forget in so many ways … but also treasured in so many others.

As I reflect and process that this month will also bring in a Jubilee Birthday for me, I am turning the big 50 at the end of July, I am wondering if that has me pondering so much more deeply lately …

So, please follow or forgive me …
I don’t know how to process any other way.

When life doesn’t provide the answers to things and yet some would scream – God, where are you?

Even in my processing God is there… He is thick and comforting as I learn to dwell, rest, trust, and abide, fully, in Him.

When my faith is tested and I have to trust Him for what is unseen and lean not on my own understandings ..
I don’t scream and shake my fists anymore … I simply ask —
What am I missing, Lord? What do you want to be for me in this situation? What am I to be in this situation for others?

Oh this “Life” … fragile and full,
yet, eagerly empty for some.

Boundless joys and deep gut wrenching sorrows.

A world drowning in countless counterfeits and cares or are we simply – beautifully, in over our heads?
(Thinking of the song..
It makes no difference if I sink or swim . I am beautifully in over my head)

Is that how life is to be lived?

Booze sales on the rise and I too know what it’s like to try and numb with those things .. but they can’t even come close to really numbing our pain. They just create more pain.

So, what really wraps up our pain?
Or are we suppose to feel it in all its rawness?

Why aren’t we good at simply handing it over to the only One that promises to carry our burdens and bind up our wounds?

Why aren’t we good about sharing our pain?

The yin and yang of it all.
The Light is always dancing amidst the dark. Shadows moving and rearranging. Oh’ how do we keep missing the forest amongst the trees?

Winsome … words… and wet canvases … maybe that is my newest drug of escape?
I will take it … because both take me deeper with God.

My outlets of processing… always processing it all, but life is anything but winsome (appealing) right now…or is it?

We have all been given “time” the same for all of us in a given day … and yet, do we use it well?

Do we make the most of each moment or think we can bottle it up and frantically save every last second of it or do we waste it and let it keep flying out and pass us by at warped speeds….
Or do we really have any control over any of it?

I think of the song again and think … when we are in over our heads or our place of understanding, we fight it .. we fight the rising waters …we panic and numb and try to escape the pain — but God is not calling us deeper to have us drown… that is simply not in His nature.

So, how do we view and live life differently?

Instead of saying “When it rains it pours” to surrender and say “Carry me Lord through this storm”

My natural sight is blurred and dark and fear wants to try and creep in frightening me …
but my vision, His vision, is still laser focused, full, clear and vibrant …
How can that possibly be?

Oh’ the parallels and paradigm shifts … and wonderings of it all.

What do we do to harness this “time” we have been given and not squander it?

Where are all the answers to our pain and pondering found?

A year halfway over …

A New month …
A Month of Life Moments and celebrations woven among the unknowns and uncertainties …
But as crazy as it all seems,
I am still certain of this very thing …

God can handle my questions and my cries. He can handle my worries and my weaknesses. He can handle my angst and anger …even with my gritted teeth and clenched fists at the unfairness of loss and tragedy and sickness and a world gone stark raving mad…

Because really ..
Has it gone mad? , or is this all simply still part of His Master Plan?

Oh’ I am certain… but does it sink in deep, really and fully to every part of my being when I am grieving and clinging and pondering …
That God is still good? … even when nothing looks or feels good in this moment ? …. is He still good?

My answer is still and always will be a resounding …Yes!

When I don’t see it or feel it in the natural – I know I have seen Him do it before and I know He WILL do it again!

I clench a little tighter to His promises and declare them back to Him…

Yes Lord! … Oh’ Won’t You Do It!
Again and Again And Again …
Work, Yes Work, even this,
Work it ALL out for our good.

Take me deeper Lord – it makes no difference if I sink or swim …
I am beautifully in over my head.

Carry me through the storms of life. Carry my family and my friends and everyone else that is hurting or facings unknowns …

Carry us all through the storms of this present life Lord.

— XXOO Michelle Cosby Bollom

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.
— Romans 8:28 AMP

Here is the link to the song I was referring to above 👉🏻.. https://youtu.be/qv3-TDdD1pM

Playing By The Rules

It seems children are sometimes more aware of the rules of life than adults can be.  Watch them as they play games and as they pay close attention to the rules of the game and keep others informed of the rules.  

