GIVE TO THE LORD THE BEST OF THE BEST

This week Pat Nygren Davis’ Bible journaling caught my eye with her colorful poppies.

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She explained that in her study of Numbers 18:28-29 she learned the Israelites were commanded to give their best to the Levites. The Levites in turn were instructed to give their best. Only the best of the best was a worthy gift to the Lord. Her prayer after reading?  “How I can give the best of my best to the Lord?”  (Pat said she modeled this page after watching a periscope by Ashley Haake (aka @magmagandme)).

I reached out to her to learn a bit more about her.  She said she was a self-professed “math nerd” who got hooked on Bible journaling.  I asked her how she got into Bible journaling.  Here’s what she had to say:

I have always learned through writing/jotting/doodling.  I can’t use the calendar on my phone because appointments don’t register in my brain unless I write it in my paper calendar.  Books I own are all marked up and full of underlining and notes. Here is one of my first Bible Art Journaling pages – “He is Risen!”

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I don’t know how I came to buy a book titled  Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible It gave me permission to jot, note and underline in my Bible.  What?!?! I began by drawing a little heart in the margin every time Scripture mentioned God’s love for me – WOW!  There’s a bunch!

That led to buying a wide margin Bible and I started doodling through Psalms and my CBS study in Matthew.  It is still the Bible I take to church and use for my Bible studies.  I can find Matthew 15:27 “Yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” easily because I remember doodling a little dog in the corner of that page!

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My supplies at that time included crayola twistable pencils, a few chalk pastels, gel bible highlighters and a black sharpie no-bleed pen (through trial and error on what could be used without bleeding through).

Then I saw a Facebook post of an acquaintance who had journaled a tree for Psalm 1.  I was so excited!  She mentioned Illustrated Faith and Bible Journaling, so I began my research online and found Facebook groups and Instagram feeds!  I ordered a journaling Bible right away.  My first entry was for Easter 2016 and was done with chalk pastels and a black chalk marker I had. Then I was hooked!

I am so thankful for the Instagram and Facebook communities of Bible Art Journalers!  (I haven’t found very many in my city.)  I have learned so much and they are a great encouragement.  I have not seen anyone else’s Journaling Bible in real life!

My favorite part about BAJ is the time spent reading and mulling over the Word and then figuring out how to put my thoughts and feelings in art form (AND be something I can actually do! Let’s just say I have troubles with faces and hands!).  It’s using creativity to make the Word of God alive to me in a personal way.

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Right now I am working through the end of Deuteronomy as part of trying to read the Bible in a year.  Trying to see beyond the OT laws and sacrifices to what the scripture says about God has helped me grow in understanding of our great God. He is the same today, yesterday and always!

Lately I’ve enjoyed doing “Tiny Scripture Doodles.”

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A friend named Nichole got me hooked.   Her Instagram name is (at)goosekeeperdesigns. She has an etsy store where she sells travelers notebooks etc. She sells a monthly undated calendar with 1″x2″ blocks that works great but one could just draw out their own blocks if desired.

The above picture is one of the months I did while going through Psalms. Check out #tinyscripturedoodles on Instagram and see the variety of styles. I enjoyed doing them as it kept me in the Word each day. Most days I would read the Psalm in the morning, reflect on it through the day, and then do a quick doodle on the calendar in the evening.

Some of my favorite supplies now include Watercolors and Pigma Micron Pens, though I started with Crayola Twistable Pencils, gel highlighters, chalk pastels, and a Sharpie no-bleed black pen. My medium of choice now is watercolor and I’m trying acrylic paint.  I have played with NeoColor IIs and watercolor pencils.  I own a set of Prismacolor pencils and use them in my regular (non-journaling Bible).   I also like the Tombow Kuretake Fude pen for lettering and the Pigma Micron black pens. My current favorite watercolors are Pelikan and Windsor-Newton Cotman.  I’ll usually try anything once!

