Jan 28, 2010

What I Learned from a Blacksmith

A blacksmith, a true blacksmith, is a Master Craftsman.

If we look at the traditional blacksmith, not as the interesting man with a fire at the state fair, nor as the sweaty, charcoaled man of old with a leather face and massive hands, but as a master creator...or rather, as The Master Creator, we see a great deal more than just ashy cinders and bellowing bellows.

The Master Blacksmith must consider carefully what His new creation must be. He fashions each piece as He sees it already complete in His wonderful mind. He works the metal, little by little, forging it into the image it must become.

The metal He uses is always impure, but exceedingly valuable to the Master. He is careful never to waste a single piece of it. At the beginning, it is a rough, indistinct fragment. But He knows what He can do with it, deficient and useless as it appears to be.

What makes this hard, cold, bitter metal malleable at all?

It's the fire.

The more dramatic the shaping, the hotter the fire must be, and the longer the instrument must remain in it. But the Master Craftsman knows how long is too long. He knows if He leaves his masterpiece in the fire for too long, that His precious creation will smelt. So He carefully watches it in the fire, and pulls it from the fiery furnace at just the right moment.

While the metal is hot and pliable, He takes the element to the anvil. The anvil is mandatory to the Blacksmith's task. The work can't be done without it. It is the immovable rock, the unshakable Truth on which the metal is to be shaped upon.

Then comes the steady turning and pounding of the hammer upon the metal. The consistent circumstances of life, each making its mark on the soon to be tool at hand. Sometimes He pounds in the same spot, careful to get the exact curve needed before moving on to the next flaw.

He works steadily on it.

And the metal obeys.

The Blacksmith is a tool-maker. He makes tools to be used by His own hands, and to be useful for the benefit of others. The end result of the Master's long day's work is to craft a tool that is usable, available, and ready for His purpose.

My husband visited a blacksmith's shop recently, and the shop owner showed him a whole wall of tongs. The tongs come in all shapes and sizes, and are used to hold the hot metal while the blacksmith works it. He said to my husband, "You can't make tongs without...using tongs."

God could make His will come about without using us as instruments in His hands, but He chooses, like the blacksmith, to use other tools (tongs) He's made to make more tongs, which will eventually be used in His hands to make more tongs...and on it goes.

What a beautiful picture.

And now, a poem.

The Village Blacksmith
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

UNDER a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And watch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter's voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!

If you're in the fire, take heart. The Master has a plan, and it is for your good. It will make you more useful in His wise hands.

Jan 27, 2010

Random Dozen - I Can't WAIT!

1. How good are you at delaying gratification?

I would say I'm pretty good at it. I'm of the mindset that I would rather wait and relish instead of rush and regret. That sounds all well and good, but sometimes it bites me in the rear.

Like the time I was in an antique store and saw a white, enamel-covered metal baby cup EXACTLY like the one I had when I was a tot. It had a navy blue handle and two flowers on it, red and yellow.

And an $8 price tag. And I WAITED.

It looked just like this, but with either two or three flowers on two sides of it.

Almost 12 years later, I'm still looking for that stupid cup.

2. Maybe a marshmallow wouldn't be too difficult a temptation for you. What food (or anything else) would be most tempting?

Marshmallow...not so much. But one of these Apple Dumplins? Well, that's a different story. I really shouldn't have them in my house. Deeee-lish.

3. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being saintly) how patient are you?

 I would say I'm about a 7. It didn't used to be that high, but I would say I've mellowed out some.

4. Have you ever waited for something in life only to be disappointed upon realization of the goal/object/etc.?

It felt like FOR.EV.ER to turn 21. After my 21st birthday, it was really no big deal, except I felt more responsibility. That was kind of a bummer. Now though, I wouldn't want to be 21 again for all the world. I love being my age right now.

5. Are you a person who takes shortcuts?

 I'll take shortcuts if I'm driving to a place and I KNOW that the shortcut actually works. But to shortcut around a job usually seems to end up in re-work. And I can't stand to have to do something a second time unnecessarily.

6. Which line is hardest to wait in?

The bathroom line.

