Broken Things

I seem to accumulate broken things. Things I have purchased for next to nothing because they were broken. There is the ceramic tile of poppies that I bought while on vacation. I loved it from across the room and was delighted to find a price tag of $5.00 on it. It had two hairline cracks running through it, but they don’t show and I’m the only one who knows, (until now).

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There is the ancient rocker I picked up for $2 at an auction. The seat was shredded and it was missing one of the slats from the curved back, but I thought I could make it presentable again. I think the missing slat looks like it was part of the design and I have recovered the seat. It is one of my favorite chairs.

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There is another rocker with a missing seat that waits patiently in the basement for me to make it functional again. I mended the broken cross piece and gave it a fresh coat of paint.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know about my grandmother’s chair that I rescued from certain destruction. You can read about it here.

There are the wooden chairs with missing seats that I painted and have used year after year to put summer flowers in.IMG_0864_edited-1

 

My father’s violin had some cracks that needed repairing. When I took it to John Hawkins, a man skilled in such things, I also bought a violin for my son that John had saved from being thrown in the trash. A junior high boy had stepped on it in his haste to get somewhere quickly. It was basically in splinters, but he was determined to bring it back from the dead. My son played it until he outgrew it. Now it is waiting for his daughter to use once her fingers are big enough.

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We live in a society that throws things away. We want new and perfect. Fewer and fewer people repair things anymore.

Unfortunately our insisting on perfection spreads to not just things, but circumstances and people.

We want the perfect job, perfect church, perfect house, perfect parents, perfect husband, perfect children, and perfect friends. It they aren’t perfect we look for a different one. What we fail to see in our search for perfection is the beauty that lies in the broken things. They are still useful, they have lived through hard circumstances, and the scars they have acquired make them more beautiful, not less.

Living through imperfect circumstances makes us better people. Living with difficult people makes us kinder. Living with things that need attention and care make us more thankful for what we have. Going to a church with other sinners reminds us of our own lack and makes us grateful that they don’t ask us to leave, since we are far from perfect, ourselves.

God uses these imperfect things in our lives to help knock off the things in our own lives that need sanding down. (Sandblasting might be a better term.) Thankfully he doesn’t just give us a coat of paint or some glue, He works on us from the inside out. He works on our very heart.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Did you catch that? “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We are all a work in progress. We don’t always like the “construction” that is going on, but it has a good purpose in our lives.

Remember that the next time you want to give up on someone who is difficult to be around. Give them the grace we have been given. Learn from them. Love them like our Father loves us. Treat them like the treasure they are.

“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” I John 4:32-5:1

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness. We all want it, but have a hard time giving it to others.

I’ve been working several months on a book on forgiveness. It simply refuses to be written. I’ve started again and again. So today I decided to include you in the struggle. I’m going to put bits and pieces up here until I finish the job. Knowing you are looking over my shoulder might give me the kick in the pants I need to persevere.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

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We need to start at the beginning.

It nearly broke His heart. This man and woman God had created decided to believe Satan instead of God. They did the one thing God commanded them not to do, ate of the fruit of the only tree off limits.  Satan made Eve doubt God’s goodness. Made her think God was selfish. That He was keeping something good away from them. Satan deceived her into thinking he had her bests interests at heart. It was all a lie.

Eve gave some of the fruit to her husband and the rest is history. He chose her over God. The thought of losing her was too overwhelming. And then they hid. What else could they do? The shame and guilt were destroying them.

God sought them out. Gave them a chance to explain. Their explanation consisted of blaming each other, Satan, even God. Yes, Adam said…”this woman whom you gave to be with me…” (Genesis 3:12) Do you hear the not so subtle tone in his voice?

And so the perfect world was ruined. They were expelled from the garden, never to return. But God didn’t leave them without hope. He promised a Savior who would one day bring redemption, forgiveness. Things would be restored.

Satan thought he had won…but God’s plans are always bigger. Forgiveness would be a  reoccurring theme from now on. Satan, who was beyond forgiveness, would continue to cause all the trouble he could. The F word (forgiveness) would make him scream with anger. It must not happen. The redemption must not be complete. And so the battle continued.

Genesis 2:7 – 3:24

 

 

Home at Last

We moved this past year. My husband retired and we decided to relocate. We moved to a new house with new neighbors, in a new town and found a new church.

It has been about a year and we still feel unsettled.  We feel a longing to be known.

To have someone look at us with eyes of recognition. To know our names and ask about our kids.

I long for community.

…To have people know my name and ever so much more,

…To know I enjoy music and art, taking walks, a good cup of tea and auctions.

…That I have a sense of humor, am a pretty good cook and can be a fiercely loyal friend if given the chance.

