Saturday, September 22, 2012

Living in Response

I'm still not doing much glass work, other than repairs, so I don't have any new glass pictures to share. I thought I'd share a few of the photographs I've taken along the way today instead. I definitely love natural beauty, and it frequently inspires my glass designs.

I've also been "off the blog" for a couple of weeks because I was being blocked by the blog host. I sent multiple help requests to the host, but never did receive any aid. I finally followed my wise husband's advice and tried a different browser. Brilliant! I'm back on with no problems.

I've been mulling the concept of living in response to God. My first thoughts contrasted responding to reacting. Totally different experiences! I used to react to my birth father's rejection of me and my family, but I've learned to respond instead. Instead of feeling abandoned, I choose to feel loved by my step-father. I haven't given up praying for or loving my birth father. In fact, I pray for him with more love than I used to; I can't help but feel bad for someone who would reject their own daughter. But I don't waste time feeling sad or wishful about his return. He will return to my life or not, as he chooses. I choose to love him and to love my step-father, both.

Then I tried to think if I'd ever lived in reaction to God, and I don't think I have. So what do I mean when I think/talk about living in response to God? It is the intention that makes the difference. Living in response to God means that I am intentionally looking for God's work and God's grace in my life and in the world around me. And when I see it, I live in ways that acknowledge God's work and God's grace.

So when I see natural beauty and recognize God's hand in its creation, I choose to live in a way that appreciates and sustains that natural world, to the best of my ability. And when I know God's forgiveness for my irritable attitude, I choose to live in a way that also grants grace to those around me. A great example of this is my current peaceful frame of mind when driving. I used to be an antsy, easily upset driver, watching for the "stupidity" of those other drivers. Now, most of the time, I am able to simply slow down and allow the other driver to drive his/her way, without my derision. This may not make much difference to the other drivers, as I've never been a road rager, but it's sure more pleasant for me and my passengers, and a better model for my five-year-old!

And when I read Psalm 66:20 (NIV), its words inspire my deep adoration of God. It says, "Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!" The Bible says this for ME???? How can this be? But because I live in response to God, I trust God's word, His promises, God's grace, even for me. I didn't, and CAN'T, start this relationship between God and me. I can only respond when God initiates.  I can only live in response.

So I walk through my days, watching for God's hand in my world. So I lie awake at night, thanking God for His grace extended to me. So I volunteer to help with community meals, to drive someone to the doctor, to watch a dozen two-year-olds, so that my life shows God's work in me, and so that someone else might see God's hand in their life as well.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Starting Over

I started working on glass this week: Celebrate! Except it isn't going exactly as planned. Or maybe...I didn't really have a plan. I just figured I'd "go back to doing glass" just like before.

It's not like before. I feel like I'm making my first cuts again! My left arm is weak and has a hard time steadying the glass for a cut. My cutter works best with two hands, and I can barely hold the glass with my left, so my right hand has to do all the work with the cutter. It's like starting over!!!

I've started over plenty in my life. I was the "new kid at school" multiple times. I taught at 7 schools in my teaching career. I've been divorced twice (ugh!), and married three times. I'm kind of an expert at starting over.

So what do I know about starting over? It's always hard and disconcerting in some ways. Even when it's eagerly anticipated, it's different and therefore difficult in part. It's often painful, which is definitely true this time! I know there's excitement about the possibilities and sorrow over the painful memories.

And I know that God gives us as many "do overs" as we need. He doesn't give up on us when we fail for the third or tenth time. He opens his arms and embraces us with grace. Even me. Even when I really mess up, He allows me to erase it all and begin again, washed clean, blessed. He continues to love me and call me, redeem me and reveal His work in me.

Compared to that grace, my current struggles with my arm are nothing! As frustrating and painful as it is, this is so inconsequential to my life on earth and absolutely infinitesimal to my eternal soul.

So, as I struggle to regain my strength and agility with the glass, I will meditate on God's grace, love, and beauty. Maybe inspiration will hit for a glass design. Definitely I'll catch a glimpse of grace!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Holy is a word I've been thinking about a lot lately. It's a word we use frequently in church, in song, and in prayer. Holy is certainly a word I think of when I think of God, but I read something recently that made me ponder its meaning anew.

I am reading Gospel-Powered Parenting by William P. Farley. My husband picked it up via Amazon recently, and I snagged it before he started reading it. It has lots of good things to say to me, as a parent to a five-year-old, but in Chapter 4, Farley really challenged my thinking.

To paraphrase, he says that the word holy isn't about being perfect or pure, but about being held apart from everything else, being separate. He states that the opposite of holy isn't evil, which would've been my antonym choice. Instead, the opposite of holy is common.

Doesn't that totally change the connotation?? I've been mulling over it ever since.

I've come to realize that I can't totally throw out the idea of holiness being perfect and pure. Maybe I'm off-base, but it seems that being perfect and pure complements being separate. God is held apart from our common, profane world. He is perfect and pure because he is undefiled by our sin. He cannot be in sin's presence any more than we can be in His perfect and pure presence... without Christ's intervention. 

It's a paradigm shift to think of God's holiness to include being held apart from the world's evil. For me, it emphasizes my desperate need for Christ's intervention on MY behalf. I can't begin to be holy on my own. No way! I can sometimes imagine being somewhat good, but being something other than common is far beyond me. In order to be in God's presence, I must be holy, therefore I must cling to Christ's redemption. All my hope is in Him.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Repair Work

Almost two months ago, I took this picture of the repair work I had accumulated. My plan was to go on our European trip and return to fix these pieces. Instead, I broke my elbow and tore ligaments in it... on the first day of our vacation.

Since our return from Europe in late July, my elbow limitations have kept me from even going in to my shop, until yesterday. My arm is feeling good enough that I went in, swept up, and actually repaired the small piece on the right side of this picture! It was only soldering, but it felt good to get back on track.

I'm pretty sure my arm is well enough to pick up the pace and fix the rest of these repair jobs. I'm even considering what my next artistic piece will be (hint: birds!). And I'm beginning to think about which holiday I want to create a piece for and what it will be. It's delightful to begin thinking creatively again. I feel like I've been "on hold" for a while.

I feel like I've been "on hold" in other ways, too. My exercise routine has been drastically altered since weight-lifting, swimming, biking, and kayaking are all elbow-dependent. But I'm glad to say I haven't put my spiritual life "on hold." I have kept up with my reading and praying. I thank God for that. We have worshiped in a few different churches over the past two months, including St. Paul's in London and places where my husband supplied the preaching for a vacationing minister.

God has been working on necessary repairs in my life during this time. Not just healing my elbow, but continuing to change my heart and my mind to seek Him more, to follow Jesus more closely, and to grow in many ways. I am thankful that I am NOT finished because there is so much of me that is still selfish, petty, and irritable, and I ask God to continuously do the repair work so vital to my life. Amen.