Monday, July 25, 2011

Putting Together The Pieces by Ashley Sisk of "Ramblings and Photos."

Today I am continuing with guest posts from bloggers who have not only a passion for photography, but a love for Jesus.  I am honored to have Ashley from Ramblings and Photos.  After reading her post be sure to click over and visit her.

Hey everyone! My name is Ashley Sisk and I'm so honored to be guest posting for Amber today. Amber actually asked me to write about my journey of faith a few weeks ago and I pray that my message today speaks to your heart. If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I regularly write about my faith - today I dive a lot deeper.
Puzzle 1 RS
There is not polite way to talk about addiction, but it has been a part of my life for over ten years. You see, my brother is an drug addict - he has no particular drug of choice as long as he gets his high. His condition is regularly met with a shaking head or kind words of encouragement without much substance...no one really knows what to say when you have a child or sibling with a drug addiction, but I know from personal experience that his affliction is as real as cancer.
Puzzle 4 RS
The other day, I was spending the afternoon with my parents. My mom thought it might be fun to work on a jigsaw puzzle together, so we took the box into the dining room and started separating the pieces. While I tried to organize the pieces into groups that made sense based on the front of the box, my mom was pulling together the corners and edges. The longer we worked, the more it seemed as if some of the pieces were missing...we just couldn't complete the outer edge of the puzzle.

Days later I was still thinking about our puzzle. Needless to say that I got a bit bored with the exercise and started taking pictures...but that's not why I was still thinking about the puzzle. It occurred to me that our afternoon activity was much more than a puzzle...it was a metaphor.
Puzzle 2 RS
I may not know much about jigsaw puzzles, but I figure that there are two ways to complete a puzzle: The first way is one in which we have/know what the final solved puzzle should look like. In this case, we  simply compare the pieces and fit them in the appropriate places. When all the pieces are in place, we look at the box to see if the finished puzzle looks like what we wanted it to be. If I think about myself as a puzzle, I would be completed using this approach. 

As a puzzle, I'm pretty simple - my colors are bright and happy; my pieces are large and easy to find; and it takes little time to put me all together. I suppose I've always been that way. I was a people pleaser growing up. I was also incredibly shy and my worst punishment was for my mother to tell me she was disappointed. As an adult, I value observation (and listening) before action. I'd like to think that I don't necessarily need to learn through my own experiences if I can learn from others' mistakes - of course, I've certainly had my fair share of mistakes. Sure there were those questionable months a few years ago when I tried to take matters into my own hands, but my fear of the Lord has kept me on a pretty straight and narrow path.
Puzzle 5 RS
There is a second way to complete a jigsaw puzzle...we don't typically know what the final finished puzzle should look like. So, we have to solve the puzzle by cross-checking each piece for a proper fit. We might assume that certain pieces belong together, but if for any reason we're wrong, then we have to backtrack or start over. This particular approach takes much longer but the final product is roughly the same...we are all God's children.

My brother is much like this more complex jigsaw puzzle. He's been split up into a gazillion pieces, some of which are missing and he takes hours to complete (creating headaches and anger along the way). And much like the puzzle, we don't know what the final picture will look like, but right now the puzzle pieces are not fitting together and it's incredibly frustrating.
Puzzle 3 RS
It's sometimes easy to trust in God and walk in faith when our lives so easily fit together. However, on my journey of faith, my greatest challenge has been to watch as one of my family members falls apart trying to do things "his way." It is during these times that I stay in prayer and rely on the word.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." This particular verse has carried me through high school, college and through my 20s. I now look to this verse as hope for all that God is doing in my brother's life - I may not know the outcome of the story but I am confident that God will use his story in ministry to others.

Jenny Rain, in one of my recent posts (In God We Trust), shared that Isaiah 41:10 was leaning on her heart. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." I immediately thought of my parents - I feel as though this is verse was specifically written to them.
Puzzle 6 Serenity
Ten years ago, I was a sophomore in college. Prior to graduating high school, I think my brother was starting to experiment with drugs, but I don't think anyone was completely aware of how serious his condition (behaviors/choices) had gotten. Over the past few years, we've tried to put together the pieces...we've tried to identify what went wrong or put someone to blame.

I've learned though that sometimes the greatest stories ever told are painful to read and certainly painful to live...but if we fast-forward to the end, we'll never fully appreciate the journey. God WILL NOT give us more than we can handle, but we must remember that there are some situations that are bigger than us (my brother's addiction for example). It's during these times that we are truly challenged to walk in faith and fully trust in God.

