Are you pliable?

clayBelieve it or not, when I graduated from high school, I graduated in the Honor’s Society, “Art” honor’s society that is. Not that I was an exceptional artist or anything, but I had taken four years of art as an elective and maintained at certain GPA.  So in my senior year of high school, I was automatically enrolled in the Art Honor’s Society and graduated that year with a special honor.

In art class I was introduced to all kinds of mediums for creating art, as well as learning about the art history that went along with what we were studying.  My favorite medium became clay.  I just fell in love with pottery class. Our classroom did not have one of those fancy wheels used for making bowls, vases, etc.  Instead, everything we made was directly formed from our hands.

I loved digging into a bag of wet mud (clay), pulling out a big chunk, and then forming it into something spectacular and fun. When I would create, things would not always turn out quite like I had anticipated. That was the beauty of working with clay, if I didn’t like the turnout, I could just squash the project and begin again.

Once I had a project finished and to my liking, I would then paint it with glaze and put it into the kiln for the firing process. The kiln would heat the clay and turn it into a glass-like form, all beautiful, colorful and shiny. I still can remember the anticipation of waiting for the firing process to be completed.  The firing would take hours, but the wait would be so worth it.  I remember being so excited to get back to class the next time to see my finished work of art or stopping by later in the day to take a sneak peek.

This whole process of creating art from nothing reminds me of the work of the Lord in my own life.  In Genesis 2:7, it says that God formed man from the dust of the earth. God is our creator and we are all works of his creation.  Several places in scripture (mainly in Isaiah and Jeremiah) it talks about us being as “clay” in the hands of the potter. God is the great potter, our creator, and he is the one working in us to will and to do according to His purpose. HIS purpose, not ours (Philippians 2:13).

As clay, we are not a blob of nothingness, for were created and we are held by the Master’s hands. It is our job to submit to the potter and to remain pliable and soft so that he may form us.  That was his plan from the beginning, it talks about in Psalm 139:13, “You created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb and then in verse 14 goes on to say, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . .

When we are not being formed by God and being transformed by his word, we become like the world. Just as clay that is not worked, it becomes dry, hardened and cracks. As God’s children, when we turn away from God or don’t follow his plan for our lives, he sometimes does a “do over” or has to start again with us, as in reworking the clay. He allows circumstances in our lives to turn us from sin and to fix our eyes upon him and he wants us to respond in obedience to him. God uses his word and the work of his hands to transform us into his beautiful creation (2 Timothy 3:16).

God’s work within us is a continual process.  Once we accept his free gift of salvation, the work begins. At that point we place ourselves in God’s hands and the molding and forming process begins. It is God’s desire that we be transformed to his image (2 Corinthians 3:18) and this will be a lifelong process.  It is a beautiful thing to understand and contemplate. Being held in the master’s hands implies submitting your will to his so that he may work in you to do what is pleasing to him and it is through the power of the Holy Spirit within us that he does this.

To me, the potter and the clay is beautiful imagery of Christ’s working within us. Our part is to remain “In Him” submitted to his will so that we are workable and receptive to his hand in our lives.  He is shaping us to be valuable vessels conformed to his image and to be used for his kingdom purposes.

Father God thank you for who you are and how you work in our lives. Thank you that you continue to mold us into the people you desire us to be.  Without you I am nothing, a dead lump of clay. But in your hands I am being transformed into something beautiful. Help me to remain mold-able, as pliable as clay in your hands. I put my complete trust in you and thank you for the finished work of the cross the and great price you paid for me. Help remind me often, that I have been bought with a price and that because of that, I am yours. To you be the glory both now and forever. AMEN

Isaiah 64:8 And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand.

Jeremiah 18:6 House of Israel, can’t I do with you as this potter? says Yahweh. Behold as the clay in the potter hand, so you are in my hand, house of Israel.

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.

Psalm 40: 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 12:6 The LORD’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over.

