Category Archives: Simple things that make life better

Announcing the Winners!

It’s really fun how the drawing turned out! Empty-Nest Man won the book, The Joy of joy of letting goLetting Go: Releasing Your Teens into Real Life in the Big World! If the series on releasing our children to adulthood blessed you, I believe you’ll be blessed by his new blog. And as crazy as this seems that Empty Nest Man won the book on empty nest, I promise it was not rigged. I wrote out each name on paper and drew two. He was drawn first, and He chose his book!

Winner of the Colors of Hope inspirational coloring book is Lacey!

Her comment asked a question: Your devotional time sounds both joyous and thought-provoking, Paula. Just out of curiosity…not that it really matters, except for preference…do you use colored pencils, or crayons? My daughter has 17155194_10154303091171723_2711020159173082596_nbeen ill, and I bought a new box of over 100 crayon’s for her. Fresh, new crayons with a crayon sharpener included. There’s something special about using a new crayon or recently sharpened pencil.

My answer to Lacey was: I’ve been using markers or colored pencils, but that may be because I have pencils to sharpen but not fresh new crayons! I think that would be a great question for Lisa, though! 

So I contacted the expert, Lisa Samson who said:

Colored pencils would work better for the book. There are smaller spaces that would be hard to access with crayons. Although, there are some pages that would work just fine with crayon because they have been designed for people of all skills!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the drawings. I hope to do more in the future! Stay tuned!

Advertisements

Pondering With a Coloring Book 2

So yesterday I posted about how unhappy I was with my color choices as I started a new page in Lisa Joy Samson’s Colors of Hope (on sale today on CBD). I mentioned that as I colored the  Lord revealed to me  thoughts about being creative and brave and willing to try new things in life.

Following is what I pondered as I continued coloring that particular page:

I’m still not done with this coloring page or its accompanying verse (When you call out to me and come to me and pray to me, I’ll hear you), but I gotta say, I’m loving how this is coming together–even the yellow and blue I didn’t like at first.

Today three things went through my head as I colored and chatted with Jesus. The first was simply joy. I think the happy colors brought that out! I worshiped, with little praise songs freely bouncing around in my head. I wanted to celebrate His creativity, love, power, and beauty. This mixed with the ponderings I posted yesterday led me to think about what it looks like to be a follower who surrenders fully, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, without forgetting that life has other gardens, too. Beautiful Eden gardens where we enjoy bounty and beauty and walk in intimacy with our creator.

I want to understand how to live as one who walks in surrender when called to hardship or a season of sacrifice–or even to live without getting angry at God when life sends me a curve ball.

AND I want to be a joyful woman who is adventurous and lifts her face to the breeze. Free. Focused on the glory of the life God desires for us. Believing in His goodness.

The second line of thought was about perspective. As I worked around the edges of my coloring page, I saw previous work differently. I was able to see little flaws I hadn’t noticed and fix them. They didn’t bother me. At this stage of the process I was far enough along to simply handle them. No stress. And as more spaces were colored I started getting a sense of the joy of the whole picture and how it fit together, not just the unfinished parts that made no sense at first. I don’t think I have to explain either of the metaphors popping out there!

20170311_082302

The third pondering was simple joy in God’s provision for play and refreshment as I color. In this season of my son’s upcoming wedding, my other son’s graduation, and my efforts to meet a May 1st book deadline, I’m incredibly grateful to the Lord for leading me to play through this devotional coloring book. What delight to see the happy colors, to be creative without need for perfection or plan, to just hang out with him.

The last many years He’s often pulled me out of my more serious approach to time with just the two of us. I’m learning to rest in His wisdom in leading our relationship. There are seasons for all kinds of relating with the Lord, and I love the deeper study times as well as the intensive prayer and journaling times, but He knows I can be too serious, too responsible, so He pulls me out for long walks or gives me a coloring book and asks me just to be in His presence.

To chat or not.

To play.

Isn’t our God good?!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this three blog series about the joys of coloring and the things Lisa and I learned while interacting with Colors of Hope. Next week I’ll be talking about navigating empty nest as I interview Vicki Caruana, who wrote, “The Joy of Letting Go.” This book releases April 1, no foolin’! Receiving an advanced copy of her book in the mail the week my oldest son married his beautiful bride was quite timely. (I hope to also blog about the wedding soon. It was a glorious day full of joy and peace! There is joy in letting go. 😉 )

Until Tomorrow,

paula-another-test-401x192-2 - Copy

PS If you’re interested in hearing more about my journey out of the “quiet time” box of my past and into more freedom to be playful with the LORD, you can read about it at the end of my book, Soul Scents: Bloom, available now on Amazon.

