Bring your nothing + printable Isaiah 61 Bible verse coloring page

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"The spirit of the LORD God is upon me"
flower image courtesy of Charmingly Saavy
 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion--to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified." Isaiah 61:1-3 (ESV)
Sometimes my blog posts inspire an illustration, and sometimes it all starts with a Bible verse that just begs to be illustrated. This post is the latter. Our pastor read this Scripture last Sunday and I knew I wanted to illustrate it and mediate on it further.

This is the Scripture that Jesus reads in the temple early in His three ministry years, and then declares, Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21).

All that God promises is fulfilled in Jesus! I don't want to miss the glory in this. Do we get what Jesus is offering us?


Do we get what He asks us to bring?
Our nothing. Our poverty. Our humility. Our broken hearts. Our chains. Our ashes. Our mourning. Our faint spirits.

He doesn't reject any of these! He asks that we come with the empty hands of faith, ready to receive all He gives.
"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3 (ESV)
I don't know if the promises in these verses will see their full fulfillment in this sin-broken world and in our still-fleshly, yet made-new hearts.  

Right now death is mixed with resurrection. Joy with sorrow and suffering.  
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies." 2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (ESV)  
I love the picture of real life painted in these verses. Afflicted, but not demolished. Scratching our heads at our circumstances, but not despairing. Groaning, but groaning with hope.
"And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?" Romans 8:23-24 (ESV)
I don't know what you need Jesus to do for you today, but I do know that great hope is found in Him, and only in Him! 

If you're suffering today, please ask someone who loves Jesus to pray for you. For our friends who are suffering, let's pray these verses for them.

You can get the printable Isaiah 61 Bible verse coloring page HERE or by clicking on the image below!*
Isaiah 61 Bible verse coloring page printable
PRAYING the Word
Jesus, I need you to ___________ (for me or for someone else). I trust you to do this and make us trees of righteousness (clothed in Your righteousness alone!) so that You may be glorified through us.

QUESTIONS to ask about the verses:
1. In what ways are you suffering today and need Jesus to help and heal you?
2. Is there anything that you feel is too hard for him?
3. In what ways have you seen God already do the things He promises in this verse?

p.s. My title today is snatched from this song by Shane and Shane:

*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! Use for Bible studies, church groups or events, and Sunday school classes are all fine! If you're in doubt, I'm happy to answer any questions. All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Thank you!!

If you like this, you can get these posts in your inbox by signing up HERE

four things that are growing my marriage + printable “Why Mommy loves being married to Daddy” book

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

On my seventh anniversary, and first year blogging, I wrote about how I threatened my dear husband with mozzarella (yes, that's still embarrassing and no, I still don't remember how to spell mozzarella) and how God was graciously at work in my "rock tumbler" marriage.

On the occasion of my eighth anniversary, I wrote about subtle ways I am learning to bless my husband  (and yes, I am still learning those very same things). 

And now, just after my ninth anniversary, I'm pondering the ways God has grown us in the last year. Here are a few:

1. The small decisions.
We've grown in the little things maybe more than anything else.

In a kind response instead of anger.
In a respectful listening to one's opinion rather than taking immediate offense.
In a patient manner of seeing a conversation through rather than frustration that communication is hard.
In a simple laying out of my feelings rather than an accusal-laced pitching.
(Do you get the idea that communication is a challenge for us?)

These little decisions slowly form the character of our relationship. (So hint: if you want your marriage to change, think small first).

2. Living in the light.
Especially a blessing to me this year has been the sharing of my life, and especially my marriage, with the sweet sisters in Christ God has given me. 

There are things that can crush your spirit in marrige:
I am alone and we're doing this all wrong.
What if it wasn't God's plan for us to be together?
It would be easier to be alone.
We're going to turn out just like them . . . 

To keep these thoughts from taking root and bearing fruit, we need the ministry of our family in Christ, the ministry of sisters and brothers who love both of us and care for our marriage.

The ministry of "Yes, that's normal. I've been there."
The ministry of having faith for me that God is working and we will survive.
The ministry of rehearsing the truth out loud (some that I already know but need to hear again).
The ministry of seeing me as I am and yet still being my friend.
The ministry of praying me through hard seasons.

