Saturday, January 31, 2015

Grace Awakening Week Four, Chapter Four: Undeserving, Yet Unconditionally Loved

Welcome back to week four. I almost had to skip again this week--it has been rough here lately! We got hit by blizzard Juno, dumping a gorgeous three feet of fresh white snow on us--took two days to get dug out, then another before school and work schedules resumed. So I had an unexpected houseful and a schedule tossed to the wind. Then I got the news that a dear friend's husband had passed away, the wake and funeral would be Thursday and Friday. I'd gotten absolutely nothing accomplished that I'd hoped to achieve all week, and another slice of time was cut away. But, I'm so glad I attended the service--such beautiful words remembering and honoring a most loved father, husband, grandfather...and it was just good to be in the company of my rowing/church family for the occasion as well.

So I determined to set aside all mail, lettering, and planner pursuits for the afternoon until I got my post written--all those things can wait just a little bit longer...I should have some time to play over the weekend (I hope, at least!) And we carry on with Chapter Four: Undeserving, Yet Unconditionally Loved.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I struggle a LOT with the whole feeling of being undeserving of God's lavish love and grace. I have made mess upon mess of my life and yet He's done nothing but shower me with His unlimited love, forgiveness, and bounty of blessings. I live it--every day in awe of all that God has given me. I don't even remember to thank Him most of the time. Yet every day, new grace, more gifts, unbounded love.

Chapter Four explores the stories of David and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 4), and that of Paul. How King David bestowed grace on Jonathon's crippled son for the sheer love of his childhood friend. Paul, consumed zealot, condemner, murderer of Christians given grace by God, turned apostle who couldn't stop himself from preaching God's love-from the depths of prisons, bound in chains. He lived to preach God's grace to the rest of us until his last dying breath.

This gift is given freely. God does what He does by His grace. Because of this, I am what I am by the grace of God. He gets every ounce of credit for whatever good I am able to achieve. And just as God shapes us in His grace, we need to allow Him to be the One to mold those around us in HIS way (not ours). And since He gives us grace, we need to extend it to others, rather than trying to turn them into what we think they should be.

Grace is not something simply to be claimed, it is meant to be demonstrated. It is to be shared, used as a basis for friendships and drawn upon for sustained relationships.

"Grace focuses on who God is and what He has done and takes the focus (and credit) off ourselves. Yet it's so easy to think we need to do something to earn or deserve God's favor, as though grace is too good to be true." -Jackie Hudson

In what ways have you experienced God's grace in your life and relationships?

Do you find it difficult to let people be who they are? Why do you think this is so?

Do you find yourself being harder on family members or coworkers than you mean to be? In which of your relationships is this an issue?

Click here to listen to the chapter podcast.

Thanks so much for your patience with last week's delay, and thank you for joining me again this week. I hope you're getting as much from this study as I am. Please leave a comment below--I'd love to hear what you think so far! Have a great week--see you next Saturday for Chapter Five!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WOIW Delay

Hopefully I can get a post up tomorrow but for now I have to head back out and keep digging...The plows and more snow overnight have us buried again...Oh and more snow on the way Friday! Who wants to come play??
A plow got stuck out in front of our house last night and not the only one.
Plows, police, ambulances and fire rescue trucks were getting stuck all over town...
I know I'm not going anywhere today!

The backyard--snow up to our patio

A path for the poochies--you can't even tell there are steps that go...well...down into the yard....It's just all snow!
I'll take some more pics of the neighborhood once I get the cars dug out again--stay warm everyone!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mailbox Monday #3

Well, I don't know what happened to the pics of the rest of my mail this week--unless I simply brain farted and forgot to take pics?'s been known to happen. I did have a lot on my mind last week with getting (mentally) prepared for our NYC trip (me? worry? NAH! Okay...yuh....) Nonetheless, I do have a few pics (thank goodness for saving grace...)
This lovely creation is a friendship folder from new penpal Ina from the Netherlands. I've seen so many of these on Instagram lately so I was quite tickled to receive my first one! Now I have to return the favor and make one to send back (and of course others to share with my other beloved penfriends!)

A panic picture taken yesterday when I thought I had zero pics to share...yikes! Again, Ina's folder, a super cute thank you card from new friend, Eileen (adorbs!) and a pair of tie die envelope experiments I made this week that turned out so super cool I'll have to make MORE!!

