Saturday, March 31, 2018

Lent Words Day 40: Hope

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..."
1 Peter 1:3

At the beginning of the week I shared a quote from a book about Lent by Charles Erdman, which I left unfinished, to be continued today. As Paul Harvey used to say, here is the rest of the story:
"On Saturday His body rested in the tomb. With this the last day of Holy Week, Lent, strictly speaking, is ended; but no proper review of the Lenten season would be complete without reaching a climax by including the Sunday which follows and which, as "Easter," celebrates the glorious resurrection of Christ."
Today is the official last day of Lent. The end of a season of repentance and mourning over sin. Tomorrow we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our mourning turns to joy! This great event ushers in our hope. As today's Scripture verse says, God, in His great mercy, has given us new birth into a living hope THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus Christ through the dead. This verse is so theologically rich and meaningful.

  • God the Father has given us new birth. He has caused it to happen and gifted us with it. There is nothing we do to make this new birth happen, it is a work of God that we accept by faith. This new birth makes us children of God.
  • We receive this new birth as a result of God's great mercy. God is compassionate and rich in mercy. In His mercy He made a way for us to be restored to favor with Him through faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ.
  • Our new birth is into a living hope. As Christ-followers we have a hope that is not wishful thinking, but rather, a hope that has power. Power that changes lives! That same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us! (Romans 8:11)
  • This hope is living because it comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Because He lives, we live! "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." 1 Corinthians 15:22
And so, as we look forward to celebrating on Resurrection Sunday, we can join Peter in His praise to God the Father for this new birth into a living hope. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"

Today is our last day of the Lent Words Creative Challenge. Thank you all for joining along with me as we read daily Scripture passages and responded to them creatively. I want to once again thank those who wrote guest posts for our journey:
Bernice Hopper @
Valerie Sjodin @
Christina Hubbard @

Thank you all so much! We appreciated your words and your art in the many different ways your creativity was expressed and shared with us!

You can continue following my journey through the year here on my blog and in the Everyday Journals group on Facebook. In April we are exploring Verse Mapping!

Join Our Inspirational Facebook Group

Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I are using one journal to record events, experiences and relationships and  to explore our word’s meaning in visual and fun ways. We are each blogging about our experiences and our art. If you would like to connect with others about creatively organizing your word, your ideas, thoughts, prayers, events, or your projects all in one journal, you are invited to join our Facebook group: Everyday Journals – Living Your Word of the Year.

Hashtags on Instagram: #everydayjournals2018, #livingyourword2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Lent Words Day 39: Crown ~ Guest Christina Hubbard

Today's post for Good Friday is by Christina Hubbard. I met Christina a few years ago while participating in her Advent Book Club, Come, Lord Jesus on her blog. Christina's art form is poetry. She wrote the poem below using today's Scripture passages as inspiration. Today's Scripture readings are: John 19:1-3 and Hebrews 2:9. 

Thank you Christina for contributing to our Lenten Journey!

Good Friday’s Crown: the Day the World Is Saved
By Christina Hubbard
Drape me in black cloth
Today as I forego food,
Push away drink.
Lash me, not Him!
Sharp rocks unflesh
I cry out
In hunger and thirst
Because I don’t feel a thing.
He feels it all.
His very nerves fray apart
Before my eyes.
He is my Rock,
Hunched over.
Thorns, a grisly honor-crown
My Refuge.
I plod over stones,
Repurposed cross splintering
Exposed muscle.
They curse me.
I drain my life
For these whose saliva hits
Open wounds.
Spit speeds blood to clot,
But they know not what they do.
They do what they must.
I drag my death with me
But I cannot abandon this world
Though it abandons me.
I am chosen.
King of the Jews.
I do not love this world less.
Even more.
Why must redemption come with a slap to the face?
How can suffering heal?
What is good about crucifixion on a Friday?
Nothing seems good about sorrow
When we’re suffocating under it.
Good Friday.
Good death.
Good dying day.
How history pivots
On this slaughter!
A man’s torture
Tearing open heaven
Makes many wonder
How our universe really works---
How can such a horrible finish
Mean grace and honor,
Celebrated world-over
As good? As holy? As joy!
Good Friday is good
Because it is where all hope is lost
Before the God-man comes back to life,
And we are all saved.
God’s good day!
When the King of glory
Ate death whole.
Tell me again.

