Tuesday, December 26, 2017

What a Southern gal learned with two blades strapped to her feet

Lots of fun around here with family and finding time to work on edits for three different book projects, so I needed to pull something from the archives for this week's post. I loved writing this piece about an adventure my daughter and I had.

Growing up in the Deep South as I did, ice-skating seemed the stuff of fairy tales.

The closest we came to it was sliding across the driveway after an ice storm.

But in the 1976 Olympics, Dorothy Hamill perpetuated the fairy tale. In graceful splendor, she sailed across the ice and into our hearts with an Olympic Gold medal in both the short and long programs.

We wanted to spin like Dorothy. We wanted her haircut.

She planted in the heart of a young woman more experienced at swimming than spinning an aspiration to don a glittery costume and perfect an arabesque while gliding across the ice on two blades at twenty miles per hour.

Well, take away the glittery costume, the arabesque, and the twenty miles an hour, but I finally did it.



 Unable to find ice thicker than the skim on the birdbath around here for decades, an ice skating rink finally came  to my town, and I strapped on a pair of blades.

When I first stepped on the ice, I said to my daughter who was with me, “I’ll never get this.”

She turned to me and said, “I felt the same way when I first did it.” She’d ice skated in the city where she attends college and had at least a working knowledge of what to do.

I clutched the rail as I inched my way around the rink. In short order, my daughter struck out on to the ice leaving me trying to avoid the flailing arms and legs of those in front and behind me. Halfway around, I arrived at a few conclusions.

First, this creeping along was not ice-skating.

Second, I was in more danger at the rail than on the ice, with the bladed feet around me splaying in every direction.

Third, I was never going to learn anything white knuckling the rail.

So, contrary to my careful nature, I let go.

Just the blades, the ice, and me. Oh, and the toddlers, the teenagers, and the retirees flying past as if I were standing still.

With every move, I saw myself Dorothy, elegant and agile. I wanted to do tricks—skate backwards, do a triple jump, something. But I suppose my biggest trick was managing to stay upright on the ice without splatting on my hiney.

 I don’t believe in bucket lists, but I do believe in living our whole lives well and for me, putting on those ice skates was a dream come true.

So glad I turned loose of that rail.

Looking towards a new year, I suppose there are other ways that I’m metaphorically holding on to the rail. But I’m looking to let go in those areas as well—to unfurl my fingers and glide into the future with Jesus.

Oswald Chambers said it this way, As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”

Maybe you have white knuckles, too, clutching onto the familiar, holding onto the past, when God is calling you to step out with Him. It’s scary. It’s unpredictable. And it may not be all that safe.

But this southern gal is here to tell you, there’s nothing like it.

Let go that rail and have a blessed New Year!
". . . I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you" (Isaiah 41:13 The Message).


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

With love from our family to yours


I opened the Christmas cards I had picked up from my mailbox at church. My eyes teared as I read them. One bore the shaky signature of a woman who has Parkinson’s and another one the inscription of a man who cares for his memory-impaired wife. How did she manage to sign cards with her physical challenges and how did this caregiver find the time to do this?

With the seasonal time crunch on, I wondered how I would paint a Christmas card as I usually do. But really, the pressure I feel is self imposed. It really doesn’t take that long. Now, I could work on a painting from now until next  year and still find something wrong, but if I could put my perfectionism aside, it really would be okay. I just needed to let go of perfect.

The candle we light this week of Advent is the candle of love. As we share our gifts of love this Christmas, we remember how God gave first.

“For God so loved the world that he gave . . .”  (John 3:16).
 
His gift was perfect and ours will never be that, but even so, we give.

Here’s my imperfect Christmas card to you with much love from our family to yours.

May your Christmas be especially blessed.

 


Here’s an author interview with me relating to my new novel, The Key to Everything, which I have under contract with Anaiah Press.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Finding Joy



My first child, Aaron, was born just after Christmas. The night
before his scheduled induced labor, I felt an almost euphoria, I had so much joy in my heart. I was going to get a baby the next day―a baby that I could take home with me. What an incredible Christmas gift.

