Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Self portrait by Amanda Winslow Posted by Hello

A view from the top. . .

Its summer and as I strip off my sweater to let the sun bake my arms I discover something that surprises me. How soft and round my bare arms are in the reflection looking back at me? When did I loose touch with my physical appearance? Who is this person that was underneath my clothes? Well, am I surprised? This has been one of the busiest seasons of my life and in times like this my shape has typically been my absolute last priority.
Taking care of myself was either and obsession or something I felt frivolous about. How to find a healthy balance between accepting my body and forgetting about it?
Who is the woman that is wearing my skin, it doesn’t feel healthy but it doesn’t feel ugly. I like her softness but I feel like she is a stranger to me. . . Where do the curves end and the soul of this woman begin? Do I smother her under the folds of flesh to protect her or punish her. . . I honestly am not quite sure.

Monday, May 23, 2005

author unknown  Posted by Hello

The broken promise of despair. . .

I found myself sharing a deep hard earned truth to my little brother the other day, the realization came from months spiraling out of control and deep down in the valley of depression. Depression is a scary, misunderstood place to be that requires a lot of grace from those we love. Time, therapy, drugs and lotz of hugs are the only way to bring daylight into your personal darkness and the only reliable thing about depression is that it is not reliable at all. Each person experiences something different and needs different things, time, levels of healing etc. But we limp along hoping for a break in the pain so we can breathe.

However, I have found that no matter how real depression is, it lies. A lie that is seductive and real. The horrible untruth of depression is that there is no real answer at the bottom of the pit. After we give into our soul agony and own up to what is happening to us there is a tendency to think that the answer to our pain will be found after we have finally run through it all and landed with a thud at the bottom. So much healing comes when we acknowledge our pain that we the only thing we learn to hope in is pain itself, that is holds the key to our truth. I hope my wonderful little brother won’t mind me sharing how fearlessly he has stared down his own pain and how I have seen him grow and move forward even when he felt like he was a goner.

But, I believe there comes a time somewhere between diagnosis and real life that you have to disown pain, it is not your friend, it does not love you and it will never allow you to be free. Pain is a symptom not a remedy; there is no promise of true purpose in pain. The people I admire most have done great things in and because of their pain but the testament to them isn’t their pain, but the honesty with how they dealt with it. At some point we all find ourselves lying with our faces on aged hard wood, alone and broken. For me, this wasn’t the end of my pain but it was the end of hoping in pain itself. I decided to truly hope in God. The only reality in my valley was that the further I down I had gone the further back I would have to go, so I had a choice. How far down to I want to “comeback” from? From this point or some point further down into oblivion? My pain was never going to give me a boost up it only gave me perspective and compassion. It refined me, if I could write from pain, then I could write from anywhere. That is how I discovered who I was, what I was called to do, my purpose in life. To write was to pick myself up and to start to live again.
My mother always said that there are consequences for our emotions just like there are for our actions. I am proud of who I have become in the refining fires of pain. I am proud that God wants to use me. I am thankful for the fact that God can turn something as ugly as depression into something that can be of use to others. And I am thankful that He gave me the strength, little by little, to pick my head off the floor and move me toward wholeness.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Shameless Plug

For those of us that complain that the Christian community is not reaching out to the 18-34 crowd. Here is the latest from a group I am very proud to be a part of .

Thursday, May 12, 2005 www.zondervan.blogspot.com

We're meeting the needs of 20-somethings with new books
Thought you'd like to know we've signed book contracts with 4 new Christian authors in an effort to reach the 18- to 34-year-old age group.
Kerri Pomarolli, 31, is a stand-up comedian and actress who shares her faith in her routine. She's performed on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and on Comedy Central. Her book is If I'm Waiting on God, Then What am I Doing in a Christian Chatroom?, scheduled to release in January.
Shane Claiborne, 30, is a social activist who did a 10-week stint working with Mother Teresa. His book, also releasing in January, is titled The Irresistible Revolution.

Sarah Raymond Cunningham, 27, is founder and executive director of Portal Ministries, a nonprofit ministry that helps churches develop relationships with diverse groups. Her book, Dear Church, is scheduled to release in August 2006.
Sarah Kay Wollschlager, 25 won our national writing contest (What's In Your Head?) and was offered a book contract. In Pieces of Glass, she shares her struggle with grief and doubt. The book also is due out in August 2006.

