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The Masterpiece

I asked my husband if I could share a devotional with his ministry Caregiver Community based on the prior month’s topic of emotions. He was gracious enough to okay it. I would like to encourage you with it as we start a brand new year.

 

I know emotions. I suffer from depression and anxiety issues. With that comes a tsunami of emotions anger, frustration, sadness, and dread. You name it I have experienced it. It also comes with the physical symptoms, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of breath, hyperventilation, heart racing and pounding, crushing chest pain and uncontrollable crying, and withdrawal.

 

For those of us who are Christians, we tend to put on our good Christian face. We are strong, we have it all together, we are the good Christian. Our faith is strong. Like these cylinders (vases) this is how we want others to see us. We try to come across okay, usable, colorful and beautiful.

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But reality feels like this failed thrown cylinder. It’s twisted, crushed, cut into. We feel ugly, of no value, no use, etc. I can fake it at times.  My quiet times can be non-existent at these periods. It’s not that I don’t want to, I can’t. The words on the pages of my Bible are like a blurred word search puzzle. I can’t focus It’s not right; it’s not wrong. It just is. Praise music becomes very important. The guilt that is added because of this is overbearing at times. The weight crushes me even more.

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Ephesians 2:10 states “For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry (workmanship)^ etched in lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus to accomplish the good works, God arranged long ago.” (The Voice)

 

Workmanship in the original language means poem, a work of art, a masterpiece. If you talk to an artist, they may tell you that their piece is an act of love, that comes from deep within them. It’s the same with us humans. I am, you are, created with a love that comes from the deepest part of God, His essence. I am, you are created after His image. (Genesis 1:7) This what makes us special than any other species.

 

The world defines a masterpiece in these terms

  1. Artistry – beauty
  2. Suggestive and imaginative
  3. Intellectual value – fundamental truth about life
  4. Permanence – endures through the ages
  5. Universality- appeals to a great number of people
  6. Style- an author’s unique way of expressing his thought.
  7. Spiritual – motivates and inspires.*

 

So how do the hardships of life, depression, sickness and all that comes with this, figure into us as a masterpiece?

 

Greg Laurie made this statement which I think explains it the best.

“masterpiece…it is a word that speaks of something that is perfect. It carries the idea of rhythm, orderliness, and beauty…I don’t necessarily see rhythm, orderliness or beauty… But God says “You are MY work of art. You are my poem. You are my masterwork. God is not like a doting father who’s oblivious to his child’s faults (hardships)** Rather He is your all-knowing, yet all-powerful Father in Heaven who can envision what you will become when its all said and done. He uses the hardships, failures. He doesn’t shy away from collapse, due to anger, frustration, depression or anxiety, He uses it to make the masterpiece full of rhythm, orderliness, and beauty.”

 

A friend once said to me “Those who never see hardship or have been given everything (doting parent) are the most shallow people.” A masterpiece is made from sweat and tears and the seven characteristics the world deems a masterpiece. So How does God see you?

 

You are loved, you are God’s consummate wealth and treasure, YOU ARE HIS MASTERPIECE, His poem.

  1. Beautifully made,
  2. An example of His imagination and artistry,
  3. With intellectual value (the truth of the Word about life),
  4. You are eternally permanent,
  5. Your example is universality (appeals to a great number of people),
  6. God’s unique way of expressing Himself,
  7. One who will motivate and inspire others in service.

 

YOU ARE HIS Masterpiece. He pours the glaze of His love, mercy and grace over you to make you beautiful and usable.IMG_6115

No matter how you feel or what struggle you are going through.

The journey is hard and long, but He is with you always. You’ve got this.

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^ my emphasis

* https://quizlet.com/128053053/7-qualities-of-a-masterpiece-flash-cards/

** my emphasis

Dear Daughters,

 

The famous painter Bob Ross said, “Anything we don’t like, we’ll turn into a happy little tree or something, because as you know, we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy little accidents.”

