Unconventional Materials Challenge

9:56 AMHeather

I love Project Runway.  I admit it. I do. I love watching the creative process and the personalities and dynamics between the contestants.  But, truly--the thing I am most intrigued by on the show is the unconventional materials challenge.  If you are not a fan, this is where the aspiring designers are sent loose in places like a grocery store, a candy store, a factory, a floral supply store, or even a dollar store to purchase the supplies for their design.  And again--if you don't watch--then you don't know how much the judges HATE, and I do mean HATE, when the contestants use anything remotely resembling fabric.  Shower curtain?  Pa-shaw.  Not creative enough.  Place mats?  NEVER.  

What the judges want to see is how wild and wacky materials that you would never think of making a garment from can be transformed into great fashion.  Think of something akin to Lady Gaga's famous dress made of meat.  Only better.  WAY better.  And less stinky.

Here are a few examples.  (Be prepared to be amazed.)

From a candy store.


From duct tape.

From a floral supply store.


From newspapers.


From test tubes.

Aren't they fabulous?  I mean, what kind of creative genius can look at normal, everyday objects and see their potential to become beautiful clothes, dresses, and gowns?  I do admit my dark side.  Part of my intrigue with this particular challenge is how some designers are unable to think outside the box.  There are those who self-destruct on this challenge because, well.  It's a challenge.  The ones who fail here are those who lack imagination and vision.  They cannot imagine using something for a completely different purpose than its original intent.

Let me tell you something, bloggy friends.  Last week, I was thick in the midst of doing my one million and one drop off and pick ups of children to and from various places.  In the hours that I do this daily, it can be a time to think, reflect, and pray.  If I'm not silently dreaming of my pajamas and climbing into bed.

As I drove, I thought about a conversation with a friend whose child is a very non-traditional learner who is struggling to have her learning differences met.  And it dawned on me.

God is the grand champion of unconventional materials challenges.  The Creator of the Universe specializes in taking talents, gifts, and natural bents and using them to make unbelievable, unimaginable and beautiful things with them.  Where the world sees one thing, He can imagine a repurpose--a greater purpose.  A blow-your-socks-off-who-woulda-thunk purpose for that which the world overlooks.

Learning differences?  He sees an overcomer.  A uniquely wired treasure of a child who can encourage others and think in ways that others cannot.  God is no cookie cutter Creator.  He is the creative genius who can dream bigger and more amazing things than we can ever imagine from that which we feel limits us.  

Weaknesses and difficulties?  How about a guy who argues that he cannot speak being sent to convince the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go from captivity?  How about an old lady, well beyond child bearing years, giving birth to the one whose descendents are too numerous to count?  How about a heathen Midianite widow being grafted into the lineage of Christ?  Or how about a prostitute with the same legacy?  

Trials and tribulations wearing you down--making you feel useless and helpless?  How about three young men who refused to eat and drink as the culture of their day?  Refusing also to bow to an idol?  Being thrown into a fire.  And coming out not just alive.  But not even smelling like smoke.  How about a praying man thrown into a den of lions?  Coming out without a scratch.  Or a young little shepherd boy running headlong into victory against a giant?  

Wrap your brain around this, friends.  When it comes to unconventional materials challenge.  Think of these few examples.

How about the only Son of God, coming to earth as a human.  In the form of a tiny baby boy, born in a filthy stinky stable to an unwed mother?  Living to serve.  And dying a humiliating, detestable and very public death?  Through which all of mankind can find redemption and eternal life.  

A Savior who chose twelve ordinary men to become his confidantes.  And tax collectors to become his dinner companions.  And lepers and blind men and the lame to become his testimony.

We are so nearsighted.  We are like the Project Runway designers who cannot see the potentional, who cannot think outside the box.  We buy the lie from our culture that money and prestige and good looks are the ticket to success and rising to number one.  When God says give me the marginalized, the poor, the hungry, the naked, the rejected.  Give me the servants and the least.  Because these are the greatest.

We chase after temporary things and lose sight of the eternal riches.  We forget that our time here is just our training ground.  Our dress rehearsal.  For the real banquet and abundant living that will last forever.  We see our faults and bumps and bruises and scars.  We see our mess.  We see our failures.

But, God.  He sees unconventional materials.  And the incredible, breathtaking beauty that they have, just as they are.  He expertly sews and weaves it all together to make that which is unimaginable and mind blowing and wonderful.  

I don't care what your past is.  What your failures are.  What kind of mess you are living in or what kind of label the "experts" throw on you.

To the One who knit you together in your mother's womb, He sees nothing but potential.  Unconventional?  That's what makes it so amazing and beautiful and unique.  Let's embrace the unconventional materials that we are and bring them to the greatest Designer of All Time.  Let's surrender ourselves to His sovereign and glorious work of making all things beautiful.  Because He does.  He makes beautiful things out of us.

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