Do you ever wish you had a personal mentor that sat you down with your Bible once a day and told you what to study, how to pray, and why different verses are important? When I became a mom, my daily devotions grew disorganized. I couldn't count on a set time to open God's word. Often, when I made it to that precious devotion time, my mind and heart were too weary for deep lessons. I missed the accountability of Bible study groups but my new life allowed little room for those things anymore.
God heard and answered my weary plea to still connect with Him. He taught me that quantity was not as important as quality. He taught me to find my focus by writing out my prayers to him. He showed me that a single memorized verse can carry me through dozens of anxious moments and that the lessons taught in the Bible are accessible even if I only had a few moments.
When Expressive Heart Devotions was created, I hoped it would encourage others to have a deep connection with our loving Heavenly Father as we study His word, memorize scripture, meditate and pray. Below I worked through one of the sets in the book to give an idea of what you can do with these pages.
By the way, I treated all my pages with Gesso so that I could use paints, markers, etc without the colors bleeding into the pages.
I opened up to page 17 and stared at the words "No Longer Lost". The thought sends chills up my spine. I was lost, but now am found. Eager, I opened up my Bible and read through the ten verses that come with the key scripture, Luke 19:10. After reading the passage my mind fills with thoughts, questions, and hope. God is seeking and has searched me out. He did not allow me to be lost. In the margin I draw the tree Zacchaeus climbed up and hid in so he could glimpse his Savior. Zacchaeus was never to be lost again.
Then I decided it was time to let myself be bold. I let perfectionism fly out the window as I scribbled on the page the most difficult or ugly parts of my past and present. I drew out my neediness, my greediness, my untamed tongue—everything I could think about that reminded me of what I haven’t given over to be redeemed. As each one was splashed onto paper, I prayed to God about taking it and battling those things away.
I settled into deep relaxation as I grabbed my gel pens and water colors. I used watercolor pencils on the sea and gel pens for the rocks. In my mind I memorized and memorized the words of this scripture. They are now mine forever to turn to whenever I am feeling lost.
Sipping spiced apple tea, the last page filled my heart with joy. In my mind I could see myself sitting before my Heavenly father and pouring out to Him all my fears and desires. Often, when I try to pray, my mind gets sidetracked and I daydream. Writing out my prayers helps me focus on God. Plus, it always amazes me to read them out later and remember the how I felt in those moments.
I would love to see images and hear about others' Expressive Heart Devotions experience. May you each be having a very blessed and beautiful day.
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
by Linette Rainville
God gave, I discovered. God inspired, I developed. For a span of 15 years I was an on-fire songwriter. God gave me lyrics and melodies faster than I could capture them. It was amazingly wonderful. This experience was a treasure to my soul. As I wrote, I was being changed. God impressed that the gift was never mine to keep, but that it was always meant to be given away. As I deployed this gift at church, retreats, and coffeehouses, lives were touched and hearts were healed. It was a blessing to be a vessel God could use.
One day, everything changed. My arms were heavy, my fingers hurt, and my voice became weak. What was happening to me? It would be seven very, very (did I say VERY?) long, years of medical rollercoaster rides before I found out the name of this thing launching an all out attack on my body. The diagnosis, Mitochondrial Myopathy. Praise God, with prayer, good doctoring, and much wisdom, I am stronger today. I have learned to live in something called a “new normal”. Every day, I wake up and thank God for HIS STRENGTH in my body and seek His wisdom on how to use this precious commodity called energy. God is still in the healing business. He is always working behind the scenes, even when we can’t see Him.
Little did I know, how those years of being broken in body, were bringing strength to me in spirit. All of it had prepared me to stand strong through a storm that was yet to come. Funny thing about tragic storms. You see them hit other families, but you never think it can happen to yours…until it does. My tsunami hit the day I was informed… “I don’t love you anymore”. The man I knew and trusted as my husband for nearly 30 years chose to walk away from our family, our church, and the ministry we had built. I looked, but found no guide book entitled, “How To Survive Divorce…as a Minister”. More and more I’m feeling like, just maybe, I should write one. I have gone through this fire, and survived. I am stronger, more confident of who I am, and have discovered many other “unexpected gifts” waiting for me under the rubble. Friends, our precious Papa God is always in the process of restoring, rebuilding, and remaking BEAUTIFUL DAYS.