It seemed almost too good to be true.

After a long labor, it was actually two days later, but I carried that little fellow home and had a birthday party for him every Tuesday for a yearat least a birthday party in my heart.

This Sunday at our church, we will light the candle of joy on our Advent wreath.

One night to a village of what some think may have been less than 300 people, God sent the Savior of the world wrapped in the fragile trappings of humanity. That tiny bundle came bearing a gift for all mankindHis work on earth making a way for us through faith in Him to know joy eternal.

The angels’ said to the shepherds, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Though I experienced an incredible level of joy on the arrival of my son, how much greater is the joy Jesus came to give us. In fact, that word used by the angels, great,  in the Greek means exceedingly, greatest, and mighty. Exceeding joy. Greatest joy. Mighty joy.

Some of you may have recently lost someone close to you or maybe you're giving care to an aging parent. Perhaps your financial situation is looking dire, or you are dealing with serious health issues. This time of year can be especially difficult when you're already dealing with hard things, but dear friends, no matter what is happening in your life today, may you not miss what God has for you as we celebrate the birth of our Messiah. Forget the Norman Rockwell picture and embrace the joy in this moment no matter how frayed your life may seem. You are loved with an exquisite love, and He came to give you GREAT joy.
 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Sanctuary


My face had been in front of a computer screen for hours doing book edits, then I scrambled trying to pull together what I needed for a children’s play practice. I wanted to get to church early to turn on the heat and lights in the sanctuary.

I arrive feeling brain weary and frazzled. When I push open the sanctuary door, I expect a blast of cold air. Instead, warmth envelops my chilled body. Some wonderful soul had come early to turn up the heat. I had not been able to participate in the hanging of the greens this year, so when I flip the lights, the Chrismon tree seems especially lovely (These are my all time favorite kind of Chrismons, which are ornaments with Christian symbols).
 


 

I take a moment and sit in the quiet peace.

Sanctuary.

I breathe deeply and let rest come over my scattered life.

I close my eyes and relish this place apart.

The Merriam-Webster definition of sanctuary is “a place of refuge and protection.” It originally comes from the Latin, sanctus, which means holy.

A holy place, that’s what I found that evening.

But more than a place, sanctuary is a Person.

God refers to himself metaphorically as the sanctuary.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says . . . I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone” (Ezekiel 11:16).

God reminds me that I may find that Holy quiet place in Him. Any time. Any day. Anywhere I go.

During this busy time of year, what a comfort to know sanctuary is available to us 24/7.

In an Advent guide I use, the designated meaning of the candle we light this week is peace.

Friends,  let us together find sanctuary, that place of peace and comfort in His presence remembering that the one whose birthday we celebrate was himself called the Prince of Peace.



If you're looking for a Christmas gift, Grace Publishing has just released an anthology called Merry
Christmas Moments. I have an article in it entitled, "Sharing the Gospel from my Exploding Closet." Authors receive no royalties from this collection. Instead, proceeds go to Samaritan's Purse. HERE if you'd like to order.
In my Etsy store, One Ringing Bell at Christmas, a collection of Christmas posts from One Ringing Bell.  HERE to order from Beverly Varnado Art.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Someone to watch over you


 
“Watch for me,” my then ten-year-old sister, Tammy, said as she headed out to the basement of our childhood home to retrieve some now forgotten item.

Our basement access was from the outside, and after the sun set, the walk to it seemed especially dark.

I would move to my bedroom window, tracing her trek, waiting for her to make the trip back safely inside. She would do the same for me when I had to make the journey. Just knowing someone else saw comforted us.

“Watch for me.” Those words echo in my mind. We all have a need for someone to watch over us. That need goes to the very core of who we are.
 
The Psalmist wrote, "He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand . . . " (Psalm 121:3-5).

Even one of the names of God, El Roi, means “The God who sees” (Genesis 16:13).

It’s so good to know God doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel, is so close we may sense his shadow upon us and that watcher is even an element of His identity—who He is.
 
