Sunday, December 19, 2010

Two Important Words, "I Apologize"

Today I did what I've been putting off for countless weeks, I sent the two hardest amends letters I had to send. I know that they can respond any way they choose, and I'm praying for a softened heart in case of rejection, and a renewed sense of determination to no matter the outcome, to continue down the path the Lord has placed before me...the narrow, less taken one. After all, actions speak louder than words...and my actions have been nothing but a stumbling block for me in the past, but I refuse to allow them to be a rock on my path heading into this healthier, grace-filled future.

Why is it that our prisons are full, countries and groups are forever waging war, and wherever we go, we are exposed to mistreatment? Is it because we were made from clay, and like pottery, we are fragile and imperfect? No matter how magnificent a ceramic work of art is, it remains delicate and must be handled with care. Are we any different? Won't a harsh word, a critical look, or angry shove shatter the person it's directed at?

Because of our imperfections, we occasionally say and do hurtful things. That's why the two most important words are "I apologize." True, an apology cannot undo the harm already done, but at least it can restore the dignity of the victim.

Some are fearful of apologizing, believing it to be a sign of weakness. They don't want to appear submissive or hand over power to another. But when they committed their hurtful acts, weren't they aggressive, and didn't they usurp the power of the victim? So, it is only fitting that they reverse roles by sincerely expressing their sorrow for acting inappropriately.

When one offends someone, they've done the wrong thing; not to apologize is to refuse to do the right thing and compound the offense. Refusing to apologize is not a sign of strength but weakness. After all, one who refuses to say they're sorry acts out of fear, but one who admits they were wrong and asks for forgiveness acts out of courage.

What do you do if your apology is rejected? Respect the right of the victim to do so. Yet, if your misconduct was not exceptionally grave and your apology was sincere, their refusal to accept it makes them equally guilty, for now they are being hurtful. At such a time, don't perpetuate the problem by expressing anger. Rather, acknowledge that you've arrived at this point because of your own misconduct, accept the humiliation, forgive the person you offended, and move on.

Ironically, our misconduct can act as a blessing in disguise, for it is an opportunity to awaken to our faults, express remorse, and change our ways by repenting. It is an opportunity for spiritual growth. Remember, however, that this opportunity came about at the expense of another, so don't forget the pain you inflicted and do everything in your power to eliminate it.
Jesus spoke highly about repentance. Christ said, "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7). I refer to it as a process because repentance is not about FEELING sorry or SAYING, "Sorry!" But it is about DOING something about it; it is about making amends, making up for the harm already done. We can offend someone in the blink of an eye and apologize just as quickly, but making up for it can take time, so be prepared to invest that time.

More reasons for and benefits of apologizing include the following 1) Justice and fairness demand that we apologize any time we hurt others. 2) It is an opportunity to grow closer to God by practicing humility. 3) It is a gift we offer our victim, for by showing them they are worthy of an apology, we are offering them respect and restoring the esteem we took away by the offense. 4) It can heal damaged relationships, for by apologizing, you are expressing that the relationship is important to you and you want to make amends. 5) When you recognize and accept your weaknesses, you'll be better able to do the same for others, which is important because people are imperfect, mistakes will be made, and apologies will have to be accepted to restore harmony.
6) By accepting responsibility and showing respect for the injured party, we may actually strengthen the relationship. 7) By recognizing that we have acted inappropriately, we are beginning to act appropriately and mend our ways.


A further point is so important, it deserves its own paragraph. Apologies play a crucial role in family life. Parents need to treat their children with dignity and apologize when they are wrong. Likewise, children need to treat their parents with respect and say they are sorry when they misbehave. But how can children do so unless they learn from the example of their parents? Parents that are constantly squabbling set a poor example. Husbands and wives must beware of taking their mate for granted. Being married is no excuse for treating your partner unfairly and rudely. No one is more worthy of respect and appreciation than your spouse, so if you occasionally slip up, apologize as quickly as possible and make amends...(this is a toughy I've been working on HARD lately) Apologies and forgiveness, like love and trust, begin with a decision, so make a decision today to never take your spouse or children for granted. If you commit to them, they will commit to you.

An apology isn't complete unless we take all of the following steps. 1) Apologize quickly because you do not know how soon it will be too late. 2) Admit what you did. 3) Express your sorrow. 4) Be sincere by speaking from the heart and feeling the victim's pain. 5) Give your victim the opportunity to vent their feelings. 6) Make up for the harm you've done by taking corrective action, offering compensation, or making restitution. 7) Learn from the experience. Robert South has aptly written, "True repentance has a double aspect; it looks upon things past with a weeping eye, and upon the future with a watchful eye." 8) If your victim accepts your apology, accept their pardon with gratitude.

See how our missteps, mistakes, and misbehaviors can prove to be a valuable opportunity to become a better person? But, it remains true that the greatest gift we can offer others is to lead a life that doesn't need any apologies. Although it is hardly likely that any of us can reach that ideal, we must cling  (to our love, our guide, our teacher, Jesus Christ) to limit the damage we cause.

