Held to the Flame

Skip Mathews flame painting a copper bracelet, Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View, AR.

Being held to the flame during times of trial or testing is no picnic. But what about having an oxyacetylene torch heated to around five thousand degrees Fahrenheit to pull hidden beauty from a piece of copper?

During a visit to the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas last spring, I was fascinated to watch as Skip Mathews, (no I didn’t spell his name incorrectly) copper colorist extraordinaire explained his flame painting technique.

Flame painting captures colors, shapes, and tone using only the very hot flame from the torch. It’s not how hot the flame is that creates the colors, it’s how hot the metal is.

As the copper heats, cool downs, heats up again, it goes through multiple color changes depending on the number of times it is held to the flame, how long the heat is applied, and whatever happens to be in the air that day.

The Bible tells us God purifies those who belong to him through trials and testing in our life, much like a refiner passes precious metal through the flame to remove the impurities that hide its beauty.

Similar to flame painting, being held to the flame draws out our true colors.

The Master Artist knows how long to hold us to the flame. He knows when to remove the flame and let us cool down. He also knows when to reapply heat. And God knows how many times to go over the same area to bring about the result he wants.

There are no surprises with God. He knows what pattern he’ll end up with; what unique, one of a kind creation we will become.

Depending on the intensity of the flame, and the number of times we’re held to it, some of us will hold more turquoise in our final product. Some more orange. Some more green or brown. Others will be in the red to pink range. Each life is distinct, fashioned and flame painted by the Master Colorist’s hand.

Have any of you seen a copper colorist in action? If you get the opportunity, why not stop by Skip and Racheal Mathews’ shop at the Craft Village in the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas?

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I will bring the third that remain through the fire and make them pure, as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call upon my name and I will hear them; I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” Zechariah 13:9 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Skip and Racheal Mathews are flame painting copper colorists who live in Mountain View, Arkansas working at the Ozark Folk Center. Using an oxyacetylene torch, they use a skilled control of the flame to create shapes and colors with intentional design and composition. The end result is art. Check our their website and YouTube video.

Successful Mission

Fifty years ago this month the Apollo 11 lunar landing completed a successful mission to the moon. As Neil Armstrong said, one giant leap. Perhaps like me you watched the historic event on a black and white television.

Recently, I watched a real-time successful Space X launch on my phone. Quite a change from a black and white tv, wouldn’t you say?

In this successful Space X mission sixty satellites launched from a Falcon Heavy rocket into the blackness of space. The satellites left the rocket in a pack. Then one by one, dispersed on their individual mission. Fascinated, I watched as each of those tiny spots of light left the rocket and floated off into darkness.

While I watched those sixty satellites head out on their pre-determined mission, I thought of the words Christ spoke to his eleven remaining disciples before he returned to heaven following his resurrection.

The eleven received their commission together. Then one by one each Bearer of Light dispersed on his individual mission to spread the Good News throughout the whole world.

I’d have to say they completed a successful mission, wouldn’t you?

As Bearers of the Light of Jesus, followers of Christ are given the same mission today.  I wonder, how are we doing with that?

Did you watch Apollo 11 launch or see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon? Pilot’s dad was part of the Apollo launch team that day. Pilot and his family watched the launch first hand.

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Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Just the Way We Are

We are woven and spun, knit together by a magnificent Creator God who made each of us just the way we are. No two people are exactly alike.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, it might not come as any surprise Psalm 139; the psalm that talks about being woven and spun, knit together in our mother’s womb, is one of my favorite psalms.

We are masterpieces created by a loving God who knows exactly what he’s doing. A God who put the parts and pieces of who we are in place. A God who makes no mistakes.

Like me, perhaps the vision you held of yourself growing up is not exactly who you are at this point in time. Perhaps you’ve wished you were someone you aren’t. Perhaps you’ve wished you possessed abilities and talents you lack.

Perhaps you’ve been a little discontent with what God put inside you and what you feel he left out.

Sometimes, I believe, it takes a lot of acceptance to love ourselves the way God made us. Especially on those days we feel lesser-than. We may wonder what God was thinking when he created us the way he did instead of the way we think he should have created us.