From the Heart of a Mother

motherWow, being a mom, it’s one of life’s greatest gifts. It’s part of God’s training ground, holy ground. It’s where I’m learning to give selflessly because I now care about these other souls more than I care about my own.  As we who wear the title daily, it’s something I don’t ever want to take lightly or for granted. Any truthful mom can tell you, it’s a lot of sleepless nights, it’s sweat and tears, endless dirty laundry and in ways, like a perpetual garage sale (same old stuff day after day).

When I think of mothering, I think of the birthing process itself.  Nothing glamorous about it.  It’s painful, it’s messy and it makes a woman vulnerable and exposed in every sense of the word.  Something the size of a small watermelon squeezes through your birth canal and is placed upon your chest. A new life, it’s crying, it’s a bloody mess, and instantly it’s needy. A new little life and their little heart is now beating against yours. It’s bloody and beautiful all in the same time, and always a miracle.  Suddenly I am responsible for another life, it’s a bit frightening.  I was inexperienced at this mothering thing, and suddenly without adequate preparation, I am thrust into this dynamic role.

I see the reflection of God in motherhood! I see that being a good mom requires dying to self for the sake of another. It’s putting your child’s needs before your own.  It’s giving when you feel like you’ve got nothing left to give. It’s loving, even when you feeling like at times, strangling. It’s learning how to deal graciously in every given situation. I love being a mom because I’m learning how to be a better person through the process.  It’s God’s training grounds in selflessness and grace.  I’m not there yet, I make tons of mistakes, I blow it all the time and in those tough times, I’m thankful for that grace, unending grace.

One thing I know for certain, is that children are a precious gift from God (Psalm 127:3). It’s my heart’s desire to do well with what I’ve been given and I can only do that through his grace.  I’m thankful that Jesus, the perfect parent stands with arms outstretched for every weakness, every failure and every need that I have.  It is through his grace and in my weakness that he is shown strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I’m thankful that I can allow him to continue to parent me and I parent my own children. I see my role as a child in the mothering process.  A child of the most high God. I am a dependent, dependent upon my Abba God to help me in this parenting role. He often uses my own children to teach me powerful lessons.  He shows me how their eyes are constantly on me for leading and that is a grave responsibility and some serious accountability.  Because I am human, I am weak and I fall short in every possible way, EVERYDAY! And for that I’m thankful for those outstretched arms that paid the price for me.  For the life given for mine, and bloody mess turned into a perfect sacrifice.

I’m thankful for the triumphs of motherhood but also for the tough stuff.  Because it’s in the tough stuff that God continues to teach me, that’s it’s not about me.  He molds me and want’s me to let go of my own ways and adopt his ways of doing things. It’s in the letting go that I am being set free.  Free to trust in him more, free to fail and to let him fill the in the gaps where I am lacking. My children are His. They are only on loan to me for a little while, and it’s by his divine grace and that through the process of mothering, he is shaping my heart while helping me to shape their’s. I hold get to hold their hands for a little while, but it’s my desire that He will hold their’s hearts forever.

Father God thank you for my children.  Thank you for the blessing that they are to me.  Help me to be the kind of mother you want me to be.  I know the greatest gift we can give our children is to be parents who are in love with you.  Forgive me for the times I so often fail you and them.  Help me always to point them to you. Thank you for your unending love and limitless grace and for the price you paid on Calvary.  You are an awesome God. To you be the glory both now and forever. AMEN

Putting Things Into Perspective

pilot rockLast summer, my family and I did some hiking on our vacation.  One day we collectively decided to try to climb to the top of the nearby Pilot Rock. Pilot Rock is a columnar basalt volcanic core that has had its outer covering eroded away over time.  It’s found fourteen miles SSE of Ashland, Oregon, and 1.6 miles north of the OR/CA border. The rock formation is easily visible from along a segment of I-5 and is said to have been a navigation marker for early pioneers traveling to and from California. It was a nice hot day and my family and I were all excited and looking forward to this grand and fun hiking adventure.

Along the base of the rock, the trail was clear and slowly winded back and forth.  But as we continued to climb the rock, it became rather skinny and steep and we knew this climb would be a bit more than we had originally anticipated.  We finally came to a place where it became so steep, that my youngest daughter Natalie became to frightened to continue on.  So at this point, my sweet husband decided that we should all probably stop and call it a day.

