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

August 12, 2007

It IS Well With My Soul

Last Saturday Evening during our church service, we sang this hymn "It is Well With my Soul" by Horatio Spafford. It has a great story behind it and I will give you a link at the bottom of this entry so you can read the story yourself.

But as the people around me were singing, I started sketching. This piece of Folk Art was forming in my brain.

As I worked on it this week, I realized that I live fully in both the top and bottom half. A huge storm swirling around me - but peace in my heart because all is well in my soul.

But I also realized something else about myself. Though I hint at, and most everyone knows there are changes and challenges in my life - I actually attempt to hide the storm side of things. That's not a very honest depiction of my life AND it lessens the impact and truth of the peace that lies deep in my soul.

I'm having a very difficult time standing up right now. My heart rate races and my head spins. When I'm sitting down I feel like I'm in between a dream world and the real world.

So this blog entry is an attempt to be more real - more honest about the storm at the top of my artwork, in a desire to emphasize the peace and joy God puts in my heart.

Lots of people think I look and sound great. And I do - for a few minutes! But that's because I can exert my happy energy for a short time - sometimes even for a half hour or so. But, even though that happy face and voice are REAL - afterwards, my body rebels. The side of my face goes numb and if I try talking too long, my words begin to jumble, my lips shake and I feel weak and exhausted.

Yesterday, our church had a parking lot party - an outreach to our neighborhood. I hated for Bill to go to one more thing alone, so we decided - though very uncomfortable for both of us - we would go with the wheelchair!

It was very fun for me. Fun to be by Bill's side at a church function. Fun to see the activity and say Hi to several people I hardly ever see. I even sat in the shade and had a really nice visit with an old friend!

We had a nice talk - but I think she could tell I was wearing out by the end. And sure enough... I was down for the rest of the day. I didn't fake my enjoyment and my enthusiasm - but it did cost me a lot. These type of situations cost me a storm of symptoms for hours and sometimes days afterwards!

I'm not complaining! I'm trying to be honest. It's hard for me to be honest about my health storm. I like to take lots of medications - go out in public for a short time and "look" normal... and then hide while the storm overtakes my body.

But if I always do that - how will you know how true the words to this hymn are in my life?

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

In one of my favorite books in the bible, one of Jesus' followers said:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Philippians 4:12

This is what my art piece is trying to say... I know the storms, the hardships, the grief that I must go through in this life. And I know the peaceful, fulfilling, joyous times. Whichever is my lot - at any particular moment in life - it's OK. Because, my soul- the center of who I am, is safe in God's hands. And nothing, not storm nor plenty can that away from me!

If you'd like to read more about the author of this hymn and his amazing experience just prior to writing it Click Here

PS: This Art Piece is up for auction Aug 12 -19 Click Here

August 9, 2007

Showing Understanding and Kindness

My husband, Bill, is a Pastor and has been teaching a short series on Psalm 23. It's been a very fun series - especially as we process together some of the issues like "fear".

But I only tell you this to set up a different story I wanted to share. It's always very important to me to get to church when he's speaking. But as I wrote in my last update - I'm not doing very well. However, I do have some medications I can take very occaisionally, that help me get out and stand up for a little while.

I was able to make it to church this week and really enjoyed Bill's message. But I was very very tired by the end. It's quite a long walk from my seat to the car. Sadly this often means I breeze by many old friends with a quick wave.

This week, two women stopped me. They were so excited to see me - it warmed my heart - though my heart rate was flying and things were spinning and I was hoping I could make it to the car with out stumbling or fainting.

But as I stopped and gave them each a quick greeting, I explained that I just couldn't stand any longer and I was sorry that I couldn't stay and talk.

To my surprise, they both offered to sit down on the ground with me. I quickly sat and they both sat with me. So there we were - the three of us - sitting on the ground in the middle of the huge new entryway to our new church buiding. We had a nice chat and it was so refreshing to get caught up with a few old friends.

Now that it true kindness and compassion. I have never felt more understood by someone outside of my own family than I did that morning. All I had to say was "I can't stand up anymore" and they both sat down with me!

Thank you two!!!! (you know who you are!)

Love Melanie

PS: If you want to hear these great Psalm 23 messages Click Here and go to the "Sermon's Online at the top. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have!!!