I would not call myself an artist (before BAJ I had not touched a paintbrush since junior high art class!), but I LOVE the journey of learning new things.  I have used internet images to trace (not so much anymore), to copy, and to be inspired.  I study other people’s work and check out periscopes and YouTube tutorials on Bible Art Journaling, watercolor, lettering, and any other kind of art that might find its way into my Bible.

My prayer is that my pages reflect our Lord God and give God glory and honor and praise.

Happy Mail

I received some happy mail yesterday:  Some We R Memory Keepers Envelope Wraps from my Bible Journaling friend Connie Denninger, author of Vintage Grace.  She discovered that these stickers, designed for dressing up an envelope, are just the right width for our Bible margins.  They are a great option for covering up bleedthrough.

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Earlier in the day, I was sorting through some papers hoping to find the physical form I needed for my daughter’s kindergarten registration, when I came across a coloring page that I received when I attended an awesome Visual Faith event at Connie’s church.

The coloring page led me to the perfect verse for one of the stickers that Connie sent me and the Psalm prove to be just exactly where I needed to be spending some time in the Word.  I felt blessed!

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Psalm 37 is a good reminder to wait on God and keep His way.  And the bicycle reminds me of what it means to follow God:  You have to stay well-balanced, keep going, and look to the road ahead!

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My husband and I were both brought up to believe if you do well in school and work hard, you will do well.  We have three jobs between us and are often up past midnight doing work.  There are times when it can be discouraging.  Our parents never worked quite this hard and some things they took for granted are a struggle for us.  We see other people doing just as well or better by not doing the right things in life.  Psalm 37 reminds me that this problem is as old as time, but also it provides this assurance:  God does not forsake His saints.  God provides for us as we do our best to walk in the way our parents taught us and God shows us in His Word.

 

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It was so nice to receive some fun mail, which randomly turned into a bit of needed encouragement.

One, two, whatever you do, start it well and carry it through.

Try, try, never say die.

Things will come right, you know, by and by.

PEACE AND LIGHT – Playing in prayer and scripture with Suzanne Stovall Vinson

Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

I am beyond excited to introduce you to Suzanne Stovall Vinson owner of Silver Tree Art.  Below, in her poetic voice, you’ll hear how she fell in love with praying in color.  And, you’ll catch a glimpse of some of her favorite artistic tools!

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When I see photos of her studio space pop up on my Facebook feed, I want to transport myself from snowy western Pennsylvania to her light-filled art and gathering room in Richmond,Virginia.

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Suzanne’s work is beyond the margins of scripture, but in every image she exudes what it means to “pray in color.”  Take a look!  I think you’ll fall in love immediately.  Here’s what Suzanne had to say about her practice of painting and praying…

Somehow, I got into journaling and praying with paint and color when my hands met my heart, and my head and my health poured forth.

I started reading and experimenting with a mixed media art journaling approach to my devotional time through the great work of books like “Wild Surrender” and “Create for the One Who Made me” by  Mindy Lacefield.

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My daily practice is distilled into the essence of listening. Reading Krista Tippet speaks of “generous listening” which I find to be luxurious – wrapped in silk and lace – at some point listening becomes a conversation, too, once you’ve listened long enough.

I am inspired by the shapes and colors in nature, and by the interweaving color stories in my imagination as brush moves across paper. I love, love moss and seed pods. Lichen and leaves and ferns. I love blooms and trees. I love rusty things and barn wood.

I process life through my paintbrush. So when I’ve had a trail run or a walk in the neighborhood, the joy of that experience enters the page. When I am feeling fatigued and worn out, I find energy in painting. When I am in a dark space, painting brings me into the light.

