Just so you know that I do have crafts in the making, I'm going to show you a few pictures of what I have been working on.
The pictures are not really good but then again I wasn't prepared to take pictures like this, added to the fact that it has clouded up and begun to rain. I am the worst at taking progress pictures, and even though I scold myself on it consistently, I still forget to take them. There is also the fact that I most often work at nights when lighting is terrible.
What I am working on here is a nautical collage of some of my favorite inspirational quotes. I had this idea when I saw the collage in the store. Then I ran across a collection of maxims in the Journals of Jim Elliot that just fit. I can't wait to have it finished so I can show you all.
My next pattern for Crochet Spot revolves around strawberries. I always tend to think of strawberries around spring, maybe more than flowers in general. But I will go into detail about this project when I am finished.
I realize that I haven't done a Ginger Peachy pattern in a while and I am not happy about that. The two pillows I did last for Crochet Spot were quite involved and took me a long time and a lot of work to design. By the time I was finished with one it was time to start on the next. This months is going to be a little simpler, though hopefully just as cute.
I have a couple of patterns that I have been working on little by little for Ginger Peachy, but so far they have been getting a back seat. I was working on the baby blanket Monday before I injured myself, but I hope to have that one available in my store soon enough. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how much I can get done.
Frustrations Leading to Conclusions
It's really hard having to spend many days unable to do anything. I get frustrated, feeling useless and burdensome to my family. They are always good to me, making sure I take it easy and do what is best for quick healing. But day after day of doing nearly nothing takes its toll. Yesterday I was getting terribly disheartened. It's at these moments when your emotions are low and depression sets in. It was a real struggle at times to keep from feeling sorry for myself and giving in to depression.
However, today has been equally difficult in a way, because though I am feeling well, I fail to see the importance of what I do. There are many times when I struggle with this, whether my work is really important or not. When I'm not getting a whole lot of business, I wonder if I am wasting my time. I understand the answers to all that. My family has told me time and again not to worry, my work is important, and if I am doing what God has given me a talent for then I am were I should be. I do believe that my work pleases Him, only at times it's easy to forget.
This morning I was recalling my first passion, to become a missionary. I used to tell people that when I was young and they asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" A missionary, and yet here I am, stuck doing nothing because of pain. How ironic. But then again, maybe not so ironic.
We are only good to God when He can use us. He can only use us when we are humbled before Him. The flesh of man is proud and not given to humility. It's the hard things in life that teach a person humility. I think of people who are bedridden for long periods, or life, and I am ashamed at my tendency to despair. Joni Eareckson Tada comes to mind at these moments, a woman who has been paralyzed for many, many years. You would think she, above all, has a reason to lose heart. And yet, I remember reading in her book, Joni, that she has had to deal with it and watch God prove sufficient again and again.
These moments, which at times seem hopeless, are how God teaches me. Really, one does not choose to be a missionary like one would choose to be a scientist or engineer. You may have a heart for it, but the training for a life serving God and being a tool in His hand is something you can't get a degree in, or ever fully accomplish. It's a life of continual learning.
I think of how churches plan mission trips where they take young people to a place somewhere else, in another state or another country, and the young people work, teach, share a little of their bounty, and feel good about themselves. Then they come home feeling godly and go on with their normal lives. Until the next mission trip.
Looking at serving God in this manner greatly narrows it's importance. What is more impacting to people, arriving in your groups with your personalized t-shirts, doing some helpful things, maybe sharing some resources with them, and leaving, or choosing to change your life for them, like the Elliot's in Ecuador, or Amy Carmichael in India? Showing people Jesus takes more than a quick trip and a gospel tract, it takes getting in the mud with them, living in a hut if that's how they live. To become a caring person instead of a self-righteous stranger, you must get down off your pedestal and join them in the field.
And that's what scares me. Do I love God enough to let go of the things that make my life comfortable?
Recently, I read about a man in the In Touch ministry highlights who gave up his well-to-do business to spread the gospel to villagers in the Congo. He said the last thing he gave up was his memory foam mattress, his "final sacrifice of first-world comfort." He and his wife live in constant danger from warring tribes and deal with typhoid and malaria.
With my neck problems and headaches, flesh would say, "You couldn't take it anywhere else. Stay where you are comfortable." I ask myself, could I sleep on a simple mat on the floor like many a poor villager would? Could I, who am concerned about eating good food and taking care of my body with healthy products, survive on whatever my poor hosts have to offer? I have a million and one questions I could ask of myself, and I am sure you could think of some hard ones for your too.
Actually, this direction of thought has been on my mind a lot lately. I have been reading in the various passages* of the gospels where Jesus says you must "forsake all" to follow Him. For a very long time, this question of what "all" is has had me thinking and praying. My Matthew Henry commentary has been by my side as I read and wonder about these passages. Yes, God must be first, but it has to be more than words, it has to be an understanding. On Mark 1:16-20, Matthew Henry says, "We must sit loose to the world, and forsake everything that is inconsistent with our duty to Christ."
Sit loose to the world...
Granted, being a missionary doesn't always have to mean far away countries and isolated villages. There are ways to serve God that may not even involve coming out of your comfort zone. Instead of bolstering your courage and passionately committing to do that uncharacteristic thing like moving to a third-world country, you could try something a little more at home. Actually, right at home. Being a missionary is about sharing the gospel, and it is about ministering. How many times have we berated ourselves for not being out there in the midst of danger when there are souls here at home than need our comfort. It is all too easy for people to reach out to help the needy and forget about the "needy" waiting for them at home. I find that this is where the rubber meets the road. I tell myself often, if you can't reflect God here at home, what makes you think you can in the field?
Somehow, the souls of strangers and bigger sacrifices come to mean more than the souls of those you know and what we consider smaller sacrifices. It gives us a surge of passion to think of what God might do through us in an out-of-the-ordinary situation, but why should He do any less through us for the people we live with? If I can't live like Christ in familiar territory, then I won't be able to in unfamiliar territory.
I realize that I have gotten a little deep. I've strayed a little from craft projects and neck pain, haven't I? If you are still with me, then I thank you. These are important matters to me and I feel like they should be equally important to my fellow Christians. In the process, I have bared my heart. I understand that not all will agree with my conclusions. Feel free to let me know what you have on your mind.
I hope you realize that the "great" things I have spoken here are lessons that I need to learn. I constantly recall a saying that I have been unable trace it's origin, "You teach best what you most need to learn." And boy, do I have a lot to learn!
*Matthew 4:18-22, 10:37-39, 16: 24, 19:27-29; Mark 1:16-20, 8:34, 10:21,28-30; Luke 5:6-11, 9:23, 18:28-30, 14:26-33.