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.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Happy Thanksgiving USA!  Really though, as Christians, everyday is Thanksgiving day : )

Here's my prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father thank You for all the many blessings we have received.  For all the things You've done that are unseen to us.  Thank You for Your amazing patience and love.  Forgive us where we have failed You, and help us to be stronger, to have self control.  Please help our nation Father, we don't know what to do.  But our eyes are on You.  To the praise of Your glorious grace, thank You.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Some thanksgiving verses:

I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Psalms 69:30

Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
Psalms 95:2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalms 100:4-5

The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
Isaiah 51:3

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 4:4-5

I am thankful for you.  May God bless you abundantly!

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Self control

I can be brilliant, but without self-control I can be broke, lonely, and in trouble.  Both children and adults need to learn how to control themselves in order to be successful.  Even in reading the Bible it takes some discipline to get to it each day.  When I was working 13 hour days, I had very little time to myself.  So, I'd pop open my Bible and read a verse and pray.  If I had more than 5 minutes, I'd read a paragraph.  Somehow it was always good.

Proverbs 19

2 Desire without knowledge is not good—
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!
Ok, how many times have you dashed out the door, realizing you forgot your car keys?  That's how I see this verse.   I have the desire to drive the car but not the keys.  Learning is like that,  it's important to take time to learn.  Even if I have great talent but don't take the time to learn to use it, it's not good.

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
yet their heart rages against the Lord.
This sounds so familiar.  When I was a new Christian, if something went wrong I'd ask God why He did that?  I'd become angry.  But years of walking with the Lord have taught me to stop and really consider- is this from God?  or did I get myself into this mess?  I realize now, sometimes trials come to bless us with faith and compassion.  We can always trust this verse:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
It's the first verse I memorized.  But if someone is brokenhearted by tragedy, this is hard to grasp.  Sometimes we just need to cry, to let out our pain.

8 The one who gets wisdom loves life;
the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.
Wisdom makes life much easier because you understand how to enjoy it.  Understanding is so important.  In my work, I draw pictures of my ideas and verify with clients if this is what they really want.  One client told me, "You do what I like!"  It's good to understand what people need.

11 A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
Patience and overlooking offenses is key in any relationship, especially marriage or friendships.  Of course there's a point I need to talk about it too.

13 A foolish child is a father’s ruin,
and a quarrelsome wife is like
the constant dripping of a leaky roof.
This is another proverb that always makes me laugh.  Maybe I'm a bit weird but this description always jumps out at me.  A quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof!  So true.  I can hear the drip drip drip drip...  It applies to men too.  My husband and I have had times where we just get annoyed with each other.  A good pillow fight helps clear the air.

18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.
I think verse 13 and 18 go together.  A child who has no self-control reflects poorly on their parents.  A temper tantrum brings everyone's eyes to poor Mom.  Most of us understand 2-3 year olds are really hard to raise.  And don't look down on the Mom. I try and smile to reassure her I understand.  Verse 18 warns that unless children learn discipline and are trained to behave properly, the parent is setting them up for troubles in the future.  I remember back in the 70's when teachers were forbidden from disciplining children in school.  When I worked with young people who were home schooled, they worked very hard, had such peace and focus.  The only thing that was hard for them was confidence.

14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
A prudent wife is from the Lord, how cool is that?  Had to look up that word, we don't use it much (prudent- shrewd in the management of practical affairs).  This would be a person who watches the finances and uses up the leftovers.  I think of it as also putting some away for the future.  Our future is a little unknown right now with the economy  problems.

17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
When we give to the poor, we are lending to the Lord.  We will be rewarded.

19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.
Self-control again.  If someone has no self-control, they'll constantly be in trouble.  It's so important to learn this.  Yet sometimes so hard to maintain.

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
I have lots of plans.  But truly I want the Lord's purpose to be done.  His purposes reach the world.

22 What a person desires is unfailing love;
better to be poor than a liar.
I think we all desire unfailing love.  It describes Jesus.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

23 The fear of the Lord leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
It's so good to be content knowing we've done all we could, and that the Lord is watching over us.

I don't know about you, but I always find self-control to be challenging in one way or another.  So glad God forgives, and helps us yet another day.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Oy!  The mouth again...  This is serious.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This is a humbling chapter...  These are the verses that stood out to me, lots of wisdom here.

Proverbs 18

1 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
I've seen this many times.  There are people who have an agenda and will force their personal beliefs on others- even to the point of causing quarrels or creating a judging spirit in the person who's listening.  Probably a good time to wipe the dust off our feet and move on.

