Wednesday, November 28, 2012


 I've been doing a lot of glass repair work and restorations lately. It's partly because it was stacking up during the time of my broken elbow, and it's partly because I wanted to clean up the studio before working on new projects.

But it's got me to thinking...What does restoration mean in the context of God? It's an inherently messy process in my glass studio; is it messy for God?

I like the idea of restoration because it takes a product that was originally very  nice (perfect, in God's case, since He created us to be perfect) and cleaning it up, adding new parts as needed, to become new again.

When I restore a glass piece, I cannot make it exactly like it was created to be. It's impossible to match historical glass precisely. Sometimes I have to substitute wood pieces for rotted sections. I use the original materials as much as possible, but it's not usually possible to recreate the piece exactly.

But the Bible says that God will restore us to perfection, to everything we were created to be. Whoa! What a promise! My restoration work is highly imperfect, but it pleases me to "fix up" a piece. How much more joy God must get from the idea of restoring us to all we were created to be!

And what a thing to contemplate: We, imperfect and flawed as we are, are going to be restored to perfection. Because God loves us enough to provide Grace through Jesus Christ, we can look forward to the future knowing that we will one day truly be all we can be.

Amazing. Wonderful.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


This picture shows a detail of my piece, "Good.", a piece depicting creation, including man. God created man and woman to share His joy, to receive His love, to worship Him. But humans failed. Eve sinned. Adam sinned. We sin. We are all fallen.

And God loves us anyway. He loves us enough to die for us! This is the Good News... The healing of our relationship with God. This is the heart of God's message in the Bible. He loves us.

And, oh, what a difficult thing to explain to an almost-6-year-old who feels unlovable!

Our youngest has had a hard few weeks. We have traveled a lot to help take care of an ailing grandparent. We have been out of our routine. This is hard for our wee one; she thrives on routine! And on one particular occasion, one of our extended family members said something very hurtful to this almost-6-year-old. Not meaning to be cruel, but it was taken very hard by our child, piercing her tender heart.

And WOW! Has her behavior showed her stress! She has been whiny. Crabby. Demanding. Defiant. Melodramatic over little problems. Unpleasant in all sorts of ways!

Today, as I rubbed her back while she wailed uncontrollably, I asked her, "What are you crying about?" repeatedly. Not to be annoying, but to get to the core issue(s). Her answers, in order, were:

1) "Because so-and-so was mean to me!"
2) "Because I want to go to so-and-so's house!"
3) "Because you yelled at me!"
4) "Because I was naughty in school!"
5) "Because (breaking into uncontrollable sobs) I think you and Daddy don't love me anymore!"

Much cuddling and sobbing later, she explained that she didn't think we could love her because she'd been so naughty in school. (She had been pretty obnoxious, but every parent knows that a child's misbehavior doesn't lead a parent to stop loving him/her!) I asked her if she thought that being naughty in school was worse than stealing, or if stealing was worse than being naughty in school.

She looked puzzled and said that stealing was worse. I said I agreed and asked if she remembered who Zaccheus was. She did. I asked if Jesus loved Zaccheus before or after Zaccheus had stopped stealing. "Before," she said. I reminded her that Jesus had loved Zaccheus while he was still a stealer (her word).

And He did. And He does.

He loves us when we're selfish. Crabby. Defiant. Hurtful. Deceitful. He loves us anyway.

We all have those times when we feel utterly unlovable. When we behave in unlovable ways! When even our mommas would struggle to find lovable characteristics to point out...

And that's when Jesus loves us enough to die for us. That's some powerful love.

I pray it's a love that my daughter saw today, heard today, felt today. I pray it's a love she will carry with her for her entire life.

Monday, November 19, 2012


My husband and I have two parents with terminal illnesses right now. One is still feeling pretty good, although routines are being changed due to changes in health. Another is in hospice care at this time. The end is nearer than we'd like for both. Like all children, we would like to keep our parents here on earth for all of our lives!

We are considering what life will be like without these loved ones. It's a hard thing to think about, talk about, and plan for. The hardest for me is discussing it with my almost 6-year-old. She's already asked me what would happen if Dad or Mom would die. Beloved grandmas and grandpas who die will only bring that fear to loom larger.

I find myself returning, while pondering these terminal illnesses, to the thought that we are all terminal. None of us is going to escape this life without dying (unless Jesus returns during our lifetime). We do not know how or when we will die, but we will die. A scary thought for most.

