Soil, Roots, Fruit

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In my Tuesday morning bible study, we are working through Conversation Peace by Mary A. Kassian. It is a study about the power of speech… what we say… how we say it. It is hitting kind of close to home.

This week’s lesson began with:

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That is clear. Ugly heart, ugly words. Sweet heart, sweet words.

She offers a great analogy for how our insides can contaminate what we show on the outside. When a plant has root rot and the leaves turn ick, it is not the leaves that cause it, but it is rotting roots that cause the leaves to turn brown and ugly. I did not know that when your plant gets root rot, you have to also replace the soil. The disease remains in the soil, will infect the roots of the new plant, and then the leaves or fruit.

The three parts in this equation are:

  • the soil: our deepest beliefs and values…which affects…
  • the roots: our attitudes and thoughts…which affect
  • the fruit: our words and behavior

This is one reason I study God’s word. There is always someone being led by the Holy Spirit, who might offer me a fresh viewpoint.

I know that I cannot keep my soil clean or my roots disease free.

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But, we belong to a loving God who will take care of our soil and our roots if we turn to Him with our whole hearts. He will plant us and not pluck us up. Our fruit can be good as He builds us up, and we know Him more.

Here we are (you and I), in my journaling bible, growing our fruit in clean soil with healthy roots.

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Guard your heart… (Proverbs 4:23)

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The Wind Blows Where it Pleases

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Sunday past, Pastor Dave taught us from John 3. Millions of people are familiar with what is probably the most famous verse in the bible, John 3: 16. But, it was the 8th verse in that chapter that caught my mind.

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When I was in college, about 200 years ago, I choreographed a dance for the annual Concert of Dance, using this verse as my inspiration. Later, I realized, I really did not know what that verse was talking about. It made a lovely piece. Lynne, Paulie, and Pam were strapped to elastic cords on which were strung a LOT of clear drinking straws. The piece had no music. The straws made interesting, ethereal, shushing sounds as they moved around the stage.

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(taken when you actually had to remove the film from the camera and take it to the drugstore to be developed)

Seeing that this verse and I have a long-standing history, I wanted to be sure I understood it and then not forget it. I borrowed my own straw idea and made a quick wind chime. Right now, it is hanging in the hallway. When windows are open, the hallway gets a nice breeze. I can also bump it with my hand when I walk past it. The straws make a soft noise, and bring the Holy Spirit, and the ways He works within me, to mind.

Dave reminded us that often in scripture, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the wind or a breath. He described what is being taught us in the verse: The wind blows as it pleases, there is nothing we can do to change it or control it. So is the will of God. Salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit is His idea, not ours. Salvation and forgiveness of sin is His sovereign act.

We can see the result of the wind, whether it is a soft breeze or a tornado. People can see the result of the Holy Spirit in us, as well. We cannot control the Holy Spirit, but we. and others, can see and feel the effects of being born of the Spirit.

Salvation and the Holy Spirit are gifts of God’s choosing, given to us for no other reason that that. Amen!

To make a straw wind chime like mine, follow along. You could opt to hang anything to  make your chime: pieces from an old broken wind chime, silverware, keys, who knows… Check Pinterest for ideas! I only chose straws because……

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I used plastic straws, the inner ring of a 4″ embroidery hoop (you might have something cooler in the junk drawer or the garage to use), and black crochet thread (which is string). I also needed some black paint and a brush, scissors and a darning needle. It is possible you could find most of this at home already and the rest at the dollar store.

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Paint the hoop. Let it dry.

I used a 2 yard piece of thread on my needle. String a straw on the needle, up near the top of the straw. Wrap the thread around the hoop twice.  Repeat with as many straws as you want. 2 yards of thread got me halfway around. I tied off the end and started another 2 yards.

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To hang it up, I knotted three pieces of thread to the hoop, held them together to form a loop and hung it from the loop. This can go outside later when the weather is nicer.

Walk in obedience to all He commands, Jeremiah 7:23.

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Walking in Good Works

 

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We know that acts or deeds do not bring us salvation. But through salvation, Jesus created the me (and the you) that wants to serve. It is God’s plan that salvation results in acts of service. We were not saved only for our own benefit, but to serve and to build up the church.

During word study, I found the following definitions:

created: an act of God, only God can make what was not there before, pleasing to God

works: actions, behaviors, deeds

beforehand: decreed by God

walk: conduct my life, walk about without argument

Using the definitions, I might say, or pray this back to God:

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Don’t you love the thought that God decreed before You existed that good works would be a part of your life? Also, did you notice that the verse does not say so that we could walk in them, but so that we would walk in them?

I made wearable art to remind myself of this. This green shirt was an amazing bargain at Salvation Army for $1.50. If you have a plain t-shirt and a bleach pen, you can do this project in under an hour.

You will need:

t-shirt

board (I used a foam board from the Dollar Store)

Bleach Pen

stick of chalk

tape

rag or paper towel

paring knife

 

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Print the pattern. Feel free to grow or shrink it if you like.

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Put the shirt on the board. Tape it down so the fabric will not move. Tape the sleeves to the backside so they can’t flip forward into your wet bleach gel.

