I’m a Winner! DaySpring Friendship Gifts

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It’s not too often that I actually call myself a winner. Perhaps it’s a practice I should take up! But, today, I can say I really and truly am a winner!

Since I started my journey into bible journaling recently I have fallen more and more in love with the products and gifts offered at DaySpring, not to mention their Illustrated Faith line and site, which is absolutely the bee’s knees, in my opinion. (I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that!) I love following DaySpring on Instagram and receiving email notifications about their upcoming promotions and new products. Everything is so uplifting and focused on what I want to be focused on…living an abundant life as a follower of Jesus.

While I have been doing all of this following and sometimes buying (more than I should actually admit) I entered a giveaway along the way. I’ve been entering quite a few giveaways in general recently since this mommy is on a budget and well, who doesn’t love getting things for FREE? I never really expect to win because SO many people are entering and what are the chances? But I take my chances when something stands out to me and lo and behold, I won something!!! I didn’t just win anything though. I won a beautiful collection of gifts. All the gifts are so wonderful and happy and completely lifted my spirits. I’ve been pretty sick recently and that has taken a bit of a toll on my overall mood. These gifts are so great that I wanted to show you here because you can get them too on DaySpring.com plus they are all great gifts for girlfriends or the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday.

Before I go any further, I’d like to let you know that DaySpring is not paying me for this post in any way. I received these gifts as a winner of a contest and I’m so thrilled that I wanted to share them with you!

Have a look at all the goodies and make sure to read to the bottom of the page because I have a surprise for you!

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How adorable is this little sign? And I totally need the reminder!
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Isn’t this journal beautiful and inspring? I just want to write in it right now. The desk calendar is full of inspiration, too!
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The timing of receiving this cup couldn’t have been any better. I bought an insulated tumbler from DaySpring last week and I broke it (by dropping it) the first day I went to use it. Now I have a replacement!
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Okay, who doesn’t want to wear this? It’s a little piece of perfection to wear around your neck!
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Oh my goodness! This bag is perfect for bible journaling supplies or cosmetics. Bonus, it’s an adorable print with such an inspirational piece of gracing it.

I hope you didn’t suffer too much viewing these not so perfect images, but I am certain you could tell what a wonderful collection of gifts I received. Thank you, DaySpring!!!

Now, for my surprise! I’m all about passing on kindness. I love making the day of a friend or loved one with a little gift or surprise. If  you’re reading this, I’m considering you a friend and I want to share a friendship gift with you! Since I currently have several journals on hand all empty and waiting in a drawer for me, I’d like to pass on the beautiful journal above because “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created!” I love the design and this mantra.

If you’re interested in receiving this gift please leave a comment below sharing why you would like this lovely journal along with your Instagram or Twitter username (watch for my follow and please follow back so I can contact you via private message on the platform of your choice). You’ll get an extra entry if you decide to follow the blog. And, that’s it! I’ll pick a winner at random by end of day Friday April 15th and send you the journal on my dollar. US residents only, please.

To Be Seen Again

One of the hardest things I have been dealing with these last few months is a sense of not wanting to be seen. I don’t want to be seen by the world, by the people in it, by even friends of mine and sometimes by my own family. It’s as if everyone is going to see all my pain and shame just by looking at me and even worse, they will see how much I’ve failed.

In my mind it’s like nobody has anything better to do than to look at me and judge me. Which we all know is a complete fallacy, a trick of the mind, but a really good trick because it feel so true.

The real truth is that I don’t go out in the world judging people. I’m not sizing anyone up. If I ever do it’s because of some sort of envy or admiration, which can be both good and bad. But in my heart, I don’t want to judge anyone and I believe a lot of people feel the same way. Additionally, most people are really only interested in their own stuff, their own life, their own weight gain or loss, their own hair, their own makeup, their own outfit and just so focused on themselves that they really aren’t looking at me.

