You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1, NIV)
Don’t the words make you want to cry out to God? David is in the desert and experiencing real thirst. In today’s world, we too are thirsty for His Presence.
In the Numbers passage,
We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them. (Numbers 13:33, NIV)
We see problems as huge but to God, they are not. We must give God the problems and He will take care of them.
From Matthew. What a confusing passage that is.
I think what I heard is the Jesus is the New Testament church. We are of His body. We want to live with the mind of Christ. We don’t need buildings, idols or listening to man. We need to listen to God. We have freedom because we are Sons of God (children of God).
From those readings came this poem.
Freedom to Live
Jesus is a newness A freshness A thirst-quenching Drink
The old of Man’s rules Has past
Following Jesus Gives us the Freedom to Listen to God Ourselves
Jesus helps us to Understand scripture To read between The Lines
No longer shackled No longer bound We can live full To follow Jesus
Let’s step out And do the work He has called us To do
Do you need to kick start your creativity? A few years ago I wrote this post. But right now I needed to read it again. Maybe you do too.
The last month has been one of change — in my thinking, in my reading, in my writing and most of all in my decision to try to spend more time with my creative side.
After running and organizing a small Vacation Bible School this summer for the 7th time, I finally realized that this is what I LOVE. Truly love. But I also realize that I am not as young as I used to be. Physically the week pushed me beyond my limits. Thankfully God is good and in His strength I excelled.
But it also rekindled my desire to work in the creative arts and also with children. For the first time in many years, this year, I walked into a public school to work with the kids. I was invited to be an artist with Artists in the Schools in our community and gave 7 separate workshops for children in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 (ages 4–8). And I felt elated. (Exhausted too.)
Where do I go from here?
My desire is not just for myself. I want others to join me to find their creative side — parents and children.
I have decided to restart my 33 dots challenge (inspired by Meg Konovska). This time I would love others to join me. Who is interested? Even if you don’t share your results, the experience is exciting.
I am going to try to do 33 dots for 33 pictures. But I don’t plan to do this in 33 days. I have a number of them already. But yesterday I started again. I will do 33. And I will share them too.
The Plan of 33 Dots – One way to stir creativity
Take any sheet of white paper, and put down 33 random dots. Don’t look. Then after that, take a look and draw connecting lines between the dots without crossing any lines. Then look at the result. Turn the paper around. See if you can “see” anything. If not, put it down and come back later.
Since I am a Christian, I love to do this with prayer. I pray first. Then look. Then decide what I see. I know sometimes I have had to put it away for a time and come back later.
Step One — the dots and connecting – on the way to creativity
Step Two — the drawing
This is the part where I need to “see”. What can I see with those shapes and lines?
Step Three — the colouring
This is the result. I used watercolour on 140-pound paper.
Step four — the interpretation
I have learned that listening to God helps me see what He wants me to see.
I have called this painting “Everyman — Perseverance”.
These are my thoughts. You may seem something entirely different.
I notice that his hands are out and facing up. To me, this is lifting everything to God. And I try to make that posture.
He is walking forward. He is looking straight ahead.
The background is colourful but very distracting.
Do we get distracted in our daily lives? I do.
This is all the stuff that is around me and why I am pitching more and more. What do I really need anyway?
His eyes show me excitement and exhilaration. He is happy and anticipating good things. He is moving step by step.
But I also see one leg is lagging — almost being pulled along. I know this from the way things distract me. I want to keep moving forward but I am held up sometimes. Thank goodness my leg is attached to the rest of my body. And even though I might be straining at times, I will move forward.
Heavenly Father, I know that you have given each of us gifts but I also know that you have created us and given us the ability to create — whether in words, in pictures, in cooking, in sewing etc. Open our eyes to see and our ears to hear what you would have us create. We know we are called for a purpose and we are to find joy in our experiences. Help us to follow you, Jesus. In Your precious name I pray. Amen.
A while ago I wrote this article on another platform. I thought you would enjoy it and learn what a little book can teach us. It’s amazing what lessons we can learn from children’s books.
This past weekend I had the delightful job to read to my 3-year-old granddaughter. She chose “The Little Engine That Could”. Not only do I remember reading this book to my children but I remember reading it as a child. And I remember reading to my grade ones when I taught school.