Christina Hubbard is a poet who writes memoir. As an internationally published writer, speaker, and retreat leader, she inspires creatives to courage and compassion. She lives on the suburban prairie of Kansas with her husband and two creative kids. Find her at

Monday, March 26, 2018

Lent Words Day 35: Hosanna and Holy Week

Charles Erdman, in his book, Remember Jesus Christ, the start of Holy Week on Palm Sunday,

"...which calls to mind our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, and it continues by celebrating the events of the days of His life which followed. On Monday He drove from the temple the godless traffickers. On Tuesday He defeated and disgraced His enemies who attempted to ensnare Him with crafty questions. Wednesday He spent in seclusion at Bethany. On Thursday the Master established His memorial Supper and bade farewell to His disciples. Friday was the dread day of crucifixion. On Saturday His body rested in the tomb...."
To be continued on Resurrection Sunday....

Today's Lent Word is Hosanna.

"This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,

    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” 
Matthew 21:4-11


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Lent Words Day 34:Grace

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV

Two small words in this passage hold significant impact for us and hold the very grace of God: 

There are over 40 times in the whole Bible where these words are used together. Here are just a few:
"But God remembered Noah..." Genesis 8:1
"But God will be with you..." Genesis 48:21
"But God meant it for good..." Genesis 50:20
"But God did not give David into his hands..." 1 Samuel 23:14
"But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave..." Psalm 49:15
"But God raised him from the dead..." Acts 13:30
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us..." Romans 5:8

These words lead us to God's intervening grace throughout the Scriptures. 

“May I put it quite simply? If you understand those two words—‘but God’—they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.” – James Montgomery Boice

The beginning of Ephesians chapter 2 reminds us of our state without God - "You were dead in your transgressions and sin".  Then, verse 4 opens up to remind us of the words that are at the very heart of the Gospel - But God.

Let me paraphrase the beginning of  today's passage: "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, made us alive with Christ - it is by His grace we have been saved. " The Greek word order shows us that we are saved first, because of God's mercy, and second because of His great love for us. God is rich in mercy because of His great love. His mercy and His love lead Him to act in grace. In His grace He saved us, He made us alive with Christ, He raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms. This is the Resurrection Life! It is the life we live in spiritual union with Christ!

God made us alive with Christ, raised us with Him, and seated us in the heavenly realms with Him in order to show the riches of His grace seen in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. And thus,  it is by grace He has saved us; not by ourselves or by any works we could do. Our salvation is a gift of God. A gift that we receive by faith in Christ.

I just love this passage in Ephesians 2, as well as our other reading today in Romans 3:21-24. A reminder of God's mercy and love for us expressed in His grace to us through Jesus Christ is a great way to begin Holy Week. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Lent Words Day 30: Reflection ~ Guest Christine Heister

Today our guest is Christine Hiester. I have followed Christine on her blog and through Instagram for a number of years. I finally got to meet Christine in person last year at a retreat where she led us in prayer art journaling. Christine  is a talented musician, an art journaler and a spiritual director in training. I think I am also drawn to Christine because we are both INFJ's! You can follower Christine's art on Instagram @barebranchblooming and her spiritual direction @shapingtheriver.

Thank you Christine for contributing to our Lenten Journey!

I prepare for Prayer Circle and write, “Prompts for Reflection”. I breathe deeply and search internally for what I think God wants me to ask the members of our Circle. What would He ask me this moment? What is it that I hear deep inside, in that Spirit-space that resonates with His voice? The space that resonates when I am still enough to listen, that is.

Reflection: noun, meaning “an image seen in a mirror or shiny surface.”

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I Am.
Be still and know.
Be still.

I know this: I can’t be that mirror when I am not still. And my internal world, like a mountain lake, or a forest stream, needs a hushed sense of reverence to be clear and still enough to offer the God of Love a true canvas on which to create. I know this, and yet I am still learning. I am ever a beginner. In the spiritual life we never arrive.

Oddly enough, the very thing that gives me this sense of hushed stillness, the practice that shows me more of God than any other, that allows me to be the mirror, is also a meaning of the word reflection.

