Adventures AWAKE

A pithy little blog encouraging creative adventures of the Christian spirit

Crisis March 16, 2010

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”

~ Dick Clark, CEO/Merck Manufacturing

Want an adventure? Pray in a new way: With a friend, on your face, in a journal, outside, out loud, using promises of Scripture, in silence, in a song. Here’s a thought: Ask God how. (I’ve been doing that a lot around here, lately). Then, share  your experience — good, bad or indifferent — with someone. It will encourage your prayer life and theirs!

Ephesians 6:13-18 (The Message)     Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

 

Smudged souls March 13, 2010

I saw a lot of beautiful people in India. Physically, just beautiful. Dark-eyed, exotic, bright-smiled beauty. But I couldn’t help noticing all the babies with — what looked like — big birthmarks on their sweet faces. At last it occured to me that I might ask.

One of my gracious hosts explained to me that parents often smudge their children so the gods will not think they’re beautiful and want to steal them.

Don’t all parents think their children are beautiful? Certainly, Father God does. Shouldn’t we all walk around with smudges on our faces?

What saddens me is that most of us don’t walk around with an awareness of our beauty — the glory of Christ — but, instead, a profound awareness of the ugliness within. We spend days reflecting upon the smudges (scars, really) on our souls; the tax of sin waged by the enemy of our Father. We want to hide the mark Christ has made on us before the world.

Want an adventure? Look in the mirror of God’s word for your beauty today. (Check out Psalm 149:4, Ephesians 2:10, 2 Corinthians 4:18). Get lost in His love for you. Stare his beauty in the face. Get the image of your face smudged with His unconditional love and Fatherly pride. Think of how He wants to empower your pretty soul to attract others. We are marked by Him for His glory.

 

The ailing nation of India March 9, 2010

I recently returned from a trip to India with my oldest daughter. Beautiful, exotic country. Amazing developmental potential. Seemingly limitless foreign investment. Archaic social infrastructure. Never have I — as a woman raised in the West — witnessed, imagined or experienced such oppression.

As it is in India, what today are referred to as “slumdogs” — the 250 million subcaste members (meaning sub-human, below the four acknowledged/”legitimate human” castes under the feet of India’s 1.2 billion people) — can not vote. They are Dalits. Translated, their name means “broken underfoot.”  They can not hold property, they can not better themselves. They are frequently enslaved, murdered, beaten and raped. Sadly, it’s not just the stuff of Hollywood. I have heard it compared to the Apartheid movement of South Africa. The difference: In South Africa, the majority blacks could legitimately vote along with their minority white counterparts. Apartheid was overturned. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated…

Today, I received an email which shared excerpts of a letter sent to Nancy Pelosi in 2007 and, again, in 2010 to First Lady Michelle Obama.  Here are some excerpts authored by Dalit women:

We who have signed our names to this letter are the Dalit women of India. We are history’s longest standing oppressed people group, and by all reports the largest number of people categorized as victims of modern-day slavery.
 
We are also known by the demeaning labels “untouchables,” “outcastes,” and most recently “slumdogs.” We have been born “untouchable” according to the hierarchical social system of India, which considers us impure, subhuman, godforsaken, and deserving of our present suffering in this life because of our bad deeds in a past life. In this hierarchy, we are placed below animals. We have been told—and most of us agree—that it would be better if we had never been born.
 
There are 250 million “untouchables” in India today. We are denied education, healthcare, economic opportunity, and basic civil liberties that other citizens in our country enjoy. We are dying from AIDS, malaria, TB, and other diseases that we could prevent with vaccinations and proper care. Few of us own land or our own businesses. Most of us do not have access to clean water and are forbidden to draw water from the wells in our villages. Hundreds of thousands of our children as young as five years old work 12 or more hours a day, six or seven days a week. By the time our children turn eight, they are already slaves in their own minds.
 
Our lives and the lives of our daughters can be among the very hardest in India. We know that the only thing worse than being born a Dalit is to be born a Dalit female. We are raped as girls. We are sold to religious temples as prostitutes as young as age four to be used in sexual acts of worship. Some of us who will live to become widows will choose “sati,” throwing ourselves on our husband’s funeral pyre to spare ourselves a life of begging and starvation on the streets of India.

Let’s hope the letter gets read.

This is not myth. I was there. My daughter was there. Thanks to burgeoning Bollywood and the overflow of outsourcing from developed nations, India could more than afford to take care of their own. But sadly, because the Dalit are not considered “human,” they will never be cared for within this outdated, inane system. And the only thing worse than being a Dalit? Being a Dalit woman or girl. Look into the eyes of a four year-old who has already been dedicated to serve as a temple prostitute and consider the system that would allow it to happen (while it is theoretically outlawed, the state still gets a cut of every holy trick turned in a temple). I even saw a soda sponsorship banner draping the entry into a temple of prostitution we toured. On all levels, it is officially sanctioned trafficking…and it is wrong.

