Everyday Prayer #2

Thank you Spirit for Creativity
The urge to read and write
Thank you Jesus for Creation
The birds to sing and take flight
Thank you Lord for Creating
It was all made just right

Each morning you wake me
Another chance to take a bite
Each night you put me to sleep
Another chance for dreams to take flight
Thank you Trinity for another morning
Another chance for day and night


Things I want vs Things I need

I had dinner with a good friend and we talked about loss of relationship and money troubles. I came home from a great Yarn Night at 10pm. A bit earlier than normal but oh well.

I came home and for the last 3 hours I have been online looking for things I need. I’ve been to amazon and target and fashion bug.
I’ve looked at swim suits because mine is okay but could use some improvement (I’ve had it for years!!)
I’ve looked at comforters because mine is falling apart.
I’ve looked at crops and capris because my roommate wears them a lot and I just like the idea of having some.
I’ve looked at skirts in hopes that I might find some I actually like.

I’ve filled up carts
I’ve deleted carts
I’ve looked at full carts and prices and decided to close off.
I’ve found some good deals: comforter and sheets for $30, swimsuits for $30, capris for $10 and crops for $8.
I’ve talked myself in and out of buying a lot of things tonight.
In the end I did not buy anything.

So after 3 hours of online shopping and nothing being delivered I had to ask myself what was I doing before I started that? What in my life has me turning towards shopping instead of turning towards my problems?

If I had bought anything in those bags I would have regretted it later. I would have returned everything and been sorry that I bought them. My troubles would have returned.

I’m an addict. I’m an addict because I turn towards shopping and away from my problems or troubles or actual life.
I’m alone. I’m sitting in my apartment, wondering what the cat has gotten into and wondering when my next date will come. Is my loneliness just another way of running?

What am I running away from? There is plenty to run from:
My future and the questions that it holds
The uncertainties of life and the weight that that holds in my heart
The unknown and the way that that feels so unsafe

I spent hours looking for someway to feel better about myself, my situation, and my future
In the end I feel just as empty as I began
I did make progress though
Years ago I would have bought everything in that cart and when the guilty feelings began I would have run to the liquor store and bought margaritas and drank my sorrows away and in the morning when the headache subsided and the guilty feelings returned I would have escaped into love fantasy and so on and so on until I felt retched and guilty and shamed so much so that I would have fallen into a deep depression with no way out.

I have made progress. It took a lot of strength and courage to close out those bags and not to run to the liquor store and to process what I’ve been thinking and what has driven me to spend my evening like this.

I haven’t solved any of my problems and I’m still upset about life but I didn’t do anything destructive with my evening. I wasted lots of time but I didn’t spend any money I don’t have and I didn’t destroy anything. And for tonight that is enough.
In the famous words of Shrek “That’ll do Donkey, that’ll do”

Just a funny little poem

I’m 30 years old and by this time I have sat through some awful lectures. This poem is from one of those lectures.

The exit sign, it calls to me
The pain in my wrist, ankle, shoulder and back
Say, “Go!”
The student in me says, “Pay attention!”
The 4th year in me says, “Why is he reading to us!?!”
I’m bored and focusing on my pain
This history is boring

The green exit sign, it beckons me toward it
I look around the room
There are lots of good looking men in this room
Are they married?
Are they single?

My neck stings with pain
The way I’m sitting reminds me
That one hip is higher than the other

As he gives us a history lesson
One I’ve already heard
I search the room again
I know him, and him, and him, and him
I know they are single
I know they are great men
There is that guy that always asks questions
At least this time he got to his question quickly

There’s that guy I know
Really cute
And he looks as bored as I feel
I smile and try not to laugh at that knowledge

I’m bored but other people look so engaged
How do they do that?
I get out my phone and text a good friend
Its nights like these that i wish I brought my computer
Or that I wasn’t ADHD

Have you ever noticed
That men
Especially Christian men
Have the same hand gestures?

