Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jesus is born!


© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 

Many Jews, like Joseph, were in Bethlehem for the Census.  The inns were full.  Perhaps the travel between Nazareth and Bethlehem took a bit longer for Mary and Joseph.  There wasn't a mid-wife or Mary's family to help out, they were alone.  But they did just fine.  Mary may have felt a little sad that Jesus' birth turned out this way.  She probably felt bad that the Son of God was born in a manger.   Maybe she even had special plans for His birth.  But, God had this all figured out...  

6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the innLuke 2:6-7
There would've been this strange star lighting where Jesus lay.  A heavenly spotlight on the baby.  
The wise men came to see where the star shone in Bethlehem and they found the King of the Jews.  God can use anyone to fulfill His plan!
9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrhMatthew 2:9-11
The gold was a gift for a King.  The frankincense was used as incense or perfume.  It was also used in temple sacrifices.  Jesus would become the sacrifice for our sin.  The myrrh was used to embalm bodies- these gifts were of great financial worth.  It took faith to follow a star from their own country to another.  They were rewarded, and rejoiced with exceedingly great joy!  All doubt is gone.  Perhaps Joseph burned a little frankincense for his wife.  Or maybe the gifts were too sacred to touch.  Joseph and Mary had money to take care of Jesus.  Amazing how He provides our needs.

It was dark out, and while Mary rested with the baby, and Joseph talked with the wise men, a strange bleeting and the excited voices of men started getting closer.  Suddenly, a crowd of shepherds and sheep came to them.  The experience they shared must've filled Mary and Joseph with awe and wonder.  Tingles.
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.  Luke 2:15-20 
If I were a shepherd I'd run to Bethlehem too!  You notice the shepherd's weren't shy about spreading the word of the Angel's visit.  God knows people, He created them.  All through scripture He has chosen people who will either spread the word or remain silent. Mary pondered this in her heart.  I could never do that.  I'd be talking about this for years.  He's finally here!  For the first time in many years shepherds are treated as important people.  God spoke to them, He lit up the sky with angels.  Shepherds were important!  It didn't matter how people treated them.  Almighty God sent His angels.  We are important to Him too, no matter what we've done or been.  He came for us.

10 "And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.Isaiah 11:10
NKJV
"And His resting place shall be glorious," there were wise men in fine robes, expensive gifts and camels.  Shepherds and sheep gathered near.  A brilliant star lit the manger.  And a radiant Mary and Joseph rejoice in all they are experiencing.  They are a part of a much bigger plan; Jesus is no longer their secret.  Usually referring to a resting place means a grave.  But Jesus didn't rest... He rose from the grave!  He conquered sin and death.  Now it is 2011 and we wait for more prophecies to be fulfilled, Jesus' second coming.  I believe it will happen as naturally and supernaturally as His first.  There will be no more doubt. 

Hallelujah!  Merry Christmas to you all!  May God bless you abundantly.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Shepherds and angels

These drawings have been a challenge for sure.  I do hope they are a blessing.
I never planned to draw angels- but here's a glimpse from my imagination.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.


The first time the full impact of this part of the Christmas story really dawned on me, was when I was watching a movie about Jesus.  I'm not one to get real emotional, but I cried.  The shepherds were the lowest of the low socially.  They were humble people who lived in the fields tending sheep.  They told each other stories about the constellations in the night sky; they played instruments.  They didn't have fine robes and big houses. If God had waited 2000 years He could've made an announcement on TV.  But that wasn't His plan.   I'm so grateful.  King David was called by God when he was a shepherd boy.  These were simple, humble, and honorable people- like us.

Luke 2:8-14
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

I think I would be afraid too if I saw an angel.  Just imagine, it's the dead of night.  The shepherds are listening for any disturbance in the bush, a wolf? A lion?  There may have been a soothing song playing in the background to calm the sheep.  They always protected the sheep, their income.  When suddenly a great light appears before them!  An angel speaks.  Sheep?  What sheep?  What is this?  Then the whole sky lights up!  And the angels rejoice right in front of the shepherds!  We will see this in Heaven too.  How awesome is that?  In verse 10 you see "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." The message is expanding it's no longer just for Jews it's for all people now.  Even those of us who are Gentiles.  There are many prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah about the Gentiles.  Here's one:
Isaiah 11:10
10 "And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious."

