Things I’m learning….

Between reading Exodus (Moses arguing with God about his ability to speak.) and the verses from Warrior Women and Prayer Warrior and the challenges I have been facing, lessons are learned which are not always easy to accept. It is difficult to accept my own selfishness and how it can interfere with my trust, faith and relationship with God. But God brings me these things so I might learn and become the person he wants me to be.

For a long time now one of the simplest prayers I pray is “God help me to be the person You want me to be.” I, invariably, say this prayer at least once a day if not a thousand times a day but after the revelation I had last night, after creating the page below, my prayer now has more conviction behind it. It can be difficult for me to remember that I am supposed to live for God, not God living for me and serving me. I am to serve him. I see his hand and I know he is with me, moving the mountain of stubbornness which has been a part of me my whole life.

Prayer Warrior 5

This first image is yesterday’s page in my TN. The opposite page will be filled in with today’s verse.

IMG_1924

This above image is days 28 and 29 of October’s Warrior Women (prompts from Robin Sampson).

IMG_1922IMG_1923

I love being able to flip through my TN and read the verses I handwrite and then decorate as I have time. It tells a story which was unexpected.

I’m glad I switched back to doing this in a physical notebook and not digitally. I may scan it when it is done so I have a digital record if something ever happens to the notebook. I am half way through it. I may have to glue some pages together to help strengthen it and keep it together but that won’t be an issue since I have more pages left than there are days in the month. It is already getting quite full. It includes Warrior Women (prompts from Robin Sampson) from October and Prayer Warrior from November will complete the journal. These two months support each other very well in the story they tell.

I didn’t create all the images and I don’t have a record of where they all came from or I would credit the creators. Some are purchased and some are free. I started learning how to use my Silhouette Cameo which I have had for a couple of years and barely used. It is a challenge to cut out images using it that were not created using the software. I have had some issues with cutting but I think I found the reason why when I read a post on reasons the Silhouette doesn’t cut properly. I am hoping once I sort out the Silhouette Cameo that it will save me time on cutting out images to use in my journals, which will then give me more time for my bible studies.

The other thing I am learning to do is layering to create backgrounds in Affinity Designer. Today, I layered some images for backgrounds and it is the first time all the blend options for the layers came out looking fabulous. Below are two of the blend options performed on the same layers.

I use the backgrounds I create or purchase to print and glue down on my TN pages. I am considering doing this a bit differently in my next TN. I’m thinking of printing the pages on both sides then creating the signatures from these printed sheets of paper. I know, you would think I would have thought of doing this before. It was one of those “duh” moments… lol.. I probably didn’t think about it because I didn’t really have a lot of backgrounds to work with and so for some pages I was using paint to create the backgrounds. Now I have enough digital images  and I have learned how to create my own images that I can use to layer for making my own backgrounds like this one. This is something I can do after work, when I’m physically exhausted from being on my feet all day and I just want to sit and stream some Netflix.

I have also learned how to tag images on my computer so it will be easier to find images for my projects. Tagging them though is time consuming but hopefully worth it in the long run.

 

Letting go. Handing it all over to God.

“Father, I feel you nudging me to write another post. I hear you and obey. Soften my heart and mind and help me to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me, giving me the words and story you most want me to tell. In Jesus name, Amen.”

It may seem strange to see my posts now beginning with a prayer. For me, with the changes in my life, it makes more sense than ever. I want God to guide me and I want Him to know that I want his guidance. Prayer is my intentional way of letting Him know.

I feel compelled to write a bit about my story.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer but prior to that I had been intentionally living a life that was taking me farther and farther away from God and my beliefs. My rational mind gave me all kinds of reasons which gave me permission to do this. The main reason was to satisfy my desire for happiness in my life. It didn’t matter where I looked, happiness was only temporary which just kept me searching for it until my life came to a screeching halt.

My diagnosis of breast cancer had not been a huge surprise. I had lived in denial over the lump for quite a while but life intervened in such a way as to make me finally take responsibility and have it looked into.

I handled this diagnosis like I did everything in my life. I got the information from the doctors I needed. Then I researched it to death. By the time the day of my first surgery arrived, I knew all the alternative treatments. What I could afford or not afford of those treatments and even knew the type of anesthesia and pain control medicines I should or should not take. This of course all happened after I was told by my surgeon who did the biopsy that I definitely had breast cancer but the most common and treatable kind. That day I sat in his office like a zombie, hearing and yet not hearing what he had to say and what he saw as my options.

You would think this diagnosis, the surgeries and treatment would have turned me back to God. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I prayed. I was angry. I was furious that this was happening to me when I had an 11 year old daughter to take care of. But it didn’t change my direction in regards to my relationship with Him. All it did was bring my life to a screeching halt. What I had been pursuing stopped completely. I had no direction other than to just get through this.

There were problems with chemo. After my third treatment complications threatened my life, so I stopped chemo and all treatments including their recommendation for radiation treatment. They recommended these things even though they had no proof I still had cancer in my body. The surgeries I went through and the tests they did of the lymph nodes and breast tissue indicated they got everything but they have no proof because there are no instruments strong enough to detect single cells of cancer. In fact, the devices they have today only detect cancer if it has begun to cluster where there are at least millions if not billions of cells. My last treatment was two days before Christmas in 2014 and since then there has been no since of cancer. This December will be 5 years of being cancer free. Five years seems to be a milestone for determining if someone is cured or healed from their cancer diagnosis. It doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t come back. It just means according to their statistics, the chances of it returning are lowered greatly. I don’t hold much stock in statistics. I seem to defy them all in some way or another, usually for the better.

In 2015, we decided to celebrate the end of my cancer treatments and started looking for a house to buy. We found one and bought it, moved in August 2015, and from all appearances it looked like life for me and my daughter was looking up. We were better off financially than we had been renting. Had a larger place than we had when renting. And we had plans to slowly improve our new home.