I hope this offers a little more insight into my world...and my journey of faith. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, I encourage you to seek help and encouragement (in God and others). No one should have to face this alone.


22 comments:

Jill Samter Photography said...

Beautiful Ashley! Very well said. Hugs and you know I'm praying with you! God will carry this burden for you and your family. He has not turned the other way from your brother - He is still here calling Him unto Himself!

Much love, Jill

cooperl788 said...

Ashley, this is such a wonderful and heartfelt post! I thnk you said it perfectly when you said that God has a plan for your brother. He's one of God's children too, and He loves him as He loves you. I'll be praying with you!

Billy said...

I can't find an email on your site I have a couple images to beam over :)

Tammy said...

What a beautiful, powerful story. ♥ Keep your faith, know that prayers are being sent up for you, your family & your brother. You're faith is inspiring, Ashley!

Mom of M&Ms said...

great post.. way to share. In my own life.. the refinement of fire makes my walk with Christ pure gold...

The Shades of Pink said...

Oh Ashley, this is just beautiful. I am seriously fighting back tears. What a touching post.

Branson said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Ashely. Alcoholism runs in my family, and basically killed my father, and so I know all too well how hard it is to see it happening but not be able to stop it. I will definitely pray for your brother, and for your family to have wisdom and patience. Hang in there, friend!

Kristin said...

This was such a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing your world of faith! This was such beautifully written and I truly admire your faith, you are truly inspirational!

Liz said...

Thanks for being so real in this post. I will pray for you and your family and brother.

I too come from that type of situation. My Mother was an achoholic. Very hard. But God is awesome she gave her life to the Lord the year before she passed.

Do not give up hope God is working even now.

Becky said...

Ashley, It is so true, addictions are much like cancer. If you read my testimony on my page you will see this is very real to me at this time in my life. Thanks for this post as I too have a loved one that is afflicted with this.

Captivus said...

So beautiful and inspiring.

Kelsey said...

such a beautiful post.

Carol said...

I think I'm going to write down that passage that Jenny suggested. You know our lives run parallel in this regard. I know the pain, the helplessness, and the stress that this brings to a family. Thanks for sharing a piece of your journey with us. Today - I'm going to remember that the Lord has not foresaken us. Bless you, Ashley.

Erin said...

This is such a powerful analogy and a reminder that everyone's journey is not the same as ours. This is beautifully written with love and respect for your brother. I'm glad I found your blog. I'm your newest follower.
Blessings,
~Erin
http://mynuggetsoftruth.blogspot.com/

My Photographic Eye by Irela said...

Ashley....what an beautiful and inspiring post. I will pray for you, your brother and your family. Thank you for always staying so real. I love reading your posts......truly. Sending a big cyber hug your way.

Jessica said...

Thank you for sharing this, Ashley. I love your perspective. Continuing to pray for you and your family.

Christina Klas said...

Beautiful.

Katie said...

Oh Ashley, my heart goes out to your brother...as well as you and the rest of your family. I'll be praying that God gives him the revelation he needs to walk the straight and narrow. (((hugs)))) my friend!

AlyGatr said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I will share with you that I spent most of my adult life watching addiction tear my brother's life to pieces. He'd get off track, the back, then off. His was like a puzzle that would get half finished then destroyed, then started again, over and over. Eventually HE had to get tired of constantly trying to put the same puzzle together over and over and over again. And he did. The faith he found was like a tiny thread he was barely able to grab and hold on to. After 20 years, he's finally gotten his life together, though it's still a constant battle to keep the pieces together.

Susan said...

What a well written post. I love your jigsaw puzzle analogy. It’s our nature to try and pinpoint “Where things went wrong” when watching a loved one(s) spiral down a path of self-destruction. It’s very hard for the person with the structured puzzle mentality to understand the rationality of the second more chaotic method. In truth, there is never one point (or other person) to blame, and as much as we try, there never seems to be a quick fix, only the hope that the chaotic puzzle will soon become whole again, and the person you remember returns. ~ I hope it's soon!

elizabeth said...

Fabulous photos and great analogy! I pray for your brother.

Casey Martinez said...

Love that you were able to dig deep for this post and share a bit more about your brother and the impact that he has had on you and your faith. Long trials, addictions and health battles are exhausting aren't they. I do pray that someday your brother is able to be restored, delivered of his addiction and set free in Jesus name. I pray for your family that you do not grow weary in doing good as scripture says for at the proper time...you will reap a harvest!! Beautiful post Ashley and love the puzzle metaphor!