Monday, December 28, 2020

Sacred Margin

 Sacred Margin

The week ahead is my favorite week of the year. This week between Christmas and New Year's Day, for me, is always a time of slowing down, reflecting and planning.

Author Shelly Miller called time like this a sacred margin- "A sacred stretch of time between what was and what is yet to be." It's the in-between time. The current year is closing and the new year stretches out before us.

I think most of us are ready to say goodbye to 2020. I confess, with some embarrassment, that while watching the news the other night the announcer said we have five days left of 2020, and I got so emotional - tears forming, lump in throat emotional.  It's been an emotional year with death rates closing in on the highest in U.S. history. I am exhausted from the political divisiveness and from the hate filled and unkind words and behavior that everything from politics to mask-wearing to racial injustice have brought out in us. Exhausted and saddened. I want to turn the page on 2020, even though I know these things won't change for quite a while. I'm weary and saddened that when we faced an event that should have brought us together as a nation, instead we turned on one another. 

This all leads me to my word of the year for 2021: Rhythm. It found me quite by accident. I was seeking another word all together, but it dawned on me on Christmas day that I had been using this word a lot recently. Especially through the Advent season. You see, during Advent I realized how comfortable and welcoming it was to embrace the familiar rhythm of Advent in the midst of the constant change and chaos that 2020 has held.

Here's what I want to do most in 2021: I want to study the rhythm of Christ's life, His "unforced rhythms of grace" as the Message calls them in Matthew 11:29. And this passage of Scripture, Matthew 11:28-30, has popped up often as I have read back through my journal for 2020. So that will be my theme verse in 2021.

Some things are changing for me as I plan the year ahead. For one, the Living Your Word group I have co-led with Bernice Hopper and Valerie Sjodin for the past three years will come to an end on January 1st. We have all reached a point where the other projects we are pursuing will leave little time for us to continue that group. All good things come to an end at some point and it's always best that they are ended on high notes.

So, as I look ahead to 2021 and figure out what I am going to do I find that I am drawn to connecting more with the things that I am and have been most passionate about. Words, Bible study, making journals, playing with paper, finding vintage paper and office supplies and books, connecting with nature, and being creative. Nothing new for me, but things that at times have not received as much attention and focus as I would have liked.

This week I will focus on making some of those plans and will share them more in-depth on Friday, along with my plans for my 2021 word. My plans will include word studies, living out my word of the year, commonplace book practices, and word challenges to name a few things I want to do. I intend to spend more time in my Words Art & Faith group on a regular basis rather than simply reserving that group for Words challenges....but there will be challenges!

To start I was looking back at some of my art journals last month and came across the journals I made for the Documented Life group that Roben-Marie Smith used to co-lead. Leafing through those journals reminded me how much I liked the practice of journaling about my week. Yet I'm not really interested in scrapbooking or recording events in a calendar planner manner but more in a commonplace book manner - a visual commonplace book. Less about daily activities and more about capturing memories of my daily life and the things I like. Recording the bits of life that make up who I am - favorite quotes, things I read, Bible study and sermon notes, bird watching notes, song lyrics, things I find when I go thrifting, things I'm grateful for, little bits of collage, memories of events I want to hold on to, etc. The rhythms of my daily life.

I started playing with a format for my journal through the month of December. I'm going to continue on in my Leuchtturm journal from 2020 until I fill it up. I even turned my hand lettering into a font the other day and made up label stickers.

This week I'll set up my 2021 word journal and work on some of the plans for the months ahead and, as I said earlier, I'll post about those plans on Friday. I will do weekly updates here on my blog and in my Words Art & Faith Facebook group. You can join the group here

May you enjoy the in-between time this week.:)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Advent Words Day 26 ~ Word


Day 26: Word

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind." John 1:1-4

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." John 1:14a

The Word became flesh ~ the Incarnation. This is the great mystery and wonder and truth of Christmas. God took on human form and lived among us, and thus became fully like us. He understands us. The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that the incarnation  means that Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), because He was tempted in every way He is able to  "help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2:18). Jesus was fully human. 

Yet He was also fully divine, fully God. We see in the beginning of John's Gospel that "In the beginning was the Word" - Jesus. The Word existed before time. He was with God. He was distinct from God, yet He was fully God. 