On several occasions recently I’ve shared with my husband that I feel unable to do something because I just don’t want to be seen. It’s an undeniable feeling, it’s intrusive, it’s anxiety producing and just plain sad. He tries to understand. He’s good like that. But I don’t think I fully understand it. It’s part of this depression, anxiety, bipolar goop. It’s part of a shame I’ve lived with for too long. It’s actually quite self-centered. I’m truly not the center of the universe, or am I? 😉

I know a large measure of this is due to body image issues as well. Can anyone relate? I’ve gained A LOT of weight over the last year due to poor diet, inactivity due to depression and medications. For all the wrong reasons, when I am overweight I feel under-lovable. The more the weight, the less worth I have. And during this time, I need to feel loved more than ever. It’s as though if I’m not pretty on the outside, then you will know I’m not pretty on the inside, either.

Whether it be society, childhood trauma or self-sabotage, it doesn’t matter the cause because I’m stuck in the feeling of wanting to disappear, regardless. But somehow, deep inside me, I have to find the love. I have to find the love for myself, I have to find my identity in Christ and the courage to bravely face the world despite how much I feel like shrinking back inside myself or under the covers.

So, I’m working on that. I’m facing the world when I have to and sometimes when I don’t. Like when I went to the Go Blog Social conference several weeks ago, or when I went to a bible journaling meet-up this past weekend anticipating a small crowd (turns out there were only two of us there). And when I go to church on Sundays, I’m facing it. And I’m spending time in the Word again. I’m listening to worship music and spending time in devotionals and Bible study. I’m bible journaling. I’m listening to faith based audio books (never have done this before) and surrounding myself with His message. (If you are struggling with feeling beautiful and lovable I highly recommend the “You’re Beautiful” devotional that comes in the “Beautiful” devotional kit by Illustrated Faith. I’m working through this now and it’s touching me right in the most tender places of my heart.)

I’m doing these things and more (like starting to incorporate healthy eating habits into my life again). I am taking action. And I’m working to really embrace the fact that my worth is not completely tied to my appearance. I am seeking the knowledge that it can be okay for my pain to be visible and it can be okay that I am visible again. Maybe the world wants me in it? Maybe the world will be a slightly better place if I participate in it? Maybe, it will be good to be seen.

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”.png

Confessions of a Bible Journaling Beginner

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You know I talk about messy stuff around here and let me tell you, bible journaling can get messy.

I recently (very recently) began journaling in my bible as a way to spend more time in the word and as a way to utilize my creativity to help me study, express my thoughts, feelings, emotions and prayers through art. While I went through a period of severe depression recently, I found it particularly difficult to connect with God. Once I found myself in this “recovery” phase of things (I’d like to think that’s where I’m at.) my natural instinct to draw near to him became apparent again. This was a joyful discovery for me after these past few months of feeling so far away.

But like most things that I do, it’s been a messy adventure. Both good and invigorating and, I hate to say bad, but well…just a little messy. Messy can mean a lot of things. Try to think of it, in this case, both literally and figuratively. That said, I’d like to share my confessions with you about what this beginning process has been like for me. Perhaps you can learn something from me. And maybe it will even encourage you to dive in to bible journaling yourself. You will find an amazing and rich community waiting for you on all social media outlets, but you can first look here  and follow the #biblejournaling and #biblejournalingcommunity hashtags on Instagram to find fellow journalers.  I think you will undoubtedly find that bible journaling is a beautiful (and sometimes messy) way to express your faith.

Confession No. 1

I’m kind of a scaredy cat. I am timid when it comes to writing and making art on the pages of my beautiful new journaling bible. (You can find the one I have here, if interested. I’m not getting paid to tell you about it and there are lots out there.) I totally hesitate to try new mediums and to really take over the page. I’ve discovered that I’m terrified of getting my pages wet now. This is because they wrinkle and crinkle easily (although there are methods that supposedly help with this (like using this stuff called Gesso), I have not mastered these techniques fully yet. I have ruined pages on the flip side by getting a page too wet and causing my work to run or smudge.

