Category: Inspiration

Pandemic creations

Keeping a good frame of mind

How are you staying sane during the pandemic? Faithful Inspiring Handmade reader, Emmaline, sent me a packet of wonderful drawings last week. She tells me she’s been making more of these lately and says they help keep her walking in the light!
To create something beautiful or encouraging, as I’ve said before, is to reflect the image of our Creator. It’s part of why we’re here in the first place, so it’s no wonder that so many find great satisfaction and fulfillment in making things.
And especially now, creating things that lift our spirits and those of others is vitally important. Emmaline graciously allowed me to share these with the Inspiring Handmade family. Enjoy and if anyone else has a “pandemic creation” they’d like to share, please drop me a line at stephen@inspiringhandmade.com. Let’s encourage one another all we can.

At the top, Wake Me When It’s Over. Above, Zinnias to Come, by Emmaline, colored pencil on paper, Spring, 2020

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.

Give peace a chance

Protesting the war—on ourselves

If you’ve been reading us for a while, (or if you’ve read our welcome post) you know the vision behind Inspiring Handmade is found in Philippians 4:8, where the apostle Paul writes, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Inspiring Handmade celebrates original art and craft, writing, and other creations and offers you a break from the things in the world that drag you down—a chance to dwell on the true, pure, and praiseworthy things. Through the art and craft works as well as the blog posts, Inspiring Handmade invites you into your own Philippians 4:8 moment. We want to create work on which you can feast your eyes and feed your soul.

Genuine peace is possible if we engage our minds

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what we dwell on. We are surrounded by negativity, temptations, and all sorts of other influences that, if allowed to occupy our minds, will do us serious harm.

Martin Luther once said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” It’s a picturesque acknowledgment that, even though we may be bombarded by harmful thoughts and temptations, it’s the dwelling on them that’s the problem. We can’t help what thoughts may creep into our minds, but we can decide what to do next. Do we allow them to remain—to build a nest— as Luther would say? Or do we immediately give them the boot? In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul tells us that it is possible to overcome temptations and harmful thoughts. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” he wrote to the church in Corinth. And one of the best ways to do this is to choose to dwell on what’s good and pure.

Truth meets art

We all know it’s true. Giving in to temptation, feeding negative thoughts about ourselves and others, thinking on things that are impure, and untrue always results in turmoil, guilt, shame, anger, depression, and more. There’s no peace when we head down that path and when we do, we find ourselves in a vicious, self-defeating cycle from which it’s difficult to break free.

But there’s a positive, life-giving cycle we can experience when we dwell on the good things. To illustrate this truth, I’ve created the sculpture, Dwell. One one side is a reminder of what Philippians 4:8 encourages us to dwell on. Spin the sculpture around, and you see the result of dwelling on those things: peace (see Philippians 4:9)! Dwell shows the connection between what we dwell on and the peace of mind and life we enjoy. Dwelling on the good brings peace, which comes from dwelling on the good. And repeat. Original art picturing life the way The Creator designed it to be.

Crying rocks

Our raison d’être

Artists, crafters, writers, and appreciators of the arts know that nothing is created without some purpose. The purpose may seem insignificant, but it’s there, as a thing’s reason for existence.

Our Presbyterian friends, among others, are familiar with the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a series of questions and answers that teach truths from the Scripture. The very first question is, “What is the chief end of man?” In other words, what’s our grand purpose—why are we here? The answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

That’s as good an answer to the question as I’ve heard. And it’s a good way to gauge how we’re doing with fulfilling that purpose. Because we’re created by God, made in His image, brought to life with His very breath, loved deeply by Him and blessed by Him in countless ways, we’re supposed to glorify God in everything we do. Even in the most mundane aspects of life, we’re called to glorify Him. 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Not everyone’s into glorifying the Creator of everything

The earth and all creation are faithful to testify to the glory of God. Psalm 19:1-2: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” But, sadly, in all of creation there are two kinds of creatures that refuse to give glory to God. The first is Satan and the other fallen angels, whom he led in rebellion against God. The second is mankind—you and me. We’re not exactly keeping great company there, are we?

But that brings me to the title of this post. In Luke 19, we find Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The following Friday will see Him crucified and buried. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, riding a donkey colt, the crowds are ecstatic.

Luke 19:37 picks up the account: “As He was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of The Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.'”

One woman’s creative way to glorify God

A good friend of mine lost her mother nearly two years ago. Her mother, Betty Wood, collected souvenir rocks from wherever she and her husband traveled.

