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

September 30, 2007

An update

I've had quite a few emails and messages from caring friends, wondering how I'm doing. I haven't been heard from much in the past two weeks... not much email, not much online chatting, no blogging, and not even much eBay group visits.

So, I thought it only fair to all those who have been concerned, to give a quick update.

I have been quite down and out this past couple of weeks. Don't know why or what is going on - may just be one of those cyles I have to endure.

Last week, I saw both my Family physican and the Nuerologist (who I see about once a year). Both are concerned and strongly encouraged me to take advantage of an offer I've had to go back to Vanderbilt University.

I will be having some nerve testing this next week - at the same time and in the same building that Bill will be seeing a Rheumatologist for probably RA (a condition he's suffered with for years, but we've decided it's time to get it under control with medication).

The nerve testing can be pretty painful - but will be very helpful in discerning the cause of some of my newest symptoms. She also ran a battery of tests through bloodwork which will also be helpful.

After long, hard processing, prayer and consideration, Bill and I have decided that the very difficult trip to Vanderbilt is our best option right now. The specialists there are up to date on all the current research and there is one doctor in particular that I really connected with when I was there in July of 2006.

However, unlike July 2006, there is no way I can make the trip myself. I am even concerned about how I will do traveling with help. So Bill will have to travel there with me, come home, travel there again to pick me up and travel home again. Poor guy - what a sweet husband I have!

I will be there as a study patient again - though for very different research. I will get the sleep study I so badly need, under the watchful eye of a ANS specialist. I will participate in several other studies including one that has been recently funded by the CFS Association to research the connection between CFS and ANS dysfunction. But the best part is that my favorite doctor will be there the whole time and I will be able to pepper him with my questions.

I don't leave until November so I'll be blogging again - several times, I hope - before I leave. But this is the latest news in my life,living with a strange, unusual, and, as of yet, undefined chronic illness.

You can pray especially for my "Patient Endurance". It's been down in the lowest numbers lately. Pray for my relationships with all my loved ones and that I will continue to strive in my Primary and Secondary callings in life: to Love God and to Love others.

Thank you for checking in on me!
(No, sorry... no new art to show this time. BUT... be watching! I have a friend traveling through Italy on a garden tour right now and she's taking lots of pictures for me to paint! I can't wait!!!)



PS: Do any of you have a MySpace page? I have one Click Here I just updated my page with a beautiful fall background!

September 17, 2007

God is Good

My soul is at rest - for the moment. My heart is content - for the moment.

But it's a constant struggle to stay that way. I continue to reread the verses below, and cling to Hope - not hope in being healed or in everyting getting fixed, but Hope in God - my source of strength and endurance.

Many, many years ago, I read a wonderful book by Larry Crabb titled "Finding God". It's a great book with a challenging message - "Do you really believe that God is good?"

I've been challenged - ever since reading that book - to recognize God's goodness. But of course, during the hard times it can be difficult.

I've noticed though, that people in difficult times, are still able to say "God is good", but the disconcerting thing to me is that it is always a phrase that is used when something happened that we wanted to happen - a surprise, a positive change, an unexpected gift... these things are what lead us to say "God is good".

Back then, I thought that people should be able to say that God is good - even when life stinks. I wondered if I would ever be able to do such a thing.

Well, yesterday, in the midst physical pain and fatigue, in the midst of lonliness and loss, I heard myself say - "God is so good". I actually shocked myself. Nothing good had happened - no new answers - I wasn't feeling better - I hadn't won any prizes... The only thing that had happened was that I had read God's words in the Psalms of David. And my mouth uttered the words "God is good".

Wow! Something I had always hoped about myself, was shown to be true. I CAN praise God when things STINK! I DO believe God is good - no matter what circumstances I find myself in. I greatly rejoice in learning this about myself! And I wanted to share it, in case it encourages others to believe in His goodness - even in the midst of their own dark valley's!


***


I also want to share something else about my life. I said above that I am lonely. That is only at certain moments. One great thing God has done for me through this illness, is to provide me with new friends. Though I've been removed from the normal society of church and dance studio friends - he's provided me with awsome online friends.

Art has become a big part of my "sitting down" life, and on eBay I have found a place to chat and spend time with other artists. I just posted this on my art blog, but I'd like to share it here too!


***


I've long admired Amy's art! She and I are both Washingtonians and we belong to several eBay art groups together. So when the chance came along for me to do a collaboration with her, I, timidly, accepted.

What fun it has been!

First, we each began an ACEO (2.5"x3.5") on hot press Artistico watercolor paper. We both use watercolor and ink in our work as well as watercolor pencils and occaisional other media.

Then, we mailed the half finished ACEO to the other one, and we completed each other's ACEO's!

Starting one wasn't as scary as receiving one! I thought a lot about the animals and style that Amy loves to do and so I began with, what I hoped, would be the perfect springboard for her creativity.

Here's what I sent to her:

















Here is what Amy sent to me:



















It sat a few days while my mind whirled with a few ideas. I kept looking at those two cats... they seemed to say to me "What?????" with quite an attitude. I thought about what it was they might be doing - one on top of the other. Suddenly, the completed painting came into my head. A fish tree... they were attempting to pick the fish and got caught!