I did this here:

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And here:

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Confession No.2

I’ve spent way too much money on my new hobby. Like most people who get excited about new things, I wanted to try out all of the goodies and tools and well, everything. I still do, in fact. But if you can try to use some restraint it will probably serve you well! (Your bank account will definitely be happier.) It’s really hard not to indulge in all of the great products you see others using, but time and time again I hear bible journaling experts say to just start with the basics. I certainly have the basics now…and then a little more. In the hopes of helping another beginner out there I would recommend getting a journaling bible, some Sakura Pigma Micron pens, a couple regular pencils and some good colored pencils, but even Crayola Twistables work great. You can work your way up from there, perhaps a little bit more slowly than I did. I have to recommend Illustrated Faith as a great resource for bible journaling supplies, tools and treats, simply because I love them. They also have super fun ways to embellish your page (I’m waiting on the arrival of some stickers and die cuts I ordered from them now) if you aren’t that into drawing, painting or lettering pages all by yourself or if you just want to fancy things up. I’d show you my stash of stuff, but that would be embarrassing.

Confession No. 3

I’m totally insecure about my pages. This is the confession that is a little bit harder to put out there, but it’s true. I can rob myself of the joy of journaling by comparing my work or end results to others – others who have some mad art skills, training or have been doing this for a long time. None of this comparing business is good. It takes away from the whole point of why I’m doing this in the first place. I have images in my head of the greatness I could create only to fall way short of that expectation and then I feel all sulky and gloomy. That’s not what God would want for me to come away with after spending time in the word and it’s not of Him. To combat this, I intend to work diligently on spending more time in prayer and devotion and allowing my bible journaling to reflect that, not what I think the finished page should look like. There’s a real battle here, and I think other beginner bible journalers can relate to that.

Here’s wishing you a happy bible journaling adventure and don’t forget, it’s okay to get messy!

If you’re a beginner, tell me what your confessions are? If you’re not a beginner, how about sharing what obstacles, if any, you had to overcome when you got started? And if you’re not either of those, say hi anyway?

Small Victories Sunday Linkup

Guest Post: Grace for Your Constant Struggle

I am honored to share a post with you by a new and dear friend of mine, Liz Lalama. This post spoke right to my heart and I knew that it would to others as well! Liz graciously gave me permission to share it with you here. Enjoy!

It’s a new year, yet I find myself back where I was before. It’s time to turn over a fresh leaf, yet I know that the underside of my leaf is just as brown and rotting as the top. I’m frustrated, as I find myself not quite fully experiencing victory over a depressive episode from this past year.

I’m in a similar place that I was four years ago. Honestly, I find that hard to admit. It was only a few months after writing a blog series on recovery that my depression flared up again. I feel uncomfortable saying that. I’m humbled by that fact that I don’t (and never did) have it all together.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’re feeling the same struggles and pressures that you were a few years ago, or that you do every year. Maybe you have that one issue you’re embarrassed to say is still a struggle.

In all the talk of moving on, becoming better people, and making resolutions, it’s hard to face the fact that sometimes we just don’t. The reality is that most of the time New Year’s resolutions don’t succeed. It’s been a week … maybe yours has failed already. But I’m not even talking just about the new year. I’m talking about those deep struggles. The ones that we like to hide under the bed and pretend don’t exist. The ones that come back to haunt us after we thought we had won.

As a teenager growing up in the church, we would often have emotional moments on youth retreats where we would write down a sin, struggle, or addiction that we wanted to give up. We would then take those papers and either throw them in a fire or nail them to a cross to show that God had forgiven these sins and they were gone. It was incredibly meaningful and probably overly emotional. But it was very uplifting … until I became discouraged from writing down the same thing year after year.

It’s been years since I’ve thrown a struggle in the fire, but I find myself dealing with doubts about the fact that my struggles still exist. The truth is they didn’t actually burn in the fire. (I think that’s why they call it a “metaphor”.) But even though I’m no longer a teenager, I still find myself wishing I could throw the same old parts of me into a fire. I wish it was that easy.

Maybe like me, at the end of yet another year you find yourself realizing that if you were totally honest, not much has changed. Sure, maybe you changed your hair or moved or made a big life decision or made healthier choices. But you realize that your deepest, darkest fears are the same. Your body still isn’t as healthy as you’d like. That chronic ailment still exists. Your mental illness is still a daily battle. You still lose your temper. Or conversely you fail to speak up for yourself. You still haven’t reconciled your relationships. Even if you have conquered that addiction, you realize that you still have the potential to go back to it.

