Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SoulPerSuit Site

Sometimes new ideas are as close as the stuff we peruse frequently. When was the last time you spent some time wandering around the SoulPerSuit web site? For a detailed, illustrated explanation of how SoulPerSuit (SPS) works, click here. For some free art tips, click here. For the gallery of creations from the Mocha on the Mount study, click on the pictures here. Send your own creations, questions, or comments here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Am Not God

That may not come as a shock to you but it was a revelation to me today.

I began Week 4 of Premium Roast with Ruth during lunch. After reading chapters 3 and 4, Sandi asks: What details in the Book of Ruth encourage you to trust God more fully?

I had to really work through this question because, at first, I really didn't see anything encouraging.

Ruth is wonder woman! She's young, she's strong, she's healthy. There's no information about her thoughts or feelings. She doesn't appear stressed, tired, lonely, discouraged, home sick, depressed, resentful, or angry. I'm not Ruth and I don't ever foresee being like her. Who can, is what I want to know. This is not encouraging.

There are a lot of "coincidences" in Ruth. God's timing and handy work is obvious. The conflict appears to be that Naomi says she's empty. Then in four short little chapters, Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz's lives are turned happily ever after. Naomi is no longer in fear of starvation, Ruth has security, and Boaz has a hot wife. Full. But the message isn’t that things always turn out happily ever after because sometimes they just don't. Will I see a happy ending to my conflicts?

  • I read one time where a woman prayed everyday for years so that a relative might be saved and they were. I haven’t prayed everyday for my father. I’ve gone through periods of discouragement and given up. Now I have guilt.

  • I’m waiting for approval from the insurance company to have some surgery. There are dozens of factors involved. Will the approval come through and in time? If I don’t call the doctor’s office and insurance company every week it won’t move forward.
Do you see my god-complex?

It appears that not only can I save marriages and souls, but I can also speed up insurance claims!

I seem to believe that if I do the exact right thing I generate sovereign power. By doing or saying the exact right thing I can manipulate the universe to heal disease, reconcile relationships, and unite you with the Creator.

How’s this working out for me? Not so much.

So how does the Book of Ruth encourage me to trust God?

Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz didn’t try to make anything happen. They just did what was within their power to do. They loved, learned, and lived.

Today I invoke heaven and earth as a witness against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live! I also call on you to love the Lord your God, to obey him and be loyal to him, for he gives you life and enables you to live continually in the land the Lord promised to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. –Deuteronomy 30:19-20

God is the one with the plan. And you know what? It’s working out perfectly.

That’s encouraging.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


My three prize-drawing assistants just pulled these names out of the batch:

Heather Diane Tipton
Carla Stewart

Please E-mail me at soulpererin@yahoo.com to select your coffee cuff style and arrange shipping details.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Beginning at the Ending

Ruth 1:3–5 Sometime later Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, so she and her two sons were left alone. So her sons married Moabite women. (One was named Orpah and the other Ruth.) And they continued to live there about ten years. Then Naomi’s two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, also died. So the woman was left all alone—bereaved of her two children as well as her husband!

A friend asked me, “If you could write a novel on any subject, what would it be?” I told her I would someday love to know enough about the ancient Near East to write a fictionalized account of the life of Ruth of Moab. I’d start with her childhood in Chemosh-worshipping* territory, cover her interracial and interfaith marriage, her ten years of infertility, the loss of her husband and his relatives, her conversion, her struggles with an initially ungrateful mother-in-law, her marriage to old-guy Boaz, relations with her new ex-hooker mother-in-law (Rahab), the coronation of her great grandson, David, and her relationship with his wife, Bathsheba. But, I told my friend I’m afraid it might not have enough drama.

You don’t actually have to be an expert in ancient Near Eastern history and customs to get a handle on Ruth’s story. In Ebony Moon, Dallas Seminary professor Dr. Reg Grant reset the story in modern West Texas. When I picked up Reg’s book, I didn’t know he was telling Ruth’s story. So I read away about this family of couples, and just about the time I grew to care for all the characters, Reg killed off the father-in-law and both of his sons. I thought perhaps Reg needed some help learning to craft a novel. Nobody starts a book by having half the main characters die! What if Little Women started with Beth and Meg croaking? If "Star Wars" began with the deaths of Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi? Not a chance.

