Happy Blogday to Me!

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I’m actually a couple of days late but apparently Sunday was the 9th anniversary of my signing up with WordPress. Seems like a good time to post a long-overdue update. (Note: This particular blog doesn’t go back nine years so don’t try to scroll back that far. It’s had a couple of incarnations.)

There has been so much going on! (If this was Instagram, I’d insert half a dozen cute emojis here.) 🙂 Here are a few highlights with links and things to check out… And I’ll have more to share in the coming weeks!

 Restore My Soul, my new devotional colouring book, has already started hitting book stores, so be sure to ask for it if you can’t find it on the shelves, or you can order it from several different online retailers. I provide links on my website here.

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I’m finally on Instagram! I wanted to be able to connect with those who buy Restore My Soul and want to share pictures of the pages they’ve coloured. You can join in the fun by following me and searching/using the hashtags #restoremysouldevo and #annhovsepian. I’ve shared sneak peeks at Restore My Soul pages and you’ll also see my latest attempts at doodling, lettering, colouring and more. Lots of colour and lots fun! Click below…

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 On May 7, I’ll be (nervously) hosting a book launch / colouring party in my neighbourhood. I have never attempted anything like this before so I’m not sure what to expect but “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” right?! 1924250_36240912797_2388_nI thought a traditional book signing would be pretty boring so I’ve rented Espace POP on Park Avenue for the day and am inviting everyone to come and spend some time colouring free pages I’ll have on hand while they check out my books and other goodies.
I’m going to whip up crayon and marker rolls similar to this one I made ages ago and have those available, too.

Eek! I have so much to prepare but I can’t wait! If you’re in the Montreal area, please come! Here’s the official Facebook event page.

 In February, a resource I created for Canadian Baptist Women of Ontario & Quebec, including two free colouring pages, went live on their website. You can find it here.

It was a privilege to be asked to participate in a special Holy Week devotional series published by In Touch this month. My piece was for Good Friday and you can read it here (or in your March 2016 devotional, if you’re an In Touch subscriber). Here’s an excerpt:

The cross of Christ is more than the wood His body was nailed to 2,000 years ago. It’s more than a symbol, on churches or jewelry, of what Jesus did for us. The cross we carry must be a consciousness of the debt we owe God and the willingness to live—or die—for Him.

That’s all for today! See you all soon… and don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram and Facebook! 🙂

In With the Old, In With the New

First, some seasonal thoughts, and then I’ve got a wee update (as promised in my last post) below.

A common expression we hear around the end of each year is “Out with the old, in with the new.” However, the “wrong” title of my post is actually in reference to something I was thinking about some time ago.

I usually start listening to Christmas music about the third or fourth week of November. Over the years, I’ve noticed that there is always new Christmas music being written and produced — or old songs being redone in a “fresh” new way. We like new things, especially in our Western society where we have short attention spans and get bored of the same thing quickly.

What a challenge it must be for preachers preparing their Christmas sermons, knowing that their listeners might be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this a hundred times before.” How many different ways can you present the same story, the same message? How many new twists can you give to something so familiar? Do we really need to?

I enjoy new things as much as anyone else, but I am also a lover of vintage treasures and antiques. I cannot throw anything out without first looking at it  and asking myself, “Can I reuse this? Can I salvage and recycle any part of this for some other purpose?” For example, I never toss a magazine without first going through all the pages to pull out any that I can craft into a pretty envelope or use to wrap small gifts.

Of course, even more important than old things are old (or, to be more polite, elderly) people. I hope none of us ever looks for ways to get rid of or “redo” a loved one just because they’ve passed a certain age! No, we cherish them the way they are and sometimes even listen to the same story for the 43rd time. We do this because we recognize the blessing that these people are.

What about the Word of God? What about the two-millennia-old story of Jesus’ birth? Do we really need to try to give it a makeover? I don’t think so!

I do believe, however, that when we hear the old, old story retold, if we listen with an open and seeking heart, God will make it new for us. Christmas becomes fresh and relevant to us when we change, not when we change the music, the props  and the message.

This Christmas, I pray you will enjoy the old… and the new!

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And now to let you know what I’ve been up to for the past several months: Over the summer, with the encouragement of persuasive friends, I submitted a proposal for a devotional colouring book to a few publishers. After the usual sitting-at-the-edge-of-my-seat wait, I heard back from Tyndale House. They wanted my book! Amazingly, I got word the very next day from WaterBrook Multnomah asking me to contribute five drawings to a multi-artist colouring book called Whatever Is Lovely (released last week on December 15).

