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Beauty From Ashes

Title: Beauty From Ashes
Materials: Hand-lettering and photography
Artwork by: Jenessa Wait
Description: God doesn’t make trash. Period. All that He creates is beautiful, and a reflection of who He is. It’s easy to buy into the lie that “I’m too messed up” for redemption, but that’s far from the truth. God is not intimidated by brokenness. He is the one that has what you need on the other side of that pain. If you’re lonely, He is acceptance. If you’re brokenhearted, He is the mender of your heart. If you’re afraid, He is your safe place. There is always an answer to brokenness and His name is Jesus.

 

Beauty for ashes, joy for mourning.

God’s not intimidated by your mess. He’s secure in who He is. Run to Him just as you are!
“You’re altogether beautiful my darling, there is not flaw in you” – Song of Solomon 4:7
Jesus paid it ALL and because of the cross, there’s hope and redemption.
You are not defined by your past, but by who God says you are.

Letters to the Broken

Title: Letters to the Broken
Materials: Hand-lettering and photography
Artwork by: Phoebe Raymundo
Description: To the anxious and the disheartened. To the exhausted and uncertain. Take heart! God has not abandoned us to a life of brokenness. When we spend time in His Word, we learn and remember that we serve a God of grace, mercy, and love. He is the very thing that holds all things together—repairing our brokenness—and making us whole.

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

 

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NASB)

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

The Beauty of Broken

Written By Elisa Morgan

Elisa Morgan is a speaker and the author of The Beauty of Broken and Hello, Beauty Full. A graduate of Denver Seminary (MDiv), she served for twenty years as the CEO of MOPS International and now is President Emerita. Along with Mart DeHaan and Bill Crowder, she co-hosts the daily syndicated radio program, “Discover the Word” (www.discovertheword.org). Connect with Elisa at www.elisamorgan.com.

 

Most of us don’t want to talk about the not-so-pretty stuff of life. We’d rather focus on loveliness. Hued sunsets. Bursting flowers. Downy ducklings and fluffy lambs. Holidays. But I’ve discovered a beauty that God brings in the unseemly, unexpected, broken things. He brings beauty into broken relationships, shattered dreams and painful realities.

I come from a broken family. When I was five, my father sat in a white easy chair in his home office and beckoned me to his lap. He looked into my eyes and said, “Elisa, I’ve decided I don’t love your mother any more. We are getting a divorce.”

My family broke and I wondered how I could fix it.

My broken family – my mother, sister, brother and I – moved across the continent where my days started with the sound of my mother’s alarm down the hall in our ranch-style home. I pushed back the covers and padded into the kitchen where I grabbed a glass, plunked in some ice cubes and poured Coca Cola over it. With a handful of chocolate chip cookies from the cookie jar, I made my way down the hall to my mother’s bedroom. There I placed “breakfast” on her nightstand, turned off the alarm and began the process of getting her up and ready for work. As a single mom, she needed to work and it was my daily job to wake her up. My mother struggled with alcohol.

My mother broke. I wondered what I could do to fix her.

When I had a chance as a grownup to start fresh, I determined it was my responsibility to make an unbroken family. After all, I had become a Christian as a teenager, had been involved in ministry, even gone to seminary, where I met and later married my husband. Precious, stable, rock of a man. I honestly believed that if I implemented “perfect family values,” then I would have a perfect family.

Problem is, I’m broken. Everybody is. Even God’s family was broken – beginning with Adam and Eve and moving forward to you and me. No matter what we do, we all end up in broken families. In one way or another.

There’s no such thing as a perfect family. Instead of fighting this reality – and failing – God invites us to embrace it. And to see the beauty he brings in the broken.

I come from a broken family. And despite my very best attempts to produce a formulaically perfect Christian family in my second—the reality is that I still come from a broken family. We are messy – gooey in the middle – and I love my family more than I ever thought possible, brokenness and all. I love who they are and I love who they have made me to be.

I’ve come to discover that God offers hope in the form of “broken family values”—values like commitment, humility, courage, reality, relinquishment, diversity, partnership, faith, love, respect, forgiveness and thankfulness. He understands that no one is perfect. He knows the unique journeys of loved ones. He gets it that abnormal is actually pretty normal. That people mess up and yet are worthy of respect and love and are never—ever—without hope. God holds each family close, crying with his wounded children, tenderly assembling and reassembling fallen fragments, creating us into better versions of ourselves.

