Archive | February 2013

Clay jars and cracked pots

I was thinking about our bodies, how temporal they really are. Obviously I’ve thought about this more since a cancer diagnosis one year ago.  They are given to us for our time here on earth to dwell in.  It’s amazing how they function and how all the different systems and organs work together so we can do what we need to while we’re  here on earth.  This week I feel like I had my 50,000 mile check-up and I’m good to go.  I had the week off from work and had more doctor appointments and tests than I would have liked but hopefully won’t need much more for another 10,000 miles or so.  I wish somebody would create some kind of “frequent flyer miles” for the amount of time I have spent waiting in offices!  Anyway, ironically we are only taking care of jars of clay!

Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God took a handful of soil and made a man. God breathed life into the man, and the man started breathing.” (CEV)  Man was made from the dust of the earth.  Our bodies are nothing more than earthen vessels with a spirit inside.  It’s no wonder that after a period of time, exposed to the elements of life that they begin to decay and break down as we gradually age.

I love how the Bible shows God as the potter and mankind as the clay.  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) He takes the dirt or clay in this case, and fashions each of us into a unique vessel.  Understand that this is a long process.  The potter needs to dig the clay out of the swamp.  “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2 (NIV)  The clay is not perfect to begin with and must be prepared for the potter’s wheel.  It has to be moldable and be able to hold up under stress.  The potter creates pressure with his hands to work the clay and orient it in the same direction as the wheel or it flies off.

The potter has a plan for the clay.   One of my favorite verses is, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  You were born on purpose and for a purpose. (Psalm 139)  Little air pockets or any earthen impurities in the clay can be fatal and will wreck the whole pot.  They need to be removed and worked out.

The clay can only be worked in the center of the wheel.  If it’s anywhere else it will go around in circles until the centrifugal force throws it off the wheel.   There are spiritual forces trying to pull you away from your relationship with Christ.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)  If we are centered in the Lord’s will we will be in a place of rest.

As the potter works the clay he applies pressure both inside and outside the clay.  He draws upward lifting the clay to the height he wants.   “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10 (KJV)  It takes time.  The work on the inside is reflected on the outside of the vessel.  The clay always has a lot of potential but it has to be willing.  Once molded, the weak and porous clay vessel needs to go into the fire at 1,800 degrees F.  It gets lighter, harder and purified. “When you pass through the waters  I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,  they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;  the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

If there are any marks on the clay, once it goes into the fire the marks cannot be removed.  Scars tell stories.  The past cannot be undone. Give the things that have scarred you to the Lord.  “To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them ‘Oaks of Righteousness’ planted by God to display his glory.” Isaiah 61:3 (Message)  A coat of glaze goes on the fired piece and it goes back in the kiln at 2,350 degrees F.

Clay that sits out exposed, unused, not in the potter’s hands, dries out.  Clay needs moisture in order to be moldable like How to Make Pottery Clay From Earth Clay thumbnailthe washing by the Word of God.  The potter paid a price for the clay but he still can’t do anything with the clay if it’s drying out and brittle. He can’t force more water into it.  The clay at this point must completely dry out and then the potter will break it into pieces, pulverizing it before adding water to it.  Ouch!

Giving the vessel a specific form and function or calling makes the vessel useful.  We are each equipped to do something here on earth.  You may feel like you are broken and worn out, useless, unable to function in any capacity.  We are cracked pots but we can still function.  I will close with a favorite story about the cracked water pot.

“A water bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his house.  Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes to leak out all the way back to your house. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”  Author Unknown

We are all cracked pots and all have flaws in our earthen jars.  Allow the potter to use you for whatever He has designed you for.  It’s not about the vessel but the treasure within. “Treasure is kept in clay jars. In the same way, we have the treasure of the good news in these earthly bodies of ours. That shows that the mighty power of the good news comes from God. It doesn’t come from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7  (NIRV)

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What is a valentine, really?

There are many ways to demonstrate your love on Valentine’s Day.  Lots of flowers, especially roses, will be sold today.  Others will go for the chocolates.  Some will opt for jewelry.  Most will be given with a special card or valentine.  Many will perhaps have a candlelight dinner in a dimly lit restaurant or dining room.

I got to thinking about love.  It’s more about what is shown and done, rather than something purchased in a store.  I have been shown so much love over this past year.  I am so thankful when I think about my family and friends that lifted me up in prayer, who called, inquired, delivered a meal, sent a card or gift, offered a ride, etc. in order to help me get through this whole ordeal dealing with breast cancer and treatment.  I feel like I have received a year’s worth of valentines!  WOW!

Unfortunately there are many who do not feel loved.  They are longing for even one valentine.  For those who do not have a “special someone” to celebrate today (or any day) with, Valentine’s Day can be downright depressing and can’t be over quick enough.  I would like to take this opportunity to speak specifically to those of you that fall in this category and tell you that you are being deceived.  There IS someone who loves YOU more than you can imagine. In fact, He loves you unconditionally.   He will never leave you, never cheat on you, or turn His back on you (Deuteronomy 31:8)!  You are always on His mind.  He will never stand you up.  In fact, He is available 24/7 to listen to everything you have to tell Him (Ephesians 2:18).  He cares about you and wants to know all that is on your mind and in your heart (Psalm 139:1-3).  He will wipe away every tear (Revelation 7:17).  In fact He knows every tear you have cried (Psalm 56:8).  He will bind up your broken heart (Isaiah 61:1) and fight all your battles for you. He will never place more on you than you can handle and offers you rest (Matthew 11:28).  He accepts you and loves you just the way you are.  He is rich and owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).  He will provide for all of your needs (Philippians 4:19).  He has a retirement home picked out for you that is out of this world so you can retire in style with Him (John 14:2).

