Scars of Gold

Kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by filling it with gold has been around for centuries. There are varying tales that attempt to trace back the origin of this process but all of the tales agree on one thing; it began with an emperor.
This art form still exists today but is not only reserved for the Japanese culture. Most of us know it by a different name; Restoration.

 

Is there hope after being broken? That is the question we ask ourselves and in most instances the answer we hear is “no”. Stories of defeat, despair, and resignation are constantly heard in our society and are accepted as normal. In fact one who rises out of failure is many times doubted, questioned, and scrutinized.
We try to hide our scars because they tell the stories of our lives and in many instances it is not an area we want to revisit. We begin to think if we hide them long enough that our very real past might somehow begin to fade away.
If this pagan emperor was able to see beauty in brokenness how could we be blind to it? What if there was a way to find beauty in the scars of life?
In God’s Hands, our scars are not meant to fade away but rather to be displayed in such a way that no matter how ugly and deep the scar is, what is illuminated is the restoration.
The Japanese belief states that a piece is more beautiful for having been broken. Thus, when a vase is broken, if it is filled with the originating material, the cracks would blend in and be virtually invisible. For this reason, in order for the brokenness to be appreciated it is highlighted. In the case of this art form, it is filled with gold.
God does the same thing. In restoration He brings us back to our original blueprint but does so in an enhanced manner. He doesn’t just piece us back together, heal our wounds and not allow any scaring so that we would fit back in with everyone else. On the contrary, in this restoration He magnifies those same scars so that we would stand out for the work He has done in us by filling us with His grace.
By grace we are carefully pieced back together and only through grace can the scars of our life appear beautiful! His grace overshadows all trauma, insignificance, disadvantage, and inadequacy brought upon by brokenness and replaces it with Value, Beauty, and Effectiveness.
In a way that only He can, He turns what was once a cause of disgrace into a testimony.

This is where imperfection meets perfection.

Consider the exchange that takes place; brokenness for wholeness.
His grace filling us, far supersedes anything we may have counted as a loss.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ – Philippians 3:8

True risk then comes from allowing others to see us as we really are. Fragmented individuals rescued by the Hand of God. No longer hiding our scars but placing them on display for the world to see and attesting to His mighty works.
Let’s take a look at what is deposited in us during this great exchange.

Value: One of the things that determine the value of an item is its history. Factors such as whom the item belonged to, and where it has been, all play a part. The demand for the item also helps to decide its worth.
The value that God places on us is the same. The bible tells us time and time again that we were purchased at a high price. The cost was Jesus! Thus, we belong to Him. No matter how misty our past has been, after restoration, we are no longer defined by brokenness or failures. Instead we are seen as overcomers. Where we have been no longer matters, but rather where we are going. Everyone yearns for true restoration, but apart from God, restoration is limited.

You were bought with a price purchased with preciousness and paid for by Christ; then do not yield yourselves to become in your own estimation slaves to men but consider yourselves slaves to Christ. 1 Corinthians 7:23

Beauty: Just like in the art of Kintsukuroi a vase is more beautiful for having been broken, so are we in the eyes of the Lord. Times of failure can leave us feeling dull and as if we have lost our luster, but it is actually the overcoming of these same trials that makes us shine brightest.

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…Isaiah 61:3

Effectiveness: Testimonies are born out of trials, failures, disappointments, or struggles. Our restoration is only complete when we share with others what has been done for us. This is our assignment; to not allow the enemy to silence our praise. The essence of an effective testimony is that one which reveals Christ’s grace.

And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death Revelation 12:11

Only God can take something, accentuate its flaws, and make it more beautiful than it was at the beginning.

But even more beautiful than the restored piece, are the Hands of the one that restored it!

2 Corinthians 12:9 says it like this …“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”…

Thank you Lord for Scars of Gold!

Coming Up for Air

I’ve never been a strong swimmer. As a matter of fact, I tend to stay in the shallow end of the beach, pool, or whatever body of water I may be in. Those non-swimmers out there may know exactly what I mean; its the safe end. The place where your feet touch the ground, where you still have control of your body, and most important of all, where you can breathe without difficulty as your head is above water.

I don’t enjoy the feeling of being fully immersed in the water as holding my breath is not something I’ve ever been good at. Its funny though, lately it seems that underwater is where I have been; at least metaphorically speaking.

Im not sure that one thing is to blame. Its more like a combination of many different things that have stirred up feelings of insecurity, anger, uncertainties, inability to cope, and different sleeping patterns which have all contributed to this drowning feeling I have recently been experiencing. This wouldn’t be the first time I have felt like this. It seems that life in the recent years can best be described as rolling hills. There have been high moments, low moments and then there have been the moments in between. Yet, the one thing that makes today different then times past is my ability to recognize that wherever I’m at, G-d is totally and completely aware. And not only is He aware, but He is accepting of me, and continues to love me unconditionally in spite of the moment I may be in. Where on previous occasions, my initial response has been to leave G-d out of the picture and hide from Him (because of course He has no clue whats going on), this time I search for Him, include Him, and trust that in spite of how blurred things around me may appear or how confused a state I may be in, He’s got my back.

