Featured Slider

I have these gaps . . . 

between what I know and what I, in fact, believe
Does God even like me? . . .  Am I not justified in judging this person?

between what I know and what I do
Why do I let anger get the better of me? . . . Why is talking to God such a struggle for me?

between what I know of Jesus and how much I am like him.
How can I have thought that way about another person mad in God's image?. . . Why is it so hard to put another person's needs ahead of my own?

Dallas Willard, in The Divine Conspiracy,** writes, "a great deal of what goes into 'training [us] to do everything [Jesus] said' [referencing Matthew 28:20] consists simply in bringing people to believe with their whole being the information they already have as a result of their initial confidence in Jesus--even if that initial confidence was only the confidence of desperation."

He writes, "To enter his kingdom, we believe in him. To be at home in his kingdom, learning to reign with him there,
we must share his beliefs."

The whole of our being testifies to what we truly believe--our actions, our words, our emotions, our thoughts, our desires, our will. There is no segmentation in the life of a disciple. It's ALL for Him. It's all fodder for surrender and growth and "taking up our cross."

If an honest look at these areas reveals your own gaps, be encouraged. Being a poor disciple doesn't make you not a disciple; it just means you have a lot of growing to do and need more training under the Teacher, and under other fellow disciples.

John writes about what it looks like to both know and believe: 
"By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1Jo 4:13-20 ESV)
Verse 16 is what stood out to me in this passage (and is this month's coloring page). It reminds me that faith is both knowing and believing. We can know any multitude of things without putting trust in any of them. The word "know" in this verse is ginōskō in Greek and is used for coming to the knowledge or understanding of something. The word for "believe" is pisteuō and is used for putting your confidence and trust in something. 

John is clear in this passage that there's evidence if we know and believe God's love:
  • Are we like Jesus in the world? Then we know and believe God's love.
  • Do we fear God's condemnation and punishment? Then we don't fully know and believe God's love yet.
  • Do we hate our brothers and sisters? Then we don't fully know and believe God's love yet.

So many of my own "gaps," from my relationship with God to my relationships with others, stem from my not really believing God's love--for me and for others. 

But the news for all of us is GOOD: we can know God's love. God is knowable. He sent his Son as a person who lived a life that's beautifully recorded. And if you're reading this email, the book is even in your language (or one you can read). Know the Son; know the Father.

Additionally, we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, who makes God's love known to us on the most intimate level--our hearts.

In my experience, this is simple, but very complicated stuff. There are a lifetime of habits, based on our real beliefs, to rewrite. Some beliefs were written by our own corrupt hearts; some were written by others. But God is a patient, enduring author. Maybe before we're even aware of it, God writes another chapter, heals another gap between knowing and believing, and we are never the same. 

Today's printable Bible verse coloring page is from 1 John 4:16. Click on the images below to download in English or Spanish.

 


PRAYING the Word
Thank you, Lord, that in your mercy, you've taken me on as a student despite my small faith and slow growth! Thank you, Father, that you don't boot your slow-learning kiddos from the family. Your table is wide and bountiful and gracious. Help me to both know you and believe you and so be transformed to be like you in the world, living like you would the very life in front of me.

QUESTIONS to consider:
1. What are some of the "gaps" between what you and know and what you actually believe and live?
2. Why would truly knowing and believing God's love for you change everything?
3. What's one thing that knowing and believing God's love for you could change 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, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 

**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 gaps between knowing and believing + 1 John 4:16 Coloring Page in English and Spanish


"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.
(Hosea 11:4 ESV)

sometimes I feel
I'm coming loose
barely clinging to You
a little too much
distraction
immaturity
or plain exhaustion
poor in spirit
small of faith
in courage, a mewling kitten
beset by fears
vulnerable to snake whispers

are the ties that bind us only as tight
as the limp amateur knots I tie?
irresistible grace
now de-magnetized?

no, these bands of love
strong as your will
cords of kindness
strong as death
and raised up life
keep me in grateful bondage
my will to yours
my mustard seed faith
enough

"For I am sure that 
neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor rulers, 
nor things present nor things to come, 
nor powers, 
nor height nor depth, 
nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God 
in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
Romans 8:38-39 ESV


You can get your screensaver (inspired by the above verses and poem) by clicking on the image below and saving to your device.

But before you go . . .

