The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Saturday – 7/7/07 –trip for ICRS Conference

I went to bed Friday night at about 12 a.m. my time. I couldn’t sleep and finally turned on my light and started reading Carol Kent’s new book I’d picked up on the freebie book table. All of us bring a stack of books and you give them away and pick up what you want. Well, I had wanted to read Carol’s, "A New Kind of Normal-Hope-filled Choices When Life Turns Upside Down." I was so excited to see it there because it just came out. As I read it my heart ached with her and I thought about how many people may be able to relate with this book, especially those of us who live with chronic illness. Because… illness definitely creates a new kind of normal. 

As I finally closed her book a few hours later in the wee hours of the morning, I saw the big sticker on the front … "SAMPLE COPY." Good grief! I’d stolen Carol’s book! I made plans to sneak it back to the book table first thing in the morning.

My body was wiped out and throbbing so I got up and slapped on two medicated pain pads. One on my shoulder, one on my wrist. The menthol finally started to knock me out. Could I get up in 3 hours and go all day? I set the alarm for 6 a.m. since breakfast started at 7:30. I got back in bed. Then I got back up and checked the schedule. Would the Lord mind terribly if I happened to miss breakfast and the devotional?

At six the alarm went off and I leaned over and hit snooze. I got up by 8 a.m. feeling refreshed and was ready by 9. I could get there before the program even started. I grabbed my Grande sugar-free cinnamon Dulce iced coffee at the downstairs Starbucks and jumped in a cab. I don’t know if it’s Southern Hospitality, but everyone is soooo-o-o helpful with my bags and they don’t even know how much I need it.

I arrive at the hotel where the meeting is and walk around the side to the ramp the musicians use to bring in their equipment so I don’t have to go wait for the freight elevator again. The cab driver looks at me like I am confused and just smiles and shakes his head.

The AWSA meetings are wonderful as usual. (And yes, I sneak Carol’s book back over to the table–supposedly no one caught me red-handed since I wasn’t ever asked to "step outside" for a search.) They talk about relationships with people, testimonials, we break for lunch and hear more stories. I have a chance to connect with some people I met last year, including Cyndy Salzmann, author of Crime and Clutter (A Friday Afternoon Club Mystery). Last year I had the opportunity to have dinner with her and some other women and just absolutely loved her energy and joy. I remember that her first fiction novel, Dying to Decorate (Motherhood Club), kept me up until the wee hours last year. It’s so fun to read books of people you have met and know the person behind the pages.

The afternoon consists of break-out meetings. I attend one about working the ICRS Floor and another one on preparing for television interviews. Hey, a girl can dream, right? I mean, what if Oprah called and I didn’t know what color would look best on me on television? If God gave me that opportunity surely He’d want me to know that the color black would make me fade, right? (Which is what I learn when the leader of the group gently turns to me and another woman and says we’d be wearing the wrong thing for TV [black]. Well, thank goodness Oprah didn’t show up here today!)

We all share where and when we are signing books at ICRS, so that we’ll at least have a few people show up at the book signings and not look too pitiful standing there straightening the stacks trying to look busy. Maybe it will have the "garage sale effect" and the more people see a "buzz" going on around a booth, the more will come over.

There are lots of laughs and "networking/friend-making." Two editor panels tell us about trends, etc. and we pray and the day is done. As much as I’d like to go out to dinner with some gals, I decide to go back to my room. Don’t you just love coming back to the room and finding your bed made? I never get over that thrill!

I call my mom and dad and tell them about the day. My mom wishes she was here, but she is feeling better now. I call and talk to my son Josh and my husband. Josh tells me about the Mustang (toy!) car Daddy got him and says, "Where are you? Are you still in a hotel?" I order a small pizza with the intention of maybe watching something on TV but instead I log onto the computer and end up writing the blog and answering about 30 emails. It’s actually quite fun to write this all down so someday I can look back and remember these small moments as part of this journey.

If nothing else, it makes me keep my sense of humor. I glace through all the Atlanta magazines and decide if I have time to do anything extra tomorrow I will go visit the Martin Luther King Museum up the street. Nothing is really close by. A CNN tour would be fun too, but I don’t think I’ll have time and if I’m in Atlanta I’d rather see a bit of culture-something-or-other.

I’m in the book of Romans right now reading, and it seems appropriate the scripture I’ve just read. ICRS is fun. It’s crazy. It’s exciting to see 18-foot banners of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber (Veggie Tales). It’s a THRILL to put on a name tag that actually says, "AUTHOR" and try to contain yourself from doing a little Happy Dance… But it can easily go to your head.

Despite all that we are doing for the Lord here, there are surely times Jesus would like to drop in and smash a few tables. I ask that as I go into this you pray with me for a humble mind and spirit.

Romans 16:18,19 says, "For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil."

There’s been some girl-talk about how we all have those "I knew I’d made it when…" or "I will know I will have made it when…" Even though it’s not about us, it’s easy to get caught up in that train of thinking: …when I speak at an arena   … when I am on the cover of a magazine  …when I get an endorsement by ____. It’s human nature and we have to fight for it to not take over the purity and integrity of our ministry. We’ve all seen so many God-ordained ministries collapse because the leader got a little too big for his or her britches if you know what I mean.

I have nothing but respect for Karen Kingsbury, one of the great Christian fiction authors of all time, but when I saw a HUGE photo of her on a bus passing by today I stopped and smiled. Wow! That would definitely be one of those moments. "I knew I’d made it as an AUTHOR when I saw my HEAD SHOT on a BUS!"

I don’t think I’ll have to worry any time soon about how I’ll look on the side of a bus–unless of course I’m on the front of the bus as it’s running me over… but still… it’s good to be humble and laugh at yourself as often as possible. They say if you don’t take yourself seriously no one else will either. I’m not so sure about that. Sometimes I think it’s the authenticity we allow ourselves to express that makes the difference. As we share our shortcomings and temptations–all those big holes in our lives, the Lord can shine through them… and people know we are real… and for real.

Lisa Copen

1 Comment»

  Vicki wrote @

Hi Lisa! I just found your blog via FCW and so glad I did! Hope your time in Atlanta this week is fabulous. You’re in my neck of the woods now (although I won’t be at ICRS) this year. Praying for you, that God would bless you greatly. Love your ministry!

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