Pondering with a Coloring Book 1

Yesterday I posted an interview with Lisa Joy Samson,  who created the beautiful Colors of Hope coloring book. It reminded me of some coloring epiphanies I had, so I thought I’d share them with you.

The first one was written a few weeks ago as I turned to the coloring book for gentle meditation and peaceful time with the LORD in a season where life seemed busy. Happy, but busy and in need of some quiet stress relief. I shared my thoughts on Facebook, but I thought maybe you’d like to see them too.

Hope it blesses you today.

Pondering 1 ~
So you know how sometimes you have a sense that the Lord is nudging your spirit? I think He’s offering me a coloring epiphany. lol It started yesterday. I was meditating on Romans 15:13 as I colored. My son Seth happened to be here briefly. I pointed to what I was working on and asked him what color I should use next. “Mom,” he said, “the great thing about coloring is there is no right or wrong choice.” (And yes, there was a twinkle in his eye that said, “really did you just ask that?”)

20170307_113344

So today I start a new picture. Honestly, I’m a little judgmental about every choice I make. Too much yellow. Why did I decide to add in blue? I wish I had a prettier shade of purple.

20170308_075500

But I keep going. I pray the accompanying Scripture, thanking God that He always hears my prayers.

Coloring one spot leads to another and soon there is yellow and blue in places I never planned. But the presence of the colors there helps me feel better about my earlier choices because the white spaces are being filled in a way that things are starting to look connected and whole.

The stirring comes again, and I try to listen, eventually putting down my colored pencils and grabbing my journal. I’m still processing, but what I think the Lord is nudging my heart about is freedom. Freedom to try a new color and trust that sometimes (I’m not talking morality here, just life) there is no right or wrong choice. He wants His kids to explore. To play. To create. But we’re afraid. We don’t want to make the wrong choice. So we stay stagnant and resist a more adventurous, colorful life. We’re afraid of too much yellow, you know?

I’ve always been a strong proponent of seeking God’s will. For many years my life verse was Psalm 32:8, which basically says God will lead us on the best path for our life, advising us and watching over us. So I asked Him this morning how living more free to explore fits with this thinking.

I’m still in process, but this is what I think I got. Sometimes we are so afraid of making a wrong choice that we can’t step out of the box the world has put us in. He is inviting us to adventure. To color. To playful exploration. But we’re bound up in our concerns about doing it right. Best. Not making a mistake.

Meanwhile there’s Jesus calling to us, “Wanna explore with me? There are beautiful pathways over here. This one has more flowers. That one has a great mountain view. Over there we can see the ocean! Which one sounds fun? Which one makes your heart leap with anticipation? Whatever you choose will be the best path, because we’ll be on it together!”

But we can’t even hear Him because we’re afraid to pick up that bright yellow. We keep walking, head down, not realizing we’re playing it safe, not best. We’re walking an old path, not a best path.

Back to the coloring book. It’s like those little spots that connect and lead to another spot are the paths I was thinking about above. And God created the whole coloring book after all. So when I get brave and choose something I’m not sure about, He just chuckles and thinks about how coloring right there with that color will connect with lines and shapes that will eventually color in white spaces I hadn’t even noticed and make the picture beautiful. I’m exploring. Having fun. Adventure. He’s enjoying watching His child play, and He loves her creativity. He comes and plays with me, sometimes suggesting a specific color, but often asking me which one I want to pick up.

20170309_120556

And all the while it’s the best pathway because we’re exploring together. Free to take chances. Free to create.

Free to play.

More Coloring Ponderings Tomorrow,

paula-another-test-401x192-2 - Copy

Fun with Lisa Samson

Lisa!IMG_4783

What joy and delight to have you here on Free to Flourish, my friend! I gotta tell you that I am loving your new inspirational coloring book, Colors of Hope!  Your artwork and the Scriptures you chose wash over me in joy and peace. I mentioned on a earlier blog that the Lord used your coloring book to help me be more playful as I connected with Him in a busy season.