Outgoing advertisement envie

The two original tie die envies. I started with a pink/red palette for Valentine's day.
Loved it so much I had to break out some purple....
 Okay, the next two have absolutely nothing to do with mail, just my heart....

Look at this giant lump! He's crushed all the cushions to our (er, his!) sofa!

Words simply do not exist for how much I love this dog
Happy Love Heart animated emoticon
A gianormous blizzard is en route for later today, tomorrow, and parts of Wednesday. I've waited all winter for some snow--I didn't think they'd save it all up for one blow out event! And, Bug is off school today for a professional development day, not likely to be going to school Tuesday, Wednesday or even possibly Thursday from the looks of what's about to hit the coast this week...Pajama-rama Week!!
Stay safe! Stay warm! Happy Mailing!!
PS! It is not too late to join me for a Month of Letters! Official mailing begins next Monday! I was asked to clarify: I am NOT assigning pen pals. This is simply an open individual challenge to create and mail 23 pieces of mail love (mailing one piece every day through the month of February-excluding, of course, Sundays and Presidents Day--hence the remaining 23 days...) Zip me a line with your address if you would like to be included on my mailing list!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

NYC Nightwatch Youth Gathering

Our church's youth group joined three other groups this weekend for an overnight trip to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. What an incredible night of fellowship in this amazing, breathtaking setting...We shared our bus trip with another group from the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Foxboro, MA and arrived excited, if tentative, about the full night of activity waiting ahead for us...

A view from above of this immense cathedral, the largest in the world!

Everyone unloaded into the gymnasium in the undercroft (mad rush to find outlets to plug in all the drained devices! One genius among us was brilliant enough to pack a power strip and all electronics commenced charging while some mad One Bounce Pseudo Volleyball Insanity broke out. Another group poured in from New Jersey while a fourth group from CT was running late, held up in the weekend traffic.

Eventually we all trailed upstairs to begin the night's program. I couldn't possibly photograph what was waiting for us on entry to the cathedral--I tried the next morning but even Googling on the laptop, I couldn't find a decent picture of the colossal Phoenix sculptures hanging suspended in the cathedral's nave. At first, all was dark except for the sculptures, lit with tiny sparkling lights like Christmas...then--they lit the cathedral...and you could see these two incredible creatures...hanging in the midst of this incredible, huge sanctuary....You can Google for pictures, but it's really something that needs to be experienced first hand. Just amazing...

The delayed group from CT finally arrived and the activities began. We were kept busy and moving well into the night with a closing candlelight Eucharist and meditation at midnight that was the perfect ending to a really wonderful night. We were then allowed to curl up with our sleeping mats and bags back down in the undercroft's gymnasium, though very little sleep actually ensued...I waited patiently and quietly for morning and coffee and an opportunity to head back upstairs to a day lit cathedral...Still, my pictures don't do any kind of justice to the beauty of that building:

One of seven chapels in the cathedral

Can you imagine getting married here?!

Those blue lights below the rose window are the Phoenixes

Intricately carved pews for the choir loft

Crazy detail everywhere you look--I could sit in here and sketch forever!!

Beautiful floors throughout....

A mini Phoenix

One set of organ pipes

I couldn't get in to all the chapels yesterday morning for pictures, plus the light was still so dim from the snow/sleet storm that was happening outside...After a quick round up of the troops, bagels and coffee for breakfast, we loaded back into the bus and were off to see the WTC Memorial museum, which I just cried through the entire time...To stand where those two towers once stood and to take in the total tragic loss of life that day, less than two weeks shy of giving birth to my Bug...Another experience that needs to be done firsthand...

So today, we are iced in with a blizzard on its way for tomorrow night! Seems like the weather has stored up all my snow this winter for one big blowout! I'm heading to the grocery store to stock up and then battening down the hatches for the storm ahead! Stay safe and warm my friends!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Grace Awakening Chapter Four Delay

I won't be posting Chapter Four this weekend since I'll be off in New York with the Youth Group until Saturday afternoon. So we'll see you next week!