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Somehow, I meet the right people at the right time. friendships are foundational in my path to wholeness and healing. friendships help me to survive the fatiguing moments of motherhood and life. near my 20’s i was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. i’ve learned in the last 20 years that i need a different pace, a rhythm of work and life that needs to shift according to my body’s needs. i’m reminded again and again through health and wellness ((or the lack thereof)) what i need to maintain a healthy course. most of the time, i want to pretend that fatigue isn’t there, that i’m fine. then i over-do the work-flow and under-do the self care practices. i skip lunch or work through half the night. while my work gives me energy, avoiding meals and sleep isn’t sustainable for any of us.

And I love to dream big. i dream often, setting those hopes and dreams to paper, object, word, art. i put them into flames and let the smoke carry them to the grandmothers. i ask for help. dreaming big these days, i’m aiming to spread the word about the work i do in the world and tell others why i do what i do and what i believe it can do for the world. i make art to care for my sacred soul. i make art that is made to care for others through rituals of healing, receiving care and love, and to release what is carried that no longer needs to be. my wisdom cards are shared from me to you through social media and in my wee etsy shop and Silver Tree Art studio in Ginter Park. those soul seeds of wisdom cards are then carried to our tribes in times of loss, celebration, when cancer shows up, and when we need to be reminded we are beautiful and so, so very loved. my candles and sacred strikes are shared in much the same ways. my prints aim to add delight.

When I started moving from purely abstract into integrating the wisdom I was hearing, I found my art rooted in a place of growth. My art began to grow as I gave myself permission to use the materials I loved the most, watercolors.

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The art went deeper as I gave myself permission to trust my intuition and combine ink and pencil into my work. If I did all this in secret, i would be fed. I’ve chosen to share through my blog(s) and social media over the years. Sharing helps me to expand my heart and my art. I love hearing the stories of others who tell me that I made the piece for them, that the message or image spoke to them in a particular way. I believe that’s part of the art-making. The art is something and the sharing and seeing is another art form.

i am an artist, mother, and minister living an intentional life toward wholeness, kindhearted listening, and compassionate care. when i listen to myself and those i trust in the tribe that encircles me, i hear that i am a loving mother who has banked really good times and when i am the too-tired-to-say-the-right-thing-first mama, i slow down and show some forgiveness where needed, asking forgiveness when necessary. i am a mother of two very sweet souls whose lives i’m thrilled to witness unfold. one is 10.75 and the other 3.5. each adds wonder, delight, and levity on the best days. my partner in life is my one-and-only-true-love who i’ve been married to for 13 years. he’s my grounding and my joy. my love for my love deepens in our growing together. as an artist, i create soul wisdom art, which is art that is meant to deepen your experience of life, delight and connection. as a minister, i gather women around the table in circles, mini-retreats, and retreats where we experience ritual, healing, rest, and the creative flow as kindred spirits. my gatherings are said to be “life giving” where “you leave more rested than you walked in” and you experience synchronicity, self care, and a deep soul exhale. i also love the opportunities i am given speak and facilitate retreats, conferences, and gatherings.

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I’ve always been a creator from my earliest days of mudpies, and grass and blooming soups in rain water. I’d paint or color and play, play play. I loved 4H as an avenue of exploring through travel, conversation, and the work of my hands. My education was at a private liberal arts school in MS in business education and a master of education in guidance and counseling, then a master of divinity studies and post grad coursework in bereavement care and chaplaincy. I was a minister in the church in some form from the time I was in my early 20’s. Before that, I babysat for families and sold plants at a nursery, which carried me through college. during my first masters and undergrad, I worked within the laboratory preschool at the college – cooking and teaching in the afternoons. I loved gathering the art supplies and creating projects for the 3, 4, 5 year olds to create. I loved it all.

My calling expanded from the time I was 16 until now. Before selling art, I ministered in church, facilitated bereavement groups before moving more into chaplaincy. Then my call reached for a space of my own, and I moved into the studio space so I could welcome groups into my own space rather than relying solely for contract work. I’ve always had a short-term contract outside the studio space to work with folks in group facilitation or chaplaincy. Now I am relying upon the intersection of art and spirituality, the healing work of gathering women together, and showing up for speaking engagements, retreats, and groups and believing something wonderful happens when we’re sharing the same air and space for a period of time.

my business is silver tree art where i make art, lead mini-retreats and gatherings in the studio, as well as travel to lead retreats for organizations, non-profits, and churches. i specialize in working with groups who seek healing, wholeness, and slowing down.

