With All My … Mind

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In today’s world of technology and accessibility, there is no shortage of ways people are forever trying to claim our time and attention. Whether it is through the ringing of our smartphones, the ping of an app notification, the reminder announced by the artificial intelligence devices we install in our homes, commercials between our favorite television shows, or the pounding of another delivery person at our door, the demand for our attention seems constant.

When I first bought a cell phone it stayed in the living room overnight to charge. Then my husband started traveling more and it made sense to keep the phone next to my bed in case of emergency. It wasn’t long before my nightstand became the usual place my phone charged at night.

Did you know your cell phone screen lights up every time it gets a notification? Mine does, anyway. In a dark room this can seem like a very bright light.

It wasn’t too long before curiosity would have me picking up my phone in the middle of the night to see what had caused the flash. The next thing I knew, I’d be checking my email for that reply I’ve been waiting for, responding to a Facebook post I had missed earlier, and … what in the world? How have I been awake for thirty minutes?

I learned to turn my phone face down on the nightstand.

But it was still on my nightstand.

So when the alarm went off every morning, rather than yank myself from the warm covers into the cold morning air, it became my routine to snag my phone and start my day by scrolling through my various social media feeds and email inboxes. This got me started thinking of my to-do list and everything I needed to accomplish that day.  I’d get out of bed, brush my teeth, dress, and eat breakfast – all with my phone in my hand.

In the back of my mind was this idea that I needed to read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. But that was something I had plenty of time to do. There was no deadline for speaking to God. No one would know or care if I didn’t squeeze in those verses I meant to read today. I could catch up tomorrow. God didn’t have a closing time. He was always there and always would be. But I had things that needed to be accomplished NOW or there would be consequences.

God could wait.

Until one day, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d spent more than five minutes studying God’s Word. For too long, I’d let Him get squeezed into the spare moments left after everything else — everything more urgent — had been taken care of. God was getting those moments when I was so worn down and worn out I couldn’t think well enough to “be productive.” I was giving God the crumbs of my leftovers.

And I was starving.

I was worn out, stretched thin, weak, and breaking. I was overwhelmed and wanting to give up on everything. I couldn’t do it. What was the point?

Well, the point was that I was never meant to do any of this alone. The point was that I had my perception and my priorities completely backward.

If God is my source of strength and I haven’t spent time with Him, where is my energy coming from?

If God is my source of truth and I haven’t spent time with Him, from where am I getting my wisdom?

If God is my source of purpose and I haven’t spent time with Him, on what am I basing my plans?

If God is my source of hope and I haven’t spent time with Him, how do I expect to find peace in life’s trials?

It was like a light bulb suddenly shining bright on all the corners of my mind — one that had once shown brightly but grown dim from dust and neglect.

God can’t wait.

God MUST come first in our lives. He is THE reason we are alive. Without Him it doesn’t matter what else we accomplish or fail to achieve. It will all mean nothing if He isn’t at the heart of it.

Bible on Laptop

So I’m trying something new. I’ve moved my phone across the room — close enough for emergencies, but far enough to discourage temptation —  and I’ve begun the habit of setting my bible ON TOP OF MY LAPTOP every night before I go to bed. That way I am forced to physically move it each and every morning. It has become a tangible reminder that I need to pay attention to God before I pay attention to anyone or anything else.

Let’s chat!

What distractions have kept you from spending time in God’s Word? What methods have you found to help keep you accountable to maintaining your relationship with the Lord?

TWEETABLE:

Pay attention to God before you pay attention to anyone or anything else.

God is more important than my to-do list.

If God is my source of strength and I haven’t spent time with Him, where is my energy coming from?

 

 

 

With All My … Bible Journaling

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Today I’m sharing a bit of bible journaling I recently completed in Deuteronomy 29. It features a tip-in which is something I haven’t tried before. I’m reasonably happy with how it turned out. I like that it gives me extra space to focus on more parts of the scripture than I would otherwise have.

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Page with the tip-in closed.

I made the tip-in by cutting a piece of cardstock to size and using washi tape to attach it. I like the washi tape because it is not only pretty, but also fairly forgiving if I need to make an adjustment to my original placement.

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Page with the tip-in open.

I also used a couple stickers I bought on sale at Michael’s and although I drew the eyes myself, I did find an image online to inspire me and help me get the proportions correct. The pink of the heart is my first time using my new watercolor pencils.

Let’s chat!

What do you think? Do you do Bible journaling? Have you tried a tip-in?

TWEETABLE:

Do you bible journal? Try using a tip-in! #scriptureart

With All My … Scripture Art

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Today I’m sharing a piece of mixed media art I attempted recently, featuring Matthew 19:6. It didn’t turn out exactly how I envisioned, but it did help me focus on the Truth, which ultimately is the point of my art.

