Flax, Wool and Scarlet Dresses

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:29

When my girls were little, I loved sewing matching outfits, accessorized by the perfect hats, gloves and shoes to compliment with the beautiful family God had blessed us with. I “perceived” the merchandise to coordinate my son with his sisters to make worthwhile purchases. When company is coming to dinner, I plan the theme, choose my menu and travel to far grocery stores that so my meal lacks nothing. I work with my strong hands to create the perfect accessories for a hospitable table scape. At Christmas, holiday slipcovers and new quilts adorn each room. 100 homemade ornaments and handmade gifts are a must! It’s not uncommon for my lamp to burn throughout the night, during idle-free busy seasons. In leaner times I willingly worked with my hands, crafting away items to sell, using my God-given talents in a way to bless my husband and family. I also want to use these abilities to bless the needy and poor. Yes, as any good Christian wife and mom, I want God to be glorified by the Proverbs 31 women I so desired (and still desire) to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read the books and know she’s not just one woman, rather a metaphor of wisdom. I realize that she sounds intimidating and I wouldn’t be able to do all she did all the time, but I truly desired to emulate this picture of womanhood. BUT God, being rich in mercy, blessed me with big picture teaching. It uncovered sin and wrong motive and misguided pressures, idols of my heart and where my imitation of her has gone wrong. Hebrew 6:11-12 encourages our imitation And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” And so does 3 john 11“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good, whoever does good is from God”

Sometimes the very things that I try so hard to emulate in this woman, causes me to miss the very reason God included this in His Holy Scripture. When I see her willing, hard work, her humility, her fear of the Lord and her generosity, I should notice that she is not doing these things out of duty! Duty fails, duty falls short, and duty puts false expectations on my family and myself. Duty compares and we become overwhelmed by our inadequacy. When she opens her mouth, kindness is on her tongue: not the snap of orders or the sobs from exhaustion.

If Proverbs 31:10-31 is about wisdom, we should take a closer look at 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Wisdom should cause me to worship Jesus! Nothing else! I don’t need to “do” anything! Make, buy, sell or grow anything.

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Jesus is my wisdom; I want to look more like Jesus!

As I accept God’s invitation to serve Him, my family and others are the recipient of my serving. By rising early to sit at His feet, I begin my day growing more in love with Him, which causes my heart to love others more. When I am motivated by grace, humbled by my sin and my inadequacy, my joy-filled service continues. All this should cause draw me to Jesus. Every craft I create, every seam I sew, every gift I give, each table I set, every card I designs brings Him glory. I no longer use crafting as self-gratification, or a way to look like “her”, but an overflow of Jesus transforming work on my heart that serves and gives and creates for His glorious fame.

I could just go on and on, but company’s coming and I have seashells that need to be glued on some doorknobs!

 

Chocolate Bunnies and Joyful Easter

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There can be a lot of controversy among Christian about how much the bunny has destroyed Easter, (or Santa, Christmas) I’ve warred within my own mind how much do I represent Jesus when I set up my Easter table or when I shop for a new dress. Our tradition to get chicks and ducks, and the favorite egg hunt with the cash and candy filled eggs.

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Christ lets us share in the glory and grace of his resurrection. Easter is about opening our hearts, minds and souls to celebrate the new life of Christ’s resurrection that has been given to us. Have I lost “the” story in the middle of the celebration? But then it dawns on me: Easter cannot be destroyed because it’s the very victory over destruction!

IMG_6031The Easter story from four Gospels: Jesus was arrested, beaten beyond imagination, and hung on a cross to die. His resurrection a few days later, according to our faith, means that God has made good on His promise to restore a broken world. 1 Cor. 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain”.

I desperately desire not to lose the entire purpose of this glorious day. But does this mean I need to avoid anything that takes the focus off Jesus? Yes! Then does this mean I can’t enjoy some of the family traditions and fun decorations? Of course not!

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It’s just like the enemy to twist and destroy and use and abuse all that Spring gives us to reflect on the gospel in the Easter season. He makes us hyper sensitive and we miss enjoying beautiful common graces and evidence of this season that point us to Him. I remember a Sunday school teacher in the 2nd grade who told us “just like a hard shell of an Easter egg contained new life, so the tomb of Jesus contained his resurrection body.” She explained the hard-boiled egg is one of the seven symbols set out on the Seder plate and the similarities of Easter and Passover. Over and over I’ve heard stories and seen the gospel, and hope, and life springing from the dead of winter to enjoy Jesus even greater!

