Hope is the thing . . .

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I have loved Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” ever since I read it a couple years ago while I was working on my master’s degree in education.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Hope keeps us going in the hardest of times. This poem describes hope as something that gives us what we need to go on, and it is just there, just with us. Do you ever feel like the bird in the storm, and you reach deep inside and find hope, the “thing with feathers,” is still there? In her personal life, Emily Dickinson struggled when it came to faith, but her poem speaks to me. She is one of my favorites.

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In Romans 5:3-5, Saint Paul writes about hope from a Christian perspective.

. . . but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, HOPE. And HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

When we go through hard times or feel like we are encountering one obstacle after another, it’s the Holy Spirit that can lift us up. It’s the “roar” in your spirit that says to keep going when you are walking in God’s truth.

Over the summer, I like to start each morning by reading a devotional while my son is still sleeping. As a teacher, the school year demands more than anyone (except other teachers) could ever really imagine; I am very thankful to have a job that impacts so many lives, but it does mean I must fill my own tank so that I can meet the needs of those who are in my classroom. Every summer that I have chosen to start my morning with a devotional, I have not been disappointed. This summer, I decided to read a chapter from I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is by Michele Cushatt each morning. I highly recommend it. Another good one that I read one summer was None Like Him: Ten Ways God is Different from Us (and why that’s a good thing) by Jen Wilkin. I highly recommend that one as well. For Christians, spending time in the word opens us up for communication from the Holy Spirit, and it is absolutely necessary in this world of obstacles.

This morning, my devotional included the following thought about the Latin meanings behind the word inspire.

To inspire . . . has of course the stem spir in it. It is, very literally, to give or put spirit into someone. To inspire someone is way more than making them happy or amazed or even making them feel good. It is to lend them spirit when they are short. And of course because of the incorporeal nature of both air and spirit, the act of inhaling also became known as inspiration. In that sense too: it is like mechanical ventilation for a soul that’s lost its resolve for a moment.

The devotional points to how the Holy Spirit inspires us. Titus 3:4-6 says:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously.

For Christians, the “thing” that communicates what we need, that stirs the hope in our souls, is the Holy Spirit. When we ask Christ into our lives, truly believe in him for the forgiveness of sins, and seek to follow Him — when we become Christ-followers — we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are not promised an easy life, but we can see how perseverance builds character. It gives hope a chance to break through.

If we are truly in God’s word, not everything that we read will be sunshine, moonbeams, and easy-breezy. It challenges us. Some of the truths are hard. I experienced that this summer as I read through the book of Romans. Sometimes we need to persevere even in reading the word. Even the truths we struggle through are ultimately good ones. There are days when reading God’s word might not make you feel good, but keep going. Pray about it. In with the hard truths, God is shaping something beautiful that is for our good.

Go forward in hope today!

Teresa

Bible Journaling Challenge: Find a verse about hope or the Holy Spirit that speaks to you, and create a page about it in your Journaling Bible. You could just write out the verse, or you could illustrate it with something meaningful to you. If you are not sure what verse to use, Romans 5:3-5 is a good one.

 

 

Grand Canyon + Journaling Bible = An Epic Bible Journaling Journey

restoreWhat do you get when you open your Journaling Bible to reflect on a bucket list experience? It’s an epic Bible Journaling Journey! For me, that experience was my family’s trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona this summer. A couple spots at the Grand Canyon had short verses, mainly from Psalm, posted at them, so in honor of that, I decided to use a passage from Psalm for my Bible journaling page. I thought of how the trip felt like a restorative time of admiring God’s creation.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Psalm 23:3

The expanse of rock has etched itself unforgettably into my memories. The canyon seems to go on and on in a way that the mind almost cannot make sense of at first. As I stood and gazed from many view points, including Hermit’s Rest, Desert View, and the area near the Bright Angel Lodge, I had to remind myself that what I was seeing was real. I heard others around me say it too: I have to keep telling myself this is not a scene from a movie or a picture of Mars. It is real, and my mind cannot completely wrap itself around it.

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Do I mind feeling small? Not really. I know I am small in the *grand* scheme of life. Yet, I have a God who created something so wild and beautiful that it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. Do I know exactly how He did it? Nope. I am okay with that (even though it sounds like Grand Canyon Ministries has some theories if I decide to seek that out). Just experiencing the beauty was plenty to fill my heart and mind for now.

