Rock Solid Stability  | December 11th, 2017

The holiday season is always a great excuse for me and my husband, Michael to get away on the road for a nice break from our busy, routine schedules. We often choose the Hill Country in Texas as our destination with its quaint towns, unique wineries with breathtaking views, and of course, antique shops galore! During one of these road trips, we stopped off in Blanco and meandered into their Main Street antique shop.

It was inside one of their glass cases that I noticed a very tarnished silver metal and turquoise pin. The turquoise looked authentic, so my first thought was that underneath the tarnish, it must be sterling silver. The shop owner informed me it was definitely a vintage piece, but she was not sure of the type of metal used in the pin.

I flipped it over to look at the price and to my surprise, it was only nine dollars! Now, I have never in my life bought a real turquoise pin for a price that low. I figured I might have an incredible treasure if the metal turned out to be sterling silver, so I happily paid my nine dollars and polished it up as soon as we got home. As I was vigorously rubbing the back of the pin with silver polish, I began to see the etching of the numbers: 925. That is the symbol for sterling silver! I was elated!

I did a little research about the design and discovered it was a Zuni petit point turquoise piece from the 1970s. It was designed by one of the many Native American Indian tribes who developed their own style using turquoise in their designs. This was definitely an incredible treasure!

December’s Birthstone, Turquoise

Turquoise is the traditional birthstone for December. The name turquoise is derived from the French, pierre turquoise, meaning “Turkish stone.” It got its name due to the trade routes that brought turquoise to Europe. It came from the mines in central Asia and then went through Turkey. Venetian merchants often purchased turquoise at Turkish bazaars.

Turquoise is an opaque mineral that is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum. It is found in stunning hues of blue, bluish-green, green, and yellowish-green. Blue minerals are quite rare in general, so turquoise has become very desirable, especially in the robin’s egg blue color.

Turquoise has been treasured as a gemstone for thousands of years, used in manufacturing jewelry and ornamental objects. It has become so well-known that the word is commonly used in the English language as the name of the blue-green color.

I remember recently using the word when my husband and I were in Colorado visiting my sister and her family. As we were walking in the downtown area of Colorado Springs, I said to Michael, “What a great pop of color on this building! Let’s get our picture taken in front of this turquoise post!” Like a good husband, he complied.

Stabilized Turquoise

Turquoise forms best in an arid climate. Significant amounts have been found in New Mexico and Nevada. Currently, Arizona is the leading turquoise-producing state.

Only a very small amount of turquoise that is mined today can be used without some type of treatment. Untreated turquoise is very rare. When it comes straight from the mine, the turquoise is usually too soft, porous, and fragile for manufacturing into jewelry because it can easily break or crumble. Once it is stabilized with a polymer or other binding material, it is then durable enough to be cut and used in making jewelry. This is called stabilized turquoise.

In Instability We Trust

This world we live in is a lot like turquoise – very fragile and unstable. Even so, we can often find ourselves putting our trust in it. We trust in the “stable” company in which we have worked for years. We trust in our nicely padded “stable” bank account. And we trust in the “stability” of our loyal friends and family. At least for a little while.

Then, all of a sudden something happens to break that trust. The company to which you have given hours and hours of your precious time and energy tells you they are downsizing and your job is no longer. You have an unexpected health crisis and your bank account quickly begins to diminish. And your significant other whom you thought was so loyal, falls in love with someone else. All of that so-called “stability” has now crumbled.

Strong and Unshakable 

So where do you turn when everything in life seems so unstable? Elohim, which comes from the Hebrew meaning “strength” or “power” is the first name for God found in the Bible and is used in the Old Testament over 2,300 times! God is described throughout His Word as a strong tower, rock, fortress, and refuge. Exactly what we need when everything around us is crumbling and falling apart!

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The man who does what is right runs into it and is safe. Proverbs 18:10

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

When you grow in your knowledge of God, you begin to understand how powerfully strong and unshakable He really is. So different from the world we live in! It becomes much easier to run to Him for your stability when you truly know Him. That is because you can fully trust Him to provide exactly what you need…a dependable place of shelter, protection, and security.

Spend Time with God

If you want to get to know someone, you have to spend time with them. To get to know God, you must spend time in His Word which is how He speaks to you. The Bible is filled with His stable promises and everything you need to know about His steadfast character. He is faithful, unchanging, and completely unshakable. When the things in your life begin to lose their stability, God is right there to hold you steady. There is no reason to fear the instability around you because God is your strong tower, your solid rock, and your safe refuge.

Spending time with God also includes talking to Him frequently in prayer…thanking Him for all He does for you and telling Him about your hopes and dreams, your greatest needs, and your deepest desires. As you become closer and more intimate in your relationship with Him, you will be able to experience His deep love for you to the fullest. Your trust will grow and grow and you will lean less and less on your own understanding of things and start to acknowledge Him in everything you do. Soon, you will begin to notice that your hopes, dreams, needs, and desires will change over time to align much more closely with God’s perfect plans and purposes for your life.

