Tuesday

Mennonites conduct craft fair for the cause of Christ

Making fresh apple cider
Last Saturday, our family attended and participated in the 37th Rocky Mountain Mennonite Relief Sale at the Arkansas Valley Fairgrounds in Rocky Ford, Colorado. This is the third year in a row that we have assisted in the Kid's Auction, in which children bid for toys and other goods. We had a great time.

According to the sale's website, it is "a joint
effort of over 30 Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Congregations in Colorado, New Mexico and West Texas." It is a great way for people all over the Rocky Mountain Region to contribute to the Mennonite Central Committee in a creative and fun way. All profits from the sale are donated to this committee and are distributed to areas of need around the world for "relief, development and peace" in the name of Christ. The Kid's Auction is only one of the activities.

Selling cheese until it's gone

 
 People sell fresh cheese, homemade sausage, bierrocks, Middle Eastern
Selling crafts in the Christmas booth
street food, New Year's Cookies, fair trade coffee and tea, freshly-made apple cider and butter, an array of baked goods, including homemade pie; delicious and generously portioned scoops of ice cream, kettle corn, foodstuffs, craft items, mounds of fabric, and fair trade gift items. The list goes on and on. There are four auctions at the sale. The Kid's Auction, which I have mentioned, a silent auction, another main auction that sells general items like antiques, fruit, a tractor, a loaf of bread that usually sells for $1,000 or more, and the quilt auction (my personal favorite).

A small quilt from Christmas booth

The quilt auction is amazing in itself. Each quilt is made by local women, people from the region and also by quilters in Pennsylvania, where MCC headquarters is located. The quilts are wonderful and I apologize for not getting pictures of them, but I was too caught up in the atmosphere to remember. Two of the wall hangings from the Christmas booth are pictured. These will help you get some idea as to the craftsmanship. 
This sale is huge and it takes a lot of time and effort on part of the committee members and others who participate. Every year that I attend is encouraging to me. It's great to see a group of people get together and put on an event of this magnitude to help other people. Relief Sales take place all over the country. Maybe there is one near where you live. If you have never attended one, I suggest you do. It will be an unforgettable experience.


A wall hanging from the Christmas booth

A manger scene crafted from polymer clay

A huge snow man


Ornaments donated from an estate

Friday

God and Art: Jewelry maker creates gifts to encourage others

Michelle Ernsthausen of Rochester, New York is our guest for the God and Art Series today. Michelle, who owns GlimmerOfBeauty on Etsy, shared her story with me after I asked her if she wanted to be featured on my blog. Be sure to visit her shop. She has some interesting items that will help you speak to the people around you. Here's her story:

"In 2009 my sister-in-law discovered jewelry making. Since we spend Sundays together she thought it would be fun to do together, so that Christmas she gave me a jewelry making starter kit as a gift. But, honestly, I was not too excited. My only other experience with making jewelry was at a church retreat. We were given memory wire, multi-colored seed beads and charms to make a bracelet. I was exhausted from no sleep the night before and my eyes burned. I found the tiny beads so painful to work with that I gave up, put the materials in a bag and went for a walk. Once at home, however, I felt compelled to finish the project. The bracelet was nice, but the experience did not spark a love for the activity. However, I did not want to appear ungrateful so I decided I needed to make at least one piece of jewelry with the kit my sister-in-law gave me. It turned out that with a good night sleep, bigger beads and my choice of colors I really liked making jewelry. That began my Sunday hobby of 'beading' with my sister-in-law.

GlimmerofBeauty

"After about a year I had made more jewelry than I could wear or give as gifts. So I began to think about what I could do with it. At that time I was receiving God's healing from past hurts and was finally beginning to know my individual worth to God. Being gifted as a teacher I felt compelled to share this new learned lesson with other women. I thought I would give the jewelry I made to women at the local abuse shelter with a card telling them how valuable they were to God. However, God was working out a different plan. You see, at this time my night-time reading was Divine, by Karen Kingsbury. Divine is a modern-day retelling Mary Magdalene's story and the contemporary demons women like her face. She recounts her past of physical and sexual abuse, drug addiction and suicidal thoughts at an abuse shelter she runs. After finishing this book I realized that the women at the shelter need so much more than a piece of jewelry. They needed what the shelter provided. That led me to opening a shop on Etsy. With the income I made from selling my jewelry I could financially support the Alternatives for Battered Women organization. That way the women who sought refuge there would receive so much more than I could give them through a gift of jewelry."


