Raku

My favorite way to fire my Broken Clay jewelry is called Raku. Raku is an ancient, Japanese, way of firing, we have changed it a bit here in North America over the centuries. It’s results are unpredictable, and they are far more immediate than a regular firing done in my electric kiln. You can get some exceptionally, wildly beautiful pieces, and you can get what I call burnt cookies. It is worth it to me even if I get a couple of pieces of the wildly beautiful ones. There are many factors that lend themselves to the final results. It depends on the type of clay, the glaze used, the temperature, the reduction of oxygen environment, the fire that envelopes the piece, and probably more variables that I am not aware of. I can do exactly the same process each time and every time there is always a different result. I am new to this type of firing, so maybe I will be able to repeat the results that I want over and over again, eventually. I don’t fire this way often but when I plan to raku again I can’t wait to see what will happen, since it is so unpredictable, so raw and wild.

Raku is a fast firing, using a tiger torch. My raku kiln is a wire mesh barrel lined inside with a fire blanket. There is a hole cut into the bottom of the kiln, where the tiger torch goes. I load my glazed pieces on an expanded stainless steel tray, place them in the kiln, and then light the torch and fire to 1860 F. It is at this point that the glaze melts and bonds with the piece. Within a couple of minutes, my husband and I will open the kiln and take out the trays of red-hot jewelry and place them into a container prepared with sand and either paper or sawdust. When the sawdust or paper ignites, we place a lid on top and seal it so that the air is used up by the fire, this is what is called a reduction firing. After the jewelry have been covered for a few minutes, we remove the trays and dunk the pieces into cold water to set the color. When I take the pieces out of the water I get to see the color of my jewelry. This whole process is exciting, a little dangerous, and I love that I have to fire outdoors. There is a sense of freedom in this. In a way I feel like it is God and I together working on the jewelry. I do as much as I can, and He takes care of the wild, raw and chaotic part of it.

It is funny how often what I see is burnt cookies, others see them as unique and beautiful. My husband has to remind me that even if I don’t appreciate the pieces someone else will. They have a beauty all their own.

 

Hidden

What does it mean to be hidden in Christ?

Lately the word hidden repeats over and over in my head as I think about what He wants me to write. I am not really sure where God wants me to take this.

There are a few verses in the Psalms that talk about hiding in God. There is also a verse in Matthew that talks about God’s hidden treasure.

Psalms 31:1-5 (MSG) A David Psalm                                                                                                      31 1-2 I run to you, God; I run for dear life.                                                                                      Don’t let me down!                                                                                                                                  Take me seriously this time!                                                                                                                  Get down on my level and listen,                                                                                                          and please—no procrastination!                                                                                                        Your granite cave a hiding place,                                                                                                         your high cliff aerie a place of safety.                                                                                                     3-5 You’re my cave to hide in,                                                                                                                  my cliff to climb.                                                                                                                                          Be my safe leader,                                                                                                                                          be my true mountain guide.                                                                                                                     Free me from hidden traps;                                                                                                                          I want to hide in you.                                                                                                                               I’ve put my life in your hands.                                                                                                              You won’t drop me, you’ll never let me down.

In these verses it talks about a time in the author’s life, where he feels like he is in trouble and needs God’s help. He runs to the safety of God. David the author of this Psalm had many experiences of danger in his life, he through these times  experienced God’s love, protection and dependability. David had been hunted by his enemies, and always God came through for him. I love how David lays everything out for us to read. We see his fear, his sorrow, his depression, and his joy and celebration. This gives me the ability to breathe and not keep all my emotions bottled up. Emotions can be expressed, and God listens. He won’t reject you or strike you down if you have questions for Him to answer. He may call you to the carpet and give you a piece of His mind. He will show you His authority, but God is big enough for our questions and our emotions. God is the one who we should bring them to. He will give us honest answers and the strength to control raw emotions. It is ok to express your emotions, but they need to be under control or you will do damage to someone else.