As adults, we learn to play by some of the rules.  E.g., “Work hard, or lose your job”, or “Stay faithful, or lose your marriage,” or “Obey the law, or go to jail.”  However, adults and children can both fall victim to the lure of chaos – “No rules but mine; no law but mine.”  It is intoxicating for a time to be our own God and to watch and see how many people we can draw into our kingdom.  

However, chaos is a harsh taskmaster in the end.  Dictators and rebels make for very poor traveling companions in the final analysis.

The only alternative is to actively seek out God’s rules and ordinances for all of life. We know that they are there, but we also know that learning and applying them to our individual lives will call for strict discipline and training, and we are tempted to put off the inevitable submission to The Almighty as long as possible.

We can get away with our own life designs and devices for a time, but, inevitably, judgment day rolls around, and we are faced with the consequences of our choices.

Many times we see our self centered scenarios go up in smoke as the fire of judgment tests them for lasting qualities.

The beauty of life is when we are allowed to see the fruit of our decisions which were based in humility and the fear of the Lord.  

To realize joy and peace, to see our family and friends blessed and happy, to know that Our Heavenly Father is pleased with us—these are the building blocks of a happy life.  Learning to play by the rules is a difficult and time consuming process, but it is a precious and firm priority in kingdom living.

Ultimately, it determines not just our earthly rewards but our heavenly inheritance as well.  Let us know that God’s word stands firm: “A man will reap what he sows.”  And, “There will be eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; and wrath and anger for those who are selfish, who reject the truth and follow evil” – Romans 2:7,8.

— Brad Heilhecker

We Laid It All Down

We entered Your presence

lost and confused

At the end of ourselves

Nowhere to turn

Bound by many chains

Hurt etched on our faces

Mouths filled with pain

You asked us to trust You

To bring our baggage as 

an offering before You

It would be easier to cling 

to it…..

We didn’t

We laid it on Your altar

You had Your way…

Our deepest shame

Our deepest pain

Our open wounds

Our unhealed scars

Our shattered dreams 

We laid it down

You took it all!

Our messes

Our mistakes 

Our wilderness wanderings

Now testimonies

of Your redemption power

You alone restored our lives

In awe of You…we find our 

way to everything You have prepared us for

There was purpose in our 

trying and painful journeys

Everything is falling into place

The puzzle is almost complete 

As sons and daughters leave 

the desert behind

We give You the honour 

and glory for turning our lives around! 

— Ebigale Wilson

We Laid It All Down

The Journey

True Humility

Humility may have many faces, but one aspect of humility unique to Christianity is the revelational  knowledge that no good resides in ourselves—or in our “flesh” as the apostle Paul calls the natural man.

This is a hard truth to digest unless it is taken along with the corresponding truth that we have been declared absolutely holy and blameless in our Father’s eyes based simply on our heart’s trust and reliance on Christ’s righteousness being credited to our account.

There is great freedom in this revelation, for it means that we no longer have to prove ourselves as worthy of love or spend our lives striving to leave our “mark” on this world.  We can spend our time and energy serving Our Lord and Master, and leave this world to its own devices, for it is written that this world is under the control of the enemy of God (1 John 5:19).

Certainly, we want to leave blessings wherever we go and make disciples whenever possible, but we are not responsible for “changing the world.”

The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that eternal life (which is “knowing God” – John 17) is bestowed on those who by persistence in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality (Romans 2:7).  So, seeking glory, honor, and immortality is a good thing if done hand in hand with our submission to Christ.  “May God by his power bless every good purpose of ours and every act prompted by our faith that Jesus may be glorified in us and we may be glorified in him according to the grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” – II Thessalonians 1.

— Brad Heilhecker

Sleep

Sleep… This word has been on my mind this weekend. During this time of “unrest” and “pause” (although the pause seems to be ending), I actually had trouble sleeping at times. So much to process, so much to consider…

And yet, sleep is important to our bodies. I was reminded of this after a sleep over my girls hosted this past weekend. I remember the days of being able to stay up until 3 am… This time it affected me. I felt slow and groggy in the morning.

