New Website

Just a reminder, if you “follow” me or receive emails when I post something new, I’ve started a new blog and would love for you to “follow” me there.

https://deborahboutwell.wordpress.com/

Nothing fancy, no crazy name changes…just me, writing from the heart, being more honest than I’ve ever been before.

It’s a scary thing, but I’m willing to share myself with you because I feel that is what God has always been asking me to do, even more so now.

So come on over.

Once there, if you decide to hang around and come back often, at the top of the page there is a little widget you can click on and it opens all the different ways you can follow me.

See you there.

Thou Preparest a Table Before Me

Two years ago, I sat at my great-aunt’s table as she prepared a table before me.  My daughter, Sally, and I had been invited over to go through some things.  We spent the day with this lovely woman, Dorothy Wiggs.

Here she is, making the best dumplings I’d had since my Grannie Lewis (her sister-in-law) made them.  Check out her rolling pin (an old glass bottle).

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Today, she is sitting at the table that the Lord has prepared for her.

Today, we say a final good-by to a woman who’s life can be summed up in a few words.

“She took care of everybody.”

I saw Aunt Dorothy just about 3 weeks ago.  She wanted me to come get a churn that had belonged to the Wiggs’.  We climbed up into her attic (me nearly having to physically force her not to climb any further…which she was very capable of doing at nearly 91 years old) and talked of the many ancestors that had lived in that old house…most that she had taken care of since being brought there as a young bride.

She said that her father-in-law took her with him and treated her very much like a daughter, showing her things and telling her stories.  Grandma Hontas (a great-grandmother living in the house) said that “our Andy won’t be ours anymore” when she moved in.  But Aunt Dorothy took care of the great-grandmother, and her in-laws, and then her husband…all in that little house.

That’s just our side of the family.  Sometimes we forget that she had other nieces and nephews that loved her dearly from her side of the family and I was honored to finally met some of them yesterday.

I asked her how she and Uncle Andy met.  It was on a blind date.  I said, “I guess it worked out okay.”  She just laughed and smiled.  “Yes, it did.  He was good to me.”

She and Uncle Andy didn’t have any children, but they left a legacy, non-the-less.  I heard stories after stories of their legacy last night.

Another generation gone, she was the last of that generation for us.

Now it’s up to us to carry on her legacy and just take care of everybody.

 

I Couldn’t Sleep

It’s been 3 days and I haven’t been able to sleep.  I’m tried and I lay down, but just toss and turn.  When I do finally seem to sleep the dreams wake me back up immediately, they won’t go away.

I can’t stop crying.

This had been my life for so long, these sleepless nights, nights filled with voices in my head.  I had forgotten how terrible it had been.

And then I meet Him.

For the past 2 years my sleep has been peaceful.

But now He’s dead.

He was passing through the town I lived…lived really isn’t the right word…I existed there.  I had no life, no family, no hope.  Those that I might call “friend” still kept their distance from me.  They tried to help, leaving me food and supplies and when the voices were quiet, I was thankful.  But the voices didn’t stay quiet for long and then I just scared everyone…including myself.

They urged me, the voices, to just end it all, to fling myself from highest cliffs to the waters below.  To cut myself and let the blood drain from my body.  I tried, but those friends found me, bound my wounds and took me to see this Man they had heard of.

The Healer.

It was said He was some great prophet traveling from town to town, preaching, teaching and healing people, even bringing a boy back from death…right out of his coffin as they were fixing to bury him.

He claimed to be the Messiah, the One we had been waiting for to save us.  The One God had promised our ancestors would come, that He would send to us.

Sometimes those promises were the only thing that would quiet the voices in my head.

When we entered the house where He was staying, the voices screamed and threw me to the ground.  I started screaming the nearer we came to Him.  I clawed at the arms that held me, I clawed at myself.  The room was so quiet except for me and animal-like sounds that came from somewhere deep inside me.  I could hear the sounds, sounds I have never heard before.

The voices were tearing me apart.

And He kept coming closer to me.

I could see Him, through my dirty hair hanging in my face now.  I had crawled into a corner and huddled there.  There was terror on the faces of those around me, but His face was calm and peaceful.

He reached His hand out to me.

“I’m unclean!”  I whimpered, “Don’t touch me!”

But He did.

“How many are you?” He asked.

The voices responded immediately, with that animal sound, “Seven!”

“Come out of her.” He said.

