Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Two Themes of My Current Quiet Times (Related?)

First of all, a completed watercolor art piece serves as my “cue” to write a blog post. Thoughts that have been swirling in my head begin to come to a focal point as I finish a watercolor and think about sharing it. Usually, as is the case today, the painting and the “thoughts in my head” are not related topically. 

A finished painting that I want to share on my blog is my prompt to also share some thoughts. Again, usually not related.

Today’s art work, however, IS related to today’s weather, coincidentally. Here in the PNW, we rarely get ANY snow, and even more rarely do we got an accumulation. It has been snowing all day today, and we may even get six inches of accumulation. While my family in Missouri is pretty much DONE with snow for this winter, I am NOT tired of it and am really enjoying it. 

The artwork for today is a Fox in Snow.

As I said, the finished artwork which prompted me to post is not really relative to the THOUGHTS on my mind. 

Sometimes it’s strange how several “elements” all point to the same topic, appearing to happen quite coincidentally.

As I wrote about in my last post, one of the current themes in my quiet times has been that Gratitude Brings Joy. Simultaneously, I am always interested in devotionals and books about stress and worry, as that is the area where I need the most spiritual discipline.

I am seeing that there is definitely a relationship between experiencing Joy that comes through Gratitude, with a resulting by-product of being able to more effectively deal with stress and worry.

So I came across a Bible study (in the Bible app) called “Breath as Prayer.” I was so taken by the devotional that I ordered the corresponding book (author Jennifer Tucker, Foreword by Ann Voskamp).

“The science of breathing and the practice of praying God’s Word can work hand-in-hand to help calm your body and reorient your mind toward Christ.”

In the Foreword, Ann Voskamp says, “…the real purpose of prayer is not about convincing God to do what we want but about awakening to what Gods already is doing and doing that redemptive work with Him. Prayer is the subversive work that defies the lie that all that is happening is just what we see but trusts that underneath, and through everything, God’s revolutionary and redeeming work is still victoriously happening.”

The first Breath as Prayer that I learned in the Bible app devotional:

Another example:

So, I like this combination of deep breathing and praying God’s Word.

Today after finishing the fox painting, I have been baking Honey Oatmeal bread and organizing a large basket full of books-in-progress, Bible studies-in-progress, prayer journals, other journals.

As I’m putting in bookmarks and trying to re-stack things in such a way that I will be able to actually finish a few of these in-progress things, I can’t help but take note of the fact that I’m seeing things on my two themes:

In my “All God’s Creatures: Daily Devotions for Animal Lovers,” the devotional for today closes with this prayer: “Father, thank You that all creation declares Your glory. Help me remember that worrying is not part of Your plan for my life. Amen.” (Well, I suppose the fox painting does somewhat fit here—All God’s Creatures, just sayin’.)

In my “As Long as I Have Breath: Serving God with Purpose in the Later Years” devotional, today’s topic is “Addressing Anxiety” and one of the suggested practices is “Keep a list of all you’re thankful for.” (See previous blog post.)

One of the printouts I pulled out of a journal to add to a “stack” has this quote that I just saw: “Willful worry amounts to rejection of God’s character and damages our capacity for the life he calls us to. It is rooted in a theological misunderstanding of who God is, the nature of life in this world and our place in the universe.

And I’ve just noticed that one of the books in my stack that I have not yet even opened (gift from my daughter-in-law) is “Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy,” by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Seriously?!

As I’m trying to organize, in a markedly DISorganized manner, these reminders of how Gratitude Brings Joy and how Breath as Prayer helps with stress and worry, and how that all of this is, yes, in fact, related—I love how God brings things together sometimes!

#GratitudeBringsJoy #BreathasPrayer #watercolorfoxinsnow #GodisSovereign

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Gratitude Brings Joy

Periodically I look for Bible Studies on the topic of Joy. Christ- following, self-diagnosed “worriers” like myself need reminders of how we should be living, and exhibiting, a joyful life.

So today I started another Bible study on the topic of Joy, and I copied the first day’s devotion into my journal. I share it here. It’s good.

