*musings on the meaningfulness of form (confessions of an object maker inspired by craft and design) 

My Life, thoughts

As 2014-15 was my first year officially teaching at the college level (outside the context of my mfa) the past several months have involved a lot of reading and a lot of researching for my curriculum development. Like #I have no life levels of reading and researching which I’m sure any first-time teacher could no doubt relate to. This, needless to say, took away from my time producing in the studio which provided its fair share of challenges in the way of time management. On top of instructing two intro-level sculpture classes which I designed and absolutely loved I was also privileged to be given the opportunity to teach a lecture style survey of post modern art as well as a critical studies course that expounded on related theories. And to my surprise, in spite of robbing me of precious studio hours, all of the in depth research I conducted into the impetuses behind post-modern art actually were very clarifying for me in terms of my own studio practice — a welcome revelation after burying my head in books and watching my sketchbook and studio grow seriously jealous.

While this may seem of little gravity to some, for a disorientated post-mfa trying to find their footing amidst a sea of theoretical discourse, this was actually a pretty significant growth period for me.                                                  Let me explain.

Teaching post modern critical art theory was daunting as my work does not really corroborate any of the intellectual commentaries frequently applied to and projected onto art post-dating 1975. If anything, I’d say I’d more comfortably situate the ideas and processes which underpin my work amid those indulged by artists working in and around the 1960s. This affectionate association, one could argue, classifies my leanings as invariably modernist. And, up until teaching critical theory, I had no great qualms with that. I mean, I really hadn’t been one to care much about labels of that nature during my fledgling career as a twenty something student making art within the confines of the institution. It wasn’t until researching for my art history and critical theory lectures which demanded I familiarize myself with the qualities that underscore and differentiate modern art from post modern art (and a damn lot of the muddy ‘isms’ auxiliary to these two largely undefinable territories) that I became preoccupied with gaining a more flushed-out understanding of what constituted a work as ‘modernist’ or ‘post-modernist’ and subsequently, where I fit in in the mix.

Naturally enough, the qualifications my students inadvertently associated with the art we cross-examined as ‘modern’ or ‘post-modern’ was also in turn deemed ‘contemporary’ or ‘not contemporary’ pending what side of 1955ish the work landed. This, needless to say, implied great ramifications for the artist working in the year 2015 who happens to identify with modernist notions. Notwithstanding, my ongoing ‘mo.’ or ‘po.mo.’ inquiry transcended my curricular research and seeped into my own personal art-seeing endeavors. ‘Was the work subversive?’ ‘Was it universally accessible?’ ‘Was it’s accessibility pending the viewers literacy of some obscure cultural dialogue?’ ‘Was it contemporary?’ ‘Was it …. original?’ blah, blah, blah…  And so it followed that in routinely explaining to my critical theory students why an art work could be called modern or post-modern, I involuntarily began questioning these supposed standards within my own work.

It was this probing which provoked an unceremonious yet liberating discovery for me. This being the realization that I identify irrevocably with many modernist sentiments.

I was alarmed and delighted. But mostly, upon digesting this revelation, I began to sense within myself a pervasive insecurity directly correlative to my latent awareness that todays pluralistic art world seems evermore receptive and tolerant of art that functions in an intellectually subversive capacity that eschews the quintessentially modernist pretense that ‘form can mean’.

Being that my own work adheres unflinchingly to the latter assertion, I was finding myself in the midst of an internal crisis trying to validate for myself the impetuses behind the formation of my work for fear that they were not intellectually challenging enough to stand up in the post-modern market place of anything-goes-ness.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t, and am not out to make pretty things just for the sake of making pretty things. I never have been, and I’m not interested in making a case for art which bases itself singularly on this stance. I want to make people think, and I think art provides a unique and vital function in its ability to do so. However, I also think its ok to merely be charmed or intrigued by art and not really be able to nail down why. In essence — to be bewitched by it.

This is enough of a challenge in and of itself, no?

It seems to me that post-modernism or pluralism or whatever the hell you want to call it would elicit a decidedly cerebral critique diametrically opposed to this notion. Which is precisely why, as someone who happens to possess a proclivity towards deriving meaning from abstraction, I have often felt inferior and that my work lacks rigor in it’s lack of intellectual provocativeness and esoteric meta narrative.

