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Eek! It's been another year of blogging and I'm excited to share this last post! 

So I mentioned that I am taking December off. I did this last year on the advice of another business owner and it was such a blessing. We need the time to rest and fully celebrate this great thing that God has done for us (and all of humanity). 

I am not a baker and I don't go all-out with Christmas decorating. My son is in the throw-everything-on-the-floor stage, so just keeping him out of the Christmas tree is going to occupy my next month. But when I'm not doing damage control, here are a few simple activities I'd like to try with my kids (links below):

A. Bitty beanie ornaments (from Pinterest)

F. Three-ingredient hot chocolate. We make it this way with Almond or lactose-free milk because the packets have milk in them (and 3/5 of us are lactose-intolerant). Add some peppermint if you want to change it up!

I.  Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles:  A Christmas Advent Devotional by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson (a mother-daughter team). We're trying this one out this year, but there are a lot of options our there for advent devotionals like The Truth in Tinsel, or this free printable one that coordinates with the Jesus Storybook Bible (and uses pictures from that story Bible). And here's a pretty free printable advent calendar with Bible verses.

Can I leave with something encouraging? These are the "4 G's"  in "Everyday Church" by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. Here they are:
1. God is great – so we don’t have to be in control
2. God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others
3. God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere
4. God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves
Does someone in your life need to be encouraged in one of these areas? Can your load be lightened today by believing one of these truths?

The good news of Jesus is good news for us, and good news for everyone, but Chester and Timmis argue in their book that we have to ask God to show us how Jesus is good news. 

Is she anxious? She need to know that God is in control. 

Is he looking for the perfect relationship? He needs to know that God is the only one who fills and only He is unfailingly good.

Are they working hard to prove that they've got it together? They need to know that God's grace has already been offered to them, so there's nothing to prove to Him (and His opinion is what matters).

Let's slow down and ask the Holy Spirit to speak the truth to our own pain points and to the pain points of others. Let's ask God to empower us to speak words that are both sweet and salty (Colossians 4:5-6). 

these cards are from the "MISSION" set in the shop

Happy advent!

Simple and fun things I want to try with my kids this advent


I just love books and how God uses them to change me. I have to admit I'm not always great at finishing them, but I have great expectations!

Here is a collection of books I'd like to read this coming year:

A. The Green Ember by SD Smith (comes highly recommended by the Read-Aloud Revival's Sarah Makenzie). This one is to read with the girls.

B. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that Can Radically Change your Family by Paul David Tripp (author of my favorite marriage book)

F. New Morning Mercies:  A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp (actually, I already bought this one and started! It's solid.)

I. John Adams by David McCulough (because I'm terrible at history)

Have you read any of these and do you recommend them?

Any good fiction recommendations to round out my list? I love books that take me away from the pace of my real life. It seems to help my anxiety. I read two classic Anthony Trollope novels (think very slow-cooker novel pace) this past year and enjoyed them. You can get some of them free for the Kindle on Amazon (and you don't need a Kindle to read them--you can download the Kindle app)! Or . . . just check your local library. 

If you're looking for a can't-put-this-book-down read, my friend, Sydney Betts, has written two novels set in Native American culture and they are FABULOUS, a breath of fresh air in the world of Christian fiction! She's working on publishing the third now, and I can't wait to read it. You can find them here.

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on my Christmas wish list: books!

I'm wrapping up my final blog posts of the year and getting ready to take December off from blogging and being a little business owner! 

I'm a little obsessed with art (if you haven't guessed). As soon as we bought our current home, I planned out what I would put on the walls. If I go to your house and you have blank walls, I will probably secretly plan out art to fill your space.

I spend a lot of time admiring other people's art on Etsy and Instagram and collecting my favorites, so I thought I'd share with you the artists whose work I admire. 

Taste in art is such a personal thing. I favor lots of bold color, florals, animals, and birds. I also love artists with a similar heart as mine who love to combine the Word and their unique creativity.