From my journal today, From Roxanne Parks Bible study, “The Transforming Power of a Grateful Heart”

(Note: All italicized words are quoted from Roxanne.)

My Journal of Gratitude

Depression and anxiety are suffocating emotions. During a particularly difficult season in my life, I fought back the onslaught of both. To name a few of the issues: my teens were lying, my parents were dying, we were dog broke, and I was dealing with too many menopausal issues to count. I was spinning plates as fast as I could, and yet there was no peace on the horizon. Life felt extremely heavy! The burdens I carried were weighing me down into a miserable pit. But as a Christian, I even piled shame on myself for feeling this way. Wasn’t I supposed to be living an abundant life? BUT GOD! He graciously intervened.

During that particularly difficult season, I read the book 1000 Gifts by Anne Voskamp. Desperately needing some oxygen for living, and inspired by Anne’s story, I started journaling everything that I could possibly be grateful for. I asked God to open my eyes to even the smallest gift . . . like a knuckle to help wrap my finger around my coffee cup, like heating and air conditioning, like toilet paper, like fresh air. This daily exercise didn’t lift me out of my pit immediately, but it started a rich journey toward a new type of wholeness—a wholeness birthed through the lens of a grateful heart. 

As I continue to diligently open my eyes and my heart to all the gifts in my life, I began to recognize them everywhere. It was like there was a whole new world to appreciate that I hadn’t taken the time to see or made the choice to notice.

Across weeks of writing down and” naming” these gifts, a light-heartedness developed even amidst the trials of each day. My grateful heart slowly pushed out the weightiness of my days. I began to realize that a grateful heart and an anxious heart could not simultaneously reside in the same person at the same time. It was either anxiety or gratitude taking up the space of my heart.  I became excited to venture into each new day with new eyes to see new gifts. Depression gave way to a gratitude, and gratitude became my best antidepressant. Not just a “one and done” type gratitude, but a consistent diligent gratitude that almost refused to be sucked back into that pit of despair again. My life was too precious to live that way.

I flew through 1,000 gifts within months and decided that this was a new way of life. A grateful heart had transformed my days. Even more exciting, my grateful heart began to permeate my home and my family. So many things began to change when I changed my heart. This is a battle ground worth fighting on. I celebrated this new life-giving habit. I found that there is transforming power in a grateful heart.


Ponder the tension between your gratitude and depression, between joy and sadness. How can you make deliberate choices to open your eyes and journal all the gifts you have been given?


Lord, help me constantly and daily choose to see Your gifts everywhere. Open my eyes to gratitude and the choice to give You thanks in all things.


*So, I have read the book by Anne Voskamp. At one time I started listing hundreds of things, small and large, to be thankful for. It was a good thing to do.

I’m deciding to do that again, with the desired outcome of increasing my joy. 

Some days I will only list one thing. Other days, several things.

I need to develop an attitude of gratitude and learn to be aware of all the thousands of things that I have to be grateful for--big things, small things. 


Today I am thankful for the awareness that I am “back on track” with my favorite hobby, watercolor art. It has been a bit of a challenge, after taking a break through November and December. I am now able to move forward, and although I always know that I need to improve--a lot--I do allow myself to enjoy feeling good about a piece that I have completed.

Yesterday and today I was able to follow along with a tutorial by Louise de Masi to complete this sweet little giraffe. 

So, I’m thankful for this today.

#gratitudebringsjoy #attitudeofgratitude #keepajournal #joy #gratitude #watercolorpractice #watercolorgiraffe

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Two Paintings and an Encouraging Word

Having a bit of a hard time getting back into the comfortable feel of painting where I was before the long break over the holidays. I am not particularly proud of either of these two pieces, but I share them in the interest of being accountable. 

This is one of my favorite verses. I have likely posted it before (and will again). It feels like a promise to me. If it’s not a literal promise, I can for sure say that it is encouraging to me. 

The righteous thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they thrive in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green, to declare, “The Lord is just; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.””

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭92:12-15‬ ‭CSB‬‬

#watercolorpainting #watercolorpuppy #watercolorapple #encouragingwordaboutoldage