Workin' On It Wednesday #16

Just a few hand lettered pieces to share this week:
#52HandletteredProject prompt: One thing to do more often
And a couple Scripture doodles from the prayer journal:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mailbox Monday #2

Still another quiet week of incoming mail but here are some of the prettier pieces that arrived-three from our snail mail group and a couple overseas letters:

And outgoing:
Dressed up just a simple white envie with a little scrapbook paper, washi, stamps and stickers

Envie made from one of Michael's old magazines

This envie was made from an old calendar page

My Secret Pen Pal letter for Snail Mail Ideas January Project

Doodled up another plain white envie--gotta make it pretty! :D
I'm still getting a few sign ups for February's Month of Letters and prepped more postcards to send out--click the link for more details if you're interested!
Today is Martin Luther King Day which means *BOOOO* No Mail *BOOOO*. But, alas, there are other responsibilities calling for my attention...Enjoy the holiday and I hope to see you later in the week!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Grace Awakening: Week Three, Chapter Three-Isn’t Grace Risky?

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

~Romans 6:1-2


The great risk of grace is the knowledge that we have been freed from our sins through the death and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Some might say people can then go on in their sinful living as before receiving this gift of God, after all-all is forgiven! The debt is paid! We are free to do fully as we please. And indeed we are. Whoa—like a kid let loose in the great candy store of life!


Once we believe--and that is just simple faith, not a vow to change one’s life, or a promise to give up all we have and off we go to follow Christ. There’s no carved in stone commitment to never, ever sin again. That’s not even possible. We’re still human after all. But, because of Christ’s commitment to us through His death on the cross, God declares those who believe to be righteous and justified. Then He gets to work, changing us day by day, bit by bit towards maturity and sanctification.


So, with this great privilege of living in grace, there will be some who take advantage and abuse the gift God offers. Aren’t there always people like that with any free offering? Why would grace be any different? There will be people who simply don’t value or understand what this grace cost our God. (I would encourage you to read Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest for a deeper appreciation.)


Read Romans 6:2-7

Why are people who have accepted God’s grace dead to sin? What happened that has freed us from being slaves to sin?


If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, how can knowing that you have been freed from the power of sin affect your daily life?


Side story—humor me a moment: All I can hear is Sarah’s voice in the movie Labyrinth, telling Jareth, the Goblin King, “You have no power over me!” Got that right!! And that realization shattered Jareth’s spell, Sarah was freed. As instantly as we are freed from the grip of sin the moment we believe in Christ. Sin no longer has any power over us!


Read Romans 6:8-11

When we were set free from sin through belief in Christ, our old selves-our former nature-died, never to return (can I get a “Good riddance!”?) We now live with the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, guiding and enabling us to live more like Christ. And how did He live?


As a believer, how does the fact that you are free and fully able to say no to sin and yes to God make you want to live?


Read Romans 6:12-15


If you are a believer in Jesus, you have the ability to say no to sin, but you still have the choice of whether you’ll let sin reign in your life. Even with this freedom to choose to live for God, why is it so tempting to let sin continue to reign?


When you choose to let sin reign in your life, what is the effect upon you?


When you choose to follow God and say no to sin, what is the effect of that decision in your life?


Suggestions For Living Freely and Responsibly


The freedom we have in Christ is not the freedom to do anything we want, but to be everything that God has created us to be. To be everything God created us to be, we must pursue a life of grace, not chasing our lusts but rather honoring Him with our righteousness. Such as:


Ø  Enjoy the freedom grace provides. This is a gift from God, give yourself permission to be free.

Ø  Treat grace as an undeserved privilege rather than an exclusive right. Be grateful for what God has done for you, not arrogant or demanding about it.

Ø  Remember that while grace came freely, it cost our Savior His life in a most brutal manner. We handle with care what comes at great cost. Handle your liberty that way.


God sent His only Son not just to forgive us, but also to set us free. He knew what He was doing. He knew we could learn to live responsibly in the context of liberty. He knew rules could not change us but relationship would. As we come to know “the God of all grace” we love Him all the more. We love our freedom, and in that freedom, love others. Just as God does.


If you’re just joining us, we are working our way through Charles Swindoll’s Grace Awakening and the accompanying Workbook. I’m posting a weekly chapter every Saturday. You can also listen to Mr. Swindoll’s weekly podcasts for each chapter online at his website. Click here for this week’s podcast.