Become Rooted in Christ 

We recently took a trip to Houston for Michael’s 30th high school reunion. Before arriving at the big event, we drove around his old neighborhood. He found the street he used to live on and pointed out to me his memory-filled home. In the front yard was an enormous tree that was planted by his family 33 years ago. Back then, it was a tiny little sapling. But by now, it had reached a height far above the roof of the house.

As a tree grows taller, its roots grow deeper and the tree becomes more established. The word, established, comes from the Latin stabiles, meaning “firm, steady, or stable.” The roots, essential for life, carry water and nourishment to the rest of the tree. The depth of the roots, however, depends on the soil and climate conditions.

As you grow closer to God and become more nourished through reading His Word and spending time with Him in prayer, your roots grow deeper. The more time you spend with Him the greater your trust becomes in the One who gives you His strength with no need to fear when things become unstable all around you. Similar to when a tree is deeply rooted after many years from when it was first planted, it does not have to fear heat or drought.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Our Solid Rock

In 1834, Edward Mote wrote a well-known hymn about having our stability in Christ. Here is the second stanza of his hymn, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less:”

When darkness veils His lovely face,

I rest on His unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale

My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

Just like turquoise, when you add a source of true stability, you become strong and can resist crumbling from the uncertainties in life. That stability can only be found in Christ alone, our solid Rock. And just like robin’s egg blue turquoise (and that Zuni petit point pin), an incredible treasure.

Spiritual Sparklers

Sparkler #1: Prayer

Ask God to help you trust Him when things start to crumble around you, knowing His plans and purposes for your life are perfect.

Sparkler #2: Action

Make it a priority to spend time each day in God’s Word and talking to Him in prayer so you can get to know His steadfast character to help you build your trust in Him.

Sparkler #3: Challenge

Write down your fears – the things in your life that have no stability. Then, write down the scriptures that describe God as a strong tower, rock, fortress, refuge, and strength. Read them out loud each day as a good reminder that true stability can only be found in Him.

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at www.kimberlymoorerings.com

*Turquoise from Los Cerrillos, NM; Photographer: Tim Evanson

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Lasting Joy through God’s Grace | November 20th, 2017

It was one of those perfect weekends to do a little hunting for vintage jewelry to repurpose. It has become such a fun hobby for me over the years, as well as a part-time business, so I like to keep a good variety of repurposed pieces available to sell, especially when I am asked to speak to women’s groups on the history of vintage costume jewelry. Whenever I find any pieces with the maker’s mark, it also becomes an educational experience for me. I am always very interested in learning everything I can about the designer or company who created the piece, so I spend a good bit of time researching the history behind it all.

I stopped by a local antique show and noticed one particular brooch made of glass rhinestones, small pearls, and gold filigree that was quite enticing. It had “W. Germany” stamped on the back of it.

Through my research after purchasing it, I discovered that soon after Germany had been devastated from WWII, West Germany set out to rebuild their economy. They went through a time of very rapid reconstruction, experiencing what is known as Wirtschaftswunder or “economic miracle” throughout the 1950s.

From the late ’50s on, West Germany had one of the world’s strongest economies, partly due to increased production and manufacturing of goods such as costume jewelry. The materials they used had to be inexpensive because of its struggling economy. So they produced striking jewelry made of glass, imitating gemstones. The glass used in this brooch looked like the gemstone, citrine, which is the traditional birthstone for November.

November’s Birthstone, Citrine 

Citrine is a yellow quartz with its natural color ranging between a yellow and reddish orange. The darker colors in a golden orange hue are considered more rare, increasing the value. The mineral, iron, determines the color in quartz. Amethyst, a purple variety, is closely related to citrine. When iron is heated, the iron impurities are reduced, resulting in less violet purple colors shown in amethyst and more golden orange colors which you see in citrine. It is quite possible that quartz crystals, which grew naturally as amethyst, turned into citrine by the heat from nearby volcanic activity.

This yellow quartz, found mainly in Brazil, was renamed “citrine” over 450 years ago by a German scientist named Georg Bauer. He was known as “the father of mineralogy.” The name citrine was officially adopted in 1556 when Bauer used it in a publication about gemstones and jewelry. The root of the word comes from the French word citron meaning “yellow,” or the Latin word citrus for the color of citrus fruit such as a lemon or yellow citron.

Choosing Joy

Have you ever watched a baby taste a lemon for the first time? They scrunch up their face with a look of intense displeasure, not at all happy about having experienced this sour and unexpected new flavor. We often have that same kind of reaction inside of us when having to deal with an unexpected difficulty that comes our way. It can be a sour experience, but there are essential lessons we learn as we go through it that can build our character and make us stronger.