The Jews will always be God's chosen ones, always the first-fruits.  God chose to include the Gentiles as well.  For that I am very grateful.  Jesse is David's father.  This prophecy sounds like it's referring to the manger in Bethlehem.  The wise men were Gentiles.  As the saying goes, "Wise men (and women) still seek Him."  I do.

God mentions the shepherd many times in Scripture.  He is God, I'm a sheep...  But, from what I've read a shepherd's job is very taxing.  They need to watch everything their sheep do.  They're not the brightest of animals and will eat poisonous food, get scared to death literally, and fall off of cliffs.  It does sound familiar ...  They are also considered a tasty treat by meat eating animals so they constantly need to be guarded and protected.  It would take a great deal of patience and love to handle a job like this.  
Micah 5:2
6 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.'"


My favorite Psalm, I memorized this and repeat it before I go to sleep sometimes.  God calls Himself our shepherd.
Psalms 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.
NKJV
A great Christian book on God as our shepherd is A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller.

One day we will see the angels in glory, and sing in their choir!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The wise men and the star

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Matthew 2:1-8

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.'" (Micah 5:2)
From these verses we can see that people believed the prophecies before the birth of Christ.  And even knew them by heart.  Sadly Herod did not know or care. He was the current King of the Jews.  All of Jerusalem was troubled.  You would think the coming of the Christ would be a good thing in the temple- that it wouldn't be a surprise.  It took wise men from the east to point this out, they were the ones who worshiped Jesus.  This shows the deterioration taking place in the Jewish leaders since the time of King David.  David did everything for the glory of God.  When he sinned, he was forgiven, and went on to bring God glory again.

7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also."
NKJV
Herod was a wicked King.  His desire was to destroy the competition, it was all about his glory.  So he lied telling the wise men he wanted to worship Jesus. 

Here's how God worked it out with the wise men:
Matthew 2:12
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
NKJV

One of my hobbies is astronomy.  It is documented that a very rare and unusual incident happened during this time period where the planets Venus and Jupiter were in the constellation Leo.  Leo is the constellation of Kings and the tribe of Judah.  Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah. 

I read in my research that this has never occurred again in over 2000 years.  One of the proofs that God exists is the orderliness of the universe.  There have been many theories, over the years, as to how the universe will end.  However no one can truly explain how it has lasted this long.  The constellations we see in the sky today, are the same as when Jesus walked the earth.  The earth has changed through war, storms, earthquakes etc.  But the constellations have not.  What a grand entry for the Son of God!  A great and glorious light shone in the sky over Jesus.  When we are in Heaven we'll know all of these details.  For now, we know nothing is impossible for God.  The Bible says a star for the King of the Jews.  That's good enough for me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Born in Bethlehem?


Tradition always shows Joseph walking, don't know why for sure.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Digital Painting, Corel Painter


An Old Testament prophecy was written that the Ruler of Israel comes from Bethlehem:
Micah 5:2
2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,

Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting."


But, Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, about 80 miles from Bethlehem.
Luke 1:26-27
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.


Here's how God worked it out:
Luke 2:1-5
1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
NKJV
Census and taxes!  God used the government to bring about His plan.  This proves that nothing is impossible for God and He can use anything to bring about His will.  By this time it may have been a relief for Mary and Joseph to leave Nazareth.  I'm sure they both received a lot of advice and who knows what happened in the local gossip mill.  Getting away was a good thing in many ways.  However, the trip was very difficult.  Mary was almost ready to deliver Jesus.  

I remember how it feels when I step out in faith, and go where the Lord leads me- like a Nursing Home.  I am overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit's presence and joy.  Mary wasn't carrying a normal baby.  He is the Son of God, she must have been blessed for her service and His presence within her.  Joseph was also blessed.  I don't know if the road was easier because of her assignment. I hope so.

