Made Wonder Full: Faith Filled Encouragment for Creatives

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. ~PSALM 139:13-14 NKJV

You are fearfully and wonderfully made! Some translations of verse 13 say, not that God ‘covered us in our mother’s wombs’ but that He knit us together in our mother’s wombs.

When scripture uses the word ‘fearful,’ it doesn’t mean to be afraid, for what exactly did our Heavenly Father have to fear when He created you? What the word ‘fearful’ means here is that He created you with awe, care, and absolute reverence.

Not only did the God of all Creation create you fearfully, but He knit you together, which means He got personal when He formed you! You mean so much that He made you from scratch with His own hands.

Christ wouldn’t have created you if He had plans to erase your unique qualities and individual voice. On the contrary, He has plans to plant and cultivate you, to multiply the wonder that He knit into your every fiber.

You may be thinking that where you are, and who you are at present, is not anything worth multiplying, but be of good courage. The Lord has assured us in His Word, that the work that He has begun in us He is faithful to complete (Philippians 1:3-7.)

No matter where you are in your walk today, it is never too late to submit to being planted in His original plan for you, to allow the divine wonder He has placed in you and your truest identity, found in Christ, to flourish.  (Jeremiah 17:7-8, Psalm 1)

You are wonder-full and knit together for a glorious purpose!

You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.” ~MR. ROGERS

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

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“Anything You Can Do I Can Do”…But Why Should I?: Creating My Way

First, the title of this article is not necessarily true in and of its self, but I am trying to paint a picture with words here, so follow along, will you?

I am not sure if you are familiar with the old musical “Annie Get Your Gun” starring Betty Hutton and Howard Keel. In the movie, there is a song that they sing to each other. It’s more two people shooting arrogant verse at each other as if they are bullets. “Anything you can do I can do better. I can do anything better than you.

As creatives, we are all looking for our own place in the world, our own voice. Even when and while we are inspired by and appreciate the expressions of others, we can sometimes find ourselves looking at fellow creatives with competitive eyes. “I can do that and I can do it better. Maybe I should try.

Being human, no matter what we are aiming to do, we can all go ahead and admit we’ve  done that once or twice. 

In an older post, I quoted Octavia E. Butler on how she became a science fiction writer. (Did I mention she is the winner of the Hugo Award and Nebula Awards?) Anyhow, she said that when she was twelve years old she watched a dreadful science fiction flick. It was so bad that she was determined to write “good” science fiction. And she did, obviously.

…I have to make art that I care about not just art that I can make. ~Candice Coates

But her attitude was “I can do better than that.” And that attitude paid off. (If you have not read any of her work, check out Wild Seed.) The thing is, not only did she set out to write ‘better’ science fiction, but she did it her way, in her own voice, without competing with the voices that were already out there.

Since ICFTS began, I have been on a constant journey to identify my voice as an artist. Truth be told, I have been on this search since I have been an artist. I have always been very eclectic. But one thing that has come to mind with all of this is that I have to make art that I care about not just art that I can make.

As I have said for years, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. That is when you get stuck in ruts of hollow, soulless work, be it writing, visual art, whatever it is. Always create what you care about.

I am on a hunt to find what it is that I care about. I love doing oil paintings, I love writing (writing will ALWAYS be my thing. I love to tell a story.) but with visual art, it just all depends.

I find that even with oil painting, though I have a talent for it,  I am exploring more pencil work, with ink and colored pencils. And there is always the option of mixed media illustration.  There are so many options.

…just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.” ~Candice Coates

I remember, years ago, in undergrad during a departmental review, my professors telling me “All your work is amazing, Ms. Coates, but it looks like the work of twenty different artists.”

On one hand, this is not a bad thing at all. It’s like being multilingual. I speak twenty different artistic languages. On the other hand, it begs the question, are you perfectly fluent in any of them? Jack or rather Jacqueline of all trades and master of…only a few.

 

 

 

We need to create on purpose, with purpose.”

CREATING WITH CONSIDERATION

There are 3 verses that come to mind in this regard. I will pluck at each. One is Philippians 4:13,I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

It is comforting to know that if I set myself to do things that He, Christ Jesus, has placed in my heart to do, that no matter what, if I trust Him, He has given me the strength to do them.

I want to make art. He has given me the gift to do so and also the strength for it.

