Questions?

faithelisabeth

For those who are brokenhearted. For Vegas. For those grieving losses of all kinds. For those struggling to find hope through difficult seasons. For those living through unimaginable situations. For those who are navigating through the uncharted territories of life. For everyone, every day with big and little questions. Questions are okay and answers are not always on-demand. Sometimes our whys do not get answered. Sometimes injustice, evil, and fear seem to have won. They do not win and will not win. Love wins. Love overcomes. Love casts out all fear. (1 John 4:18)

Lift your eyes and heart heavenward, trust in the One who overcame death, do not rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), and pray! Pray your honest, heart-wrenching, questioning prayers. Cast your cares and worries on Jesus. Find rest and refuge in Him. Jesus knows what suffering, agony, and grief feels like and He has the power to mend broken hearts and redeem lives. Pray for one another. Come alongside one another. Help carry each other’s burdens. Love one another. Be bold in faith and bring it all to Him.

 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;

    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

John 14:1 (NLT)

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

John 14:27 (NLT)

 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

1 John 4:4 (NLT)

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 (NLT)

 

The Germiest and Messiest Places

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There we were in one of the germiest, grimiest places to be-a public restroom. The three of us, heads huddled together, looked down into the bowl of the toilet. I could see it. In my attempts to protect my children from the germy seat with layers of toilet paper, my favorite earring had slipped from my ear and splashed into the “pool of germs.”  Fortunately, it had not gone down into the abyss but instead lay sparkling, mocking me from the depths of the “clear” water.

Ummm…. now what? Should I stick my hand in the water and get it? NO!! No, I could not bring myself to do it. Maybe I could fish it out with something but then I realized my purse was outside with a friend. Deciding I really needed to have my purse, if not for some gadget at least for some comfort, I sent my oldest daughter to get it for me.

As I waited, I opened the door of the stall. I felt a little loss, needed some sympathy, and possibly some help from my fellow bathroom compadres. And on a more practical level, I wanted to make sure no one  flushed the toilet. Then all hope would be gone.

I tried to make eye contact with the women who came through the door. I stated my plight loudly enough for most to hear. Some women ignored me but many women curiously andwith empathetically peeked into the bowl, shaking their heads as they left, and agreeing it was a bad situation.

And then there was Linda. Oh, Linda!

Linda was different. She heard my appeal for help. She listened to my situation and decided to do something about it.  Without giving it much thought, Linda rolled up her sleeve and heroically reached deep into the toilet waters retrieving my earring. She carried it over to the sink and scrubbed her hands and scrubbed my earring. Then she carefully dried my earring and handed it to me with care and the instructions to CAREFULLY and THOROUGHLY sanitize my earring before I wore it again. (That will NOT be a problem, Linda! I promise!) I thanked her over and over again but she just smiled and said it was really no big deal. Maybe it wasn’t a big deal to Linda BUT it was big deal to me!

You know, I cannot help but think of what it would be like if we were all a little more like Linda. I am not saying we need to stick our bare hands into germy public toilet bowls. (Although, carrying plastic dish gloves in our purses may come in handy one day.)  What I am saying is this, what if we went along our schedules and agendas with the readiness to be interrupted? What if we tuned our hearing and focused our sight on the cries for help from people around us? What would it look like to join people in their messiness?

There are a lot of people who are stuck in messy and unhealthy situations. We often worry we don’t have what it takes to help and so we ignore or walk on by. While we cannot pull people out of their situations or fix things for them, we can come around them and let them know they are not alone.  We can care for them by providing a listening ear, a smiling face, a hand on the shoulder. We can join them in their messiness by not judging them and “wash” them over with prayer, friendship and love. And then we can “wrap” them in a big hug.

Most of all, we can help people find resources, hope and the One who defeated death. After death has been defeated, is there anything Jesus can’t do? Remember, Jesus met people in the messiest places, surrounded by the germiest people and He was their hope and new life. When we come before Him with our messes or better yet, when we come before Him together with our messes, we can expect that Jesus has the power to save, to rescue, and make ways for people when there seems to be no other ways possible.

For those of us who are followers of Jesus, we are called to walk in His ways and with His Spirit upon us we are called to preach the good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of the slight to the blind, and set those who are oppressed free. (Luke 4:18-19) Most of all we are called to have faith and LOVE! (1 John 3:23-24) I think love starts with listening and looking for those in need.