Then, January 2016 arrived in an unexpected and devastating way. I was informed that my position which I held for over 30 years was being eliminated and I was being laid off. This news hit me harder, much, much harder than my cancer diagnosis. It threatened the very foundation of my ability to take care of my daughter. I am the sole income earner. I get no child support. I have no other source of income. This news came to me and completely destroyed the foundation I stood upon that helped me feel safe and secure and positive in my belief that I could care for my daughter on my own. Every future my imagination could come up with ended up with us losing our new home and being thrown out on the street to live. I was terrified.

I had 8 weeks to find a job within the company but every job I looked into, I was told I did not qualify for even if I was willing to relocate me and my daughter using my own money. I came to realize this company had no intentions of keeping me on as their employee no matter how much they told me I could look for an internal job to transfer to. I started looking externally.

It looked like everything was falling into place with a new job I applied for. I was hired to start only 2 days after my layoff date. In a matter of 6 weeks, I had an emotional breakdown in the office and was unable to perform my job. At the advice of my doctor to take three months off, I had to quit since I was still in my probationary period. Prior to the breakdown, I was their top performer.

This breakdown added another layer to my terror. I had discovered the limit of what I could endure. My doctor prescribed medication to help. After three months I started applying for other jobs. I applied for all the jobs I knew I could do which were mostly a subset of the job I had been laid off from. I received no call backs. This went on for a year and in that time I had only two interviews. I lived that whole year in terror.

In May of 2017, I looked at my prescription and discovered what was supposed to be short term, I had now been on a year. I didn’t know where that year had gone. I couldn’t really remember it other than I had submerged myself into drawing, painting, mixed media, and ink. I loved that aspect of having all day to play in my art supplies. I went to my doctor, told him I didn’t want to be on the medication anymore but asked him to provide a prescription for emergencies when I felt overwhelmed and unable to cope. He did.

Finally, in July 2017, I was hired as a cashier earning minimum wage. My financial advisor said this would be enough to eliminate the shortfalls in my retirement. But I soon learned it wouldn’t be enough because of how much time it had taken for me to find a job. I lived that whole year off of my savings from my severance package. Working part-time at minimum wage also meant I would have to continue pulling money from my savings and reducing my retirement funds.  I used the emergency prescription intermittently as I learned I could cope in my new job and then not at all when I realized I really enjoyed interacting with the customers. As a replacement I started to use GABA which was sufficient from then on when I needed something to calm my nerves, except in a few situations.

Almost a year later (April 2018, 2 years by now), I was still living in terror over my financial situation. I was still applying for jobs, hoping to find a full time job or a part-time job that would pay more but again no call backs or out of the one or two call backs I received that ended up in interviews, none ended up in any job offers.

I still could only see in my future, my daughter and I being thrown out of our house and living on the street if we couldn’t pay our bills. You might wonder why and think my imagination is extreme but it isn’t. Renting an apartment in our city isn’t any cheaper than the mortgage payment I have for our home, in fact it can be more expensive than a mortgage. Housing is in high demand in this fast growing city. Reasonable rent isn’t possible, at least not without ending up in some poverty ridden cesspool. This is the way I saw our life going and it was becoming more and more apparent that I had no control over this situation.

I lost hope.

I had no more dreams for our future other than just surviving from one day to the next.

Then on April 8, 2018, I heard very clearly that it was time to turn back to my roots but in a different way. Because, what I had relied on in my past had never worked for me. I had grown up in a Christian home, going to church each Sunday, and relying on Sunday school teachers, teen leaders, and pastors to tell me what I needed to know about God and the bible.

On April 8, 2018, I was told to pick up the bible and read it cover to cover so I could know the true God which was written about in His Word. I had nothing to lose, so I did it. I started at the beginning and started reading one chapter at a time. In time, I started to pray daily. I felt compelled to search for bible study methods which took me to bible study groups online and eventually to going to one church or another locally just to see if I would find any connection there. I haven’t really found any connection with a church yet. I have felt a connection to God during a Sunday service once or twice.

In my search to know more, I learned to turn EVERYTHING over to God. And I do mean EVERYTHING. Because my work schedule doesn’t leave very many Sundays available for me to attend church, when I pray to God I tell him, if he wants this to be part of my life, then he will need to make it happen. Which is how I usually approach everything, including my job/financial situation. If he wants me to have a new job, he will have to make it happen… and so forth.

It was interesting in regards to the job situation. I ran into some conflicting and aggravating situations with my manager at work some which caused me to take GABA. I let it go and let God take care of it. I saw her in turn have a situation happen which caused her to come to tears. This isn’t anything I wished for her, no matter how she treated me but I saw God’s justice in it. I desired another job, and so I would apply for job postings I knew I could do but always with the same result, no call back, or no job offer. All I heard was, “Stop, let it go. I’ll take care of it.” Everything pointed for me to just stop applying, to stop trying to force my way to a different job while I heard this voice saying, “if you do nothing, then you are proving you are just like all those people on welfare who just sit around, are capable of working but don’t even try. You are proving you are worthless.” It was hard to know what to do. Which one was right? I decided to trust in God (at least for a while) and see what he would do. I know that sounds terrible but that is what I decided to do. I was at the end of my rope.

I knew my trust would come slowly. I often felt like I was an awful child of God, or not truly a child of God. Did I have the right to test him like this? Was it a sin to do so?

Things happened in stages. First, I prayed, “God help me to become the person you desire for me to be.” I would pray this every day as I drove to work, and as I drove I would tell him how beautiful our world was that he had created. How amazing He is to create such a world where we can make so many things to help us to live more comfortable lives. The beauty of nature around me and how it all worked together. On and on, I would praise him.

I slowly started humming as I drove back and forth from work. Sometimes I would even hum as I worked, and sometimes it wasn’t even the music which played over the store’s sound system. I hummed what came spontaneously upon me. Sometimes words would form and I would sing them. I found myself humming and singing in the shower or as I washed dishes or did chores.

Slowly, I learned to turn EVERYTHING over to God, and to ask for his protection from the enemy which was trying to take everything away from me that God had given me throughout my life.

One day, I realized worry and fear became less and less a part of my life. I started to truly believe God would take care of us. As worry and fear became less, anxiety and panic became less and less. I realized my humming was actually a sign of happiness and also praise to God for how he had brought change to my life in such subtle ways.