Sometimes I just need a little less intense way to have some time of quiet with the LORD. Don’t get me wrong. I love deep study, deep prayer, journaling—all of that. I’m wired for deep spiritual processing. But at the same time I sense the LORD calling to me to rest. To meditate on His hope. Not to take myself and life so seriously. He is in the beauty. The art. The creativity. He is joy. He shares His joy, His hope, His peace as I simply turn my gaze toward Him. Colors of Hope has helped me do just that. And it is interesting that deep still comes out of this more playful approach. Thank you, Lisa, for letting Him pour His Spirit and creativity through you in this venue. I know I’m not the only one drawn to Him through this coloring book!

Let’s start at the beginning of your journey with this project. Your work as a novelist gained acclaim as some of the most thoughtful and well-written work published in the Christian Booksellers market. I’m glad you’re still writing, and I’m glad you are also embracing this form of art and sharing it with us. Where did your desire to create an inspirational coloring book come from?

17155194_10154303091171723_2711020159173082596_nThank you so much, Paula. I so appreciate every good thing you’ve had to say! Wow! And I’m so happy that Colors of Hope has been a meaningful experience for you. Mission accomplished!  Colors of Hope came from a heart’s cry to God. I had gone through a divorce, was unsettled inside myself and in the world around me. It was a very dark time, and I just didn’t know what to do. I had been coloring for a few months and I realized I had a knack for creating mandala-style art. So I just prayed to God. I said, “You said that you would bless the work of our hands, to establish that, so I’m going to claim that promise now. If I show up every day and draw, I’m going to claim that blessing.”  And so I did. I drew faithfully, and my daughter helped me edit the drawings on the computer, and we sent them off to Revell with a description for two follow up books.  Vicki Crumpton, my editor and champion, took the work through all the stages and we ended up with three books. Colors of Hope, Colors of Faith, and Colors of Love.

All of your art is original and beautifully hand-drawn. Can you tell us a little about the process of creating this art?

It’s important to me that this does not look computer-generated. I wanted real lines that originated on paper.  I use a lightboard at times as well. So I initially do the sketch on graph paper so I don’t have to do a lot of time-consuming measuring with the ruler, and then I transfer that to a light board, place a nice clean sheet of cardstock on top and ink in the design. That’s about it!

 I gotta be honest. Sometimes coloring feels like it takes too much time! I’ve learned to set a timer because I would prefer to finish a picture in a day, but I need to get to my other responsibilities. Here’s what I discovered. The first day I spent extended time coloring I wrote 4,309 words on my contracted novella! That’s a productive writing day! They say there is actually a connection between coloring and productivity in adults. Can you speak to this idea?

That’s not surprising.  Coloring de-stresses us. There is something about utilizing our small motor skills that enables us to focus on something else other than our worries.  In Colors of Hope, there is a coordinating Bible verse on which the colorist can meditate as well. So couple those two things together and you can come to your writing, or whatever you work you are doing, with a much better, less-stressed state of being. So, naturally, your output will be easier to achieve and, in your case, of greater volume.  Our brains are marvelous things!

I mentioned my journey with your coloring book took me places somewhat unexpected, places I would consider pretty deep for such a gentle process. I shared some of them on Facebook and plan to share those pondering here on Free to Flourish throughout this week. Why do you think the coloring book is touching these places within us?20170311_082302

I’m not surprised you had this experience, Paula. The Psalmist says God leads us beside still waters and restores our soul. I feel like artistic expression, and such a gentle one as coloring, is the perfect opportunity for the Spirit to speak words of love and depth to our hearts.  We are in a state of less stress and worry, and more open to hear God’s whispers.

Colors of Hope is absolutely beautiful! How do you see the concept of beauty in relationship to God and who He is and how He relates to us?

God speaks to me in several love languages. One of the more prominent ones is beauty. When I see beauty sometimes I just well up inside knowing it is a gift.  I am a sky-watcher and allow myself to bask in the wonder and majesty of the beauty found there almost every day. Living in Colorado has made this an even more wondrous experience! I believe God wants to give us beautiful sights, sounds, smells, feels, and experiences. Beauty is one way we can experience God, and in turn, through us, He can experience Himself in the beauty of our reception of Him.

I think you and I are learning some similar things–like how releasing grows into receiving. 20170310_135326How hope blooms in unexpected places. Can you share a little around these concepts?

