1 comment on “You Are The Potter, I Am The Clay”

You Are The Potter, I Am The Clay

 

It feels like it’s been forever since the last, last time I took an art class. It was Watercolor 101. I enjoyed almost every bit of it. I remember the last project I had. It greatly determined my overall grade. But with any other project, I was the last to finish. The result was a corner of the paper that looked like another person had finished it for me. I was so meticulous about every stroke that I never realized how much time had passed. The teacher however, was more than happy to grant me an “A” I felt I did not deserve. She gave me her business card and tried with sheer persuasion to prove to me that art was my calling, and she’d love it if I took another class with her the following semester. I received her card as soon as my words instantly closed the door of opportunity. I told her I was going to move to Las Vegas and take up nursing. She was so set on her words like an adamant mother to a child. But I was unyielding as well, and with my strong urge to please my parents, I sensed she knew they had a firm hold on me. I couldn’t let my mom down as she promised and bargained with me that her wage as a pharmacist in Sin City would take care of all my needs. I walked away believing what I had said and done pleased God. I had taken a pottery class prior to this and enjoyed it as well, only because my work was lazy and talking to friends was more interesting.

This year I did myself a favor by taking an art class again. I walked into a room of many students. Ceramics 212. I was told there was no more space. I discovered later on that a smaller class was much more suitable for me. The instructor said to come back in an hour, that I had better chances with a teacher by the name of Stark. I prayed about it and I’m glad she took me in. The first week was a flop. The teacher clearly told us she didn’t want to hear any self-deprecation, but sure enough I’d forget and critique my work the way my own father would if he were the instructor. Despite the discomforted and awkward looks I received, I kept rambling. To their surprise I finished my yapping with a mustard seed of faith. “But next week will be better.” The next four weeks, I had made friends with an ex-marine, a stripper, a horse breeder, an epileptic marijuana user, a very sweet nurse who looked like a China doll, a very quiet, curly-haired boy, a mother who called me “daughter”, a very talkative nursing assistant who vented all her problems to the class psychiatrist, and our very own instructor who intimidated me because of how nicely she treated me no matter how temperamental and deprecating I was. I learned many things I hadn’t when I first took up pottery.

By the second week, I had finally accustomed my ambidexterity and shifted over to the right side for good. I was no longer shifting left to right and right to left. I learned the art of centering my shapeless clay and patiently trusting the speed of motion beneath it. At times I would lose my patience and instead did what I knew best. I imagined this ball of mud as if it were a little boy who needed some straightening out. A picture of my little brother would instantly come to mind. And sooner than later this wedged piece of Nevada desert clay would now be more than willing to compromise. I steadied my breathing as I steadied my fingers, and often times I just couldn’t help but stop breathing altogether. I couldn’t keep to one station. Perhaps it was because I allowed superstition to creep into my mind, that I had better luck with certain wheels. I had judged these wheels on how well they could perform. This mindset began to work against me and I lost my peace on certain days. Some of my pieces were just not ones to show off. A friend threw a large pot just for me, so that later on I could trim it and call it my own. In my excitement, I unintentionally created one side to be thinner and weaker. The only thing to do next was punch it. Funny, no hole or tear was made, just my knuckles leaving an imprint. I never knew a trend would come out of it. It was passed around to be punched and autographed, and even our instructor joined in on the fun. We called it “The Class Punch Bowl”. Each day I worked with a different wheel and each day my pots told a different story. I couldn’t however, go beyond the basic shape of a cylinder. I feared that I would end up with a basic shape of failure. I was afraid to open up my vessels and to raise it up even taller than the size of a meager mug. It frustrated me so to find that four of my pieces were missing. There couldn’t have been any other explanation. Someone had stolen them. Everyday that I came to class was a battle in my mind, but I was determined grow.