My body trembled violently and I fell to the ground at His feet.  I reached for them, holding Him by the ankles, as waves of torment shook me to my core.

Then suddenly, quickly, the voices left me.

The room was quiet and for the first time in so many years, so was I.

He lifted me and held me while strength returned to my body.  He asked for water and washed my face.  He asked for food, and prepared a plate and helped me to eat.

And now, for the past 2 years, I’ve been with Him and His men, following Him, helping to prepare food for Him, helping the crowds who come for the same healing that I had received, listening to Him teach and preach, believing…

He was the Messiah.

But now He’s dead.

Killed by the very ones who, just days earlier, had proclaimed Him King.

The dreams I’ve had for the past two nights aren’t really dreams, they are memories of seeing Him beaten to the point we couldn’t recognize Him.  A crown of thorns jammed into His precious head and people mocking Him.

“Why doesn’t He do something?”  We all wondered that.  We knew He could, we had seen His power.  I had felt it remove the demons from my body.  But He allowed it to continue.

The men, His disciples, they left us (me and the other women, His mother too), except for one.  We all stayed with Him as much as we could.  We followed Him when they forced Him to carry the cross.  I held His mother, when He stumbled and she tried to go to Him.  The guards pushing her back.

We followed.  We watched.  We heard.  We witnessed it all.

The nails in His feet and hands.  The sign above His head.  The jeering from the crowd, even the others being crucified.

His words.  His agony.  His peace.

His death.

It was mid-day and yet the sky seemed to scream its anger over what was happening.  The day turned black.  We heard screams coming from the town.  Strange things were happening all around us.  People ran, afraid.

But we stayed.

There was a guard who helped us take Him from the cross and some men offered to help us bury Him.  We followed, as we had always followed Him, to His grave.

And then we went back to the home we had been staying, without Him.  Slowly during the night, the others returned and as we had done in the past, we women prepared food for them and saw to their comfort.

But I couldn’t sleep.

There are things that have to be done.  Women know this.  Death doesn’t stop us from our duties.  Quietly, while the men slept, some of us started to gather supplies.  We had to prepare His body for a proper burial.

As we walked back to the place where we had left Him, we were quiet, a sadness covered us like our shawls, heavy on our shoulders.

Then came the morning as we neared the place and the earth, still angry over what had happened, shook and we held each other, but still we moved on.

But….He wasn’t there!

The stone over the place we had laid Him had rolled away, the guards in a dead faint on the ground.

He wasn’t there!

Some of the women ran back for the men.  They came and saw for themselves.

He wasn’t there!

They left, but I remained, crying.  “Where was He? Can’t you tell me anything?” I asked the gardener that had come near.

“Mary.”  He said

That voice, I knew that voice, I had followed that voice, that voice had saved me!

He was there!

He was alive!

“Go, tell.” He said.

I went, I ran, I told.

He’s alive!  Jesus is alive!

 

 

 

Why the Bunnies?

I’ll never forget my first Easter in college.  My roommate had been assigned to me and we each probably freaked each other out (I know her boyfriend laying on her bed when my dad moved me into the dorm freaked him out).  She was a “valley girl” from California, rich and Jewish.  I was a country girl from heck-town Tennessee, daughter of a share-cropper/factory worker, and Southern Baptist.

She couldn’t get past the fact that we “allowed” farmers to drive their tractors on the road when moving from farm to farm instead of hauling them on big trailers.  I couldn’t get over the fact that on Easter weekend, this Jewish girl was celebrating Easter.

“It’s about bunny rabbits, spring, flowers, new dresses, vacation, and, let’s not forget, the candy!  Why should I miss out on that fun?”

“Ah, because as a Jewish person you don’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Easter is about HIM and His resurrection from the dead after being crucified on the cross by the Jewish people.”

“Well, I just don’t acknowledge that part of it.”

“What!?”

That is why most people celebrate our faith-based-on-Jesus-holidays.  I’m sure those who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, as their Savior, the Son of God, didn’t turn down a day off today or at Christmas.

The truth is, Jesus went to the cross for them wither they acknowledge it or not.  It’s an Easter gift they haven’t opened yet.  My prayer today is that more people will look past the bunnies and see Jesus and His sacrifice for our eternal souls.

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So what is today about, this whole Easter weekend?

