Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dangerous Surrender- Book Club Chapter 1

I know it took me forever to get to this. SORRY! The book itself was very emotional for me. Throw on top of that preparing for my new addition and a trip to China, a mission trip to Africa, a HUGE surprise I can hardly wait to tell you about, some major changes that are occurring (more on that later) and some exciting new ministries we are getting involved with and it's mentally just taken me some time. BUT... here we are. Dangerous Surrender!!! I am so excited. If you haven't read this book and you read this blog because your heart is pulled toward the "least of these" then for goodness sake go read it. ;0) Really though, it's not too late to join in. We would love to have you read along. It's an amazing ride. I have read it front to back and can't wait to sift through it again with you. Even if you DON'T read PLEASE feel free to comment and join in the discussion. I know you people have stuff to say!!!

I didn't see it coming. Those are the first words in the book. Boy, is that right...

Kay Warren kicks some major emotional tushy in this book doesn't she??? By mid to late in the book I kept having to put the book down at times to breathe deeply and at a couple of points cry. The timing for me in reading this book was amazing. I really felt like I was at a point where God was asking me to "surrender" in a whole new way. We were stepping into a new adventure and I had no idea what it looked like. I just knew it was coming.

Here is what Kay says about what I believe was her "red pill" moment...

After a month of anguished wrestling with God, I reached a point at which I had to make a conscious decision. Would I retreat to my comfortable life and to my settled plans, pretending I didn't know about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the millions of orphans? Or would I surrender to God's call and let my heart engage with a cause I was pretty sure would include buckets of pain and sorrow? I didn't know what would happen if I said yes to this increasingly strong urge to engage- what did "engaging" even mean? I felt like I was standing on the edge of a giant precipice; I couldn't go back, and yet the way forward looked like stepping into a void.

The moment of decision came. With eyes closed and teeth clenched tightly, I finally said yes. The second I did my heart broke, and I was SHATTERED.....

WOW! Can you relate to this moment??? Boy can I... My red pill moment came during Zoe's adoption. Before Zoe I still had a heart to do something but I was still very attached to my comfort. :0) Part of the anguish I felt during the year we waited was because I was in turmoil about what I saw- what I was learning about pain and extreme poverty. I had caught a glimpse of the truth and a HUGE part of me wanted to just crawl under my covers and hide. It took me months, MONTHS to fully surrender. Still it seems to be a step by step process as I find new places in my heart I have not given to God.

The conversation with God usually goes something like this... "OOPS!! I didn't know that was there... (sheepish grin) Could I just keep that part? No? BUT I AM NOT READY FOR THAT! You have got the wrong girl. I am not this strong. I can't give up this much. Ohhhhh Kaaaaeeee...fine. Here, you can have it. (pout) Love you."

No way I can be too hard on my kids. I throw spiritual temper tantrums on a regular basis.

So anyway... during Zoe's adoption process I became- what Kay calls "seriously disturbed."

Sounds fun right? AAWWWW YEAH! Sign me up! I wanna be disturbed Angel! I wanna be disturbed!!!

Disturbed is not something we really go for in our society is it? I love how Kay talks about this. We are raised to NOT talk about things that make people feel "uncomfortable." Don't talk about religion or politics or HEAVEN FORBID money. We don't tackle uncomfortable topics. It seems the church especially shies away from topics that truly matter. Child prostitution, child labor, rape, poverty, injustice, ethnic hatred, greed, materialism, environmental destruction, HIV/AIDS...


But if we're not disturbed by the world in which we live, we will be consumed with the trivial, the insignificant, and the temporary. We will spend our days pursuing all the wrong goals, living by the wrong measurement of success, evaluating our legacy by the wrong standard.

We become seriously disturbed... then what? Then we don't know what to do. Everything starts to feel weird and prickly. Really big grocery stores make you edgy and $50,000.00 cars make you want to bang your head against the wall. You realize you live in a bubble called suburbia and you have no idea what to do about it. All you know is comfort.... all you've EVER known is comfort REALLY. So now what? So what do we do about it? Just look around and feel guilty? I tried it for a month and it wasn't that great soooo Kay and I suggest "surrender."

