The rock you see above is a geode. Geodes are hollow formations, often roughly spherical, that become filled with mineral deposits through water flow and other natural processes. This geode was given to me by a good friend of mine from California. He and his family used to camp out west where they collected these rocks, which don’t look like much on the outside. But once he was back home, he would cut them open to reveal the amazing crystals or other mineral deposits inside.
Sometimes, we can be a little like a backward geode. In our beauty- and youth-obsessed culture, outward appearances are paramount. Instagram feeds are full of photos carefully staged to show off perfect appearances, while beauty video bloggers, or vloggers, crank out countless hours of YouTube tutorials on how to look your best—i.e. youngest and most beautiful. And did you know Americans spent $16.5 billion on 17.7 million elective cosmetic surgeries in 2018 alone? So says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons®. Today, the U.S. beauty industry is valued at $80 billion and expected to reach $90 billion by 2020. But all that money and effort is spent only on the outside.
In the twenty-third chapter of Matthew’s gospel, we find Jesus calling out the hypocrisy of the backward geode religious leaders of His day, saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (verses 27-28, ESV).
God is more concerned about our inward beauty than what’s on the outside. Maybe He even created geodes to give us a simple picture of what we should be. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look our best, but if the outside always demands more time and effort than the inside, it might be time to re-evaluate.
Want to try seeing yourself and those around you like God does? Look for inner beauty. What is special, amazing, fun, inspiring, sweet, or wonderful about someone that has nothing whatsoever to do with the outside? And when you see it in yourself, let it express itself through your creative work and everything you do. “For The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but The Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b, ESV)
Who are the geodes in your life? They may also be beautiful on the outside, and that’s great, but what’s special about them on the inside? Drop us a line in the form below and share your thoughts with us.
The State Fair of Virginia is underway as I write this. The Fair, maybe as much as anything, is a metaphor for life. Along its avenues and amongst its attractions you can find emotions from across the spectrum. Joy. What child hasn’t thrilled to win a prize at one of the carnival games? Patti Jones’ “Girl with Balloons” recalls the simple joy of things like balloons. Wonder. The sights of the Fair from the top of the ferris wheel. Disappointment. The missed toss that loses the prize, the final stop of the ferris wheel. Curiosity. Touching a goat, a pig, or milking a cow for the first time. Hunger. The array of deep fried everything—from bananas to Oreo cookies—stirs the appetite after hours of walking. Sleepy satisfaction. Finally resting after a full day of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Life, like the Fair, is so easy to rush through. But it only lasts for a season. Savor the Joy, the wonder, even the disappointment, the curiosity, the hunger, the sleepy satisfaction of a day well spent.
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Have you ever watched a master potter forming a new piece of work on his wheel? He’ll take a lump of clay, plop it on the wheel, add water, and turn the wheel on. That’s when the magic happens. His masterful fingers remove clay from where he doesn’t it want and apply pressure in just the right places to transform the lump of clay into the form that he has planned for it.
The metaphor of the potter and clay has long been applied to the human experience with God. The Bible is full of references to this ancient art form. Consider Isaiah 64:8: “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand.” Jeremiah 18:1-23 and other passages also reference the imagery of the potter and clay.
All people everywhere are, indeed, made in the image of God, as recorded in Genesis 1:27: “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” The second chapter of Genesis offers a little more detail it its seventh verse, which says, “Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”
Of all of the creatures that God made, people are the only ones He made in His image. Think about that for moment. With no other creature does Scripture say that God shared His very breath. We understand that the “image of God” refers to the immaterial aspect of our humanity—qualities such as our sense of morality and self-awareness. It’s what sets us apart from animals and enables us to have fellowship with our Creator.
Originally, God declared that His completed work was “very good.” That image of God in us, though, was marred when Adam and Eve chose to reject God’s way and follow their own plan. The entire Bible from that point on until the last book of Revelation is the account of God pursuing His creation, calling us back into that close relationship that was lost because of that first sin by Adam and Eve.
Finally, God the Son, Jesus Christ, left the glories of heaven and humbled Himself (Philippians 2:6), entering our space and time as a small baby who grew to be a man. Jesus lived to show us what God was like and He died to pay the price for our sins. Because of that, if we believe in Him, trusting Him to restore our relationship with God, then the Scriptures say we will be saved.