Sleep. We all need it. God commands us to take a day of rest. He may not slumber or sleep, but our physical bodies require it.

There are many verses about sleep. Here are a few:

Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

One of my favorites is Psalm 127:2 In vain do you get up early and put off going to bed, working hard to earn a living; for he provides for his beloved, even when they sleep.

A Promise that HE never sleeps…

Psalm 121:3-4 He will not let your foot slip —your guardian is not asleep. No, the guardian of Isra’el never slumbers or sleeps.

Do you put off going to bed? Do you get up early thinking it will “bring you wealth?” Getting up early is okay, but when we do it for the wrong reasons and with the wrong understanding about WHO is providing for us, than why rise early? The verse in Psalms tells us that HE provides even when we sleep!

I truly believe that if we are TRUSTING Him, than HE does provide! HE takes care of those who follow Him. I’m not saying, “Don’t work.” The Word of God is clear that we are not to be lazy. However, too much work is also unhealthy. Too much activity, and constantly being on the go, takes a toll on our bodies.

As we prepare to enter another Shabbat, remind yourself that YOU are important and that your body NEEDS rest. Don’t try to “plow through” another event or crazy schedule because you think you have to be a part of ALL that is out there.

The “quarantine” happened for a reason. It should show us that we don’t HAVE to participate in everything. It should show us that we can have time for “us.” You don’t have to be involved in everything around you. You need time for YOU!

Shabbat Shalom…

Enjoy some sleep!

Rose Horton

Pause In His Presence Part 10

He SHALL Continue

His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things! And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen. — Psalm 72:17-19 NKJV

Something struck me when I read this today. It stopped me in my tracks, actually. It literally MADE me pause in His presence and really take in what I was reading.

His name SHALL endure forever.

His name SHALL continue as long as the sun. Men SHALL be blessed in Him. Nations SHALL call Him blessed. This isn’t a nice statement. This is a reality.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve skipped over these verses dozens of times.  I love vulnerability, so allow me a moment of raw honesty here.  There are times when I just want the juicy verses that point directly to my situation or what I’m praying into at that moment in time. Sometimes I read over scriptures such as “…let the whole earth be filled with HIs glory…” and I think thoughts to myself such as, “Yeah, yeah…the earth will be filled with Your glory.  But where is a verse to help me with my current need?”  It’s as if my eyes don’t see what’s right there in front of them.  I’m sure we’ve all done this.  

Reading this today, however, I felt so challenged as my eyes were opened! I’m always looking for scripture to declare over my circumstances…or to bring peace…or to give me direction…and yet everything I need to know is RIGHT HERE:  His name SHALL endure forever.  His name SHALL continue as long as the sun.  Men SHALL be blessed in Him.  Nations SHALL call Him blessed.

Hebrews says that the Word is living and active, sharper than a sword and able to discern between what is Spirit and what is soul (4:12).  We need scripture.  We need every single sentence, every single word.

The Bible is alive, and in it is LIFE.

Life isn’t found in just the few scriptures that speak to us at particular moments, but in every single portion that is written.

As I stopped to pause in His presence, my heart was so encouraged to read this truth!  The reality is that regardless of what things look like in the natural, the name of the Lord shall endure forever.  Nothing can change this – not pandemics, not job loss, not fear or government or chaos or riots – nothing at all can change the fact that His name shall endure “as long as the sun.”  

The next portion of scripture says that we SHALL be blessed!  I may not feel blessed.  I may not see blessings around me, and I may not be aware yet of how the blessings will come.  Yet the promise still stands, God’s people shall be BLESSED IN HIM! And He shall be called blessed by the nations. What a promise to hold to!

The Lord only does “wondrous things.” When we fix our thoughts on that, and allow ourselves to take in the LIFE found in this small passage of scripture, we can rest assured the truth is that the Lord shall continue to BE, and we can be confident in Him no matter what swirls around us.

He SHALL endure!

— Mandy Woodhouse

Hope

Hope springs eternal in the heart of man” – Alexander Pope.

