Here a Heart, There a Heart, Everywhere Hearts !

February brings romance and CHD awareness!

Congenital Heart Defects awareness is the week leading up to Valentines Day, February 7 – 14.  It occurs annually with the sole purpose of educating the public. CHD is considered to be the most common birth defect, and is a leading cause of birth-defect related deaths worldwide. Nearly 1 of every 100 babies are born with a CHD. There is estimated nearly 2,000,000 CHD survivors in the United States.

And this may surprise you – twice as many children die from congenital heart defects each year than from all forms of childhood cancers combined. Despite the fact that CHD affects approximately 1.8 millions families in the U.S.,  a relatively small amount of funding is currently available for parent/patient educational services, research, and support.

Did it surprise you? Well it did me…until it happened in my family. Isn’t that the way it is? There isn’t just one defect and to be honest I can only tell you with any knowledge about the one that affected us. It’s sad to admit that but it’s the truth.

My grandson was born with HLHS – hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. Families who have children with CHDs are thrust into a world of medical terminology, invasive surgery and days in a hospital where they do not know what to expect next.

Become aware. Respond. Support. Open your heart and love….it’s the month of both!

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Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there was a little girl who felt very misunderstood and actually unsure of who loved her. She longed for a pet, a very specific pet. Alas, pets came & went but none were this pet. Of course she loved each of them and something in her died when she lost each one. Someone else chose each because of whatever reason they had and she accepted each. It seems it was not meant for her to have a four legged friend very long for something always happened to them.

Somewhere in the distance there was this hissing whisper, “you are not worthy of your dreams, you’re not worthy”. She did not know her accuser but what she heard felt true, had she ever had the special pet she wanted, had they lived or remained with her very long? So, deep inside she believed…believed she was second best and what she deserved was too.

A perception was born, a foundation laid. This become woven in the fabric of who she was, unnoticed because of her acceptance. She stopped dreaming, in all areas giving preference to others, enabling their dreams to the extent of her ability.

One day she found her pet…the specific one she had always wanted! Happiness wrapped its arms around her. Oh, how lucky she was! She couldn’t believe it!

They lived together one year and then he died.

Hiss, you’re not worthy, hiss, came the whisper again. She listened. Again, it came. It was familiar, it seemed to ring true.  Ah, but this time she knew who her accuser was and the nature of the lies he spoke. Each hiss brought forth the lies woven in her being. But now instead of validating the recurring lie, it was met with truth! Truth! She was loved by her heavenly Father, chosen by Him!

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.  John 15:16

Chosen!! Not discarded. Not forgotten. Loved and selected by the King! The Giver of good gifts!

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

No more lies. They make come but they will not be believed. She knows she is loved and her heart is full of praise and delight in His presence!

Goodbye Snoopy,  my friend.  January 29, 2013

So clever & fun! Our ability to create is a reflection of our Creator…a glimpse of how He can take something and make it something else. Just like ashes that somehow in His hands become something BEAUTIFUL!
Enjoy.

hovercraftdoggy

hand painting illusion art photography artist illustration paint craft optical illusion ad campaign creative painting amazing body hand painting 3d drawinghand painting illusion art photography artist illustration paint craft optical illusion ad campaign creative painting amazing body hand painting 3d drawing

hand painting illusion art photography artist illustration paint craft optical illusion ad campaign creative painting amazing body hand painting 3d drawinghand painting illusion art photography artist illustration paint craft optical illusion ad campaign creative painting amazing body hand painting 3d drawinghand painting illusion art photography artist illustration paint craft optical illusion ad campaign creative painting amazing body hand painting 3d drawinghand painting illusion art photography artist illustration paint craft optical illusion ad campaign creative painting amazing body hand painting 3d drawing

Hand Painting Illusions by Annie Ralli

/// These are only some of the stunning hand painting illusions created by body painter Annie Ralli and photographer Ray Massey. Their creations range from architectural images, to sports and many other every day objects. Commissioned for an advertising campaign, the works go ‘hand in hand’ with the campaign slogan: “You’re in good hands” .. We agree!

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You Collect What? Part 2

I fell in love with bears…Boyd’s Bears to be exact. I examined each one, admiring the detail, so thrilled! Have you seen these bears? Each tiny line giving me so much delight. And, the added hunt for the paw print hidden on each one! So much fun!! I’d run to the store in anticipation of new releases.

My collection contained many 1st additions! AND, I was a FOB (Friend of Boyd’s)! My membership gave me special releases – not found in stores.

