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!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Meditations from Romans 5:1-11

Romans 5:1-11, tell us three times that because we are justified by faith and have peace with God are to rejoice.

Rejoice in the promise of the hope of God's glory: We are to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (5:2.) God is at work in our lives transforming us into the image of Christ. He will continue you the work until completion (Philippians 1:6.)

Rejoice in the process of God's glory: We are to rejoice in suffering (5:3.) Suffering is the process through which God produces our glorification: suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. God works all things together for good for those who love God; He is using all things to conform us to the image of Christ

Rejoice in the Person of God's glory: We rejoice in God because He is the one who reconciled us through The Lord Jesus Christ (5:11.) Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 

At times I allow my frustration with my health to cause me to lose my hope. I take my eyes off the fact of the justification that God has worked in my life through the death of Jesus Christ. He purchase my salvation through His blood. You have taken away my filthy rags and placed on me His perfect righteousness. Because of the justification, I have hope in the promise of glorification; God is at work in my life. I will be glorified; that is my eternal destination. Romans 8:29-30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

Justification is a one time transaction; it is done, I have been justified. Sanctification / glorification is a process that occurs over time. It is a process that involves pain but produces the fruit of righteousness. God will work all things together for good, including difficulties and disappointments

God is the One Who is at work in my life. It is His plan, His promise, His purpose to transform me for His glory. 

He Who Began a Good Work In You
He who began a good work in you
He who began a good work in you
Will be faithful to complete it
He'll be faithful to complete it
He who started the work
Will be faithful to complete it in you

If the struggle you're facing
Is slowly replacing
Your hope with despair
Or the process is long
And you're losing your song
In the night you can be sure
That the Lord has His hand on you
Safe and secure
He will never abandon you
You are His treasure
And He finds His pleasure in you 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Deer Antler Clip Point Scout Knife

Now available on Etsy and Ebay:


Monday, August 5, 2013

Pens, Knives, or Dog Chew; Who Decides?

Pen, Knife, or Dog Chew; Who Decides?

Over the years I have accumulated many sections of antler that just won't work for pen making. They are just too large, too curved, too small, or in some other don't fit the requirements necessary for making a pen. I have often thought, "What am I going to do with all these antler section?"

Awhile ago I started cutting the pieces that were too big into smaller sections and began selling them as dog chews; I felt it was better for them to be chewed on that to sit in shop collecting dust. But as I cut there were some that were just too nice; I couldn't see such beautiful material being destroyed. So I did some research into knife making and decided that I would give it a try. I like the results so far; you can check them out on my Steiner Gifts and More Facebook page:

From the same antler I can create a pen, a knife, or a dog chew. The pen has beauty, value, and purpose. People enjoy the unique look and feel of an antler pen. They are willing to pay good money to own one. The antler-handled knife is much desired and sought after by deer hunting enthusiasts and outdoorsmen. Yet the dog chew has no less value and purpose than the knife or the pen. Each has value, each has purpose; even if it just to meet the need of a dog for something to chew on!

As I thought about this I was reminded of an early "Lesson from the Lathe"

Why did you make me this way?
September 24, 2009 at 11:19am

I find myself asking God that far too often. It is a habit I picked up as a child and have carried over into my adult life. “Why am I so fat?” “Why am I so uncool?” “Why am I so emotional?” “Why I am I so…?” The list goes on and on! Lately the “whys” have been in regard to my health, my career or lack thereof, and my family.

I was reading in Isaiah 45 this morning, “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’”

When I work in the shop with antlers, I am the one who determines what I am going to make from a particular antler. Some will be slim line pens, others signature pens, and some will be fancy quill pens. I will look at the natural characteristics of each antler and determine how best to use it. Those antlers that refuse to submit to my will end up in the scrap pile where they stay until I can determine some other use for them.

I don’t want to end up in God’s scrap pile, waiting for some second choice purpose. I want to experience all that God has designed for me. Father, help me to stop complaining and start submitting to Your plan. I have learned that the process of becoming what You desire is not always easy or pleasant. The process involves painful cutting away and drill out of things that don’t belong. It involves course sanding to smooth away all the imperfections.