Thankfully, God does not expect us to go through painful trials and heartaches without His help. One of the best lifelines He gives us is joy. We can easily become stuck in our anger, bitterness, and sorrow, but He desires for us to choose joy instead, so we can reflect Him as we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

The Apostle Paul explains God’s will for those who follow Christ:

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Opportunities for Joy

I remember going through a tremendously difficult time financially after graduating from college, trying to figure out how I could possibly make a living as an entrepreneur. I so badly wanted to have my own business as a personal fitness trainer. I struggled for five years trying to make it work. But in the end, I had to make a major change in my life by leaving my dear sister who shared an apartment with me at the time, and moving to a much bigger city by myself where I knew no one in order to continue having my own business.

Moving to Dallas gave me the opportunity to experience so much joy as I grew closer to God, trusting and relying on Him to direct every step I took, and watching Him bless me in the most amazing ways with my business and in many other areas of my life. It definitely tested my faith, but made me so much stronger after going through it.

Dear brothers and sisters when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3

Bearing Fruit

There is a major difference between worldly joy and the joy the Holy Spirit gives us when we belong to Christ. Worldly joy is temporary and quickly comes and goes whereas the Holy Spirit’s joy is never-ending. There is always an abundant supply. As the Holy Spirit works to produce change in our character to be more like Him, the result is being able to see fruit in our lives such as joy, an important attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. Bearing fruit is a part of spiritual maturity.

The outer layer of a lemon or citron fruit (pictured) is called the flavedo or rind. It contains essential oils rich in terpenes which are glands that create a strong barrier against the attacks of insects and microorganisms to keep the fruit thriving on the vine. If we are to be filled with joy, especially through our trials, we must remain attached to Christ so He can be our strong barrier against the attacks of the enemy who would be delighted to see us not bearing any fruit. When we have a close relationship with God, He gives us abundant joy, even during our most difficult challenges in life.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 

God’s Grace is our Joy

God deeply desires for us to experience lasting joy through Him. The words joy and rejoice appear in the Bible over 300 times! The Greek word for joy is “chara” which is closely related to “charis,” meaning grace or a gift. Chara is how we react to charis. We have joy because of God’s grace.

Through God’s grace, we can be joyful despite our circumstances. The joy of the Lord is our strength to get us through anything we go through in life, no matter how painful. When we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we as sinners are given so much grace, completely undeserved, as we become heirs to an inheritance that can never perish. There is no greater joy than that!

All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family. Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 1 Peter 1:3-4

Worldly Joy

Commentator, Alexander MacLaren, had a great way of describing the end result of worldly joy:

“The saddest lives are those of pleasure-seekers, and the saddest deaths are those of the men who sought for joy where it was not to be found, and sought for their gratification in a world which leaves them, and which they have to leave.”

He went on to say, “Many of our earthly joys die in the very act of being enjoyed.” 

Have you ever experienced a time when you were savoring each delectable bite of your favorite dessert, when you got to a point where you absolutely could not eat anymore of it? Your taste buds were most likely on sugar-overload and it just wasn’t nearly as pleasurable anymore. Simply stated, your joy died in the very act of being enjoyed!

Lasting Joy

If all there was to joy was what the world offered, we would have good reason to stay stuck in our anger, bitterness, and sorrow. But lasting joy comes from having a deep relationship with Christ as we live in obedience to Him and experience His great love for us. It is an indescribable joy, difficult to express but easily experienced, and best of all, lasting throughout eternity.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:1

It didn’t take long for me to decide I was going to repurpose that beautiful, post-war West Germany citrine glass brooch into a long tassel necklace…one that could be a continuous reminder of the lasting joy we can have even when life seems like it is only giving us sour lemons. For we know our final destiny is to be with Christ in His glorious Kingdom for all eternity!

Spiritual Sparklers

Sparkler #1: Prayer

Ask God to help you choose joy during the tough, painful challenges you face in your life. He desires for you to have it in all circumstances!

Sparkler #2: Action

If you struggle with having joy, spend more time talking to God in prayer and reading His Word so you can deepen your relationship with Him. Allow the Holy Spirit to help produce change in your life so you can bear more fruit.

Sparkler #3: Challenge

What opportunity for joy has God given you in a challenging situation you are facing right now? Use that opportunity to see how God is able to provide lasting joy for you.

*Citron fruit photo by Richard Huber

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at www.kimberlymoorerings.com. 

Your Uniqueness, God’s Gift   | October 16th, 2017

I was born an October baby. I love the season in which I was born, but I cannot say I feel the same way about my birthstone, the opal. Although opal comes in a variety of colors, I had only seen the extremely pale version with very little color displayed in jewelry settings. I am attracted to color, and lots of it, so I have never had a desire to own any opal jewelry.

