Monday, November 30, 2015

Broken Glass - Guest Post by Joanna Politano

I've had the joy of getting to know Joanna over the past few years. She's an amazing writer with the sweetest heart and love for her family and God. When I asked her to participate this year with a post about Masterpiece, she quickly agreed, and I'm so glad she did. This post is absolutely beautiful. So without further introduction, here's Joanna!


This is what broken glass looks like:

But we all know this image, because we’ve felt this way before. Perhaps you experienced a day where incredible weight built up until you broke under the pressure. Maybe it took years of stress for you to shatter. Either way, we’ve all had a time where we’ve known without a doubt that we are utterly broken. Crushed.
Nothing makes you feel more useless or discouraged. After all, what do you do with shattered glass? It’s difficult and tedious to clean up. You don’t want to let someone else clean it up—what if they cut themselves? So you collect the pieces and get them as far out of reach as possible.
But what if someone asked you for those shards as you snuck them out to the trash? My mom saves everything—EVERYTHING—because she sees a potential craft project in it. So what if someone looks at those shards and says, “yeah. I think I can use those. Would you give them to me?”
“Ok, sure,” you say. “Here you go.” And you wait to see what they’ll do with it. Lo and behold, they polish them. Not only that, but they infuse them with color. Wow, that’s incredible! I’m glad I gave this to someone who knows what they’re doing. Now someone has a collection of beautiful stones for their mantle, all because they were placed in the hands of a master craftsman. What was broken is now polished out into something useful and pretty.

But this artist has more in mind than merely pretty stones. “Just wait” he says. So you leave him to his work, finally beginning to trust his expertise. He has a very detailed plan on paper, with specific ideas for every single piece of glass. Ready to be amazed, you step up to look at his work when he pronounces it done. And of course he does not disappoint as he reveals…

You stand back in awe, tears in your eyes, as you see what the master craftsman has done with the shattered pieces of glass. The brokenness you wanted to hide away and move on from as quickly as possible. “I can use that,” he’d said, and now those words ring true. Here it is, all your pain and brokenness in a beautiful display, in a way that makes sense. The pieces fit together, in this master’s plan, to form an entire picture. They even tell a story to others looking on and communicate something to them. Amazing, you think. And truly it is. But he’s not *quite* done. “Just one more important touch,” he says, disappearing for a moment. And then light bursts through the glass from the other side, a prism of colors raining down on you.

And then you get a glimpse of his true plans from the beginning. For only a master craftsman can take your shattered, broken pieces, fit them together into the beautiful image He’d designed from the beginning, and then shine His own light through the prism of colors for a radiant display that will leave everyone who sees it breathless with the wonder of His artwork.
And imagine, He’s done all that through you. Through your brokenness. Because only broken pieces can be fitted together into something beautiful, just as empty jars are the only ones ready to be filled with something amazing.
And only a master can take the dirty, messy garbage you would love to discard forever and make it a stunning masterpiece that will prove to everyone around how great are His plans and His power.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve been broken in the past, it feels like an “end.” The end of my strength, the end of a relationship, the end of my success. But in truth it’s a brilliant beginning. God cannot work with a person who feels “whole” on his or her own. It’s in our brokenness that we become useable, and it’s that brokenness that He uses to reach people, to create that larger picture we can’t see, and to make a glorious piece of art that fully reflects who He is as an artist. Personally, I can’t do much with broken glass besides line my trash can with it, but hand it over to an artist and our shame, embarrassment, and heartache becomes a masterpiece.

Meet Joanna (and her adorable family)!

I’m a work-from-home mom of one super cute baby girl, and I write novels. I married my hero Vince, who is my love and my polar opposite. I write, he tears it up with the red pen. I break cars and other mechanical things, he puts them back together. He’s nailed the “speak the truth” thing, and I bring the “in love” part. But the real spark to our marriage is that he does not like chocolate and I…  like it a normal amount. We love and live from our little house in the woods near Lake Michigan, which is undergoing a constant renovation.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Full Love

…to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…Revelation 1:5

To him who loves us.

Those words are so powerful, and sometimes…sometimes so hard to believe. Unconditional love can be nearly impossible to understand and accept, but it is what Jesus Christ has for us. No matter who we are, no matter what we look like, no matter what we’ve done, Jesus loves us.

Oh, how we’d act if we realized the depths of his love! Trusting in that love—letting it soak into us—softens our hard areas, soothes our hurts, and roots us in security. Like a warm blanket on a cold winter day, God’s love is something we can sink into and rest in its depths.

Love does that, doesn’t it? It gives us sure footing. It allows us to see our value. It breaks apart our loneliness. Love is incredibly powerful, and yet so many of us miss the fact that we have access to a depth of love we can never exhaust because we are loved by the One who is love, and he offers it freely to all.

Friend, down here on earth we may mess up love. People will get it wrong, but God never will. His love is perfect, and it’s waiting for you to step into today.

Lord, please let me feel your love today. Open my eyes to the way you show it. Strike down any thought that tries to keep me from believing it, and let me accept every drop of affection from you today. Fill me with your all-consuming love, Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2015


I am a neat-nick. Doesn’t always work out well with small children, but if I had my choice, my home would always be neat. I don’t even mind cleaning because it actually calms me. Just don’t ask me to scrub anything. Dust, vacuuming, organize--great, but elbow-grease is where I draw the line. I mean, how relaxing is that, really? Scrubbing one spot over and over and over again? Ugh.

