The Master Artist is Weaving a Beautiful Work

A friend and I were talking the other day about how we can always look back and see how God was working, but when we are in the midst of things we rarely see the tapestry he is weaving from our life events. And then, we started telling the stories until we were laughing at God’s creativity.

Connecting the dots is God’s specialty. He truly does want to work all things together for our good.

How many times have you looked back on a series of events and noticed that what you thought were random connections was actually a calculated step by step route to the end result? I do this often, and I am always amazed.

Try it sometime – start tracing a recent outcome backwards – you will see the finger of God drawing the lines between all the connections for as far as you can see. For example, this week I have the privilege of being the live backstage announcer for a very big conference here in California called The California Women’s Conference. I am overwhelmed to see my name on the speaker’s page for such a big event, because I know the likelihood of an opportunity like this coming to me is so very small. But I also know that none of this happened by chance.

When I trace backwards from this week’s event, it looks something like this:

Exciting 2 days and lots of work being the live announcer for the biggest conference for women business owners in California << Signed contract to be announcer for CWC  << Email sent just a month ago, with my proposal to be the announcer << Again, God told me to send an email to Michelle about this <<Let several months go by, decided I shouldn’t do it << pitched Michelle Patterson my offer to be the announcer, she immediately said yes << felt God whisper to me “tell her you will be the announcer for this conference ” << attended several events for Women Network << volunteered to be on Advisory Board for the conference << introduced to Michelle Patterson (CEO of Women Network) by friend Kristi << Kristi invited me to local Chamber of Commerce events << joined my Chamber of Commerce at the suggestion of new friend Kristi << met a new friend named Kristi at a market party for my Nerium business << became a Nerium brand partner and began attending events to learn more << researched this new idea of starting a business with Nerium << a friend suggested I’d like some of the products he is using & the company he is with << saw something from a new friend on Facebook that made me want to know more << joined a group called Dreamers and Builders & made new friends << answered a call to adventure by an author I follow and admire << Etc. Etc.

Honestly, I can go even further back in this sequence to why I joined Facebook in the first place, and on and on. My huge opportunity to be the announcer at such a big event was not randomly generated. It was woven by God through connections I’ve made in the past several years. In the midst of that was his voice prompting me when to take action. In the future I will look back at other events and be able to trace them back to this very week and the people I will meet as a result of attending and announcing for this conference.

NONE of it is random, although it ALWAYS seems that way at the time. When I look at the hand of God and what He is bringing into my life, I can do this exercise over and over again – always with the same outcome: the realization that GOD IS WORKING ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR MY GOOD.

It’s an exercise in remembering the faithfulness of God.

Even when all the events in a sequence are not happy ones. Yes, even then. Perhaps especially then.

Even when we interrupt the artists hands and try to do it ourselves. Yes, even then. When we are ready to give the tools back to Him, God gently corrects our messy mistakes, although he doesn’t cover them up. They become part of the fabric of our lives. He weaves his colorful threads in between those places to make it beautiful again.

Take some time this week to draft a list of connected events & people you’ve met and I’m sure you’ll be overcome with the same awe and wonder.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful tapestry He is weaving of your life. I hope you will be able to step back from time to time and see it coming together.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NASB)

GOD SINGS!

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJ)
“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

This prophecy from Zephaniah is a promise for Israel….but we can take it for ourselves!

YES…GOD SINGS!!! Since we are created in his image, we sing and make music. Every people group on the planet has figured out a way to make music and rhythms since time began.

musical notes

Everything God has created sings. The heavens declare His Glory. Do you know that Astronomists have discovered that the stars and planets have audible notes? They are forever singing!

The rocks sing, the rivers, lakes and streams sing. The ocean sings a beautiful unending song. The trees sing as the wind moves them. Insects sing.

The sea animals communicate with audible sounds. All land animals, wild and domestic have a voice.

The birds have been created to sing beautiful melodies that identify who they are. Good job, God!
You are such a creative creator!!

