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I can feel it even now. The busyness creeping in as my day planner pages run out: Christmas plays, parties, the gift lists I need to make, the pretty new wreath I imagine for my front door to let everyone know there's joy inside.

My brain begins to spin and it's so tempting to absorb and manage every bit of information at my fingertips.

This, combined with a tendency towards gloom in the winter months, is my recipe for joylessness.

But I hear God's voice calling me to rest and to quiet, to draw near to Him over the next month as we celebrate the Advent season. We've been celebrating Advent in earnest as a church for a few years now, and I have yet to do it really well, but I'm learning.

I wanted to hop on the blog today and share a few resources that can help you celebrate Advent, but at the same time I'm cautious about giving you something else to scratch wildly on your already long to-do list, so before I go on, I will say . . .

We don't need SOMETHING this Christmas. We need SOMEONE.

Whatever resource or tool you use this year, let it lead you to Jesus.

If I can encourage you to step in out of the wind and bustle and plan how you can intentionally quiet yourself and "prepare Him room" this season, I would like to.

So with all those caveats, here are a few ideas . . .

PRACTICAL STEPS I WANT TO TAKE:
As much I can, slow down. Fewer commitments, no new projects.
Less social media/news input.
Simplified gifting--a combination of online and local shopping (like at my local fair trade/survivor made shop, which is also online).
Scripture meditation for myself and as a family.
Enjoy my kids and extended family. Puzzles, tea, snuggles, Christmas music.

A FEW SIMPLE ADVENT RESOURCES:
The Jesus Storybook Bible** + free printable Advent Reading Plan
We love the way the Jesus Storybook Bible articulates the interwoven story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. It's so good for both adults and children. We've read through the reading plan with our church several years in a row. 

My friend Amanda created this Advent plan that combines a daily Scripture devotion + crafts for little ones. I did this with the girls when they were younger and we still have the ornaments. You can purchase the ebook and printable ornaments. 

25 hand-drawn Advent Bible coloring pages in three sizes. This is a simple way to meditate on Scripture. The pages are not numbered, so you can use them however you'd like--a verse a day or two or three a week. Color (or not) and display them in your home with ribbon or tape. Send them to friends and family. Host a coloring night and invite friends over.  (p.s. If you're signed up for my newsletter or follow me on social media, look out for my winter sale on Etsy next week).

  


FUN RESOURCES AND ACTIVITIES:
I have a whole Pinterest page where I've collected crafts, printables, and resources for Advent and Christmas that I think are fun and helpful. 

I created this printable box for under the tree a few years ago and this free "joy to the world" coloring page, which happily made its way into the new Advent set!



Friends, I hope these resources are helpful and not burdensome. I hope they lead you to Jesus. I hope we can intentionally set our minds on "things that are above," because this world can look pretty bleak, especially when contrasted with the sparkle of Christmas. 

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:1-2

If you have resources you've found helpful, please share in the comments below!



*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!!

**affiliate link. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.



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

Seeking Advent Joy + a few simple resources to help


My son is three and half now, very verbal, and asking big questions:

How did I get out of your belly when I was a baby? ("God made a way, buddy.")
Who's your mom? ("Mamo.")
Why do I have to take a nap? ("Because Mommy needs a nap too.")
Where is God?


  

He asks the last question strapped into his carseat behind me as I drive.

I answer, "Well, God is in heaven."

"Where is heaven?"

"Heaven is um, where God lives. Well . . . God is in us too."

"You mean God is in my belly?" (This is super funny to him).

Way to reveal a fundamental gap in my theology, bud.

Thankfully, I was reading the chapter The Divine Conspiracy** about the nature of God, the location of heaven, and . . . where God is.

Willard explains that in an Old Testament of understanding God's nature, heaven is where God is and reigns, and that God has always been HERE and available to us, with us. Heaven is actually here, not in a distant, strange place.

