Finding the Beauty Within

I was overwhelmed with how many commented on last week’s post (Even Ugly Has a Purpose) about how God can use ugly; moving me to write this follow-up. As much as I enjoy being a rancher, a long-time hobby is woodturning. I have done little of it since moving to Texas and starting the ranch, but the wood and tools call to me from time-to-time.

I knew the message I wanted you to take-away from last week’s post was God has a beautiful purpose for all of us. No matter how ugly we may sometimes seem. His redeeming grace, mercy, and love sees beyond what we are. God sees us as He intends us to be. Boy, did that message resonate with many of you. Your comments confirmed what I think we all feel to varying degrees. God’s transformational work in our lives brings out the beauty in each of us.

In the photo above is a piece of a Bois D’arc tree I salvaged when a neighbor was clearing trees. As wood cures, some cracks or splits, called “checking” can appear. While I can avoid some, a good woodworker learns to expect it and how to work around it. On the right is a beautiful turned bowl made by a fellow woodturner in Georgia, Mike “Doc” Davis. This photograph is the perfect way to illustrate what Paul meant when he penned Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV), “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

With its natural edge, clean lines, and satin finish, the bowl shows us how a rough, hard piece of wood that spent its lifetime producing ugly fruit can become beautiful and useful with the right touch. I see this as an example of what God can do with each of us.

What beauty lives inside of you; awaiting God’s masterful touch to bring it out? Click To Tweet

Saved from being tossed on the burn pile and destroyed, what might the piece of salvaged wood pictured above become? I’m not sure yet. Perhaps a set of salad bowls for our home, a set of salt and pepper shakers, and a bottle stopper or six. And for the small pieces left over? Just like in God’s kingdom, nothing will be wasted. Pens or even a segmented bowl is possible.

One thing that draws me to woodturning is how we start with a piece of wood and a general idea, but let the wood guide us as we work to transform it. Until I am finished, the real beauty of a piece patiently waits to be revealed. I pray you too wait to see all the beauty God plans to reveal in, and with, your life.

Special thanks to “Doc” Davis (https://www.docswoodturning.com/) for allowing me to feature some of his amazing craftsmanship using Bois D’arc / Osage Orange wood. Photos used with permission.

God’s blessings,

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44 thoughts on “Finding the Beauty Within

  1. Good morning J.D. what encouragement to begin my day! I need to remember my boys are in the Master’s hands, and their future will be beautiful in spite of any ugliness that rears its head. Today we celebrate our oldest son’s 15th birthday. Thank you again and may God bless the work of your wood-turning hands, brother.

    1. How in the world can your “baby” be 15 already Ms. Julie? 🙂 Indeed, we can all be in the Master’s hands and allow Him to shape our lives as He sees fit; as long as we give ourselves to Him. I trust that you boys have. I also know that God has great plans for their lives, and He’s willing to wait to help them find their path. As parents, we are entrusted with a sacred duty I think to pour into them all we can that will guide them later in life. We must also stand on our faith that God works all things for good. Sometimes, it just seems to take a while. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

  2. J.D. I brought home a beautiful hand turned salad bowl last fall when I visited Boston. Such beauty. I love your statement, “the real beauty of a piece patiently waits to be revealed.” I thought of John’s words, we don’t know what we’ll be like, but we will be like Him!

  3. How very true, J.D. Great illustration.
    Just a few days ago I bought a lovely bowl crafted from a Pecan Tree destroyed by a storm on the man’s property.
    It’s amazing what God can do with a broken, bruised, twisted person who yields him/herself to His hands.
    (Living in a log home, I understand wood checking.)

    1. Oh My… Pecan wood is beautiful ma’am. We have a large pecan salad bowl and absolutely love it! It sure is amazing to look at how God can take a messed up ragamuffin like me and transform me into one of His children. I pray each day to somehow prove my worthiness to be counted among the faithful. I bet you do know all about checking, and chinking too. 🙂 And cabinets that side up and down on the walls. Oh my! 🙂

  4. As you know, my husband and I are living through the “ugly” right now with his leukemia diagnosis. I would never ask to go through the last seven months again, but God has certainly worked with and around our cracks and the ugly as he continues to create his masterpiece. We are still works in progress but so blessed that he loves us enough to not give up on us and leave us “ugly.” We are praising him for the new understanding of and deeper relationship we have with Him as he walks with us through this journey. With grateful hearts we praise him for answering prayers and for sending an army of prayer warriors to love us through the valley, you and Diane being among them.

