“What did she use this time?” The kind man who cleans my white carpets squats down to inspect the splashed rainbow.

“Acrylic and oils.” I show him the finished masterpiece displayed on the easel above the carpet’s danger zone.

He nods appreciatively, and from his arsenal of stain removers, sprays over the area what I assume to be an anti-acrylic and an oil neutralizing solution.

“You must see this kind of cleanup project a lot in your business.” I think of the dropped plate of spaghetti he cleaned last time he was here.

“Not like this.” He gives the fading spot a thorough scrub. “Backed up toilets, pet stains, and shoes that should have been left at the door.”

I nod because he has cleaned all those at my house, too. And I remember when my young daughter showed me her painting. Her face had been alight with the artistic freedom that comes when her hands have translated her heart to canvas. Just as much paint lay on the carpet below and as she followed my gaze, she was incredulous.

“Sorry, Mom, I didn’t see that.”

Of course not. Nor did she remember to use a drop cloth the three times before. Which is how I have gotten to know the carpet cleaning guy well enough that he took one of our kittens home to his family.

Home is the art studio for life. And like all art studios, they are creatively messy, reflecting developing people, talents, and relationships. There is a tension between keeping a tidy house and using the living areas for – well – living.

The mother of Orville and Wilbur Wright commonly directed family and guests to eat meals in the living room since the dining room table was spread with the brothers’ latest invention. Because Mrs. Wright designated space for her children to test ideas, Orville and Wilbur turned the possibility of flight into reality. That mother’s legacy outlives her for all of history because she gave wings to her sons long before they learned how to fly.       

Our Creator, God surrounds us with opportunity to create beauty. By extending to one another big and small acts of kindness, respect, and thoughtfulness on a consistent basis during good times and challenging days, people form relationship glue, those touch points that hold us together despite crisis and through celebrations. Those connections, poignant moments, and laughing-until-milk-comes-out-our-nose form a shared history and confirm that we belong. Together.

We are most like God when we create and forgive. When we paint with abundantly broad strokes of grace and love, we form relationship glue.

PeggySue Wells

PeggySue Wells

PeggySue Wells is the bestselling author of 29 books including Homeless for the Holidays, The Girl Who Wore Freedom, and Chasing Sunrise. Watch for her newest book, Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make with Pam Farrel, releasing in September. Connect with PeggySue at www.PeggySueWells.com.

 

 

 

 

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Our winter season in Michigan has been mild. No subzero temps or newsworthy blizzards to report. I am grateful for that.

But the heavy, gray clouds that linger for days and even weeks, make me feel like I am trapped in a colorless dome.

Last week we flew to Texas to visit my daughter’s family. Shortly after takeoff, the plane penetrated the thick mass and ushered us into an atmosphere of endless blue sky and brilliant sunshine. It was a mood-altering moment that brought joy to my soul.

Most of us face difficult circumstances now and then. The weight of our problems can make us feel like we are engulfed in a heavy, dark cloud. But when we give our concerns to Jesus and trust him to guide us through our struggles, he will usher us into his light.

Jesus is the light of the world. When we follow him, he will remove the darkness and restore our joy. No matter how heavy your problems are today, remember there is blue sky above the clouds.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”  John 8:12 (NIV).

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children. Her non-fiction books include Mothers in Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms. She is a speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a monthly contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music.

(Photo by Thomas Urquhart on Unsplash)

 

 

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Prayerwalking: Walking for your health, praying for your community

Just over twenty years ago I found myself falling apart physically. I was huffing and puffing going up stairs. I needed painkillers to sleep. And the turning point occurred when I fell down the back steps because my knee had given way.

I needed to do something about my health, but I also knew God had been nudging me to spend more time with him. So I decided to get up a little earlier the next day to walk, and while I walked I would take care of my prayer lists.

There was a lot of my-ness in those prayers: my marriage, my kids, my teaching job. But that changed when I saw a young man entrust his blanketed little girl to the daycare worker outside Toddler Towers in our town of eight hundred in the Sierra Valley.

At that moment before six in the morning that little girl said, “Bye, Daddy. I love you.”