You cannot think of anything that does not sing in some way.

When you become a believer in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, God is satisfied and rejoices OVER YOU with happiness and singing. It is as though He leans back with a big sigh and SINGS OVER YOU because YOU GET IT! Then He quiets you with His love.

TAKE HIS SALVATION, LOVE, JOY AND PEACE TODAY, AND KEEP GOD SINGING!!!

(repost from July 10, 2014)

JARS OF CLAY

There are times when a friend will make a mistake, and I say to them, “well, you’re just human after all,” and most every day I need to remind myself of that very fact!

The Word of God tells us that,  “The LORD God formed the man from dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Also in Psalm 138:13 & 14: “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  

Since we have established from God’s Word that we are, each one, created by Him in such an individual and unique way, let us surrender our lives to our Creator  He knows us well and has a perfect plan for us.  I trust Him with my life….do you?

However God made you…and if you are a believer in His son Jesus…then you are a vessel, or jar of clay to be used by Him to spread the Gospel. That doesn’t mean you have to be a preacher or singer or even a writer or poet. What that means is that you let the Light of Christ shine from inside of you to a dark world by the way you live your life in front of others.

A Christian rock group that has been popular for many years even chose their name as…Jars of Clay!!!

Photo by Kristin Coke

Photo by Kristin Coke

In II Corinthians the 4th chapter the Apostle Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that he and his fellow ministers are just yielded vessels being used by God to spread the Gospel. In verse 7 he says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

And what is “this treasure”?  Verse 6 gives the answer…“For God who said (at creation)    ‘Let light shine out of darkness’  made this light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Wow! So we have His light in us to shine out to others…..but we are just frail humans made from dust…..actually jars of clay.  Don’t think of yourself greater than you should, but be a willing vessel for God to use.

Have you ever seen a potter at the wheel forming his work of art? That’s what God is to us. He made us…..as the potter makes jars of clay.  Let Him have His way in forming you to be what He wants you to be.  I guarantee…. you will be beautiful.

A beautiful, prayerful song is……

“Have Thine own way, LORD,  Have Thine own way.  Thou art the potter, I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after Thy will….while I am waiting yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, LORD,  Have Thine own way.  Hold o’er my being absolute sway.  Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see Christ only, always living in me.”

Enjoying God, the Artist

I’m in Yosemite National Park this week. Or church, as I like to call it.

Yosemite Valley – Photo by Tami Romani

Isn’t it amazing how we feel closer to God when we are in His majestic creation? I hear this a lot from my friends, “being at the ocean is so calming to me,” and “when I’m in the mountains I feel like I’m being restored” – these are common themes in conversations lately. A friend told me the other day, “The reason people feel closest to God in nature is because nature is not trying to be anything other than what God created it to be.”

God’s creation isn’t trying to show off. It doesn’t need to. God created it to be what it is – an expression of His handiwork. We could learn a lot from God’s beautiful creation.

In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
 The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Psalm 95:4-5

My yearly pilgrimage to Yosemite has become a necessity. It fills me up & gets me ready to tackle the rest of the year. The serenity of a bike ride whenever I want, the reading a book just because, the laughing and lingering with friends over a morning cup of coffee without a meeting to rush off to… these are the things that make being in this place extra special.

Yosemite Bike Path - Photo by Tami Romani

Yosemite Bike Path – Photo by Tami Romani

Not only is it wonderful to be away from the busyness of life sometimes, there’s an awe that takes over when I’m in such a place. I’m reminded that in the mundane of my life, there is majesty all around if I take the time to experience it. I believe it’s no accident there is very limited cell phone service and excruciatingly slow internet in the few places you can pick up a signal here. This place is meant for unplugging. And if you won’t do it on your own, it’s kind of forced upon you. It’s a good kind of coercion. For if I don’t worship Him in the midst of His glorious artwork, the rocks will surely cry out.