GlimmerofBeauty
"So the combination of the healing I personally received from God, my desire to share the message that we are treasured by God, and my love for making jewelry led me to sell my handmade jewelry at GlimmerOfBeauty. What follows is included in my Etsy profile and explains how I came up with the name Glimmer Of Beauty for my shop."

"As women we always think about our looks. We want to look our best. We try lotions, make up, clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc. to make ourselves shine. But the truth that we often forget or perhaps never knew is that each woman already possesses an incomparable beauty given to us by our Creator. No one can ever create that kind of beauty. My hope is that the jewelry I create is a glimmer of that inner beauty placed in each woman by God."

"It is my desire that all women know of their beauty and worth. Sadly there are some women who are in such abusive relationships they know nothing of their beauty and worth. These women need help from others to show them another way of life. That is why I have chosen to donate 10 percent of the income from my sales to the organization Alternatives for Battered Women (www.abwrochester.org)."
GlimmerofBeauty

"You will notice when you visit my shop that most of the beads in my jewelry are glass. I love working with glass. I love how the light reflects from it, passes through it and creates movement across the piece. I feel uplifted, energized and at peace when I'm working with glass and bringing colors together to create something beautiful. I think I am so drawn to this medium because my spirit is drawn to the light of Jesus. When I think of Jesus, light-filled images of nature come to mind. After all "He is the way, the truth and the light..." Glass is also an ordinary material but when placed in the hands of an artisan it becomes something extraordinary just like you and I in the hands of God. How can I not love spending time with glass when I am constantly reminded of my God?"

GlimmerofBeauty
"You will also notice when you visit my shop that I have a section of inspirational bracelets. I am most proud of this section because it is where I am able to share my faith. These bracelets are an extension of my own personal faith journey and life experiences. They each have a message that I want to share with others so that they will feel encouraged, uplifted and at peace . I hope my bracelets point people to God and their daily need for the Savior, Jesus. The first bracelet I designed was the Christmas Story bracelet. I had come across a children's craft kit that had plain, colored, glass beads with a part of the Christmas story represented by a color in the bracelet. I decided to make my own bracelet for the Christmas season. I wanted the bracelet to be pretty on its own apart from the color symbolism. The beads I chose were multi-faceted glass crystals that catch the eye when the light shines on them. The colors, red, green, blue, purple and crystal, go with everything I wear during the Christmas season. In the color symbolism I really wanted to convey the significance of the gift of God becoming man to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy of a Lord and Savior. When people notice the bracelet and comment I have the opportunity to share the "true meaning" of Christmas. When I notice my bracelet I am reminded to pause from rushing to the next errand /chore "required" by the season and to be grateful for the gift of salvation through Jesus which began on Christmas and is realized at Easter."

GlimmerofBeauty
"The most recent inspirational bracelet I designed was the Gifts of Cancer Bracelet. I designed the original two-strand bracelet in honor of my friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2011. A cancer patient once shared with me that after she worked through the negative feelings that came with her diagnosis she actually received what she called gifts of cancer. She is where I got my ideas for the Gifts of Cancer bracelet: black stands for challenges; aqua, peace; topaz is faith, pink equals beauty; blue stands for perspective and gold is for victory. My prayer for my friend was that she would also receive gifts from cancer as she made this journey. My hope was that she would be able to wear this bracelet and receive encouragement from it."

"I wrote out a detailed explanation of the color symbolism with Bible verses to give to her to help encourage her further. Here is an excerpt. The dark blue crystal symbolizes perspective. There is a popular phrase that says "Don't sweat the small stuff." You will soon discover most things are the small stuff. The Serenity Prayer says:

 God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
 courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.

--Reinhold Niebuhr.

The response to this bracelet has been overwhelming to me. The ease in which it came together leads me to believe that it is the result of God's handiwork and I was a mere vessel. It is so humbling to know God would choose to use me in this way."

"I have been blessed to know Jesus since childhood. My closeness to the Lord has changed over the years. I've spent time in the desert; time on the mountaintops. I have not always been aware of God's presence in my life. But as I look back, the evidence of his faithfulness to me is abundantly clear. My hope is to design more inspirational bracelets as the Lord leads me. I cannot do anything apart from him."

"My encouragement for other artists would be to enjoy your artistry, never forget where your gift comes from and remember that the beauty of your art is an opportunity to point others to God."


