Last week, Man of My Dreams and I planned to visit the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field to cheer on the Green Bay Packers. Although the Packers aren’t his number one team, anyone who loves football knows that Lambeau Field is hallowed ground and a “bucket list” worthy trip whether you are a Packer’s fan or not.

However, God had other plans.

Instead of gathering with football fans, we gathered with family and friends to celebrate a good man’s life when God took my brother in law home a few days before our trip.

And in the course of traveling back to where I grew up, we stayed a few days in Wichita as a wanted/needed rest and respite.

We did a little Christmas shopping. Ate some great food. Visited the Wichita Art Museum. Wandered through Botanica where 1.5 million lights turn the gardens into a Christmas wonderland. botanica

But the highlight for me was visiting Karg Art Glass Gallery in Kechi, just outside of Wichita.

As you probably know, I’m a “glass groupie.” As a fused glass artist, I am energized by any type of beautiful glass work but had never visited Karg Art Glass.

Rollin Karg was an industrial engineer who played with photography, wood working and pottery before becoming a full time glass artist in 1983.  And in that short time, has become widely known and respected in the glass world. I’d seen his work in galleries throughout the US, but never visited his “home” here in Kansas. (For more information about Karg, go here: www.rollinkarg.com )

A lot of people confuse fused glass where glass is melted together in a kiln then reheated and “slumped” to shape the glass(what I do) with blown glass where glass is heated in a “glory hole”–a red hot furnace–on the end of a blow pipe that the glass blower then gently inflates using his/her breath.rollin-karg

Two totally different fascinating art forms.

At Karg, during the holidays, you can make your own glass Christmas ornament.

They had examples of orbs to spark your creativity. karg-glassAnd tubs of colored, broken glass to choose from–glass that would be transformed in the heat.

We met our glass artist and watched him ready the molten glass in the glory hole. glassblowing-usThe glass glowed red hot–none of our colors visible in the heat, then under his direction, we blew gently into the blow pipe, inflating the glass to reveal our colors as it cooled, creating our own, one of a kind glass orb.

Man of My Dreams at Karg

Man of My Dreams at Karg

No matter how many times I’ve seen it done, it is always miraculous to me.glassblowing-kim

Glass is both delicate and hard in its solid state. I thought it would take more effort to expand the glass with just my breath, but we were coached to blow gently and steadily. It didn’t even take more than one breath and my purple and white orb took shape. orb-me

Martha, a dear friend of mine, works at Karg and she came in on her day off to show us around and stood with us as we made our ornaments.

And she told me something that I’d never thought about, but cannot stop thinking about even now.

She’d helped an elderly couple when they came in to blow glass ornaments. Their purpose was more than just a fun holiday experience or the joy of creating something beautiful. They were there to capture the breath of their spouse so that when their life ended, they would still have their breath, ever encased in beautiful glass.

What a stunning thought!

For most of us, breathing is as natural as, well, breathing. We just don’t think about it. It is as much a part of our life existence as our heart beating. We don’t think about the miracle of life and breath until there is an interruption in that autonomic process. We wake up each day and forget that while we were unconscious, deep in slumber, our bodies continued to function as they were designed to.

We don’t think, “Oh! I better breathe!”  when we wake up. It just is.

Breath is a sign of life. And without breath, there is no life.

If the breath stops….within a few minutes, so does the heart and vice versa.

And this precious married couple, knowing that their life together will end on this side of eternity, wanted to capture and hold onto a bit of their beloved’s life even after death.

I totally get that. I am transfixed by the thought that I have Man of My Dream’s breath inside that glass orb.

Kary's breath, encased in glass

Kary’s breath, encased in glass

How precious the thought!

But I also know that this life isn’t all there is!

As Christ followers, Man of My Dreams and I both have eternal life because of His life.

I love the story of God creating Adam, the first man, in the book of Genesis. “Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being. ” Genesis 2:7

God was alive and He breathed His life into Adam. And even though Adam, with Eve, lost fellowship with God through their disobedience, God’s life, the knowledge of his creator, his very heartbeat and his breath, was a gift from God all the days of Adam’s life.

As is ours.

And here at Christmas, we celebrate another life. As the Bible calls him, the Second Adam.

Adam was given life and breath by God, but Jesus Christ was God.jesus-pillow

He came as Immanuel. God with us.

The breath of heaven. Life from heaven. Come to earth.

The Gift of God to us.jesus-gift

This body of ours will someday pass away. It’s just an earthly “tent” for the spirit which makes us, “us.”

And it is a nice thought that those left behind could hold onto a bit of our life here on earth.

But when we have the Son, we have the Father–His life, His breath, His spirit within that lives forever.

I love the beautiful glass orbs that we created, but even more, I love how God uses things here on the earth–the beautiful, the material, the mundane, to point us to His truths.

Just as that molten glass captured our breath–just as we breathed “life” and beauty in a blob of molten glass, He breathes eternal life into us as we accept not just the babe in the manger, but His Son’s sacrificial death on the cross for us.

Last night at our SISTERs gathering, we talked about how to keep our eyes on Jesus this Christmas. simplify-jesusBeing intentional. Praying more. Loving more. Celebrating more simply and not getting caught up in all the “stuff” that has become Christmas.

For me, all that plus seeing our beautiful ornaments on the tree as a representation not just of our breath, but of how we too are His workmanship and how we hold the very Breath of Heaven in these earthen vessels keeps my eyes on Jesus this Christmas.

Wishing you the JOY of the Savior!

Wishing you the JOY of the Savior this Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Friends.