Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Musings - The Lineage of Christ

I am always struck by the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1. Verses 1 through 17 list the generations from Abraham to Jesus, 42 generations in all, and only 5 women are mentioned.

Knowing that Jesus is the Messiah, we might expect these to be the most righteous and pure women. However, a closer look reminds us that God can use everyone to fulfill His purposes, regardless of their past.

Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah. She disguised herself as a prostitute in order to lure Judah to sleep with her so that she could bear a child in Judah's line.

Rahab was the prostitute who helped the Israelite spies escape from Jericho by lowering them out the window.

Ruth was a Moabitess who married an Israelite. After she was widowed, she followed her bitter mother-in-law back to Bethlehem. She gleaned barley in the field (gleanings were leftovers after a crop was harvested and were reserved for the poor and the foreigner).

Bathsheba was the wife of another man when King David summoned her to him. After King David had her husband, Uriah, killed in battle, she become one of his wives.

Each of these women had things in their past that we might tend to judge harshly. Even in the church today, we might feel that these women are not "good" enough to serve or lead. Yet, God, who looks at the heart, not only used these women to fulfill His promise of a Messiah, He also ensured they were remembered by having Matthew include them in the lineage of Jesus!

The fifth woman mentioned is Mary, the mother of Jesus. She stands in stark contrast to the others as she is a young girl, a virgin betrothed to Joseph. When the angel first appears to her, she is afraid, yet she submits to the will of the Lord and says, "I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

Have you made poor choices in the past? Have you had bad things happen to you that make you feel unworthy? These things don't have to preclude you from serving the Lord or being used for His purposes! Go to Him with an open heart and be willing to submit to His will.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Five on Friday - How Traveling Makes It Real

A weekly feature here on my blog sharing five FRESH random photos (or thoughts or interesting tidbits) from the week.

This week I've been preparing for an interview with my new friend Zanny, owner of Zanur Travel and the Fearless Female Traveller Facebook Group. I'll be sharing about How Traveling Makes It Real based on the five points below.

1. Visiting a place makes it real!

No matter how many photos or documentaries I'd seen, nothing prepared me for the vastness and beauty of the Grand Canyon. I was completely awed at the sheer magnitude of this natural wonder. After spending a day hiking along the South Rim Trail, this place is much more real to me than it was when I'd only read about it or seen photos taken by someone else.

While we can learn a lot by reading and studying history, actually visiting historical sites helps us remember and understand even more about the past. Before we visited Gettysburg a few years ago, I read The Killer Angels, a well-researched fictionalized account of the Battle of Gettysburg, and we watched the Gettysburg movie. However, when I stood on the actual battlefield, it seemed so much more real and it was easier to comprehend how that battle became one of the bloodiest engagements of the Civil War.

2. Traveling increases the real enjoyment we get from reading or watching movies or TV shows. 

For example, after we visited New York in 2007, there were a slew of end-of-the-world movies set in New York City. It was so FUN to see the camera pan by places we'd just visited. And when Tony Stark sat down by the box of pizza Obadiah brought him from New York (in the Iron Man movie), we both recognized the box and our mouths watered wishing for a slice of Famous Ray's pizza.

3. Real experiences give us better understanding.

After visiting large cities like New York and London, I have a greater appreciation of the challenges and conveniences of public transportation. Before those trips, it was difficult for me to imagine not owning and driving my own vehicle wherever I lived. However, having mastered the intricacies of subway and bus and train schedules in several cities and countries, I now have a real understanding of how others live and get around in those areas. (Well, maybe saying that I "mastered" public transportation is taking it a bit far . . . since there was that time that I got on the right subway train in New York . . . but it was going in the wrong direction!)

4. Visiting other countries (and even other states!) gives us a FRESH perspective on different cultures.  

When I accompanied Robbie on a business trip several years ago, we visited a small  town in Italy and discovered that all the restaurants close after lunch and don't reopen until dinner time! This was quite an unfortunate predicament when we arrived at our hotel tired and hungry at 2:30 in the the afternoon. (Fortunately, the hotel chef whipped up a few sandwiches to tide us over and the manager had a complimentary fruit tray sent up to our room.) Earlier on that same trip, we spent a week in Moscow, Russia, where I entered a whole new world for me - one where English was not the predominant language. Luckily, our pastor here in Texas knew a pastor in Moscow and they arranged for one of the English-speaking Moscow church members to be our tour guide the day Robbie was not working.