It takes courage to grow up and be who we really are.

e .e. cummings

Like poet e. e. cummings wrote it takes courage to grow up and be who we really are. To be who God made us to be.

It takes courage for us to complete the tasks we were made to complete.

It takes loving ourselves enough to agree with God he knew what he was doing when he made us just the way we are.

Each of us is knit together, woven and spun, by the Master. Created with different textures, colors, and patterns which blend together to glorify the Creator in a unique way.

And aren’t we glad?

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For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. Psalm 139:13-14 (VOICE)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Blossoming Mimosa Trees and Delayed Dreams

While traveling through Alabama on Interstate 85, Pilot and I like to look for blossoming mimosa trees. We point out each one we see.

As we traveled north to attend the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference this year, we were disappointed and surprised to find fewer than usual trees with blooms.

On our return trip the following week we spotted tree after beautiful tree full of blossoms.

We tried to figure out what may have caused the lack of trees in bloom as we journeyed to the conference. Not enough rain. Too much rain. Colder than normal winter. Warmer than normal winter …

We’re not horticulturists so truly have no idea for the delayed blossoms. We settled for the fact it simply was not the right time yet.

Having spent the week with over three hundred writers at the BRMCWC, I couldn’t help make the comparison between those mimosa trees and each of us. Not only those of us who write.

We’re all on different journeys. We don’t achieve our goals, don’t blossom, at the same time do we? Some of us bloom earlier. Some bloom later. Some dreams are achieved earlier. Some achieved later.

Some of us have a profusion of blossoms on our tree. Others don’t have as many. The number of blossoms does not negate the beauty of the tree.

No matter how successful or unsuccessful our lives may appear to others or ourselves, our lives continue to be beautiful when we offer them for our Creator God’s purposes.

I’ve found when hopes or dreams are delayed, there are some who think they must know the exact reason for the delay. They theorize the reason for the delay is too much this. Not enough that. When honestly, in much the same way as Pilot and me and the mimosa blooms, they don’t have the slightest idea, and truly don’t need one.

It’s just not God’s time yet.

I’m coming to realize the One who told the moon when to shine and the sun when to sleep, told the sea it could only come so far and no further, placed the stars in the heavens and the bars around Orion knows when our not time yet will turn into it’s time now.

The same way God told each and every blossom on each and every mimosa tree that lines I-85 when it was time to bloom, he knows when it is time for our dreams to blossom.

As we wait for whatever dream we hold in our heart, perhaps we should remember the mimosas that bloom at God’s appointed time and not one moment sooner.

Is there a dream you’re waiting on to bloom?

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To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Curious to know more about my writer side? Then check out my author interview on Lorrie Domin’s awesome site.

Our Declaration of Independence

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4th in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read, voted on, and approved. With that declaration, the Continental Congress announced the thirteen American colonies were no longer part of the British Empire.

Although July 4, 1776 was the day of America’s declaration of independence, those all over the world who claim Jesus as Lord of our lives celebrate Resurrection Day as our declaration of independence from the chains of sin.

The Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson, and approved by committee, justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III. It asserted America had certain natural and legal rights.

Among the most famous words of the Declaration are:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 

My dad was a member of the US Navy when I was born in Morocco on the USAF base near Rabat. Although I was born in Africa, I have a birth certificate issued by the US State Department which proves I am an American citizen born to American parents on a US military base.

While my earthly citizenship is in the United States of America, my eternal citizenship is in Heaven courtesy of Jesus Christ. I am a joint heir with the King. That’s where my first allegiance lies.

America’s freedom from tyranny was purchased at the price of many lives on both sides of the battlefields that spread out across the thirteen colonies.

Freedom from the tyranny of sin was purchased at the price of one life, God’s only Son, on the cross of Calvary.

Jesus Christ is the true Declaration of Independence.

As those of us in the United States of America reflect on the continued sacrifice and cost of our freedom from the chains of tyrannical leaders, let’s not forget what it cost our Savior to purchase our freedom from the chains of sin.

If you live in the States, any special way you celebrate Independence Day?

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But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. Philippians 3:20 (MSG)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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