God doesn’t sweep the broken up into a dustpan and discard it. In order to reach the broken in our world, God himself broke, allowing his own Son to die a broken death on a cross for us. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 3:5). God brings beauty in the broken. God loves the broken. God uses the broken.

What if we move away from the myth of the perfect family and toward the reality of our beautifully broken ones? Might we then breathe air clean of the stench of shame and saturated with the grace of God? And might others find in us, not the exhausting chasing of some impossible dream but fresh hope for the real life they are living? A life where Jesus comes, in a broken body, to provide the beauty of healing?

I come from a broken family. I still come from a broken family. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. I’m pretty sure that my story is likely yours too.

 

Click here to order “The Beauty of Broken”.

Broken and Shaken, but Far from Forsaken

Written By Isaac Benavides, Brazil

I grew up in Chile; life was good then. My father had an important position in a large company and my mother worked as an army nurse. We led a carefree existence in a neighborhood away from civilization. The area we stayed was surrounded by rivers and nature; it was known as “the pearl of the river”, a befitting name. I never imagined that we would ever leave that place.

But we did. In October 2007, my family moved to Brazil with the desire to serve as missionaries in a Hispanic community under the ministry of a local church. Shortly after we arrived however, things changed dramatically.

Relational conflicts arose. At first, my parents tried to remain united to honor the commitments they had made to each other and to the Hispanic community. But unresolved conflicts that existed in our family before the move, coupled with the challenges of adapting to another country, language and culture proved too much to bear. A couple of months into our stay in Brazil, my parents divorced. This divided the family; my mother and sister returned to Chile while my father and I stayed back in Brazil.

Naturally, I started asking a lot of questions. I admit that these questions still haunt me now: Why did we come here? Why did all this happen? The divorce and the aborted mission deeply shook my faith. As result, I left the church, drew away from God, and went down a path of self-destruction.

My mother returned to Chile and my father had to leave the church and embark on a new path. He tried to work in various places but nothing went according to plan. One day, frustrated and embittered by his own mistakes, he decided to turn to God, seek Him and pray.

He sought the Lord for weeks; I heard his cries daily. I believe his sincere and heart-wrenching cries were pleasing to God. One morning, my father felt a strong prompting from the Lord to pick up some bread and coffee and walk along the city streets. And so he went.

Along the way, he came across homeless people—people who were abandoned, on drugs, or starving. With his limited Portuguese, he showed love to five of them through a simple act of sharing coffee and bread. He continued to do this faithfully daily, till he became a household name along the streets.

Today, some 2,000 people live on the streets of Curitiba, many of them addicted to drugs and alcohol. They represent one per cent of the entire population. There was so much need, and my father needed more people to help in this effort to reach out to them. He was convicted that God had called him to work with the invisible people in society—the homeless, addicts, victims of violence—and the direction of his life changed forever.

Five years on, he now has 100 volunteers from various Christian denominations, serving more than 200 homeless people in a well-known park in the city center. Every weekend, he conducts a church service and feeds the homeless people. He calls this place “open sky church”.

Today, the ministry has grown significantly and now operates a non-governmental organization as well as a center to rehabilitate drug addicts. Prayer has been the backbone of the ministry—not once has my father written any project plan or paper. And God has miraculously provided all that he has needed at the right time.

Within our family, we are still going through a process of restoration, forgiveness, and healing. We have grasped, however, the truth that we must look beyond our circumstances and bring the light of Christ to those who do not know of His love. There is always someone who suffers more than we do, and to whom we can make a difference. There’s nothing more important than a heart willing to be guided by God and to serve like Christ.

Some people ask me how to find God’s purpose for our lives, and my honest answer is: I do not know. But one thing I know for sure: God is good and He can use us, no matter what our circumstances and ability.

At a personal level, God turned me back to Himself when I got married. He convicted me of my responsibility as a husband and father to protect my family physically and spiritually. I now rely on Him for daily guidance and help.

Truth be told, I still struggle with working with drug addicts and homeless people. But I look at my father every day, and am amazed by the long hours he puts in and the risks he takes on a daily basis—all for the sake of having two or three people willing or able to leave the streets and drugs behind.

I remember asking him about this one day. “Dad, don’t you get frustrated that your hard work reaps such little results? People do not change!” He answered me, “I was not called to change and transform people, I was called to love them. The rest is the work of God.” That’s when I realized that only a broken person can see and know what another broken soul needs. Our mission is to love someone—that makes all the difference.