~ Grow where you’re Planted

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Seeing this Wild Ginger coming up in the broken pathway reminded me of this phrase.

There are times in life when we wonder how we got where we are. Most times it’s the end result of our own actions. Occasionally, we are clueless.

Either way, the only way to improve our situation is to make the best of where we are until we earn our way out, or until God allows us out.

The way out is always the result of praise and gratitude. With gratitude comes a positive attitude. But praise comes first, not as a result. When we praise in faith, then our circumstances can improve, or our hearts will learn to accept that they won’t.

The result will be praise that is felt from the heart.

We may or may not leave the pavement crack for the company of a flower bed, but either way, with gratitude we will flourish.

~ Dead Wood

It’s easy to look at the mess we’ve made as dead wood. Every year I have to cut the dead wood out of my Hydrangea. Every year there’s more. It’s a natural part of the life cycle of many woody shrubs and all trees. A certain percentage of the limbs and branches die off, and more grow in their place. Think of them as the equivalent of human hair. It doesn’t mean there is rot or disease, it’s just part of the process.

Now take that thought and apply it to the mess you’ve made of your attempts. Is your life (and possibly your home and office) filled with the clutter and refuse of attempts that went awry or projects that didn’t make it past the planning stage? Don’t beat yourself up! This is a normal part of the process of growth.

Rather than agonize over the failures, look at your mess as proof that you’re alive, trying new things, attempting to be and do more. Then get out the pruning shears and get rid of those things holding you back, reminding you of failure, and taking up valuable space in your life. Learn from God’s natural process. If you don’t cut out the dead wood, then the new can’t grow. There is no space, or light or air.

Breathe in those wonderful life-affirming verses that you love, and then tackle just one pruning job today. Nothing brings hope for the future like new spring green growth. Make room for it in your life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB

“The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy.
I’ve come that (you) may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 ISV

~ New Beginnings

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In preparing for our upcoming art show, “New Beginnings” the thought occurred to me that I might have other artwork lying around that could be used besides the paintings I’m preparing  just for this exhibit. So I took a little tour around the house and came across this early painting. The subject was perfect ~ what says new beginning like the first adorable flowers of spring? Unfortunately, the paper was covered in foxing ~ those little or not-so-little rust colored specks that go right through the paper. It was polka-dotted with the ugly things.

I got on the internet and looked up foxing and what to do to get it out of the paper. It all looked so complicated, and the only thing I had on hand was the bleach which was only one step in the process. Would just that first step do it? How much of the watercolor would fade? Was I willing to risk it for this one show? I certainly didn’t have time to get it back from a conservator before Friday. It was one of only two early watercolors I have left, and I’ve always been fond of it ~ it would grieve me to lose it.

After the agony of deliberation, I decided to give it a try. After all, it was ruined as it was, and by the time I got it to a conservator, it might be too late to save it anyway. The foxing was already all the way through the paper.

So I did it ~ I took the plunge. I prepared a pan of water with a small amount of bleach and submersed my darling little painting. After soaking for almost two hours, the stains were still there, so I left the studio for lunch, telling myself not to stay too long. At that point the colors were still strong.

Of course you know I got involved in a book and forgot all about my little painting sitting in the tub of bleach solution. When I got back to the studio, the first thing that I saw were my little crocuses, just starting to bleed out purple. I rushed the painting to the sink and dumped the water from the pan, rinsing it while holding the painting, worrying about the bleeding watercolor. It was only a tiny amount, but it was clearly starting to run. I filled the pan with rinse water and gently floated the painting, flipping it over. I did it twice more with fresh pans of water. At that point the bleeding had rinsed away. How much of the color would remain once the painting dried? The drying process was accomplished with less stress, thankfully.

You can see the result. The colors are once again as bright as when it was freshly painted, and the paper is truly white. There is no purple even though that’s how the photo appears. I’m not sure the camera knew what to do with those intensely purple flowers.

I think you’ll agree that this painting has experienced its own New Beginning.

One day we’ll be wearing white, and our true colors will shine. Until then, we take it by faith that our stains have been washed away. We have value and beauty and serve a purpose ~ each of us designed by the hands of the one who created us for his good pleasure.

 

~ Crowns

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Crowns! The Usurper will NEVER have even one ~ and yet, as CHILDREN of the KING we are entitled to qualify for several ~ each!

Millions of crowns, and the pretender to the throne gets none.

How’s them apples? That garden thing didn’t work out too well, did it?

The King of gratitude defeated bitterness before the world was formed, and then he showed us how to obtain the crown of righteousness by living in thankful surrender.

 

~ A Chip off the Ol’ Block

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While you’re wherever you are, I’m back home in Indiana, laughing with my dad. You can be sure of it.

If there is humor to be found, we’ll find it. If there’s something to laugh at, we’ll laugh at it. If there’s nothing to laugh about, we’ll probably laugh anyway. That’s how we deal with the hard stuff, how we cope with the uncope-able, and survive the un-fixable.

