{ The Romans Farewell }

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This is all for Him, who can strengthen you, because of Jesus

Because of the gospel

That mystery that was hidden for thousands of years

That secluded secret that has now been whispered

And joyfully shouted

To you — to us —  to the world

 

This is all for Him, whose words can inspire faith and enable obedience

This is for Him, the only God

The wise God

Who deserves glory forever.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

Amen.

From Romans 16:25-27

~~The Apostle Paul wrote 13 letters to the churches. The closing of each of these letters often read like a blessing or a doxology — a short passage of praise to God. I was reading over one of these the other day, noticing how Paul’s personality, passion for God and love for beloved, struggling pilgrims showed up in the letter closings. It made me want to try to understand each one. In future posts, I’m going to try to put each one of these in my own inarticulate words.

~~Photo:Aaron Burden

{ She Seeks Wool }

Upcycling Wool Sweaters

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Ten years ago, I found a book that inspired me to make things out of old wool sweaters.

(Warm Fuzzies by Betz White)

It’s rewarding to sew something pretty and practical out of a castoff “holey” cashmere sweater, or Uncle Ralph’s vintage plaid wool cardigan.

 

After accumulating stacks of sweaters and a few handmade patterns, I started an Etsy* shop: (Wool Soup)

Things got a little better after the first disastrous order.

I had sewn the mitten thumbs on backwards.

The customer had said, “These just don’t seem to fit right.”

Here are some of the creations I have made and sold over the years:

My Etsy shop Tagline:

I enjoy taking something discarded and unloved, and making it into something useful & beautiful.

My desire to do this with scraps of wool is just an imperfect shadow of what God can do every day with people like me…and you.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”– 2 Corinthians 5:17

Shop Sale

  • I am running a coupon now — good on all products in my shop.
  • The HEART15 coupon code will give 15% off the cart at checkout until Valentine’s Day ~ 2/14/20.
  • I don’t have a lot left in stock, but I’m adding new items regularly. And, I promise you won’t end up with any backwards-thumb-mittens.

More Etsy Shops

This week I have visited a few delightful Etsy shops hosted by other WordPress bloggers, such as:

 

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*Etsy is an online marketplace that sells unique handmade goods and craft supplies.

 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

{ This Valley }

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This valley does not go on forever.

Just keep walking.

One step at a time. 

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While you are walking

While you are praying

While you are looking up

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The ground will rise to meet you,

The wind will suddenly be at your back

And sunlight will fall tenderly upon you.

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You will know that God

Has been

Holding you gently

  In His loving grip.

~~~

“May the road rise to meet you, and the wind always be at your back. May the rains fall softly on your fields. May God hold you gently in the palm of his hand. — Traditional Irish Blessing

~~~

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. — Numbers 6:24-26

~~~

Photos:

K

Jeremy Bishop

Wolfgang Lutz

 Marc-Olivier Jodoin

This is one of my all-time favorite devotional books: Streams in the Desert.

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As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

{ Better Than }

God’s steadfast love is better than life. ~ Psalm 63:3

A good name is better than great riches. ~ Proverbs 22:1

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9

The end of a thing is better than its beginning. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:8

The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. ~  Ecclesiastes 7:8

To obey is better than sacrifice. ~ I Samuel 15:22

But God treats us much better than we deserve… ~ Romans 3:24

Consider others better than yourself. ~ Philippians 2:3

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Photos:

 Annie Spratt

 Michal Janek

 Tim Marshall

{War Declared on Sin Today }

War declared on

SIN

today.

Zero tolerance.

No exceptions.

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No questions asked.

No holds barred.

No ifs, ands or buts.

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The enemy–

Including but not limited to–

Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth,

Will be apprehended and arrested

Without a phone call,

A trial,

Or a last meal.

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Offenders will first be

Drowned in light,

Then beheaded with a double-edged sword

Followed by hanging from the highest gallows.

–The Management

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For when you live controlled by the flesh, you are about to die. But if the life of the Spirit puts to death the corrupt ways of the flesh, we then taste his abundant life. — Romans 8:13 TPT

~~~

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I am reading this book,thanks to Brenda, who recommended it. 

Photos:

Museums Victoria

Henry Hustava

Aaron Burden

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

{ My Psalm 139 }

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Dear God,

You have searched my heart

  • Inside and out
  • Up and down
  • All the way through

(and that would scare me a little, if the searcher was anyone but You)

Because there are some:

  • Cluttered corners
  • Dusty nooks
  • Untidy spots

In this heart of mine.

But because YOU are the One pointing the spotlight,

I know that you see it all and love me still.

Your searching light doesn’t drive me away…instead it draws me.

So go ahead and search –

(I can’t escape that loving lens anyway.)

If I try to hide under a pile of feeble plans and works

You smile and shine bright on me.

If I disguise myself in one of my favorite masks,

You lift it off and embrace me.

Using toys, tricks, and hopeless distractions

I cover myself.

But you know I’m there.

You saw all my thoughts and future words

even before I was born.

You scrutinized it all when you were:

  • Secretly crafting me
  • Masterfully molding me
  • Uniquely carving out my days and ways

And you keep on weaving, sculpting and sovereignly decorating me from the inside out.

Your work makes me

  • Stand up and celebrate
  • Kneel down and weep
  • Glad to praise you forever

And while You keep shining Your light,

We will keep clearing out the clutter.