Everyday Prayer #1

In my Spiritual Traditions and Practices class we have to do several practices during the week and this week we have to write and pray everyday prayers. This is the prayer that I wrote for class tonight:

Lord, thank you for the morning song I sing
For the rhythm you gave the writers
Jesus, thank you for the words they sing
For the rhyme that had already been done
Spirit, thank you for the movement you bring
For the swaying you made possible

Thank you Godhead for the creativity that you gave
For you Lord brought the writers to being
Jesus thank you for your trip to the grave
For you Lord made the words have meaning
Holy Spirit thank you for the love you gave
For you Lord made my heart to love

The Holy Trinity, you created this heart to sing
And gave the writers the gift of word and song

First Service with HRock

So yesterday was my first service at HRock. I sat in the middle section about 4 rows from the front. When I first arrived I wasn’t sure where to sit and then I saw this guy with a plaid shirt on and I said to myself, “He looks like he might be cute and normal so I’ll sit behind him. If nothing else I can look at the back of him and feel somewhat safe.” I really have no clue why a complete stranger in a plaid shirt is someone I would feel safe sitting by. It doesn’t make any sense but that’s why I chose my seat.

I got there about 5 minutes before the service started which was rather odd to me. I’m never really early and I thought for sure that I was going to be late. So I sat there for 5 minutes kind of freaking out. I mean I basically knew no one right? But that’s not entirely true. I know Gwen even though she wasn’t in the room yet. I know Vicky but she’s out of town. I know Sharon but I couldn’t see her. I know Louise but I couldn’t see her either. I know Chloe but I couldn’t see her and I know David but I couldn’t see him. I know some of the girls from group too but I couldn’t see them either. So I’m sitting there for 5 minutes kind of freaking out because in my mind I don’t really know anyone and its really cold in this room. I begin questioning why I’m there and if friends were right and I shouldn’t be there. I’m just feeling all sorts of anxiety. But the band starts setting up and I recognize the guy that plays keyboards. I ask myself, “How do I know him? He looks so familiar.” But then I remember that I’ve seen him at an Encounter Weekend where he led worship and I saw him in another 9 month healing ministry. I start to calm down a bit and then Gwen comes in and even though she’s about 3 rows in front of me I start to calm down even more.

As I begin to calm down they play this video about how HRock is a place you can call home. I recognize the voice and think of other videos I have heard with that voice. I wonder if the church made this video or if they play one that was ready made. Its not important to my worship but it gets me thinking about the video and not about the fact that I am one person sitting amongst many x a lot.

Then worship begins. It starts with a song that I know where the chorus is something to the effect that God never gives up on us.

Before arriving at HRock that morning I had been having a tumultuous week where in I was weeping and gnashing of teeth but not at God, mainly at me. I am always having money problems and my mom has been really great about it. The reason I am having these problems is my own fault. Its hard to admit that. I don’t really share how much debt I am actually in because it overwhelms me. So I’ve been worrying that if people found out or if God found out (really kind of dumb because God already knows) then no one would love me anymore.

Saturday at the Spiritual retreat for class we discussed the story of the prodigal son. Someone had mentioned how awed they were that the father was running to the son with nothing but love in his heart. I immediately thought what shame that son must feel but then I realized that I was the son or daughter in this case and I was the one that was shamed. I spent the rest of the day in prayer where God affirmed that he loved me and that he saw me as his daughter who returned and that I had nothing to feel ashamed of.

So Sunday in worship at HRock I was dancing (at my seat) and singing and we were asked to turn to one another and pray. If you know me you know I hate having to meet new people but you also know that somehow God takes care of me in those moments. A few years ago after one of my Kidney stone lithotripsy surgeries I was sitting at Lake Avenue Church and we were asked to hold hands and pray with the people next to us. I at that time met Elizabeth Elliot’s daughter (End of the Spear) and she invited me over for tea and cookies and we became friends. This time at HRock a family turned around. John, Pat, and their grandson Michael and they asked me what I wanted prayer for and I said, “To feel God’s love more fully.” Michael prayed over and for me and I felt tingles in my legs and I felt a rush of God’s love.

After this we began worshiping again and praying and one of the pastors had mentioned that God runs to us but that we also should run to him. I sat down because my back was killing me and I started thinking about how I wished I had brought my pain killers (I took them out of my bag because they make noises when I walk and I didn’t want to make any noise when I walked in late to church). But then another song started and I closed my eyes thinking about how God runs to the prodigal daughter and how I should run to him as well. Then I saw myself running to God and God running to me. When we reached each other God gave me a kiss on the check and he held me in his arms. I felt truly loved in that moment and I forgot about my aching back and the fact that I didn’t know anyone at this church.