So Linda, wherever you are, THANK YOU AGAIN! Thank you so much for your kindness.

And thank you Jesus, for allowing me these unusual, uncomfortable, and hilarious situations I often find myself in. What I learn from these “opportunities,” I hope will always be for your glory and your Kingdom work. ❤

PS Please note that this picture is a reenactment in a thoroughly cleaned and sanitized toilet. I wish I had snapped a picture during the unfortuante event but it was the last thing on my mind. LOL

Seek and Believe-A Study of the Gospel of Luke-Scripture Plan

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You will watch a generation of Christians-of Christians-set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible . This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon what whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH and LOVE?

– Beth Moore

If we are going to be a generation of Jesus followers who follow Jesus well. A generation who keeps His commandments, live like Him, love like Him, then we are going to have to think like Him and KNOW Him well. We can sit under good teaching, read books by good and faithful people, and we can discuss things of faith with others BUT when it comes down to it, each of us, as individuals need to know how to distinguish between truth and lies (with discernment given by the Holy Spirit.)

The only way to get to know someone well is to spend time with them. To get to know Jesus, we need to go right to God’s word. Spend time in prayer and read scripture. Jesus wants us to seek Him, ask questions, believe in His words, rest at His feet, and experience His love as we learn to walk faithfully with Him.

Over the next months, our Sisterhood will be studying through a series on the gospel of Luke. We are going to focus on getting to know Jesus well- what he did, what he said, who he said it to, who he associated. My prayer is through our prayers and scripture readings, God would work on our hearts, help us become more like Jesus, and know both TRUTH and LOVE so that we can become faithful disciples and more willing servants of Him.

Below is a scripture reading plan for the Gospel of Luke. There are five scripture passages for each week. Grab your Bible, grab a journal, maybe a cup of coffee. I have developed a tool, using Luke as an acronym, to help in our study of the scriptures. As you pray and read through each of the scriptures, I hope you find what God has for you to discover.

Please join us (virtually) and in person at our Sisterhood gatherings on this journey to seek and believe in Jesus, Son of Man. I will be praying for you!

luke-study-guide

L- Look towards God in prayer ( Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9)  Don’t go to  the scriptures looking for your idea, go searching for his.

U Read prayerfully and carefully to understand  Proverbs 2:1-3, “Call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding. and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of  the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

KKeep and store commands within your heart– Proverbs 2:10-11,” For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant for your soul. Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you.” Deuteronomy 11:18

EExplore– What does this mean to me and my relationship to Jesus? How does it apply to my life? Where can this passage lead to me to deeper and new places with Jesus? (James 1:22, Ephesians 5:1-2)

lukescripturestudyplan

Click link below to download plan….

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Advent-“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Day 16-17-18-19-20-21-22-23-24-25 Craft Ideas

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The most wonderful time of the year is here. A time of anticipation, expectant waiting, and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. One of my family’s favorite ways to be reminded of the treasures and gifts of this season is reading along with Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. 

Last year, my girls and I crafted an ornament each day to correspond with the daily advent readings from the book. This post is the last in a series of ornament/craft ideas which I have created and collected. You can find the complete collection for Day 1-2Day 3-4-5-6Days 7-10, and Days 11-15 by clicking on the blue links.

There many ideas on the internet for Bible story crafts. Below are some of my original ideas, borrowed ideas, and ideas inspired by talented artists and bloggers. Credit for any borrowed idea is noted below the picture. If you decide to make and share one of my craft ideas, I would to love to see it. Tag me on Instagram or send me a link to your blog post.

day16advent

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Materials: card stock, markers, scissors, glue (hot glue), clothespin

I loved this craft idea from His Wondrous Work and thought “Why not turn it into an ornament?” I printed the templates on two pieces of colored card stock (one piece skin- tone and the other gray) and then carefully cut them out. The whale needs to be sticking out beyond the clothespin so Jonah can pop out without getting stuck. Make sure you line up the whale and Jonah on the clothespin before gluing the pieces down. I had to move the whale further up the clothespin in order to make the pieces fit properly.

http://www.hiswondrousworks.com/JONAH%20and%20the%20GREAT%20FISH%20Craft.pdf

day17advent

Materials: can, black card stock, twine for wrapping around the can, sand, paper-piercing tool , glue

Wash and dry a small can (I used an Old El Paso Chilies can.) Wrap and glue twine around the outside. Create a cityscape with black card stock. It took me several trials to get the right size city to fit into the can. Once I had the correct size, I used a paper-piercing tool to created the windows and doors. Using sand and glue,  I made desert at the bottom of the can. Then, I folded the bottom of the city so it would stand upright and glued the city to the sand.