Releasing is sometimes letting things be exactly what they are and not being attached to our own expectations. Releasing is less striving and more receiving. So when we accept who we are, God’s Beloved Child, made in God’s image and likeness, there are so many things we can let go of and release to become whatever it is supposed to be in its highest form. In that way, we see things bloom in a way that is unexpected and far better than we could have hoped. Hope without trust is like wandering in the dark. Hope with full trust is that childlike state of wonder and expectation, being God’s Child who knows their Heavenly Parent will not give them stones and spiders. Consider the lilies, consider the sparrows. As Jesus said, “If God so clothes the lilies and feeds the sparrows, how much more will He take care of you?”

How has your relationship with God changed in the last ten years?

I’ve experienced God in so many ways the past ten years, but to sum it up, through the twists and turns and dark passages, I realized the Light of God never left, I just felt unworthy to look up and receive it.  Now I know better. I know that “walking in the Light as He is in the Light” is where I want to be. God is Love. God is good, kind, compassionate and merciful, and I can trust Him to always be those things. Before, well, I was pretty much walking on eggshells all the time wondering if I was “doing it right.”

Has this change affected your work?

Yes.  But I’m not completely sure how yet.  I’ve been working on a novel that was conceived in the dark times, but I know that was for a purpose. So integrating that work now to show the Light and Love of God is what the piece is going through and it’s exciting to see the transmutation of it.  As for my art and particularly the coloring, my purpose is to bring joy to people. Coloring is so helpful in the relief of some of  the symptoms of mental illness such as depression and anxiety.  I do a live coloring show on Facebook that also gives tips not just for coloring but for overcoming some of the symptoms by diet and retraining ourselves to think a little differently, more gently, and with love and compassion for not only others, but ourselves as well. My prayer is that people don’t have to suffer a moment longer than is necessary. Healing is possible.

I love the Facebook live coloring times you offer on your page. The way you talk about the concepts of the Scriptures you share in such a meaningful, light, conversational way is such a blessing. I’ve also learned some great coloring techniques that a non-artist like me wouldn’t think of. How can my readers access these?

By coming to my profile.  You can click on the videos section and they’re all right there for you to access!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Just the message that God loves you, right where you are, no matter what. He always has and He always will.

Paula here again. You can find Colors of Hope at Lisa’s website as well as in Barnes and Noble and most Christian bookstores. I noticed that today it is on sale on-line at  Christian Books. It can also be found on-line at: Amazon  and Barnes and Noble.

Hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did!

Blessings,

paula-another-test-401x192-2 - Copy

How Do You Juggle?

How do you juggle multiple responsibilities and still nurture your heart?

Or do you?

I find it’s a constant choice to seek joy, peace, and balance when the pace of life increases. As I type, I’m less than a week out from my son’s wedding. (Exciting!) A few weeks out from a book deadline. (Exciting!) And coming off a wonderful three-day speaking engagement in February. (Exciting!) Of course there are other joys and responsibilities in between the big events. Finding joy in hardship is a challenge for me, but I’m discovering joy can also be lost in good times if I’m not careful, just because of the pace!

So . . . how to hang onto the joy? To celebrate all this good even as time feels shorter (which of course it never is, really.) How to stay peaceful in the hurry?

A little self-care helps. This morning I took a time out to re-read a few passages from a book releasing on April 1 by a friend of mine Vicki Caruana, of the popular Apples and Chalkdust blog. 20170321_093105Why take the time? The topic is timely. I don’t think it is coincidence that the week my son marries I receive The Joy of Letting Go in the mail. I devoured an advanced copy of this book before it published, and I knew the wisdom and grace Vicki offers would be as good for my heart as my eggs and avocados were this morning.  It was.

The pretty book cover inspired me to an extra bit of self-nuture, so I grabbed this beautiful cup given to me by the lovely bride-to-be (my new daughter!!) and that inspired me to pull out my grandmother’s china and a new cloth napkin I purchased for the bridal shower. (Isn’t it lucky my reading glasses match too?) I don’t usually eat out of china, but this extra touch of beauty only cost me about thirty seconds and it meant something to me!

What touch of beauty would cost little time but mean something to you today?

