Creativity Conversations...

Last year I started a series called Creativity Thursdays, planning to post every Thursday on the topic of creativity.  Then life went a bit bananas, as it tends to do :), and that series fell by the wayside.  One of my (as yet unwritten) goals for 2014 is to resurrect that series...beginning today! 

Another of those 2014 goals is to consistently dedicate some of our group time during school to stretching our creative muscles.  Yesterday I introduced my (very preliminary at this point) plans on that to the kids during group time.  I love the ways that God works in timing things in our learning!  We have also begun a new adventure in our Bible time...a Bible study on Who God Is, working our way through the Bible with a specific goal of what God says about Himself in Scripture.  Each of us is reading the day's assigned passage and journaling in some way (note-taking, art journaling, etc.) what we learn from it about who God is.  Then we discuss the next day during group time.

We started yesterday with Genesis 1.  It was amazing the things we pulled from that chapter about God's character!  It was a good start to our study, and I am so looking forward to what God is going to do in our lives and our family as we continue it.

One of the things that excited me about yesterday was the fact that our Bible study dovetailed so beautifully with our creativity study.  The first chapter of Genesis, of course, is all about God as Creator.  Creativity begins with Him, and as beings created in His image, He created us to be creative as well!  We discussed that creativity is a character quality we are to work to build in our lives, just like diligence or sensitivity. 

We discussed what people typically think of as "creativity"...being able to draw, or paint, or write music, or decorate beautifully...and that while those things are all part of creativity, true creativity encompasses so much more.  We discussed this definition of creativity:

Ability to produce something new through imaginative skill, whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form. The term generally refers to a richness of ideas and originality of thinking.

We certainly use creativity in artistic endeavors, but we also use creativity in managing a home, solving problems at work, training our children, and using our finances wisely.  A bit earlier, we'd been talking about cancer, and the need for a cure for such a horrid disease, and as we talked about creativity, we realized that even such things as finding cures for horrible diseases involves creativity...people looking at a problem (cancer and other diseases) in a new way in order to find a solution.

One of the children had brought out during our Bible study that Genesis 1 shows us that God does everything for a reason, with purpose and order.  I realized that that is an aspect of Godly creativity as well.  "Creative types" (and those of us who wish to be :)) often use creativity as an excuse for disorder and chaos.  And yet the Bible says that God is not a God of disorder and confusion. (1 Cor. 14:33)

While I may like to think that my (currently out-of-control...ack!) cluttered desk is a sign of a creative mind, it's actually a sign of other, much less positive things.  I've read more and more articles and books in recent years talking about clutter being an enemy of creativity.  Ouch!!

I'm well aware from personal experience that this is true.  The more cluttered and chaotic my workspace (and my life!) gets, the harder it is for me to be creative in any way.  I'm afraid that is one (among many) reasons for my difficulty in blogging of late...the disorder has gotten out of hand, making it even harder to focus.  (And yes, cleaning off my desk is at the top of my "to do" list at the moment...I'll try to report back when I have tamed the beast!)

I'm looking forward to our Creativity Conversations (and activities to go along with them!) during this season of our schooling, and I'm looking forward to sharing more about creativity here on the blog as well.  I'd love for that to be interactive sharing...for you to be involved in those conversations by sharing your thoughts, ideas, resources, and creative pursuits in the comments!  I'm also toying with the idea of a linky where you could link up your creativity-related posts.  Would you be interested in participating?  Please let me know in the comments!

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Previous Posts in This Series:
Teaching Creativity When You Don't Feel Creative (And Why Do I Need to Teach Creativity Anyway?)
Teaching Creativity: Where Do We Start?
20 Resources for Teaching Creativity
Teaching Creativity: Creative Challenges for Kids


Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.  (And if you really want to make my day, leave me a comment below, or drop me a note via the email box in the sidebar. :))


"...Who Daily Bears Our Burdens"

Do you have those times when a verse of Scripture just completely knocks you off your feet?

This morning was one of those times.