What are we to make of that? Am I a failure? Are you a failure? Am we a bad Christians? No. We are human. We are broken. We struggle. And that is exactly what a Christian is.

I’m afraid this isn’t a how-to blog. I don’t claim to have all the answers or even just one. But two things I know: We’re not alone and there is grace.

It’s too easy to think that everyone else it all together and we are the only ones who so often end up dealing with the same struggles we dealt with years ago. But if our fellow Christians were honest, we would soon find out that they struggle just the same. And through everyone’s struggle, there is grace every day and every year. There is grace every time I realize I’m still throwing that same struggle into the same fire.

Even the apostle Paul had his constant struggle. He refers to it as a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12). We don’t know what his struggle was, although scholars have made a few guesses. I think the fact that we aren’t told makes his thorn in the flesh more relatable. It doesn’t allow us to specify what is ok for Christians to constantly battle and what is not. By leaving the idea of the thorn vague, we are able to understand that Paul’s struggle is everyone’s struggle. I know very clearly what my thorn in the flesh is, and I’m guessing you know yours too. We might pretend otherwise, but truthfully we know the darkness of our own hearts.

Vicious thorns on bush. Sharp and threatening thorns on a plant in black and white

I do not struggle in the same ways as the apostle Paul, but like him I have cried out to God to take it away. Sometimes He has said yes, and sometimes He has said no. But I still have the questions. Why am I left with depression? Why do I deal with this illness that will likely go in and out of remission for the rest of my life? I have been left wondering if God hears my cry … if He even exists.

I often feel broken because I do not handle my thorn in the flesh as well as other people. But I don’t think it was easy for Paul either. He said, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” Three times he pleaded. He pleaded with God, over and over again. We easily skip over this verse and miss the pain Paul was in, the discouragement he felt in his struggle, just as we do. Even Jesus was so stressed in Gethsemane that he sweated blood as he pleaded with God to take the cross away from him. It wasn’t easy for him either. The pain and discouragement felt when we plead and yet hear “No” is not a lack of faith, it’s part of the human experience.

Paul then goes on, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I can hear some of you that are feeling very discouraged saying, “Yeah, yeah. Paul’s thorn in the flesh. His grace is sufficient. I’ve heard that.” I said that too. Sometimes I still do. But I failed to really understand the significance of God’s grace being sufficient.

God is not saying, “My grace is enough for you so just deal with this issue.” He is not saying, “My grace negates the need for doctors and seeking support and change.” It’s a gentle phrase, not a harsh one. It’s said in love, and is a reminder that we don’t have to be perfect.

God’s grace is sufficient for who I am. Jesus’ grace says, “It’s ok that you’ve failed. It’s ok that you find yourself in the same place you were before.” This world is broken.  We are broken. Yet we are God’s children and we are loved unconditionally, regardless of how often a thorn in the flesh haunts us. Even if I deal with the same struggle for the rest of my life and only see small and intermittent victory, Christ’s grace is still sufficient. I am still beloved. And so are you.

When we are weak, He is strong. When we fail, His grace is sufficient … unendingly and continuously. Not just once, not even again and again, but constantly, in every breath we breathe and in every second of our broken lives. There is grace.

 

This post originally appeared on Salad At Midnight 

Liz LalamLiz Lalamaa is a blogger and freelance writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. She has a vision for fostering community and always loves a good chat at the coffee shop, on a walk, or at the playground. She writes honestly about life, mental health, faith, and society at her blog saladatmidnight.com. Find her on facebook.com/saladatmidnight or on twitter, @lizlalama.

 

Wordless Wednesday: Bible Journaling Week 1

I’ve begun a new journey with Bible Journaling. This is my first week, so go easy on the expectations. I’m finding that this process brings more depth and meaning to my devotional time and I love the creativity outlet. My journaling Bible has really thin pages, so I haven’t figured out how to keep the pages from wrinkling when using watercolors or adding water to watercolor crayons, so please forgive that as well. In the vein of this being a Wordless Wednesday, I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking!

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