Gift #1080: Covenant with Adam

The very first covenant God makes takes place at the dawn of creation.  As the world is breathing its first breath, God makes a covenant with the creature into whom He has poured His own breath- Adam.  Indeed, Adam (and subsequently his descendants) was made expressly for this –  a sacred and everlasting relationship with His creator.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.  Gen 1:28-30

God’s first act of generosity was to bless His creation and to give charge of it to the first man and woman.  As they were created in His image, they were to be His care-givers over all He made and enjoy all the pleasures of their new home.  One translation says they were to “dress the garden”.  I love that imagery as the garden and the animals were something Adam and Eve were to tenderly love and care for so that all would flourish.  In Gen 2, a condensed summary of the creation account, we are also told of the condition of the covenant.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Gen 2:16-17

This covenant relationship was mutual – God was giving His creation and Himself to Adam and Eve, and to show their love for God, they were to obey His command.  But they did not.  Paradise was lost and the covenant was replaced with a curse.  Their relationship with God, with creation, with each other were fractured.  Their disobedience severed their connection with the Source of Life and death was the result, enslaving men and all of creation in its cruel grip.  But sin and death would not have the last word.  God left His promise that the curse would be reversed and the covenant kept, even though Adam could not keep it.  Thousands of years later, the Second person of the Trinity, the One who formed Adam in His image, would take on flesh and become the Second Adam.  Paul eloquently describes Christ’s role as the second Adam in one of my favorite passages of Scripture.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.   And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.  Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 5:12-21

I love the symmetry in this passage that mirrors the two trajectories that Adam and Christ have wrought on the world.  While Adam’s sin brought condemnation and death, Christ’s death brings justification and life.  Sin enslaves us, but Christ’s obedience frees us through grace: the dead come to life and the sinners become righteous.  C.S. Lewis referred to Christ’s fulfillment of the Adamic covenant as “treading Adam’s dance backwards”.  His act of obedience covers our disobedience and reverses the curse of sin.  In our world it often seems as if sin and destruction are the most powerful forces.  Even in examining my own heart I am overwhelmed by the degree of sin I find there.  But these verses are a hope and victory because they state that God’s grace is more than sin.  There’s no sin that hasn’t met forgiveness at the cross; there’s no power in sin that has not been vanquished by Christ’s obedience. And there’s no grave that has a tighter grip than grace.

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  Blessings to you,

Sarah

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GIft #1079: Heading towards Easter

I’ve been excitedly anticipating Easter for a long time and now it’s nearly here.  As early as January, I was thinking about what to blog about for Easter week in preparation of Resurrection Sunday.  At that time my church was starting a series on the importance of community and how we are made for relationship with God and with others.  As part of that introduction, my pastor mentioned how God made covenants with His people throughout history.  This was the primary way that God initiated and maintained relationships.  That got me thinking about the various covenants that God made, their purposes and promises, and how Christ fulfilled them all.  And that seemed like a wonderful theme to focus on during the week leading up to Easter.  So over this next week, we’ll take a look at each covenant God made in the Old Testament, its implications and promises, and its ultimate fulfillment.  It is God’s story told throughout history and I hope you’ll be blessed in being reminded again that God is the One who pursues and saves.

The journey begins tomorrow.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1078: A Sentimental Journey

Today we celebrate the 95th birthday of one of my favorite actresses.  Doris Day was one of the very first actresses that I remember and I adored her completely as a young girl.  She was a favorite of my Nana and she and I would watch lots of Doris Day’s films together when I spent the night.  It was our special activity we did together.  My Nana introduced me to a lot of the great films of the 30s-60s but the ones with Doris Day were my favorite.  I loved her spunk and happiness, the hilarious situations she would get into in her films, and of course, her voice.

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As I got older and learned more about Doris Day, I came to admire her for more reasons.  She was a woman of determination and courage – who faced disappointment and loss but did not let that define her.  I was surprised to learn that film had not been her first choice and that she had wanted to be a professional dancer.  But a serious car accident destroyed that dream.  As she recovered on bedrest, she listened to music and found a joy in singing.  In 1945 she recorded “Sentimental Journey”- her first big hit.  (It’s subsequently become one of my favorite songs of hers, though I still have a soft spot for Secret Love and By the Light of the Silvery Moon.)   She is also woman of great compassion and purpose and has worked tirelessly against animal cruelty for decades.  For these and so many other reasons, I have looked up to her and consider her a heroine on and off the silver screen.