I was SO itchy to get to the top, I couldn’t stand it.  We were getting so close and yet I knew the last little bit would be extremely difficult. It’s funny because, typically that would be my husband and not me. But this day, I decided I would like to venture on and I asked my husband if he cared if I tried to make it to the top.  Having the adventurous spirit he does, he agreed to let me press on and decided he would stay put with the kids while I continued up the rock.  I don’t know if this was the best judgement on my part, but I was just excited to try it and I knew that if I could just reach the top, the view from there would be most spectacular.

We both had our cell phones with so I think that gave us a bit of security and sense of peace about the separation. I also had a bit of rock climbing experience which came in handy for a few sections I had to press through.  At this point, the trail was no longer a trail and I was now climbing straight upward through crevasses and boulders.

As I struggled up the extremely steep face of the rock, I could hear voices above which propelled me onward even more. I knew that once I reached the top, that there were others there to share this cool experience with.  About thirty minutes after separating from my family, I finally reached the top where there were five other ladies with a younger child.  They thought I was rather crazy for coming up there all alone (and they were probably right).

I explained to them that it was their voices above had propelled me all the way to the top. We all laughed and enjoyed the spectacular view together.  I took photo’s of their group and they took several of me so that I could share them with my family.  The sights from the top of the rock were simply amazing.   It was SO beautiful and SO breathtaking.  From this vantage point, I could see the spectacular Mt. Mcloughlin, Mt. Shasta and Mt. Ashland as well as all the beauty of the surrounding area.  It it was magnificent!  Also in that moment, I was wishing all of my family could have been there with me to see and experience it!

In rethinking this story in my mind, I am reminded of a truth and it is this, that without the proper perspective, we lose sight of the big picture.  What I mean by this is that we often get caught up in the day-to-day circumstances of our lives that we lose the proper perspective, God’s perspective. I shared in an earlier post that sometimes it’s been my incorrect focus that has thrown me off the most in my walk with the Lord.  But the other area I also think that has also thrown me in loop at times has been my wrong perspective. We need to have the right perspective so that we know where to set our focus.

It’s just like when I was climbing this rock formation.  It was a difficult climb and I couldn’t see anything but rock everywhere, but I knew that if I made it up to the summit, it would far outweigh all the difficulty of getting there. Often times in my life, day to day activity can sometimes get us stuck in the now of time.  Satan uses this a  tool to get our focus off God and onto the present circumstances in our lives.  When that happens we loose our heavenly perspective.  God wants us to set our thoughts on things above (Colossians 3:2). God designed each of us his children, with a plan and a purpose in mind. When we focus on the now, we tend to lose sight of our eternal purpose and thereby lose sight of our eternal perspective.

These are all things we know as believers in Christ.  We all know that if we are his children, we can be sure of our destination, our heavenly home.  But it’s Satan’s ploy to try to get us to focus on the wrong things in the here and now so that we become ineffective in doing things that will have eternal rewards. Satan loves to derail us any chance he gets. That’s why it’s SO important for us as believers to be washing ourselves daily in the word of God. God’s word helps us keep the proper perspective and when we dwell on it and memorize his word, it stays with us throughout the day and will often bring Satan’s ugly plans to a halt.

It says in 1 Corinthians 13:12 . . . For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  Right now in this present time, we see a reflection of God’s perfect light, but when we get to heaven we will be with him and see him in his fullness.  This gives us the proper perspective that in the here and now, we must always look to Christ and to seek His face to help us overcome the difficulties in this present time.  His word gives us precious promises that help to sustain us for our journey here and we need to know and memorize them.