It was not until just recently that I discovered some great news…October has another traditional birthstone called tourmaline. What an exciting moment this was for me, especially when I found out tourmaline is the most colorful of all gemstones! It occurs in blue, red, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink, purple, white, gray, black, and even multi-colored! According to ancient legend, tourmaline is found in all colors because it traveled along a rainbow, gathering the rainbow’s colors. Now, that is one colorful gemstone!

The Most Colorful Gemstone, Tourmaline

The name “tourmaline” comes from the Sinhalese words tura mali, which mean “stone of mixed colors.” Every piece of tourmaline is unique because of its incredible color variation with no two stones having the exact same color, and also because it is pleochroic, appearing to have different colors or depth of color when viewed from different angles. It is important for tourmaline gemstone cutters to consider this before they begin cutting so the finished gem can magnificently reveal its color, transparency, and brilliance.

The group of minerals of which tourmaline is composed can be found in two kinds of rocks: igneous (solidified from lava) and metamorphic (changed in form by heat and pressure). Tourmaline is very unique in that it crystallizes into a three-sided prism which is completely different from any other common mineral.

Elements such as iron, aluminum, magnesium, sodium, lithium, and potassium determine a mineral’s color. Tourmaline comes in every color of the spectrum with each colored stone given a different name. For example, blue tourmaline (pictured) is known as indicolite. Today, they are all generally referred to as tourmaline, with the color’s name added as a prefix.

Tourmaline is primarily mined in Brazil and Africa. Other countries where it is also mined include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and in the U.S. in Maine and California. During the early 1900s, these two states became the world’s largest producers of gem quality tourmaline.

Tourmaline became a part of the commercial gem industry when an American mineralogist named George Frederick Kunz walked into the offices of Tiffany & Co. in New York City in 1875. He had with him a beautiful piece of green tourmaline that he had obtained in Maine. Tiffany & Co. was the largest jewelry business in the world and strictly sold precious gemstones (diamond, ruby, emerald, and sapphire). That day, Kunz was able to meet with the founder, Charles Tiffany, and convinced him to buy his semi-precious tourmaline. That was the very beginning of a long relationship. Eventually, Kunz became the resident gem expert at Tiffany & Co., an influential position that he held for 53 years.

Today, the value of the 100+ hues of tourmaline ranges in price. The more common forms in the colors of pink, red, green, blue, and multi-colored are fairly inexpensive, while the rarer, more exotic colors command a much higher price. Highly sought-after colors include an electric blue-green known as Paraiba tourmaline from Brazil, a vivid green called chrome tourmaline from Africa, and a tri-colored variety known as watermelon tourmaline in which the crystals may be green on one end and pink on the other, or green on the outside and pink on the inside.

Watermelon tourmaline mineral on quartz matrix

Juliana “Tourmaline”

During the 1940s and ‘50s, it was common for jewelry designers to make costume jewelry that looked like real gemstone jewelry. People wanted beautiful, yet affordable jewelry and it had finally become socially acceptable after many years to wear fakes.

I recently purchased a stunning pair of vintage Juliana clip earrings that resemble watermelon tourmaline. As one who repurposes vintage costume jewelry, I thought these would make gorgeous rings! The company who designed these first started out as D & E in 1947 by William DeLizza and Harold Elster whose vision led to the production of some of the most fabulous and desirable costume jewelry on the market. These vintage beauties are definitely both fabulous and desirable!

You are Unique

Tourmaline is truly a gemological wonder with uniqueness in the color of each piece. You are also an incredible creation and completely unique. Yes, you are a human being made with a physical body and a soul like everyone else, but you are totally unique in your own way. Part of that uniqueness is the skills with which you were blessed. They are a generous gift to you from God. There is no one on the planet created with the same passions and abilities to be able to do exactly what you do in the beautiful way you do it!

My husband and I went to a huge art festival recently and met many talented artists. There were several painters and sculptors, but not one of them created their art exactly like another. Each artist had their own unique style. I took a photo of this work by one of the artists who picked wild cattail reeds in her home town of Ohio, colorfully painted them, and then framed her unique art to sell. It was so beautiful and I have never seen anything like it! 

God Has a Plan for Your Skills

Did you know God had a specific plan for you to be able to use your skills even before you were born? That is one of the big reasons why you are here. He wants you to use your skills – not just for yourself, but to bless others, receive joy, and reflect His glory.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

I have had people tell me they do not think they are good at anything. God blesses each and every one of us with some kind of a skill we can use to serve Him. If you do not know what your skills are, think about the kinds of things for which you have a passion. What can you do that comes naturally to you? Are you a good cook? Can you write well? Do you like to dig in the dirt and plant beautiful flowers? Do you have an eye for interior decorating? Are you a good listener? All of these, along with many others, are skills that you can use in some way to glorify God.