We will light the first candle on our Advent wreath this Sunday―the candle of hope. Over 2000 years ago in a crude stable, a baby’s cry pierced the night and split history, because God wanted to provide a way for us to escape our darkness―watching over us to give us hope and life eternal.

Since our childhood days, my sister and I have watched over each other during many other kinds of dark times like losing our parents and illness.

But more importantly, we both know God watches over us.

And friends, He watches over you, too. This year, may the celebration of His coming be especially meaningful to you.



If you're looking for a Christmas gift, Grace Publishing has just released an anthology called Merry Christmas Moments. I have an article in it entitled, "Sharing the Gospel from my Exploding Closet." Authors receive no royalties from this collection. Instead, proceeds go to Samaritan's Purse. HERE if you'd like to order.
In my Etsy store, One Ringing Bell at Christmas, a collection of Christmas posts from One Ringing Bell.  HERE to order from Beverly Varnado Art.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Dog Tribute, Dog Tags, and Gratitude


During the halftime show at the University of Georgia/Kentucky game, as the Redcoat band paid tribute to our veterans and stood in a formation that spelled USA, tears began to well in my eyes.



Notice that row of military vets standing in front of them.



When extraordinary tenor Timothy Miller sang Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” the tears spilled.
 
 

As the UGA Bulldogs paid tribute to vets everywhere, I thought of my dad’s dog tags in a crystal bowl beside my bed and gave thanks for a dad who served his country. When Veterans were asked to stand while their service song played, I clapped extra loud for the Air Force vetsmy dad’s branch of service.

In a couple of days, we will come together as a family and once more experience that empty seat at the table. Perhaps, in your family gathering, you are facing a similar situation. But instead of focusing on that empty seat, we’ll try to remember and be grateful for the legacy left to us, not only by family members but so many others who sacrificed and gave.

A hymn of Dutch origin that we often sing around this time of year , “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing,” was written in an oppressive time when Protestants were forbidden to gather. So, being able to assemble to give thanks is in itself a great privilege.

So, dear readers, as you gather together to ask the Lord's blessing with your family, here’s praying your Thanksgiving is blessed. Please know I especially give thanks for all of you.

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5).

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Some more good news, and what a key, grief, and a random meeting have to do with it


It’s what many might call a coincidence. However, I know better.

One evening as I walked back to my hotel room after a meeting at the Blue Ridge Mountain Conference in May, I struck up a conversation with another writer.

“What do you write?” I asked. It was the first question usually asked at writers’ conferences.

She had just had a historical fiction novel accepted for publication by a small press in Florida.

“Tell me more.”

She seemed pleased with the process with this publisher and when I returned home from the conference, I kept thinking about that conversation. I also kept thinking about a novel I had writtenone I had felt some urgency to finish, and typed the last words of the last chapter on a June afternoon two years ago. My dad had a stroke hours later, went into a sharp decline, and died that July. In the months that followed grief at times seemed almost to overwhelm me. It felt as if I would never write another book, that creatively the well had run dry. But I could edit and rewrite, so I worked on that novel manuscript.

Then, because of inspiration from other writers, I had a new idea for a nonfiction book, so I put the novel aside.

After the Blue Ridge conference, I submitted the nonfiction manuscript for consideration and as I’ve already written HERE, was offered a contract two months ago for Faith in the Fashion District.

Because of that conversation with the historical fiction author at the conference, I also submitted the fiction manuscript to the press my fellow writer had mentioned.

After a couple of months of waiting, a week ago, they offered me a contract.

The working title for the book is called, The Key to Everything.


 
Now, I have two books releasing in 2018. Two contracts in sixty days. Crazy. At least for me.

I am grateful, because I know plenty of writers who have worked just as hard and who are good at what they do, but are still waiting. I am humbled by what seems this almost incomprehensible grace God has extended to me.

God has also brought to mind those verses in Psalm 126:5-6, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

That year after my dad’s death was one of weeping, but somehow, God has brought joy from it, and hopefully more joy to come.

Writing can be like running a very long race in which you cannot see the finish line. Sometimes I’ve wondered if there even was a finish line. Now, I am so thankful I didn’t give in to discouragement that often hounded me.

