Monday, October 7, 2013


Today I'm going to talk about puppets.

Not hand puppets like Kermit or Miss Piggy.

Marionettes – puppets on strings.

My sons' father's grandparents were fascinated by them.   

They once visited a show put on by a famous puppeteer named Tony Sarg:

"Anthony Frederick Sarg (April 21, 1880 - February 17, 1942), known professionally as Tony Sarg, was a German American puppeteer and illustrator. He was described as "America's Puppet Master", and in his biography as the father of modern puppetry in North America.  In 1928, he designed, and his protégé Bil Baird built tethered heilium-filled balloons up to 125 feet (40 m) long, resembling animals, for the New York institution of Macy’s department store…these participated in the store's Thanksgiving Parade." - (from Wikipedia article)

Well, evidently Grandpa and Grandma S weren't content just being audience members.  They were very creative people, and were inspired by what they saw.  So they went home and decided to make some marionettes of their own.

Grandpa S set about to painstakingly hand-make the molds, and then to pour the plaster-like material into the molds.  Various body parts were then attached to each other.  Intricate workmanship that took hours was involved in stringing the inner mechanisms with black fishing line.

Marionettes are not simple projects.

Grandpa then painted the faces of the characters that he had created. Grandma S designed and sewed the little costumes.  The *troupe* had two sizes of marionettes – 24" and 36".  They had clever names like:

Patrick O'Toolea tap-dancing hobo
Sadie the Seal an acrobatic circus seal
Mr. Bonesan articulated skeleton who loved dancing
Eddie Somebody a banjo player extraordinaire

(Can you tell these were made in the 1930's??)

Grandpa and Grandma performed many shows, entertaining children and adults alike.

Eventually they included their only son, Jack, in the performances.  But alas, life has a way of happening, and after awhile, the marionettes were relegated to the garage.

Stored, but not forgotten.

There they sat, for many years, until the boys' father decided to bring them back alive.  Dusted off and re-strung, the troupe was once again ready to perform.

I'm sure many events were made a little more magical because of this wonderful traveling band of puppet entertainers.

One of the acts was performed by two circus clowns on parallel bars.  They were named "Mike and Ike."

It took a lot of practice to learn how to manipulate the strings.  It took a lot of time to learn the complicated routine.  It took even longer to perfect the ability to work in perfect unison.

So, there is a reason I'm remembering these marionettes today.

I'm thinking about what controls us.

Yes, we have been given the awesome and sometimes awful gift of free will.

We have the ability to make choices.

And yes, sometimes these choices are not good ones.  But I'm thinking about what lies behind the choices.  

The motives, the impulses, the compulsions.

What is it that pulls our strings?

In the book of Romans, Chapter 7, Paul has an interesting monologue about just that.  He talks about being controlled by our old sin nature.  He speaks of how we are slaves to the flesh.

About how we do what we don't want to do – and we don't do what we want to do.

But, are we just the helpless victims of imperfect motives, raging impulses, and forceful compulsions?

Are we hopelessly going through the motions under the control of the enemy's string-pulling?

No, we still have free will.

But without Jesus, that free will is terribly flawed.  That free will is still subject to the slavery of sin.  That free will is still ruled by self – and SELF is a terrible puppeteer.

As Paul lamented, "Oh, what a miserable person I am!  Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?"

Ah, but we have also been given another choice.

A choice to willfully turn from sin, and to put ourselves under the direction of the Lord.  We can freely choose Him as our Savior, and surrender our wills to His Holy Spirit.

We can yield our control to Someone else.

It isn't always easy.

It can take a lot of practice to learn how to release the strings.  It can take a lot of time to learn the complicated routine the Christian life isn't easy.  It can take even longer to perfect the ability to work in perfect unison with the Spirit's guidance.

But, the finished product can be a beautiful thing.

A creature moving at the behest of a Loving Master.

The One who holds the strings to the universe – and never lets go of mine.

Are you a puppet,
or are you alive in Christ? 

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin…God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins…those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.  But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace…you are not controlled by your sinful nature.  You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you." (From Romans 8, NLT)

Who or what is pulling your "strings"?

(***NOTE:  The above picture is NOT the marionettes.  I don't have photos of the marionettes, so I used the nutcrackers that the sons made when they were in 6th grade!!)

Linked today with:

Jen at UNITE
Darlene at TITUS 2SDAY
Gail at TGIF

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. I have a question about practice - when you want to become good at something - you have to practice and practice. Now why do some people get this and some people don't? Can you give or change someone and make them try harder?

  2. My very human strings keep getting tangled up and thwarting the efforts of my Master Puppeteer. :(

  3. I LOVE MARIONETTES!!! this captures my heart, Sharon ...

    This is fascinating and I like the twist you made for our spiritual lesson!

    What wonderful grandparents and such fun!

    My, oh, my so much for me in this one, so I'll be back and comment again. Meanwhile learning to let the Master Puppeteer (as Pam or you hinted to) take control after all, He has had much practice even with just me ... now If I'd only let Him untangle my strings and really move me gracefully ... and with ease. Ahhhh I certainly don't want the other puppeteer that got the strings all tangled to begin with ...

    My first purchase of a souvenir here where I now live was 3 marionettes: a peasant man, a dancing lady and an elderly man (how I wish that I could have gotten a Sadie the seal or a donkey-I wonder if they have those) ... well anyways, they were preserved in plastic bags in my upstairs closet in the fire that was protected by God miraculously because if they had been with so much of my other boxed treasures in the attic they would have been nothing more than ashes) ...

    Many blessings, much love, and ahhh some peace I pray...

    Ahhh, note that's Peggy (formerly called by many little people, Miss P.ggy) how could they not see or say the difference with Miss Piggy ... I'll never know...