While alive, there is always reason to hope, to expect to be blessed if only we can discover the keys to Our Father’s heart.  If only we can learn his ways and imitate him, things are surely going to turn in our favor.  

In fact, it is written that our heavenly hope is the mother of our faith in Christ and of our love for all the saints (Colossians 1:4,5).   

It is also written that  our faith and our knowledge of the truth that leads to Godliness rests on the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:1,2).  Beware a man who has no hope; you will find no faith, love, or favor there.

Hope is way more than wishing.

True hope is knowing—knowing that there is a God who can be known, knowing that “He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:1,6).  Once we know this, the challenge becomes putting our full faith there and keeping it there, even as all circumstances seem to contradict our faith.  

In the beginning, this hope is but an ember; in the end, it is a flame, bringing warmth and light into our lives and the lives of all whom we love.  Hope is absolutely essential in this mortal life, for everything visible is in a state of decay.  

The only things that are growing forever are our faith, our hope, and our love.

Love is our supreme aim, and love is born when our hope is sure.

Without hope, despair sets in and brings with it fear and anxiety.

With a rock solid hope, we are set free from all earthly concerns and are lifted continually into the heavens where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (1 John 3:3; Colossians 3:1).

Only then are we released into our “works of faith, our labors of love, and our endurance inspired by our hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 1:2).  

Faith, hope, and love working together in perfect harmony, and they themselves being empowered from on high.

Together, they have all the power and purpose of God’s throne backing them. Happy is the man that learns their secrets!

— Brad Heilhecker

Faith Without Works

The apostle James wrote that “Faith without works is dead.”  And the apostle Paul is widely known for his prolific works and writings.

What was the secret of their success?  What would they have us learn from their lives and teachings?

Chiefly, the lesson is that mere mental assent is not true Biblical faith.  The faith that Jesus desires inherently contains works.  E.g:  I believe that God loves me, so I am going to love him; I believe that the Bible is the word of God, so I am going to study it;  I believe that the church contains God’s children, so I am going to be a part of it.

Jesus also emphasized good works in his parable of the talents.  The man who received a talent to steward and did not put it to work received a verdict of condemnation for his unbelief.   It was his wrong belief that convinced him that he should bury his talent instead of utilizing it so that it would produce something useful for his master.

The other group that was condemned by Jesus was the group that did not minister help to Jesus because they failed to realize that helping the needy was helping Christ himself.

So, let us be sure that the faith we profess is a living faith, an “unfeigned faith.”  When Jesus says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all of your needs will be met”, let’s believe him and seek first his kingdom in our lives.  Let’s make sure that we are well acquainted with his word, his will, and his ways.

Then, when we stand one day before him in the judgment of our lives, we will be able to say unashamedly, “I was crucified with Christ, buried with him in baptism, and I lived my life by heartfelt trust in his word and his ways.”

— Brad Heilhecker

He Healed Her Heart

She walked around the 

same mountain going 

nowhere

Went to church, but 

she was still bound

Peace; a foreign word to her

Anxiety and fear followed 

her everywhere 

Her past was etched 

on her face

Everyone she met tasted

a part of her pain

Was this the legacy she 

wanted to leave?

Going in circles nowhere

Depressed, angry, hurt..  with no hope in sight

Repeating the cycles of 

previous generations and 

never tasting peace

She longed to taste just a 

glimpse of His perfect peace

Longed for the day 

every battle in her mind 

would seize

Was there really a peace that surpasses all understanding?

Could she really go into His 

rest and dwell there?

After trying to lure her 

for years

Father came crashing on 

the scene

She did not know the 

many times 

He tried to get her attention 

She didn’t see Him

She was too busy trying 

to mend her broken heart

Fighting her own battles

While He waited to do what 

she could only dream of

She released her whole 

existence into His hands

Every heartache

Every broken part

He made something beautiful 

out of her waste places

He calmed her every storm

She is finally where she belongs

His perfect peace now her 

dwelling place

Anxiety and fear unknown 

words to her

He healed her heart

Made something beautiful out 

of her once broken life

She is so in love with her Father! 

— Ebigale Wilson

He Healed Her Heart

The Journey