5. Traveling develops real friendships!

In the digital always-connected world we live in, we often develop friendships with people we've never met in person. Over my eight years of blogging, I have come to know other bloggers from around the world. We read about each other's lives and leave comments and send emails and even exchange (often handmade) Christmas cards. But it's even more FUN when we finally get to meet in person. Over the years I've met up with Cheri (in Texas and Pennsylvania) and Karen (in New York) and Ginger (in Edmonton). And on our Europe trip a few months ago, I finally met four of my overseas blog friends (Ruth, Becky, Jacky & Missus Wookie) in person for lunch in London! We had a fabulous time - it was just like sitting down with old friends for a long overdue get-together.

I also got to meet-up with a group of ladies from The Sheerah Network Facebook group! A huge thank you goes out to Naomi Aidoo, coach & teacher for purpose-driven female Christian leaders & entrepreneurs, who specially coordinated this event with our travel schedule! (In fact, Zanny met up with Robbie and I earlier that day and we enjoyed lunch and several hours of sightseeing, which I'll share about in a future post.)

Yes, you see, traveling really does make it FRESH and real!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Three Wall Groupings

Do you have things hanging on your walls that you never really notice anymore? These may be things that you truly like or that have special meaning, but over time have simply begun to gather dust and go unnoticed.

As I began to clean out, organize, and give our office a FRESH look this week, I realized that it had been a while since I'd enjoyed or paid much attention to the items hanging in there. So, I took a long look at the things hanging on the walls . . . and the piles of thing that had been taken down from that room and others . . . and ended up creating three wall groupings that already give the room a FRESH feel.

Over the desk, I grouped items that have significance for the two of us.This group began with the clock (a gift from my sister years ago) and the shelf below holding items that are meaningful to us. I included our first (and only) professional portrait, a framed Marriage Blessing given to us by my parents as a wedding gift, a framed scripture given to us by my friend Rita when we moved into this home, a banner we received at the Marriage Encounter weekend we attended our first year of marriage, and a beautiful framed photo we received from friends who stayed with us for a week while they were in between homes many years ago.

The second grouping hangs over the file cabinets. Most of these items have been hanging here for years, but I tightened up the grouping (after giving everything a good dusting). My high school diploma and cum laude certificate and my two diplomas reside here with photos from each graduation, my tassels, Beta Gamma Sigma stole, and a handmade (by my sister Brenda) sign that reads, "The tassel is worth the hassle."

There's a short angled wall right inside the door that now holds a few items that are special to me. The gorgeous painting, the framed sky photo/scripture, and the plaque all represent my time volunteering, coordinating the annual fundraising banquet, and serving on the Board of Directors for the Christ For India missionary organization. The "No Greater Love" framed print was a gift from the ladies who allowed me to teach/lead my very first women's Bible study back in 2004. And the small cross piece was a gift from a student my last day of teaching at Stephen F. Austin State University. This grouping will probably be adjusted and/or added to as I'm sure there are a few more similar items in the boxes and piles that have accumulated in this room!

Joining in this week with Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday - an effort to notice more of the ordinary in our lives. The idea is to take photos that are linked some how; by theme, by color, by date, by moment, by points of view. What have you noticed this week?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bible Journaling Word Challenge

I've shared several times (most notably here and here) about the various places I find INSPIRATION for Bible journaling. Last year I joined in a few times with Marissa's Word A Day Challenge. (I shared my page based on the word image in a post here.)

I think this is a FUN way to test my Biblical knowledge and to study the scriptures. I enjoy finding scriptures that relate to the word for the day, then reading and illustrating those verses. Here's a look at three of my pages.

bloom - This word just begged for a flower (or lots of flowers), which perfectly illustrated Psalm 72:7.

revelation - I flipped through the book of Revelation and decided to trace the scroll from the Favorites One & Dones to illustrate Revelation 5:1-10.

Abraham - There are so many lessons we can learn from Abraham. I chose to create a reminder about his righteousness from Genesis 15:6.

What word would you use to challenge yourself (or someone else) to research and illustrate in the Word?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Slavery With a Twist

In my quest to read all the Fiction Pulitzer Prize winners, there have been several books about slavery. However, the two I recently completed each include a little twist that made it different from previous reads.


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is last year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize. The twist in this novel is that there's an actual railroad underground that takes runaway slaves to depots run by station masters that are individuals helping and hiding slaves on their way north to freedom. The story follows Cora, who runs away from a plantation in Georgia with her friend Caesar.  At one point, they stop in South Carolina, where they are given jobs and apartments. However, Cora learns that the hospital wants to sterilize all blacks, so she retreats underground and takes a train to the next station. The story captures some of the other atrocities  (beatings, killings, etc) of the slave trade at that time as well.There's also a slave catcher named Ridgeway who shows up several times in pursuit of escaped slaves. Fortunately, Cora eventually ends up on a farm in Indiana with other runaways. When the farm is overrun by those wanting to capture and return the slaves, she escapes and joins a group of wagons going west. This is a well-written, engaging, and fairly quick read.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones is the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner. This story is set in the mid-1850s in a fictional county in the state of Virginia. The twist in this novel is that it is about a free black man, Henry Townsend, who owns slaves. The story begins on Henry's plantation, but there are many story lines that meander around throughout the book. There are references to events in the past and things that happen in the future. It was sometimes difficult to keep up with the numerous characters: August & Mildred Townsend (Henry's parents who worked to earn their own and Henry's freedom), Moses (the overseer on Henry's plantation), Fern (a free black lady who could pass herself off as white, but instead owns slaves and has a school for free black children), John Skiffington (the white sheriff who oversees the slave patrollers), William Robbins (the largest slave owner in the country), and many more! This book is very well-written, although as always it was tough to read about the treatment of slaves from their masters, in this case white and black masters.