Perhaps you know what skills you have but you just don’t use them very often. If you are to develop and strengthen your skills, you have to use them. Maybe you can learn from others who have a skill similar to yours so you can strengthen it. It is important to put those skills into practice to become better at them. And not just for yourself, but especially for blessing others which you were created to do.

A Blessing Beyond Belief

My sister, Heidi, recently moved to Colorado Springs from Nashville. She had packed her wiggly, cracked, and fabric-stained kitchen chairs onto the moving truck where they were soon to be unloaded into her new home. She was hoping they would quickly be repaired after the move. But with four young boys, it was not likely that would be happening any time soon.

Heidi has been in Colorado Springs a couple of months now and recently met a woman in her new church where Heidi’s husband is one of the pastors. She mentioned to her that she was wanting to paint her mantle but was not an expert painter. This woman recommended contacting someone in the church named Marisa who owns a creative painting business. Heidi texted Marisa who responded immediately, saying she would love to paint her mantle as a housewarming gift. How incredibly welcoming!

Marisa came over to Heidi’s house to help her decide on a paint color and noticed several dismantled chairs in the kitchen. Heidi had somehow found the time to take the first step toward repairing her chairs by purchasing pieces of new wood from The Home Depot in hopes of remaking the seats. However, since The Home Depot can only cut squares, the seats would not fit until the angles could be cut as well. So there they were, in several pieces on the floor.

When Marisa saw the seatless chairs along with all the squares of cut wood, she said, “Would you like me to reupholster your chairs as well? What kind of fabric would you like? Do you like vintage? And are the chairs wiggly? I can fix that, too.” As it turns out, Marisa’s husband loves to work with wood and has the perfect saw for the job.

If that wasn’t enough, upon walking through Heidi’s dining room, she saw her other set of rickety, stained chairs and offered to paint them a pretty turquoise and reupholster them, too! Within a few days, she was unloading the first beautiful set of chairs from her car and setting them up in Heidi’s kitchen. In the next few weeks, she told Heidi she plans to deliver the other set of chairs and, of course, her mantle was beautifully painted as well.

Marisa used her unique skills with which God blessed her to bless someone else – a person she hardly knew. It made a tremendous impact on helping my sister feel so welcome in this unknown place where she knew very few people. And it brought her so much joy to have her chairs beautifully repaired by someone who generously shared her talent. Those chairs will be used in the days ahead to bless many others as Heidi will be hosting multiple families from her neighborhood and her church with the meals she will be serving around her table.

Your Skills are God’s Gift to You

If you are willing to use your skills to bless others, you will not have to look very hard to figure out where to use them. God will give you plenty of opportunities because it brings Him glory. You were created for that very reason!

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

The word, “grace” comes from the Greek word, “charisma.” Wikipedia defines charisma as a divinely conferred power or talent. When you are given a skill or talent, that is God’s grace – His gift to you. He knows how much blessing and joy you will receive when you use your unique skills to serve Him. You are doing what you are created to do for God’s purpose and for His glory.

Just like the gemstone, tourmaline, you are truly unique. God chose YOU to be given specific skills for the exact work He planned for you even before you took your first breath. Be open to all He has created you to do so you can be an incredible blessing to others while receiving abundant joy as you carry out His unique and fulfilling purposes for your life.

Spiritual Sparklers

Sparkler #1: Prayer

If you are not exactly sure what kinds of skills you have, ask God to reveal them to you.

Sparkler #2: Action

Find ways to use your skills to bless others. You will be incredibly blessed and filled with joy, bringing glory to God as you do what you were created to do.

Sparkler #3: Challenge

Look for opportunities where you can serve others using your skills. If you do not know what your skills are, jump at any chance to serve which might help you discover what you are passionate about as well as the skills that seem to come naturally to you.

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at www.kimberlymoorerings.com. 

Shaped through Friction for Victory | September 25th, 2017

It was the year, 1939. The Great Depression was ending and fashion magazines were beginning to be printed in color, giving clothing and jewelry a bright, cheerful look. This greatly helped to boost morale during these troublesome times.

Hollywood actresses wore eye-catching, colorful costume jewelry on-screen and in the magazines. Their sparkly jewelry made quite a statement. It was often created with rhinestones to look like gemstones which gave the illusion of wealth and prosperity. Women of this era wanted that glamorous look without the high price tag. So these designs were replicated into jewelry that was affordable for women of all social classes. It was then sold at five and dime stores such as Woolworth’s. It did not take long before costume jewelry became extremely fashionable and popular.