My friend Charlene  posted this verse on Facebook this morning.  Just a simple verse...14 words...but wow, what powerful words they are!

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens. ~ Psalm 68:19 NIV

As I read them, I began to meditate on their meaning, and I was overcome with awe and gratefulness.  

He is LORD.  Lord of the universe.  Lord over all things.  Bro. Gary says so often..."People want Him to be Savior, but they don't want Him to be Lord.  And you can't have one without the other!"

He is LORD.  I've recently begun meditating on Philippians 2 and plan to memorize it in the first quarter of this year.  Philippians 2:9-11 elaborate on the fact that He is Lord:

Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

He is also our Savior.  We're just coming out of the Christmas season...our family just packed up the Christmas tree today, in fact.  We've celebrated His coming to earth as a baby in order to become fully man (while remaining fully God, in a way we can't begin to understand) so that He could save us from our sin and destruction.  

He is Lord of the universe. He has already provided salvation for us through His death and resurrection, and now He is seated in glory at the right hand of the Father...

...and yet, He "daily bears our burdens."  


Daily. Bears. Our. Burdens. 

Let those words soak in.  

The God of the universe, Lord of all things, Savior of the world "daily bears our burdens."  

All of them.  

Those days when the burdens seem absolutely, totally, completely overwhelming...crushing, even...He carries them.  The days when we get a terrifying medical diagnosis, receive notice that we've lost a job, discover a child is being horribly abused, or lose a loved one we can't imagine living without...on those days, He bears our burdens.

And those days when the burdens might seem minor in the scheme of things, and yet they weigh us down so heavily...He carries them.  The never-ending to do list, a strained friendship, financial struggles, whining children...the stressors that burden us in the daily ordinary...He bears those burdens. 

He not only carries those burdens...He carries US through them.  The Amplified translation puts it this way: 
 Blessed be the Lord, Who bears our burdens and carries us day by day, even the God Who is our salvation! Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!  ~ Psalm 68:19 AMP

He carries us day by day.  He carries us close to His heart!  I love the ending there..."pause, and calmly think of that".  I don't know about you, but when I'm feeling burdened and overwhelmed, that is not my typical reaction.  And yet I want it to be!   

I want to remember in all the stresses and strains and burdens to come in 2014 to "pause, and calmly think" of Jesus carrying not only the burdens that threaten to overwhelm, but carrying me (and those I love) through them as well.

Has God already knocked you off your feet with His Word this year?  Please share in the comments!  


Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful regular friend, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.  (And if you really want to make my day, leave me a comment below, or drop me a note via the email box in the sidebar. :))


Top 25 Posts of 2013

I really haven't forgotten I have a blog, I promise...despite the fact that it appears that way from my posts (or lack thereof!) over the past few months.  A few months ago, I found myself with some  unusual "downtime" where I was away from the responsibilities of the house and family, as well as offline, several hours a day for a few weeks.  During that time, I drafted quite a few blog posts, planning to come back to them when I was home and online to add photos, links, and finishing touches, and then post.

Somehow, the time to do that never materialized. The bad news about that is that the blog has been very quiet during the last quarter of this year.  The good news is that there should be a ton of new content coming in 2014!

In the meantime, it's time for the top 25 posts from Pondering of an Elect Exile in 2013.  This list consists of the most-read posts this year.  I hope to post my favorites from 2013 in the next day or two.  :)

#25 ~ From Bittersweet Last Times to Breathtaking Amazement ~ This post has actually been on my mind several times recently.

The thing about those "last times" that we don't realize are last times is that we don't realize that we are going to want to look back and cherish them, so we don't necessarily even remember them.

That's how it is with July 1, 2006, for me...
#24 ~ How to Empty a 9 x 13 Pan in Nothing Flat {Pecan Pie Bars} ~  This was probably our favorite new recipe of 2013. Yum!!

#23 ~ Monday Morning Meditation ~ A good reminder as we close one year and begin another...