Usually women are the talkers, but I suspect Joseph finally got his chance to think this all through.  Maybe he said something like, "We're going to have the Son of God!  No, wait.  Mary's going to have the Son of God.  My Mary, God chose my Mary.  I knew she was special.  I knew she would stay faithful.  I'm going to be a Dad!  But I'm not worthy, why would God?  I'll teach Him everything I can!  But what could I possibly teach the Son of God?" 

I imagine Mary giggling and saying something like, "Oh Joseph, you'll be a fine Father.  Just remember this baby is a miracle.  God has a plan for us as parents.  He will guide us."

Or maybe they just travelled rejoicing in their hearts to have this awesome role in God's  plan.  Perhaps they prayed, no doubt the angels were nearby.  The Savior was coming as a baby.  No doubt they were exhausted by the trip.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Joseph's reaction

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Digital Painting, Corel Painter


Over a thousand years before the birth of Christ, David wrote this Psalm.  This verse seems to fit what Joseph and Mary had to deal with.  It would be amazing to be visited by an angel. 
Psalm 19:7
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
NKJV
Matthew 1:18-25
18 After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
Joseph seemed to have the same reaction to this as Mary, "What!!?  Wait a minute..."   Joseph, like a lot of men, came up with a plan in his mind and knew how he was going to fix things.  By this time, Mary knew she was carrying a baby.  She trusted God, believed Gabriel, and now she would've felt incredibly alone.  It's important to realize that during this time period women were stoned to death for adultery.  Joseph didn't want this to happen to Mary so he was thinking about hiding her.  He must've loved her.  


This is how God worked it out: 
20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."  (Isaiah 7:14)
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Joseph strikes me as a simple man, a carpenter.  He's honorable and keeps his word.  Obviously he has great strength and faith that God would choose him to take care of Mary and Jesus.  Joseph and Mary were asked to believe and do the unacceptable, the impossible.  But the purpose behind what God had in mind is beyond comprehension. Both Mary and Joseph were from the lineage of David fulfilling this prophecy about Jesus:
Isaiah 9:7
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
NKJV

I'm so glad they took God at His Word and didn't give up.  I can only imagine what Joseph was thinking through all of this :  )

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mary and Gabriel

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Corel Painter

This time of year I like to read the Christmas story. The story begins in the Old Testament with prophecies.  It's such an incredible story, I'm sure people debated how the prophecy could possibly be fulfilled for many years.  I wonder if they discussed whether the scripture is literal or figurative...  Here's one prophecy:
Isaiah 7:14-15
14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 
NKJV

After many many years, God sent the angel, "Gabriel," to visit Mary.
Luke 1:26-38
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was
I would have been nervous too if I heard the words, "Rejoice highly favored one..."  I'd be skeptical of who this was, and what this was about.  This is a common reaction to an angel's appearance in the Bible.    
30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"
Her response is so sincere.  What!!?  Wait a minute...

35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible."
38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
NKJV
Her faith must've been very strong.  She happily and willingly submits, acknowledging she is His maidservant.  Perhaps this is why God chose her to bear His Son.  Her faith is simple trust, she is humble, and wise.  You would think God would choose a wealthy family, people with educations, and a big safe house.  But not our God.  He chose Mary and Joseph, two hardworking young people, with a simple faith that helped change the world.  I can only imagine what Mary must've been thinking after meeting Gabriel.  I would've been going over this for awhile in my mind.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

It's December.  In the USA, it's the darkest time of the year.  Our days are much shorter now.  It starts getting dark around 4pm.  It can get kind of depressing.  Sometimes the holidays themselves can be depressing, like when someone we loved is no longer with us.   Or there's just not enough money to buy Christmas gifts.  I know what it is to wish I could just skip Christmas.  Of course there's always disagreements and disagreeable folks to deal with as well.   We just aren't perfect.  As much as we try, the holidays aren't perfect.  Feelings aren't something we can control at times.  It's so good to know Jesus is perfect.  Even in the darkest times, He's with us.   This verse promises that He will be the light of our lives. 

