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A few years back, I was on my lunch break from work when I passed a young man and woman standing at a very busy intersection with a sign asking for help.  The sign simply said, “Struggling family.  Please help.”  Something about this couple made it difficult to just pass them by…but I did anyway.
In order to have helped them,  I would’ve had to park my vehicle and walk across a median (in front of a lot of people driving by, might I add) to do so.  Plus, I was on a timed lunch break.  I was hungry and needed the break for it was a stressful day at work.  Besides, he was probably going to use it to buy drugs or alcohol.  Bringing the wife along (if she was really his wife) was just probably a ruse.  I imagined them counting their loot while laughing together at how well they suckered all those people.
At least, these were all the excuses I made so I wouldn’t have to stop.  However, I didn’t feel any of these were truly the case.  The young man didn’t look like a man trying to swindle people.  He looked discouraged…and desperate.  The young woman just looked embarrassed, like she didn’t want to be there.  I had a strong inclination to give them some money, but told myself all the above excuses…and drove on.
I parked and prepared to chill out and enjoy my lunch.  I couldn’t though because I kept seeing the man’s face.   And the inclination to help them out just kept getting stronger.  Then I heard that still small voice: “Go back and give them whatever you have in your wallet.”  I counted the cash I had on me, and it was only $13.  So I argued: “$13 is not much…how’s that really going to help them? What if he’s just trying to hoodoo people?  What if he’s just going to use it on drugs?”  I was answered with: “It’s not your concern what he does with the money.  Just go give him the money.”
So I put my sandwich down and drove back to the intersection.  I pulled into a hotel parking lot, walked across the grassy median, and gave him the $13.  He wouldn’t even look me in the eye.  He offered a mumbled, “thank you,” and I went back to my vehicle.  As I sat at that intersection to go back to work, he looked directly at me and mouthed “thank you” again.  I smiled and waved, drove back to work and cried my eyes out, while blubbering a prayer for him and his family.
What’s the point of this story?  Simply this: sometimes (maybe even all the time) God’s going to urge you to do something that’s out of your comfort zone.  It may not be convenient, and it may not make sense.  You may never know the outcome or how He used your obedient act of service in the life of that person.  But do it anyway.  You love Him by obeying His call to service, and you show love for your neighbor by serving them.  Then trust Him with the outcome.
~Alanna
Above all, love each other deeply, because lover covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

 

I Am Found

Posted: July 28, 2014 by Canvas Church in comfort, commitment, encouragement, inspire, Promise, relationship, Who am I

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Who Me?

Over the last 3 weeks, the God of the Universe has spoken to me so directly and so personally, that I legitimately started to doubt my sanity. The God, who at times seems as distant as the galaxy yet other times feels closer than the very skin I live in, spoke to me. Twice.

This came as a complete shock. My life and especially my home, are not two things that I would define as the holiest of holy places. Seriously, someone is always engaging in one of these things I am going to name and sometimes even simultaneously! Someone is usually crying, pooping, fighting, running, screaming, singing, laughing, dancing on a table, dancing on a siblings face, playing…you get my point. Living life. Living life loud, chaotic and unorganized.

Then our loving, Holy Father, stepped in and spoke.

As to show me, my life does matter. The mundane work I’m doing does count. He does have a place for me in His master design for pursuing humanity. If I will but tune my life, my work, my all to Him.

Now me being the stubborn, hard headed skeptic that I am, chalked this first encounter up to ‘That was totally just me. A selfish desire to pursue flesh…again!’ So he sent an affirmation. I again chalked it up to happenstance. He spoke again. He’s like, ‘Really?! Woman! Child of mine, it’s me, your Father. The one who wants you to abide in me and I in you. The one who wants to do good for you. That pursues you in my plan for Kingdom work. If you will but allow, I will permeate every crevice of your being and use every drop of your life.’

When God personally speaks to you, it puts a desire in your soul to pursue a life that will permit these types of encounters for the rest of your days. At least it has for me. He’s speaking to you today. Will you listen? Will you tune your life to His work? I want to! I challenge you to ask Him, seek Him, and pursue Him, as he is doing the same to you.

Philippians 2:13 – for it IS God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

 

Forever His,
~Kristy

#Encore: Life Is A Highway

Posted: July 24, 2014 by Canvas Church in #encore, Janean

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Welcome to the Rhapsody #Encore. On Fridays we will be reposting some of our readers most favorite posts.