I still had concerns financially and couldn’t visualize how God could change my situation unless I won the lottery, which yes, I do play, just in case he would want to provide for me through it. (it’s okay to laugh, I do, I’m grateful the lottery here does help pay for health care, education and other services needed across the province)

Then during this time of not applying for jobs, and just letting go of it all, giving it all over to God, I prayed, “God, if you want me to have another job, then you will have to provide it.” I don’t know how long it was after that prayer, but I do know it wasn’t more than a couple of weeks when, at work, in our lunch room, there was a notice stating that the pharmacy was hiring, and no experience was necessary.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? What was I supposed to do?

I prayed. “God, do you want me to apply for this job? If so, you have to give me a sign I can not doubt. You know me. I doubt everything. I see both sides of any sign. A sign can mean, yes go for it, or it could mean, no don’t go for it and I could see the same message for one sign. I need something I cannot doubt.” The very next day was my day off. I woke up around 4:30am in extreme pain. It was the pain I had experienced from my 3rd chemo treatment that made me stop taking chemo. Well, it was part of the reason. The subsequent issues I had following that pain were the main reason for stopping chemo, that being, I was unable to eat or drink anything but tiny sips of water for a week.

Back to my story… I woke in pain. I knew it was from over production of stomach acid which was what was the issue before, so I took some tums, hoping it would help. Two hours later I was still in a lot of pain. I knew a walk-in clinic would open in an half hour. I woke my daughter asked if she wanted to go with me, no, she was too tired, so I went alone. I had taken two more tums hoping in that half hour it would help more. They did a bit but not enough and I wanted to make sure my self-diagnosis was right.

To make a long story short, it was the same, I ended up with a prescription which made me go to the pharmacy. I couldn’t deny the message. I put in for the job. I, of course, ran into some opposition. My manager wasn’t happy. She probably opposed it and discouraged me as much as she could without outright telling me she wouldn’t let me transfer. In the end, I gave her a copy of the transfer paper and handed the other copy to the other person in the office who was handling the process. Everyone else was excited to learn I wanted to work in the pharmacy. But I left the office feeling like it wasn’t going to happen.

The next day, circumstances happened where I ended up having a discussion with the store manager. The discussion had nothing to do with my transfer request but at the end he told me they were going to make my transfer happen. I was ecstatic!

The day after that I was told I would transfer officially on the 19th.

I have known my whole life that when things are meant to be, they happen quickly, easily and sometimes with the speed of a locomotive. That is what happened in this case. I handed in the transfer paper on 6May and on 12May the store manager came to me and asked if I was okay transferring that day (a week ahead of schedule) because the pharmacy was in dire need of someone now. I said, “sure no problem. I would be happy to.” And it was made so that very day.

I have been in pharmacy ever since, learning to be a pharmacy assistant. I don’t make any more money right now though the possibility does exist for getting more hours. Every day I work,  I am filled with exceeding joy. I am left with no doubt that this is God’s plan for me. I am trying not to read into where this will take me.  I am learning to let go of my financial concerns and just hold tight to God’s plan for me and always look to him in ALL things. In doing so, I get a sense of comfort I have never felt before.

I can see Him working in the background on other possibilities, they give me hope. Hope I have not had in over three years. I see his handy work in this new job. Since starting it I have worked only one Sunday. I work fewer days but no less hours than I did as a cashier so, it feels like I have more time for my studies and reading.

I continue to read my bible every day. I finished Zechariah this morning which means only 1 more book and I’ll have finished the Old Testament. I have been looking forward to starting the New Testament and learning about Jesus. I can’t tell you how excited it makes me feel.

Today or tomorrow, I will complete the “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” bible study I mentioned in my previous post.

I started Proverbs 31 & Bible Women from Robin Sampson’s bible study and journaling class. I start lesson 3 today or tomorrow. In just the first two lessons, I am finally connecting with how I can study and journal about the Word of God. It is exciting to use my artistic skills along with my studying the Word.

30May2019 Lesson 2 Rahab

Digital journal spread for lesson 2 of Proverbs 31 & Bible Women

30May2019 Lesson 2 Rehab spread

Handmade Traveler’s Notebook insert for Lesson 2 of Proverbs 31 & Bible Women

I am still handwriting Psalms. I’m up to Psalm 103. I don’t just handwrite it. I, also, type it out in a digital journal using the NLT version and the CJB version. I learned about the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) from Tom Bradford’s Old Testament Survey class on Torahclass.com. When I read the CBJ version, I get a more positive feel from scripture than I do when I read the KJV, NIV or NLT versions. I type the NLT and CJB versions side-by-side, sort of creating my own parallel version. I like being able to compare the two versions side-by-side. I have room to add graphics so when something grabs my attention and I feel called to add something visual, I will insert graphics which helps me to connect with the scripture. Nothing too elaborate because with everything else, I don’t have the time. My plan though is to go through each book of the bible, creating my own digital version which I can then use in my deeper studies, probably using the inductive study method.

I don’t know if you caught on to what happened over the past month. I have had two major prayers answered for me:

1. a new job

2. more Sundays free for attending church, God’s way of letting me know he does want me to attend church, I just need to find one that fits

There are numerous other prayers which have been answered so indirectly, I have yet to really recognize all of the ones which have been answered. I feel God working towards transforming me into the person he desires for me to be. I also feel God working towards transforming my life into what he had always intended for it to be.

He is building my trust and faith and not demanding it be given completely or fully upon his demand. I think this is important for me, as well as, others to understand. God wants us to willingly trust him and have faith in him. He isn’t about forcing us to do what we don’t want to do. I just had to see that he will be who he says he is and do what he says he will do. This is what builds my trust and faith in him.

I also have to be willing to let go of MY expectations of what he will do. In other words, I can’t make him or demand he provide the results I want. I have to be willing to accept his choices for me. For instance, if I could only visualize myself in an administrative job and that is the only job I wanted, it doesn’t mean that is the job God wants for me. I had to let go of all job possibilities and let God choose for me. This really was the hardest thing for me to do. I don’t relinquish control easily. God knew I needed time to learn how to do this and I think too he knew I would need extreme circumstances to get me to the point where I could.

