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Thursday, November 4, 2021

in-between


Does God speak to you through images? Sometimes when I'm listening to a sermon or Bible teaching, an image comes to my mind. I have notes in many random places describing these images for later illustration. But then, once the illustration is done, it's hard to put it back into words; it's more of a feeling. 

Today I will try to put this one into words, just for you. Just in case it can be an encouragement to you as the words that inspired it encouraged me. 

First of all, is it titled "Set Apart" or "Thy Kingdom Come"? Perhaps both? 

I've been thinking a lot about being "set apart." For years, "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2) has been my theme. I want my thoughts to be in agreement with Jesus, "the author and perfecter of our faith," and not my own version of wisdom (Hebrews 12:2). 

When my life felt crushing because loved ones were upset with me, I clung to Jesus. We are promised trials, tribulations, and even that the world will hate us because we are not of it anymore (John 16:33, John 15:19). So being "set apart" held a lot of hope for me. Even if people despise me, God "chose [me] out of the world" (John 15:19). He chose me. He created me in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Even more, God himself began that good work and promises to bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6)! So I can trust in His Holy Spirit to guide me in righteousness, and trust that His love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). He does not want me "weighed down with [...] the cares of this life," but living in compassion and forgiveness, like Jesus (Luke 21:34, Colossians 3:12-13).

But that's not the whole of it.

"I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." (John 17:15-18)

The kingdom of God--righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit--is within us, when we invite Jesus to be our Savior and dwell in our hearts (Romans 14:17, Luke 17:21, Ephesians 3:17). Jesus Himself taught us to pray: "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). So I envision the mission of believers to be a bridge between Heaven and earth, shining His truth and love to those around us. We're hanging out in the in-between, set apart to bring the kingdom of God into this broken world. 

"Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house." (Matthew 5:15)

And there it is, the title staring me in the face all along: "In Between."




Tuesday, October 26, 2021

new product: baby name nursery decor


New in the Etsy shop!

When I was a child, I had a very simple sign hung in my room. It had my name, written in black over a beige background, nothing fancy. But underneath it read "consecrated to God." A simple definition of my name, to be sure, but not insignificant. I saw that sign every day and pondered what it meant to be "consecrated." Even though I knew my parents hadn't labored and prayed over my name choice, I still felt special when I read that meaning.

That sense of identity is what pushed me to create this customizable sign, so the next generation can be likewise encouraged in who they are and what makes them unique. 

What message would you like your child to see every day?

 

Monday, March 1, 2021

permission to fail

 


We can learn a few (or more!) things from children.

When they have an idea, do they dissect it first? Do they seek to determine if it's worth the time and effort to create it? Mine don't. They grab that paper and eagerly scribble their creation. Sometimes it ends in a frustrated crumpled sheet thrown across the room, but does that mean trying was a mistake? "No," we tell them. "Mistakes are part of learning." But do we really believe that?

Mistakes require grace, and to accept grace, we have to admit mistakes have been made. So mistakes CAN be a beautiful thing! The sin of pride tells us that we must be perfect, we cannot mess up, because that is not who we are. We are better than that. In contrast, God's Word says "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Mistakes can humble us, reminding us of our need for God and the work of the Holy Spirit. And when we admit that need, we can finally accept His promises to move on our behalf: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).


I had an idea. It itched at the back of my brain, thinking it just might work. I'd been observing different techniques with acrylic paint and wanted to combine a few to make a piece that we could hang in our living room. Procrastination was bountiful as I avoided failure. I tested the composition on my computer first, staying in the comfortable world of graphic design. But the itch grew until I couldn't resist scratching it - and creation finally began.

Did I love my creation as it was coming together? No. But it was the act of pursuing this idea--with permission to fail--that was life-giving. Because mistakes are okay. We can try again and do things differently, or we can paint over to make something new, but they are part of learning--and learning is a good thing. 


The painting is growing on me. It might not be perfect, but neither am I. And I'm learning that's okay.



Monday, March 23, 2020

peanut butter baked oatmeal cups


Are you looking for easy breakfast ideas that go beyond dry cereal? Look no further. In our house, we like to have muffins on hand in the freezer. When the kids wake up, they can grab one and microwave it a bit, and voila! Breakfast is served, and Mom can focus on making her coffee. Or packing school lunches, except the kids aren't going to school these days ... but I digress.



Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal Cups
1 c. quick-cooking oats
2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. milk
1 stick butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare 16 standard muffin cups.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and stir well.
3. Spoon into muffin tins (I like to use an ice cream scoop), and bake for 25 minutes. Edges should be golden brown.
4. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

FREEZE OPTION:
Allow to cool completely, place in gallon bag, and freeze. We like to place one in a bowl and microwave for 30-60 seconds to thaw. They are delicious, but a little crumbly! My favorite way to enjoy them is warm, crumbled up, with a little milk in the bowl.

NOTES:
This recipe is very flexible. I've used almond milk with no problems, and I'm sure you could substitute the peanut butter for a different nut or seed butter, if necessary. You also could use one type of oats, but I like the variety of texture.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

feeling that creative itch


Two and a half years. My blog hiatus is significant. Significantly long, sure, but also because it signifies a shift in my personal focus to full-time motherhood. We added a little boy to our family not long after my last blog post, and three kids filled my plate in its own very good way.

As our kids grow in independence, margin is sneaking back into my life. I'm feeling that call to practice creativity in art-filled ways, rather than creatively parenting/cooking/child-crafting. My latest piece was done after the kids were in bed and is being used as a background for some new products in my Zazzle shop.

Previous to that was a pastel drawing of a puzzled, maybe even a little sad, Boxer dog in preparation for a Christmas gift for my Boxer-loving in-laws. You can get that drawing on an iPhone case, or a mug, also through the Zazzle shop. I would share a photo of the painting I did of their beloved dog, but unfortunately I was too excited to gift it and didn't save a picture first.

My first priority remains my children, soaking up this time with them as I know the days are fleeting. But I'm excited to get back into interests that have been simmering far back on the stove and see how changes in life affect changes in handiwork.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

the not-christmas card

[I intended to write a family update for our Christmas card at 5:45 the morning after my grandfather passed away. Instead I added tears to the quiet morning, converted this to a blog post, and am slowly realizing that life has changed and the task list will have to wait.]


It’s been a tough year, but a good year. In March, my grandma passed away and W was born. He’s been a blessing to our family, very content, and the girls dote on him.

About a month later, my great aunt passed away, and nine days after that, W had a little health scare. God was faithful in keeping us in His peace during that time (and multiple times after) and it’s all over now (we pray).

We filled our summer with visits to and from our family and friends, and other milestone events: C’s first movie, her first haircut, and our home’s first deck.

Life took another hit in October as we returned from a trip to NYC celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary, when we heard my husband’s grandpa and my grandpa were hospitalized. We prayed and asked others to join us on their behalf, and God answered. My husband’s grandpa improved and is no longer in a medical facility, while my grandpa made the decision to stop treatment, and passed away last night.

As I began to pray for these men, God was faithful to give me the impression that sometimes people don’t want to be healed, which is hard for those of us left behind, but a blessing to him who lived 93 years and was too tired to fight for more.

Soon we will gather for a funeral, the first our little family has been able to attend, and in a few weeks, we’ll gather again to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Life and death and road trips. That’s been our 2016.

Friday, February 26, 2016

reflecting amidst reflections



I could have paced in that sun-filled pool for an hour. Gliding my hands through the water, back and forth, meditating on the last 24 hours while the sun sparkled off the ripples. Solar heat warmed my skin and transported my mood to a quiet tropical respite, much unlike the gym pool in the midst of a Minnesota winter where reality found me.

I visited my grandma yesterday. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In all actuality, it meant asking my husband to work from home so he could try to juggle meetings, a three year old, and a 20 month old … did I mention the three year old was recovering from an ear infection and possibly strep? It meant missing out on restorative time with friends, hearing a great teacher, and having to defer promises made. It meant eight hours of driving round trip, to speak with someone who was unresponsive to me. It meant a lot.

My grandma has been failing with dementia since before my amazing husband came into the picture. She sometimes forgot who I was by the time my darling daughter was born. I was merely a stranger with a cute baby when she met my second daughter. Now, 36 weeks pregnant and not encouraged to travel, I was just another presence in her room.

My prayer is that my words of love and affection hit somewhere in her soul, where her addled mind can’t reach, and that she was able to feel some of what I feel for her. I wept for her. I praised God for her faith and the perfection that awaits her in heaven. I wept for all the years that dementia stole. I wept for all the years that, while mourning the loss of who she had been, I missed out on who she was at that time. Sure, she wasn’t the same Grandma I had spent so much time with, but as I looked through family photos, I saw the familiar smile that is so foreign now, at the end. Perhaps she didn’t know exactly with whom she was sharing that smile, but she was happy.

She’ll be happy again. I don’t claim to understand the workings of heaven, but I believe Grandpa went there nearly twelve years ago, and maybe they will meet again and recognize each other. Maybe their bond will still be intact, albeit in a different way. But she will be happy.

Meanwhile, I’ll be miles upon miles away, waiting for the birth of a baby boy, wondering if God will time things so I can attend her funeral, or if my brief visit is the good-bye I’ve been granted. Either way, He’s given me peace. And His grace, His peace, that can cover us so completely, is worth everything.