2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.
Guilty!  Boy do I have some opinions.  And, sometimes I'm more interested in sharing my point of view than seeking to understand what others are saying.  Once I get off my soap box and listen, I usually find the other person is right too.

4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
I've gotten myself into some deep water at times, that's for sure.  When someone speaks wisdom it's like a rushing stream, good for the soul.

13 To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.
I would like to apologize to any of my blogger friends where I may have not completely read a post before commenting (blush).  My mind works very quickly and in many directions.  This is an easy trap for me to fall into.  I hear part of the conversation and think I understand.  Listening is sometimes good medicine for others and also helps me come up with the right response.

22 He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord.
See ladies?  We are of value to the Lord.  My thanks to all those guys who recognize on their blogs that God uses women as leaders, some even support women as preachers.  Many have taken (1 Cor 14:34) which refers to disruptive behavior in Church, to mean we shouldn't speak at all.  Paul has some words about women teaching men in (1 Tim. 2:11-15).  I'm not called to be a preacher so it's never really bothered me.  But there are times when a woman needs to speak and shouldn't be chastised for it.  Especially in ministry.  I've heard some say if women lead, the men won't.  We are all called to Christ and service, there shouldn't be extremes in this. Hmmm... wonder where the problem really lies. It's interesting to realize that it was women who told the disciples about Jesus' resurrection (Luke 24:9-10).  Would anyone have dared to tell Mother Teresa to be quiet?  Did I mention I see all sides at once?  I will do as He leads.  I am His servant.

10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
These 2 verses describe Jesus to me.  He is a friend who sticks closer to us than a brother, our fortified tower.  He lifts our spirits above the troubles of our world.

Here's how Jesus is described by Paul- our perfect example in relationships.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness.  8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

These verses are like Proverbs 18:10,24,  Jesus' name is above all names.  There is strength and power in His name.
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:3-11 NIV

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

After the hurricane left New Jersey, all the people were talking about it.  And everyone agreed, the worst part was the news reporting.   We heard about it for 2 weeks before it came.   There were actually weathermen who wanted it to be the storm of the century.  "Hello?  We are real people here." 

Sometimes the news can be so frightening, sometimes life is frightening.  It's so refreshing to be able to turn to the Bible and find peace.  God is still in control of the universe.  He can turn our darkness into light.  The light that shines in our hearts, even when the electricity goes out.  I can't begin to describe the many times the world seemed full of insanity.  I've opened my Bible and found peace in God.  This verse promises that He will turn our darkness into light.  Not necessarily in things and a lack of storms, but in our hearts where we can endure whatever happens next.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Keeping the peace

This is my first attempt at oils in Corel Painter...  it's fun but more practice would be good : )
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

When we were driving from Seattle to New Jersey to move here, the weather turned very bad.  There were heavy snows in the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington.  Storms were brewing all the way across the USA.  I prayed the whole time.  As we headed over the Cascades we heard about avalanche warnings on the radio.  Then we learned we'd just passed under one.  We weren't harmed, got through in the nick of time.   This could only have been God's hand protecting us.  It was definitely time to stop when one of the cats hung upside down from the roof of the car with his claws.  We made it to New Jersey safely.  Along the road we saw storms all around us, but for the most part stayed in a cloud free bubble.  No worries though, the highest point in New Jersey is 220 feet as opposed to Mt. Rainier at 14,411 feet.  I believe we're safe from avalanches now.  Should I say that out loud?

Here's some more wisdom for today.

Proverbs 17

1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.
I agree with this.  I've lived in some houses full of strife.  I always hated to go home.  I remember looking around at the house and furniture, thinking, "This is a nice house, but why is it so miserable?"  Strife means angry, conflict, or discord.  It wears on people if it goes on constantly.  God's ways are so healthy.  So glad he gave us an Owner's Manual (Bible).

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.
Sometimes peace in our hearts is a miracle.  Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego had a bad day when they were told to worship an image of gold.  I love this story.  They refused and were forced into a fiery furnace.  There's a time to keep the peace, and a time to stand up for what is true.
19 He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” Daniel 3:19-26 NIV

Jesus came to rescue them : )  He shows His glory when He brings us through trials.  He tests our hearts- and makes our faith stronger.  He's with us when we need Him most.   Sharing our testimonies with others helps them too.