Monday, May 16, 2005

It is no surprise that men don't understand women, what we don't say much is that women rarely understand themselves Painting by Sue Loder http://www.southern.com/sue/prints.html  Posted by Hello

Mirror Image. . .

Some days I look in the mirror and wish that it reflected back just an ounce of what was on the inside instead of the frivolous that I worry so much about each day.
Could you imagine the power and the freedom?

Perhaps I am just showing how absolutely vain I really am but if the instant impact of my looks was NEVER an issue and my character was constantly getting as many comments as a new outfit or a great haircut? Then maybe I would be as productive as I want to be or hopefully as compassionate. The question is do I react to the good in a persons character as consciously as I do a stylish individual? I know that the integrity of the people I deal with in business, home and church is vital but when was the last time I really encouraged it in my peers?

The other day I was trying to explain women to my husband in what I am sure is going to be a life long conversation. (no disrespect to my husband women are just that complicated. Anyway, I found myself explaining why compliments have such a powerful impact on women and came to the conclusion that anything you have to work on every morning or before any special occasion that brought attention, smiles, head turns etc. would obviously have a big impact on your life. Yet even as I described it to him I began to wonder if I spent that much time in the word who would I be? Maybe then I would receive more compliments about my character than my new sweater? Character may not have the instant gratification of feeling like you look great but in the end it’s a far more rewarding and character is something that only gets better with age.

In conclusion, I am resolving to give more character compliments of others.
Character counts and change starts one person at time.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The knowledge that makes us cherish innocence makes innocence unattainable.
Irving Howe
 Posted by Hello

What would you say?

Headlines: Sex Offender Faces New Abuse Charge
Documents-Suspect Played "Sex"
2 Charged with Sexual Abuse of a Girl
All three headlines just from today's local newspaper. Lives crumbling long before they even have a chance to get started. I almost hesitated making this issue the focus of my blog for one simple reason; it turns my stomach. The more disturbed I am about this topic the more I know we all need to be open and honest with ourselves about it.
The only brightspot I could find in the headlines is that maybe, just maybe, its a sign that victims feel empowered to come forward. Staring at these headlines drives home a point for me; Somtime in my future I may (will) be in a position to support some man or woman dealing with recent sexual abuse. Am I prepared? Am I creating a safe-space of trust and support for my friends. Do I emotionally set-up my friends and family to know that this would never be "their fault" of shameful? Is my faith prepared?

Step-one Faitfully prepare, being a relevant compassionate Christian in our world is to prayfully prepare ourselves to love those around during the worst situations.
Step-two- educate yourself.
Reccomended reading "Stumbling Toward Faith" Renee Alston
Step-three-Ask tough questions of yourself, God and others.
Are there issues in my past that I need to settle with God in order to support others?
Are my daily habits making me less sensitive?
What does my casual reaction to sex say to others? What type of a message do I send?
Am I holding others accountable?
Who is holding me accountable?
What is the position of my church towards sex, the sexually abused, and protecting our children, pornography etc?
Not on my watch?

A provative book but a great "starter" to the tough issues of sex & todays culture. The messages we believe about ourselves and our needs. From a woman's perspective I love; "Sex and the Soul of a Woman" by Dr. Paula Rinehart

Something to think about. . .

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Don't you fret, M'sieur Marius
I don't feel any pain
A little fall of rain
Can hardly hurt me now
You're here, that's all I need to know
And you will keep me safe
Rain can't hurt me now
 Posted by Hello

Rain Rain Go Away. . . .

Wednesday morning rain washes over me with wonder. In days past rain immediately signified a long, bad day. As if my soul was weeping from the outside in. Today, I look at sadness with a new found grace. Grace that was hard won through self-acceptance and time and tender relationship with Christ. As the depths of pain would wash over my soul I would usually start searching for signs of comfort and find myself unusally alone & isolated. Deep pain is the most frightening reality for all too many of us. "What to say?" As if pain needed to be bandaged and pluged instead of released. Unfortunately too many of us in the church seem to withdraw from sadness and grief. Too messy, too many unanswered questions. The looming fear of sadness is that is forces us to look to God for help.

