Redefining Perfect

Blog_ForestPathI watched one day as a man planted trees on an empty lot. With great precision, he lined the trees in perfect rows. If his pattern fell off, he would re-fill and re-dig to get it just right.

Later, I walked through a park where it seemed the trees had been there from the beginning of time. The path wound with bends and turns, veering here and there, never once forming a straight line.

Instead, it followed the pattern of the trees.

So often we expect our lives to fall in perfect line. Like the man planting trees, we define perfection by precision—a strict, military regimen without hindrance or obstacle. But when I observe creation, I wonder if perfection has an altogether different definition.

Consider the trees. There is beauty and order in each, and yet…in a natural setting they are not lined in perfect rows. Their branches are bent and twisted, growing every which way, yet still forming something…beautiful. It’s the same with rivers and mountains, flowers and hills. Even the shoreline of an ocean changes daily with the tide.

Our lives weren’t meant to be formed on an assembly line. There will be bends and turns, times when everything seems opposite of order. Yet from a higher perspective, our Creator observes and declares, “It is good.” He is the ultimate artist, and his definition of perfect trumps our own, every time.


Photo Credit: Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Revisit) (5) | Flickr …

13 Reasons to Live: Repurposed

Blog_Repurposed01My cousin has an amazing gift. She’s an artist who takes things the average person would view as worthless and turns it into something beautiful. When she talks about purchasing old furniture, scraps, and other “junk,” she gets excited. Her mind is filled with ideas of how she can repurpose these items, making them valuable again.

In her skillful hands, an old window frame becomes a unique display for cherished family photos. Pieces of scrap metal become eye-catching wall decor. She recently turned an old, broken-down piano into a desk and the spare parts into works of art.

Her work reminds me of another artist I know. This masterpiece-maker formed the galaxies and all the wonders of earth in their beauty and intricacy, and yet his greatest endeavor involves repurposing broken-down lives.Blog_Repurposed

The Bible is filled with stories of people whose lives were messed up beyond repair, yet God intervened, taking their ashes and turning them into something beautiful. Sara was barren, yet she became a great matriarch. Ruth was a widow who became ancestor to the greatest of kings. Esther was an orphan turned queen who saved a nation from destruction. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute who became a humble, respected servant.

As I’ve served God through the years, I’ve seen drug addicts healed, now changing their communities for good. I’ve seen gang members become warriors for peace instead of evil. Marriages on the brink of divorce, restored. Fatherless children adopted into loving families. People in the throes of depression and despair, filled with hope. All in the hands of a loving God.

Nothing is useless, and nothing is wasted. In the hands of a master craftsman, even what most would view as junk can be turned into a priceless treasure. A skilled artist can transform the most useless items into something of matchless worth. And that’s what our loving God is able to do with the most hopeless pieces of our lives.

Knowing this is true, we have more than enough reason to live.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1,3)

Photo Credits: Aisle 6 by Tracy Linson Neutzmann

The Artist

it was a worthless
piece of wood
thrown carelessly
in a pile of rubble
and destined for the fire

none would consider
that it could become
anything of value
but he
saw something different

carefully taking
the splintered wood
in his rugged hands
he set
to work his design

skillfully chiseling away
the rugged edges
and forging carved beauty
in the remains
the work of art began to take form

it was a labor of love
and he did not rest
until he was finished
and after relentless, meticulous toil
it was finally complete

he raised his masterpiece
toward heaven
tenderly admiring
the work of his hands
and whispered, “it is good”
breathing life upon his new creation

he is more than a carpenter

he is an artist
and a creator
transforming what is ordinary and useless
in the sight of the world
into something of infinite value


poetry by j.e. fernandez

Photo Credit: Carpentry Workshop | IQRemix | Flickr

Behind the Veil


we see a dim reflection
this side of eternity
the knotted imperfection
of an unfinished tapestry

creation’s artist sees a masterpiece
wisdom weaving its design
everything made beautiful
in its perfect time


poetry by j.e. fernandez

Photo Credit: weaving hands | on a loom in the iron age | Hans Splinter | Flickr

My Life, Edited

Blog_WritersBlockWouldn’t it be nice if we could always get it right on the first try? No drafts, no re-writes, no edits or overhauls. I’m talking about writing. And I’m talking about life.

Once upon a time, I believed the first draft was the best draft because it came closest to writing from the heart. Not to mention that I hated the editing process. Ugh. Talk about tedious. I believed nothing could be further from the creative process than drowning a manuscript in red ink and transforming it into something unrecognizable when compared to the original.

How I’ve changed.

Since I first started working on my novel, I’ve become a ruthless self-editor—murdering more sentences than an old west gunslinger. I’ve learned the best work takes time and revision, much like a sculptor works and re-works, chisels and refines until the unformed slab of clay becomes a thing of beauty. Art is a process, making progress in small yet significant ways until the greater masterpiece emerges.

Yes, this is about life, too. Because no life is perfect without some editing. Every day, I have to edit out impatience, selfishness, ingratitude, complacency…and more than that old gunslinger could handle in a lifetime of gun slinging. If I’m to live my best life—a life that blesses and benefits others, I’m gonna need a lot of editing.

The good news is that the God who created all the beauty that we see is the author of life. He sees and knows everything, loving us as we are yet caring enough to bring about the change we so desperately need. That our lives can be edited is beyond good news.

Lord, cover my life in red ink! Delete all my inconsistencies and any hypocrisy. Edit out all that’s unworthy of my life story, until only love remains.