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my studio is painted “reflection pool” blue with accents of red, brown, and black. there are 5 large windows and windowed closets. you feel like you’re in a tree house, looking out among trees and rooftops. Within the walls of the studio, there are turquoise ball jars filled with buttons, baskets upon baskets of rik rak, ribbon, paper, paints, and fabrics. the studio functions as retail space, gathering space, and in-action-artist-studio space. after moving into the space, I had 12 or so women gathered around the studio tables for a studio blessing. since then the birthday celebrations and mini retreats continue to bless the space. when you walk in, it’s a wonderland of creativity and visual delight. it’s an artist’s treasure box.

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in my studio i hold an evening creativity circle mini-retreat where women gather around the table for a small fee ($40) for just over 2 hours. we have a light snack, a 10-12 minute guided meditation of my creation, a creative project, and conversation woven with poetry and readings. each gathering is unique in theme.

walking you through a mini-retreat :: when you gather at the table, you are greeted with opening words from a poem, a time to light candle(s), and a time to pause and consider what you hope for. we begin with deep breathing and guided meditation as we move into our time of retreat. deepening the relaxation, we create together, with a project suzanne leads us into from the guided meditation. everyone, at every comfort level of creativity from none to great, feels comfortable diving into the creative play. conversation, readings, and poetry and questions are interwoven during our creative play. what is shared is sacred and just right for the evening gathering. you’ll leave more relaxed than you entered, with more energy and care to share with those in your world. there’s magic, too, along with the mystery and soul work that is best experienced than explained.

i also offer private gather your tribe mini-retreats, birthday celebrations, and day long or overnight retreats for groups. i’m available for speaking engagements and workshops as well. my art is made available through silvertreeart.etsy.com.

Micah 6:8 has been especially close to my heart for many years, and I have finally made it art that I keep near.

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Growing into a woman, Proverbs 3:5-6 was always in my pocket. So many verses have been underlined and written over the years.

I especially love stories from the Hebrew Bible. There is such rich imagery and lessons throughout – and humor. I love the humor infused in Scripture as much as I love the Wisdom throughout.

My favorite materials include:

Medium Rollerball Pens
Koi Pens
Fluid 100 cold press watercolor paper
no 2 round princeton select brush
escoda prado watercolor brushes

oil pastels

Bristol Strathmore Smooth

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Tombow pens from Japan

 

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Schmincke Watercolors

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Getting to Know Paper Pieces

My daughter asked me to make a Bible for her.  So we went to Lifeway and she picked out a journaling Bible with a bird on the cover, and she said, “Mom, I want bird stickers for my bird Bible.”  Shortly after she made the request, Illustrated faith came out with a new set of Bible Journaling supplies called “Seeds of Faith” filled with bird and nature images.  I had a 25% off coupon and I bought the whole collection from Dayspring.  The collection includes a box of little paper pieces, just small cut-out illustrations with a Bible verse on the back.  I’ve never really known what to do with these.  They tend to sit in my drawer, so I challenged myself to use the WHOLE box!!!  I journaled all of the passages on the backs of the pieces.  (I also used transparency pieces, stickers, and stamps with the paper pieces.)

I wish I could begin to describe how these little paper pieces ministered to me.  I’ve learned so much from these little birds about singing, weathering life’s storms, taking refuge in God, trusting in God’s provision, learning from God’s ways, flying free, and enjoying friendship.  It’s been a fun journey!  I’m so grateful to my daughter for the inspiration and Illustrated Faith for the the most random and fun Bible study ever.

So many people say that they don’t know where to begin.  A box of paper pieces is a good place to start!