Besides being a rock collector, Mrs. Wood believed passionately in her reason for being, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. So she put her collection to use in encouraging others to glorify God. She wrote “Luke 19:40” on one side of her rocks and on the other side, she imagined a quote from the rock—”If you won’t praise Him I will!”—inspired by that verse. Mrs. Wood gave the rocks to many people over the years, including the ladies in her Sunday School class at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia.

Betty Wood’s inspiration lives on

It’s impossible to say how many folks have one of those special rocks on a shelf somewhere or how many have been inspired to find new, creative ways to glorify God after seeing those stones. Betty Wood inspires me to ask myself, “How am I doing with my grand purpose? Am I using my gifts, and whatever God has given me, to glorify Him? Or am I too often content to let a rock do my job for me?”

THE ORIGINALS
Betty Wood’s rocks carry her legacy of glorifying God to new generations. Photos courtesy of her daughter, Joy DeNoon

A rocky chorus

A crowd of rocks cries out to glorify God. Most of them have found homes with my friends at Mattaponi Baptist Church, where I was privileged to speak on a recent Sunday.

Check out the Inspiring Handmade shop for original art & craft that helps you praise God and enjoy your own Philippians 4:8 moments

A cold winter’s sky

One of my favorite things about winter is the clear night sky. While it’s more comfortable temperature-wise to skywatch in the summer, the winter sky seems clearer and sharper. Colder air is often less hazy, so it feels like I can see farther into the depths of space. And there are no bugs.

The next time you’re outside on a crisp winter’s evening, turn your gaze skyward fo a minute or two and consider that, while some of those tiny points of light are single stars, like our sun, some are many times larger than our sun and some are not even stars at all, but are entire galaxies, appearing to our eyes as a single speck of light.

From my own back yard…

Just tonight, as I looked out toward the south, I saw Orion. The distinctive 3-star belt makes the hunter one of the easiest constellations to spot.

The main figure of Orion is a large rectangle comprising four bright stars, including two of the brightest stars in the sky: Betelgeuse marks the hunter’s upper left shoulder, while Rigel anchors the lower right, representing his right knee.

A set of 1825 astronomy cards published in London c. 1825 featured a hand-colored etching of Orion the hunter.

Betelgeuse (pronounced, “Beetle-juice”) is a red supergiant. The star is more than 850 million miles across—that’s about 1,000 times wider than our sun. If you were to replace our sun with Betelgeuse, the red star’s surface would engulf the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and extend out even past the orbit of Mars.

Scientists speculate that earlier in its life, this stellar supergiant devoured a neighboring star about the size of our sun. Now, astronomers believe Betelgeuse will soon die in a supernova explosion.

Cosmic drama

That’s a lot of drama going on just in the left shoulder of Orion. Imagine what’s happening at this moment in every other corner of the universe.

I guess that’s why I really love the winter sky—it reminds me of the magnificently powerful God who created it. I’ve been drawn before to Psalm 19 in my work. This week, I returned to it to create the piece you see at the top of this post.

It opens with these two expansive verses:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”

It’s good to remember to look up every now and then. It helps put our trials, triumphs, and ourselves in perspective. If all of that cosmic drama is unfolding at one little red spot in the sky, surely we, along with the cosmos, were created by a being of unimaginable power.

The writer of Psalm 19 thought so. And he knew he was accountable to his Creator, so he closed that Psalm with this request and praise, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

A good prayer anytime, and certainly on a cold, clear winter’s night.

Photo by Rogelio Bernal Andreo, October 2010. The Orion constellation and surrounding nebulas of the Orion Molecular Cloud complex. Also shown is the red supergiant Betelgeuse (top left) and the famous belt of Orion composed of the OB stars Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. To the bottom right can be found the star Rigel. The red crescent shape is Barnard’s Loop.

A Psalm 19 Night is now available in the shop.

A new song

New Song sculpture by Stephen Rountree

A new year. A new decade.

100 years ago, our nation was entering what became known as the “Roaring Twenties.” It was a time of economic and cultural growth and prosperity.

As we ease into the 2020s, I’m wondering if these will be the “Roaring Twenties” for me creatively and spiritually. Will I see new growth in those areas of my life this year? I’d like to. Maybe you would, too.

A vision for 2020

Lately, I’ve been meditating on Psalm 96. It’s short—just 13 verses—but it’s packed with big ideas that make it worth dwelling on in these early days of the new year. I’m using it as a guide for my goals—my vision—for the year, maybe the rest of my life. Depending on how you might count them, there are around seven calls to specific actions in this Psalm.

