He’s A Good Father

Today, I am going to a birthday party.

It’s a birthday party for a sweet little girl turning three years old and this is the first birthday party she’s ever had.  Maybe the first birthday anyone has taken note of.

She was adopted from China.

I made her a little piece of art last night and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what verse of Scripture I wanted to use.

I landed on James 1:17.  Every good and perfect gift comes from above.

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Aila is a good and perfect gift.  Her smile is infectious and when she claps those sweet little hands, everyone falls to pieces.  This verse perfectly sums up who she is to her family.  This little girl is truly beloved by her parents and her sister and brothers, her extended family and her family of friends too.  She is a much prayed for, much adored little treasure.

But in her country, she was not seen as a treasure.  She was not seen as a good and perfect gift.  Aila has Down Syndrome.

And it strikes me that it is just like God to shine a light on a jewel like Aila, so that others can see her beauty…where some tried to hide her away….He would not have that.

And that makes me think about God and gifts even more…because some of the gifts He gives me, I’m not always grateful for.  Some of the things that come my way do not seem like favor.

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My first real blog post here was called Caroline and the Puddle and the gist was that we were walking our then puppy to the sound to play and jump in the water.  She saw a puddle on the way and was straining to get to it.  It was the best thing she’d ever seen, because she didn’t know that the sound was in her future.

This is me.  As I pray about our future- seminary, buying a house, adoption…I want it all right now.  Waiting is so hard.  Not knowing what is next is even harder.

And then, it dawns on me…not being in control is the hardest part.  I think this is what God wants from me. To relinquish control and to surrender in the waiting.  To trust that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.  And to trust that He is a good father and He wants good things for me.  To be still and know that He is God and to relish every day as it comes, taking notice of the good gifts all around me.

To stop wishing my life away on things that are to come.  Those things are going to come whether I love the life I’m in or not.  I might as well settle in and bask in His love.  He is always there.  He does not leave.  He gives good gifts every single day.

Tonight, I will celebrate one of those good gifts.  I will kiss Aila’s sweet cheeks and hug her parents and just be grateful with them, for the good and perfect gift that Aila is.  For the way God loves us.  He’s a good father.

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Oh How He Loves Us So

Jesus really, really loves us.

And He cares about every single thing we care about…the big and the small.

About thirteen months ago, I asked Jesus for just one thing.

“Make me a woman of the word.”

I knew I was a woman of worship.  Worship sets my soul ablaze.  I connect with Him in music, in song, in the midst of the guitars and the piano and the drums and the bass and the other singers. God’s people singing together, hands lifted, eyes closed. My friend Nicole once said- “It’s your happy place.” And it is. It’s where I feel most whole.

It’s where I feel close to His side. Drawn up like a beloved child, safe in the shelter of Abba’s wings.

How He loves me.

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I knew I was a woman of prayer.  I’ve been talking to God all day everyday for as long as I can remember.  Back when I was little and I didn’t quite understand who God was and what it meant to be His…still I prayed.  I chatted.  I gave Him a to do list and I gave Him a  wish list.  I asked Him questions.  When I was a bit older and traveling dangerous paths…I still found Him in my days, still offered Him my to do list and my wish list.  Still asked Him hard questions and even though I feared the answers…I didn’t stop asking.  I’ve worked and lived as a prayer missionary. A handful of years of prayer and worship as a vocation.  What sweet years, what an honor to live that calling for a season.  As a mother, goodness knows I’ve prayed and I pray.  Salvation, joy, peace, knowledge of Jesus over my sweet six.  As a wife I’ve prayed.  Through a hard marriage, through a divorce and now with my second marriage and for my sweet husband…the priest of our home.  I have prayed.

I’m a woman of Prayer.

And how He loves me so.

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But I was not a woman of the word.  I did not love to study the Bible, to read it…And though I tried and tried…I just couldn’t make myself a woman of the word on my own steam.

I did so many different devotionals.  I tried so many Bible plans.  But my eyes just glazed over and I just could not get there.  And I was ashamed of that.  Embarrassed by it.  Shouldn’t a lifetime, career Christian love the Bible?