I want them to know my heart aches from old wounds and some not so old. Things you can’t blurt out when you are just getting to know someone. It takes time…lots of time.

So, as I struggle to fit into our new community, I look expectantly to someday heaven. It will be a place of perfect acceptance, a place without longing.

I’ve been told a place is being prepared. (John 14:1-3) A just right place, a perfect place, a belonging place that isn’t uncomfortable. A place without an awkward adjustment period.

I imagine being greeted with a bear hug by the God who was unapproachable and untouchable in the Old Testament accounts. (*see below) Now he has promised to wipe away my tears. (Revelation 21:4)

I will be immediately known and loved. Not because I am good, but because I belong to a great King who purchased my freedom at an awful price. (I Peter 1:18 & 19)

He saved me even knowing who I would be and what I would do. Loved me in spite of all of it. Why? For a purpose, to worship and serve Him.

He will integrate me seamlessly into the heavenly community; giving me a job that suits just me. One where I can contribute and feel helpful.

He will delight that I am there, at home with Him. At home with the one who has loved me since the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:34)

And all of this will fade away. For I will be home at last.

 

 * God told Moses – “No man shall see me and live.” ( Exodus 33:20) ;                                Some men from Beth-shemesh looked into the ark and they were struck dead along with 50,070 others. (I Samuel 6:19);                                                                                                    Uzzah was killed for touching the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-7)

Lessons From The Lilies

Lessons From The Lilies

Reposting this from two years ago.

Lytroo Retreat

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And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

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If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

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Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,

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yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

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But if God so clothes the grass,

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which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,

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how much more will he clothe you,

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O you of little faith! (Luke 12:25-28 ESV)

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Just a tour through a bit of my garden. May you be able to entrust whatever circumstance you are in with the God who loves you. 

 

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Career Day

Career Day

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“Let’s talk about what me and monkey are going to be when we get big”, Arianna, my eight year old granddaughter, stated as we were riding in the car.

“OK”, I responded. “What would you like to do?”

“I’d like to work for God.”

My mind raced. What did that mean exactly, missionary…speaker…run an orphanage?

“You know,” she continued, “like helping an old lady across the street.”

I wanted to laugh out loud, but knew this was serious. Somehow I felt God’s very real eyes on me as if to say, “be careful how you respond to this little one who seems to have a better handle on serving Me than you do.”

Life is busy. I’m always looking for the next project, the pursuits that will bring fulfillment and if I’m honest, a little pat on the back from someone…anyone.

I thought about the little things I had left undone. Like visiting an old friend of my mom’s who is in the nursing home. Sending the sympathy card. Bringing a meal to someone with the flu. Saying hello to someone I don’t know. Asking the clerk how her day is going. And, yes, helping the occasional little old lady across the street who looks confused and lost.

Working for God is not the big projects, but all those little kindnesses. Just like God fills my day with little kindnesses from his hand, he wants me to do the same. To be like him. Those little things are what make a real difference.

In my own life I think of the short notes that came at just the right time, people taking the time to listen and cry with me, The quick nod and smile from the complete stranger. The unexpected meals when I hadn’t told anyone about our need. People who told me they were praying and I could tell they meant it. People who loved me even when I wasn’t easy to be around. People who spoke honestly to me when I was off course…

The conversation continued as we touched on different paths and opportunities.

“…and Monkey will be a preacher.” She concluded. All was now right with the world.

The Greatest of These is Love

Our family was under stress. My husband had just retired. We were getting our house ready to sell by cleaning, fixing, packing and throwing away. We were also looking for a new place to live in another town. It wasn’t going well. Most of the places we asked to see were selling before we could make an appointment. Our current house had a string of unexpected things to fix. It had all taken its toll.

Our mood changed from expectant to surly. We weren’t exactly fighting, but our tone must have been off because our granddaughter, Arianna, quietly handed each of us a handmade construction paper heart with the word love written in crayon.

She instructed us to put them in our pocket so we would remember to love each other.

We quietly said, “Oh, honey, we still love each other.”

She wasn’t convinced and her silence brought conviction. We had forgotten that circumstances and things are not what make a happy life. Our love for each other was much more important. Love must be lived out in words and actions and ours had not lined up with what we claimed.

I’m not used to being put in my place by a seven year old, but God will use whatever is available to get through to hard hearts, and Arianna was available.

We accepted the hearts and obediently put them in our pockets.

Our house eventually sold, we found a new one, and survived the move.

I would be lying if I said our surly days were over, but Arianna had helped us to be a little softer and kinder to each other. And every time I think of the paper heart for my pocket I breathe a prayer of thanks to a good God who blessed us with a granddaughter who knows exactly how to speak the truth in love.