A Need to Create

Sometimes in life I find that I have just operated on making things work and doing what I need to do. But this week I was reminded of how desperately I need to create in order for my soul to not feel drudgery in the day to day. I want to pull out paints, pick up a pencil, stay up late just to create something.

We are all created to do something. We have different gifts, passions, abilities that if we do not exercise it seems like something is missing. What brings you joy and makes you feel like you have new energy and new life to give? …Taking care of a garden, making numbers work perfectly; setting a detailed plan in motion; making a meal; building;writing a song; singing a song; painting; lending an ear to a friend; cleaning a closet and making labeled, clearly organized bins – what brings you the most joy?

Whatever your gifts, your passions and your abilities are… use them. The people around you need you to do what you were created to do.

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In the rearview mirror…

Life has its moments where you want to hold on to anything not moving and hope that everything else around you will stop spinning. Within the span of nine days our house sold, my husband interviewed, accepted a job, and we loaded a moving truck. In that order.

A few days after the moving truck was loaded and as many in loose ends as possible were wrapped up, the boys and I took off on our 950 mile adventure to catch up with Daddy. (Yes, we did not take a little move. God asked us to walk away and start a whole new adventure.) Thankful for everything that God had unfolded over the past few days, I was still sad. I think God knew I needed comfort as I drove away from our house and life in Iowa, He graciously allowed it to rain and be cloudy the entire first day driving. Through the rain my sister and I finished loading the car and cleaning the now empty house. When everything was ready my two-year-old and I walked through the house. He started crying at his missing tree-house, the empty space for the refrigerator and ended be moaning the missing washer and dryer. After a few runs across the basement a teary boy & mom left the house to head for Dunkin’ Donuts (some rainy, sad days just need a special treat!).

Today we closed on the house, received our finally paperwork and officially no longer own it and no longer have a home in Iowa. It makes me sad yet again. I wish it did not make me so sad, because I am thankful for all God has done. In the midst of processing change and what feels like loss, I have seen God’s unmistakable guidance. Moments in this journey that display His fingerprints and help me to rejoice in Him and put one foot in front of the other.

The joy of my husband and the blessing of his work and work environment. God opened not just A teaching job, but a position in one of the best elementary schools (based on test scores and parent reviews) in all of Georgia. He does not just work under a principal, but with a male principal who, with a family of young kids, also left the business world and began teaching elementary as a second career. And on top of it all, he works with a team of teachers that are overwhelmingly grateful to have him, that want to work together, and that have made him feel very, very welcomed.

But the moment that I keep coming back to in my mind and prayers is the image in my rearview mirror as I drove away from our house for the last time. For in the moment I saw God’s voice clearly directing to keep moving forward – not looking to the right or the left, just trusting Him in the direction He had given. I wanted to look back and see the house for one last time, I could not see the house. The car was loaded to the hilt and I had my two precious boys in the backseat. Their faces filled my view. I could not look back.

Each night as we put our Uriah to bed we remind him that we love him, but Jesus loves him even more than we ever could. We also remind him that we want him to follow Jesus because He has the past plan for Him. We do not want Him to miss any of the good gifts God has in store. So even when it is very hard (which it will be because life is hard), we remind Uriah that it is still best to follow Jesus.

So,even through the tears, I cannot look back. I want to follow Jesus. The blessing He has in store for my life and family are found in walking and trusting Him. So, today as everything with our house in Iowa is officially settled I will rejoice in all that He has done. The incredible answered prayers to months of waiting. His perfect timing in our finances and lives. And the blessing that it is that God moved us near my family, in fact we are blessed to spend a little bit of time settling in to our new life by living with family.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Even when life is hard, follow God, His ways are the very best, even when it is very hard.

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Wait for it… WAIT FOR IT…….. W A I T…….

Whether it is a holding pattern in flight, a phone call on-hold with customer service, a checkout with a long line, or a hot car in a traffic jam… waiting is not on most people’s top ten list of things to do.

But sometimes waiting is the best place to be. That is the place where this week finds our household – waiting to hear on a job for Tim, waiting to hear on the sale of our house, waiting to see what doors will open and what doors will close, waiting to know where the next 60 days will take us. In short, life is just in a waiting zone.

And in the midst of the waiting, we were reminded of abiding and remaining in Jesus as we (Tim and I) read John 15:1-11. In Him, there is great joy, peace and extravagant love in all circumstances. I know that some of that sounds, well, “churchy” or surreal in contrast with how we view difficult circumstances, but I do not know how else to describe the intangible, incredible, gifts that only God can give. And His gifts are only experienced when we are remaining close and finding our life source in Him.