Mostly, though, we laugh because no matter how bad life is, life is good. When it comes to the end of the day, we have so much more to be thankful for than we have to complain about. For every bad, there are a thousand goods. A thousand things to delight in.

I’m a chip off the ol’ block. Same quirky sense of humor, same a lot of things. When I get together with my dad, or even talk to him on the phone, it feels like the missing part of me is back in place. All is right with my world. We get each other. We can talk for hours or sit in silence for hours and it’s all the same.

Ah, God Glimpses ~ That’s the same way I feel when I’m in the right place with my heavenly father. That warm feeling of love and acceptance, that we’re on the same side and seeing the world through the same eyes. Yes, there is much to see that’s sad and makes us mad, and much we can’t do a thing about, because people have to make their own decisions and live with the consequences. But we can laugh through the tears, and we can laugh in the joy of our love, and we can delight in the incomparable beauty of the world and the people he created.

We have so much to talk about!

I think I’ll go tell him about all the delightful things I’m seeing today.

~ A Box of Joy

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This is my tiny box of joy, perfection in miniature.

If you were to make your own tiny box of joy, what would you put in it? I’ll show you the inside of mine next week.

Think about what makes you happy, gives you pleasure and delight. If you could carry it around in a box, would you embellish that box to honor the contents?

Think about your own box of joy. What are you thankful for? Give it a special place of honor so that each time you see it, you remember to thank God for the gift of delight.

I hope this inspires some creativity! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve done something similar or if this causes you to start something new.

~ Inside the Box

2015-09-02 15.26.13 Last week I asked what you might have in a box of joy, and told you I’d show you the inside of the little box of joy that I made for myself

This box just happens to be my travel watercolor kit. I searched and researched and am thrilled with my choices of supplies. In fact, this works so well that I seldom use my large watercolor palette or even my expensive Kolinsky brushes. Simply squeezing more water into the tip of a Sakura brush is faster and wastes less paint.

The purchased watercolor kit within my kit isn’t the most expensive, in fact it’s one of the least expensive on the market. The great thing is that the watercolors are standard half-pan size, so when I want to replace a color, I can buy just one of any number of brands. The whole kit is a tiny bit of perfection.

No matter what you do for work or for fun, you understand the joy of having the right tools for the job. No struggling to make do, no wishing you could have the top of the line because what you have is already the best for you, even if it’s not the most expensive or the most popular.

Every single time my eyes land on my little box of joy, I smile. For me, it’s perfect.

What things in your life are you perfectly happy with? This little box of joy reminds me that God perfectly and precisely fits me with the things I need to do his work, even if they don’t always seem like it to someone else (or me, when I’m in ungrateful mode.)

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

God Glimpses #31 ~ The Winter of My Discontent – Beaten into Submission!

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God Glimpses – Day 31 – Woohoo! . . . and it happened on the first day of Spring. One month ago I determined to beat this lifelong habit of complaining negativity. Sarcasm is fun, but I’d taken it too far. Oh, sure, a quick wit can be quite entertaining, but biting sarcasm has another name–bitterness. I’d crossed the line.

I could give you my line of excuses, but that would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? The purpose was to stop having excuses. I have way too much to be grateful for to let this continue.

I’ve heard it said that a habit can be beaten in twenty-one days, or a month–depends on where you read it–the point is, if you can do something for X number of days in a row, you’ll form a new habit.

That’s where God Glimpses was born. In the land of discontent. I was sick of living there. Inside I was happy. Inside I was grateful. I believed that. There was only one problem. The verse that kept popping into my mind, “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” Ouch! You know how it is when you’re trying to break a bad habit; you see it everywhere . . . and it’s ugly. I was getting tired of seeing myself as ugly.

I want the best that God has for me, and I really want to be the kind of person who shows other people the best that God sees in them. Complaining and negativity have no place in that life. It’s not who I want to be.

The God Glimpses are working. Instead of seeing the negative, I’m actively seeking the gifts of God’s awesome provision. It’s become a habit–and more than a habit, a glorious addiction.

It snowed most of the day today, on this early first day of Spring, right down on the crocuses and daffodils. I shivered most of the day, wearing a turtleneck, my thickest hoodie and a bulky work shirt, two pair of socks and fleece-lined slippers. I guess it was the missing corduroys, apparently jeans aren’t warm enough for the first day of Spring.

Did I complain? Yep, you bet. I’m not cured.

But I am more submitted. More willing to embrace those things I don’t enjoy, to look for good in every situation.

So I dug up this watercolor I painted for a snowman series of greeting cards. Inside this one I inscribed the verse, “Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 KJV

My name is Joy. I’m going to die trying to live up to that name. What most people don’t realize is that to understand joy, you have to experience the opposite. I’ve been through a lot, and I’m still recovering, as I’m sure you are too. Won’t you join me in looking for those glimpses of the goodness of our God who never changes and gives Light and Joy?