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As you view the canyon from different spots, it takes on whole new looks and shows different parts of its personality. For me, Desert View in the early morning was my very, very favorite. We woke up at 4 a.m. to get there really early before the crowds, way before the Desert View tower opens to visitors. Seeing it in the quiet of morning was so spectacular. For me, personally, the views that included the river were always my favorite because they looked more refreshing.

Hermits Rest View

My second favorite spot was Hermit’s Rest because we made it there on our very first day at the canyon in the extreme heat of the day — and it really felt like a restful spot. My son took a nap on my husband in front of the giant fireplace that Mary Colter (an architect who left a beautiful mark on the south rim with a few structures that seem to pair really well with the particular view where she placed them) designed while I walked away from the crowds to see some beautiful views. Yes, you might be noticing, I am not a huge “crowds” person (lol). Introvert alert. The nice thing is that the canyon is so big, and if you time it right, you don’t really have to be overwhelmed by crowds. I never felt like it was really crowded, even at the peak times, but it just took longer to wait for the free buses to have room for riders.

My words and the pictures cannot do the Grand Canyon justice. Pictures cannot really capture it.

It’s not the perfect place. It is really, really hot this time of year. Even the bugs don’t want to live there because it’s so hot (seriously, don’t bother packing bug spray this time of year). We literally saw dead prickly pear cacti. It was so dry that even some of the cacti were dying! For me, it felt like a place of extremes — extreme heat, extreme beauty, extreme heights, extremely harsh in some aspects. I am used to living in a place where it rains a lot, so it was just different for me in that way. The dry heat dried out my nose, throat, and skin to the point that I wished I had a good saline spray and body lotion with me; it also gave my son nose bleeds by the end of the week. Yet, less-than-ideal aspects still felt small in relation to what we were getting to experience.

We saw lots of elk — their stature is regal compared to the deer I am used to seeing — and also jack rabbits with tall ears, squirrels that looked a little different from the ones at home, and one long horned sheep that was on the move. Besides the canyon itself, a highlight of the trip for us was seeing lots of pueblo ruins from the 1100s. In America, our opportunities to see historic sites rarely go back that far. It gave me chills to walk along the different ruins and think about how this was someone’s home long ago. We went to the Wupatki and Wukoki pueblos, along with the Tusayan ruins close to the canyon, and the dwellings of Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff. These structures are still recent compared to the history and people we read of in the Bible.

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Sometimes I like to think about how many other people throughout history have walked the same paths that I am walking; in the Bible we can think about the spiritual paths people have taken, how they are similar or different from our own. It creates a sense of connection.

Bible Journaling Challenge: Think of a place or time that you felt restored. The New International Version of the verse says “refreshes.” Looking at Psalm 23, create a journaling page based on a memory of being restored or refreshed. Especially in the heat of summer or in a “desert season” in your life, the moments of refreshment are encouraging.

 

 

 

Speaking of Delight

My One Word Resolution for 2018 is delight, so if you notice me Bible journaling about delight a lot, it’s not just a coincidence! Each year, I pray that God would place a word on my heart for me to focus on that year and that He would reveal more of Himself to me through that word. A lot of beautiful scriptures have come to my attention for “delight.” I first heard this particular scripture, Zephaniah 3:17, when I was listening to a podcast about a month ago. On these pages, I tried to capture how the verse makes me feel when I read it. The thought of God rejoicing over His people with singing is so amazing. I used gelatos, a silver sharpie, and ink, all sealed with Mod Podge (you have to use a light touch when you seal gelatos or they will smear like lipstick). As always, I value being able to see all of the scriptures underneath, so my gelatos are light enough for me to still read all of the words. I like the idea of writing “in you” across the girl’s forehead that is just peeking out in the picture. If you look really closely, you can see that I also wrote Isaiah 62:4 on the page because I feel like these two verses go well together.

