She asked about how to get started in speaking. [Read more…] about What I Told An Aspiring Speaker This Week
(Special thanks to my washing machine for prompting this book review. . .)
As I reached in to grab the wet sheets out of my washer this morning, I quickly realized that more than sheets had been bundled in the load. Not only were tiny bits of paper stuck to the linens, they also dotted the interior of the machine like spit wads.
It reminded me of my days as a middle school teacher- only these were slung into place by centrifugal force.
At first I thought I was finding the remains of a disintegrated receipt or paper towel, but when I pulled out a giant, mushy blob I realized what happened. My new book had been swept into the washer with the sheets.
The shredded, water-soaked casualty? The Wall Around Your Heart by Mary DeMuth
Mary is one of my favorite writers these days. We’ve had “friends of friends” connections for years since we are both represented by Christian Speakers Services and travel in speaker/writer circles.
(Believe me, Mary is light years beyond me in both categories. She is the kind of writer/speaker I aspire to be one day.)
We got to meet in person at The Declare Conference in Dallas back in August. Her words have been so moving to my heart for years that it made me teary eyed to stick out my hand to shake hers. I felt like I was in the presence of greatness.
She was kind enough to pose for a picture with me…
Time is at a premium these days, I am very, very, very selective of where I spend my reading time. I’m picky about my prose. With that said, Mary’s book grabbed me by the heart from the first chapter and I did not want to put it down.
(Although I obviously did put it down- on the bed- in the sheets.)
As I read Mary’s words, I wondered how she knew about some of my recent hurts and what I was struggling with these days. Her words spoke to places in my heart I didn’t even realize were walled up.
More importantly, Mary’s writing was giving me a new way to look at the Lord’s Prayer. Her insights gave me hope for a way of escape through shifting my perspective to a heavenly view of my tough circumstances. The Wall Around Your Heart was helping me focus on what God was doing in my heart (instead of wallowing in what was being done to me by others).
Along with my Bible, The Wall Around Your Heart was the only book I took along on my day of listening in a monastery last month. For me, that says a lot about the impact it was having. (I’ll write about that day in a future post.)
I hadn’t even finished the book when I found it’s remains in the washer this morning, so when saw it’s smushy, crumpled lump of remains, I was sad- but just for a moment.
You see, when Mary introduced the release of The Wall Around Your Heart at The Declare Conference, she very generously gave copies to all the conference attendees. (She’s not just a gifted writer, but a generous one.) I ended up with two copies (Hooray!)
If I didn’t, I would be headed lickedy split to a book store or logging onto Amazon to pick up another copy.
I won’t do that for many books, but this one was doing deep work in my heart- tearing down ugly walls. Because I’m an avid underliner, I was sad to lose all my colorful marks and dog-ears in my first copy of the book. Now, I plan to start over at the beginning and highlight at will.
I’ll also be more careful so that I don’t send this copy of the book through the wash. 🙂
You might want to pick up a copy of The Wall Around Your Heart and read it, too. Maybe it will help you see and pull down some walls that have been built up around your heart as well.
Oh, and just in case you wanted to know, here’s what came out of my lint filter once my sheets passed through the dryer…
Last Saturday, I joined the women of Jersey Village Baptist Church in Houston for a time of sweet fellowship, good food, and encouragement from Scripture at their “Black and White with a Splash of Color!” luncheon. Penny Ward and her team did a fabulous job with the event!
Our theme Scripture was Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
I loved the way each table hostess interpreted the verse visually through her table-scape! It’s a gentle way of reinforcing the Scripture without words. Beginning with basic black and white, every hostess added at least one additional color to her table. Here are two of my favorites:
The Green table with an open Bible turned to the Psalm 90…
Here’s a playful pink table…
But this NEXT picture is the one that stole my heart. If you know me well, you know I have a “thing” for turquoise. (I even have a Pinterest board devoted to turquoise!)
I stopped to take this picture because the sparkly turquoise accents looked so great to me against the black and white on the table. I was focused on the table-scape at the moment I snapped the picture.
But when I got home and looked at my photos, this one took my breath away. Look at it, then I’ll tell you why…
I remembered how they greeted each other by throwing up their arms and saying, “I have not seen you in so long!” and “I’ve missed you!! How are you?” They hugged and hugged, rocking side to side like long lost sisters.
This picture helps me remember why I do what I do.
As much as I love lovely decorated tables- especially ones with sparkly turquoise accents- it’s not about the pretty table-scapes.
As much as I love to travel to new places and paint while I’m teaching from the Bible. It’s not about that.
Seeing women have a few minutes to relax, reengage with Scripture, and reenergize relationships for the race of life is what it’s all about. An opportunity to see and hug a girlfriend you have not seen in forever (as these two women did). A few moments for a girl to stop, take a deep breath, and look at life from a heavenly perspective when the world has her in a choke hold.
That’s what I love about women’s ministry events!
I hear a lot about photobombs these days- where someone gets in the background of your photo (intentionally or by accident) and ruins the picture.