As human people, we get anxious. I have had some conversations with people recently where after answering that we are just at a waiting point, the other person almost seems to grow anxious on our behalf… pressing for our plan. The action steps to be taken next – in short they say, “What are you doing? I’m anxious for you, and you are just telling me you’re ‘waiting’! Come on you cannot just sit still and wait!”

But waiting is trust in action. Waiting requires patience, and some days, trust and life has to be surrendered to God every five minutes. If He rules the universe I can certainly trust Him five minutes at a time!! Waiting is an action. You take the steps you can take to prepare for whatever God has, but only God can provide the outcome.

In all circumstances, God gives peace and joy. When I am resting in God – remaining close to Him I am at peace. I can agree with Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits for Him, and in His Word I put my hope.” I know His Word is true and that God is faithful – ALWAYS. He will prevail with good plans. “I am confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

However, if in the next five minutes I take my eyes off the truth and reality of God, I am sinking in the “Oh my goodness, what are we going to do?” So, life is not rosy and perfect in the midst of waiting, but it a place to learn and grow.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, waiting should be a part of my daily life – anxiously anticipating and preparing for the return of Christ. So, if this short-term, temporary period of waiting teaches me more about hoping, resting, and preparing that is a good outcome. I want to be able to continually say my “whole being waits for Him”.

When life is more comfortable, this period of life is a chapter in our story and I feel in a more stable place, may my heart still long for Jesus to come back – even more than how I long for short-term, temporary life answers today. May I prepare fervently for Jesus, because one day He will make life stable, fulfill my every hope and the waiting will come to an end – Jesus will return.

Isaiah 64:3-4

For when You did awesome things that we did not expect,
    You came down, and the mountains trembled before You.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides You,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

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Anxiety or Joy

Ps 94:18-19  “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” (NIV)

What supports and upholds you in your day? Sunday morning I had a choice to make from the very start. I woke up with a very poor attitude to start the day. I sat on the edge of my bed wanting nothing more than to complain about everything… including a restless night with my toddler. The day was going to start miserable if I did not do something instantly. So, I decided to pick up the devotional that was sitting by my bed, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It was about choosing thankfulness when we want to complain, ugh… Thanking God for everything and every circumstance so that our heart is transformed to be like Jesus instead of stepping through a land of complaining which leads to rebellion and regret.

Oh dear, you cannot read that and then choose to complain. So, I thanked God that my energy could only come from Him today. Thanked God that we are waiting. Thanked God for the projects and work He has provided to LeA’Tev. Thanked God for all of the amazing provision, blessings, and gifts He gives daily. And I thanked God that we are at a point in life where walking by faith seems more tangible then at other moments in life.

Then God provided tangible blessings and evidence of His supportive love from friends and family among three different states. What a joy when you realize God has prompted people to pray for you through their own circumstances, through brief meetings with them and through their dreams.

A good friend sent verses that challenged and encouraged my faith in God, including Psalm 94:18-19. Even when we think we are teetering and liable to fall, God is willing to uphold us with His love and replace our anxiety with joy. I am so thankful for the challenges of the day for without the challenges we sometimes miss seeing the blessings of God. Before we complain we have a choice of anxiety or love and joy.

Today, who can you show God’s love to? Who can you encourage and support? What a blessing it is to be a part of showing God’s supportive love and a joy to receive.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)

Household life and balance…?

Balance? I’m not sure that gets achieved daily in my world, but maybe over the long run.

Each day is a new adventure as school is out and both Tim and I are in the house together all day. Finding new rhythm to each getting our own work done – job hunting and design respectfully, helping each other in our respective work, and then working on house projects together. As we work to accomplish the to-do list and be productive in the waiting process (seeing what job will open for Tim in the fall), we are enjoying time together and time with our little guy.

The daily routine of the house seems to fluctuate and I almost find myself checking to see what day it is. The fall and spring activities have all reached their summer break and summer weddings are in full swing with programs, place cards, gift boxes, guestbooks, and favors to be designed. Small businesses are in need of logos and business cards. And the basement that was nearly finished… well, we organized all of the finished the living areas which means – I am still working on the basement!

Life is always full of change.

It is in the moments of change or waiting for direction that I remember the value of the day and God’s direction in the past. From living in Rockford, IL to Chicago to moving to Des Moines, IA there is no possible means that I could have planned my life. But taking steps to follow God one day at a time has led to a life so rich and full that I am glad my plans and thoughts rarely seem to “workout” in the way that I thought they would.