September’s Birthstone, Sapphire

As a collector of vintage costume jewelry, I have come across some of the most gorgeous rhinestone pieces that could easily be mistaken for authentic gemstones. Here is one I found that looks like it was made with costly sapphires which I repurposed into a ring:

The sapphire is September’s traditional birthstone. The name “sapphire” comes from the Latin word, saphirus, and the Greek word, sapheiros, both meaning “blue.” This is the color for which sapphire is most known.

Sapphire is considered one of the four precious gemstones which also include diamond, ruby, and emerald. It is a variety of the rock-forming mineral, corundum, which typically contains traces of elements (impurities) such as iron, magnesium, chromium, and titanium.

Although sapphire is usually recognized for its rich blue color, these elements allow for sapphire to be found in other colors as well such as yellow, purple, pink, orange, and green. These are called “fancy” sapphires. Pink sapphires, for example, deepen in color the more chromium they have which increases the value. If it deepens too much, it becomes red which classifies it as a ruby, one of the most valuable gemstones. If it has two or more colors, it is called a “parti-colored” sapphire, commonly found in Australia. Interestingly, it cannot be created synthetically. They only occur naturally.

Huge sapphire deposits are located in countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma, Madagascar, and in North America in the state of Montana.

Sapphire from Madagascar

Mohs Hardness Scale

In 1812,  German geologist and mineralogist named Friedrich Mohs, developed a hardness scale for minerals so that a mineral of unknown hardness could be tested against a group of ten index minerals to see where it would rank. The test compared the resistance of a mineral to being scratched. He selected ten minerals that ranged from very soft (talc) to very hard (diamond) and rated them on a scale from one to ten.

The Mohs Hardness Scale has been widely used throughout the world for over 200 years:

Mohs Hardness Scale

Mineral / Hardness

Talc – 1

Gypsum – 2

Calcite – 3

Fluorite – 4

Apatite – 5

Orthoclase – 6

Quartz – 7

Topaz – 8

Corundum – 9

Diamond – 10

Corundum as an Abrasive

As you can see from the scale, corundum is an exceptionally hard material, falling just below the hardness of diamond. Because sapphire is a variety of corundum, it is easy to cut without having it crumble and it can also put up with a lot of wear, making it a desirable gemstone to use in a jewelry setting.

The incredible hardness of corundum makes it especially useful as an abrasive, a material that is used to shape a softer material by wearing part of it away through friction. Corundum is crushed and processed to remove its impurities and then made into granules and powders which are used in tools such as polishing compounds, sand papers, and grinding wheels.

One of the most common uses for natural corundum with which most of us are familiar is an “emery board” or nail file. Abrasive papers are glued to a thin piece of cardboard and then used as a tool to grind down and shape the edges of fingernails. Emery boards got their name during the 1800s when crushed emery stone, very rich in corundum, was used as the abrasive. Today’s emery boards are only made with synthetic corundum but are often still sold as “emery boards.”

Life is Full of Abrasives

As we go through life, we all experience different kinds of abrasives. They come in the form of trials, afflictions, heartaches, illness, disappointments, difficulties, trauma, grief, shame, and guilt, just to name a few. Some are no fault of our own such as having a loved one taken from us too early, suffering with a long-term illness, or not getting married by the age we had set for ourselves to have walked down the aisle with that perfect partner.

Others, however, are a direct result of the choices we make that do not honor God. The friction that takes place from each of these kinds of abrasives shapes us in a unique way and often times for a new purpose in life. No matter what the reason for the abrasive, God can use it to shape us so we reflect His character.

Our first reaction to an abrasive is often anger, bitterness, or perhaps even feelings of hopelessness. Over time, we can get stuck in these thought patterns, incredibly damaging to our heart, mind and spirit, which keep us from being able to see how God can find beauty in our difficult circumstance while making us stronger in our faith.

Releasing Thought Patterns of Bondage

My husband and I just came back from a week of vacationing in Asheville, North Carolina. I swam nearly every morning in the indoor pool of our hotel.

On one side of the pool was a wall that was all glass. When I would get there early in the morning and take a look outside, there was nothing to see but a heavy mist, hiding everything behind it. But by the time I was just about finished swimming, the mist would begin to clear and I could then see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains dotted with thousands of pine trees in the distance. It was an incredible scenic view that I never would have known existed unless the mist lifted.

Think of your anger, bitterness, or hopelessness as that dense mist that hides the beauty God is able to find in whatever it is causing friction in your life to lead you to a new purpose and a closer relationship with Him. It is never God’s desire for you to get stuck in thought patterns that cause bondage. Only after you let go and release it all to Him will He be able to give you complete freedom and show you His grace by blessing you with victory.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say, “I grew so much closer to God when everything was going smoothly in my life and I had no pain or suffering.”

It is usually through the abrasives that you grow closer to God. You begin to give Him more of your attention as you see your need for Him. You cry out to Him for help, relying on Him to get you through the pain of your difficult circumstance. And your faith becomes strengthened as you see Him work in your life for your good.

