Tag Archives: inspiration

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?

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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 🙂

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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.

 

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 20)

It’s not something I think much about anymore, but in recent weeks the Lord has brought to my remembrance the great tragedy that was my second marriage. Take courage, male readers – this is not a post trashing the male species. Rather, this post is a reflection upon my own brokenness at the time. For sure, my ex was a terrible person (ever see the movie “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”? Yea, it was a lot like that). But had I not already been such a walking-talking-emotional-and-spiritual-train-wreck, I would not have been such easy prey.

In fact, I remember saying something along those lines to my sister years after my divorce. Oh, she was so made at me!… because she witnessed all of what he had done first hand, and most siblings would, she hated him for the way he mistreated me and our children. To her ears, my acknowledging I had some part to play in the insanity that took place was akin to giving him a pardon. No so. But we all have to own our stuff, and I brought stuff to the table too.

This is not an easy subject, nor a pleasant remembrance for me. I’d much rather stay focused on HOPE and FAITH and maintaining a positive outlook even in the mist of difficulties. But I am feeling prompted to reveal a little more of my story – in a more complete way than I have in the past via little bits and pieces.

“You said, ‘Now shalt thou see what I will do,’” she answered, and then, looking at him reproachfully, added, “But I never dreamed you would do anything like this! Lead me to an impassable precipice up which nothing can go but deer and goats, when I’m no more like a deer or goat than is a jellyfish. It’s too-it’s too-“ She fumbled for words, and then burst out laughing. “Why, it’s too preposterously absurd! It’s crazy! Whatever will you do next?”

The Shepherd laughed too. “I love doing preposterous things,” he replied. “Why, I don’t know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength, and fear into faith, and that which has been marred into perfection. If there is one thing more than another which I should enjoy doing at this moment is turning a jellyfish into a mountain goat. That’s my special work,” he added with the light of great joy in his face. “Transforming things – to take Much-Afraid, for instance and to transform her into-“ He broke off and then went on laughingly. “Well, we shall she later on what she finds herself transformed into.”

It was a really extraordinary scene. In the place where just a little while before all had been fear and despair were the Shepherd and Much-Afraid, sitting on the rocks at the food of the impassible precipice, laughing together as though at the greatest joke in the world.”

Hinds Feet on High Places, Hanna Hurnard

My story – and transformation – from a wounded young girl trying to survive a dysfunctional and abusive home, to a young woman looking for love and acceptance in the arms of all the wrong men, to a young wife-turned-single parent desperately trying to rebuild a life, to today. Wow. As I write that, I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to tackle all this. It really is the material for a book or a movie 😊. But that’s not my objective! I just want to share enough of my story so as to encourage others who might be on a similar journey, and I want to give praise and honor to my BIG GOD who transformed me from Jellyfish to Mountain Goat, and from complete brokenness to a woman who learned to Swing Again!

Hope you come back next week to take the journey of remembrance with me.

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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.

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 19)

As mentioned in my last post, I recently attended a women’s event at my church.  Shayla McCormick of Coastal Community Church was our guest speaker.  On Day 2, still gleaning from the story of Gideon, she shared that she often feels both overwhelmed and underqualified to do the thing(s) that God has called her to do.  I totally relate to that, and I’m sure you can too.

We hear the whisper of God prompting us to do something new.  Something totally out of the character with our usual way of acting or reacting. Something brave and daring and exciting.  And while our spirit may be quick to say “Yes, Lord.  If you say so”, our awareness of our own shortcomings (with fear along for the ride) speaks up and says “Uh, Lord … I think you have forgotten who you’re talking to.  The person you probably want for this job lives three doors down to the left.”

Right?

Which is probably why this particular bullet point really caught my attention … as well as my imagination.

Building up strength requires exertion of strength.”  ~Shayla McCormick

Or as I rephrased it in my notebook:  You won’t experience your victory until you step up to bat.

And that got me thinking, and as usually happens, one thought leads to another.

We know from Judges, chapter 6, that Gideon was called by God, from his hideout in a winepress, to rise up and lead the Israelites in battle.

cropped-gravitar-image.jpgSpaghetti Thought #1: The fact that Gideon was threshing wheat reminds me that the promise of Deuteronomy 28:12 is that He will “bless the work of my hands”.  Therefore, my hands are required to actually be doing something practical in order to be blessed.   To state the obvious, wheat can’t get threshed until someone first puts in the work to plant the seed, and later harvest the crop.  And last time I checked, if no one goes fishing, no one eats fish.  But a garden hoe doesn’t catch fish, nor will a fishing pole till the ground.  So if I want to enjoy the reward, I had better be putting in the work and using the right tools for the job.

Mighty WarriorSpaghetti Thought #2: When Gideon went into battle, he would of course be wearing armor.  You and I need to wear armor too, spiritual armor, every day.   And in the same way that Nehemiah counseled the Israelites to rebuild the wall with a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other, we greatly increase our success when we are not only busy doing the work, but are also wearing the Armor of God to keep us protected (offensively and defensively) from that rascally old devil who is always trying to steel, kill and destroy God’s plan for our lives.