It’s about Jesus willing to be arrested, tortured, and crucified on the cross as the sacrificial Lamb for our sins.  However, being the Son of God, the Messiah, He conquered death and after 3 days, HE ROSE AGAIN!  Other religions are based on the beliefs and teaching of men whose bodies are decaying in a grave.  Jesus’ grave is empty because HE IS ALIVE!  Death could not hold HIM!

Halleluiah!  What a Savior!

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What Worship Looks Like

I was asked to teach a class on Creative Bible Study, which some may call Bible Art or Bible Journaling Art, among other references.  In the process of preparing, I’ve prayed about how to approach the fact that this form of worship looks different than what most people are used to or even comfortable with.

Creative Bible Study is “His Word + My Thoughts & Art = a Mixed Media Approach to Bible Study”.  In simple terms, it’s adding art to my bible study, right on the pages of my bible.

It’s not for everyone and I understand and respect that, but for now, it’s for me.

Overall, when I share my worship, I get positive feedback, but every now and then I get the negative feedback.  Since I’m adding art onto my bible pages, sometimes over the words of The Word, some people may see this as a desecration of The Word.  I understand their thought process and I respect that too.

In my defense, the bible that I use the most for this type of worship is designed for this type of worship.  The margins are wider so that most of my art can go in them.  However, sometimes my art extends over into the passage, over the words.  But only in this bible.  It’s set aside for this purpose.  I feel that God is pleased with my form of worship right now and that is who I’m most concerned about pleasing.

This art, this bible study, this journaling is between me and God.  I share my art to encourage others in their walk with God…however that may look.

I was reminded of how people look at worship differently this morning as I was reading Acts 24.  Jesus changed the way people worshiped, He changed Who they worshiped!  Some chose to worship Him, others decided this was not the Way, or the Who, to worship and tried to kill those who worshiped Jesus.

Paul had been one of those trying to stop the worship of Jesus until he met Jesus face-to-face.  He then became one of those others tried to kill for Who he worshiped.  He was beaten and imprisoned.  When he plead his case before the governor, Felix, his accusers said:

For we have found this man to be a plague, an agitator among all the Jews, throughout the Roman world, and a ringleader of a sect of the Nazarenes!  He even tried to desecrate the temple, so we apprehended him and wanted to judge him according to our law. (Acts 24:5-6)

Paul’s defense was this:

I went up to worship in Jerusalem.  I confess this to you:  I worship my fathers’ God according to the Way, which they call a sect, believing all the things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets.  And I have a hope in God, which these men themselves also accept, that there is gong to be a resurrection, both of the righteous and the unrighteous.  I always do my best to have a clear conscience toward God and men. (Acts 24:11, 14-16)

Paul was saying that he worshipped the same God that they worshipped, only according to the Gospel to Jesus Christ.  They had stopped in their belief of God at a certain point and said “we believe up to here, but no more” and Paul said, “oh, there is so much more!”

God accepts our worship when it is truly from the heart and my worship may look different than yours, but it is according to Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it’s from the heart to God.

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For those of you who do art in your bible, here is the technique I used for the picture above:

After studying the passage, I knew I wanted to focus on “worship”, so I Googled images of worship on my tablet.  When I found the image I wanted, I traced lightly over the image with tracing paper (this is sometimes tricky since the image might move when you touch the screen).  I then traced the image into my bible using graphite paper or carbon paper.  The details were done with colored pencils and Micron pens.

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Being Inspired

Daddy used to say, “Do you think I like running up and down that highway” every time we would ask him to take us somewhere on his days off.  And now I understand why he just wanted to be at home as much as he could since I run up and down that same highway 5 days a week.  However on my day off, on a beautiful day…the first in a very long time….I decided to do some running.

I took Sally me.

I had some things on a list of “to-dos” and it could have gotten done closer to home, but we hit 840 and headed to Spring Hill, TN and had a beautiful day together.  But what was the neatest part of the day was when God directed our steps to a little boutique and we walked away inspired.

For those of you who don’t know, Sally is a graduate from design school and while she is currently designing jewelry, she started out in fashions.

As we chatted with the owner of A Woman’s Touch, Wanda Guy, we were honored to met the designer of many of the pieces in her shop.  I loved watching and listening to Wanda and Sally chat about their passion and even more inspired to see Sally inspired.

I don’t want Sally to wait for 30 years and then finally be able to follow her passion.  I want her to have it now, follow her passion now.

I think Sally walked away inspired.  I know I did.