Now let’s get back to the potter. Second Corinthians 3 tells us that those put their trust in Jesus Christ are being transformed by God—that is they are being changed from their sinful, rebellious selves, into people who look more and more like Jesus. The churchy word for this is “sanctification.”
I like to think of it like as a lump of clay in the hands of a master potter. As long as the clay is on the wheel, in the hands of the potter, it will be transformed from a lump into whatever form the potter has in mind—a vase, a dish, a pitcher. Sometimes the potter turns the clay into something beautiful that decorates a room. Sometimes he makes something very useful. But he always has a vision and a plan for the clay on the wheel. And just as it takes time for a potter to transform clay from a lump into a beautiful or useful object, sanctification—transforming people into the image of Christ—takes a while, too. In fact, it takes a lifetime.
But it’s worth it because each day, each year, we are closer to being what God designed us to be from the beginning. The key is to stay on the wheel. It’s only there, under the hands of The Potter, that we can be transformed into what He wants us to be. And when you feel like the pressure of His hands is too much, or He’s stretching you too thin in one area or another, or the wheel is making you more than a little dizzy, remember that He sees what you’re becoming. He has a plan to finish His work with you. He won’t leave you lumpy and deformed on His wheel! Trust Him and lean on these words of Paul to the Philippians (1:6): “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
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).
Aug 21, 2017 brought a total solar eclipse to viewers across the United States. And sky watchers in other parts of North and South America could see at least a percentage of the sun blocked by the moon. Did you see it? If you were like a lot of folks, you got your glasses and hoped for clear skies.
Some folks made a road trip for the chance to watch the eclipse in the path of totality, where the moon completely blocked the sun. We watched with my wife’s parents at their Varina, Virginia farm where the sun was only about 80 percent eclipsed with the rest peeking from behind the moon. Still, it was spectacular.
The television news teams were stationed all over the place covering the event, especially along the path of totality. As we watched the coverage, a reporter interviewed an eclipse observer. The subject said he thought it was amazing that mankind had become so advanced over the centuries that we could know with certainty where and when the eclipse would occur. To him, it showed the intelligence and power of man.
I agree that one of the most striking things was the fact that we did know the day, hour, and precise minute the eclipse would begin, how long it would last, and when it would end. And even more amazing to a math-challenged, right-brain thinker like me was the fact that we knew precisely where on the spinning globe we call home you’d need to be to see the sun completely blocked by the moon and we knew the percentage of totality other areas would experience.
But I think the man on television missed the larger lesson. Yes, it is impressive that in the course of human history, we’ve advanced our knowledge and developed the tools with which to make such accurate predictions. Even more impressive, however, is that we live in a universe that is so ordered that we are able to make those predictions at all. In spite of the chaos we often see around us today (and often of our own making), the design of our world is a beautiful thing.
As a designer, whenever I recognize design, I know someone has been there ahead of me and set things in specific places for some purpose. Whether I’m reading a newspaper, using my smartphone, or simply walking down the street, wherever I go I’m surrounded by design. At its heart, design is an attempt to provide structure and bring order to some part of our world. Whether it’s organizing the news we read, providing a network through which we can rapidly communicate, or creating efficient and safe corridors for transportation, good design adds value to our world and is a hallmark of intelligence and creativity.
Once design is discerned, patterns often become apparent. When you approach a traffic light that’s yellow, you know what the next light will be. It never goes from yellow to green, despite how some folks drive. It always changes from yellow to red because that’s the way it’s designed.
The natural world is no different. We see patterns and other evidence of design all round us. When the leaves explode in their autumn reds, yellows, and other hues, we know what’s next. Like the traffic light, they’re not going back to green. The eclipse is just one, albeit an impressive one, of the countless signatures of The Maker upon His creation. When an artist signs his work, he makes a claim on that work, saying, “I created this.” So the God of heaven and earth says with every pattern we can see, “Look! I created all this—everything you can see, and everything you cannot!”
The apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians (verses1:16-17) says, “…for through Him [Jesus] God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.”
But even if we’ve never read a single word of the Bible, we know in our hearts that God is real and that He has made the world we live in. We know because we live in the middle of the evidence of His existence.
The New Testament book of Romans says this very thing in its first chapter, verse 20: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Nine hundred years before Paul wrote those words, King David expressed a similar idea in Psalm 19: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.”
