Monday, June 23, 2008

Gloriously Ruined- Dangerous Surrender Chapter 3

Yes, it took me forever to get to Chapter 3 of our book club! :0) Here I am though! WARNING! It's a long one. Whew! It just kept coming today. HA! HA! It's not too late to join in. Go grab the book- Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren- and join right in. I would LOVE for you to post about your thoughts on the book and this chapter. If you write a post on your blog please leave me a comment and I will link to it at the bottom of this post. Make sure you check back at the bottom of this post to find other people's entries when you are ready. SO here goes.... CHAPTER 3! GLORIOUSLY RUINED!
Gloriously ruined.... sounds REALLY appealing doesn't it? Oh yes, please DESTROY me!!! NO ME! NO ME! Destroy ME! RUIN me... Yeah.... let me THINK about that. Ummmmmm NO! Maybe not. Maybe I'll just stay right here in my cozy chair, plug my ears and sing to myself a happy little tune. That sounds good.

That sure is what I was thinking when I first read this book. I first read this book months ago- right as God was urging me to fully surrender no matter WHAT that might mean. I was scared, and by scared I mean PETRIFIED, HORRIFIED, frozen in my tracks, deer in headlights, what is God going to DO to me kind of terrified. I was about to go to Africa on my mission trip. Something in me knew that this trip was huge but I had no idea why. Then Russ "randomly" (yeah right- God doesn't do random) picked up this book and said he really thought I should read it.

UGHHHH! It was so hard for me. A month or so before the trip I started to feel panicky. I have been on LOTS of mission trips but this felt different. It felt vital. All I knew was that I was supposed to be in Ethiopia and it wasn't about the trip it was about the beginning of something HUGE! I am not talking big- I knew in my heart something way beyond little old me was about to happen and the only option I had was obey or what??? I don't know... In my heart that was the only choice- obey- I could kick and scream but I knew I would obey. I would go to Africa and open my heart to whatever this huge thing was God was trying to show me but I was terrified.
. What if God asked me to do something I couldn't do? What if I wasn't capable? What if it made my life something I didn't want it to be? What if my life became a drudgery and stressful because of what God asked me to do? WHAT IF???? If I fully surrendered what did that mean? What would it look like to be GLORIOUSLY RUINED????
I can't tell you how many times I threw this book to the side not able to think one more second about the reality it slapped me in the face with each and every line. I don't know how many times this book made me cry, made me angry, made me heave huge heavy sighs.... I felt like I was reading about a journey God was taking me on and it scared the living day lights out of me.
Just a few short months ago this is exactly how I felt......

The Polaroid picture of what God was doing in my life was still mostly gray and blurry; I could only discern the outlines of the shapes that were beginning to develop. Kay Warren
There were so many things in my life that I felt distinctly were gifts from God for where He was leading but I couldn't place it all together. It was like dumping out a huge jig saw puzzle on the table. I could see pieces but had no idea how they would all fit together. Here were the pieces I knew earlier this year.... I have had a passion for orphans since I was a child. I had committed to going to Ethiopia in March 2008. I had spontaneously decided to read 2 books- Fields of The Fatherless and Red Letters by Tom Davis. I did a book club on my blog covering Fields of The Fatherless. Tom Davis WROTE ME and asked how he could help. SAY WHAT??? LOL! We attended an orphan conference in Dallas soon after and met Tom. We felt we were supposed to be involved with Tom Davis and Children's Hopechest. Tom is president of this organization. Russ and I had also felt called to start something called Red Letters Campaign. We had a vague feeling about what it would be but it was still foggy. How did it fit? I was going to Ethiopia. Children's Hopechest wasn't involved in Ethiopia at all. In addition to all that were just weird traits about myself I have always pondered on. I have always loved taking pictures of people but had no desire to use my photography as a business. It made me feel so strange that I never wanted to do that professionally. I seem to have a knack for writing- or so people tell me. ;0) Still all I had was this little blog. What could that REALLY do? I love traveling and going overseas doesn't scare me a bit. Well.... except for when I was going to Africa. Could that be something?
We felt like God was doing something but it wasn't happening yet. We had been trying to start a ministry in the church we had attended for many years and the doors were just not ready to open there. We felt spiritually tired and overwhelmed by the path we saw opening in front of us. We felt a little lonely many days and I personally struggled quite a bit with exactly WHAT my purpose was. I just felt like there was something I was missing. WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO BE DOING??