"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)

I love how Paul didn't see the church body as an institution where we keep everything formal and business-like. Sometimes our church clothes trick us into doing that, but we have to learn to "share our own selves" with each other.

"So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." (1Thessalonians 2:8 ESV)

It takes courage to share what's going on (I wrote more about the challenge of "being real" here). Yes, you might get rejected and someone might look down on you (someone's rejection says more about their understanding of God's grace than about you), OR . . . you might be accepted. You might even set someone else free to confess the very same thing. You might find glorious freedom in God's grace and forgiveness! 

3. Remembering your first husband.
If you're married, I hope your earthly husband meets some of your needs (physical, sexual, financial, emotional, relational), but I'm pretty sure he doesn't meet all of them all the time.

I read "The Five Love Languages" before we were married and knew exactly how I needed to be loved. But the reality is, my husband is not always fluent in those languages. He is amazing and meets many of my needs so well, but God did not design him or purpose for him to meet every one. 

A wise friend reminded me recently that Jesus is my first husband. And in the end, when we're focused on how amazing
 He is, everything else dims in comparison. 

"For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called." (Isaiah 54:5 ESV)

When the "God of the whole earth" is mine, my husbands failures stop being magnified by my overwhelming needs. I can love him out of the abundance of Christ (and in Him I am full).

4. Being marriage-focused over kid-focused.
The other night at dinner, as my kids displayed various antics (we basically live in a musical) and a shocking inability to sit in a chair, I commented to my husband, "I feel like we live in a circus."

He replied, "Yup, all that's missing is . . . "

"Obedient children?" interrupted my squirming child. 

No comment.

It's so easy to get caught up in the co-ringleading of our (self-created) circus that we forget that we're not just partners, but friends and lovers.

I picked up the book "Trophy Child: Saving Parents from Performance, Preparing Children for Something Greater Than Themselves" by Ted Cunningham and went straight to the last chapter on marriage (I've since started reading from the beginning like a normal person, and it's great!). He shared something that I've been repeating to anyone who will listen since I read it:

"There are four spiritual journeys in the home. Your own personal journey as a parent is your first priority. You must be connected to the Source of life in order to give to the other spiritual journeys in the home. The second spiritual journey is that of your spouse. Your goal is to serve your spouse without plugging into him or her as the source of life and without taking responsibility for his or her journey. Your spouse is 100 percent responsible for his or her own spiritual journey. Together you tend to the third spiritual journey in your home, your marriage journey, by enjoying a lifetime together. Then your own spiritual journey and your marriage journey paint a picture of the gospel of Jesus for your children and their spiritual journey.

Prioritize these journeys. If you start by tending to your child's journey first, you will create a kid-centered home that erodes every other journey in the house. 

Your children have a front-row seat to your marriage. The two greatest gifts we can give our children are a mom and dad who enjoy life together, and the hope of a great marriage of their own."

Doesn't that just sum it up so well?

This anniversary, in an attempt to celebrate our marriage in front of our kids, I made a little book explaining why I love being married to their dad (an idea from the above book). When I saw their little faces light up each time we read it, I realized how much they delight in our love as husband and wife.

one thing I love about my husband (from the book I made and the girls colored)

The last page reads: "I wanted you to know these things about your Daddy so that one day, God can help you marry someone you will love being married to just as much as I love being married to your dad."
If you and your husband want to create something similar, I created a printable "Why I love being married to mommy/daddy" book for you to download!*

You can get your "Why Mommy loves being married to Daddy" book
You can get your "Why Daddy loves being married to Mommy" book HERE

I suggest printing at least the cover on cardstock on 8.5 x 11" paper. Then, fold in half and insert folded pages (cardstock or regular paper) to make the book's pages. Then staple at the binding, and you've got your book! If you're not confident in drawing (even stick people?), then just make a simple list!

P.S. Check out my favorite marriage posts from the past:
That time before my seventh anniversary when I threatened my dear husband with mozzarella 
Books that shape me: Marriage
Subtle ways to bless your husband 

*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Thank you!!

If you like this, you can get these posts in your inbox by signing up HERE

Living full in an empty world + Colossians 2:9-10a Bible verse coloring page

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

fullness in Christ
Do you ever find yourself scrambling to fill a need you can't even clearly identify? 