One year I had just gotten my first apartment and was living alone.  I felt lonely.  So I decided I would put up a tree for myself.  It turned out great, some people stopped by to admire it.  But it was between me and the Lord mostly.  I put up blue ornaments to symbolize His purity, red to symbolize His sacrifice, and purple to symbolize His royalty.  I could feel His presence with me.  This year I walked downstairs to find my cat staring out of the middle of the tree.  He likes to climb.  Oy!  It's never perfect.  Just need to find where the ornament hooks landed...

Personally I think a lot of the American traditions like Santa Claus and gift giving are fun.  I even enjoy some of the old movies like, "It's a wonderful life."   I've always loved watching parades.  But the best part is remembering and celebrating Jesus' birth.  I don't even want to imagine life without Him.  He is my light.






Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.


Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How a house is built


"Victory comes with faith in Jesus"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Watercolor & India Ink

I'm back!  The Mac transition wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  But, I still have more to learn about how the system works.  Plus I can always go back to my Windows laptop for reference when I get stuck.  Ok so I did have a few meltdowns.  But with the Lord's help, I was able to get to the victory part 
: )

Proverbs 24

3 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 
4 through knowledge its rooms are filled 
with rare and beautiful treasures.
This verse is beautiful.  With wisdom and understanding, our houses are built to last.  Knowledge fills the rooms with rare and beautiful treasures.  My favorite house to visit, as a little girl, wasn't perfect.  The family had 3 kids.  The upstairs wasn't finished.  Books were scattered everywhere.  It was always messy.  A piano sat in the living room and all the kids knew how to play.  I was so fascinated to see my friend was writing a book, she was only about seven years old.  I loved to visit her house. It was so full of freedom and creativity.  As for me, I had my box of crayons and loved to color.  They went to Church and believed in Jesus.

10 If you falter in a time of trouble, 
how small is your strength!11 Rescue those being led away to death; 
hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” 
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? 
Does not he who guards your life know it? 
Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
I see this as a call to service, to share my faith with others.  If I have all this wonderful treasure from God- financial, talent, spiritual, love and time, then the least I can do is use it to help others.  All the treasure we have is stored in Heaven, a gift from our Father.  He likes it when we invest it in others. 

16 …for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, 
 but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
Even though we fall as Christians, we can find forgiveness in Jesus, by confessing our sins.  It's interesting that this verse refers to falling seven times; it reminded me of a conversation between Peter and Jesus...
Jesus said: 
Matthew 18
21
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
 
22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."
26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

NIV
I like this verse.  I do believe there's a difference between being honest and being brutally honest.  I'm always glad to hear if I made a mistake, or if some of my artwork or writing isn't quite right and doesn't make sense.  I appreciate when my husband tells me dinner just doesn't taste as good as usual- maybe I should try something different (I'm a creative cook).  For the next meal, he tells me how delicious it is.  That's a kiss.  As a teenager, my Mom came home from the beauty parlor and asked, "What do you think of my new hair-do?"  I replied, "Oh Mom, it looks like George Washington!"  That would be a slap and not a kiss, brutal honesty.  Oy!  Life's a challenge.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Financial balance

"Say it isn't so..."
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Watercolor & Colored Pencils
So I was working on my PC Saturday and noticed I had 2 cursors on the screen instead of one.  As a programmer, I knew this was a bad sign.  Things would come up and then disappear, it took 3 clicks to close software.  My hard drive was maxed out quite a lot.  Then it happened.  The fatal blue screen appeared on my monitor shouting,  "Error!"  I rebooted and the machine came back.  But I've seen this before.  Soon the whole PC dies and everything inside.  I feared the worst, 153 gigabytes of photos could be wiped away.  It could be the Mother Board, the brains.   I took it to my PC repairman to run a diagnostic on the hardware. 

