Do It @ Home on ThanksGiving!

It’s that time of year again.

You know the time! The four letter word ‘busy’ is how everyone is, when you ask how they are.

The mall Christmas decorations go up as soon as the trick or treaters go home. Today is officially 6 weeks until Christmas Morning. That would be 41 shopping days until little Johnny finds out if he can keep up with the Joneses – or not. Thanksgiving gets sandwiched between Halloween and Black Friday, shopping lists are made, dream holidays planned, credit cards get worn out and we step into the highest suicide rate of the year. Or not.

We actually have a choice in this.

Are we powerless victims to advertising? Or are we powerful believers in a redeeming, hope filled season? One where Jesus reigns?

Okay, honestly, I am mostly the powerful believer in a redeeming, hope filled, Jesus season with occasional tendencies toward powerless advertisement victim…Don’t judge me!

What are our options this year? How can we remain Christ centered? I could give you some lists (maybe next week).

How about one thing?

Is there one thing I could do to slow down, be thankful, remember who I am in Christ, stay focused on Jesus?

Yes. There. Is.

Communion.

Celebrate the Lord’s Supper at home. Start with Thanksgiving!

Recently, as I have been reading my bible, I have been hit with such a huge realization. Jesus didn’t go to ‘church.’ He didn’t ever tell people to go to ‘church.’ He didn’t have a ‘church’ building campaign. He didn’t tell us to build a ‘church.’ The word translated into ‘church’ in our bibles was the word ekklesia and it means ‘called out ones.’ It refers to people not buildings.

I am for the the local ‘church’ buildings – they provide an amazing service. But I also believe we should not depend on the local church to ‘do’ our walk with Jesus for us. I love sharing communion with other believers in a church service. I think it is a holy moment. It’s even better in your own home!

Jesus didn’t take communion in a ‘church’ building. Or a synagogue. Or a temple. He broke bread, in a home, with his twelve friends (11 if you don’t count Judas a friend). These are the guys He did life with.

This famous ‘Last Supper’ bread breaking was during the Passover meal. This  celebration was and is in remembrance of God’s deliverance of Israel. Jesus and the disciples were in someone’s home. In a guest room set up for this feast. For almost four hundred years after Christ’s resurrection, believers met in homes and shared communion in their own homes. (Mark 14:12-26, Matthew 26:17-30, Luke 22:7-23)

Some of my personal thoughts:

I think Jesus loved this! He broke bread and gave thanks as the risen Christ with the guys he met on the road to Emmaus! He loved being with people, enjoyed eating with them, feeding them (sometimes 5000 at a time)!

When I take Jesus with me when I am not in a ‘church’ building and place Him at the helm of my every day life – heaven smiles.

If we take communion at home in a biblical model (1 Corinthians 11:23-25):

1. We examine or test ourselves to see where our heart is at. What does this look like? I usually do this in a two step process:

(a)   Do I need to forgive anyone? Close your eyes and ask God. Did anyone come to mind? If so – forgive the person – out loud (whether you feel like it or not doesn’t matter – just do it). Release them from your expectations and ask God to bless them. 

(b)   Am I believing any lies? Close your eyes and ask God. Did you hear a lie you are believing? If so – ask God to forgive you for believing the lie and ask Him what the truth is.

2. We give thanks. Whatever this looks like for you. What are you thankful for?

3. We break the bread. Jesus did this and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” As you take a bite of bread remember what Jesus has done, who He is, how much He loves you.

4. We take the cup. Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this,  whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Drink from the cup (or a cup) and remember Jesus, consider the wonder of the new covenant – us, no longer separated from our Heavenly daddy!

It’s really that simple. And that beautiful. And that holy. In your own home. With your own family and or friends. Do it when you gather as a group or family in  remembrance and honor of our Lord Jesus. Do it at home! Often.

Jesus never intended communion to be reserved for a ‘church building’ or ‘church setting.’ Heck, there weren’t any when he walked the planet.

Jesus wants to walk with, commune with, love and laugh with, guide, counsel, protect and bless you 24/7! Invite Him to dinner! (Revelation 3:20)

We set a place for Him at our home. I believe He is with us and will show up on my doorstep for dinner!

Gesso + Jesus

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Let me tell you about gesso. First it is pronounced, “jess-o.” It took me a couple adult years doing art to realize this proper pronunciation, marking me a novice in the art field. I am okay with that, because I have embraced being a novice (most of the time).

Gesso is a base coat or primer for many art substrates, including canvas, wood or paper. Gesso changes how art medium interacts with the substrate. It can seal a surface, make a material more absorbent or give it more, “tooth.” Gesso can also be used to cover mistakes and start over.