Social media feed!
Something to distract me!
Love me, love me (husband, friends)!
Just one more cute shirt!

For me these searches quickly turn into discontentment and irritation. Well, that didn't work . . . on to the next thing.

And it's exhausting.
"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food." (Isa 55:2 ESV)
One of our pastors said something recently that captures this tension I feel. He said, "It's not that following Jesus is burdensome, but this world is a hard place to delight in Jesus above all else."

Jesus is incomprehensibly good, but we battle the one-two-three punch of the world, the flesh, and the devil. 

And only the Spirit is up for that fight, friends.

I'm reading a book called How People Change by Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp and the authors explain it this way:
 "The Bible describes us as defectors and enemies of God who want to fill ourselves with things in creation rather than the Creator . . . Scripture's approach calls us to forsake the things we have sought to fill our emptiness. Before we can be filled with God's grace, we must engage in intelligent, honest repentance. We have to forsake and demolish the god-replacements that have supplanted the true God in our lives. Repentance is a form of emptying the heart." 
Have I tried to set up created things in the huge vacuum of God in my life, like a teacup of water spilled out on a cracked and dusty desert? Most certainly. And I (and my relationships) suffer for it daily.
Measly teacupfuls evaporate almost on impact. What we need is a deluge from heaven.
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him." (Col 2:8-15 ESV)
Colossians 2:9-10a
Glorious, right? Full in Christ. Sinful flesh circumcised. Raised with Him through faith. My debts forgiven.

I believe these things . . . but sometimes I just don't.
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24b
I believe that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me through His Spirit (Galatians 2:20), but often I'd rather be known for my own personality and confidence (and spend lots of time analyzing these things).

I believe Jesus is my bread of life (John 6:35), but I want to be filled by my own comfort (and might react badly if you mess with it).

I believe Jesus is my constant Counselor and teacher (John 14:26), but I'd rather just have an easy marriage and compliant children, and not rely on Him to teach me how to live by the Spirit.

I believe Jesus died on the cross, but I resist the fact that my sins sent Him there, and in Him I am freely forgiven along with every other sinner who falls on His grace.

I believe Jesus fills me up, but sometimes I'd just prefer my husband to be perfectly in tune with all my needs and desires (here I get an eye-roll from him, ha).

I know in my head what Jesus offers. But sometimes I just don't want those things. I want lesser things. My appetites are unsophisticated, earthly.

quick and easy cup-o-noodles over homemade pasta in carefully brewed broth
oily canned tuna fish over prime steak on the grill
dry powered donuts from a bag over hand-made ones fresh off the fryer

The lesser, easier stuff, just doesn't satisfy long-term.

All I know is that developing a taste for "rich food" is something only Jesus can do in us. The current of our thoughts carry us in a particular direction. And while deeply ingrained, they are not immovable. The greater current of God's Spirit can shift them over time as we empty ourselves and ask Him to fill us.
"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." (Col 3:2-4 ESV)
"For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom 8:6 ESV)
God is working these things out in me these days. Do I believe what I believe in the simplest of moments? Because that's where real change happens.

When you feel strung out and discontent: 
"I am full in Christ. There is nothing He hasn't given me today."

When you are weary and discouraged:
"I am full in Christ. There is nothing He hasn't given me today."

When you feel like you're at the end of everyone's list of priorities:
"I am full in Christ. There is nothing He hasn't given me today."

When you look in the mirror and wish for something better.
"I am full in Christ. There is nothing He hasn't given me today."

I think I'm only beginning to taste fullness in Christ, friends. And it's oh. so. good. And free! 

There's nothing keeping you from coming to Him for fullness today. Jesus has already set the table for you. You only have to come.
"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food." (Isaiah 55:1-2 ESV)
To keep these truths on your heart, I'm sharing this printable Bible verse coloring page from Colossians 2:9-10a! You can download your page HERE or by clicking on the image below!* (This image is also in full color in my "Mission: Motherhood" Scripture card set HERE!)
bible verse coloring page

PRAYING the Word

Jesus, thank you for choosing to fill us with yourself. Teach us to delight in YOU above all else today.