Have you read either of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Musings - Bright Morning Star

In Revelation 22:16, Jesus says, "I have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendent of David, the bright morning star."

I like to think about Jesus as the bright morning star, guiding me day by day, giving me FRESH insight as I dive into the Word in my quest to continually draw closer to Him and encourage others to serve Him in their everyday lives.

(I recently shared a step-by-step tutorial showing how I created this page with my newsletter subscribers. You can check out that tutorial HERE and/or sign up for my newsletter HERE.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Five on Friday

A new weekly feature here on my blog sharing five FRESH random photos (or thoughts or interesting tidbits) from the week.

1. I'm excited to report that I have enjoyed a piece of FRESH fruit every day this year! Yes, I know that's only 12 days so far, but, honestly, it's probably more FRESH fruit than I had in all of last year. So, a great start to my goal of eating lots more FRESH food this year!

2. Today and tomorrow I'm teaching a FRESH Start Bible Journaling Class here at my home. Everything is all set, and I'm looking forward to diving into the Word and sharing about a FRESH start, new beginnings, setting goals, and walking in God's calling.

3. Early this week, I opened registration for my February Bible Journaling Class. Check out all the details HERE.

4. I have pulled a notebook and papers for my 2018 One Little Word album and am working through the January prompt in the One Little Word class. I'll be sharing more as I get the album setup.

5. Last weekend, we watched The Mountain Between Us on demand because we missed it when it was in theaters last year. The movie was OK - the storyline was great, but Kate Winslet and Idris Elba were not able to pull off the chemistry that was needed to make this a fantastic movie. However, Robbie discovered the movie is based on a book that is supposed to be really good. He ordered us a copy, so I'll let you know my thoughts on that in a future post.

Do you enjoy FRESH fruit daily? Are you taking (or teaching) any in-person classes of any type this year? Did you sign up for Ali Edward's One Little Word workshop? Have you see The Mountain Between Us? Or read the book?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bible Journaling - Inserts & Tip-Ins

While I enjoying illustrating and coloring and painting and journaling FRESH insights and prayers in the Word, not everyone feels comfortable writing or drawing in their Bible. Yet, the idea of using their creativity while diving into the Word and drawing closer to the Lord appeals to them. One solution to this dilemma is to use inserts and tip-ins as a space to be creative within the Word.

I'm not sure if there are special or separate definitions for these items, but I classify them by where/how they are added in to the Bible. For me, an insert is the addition of a page (or partial page or tag or card) that is adhered in between two pages. My favorite insert is an old hymnal page. I illustrated the page below using stencils, colored pencils, gelatos and Micron pens, then inserted it with a strip of washi tape.

I recently added another hymnal page insert to my journaling Bible. Beside the story of Christ's birth, I added a hymn about Jesus and included some of the words to the song Mary Did You Know with letter stickers.

Vellum works well for creating insert pages as well. (I shared a vellum page insert previously in this post.) At the Illustrated Faith Retreat I attended earlier this year, one of the very talented ladies (Emily) in attendance was inspired by the cows and painted a wonderful canvas for Shanna Noel. She gave Shanna permission to share a digital copy of the painting with those of us at the retreat, so I printed it out on a sheet of vellum and added the retreat scripture and a short prayer using Micron pens.

I consider a tip-in something that is added to the edge of a Bible page. During that same retreat, several of the ladies gifted each participant with a handmade tag. I've added some of these to my Bible. This lovely washi tape tag created by my new friend Karen is adhered to the top of the Bible page above the Psalm 27 scripture that was the focus of the retreat.

My new friend Tiffani created this next tag - isn't it just so FUN!

After coloring in the stamped image, I adhered this tag near the edge of a Bible page using washi tape.

Here's a look at the back of the tag, when it's tipped-out. I painted over the back to match the gold paperclip and provide a place for my prayer and the words to one of the hymns we sang that weekend. (Tiffani was the worship leader!)

I used 3x4 Project Life cards to create simple tip-ins for each of the ladies. I adhered mine to the edge of the page.