If God has led you to writing or something else, be encouraged. I’m here to tell you, that even out of times of sorrow, God is spinning His good plans.

 


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Getting through the Night

I pulled Eugenia Price’s book, Getting Through the Night, from my book shelf and opened its coverpage after dog-eared page of this book is covered with ink underlines. Well loved and well used. I reflected on the timing of this book being brought to mind given current events.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame, where four writers were inducted into the prestigious group, one of them posthumouslya favorite of mineEugenia Price.

On one of two shelves in my bookcase dedicated to those writers who have especially inspired me, her books occupy almost a third of a shelf.
 

 
Many in Georgia know her for her historical fiction, the St. Simons Trilogy, the Georgia Trilogy, and the Savannah Quartet.
But I have always loved her nonfiction, excited to find vintage signed copies. Yesterday, I was honored to meet her niece.

As I opened Getting Through the Night, my heart was heavy thinking about the tragedy in Texas where folks gathered in a small country church on Sunday morning to worship. As they perhaps leafed through a hymnal, read their Bible, or were in prayer, the heart of evil entered their sacred space.

Price begins her book on grief with that familiar scripture from Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

When we see these horrific images from Texas and see even veteran newscasters struggle to keep their composure, we wonder how anyone could ever get to joy. How would all these grieving people, a whole town of them, a whole state of them, and well, maybe even a whole country of them get through the nighta night that might seem to have no end?

Price writes, “God does promise that your night of weeping can end. He does not promise that you will be unscarred as though you had never loved; he does not promise that you will ever stop missing or even hurting.”

But, she challenges us with this thought, “Because of his dreams and plans for us, we can be whole again.”

Whole seems elusive in a situation like this, but we take comfort that it is God’s longing for us. He has not given up on our healing and consolation. He has not abandoned us to the evil.

Of course, the ever present why it all happened is with us.

Price, too, loved the writings of C.S. Lewis and wrote, ”We, in our agony, struggle to pull God down to where we are and force Him to explain that which cannot be explained. C.S. Lewis wrote: ‘Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? . . . All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we askhalf our theological and metaphysical problemsare like that.’”

The why of it all probably falls into categories like these, unanswerable this side of heaven.

It is true the night may drag on, but one distant day, there will be joy because God has promised it. In the mean time, we stand with our friends in Texas. Grieving, praying, and crying with you.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My neighbor, Betty


When my neighbor Betty invited us to go swimming in her pool for the first time, we were a little unprepared for our experience. We opened the gate and were greeted by a swarm of kids also enjoying her invitation. My then eight-year-old son said, “I thought you said this was a private pool.” From his perspective, it didn’t look any different from the pool at the YMCA.

That’s Betty.

The absolute definition of hospitality.

She doesn’t just tolerate all those kids high on popsicles―she finds them blessings

As far as entertaining angels unaware, she has probably done it. I imagine if Betty had an angel or two slip into her backyard, she wouldn’t have noticed them in the crowd.

All Betty does is her way of serving Jesus. Eightyish now, she hasn’t bought into the conventional wisdom that says, hey, I’ve done my part, now let somebody else step in. She has no sense of entitlement because of her age. Instead, she still serves and teaches children in her church every Sunday. They love her as much as ever.

My granddaughter observed that Betty is always thinking of what she can do for other people. If you’re around her for any length of time, you see that.

She continues to decorate her home at Christmas in such a way that it seems like a wonderland making you want to linger in the wonderful sights and smells. She blesses others by making and giving away her lovely gingerbread houses or some other handcrafted item.

Betty inspires me in so many ways.

In a few situations in my life, I have been tempted to think I’m finished. But I think about Betty’s perseverance―how she doesn’t waver from what she sees as her calling, how she lives out the truth that we’re never done until we see Jesus. Because no matter what age we are, God wants to use us for His purposes.
 
She inspires me with how she takes on projects and sees them through exemplifying Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might."

I love that woman. She is a rare person in this world. I’m mighty glad and thankful she’s my neighbor.

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2 ).