QUESTIONS to ask about the verses:
1. What does this verse tell you about the person of Jesus?
2. How does it feel to be "full" in Christ?
3. What things do you try to fill yourself with? How do they make you feel?

*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Thank you!!

If you like this, you can get these posts in your inbox by signing up HERE! You'll also receive occasional news from my Etsy shop.

when imperfect motherhood leads us back to grace + printable "stand in grace" Romans 5:1-2 coloring page (Spanish + English)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

At one point this week, one of my children screamed from the bedroom, "I hate this place so much!" 

To be honest (which I always try to be here), I wasn't loving "this place" so much either.

Summer has been trying at times here for us (well, mostly me). We're off our regular routine of friends, community, and school. I'm dealing with some allergy issues. My husband is in the middle of some demanding projects at work. And let me just point out, it's my first time raising these particular human beings (and combination of human beings), and goodness, it can be hard. 

(In all of these things I realize I'm so blessed--husband's job, amazing community, my children. But blessings are not always easy.)

There are many joyous and beautiful (and Instagrammable) moments of motherhood, but there are also plenty of "I hate this place" moments.

Sometimes I want
to tap out
a new career path
a stunt double?

Mothethood rubs raw every area selfishness. It pushes me past all comfort (and boy, do I like my comfort!). It reveals all my messiness right along with theirs.

And then of course I feel like I'm failing them. But would "perfect mommy" convince them of their need for grace and the surety of God's provision of it through Jesus? 

Well first of all, there is no perfect mommy, so that's really a silly question. There's really only either honest, Jesus-needing mommy, or hypocritical, Pharisaical, lying to herself mommy (who says and thinks things like "I can't believe you would do something like that!" and forgets that she did something similar five minutes ago. Oh, just preaching to myself here).
"Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21 ESV)
I don't understand all of this particular part of Romans, but I do get that God's grace is always greater than our sin. If you keep reading in Romans 6, Paul answers the next question that pops in our minds after reading the last verses of Chapter 5: does this mean we're "promoting" laziness about sin so we can experience more grace? Paul replies, "Certainly not!" How can you resurrect a dead person that no longer lives? How can we, made alive by the Spirit, return to slavery to sin? And how can we, who love our Savior, delight in heaping more sins upon Him?

Grace is not a license to sin, but it's the only effective place from which to obey and flourish and grow--out of gratitude for a great debt paid--not obligation. It's where Jesus graciously starts all of us who come to Him in faith.

Jerry Bridges explains this idea really well in one of the first books I read that introduced me to the idea of God's daily grace. He writes, 
"Nothing cuts the nerve of the desire to pursue holiness as much as a sense of guilt. On the contrary, nothing so motivates us to deal with sin in our lives as does the understanding and application of the two truth that our sins are forgiven and the dominion of sin is broken because of our union with Christ.” ― Jerry BridgesThe Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness
I'm challenged as I write this that "good motherhood" and discipline-making means helping my children continually step into the starting place of grace--so that I too can join them there. 

Guilt does not motivate them to grow; grace does.

Yes, discipline, teach, train (see 2 Timothy 4:2 below), but somehow we need to learn to do it without condemning. Like Jesus does it (see Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11).

(printable card from the "Mission: Motherhood" set in the shop)
On the days that bring us to shouting, tears, and weakness, we need to know that grace can still abound. What clearer "preaching" of the Gospel is there in the home, I wonder?

Child of mine, let's start here together. It's a good thing Jesus loves sinners like us, isn't it?  

And this place--I love. 

Today's printable Bible verse coloring page is from Romans 5:1-2! You can download your page (in English or Spanish) by clicking on the images below!*

PRAYING the Word
Thank you that we get to stand in your grace right now! Thank you that you did all the work to make us holy and at peace with you. Help us remember and rejoice in this today!

QUESTIONS to ask about the verses:
1. Where does our peace with God come from? What about our access to God?
2. Do you feel God's grace for you today? Can you do anything step out of God's grace? (Hint: Did you do anything to get it?)
3. Are you rejoicing in hope today? If not, what do you need to be reminded of?

More on grace here:


*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Thank you!!

If you like this, you can get these posts in your inbox by signing up HERE

Bible doodling: a simple introduction + free printable basic lettering guide

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Basic Bible doodling with Marydean Draws
Hey friends! I hope you enjoyed last week's post on ways we can work towards racial unity, starting in our homes (and hopefully then in our nation)! I know this is still on my heart.