He knows the limit of my strength, the threshold of my mental capacity, and above all else, He understands me even in those moments when I don’t understand myself!

Im not sure how much longer I will continue to feel constricted in my breathing capacity, but until that feeling is alleviated and I don’t have the sense of being underwater anymore, I will continue to come up for small gasps of air by doing the small things that provide me relief;

  • eating vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles
  • taking a midday walk and listening to the birds sing
  • singing loudly at work in spite of my non singing voice
  • taking baths with my bath bombs from lush
  • escaping the crowd to chat with G-d and getting real with Him
  • buying whatever I want to buy and crying whenever I want to cry

And during those moments, I will breathe deeply, slowly and I will wait on Him.

The Window to the Soul

Everything about the human body is exceptional! The way any given system functions and reflects upon another is a reminder that every part of our body is interrelated. From muscles to bones to every organ and nerve, it is all connected.

I first learned about this connection about 14 years ago, one day as I accompanied my mother to a naturopathic doctor who diagnosed her patients by examining their eyes. Although I was not there for a visit myself, once the Dr. finished examining my mom she offered to take a look at my eyes and since I was already there I figured there was nothing to lose.
Like a drug addict” is what I recall her saying. “Your eyes resemble those of a drug addict, restless, tired, irritated, stressed”. Wow, I thought to myself, I mean I was tired but never believed it would show in my eyes; at least not to this extent. As much as I didn’t want to take ownership of the “drug addict” comparison, she was right. It had been about 3 months of no sleep or interrupted sleep patterns (depending on how bad the night was) that were reflecting in my eyes. Of course the Dr. didn’t know I had just given birth 3 months prior. But after the drug addict comment I thought it was only appropriate to clear up my name and let her in on the reason behind my lack of sleep; a pretty little thing named Sky.
They call them the window to the soul. I assume it is because if you look close enough you can see the most intimate part of someone; even those things they’d rather not share. Although lack of sleep is certainly one, I speak of even more intimate details such as character, moral condition, and disposition. Though many try to cover the true nature of who they are and what they believe, these things can never truly be hidden.
Of course the Dr. couldn’t tell of my exhaustion at plain view. It was only when she used her eye examination equipment that the stress that was inside was revealed. Aside from this device it all appeared normal.
Have you ever had this same experience? Perhaps not at a Dr’s office but in everyday situations such as with someone at work, a friend, or even a neighbor? Recently, I met someone who reminded me that the truth is right below the surface and that if you look long and or deep enough it will be revealed to you. From the moment I met her I could sense that something wasn’t right…or at least not the way she was presenting it to be. After sitting with her less than 3o minutes I began to understand why I felt the way I did. She slowly began to expose herself. What was within her began to pour out from her mouth. I didn’t have to probe, all I did was listen.

Because sometimes listening is all it takes. The truth is never far behind.

Not too long ago I ran into a quote I immediately loved that states “Her Intuition was her Favorite Superpower”. For many, Intuition is that feeling of just knowing, for me its a piece of examination equipment just like the Dr. I mentioned earlier used. Its that Still Small Voice, the One that never fails and warns us of trouble up ahead. Its the Holy Spirit, guiding us and exposing truth long before our natural senses can ever realize something is wrong. If only we just acknowledged this Voice every time it spoke to us!

A Father’s Love

How deep?  How wide?  How great is a fathers love?

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As a society we always seem to refer to a mothers love when trying to describe the greatest love we know to exist.  Being a mother myself and having experienced my own mothers love, I can not only attest from a receivers standpoint, but from a givers as well, that a mothers love is certainly incomparable to any other.  However, a fathers love, which many times seems to go under the radar, is not only just as big but carries within its essence a certain factor that can never be duplicated and is the healing touch of humanity.    

Perhaps you’re familiar with what I speak of.  That certain word spoken through a father into the life of an individual capable of healing even the deepest wound, capable of freeing the most bound spirit,  capable of turning the worst situation around.  A word released with such authority and fueled with the very breath of G-d; this is the Love of which I speak channeled only through the love of a father.

I was reminded this week of this precise love as I sat and recalled possibly the scariest conversation I’ve had in my life.  I was 25, not married, lived at home, hadn’t finished school, and just found out I was pregnant.  As much as I wanted to hide this from everyone, the morning sickness was so bad that it was only a matter of time before everyone figured it out and so I was convinced by my sister, Barbie, and my cousin, Janet, that I had to tell my parents.  Talk about petrified!  How would they react?  What would they say?  What a disappointment I would be to everyone.  