The other thing I’ve done during this busy season is engage with Colors of Hope, the first coloring book in the new inspirational coloring series by Lisa Joy Samson. If you love good fiction, you’ve likely read one of Lisa’s novels. You’ve also heard her name here because Lisa drew the cover art for my Soul Scents book series.

It seems counter-intuitive to color when you have a lot to get done, but I’ve found that it calms me and makes me more creative and productive later, especially when tackling the novella deadline. Besides it’s fun and playful, and with the Bible verses and beauty of the art, the coloring book helps me spend some restful moment thinking about the One who gives hope. 20170311_082302.jpgHow about you? Is there something you enjoy that is simple and creative that will bring your stress down and free you to more productivity? (A hint: I do set a timer when I color, so this creative endeavor doesn’t suck me into giving up more time than is wise. I take several days to color one page.)

17156189_10211441460007228_7758007868974633871_nI’m still walking, and it still provides great joy and peace. I’ll be honest and admit that it is hard to make myself take the time, and too often I don’t make the choice to get outside, but every time I do I feel better and have more peace and stamina when I return to my work. Added bonus right now? If I pay attention, I see spring coming!

I also often use this time to catch up with a friend. Another great stress reducer!

How about you? Where can you find a few minutes to get some sunshine and a little activity? Time with a friend?

If you know me well, you’re going to be shocked at my last stress-reducing activity. My husband actually laughed out loud this morning when I said I needed to climb out of bed because the sunrise is so pretty.

Honestly, I’m a huge fan of sunsets, but sunrises happen too early for me. That said, for some reason I’ve seen every one of them this week. Instead of letting it stress me out that I’m not sleeping as much as I prefer, I slip into the living room and position myself for the best view. Curling beneath a soft blanket, I take a few minutes just to enjoy.20170318_065141I don’t know whether you’re a sunrise or sunset person–or both! But I hope tonight or tomorrow morning you’ll pause a moment and let the beauty seep in!

Here’s to capturing joy and peace in the midst of the bustle.

Now I’m off to clean the bathrooms for wedding company!

(By the way, after the wedding I’ve invited Lisa to share with us about the benefits of coloring and Vickie to help us process the joy of releasing our progeny to their adult lives. I hope you’ll join us the next few weeks. It’s going to be beautiful!)

Blessings,

paula-another-test-401x192-2

 

Grounded

The silliest things can keep a gal grounded. Like being tagged on Facebook. If you’re on this social media, you know the one going around. Seven days of pictures for the “love your spouse” challenge.

When you choose to return to dark stairways into the deepest places of your heart, you need to be grounded. Especially when you step onto them and begin the descent when for a long time you’ve stood at the top only briefly and turned away.

I don’t walk alone. Jesus holds my hand, lights the torches so I can see the next step. I know His goal. To clear out the darkness completely. To flood these forgotten places with glorious golden light so they are no longer hidden passageways where despair lurks, but bright, gleaming staircases that are easily traversed for the good of all.

As I write, more raw than every before, I am humored by the timing of the Facebook tag. As I do the seven-day challenge, I am reminded, every day, of God’s good gifts. Of joy. Of good memories and healing and laughter.

Of how blessed I am.

And really, no matter what life is asking of you, it offers the beautiful moments. The joy of loving relationship, the fragrance of the lilacs, the glory of a sunset. It’s in embracing the little things, being present in the moments, where we find life’s greatest riches.

Giving Away 21 Days of Love and More

20160620_142135Have you ever sensed internal growth as a result of reading good fiction? My friend Kathy Ide believes strongly in the power of story. As an editor and the founder and director of The Christian Pen, Kathy is also well connected to the authors she loves.

From her passion came a beautiful four book set of fiction lovers devotionals. Kathy and I reconnected recently when I served as faculty for PENCON, the professional conference for editors. When I told her how much I loved her idea of combining fictional stories with devotional thoughts, she immediately gifted me two sets–one to give away and one to read!

I began 21 Days of Love during a recent get-a-way with my best friends from college.2016-06-16 16.57.29

It was the perfect light reading for the setting–great little short stories with powerful takeaways.

If you’d like to win the set of these beautiful, hard-back devotionals, 21 Days of Love, 21 Days of Joy, 21 Days of Grace, and 21 Days of Christmas, leave a comment and an email address. I’ll draw a name from the comments here and on social media and send the books to the winner!

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

paula-another-test-401x192-2