In His humanity He does not give up His divinity. Paul tells us in Philippians that Jesus willingly laid it aside and submitted humbly to becoming a man. In this He submitted to the Father's will. 

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

    by taking the very nature of a servant,

    being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death

        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

    and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father."

Philippians 2:5-11


The Word became flesh and lived among us ~ He was fully human and fully God. He was the fulfillment of the promise of Immanuel ~ God with us! This is the wonder of Christmas!

Today is Christmas Eve and the last day of Advent. Our waiting for the Christ to arrive has come! Yet Advent reminds us to hold onto that same hope-filled longing as we wait for His promised return. Thank you for joining me on this journey through Advent. I am so grateful for all who participate with me each year. The creative responses to the words and the Scriptures that have been shared on Instagram and in the Words Facebook group are true expressions of God's creative work in us and through us. This weekend I will share some of my plans for the year ahead. In the meantime,

Have a Merry Christmas! Rejoice, the Savior is born!



Share you responses on Instagram using #adventwords2020 or in the Words Art & Faith Challenge group on Facebook. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Advent Words Day 25 ~ Immanuel


Day 25: Immanuel

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” Isaiah 7:14


“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”- which means “God with us”.” Matthew 1:22-23


“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” “  Revelation 21:3


Through deeper Bible study I have come to enjoy grammar. Yes, you read that right, I enjoy grammar! Let me tell you that this was not true for most of my life. I will not claim to have grasped a full in-depth knowledge of it, but if we are to truly understand the meaning of Scripture we need to connect with the significance of the grammar used.

Take note of a simple preposition used in each of today’s verses: With.  Advent is a season that reminds us that what we really long for down deep is God’s presence with us. We wait and we long and we look for it. 


Prepositions are all about the relationship between two words in a sentence. The same is true of the Bible. Author Jan Loyd, “With-ness of Our God”, says, “God uses many prepositions to reveal different dimensions (aspects) of our relationship with Him and the benefits of that relationship.”

So note this preposition ‘with’ in the verses above:

The Virgin will be with child and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

And they will call him Immanuel – which means God with us. (Matthew 1:23)

Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

Just as there is an intimate relationship between a mother and the child in her womb, God provides the way for us to have an intimate relationship with Him. Through Immanuel – Jesus, the Christ – God’s presence abides in His people, and He is with us. 

The NIV Study Bible notes that the “with, with, with” combination used in Revelation 21:3 is the “most eloquent culmination of the Immanuel theme”.  God’s covenant relationship – I will be their God and they will be my people – is a thread of promise through the whole Bible, which culminates in the first and second coming of Jesus – Immanuel.

Let me leave you with a few verses that describe our covenant relationship with Immanuel:

Through faith in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross, we have the promise of God's presence with us forever.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ...In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:13, 21-22


Through Jesus Christ God not only dwells with us, but He dwells in us through His Spirit.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.  John 14:16-17


On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:20


You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:9-11


God's people, collectively as the church and individually, are now the dwelling place of God, His tabernacle!

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1 Corinthians 3:16


Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19


We are yet promised an even greater presence with God in the New Jerusalem. John paints a picture of that heavenly dwelling with God.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” “ Revelation 21:3


I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:22-23


Glory to God in the highest ~ Immanuel has come! God is with us!

Share your responses on Instagram using #adventwords2020 or in the Words Art & Faith Challenge group on Facebook. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Advent Words Day 24 ~ Savior


Day 24: Savior

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

One of the fundamental claims of the Christian faith is Jesus is Savior. Our verse in Matthew tells us that Joseph and Mary were told by an angel of the Lord to name their son Jesus. It also gives us the reason why they were to give him this name:

“…because he will save his people from their sins.”

There is so much wrapped up in the name Jesus. Although a common name in that day, the naming of this child meant so much. The name Jesus in Greek is the translation of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation”.  The child was given the name that would describe who He would become: the One who would save people from their sins. And so the angels declare at his birth:

“Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.Luke 2:11(NET)

Your Savior is born. This is good news for all! We all have sinned; therefore we all need a Savior. Through Jesus God has provided the way for our salvation.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:17

Jesus is Lord, the Christ, our Savior. We exalt His name!