Thanks again to all for stopping by. I hope you’re enjoying this message of grace as much as I am every week! Please share any thoughts or comments below—I’m always happy to hear from you! Have a great week—hope to see you back here again soon!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Workin' On It Wednesday #15

Well, that seems like a good omen--WOIW #15 as the first such post of 2015...? Yeah? I'm runnin' with it! So! It's been a super slow, super quiet week...Too cold to row. Doing speed work on the treadmill in the mornings. Long days to fill with hardly any mail to speak of. What is a girl to do? Drink coffee. Made a HUGE pot of tomato basil soup (yum!) Playing with lettering and my daily journal. I'm writing but not quite as much as I'd like--I journal every morning but I've yet to take it further. And I keep telling myself I want to draw more. Like daily. But I haven't. I did try to put together one of Michael's Minecraft Lego sets--those things are TEDIOUS! And TINY! So, I'll have to come back to that later. When I'm super patient. And super bored.

I have been having a slight panic attack over the itinerary for our youth group's trip to NYC next weekend that I (stupidly) (courageously) (idon'tknowwhatiwasthinking) volunteered to tag along with as a chaperone. Okay. I thought-"Oh cool! A chance to go to NYC! With the youth group! Very cool!" Then the letter showed up yesterday with our torture schedule....Oh man. Pray for me. One might think the prospect of sleeping on a gymnasium floor and no shower of vital importance in maybe reconsidering the coolness of a trip to NYC with the youth group. But the truly scary, or at least not so cool part is the scheduling of activities up until 2am! Oh man. Really?? As much as I like the idea of candlelight meditation and an agape feast Eucharist, I'm really not enthusiastic about the thought of doing so from 12:30-1:30am...Oh my...And then we're back up and on the road again at 7 later that morning. Maybe I can nap on the bus both ways? Not likely. I'm too much of a scenery hog. I hope someone's making coffee part of that agape feast! Sigh....

So, anyway. I did finish The Shining (which is way different from what I sort of remember from the movie version. I barely remember reading it the first time around...) But it was good--even though I had a total meltdown of the 'hotel' releasing Jack from the locked pantry so he could go kill Wendy and Danny--yeah, that's so not fair. But, they lived. He didn't. All's fair in love and Stephen King novels. Or at least, there's not a whole lot you can do about it other than rant in a blog post he'll never read. Now I am well into the sequel Dr. Sleep and loving it. More crazy Kingness!

And art wise--a quick couple pics:

The continuation of my daily journal. The Reality quote in the bottom right corner is for
 a Daisy Yellow Prompt60 to letter a creativity quote.

My Winter Love List for Pen + Peplum's #52handlettered Week Two prompt.
It was supposed to be a Summer Love List but I don't love summer so much--I'm a winter kinda girl!
I still have my Documented Faith and Life prompts to work on for the week...Will try to do something with those maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, thank you, thank you for popping on by! I hope to see you over the weekend for Chapter Three of Grace Awakening! Have a great week!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mailbox Monday Plus...

I know it's been quite a while since I've posted regularly with any kind of schedule but since starting journaling daily again, following along with my friend, Dawn's journal prompts, I'm finally gotten the writing bug once more. Hopefully this will overflow into more regular blog posting--hopefully...I think I've relied on posting to Instagram to show what I've been up to lately, but it would be nice to blog about it all again.

So first, since I've been doing so much mail arting lately, I'm planning to post weekly Mailbox Monday updates with pictures of incoming and outgoing mail, and mail challenges like my proposed Month of Letters for February (still time to sign up and join in on the fun!) Incoming mail has been ridiculously slow. I've allowed for the holidays to be an excuse the past few weeks, but now that we are well into January I thought things would be picking up again, but they're not. I'm reconsidering the one snail mail group I've been a part of this past year and whether or not I'll continue with it for 2015. To not receive a fair response for mail sent out seems like maybe postage should be spent elsewhere for more productive responses. So, that's currently under consideration...But, first a quick peek at some postcards I'm prepping for February's Month of Letters:

One of these could be coming to your mailbox if you join the fun!
Hopefully I'll have more mail to share next week but I do have some Scripture doodles to post:

And these next two are just because I wanted to share:
Gorgeous Cooper's Hawk sitting in my dogwood tree looking for a tasty sparrow dinner...

I love a good moon shot.
Okay--that's all I have for today. Stay tuned for more later in the week. Thanks for popping by--have a great Monday!