Here's the finished ACEO:
"Picking Fish"



It's up for auction on eBay - you can click here to go to my auctions.

Amy has put her completed ACEO up for action too! Here's the completion of the half I sent her:
"Tree of Life"



Click Here to go to Amy's auction! A link to her blog is on my art blog if you are interested in more of her art!

Thanks Amy - this was a lot of fun!

September 11, 2007

HOPE




I am in several art groups on eBay. It gives me a great place to learn, make friends and talk art. eBay has recently "upgraded" their groups. One of the best additions is that each person can have a personal avatar - a small picture that represents them on each post they make in the group. This is especially fun in an art group full of creative people! Some of us have one avatar that we never change - others change their avatars often! I like change so I fall in the second group LOL!


This is my newest avatar. I painted this in the middle of my last 5 month down time. As I watched this little leaf holding on through the storms - I was reminded and encouraged to keep clinging to God and hanging on during my most difficult days.


I've hit another down time... don't know how long it will last, and it's worse than the last one which still scares me a bit.


BUT - I am clinging to HOPE!


Right now, my signature (siggy) on the bottom of every post I make on eBay reads "No wonder my heart is glad and my paintbrush sings. My body rests in HOPE!"


Here are some great statements of Hope that I am holding tight to, resting in, and rereading when I get scared. I hope they encourage you too! (most are Bible verses - but not all!)


Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD

~Psalm 31:24


“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.”

~George Iles


But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love

~Psalm 33:18


May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you

Psalm 33:22


Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 45:5 AND 11


"If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it mens that they are being purified"

~Oswald Chambers


Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 62:5


But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more

Psalm 71:14


I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope

Psalm130:5


O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption

Psalmn130:7


"The law works fear and wrath; grace works hope and mercy."

~Martin Luther


But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint

Isaiah 40:31


I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:19-23


The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Lamentations 325-26


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12


I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him

Romans 15:13


What a wonderful excercise this has been. Reminders I need to carry with me moment by moment. I hope you are encouraged too.







September 7, 2007

A Perfect Comparison

I read this on a website recently and it really hit home:

"This illness is to fatigue what a nuclear bomb is to a match. It’s an absurd mischaracterization."
~Laura Hillenbrand, bestselling author of Seabiscuit


Wow - what a great way to say it! I talk about being fatigued and even the most compassionate, loving people imagine I am being burned by a match - when, what I am really talking about is living through a nuclear bomb!


On the sad side of things... I have really hit bottom this week in fatigue. This means even conversations are a strain.


But on the more positive side of things, I have found another very easy art to do. It is called needle felting. It takes very little energy and I have even made two ACEO's this week! Here's one that's up for auction on eBay this week!






I can do these little needle felting designs easily while I listen to my audiobooks - I just received a George MacDonald and CS Lewis book from the library PLUS a couple of my friends have been passing around a good audiobook and it's my turn to listen to it!


Prayer requests? Well... patient endurance... and guidance in medical decisions.


Thanks for praying for me and checking in!



PS: If you want to know more about how I do these needle felted ACEO's - check out my art blog click here. Oh and BTW - just in case you didn't know - and ACEO is a miniature piece of art that measures 2.5"x3.5" , just like a trading card. They are very collectable!

September 2, 2007

It is NOT well with my body...

It's been hard to follow my last post. My body is not doing well and though it IS still well with my soul - my heart grieves as I face this time of difficult, new and debilitating symptoms.


There's not much I can tell you. I have new joint pain. One day last week, my legs were so shaky and weak I couldn't get up the steps into my house. Today is the first day in week that I've even felt able to process enough words to add anything to my blog.


Am I scared? Yes.
Am I content? No.
I wish I could switch these answers...


Am I thankful? YES! At least I can say I AM thankful!!!


I am thankful that my friend Melissa has survived yet another bought with Sepsis. (This is a picture of Melissa and I when I was able to spend a couple of hours with her in Ohio this March). I am thankful for my computer and I am thankful that I have been given faithful and loving friends, like Emily, and Kristen, and Katey and Patti. They pray for me, process with me, laugh with me and cry with me. I am thankful for all the fun and wonderful art supplies around me. I am thankful that the library will mail me all kinds of educational videos. I'm thankful for a daughter who cooks for our family, a son who will take care of all kinds of needs around the house and a daughter who brought me a huge and delicious piece of chocolate cake! I'm thankful for my faithful husband. I am thankful for my recliner chair and my soft bed and pillows. I am thankful for medications.


There is so much to be thankful for!


I know God will help me with my fears and my contentment. He continues to remind me of my Primary calling in life - to LOVE HIM!


So today - I listened to one of my favorite online preachers - Alastair Begg of Parkside Church in Cleveland Ohio. He has such a wonderful Scottish accent and such powerful and truthful teachings. I am in the process of listening to a series called "The Strength of Weakness".... pretty apropos don't you think?


You can hear Alastair on the Truth for Life website http://truthforlife.com/


Thank you for checking in on me and reading my blog. You can pray for me to patiently endure this down time, to have wisdom in pursuing medical help, and that, soon, I could again answer "No, I'm not scared" and "Yes, I am content".