For added effect, hang the ornament near a small tree light to add background light.

cityscape-ornament

day18advent

Materials: pipe cleaners, gems, hot glue

To make the crown, I followed the directions listed at the link below. After the crown had its basic shape, we “blinged-out” our crowns with faux pearls and gems.

http://littleinspiration.com/2014/01/diy-photo-prop-crown.html

day19advent

Materials:  toilet paper roll, silver paint, sharpie marker, gray card stock, Stampin’ Up Dimensionals.

Paint the toilet paper roll silver. While waiting for the paint to dry, cut out the top of watchtower from gray card stock paper. Once dry, draw bricks and a door on the tower with a Sharpie or black paint pen. Put Dimensionals around the top and wrap the tower paper over the Dimensionals and around to a close. This will give the paper a small lift and make the shapes have more depth. Hole punch and string to hang.

day20advent

Materials: Chalkboard paper, silver glitter gel pens or paint markers.

At back-to-school time, I had bought a chalkboard banner from Target’s dollar spot. For this ornament, I cut apart the banner and used one of the circles to write on and decorate. Super easy and cute.

Here are other craft ideas for Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story.

http://biblecraftsandactivities.com/crafts-for-zechariah-and-elizabeth/

day21advent

Materials: sandal template printed on colored card stock (see link below); something to lace with (twine, small ribbon); hole punch.

For today’s reading and craft. I decided to focus on “Prepare the Way” rather than “Thunder in the Desert.” This adorable sandal craft template has easy directions to follow which are found at the link website below. The sandal is a bit large (it might fit a toddler) for what you might think of as a traditional sized ornament but in our house the bigger the better. 🙂 It is really cute and great for lacing and shoe tying practice.

http://www.jesus-without-language.net/john-the-baptist-matthew-3-make/

day22advent

Materials:  1 rounded clothespin, 3 regular size popsicle sticks, 2 half-popsicle sticks,  half of a pipe cleaner for halo, 1 white feather for wings, paint, glitter

Paint the top of the rounded clothespin as a head with hair. (I made the angel one-sided so the side not seen does not have to be painted perfect.) Paint the bottom half of the clothespin white. Paint all the popsicle sticks white and sprinkle glitter over them while the paint is wet. Once the paint is dry, hot glue the two longer popsicle sticks on the back of the rounded clothespin. Glue them close together but slightly angled away from each other. Glue the third popsicle stick on top of the other two, directly in the middle. Glue one “wing” (half-sized popsicle stick) on at a time. Then take the feather and hot glue into place over both of the wings. Make a small ring for a halo. Glue in place.

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day23advent

Materials:  card stock (glittery silver, gray for the saw; brown or wood colored for handle); handsaw template (see link below), scissors and glue

I saved the image of the saw pattern found from the website below and made it smaller in a word document. I made it so two templates could fit on my page. Then I traced each part of the saw, glued it together, and punched a hole for the string. The hardest part of this craft was tracing and cutting out the teeth on the saw blade.

http://patternuniverse.com/download/saw-pattern/

day24advent

Materials: white card stock, paper punches (circle and ovals), straw or raffia, brown paint

Cut the card stock into a circle. Paint hand with brown washable paint and stamp off toward the side of the circle. Add “hay” and make baby Jesus with the punched shapes. Add a cute, little face. 🙂

day25advent

Materials:  glittery gold scrapbook paper, fabric scrap

It’s Christmas! In consideration of Christmas day and all that comes with it, today’s craft is a very simple one. Cut a star out of the gold scrapbook paper and a red cross out of the fabric. Glue the cross on the star and hole punch.

100 Things to Pray For (A 100th Day of School Activity)

100daysofschoolidea

I realize that most of us have already hit the 100th day of school mark and the celebrations have already been held. But I want to share with you a project that can be done any day of the year.

I love the 100th day of school-the fun with math, the activities, the achievement and celebration of learning. My girls love it too. Every year, I try to come up with some new ideas to celebrate the milestone.  This year, I came up with a few but this was the most important one.