Only G-d knew what I was feeling at the moment and only He knew what would be necessary in order for me to move forward bravely in what seemed to be the scariest moment of my life.

Filled with shame and embarrassment, I confronted my mother and father and told them my situation.  Though I thought my mother would scream and yell, she didn’t, instead she retrieved into her own space to try and deal with the news.  Though it was a relief in a way, the silence was louder than any words she could have ever spoken.  

My father on the other hand cried.  I can still close my eyes and see how he wiped his tears with his pudgy little hands.  I remember feeling his pain and then he did what I never imagined he would.  He placed his hands on my stomach and said “I hope they’re twins”.  And with those words I was suddenly accepted!

As many times as I think upon this moment in my life I always come to the same awakening; how great was the love of my father! To not only accept me with what was the result of my sin at the time but to express his love in such a way where if that result was doubled he would still stand by me and love me unconditionally!

The Healing Touch of Humanity.  – Capable of making all things new.  

This is the perfect picture of the love of our fatherAccepting of us with all of our issues, downfalls, and weaknesses and expressing His love in such a way where even while we fail Him on a daily basis, He stands by us and loves us unconditionally!   Matchless in every way I tell you…Matchless!

The Great I Am

Straight Outta Miami! That’s right. That’s where I come from. Now some may see this as a bad thing but truth be told, Miami has many great qualities that go unseen by those that have never experienced its uniqueness. It is only when you live in this city and encounter some of its cultural richness that you can understand of what I speak. Although seen as ahard, everyone’s looking out for their own” kind of place, there is something very special about how Miamians flock together when loss or tragedy comes upon one of its own. Perhaps it’s the fact that we are all familiar with “the struggle” and each of us, in our own individual way, have a story to tell about how mami and papi or abuelo and abuela got to Miami. I imagine this is the reason we are so empathetic towards each other.

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Though I live in Tampa now, most of my contacts are from back home and just today I was reminded of this empathy of which I speak. Jose Fernandez. Miami Marlins’, 24 year old pitcher and ambassador of the sport who was tragically killed this morning in a boating accident. His death has left the city in a saddened state. A Cuban defector who fled to America with a vision of something better as many of us have. We all mourn his loss today. Perhaps because he was what many define as the American dream, or perhaps it was his young age that touches us, or even maybe the fact that he just last week announced that he was going to be a father. I suppose it is a combination of all of these reasons that allows us to relate each in a different way to this story and causes us to join together in the pain his loved ones are experiencing.

As I read the story today I immediately remembered those words spoken by my father every time someone passed:

Para morirse lo unico que hace falta es estar vivo!

For my non-Spanish speaking friends this translates to:

The only requirement for one to die is to be alive!

The wisest words I have ever heard…and I don’t say that lightly. Though I have to admit I’d get a good chuckle every time I heard him say this, today I realize he was speaking truth. Death doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t take into account your race, age, religion, sex, status, finances, or anything else. At the end of the day all that matters is our spiritual state and the condition of our hearts.

Will I stand in the presence of The Great I Am?

Just last week I was breaking bread with a friend and having one of those deep conversations about G-d, life etc. (my favorite type of dialogue). Though our faith isn’t exactly the same, he expressed an interest in knowing G-d on a deeper, more intimate level but also shared that he hadn’t reached the point where he had made a conscious effort to do that. I can’t help but wonder today how many of you reading this are in the same boat? Choosing to do tomorrow what you can do today. Waiting to develop that relationship tomorrow because we either don’t have the time, the desire, or simply the need to do so right now.

Tomorrow may never come.

We all meet the requirement to die today, but the real question is do you meet the requirement to live an eternal life tomorrow? …that requirement can only be met through a relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray you do.  #RIP Jose Fernandez

Below is the best attempt to describe Jesus I have ever heard.  Pease take 3 minutes to listen to it.

 

 

 

 

 

Champions Fall Too

Getting the wind knocked out of you is a paralyzing feeling. One that empties your lungs of all air and leaves you struggling trying to catch just one breath to alleviate the pain from the blow. Professional boxers know this feeling all too well. Just one hit to the abdomen or one bad fall on their back could leave them gasping for air and sometimes even cause them to lose the fight.

A regular boxing ring surrounded by ropes spotlit in the missle on an isolated dark background

Of course all fighters are aware that this is a probability once they step into the ring. So for this reason they devise a strategy that if closely followed will keep them safe from this type of hit.

Though painful, getting the wind knocked out of them doesn’t always imply a loss. If a fighter is well prepared, he can recover and come back even stronger than before. But this is solely dependent upon technique.  