I didn't add anything to the back of this colorful card.

I've had several participants in my Bible journaling classes who are much more comfortable using inserts and tip-ins than writing or drawing in the Word. And I'm thrilled that there are so many options for using our creativity in the Word, because it's not about the art - it's about spending time with the Lord in the Word, learning and studying and drawing closer to Him! There's not a right or a wrong way in this meaningful hobby, so we can each find a way that we are comfortable illustrating and journaling in our Bibles.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Last month, Becky and her daughter, Penny, put out an #AdventSelfieADay challenge for December 1 through the 24. I joined in and shared my selfies on Facebook each day for the first 20 days.

I really enjoyed the challenge of taking a photo each day and the FUN of adapting the prompt when necessary. For example, the December 10 prompt was "Christmas Baking." Since Robbie and I were traveling that day, there wasn't any baking going on around here. So, I snapped a photo of my hand holding a cookie that I was fixin' to enjoy as we drove down the road!

I edited all of my photos in Photoshop so I could crop them square and use a FUN double frame. This week I created my first layout of the year - a simple digital layout that perfectly showcases those photos.

Journaling reads: I didn't quite make it all 24 days, but I thoroughly enjoyed participating in Becky & Penny's AdventSelfieADay challenge. These photos definitely provide a FUN snapshot of our ACTIVE December.

Did you join in with the #AdventSelfieADay challenge?

Monday, January 8, 2018

52CCT1 January Sketch

As I mentioned last week, I'm hoping to join in with some of the Christmas Card Throwdown weekly challenges this year. The first week of each month is a sketch challenge.

I pulled a few items from my Christmas stash, along with some paper scraps to create my first cards this year. I put my center square together and chose card bases from my stash.

I followed the sketch pretty closely for each card.

I'm very happy with the way each of these turned out! Here's a closer look at the one I'm submitting for the challenge.

Ok, so this is officially the earliest I've ever started creating Christmas cards (last year it was much later in January)! 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Musings - A FRESH Heart

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." This verse speaks to those who are “in Christ”, those who believe in Him, His death and His resurrection. One of the synonyms of FRESH (my word for 2018) is "new," so we see here that when we believe in Christ, we are a FRESH creation.

Of course, being a new creation does not mean that we are perfect or have it all together. We are still human beings in need of grace and forgiveness on a regular basis. In Psalm 51:10, David cries out to the Lord saying, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." We, too, can can cry out to the Lord for a FRESH heart and a right spirit.

God gives us grace and mercy for a FRESH start each day. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us that, "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."

So many things change, but the Lord's mercies and His goodness and His grace remain the same. Hebrews 11:8 reminds us, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Isn't it wonderful to know that we can receive FRESH grace and mercy and forgiveness from a Lord who never changes?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sightseeing Saturday - Clinton Presidential Library

Sightseeing Saturday - a new weekly feature sharing some of the sights we've visited in our travels.

On our way to Tennessee for Christmas last month, we stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas, to visit The William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

This is the fourth presidential library we've visited. Each one is unique, but so far they've all had a replica of the Oval Office.

It's interesting to see how the different presidents decorated this room, and, of course we enjoy having our photo taken at the president's desk. (See our photo at President George H.W. Bush's Library HERE and President George W. Bush's Library HERE.)

President Clinton's Library also includes a reconstruction of the White House Cabinet Room.

A 1993 Cadillac Fleet Presidential Limousine is on display in the lobby.

And upstairs there's an elegant table set . . .

with beautiful White House china & silver & crystal.

The main part of the building is a long room of exhibits. We didn't have a lot of time to spend browsing and reading all the information in each of the exhibits, but we enjoyed our walk-through. I didn't remember that President Clinton played the saxophone until I saw this display of instruments that had been given to him.

There are alcoves all along the outside of this two-story room with exhibits covering a wide variety of topics.

The middle of the room (shown on the right in the photo above) also holds memorabilia from President Clinton's years in the White House. There are letters and notes to and from the President & Mrs. Clinton in those glass display cases.

The other side of that display shows photos and newsreels from each of the eight years of the Clinton presidency, along with a set of notebooks.

These notebooks hold the president's daily schedule (with some items redacted for security purposes) for each month of the year.

Did you notice the wood & blue columns all along the room?

They go from floor to (second story) ceiling and contain archive boxes filled with White House correspondence.

Here's a view looking down the room from the second story.

There was also one exhibit outside that I especially enjoyed - the Anne Frank Tree Installation!

In the middle is a sapling taken from the white horse chestnut tree that stood outside the Anne Frank House that Robbie and I visited a few months ago in Amsterdam.

There are currently 13 Presidential Libraries operated by the National Archives. They are spread from California to Maine. Have you visited any of them?