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So, as I view this page, I will go ahead and say that God has been walking me through some pretty hard times lately. I went through something in my personal life that was tough two weeks ago, and I am also going through physical pain from a car accident (it was not a bad accident, but this pain has been hanging around for about a month). Looking back at the memoirs my grandmother wrote before she died in her 90s, I know that she went through the same thing that I experienced at one point as well. That brings me some comfort, even though it is still hard. I can’t stress the importance of memory-keeping and the power of our words enough; this next generation will need truth more than ever, just the way my grandmother’s words came back to me at the right moment, and the way the Holy Spirit seems to bring the right verses when I need them. Bible Journaling is a way to get the Word into your heart so that the Holy Spirit can bring the verses to your mind when you need them. This life is not easy; the scriptures are an anchor, an encouragement, a refuge, and a defense. It never ceases to amaze me how the Holy Spirit communicates, whether it’s through Charles Stanley or Andy Stanley (wow, both of them are amazing in their own ways!), through how nature itself works, through something my son says, through something my grandmother wrote, through the still small voice that sometimes comes during prayer, or through a scripture I hear in a podcast.

Today, I am choosing to focus on God’s promises for those who believe in Him. How else are we going to rise above worry, discouragement, criticism, and all the other things that are intended to hold us down? Despite of what’s going on around me, I know God is working.

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P.S. I just watched the I Am Woman Conference this weekend, and the messages from Nicole Crank, DeeDee Freeman, and Lysa TerKeurst were so powerful. If this conference is ever on Daystar again or online in some form, I would definitely recommend checking it out! If you live near West Palm Beach (lucky you!!), the conference is coming to your area.

Bible Journaling Challenge #7: Think of a word you would like to explore through Bible Journaling. Some ideas are joy, hope, confident, or even delight. Look up Bible verses that have the word in them, and pick one that speaks to you the most. Look up the word from the verse in the original Hebrew or Greek. If you are a “word person,” this could be meaningful for you.

 

Spiritual Memory Keeping

 

When I was a girl, my Grandma Eckstine would often give me a palm leaf in the shape of a cross from her church on Palm Sunday. Grandma Eckstine is the person who comes to mind first when I think of spiritual heritage. She lived her life with great faith and passed that faith on to a very long line of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. As Palm Sunday approached this year, my mind kept going back to that cross-shaped palm leaf grandma would give me as a girl.

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Nowadays, my family goes to a non-denominational church that celebrates the major Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas, but many events on the traditional church calendar are not directly celebrated. In other words, we will have a big Easter or Christmas service, but many people in the congregation have probably ever heard of Maundy Thursday. I had not heard of many of the church holidays myself until I was reading A Homemade Year by Jerusalem Jackson Greer about a year ago. My grandma, on the other hand, faithfully attended a Lutheran church where Palm Sunday was a regularly observed part of the church year.

 

Anyway, back to the palm leaf. It was really on my mind this year. I knew my family would be travelling to take my son on a special Easter Bunny train ride. As our family took off on our road trip toward the bunny train, I prayed that God would bring us to a church where we could celebrate Palm Sunday in a more traditional way this year. Deep down, I really wanted my son hold a palm leaf in his little hands. The further we drove down the road, the more that it seemed like our timing was not going to be right in order to go to a service anywhere and still make it to the train in time.

I did some Googling and praying as we went down the road, and our family parked outside a United Methodist church in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, with literally no time to spare. We walked in and sat in the back row. I hoped my son would be quiet in this traditional service. As the service unfolded, sure enough, my son walked back to our pew with a palm leaf that I later folded into the shape of a cross. The entire service was beautiful. It really got our family into the mindset of the Easter season. Walking out of the church where we didn’t know a single soul, I smiled and silently thanked God for bringing us to such a lovely, meaningful service.

To commemorate that memory, along with the memory of my grandma giving me palm leaf crosses as a girl, I created a page in my Journaling Bible. Everything is attached with clear tape and washi tape so that it can be folded up and away from the words on the page. I can still read every word underneath. Plus, now I will have a page to remind me of Palm Sunday 2018. After creating this page, I am already thinking about other spiritual memories that I would like to commemorate in my Journaling Bible as well. When it comes to spiritual memories, I think it is important to write things down and memory-keep because we really do tend to forget.

A Bible Passage About Remembering . . . 

Joshua 4:4-7 4So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

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Bible Journaling Challenge: Do you have a spiritual memory that you could commemorate in your Journaling Bible? For my memory-keeping page, I included the dried palm leaf that I folded into a cross and parts of that day’s church bulletin that I cut out and painted with simple watercolors.