What a reminder...there are no "lower-level" Christians.  If we have been called as followers of Christ, we have equal standing with the likes of Peter!   That is not only an encouragement, but a challenge...we have no excuses...we have everything that Peter, James, John, and Paul had.

That thought was reinforced in verse 3..."His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness", or as the NIV says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life".   "All things", "everything we need"...as I've heard over and over from various preachers/teachers through the years..."all means all".  If we are His, there is nothing that we lack that is needed to live a godly life.
 #22 ~ Happy Birthday, Ammah Grace!

Some time after we were finally settled at home, I began to search in earnest for the meaning of our tiny girl's name.  When I finally found it, I was totally overwhelmed at the ways God works even in the little things.  "Ammah" is actually a Biblical place name meaning, "God's people".  I still get goosebumps typing that after all these years...thinking about the significance that "God's people" had in Ammah Grace's life...the thousands that prayed, and the many who helped us in so many ways during those days.  I am so thankful that God gave us that name as a lifelong reminder to thank Him for the people that He used in her life and in the lives of our family during those days.
#21 ~ 20 Authors Who Have Radically Impacted My Life, Part 1 and Part 2

Favorite books for me are kind of like favorite hymns....there are way too many choices, and other than a short...or maybe not-so-short...list of all-time favorites, the ones closest to my heart generally change depending on what is going on in my life at the time.

However, a list of favorite authors is a little easier. There are just some whose writing consistently speaks to me, and who have been used in great ways in my life over the years.
#20 ~ The Penrod Posts ~ A mystery solved, and a recap of all the Guy Penrod posts here over the years...

We love Guy.  We love him not only for his music, but for his heart for God and for people.  I'm thrilled to have others who appreciate Guy's music and ministry visiting the blog this week!  I hope you'll grab a  cup of coffee or an ice cold drink and stay a while!
#19 ~ Moralistic Therapeutic WHAT? Chilling Words on Young People and the Church ~  

When we think of the term "false gospel", we generally tend to think of cults and false religions: Mormonism, Islam, etc.  However, the "false gospel" that seems to be overtaking us now is a different one: one which is much more insidious, much more subtle, and so very, very dangerous. 
#18 ~ 20 Resources for Teaching Creativity ~  Part of the "Teaching Creativity to Children" Series, which I hope to revive this year!

#17 ~ Monday Funday!! ~Still working on the "fun mom" thing...but I'm making progress! :)

Recently...through a whole conglomeration of things, God has been pricking me about this.  Now...nowhere in the Bible does it say "Thou Shalt Be a Fun Parent".  In fact, there are verses that could be interpreted (and have!) in the other direction.  So what's wrong with not being a fun mom?
#16 ~ Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls ~ Another yummy new recipe, and an update to the "From Bittersweet Last Times to Breathtaking Amazement" post.

#15 ~ Of Favorite Hymns, Not-So-Weird Tears, and a 19th Century Teenager ~

Those words, though, those words still completely overwhelm me.  "God has been so good to me."
#14 ~ What a Legacy, and What a Hope! ~  We've said good-bye to some very special people in the last 53 weeks as they've gone Home to see Jesus face to face.  We have rejoiced for them, but oh, how we miss them, and how we ache for their families, who are never far from our hearts and prayers.  Mrs. Merlene was one of those people.  She left an amazing legacy, perhaps the most amazing part of which was that she wouldn't have considered herself in any way amazing.  She loved the Lord, she loved people, and His love radiated from her in all she did.  And in the days surrounding her death, we heard over and over and over again of lives that she impacted in amazing ways.

#13 ~ The Original Claremore Road Trip Adventure! ~Our first crazy Claremore road trip adventure, to see Steve Ladd, Jonathan Martin, and Michael English. 

Although I don't have the specifics of the things I heard that night that impacted me so much, I do know that God used that concert mightily in my life.  Steve spoke about obedience, trusting God, and stepping out in faith.  Jonathan told about growing up in the backwoods of Arkansas with no electricity, and how God used that to prepare him and his sisters for their current ministry.  Michael shared his testimony of ruin and redemption.
#12 ~ The Ten Commandments of Slow Cooking ~ Great guest post by my blogging friend K.M. Logan!