At times we have all been like the Israelites in their wanderings, seeking fulfillment in the present verses pressing on for the promise.  Father God, please forgive us. Thank you for your word which gives light for our present journey. Teach us to number our days and to keep an eternal perspective so that we may be effective for you in the here and now.  Give us the endurance to run the race and to help advance your kingdom here on earth.  Thank you for the price you paid for each of us, your own precious blood.  Help us to remember we are bought with a price, and that we are yours.  Thank you that you have planted eternity in our hearts, help us to live for you. Help us keep our eyes fixed on you and to keep an eternal perspective. Thank you for your amazing love and your goodness to us! To you be the glory both now and forever. AMEN

Rising Above Circumstance

sunrise1I love to watch the sun rise.  Here where we live on the Redwood Coast, because of the oh so prevailing fog,  seeing the sunrise is a rather grand treat than an everyday occurrence. Even though some days we can’t see the sun, we know it’s still there.  Even though it’s covered by the dense clouds and fog, it’s still giving off warmth and light needed for the day. That is a given that we can trust.

This analogy got me thinking. When we go through days or even seasons of darkness, are we still trusting in our all-powerful creator?  Sometimes God leaves us in our circumstances for a reason.  Maybe he is trying to rid us of something or to help us change our perspective on the situation. Are we still trusting in his sovereignty and goodness even when we can’t see the direct light?

Sometimes circumstance in our lives sap our strength.  They leave us in a state of being stuck or cause bewilderment.  Sometimes the circumstances in our lives are brought on by our own acts of disobedience, sometimes but not necessarily always.  The thing we need to ask ourselves is this, “Will we let our circumstances dictate our overall God-given purpose?” And in this given circumstance, “What is the correct response God desires from us?”

First of all we need to check our hearts.  God knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.  He knows our motives.  Sometimes he will leave us in certain circumstances because he is wanting to change our hearts.  He wants us to walk in obedience and purity of heart before him.  We need to learn to rise above our circumstances.  We need to ask ourselves, “Will we accept this lot we’ve been given and use this time to serve God through it?”  Or, “Will we only trust him and serve him when circumstances are in our favor?”

I encourage you to read 1 Thessalonians 5, which helps me to navigate through the fog when it is blocking out the sunshine in my life.  We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5 . . . For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.  No wonder when in darkness and grey, we crave the light.  In verse 8 it goes on to say . . . But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.  And then in verse 16 it says . . . Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

To me this is a clear reminder that whether we like our circumstances or not, we need to be thankful in them (however hard this may be) because it comes down to this, “Are we trusting in the Sovereignty of our good God?” God wants us to be alert and clearheaded.  Romans 8:28 says . . . And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. When we don’t let circumstances cloud our judgement, we can trust that he is working for our good in and through our current circumstances.

I always ask myself in every circumstance, “What is God trying to show or teach me?” Is there something he wants me to change? And when God doesn’t change the circumstances in my life, “Will I trust him to serve him where I am presently?”  Sometimes God will change the circumstances and sometimes he won’t.  But the question is, “Will I serve Him whole-heartily in the “Now?” (my present situation).

When we feel we are drowning in life’s ocean of circumstance, we need to cling to Christ, our “life-preserver.”  The promises in his word bring life and help us to rise above the circumstances.  We are told to walk in the light as he is in the light (1 John 1:7).  God’s word sheds light on our circumstances and helps us to have an eternal perspective.  God’s word gives us hope, and we are told hope does not disappoint us (Romans 5:5).

Father God thank you for your word.  Thank you for the promises we can cling to when waves of doubt and destruction come crashing in.  Help us to rise above the circumstances in our lives that seek to ensnare us.  Help us to always cling to you and to walk in obedience to your word.  Thank you that you are an amazing God.  Thank you for your amazing love for us. We seek to honor you in all circumstances. To you be the glory both now and forever. AMEN

I was listening to a song on my car ride home from work today.  It is a song that you might be familiar with by Jason Grey.  It is entitled, “Nothing is Wasted.” I trust and see that in every sad, hurtful, trying or painful circumstance (in the past or present), that when surrendered to God, can be used for his Glory and that nothing in this life is wasted.  He takes the broken things and makes them beautiful.  This song really ministers to my heart, the lyrics are as follows:

Nothing Is Wasted by Jason Grey

The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again

And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine