The Art of Learning

I recently spent time with several ceramic artists who generously shared information about their craft. While the terminology and techniques will have to be revisited for me to grasp, other comments were immediately applicable to life beyond pottery.

DSCN1960. spotlight and frame jpgOn Early Learning. 

The affable man on the right was starting a new piece on his wheel when he stated, almost apologetically, “I’m new to this.”

Though I suspect he’s more experienced than he gave himself credit, I can relate to the insecurities that accompany early learning. It’s not easy being the relative rookie when surrounded by veterans. It takes courage to attempt something new when everyone around you is already accomplished. Especially with an audience.

But don’t we all begin with the basics? Isn’t it the nature of learning to start in kindergarten, so to speak, and advance by steps to graduation day and beyond? Advanced skills and creative results happen only with practice over time.

The beginning stage is a precarious one, when mastery seems so far away. It’s tough to hang in there when success is an unknown. Early on, there have yet to be satisfying results to boost self-confidence and fuel motivation. It’s in the kindergarten stage of a new endeavor that many give up.

Those who quit will never know what might have been.

Those who summon whatever confidence they can muster, who keep expectations realistic and don’t quit, keep potential alive.

DSCN1964 cropped for blogIf we quit — possibilities die.

If we stay, learn, and practice — exciting accomplishments are feasible.

 

 

 

 

On Lifelong Learning.

DSCN1961.cropped and framed for blog jpgThis experienced artist had some encouraging words for the novice potter, “It took me about five years to feel competent.”

“When did you feel like you’d mastered it?” I asked.

“Never. I’ll be learning this my whole life.”

With an attitude like that, I can only imagine what outstanding pieces he will produce over his lifetime. I envision his artwork reflecting his evolving skills and life experiences. Expecting to learn is evidence of a mind open to influence. The sky is the limit for people like him.

If we approach life with similar attitudes, expectant that learning is a process, mastery is sequential, and development is ongoing , we foster our own growth. If we don’t settle for merely adequate, and instead view results as foundations to improve upon, ours will be lifelong journeys of advancement. With a tweak of a mindset, we can change “Eh, good enough” to lifelong quests of ever-improving skills, abilities, talents, relationships, and works of our hands; and of ever-increasing wisdom and knowledge.


 

The pictured ceramic artists graciously gave permission to include their images on my blog. Many thanks, guys!

Taming God

cindigale:

The topic of church disillusionment and exodus seems to be everywhere this week. I decided to repost an article I wrote on the topic.

Originally posted on Cindi Gale:

Throughout history men and women have tried to tame God. I liken it to damming a river to control the normal flow of the water. What’s possible with rivers is also possible in religion. A group of people can claim that a portion of the river is theirs. They construct dams to control the living water, pave a parking lot, pop up a building, and hoist a sign with a catchy company name. Let’s call ours Choppy River Church. The river is real, but already altered by the dam. Domesticated. Cultivated. Tamed.

ocoee2-4[1]Choppy River Church advertises, “Come whitewater rafting on God’s true river of life!” When you arrive, you’re handed a life jacket with the company logo, then shuffled to the formal boarding area where you step into a raft emblazoned with the brand name. Reps from the company man the rafts and guard the shorelines. If your raft catches…

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Supply and Demand

Lou Lourdeau's pottery pics, wine blog, final pic

Many thanks to photographer, Lou Lourdeau, for providing the “water jars” photos. I asked and he kindly supplied.


God is a supplier whose provisions are limitless. His divine storehouses overflow infinitely. We open the flow to all that supply by our demand. He wants us to ask of him. He wants us to expect of him. Why? Because he’s unimaginably generous. He wants to give.

In the “water to wine” story*, when the wine was depleted at a wedding, Jesus’s mother asked him for a miracle. She expected one. Then she acknowledged Jesus’s authority. “Do whatever he tells you.”

Initially, Jesus said, “Why come to me?” His public miracles weren’t supposed to happen yet. “My hour has not yet come.”

We see it wasn’t Jesus who initiated the miracle that day, it was Mary. But when asked, he acted.

I’ve noticed in my own life that I’m motivated by the needs of my circumstances. I’ll happily drop everything to drive to one of my sons in need. I often go from zero to sixty, from no writing inspiration to highly motivated, simply because viewers logged on. I even move into action for a lawn in need of mowing.

Need compels provision.

God is like that. He responds to our requests. If we demand nothing from him, expect nothing from him, need nothing from him, ask nothing from him — nothing is exactly what we get.

