If you’ve ever been broken: Kintsugi

suffering, Uncategorized

Are you broken? Suffering, hurting? Going through a trial and wondering how it could all work out okay? If you feel that your situation may be beyond repair, then consider kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of mending broken pottery:

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The 400+ year old Japanese art of kintsugi (golden repair) or kintsukuroi (golden joinery) is a pottery repair method that honors the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing, not hiding, the break.

An art form born from mottainai – the feeling of regret when something is wasted – the cracks are seamed with lacquer resin and powdered gold, silver, or platinum, and often reference natural forms like waterfalls, rivers, or landscapes.

This method transforms the artifact into something new, making it more rare, beautiful, and storied than the original. source

broken-wood-fired-tea-bowl

Wood-fired broken bowl

wood-fired-bowl-kintsugi-repair

Wood-fired bowl restored with gold

source

I am broken. Yet God has put me back together and mended the broken spots.

If someone were to look at my life before I surrendered my life to Jesus, they would have simply seen broken shards, like pottery in the picture above.

You would assume that these broken pieces were useless, and not fit for repair. You would throw them out, without further thought, and even be responsible in doing so.

Some pieces of my life were thoughtlessly or maliciously broken by others. There was rejection, abuse, and degradation.

Some of the fractures were caused by my own doing. Self-harm, bad choices, self-loathing, and destruction.

No matter how many tiny pieces of shattered fragments were scattered along my life’s path, God has filled in the missing places with His healing resin, His presence and peace.

Even now, there are hurting places that don’t make sense to me. I am sure, because of the kintsugi type of work that God has done before, that it will result in something more precious, even though I cannot yet see it.

You may feel beyond repair, but you have a Great Potter, God, who says that you are surely not, and your pain will not be wasted.

If you and I submit our hearts to God, He will restore and mend our broken places. He will ensure that our suffering has a purpose and our lives will be a beautiful display.

Will you allow God to come in to those broken places? Like kintsugi, your life and story is even more beautiful and has more value when it has been restored.

Kintsugi is a process. At first, it simply looks like what it is, broken pieces glued back together. It must be refilled with resin and sanded several times before it’s ready for the gold dust to illuminate and beautify the scars.

When we allow Jesus’ presence and peace to come into our broken places, He will redeem them and our lives will gleam with the gold of His healing touch. Our pain need not be wasted.

Just ask Him to come in, and He will.

 

Christine

 

 

 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

Isaiah 64 says:

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

Read all of Isaiah 64 here

 

 

Walk by faith, not by sight

Christianity
IMG_3533

No more progressive lenses, I’m switching between readers and distance glasses.

Have you ever wanted to dance at a doctor’s office? Kiss and hug your doctor? Weep for joy with thanks and gratitude at your doctor’s office? Inside I wanted to, recently, but I could tell by Dr. Romero’s reserved demeanor that I should keep the displays of emotion to a minimum. I simply ended with, “Tell your wife to give you a big hug and kiss.” My happiness was because the doctor gave me a clear and concise explanation for the double-vision and migraines that have been troubling me for the past couple of years. I had a micro-vascular stroke during a severe migraine at that point in time (2.5 years ago) and it caused a palsy in the oblique muscle of my eye, resulting in double vision. Eureka! It all made sense now….

In more simple terms, a killer migraine caused a “short” in the nerve that goes to my eye muscle, causing it not to work properly, so that I now have double vision. That causes a vicious cycle of more migraines and other complications. I’m pretty happy with this news. It doesn’t really change the circumstances, but it does affirm what I’ve been telling doctors and everyone who will listen for quite a while now. My takeaway…we know our own body better than anyone. Except for our Maker. And boy, are we wonderfully and intricately woven together!

Walk by faith, not by sight. These words have a more profound meaning than ever before to me, because without my glasses, I see everything double! Even with my glasses, my eyes fatigue very easily and sometimes I can only do half of what I’d planned in a day. That used to really frustrate me and make me so mad. Kicking and screaming mad inside. Feeling sorry for myself mad.

Recently walk by faith, not by sight means when I don’t have sight, quite literally, because of fatigued eyes, I must rest. Rest can be active, you know. That’s something I’m learning. When I am not sleepy at all and it’s only 1:00pm in the afternoon, but my eyes must rest, I am forced to close them. I have choices in that moment. I can be really frustrated at my situation, and obsess on what I’m not able to do at that time, or I can simply take the time to be still.

Chasing a rainbow

God, Uncategorized

rainbow

First of all, I must declare that I love rainbows. This post isn’t slamming on them. But I’m finding that looking for answers to health problems can be like chasing an elusive rainbow.

My health has been really up and down for the past year and a half. No conclusive answers yet. There are lots of tests that I’ve done but nothing has yielded anything definite. I’m on this road trying to navigate through trusting God and searching for answers. He made me and knows exactly what is going on with my whacked-out neurological system. And yet the answer isn’t clear. While I’m trusting Him to lead me, sometimes I just want answers. Sometimes I chase hard after the rainbow looking for the prize, a diagnosis, at the end of the rainbow.