Matthew 19v26 watercolor

Let’s chat!

What methods do you use to help you slow down and be still with our Creator? 

TWEETABLE:

How do you find time to slow down and be still with our Creator? (CLICK to TWEET)

With All My … Scripture Thoughts

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Today I’m sharing a video on a topic close to my heart. It was something that just struck me as I was filming some other videos which I will be sharing in future posts. I had already taken down my tripod and my camera had died so this was spontaneously filmed with my phone. I hope it speaks to you.

Let’s chat!

Can you relate to any of the thoughts I mentioned in the video? If this video spoke to you in any way, please let me know!

TWEETABLE:

What is your value? #scripture #vlog @KathleenDenly (Click to TWEET!)

With All My … Scripture Art – Eph. 2:10

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Welcome to my first “With All My …” post. In this new monthly series I will share bible studies, adventures in God’s creation, scripture art, and anything else that brings my focus back to God.

Today I’m sharing my very first attempt at scripture art. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out or if I’d want to do more, so rather than invest in a bunch of expensive supplies I may never use again, I just used what I had on hand:

Supplies Photo for first Scripture Art with Watercolor

  • 1 #2 Pencil (Woops, I forgot to put that in the photo.)
  • My favorite 5/8″ flat-head nylon paint brush left over from painting murals in my kids’ rooms (Originally bought 4 years ago as part of a set on Amazon, I guard this thing like its made of gold.)
  • 1 cheap, small (round?) soft brush I borrowed from my kids’ art supplies (I have no idea where it came from. Sorry.)
  • Sargent Art Watercolor Magic liquid watercolor left over from my kids’ art lessons
  • Sketch paper left over from my kids’ nature journals (this exact sketch pad appears to have been discontinued)
  • 1 black & 1 gray Ultra Fine Point Sharpie Permanent Marker from my personal stash of Sharpies (I hoard these almost as bad as books, but that is an issue for another post.)
  • A million and one YouTube art tutorials and watercolor tips videos.

Since this was my first attempt at this art style and I haven’t used watercolors in about 3 years, it wound up taking me several days to create the finished product.

On day one, I chose my verse:  Ephesians 2:10. I chose this verse because it has been lingering in my mind a lot lately, along with a corresponding question which I’ll get to later.

Once I had chosen my verse, I watched several videos on lettering and decided to stick to some basic variations for my first attempt. (Here is my favorite basic lettering video.)Then I grabbed a pencil and my sketchbook and visualized how I wanted the verse to look. The first thing I decided on was the pathway with the word “WALK” inside it. The rest came to me as I went. It took me roughly 4 hours to complete the lettering because, of course, I’m a mom and mom’s rarely get to do anything uninterrupted. (CLICK TO TWEET)

That was all I accomplished on day one.

On day two I watched several videos on watercolor sunsets, hills, and painting techniques.  (Here are links to a few: Vid 1, Vid 2, Vid 3)

Then I made two photocopies of my original lettering as backups for when I was sure to screw up the painting.

Eph 2_10 Lettering Sketch

After several more (scary) videos and hours of self encouragement I worked up the nerve to … grab a blank piece of sketch paper and test out my ideas on those. No way was I going to just slap paint on my original and hope for the best.

So days two and three were all about trying out different techniques, attempting to achieve the effect I wanted.

Testing Watercolor Techniques Photo

By day four, I felt confident enough to paint the sunset on my original.

Then I went back to testing on the extra paper to figure out how to achieve the green hill and brown path I wanted. I really liked the how the salt technique created a dirt path feel in the brown paint.

On day five, I painted my path and my green hills. In the process, I discovered I had dropped a green dot at the base of my path and left tide marks in the upper portion of the hill area needed bushes.

So it didn’t turn out exactly as I envisioned it, but I’m okay with it. Most importantly, as I worked, I prayerfully considered the question that had been pressing on my heart, causing me to choose this verse in the first place:

What does it look like to walk in the good works He has prepared for us?

I’m not sure I’ve come to a conclusion yet, but I feel peace that God will show me the answer in His own way and in His perfect timing. Meanwhile, I’d like to know what you think the answer is. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, here is the completed piece:

Eph 2_10 Bible Art

Yes, I know. The wrinkles happened because I was not using watercolor paper. Like I said, I was working with what I had on hand and we’d long ago used up our watercolor paper. Now that I have tried it once and decided I like it, I’ll be purchasing some more appropriate paper for future projects. Meanwhile, I am choosing to view the wrinkles philosophically:  While we are God’s workmanship, we are not perfect (thanks to the fall) and neither is my artwork.