This heart that once felt like a hemorrhaging mess, is now beating strong.
Instead of asking God, “Who am I?”
I praise God for “Who I am!”
It’s no longer about where I WANT to go…
but where GOD WANTS to take me.
I have learned to let go of the good,
So I could grasp onto the BEST!
What about you? Have you ever found yourself asking, WHY? What now Lord? Where do I go from here? God never wastes our pain. He is able to use it for good, if we let Him. Even through the pain, our purpose still exists.
“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for you …You are loved !”
Under all the clutter and debris from our life-storms, there are many unexpected gifts for us to discover!
Pray with me
“ Dear God, Even this? I don’t know how this pain will ever be used for good, but I’m willing to learn. Show me how to use my unexpected gifts to make a difference somewhere, to someone else who desperately needs a BEAUTIFUL DAY!” Thank you for loving me, and letting me know you still have a purpose for my life.
Linette Rainville is the Founder and CEO of Fellowship Hill Ministries Inc, based in Upstate NY. She is a co-traveler of life’s hills and valleys, bringing 20+ years experience as an Outreach Chaplain. Linette is a U.S. Navy Corpsman Veteran, CLASS (Christian Leaders and Speakers Services) Alumni, Certified Personality Trainer, and a member of the National Chaplain’s Association. She is a nationally known Speaker, Devotional Author, and Worship Artist with a mission to help others Discover, Develop, and Deploy God’s purpose in their lives. She spends her life, giving God’s love away and inspires others to:
"DO what you can, right WHERE you are, with WHAT you have!" ~Linette Rainville
You can find more #hearthealingwords from Linette at www.VesselsofPurpose.blogspot.com and #OnPurpose2017
Remember that beautiful scene in Sound of Music when the Captain sings Edelweiss?
Every morning you greet me
Small and white
Clean and bright
You look happy to meet me.
My heart melts each time I watch the father the sing to his growing daughter and my throat closes just a bit at the line "Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow, bloom and grow, forever." It touches me so much because beyond the adversity that Micaela faces, she is forever blooming and growing. She has touched the world as God shows His mercy and power through her.
My little Edelweiss. My Micaela.
Right now that little girl is fast becoming a loud, active, and determined two-year old. She focuses a great deal of her time practicing her vocal skills and trying to do whatever she can on her feet. There is so much more going on in her brain than even I have realized.
A few days ago we were visiting family. It is definitely hard keeping tabs on Micaela when we are in other people's homes. In most ways, Micaela functions at about a 12 month-old level (crawling, babbling, and playing with basic toys.) That day I found her crawling around with a candy wrapper clenched in one hand.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I have been talking to Micaela like a baby. It is hard not to. I tell her basic things and repeat labels for people and objects. I'm desperate to hear those first words. But this day I "slipped" and told her exactly what I would have said to Adela. I said, "Micaela, that isn't a toy. That is a candy wrapper. That is trash. Could you please put it in the trash?"
Micaela's dimples popped out on her cheeks and she crawled over to the trash bin and threw the wrapper away.
All I could think was, "What? What just happened? Was that real?"
And those thoughts were quickly followed by, "What have I been doing?"
Like I said, it is so hard to know what is going on in that head of hers, but obviously, she knows so much more than what she is able to communicate to us.
It scares me. I hurt for her. How frustrating would it be for any of us to be prevented from communicating with those around us? It definitely contributes to the intense tantrums that we are experiencing these days. Plus, it hurts that I have been holding her back with my low expectations.
Parenting is such a trial for any parent. There are no books written for any specific child. There are no hard and fast rules that will prevent us from making mistakes or hindering our children's growth.
But guess what, children are amazing. Our little blossoms bloom and grow despite adversity and often because of it. I think of what we have went through as a family and the challenges we face everyday, but there are still smiles on my precious daughters' faces.
Soft and white, clean and bright, they look happy to me.
Thank you, God. Stay close to us, please, as we take our children through the journey of growing up. It is your love and mercy that keeps joy in our hearts, both now and forever.
I watched Adela pat in that last piece and give me a sweet grin. The clock showed we had spent half an hour putting together various puzzles while Micaela slept upstairs. I tried not to think about how many other things loomed on my list or how difficult it would be to finish everything later. Instead I smiled back at my four year-old as we started puzzle number seven.
This is what I like to call "Real Time".
