"This illness is to fatigue,
what a match is to a nuclear bomb.
It's an absurd mischaracterization!"
~Laura Hillenbrand

May 12, 2007

Fun or Godliness?

Oh my goodness.... I have hit the wall - and hard!

Wednesday nights, Bill and I usually have a nice little date night together because the kids are at youth group. This week, I was dying to get out of the house and take a little walk in the beautiful spring weather. So we did... we walked about 3 blocks...

By the time I got home, I was shaking, had goosebumps and shivers, my face was numb, my head pounding and my stomach nauseous. I sat, like a lump on a log (as my mom used to say) the rest of the night.

On Friday, Bill and I went to Home Depot. (Our lawnmower finally gave out after a good 20 years of service!) I had a little bit of spending money from some of my art sales, but because it was in my art account, I had to go with Bill to Home Depot to buy a lawnmower. Afterwards, I was horribly worn out... but also had a meeting in the afternoon with Ellen and her school advisor (she homeschools, but we partner with a school that gives us an advisor and a HS diploma through the school district). I was so sick by the time I got home....

The only thing that helped was a soak in the hot tub... bringing my "out of control" body temperature back to a more normal place and relaxing the sore and tight muscles. But even then... all I could do the rest of the evening was sit and watch a movie (thank you Stacey for loaning me "Dreamer")

Needless to say... I AM NOT HAVING FUN....

Fun... that used to be what my whole life was about! Having fun! Of course, as I grew up, I discovered that I had to do some things that weren't fun... but it's in my blood... make things fun.... do what is fun... if it's not fun - do something else!

When I think back to childhood, I think of... freedom, fresh air, skinned knees, cartwheels, roller skates, freedom, bicycles, swimming, friends, kickball, freedom, softball, grape soda, twirling on the bars, tennis, freedom... FUN!

I was free to have fun. And I did!

But recently, I was thinking about how most children these days, don't get to experience the freedoms I did. It's like I lived in another world.

Today's children are restricted by society's decline. They are restricted in school for their safety. They are restricted in their play for their safety. They are restricted in what they eat for their safety. It's sad in some ways, and yet, the restrictions come from love and concern for them. We want them to live and to thrive!

California Poppies - ACEO
Copyright M. Pruitt 2007

I grew up in California. These beautiful golden poppies grew everywhere! They grew like weeds! But I also remember the day that I was told "You can NOT pick the poppies! It's illegal!"Picking California poppies is restricted in California.... why? To protect the poppies! If everyone picked them, they wouldn't be able to seed themselves and grow everywhere!

Though it may seem sad that our children are more restricted than we used to be... I realized that it's a lot like the poppies. We protect them, so that they can grow and become the beautiful people we know they can be.

God treats us the same way - for the great purpose of helping us become the best we can be!It says in the Bible, in Hebrews 12,

"God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. "

And it's right... at times, restrictions don't feel like much fun... but what do I want more? Fun, or a mature relationship with God??? Well... at times I'm tempted to say fun.... but what I really really want in life is to be the person God created me to be. And I welcome his guidance to become just that!

So, even as I pray for healing, I accept this wall that slams me in the face... this time of not having fun, as a time for growth - spiritual growth. If it leads me to a more mature relationship with him... it's worth it.

Pray with me, that you and I will accept the challenges, and discipline, and guidance God gives us through our hard times, so that we can become more like his son and more mature in our relationship with Him - our beloved Father.

May 7, 2007

Hanging On

This winter, I began a period of decline in energy and brain function. I know, many of you don't see it... that's because I hide away... taking meds to get me out for a short period of time to look somewhat normal.

But what you don't know, is that most days... it takes me several hours of taking in liquids before I can function and even then, it's only for about 2 hours and then I am ready for a nap. And when I say function, I mean I can sit in my recliner, read and write to some friends online or paint.

Sometimes, I begin to lose paitence with this kind of life. One day, in the midst of frustration, I looked out the window during a rain storm. All the leaves had fallen off our Cherry Tree, except one little leaf. I sat there and watched and watched... but through the wind and rain... it hung on.

I thought about how much I want to be like that little leaf. I want to have endurance. I want to be strengthened by God to "hang in there". I want patience through the storm.