In his book, Truth and Transformation, respected Indian-born activist Vishal Mangalwadi put it best when describing the Western perception of these people based on what was seen in the 2008 movie Slumdog Millionaire: ” The film powerfully portrays the evils that dehumanize the “filthy” rich and the powerless poor in India, but it does not even pretend to explain how such evils can rule a democratic country. Neither the film nor its hero has any strategy to fight evil. In fact, the film has no hero. Viewers feel good only because blind luck helps the lead character win millions and his beloved.” The hero wins millions of dollars, but what of the hundreds of millions of other Dalits? His girlfriend is rescued, but what becomes of the girl who is infected with HIV by a man carrying the virus who — in keeping with Hindu tradition — is “allowed” have sex with subcastes in order to maintain the virtue of his betrothed?

During my brief time in India, I routinely witnessed men put before women for all levels of need. We saw a woman beaten for preparing the wrong food for a group of construction workers. Female infanticide is also a regular practice in desperately poor villages. Newborn girls are given a rice cake to choke on or poisoned due to the economic hardship they present their impoverished family. It is hard to believe but even within their own subcaste, Dalit women are considered at the bottom; they are only slightly better-off than Dalit widows, disabled and orphans. Despite the appearance of making a progressive climb, India embodies a sick system, an ailing nation. I believe that if enough external pressure is brought to bear, things can change. But, as with South Africa, it will not happen without pressure…

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world ~ James 1:27

 

Want an adventure? Create change. March 8 was International Women’s Day…but Dalit life continues to go on. For the month of March, celebrate women — your mom, your sister, your daughter — by thinking about this deeply disturbing system. What can you do? Really. What does your faith mean in the midst of all that you know? Contact organizations like International Justice Mission, Operation Mobilization or The Dalit Freedom Network. The system can’t change until brokenness is acknowledged.

 

Inside outside upside down October 29, 2009

Children_IndiaWhen I was a copywriter I was taught basic creative problem solving, early on. One such primary lesson was that in order to capture your target audience, juxtapose two opposites.

“It’s the inside-outside, upside-down Kingdom where you lose to gain and you die to live…”

~ Misty Edwards, Servant of All

The greatest are least, the least are greatest. In the depths of experience and spirit, we serve the greatest who are the least. We serve the Greatest who is the least. I am captured…

 

Want an adventure? Find a way to live today in the inside-outside upside-down Kingdom. (Hint: It will be the opposite of your norm — it will change you).

 

Nothing is really something July 31, 2009

statue_of_liberty needle artNeedle-eye sculpture

 

My friend, Ellen, sent me this link. Talk about individual creativity!

Abraham was promised his descendants would number more than every one in the sea… (Genesis 32:12)

God’s precious thoughts toward each of us outnumber them… (Psalm 139:17-18)

…and this incredibly focused artist, Willard Wigan, sculpts them. Get this: We’re talking about grains of sand!

 

Follow the link above (the one under the picture) and watch the ABC News story of what this talented man has taught himself to do. It is incredible. It is painstaking. And, it is worth a LOT of money because of its uniqueness. (Did you hear the part about painting with a hair plucked from the back of a housefly?) Recounting how he started doing this form of sculpture, Wigan explains how his teachers made him “feel small…like nothing,” so his goal became to prove “that nothing doesn’t exist”.

In watching this footage a few thoughts gnawed at me:

  • How inestimably precious each of us is to God — our Creator. 
  • It is hard to get my brain around Willard’s work let alone God’s! He shapes us on an even more intricate, quantum level — involving body, spirit and experience).
  • How painstakingly He designed every detail of my form and experience. (Rarely do I consider what God is going through as I struggle to be His vision of who he created me to be.)
  • The driving force behind Willard Wigan seems to be a woundedness yet — by sharing from this place — his wounds have created great earthly gain.

I pray Mr. Wigans has embraced his extraordinary value and purpose in the eyes and at the hands of his Creator. What an amazing gift!

 

Want an adventure? Read Psalm 139:14-18. Meditate on God’s perfect plan in your unique design. Looking at your life, how do you notice Him gently scraping and sculpting you? Dwell on the Truth that you are precious, prized and loved with purpose. Bask in that today. You are really something!

