OUT IN: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." 2 Cor 4:16 NIV. Both scripture and image came to me as I was experiencing two more bouts of painful hands and arms. These occurred in February and were the most severe to date. My husband characterized them as "crippling". I had to agree! Over the years, there had been no help from doctor visits. I had resigned myself to "living with it", but the pain was so much worse this time! In the original version of this piece, I had added the words: "Physical healing may not always be the Plan, but spiritual healing is…." Later, I removed them, realizing I was speaking mostly to myself! Then, in late March, on yet another doctor referral, I was finally diagnosed with SLE or systemic lupus erythematosis. Based on my health records, the rheumatologist felt I have had this over 30 years. There is no cure, and so this piece with the original additional words hangs over my desk to remind me.
LOOK TO OTHERS: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others" Phil 2:4 NIV. This was to remind me to "snap out of it!" and not be tempted to throw myself pity parties! Focusing on others' needs helps me to get beyond my own. And it is what God has called us to do. The isolated bird on top is me - looking down and remembering the "others" that God has put in my life.
THE RACE: "Let us throw everything off that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" Heb 12: NIV. This was to remind me to look forward not back, and to stop wasting time longing for a different situation. Both could hinder the plan God had for me.
GREAT LIGHT: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…" Is 9:2 NIV. The diagnosis brought new light into my life. Seems weird to say, but it's true. This is my testimony of this. The 30 years of coping with the ailments of lupus planted many seeds of self-doubt and questions about the future... hovering over me like a dark cloud. Each time my joints or various other symptoms flared up, I never knew if or when I would return to "normal" again. I had to stop doing calligraphy completely for 2 years in the 90's! But now, with God's grace (part of which provided a diagnosis), I no longer walk in that darkness. The light of His grace has instead taken over! He has given me new eyes with which to see Him, His creation, my life, His Plan for me...and new hope. YES! I truly thank God for this diagnosis!
MORE AND MORE: "May God give you more and more grace and peace" 1 Pet 1:2 NLT. The grace and peace He has given me is beyond more and more! I describe this painting in my catalog as flowers "exploding" in a grassy area... because that is how I felt when I completed this piece. God had provided the grace to create 4 new pieces, all within 5 days…with no hand or arm problems! He gave me the courage to tackle that which I previously saw as overwhelming and completely unattainable. And He gave me brand new eyes with which to see it all. I was in the midst of an explosion of God's grace! Yes, I still have down times with this disease, but God has sent blessings to outweigh them. …And so God's plan continues...