Today, I want to introduce you to one of my favorite ways to study the Bible, and it's so simple that anyone can do it and all you need is a pencil, some paper, and your Bible.

While there are a ton of resources and nifty supplies out there for Bible journaling right now (and I love seeing women engage in the Word in creative ways), for my personal studying, I work best with a pencil and any scrap of paper nearby!

So why Bible doodling?
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col 3:16 ESV)
I find this is one of many ways I can think more deeply on God’s Word. It’s a way to let God’s words “dwell in me richly” and thus radically change my life and thinking.

When I write out God’s Words and think of them in a visual way, I find I think on them longer and recall them better. It's as if I've created a "hook" in my brain (I think music works in a similar way).

I think Bible doodling is especially effective with kids. I use it when teaching Sunday school all the time.

So what can you draw? Here are some possibilities:

1. Parts of a passage.  Start by reading your focal passage over and over. My current Bible study method is to choose a book and read through it a bunch of times--sometimes super slow and sometimes in larger chunks. You'll see that I'm reading through Colossians.

As you read, underline key words and ideas. Pay attention to where you see ideas or words repeated. Who or what is the subject? Think about what the words mean and how they fit in with what the passage or book as a whole is communicating.

Then try sketching from the passage.  Use ALL CAPS, underlining, different lettering styles, images, and line breaks to communicate the meaning.

Here's an example from my reading in Colossians 3:

2. Write and illustrate a single concept or excerpt from a verse. TIP: Draw in a frame so you can separate your drawings on a page.

Here, I drew the concept of the Word dwelling in you richly (I have no idea where the anthropomorphic hearts came from--just an oddity of my brain, I guess):

3. Summarize and illustrate a passage in your own words. Ask yourself, “How would I sum up this passage in the simplest way?” Or write out a prayer based on what you’ve read.

TIP: If you don’t know how to draw something (like a throne, say) try googling an image. I do this all the time! I don't always know how to draw something, but I do know how to see it.

Don't forget the heart of it.

This is not really about making pretty art, using fancy materials, or perfecting your lettering (although have fun with it and enjoy being creative)! And it's not even about growing in knowledge alone. This is a way you can grow in love for the God who loves you and wants to speak to you through His Word. Then you can grow as His follower and help others follow Him too!

Want a little extra help with your lettering? I'm sharing my favorite ways to "dress up" letters in a free printable today! You can download your printable lettering guide HERE or by clicking the image below.*
A simple introduction to Bible doodling with Marydean Draws
AND . . . I recorded two lettering videos. The first is me playing with some capital letters (using a heavy Tombow graphite pencil--my fav. I told you I'm not fancy, right?):

And in this one I letter a (mind-blowing) concept from Colossians 1:22-23 with some messy fake calligraphy (using a fine tip Le Pen--a gift from my mother-in-law and fun to use. So maybe I'm a little fancy . . . ):

Well friends, welcome to basic Bible doodling! I hope this inspires you (like it has for me) to dig into the Word and draw some truth!

*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Thank you!!

If you like this, you can get these posts in your inbox by signing up HERE! You'll also receive occasional news from my Etsy shop.

Conversations with my kids about race + Psalm 139:13 Coloring Page

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Psalm 139:13 printable bible verse coloring page

My friend Katie and I talk about how sometimes circumstances in our lives "kick the bucket" of our hearts and cause what's already in there to spill out. It's not that the ugly wasn't there all along--it just hadn't been exposed.

I feel like the events of the last few weeks have kicked our nation's collective bucket and our mess or racial disunity (which has been there so long) is spilled out in front of us. We can tiptoe around it, ignore it, throw blame, or stop, take a long look, and ask God how we can help with the clean-up.

I was raised in a pretty diverse environment, but in the end I'm realizing that I don't know what it feels like to be an African American in this country, or a person of any color for that matter. I've watched African American friends in my church and online grieve in a way I didn't understand. So I've been challenged to learn and listen. Do you want to join me?