There is one thing that comes to my mind periodically, these past few weeks. As I was reading the last two chapters in “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way”, it came to mind again. Sometimes, we are so focused upon ourselves that when things happen we perceive them as a personal affront to ourselves. That God, or the enemy is doing this personally to us. If we step back, we may discover what is happening is a side effect of something someone else, someone who is close to us, needs to learn.  I find, I am often so focused upon my own suffering I don’t see someone else standing right next to me is suffering too or that what I’m going through effects them too.

When I was going through my cancer treatment, dealing with the pain and discomfort of the surgeries and the chemo treatments, my daughter was right there beside me. I knew she felt helpless and didn’t know what to do for me but what I didn’t know until much later was how afraid she was to go to sleep at night. That something might happen. That I might need her at night and she not know it. She felt safe to sleep in the day when I was awake. She suffered through this time with me but in such a different way and so silently on her own. When I look at it now, though I was the one diagnosed with cancer and felt this was happening to me, it might have happened to me in order for my daughter to learn something she needed to learn. Yes, we both had something to learn from the situation but maybe my suffering was required in order for her to learn.

When you find yourself in a difficult situation, look around, see who is standing next to you. Maybe your suffering is what the other person needs in order to learn something God needs for them to learn. Maybe it will lead to their salvation.

 

The Progression of an Unexpected Journey

“Father, you have called me to write today about my journey, use my hands dear Lord to type the words you wish me to share with those who will read my blog. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”

On April 8, 2018, I picked up my bible for the first time in a very long time with the intention of getting to know God. Not the God, I was taught about as a child, or as an adult through the churches I attended. No, I wanted to learn about the true God which is written about in the bible. I wanted to know who he is and the history which is contained within the bible. I was also curious how the history in the bible compares with what archeology has discovered but I knew that would probably come later.

Those who read this are probably wondering what this has to do with my journey as an artist. I had considered creating another blog to write about this journey but in truth, my journey as an artist brought me here, so these are not two separate journeys but one journey. My journey.

This is not the first time, in my 58, soon to be 59 years of life, to have picked up the bible with the intention of reading it from cover to cover. No, I remember at least one other time, but more like at least two other times of attempting to do so. You have probably already surmised that those other attempts, were just that, attempts. Attempts which failed. I have asked myself several times what makes my journey this time different.

I believe there is one significant difference. This time I was called upon to take this journey. The other times, the intent was just to be able to say I did it. This time, I felt a hunger that would not subside. I had to open the bible in my lap and start reading it. This time, that hunger did not subside. It did not dissipate. In fact, it grows. Why now? Why not back then? Maybe because I wasn’t ready for the full impact of what reading the bible would do in my life. But I really don’t know.

I can’t really say that there has been any major changes in my life, external life that is since starting to read the bible. At least not that anyone outside of my home would notice, other than attending church from time to time. Attending church isn’t a major motivation for me right now.  I go when I feel called to do so and when it is possible around my work schedule.

The changes which have occurred in my life are more related to how I see God, the part he has in my life, and how I should be handling my life and decisions. My priorities have changed. My first priority every day is to read the bible. It is the first thing I do, even on the days I have the early shift at work, with the exception of taking a shower first and getting dressed, so I’m not distracted with the possibility of not getting to work on time. I read between 1 to 5 chapters every day. There are not many days in which I didn’t read at least one chapter a day. I finished Isaiah 54 this morning.

I have gone back and forth on what I should do, whether I should just read through the bible and consider deeper study as the next step after I have read the entire bible. Or, should I include deeper study while I’m reading through the entire bible.

I started researching bible study methods and tried a couple of them. One source was from Anne Graham Lotz’s AnGeL Ministries website where I signed up for a daily devotional email. After trying a couple of the study methods, I put them aside for later.

To satisfy some of this desire to dig deeper, I started with a monthly topic prompt list of verses to look up. I type them into my digital journal next to a copy of the list. These help me to get a view of particular topics like the one for this month is “Forgiveness”.

I also type in the daily devotional scripture from AnGeL Ministries email I receive daily.

Then I came across a couple Facebook groups which included some bible study with bible journaling, so I tried including one of them. I did complete one of these studies and went on to the next one. I didn’t complete the next one, as you will see later.

Then another bible study crept in that was a bit different and had a two step study. The first step was writing out scripture that we were reading/studying and the second step was to use a keyword list to focus on particular words in the chapters marking them and then answering some questions about them or writing what we learned. This is called the Inductive Bible study method. To be truthful I didn’t complete that study yet. It is easy to find an excuse why. I don’t like excuses, they are meaningless and usually are not connected to the real reason.  I intend to go back to this study later once I have read the entire bible.  I felt like I was studying something out of context without knowing what transpired before. Then too, I don’t think I am ready yet for that type of in-depth study which is how I felt about the previous study methods I tried.

These two studies also overlapped each other. With the monthly prompts and two different types of bible studies, and my daily reading I was overloading myself. I realized too I was just piling things on possibly as a way to prove to myself that I am a godly person. This was not the right attitude to have so I put them aside for later.

I did love writing out the scripture from the one study so I started writing out a chapter a day when I was in Psalms. This, however, slowed down my progression in reading because I was trying to do it in conjunction with my daily reading. After feeling like I was being held back, I decided to continue my daily reading like I had been doing and not let writing scripture by hand hold me back. I now write scripture by hand when I have time to do so. If I can do it daily, I do. If not, if I skip a day or two, I don’t feel guilty about it.

I knew I was piling a lot on because I was still searching for something. I wasn’t sure what. Something was still missing.

I came across another course or maybe it is more like a challenge, called “Time With God” by Robin Sampson. She was the author of one of the monthly prompts I was doing which is how I came across her course. The course is to help, those who want to study the bible, to make a habit out of it. I had already made reading the bible a habit. It was a habit for me from the very first day I picked up the bible on April 8th to begin reading it. I didn’t have to think about it or make an effort to do it. The desire to do it was there every day. In taking the course, I hoped to find a process for my bible study that would work for me. I wasn’t sure if the course would help with that but since it was free, it wouldn’t cost me anything other than time. So, I added it to my daily study/reading plan. I am about half way through it.