In light of this I have long felt compelled to provide a defense for why I am not interested in pandering to po.po.po.- mo. avant gardes by admitting passively that abstract sculpture is in fact outmoded. Because I wholeheartedly think that abstract sculpture still has a lot to say — even 50 years after the heyday of modernist abstraction. Or atleast that it has the potential to do so. This conviction is based on my unrelenting belief in the forces of phenomenology and anthropomorphosization respectively in there unique tendencies to enliven three dimensional form.

Objects have continually subsisted as the most irresistibly juicy sources of inspiration for the production of my work in their vast range of surface treatments and utalitarian functions. Objects can implicate and reflect our own humanness. Objects can provoke an involuntary re-examining of our own physical presence as we uniquely exist in space. Objects, furthermore, are always the most willing of subjects for the task of being personified and bedeviled into Dickensian scripts about imaginary characters performing all sorts of activities for the fulfillment of our strangest desires and fantastical narrative preoccupations. For these reasons, even if it makes me a dated modernist, I still think that producing abstract objects is relevant. Although I should perhaps qualify here, that it is also because of these precise traits that I feel that my work (and the work of all others whose art resides in a similar sculptural vein) is invariably linked to design. Which, not unlike abstract sculpture, is too often met with dismissive scowls in the context of discussing contemporary art.

If you went to art school, you’ll understand the stigma that design tends to carry. Design methodologies and vocabulary in general are essentially taboo if you are a ‘fine artist’ who identifies with traditional media. And if your like me, you may have occasionally felt ashamed in affiliating with design-related fields, whether they be fashion, industrial-design, or any other non-fine art genres unapologetically linked to utility. However, what I would argue here is that design-related vocabulary plays an indispensable role for the abstract artist who seeks to engage in dialogues about an objects form and how the specific manipulation of this form can impact the viewers perception of the work. That ergonomic design and the phenomenological art object both seek to implicate the human body, and that in so far as the towering living room floor lamp is imperious to all its onlooking object fellows in the same way that a steel Richard Serra sculpture becomes immediately understood as an imaginary warlock surely is evidence enough for this.

At this point, I am quite happy to admit that, like the above mentioned examples, the thing that I feel enables my work to function in any successful capacity is its ability to appear autonomous. To this end, I believe there is no greater place for me to source my research than our highly designed, ornate world and the objects which are contained within it. That cakes, ice skates, tables, Persian rugs, tortoises, coffee makers, and mops are all marvelous pieces of formal inspiration for me is something I am officially ok with not feeling ashamed of even in light of there supposed lack of socio-political force or inherent subversiveness. And because of this, I’m going to start featuring a lot more random sources of inspiration on this blog of a similar nature (which may perhaps seem arbitrary) but that at any rate will  function to help me begin to understand in a more substantial way why I am so drawn to the formal world.

I will probably blab about why I think each featured item is so delightfully relevant to what I am trying to say through my own sculpture, and this may get boring for my reader. And I get that. Its pretty self indulgent. But honestly, I’m just really excited that for the first time in my artistic practice I feel no obligation to apologize for being inspired on a formal level. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m ok with the notion that form can mean. I’d make socio-politically charged shit-disturbing work if that was genuinely how my mind worked, but it simply doesn’t. What makes this seemingly inconsequential realization profound for me is that it permits a complete realigning of where I get to seek inspiration for the collective formation of my work — granting a newfound liberty to look earnestly and rigorously to areas which are unabashedly associated with CRAFT and DESIGN. yes… craft. even. So, if you want to read mildly convoluted rants about the things which happen to captivate me as a simple, optimistic, visually minded object maker, then you will want to stay tuned.

love

meg

xx

<insert disclaimer: if you have been looking at my blog for any length of time, you’ll see that a great deal of my favorite art functions in a very ‘postmodern’ subversive/cheeky way, so I’m not biased! I love this sort of work! I’m just saying that the work that I make doesn’t function in that way and I’m officially liberating it as such. > woo hoo! soooooo excited to tell you about my recent textile obsessions, you have no idea.. shits gonna get real. 

 

ya, thats me. gettin my read on.