Let's play a little Q & A this month
For this month's "From the Mind of Mary" newsletter (a fun little letter for my subscribers where I share things I'm reading or learning), I'd like to do a little "Q & A with the Artist." Send me your questions (serious or fun, silly or deep, artsy or not) and I'll do my best to answer them! You can comment here or reply to mary@marydeandraws.com. Sign up HERE if you're not on the mailing list!




*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, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 



               

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


Bands of love Screensaver + a poem



Do you celebrate Lent with your church family? Our church is Protestant but loosely adopts some of the church calendar, so we celebrate Advent in anticipation of Christmas and Lent in anticipation of, and preparation for, Easter. This year Lent begins on March 6 and ends on April 18.

I thought I'd share a few resources that you might find helpful:

These coloring pages are all found free here on the blog.

I've collected more coloring pages and printables on this Pinterest page.

This printable Lent art journal with readings and space to draw would work for both kids and adults. I like the idea.

My "Good News Story" card set comes with full color cards and black and white coloring pages and walks you through the Gospel story with selected verses from the beginning to Revelation. I think it would work well for Lent. You can get printed cards HERE or the printable file HERE (and just printable coloring pages HERE or the  printed coloring book HERE). The printable version comes in Spanish too. Everything in the shop is 20% off through Friday this week.

How do you celebrate Lent with your family?  Any resources I should add to my list?

*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, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 


               

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


Lent & Easter Resources for your family


Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

I don't know about you, but my heart easily gets out of tune. We've been in a long season of God doing something, but we're not sure what. I don't know when or how it will all end. Sometimes discouragement sets in. Self-pity. Hopelessness. Distraction. Sometimes I want to talk to God; sometimes I blame him for where we're at. Sometimes I'm okay; sometimes I'm not.

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

Yesterday, I was reading Lysa Terkeurst's It's Not Supposed to be This Way,** and I was encouraged. 

She writes, "And while I know in my head that God will somehow, someday turn all this around for good in my life, too, my heart isn't so sure some moments. The intensity of the pain gives me a propensity to doubt."

She suggests in these times when we're wrestling with unbelief that "we just have to make the choice to see Him and rightly attribute to Him the good that does exist. I truly believe what keeps us on the path of longsuffering instead of veering off in the dangerous direction of wallowing is to wake up with great expectation of these little reminders of God's goodness."

Remembering God's goodness is like regularly stopping to drink from a stream as you journey through the desert (Isaiah 43:19). It doesn't take away the desert's hardships, but it sustains you enough to keep going.

So yesterday I chose to count the goodness I could see:
the beautiful faces of my sweet girls
a little four-year-old hug around my thigh
the angled profile of my man
the original oil painting I splurged on last year 
the warm spaghetti dinner the kids helped me make last night
the prayers and encouragement of my dear friend

Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it

Mount of Thy redeeming love

Not much changed externally, but God again tuned my heart to sing his praise and fixed me firmly on his love. 

I'll need to be re-tuned again soon, I'm sure, but today I can keep going.



p.s. If you like this hymn, there's some original art and prints in the shop painted on this beautiful hymn and others as well.

**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!


Tuning my heart

I don't know the season you're facing today. When it's not one thing, it's another, right? Waiting. 
Despairing. Doubting. All the various kinds of suffering possible, and there are many. 

The gospel writers don't skip around this reality: "For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too" (2 Cor. 1:5 ESV).

We may not be able to sort out all the intricacies of God's plans in our suffering, but we do know one clear goal: to be mature and complete, lacking nothing. 
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (Jamess 1:2-4 ESV)
Honestly, I'm not really comfortable with this verse. If you're like me, I want to say: "That's really nice, God, that you want me to be perfect and complete, but I'm pretty happy with who I am and I just want to do cool stuff for you and be really useful in the Kingdom. Isn't that enough?"

Dallas Willard, in The Divine Conspiracy**, wrote something that has been rolling around in my head for a few weeks now. He lays out what it looks like to be an everyday apprentice of Jesus and then he says, "What they [apprentices of Jesus], and God, get out of their lifetime is chiefly the person they become."

The lesson for me in the last few years has been that who I am becoming is way more important to God than what I do. And that's not because His Kingdom and His work are less important than the kingdom of me. It's because my ministry in the church and in the world flows out of the person that I am in Him. That's just how effective ministry works.

The hard, internal work of conforming us to the image of Jesus--not just at the level of our actions, but down deep to the level of our thoughts, our emotions, our will, our reactions--is what God is committed to. It's what yields the spiritual fruit that changes the world and brings Him glory.