Forget about sending roses…He created them! Although He did send me a special rose.  He cares to send the very best and we’re not talking Hallmark here.  He sent His one and only Son on your behalf because He loves you so much and wants to spend all of eternity with you.  Don’t be alone today or any day. Open yourself up and accept His love for you!

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A rose is a rose is a rose, or is it?

“A rose is a rose is a rose.”  This is from a poem Gertrude Stein wrote in 1913.  Supposedly it means that things are what they are when all is said is done.  To me it always sounded like it meant that all roses are just that…simply put, just a rose.  I want to tell you about one rose that is  more than just a rose, to me anyway.

I went for a mammogram in January which was one year since my previous one when my breast cancer was first detected.  Upon completion I was handed a rose.  After all, it is the least they can do for you after what they put you through!  I had my mammogram early in the morning before work.  The rose sat in my car all day.  It had a little tube of water attached to the bottom of the stem.  The rose did not look especially beautiful.  It was still a bud but looked like possibly it was leftover from the day before’s supply.  I was one of the first patients of the day and perhaps the new batch had not yet arrived for the day.

Me and my "survivor rose" at 3 weeks!

Me and my “survivor rose” at 3 weeks!

At the end of the day I arrived home and popped the rose in a vase with some water.  Over the next week I enjoyed seeing it bloom and enjoyed it’s beauty.  At the end of one week I suggested to my photographic son that he use it to shoot and practice with before the petals started falling off.  One of those pictures is on a recent post.  After two weeks the rose was still in bloom and hadn’t lost any petals.  After three weeks one leaf on the stem dried up and fell off but it still hasn’t lost any petals and still looks beautiful!

With Valentine’s day coming I happened to watch a video recently on how to keep your roses looking fresh and nice.    They suggested making a fresh cut at the bottom of each stem.  I hadn’t.  They said to use a very clean vase free of any bacteria.  I used a dusty old one I didn’t even rinse out. They said to add the packet of food to the water in the vase.  It came with no packet.  They said to change the water every 2-3 days.  I haven’t changed the water once, in fact I haven’t even added any more water to it.  They said to keep it in a spot that is not in direct sunlight.  It has been sitting in direct sunlight on my table since the first day.  It is such a sunny spot that my elderly cat likes to lie there in the sun to keep warm.

I have no green thumb.  I don’t even have any live plants in my house.  Anytime I received roses in the past they would bloom quickly and then the petals would fall off.  Sometimes they don’t even open up all the way.  Often they droop at the top of the stem and hang their heads.

This rose is still standing straight and tall and beautiful.  It’s almost like it has refused to give in or die.  I LOVE the fact that this is the rose I was given for a mammogram that yielded results marked NORMAL!  It is a survivor and so am I!    I have seen God’s hand through this whole cancer journey and felt that it was very fitting that He gave me such a beautiful sign of survivorship.  I think He is also reminding me to keep on blooming despite my circumstances.  One day this rose will die and so will I but for now I rejoice in life and I think this rose has been rejoicing as well.  One thing that will never die is the Word of God.  Isaiah 40:8 says,”The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (NASB)

Specialists

Don’t grow older or get sick.  When my kids were younger my husband would always tell them that they weren’t allowed to get any older on their birthdays.  We didn’t find a way to keep them young and I haven’t found a way to stop myself from getting older either.  Guess I would be rich if I had found that fountain of youth.

The older we get, the more aches and pains and ailments arise.  I first noticed it years ago when I started needing to use reading glasses in order to thread a needle or to read something.  I don’t remember after that what order things started happening in (guess that’s another sign of aging) but at some point getting up off the floor was harder than I remembered.  Going down the stairs first thing in the morning before the joints are oiled is an awkward task.  I look forward to going to bed earlier and earlier and the list goes on.  Now I’m at the point where each new ache or pain makes me wonder if it’s just due to gradual aging or if there’s something wrong.

I use to have just the basic doctors…my primary and my gynecologist.  At some point an endocrinologist and a cardiologist got thrown in the mix.  Over the past year I added a surgeon, an oncologist, and a radiologist.  I have one week off from work later this month.  Guess what I have lined up while I am off?  A trip to Bermuda?  I wish.  Instead I get to take a “trip” that involves fun activities such as a breast MRI, a root canal, a Pap smear, an echo-cardiogram, a Herceptin infusion, and a thyroid ultrasound and I’m a relatively healthy person.  I can’t imagine what my week would look like if I was older or sick.

It seems medical life use to be easier when I was younger.  I only had two doctors and would go to one or the other depending upon what was happening.  Now I have many specialists.  Although there appears to be some overlap they each need to see me for different reasons.  When I saw my oncologist this week I asked her how I’m supposed to coordinate seeing all of them and who was I supposed to put down to have what reports sent to?  It can get pretty confusing.

I am happy to report that there is ONE specialist who specializes in everything and meets all  our needs. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NIV)  He is the Great Physician and a healer and a worker of miracles.  “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Matthew 9:35 (NIV)   “Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sickand the Lord will make you well.” James :14-15 (NLT)   He is concerned about every aspect of your life and knows everything about you without even ordering any tests.  “You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.” Psalm 139:15 (Message)  You don’t need a referral in order to see him.  There is no co-pay.  There is no wait.  His office hours are 24 hours a day, seven days a week.   “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” Ephesians 2:18 (NLT)  He accepts all insurance plans and those without insurance because he shows no partiality.  “God, your God, is the God of all gods, he’s the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. He doesn’t play favorites, takes no bribes, makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing.” Deuteonomy 10:17-18 (Message)  Now that’s quite a special specialist!