Some days I would sit next to the pro of us all. Her name was Jacky and it was a pleasure to sit next to her because not only was she very talkative, and a great potter, she was more than willing to help me and teach me some techniques she learned in her ten years of experience. This was the same girl that would openly vent to our fellow classmate, the psychiatrist. Poor Scotty. She reminded me a lot of myself in the years before I gave my life to Christ. I felt her longing for something more out of this world. The third week came and I made some of the best pieces I had ever made. They were a set of three nesting bowls. The largest would be my most prized. With each wedged clay I centered, a centering of my heart, mind, soul, and body was to follow. Father’s Day was just around the corner and I made a deal with myself that if these pieces turned out exceptional, I wouldn’t keep them for myself, but that I’d present them to my dad. It was a wonderful idea because knowing that I was making them for someone else allowed for my hard work to be clearly seen, from the lip of each bowl down to the delicately, trimmed feet. I couldn’t have been any happier who these bowls were going to be given to. I anticipated the fourth week and learned how not to make it about myself or which wheel I would be using. However, I still maneuvered around for the joy of spending more time with another friend. Then the fifth week came along, but I sure didn’t anticipate it. I knew I would miss this class. We did however make the best out of it with a great potluck that could have well accommodated another class. We exchanged numbers amongst one another. This was no ordinary class. Every class of every week, we were like a family that would spend an entire day on the playground. We had a lot of fun and we had a lot to learn. We learned the basic instructions and lessons. We learned about each other and from each other. We learned things that could not be taught, such as patience and perseverance. As I became a prolific potter, I learned that my experiences in this class had a purpose behind it. God was the Potter and I was the clay. And so therefore, I enjoyed every bit of it.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

Christian  Health|Fitness  Portrait Art

 

Advertisements
2 comments on “Maker Of My Name (2013)”

Maker Of My Name (2013)

 

Years ago, I looked up the meaning of my name. The best I could find was ‘Sheila’ and it meant “blind”. It’s funny, I look at my life back then and in so many ways I was blind! 🙁 Thank God for new beginnings. This year I looked up my name again and to my surprise I found ‘Sheela’. The definitions are exactly what I am trying to work out in my life. “Modesty”. “Of good character”. “Conduct yourself well”. God really has a sense of humor. The last of the definitions stood out. It was as if I heard His voice in my head command it with so much conviction. I froze and said “Okay, I’m trying.” I hated my name so much. The spelling, everything. The two ‘ee’s were just too awkward for me. I was already awkward enough to deal with and I had to deal with two of this ugly vowel for the rest of my life! But, I never thought the day would come. I love my name. I embrace ‘Sheela’. Now I just have to live up to it.

So, it’s almost the end of Summer. I’m starting a new chapter in my life. I’ve never been so consistent about keeping a journal/diary because I was afraid of being embarrassed. This blogging thing is just amazing! I’ve missed out on so much. I feel like I’ve been living in the dungeon for the past 10 years. Every year my relationship with each family member gets better and better, and this year it’s like ice cream and brownies everyday, but I don’t get tired of it. Speaking of food, I eat meat now. I went back to my art and I’ve finally gained more confidence because I’m realizing my potential. It took so long to arrive here. My dad was never the most encouraging dad. When I became a Christian, it was clear to me that I had a lot of positive self-talk-ing to do. There’s something about this year. I’ve never felt such a feeling so strong, the freedom to express myself! Feeeels goooood! No more bottling them up. I’m done with that! The time has come to clear away the cobwebs and have a renewed mind. I’ve never been more comfortable and confident about myself. I could keep writing about it, but that would just be too self-centered of me. God did lots of chiseling at me and I grew to love those times. I’m just glad I’ve nothing to hide. Las Vegas has grown on me in the past year and I learned it doesn’t matter where I’m at. What matter is that I bring Christ with me everywhere I go. Isn’t GOD SOOOO GOOD? Every year Father, it’s as if I’ve grown another wing. And since You are so good to me, I want to take You more seriously. You know that freedom means a lot to me and every year You surprise me with at least one thing that’s new.

AND SO THIS YEAR, I WANT TO GIVE YOU A NEW ME. But only You can renew me. Every time I am ever so renewed by You, You put new desires in my heart. You’ve put a desire in me to use all that You gave me for Your Kingdom. I’ve suppressed a talent You have given me as if I was ashamed of it because I saw no money in it. Forgive me. I want to use my gifts now. You’ve put a desire in me to be a better communicator, another desire to take my health to the next level, and most of all, a strong desire to share Your goodness. Help me to integrate all these things so that I may be a success in Your eyes. I remember those six months on the mountaintop with You. I was a die-hard Christian and everything seemed so perfect. I don’t remember a day I wasn’t happy. I admit I have not surrendered every single day after that, but I’m glad for those good memories, because You always bring me to the point that I’ve got to step it up again. It’s not the beginning of the year, but I know each day matters to You nonetheless. Every year is different and every year is always better. Five years of being a born-again Christian has been tough, exciting, and eye-opening. If I never surrendered to You, those five years would have been much, much, much tougher, and I would most likely have overlooked the exciting and eye-opening experiences in my life. I would have continued taking life for granted. Those six great months are history. I thank You for giving me the strength not to dwell in them. But I remember I kept a little journal and almost everyday I would write a few notes. THOSE NOTES BROUGHT ME CLOSER TO YOU. I HAD A BETTER VIEW OF MY LIFE IN YOUR HANDS. I HAD A BETTER VIEW OF THE WORLD AROUND ME. SEEKING YOU EVERYDAY GUIDED MY WORDS, MY ACTIONS, MY DECISIONS. I AM NOT A PERFECT CHRISTIAN, BUT TIME AND TIME AGAIN YOU PROVE TO ME YOUR WAY, THE NARROW ROAD LEADS THE WAY TO EVERLASTING LIFE. I have felt the difference of confidence apart from You and whole-heartedly in You. I prefer Your confidence all the way. I’ve come to the conclusion, the end of me, that nothing is better than choosing You. I rededicate my life to You. Daily, I choose You because each day belongs to You. I want to make my tomorrows with You, You, You! I love my name! I love the mighty name of Jesus!!! Hahaha! 😀

