Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Beauty of Broken

2016 has been interesting both personally and collectively for sure. I've noticed several comments and memes on social media casting the year in a negative light. Perhaps a change in point of view might help.  I recently read an interesting article on the art form & philosophy of Japanese Kintsugi. The practice of Kintsugi involves fixing broken pottery with lacquer and a dusting of gold. It treats the breakage and repair of an item as part of it's history giving it meaning and value.  Rather than disguise the broken places it beautifies them. What if we applied this philosophy to the events of this year? What if we allowed the broken places of our lives to be apart of our journey, adding virtue and meaningfulness to our lives?

Kintsugi is not unlike the truth of the Bible. Over and over again we are shown how God rebuilds and renews.

I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind:
I am like a broken vessel...
Be of good courage!
He shall strengthen you heart
All you who hope in the Lord.
Psalm 31:12, 24

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And such as have a contrite spirit.
Psalm 34:18

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and contrite heart-
These, O God, You will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ
He is a new creation, old things have passed away;
behold all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

For this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Matthew 26:28

When you look at the small bowl, it is most plain by itself.  But your eyes are then drawn to golden lines and you see beauty. That lustrous gleam becomes the focal point.  The mercy of His spilled blood covers our imperfections and creates something new. When we allow God to fill our brokenness, our lives shine with His glory.  He becomes the center focus. 

This past year for me has had it's moments of brokenness.  In fact when I reflect backwards to when I started this blog there have been different cracks made in the earthen pot of my life.  But in each crevice Jesus has filled it in with healed friendship, provisions of home and job, deep fellowship over His word, sun & sand and other adventures. It is dusted with His glory.  I am thankful and look ahead to the new year in hope of being renewed and made beautiful in my brokenness.

Can I encourage you to do the same?  Put aside anger, disappointment & fear. Bring your broken heart to the foot of the cross.  Lift up your hands in praise for His provision. Let your heart give thanks for the good & the bad. Look for the blessings. Cling to His promise of healing. And let His glory dust your life with gold,

Then He who sat on the throne said, 
"Behold I make all things new."
And He said to me, 
"Write, for these words are faithful and true."
Revelation 21:5

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Difficult Gift

The street light glowed in the dark alley, creating the illusion of warmth in the frozen morning air. I stood there while they loaded the suitcases into the back of the car. Tears that had threatened for the last 24 hours were finally making their escape down my chilled cheeks. It's been fifteen years since we first moved away from family. Fifteen years of goodbyes every Christmas and still my heart aches. It never gets any easier.  I can't help but think of another goodbye, a more heavenly goodbye. It was probably the most difficult goodbye.

A couple of weeks ago the closing song at church spoke of the Creator and His creation rising up to praise Him.  As one of His creation, it stirred my heart with the realization of His gift of life.  With one word He spoke the universe into being. A simple utterance and there was life. Genesis chapter one shows us with the phrase, "Then God said, 'Let there be...'." Unfortunately, a little further into Genesis we find that it was one word that brought death.  Eve said yes. Yes to the fruit. Yes to her curiosity. Yes to her desire. Have you ever wondered why God could create the world by speaking but didn't cure creation of her sin with just one word? God chose the difficult. A difficult solution. A hard goodbye. A sacrifice.

He gave of Himself. God became flesh so that He could be Emmanuel - God with us. He couldn't be that without His act of sacrificial love. He took on our sin and was separated from His Father. He gave the difficult gift so that we could give a simple answer. The same word that first brought death can now bring life.  Yes. Yes, I believe. Yes, I trust. Yes, I give you my heart. When we say yes, Emmanuel is with us in the goodbyes.  He is with us in loss.  He is with us in the hard times. Jesus' difficult gift fills us not with the illusion of warmth but the heat of eternal life.

In truth, this difficult gift was not too hard for Jesus. He is love and therefore cannot deny His character.  He loves you. The choice was simple.

Greater love has no man than this,
That He lay down His life
John 15:13

As hard as goodbyes are, they most usually lead to a future hello. Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father, reunited & restored to His rightful place.  He sits in anticipation of His return, a hello for His bride upon His lips. A hard goodbye became a difficult gift and turned into an eternal hello.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Sweetest Gift

When asked, "how many boys do you have?" my usual reply is "4".  In truth, I have 3 boys and a husband.  Many times my hubby is the instigator of the boyish antics.  If he didn't start it, he will encourage the chaos.  I've learned to roll my eyes and accept it.  He's teaching them to love through play.  He teaches them a lot about love.  Specifically, he models how to love me.  It sounds selfish to say that out loud, but I know someday those lessons will be applied to their own wives & children.

This quiet truth was pressed into my heart while sitting in the roar of the food court the other day. The holiday season seemed to team around us with selfishness & excess, and we had stopped to observe it all while enjoying gelato.  Reaching the end of his cone, my husband had just the pointy tip left. Without a word he handed me the last little bit and kissed my cheek. It's my favorite part. In the overwhelming noise, my world stopped in a hushed moment.  A selfless moment in which love sang it's clear notes.  The moment was swept up into an overture as each of the boys followed suit and gave me their final, sweet bite. 

Selflessness is the sweetest gift.  Its a gift that shapes the future of little boys turned to men.  It's a gift that turns hearts toward their Creator.  It's an eternal gift.  It makes me think of another hushed moment; one so full of the greatest love that the air was thick with it.  In the stillness of night, God gives His best to His beloved - His bride.  It's announced in reverent tones to shepherds and then proclaimed in a glorious chorus.  The young woman's cries of child birth are a prelude to the song of salvation to come.  All of creation is tuned for this one moment in history as the humble Messiah enters the world with the solo of selfless love.    

God loves you.  You are His beloved, His bride.  He has given His best for you.  He has given the sweetest gift.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Golden Gift

I love the beginning of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and the song, "Silver and Gold". There is something endearing about a snowman dancing through golden packages and decorated trees. Sparkles & twinklings make me happy.  Yet in the busyness of decorations, gift lists and holiday festivities, I wanted to focus on the eternal gifts that shine in my life.

When we pulled out the Christmas decorations this last week, there was quite the mess to contend with.  We recently moved and the last of the unpacking ended up in one disorganized closet.  While sorting through the chaos I came across my grandmother's bible.  The pages whispered life as I thumbed through them. Her notes in the margin almost pulsed beneath my finger tips as I caressed her penned thoughts.  My Grandma was an honorable woman, stubborn at times and loved a good joke.  Above all else she was a faith-filled woman.

Tucked in the back of the bible cover were some news paper clippings, a bulletin of missionaries she was praying over and a typed paragraph of her own musings.  As I read the note, it was almost devotional in nature, I saw a part of myself,  Like her, my thoughts of Jesus and life find their place on paper. Through soft tears I rejoiced in the gift I had found: a golden legacy, The loving lives of my grandmother, my mom and my mother's mom have given me the legacy of faith.  These women were a part of shaping my heart.  I now pass on that same heart and faith to my sons and anyone else who reads the stroke of my pen.  A faith legacy is one of eternal value; a golden gift worth both giving and receiving.

What's the golden gift in your life? What legacy have you been given? I'll share a bit of mine with you...