pink blue sky with tree branches and snowy roof

Freedom in Learning the Balance of Control

 

 

pink blue sky with tree branches and snowy roof

Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday. Join me there to read other writers’ brief, unedited thoughts on the prompt, “control”.

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Control.

So difficult a word for some of us. Or is it really quite simple?

I like to feel in control. My personality is most comfortable when I am the one in control.

I don’t always live with intention to control the things I can, such as my time, energy, attention, words, thoughts, and actions. This is an area that I am determined to change.

But there are so many things I cannot control.

It was so much easier when my sons were little. A parent can do well to provide a good deal of control when their kids are too little to understand what they need to do.

But teens and young adult offspring are not only harder to control; they also need to learn to live their own lives with intention.

It’s tempting to try to control those around us, even other adults (ask my poor husband), whom we have no ability nor business to do so.

I’d like to control my circumstances, but aside from using what God’s provided in this season of my life intentionally, I cannot control most of what the ebbs and flows of life bring.

But perhaps it’s really not as complicated as I make it out to be.

I can only change the things I can change. I’m learning to live more intentionally, but have a long way to go.

The rest I must leave to God, trust others to do their part, and chose my response or reaction with love and grace.

I guess this prayer really holds more wisdom and truth than I realized:

Serenity Prayer image

 

By learning to live this way, I may just find freedom.

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gold refining process

Refine

*****Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday. Our prompt for today is the word, “refine”.*****

 

gold refining process

Pouring Liquid Gold

Today I’m thinking about the word, “refine”, and the first thing that comes to mind is the process using fire that refines gold.

According to Oxford Living Dictionaries, the definition of refine is,

“Remove impurities or unwanted elements from (a substance), typically as part of an industrial process”,

or

“Make minor changes so as to improve or clarify (a theory or method)”.

This is enlightening to me. What will I allow to refine my life?

I have many “unwanted elements” (weaknesses and shortcomings) and “impurities” (sins) that I would wish to have removed from me. I also wish to continue to make small changes to improve my life.

I can study and learn to work at it myself, and that may help some. I can spend time with people I admire and look up to and glean both from what I see in them and from what they may share with me, and that may help me to grow.

But most of all, I want to allow God to refine me.

The best ways I know of to do just that are spending time communicating with him in prayer (both speaking and patiently listening), and reading the Bible. Many say it is like a love letter from God to us, and I also like to think of it as an instruction manual for life, written by the One who created me.

There are also negative forces all around me that would seek to divert my attention and distract me, drawing me away from God and doing what’s best for me and those around me.

I need to be intentional with my time, my thoughts, my words, my actions, and even in helping to direct my wavering emotions. I desire strength to withstand the onslaught of negativity and evil that exists in the world around us.

Lord, help me to allow you and the good influences you’ve provided all around me to refine me, making me more and more into the person I was truly created to be. Then I will find fulfillment and be a blessing to those around me, and shine like gold that comes out of the fire refined.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” – Romans 5:3-5, NLT

 

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Tree branch silhouette with half moon

Managing in the Middle

Tree branch silhouette with half moon

Are you feeling stuck in the middle of anything right now?

Starting something new can be exhilarating and motivating, finishing can be a celebration and a relief, but what about life in the middle?

When you think about it, most of life is spent somewhere in the “middle”.

Just think about middle children for a minute. Not always, but often they can feel lost or have trouble finding their place in a family. They don’t necessarily have the expectations of being the responsible oldest child, nor the easy-going or fun personality of the youngest, yet they are created especially wonderful just where they are. Perhaps being in the middle frees us from expectations; what if we could just rest and be ourselves?

Being in the middle can be challenging. It can be mundane or boring, or on the other end of the spectrum, it can be difficult and stressful.

But what if we could relax and let God lead and provide for us right here in the middle?

I’d like to share a song with you that has really spoken to me, especially in some of those “middle” times.

 

 

It can be messy in the middle. Sometimes it feels so difficult and we feel we don’t have the strength to go on. Other times we feel we’ve lost our vision or our purpose and don’t feel motivated. We may even feel depressed.

I’m trying to learn that being in the middle is just where God wants us to be right now. I’m learning to trust him and his plan, to lean on him for strength, and to run to him for comfort.

I want my life to be a blessing, not only in the exciting new times or in the fulfilling finishing times, but right here in the middle.

Won’t you join me?

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This post was written for Five Minute Friday, where you can join us at the link-up to read other quick, mostly unedited writings of other bloggers.

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If you enjoyed this song, you can purchase it here:

 

 

Japanese kintsugi art

Make Something Beautiful Of Your Brokenness in 2017

 

 

Japanese kintsugi art

Happy New Year, friends!

I don’t know about you, but I feel somewhat behind the eight ball in this new year.

While I keep reading online blog and social media posts about folks who have all their goals mapped out for 2017, I am still trying to adjust to “non-holiday” status and schedule, clean up the pine needles under the tree, and begin to remove our Christmas decorations.

I am only beginning to think, pray and plan for this new year.

Not that I’m behind with my Christmas stuff still out, because I have always really loved Christmas , and in my family we would never even dream of removing our tree or decorations before several days past the new year!

And since my mom’s mother was born in the Ukraine, we have always had Ukrainian Christmas as an excuse to enjoy our things right into the beginning of January. Even though we technically don’t hold to the traditions of this celebration, it was always something we were aware of, and just feels right to keep the holidays going a little bit longer.

This year, I think my celebration on January 7th (the date for Ukrainian Christmas) will be while taking down the tree and lovingly sorting and storing our decorations.

So I think that today’s post is somewhat appropriate.

Although it seems that I do not have my act together (at least according to the timeline and suggestions of others), I can not only enjoy celebrating an imperfect Christmas, but I can celebrate the fact that I am an imperfect human being.

pine needles under Christmas tree

Recently I learned that there is an ancient Japanese art form which repairs broken pottery in a unique way.

Kintsugi (“golden joinery”) or kintsukuroi (“golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece. This repair method celebrates the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing the fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing the artifact with new life.”

You can read a little more about that in this article, and there is even a link provided to order a kit to try it yourself, if you’re so inclined.

The idea is that instead of attempting to hide the imperfections of a broken bowl, vase, or dish, the cracks and crevices are actually emphasized, but also beautified, by being repaired with an adhesive containing particles of gold (or another precious metal).

The result is a beautifully unique vessel. This process is contrary to our way of thinking, but I think we can learn a lot from this Japanese art form and the healthy thought and attitude around it.

Our imperfections are not to be hidden, avoided or loathed, but rather embraced, learned from and celebrated (when we allow ourselves to grow and use our weakness to empathize with others).

kintsukuroi repaired flower plate

This pretty plate has been repaired at the top with gold, making it a completely unique vessel.

Am I suggesting that we forget about goal-setting, don’t attempt to do anything differently or better for the future, or just be satisfied meeting the status quo? Of course not!

But if we accept our lives with our unique limitations, extend a little more grace to ourselves and those around us, learn from and grow in the areas we are weak, share our feelings and understanding with others, and realize that we cannot do it alone, we will be stronger and more happy for it.

We can humbly accept help and support from those around us and ask for guidance, wisdom and strength from the God who created us.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” – James 1:2-5 NLT

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“…My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 NLT

 

So as we move forward into 2017 with hope and expectation, let’s let go of the fear, embrace where we are in life, and hold on to those we hold most dear.

Let’s make the most of our brokenness, offering our lives as a vessel made more beautiful to bless others.

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