 

Through my second semester of ceramics, I found this to be true, however, on a deeper level. I took this class because it was something I always wanted to learn. There was something fascinating about making something on a wheel that turns at a high rate of speed and made with one’s hands. The second reason was that in scripture, (Isaiah 64:8 and Jeremiah 18:1-6) God is compared to a potter and I am His clay, and I wanted to understand this concept in a deeper way.

 

I can’t tell you how much I have learned concerning the relationship between God and us through this class. But the one I do want to share is in your hand. God doesn’t waste anything. What you may find as unfair, failures, mistakes, hardships, aggravating, or even downright a waste of time or energy, God pulls, stretches, smooths, bakes and glazes to make you beautiful.

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Collapsed Bowl

 

This item in your hand was intended to be a bowl. Because it didn’t get centered properly it collapsed. I suddenly saw beauty in it, of what it could be. I placed a rose in the center. At first, I didn’t know why and interestingly enough as I write this, it came to me. It’s important, especially Florida, to have intentional burns. The purpose is to kill invading foliage as well as protect the area around it from devastating fires. But what it also does is clears the way for new growth of certain plants and trees that are getting choked out. The rose is a representation of new growth that comes out of the hard times, mistakes and the past years of your life.

 

Glazing is the cherry on the cake.

 

To me, the bowl is one of the those “happy little accidents.” The reality, on the other hand, is altogether different. God knew your life before you were conceived (Psalm 139). Yes, He could have changed things but then you wouldn’t be who you are today.

 

You are unique. There is no one like you in the world. God molds and shapes you through the hard times, failures, mistakes and what you may feel like an unfair past or struggles. God wastes nothing. He uses every situation, activity, a person you meet to turn the ugliness of life to mold you into the beautiful treasure you are. The hard part is allowing God to push, pull, smooth and place you into the fire. You must be willing for Him to do it, because He is a gentleman He won’t force the beautification process on you. Yes, it hurts at times and fear may creep up along with all the excuses you throw at Him for not wanting to walk the path.  It’s messy. The question is are you willing?

 

Isaiah 61:3 states:

 “…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planning of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

 

He takes the ashes and turns into beauty to show the world of His splendor. You are molded into His likeness to show the glory of what He can do in someone’s life. Isn’t that awesome?

 

Love,

Mom

 

I wish I could give each reader one of the “happy accidents” as a reminder to you that 1. you are not an accident 2. beauty will made out of your hard times, and 3. God will get the glory for it all.

 

I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and see you in the new year.

The Potter’s Hand

Finally, it was time to learn the throwing wheel (potter’s wheel) in class.  Let me just say up front – it’s not as easy as it looks.

 

As the professor showed us a demonstration, he made an interesting comment.  “The hands are strong, but it requires a gentle touch. Let your body guide the hands, in what they‘re doing.”  He went on to say “That one’s arms rest on the knees and the body is the one that leans into the clay.”

 

Image result for Potter's Hand

 

God is mentioned as the potter in Scripture. (Isaiah  64:8) He has all-surpassing power, yet when he molds me, His touch is gentle.

 

My life can turn at a dizzying pace like the throwing wheel.  I don’t even know which end is up, half the time.  There are times when I feel like the Potter is crushing me yet never once does He take me down to my original state.

 

What feels like crushing pressure is His body moving toward me to grow me.  There has to be some pressure to change the clay. It’s my faith and trust that is being pulled and stretched.

 

There are times when I made a bad decision, and I become wobbly and off center.  The Potter then pushes down ever so slightly to get me centered again.  Never so much as to become flat and unworkable or in a sense of losing salvation, but enough for me to get back on track, in order to be molded.

 

I noticed over the past year there were times if He pressed any more I felt would be flattened. I’ve said, “I can’t take anymore.”  However, the pressure continued.  His hands are always in contact with the clay.  Every so often, He uses His Spirit (water) to soften me up a little, because I’m too dry to work with. Then suddenly I find myself being pulled up straight, sensing the growth that was occurring.  A vessel was emerging, a beautiful vessel.

