Life is Hard!

I am a strong believer that God uses everything that happens in life to teach us something about Himself if we will just listen to His Spirit and allow Him to instruct us. Then I search God’s Word to see what God has specifically said regarding what the Spirit has impressed upon my mind.

I am a pen turner and I love to work at my lathe. I have learned many things about life as I work at my lathe. Each step of the process in turning a piece of wood or antler into a pen is painful to the material with which I am working. The process includes cutting, drilling, shaping, sanding, polishing, friction, and pressure. But when the process is complete the material has been transformed; it has new beauty, value, and purpose. Something of little value now has greater value, all because it endured a painful process! Life is full of difficulties and it easy to become overwhelmed. But there is a purpose behind each hardship; they are all part of a process to shape and mold us into some of greater value and purpose. My desire in writing this blog is to encourage and maybe stir up some conversation with the lessons that God has been teaching me through the painful process of life. Life is hard, but God is good. May He continue working His process in my life.

If you are going to read any of my posts be sure to ready "Introduction to Lessons from the Lathe". In that post I lay out the basis for all the other blogs.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Certification Test Quickly Approaching

Greetings friends. It has been a pleasure to be able to write positive and upbeat updates again. God has been doing amazing things in my life and the life of our family and I can't help but rejoice and praise Him for it. Not that God hasn't always been at work and doing what is best for our family, even in the worst of times; I was just too consumed with "my problems" to recognize His presence.

My health has been much better lately. I enjoy being active again. Walking, either on the treadmill or with Brenda early in the morning, is something to which I look forward each day. I am rediscovering how good your body can feel after a little exertion.

I am enjoying rising early for extended quiet times with The Lord before getting the kids up for school. Brenda laughs at me (gets frustrated with me really) because I have my "workstation" around my recliner. I have my crate which holds my systematic theology books, a couple of books on prayer, my Sunday school curriculum on Baptist Distinctives, and other assorted study materials. The end table on one side holds my iPad, Computer reference book, and study cards. The end table on the other side holds the devotional book that I am going through with the kids and is where I keep my coffee cup. On the ledge of the windowsill next to me, I keep my box of pencils, pens, and highlighters, my glasses, and other miscellaneous materials. I guess I can understand her frustration now that I look at it a bit more closely! Anyway, I am finding such joy in reading, studying, and praying through all these materials. God is speaking to me so clearly and I just can't get enough of His Word.

God has been giving me lots of opportunities to develop my computer skills in practical ways. I have had so many friends bringing their computers to me so that I can clean them up and get them running efficiently. Many have donated their old systems to me; a lot of them heavily infect or not operating. I think that has been the most beneficial part of my training. It is good to study it in a book; but when you can actually get into it and experience it, it just sticks with you that much better. It is really cool when I get paid for my time; it is like God is saying, "If you are faithful to do the things I ask (like complete this training) I will be faithful to provide for your needs."

My pen business has all of a sudden picked up. I had a small sale last week. The customer was so pleased with her purchase that she contacted me to purchase 20 more! When someone is that pleased with your work it is a huge boost in confidence. So on top of all my studies and computer work, I am busily working at getting this order together. God is good.

With all that is going on, I am having to work real hard at being disciplined to stay focused on getting ready for my certification tests. The first test is Thursday, May 22, and the second will be the following Thursday. I feel pretty confident about the the first test but I never feel completely ready. There is always more to review, always more to memorize, and always more to practice. Brenda is constantly telling me not to stress, that I know more than I give myself credit, and that I am better prepared than I think. But I am the type of person who does not want to give myself the excuse that I have not done all that I can to be prepare. Pray for me and my family as I get through these next two weeks.

I had an opportunity to go visit one of the locations that is run by the organization which paid for my training and for which I may work in the near future. I was very impressed. Not only do they pay well and give benefits, they understand people who live with disabilities and chronic illness. Everyone that is a part of the organization has a document illness or disability, because of this the organization goes to great lengths to help facilitate the success of each individual. I am excited for the potential of working for such a great organization. If all goes well; I pass the test, get through my final interview, and pass my security clearance (they have a contract with the Department of Agriculture;) I would begin working in September or October.

My plans for the summer are working at the camp 4 days a week, doing my internship two days, and on the seventh day...! It is going to be a crazy summer but I am really looking forward to it. At camp I will be working with the worship team; mentoring, putting together the song list and helping to create the service flow, and maybe playing along with them. It is great to have the opportunity to pass on things that I have gleaned from my years of experience and watching others grow in their ministry. I feel blessed to have this opportunity.

