I’m a long way past chocolate bunnies, Easter bonnets and white patent leather shoes – not to mention Easter baskets, or dying and hiding eggs. It’s all part of the family tradition and is/was certainly fun. It has its place in our families. But the real Easter recognizes the end of darkness and beginning of Light as Jesus overcame a brutal death on the cross on my behalf – on your behalf – and resurrected to LIFE.
Without the miracle of that first Easter morning and the resurrection of Jesus, there would be no need for the Church. This is the reason He came – to buy us back offering us His righteousness for our darkness and sin. His love for us is offered as a free gift requiring only that we receive it with gratitude: open hands and open heart to receive the forgiveness and grace only He can give. It costs you nothing. But to ignore it costs you everything
I pray you will find the Easter gift of the Lamb of God – God’s ultimate sacrifice of His Son – this Easter Sunday. Watch “The Chosen,” free on “The Chosen” app, and be blessed to watch His story unfold before your eyes. Regardless, the cost to you is only a prayer away. Even if your belief is small, it is enough! Ask Him and see if He isn’t faithful to His promises. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Praying for peace in our nation and in our world, trusting that He who gave us His story is faithful and will redeem that which is broken in His time. AMEN
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
What a POWERFUL statement the prophet Isaiah made so long ago – Forget the former things – do not dwell on the past. As our Pastor Chad Moore said, we can’t move in any direction except forward. We are only able to LIVE in the present. When we are stuck looking behind us at the “if only’s” or trying to imagine the “what ifs,” we lose sight of what actually IS going on in our lives in the present. And the Lord said He is making a way of renewal and revival for us in this time. So take hold of those words of encouragement and truth and hang on for the ride!
Happy New Year to you who took the time to stop in and connect. Thank you for that gift! And I pray a blessing of renewal over you as you begin this new year. Keep your eyes and your heart open for signs that the Lord is guiding and gifting you. His blessings come in many forms. No one is exempt from His great redeeming love and matchless grace. . .regardless of what you’ve done, where you’ve been, or what’s been done to you.
Take WING in this new month/new year and seek ways you can be blessed to be a blessing to a friend or a stranger, a family member or even a FB member. 😄 Someone needs something you have that likely costs nothing to give that may completely turn their day or even life around. Help us Lord, to be Your hands and feet in this chaotic and often discouraging world. Truth CAN be found in You and Your Word. And that is where I seek my direction.
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalms 139:9-10 NIV
“God won’t give you more than you can handle…” Odd, I can’t seem to find that verse in the Bible. I’m guessing Job would take exception to that cliche. So would Joseph. Paul certainly did. “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself…” II Corinthians 1:8 Why would God allow him to experience hurt more than he could handle? Read on. “…so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” II Corinthians 1:9 Truth? Cancer is more than you can handle. So is infidelity. So is caregiving. So is rejection. So is death and loss and grief and prodigal children and 101 other life struggles. God doesn’t expect YOU to handle it. He expects you to hand it over to HIM. He doesn’t want you relying on your strength, but on His. If we keep walking around thinking “God won’t give me more than I can handle,” we’re setting ourselves up for heavenly disappointment. Good news? He beckons for your burdens, “Cast your cares upon Me…” I Peter 5:7 You will never know relief until you do. For this hard place, I have Jesus! –courageouslivingbooks.com
I take no credit for the powerful words written above. But these words really resonated with me so I saved them. The only credit I could find appears as Courageous Living Books, so I gratefully acknowledge them for this message. When I first read this a few years back I was struck by the many cliches we tell ourselves. The writer of these words referred back to some seriously impressive heroes of the faith to point out that no, we cannot always handle what life throws at us. We were never created to be that self-sufficient. We need Jesus! He is our hope, our Rock and Redeemer. Our hope lies not in ourselves but in the God who is always waiting to carry our burdens and set our feet on solid ground. The Apostle Paul said, ”But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.” 2 Cor 4: 7, 8. We are the jars of clay, but the power to make it through comes as we reach up to God in prayer seeking His power and His presence to help us through, often one painful step at a time.
