She Did What She Could

This morning, I was feeling so discouraged…about so many things.

I felt the urging of the Lord…”Come to me, I have something to say to you.”

And so I opened up my She Reads Truth app and read the story of Mary of Bethany.

She was Lazarus’ sister…she was so upset about her brother’s death that she couldn’t even run out to meet Jesus. She was paralyzed with sorrow.  She could not even.  Have you been there?  When you can’t even rise up and face the thing that you know will bring comfort?

She was the same one who dumped out her bottle of oil and cleaned his feet with her hair and her tears.

I think maybe Mary of Bethany was a passionate woman of extremes.  I know someone like that.

It’s me.

In case you didn’t realize.

Some days, I just can’t even…and some days, I want to pour out all I am and all I have for Jesus and for the ones I love.  Some days…all I can really do is just take one step.  Maybe a half a step.  Maybe just a breath- Abba Father, I belong to you.

That was Mary.

There was a time when she was so discouraged and weary that all she could do was make that one step.  And then there was a time when she poured out all she had and subjected herself to ridicule and even rebuke for her all out, authentic, scandalous love for her Jesus.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

She did what she could.

she did what she could

What Mary could do was pour out her heart.  And when Mary’s brother died, all she could do was seek the comfort of Jesus.  And she could barely do that.

But she did what she could.

This struck me so hard.  Because I have these hard days where it seems that our problems, complications and issues are a wound tight ball of twine and there is no way to unravel it…where pain seeps into my bones and weariness covers me like a shroud.  There are days when I long for my little gal in Bulgaria to just get home already and when I feel like there is literally no way we are going to pull this thing off.

I can’t.  Some days, I just can’t.  I am too weak, too weary, too tired, too achy, too poor, too disorganized…too fill in the blank.  Too not enough…

I reach a feeble hand to Jesus and I do what I can.

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I write the words in my Bible.  I think about the poor widow her gave her one last coin.  mark-12-44

She did what she could.

Lord, help me live that way.  Help me live, doing what I can…which some days will be so much and some days be so little.  He sees me heart and He knows when I have done what I can and when I haven’t.

And the best part…in my weakness, He is so strong.

After Lazarus had died, after four days in the tomb…he met Mary and her friends and saw their grief.  He was that they were weeping and filled with sorrow.

Matthew 11:33 says this:  “he was deeply moved in His spirit and troubled.”

Was he troubled that Lazarus died?  Presumably not…He knew then as he knows now that he is the author of life.  He could easily and would easily raise Lazarus from death. I think He was moved that his loved ones were hurting and grieving.  He was feeling their pain with them and He was standing with them in it.  Sharing strength.

This is how Jesus is.  He does not promise to make everything okay…but He does  promise to not leave us alone to handle it ourselves.  Sometimes, what we can is feeble and so small…but what he can…it is always enough.

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.