Category Archives: Spirit Seeker

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!

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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,

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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.

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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?”)

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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.

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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.

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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,

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Fun with Lisa Samson

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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,

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Listen Today!

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Just a quick note to invite you to listen today at 1 p.m. CT time (noon here in Denver) to the Truest Voice. Host Sharen Watson and I will talk about the journey of freedom, what it’s like to be a writer, and lots of good stuff. Just follow this link!

Telling

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This piece of paper–and the promises here–has been on my desk for the last many weeks as I write Soul Scents: Flourish. It’s the deepest journey I’ve been on in many years. Maybe ever.

There are things I’ve not shared publicly. Things that shamed me and kept me hidden.

My friend Mary DeMuth says an untold story never heals. Her bravery has astounded me over the years. She and I are called to be writers and speakers. Our stories are meant to be told out loud, on paper, where ever Jesus sends us.

Your story may need to be told too. Only maybe you speak it to your best friend or a counselor or maybe you start with your journal in a private space.

For years my telling was in my journals. With the trusted few. In freedom sessions and counseling sessions. But now He says I’m strong enough for the telling He called me to. He says He needs me to tell in this way. He says I need to tell like this. Soul Scents: Flourish is this telling.

In the summer of 2015 I wrote several blogs, very raw blogs, that I never hit publish on. I sensed the Lord wanting me to write as if I were telling for the first time what only those closest to me have known and understood.

It was hard writing. At the time He asked me only to write those blogs, not to publish them.

Now it is different. Those blogs are part of the journey I write about in Soul Scents: Flourish, the intense walk of coming out of emotional, spiritual, and verbal abuse. I hid for many reasons. My shame. Because I thought in light of the abuse some of you have suffered that mine was unworthy of sharing. Because I wanted to “honor” those who hurt me by keeping it private.

I wrote a few things for publication. I have articles in Wounded By Words and The Gift of Letting Go, but I asked my identity stay hidden behind a pen name.

And the Lord was okay with that.

For a season.

Last year He asked me if my silence was honoring or simply protecting my abuser as I was taught to do. Somehow I equated honor with silence. I don’t know if that is what the church taught or if the enemy twisted all that in my head. Now I think to honor is to be all I’m created to be.

Then He asked (through much conversation with my husband) what might happen if I broke my public silence. He asked me how many lives could heal if I shared.

Then He told me when evil’s claw is inserted into our deep places that it is real. That abuse cannot be compared. That evil is evil, and when you’ve been damaged by evil, it affects you. While you have to process the circumstances, while what happens matters, it is the assault of evil that damages, the same evil, no matter how it happens. No matter how bad it looks to someone else.

I didn’t know when I started writing and publishing the Soul Scents series a year ago, that He would ask me to tell in this last book. I didn’t know it wasn’t only about telling, but that it is about healing for me. Deep, deep processing. Without pretty little Christian bows topping off stories that aren’t pretty.

He is my healer. The first three books in the Soul Scents series share much of my healing journey. A reader who has become a friend and partner in this ministry, Wendi, asked me what the story behind the stories was. She sensed that the hard-earned truth in my first three books had a deeper root. She was right. Now I tell that story.

And in the telling comes deeper freedom. Deeper release. Deeper healing.

It’s almost finished my friends. I don’t have a release date, but we are very close. The rsz_pmapprov4-01choice to publish this book is a game changer for me. A life decision covered in months and months of prayer. A choice I didn’t know I would ever make.

I pray this book will be a game changer for someone else too. That they will wake up to the shrouds of lies and twisted truth the enemy has poured over them. That they hear the voice of Jesus who sets them free instead of the voice of religion which holds them in bondage. That Scripture will begin to leap off the page with new meaning and that where it has been shaded and twisted it will now shine in pure light, offering the hope and freedom He intended instead of the putting those who are hurting in straight jackets and keeping them there.

That’s my prayer.

Please pray it with me.

And pray me to the other side of this thing.

More soon,

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Honey Tears

IMAG0010The tears start early today. Little drops of golden honey that will bring healing to me and to the chosen who read my next book.

At least that’s what He tells me. That my tears will drop and form words, phrases, and paragraphs, coming from the deep places and calling out to the deep places.

Healing.

Not just me. But me too.

The words will be His heart and mine. Together. Right. For many. For me.

But I barely have energy to move today. The tears started long before I reached for the keyboard. I didn’t work yesterday. Tuesday’s writing was done in dropping tears. Taking a break and pacing the living room. Returning. Hands on keyboard. Until I had to stop.

I don’t want to be in a holding pattern of tears. I want to surrender to this latest call, to bravely go where I have not gone before. To get to the other side for whatever glory awaits. Peace. For me. For others.

Telling my story because we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

Blessing and suffering together. Two cups. He asked me to drink of both. He promised to be in both.

For good. For beauty. For hope.

Not for despair.

But today–and for a stretching of days–I walk through to get to the other side. I choose this journey for love of Him and for love of those He heals.

I choose it in the security of the knowledge that He never does harm. He only does healing.

I brave it because I am loved. Forever. Unconditionally. By Him.

Please pray me through my friends.

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Easter Devotion ~ He Arose!

9c4e7pkpiUp from the grave he arose;

with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;

He arose a victor from the dark domain,

and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.

He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

(“Up from the Grave He Arose” by Robert Lowry)

Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. ~ Romans 6:6–11 (MSG)

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed!!

Christ has won the victory!

Can you hear the fanfare of trumpets? Smell the newness of spring? Feel the warmth of loving light? Darkness—confusion, sin, weakness, unbelief—is conquered and with it eternal death. In its place is a new kingdom, established by God the Father through Jesus. It is a kingdom of victory where God’s people dwell with Him, live beneath the rule of His loving reign, and learn to love others (and themselves!) as they are loved by their King.

As Christ-followers we are translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We live, “always thankful to the Father who has made us fit to share all the wonderful things that belong to those who live in the Kingdom of light. For he has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who bought our freedom with his blood and forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 1:12–14, TLB).

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!

Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!

Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!

Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

 

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!

Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!

Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!

Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!*

No longer are we held down by sin and condemnation, for the Son didn’t come to condemn but to save (John 3:17), and for those who come to Him there is never again condemnation (Romans 8:1). No longer do we strive, struggling for righteousness, fighting from our own meager resources to survive in the domain of darkness. Through Christ sin is conquered, and we are reconciled to our Creator-Father. Through Christ we are given the identity and relationship of beloved. Because of the cross God’s own Holy Spirit moves into our lives and changes us from the inside out, remaking us to shine with the glory of Christ’s character, love, and power. We are free to flourish in love and grace, free to become all He had in mind before even the foundation of the world.

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!

Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!

Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, Alleluia!

Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!**

Alleluia! All praise and honor and glory and power be to You, precious Jesus, Savior of the world! Thank You for walking the road of suffering so I can be released from the domain of darkness and live in the glory of Your light!PMApprov2-01

*Verses 3 & 4 of “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” by Charles Wesley

**Verse 6

(Devotion taken from Soul Scents: RootedSoul Scents: Rooted is specially priced this week
only. The Kindle version is 99 cents through Tuesday, then increases by $1 every day until it reaches its regular price of $4.99. If you prefer the paperback version, email me for special instructions on how to get a discount.)