GlimmerofBeauty

Thursday

What's going on with Yahbut

I've been slack in my posting to Yahbut and for that I apologize. It's great to see people hitting the site from all over the world - even places that during my childhood were closed to the outside like Russia and the Eastern European countries. Now I see that we're reaching to South America and for the first time someone in Spain has connected. The age of the Internet is quite amazing.

Louie, Susie and me at Monument Lake.
The reason I have not been posting is because my inlaws, Louie and Susie, came out from North Carolina and we were in a whirlwind of activity showing them Colorado and attending games of their nieces and nephews whom they had never met. Next week I plan to show you pictures of our travels. We attended the Mennonite Relief Sale in Rocky Ford, Colorado and drove on the Highway of Legends in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests. We had a blast.

Michelle
Before I post about these trips, however, I want to share a fascinating story about Michelle Ernsthausen, owner of Glimmer of Beauty on Etsy in another God and Art installment. This post will appear Friday, Oct. 26. Can you believe it's almost November? That means Thanksgiving and Christmas and, and ... Okay. Breathe.

Unpacking Forgiveness
Next week I'm also going to start a series on forgiveness with a book that I just bought called Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns. I can't wait to start reading it, especially since posting The Cursing Psalms and Dealing with Enemies.

So that's what's coming up on Yahbut. I hope you will all stay tuned.

Shalom!

Lisa

There's a party goin' on ...

Hey, there's a party going on over at Mercantile Muse, Pamela Bates' blog. Pamela owns and operates BatesMercantileCo on Etsy and every other week she hosts a link up party where people can "advertise" their shops and blogs for free. All you need to do is visit the other shops and promote them as well.

Here's the link:

Did Someone Say Party?

So far I've found some neat stuff in people's shops:

LuckyCatHandmade


Isn't that a cute eyeglass case?

KnickofTime
"I'll Fly Away". I can hear the ol' church choir crankin' out that tune with this reminder.



ThisandThatCrafter
As you can see, it's an eclectic mix of handmade items, vintage and supplies. Come on by and join the fun!

Friday

God and Art Series: Artists give thanks

Forget Halloween. I'm ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. Last week I was ill and after that old creeping crud left my body - it took three days! - I had a burst of energy and felt really good. Then my husband, Mike, came down with it. What a week it has been, but I am really grateful to be healthy and to have a family who cares for me. For this reason, I want to devote this week's God and Art installment to the work of artists who help us remember to be grateful.

"There's an old saying," according to an article by Ocean Robbins of the Huffington Post, "that if you've forgotten the language of gratitude, you'll never be on speaking terms with happiness." It's true. Studies show that people who wrote down what they were grateful each day had a more positive attitude, had better relationships with their spouses and were less likely to become depressed.

I guess the apostle Paul knew what he was talking about when he wrote:  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3: 15 - 17).


I'm not a morning person, but I have found that as I'm desperately trying to leave my normal zombie-like state to a much more refreshed and awakened frame of mind that talking to God helps. This sign by saltboxsigns would be great to hang in the bathroom to remind me of that very thing:
saltboxsigns


Aren't these ornies by RyensMarketplace cute? They have a Thanksgiving theme. Wouldn't they serve as great reminders for your guests? 

RyensMarketplace


It's always nice to receive a card in the mail. These two cards are beautiful and would warm the heart of any one who had done something special for you.

papermajik


LoveofCreating


Or, you could wrap up a nice gift or a box of homemade goodies and use this ribbon as your card.

TheEiffelTeaRoom

This banner would make a nice decoration for your Thanksgiving get together, don't you think? It's cute enough to display all year long. 

inspirationalbanners


Yes, I know Halloween is coming with all of the ghouls and such, but I prefer celebrating Thanksgiving. I especially like the fact that though the holiday of Thanksgiving comes but once a year, this attitude can live in our hearts throughout the year. It's as simple as saying "thank you."


Thursday

Why I love the Bible too

Rachel Held Evans has a good post on her blog:

Why I love the Bible

I would have to say that this post speaks my heart as well.

Wednesday

Open the Windows of the Church

My former professor Dr. Thomas Jay Oord at Northwest Nazarene University has posted a list of 10 things that ought to change about the Nazarene church over on his blog. You can access it here:

Open the Windows of the Church

Even though Oord is speaking about his denomination (and mine too), this may apply to your denomination, nondenomination or yourself. Take a look. It's a good read.