Have a wonderful week! 🙂

May Giveaway

 

cross-3080144_960_720Here comes the giveaway that I mentioned when Bible Journaling Journey launched last month. I am giving away a Journaling Bible or a gift card to a store of your choice. Simply follow my blog, and leave me a note on my contact page that includes your name and the best way to get in touch with you. Also let me know if you want the Journaling Bible or a gift card. I will draw a name on May 31. While you’re emailing me, I would love to hear about you and what you might be interested in learning about on Bible Journaling Journey. Even though Bible Journaling Journey is not on social media, I will give you extra entries if you let me know you’ve shared the site (or this giveaway) in some way online. Thanks for entering!

The Joy of Velcro (and Bears)

Today I’m going to share how I made the cover of my Journaling Bible extra unique. The secret — yes — velcro! I bought the little teal cross at Hobby Lobby for about four bucks because I thought it would look awesome on the front of my Journaling Bible. Then I started thinking about how the pages would not lay flat for me to write and draw if I decided to have a huge cross glued to the front. Fortunately, velcro came to mind. It was super fun to ask people, “How do you think this cross is attached to my Bible?” and then do the little show-and-tell this week. You’re never too old for show-and-tell. Speaking of show-and-tell, I saw this guy as I was driving to work last week.

 

 

It was amazing to sit in my car and watch this bear for about five minutes. I had never seen a bear while I was driving before (even though I did have one come in the yard with me one time while I was reading a magazine). Seeing the bear was one of my big praises for the week. I always marvel at God’s creation (preferably from a safe distance, haha).

Challenge #5: Do something in your Journaling Bible that will bring you joy this week. Maybe you’ll choose to velcro a cross onto the front like me, or maybe you have something else in mind that will make you smile when you look at it.

Do you know what Hephzibah means?

 

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I created this “she” portrait during the second day of Flourish Bible Journaling Conference. It says “Hephzibah. She is . . . Redeemed.” 

 

My delight is in her. That is what Hephzibah means in Hebrew. In Isaiah 62, that is what God says He is going to call Israel — and when I read the scripture today, I think of all of us who are true followers and believers in Christ.

Isaiah 62 itself starts out by describing Israel’s poor standing because of mistakes made in the past, but the prophetic message is that Israel will be restored.

. . . you will be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
    a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No longer will they call you Deserted,
    or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
    and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
    and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman,
    so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
    so will your God rejoice over you.                                            Isaiah 62:2-5 NIV

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The word picture here is so beautiful. I am not a Bible scholar, just a Christian who is learning more about God’s word as I Bible journal, so I would encourage you to do your own study into the passage. If you really want to dig in, here is a commentary that was written in an understandable way, and here is another good commentary. Yet, what I am seeing here is a prophecy that Israel would overcome a historical time of shame and also that Christ would come (Isaiah is a book in the Old Testament), and I am also seeing a picture of the church as the bride of Christ (an idea that is presented in the Gospels and Revelation later in the New Testament).

Hephzibah — my delight is in her.

Those words bring me so much joy in my soul. God can take what is broken and desolate, and he can see the promise in it, even at times when no one else can. He can change hearts and bring growth. This verse makes me think about mistakes that I made in my Christian walk in my early twenties, and it reminds me that God has forgiven me. It reminds me of how far he has brought me in my journey.

The word delight shows me of how deeply he cares. My wedding anniversary is this month, so I think of the bride I was many years ago and the wife that I am for my own husband. Yet, the love that we have cannot compare to the enduring love of Christ for the church.

I was reading Isaiah 61-62 before church two Sundays ago, and Isaiah 61:7 stood out to me too:

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.                                                         Isaiah 61:7 NIV

So often, God in his grace gives to his followers beyond what we deserve. “Double portion” stood out to me. When I took communion later that morning, two pieces of bread were sticking together. Not realizing it, I took them both. As I felt the bread in my hand, I realized I literally had a “double portion,” which brought a smile to my face as I remembered the verse.

What I want to leave you with today is that, as a believer, God treasures you.

she is portrait 2Challenge #4: Create a piece of art or a page in your Journaling Bible that celebrates how God sees you as a believer in him. Include a verse or words that speak to you. Hint: Day Two of the Flourish Bible Journaling Conference has an excellent tutorial from Scripture Doodle on how to create a “she” portrait.