What they are:  Little illustrated pieces of paper.

Why they are great for Bible Journaling:  They are flexible, cute, and fun.  Unlike stickers, you can glue down just part so that the rest of the picture can be lifted.  You can also let part of the paper piece hang off the side or the top to use as a tab.

Page Prep Needed:  None

Ideas:  It’s fun to add color to the page first with washi tape, acrylic paint, Distress Inks or gelatos.

The big question for me with paper pieces is what’ the best adhesive?  Really you can use any adhesive that you would use with paper crafts:  Tape runners, double sided tape, or glue sticks.  Scor-Tape is nice double-sided tape because you can tear it to size with your fingers.  My very favorite adhesive to use with paper pieces is the Xyron sticker maker, which is a little tape role that applies a sticky back to any small piece.

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I especially liked using the Xyron sticker maker with the transparency pieces.  You just drop the piece in one side and pull the tape through the other.  It comes out with an invisible, perfectly smooth layer of adhesive.  After I tried this, I haven’t really gone back to other adhesives unless the piece was too big.  Then I personally prefer to use a glue stick.

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After applying adhesive, you just add the little piece to your Bible page…

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One of the first pages, I did in my daughter’s new Bible has the words “With my song I will praise him.”  I always hope that my life story will sing praise to God (even if my daughter wants to cover her ears when I sing!)

I found that the paper piece looked a little flat against the Bible paper, so I added some color by backing it with a small piece of scrapbooking paper.  I used washi tape to attach the transparency page that matched the verse.  My daughter delights in how the transparency lifts up and changes the appearance of the page.

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Some of the Illustrated Faith pieces have Bible verses on the back of them that make me wonder:  “What were they thinking?”  This little bird tab had printed on the backside “Isaiah 38:7”:  “When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”  I wasn’t quite sure how to make this work, but I was inspired to create singing stars and little birdies as the sons of God shouting:  “Be joyful!”  For the tab piece, I used a glue stick to make the tab sticky and folded it over.

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Another tab piece suggested Psalm 96:1.  This page came together very quickly with stickers and just a little writing.  I love that God encourages us to “Sing a new song.”  We don’t have to do things the way we’ve always done them.  We can can look to the future and move forward in new ways, even better ways.

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The next few passages are more about times of trouble.  Here’s a good reminder for times when we feel misunderstood or unfairly criticized.  I used the back side of one of the tip-ins for a quick backdrop (that also covered up some bad shadowing!)

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This next page took me totally by surprise.  I picked up a little piece of paper shaped like a branch that led me to Job 29:18:  “Then I thought I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand, my roots spread out to the waters, with the dew all night on my branches.”  As I read the text around the verse, it was Job defending his life, his hopes, his dreams.  Here was a man who truly kept the faith, but everything went wrong for him.  I was looking through my stamp collection for a nest stamp.  Instead, I found a “crown of thorns.” I was moved to tears thinking how Job’s nest turned into a crown of thorns for him and I prayed for those facing challenges and heartaches within their families and their homes.  Job tries to understand and cries out:  “Where shall wisdom be found?  And where is the place of understanding?”  There are times in life where what we want more than anything is to understand “why?” and we would prefer a good answer to all the riches in the world.  In those moments, we have to look to Christ and know that the son of God, too, had his thorn of crowns and suffered much so that we all could be in relationship with His father.

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Here’s another sad bird; she went out in search of dry land after the 40 day flood, but couldn’t find a place to rest her feet.  As I looked at this little bird returning to Noah, I was reminded that just because a storm has past doesn’t mean we feel better immediately.  It takes some time to recover, to feel like we are on solid ground again.

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As I illustrated the next verse, I found myself focusing on the word wait.  So often when I read this famous passage from Isaiah, I want to be in the place of soaring like an eagle, but the passage really calls us to be patient, to wait on God, and to walk with God…

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The next paper piece took me to Jeremiah 1:11.  Jeremiah receives a sign from God.  It’s just an almond branch and the only purpose of the sign seems to be to make sure that Jeremiah sees it.  Reading this page I felt encouraged, knowing that long before we were born God knew us and loved us into being.  God has a plan for our life.

