Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Tag

Beauty from Ashes   5 comments

Eleven years ago on a forested mountain covered with treacherous ice, sparkling like slivers of glass in the sun, Kimberly said “Yes!” to me.  I slipped on her finger a ring that we designed together, two light blue opals, the color of her eyes, surrounding a teardrop diamond.  My wedding ring was a simple circle of beaten gold, showing the rough marks of the hammer blows that shaped it.

Our stories have always been forged by pain and sorrow, and we were embracing this together, the sadness and the beauty.  It is the seeping wounds of cut limbs bound together that creates the miracle of grafting, the agony and glory of each coursing through the veins of the other.  It is not just slow healing that we find, but a hybrid bouquet that far surpasses the beauty of either flowering branch on its own.

How perfect that our 11-year engagement anniversary should combine Valentine’s day and Ash Wednesday.  How apropos that I inadvertently wore black pants and a red shirt yesterday to school where I had my one class called “Spirit and Trauma.”  I came home to a living room full of lit candles, and Kimberly and I shared with one another our struggles and hopes, inviting God to pour in his grace.

Beginning with advent, our motto has been “find the beauty,” and for this season of Lent we have refined it to, “find the beauty in lament.”  This week we will remember the goodness that has come to our marriage through our brokenness.  “There is a crack in everything.  That’s where the light gets in.”  Our deep, genuine, close connection is the bond of shared sorrows through stumbling love.  This week we will name each facet of that unique beauty of brokenness to one another.


Posted February 15, 2018 by janathangrace in Personal

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Coming Out of the Closet   9 comments

So, yes, I did sort of blandly confess yesterday that my life is a useless dead-end.  If my dispassion came from fatalism or apathy, it would likely be a sign of spiritual stagnation, but instead, my sharing it with such ease and openness (not stuffed with caveats or apologies or explanations) is a very real sign of spiritual growth for me.  It has taken years for me to slowly come out of the closet as a failure, a nobody, and grow into the faith that God is in control and loves me with an unfettered grace.  He is famous for using asses (both the donkey variety and the human kind) to accomplish good on this earth, even those totally resistant to his purposes, like Jonah at Ninevah and Peter with the Ethiopian eunuch, so he can surely use someone like me who, though deeply flawed, is eager to be his instrument.

I no longer cower under the withering suspicion that my flaws keep me on the bench, but It is not easy to feel useless, to feel as though my gifts fall to the ground like rotting apples in a starving country.  It requires faith and patience in the mystery of God’s will and work in the world.  I’m getting better at that… I have to get better at it because the longer I live, the more clearly I see the wreckage around me.  As I told Kimberly yesterday, this wretched world gives no rational proof of a good God.  The balance sheets of justice (let alone beauty and goodness) cannot be reconciled on earth.  As Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable.” Forget the world around me, the world inside my chest is so slow in growing towards God that death will catch me long before I’ve lived into half the truth I’ve come to see. 

God has a lot of explaining to do to justify his creating this muck-up since he knew the disaster that would come, but I expect one glimpse of his beauty will obliterate all our questions and doubts and captivate our hearts.  Until then, we live by faith in a beauty we cannot see, in a grace we cannot well absorb, and in a love that guides us through the dark and home to his heart.  May we all find our way by grace and en-courage one another with compassion.

Posted February 25, 2015 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Winter Blossoms   Leave a comment

About 10 years ago my oldest sister Mardi gave me a peace plant from her home.  For the first couple of years it had several blooms, but with my haphazard watering and giving it sunlight, it soon stopped blossoming.  When it drooped, I would water it… if I were around and noticed.  I think it has more roots than dirt since I have never repotted it, not wanting it to get bigger.  A less hardy plant would have just given up (as many of mine have!), but this one persevered.  It put out nice green leaves, usually with brown shriveled tips from over-watering or under-watering (I still can’t tell the difference).

After 8 long years of barrenness!

This winter, Kimberly brought home an even more pathetic small peace plant.  She had left it in the care of a colleague while she was out of town, and he had forgotten to water it.  The leaves were mostly curled brown and crumbling to the touch.  We cut off all the dead leaves which made it look less scorched, but more pathetic, and started to water it.  And here in the middle of winter and struggle, we have been delighted with both plants deciding to bloom!  The flower on my plant lasted a whole month before I burnt it with incorrect watering of some sort.  Kimberly’s flower is just starting.

On good days, I think of it as a parable of our lives, a promise of what is to come, a hoped for sweetness and beauty from a long gestation of suffering and pain.  I wish for you, friends, a glimpse of this beauty which is developing in you as well.

first glimmer of life and beauty

Posted February 4, 2012 by janathangrace in Personal

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