This misunderstanding has profound consequences for our faith. Willard writes,
"The damage done to our practical faith in Christ and in his government-at-hand by confusing heaven with a place in distant or outer space, or even beyond space, is incalculable. Of course God is there too. But instead of heaven and God also being always present with us, as Jesus shows them to be, we invariably take them to be located far away and, most likely, at a much later time--not here and not now. And we should then be surprised to feel ourselves alone?"
He argues that to understand God's location, alternately sometimes we say that he is "in our hearts," but there are problems with that explanation too. Willard writes,
"'In my heart' easily becomes 'in my imagination' . . . . This ill-advised attempt to make God near by confining him to human hearts robs the idea of his direct involvement in human life of any sense. Ironically it has much the same effect as putting God in outer space or beyond."
So, I have begun to remind my children that God is Spirit, but that doesn't make him less real. He is just as real as your own spirit, the part of you that makes you who you are, but that no one can see. This is the part of you that lives on when you die. This the part of you that God makes alive by His Spirit and cannot die thereafter.

I have begun to remind them that God is right here, as close as the air they are breathing in.

When I am afraid, when a child is afraid, the issue of God's location makes all the difference. Is he way off in heaven looking down, or his next to us?

“In him we live and move and have our being" Acts 17:28

"But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." Psalm 73:28 ESV

It's amazing to think that the God of the Old Testament was already near, but in Jesus, God takes his nearness to a whole new level.

“'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel' (which means, God with us)". Matthew 1:23

From the 25 Days of Advent Joy Printable Set (now in the shop!)
Today, I'm sharing this phone screensaver to remind you where God is and where he reigns. There is a version in Spanish and English this time for my Spanish-speaking friends! To download, click the image below and save to your device!*

            

PRAYING the Word
God remind me in my sadness, my fear, and my need that you are near. Remind me that you are not confined to my heart, nor are your confined to the outer limits of space. You are here, just where you've always been since creation--working, reigning, bringing glory to yourself. And nothing in all creation will separate me from you.

QUESTIONS to consider:
1. What do you think of as God's location?
2. How might a more accurate view of God's location influence your faith and feelings?

*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!!

**affiliate link. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.



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

Where is God? Where is Heaven? Questions that matter to me and my three-year-old + a GOD IS HERE screensaver


I was reading Psalm 109 this week and thought, "Wow, David sounds kind of dramatic here." Most of the Psalm is David pleading for God to punish his enemies harshly, cut off their posterity, blot our their names and their memory from the earth, etc. The usual.

He laments:
"For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is stricken within me.
I am gone like a shadow of evening;
I am shaken off like a locust
." Psalm 109:22-23
I think I was feeling a battle of my values, or, maybe you could say, my cultures. My American culture values strength and stoicism, independence and individual freedom. 

The American Psalm might go something like this:
Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, 
such is the one God helps. 
Self-made hustlers,
push past pain.
Whiners aren't winners, 
so don't be dramatic. 
Ignore all the critics. 
Stay positive and
make lemonade from those lemons.
Only you have the power to 
wield your future.
It's all in your hands.
Your only limit is you!
So believe in yourself.

(Thanks Pinterest for the wealth of memes.)

Then there's my Kingdom culture, the culture of my God who calls himself a Shepherd and Father. It struck me that David's honest lament is exactly why God loved David and called him a man "after my heart" (Acts 13:22).

God devotes a whole book of the Bible to a collection of outpourings of David's heart--literally at the heart of our Bible.
"Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us." (Psalm 62:8 ESV)
God didn't value David for his stoicism, his bravado, his independence, or his puffery; He prized him for his honest humility. God drew near to David because David drew near to Him.

See, being honest about your feelings before your Father (and others) is not being dramatic; it's being human. And God meets humans in their honest humility. That's also where humans meet other humans.

There's no shame in being a human being created in the image of God, made to live in a dependent relationship with God. Needy is not bad; it's just where you expect those needs to be met that gets tricky. 

I know it's uncomfortable to sit with hard feelings, to say
I'm sad.
I'm afraid.
I'm angry.

It's hard to sit with those feelings long enough to bring them before God.

It's so much easier to run, to numb it, to distract ourselves. But the consequences of not bringing our hearts before the Lord is ruining us--with anxiety, depression, addictions, distractions, idols of our hearts.

I know the struggle well. And I'm wrestling here between these two cultures. How about you?

Today, I've created a shareable image below that you can save and share on social media to start a conversation (if you're so inclined 😉) or just save as a reminder for yourself.

click to save:
PRAYING the Word
Jesus, thank you that when we draw near to you, you draw near to us (James 4:8). Teach us to live as you intended us to live--as humans in a relationship with you. Teach us to pour out our hearts at all times before you like David. Let our laments lead us to worship you for your faithfulness. 