I Corinthians 10:23,You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is helpful. You say, “I am allowed to do anything” but not everything is beneficial.

With the creative strength and gift given unto me, I need to operate in wisdom. So what I can, sculpt. I don’t feel ANYTHING when I am sculpting apart from a loss of time. Dash the great reviews of my audience. (Just using sculpting as an example.)

Where is the benefit of doing something just because you can? You won’t benefit from my efforts and in the long run, no one else will either. The work is void of any life because your heart was not in it. This is arbitrary actions at its best.

Both of these verses bring me to Isaiah 30:21,and your ears hear a word behind you, saying “This is the Way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or whenever you turn to the left.

BE CREATIVE, NOT COMPETITIVE

What is the point? The point is not to be arbitrary, not to be competitive. Art, to me, creation and creativity, is sacred. It needs to be treated with respect and care. We need to create on purpose with purpose. Not in a way to “out do” the person next to us. There has to be meaning involved. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

In conjunction with this, we should not only create what we care about, but we should create on subjects or themes that we care about.  If you are not interested in what you are doing your work “on” you are still going to get the same empty results, a pretty picture with no life to it, even if you are doing it in a medium that you love.

My creative path is still winding forward. I am discovering more about me and what I want out of my career as a visual artist. I am ever on the hunt to uncover my “niche” and voice.

But even where I stand now,  I can be confident in creating what I am curious about and care about, and leave all the competitive  “I can do better than you” mess behind me. And best of all, so can you!

*This article was originally published on February 12th, 2014 & Updated February 19th, 2018.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Do you ever feel like you could be making better use of your creative time, or that you’ve lost yourself in a creative competitive race? Talk about it in the comments below.

Creative High Places: Faith-Filled Encouragement for Creatives

For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall….He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my* high places. He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.You enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip.”~ PSALM 18:28-29, 33-36 NKJV *Emphasis added

Stepping out in faith is a privilege and an opportunity to see God’s Word made manifest in our lives. As children of the Most High God, our very acts of being creative, in whatever area we are prompted to create, are steps of faith.

The very places that we aim to step, the places that His Spirit is urging us to, are our ‘high places‘, given to us by His divine prompting (Vs 33). It is our right and privilege to take possession of them.

The glorious beauty of knowing that we have surrendered our hearts to Christ and are His beloved gives us the assurance that when we step in faith He will make our way straight before us and give us the strength to overcome any obstacles that may and likely will arise.

Psalms 18 assures us of several things:

  1. He will give us light for our way (Vs 28a, JOHN 8:12): He will show us where to step
  2. He will enlighten our darkness (Vs 28b, JAMES 1:5): He will give us wisdom as we step into new territory
  3. He will give us divine strength to overcome obstacles (Vs 29, 34, PHILIPPIANS 4:13)
  4. He will cultivate us and equip us to walk in new and high places that He blesses us to reach by His Grace and Faithfulness (Vs 33, PHILIPPIANS 1:6)
  5. He will guard us and make us great (Vs 35, PSALM 90:17)
  6. He will make our path such that we are unable to slip (Vs 36, ISAIAH 30:21)

See PSALM 18:28-36 

The Lord Yeshua-Jesus, Our God and Father, is a God of excitement and adventure, but every adventure will have its trials. There will be mountains. There will be valleys, but when we walk with Him there will be victory and such great reward.

Know that as you step into your vision that you can have faith for His protection, that not only does He equip you to leap over those mountains that may come to discourage you in your way but, in Christ, He has given you the divine authority to speak to those very mountains and command them to throw themselves out of your path and into the depths of the sea! (MARK 11:23).

We, as Creatives, are on divine assignment! Our Father’s desire is for us to flourish in our creativity and the vision that He has seeded in us.

So, step out in faith! No. Leap into it and know that He is with you every step of the way! He’s got you!

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

The Measurer of Our Success: Faith-Filled Encouragment for Creatives

Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Each day is a new opportunity to step out in faith and make strides toward your vision. Sometimes, the lens by which we rate our productive success, causes us to lose heart, and even drive, to continue with the work we’ve done or planned to do.

Other times, we find that although we’ve planned to-do a list of specific things, our hearts and minds are driving us to do something totally unrelated, and we struggle to stay focused on the well-rounded plans we set for ourselves.