Friday

God and Art Series: The word in art

Today's God and Art Series will feature art work from Etsy that incorporates the word of God. Such as:


WondersOfLight

Using the Bible, or God's word, is nothing new in the artistic realm. For centuries, monks made exquisite pages for Bibles using calligraphy and illumination to communicate the message of God's word.
Here is an example of a watercolor painting that artist Kathy Whitesel painted in the same tradition.


KWhiteselCreations

In today's markets, water coloring is much more economical. In the Middle Ages, the monks used real gold and silver to illuminate their manuscripts!

Embroidery, also a centuries-old art, is also used:



KariCreates
 With the dawn of computers, graphic arts and design, there are more possibilities for creativity. This is a framed exposition of the word joy, using scripture references where the word is found, as background:


abidingwordcreations
 Here is a beautiful example of God's word in Hebrew. This artist paints the words right into her picture.


TalShamaim
 Artist Tali Mishni tells us that the Hebrew says: "Hashem in the heavens is your kindness, your faithfulness is until the upper heights (Psalm Chapter 36, Verse 6).

Subway art is the rage right now and is an interesting way to relay a message.

DoodleGraphics

There are many ways to express God's word in art. Here are a few more examples:


InspiredGreetingsAD

vinylartstudio

HeavenlyHomeGifts

RyensMarketPlace

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Wednesday

The Cursing Psalms and dealing with enemies

For some reason, most of my tests throughout life have been with people who like to appear one way to my face and then turn around and stab me in the back. It's happened for years now and I hope that someday won't happen as much. Then again, however, maybe that's just the way people are. I hope I'm not that way.

As you can see, the numbers on my trust meter are low - my husband is a major exception.

I'm not trying to whine, really. I've learned a lot about people and I'm learning to become stronger as a person so that's all good. I'm also learning to separate those who have stabbed me in the back from those who have not so that I can build trusting relationships. That's just the way life is. You have to separate the good from the bad and follow what's right. Even Jesus had trust issues. John 2: 23 - 25 says:

Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

Do you remember a few weeks ago I wrote a post called "Praying the Psalms". In that post I wrote:

The benefit of praying this Psalm (in this case it was Psalm 119) daily to start would be in its repetitiveness. Some people believe that if we repeat something enough times, we'll actually begin to live and believe it. Also, it's a great way to store the Psalm within your memory. The Holy Spirit can then use portions of the Psalm to encourage you and others through you when needed.

The Holy Spirit also uses our daily prayer time as a time of encouragement. I try to read at least one Psalm a day and with recent circumstances, I felt prompted to read Psalm 109 even though I had read it the day before. The first paragraph jumped out at me:

My God, whom I praise,

do not remain silent,

for people who are wicked and deceitful

have opened their mouths against me;

they have spoken against me with lying tongues.

With words of hatred they surround me;

they attack me without cause.

In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.

They repay me evil for good,

and hatred for my friendship.

"God understands," I thought. "At least I'm not the only one who has had these problems."

Now being a student of the Bible, I know that I am not the only person who has problems, but sometimes I need gentle reminders that God truly sees what is going on. The words of this Psalm helped me to express what was going on inside. However, if you keep reading the same Psalm, you'll find:

Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;

let an accuser stand at his right hand.

When he is tried, let him be found guilty,

and may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few;

may another take his place of leadership.

May his children be fatherless

and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;

may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;

may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

May no one extend kindness to him

or take pity on his fatherless children.

May his descendants be cut off,

their names blotted out from the next generation.

May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord;

may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.

 May their sins always remain before the Lord,
that he may blot out their name from the earth.

Whoa. "Okay," (nervous laugh), "don't do that, Lord. It's not that important."

Isn't it amazing that David, the man after God's own heart, or, if it wasn't David, some other holy person who had really connected with the Almighty, could write such things? But then again, as a human, that's a natural way to feel about an enemy, right?

Yes, definitely. But, no, uh ... maybe. But it isn't right! It's all so confusing. I thought we were supposed to love people. Why did the people who put the Bible together, people who were supposed to be holy and divinely inspired, advocate such words?

Perhaps it was because Jesus and the Holy Spirit had not arrived. The Psalms are pre-Messiah. The one who told us to turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute us hadn't arrived. But that explanation is inadequate, as British writer C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, "Reflections on the Psalms." The Israelites knew God - Jesus' father - and there are plenty of references in the Old Testament that say that we are to love people. Lewis brought Leviticus 19, especially verse 17 and 18 to my attention. These verses reference the way the ancient Israelites were to treat others:

Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Then verses 33 and 34 of the same chapter say:

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

In his chapter "The Cursings," Lewis wrote:

At the outset I felt sure, and I feel sure still, that we must not either try to explain them (the curses in the Psalms) or to yield for one moment to the idea that, because it comes in the Bible, all this vindictive hatred must somehow be good and pious. We must face both facts squarely. The hatred is there - festering, gloating, undisguised - and also we should be wicked if we in any way condoned or approved it, or (worse still) used it to justify similar passions in ourselves (parenthesis without italics mine).