 

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

   2 Corinthians  4:7-10 (NIV 84)

 

Silent Hugs

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a hugger.  I love to give hugs. If you know me well and see me coming if you don’t want a hug you might want to run, because you’ll get one.  It’s almost second nature to me.  I love to receive them too. It puts a smile on my face. Many times, the person giving them doesn’t know I needed it at that time.

 

It was one of those days in which I was sat and looked out over a pond at a local park. Birds bobbed on the water, and a fountain bubbled, gurgled, and struggled to rise out of the water.  It was a particular hard day; the tears began welled up.

 

“Daddy, just once I would love to feel your arm around me like a father does his child.”

 

Later when I described my day to a friend they said “Have you ever felt a warm breeze on your face? Or sat and listened to the birds chirping away or smelled your favorite flower? Have you enjoyed fellowship with others?  These may seem like small things, but God’s hugs are in the small things, not always the big wonders.”

 

That reminded me of another park visit where I walked the boardwalk, worship music played in my ear. I climbed the tower sat down on the recycled bench pulled a pen and notebook out and closed my eyes. What happened next came as a surprise. A breeze picked up, birds chirped and the words which flowed in my ear became clearer. The world was disappeared around me like the movies when a character is deep in thought everything around them move in slow motion and blurry.

 

If anyone had come to the top of the tower, I wouldn’t have known it.  There was peace, joy and the presence of God was felt without a doubt.  I’ve learned to relish these times.

 

In another blog, I wrote that sometimes solitude moments with God are about being still and letting Him love on me.  It’s being and listening and feeling using the senses to experience God’s love and His creative side, by being in His creation.

 

Lately though I have left the music behind and have taken my little word processor to the park to observe God’s creativity.   Through it, I’ve seen illustrations of how to express myself to Him. He allows me to experience things that are new, like a huge duck flying not more than three feet away whose wings just made the loudest most awesome “whoosh” with every flap. It was incredible almost like a rhythm of a drum. The breeze rusted the leaves and ducks quacked and bird chirped even the annoying seagulls squawked musically.  I heard God’s orchestra play just for me.

 

Have you ever scheduled time to just be still at the park or at the beach in the evening to watch a sunset? I would encourage you to just take in nature and allow God to wrap His arms around you.

 

 

“The Mighty One, God, the LORD speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty God shines forth.”

Psalm 50:1-2

Waste to Recycle

I decided as my daughter was taking her photography class three days a week, instead of sitting in the library for three hours I would take Ceramics 1 – and learn how to work with clay. My true interest in taking the class, was to learn the potter’s wheel.

 

On the first day, the professor showed us around the studio and we came to this one room with a huge mixer.

 

“Don’t worry about it if you don’t like how a project turns out. You see these two bins?”  he pointed to two huge plastic trash cans.  “Throw it in here along with any clay that may be to dry.  The water turns it to a “slip” like substance.  Then we add powder clay to it and it becomes re-usable clay.”

 

What he didn’t say was how bad it would smell due to bacteria breaking it down which I learned about later.

 

Ceramic illustration

Knowing that I was starting the class, I chose to study what the Bible says about the potter. When I got home it hit me.  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB)

 

As I think about my how life has been working and changing and healing I thought about the “slip” in the classroom.  My life is the clay.  What I think is too big of a mess up or the flaws are just too damaging I can’t be used, it’s just not true. Sure, It’s been tough.  However, the great thing is God will take everything in the past, present and future, and mix it with His love, and heals me through the work of the Holy Spirit (the water) for my good and His glory and make me even more usable.

 

Cool huh?