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It’s tempting to watch her movies and reminiscence of a simpler time when life was full of tea and cakes and happy songs with no real troubles.  But to do so ignores the real impact of her life.  As I’ve grown up with her, I’ve come to realize hers is a deeper legacy.  It’s one of wrestling with personal pain and loss and of choosing joy in spite of it.  It’s of reaching for new dreams, finding passions that change the world, and using your voice to bring happiness and love to others.

 

Thank you for the sentimental journey of a lifetime Doris Day.  Thank you for influencing my life and being a wonderful role model for generations of women.  And Happy Birthday!!

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1077: March Art Bead Scene

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of March already!  Hopefully we’ve seen the last of freezing weather and can now enjoy the steady progression of spring.  Several recent events have occurred which have assured me we’re on the way 1) I’ve had a sinus infection 2) the tables and chairs have been restored to the outside courtyard at work (and a full 4 business days before usual!) I was so fortunate as to be able to eat outside yesterday 3) the hyacinths are up and the crabapple trees are starting to tinge pink with buds 5) the floral exhibits at the art museum are opening tomorrow with 5 special gardens making their debut and 4) birdsong has been filling the mornings.  I think there’s a nesting pair of doves that have made their home nearby as they’ve been spending lots of time on the deck and I’ve enjoyed their presence in the afternoons.

This month’s artwork will be my favorite of the year.  I don’t know what the rest of the year holds, but I can definitely say that nothing will top this for me:

Isn’t that beautiful?  I love everything about this so much – the birds and nests, the colors, the composition, the feel of the piece… wow!  This stunning painting is the work of Marianne North, a Briton of the Victorian age who lived something of a fairytale life.  At the age of 40, Marianne embarked on a series of explorations to paint the flora of the world.  Over the course of 13 years, Marianne traveled throughout North and South America, Asia, and Africa.  She staying with dignitaries and famous artists/scientists of the time, often remaining in a single country for over a year to learn its culture and the natural history.  At the end of her life, there were 832 paintings of birds, vegetation, flowers, and landscapes that chronicled her adventures.  These paintings are now housed at the Kew, where her works are on permanent exhibit at the North gallery.  She is the only woman whose works have been exhibited as a solo permanent gallery at the Kew.  In 2008 the Kew underwent an extensive restoration of her paintings and the gallery so they can be enjoyed for years to come.  This is definitely on my bucket list of places to see – I mean, Kew Gardens has been on it for a long, long time, but now to know that this artist’s work is there too – what a special experience it would be to see it in person!

I was very inspired by the artwork because I naturally gravitate to anything bird-related.   My first set of jewelry I call “Birdsong”

The necklace features an amazing polymer clay bird by Humblebeads – it’s one of her bramble bird collection.  I made a wire-wrapped nest with blue Czech beads as eggs, and also added an enameled leaf by Gardanne Beads.  I love the way the blue and yellow tones meld so nicely together.  Further up the chain I added a few more blue and yellow Czech beads and dangled a little feather.

The earrings are Czech beads with little brass feathers.

My second set is called “Nesting”

I used more Humblebeads in this necklace as well.  I wire-wrapped a nest around the large egg and added a disc beads and blue clay leaf to the nest.  A simple chain with tiny Czech glass flower finishes it off.

Earrings are made with Humblebeads birch disc beads and tiny brass nests from Vintaj.

I love the soft, spring hues of these pieces and the bird nest imagery.  It was a delight to create with this artwork and to learn about the remarkable woman who painted it.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1076: Floral Delight

Towards the beginning of the month my mom and I made a road trip to some of the towns in southern Indiana as part of our yarn crawl.  this is when all the yarn stores of the area hold a special events, sales, and prizes.  New patterns are debuted in a yarn that’s been dyed specially from the artwork of a native painter.  It’s a lot of fun – both browsing in all the shops and admiring the yarn, and also traveling around our state and enjoying the scenery and architecture of each town.

This particular Saturday afternoon found us in Nashville, IN at their sweet knitting store, the Clay Purl (I love that name).  I had been drawn there specifically to check out the pattern that they had made with the special-dyed yarn.  I had seen a teaser pic online and loved it.  After making the proper inquiries and putting in place steps to make the project (read, “I ordered the additional yarn needed and bought the pattern), we wondered around the rest of the town for a while before heading home.

