Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Philippians 4:8-9 MSG
I have a confession to make. I experimented with the paint on this page, and was really disappointed with how it turned out. I stuck with the theme God put on my heart though, and just decided to keep the page to myself. I figured that not everyone always needs to see my work anyway, and honestly, I was embarrassed by the botched paint job.
I finished the page, said, “thanks for the inspiration, God; I wish I could’ve done a better job of putting it all together,” then I closed the book on the subject. Literally.
Later though, as I was snuggling with my baby before his nap, God put Philippians 4:8 back on my heart.
I knew the verse, generally speaking. I knew it was a great verse for encouragement, I knew it served as a fantastic reminder to turn negative thoughts over to Christ, and I knew it as inspiration to “think happy thoughts,” so to speak.
Yes, the verse is still good for those things, but I needed to directly apply it to something in my life in order to understand the true depth of the verse. So as I was getting baby snuggles, I was also gaining a clearer understanding of how this verse could be applied to my life:
The day had been a relatively good one. Just like any other day, it had its good, bad, and ugly moments, and I was just about to chalk it up as “just another fine day,” when I realized it was nap time. (Cue the choir of angels.) Really though, naturally, as a young working mama, nap time is going to be something I look forward to. (Even when there’s a 7 year-old still running circles around me, at least he can be trusted to not wake the baby.) This time though, we were sharing one of those super-sweet snuggly moments that just make your heart swell with joy and gladness, and I realized — this was actually not “just another fine day.” This was a beautiful, sunshiny, literal walk in the park, baby snuggles, and story time with the big kid type of day.
In those too-few moments of pre-nap time snuggles, I realized that God was gently pushing me towards something deeper than just realizing how lovely of a day I’d had. Images of this journaling page flashed in my mind, and I remembered the verse as I had read it in The Message translation. It says to fill your minds with
…the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
As for this page, I had been focusing on the worst parts. I was focusing on what I considered ugly according to my taste, and I cursed the miserable job I’d done to emulate what God had put on my heart.
As for my life, well, I think we could all share our lists of woes with each other to discover who’s busiest, who’s the most stressed, who’s got the least amount of help, etc., but what good would that do?
So through a quiet moment and through something as simple as a journaling page, my whole focus has shifted. The page is beautiful to me now, even with its blotchy, messy paint and mismatched colors.
My life is beautiful. I’ve always considered my life beautiful, but I’ve decided I’ll no longer bother worrying about the worst and the ugliest. My life is beautiful, even with its unmet goals, meter-long to-do lists, toy-covered living room floors, dirty dishes piled high, and all of the professional, personal, emotional, and let’s face it — hormonal struggles dealt with in between. It’s really, really beautiful.
So let’s collectively get our minds out of the gutter of comparison, negativity, and even apathy, and let’s shout a great big, unified, “THANKS, GOD, FOR ALL THE LOVELY THINGS!”
P.S. I need to point out that this story is a testament to how incredibly effective and healthy bible journaling can be for our hearts and walks with Christ! I’m learning new things every day I’m in my journaling bible, and can’t wait to see what other lessons God’s got up His sleeve for me through this journey!
Illustrated Faith Print Pray Paste cut-outs (Faith Memo) | Illustrated Faith by Bella Blvd Beautiful devotional kit cut-out | Illustrated Faith by Bella Blvd die cuts (Pop Culture, Family, Friendship) | Illustrated Faith by Bella Blvd Whatever Is Lovely collection scrapbook paper | Illustrated Faith by Bella Blvd precision pens (.65, .25) | Illustrated Faith by Bella Blvd Be Bold bible mat | Illustrated Faith by Bella Blvd Date It stamp | Illustrated Faith by Bella Blvd Black Eyed Pea ink pad | Gerstaeker Studio acrylic paint (Titanium White, Payne’s Grey) | Tiger Stores acrylic paint (pink) | Pelikan paintbrushes ( 8 flat, 20 flat) | Pritt Power Glue