Sometimes I feel at perfect peace with my limitations. Sometimes I am tired of chasing the rainbow. Sometimes I look into various google searches for the elusive prize.

Most of the time I’m somewhere in between, and I just have to declare the truth aloud to myself. My body isn’t really mine, it’s God’s. He made it, He knows every nuance about it, and I can trust Him to provide answers when the time is right. I don’t have to tire myself and expend all of my resources or obsess on finding a diagnosis.

Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.
 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm.

Psalm 20:6-8

Daily bread and health

Uncategorized

The overall theme of my life right now is daily bread.

bread

Do you ever feel as if you don’t have enough time/energy/resources/health to accomplish your daily plans?

I have felt that way and struggled for the past few months because of health challenges. I have often felt frustrated and incompetent because my body doesn’t always cooperate with my plans. With my health situation, I am not sure from one day to the next if I’ll be able to follow through on my daily plans. This can be discouraging and sometimes makes me downright angry. Until a couple of months ago.

In February we visited our friend’s church and ironically, the sermon was about healing. We were reminded that God does hear and answer our prayers for healing. However, He doesn’t always answer the way we want Him too. I don’t want to sound irreverent, but uggggghhhhhhhh. Sometimes He doesn’t answer the way we want. He still loves us in spite of that and His ways are higher than our ways. When He doesn’t answer our prayers with a complete healing, we can trust Him for our daily bread.

Here’s what I mean by that: Like the Israelites in the desert, He lovingly supplies what you and I need each day. Not what I think I need, but what He knows I need.

This truth from Pastor Brian’s sermon has coincided with a study that I’m doing on the Old Testament tabernacle in the wilderness. Just so happens that I keep going back to the subject of daily bread and manna that God provides for His newly freed people.

I am still facing the same physical challenges and health issues, but I’m not so frustrated and angry for the past couple months. I am trusting God for my daily bread. On the days when I feel like it’s only a few crumbs, I’ve started asking God what does He want me to do with the bits that He’s provided for that day.

If you have thirty minutes, check out this great video of the sermon that I mentioned above.

God’s Plan for Your Life Sermon  Click on 02.03.13 Healed

You’ll be glad that you did!

Photo credit: Vegan Richa  Richa is one of my favorite food bloggers. Beautiful pictures with delicious vegan food.

Thoughts

suffering, truth

Most of us have experienced things in our life that cause us pain. I have endured, survived, and thrived after pains, joys, traumas, and the normal ups and downs that are common to man.

For many years I struggled to make sense of traumas in my youth, abuses to me and to people I love. I agonized over trying to make sense and reconcile two realities that I know are true: God is love, and He was there; and there is real evil in the world and there are people who do horrible things.

I can’t tell you exactly when or how it happened, but one day I suddenly realized that I no longer was pained over these two coexisting realities. Glorious freedom and peace ensued. It’s not that I had it all figured out, but just that I made peace with the fact that I would never figure it out.

However, I am faced with the frustration of this type of thing again with physical limitations in my health. I do know that God is love. He is fully aware of my plight and cares for me. At the same time I am not fully healed. This causes me to feel as if my brain is on overdrive at times.

I know that you and I cannot make sense of evil and sickness and suffering in the world and the truth that God is real, He is present and He is all-powerful. My assignment for myself this week is to stop thinking so much and to stop trying to make sense of it all.

Does it ever feel like your brain looks like this? Mine sure does!

Does it ever feel like your brain looks like this? Mine sure does!

Instead, I will meditate on truths that are real and unchanging. God is good.

Psalm 119:68

You are good, and what you do is good; 

teach me your decrees.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.

 

Photo credit: charlottesiems.com

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

Photography

2012: Our year in pictures

 

2012 was a huge year of transition for our family. Our milestones this year represent huge change. The changes are a joy, and yet there’s a little sadness about them.

Our son moved away from home for the first time to live in campus housing at his college. We are excited for him and proud of him!

Our daughter started high school at our local public school after homeschooling for several years. She really likes it on all fronts: academically, socially, and athletically. (How’s that for lots of -ly words!)

I’ve been struggling with some medical issues and am learning to navigate this new course. This has caused me to really evaluate what I believe about the sovereignty of God and suffering. My conclusion is that God is always sovereign, even in our suffering.

My husband is the most consistent person that I know; no change there! Yea!! He’s there through thick and thin (metaphorically and literally) and a great source of comfort and companionship. Besides that, he laughs at most of my jokes!

The one constant, unchanging thing in our lives this year is God. He is unmovable, unshakeable, and I don’t know how I’d get through life without Him.

This is from the wordpress.com Weekly Photo Challenge.

