Category: Community

Not growing weary

Waiting to Reap (pictured above), by Stephen Rountree, is an original painting in acrylic on salvaged, early 1900s barn wood, lightly coated in white pickling stain. The encouraging words of Galatians 6:9 are hand-transferred onto the wood in distressed lettering. Waiting to Reap is available in the shop today.

Are you tired yet? You might have immediately thought I was referring to the pandemic and the social distancing, and all that has changed in such a short time. I know we’re tired of those things. But that’s not what’s on my mind today.

I’m talking about getting tired of doing good. As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, many people have shown the best of humanity in trying times (one thing I’m really tired of is the use of the word “unprecedented,” so I’ve banned it from this blog). But we are finite creatures with limited bandwidth, energy, and stamina. At some point, we reach the end of our resources and ability to meet the needs of our families, friends, and neighbors. We just get tired.

Maybe you’re at that place today. Maybe you’ve been at that place for a while. Maybe you’re still going like gangbusters. Whatever your status, the New Testament book of Galatians has some words of wisdom and encouragement for us all regarding doing good.

Encouragement from God

In Galatians chapter 6, the apostle Paul gives the church instructions on how they are to treat one another. He talks about the need to “bear one another’s burdens” and says that by doing that, we will fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ?

In Matthew 22, Jesus answers a similar question from a religious leader of the day: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40, ESV)

Later, in the book of John, Jesus tells His disciple that His commandment is to love one another. In fact, He says that their love for one another would be one of the ways people would identify them as His followers.

If you had to put it on a bumper sticker, you might boil it down to say, “Love God, love people.”

Doing good the right way

Fast forward to Galatians where Paul encourages followers of Christ to keep the main thing the main thing—to love God and love the people around them. Consider these words from chapter 6:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:7-10, ESV)

Here Paul is like the person along the marathon route who hands out water to the exhausted runners. He’s telling us, “Keep it up! Stay on the right course. Invest in your spiritual life with God and love Him and the people around you. Pour yourselves into this race! It’s worth it; there’s a payoff at the end if you just don’t give up!”

Don’t give up

When we’re tired of doing good, let’s allow God’s words from Galatians to spur us on another mile. We don’t want to waste time and energy on things that won’t matter tomorrow, let alone for eternity. And we don’t want to do the work in our power. God never intended for us to accomplish His work in our strength. He wants to work through us by His Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength to do whatever He calls us to do. Let’s sow good things by spending our time with God in prayer and reading His word and doing good to all people. Even when we feel like neither one is getting us anywhere, God says they are.

If we take the time to invest ourselves in the spiritual and physical parts of our lives by “doing good” in both, we will reap a harvest.

Be encouraged and inspired, and until then, keep sowing!

Standing closer apart

Salvaged wood, wire and hand-stamped sculpture with Philippians 1:3

Crazy quotes for crazy times

Other than Yogi Berra (“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” and “It ain’t over till it’s over”, among others), few people are as famous for uttering as many malapropisms as Hollywood movie producer, Samuel Goldwyn, who was the “G” in MGM. There’s debate over some of the quotes attributed to him, but he’s reported to have said, “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” and “I had a monumental idea this morning, but I didn’t like it.”

But the Goldwyn quote that I’m reminded of these days is his direction to two actors on the set of one of his films: “Tell them to stand closer apart.” Say what?

It’s a sign of these crazy times that a nonsensical quote like that pretty much sums up our mission at the moment. We must stand apart, yet we must be closer than ever.

By now the term “social distancing” is commonplace. Someone has even reserved the dotcom site for socialdistancing, though there’s nothing on it as of this writing. But we’re all impacted and countless people are doing their best to flatten the infection rate curve and bring this pandemic to as rapid an end as possible. So we’re standing apart.

But we’re also trying to stand closer. In times of trouble, people tend to move closer, in spirit at least, to each other and to faith. In the midst of bad news and more bad news, people become desperate for hope. One small Bible sales business in California saw a sales jump of 143 percent compared to this time last year. People want to be close to things that bring hope.

A simple way to encourage

One way we can “stand closer apart” is to remember each other. Many folks are doing this and doing it well. Remember those in your sphere who need a call, a card, a prayer lifted on their behalf. We can do this for each other. We can make a real difference by picking up the phone or sending that email or text just to say, “Hey, I remember you, and I’m thankful to God for you. You’re a blessing to me. How are you?

We want to help give you something to share with others. So we’ve created a free downloadable version of the image in this post that you can attach to any email or text to share some art with them and let them know that you’re remembering them and you’re thankful for them. Just click the black button below to download it. Then right-click or option-click on the image and select “save image as” to save the image to your computer. Or just copy and paste into your email. It’s yours to share.

After you read this, don’t wait. Reach out to someone who needs to be reached and stand a little closer apart.

Stuck in the belly… or safe in the belly?

Further thoughts on Jonah and the finished sculpture

In last week’s post, I shared a new Jonah sculpture in progress on the workbench. This week, I’m happy to share the finished piece. It’s now waiting in the shop, ready for a good home.

As I was putting the finishing touches on this, a new perspective on the account of Jonah occurred to me. I titled last week’s post “Stuck in the belly.” Of course, that’s how we usually see Jonah—stuck in the belly of the whale. But there’s another way to see it. Without the whale, Jonah would likely have drowned. It’s probably what he anticipated when he had his shipmates toss him overboard in the storm. But God still had plans and a job for Jonah to do. So He kept him safe—not stuck—in the belly of the whale.

A fresh perspective

Why am I returning to the account of Jonah again for the second week in a row (other than to share the finished sculpture)? Because in following the Coronavirus news like everyone else, I came across a refreshing perspective. Someone wrote that instead of seeing this as being stuck at home, we should see it as being safe at home. That’s a big difference. How many times have we been out somewhere in some sort of distress and wishing we were home—safe at home?