 

*Lessons in the function of symmetry and unabashed embellishment: Minoan, Hellenistic, Etruscan, Byzantine, and Carolingian jewelery

Fashion, thoughts

I love the audacity and charisma of the craftsmen of the ancient world! They were all about incorporating animals, figurative imagery, and nature as decorative motifs within their jewelery and they always maintained meticulous levels of attention to the capabilities of the materials that they had at their disposal, unapologetically encrusting and engraving every square centimeter in want of visual interest. The excessiveness of this decadence sometimes borderlines on appearing absurd, but I absolutely adore that quality! Its as though the work becomes a charicature of it’s own self! Because of these features the pieces can read as being at the same time whimsical and austere, serious and exuberant. Such sophisticated, dynamic elegance!

Snake arm bands, anyone

           

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*Tsarist, Boyar, Russian folk costume, and Belorussian garb. 

Fashion, thoughts

Lately I’ve become immensely inspired by antiquarian Russian textile and garment designs of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. In terms of craftsmenship, the bespoke intricacies of the carefully manipulated fabrics and the intensive appliqué embroideries found in both the traditional costume and working class clothing of this region require no introduction as the delightful crown-jewel in any and all hypothetical charcuterie boards of delectabley rich non-western fashion (and all other supposed metaphorical cornucopia denoting visual pleasure-trips)It has always seemed to me that where unapologetically rigorous processes of making are present, so too is a person of the most scrupulous disposition. Therefore, I love speculating what sorts of people the seamstresses and tailors were who over-saw the creation of these marvelous concoctions. Needless to say, I would love nothing more at this moment than to visit the Kremlin Museum in Moscow to feast my eyes on the regailia of the tsars . . .

The patterns are decadent, yet the proliferations of pearls, abstract embroideries, trestles, and latticed filigrees should not, in my opinion, be dismissed as mere kitschy ornamentations. Even by todays pared down standardsI make this defence on account of the specific and deliberate integration of pattern against the bizarre silhouettes unique to these clothes as they come together to create forms which posess an oddly self-contradictory nature. The tent-like, boxy outlines, topped with graphic decorative floral motifs are simultaneously evocative of masculine and feminine essences while pesistantly upholding an unspeakably regal aura. In the case of the Sarafan or Dushegreya, for example — we are nolonger observing a womens quintessentially femine attributes, but her very architecture as a unique abstract form in space. She is a bizarre in-between character who seems both ebullient and ecclesiastical, delicate and reppelent. This fabulously duplicitous nature is reinforced by the incredulous spatial expanses of the textiles punctuated by seemingly precarious areas of dense energetic patterns suggestive of both playfulness and militant utility. 

There is something amazing about these contrasts which imbues the clothes with an inexplicable sense of vitality and charm making each piece seem almost imperious to the wearer in its unflinching adherence to what appears to be a specific and tightly observed aesthetic mandate — denoting no specific function but to glorify their very selves as unique objects with specific personas of their own.  In this way, I sort of relish in what Donald Judd would have thought as these clothes possess a self-referential quality that could be said to brush shouders, if very cooly, with the strict dictums of minimlist doctrine even in spite of their extremely embellished surfaces. In so far as textiles may become autonomous as unique and specific forms against their owner’s physique,  the clothing of russian noblemen and women of the past 300 years may indeed just take the cake. Which makes the viewer wonder; is the person wearing the thing, or is the garment wearing them? 

This is a simple question, but when asked in the context of viewing these clothes as sculptural objects, makes them rather profound in their unique charge as mere accessories at the disposal of the wearer…  What is perhaps most fascinating is the fact that in spite of behaving in this capacity, the clothes actually do very little to  accentuate the curvature of the body as most formal wear attempts to do. (Atleast in my opinion). Look no further than the excellent  kokoshnik in its variety of iterations which no doubt harken George Lucas characters.  Alas, fantasy comes to life.

^above image: Anna Pavlova doning a stunning kokoshnik for the ballet (found here)

^ above image: The Russian Sarafan

^ above image: Fedorovna’s coronation herald’s boots and coachman’s jacket. From Magnificence of the Tsars: Ceremonial Men’s Dress of the Russian Imperial Court, at the V&A.