When I finish a pen, I take great pride in the way it turns out. When that pen is purchased and put to its intended purpose there is great joy. When someone looks at that pen and admires my workmanship there is satisfaction. I wonder if I am bringing as much satisfaction to God?

The process may be painful but in the end it will be worth it! Until then I need to ask a little less “why”!

Over the next few days I want to share some further thoughts regarding God's sovereignty, God's process and attention to detail, and fulfilling God's purpose. Here area few portions of scripture that I will be considering:

Isaiah 45
Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah 18
Romans 9;20-24
2 Timothy 2:20-21

God is good.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meditations from Belaying at the Rock Wall

I volunteer at a youth camp during the summer, this year one of the assignments that I have been given is to belay at the rock wall. Belaying is defined as "a variety of techniques climbers use to exert friction on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far.[1] A climbing partner typically applies friction at the other end of the rope whenever the climber is not moving, and removing the friction from the rope whenever the climber needs more rope to continue climbing." (Wikipedia)

As the climber approaches the wall, he asks, "Belay on?" To which the belayer replies, after insuring that the rope is in the belay device properly, "Belay is on." The climber will then say, "Climbing," to signify that he is about to begin his ascent. And the belayer replies, "Climb on," acknowledging that he is ready to watch the climber climb, take up slack in the rope, and lock it in the belay device as the climber ascends ensuring that, if the climber should lose his hold and fall, he won't fall far. The belayers job is not to pull the climber up the wall, nor can he ensure that the climber will not lose his grip and fall; his job is to make sure that the fall is not to fast or too far so that the climber does not get seriously hurt.

As the climber ascends the wall the belayer watches his progress, giving encouragement and pointing out footholds that the climber can't see. He needs to be attentive at all times. He needs to be on task; he cannot let his mind wander.

What a picture of what God does in our life each day, at every moment of the day! We should begin each morning with our prayer, "Belay on?" God, I am about to start a new day; I know that I am going to face difficulties and challenges. Would You please reassure me of Your presence in my life? To which the scriptures reply, "Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.I will hold you up with my victorious right hand," Isaiah 41:10. We can begin today's ascent knowing that God is always ready, willing and able to help me through anything that I may face.

The climb will not be easy. I will have to find my toe and hand holds, another great topic for meditation at another time. I will have to exert the effort to push and pull myself up the wall I must climb that day. I may loss my grip, slip, and fall but God has me secure. I will not fall faster nor farther that He allows.

I can face the day with confidence and courage. I can enthusiastically face the challenges of the day because God is my belay. "Climb on!"

"Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault." Jude 1:24

"I will never fail you.I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

Friday, June 14, 2013

The "For Such A Time As This" Moment

I have some mahogany in my shop that was given to me about five years ago. I have it all been trimmed to the proper size for pen making and stacked in a bin in my shop. It is ready whenever I choose to use it.

Recently I desired to make a couple of inexpensive pens that I could give away. So I selected a couple of pieces of the mahogany from my inventory and created a number of very nice, inexpensive pens. They were just what I had in mind.

As I was working on at the lathe, I couldn't help but ask myself why I hadn't used this wood sooner. It was mine, it was the right size, it was good wood, and the finished product looked nice. The only answer that I could come up with was that I just hadn't desired to use it until this point. I hadn't forgotten about the mahogany, I hadn't neglected it, or given up on it. I just wasn't ready to use it; I didn't have a purpose for it at that time. But when I was ready to use it, it was there in the bin just waiting to be chosen.

Sometime I get impatient waiting for God to finish what He is doing in my life, or at least make visible progress. There are times when it feels like He is not working at all and , like that mahogany, I am just sitting in His workshop waiting. It gets really discouraging.

What I need to be thankful for is that I am in God's workshop! He has chosen me and made me His own. I need to remember that God is the craftsman; He decides what He will make and when He will make it. I am the material from which He will create His workmanship. The role of the material is just to be available when the craftsman chooses to use it.

What encouragement this lesson gave me. I am His; He is not done with me yet. What conviction I felt for being impatient and questioning God. Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." When it feels that God has forgotten you and that you'll never amount to much, remember that God is the master craftsman. He has a plan and a purpose. Don't get weary in the waiting. Be ready when God reaches for you; be ready for your "such a time as this" moment. Esther 4:14 And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” And always remember Philippians 1:6, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."