I am glad you chose to visit! My blog is a compilation of the many hats I find myself wearing. On any given day I may be an encourager, an instructor, or just a lady who is venting. You, dear reader, will probably identify with my triumphs and my tribulations! These snapshots fit into my Life Scrapbook I have named A. McInnis Artworks. I hope you will find something worth your while.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

An Exceedingly Gracious Gift

This summer, in our women's Sunday School class, we have been studying Biblical Womanhood. My eyes have been opened to many things during this time, but the one thing that stands out like a shining star is the FACT that God has given us a great gift in REPENTANCE.

My idea of repentance has always been a typical Webster's definition: "to turn from sin and resolve to reform one's life. to feel sorry for (something done) : REGRET."

And while this definition is correct, it's not nearly that simple. Repenting can become a ritual, like saying "I'm sorry" just to avoid further conflict. Repentance can be mere words with no heartfelt reversal of actions or it can be temporary, a fleeting moment of conscience.

It's no fun to repent. It means you have to bare your soul. If it's to another human, it's humiliating. But if it's to God, it can be downright heart rending. In prayer, repenting used to be so painful that I dreaded "that part". It was especially hurtful when you kept confessing habitual sin. (Which, of course, means that you said "I am sorry", but didn't take the next step....actually reform.)

Saying all that brings me to the point here...repentance is a continual process in a Christian's life. God has done His part. He has "imputed my sin to my substitute (Jesus), and hast imputed His righteousness to my soul..", but in my day to day earthly Christian walk, I am still stained with sin. I am so sinful that sometimes (most times) I don't even repent for the right reason.

 BUT, God is faithful and every day He rewards me with His incomparable grace and allows me to approach His throne and REPENT. As I do so, I receive His forgiveness and His strength, through the Holy Spirit to persevere. What a gift to a Christian...to be able to recognize sin, call it what it is and ask for forgiveness. And the "cherry on the top" is that we are given renewed strength day after day.

" Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace."

(The Valley of Vision, p. 136-137)

Grace and peace to you,

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Don't Let the Sun Set On Your Anger...

It is true that you don't know how much you appreciate something until it's gone. That's the case with rain! We have been without rain for weeks now. Summer in the south has been humid and dry at the same time. And did I mention, HOT?

For two days in a row, we suddenly received super showers. They weren't prolonged periods of rain, but what a blessing of refreshing they were.

 Have you ever had periods in your life like this? The problems seem like they will never end? You are "parched" and need just a cup of water. (Sometimes, I'd even settle for a drop.) That's where I found myself not too long ago. I wanted to share this "thorn in the flesh" in the hope that maybe it would be encouraging to you in some small way.

God's Word is ALWAYS correct. We can dodge it, try to hide from it, deny it, but in the end, if you know anything about God's Word, you know it's right. Case in point here. Several years ago, I got my feelings hurt...not only at the work place but also at church. People I thought were my friends, weren't. People I trusted, disappointed me. People I loved deserted me when I needed them most.

Now, if you are a friend, don't try to decide if you were one of them. That's not the point here. Just stay with me and let me get this out there. I have been a Christian for over 60 years, I know the Bible is clear about how to handle situations like this. You are to go to that person who has offended and speak eyeball to eyeball. You are to try and clear the problem up before it becomes a festering sore. You are NOT to let the sun go down while still being angry. You are to go in love and try to restore peace....even if it is NOT your fault. You are not to pout or try to get people on your side. That is called dissension and it is a destroyer.

And that is exactly what I did....I pouted, I misspoke, I got so angry that I dreaded going to work and worse, I didn't want to go to church. Did my actions make things better for me..or for anyone? Of course not. I felt as though I was walking in a desert. I needed just a drop of water. I needed a Friend.
(Read Ephesians 4.)

Then it happened. I went back to church. And one day, I went back to Sunday School. And the next thing I knew I felt refreshed. I felt pardoned. I felt forgiven. My prayer life, while not perfect, has been a Godsend. I have had a paradigm shift.  The way I face the day is completely different. I have no desire to relive the events that shattered my confidence and my friendships, except to help someone out there who might be struggling in this area. Do I care what you think of me as I write this? Certainly, but not in the way you might imagine. I was given the thirst quenching drink of forgiveness...maybe not from man but more importantly from our Heavenly Father. I want you to feel that forgiveness also.

People are people. They are sinners. Some have accepted that Jesus died for their sins and are saved from those sins. Some have not yet accepted Him. Some will not. But that's not my call. All I can do is to use the Bible as my "playbook". Read and study it and find the answers to problems that seem to be swirling all around. Whether there is or isn't a definite answer spelled out...give it to God. He knows best. He is my Savior and Friend...even when nobody else provides rain (provision)...He Will. He answers prayer...I believe it, I have seen it, I am a witness to you...He answers prayer.

A forgiven friend,

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"Wrestling In Prayer"

PRAYER by O Hallesby was written in 1931, pre-computer, pre-lots of things...
but the truth packed into this little book is timeless.
As I set out to re-read the 176 pages of the book, I have found myself feeling an indebtedness to this man..
O Hallesby.
He has made it simple for my simple mind. With his words, he has guided me
to Scripture and with that, to an understanding as to what has made my prayer
life so exhausting and unfulfilling all this time.
"Well, what was the problem?" you ask. Give me just a minute to explain. The problem was NOT God. It was NOT that I didn't receive answers to my requests. It WAS, however, my whole approach to prayer. I felt that in order to present my petitions to the Lord that I had to " have my ducks in a row". I had to use a formula, if you will...I needed to repent...I needed to make sure I presented my request clearly...I needed to...well...tell God exactly HOW I wanted Him to handle the situation...and oh, yes...to answer QUICKLY because I was in a hurry...somebody (sometimes me) needed this situation fixed and fixed fast.

