Friday, August 30, 2013

How does your garden grow?

I’m a gardener, and I love to tend my garden, but every season something in my garden just doesn’t behave.  Oh, and I guess I should confess I have a bit of a perfectionist streak in me as well... 

I was thinking about how my gardens are so much like life.  Just when you think you’ve got everything the way you’d like there are weeds, and if not weeds its sick or dying plants, or maybe a plant that gets too big for its place... And don’t get me started on storms...

I don’t know why I place unrealistic expectations on my garden... and even more why I place unrealistic expectations on life!

We’re not promised easy lives in this world, in fact we’re promised the opposite!!

John 16:33 - I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 15:18-20 - If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

I love my imperfect garden, it gives me great joy - even if I do have to keep weeding & transplanting & trimming... This helped me to reflect on God’s work in our lives as believers, His work of sanctification.  He has to pull things out of our lives, transplant His ways into our hearts, and trim back the excess... all to get us to be the people He designed us to be... and it brings Him joy to work in our lives!

Philippians 1:6 - ...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

(I hope you've enjoyed a stroll through my garden)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lessons from the Jewelers Bench...

Grace, that's the name I chose for this piece of jewelry when she was about 90% complete (or I thought she was about 90% complete).  My intention was to name her after Grace Kelly, also known as Her Serene Highness Princess Grace.  I wanted to name her this because she is "blonde", lovely, and graceful… like Princess Grace.  It was a bonus that I considered this to be a "serene" piece, and that Princess Grace was known as "Her Serene Highness".

And then… when I had finished all the sanding, buffing, polishing, and stone setting… and all I had left to do was attach her chain (99.9% complete)… disaster struck…  You see the little rings on the top that connect the chain, one of the original rings had a faulty solder joint - it had looked & felt strong, but when I went to twist the ring slightly to straighten it out the joint failed… Argh!!  I tried to repair while leaving the stone in place (I have a couple tricks that I tried), but the thickness of the metal she's made of prevented me from being able to get the solder to flow without heating the whole piece… so…  I had to remove the stone, solder a new ring on, etc...

Those who don't know the processes & time involved with making handmade jewelry may not appreciate the work involved… lets just say that I was set back several hours…

Then, when I was reworking it (2nd attempt) I again got to about 85% complete, had done quite a bit of prep buffing/polishing, was placing the stone in… and that same little ring fell off again… ARGH!!

On the 3rd attempt to finish her I had an equipment failure… my torch nozzle suddenly wasn't behaving… switched nozzles & the new one tried to work, then failed… changed tanks… finally some sticky yellow "goop" came out of the torch handle when I tried opening up the valve without a nozzle attached… that explained a lot… so I had to clean & dry my torch tips (drying involved leaving them setting in uncooked rice for a couple days)…  But… I finally got that ring attached… and I decided to set her aside for a while…

The first failure occurred on April 3rd, I had started her a couple days earlier on April 1st, and I finally finished her on April 24th.

Pardon me while I get a bit wistful…

When this piece broke the first time it was heartbreaking, and I cried out to God.  I begged & pleaded for His help to keep from having to do so many extra hours of work - after all I wanted the hours of work already invested to pay off.  That was when God got my attention, He reminded me what His Grace is about, His Grace is not earned by any work - it is a gift, plain & simple.

Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”

The timing of the struggle was also telling, it was as I was trying to finish the piece before getting to Church for Choir practice (I was running a bit late), it was just before I got a call from my husband telling me he had been injured in a hockey game (not serious), and it was the evening before my one day of the week (Thursday) that I devote to preparing my Bible Lesson for the Young Adults; this provided me with ample opportunity to reflect on how God has blessed me, and how I shouldn't let a "thing" cause me so much anguish.

Like that solder joint that looked & felt strong, but failed more than once, I also had (to others) looked & seemed strong, but fell apart when a little pressure was applied - ugh.  But what a beautiful reminder that God's Grace means I don't have to be strong, I don't have to be perfect, I'm accepted and loved just how I am.

Romans 5:1-11 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

So this is "Grace", a solid piece that reminds me of Grace Kelly but is also a solid reminder of God's Grace.