Lewis wrote that as he thought about the cursing Psalms, it occurred to him that the ancient Israelites were not socially restrained, as we are here in the West, against expressing hatred so violently:

"...their restraints came in different places. Hatred did not need to be disguised for the sake of social decorum or for fear anyone would accuse you of neurosis. We therefore see it in its 'wild' or natural condition."

Lewis also wrote that seeing this in scripture should cause us to examine our own hearts in order to find out if we harbor the same feelings. "We live - at least, in some countries we still live in - a milder age. These poets lived in a world of savage punishments, of massacre and violence, of blood sacrifice in all countries and human sacrifice in many. And, of course, too, we are far more subtle than they in disguising our ill will from others and from ourselves ..."

These poets are our brothers, Lewis said. And, it is true. I may not harbor seething resentment or hatred toward everyone who treats me adversely; however, if I do not keep ill feelings in check with the balm of forgiveness, they could grow to surprising depths over which I may not have control.

I suppose that is why Jesus told his followers to forgive seventy times seven times, or an infinite amount of times. He knew that we have problems, even repeated problems, with people. Forgiveness keeps us from hate. That is too why love was emphasized in the Old Testament passages we mentioned earlier. Because as Peter later wrote, "love covers a multitude of sins."

Forgiving someone continually, however, does not mean that we become their physical or emotional punching bag. In this case it's best to stay away from someone who hurts you continually. We just have to make sure that we are being honest. We can't stay away from people as an excuse to hide our resentment. If the situation can be healed then by all means try to make amends. On the other side though when someone chooses to continually hurt you, choose to forgive from a distance with a clear conscience. Praying the cursing Psalms may help free you from the emotional baggage some situations cause.

What do you think?

Tuesday

The heavens declare the glory of God

Shackleford Banks, N.C.
"The heavens declare the glory of God ..." the psalmist wrote. No where is this more evident than from high places on the earth, looking down upon the vast plain or upon the wild ocean.

God's majesty is also proclaimed perfectly when standing under a big deep blue sky with puffy white clouds skidding across the expanse in unseen winds.

Raptor Center, Pueblo, CO
The heavens declare God's glory on the seemingly endless prairie with the breeze riffling through the grasses. In all that vast space, a small bug clings to the tip of a strand of grass hoping to gain a meal.

God's majesty is proclaimed in an eagle circling overhead, gliding on the winds, calling out some message in unknown tongue.

The heavens declare the glory of  God on the sandy beaches, in the ocean depths, the starry night, the winds of a hurricane, the vastness of space, the twinkling stars, among the planets, in the sounds of the wind in the tree tops. The heavens declare God's glory in the heat of the sun shining down, warming the earth and propagating life.

Florrisant, Colorado
The heavens declare God's glory when my dog snuggles down by my feet warming them with the softness of his fur. It is declared in the care of a mammal for its young. The heavens declare God's glory in the perfect little fingers and toes of an infant; in the happy smile of a baby when he or she recognizes a parent or other loved one. The glory of God is declared in the perfect love of a man and woman; in the love of a mother for her infant. It is declared in the love of a father for his crippled child.

God's glory is declared everywhere. We need only to bend our ear to the gentle whispers of God's spirit by believing that God exists and that he loved us enough to die for us.

God's glory is declared in a planted seed that, when the time and conditions are right, springs forth into a plant that yields the beauty of a flower or the plump red juiciness of a tomato or other fruit or vegetable. God's glory is declared in the song of the nightingale as it bids good night to the weary earth.

Indian Paintbrush
God's glory is declared in the rhythmic beating of the sea as its waves crash on the shore and stay within their boundaries according to the tides.

What is God's glory? According to Wesleyan theologian M. Robert Mullholland, "'Glory' is the translation of a Greek word that represents the essential characteristics or nature of a person or thing that makes them who they are. Thus the 'glory' of God is God's very nature, the essence of who God is."*

We can learn a lot about God through nature. What have you learned?



*From The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discovering Your True Self, M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., IVP Books, 2006.