Now, with the entire world in distress, many of us are, indeed, safe at home. We can be grateful for that and pray for those who are truly stuck somewhere they don’t want to be or those that can’t stay home—like our medical teams, grocery store workers, and delivery folks—because they’re out every day taking care of the rest of us.

This week, when I start to dwell on what I’m missing, where I can’t go, and who I can’t see, I’m going to try to remind myself that in spite of all of that, I’m blessed to be safe at home. And it’s a lot more comfortable—and better smelling—than a whale’s belly!


Here’s something else that’s good to do while keeping your physical distance: share the Inspiring Handmade blog with a friend or anyone who could use an encouraging message.

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“One of the most anticipated little craft shows in Mechanicsville…”


YOU’RE INVITED!
THE THREE WHINE OH’S & FRIENDS
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE


WHERE
The home & studio of Patti Jones
8352 Devil’s Den Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111 in Battlefield Green
WHEN
Friday, Nov. 22, 3 p.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
WHO
You & some friends, Christmas shoppers & arts & craft lovers
See you there!

It’s hard to believe that The Three Whine Oh’s and Friends holiday open house is getting ready for its 17th year! Little did we know all those years ago that we three friends would still be hosting one of the most anticipated little craft shows in Mechanicsville.

The show is always the weekend before Thanksgiving at my house (8352 Devil’s Den Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111) in Battlefield Green. This year’s dates are Friday, Nov. 22, 3 p.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The line starts forming across my front yard way before the Friday, 3 p.m. opening. My husband, Gene, always warns the rookies, “Those women are crazy … a man could get trampled in there!”

But the only crazy thing would be to miss it! So join us to kick off your Christmas shopping and check out the latest arts & crafts, enjoy a glass of wine or some hot apple cider, and catch up with friends. Everything is handmade. There’s hand-thrown pottery, hand-made baskets, Christmas decorations, jewelry, and other artwork. And the feast isn’t just for the eyes. Some folks come just for the delicious pound cakes, fudge, jams, and pickles. You just never know what treasures you’ll find!

Plan to join us this year, Friday, Nov. 22, 3 p.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. And don’t keep all the fun to yourself—bring a friend!

A sneak peek at this year’s show

Scenes from last year’s open house

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What are you fishing for?

"Fishing with My Dad" wire and paper sculpture

As the summer winds down, school has started, or will soon start for students and families everywhere. There’s a rhythm to a new school year, isn’t there? The relatively relaxed pace of summer seems to reluctantly give way to the regimen of academic and athletic schedules. New books to read, new project deadlines, practices and games, and of course, the ever-quickening march toward Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and Christmas all take the place of slow, long days of sleeping in and staying up late. All of which can cause us to rush to squeeze in that last experience of summer freedom around this time of year.

Patti’s sculpture, Fishing with my Dad, part of her Wire People series, reminds me of this. Fishing just goes with lazy summer days like peanut butter goes with jelly. I’ve fished a little and I know there are those who take the sport quite seriously, but to my mind, there’s not a more low-key, relaxed activity that lets you still claim to actually be accomplishing something, or at least trying to. That probably doesn’t apply when you’re reeling one in, as the characters in this sculpture are doing.

And this time of year, a time of transition, finds many of us anticipating something. In a way, we’re all fishing. We’re standing at the water’s edge. You know the water’s edge? Where the land ends and the water and all that’s unknown under its surface, begins. That’s where we are in this season. We’re standing at autumn’s edge, where the summer ends and the autumn begins—autumn, and all that’s unknown, and yet to come in the course of its days. And we’re fishing. We’re looking, hoping for something.

Maybe it’s that last celebration of summer. Maybe we feel that summer slipped by too fast and we want to get the family away just one more time. We want to catch one more big one for the scrapbook, or Facebook, or Instagram feed, if you prefer.

Perhaps we’re looking ahead, casting out in front of us. Students might be fishing for a better school year. Teachers may be dropping in their lines hoping to pull up an engaged, motivated class. Parents may be angling for some balance between academics, extracurricular activities, and family time. Newly minted sixteen-year-olds may be casting about for a job, or their first car. But we’re all standing here, at the edge, fishing, hoping for something. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

We’re all standing here, at the edge, fishing, hoping for something.

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, and for good reason. It’s full of encouragement for those fishing for hope. It’s been cross-stitched on pillows and engraved on plaques and signs. And without a single survey to back up this statement, I’d speculate that it’s nearly as well known to a Christian audience as John 3:16.

But the backdrop of the verse is one of pain and suffering. It’s actually part of a letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the Jews who had been taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar and who were now living as exiles in Babylon. God was using their defeat and captivity at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians to punish them for their rebellion and their many years of worshipping false gods. And yet, even in the midst of disciplining His own people, God gave them a promise and a reason for hope. They were told to live their lives in their new city, to grow their families, and to pray for and help their city to prosper. Then in verse 10, Jeremiah wrote these words of The Lord, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill My good promise to bring you back to this place.” His next sentence was the encouraging verse 11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares The Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Fishing for, and finding, hope in the midst of trials and despair was (and still is) possible because it’s The Lord Himself who promises good things for our future.

No matter what we’ve experienced in the past year, we stand at the edge of autumn and all the unknown that lies before us. And we’re fishing—and hoping, and trusting, or at least trying to.

A generation or two before Jeremiah, the prophet Isaiah looked around and saw that no one was as powerful and as caring as The Lord. So he wrote these words, which will be my mantra as I stand at this autumn’s edge. Maybe they’ll inspire you, too. “But those who trust in The Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).

Tight lines and a great catch to you!