Restoration: Sackcloth and Pearls
The story of my restoration is constant.
Furthermore, my story is not that traumatic. To me, it feels heavy, but I know, your suffering is yours, mine is mine. Often on my Facebook page, I ask to pray for you. Frequently, I am left undone by the requests. At this point, there is no reason in the world for me to pretend to be something I am not. I have prayed for you. But I have also counted all my pennies and googled ways to hide your cheating husbands’ bodies.
The human side of me wants to save the world from the hurts, brokenness, and the brutal disloyalties. In my humanness, I plot and scheme, and I daydream of ways to fix things. In my brokenness, I am left on my knees, begging that He who already saved the world, will show up and do something to make all the things wrong… right.
And this part is hard, I know He won’t show up with barrels to hide body parts in or winning lottery tickets for the masses.
He comes in waves of peace, hope, and restoration.
There, that word, restoration.
Again and again, I hear it in the breeze and in the storm.
This is who He is and why He died. So that we may be restored.
And what is restoration?
Really, what does it even mean? If your marriage is in shambles, how will He restore? If you have lost a child, to death or relationship, how will He move? And, if you just lost status or friendship, if you have faced humiliation or slander, how will He make that right and new? Seriously, if you are out of work, broke, or in ruin, will He save?
I wish I could tell you.
Alas, I cannot.
However, two weeks ago I sat in the foyer of our North Houston home, watching the day go by, wondering what was next. I grieved for things I thought would happen and didn’t. Further, I lamented the things I thought for sure my God had invited me to change and influence, the exact methodology I believed accurate and mourned… I was wrong.
Then, at just that moment, our big black cat, Ezra, jumped up on the entry table and knocked down my flower arrangement and broke the bamboo container in which it displays. Quickly, the mischievous beast bolted, I cursed and cried. Then, retrieved my craft kit to try and remedy the situation. As I glued, taped, and restrained the wild arrangement of flowers, my memory sparked with my first days at Trim International Floral Design School 27 years ago.
Odd, I guess but yes, I was a florist and wedding planner. That success paved the way for an undergraduate degree in Family and Consumer Sciences. Success bread success and that success carved out a master’s degree in Education Counseling and Human Development. And all of that built the momentum that brought me here, to this blog post.
I am of the belief, in our society, we have confidence in our control of success and full culpability for our failures. And, in our journey as Believers, we credit our good with God’s best, and our worst with how we have let Him down.
I have come to know this one thing: at my best, there is still tragedy, at my worst, there is still blessing. It is sticky because of me. It is sacred because of Him.
Truly, the destruction of the flower arrangement by Ezra the very bad cat, primed a series of clean up efforts in the small entry of our home. I love this room. Although I believe it to be secondary to the original design of this house, I have never seen any house with such a feature. Of this house, I adore this space most. So, I went and grabbed some cleaning supplies, the mop and broom and tended to the rest of the entry. When I finished, I lit a maple-pumpkin-ish- falling leaves scented candle and sat back down to embrace the order and perfection.I have come to know this one thing: at my best, there is still tragedy, at my worst, there is still blessing. It is sticky because of me. It is sacred because of Him. Click To Tweet
There it faced me, on the wall hung my most beloved décor. It is a cross that Justin made for me one year at Christmas early in our marriage. We were entirely broke. I suspected that Justin would not be able to give me a single gift and was resolved to that lack in that season.
Surprisingly, Christmas morning, after all the kids were satisfied with their haul, Justin said, “OH! I have something for you!” He went into the garage and came out with a huge cross he had welded out of old steel sucker rod from our ranch. It was simple, yet stunning. We hung it in the dining room and when our season of want had passed, I bought flowers and decorated it. In each new home, I have added or changed the dressings to match the latest fad.
The now restored rusty steel posts from which the cross is fashioned are possibly 75 years old.
The pieces are perfectly reinforced with the faultlessness of Justin’s abilities and the wisdom he has to provide me with something I love. It is beautifully decorated with flowers, leaves, and poly-clay berries. It is brutally rustic and entirely feminine.
What did I want to do with my life? How does floral design, family science, writing, and foster care make any sense? Who am I and what will ever become of my most true desire, a loving home for suffering children, restoration for broken families, and the Jesus I love to be made known in every corner of the globe?
As with many of my ideas, they come in a flash. They will either entirely fail or rock the masses. I am the original sunshine and rain. Sometimes, I negotiate with these ideas. I am the self-ordained queen of dichotomy. But the words, ones I had considered before a year or two ago, flashed… Sackcloth and Pearls.
I called Justin.
He cut and welded. I drew, twisted, and blinged.
Of my husband and I, I confess we are both broken and restored. Greater still, we both have a heart for the broken and give praise for the restored. This project will not single-handedly save the world. For now, this is my prayer: First, the proceeds will, supplement our income. Second, it will allow me to keep writing. And finally, it benefit Upbring, a non-profit foster care and adoption service that we are grateful to support.
Under the fancy, I am the strong woman God created me to be. The work of the cross is the perfect weld that holds me together. The brutality of hurt and loss have aged me, and frankly worn me down. Yet, He alone blankets me in my birthright as daughter. Steeped in ashes, tossed aside, or flat on my back wrapped in sack clothes, He offers me pearls.
He placed a crown on my head and called me blessed.
Not as the world does, no, as He has promised.
And the cross Justin made for me all those years ago is a constant reminder of this. Simply, the cross Justin fashioned is impeccably dressed and an ode to brutality and beauty.
Each time God shows me something new, I am better for having lost. Yes, the scripture, “all things work together for good…” can be a toothpick shoved under your fingernail. However, it is the Truth.
If not for that space where you were lost, how can you be found?
And if not for that profound grief, how can you be comforted?
If not for that deep, low spot, when would you look up and ask Him… “what should I do?”
The cross in all its ruthlessness is the answer. It is terrorizing and crude, yet it is the totality of the beauty of restoration.
If not for this valley, one would never know the triumph of climbing the hill.
For this, I am most grateful.
The Old Testament speaks of the grief and lays way to the struggles. Sackcloth and ashes were the attire for loss and misery. But the cross has turned our sorrow into dancing. The cross fixes everything.
Yes, It conquered death.
Definitely, the veil was torn.
Amazingly, it birthed Grace.
And yes, the cross delivered freedom.
Shockingly, it proved all that we believed impossible, possible.
Together, after much prayer, Justin and I chose to make varied versions of the huge cross from our foyer, in smaller versions and offer them in our Etsy shop. Our goal continues to be foster care reform on every level. Most assuredly, we believe that the families of children removed are being wholly neglected and need more opportunities for healthy change. Justin and I believe this can be accomplished through mentoring programs and unconditional love. Our hopes for change are the driving force behind this project.
Now, the first batch of these limited addition crosses each come with a restoration journal, they are numbered, and a portion of the purchase will go directly to Upbring, which is active in the pursuit of foster care and foster care reform.
Our end goal is to generate enough from our Etsy shop, book sales, and speaking to develop a life-altering curriculum for families of removed children which we hope to offer nationally. I know, I dream big… with lots of bling.
As always, please pray for us and our endeavor. And, please, do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your prayer requests. I join you in prayers for restoration of every kind.
Jesus be all over you… Love, Jami