Now I don't make this suggestion lightly as I am not very good as it myself. With practice I hope to become more proficient at the art.

SURRENDER! It's a dirty word in our culture. We feel that surrender means FAILURE. We are a "never say die" kind of people. We are independent. We don't NEED anyone right?

Surrender to God? Ummmm no thank you. I'll be fine...

That was my attitude at first. I would NOT be going down without a fight. Sure I would do what God was telling me to do but I was going to kick and scream the whole way. Again... I don't recommend this approach. It wasn't that great. ;0)

Surrender- in God's eyes- is a wonderful place to be. It means we have come to the end of our battle and the end of ourselves. I won't lie to you. It is a wonderful place to be- but as Kay puts it- certainly not safe.

...please know that surrendering your life to God is the boldest and riskiest step you can take. Being dangerously surrendered to God allows you to know Him in increasingly deeper ways and to participate fully in His will.

...We want the rewards if living lives of faith without actually having to demonstrate faith.

WHOA!!!! OK pause for deep breathing exercises... See what I mean? Boy howdy. OK here we go...

Kay then does a section on being ordinary. BOY could I identify with that. I won't go into detail into Kay's life but don't miss that part.

Let's just say I have always felt ordinary in most ways. Not in a negative way. Just in a real way. Average grades, average height, average life (in America), you know... ordinary. Now I know some people might see my life as exciting or exotic but it wasn't to me. I had a chance to live overseas as an army brat which was a great thing. I went on some mission trips and had a wonderful childhood. In my world though- I was just like most of the kids I knew.

Then I married a genius. I know you might think I am exaggerating- maybe I am- but I don't think so. He's gonna kill me when He reads this. Too bad Russ. It's my blog. Get your own book club. ;0) I adore you Russ but it's time the public knew you are a braniac, egg head nerd. If you didn't get that from this post he wrote it's your own bad anyway. Hee hee... He is though. He's a genius. His brain works in ways I can't even get sometimes. He went to a MAJOR MBA program and here I was just being little ordinary Angel. I spent years following him around the country just having fun being his wife. It's a pretty great gig. Still though... I began to see that God had something big for ME to do too and it scared the crud out of me. I was pretty comfortable with the supporting role. Stand by your genius egg head and all that. I was not too sure how I felt about more than that.

Now here I am... what is GOING ON here??? Now my wonderful genius is helping me achieve this vision God has given me. He is THE BOMB! Still though- it's unnerving to me how cool and calm he is about the whole thing. ARGH! Here I am a nervous wreck... and he's all... COLLECTED. Makes me crazy. I am SERIOUSLY glad he is on my team.

I guess my point is- I never thought I would really make a difference. I figured that would be Russ. He's the smart one- the driven one- the one who never quits and rarely fails and barely has to sleep. Think of Beautiful Mind meets The Terminator and you've got a picture. ;0) Again, Russ is going to want me to edit this. DON'T YOU DARE EDIT MY BLOG BABE! I mean it... love you.

I am the ordinary one. I have to sleep a lot or I am a wreck. I hate dressing up- I don't like school stuff really. I always have a few extra pounds on me. My house is always a little messy. There are almost always piles of laundry. I don't feel especially talented. I just want to be a mommy. Well... and now save the world. BUT THAT'S MY POINT!

The reason I am telling you this is because it turns out you don't have to be a genius for God to use you. Maybe he'll marry you to one cause it's handy ;0) but it's NOT in the criteria. We are so afraid to shine. So afraid of what we might have to do if we embraced who God made us. We compare ourselves and think- not me... I'm not the one... I'll just cheer someone else on.

So I am learning to see the value in who God made me. Learning that it's not a weakness to be weak. Surrender is the only tool God needs to make my life significant. I guess that is why I love this quote so much. It's on the side of my blog...