Reflection: noun, meaning “serious thought or consideration; contemplation.”

Contemplation. A posture of quiet before God. I practice this posture of prayer in many ways, not least of which is the act of creating with color and clippings, glue and glitter. Art has always been an open and still place of the Spirit for me. A Spacious Place. Our life in Christ is a wide-open meadow of possibilities.

“He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19

So I plan the Prayer Circle this Lent, a weekly space of contemplative prayer, to remind myself. To let God lead me, and in that gently leading, guide others who have the same desire for stillness.

How do you practice stillness? I’d love to hear.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lent Words Day 29: Surrender ~ Guest Kris Camealy

Today our guest writer is Kris Camealy. Kris is an author, Refine Retreat host, and a conference speaker. She has authored two books: Holey, Wholly Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement and Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting an Advent devotion. In addition, Kris is a fellow Ohioan! I have followed Kris' blog,,  for years and in 2016 I was so honored to sit on the book launch team for Kris' Advent book. My 2016 Advent art journal and blog posts were a journey through her book. 

I want to especially thank Kris for contributing to Lent Words this week as her Refine Retreat begins on Friday. Please pray for her and all who will be attending.

Thank you Kris for contributing to our Lenten journey!

Please follow this link to Kris' post for today's Lent Word, surrender: 

Kris' books:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Lent Words Day 27: Anointed ~ Guest Valerie Sjodin

I'm very excited to have Valerie Sjodin as our Lent Words guest writer and artist today! I have long been an admirer and looked to Valerie early on for inspiration as I sought to combine my art journaling and my faith. I got to know Valerie through her blog and online classes. This year our friendship grows as we team up with Bernice Hopper in our Facebook group Everyday Journals ~ Living Your Word of the Year. I encourage you to visit Valerie's blog, Visual Blessings,  and check out her classes, plus her new book release, Prayerful Doodling.


Read Acts 10:37-38; 2 Corinthians 1:20-22
When Mary asked me about to write a guest post for Lent Words 2018, I chose “Anointed” because it is one of those words that was not used much in my conservative evangelical upbringing, and I wanted to understand its meaning more. Another reason the word intrigues me is I want to learn the connection with anointing and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Here are the definitions of anointed I found at

From the Strong’s Concordance H4886 the Hebrew word anointed is:
מָשַׁח mâshach, maw-shakh'. It’s an action, a verb; a primitive root means to rub with oil, i.e. to anoint; by implication, to consecrate; also to paint

In the Greek, the Strong’s definition (5548) is xríō – to anoint by rubbing or pouring olive oil on someone to represent the flow (empowering) of the Holy Spirit. Anointing (literally) involved rubbing olive oil on the head, etc., especially to present someone as divinely-authorized (appointed by God) to serve as prophet, priest or king, etc. 

In Acts 10:37-38 NLT Peter is explaining that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him.

When I read passages like the one in Acts 10, I used to think, “Well, Jesus is God so that’s why He had the Holy Spirit and could always do good and heal the sick and cast out demons.” I could never do anything like that, but that’s not really what the Scripture says. It says God anointed Jesus, presented him, divinely-authorized, appointed to serve as our High Priest and King. Jesus, Yeshua, is completely God, but also completely man. Paul challenges us to literally become like Christ in every way since (2 Corinthians 1:20) all of God’s promises to us are fulfilled, complete in Christ. According to Paul, it is possible to become like Christ, to grow up, becoming more like Christ all the time by being filled up with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Creator God is the one who gives us actual physical life, making humans in his image. God longs to give us a renewed, abundant spiritual life through our relationship with Jesus Christ, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within us.

Here is what the apostle Paul says about us in 2 Corinthians 21-22 NLT:
“It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.”

Jesus, Yeshua is the Anointed One of God, our King, and God himself has anointed us, constantly strengthening us to be in unity with Christ. Jesus himself  (John 14:12 TPT) said, “The person who follows me in faith, believing in me, will do the same might miracles that I do – even greater miracles than these because I go to be with my Father!”

All this makes me yearn for more, a deeper love relationship with God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and to experience more of the presence and power of Christ living in me.

