As I've shared in several previous posts, I enjoy wool appliqué projects, and I enjoy projects that I can easily tuck into a purse or tote bag to have on hand when I travel. For this month, I thought I would share a couple of small projects that I have complete - one more recently and one a while back. These little mats measure about 8.5 inches across and are "penny mats."
I've come to learn that penny mats aren't necessarily a receptacle for pennies. The name refers more to the size of wool pieces that were originally used to make these mats. According to several folk art-type sites, penny mats date back to about the time of the United States' Civil War. Resourceful homemakers would save even small wool scraps and then sew coin-size pieces together to make decorative mats for their homes. Here is an example of what some of these pieces might have looked like. The person creating the penny mat could stack pieces together and add some decorative stitching.
The pieces could then be sewn to a canvas or burlap back to create a decorative piece that could be used in the home. Here are examples of two different penny mats.
So, back to my two penny mats. Here are a couple of close up pictures. I've placed a few pennies on one of them in part so that you can get a sense of the scale of the wool pieces and in part to keep with the theme of penny mats and penny for your thoughts. Believe it or not, I really do enjoy working with these small pieces of wool, and projects like these are a great way to use leftover scraps from other projects.
Which brings us to the topic of thoughts …
The expression "penny for your thoughts" supposedly dates back to 1535 in England. A paraphrase of the original Old English is as follows, "…when people notice that someone appears disengaged and wish them to rejoin the conversation they ask, 'a penny for your thoughts.'"
Over the past few years, I've found myself contemplating the role of the mind more and more in relation to the Christian walk. So often we think about the role of the heart with an eye to love and compassion. At the same time, both the Old and New Testaments speak to the role of the mind.
Paul's letter to the Philippians reminds us that God's peace guards our hearts and our minds. Peter tells us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ - growing in knowledge certainly involves the use of the mind. David, in Psalm 1 describes the one who doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked as one who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates in it day and night.
A verse that has become particularly intriguing to me is in Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth in which he speaks of "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." So then, just what does it mean to take thoughts captive? If we back up a few verses in 2 Corinthians 10, we find that Paul is reminding the church not to walk according to the flesh, that our weapons are not of the flesh, and that we are destroying speculations and lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God - seems somewhat reminiscent of Paul's reminder to the Ephesian church to take up the full armor of God and that their struggles were not against flesh and blood.
So then, how are we to take thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ? From a purely practical standpoint, I don't think Paul intends for us to think of nothing else during the course of the day - I do need to give attention to making sound decisions while on the road, decide what to fix for dinner, choosing an outfit for the day - you get the idea.
That being said, do we have occasion to keep thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ even in these situations? For example, what is my attitude towards the other drivers on the road, what is my attitude in serving my family, what are my motives in choosing what to wear? Where might I give the flesh an opportunity, even in these day-to-day situations?
Some other points to consider in keeping thoughts captive to obedience …
- How am I "feeding" my mind during the day - what am I allowing to distract me and consume my thoughts and time that keep me away from God and meditating on His word?
- What are my thoughts toward others with whom I disagree or become easily annoyed?
I certainly don't claim to have all of the answers here, and I am certainly on the journey here as well. I do desire that my thoughts be pleasing to God and that I continue to grow in the knowledge of Him.
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5