I can’t say the “Time With God” course is helping me find a process that works for me, at least not directly. I am learning about things like Asana which helps me in all areas of my life for tracking the things I need and want to do. I have learned about other resources for learning, like torahclass.com, which doesn’t just teach about the bible but puts what happened in ancient times in context with current times. This is what I have always hungered for. Teaching, not preaching.  So this too was added to my studies but not daily.

I have since come across other bible studies online which excite me and I want to try them. One called “Discovering Hope in the Psalms” which I felt I could do since I have read through the Psalms. Hope is something which has disappeared from my life and I want to bring it back. I haven’t started this because of all the things I already have on my plate.

Then I came across “First 5” which is mostly run on an app but can be read from the computer. I’m just not able to make comments from the computer. Their current study is in Psalms, the exact spot where I am in my handwriting of scripture, so I added it as a supplement to my handwritten study, to read for getting another perspective. I don’t have to keep up with the daily post so that works out well for doing it when I have time.

While looking at “First 5”, I discovered it was part of Proverbs 31 Ministries where they also have another bible study. They have a current study which isn’t in alignment with where I am at, I believe it is concerning marriage/relationships and since I’m not married or in a relationship, I looked at some of the ones they have archived.

One caught my eye.

“It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” And yes, I had to add it to my study schedule. Since it is an archived study, I can do it at my own pace.

I don’t know if it is apparent to the reader the progression of events since I started reading the bible. To me, it is apparent that I am being led. In, other words, shown the way.  In some cases, I am given answers to prayers which I didn’t know I had made. For instance, I knew what had happened three years ago in my life felt all “wrong” to me. So I knew as soon as I saw the title for the bible study “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” was an answer to a prayer I never purposefully formed and asked of God. He knew I needed it and in a progression of steps brought me to where I needed to be to find it.

Outside of my bible studies, what is happening in my life hasn’t changed much. I am still in a minimum wage job that doesn’t pay enough to cover my bills so my financial reserves are dwindling.

What has changed is this:

  1. I am no longer stressing daily or panicking daily over this situation.
  2. I am being taught through my bible studies to turn everything over to God and let him stress over my situation.
  3. I know without a doubt he is telling me to “be still” and let him handle things.
  4. I am learning when good and bad things happen, to equally turn to God and thank him.
  5. I have learned to be grateful for what he has already done and what he will do.

I have been given clear messages. I am given exactly what I need when I need it. There are times I am given things I didn’t even know I needed. I remember writing in my journal one day how frustrated I was over my lack of time to do things. The very next day I learned about Asana and now I’m getting more done every day than I did in the past. Not only does it help me know each day what I need to do but I no longer have to worry about whether I will forget something. When I find out I need to do something I put it in Asana, set a due date and when the day comes it is on my list to do. The interesting part is I didn’t pray about it, at least not in the traditional way. I wrote about it in my journal which tells me even when I don’t direct my thoughts to God he knows what I’m thinking and he delivers what I need when I need it.

This means, my financial situation will be fine. He knows what I need and he will deliver it. He knows better than I do. I don’t have to go out looking for it. He will bring it to me as long as I focus on him and make him my priority.

My faith has grown since starting this journey of reading the bible. I know there have been times when I didn’t believe he would provide for me. Stress would eat me alive as I sent application after application to job after job posting and anxiety would overwhelm me when I heard nothing or went through the process of an interview to only hear nothing. I believe this is God’s message to me to “be still”,  learn to make him my priority. Let the rest of this world be and focus upon him. He gives me more than I need when it comes to learning all about him. I have so many resources now I have to use something like Asana to manage them so I won’t lose track of them and I can go work through them learning more and more.

Even in the process, God revealed to me that my last name is Jewish. I may not be officially Jewish but in learning about God, I am also learning about Israel and the Jewish people. To think I could possibly be tied back to being one of Israel’s children gives me a warm feeling inside I can’t explain. I have always been curious about Jerusalem but now I feel its pull even more. I’m discovering something new all the time which brings me a bit closer to God when I do. As much as, I originally set out to learn what I could about the true God when I started reading the bible, I believe the root of that desire was based in a need to feel connected to God, deeply connected. I’m not there yet, but I can see him working to make that happen.

Caretakers? or Blight?

I am still doing my daily bible reading. Today, my reading was Psalm 47. This is a wonderful psalm of praising God and encouraging us to praise God by clapping our hands and shouting joyful praise. For some reason this psalm took me back to Genesis, probably because of its reminder that God is ruler over all the earth and that we are his creation along with the earth and this universe.

When I think of what is written in Genesis Chapter 1 v27-28 “27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.'” (NLT) my thoughts turn towards the responsibility that God gave us.

God gave us dominion over the earth and all his creations on it. He gave us the care and responsibility of this earth. In our selfishness, we have abused the earth and the power God gave to us. We have taken and taken and taken from this earth while not giving anything back. We do not tend to the fields, the forests or sea to ensure they continue to thrive, are healthy and sustain the creatures who live there. Instead, we have torn down and contaminated what God has given into our trust. It breaks my heart. If it breaks my heart what must God feel? I think he feels betrayed.

We are witnessing the decline of our earth, our responsibility. There are more than 7 billion humans on this earth. As one of those 7 billion, I look around me and think it is hopeless, that there isn’t anything I can do that would bring change to this magnificent creation God has given us. And yet, every day, I choose to try. What kind of amazing changes could happen if every person chooses to do one thing every day, whether it is to pick up a piece of trash that is on the ground that everyone walks by without seeing because it is so common place it has just become a part of our environment, or whether it is to walk instead of drive to the corner store, or choose to eliminate as much plastic usage in their life as they can or any other number of small things each person can do. Choose not to buy that product that is all wrapped in plastic, and buy the one next to it that either has no wrapping or the wrapping is completely recyclable. There are a number of things we can do that if everyone does one thing every day, change will start to occur.