• Sing a new song to the Lord
• Bless His name
• Tell others about His salvation
• Give God the credit He is due and tell others about His glory and marvelous works
• Praise the Lord and rejoice because of the Lord
• Fear the Lord (as in holding Him in proper reverence and awe)
• Worship the Lord with all your heart in reverence

You can read Psalm 96 for yourself here.

Inspired to create

This Psalm has inspired the first sculpture of 2020, which I’m calling New Song.

This piece is created from salvaged oak barn wood from a circa 1905 barn in Southwest Virginia. You can see the barn and read more about that here.

I’ve taken one of the old oak planks, cleaned it up, and cut off the parts I didn’t need. I sanded it, painted a landscape on it and hand-transferred the first verse of the Psalm onto it. It reads, “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!”

In essence, I’ve given this old piece of oak a new song. It was part of a barn for many years—more years than I’ve been alive. Then it was part of a pile of scrap wood, destined for a landfill or a fire.

But now it will have a new life as a piece of art that carries the words of God on it. Its new life will be totally different than its old one. The old oak wood will be in someone’s warm home instead of exposed to the harsh mountain weather. It will be appreciated on a deeper level than it was before. And it will be able to inspire thoughts about God and life in ways that it never could before.

That’s a lot like what God does with people. He finds us, remakes us, and gives us a new purpose—His purpose. Our new lives, which are possible because of Jesus Christ’s work in us, are infinitely more satisfying than what we could have imagined before. As Jesus Himself says in John 10:10, “… I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Making it real

If I put into practice the calls of Psalm 96 this year, I believe this will be the start of the Roaring Twenties for both my creative and my spiritual life. So my goal is to offer God my creative projects (like this blog) in new ways this year—offering them for His purposes to share His works and His message. Exactly what that looks like, I can’t say at this point, but I want this year to be productive and full of praise for the ultimate Creator.

How about you? Would you like to start your own Roaring Twenties this year?

Why not join me in meditating on Psalm 96 this week and think about how you might put some of those calls into action. I’d love to hear your ideas! You can always reach me by email here. I’ll return to this topic in future posts to consider what some of the calls from Psalm 96 look like in practice. For instance, singing to the Lord sounds easy enough, but what does the “new song” refer to? How, exactly, do I give God the credit He’s due, or tell others about His marvelous works?

Stay tuned!

New Song is now in the Inspiring Handmade shop, ready to inspire in a new home.

New Song sculpture detail
Detail of New Song, by Stephen Rountree

Share your thoughts on Psalm 96. What would your year look like if you put some—or all—of those calls into action?

Walking on water in 2020?

Wood and wire sculpture

What do you want to do or become in 2020? For those who like to set goals, the new year inevitably brings with it the talk of resolutions. Some folks aim to lose weight, eat better, or get in shape. Others will strive to read more, or start—or finish—that book they want to write.

You’re reading Inspiring Handmade (thank you!), so perhaps you have a creative project in mind. Will 2020 be the year you try a new type of art? Or take what you’ve learned in the past to the next level? What could that look like? What will you create this year? What stories will you tell?

Chances are, if you play it safe, doing the very same things in the very same ways, you won’t meet your goals, create the art or stories you envision, or become what you want to be.

How can you stretch yourself this year? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself. I want this next year to be a productive one, especially in the area of creativity. I want to create new art, in new ways. I have new stories I want to tell through a variety of media. Maybe you can relate. This blog is all about being inspired through and for creativity—inspired to dwell on things that are good, excellent, and praiseworthy (see Philippians 4:8), inspired to create works that communicate those attributes, and inspired to surround ourselves and feed our minds and spirits with work that helps us focus on those things.

What we’re all pursuing is fulfillment, isn’t it? That’s what all the resolutions, goals, plans, and creative works are about if we boil it down.

The secret to fulfillment

And here’s the secret that’s become more clear to me over the years: We’re the most fulfilled when we’re fulfilling our created purpose. I believe that purpose is to glorify God and enjoy a relationship with Him forever.

With that big idea in place, a lot of other things start to make sense. We’re all created in the image of God, the master Creator. Is it any wonder that we also find joy in creating? My art is simply an extension of—and an avenue to fulfill—my purpose. Yours can be, too.

For me, then, it’s vital that I remain connected to my Creator. I can see a direct correlation between the time I spend in prayer and reading God’s Word and the volume and quality of my creative ideas and output. Quite simply, when I’m reading and meditating on the types of things described in Philippians 4:8, the ideas sometimes come in such a flood that I can’t capture them all.

