Relax into Fall – 06/09/06

Here’s an email from 2006 about phantom pain and being an amputee. I wrote this to my pastor after she preached a sermon with the above title….

Today is the day where I am being challenged to do that. My nerve endings are firing off like crazy. Take the sensation of your foot falling asleep, turn it up to 10, 20, 50, 100 or 1000 and experience that feeling off and on for hours in the foot that you no longer have because you are an amputee. That was my evening. I did not handle it well last night but I started to focus and breathe and pray and now I am doing better. I believe that there may be a lot of amputees who could be chronically depressed, drug attics, alcoholics, cutters or just plain mean because they cannot figure out a way to deal with phantom pain and sensation.
I asked Lewis why he’d want to deal with this for the rest of his life and he said, “Because I love you.” Wow. So today, I am working it out. I am praying, focusing, breathing, using visualization, you name it. God has given me the tools to deal with and sometimes defeat this thing. I praise him for that. And its amazing how much better I deal with it, when I relax…..

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Shi%%y First Draft

Lose Yourself

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin’
What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out
He’s choking, how everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out, time’s up over, bloah!
Snap back to reality, Oh there goes gravity
Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked
He’s so mad, but he won’t give up that
Easy, no
He won’t have it , he knows his whole back’s to these ropes
It don’t matter, he’s dope
He knows that, but he’s broke
He’s so stagnant that he knows
When he goes back to his mobile home, that’s when it’s
Back to the lab again yo
This whole rhapsody
He better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it; you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo
 

This song means a lot to me. It talks about fear and adversity and opportunity. It talks about pushing yourself into the moment and doing the thing you desire most even if it means doing that thing when you feel you are being strangled by fear. One of my favorite ministers refers to it as ‘Doing It Afraid.’ This song talks about taking the opportunity of a lifetime and going for it with reckless abandon, with whole heart, with whole mind and with whole soul. It talks about doing it afraid because you know that that the ability to accomplish your goal is within you. Because you know you have one life, one chance and you are willing to take the chance in face of fear and previous failure.

Fear has often plagues me. It immobilizes me. It makes me wait until the last minute to complete things. It makes me miss meals. It causes me to delay action, to disobey God, to cower to shiver to shrink from the very thing I desire. I have missed a lot a wonderful opportunities by letting fear ride me into a corner. Or did I ride fear? Regardless, it kicks my ass more often then anyone would ever imagine and I hate it. It makes me feel ashamed of myself. Fear has been a familiar excuse for me. I’m not doing that because I’m afraid. I’m not good at that. It’s not my thing. That’s what I say, so I don’t have to go though with it.  

My whole life, I’ve been exposed to theatre and performance. I’ve watched my mother rehearse and dance and transform herself into other people on stage and I always wanted to do it too. But when given the opportunity to audition for plays in high school, I chose to avoid it. I elected to watch the show rather than endure the audition process and deal with the possibility of rejection. I wasn’t the cool kid. I wasn’t good enough. But when I sat in the audience and watched to show I knew I could have been up there. I could have done the part of the maid or the dancing lady who was on stage for 4 minutes but I was afraid. This is one example of many and I’ve regretted each time I’ve chosen not to try.

Am I not more than a conqueror? Am I not talented? Am I not fabulous and gorgeous and amazing? If I really want to be superhero, a messenger of God, part of the holy nation should I not stand fearless, with eyes of fire, dreadlocks forming a halo like the rays of the sun, glowing with His Shekina Glory, should I not be spiritually ripped? Shouldn’t my mere presence make demons shake and cower? Why can’t I do this?

So many questions. But there are some answers and I find them in so many places – in the Bible, in poetry, in music, in the voices of friends and family and strangers. So many words permeating my brain. So much encouragement. The ammunition, the fuel, and the armor I need to continue to try. To get up again and keep walking. Part of me knows that I can do this because I’ve done it before….

I was at a Joyce Meyer service in Des Moines, IA. It was awesome and at one point in the service Joyce invited anyone who was battling with depression to come up for prayer. I

 was sitting there watching and God said, in my head “Go up there.”

I said, in my head, “I’m not depressed, I’m the happy girl.”

God said, “Go up there.” 

So rather than get that awful feeling I get when I disobey a direct order, I went up there and got in line. I ended up in line behind a lady with blond curly hair, just a bit shorter than me.  I stood there. 

