Monday, July 25, 2016

Shattered Lives and Stained Glass

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Eccl. 3:11

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

The art of stained glass

Stained glass--who doesn't love it? 

As a child when bored in church, I studied the vivid colors and the play of light through the brilliant windows. Sunday by Sunday, the glass transformed itself into different incredible pieces of art. I told myself stories about the pictures, moved my head to watch the changes and studied the shifting color.

shattered lives yield great beauty
I do have to admit, any stained glass--Tiffany style or simple panes of color--still mesmerize me. So I learned to do it myself.

To make a piece, I'd choose and exquisite piece of glass--one with texture and color and swirls. Always, the sheets were too big. Cut and ground, I lost much of what I savored.

Little pieces left over went into a box, and later be recreated in a sun catcher. Smaller piece become mosaics.

Hundreds of works of art are resurrected from shattered glass.

God makes all things beautiful in his time

Last week a wonderful woman graduated from a half-way house for recovering drug addicts. This is a monumental achievement--if you know anything about addiction, you'd understand how hard it is to achieve and how few make it.

She graduated with honors--only the second woman to do so in the history of the home. She has much to be proud of. Still, one more battle awaits her.

With addiction comes unrelenting guilt. The shame of:
  1. Time wasted
  2. Families destroyed
  3. Health compromised
  4. Sins committed
We can't undo the past. It's one of the primary principles of AA, NA or CR (Celebrate Recovery). We know God has forgiven, and He has thrown those sins as far as the east is from the west. Still our wrongs dog us.

But God will make all things beautiful in His time.

Out of our shattered lives, our pain and regrets, He will create a work of exquisite art:
  1. God will cut the pieces and solder them into place. 
  2. He will compliment the "faults" of the glass with other textures. 
  3. Taking the leftover pieces, the Lord will create more gifts and more talents, until every scrap of our lives has been made beautiful.
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Monday, July 11, 2016

God Is Love: What Does That Mean For Us?

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.1 John 4:16

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Two years ago my daughter discovered what she thought was menopause wasn't. A pregnancy test delivered the news that baby number three would arrive in August.

Sarah didn't need another baby. She had two phenomenal kids (even if I say so myself). Caroline (don't you like her name?) was twelve and David nine. Sarah's job was secure and daycare expenses finally ended. Time had come to retire the 2000 Honda and maybe get a minivan.

Luciana changed their plans.

It didn't matter a mite.

From the instant we knew L was on her way, we loved her. Seeing Luciana as she breathed her first, confirmed and solidified that love. Unconditional.

A (grand) parent's love is the closest we can approximate God's. He didn't need us. Jesus had the Father's entire love before any of us came around. The Apostle John  says in John 17:23, "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." (emphasis mine).

God the Father and His Son needed no one. Their world was complete. Yet the Triune God has loved us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). 

Before we did anything good, even while we sinned, He loves us. It doesn't change. Ever.

This does approximate L's mess.
Sarah still loves her.
Jesus loves you--mess and all.
At eighteen months, little Luciana discovered markers. The other day she covered a paper with blue in. She covered her blankets, bed, wall, legs, arms and mouth with it too. Her mamma didn't stop loving her--as a matter of fact, Sarah took photos and posted them for the world to see.

We serve a proud Father who loves us just the way we are. Just as Sarah bathed her daughter and washed her bedding, Jesus will clean us up and then brag about us.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Three People to Blame When Saying No

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Friends called my daughter.

Being a good mother, I understood her need for privacy, so I washed dishes while I listened. (I don't think the ploy fooled Sarah). They wanted her to go to a party. Everything in her body language indicated stress: she twirled her hair with her fingers, frowned, licked her lips, tensed her shoulders.

After five minutes, Sarah asked, "Mom, can I go to a party tonight?"

Being the indulgent mom I am, I gave the only answer possible. NO.

Instantaneously, her body language changed. Sarah relaxed, flopped back in her chair, and a smile played around her lips.

Her voice defied the apparent relief when she resumed her conversation. "My MOTHER said no!"

When she hung up, she hugged me. Peer pressure made her want to turn down a party that would've involved no adult supervision. In addition, alcohol and boys would be involved. She had an excuse all teens understood--an unreasonable mother.

From this incident, I've learned key lessons in saying no:

Blame it on someone else.

How to say no:

  1. Blame God. In all your endeavors, you need to pray. That is understood in all my blog posts. However, if God has called you to do something else, or to forgo this particular request--tell people, this is not God's direction for you. This isn't a cop-out. It's obedience.
  2. Blame a spouse or parent. Of course, I'm not implying that you lie. My husband always admonishes me to stop taking on too many activities. Because my first priority is Neil, I listen. He's wiser than I give him credit for most time, and more correct than I. Sometimes I can turn down an activity because "my husband would be unhappy."
  3. Blame yourself. We all have gifts. Mine are with youth--birth to early twenties. I love working with this age group. Although everyone says I'm extroverted, I'm not. It's the teacher in me who can push through discomfort being on display and enjoy interacting in an extroverted manner. I'd rather sit on the sidelines. Choose ministries that enhance your personality.
Probably all of this comes back to "blaming God."

Remember: we are not saved by works. Jesus admonished Martha for overworking even though every thing she did was good. Mary was "lazy." She only sat at Jesus's feet. That's all we have to do.

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