The Apostle Paul experienced a life full of abrasives, one after the other…

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 2 Corinthians 11:23b-27

Through each abrasive, Paul became stronger as he learned to see the good that God intended for his life in order for others to see the power of Christ in him…

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Our Choices Can Lead to Abrasive Consequences

Often times, it is our own choices in life that result in painful, abrasive consequences. These are choices that go against God’s Word. When we lose our awareness of God and begin to act as if He does not exist, we suffer from the consequences of making our own choices without His blessing. It is our suffering, however, that reminds us of our need for Him. That suffering is His mercy for us so we will come back to Him.

As our Creator, He knows what is best for our lives. When we choose to value what He values, we mature spiritually and experience His incredible blessings that He can’t wait to give to us because He loves us so much!

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

A dear friend of mine made the choice at the age of 18 to have an abortion. Over the years, she began to feel a heavy burden of guilt and shame for terminating her pregnancy. She knew God loved her but could not accept that He fully forgave her. The turning point for her was when she found out about an after-abortion recovery ministry called Someone Cares, a 12-week study of God’s plan for women who have experienced the pain of abortion using a “Forgiven and Set Free” program which helps them to discover freedom, hope, healing, and restoration.

After completing the program, my friend told me she no longer feels stuck in her guilt and shame and has complete freedom to finally move forward and to even help other women with their post-abortion healing journey. Christ has given her victory over her pain which she is now using to glorify Him through her new purpose.

She shared one of her most favorite Scripture verses with me which has been a great reminder of God’s character and love for her through this incredibly abrasive experience:

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12

God Uses Our Abrasives for Our Good

God uses the abrasives in our lives for so many different reasons. Often times, we can look back after enduring a difficult trial and can see how God was able to accomplish something good through it. Here are a few of the ways He uses our sufferings for our good:

  • Help us recognize and remove sinful behaviors from our life
  • Strengthen our relationship with Him
  • Give us a reason to depend on His grace
  • Increase our wisdom and discernment
  • Produce perseverance and character
  • Build our trust and hope in Christ
  • Experience freedom and joy
  • Boast of victory for God’s glory

Just as corundum is used for grinding and shaping, God uses the friction of life’s abrasives to shape us so we can be given a new purpose, reflecting Him with the beauty of freedom through each miraculous victory.

Spiritual Sparklers

Sparkler #1: Prayer

Whenever you go through a trial, pray for freedom from thought patterns of bondage so you can experience God’s incredible victory in your life.

Sparkler #2: Action

Make choices that honor God and help you to reflect His character. Read His Word daily so you will know how to value what He values.

Sparkler #3: Challenge

Look back to past difficulties in your life and write down the ways God has used your sufferings for your good and perhaps even for a new purpose.

Perfect Vision through the Light of the World | August 18th, 2017

It was an East Dallas home tour weekend with several charming mid-century moderns on the list. My husband and I registered early and cleared our schedules to be able to go. Since we recently bought an updated home built in 1950, we both enjoy seeing the way others have remodeled and decorated their mid-century homes using inspiring creativity. There was one particular home on this tour that I will never forget.

We entered one of the bedrooms and I noticed a large, walk-in closet with a wide open door, so I curiously poked my head inside. I was immediately stunned to see that every piece of clothing hanging up was black! At first, I thought they were all uniforms, but when I took a closer look, the tops and bottoms were very different – not uniforms at all. I thought to myself, Who would ever want to wear only the color black? How depressing! Now, this is coming from someone whose closet is packed with color – and lots of it. I just didn’t get it. Until I spoke with a friend who used to wear black. Only black.

Color Psychology

Every color of the spectrum has a bit of psychology tied to it. We are drawn to specific colors for a reason. Each color has an association with a reaction in our brain when we internalize it. My favorite color, for example, is orange. It represents enthusiasm, creativity, and determination, all a huge part of my personality. I see orange and I am completely magnetized toward it.

The color, black is the absorption of all color and the absence of light. Black is a color that hides. It can be used to hide things such as emotions, insecurities, or even as a slimming color to hide weight. My friend’s reason for wearing it was to try to hide the pain of her past and her overwhelming sadness that she experienced throughout much of her life.

Mourning in Black

Black also expresses grief. We often select this somber color to wear when attending a funeral. Back in the Victorian era, women actually did not have a choice to wear any color but black for a minimum of two years after their husband passed.

The Victorian era started in 1837 when Victoria became the Queen of England at the very young age of 18. She was young, pretty and quite admired throughout the land. Whatever she wore became the latest fashion trend.

In 1840, she married her first cousin, Prince Albert. After 21 years of marriage and nine children, her beloved Prince Albert died at age 42 of typhoid fever in 1861. The Queen then went into a deep depression and mourning, dressing only in the color black for the remainder of her life. She required everyone at the court to also wear mourning attire during social occasions for three years.

