How God Created Hope Through A Gift Made of Wood

canstockphoto5566143It wasn’t the first time God has used a piece of wood to speak to me. Years ago, it was the story of His Son hanging on a tree, taking on all my sin, that gave me true hope for the first time in my life, resulting in eternal life. And an abundant one, too.

Part of the abundant life, I’m learning, is celebrating the small but creative ways God personally makes Himself known to us.

By now you know the unfolding story of our upcoming move, Lord willing, to the country. We believe He is leading us to a spacious {not in terms of square footage, but opportunities} place for His purposes and plans. For months, I’ve held fast to this⎯ to the point of purchasing rubber boots covered in chickens. Yes, chickens.

blogrobynBut we’re not the only couple on the move. About a month ago, Robyn, a sweet friend of mine, posted a picture of her holding a wooden cutout of our state on Facebook, revealing an upcoming move in their near future. I was encouraged by the picture. Thomas and Robyn’s smiling faces reflected their excitement and some of that enthusiasm naturally spilled over onto our story. I daydreamed about hanging our own SC cutout on a future wall, except our arrows would point upwards, towards the foothills of SC.

The following weekend was an especially discouraging one as the to-do’s seemed endless in this hundred year-old house. For the first time, my steadfast chicken-clad boots slipped, and I felt despair trying its best to settle in and make itself at home.

Before daybreak on Monday I asked God if He was still leading this move⎯that I was struggling to stay encouraged⎯almost to the point of questioning everything about it. Quite frankly, I asked Him to let me know in some way if we were still on the right track. {I have no problem asking my earthly dad if I need something so why would I hesitate to ask my heavenly Father, owner of the cattle on a thousand hills and keeper of every bird in the forest?} That quiet moment before daybreak wasn’t anything spiritually dynamic. It was simply a daughter asking her Daddy for an acknowledgement of His leading.

On Tuesday, the following day, Allison Martin, her two children, and sweet mom, Jane Green, drove over from Hickory NC for lunch. I’d not seen them since they attended our writer’s group years ago, or since Allison’s novel Finding Grace debuted in February. As soon as they pulled up in the nearby parking lot I walked over to greet them. We exchanged hugs while Allison continued pulling kiddo things out of the back of her vehicle. As she reached up to close the door she leaned over for one last thing. “Oh!” she said. “My husband handed this to me as we were leaving. He said to give it to my friend in SC.”  With that, she pulled out the loveliest handcrafted piece of art I’d ever seen. Her husband, Ryan, had used various colors and lengths of wood to piece together the shape of my state, South Carolina.

handcrafted SC wooden displayI was stunned, not remembering if I’d mentioned my desire to have one on Facebook after seeing Robyn’s picture. I asked Allison if she knew the story behind my wanting a SC cutout but neither she nor Jane knew what I was talking about. I could only smile.

In that moment I recognized the wooden gift exactly for what it was⎯a quiet, but creative, confidence booster from my Father. From His heart, through Ryan’s gifted hands and Allison’s willingness to deliver it, God spoke fresh hope into my heart with this gift made of wood, much like he did in 1989.

I’m not sure where you find yourself today but I want to encourage you by reminding us both that the ultimate source of all hope is found in the person of Jesus alone. And through Jesus, and His sacrifice, we have access to the Creator. Not a pie in the sky kind of Creator but One whom knows and meets our deepest needs, as well as our smallest ones.

Is there some way I can pray for you, or someone you know, who is in need of hope today? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section, or if it’s something you’d prefer not to post, that’s fine too. Simply fill out your contact information above under the tab “Contact”.

For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. Psalm 50:10,11

 

Want your own state to display? Visit Ryan’s Etsy store, Quaintly Carolina, here.

If you want to check out my chicken boots from Tractor Supply {thanks for the heads up, Melody Crawford!}…

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Cultivating Creativity // Reflecting His Image

canstockphoto5408658Notice anything different? Hope so! I’ve made some changes to this place I’ve called home since 2008.

Back then, I began blogging at the prompting of Rich Butler, a friend, and fellow co-staffer at the time. Each week as a church staff we came together to design, if you will, our weekly services. It was my favorite hour of the week. To experience God bringing to life those creative ideas for His glory felt much like Eric Liddell must have felt when he said:

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

Bringing creative elements into the telling of the Gospel has always felt natural to me. After all, the Bible is crammed full of examples of how God uses our senses to reveal more of Himself to us.

  • Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the LORD is good!
  • Proverbs 20:12 – The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, God has made them both.
  • Matthew 8:3 – And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
  • Genesis 8:21 – And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

There are numerous accounts in the Gospel of Jesus using tangible “takeaways” when He taught. He was the Master of metaphors and multi-sensory teaching. The Tabernacle, Passover, The Lord’s Supper…the list goes on. Jesus knew the power of our senses {as our Creator} and He harnessed them all for the Father’s glory. And this is my desire as well.

You see, earlier this year, I sensed God nudging me to become more intentional with this little corner of mine. I prayed, I watched, and I expected. I soon realized that since becoming a student of the Word years ago, I’ve gravitated towards adding a creative element to the studies I lead, to the gifts I give, and often to the gatherings I create. That was it!

I could learn and share how to cultivate creativity in every day life, reflecting more and more of His image in the process.

From there, Fistbump Media {Dan King and Susan Stilwell} hopped on board, using their own creative gifts and talents to make this site feel more like home — a place where we can come together as a community of believers, bloggers, and whomever else God decides to bring.

My hope is that you will find this to be a place of encouragement and inspiration as we seek to cultivate creativity through our home and families, writing, meaningful gatherings, and our stories of faith…all to the glory of our Creator and King.

For a more detailed look at the “why” behind this intentional move towards creativity, visit my About Page here, or click the tab at the top of the page.

Beginning next week, I’ll post once a week and believe me when I say…you don’t want to miss next week. God revealed Himself in a subtle but meaningful way a few weeks ago. I can’t wait to share. Until then, thank you for stopping by today. I don’t take you or your time for granted. You are a blessing!

If you like what you’re reading, you can subscribe today in the right-hand margin. My weekly posts will be delivered to your inbox. Also, feel free to share with a friend! Thank you. 🙂

Suggested Reading:
Desiring God {John Piper’s site}, Make God Look Great. Create.
Stephen Altrogge’s e-book, Create. Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuff

The Day Macaroni Art Jesus Became A Reality {An Ode to VBS}

blogpoetrypromisesI remember the day Jesus was no longer just pasta art glued onto a ripple-edged paper plate at Vacation Bible School.

I was a single mom with two little boys in a duplex that sat just outside the city limits. Poor Sinful choices I’d made landed us there. I knew it, I confessed it, and asked the Man I’d heard about in VBS all those years ago for forgiveness.

{I’ve read in recent years how many consider today’s VBS to be a glorified babysitting service. So be it. I thank God for the Aunt Shirley’s (especially mine!) of the world who faithfully drive a carload of children to a local church with the full intention of them hearing and learning about Jesus. And I thank God for people like Mrs. Nanny at Oak Grove Baptist Church, who faithfully share their most precious commodity (time) with little people who don’t know how to say thank you for their sacrifice. That is, until they grow up and have a blog of their own.}

blogjesusmacaroni

My plate art wasn’t nearly as nice as Society 6’s. (Great site!)

At this point you might be wondering what my story has to do with God’s promises. Well, it all comes down to Jesus. It always does.

Jesus’ resurrection fulfilled the Scriptures and the promises of God.

“We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus.” Acts 13:32,33

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”  – 2 Corinthians 1:20

What good is a promise if it can’t be fulfilled? What a joy it is to serve the One who did fulfill every promise that was, is, and will be in the future!

Here’s the thing.

If I’d not been introduced to Jesus in VBS I might not have recognized Him, or my desperate need for him, later in life. My perception of Him might have remained a pasta product on a paper plate. But because I knew Who to turn to, everything changed that night in my duplex on the outskirts of town. Jesus became a reality. My promise keeper. My Savior.

Thank you for joining me on this journey through God’s promises. Do you have a favorite promise? I’d love for you to share it in the comment section. We never know how our words might encourage other readers.

Week 1: When Poetry and Promises Mingle
Week 2: Seeing God in Action On An Ordinary Day
Week 3: A Promise in the Night {For When You Have Trouble Sleeping}

blogarrowsdividerThe next time you receive a post from me, you’ll notice some exciting changes! Stay tuned. 🙂

Now is the perfect time to sign up in the purple sidebar box to receive my posts hot off the press. And if you like what you read in today’s post, feel free to share it via the Media buttons below. To God be the glory!

 

The beautiful artwork used for my Poetry and Promises graphic is courtesy of Ann Marie Bone. Please visit her Facebook fan page to connect with her and to see more of her amazing work.Thank you so much, Ann.