Truth is that I know more people than I think I do. Sure I don’t know the whole 1200 but I know a few. After my encounter with God I think it might be easier to go to HRock. Sure there might be more anxiety and I might disagree with some of the theology but where are you going to go to church where you don’t disagree at least a little what what is said there or you don’t wish there was something more. And next time I get the inkling to sit behind someone I’ll just go with it and not worry so much about why I’m sitting behind or next to them.

I’ll continue to write and tell you about my experience and you continue to write and tell me if you disagree with me or if you want to encourage me. We’re all on this journey together and we all need to be kept in check every once in a while.

Moments with God

For my Spiritual Traditions and Practices class we have to spend about 45 minutes each day with God. Since I was a child I have just had conversations with God. I sit in my room and talk aloud to God. Sometimes he talks back. Sometimes he gives me pictures or songs or words that speak directly to my soul. I have had a few of those experiences this week and so I thought I would share with you some of those experiences.

6/22/11 30 minutes
I lay down to work on my 45 minutes and I was anxious about fulfilling that time. I remember someone from class saying how they looked forward to that time with God and I was just anxious about making it the whole 45 minutes (which as you can see I did not make it). I’m a little ADHD (ADD back in the day but now there is no such thing as ADD) and so the idea of being still for 45 minutes is just insane; which is crazy because I have done it before in prayer groups and spiritual discernment groups. But I was still worried that I wouldn’t be able to be quiet that long with God. I’m really good at 5-10 minute short bursts with God but 45 minutes is just crazy, or at least it seems crazy. In other prayer groups I was focusing on other people during that time so I found it easier to sit with God for that long.

God does speak to me in pictures and words so it wasn’t the idea that I might not get anything that was troubling me. It was instead the idea that I might get too much. I might learn too much about myself, my past, and my pain that I just really don’t want to deal with. Right now I am in between therapists and I am really longing for that connection/time with a therapist again.

All that to say that I was anxious about the time constraints and I was laying down hoping that I wouldn’t watch the clock and that I wouldn’t be freaked out if I couldn’t make it the entire time.

I fell asleep. I was laying there freaking out about which classes to take when (because after this quarter I only have 3 left) and how to go about taking them and insurance and money and everything. I fell asleep and had a dream. In that dream I was holding all the stuff I was freaking out about and God just said, “Leave it there and come with me.” In class on Tuesday professor Jensen led us through Lectio Divina and in that time I saw God telling me to come. This past weekend I also heard God telling me to put down my worries and just sit with him. In the dream I was able to do that and after the dream I was able to just release my worries for just a little while and rest in God.

6/24/11 23 minutes
My internet was down this morning so I couldn’t do what we were asked to do. So I looked on my shelves of books and tried to find a devotional but I don’t really have those. So I picked up 101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring True Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns by Kenneth W. Osbeck. I’m not really a hymn person either but I did find a hymn that I knew (Thank you David Crowder Band). When I picked up the book I only intended to sing the hymn and then go take a shower. I wasn’t really thinking about making it work for my morning prayer but it surprised me.

The name of the hymn that I chose was “All Creatures of Our God and King” by St Francis Assisi and can be found on page 18 with its author description and meaning on pages 19-21. So I sang the hymn one time through paying particular attention to the “right” notes and rhythm and I was frustrated when I was flat and when the rhythm wasn’t just right. Then I read through the description and meaning. I was surprised to hear how much St Francis Assisi was committed to the poor and those on the margins. I’ve been dealing with money issues since I arrived at Fuller 4 years ago.

After I read through the material I started to really wake up and remember all the things I have been freaking out about: making sure to finish all my classes this year, making sure I take enough classes to get money this year, making sure I take enough classes to get my insurance this year etc. All in all I’m freaking out. I’ve prayed and had others praying for me for years and every year this happens. All this to say when I was done reading through the material I was pretty upset.