TWEETABLES:

What does it look like to walk in the good works He has prepared for us? (CLICK TO TWEET)

While we are God’s workmanship, we are not perfect and neither is my artwork.  (CLICK TO TWEET)

Thanks for stopping by today! Have you created any scripture art? I’d love to see it! Share your link below!

Easter Eggstravaganza!

Easter Eggstravaganza

Since we celebrated the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this past weekend, I thought today’s post ought to take a slight detour from my usual topics in honor of this important holiday.

Not discounting the magnificent gift of Christ being born in human form, I believe the Easter holiday to be the most important. For all of our faith rests on that which we celebrated this weekend. If Jesus did not truly die and rise again to reign at the right hand of our Father in heaven, then our faith is for naught.

1 Cor 15_17

That said, do not worry. It is not my intention to suddenly attempt the impersonation of a pastor. 😉

Instead, I shall focus today on one of the funnest parts of our Easter celebration traditions:  the Easter Egg. Decorating and hunting these eggs, which are said to represent the empty tomb and resurrection, are one of the most anticipated parts of each years’ celebration.

However, this year my family thought we would try something different. So instead of the usual dying and hunting, we made Wobbly Ninja Eggs and experimented with Easter Egg Rockets. You can click the links for the original instructions which inspired our fun, but truthfully, this was a last minute decision and we didn’t have all the required materials so we tweaked things to fit what we had on hand.

In place of the recommended googly eyes and duct tape (which I know we have, but which seem to have found a super secret hiding space somewhere in our home), for the Wobbly Ninja Eggs we used permanent markers, sticky foam squares (left over from scrapbooking), and scotch tape. We also used some left over air dry clay on the inside in place of the recommended modeling clay.

Ninja Eggs Blog Image

Our results may not be as Pinterest worthy as the originals, but my kids had a blast making and playing with them just the same.

For the rocket eggs I grabbed a generic box of seltzer tabs and a cheap bag of plastic eggs from Walmart while I was there picking up some other necessities. Then we used some leftover painter’s tape to cover the holes in the top and bottom before decorating (again with permanent marker).  Also, since our eggs didn’t come with feet, we made little cardboard “launching stands” to hold our eggs vertical.

Rocket Eggs Close-up
The two I doodled on.
Egg Rocket Process
As you can see, we tried both water and vinegar in combination with the seltzer tabs to see which would produce the best results. Conclusion:  both worked equally well.

Although we did achieve success, I admit we had more fizzles than pops because the eggs were so flimsy. So if you are going to try this, I would recommend shelling out another buck or two to get the stiffer/stronger plastic eggs (the cheaper ones didn’t always have a satisfying snap when closed and those without a good *snap* didn’t pop). The stronger ones will just make your life easier.

That said, here are some clips of two of our successes:

More Easter Fun:

If you’d like to make some beautiful decorative eggs that any book-lover would adore, check out these Book Page Eggs.

If you’d like to learn more about the origin of Easter, check out this article.

How did you celebrate Easter this year? Do you have a favorite Easter tradition?

TWEETABLES:

If Christ is not raised, your faith is futile & you are still in your sins. 1Cor15:17 – Click to Tweet!

Fun Easter Egg-tivities for kids! – Click to Tweet! 

A Tale of Two Kitties – Part 2

Ana watches Athena from a distance while Kathleen Denly pets Athena. Photo by Kathleen Denly

If you haven’t read Part 1, you may want to read that first as this will make more sense if you have, but for those in a hurry I’ll put what you need to know into a boring nutshell:  We brought home one cat (Ana), then 2 years later brought home a second cat (Athena). (Trust me, the previous post is much more interesting.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, our boys were over the moon with excitement about the newest addition to our family. Ana… not so much.

Bringing Athena Home

When we first brought Athena home we took her immediately to a bathroom where I had set up a litter box, food bowl, water bowl, and small cat tree just for her. We shut the door and I sat in there with her while the boys took turns coming in to visit her. This would be her sanctuary room for the next 24 hours.

When it was time, I went and found Ana who was sleeping on the other side of the house and hadn’t yet noticed the new arrival. I picked her up and carried her over to the closed bathroom door where she could see Athena peeking through the crack at the bottom.

It took Ana a moment to notice her, but I knew exactly when she did. Her ears perked up and she immediately tensed.

I set her down next to the door and waited to see how she would react. By this time Athena was mewing up a storm at having been left alone in the bathroom and was reaching intermittently under the door with her paw trying to gain attention. When I set Ana down Athena stopped pawing and mewing.