So that's where I was reading this book earlier this year. All these pieces that may or may not fit together. What did it all mean? What would it feel like? . If you remember my previous post about being "seriously disturbed" then you will know why I was scared. During Zoe's adoption process and adjustment I had gone through a year and a half of diving into others' pain. I was resistant to it and fought it with everything I had. Yet there I was feeling it despite my efforts. It hurt so deeply that I went through a spiritual crisis. How could God allow this in the world? How could God love us and allow children to face these things? What could I do? How could one average little person like me make a difference against such crazy huge odds??? HOW??? During this year I learned a lot about compassion and pain. I learned that it isn't something to run from. It's something we can embrace. Still though... it felt like now God was asking me to take it a step further and I was deeply afraid that this step might break me.
Right before I left for Africa Russ and I found a church plant on line that was very close to us. We felt we were supposed to visit this church. It was a hard thing to even think about. I cried and really struggled over this. We had been at our church for YEARS. We loved so many of the people very deeply. Something was missing though for us. We just didn't fit there. It wasn't a matter of anger or blame. It was just a matter of feeling we were no longer in the right place. We talked about it and decided that after I got back from Africa we would visit. Something inside me really felt that we were about to see a change there as well.

What if I literally couldn't take it any more? What if I broke? Still I read this book- cried my tears and prepared to march off to Africa. Not too long before I left I received an e-mail from Daniel at
Children's Hopechest. He said they were seriously considering getting Children's Hopechest involved in Ethiopia and would I meet with some people while I was there? WHAT?? Well, this was amazing. Suddenly in my mind things started to click together. Maybe this was part of why I was going. If you have been reading long you know what happened in Africa. I did meet Hanna and I KNEW when I saw her that she was why God sent me to Africa. Hanna needed help and God was answering her prayer.

To this day I don't know exactly WHAT happened on that trip except that I was gloriously ruined. I gave it up. The strange thing was that once I gave up I was fine. Once I began to learn true compassion the fear began to melt away. I didn't feel desperate because the desperation began to be replaced with a peace that I was in the center of God's will for me. I could look at hundreds of street children with deep hope instead of helplessness. I KNEW this was the beginning of something and I began to see the dotted line between Hanna and Africa and
Children's Hopechest and Tom Davis and RLC and my blog. Suddenly it was making since.
The day after I got back from my trip to Africa we visited this new church. It was like coming home. The pastor is adopted. He and his wife are passionate about adoption. They have been involved for YEARS in heavy duty ministry in Africa. There are several other adoptive families there. The whole church is involved with a foster care community in the area. Many of the foster children there attend our church. We actually go to small group at the foster care community with a wonderful group of adoptive and foster parents. Our VERY FIRST home group meeting that we attended I told them how my heart was hurting for a man I had seen on the side of the road asking for money. 3 of us immediately left home group and went to go meet with him and see how we could help. We found out this man was a grandfather supporting 3 young grandchildren who may be taken by the state because his daughter has personal problems. He was retired and on fixed income but trying to support them all. So we prayed for him and the next day brought him and the kiddos groceries. The church also raised money to pay his light bill. Nobody told me I shouldn't worry about it. Nobody assumed he was scamming us. They went with me and we HELPED HIM! I went home and cried with thankfulness that I had found this place. That man and his family just visited the church recently.
It is all like Angel's little dream come true. When the pastor and his beautiful bride heard about what we were starting they were SOOOOO thrilled. The pastor's wife and I have such similar hearts. We had a 3 hour time of prayer and sharing and both of us were in tears multiple times about how God has brought us together. It's been nothing short of amazing. Not only that- the messages have been JUST what we needed. We are talking hard core, meaty sermons that leave me THINKING. Of course the second sermon we heard was about spiritual adoption. UMMMM
YEAH! We walked away every week just floating.... we were so energized.
THIS was unbelievable. Everything was falling together. Suddenly, we weren't only deeply inspired, we were also NOT ALONE! Our hearts and brains went into overdrive. We began to see it.
Red Letters Campaign wasn't an institution or an informational website. Red Letters Campaign was a movement- a revolution- that YOU WERE going to run. This was a place for people to find a community of people who believed what they did. A place where we could make a difference and NOT be alone. The picture was coming together.
As you know since we have pre-launched
Red Letters amazing things have happened. THOUSANDS of people are getting involved. Big time organizations are calling us to get involved. People are feeling less alone. Children's Hopechest is moving into Ethiopia and is already beginning financial support for Hanna to help her through the food crisis in Ethiopia. My blog, my photography, the trip, Tom..... it all started to fit.
It turns out being RUINED isn't so bad at all. YES MY LIFE IS RUINED! It isn't at all what I would I imagined it would be- it is SOOOO much MORE! As Kay says..