There are valuable lessons in Mary’s example: Approach God for the solution. Ask of him. Expect him to meet our needs. Accept his will and his timing. And be prepared that he may respond and give beyond what we ask or think.

Ephesians 3:20 (Amplified Bible) 20 Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—


Lou Lourdeau's pics, vessel for wine, blog

*John 2: 1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing,each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

 

 

 

Earthen Vessels

DSCN1963 cropped, not framed

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7


The following post was written by Eugene May, August 12, 2014:

Reading the Word of God leads me into places that amaze me and cause me to rejoice in the wisdom of God. His wisdom is far more potent than anything man could say. An example of this is found in the fourth chapter of Second Corinthians: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the POWER may be of God and not of us.”

Who among us would have thought to put the “POWER OF GOD” in earthen or human vessels and say, “Now do the work of God?” It is not logical to place the greatest power of the universe in human flesh. I know, looking at myself, that I have areas in my life that are weak. But God, in His infinite wisdom, placed His power in me and said, “Do my work.”

This power that I am writing about is not “MY POWER.” No, it is the “POWER OF GOD,” the “POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.” We must realize that there is nothing inferior about that “POWER.” But, when people look at the weakness of man, you and me, and see the “POWER OF GOD” being manifested, they will have to give God the “GLORY.”

Child of God, in your “NATURAL” state of being, you can’t do the work of God. It is impossible. But, you are not just living in the “NATURAL,” you are living in the “SPIRITUAL.” Living in the “SPIRITUAL” means that there are no limits to what God can do through you. Therefore, live in the “SPIRIT” and God will receive the “GLORY.”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12


Shared with the permission of Eugene May. He is a trusted, tireless, and gifted international minister. May has an informative website (http://eugenemay.org/), and posts daily biblical teachings on Facebook in Spanish, French, and English. (https://www.facebook.com/eltonemay)

 

 

 

You, the Readers

porch rockers, best for blog

I don’t know how you, the readers, find me. I’m a terrible example of how to promote a blog site. The first half of its six month existence, I didn’t even have my domain name. That should have been certain online invisibility.

Beyond that, I confess to great discomfort with marketing. I tried the recommended promotion strategies for all of a minute, and found them excruciating. They’re so at odds with my nature, it felt like selling my soul. I gave up and simply don’t do them. So you see, this site’s prognosis should have been terminal obscurity.

Nevertheless, somehow you landed here. And you’re not alone. To date, you are among readers representing 41 countries, from every continent except Antarctica. The newest viewers are from Pakistan, who popped in today and checked out several recent posts.

I was with a group of writers yesterday, and was asked how often I post a new blog. My answer: “It depends on the readers. Like when I see ‘Brazil’ stopped by, and I haven’t posted anything since the last person from Brazil was on. Then I dive in and write for them, because “Brazil” should have something new!”

Truly, you, the readers, keep me motivated. I may never learn who you are, since only your country location is revealed to me, but who knows … maybe someday we will meet. In the meantime, be assured that you are appreciated and always welcome here.

Numbers 6:24-26 “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

 

Spread the Love, End the Stigma

cindigale:

In light of the death of the beloved Robin Williams less than twenty-four hours ago, and an upcoming event to honor the late Adam Smith, an admired friend of my sons, I am reposting this blog. It was written by Nicky Gant. Beyond the valuable facts she compiled, are tools for helping those who suffer from mental illness. Above all, Nicky’s article leaves us with hope.

Originally posted on Cindi Gale:

Nicky Gant is a fellow writer, blogger, and friend. She recently published this article on mental health awareness and suicide prevention for the QC Mom’s Blog. Thank you, Nicky, for allowing me to share this thorough, helpful, and compassionate resource.

http://www.quadcitymomsblog.com/2014/05/14/bubbles-of-hope/


hopegreen3

Like many moms of small children, I tend to live in a bubble. I’m usually running between little league, the YMCA and preschool – everywhere I look, I see happy little people with promising futures.

But the truth is, my bubble burst a long time ago.

If it hadn’t, perhaps my heart wouldn’t have hurt quite so bad when I learned about the string of local teen suicides, which experts have described as an epidemic in Scott County. Perhaps it would have seemed like a distant problem, something that can only happen to other families.

Though thankfully, my loved one who attempted suicide as a teenager survived, he resisted treatment for his mental illness and went on to live out the devastating…

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