5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
I guess I just don't think about the Creator when I meet people.  When I see people, I see feelings first and then know how to proceed.  This is saying that anyone who mocks a poor person (financial or in spirit),  by making fun of them, or acting rude to them is actually showing contempt for God.  He created all of us.  When everyone is laughing that is good- including the one who was oppressed.

9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
I like this verse.  Covering over an offense means to forget it, don't talk about it, keep it a secret.

17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
This one is so true.  If I love a friend, nothing can take it away.  Even my husband, and we've had some pretty adverse times for sure.  I believe being a friend with our spouse is one of the most important things.

18 One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge
and puts up security for a neighbor.
Money can tear people apart.  It makes us competitive, selfish, even hurtful to others.  This verse describes making a pledge to pay someone elses debt if they can't.  Usually a person would do this for a friend who is doing well financially.  But, what happens if they aren't?  A friendship and trust is broken.  What I've learned is to never loan more to someone more than I can do without.  Don't expect it to come back.  If they repay me that's great.  But, if they don't, I gave them a gift in the first place.  No worries.  It's about being wise with money and keeping relationships safe. 

27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
A warning to watch what I say.  Sometimes it means letting my husband make a mistake because he needs to understand.

28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.
This is a beauty.  It's one of my favorite verses.  There's a time to be silent and not a fool, a time to listen.  Even when I'm a fool : )

Friday, November 11, 2011

Making plans

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I have a praise, I finished up my New York Institute of Photography lessons and tests : )  It was a lot of work and included everything from how digital cameras function to shooting perfect building architecture.  It's 6 units that include a total of 43 lessons.  I just need to finish my final photo assignments and I'll be a graduate with a certificate.  So far it's been all A's.  Prayers are appreciated because one of the photos is a glamor shot... Yikes!  I've been in blue jeans since I left office work. Actually they're all tough shots.

My plan was to work on my photography first.  I thought it would be the easiest, quickest way to get into freelancing and earn some money.  Next I'd planned to move on to painting and writing.  I've always dreamed of doing children's books and novels. 

I was reading my Bible one day and was so encouraged.  I thought, "Everyone should know about the Bible."  God gave me a desire to do this blog.  This blog has actually become my favorite to work on.  Would you believe, I'm writing, doing photos, and artwork?    I made my plans but God directed my steps.

Some of these verses are actually in my business plan.  There's so much wisdom in this chapter for making plans.

Proverbs 16

All I can say is Amen!  So many times I've had to ask the Holy Spirit for words to say.   When I do the words come out so nicely : )
1 To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

This is so true.  When I went in to do Nursing Home portraits, my motives were to keep things simple and move quickly with the elderly, to earn some money for our bills.  God changed my heart when I walked in the door.  The faces were so hopeful, so happy to see me.  I fell in love with many of them.  The guy who couldn't stop talking, the flirt, the beautiful 106 year old woman.  Maybe I should listen to my heart and do more.
2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
but motives are weighed by the Lord.

These verses support what I wrote in the beginning.  When you commit your plans to the Lord- things often unfold in the most surprising ways.
3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
4 The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.

This verse is a bit challenging.  There were people that didn't like me at work.  Some were jealous, some didn't want to see a woman doing the job I had.  Some even wanted to take my job from me deciding they deserved it more than me.  But, I just realized several made peace with me in the end.  My secret to success?  Faith.   And lots of prayer.
7 When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
8 Better a little with righteousness
than much gain with injustice.

Ok.  I confess, in college, I flunked my first Old Testament test.   I'd never read it before.  There were so many people to remember and all the sites!  Jebusites, Hittites, Canaanites, Ammonites... Oy!  I had a group of future Pastors walk me around campus the night before the test drilling me, "Who was Isaiah?  When did Abraham come into the picture?"  I was so confused.  The day before the test the Professor quoted this verse (for full effect think of a Southern accent).  He said, "Don't ferget to study fer yer Bible test, remember..."
18 Pride goeth before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before the fall of man.
Then he added, "I don't want to frighten anyone, or mention lightening bolts if yer considerin' cheatin'.  Especially on a BIBLE test."  Dr. Puckett was awesome.  Sometimes it takes more time, practice and lots of study to pass a test.  Now I'm writing about the Bible, go figure...  35 years makes a difference : )  If you're confused by the Bible, don't give up.

I just like this verse,  it's beautiful and visual.
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

True.  How many of us would work at all if we didn't get hungry?
26 The appetite of laborers works for them;
their hunger drives them on.

