Fine Art Pens

 
 

In 2002 on June 1st we crossed the Texas border into Mexico. With our two babies and our truck packed with our belongings we drove from Tennessee to Jalisco to begin an adventure of a lifetime. I will be the first to say that life as a full-time faith based missionary has not always been easy. In fact it has often been difficult beyond belief. But God is faithful and has sustained and blessed us along the way. In light of our ever increasing financial needs as a family of 6, we have been working on some “tent making” endeavors to try and increase our personal financial support. As an artist, Rodney has honed his skills and is hand crafting wooden ink pens from exotic woods. We are selling them to supplement our income. 

Please check out some of his pens at our new website. 
http://www.fineartpens.com

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Labor & Rest: a delicate balance

I’ve suffered from fatigue since I was a teenager. I have no idea if it was early onset of fibromyalgia or something else, but I can remember being bone tired and sleeping for days during holidays and vacations from school. When I was in College I would actually sleep through an hour of my alarm clock sounding and then continue sleeping, missing my first class all together. At that time, it never dawned on me there there is a delicate balance between work and rest. In recent years I have been more and more convinced that God’s Sabbath mandate of rest is a gift which many in our generation (me included) have neglected to unwrap. 
This week I was re-reading an article in TableTalk magazine (February 2015 edition). The magazine cover caught my attention with its’ bold title “Labor and Rest: Finding the Right Balance”. As I opened the cover and read the editor, Burk Parsons’ article, entitled ALL THINGS WELL, I was met with fascinating thoughts about balancing labor and rest/ ministry and family. Here is an excerpt which particularly caught my attention. “Both labor and rest are creation ordinances given to us by God before the fall, they are given to us for our good and for God’s glory, and God calls us to work hard so that we can rest hard. By God’s design, the most revolutionary thing we could do in our busy, fast-paced society is take one day every week to rest and worship with our family and friends. However, we are living in a generation that doesn’t rest well because it doesn’t know what it really means to work hard, play well and say no to various opportunities and activities. And too often, the culprit is the local church that programs its people with so many activities that people have no time left to spend with their families and friends to enjoy life together and rest together- let alone take care of widows and orphans.”
I had never considered rest as something that brings God glory. Have you?
Do you plan rest into your weekly schedule?
Are you able to say no to various opportunities and activities in order to honor God with your rest?
What do you think about the idea that at times church activities keep us so busy that it often doesn’t leave time for rest…let alone time for taking care of widows and orphans?
Have you ever been involved in a church like this? Are you currently involved in one? (If so, is that ok?)
Rest is essential for us in order to live a healthy life. In our fast paced world, saying no may be difficult. In fact it may be a skill that is only honed through practice, but including rest into your weekly routine is not only a healthy choice but God honoring. 
I would love to hear your thoughts & how you incorporate rest into your week.  

  

Living with Fibro

Many people ask me what it’s like living with fibromyalgia. In honor of today, May 12, Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, I thought I would try to put it into words. 
I saw a pin on Pinterest the other day which I think sums it up. 
  

(This is how I feel on a bad day!)
On a average day…

I have total body pain-all the time.  

Sometimes the pain is in my bones, other times it is in my muscles and sometimes it is in my skin. The intensity of said pain changes and moves from place to place without rhyme or reason. 

  
I first noticed aching & weakness in my arms and hands, then followed by my legs and feet. I also fell two times in the span of a few months. Seems I slightly drag my right foot. 

My hands often have no strength. 

The palms of my hands burn. 

The bottoms of my feet ache when they touch my shoes. 

My fingers throb. 

My joints are stiff and painful. 

When I wake I feel like rigor mortis has set in. Sometimes after sitting for long periods of time, my joints don’t want to move. 

I wake up at night because the pressure of the weight of my body touching the bed feels like pins and needles shooting into me. 

My skin burns and my eye balls throb & sometimes even my hair hurts. 

  

The rims of my ears feel like they have needles sticking in them, especially at night when I sleep on my side & the weight of my head is on my ear. 
Sometimes when I’m talking with you, if I seem distracted, it’s because “the voice of pain” is often much louder than yours. 
I am forgetful & often can’t concentrate….They call it Fibro fog- I found it fascinating that it has a name. I think Fibro Fog exists because at times the pain can be so very distracting. 
In addition to the pain, I am tired all of the time. I’ve heard it described as a tiredness that sleep can not cure…. I would agree. 