The best way to start is probably to sit down with our friends that look different than us and ask them some questions that will probably make us squirm:
  • How do you feel about what's going on in our country right now?
  • Have you ever been made to feel like your life doesn't matter?
  • Are you scared for your family members?
  • What does it feel like to be the minority in this country/city/church?
I'm thankful for some wise, gracious, and Jesus-loving sisters in Christ who have spoken and written online about how they feel about our current events. I'm going to defer to these ladies and encourage you to listen and learn from them here:
We have so much to gain if we're ready to calm our emotions and bear each other's burdens. That's what the family of God is called to, because we belong to each other.
But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:24-26
Unlike the mamas in the podcasts above, I don't have to have the gut-wrenching conversations with my son in which I have to explain that some people might not value his life, so he has to be ultra-submissive and calm with police officers if he ever has an encounter--so he can just come home to me.

I just don't have to think that way.

But if I want to be a part of making those kinds of conversations a thing of the past in our country, I can start, first in my own heart, and then by talking to my kids about race. 

And I'm talking about everyday, as-we-go conversations (complete with plenty of inappropriate kids comments) along with intentional education.
"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)
Now and over the years as we raise up these children in our home, I hope we talk about these things:

Let's talk about how people are valuable because God knit them together Himself.
Every person came together in the mind and heart of God. Think of the care you've taken to raise your own children, how much you've invested in them. Multiply that by the greatness of God's love for His image-bearers (see Genesis 1:27). Yes, we're sinful, fallen, broken, but none of that changes the core of our identity.

"you formed my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb"

It should grieve us greatly when a person is seen as less than God sees him or her. And maybe we need to toss this idea that God is colorblind--or that we should be. Our color is part of the way that God has knit us together. Because He delights in color and diversity, so can we! 

Let's talk about our country's history and how we're still entwined in it. 
Race will always be a part of our family's story, so we're going to talk about it. My kids already know that they are a mix of black and white. They know that some of their ancestors were slaves and some were probably slaveowners (you can read all about it in this book: The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White). Other ancestors were immigrants. 

Let's talk about the sinful things people have done to each other in this country (and many others around the world) and how, even though we don't do them anymore, we're still affected by them--in our neighborhoods, our cities, the workplace--and in our hearts.

To do this, we've got to go off-textbook with our understanding of history. There are some recommended resourced HERE that you might want to explore. Knowing our history helps us understand how we got where we are today.

Let's talk (in age-appropriate ways) about the things going on in the news. Ask them how they think people are feeling and why they might feel that way.

Let's talk about how everyone has a story worth knowing
The way we look is one part of our story. Each human is a fascinating mix of their family background, their talents, their interests, their experiences, and all the other things that make you YOU. Let's learn to seek out each other's stories.
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Phil. 2:1-8 ESV)
In our church, we call this seeking out of another's story "rocking Philippians 2" from the passage above.

Let's talk about how different is fascinating, not intimidating, and give them them plenty of opportunities with "different."
I remember when I returned from Thailand, an elderly woman I worked with asked me very sincerely, "What are they like over there? From the pictures their eyes all look so vacant."

"Well, they're people just like us," I said. "Yes, their culture is completely different, but they love their families and struggle and worry and enjoy life just like we do."

I realized that my friend didn't have much experience with people outside her own culture, so to her, Asians were so mysterious. I think this is true for many Americans, who are raised in a sort of cultural bubble.

Let's help our kids out of that bubble. I think the more our kids are exposed to different, the more they'll realize that people are different, but really not different, in the most fundamental ways. Then they can learn to delight in different instead of being intimidated by or afraid of it.

When we know people who look different than us personally, it's easier us to empathize with other human beings. When we see a story about someone like Philando Castille on the news, we think of how he reminds us of our friend Tasha's younger brother Marcus who ran track and played the drums in church, not just another black guy.
"Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor." James 3:17-18 (The Message)
It takes work to get to know people different than us. It takes a willingness to live with "awkward." It takes a willingness to feel like an outsider. If you're white like me, you've probably spent most of your life in the majority culture, so it feels strange to be in situations where you're the minority. 

Let's talk about how our silence in the face of wrong equals agreement.
The first time I heard the "n" word used was in a car with a group of kids driving me home from a high school event when I first moved to North Carolina. "That's where that n- cop lives," the teenage boy said (the cop was our neighbor). I didn't say anything, just burst into tears when my mom met me at the door.