We HAVE to start thinking of our responsibilities which God gave us. He entrusted us with his creation.

Maybe one of my strongest abilities is to be able to view a situation from another person’s perspective or imagine what it might be like if I was to do something which I have seen others do. When I do this I am usually able to answer such questions as: “How would I feel if ….someone took something I gave into their responsibility to care for and let it through abuse or neglect deteriorate and become almost unusable?” If someone gave me the responsibility as caretaker of their home and land while they were gone on a trip, entrusting me with its care, how would I feel as the owner of that home if I came back to find out the roof was leaking, the plants were dying, the gardens could no longer produce food to eat? As the owner, I would feel betrayed, hurt and I would grieve over the destruction of what had once been a healthy and thriving piece of land and solid piece of structure meant to protect my family.

This is how I imagine God must feel about how we have abused the responsibility he gave us as caretakers of his creation. It breaks my heart.

Some of this is bubbling up because of witnessing a group of teenagers blatantly being destructive of property they do not own. About 3 times in as many weeks, the fence to our townhouse complex has been broken. They find it hilarious to run and jump at the fence to cause the panels to break, creating a gap in the fence. The cost to repair is about $500 for each panel broken. The families who live here earn barely enough to afford the mortgage, and general living cost and to keep our strata funds sufficient for repairs. The last event was witnessed by a passerby who almost ran over the kids that were running away after they did the damage because these kids hightailed it away from the scene crossing a busy street in front of cars and trucks. The passerby had to slam on his breaks to keep from hitting them. The police were called and came to investigate.

I discovered the next day was a Pro-D day from school. One other incident happened on a Friday night. There seems to be a trend of kids being left to do as they please on nights when there are no school the next day.

We don’t just have the responsibility of this earth, we have the responsibility of raising our children to understand responsibility and consequences of their actions. Throughout the Old Testament are stories of the children of Israel being taught their responsibilities by God. He chose to take on the role of their father. Just as he has accepted the responsibility of disciplining his children, teaching them right from wrong, so should we as parents accept that same role for our children. However, as long as we neglect the responsibilities given to us, so our children will also learn to neglect the responsibilities given to them. Most children learn by example, so as long as we neglect our caretaker responsibilities don’t expect our children to care one bit for the property of others.

My daughter is so grateful she no longer attends the school these kids attend because she knows she would not be able to stand by and not defend herself, her property and her friends from these destructive kids. As a parent, I’m glad she is out of range of their influence but sorry they apparently do not have the role models they need to be responsible and God fearing people. I pray for their souls, that God will help them find a better path than the one they are on now. I pray this not only for the teenagers but for all those in need of his guidance upon this earth so that we might find our way back to being responsible for the duty as caretaker which he gave to us.

Spirit led….

I love being led by God. Being so takes me to some unexpected places. Learning to let go and just be led by God was not easy. I had to go through some growing pains. Pain is never easy. Most times I find myself rebelling against anything which causes me pain. Pain whether physical or emotional is pain. It is real. Both are equally difficult to deal with and accept in my life. But both are necessary. Both reveal an area which needs healing. Letting go and letting myself be led by God was painful. I have no doubt I am not done learning and healing this aspect of my life. I am only just now realizing that if my life is easy, without obstacles, without difficulties, then I’m stagnant and not learning, not growing, and not being led by God.

However, there is another side of this. If I am feeling resistance then I have closed myself off to what God wants for me. Being God led, doesn’t mean life will be easier, but it does mean God will give me whatever I need in my life. However, this does mean if I trust God will give me what I need, then life is easier though it might be difficult. I am slowly being taught this by God. I have seen indications of this lately even though it has been going on for some time.

My first real, “Ah Ha!” moment that God was teaching me is from 10February2019, Sunday sermon I watched online. This sermon was about living a Christian life of condemnation versus living a Spirit filled Christian life. What an eye opening sermon! It revealed to me how I have been living a Christian life of condemnation and thus living a miserable life. This is not what God meant for me to have. In just the few days since this sermon and choosing to live a Spirit filled life, things are changing. My perspective of my own life is changing. I knew living a Spirit filled life meant I would be led by the Spirit but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

My next real “Ah Ha!” moment came this morning only about an hour or so ago when I came across this post and was led to listen. This post was from an unexpected source Cinnamon and Sparkles on WordPress. Two things intrigued me enough to want to listen. The first, was the source and the second was the location of the pastor. I used to live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I’m always fascinated when I learn new things about the place and find myself drawn back there for whatever reason. I seem to have a permanent link to this town or state.

The link, in the post, is part 1 of a sermon on relationship goals. This was another reason why I was drawn to listen to it. I have never had what I would consider a successful relationship. I am drawn towards trying to understand why that would be. I generally associate the difficulties I’ve had with my childhood and what it trained me to do and how difficult it is to break this training. In some cases I have basically given up because doing it alone seems to be impossible. This sermon was another eye opening experience.

Even if my experience over the past few days had just been these two sermons, I would still believe I am being Spirit led. But every day I am being shown something. Sometimes these things seem quite small and insignificant. One step at a time, I am being taught by the Spirit that he is listening and answering my prayers. He is doing so not in any way I expected but in the way I need the most. He knows where I need healing and like a precise, well experienced surgeon, He is targeting exactly the areas where I need healing and understanding first. I am beginning to understand without taking these steps first, it would most likely be impossible for me to fulfill my God designed purpose.

It would be difficult to explain what I have learned and how my life is changing without someone first listening to the sermons, so I invite you to listen to them before reading further.

Without giving a detailed history of my life, it might be difficult for someone to understand but I’ll try. I was either pre-teen or just turned a teenager when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior. I attended church and took part in the teen classes and activities. I enjoyed it all but in the background was my family life who also attended church but was not the healthiest family life. Shortly after, my parents divorced and my relationship with a boy from church fell apart. It is obvious to me now what was going on but not to this teen who was emotionally confused her whole life. The teen leaders instead of sitting down with me and trying to help me (they knew what was happening with my parents because my parents sought church counseling, I learned many years later), put me in a room with my boyfriend and told us to talk to each other. I was unable to talk and so that is how my whole life progressed. Churches failed me in trying to help me understand and my Christian life became a life of condemnation. Never feeling good enough and never feeling part of a Christian family. For years I went back and forth between attending church and creating my own spiritual life without church. I always believed in God but never felt good enough for Him or for any church to want me or accept me. Consequently, I also condemned myself at every turn and made excuses for every sin.