I was hoping I was wrong all Saturday.  My husband thought it was the perfect time to upgrade to a Mac.  I had to agree.  I can wipe out a PC pretty quickly with my software.  And, PC's just don't last as long as Macs.  But I was still hoping I was wrong.  Sunday I got the call.  I was right.  Don't you just hate being right at the wrong time?  The good news is I caught it before it wiped out my photos.  My husband picked out a new Mac for me- she's a beauty and will be strong enough to endure my hours and Adobe Creative Suite. It's an iMac and much nicer than I would've chosen for myself.  I can work on illustrating and writing a children's book.  It will be an excellent tool.

I used to see racks of servers when I worked in computing.  Now I'll have my own little rack of hard drives.  So, we stepped out in faith to order it.  All night I kept thinking, "What did I do!!?"

Then today, we received a small inheritance from my Mom's estate.  It was plenty to cover my new system and then some.  Sometimes it's wise to buy quality, avoiding the risk of losing your work.  You can spend more on replacing lower quality than just getting a good machine in the beginning. 

I remember so many times, when I put myself through college, Mom would say, "I sure wish I could help you out."  I felt so bad for her.  I helped her out as much as I could with my college work money.  Today, I looked up and whispered, "Thanks Mama.  This is the best system I've ever had.  You sure helped me out."


Sooo... I'm using a drawing I did on paper (instead of Corel Painter) for this post.  Lord willing I'll be setting up my new system tomorrow.  Soon I'll be working like a pro.   I'll try and keep posting but it may take a few days to learn the Mac.  Hoping to be back to normal by Wednesday.  I'm working on my laptop tonight but didn't want anyone to worry or wonder.

I'm really becoming a freelancer.  Go figure...

These verses from Proverbs 23 seem to fit my situation pretty well.  Thanks be to God for His perfect timing, our needs being met again, and for pointing out my PC's trouble before it was fatal and I lost everything.

Proverbs 23

These verses describe 2 extremes to me.  Either putting our whole being into work to earn money, or being too caught up in saving money.  Both lead to poor relationships with others and especially the Lord.  I want to be grateful for His gifts financially, enjoy and save.  I don't want to let work take over my life.  Even if it's something I love.  Jesus first, family second, work third.
4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
   do not trust your own cleverness.
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
   for they will surely sprout wings
   and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

 6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
   do not crave his delicacies;
7 for he is the kind of person
   who is always thinking about the cost.
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
   but his heart is not with you.

Pray with me that I'll conquer the Mac and be back soon writing and drawing on it.  I need to work on paper more too. God bless!
Karen

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Friday, December 2, 2011

Give and you will receive

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.


It seemed like Proverbs 22 is all about giving good or bad, and it will be returned to us the same.  It's interesting the Lord would lead me here before Christmas.  Lots of wisdom here, I italicized some Christmas ideas.

Proverbs 22

1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
It feels so great to have a good reputation.  When I've been praised for a good job,  it always made me want to work all the harder. A Christmas gift may be acknowledging someone or a gift to inspire someone's talent.  I was thrilled when I got my first painting kit from my step-father.

2 Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.
To me, the message to the poor is that God is your Creator.  We shouldn't let financial troubles make us feel like we are worthless.  Our true value is in who we are, and Who created us.  The message to the rich is you are no better than the poor.  The rich have wealth in this life, but their true value is in the One who created them as well.  Gifts shouldn't be based on how wealthy others are.

3 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
I need to keep watch over things and make sure we're not heading toward disaster.  When I see a problem on the horizon, I usually start taking action.   And pray a lot.  To ignore potential problems, will bring a penalty.  This applies to all areas of our lives: business, home, family, Church, everything.  I need to watch the credit card debt, while shopping for Christmas.

4 Humility is the fear of the Lord;
its wages are riches and honor and life.
Being humble before God is wealth, it brings honor, and life.   It's so much better when I ask my husband what he thinks about things than just telling him.  We do have our struggles and disagreements.   With God as our Lord, we do much better- can't claim perfection though.  My gifts to others, shouldn't be a competition with other givers.