"Please God, fill me, heal me, nurture me? Do you really know
how I feel? Can you really pour into this hole in my

I know from experience how vulnerable it feels to look up for help when you hardly have the strenght to stand. Often times I would keep my head down looking to any type of earthly escape, anything that would demand me to prostrate myself or give up any more. The side splitting ache would not go away until I finally fell, exhausted, before the Lord. And then the sweet relief. Sometimes I was so angry at my degraded and desperate position I would scream out in frustration and anguish. In the eyes of my peers, mentors, even my congregation I felt like bleeding disfigured victim. As if my sadness was sucking away all the joy that was to be had from Christ Jesus. But in His eyes I found solace & friendship, acceptance. With or without explanation, in Christ, I found a place for my sadness. Sadness allows us to accept the emotional reality of tragedy and to own up to its consequences. There is freedom in sadness that allows us to look into our own souls and take ownership of our fragile state. It is never wrong to be strongly affected by something or someone, this is a gift from God. We are made in His image to feel even when we can do little else but cry. Now every time it rains I am reminded that sadness is a necessary part of life. Like the rain nurtures the earth and blankets it in shrouds of quiet rejuvination so do our tears.

32"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and
saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my
brother would not have died.' 33When Jesus saw her
weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was
deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34'Where have you laid him?' he asked. 'Come and see, Lord,' they replied. ' 35Jesus wept."
John 11:32-35

Monday, May 09, 2005

SK Ndjerareou Posted by Hello

Flicks Critics

Just saw: The Interpreter
Nicole Kidman & Sean Penn
I may not agree with Sean Penn's politics but you can't deny he makes great movies.
For anyone with any interest in the current state of African affairs this a must see. Or if you just love a great "it could happen" thriller. Worth

Personally loved seeing a commentary on "white Africans" but don't know why Charlize Theron didn't play this part since she actually is one. A good book to go with this movie would be "The Pentagon's New Map." By Thomas P.M. Barnett .

Inside the Whirlwind.

In January a few days before my 25th birthday, Nate was asking how I felt about this particular mile-stone. Without hesitation I remarked, "I want this to be a year that things happen." Days later I recieved notification that I had won a writting contest from Zondervan publishing house propelling me into the ranks of a bonafied author. In the mean time I merely had to get married, meet my new in laws, survive a grueling string of gorgeous receptions all over the country, move in with a man ( its the first time for both of us to cohabitate with a member of the opposite sex) and set up household all before returning to my "day-job" as a director at a local non-profit. Oh and did I mention I am reformating my manuscript before August?

If you didn't find that sentance exhausting please drop me a line and tell me how you manage it?
I am not asking for sympathy. I confess I asked for this . I am starting to get used answered prayer. Its more shocking than unanswered prayer in many ways. Some days it feels like a little bell on a timer rang somewhere and I was suddenly EXCUSED from my time in the deepest valley of my life. Since then the steel curtain that seemed to be between me and God magically evaporated and my prayers are raining down around me with a vengance. I'd like to think I "earned it" but I think it has more to do with GOD's goodness than my own. There was nothing else to do but get up from my trash heap, take of my sack cloth and step into my wedding clothes. Have you ever stopped to wonder how it felt to be Job when his life was suddenly "restored" Talk about living in extremes.

For the last three years I have had one heck of a sob story. I was accustomed to people looking at me with pity, muttering "I can't imagine how it must feel to be you." It was tough to be in my company, tough to know what to say, like someone had flipped you inside out but everyone was trying to be polite not comment that they could see your kidneys.

Today just as quickly as my life fell to pieces now suddenly all these wonderfull thing have happened. Now people look at me like "wow I wonder how it must feel to be you." Just getting married alone insights an odd "rock star" satus that is sort of creepy. But I still feel like I am trying to catch my breath and that life is spinning faster than I can keep up with.

Obscurity and sarcasm are old friends of the hurting, for me they give me perspective and insight. Thanks to God, I have a chance to turn that all into a voice that I pray will minsiter to others in the valley. This site is an invitation for others to join my process. Over the next few months alot of prayful VOICEWORK needs to be done on my part. For those of you familiar with the creative process please feel free to participate with me as we piece together this manuscript. My voice is the collective compilation of so many people's lives and thank you for letting me tell "our story."


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