7. Did you wait to discover the gender of your unborn child until its birth?

 We did wait on the first two; after they were both boys, we NEEDED to know ahead of time if the 14 boxes of blue were going to be trash or treasure for the third one. So we cheated with him.

8. Are you more patient with children or the elderly?

I think I'm more patient with the elderly...I was always taught to respect my elders, and who am I kidding? I know I'm gonna be one some day! 

9. Did you ever sneak a peek at a present?

 You know what...I did that ONE time. I found all of my presents before my parents wrapped them in their closet one year. And it was the worst Christmas morning EVER. There was nothing that was a surprise to me. So I pledged I would never, ever do that again. (I've told my kids that story, too.)

10. What is the longest you've ever waited for anything?

I'm gonna say that cruise I mentioned last week...waited 12 years for that baby.

11. Who has more patience, you or your significant other?

Um, that would be me. Unequivocally and hands down.

12. Which of the following songs about waiting is your pick for the best? (OK, you may substitute another, if you like.)

A) Anticipation by Carly Simon
B) The Waiting by Tom Petty
C) Right Here Waiting for You by Richard Marx
D) Wait for Me by Rebecca St. James

I'm gonna piiiiiiiiiiick......Richard Marx...Right Here Waiting for You, and here's why:

DH and had a long-distance relationship the entire time we dated. We lived about 250 miles apart, and our first date we met half-way in a little town called Victoria, Texas. We met through his cousin, who was one of my best friends at the time. I would travel to his parents' house to visit him on the weekends, or he would come up to where I was and stay with his cousin. It was interesting, to say the least....and it worked!  

Well, was it worth the wait? Go getcha a Second Cup with Lid and the gang!

Jan 23, 2010

Create Post...Blah blah blah...

I need a breakthrough.



I want so much to compose something that takes me whirling through that creative process of discovering what something special will be, because it's always a special creation, unique, and one-of-a-kind. Although it's not to be considered unparalleled by any means. Many a blogger has written far better...but it's different. It's a part of me.

I had a creative burst during the holidays. Yes, it showed up on my blog in places, but it also was in my decorating, my Christmas cookies, my gifts that I made to give away. It was so freeing, so liberating to let that creative flow move where it went, and take me along for the ride.

I wonder if that's how God felt when He created. Everything.

Did He ever get stumped, "What do I do now?"

"I know what I want to say, I just can't get it into words."

Or the one I keep coming up with: "It seems as if there's nothing left to create."

I know He didn't. He's the Author and the Perfector of, yes, our faith, but also Creativity itself. He's got more creativity that I can even comprehend. As a matter of fact, He's got more creativity than I can even learn about. In my whole lifetime, I could never have enough time to learn about all of His creation.

All there is to know about:
Astronomy, inner and outer space
Nuclear Physics
Cellular Biology
Marine Biology
Botony (plant life)
Human Anatomy
Entomology (insects)
(yes, these are all real sciences)
Mathematics (oh, mercy)

The list could literally go on and on...these are all sciences that most people choose ONE, and then spend their whole lives learning about. Learning about it. Not creating it from nothing.

Our God not only possesses the mental capacity to understand every one of these concepts thoroughly, and to comprehend how they would all be interconnected as they are, but He also has the creativity to make it all to be.

And I can't seem to get a blog post out.

I believe that God gave us all some level of creativity because we are made in His image. Now, before you start saying to yourself, "Oh, no. Nope. He gave me NO creativity." Sorry. He did. You just haven't discovered it yet...or learned how to fine tune it, maybe. But there's something.

At any rate, I haven't been able to come up with anything since the 12 Days of Christmas, but this was a start.

Jan 13, 2010

Random Dozen

1. When was the last time you craved a food--what was it, and did you cave?

Since I've started working out again, I tend to crave almonds. (huh?) I don't know why...but I loooooove them. And they're healthy, too, so yeah, I cave.

These are my favorite...with Sea Salt. They aren't as salty as regular ones. And I know it's more healthy to eat them raw with NO salt, but come on, we're talking about cravings here.

2. M & M's or Skittles?

Now I do like me some Skittles sometimes. It's fun to mix the flavors up and see what concoctions can be had. But I most definitely prefer chocolate over non-chocolate, so that would be the M & M's.