QUESTIONS to consider:
1. What do the Psalms teach you about how God relates to you and your emotions?
2. What are some consequences of not being honest before God?
3. How can honesty about emotions benefit interpersonal relationships?

4. How did Jesus deal with emotions as a human?


*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

Am I just being dramatic?


When you think of God, do you think of His infinite joy, and the delight he takes in his good creation, including you? 

I'm slowly reading through Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy.** You'll probably be hearing a lot about it here as I work through it.

I was reading this week about how God is characterized by joy. Willard writes,
"Undoubtedly, [God] is the most joyous being in the universe. The abundance of his love and generosity is inseparable from his infinite joy. All of the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul-exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in all their breadth and depth and richness." 
Imagine the way your heart swells at the sight of some beautiful created thing--your child's laugh, a starry night, the profile of your loved one, or just a tiny brilliant blue wildflower. That's just a taste of the joy our all-seeing Creator God experiences continually (and our delight reflects how we are made in his image, right?).

I was illustrating this verse yesterday for a new set of Advent coloring pages:
"He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:15-17, ESV) 
Now imagine the joy of the Trinity, the Son holding all things together, all things made through Him and for Him. The Father delighting in the Son and His Creation. The Spirit pouring out God's love into our hearts, taking what is Jesus' and declaring it to us (see Romans 5:5 and John 16:14).

The Trinity is not stingy with its joy. Father, Son, and Spirit invite us in:
"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:10-11 ESV)
I know this all might sound "up in the clouds," but Willard argues that what and how we think about God is essential for life right now. He writes, "To trust in God, we need a rich and accurate way of thinking and speaking about him to guide and support our life vision and our will."

I'm praying we understand Him better today and in Him, find great joy and purpose.

Today's screensaver is from a little square painting I did for an Instagram challenge last month and the words of Psalm 16:11 (I've illustrated a Scripture card freebie of this verse before here). You can download your screensaver by saving the image below.*

p.s. I'm listening to Lauren Daigle's new album, are you?




PRAYING the Word
Father, help me see you clearly. Help me look up when life is overwhelming and dark. Spirit, reveal the riches of the Father to me and the "inexpressible gift" of  God's grace that gives me "all sufficiency in all things at all times" so that I can "abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).

QUESTIONS to consider:
1. Do you think of God as being filled with joy?
2. What does God take joy in?  (see also Psalm 18:19; Zephaniah 3:17) 
3. How does the truth about God's joy and delight affect you today?


*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!!


**affiliate link. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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

The joy of God + a Psalm 16:11 Screensaver


Sometimes, I think it's important to take a big step back out of the busyness of life, and ask the big picture questions. What is God doing here? What am I doing here?

When we frame life in God's big picture, then the day-to-day takes on a different color, a deeper joy, and a rediscovered purpose--without changing our actual circumstances one little bit.

Here's a big picture truth: God has a kingdom and he's calling you and me to be a part of it. It's not an inaccessible kingdom. It's not a kingdom under threat (no matter the current political climate). It's not only a future kingdom. It's here and now, and you're invited.

What's our role in this kingdom of God's?

Genesis 1 tells us he entrusted us rule to over the earth (see Genesis 1:26-30), but it would be a rule over which He would graciously reign and sustain us.

Dallas Willard (who fully fleshes out the ideas here) writes in The Divine Conspiracy**:
"The human job description . . . found in Chapter 1 of Genesis indicates that God assigned to us collectively the rule over all living things on earth, animal and plant. . . . However unlikely it may seem from our current viewpoint, God equipped us for this task by framing our nature to function in a conscious, personal relationship of interactive responsibility with him. We are mean to exercise our 'rule' only in union with God, as he acts with us. He intended to be our constant companion or coworker in the creative enterprise of life on earth.
God invites us to be Kingdom men and women involved in His work on earth, full of His Spirit, abiding in Him.

But we easily get that confused. We say:

 I will reign over myself. God. You are not to be trusted, so I will trust myself. 

Or, maybe this:

So as long as I've got my ticket to heaven, I'm good, and can't wait for your will to be finally done in heaven (but certainly not in this crazy place, God!).

(This is the "it's all gonna burn" theology, as in, "it's all gonna burn so why try to fix it?")