And I knew right then that God had me out on the streets of my town not so much for the my-ness of my prayers but more for the needs of the people in my community.

Walking as an exercise is making a comeback, and as we embrace it, we can multi-task our miles by praying for our neighborhoods. Here are some suggestions to carry it off well:

  • Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy clothes—just a good pair of shoes and clothes that address weather needs.
  • Schedule your walk. Put your prayerwalking times on your calendar. I’ve made the commitment to be out the door by 4 p.m. daily.
  • Leave the buds. Music or podcasts can distract you from noticing the prayer needs around you, as well as oncoming traffic.
  • Pray for what you see: schools, homes, commuters, and more.
Janet McHenry

Janet McHenry

Prayer Walk

Janet Holm McHenry is the author of twenty-four books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer and Strength and Discipline. She loves to speak about how God has transformed her life as she has partnered with Him in prayer. Connect with Janet through her Facebook author page, her group called The Walking Club, or her website: https://www.janetmchenry.com.

 

 

 

 

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I was just eighteen when I landed my dream job writing for our local newspaper during college. After graduation I joined the full-time staff, covering news stories and writing special features and a weekly column where I shared my Christian convictions. This brought invitations to speak for church and civic events.

What wisdom did a twenty-something have to share? My favorite presentation, “Living in Joy,” I packed with quotes and Scriptures about happiness and how to find it. Being young and eager to tackle life’s big questions, I didn’t have much spiritual depth—but I offered a solid solution to every problem. Jesus.

Many years have passed and I still offer only one solution to every problem. Jesus. But I’ve learned much more about following Him through sunshine and shadows.

I discovered joy isn’t the destination. It’s the journey. It’s part of the luscious fruit produced by the Holy Spirit when we’re fully surrendered to Christ: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Joy doesn’t depend on perfect circumstances. It depends on our trust in a perfect God who designs our circumstances and allows everything for a purpose. I don’t have to see His purpose to believe He has a purpose.

In baffling places where I see no purpose, this verse satisfies me. “For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36 Amplified).

If nothing else, He’s developing patience and endurance. I can live in joy, confident He is in control and working on purpose.

These choices are key to a joy-filled journey:

  • Living in a state of continual forgiveness
  • Forgetting the past
  • Casting every care on the Lord
  • Choosing joy

Whatever challenge you’re facing today, don’t let it rob your joy. Choose joy!

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

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“The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’” (Exodus 33:14 NIV).

I yawned  and groaned as I glanced at my goals and my to-do list. Instead of getting shorter, the lists seemed to be growing—exponentially. The past year had been insanely demanding.

In a regular year I would have worked a job, invested time into writing on evenings and weekends, and farmed my small acreage. Enough to keep a single woman hopping. But this last year I added designing a cottage and barn to build on my farm.

Then I acted as a general contractor, supervising the crews of men, and had the cottage and barn built. My energy meter registered an all-time empty. Worse yet, I felt I hadn’t done justice to my job, writing, or my crop.

Setting the to-do list aside, I picked up my Bible and whined at God.

All I want is to rest. As I read God’s word I had a crazy thought. You heaped this on yourself. Don’t go whining to God.

All my life I’ve been an active person, striving to accomplish more than the year before. But, as I prayed for God to reveal to me what to do this year, I was impressed that I was to put a new resolution on the top of my list for 2020–REST.

The past few weeks have been a struggle as I have endeavored to rest physically, getting enough sleep and taking down time; rest emotionally by stopping my run-away to-do thoughts; and rest spiritually, knowing that God desires to give me rest and it’s up to me to choose to do it.

Lord, help us to remember in this performance-driven world that Your desire is for us to rest. Amen.

Rebecca Ondov:  evenings and on weekends of 2020 Rebecca Ondov of Hamilton, Montana is planning adventures kayaking mountain lakes and horseback-riding Rocky Mountain trails with Sunrise, her golden retriever, trotting by her side. She invites you to connect with her on her Website: RebeccaOndov.com and on her Facebook author page, where nearly every day she posts a quote to inspire you, which she calls a “Morning Pondering.”

 

 

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