Poetic language describing the works of a massively creative God. An eclipse is one of His grand signatures across His creation. And for a few hours on August 21, 2017, that signature stretched across our country for all to see.
This week in the shop, I’ve got a new print (shown above) created from sketches I made during the 2017 eclipse. The image reminds me to stay open to seeing the fingerprints and signature of God all around me, and to remember Him not only as my creator, but as my sustainer and provider, too. You can visit the shop here and order your own copy today.
“Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”
E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
There are few things more inspiring than true friendship. Who’s your true friend? If you’re immediately thinking of someone specific instead of searching your mental rolodex, consider yourself blessed. If you’re thinking of more than one person, know that you have been blessed from full to overflowing.
Today is my sister, Pam’s 50th birthday. I don’t think she’d mind me sharing that with you. Some of you reading this know her. Others do not. But what I want you all to know about her today is that she is, always has been, and always will be my true friend.
Born 21 months apart, we have grown up and grown older together. I have a lifetime of good memories, but want to share a few snapshots.
Pam and I shared a childhood in a home in the woods on a dirt road with parents who loved us and loved The Lord. Our father enjoyed gardening and our mother froze and canned what he grew. And in addition to enjoying the fruits of his labor, we were especially fond of the moist dirt clods he’d turn up with the first tilling of each new season. More than a few evenings were spent in friendly combat as we battled with the clods, hurling them at each other in the twilight before being called in for baths.
Even as kids, she cared enough to help me invest in the creative process. When I needed a model to draw a comic book character I had dreamed up, Pam was there, donning a ridiculous outfit and posing for my reference photos.
For years, Pam took piano lessons from Mrs. Ruby Bosher, who taught scores of students throughout the Hanover countryside. She was the best and Pam is part of her legacy. Pam’s gone on to be a wonderful music teacher herself, as well as a pianist, accompanist, arranger, composer, singer, and church music and choir director for adults and children. When we were kids, Pam tried to teach me piano, but I only lasted for one lesson. I should have stuck with it.
With Bonnie, a neighborhood friend, we started a detective agency. Inspired by more than a few Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, we had plenty of cases fueled by our imaginations, but only one paying case—from a neighbor, who’d lost the gas cap to his tractor and offered us a dollar to track it down. Our detective mettle was tested, but failed and the mystery has long since been filed under our “cold cases.”
Our dad built us a treehouse and later, a log cabin at the edge of the woods. We added on to both of them with bamboo and scrap wood. The creative process can take varied forms with infinite outcomes—in our case at that time, what emerged was a bamboo veranda off the side of our log cabin.
Growing up, moving out
After high school, Pam and I both attended James Madison University. She majored in music. I studied communications and journalism with a side of graphic design. We shared some friends and also had our own circles. We also shared a wonderful little green, 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle. The license plate read, “2TREES,” which was all of “Rountree” we could fit. When I moved to California to work for a newspaper, Pam was one of a small handful of people who made the trip out to visit me—twice.
Later, when I worked as a news artist for U.S. News & World Report in Washington, D.C., I lived with Pam and her husband, Stuart for more than 10 years, renting a basement room. My schedule allowed me to be in Washington for just three nights a week, so I split my time between there and my home in Hanover. I got to watch my sister as a young mother and enjoy the time with my oldest niece and nephew as toddlers on through elementary school.
In some seasons of life we and our families have seen each other frequently. In others, circumstances have made visits more sporadic. And of course, we’ve exchanged many gifts over the years, but Pam has given me two gifts that I will always treasure. The first arrived on the day of the first performance of a small play I wrote a few years ago. It wasn’t a big production (she’s produced far bigger ones), but Pam sent me flowers. Men don’t typically get a lot of flowers. But she cared enough about what I was doing to send them. Whenever I remember that production, I think of those flowers, and my sister.
She gave me the second gift when I turned 50—a collection of thoughts and wishes from some of my close friends. It was such an encouragement to read and I appreciated her not waiting for my funeral to put together such a nice compilation.
True passion inspires
Pam and I haven’t always done the same things, but we’ve shared a consistent and deep commitment to faith, family, and the arts. Her passion for all three inspires me to this day. Since our early years, Pam has always been there for me—as a listening ear, a cheerleader, a speaker of challenging truth, and an advocate. That’s what good sisters—and true friends—do.