There is so much more that I could share, but I have rambled on far too long and I need to get back to my studies. Thanks for all of you who have faithfully followed our journey and have prayed for us through out the years. Your support and love are what God uses to keep us going. Remember to pray especially for my upcoming certification test.

God is good!

Monday, April 28, 2014


This morning I had intended to go to the high school track to walk. It was very cold and overcast so I just walked around the block and went home to ride the exercise bike instead. I like to put on a message while I ride and today I chose one called, "Preach the Gospel to Yourself." It was from Mark 6 about Jesus walking on the water, calming the storm, and the disciples response to Him. There wasn't really anything I hadn't heard before but it was such a great reminder of things that God has taught me. Somewhere in the middle of life I had forgotten and allowed my life to get out of hand.

You know the story, Jesus had just displayed His deity by doing the impossible of feeding more than 5000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Actually, He more than provided for the needs of the people; there were 12 baskets of food left over! Jesus then tells the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side of the lake while He sent the people away. (I wonder, did they take the leftovers with them? I'll try to come back to that point later.) After sending the multitude away Jesus then went up on the mountain to pray. A great storm came up and the disciples were struggling to get to the other side. At about the fourth watch (the NLT says that would be around 3:00 in the morning) "He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them..." Mark 6:48. The disciples are terrified, thinking they are seeing a ghost (do they not recognize Jesus?) and cried out in terror! Jesus reassures them, "Don't be afraid; take courage. I am here." "Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in," Mark 6:51-52.

Lessons that God reminded me of:

Jesus knew what He was doing when He sent the disciples out into the sea. He knew there would be a storm and He knew why the storm would come. He had a purpose. He wanted to grow their faith and to do that He needed to place them in a circumstance that would test their faith. 

"God will take you where you don't want to go, to produce in you what you can't produce on your own," 

When you are in a boat that you don't want to be in, you will preach some kind of gospel to yourself - what kind of gospel do I preach? A gospel of the grace of God who loves me, cares for me, and is working all things together for good? Or a gospel that asks, "Why am I in this mess? Where is God? Does He not care that I perish?"

I am where I am because Jesus loves me.  

God is not concerned about the difficulty the disciple is in, He is concerned about the disciple in the difficulty. The difficulty remains but Christ interjects Himself into the difficulty.

When Jesus walked on the water, something that is impossible for humans to do, He was demonstrating that He was God. How many times have I read about the miracles that Jesus did and just yawn and say, "Heard that before, yep, Jesus can do miracles." Sometimes I forget that each of the miracles was Jesus saying through His actions, "I am God!" Each recounting of the miracles in the gospels should be a cause for me to fall on my knees and worship a God Who loved me enough to enter my world. Who loved me enough to demonstrate His divinity so that I could trust Him. 
When Christ appeared walking on the water, His disciples were terrified. They thought He was a ghost! They couldn't see Him for Who He was because they were blinded by their fear. Somewhere in the midst of the storm they had lost their awe of Jesus as God: He's walking on the water and they don't see God! When Jesus shows up in my trials do I rejoice and praise Him for what He is doing or am I terrified by His appearance? Earlier, I puzzled over whether the disciples had brought the leftovers along with them on the boat. If they did they should have acted as a reminder that Jesus was God and has authority over all of creation. When Jesus climbed in the boat and the wind stopped, the disciples were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in, Mark 6:51-52.

I needed this reminder today. I need to be reminded that Jesus knows what He is doing. I needed to remember that He loves me enough to put me into situations that stretch and grow my faith. I need to remember that He is God, that He has authority over all of creation. I need to recapture my awe of God! I need Him to break this hard heart of mine, so that I can exercise faith and trust in Him. 

I have been rejoicing over all that God has been doing in my life recently. I feel like I am coming out of one of the darkest valleys of my life. I am feeling well, things are coming back together, and I have regained hope. Then comes my CT that reminds me that I still have cancer and that it still is active. I'm trying to take it in stride, I am trying to allow God to accomplish His purpose in it, and I am praying that it strengthens my faith and allows me opportunities to share God amazing love with others who need that same hope that God has given me. But I will admit that sometimes I allow my mind to say, "What if? Why now? I thought God was taking me out of this valley." This message was a great reminder and encouragement to rejoice in God! I have more than 12 baskets full of leftovers, reminders of God's faithfulness. "I know Who goes before me, I know Who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side!"

Many of you are probably still questioning the meaning of DP+DC=EYN that is in the title line. It is a quote from the message "Divine Power + Divine Compassion = Everything You Need!

Have a blessed day. God is good!