The history of the book goes through several versions until Arnold Munk with the pen name of Watty Piper, wrote and had it published in 1930. Lois Lenski did the first pictures. An updated version, published in 1954 had colourful illustrations by George and Doris Hauman. This is the version I remember and the one that is on the children’s bookshelf.
As I read the story to my granddaughter I got excited about how the story built up emotion and taught lessons on the way.
The story is about a little train who wants to bring presents over the hill to children in another town. They are patiently and excitedly awaiting their gifts. However, on the way to the town, the little engine breaks down. The toys are very upset and the funny little clown sets off to find another train to help them.
As they go to the different trains asking for help, I thought about all the things we put faith in here on earth instead of what God would want us to.
Four Faith Lessons from Four Trains
1.) The first train has a Shiny New Engine:
We put much status into buying new things. There is always a new widget or gizmo that we want to have. Cellphones and computers top the list for new innovations and the need to have the latest model.
This release of new gizmos is gaining momentum each year.
When I stop to think about it we purchased our first computer in 1989 — it was an amazing TI99 4/A. And we watched it on our TV. (Hubby and I are trying to remember all this.) I know we purchased a used Apple IIe after that. I think I did some early programming on that machine. It couldn’t do much but it fascinated me.
But ever since those first computers, things have moved swiftly forward. Newer and better.
Do we look down on things that aren’t perfect and shiny; that aren’t new?
Personally, I love refurbishing old things to make them new. I like things that are made of wood not plastic.
When we were younger we didn’t take a car loan. Instead, we bought used cars and saved our money. As long as the car ran that’s all that mattered. We still often buy used cars because the depreciation on a new vehicle is ridiculous. Check it out before you decide on your next vehicle.
But the shiny New Engine didn’t want to help the little toy train because he was too special — too proud. He looked down on the little train and said a resounding “NO”.
2.) Next comes a Big Engine:
We always think might is right and power makes things happen. But if we look throughout history we see the powerful fall from their towers. They topple down. They can’t keep up the illusion.
What out: Listen to what the Bible teaches us
“Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day (Deuteronomy 8:17–18, The Message).”
Bigger is better, right? Let’s look at the monster homes of this age.
Why do we need so much space? What’s the purpose?
When we downsized from our family home (the first time), we bought a small townhome. I enjoyed the two years we lived there. There was more time to get out and do things — not being tied to looking after a big home.
Bigger isn’t better. Look at your needs, not at your wants. Enjoy what you have now. Save for the future. Take experiences (playing in the park, walking somewhere new) instead of putting out big bucks for new and big items.
I thought about the Christian church — bigger is not always better. In fact when you get so many people joining how can you be sure that they are in fellowship with one another?
A couple of years ago I volunteered to run a VBS at our church. From the first day, I caught a really bad cold and cough. I didn’t know how I was going to keep going. I kept praying. And I kept going.
The minister set up a microphone system so I could talk softly into it and the kids could hear me. Actually, I found the entire week filled with peace. The kids sensed the need to work well and quietly. We had fun.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13, NIV).”
But the Rusty Old Engine sighed and said he could not. He was too tired and weary.
4.) Lastly comes the Little Blue Engine;
A Little Blue Engine comes chugging merrily along. The dolls and toys don’t have to ask this train for help, she asks them what’s wrong. She tells them she isn’t very big and has never been over the mountain.
Do you sometimes feel that a job is too big for you to handle?
Do you feel overwhelmed with the details and difficulty of the task?
Well, this little engine can teach us lessons.
She thought of what the kids would be missing if this little train didn’t bring the gifts to the boys and girls on the other side of the mountain.
And then she said: I think I can. I think I can. It was a supreme effort but she kept chugging along saying — I think I can.
If there are times you don’t think you can do something — ask Jesus. He is right there to give you the strength, courage or inspiration to get the job done.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10, NIV).”
If there are times you need to go somewhere or do something you have never attempted, remember from scripture:
“but the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1, NIV).”
And the Little Blue Engine pulled that train up the mountain and down into the town to deliver the presents to the boys and girls.
These were my discoveries as I read this book to my granddaughter. Certainly, there are 4 good life lessons to get from this tiny book.
Don’t be swayed by new things.
Bigger is not necessarily better.
Even when you feel unable to do a task, Jesus can strengthen you.
We are many in Christ, each member belongs to all the others.
Use your gifts wisely.
Use your time wisely.
We can change the world if we join together.
Reading from the stories of Joseph and Moses
To be worthy we need to use the gifts given to us and be content where God puts us.
Remember Joseph — he did not fret while in jail. He used his time wisely. Eventually, he saved the Israelites from starvation.
Moses could have died shortly after birth, but he was saved by his mother and sister. He grew up in the palace. God was preparing him to lead His people.
God is gathering the world together, through the Internet. Let’s not rant and rave.
Let’s write to show others Who God is.
Reading Psalm 124
Praising God for His Help and getting us out of trouble.
Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free! Our help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:6–8, NLT)
May I pray for you and me?
Lord, help us to use the time You give us — wisely. Help us to look to You for direction as our help is truly from the Lord. Guide us, prepare us, transform us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
It’s been quite the changeable last 6 months. But the last month has really swung me away from what I was doing and allowed me to pivot in a different direction.
A sign I bought in a Tennessee book store.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1–2, NIV)
Things are changing — not just in our world but in my life.
God is moving me forward but in another direction.
He is taking me on another adventure — a creative one.
For many months, I have felt stifled
I felt something was missing.
I prayed. I prayed more. I listened.
Even though I enjoy this Medium platform I felt something missing from my creative side. Looking at stats — became a game. Posting in groups — another game. But I wasted my time.
All of these things took time away from what God wanted me to do.
I am not sure if I’ll stop writing on Medium (a platform for writers and readers) but certainly, I don’t want to be tied here.
The ropes are off. The chains are gone. I feel free to see where God leads next.
Artwork by Janis Cox
Let’s break the chains and let Jesus set us free.
Here are some things that God has led me to do recently. Definitely a pivot from what I was doing.
More Bible Art
This week I have painted and written two pieces in my Bible Journal.
I have made a second edition of my first children’s book, Tadeo Turtle. That meant learning InDesign and publishing through KDP.
Tadeo Turtle, winner of The Word Awards in 2013, is a story of a turtle who longs to be different. He is frustrated not being able to run around like some of his friends. This is a story that helps children to know that God created them perfectly.
A review on Amazon from a verified purchase show how much this little book can help children with different abilities to live happy, successful lives.
I love Tadeo Turtle. 🙂 I actually bought him on my kindle to read to my little nephew this Christmas, but my 10 year old daughter fell in love with him as well, so we’ve transferred to her kindle, which is fancier and has better showcase of Janis’s artistic talents. 🙂 My nephew is in kindergarten and he has Autism.
He has already memorized the book and quotes it to his friends. I don’t know if he quite realizes how much it fits for him, with his autism, but the grownups in his life sure do, and we appreciate it! Tadeo’s shell also called to mind devices that help the disabled (since I am disabled), like wheelchairs, leg braces, etc.
Those are things that we may feel self-conscious of, as children and as grown-ups, but they are God’s blessing to us to help us be all that we can be. This would make a perfect book marketed for special-needs children, as well as a great self-esteem book for all. ~ Renewed Hubby
Psalm 119:97-104 is about paying attention to the Word of God. It’s an acrostic poem with the alphabet in Hebrew. This one is MEM – meaning water.
I thought of how God’s Word waters our souls.
Numbers 11:1-9 talks about the grumbling of God’s people. God is very angry and sends fire that burns the surrounding area. Fire – the anger of God.
Let’s remember not to complain. We can set our requests before God but do not grumble.
Romans 16:17-20 is the theological application of the story of man’s fall.
From the Beginning to the End – Alpha and Omega.
The Deceiver smooth-talked Adam and Eve into disobeying God’s rule. But the last line says that:
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”. (NIV)
Discontent can ruin our lives. God’s peace and grace saves our lives.
May I pray for you and me?
Father, we thank You for Your Word. We know it waters our souls. We know we shouldn’t grumble but trust in Your plan and wisdom. You can see everything from the beginning to the end. Creation to New Creation. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.