Then He said, “Hug this woman and pray for her.”  

Outraged, I said in my head, “God this is a Joyce Meyer Conference! This woman is in line for Joyce to pray for her. Not me. “ 

That feeling again… “Do it.”

So I did it. It was terrible. I was so scared. The woman didn’t seem to mind. Joyce prayed for us and we went on with our lives. I don’t remember what I said; I don’t remember any other details about that moment it was so long ago. 

Later that year, I was in Baker’s Square with my sister to get some dinner and I saw a lady I knew. I went by to say hi and her dinner mate looked at me and said, “You don’t remember me do you?”

I said, “No.”

She said, “We were both at the Joyce Meyer conference and you prayed for me and since then I haven’t had any problem with depression.”  

Instead of being happy and praising God for using me, I was completely freaked out. What if I hadn’t done it, would it have been my fault if that woman was still depressed? It seemed like too much responsibility. (Sermon: Be a Super Hero by Deirdre Jackson)

I struggle against my own fear. I look at my limitations, I worry about screwing up. I spend a lot of time convincing myself that this is real, that ministry is where I belong and that it’s not just some delusion of grandeur. It’s almost laughable considering what I know about pastors and ministers. Grandeur in the role of pastor is easily balanced out by stress, angry parishioners, low pay and passion to serve.

I remember when I volunteered to help a young MDiv student who was starting a church. Our pastor asked for volunteers and after church I told her I’d be happy to vacuum or make fliers because I was good administrative stuff. Months later, she called and I ended up in a meeting where we formed a leadership team and my husband, Lewis and I became fully involved in the creation of a new church. I was amazed by it but I also thought it would be a good experience. I did not really realize what a big deal it was. I really didn’t get it. I was the secretary no big deal. But there was so much more to it.

Since joining to leadership team at Family of Hope, I’ve preached two sermons, served communion, planned and lead worship services and prayed and prayed and prayed. I’ve ministered to people. I’ve counseled people. Me! I look at my shortcomings and I look at my failures and I realize that when I Lose Myself in the ministry. I can do it. I’ve been doing it.

Coming to the realization that I’ve already been doing this was a huge milestone in my vocational discernment. I had cried and cried over the decision to apply to University of Chicago. I was so distraught at one point that my pastor told me, you don’t have to do this. That statement freaked me out. She told me that God ordains people, not people. She told me that I didn’t have to do it. But I knew I had to do it. I told her that as much as I was afraid to do it, I was more afraid not to do it. I had to do it.

Every aspect of the process of applying for admission to University of Chicago pushed me out of my comfort zone. I hate asking for help because I fear rejection and I had to ask people to write letters of recommendation for me. They all said yes and they all submitted their letters on time. Not a single one of them let me down. I saw how irrational my fears are. I saw Gods grace and kindness prevail in places where I feared criticism and rejection.

I am telling a story that is incomplete.  I don’t know how this is going too turn out but I do know when I focus on the thing I love and I make the decision to show up in the face of fear, I see glimpses of the person I can be. I see a picture of the minister I might grow into.  Someday, I when someone comes to me and tells me about their struggles that I’ll be able to tell them about my journey and tell them that they can do it.

Assignment – Lose Yourself

Right now, I’m trying to write my first draft of my paper for Intro to Arts of Ministry class (aka Colloquium). The assignment:

Write reflection on the Text and Experience as it relates to your vocational discernment.

What??!?  Yeah, my reaction too. I’ve chose the song Lose Yourself by Eminem. I’m going to talk about opportunities and experiences that have led me to the decision to study ministry and to make being a minister a life long pursuit.

 Thank God its only the first draft. I am so not ready for this its a deep and vast subject but I’ll go for it. I have two more tries to build it into something good.

Potty Training 3 (12/17/2007)

Yesterday, morning, Lolo used the potty again!! I woke him up in the morning to use it and he very quickly told me he was done. He headed to his room to get a new diaper and after a few moments he said, I have to go! and he ran back into the bathroom. Then he just as quickly he said he was done and sure enough, he had gone potty. Of course, we celebrated. Very cool.

Potty Training 2

We hadn’t potty trained all day. Then this evening I sent Lolo in to have a seat and I went into the kitchen. He showed up in the kitchen moments later with a big smile on his face. I told him to go back to the potty and he told me that he went peepee. I went back to the bathroom and took him along with me. Sure enough, there was peepee in the potty!!! Lolo triumphs. We celebrated really hard! It was awesome. We clapped and cheered and Lolo did a potty victory dance.