Especially these...

3. Have you ever read the Bible completely through?

Not all the way straight through, I'm sad to say. I have read the whole thing, just in different order at different times.

4. How long does it take you to really wake up in the morning?

I'm going to say about 30 minutes. I have been getting up at 4 am (or close to it) to go to the gym before DH needs to leave for work. That necessitates WAKING UP.

5. Have you ever been on a cruise? If not, would you like to?

Yes! When I was four, my grandpa told me that he would take me on the "Love Boat" for my 16th birthday (loved that show). So every time I went to his house, I would tell him, "Grandpa, are you saving your money to take me on the Love Boat?"

So the summer before my 16th birthday, my grandpa kept his promise. Every year he and my grandma would go on vacation somewhere; they would take turns choosing their destination, and that year was my grandpa's choice. Little did we know it would be his last year to choose. 

He really wanted to go to Alaska, but I had a tropical cruise pictured in my head since I was a girl, so he took me and grandma to the Bahamas. It was fantastic...and a blast to spend with them. I'll never forget it.

6. Who is your favorite actress?

Hmmmm...I have several that come to mind. Which is strange, because I don't watch very much TV or movies. For the most part, I enjoy Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

7. ______ is something that I will just never understand.

Child abuse.

8. How much of a technology junkie are you?

I used to be on the cutting edge of technology when I worked...like a decade ago. But since then, not so much. The most technology I experience now is my iphone. And that took some getting used to.

9. Do you enjoy selecting greeting cards for people, or is it more of a cultural "have to" for you?

I love selecting cards for people, when I remember to do it. My problem is whether to choose a humorous or a meaningful, sentimental one. I have been known to give two for the same occasion.

10. When was the last time you got a new style/haircut?

New haircut? November 2009. New style? September 1983.

Well, there is one exception to that. In 2006 my mom gave me a straightener. Same haircut, just straight instead of curly. I think it's fair to say that I'm a chicken when it comes to hair.

11. What do you enjoy shopping for most?

Good deals! I absolutely LOVE getting a bargain. After Christmas sales for next year are especially fun.

I also love shopping for old books.

12. What's the last thing you think of before you leave the house?

"Do I have my phone?" That's not a bend-the-universe kind of answer, but it's the truth.

Now you can go see my friend, Lidna (ha ha...I accidentally typed "Lidan" and had to correct her misspelled name. Her name is really Linda. Anyway.) Go see her and all the other crazy, fun-loving peoples who participated in this week's Random 12!

Jan 11, 2010

My True Love Gave to Me...Day 12

Saturday before last, I started  the 12 Days of Christmas post series based on a book called The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle. You can read the introduction about it and the first 11 days here.


"On the twelfth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...twelve drummers drumming..."

Most people who have written on this subject will say that the twelve drummers are the twelve points in the Apostle's Creed. It seems the reason that many say that is because they also believe that it was the persecuted Catholics in England who devised the "hidden" meanings to protect their doctrine.

As I mentioned in my first post in this series, I'm not sure that I agree with that opinion since there is no physical evidence that it was a Catholic group or individual who wrote the song. Furthermore, and more importantly, it doesn't make any sense that this song would provide protection for the Catholic belief points mentioned in the song when those who were opposed to the Catholic church (the Anglican church) claimed the same points in their doctrine.

Plus, there are so many references to the number 12 in Scripture; why should I attribute these 12 to something that isn't in Scripture?

SO, I may be in the minority here, but here's what I see.

Look at this description, written by Neil W. Grover, as to the purpose of the drum during the time of the writing of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" --

"As far back as the middle ages, guilds of drummers were formed to add brilliant rhythm and flourishes to festivals, occasions of the royal court and to march troops to battle."

Festivals make me think of praise...they are a time of celebration and recognition of something of worth...just exactly what we do when we praise God. Festivals typically include a feast; when we praise God, we are feasting on His goodness.

