Friday, March 25, 2011

Confession time

I have never thought that I could be addicted to pain pills. I am not saying that I judge those who are or have been addicted to them. I am an addict of a different kind. I am an alcoholic and and a speed freak. That is why I have never really been able to see myself with a pain pill problem. When I have surgery or some reason to need them, I get the prescription filled, take what I need and them leave the remainder in a bottle somewhere in my house. I just don't like the way they make me feel. I have spent so much of my life feeling tired and groggy that I don't like that feeling that vicodin gives me... usually. I like to feel speedy and get lots of things done. Most of the people who know me know that I hate to sleep and resent the fact that I am required to eat or sleep.

Well I had major dental work done on Tuesday. I was in a lot of pain; I took my pills and went to sleep. I got up and took some ibuprofen the next morning. After being awake a couple hours I took a pain pill and went to work. This is the first time I have had to take pain pills and work. Usually I take them and go to sleep; by the time I have to function normally, I am usually done taking them. In order to combat the grogginess I drank one of my extra stout white mocha drinks. When the ibuprofen wore off and the pain started again, I took another pain pill (not realizing that really the ibuprofen is what made the pain stop). It was at that point I started to feel really good. It was somewhat reminiscent of my speed ball days (heroin and cocaine together), only not quite as intense. I was so relaxed, but wired from the coffee. Wow!!! I thought. I came home and later made the connection that is was the ibuprofen actually made my mouth stop hurting. It seems to me the vicodin doesn't take the pain away; it just makes you not care about it. The ibuprofen actually eased the discomfort. That night (Wednesday)I told myself that I didn't need to take anymore of those pills; I just needed to take my ibuprofen. The problem was when I got up Thursday I wanted to take the vicodin even though I had taken ibuprofen and knew it would take away the discomfort. I wanted to take a couple and go drink coffee so I could feel relaxed and wired at the same time. "Alarms starting going off all over my head." I am so grateful for the grace of God that sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of me and lead me and speak to me. I am so grateful for the grace of God that gives me a willing heart to hear His voice and deep desire to obey and fear losing the walk He has given me each day. I now see how easy it would be for me to fall into that addiction. I gave the pills to my husband and asked him to hide them.

I am so grateful for the glimpse into how susceptible I still am to falling into a new addiction and now much my flesh still yearns for an escape. I am so grateful that God is bigger than my addictive personality and that He loves me enough to warn me and give me the ability to catch it before it gets out of hand. I am grateful that its okay to be tempted and to struggle; and I am grateful that He allows me this platform to share and hopefully impact others.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Lenten Journey

This year is the first year I have observed Lent. I have not really been in a church that observed it, nor have I even been taught anything about it. This year our church began following the Liturgical Calendar and observing the rhythms and days of the calendar. I have been so amazed at the focus and direction it has given my walk to think in terms of the seasons of remembrance in our faith as a opposed to just passing the days and months of the year. When we started this journey, our pastor, Mark taught a class on the Liturgical calendar, the meaning of the days, and what is significant about walking this calendar. I loved the idea of walking through the seasons of the life of Christ and how that can and will shape us into His image if we will allow. I love the idea that each year we can revisit remembering and re-walk the path, and as we revisit each year we will be changed and have a deeper understanding of who He is and how He walked. We will, in turn, have a deeper understanding of who we are in Him and be daily formed by Him into His likeness. I have been so excited to walk this path and have been so amazed at what He is doing in me as I seek to be in tune with the seasons and what He wants to teach me in all of them. The other part of this new journey I really enjoy is reading each day from the Book of Common Prayer. It really amazes me to think on the idea that brothers and sisters all over the world are reading the same verses and listening to what our Father has to say about them each day. There is something big, and grand and beautiful to me about the church of Christ unified in readings that cross ethnic, denominational, economic, and national boundaries. I have been so blessed to be able to discuss with my husband and other members in our church what we are reading and what He is teaching each of us as we read. It has been such a surprise how much I have enjoyed implementing these two practices into my life.