 

 

 

Yellow brick road of friendship July 29, 2009

Filed under: Creative Christian Adventures & Encouragement,Healing,Jesus,Journey — Amy Pierson @ 8:49 pm

wizard_of_oz

Friendship is an art and all healthy people work with the medium. Some are better artisans than others but — whatever the case — we are built for relationship. God operates in the Trinity. Jesus had the disciples. We are born into families. Dorothy had Toto, Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. It is the grand design.

So why in the last year have I had numerous conversations with so many who are really lonely? They have plenty of friends but few close confidants. They are delightful people who despite being engaging and involved with lots of causes, interests and ministries are missing something that only a deep, transparent friendship can provide.

I can write about this because I count myself in this category.

It seems I can’t beg, buy or build the kind of relationship I’m talking about. Trust me, I’ve tried! I’m not Miss Popular but people often tell me, “you know everybody!” and, I think, assume that my plate is full of “go-to” people. Quite the contrary. I long for those. On the surface we are all too busy but I suspect more truthfully we are scared. Scared to be discovered, scared to be known, scared to have the dark areas of our lives brought out in the light. I get it. Who wants to be exposed?

But, we all need at least one or two friends who will “go there” with us. Like any relationship, there is not a program to follow or a book to buy that can assure success in making friends. But Ican decide to risk, make efforts to be vulnerable. It doesn’t happen in an instant, it’s a decision to journey; a first step on the yellow brick road of relationship. Jesus didn’t hang out with pretty people, engaged in cocktail party conversation and coiffed to present perfection. He risked; dug in — investing time and attention in twelve (with a special focus on three). He washed their feet, confronted their pride, shared intimate  insight, and modeled compassion to the least deserving of their culture. 

In the Wizard of Oz, none of the others Dorothy journeyed with were perfect — all had huge holes in their character (or should I say, in their hearts, minds, courage and identity) but they knew if they could get to the Emerald City all would be saved. Once in town, when Dorothy discovered the wizard of Oz to be merely a man behind the curtain, did she reject him? — No. She freed him from the false self he had constructed. And he went on to help her find her way home, too. Back in Kansas, Dorothy and all her friends were transformed through the experience.

I can’t put the responsibility on anyone else but I can work on myside of things and hope to draw others over as a result. With my own transparency, I can hold open the door for friends to walk through — entering into new relational depths. With a click of my ruby red slippers, I can commit to tell my story to those I’m travelling with — the good, the bad and the ugly. And along the way, I can listen to their’s. “Realness” releases and empowers. It unwraps the dirty bandages we (and others in the history of our wounded past) have bound over our shame, cleanses the wound and re-wraps it with the clean gauze of grace. When this happens as a regular, intentional part of our lives, we are healing and we are healed.

 

Want an adventure? Assess your friendships. Who are you connected with and why? Who would you call a “go-to” person in your life, spiritually-speaking? Who would you call a “like-minded traveller” on your journey? What are you doing to grow that relationship?

 

Sick as a dog July 27, 2009

Filed under: Creative Christian Adventures & Encouragement,Food,Healing,Journey — Amy Pierson @ 6:06 pm

sick-dogI had big plans for a great weekend in sunny Southern California with my dear friend and our kiddos. For the first visit to our friend’s new home, The U.S. Open of Surfing event was in full swing, the weather was gorgeous and her house was darling! But along about Friday night — after investing in a nice dinner overlooking beautiful Laguna Beach — my body decided to purge whatever poison I had ingested earlier in the day. Lovely.

I was sick as a dog! Tired. Queasy. Wiped out. Even today, I still don’t feel quite right. “Why me? Why in the middle of what should have been a great So-Cal snapshot for the family photo album?” the puppy whines. Well, in order to make the meal count for something, I decided to look for a life lesson in the bottom of my bowl. So, here it is:

If I’m supposed to feed myself spiritual food, am I paying attention to the quality of what I’m ingesting? — checking expiration dates on what the Holy Spirit is up to in my life or am I keeping outdated food sources in my faith fridge? If I seriously want to “do some business” while I’m here on earth (Luke 19:13), I need to pay attention to what I allow on my training table.

Jesus said, he would spit us out if we were lukewarm(Revelation 3:16). Just like a well-cooked steak, my life is spiritually bacteria-proof when I’m fired up. Is what I consume hot, cold or lukewarm for Him? Is my palate even tasting what goes down or am I gulping down without discernment whatever is on the plate in terms of what I read, listen to, or am taught? (I’m talking sacred and secular here). To stay well-nourished — and preferably fore go the nausea/vomiting thing — I need to take care. It is not enough to just be well, I want to be strong.

 

Want an adventure? Learn from my unfortunate acquaintance with salmonella. Think about what you’re putting into your body — will it keep you spiritually healthy? If not, ask God to help you clean out the pantry of your practices and beliefs. He will show you what’s got to go.