Question: Is your Unremarkable Life Uncommonly Beautiful?

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This question is taken from the if:equip Bible Study called Reflections of God: The Theology of Beauty. Please join me in this study you won’t be sorry!

My life? Yes it is.

This is my answer to a question from week 3 day 2.

From a young age I have loved the common, old, tattered, torn-bits and pieces of life. Things in nature that are washed and worn away with water and sunlight, fading gray with time. I was never happier than when discovering a trunk in the attic full of old photos and yesteryear lace. I love the musty smell of time and the colors of age, umber and chalky teal, that patina metal and the glittery treasures from simpler days. I loved them because they lived a life, to everyone else they were things to be carted off and discarded but to me they had a story to unravel and listen to.

I liken this to my own life. Glittery treasure just needing a good polish-not too much so that the patina is removed-but just enough to bring to light the deep beauty that lies beneath.  My life isn’t extraordinary, I haven’t saved the world or invented some thing remarkable.  I have not changed the course of history or won any nobel prize.

However, God continues, in the quiet of my heart, to showcase me as His Masterpiece. Now, why is that? And even though I wear a crown of  soft gray and the lines of crows feet creep from the edges of my blue eyes. Despite the birth wrung tummy and less youthful silhouette I can still say this of Him,

“…But You(Lord) called me beautiful

when You saw my shame

and You placed me on the wall anyway.”~  listen here to this song by Nicole Nordeman~ Song, Anyway  SO Good!

This is what El Roi, the God who sees all things, does. He takes everyday lives and makes them extraordinary. This is truth. Think about the life of Joseph-the youngest, David-the shepherd boy, Tamar-a prostitute? How about Gideon-the weakest of the lowest tribe, and Moses-a murderer, need I go on?

So what does my unremarkable life share with these uncommon heroes of the faith? Each one of these stories is about someone common doing uncommon things, about the unremarkable bringing the remarkable to light. Believe it or not, myself along with these others are all marked by the beauty of God’s redemption. Now mind you, I will probably will not save the land from famine or become King or save the lineage of the Messiah. And I most likely won’t, defeat an army with only 100 men or save an entire people from slavery.

But I am going to live as if I could.

That is the intersection of unremarkable and uncommonly beautiful. Why don’t you meet me there.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

God sees your treasure, dear girl. Amen.

 

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How To Be Broken & Beautiful

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Photo from Lifegate.com

This year has been one of those years. A marker year ringing with transition. We all have those years. Not to bore you with details but several things happened. I transitioned from stay-at-home-keeper-of -all -things-family to full-time teacher, suffered with a child over great loss, turned 50 and continued to care for my husband and his unusual medical condition. I was feeling broken and lonely.

But I was never alone.

Around March, in a moment of solace, I was reading Psalm 23 about the Good Shepherd. Two things stood out to me that morning. The phrase…”you make me -lie down in green pastures…” at the beginning and “surely your goodness- shall follow me all the days of my life.” So my question was, how do I do what you have put before me and continue to shine your goodness Lord?  I am dulled but my edges are sharp and raw, real. I am not holy or light or salt.  I am cracking.

 

I am weighted and worn.  I needed to be unearthed by the one I call Yahweh, the One who is more than enough.  

For whatever reason, my search took me to Google and the words broken and beautiful and I found Kinstugi: the Japanese Art of repair. It literally means “golden joinery”. In Japan this art form, has been used by  Potters for over 400 years to repair broken pottery.

My Potter, showed me, my answer.

In a golden, symbolic, language I understood.

We are all still broken, and will be throughout our lives, but as the Potter, the Lord mends our shards and sharp pieces, our fragmented broken places, with His golden light and love. My veins and cracks now have a beauty all their own, a testament, a story. So the Lord with intention, took my struggles and gave them glimmer, He polished and mended my raw edges because He is good.

Yes, His Goodness shall follow me all the days of my life and the joints of my story now have a golden glow.  Amen.

Here is a video with more information on the art of Kinstugi

Beauty Takes Work

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From Reflections of God: The Theology of Beauty:

“Gardens are not made in singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.  Even God labored for six days to create a beautiful world.”

~Rudyard Kipling

Sought after beauty:

Blackberry Brambles

A Man Named Jesus

 Adoption

Dirty Dishes

Tarnished Silver

Lord thank you for beauty we have to think about, beauty that is shy. That’s my favorite kind of beauty, the kind that needs to be sought after. The kind of beauty that is discovered with a bit of time and a quiet place to think .~Amen

A Student of Beauty

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Whoa it has been awhile since I have written here… lots has changed in my life this past year but one thing hasn’t (I am sure many of you know where I am going with this) the constant love of our Savior! I have been reminded time and time again of His goodness to me.