Not who I wanna be yet

Cancer, Christianity

Sometimes I want to be further along than I am. Let me explain. My friend Connie recently had surgery for cancer. She’s one of these super-gentle, soft, rare people who just ooze loving-kindness. (Totally opposite of me: loud, sometimes crass) I absolutely love her! A couple of days before the surgery, I asked her how I could pray for her. Wanna hear how she answered? That God would be glorified. I was speechless. I mean, I love God. Immensely. And I want Him to be made famous through my life. But I can honestly tell you that if I wasn’t trying to act all spiritually mature, I wouldn’t answer the way Connie answered if asked the same question. I would probably have said something like “Pray that it won’t hurt, that they’ll get all of the cancer” or “Please pray for my doctor.” I want to be able to answer the way she did, with God’s glory as my number one concern if I was in her situation.

Sometimes I just want to be more spiritually mature than I am. I am also finding that I can’t “fake it till I make it” with this stuff. I can only be super-honest with myself and God. It’s okay if that’s not where I am yet. I can ask God to grow me so that His glory and fame is more important than my comfort. I’m not who I want to be. Yet.

Relax

Christianity, Jesus

google.com

from google.com

Check out this great devotional for today, September 27th, from the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It’s short and is written from the perspective of Jesus talking to us, His children:

Relax in My everlasting arms. Your weakness is an opportunity to grow strong in awareness of My Almighty Presence. When your energy fails you, do not look inward and lament the lack you find there. Look to Me and My sufficiency; rejoice in My radiant riches that are abundantly available to help you.

Go gently through this day, leaning on Me and enjoying My Presence. Thank Me for your neediness, which is building trust-bonds between us. If you look back on your journey thus far, you can see that days of extreme weakness have been some of your most precious times. Memories of these days are richly interwoven with golden strands of My intimate Presence.

Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 27:13-14

I couldn’t have said it better! That’s all folks……

Pretzel brain

MS, suffering

There are times when we can be our own worst enemy. Take the past two weeks, for instance. Facing the real possibility that I may have MS has been on the forefront of my mind. In the past two weeks, there have only been a handful of days that I have been well enough to do some of my normal activities. That’s got me thinking a lot about suffering and why God allows it.  I have asked so many questions:

Is this a chastisement for a sin? Is God really enough for me? Why??? Will I ever feel better? Jesus is a Healer; will He heal me?

I’ve had plenty of time to think since rest has been mandatory, make that TOO much time to think….sometimes it felt like my mind was twisted into a pretzel!

nightbaking.blogspot.com

Honestly, I’ve been wracking my brain and studying the Bible to see how Jesus responds to the sick and suffering. I’ve read blogs and books on the topic. Friends have given their perspective. Nonetheless, I felt like I have been hitting my head against a brick wall trying to make sense of it all. It’s finally boiled down to these simple truths that I know: God is love. (1 John 4:8) He is good, and everything He does is good. (Psalm 119:68) When I don’t understand my circumstances, I can trust the heart of God to do good things in the midst of difficulty.

Here are some of the things I’m learning:

1. Humility. Self-sufficiency is being stripped daily. I am having to admit that I am weak right now. Words cannot express how much I hate that! Admitting that I am physically weak and need help is good for me; I just don’t like it. A friend recently pointed out that this is a good thing, because if we aren’t needy people, how can we recognize that we need God?

2. To accept help. I’m learning that I can only accept help from others after I have embraced humility and let go of self-sufficient pride. I’m American, so I was born with the “pull up your bootstraps and git ‘er done” mentality. Accepting help flies in the face of all that Americans hold dear. There is a balance here, because if I let myself get into a victim-type of mentality, there would be the temptation to just give up on an active life and let people do everything for me. Accepting help has been really hard for me. It’s simple things, like carpool and making dinner or cleaning the kitchen, or laundry, that are revealing the sin of self-sufficiency in my heart. I believe God’s heart is that instead of self-sufficient, we should be God-sufficient. How can we accept free gifts from God like love, salvation, or grace, if we can’t let our friend help us with carpool?

3. People love me. Wow. People love me. And they want to help.

4. Some things are beyond my ability to understand. It’s healthy to read and research a topic concerning God, asking Him for insight and clarity. However, there comes a point when we must accept the reality that our finite minds can’t comprehend the magnificent complexity of God.

franchisefool.com

Psalm 119:68 You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.

1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Don’t waste your cancer! Or any trial for that matter…..

Cancer, Christianity, Jesus, suffering

In 2006, Pastor John Piper announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He responded to his diagnosis with the following:

“This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in these days have been unusually sweet.”

These challenging words are an excerpt from a letter to Pastor John Piper’s church.  Click here to read Pastor Piper’s entire letter to his church announcing his trial with cancer. It will probably rock you a little bit, as it did me.

As an American Christian, most of the time I have the wrong attitude about trials. We often feel forsaken and forgotten when we have a serious illness or undergo some sort of major trial. I have definitely felt that way lately as I’ve had an ongoing health trial. Piper reminds us that this isn’t the case, and he gives some great practical applications in his 16 page booklet Don’t Waste Your Cancer. You can download the PDF form and read it for free from desiringgod.org website.

This is a great booklet if you are suffering with a chronic or terminal illness, or if a loved one of yours is afflicted with sickness. It may just give you a huge shift in the way that you view trials, especially medical ones.