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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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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The Light of the World

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In this season, we are celebrating the birth of the Light of the World. This morning, Pastor Dave spoke to us about what it means to be in the Light and remain in the Light. If you look it up, there are many verses about Light, the Light of the World, the Light of Life, the Children of Light…. It would be a great topic on which to do a study, or to make it your word of the year.

But for today, Light in this verse means “the illuminator of men”. Jesus. The Light of the World.

In this section of James 8, Jesus is speaking to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, during the Festival of Shelters. During this festival, huge lamps were placed in the courtyard in the Temple. They were lit to remind the people of the pillars of fire that led them out of the wilderness. In James 8:12, Jesus is declaring Himself to be God.

As the Light (God), Jesus shows us the truth, gives us understanding of Him and His word, helps us to see His will and shows us how to follow it. But, there is one big thing about being able to see light. You must have eyes to see it. There is no light if a person cannot or will not see it.

So, together this Christmas season, let’s practice seeing the Light….looking toward Him, reading His word, following His teaching, asking for His will to be revealed. Let’s try not to get caught up in  the craziness of parking space rage, overspending and overeating, making there perfect cookies and all of the stuff that creeps into Christmas, but let’s see Him. If we can do it this week, we can do it any week!

Follow Him (John 8:12),

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Be the One!

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This scripture was part of this morning’s message at church. And what perfect timing! I think we all have giving thanks on the mind during the month of November, especially the week of Thanksgiving celebrations. But, how important is it to give thanks to God always?

I journaled this in my bible during the service so I would not forget. It is finished with watercolor pencils and my water pen.

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This is a great story. Read it a couple times and make note of what you learn. Feel free to trace my drawing for your own, or use the idea to draw your own.

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This is what I learned from these verses in Luke. Please share your insights!

  • The ten men in the village had no reservations about asking Jesus for help. They even had to yell from a distance to accomplish that, because they were not allowed to be near other people.
  • Jesus sent them to the priests. Normally, He spoke words over a sick person, or touched him. But in this instance, He was asking for the lepers to go to the priests, requiring some faith on their parts.
  • Only one of the ten returned to Jesus to thank Him for healing him of leprosy. This one was a Samaritan, who would not normally dare to go see the Jewish priests. He believed Jesus would heal him in whatever way He chose.
  • Jesus noticed the rest had not returned to thank Him. He did not demand thanks, but He noticed when it was not given. His own chosen people, who knew the prophesy that told them He was the Son of God who had come to save them, did not understand what had really happened.
  • Jesus wanted the Samaritan who gave Him the glory, to know that he was not only healed in body, but in his soul, because he believed.

It makes me think about how many times I ask Him for things. And how many times I forget to thank Him for answering my prayers. I am His chosen child, I have faith that He will answer my prayers, but I never want to forget or take for granted the biggest gift He has given me. His grace has saved my soul. He notices when I am not thankful.

Bless His name, Psalm 100: 4

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Book of Thanks, Pages 6,7,8

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At the very moment I am posting this, a friend of mine is going through some really bad stuff. I feel sad, mad and kind of sick. It is pretty hard to think about rejoicing and giving thanks. But lo and behold, this is exactly when God speaks, right? I can rejoice in my salvation, hope and a future. Certainly, I am praying for mercy for my friend. If I try to have a prayerful attitude all the time, and keep God in the forefront of my consciousness, that is when it becomes easier to pray short spontaneous prayers. And of course, I really have so much for which to be thankful. Even when it seems like evil trumps, I still have God Almighty as my Heavenly Father, and know that He is in control of everything that is happening. It is about focus, right?

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That right there? It makes me so very thankful. I have no doubts about the goodness of God and that he is mercy is everlasting. And it makes me sing the song, Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.”

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Worry = lack of trust in God. When I have so much on my mind, that thing where I try to replace it with God on my mind is oh so very good. Some days it is easier than others, but the days I succeed carry so much less stress. When I get a flash of emotion, or of the bad thing, I turn it immediately into a prayer. It doesn’t have to be a manifesto, just a short prayer to remind me that God has this. I am working on that this very night.

