God and Art: Jewelry maker creates gifts to encourage others

Michelle Ernsthausen of Rochester, New York is our guest for the God and Art Series today. Michelle, who owns GlimmerOfBeauty on Etsy, shared her story with me after I asked her if she wanted to be featured on my blog. Be sure to visit her shop. She has some interesting items that will help you speak to the people around you. Here's her story:

"In 2009 my sister-in-law discovered jewelry making. Since we spend Sundays together she thought it would be fun to do together, so that Christmas she gave me a jewelry making starter kit as a gift. But, honestly, I was not too excited. My only other experience with making jewelry was at a church retreat. We were given memory wire, multi-colored seed beads and charms to make a bracelet. I was exhausted from no sleep the night before and my eyes burned. I found the tiny beads so painful to work with that I gave up, put the materials in a bag and went for a walk. Once at home, however, I felt compelled to finish the project. The bracelet was nice, but the experience did not spark a love for the activity. However, I did not want to appear ungrateful so I decided I needed to make at least one piece of jewelry with the kit my sister-in-law gave me. It turned out that with a good night sleep, bigger beads and my choice of colors I really liked making jewelry. That began my Sunday hobby of 'beading' with my sister-in-law.


"After about a year I had made more jewelry than I could wear or give as gifts. So I began to think about what I could do with it. At that time I was receiving God's healing from past hurts and was finally beginning to know my individual worth to God. Being gifted as a teacher I felt compelled to share this new learned lesson with other women. I thought I would give the jewelry I made to women at the local abuse shelter with a card telling them how valuable they were to God. However, God was working out a different plan. You see, at this time my night-time reading was Divine, by Karen Kingsbury. Divine is a modern-day retelling Mary Magdalene's story and the contemporary demons women like her face. She recounts her past of physical and sexual abuse, drug addiction and suicidal thoughts at an abuse shelter she runs. After finishing this book I realized that the women at the shelter need so much more than a piece of jewelry. They needed what the shelter provided. That led me to opening a shop on Etsy. With the income I made from selling my jewelry I could financially support the Alternatives for Battered Women organization. That way the women who sought refuge there would receive so much more than I could give them through a gift of jewelry."

"So the combination of the healing I personally received from God, my desire to share the message that we are treasured by God, and my love for making jewelry led me to sell my handmade jewelry at GlimmerOfBeauty. What follows is included in my Etsy profile and explains how I came up with the name Glimmer Of Beauty for my shop."

"As women we always think about our looks. We want to look our best. We try lotions, make up, clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc. to make ourselves shine. But the truth that we often forget or perhaps never knew is that each woman already possesses an incomparable beauty given to us by our Creator. No one can ever create that kind of beauty. My hope is that the jewelry I create is a glimmer of that inner beauty placed in each woman by God."

"It is my desire that all women know of their beauty and worth. Sadly there are some women who are in such abusive relationships they know nothing of their beauty and worth. These women need help from others to show them another way of life. That is why I have chosen to donate 10 percent of the income from my sales to the organization Alternatives for Battered Women ("

"You will notice when you visit my shop that most of the beads in my jewelry are glass. I love working with glass. I love how the light reflects from it, passes through it and creates movement across the piece. I feel uplifted, energized and at peace when I'm working with glass and bringing colors together to create something beautiful. I think I am so drawn to this medium because my spirit is drawn to the light of Jesus. When I think of Jesus, light-filled images of nature come to mind. After all "He is the way, the truth and the light..." Glass is also an ordinary material but when placed in the hands of an artisan it becomes something extraordinary just like you and I in the hands of God. How can I not love spending time with glass when I am constantly reminded of my God?"

"You will also notice when you visit my shop that I have a section of inspirational bracelets. I am most proud of this section because it is where I am able to share my faith. These bracelets are an extension of my own personal faith journey and life experiences. They each have a message that I want to share with others so that they will feel encouraged, uplifted and at peace . I hope my bracelets point people to God and their daily need for the Savior, Jesus. The first bracelet I designed was the Christmas Story bracelet. I had come across a children's craft kit that had plain, colored, glass beads with a part of the Christmas story represented by a color in the bracelet. I decided to make my own bracelet for the Christmas season. I wanted the bracelet to be pretty on its own apart from the color symbolism. The beads I chose were multi-faceted glass crystals that catch the eye when the light shines on them. The colors, red, green, blue, purple and crystal, go with everything I wear during the Christmas season. In the color symbolism I really wanted to convey the significance of the gift of God becoming man to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy of a Lord and Savior. When people notice the bracelet and comment I have the opportunity to share the "true meaning" of Christmas. When I notice my bracelet I am reminded to pause from rushing to the next errand /chore "required" by the season and to be grateful for the gift of salvation through Jesus which began on Christmas and is realized at Easter."

"The most recent inspirational bracelet I designed was the Gifts of Cancer Bracelet. I designed the original two-strand bracelet in honor of my friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2011. A cancer patient once shared with me that after she worked through the negative feelings that came with her diagnosis she actually received what she called gifts of cancer. She is where I got my ideas for the Gifts of Cancer bracelet: black stands for challenges; aqua, peace; topaz is faith, pink equals beauty; blue stands for perspective and gold is for victory. My prayer for my friend was that she would also receive gifts from cancer as she made this journey. My hope was that she would be able to wear this bracelet and receive encouragement from it."

"I wrote out a detailed explanation of the color symbolism with Bible verses to give to her to help encourage her further. Here is an excerpt. The dark blue crystal symbolizes perspective. There is a popular phrase that says "Don't sweat the small stuff." You will soon discover most things are the small stuff. The Serenity Prayer says:

 God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
 courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.

--Reinhold Niebuhr.

The response to this bracelet has been overwhelming to me. The ease in which it came together leads me to believe that it is the result of God's handiwork and I was a mere vessel. It is so humbling to know God would choose to use me in this way."

"I have been blessed to know Jesus since childhood. My closeness to the Lord has changed over the years. I've spent time in the desert; time on the mountaintops. I have not always been aware of God's presence in my life. But as I look back, the evidence of his faithfulness to me is abundantly clear. My hope is to design more inspirational bracelets as the Lord leads me. I cannot do anything apart from him."

"My encouragement for other artists would be to enjoy your artistry, never forget where your gift comes from and remember that the beauty of your art is an opportunity to point others to God."