The five daughters of Prince Albert wearing mourning black dresses and posing for a portrait with his statue following his death in 1861

When a widow of Victorian society was in deep mourning which lasted one full year, she was expected to wear clothing made entirely of black crepe, a dull fabric that had no sheen so as not to reflect any light.

Jewelry was not usually worn at all that first year. After one year of deep mourning, a widow would go into half-mourning and could wear black silk. Jewelry could also now be worn, made from a variety of black materials such as jet, vulcanite, gutta-percha, and bog oak.

Here is a black glass mourning pin from this period: 

After the two years of mourning were over, widows could freely wear any color. However, many imitated Queen Victoria and wore black for the rest of their lives.

Spiritual Blindness

It is your choice whether or not you want to wear light or dark clothing. But did you know it is also your choice to invite the light into your heart, mind, and spirit that God offers to guide you out of your darkness? We all start out in darkness with a sin nature, but if you decide to stay there, you will become spiritually blind.

Spiritual blindness is the inability to see God because of a lack of belief in Him and in His Word. To remain in your blindness is insisting that you see perfectly fine on your own with no need for a Savior. That is called pride. He will leave you in your blindness because you are rejecting His grace to give you the eyes to see and the mind to understand the truth.

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5b

Pride hinders your spiritual sight because you put your faith in your own ability to do things that are beyond your strength. It comes from having too high of an opinion of yourself. You need God’s help. The moment you humble yourself and ask Him to help you see, He gives you His light and you no longer have to walk in darkness.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 

Often times, if a person’s life is consumed with their sin, they will not go anywhere near the light because their sin will be exposed. Rejecting the light that God offers to lead you out of your blindness results in a further hardening of your heart, mind, and spirit in unbelief. It slowly becomes more and more difficult to see, hear, and comprehend the truth.

The Apostle Paul found this to be true when he spoke to some of the Jewish leaders…

And after they had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet, ‘Go and say to this people: When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ Acts 28:25-27

Delivered from Darkness

Why are there so many spiritually blind people all around us? Because the god of this world, Satan, is desperately fighting to keep anyone he can from being able to understand God’s truth, see His light, and experience His grace. He wants to keep them from hearing the Good News that they can be completely forgiven of all their sins and live in freedom. If he can do that, they will stay in bondage to their sin. He is the ruler of darkness and would love nothing more than to rule over as many people as possible, holding them captive in total darkness with him. And he has been successful with quite a number of them.

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

It is only by the power of God and His grace that you can be delivered from this darkness. When you make God the Ruler of your life, He protects you from the god of this world, keeping you in the light and taking away your spiritual blindness so you can understand His liberating truths.

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:16

I follow a blog written by a beautiful, radiant woman named Beth Eckert who used to be heavily into the occult and witchcraft for several years in her search for truth and meaning in life. She had experienced deep depression, hopelessness, and total despair. Living a life in darkness did not bring her the freedom Satan deceptively made her think it would, so after years of disillusionment, she finally took action and started on a journey of finding the truth – the truth about who God really is. God answered her fervent prayers and took away her spiritual blindness, giving her perfect vision and the true freedom for which she had been desperately searching.

“It is an amazing miracle, what Jesus has done for my life. He has brought me hope and healing for the first time ever.” 

“I am indeed a new creation, redeemed by the light and the glory of Christ. I am in awe of what He has done for me.”  – Beth Eckert

The name of her blog is so fitting… The Other Side of Darkness; My Journey into the Light

Beth took action to know God in a personal way and continues to do so every day. If you want strong, spiritual vision, you must also take action. Spending time regularly talking to God and taking time to listen to Him by reading what He has to say to you through His Word will deepen your relationship. It is a relationship that begins here on earth and will continue into eternity.

You will slowly begin to see your blindness fade away. And it will be replaced with razor-sharp, unobstructed spiritual vision…something we all greatly need if we are to stay out of the darkness and live a life of freedom offered to us by our gracious Savior, the Light of the World.

Spiritual Sparklers

Sparkler #1: Prayer

If you are living in darkness, ask God for His light to shine brightly so you can see spiritual truths with perfect vision. Humbly offer all of your pride to God so He can clearly show you your need for Him.

Sparkler #2: Action

Strengthen your relationship with God by making it a priority to spend time reading His Word each day and talking to Him about your life. He loves you so much and wants you to include Him in every part of it!

Sparkler #3: Challenge

If your veil has been removed and you see God’s truth with perfect vision, share your testimony with those you know who are spiritually blind and need to hear the Good News of God’s grace to deliver them from darkness.

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at www.kimberlymoorerings.com. 

*Colouring pencils photo by Michael Maggs.

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