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

Christian  Health|Fitness  Portrait Art

 

18 comments on “Forgive As You Have Been Forgiven (My Testimony – published on 2013)”

Forgive As You Have Been Forgiven (My Testimony – published on 2013)

5 years ago, I left my family. A year after moving out of Los Angeles, I just had enough of Las Vegas. It wasn’t because of the partying as I could hardly even leave the house. It wasn’t because of all the worldliness anyone could associate with living in such a city. I was trying to figure out this whole Christian thing. I was struggling because I had a father who just could not comprehend my desire for sharing the Lord with him. Not having many activities to do nor close relatives and friends to confide in made me hate the town even more. My asthma and insomnia got worse. I knew God was my only hope. Every chance I took to be a better daughter to him, he refused to see that I had God as my help. He insisted on believing my “I love yous” were insincere. He insisted on believing that I’d never change my stubborn ways. My attitude, “I couldn’t have learned any better than from the best” wasn’t helping either. But still, I could not understand him and he could not understand me. I didn’t feel whole. I was desperate for a godly father figure. It was clear to me that a better relationship with my dad would make me feel more whole. The more I drew myself closer to him, the more I sensed he did not want me around. I did not understand it and it hurt me deeply, so much more than the bruises he left on head, my arms, and legs. More often than not, I would be back in my room, watching myself cry in the mirror and telling myself, “It’s okay, I still love you.” That would always be the last thing I would tell myself after reasoning for my dad that it’s not his fault, that he had a much rougher upbringing, after arguing with myself for not being good enough, and after reasoning for myself that I was. I wanted a better relationship with my father and I knew that if I really wanted it, I would have to have an even better relationship with my bigger Father. However, Las Vegas didn’t allow for that.

My older sister who was in Oregon at the time for her last year of college weeped and begged me to leave the house, and go back to California. I would never have done it without her persistence over the phone. It was dawn when I quietly snuck out to a taxi cab. The driver had pity written all over his face, but was more relieved that he was able to drop me off to the Greyhound station. I didn’t have to pay a single dime. I was almost molested while trying to fall asleep on the bus. But on the brighter side, in a matter of a few hours, I knew I would be somewhere safe. An aunt took me in and some of my relatives rushed to my care. I lived with her and family for a couple of months. That was 2006 and the first time I left home. Two years later a second time would come around. It was the best decision I had ever made in my life. I slept from couch to couch, but finally settled in with a good friend after one month, and for the next six months, I was living every minute of every hour I was up and about for no one else but the Lord. I felt closer to God than ever before. I found myself a job as a sales associate in a retail clothing store. It was an hour worth of commuting on the bus, journaling and reading the Word of God. I was often put at the front of the shop, greeting customers. I was extremely happy doing the everyday tasks. It was a genuine happiness with nothing to hide. I was relieved to escape from an abusive home, but I was even happier knowing God was watching me and guiding me, and He couldn’t be happier knowing that my joy came from clinging onto Him.

I can’t ever forget. It was six straight months on the mountaintop with God and not a day went by that wasn’t significantly positive. I had a glow about me that people couldn’t understand, but that it made them want in for the ride. I made a couple of friends whom I shared God with. One was my manager who was inspired to start going to church again. Another was a stranger, who became a good friend, and believed with all his heart that I was his angel. He became a big brother to me. There were afternoons and nights I would take to the high school track and field near a friend’s house and I would run for three hours on end, crying because I had never felt a kind of love so high and profound at the same time. God’s love hit me big time and my simple act of joy inspired people everywhere I went. I admit I haven’t surrendered every day since those six months, but I’m glad for the experience because He shows me that I could basically have Heaven on Earth if I truly take Him seriously. My asthma went away but my insomnia remained. I didn’t complain, because the cause of my sleeplessness was a massive overflow of joy, peace, and love. I would talk all night to God, laugh, and smile.