I love how God reminds and comforts. I should be on page 16 today….just a little behind…but today is the day that I needed to work on these three pages. Another reason to give thanks to the Lord and His scheduling.
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Here is the printable pattern. Mine is 8 1/4″ tall and 7″ wide. You can see the lines to cut the piece into 3 parts. If you are not making a book, this make 3 nice size bookmarks. Color at will. I used watercolor pencils on watercolor paper, as usual. And I will put this into the book like it is one page.

Pray without ceasing, I Thessalonians 5: 17

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Delight Yourself in the Lord

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For many years, I have been telling the Lord the desires of my heart. Yeah, I know He knows, but James 4:3 says I have to ask if I am going to get what I want.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3

Then this week, God directed me to this verse in Psalm 37:

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It is a comforting, hopeful, even exciting verse, isn’t it? And I realized, I have been waiting for God to grant me my desires, but I forgot about the first part of the verse. Have I been delighting myself in the Lord? And what in the world does that even mean?

So, yesterday, I spent 3 1/2 miles walking and talking to God about just that. How can I delight myself in the Lord?

  • Find the good parts of everything. Even in a day or a project that is frustrating or failing, I can find good parts, and be thankful for what I am learning, and the time I spent with God asking for His help.
  • Be in the word. I know it sounds like the Sunday School answer for all questions for believers. But, haven’t you been in study and read scripture that makes your heart flutter? Even if you have read it a hundred times before, TODAY, it brings you unexplainable joy? And it is so good that you have to call your friend to talk about it, and put it on your Facebook page? DELIGHT!
  • And sometimes when you are singing a song of praise to God, doesn’t it choke you up and bring tears to your eyes that God Almighty chose you to be His very own child?
  • The easiest way for me to find delight in the Lord is to go outside. I am a visual person (as you know from this blog), and I can walk for miles marveling about how many colors of green God has given us… how each season has it’s own beauty…. how the leaves on the wind make patterns in the sky? If I pay attention, I can do that all day. It is pretty awesome when I pay attention.

And then I did a word study on the word “Delight”, from the original Hebrew. I had to look it up twice because it did not make sense. But as I thought more about it, the better it got. In this verse, it means to be soft and pliable. Is it possible for me to delight in anything when I let the frustration crank me up? Or when I am not ready and open to hear the hope in God’s word or heartfelt praise in a song? This verse is saying be soft and pliable in the Lord, and He will give me the delights of my heart.

Think about that.

Meanwhile, to help keep it fresh in your mind, I am giving you a coloring page. Click on it. Print it out, any size you want.

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Here is what I did with mine. I printed on regular white copy paper and colored it with colored pencils. Add any patterns to the flowers and leaves that you want. Color it any way you wish. Click on my pic to make it large enough to see the details….just for ideas.

Then I tore the edges on a piece of watercolor paper, and did this watercolor background technique with watercolor pencils. I attached  the white paper (using double sided tape) to the background, and….

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…hung it on my bathroom wall. I will see it many times a day and it will remind me to be pliable in the Lord.

I would love to know how you delight yourself in the Lord, or how you are planning to delight yourself in the Lord. Please share your great ideas in the comments. And thank you!

…”burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:7 (NLT)

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Being Pruned

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This geranium is on my daily walking path. In the early summer, it was blooming like crazy, lush and in gorgeous color. It is sitting by the fence and it has not been taken care of. At all. It never gets watered unless it rains, and it has never been pruned. Gardeners know that pruning off the dead blossoms allows the plant to make new blossoms. When I walk by each day, it makes me sad. And I wonder if the owner would care if I deadheaded the blossoms when I walk by.

Even though it is sad that it can’t bloom well, it reminds me every day that My Father, the Vinedresser, prunes things from my life in order for new and beautiful things to blossom. I cannot be sad about that. Why would I want to hang on to things that are done?

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As a reminder of why it is good to have things in our lives pruned, I offer you a drawing of a geranium in bloom. I have been reading lately about how adult coloring books are the thing. Publishers cannot keep them in stock. Doesn’t it sound relaxing to sit and color while watching TV, or while waiting for your Dr. appointment? They say that coloring can take care of your stress and anxiety. Check them out on Amazon. They have a pretty decent collection.

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Print out the geraniums. Grab your crayons or colored pencils, or print it on watercolor paper, and use your watercolor pencils to color it in. No stress, just chillin’. I painted mine with watercolor cakes. It was fun.

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Burst out in songs of thanksgiving, Psalm 28:7 (NLT)

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