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11


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Monday, December 21, 2020

Advent Words Day 23 ~ Messiah


Day 23: Messiah

"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

John 20:31


The closing of the Apostle John’s letter has one purpose: belief. More specifically John wants to make sure his readers are very clear on what they believe and what their believing results in. By reading his words of the accounts of Jesus’s life and ministry throughout his book, It is John’s belief that we should come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. The results of believing in His name, which represents all that He is, brings life – full and eternal – to those who believe.


What exactly does it mean that Jesus is the Messiah? The Greek word used in this verse is actually ‘christos”, which is Christ. The word Christ in Greek means “the anointed one”. The word messiah comes from the Hebrew word for anointed one ‘mashiach’. So Messiah and Christ are both synonymous for the anointed One. In our culture we often think of Christ as the second part of Jesus’s name – Jesus Christ. But it is actually a title, Jesus the Christ – Jesus the Anointed One, the Christ, the Messiah.


That then, leads us to ask why Jesus is called the Messiah? Throughout the Hebrew Bible, and more specifically by the Prophets, God promised to send a king, one who would be anointed by Him to deliver His people. Over time the Hebrew people began to anticipate that this Messiah would be a king who would bring military and political domination that would free them from bondage and rule by foreign nations.


In the Hebrew Bible it was kings and high priests and, occasionally, prophets who were referred to as the ‘anointed ones’. We see in the New Testament that each of these offices is associated with Jesus:

“I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” 1 Timothy 6:13-15

“But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation.Hebrews 9:11

“After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”John 6:14


In Luke 4, Jesus stood in the temple and read from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah reading the words found in Isaiah 61:2-3:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

    because the Lord has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

    to proclaim freedom for the captives

    and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

    and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn." 

Luke 4:21 tells us that Jesus concluded reading these words, saying, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. 


The Lord anointed Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah.  Jesus as the Messiah fulfilled Israel’s anticipation as the deliver – The Savior King. Jesus would spend his ministry giving his disciples the true understanding of the Messiah’s rule, to deliver us from our sins.


Jesus the Christ is the promised King, High Priest and Prophet.  The Messiah, the Savior has come!

Share you responses on Instagram using #adventwords2020 or in the Words Art & Faith Challenge group on Facebook. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Advent Words Day 22 ~ Love


Day 22: Love

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."  ~1 John 4:9-10

Love is not simply a characteristic of God or somethings He does. Love is who God is. In fact, the verse right before the above passage in 1 John says, "God is love". (1 John 4:8) It is His very nature and being, just as holiness is. God is holy and God is love. All that He is and all that He does is holy and loving. His most holy and loving act was in the Incarnation. He sent His Son into the world for us as the ultimate act of love. We did nothing to earn or gain this loving act. In fact, the Bible tells us that there is nothing we can do, no act worthy of gaining God's love. Why? Because of sin. Sin entered this world through the act of man in the beginning and separated us from God's favor. But God had a plan to restore His favor on us. Paul says it this way in the book of Romans:

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 5:6-8

And again Paul describes it in the book of Titus:

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

Titus 3:4-7

We were powerless to earn His love. We did nothing. We were separated from God because of sin; yet this did not stop a loving God from repairing the breach that stood between us. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." ~ 1 John 4:10

This is love ~ the Incarnation. God sent his one and only Son into the world.

Love came down at Christmas,

Love all lovely, Love Divine,

Love was born at Christmas,

Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,

Love Incarnate, Love Divine,

Worship we our Jesus,

But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,

Love be yours and love be mine,

Love to God and all men,

Love for plea and gift and sign.

~Poem by Christina Rossetti, 1885


Advent is a celebration of waiting and preparing for the love God sent into the world in the birth of His Son, our Savior.


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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Advent Words Day 21 ~ Light


Day 21: Light

"The people walking in darkness

    have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

    a light has dawned."

Isaiah 9:2

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,

    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth

    and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you

    and his glory appears over you.

Nations will come to your light,

    and kings to the brightness of your dawn."

Isaiah 60:1-3

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 

“I am the light of the world. 

