Thursday, June 28, 2012

theology of the body...

This was the night I was supposed to be leaving out of LAX for Sydney, Australia for the next 6 weeks.

And as I look out upon the mess and disaster that is otherwise known as my HOUSE right now, (since the kitchen remodel was in lieu of the Australia trip..) I don't know whether to be thankful or disappointed!

Most of you remember that Marc and I were given the opportunity by our denomination's mission agency, MTW (Mission to the World) to go overseas as mentors to college students who would raise money to do a 6-week overseas internship.  Basically, it was an opportunity for us to do RUF abroad and see God's work in a culture where less than 5% are Christians.  And downtown Sydney, Australia didn't seem too shabby of a location, eh?

So it was a bit of a shock when there weren't enough college students signed up to do the Australia trip, which meant the trip was off and we wouldn't be going.

THUS, we decided it was the summer for our kitchen remodel...  (groan.... no, really, I know it will be fantastic in the end-- if I make it!)

As exciting as the Australia opportunity was for us, (and we may still have the opportunity to go in the future) it posed some problems for me personally.  I can't remember how much I've shared publicly on here, but I have quite a bit of anxiety about flying.  It's not rational.  It doesn't make sense.  It's gotten worse the older I get.  There's nothing you can tell me that will make it go away.  I've literally flown all over the world when I was in high school and college, and still have to fly across the country to see my family.  (In that case, I just do it and get through it.)

But the thought of taking this flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia--- which is actually leaving in about 4 hours from now--- was enough to send me into panic attacks in the middle of the night.

Laugh if you will-- I know I can be neurotic!-- but those who struggle with anxiety issues will understand.  It's no laughing matter.  I've always struggled with a very low-lying anxiety and depression.  But suddenly I couldn't sleep at night, my heart felt like it was going to come right out of my chest, and at times I couldn't breathe.  And when I wasn't in full-out panic attack mode, I was bracing myself, anxious about when the next panic attack would come!  Vicious cycle.

I knew I couldn't let that dumb flight stop me from this amazing adventure, though, so I was determined to do it.  (one of the best--and hardest-- things to do for anxiety is to face that which you are anxious about)  My plan was to drug myself through whatever choice of sedation my doctor felt comfortable giving me.  ha!

But I could still feel the anxiety winning.  Tense.  Fearful.  Even in situations where I should otherwise be calm and relaxed, I couldn't calm down.   I would exercise and feel an instant of relief until I took a step off of the treadmill and it all came crashing down on me again.

After this went on for weeks with no relief, I knew I needed help beyond myself.  I called my doctor.

God knew that little trip to Australia was never going to happen.  But He used even the prospect of it to get me to the help I know I've needed all along but didn't pursue.

As I share my experience with other believers, it intrigues me to hear the Christian community's response to medication for the use of mental disorders in general.  Even in those who have a solid understanding of sin, brokenness, and the effects of the Fall on our bodies, I find a disconnect between our theology and our practice.  I want to be sensitive here, because I know it can be a sharply divided topic, and from my conversations with folks, it's definitely an emotional one for those who are not in support of medication.  I agree with them-- there are lots of people out there taking medication that don't need to.  But what I typically find as a pastor's wife in the Christian community is that more people are not taking medication that should be.  In the name of "I just need to have more faith."

Do we tell our friends with diabetes to simply trust Jesus?  Do we scowl at friends who go see a doctor when they've broken their arm?  Do we prescribe more prayer times for high blood pressure?

If we say we believe our physical bodies are broken & subject to the curse, why doesn't that also include our minds as well?  

Certainly there are varying degrees of depression and anxiety, and I think it goes without saying that not all cases need medication.  But what about those that suffer year after year, and can be greatly helped in our pews?  Do we simply pray for them, or should we also invoke a theology of the body and encourage them to see a trusted doctor?   You can tell a chronically depressed person all day long that they need Jesus, but until they're first helped out of the hole and the fog of their physical brokenness, they won't be able to properly address and asess their spiritual brokenness.

Christians, why are we so proud to admit our minds are in need of help, not just our bodies?   Why can't we see that the Gospel allows us to admit ALL of our brokenness, and that running to a doctor can be the very provision the Lord has given us to get help?