I knew where each was in my house and their names. I could shop without fear of duplication because I knew them so well.

These figurines were treasures to me. The value I put upon them immense.

One day I yelled at my boys because they broke one. One day I looked at them and saw dollar signs and souls that didn’t know their Lord. Tears fell as I fell out of love. My prized collection became things. Things? Wasn’t that what they were to begin with?

I’m not saying collecting is bad. I am saying to my extent was. But, there’s something more….

If I with evil all around me, I with a wicked heart, could take such pleasure in my collection….oh, what joy God takes in us, in you, in me!!! As I was reminiscing about the collection I no longer have, it was this whispering in my heart – ‘I love you little one! I trace every line with my finger, I count the hairs on your head, I know your name and exactly where you are, you are my masterpiece, I delight in you!’

Wow, I like it on the other side of collecting……

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

You Collect What?

My first response to this might be ‘Dust’ 🙂 Yes, I am a collector and that is about what it amounts to!

Let me start by saying I am a hoarder too. Yuck, did I just make that known? That’s what happens when you collect everything and develop emotional attachments to it. My first collections were things that belonged to family members, mostly those who had died. Some of those things had particular memories attached to it but many were just because they belonged to people I loved. This is a two edge sword honed from insecurity. Those who I knew loved me back on one side and those who I wasn’t sure of on the other. Now, all these people loved me – in the ways they were capable; it’s insecurity that lavished meaning upon these objects. I longed deep inside for relationship – that is how we were made – and somewhere, I guess, that got too scary and things become my filler.

I filled a 3 story house to it’s limit. Don’t have visions of those hoarders on TV! Trash did go out….well, most of it 🙂 It was hard to throw out magazines and newspapers collected until I had time to read them and then they went out. Do you ever look at something and instead of judging (which makes us feel better about ourselves, right?), you find yourself wondering ‘did they begin like me?’ or ‘how long before that would become me?’ Anyway, get piles of trash and climbing over them out of your heads – it wasn’t like that. I’m a display-er. Nice arrangements everywhere! Most people found my home to be ‘cozy’ and ‘comfortable’. I made others feel welcome but I think that is because my home reflected me and they were there because they liked me.

To maintain lots of stuff is work!! When our lives are running smoothly it’s one thing but if anything gets out of kilter, well, then it’s like a landslide! It just doesn’t make for an orderly home…

How I got freed from my belongings is another story and yet one still in progress. That’s not what I want to talk about right now. I had a very special collection…one that I loved! It was an intentional one, not one handed down. It’s this story I want to share. Come back tomorrow.

Unopened Gifts

Do you have any? No? Are you sure?

The time from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s zips by. Activities increase and fellowship goes into turbo drive. How many people did you see during these last 41 days? Shopping? and did you shop? Is it any wonder that many are exhausted, or depressed, or disappointed? If not caught up in this frenzy then something ‘feels’ wrong, missing. Really? that chaos is something worth missing?

Can we feel grateful, really thankful, if we’ve over extended ourselves? For me, it grates on me – physically as well as emotionally. Instead of baked with love it’s more like with pressure and pain. Not cool.

Let the Christmas list begin….who am I buying for, what am I getting them, did I leave anyone out? Parties – let the parties begin. Oh, and the decorating, and the cookie baking (or in my case, candy making). Shopping,and partying, and decorating, oh my! Cleaning, and baking, and working, oh my! Husband, and children, and family, oh my! Oh My!

Out with the old, in with the new! Phew!

Where did I begin? oh, yeah – unopened presents.

Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23

A new gift……….every morning.

 Slow down, open your gift.

“He sees you when…..”

Can you finish the title? At this time of year?!?—- it’s a shoo in!

“He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake”

I couldn’t even count how many times I’ve heard or said “Santa’s watching”. Seriously, I’m supposed to be good? Because Santa’s watching?? Hmm, the promise of presents OR the lack of them…

I don’t remember if it had the desired effect on me, nor do I remember if it did with my children. Without thinking, instilling receiving and not giving of Christmas.

You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from You. Psalm 69:5

We need to know El Roi – The God Who Sees! He sees!

Just knowing that has always brought me so much comfort. I’m not sure it would if I didn’t know Him as Sovereign, as Merciful, as Loving. Otherwise I might just feel condemned, judged, and without hope – because I know how sinful I behave in spite of my good intentions!

Should it encourage us ‘to be good’ when we know we’re being watched? Well, I believe we do act accordingly when we think someone is watching.

 ‘what will he/she think of me?

“he sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake; he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!”

If we could just take our worries over what people think or our preoccupation with appearances and grasp the God of heaven does see us, our behaviors & attitudes would change. Conviction would pave the way and our hearts would become kinder, less entitled, and more giving!

God sees you & me when we’re sleeping and He knows when we’re awake!

I Will Never Leave You

I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5

What does one do when they feel forsaken, forgotten? Questions scream louder than the thoughts in one’s head, ricocheting off the broken pieces of the heart. Why? WHY? Where are you God?

The world cries with Newtown, Connecticut.

Where are you God?

Each child precious, each adult endearing. Gone.

Where are you God?

In the midst of the tears He whispers ‘I am here‘. His own heart breaking with ours.  “I. Will. Never. Leave. You. Nor. Forsake. You.”

Evil exists. I am with you.

Pain penetrates. I will comfort you.

Strength fades. I will carry you.

Now is the time to remind ourselves, to remind others, of God’s attributes. He is faithful, He is merciful, He is the Prince of Peace, He is the Redeemer, He is the Restorer, He is the Provider, He is the Comforter, He is Strength, He is good, He is loving. Whatever we need, He can and will supply.

One day at a time. One step at a time.

Happy Thanksgiving

I have much to be thankful for; Americans have much for which to be thankful! I was reminded of something that I normally don’t think about – one of those things we take for granted until it’s gone.

Electricity…flip a switch, turn on the water (yeah, I don’t think about this one either but there’s a pump…), and we do what we want, when we want.

Yesterday at 5 pm our electricity went out. No apparent reason. Thanksgiving eve. 🙂 Just when all the prep begins, cold stuff that needs chilling assembled. Everything came to a halt. It was off until 11:30 pm….

I have sleep apnea. No machine, no air. My O2 sats drops to 83 without it; my throat still hurts and so does my head! Yes, I have much to be thankful for.

At 3:40 am I rolled out of bed. Started again with assembling Thanksgiving goodies….electricity, off again. This roller coaster continued until daylight (around 7 am here). This is a daily existence in Africa. Power is not something that stays on. Power is not something you count on. Power is precious and they are thankful when they have it.

We are blessed in this nation by many, many things that others appreciate as if given things valuable, worth indescribable!

Bibles are another such luxury. New Christians, when given bibles in places where there are none, will hung their longed for bible, kiss them with tears streaming down their faces.

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. Psalm 42:1

It takes getting outside of who we are to really see how precious our gifts are.

I am thankful, too, for each of you – whether you are a regular reader or just happened to drop by today. Thank you. Its an amazing thing to link together like this, don’t you think? Let’s be aware of all our gifts today….especially each other!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Sleeping Giant

I have had the pleasure of getting to know and hearing preach a dear brother from Africa. Africa is one of the places I witness God’s plan of bringing forth beauty from ashes.

Pastor Chris spoke of miracles matter-a-fact…a retelling of common occurrences. Not unusual, normal. I’m talking read in the Bible kind of miracles – normal.

Now, I ask you, church, is this your experience? Are we in America experiencing that kind of encounters frequently with God?  

 And Peter opened his mouth and said: Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand that God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons…Acts 10:344  (Do you hear “It is no secret what God can do! What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you! With arms wide open, He’ll carry you through! It is no secret what God can do!”?)

This should be our normal too! We have so much comfort & freedom here I am afraid we are the sleeping giant. We depend on our devices and programs far more often than we do God. I’m not saying our programs are bad; we just operate on what we can do rather than what God can do. Let’s get over our methods & cry out to God as if our lives depended on it! We can expect miracles when we expect Him to act on our behalf. It’s not so much what we do, it’s what He does! Our part? Surrender and relationship with the One who created us.

Another truth Chris spoke, ‘we need to get over thinking we are fighting for God – it is He who fights for us’! The Spirit inside me did cartwheels when I heard that! Isn’t that what Moses did, Joshua did, Gideon, and many others did? ! And, what happened in Judges when the Israelites started doing what was right in their own eyes?

Lord, help us to lean on You, depend on You, call on Your name! We need You desperately! Reveal where we depend on ourselves and may we be quick to repent. You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow AND what you have done, are doing, and will do for others You WILL do for us. Move on our behalf. We need miracles here….wake us up! For Your honor, Your glory, and the display of Your power. Amen and amen.