And it’s not that I didn’t love it.  I cherished the word of God and loved to go to classes where someone else taught me about the Bible.  Just couldn’t get into that whole “Eat the Scroll” thing.  I didn’t crave it.  I didn’t even really want to read it.  In fact, given the choice, I’d choose “Chopped” or basically any HGTV show over Bible time.

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And I cringe even writing that because what will people think???? But I have to live as though I don’t care what people think because I just really don’t want to care about what people think.

And maybe I’m not the only one.

So.  About 13 months ago, I heard two women say these words:  “I am a woman of the Word.”  And these are two real, authentic, honest women who love Jesus with real love. And something about the way they said that stirred something in me.

I prayed, “Make me a woman of the Word.”

And I continued to doggedly try to make myself a woman of the word the same old ways.

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It didn’t work.

May became June, the summer zipped by, then the fall and the winter. Christmas came and went in a whirlwind.  It snowed way too much.

Two things happened.

1.  John accidentally bought me a journal with no lines.
2. I got the flu.

I was stuck in bed for TEN DAYS.  As a mother of any number of children will tell you, be it 1 or 10, momma in the bed for ten days is super impractical.

But God used that time for good.

He met with me there, in the quiet of my room and we communed and something happened.

I read a book called Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet and I journaled like crazy.  In color.  With a pack of pens that John got for Christmas.  And I found that I liked it. I liked all that color on the page.  I liked what the book did to my heart.  Through tears, God and  I worked through so much hurt.  (P.S.  If you have ever suffered in any way, read that book.)

I would show you a picture but I’m not entirely sure where I’ve laid that journal.

I showed John my journal and we talked about the happy “accident” of the unlined journal…so that I could write in color and all over the page.

And he showed me this:

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He had seen it on interest but it came from Here.

I was intrigued.  And I began a Pinterest search for “Bible journaling”, “Bible Doodles”, “Illustrated Faith”, “worship art”.

I learned about Valerie Wieners and her artwork.

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I learned about Shanna Noel and Illustrated Faith

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I learned about loads and loads of Mommas just like me who were loving this idea of meeting with Jesus through creativity.

And something clicked in me.

The old ways didn’t work for me because my brain doesn’t work that way.  But this new way was just what this crafty, flighty, ADD, creative brain needed.  And I was in love.

In love with the word.

And my first attempts were…well, Lila or Claire could’ve done a better job.  But I didn’t care.  This was me, the Word and God and I was having a ball.

I drew and drew and drew.  I filled a sketchbook.  I got myself a journaling Bible with plenty of space. I  began to play with paint and colored pencils and every kind of pen you can imagine.

I found out that I love watercolor paints and Micron pens.  I found that Inktense pencils are my favorite. I found out that I love drawing and painting on paper and in my Bible.  And, it got better and better.

My extremely artsy twenty something daughter told me that the work was good.  My husband (who, among many other things has an art degree) said the same.  People began to ask me to make things for them.  People began to offer me real dollars to make things for them.

And I just kept right on drawing and painting and all of that.  My Bible is getting full and I know I will need a new one soon.  I love it so much.  The great illustrations and the really awful ones…they all speak to this new love I have for the Word.

It’s such a gift.

And here is the absolute best part.

This gift came along when I was sick and in bed.  Forced into rest.  This gift progressed as the arthritis in my knee grew worse.  I was forced into rest.  This gift sustained me every day when I was forced to slow down, to be still, to rest.

Because He loves me so.

He’s given me this, this study of the Word in images and in color…He’s given me this to make those times when I must be still sweet.  He has given me, at forty two and after years of walking with Him, a new way to meet with Him.

It’s infinitely sweet.  It shows how He cherishes me and delights in me.  Because he knew how it would trouble me to have to be still.  He knew how hard it would be for me to rest.  He knew how I would absolutely loathe slowing down.

So he gave me this.  I could not draw a circle in December.  Did not know watercolors from acrylics.  But now it’s part of my everyday and I look forward to my quiet time.  I look forward to opening up the word and seeing how it will come alive today.

He’s made me a woman of the word.

See many of my Doodles here.