    1. Ms. Karen; you and your dear husband are weathering a storm of unimaginable fury right now. I wish I could tell you the next chapter my friend, but I can’t. I do want to remind you that you both know how this story ends. Please know Diane and I pray for all y’all each day. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  5. J.D., what a perfect verse with beautiful words and photos to illustrate a truth that’s easy to forget. This is my favorite part: “His redeeming grace, mercy, and love sees beyond what we are. God sees us as He intends us to be.” Thank you for sharing this post.

    1. Awww… Thank you Ms. Jeannie. Such kindness and encouragement ma’am. Isn’t it comforting to know He sees us as already glorified. How wonderful to know He loves me every bit as much this moment as He will for eternity.

  6. Such a powerful post and follow-up to last week, J.D. Love the woodturning analogy and pictures! Amazing! I’m so thankful to be God’s workmanship. My dysfunctional childhood and story is proof He takes damaged goods and redeems them into beautiful pieces of art. He continues to craft me into a masterpiece by the Master Artist!

  7. This reminds me of times I look in the mirror and think, “Oh, I look awful today.” Then, I am reminded I am a child of God and that makes me beautiful. Even during chemotherapy and radiation 14 years ago, when I lost my hair, gained weight and looked exhausted all the time, I was still beautiful to God. 🙂 My hair has never fully grown back and at first I was worried about that. My loving husband tells me everyday, “You are beautiful.” 🙂

    1. Forgive me I’m forward ma’am, as I’ve never met you in person, but I am wont to agree with your dear husband. True beauty comes from the inside ma’am; and you received a double dose.

  8. Another post with a winning message. God refines and redeems the ugliest of situations and circumstances when we yield to His workmanship in them. I think it was Michelangelo who said we might see a slab of marble but he saw the potential in it- and it became a magnificent sculpture. So it is what God wants us to become. Thanks again!

  9. I just visited the website and saw more of Doc’s lovely craftsmanship! The same thing that happens with your woodwork often happens with my art – I can start with a general idea, but it might end up being different than what I imagined. I hope to glorify God with whatever I create.

    1. Thank you Ms. Robin. I pray my friend “Doc” gets many visitors as a result. He was very kind to allow me to share his work. He is certainly a craftsman. In your right, you are also ma’am. I can’t wait to receive the new artwork from you to adorn my home. God’s blessings young lady.

  10. I love treasuring this thought, J.D.: “God’s transformational work in our lives brings out the beauty in each of us.” I’m glad God sees our beauty within and our possibilities and transforms us until that beauty shines for others to see, in ways that glorify Him!

  11. I’m great in seeing God’s beauty around me in nature, even in the desert, gnarly trees, and the very wrinkled and weathered face of an elderly person. Seeing God’s beauty and workmanship in me unfortunately fluctuates, sometimes to the extremes. I believe it stems from my childhood. Even at 66 yrs of age. Yet, I know God has used my circumstances to make me the person I am. It resulted in me becoming a nurse and able to see the inner pain and trauma of those I encounter. My nursing career was my ministry. Now at 66 I’m discovering who I am without it. I’m a writing nubie and learning the craft. I have a novel nearly finished. I hope God will bless my writing like he did my nursing. Thanks for sharing. Inspiring.

    1. The same ministry you served in your nursing career still applies Ms. Cherie. Instead of patients you pour your godly love and kindness into, it’s your friends ma’am. I pray I am worthy to be counted among them ma’am. I for one am looking forward to reading your first novel.

  12. J. D. I like how you said, “Until I am finished, the real beauty of a piece patiently waits to be revealed.” What hope that is for us. As John wrote in NT, we don’t know all that we will be, but we know we will be like Him!