  
I’m exhausted, but often can’t sleep. Many days by 3PM, I struggle to keep my eyes open.  I can actually feel my body running out of energy, like a car that is running out of gas. 

My “power nap” is 3 hours, not 30 minutes. And often it takes a lot of effort to pull myself back to the “land of the living” after that power nap. 
The strange thing about Fibromyalgia is, that it is a silent Illness. When you see me, I am usually doing well. If I am not doing well, I usually don’t leave the house. 

No one, except my immediate family knows the time and sleep that it takes for me to recover from a social event. It’s almost time for time. 

Many people say, “You don’t look sick”.  Look closer….sometimes my face is smiling, but my eyes are not. 

Sometimes I look fresh in the afternoon or evening, because I have just gotten out of bed for the second time that day. 

I joke and say, I get two days for every one. Because after I have crashed mid-day, I often wake, shower and start my day again in the evening. (It’s amazing what a fresh coat of make-up will do for you.) 
Speaking of make-up, it is essential on those “high pain” days. When none of the meds or essential oils can keep the pain at bay and the edge in my voice may convince you that I am mad or irritated with you. I’ve discovered that others, especially those closest to me, have much more grace for me if I have actually taken the effort to “look like something”. If I have showered, put on “my face” and have gotten dressed for the day. (And, No!, yoga pants do not count!)

  
What’s difficult about having Fibromyalgia…..

Hurtful comments by those who are uneducated. 

Not being able to do the things I did before. 

Missing life with my husband and children. 

Having to choose between what I want to do and what I have to do. Being limited to doing a fraction of the things I once could. 

Always having to calculate how much energy it will take to accomplish a task, even when the task is something fun & enjoyable. 

Living with 24/7 pain & remembering that life wasn’t always this way. 

  
What I’ve learned living with Fibro….

The pain reminds me that I am alive. 

I cherish life much more than I did before. 

I have had to streamline my activities…it helps me learn to say “no”. 

I rarely overcommit. 

I must prioritize. 

Some things I want to do, I can’t do. 

Most things I don’t want to do, I don’t have to do. 

I must be aware of how much energy I have left & therefore must pace myself. 

I don’t have the luxury to get really mad….if I do I always have to pay a very high price for that anger. (It is never worth it!)

I must rest!!

I must exercise!

I must eat well!

I must spend time with The Lord. As His word says, 

“The joy of The Lord is my strength.”

Honestly, having Fibromyalgia is NO fun. But I have learned to be content in my circumstances. I choose to not focus on the bad, but to praise God for the good. 
  

When He said “No”. 