David knows where his safety lies. He knows who is aware of everything and loves him completely. David knows that there is no better one to hide in than God. David knows that God’s power and love will envelope him and provide solace and protection. David, in these verses doesn’t just go to God, He runs!!, he runs for his life. David hides himself within God. His relationship with God is strong, it is intimate, it is one that grew out of time and experience. David, throughout his life had many times where he NEEDED God, where nothing and no one else was big enough to save him, only God. God was the one to grow this relationship, by being the one who is completely dependable and trustworthy, by being The Author and Creator of love. All David was responsible for in the relationship was belief, trust in God.

Psalms 91:1-3 (MSG) 1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence,

    spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,

Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.

    I trust in you and I’m safe!”

That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,

    shields you from deadly hazards.

His huge outstretched arms protect you—

    under them you’re perfectly safe;

    his arms fend off all harm.

Fear nothing—

These verses again talk about hiding in God. Here, though, we see hiding as sitting in God’s presence, resting in His shadow, taking refuge in Him. It sounds like a place of peace. It says fear nothing! In the bible it says that perfect love chases out all fear. To be hidden in God, is to be in a place where there is no fear. You don’t have to hide from scary stuff, when you are hidden in God, you can face what ever life throws at you. To be hidden in God is a space in your soul where you commune with the Holy Spirit, you allow intimate conversation with your Maker, where He reassures you, where you have incredible, very real peace like no other you experience outside of God. Complete trust creates complete peace. Hiding in God is where your relationship with God grows and thrives. It is a place of knowing God, increasing in knowledge of God’s love and care. You discover who He is, and then who you are to Him. You will be amazed at His thoughts towards you. LOVE, LOVE and MORE LOVE!!!

When a person lives within this love and peace, they create a place of safety around them, a place of peace. They are not afraid and that exudes out of their being, because God has so filled them with his peace, His love, of Himself and that transfers to the space around them. I have lived there occasionally, it is a beautiful place, almost too much. If you think there is any beauty in this life, it all pales in comparison to a life hidden in God. It is a place ripe with grace and mercy, soothing to the soul. It is a place of abundant joy, no matter what you are facing.

To be hidden in God is not about hiding from the world, hiding under the bed or behind locked doors. Hiding in God is about placing your life in God’s capable hands, trusting that He has got you, that He is always with you. To be hidden in God can mean bravery, courage to face the world. When you live hidden in God you can do the things He asks you to do, even if you are afraid. Courage is not doing something the world judges as “brave”, unafraid. Real courage is doing something even when you are shaking in your boots, doing something afraid. This is something that I experience when I go and do whatever God wants me to do. Naturally I am a fearful person, I am usually afraid when I try to do something in my own strength. Often what God wants me to do is to open up my life, being vulnerable and exposing my story, allowing others to judge me, to see if I am worthy. I have learned to take that need, to be worthy, to God, He satisfies that for me. He tells me that He found me worthy of: being created, of a relationship with Him, and the death and resurrection of His Son. So to God I am worthy, so what can someone else say that is more truth than God’s truth. Nothing!! Anyone who says contrary to what God says is lying!! I know the truth, and I am learning to accept it, and allowing it wash over me, washing the grime of the world’s opinions off of me. Praise God! This is why I love my Maker, He loves me, and has rescued me from myself.

It is good to hide away with God in seclusion for a time, but we cannot remain there forever, God wants us to touch others who need to know God, and need to be shown what a life lived within God looks like.

Matthew 13:44-46 (MSG)  44 “God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field. 45-46 “Or, God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.

This life lived hidden, and the message of Jesus’s sacrifice and overwhelming love is TREASURE! It is worth everything! There is nothing that even compares to the love, joy and peace, found within God’s wings, within His love and protection.

I have not done this subject justice! It is a hard concept to explain. You know it when you live it, otherwise words do not express it clearly enough. There are no words in our vocabulary that explain it to the full extent. Everything in me hopes that these words that I have said cause you to take a chance and run to God for dear life, and learn to live a life hidden in God. You are His beloved. Go!!