We want to do our best, after all. We have plans for our future and that future can only be realized if we stick to the task.

Let us remember, that as we walk out of one week, and prepare to enter another, that if we have submitted to the trusting faithfulness of the Lord Yeshua Jesus, that He is faithfully guiding our steps (Psalm 37:23).

Let us meditate on the truth that we are not even in a position to judge our own success, nor are we in the position of being our own Lord. We work for the Lord and not ourselves.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be good stewards over the tasks and time He has given us, rather, that we should be cognizant of Who is guiding and blessing us with whatever measure of success our work produces at a given time.

To that end, let us do our best with each day and moment we have, to celebrate what we are blessed to accomplish when we step out as good stewards unto the Lord and call our truest efforts ‘good’ as we do them unto Him! (Genesis 1)

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

Let Go: How I Learned to Step into My Dreams #MotivationMonday #SiezetheDream #Creative

Perfection has a price, but I cannot afford to live that life. It always ends the same; a fight I never win. Oh control. It’s time, time to let you go.” -JJ Heller

A few years back, on my birthday, I woke up after having an incredible dream. The dream was prophetic for my personal future. It hit straight to the core of some inner struggles I had been having. It gave me a greater hope for the future that I am now living.

For several years I had felt like I had fallen into a dark well or a completely lifeless creative downward spiral. Sure, I had been making art, commissions, and though I was pleased with the outcome of each, I have to say they were indeed lifeless … to me.

I was so detached from these paintings that I didn’t even really bother archiving them for my own portfolio. That says something. It says a lot.  My writing was like swimming through mud.

I had gone on a rampage to control everything in my life that I could. My art was controlled. There could be no mistakes in it, which meant I hardly ever created anything. My writing had to be flawless. And because it wasn’t, because I couldn’t really control it, I began to grow duller.

Spiritually, I felt like I had been traversing a craggy wasteland, always walking forward in the direction of the sun (Son), waiting for this storm of torrential rains and floods to come, but I was always waiting, always walking, and there was never a drop of rain in sight nor a cloud in the sky.

I began to grow used to the desert, both the spiritual and the creative. Oddly enough, my inner spirit man never really felt like it was in a drought, just thirsty, content, but never satisfied. No matter how much I fought to be satisfied.

As years past in my reality, circumstances not changing, my hope for a better future, for the flood rains in my creative life and spiritual life to come, became like an old plane ticket in my hand. It had no expiration date, but neither did it have a date of departure, and so I ceased looking for one.

I was a desert wanderer. This was my reality. But on my 31st birthday, waking up from that hope-reviving dream, remembering other dreams that partnered with it, I began to smell the scent of rain in the air again. A change was coming and it was right on the horizon. Messiah Yeshua Jesus even led me to a verse in the Scriptures to solidify this newly revived hope and expectation.

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing what is new, let it now spring forth. Do you not know it? I am even making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Now, for several years I had been having a connected series of dreams about living in a trash bag tent in the desert amongst many others who were fearful of a coming flood.  So when I read this verse, and the images of those old dreams of my desert lands being flooded out with enough water to fill the oceans,  I knew it was a Word of life for me from Him.

This, however, is where faith gets tricky. People of faith LOVE a word about CHANGE and BREAKTHROUGH, but they never take into consideration what CHANGE and BREAKTHROUGH really mean.

Simple analogy, think of how a child who has come to the end of his or her stay within the womb feels when they are are BREAKING THROUGH to their new place. It is not a comfortable transition.  The very fluid they had been thriving on for nine months is squeezed out of them as they pass through from one existence to the other.

Isaiah 43:19 is awesome, but there is a verse that comes before it. This verse was the training breakthrough verse from me.

Isaiah 43:18 Do not remember the former, nor consider that of old.”

STEP 1: Confront your past disappointments.

In order for me to move forward out of my desert, I had to forget the things that were behind. I had a lot of disappointments and false starts,  a lot of heartaches, a lot of wounds, and all of those things not only blocked my creativity but stifled me spiritually and emotionally.

Art doesn’t thrive in a box. Creativity is organic and grows how it grows.

I was in agreement with ‘forgetting’ all of those things. I had buried them for a reason, but I had not healed from them. I was still carrying them with me, and the load was rotting lot gangrene and affecting every creative part of me.

