Tired? Worn Out? Burned Out?

This morning our pastor spoke on God’s model for mankind to take a day of rest as He rested on the 7th day. I have to confess something. . . I haven’t been very good at that~ I tend to be a bit of a social butterfly, I must admit. I flit from one event or project to another desperately trying to keep track of what day it is and what it is I am supposed to be doing on whatever day it is.

We are all VERY different. Not everyone lives in hyperdrive. But this morning I considered something I had forgotten. God modeled a day to cease from our striving and to rest. We don’t have to push every day! We can celebrate life, celebrate God’s creation – or take a nap! I loved reading Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message translation.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 MSG

Being burned out on religion is VERY common. It is all-pervasive in our world. Religion is striving and doing and effort. Faith is trust, believing, and resting – resting in what Jesus has done for us – in His “unforced rhythms of grace.” We are unable to do what Christ has done with all our “religious effort.” God came to earth and took on humanity forsaking His deity. And He willingly endured the agonizing penalty of all our sin on our behalf. All He asks is that we trust and walk with Him.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16. 17

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

The translation I am most familiar with of the above verse is “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

You may find rest listening to the pounding of ocean waves, watching the changing colors of a sunset, or watching the movement of shadows as the sun moves across the sky. You may find it in a treasured book. The desert, the mountains or the oceans may be your happy place. But even when we can’t be there, God has asked us to take a break, to rest. I invite you to give yourself permission to practice the discipline of rest. It may not be a Sunday for you. But devote a day to abstaining from the turmoils of busyness and walk humbly with your God, and you will find rest for your soul.

Cheryl

Whatever Path You Are On

Do you ever feel as if your life has you stumbling down a confusing road with an uncertain destination and wonder where on earth you are going?! I think of times I had no clue whether to choose “path A or path B” – and which one was “God’s perfect will” anyway? The life roads we had been on before 2020 suddenly made a sharp left turn OFF the paths we had thought we were safely on. These uncertain days have created a lot of division in our world and brought many to not only a fork in the road, but a huge boulder. Everywhere we go and to everyone we speak we navigate a minefield in fear we might set off an explosion! No matter what is going on in our lives, we move forward uncertain of what lies ahead or around the next corner. And as we’ve certainly learned especially in these recent days, life can throw us unexpected curves.

I have walked a very rocky path with a dear friend for several years. Her life has been painful on many levels and her faith has been a roller coaster with many stomach-dropping loops. Through the unremitting stress exponentially increasing this last year, we have prayed and asked God for what only He can do. And the months have gone on and the battles have continued raging. Then, within 48 hours, her circumstance abruptly changed 180 degrees to the positive and she was no longer on the same path at all. That which had been so incredibly frightening for her suddenly evaporated as her situation changed overnight. Too complicated to explain, the short answer is that God had NOT forgotten her, He HAD heard her many anguished prayers, He was working on it, and He finally had all His proverbial ducks in a row and made the Great Reveal. Her longtime prayers for release were suddenly answered. And her attitude was suddenly one of great relief and joy.

As I look back at all that has gone on for such a long and painful time and remember the many times she cried out, “Where is God?” “Why isn’t He doing anything?!” I know that I too wondered where He was. I have faith and knew He heard. I KNOW He answers prayers! And I know many times the painful answer is Wait. But what a lift to my spirit it was to see how AMAZINGLY God met her need! “Coincidences of timing.” No, I don’t have faith to believe in coincidences. It was God’s miraculous provision: blessing her beyond what would be a minimum answer to her need. I was reminded of one of my favorite Bible passages, Jeremiah 29:11-13.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

JOY! I rejoice with my friend. I look back in HINDSIGHT and celebrate! Yes, He was listening, He was directing her paths, He loved her all the way through hearing every prayer and seeing all her tears.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8.

I LOVE Hindsight! Through the rearview mirror I can see clearly what God has done. I will make an effort to REMEMBER His great acts of kindness and how He has blessed by sharing with you and by recording in my journal. I can hopefully encourage others and hopefully you, on whatever twisty road you may be struggling, to TRUST Him! To believe His promises. To remember His great love for You. And to continue putting one foot in front of the other trusting He will direct your paths. He is faithful And I for one shout Hallelujah This morning!

Beauty for Ashes

When I saw this photo, I knew I would be taking my paintbrushes to it. I know some people love abstract and free-form art. But my passion is trying to recreate something real. Isn’t it funny how different we all are?! Art is VERY personal and emotional and there is no logic to it, right? But this image, this one spoke to my heart.

This painting so reminded me of the stories of our lives. All of us have closets filled with old, broken down relics from our past: moments battered, bruised, worn, and often hidden away. These snapshots make up the stories of our lives. Some painful memories have an impact on the face we show to the world. Some secrets from the dark closets of our pasts have been given power to cripple or to rule over us. It is a new day. It is a new week. The Lord IS Risen! I pray we would open those locked doors and bring those ancient pieces hidden away into the light. Painful memories of our past do not need to define us in our present.

What is a stumbling block to you? What is holding you back? What lies are you still believing? What truth have you not looked at in the light of God’s promises?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Most all of us have wounds unhealed: secrets gathering dust weighing us down, forgiveness that needs to happen. How can this old chair beaten with the abuses of time, pressure, and abuse be a beautiful frame for an old battered and likely discarded bucket? Yet when it is filled with glorious blooms and vibrant color, these discarded antiques bring hope and joy. God can make beauty for ashes And I count on Him for that!