Balance is found when I let go and walk slowly… maybe today I’ll just take a few minutes at a time. God can handle the day, the week, and the next month quite well.

Decisions

In last couple weeks, we have had decisions placed in our household to make. I like the easy decisions like…

  • My child is crawling out the crib…  Decision: move them to a bed.
  • Should I get that new pair of pants…  Decision: The budget is empty, done deal.
  • My friend is sick and needs help getting to the doctor… Decision: Of course I should help!
  • Should I buy a bag of  Cadbury Mini Eggs… Decision: Well this one takes more thought; the smart health answer is no, but… : )
  • In light of some decisions, I do not even mind the endless decision of what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and the three snacks a day my toddler eats (although if a maid wants to show up at my house and start cooking to make all of those decisions for me that would be great!)

But then there are decisions that force us to weigh out short-term and long-term gains. Decisions that force us to choose trust. Trust that God is in control even in a situation that may seem to others like a train wreck waiting to happen. Decisions that take days to discuss and consider. Decisions without clear answers or direction, real right or wrong, good or bad ramifications. Decisions that can only be clarified through priorities and what attitude you will choose in the future based on your current decision.

Psalm 90:12 is a verse that God impressed on me this last year and it becomes helpful in making decisions that seem otherwise difficult. The verse states “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (NIV’86). The things that matter most are relationships with God and people and our most precious commodity is time. Time is also the commodity over which we have no control. Our days are numbered, none of us know how many we have left. We need to live and plan for the future with wisdom and leave the day without regret because it may be our last.

Some decisions result in choosing that even if we are down to the last $10 we are going to trust that God has brought us this far and He NEVER, EVER walks away. Although at times life may feel like God has walked away when that last $10 is gone (check out the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel in a den of lions, the book of Job), God does carrie us through to completion in Him – not our stuff or our American way of thinking. In God’s economy following through the trial is better than walking away in the process.

What does this blog have to do with design anyway! The design of our days is sometimes found in the decisions small and big. So the design of our life should be based on our priorities and values. Life is short. Make decision based on the design of the life you want to create not just on the momentary feelings. (And, yes, that is how I am calling this blog relevant to design!)

And, if you want direction on making decisions check out “Ask It” http://northpoint.org/messages/ask-it/ – a teaching series by Andy Stanley of Northpoint Church in Atlanta, GA.

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Oh my Goodness….

It’s here! Christmas is here the end of the work day, my last work day before Christmas! (My sympathies to those who have to work over Christmas.) I have one work errand to run and then it is off to make a birthday cake for Jesus… something my little guy gives a great big excited face about every time I mention it!

What are you most excited about? This week may bring anxiety or sadness about stressed relationships and people who you are longing to see again, but cannot. It may be stressful with the things you want to finish before Christmas arrives. BUT I hope that all of those things pale in view and feeling when you remember the love that God has given us. Jesus came to walk with us on this crazy, difficult journey of life. He didn’t just tell us how to survive, but He showed us how to blossom in this world.

We will always have trouble, but Jesus has overcome. He gives abundant life, starting now, with a plan and a future that is better than anything we can imagine. Marvel at Jesus this week, relish His love, and have a very Merry Christmas!!!

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Thanksgiving… It is here!!!

I am so excited that Thanksgiving is on Thursday! I can hardly wait to see everyone and celebrate. I found coloring place-mats at Target and thankfully bought the exact number of people coming so far… unless there is someone else who joins in! Want a place to go where the cooking will be done for you! : ) Come on over!  (Don’t worry I’ll come up with additional place-mats for you to color!) Parade, people, food, games, and counting our blessings – I don’t think there can be a better agenda for a day!

Here are some of the things for which I am thankful this year:

  • My family who loves us, encourages, and prays for us
  • My husband who so lovingly deals with me and gently leads me to know Jesus more and who has endured and completed nearly 70 college credits in one calendar year – I am so proud of him
  • My son who is helping me understand how I need to obey God without excuse in the same way that we are trying to teach him to obey us without excuse : )
  • Endurance from God for the long days and hard times that are just a part of life
  • Encouragement from God and others that makes the long days worthwhile
  • The incredible support of some amazing friends who have walked through the crazy with us
  • Those who have encouraged LeA’Tev and allowed us to serve you this year
    • In particular, this past week I have been blessed by the response to the “Jesus is… Christmas” countdown. Your response and support of LeATev is among our many blessings and we have begun to pray daily for those that have received the cards. We are praying that they would truly help each person to focus on Jesus this Christmas and love Him more.