Our Deepest Fear- by Marianne Williamson
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Don't compare yourself to someone else and shrink. Don't you dare. Don't play small when God has made you to be significant. I challenge you to surrender. What does that mean really??? The most significant thing I think I got out of this book is understanding what surrender to God really means...


Now... I want your thoughts! Write your own blog post if you want. If you do I will link it to the bottom of this post so everyone can read it. Comment and give us your two cents even if you haven't read the book yet. I want to hear what is on your mind. Here are some questions I would love to hear your thoughts on...

1. Have you had you "red pill" moment yet? If so when?

2. Kay describes the frustration of thinking that the AIDS pandemic was such a gigantic problem that she, as an ordinary person, wasn’t equipped to make a difference. Consider two or three world problems that deeply trouble you. Do you believe you can have any significant impact on these problems? Why or why not?

3. When was the last time you initiated conversation on a “disturbing” topic? Why do people avoid such conversations? Discuss how such conversations can be destructive or constructive.

Hope you enjoyed the first post. OH WAIT maybe I hope you were SERIOUSLY DISTURBED by it! :0)

Hugs, Angel


Diane Larson said...

Angel, I haven't come to a conclusion about your questions yet. But I wanted to encourage everyone who reads the book not to miss the things that are an online companion to the book. Kay mentions them at the end of each chapter.

Laura said...

YEAH! So excited we are starting to discuss the book!
I love the things you pulled out of the first chapter (I had to review because I read it weeks ago)!
1. Red pill moment - not sure if I have fully had a "moment" it's more been a gradual awakening for me - mostly from the blogs and websites that I visit- and the work that God is doing in my heart through His Word! I so relate with the idea that I am almost sickened now by my comfort and I don't want to stay here! I am ready to GO, but I don't yet know what God is calling me to! I have a DEEP sense that there is something MORE and I WANT to go there!
2. I think my Top Three right now are ORPHANS/ADOPTION, racial inequality and materialism/consumerism
3.I feel like I have been given several opportunities lately to share with other Christian women about what God has been teaching me - I sense a new boldness to share about the injustices in the world
Now my challenge is to GO and DO IT! God is convincing me of things deeply in my core, I just need to get off my BEHIND and go do it!
Thanks for making this a place where we can share with like-minded people!!!!!!

Russ (husband o' Angel) said...

Ok...you can obviously see that my wife is indeed "seriously disturbed" as she talks about in this post. You ask for one textbook on financial derivatives and real options as your birthday gift, and your wife thinks you're a nerd. For the record, I'm no genious or braniac. A nerd ... well, maybe. If I've somehow convinced my wife that me being a nerd is a good thing, then I'll take kudos for that. But then again...she is "seriously disturbed."

Darlene said...

Angel! Praise God that you are seriously disturbed! Thank you for not diving in by yourself, but for taking all of us along for the ride!
1. Red pill moment? one was in Mexico City, as I went to the church that was home to the Virgin of Guadalupe. God spoke to me very clearly there. People had walked for miles on their knees to come worship the Virgin. There was such opulence in this poor place. On the way into the church I, and countless others, worked our way OVER the poor, weak, broken, begging and needy. To go worship!!?! I wept bitterly in that place as Christ opened my eyes to how we, Christians!, walk OVER the very thing Jesus wants us to reach out and touch. And so often, we do this 'walking over and walking past,' in the name of religion. Oh, have mercy!!

Nikki said...

I did see the post but haven't gotten a chance to read through the whole thing since I am heading out the door now to move back home! I am loving the book (almost done) and am going to read the post tonight and post my thoughts once I get home and unpacked!

Carrie said...

Okay, so we are over here in Washington, disturbed and surrendered. We'll buy the book, but we're anxiously anticipating your news when you are ready to unveil it to the masses (us). :)


Paul and DeeDee said...

This book literally arrived at my doorstep 3 hours ago and during nap time I finished the first chapter. Talk about good timing!

Red Pill Moment: I was a sophomore in high school on a mission trip in Romania holding a baby girl who had never really been held before. Being a brand new believer then, it has taken me 8 years to fully surrender to that calling. God has taught me so much about Him and His love while what he whispered to me in Romania has been in my heart the whole time.

I loved the part about when we hear God calling us on a new journey we want all of the information up front. I am totally there.... I want to know EXACTLY what this journey will look like so that I can decide which one is better: God's journey, or my comforts. Too bad it doesn't work out like that! "Giving the answer before you know the question" is incredibly hard but totally essential.

Thanks for this Angel.... it is awesome:)

Melinda said...

I am so happy to see you discussing this. I know you have been busy, so I appreciate you still finding time to do this book discussion. I think it will be so worth it. I will try to do a blog post about this as well. I will bet lot's of my friends would say I am seriously disturbed. I can't stop talking about the orphan's in Ethiopia and elsewhere and about the poor and how we should be doing more for them. I think they would like to avoid me at this point. LOL! I would say my red pill moment was in Ethiopia over a year ago. Ever since I returned I knew I was being called to do something, just didn't know what. I now feel like I am so close to finding what God created me to do, and I can't wait. I love the book and love surrendering to God! It is not easy and way uncomfortable, but is so worth it. Can't wait to finish the book. I am about half way done.

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to find others as excited as I am about this book. I am rereading it, this time with a highlighter in hand. I find myself wanting to go back and discuss what moved me with anyone that will listen.

HoustonMamaJenn said...

This sounds like an amazing book-thanks for including some excerpts for those of us who haven't yet read it yet. I'm going to go write down the title right now!! I'll spread the word!

Amy said...

Ok, first of all- Russ is cracking me up. Second- you rock and I totally agree and LOVED everything you wrote. You have a true gift- but the greatest thing about that is you let God use it! Third, I so wish I was really ready to share my red pill moment- but I know you understand why I can't yet. So let's just say- I'm right there with you and I truly get it. Ok, now you have me all inspired and I think I'm going to have to go read the book AGAIN! Love, Amy

kenzsethia said...

1. My red pill moment has really been over the last year or so. We adopted our daughter from China in December of 2006. I fell so deeply in love with her at first sight. I am amazed at how intensly I love this little girl who came from across the world to be a part of our family. This is just a small sampling of what the Lord feels for each of them. I pray that the Lord gives me His heart for them, as painful as that may be.

2. Orphan crisis, poverty and sickness that could easily be prevented.

3. The Lord is inspiring me to have more of these "disturbing" conversations. I believe that they are constructive if they come from a heart of compassion and not condemnation.

Alice said...

I have been a lurker of your blog for a few months. You so inspire me to do more.

After reading your entry about this book I ordered it online. I hope to get it in the next couple of days and catch up with you all.

A "red pill" moment for me was a mission trip in 2003 to Honduras. It was a mission to the Deaf people of Honduras (I was an interpreter for the Deaf before I had children). My eyes were opened to how Deaf children (and adults) are treated in other countries. My heart was so broken to see that the poverty and need for learning establishments for them. My hearts desire is to adopt a (or two) Deaf children from another country (my husband also knows sign language).

I am so glad that I "stumbled" (God directed me) to your wonderful blog of honesty.

I am at the point in my life that I want to do something BIG for God!!!

Nikki said...

1) You know, I am trying to pin down ONE moment, but I can't. Obviously it happened while I was in the Dominican... I came home a completely changed person. There were SO many moments that impacted me over the course of those 10 days that I can't really point out just one as being my red pill moment.
2) Oh man... there are so many. Orphans, extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, lack of education... As I get more "into" this and research and read books, etc. I find myself more and more being led to lack of education. I really truly think that education has the power to bring children out of poverty.
3) This is a tough one for me, and something I wish I was better at. I talk to Alex almost daily about "disturbing" topics and of course often post about them on my blog, but I get nervous with friends and family and tend not to. I know exactly why I do that, which leads to why people avoid conversations like that- there are just so many differing opinions. As I have posted about before, I have been told time and time again by people that I'm obsessed, I can't carry the world's weight on my shoulders, there is no problem in the Dominican and I should go to Africa instead, when I donate money to charity, none of it really goes to the kids, etc. The list goes on. People just don't want to care.
Anyways, I am really enjoying the book! I stopped reading it a few days ago as I was crrammmiing for exams, but now I am done and have the day off work today, so plan to go sit out in the sun and finish it up!!

Jennifer & Joey said...

Angel dear! I hear you talking as you're writing and I have to say I miss hearing your voice!

This book club is very timely for Jennifer and I as we embark on taking a group to Ethiopia in the spring of 09. But nothing ever is a coincidence, is it??

Red Pill: Two, really: picking Annie our daughter up in Korea and having my eyes open to "orphans" for the first time...feeling the haunting pain of what it must have been for the birthmother to leave...the trust and courage it took...the look in the eyes of so many kids...knowing for the first time that orphans had bodies and souls that craved love and families...also in Ethiopia, walking along the road, feeling in my spirit that God was saying-"You know you're coming back here to help"--very clearly. And I knew it and was willing--eagerly. That's just really not what I had in mind, ya know?? That's how I know it was God...it SO wasn't me!

2) Orphans, poverty, hunger...unloved kids. Can I make a difference? I think we're called to do what we can--a hug, give money, encourage--you bet we can make a difference. God says we can. He knows we can. He'll give us the strength to, I KNOW THAT!!

3) I would say the last week I've had some really interesting conversations. Authentic. What an amazing thing, and how often too rare! Depending on where you are and what place you're in, they could be destructive or constructive...I know a conversation like that with me two years ago would have been destructive for where I was in my life. I'm thrilled to say all of that has changed and I'm better because of it. I pray not to judge others for where they are if they're not where I am!!

Keep reading sister! I'm loving it!

Wendi said...

Yay! I just finished reading JUSTICE IN THE BURBS this week, so I was able to start re-reading ch.1 of this book. Wow! I started commenting and realized I had enough to say for an entire post, so you can see the rest at www.henrylegacy.com. As for the questions...hmmm...very thought provoking:
1 - My Red Pill "Moment" was really a process last year that peaked during October, just as we decided to adopt and then found out we were expecting baby #4.
2 - The justice issues close to my heart right now are orphan care, human trafficking, and consumerism
3 - I don't know that I've initiated with anyone outside my close friends and family, but I am becoming eager to respond when someone initiates. I think the construction or deconstruction is a product of the condition of our heart...are we speaking the truth in love or in condemnation?

Russ, you made me laugh. You're sweet in the way you support your disturbed wife.

Dimple Queen said...

WOW Angel....as always, God has used this blog of yours to really stir up some things in me! I am pondering this right now....I will be back to comment further. I will more than likely post and entry about it later today.

God bless you girl!

Billie said...

oh angel, i love this post! the poem by Marianne Williamson makes me want to sob. I heard it just 3 weeks ago for the 1st time. And now again here. I believe God wants me to get it through my head. I am going to post on it.

I do feel like crying sometimes, because i am quite an ambitious and passionate person. when others don't respond it makes me feel seriously disturbed...like what's wrong with me? THank you for your encouragement.

Billie said...

oh angel, i love this post! the poem by Marianne Williamson makes me want to sob. I heard it just 3 weeks ago for the 1st time. And now again here. I believe God wants me to get it through my head. I am going to post on it.

I do feel like crying sometimes, because i am quite an ambitious and passionate person. when others don't respond it makes me feel seriously disturbed...like what's wrong with me? THank you for your encouragement.

Darlene said...

Angel, hi! you dont have to post this comment, I am new to blogging, and have no idea how else to send you a message. Anyway, I posted about my red pill moment in Mexico, and I wanted to let you know! Thanks for prompting me to do this!