My own book, Restore My Soul, will be released on April 1, 2016. It features 40 devotions, each accompanied by a colouring page that urges the reader to meditate on and respond to the reading, whether that’s right away or during a re-visit later. Please check it out and go ahead and pre-order it! Details about Restore My Soul, including purchase options, and all my other books can be found here. Stay tuned to hear about an exciting book launch / colouring party I’m organizing. In the meantime, here’s a peek at the first of my book covers that I designed myself:

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A couple of other fun things that have been happening:

  1. I’m in love with the astoundingly beautiful art magazine Uppercase and am tickled red (I don’t like pink) that (a) one of my tiny doodles will be included in the 2016 Uppercase calendar and (b) my Puffy Christmas Tree tutorial was featured in a recent Uppercase e-newsletter.
  2. I’ve been invited to teach two workshops next April (which is also book launch month… whew!) First, I’ll be teaching about “Fearless Freelancing” at the 2016 Evangelical Press Association convention and then, a few weeks later, I’ll be at the Canadian Baptist Women of Ontario & Quebec annual conference, leading a class on incorporating colouring into one’s quiet times. At past events I taught workshops on Creative Devotions so this is a great follow-up. I’m excited about both these opportunities!

If you haven’t yet, please “like” my Facebook page (we recently passed 1,000 followers… hooray!) and enjoy daily inspiration.

See you next time!

 

Thoughts on Eternity

I know, I know… It’s been an eternity since I last posted on my blog. So sorry, folks! But I think I might have a good reason. Lots of exciting things have been happening around here and I will be telling you about some of it very soon. Let me just give you a two-word hint for now: COLOURING BOOKS! Oh yeah… *insert joyous Snoopy dance … or Hobbes dance … whichever you prefer!*

Until my next update (which I promise will be before the end of the year), here’s a little something I wrote the other day for my church newsletter. I hope it inspires you. If it does, please leave a comment and share this with a friend!

Thoughts on Eternity

One of the fir trees behind our house, which was barely two feet tall when my father planted it over 30 years ago, had grown to about five storeys high. On June 23, the top seven feet broke off, mercifully falling into our second-storey patio instead of on top of my sister’s car on the other side of our fence. The top two feet or so of the portion that broke off weighed at least 50 pounds, by our estimation. The full seven feet must have weighed at least 200 pounds.

Here’s a little gallery of the photos I took after the treetop tumbled:

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I find it a bit ironic that firs are evergreens but even this hardy tree, which has withstood many winters and storms, was vulnerable under the weight of its own cones. The burden was too great and it cracked.

When Isaiah said, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (40:8), even evergreens were not counted as exceptions. Every created thing, whether human or natural, is finite. From the instant melting of delicate snowflakes to the gradual erosion of majestic mountains, nothing on earth is immune to deterioration.

This serves to highlight the truth and profundity of Isaiah’s proclamation about God’s word. Contrary to what’s on earth, everything about God is infinite and eternal—His power, His wisdom, His holiness, His love. He is not bound by space. He is not limited by time. Nothing can stop Him or contain Him.

Don’t we all long to be that free? Don’t we long to be unburdened of the shackles that weigh us down and slow us down? We want to be strong, pure, brave, wise and good, and we want to live forever? Why is that?

First of all, we must remember that we have all been created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Secondly, as King Solomon put it in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

This hope of eternity, the promise of eternal life, is what keeps us going. As we celebrate Christ’s birth this month, we must remember why He came to earth: to become the sacrifice that would provide a way for us to be reconciled to God and be saved for eternity. John 3:16 says it all: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The POW!er of Words

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

When watching hockey, soccer or most other sports, the person we generally pay the least attention to is actually quite vital to how the game proceeds. The referee is important because he is, in theory, neutral. In any sport, the referee isn’t visibly rooting for either team and he can—or should—be perfectly fair when making decisions about things like penalties, fouls and so on. For the fans watching the match, he’s not one of the good guys, but he’s also not one of the bad guys.

Many other things in life are neutral. For example, money can be used to build hospitals, provide disaster relief or give access to education, or it can be used to traffic drugs (or people), silence a witness or buy power. Fire can be used to cook a steak or to burn down a forest or a house. A knife can be used to slice watermelon or to kill someone. The Internet can be used to share good news or to pollute minds and destroy lives.

Words, by themselves, are neutral too. But, just like money, fire, knives and the Internet, if they’re used the wrong way, they can really hurt someone. God wants you to use your words to comfort and love others, to build them up and to speak truth to them, not to destroy them or tear them down.

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Destructive words can take on many forms, such as lies, gossip, slander, criticism, mocking, cursing, sarcasm and nagging. Edifying words can include praise, prayer, words from Scripture and even helpful correction. What makes our words powerful is their finality. Once spoken, they cannot be unspoken.