#11 ~ Spilling Out and Flowing Over {Mary, Martha, and and Raw, Honest Struggle} ~  Oh, wow, did I need to re-read this now as we are entering this new year!  Interesting that Bro. Gary took a brief break from the book of John on Sunday mornings, but now we are back there, and talking about Mary and Martha all over again. :)  Also interesting that last night we watched "Pilgrim's Progress" at our NYE fellowship...what a great visual of those distractions along the journey!

#10 ~ It's a {Daybook} Monday (or Maybe Not!:)) ~ Not sure why this particular Daybook post had so many views, but I needed to re-read it today, too, so I'm glad it did!  I really enjoy reading back through old Daybook posts; I'm going to try to do more of them in 2014.
I started last week very motivated and encouraged and ready to take on the world...only to crash and burn in a major way by the end of the week.  God has been gently putting me back together over the weekend and strengthening me to climb back in the saddle (quite figuratively speaking!) and press on.  I realized as I read this this morning that a huge part of my crash last week involved letting past failures and my perception of future needs completely overshadow God's provision and grace for today and this moment, and consequently let them completely overwhelm me.  Learning from the past and planning for the future are both wise...but the most important thing is living today well...trusting and obeying and rejoicing and accepting God's grace in and for this moment.  Oh, how I need to learn and re-learn this! 
#9 ~ For Overwhelmed Me...and Maybe Overwhelmed You? On "One of Those Mondays" ~  Another Monday, more Mary and Martha, more reminders to abide in Him, Romans 8, and "Do the Next Thing"...
Physical impairments, circumstantial stressors, "what ifs?" piling on top of "what ifs?" 
All are surface problems. 
The root, I know...needing to sit at Jesus's feet like Mary.
And yet I struggle to clear the way.

#8 ~ If I Were Stuck on a Desert Island With One Adhesive {Glue Dots} ~ A rather silly post about one of my favorite products. :)

#7 ~ Teaching Creativity: Creativity Challenges for Kids ~ Looking for creativity challenges for kids (or the whole family!) in 2014?  Here you go!

#6 ~ Saying Good-Bye... ~ Roy has been in Heaven just over a year now, and we still miss him like crazy.  He was only part of our lives for a short time, but he made a big impact on all of us.

#5 ~ Works for Me Wednesday {Electric Skillet Love} ~ A simple little post on a most useful small appliance. :)

#4 ~ For Such a Time {Online Friendships and the Body of Christ} ~ This is one of those post I wrote through many tears.  I still can't read it without more tears...happy and sad ones all muddled together.

We hear so much negative (and there is so much negative) about social media, online relationships, and the internet in general.  As with almost anything in this fallen world, these things can be used very wrongly, and can indeed be quite dangerous. 

And yet, I am always amazed and thrilled at the ways that God can use even modern technology for His glory.

#3 ~ Vintage Eats {Daddy's Mexican Cornbread} ~ Planning to make some of this this weekend as part of an "extended" birthday celebration...Daddy used to make this for my birthday meal every year, and it's still one of my favorites!  (I'm hoping to post more in the Vintage Eats series this year, too...I have a whole list of recipes and stories to share!)

#2 ~ A Long Overdue Road Trip Adventure {Claremore Gordon Mote Concert} ~ Another concert, another Claremore road trip adventure!

#1 ~ St. Paul {Guy Penrod} Weekend, Part 7...My Favorite Moment of the Whole Whirlwind Trip! ~  This was one of my favorite moments of 2012, but it didn't make it onto the blog until 2013. :)   Love these people and this story!

Did you have a favorite read on Ponderings of an Elect Exile this year?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!  Or share a favorite post from your own blog (or elsewhere in the blogosphere).  I'd love to see what has encouraged, helped, or entertained you this year!
Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful regular friend, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.  (And if you really want to make my day, leave me a comment below, or drop me a note via the email box in the sidebar. :))