Then I sang through the song again without paying so much attention to when I was flat and to when the rhythm wasn’t exactly right. I enjoyed it more this time. I started crying when I sang the third verse,
“And all ye men of tender heart, forgiving others, take your part,
O Sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, Praise God and on Him cast your care:
O praise Him, O praise Him! Alleluia, Alleluia! Alleluia!”

I was completely surprised at how much this verse touched me because I wasn’t consciously thinking about all the things that were upsetting me. I mean I worry about these things all the time but they are just one among the many. Last night in class professor Jensen asked us to take our cares away before we communed with God in the Lectio Divina and during that time I was picturing my heart. I pictured my heart with a dollar sign silver weight sitting on top of it. I saw me trying to pick up that weight and hand it to God. It was difficult and as I opened myself up to that picture I saw a tether that kept that weight connected to my heart. It was a piece of white rope that connected that weight to my heart. I kept trying to give it to God but it kept coming back on me. So when I was singing this verse I had that picture in my mind. “On him cast your care.” I kept thinking about how badly I wanted to drop that weight and ask God to keep it but how I kept holding onto it not willing to let go because I don’t really trust God to really care for me. I know that God always comes through but I often spend hours each day worrying about how God will really do it this time.

After singing the song a second time through, really focusing on the words I was weeping with the pain that resides in my heart. Then I went back to the description and found a prayer that was written there,
“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is discord, unity.
Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is error, truth.
Where there is despair, hope. Where there is sadness, joy.
Where there is darkness, light.
O divine master, grant that I many not so much seek to be consoled as to console.
To be understood, as to understand. To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving, that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying, that we are born to eternal life.” (20)

I read through this a couple times and let the words was over me.

I was quite surprised at how much this activity affected me. I was surprised at how much it touched my heart and caused me to bring to the surface just how much suffering I was trying to escape. I am an alcoholic, compulsive spender, and a love addict. I am an abuse survivor and I have major trust issues with God, people, and myself. I run from my problems as long as I can but I always end up regretting that decision.

Last week with Oasis, first week with HRock

Hello friends,
I have been meaning to write this blog all week but rest got in the way. A few weeks ago I learned that I would have to stop attending Oasis’ church services and start attending HRock services. The reason for this change is quite simple: I got an internship at a different church.

Doesn’t it just suck to finally belong to a church and then find out that you need to leave that church? Truth is if Oasis is really a church without walls then my not showing up on Sunday should be no big deal right?

That is my hope. I already have dates planned with my girl-friends (I’m not gay I just have friends that have busy lives and I need to schedule time with them and when you schedule specific time with someone it is a date. It’s funny to think about it that way because technically I haven’t gone on a date with a man I was interested in romantically in 8+ years but I have had several dates with friends. I think its funny at least).

Any way…..
Tomorrow will be my last Sunday morning worship with Oasis for 9 months. That seems like a short time and a long time all rolled into one. Isn’t that crazy?

Oasis has, about, on average 90 people show up on Sunday, my church back home had about 400, and HRock has about 900! That is totally insane. Right about now my anxiety is sticking into overdrive and I am starting to freak out! Hello, woman with SAD here (she says pointing at herself)! SAD for those of you who don’t know is Social Anxiety Disorder. Its gotten better in the last few years, mainly do to lots of therapy and getting more comfortable in my own skin. But still its there. Its funny because when I give sermons I have major anxiety but when I am teaching all that disappears. Even sometimes when I am preaching it will go away.

Oasis has been good for me because it has slowly allowed me to step into the Spirit. Oasis has become a loving family for me and I have enjoyed my time there. In some ways I am really sad to be going but in other ways I am kind of excited. I’m sad to leave my friends and family that are there but in my heart I know that the friends that I have made there will be my friends even when I cannot attend anymore. I’m excited because I think HRock can teach me some really great things.

HRock has healing ministries that have been in place for 4 or so years. They have been doing these ministries for a while and have learned some ways of getting the kinks out. I think I can learn a lot from them and I think they will challenge me as well.

I’m not exactly sure what things will look like when I start going there. I’m not sure how I will react to some of the crazy charismatic things that happen there but I am excited to start.
Plus 900 people at church, my dating pool just got a lot bigger 🙂 (Not my motivation for doing ministry there but a pretty good bonus)!

So a sad week and a happy week all rolled into one 🙂
Good night friends! I love you!

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