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I guess the next passage is for the worst of times, when death comes.  I was touched by these words: “For the one who has died had been set free from sin.”  I suppose all of us are set free from all the sins and sorrows that afflicted us in life through death.  I was reminded of the song:  “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.”  But here’s the true power of Jesus:  Through Christ, we can live in hope now with joy and love in the midst of all our troubles.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly!

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God reminds us through the Psalms that during life’s storms we can take our refuge in Him.  My daughter liked this page just as it was.  Maybe some day we will add some journaling.

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And also that even as we take refuge in God, we should still keep singing.

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If we take refuge in Him, we will set us free:  “The Lord answered me and set me free.  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”

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We all need this reminder:  “Consider the lilies.”  I’ve always taken this verse to heart at least when it comes to clothes.  God has always met my need for clothes in fun ways. Both my mother and mother-in-law give me clothes.  I have the most beautiful cashmere coat that I found at a little thrift store near my house for $10.  I always receive nice complements on the coat and I just smile and say, “It was a gift.”  (From God!)  The funniest thing to ever happen to me:  Right before my family took a trip to Disney world, we received a package by mistake from the Disney store with two hoodies just the right size for my kids, but with embroidered with different names.  They said either keep the jackets or give them to charity.  We put buttons over the random names, and I took the whole experience as a”god-wink.”  I had been really worried/stressed about the trip for a variety of reasons, but after this I felt peace.  Those little moments help me to know that God will always provide for me.  I had to add the cute little strip of birds to this page, too, with the verse:  “Fear not little flock!”  But like many people, I still get anxious about other areas of life, often things I can’t even control.

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The following paper piece with a butterfly took me to Proverbs 23:5:  “Cast but a glance on riches and they are gone for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky.”  I had to really ponder this verse.  What I’ve learned through the years of working with both people and money is that there a lot of wisdom in not toiling to acquire wealth.  It’s far wiser to simply live well, but always within your means; spend money in a way you can sustain (not too little or too much–both can be a problem); and invest savings for the long-term so time does the work for you.  There is a flow when it comes to money that just needs to evened out both in the short-run and the long-run.  My daughter liked the dollar bill with wings!

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Another verse about God’s provision:  “Even the sparrow finds a home.”  I love Psalm 84.  Sometimes people worry that a sticker or stamp can only be used with one verse, but I’ve found that themes recur throughout the Bible.  This seemed like a good place for another reminder:  “You are worth more than many sparrows.”  This is a beautiful promise:  “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

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And of course, it’s fun to put a paper piece right next to the verse it belongs:

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Not only are we worth many sparrows, but we are loved by God!!!

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This paper piece led me to the Exodus story:  “In the evening quail came up and covered the camp and in the morning dew lay around the camp.”  I was reminded of the curious ways that God provides for us and in this passage how he tested the people to see if they could learn to trust in Him.  God provided exactly what they needed for each day, no more and no less, except on the day before the people were to rest.  Then they got extra.  I had fun with the little quail stamp from an Illustrated Faith Christmas set.

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Again, I had a hard time putting this paper piece with the verse. The heart with the words “Be joyful” led me to the story of Melchizedek, the high priest, serving bread and wine to Abraham. Is the message here that one serving of the body and blood of Christ was enough to sustain a family and people through generations until Christ came and offered these gifts to us in the sacrament of Holy Communion?  Sometimes its hard to read stories from the Old Testament without seeing them through the lens of the New!  I’m guessing this was not the original intention of the author, but I still came away from this page with a reminder to be joyful in worship and grateful for the gift of communion.

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I wasn’t sure exactly where the little tree would lead me.  The verse on the back said:  “And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the Law of God.  And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.”  As I completed this page, I was touched that thousands of years after this event, the Bible and church are such a big part of my own life, too.  God provides for us through his Holy Word and through our community of faith.