The next time I heard it was in the dark at a sleepover with some girls from school. It was tucked into a racist joke. I dug deeper into my sleeping bag and didn't say a word.

Later in college, I was getting a ride home from a friend when we stopped for gas in a mostly black neighborhood. She made some comment about the "n's." Finally I found my voice. "That really offends me," I said. She gave me a surprised look, as if the possibility hadn't crossed her mind.

I was surprised to realize that my silence would have communicated complicity. That's very sobering to me.

So let's talk our kids through what they can say if they see or hear something they know is wrong. Let's give them the words they can use so they're prepared.

What if we raised a generation of kids who really valued others, especially the marginalized, so that no one would have to question if their lives mattered to us?

The (capital C) Church has a HUGE advantage when it comes to racial unity.
Friends, I don't know what's going to happen in our country, but I know that there is great hope for the Church (the body of believers). Ya'll (I've lived in the South long along to use that, right?), we have the same Spirit. I know that doesn't make this easier, but it makes us empowered in a way the outside world can't imagine. 
"Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all." (Col 3:9-11 ESV)
"Here," where we're made new and being made new through Christ, we are ONE. 

Because we've been forgiven, we know how to forgive. Because we're so well-loved, we know how to love well. Because God is so patient with us, we can be patient with each other. Because God overcame huge obstacles to love us, we can do what it takes to love each other well.

So, what are some practical things we can do?
Okay, so the most practical, right now thing we can do is to daily submit to the Holy Spirit and let Him and His word have their way in us. 
"And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Col 3:16 ESV)
Let's also daily make little disciples in our home and ask God to transform their hearts and lives through His Spirit.

Then, we can try a few of these other practical ideas in our homes:
  • Read books about a variety of people and cultures. We like this simple mostly-picture book ("A Country Far Away") and this one too ("People").
  • Expose your children to different languages. 
  • Put yourself in situations where you're the minority. 
  • Support a child from a different country through and organization like Compassion. Write to them and pray for them. Know their names. Think of them as part of your family.
  • Talk well of people of different colors.  
  • Watch the upcoming Olympics and talk about the different races you observe. Talk about how beautiful people are who look differently than you do. We liked this Karen Katz book, "The Colors of Us."
  • Watch Martin Luther King's "I have a dream speach" on MLK Day and talk about our history.
  • Talk to people who look different than you in the grocery store (but try not to be creepy).
  • Go to or visit a church that is diverse.
  • Visit local international restaurants or markets.
  • Go to the park and talk to people from different cultures or abilities. Don't shy away from them just because they don't speak English or have a disability. Talk to your kids about them. Introduce yourself and your child. Ask them questions. 
  • Talk about your own family's history. Unless you're Native American, we all come from somewhere else.
  • Expose them to music and dance from different cultures. Pull up a Christian Gospel station on Pandora.
  • Maybe it sounds silly, but buy your kids baby dolls of different colors. 
  • Invite new friends into your home. Get involved in an international exchange student ministry if you live near a college or university. Most are looking for families to help students learn about American culture.
  • Check our some more ideas for talking to your kids about racism at this post HERE
  • PRAY with your kids for our nation!
If this kind of talk makes you uncomfortable, remember that God is so gracious and He longs to be merciful to all of us sinners. If God shines light on something sinful in your heart, He is only being loving to expose it. Let's let Him graciously heal us.  
"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." (Isaiah 30:18 ESV)
And let's show the same grace to our kids as we try to teach them these things.

Although I know this is weighty subject, I hope it is helpful. I know people have all kind of feelings on this subject. I love the advice Chrystal Evans Hurst shared in her podcast. She encouraged us to have REAL conversation within REAL relationships (rather than emotion-driven online "conversations"). So friends, let's all do that, okay? But first, let's pray.
"Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-10 ESV)
Now it's time to break out your variety of skin-toned crayons and color this Bible verse coloring page from Psalm 139:13! You can download yours in Spanish HERE and in English HERE (or by clicking on the images below).*

*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! All artwork and photos are ã Marydean Draws. Please share freely by posting a link back to this blog post. Please don't repost the actual file. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Any other uses, just ask! Thank you!!

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