Or, this:

There is so much work to do on this earth, and it's all up to me. I'm not sure God cares as much as I do. Really loving Jesus means doing all the good stuff (secondary or divorced from a relationship with God). 

I wonder if confusion about the nature of God's kingdom accounts for why people argue about the relationship of social justice and the Gospel and debate the value of faith versus works.

I wonder if Jesus just shakes his head, and says, "You really don't know how my kingdom works, do you?"

God says,

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5 ESV)

and

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (Jhn 15:15 ESV)

Will God call you to big work or small work? Will you run for office or will you run an office? Will you disciple your own kids or someone else's? Will he call you to social action in the city or Gospel proclamation in the Amazons?

I don't know. But I do know that you're His friend, and He will tell you what He's doing and how you can be a part.

These are the things I'm thinking about today.

I made this coloring page to remind you that God wants to be YOUR God, and that He calls you HIS PEOPLE, and that just as he walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, He wants to walk with you today and do Kingdom work through you.

You can download the page in English HERE and in Spanish HERE or click on the images below:


PRAYING the WORD
Jesus, teach me what it means to be part of your Kingdom. Show me the big picture of your work and my life. Show me the work you have for me. Thank you that you promise to be my God.

QUESTIONS to consider:
In what ways have you misunderstood your human job description?




*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!!

****affiliate link. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Garden Living + a 2 Corinthians 6:16 Bible Coloring Page in English and Spanish



"Come and hear, all you who fear God, 
and I will tell what he has done for my soul." 
(Psalm 66:16 ESV)

Each year around my anniversary since I started blogging, I have written something here about our marriage and what God has been doing in our lives the past year. I almost skipped this year.

It's been the hardest year (our 11th) I can remember, but God is taking what seemed to be crumbling in our hands and is creating something so very good.

I'll tell you a little about "what God has done for my soul" in hopes it will encourage you.

He has given us
"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. 
They shall build up the ancient ruins; 
they shall raise up the former devastations; 
they shall repair the ruined cities, 
the devastations of many generations." 
(Isaiah 61:3-4 ESV)

You see, last October, we broke down, he and I.

I with
+ my anxiety
+ fatigue and overwhelm with parenting and homeschool
+ my idols of who he should be to me
+ his own blend of weaknesses and pain points

A gap opened between us that we didn't know how to cross.

Fear and sadness spiraled into panic. The one person I wanted to be closest to in the world felt out of reach.

And as hard as I spun mental webs around the problem, I couldn't fix it.

We were caught in a nasty, crazy-making cycle familiar to many couples:

A woman expresses her need for connection, affection, attention, romance. The disconnect she feels makes her anxious, so she protests. Her anxiety sounds like criticism. Her man hears, "You're not enough. Despite all your faithfulness and your hard work, you're not enough for me." 

His raw spot gets rubbed. He's trying, but he can't measure up. He withdraws, fights back, criticizes, or sinks into a depression to protect himself and the marriage that feels so fragile.

This to her is rejection and screams, "You're not important." She feels even more alone now that her cry for connection has backfired, more desperate and anxious.

So they try not to need each other, even though their isolation is oppressive. They try to stuff their emotions, but emotions just don't play that way. Emotions are like a three-year-old awake at 6:00 on a Saturday morning. You can ignore him, but eventually he'll jump on your face, ask for a bowl of cereal for the 13th time (or even worse attempt to pour himself a bowl), or call from the potty to be wiped. He must be dealt with or you'll have a mess to clean up.

Emotions are like that.

Brokenness spins the couple into a dizzying cycle of distrust. They are loving as themselves, not as God.

Jackie Hill Perry, in her new book Gay Girl, Good God,** recounts a poem her now-husband Preston wrote as he was pursuing her heart (while she was still wrestling with same-sex attraction). Preston recounts how God told him, "I'm calling you to love her not like you but like Me."

My husband and I were stuck in loving each other the best way we knew how. God was calling us to love like Him. 

I count us blessed and privileged, because we got help. We saw multiple counselors, as individuals and as a couple. We didn't hide our weaknesses, because the Gospel told us that our sins were already outed at the cross, and that our weaknesses could bring Him glory. We were surrounded by a supportive church who walked with us, praying for us faithfully.

For a season, we've stepped away from every church ministry we were involved in so we could focus on restoration and healing.