Our first most read post goes to Life Is A Highway from Jan 2011

Life is a highway…and I want to ride it……all night long.

 

Life isn’t going the way I want it to right now. January is always a hard month for me. I’m inside more than what I would like. The challenges of being a single parent seem to be snowballing for me. I don’t have any resolutions. No goals for 2011. I don’t know what do to with me. This is hard. I like to have something to work towards. My year looks like a dark tunnel. My direction is staying put, but I’m ready to take off and head somewhere…..anywhere but here. I CAN’T CHANGE A THING IN MY SITUATION RIGHT NOW, BUT I CAN DO THIS.

Thank you, God that I’m warm and fed.

Thank you, God that I woke up this morning and was able to get up and stand on my own two feet.

Thank you, God, that my son is running, playing, and laughing as I’m typing this.

Thank you, God that I can run, laugh, and play too.

Thank you, God, that I can see, smell, touch, and taste my experiences be it good or bad.

Thank you, God that bombs aren’t being dropped in my front yard.

Thank you, God, that I have a job.

Thank you, God, that I can openly profess you.

Thank you, God, I have friends to push me, love me, carry me, and hold my banner up when I can’t.

Thank you, God, I sleep in peace.

Thank you, God, that I have been reconciled to you and that I didn’t have to pay for my sins. I will never live separate from you and, regardless of the way things seem right now, I have a future….a good future.

For all of you whose life isn’t going the way you want it to right now, remember this and hold fast to it, God is good and is in control. Circumstances are fleeting; His love and kindness are everlasting.

~Janean

The Kingdom Of God

Posted: July 23, 2014 by Canvas Church in Jerod, Jesus, vineyard, vision

Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added.”

Pastor Nick said it perfectly, “The Kingdom of God is anywhere that the rule and reign of Jesus is acknowledged and submitted to.”  The Kingdom of God is here with us, in us, among us.  It is now!!!  But still to come.

But, there’s a whole other kingdom we too often bow to…..the kingdom of darkness.  This is the kingdom that satan rules over.  This is the kingdom that creeps in and takes our lives without us even realizing it most of the time.  We think, “things are great, I go to church, give tithe, help people….I rock!!!”.  All the while God is wondering where are hearts are.

The scary thing for a lot of people is that there is no middle ground.  There’s no….almost there.  You are either submitted one….or the other.  You’re either living a life of worship and submission to God…..or you’re not.  You are either loving as we are called to do….or you’re not.  You’re either submitted to the Kingdom of God…..or the kingdom of darkness.

Where are you?

I love the illustration of diplomatic immunity.  What this means is that any diplomat or ambassador, when entering a foreign country, is not bound by the same laws.  If I, as an american, am traveling to Japan then I carry the laws and beliefs of my country with me.  Wherever I walk…is the United States.  Now as ambassador’s of The Kingdom it works the same way.  There is the kingdom of darkness that rules this world.  But, when we are submitted to Jesus we carry the Kingdom of God with us wherever we go.  Wherever we step the darkness is light.  Wherever we walk the enemy runs.  We are no longer bound by the darkness of the kingdom of satan.  We have the freedom of The Kingdom of God running through our veins.

The Kingdom of God is here!!

Where are you?

Ok, now…the Kingdom is yet to come.  Confused?  “But you said that the Kingdom of God is here”.  Pastor Nick spoke of this on Sunday talking about how we see things from a linear mindset.  Point A ends at point B and that’s that.  The Kingdom of God is HERE….the end.  Our little brains can’t comprehend the fact that the Kingdom of God is here but at the same time is still yet to come.  There will come a day when Jesus will return and the Kingdom of God will demolish the kingdom of satan and we will be free from that darkness once and for all.  The Kingdom of God is yet to come.

Lastly, Pastor Nick made the statement, “As Jesus taught the Kingdom it was shrouded by mystery”.

Maybe we’re not meant to just have it all figured out.  Maybe God wants us to continue to seek Him in this.  He wants us to continue to submit to HIS Kingdom.  It’s a choice we must make everyday.

Is the Kingdom of God foreign to you?

Or is it home?  Are you submerged in it?

Submit to Jesus and carry this Kingdom with you.