But being in the presence of my Creator is risky. He loves me, but He’s also intent on changing me. I’ve shared about that in more detail in a previous post. It’s challenging and often uncomfortable. Part of me doesn’t like change. But that’s where the creativity comes from. The more closely I relate to my Creator, the more like Him I become and that certainly includes increased capacity for creativity.

A strange incident on a rough sea

The pastor and author, John Ortberg, entitled one of his books, “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.” The title is a reference to a passage found in the gospel of Matthew. Chapter 14:22-33 is a fascinating account of a strange event that occurs right after Jesus fed thousands of people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. After the crowd had eaten their fill, Jesus’ disciples collected 12 basketfuls of leftovers. Matthew continues his account this way, describing Jesus sending His disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee:

“Immediately He [Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.'”

Dwelling on this passage inspired the last piece of art I’ve created in 2019, a work that casts an eye toward the new year. Pictured above, it’s called Water Walker, a sculpture in salvaged oak barn wood, hand-painted in acrylics, with wire, white pickling stain, and distressed, hand-transferred lettering.

Making it personal

There have been many lessons drawn from the account of Jesus helping Peter walk on the water. Personally, it challenges me to realize that if I really want to grow in any area of my life, I have to step out of my safe, comfortable place and old habits, and, most importantly, stay connected with and focused on my Creator.

When I do that, I find the creativity, the passion, the energy, and the fulfillment I’m looking for. I find myself walking on the water. How about you? Do you hear the invitation to step out of your boat in faith, trust, and expectation? What do you want to do in 2020 that might require stepping out of your boat?

Be inspired throughout 2020 and beyond

If you’d like more inspiration or would like to inspire someone special, Water Walker is waiting for you in the Inspiring Handmade shop. Give yourself—or someone else—the gift of original art to inspire new things in the new year.

Hand-painted wood and wire sculpture

Art that connects with The Creator

Kristi Nash Harrison says she’s an attention deficit artist. “I jump from one thing to the next,” she told me when I caught up with her this week as she was preparing for what’s become known as “the most anticipated little craft show in Mechanicsville.” That would be The Three Whine Oh’s and Friends Holiday Open House at my Inspiring Handmade partner in art, Patti Jones’ home and studio: 8352 Devil’s Den Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111, in Battlefield Green. This year (the show’s 17th) the fun begins Friday, Nov. 22, at 3 p.m.-8 p.m., and continues Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

For years, Kristi and Patti have joined their friends and fellow makers to create and show original art and crafts. And while her interests may be many, Kristi, a long-time local artist, and art teacher, says clay and paint are her mainstays. “Over the years, my art has evolved,” she said and explained that it always reflects various facets of her life. The crabs and water themes, for instance, are inspired by her mother’s love of life on the water.

glazed pottery cup with a crab
A sculpted crab crawls among sand and grass on a glazed cup. All glazes are lead-free and safe for everyday use with food and drinks.
Wonderfully illustrated crabs congregate on glazed plates. Pile them high with Christmas cookies and even when the baked goods are gone, these plates look amazing.
Whimsical dragonflies dance along the top of a glazed tumbler. Who wouldn’t be inspired by taking a sip or using a pen kept in this work of art?
A dragonfly prepares to light on a flowered lilypad on this glazed bowl. Want to make someone feel special? Serve them their favorite ice cream in what will surely become known as “the dragonfly bowl!”

This year Kristi’s also showing one-of-a-kind glazed bowls illustrated with majestic night skies.
“When I take my dogs out, Kristi explains, I love to look at the heavens and the stars. The heavens declare the glory of God,” she says, quoting Psalm 19. As an artist, she’s drawn to the sky and thinks of the northern lights and the array of colors you see in a sunset.
“I’ve also been inspired by the works of artists Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse,” she says.

Glazed bowls illustrated with a gorgeous night sky.
A crescent moon rises through a wondrous night sky draped in the Aurora Borealis on this glazed bowl.

As important as the art is to this creator who holds a master’s in art from Virginia Commonwealth University, Kristi’s work is about more than the image.
“I love sharing Scripture that’s a part of my life to help bring peace and inspiration to others,” she said. That’s one reason why her work has been so popular all these years. She said one woman who purchased a piece of her pottery told her she keeps her keys in it so that she’s inspired by it every time she leaves the house. “People have told me that they keep my work where they can see it every day and be reminded of God and their blessings. It helps them stay positive.”