For a tense few seconds, the two cats smelled each other under the door. When Athena mewed again Ana flinched but kept smelling under the door. Then the lonely, playful Athena made a strategic mistake:  She reached a paw toward Ana.  Ana immediately hissed and tried to run away. I scooped Ana up and tried to soothe her but she was having none of it and kept hissing so I let her go.

Athena seemed completely unphased by the event, although she was still unhappy with being alone in the bathroom.

Of course, I went in and pet her for a while, but I couldn’t spend the entire day sitting on a linoleum floor petting the world’s softest fur ball – no matter how cute her purring and nuzzling.

Ana Is Less Than Thrilled

Over the next several hours Ana made it abundantly clear that she was NOT happy about this new addition to our home. In fact, she was quite angry with me in particular and would hiss anytime I went near her.

Clearly she blamed me for Athena’s existence.

Ana kept well away from Athena’s bathroom. She wouldn’t even go into the hallway near it. Most of the time she literally stayed as far away as the limits of the house would allow her.

Eventually, Athena had settled in and it was time to let her explore the house. So we let her out but kept an eye on her to see how she interacted with her new environment and to watch for her first encounter with Ana.

About two hours after we let Athena out, she was playing in the living room when Ana wandered in… and froze. Then hissed and immediately ran away. Athena, again, seemed unphased and simply resumed playing. This was typical of their interactions for several hours. So we decided to help things along a bit and brought out two new cat toys. One I used to play with Athena. The other my husband tried to get Ana to play with after he brought her out from hiding.

Ana did not want to play. She wanted to run away.

This time, however, my husband held her firmly, but gently in his lap and stroked her and spoke to her in soothing tones while I continued playing with Athena about ten feet away. Occasionally, Athena would try to approach Ana to play, but I made sure to keep her from getting too close. Eventually, Ana relaxed a little in his lap and sat watching Athena play, still alert for danger. Thus began a new phase of their interaction.

At night we kept Athena safely tucked away in her sanctuary. During the day, my husband and I would take turns interacting with each cat once Ana decided to forgive me for Athena’s presence.

It was a remarkable success the first time we convinced Ana to play with the other new toy in the same room where Athena was playing with her new toy. Gradually we lured them into playing incrementally closer together until they were playing side by side. Still, Ana was tense and alert for signs that she needed to run away and would often stop playing to watch Athena suspiciously.

Ana watches from a few inches away as Athena plays with a toy. Photo by Kathleen Denly
Ana watches from a few inches away as Athena plays with a toy.

Ana Is Scared

One time, Athena pounced immediately in front of Ana before I could catch her, scaring Ana. Ana hissed, swatted at her, and growled. We noticed, though, that Ana did not use her claws but kept them retracted. Ana was not aggressive. She was defensive. She was making sure Athena knew she did not want her that close.

Eventually, Ana graduated to climbing to the top of her cat tree in the living room and staring down at Athena as she played. Athena wanted to climb up, too, but we kept her down. We brought in a second cat tree and Ana wanted that one to be hers, too, but we made her share that one with Athena by ensuring they took turns using it.

The Pivotal Moment

As time went on, Ana would allow Athena to come closer and closer to her. On the morning of the third day, I caught the two of them nose to nose smelling each other for a few seconds before Ana hissed and ran away again. It was a pivotal moment.

By the next day, you could see that Ana had accepted Athena’s presence and would no longer freak out any time Athena approached her. By day eight they were chasing each other playfully around the house.

On day ten, I walked in to find this:

What I Learned From My Cats

When Athena first came home Ana was completely terrified of her. Now they are best friends. I think this is a beautiful example of the way God sometimes works in our lives. Ana wanted nothing to do with Athena and would have gotten rid of her if she had the means to do so. Yet now they spend much of their days playing, sleeping, and hunting bugs together. I think this shows that although we may be terrified or unhappy about (to say the least) certain events in our lives, we may after time and with a little trust, discover that God has worked it out for our good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

~Romans 8:28

This message seems especially appropriate at this time of year as we pause to consider the gift of Christ’s birth. One of the most beautiful and touching songs of this season considers His birth, life, eventual death and resurrection from the perspective of Mary, His mother. I encourage you to take a moment and put yourself in her shoes, with all the struggles she faced as the mother of Christ.

Being the mother of three boys myself, it is both awe-inspiring and heartbreaking to consider what she went through from seeing her son perform miracles to watching his death on the cross. Yet, God had a plan more intricate, precious, and full of blessings than any of us could have imagined.

Ana & Athena lie beside each other on the bed, looking up at the camera. Text reads,
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get two cats to look at the camera at the same time?

What do you think?

Have you ever experienced something that at the time seemed truly terrible, but in the end, God used it for your good or the good of others?

Please share your story in the comments below. I’d love to read about it!