Yet about the time the sister-in-law caught a Greyhound out of town in Reg’s tale, I slapped my forehead. He’s recast the story of Ruth! I realized I’d shoved Reg into a novel-writers’ box. Sometimes good stories—the best stories—start with authors breaking the rules. The story recorded in the Book of Ruth starts with loss upon loss. Consider what we find in the first few verses of chapter one. There was a famine in the land of Judah. This couple leaves “the house of bread” (Beth-lehem) to find bread elsewhere. The irony! Imagine walking into the grocery story and finding every aisle empty. It’s hard for most in the West to imagine the fear and pain of going hungry with no prospect of a full stomach.

A man from Bethlehem in Judah went to live as a resident foreigner. How desperate would we have to be to move to another land to quell our hunger?

His two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. We may find it difficult to see the loss here until we know “Mahlon” means unhealthy or sickly and “Chilion” means puny or weakly.

Sometime later Naomi’s husband Elimelech died. Easy to see the loss there.

Her sons married Moabite women. Naomi’s sons married outside of the faith. How would you feel if that happened to you?

They continued to live there about ten years. Though Naomi waited a decade, her sickly sons never announced “You’re going to be a grandma!”

Naomi’s two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, also died. Losing spouse and children, plunging you into abject poverty? Does it get any worse than that?

T. S. Eliot, the Nobel-Prize-winning poet wrote, “The end is where we start from.” Naomi’s life looks like it has ended, for all intents and purposes. What does she have to live for? Yet if you’ve read the story you know that her ending is only her beginning. Certainly, these “ends” at the beginning of the story paint a backdrop against which to view Ruth and Naomi getting a new start. And by chapter four we have a happy ending.

What difficulties are you or your loved ones facing? What heartbreak haunts you? It may look as if all hope is lost, as though God has abandoned you, like the Almighty One has plotted to ruin you. Yet with God such hopeless-looking circumstances can mark the start of beginnings that are far beyond what we can imagine.

Can you trust that what looks to you like an ending may be the beginning of something great?

*Chemosh: god of the Moabites.

Excerpted from Premium Roast with Ruth, by Sandra Glahn. Used by permission of AMG Publishers, © June 2007. All rights to this material are reserved.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Giveaway: Coffee Cuffs

Christmas Coffee, EuroChic, Raspberry Ice

We at SoulPerSuit like to give away a little something every once in a while to kick off a new on-line Bible Study group. I missed our group kick-off for Premium Roast with Ruth, and now we're halfway through an interesting look at Ruth, Boaz and Naomi, but I'm here and ready to gift you faithful blog readers and SoulPerSuiters.

Above, you will see one of the projects that has kept my fingers busy and out of trouble all summer long. Welcome to my creative outlet... coffee cuffs.

Of course, you are automatically thinking to yourself, "Hey, those coffee cuffs remind me of the Sandra Glahn Bible Study series that SoulPerSuit uses in their on-line groups- the Coffee Cup Series." Coffee cuff. Coffee cup. You're automatically thinking it. Like automatic drip coffee.

This is your opportunity to win yourself (or someone you love- Christmas is coming up ya know) one of said coffee cuffs. If you don't like coffee, think of these as herbal tea cozies, or hot chocolate snugglies. Any cup of piping hot steaminess would taste soooo much more chic and fun with one of these. And, they're also a perfect compliment to Sandi's great books.

We'll have THREE winners on this one. And (bonus) each of the winners will get to choose from the following cuff styles:
-Christmas Coffee: I made this from some 1970's era Christmas fabric my mom gave me. Santas, holly, wreaths, bells... Paired with gold thread and accenting green fabric.
-Euro-chic: Black and white. High contrast. Citified and sleek. Sometimes there's a touch of pink, sometimes it's just ebony and ivory. Each cuff in this series has some kind of cool action up around the top- fancy yarn, beading, some kind of little touch that just screams "STYLE."
-Raspberry Ice: I took the scraps of raspberry colored snowflake fabric (which I fell in love with and used to make my daughter's Christmas stocking 7 years ago) and worked all the other fabrics around the raspberry color. Light blue flannel from a baby blanket, blue gingham my grandmother gave me before she passed away, kitchen curtains from the 40's. These cuffs are cozy and homey. I love 'em.

All you have to do to win one is this: leave a comment describing your perfect cold weather drink. What nectar of the gods will you be wrapping this cuff around, should you win?

