I’ve been thinking for a while about God’s directive in Deuteronomy about keeping reminders about His commandments— “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” That directive is stated in chapter 6 and again in chapter 11. (It’s also echoed in the Shema, a Jewish prayer.) When God says something more than once—it’s a good idea to pay close attention. What’s important to note here is that God’s commandments are encompassing more than merely a set of rules; it’s about drawing nearer to the character and will of God. As I look around my home I notice how few reminders there are on my walls. My Bible is bursting with beautiful reminders as I open its pages allowing those words shine into my heart, but for being an artist and a designer…my home is embarrassingly void of God’s word on my walls.
Actually, the last few years my home has intentionally lacked much decoration. That’s partly for my husband and I acquiring a taste for minimalism and modern art, but it’s just as much or more to do with the number of times we’ve nearly moved for various jobs and opportunities. In that, we’ve regarded our current home as very temporary, feeling this sense that God was preparing us and that we’ve needed to be ready. Living that way makes it even more clear why God led the Israelites through the wildness in tents. They weren’t meant to get too comfortable; they were heirs (though not direct inheritors) of territory God had set for them that they hadn’t yet entered. Their eyes needed to stay fixed on what was ahead. Tents served their present situation as well as being a much bigger allegory to the very fleeting nature of life; because no matter how seemingly permanent (or how well decorated) your home is, none of it is something you can take with you. None of it. You’re moving someplace else!
I believe God is far more concerned with our hearts than the decorations in our homes, which is why the directive in those verses catches my attention. For all the external circumstances the Israelites were facing in context of those verses, in the midst of that God is encouraging His people to be intentional in posting reminders inside their homes. He knew his people needed something to pay attention to during seasons of waiting and shifting. Then and now God knows it’s not enough that we merely make a mental note. He’s directing us to remind ourselves beyond our good intentions and on into our bad days and hard days when those words might feel like only words. That’s the takeaway I’ve been pondering. A home that includes things that serve as reminders to illuminate our hearts is, in a sense, like adding windows that shine light inside our homes and ultimately into our very being. That speaks to my heart; does it speak to yours? On the days when the dust bunnies have formed another army, the dirty dishes are assembling a revolt, and baskets of laundry threaten to overcome our small, month-to-month rental apartment—even on those days when it seems far more practical to cry “Meaningless! Meaningless!” over the monotony of this trip around the sun, God knows our need for visible reminders of His new-every-morning mercies. The words that saturate our thoughts in our small moments are words that are nourishing or depleting our faith, which is why those words matter so much.
I remember in one of the art history classes I took in college, I studied instances where written words were in themselves a form of iconography that honored deity through art. Can you imagine if we acted likewise to that? I don’t mean words that are merely used as decoration; I mean words that saturate your being—words that find their way into your heart and mind and soul. What if we treated the words of life-and-love-breathed scripture with that kind of reverence in our homes? What if those life-giving words were on our doorframe and walls? What if we built altars to commemorate encounters with God like Abraham, Jacob, and Joshua did? Reminders like that are important. Thinking back to my own childhood, I recall a window cling with a Bible verse on it that ended out being posted on the kitchen window. It had come in the mail with something, which made it both convenient and affordable. More that than though, I remember that every time I washed my hands or washed dishes, there it was; and those words began to subtly soak into me.
Words can do that. For good and for bad, words can do that.
Because they can, the types of words we use matter. The words we tell ourselves and our loved ones within our walls and even behind closed doors matter, so it stands to reason that the words on our walls and “doorframes” matter, too. I’m sure you’ve heard of grade school children saying subjectively nice or nasty things to basil plants in the name of science (or rather, science fairs) to see how it affects plant growth, but have you heard of Emoto’s water experiments? It would seem that the water reacted to its positive or negative environment. Words have power. It’s reminiscent of something isn’t it? Per Proverbs 18:21, the words we speak into our world can speak life or death. In that, the words we speak of ourselves and the words we speak about others, have immediate and cumulative effects. What’s more, it’s unsettling to think what sort of repercussions that could have considering that human beings are composed largely of water.
Art is a great medium to start good conversation even without saying a word; it provides a surface to speak life. As an introvert and an artist, I admit I carry some bias here, but consider it. The moment someone walks into your home, the words on your wall can be a banner over your home proclaiming prayers spoken in those same walls. Spoken or written, the words in our homes say a lot. All those years ago, without even meaning to do so I was memorizing that scripture on the kitchen window.
Time, budgets, accessibility, good intentions that are put off till later—all those things can prevent us from posting those reminders. I’m so guilty of this myself. For all the art, design, jewelry, and other things I make, the things I often make the least are things for my own home and those who live in it (a work-worn habit I’m trying to break). When I heard about the 31 Days challenge over on Crystal Stine’s blog, I was instantly intrigued by the challenge. Thing is though, at first I wasn’t sure I had the time to pull it off let alone something to say for 31 whole days. I wasn’t sure what words I could offer or contribute. I suppose I’m turning this into a self-directed art challenge of sorts by doing this, but oftentimes art is how I speak. In that, I fancy the idea of being an echo; so, instead, I hoped to offer words of hope and faith and encouragement via something you can put up in your home. For 31 days (all of October), you’ll find a new post on this blog with a new set of printables and digital wallpapers. Because I hope these find their way into spaces that they can speak life and encouragement and blessing, I also fancy the idea of these words echoing in many, many homes.
If these free prints and digital wallpapers are a blessing to you in your home or on your techie devices, I’d consider it a huge blessing if you’d consider donating even a tiny, tiny mustard seed amount to refugees who need help. Donate, if you would, to Samaritan’s Purse at this link here. For all the ache that I confess my heart has felt over wanting to know which town, which state, which address would be mine, it can’t compare at all to the ache of what it would be to have to flee a home in fear.
Included in the download packages are printables in sizes 8×10, 5×7, and 4×6 as well as digital wallpapers meant for a computer desktop, iPad tablet, and iPhone mobile devices.
Download the Jeremiah 31:3b package of free printables and digital wallpapers here: Jeremiah 31:3b File Set
[Note: downloaded files, designs, and all content are © copyright Charm Design Studio, LLC. For personal—not commercial—use only. Use without permission is strictly prohibited. By downloading and/or using, you agree to these terms. For more on my policies, click here.]
I hope you enjoy these! If you use any of these—whether they be in a frame or on your fridge door—I’d love-love-LOVE to see photos. Tweet me pics @EclecticaBlog. Follow all the Write 31 Days posts on Twitter via the #write31days hashtag.