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, 

but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

Light. We use it to mark celebrations with candles on birthday cakes, fireworks on Independence Day, and twinkling Christmas lights in this holiday season. Since time began light has been seen as a good and positive thing. It marks the first day of creation:

"And God said, "Let there be light. 

God saw that the light was good, 

and he separated the light from the darkness."

Genesis 1:3

Light also marks our celebration of the Incarnation, for just as light came into the world with God's creation, spiritual light comes into the word with the birth of God's Son. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be a "great light" to those walking in darkness. In John's gospel, when referring to the Incarnation, he said, "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world" (John 1:9)Jesus, the Messiah, illuminates spiritually in the hearts of men. He brings those who are living in spiritual darkness and captivity into the light of God's love.

"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

2 Corinthians 4:6

"Jesus is the radiance of the Father, and he will fill the world and everything in it with light. 

Jesus is the light of the world. ~John Piper

"Through Him all things were made; 

without Him nothing was made that has been made. 

In Him was life, 

and that life was the light of men."

John 1:3-4

"Jesus has come into a dark world and is the light of the world." ~John Piper

Jesus is the light of the world. In this we rejoice! We celebrate the One who has come to give us the light of life!

"Arise, shine, for your light has come,

    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you!"

Isaiah 60:1


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Friday, December 18, 2020

Advent Words Day 20 ~ Glory


Day 20: Glory


"The sun will no more be your light by day,

nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,

for the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your God will be your glory."

Isaiah 60:19


The word glory is used in the Bible to denote the visible manifestation of God's presence. It is the sum of all His attributes and perfection. In the Old Testament God's glory dwelt in the tabernacle. In the New Testament God's glory dwells among His people embodied in the person of Jesus. His presence is always with us. He is the glory of God!


In the incarnation - God becoming human and dwelling among us - God made it possible that through the Word, Jesus, we would be able to see His glory.


"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14


The book of Colossians tells us that Jesus is "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). The writer of Hebrews tells us "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being..." (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus reveals God's glory. 


At His birth the angels sang,


“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,

 praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,  

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”” Luke 2:14



Jesus is our everlasting light and glory!

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Advent Words Day 19 ~ Revelation


Day 19: Revelation


“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

Luke 2:29-32

Simeon is one of my favorite characters in the Christmas story. His only appearance in the Bible is in Luke’s Gospel, Luke 2:25-35.  Ten short verses that hold a significant revelation from God.

We don’t know much about Simeon. We don’t know his age, his status, his occupation, if he is married, if he has children – but Luke reveals three very significant things about Simeon. They are all found in verse 25:

  • Simeon was righteous and devout.
  • He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.
  • The Holy Spirit was upon him.

Luke reveals Simeon’s character and relationship with God. To me, this description of Simeon describes an older man, one who has spent many, many years in the Scriptures understanding God’s Word and His ways. A man of spiritual maturity who has an understanding of the prophecies of God given through the prophets that reveal God’s promises for His people. A man who has endured a life full of pain and suffering and foreign rule, yet his focus and his hope has been on God’s promise of deliverance for His people -  the consolation of Israel. Because of Simeon’s righteous and devout life and his focus and spiritual maturity, he is a man who is filled with the Spirit of God.

We see the Holy Spirit’s activity in Simeon in this passage in verses 26-27:

The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he saw the “Lord’s Christ”, the long awaited Messiah. This revelation from the Spirit was a promise from God to Simeon. Then it is the Holy Spirit that leads Simeon to be at the temple on the exact day that Jesus’s parents bring him for the consecration service. And there Simeon hears the child’s name, Jesus – Yeshua which means Deliverer, Savior.

The long awaited consolation of Israel has arrived and has been revealed to Simeon and to God’s people. And the Spirit of God within Simeon moves him to sing and praise God:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

Simeon’s long life of dedication, obedience and faith in God has been rewarded. God has fulfilled His promise to Simeon:

“For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

And although Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, God gives Simeon a revelation for all people.

“A light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

Simeon’s song of praise reveals God’s plan of redemption and salvation for His people, spoken of through the prophets:

“And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:5

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles.” Isaiah 42:6

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
    to restore the tribes of Jacob
    and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
    that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6


God reveals His glory in Jesus.

Jesus is our salvation!


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