While coming out of a garden shop, this brightly bloomed bush caught our eyes and we went over to inspect it.  I don’t remember ever seeing it blooming before and it was a delightful treat for our eyes!  Full of deep salmon rose blooms, it had enticed bees from heaven knows where to it and for a few minutes it looked and felt like spring.  The bush is a flowering quince, called “Cameo” and it reminds me of an old plant you would find around homestead gardens.  I like to imagine that it was planted there when the town was just starting to bustle with farms and gardens.

Quince are actually late-winter bloomers and come in a variety of colors.  They bloom early specifically to attract the bees attention and take claim exclusive rights on the honeybees’ pollination services since there are no other blooming plants at the time to distract them.  Clever quinces….  In a rather odd situation (and one I’m slightly embarrassed by) – I don’t recall having seen quince before.  I’m primarily acquainted with the name “Quince” because it is a brand of yarn that is highly sought after but hard to find.  Anyway, I thought it strange that in the search for yarn, I should be stunned  by the beauty of an actual quince bush (and not it’s wooly name-share).  It was quite a magical experience to delight in her shower of blooms with the honeybees in March.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1075: Orchid Fever

Hello everyone and welcome officially to spring.  Here in my neck of the woods, it’s spring in name only.  The outdoors hasn’t got the message.  Our blast of cooler weather continues and I walked outside today through the shredded, brown remains of what should have been our spring flowers.  I’m trying not to be bitter about this, but let’s just say my acceptance of the loss hasn’t been graceful.  I am grateful that it’s only been a few trees that had budded, so I hope that we’ll still have flowers later this spring.  Maybe even for my birthday next month!  Since I don’t have any spring pictures to show you, I’ve been reminiscing of the orchid exhibit – the bright colors and the warm greenhouses.  I’ll share some more photos of the beautiful plants they had to whet our desires for spring.

 

Earlier this week at work I went upstairs and found an orchid at home in a corner of the hallway.   I was so surprised to see one and delighted to find a friendly floral face.  That got me thinking about how it would be to have an orchid as a room-mate.  I think they would be pretty well-mannered, but I have my doubts as to how well they could tolerate without much sun.  Anyway, it was a pleasant thought to daydream of filling the house with them.  And how far I’ve come – from disliking the flowers to now wanting to own some.  Perhaps the great orchid fever still rages… (or it may just be a budding sinus infection, it’s hard to tell at this stage. Ha!)  Happy Spring all!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1074: Waiting

Well I’ve been a bit out of the blogging loop for a bit.  I guess it’s a case of writer’s block and being tired.  Half-formed ideas float around in my head – lots of them – but I’ve not been successful at having the energy to coalesce them into coherent thoughts and make proper posts of them.  It’s not for lack of material though.  These past weeks have been busy and full of exciting things.  After the visit to Spring Mill (I still have photos I’d like to share of that), I participated in a yarn crawl and visited several stores in the area.  During one of the road trips, my mom and I were able to visit an art gallery and see work from some of our favorite local artists.  I’ve also finished up a few knitting projects and started some new ones.  One of the shawls I completed was knit especially for the release of Beauty and the Beast and I wore it this afternoon to see the film.  I participated in a spring swap with an online group and made up a package that’s even now winging its way to the recipient in Canada.  I’ve been working on some jewelry designs inspired by spring and have just finished up an 8-week class on metal clay.

Hopefully I’ll be able to share more of these experiences on the blog soon.  Several of my recent activities have been spring-oriented.  Vernal equinox will be in just a few days.  For a while it looked like we would have an early spring.  We had a prolonged warm spell and many of the trees and flowers started budding.  Daffodils and crocuses lifted up their floral heads.  And (most dear to my heart) several of the magnolia trees grew fat buds that could no longer hold their beautiful blooms.  It seemed we would enter spring’s sweet dominion, but alas it was not to be.

Winter did not willingly relinquish its grip and we’re back in the throes of winter.  The fragile magnolia blooms are spoilt and brown and I’m so disappointed.  We lost them last year too.  Spring’s progress is arrested.  That doesn’t mean we’re without beauty – winter’s realm holds loveliness of its own.  If spring is beautiful for the return of color and life, winter is magnificent in its form and texture as if the world is frozen in sleep.