This is another favorite.  Aging is a good thing especially if we're walking with the Lord.  One day I'll allow my gray hair to shine.
31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

There's nothing like a traffic jam to test our faith.  I've heard some of the great Christian leaders of our day confess, when they're stuck in traffic they've broken one of the 10 commandments...  But there's something else about traffic and obstacles to think about.  Sometimes I make all these plans.  First I'll do this, then I'll do that, and presto!  All my dreams will come true.  But I honestly don't recall things ever being that easy.  If it is easy I wonder why...

What I have noticed is how when I come up with plans some are inspired by God, and some don't make sense at all : )  This verse promises God will direct our steps, and in humbleness we can claim this promise.   A word of caution, always remember God is most concerned about our heart.  Money is no object for Him- He can provide at any time.  But it's our hearts He likes to work in.  So you may accidentally glue your hair to a project.  Or trip while carrying a beautiful cake.  Or even have a dog walk across your painting palette and leave pretty paw prints all over the carpet.  (blush)  We shouldn't give up.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1

So I'll go ahead and make plans and dream big dreams, but remember He will direct my steps.   There just might be a few traffic jams to move me in the right direction.

This photo is a real New Jersey traffic jam.  I told you it was a jungle here (hahaha).  Actually I shot it at Six Flags Wild Safari Park.  The animals roam freely through the park, unless they are meat eaters...  I chose this shot because the Lord has brought this verse to mind over the past few days.  I was praying about a photo to illustrate it, then traffic jams came to mind.  Then this photo.  I love giraffes, how did God come up with all these animals?  Amazing God- the ultimate Artist and Creator!

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The soothing tongue

That's about as happy as I can make a tree : )
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

You will be happy to know I'm embracing my inner home-maker.  I scrubbed today...  I WILL adjust to working at home : )  Err "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!!?"  (Phil. 4:13)  Here are some more bits of wisdom from Proverbs. 

Proverbs 15

This reminds me of two ways to answer someone who's chattering, "Let me think about that for a minute," or "Shut up!"  I chatter sometimes so I know.  And, well, there's those who don't take a hint...  When I was doing Technical Writing, one of my biggest challenges with interviewing engineers was being patient.  They are thinkers.  If I interrupted their silence, they'd have to go back and start over working out their answer. : )  We are a funny bunch aren't we?  We're all different, all unique.  Sometimes being quiet is the right answer.
1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

God sees both the wicked and the good.  He is the judge of both.  Sometimes we don't see things the way He does.  It reminds me of this verse,  Jesus said,

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Matthew 7:1
3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

I have a Muslim friend who is one of my biggest cheerleaders.  When I get discouraged, she always says, "I told you you could do it!"  And then I have a relative who says things like, "Well I hope it will be profitable."  Ouch...  A soothing tongue is huge.
4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

When I'm around a wise person, their knowledge helps me grow and understand.  I love to listen to what others think.  I may not agree all the time, but I can usually find at least an ounce of wisdom.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
but the hearts of fools are not upright.

Well, I have seen this before- actually I've been this before...  Afraid to be around Christians or wise people because I knew I was doing the wrong thing.
12 Mockers resent correction,
so they avoid the wise.

Doing good makes my heart happy.  Sometimes the joy radiates through my whole soul.  When I have heartache, I feel crushed.  But faith isn't a feeling, it's a choice.  The Bible helps me find joy again.  And it's good to let the tears out too.  God designed us to have a good cry now and then.  Pain builds up in our hearts and like a tea kettle, it needs to be released.  Then there's hope again.
13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit.

I'm not one for positive thinking.  I think it leads to a nervous twitch in my eye, and muscle cramps in my back.  Faith in God is the answer for me.  The continual feast comes when I count it all joy.  When I see things as a way for me to grow in my faith, when I surrender and let Him handle things. 

James 1:2-3
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched,
but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

This has been repeated from another Proverb.  It's better to have faith and just a little, than the turmoil of great wealth.  Travel light, and enjoy the journey.
16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord
than great wealth with turmoil.

This reminds me of when my husband and I are arguing and we try and eat dinner together, or we've just received bad news.  Last week I had a great meal planned but my heart wasn't in it.  So I called up my husband and asked if he'd rather go get drive-through dinner, no sense wasting a good meal while we're pouting.  We both laughed and agreed.
17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.

Again, good advice can only come from a wise person.  These are the advisers who help us succeed.  You can sense when someone speaks wisdom can't you?
22 Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.

Sometimes someone says just the right thing and you know it was inspired!  My prayer partner does that.  So grateful for her, and her prayers.
23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word!