6 Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Children need direction.  They need to feel safe at home, to understand the ways of God.  I should give gifts to children in a way that shows them how to give.  Or as my friend Glynn wrote on his blog, "Faith, Fiction, Friends", spending time with his grandson is a gift for both of them.

9 The generous will themselves be blessed,
for they share their food with the poor.
In the Bible, giving includes food, time, treasure and talent.  Food has two meanings: spiritual like prayer or encouragement, and literal food.

Jesus said:
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  Luke 6:38
Gifts that encourage or prayers are always a big hit.  Actually my family loves copies of my photos, when I share my talent.  I try not to give gifts I wouldn't want to receive.

12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.
On a good day, my logic is sound.  I can visualize solving problems in my head in a nice straight line. However, sometimes my logic goes into reverse.  It's really frustrating and sometimes embarrassing.  When someone's words are frustrated, I think it means their logic goes in reverse.  It's like justifying stealing because the person feels they deserve to have what someone else has.  However, once they get that "thing," it doesn't take long for them to get bored with it.  Maybe a gift that helps someone understand the Bible or a Bible would be good.

13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside!
I’ll be killed in the public square!”
I can see two applications for this proverb. 
  1. A sluggard is a lazy person- so they build up excuses in their mind to keep them from working.
  2. It could also apply to someone who isn't lazy, but is just plain trapped in fear.
I remember a woman, on the Prayer Forum, who was afraid to leave home and go to Church.  We had great ideas for her like:  focus on the Lord and not the people, sit in the back of the Church where it's not as intimidating, really great ideas.  But fear can be so crippling.  I'm not sure if she made it. After driving 3 hours everyday to work, in bad traffic, I experienced some fear of driving.  I was in 3 accidents during the commute.  It really surprised me how jumpy I was after I left the job.  But fear is real and hard to cope with.   The Lord has brought me through it now.  However, I am a more cautious driver.
There's so many good, inspiring books today.  My husband asked me for a desk calendar called, "Facing Your Giants," by Max Lucado.  I'll try not to put my shopping off too long- fearing the dreaded crowds at the mall...

NIV

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Sometimes life seems so weary.  I just want to go to sleep and forget about it.  But Jesus promises to strengthen us.  To help us get up and face each day.  He promises to give us strength when we have to face a day on a job that has so many things going wrong, there's no place to start.  He helps us find the place to start.  One thing at a time.  He gives me strength when I have to tell my husband something I'd rather not.  Even when  I have to go outside and shovel the snow once again. The laundry has piled up and I'm the only one to do it.  He restores my soul.

We can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us.  Nothing is bigger than God.

After a snowy, cold, long, winter earlier this year, this horse finally got to come out of the stable and rest in the sunshine.  She's really enjoying it.  It's unusual to see a horse laying down, but they do.  We enjoy the Sonshine even during storms.






Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.
 

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Greater than sacrifice

This morning was a bit different.  I opened my Bible accidentally(?) to Micah 6:8 one of my favorite verses. Then I flipped over to Proverbs and found verses 2-3 that are right on track with Micah. When things like this happen I have to say, "Lord, speak to me."  Then I remembered the old Keith Green song, "To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice."  Here's how He spoke to me.

Proverbs 21

2 A person may think their own ways are right,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
3 To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Sometimes I feel like I have it all figured out.  Yup.  I'm a Christian.  My walk is steady with the Lord.  Then I remember that woman I should be praying for- the one who is lonely.  I remember telling my husband in the grocery store, not to buy anything that's not on the shopping list.  That was right before I saw one of my favorite types of soda pop... I had to have some.  I looked at him and said, "Guess I deserve an 'H' on my shirt for hypocrite right?"  He agreed.  God looks at our hearts, not just our Church attendance.   He wants us to do what's right and just.  Am I quick to "help" my husband understand saving money, while I consider myself exempt?  That would be a problem.

Micah 6:6-8
6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Since I became a Christian, these have been some favorite verses.  I was so scared and everyone seemed so perfect.  How could I ever be a good Christian?  I'm a sinner.  What can I possibly do?