"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." Deuteronomy 8:3

The closest thing that I have ever experienced regarding a royal court is corporate worship. Think about it: it's a time when those who belong to God's Royal Court come together to give homage to One who is Sovereign. Here is a definition of "royal court" found on dictionary.com:

Royal Court
the family and retinue of a sovereign or prince [syn: court]
the sovereign and his advisers who are the governing power of a state

Drums have been used in battle for several centuries. Particularly in the 1600's, drums were used for several purposes during warfare. They kept the soldiers in time so that they marched together in a straight line approaching the enemy. The drums also were used by the Commanding Officer to communicate maneuvers to his battalions. No doubt the beating of the company drums also instilled courage and vigor into the hearts of the men.

In "The 12 Days of Christmas" song, my True Love gave 12 drummers drumming. I believe these 12 drummers can be better represented by 12 leaders, one set for each people group:

For the Jews: 12 Tribes
For the Gentiles: 12 Apostles (after Judas was replaced by Matthias)

Those 12 tribes of Israel laid the foundation for the Ancient Hebrew and their descendants for the watching and the receiving of the long awaited Messiah. Not only did their Messiah come through them, but in the meantime they taught their descendants how to praise and worship God in obedience until He came. God also used the leaders of these 12 tribes to lead the Israelites to defeat their enemies.

Later, the 12 Apostles, those who laid the foundation of the church, were the men who gave us the instruction manual for understanding how God's salvation applies to us (evoking praise); they gave us the blueprint for what the Church should look like (corporate worship); and went before us in spiritual warfare to encourage us to press on.

Now I don't know if there is another soul who would ever see it this way, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :-)

Now, just for fun, I thought I would post a fun, contemporary version of this beloved song.
Enjoy the video:

Jan 7, 2010

My True Love Gave to Me...Day 11

Saturday before last, I started  the 12 Days of Christmas post series based on a book called The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle. You can read the introduction about it and the first 10 days here.


"On the eleventh day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...eleven pipers piping..."

The eleventh gift from our Heavenly Father (My True Love) is really pretty simple. The eleven pipers piping represent the eleven original faithful disciples who walked and talked with Jesus before His death and resurrection. Eleven rather than twelve, of course, excluding Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ and therefore revealed his true loyalty.

Remember in Luke 24 when the two men are walking along the road to Emmaus discussing all that had happened regarding Jesus, His death, and His resurrection? Do you remember who their surprise Guest was who appeared with them, stimulating conversation between them?

It always slays me how the one man asked Christ, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have happened there in these days?"

Ha ha! He actually asked the...Creator of the Universe, the All-Knowing Almighty...how He could be so clueless! Cracks me up.

Well after their conversation with Him, and after He informed them of a thing or two, they realized to Whom they had been talking and immediately made their way back to Jerusalem.

They found the eleven and those with them gathered together and saying, “The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon!” Luke 24:33

These eleven, the closest of Christ's faithful followers, are pictured in the pipers. A piper, by definition, is simply "one who plays the pipes." I really like the way Helen Haidle put it in her book The Real 12 Days of Christmas:

"Like children joyfully following a piper, these disciples followed Jesus. They also called others to follow Him. They piped an everlasting tune of great joy -- the salvation message of Jesus' resurrection from the dead."

Amen, and amen.

Jan 5, 2010

My True Love Gave to Me...Day 10

Saturday before last, I started  the 12 Days of Christmas post series based on a book called The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle. You can read the introduction about it and the first 9 days here.


"On the tenth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...ten lords a-leaping..."

The 1828 Webster's Dictionary describes the term "lord" as the following:

"A master; a person possessing supreme power and authority; a ruler; a governor."
Those referred to as "lord" in the Middle Ages (which is when "The 12 Days of Christmas" song was written), had authority to mandate adherence to the law as proclaimed in the land. Ten lords a-leaping is meant to represent the Ten Commandments of God as laid out in Exodus chapter 20 and again in Deuteronomy chapter 5.

But why are the lords leaping?

I long for Your deliverance, O Lord; I find delight in Your Law. Psalm 119:174

Or how about this one...