Now let's be honest here. Knowing this goal of God's doesn't make trials easier. In some seasons, every second of every day can feel pained. But, when we trust that even in this, that God is good and that He is for us and our good, then we can persevere in hope.

I hope this encourages you today. The screensavers below are to remind you of the good God is doing in you and then through you as you go out and be the person God has and is forming you to be.

You can download them be clicking on the images (one on Spanish and one in English) below and saving 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, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 

**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!


God's goal for you + James 1:4 screensaver in English and Spanish


It's been SO cold here in Virginia this last week, so today I'm dreaming of sun and Spring flowers as I sit under my sun lamp trying to make up for my lack of Vitamin D (and general sense of joy).

Do you remember my first watercolor tutorial (you can find the first it HERE)? Today I had a lot of fun recording a second super simple watercolor tutorial video. There's also a free printable template you can use with it if you want. In the video, I walk you through a pretty Spring bouquet of flowers.

All you'll need are the following:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • (optional) 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!
  • paper + (optional) printed template that you can download HERE. Watercolor paper like this** will hold the paint best, but I'm just using thick sketchbook paper in the video.
  • paper towel for blotting
  • (optional) sun lamp for simulated sunshine

Here's the video tutorial:



You can download the PRINTABLE TEMPLATE HERE or click on the image below.
I hope you have fun creating something that brings you joy today. Tag me in your social media posts or email me a picture of your results!


*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, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 

**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!


Paint with me! Spring floral tutorial + printable template

A few days after Christmas, my daughter put a leftover cinnamon roll in the microwave, set the timer for four minutes, and walked away. A few minutes later, as the cinnamon roll began to char, I hurried down the stairs after smelling smoke, and was shocked to see grey smoke billowing from the microwave. My son started coughing and crying in the next room. My husband rushed the noxious plate outside, and on a frigid 30 degree day, we opened all the windows in the house to let the smoke dissipate.

My daughter was immediately a hysterical mixture of fear and shame. She's particularly afraid of our house burning down, and now she was the one whose mistake had filled it with smoke!

Part of me wanted to chastise her in that moment, out of anger and fear, but part of me knew it could easily have been me who made the mistake. My daughter didn't need condemnation (or even instruction) in that moment; she needed kindness.

That parenting moment got me thinking about how God parents us.

When we sin, out of ignorance, willfulness, weakness, or immaturity, how does God respond in order to help us grow into wisdom, submission to his will, strength, and maturity?

Is His strategy condemnation or kindness? Is he constantly frustrated by our humanness?

The Scriptures paint a picture of a God who pities us. Jesus looks at us and says, "Father, forgive." He remembers that we are dust, that we want to do good, but that our flesh is weak.
See: Luke 23:34; Matthew 26:41; Psalm 103:14; Romans 7:18-19
Pitiful and weak as we are, God doesn't love us begrudgingly; He says that He delights to show us mercy. He draws us to Himself with kindness and compassion, not condemnation. Yes, he certainly convicts of sin (for our healing), but he leads with kindness.
See Hosea 11:3-4; Romans 2:4; Psalm 103:10-13
This is important because what I believe about the heart of God towards me is directly connected to the way I deal with other people.

Because we are all equally reliant on God's pity, writes Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy**, we have no right to condemn another person, and if we think we have that right, that attitude is the very log in the eye that Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7:
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Mat 7:1-5 ESV)
So here's what I'm concluding: Condemnation is not a personal growth strategy.

God doesn't use it. It doesn't work when I use it on myself. It doesn't work when I use it on other people.

I have often believed that if I am hard enough on myself and feel bad enough for my sins, that I will change. 

I have often believed that if I express myself convincingly enough to someone else in their sin, make someone feel bad enough, that person will change. 

What does work, then? Kindness, compassion, mercy, pity. These all reach out and say, "Even though you are weak and flawed, I want to be in relationship with you, and so does God."

God has entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation, not the ministry of condemnation.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2Co 5:17-20 ESV)
Yes, there is a place for godly rebuke and correction (see Galatians 6:1). Yes, let's live wisely and not let people abuse us. And yes, even if I offer kindness and compassion, it may not mean personal growth for anyone but myself--because kindness is not controlling. 