Here they are with links at the bottom for where you can find their art. Most offer prints of their original work, which makes them more affordable! 

favorite wall art prints and paintings

1. Carolyn Gavin Shop She specializing in a vintage-looking color palette of florals and cute little elephants.

2. PRINTSPIRING Beautiful watercolored floral and birds (she recently went through the whole alphabet). She sells only printables, so for $5 and the cost of printing, you can get some beautiful art on your walls! If you sign up for her mailing list, you can get a free print (and if you're like me, you love free stuff!).

3. Jaime Rovenstine Jaime does quirky and bold abstract painting with lots of pink (she also takes commissions). Most of her work is originals, but she sells a few prints (cheaper).

4. GraceLaced Shop Ruth Simmons is a talented painter (and mom to six boys!) with a heart for Scripture and the Gospel. She has a gift for communicating the Gospel both in words and art. 

5. Yao Cheng Design Her watercolors are just stunning (I favor the abstracts and bold florals). I got my sister a few of her prints a few years ago and they just make a room!

6. Wendy Brightbill, A Girl and Her Brush Shop I'm a big fan of Wendy's bright abstracts. She started painting while recovering from a traumatic brain injury and is so talented. Her calendar is a great deal (basically 12 prints for $25).

7. TushTush. I love her paintings of people and use of colors. 
8. Quiet Boy Studio. Patrick Laurent is another artist with a heart for illustrating Scripture in fun ways. I love his prints for kids. He also makes fun movie quote prints.

Of course, quality art is an investment in an artist's talents and giftings, but if you're looking for some simple and beautiful art that just happens to be FREE to download, I've compiled my favorites for you too (details below the image).

free art prints

A. "but first, coffee" minimal print

B. Psalm 138: 1 Bible verse floral print (comes in four different color palettes!)

C. You are deeply loved print from Emily at Jones Design Company

D. Do your little bitof good (Desmond Tutu quote) print

E. Love your story art print (by me along with a few others HERE!)

F.  Jeremiah 17:7-8 hand-lettered print from Laura Rennie Interiors + Sincerely Amy Designs

G. "They broke bread in their homes" (Acts quote) print from the Mountainview Cottage

H. Pretty butterfly print

I. Give thanks in all circumstances print from Ashlee Proffitt

Need another idea for a cost-saving gift? Why not print my free printable Bible verse coloring pages and make a coloring book for your favorite colorer (along with some fun colored pencils or markers)? My shop also carries mini coloring pages on some of the newer sets! 

free Bible verse art coloring pages

See, all that time on Pinterest wasn't wasted, was it? I hope those are helpful to you!

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Artists I admire + my favorite free art you can gift this Christmas

Jeremiah 17:7-8 Bible verse coloring page

If you're an American like me and at all paying attention, you were probably up late last night watching the election results roll in--to your delight, dismay, or bewilderment depending on your point of view (and if you're grieving today, I'm truly sorry, and please take your time processing). 

(This reminds me of how there is a massive construction project carving up a whole hill down the street from our house--a new "luxury living" university student housing development called "The Retreat." We drive by often and my five-year-old says "Oh, look at the destruction!" My baby boy says, "WOW" to all the big diggers. The elderly man now living in a formerly quiet neighborhood just shakes his head. A lot depends on your point of view, I suppose, and I respect my friends and their real concerns on both sides.)  

We all put our hope in something or someone. Some event. Some goal. Some person. Some ideal.

If your hope isn't in a political party, maybe it's your particular brand of doing church. Or maybe your great hopes for your children or your career. Or maybe it's in a friendship or marriage or family.

In my experience, those things just don't deliver consistently.

My dad reminded me of this verse from Jeremiah this morning as we talked over last night's events: 

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV)

Spanish Bible verse coloring page

There is nothing and no one better, friends. Your leaders, your political party allegiances, your friends, your family, your spouse. They cannot be where you sink your roots. They are not an ever-flowing river. They do not drive out fear and anxiety.