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A little reminder that spending time in the Bible is a wonderful way to grow.  The Word helps us to be like trees planted by a stream of water, continually renewed and refreshed.

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The next page is really simple.  I was totally smitten with this little flying bird.  It is the reason I ordered a Xyron because I really wanted to find a way to attach the transparent piece to the page.  We can all learn a lot from the birds about sticking to the natural rhythms of life.

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The little bird below led me to Psalm 119:45:  “I shall walk in a wide place for I have sought your precepts.”  As we grow in our understanding of the Word, we grow in wisdom and influence, too.  We walk in wider places than we could ever have imagined.

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I have never journaled Proverbs 31 before.  Its one of those passages that looms large in my life as the kind of person I want to be:  a good wife, someone that can be trusted, someone who brings good and not harm to others, hard-working, resourceful, prudent and wise with money, strong, generous, aware of the needs of my family ahead of time, clothed with dignity, fearless, able to laugh at the time to come, wise and kind, and I want my children to see me be happy.  These are beautiful images; Am I the only woman who finds this passage a little intimidating?  Can I say high expectations?

I used acrylic paint as a backdrop for this flower bouquet.

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Little birds and butterflies speak to us of freedom.  The butterfly picture below took me to John 8:35.  I was reminded that we aren’t meant to stay forever in some situations.

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I loved this reminder from Galatians:  “For freedom Christ has set us free.”  Sometimes there are things that weigh us down or start to feel heavy, but we have been made to fly.  We need to lay our burdens down and when we do, we will surely wonder why it took us so long to do so.

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Still in Galatians thinking of freedom and love:  this little paper piece was too big for my margins, so I used washi tape to attach it as a tip-in.

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Acts reminds us that Christ has freed us from everything about the law that felt heavy.  We still have the wisdom to guide us, but we aren’t chained to the past.

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This is one of those verses that I may not have otherwise focused on:  in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Ephesians 3: 12)  St. Paul’s writing is so packed with verses that I could meditate on all day and all night that its easy to miss a piece of encouragement that doesn’t just immediately speak to me.  As I spent time with this verse, I was so encouraged by the reminder that we can be bold in Christ Jesus and that we always have access to Him with confidence through faith.  I was quite cheered by the bold, little toucan!

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Many birds are social creatures, and they remind us that we really do need each other.  This verse is so true:  Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.  Friendship is one of life’s best gifts.

And of course, Jesus is the ultimate sharpener and best friend.  It is always good to be in his presence.

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The pages above and below remind me of a poem I learned from my grandmother:

A Priceless Gift

by Helen Steiner Rice

Friendship is a priceless gift
That can’t be bought or sold,
But its value is far greater
Than a mountain made of gold.

For gold is cold and lifeless,
It cannot see nor hear,
And in your times of trouble,
It is powerless to cheer.

It has no ears to listen,
No heart to understand.
It cannot bring you comfort
Or reach out a helping hand.

So when you ask God for a gift,
Be thankful that he sends,
Not diamonds, pearls, or riches,
But the love of a real, true friend.

In life, it is good to have friends:  “Two are better than one.”  It’s just good to know that we have someone to catch us when we fall and be there to share life’s ups and downs.  (I used two paper pieces on this page, just because I messed up a stamp and used the scrap booking paper to cover up my mistake!)

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It’s also possible to make your own paper pieces.  I printed out the Bible verse for the last paper piece on cardstock and used clear scrapbooking glue to attach it to the transparency paper.  We are free in Christ, but we are freed for God’s purposes, so that we can love and serve one another through the every day ordinary duties of our lives.  Through it all, love endures.

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Feeling so grateful for this little journey led by paper pieces, for Illustrated Faith and the ways that they have opened up Scripture, and for my sweet daughter who inspired me to go on this bird-themed journey!