Potty Training 2

We hadn’t potty trained all day. Then this evening I sent Lolo in to have a seat and I went into the kitchen. He showed up in the kitchen moments later with a big smile on his face. I told him to go back to the potty and he told me that he went peepee. I went back to the bathroom and took him along with me. Sure enough, there was peepee in the potty!!! Lolo triumphs. We celebrated really hard! It was awesome. We clapped and cheered and Lolo did a potty victory dance.

Lose Yourself

You know, Eminem is ‘special’ but I feel him on a lot of these lyrics.

“Lose Yourself”

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin’
What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out
He’s choking, how everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out, time’s up over, bloah!
Snap back to reality, Oh there goes gravity
Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked
He’s so mad, but he won’t give up that
Easy, no
He won’t have it , he knows his whole back’s to these ropes
It don’t matter, he’s dope
He knows that, but he’s broke
He’s so stagnant that he knows
When he goes back to his mobile home, that’s when it’s
Back to the lab again yo
This this whole rhapsody
He better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him

[Hook:]
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo

The soul’s escaping, through this hole that it’s gaping
This world is mine for the taking
Make me king, as we move toward a, new world order
A normal life is boring, but superstardom’s close to post mortem
It only grows harder, only grows hotter
He blows us all over these hoes is all on him
Coast to coast shows, he’s know as the globetrotter
Lonely roads, God only knows
He’s grown farther from home, he’s no father
He goes home and barely knows his own daughter
But hold your nose cause here goes the cold water
His hoes don’t want him no mo, he’s cold product
They moved on to the next schmoe who flows
He nose dove and sold nada
So the soap opera is told and unfolds
I suppose it’s old partner’, but the beat goes on
Da da dum da dum da da

[Hook]

No more games, I’ma change what you call rage
Tear this m************ roof off like 2 dogs caged
I was playing in the beginning, the mood all changed
I been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage
But I kept rhyming and stepwritin the next cypher
Best believe somebody’s paying the pied piper
All the pain inside amplified by the fact
That I can’t get by with my 9 to 5
And I can’t provide the right type of life for my family
Cause man, these g*****
food stamps don’t buy diapers
And it’s no movie, there’s no Mekhi Phifer, this is my life
And these times are so hard and it’s getting even harder
Trying to feed and water my seed, plus
Teeter totter caught up between being a father and a prima donna
Baby mama drama’s screaming on and
Too much for me to wanna
Stay in one spot, another day of monotony
Has gotten me to the point, I’m like a snail
I’ve got to formulate a plot fore I end up in jail or shot
Success is my only motherfucking option, failure’s not
Mom, I love you, but this trailer’s got to go
I cannot grow old in Salem’s lot
So here I go is my shot.
Feet fail me not cause maybe the only opportunity that I got

[Hook]

You can do anything you set your mind to, man

Thank God for grace and mercy. Opportunity does knock more than once and God gives us so many chances to get it right. He has mercy on us daily. Every morning, in fact, his mercies are new every morning. I need every single one He’s got…especially now.

Level 3, Pre-Cancer

Okay, so I’m really sick of visiting the doctor. Really, really sick of it! So Iris calls me yesterday and tells me that the colposcopy did, in fact, confirm the Pap results.

I am so sick of this year. Miscarriage, now this. I am exhausted! She said she will go talk to the cancer doctors to discuss my situation. She said she may refer me to them. She said she’d call me next week with a plan of action.

Today, I cried….

Best case, they do the LEEP procedure and clean house. Clean, I want it clean and I don’t want to hear any of this garbage come out of a doctor’s mouth ever again. Negative effect of best case: next baby delivers at 37 weeks instead of 40 weeks. That is the side of effect since this will be my second LEEP. I can handle that. Right now, that is all I can handle. And yes, I know that He will sustain me.. I know that! He does it every time. He did it last time. He did it a minute ago. He’s doing it now but I don’t want to do this. I want to deal with regular uncertainty, not this.

One set of foot prints.

I am afraid and angry. I am sick of this. Div School. Miscarriage. Level 3, Pre-Cancer. Life as ministry tool? Lord, make it worth it, please. I know I have work to do so I’m counting on you to make it alright. Please.