I love gesso. It reminds me of Jesus.

I really enjoy working with canvas, board or paper primed with gesso. It allows me certain assumptions. I know the next layer of paint or graphite or pastel will react a certain way. I also know my canvas will be easier to work with.

People are like that. Myself included. I am WAY easier to work with, with Jesus. I wont go into a long story here, or doctrine or theology. What I will say is this: My life before following Jesus was completely different than my life is now. I live wrapped in the security blanket of God Love that marks even my worst days with a spark of joy and peace.

Back to gesso… It can also cover an art mistake like nothing else! Wonky eye? Gesso (see photo). Missed perspective? Gesso. Out of proportion body? Gesso. You get the idea. Not only does gesso cover the mistake, it gives you a brand new base to start over from.

I know! Just like Jesus!

Walking with Jesus has given me a clean canvas to create on, daily. I have embraced the Jesus gesso of being forgiven and set free (from addiction, depression, shame, anger, hopelessness). Just like in art, and with gesso, I continue to work through each day. Neither Jesus or gesso are a magic wand. But they are pretty darn close! Jesus truly can take all our mistakes and make beautiful art from them.

As I am growing, journeying, as a human and an artist – I see life’s lessons mirrored in art. I know my art can always improve with the help of gesso. And my life continues to expand with a Jesus walk.

Showing Up and Sharing

I recently have had the honor of being asked to participate in a  project sharing stories of ‘FamilyPreneurs.’ I know it’s not a real word…YET! I want to share here. Following is our short BIO for the project:

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Our story is a Faith story. Jeff and I will celebrate 27 years of marriage this year, by the grace of God. Our family includes three wonderful sons, two daughters-in-love and a very precious grand baby. We also own and partner in four companies that employ approximately 400 people.

Entrepreneurship has afforded our family more benefits than a simple biography could encapsulate. But I’ll try: Income, outrageous ability to be generous, time and education flexibility, travel, homes, cars, etc… It has also cost us: time, flexibility, relationships, travel, homes, cars etc… And it almost cost us our marriage.

Jeff and I were not raised in homes that followed Jesus, so we truly didn’t know there was a better way to do life, relationships and business. We were honest, hardworking, struggling, hard people. We were trying to do everything ‘right’ and the way we were ‘taught.’ You know – work our asses off, educate our children in a traditional setting with emphasis on performance and grades, make everything on the outside ‘look perfect.’ On the inside we were dying. Our marriage was in shambles. I was clinically depressed while on depression medication. Our children had diagnosis of ADHD, dyslexia and ADD. We survived embezzlement – just barely – and had deep mistrust issues with everyone. What a ride!

Discovering and surrendering to a relationship with our Creator changed everything. I started contemplating and seeking Jesus during a two year stint of therapy. Don’t get me wrong, it was (and still is) a process! Jesus made us realize we are never alone, we always have a helper and we might want to step out of some of our old ways of thinking.

Just some of the benefits: no more depression or depression meds, the best marriage in the world – we have led countless marriage groups, the options of homeschool and alternative education opportunities, financial investment in our children’s businesses as opposed to college education, a family that isn’t perfect but IS for each other, businesses that grew during the economic downturn of 2008+, new opportunities daily, and for me the courage to pursue my love of art and writing. Truly we are blessed beyond measure and live a life of unspeakable joy. The hardships no longer take us out, they make us stronger.

Saying Goodbye to 2015

This has been a great year. A wonderful year. A hard year. A year full of change. Isn’t every year just like this? Some more marked by joy than sadness. And some more marked by loss than by love. The constant is the ever moving and happening change around us. Why is it that this change always seems to surprise? To knock me off kilter? To shake me? Maybe it is supposed to.

This year I gained a daughter, became a grandmother and lost my dad. We purchased a second home, a new business, a new car. A friend passed away. We became empty nesters. I had both writing and art published, sold or under contract to be. I took the steps to open a new studio in 2016. We changed A LOT in our businesses. I continue to look forward.

I need to honor my God, my year and myself – by taking a moment to reflect on this year.

What if everything stayed the same? How would we become ourselves? How would we continue?

He who sits on the throne says, “I make ALL things new.”

I think this includes me. He renews me, my mind, my outlook  and my life. Probably you and yours too. I think part of the point is learning to deal with this continual newness. This change.

I am choosing to embrace change. I would love to tell you how gracefully and beautifully I have done this. However, that would be a lie. It’s been incredibly messy, hard, unscheduled and unplanned and simply wonderful. What God has worked out for good (through the hardness and awkwardness) bowls me over!

This is the time of year I choose thankfulness for the blessings of the year, forgiveness for my shortcomings (or complete failures), grace for my mistakes, hope for the future and mercy in each moment. I thank God for all He has done and is continuing to do in me and my family. I thank Jesus for being with me through it all.