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"" (John 7:38 ESV)

Whatever the "climate" where we're planted, we can bear fruit, fruit born of the fullness of the Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22Colossians 2:10--illustrated HERE). 

Yes, things will still hurt and disappoint and perplex us, but they don't have to capture us with fear, dry us up, or move us.

Let's sink our roots down deep friends and be "oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified" (Isaiah 61:3 ESV). 

Let's be known for clearly being "the Lord's," not the right's or left's, or in-between's. 

Today's printable Bible verse coloring page is from Jeremiah 17:7-8. You can download your page in Spanish HERE or in English HERE, or by clicking on the images below!*

Jeremiah 17:7-8 Bible verse coloring page
PRAYING the Word
God, we are thirsty for you. We need a hope that is unchanging today. Help us put our trust and all our hope in You. Help us bear fruit to your glory. Help us be a light in our neighborhoods, our schools, our workplaces, our homes, our cities, and our nation(s). 

QUESTIONS to consider:
1. What kind of things have been "your trust," but have disappointed you?
2. How can you daily practice putting your trust in the LORD?
3. Are you fearful and anxious today? What clues are fear and anxiety sending you about where your hope is placed?

*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!!

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Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow! + As a tree printable coloring page

Psalm 34:18 "the lord is near to the brokenhearted" printable Bible verse coloring page

I hung up the phone with the boy I had been pursuing a relationship with for the past year. He admitted cheating on me, and I knew immediately that the dream of "us" was over. I was in grad school at the time and walked into the kitchen where my roommate was cooking. She looked at my blood-drained face and knew something was wrong. I told her the ugly story and curled up on the carpet in the living room, feeling as if I had to wrap my body around my heart to keep it from splintering across the room.

In that moment, I didn't cry, but I felt the presence of God heavy like a downy blanket. I'm so thankful I knew Him then.

My sweet dad made the two hour trip to make sure I was okay and block "the boy" from contacting me again. He walked with me around the lake and listened to my frustration (yes, I have a great dad).

Tears would come later. And anger. And questions. And analyzing every thing we both did and said. For months and months my heart just hurt. I felt ashamed for not having anticipated disaster, for not having more wisdom.

Even all these years later, I don't have answers for that situation. 

But I did learn the comfort of my God.

I think about this verse:
"The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy." (Proverbs 14:10 ESV)

That's the frustrating thing about being in pain--not being fully understood. There are parts of our hearts that no one can touch or understand--in both joy and bitterness. 

If you're in some sort of pain, I want to encourage you with some truths that encourage me today:

In pain, there is the comfort of God.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ESV)
While others may grow weary of our struggles, God is never impatient with our weaknesses. When others don't completely understand, God does. When we can't even find the words for how we feel, God gets it.

In pain, there is comforting others.
The verse above says that God comforts us so we can take that same comfort and pass it on to the next hurting person. I remember soon after my big breakup, an older women sat down with me for tea and told her own story of heartache. It was simple, but so comforting.

It gives me hope that God does not waste my pain.

(My friend, Ashlee Proffitt, is jumping into this cycle of comfort-receiving and comfort-giving with a ministry to survivors of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. She just launched a ministry, called The Morning, that she hopes will encourage anyone suffering in that way.)

In pain, there is the hope of heaven.
Maybe we think we should reserve this hope for when we're faced with death, but I'm beginning to find hope in this even for the "smaller" suffering. When things hurt I remember that they will not always hurt. One day pain and sadness will be a distant memory. 
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."" (Rev 21:3-5 ESV)
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Rom 8:18 ESV)
Don't be afraid to walk with sorrow and suffering.
I picked up Hind's Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard last week at my favorite thrift store. My college roommate wrote her senior English thesis on this book, but I had yet to read it. It's an allegory of Much-Afraid's journey from slavery to fear to "high places" with the shepherd. She is surprised (and disturbed) that instead of "Peace and Joy," the shepherd gives her "Sorrow and Suffering" as her travel companions. She soon learns that when she grasps their hands, they lead her through the roughest parts of her journey. The Shepherd, too, is always there when she calls.