I've met people like this too, who have a sparkle in their eye- and a smile.  They are always a joy.  The Lord knows we need good news too.  So He gives us sunshine and rain as we grow in Him.
30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
and good news gives health to the bones.

Friday, November 4, 2011

When calamity comes

One of the great things about Proverbs is there's a verse for everything.  A little chunk of wisdom.  Some of these chapters are very long, and I feel bad when my posts are too long.  So I'm pulling out verses that stand out to me, as always feel free to read this chapter on your own to see the rest.   God tends to have a special message for us as individuals each day- so He may have something special for you : )

Proverbs 14

This reminds me of the saying, "You can't really know a man, until you walk a mile in his shoes."  When someone seems overly excited about their success, maybe it's because they've had lots of heartache.
10 Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy.

I believe this applies to both men and women.  Tearing down our houses to me, means tearing down those inside it.  Our house isn't a home without someone inside.  It speaks to me about cutting myself down as well.  I am God's, His daughter, who am I to tear down His work?  It's ok to have confidence especially with trust in the Lord.
14 The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

This is so true!  I am a little sister.  My big brother taught me so much about not believing everything I hear, or do everything your told without thinking.  Fingers don't belong in light sockets!  He was wrong.  Always have to learn things the hard way...  I laughed so hard remembering that I got tears.  : )  We have two choices in calamity panic or pray- sometimes both.
15 The simple believe anything,
but the prudent give thought to their steps.

It's all perspective, what our motives are.
22 Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.

My Grandmother, left a legacy of faith for my family.  It skipped a generation, but not me.  God has been faithful to her after all these years.
26 Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress,
and for their children it will be a refuge.

These two verses speak about the needy.  The "poor" in the Bible are both those who don't know Him, "poor in spirit."  And also those who are lacking money, those who have broken hearts.  These verses tell us to be kind to them.  There was a man a few weeks ago who was sitting alone on a seat at Church.  He usually sat with his wife.  He's a nice older fellow, I've always liked him.  So as I was leaving I walked over and said, "Hi!  How are you?"  He stood up with tears in his eyes and said, "God bless you."  And gave me a hug.  I don't know the story behind what happened, but I prayed all the way out the door.  Sometimes it's good to just be with someone, without words.  "Lord, give me eyes to see those who need a hug."
21 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor,
but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.
31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Stress is hard to handle for sure.  You have a medical test, then worry about the results, can't sleep, so you're memory gets weird.  Then you get a headache so you have to take medicine and wonder what that's doing to your body.  Hahaha, sometimes I wonder if tests are all that good for us.  Or maybe it's a faith issue.  Envy?  It makes me completely ignore my own life and focus on someone else.  Such a waste.
30 A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.

The righteous seek refuge in God!  I like that.  Truly though it's not so good to be around someone who gets extremely angry.  The word, "reposes" means put to rest.  By using wisdom and discernment we find peace in struggles.
32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,
but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.
33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning
and even among fools she lets herself be known.
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin condemns any people.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved
Focusing on one thing at a time is such a challenge!  Sometimes I pray and say something to the Lord. The next thing I'm thinking about what I'm cooking for dinner.  Then the Lord, then on to how much I really need to dust.  Then what I want to shoot next. Oh!  Back to the Lord.  It's important to learn to focus for sure!  Focus isn't easy is it?  But if we do the road will stretch out smooth before us : )  Everyone likes it when we focus on them while talking.  Especially the Lord.

I tend to want to jump into my work like I did in an office but there's other things to do too. : )  I read a book on Freelancing and learned this is common for creative people transitioning from office work.  It's not at all unusual to leave an office anxious to paint, only to come home and stare blankly at the computer.  We get used to being told what to do. 

One of the things the book mentioned is to turn off the computer when I'm not using it.  It's like TV I get dazed and my attention gets captured.  I jump into the web look for one thing, then another.  Sit back and wonder where my day went!  There are lots of sideshow distractions in our generation.  This verse promises if we focus, and watch what we're doing, God's plan will stretch out before us.

I think it applies to all aspects of our lives.  We can always ask the Holy Spirit to speak to us and help us focus too.

I shot this photo at Ocean Grove in New Jersey.  I thought it would be cool to get an angle shot from the boardwalk up.  And then people started showing up, the only one looking straight ahead is the lady on the left.  The boardwalk symbolizes the road we follow, the plan God has for each of us.  It's right in front of us, but we tend to look in other directions.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.