I'm definitely not completely "fixed" with medication and will not pretend to be.  (Take one glance across my house in its current state, and then it's probably a wonder that I'm still functioning, eh?)  Medication is not THE answer.  But it's been a starting help.  A safety-net for some out-of-control, unable-to-manage fears.

And though I won't have to sedate myself to get on that flight to Sydney tonight afterall, I'm thankful for how the Lord used even my worst fear to expose another area where I need to depend on Him.

Monday, June 25, 2012

a doll just like me...

Thanks to my Aunt Cheryl & Uncle Michael, I'm now the VEEEERRRRY proud owner of Avery, a doll "with alopecia."

Look at my surprise as I opened up the box & showed Mommy what it was!  "Mommy, it's a doll like me!" I exclaimed.

I couldn't stop staring at her.  She's soooo beautiful.

(who'll ever know if this moment was more special for me or Mommy?  *tears*)

I can't let this little doll go now!  She even sleeps next to me each night.

From Mommy:  We are SO grateful for all of the people who campaigned for these dolls to come into existence!  It's so encouraging to see the Facebook pictures of LOTS of girls with hairloss thrilled to receive their dolls.  And I know a bald doll may not seem like that big of a deal to you...

but it's a pretty big deal to her.
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

it takes a village...

(Yes.  Another post on why you don't want to remodel your kitchen anytime when you "oooh" over the "after" pictures, you won't be tempted to follow suit...)

One day soon I WILL rejoice.   I know it.  I'll look at my brand new kitchen and think it was all worth it.

But it ain't today!

Because the stress that this total kitchen overhaul is wreaking upon me & upon our household is about to do me in some days.

When we returned home after our lovely, restful time at the beach, we literally walked into the overwhelming smell of DEATH and rotted food.  (how's that for a "welcome home"?)  As Marc & I had stayed up until 2am the night before vacation putting in the hardwood floor together, I forgot I had left a pile of dishes in the utility sink downstairs... uuuggghh...

So the smell hits us.  And then we walk in, trying not to trip as we stepped over this tool and over that stuff.  My house could have been on a "Hoarders" episode.  And I'm not even joking.

Then it's mealtime.  Search for a plastic cup.  Search for water.  Do we have any ice?  Search for a fork.  Search for a plate.  Search for a napkin.  Now figure out what in the world to eat in this place when there's not even a single space left to eat that's not completely blanketed in dust.

Ummm, it's safe to say I then hit my lowest point in this thing yet.

I'm looking around at the mess, and it's like my thoughts suddenly turned to MUSH!  Why bother cleaning?  It's pointless.  I don't even know where to BEGIN.  I can't do this.  I can't even do life right now.

Then enter...

...the body of Christ.  The Church.

Upon sending out an honest and desperate plea to some dear people in my life, I soon had a small army to help me.  Since Marc & I are somewhat similar to missionaries, we don't have any family nearby.  Thus, our church and our RUF students naturally become our family.  And lemme tell you, it took a village last week....

The precious hands of those three women pictured above (Holly, Terry, & Margaret) turned my chaotic life into this: a temporary "kitchen," set-up with a coffee station, a crockpot, and access to everything that I'll need to get through this remodel!  It has been a life-saver.  Everything else was organized in boxes and put into a back bedroom.  AND they brought lunch for us.  :)

Lindsay also came to organize, clean, help me with music stuff for worship, and basically help us survive a couple of days!  (Here you can see our almost completed wood floor, which we tied in from the dining room & hallway surrounding it.)

While the small army was in our house, Keverly watched Caroline for the day so that we could get things in order.

And what isn't pictured here is:

-my sweet, sweet best friend who came into the chaos of this house and spent 2 1/2 HOURS cleaning, scrubbing, and organizing the disastrous mess.  She also made dinner for us.  There are not enough words of gratitude to describe how thankful I was to have a place to sit and eat together as a family again that evening.  Thank you, Kelsey!