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Obey Him.  Don't try and be a "good" Christian- there's no such thing.  It doesn't matter what other Christians think, it's what God thinks.  Worship Him, learn about Him, serve Him. I want to do my best to reflect Him.  He wants to have a relationship with me.  To talk everyday, for me to listen.
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Jesus made the sacrifice for us.  Nothing we can do can ever take Jesus' place.  On our own we just don't add up.  But through faith in Him our debt is paid.  The least I can do is try and help others and spend time with Him each day.  
Romans 5:18-19
Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
NIV


Here's the Keith Green song I was describing.  It's so simple, yet we try and make it so complicated.
To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice (link)

There's always hope:  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

What are your thoughts?

Friday, November 25, 2011

From the inside

Glad I'm not the only one who gets confused at times...
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.


Years ago, when I was working at Boeing,  I was having a tough time.  This man walked up to me and asked, "Why are you so down?  You're usually so full of light."  So much was going on at the time I was discouraged.  So I couldn't answer him, except to say, "Life."  I didn't even realize I'd lost the light.  So, even though I didn't feel like it, I put effort into reading the Bible and praying.  I went back to work and saw the same man.  He smiled and nodded at me.  It was huge.  I've learned that what I'm thinking and feeling on the inside displays on the outside. 

This Proverb has wisdom for our hearts.

Proverbs 20

3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
It's always best to avoid strife.  But sometimes honesty is necessary.  What I've been told is that I tend to put up with a lot patiently, but there's a point when I'm done.  Then I speak what I think.  I'm not sure any of us are always gracious when we speak.   It is foolish to be quick to quarrel.  It's better to ask questions, like, "What did you mean when you said ...?"

5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.
My thoughts do get jumbled.  When I was a little girl I stuttered.  I've learned if I write out all my thoughts on paper- then go through one at a time asking, "Is this true?  A possibility? or just frustration?"  I sort out my thoughts.  The Holy Spirit can draw us out of deep water too.  Sometimes I ask Him to counsel me.
Jesus said:

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
John 14:16-17 NIV

6 Many claim to have unfailing love,
but a faithful person who can find?
This verse reminds me of teenagers.  Young people are sure they've fallen madly in love with the right person, on the first date.  I honestly can't remember how many boyfriends I had before I got married... (blush).  He's a good man, so glad all that's over now.   God's love is unfailing : )

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—
the Lord has made them both.
This is a bit humbling.  So... sounds like I'm supposed to listen with my ears, and not just play music.  And also use my eyes to see what's really going on.  Lord, help me see people the way You see them, to really hear.

15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance,
but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.
Sometimes having a question answered is priceless.  I think in this verse it's described as rare, because we tend to give answers to questions no one is asking...  It's important to gain knowledge, especially about the Bible.  Even better to share it with someone who wants to hear.

19 A gossip betrays a confidence;
so avoid anyone who talks too much.
This is one that gives me a chuckle.  Avoid anyone who talks too much... Err that would be me sometimes...  Probably good to think about that when I'm with others.

21 An inheritance claimed too soon
will not be blessed at the end.
This makes sense.  Inheritances tend to get larger as time passes.   Sometimes I need to wait, because God has a plan involved that I'm not aware of.  I'd imagine anything to do with money, the banks, and government takes awhile to process anywhere.  But the part about being "blessed" in the end sounds wonderful.

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.
This is important.  When I feel like I want to get revenge, I try and quote "Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord," over and over until I believe it.  Things can get much worse if I don't.

24 A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
How then can anyone understand their own way?
I love this one.  This is how I feel today.  I have no idea where I'm going in the long run.  All I can do is keep working for the Lord, for my family.  My steps are directed by Him.  He has many surprises along the way.

27 The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
I love this verse.  If I have no spirit I'll be depressed.  But if I can just keep looking up to Jesus, each day, I keep going.  It reminds me of the old saying, "Keep your spirits up!"  Athletes are good at this.  The Lord has a way of restoring my joy, sometimes I pray He'll provide what He knows I need.  I honestly don't always know.  Paul describes Christians as running a race.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
NIV