Other Fun Stuff

Creative Retreat Kits | Joy to the World

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“Joy to the World! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing”

-Joy to the World, published in 1719, written by Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!”

-Psalm 98:4

Friends, can I share with you how immensely glad my heart is that the holidays are upon us?! I had the amazing gift of writing the devotional for this month’s Faith Art Box, so hopefully, you know how deeply I feel about the importance of preparing our hearts for Christ as we enter into this season.

We prepare so very much for Christmas, through capturing that perfect Christmas card image, to buying gifts for everyone we love, preparing for holiday parties, baking trays of sweet cookies, and “decking our halls” with all the twinkle and trim that we can to make our homes festive. This season, I’m challenged to put in the same effort with my heart. My home might be ready to reflect on Christmas, but is my heart ready to remember the birth of our King and truly savor what he came to do for us?

As I dove deeper into Joy to the World, the carol that inspired this month’s devotional, I was struck to find out that it wasn’t intended to be a Christmas carol at all, but rather, as a poem inspired by Psalm 98. At its heart, it’s a true expression of the joy and power of our great Savior. A psalm expression of his love, the offer of salvation and faithfulness that springs forth even from the depths of the earth… the seas roar, the rivers clap their hands, the fields exult. That is some deep and expressive joy!

A lot of times I think we make the mistake of thinking that reflecting and preparing our hearts needs to be done in silence, in reverence or in study. But we serve a God of joy! We serve a God who delights in our praise and worship. This holiday season, I intend embrace the heart of Psalm 98, of Joy to the World, and will prepare my heart with joy of knowing intimately our King, who was born to save! I hope you’ll do the same.

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I knew I wanted to journal with this hymn and I wanted to keep this page pretty simple because I really didn’t want to cover up the lyrics (especially after I researched the heart of it). I always forget about stamping so I thought it would be fun to kick off this page with stamping… and when I saw the pine branch stamps in this month’s box… my heart went straight to garlands.

I used both pine branch stamps and layered them to form garlands, using Distress Oxide Inks in Cracked Pistachio and Lucky Clover. I then added a few embellishments to the garland using some of the heart stickers from the kit. It needed a little contrast, and a bit of sparkle so I added in some simple dots using a metallic gold marker.

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I knew I wanted to incorporate that sweet blue bow in the kit so I laid down a strip of plaid washi (from one of the Illustrated Faith Revival Camp kits this summer) that coordinated really well with the kit, both to reinforce the page and secure the bow. On top, I layered the word Prepare from the wordfetti in the kit as a reminder of the heart of this hymn… “let every heart prepare him room”.

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Lastly, I added a little more of the plaid washi at the bottom of the page to tie it together. On top of that, I layered a label sticker from the kit and then stamped 2018 in gold ink. I try to pick a hymn to focus on each holiday season, and seeing as I became so invested in this one, I found it to be the perfect fit.

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Friends, my prayer for you is that you prepare your heart as we enter into this holiday season. I pray that you know how deeply and fully God loves you and that YOU are the heart of why he sent his son. May you seek and find joy this season in all that you do.

Be blessed and pursue joy, my friends!

Need some inspiration as you prepare and journal this holiday season? Follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits. Are we friends yet? Let’s be! I love friends. Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

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Bible Journaling

Creative Retreat Kits | When We Gather

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“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Matthew 18:20

I could hardly believe when I saw on the calendar just a few short weeks ago that it was officially fall. It takes quite a while for temperatures to cool and for leaves to actually fall where I live so it can take a while for it to really set in. For me, fall always ignites the practice and attitude of gratefulness in my life. Maybe it’s because it is the eve of Thanksgiving when the whole world finally takes a pause to give thanks. I like to start early and really get in the right frame of mind.

This year, the thing that rises to the top of mind when I think of what I am grateful for, is “my people”. We all need each other so desperately, even when things are good, but so much more so when things are less than ideal. This year has very much been the latter for me and I don’t know if I could have gotten as far as I am today without my people.

My support system is very small but very strong. Much of my support system is rooted in the faith of our Lord and Savior. He comes first in everything. I think of Matthew 18 when I think of my people. This passage is often referred to when it comes to conflict resolution, which it is a wonderful template for, but for me, it’s such a shining example of what strength there is when believers gather in His name. He tells us that he is with us in these moments. Truly holy moments happen when we gather in His name!

Some of the most earnest prayers I have made when gathered with my people have been asked in His name. There is incredible power in the name of God. Satan trembles at his name. Mountains will tumble at the sound of his name. You see, big things happen when we gather in His name. He is for us and he is with us. Could there be anything better?

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Let’s chat about my entry – can we talk about the gorgeous colors in this kit?! I also adored the vine and leaf pattern on the back of the devotional card (which I typically do), so I raided my paper stash because I knew I had some others with the same color palette. I started by buffing in a soft wash of ink (Distress Oxide ink in Fossilized Amber) on the top and bottom of the page. I thought this might help the mixed paper patterns blend together a bit better and because I just loved that yellow.

Next, I pulled papers that specifically had this earthy yellow, rich purple and soft gray or turquoise. I got out my hexagon die cut and cut out several sheets. Starting at the bottom edge, I started piecing them together on the page, gluing one piece down at a time, focusing just on the bottom of the page, then creating a simple cluster at the top of the page as well. I carefully cut off any overhanging pieces with a small scissor.