My life was a roller coaster ride. From high joys to low depression. The joy usually came when I was in a relationship with a man and plummeted when I realized that relationship was over. I ended the majority of them and blamed myself. I looked for reasons and found them. I tried to conquer them and deceived myself into believing I had. This was mostly romantic relationships but I lied to myself that it didn’t bleed over into my family, friends and even business relationships. As I grew older I became more and more lost and I isolated myself more and more.

When I developed breast cancer and had a bad reaction that could have led to my death, I was devastated but not enough to turn back to God. A year later, when I was laid off of my job, I found that was even more devastating than almost losing my life. It took an emotional breakdown and two years of not being able to get a job for me to finally turn back to God. He had become my only hope.

I made a commitment to try and learn about God by reading the bible from cover to cover. I wanted to learn about Him from the Word of God and not from a preacher. My earlier years taught me that I needed to find a different way to learn so I went to the source, the Bible. Since starting to read the Bible, things have been happening. I pray and sometimes I feel my prayers are answered and then later things happen to make me see they weren’t answered in the way I thought they were. I would apply for a job I thought for sure I was being shown was the job for me, have an interview and hear nothing. I would see something online which I was sure was a message to me as an answer to a prayer and then it would all fall apart. Things would happen and then the thing that looked so promising would then crumble into pieces and disintegrate. Over and over again this would happen. Each time this happened I looked at myself to blame. I blamed myself for sabotaging it all. I would believe I wasn’t good enough. I believed all this was happening because I deserved to be punished. I was living a life of condemnation. I saw no end to it and started giving up hope.

There was one prayer I pray quite often that never changes. “God help me to become the person you want me to become.” What I didn’t see until 10February, was that God was indeed helping me to become the person he has always meant for me to be. To be the person he created me to be. On 10 February, when I learned the difference between living a life of condemnation and living a Spirit filled life, I saw for the first time what God was trying to teach me. I vowed that day and prayed that day to live a Spirit filled life and put aside condemnation.

Without a doubt in the week following, I lived cautiously. I waited for the old thought patterns to reassert themselves. I waited for overwhelming depression, and anxiety to come rolling back into my life. So far that has not happened. Instead, every day I’m shown something new. When I reveal something about myself one night, the next day I’m shown how I can overcome it or how healing can begin and I was led to the second sermon about relationships. In part one, I learned how trying to fill myself by other’s expectations is not what God wants for me. I knew that, even when I was a teen and left home and tried to live my life according to my own expectations. But, what I didn’t realize was my expectations were built off of society’s expectations and not upon the person God made me to be. As long as I continue to try and be the person built off of society’s expectations I will never feel I am good enough. WHAT AN EYE OPENING MESSAGE!

This is why I had to write this post today. What I think about my job, what I think about my relationships, friendships, family and so forth have all been built off of societal expectations.

If you find yourself with feelings of not being good enough, of not having a successful relationship, of hating your job and so forth, listen to Part 1 of “Before the Person: Relationship Goals” and see if it has a message for you. I know it did for me.

I am not going to stop there. I am going to listen to the rest of the series. I will do so when I’m led to do so by the Spirit.

Bless you and if you feel moved to leave a comment please do so.

 

Digital Journal + Bible Study

As I work more and more in my digital journal, the question arises, “How can I utilize this in my daily Bible studies?” For the past couple of months, I have been doing some research. This means I’m learning quite a bit and I thought I would share it here.

I remember hearing somewhere (I don’t remember where), that Bibles have a copyright, which means they cannot be copied, or distributed without permission from the copyright owner. I discovered in my research that each translation has its own copyright. All translations are not under the same copyright so it takes a bit of research to discover who owns the copyright for a certain translation. This was a surprise because I have seen scriptures quoted all the time without any reference to translation or copyright source. There is some leeway for quoting the Bible without express permission from the copyright owners, if you are interested there is some information and guidelines here. It is not all-inclusive so a lot of research is required if you plan to quote the Bible on a regular basis or more than a few verses. Some sources say less than 500 verses but don’t quote me on that and don’t take my word for it. DO YOUR OWN DUE DILIGENCE and research it.

One of the reasons I started researching copyright was because of coming across a couple free PDF formatted files of a couple different translations of the Bible. One source claimed the PDF they were distributing was copyright free without mentioning the source of the copyright or that they were given written permission to distribute. Discovery of the PDF file made it easy to insert the scripture I was studying into my digital journal I am using for my Bible study each morning.  Using a digital journal makes it easy to locate my notes and what scripture it is associated with. Much easier than trying to search through my Bible for any handwritten notes I have made. I still use my journaling Bible for notes and artwork but now I don’t have to rely on it or deal with the frustration of trying to find a particular topic when I can’t remember what Book, chapter and verse.

This is where digital journaling/planners have now stepped up to the plate, so to speak. For my own personal use, I can copy scripture and put it into my digital journal and write my thoughts to my heart’s content but I can’t distribute any of what I have done for others to use if it contains scripture. That is the sad part of my tale today. But the good part of the tale is it doesn’t stop individuals from including scripture in their own journals during their bible studies. It just can’t be distributed or used publicly. The digital planners (in PDF format) can then be searched to find any reference to a topic or word or name, etc. to quickly locate what was written or what is in scripture. Now, I just need to find a study method that works best for me.

During my research concerning bible study methods, I was introduced to Ann Graham Lotz. She is the daughter of Billy Graham. He is the only Evangelist which did not lose credit with me over the years. Discovering his daughter and her ministry was like hearing the hallelujah chorus go off in my head. Learning she was just diagnosed with a rather invasive breast cancer was disturbing, especially in light of my own personal experience with breast cancer.