“ . . . God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable: (Romans 11:29).

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

An explosion and the joy that comes from it


We’re going to have a big explosion around here this week. I’m opening the door to my front bedroom closet, which is so full, items are likely to shoot into the air. My sister, Tammy, and I are getting together  to put together our Operation Christmas Child boxes for Samaritan’s Purse. We’re hoping to prepare twenty-five boxes again this year. From that closet, I’m dragging bag after bag of school supplies, toys, and hygiene items to my dining room so we can assemble the boxes. It’s going to be a mess in there for several days.



In a wonderful turn of events, when I attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference earlier this year, I was asked to write a piece about the boxes we do for a new Christmas Moments anthology Grace Publishing is producing called Merry Christmas Moments. I will receive no royalties for this book, as all proceeds are donated to Samaritan’s Purse. This book is one in a series of Christmas Moments collections Grace Publishing has produced in the last few years.

My article in Merry Christmas Moments is called, "Sharing the Gospel from my Exploding Closet." You can guess why. According to the Operation Christmas Child Website, “After receiving a shoebox gift, children have opportunity to enroll in The Greatest Journey Bible student course guiding them to what it means to faithfully follow Christ.” These boxes will bring joy to children in more than 100 countries around the world as they learn about God's love for them.

The boxes are quite an undertaking, but I love doing them. As I’ve written before, the way we are able to pack so many boxes is we shop all year at seasonal sales. My friend Dolly inspired me to do this. I don’t know how many boxes she packs, I’m sure in the hundreds, but she has turned her garage into Operation Christmas Child central and works on the boxes all year.
 
So, get out there and pack your Operation Christmas Child boxes. You may not have shopped all year, but you can still do a few. Samaritan’s Purse has drop off locations all over the country. HERE is a link for them  and HERE is a link to the items needed for the boxes.
 
If you were wondering what to get your friends and family for Christmas, Merry Christmas Moments would make a great gift. The book releases in November, and I’ll keep you posted when it’s available. It’s always great when you can give a great gift and help others at the same time.
 
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations" (Matt. 28:18-20).

If you're looking for a Christmas gift, Grace Publishing has just released an anthology called Merry Christmas Moments. I have an article in it entitled, "Sharing the Gospel from my Exploding Closet." Authors receive no royalties from this collection. Instead, proceeds go to Samaritan's Purse. HERE if you'd like to order.

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

People doing impossible things . . . and maybe you’re one of them


I stared at the television trying to process what an announcer had said about the contestant on a television talent showtwo things that didn’t compute.

Mandy Harvey was going to sing, and she was deaf.

She stood on stage with bare feet and delivered her song in perfect pitch. She sang barefooted so she could feel the drumbeat.

It seemed impossible but there it was. She went all the way to fourth place in the competition.

Wayne Connell, the founder of Invisible Disabilities, said in an NPR interview, “We’ve created an idea of how people are supposed to look when they’re broken, and so when you don’t fit that imaginary mold, then it’s a trick, or you’re a liaror you’re not really broken, so you shouldn’t be doing certain things.”

Mandy Harvey ignored conventional wisdom and went for it.

Then there’s Victoria Arlen who came back from a four-year vegetative state to become a Paralympics athlete, sports commentator, and celebrity dancer on “Dancing with the Stars” this fall.

She can’t feel her legs.

I’m not sure she even knows how she’s doing what she does. In an E! News interview she said, “I’m feeling good. It’s definitely a shocker to the body, but I can’t feel my legs. I can say that they’re sore, but I don’t really know if they’re sore.”

Again, hard to process.

In Discerning the Voice of God, Priscilla Shirer writes, “. . . God’s plans are frequently different from our own. His plans do not placate our low standards or personal expectations. His agenda far exceeds our tiny, myopic, narrow perspectives, requiring things of us that His Spirit must strengthen us to accomplish. Carrying the cross He gives us requires a grit and tenacity we may not have intended to exercise.”

This means that the usual excuses, which we have tried to appease ourselves with in the past are not going to flytoo afraid, not enough money, not enough talent, don’t have the time, too hard, takes too long.

