Stuck in “ASSUME” mode

Flowering Cactus

How stressful that email was! I didn’t understand the cryptic words or message and my initial reaction was dread. The thorns of those cactus were prickling my spirit! I felt as if I was being called into the principal’s office and we know that can never be good. I could not imagine one reason I would get a communication so vague with such a seemingly dark shadow attached. I was instantly in stress mode!

As I have lived a lot of life and learned a lot of “life’s lessons”, I knew right away I was assuming… and the worst, at that. So I did some self talk and tried to find logic in the mists of my mind. No good! So I finally did what was the best thing and I shut off my mind and prayed. I laid my concerns at the feet of the Lord.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

I soon realized I not only needed to be quiet before Him as I gave Him all my “what-ifs” but I needed to be quiet so He could speak to me. I do believe we can hear from our Lord when we ask to hear His voice. I felt Him urge my spirit, ‘Leave this with me.’ Immediately I felt my anxieties begin to ease and the wicked voices that made me imagine the worst, begin to quiet.

Within minutes of this happening I received a call from a dear friend who is also a strong believer in Jesus and I shared my experience with her. We prayed together and, not an hour later, I heard from someone who was able to clarify the cryptic message and yes, I HAD assumed something totally unrelated to reality.

I share this because this kind of challenge has happened so often in my life. Before I trusted Christ as my Savior I was doing life on my own. Something would happen and I would fall into that dark pit believing the worst and be stuck there until reality showed up. As I’ve lived life as a believer in Jesus, I’ve learned not to do that! But sometimes~ well, sometimes we just forget and get caught.

ASK HIM. ASK HIM to breathe His peace over You, to take your concerns and to manage them for you. I trust these words will encourage you when you get stuck in “assume mode”

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

…and one of my favorite “go-to” verses is – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths.”  Prov 3:5, 6

When we go it alone, we mess ourselves up, Lord. We need You. Without You we flounder and often find ourselves our own worst enemy. Help ME to remember this lesson today. I pray, in Jesus’ powerful name. AMEN!

Welcoming the Easter Lamb

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

LIVING WATER

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

SAYING GOODBYE

Saying goodbye is so terribly hard! We rarely say “goodbye” when we’re just walking out the door as I think about it. It’s more likely, “Have a good day”, or “I had a great time”, or “See you soon!” Goodbye sounds so final and serious with long term implications.

Today I attended the funeral of a lovely, sweet, much-loved friend who very unexpectedly stopped breathing one night a few weeks ago. In that moment, her stunned husband was a widow, her kids were motherless, and grand babies without a Grandma. There was no warning for this event at all and everyone was shocked and surprised. On some level, we know we’re going to die. Don’t we? But do we really think about it and what it might mean?

I’m not writing about insurance, advance directives, or going through “your stuff,” although all of the above are valuable and worth the effort. But, after sitting through the emotional time of remembering this sweet life this morning, I realize again that our time is FLEETING. You or someone you thought you can’t live without, will be gone. This is a BIG destination and one that quite possibly ought to get more of our consideration. . . Because. It matters!

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and will not be judged, but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24

After Lazarus died, Jesus went and spoke to his sister Martha. “Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”” (John 11:21-27).

“I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:6

Belief does not require effort on our part. It requires submission. It requires trust. We don’t have it all figured out, after all! Trust is bending a knee to the One who has all the answers and believing He will lead the way and guide us safely home.

The best of all is that our goodbye is NOT quite so final or serious. When we lose a believer to death, we have confidence we will see them again and in a much better place. To have someone know that you are entrusting your eternal destiny to the Only One who can do something about that, is powerfully encouraging for them. Today I said goodbye to my friend Richelle rejoicing she made it Home. No one saw this one coming and it is a great sorrow. For sure, she will be missed. But “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13. She has made it home to paradise. Goodbye, my sweet friend.

Just Who’s Running this Show, Anyway?!

