Category Archives: 2018: A Year for Hope

The Garden Spot of the Soul (AYFH wk 45)

I’m embarrassed to say that there was a time in my life (late teens-early 20’s) that I had quite a mouth on me.  No, I didn’t have a potty mouth (my mom would have literally washed my mouth out with soap  … and my perspective of God was that He was listening up there in heaven and would score me ‘negative points’ for cussing).  Instead, I had a mean mouth.  I knew how to use words to cut someone down to the quick in 3.5 seconds flat.   I was actually kind of proud of that – how skilled I could be with my words – and if you crossed me (especially in the work place) you were probably going to be on the receiving end of some pretty mean-spirited words, skillfully crafted to inflict pain and let you know (in no uncertain terms) not to mess with me again.

*sigh*

I’ve already written (see My Story category) about my abusive second marriage.  So I guess it was Mr. “T” that really helped me to understand how much words can hurt a soul.  As a result, I became a little more thoughtful about my speech.   Instead of just blurting out all the venomous words bubbling up, I learned to shut my mouth and first process my feelings/emotions … and then once I had control over my mouth (or at least thought I did), I would then try to speak my feelings.   Good practice in life, but unfortunately doesn’t accomplish much good when you’re married to an abusive sociopath.   Still, I learned some valuable lessons about the power of words during my almost 10-year marriage to him.

*sigh*

Garden Spot (rough sketch) www.puttinghopetowork.com)
Garden Spot (rough sketch) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

A single mom by age 31, my two young daughters provided me many (many) opportunities to practice managing my mouth. Countless opportunities to instill in their hearts the truth that words carry with them the power to build someone up or to tear them down … and our house rules (in my house, at least), were to speak kindly.

But it wasn’t until my 50’s that I began to study what the Bible says about the power of words.

~~~~

I’ve been working on my painting – and as I consider what the “Garden Spot of the Soul” might look like, I can’t help but imagine what the Adam and Eve might have experienced during their walks with God ‘in the cool of the day’.  (Genesis 3:8-9)

“In the beginning, God placed everything that man could use and enjoy in the Garden.  God saw to it Adam lacked nothing.  He lacked no good thing.  He was created in the image of God Himself, leaving nothing to be desired.

God furnished Adam with companionship, ability, abundance, and a kingdom.  He told Adam to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over every living creature.  Adam was the master of the Garden, and God was the master of Adam.  God’s man was free in every way!”

God designed a world in which His highest creation, mankind, would live in community with Him.   And similar to how God used His creative power to create time, space, and everything that was created (John 1:1-3), Adam was given a level of creative power in order to subdue and have dominion over a portion of God’s creation.   And the way that Adam exercised that power was through words … the very same mechanism that God used to speak the galaxies into existence.

“The Sower sows the word”   Mark 4:14

Adam’s words had power.  Power for Life and Blessing.   Power for Death and Cursing.

“He (Adam) knew no bondage until that fatal day when …

Every phase of Adam’s life came under the curse of his new god, Satan. He was driven from the Garden; abundance was no longer his to enjoy. He had to toil and sweat in order to survive. His beautiful life was overrun with thorns and thistles both in the physical world and in the spiritual world.”

And there we have it … the entrance of thorns and thistles.  They were brought into being by negative and contrary words spoken by Adam and Eve (words that don’t say what God says and don’t agree with God’s declared will), thus sowing seeds of death and cursing instead of seeds of life and blessing.

*sigh*

"Garden Spot" (work in process) www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Garden Spot” (work in process) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

 

I quickly snapped this picture to show my progress – the lighting is poor and clearly I’ve a long ways left to go.  But I’m trying to lay colors down in layers this time – to take it slow and let it evolve naturally.  Hopefully I can keep this going without having to start over again.  We’ll see. 🙂

Excerpts quoted are from the book “God’s Will Is Prosperity” by Gloria Copeland.

 

===========

All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

 

 

 

The Garden Spot of the Soul (AYFH wk 44)

I’ve been pondering some of my favorite Charles Capps quotes this week.

Speaking God's Word
Charles Capps Ministries
God's Word is Creative Power
Charles Capps Ministries

 

Of course, we all hear things from the background of our own understanding and experiences. About 20 years ago, I had a good friend who got ‘turned on’ to the Word of Faith movement.

Having grown up in a more traditional church upbringing, so much of what he said sounded … well … kind of ridiculous to me at the time.   Like the time he was practically purple with the flu, yet was declaring himself healed and well.

(errr … Buddy … you don’t LOOK healed and well to me!) 🙂

But when my granddaughter was diagnosed with an incurable condition about 8 years ago, my world got turned upside down and my more traditional and conservative religious upbringing got challenged. Big time!

Your Words Frame Your Future
Charles Capps Ministries

In the end, I set aside what I thought I knew that God said in the Bible, and starting digging and studying for myself what He actually said.   And ultimately, I made a decision.  I decided that I was going to agree with what God said instead of holding onto my own opinion of what I think He said or think He ought to have said.  And Charles Capps (and several other teachers) had a lot to do with my making that decision.

Garden Spot (rough sketch) www.puttinghopetowork.com)
Garden Spot (rough sketch) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

“The only thing some people know about the Bible is what they though they heard somebody say they thought they heard somebody say.”   ~Charles Capps

Hmmm…..

===========

All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

 

 

The Garden Spot of the Soul (AYFH wk 43)

I need to change my vocabulary.  I’ve been under some pressure lately (I bet you have too), and at the beginning, I was managing the pressure with a fair amount of grace … or at least I think I was.  By my standards I was, lol.

But over time, things can wear on a soul … right?   And without my noticing, pressure gradually deflated hope like helium in a birthday balloon gradually looses its power to lift.   I still felt hopeful – tired, and worn, but still hopeful for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

But then I started listening to myself.

Good News Translation
“A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart;
a bad person brings bad out of his treasure of bad things.
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
(Luke 6:45)

And my mouth tattled on me!

My words revealed the condition of my heart.  My words were sowing seeds of fear and worry that had begun to eat away at my confidence in the promises of God.

YIPES! 

I’ve got weeds in my garden!!

Here’s an interesting thought.  Did you know that you believe what you say more than you believe what anyone else says?  I’m serious!  Just think about it.

What you believe you speak (Luke 6:45)
What you speak you believe (Romans 10:17

I love how blogger Mel Wild of “In My Father’s House” puts it in his post entitled Who You Say I Am:  “The greatest forces set against you and me are not principalities and powers but the belief systems we hold between our ears. These include arguments and everything else that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor.10:3-5).”  (I highly encourage you to read the full post!!)

Jesus explains to us in Luke 17 that faith is like a seed.   Positive faith is a seed.  Negative faith is a seed too.   And the way you plant that seed is through your words.

 “If you had faith like a seed, you would say ….” (Luke 17:6)

Garden Spot (rough sketch) www.puttinghopetowork.com)
Garden Spot (rough sketch) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

A closer examination of my speech revealed that I’ve actually been planting seeds of fear and doubt in my heart … and those little seeds were starting to grow and choke out my hope-filled faith.

Thankfully, I know how to uproot those weeds of fear and doubt that are growing in the garden spot of my heart … and the first step is to put a guard over my mouth and not speak of the things that I fear.  Step two is to open my mouth and speak of the things desired.

If I have hope-filled faith (positive belief and expectation in the power, willingness and character of God to fulfill His promises) … like a seed (the implement by which positive or negative beliefs are planted in the garden spot of my heart/spirit) … I would say ……

Say what?

Say the thing desired. 

It sounds so simple, but there is nothing “simple” about it.   And it’s something I continually wrestle with.

“The greatest forces set against you and me are not principalities and powers but the belief systems we hold between our ears.”

Have you ever been surprised by the words that you heard coming out of your mouth?  What did you do about it?

===========

All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

The Garden Spot of the Soul (AYFH wk 42)

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

~”Beautiful Things”, Gungor

Good news!  I’ve officially wrapped up my testimony!  Hurray!!!!  I never intended to share it in the way I did, nor did I think doing so would impact others (let alone myself) the way it did.  God is so kind, and so faithful!  If we will allow Him, He truly will take our very worst experiences – even those things we are most ashamed of – and rework them into something that is beautiful.

So now what?