While I have  had some down time this summer (I got a job as a teacher last fall-see what I mean, glorious goodness!) I have been doing a Bible study from if:equip called Reflections of God: The Theology of Beauty and it talks about the following practice of becoming a student of beauty.  It is my mission this summer and hopefully beyond, to quietly begin a practice of writing down 5 things of beauty everyday.

Today’s 5 things of beauty:

  • Happy art students
  • The color of ice tea
  • Suzanne’s white hair
  • birdsong
  • paint on my fingers

The verse seek and ye will find from Matt. 7:7  or from Jeremiah 28:13   talk about this. As a student of beauty I will begin to live and practice this into my everyday life. I want to see with eyes of the Savior. Will you join me?

Living as God’s Beloved with the Women of Elim Evangelical Free Church

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photo7Living as God’s Beloved.

This was our theme for our creative gathering, with the sweet women of Elim Evangelical Free Church. What a joy-filled day! They were welcoming, excited and ready to experience God in a new and different way. The church decor was not only relaxing and inviting it was the perfect setup for what we do at made. They served up a delicious meal of hearty soups, bread and salad and the hospitality and fellowship was genuine and inclusive!

I was filled with anticipation too.

I always am.

It is such a privilege to share God’s truth with others. Sharing the word of God through the creative process can be scarey but from the photos all you can see is creative joy and fun!

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As a creative and a maker of things, I marvel at what an imagination can do if given space, time and encouragement!  I love teaching (if you know me personally you would say that is an understatement) but it is true. I am always tickled when I give the same set of instructions and the same medium to work with,  to a room full of inspired women. I never tire of seeing the eyes widen in discovery or the infectious smile triggered by the spark that ignites creative inspiration.

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This Creative Gathering was no exception. The Creative Team provided guided creative activities through listening and quieting exercises, watercolor play,  journaling and group discussion and a clay project. All of these activities disengaged the analytical mind allowing the language of the imagination  to form something outside of themselves. They got to see their thoughts, ideas, even their faith and gain new perspective.  All through the lense of scripture and Living as God’s Beloved. It was an amazing day!

What I also never tire of, is the connection that is made as sisters in Christ. It is wonderful to watch the creative circle grow as the Lord leads us in new directions. May the Kingdom of the Lord continue to be proclaimed and women of Elim never forget that you are fearfully and wonderfullymade.photo12

 Here are some memories from our day, enjoy!

Thanks Women of Elim! We had an amazing day with you all!

~Heather and the Creative Team at made.

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Where Are You Going This Year?

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Where are you going?

Do you have a map or a plan?

                                                         How will you get there?

Why are you going?

I often ask my kids these questions. Seems silly even now that they are in college. Call me an overprotective mom, but they are essential questions that equip us no matter what journey we take. Whether it is back to college or off on a new career path or into uncharted waters. The beginning of a new year seems to be a time when we reorient our compass and course correct. Which means, it is a good time to ponder these questions once again.

So, however you answer these questions this new year, I hope that you will take time to remember your extraordinary story, contemplate your value, and cultivate new ideas and a new future.  Oh and don’t forget, make space for creative expression, because often it is the language that can help you make your map and get you where you are headed.  

Here’s to creating space for personal growth, spiritual connections and deep understanding in our lives this year! Enjoy slow, deliberate, meanderings along your path, use your map and above all never lose site of why you are going on the journey. 

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

~Heather and the made. Creative Team

A Harvest of Thanksgiving

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Tis’ the season to be thankful…

Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love the idea of school starting back up again, and the new school supplies. I love to put away the short sleeve shirts and pull out the warm cozy sweaters that have been hiding since spring. I love that I can add layers to warm up, rather than fighting the ability to cool off. I love the changing colors of the leaves through the season until they drop from their branches. And I love the idea of sharing openly and telling others what I am thankful for on Thanksgiving.

But why wait until Thanksgiving to recognize all that God does for you each and every day? What a privilege it is to say “thank you” to God for the many everyday blessings that come our way!

God’s word says, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2

And also, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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As I reflect on Thanksgiving, it reminds me of the harvest season. Some synonyms for harvest are: reap, uncover, store, glean, and gather. These are very active verbs that can help describe a heart of thankfulness as a harvest. Uncover the hidden, forgotten things that we can be thankful for. Store up and remember the good that God has blessed you with. Reap the joy that is a direct result of thankfulness. Glean from the normal every day things that which is good, releasing what isn’t so. And gather the memories to be retold to your friends and family of God’s faithfulness, even through hard times.

I urge you to begin the search for the harvest that thankfulness brings. I find that it changes my outlook on life and the world in which I live. I have the privilege to see what God sees; finding the little things to be thankful for in the midst of some heavy storms of life. I recognize more of what God has done in my life when I take the time to reflect and give thanks for His personal love and care.

I am super thankful for many things. I am thankful for the made. team that provide opportunities to encounter God’s word and dwell there, understanding how God fearfully and wonderfully made us in His creative image! I encourage each of you, to participate in the next made. Creative Gathering and see what God desires to share with you, personally. This conversation with God does take time. It takes a quiet, intentional, and purposeful study of His Word.