I began to think I was a failure because I could not make myself forget these things that Messiah Yeshua-Jesus had let out of the bag. I cried. I didn’t understand until He gently and lovingly told me a simple truth.

In order to forget what is behind, you have to confront it, heal from it, so that it never has power over you again.

You know what it is like when a clogged pipe has been treated and all that grime comes out before the clear water flows? That is what had been taking place with me ever since. I began to allow my pains to be redeemed, and I am talking about those old pains, the-school-bully-that-scared-you-when-you-were-nine kind of pains.

STEP 2: Embrace your unique path and timing.

The pains of not feeling good enough and trying to achieve those superficial plateaus that society has put in place, but failing every time. And why was I failing? Because these things are not part of His design or rather they were not part of His design for my life back then. Striving for those things (marriage, children, nest, 9 to 5 job … not really on the 9 to 5) at the WRONG time was creative suicide.

Because of my wounds, the ones that were sneaking up on me even though I had pressed them down, I had gone on a rampage to control everything in my life that I could. My art was controlled. There could be no mistakes in it, which meant I hardly ever created anything. My writing had to be flawless. And because it wasn’t, because I couldn’t really control it, I began to grow duller.

STEP 3: Divorce yourself from perfectionism.

Art doesn’t thrive in a box. Creativity is organic and grows how it grows. I was trying to control all of these things because I could not control the pain that I refused to confront. But now I know better. I was blessed with the chance to journey far way from home, away from the noise and get a glimpse of the creative woman I once was and am in the process of becoming.

I leave you to take another listen to the song that makes my heart dance. It’s one of my new anthems. It comes from the “When I’m with You.” Album by JJ Heller. The song is called “Control.” I have let go of the control now. I have ceased to clip my own wings out of fear and the need to control something, anything, just to feel secure. I gave Yeshua Jesus permission to heal my hidden hurts and to draw out the creativity that had been backed up.

BONUS: LET GO OF THE NEED TO CONTROL!

I gave up control and I am getting to know me again and you don’t need control for that. It’s actually best to let it go.

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS:

  • What steps have you taken to walk into your creative dreams?
  • What were some things that were holding you back?
  • What advice would you share with others who have struggled to take hold of or regain their footing in conquering their dreams and goals?

Please share your wisdom and advice in the comments below.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

How to Achieve Your Dream: Pt 3 Team Up! #MotivationMonday #SeizetheDream #Creative

Teamwork makes the dream work.” ~John C. Maxwell

Everything God created was created to be most fruitful when it is connected with another. When a man takes a wife, children are born. When a bee meets a flower, more flowers, bees, and honey are born. When seed meets soil and is saturated by rain, new life is produced.

When we, dreamers and visionaries becoming creators, have taken the steps to …

1. Believe: Believe that we can achieve the dream that is inside of us. (See Believe You Can).

2. Simplify: Take your processes one step at a time without over-complicating each move you make. (See Keep it Simple).

… we are on the path to productively multiplying our success which is found in our ability to properly align ourselves to achieve our dreams, by teaming up with others.

3. Team up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 explains this perfectly, stating that there is a greater reward for your labor when you are partnered up with another person or persons.

Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. ~Ecclesiasites 4:9-12

It is wise to have a support group, especially mentors; a system of like-minded visionaries who have been where you are headed or are walking the path along side you on your way to where you are going.

Having a ‘team’ means there is always someone to encourage you when you fall, keep you warm when the world is cold and harsh, give you guidance when you feel stuck, or to simply tell you the best path to take to avoid hidden pitfalls.

Your team can give you the outer perspective that you will lack at times. They will have the ability to give you the right amount of hard truth married with the perfect amount of grace which is exactly what we all need to get from dream to reality.

When we, people of faith, invite Yeshua Jesus, the giver of these dreams and visions, to captain the journey along with our team our efforts are blessedly not easily thwarted.

Whenever you decided to take hold of your dream, there is going to be opposition. We need someone or several someones to help us stay the course, shower us with encouragement and cheer us on when we feel as if we can go no further.

We need that person that anoints us with goodness when we need it most. Get yourself a great team, keep things simple, and never cease to believe you can!

Seize your dream. You are already halfway there!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER! 

How to Achieve Your Dream Part 1: Believe You Can #MotivationMonday #SeizetheDream #Creative

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” ~Theodre Roosevelt

One of the most glorious things about life is that even though it can be considered a canvas, it certainly is not a ‘paint by numbers.’ Life is not a one-size-fits-all even if certain ideas and concepts may mirror that of another’s. There still, and always, remains the glory of uniqueness in each person’s life and creation.

I believe that Yeshua Jesus has a plan for each of us, a perfect design that He wants us to be co-workers with Him upon. He gives us dreams for a reason. Some dreams we take hold of and bring to manifestation, while others, sadly we leave to float away like feathers in the wind.

Many times, the dreams that get away from us are the dreams that we can’t seem to muster the faith for or we allow our faith to be choked away.

But how do we cease to do this?

We have to make a connection with faith and hold on to it. The Lord tells us that all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed and nothing will be impossible for us (Matthews 17:20) The glory of such a small seed is that it becomes very large when placed in the right soil and environment.

The blessing for us is that anything that we put in the hand of the Master has the potential to be greatly multiplied beyond what we can even hope or imagine! (Matthew 14:13-21,  Ephesians 3:14-21)

We have to see more opportunities than obstacles.  We must no longer minimize the potential of the seed of the dreams we have and stop polluting the soil of opportunity with weeds of fear and doubt.

In order to do this, we need to remind ourselves of the great love that Yeshua Jesus has for us. He is the one who has given us the dream and He loves us. Fear, however, is the opponent of love (I John 4:18), and not only are you greatly loved but you have not been given the spirit of fear, but love, power, and a sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7)

We also have to use our creative imagination with faith-filled courage and not fear-filled conjecture. We must focus on the potential truth of imaginative vision instead of the frailty of tangible sight.

The book of Proverbs tells us that as a man thinks in his heart so he is (Proverbs 23:7)These thoughts which soon become reality began as a seed of imagination. They can either be based out of fear as well as incomplete information or fuelled by faith.

To be ruled by conjecture is similar to looking into a pool and concluding that the waters are not deep because they ‘look’ to be shallow, only to find out you were wrong once your head is under water.

Operating in the truth of imaginitive vision is to step out in faith and we are encouraged in the Word that Faith is the substance of things not seen and the evidence of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). Evidence is not conjecture. Evidence is truth!

Faith it out!

The beauty in this is that the greatest push for us to accomplish those dreams that make our hearts flutter is to first believe. Believing, making the commitment to take the step, is the greatest part of the journey.

It is the first step toward your dream, and believing enough to step out means you are already halfway there!

*Join me next week for Part 2 of this motivating series.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

The Name She Used: Monday’s Muse Results for May 1st 2017 #AmWriting #Monday’sMuse #WritingPrompt

They’d been walking for three hours. The car had run out of gas that far back. She’d stayed with him, but she still hadn’t told him her name. 

Interestingly enough, he didn’t feel like he needed to know her name, not at that moment. She’d given him peace the very moment she got in the car with him, her presence washing over his atmosphere with a something akin to light.

He laughed on the inside. He knew his thoughts were foolish especially since he was thinking them about a complete stranger one who avoided the mention of her name even though she kept speaking one to him over and over again, Jesus.

At first hearing that name jolted him with the same force as the headlights that had come head-on in his direction, cutting through the fog like a hateful knife. He’d managed to swerve away from impact, his tires eating through the grass that lay just off the road.

Then he saw her, really, it was her coat that coat his attention, peaking out like a beacon just a few yards ahead of him. He wasn’t one to usually pick up a stranger. He left that job to Uber, but something about her seemed . . . safe, comforting after his heart tried to launch itself through the top of his head.

At first, she was silent. She’d said her thank you’s and then smiled warmly. As soon as they’d made it a little less than a mile up the road she started talking. She’d questioned him really, asked where he was from, where he was going, why he was alone.

None of it was her business. The questions actually caused familiar flames to lick up the walls of his belly. He didn’t want to think about where he was from. He had no intention of ever going back there. There was nothing left for him after Danielle filed for divorce. The irony was she was the guilty one. And yes he was livid, more so, he was bleeding inside, cut off at the knees by her confession but he still wanted to try and work things out.

Twenty years was nothing to just toss away, not without trying. They married straight out of highschool. Their roots were too deep to just yank up. Something had to be salvageable. Still, she would accept his forgiveness. That hurt him even worse. There he was giving her his heart again even after she’d torn it out and she refused to take it for guilt. It didn’t make sense to him.