“From then on half of my men worked and half stood guard, wearing coats of armor and armed with spears, shields, and bows. And our leaders gave their full support to the people who were rebuilding the wall. Even those who carried building materials worked with one hand and kept a weapon in the other, and everyone who was building kept a sword strapped to their waist. The man who was to sound the alarm on the bugle stayed with me.”   Nehemiah 4:16-18 (GNB)

But it’s not the image of Miss Hope wearing the Armor of God while tending her fields with rake and wheel barrel that stirred in my imagination that day.  It was the thought of her with a baseball bat.

 

Take A Swing, PuttingHopeToWork.com
“Take A Swing!”  http://www.puttinghoptowork.com

 

Spaghetti Thought #3:  Sometimes you just have to “take a swing“.

Life can be hard sometimes.  Disappointments will come.  My heart will hurt.  But no matter how hard the fall (be it of my own doing, or from circumstances completely outside my control), because of Jesus Christ, I don’t have to stay down.  I can be washed clean of the gunk all over my face and clothing.  I can return to the well of HOPE for refreshment when I’m weary of spirit.  I can release my pain into the care of Jesus and instead choose to forgive.  I can, in His strength, get back up and take another swing.

And another!

And another, and another, and another, and another!!!

Friend, what is your faith swinging for today?  Healing?  Finances?  A new job?  A spouse?  Deliverance from an addiction?

Remember that “building up strength requires exertion of strength”, so exert those spiritual muscles and take another swing!

And keep on swinging until you get your victory!!

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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.

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 18)

She slowly walks up to the front of the room, smiling as she moves past the familiar and unfamiliar faces monitoring her progress. She tries to steady her breathing. Everything rides on this, her entire future! As she turns, the room quiets and all eyes are on her. She silently prays her voice to calm, and then she begins to deliver the most important speech of her 18 year life.

I should know better, for I have been here -in this place- countless times before. Dreaming, pursuing, preparing, envisioning my success.

• The powerful delivery of a presentation or speech
• Hitting my weight loss goal
• Landing that promotion
• Winning back territory from the enemy
• Making the final payment on an old debt
• Arriving at a place of financial security
• Residence in ‘the land overflowing with milk and honey’

At the beginning of the process … the dreaming, pursuing and preparing part … enthusiasm is high. My imagination soars with visions of what life will be like when ______. And usually, if I really pause to examine my thought life, there is an undertone or underlying theme in my visions of victory and success: “Then I’ll be able to rest for a bit.”

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me!” ― Jim Henson (The Labyrinth)

And yet time and time again, even though I know full well it’s not true – I continue to set myself up for the inevitable disappointment that will be when reality smacks me in the face and I’m reminded once again that there is always going to be another presentation, another goal, another challenge, … another mountain/valley/ocean to cross over!

Can anyone else relate?

Admittedly, I was in a bit of a funk the end of last year. There was a lot of change taking place in my day-job, and it was quite stressful. And so I did what I always do … or what eventually I always do. I took my battle-weary heart to the Lord, and received HOPE from Him that 2018 would be a year of favor and blessing. That’s why this particular blog series is entitled “2018: A Year For Hope” … because I knew He was instructing me to keep blogging, and I needed a reminder (and anchor) for the HOPE that He had given me in December.

“I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.” ~Psalm 32:8 (The Passion Translation)

In January I spread my wings and took flight on this series, I even began painting again. I had gained a little altitude in February. I soared for a little while in March, until I hit the turbulent winds of April. Some personal disappointments got the better of me and I lost altitude.

Sounds rather like a recurring theme for me, doesn’t it?

Rest and Refresh! Hope! Vision! Expectation! Fearlessness! Boldness! Persistence! Fatigue! Wobbly-ness! (repeat)

And as I’ve been making my way back to the starting place these last 2 weeks, I asked myself “What in the world makes you think life is going to be gumdrops and lollypops when ___ happens! You should know better!”

Sometimes I write my blog posts for you – to encourage you like we were friends sitting across from each other over coffee.

But most times, my write blog posts are for me – something I’m working through and/or need to be reminded of. Yup, I’m a HOPE-filled blogger in desperate need for another shot of HOPE!

And today, the encouragement I’m clinging to comes from the women’s event I attended at my church this past weekend. Through the story of Gideon, our lead Pastor’s wife and guest speaker shared a one-liner that really resonates with me.
“God wants us to be Brave so that He can write our stories.” ~Ginelle Payne

Hebrews 6:19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Oh yes, that’s right Lord. My story is still being written, by You!

And there is no finish line this side of heaven (because I have an enemy who is always sabotaging me by moving flags and markers, setting traps, etc), and so it is a waste of energy to pine for the day when I can ‘put my feet up and rest a bit’.

Instead, I need to keep coming back (hourly if necessary) to the starting place of Rest & Refreshment so that You can revive my Hope, give me Vision, build my Expectation, make me Fearless, increase my Boldness, with greater Persistence! And when fatigue comes, I would do well to return to the starting place A.S.A.P. rather than waiting for wobbly-ness to set in. (I tend to get into trouble by making poor decisions when I’m wobbly.)

Regarding that enemy – the one who is always sneaking around to steal the Word from me, kill my dreams, and utterly destroy God’s plan for my life? In the words of Jim Henson … let me loudly declare this!

You have no power over me!


I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside. Come back next week (ish) to watch the word-picture emerge.
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.