 

Turning Your Journey into a Legacy

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Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Whether you are a stay at home mom who could use some encouragement or a working mom who feels like you need a break from the to-do list, Bible journaling is a spiritual practice that can renew you and remind you of how God sees you — even when your day-to-day routine might leave you feeling unseen or under-appreciated. Getting yourself into a good spiritual mindset will impact how you interact with your family.

A good process to get you started is to pray, read the scriptures, ask what the scriptures are communicating to you or showing you about God, and then create your Bible journaling page based on that. All of the washi tape and bling are fun, but you can do this with a regular art sketchbook and your child’s colored pencils if that’s easier on your budget. For me – the huge literature geek that I am – looking up the words of verses in their original Hebrew or Greek and then considering the original meaning of the verses is one of my favorite ways to gain insight as I journal.

Bible Journaling with Your Family

Bible journaling together as a family is a cool idea, but you will want to keep the age of your children in mind. A younger child (like my Pre-K son) will do better with a sketchbook than a Journaling Bible. After all, you will want to teach your child to honor the Word; a younger child might have trouble understanding why it’s okay to color in the margin but not on the words. I know some people feel okay about covering up the words in the Bible when they journal, but I am not one of those people (I still like to look at what they are creating, but I personally do not want to cover the verses). When adults color over the words, hopefully they are still taking the words to heart, while young children might not have the understanding that they are covering sacred words. Teaching your child verses and truths through Bible journaling is so commendable, but respect and reverence are important to communicate too. A great option is teaching your child to do tip-ins with paper and washi tape (you can find how to make a tip-in online pretty easily, but ask me about it if you have questions). The child can write and draw on the tip-in, and it will fold up to still reveal all of the words.

Middle school aged children do great with Bible journaling. I know this because I lead a small Bible journaling club for middle school students. This is the type of template that we use often. The students draw and watercolor, and then we glue the template into the margin (Or use it as a tip-in. Yes, I really like tip-ins). Since Bible journaling incorporates prayer, reading the Word, and thinking about the Word, it is a great opportunity to communicate your faith when you do this together. Yet, Bible journaling as a family has a different dynamic than using Bible journaling alone as a quiet time. The quiet, alone times are important too.

Thinking Long Term

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Just as family Bibles used to be passed down in families, think about your Journaling Bible as something that you can use to communicate spiritual heritage. It could be passed down in your family someday. Seeing Bible verses in your handwriting could be a beautiful moment for the next generation. I plan to dedicate a page to my spiritual heritage through my grandma soon; she was a devout woman who loved God with all her heart. Even if the art is not always perfect (or even if it’s pretty bad), it is a tangible connection to you and your spiritual journey. Remember to write down times that God answers your prayers or He teaches you something new.

Join Me on the Bible Journaling Journey

Please join me by following Bible Journaling Journey via email or WordPress Reader. I plan on doing a giveaway next month. I hope to see you here!

Challenge #3: Think about how you can create a legacy with your Bible journaling. Pray about how God can help you use it to communicate your faith or to put you in the right mindset to make a real impact wherever you are.

A Fun Faith Challenge for Creative Types Like Us

I thought there were some excellent ideas for worshipping God in this post that I’m sharing from Truly Beautiful. Even though it’s not a Bible Journaling post, I could definitely see these ideas as inspiration for us creative Christians. Check it out!creative-worship

For the month of May, I want to spend time intentionally seeking the Lord. Below is a rough outline of some things I am challenging myself to and I hope you’ll join me! Have a great day and happy May! ❤ M A Y. (1.) Wake up earlier than normal and spend time with the […]

via May Challenge // Intentionally Seeking Him Challenge. — Truly Beautiful

Check This Out!

Bible-Journaling-Conference-Logo-_3_The Flourish Bible Journaling Conference is being offered online right now. I’m not affiliated with the conference, but I am attending it via my cellphone! I just watched the Day One videos and thought they were fantastic. I am looking forward to what’s going to be offered for Day Two. I’m attending the free conference option because I’m a #poorschoolteacher. The site also has a beautiful free printable that you can use in your Journaling Bible by creating a tip-in with washi tape (the conference videos will teach you how to do that). I plan on using the printable with the students in my after-school Bible Journaling Club this week and showing them how to use it as a tip-in for their Bibles! Yay for free stuff, and a huge kudos to the women who are offering their wisdom, skills, and spirit-filled words in the videos.