In the Potter’s Hands

It sure has been awhile. The short story is that I wish I were more disciplined about writing for this blog, or even just posting updates, but things get going and this task sits at the bottom of the pile. Sadly, words do not come easily for me. Still, here is an update that I actually began writing back in April!

Louise and her chicks.

My how the farm has grown! Our oldest hen, Louise, successfully hatched and raised 12 chicks. Our sow, Mamma, had a litter late February. Additionally we have welcomed 3 geese, are raising a flock of turkeys for Thanksgiving, and have already processed our first batch of meat birds. Our younger sow, Wabbles, had her first litter in May, a beautiful batch of 11 piglets.

Wabbles and one of 11 piglets.

In sheep news, Helen surprised us with triplets three weeks before her due date in March. More recently, the rest of my ewes had their lambs, an additional 5, bringing the total sheep count to 14. This spring I said goodbye to my trusty herd sire, Rambo. He has gone to spend his last years as a herd sire in a Jacob sheep flock. We’ve kept two of the rams from our last batch of lambs as replacements, Rocky and Rhett Butler. In 2022 we are hoping to expand our meat offerings, stay tuned for more details on lamb.

I love being a farmer, but my first love is art. I don’t always have time to delve into what I would call “real” art projects, but I do try to do something with my hands as often as possible. Sometimes it is farm related, making soap, or jam, or gardening, sometimes it is house related, renovations of various types, or sewing for my ETSY shop. Every once in a while I get an opportunity to do something really arty. This spring was a little different for me, I no longer needed to travel and had a little bit more time on my hands. In classic Lisa fashion, and with the permission of my very patient husband, I found a way to fill it by taking a pottery class where I learned how to throw ceramics on the wheel.

I have always wanted to learn how to throw on the wheel, so this was a real gift. What I didn’t fully understand when I signed up for the class was that the class was taught by an accomplished clay artist and most of the students in the class were already at an intermediate/practicing artist stage. It was just me and one other woman who had never thrown on the wheel before. The whole experience was incredibly humbling.

As I sat in class week after week working as hard as I could to learn and master this new craft, I was continually reminded of the ways that I was a total novice. In the end, after way too many hours of practice, I did learn how to throw pottery on the wheel. Really the lessons for me were not in learning how to work with clay, though, but lessons in how I am the clay.

Isaiah 64:8

“Yet you, Lord, are the Father.

We are the clay, you are the potter,

we are all the work of your hand.”

Our teacher often talked about being the master of the clay- making it submit to your will. On days when every muscle hurt I was reminded of what this required. A great amount of pushing, pulling, stretching, and centering before the clay could even be shaped.

The Lord has been pushing, pulling, stretching, and centering me for my entire life, but how I have felt this so tangibly in these last 16 months! I wish I could say that this process is the final steps of creating in clay, but it is just the beginning. The clay must still be shaped, fired, glazed, and fired again. Yes, please hear that clearly. The clay must be fired twice: once at a low temperature, and then at a higher temperature. It is only after these steps that the vessel can be called “finished.”

If I counted these last months as the hard part, then I would not be prepared for what is to come. If I am looking to serve God well, I will expect that trials and tribulations are part of the process of making me whole. A refining process that will ultimately bring glory to Him.

And lastly, to leave you an illustration, I share this picture of what I call my “mistake vase.”

Mistake Vase

This vase does not look at all like I wanted it to. While I may have done all the prep work correct, while shaping it on the wheel my thumb accidentally bumped it and it became misshaped. As it sat turning on the wheel I thought about how I would need to start all over again. But the more I looked at it, the more I saw the beauty in the accidental shape. It wasn’t at all what I wanted, but it was beautiful nonetheless, and so I kept it as is.

I shared this story with my students this Spring, reminding them that there may be a lot of things about this past year that were not what we wanted. Things that did not turn out as expected. In this, though, there are still beautiful things to be found. Not in the ways it didn’t work out as we planned, but in the ways that God was working to make a better “vase” than what we had imagined.

As we head into what looks like days without restrictions and guidelines, let us remember the ways that God has refined us. How has God made the circumstances of this past year into something beautiful?

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