^ above image: The last Tsar: Nicholas II and the empress of Russia, Alexandra Fedorovna in 1903

 

^ above image: Russian Costumes, 17th and 18th centuries

^ above image: “A wardrobe fit for an Emperor from the collection of the Russian Kremlin Museums. Beginning with Paul I in 1797, every emperor would go to his coronation in military garb.” — (found here)

 

^ above image: “The coronation coat of Emperor Nicholas II from 1896. The later Tsars displayed an elegant restraint in their uniforms at a time of growing nationalism.” — (found here)

^above image: variations of the kokoshnik (found here)

^above image: “Léon Bakst Tunic from costume for the Blue God c 1912 from Le Dieu Bleu” (found here)

^above image (found here)

^above image: “Girl in a headdress and dushegreya (beginning of the 20th century) / Northern Russia, Pskov Province / Collection of Natalia Shabelskaya” (found here)

^above image: “Woman in Toropetsky pearl headdress and a shawl / first half of the 19thcentury / Abram Klyukvin” (found here)

^above image: gorgeous polychrome embroidery . .

^above image: a traditional womens dushegreya (found here)

^above image:  ballerina, Alexandra Balashova

^above image: (found here), below images: traditional russian folk costume

  

 

*General Grievous

Design, thoughts

Recently this familiar character came up in a conversation about villains that T and I were having with some friends. Appearing in Star Wars: Clone Wars, General Grievous is an exceptional creature to observe — purely on the basis of his kinetic existence. The artists who designed this highly nuanced villain deserve some major props for sure! The first time I saw him move around in the film I was completely taken by his presence. Yea, I know that sounds dorky..but seriously (you really must take in his epic battle scenes to know what I mean).

I think what really makes Grievous an allusive character is that we just cannot seem to nail him down in terms of establishing who or what he reminds us of — whether that be a particular animal or some other creature, imagined or real.

This is especially evident in his morphing properties which allow his movements to seem to resemble those of a snake, an insect, a vehicle, a bird, and a human all at once. He is entirely graceful, yet a completely maniacal monster, an elegant yet tyrannical leader. The striking tension of this motif alludes me, and has for some time. I think this intense opposition and contrast of character might be precisely what makes good design good.

More on that… But for now, the g-ster. *enjoy!!

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*Willingness to Give

Faith, thoughts

This week Andy continued his series on giving freely.
Instead of emphasizing the importance of the act of giving in general, he spoke about the significance of being willing to give. It doesn’t matter how much you give, you must have a willing heart!
You can check out the sermon here ! Here are my notes.

My favorite statements from this talk were:
When you loose you ‘why’ you loose your way.

Our hope is not in riches but in the God who richly provides.

Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not high minded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is (‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6‬:‭17-19‬ ASV)

for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. (‭Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭13‬ ASV)

It is God who does the work in you. It is not your efforts! It is God that inspires you and me to get excited about serving and giving.

For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭8‬:‭12‬ ASV)

A person may give because of…
Joy It is joyful to give.
Obedience because the one I have surrendered my life to instructs me to give.
Blessing because giving positions me for God’s blessing and protection. Thou shalt surely give him, and thy heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him; because that for this thing Jehovah thy God will bless thee in all thy work, and in all that thou puttest thy hand unto. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭15‬:‭10‬ ASV)
Covenant because I am in convent with God and with you. It is doing something together as a church body.
Vision because I believe in the vision of our church.
Example because I want my contributions to match my convictions. I hope to be someone who people remember as someone who gave a freely and wisely.
Eternity because I want to hear well done. When I meet Jesus face to face I want to know that I have used what I have been generously given for the Kingdom.

There is a danger. That would be if we give only with spontaneity and pure emotion. In the bible we instead see examples of giving intentionally.
We don’t need a spasm of passion to give but a line of obedience in the same direction.

But this I say, He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9‬:‭6-7‬ ASV)

We should not give with compulsion. We should pre-decide to give. We need to have willing hearts.

ye being enriched in everything unto all liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9‬:‭11‬ ASV)

There is a reward for those who pre-decide to give. Do not give with compulsions or reluctance. Give with eternity in mind. Give because people need Jesus.

And he sat down over against the treasury, and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury: for they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. (‭Mark‬ ‭12‬:‭41-44‬ ASV)

The old women gave very little compared to the rich people who gave and yet Jesus said that she gave the most. Her giving, despite that it was small, was off the charts.

God has blessed me with more than I need so I can make an eternal difference in the lives of others

*The Mythologies of Andrew Wyeth

Fine Art, thoughts

I am now permitting the inherent nostalgia that seems to accompany this season to afford me the pleasure of indulging into the pictures of Andrew Wyeth.
For me these images harken the stark landscapes of rural prairie winters and the mysteries that a child conjures when feeling as though ones own little house is the last monument standing isolated amidst a sea of snow.
These, and many other scenes that one cannot help but romanticize when recalling the earliest memories of the first places they explored and keenly observed as the autumn became winter and the winter had its way with the land.
Behold, the irresistible quietness of Wyeth’s paintings.

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*generosity

Faith, thoughts

IMG_2489Today Andy started a new sermon series about generosity that probably couldn’t have been more timely. Listen here!
Lately, I feel God has brought to my heart the notion of contentment. It doesn’t seem that contentment would go hand-in-hand with generosity, but after today’s message — I realized a poignant connection between the two on the basis of merely being grateful.
Now, being grateful and being generous are not one in the same. The two are in fact quite different. Andy made the argument that God challenges us to engage both of these things in order to be content — both with what we have been given, and in the act of blessing others.
It all seems so simple, right?…. But when it really comes down to it — the notion of ‘first fruits giving’ (aka giving before your spend) — is an immense challenge to remain mindful of. To alleviate the stress and guilt which comes implicitly to most of us when considering first fruits giving, Andy began by expressing that the key to begin giving freely is realizing that we are truly rich.
He reminded us that what we have is exponentially more than what most people in the world have access to. And apart from that, (and although we should be thankful for our material comforts), we have Christ! We are rich in that we know a father who loves us deeply and paid the price for our sins. An indescribably abundant, sacrificial love.
Indeed, it does go against our very nature as selfish humans to admit to ourselves that our spiritual condition would enable us to be called rich. Rich is what we call the person whose means out-way our own, and our human lust for ‘stuff’ constantly lies to us telling us we can only be content once we have ______________________. (Insert object of your choosing).
Matthew said: Where your treasure is there your heart will be also. Wow….truth!!
This is what got me thinking about contentment in correlation to generosity. Since becoming deeply intimate with financial stress due to the demands of being a student for what seems to be an entire lifetime along with a few other factors, I have subconsciously began placing weight on hypothetical ‘if I only had ________________’ statements. These conditions (when granted) became the permission for me to feel content. They started pervading my consciousness, telling me that once we became financially stable, or once we stopped being students, or once we know where we were going to settle, or once our dream careers commenced then we would and could be happy. What a dangerous path!
Andy cited Proverbs 18:11 — The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale. This belief that we can build security through financial gain is the climate of our work-obsessed generation and society, and if we subscribe to this thought pattern — of course our will to bless others will be impeded by our own pursuit of false security.
To help obliterate broken thoughts about what hinges on our own contentment, Andy reminded us that in the Bible Jesus actually speaks more about money than he does Heaven or Hell in terms of a force that is actively competing for our soul… This sobering truth speaks volumes about our obsession with money, and our vulnerability to succumb to leaning on the acquisition of money to feel truly happy. If this is the condition to our contentment, how will we ever feel free to give?
This message was an awesome challenge to me, and I hope it encourages you to take joy in what you have been given and to give freely!

*Righteous anger

Faith, thoughts

This week Andy continued his series Anger: Virtue or Vice — today, focusing specifically on the virtue of anger.
Some really good wisdom! Here are my notes 🙂

Anger and money have many things in common
If you use money properly, you can accomplish many great things
Anger is, likewise, power.

Jesus was very clear that we need to ask forgiveness for our sin.
Never do we have record of Jesus asking forgiveness of his sins, why?
Because he was sinless.
However…in the midst of this, there were still moments where he became angry.

We revisited the same story as last week — of Jesus healing the crippled man —this time, in the gospel of Luke:

And it came to pass on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man there, and his right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath; that they might find how to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man that had his hand withered, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. And Jesus said unto them, I ask you, Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good, or to do harm? to save a life, or to destroy it? And he looked round about on them all, and said unto him, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored. But they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6:6-11 ASV)

What makes Jesus angry?
1. When people are robbed of their chance to be more
2. When people are robbed of a chance to meet God
3. When children are kept away from Jesus and robbed of the blessing of God

Jesus’ anger was never born out of self-interest. It was always about someone else.
His anger always led to helpful action.
The root of Jesus’ anger is love.