These are some photos I took at Spring Mill on our winter hikes.  Seed pods, spent flowers, acorns, moss, faded ferns… the forest has a share of winter treasures still to be admired.  And so, while we must wait for spring’s return, we can still find joy in the ordinary miracles at our feet.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1073: Hellebores Blooming

Happy March Everyone!  I’m delighted we’ve reached this milestone.  Usually January and February are very difficult months to get through.  However, this year the time has been passing so quickly it’s hard to believe the winter months are behind us.  Signs of spring are peeking out everywhere I look, and believe me, I’m looking.  I’m really excited for warmer days, sunshine, flowers, and being outdoors.  A few days ago I checked on the hellebores, and they are working their magic over the garden.

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And they are betwitching!  Some have already completely opened.  Others are still waiting to unfurl and the anticipation is more than I can take!  I’m ready to have the garden beds filled with their blooms.

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Most of the varieties in the garden are Pink Frost.  They are reliable and hardy and have done very well and they are the most commonly available.  However, there are a few special cultivars.  Ivory Prince was an acquisition last year and it is stunning.  When we bought it last year, it was already in bloom with cream flowers tinted lime green.  This is the first year we’ve seen new buds emerge and they are creamy with the edges gilded in magenta.

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I’m in love.  I’ve been watching the garden centers and our Krogers because they usually get a shipment of hellebores in late Feb/early March.  I’m pretty much of the opinion I’d like to have the entire yard devoted to hellebores.  Some might dream of retiring to run cattle on a ranch… I dream of growing hellebores on acres of woodlands.

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As the winter melts away into spring and the earth is reborn, these blooms hold all the promise of life and color and joy.  Welcome spring!!!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1072: Winter by the Lake

This weekend I went on a winter retreat to my favorite state park – Spring Mill.  My parents and I go down a couple of times a year to rest and remove from work and the rigors of daily living.  At the park during the winter we stay in the lodge, enjoy meals in the dining room, get toasty warm by the big fire in the open room, spend time knitting, and relish time outdoors.

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On this trip, we had some of the coldest days of the month and on Saturday it was too cold and windy for hiking.  Plus it was snowing.  So we spent most of yesterday driving around and getting out for quick stops.  Then the afternoon was spent knitting by the fire, which was luxurious.  The temps warmed up into the 40s today and it was sunny and not as windy, so we were able to hike.  One of my favorite hikes is around the lake.

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It’s a beautiful walk all year long, but I’m especially fond of it in late autumn and winter.  That’s when most of the foliage is fallen from the trees and the branches contrast elegantly against the slate blue water.  Seed pods stand as testament to the myriad of summer flowers that had graced this trail.  Although you can’t see it in these photos, signs of spring were all around.  I’ll share more pictures throughout the coming week.  In the meantime, enjoy these winter shots of the lake

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1071: Pets and Presidents

Today is President’s Day and it’s also National Pets Day!  I’m not sure how often those two coincide, as I’ve never heard of National Pet day before today.  I celebrated by observing both days simultaneously – watching a documentary on pets of the White House.  It’s a light-hearted look at the four-footed animals that have shared the most famous home in the country with their families.  The White House has hosted its fair share of unusual animals ranging from mules to alligators, elephants to guinea pigs, and a slew of dogs and cats.  Among my favorites are a flock of sheep that the Wilsons kept them as pets and as convenient lawn mowers.  They would also shear the sheep and send the wool to make the soldier’s uniforms during the war.   Another engaging pet was Rebecca the Racoon who was kept by Mrs. Coolidge.  They show a picture of her holding the raccoon in her arms.  You can tell the raccoon knows she’s got a sweet gig going.  Actually, she looks absolutely adorable and makes one want to try to hold the first raccoon one sees, which is not a good plan.

My favorite dogs are a tie – I’m very fond of Fallah, the Roosevelt’s little Scottie.  And Mrs. Beazley of the G.W. Bush (also a Scottie) is more cute than any dog has a right to be.  Apparently I have a soft spot for Scotties.  I love the way they trot along on little feet and the way their ears are so perky.

As I was thinking about pet day, it put me in mind of some cards I’d made a few months ago for Red Lead.  They had sent me some dog and cat stamps to make some cards for them.  I don’t usually make cards in this style, but it was fun to branch out and try something different.  I hope you enjoy these few in celebration of our furry companions that bring such joy to our lives.

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imageBlessings to you,

Sarah

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