February Heart Swap

How grateful I am to Laurie who hosted this SWAP in February!

Check it out to see what art I’ve squeezed in this month.

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Substantial Fiction

Okay, I promise I won’t entitle every blog post this year “Substantial,” but I did think it was appropriate to use it at least one more time. I find that if I am reading a work of fiction, it helps keep my mind in an active, positive state. I am usually reading one of Terry Pratchett’s books. Right now, it’s Moving Pictures. Does this qualify as “substantial”? I would actually say it does since most of Pratchett’s books make a social commentary while they are making me laugh.

I am also re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra. Oh, how I love this man’s writing. Substantial? Most definitely.

What are you reading?

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Substantial Eating

I really benefit from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook. When Amelia bought his Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less cookbook, I thought it would be another great resource for bringing some variety to our healthy meals. I’m now reading through the winter recipes and noting which dishes really appeal to me at first glance.

I’m hoping to add some tasty NEW dishes to our menus–specifically to the menu items that I, following the South Beach Diet guidelines for consuming low glycemic index, high fiber carbs and good fats, plan to eat. My goal is to experience a sense of having had a substantial meal. I’ll let you know….


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Substantial Reading

One of the most helpful books I’ve read in recent history is Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman. I’m now reading her new book, A Million Little Ways. I believe that there is a lot of substance in what Emily has written about uncovering the art I was made to live. I’ll let you know.


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Substance, Blogging and Vulnerability

One thing about Substance and blogging is that if I am writing about substantial things, there will be an element of vulnerability. Am I willing to risk that to involve others in conversation about what is substantial? I am pondering that right now. And so is THIS BLOGGER.

What do you think?

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One Word: Substance

God has allowed me enough margin in my life at the beginning of 2014 to actually contemplate blogging a little. So, it seems appropriate to start off with the One Word that has been rattling around in my head for a week: Substance.

Perhaps it is just a reflection of the holiday season, but it seems that lately I have been exposed to quite of bit sentiment and not a lot of substance. I want to separate the sentimental fluff from the gospel-bearing substance in my life. Sometimes fluff is okay and even necessary. However, I believe when the balance lies on the side of substance in my life, I am nourished and energized.

Practically, for me, this means continuing to desire, seek and enjoy substantial music, books and experiences. This applies to relationships, too. And exercise and eating. And how I choose to use my time each and every day.

So, while I’m not anti-New-Years’-resolutions, I think that this One Word provides an easy focal point for 2014. So, here’s to a new year. And Substance.

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So Much to Say

I have had to triage all of my tasks, mandatory and optional, for the last several months. Obviously, one of the tasks “left for dead” in this accident-scene-known-as-my-life is blogging. However, even though I do not assign time and energy to blogging right now, my mind is constantly writing blog posts. And I’ve been thinking about that.

When I read THIS and THIS today, I thought about how bloggers have influenced me with their words and how I am glad that they take the time to write. I also thought about the comment that there are so many young bloggers out there. These two ideas have been floating around in my non-blogging brain for weeks, anyway.

First, I am truly grateful for the bloggers who are brave enough to write honestly and vulnerably. I think of THIS BLOGGER and THIS ONE and THIS ONE, for example, who seem to be willing to write about deep, meaningful or painful personal subjects without fear. I wish I were one of them. (Even using the triage analogy at the beginning of this post took convincing myself that if someone reading it had some judgmental thought about my life’s “not being so bad as all that,” that I would just be brave and be true to my own experiences.) I wish I were one of them because when they courageously and honestly share their struggles or challenges or doubts or fears, I am encouraged that I am not alone. And I would like to provide that encouragement to others who are trudging down this path of life. Which brings me to:

Second, I am not a young blogger. Consequently, I have had a few years of life experiences from which God has taught me a lot about myself, Himself, my relationship to Him, my relationships with others, how to clean my house, how to rear children who are delightful adults, etc., etc., etc. I actually have meaningful things to say that might help someone else along the way. But, owing to the bravery issue, I hesitate.

So, there you have it. I am musing about blogging today. I hope that God eventually allows me the time and energy to blog regularly again. And the bravery.

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Do you have a “word” for the year? Many bloggers do. I guess I am not one of them, BUT I think God has given me a “word”, anyway. He keeps impressing on my mind and heart the concept of margin.

If my fuzzy memory recalls correctly, the concept of margin buzzed around a few years ago. Well, it’s definitely buzzing around again–in my brain. So, I have been asking God what He wants me to contemplate with respect to margin. Here is what I am considering so far:

1. He grants margin. It is from Him. I cannot force margin into my life;

2. When He grants it, I am praying that He allows me to recognize it;

3. When He grants it, I am praying that He shows me how to be a good steward of it, to cherish and protect it.

My life has been without much margin for so long, that I am wondering what it might look like. In my case, I think it might have something to do with continuing to be very intentional with time and resources. We have been forced by circumstances to be intentional with time and resources and I think God wants us to continue in that.

I’m pondering allowing adequate, realistic amounts of time to accomplish my responsibilities. I’m thinking about very intentionally directing any excess resources. I’m contemplating rest as a non-negotiable component of our lives.

So, God, You have me getting ready for some margin. Bring it on!

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Embracing Obscurity: A Book Review

When Joey, Tim and I went to the National Desiring God Conference in September, we naturally picked up a LOT of new reading material. Some of these books we purchased and some we were given. When I got home, I thought that I would delve into some of the books I had intentionally acquired, but the one I ended up finishing first was a freebie: Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous. This book was, indeed, penned anonymously by an author who claims that “we’re intoxicated with a desire to be known, recognized, appreciated, and respected” and that “our intoxication draws us away from our Maker and His mission.”

So, what did I think about this book? Well, there were some things I liked:

1. I think that the topic is exceptionally timely. Everywhere I look, I see people striving to be “better known” or more influential, especially, especially on the internet;

2. The author constructed a very interesting chart comparing Christ’s disposition of humility vs. Satan’s disposition of pride and their subsequent outcomes;

3. There is an emphasis on God’s ultimate, eternal significance (vs. a temporary, fading significance) that we receive when we join our lives to His and that there’s a difference between feeling significant because we are needed or because we can do something for someone and being significant because God delights in us–in us, not what we can do for Him;

4. There is also acknowledgment that in the trenches of “little sufferings” (demotions, hard breaks, layoffs, menial jobs, etc.), we learn to “defer to God our dreams of being well-known, respected, and admired.”

There were also a couple of things that I didn’t like:

1. I am used to the casual language of blog posts. I do not like to hear that “blog voice” coming from the pages of a book. It was very distracting to me and I felt like the message was diluted at times by this informal presentation;

2. I am very wary of the promotion of any one course of action being more spiritual than any other course of action. Perhaps this was not the author’s intention, but I got the feeling that I should be preferring obscurity over (worldly) significance by the time I finished the book. The bottom line for me is that I want to be embracing Jesus Christ, by God’s grace. Then I am able to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. His voice will let me know what He wants me to do, whether that involves obscurity or notoriety.

So, if you are exhausted because you are striving for significance in some area of your life, this book might offer some practical help. Otherwise, I did not consider this one of the top reads of my year. And, now…on to the next book!

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Art Night Monsters

Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun by Carla Sonheim instructed us to create some one-eyed monsters for Art Night.














Are you scared, now? Or laughing?!

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