100thingstoprayabout

I may have mentioned before how much I love prayer time with my children. It has become one of my favorite parts of our homeschool mornings. About a year ago, I took the time to write the names of our family and friends on cardboard hearts. I threw all the hearts into a small container. Each morning, we would each pull a heart from the bucket. The name on the heart was the person we prayed for throughout the day.

Our prayers have not and are not limited to what heart we pull from the container. We always pray for who/what has been placed our own heart and pray for the big, small, and those things important to each of us.

A few month ago, I started to find the small container needed a bit of refreshment. There were so many more people, things, and requests that had not been written on a heart. An idea was born.

I grabbed some chart paper and numbered it 1-100. The kids and I sat at the kitchen counter and in no particular order, started shouting out 100 people/things to pray for.  (If you see your name and wonder why you are not closer to the number one spot, now you know why. Position does not equal importance. 🙂 )

100thingstoprayaboutcloseup

After the chart was filled, I took 100 bottle caps and wrote the numbers 1-100 on them. I had come across a treasure trove of odd and ends in our church attic and these caps were perfect for this purpose. You do not not have to use bottle caps though. Numbered paper or cardstock works great too!

100daysofschoolprayerAfter all the bottle caps were numbers and collected into a big bowl, we took turns pulling a cap from the lot. We read the number and referred to the chart to see who (or what) we would be praying.  The first day we did this, I pulled #61- MOPS.  It just so happened that I had a MOPS meeting that afternoon. MOPS got some extra, extra, extra, extra prayers that day!

100dayspickaprayer

We have incorporated this prayer chart and bottle caps into our homeschool morning routine. Over the next few months, I would like to have the kids write “100 Praises and Answered Prayers” or “100 Blessings” or “100 Good Gifts.”  I think that would really help to emphasize thanksgiving and praise in our prayers.

If you have toddlers at home, please include them in praying out loud. I absolutely include my two year old. He loves to be part of this special time. He watches and listens to us as we model prayer for him. And when its his turn to pray, his prayers are sweet music to my heart. I know that the prayers of all of us are pleasing to God. (Revelation 5:8)

Here are a few verses on the importance of praying for others:

“Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” 1 Timothy 2:1 ESV

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16  ESV

 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”  Matthew 5:44 ESV

 

 

 

 

How Instagram Helped Improve My Day

New PerspectiveSo we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,as we look not to things that are seen but to things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient but the things that are unseen are eternal.  ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

My deep sleep was abruptly cut short by a loud call from the other room, “MAMA, MAMMMA!!” Hazy and groggy, my bare feet hit the cold floor and walked the familiar path to where my warm, fuzzy robe hung. I pulled the robe off the hook, slowly wrapping its comfort around me and headed toward my son’s room.

For almost three years, day after day, this has been my morning routine. No alarm clocks needed in my house. When my son gets up, I get up. I normally do not mind an early start to the day. But today, with a dreary, grey sky and a ground coated with snow, I just wanted to curl under the heavy, down comforter that warms my bed.

I brought my son downstairs hoping that his cries did not wake his two big sisters. I started to think how nice it would be to have a few quiet minutes to myself once I got my son settled with breakfast and some toys. A very happy vision of me sitting at the kitchen table with my Bible and a HOT cup of coffee (not one that had been reheated in the microwave) started to perk up my senses and improve my mood. My thoughts were short lived.

Seconds after my son’s breakfast was served, the kitchen door flew open and two very sleepy-eyed girls walked in complaining that they had heard their brother and could no longer sleep.  The girls took their spots at the kitchen counter silently indicating that they were ready for breakfast. Some grumpy words and unspoken exchanges took place among us. I joylessly toasted the bread, rudely slathered on butter, smeared the jam, and pushed the breakfast plates towards my children.  Besides my son, who was happily playing, it would seem that us girls woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

I needed to a “redo,” a restart of my day. Some fresh air would do me some good. My husband was up so I grabbed my camera, threw on some snow boots, and shut my bad mood in the door behind me.  The temperature was warmer than I expected and I breathed in the moist air. A couple of inches of snow had fallen overnight and a thin layer of ice crusted over the top. The snow crunched as I stepped through it. Each step seemed to lighten my mood. I lifted my camera and started to explore through its lens.  My bad mood dissipated with each click and shutter sound.