While strategy is the overall plan, technique is for the moment. It is applying the skills that have been learnt into the present situation.

As difficult as it may seem, if in the midst of the hurt, a fighter reverts to what was taught to him during his training camp, he will have a better chance of coming around and returning to the fight.

In case you didn’t know, I am a boxing fan. In fact, I am a fan of combat sports in general. There’s nothing more exciting to me than watching two fighters go at it in a ring or cage and give it all they’ve got. It’s not the blood and gore that I’m attracted to <although it doesn’t seem to bother me> but rather the spirit of the fighters that is so very unique to each and every fight.

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch a movie about a fighter they called Hands of Stone. Perhaps you’ve heard of him, as Roberto Duran was a champion in four weight divisions during his prime. Though known for being relentless throughout his boxing career, that label was questioned after his famous bout with Sugar Ray Leonard where Duran himself put a stop to the fight during the eighth round by uttering the words many say were “No Mas” or “No More”.

The story goes that feeling unprepared for the fight, Duran gave up and decided it was best to walk out and seek a rematch later. This of course earned him a not so desirable reputation even amongst his fans and would take him years to reverse.

As time has a way of teaching us lessons, the notorious fighter later learned that what mattered was not that he was champion but rather that he fight and so he returned to fighting.

His fierce spirit was undeniable and after redeeming himself through several matches later, it became clear that Duran stopped the fight that day not because of fear but because of pride. He preferred to walk out of the ring and put his reputation on the line rather than to take a blow that knocked the wind out of him.

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? I have. Many times. In fact on more occasions then I care to admit. I have also felt like Duran in many instances and have wanted to walk out because I have been unprepared to handle what lies ahead. Giving up has seemed like the better option and pride has convinced me that the only way to protect myself was to walk away. Yet again, like only time can do, it has shown me that what matters most is not that I’m the champion each and every single time but that I remain in the fight and build endurance so that one day I can be.

Believing that you will stay in the fight this week in spite of the hits that may come your way because real champions can recover from a fall!

 

Faith Like Baking Powder

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Sequential. That’s the way recipes work. Sometimes doing things in a particular order is crucial to a recipe coming out the way it looks in the picture. Specifically with baking. Now I’m not much of a cook,
but I do find myself heating up the kitchen now and then making cookies, brownies, cakes, and other
sweets to please my two ladybugs, Sky and Rain. Step by step and ingredient after ingredient, about 30 minutes later you have yourself a yummy treat…it’s that simple right? Well for the most part it is, assuming that you include every ingredient and that your measurements are correct.

To read the rest of my blog and find out how faith is like baking powder, please join me as I guest post on: http://www.sheisblankspace.com/blog/having-faith-like-baking-powder

Praying you have Faith Like Baking Powder this week…..

Hope and a Wire

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The man whose picture you see above is Philippe Petit.  Known all over the world as the one who conquered the 1,850 ft. high, tightrope walk across the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in 1974.  Undoubtedly Petit’s most famous walk, yet definitely not his only one.   Crowds gathered at about 7 or so in the morning to witness the amazing feat being gracefully carried out by Petit as he walked back and forth between the two towers showcasing his skill and expertise on nothing but Hope and a Wire!

Certainly there were distractions; the murmuring of the cops telling him he was crazy and needed to get off the wire, the gusts of wind threatening to throw Petit into the bottomless abyss, and the roar of the turbo jet engines from the airplane that abruptly entered the scene.  All were valid threats but none were powerful enough to stand between a man and his dream!

Petit had been preparing for this walk for 6 years.  By the time he carried it out he was completely equipped to do so both physically and mentally.  He had everything he would need to be successful that morning; resolve, patience, passion, destination and his wire. The only thing that could hold Petit back at that point was himself.   

For 45 minutes he danced upon the wire, becoming one with it, using its tension to his advantage, and displaying his mastery over it in an ever so respectful way.  When he finally stepped off, he did so careful not get ahead of himself and with great reverence finished what he started!   

Oh, if only we would learn to walk our wire with the same esteem Petit had for his!  Not allowing the noise of our naysayers, the noise of this world, and the noise of interruptions to gain any advantage over our walk.  That our determination would be such, that the voice of the adversary would be forever silenced by the hope of a vivid dream.

Our reminder, a constant one of how a dream giving G-d has equipped us with resolve, patience, passion and destination to carry out every idea that takes up any place in our heart. That we would learn to use the strain and pressure of our situation as a refinement tool preparing us to more effectively reach our destination, all the while never losing respect for the process.  And most importantly, getting to know our wire.   …Most wire walkers die at the very end, just as they are about to arrive.  They think they have arrived but are still on the wire and step off prematurely. 

We’re not there till we’re there!    

 

Praying you’re carrying out your dreams today on Hope and a Wire!