To this day, I don’t know how I’m still alive not sleeping like normal people do. My mom says I have a lot of energy because the Spirit lives in me. I’ll take that. One year of sweet freedom (2009) and I returned home. Any woman in her mid-twenties would have stayed out of the house, but God wanted me to reconcile with my dad, and so I must do what I was told. Our relationship improved by a lot, although nothing was ever perfect. I’ve entertained suicide many times before, but this time it had no hold on me. God reminded me that things will eventually turn out fine if I keep seeking Him. The indescribable joy that would ooze out of me would just be a bonus.

When I left Las Vegas that second time, I promised myself never to forgive him. But the 15 years he had physically and verbally hurt me is nothing compared to all the sins God has pardoned me for. God was gentle with me and taught me how to forgive. I learned that when I forgive anyone even for the smallest wrongdoing against me, wether or not they had intentions of doing it, I was doing myself a favor by letting my heart free thereby creating a better future. The friends or deeper relationships that I would attain had much more worth than shutting myself from the rest of the world. The act of taking care of my heart showed that I cared about what He cared for. I took that and brought it to the next level by offering my heart to God everyday, and when I focus on surrendering to Him, He takes care of everything else. I am indifferent to gossip, judgment, and petty little things that would otherwise bother other people, because it doesn’t compare to the trauma that I dealt with then. When I completely gave my life to God in 2008, I knew that I would have a lot of positive self-talk to do to make up for the discouragement I received from my dad. I admit that many times I have made it about myself more than God, but if I didn’t have that struggle to pray about, I would be a lukewarm Christian today. God’s grace is so good. I didn’t have to beg for it. I just surrendered and instantly, I came to understand it. This is what I try to apply today, everyday. I would not be a strong person today if I never forgave my father. Now in the early mornings, I hear him sing out to God. My parents set aside time just for praying and studying the Bible not once but twice daily, and I join them when I can. In the past three years, I’ve become a daddy’s girl, and I literally feel like the most happiest and healthiest, innocent child any parent could want. He is making up for the first 8 years of my life he was not around…and well, for those 15 years too. I am so proud of him because for the first time in his life, he can pray so confidently and is now receiving that love he’s been looking for all his life. For 20 years my mom prayed for his salvation. The Lord is the greatest Father I know. 🙂

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

Christian  Health|Fitness  Portrait Art

0 comments on “I Love You. Good Morning.”

I Love You. Good Morning.

dawn

I am so glad to be in love with You my Lord. Let my heart be one with Yours and only allow it to show others what an example of true love looks like. You keep proving to me that Yours should have first place in my heart. Let not the world’s definition of love detract from the purpose of Your grace and let me love to please Your desire. I am grateful that You help me to understand Your grace. I asked You yesterday and You delivered, and today I ask you again. Let me love in accordance with Yours. Bring me to Your obedience Lord. Help me take everything I am and everything I have into captivity for your discipline. My mind, my heart, my life, which are not even my own to keep, belongs to You. It’s another day in Your court and it gladdens every bit of my soul as You take all of me.

Gooooooood mooooorning Father! Amen.

Psalm19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

Christian  Health|Fitness  Portrait Art

 

7 comments on “I Surrender”

I Surrender

2

I’ve wasted so many years my Lord. Half of me regrets, but the other says “Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve been selfish in thinking that I’ve gained nothing in this life. That in itself was a waste. I’ve been so full of myself when it was never about me.

But Your Grace is genius.

I can keep taking life for granted by not taking advantage of Your grace. Yet You give so much so freely. I would be so proud not to accept or believe it. It is only by Your grace that I can say “I’m sorry, please forgive me.”  It’s another day, I’m alive and well, and You open my eyes yet again to see Your great works around me…to see my prayers answered. No matter how much I say “Thank You”, I feel it’s not enough. How do I thank you enough?

It’s not my beautiful and eloquent words I speak that matters. You love me so much to remind me to keep following You. To show You my thanks, I must surrender.

And so Lord, for the three hundred and seventy-eight thousandth time, I surrender.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

Christian  Health|Nutrition  Portrait Art

 

0 comments on “Matthew 22: 37-39”

Matthew 22: 37-39

heart-fire.jpg

This is the beginning of my transparency.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’’’

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

Christian  Health|Fitness  Portrait Art