  13. This was a perfect follow-up to your last post. Thank you for sharing this beautiful art with us. Years ago someone made a clock for me from a slice of a cypress knee. It’s amazing what patterns shine through in the grain of an old chunk of wood. The Carpenter does sand and polish us – some of us for decades. I’m grateful for the transforming work of the Spirit in my life and in my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

    1. Amen Ms. Dottie. I love how He makes us all shine if we’ll let Him. I consider my life to be like a spalted piece of wood. Spalted wood shows where fungus or disease penetrated the wood, much like sin does in our human lives. When the fungus or disease is killed (heat, no moisture, etc.) the visible marks of its having been there remains. However, what is left is the most beautiful, natural design you can imagine. God has allows my life, once diseased by sin, to be cleansed, but the marks left behind (my testimony to His greatness) is what makes me beautiful in His kingdom. God’s blessings ma’am.

  14. I was struck from the get-go with your terminology of “woodturning.” I’ve never heard that term before but it is a perfect description. And such a perfect follow-up post, my friend. Love it! You have acquired quite the following with your wisdom and powerful spiritual insights.

    1. Oh my… thank you Ms. Karen; what a sweet encouragement to read first thing in the morning ma’am. I thank God each day for all my reading and writing friends, and for all the wonderful and godly people who encourage me to continue on the path God has set me on. The blessings pour in when I read the comments from everyone on my posts. Am very pleased you enjoyed my insights; simple as they are ma’am.

  15. How beautiful these pieces are and, no, we can’t imagine the finished product as we look at the rough cut log. I know that I was a rough cut during portions of my life and God is cutting, shaving, detailing, and polishing me every day. There’s no question I’m more beautiful by His grace.
    Please, God, let me treat others with the same patience and grace. Let me recognize that under a rough piece of ‘scrap’ lies beauty I can’t fathom.

    1. Amen my sweet friend. May I join you in this prayer? Isn’t so much easier to show grace to others when we filter our thoughts through the lens of all God has done for us? If He can give that much grace and mercy to me, can I dare to offer less to others? God’s blessings ma’am.

  16. Love this, “God’s transformational work in our lives brings out the beauty in each of us.” I look forward to seeing what you create from the Bois D’arc tree. I’m sure it will be lovely!

    1. It surely does Ms. LuAnn. Perhaps I can send you and Mr. Kenn something made from Bois D’Arc over the winter months. Thank you so much for always reading and sharing ma’am. God’s blessings.

  17. I’ve always loved word work – probably because my ancestor were sawmillers.

    The process of woodturning which you describe is exactly how I feel sometimes about writing!

    1. Well how about that Ms. Candyce. Small world indeed ma’am. I too find a lot of similarities. Often, my writing takes a different direction then I may have planned. That’s a benefit of letting God do the driving my friend. Am so glad you allow your writing to move where He guides you also. I’m always amazed and how gently He guides us. 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting ma’am.

    1. OMGoodness Pastor Stephanie. What a wonderful blessing your words are this morning. Our true beauty, which is often displayed in the words we write that bring God the glory He richly deserves, does indeed take time. Being patient in our writing or any endeavor is like preparing a meal. We have to wait until all the ingredients come together (often with heat applied) until it’s ready to enjoy! Our words are often like this also. I know my life is. God’s blessings ma’am.

  18. I’m so sorry to comment late, but I’m so glad I took the time to read your follow-up.
    I was especially touched by your last paragraph:
    “we start with a piece of wood and a general idea, but let the wood guide us as we work to transform it. Until I am finished, the real beauty of a piece patiently waits to be revealed.”
    God works with our individual gifts and flaws, transforming us into a beautiful creation!

    1. Ms. Beckie; your comments are never late and always a welcome addition ma’am. Thank you so much for making the time to read my post. I understand we all have limited bandwidth, and the fact that so many wonderful friends take the time to read and comment on our posts is quite the blessing. I am always humbled by each of them. I can’t speak for other authors, but when a comment is received, especially ones as encouraging as yours, I am blessed by knowing my words, with God’s help and guidance, has made an impact for His kingdom by touching a life with goodness and grace. Thank you ma’am; and God’s blessings.

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