I had to smile when I saw this picture because it was not a photobomb, but a perfect illustration of why I love working in women’s ministry so much.
I’m a lifelong fan of stained glass. I think it’s purty, purty, purty! (That’s my Southern-ese for “pretty.”)These are windows I photographed at the Church of the Anunciation in Nazareth, Israel. There’s nothing like the beauty of light shining through colorful shapes of glass to delight my eyes… and these were exceptionally lovely!
I nearly fell as I was taking the photos because these particular windows grace the stone walls of a circular staircase, but I just had to try to capture their vibrance.
Do you know why the colors in stained glass look so brilliant? It’s because of value contrast- light against dark. The black leading around the glass makes the color stand out (or “POP!” as I like to say) when placed side by side.
Here’s a cool parallel: The darkness of difficult times in our lives, laid along side the light of Christ in us, makes our faith “POP!” as well.
2 Corinthians 4:6 says: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
That means… as He shines in us and through us, we can “POP!” with His light just like these beautiful stained glass windows.
Here’s a true confession: Lots of times I have squealed, “LORD, GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!” the minute that life gets tough.
The beauty of stained glass reminds me to cry out, “LORD, please shine Your light through me- like light through stained glass- during this tough time,” instead.
Sometimes when life feels really heavy and dark, I can forget that it’s His opportunity to shine in and through me. When He does that through me and through you and through the church, collectively it looks beautiful like this…
So the next time you look at some beautiful stained glass, remember it’s a picture of Jesus’ light shining through us into this dark old world. I like that imagery! 🙂
I’ve been as busy as a bee this week, getting ready for my Open House Art Show scheduled for this Saturday, March 16th. I used to hold one every year, but since my sweet Hannah got married five years ago, I have not held an Open House. It’s waaaaaay past time to do so again!
This week I’ve been packaging and pricing paintings and prints, making display signs, figuring out what I’ll do for refreshments, etc. What’s funny is that, on one hand, it’s kind of overwhelming as I look at the stacks and piles of paintings I’ve created and accumulated over the past 5 years, but it’s also exciting.
That’s because taking inventory helps me remember there has been progress. That’s really a good thing to consider— especially on the days when it feels like there has been no progress in my life. Whatsoever.
Do you need to stop and write down an inventory of the progress the LORD has brought about in your life as a– spouse, parent, friend, growing Christian, worker, etc? I encourage you to do it. Maybe it will encourage you to ”press on” in the same way that taking inventory for my Art Show has done for me.
(If you live near Amarillo, I hope you will bring a friend and join me Saturday— 11:30-3:30 in the Lone Star Room of First United Bank, 45th and Soncy, Amarillo, 79109)
PS Funny fact: Did you know the name “Debbie” (Deborah) means “bee” in Hebrew??? (BZZZZZZZZZ)
I was painting the other day (after our recent historic blizzard) and the piece was just not coming together. I finally realized that the problem was me– I was looking at the painting so closely that I had lost all perspective on the big picture.
Like grass buried beneath a blizzard, I was tangled up beneath the weight of all the minute details.That’s when I remembered some wise advice I received from another artist many years ago: When you get stuck, stop and look away from the painting.
There are lots of ways to do this. Leave the room and comeback. Turn the painting face down, wait a while, then come back to it. Prop the painting up on an easel and glance at it as you walk by for a few days.
It always amazes me how looking away at other things can help me renew my perspective on the painting when I finally look back at it again.
If you have a need, a problem, a concern that’s weighing heavy on your heart today, could it be that you need to look away from it for a few moments?
The LORD is so gracious to provide us a place to “look away to” in order to renew our perspective: the Bible. The older I get, I’m finding the Psalms to be a place of great comfort and hope amidst life storms.
Here’s a little prayer that may help you gain a new perspective on your problem today as you look to Psalm 121:
Lord, I’ve been consumed with thinking about _____ lately. It’s been weighing heavy on my heart and overtaking my thoughts. I choose, right now, to look away from _____ and look to You for a new perspective.
I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. –Psalm 121:1-2
Thank you for giving me steady footing as I face___, because I can trust you to be with me 24/7.
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. –Psalm 121-3-4
Thank you for watching over me and providing a protective covering for me and those I love, even in the midst of ___.
The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. —Psalm 121:5-8
Thank you that, even as I face ____, You promise to give me help right when I need it and, as I look to You, You strengthen and encourage me. Amen.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
In April 2011, Psalm 121 is the Scripture the LORD sustained me with the day I sat in front of my computer screen in Amarillo, watching live TV coverage of a tornado as it hit my beloved hometown of Tuscaloosa. It sustained me through the 16 hours when I knew my dad’s nursing home was hit by the storm yet we did not know if he had survived or not. It sustained me when he when to heaven six weeks later.
I hope that whatever life storm you may be facing today it sustains you as well.
When you feel overwhelmed, don’t forget to look away from the problem and look to His word. It reveals the beautiful wisdom of who the LORD is and how we can rest in Him. I can testify to the fact that doing this can give you a whole new perspective when life storms- even blizzards- are bearing down!