I also seek God for a word or theme for my next year. For 2016 I have heard: Be dazzled.

I can’t tell you how this warms my soul! I have been praying for a pure heart. That God would keep wonder alive and fresh for me daily. That Jesus would teach me, guide me, lead me deeper into Him everyday.

And I encourage YOU. Take a moment. Look at the highs and lows of your year. Thank God in all your circumstance. Share your gratitude. Say your goodbyes. Give forgiveness. Welcome the New Year. Ask for a word or theme for 2016 AND embrace it! Stay present. Be intentional. And love one another.

 

 

 

 

 

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Live Better Stories

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Okay, this advice came on the packing paper for a new pair of shoes. And I couldn’t resist adding it to my current art project!

This year I am choosing to live a better story!

After all, one of the best parts of being human is our ability to choose. A better story for me might be stepping more into the abundant life that is always available.

My friend, Jesus, might say, “Life to the full.”

Yes. That’s part of my better story!

I want MORE for Christmas!

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This year I have been thinking a lot about Christmas.

What it means. Why we do what we do (or don’t do). What traditions we follow. How we celebrate. Who we celebrate with.

Even the word: Christmas.

I was driving by a sign the other day and mentally broke the word ‘Christmas’ down.

“Christ” – as in Jesus.

“Mas” – the Spanish word for ‘but’ or with an accent mark above the ‘a’, meaning ‘more.’

 But, Jesus

 Jesus – More

I follow many traditions of man:

Family made.

Created by Western Christianity.

Commercially made.

Not necessarily in that order.

The irony of the truth, that God, in the form of a baby, came to us in a barn (not a church building, or a temple, or a mansion, or a government building or an inn or even a simple home) still boggles my mind.

I ask, “Why?”

Could it be so that one group could not lay claim to the Messiah?

As humans we like to think we know the right way. That our people group, sub culture, culture, religion, like-minded friends, etc… know The way. We can be so small minded.

This year as I give to the poor, share with the less fortunate, buy gifts for friends and family, bake cookies, wrap presents, read the original Christmas story, decorate a Christmas tree, sing carols, enjoy Christmas lights, visit churches  and wear red and green, I can’t help but think there is more. I don’t think these activities are wrong. But there is more.

Shouldn’t everyday be Christmas?

Truly in our hearts and lives, Jesus came that we might have LIFE and Abundant Life – everyday.

ALL the World – not just one sub culture. I am discovering, daily, what that might mean and look like.

Hope Filled, Grace Filled, Joy-Filled, Mercy Filled, Generous, Loving, Overflowing to the whole world… Not perfect, just Life Bringing…

My prayer this year: More Jesus. More of You. Everyday. For everyone.

I Want More!

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Today I have started my “More God” challenge. Last week I purchased an Invisible Clock (timer, stop watch, alarm gadget) that clips onto my clothes. I have set the timer to countdown fifteen minutes, vibrate and then repeat. My action? To praise, thank and be mindful of God each time the timer vibrates.

Why am I doing this? Because I want MORE!

More intimacy with Jesus.

More walking with Father God.

More Holy Spirit in my daily life.

Am I experiencing a particular challenge or obstacle in my daily life? No.

I am not sick, depressed or freaked out in any specific way.

I simply want MORE. OF. HIM.

I’ve heard the teaching that when things are going well we tend to forget about God. I personally don’t buy into that train of thought. Sure, it can happen. But let’s not teach people that it is normal to forget about God during any circumstance (good or bad). I live a life of thanking HIM. My biggest prayer is always, ‘Thank you…”

I wasn’t always that way. I think I would call myself a believer of God my whole life. But I definitely wasn’t a follower until I was 35. Becoming a follower or disciple of Jesus meant getting to know God, who HE is and what HE says. And surrendering the lordship of my life to Jesus and HIS ways. Wow! What a journey I’ve been on AND am on! It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been good.

As I’ve grown to know God more I realize how much I don’t know. Daily. And how much more of HIM I want and need. Daily.

I find myself going through my day thinking of HIM regularly – but always? Intentionally, mindfully seeking HIM in everything? Truthfully, no.

HE has more thoughts of me than there are grains of sand (Psalm 139:18). I could return the favor at least every 15 minutes – can’t I?

I desire to:

  • Seek HIM with ALL of my heart (Psalm 119:10).
  •  To soul seek after HIM like the deer pants for streams of water (Psalm 42:1).
  •  For my soul to cling to HIM (Psalm 63:8)

Jesus clearly stated what the greatest commandment is:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-39).

I desire to love God better and MORE.