So onto Lent. As we were following the Church calendar and preparing , I had prayed for weeks about what the Lord wanted Lent to look like in my life this year. Observing Lent was a new idea and our pastor was so good to post links to sites we could read and research to understand what this journey of Lent is about and how people historically have observed it and people who are accustomed to observing Lent are doing so now. I began to seek the Lord and ask Him what He wanted me to do or give up. What I felt impressed to do was surprising and seemed pretty unorthodox. But, as I continued to press and seek Him, I continued to feel the same impression. What I felt I was to do was really press into finding the creative artist He created me to be. I felt Him tell me to bath it in prayer and be faithful to take time each day to express creativity or write something. I felt like He said we were going to walk through the darkness and shadows the have buried "the artist" in me, and deal with that fear, the insecurity, the doubt, the paralysis that sometimes keeps me from even feeling like I can try. I began to work through a book by Janice Elsheimer called The Creative Call. I am also taking an online creative Indie business class. I felt like He told me if I would work on these and seek Him everyday, we would walk through the shadows and doubt resulting in Him resurrecting "the artist" at the end of the journey on Easter. So I have undertaken His call to really push into who He made me to be and all that stands in the way of that. There have been times when I just felt like giving up in the last week. I hear the old familiar voice in my head telling me that "this is stupid", "who am I to think I am an artist", "I am not really an artist". Then I would hear Him whisper to me "don't give up, press in, how are you going to inspire the people I want you to inspire if you give up and don't find your freedom?" So I press on. I am supposed to write every day for my assignments in The Creative Call and I have failed many days to make time to do that, but I can and will keep pressing and seek to do better. I spent hours yesterday writing in my journal as I sat on the back porch in the sun. It was amazing. It was so amazing that it may be easier for me to consistently make and guard that space to write. I read His word and just wrote my heart out. It was liberating and beautiful. I also made a piece of art that He inspired me to make; I trusted Him and worked on it and finished it yesterday. And, I actually like it. The picture above is what I created yesterday. It was such a great day. I feel so free and inspired and motivated to keep pressing on. I see the progress and growth He is doing in me and I am so excited to keep going and see who I am in a few weeks after completing my commitment to undertake this journey and be disciplined about making space to do what I actually have such a deep desire to do anyway.

So this morning as I sat quietly before the Father resting and waiting to hear what He wanted to say to me, He showed me a beautiful and heartbreaking picture. I began to weep. He showed me that I buried my true self; the beautiful artist, the truest part of who I am. I buried her a long, long time ago b/c I wanted her to be safe. I put her away in a box buried in corner in the basement of my soul. She is the most beautiful, purest part of me. She has been buried and covered over with so many layers so that none of the pain, abuse and tragedy could get to her. I needed to protect her b/c it was not safe for her when I was growing up. Now, though, it is her hour; it is time for the me He intended when he thought me up to come forth. My Father is digging her up out of the dirt and introducing me to the beautiful artist that I have kept safely tucked away for so many years.

I am so glad that my Father challenged me to take this journey for Lent and that He gave me the courage to accept the challenge. What a beautiful dimension and sense of adventure I feel as I learn to let the Creator teach me to develop and cultivate the creator He has created, called and equipped me to be.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We are going the Ethiopia

I have been intending to write this post for a couple weeks now and I just keep running out of time before I can sit down and write it. This post probably won't be nearly as thorough as I would like for it to be, but it will be a start and I can expand on it later. I have felt like I was going to go visit Ethiopia for a couple years now. Every since I first saw a video about the orphanage Drawn from Water. I was overcome with compassion and the desire to go and serve was birthed in my heart. Here is the video just in case you haven't gotten to see it. Please watch it. If these families can pack up and move to another country to love and serve then we can at least watch a video about the work they are doing.

Since seeing the video the first time, two years ago, God was done so much in my heart and life. I was introduced to the Embracing Hope for Ethiopia blog through following Drawn from Water. The main thing I feel like we are supposed to do this summer in Ethiopia is to give our time to Embracing Hope for Ethiopia and the work they are doing in Korah. We are going to love the overlooked and forgotten people of Korah. I believe so passionately in what the Shannon Family is going among the people of Korah in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I don't know for sure what the Lord has in mind for us and our connection with Embracing Hope for Ethiopia in the long run. He will continue to reveal His purposes and details as we need to know them. For now, we are trying to spread the word about what they are doing and ask people to sponsor families to be enrolled in the program they are organizing and implementing.

We have never been on a mission trip, nor had we even thought about doing it until recently. I don't even know how it is going to happen. Honestly, part of me thinks I am crazy for putting this into print b/c I have doubt in my heart that the money to get there will come in. I mean, I know that when God calls He provides. I really only halfway believe that He will provide for us to get there. I know that He put it in my heart and has begun to put it in Larry's heart. I am so glad that His call, His provision, His grace are not dependent on me having some kind of super faith because I do ask Him for what I need and what I want, but I don't always believe that He will bring it to me. My faith continues to grow as I see Him come through for us over and over, but I do realize that any faith I have He gives me anyway. I am definitely not of the hyperfaith camp. He is so faithful and good to me and I know it is b/c He chooses to be good and faithful not b/c I have some great faith. He is faithful to me in spite of my doubt and fear.

The scripture that has been rolling around inside me for that last couple weeks and has given me great comfort and brought me to tears more than once is Psalm 116:7 "Return to rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you." He has been so good to me; He has blessed me so far beyond measure; in spite of my struggles, doubt and fear, He has given me more than I could enumerate were I to speak every minute of every day for the next year. I am sure that just the ways He has blessed me that I am unaware of would take up that much time or more.

My intention for this season of my blog is to use it to talk about the two ministries we will be serving while in Ethiopia (Drawn from Water and Embracing Hope for Ethiopia), to talk about the people of Korah, and to chronicle the work God does in us as we prepare to take this trip. Please pray for us as we step out to answer the call to go. Please pray for Drawn From Water and Embracing Hope for Ethiopia as they care for the widow, orphan and needy in Ethiopia. Pray for God to prepare and make way for what He wants to do while we are there.

Here are a video about Korah and the people who live there. Please watch it. So you can see why we are going and pray for us and the people of Korah village.