Yosemite Falls - Photo by Tami Romani

Yosemite Falls – Photo by Tami Romani

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Psalm 96:11-12

But you don’t have to trek to your nearest National Park to find this kind of peace. Sit outside during your next lunch break and listen to the birds sing their melody. When the sun begins to set, turn off your electronics and watch the miracle of the dance as the light fades from the sky.

What Yosemite reminds me of every year, is the importance of being in God’s presence in the moment. It’s kind of a shame that I need this reminder, but I am so very grateful it’s there.

the WOW factor

I was watching a show on NatGeo channel the other day called “Animal Dances.” How could you possibly scroll past that title without checking it out?

So, there they were. All these different animals in different parts of the world showing their “stuff” in mating ritual dances. The females watch the males display their grandeur and stamina before they choose a mate.

One particular bird, from the middle of the jungle, did a dance that you would not believe. He was an interesting looking black bird of paradise with long antennae-looking spires coming from the top of his head. He looked normal enough to me until the females came to watch. Not only did he toss some red berries about on his “stage” for decoration before his dance, but he placed them “just so.” Then, he stood up and his feathers fanned up and out like a huge black skirt as he paraded back and forth, eyes open wide. His spires flowed this way and that with his movements. And perhaps most interestingly, he had a patch of different feathers on his chest that were bright, shiny and colorful like sequins that caught the light to dazzle the ladies.

What a display! All this just to perpetuate the life-cycle of this little bird out in the middle of nowhere. I just thought…. WOW  (expressing astonishment and admiration)! This bird perhaps has no other purpose than to just be amusing to God, and now that we have captured it on film, we humans can also enjoy this amazing bit of nature.

I began to think about it. There are so many bugs, plants, birds, reptiles, sea creatures, and mammals on this planet. In the past several decades, due to technological advances, we have observed and discovered many new species. This means that for hundreds of thousands of years and more, creatures and species like this have existed even without our knowledge. God did it for His own pleasure!

How many little patches of flowers are out in a field that no human eye ever enjoys? But there they are. Part of the cycle of life that God set into motion. My Mom always says, “What a Creative Creator!”

Indeed! What a planet He created for us to enjoy.

The Psalms are full of verses about the beauty and wonder of God’s great earth. For example, Psalm 104:24-25: “How many are your works, O Lord? In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things both large and small.”

Photo by Kristin No. Cal. Coast

Photo by Kristin ~ No. Cal. Coast

I say, don’t get so caught up in life “stuff” and “schedules” and “work” that you let days, weeks, months pass without noticing the little things. The random wild flower amongst the thorns. The tiny ladybug going about her daily routine. The variety of flora and fauna in your local park. The sweet call of a bird as it flits around through the trees.

Life brings it’s ups and downs, but there is always beauty in the world that God created for us. Never cease to be amazed and grateful. Do your part to take care of this amazing earth. Spend time out in nature. Be still, watch and listen. Let it renew your soul.

Never cease to say….. “WOW!” and thank God for all His creative gifts!

Carry THE LIGHT

God was in the process of creating our earth, and seeing that darkness was prevalent over the earth said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT, AND THERE WAS LIGHT. GOD SAW THAT THE LIGHT WAS GOOD.” Genesis 1:3

DSC_0857a

All living things need light. A blind man still needs light from the sun on his body to give him vitamin D and warmth.

The dictionary gives the number one definition of light as a noun: The form of radiant energy that stimulates the organs of sight, traveling about 186,300
miles a second.

I can see God in that definition, can you?

The light I’m writing about today is Jesus Christ, because He was there with God as the sun light was being created. (John 1:1-5)”…and through Him all things were made….in Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

The darkness still does not understand the light of Jesus, and continually stumbles in the darkness. In fact, II Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. So, people are sometimes confused as to what is the True Light and what is the pretend light! (In fact there is a cult by the name True Light Church….so learn to test the spirits.)