 Life is springing up from the ground! And though every Sunday is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, this time of year provides the overflowing opportunity to give our focus and attention to the resurrection that empowers our Christian life.IMG_6036

So, as I set my table with many of the fun Easter décor I’ve collected over these years. As we stuff eggs and prepare for friends to come share this celebratory meal, I am more deeply in awe of a God who made a way for me to live in newness of life! My prayer is that we will enjoy all the hope and newness and chocolate and gospel conversation and laughter that brings hope….Jesus!IMG_6047

 

The Master Crafter

 

Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord’s contribution…And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill …” Exodus 35:24-26

IMG_5979What is stirring at your heart today, crafting gals? What is the motivation behind this project you are diligently working on? Are you creating for your family? Donating to the church or making gift? Are you taking some much-needed respite? Who is being blessed by your skillful endeavors?

God is the Master Crafter and has created us in His image. (Gen. 1:27) So, creating and crafting is a beautiful way we reflect the Creator. He delights in the skills of your hands. He made you and gifted you as Artisans. He gave you the gift of enjoying your creative bent and He delights in the enjoyment you get from every stitch or brush stoke or clay pot or whichever medium you choose. Ecc. 3:13 even says we can “take pleasure in all (our) toil—this is God’s gift to man. And, from those whose hearts are generous He uses those skills to bless His kingdom work. (vs. 5)

Not everything we make needs to have some lofty spiritual purpose, but it should cause us to delight more in Him. It should bless our hearts and those around us. Its missional purpose may be rocking your baby wrapped in the hand crochet blanket. Or your daughter learning to paint a flower that leads to conversation about the Maker of flowers. It may be the scrapbook page that tells the story of your family and His legacy and saving grace. It may only look like a simple quilt, but the recipient sees a glimpse of the greater Gift Giver behind your gift.

Are you a skillful woman? Are you ready to see how God will use your skill for His Glory? God has given us things to be busy with; to be joyful and do good…and he even says “there is a time to sew!”

A few Falls ago, my sweet husband encouraged me to get my creative space organized.  He gave me a budget and several trips to IKEA. I purged a lot! I narrowed the supplies to some of my top favorite mediums and crafts; painting, sewing & card making, along with some of the supplies I use to make gifts.A few pieces of furniture that I loved and couldn’t part with but didn’t work in this house were re-purposed for each “station”.

I framed some of my antique buttons and the ones I picked up on a trip to New York at Mood.  There are four dress patterns that belonged to my grandmother from the 1950’s that I put in dollar store frames mounted on pretty scrap booking paper. The Wrapping Station is a great place to keep my supplies for gift wrapping available, because like most creative people, I’m usually rushing to finish! (and I love a wrapped gift with a beautiful bow!) When I am creating, this space doesn’t look like this, in fact, after seeing these pictures my heart is stirring to use my creative skills!FullSizeRender (4)

 

 

Faithful

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations”. Deuteronomy. 7:9

Our family is taking up three rows in the church we are visiting today. It’s a good thing a few are in the nursery and Blake doesn’t need I seat. As a mom, I must admit I’m beaming with pride at that bearded boy standing there leading worship. But how is it possible that there’s so much grey in it! These last few years have been hard and promising; I’m blessed by how he’s matured and grown! School pressures, money stresses, broken down vehicles, five precious baby girls, a wife to love as Christ loves… I can not bear the prospect of him moving his family away, but so far, it will either be another disappointing “no” or the next chapter. I pray for him to lead his family well and wish I could relieve some of his load.

My heart smiles as I see my beautiful 20 year old adding her violin to their small worship team. She does it each week at our own church, but today she seems extra vulnerable. This has been a hard year. This week brought tears from the death of a dream. Her semester schedule is filled with tough classes and ministry opportunities. I wish she could know what a true gift she is to us and those she serves. If she could understood how hard it will be to send her to Africa for eight weeks and the faith that God is building in my own heart as i walk with her through her struggles and trials.  All that God has in store for her seems allusive right now.  I pray that her identity be rooted in Jesus, but  I’d much rather be bearing these weights for her.IMG_5960

My sweet pre teen grand-daughter is up there too, adding her voice to the harmonies. She looks so grown up at just 12. So much like her mom on that day I first saw her, the day my son first caught site of his future bride. She is spreading wings and sometimes knocking down others in her quest to be grown up.  I pray for her passion for Jesus, I hope it will grow and ignite her heart with a desire to love others.