Enough already. If one young woman can sing without hearing and another one dance without feeling her legs, with God’s spirit empowering us, we can do whatever He asks us to do. I’m sounding all-bold right now, but the truth is, that first excuse about being afraid is the one that haunts me. I feel as if I live constantly challenged with my own version of impossible with the blank page or blank canvas almost seeming mocking at times. In fact, before I started oil painting, I had a blank canvas that actually became mildewed before I ever attempted to put anything on it. What may seem easy to others is actually so very hard to me and something I can only do with God’s empowerment. I remind myself, “For  with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke1:37).

After I finished writing today’s post, I came across this quote from Richard and Henry Blackaby in our Discerning the Voice of God study, “Human reasoning instructs you to know your limitations and live within them. God says he will do the impossible through you.”

And there you have it.

So, if you need inspiration to face your version of impossible, watch the videos below.

You’re going to need tissues.

Mandy Harvey (click on blog title to go to site if video will not load).

 

And HERE you see the reason behind her overcoming life as she sings "It Is Well."

Victoria Arlen HERE in Dancing with the Stars debut.

And HERE is an interview with Victoria on James Robison. She, too, is a woman of faith.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Out of a mildewy mess, looking for a new thing


I moved a table in my office while prepping to paint the walls and pulled out a portfolio behind it. In it, I stored watercolor paintings and drawings, some large, which I had done since college. When I opened the flap, the scent of mildew wafted out. 

My heart sank. We had leaks in our roof, and I thought the damage was only in the ceiling—until now.

The portfolio was waterproof. Well, I thought it was waterproof, but unfortunately not waterproof enough.

I found dozens of paintings and drawings watermarked and mildewed, some ruined beyond repair.


 

 
 

I don’t even know how to explain my feelings, maybe shock. I showed Jerry and managed to tell my sister a few days later, but that was it for days. I didn’t want to talk about it.

I had given away many paintings over the years and sold a few, so the ones that remained had a personal connection.

A beaver dam in Colorado where Jerry and I once spent a week.
 
 

A birdhouse at my mother’s (she died in 2001).
 
 

The church where my father attended and my ancestors are buried back to a generation of the revolutionary war. The church burned down not long after I did this painting.
 
 

The bridge where Jerry surrendered his life fully to the Lord.
 
 

The painting I identify with my surrender to the Lord, done just days after the event and especially hard hit.

 

A cradle my daughter played with as a child.

 

On and on. The backs of some of these paintings look even worse. Expensive restoration is out of the question. I've been identifying with what it might be to suffer a flood, all those folks coming through Irma and Harvey who saw everything they owned swept away. It's not that I need anything else to hang on my walls, no problems there, but these were precious because of what they represented.

I didn’t even know how to start processing this, but I’ve continued to take it to the Lord in prayer. A message in Isaiah which is repeated in Revelation keeps coming to mind.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

The Message puts it this way, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out. Don’t you see it?”

In John’s account of the New Heaven and the New Earth in Revelation 21:5, we read, “Behold, I am making everything new.”

In some ways, God has already done a new thing creatively, as I have mostly been painting in oil for the last couple of years.

Sometimes, we can cling too much to even good things, and God wants to revolutionize our lives. I don’t know what that could mean for me, but I’m trying to be alert and present.

A few days ago, I took the paintings, about forty of them, and began doing the previously unthinkable. I started carving away the damaged parts to see if I could still have a composition that made sense. For a few of them this worked, others I’m going to have to live with the damage. Still, others were unsalvageable, so I cut out the small-undamaged parts and will maybe make a collage of them.

The larger application here is a truth I was reminded of at vacation Bible school a few months ago― “When sin messes everything up. God is still in control.”

Nothing else in my office was damaged but these paintings. I don’t understand fully, but I realize I’ve got to let this go and not keep going over it. Though the mildew got a shot in (I'm sure mildew was one of the results of the fall of man), God is still in control.

There are other things in my life that also seem irreparable, but again, God is still in control.

And He is doing something new.

He has my attention
 

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