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I loved the beautiful Gather in His Name sticker from the kit so I used only that as my title. This was the PERFECT piece for this page! I also loved the two circle stickers that said He is For Us and He is With Us so I nestled those together down into the hexis. I framed out my verses with a bit of purple washi tape and hit the page with some purple watercolor splatters.

I loved the dark teal bow in the kit so I added that and loved how it helped tie in the various patterns and bring in that turquoise blue color. It was the perfect finishing touch to a page full of rich color!
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Friends, my prayer for you is that you begin the practice of gratefulness now as we enter this harvest season. Consider the good harvest in your life this year and be grateful for those who have come alongside you, prayed with you and for you and have gathered together with you in the name of God. He is with us. He is for us. Amen!

For more inspiration using the October Faith Art box follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits. Be sure to check out our Facebook Insiders group for more inspiration and some fun freebies! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

Bible Journaling

Creative Retreat Kits | Made Perfect in Weakness

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“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

There was a time in my 20s when I felt like I was in really decent shape, and was at a phase in my life when I wanted to try everything. I said YES to as many new experiences as I could. I was single and had all the time in the world, so when my singles group at church invited everyone out for a day hike in the mountains, I said YES.

What I quickly learned, just minutes into this “easy” hiking trail was that I was in fact not in decent shape and I was not cut out for hiking. Let’s just say that I huffed and puffed, and at one point, was seeing spots, on the verge of passing out completely. Layers of clothing were shed. At one point, a heroic gentleman in our group offered to carry my backpack. Even stripped of everything weighing me down, I struggled.

The mental attack on myself started, “What is wrong with you? Why can’t you do this? You are such a joke! You look like a fool right now.” I couldn’t deal with my own inner enemy screeching in my ears. I started to pray and pray hard, “Lord, I need you. I can’t do this. I don’t want to hold this group back. I said yes to this so I could live richly, deeply and fully. God, I need you.” The prayers continued as the incline grew more sharp.

As I continued to falter and take many, many breaks, I started to recite scripture. It was amazing. Scriptures I didn’t even know that I could remember by heart started flowing through me. Psalms, Proverbs, James… I recited until the intensity of those scriptures covered me and I could no longer focus on the pain in my legs or the burn of my lungs. The word of God was covering me and giving me power I didn’t know I had.

At some point, I didn’t even realize when we reached the summit. That summit contained the most beautiful oasis tucked into the canyon – a lazy river, great trees towering overhead and a peace that I hadn’t seen or felt in a very long time. “Thank you Lord!” I exclaimed, both out of relief of the end of our ascent, but also at the reward that was waiting here for me. The struggle was so worth it.

As I read Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, speaking of our Lord, “my power is made perfect in weakness” I thought of this hiking trip. Physically, I needed the Lord to get me to the top of that mountain. Mentally, I needed his peace and guidance too. And as I reflect on it now, in my moments of great weakness (and not even physical weakness, but spiritual weakness, pain, grief, stress…) I have needed God more than ever. I think God’s power really is made perfect in our weakness. Without weakness, we wouldn’t need a Savior. Our weakness creates a hunger for God that only he can satisfy. And not only does he satisfy… he heals, restores and brings power! Like Paul says, when we are weak, we are STRONG because of our God! And often, like the oasis that revealed itself at the end of my hike, there is incredible beauty and reward waiting.

I love the subtle color scheme of the September Faith Art box and I felt that tones of gray would go perfectly. This simple entry started with just a few strips of a gray plaid washi tape, laid down at angles. On top I layered my title using the wordfetti and title stickers – made perfect in my weakness.

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Then, I used the heart stickers to form a sort of path of arrows to my secondary title, I am made perfect in you. The white border of the “perfect” and “weakness” stickers seamed a bit stark so I went in with a bit of Ice Spruce Distress Oxide ink on a Q-tip and buffed it around the edges. This helped it settle into the washi tape a bit better. I like that it ended up a bit distressed, messy and not perfect… it really fit the theme of the page. 🙂

Next I made a notecard for my sermon notes using half of the devotion card from this month’s kit. This sermon from Chuck Smith was really powerful (and can be found on Blue Letter Bible) and I wanted to capture his main points.

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I used the number stickers from the alpha stickers and a bit more of the washi to capture all the points. I cut the title out of the other side of the devotional card and attached it to the top. Finally, I used a bit more washi tape to tip it into my bible.

For finishing touches I did a little bit of splattering with gray watercolor paint. I found this cute gray fabric in my stash and made a quick clip to secure to the top of my page with a bit of washi. I tape all my clips in so they don’t fall out.

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Friends, my prayer for you is that you realize how badly we need a Savior. May we not see weakness and being vulnerable as a bad thing, but rather an expression of our open need for the power and might of our God. I pray that in your weakness, you will cry out to him and find immeasurable strength, healing and love, and that you will be greeted by an oasis more beautiful than you ever imagined on the other side.

Be blessed, friends!

Not sure how you can use September’s Faith Art Box? Follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits. Are we friends yet? Let’s connect! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.