That little leaf reminded me of my goals and so I painted this little ACEO (that stands for Art Cards Editions and Originals - it's 2.5"x3.5" - trading card size. I sell a lot of them on eBay) It's titled, "Hanging On".

In the book of Colossians, Paul prays for the people saying...

"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 10-12)

You could pray these words for me. Many days, I expereince great contenetment and peace with my situation. But I continually need others who will lift me up and ask for God to give me endurance, patience and joy.

"Hanging On" through His Grace,

May 3, 2007

Quiet Moments With God

Many of you have heard me talk about staying committed to spending time alone with God. For me, it is critical to my spiritual stability. I used to love my early quiet mornings with a hot cup of coffee... getting out my bible, reading scripture and journaling on what God showed me in His word.

But with my recent years of illness, I've experienced a whole new variety of ways this can be accomplished. For a period of time... my quiet moments with God occurred in my Hot Tub. As I soaked sore muscles, I spent many hours crying out to him... listening for him and hearing His soft gentle voice drawing into a deeper love for Him as scripture I'd memorized earlier, replayed in my mind.

Later, I experienced times of quiet as I laid awake at night... listening to a special CD that spoke my heart to God and His heart to me (Kathy Troccoli's "Comfort" CD).

As I found myself lacking in and desiring to worship I began listening to KT's worship CD. But I wasn't able to read or write much (still have many days like this). So, a friend loaned me her Bible tapes and I also started my day listening to God's word.

Then I got an iPod for Christmas! I was able to put all my favorite worship songs on it and even bought a few special songs, we often sing at church, off i-tunes. Though it's not the same as hearing my church family sing and Jeremy lead worship... I can still worship with all of my favorite music any time of day or night, even when I can't make it to church for weekend services!

Recently, I have been starting my day by praying with a couple of friends online and then visiting one of my favorite art groups. It has a thread titled "I am thankful for..." I really enjoy this thread. Most days, I start my day by posting something I am thankful for.

But there are days that I can't think of something to be thankful for. On those days... I go into the thread and read what everyone else has written. As I read about the thankfulness of others... it leads me into my own thankfulness.

Thankfulness leads me to contentment. And contentmet leads me to peace and quietness in my soul.

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

The painting above is titled "Quiet Country". It comes completely from my imagination. But as I experience peace and quiet in my soul... I imagine it to feel like this painting. I can picture myself sitting here... hearing God's voice singing around me - through the sounds of the breeze in the trees, the bubbling creek, distant sheep and singing birds, and through the smells of fresh grass and wildflowers. And His voice quiets my heart with his love.

I hope, you too, will experience a moment of quiet and peace today, and experience God's voice singing and rejoicing over you.

May 2, 2007

Disappointment and Mercy

What a disappointment this week has been. In March, I traveled back to Ohio to visit the specialst I saw there last year. He gave me a new medication and we began at the lowest dose and have slowly increased it. By the third increase - I found I had a great week! Not a lot of physical energy, but my brain woke up and I was able to paint again!

But then the effects have tapered off and this week I am back to where I was before. But the biggest disappointment is that I had hoped this might be one of those "good" weeks, because I have my very first personal art Exhibit. The opening is this Friday, May 4 and I must be there for four hours to greet visitors and talk art.

But the beautiful mercies of God overshadow the disappointments. The hanging of my art came several days earlier than I had planned. I had so much to do yesterday that my body was literally shaking and felt like it was going to dissintegrate. But God mercifully held me up and reminded me to rely on his strength - even as my strength failed.

A wonderful friend, along with Bill, came to my aid and hung all the paintings for me. They are dispalyed beautifully and much easier than I imagined it would be.

God continues to remind me that I have chosen my painting times as times of worship and love for Him - and he chooses how and when they will touch someone's heart. Through my weakness I am reminded that He is the author of all beauty, all power and all real success. He is the Master artist and I am his creation.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared in advance for you to do." EPHESIANS 2:10

Pray that my art touches the hearts of those who view it and that it will draw them closer to a true relationship with Him. And, of course, you could ask him to strengthen me for Friday night!

And if you'd like to see the Exhibit it is being held in Columbia Dance Center, May 1- May 31, at 1700 Broadway, one block east of Main St., downtown Vancouver (WA). And of course I'd love to have you visit me on Friday May 4 between 5:00 - 9:00pm for the opening!