Where was he going, the passenger had asked. He wanted to ask her the same question but couldn’t for the simple fact that he was stunned by his own lack of an answer. He had no idea where he was going. He was just driving, driving away from the hurt and the darkness.

Why he was alone seemed obvious, at least to him. He jokingly told her that he only had one seat open and clearly it was meant for her. That was when she started talking about Jesus, she even said he had made a way for her to get a ride, that they were meant to meet.

He politely smiled at each mention of the name Jesus and her gentle telling of his love and grace. He’d always found it too hard for him to wrap his mind around, that the God of all Creation would be so loving and forgiving that even when man had wronged him, created a debt that needed to be paid but could not pay himself, that this same God would become man to pay that very debt because he loved his creation so and he just wanted the pleasure of being loved back.

If all that were true, then he was guilty of that debt. He’d surely messed up enough in his life, he should have died for his own sins. How could he look God in the face and just accept such a sacrifice on his behalf when he didn’t deserve it? The thought made his chest ache, it always did.

After walking with the stranger for three hours he finally stopped and asked her, dropping all of his politeness, spurred on by the sudden parallel that he was seeing in his own unwillingness to accept Jesus and Danielle’s unwillingness to accept him.

“It’s not fair,” he tried to shout but his voice came out with a cracking whisper similar to that of a boy approaching manhood.

“No, but that is why it is love. That is why it is grace.”

She spoke to him some more about grace, the light began to fade and with it went his former denials. He loved Danielle, maybe not like Christ loved him but he wanted to try.

“Will you let him teach you?” the young woman asked, her expression hopeful.

Trembling from the cold or the anticipation of knowing for himself, standing there, in the darkening woods, with fog growing heavier, tears streaming his face, and his broken heart bleeding, he finally said yes.

In an instant, he felt more pain, sharper and deeper than he ever had before. Panic gripped him until he struggled to breath. He fell to his knees. Her arms lead him downward until he was laying on his back, her breath whispering words of peace to him.

“It will be alright,” she said. “You are going to be just fine. Trust Him.”

“Jesus, help me,” he heard the words slipping from his lips even as the noise of the sirens made his ears burn.

-“We’ve got a pulse! He’s back with us and he’s speaking! Sir? Sir? My name is Jennifer and this is officer Healy. You’ve been in a head-on collision. But you are going to be just fine sir, just fine.”

THE BEGINNING

*Wow, so this went in a direction I had not anticipated but that is the fun of creative writing prompts. If you would like to see the original prompt with links to the image and rules to participate see, Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt May 1st, 2017. 

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Plan Big!: A Word of Creative Encouragement #MotivationMonday

When God is your partner, make your plans big!” ~ D.L Moody

Plan BIG!

You’d think that that exhortation would make every person who heard it celebrate with a motivated fire for action when in reality it makes a lot of people shrink back in fear and hide under the heavy blankets of safety and mediocrity.

Dreaming is not so much of an issue for most of us. But dreaming big . . . well, that has the power to not only knock the wind out of many of our sails but sink our boats completely.

Like me, I suppose you are wondering why that is. If we are honest with ourselves we would have to admit that insecurity and the scrutiny of others is what holds us back. The old ‘what will people think?’ phrase acts as the perfect glitch in our plans of action.

The very thought of failing in front of others, especially those who’ve minimalized our former dreams with the constant song of ‘you can’t,’ strikes us immobile. Them witnessing our former failed attempts doesn’t help either.

But is any of that really a reason to shrink our globally-sized visions down to something that only fills a shoebox? Are our past ‘failures’ really messages that we are not able to achieve the impossible?

I dare say NO!

If nothing else our past ‘failures’ are signs that we are indeed able to succeed? Why? Because even when we aimed for the moon and didn’t even leave the atmosphere, we still have the gumption to load up for another shot.

We are indeed meant to plan big, and along with that, we must rest in faith that every seeming malfunction has a glorious function for our good. We learn from every step we take. We are strengthened by every closed door. We can actually become better with ever affront against our determination.

Isaiah 54:2-4 says, “Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited. “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.”

Dreaming BIG is a gift, a costly gift. It means we will have seasons and moments when we look foolish. It will require us to cast out our nets just one more time in faith even though we’ve been fishing all night and caught nothing. (Luke 5:3-7) But when Yeshua Jesus is directing our casting even when the progress looks minimal the process is optimal and so is the final outcome if we stick with it.