This Monday after Easter, I pray you will trust the One who overcame the powers of darkness and death itself. Among the battered, broken down discards of our lives, I pray we would find HOPE to start this week with fresh eyes and a new perspective. JOY! Praying for a spirit of hope and FAITH for new beginnings as we head into spring, 2021

If you would enjoy a visual reminder of hope, I invite you to my Gallery where you will find any of my paintings looking like this (and more).

Masks, Spiral Notebooks, Tote bags, Coffee cups, yoga mats, throw pillow, STICKERS, LOL

Rejoice, He is Risen!

Prayers, Paintbrushes and Piano Keys!

I was wondering if I should change the name of my website to ”Prayers, Paintbrushes and Piano Keys” this week. Doesn’t it just have a ring to it? Of course I won’t change it, 🤩 but I share this with joy because like so many, I missed so much of my life this past year. This week I was invited to be at the piano a bit more often for our traditional church worship time as we slowly bring back Choir, Music! Singing! 🎶 Celebrating Jesus and celebrating life! ✨ A week from Sunday we celebrate Easter and His resurrection. This majestic celebration brings such JOY to so many as we raise our voices together in song!

I love being busy, and I wonder if you can relate —-? All has been so quiet on so many fronts for so long, but it seems it is beginning to change. Do you see it? Do you feel a frisson (I love that word!) of joy surprising you lately? There are people out walking and occasionally smiling (with teeth!), there are cars in parking lots, small groups at restaurants, and life seems to be returning to normal in some ways, at least in our communities. It is so encouraging! SPRING is BRINGING a NEW RESURRECTION this year🌻 with hope for a return to maybe a “new normal.” We hope for reconnections with family and friends, a NEW APPRECIATION for relationships, for activities, for life itself that seemed to drain away with each passing month in this last difficult year of 2020.

In this beautiful springtime, I will live my life with newfound hope. I will start by polishing my piano keys and leading people back into singing, worshiping, and making a joyful noise to the Lord. I will also pull out my paintbrushes now and again to try to capture a bit of the majesty of our Creator in our world. I will Attempt to encourage those the Lord has given me, to enjoy this spring season of life and hope.

For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. . .”” 1 Peter‬ ‭3:10-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What is YOUR Music? What have you almost forgotten this past year that you need to remember or relearn? I confess I need to relearn walking, moving, YOGA – oh my gosh- I miss yoga! There are so many things that seemed to be taken from us. But we can all take babysteps. I pray each of us would begin the process of healing by looking UP and OUT and reaching a hand to help someone up from their darkness. We also might seek to give ourselves permission to live our lives and to find JOY and WONDER in the process. Many have been lost in all that this last year has wrought, and we remember and seek to comfort those who grieve. For those of us who remain, we ask that we might celebrate the gift of life and the amazing Truth of Resurrection as we move forward one baby step at a time.

Praying blessings and a Song of Spring over you today.

I Will Lift Up My Eyes

I live in the Grand Canyon state. Most people living anywhere in the world can identify this breathtaking piece of real estate. If you are standing at the rim, you will look down and across and as many times as you may have seen it in photographs, your mind can barely grasp the awe of what lies before you. If you make the significant effort to hike down to the bottom you will most definitely be looking up, possibly seeing the same place but from an entirely different perspective. Your perpective matters.

My heart hurts over the tangles and knots of this past year. Many people we love, trust and respect are separated from us by distance or by opinion. FEAR seems to be the word of 2020/21. I propose we replace the word fear with these words:

Giving and Blessing

One of God’s greatest gifts is the gift of giving. “It is better to give than to receive.” These words are attributed to Jesus in Acts 20:35 when Paul said, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

This has been a hard concept that has taken a lifetime of learning for me! In one of the most amazing verses in the Bible God says this: “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” Malachi‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭RSV‬‬ Test me in this, God says. This is not prosperity gospel. This is God saying I have made the world to operate this way. Obey me and see if I do not bless you in return.

There were times in my life I had absolutely nothing to give but the gift of encouragement. It cost nothing other than paying attention to and investing in relationships with others. There is joy in giving our time in service to needs in our community and in obedience to His calling and nudges on our heart. And we can seek to be more intentional in ways that will bless people who are really struggling. So many are emotionally wounded and hiding behind doors and masks desperately hoping to find their real life return to them! So where we are now and in whatever place we feel confident to stand, I pray we would test God in this, and reach out to others as we are able in obedience to His direction. We cannot take any of it with us: time, talent, or treasure. Help us be blessed to be a blessing, Jesus.

Lord, we most desperately would love to see our world as you see it! Your perspective is so much higher than ours. We see through a glass darkly, as Paul says. In these days where so many of us are weary and discouraged, I pray You would help us to look UP!

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.” Psalms‬ ‭121:1-8‬ ‭RSV‬‬

So as You give to us Your protection and Your watchcare, Lord, I pray You would enable us to be wise and to seek Your leading that we might spread JOY and HOPE in these days. Help us to see as You see and love as You love. Thank You for Your grace and forgiveness, and that You reached down and offered us the incredible GIFT of YOURSELF in Jesus.

We give You this day, Lord, in Jesus’ name. AMEN