~ Jerod

Original Post on: jerod’s mind unraveled 

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Recently, the kids at Canvas returned home from youth camp and by the looks of the slideshow they must have a had great time! It was always like that when my girls went to church camp, as well. They adored camp, and when Tabitha was too old to attend, she became a leader so she could still be a part of it! They would come home completely animated by all of the shenanigans that took place, and not only that, but the telling of worship stories that changed their lives. As I sit here thinking about what a wonderful opportunity these young people have by attending church camp, I am reminded of my own days at camp….I hated it!!!

 

Hate is such a strong word, and if I could think of one stronger, I would use it instead. You see, from the time I was born until I was 19 years old, I went to a very strict church where you must lead a completely pious and boring life in order to please God. The women were to wear no makeup and their hair was to be a in a bun or a sensible style that never garnered any attention, and your attire must be very modest. I seriously thought as a child that being ugly was pleasing to God and a requirement to get into Heaven. There must be some back story here in order to understand my story. I’m recalling from beginning at age 12 when I was already a bit cynical, having been raised by a mother with dry humor and sarcasm. So this would be a good time to go get a glass of sweet tea or something because it’s going to be a bit lengthy.

 

Now, although this church was what’s called a “holiness” church, it was also dry as a gourd. Very rigid in keeping with the weekly program. No emotion…whatsoever. Oh wait, well there was my mother. Let me explain….even though this was the church we attended, we didn’t particularly go by their rules. My mother, back in her day, was quite a looker, even after birthing 7 kids! During the week she was just a regular looking mother, but on Sunday, or any other day that gave her reason to dress up, she did herself up real good. She would put on her makeup, although it wasn’t dramatic, fix her hair very stylishly, put on her girdle, (she never dressed up without it), put on clothes that she made look like they came out of a magazine, and blinged herself out before “blinged out” was ever coined as a term. My mother was by far the best looking and only “worldly looking” woman in that church…and ironically the ONLY one that ever shouted, except for an old lady who occasionally walked the aisles eyeballing any panic stricken parishioner who was slacking in their Godly duties and therefore was plucked from the pew for their yearly saving. And when my momma shouted, lord help if you were sitting close to her because it would send shock waves throughout your body if not forewarned. This was always followed by several repetitions of, “thank you, sweet Jesus”, and tears. I always thought it strange that my dressed up momma shouted and none of those very plain women ever did and they had to be closer to God because they were, well, plain and devout..

 

Well, because I was raised by a momma that didn’t follow that church code of moral piety, neither did us kids. We wore shorts and sleeveless shirts. Momma kept my hair bleached for the most part because she was sure that God didn’t really mean for me to be a dark blonde.

 

I digress, lets get to the tragic part. There was an old lady at my church that decided to pay my camp fees when I was 12 years old. The one time I was happy we were poor and this woman ruined it for me. My parents forced me to go because it was the polite thing to do since my way was paid. The only other girl going was in my Sunday school class and I didn’t like her. She was a spoiled and only child that made sure I saw her new clothes and shoes every Sunday. Momma told me though that she could wear all of the new clothes she wanted, but I was prettier and that was all that mattered. She told me that lots of times while growing up; it was her standard answer when I wanted something I couldn’t have. Anyway, this is what I had to look forward to…but it was sooooo much worse!

 

I was given a list of “absolutely can’t take to camp” and that included shorts and sleeveless shirts, makeup, and anything else that contributed to the snares of the devil. You know, all of the stuff I was used to having. I packed dresses, culottes, also referred to as gauchos, (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little recalling them), of which my parents had to buy me because they were awful and I didn’t own any. So I got all packed and off I went to what seemed to be a million miles away but was really only Friendsville. The whole time I’m thinking this must be how it feels heading off to prison for life. I had a knot of dread in my stomach 4 inches thick as I was dropped off and kicked out of the car while begging for a pardon, but it was useless, I must do my time.

 

My first instruction was to go to the girls dormitory, aka, child prison. I say this because the doors were actually bolted shut at night or any time we were not permitted to be there. The beds were metal bunk beds with thin hard cotton mattresses and the corners of the dorm were loaded with those “church spiders”. It was stifling hot and humid and there were no fans unless you brought your own, which I did not. I piled my things on a top bunk and turned to check out the adjacent bathroom. It was a row of concrete showers that were spray painted to cover the mold and it was the kind of paint that smells like a Chef Boyardee pizza. The mirrors were old and cloudy, but it wasn’t like you were going to need one anyway at this camp.