I won't bore you with the sob stories I presented. The buckets of tears I shed or the disappointments I suffered by my own refusal to understand what prayer really is. I am embarrassed to say that for a while I even gave up on the whole thing, because I felt it was too painful, too much of a ritualistic endeavor and some situations seemed just hopeless.

Oh, my friends...hopelessness is so NOT true. The problem was and always has been ME...my feeble faith and my refusal to shut my mouth and LISTEN to what the Holy Spirit was saying. But there is so much more. Listen to the Preface to Hallesby's book:

"I have had more of a desire to write this book than possibly any other that I have written. And yet I have been more afraid of this one than of any other. It seems to me that it is very difficult to speak or write about prayer.

This book does not presume to be anything more than a presentation of a few simple rules for the benefit of souls who are fainting in prayer. It does not aim to give an exhaustive treatment of the great theme.

My one desire and prayer has been to preach the Gospel of prayer without setting aside any of the laws governing the prayer life."

How can you not be intrigued? How can you not wonder about the Wonder of Prayer? How can you not desire the fulfillment of laying the requests of your heart at the feet of the ONLY ONE WHO can actually answer your needs and rise and face the day knowing that He will permit not just good but great and wonderful things to be accomplished. Those things will be far and above anything we ever imagined.

Here are a few quotes that I particularly loved:

"..the answer to prayer is not dependent upon our emotions or out thoughts before, during or after prayer."

"...the essence of living faith: it went to Jesus. "

"To pray is to open our hearts to Jesus."

"The least gifted, the uneducated and the poor can cultivate the holy art of prayer."

One more and it is 4 paragraphs...but they are packed with riches...hear him out

"We think that we understand better than He does when and how our prayers should be answered. Without intending to do so, our prayers become a struggle with God. We make use of prayer to convince God that we see the matter in the right light, that the answer should be given immediately, and should be as we have planned it. Unconsciously we make use of prayer to try to convince God that in this respect we are in the right.
It is this struggle with God which makes us so restless and anxious when we pray. We are afraid that God will not permit Himself to be convinced by our prayers, but will do as He wills regardless of our supplications. I know of nothing that makes our prayer so burdensome and trying as this does.

When, therefore, the Spirit has taught us that God is unyielding on this point and that He Himself decides when and how our prayers are to be answered, then we will experience rest and peace when we pray. And if the Spirit can teach us also that there is no danger in leaving with Him the time and the means of answering our prayer, our seasons of prayer will become in truth seasons of rest.

We will begin to see that it is God's will not only to hear our prayer, but to give us the best and the richest answer which He, the almightly and omniscient God, can devise. He will send us the answer when it will benefit us and His cause the most. And He will send it to us in that way which will give us the best and most abiding results."

I don't mean to place an undue burden on Mr. Hallesby...the book is clear, concise and Biblical. He connects his statements to appropriate Scripture, in context. The Scripture has been the most invaluable part of the book.

I close with this thought...in today's world, we know news immediately...sometimes as it is taking place. Our hearts are burdened now more than ever. Sin and sinfulness abounds...as it always has. There is a quiet place of refreshment at the Savior's feet. We, as sinful men and women, can present our praise, our needs, our hopes and dreams to an understanding God. We CAN rest knowing that He will give us not good but GREAT things. With the aid of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus, we can make our requests known to our Father and then face life with a quiet assurance that in His hands, all will be well.

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen."  Romans 11: 33-36

   Blessings to you,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Elephants and Skeletons

I know you like funny stories and design tips. I can't deliver that today. I have been awake since 4 a.m. The more the sun rose, the worse I felt. I had high hopes for today, but I am sick...not just physically.

I have a feeling if we tiptoed into your home and quietly opened your front door we might see an elephant or two sitting in your living room. Mine? Oh, I have several on any given day taking up lots of space...especially in my heart.

What's that rattling noise in my closet?  Do you hear it? Do you have that noise, too? It's those pesky skeletons again. Somebody must be trying to see what all is in there again or maybe they are making room for another one. People love those...in SOMEBODY ELSE'S closet. Have you noticed? They love to feast on other's famine. We are all guilty of joining that feast at one time or another.

This summer the ladies in our church are embarking on a study of biblical womanhood.
I am trying to attend with a totally open heart...like I have never heard of this concept. That's hard to do...but I need this study. I need guidance in how to handle all these "elephant" situations. My heart is full and empty simultaneously.

Does that make any sense? How can you be overwhelmed with grief and joy at the same time?
I know I sound like a loon...but that's where I am.

If you are down in this dark hole with me, please, know you are not alone. If you hear somebody blowing her nose..it's me. I am right there..but better yet..we have a Friend there too and He's there with us for the long haul. With His help we can hold our heads up and climb out. My prayer is that you and I may come to truly realize that. Hold on..not to me..but to the One's hand that can steady and strengthen us.

God bless you,