I am mulling over the thought of grasping hands with sorrow and suffering.

When my spirit is crushed, I often spend so much time and energy analyzing the situation that I fail to allow God to simply comfort me. I don't want to walk with sorrow and suffering; I want immediate relief!

I do this when my husband and I have an argument. I did this when people began to leave our church for various reasons a few years ago. I was crushed by endless agonizing over what they did, what I did, what we as a church possibly did wrong. 

In the midst of that heartache, a friend reminded me to keep focused on Jesus. Any time we focus on ourselves or others, we find sin, not hope. 

God says:
"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." (Psa 43:5 ESV)
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb 12:1-2 ESV)
"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." (Col 3:2-3 ESV)
Does God need us to sort it all out?

Do we need everything to be sorted out?

Actually, no. We just need HIM.

Today's printable Bible verse coloring page is from Psalm 34:18. You can download your page HERE or by clicking on the image below!*

bible verse coloring page
PRAYING the Word
Help us find our comfort and our hope in You, God of all comfort. Thank you that you are near. Thank you that you save. Thank you that you comfort.

QUESTIONS to consider:

1. Have you ever felt God near in your sorrow or pain?
2. Do you struggle to want answers more than God's comfort? 
3. Do you think having all the answers really would be comforting?

*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!!

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God is near + Psalm 34:18 printable Bible verse coloring page

Bible verse coloring page "the body of Christ" 1 Corinthians 12:14-16, 18

I don't always feel like I fit in as an artist. I don't watercolor, do calligraphy, paint, or make anything classy, sophisticated or fancy. I draw cute illustrations and write about the Word, but sometimes that feels very small.

Maybe that sounds silly, but I'm guessing you feel the same way about some area of your life. The lane you're in feels narrow and somewhat cramped. You look across to friends speeding by in their own lanes, doing their things, and you think that it's time to try harder or that you're somehow just not enough.

It's been a journey for me the last few years defining what I do well as an artist and learning to put my blinders on and accept this lane that I believe God has me in.

I think this has some application for us who follow Jesus and belong to His body, the Church. Here are a few ways I see myself, and others, struggle with "finding our lane":

We think that because we are not this or that, therefore we don't belong. We focus on the many things that we're not. The things that we do feel empowered to do seem so small in this big broken world that we live in, or in comparison with someone else's abilities.

Or, at the other extreme, because of the gifts we're given, we feel like it's all up to us. This leads to puffing up because, in the diversity of the body of Christ, others are really different than us, and then it leads to despair because we know our deficiencies. 

Other times I think we hold back on our giftings for fear of being "too much." Too forward. Too confident. Too talkative. Unfeminine. 

Maybe you're not even sure what your giftings from God are or how you fit in with the Church at all. Maybe you're so new in your faith that you haven't had enough experience to see what God is empowering you to do to build up the Church. 

If you struggle in any of these areas, I want to lay down a few simple truths from the Word that I hope encourage you.

1. You are a body part, not a single-celled organism. You cannot function alone.
"For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." (Rom 12:4-8 ESV)
 2. God arranges the body as He sees fit, in His sovereignty. Our job is to remain connected to Jesus, the Head, doing what we're designed to do.
"For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose." (1Co 12:14-18 ESV)
Bible verse coloring page "the body of Christ" 1 Corinthians 12:14-16, 18
What are the implications of these truths for the struggles I mentioned?

If you belong to Christ, you belong to His body. You may feel different from the body of Christ God has placed you in. You may look different. You may think differently and talk differently. You may have a different background and set of experiences. 

Maybe you're single and everyone else is married with kids. Maybe you're married with kids and everyone else is single. Maybe everyone else grew up in Church and you grew up knowing nothing at all about Jesus. Maybe your personality and interests make you feel like the odd-one out.

But let's not believe the lie that we don't belong.

