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Posts Tagged ‘change’

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

 

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If I were to describe my life right now, it would be a Pointillism painting.

 

This form of painting was developed in the late 1800s, in which an artist would dot the canvas with their brush.  In the beginning all you could see would be dots, but when finished a masterpiece.

 

There are many instances when I can see immediately what is happening.  God uses circumstances to produce new character or minister to others.  I can actually see parts of the completed project.

 

However, there are those seasons of my life, when all I see are dots here and there not seemingly part of anything.  The dots and circumstances are floating in the middle of nowhere without rhyme or reason.

 

Now is one of those seasons, and it has lasted for a long time.

 

Half of my life seems to be running in the car going here and there without stopping.  School drop offs and pickups, running errands, household chores, ministry and the list can go on.

 

Did I mention the lack of energy needed, not just for the above but the emotional and physical needs of my children?  I have two teenagers moving closer and closer to independence and a six grader who has been having a hard time adjusting to middle school. Then there are art shows, soccer practices and church activities. It’s a wonder I still have hair.  Oh, then there is that too – the pre-menopause years.

 

My brain always seems to hesitate, get confused, forgetful, fatigued, irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, “Please Lord help me” is the only thing I can cry.  And then I’m staring at all these “dots” of life and wonder what in the world is going on?  What influence am I having?  Have I done anything important?  I sense no direction, or guidance on where I’m to go or what do.  I’m in a sea of dots with no possible hint of how it all fits into the bigger picture.

 

Memories of the toddler years flash before my eyes. They were great times but yet, a nagging feel that I lost myself and who I was. I have no idea who I am anymore, nothing makes sense.  I feel like a failure at times. There isn’t even passion to do the things I love to do like write.  Are you tired yet?

 

While I sit here writing, the Lord gently reminds me I have spent so much time complaining to Him, that I have not asked “What is it You the Master Painter want me to see and learn?”  I have questioned so much concerning what I am not seeing, that I neglect to remember that He is working whether or not I see it or if He even desires to reveal it.

 

These “dots” of hardships and challenges are somehow part of the Masterpiece, but I am spending way too much time complaining to sit back and be content with where He has me.

 

Is it possible that He is saying, “Christine, this is not a time to be focusing on the area you want. Those things I have given you?  I’m putting them on the shelf right now.  Be content with where I have you right now.”

 

That’s hard to embrace, but I’ve decided to wait on Him.  I know He has it all under control and He has a plan, and it is perfect.

 

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NSAB)

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I’m not a people person.  That is to say, I don’t have to have people around me twenty-four seven.  However, silence is some thing I can’t handle either.  Usually I have to have the TV on just for noise, which in turn becomes a big distraction.  Lately, it’s been Christian radio which in reality, is a better choice in breaking the silence.

Another issue I see is the busyness of life.  Now I don’t cram my days with activity after activity, but with three girls I feel like I’m running all the time.

Our culture says the busier you are the better.  The danger in this is an overwhelmed schedule that makes it harder to hear from God.  This has been true about me over the past several months.

Through circumstances of life I realized that I have been neglecting my soul.  Sure I have been in the Word and praying but there is a discipline I have been ignoring.  Silence.

Silence means listening and that can’t be accomplished unless I’m intentional about doing it.  I can rush to get my time with God done and move on with my day, but what is the point in that?  That is not how a relationship works.

The first time I sat and was still, I stared at the wall waiting, nothing happened.  Frustrated, I started my day.  Needless to say I felt guilty. I determined to start over the next morning.

I sat down and said, “Okay, I’m here God. Show up.”  I don’t recommend saying that, my attitude wasn’t the greatest but He did.

I read the portion of scripture and waited. He showed me things I had never seen or realized before.

Two months later, the women’s director of my church recommended a book to me.  Embracing Soul Care – Making Space for What Matters Most by Stephen W. Smith.  It talks about how our lives get so bogged down with schedules that we start doing things in our strength and then neglect our spiritual lives.

This book has forced me to slow down, and be still before the Lord so He can refresh, and nourish my soul.  I have learned quite a bit about myself and the Lord.  As I have paused after my reading both this book and Scripture I take time to reflect on the questions and what the Lord has for me.

*These are just some of the things God has placed on my heart through sitting still and listening.

  1. Take the clock out of the office: I had become so task oriented that I was constantly checking the clock so I could end my time with Him before my girls got up for school.
  2. Praying before I start reading. Before, I always prayed after reading scripture 1. it took longer so if I had to cut something short it would be prayer  to apply what I read.
  3. Stop recording some of my favorite TV shows. TV became a distraction and took time away from more important things.
  4. Pray more for my children (pinpoint praying not vague prayers)

Even after a month, it’s still so hard not to do anything for a few minutes.  Sometimes I learn something new, other times God brings things to mind I need to confess, and yet other times it’s just to be silent and soak up the fact I am in the presence of the God of the universe, my Father.

How about you?  Do you look in the mirror and see a person you don’t know anymore.   Are you feeling overwhelmed, struggling with your quiet times.  Maybe you feel stretched thin, tired, both spiritually and in your everyday life.  Maybe it’s time to slow down, breath in God through reading, prayer and listening.  You won’t regret it.

Silence is golden.

*Please note – God works with each person differently. What He impress on my heart may not be what He wants for you.

“For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In

Repentance and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.’”

Isaiah 30:15 (NASB)

http://www.amazon.com/Embracing-Soul-Care-Making-Matters/dp/0825436702/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424865693&sr=1-1&keywords=embracing+soul+care

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I am not much of a gardener. In fact I don’t like to garden. I have two rose bushes on our back patio. Roses are my favorite flower. When the coral bush first started, I was surprised by how many blossoms there were. The bush produced two clumps of three and four flowers. It was beautiful. I was so proud of it (the fact I hadn’t killed it yet).

Before

Then several weeks later it seemed to have suddenly died. I thought maybe if I pruned off the dead branches it would grow again. Two weeks later nothing wanted to grow. I gave up. My husband on the other hand, didn’t. He chopped more off to the point there were only bear stems.

One day I walked out and noticed green sprouts and today there are more blossoms then I had at first.
It reminds me of the passage in John fifteen which talks about the vine and branches. When I became one of God’s children I made a decision to be a part of Christ and His work. In order for me to grow in my walk and faith I must eat and drink (prayer and read the word) so that I can grow.

But there are times when life seems to be stale and growth is little or non-existent. Those are the times I must be vulnerable to the perfect Gardener.   He needs to prune me. He will show me the things in my life that are dead and non effective. Growth may be inhibited by a habit, doubt, fear or something I don’t even know exists. He wants to cut it off to allow new growth. He also uses hardships in my life to prune me as well so I can see myself and the area I require trust.

Other times He will prune “good” things out of my life in order for the best to occur. There were some branches of the rose bush I left because there was still some green leaves, but that didn’t help. It wasn’t until my husband cut the bush down to almost nothing did the new growth occur.

After Pruning

I have been involved in ministries or projects that were good but I had not listened to God’s prompting to stop. It wasn’t until I listened and allowed God to cut those activities off when my growth, and focus took off. Did it hurt? More than anyone can know. I wasn’t happy but I did have peace and I was able to bloom.

Are there areas of your life God is asking to cut off? Is there resistance on your part? Why?

Ask Him today to give you the strength to allow Him to prune you. If  He is allowed, it may hurt but the beauty that will come through the process is nothing compared to what you had.

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes  so that it will be even more fruitful.”    (John 15:2  NIV 1984)

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