When He said “No”, it felt like my world was crashing in around me. I was devistated, angry and became  bitter. My reaction to His omnipotete decision set in motion a chain of events which effected me to my core.
I’ve heard that almost everyone who suffers from fibromyalgia can pinpoint a trigger, an event that happened in their lives which caused Fibro to begin. Losing Faith was my trigger. Her name was Faith and when she died that day, my faith in God almost died with her. After her death, I spent a lot of time asking God, “Why?”.
One of those “why” questions goes like this, “If God is loving, then why do bad things happen to good people.” I must have asked this question a thousand times. But what I failed to realize was that this statement assumes two things. The first assumption is that people are basically good. The second assumption is that the difficulties of life are the worst things which could possible happen to us.
Regarding the first, the Bible tells us that ALL have sinned. It is also very clear that we all deserve to be punished for our sins. In essence there are no good people. We are all undeserving sinners. None of us are entitled to continual blessing…all sunshine without rain. 
Secondly, we falsely assume that the worst things that happen to us are the difficulties we face in life; loosing a child, having cancer, filing bankruptcy. When in fact the worst thing that can happen to us has nothing whatsoever to do with temporal circumstances but rather eternal ones. The absolute worst thing which can happen to us would be to live our lives apart from God and spend a hellish eternity banished from His presence. 
Because of God’s great love for us, He chose to pay our death sentence. Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross He payed the penalty for our sins and bought the right for us to become sons and daughters of God. It is remarkable that God would love mankind so much that He would give His own Son to pay a penalty which He did not owe. Because God loves us and wants to spend Eternity with us, He sacrificed to make that dream a reality. Although this is clearly the action of a loving God, in our finite comprehension we often misunderstood and reject Him, accusing Him of not caring for us, when life doesn’t go as we desire. 
Since God’s thoughts and ways are more complex than ours we often fail to realize that He is much more interested in our personal character and our relationship with Him than He is our immediate comfort.  God allows trials and hardships in our lives which no doubt cause many to realize their need for Him and consequently come into His loving arms. When God allows difficulties in our lives, it is not because He doesn’t care about us, on the contrary it is a demonstration of His deep love for us and desire for our greater good. 
It took a while for me to quit wallowing in pity and to realize God’s great plan for me. By saying “No” , He was able to get my attention. Little by little, I became teachable. I realized that I had loved the idea of God more than I actually loved Him. Eventually I let go of my anger and fell in love with Him. Like Jacob who wrestled with God and walked with a limp afterwords, I too walk with a limp. Fibromyalgia is my constant reminder of God’s faithfulness and love for me. It keeps me ever aware that I am not self sufficient and therefore highlights my  need for Him. It also reminds me that God’s love for me is so great that He would allow temporary discomfort in my life which constantly draws me into His loving arms. 

(May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month.)

  

He said “No”!

I was five months pregnant and my baby died….I remember the excitment as I neared the day for my ultrasound, but when I woke early that morning I was feeling sluggish.  After I got out of bed, I discovered that I was bleeding and knew that was not a good sign. I called my doctor who suggested I go to the ultrasound immediately. I wasn’t prepared when they told me that they could not find a heartbeat. 

I left the clinic in disbelief and headed home. While on the phone with my doctor, he asked if I wanted to go to the hospital immediately or wait a few days. It was the day before Zion’s birthday and I just couldn’t bare having a still born on her special day. Besides, I had great faith that God would raise my baby back to life. So, instead of heading to the hospital,  I choose to wait. 
Later that afternoon some pastor friends came over and we prayed, we asked God to revive that precious life within me. At the end of our prayers we went together to have a second ultrasound. Call me crazy, but, I fully expected to see that blinking heart on the monitor. I wanted to be able to tell of God’s documented miracle on our behalf. When that didn’t happen I was shocked and devistated. Little by little the hurt turned to bitterness. 
I have always been a woman of faith believing God to take care of me and meet my needs. Doesn’t His Word say that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed that you can ask whatever you want and it will be given to you? What was wrong? Why was this promise not working? I was so confident that He would give me a great story of faithfulness to shout from the roof tops. And when it didn’t happen as I hoped it would, I was angry. 
I’ve heard people claim that God doesn’t answer prayers.  And if they are referring to the fact that God doesn’t always give us whatever we ask for, then perhaps they are right. But God is not a genie in a bottle waiting to grant our every wish. Instead, He is an all powerful God whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours. His wisdom far outreaches ours and his knowledge is beyond compare. He knows what experiences will help build our character and ultimately draw us closer to Him. And that is far more important to Him than granting our every desire. 
Just yesterday my youngest daughter asked me if she could drink a soda before bed. Knowing that it would keep her awake at night and possibly cause her to wet the bed, my answer was wait until lunch time tomorrow. My older daughter asked if she could go to a friends house after school. Although we don’t normally go to friends homes on school nights, she needed to finish a school project, so the answer was yes. Yet another daughter was invited to a special event with a friend on Friday during the day. Because she had an exam at school that day, it would not be prudent for her to miss school so my answer was, no. When I answer my daughters petitions, I normally have 3 possible answers: Yes, No and Later. I believe that God also responds to our request using these same answers. 
It took a while for me to realize that God DID answer my prayer that day.  Although I didn’t get the answer I was hoping for, I learned that God is more than a puppet on a string saying yes to my every request. He is wise and all knowing. Through His infinite wisdom He is always faithful to answer our prayers. Sometimes He says, “yes” and sometimes He says “later”,but that day, He said “No”!