The end of last year, I was actually considering shutting down this blog.  After all, I’d not been writing regularly throughout 2016 or 2017, and as a result there wasn’t much of a readership.  And of course, there is really nothing particularly special about me that people should want to read my ramblings :).  So I asked the Lord if I should (could) shut it down.  He simply replied “I didn’t instruct you to do that.”  Hmm.

So that resulted in my committing to write one (1) post weekly throughout 2018.  This is post 42!  Time flies, but there are still 10 weeks left.  Hmm.

“The sower (farmer) sows the Word.”  Mark 4:14

"Word Seed"  www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Word Seed” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

I think the best things to write about come from our own life stories – either what’s currently happening in our lives (i.e. what we’re learning or trying to learn) or from our past (what we’ve experienced and hopefully learned something from).

 

HOPE:  desire
accompanied
by confident expectation

 

I’m currently refreshing on the importance of speaking HOPE-filled words.

“As for Me”, says the LORD, “this is my covenant with them:

“My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants descendants” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”  ~Isaiah 59:21

Garden Spot (rough sketch) www.puttinghopetowork.com)
Garden Spot (rough sketch) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

These Scriptures and others are what inspired the above sketch. Now for the hard part -to paint it!  You all know that I’m only a beginner, so it will be interesting to see how closely the finished piece resembles the sketching.  Time will tell 🙂

I hope you’ll join me as I allow the Lord to remind me what He has to say about the words that I allow to come out of my mouth.   And I’ll share updates to the artwork as it evolves.

powerofwords

PS – From this point on, I’m going to try to keep my posts short (err … shorter). I promise 🙂

===========

All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

 

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 41)

I love honesty … well, I mostly love honesty … sort of.    Let me rephrase that:  I really dislike being lied to (I’ve had plenty enough of that in my life), and therefore if given a choice, I would prefer honest information (even if unpleasant) over a misrepresentation of facts or worse yet, a flat out lie.   It’s a pretty good bet that you feel the same way too, right?

That’s why I’m so grateful that one of my readers (who is quickly becoming a precious friend) spoke honestly with me about her reaction to last week’s post.    Of course, I knew what I was intending to say in last week’s post, but when you’re limited to just the 26 characters of the English language (no facial expressions, no inflections of the voice, no reaching across the table to touch a hand) not everything written is heard the way you intended it to be heard.  Add to that the fact that we all hear information from the background of our own understanding (influenced by our history and experiences), and it’s totally understandable how she heard judgement in my words.  The kind of judgement that says ‘if you still struggle with this-that-the other, then you’re not a very good Christian’.

If that were the case, I’m not a very good Christian either!

Sadly, I think that’s how many of us approach FAITH. We have knowledge of and are in agreement with what the Bible says, but when it comes to putting our trust (either emotionally, spiritually, or physically) in what we say we know and believe … well, if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, maybe we don’t actually believe all that we say we believe. The Bible calls this “unbelief”..

Friends, I’ve experienced many victories during my walk with God, and it’s from lessons learned in the battle trenches warring for those victories that I tend to write. But believe you me … I’m no superwoman Christian.   I still have nightmares from time to time, and like every body else on the planet, I’ve still got junk in the trunk.  I wish I didn’t, and I try to keep it minimal, but I’ve reconciled to the fact that this side of heaven, I’m gonna have junk.

"Of Dreams and Nightmares"  www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Of Dreams and Nightmares” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

Oh, and lets not forget about “unbelief”.  Yup, I’ve got that too.   Just yesterday, I caught myself wanting to tell the Lord how alone I felt in a certain challenge I’m dealing with.  How I feared that maybe I’d misheard Him (or just acted on my own wisdom instead of listening to the voice of Wisdom) and had instead taken a long walk off a short pier.  That instead of walking boldly in faith, I felt the hesitation in my steps, as though I was anticipating the whoosh of kerplop at any moment.

Does all this truthfulness change the way God thinks of me?  Is He surprised by my “junk” and “unbelief”?   Does it disqualify me? Does your junk disqualify you?

Nope!

I’m not a Bible scholar and I don’t claim to be a teacher, so if what I’m about to say offends you or your belief about who God is and what He expects from those who would claim to Christ-followers, then please just let it go in one ear and out the other.  This is just my own personal conviction, born out of many long walks and talks with Jesus, and what I understand from Scripture.

I don’t believe God is all that terribly surprised that I’ve got junk in the trunk.  Still.  Even after all these years of walking with Him, I’m still hauling around a big old trunk of junk.

And unbelief?  Well, there was a time when I used to get hung up on the fact that I didn’t have everything all figured out … that my mountaintop experiences didn’t last forever, and that sooner or later I’d once again be dragging my feet down in some nasty old valley again, wondering where God was and why He hasn’t rescued me yet.  Maybe it’s maturity.  Maybe it’s just fatigue.  But now, when I’m feeling “wobbly” of spirit (wrestling with fear, doubt, and unbelief), I no longer worry about how much I’m disappointing God by not being the Super Christian that I wish I were (or that religion says I ought to be).  Instead, I imagine myself as a small child needing to crawl up on Daddy’s lap and be reminded again how “big and strong He is”, how “un-wavering His love”, how “faithful His Word”.  And like any Good Daddy, He doesn’t chide me for temporarily forgetting all those things … He simply re-affirms His Character as revealed in His Word, and reminds me that my identity is rooted in Him, as His Beloved.

On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
~God of the Hills and Valleys, Tauren Wells

That’s what happened yesterday.  I was tempted to give in to the voice of fear and doubt.  I was tempted to speak failure over my circumstance.  I was tempted … but thankfully I caught myself and instead I opened my mouth and spoke of His faithfulness to me over the years.  I reminded myself of His Promises to me, and that He has never once left me uncovered or in need.  I sang a worship song and praised Him for who He is.

And while the heavens didn’t part, nor did chocolate dollar bills fall from the sky, I did experience (once again) that my confidence in God (faith) overruled my confidence in the enemy (fear), and peace returned.

So if you’ve somehow gotten the impression that just because I blog about my faith, and a few people read what I write, that I am soon to be on the cover of Church-Lady Magazine …. sorry to disappoint!

I’m just a broken vessel, restored but still with a few dings and scratches (they add “character”),  sharing from my own spiritual journey of faith.

If you’re ok with that, come on back next week.  I’ve sketch out out a new piece and I can hardly wait to show it to you.

 

PS-in case you’re wondering, the Lord asked my friend to consider all that she’d read in my blog posts to date, and what she knew of me from our one-on-one conversations, and compare that to what the enemy was whispering in her ear. She had resolved the discrepancy on her own before we met up for coffee last week, but it was lovely to be able to talk it through face-to-face (and heart-to-heart). God also used it as a teaching opportunity for me, reminding me that as the blog has gained in popularity (PRAISE GOD!) I am now writing primarily to people who don’t know me and therefore I must be more thoughtful about my choice of wording so that His Character is upheld in my writings.

 

=====

All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.