 

It sure doesn’t feel good sometimes. In fact, it smells pretty bad as the Holy Spirit illuminates things, and not necessarily of my own doing.  But through the Word, prayer and even other people this lump of clay will be recycled and made to be used in beautiful ways I never thought imaginable.  That’s hope, and I will not be rejected by the love and creativity of the Potter.  He has a purpose for me and will use the flaws, mistakes, struggles and trials to accomplish it.

 

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter;

we are all the work of your Hand”. 

Isaiah 64:8

 

“Change is mandatory for extraordinary results.”

 

I noticed this quote on an electronic information board. That day the words cut like a knife, not just because the words were truth, but the changes I have been going through have been less than easy.

 

In fact, I would relate it to a wrestling match, except I was getting body slammed by my past which has influenced my present.

 

I was angry. Angry at people and yes, even God. I questioned why would He wait so long to have me deal with these things? Because it didn’t just affect how I see myself, but how I view God and the way He sees me.

 

This particular wrestling match lasted a month. Tears, fatigue, and anger were constant companions.  I felt black and blue, emotionally and mentally.

 

What I’m beginning to realize is that through the brawling, even when the fear is overwhelming, that’s where hope is.

 

In the messiness and wrestling, with each blow I’m breaking through the cement of my heart so that I’m able to receive and accept God’s love, and healing.

 

These struggles are not only the gateway to healing but also to sanctification which is a fancy word for the process of purifying, to make me holy, to make me clean.

 

I guess another way to look at it is restoring of a home.  An old house has to go through some tremendous breakage, sledge hammering, pulling up and tearing down in order for the new to be put up.

 

Wrestling things out can be part of that process in our lives. God is the master renovator and He will take His time to do things right. He will contract the work through His Spirit and even through other people, if He sees fit.

 

The change is mandatory in order for me to move forward.  It’s hard. Oh, my is it hard, and terrifying at times. However, the results He gives will be extraordinary and for my beautification. That is something I am anticipating with excitement.

 

Oh, and don’t think this is a one – time deal.  He is wrestling and renovating along with us until we are called home.

 

 “I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6  (NASB)

 

 

 

 

I wasted time a few weeks ago waiting for my daughter to finish work. Walking a few shops down, I found a wall hanging with this statement, “Until God opens the next door praise Him in the hallway.”  My first reaction was, “Yes, Lord I am in the hallway, but there aren’t any doors to open.”

 

I smiled to myself with tears rolling down my cheeks.

 

I’ve stepped out temporarily from ministry, which started a strong tug of war. The two sides pull hard with the intent of winning. On one end of the rope, confidence.  I have made a good decision to rest.  One the other end is busyness and the need to be back in the race.  As I talked to a friend about this struggle, he mentioned a devotional by L.B Cowman Streams in the Desert which gives a wonderful illustration of the periods of rests in our lives.  This is the author’s take on the period called rest:

 

 “There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music.  In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests.  During those rests, we foolishly believe we have come to the end of the song… He (God)* brings a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent.  We grieve that our part is missing in the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson.”  (Cowman pg.43,44)

 

Resting periods in my life (a masterpiece) is part of the grander piece. Sometimes these come as hardships, illness, struggles and trials or the everyday mundane.  These rests are times of silence and solitude in which He uses to grow me in my relationship with Him. God is the composer and conductor of my life and He creates rests for reasons.  Some reasons I see some I don’t, but all are for His glory and honor.

 

I love what Margaret Feinberg said in her book Fight Back with Joy, “Always be suspicious that God is up to something.” Even in the resting there is the hope that God is going to do something wonderful through it.

 

For me there are a couple of reasons for my rest: 1.  to grow closer to Him which in itself brings about rest  2.  To understand better who I am in Him, and how He sees me.  There is probably more to it, but that is what I’m observing now.  How cool is that?

 

Yes, I’m in a hallway right now that has no doors. I sit and wait in expectation when not only a door appears but opens and I walk through.  Praise God.

 

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Psalm 46:10 (The Message)

 

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