I paint a lot of paths, probably because one of my favorite Bible verses (maybe one of yours as well) comes from Proverbs 3:5, 6, 5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Thank you, King Solomon, for your wisdom that resounds through the ages. I may not know what lies in the distant future or even what decisions I may face tomorrow, but I acknowledge the One who knows all things. And it is to Him I entrust the outcome.
Lord, this world is often very hard! We are discouraged at every turn it seems. We truly want to do this life WELL and receive that powerful word from You at the end of our life, ”Well done, good and faithful Servant!”So we acknowledge we struggleand admit we wrestle with fear and uncertainty. We confess we are often faithless — but You, O Lord, are eternally faithful. We have no strength or wisdom in ourselves, but You promise not only wisdom, but your strength and power, if only we’ll ask it of You. So we ASK, Lord! Help us to REMEMBER and to RELYon You when the going gets hard.We can’t do life without You.
“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even
youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT
Every week I come to ‘this place’ asking the Lord to give me a message of encouragement, direction, and/or hope to share. I felt a strong pull on my heart many years ago to post something other than memes and political wrangling on social media. My weekly ”blog” was birthed on my Prayers and Paintbrushes Facebook page. It has been almost a year and a half that I have had an official blog on my prayersandpaintbrushes website and though one soul may read my words – or 100 – each soul is prayed over. I am retired after a lifetime of working. I never thought retirement would be a possibility and I certainly never thought I’d be writing a blog let alone being a watercolor artist with well over 300 watercolors and a website! Today I feel led to share a little bit of my story hoping it might encourage you to keep on keeping on – regardless of where you find yourself today.
At the age of 60 I was living a new chapter of my life. Recently divorced and living alone for the first time ever, I never expected to marry again. Several years later without one blind date or attempt at internet matching, I did marry again – a wonderful newly widowed gentleman I had known slightly from church and my office. At the age of 65 I was a bride! A year later I found myself unexpectedly retired and after over a year of soul-searching and even trying to find work again, with my husband’s encouragement and support, I realized it was OK for me to be retired. But I am a bit of a social butterfly and I missed the daily interaction and purpose for my days.
At the invitation of a friend to a painting party, I picked up paintbrushes and wasn’t able to put them down! That single time event became a catalyst for another new chapter in my life. in 2016, Prayers and Paintbrushes was born. I have painted commission people, pets and places and prayed with each painting that I wouldn’t screw it up! That’s where “Prayers and Paintbrushes” originated. Shortly after I began sharing my artwork on Facebook I felt the urge to point to my Source of hope and direction and my writing career began.
I share this very abbreviated story to share these thoughts with you… I am in my 70’s. Much of the world looking at my age would think my life is finished – I have nothing left to contribute. But I beg to differ. Speaking for ANYONE of ANY AGE reading these words, I remind you your life isn’t over until it’s over. Regardless where you find yourself, God can use and bless you. Seek Him! ASK HIM! Invite Him in and ask Him to show up and show off in your life! He loves you. He has a plan for you even if you cannot even begin to see it. You may have one day left of your life! Some reading this may feel that is truth. Some may have have decades left – but we can only live one day at a time REGARDLESS of how many we have left. Give that day to the One who can in all things work for good – in your life and through your life.
In a very dark time many years back, God very literally spoke this verse to me:
I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper YOU and not to harm you, plans to give you A hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart“ Jeremiah 29:11-13
Even when I could not see the reality of these words, I clung to them. I pounded on the gates of heaven and reminded God I was believing Him for these words to be true in my life. And he’s been faithful and true. CALL on Him. Come and PRAY to Him. SEEK Him with ALL your Heart. Believe Him even in your disbelief! FAITH doesn’t mean knowing – it means trusting.
What does God want of me, of you? He wants us to give our lives to Him and believe Him for the outcome.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16, 17
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6
Whether one person hears these words I write and finds our Savior, or one hundred, I lay this effort at His feet. I seek to be used by Him with or without my paintbrushes.Please comment or message me privately if you need encouragement as you live out your story✨
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.
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.