..I am not just ruined; I'm GLORIOUSLY ruined! I'm more vibrantly alive than I've ever been. I have discovered richness in relationships and work that eluded me before. I have a better grasp on how to find joy and pleasure in the middle of dire circumstances. Caring for those Jesus loves draws me closer to him. I am certain that my life counts for something significant. I would never go back to who I used to be. Becoming seriously disturbed and gloriously ruined is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Why did I tell you all this? I have no idea really. I just knew I was supposed to tell you. I want you to see the journey I suppose. I am no super woman. I am not anyone special. I am just like you. The only difference between me and anyone else is that I am ruined. My life is less and less about me and more and more about what God is doing. People keep asking me how we are doing it all. The truth is I HAVE NO IDEA! We are just normal people with an extraordinary God. We are weak. We can't do better. We can only surrender more fully. There are moments of frustration and exhaustion but there is far more excitement and through it all peace. I am AMAZED at what God is doing... AMAZED! God has provided every single thing we have needed RIGHT WHEN we needed it. Red Letters Campaign is becoming something none of us could have done. It can only be God.
If you are struggling as I was please surrender. Remember, we can't wait around for heroes. WE are the ones we have been waiting for. We are God's hands and feet. Right now there are Hannas all over the world praying for help and salvation. Who will show up to be the answer?
What about you? Where are you on your journey? Are you seriously disturbed? Are you gloriously ruined? Are you pondering starting at all?


Laura said...

Angel - AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME! I loved hearing the whole story of how it all came together! I will do my Chapter 3 post later!

Melinda said...

LOVE this post! I echo many of your thoughts/feelings. I am GLORIOUSLY ruined, but I am very frustrated because Nobody wants to hear it at my church!!! And most of my friends are tired of hear ing it as well. What do you do with that? You see Gods purpose for your life, you pray and seek His guidance and then precede to follow what He is wanting you to do and then Bam! struck down and left to feel discouraged and start to second guess God's call. Sorry to rant I am just in a really frustrated mood right now! LOL!
By the way I think there is a really cute girl in that picture you posted!!!

Sawyer's Mom said...

Hey Angel -
I found your blog through Brandi (Living Freely.) I saw that you had started this book club with Dangerous Surrender and I am so glad it is still going. I started reading it recently and then God gave me a great prayer partner (never had one before) and we are going to read it together.

Anyway, I love reading your blog. Your passion is contagious. I have blogged about chapter 2 but that is all so far. Sometimes it is scary to put your thoughts in print but at the same time it is a relief. Thank you for being honest, and everyone else who posts as well, it helps others know they are not alone.

Alice said...

WOW....just when I think you can't get any more honest and refreshing at the same time. I so enjoy reading your thoughts and desires for what God is calling your family to do. Thanks so much for your illuminating spirit. It just oozes from your words (ultimately your heart).

I posted about chapter 3 on my blog as well.

Kristi said...

Got goose bumps reading your post! I've got to read that book now! Thanks for sharing... :)

Kristi W.

The Millers said...

My husband and I love reading your blog. I could not stop crying. I felt like you were speaking directly from my heart. We are currently reading "Dangerous Surrender" and just finished "Fields of the Fatherless" and "Red Letters". We are crazy about all these awesome books. God is stirring in our hearts something so big and we so want to do WHATEVER God calls us to do. I feel like we are the edge of this big cliff and God is saying, Go ahead and jump and at times it terrifies me.

We are going to start the process of an adoption from Ethiopia and just got back with our beautiful princess from China this past November. (We have 3 bio children as well) Wish we had found your blog a long time ago but wanted to thank you so much for your honesty. Your blog is such an encouragement and blessing to us.


amber said...

Wow. is all I can say, Angel. Wow and PRAISE GOD for ruining you!!


I love the way all of the pieces of your story (well, so far!!!) have come together... what an amazing, amazing acount of God's faithfulness to use us when we surrender!!!

Love you!!!

Paul and DeeDee said...

Love your post:) Especially the part about all the pieces coming were a big piece of my puzzle:)

I posted on my blog too. Hope you like it.

Brandi said...

Ok, I need to do my post too on this book. . I love it and can I just say Amen to this post? Amen, Amen. . there is no way to explain to someone who is looking at the roaring river of pain that jumping in is actually amazing. In the midst of God moving us, ruining us. . .it feels good too. It feels good to understand His heart more. . .to know Him more deeply. . to hurt with Him and to stand in AWE that He chooses to use us. . .oh my.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

this is very inspirational!!


Tessa said...


I love what God is doing through you and how His story continues to unravel ... it is so awesome! I actually wrote down my thoughts on Chapter 3 a few weeks ago while they were semi-fresh in my mind. I can't wait to dive into Chapter 4! Thanks for hosting this book club!

Here is the link to my post ...

Laura said...

I just did my post finally! It is at the simplyfollow blog!