Thank you to those who read and follow this blog. Life is truly a beautiful design crafted by the Master Designer “who works all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.” (paraphrase of Romans 8:28)

Thank you for being a part of this sojourner’s journey; I am very thankful.

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But God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him [God], and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

These popular verses ring so true, but are so difficult to walk in. I’m not sure where your Monday morning finds you, but I know that for several in my circle of friends it finds them with many more questions than answers. Difficult marriages that require clinging to God and trusting Him for strength each day to love their spouse anew, a deep longing for children with seemingly no options left, a financial hole that seems it will only end in ruin, a diagnosis that has no hope with it, a layoff with no idea where the next job is going to come from,or a daily threat of layoff as one heads to work each morning and new co-workers are given the pink slip. And then there are those in the world who are trafficked, homeless, broken, blind, marginalized, and left empty – where does trusting God fit in there? Where is He in the “daily grind”?

Kind of a downer isn’t? We see our problems, BUT GOD… oh these words break through to the human spirit and in all circumstances we can find hope. Even if the hope is that this life is merely a few years. A breath. Seventy or eighty years if we are lucky. BUT eternity in paradise is coming – not just a resort – but a true everyday life of paradise that will last without end. After celebrating our 10,000th anniversary, we’ll just start over – working, loving, praising, rejoicing. No tears, no fears, no worries… true life. This life and its trials preps us for a marvelous life ahead.

And there is a “BUT GOD” right now. God gives joy. He gives peace. He gives strength.  God’s presence changes everything and He is Emmanuel – God with us. God sometimes brings new journeys, paths, and relationships we would have never found if not for the struggle. God gives miraculous healing. God gives a new job. God always gives more than we could ask or imagine.

Even in hardship, maybe particularly in hardship… God is present. To be honest, I understand fear and uncertainty right now in my life. I am reminded to hold everything loosely and rest in God by choice of will and not emotion. I have to bring Him the emotions of feeling out-of-control (which He reminds me I am), overwhelmed, fearful, uncertain, and wondering why He has brought me to this place. BUT GOD’s character, His heart His love overwhelms emotion. He brings peace and reminds me that no matter how difficult life may get, He is still the only one who can bring life and destroy it. He is the only refuge in an uncertain world that has had a whole history of continuously uncertain times and struggles. In God we trust not our savings account or 401k, not our ingenuity or strength – we trust in Almighty, Holy God.

Your life has been beautifully designed. If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Master, God of the universe, You can find a refuge. If You are not certain if there is a God, let alone one that would step into your fear and mess – seek Him. He will be found, and He longs to be close to the brokenhearted. See the beautiful design of your days and moments cannot be seen in the momentary plights of today, you have to keep waiting for the masterpiece to be completed.

“God teach me to follow Your directions, to know Your ways. Teach me to walk in Your marvelous light of Truth. Give me a heart that fears only You; for only You can destroy and only You can bring life. There is no one and nothing greater than You. I will worship you from the depths of my being. With my whole heart I will give You praise. You will be glorified forever and ever; I want to bring You glory every moment of everyday. Your love towards me is extravagant; I am overwhelmed by Your faithfulness. You rescued me from the depths of hell. I was dead and You gave me life!”
Psalm 86:11-13 Paraphrased by Heather Haxton

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New at LeATev!

Cards, books, ABC cards, invitations, small business graphic design, and Christmas cards! So I know that for a lot of you talking about Christmas and Thanksgiving is well not very welcome in September. I’m sorry! 

I actually LOVE Thanksgiving and Christmas!!! For my 17th birthday I came home to find the whole house decorated for Christmas complete with lights outside. : ) Now lest you think that my birthday is anywhere near Christmas – it is not. It is in July. 

So, all of that to say we are working on 20 varied Christmas card designs that will be previewed on social media – one at a time (as to not overwhelm) and available for viewing at LeATev.com as a collection under designs. Each design is fully customizable from color to design tweaks and of course they can include your family photos from throughout the year. Pricing will begin at $0.75 per card and cap at $2.00 per card. 

If you want more information or you have an idea for a Christmas or Thanksgiving card that you would like designed from scratch just for you. Let us know. We love to serve. And the reason for Christmas is to share hope with those that you love. Jesus gives more than enough to be thankful for and hopeful for in the new year.

And I’ll try to be low key about Thanksgiving and Christmas until at least November… but don’t enter my workspace, because the Christmas movies are coming out! : )

Heather – Designer at LeATev

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