When you accept Jesus Christ as the True Light, the Holy Spirit will help you discern what is true and what is false. Get to know the True Light by reading His Word and ask Him to help you know the difference. Satan is deceitful and manipulative. You must stay aware of his tricks and keep your eyes on the brightest light of all. Then allow His Light to shine through you as you go about your daily living.

The teen choir at the church I attend sang a song by Twila Paris last Sunday night that affected my thoughts in writing today……
“Carry the light, carry the light. Go and tell the people they are precious in His sight. Carry the light, carry the light. Go and preach the Gospel ’till there is no more night. In the name of Jesus Christ…carry the light!”

Matthew 5:14-16 (Jesus’ words) “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Dear Lord, because Your Light is in me, help me to be a reflection of Your Light wherever I go, whatever I do. Amen

Further reading: Luke 11:33-36 and Ephesians 5:8-21

JARS OF CLAY

God is our Creator and has made us in His likeness, according to the book of Genesis.

In biblical times pottery formed from clay was a necessary utensil that every home, rich or poor, had. It could have been ornately created by an artisan or simply formed by the hands of the local potter in each village.

The prophet Isaiah writes in chapter 64 verse 8, “Yet, O LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Since God has formed us with His hands, and everyone in biblical days could identify with the necessity of owning clay pots, Paul again states what the prophet Isaiah had written on the scrolls so many years before…………”But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

See…..we are identified as jars of clay. The outside of our vessel is not what is important….it’s what’s inside. We are breakable, but oh so useful in God’s Kingdom!!!

“We have this TREASURE in JARS OF CLAY to show that this all-surpassing POWER IS FROM GOD AND NOT FROM US.” And according to the previous verse,” THIS TREASURE IS THE LIGHT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF CHRIST.” II Corinthians 4:6-7

clay pots

So………..CARRY THE LIGHT in your jar of clay and recognize your insufficiency in God’s sufficiency!!!

Here are the words of verses one and two of a great old hymn written in 1902………

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!  Thou art the potter, I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord!  Have Thine own way!  Hold o’er my being absolute sway!  Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see Christ only always, living in me.

Shabbat Shalom

What is the big deal about Shabbat? And why do Jews say this to each other every Friday afternoon?

Well, it is a big deal. God even told us in his Ten Commandments to honor the Sabbath. (Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work: but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.) 

This is something that we struggle with in our Western Christian thinking, and it is something that we both miss the meaning of and miss the benefits of because as a society we do not honor it.

Our Jewish brothers and sisters shut down their work places and spend sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday in fellowship together and with the Lord. It is so amazing to be in Jerusalem on Shabbat when the streets literally empty for 24 hours and resume the hustle and bustle of life on Saturday evening. Everyone returns to their routines rested and happy, and ready to work. Let’s discuss the meaning of Shabbat and Shalom.

shabbat shalom

Shabbat in Hebrew literally means “ceasing” or “stopping.” This is the word that is always used for the seventh day, the day work ceases for the purpose of rest. Not only is this a time of rest, but a time for holy gatherings together.

Leviticus 23:3 says, “Six days work is done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a set-apart gathering. You do no work, it is a Sabbath to rest in all your dwellings.”

We know the word Shalom as the word for peace in Hebrew. But the noun Shalom has the more literal meaning of “being in a state of wholeness with no deficiency.”

Therefore, when we put the two words together, Shabbat Shalom, the simple meaning is, “may your day of no work be peaceful.” But, if we dive deeper and look at the literal meaning, it really becomes, “may you become whole during your ceasing of laborious work,” or, “may your wholeness be restored as you cease work on the seventh day.”

This is fantastic, right? So why aren’t we doing this? God actually gave us a day that we should dedicate wholly to Him and to gathering together with our loved ones in His Name. Why do we miss this when it is such a gift?

Now hold on to your hat, because I just learned something that both helped me to understand just how special and important we are to our Creator God, and made me appreciate the Sabbath enough to want to keep it from now on. Ready?