What exactly does ALL my heart, ALL my soul and ALL my mind look like in this endeavor?

I can’t take credit for the ‘invisible clock – 15 minute – praise Jesus‘ idea. I actually heard it at a women’s conference as a help to someone fighting a disease or illness. The challenge was to do this for two weeks and see what happens. Knowing what I do know about Jesus, I would expect nothing short of miraculous!

That is where I am at today – expecting nothing short of miraculous!

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3).

I’m not sure what I always believed about this verse. But I have come to believe that I am poor in spirit. Let me explain. The word poor is used many ways, but my favorite definition is: never having enough. With this definition a person of great wealth can still be poor. Someone well below the financial poverty level can be rich. Poor and rich certainly can pertain to finances, but by no means stop there.

I am believing that my spirit is poor in that I simply don’t have enough Holy Trinity in my life. I don’t know that I ever will – in this lifetime.

I want MORE.

I am intentionally seeking MORE.

I have committed to a 12 day journey. Starting this morning. I will keep you updated.

PS. Already, even typing this, I have been brought out of myself to Praise the one who made me. Thank you Jesus!

Who Do You Say I Am?

Morning Glory

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God. And Jesus answered him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:15-18)

Who do you say I am?

What  a big and loaded question!

For many years I assumed that the whole point of these couple verses was that Peter proclaimed Jesus as The Christ, the Messiah, whom the people had been waiting for.

And that is a major point.

Who I think and say Jesus is, defines me. I grow daily in knowing, loving and following HIM.

What if there is more?

Way more?

One thing I am learning is that: I don’t know what I don’t know.

Another thing I am learning is that in Walking with Jesus, there is always MORE.

As I was reading the above verses from the book of Matthew a number of things jumped off the page at me.

First, Jesus said some amazing things. Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah.” Not because Peter had the right answer. Not because Peter knew that Jesus was the savior of the whole planet. But Jesus said that Peter was blessed ‘for flesh and blood(man) has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’ 

Peter was blessed because The Father in heaven revealed who Christ is? Or Peter was blessed because a person didn’t reveal Christ to him, but God did? Or Peter was blessed because he was in the presence of the living God and walking with HIM and realized it? Or Peter had a direct connection to the Father and acted from that?

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure I first confessed Christ because someone – a person – told me about HIM. Of course I also believe that the Spirit of God was at work in that choice.

How many times have I just listened to someone else’s interpretation of God’s Word? I AM NOT saying that it is wrong to listen to teaching. Instead I am suggesting that teaching should be my invitation to seek HIM out for myself.

What if I had known to listen to the voice of my Father in heaven and hear from HIM? I am not even sure I thought that was possible. I mean really? HE would talk to me? Really? The God of the universe would take time out of HIS mega-importance to talk to me?

Yes! HE did, HE does and HE will.

I am not saying that I hear an audible voice booming from the heavens. Even in the Bible, God doesn’t always speak that way. Sometimes HE used burning bushes, angels, prophets, wind,  a donkey. HIS voice whispers through creation to all of us. HE speaks in dreams. HE gave us Holy Spirit to constantly converse with us. HE is always speaking.

I have not always been listening.

Jesus says that Peter is blessed for hearing from God. Listening to God instead of man. Choosing to repeat what God said, instead of what man said.

A knowing that comes from hearing the voice of God, as Peter did, is foundational to walking with Jesus.

The verses only get better! Next Jesus says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.”

I really like that Jesus will build His church. Not, ‘Peter now you will build my church.’ Do you think we hear it that way sometimes?

How often do we assume that we are to do God’s part instead of our part? In these verses our part is to hear from our Father in Heaven and His part is to build the church. A little backwards from how we sometimes attack executing our faith?

We also have to look at the word ‘church.’ This word in Greek is ekklesia AND IT IS NOT A BUILDING. It is a group of people, specifically ‘the called out ones.’ It was not a religious or spiritual term. The purpose of an ekklesia was to ‘call people out’ or ‘summon them’ to assemble or to congregate in a public place primarily to deal with civil, political or military matters – not religious matters!* Not how I used to think of the ‘church.’ (Maybe we really can change the world!)

This ekklesia, Jesus said, He will build. And the foundation – the rock – was Peter, a person that heard from heaven.

And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.This is the comfort and protection and peace that I walk in daily. These are Jesus’s words. The word.

The gates of hell cannot prevail against a people, called out by Jesus, that hear from the Father in heaven.

A Prayer to hear God’s Voice:

Father God, I long to hear your voice. Please speak to me. Teach me your ways. Reveal to me who YOU are.

Now, listen. God longs for you!

*ReOrient, Kevin Weaver, pp187