Praise the Lord! How blessed is the one who obeys the Lord, who takes great delight in keeping His commands. Psalm 112:1

Like the ten lords a-leaping, we ought to not only embrace God's Law, but we ought to love it, delight in it, and leap with joy at the thought of obeying it. After all, Jesus came to fulfill God's Law, not abolish it.(see Matthew 5:17 and Romans 3:31)

Hope y'all are staying warm out there wherever you are. I hear even Florida's cold right now, so that probably means most of you are too, if you live in the United States. I know I'm one frozen Southerner, myself.

See y'all tomorrow for day 11.

Jan 4, 2010

My True Love Gave to Me...Day 9

Saturday before last, I started  the 12 Days of Christmas post series based on a book called The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle. You can read the introduction about it and the first 8 days here.


 "On the ninth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...nine ladies dancing..."

"...praise Him with tambourine and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute..." Psalm 150:4

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness..." Psalm 30:11

Dancing is a natural response to joy! The nine ladies dancing aren't grieving while they dance; they aren't bitter or angry in their merriment...they're full of delight and cheer!

As a Christian, what is our source of joy? Our source is Christ Himself, but how is it manifested in our life? How do we experience joy?

Here's a Scripture that can give us some insight:

"The godly bask in the light; the morally upright experience joy."Psalm 97:11

{This is all leading up to the representation of the nine dancing ladies...I promise.}

So if the joy we have to dance comes from walking in the light, what can the Father give to us that we can use to keep us walking in the light, and thereby filling us with joy?

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."        Galatians 5:16

A little further down...and what would be supernaturally produced from that?

"But the fruit [the produce] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23

D'ja count how many of those fruits are mentioned? Nine.

Even though this fruit is produced in us, it still is not of us; it is of God. It is a gift from God produced in our lives when we walk in the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit makes me wanna dance.

Jan 3, 2010

My True Love Gave to Me...Day 8

Last Saturday I started  the 12 Days of Christmas post series based on a book called The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle. You can read the introduction about it and the first 7 days here.


"On the eighth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...eight maids a-milking..."

According to tradition, the eight maids a-milking are representative of the "eight unique teachings of Jesus sometimes called the Beatitudes." (Haidle) These specific teachings are found in Matthew 5:3-10: 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

If you read one more verse, there is another "Blessed are...," which is simply restating verse 10. The Scriptures often do this to show emphasis on something in particular. Apparently being persecuted for Christ is something we should seriously rejoice in...He said it three times! Here are verses 10-12:

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Sidenote: If you're being persecuted by anyone for anything that pertains to your faith in Jesus Christ, take heart!  He sees it; He doesn't miss a thing. And you will see treasure from it in heaven one Day. Treasure that you will in turn have the opportunity to lay at the feet of Christ Himself...oh Glory!

Okay, so back to the milking maids. Why milk?

Just as milk brings nourishment and promotes development in an infant, the concepts taught by Jesus here will edify and fortify us into spiritual maturity.

"...like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation..."  1 Peter 2:2

Jan 1, 2010

My True Love Gave to Me...Day 7

Saturday I started  the 12 Days of Christmas post series based on a book called The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle. You can read the introduction about it and the first 6 days here.


"On the seventh day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...seven swans a swimming..."

On this day, the seven gifts from God to His people are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:6-8):

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

The neat thing about it is that the life of the swan represents the growth of Christian. In her book entitled The Real 12 Days of Christmas, Helen Haidle says

"Just as baby swans grow and change from "ugly ducklings" into beautiful and graceful birds, so do God's children grow and change through the work of the Holy Spirit. The various gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed for the benefit of the entire body of Christ."

Baby swans, known as cygnets, are sometimes compared to a cute little duckling and found in wanting. They are awkward, disproportionate, and a little silly looking.

Awkward, but adorable little duckling, uh, I mean cygnet

Can you remember when you were saved? I can. And I remember being very awkward in my walk. I stumbled a lot, made a lot of clumsy mistakes, and sometimes even acted a little silly about things that I knew weren't "right," but I didn't have a mature understanding on how to deal with such things.

As the Holy Spirit has seasoned me and taught me how to exercise the gifts He's given me, I begin to develop. I start to see changes, inside my heart and outside in my behavior. Sometimes I still feel like I'm an adolescent in the Lord, but I know I'm growing, changing, maturing. And He's making me to look more like Him in the end.