What makes us angry?
Loss of control

Our anger is almost always about our own self-interest and our own needs and wants.

The Pharisees were angry because they lost control.
When we are no longer in control, we become angry.
The Pharisees couldn’t control Jesus because they could not pin down anything truthfully worthy of accusing him.
We are desperate for control, and when control slips through our fingers we similarly become angry.

Jesus’ anger was righteous because it was constituted by someone else’s need.
What angers Jesus more than anything else is when you are hindered and robbed of opportunities for Jesus to make you free.
The crippled man could only beg, but Jesus saw something better for him. He saw in his crippled state that his potential was hindered. He took him from being an outcast to a participant..

Another example of Jesus’ anger:
And they come to Jerusalem: and he entered into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and them that bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold the doves; and he would not suffer that any man should carry a vessel through the temple. And he taught, and said unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? but ye have made it a den of robbers. And the chief priests and the scribes heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, for all the multitude was astonished at his teaching. (Mark 11:15-18 ASV)

Jesus was upset that people could not worship God because the temple had been changed into a place of commerce, pushing out the individuals that otherwise would have been present there to meet with God. He was angry because this incident robbed people from meeting with God. God and His presence had been traded for good business. Jesus must always be visible and we must clear out any obstacles that make the church unattractive.

We put unnecessary road blocks in front of people that prevent them from seeing God and meeting God. If the temple is full of obstacles, whether that is religious piety or actions which do not express God’s grace…they are

    robbing people of the opportunity to meet with God and that angers Jesus

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20 ASV)
Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Is our anger motivated by our own self-interest? Or our love for Jesus, and others?

*Suffering. Suffering creates character.

Faith, thoughts

This is a hard thing to call to mind while you are the sufferer of some unfortunate circumstance.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I handle my own suffering. Financial hardships, the ill-health of my spouse..etc. And I have to continually be reminded that my suffering will never compare to that which Christ endured for me. Its an ongoing, daily process.

I get stuck in selfish ruts feeling sorry for myself completely forgeting how joyful I should be for all of the blessings God has put on my life! Seriously! I am such a blessed daughter of God. I have an amazing, beautiful, talented husband (who is also my best friend), an incredible family, and wonderful friends.

Before I begin complaining about the lack of shifts I’m getting at work I need to stop and thank God that I have a job at all. Before I dwell on my student debt I need to stop and thank God for placing a sense of direction on my life and bringing me the inspiration to pursue the dream that he has so graciously laid on my heart. Before I start feeling like there is a deficit of people in my life who love God, I need to remind myself that there are thousands of people around the world experiencing severe persecution for professing their love for Christ. There are just so many things that I have absolutely no right to complain about because God is Good! I have no idea why T and I are experiencing the suffering that we are, but above all, I need to remind myself that God has a plan in it. And….that God works in mysterious ways. The stuff we are dealing with at the present moment that has provoked this lament truly is mysterious. Its constant, its relentless, and it creates fear in our daily lives. And..Fear is the opposite of love.

Some verses I need to remember:

Now that we have God’s approval because of faith, we have peace with God because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done. Through Christ we can approach God and stand in his favor. So we brag because of our confidence that we will receive glory from God. But that’s not all. We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. We’re not ashamed to have this confidence, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 GWT)

God is pleased if a person is aware of him while enduring the pains of unjust suffering. What credit do you deserve if you endure a beating for doing something wrong? But if you endure suffering for doing something good, God is pleased with you. God called you to endure suffering because Christ suffered for you. He left you an example so that you could follow in his footsteps. Christ never committed any sin. He never spoke deceitfully. Christ never verbally abused those who verbally abused him. When he suffered, he didn’t make any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly. Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so that freed from our sins, we could live a life that has God’s approval. His wounds have healed you. You were like lost sheep. Now you have come back to the shepherd and bishop of your lives. (1 Peter 2:19-25 GWT)

I consider our present sufferings insignificant compared to the glory that will soon be revealed to us. All creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal who his children are. Creation was subjected to frustration but not by its own choice. The one who subjected it to frustration did so in the hope that it would also be set free from slavery to decay in order to share the glorious freedom that the children of God will have. We know that all creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth up to the present time. (Romans 8:18-22 GWT)