I've Moved!

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

more than i deserve

Toy trucks in the already-too-small bathroom, blocking the way to the sink.

The washer is off balance.  Again.

I sit on the floor because I don't have enough room for a real desk.

I have to use 'the trick' to get the car to start sometimes, because its old.

Complaints.  Grumbles.  Longings for things to be more.  For things to get better.  Bigger.  Faster.  Smoother.  Cleaner.  Nicer.

Then I stop.  I consider.  And I realize.

What I have is already more than I deserve.

I realize: my grumbles are more than mere complaints.

They are, in fact, the very core of sin itself. Sin is what I do when I am dissatisfied with God.

I was dead.  As a result of the utter depravity, the carnal sin that ravages the depths of my very being, I was unable to do any good.  Unable to choose good.  Unable to try to earn my way to heaven.  Because I was dead.

I deserved the fires.  I deserved eternal torment.  I deserved for the floor to open up and swallow me whole.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." ~Ephesians 2:4-7

Do you see it?  I deserved to die.

If God had left me there, dead, destined for an eternity of torment, it would have been fully within His just, holy, and (even yes) loving right.  If He had been obligated, if I had done anything to deserve His love and mercy, then it wouldn't be mercy anymore.  It would be what was expected.

I deserve hell.  But He, because of Jesus, had mercy on me. Has mercy on the entire human race.

Every breath you take.  Every beat of your heart.  Every morning that you wake up.  Mercy.

If I sleep on a park bench.  It is by His mercy.  It is His gift that I am sleeping, breathing, heart beating, and that that park bench is stabilized by gravity, safely on the ground.

My little brothers have trucks to play with, by His mercy.

I actually have a bathroom--two in fact! By His mercy.

That washer goes off balance with almost every load, but by His mercy it still cleans the clothes.

That old car may have trouble starting, but by His mercy it still plugs along.

I sit on this floor, typing this blog post, thanking Him that by His mercy it's here for me to sit on.

How could I complain when He has already given me more than I deserve?

Now, I forget.  Oh, so often I forget and complain.  I grumble.  I whine.  I mumble.

Yes!  Against the King of the Universe I complain about His gifts!  I should be severely punished for such a crime!

Then, He, in His mercy, again speaks to my heart, reminding me again of His precious gifts that I so often take for granted.  Again, mercy.  Again.

He is so patient.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

{Trim Healthy Girl} the skeptic's brownie recipe

This recipe has moved! Click HERE to see this recipe on my new blog!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} conclusion

1. Pray

2. Pinterest

3. Music

4. Learn from the Masters

5. RUN!

6. Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed the series so far!  My apologies in not having finished this up yet! You know that I'm about to give some ridiculous excuse like I've been too busy or something, so I'm going to spare you of it this time ;-)

(And I apologize for the lack of graphic today.  I have been doing some geeky stuff with my operating system and have yet to load Photoshop back up, so I couldn't make the Part 6 graphic. :P)

So far, in our inspire me series, we've talked about ideas for getting our creative juices flowing.  We've talked about the spiritual aspect, asking God to infuse us with His divine creativity.  We've talked about the visual side, finding inspiration in the oh-so-distracting image prompts on Pinterest.  We've talked about drawing creative inspiration from different types of music, also from observing the excellence found in the various arts, and finally even exercising!

I know that this is not an exhaustive list. In fact, I could probably go on and on listing all of the ways that could possibly spark some sort of creative fire in your heart.  But for the sake of length and time, I figure that this series is ready to be drawn to a close.

As a closing thought, I would like to remind us all of the purpose behind our creativity.  Why do we do what we do?  Why do we create?  Why do we write?  Play music?  Draw, sketch, paint?

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. ~Colossians 3:17

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." ~Matthew 5:16

Let us not forget Who we are creating for.  Let us not forget our divine purpose here on this earth is to bring Him glory in all that we do--especially in the arts!  May we be fueled by His passion, intoxicated with His love, so much so that it naturally overflows into our art.  May our hearts be steered toward evangelism, in that our art cannot help but proclaim His glorious Gospel!

To conclude, here are a few more random snippets and lists that I found fun and could prove helpful in your pursuit of creative inspiration.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part five

1. Pray

2. Pinterest

3. Music

4. Learn from the Masters

5. RUN!

I hope you've been enjoying the series so far!  If you have not yet read the previous posts, feel free to check them out!  :-)

Okay, so today's suggestion sound maybe a little...unconventional...but in truth I have found it to be an extremely valuable activity for the body as well as the creative mind!

Any type of exercise that gets your heart pumping spikes your energy, releasing endorphins in your brain and helps you to think more clearly and creatively!  A quick search on the internet reveals the multiple tests that have been done by neuroscientists that have proven how regular exercise can cause your creativity levels to soar.

When running, you're also getting out of your workspace which helps tremendously when you're stuck in a rut.

I enjoy listening to music or a sermon when I go running, sometimes I pray (okay, a lot of times, like when I'm in the middle of a sprint and feel like I'm going to die :P).  It helps so much to clear my head and to help me focus on the next thing.

The feeling on the sunshine on my skin, my heart pumping wildly in my chest--it makes me feel so alive!  It exhilarates me, excites me about life, encourages me to 'take the next step' and keep moving.  Moving towards that goal, the prize!

"...forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  ~Philippians 2:13b-14

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  ~Hebrews 12:1-2

This is one of my favorite songs to run to ;)

Do you exercise to boost your creativity?  What is your favorite way to get the blood pumping, creative juices flowing?

I'd love to hear your ideas!  Feel free to leave a comment and be on the lookout for part six coming soon!  :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part four

1. Pray

2. Pinterest

3. Music

4. Learn from the Masters

When I was little, I knew I wanted to be a writer.  I'm not sure that I necessarily had a knack for it, but I desperately wanted to do it.  I loved books.  Wait, no... I loved books.  I loved words.  I loved how words worked together to form thoughts.  I loved how some were stronger than others, and when certain sequences were created, I could be transported anywhere: to another planet, another world, another time in history, another way of life, another person's mind...  the thought of it excited me; and I wanted to take part in this mysterious, beautiful craft.

As I consumed books at an alarming rate; learning new words, understanding certain sequences, punctuation, literary devices (If you ask my mom, almost everything that I know about the English language I did not learn from my school textbooks, though I did them anyway. :P), character development and so much more, observation and passion for words was my teacher.

Even now as I read some of my favorite works, books filled with rich character development, excellence in description, choice wording--it sets my creative heart on fire.  I want to be a part of that!

I believe it is the same any time that we observe excellence in any area of art.  If it be music, listen to the finest.  If it be painting, feast your eyes on only the best.  Research, read, listen, observe--fill your mind with excellence!

The Bible gives us a standard for our work, 

"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks through Him to God the Father."  ~Colossians 3:17

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, 
do all to the glory of God."  ~1 Corinthians 10:31

God has called us to represent Him here on the earth--we are to bring His glory in everything that we do! Whether it be the exciting mode of art or even just mundane routine of doing your chores in the morning, He calls us to His glory and excellence in everything that we do!

Praise be to God that there have been those gone before to pave a way for us and show us what excellence looks like!  Don't let their work be in vain; consume it, treasure it, enjoy it, then allow it to fuel your creative fire to go and multiply it.

Be blessed, I apologize for the delay in posting!  :-)

Friday, July 11, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part three

1. Pray

2. Pinterest

3. Music

...from movie soundtracks to your favorite band, sometimes a mood or a single line from a song can inspire a story, or a character quality, or most importantly, just whatever element that it is that will help you jump over that creative blockage!

Oftentimes, I'll be listening to the radio and a song will come on with just one single line that will spark an entire story idea.  I love Spotify for this...it has so much available to listen to for completely free--I could listen to music for hours and hours...the different concepts presented in the songs provide awesome material for story points or characterization.

Songs like:

...just to name a few.  But I often find that it can be just a single line from a song that will inspire a whole concept for me.  Like for this last song, I just adored the line, "...the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair..."

Another idea is to use movie soundtracks for different moods in your writing.

Sad scene?  Try some soft, minor keyed songs.

Action scene?  Some fast paced, exciting sounds.

Some favorite soundtracks are:

...and this is by no means an exhaustive list, obviously!

I would encourage you to explore music with inspiration in mind.  Grooveshark and Spotify are fantastic resources to listen to tons of music for free--although, I must advise caution with the ads if you do not have the premium accounts for these sites.

Some other great options for finding new music would be Pandora Radio and iTunes radio.  Put in your 'mood song' and let the station do the searching for you!

Hope you're enjoying the series so far!

How do you find inspiration?  
I'd love to hear about it!

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out parts one and two, and be on the lookout for part four!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part two

(If you haven't read it yet, be sure to read 'Part One'!)

...alright, where were we? 

2. Pinterest

If you're female, and have any sort of teeny tiny creative bone in your body, chances are you must have a Pinterest account. (To be clear, it's not that Pinterest is solely for females, but just that the majority of females have Pinterest accounts, lol!) I know that I adore mine.  I have found so many neat ideas--things I probably never would have thought of myself!

Visit Amy's profile on Pinterest.

Follow Amy's board {I Heart} Inspiration on Pinterest.

Follow Amy's board {Stories} Writing Prompts on Pinterest.

Now, I will admit...I've probably gotten carried away...with the amount of boards that I have...on Pinterest (seriously, I need everything categorized to be able to find things--can you blame me?)...

Pinterest is an excellent source for inspiration, for tutorials on various projects, and tips and ideas for TONS of different projects... I have found so much visual inspiration by browsing various boards for writing prompts.  There are boards with awesome quotes...

Follow Amy's board {I Heart} Words on Pinterest.

For writers, there are lots of great boards filled with characterization boards with some fabulous ideas that may spark a story...

Follow Amy's board {Stories} Characters on Pinterest.

Photos of amazing settings can make your imagination run wild...

Follow Amy's board {Stories} Settings Inspiration on Pinterest.

And some pictures have a thousand words, waiting to be written...

Follow Amy's board {Stories} Inspiration on Pinterest.

Tip! One of my favorite exercises for fighting my writer's block is as I'm browsing Pinterest, to grab a bunch of pins and put them in a Word doc.  Then, underneath each photo, write whatever comes to my head, even if it's just a sentence.  Then move on to the next one and so on.  It helps to keep the creative juices flowing, and to at least keep writing even if it's not a full fledged project.

So there you go!  I must now offer a formal apology for all of the time that you are about to spend on Pinterest looking at inspirational boards...honestly, it can be addicting, lol!  But in all seriousness, do be careful not to let the pursuit of inspiration slow you down from just sitting down and doing it.  (I say all of this because I've had my own struggles of getting on for a 'quick dose of inspiration' before I write, only to end up not having time to write at all!)

Keep writing, keep creating!  Use Pinterest as a tool, and don't let it get the better of you.  ;-)

Anyway, I hope you're enjoying the series!  
What do you do for inspiration?  
I'd love to hear about it and may even add it to my list!  

Be on the lookout for part three coming up soon...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part one

I'd venture to say, whether you're an artist, a writer, a musician, a seamstress, a designer...a creator, you have experienced Creative's Block at some point in your journey.

We've all been there.  That dry, disinterested path.  No inspiration, no direction.  It's downright awful!

In my own journey as a creative, I have discovered a few things that help to get the creative juices flowing again, and I thought that I'd share them with you!

The first one is so simple...yet so easy to forget.  I find myself forgetting this in my art as a writer all the time.

1. Pray

All right, so it sounds too obvious, and maybe even like a cop-out for the first in this series.  But it is my belief that this element is so important, and so often overlooked!

There are a couple reasons:

  • God is the Ultimate Artist.  He wrote the first story (not to mention the story of eternity), He taught the birds how to sing, He painted the first sunset, He sculpted the first human...He even made the first clothes!  When you are looking to learn more about a craft, you go to those that have the most experience to learn and be taught by them.  God promises that He is always listening, and is always ready to bless those with wisdom that ask (James 1:5).

  • What if God is trying to get your attention?  What if He has an incredible piece that He has for you to create, and He needs you to be totally focused on Him to do it?  Seek Him, read His Word (I always tend to get great story ideas when I read the Proverbs, just fyi! LOL), ask Him what He would have you to be focusing on right now.  

Isn't that what we are here for?  To bring Him glory and honor with the fruit of our hands?

Ask Him what is next, what would bring Him the most glory.  Implore Him for divine inspiration.

And then, wait.  (That's the hardest part--ask me how I know.)

Sometimes God gives us times of dryness as a part of the journey.  A time to be quiet and listen.  A time to just pray and seek His glory.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..."
~Ecclesiastes 3:1

In the meantime, don't stop practicing.  You may not have a 'great idea' right now, but keep honing your skills for when you do!  It is crucial to stay on your game, to keep learning, to keep practicing.

When inspiration arrives, you want to be ready.

I hope you enjoyed the first part in this series!  Stay tuned for part two coming soon...

Monday, July 7, 2014

a crucifixion type love

Try to watch this video without getting goosebumps.  I dare you.

Go ahead.  I'll wait.

"...a love that would make angels wish that they were in our shoes..."

Wow.  Just...  Wow.

I watch that video, and I think of the relationship between lovers, as the video relates.  The relationship between Christ and His Church, His Bride, His Beloved.

Then I think of my own relationship with His Church.  My brothers.  My sisters.

How much more shall I die to myself in loving them?  
How much more when I spread my arms to embrace a dear fellow believer... 
How much more with that crown of thorns upon my head, surrendering my thoughts, my time, my ambitions, for the interest of my sister or brother...
How much more shall I give my back to be beaten, to carry the burden of my dear believer?

The picture of marriage, and the relationship between lovers is such an immaculate, beautiful representation of the sacrificial love with which He first loved us.

But then He calls us to go and do the same.

The love that sets us apart. 
"...a love that makes God get up and dance around his throne every time he sets his eyes on us..."
"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."  ~1 John 4:9-11

Saturday, July 5, 2014

immodesty is...insecurity?

I just listened to this short thought by John Piper on the topic of modesty, and posted this little (okay, lengthy) dissertation on a thought that I had on Facebook, and I thought I'd share with you all:

Before we can even DISCUSS the guidelines and boundaries of modesty, you must understand just how absolutely, totally, and truly you are loved by Jesus...is He your treasure? Is He your pursuit of happiness and joy? Do you really, truly, honestly realize what a treasure you are to Him? Is it Him you're looking to please, or others?

Girls, you are worth so much more. Modesty isn't just an attitude or a way of dressing, it's realizing your IDENTITY. It's realizing that you are SO MUCH MORE than how you appear on the outside. You are the daughter of the King. You were redeemed by His blood. You don't need to dress any certain way to be accepted or approved by anyone in this world. It starts with Him. Once your heart is His, from it will flow the love for others that will cause you to dress for His glory...whatever the boundaries may be that He will reveal to you.

I notice an epidemic of 'modest dressers' whose clothes cover, but their hearts are yearning for acceptance and attention. They may dress modestly for the sake of their parents, their peers, their church...all for the sake of being accepted and feeling like they belong. What then, is it still modesty? This is the evil root of the enemy, putting emphasis on the outward appearance, even within 'modest' Christian circles. It's no longer modesty. Though the clothes cover, it is immodesty at it's root--insecurity and vanity; idolatry, replacing the acceptance of God with men.

Modesty roots in the heart, knowing your place in the Kingdom of God. You are a princess. You are dressed proper. Lift your head, smile wide, breath deep, and realize your inexplicable worth to Him. He loves YOU. Yes, YOU, sweet girl.

‪#‎modesty‬ ‪#‎identityinChrist‬ ‪#‎worthsomuchmore‬ ‪#‎dressedbyHim‬

I know this is a bit of a hot topic this time of year (haha, no pun intended ;P), and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the above.

What do you think about Piper's position?

What do you think of the idea that immodesty is insecurity at it's core?