Hubby knows this about me, but it‘s not his favorite trait of mine (good thing he‘s called to love me anyway). I keep messes out of the way, but dirt in the corners? Baseboards that need washing? Stovetops with cooked on gunk? Yeah, not so much. It’s a matter of time, and I have other things I want to do. So, if my house is tidy, I tend to forget about the dirt lurking in other places, especially if it means skipping a task I truly don’t like.

And things go great, until Hubby wanders into an area that’s got gunk lurking. See, while I look at the big picture, God has blessed me with a husband who sees the details - thank you, Lord…truly…eh-hmmm…so anyway, last week when Hubby decided to cook me dinner, he encountered the stove. Sweet as he is, he didn’t say anything. He got dinner in the oven and just started scrubbing away. It took him the entire hour that dinner was cooking, (yes, I let it get that dirty) but that stove sparkled when he was done.

Now I explained to him that he’s much better at this than I am. Had I tackled the task, it would have taken much longer--his elbows are much stronger than mine. That explanation didn’t fly. He offered one of two thoughts--scrub harder or take care of the little messes before they turn into bigger ones. I politely ignored him. God, however, tugged on my ear to make sure I received the message.

I’ve been reading through the Bible during my morning devotional time and the next morning I opened up to where I was in Psalms. Chapter 66. There's a lot of great stuff in there that had me thinking, but I stopped at verse 10, “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” Now I’ve read that before, but God read it to me that morning, then spoke with me a while.

All too often we take care of the big, easy messes in our lives, the ones that are easy to spot and easy to fix. They keep our lives tidy, but do they keep them clean? And what about those little messes that occur along the way? They ones that aren’t as noticeable, so we leave them--not realizing they are digging into the crevices of our lives, creating bigger messes that are harder to get rid of. Then when God comes in and points them out, we don’t want to scrub and polish that area to be rid of them. It takes too much work. And really, is it fun to rub over one spot over and over and over again until it’s removed? The area becomes sensitive, we become tired--who really wants to go through that?

But what’s our choice? To borrow Hubby’s words: Either take care of the messes when they are little and manageable, or scrub harder. Because God wants to refine us like silver.

Silver’s neat, isn’t it? My mom gave me a box of silver bells she used to put out every Christmas. They were a mess. But after some polishing and scrubbing, (by me, no less!) they shined. And you know what I noticed? I could see my reflection. And that is exactly what God wants. See, silver--when shiny--reflects the image of the person who’s holding it. So scrub away at your mess, put the elbow-grease in (Phillipians 4:13 says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, so no saying you‘re not strong enough to scrub, use His strength), because when you’re polished up the world will look at you and see the image of the One who’s holding you: Jesus Christ.

*today's post was taken from 2011 as I'm on a little break until 11/ 23. See you then friends!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Seasons of Hope Novellas by Jessica Patch

Hey friends! I'm super excited to let you know the final novella in Jessica Patch's "Seasons of Hope" series has released. This has been such a great series, so let's take a look at the last one, and we'll chat on the other side!

Successful bistro owner and worship leader, Sierra Bradley appears to have it all together, but inside she’s a hot mess. Often dictated by fear, Sierra regrets not eloping with high school sweetheart, Ezra Alcott. Now he’s returned to Mistletoe to sketch behind-the-scenes portraits for his sister’s wedding and Sierra has agreed to cater the event. With no escape from crossing paths, she has to deal with the heartache of what might have been. 

Ezra Alcott left for France to make his mark on the art world and nurse the pain of rejection. But somewhere along the way he lost sight of the kind of man he wanted to become. Back in his sleepy hometown, he realizes God might be giving him a blank canvas to start over. 

If Ezra can find the strength to ask for a second chance, and Sierra can trust God with the things she can’t see, they might be able to paint a lifetime together. 

This was a fun end to a sweet and light-hearted series. Patch does an amazing job balancing both struggles and laughter with authentic characters you can't help but root for on every page. Her faith element always weaves organically through her stories with real people who are relatable. And her romance never fails to pull out sighs and smiles. Sierra and Ezra's story is no different. The other element I thoroughly enjoyed was seeing everyone else in the town of Mistletoe. If you're new to the series, you'll feel right at home. If you're finishing it up, you'll enjoy the last glimpse into their lives as we say good-bye.

And...since this is the last in the series, Jessica Patch has put the others on special through Sunday! So if you haven't read them, now is the time!  You can purchase It's Always Been You here. Links to the other books are below. Happy reading, friends:)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Just Be You

I know, dear God, that you care nothing for the surface—you want us, our true selves. 1 Chronicles 29:17 (MSG)

It’s hard to put our true selves out there, isn’t it? Even harder to find people who’ll accept us for our real selves. For some it’s all about the mistakes we’ve made that still cling to us. For others it’s our hobbies or talents that don’t seem mainstream enough. Maybe it’s our skin isn’t clear, our hair is frizzy, we’re too tall or too short…there are countless reasons people choose to hide behind masks and not reveal who they really are.

But, oh, friend, every one of those reasons (even ones you add to my very incomplete list above) shrink in the light of the One who desires our true selves. And why wouldn’t he? He created us. He put each pound and wrinkle right where it is. He stretched each bone to the perfect measurement and wove into our cores all the talents and passions unique to the very person he envisioned when he formed us. God wants what he created…us. Not what we’re trying to hide behind.

So today shed the surface you’ve knit together that’s covering up your true self and step out boldly into who he fashioned you to be. That’s all he wants. You.

Lord, today I pray that I can step out from behind anything I’ve hidden behind and offer you my true self. Help me to be bold as the person you created and walk confidently in the beauty you gave me. Let me see myself as you do and help me to fall as much in love with each facet of myself as you are. Amen.