We do things for our kids all day long. Even if we are at another job we are working to provide for them. At home we clean their rooms, cook their food, make doctor appointments, settle arguments, kiss bruises, and de-clutter work spaces for coloring and playdough. We are busy constantly doing things for our children.
Real Time is different.
Real Time is when you sit down and play with them. You leave your own agenda behind and engage in their world. You listen to their likes, dislikes, questions, and stories. You make sure your body, mind, and heart are all theirs.
Real Time is powerful. Real Time lets our children of all ages know that we don't just love them, we like them and value them and want to be part of their lives.
Real Time teaches our children how to be good listeners as they observe someone putting down their phone, walking away from the computer, and turning off the TV so they can be completely invested in the time they spend with another person. Even if it is just for five minutes it still holds the beauty of a dedicated parent.
Adela needs this so bad. Micaela gets plenty of Real Time from doctors, therapists, and myself, but Adela often cruises through a day without calling much of anyone's time completely her own. It is one of the reasons she is always so eager to jump in the truck with her Papa and get away with him to cows and sheep and be someone's partner for the day. With Jovani's new job she has less of this special time with her father. The rough spots in her recent behavior is showing me that she misses it.
Real Time: another piece in the puzzle of parenting. My best days, the ones I end with a smile on my face and letting our bedtime routine stretch a bit because I enjoying parenting, those are the days with plenty of Real Time.
Huh. Guess what? We all need Real Time. We need Real Time with our spouse, friends, brothers, sisters, parents, and mentors. It is worth taking off that multitasking hat and setting aside our to-do lists.
When was the last time you enjoyed Real Time with someone special?
I stared at my to do list and tapped my pen. There were two things on it, both a bit time-consuming and totally centered around my self. Besides the normal chores, Micaela's therapy, and Adela's learning, I also needed to set up my fit bit and cook some low-fat menu options to store for my meals. It was going to be huge chunk out of my day. For a long moment I lifted the pen above the two items, ready to cross them off and move them to tomorrow.
Then what? Tomorrow was not going to magically present a few free hours to help me become healthier. But today I felt that the needs of my home and children had to go to the forefront.
Oh, us moms, right? We are so good at un-prioritizing ourselves, aren't we?
What does our God think about that? Do you think He would like to clap us on the back and tell us "Well done. Keep up the good work."? Or, does he watch us scurring around, worrying about putting away those dishes and organizing toys and wish we would trust Him a bit more? The Bible is full of verses and stories reminding us to respect the health of our bodies, hearts, and minds. Check out this collection of 27 Bible Verses about Health from Biblestudytools.com. If God repeatedly mentioned the importance of our health, we need to trust Him to care for the other areas of our lives while we take time to be good to ourselves.
You know, I've seen many solidly amazing men and women whose biggest dreams had to be set aside because of their health. I've seen lives side-swiped by issues that could have been avoided if they had taken care of themselves earlier in life. God has asked each of us to do a great work for Him and we honor Him by keeping ourselves fit mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically so we are equipped to do His will.
We are worth this. There should never be an argument dancing around our heads that tries to argue its way into the logic that our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies have not earned a priority in our lives. A healthy you would be a stronger mother, a more joyful daughter, a more understanding friend, a more peaceful spouse...that list just keeps going.
So, today I want you to know, that you, my dear, are worth it. You are worth a spot on your own list, up near the top, and written in bold ink.
May your blessings abound for your faithfulness.
There is hard work to be done. The endeavor will test my resolve, challenge my strength, and try my courage. God, there are days I don’t feel up to it anymore. I argue that I am not made for such struggles and that the world works against me to prevent my success.
A couple weeks ago I visited my doctor and recieved the report that my cholesterol was now at 330. I don't know why the number shocked me. Genetically my body is predisposed to have high cholesterol. With our move last year to a new house and Micaela's changing needs, I had took a break from consistant exercise and dove into a large bag of shredded cheese. From time to time I hopped on the scale. Since there were no big changes in my weight I assumed my cholesteral levels would be staying level. They didn't.
I'm 31. If I don't learn how to make changes now, I am going to start paying for the bad choices I've been making.
Habits can either be life-saving or life-breaking. It seems like it takes no effort at all to form a bad routine, but making a lasting change costs excruciating effort. Thankfully there are a few things to keep in mind as you embrace your quest and renovate your life.