You can see (and purchase) Kristi’s gorgeous pottery (all safe to use with food) and other work at this year’s The Three Whine Oh’s and Friends Holiday Open House starting this Friday, Nov. 22, 3 p.m.-8 p.m., and finishing Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 8352 Devil’s Den Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111, in Battlefield Green. Long-time fans of the show will tell you to get there as soon as possible Friday to get your choice of the art, crafts, and delicious baked goods.


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True colors

I love autumn. It’s my favorite season. Most of our family birthdays, along with our wedding anniversary, are in the fall. But in addition to all that, one of the things I love the most is the changing of the leaves. And I’m not alone.

Every fall thousands of people trek up to the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains of Virginia, enjoying Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, and other areas. When we go, we’re hoping for that perfect day, when the air is crisp, the clouds are few, and the sunlight is plentiful, so we can take in one of the most spectacular scenes in nature—gorgeous fall foliage.

Various species of trees change color at different times as we march toward winter. We might begin to see the first spots of red in the forest in September as the black gums announce that change is on its way. They’re quickly followed by the black walnut’s leaves turning yellow and the dogwood’s turning red. Soon the hickory begins to change to a deep yellow. By mid-late October, depending on the year, there’s a wash of color from the hills to the flat land, which we usually call the “peak season.” That’s when we see the brilliant oranges and reds of the sugar maples, reds, and yellows of the red maple, and all the colors of the oaks and other species. Finally, toward the end of the season, the last show of color is provided by the yellow poplar. Beyond mid-November, the forest is generally shades of browns and bronzes with a few remaining color splashes here and there.

… we pat ourselves on the back because we put men on the moon, but we can’t figure out precisely how God gets a green leaf to turn brilliant crimson in the third week of October.

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry and National Park service, color change in leaves is not fully understood and remains a mystery. Imagine that—we pat ourselves on the back because we put men on the moon, but we can’t figure out precisely how God gets a green leaf to turn brilliant crimson in the third week of October. The master Creator can humble us in many ways.

But we do know a few things about leaf color: Forestry professionals (of which my father was one during his career) tell us it involves sunlight, moisture, temperature, length of the day, chemicals, and hormones—not unlike teenagers.

A green leaf is green because of the presence of a group of pigments known as chlorophyll. Reaching back to high school biology, you may remember that chlorophyll absorbs light to provide energy for photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is active during the summer growing season, capturing the sun’s energy and using water and carbon dioxide to make simple sugars. These simple sugars are a tree’s food. All during the summer, the chlorophyll is constantly being produced and broken down, creating food for the tree, and as a side-effect, keeping the leaves green.

But it turns out that all that green actually is masking the leaves’ true colors. As autumn approaches, weather changes somehow signal a slowdown in the production of chlorophyll. The green begins to fade and the masking effect disappears. Other colors that have been in the leaf all along begin to show through. Some pigments give us the yellows, browns, and oranges. Others give us reds and purples. Supposedly, the brighter the light (the fewer cloudy days) during this late summer period, the greater the production of these pigments and the more brilliant colors we see come Fall. Somehow that has to be balanced with enough rain to keep the trees healthy.

So we might sum up what we know about leaf color like this: During the growing season, chlorophyll production keeps the leaves looking green. As nights get longer in the autumn, chlorophyll decreases and eventually dies off completely. Only then are the pigments in the leaf unmasked to show their colors.

And so, what we realize is that all of us who travel every fall to the mountains are really going to see just one thing—a bunch of dying leaves.

We don’t go to the mountains in the summer just see the leaves when they’re full of their own life when they are supplying their own needs with their own chlorophyll. No, we go when they’ve run out of their own resources when they can no longer feed themselves when they have come to the end of their own leafy strength. No longer are they green and proud, supplying the food for their mighty oak, or majestic maple. Now they are dying. And it’s only now that they’re at their absolute most beautiful. Only now are they seen painted in the true colors their Creator designed them to show.

It’s only when the leaves are dying that they’re at their absolute most beautiful, painted in the true colors their Creator designed them to show.

And all that makes me think of God’s Word in Romans chapter 6. Here, Paul writes in verses 6-8: “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.”

So each fall, I think of the many people drawn to see dying leaves. Leaves, which after a season of self-sufficiency, are finally showing their true, beautiful colors. And I’m reminded that God has designed me to die to my natural self-centered ways and to show my true colors as well—colors that are true of anyone who has new life in Christ. We see what a God-colored life looks like in Galatians 5:22. What shows through is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

But I can’t show those colors when I’m living for my own selfish desires, in my own strength. Those God-colors are only evident when I’m dying to those things and living for Christ.
A pretty inspiring lesson from a bunch of dying leaves, I think. Are your true colors showing? Are mine?

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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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