From where do we gain comfort? If all of our loved ones (and we, ourselves) are terminal, from where does our security come? How can I reassure a 6-year-old when there is no promise that I will accompany her to high school graduation?

I find my answer in the first question of the New City Catechism (and several others). It says, "What is our only hope in life and death? That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ." The scriptural basis for this answer is Romans 14:7-8. 

And so I reassure our little one by reminding her of how God cared for her before Mom and Dad did. And of the promise of God that he will care for her always. In every circumstance. Forever.  And that God promises the same thing for sick Grandmas and Grandpas. And for those of us left behind in grief.

If I promise to be her security myself, what happens when I die? I can promise her that I will take care of her every day of my life, and that her daddy will take care of her every day of his life. I can remind her that she has a multitude of loving relatives who would step up to care for her. But her eternal security is found in God. I want her to know that.

And today, I need a reminder of that for myself, as well. Yes, our parents will die. So will our children's parents. Even our children themselves will die. Isaiah 41:10 holds us up, though: "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Thursday, November 15, 2012


This is the first piece I've created since my injury in July. I've done a bit of repair work, but no actual creative pieces. And it's been really difficult! In part, because I don't have the stamina to work for long periods due to pain in my elbow. And in part, because of the frame this piece is being created for.

This frame is perfect in many ways! I love the color and the style. It's unique, and I appreciate that.

But it has only one right angle.

And that makes it difficult to build. I started with the one right angle in the 90 degree corner of my lead board and built outward in all directions. That seemed right, since that is the way I've built all my pieces. But it isn't working. You can see a nail along the bottom of the lead board where I've shimmed out the framing to make it better. It's still not working. It's not right because the other framing pieces are cut at 45 degree angles (that make a 90 degree corner) and the other corners aren't right angles.

ARGH! I just want it to work RIGHT! I can't seem to figure out how to make it right.

And what an analogy for my life right now. I am struggling with several broken relationships. I've tried to the best of my ability to "fix" things, but it's not working. Apologies have been botched or ignored. Mistakes have been made. Emotions are high. I just want it to be all right! I've tried so hard!

But that's just the thing. Right? We can't do it... not without God. I will fail every time that I try to do it myself. I cannot be righteous without Jesus' sacrifice. I can't get it right. I can only give it to God for Him to make right. And even then, right might not be the way I imagine right to be... because it's God's version of right that is truly Right.

I don't know if I will ever get the glass piece right, but I will give the project to God. I'm sure it will be better than anything I can do alone. And I don't know if my struggling relationships will ever be made right, but I give them to God, as well. I lay that burden down at the foot of the cross. And I pray that I will receive guidance in any changes I need to make... and that the others involved will be touched by God's hand, too.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Any Good at That?

We all like to be good at what we do. And doing our best is a good trait! Colossians 3:23 even says to slaves, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."

But I am a bit taken aback at the pressure for excellence I see some people put on their children. I was swimming at the Y in Milwaukee this week, and I saw a man and his two sons. The boys were 4 and 6, maybe. They were both good swimmers, but the father (I'm assuming here, but they were physically similar.) was walking along the pool's edge, pushing them to improve their strokes, speed, and endurance. Now, there is nothing wrong with parents helping their children to succeed, especially if the area of endeavor is inherently interesting to the child(ren)... BUT, it made me think about the importance of those things we push on our children... and maybe ourselves.

I am good at glass work. There are times I struggle with pride in my work; I want it to all be for the glory of God, but sometimes I get in the way. Even more important, though, is what I pressure our five-year-old to excel at... What do I want HER to strive for?

If I had made a list a week ago, it might have looked like this:

*Be kind
*Understand her own emotions and express them appropriately
*Be a good reader
*Understand math well
*Develop her natural ability in music and art

We work on all of these, continually. She is making progress in every area, but we still see needs and push her sometimes in these things. We also provide her with opportunities to develop skills she's interested in, but aren't natural abilities, like ballet and gymnastics. I push her to work hard and learn in these, too. Success, right? That's what parents are supposed to be doing, right?

But when I look at this list today, I want to scream at myself: WHERE IS GOD? Where is what JESUS said is most important: Love God and Love Others!?

Now, I don't want you to get the idea that we don't teach our five-year-old about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We do. We read the Bible every day with her. We pray multiple times per day. She attends church and religious education classes. She and I are memorizing Bible verses in homeschool. We volunteer for child care and preparing meals. But where is my PUSH for her to excel in these areas? Where is the DRIVE to point out, at every opportunity, how we can love God and others right here and right now, like I do with reading and math?