-other friends who have brought delicious (AND gluten-free) meals to us thus far-- Lindsey, Angie, Susan, and Nancy/Kirsten.  And there's more coming to us this week.  It's like tasting grace when someone brings you a meal.  It's amazing what a ministry meals have.  I hated asking for them, but I now see that it's TOTALLY a gift the Lord gives to particular people, and as a recipient of that gift?  Oh my goodness-- tasting the Lord's grace to you (through these meals) is unbelievably powerful and humbling.  So beautiful.

I could say it a million times, really, but I am so, so, so grateful to our church family & students for taking care of us.

Everything in me didn't want to admit the state I was in and ask for help.  I didn't want anyone to see the literal MESS in my life.

But the VERY Gospel is recognizing we are people who will ALWAYS need help!  We will never have it together, we are always and will always be needy and helpless.  If I can't believe the Gospel and admit my helplessness about my HOUSE?  How will I ever turn to Jesus for the helplessness in my SOUL?

Had I continued in my stubborn I'm-sure-I-can-do-this-on-my-own-and-I-won't-need-anyone's-help mindset, I would have robbed myself of the beauty of this past week.

The beauty of watching the Lord's bride come around me.
Serving with different gifts.
Ministering to me in very tangible ways.
Holding me up.

It takes a village.

SO... our cabinets arrived!

Caroline had to get her own picture of them as well.

One of our students, Kevin, dropped in because he had a few extra hours to come over to help us (who just shows up to do manual labor with their extra time??  Again, the body of Christ...)  So we now have a working microwave- praise the Lord.   This pic also gives you guys a little peek into the beginning of the cabinet install... before all the trim & details have been added.  (we'll show you the finished cabinets next time! They are sooo beautiful!!!)

So THANK YOU, sweet friends, for loving and serving us.  Thank you for responding so swiftly to my cry for help and coming to our rescue.  We couldn't make it without you.

You have saved much of our family's sanity.

Well, on second thought.....
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Monday, June 18, 2012

broken people ministering to broken people...

Before Marc ever began working for RUF (Reformed University Fellowship), we never knew a ministry like this even existed.  Didn't even realize it was possible.

It's sad to me to think how many of us grow up in the church our entire lives, yet don't understand or aren't free to express our own brokenness in light of God's grace and mercy.  I read a book recently called "Permission to Speak Freely," where the author invited her blog readers to answer the question, "What do you feel like you can't talk about in the church?"  

Wouldn't you know, the answers came pouring in.  By the droves.

How would you answer that question?

Why do we, the Church, often look more like a country club than a hospital for broken people?  
Why aren't we talking honestly about our struggles, our doubts, our questions in the church?  
Why is it that we'd never think to speak about what's truly dysfunctional in our lives, and enter into genuine community with others?
If we can't do that in the church, then where can we do it?

Oh, I could go on and on.

I know it's not like that everywhere, though, and there are plenty of churches and ministries proclaiming the good news: Christ came to save SINNERS!

I'm so thankful to be able to witness a ministry that wants to look more like a hospital to the broken.  
Open to the public.  (not just the cleaned-up ones)
And ALL of us are sick and needy here.  That's precisely why we're here!
Whether we're Christians or not, we ALL need to hear the same thing, over and over:
the Gospel.

I look out at our RUF students and see a sea of brokenness: divorce, homosexuality, perfectionism, atheism/agnosticism, drug use, rampant selfishness, alcohol abuse, pornography addiction, eating disorders, mental illness, diseases, pharisee-ism, (like that term I just made up?), and oh, so many more.

(I look within and see an ocean of brokenness as well.)

Perhaps the most dangerous form of brokenness, though, is that of thinking you're not all that broken.
It's then you have no need of a Savior.
 Or of the amazing grace He offers.

RUF is a rest stop for tired Christians and a safe place for skeptics.

Don't believe it's possible?  Listen to the students yourself.

I love being able to be apart of students' lives.  I love watching the Lord at work, transforming them, teaching them, and growing them in grace.  
(though I hate sending them off!  But that's just apart of it...)

We've been doing RUF for 11 years now, (7 years at Texas Tech & just finished 4 years here in Lynchburg) and people ask Marc when he's going to become a "real" pastor.  :)  ha!  

So it's been 11 years of raising support like foreign missionaries, and let me tell you- it's humbling!  We are ALL dependent upon the Lord for our provisions, but I think you feel it a little more acutely when you have to ask for your very provision.

In those 11 years, we've never hit a deficit.  Thankfully, Marc has been able to focus more on doing ministry than upon finding money for the ministry.  

Until now. 

We've hit a deficit, and we need your help.  

Why the deficit?  We've had alot of people give year end/ one-time gifts (which is great!), but we are really in desperate need for more monthly supporters.

Many of you who read this blog have helped us before in the past, or you are current RUF supporters, and we are SO grateful for you all!   Without you, we wouldn't hear testimonies like those in the video. You all amaze us with your generosity, your faithfulness, & your commitment to seeing the Kingdom spread.

What's always so ironic to us is that it's not necessarily the wealthy folks that keep us afloat- 
it's the faithful ones.
(to whom we say thank you!)

Anyways, at this point in deficit, Marc and I are not feeling discouraged.  
We know the Lord has called us here, and we believe He will provide for us to stay here.
(I type that so confidently, but obviously there are fears there...)

But right now I am feeling motivated.  
Motivated to tell everyone about RUF's impact.
Motivated to ask you to pray for us.
Motivated to ask you all to team up with us financially.
For the first time.  
Or perhaps increase your current giving.

Would you?

It's easy to do & tax-deductible.
You could set it up on monthly bill-pay, automatic bank draft, or check the box to charge your credit card each month.  
(a typical gift is approximately $50 a month, but you could do any amount, big or small!)

Here's the link:
(designate your gift to Lynchburg RUF)

Thank you, dear friends. 
Keep praying for us. 
And let's all begin to proclaim the Gospel:
 though we are far worse than we ever imagined,
we are FAR more loved than we ever dreamed.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

he who keeps the females sane...

Dear Daddy,

We love you.  (notice how I draw my family now?  Can you figure out which one's me?)

You love your girls more than anything.

You make us jump for joy.

You are the greatest.

Caroline & Mommy
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Friday, June 8, 2012


Ahhh.  Vacation.  A very well-timed getaway indeed, especially with the state of things around our house.  We desperately needed a break from the construction.  I don't even want to think at what's awaiting me when I get home...

Fortunately our anniversary (13 years!) and my birthday fell at just the right time for our own family vacation in Hilton Head, SC.

It's been such a fun, restful vacation.  Relaxing on the beach...

riding waves...

playing card games...

running through fountains...

climbing trees...

(and a few "4-year-old-moments" in between)  :)

Nevertheless, it's been great.

And for the last two days, Tim and Sarah drove up from Florida to stay with us!  (they used to help out with our RUF in Lynchburg before they moved to Orlando, Florida last year... they were/are some of Caroline's favorite people in the world!)

This gal's having a blast having a beach, a pool, and a hot tub.

And this gal's having a blast having a kitchen again.
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

under construction #3...

Would you like to see a few images of why you really DON'T want to remodel your kitchen afterall??  Quit watching HGTV and looking at Pinterest NOW while you're ahead.  Perhaps a reality check is in order.  Let me help you out...

The plastic "drapes" were a nice thought to try to contain the sheetrock dust from spreading everywhere in the house.  If only that worked.

Sheetrock dust is not the only thing spread out across my house... someone came over and said, "Amy, it's like your house threw up on itself!"  Yes, it is.  Yes. it. is.  (deep breaths)

It was probably around this point I hit rock bottom with the stress of it all.  But at least I didn't have to do dishes??

Fortunately, Uncle Johnny came to the rescue!  He drove up from South Carolina, and in just 24 hours, it was amazing how much he & Marc accomplished finishing electrical work, installing and mudding sheet rock, and starting on the floor!  Grateful might be an understatement.

Meanwhile, someone's still having a blast in all of the chaos.  :)

Our RUF student, Ben, came to the rescue the next day and helped us lay the hardwood floor.  Thank yoooooouuuuu, Ben.

And thank yooooouuuu, Caroline, for grabbing a mallet and helping our family!  (and if only I'd gotten a picture of Marc, myself, Ben, and our niece, Callie, staying up until 2am that night working on the floor before we left town the next morning...thankfully the floor is 90% finished now when we return.  Our new cabinets come in sometime next week.)

It'll be worth it... one of these days...

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