So the next time someone's sin or immaturity or weakness fills your (metaphorical) house with noxious smoke, you have two choices:

1. You can look at the offender and think: How could you do ____? You are such a ____ (insult)? You don't deserve ____ (my love, God's love, affection, relationship, etc). 

or

2. Or, you can look at the offender and think something like this: You don't know what you're doing, and likely this isn't what you want to be doing. Your flesh is weak. I know this because I'm the same. Because God has shown me unlimited and unmerited mercy, I'm going to delight to show you mercy too and not deal with you according to what you deserve. If I dealt with you according to what you deserve, I'd only be asking for what I deserve--and I certainly don't want that.

This way of the God's kingdom isn't natural for me at all yet, but it's opening up a fresh space in my heart where I can breathe in the sweet (smoke-free!) air of God's kingdom. 

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." (Rom 8:1-2 ESV)

Today's printable Bible verse coloring page is from Romans 8:1-2. You can download the printable coloring page in Spanish HERE and in English HERE or by clicking on the images below.



Would you do me a favor? If you found this encouraging or helpful, would you share it with some friends who might be encouraged in God's love for them today? 

PRAYING the Word
I pray that I would first know what it means to be loved by you and fathered by you. Then help me live in that reality as I relate to the people in my life. 

QUESTIONS to consider:
1. Are you surprised by what the Scriptures listed above have to say about how God thinks and feels about you?
2. In what ways have you tried to use condemnation as a growth strategy for yourself?
3. In what ways have you tried to use condemnation as a growth strategy for someone else?
4. What would it look like for you to deal with people as God has dealt with you?


*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, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 

**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 personal growth strategy that always fails + Romans 8:1 Bible coloring page in English and Spanish


Occasionally, Facebook will let me know that a friend has marked his or herself "safe" after an earthquake, a terrorist attack, or a hurricane. 

As we face a new year, can I encourage to mark yourself "safe" in all the ways that matter?

Sometimes I face the new year with a bit of fear. Will God be there as He has been in the past? Sometimes I face it with some cynicism. God, you didn't really fix that thing I've been praying about. Are you even listening?

Last night, one of my girls had some pre-new-year's panic. All of sudden leaving 2018 behind felt like leaving something warm and familiar and she wasn't ready.

I'm in the middle of Dallas Willard's exposition on the sermon on the mount (The Divine Conspiracy**), and in the chapter on Jesus' teaching on anxiety, Willard sums up Jesus' words:

"'We have no reason ever to be anxious.' 'This present world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.'"

Perfectly safe. Really? That seems a bit rosy, don't you think?

The world can seem so scary to me. At any time I could be marked "not safe" on Facebook!

Because I'm a news scroller, I know lots of ways that people and kids die. Then there's global warming and the threat of nuclear war. I've gardened enough to know that my family would not survive some post-apocalyptic nightmare world if we were forced to feed ourselves off the random vegetable I coax out of the dirt.

"'We have no reason ever to be anxious.' 'This present world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.'"

Jesus doesn't tell me not to worry because it's cute and He's naive. He doesn't pipe in with  pious sayings as we pat him on the head and say, "That's nice, Jesus."

No. He's laid out a way for us to build our lives on the rock of His teaching (Matthew 8:24-27). Peace is possible in a walking, working, growing relationship with Him--the one who hold all things together (Colossians 1:17).  

Even in the crazy storms, I mark myself self: 
✔️ saved, not condemned for my sins
✔️ filled with the Holy Spirit
✔️ eternal life starting now and continuing to eternity (i.e. death can't hold me or my loved ones)
✔️ loved and cared for deeply and personally
✔️ called to a purpose--to be like Jesus
✔️ equipped with a way to live (the Word)

My son (who turns four on Monday) has been having bad dreams. The little felt figures we use for our advent calendar popped out and terrorized him in one dream. I took the calendar down after Christmas so he'd stop giving it the evil eye and shuddering every time he passed. As I took out the figure of Mary, he said, "She was the leader." 

super scary Advent calendar
So I pray for my little buddy before he sleeps. I tell him God is close. I tell him God is like a warm, heavy blanket made of sunshine that wraps him up and keeps him safe. And I pray for him to have good dreams. 

And it works--God works.

"Mama, tell me about the warm blanket," he reminded me last night.

Friends, if panic starts to set in, if the weight of all your to-do's or undones burdens you, tell yourself about the warm blanket of God's love for you. Mark yourself safe in Him.

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 8:38-39 ESV)

I made you a phone screensaver to remind you of this truth. You can get it by clicking on the image below and saving 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!!

**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

Marked safe in this new year + a safe phone screensaver