Funny thing about a season--you're not sure that it actually is just a season when you're in the middle of it. Who can tell you that it will get better? And will you believe them?
"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" (Psalm 27:13-14 ESV)
The "land of the living" can feel far away in seasons like these, like watching from the outside all the happy, functioning people living their happy lives, while you are only half-living. Surviving.

Slowly, I have begun to see streams in the wasteland.
"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 43:19 ESV)
I'm beginning to see that God wanted more for me than just a "good" marriage. He wanted a whole me. A whole me free of my sins and idols. A whole me who knew how to bring body, soul, and Spirit under his reign.
"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." (2Cor. 7:1 ESV)
God wanted to make me a woman of strength and dignity. 

God wanted to fill me with His Spirit in the ample spaces carved out by suffering and brokenness.

God wanted to heal my deepest hurts and rework the well-trodden paths of my heart. 

God wanted me to make me a better comforter.

God was doing something new that I didn't ask for, but that I desperately needed.

Our progress today is not linear. Marriage counseling is sometimes frustrating and discouraging. But we are beginning to see new ways of responding to each other. We're walking new paths, even though they are yet overgrown and unfamiliar.

I'm still learning to deal with my anxiety and to calmly and compassionately question where it's coming from.

God has been faithful:
"Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them." (Hos 11:3-4 ESV)
He is not done yet, with us, with me, with you.

You can save the free phone screensaver by clicking on the image below*.




*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!!

**affiliate link. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.



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

The year of ashes and beauty + an Isaiah 61:3 Phone Screensaver

If you spend any time at all on Instagram or Pinterest (as I do), you'll scroll past lots of cute saying about life--what matters, what it's supposed to be like, and how it's supposed to be lived.

"I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become."
"Your only limit is you."
"Be your own kind of beautiful."
"You are enough."
We scroll and absorb and then when real life smacks us in the face, we wonder what in the world is wrong with us, or the people around us, or with God even.

Dallas Willard, in his book, The Divine Conspiracy, says about trying to live your life by cute slogans and mantras: "Absurdity and cuteness are fine to chuckle over and perhaps to muse upon. But they are no place to live. They provide no shelter or direction for being human."

That's why Jesus says to build our lives upon the rock of the Word of God, on how HE says a human life is to be lived (Matthew 7:24).

I was reading these verses in 2 Corinthians this week and encouraged in what I should expect of life:


"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. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh . . . So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." (2Cor. 4:7-12, 16 ESV)

"For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened--not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord." (2Cor. 5:2-8 ESV)

Do you see here the paradoxical (I like this word which means something that seems contradictory, but is actually true) nature of our life in Christ?

For a follower of Jesus, full of the treasure of the life of Jesus through the Spirit, it is normal to be:
afflicted
perplexed
persecuted
struck down
carrying in the body the death of Jesus
given over to death for Jesus' sake
wasting away outwardly
groaning
burdened

For a follower of Jesus, full of the treasure of the life of Jesus through the Spirit, it is also normal to be:
not crushed
not forsaken
not driven to despair
manifesting the life of Jesus in our bodies
renewed inwardly day by day
prepared for glory
filled with the Spirit as a guarantee
always of good courage

This tension of real life in Christ doesn't fit easily into a slogan, does it?

Scripture affirms both our struggle and our hope. And these two we hold in tension until we're "at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).

If I expect to achieve some magical state of non-struggle in this life, I'll (paradoxically) struggle even more:

I'll question my standing before God--"What am I getting wrong?"

I'll doubt His goodness--"What is He withholding from me?"

I'll judge you in your struggles--"Why can't she just be okay?"

Also (paradoxially), if I accept this ongoing tension, I find I can better deal and experience God's peace right in the middle of it--and not lose heart.

In Christ, there is daily both life and death. I don't understand it all, but knowing this truth encourages me today, and I hope it does you too.

Please use this month's screensaver to remind yourself to not lose heart. You can click on the image below and save it to your phone.






*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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Life isn't cute, but Jesus is life + 2 Corinthians 4:16 screensaver

"In secret" screensaver from Marydean Draws
stock image from Elah Tree
Happy July, friends! I am enjoying the summer with my kiddos, but wanted to pop onto the blog and share this screensaver and some thoughts with you.

I've been reading through Matthew this summer and have come to Jesus' sermon on the mount in chapters five and six. I have been struck by the term "in secret" that Jesus repeats.