I will grip Your hand and

Follow Your path into eternity.

~~~

Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

{ Word of the Year: Stretch }

 

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This is how I chose the word STRETCH for my 2020 Word of the Year: 

I’d like to withstand and even embrace the changes that come my way.  I’d like to learn to stay joyful in the middle of a changing family, life and world. 

 

So I Googled:  “What’s a word that means can withstand changes?

That led me to the online publication: An Introduction to the Study of Physics, Volume 1 By A. F. Walden, J. J. Manley. (Recommended reading for those who struggle with insomnia.)

The word I found there was elasticity.

I looked up synonyms for elasticity and found: words like stretchy, flexible and pliable.

The word stretch can also mean: reach, develop, extend. 

Philippians 4:12-14

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To find your Word of the Year, try following these simple steps, courtesy of The Dolly Mama.

Photo by Unsplash:Michael Walter

 

{ True Theater: The First Christmas }

 

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Curtain opens / Scene appears peaceful

Middle-Eastern baby in dimmed spotlight

(a real baby, wrapped in livestock rags) 

Nestled in rough wooden feeding trough

Country setting. Clear night with stars. 

Mother exhausted. Sleeping.

Father watching. Thinking.

After miles of sweating and praying

After the end of the journey

After the labor

Just sitting

Just gazing

Now cue the angels.

The shepherds.

The wonder.

The starlight.

Behind the stage and unseen by the audience:

A fierce and ugly dragon – yes, an actual beast – has been trying to walk out on center stage.

He’s been trying to ruin the show.

He grabbed the script and stuffed it into his flaming mouth.

(It didn’t matter, because everyone already knew their lines.)

He tried to tear down the curtain with his talons (that’s supposed to happen anyway — scene three)

His demonic buddies brought an assassin to kill the baby. They stormed and burst down the side stage door. (He wasn’t a good shot after all, and the baby was whisked away.)

The director just sat there. Directing. 

He knew this was going to happen.

It was all actually in the script. 

***Spoiler alert: It has an ending that’s out-of-this-world***

Curtain.

~~~~~

Inspiration from Revelation 12 and Luke 2.

Manger photo:Greyson Joralemon

{ Clean }

 

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I don’t dress like this when I clean the house.

 

I like a clean living space, but, cleaning is not a cherished hobby of mine. I generally value clutter-free over dust-free.

Years ago, my Spanish friend Ana invited me into her small apartment. I was amazed at how shiny-sparkly-clean it was and I commented on it.

“Yes, I like to do this!” Ana bubbled enthusiastically. I’ve never forgotten her radiant response; scrubbing the home spotless was a happy thing for her.

My Norwex-selling friend recently educated me on the stunning benefits of micro-fiber cleaning.

I’m totally not going to have a Norwex party, but I appreciated her zeal and knowledge; I really learned something.

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For a recent birthday, my daughter gave me a cleaning tote, stuffed with Mrs. Meyer’s sprays and other goodies. Was this gift a not-so-subtle hint, because she knows my housecleaning flaws? Hmmm….

Anyway, cleaning is more fun, now that I have Mrs. Meyer’s help.

I will now awkwardly transition to some brief thoughts about spiritual cleaning.

I was reading my Bible the other day and I cannot remember exactly what I was reading. I didn’t feel spiritually dirty and didn’t set out be to be purposefully “washed” that day, but suddenly I truly felt God’s words cascading over me, cleansing me.

As I have chewed on this the last few days, I have felt that reading God’s word is a powerful spiritual cleaning agent because:

  • It reminds me whose I am
  • It purifies my life perspective
  • It shines a loving light onto my heart
  • It pours hope down on me
  • It showers comfort over my soul
  • It cleanses festering wounds
  • It removes destructive thoughts and damaging lies.

~~~~~~~

“…wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

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“The Gospel is a cleansing agent, for it is the good news of Christ’s atoning death at Calvary. The Word is a cleansing agent also for sanctification. That’s why it’s important for us to read and study the Scriptures; they are a cleansing agent in our lives. It’s amazing what the Word of God will do with people when they read and study it. — John MacArthur

 

Bible photo:  Aaron Burden

{ God’s Math: 1 + 1 ≠ 2 }

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  —Isaiah 55:8-9 

I am not a math whiz.  Of all my extended family members, I am probably the least gifted with numbers.

My brain lives in the realm of pictures and approximations. Math is too exact; too detailed.

Yet, other family members seem to be fearless of numbers. My math-major sister-in-law said once in a casual setting, “I love abstract math.”  

What is that? Math with no visible symbols? Who would want to make math harder than it already is?

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So, the other day, I was visiting a church, watching a group of missionaries assemble at the front.

This caused me to think of my daughter, who is working at a refugee camp far away, going beyond her comfort zone, doing brave things in a company of global strangers.

Which caused me to consider all my children and who they are becoming.

I wondered: 

Lord, how did this happen? How can it be that you take children from a humble home, raised by imperfect parents, and grow them into amazing, beautiful souls?”

It doesn’t add up.

So, I was thinking about God’s kind of math, right there in the church service. 

God’s equations go beyond 1+1=2. God’s math goes beyond what seems logical or rational.  God’s math even seems to work backwards sometimes.

God’s kind of math says:

  • 2 small coins can sometimes mean more than a large sum of money.  (Mark 12:42)
  • Weak can be more powerful than strong. (Isaiah 40:29)
  • A few resources in God’s hands can multiply at a miraculous rate. (John 6:13)
  • Those who are last shall be first.  (Matt 20:16)
  • When you give to God, you get back way more than you gave. (Luke 6:38)

Things put into God’s hands seem to explode exponentially.

Finally, the omnipotent God is not only a master multiplier, he is a caring Creator. Which earthly number cruncher would not only count stars in the sky, but also lovingly name them?

He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4

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Photos:

John Moeses Bauan

Alexander Andrews