My own Ruth, Naomi and Orpah will draw three names and we'll post the winners here on 10/22. That's one week. Tell your friends. Or... don't tell 'em. More coffee cuffs for you. ;)

Mechanic Man

This just in... for the men out there, and for the women that have men in their lives, I also have these Mechanic Man coffee cuffs to choose from. (Don't let all the girl-yness above to scare you off.)
These cuffs are made with black denim and a complimenting red, gray and black swoosh fabric. Looks like someone squealed their tires all over the thing. And it reverses to a completely jet black cuff for no nosense. No beads on these tough guys, just a cool ragged edge all the way around. Because, of course, that's what happens when race cars squeal their tires all over something. If you have- or are related to- testosterone, enter this giveaway.

*For the record, I'm a Mocha lover.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Earth Art

The earth is the LORD's, and all it contains, The world, and those
who dwell in it.
--Psa. 24:1

(Click here to check out more NASA photos in the public domain.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Block Wall Posters

BlockPosters is a free site where you can upload a photo and turn it into a wall poster that you can print out.

The tool has a lot of flexibility built in. In step two of the process you select the size the poster will be by selecting the size of paper you'll be printing on, whether the sheets are printed portrait or landscape, and how many sheets wide you want it to be. The final result is a PDF document that you download and print.

Of course, MyGeek found this site. We have a friend who uploaded a precious black and white picture of his two sons and printed it on really nice photo paper. It's the main feature in their living room and it's fabulous. Look through the gallery to see some of the other creative ways people have used this tool.* Can you imagine blowing one of your SPS cards up to poster size!?

*Please respect copyright.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Graduate Level Coloring

I know that many SoulPerSuit participants, or would-be participants, do not think of themselves as artists. The creative aspect of SoulPerSuit strikes fear in many a heart.

So I thought perhaps I'd give you a little inside information... sometimes you can just let the medium (that's art talk for the "stuff" you use to make your creation- crayon, colored pencil, paint, glue, photographs, etc.) do the work FOR you.

Here's a great example, a SoulPerSuit card I made for our recent study on the book of Esther.

I began with a black and white drawing.
This is a drawing of a tomato. Think of a kid's coloring book.

Set of 12
Then I got out our small set of watercolor pencils. I truly think these are God's gift to the creative world. These little puppies are the key to what I'm about to show you. They are not terribly expensive, and you can do so many different things with them. Things that look really sharp and make you look like you've got a Master's Degree in Studio Art. ;) Look for these pencils in arts and crafts stores, or on-line art suppliers like Dick Blick.
Love 'em. Love 'em!

Again, think of a kid's coloring book.
I used a red watercolor pencil for the tomato, and a green watercolor pencil for the stem and leaves. Super easy. Just like being back in 2nd grade.

Here's a fuller shot of the tomato plant. I got a little fancy and colored a tiny tomato like it was still ripening. But basically, I used red and green pencils all the way through.

This pic shows the blue curlicue I added in the air behind the tomato plant, trying to make some sky. What I want to point out is the texture in that curlicue... part of it looks like it's been done in pencil, part looks like it's a watercolor.

This is the trick-
Binney & Smith Crayola® Better Quality Watercolor Brush Series 1121, 6, Hair Length 11/16"
my daughter's paintbrush. After using the watercolor pencils to fill in this black and white picture like a coloring book (and the pencils allow for a lot more control over where the color goes than a paintbrush does), I dipped the brush in clear water and simply dabbed it on the colored areas then let the watercolor pencil melt and moosh into itself. This is what they are made to do.
Such a cool effect!

Here's a wider view of the curlicue.

And a view of the entire SoulPerSuit card, thus far.

After the watercolors dried, I went back with a fine line Sharpie marker and wrote some Bible verses that came to mind. You can write on watercolor pencils, paint over them, or scribble over the top with crayons They're very versatile.

The finished product.

All I really did was color between the lines and then dab over it with water. I let the medium do the work for me and it turned out quite nice, I think.

You've just earned your Master's Degree in Coloring.

*If you have questions about a particular artistic technique or medium, or would like to understand how a technique actually works, please leave a comment here and the research-and-development branch of SoulPerSuit will gladly attempt to hunt down the information. If we haven't tried it ourselves already, you can bet we'd really LIKE to.