 

I decided to try and join in because I was stuck there for 5 nights so why not make the best of it, right? We had 3 services a day in the open air Tabernacle and when I say services I mean like regular church services, only longer. It was hot and sticky and lets face it, after about 30 minutes tops you’re going to lose a kid’s attention. The saving grace was the snack bar which served hamburgers, fries, drinks, and an assortment of sugary goodies. I would dream of that snack bar during service because our 3 meals a day were awful! Powdered eggs and powdered milk for one thing!  Ewww!

 

For entertainment we played softball in our gauchos and never with the boys. I can clearly recall those polyester clothes sticking to me in that miserable blazing heat and humidity. I was forced to play even though I despised it. If you wanted a drink you had to go all the way up the hill to the water fountain, as this was the 70’s, and bottled water didn’t exist. If I had found a hill of hateful fire ants, (those ants that are perpetually ticked off), I would have stomped it because being covered and consumed by them with their poison flooding my body causing swelling to unimaginable proportions with intense suffering, seemed a better option. I really wanted to go home!

 

On the second morning our dorm leader told us that we were going to make up a story using all of our names in it in a clever way and compete with the other dorm for best story.. Finally, something to stimulate my brain! Our leaders name was Dawn, so I suggested we started our story with, “At the crack of dawn”. In my defense, I meant the breaking of morning. However, by the glaring looks on everyone’s faces, I’m fairly sure they were thinking of the mid sagittal crease which separates each set of gluteous maximus’. For a fleeting moment, I imagined them carrying me off and tying me to a stake. Then forming a circle and using only that glare, cause me to be consumed by spontaneous combustion. Seemed a fitting way to go considering where they thought I was headed anyway. I was doomed for 3 more days…and it never got better.

 

Year two, same old lady paid my way; same old dreadful, hot, and miserable 5 nights.

 

With year three soon approaching, I wondered if there’s a chance the old lady might go on and be with Jesus, (ok, I really said die) and I wouldn’t have to go to camp. Nope! She lived. As I arrived at camp I had determined that I might as well just get it over with the best I could…at least they still had the snack bar. This time, I had also brought make up and defiantly wore it even as it melted in the summer haze. Then at service that evening, my eyes met a boy and there, within my despair, I felt a tiny spark of excitement! Only during a limited amount of free time were girls and boys permitted to be together so, that evening before dorm curfew, this handsome boy introduces himself to me as Richard Masters. He tells me I’m the prettiest girl at camp, (as I’m seeing all of the designer gauchos on other girls I think, my momma is right, I must be prettier), so Richard and I talk and he bought me a Coke. That night I silently prayed, thanking God for not letting that old lady that pays my way die because I’m pretty sure I’ve found my future husband. I daydreamed of Richard during the sweltering games of softball instead of being eaten alive by fire ants. Oh! How I longed for those brief moments of time when we shared a burger and coke!

 

The third night proved to be magical. Dorm curfew was called, but Richard and I lagged behind not wanting the evening to be over. As the grounds were cleared of stragglers and only the two of us remained, it happened. Richard told me he liked me a lot and kissed me flat out on the lips! It was brief and innocent and sweet. We both sort of looked at each other and shyly stepped back without saying a word. He turned and went towards his dorm and I floated back to mine. It felt as if my feet weren’t even on the ground until I entered the dorm and was met with an accusatory stare from Dawn. Gravity sent me crashing back to Earth. I got ready for bed without either of us speaking and climbed into my bunk. Had I been seen blatantly breaking the rules? Was Dawn just letting me think about what I’d done before telling on me? I already imagined old Christian women observing from the roof tops with stones in their hands ready to pelt a sinner at the slightest infraction.  I lay in bed half the night worried that there was going to be a stern-faced, devout woman with no makeup and her hair in a bun come drag me out into the night for a flogging because I dare let a boy kiss me! My heart pounded and my pulse raced at every creak and sound in the night, sweating not only from the miserable humidity, but also from a terrible case of nerves! Hadn’t I suffered enough?! Finally after 3 years I had a reason to want to STAY at camp!! I was happy when morning arrived and I had survived, but  I was still watchful..just in case.

