broken but not crushed

Helping each other live successfully and abundantly in the face of brokenness.

Location: Columbus, Central Ohio, United States

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tool Time

I am so happy – the heat wave broke with yesterday’s rain and today I was able to get into my shop and spend some serious time with my tools. What a GREAT day!

Today I made a board. Not just any board, mind you, it is the first board of a new project that might turn into a Christmas present, but don’t tell my family members cause that might give away the surprise.

This board was kind of an accident. It is actually made of two different boards, just small pieces of wood used as packing materials. They were rough hewn, really thin, odd sized and definitely not square. The grain was obviously running in every which direction and looked for all the world like scrap wood, ready for the trash bin - except that I am a Master Cabinetmaker by trade. I looked deeper than the surface and saw what the untrained eye couldn’t.

So I took these two little odd sized boards to my workshop and began dealing with all the imperfections. I won’t bore you with the details, but after quite a long time and the application of skill and some talent, I now have one board. It is not yet cut to size and it has no finish on it, so its final beauty might still be lost on some. But let me tell you, even to the untrained eye it is now magnificent.

You see, I have in my possession a nearly perfectly book-matched piece of tiger birds eye maple – yes, BOTH tiger AND birds eye in one little board. This small piece of glorious, wonderful wood would have been thrown away as useless refuse had it not been for the eye and skill of a Master Cabinetmaker.

You must already know what I’m going to say next. You see, life has a way, sometimes, of leaving us feeling like we are ready for the trash heap. We feel small and helpless, out of shape, rough to the touch, and just plain ugly. And to make matters worse, it seems like we are headed in every direction at once and, as a result, we just go in circles and never get anywhere.

But there is a Master Designer that sees beyond what everyone else sees. Sure, it might take some cutting and matching, some planning and sanding and some abrasive hand work – and I can guarantee it won’t likely be comfortable or sweet. But, you are in the hands of the Master, and the Master sees even more than you can see. If you are willing to go through the necessary shaping process, you will eventually turn out as the Master intends.

And let me share more good news – even before you get to the final reward awaiting all who love the Master Designer, even to the casual observer you will be magnificent! It will be impossible to deny that you have been with the Master because just one look will reveal the handiwork of God displayed in the life of one of his broken kids who, quite honestly, doesn’t look so “broken” anymore. Anyone who casually saw my little pieces of scrap wood will hardly believe the beauty and splendor of the finished product, and the same goes for you. Hang in there, fellow traveler. We are being worked on in the workshop of the Master Designer, and when we’re done we are gonna SHINE!

Glad to be back in the shop – and God’s shop, too.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Be cool!

IT”S HOT !!!

Heat index readings above 100, temperatures in the 90’s, humidity levels nearing tropical – folks, it’s HOT !!!

And I confess, that when the weather gets this blazing there is a temptation to get disagreeable. Aw, come on, confession is good for the soul. When we are uncomfortable physically we can allow that discomfort to weave its way through our minds and spirits until we are unpleasant to be around. In weather like this I’ve seen people get impatient with the checker at Walmart or Krogers and tend to fuss about every little inconvenience. Even worse, we sometimes get surly and short and gruff with those we love.

Let me put your mind at ease – these feelings are perfectly natural when the weather is nearly unbearable. That’s not to say that we need give in to them, but they are very normal. Rather, I would encourage you to figure out a way to be pleasant and agreeable. Yea, I know, that’s easier said than done, but we do need to try!

Life is not going to always be to our liking. To those of us who are broken it doesn’t take a thunderstorm or heat wave for us to be uncomfortable or in pain. And that pain can cause us to be disagreeable if we allow it. As I’ve said in previous blogs, pain tends to steal our ability to be rational. We must fight our own tendencies with every fiber in us. Sometimes we win. Sometimes the pain wins. But every morning is a new chance to make the right decisions.

And that’s the point, isn’t it. It is a choice – it ALWAYS a choice. Sure, we may have a little more to deal with than others, and the whole thing might seem to be horribly unfair, but I don’t think our heavenly Father ever gives us more than we can bear or fight through. I’ve said sometimes that I think God has a higher opinion of me than I do, but He’s God and I’m not, so I just have to trust that He knows what he’s doing. It’s a choice to trust - and then to be nice, friendly, pleasant, or cheerful.

So hang in there my friends. Be positive on purpose. Look for a cool spot – even if it’s only in your mind – and do your best to be the kind of person that lifts the spirits of those
around you. Don’t let disagreeable circumstances make you disagreeable, but rise above the circumstances until you are an example worthy of following. You know, I think it’s pretty cool to be the person who makes life better for those around you instead of being as unbearable as the weather.

So, stay cool, fellow travelers.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I sat down at my computer this morning to write something profound and inspiring – and nothing even resembling inspirational or even in the same zip code as ‘Profound’ came to mind. A frown appeared on my face and a wrinkle ceased my forehead. What to do, what to do?

And then I looked up. Oh, no, not a big “UP TO THE SKY”, peering into the heavens waiting for some kind of Divine intervention to shatter the writer’s block and fill me with words of wisdom and thought’s of grandeur.

No, just up about four inches. For there, just above my computer screen, one of my precious daughters sneaked in and placed a picture of my two granddaughters – Rory and Esther - with huge, magnificent smiles. A practically perfect picture, in my humble estimation. To put this simply, it is a picture of pure joy. Raw and simple, no poses or posturing or “get my good side” – just absolute unmitigated JOY!

And as I sat here just looking, I realized there was a smile on my face, too. In the middle of my writer’s frustration, on this super hot and muggy day where the heat index is over 100 and the fans are running at breakneck speeds, on a day when a frown would be easy and a furrowed brow might be considered “normal” or acceptable, these two little girls changed my office into a place of complete, fulfilling, overwhelming JOY!

(Just think, if a picture can do that what do you imagine it’s like when they come and visit their ol’ Papa!?!?)

Let me be brief: If you haven’t smiled today you need to give it a try right now. And if you haven’t given one away in a while, you need to be the bearer of GOOD NEWS and share one today. A smile is one of the few things that grows as you give it away. Do it in person. Do it one the phone. Do it in an email or do it in an old fashioned card or note. Just make someone’s day with a great big smile – who knows, you might just make your OWN day as well.

Someday I’m going to figure out how to post a picture to this blog, but for the time being you can see pictures of my little girls at Kristen’s blog at or at Karin’s blog at

Blessings my friends – and go ahead – SMILE!!!