What we must realize is that the God of all Creation has big dreams and plans for each of us. When we trust Him as our Father we are then positioned by faith to prosper. (Jeremiah 29:11)  His thoughts for us are all GOOD and PRECIOUS  and they outnumber the stars and the sand (Psalm 139:17-18).

But part of seeing these dreams come to pass rest in our willingness to dream big, plan even bigger and allow the Giver of Dreams Himself to guide us on the journey. (John 15:5) “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

There is nothing that is too big for Yeshua Jesus to do and when He is our partner there is NOTHING we cannot do! (Philippians 4:13)  But it requires us to believe in and on Him, and take great leaps of faith.

But then, that’s all it takes.

So dream, plan and do it BIG! He’s got your back.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Revised from June 2016

A Reason to Rejoice: A Word of Faith

rejoice-alwaysI’m sure that whether you are a Christian or not, you have heard that the shortest verse in the bible is John 11:35,”Jesus wept.” While this is true on one hand, there is a verse that rivals it for the two-word title and that is a passage found in I Thessalonians 5:16.

“Rejoice always.” ~I Thessalonians 5:16

While the two verses seem to have a world between then in meaning, I want to encourage you of how they both give us a reason to rejoice and empower us to do so in the Lord God Yeshua Jesus.

In John 11, we find Yeshua Jesus at the tomb of His beloved friend, Lazarus who has passed away, and Yeshua Jesus, fully understanding the grief of those around Him wept along with them. He being, fully God, and fully Man took on the role of complete friend and shared in the sufferings of those around Him even though He knew what He was capable of doing as the God of all creation.

Even with His infinite power, He allowed Himself to weep. Sometimes when we face hardships in life, we often feel guilty for being overcome by emotions. I don’t know about you, but there have been many occasions where I’ve had to remind myself that crying because of a situation does not mean I don’t have faith concerning the situation.

Just as my Savior wept in His sovereignty, you and I have the blessing of weeping in our salvation and hope.

When we face our ‘Lazarus’ situations, moments where life seems completely unfair and that which we were believing God for seems to have died, we may find it difficult to rejoice in anything at all. You may even be thinking that the Lord’s prompting for us to rejoice is somewhat unfair.

But again, just as Yeshua Jesus gives us peace of mind when we weep He also gives us the reason to rejoice.

These two verses, similar in their length, bless us with some key truths about the character of the God we serve and hope in:

  1. John 11:35 assures us that Yeshua Jesus understands our sufferings even as we share in His.
  2. I Thessalonians 5:16 reminds us that there is always a reason for hope.

The same way that Yeshua Jesus knew what He could do at Lazarus’ tomb, He is able and willing to do at the ‘tombs’ in our lives. In this we can rejoice! The call to rejoice is a call to take firm hold of our faith.

WE CAN REJOICE BECAUSE:

  • We are Rejoicing in Him: Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” We rejoice in Who He is. We rejoice that He is soveriegn over every situation in our lives.
  • We are rejoicing in Hope: Romans 12:12  rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…”
  • We know our Hope does not dissappoint: Romans 5:5  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
  • We know Christ in us IS our HOPE: Colossians 1:27To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
  • Becuase He is in us we are overcomers: 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
  • We overcome because Christ in us has overcome the world and its troubles: John 14:27-29; 16:33 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe… …These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
  • He has counted us WORTHY to share in His sufferings and be persecuted on His behalf: I Peter 4:13″but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” Acts 5:40-42And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

SO WHY DO WE REJOICE ALWAYS?

We rejoice because even though our lives may face sufferings and tribulations we know that in Him we have hope and our hope does not dissappoint, that He has counted us WORTHY to carry a cross to the glory and honor of His Name! He, Christ in us has blessed us to overcome every situation and to bring us out gloriously because He loves and cares for us.

So let us not be troubled but truly rest and rejoice in the peace He has given us, the same peace He gave us right before He was betrayed and led to the cross in our place!

No matter what you are facing, though you may feel the need to weep, do so, but always rejoice. He is with you and you will overcome! And HE IS ALWAYS A REASON TO REJOICE!

ADDITIONAL ENCOURAGMENT:

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion