Saturday, April 13, 2024

Of Fasting and Suffering

 Another serious post. I think I will try to make a card soon!


Mark 2:18-20, Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 5:33-35

Today I want to talk about suffering. This I think will be a shorter post than the previous one. I have been meditating on these passages where Jesus tells the parable of the attendants of the bridegroom. When asked why Jesus’ disciples do not fast, He tells the Pharisees and John’s disciples that the attendants of the bridegroom do not fast when the bridegroom is with them, but they do fast when he leaves.

I have always taken this to mean that Jesus came to earth, it was a time of celebration and rejoicing, and then He left earth, which is a time of mourning and suffering until we are reunited with Him. But I have realized this interpretation ignores part of the scripture.

Jesus promises to be with us always. He sent His Spirit, and we are continually in the presence of Jesus, those of us who believe in Him. I am realizing that when He says, “But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days,” He is talking about His death. He was dead for 3 days, and that was the time of mourning and fasting. After His resurrection, we are reunited with Him forever and always - in this life and the next!

So what does this have to do with suffering? I believe that fasting has benefits, and it is for the purpose of disciplining our bodies to get them under submission. This is sometimes used for prayer, sometimes for the purpose of breaking strongholds like addictions, sometimes for the purpose of spiritual warfare.

But I believe fasting also represents suffering. No doubt we will suffer in this life. But fasting is specifically designed to inflict suffering upon oneself. And this is what I believe Jesus was talking about in the parable. Jesus came to set free the oppressed and open the eyes of the blind. He is with us always, and therefore there is no need to inflict suffering upon ourselves.

This is so comforting to me because often we are counseled to remain in destructive, abusive, unsafe, dangerous situations even when we have the opportunity to escape, so that Christ can form us in our sufferings. But if there is a way of escape, the suffering will not be formative. It will be destructive to our witness, because if Jesus came to set us free, why would we remain captive?

I believe Jesus came to set us free spiritually AND physically, but that is a post for another day. Today I just want to express the comfort Christ has brought me in knowing that because He is with me, He has not called me to inflict pain on myself. He will lead me through and out of my trials. I can choose to fast if I feel it will be helpful. I can choose to suffer for Christ, if and when He asks me to witness for Him. But I do not need to stay in dangerous situations, let other people sin against me continually, or fast unnecessarily, because He, the Bridegroom, is with me.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Do I have a Right to Confront my Christian Brother For Not Reconciling with Me?

 This is a long one today. If you make it to the end, let me know by leaving me a comment, and I’ll bake you some cookies. Hopefully I can get back to crafting soon.


Today I want to talk about the concept of escape. I’ve gone through some trying times in the past 10 years. My faith in God is important to me when attempting to navigate these trials. I pray, and I also cling to the messages in the church. We were part of a church for 6 years or so in which I would cling to every word the pastor spoke and try to follow it to the letter.

One of these messages was of profound forgiveness within the body of Christ. We are to be a family to each other, to the extent that there should be nothing to separate us from one another. I can see my pastor holding up his hands, folded together with fingers intertwined. “The local church family should be so intertwined together, that it will be painful to rip it apart.”

The teaching of the church, whether regarding marriage, friendships, or fellow church members, is that we’ve made a commitment to one another, and we don’t break that commitment. We work it out. We pray it out. We forgive if we are sinned against, and if we sin, we repent. It sounds ideal.

I was wholeheartedly devoted to this kind of thinking. The problem is that boundaries are not taught. Nor is the concept of escape from harm. I suppose the teaching was a pushback to cultural American individualism - being an “island” as individual Americans. So am I the only one who fell into this trap of thinking people are wrong to have boundaries?

Here’s what I’ve been trying to form into words in my head for some time: if someone sins against me, I have a right to confront that person for their sin. But if I sin against a person, and that person chooses to distance themselves from me, I do not have a right to confront them. Let me flesh this out. In my mind, if I come to the person I sinned against and say, “I am sorry. I should not have done that. I know it must have hurt you. Will you please forgive me,” and that person refuses to reconcile with me, I might think they are sinning against me. But they are not.

For the longest time, I believed that the unforgiveness and unwillingness to reconcile was the bigger sin. But this is not true. If I made someone uncomfortable, or if I made them feel unsafe, or if they think it’s best for their family to keep me away from them, it is their prerogative. I used to think, “God commands them to love me, therefore, their unforgiveness is unloving, therefore, they are sinning against me, therefore, I can confront them.”

But this is not true. They did not sin against me. I sinned against them. Their decision to refuse to recognize my repentance is not a sin against me, it is a sin against God, but ONLY if God has instructed them to continue a relationship with me. And that is not for me to know.

The reason it took me so long to recognize this is because I believed I needed to tolerate people sinning against me. I took the command to forgive my brother 70x7 more seriously than the command to refuse to associate with wicked and evil people. I did not know, especially within a marriage relationship, that it was right to seek safety from someone who repeatedly sins against me and against God. It was not only right, but commanded. Especially if this person is not repentant or is falsely repentant. Now in marriage, false repentance is a lot harder to recognize, and so I give myself grace.

I also have to give myself grace for not recognizing that it is good and right for someone to escape from me when I have sinned. It is not my responsibility to prove my repentance to anyone, and it is not anyone’s responsibility to know my heart as to whether my repentance is genuine. It is only my responsibility to genuinely repent. It is only their responsibility to escape from harm, whether I caused it intentionally or not.

Speaking of escape, I need to put this into terms that make it easier to understand. (Side note, I know it is taboo to compare my life to a slave’s, and I acknowledge the horrendous generational trauma that black Americans have suffered due to the great evils of slavery, and I hope not to diminish their experiences by my experience. I just am not sure how else to provide a good analogy.) Imagine that a man comes into church and tells the pastor, “I am a slave. This man here owns me, and I have been serving him, but I don’t want to be a slave. I want to be a free man.”

Now imagine a woman comes to church and says to the pastor, “I am being mistreated by my husband. He is disrespectful and unloving to me, and he twists things around to make it seem that I am disrespectful to him.”

What would the pastor say or do to the first man? If he is a wise pastor, he would not say, “Well, the Bible tells slaves to submit to their masters, so just keep submitting.” No, he would say, “it is illegal for a man to own another man. And it’s not only illegal, it is also immoral and unconscionable, based on the inalienable rights we have been granted by God for liberty and justice.” That pastor would investigate if it were true, and he would go to the authorities to help that man to be free. And that man would be eligible to serve and lead in the church, despite his status as a slave or a free man. Because eligibility is based on your status in Christ, and not your status in the world.

But what would the pastor say to the woman? Even if he is a wise pastor, he would tell her, “The Bible says to submit to your husband.” He would probably accuse her of being disrespectful, he would investigate into the husband, and would find out his side of the story, and he would label her disrespectful. This woman would get no help to free her from bondage to her oppressor like the man would. In fact, she would be reabused, she would be ineligible to serve God, despite her status in Christ. And she would be told to stay, and that she has no right to leave. 

But she does have a right to leave. She has an obligation to leave. Because she is a human being with inalienable rights that grant her liberty and justice as well. We are taught that escaping is a sin, because it punishes the one who loves us. But escaping is not a punishment for the one who loves us.

When I confronted and tried to guilt the person I sinned against into reconciling with me, I said I did it out of love. But that is not love. If I love someone, I will let them go. I will give them their freedom. And if the woman who is being oppressed leaves her husband, and her husband feels it is a punishment, he does not truly love her. She is his slave. I do truly love the ones I sinned against, and I have repented, and I have let them go. They are gone out of my life, which hurts, but I know it is best.

And so, if a man is hurt by his wife leaving, in order to escape his sinfulness against her, he is not being punished by her. Yes, he is experiencing consequences, which might feel like punishment. But if she is escaping, she is not sinning. And if God calls her to reconcile with him, it is between her and God. The abuser does not have any right to confront her for being unforgiving or for not reconciling. It is her decision and she gets the freedom to make her own choice.


What do you think? Have I missed anything?

Friday, March 8, 2024

Green and Gold

 Christmas in March means St. Patrick’s colors. I am coming in just under the wire on some of these challenges. I just got distracted this week, but I’m determined to stay consistent. My card is a little avant-garde, but I like it with all the shine and sparkle. Here are my challenges I am participating in:

52 Christmas Card Throwdown

Color My Heart

Double Trouble

Festive Friday

Materials used:

Cardstock: White Daisy, Lagoon Fundamentals

B&Ts: Mayberry

Stamps: A Timber, Merriest Christmas

Ink: Clover

Other: Gold Shimmer Trim, Gold Embossing Powder

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Reason for the Season with Retiform

 I made another Christmas card! Retiform is a new technique for me. This was the technique challenge at 52 CCT. I paired it with the sketch challenge at Atlantic Hearts, so I separated the top from the bottom. The colors for the Color Dare were Royal and Periwinkle plus one more, so I chose Sage. I made the bottom Sage, the top Periwinkle, and the Jesus, Mary and Joseph Royal.

Materials used:

Cardstock: White Daisy, Smokey Plum

B&Ts: Sonata, Hooligans

Stamps: Reason for the Season 

Ink: Sage, Lilac Mist, Gypsy

Other: Enamel Shapes

Saturday, February 17, 2024

More Challenges!

 Today I added a few challenges to make my card.

52CCT - Mushrooms

Color My Heart - Scarlet, paprika, Sundance, Lagoon, Journey

Atlantic Hearts- sketch

Double Trouble - fancy fold and something that leaps

Creative Creases - fun fold

As You See It - twine, rhinestones, plaid, embossing folder, die cut

It was tricky to fit everything in, but I managed it. I made the W-V fold card, and was able to fit it to the Atlantic Hearts sketch. I used some colors that were similar to the new CTMH colors (Ruby, Goldrush, Saffron, Peacock, and Lagoon). I used a plaid embossing folder for a 2 in 1! I cut out a cute little fence die cut. I used the rabbit for the thing that leaps, and there was a mushroom in that same stamp set - Garden Gnomes. Then I added some sparkles and white twine and some glitter for the snow.

Materials used:

Cardstock: White Daisy, Peacock, Goldrush, Ruby

Fundamentals: Lagoon

B&Ts: Penelope

Stamps: Garden Gnome, Card Chatter - Christmas

Ink: Intense Black, Peacock

Other: Sparkles, White Twine, fence die, Triblend Markers, white glitter (not CTMH)

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Have a Heart

 Here’s another Christmas card for my stash. I kinda like how this one turned out. I chose the 3 blue colors from the Color Dare challenge to go with the blue and white theme for 52CCT - Harbor, Mist, and Capri. They’re sort of greenish blues, but still blue and so pretty. The sketch is from Atlantic Hearts, and I’m doing the Have a Heart challenge for Cut It Up - a new one for me. So I added this pretty Christmas heart from Art Philosophy and made a Loving sentiment.

I added three rosy gems for the holly berries, and I feel it’s just the right touch.

Materials used:

Cardstock: White Daisy, Harbor, Capri

B&Ts: Florentine

Stamps: Christmas Love, Scandinavian Wishes

Ink: Sky, Twilight

Other: Red Enamel Gems, Blue Epoxy Bubbles

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Christmas Love is in the Air

 Today’s card has snowflakes in the air. This card was made for these three challenges:

52 Christmas Card Throwdown - sketch

Color My Heart- Fancy Five - I used Periwinkle, Bluebird, Ballerina, and Jade

Double Trouble - Love is in the Air

Materials used:

Cardstock: Bluebird, White Daisy

Stamps: Snowflakes, Card Chatter-Christmas 

Ink: Bluebird, Lilac Mist, Juniper, Ballerina

God will Move…

 Something different for today:


I’ve been going down an internet rabbit hole lately. Also have been educating myself thoroughly on certain subjects. A lot of my research has been about church hurt and spiritual abuse, purity culture leading to domestic abuse, large churches which leave a lot of destruction in their wake, celebrity pastors whose fame hurts people and is tolerated because of their “correct doctrine” and being one of the “in crowd.”

What is missing in these spaces is the heart of God and the redemption of Jesus, His example to us here on this earth. I read an article today about how empathy is a sin and feminism leads to rot, and the example set forth was how Moses had the Israelites kill those who committed idolatry and never had pity on them. But I don’t see Jesus doing that. I was weeping on my morning drive listening to the aftermath on the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast. I used to not have any empathy for those in situations like that, but now that I do, certain people would say I am sinning.

God is leading me in a different direction. I’ve been in a cocoon for a while after fattening myself on knowledge like a very hungry caterpillar 🐛. I might be breaking out of it now. Not sure yet. It’s a really hard process, and I don’t know what it’s going to look like. But God is leading me towards smaller, organic, less authoritarian and domineering spaces. He is using my gift, even though I don’t know what it is. I’m just going to obey what He tells me to do.

And there is no shame. There is no shame in educating yourself, or being in the place you are, or figuring out your sins or hang ups, or exploring your feelings and what they mean, or leaving toxic spaces. What may be toxic for me, may not be toxic for you. Jesus came to set us free from our sins, Jew and Greek, Slave and Free, Male and Female. We are all one in Christ Jesus. There is no shame in using your gift, if God calls you to pastor, pastor with all your heart and with all humility. But don’t set yourself up to rule and domineer and claim authority over God’s people. Jesus is our head, and the Holy Spirit leads His body, praise the Lord!

Recently at a meeting, I heard a word from the Lord that when Jesus compares the kingdom to a tiny seed that grows into a large tree, the birds come and nest in its branches. Those birds, the ones that snatched up the seed from the ground in another parable, are wicked people who try to infiltrate God’s church when it gets so large - wolves. Same with the leaven in the dough. The leaven is usually hypocrisy or evil that spreads and contaminates the body when it gets large. God’s showing me, when we try to dominate, things go bad, when we try to take over the world and culture by growing huge, people get hurt. Keep it small and let Him lead. He will move, but not in the way you expect.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

To Sew or Not to Sew

 Here is a card I made yesterday. They must have accidentally put up the theme of 52CCT early, because it didn’t go live till this morning, but I knew about it ahead of time! I used the sketch at Atlantic Hearts and the tic tac toe colors at Color My Heart. I chose the left column, Mocha, Peach, and Papaya, and added in Mink. The mink and peach papers are from the Sweet Girl paper pack.

I chose this cute Scandinavian stamp because it looks like embroidery, and I did some faux stitching with a stamp set, for the sewing theme. I am too lazy to actually sew on my cards, but don’t tell anyone! It looks like actual stitching! 

Materials used:

Cardstock: White Daisy, Sorbet

B&Ts: Sweet Girl

Stamps: Scandinavian Wishes, Elemental Workshop

Ink: Mocha

Other: Pear and Partridge Ribbon

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Diamonds and Wreaths

 Today I made a card for these three challenges:

Color My Heart

Atlantic Hearts 

52 Christmas Card Throwdown

I chose Candy Apple, Jade, and Ballerina for my 3 colors. I used the star wreath from the Twinkle stamp set. It is one I haven’t used before. Then I added a gold bow.

Materials used:
Cardstock: White Daisy, Adventure Fundamentals
Stamps: Twinkle
Ink: Candy Apple, Juniper, Ballerina
Other: Ariana Assortment

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Warm or Cool?

 Yesterday I made a pair of Christmas cards for 3 challenges:

Color My Heart

52 Christmas Card Throwdown

Atlantic Hearts 

Two of the challenges were color challenges, and very different color schemes. Color My Heart had very cool colors, and 52CCT had very warm colors. So I used the sketch from Atlantic Hearts for both cards, which lended itself well to several colors because of the strips of paper behind the main panel.

My colors for the Color Dare may not be exact, but the ones I had were the closest I could find: Sugarplum, Grey Flannel, Lilac Mist, Juniper, and Sage.

For 52 CCT, I used Cranberry, Sunset, and Canary.

Which is your favorite? Warm or cool?

Materials used:
Cardstock: White Daisy, Lilac Mist, Sugarplum, Juniper, Grey Flannel, Cranberry, Sunset, Canary, Slate
Stamps: Yuletide Carol, Yuletide Greetings
Ink: Intense Black, Sage, Sugarplum
Other: Tri Blend Markers, No Worries sequins, I Heart Us sequins

Monday, January 8, 2024

My birthday Christmas cards

 Hey there! My birthday is just two weeks after Christmas, so here are some cards I made on and around my birthday! These are for my stash for next year, I have 3 so far, so I think that’s progress.

I am participating in 3 challenges:

Color My Heart

Atlantic Hearts

52 Christmas Card Throwdown

2 of the challenges were sketches, so I went ahead and made two cards with the Color Dare Colors!

Materials used:
Cardstock: White Daisy, Bluebird
B&Ts: Free to be Me
Stamps: Merriest Christmas
Ink: Tulip
Other: Crafty Loose Sequins