I am also thankful for the family God has blessed me with and the gift they give to me in taking time during the month to explore my creative side. This is a true gift.

Slow and pause to reflect on today. Thank God for the colorful changing leaves falling like snowflakes in the breeze, the patchy blue sky after a grey dreary day, the small scurrying critters around the yard, or the light filtering through a stand of trees. Enjoy God’s creation during this season – take a walk, kick up leaves, breathe in the full aroma of fall ~ Enjoy your personal abundant harvest of thankfulness.

~Shauna- made. Creative Team 

Stormaggedon + made. = Rainbows?

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The day was all rainbows and smiles!

The day was all smiles and rainbows!

The news all around the Puget Sound centered around Stormageddon – two powerful storms approaching the Pacific Northwest and guaranteeing rain and wind that would come to close to hurricane strength.  Warnings to stock up on food and water, candles, fresh batteries for flashlights were featured on all newscasts.  This would be a storm for the books, one that would rival or be greater than the Columbus Day storm of 1962.

And of course, the brunt of the storm was to hit October 15, the same day as our made Gathering.  As schools and colleges cancelled events, the made team prayerfully consider cancelling.  But it was decided to move forward with our Gathering that had been planned for months, with a contingency plan in place should the storm become too great forcing us to end early.

Just as the impending storm had the ability to cause distraction from normal activities, so can the circumstances of our life.  We can easily become so over scheduled and overwhelmed that we go into high gear to prepare and fix and control whatever may come into our lives.

When the disciples were in the midst of a busy season of ministry Jesus told them to come away with Him to a solitary place.  Had I been a disciple my response to His invitation would have been, “wait, I will come but first I need to – fill in the blank – then I will take time away with you.”  And yet, Jesus calls his Beloved daughters to stop now and come.  He knows that even in the midst of busy seasons of life, what we need most is to come away to a solitary place.

And that is what our made Gatherings are intended to be – an opportunity to come away to a solitary place – to step out of the storms of life and enter into a place of peace, community, creativity and time with our Creator. On this day, despite the promised storms, we gathered together to reflect on what it means to live as God’s Beloved.  We entered into creative spaces as a response to God’s invitation; we journaled our way through scripture; we were fed and shared life and laughter.  Though it was rainy and windy outside, inside we enjoyed a precious time of renewal and refreshment.

We ended the day with an amazing reminder of our Creator’s love for us with a beautiful rainbow over Puget Sound. Stormegeddon never came, it fizzled out – but the rainbow was a reminder that God’s promises stand forever.

Perhaps you were unable to join us, but the good news is that Jesus’ invitation is an open one.  At anytime, despite the busyness and storms of life, He invites and welcome you, His Beloved, to come away to a solitary place with Him.  We look forward to seeing you at our next made Gathering, date TBD.

~Cindy Waple-Creative Team Member

God’s Beloved Child

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Sweet Hannah

This is our daughter Hannah. She is spunky and full of life! Her smile and energy make me thankful everyday that God gave her to us, as it was a long and windy road to motherhood. Of anyone in my life, Hannah has taught me the most about God’s love, and specifically God’s love for me. I often think about how much I love Hannah and God reminds me that He loves her even more than I do.

The truth is: God’s love for all of us is unimaginable! He cares for us even more than we love those most cherished in our lives. Maybe you need to be reminded of God’s love and how He tenderly watches over you like His own child.

Come away with us on Saturday, October 15th, 2016 to our Creative Gathering to be refreshed in God’s love for you. The Creative Gathering begins at 9:30 and goes to 4:30. We serve you a cozy Fall inspired lunch and afternoon snack. Register HERE  online or sign up at our made. table at First Presbyterian Church on Sunday mornings.

Sarah~The made. Creative Team

Inner Beauty

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I  bent down to pick it up. It was small, and, at first glance, it didn’t appear to be anything special. It had just been discarded by a woman walking with a child on the beach not far ahead of me. I heard her tell the child that it was not very pretty and not worth keeping. When I picked the shell up and looked at the outside I saw that the woman was right – the outside was, indeed, not very beautiful. But when I turned it over it nearly took my breath away. For on the inside I saw a delicate, gentle beauty. Soft shades of coral and peach. Such beauty. Inner beauty. As I held the shell on my open palm and marveled at what God had created I was reminded that the LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).

At our creative gatherings we encourage women to cultivate this inner beauty, their hearts, through creative projects, journaling, prayer, and music. On Saturday, October 15, 2016 we will be gathering to explore what it means to be God’s beloved. We hope you will join us!

To register, click here, or come to the sign-up table in Fellowship Hall on Sunday mornings at First Presbyterian Church, Tacoma.

Michelle ~ Creative Team Member