Pure Joy

It’s difficult to describe just how good it feels to celebrate God’s faithfulness every.single.day. so I thought I’d just show it instead! God is really moving! Over the past two weeks, I’ve shared a devotional & words of encouragement faith art (below) at a local pregnancy center, I’ve been asked to lead a faith art session at an upcoming women’s retreat, AND I’ve been asked to create faith art coloring pages for a children’s ministry!

Isn’t God grand? Gosh….even the word grand doesn’t begin to describe God! The latter part of 2017 and early part of 2018 were more challenging as the trickle-down effects of cancer and its treatments wreaked havoc on my lungs, but God still has work for me to do! Thankfully, I’m feeling much, much better these days and pleased to report current scans & markers show the cancer remains stable! 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

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The thing is, God has a plan that far exceeds anything I could dream up for myself…. the desire to create faith are came as a byproduct of cancer, and the  opportunities to share God’s love through art came before I received results of my latest scans… I didn’t hesitate to accept because…

I know God’s got this!

This past year, I’ve learned to live like I am always HIS and not just after He proves I’m His in a particular situation…. does that make any sense? In other words, I don’t wait until I see proof of His faithfulness to step forward….

Today I attended a Bible Journaling Group: H.I.S. (Houston’s Illustrating Sisterhood) and we discussed the perils of spiritual amnesia – God is ALWAYS at work and ALWAYS working for the best in our lives…especially when it may not “feel” that way!

Living in gratitude is a choice and testifying to the daily miracles of faithfulness He is working in our lives is a must!

 

Joy in the Journey!

More often than not, folks will say,

“how do you do it? how do you stay so positive? how do you always seem to be so happy?”

The answer is truly simple and yet seemed so elusive most of my adult life….God worked very diligently to prepare me for a cancer journey!

In 2013,

  • my daughter endured two debilitating bouts of meningitis
  • I moved my dad to assisted living as Alzheimer’s was taking its devastating toll
  • my job went from crazy stress, to off the charts insane stress
  • I experienced the brink of physical and emotional collapse

Being soooooooo close to that edge, I knew something had to change….and that’s where God took my trust in Him to the “liberating place.” A place where I set aside my overly analytical mind. A place where He was my sole focus. A place where I confidently said goodbye to the corporate world where I was dying. A place where miracles happen.

It was a time when I had NO IDEA as to what was next and a time where I wasn’t scrambling to come up with a “plan” of my own. It was a time of the most wonderful peace I’d ever experienced.

Don’t get me wrong, the crazies were still present in 2014 – they just weren’t dictating my steps! It was a time when my feet didn’t move without God’s influence.

  • It was a time when I began experiencing serious pain with no idea as to the cause.
  • It was a time when I enjoyed visits with my dad and eventually said goodbye.
  • It was a time when my mom & stepdad came for a visit that resulted in them staying.
  • It was a time when my relationship with my oldest sister went to a new level as we spent countless hours together helping my other sister transition her life as we packed up my parents life in California.

With God as my focus and sole compass, I began seeing each day, each challenge, so differently. Anxiety diminished and peace reigned. I began to more fully receive God’s no matter what precious love!

So later that year, when the doctor said, “you have stage IV cancer that has spread extensively through your bones,” I didn’t panic. I knew God was still with me & prepared me for the battle ahead.

Have there been really tough days? Definitely. But God is faithful. He’s my go-to guy and gets me through every single challenge – every single day.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This past weekend I experienced a first – I attended a Bible Journalers group! I was like a kid in a candy shop for the first time – all these like-minded women in one place – at the same time – with more art goodies than I could ever imagine!

As we were about an hour in, the coordinator stopped by my table and asked what I was planning…. you would’ve thought she’d asked me to explain some vast scientific thoughts on the universe….of which I haven’t a clue!

I soon discovered that I’m really challenged to focus with so much external stimulation… granted I was probably a BIG distraction to others….I chatted incessantly…a combination of nerves and excitement…. but somehow God settled me long enough to create this page, which I now “see” as the preface to a Bible study by Lisa Harper on Job that I started this past Sunday – isn’t God grand??????

Sunday’s message is still filtering through to my heart…

Last night I started reading through Job – I may have read a verse or two before and knew the 50,000ft view (sort of)…. and as I read, it seemed as if Job certainly was affected by initial losses, but not dissuaded in his faith. Then in chapter in chapter 3, after the boils, loss & pain started taking it toll…

Pain & Circumstances….it’s something we’re all familiar with… when my focus is narrowed through my imperfect lens, I can’t focus to see what God is doing IN the circumstance.

For example,

– I have an aggressive type of cancer. check.

– I experience physical pain every single day. check.

Sure, I can get bogged down in the muck – I’m human! I have to nurture my Holy Habits – to KNOW and EXERCISE God’s promises…most importantly? BELIEVE His promises. God has promised my healing.period.

If my focus is constantly on ‘when’ or ‘how’ God’s healing will come, then I’m at risk to miss out on everything in between!

It’s the “in-between” where God shows Himself & is glorified

it’s the “in-between” where my relationships are enriched

it’s the “in-between” where I get to be extraordinarily grateful for sunrises & promises of a new day

it’s the “in-between” where I get to share His love in the midst of life’s storms

it’s the “in-between” where my love for Him grows with each breath…

Oh, precious readers…my prayer is that each of you experience and treasure the liberating place!

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100 Days of Promises

Oh my! So beautifully written and remindful of God’s faithfulness! Five short years ago, I was walking a similar path – Alzheimer’s is such a thief, but God is GOOD – intertwined with the pain are beautiful & treasured memories of time spent with my dad and the experience of his loving neighbors and community.

God doesn’t waste one minute of our lives to share His Love!

KeyNotes in His Presence

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100 Days of Bible Promises: A Devotional Journal” is an excellent, journaling resource filled with God’s promises. It allows the reader to write his/her most, intimate reflections daily for 100 days.

When I reflect on His promises, pray over Scriptures, write down my most intimate prayers, and acknowledge His blessings, His love overwhelms my heart and His Word refreshes my soul.

“Wow, how sweet is that? His love overwhelms my heart!”

His promises calm anxious hearts, reset attitudes, reframe perspectives and ultimately give us the strength and hope to take another step.

”Yes Lord, Help me take the next step”

His promises never expire. Christine Caine’s new release titled ‘Unexpected’ noted, “God wants us to believe and understand that his promises don’t have expiration dates. They aren’t like passports or gym memberships. They aren’t like the condiments in the fridge or the food in the pantry. Our Heavenly…

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Mother’s Day goodies!

If you’re anything like me, you’d love to share a little something with the precious “moms” in your life…. without breaking the bank!

well…. I looked around my craft closet (hey, some of us have clothes closets, shoe closets, junk closets…and why of course….CRAFT closets!)…. I wanted to use what I had and yet, create something personal – quickly!

This is what I came up with… watercolor faith quotes!  You can create the same or similar look with pretty much what you have on hand (yay!)

These are the supplies I used:IMG_6029

  • 6″x6″ artist watercolor tiles (you can use mixed media paper or even a good heavyweight paper like printer brochure paper)
  • plastic baggie
  • crayola markers (water based)
  • permanent black marker (PrismaColor or Sharpie)
  • scissors
  • washi tape
  • water spritzer bottle
  • heat tool

 

To help you get started, I created two templates (print here -> faith quotablesIMG_6030

To avoid wonky cutting, I added a line border & allowed extra room for the watercolor by making the art 1.5″ smaller than the canvas

The first quote was created in a separate program using my handwriting; the second was created with text boxes in WORD using different fonts…this is where you can really let your creativity shine!