My thoughts are heavy with praise and excitement, and blessings and humility, ladened with anxious thoughts. I see my mom and dad sitting here. The pride in their posture, yet I know there are things on their hearts that weigh heavy too. I pray for them, I want to assure them that they will live to see some of the decades of faithful praying come to fruition and I want to take this heavy load from them.

This life, my family, the struggles and disappointments are really and truly heavy right now.  Not heavy like death or terminal health stuff, but nevertheless, heavy.  Really weighty, heart heavy stuff. There have been tears and late nights.  Exposed sin and defeat and setbacks and obstacles! Little rest and restless sleep. It has been a struggle to “not worry or be anxious“. Weariness that comes from “casting our cares” and the  “armor” I’m wearing just seems to be too hard to even “put on” some days.  In the day to day battles my thoughts become overwhelmed and I can so easily “throw away my confidence“, all I can do is pray! And in the same chapter He tells us to “pray without ceasing”  He goes on to say, “He who calls you is faithful”. (1 Thessalonians 5: 17, 24)

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Blake begins preaching and I’m startled back from my worried thoughts!  He’s preaching on God’s unconditional faithfulness out of 2 Timothy, “The saying is trustworthy…if we are faithless, He remains faithful”! And this is when it dawns on my heart: God is being faithful. He’s showing Himself to be faithful in these afflictions we are walking through. He’s growing the faith in my heart and hearts of my family. I do not need to protect the ones I love: -the hearts of the children He’s given me to shepherd, the parents who pointed me to Him; -from their faithful Father!  I don’t need to lighten their load— and as much as I love each of these precious ones, He loves them more! In fact he loves them so much that in these afflictions He’s teaching each of us to “rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:9  So tonight I’m putting down the idol god; me, and rejoicing the God I know ; El HaNe’ eman; the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations”

 

Hidden

When I decided to start a blog, or WebSite as it were to my less-than-tech- savvy self, it was all about beautiful things.  Beautiful stories, beautiful designs, beautiful art, His beautiful Word.  A place to document the evidence of grace in my life while living in a  broken world. Yes, in my mind it would look like the cooking channels’ Unique Sweets. I love the vivid images on that show! Its brightness makes me happy.  It would be a happy place like my Pinterest boards; but personal, His story working out in my life, the work He’s doing in our family, exciting evidence of grace to us.  A journal of sorts, where my  hope is that my children and grandchildren would see Jesus through my eyes. A scrapbook of sorts, without all the scrap.

But God being rich in mercy, and because He likes to mess with my best ideas, laid it on my heart, “show your closet, first thing”. Before any beautiful things?  I really wrestled through these thoughts. My closet is off limits to all, it is the place I can just hide everything, never memorialize it.  I do want to be completely transparent, but not my closet…Closet BEFORE…however, in an effort to let my light shine; the good and the bad, I needed to post on the “interweb” where anyone can see, my hidden mess.

I then took this as a chance to examine this mess, sort it out, clear out the clutter, paint it to match the bedroom, and make it an enjoyable spot to visit.  Every day I am faced with similar scenarios  with my life.  God reveals some hidden sin, weakness or clutter that is causing  my heart to be troubled and anxious.  Sometimes its even an area I’m so used to that I don’t even notice it.  Sometimes this “clutter” causes so much wasted time, chaos and anxiety, that I miss the treasured moments of the day.

As I cleaned out my drawers, I found my grandmothers brooches. These women were Godly ladies who left a beautiful legacy in our family.  Now I can “see” them daily and reflect on His beautiful story lived through their lives and reminding me of my hidden life in Christ.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3

Captivated

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”~ Philippians 3:12

Christ has made me His own!

“Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand own Him,
Joyful choose the better part.

Chorus: Captivated by His beauty,
Worthy tribute haste to bring.
Let His peerless worth constrain thee,
Crown Him now unrivaled King.

What can strip the seeming beauty,
From the idols of the earth?
Not a sense of right or duty,
But the sight of peerless worth.

‘Tis that look that melted Peter,
’Tis that face that Stephen saw,
‘Tis that heart that wept with Mary,
Can alone from idols draw.”

©2010 Joel Littlepage Music

What is captivating my heart today? What am I finding to be the better part? In a crazy scheduled day, is my heart captured? Am I shaken because my “duty” to focus on Him, grab a quiet time, and spend a few moments in His word, has been stolen? Or, am I missing the sweetest of time I long to spend with the lover of my soul?

Jesus, captivate my schedule to reflect my choice of the better part. Draw me from the idols of the world; even to good gifts that I can so easily turn my affections away from you.