Ann has a website supporting her ministry. On that website she provides information (both written and video) on the Bible study method she refers to as the 3-Question Bible Study Method. I haven’t incorporated it into my studies yet. I held off because in her videos she speaks of taking each verse and breaking it down with this method. My focus right now isn’t to study each verse but to focus on each book at the chapter level since I wanted to read completely through the Bible first before narrowing my focus to individual verses. Then it dawned on me I could use this method at the chapter level instead, so I started working on a page layout for the study method to use in my digital journal. I came up with two layouts:

The first layout provides an area to write the scripture being studied. This would be great for when I get down to studying at the verse level. Since I’m at the chapter level, I decided to use the second layout. You will notice there is an additional question at the bottom of the second layout.

I may alter the first one or create a third, so it includes this last question, as well, since it is included in the printable blank worksheet provided on Ann’s Ministry website. I’m just not sure if I have enough room, since I haven’t technically used either of these layouts yet. I am notorious for wanting to journal all my thoughts (A LOT) so it might be that the last question ends up on my journaling page which I will no doubt have on the opposite page from the layout when I’m studying at the verse level. I probably could have inserted a copy of the blank worksheet provided from AnGel Ministries’ website (Ann Graham Lotz’s ministry) but I wasn’t fond of the layout.

You might be wondering, “what about the scripture” on the 2nd layout but since I’ll be basing it on the whole chapter, I’ll be inserting a copy of the chapter on the opposite page where I can annotate/highlight the scripture if I so desire.

This is what my journal spread will look like before I insert the scripture on the left side of the spread:journaling bible 3-question bible study method 2 page

There is another Bible study method, called SOAP. I haven’t tried it yet even though I have seen many using it. I’m pulled more towards the 3-Question method than I am the SOAP method so I haven’t done any layouts for the SOAP method. I have seen layouts on Pinterest for the SOAP method so if you are interested in it there are layouts to be found online. You can learn about the SOAP method here.

I have no affiliation with any of the websites mentioned here. They are sites I came across in my research and bookmarked for further reference.

In case you were wondering where I am in my reading through the Bible, I started reading Psalms this morning. Job was a very interesting book to read and study. It brought up many mixed emotions for me.  I don’t compare myself to Job at all but since I have been going through a very difficult period in my life these past three years I can relate to many of the feelings expressed in Job. Where Job had friends who didn’t believe him. I have a rather short list of friends who do not live close by and do not have the means to help in my situation. My faith is the only thing sustaining me and in that I can relate rather well to Job.

 

Tangle Patterns and Affinity Designer

Last night I stayed up way too late playing around with Affinity Designer. I wondered how easy Affinity Designer could be used to create tangle patterns. I had to give it a try.

It took a bit to get the size I wanted, but that was just because I wasn’t thinking logically. When creating tangles by hand, the idea is to not use any rulers and do it all freehand. For mindful drawing purposes or for the “zen” experience I agree and also disagree. I LOVE using rulers to get my lines straight when I’m feeling the need to do so. I also LOVE ending up with wonky lines for that imperfect feel to a drawing, so it really depends upon my frame of mind at the time.

The same can be said for working in Affinity Designer. I could do it all freehand in designer to create my patterns but that wasn’t my frame of mind last night. I wanted straight lines and perfect circles, so I used the tools in Affinity Designer to accomplish it. I turned on grid lines, enabled snapping, and used the transform tool to make my circles perfectly round.

The first tangle I attacked was 2-N-5 by CZT Anita Roby-Lavery. I got all the patterns in this post from tanglepatterns.com. I realized after a few attempts when I was trying to create more than one iteration of the tangle, that I didn’t need to. All I needed to do was create the single pattern that can be repeated. To make a repeating pattern all I had to do was copy and paste it and move it to where I wanted it. Below is the single pattern and then the repeating pattern I created with 2-N-5.

2-N-5

The next pattern I chose was a bit more complicated. I chose 2A by CZT Mina Hsiao. I used the grid to ensure my lines ran as parallel as possible. Holding the shift key down when drawing the line ensures a straight line, except when it is on the diagonal. The grid helped tremendously with keeping the lines equal distance apart. Below is the single pattern and then the multiple pattern created using the single pattern. Because I created all the tangle patterns with transparent backgrounds, I quickly discovered another interesting effect. When I move the image to the position I want it to be in, I can see the pattern below it and the interesting alternative patterns one can get when they overlap, which would be impossible (or nearly impossible) to create when drawing by hand. In this case, I let the images overlap slightly which created an interesting pattern where they overlap.

2A

Next, I tackled 2V by CZT Ginny Lu. This was another step up in complication. The curved dark intersections was a challenge at first. I found I could draw a straight line, then use the node tool to add a node which then enabled me to curve the line slightly. I could then copy and paste the line and turn it in the direction I needed for other areas and alter it’s length to fit. Any white space I filled using the pixel persona’s paint brush tool to fill it in with black. As you can see I didn’t fill them all in. Leaving the center of the single image not filled in creates an interesting effect when creating the multiple patterns seen below. Again, I tried out some ways to overlap the images to create alternative patterns.

2V

The next pattern I chose was 3D-Room by CZT Mei Hua Teng. It was getting late and I didn’t want to stop but I knew I needed to get some sleep. This one was the simplest to create and the resulting overlapping pattern was just as much of a surprise and delight as the more complicated patterns above.3D Room

I can imagine endless possibilities for how I can use these patterns. As I learn more and more of what can be accomplished in Affinity Designer, those possibilities will expand further. I can say, there were moments I entered a zen type state as I created these digitally. I could feel my brain synapses firing in excitement when my eyes suddenly discovered how dragging an image over another image created endless patterns I could pursue. This isn’t limited to using one pattern. I can use any pattern I’ve created and see what it looks like when I overlap it with another pattern.

When overlapping images or combining them into a repeating pattern, I can cause either a bold line where they join or have the joined area be seamless.

I can’t wait to try out patterns with curved lines. This might turn out to be a bigger challenge but one I’m excited about trying.