I began this post with a quote from the closing lines of E.B. White’s classic, Charlotte’s Web. It’s fitting to end with an adaptation of his very last line, certainly one of the most satisfying of any closing line written in modern literature. So of Pam, I’ll say, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good sister. Pam is both.”
Now it’s your turn! Whether it’s their birthday or not, what inspires you about your true friend? Share your thoughts with us here at Inspiring Handmade using the quick comment box below. Just leave us your name and email and a comment about your friend. If you’re in a sharing mood, let us know that it’s okay to use your quote in an upcoming post and specify if you want your name included in the posted article or not. We’re not out to embarrass anyone—only to encourage ourselves and you to think on all things good, right, noble, praiseworthy, excellent, and true—including true friends!
The music in my life started at a very young age. My mom sang “Jesus Loves Me;” my great aunts taught me “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and I loved to bang on the old upright piano in what we called the “front” room. I guess my mom got tired of the banging and my begging to learn piano, so lessons started when I was about nine. Once a week, I was allowed to leave class and go to a special room at my school where Mrs. Turpin turned the banging into music. That continued until middle school, when I decided I wanted to join the band and play the flute. Being in the band was wonderful! Trips, competitions, and friendships have weathered the test of time. Little did I know then that there was a special trumpet player who I would marry 16 years later! But that is another story for another time. Sadly, like many things, what you don’t use you lose, and I am back to picking out notes that might resemble a familiar tune. I regret that I did not continue to play. But I still love music and will always have the foundation that my mother and Mrs. Turpin built into my life many years ago.
Now I want to play songs for my grandchildren to sing along with, so for Valentine’s Day, I asked my husband, Gene, for a Kalimba, which is an African hand harp (Learn a little more about the Kalimba from this video). It’s a beautiful instrument—a handmade work of art all by itself. I play it most every day. The “Wheels on the Bus” never sounded so good!
If you have a red letter Bible, you’ll see that every single word in chapter 15 of the Gospel of John is in red. Certainly, as the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…,” but the entirety of John 15 is direct teaching by Jesus and He’s sharing the secret of how to pray prayers that get answered. This is important to know whatever the color of the text!
The chapter begins with Jesus, God the Son, explaining His relationship to God the Father and to us, using the metaphor of a grapevine. John 15:1-4 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (English Standard Version).
Jesus then reaffirms that He, himself is the vine and we are represented in the metaphor by the branches of the vine. God the Father wants us to live fruitful lives. John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
That’s a pretty strong statement, but then Jesus explains in John 15:7 what this really looks like in practice: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
That’s an even stronger—and more amazing—statement! Jesus Christ Himself promises that if we remain, or abide—live, dwell, rest in—Him, and if we allow His words to remain, abide, live or dwell in us, then we can pray prayers that will be answered. But before we start picking out the new car or boat we’ve had our eye on, we should understand exactly what Jesus is teaching.
There is a two-part condition, two big “ifs” followed by a result of meeting those conditions. If we consistently live a life in relationship with Jesus and consistently meditate on His word, depending on it to genuinely guide our decisions and everything about our lives, then we’ll see our prayers answered.
John 15:8 adds that a fruitful life, including answered prayers, is a hallmark of being a true follower of Jesus: “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” The last part of that verse explains why all of this is the way it is: To bring glory to God, which is one of our primary reasons for being created in the first place.
A mid-17th century teaching from English and Scottish theologians and church leaders known as the Westminster Shorter Catechism comprises 107 questions and answers about God and His word. Our Presbyterian friends know well the answer to the first and most famous question of the catechism: What is the chief end of man? The answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Both parts of that answer, glorifying and enjoying, are addressed by Jesus in John 15. In verse eight, Jesus explains that when we produce a lot of fruit, through a life full of answered prayers, among other things, God is glorified.
And when we see our prayers answered by God, we cannot help but enjoy Him all the more. Just consider the Facebook feeds of friends who you know post not only their prayer requests, but also the results of those requests. More times than not, prayers that come from a heart that meditates on the things of God and is therefore aligned with God and in step with His Spirit, will see answers according to His timing. And a funny thing happens when we abide in Christ and allow His words to abide in us—we’re less likely to be concerned with getting that new car or boat. As John Piper wrote at his blog, Desiring God, “The words of Jesus abiding in us make us the kind of persons who are not dominated by natural desires, but are devoted to fruit-bearing for God’s glory.”