Author Jodi Picoult once said:

“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”

This week, consider the words that come out of your mouth, no matter who you’re speaking to. May the Lord give us all tongues that bring healing.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

If you want to remember this verse, feel free to “borrow” this graphic for your Facebook cover photo (also added to the freebie page here):

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My Heart, Christ’s Home

Over a dozen years ago, I read a little booklet called My Heart, Christ’s Home, written by Robert Boyd Munger in 1951. It is a challenging meditation about Christian discipleship with estimates that more than 10 million have read it. When I read it the first time, it reminded me of basic truths that I need my attention drawn to every now and again.

home-40700_1280Imagine Jesus coming to the home of your heart when you receive Him as your Saviour. As He moves from room to room, what does He see?

In the library, are you embarrassed to let Him see what is on the shelves?

In the dining room, what’s on the menu? What appetites do you try to satisfy there? Do you allow Christ to replace your secular fare with His soul-satisfying food and drink?

In the workroom, does He find that you are using your gifts and talents for His glory or are your tools rusting and collecting dust?

Do you even allow Him into the rec room where you go for fun and leisure activities? Is it a place you would feel comfortable inviting Him to hang out with you?

What about the bedroom? Are your relationships pure and godly? Will you consider His guidelines, keeping in mind He gives them out of His love for you and not to stifle you?

Is there anything rotting in your hall closet that you’ve hidden away? Will you let Him clean it out?

The living room is the ideal place to meet with Him for fellowship. But do you visit with Him regularly, talking and sharing or does He sit there waiting for you to make some time for Him?

I love Munger’s interpretation of what Jesus might say:

“The trouble is that you have been thinking of the quiet time of Bible study and prayer as a means for your own spiritual growth. This is true, but you have forgotten that this time means something to me also. Remember, I love you. At a great cost I have redeemed you. I value your fellowship. Just to have you look up into my face warms my heart. Don’t neglect this hour if only for my sake. Whether or not you want to be with me, remember I want to be with you. I really love you!”

Jesus may be your Saviour—but have you truly made Him Lord of your life, of your heart… His home?

♥ Note: You can read the entire text of My Heart, Christ’s Home here. It’s only six pages long.

The Most Expensive Bowl of Soup in History

Several years ago, I almost skipped a Tuesday-night Bible study at my church—something I just about never do. I wasn’t feeling very well but there was a bit more to it than that. I guess I had the “blahs” and was welcoming an excuse to stay home. I ended up going late because I overslept when I took a much-needed nap, but I did go. God had a plan and He wasn’t going to let me off easy!

When I slipped into my seat after arriving, I opened my Bible to the chapter we had been studying and immediately saw this passage from Hebrews 12:

14- Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15- See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16- See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17- Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

What a powerful message! How many times have you and I given up blessings from the Lord over a “bowl of soup”—a moment’s pleasure, a foolish diversion, tasteless entertainment? How many of us, like I almost did, give up opportunities for spiritual growth just because we feel too lazy to do the right thing? Worse still, how many people are giving up their inheritance for even less than a bowl of soup? For life-threatening poison such as sinful indulgences or bitter resentments?

Esau’s story isn’t just the makings of a neat little Sunday School lesson. Paul, in writing to the Hebrews, used Esau’s example to convict believers of sin and to warn them of the consequences of taking God’s gift of grace for granted.

When Esau begged Jacob for a meal, that was the most important thing on his mind. It was an instinctive cry to have his immediate needs met. But he acted foolishly. He devalued the importance of his inheritance in order to find physical satisfaction.

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We scoff at Esau’s obvious lack of wisdom, don’t we? Yet aren’t we guilty of the same lapses in judgment? Aren’t we guilty of placing greater importance on temporal, physical gains than on eternal, spiritual aspirations?

Learn a lesson from Esau. Don’t give up your inheritance for a bowl of soup!

“Meanwhile we groan…”

I’ve been deep in thought all day and I suddenly remembered this quote from C.S. Lewis: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” In looking for it among my Facebook photos, I came across the graphic below, which fits perfectly, too.

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It’s probably safe to say the majority of us, at some level, at some point in our lives, long for an existence or circumstances other than our current reality. The mistake we make is in thinking that if we successfully manipulate our circumstances to better suit us, we will finally feel whole and happy.

That’s been a lie from the enemy since day one, which is probably why so many people are walking around feeling miserable, hopeless or dissatisfied. Even drastic measures are usually only a temporary or superficial solution.

Nothing and no one but our Creator can fill the emptiness in our hearts and even then we will not be wholly whole until we are safely “home.” As far as I’m concerned, we’re still sitting on the tarmac.

The Apostle Paul put it beautifully:

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
We live by faith, not by sight.
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)

Note: If you found this post helpful or inspiring, you may also like this one: The Desires of Your Heart.

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