I know..It is Christmas not Halloween. Here's a story for you!
This is totally real and it is ridiculously sad (sad because of the circumstances that I have to do it). I am seeing an acupuncturist right now weekly. I've had to go because since my crazy, five year long dental process, I've had lots of facial pain and muscle tension as a result. I've never had botox but I think I know what it feels like (poor Orange County Houswives--this plastic feeling stinks). I've had so many shots in my gums--my theory is that somehow it has caused tightness in the muscles or numbness in the nerves around my mouth, cheeks, and nose. It's nuts but sometimes just smiling and talking can hurt my facial muscles or make them feel or tight and unnatural (or like the Joker my smile just awkwardly sticks). In my therapy I sit there for hours with (about 20) pins in my face hoping for some relief. I admit I was VERY leary when acupuncture was prescribed. Can I even do this as a Christian? Isn't acupuncture NEW AGE??? I'm sure some of you were thinking that, too. Or least you should be wondering.
Well after researching it, I realized something. Just because we Westerners do medicine the way we do (prescriptions, surgeries, etc) doesn't make Easterners and the way they practice health wrong. It is just different. God works in the states and overseas remember. God is bigger than than my box he has been reminding me of this a lot lately. It has taught me to valuate and exercise cautions with my pre-conceived ideas. It's not like they are chanting or channeling spirits by any means and needless to say if they were I'd be out of there. Sure they use the word "Chi" when talking about releasing and circulating energy-but you'd find that in a karate dojo, too, and Christians practice Martial Arts and we don't burn them at the stake. I'm OK with this. It's not mystical in any way. I feared seeing Buddha statues and YIN/YANG symbols everywhere, but I found neither, thankfully or else I wouldn't feel comfortable being there.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acupunture (for more info)
Although, I haven't felt a ton of results, I have little relief and I'm open for any way God wants to bring a miracle. I also am not able to go as much as they suggest (3x a week which they say would be better)--but I have felt some relief after a long session (like the one pictured). And the great thing is that it is completely free. Working with our Street Church (www.street-church.com) I got connected to a free clinic given by professionals who volunteer their time. It is also a great way for me to meet others who are on the street and invite them to be a part of our church on the street. So God IS providing (so that it only costs me TIME) and working in the midst of this craziness somehow. One other cool thing is this older Vietnamese lady -Lan Anh--who is so sweet, humble, and generous. She has taken such good care of me and just like Jesus, one time, (because they encourage you to take your shoes off) she put my sock on my size 11, nasty foot, because I got cold and I couldn't reach it with all my pins. She bent down and said, "Here, let me do it, you just relax." Of course that was easy for her to say, but I tried, and watched her as she served me in that humble way. Totally awesome. As I sit there I often pray for her, my healing and the healing of others who I know are in chronic pain, and those around me. It is so humbling as I look around the room and see many others coming for treatment--many of them with no place to live--and here I am free-loading. I love that I am no better than any of them and I could just as well be on the street, too, but by God's grace I have enough to live and provide for my family. As I sit there I look at each individual and think about the stories behind each face. So, just like in the dentist office, I am trying to see that where ever God puts me, I am there for a reason.
Every time you come or go, Lan and Denise give everyone a big hug. As I do, I pass God's love on to them and say the typical, "God bless you," but I am trying to be intentional that when I hug them I pray God's love over them. And I am also praying and waiting for the time I can have conversations that will point people toward him. Although it's hard to talk when your lips are pinned together but I'm working on it. God use me--through and even in my pain.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Wendy is in Portland right now and coming home tomorrow (She had a play date with her friends)! Isella and I had a great time and lots to do this weekend. Isella helped me finish my final Seminary paper, visit some friends, go grocery shopping and make the rounds at two different parties. Thanks to the my inlaws, I also was able to join the second and third leg of our Young Adults' Christmas Party. What was awesome about this progressive event(three places traveled to for food, fun, and games) was that things went right along schedule and I wasn't even needed. I just got to show up and have fun. I am so thankful to have some really great leaders and mentors paving the way in our community. Thanks to Glenn and Jenn, Ruby and Leo, and all the guys at the Fallon House. I love seeing how we have become such a close community that the guests who were brought tonight were welcomed and loved. I had to show up late and leave early because of dad duty, but I was stoked that I saw God at work within the group! I love being a pastor to this crew!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
With a baby, it takes longer to do everything. What once took one day or a few hours stretched into a three day process. Good thing we started in November (wink wink). Isn't true that we are prone to spend lots of time "decorating," trimming the tree, shopping, and hanging lights so much that we feel tired, drained, and empty! We spend ourselves prioritizing the outside while neglecting the inside. The real truth of Christmas IS LIGHT and sometimes we miss it. We spend time putting on and putting up the lights all around our house and fail to experience the light in our life and heart. That's at least what I feel sometimes at Christmas and periodically in life.
One of the best illustrations of this is Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation--one of my all time favorite Christmas movies. It is a classic. Clark buys thousands of lights to string up on his house practically breaking his back with no success.`Meanwhile he is going crazy and his family is falling apart inside the house! Sound familiar? The analogy plays out practically in how we spend our time and in the condition of our heart!
Sigh. Just today, I was driving to class, running late, tired after a long night of paper writing, feeling bad that I didn't have good quality time with my wife and daughter this morning and I dropped my peanut butter and jelly bagel sandwich in the car (Another bad sign that I am running an unhealthy pace is when I am eating a meal in the car). It seemed to bounce like a pinball on three different places in the car before landing on my final project and then my bag. It was just to be expected. "Ridiculously typical," I thought. This all just happen in 10 minutes from leaving my house to get to Seminary. I prayed and then I cried. Oh, God, please help me! I'm just over this. Over feeling rushed and worrying about my performance. See, I am caught between the tension of doing good work in my seminary class and arriving on time--well prepared--with taking car of myself, being filled with God's love and having quality time with my family and maintaining the ministry entrusted to me.
Somehow I pulled it together, I remembered that life is more than our "present sufferings" (as if these are REAL "sufferings" comparatively) and I am made for eternity. So I must have this perspective. In class, one woman presented her project using a song titled, "I'll carry you." With lyrics like: "When you can't go another mile..." It was touched. I was at peace for the moment.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
I am a child of God. I will live like one and believe the truth. (I need this as I still have one more 10 pager to write and some reading journals to complete).
Philippans 4: 4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I pray we rest in God. Take deep breaths, stop the running around, the search for significance is found in nothing and no one but God and his love for us!
Peace on Earth and all people, whom his favor rests!
This is Merry Christmas!