    1. Ohh I meant to add this too ... I am far from a puppet on a string, way too rebellious and controlling myself to be a puppet for long for anyone but I will glad surrender to the Lovely Puppet Master rather than the one I readily allow to string me along and mess with me.

    2. And far too often I allow circumstances to pull my strings. Yes, I even have allowed "men" to string me along. All of us so easily are within the grasp of the enemy pulling our strings and using us or keeping us under poor choices and strings of selfish human ones ... sadly we allow the wrong puppeteer the control over us. How often we fall prey to the ones that Paul wisely wrote about ... (sigh) such a web we weave or are easily caught up in. May our strings be freed from the evil and evil one in Jesus' name, may we remember to whom we belong and how wonderful it is to trust Him with our strings and give Him control... really like how this one speaks to me. No condemnation only Holy Spirit conviction, will I accept. Thanks Sharon, hope you can delete my other messes! Love ya' and praying for Our Loving Puppet Master to tenderly heal the hurts of others and lift you up above being wounded. May you find rest and love in God today and this week to turn it all around. May He bear you up and carry you through as He delivers us from the manipulation of other's pulling our strings or tangling us up with hurtful words and actions unintentionally or intentionally, it still hurts and only the Healer can change this... I love you! Take care my sensitive sister Sharon!

  4. How neat that the grandparents years ago did something like this; I'm sure it was enjoyable for them and then enjoyable when the marionettes resurfaced. I like to think I'm alive in Christ, but I do have sometimes strings that get manipulated by wrong intention or direction on my part. Good thoughts today Sharon!


  5. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story about grandparents who loved to entertain children and others too. What a joy to be a part of their endeavor. I loved your illustration about the strings and our free will to make choices. Thank you for sharing with us here at :"Tell Me a Story."

  6. I loved the back story as much as the lesson, and the lesson was excellent. We did a study of that Romans 7 passage not long ago. I would have enjoyed sharing your analogy.

  7. Sharon I love this analogy. Definite food for thought. Wow. will go back and reread as it's early in the morning here. Want to get these nuggets of truth you shared in typical awesome Sharon style. Hugs.

  8. Good analogy Sharon. Free will... what a picture you painted with the marionettes. It's so obvious in my life when the strings are being pulled by him and not by me. A lesson for a lifetime.

  9. "The One who holds the strings to the universe – and never lets go of mine." Hallelujah, what a Savior!

  10. Appreciate your sharing this dear.

  11. I think about all the choices I have made and the great love of our Savior who let me decide. Or I think about my children and letting go of them to make their own decisions. We all have made good ones but bad ones, too. God's great love trickling down to us and saving us.

  12. A grinner. And definitely NOT a puppet Serving Him, trusting Him... that's all I can handle forever and ever. Thanks.

  13. Sharon you always come up with some of the best analogies.

  14. Hi Sharon - I know who I want to be pulling my strings. However I am not always a good puppet. Thank u for sharing this

  15. Dear Sharon
    This is so true. We can try as much as we want to to live a "holy and good". Life, but truth is we just cannot. BUT we have the ability to choose; and every time we choose our Lord Jesus to live His life in and through us and allow His grace to work, our lives change from glory to glory! What a great illustration you used with the puppets!
    Blessings XX

  16. My husband and I are children's pastors and we do puppets for our ministry. I love your analogy!

    Thanks for linking up with Word Filled Wednesday! God bless!

  17. Loved this, Sharon. The Baird Marionettes were the troupe that performed The Lonely Goatherd in The Sound of Music in 1964. I have a couple simple ones, but you are right - very difficult to master. Your metaphor works in relation to free will - and I think might be developed in a number of other ways, too.

    Now - did I get this right - these are your husband's grandparents? I tried to follow the family tree the way you explained it.

    Hope all is well - and joy is yours. I'm celebrating learning another new thing about WordPress and getting over a couple no-so-user-friendly obstacles today with my blog. Hooray! As we wait upon Him, even the secrets of drop down menus and hidden keys are discovered!


  18. Letting the Spirit control my mind--the secret to peace. That and practicing how to live as a Christian. Over and over again. Interesting that following our self will is being controlled by sin.
    Cute puppets and a lot of hard work. Think of how hard Christ works on us to get us to follow His moves which will bring joy to us and others.

  19. Hi Sharon! Your last line just sang in my brain, 'the one who holds the strings of the universe'. That was beautiful.

    Well, your family sure has some talents here! What an unusual thing to call to them. I don't think there are a lot of people who would be so encouraged, they would go out and pour molds, and learn the craft. Wow. That was a calling, is ever there way one.

    And evil does know how to pull our strings, that's for sure. I'm working on a blog post that has that theme. Why fall for that stuff? Well, we are human I guess. Even St. Paul can commiserate. But I do want the Lord to have my strings, all day, all my life.

    Great post, great read.

  20. Alive in Christ! Thanks for linking up this week; have a great weekend!

  21. Beautiful analogy! All too often I allow myself to be influenced by things and make the wrong choices. The irony is that that "free will" is actually slavery if we choose to act on our selfish needs and desires.

    Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions & Connect With God

  22. What an interesting story with insightful application. Thank you for contributing to Still Saturday. Have a great weekend!

  23. Beautifully insightful! Thank you for linking up to The Weekend Brew!

  24. Oh the joy when we know that we are safe to dangle by His strings of grace. That we can rest there, until God mobilizes us...that He is in control and that we don't need to trust any worldly vices to dictate what we do! Thanks Sharon, for being such a faithful reader of my blog! Can't tell you how much I appreciate you!

  25. Thanks for linking to Sunday Stillness. I love puppets and marionettes. Children love them too. I remember Casey and Finnigan on Mr. DressUp. Your analogy to who holds the strings is a very good one.


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

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