By the way, if you see things differently, just maybe you bring something to the body that is missing. 

Notice that everything is disorganized and chaotic in your small group? Maybe God wants to use your administrative gifts to bring some order. 

Notice that the lessons for the kids need to be more meaty? Maybe God has called you to teach or help develop better materials. 

Overhear a conversation about the how terrible abortion is and (while you agree) all you can think of is the past God redeemed you from and grief for women who make that choice? Maybe God has gifted you with mercy for the broken. 

Hear a friend talk about her deep anxiety over a work situation, and your heart wells up with encouraging words and a desire to help? Maybe God has gifted you with encouragement.

Hear of a friend who is sick and you immediately think of the things she might need (childcare, food, etc)? Maybe God has gifted you to know how to help others.

We need each other. Alone, no, we are not "enough." It's okay that our work is limited. We need to learn to think of ourselves with "sober judgment." 
"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." (Rom 12:3 ESV) 
You were designed with certain deficiencies, not because God doesn't like you, but so we could depend on each other. That means than if you're not part of a church body, you can't function in the way God has designed. 

Don't like the church? Yes, she's broken and sometimes ugly, so broken that Jesus had to die to redeem and cleanse her. Because the body is made up of redeemed, yet still sinful people, it ain't gonna be peaches and cream this side of complete redemption, folks. We look more like a construction zone than a finished project. But in my experience, this crazy labaratory for the Gospel (I wrote about that HERE) has taught me more about God's shocking grace than anything I've ever experienced. 

Let's always keep in mind that Christ died for the body, to make her His own. He did not reject Her, so neither should we! 

The body will be very diverse. Think of a thumb versus a spleen (what does a spleen even do?). So different, yet imagine functioning without either (just googled "what does a spleen do?" and you don't want to be without one). Your sister in Christ may function in the body in a completely different way than you. Be her cheerleader. Encourage her. Value her, even if you don't completely understand her importance.

God is in charge of the body. Everyone He brings to your Body brings something you need. And beyond our local church bodies, God sees the entire body of Christ spread out across your city, your state, your country, and the world. He is orchestrating it all. 
"But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose." 1 Corinthians 12:19 (ESV)
Use your giftings boldly in the Spirit because you are trusting God to work.
"I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began," (2Ti 1:5-9 ESV)
Paul reminds Timothy that the Spirit he was given is not characterized by fear, but by power, love, and self-control. What do you think Paul meant when he told Timothy to "fan into flame the gift of God"? Later he tells Timothy not to be ashamed of the message of the Gospel. 

Maybe Paul is encouraging Timothy (and us) to not be crippled by fear, but be empowered by the Spirit for the work prepared for us to to, all "not because of our works, but because of His own purpose and grace." 

In what ways has fear cripples the work of God through His Spirit in your life?

Have you unknowingly bought into any of Satan's lies about your place in the body of Christ? 

Is your local (and beyond!) body of Christ benefiting from your presence, your gifts, and even your needs (ie. the opportunity to serve you)?

The maturity and stability of the body of Christ is at stake here, which is sobering to me.
"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christuntil we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." (Eph 4:11-14 ESV)
I made today's printable Bible verse coloring page from 1 Corinthians 12 to speak some truth to our hearts. You can download your page HERE or by clicking on the image below!*

Bible verse coloring page printable
PRAYING the Word
Jesus, I need your Spirit to help me function in your body as you've designed. Help me to fan into flame the gifts you've given me. Help me live by your Spirit, not my flesh. Forgive me for believing any lies about my place in the body.

QUESTIONS to ask about the verses:

1. If we are to view believers in Christ as a body, what does that mean for how we see each other?
2. In what ways do you struggle with how God designed you to function in the body? 
3. Are you functioning well in the body of Christ? What is holding you back?

*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

All that I'm not, body parts, and fanning the flame + 1 Corinthians 12:14-16, 19 Bible verse printable

"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

Bring your nothing + printable Isaiah 61 Bible verse coloring page

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

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