IMG_6031Once I cut out the desired quote, I attached it to the back of my canvas with a small piece of washi tape (painter’s tape works too!), making sure the image was positioned however I wanted the final quote to appear

Since watercolor paper is so thick, I needed light shining from the back to trace.  A window works great for this – in my case I simply used a white background on my iPad – it was just bright enough to be able to see the wordingIMG_6032

Next, I used a permanent marker to outline the larger word.

You may need to exercise your patience muscles a bit – take your time…. and remember…. like all faith art, it’s not about perfection – enjoy the process!

 

IMG_6033I usually freehand the smaller wording, but if you intend on tracing, I recommend that you go ahead and finish the wording before adding color – this way you can be certain it’s visible!  I like to use a finer pen for the smaller words – just be sure you’re using permanent ink so that it doesn’t run when you add water in the next step.

You can see that my outline isn’t “perfect” – not to worry – once the lettering is filled in, it will take on a personal touch

 

Now…. the fun part! COLOR!!!  

You may want to practice this part a few times 

IMG_6034The easiest way I found to transfer color is by spritzing the canvas with water first – just enough to dampen the surface – keep in mind, I used this technique for watercolor paper, but I’ve used on lighter weight paper before – it just takes a lot less water.

Get your baggie and scribble some color on in a pattern similar to what you want the end result to look like

I like to use two shades of the same color family – in this example, I have two shades of blue.  In some of my other examples, I got really wild and chose two separate colors – just be sure they don’t make brown when mixed!

IMG_6035Once you have color on your baggie, flip it over and place on top of your canvas

Run your fingers over the baggie to transfer the color onto the canvas – give it a minute to absorb, and then carefully remove the baggie.

I use the Ranger Distress Sprayer & really like it because you can “dribble” or “mist” water onto the canvas –

You can see where the ink is fairly concentrated in some areas – slowly mist/dribble the area with water until you start getting the watercolor effect.  To keep the water puddles from running, I use my marker to hold the paper down while drying with the heat tool.

Remember, you can always build more color – just start small and repeat the process!

Once the color has dried, fill in your lettering with the permanent marker.  If you want to get really fancy, you can embellish with white ink – I use a UniBall Signo 153

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LordThat’s pretty much it!  I hope you’re inspired and encouraged to give this a try!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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geckos and grace

I am so blessed to know this precious woman! She’s sharing some good TRUTH today!

toni's thoughts from the shallow end

It’s that time.

Spring seems to have sprung. This week we’ve moved from last week’s cool mornings to dog breath humid by 5:00 AM.

Warmer weather brings more than budding flowers, mosquitos, and flip flops. Warmer weather wakes up the geckos.

I’m not a fan of geckos for one reason.

But this post is not about geckos.

The reason I’m not a fan of these little darlings is because my fourteen-year-old daughter is terrified of them.

But this post is not about my daughter.

I drop my daughter off at my mother’s house each morning so she can catch the school bus. Then I drive to work. Like everybody else, our morning routine is lackadaisical until one of us realizes we have two minutes to brush teethe, pack lunches, put on shoes, be in the car, and get it be moving toward Mom’s.

And every warm day at Mom’s it…

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My Love Dare with God – Week 12

wk 12

Can it really be the last week??????  For some, you may be thinking, “FINALLY!” — but can I share something really incredible?  After this week, you will have the gift of seeing this particular piece of the puzzle…. a bag full of tools that can help you seize more opportunities to love…. to boldly go thru doors and let God’s love be known to others in a powerful way.  This is Living My Love Dare with God… but first things first…. let’s work through Week 12

Dare days 38 – 40  – we continue with topics that are a deeper, as they directly focus on our relationship with God

This week we take a look at how Love

  •  Fulfills Dreams – seeking God for direction  and leaning on God to open your heart to the beauty of dreams
  • Endures – the no matter what kind of love
  • is a Covenant – not a contract and so much more than a promise

 

My Love Dare with God – Week 12

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