In John 15:7-8 TPT Jesus says, “if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you – then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!”

Amen! YES Lord! Let it be so.

If you would like to learn more about my Bible journaling process and the Hebrew word Anointed, please visit my blog post: “We are Anointed – Bible Journaling” (March 16,2018) at

Monday, March 12, 2018

Lent Words Day 23: Peace

"You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all."
Acts 10:36

The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom, often used as a greeting, it however holds a much deeper meaning. Shalom includes all of the ways we think of peace- the absence of war, the absence of conflict, strife and animosity, but it’s much deeper meaning is that of a sense of well-being and fulfillment that comes from God and is dependent on His presence. Shalom is peace and so much more, it is  wholeness, harmony, health, prosperity, security and fullness of life that only comes as a result of a restored relationship with God. God’s desire is that we know His shalom peace and throughout the Bible we see a story of a people who are longing for that restored relationship with God. 

In the beginning of the Bible we are given a picture of what a life of shalom looks like. It is the picture of life in the Garden of Eden before sin separated man from God. In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we see life the way God created it to be. Man was in perfect, intimate fellowship with God, all their needs were met, they experienced no guilt and shame – life was pure bliss. But sin enters the world in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve choose to live their own way and break fellowship with God and Shalom peace between men and God was lost. The rest of the Bible is the story of God’s plan to have His peace restored with man.

Peter points us to God's peace plan in his sermon recorded in the book of Acts ~ "the good news of peace through Jesus Christ". This is God's plan for redemption, for restoring those who were formerly alienated from Him. Paul puts it like this in Romans 5:1-2,
Since we have been justified [made right with God]  through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand….”
And in Colossians 1:19-22,
"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Christ), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in Heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation -"

Jesus is our peace. He is the instrument through which God brings us back – reconciles – us to Him. Through Jesus, God restored our peace with Him ~ in this we can find reassurance and rest in it. Through Jesus we can also find peace day-to-day,
"Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

Rest in Him.

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Thessalonians 5:23

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Lent Words Day 22: Heart

"Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."
Psalm 51:10-12

It is hard for us in modern day to get a good grasp of the Psalmist's use of the word heart in this verse. In the Old Testament Hebrew language the word heart had a broader sense of meaning than it does for us. We hear the word heart and we think of the organ pumping life to our bodies. Or we think in terms of sentimentality, emotion, and romantic love. Or we use it to express an intense like for something as seen in the I "heart" everything stickers and paraphernalia. 

Heart, when used in the Old Testament, means the whole of our innermost part. It would include our emotions, thoughts, will, and soul. Many times in the Old Testament the word leb/lebab (heart) is translated as either heart or mind. This OT meaning of heart has been on my mind a lot lately as I have been co-leading a Bible study at my church looking at spiritual formation that combines the heart and the mind. In Christian circles we often place a higher value on knowledge and the mind when it comes to our faith. This Hebrew meaning shows us a more complete form of knowledge and faith that encompasses every part of us -our whole being. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Mark that the most important commandment is, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30. Loving God is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It encompasses our entire being. 

So, what does it mean in Psalm 51 when he asks God to create a pure heart in him? The desire for a pure heart is central to our journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Psalm 51 is a prayer for forgiveness and cleansing. In this Psalm we can follow David's example as we come face-to-face with our sin and iniquity before God.

Turn your heart to God (verse 1). David looks to God, to His unfailing love and great compassion. God alone is the one we are to turn to. He alone is the one who can forgive us and restore us.

Pray for cleansing (verses 2 & 7). We seek to be made right with God - in His sight.

Confess your sin (verses 3-6). We saw in yesterday's verse, 1 John 8-9, that when we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just and will forgive us and purify (cleanse) us. Confession enables us to see our brokenness and to humble ourselves before God.

Seek forgiveness and renewal (verses 10-12). God's forgiveness creates in us a pure heart, a renewed spirit and restored joy in His salvation.

This Psalm also reminds us that it is not the practice of fasting itself that purifies us. God is most concerned with our heart, with who we are and who we become.

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise."
Psalm 51:16-17

As we journey through Lent, fasting and repentance, confession and mourning, are practices to enable us to re-connect with our sinfulness and prepare our hearts for Easter.