Genesis 1:1 God created the heavens and the earth. The 1st Chapter of the Bible tells us how he created all things and then made man at sundown on the 6th day. He made everything in creation perfect BEFORE He made us. He made it for our pleasure because we are the apple of His eye, made in His own Image. Then, once everything else had been made, He formed man. And, He formed man just in time for His Day of rest! Man’s first day on earth was set apart for rest and communion with God. Our first day in existence was Shabbat, spent building our relationship with the One who made us.

I can hardly contain my excitement! We are special, and we were made to be in relationship with God.

We are free in Christ, so we are not bound by law. God does command us to keep the Sabbath and to keep it holy. However, our society does not collectively adhere to the Sabbath. The day of the week doesn’t really matter – what matters is that we unplug once a week and take our God-given gift of a day of rest.

Imagine how our relationships with God and with each other will deepen when we set aside 24 hours a week to rest together in His Presence.

May your wholeness be restored as you cease work one day a week to commune with the One who created you and gave you peace and rest!

Shabbat Shalom!!!

GOD SINGS!

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJ)
“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

This prophecy from Zephaniah is a promise for Israel….but we can take it for ourselves!

YES…GOD SINGS!!! Since we are created in his image, we sing and make music. Every people group on the planet has figured out a way to make music and rhythms since time began.

musical notes

Everything God has created sings. The heavens declare His Glory. Do you know that astronomists have discovered that the stars and planets have audible notes? They are forever singing!

The rocks sing, the rivers, lakes and streams sing. The ocean sings a beautiful unending song. The trees sing as the wind moves them. Insects sing.

The sea animals communicate with audible sounds. All land animals, wild and domestic have a voice.

The birds have been created to sing beautiful melodies that identify who they are. Good job, God!
You are such a creative creator!!

You cannot think of anything that does not sing in some way.

When you become a believer in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, God is satisfied and rejoices OVER YOU with happiness and singing. It is as though He leans back with a big sigh and SINGS OVER YOU because YOU GET IT! Then He quiets you with His love.

TAKE HIS SALVATION, LOVE, JOY AND PEACE TODAY, AND KEEP GOD SINGING!!!

Feeling Insignificant?

I’m just one in a million. Who cares about my point of view? I just plug along day after day like the billions before me, and have nothing original to say.

Do you ever feel this way?

I do. I struggle with the fact that I am literally one of billions of humans in the history of mankind, yet God created me to be unique. This seems contradictory.

You are, literally, just one of billions of other humans that have walked, walk or will walk the earth. However, there is NO ONE else exactly like you. You are genetically made like none other, EVER. You also have a unique Spirit which has been fostered in a unique set of circumstances. This means your perspective is one of a kind.

DNA-strand

You are created in the Image of God, in His Likeness. He is Creative, therefore we all have the capacity to create. Your life itself is art. Art is: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.

I am learning to shut out the critics and negative voices within and without. What I have to say is valuable, first to God my Creator, and then to me. I learn something every time I create. Every time I snap a photo. Every time I write. Every time I interact with a stranger. Beyond that, if someone else appreciates what I say or create, it is just icing on the cake.

I must stop seeking to please others, constantly wondering what “they” will think of my life/art/writing/creation. If God is pleased and I have grown, that is all the purpose it needs. Our society values others’ opinions too highly.

My challenge to myself and to you is to stop giving credence to the “critics” and to listen to what God says about us. His voice is the one that matters most. Sure, we should have checks and balances, and there are healthy ways of achieving this. However, if your life and your art lines up with Scripture, and your unique soul is connected with your Creator as you live your life, then you are on track my friend.

I also challenge us to stop being so critical of others. Allow others to uniquely create as God has inspired them. Encourage and uplift.

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
Aristotle

Psalm 139: 13-16 says:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Take heart. Know you are special and that your insight into this life is unique and meant to be shared. Be empowered and strengthened by the fact that God your Creator designed you just as you are. The rest of us need to see and hear and feel what you create. Be bold and share it. You were created to do so.