I am no expert photographer but I enjoy taking pictures. Since joining Instagram, I love photography even more. I often find myself looking at an ordinarily objects with a new fascination and with a different perspective. Pictures have turned into more than an just an image. Emotions and words come alive in them.

My kids were quiet and occupied when I got back to the house. I was finally able to sit down at the kitchen table with my Bible and a reheated-cup of coffee. I previewed my pictures and was captivated by this flower. The image led me to words and thoughts that brought my mood full circle.  I posted the following in an Instagram post.

New Perspective

“This flower reminds me of the verses from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. It has long lost its petals and brilliant color. An icy glaze coats its memory. But within it, a seed remains. A seed with the possibility of growing into a more beautiful flower than before. A seed that will take root in the nutrient-rich earth that was renewed by a long, hard winter. A seed that will birth a flower of more vibrant color, graced with bolder petals and a stronger stem. 

We are like this flower. Enduring trials, experiencing difficulties, surviving with God’s grace and strength. These are good things. Things that lead us to growth, a more beautiful self, and prepares us for greater service with eternal results for the glory of God. #deepthoughts #winter #growth #nature #flower #donotloseheart#2Corinthians #noticinggoodness”

One picture, one post, God’s voice heard, a changed heart and mind. My day started over then. Joy seeped back in. I hugged my kids. They hugged me back. I threw out my agenda. I surrendered and was blessed.

When I popped back on Instagram later that day, a comment was left under the picture, thanking me for the words that were posted. I thought how easily we can influence each other in our bad moods and in good moods, encouraging each other or tearing each other down. Social media can fuel many hurtful, unkind things. But it can also be used for the good. A tool that can foster creativity and community. A place where inspiring and encouraging words can be shared and perspectives changed.

Advent-“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Day 7-8-9-10 Craft Ideas

Advent Crafts
“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Ornament and Craft Ideas

This is Part 3 in a series of ornament/craft ideas that I think correspond with the daily advent readings from Ann Voskamp’s book “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.”  Read about Day 1-2 here  and Day 3-4-5-6 here.You can find many ideas on the internet for Bible story crafts. Below are some of my original ideas and some that I modified from Pinterest. I gave credit for those craft ideas that I borrowed. If you decide to make and share one of my craft ideas, I would to love to see it. Tag me on Instagram or send me a link to your blog post. 🙂

day7altar

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:1-2

Materials Needed

-mini wooden craft sticks

-colored tissue paper

-glue gun

1.) “Build” a fire with the tissue paper. Tape it in place, around the bottom, so it forms a flowery-bunch.

2.) Build the sticks around the fire, hot glue sticks in place.

 

Jacob's Ladder“12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!” Genesis 28:12

Materials Needed:

-Large Craft Sticks

-Mini Craft Stick

-Wood glue or hot glue

1.) Glue sticks together to resemble a ladder.

2.) Paint the sticks. (PS  I am sure when I do this craft with the kids, their ladders will be colorful, bedazzled, and might include a few angels on the steps.)

 

joseph's coat of many colors

 

“3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. ” Genesis 37:3

I cannot wait to do this craft with my kids. I had fun making it and the colors mixed together so beautifully.

Materials Needed:

-Coffee filter

-scissors

-paper towels

-food coloring  (liquid), water

-bulb pipettes  ( We have the Coloring Mixing Set from  The Homegrown Preschooler  The set comes with pipettes. Amazon has them too.)

1.) Fold the coffee filter in half. Cut out the shape of a long-sleeved coat.

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2.) Put the coffee filter on top of a few layers of paper towels. Mix food coloring with a few drops of water.  You want the colors concentrated and not watered down.

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3.) Squeeze some color in the pipette and drop onto the coffee filter in a polka dotted fashion. The colors will start to run and blend into each other.

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4.) When the filter is completed covered with color, allow to dry. No two coats will be the same.

 

day10tencommandments

“And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today” Deuteronomy 5:5

Materials Needed:

-dark colored cardstock

-gray and white crayons

-skewer

1.) Pressing heavily down on a gray crayon, color over the card-stock. Repeat with the white crayon. The colors should resemble stone.

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2.) Cut out the card stock to resemble two tablets.

3.) Use a skewer to write roman numerals.

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4.) Punch hole and hang on the tree.