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To transfer the pattern to the shirt, I used a piece of white chalk. With a paring knife, I whittled one end into a point. It makes it easier to trace the pattern lines.

Lay your printed pattern on your work surface. Trace all of the lines with your chalk. Turn the paper chalk side down on the center, top of the shirt. Using just your hands, rub over the back of the paper.

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This transfers the pattern lines.

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Shake your bleach pen. Squeeze some onto the paper towel. If the bleach is not coming out like a white gel, shake it until it does. Trace all of the chalk lines with the bleach gel. The bleach will absorb the chalk. I work as quickly as I can without making a mess. Then I let my shirt sit for no longer than 20 minutes. If you let the bleach sit longer on your shirt, it will eat the fibers of the fabric and you will have holes after a couple washings.

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After 20 minutes, remove the tape. Carefully slide the shirt off the board. Rinse all of the gel off the shirt.

Challenge! Here is a challenge for you. I did not do this, but am going to try it. Print the verse on the back of the t-shirt with your bleach pen!

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Philippians 2:4)

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When God Calls

In my Tuesday morning bible study, we have been studying the book of Acts. The thing that has spoken most to me, so far, was in chapter 9; Paul’s conversion. It is an amazing and interesting story that I have read a zillion times. But, funny, something completely different popped out while reading it this time.

God called Saul to disciple non Jews. But in Saul’s case (and every one of ours), when God called, He gave Saul everything he needed to accomplish his mission. He did not make it a walk in the park, but He did make it work.

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In my journaling bible, I highlighted all the things God gave Saul to get his work done. This was the very last thing Saul would have thought would happen to him and it was going to be hard! He could not have done it without God’s help:

  • Clarity. When God called Saul, He made it clear that it was Him calling and what He wanted Saul to do next.
  • People to help. While he was blind, his men got him to Damascus. Judas took him in and gave him a place to stay. Ananias encouraged and baptized him. His new disciples saved his life twice by getting him out of town.
  • The Holy Spirit!
  • Strength.
  • Barnabas. He introduced Saul to the apostles and told them Saul’s story.
  • A Brotherhood. The apostles let Saul hang out with them. Imagine what that did to his street cred.
  • Boldness. He spoke boldly with the knowledge and the back up he had gained.

Acts 9: 3-30

As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said“I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;  and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;  for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”  So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;  and he took food and was strengthened.

Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”  All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.

When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

Why did this stand out so strongly to me? Recently God has been calling me out of my comfort zone. Even though I am not so confident in what He has called me to do, I manage to accomplish it with the help of God who assigned me. He gives me what I need. From now on, I think I will be more aware and more thankful for what He gives me to get the job done when He calls.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take, Proverbs 3:6 (NLT)

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Encouraging Words

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I am working on a book for my cousin Bird. She is undergoing treatments for cancer. The second time. She has the best, most positive attitude about it, and she puts her trust in God. Or…because she puts her trust in God. I want her to know that I am praying for her, and how I am praying for her. Hopefully, these pages will help her to remember that God will never leave her, and she is not going through it alone.

Please print out any of these pages if you need them for similar use. And if you have a moment, please say a prayer for Bird? She and I will be grateful.

Be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere, Ephesians 6:18

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Wisdom for 2016 and Beyond!

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God has announced my word for 2016. Wisdom. Last year (2015), God put some people with problems in my life. As the elder of all of these matches, at times, I was expected to come up with, and share some hard earned wisdom. Ugh. How to answer why everything in your life is horrible? What to say to someone who does not seem to make one good decision? And how to explain to a new believer that some Christians are absolutely horrible to other people? All of this is so far out of my comfort zone. I just want to sit at my table and paint or string beads.

Anyway, at this point in my life, I probably should pack on some wisdom. And recently, I found that (hallelujah!) I maybe, possibly have gained some along the way. I guess it is time.

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I am looking forward to where God takes me and what He teaches me.

Last year, I journaled all kinds of trees for my word “thrive.” This year? Owls!

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Print and color if it speaks to you. Print on watercolor paper if you want to use watercolor pencils like I did. Enjoy!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding (very wise!), Proverbs 3:5-6

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Thrive?

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The first week of 2015, I started using this journal drawing to sign off my blog posts. “Thrive” was my word of the year.

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I also added this to my bible, at the same verses: Jeremiah 17: 7-8.

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The first week of 2015, God gave me Jeremiah 17: 7-8. That scripture told me “blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water that will not be anxious in a year of drought.” For me, not having a job almost all year, was a seriously potential drought situation. I drew trees all year in my journal to keep that promise locked in my mind. Turns out, He was faithful to those words in many many ways.

I thought God gave me the word because in January 2015, I was barely surviving the job I had. Turns out, I lost that job in the spring and have been without one the rest of the year. God gave me that word to teach me to thrive in a situation that normally would have been hard to merely survive.

In 2015, I did more than survive, I was able to thrive.

Now, to keep what I have learned throughout 2015 as I head into 2016 and a new word on which to focus. Stay tuned….

Are you reflecting on a 2015 word? I would love to hear about it!

Trust in Him when you are afraid, Psalm 56:3.

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