No, this isn’t a political post, thank goodness! But I absolutely feel it is thought provoking and I take no credit for the inspiration. I was reading Anne Graham Lotz, “Jesus in Me” this morning. In her chapter entitled, He Equips Us, Anne shared her personal story of how the Lord has worked in her life. I truly encourage everyone to read her book. She is authentic and honest. I found many deep and moving points of inspiration in what I was reading, so I chose to spin off what I read today. I will share a small bit of my own story but with her same emphasis

An important piece of the answer to who is running this show is the never ending battle between good and evil. Satan’s forces are very apparent especially lately. So unfortunately we have to deal with the ongoing war here on earth between Satan and man influenced by the battles in “heavenly places.” The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12: For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

But over all of this and ultimately in control of the great cosmic wars of Heaven’s armies is GOD So the question is are we going to TRUST HIM or flail along trying to do this on our own; are we going to BELIEVE HIM or work with what we think we know to be true about ourselves and the world, thus limiting what He can do through us even in our fears and frailty

Many years ago my life was difficult and very different than it is now. When I first began “reinventing myself” in the new season of my life, I would pray asking God to tell me what to do. He seemed quiet. I got no sense He was going to tell me anything! However even in my sadness and loneliness, I did have incredible peace and I realized He was giving me “just enough light for the step I was on”. As time passed I learned to lean hard in prayer, to trust, and to listen for nudges from the Lord.

As Anne pointed out in her book, where we are inadequate, God is Sufficient. One of the biggest life lessons I have learned is who exactly is running the show: and it is our Heavenly Father and Lord, Jesus Christ. Several momentous life experiences came about when I listened to His still small voice whispering and nudging me in an unfamiliar direction. MY voice would say, are you kidding? His voice would sometimes be powerfully silent and sometimes would give me clear insight. I hear You, Lord. I will trust You and leave the outcome to You. And He has never failed me.

For much of my life I thought I would never be able to retire. I certainly never had a clue I would one day be at a point where I had painted well over 300 watercolors, would have a website, or would write a blog! Yet each of these circumstances were led by inspiration from the Holy Spirit who guides, directs, intercedes on our behalf and is the still, small voice we hear when we ASK Jesus to come into our lives. Coming into means bringing His spirit of forgiveness, grace, mercy and love into our everyday life – just to name a few. And when He is there with us, He changes us, empowers and comforts us. He is able to guide and direct our lives.

I am GRATEFUL for God’s incredible gift of faith to me and His gift of Himself to the world. All He asks is that we would receive His gift. Let Him run your show. Let Him guide the course of your life.

Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all you do acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Prov 3:5, 6.

There is much in our world that is alarming, creating turmoil and devastation. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

So sit, breathe and talk to Him! Give Him your worries, fears and anxiety. Lay your concerns about your paths and the forks in your road at His feet. His still quiet voice will help you to make those difficult decisions one small step at a time. And He will help all of us to manage as we navigate what has become a very different and stressful world.

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalms 46:10

Glory of the Skies

PRAYERS✨ and PAINTBRUSHES🎨

The name for my “businesstry” came to me when it occurred to me that I should give my business/ministry a name. I breathed a prayer and it came to me like a whisper from God! I nodded my head and said, Thank You, Lord. I like it! And thus Prayers and Paintbrushes was born in 2015.

Surprisingly I did a lot of commission paintings in the first 3 years I was painting but lately I’ve done more small paintings as cards to bless people I care about. I decided to use my “Desert at Dusk” painting as a featured image for my blog. It reminds me of the incredible beauty of an Arizona sunset. I thought I would change things up a bit and see how it will look. Along with this desert theme, I share a couple of my other Arizona favorites below. There are MANY more in my Arizona Dreaming Collection:

The “Prayers” part of my businesstry name originally made me smile, as I’d begin a painting saying, “Oh Lord, please don’t let me screw this up!” And amazingly, I felt He has honored my requests. I learned a long time ago to trust God in everything. He is faithful in the simple things and in the hard places. Prayer to me is spending time, having a conversation, unburdening my soul, and just giving to God what I can’t handle. Sometimes I just sit with my hands open and palms up and ask the Holy Spirit to come join me. I trust the Spirit to make sense of the jumble that is my mind and bring glory to God as I worship Him.

Prayers and Paintbrushes has brought me on a journey I never could have dreamed! It is apparent to me that this was the Lord’s plan for this season of my life. And it is a heartfelt prayer that sharing my heart is as important as sharing my art. I want my life to count for eternity hopefully impacting someone else’s heart for Jesus. Faith is a GIFT and I am grateful beyond words that I know and trust Jesus as my Savior. And I pray that for you as well.

…For the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

Praying you find HOPE and TRUST in God’s free GIFT to you of HIMSELF. What costs you nothing cost Him everything ~ and reaps you the blessings of eternity.

Praying you find PEACE in the midst of the chaos of our world by sitting at His feet and seeking His presence.

Praying you find JESUS. Just ask Him to reveal Himself to you! Ask Him to forgive you, to give you a new life, and to go before you.

And He WILL.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. The words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 7:7.

Cheryl