Don’t we love to focus on the second half of John 15:7? “…ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” But if we do that, we risk missing the real joy of a relationship with God through Christ, and we forfeit the key to answered prayers. The true secret and power of prayer is found in the big “if” conditions: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you…” (emphases are mine). Only when these two conditions are true in our lives will we see evidence of the second part of Jesus’ statement: “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
It all comes down to abiding. If we stay close to the One who can answer our prayers, we’ll not only be in tune with Him enough to ask for the things He’ll be delighted to give us, but there will be no wall between us to make it awkward when we do need to ask for something.
Instead of asking ourselves why God won’t answer some of our prayers, should we be asking different questions? Like, “where am I abiding these days?” “What am I meditating on lately?” “Am I as close to the Answerer of Prayers as I would like to be?” If you are, how do you keep close? This post has just scratched the surface of this topic. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what abiding looks like in real life. Drop us a note using the box below.
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
— Rabindranath Tagore, Indian writer (1861-1941)
Several years ago, when our girls were younger, we put a caterpillar in one of those mesh net terrariums. The girls decided it was a she-pillar and named her Cookie. We fed her with milkweed and watched as she formed her chrysalis and then, finally, hatched out completely transformed into a stunning butterfly. We said our goodbyes on the front porch as Cookie tentatively spread her beautiful wings and soon was flying, first around the porch and then out into the yard and the woods beyond. We were so proud. Raising Cookie was a lot easier than raising girls! But it all happened so fast (I know I’ll say the same thing about raising girls—they’ll be grown in the blink an eye). And Cookie has long ago lived her life and passed on.
Remembering her brief stay with our family got me thinking about time. The quote above, from Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore, is insightful. Butterflies truly do live in the moment, don’t they? And yet they are among the most beautiful and elegant of God’s creatures. Ecclesiastes 3:11 begins with this declaration: “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time.” From an easy-to-overlook chrysalis to the impossible-to-miss flitting butterfly, the Creator has His own designs and timetables for His world.
And as I’ve developed this piece I call “Time Enough,” a truth has begun to dawn on me: As short-lived as the butterfly’s life may be, it does, indeed, have “time enough.” It has time enough to simply be what God created it to be—in Cookie’s case, a beautiful butterfly. That’s all it has to do—and be—and there is enough time for that.
I’m old enough now to realize that I’ll not live long enough to read all the books I want to read. Or create all the art for which I have ideas. Or spend the time I want to spend with the people I love. But that’s my agenda. God has made me for a purpose—to glorify Him, enjoy a deep relationship with Him and serve Him by serving others. And if I’m attending to those things, like the butterfly, I’ll have time enough.
Jesus had just 33 short years on earth and only three years of actual formal recorded ministry, yet He didn’t spend time regretting yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. He lived in the moments and had time enough—to love, to pray and worship, to teach, to heal, to meet a meet a need, to be a friend. My life, and yours, may last for many more years or may soon come to an end. But even so, there’s time enough—in God’s time—to be who we were created to be.
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In ancient times, the Israelite king, David, wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” Created from salvaged 19th century oak barn wood and hardwood cut from the woods near the artist’s studio, The Arc of the Summer Moon door topper is an original sculpture capturing the peaceful twilight of a summer evening. The moon’s low, lazy arc across the sky is a reminder of the arc of our lives. As it appears to rise up out of the earth, so we were created from the soil of earth, formed by the hand of God Himself, made in His own image, and filled with life from His own breath. And as the moon sets, it looks to us as if it returns to the earth, just as we will—dust to dust. But in between its rising and setting, it does one thing superbly well—it reflects the light of the sun, and in doing that, it brightens our evenings and nights, spilling its light into the darker places, inspiring, and freely sharing its beauty with any who will glance its way. And isn’t that a picture of what God has designed each of us to do?
This piece by Stephen Rountree is created with acrylic paint, salvaged wood, cut wood and hand stamped with the opening words of David’s Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Wherever it’s displayed, it is a uniquely beautiful reminder of this timeless truth: We get one arc across the sky—one life. And it’s not how, or when, we rise or set, but how well we’ve reflected the light of Son along our way.