The task before me is challenging, but I am not alone.
God, You remind me that you are my greatest fan and most ardent supporter. There is work to be done. Labor that you will do with me. I will have courage and I will have strength. I will do the work.
Micaela. Oh, that girl. She is extensively developmentally delayed and we are constantly thankful that she keeps progressing. She has made it through one "normal" stage after another. But the past couple weeks made it official--she is going through the screaming, cling-to-mom, need-to-be-held, angry-about-everything stage.
It is so hard to dredge up a honest smile and sincere exression of tenderness towards your two year-old when she has been latched onto your body for the last five hours and is furious with you everytime you try to move away.
We've been working on setting boundaries with her. We are doing everything we can to help her through this. However, there are days where I barely make it to the girls' bedtime without breaking down in tears.
This morning I woke while the house was still quiet and braced myself for the hours to come. I prayed with a frightened heart. How am I going to get through this? What if like all her other stages, she stays here for months? A year? Oh, my God, how do I get through this?
From the overflow.
I had forgotten. A few months ago at a conference, Bill Gaultiere spoke on emmersing ourselves in the love of our Heavenly Father so that we can give to others from the overflow of our hearts. He told us that our loving God does not wish for us to dig into our reserves and deplete our resources, but to be so full of His Spirit that we can serve others out of the overflow of His goodness.
From the overflow. That is how I will survive this. If I want a heart that can give to both my girls and my husband, a mind ready to solve problems, and a soul that is encased in peace, then I need to fill myself with God's goodness. Daily, hourly, minute-by-minute.
I have no doubt that God has been waiting for me to come to Him. I am constantly in wonder at how abuduntly He blesses when we purposefully walk in His protection. What precious training He has provided to journey closely with Him. Micaela will remind me without failing that I can't do this without my Heavenly Father and that if I want to do it well, I need to be coming to the Father to fill me with His joy, peace, and especially love to make it through this season.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
It was perfectly arrogant the way I started 2014. Was that really 3 years ago? I even set some lofty resolutions for that year. I was going to finish writing my 7th novel, give birth to our second child (I had just found out I was pregnant), move to Russia for my husband's new job, and spend a lot of quality time with my mom as her health failed. That was how I pictured the year before me.
To this day, looking back over those months is often painful. The darkness of loss threw a shadow of that entire year. It hit me so hard, that when the next year started I did not even attempt to set another goal. However, I learned something.
The waves come. The storms hit. It is life. When we have to suffer through these things, I want to be in Jesus' boat.
You know the story. Turn to Mark 4:35-41. Jesus invited His disciples to get into the boat with Him and cross over the Sea of Galilee. Jesus knew that the storm coming would be terrible. He knew that the waves would crash over them and toss their vessell around. He knew that the tempest had the power to tear them to pieces. However, that was His boat. He even fell asleep as the waters thrashed about them. When His disciples came and woke Him, He quieted the storm with a few simple words. Then He chastised His followers for forgetting that they never had anything to fear.
By the end of 2014 my family and I had survived a storm that could have ripped us to pieces. It had full capability to steal our hopes, beat away our dreams, tear apart our relationships, and demolish our health.
There were scars. Oh, there were some bad scars. But we were in Jesus' boat. I can say that though I desperately miss my baby, Isabela, I have deep joy that she was born to me. I can say that though I wish Micaela had been given an easier journy in life, but I am in continuous wonder at how God shows His mighty power through her miraculous progression. I can say that though my heart aches to hear my mom's voice, even one more time, I have a heart that is open to be loved by others. My marriage is strong. I am so very loved and supported by family and friends.
In Jesus' boat we reach our destination within His great plans for us and under the protection of His perfect love. No matter what we suffer, we are never lost to the storm.
Last night the calendar turned over into 2017 and I set resolutions again. I have no fear. My goals might work out, or they might not. I believe in striving for personal growth, especially when it trains our eyes to be fixed on God. I hope to spend this year reading my Bible daily, lowering my cholesterol through diet and exercise, and learning how to market my very first published book.
Who knows, the waves might rise up and crash over me mid-year or even in a week and those goals will become useless. It doesn't matter.
I'm in Jesus' boat.
I will get safely to the other side. Only My Heavenly Father knows my destination. And, my God is good.
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
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"...and God was already there with me."