I have been thinking how the things that matter the most to God, that make us "salt of the earth" and "light of the world." are the things that happen "in secret":


the health of our relationships (Matthew 5:21-26)
holiness of heart (Matthew 5:27-30)
marriage (Matthew 5:31-32)
our word (Matthew 5:33-37)
generosity and kindness (Matthew 5:38-42)
imitating Jesus, becoming like the Father (Matthew 5:43-48)
intentions and integrity (Matthew 6:1-4)
sincerity of heart
God's will and purpose
horizontal, person-to-person forgiveness (Matthew 6:5-15)

Then Jesus says, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). 

It makes sense that Jesus then addresses anxiety (Matthew 6:25-34). So much anxiety (at least for me) is rooted in seeking first the things that don't matter to God--the seen things: approval of others, my reputation, how things appear. 

God knows that seeking these things eat me up inside.

He also knows that when I focus on externals, I judge, and that a judging heart is not a heart that has fully experienced God's grace. He knows that my inner, secret life is the only one I can fully know (Matthew 7:1-5).

I am so calmed to know both that God wants to meet me in the secret place, and that the real value in my life is found there. And from that place, "flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23).

PRAYING the Word
Thank you for making me your child and you my Father. Forgive my insincerity, my love of things that don't matter to You, and my resulting anxiety. Thank you that you delight to rescue me in my weaknesses (Psalm 18:19). Teach me to seek first the secret things of your Kingdom. Help me be a true "son/daughter of the Father," who imitates you--to your glory and the benefit of my community.

QUESTIONS to consider:
1. Is my treasure SECRET or SEEN?
2. Do the things that matter to God matter to me?
3. Is my relationship with God personal (Father-child) or only public? What kind of relationship does God want?

This section of Scripture inspired my watercolor painting below. You can download the phone screensaver by clicking and saving the image below!*


"In secret" screensaver from Marydean Draws

P.S. My second coloring book is out on Amazon! It's called "Coloring the Word: The Good News Story." You can see the preview below and get one HERE! 💙



*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

In Secret Phone Screensaver + thoughts on the things that matter


If you've been around the blog or followed me on Instagram this year, you know I've fallen in love with watercolors. It started as stress relief and has turned into such a life-giving addition to my drawing (which I still love, of course). Watercoloring seems to bring out another side of my creative brain. It allows me to work more intuitively and freely.

Today I'm combining my drawings and watercolors and hoping to share my love of watercolors with you!

I created a simple watercolor template and recorded a tutorial for you to follow along and paint with me. The template is made from the Romans 15:13 verse art I shared with you earlier this month as a screensaver. (If you don't see the video below, follow this link.)


Here's what you can pull together to be ready to go:

Supplies:

  • jar of water (we reuse yogurt containers)
  • watercolor or gouache paints. I use this set** in the video, but sometimes also use something like this ** with the kids (ours came from Michael's). And don't worry--kids' watercolor trays will work just fine too--you'll just have to mix more colors yourself!).
  • your favorite brushes (I like one rounded brushes with tips like these**). The one I use in the video is a Master's Touch Round 14 from Hobby Lobby.
  • tray for mixing colors. You can repurpose something from your house like an ice cube tray or buy one like this.** Watercolors can be rehydrated, so I love that the paint is never wasted!
  • printed template that you can download HERE (watercolor paper this** will hold the paint best, but I'm just using white cardstock in the video. It bled, but held up okay to the water)
  • paper towel for blotting



If you like this art, I've just added prints of the original painting and a printable set with Bible verse cards, blank watercolor templates in different sizes, and greeting cards to the shop. I can think of all kinds of ways you could use these--for birthdays, congratulations, thank you's, and notes of encouragement. I think the full-size or mini watercolor templates would make a great activity to do with a bunch of girlfriends or for a women's retreat activity. You can find the whole set here







Did you like the video and template? Let me know if you'd like to see more--and more of what. Tag me on Facebook or Instagram if you try it out. I'd be thrilled to see! Don't want to watercolor? Try this same template with colored pencils, markers, crayons, or acrylic paint!

Again, you can get your free template here or click on the image below!


*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!!

**These links are Amazon Associate Affiliate links, meaning I get a small percentage of purchases made using this link.



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

Watercolor with me! Video Tutorial + Printable Watercolor Template