 

I still shared time with Richard and was very smitten with him, but we never dared to chance another kiss. It was just too risky. The day we went home, I was sad to be leaving my new love. We promised to return the next year and for once I looked forward to camp.

 

As camp time was approaching I was now 15 and, in my opinion, far too mature to go to camp. But the old lady was still alive to pay my way and there was Richard to look forward to seeing…..but I needed a back up plan in case he didn’t show. I absolutely was not going to stay if he wasn’t there! Sure enough, Richard was not there. I was told he had moved away and my heart sank. I simply could not endure 5 nights there without Richard. Remember the back up plan? On the evening of day two, I put my plan into motion. I pulled out a cigarette I’d stolen from my sister and I lit it right smack dab in front of the Tabernacle!! If this didn’t get me sent home nothing would because, to my church, smoking was right on up there with capital murder! Practically unpardonable and rule number 3 if you wanted to “join” the church!

 

Soon I was on my way home and happy as could be! My church camp fate sealed and my freedom bought at a price I was more than willing to pay! After this, I wasn’t allowed to ever return and I didn’t care if I was in trouble. My daddy thought it was pretty imaginative and said he didn’t blame me because he knew I hated it, but momma would be mad because my way had been paid and what would people think of the stunt I pulled? I don’t really recall how my momma reacted, but I’m pretty sure she was ok with it. After all, we never played by their code of moral piety.

 

When my girls started going to camp I was a bit worried, but times had changed. Fun was now allowed as long as the shenanigans didn’t get too out of hand and the girls and boys stood at least a foot apart.  Kool aid in the shower heads, adding baby oil to the hair conditioner, water fights and games, and kid oriented worship that truly benefited my kids…Yeah, camp was different, for the different church I raised my girls in anyway, and I was happy that they loved going made such wonderful memories!

 

Hmmm…I think I’ll google Richard Masters.  :)

~ K.K.

The Attitude of Gratitude

Posted: July 18, 2014 by Canvas Church in comfort, encouragement, Faithfulness, Janean, thankful

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Gratitude is the acknowledgement of something good in one’s life. Gratitude is not an emotion, but instead gratitude can be a discipline at times.

I could give you a long list of the things I’m grateful for outward things that are apparent to most. I could equally give you a list of things that I’m not grateful for those inward things that only I and the Lord see. I’d rather not, though, it’s kind of boring and already done. To be honest, I find that expressing my gratitude in these things doesn’t really exemplify who my God is. We all have things to be grateful for, even the pagans.

Over the past year, I’ve really questioned the source of my gratitude. I found myself riding the waves of circumstances allowing them to toss my gratitude about. I’ve been delivered from troubles. I’ve been blessed. All these things have helped me be grateful until circumstances changed that caused me to be fearful and grumble. Over time, this has caused me to be what I call a tarnished Christian, not able to shine Christ’s light like I should.  Focusing on my hardships would not only lead me to draw inward, but killed any gratitude I could possess.

Another gratitude killer, one that particularly plagues me, is worry. For me worry is like a train. It’s big, heavy and cumbersome. The more it gains momentum; the harder it is to stop. I find myself getting so caught up by my fears of the worse that it takes focus away from what is at the present. Again, this has way too many times caused me to draw inward and not shine a light out to others.

A few mornings back, I had some real worries and was taking them to the Lord. His answer to me was to trust that in all things, He is faithful. This shift of focus, not only brought peace, but gave me another source of gratitude as well. I have begun to discipline my mind to instead of focusing on all my circumstances (good or bad) and worries, to dwell on His faithfulness which is constant. Circumstances come and go. Worries are fickle. But God is constant. He is good and just. He never changes or falters. Because of this, as long as I remain focused on Him and recognize that in Him I have everything, I’m able to remain in a constant state of gratefulness.

~Janean

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;  I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Psaln 57:9-10.

The Answer is No!

Posted: July 16, 2014 by Canvas Church in Angela, challenge, faith, grace

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There are days, as a mom, I could really pull my hair out. It can feel like pounding my head into a wall. Why are my children so stubborn?

 

I consider my daughters to be pretty smart. They are fairly responsible and I am known to brag on how incredible they are on numerous occasions. The word proud often falls off my tongue when I speak of them.

 

And then, there are days, the long, drawn out, difficult days. The ones when the timing is off. Everyone is cranky. Someone isn’t getting her way. A battle royal begins over the most simple of tasks or disagreements.

 

I know best. Why don’t they listen?

 

Why do I have to explain every decision, every “NO”?

 

I’m mom. I love them. I would sacrifice every part of my being for them. Do they not trust my heart? Do they not know that my NO is for their best interest, for their safety, for their future, for their now?

 

The answer is not going to change later. It’s not going to change after you ask me 50 times. It is just simply in their best interested that I say NO. Period. End of the discussion. Just, trust me.

 

God, Help Me!!

 

Grace!

 

Bold and beautiful are my daughters.  I am reminded that every ounce of their stubbornness is well earned and completely inherited.

 

How many times do I ask, waiting for the answer I want? How many ways do I say my requests? How many times do I push the line? How many days are stubborn, I-don’t-want-to-do-it-your-way days?

 

How many times have I been told NO?

 

How many times have I believed my own way was better? How many times have I chosen not to trust? How many times have I gone my own road, when the answer has very clearly been NO?

 

Grace!

 

Lamentations 3: 21-24 Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

 

Each day brings new hope, for me and for my girls. I may not know what to say. My hair may turn grey and I will earn the wrinkles on my brow. But, each day is a new day. And above any lesson I may teach, I pray they know that even when the answer is NO, and when there doesn’t seem to be an explanation, they are loved abundantly, graciously and mercifully.

 

And may we all learn to trust a little greater, even when the answer is NO.  Often times the answer we need is better than the answer we want.

~Angela

Help Needed

Posted: July 14, 2014 by Canvas Church in Alanna, battles, community, hope, Insecurity, intimacy, love, testimony, trust, truth

cordI attended the Canvas Women’s retreat recently, and I went into it with an open but heavy heart.  The details of what was weighing on me are not important, except the fact that I was carrying some hefty burdens and trying to do it all on my own.  It wasn’t until the retreat that I realized…I can’t do it alone.

Herein lies the problem though:  I have a hard time asking for help.  I don’t like to ask for help.  I do sometimes but only when absolutely necessary.  I don’t criticize others for asking for help–I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with it.  I just don’t like to do it myself.  I prefer to be the strong person that helps other people, not the one that has weaknesses and needs help.  It’s a strange concoction of pride, shame, and fear that makes me this way, I suppose–pride in my own strength; shame in my own weakness; and fear of rejection or judgment.  One can only continue like this for so long before exhaustion and isolation sets in.

Thankfully, through the words and prayers of some amazing women, God made me realize that it is perfectly okay to ask for help in carrying my burdens; in fact, it’s essential at times.  It’s okay that I can’t do it all by myself.  There’s absolutely no shame in being weak and needing help.  And those who are in Christ and truly love and care about me, are not going to reject me or judge me for needing their help.

The fact is, God did not create us to be loners or self-sufficient.  He created Eve for Adam and not just for procreation purposes.  He knew that man should not be alone, that he needed to have someone alongside him to help him.  And as members of the body of Christ, as soldiers in the same “army,” we are supposed to give and receive help from one another.  How can the body function properly or the army gain victory if each individual is working completely independent of the others?  We need each other…period.

I would like to close by expressing the deep and sincere gratitude I have for those women who prayed for, encouraged, uplifted, and loved on me.  Though I may not have opened up, their words and actions were not wasted–they did have an impact on me.  God is using them to work in me, and I am so very thankful for those ladies and their loving hearts!

~Alanna

 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

A Twig Or Two

Posted: July 11, 2014 by Canvas Church in Ashleigh, belief, faith, Faithfulness, serve, spiritual

WAMH TwigIn May, we had our annual women’s retreat for Canvas. All the leaders had worked for months to get everything ready. We had arrived at the retreat center, Long View Ranch, and we more or less had everything ready and were anxiously waiting on the ladies to arrive.

I wanted to know what my purpose was for this retreat. I had an odd feeling that I really wasn’t sure what to do on this retreat. I was one of the small group leaders, but I wanted to hear from God as to what He wanted me to focus in on for this weekend. I decided to get alone and pray.

It was easy to worship God in this environment. Beautiful mountain-view, great weather. I sat down on a log bench and stared out across the field at the sun hitting the mountain side. I worshipped my Creator. Then I asked Him what my purpose was on this retreat.

Right after I asked, I looked down. You can see, in the picture above, what I saw. There were two pieces of twig sitting in the shape of a cross. The sun was shining under the bench and directly on this little cross.

God spoke to me through the Spirit and told me to focus on Him, and the gracious gift He gave me on the cross, and He would take care of the rest. I felt immediate peace.

It is amazing how something so simple, can put my mind at ease. I stayed there for a bit and rested in His presence. I worshipped Him just for who He is.

~Ashleigh

Matthew 6:33  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Philippians 4:5b-7 The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

At His Feet

Posted: July 9, 2014 by Canvas Church in Be Still, faith, identity, Janean, journey, path, perspective, pleasing

luke-10Forgive me for being redundant all over again. Last month, I wrote about reverting the focus off of our activities and returning them back onto Christ. Quite a bit of time back, I wrote a blog about what I like to describe as The Martha Syndrome. Maybe I’m back on this subject because someone is needing to read this and get the freedom from it, but I think mostly this is a season that I’m going through in my own life. Most Christians know very well the story of Martha and Mary, so I will not, for the sake of brevity, repeat it here. If you would like to read it, though, it can be found in Luke 10:38-42.

 

I can sympathize the most with Martha. I get focused on the tasks at hand. My love and devotion to God is unquestionable; it is a catalyst for my service, but it always seems to be some point where my focus shifts. The work takes precedence. I take the burden on my shoulders and “if I don’t do it, no one else will.”I begin to place my worth on what I am accomplishing (or trying to accomplishing). I end up worried, tired, and deprived just like how I’m sure Martha was feeling at that time. In fact, I don’t blame her at all for being peeved at Mary. When I read that scripture, there is a part of me that’s saying to Mary “Get up off you’re backside and help!”No joke, I get irritated at Mary too even though all of that happened way before I was just a twinkle in my Momma’s eye.

 

I’m sure it must have been hard for Martha to swallow when it was she, not Mary, that was rebuked. I can just imagine the pain and the tightening of the throat that she must have had to do to choke back the tears. It doesn’t say whether or not she stopped what she was doing to join Mary or if she went back, hurt, remaining devoted to her duty instead of heeding her Lord’s words and just falling at His feet. My guess is on the latter only because, being honest with myself, that is what I probably would have done. My devotion to duty often is more of a manifestation of my flesh than it is of my spirit. The world tells that if we are worthy, responsible citizens, we live insanely busy lives. Our identity has become wrapped up in what we do for Christ instead of who we are in Christ.

 

Just like Martha, we can learn a lot from Mary. Mary knew the priority. As David Hoffeditz puts it in his book, They Were Single Too, “Mary’s focus rested upon the eternal, while Martha’s was on the temporal.”Mary’s act was sacrificial. She probably knew all too well what people would think of her as she remained at Jesus’feet instead of serving. My guess is people did talk, but the worry of what others thought could not compare to the rest and renewal found in being at her Savior’s feet.

 “The burden of our limitations or the unrealistic view of ourselves and our contributions will fade when we rest in Him.”- Hoffeditz.

There is freedom in this! Most of us do not intentionally become over worked, stressed, and burdened. Nor do I believe we do so out of pride, but because we have never been told that we have the permission and freedom to just rest at His feet. There is a time to act and there is a time to serve. Having to work is a good thing so please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. But as we live in a time where our culture screams for us to be busy and it screams even louder when it comes to serving in the church, we need to take from this that we have the free license to seek and dwell in Him with reckless abandonment. We are called to act, but spending time with Him and abiding in Christ has to come first before we could ever act effectively. “Seek first His kingdom…”, the first step of this is seeking the one and only Him, the one who reigns over it.

 

If I’ve made this sound just that easy. I apologize, I don’t mean to. For most of us, if we’re honest, time with God is the first to go when our schedule gets busy. A question to ask yourself is, does spending time with God feel like it’s just one more thing you have to do? If you’re like me, sometimes it is. You’re not alone, but it is a strong indication of overload and misplaced focus. Sometimes it takes a reconditioning of the heart, not something we can do ourselves, but God can and will for the asking. If we will just, fall down at His feet.