Be Restored!!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blindness

I had thoughts of what to write this evening. Then I came across this video. Please watch it. I've been overcome with God's grace which is new and fresh daily through this amazing video. I pray it will restore your spirit today as well beloved.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hang Up

In recovery the step I have been scared most of since the beginning is amends. Making amends for people who have hurt me, and whom I've hurt. Oddly enough...I find it MUCH easier to ask forgiveness for the things I've done to hurt people than to express the hurt other's have caused me. I think I'm still hurting. I watch a great show called Intervention on A&E. I've watched it for years and the thing that I love the most and makes me cry in almost every episode is the family members. Who even days before may have been so frustrated with the addict they were cursing to high heaven, in there face mad. But when coached after just a session with the interventionist on how to get their feelings out in a constructive way...tears flow. And the majority of the time the same sentence is uttered; "We just want the old _____ back." I long for people in my life to after cursing me to the ceiling, say that there's nothing they won't do to keep me a part of their lives as long as I'm following the correct path. I've never had that...and I'm very resentful and hurt because of it. They say hurt people hurt people, and that's exactly the pattern I've seen in my behavior. I understand that I have caused a lot of hurt, but I've been hurt too...and that's a tough one to proclaim. I'm just not sure about amends. I wish those people would soften their hearts and somehow find me...and knowing the God I know...I can't say that it's impossible. I pray daily I'll get there...and I have faith that I will, sometimes it simply overwhelms me. The task in itself, and the sadness written there in black and white. Do you have any amends stories to share? Successful or not so?

Interventions new season is beginning soon, and in the advertisements for it this girl says this line, "Heroin made the sun rise in my soul." Wow...that's powerful. Powerfully sad, profound, and true. These external addictions are amazing at numbing the world. And when the world goes down on us...we find that aaaahhh feeling...in drugs, alcohol, anything that calms us and makes the sun rise again within us. I can't wait to watch that episode...I pray that girl has a family that even though they are hurt by her actions, refuse to let her go without a fight. How I hope someone grabs her by the arm and tells her about her Father that has already won that war for her soul...all she has to do is claim it.

I pray for you!!! Be Restored!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

He Puts A Song In My Heart

Many of our favorite popular songs are love songs. A few weeks ago someone sent me a YouTube link of a preacher who used popular songs to illustrate how our love for God should express the same intimacy expressed in good love songs. Think of your favorite love song. Could you substitute the name of God or Jesus in the song? Would you be able to sing the song to the Almighty?
One of my favorite songs in Stevie Wonder’s “I just called to say I love you.” That’s a song I could sing to God. It doesn’t have to be any special day or reason to just call to say, “I love you” to our God.
Another favorite is Barry White’s, “My First, My Last, My Everything.” Don’t you think that describes the God of all creation? The Word says He is the Alpha and Omega. We know He is the first and the last. The question is whether we will make Him our everything? Marvin Gaye sang, “How Sweet it is To be Loved by You,” and along with Tammi Terrell he sang, “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough.” In the first song Marvin says, “I needed the shelter of someone’s arms and there you were. I needed someone to understand my ups and downs and there you were. With sweet love and devotion, gently touching my emotions, I want to stop and thank you…” Instead of saying “baby” at the end of that line, we could just as easily say, “Jesus.” In the second song, the lyrics say, “Ain’t no mountain high, ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough to keep me from getting to you.” Can you imagine what the walk of faith would be like if we were pursuing God this fervently?
And of course we cannot forget the smooth and silky song styling of Smokey Robinson. In one of his golden oldies, “Try Something New,” he talks about how persistent he will be to please his beloved. “I will build you a castle with a tower so high, it reaches the moon. I’ll gather melodies from birdies that fly and compose you a tune. Give you lovin’ warm as mama’s oven and if that won’t do, then I’ll try something new.” Are we trying to continue to do what God asks of us? And, when we don’t succeed are we willing to look to God and say, “then I’ll try something new?”
John 13: 35 says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
In the greatest passage of scripture on love, Paul explains to the Corinthians what love is—what it entails and what it is not. This is the same love we should be showing our God because it is exactly the kind of love He lavishes on us. We each have a special song that lifts our spirits. That song is typically a great hymn of the church or one of the contemporary gospel songs of gospel music stars like Mary, Mary, Fred Hammonds, Kirk Franklin, or Donnie McClurkin. But somewhere among your CDs or on your iPod playlist are some good old love songs. Pull one of them out, listen to it, and determine whether it is a song you could sing to God. “I just called to say I love you…and I mean it from the bottom of my heart!”



Be Restored!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm Here!!!!

Im here I promise!!! You and this blog have been in my thoughts daily...but tis the season to get behind on blogging and thinking straight :) thank you Sweet Kris for checking in on me. It amazes me that I have such dear sweet friends across the country I've never even met in person but have come to mean so much to me :) my internet is down at the moment so I'm posting this via iPhone...which isn't terribly easy :) so what have I missed?? I miss my sweet readers and commit to coming back now!!! Not a lot to really speak of but somehow my time has been split in several directions. How was your thanksgiving? Mine was previous, spent at my mom and stepdads house. The only person missing was my sweet little girl who stayed home with her daddy because she was sick with the flu. Dont worry...we wrapped up all the leftovers and took it to them :) she's all better now thankfully. We started our Christmas countdown today :) this season is so much fun with children. My little guy can't get enough of the Christmas lights. Are you doing anything for advent? I'll share some great ideas I got from fellow homeschoolers as well as what we are doing to countdown the days to our Saviors birthday. I love you all!!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One Step Closer

Dear friends. Forgive my absence on Friday. I need to take just a second to express my hope in our local law enforcement. Several month's ago my home was broken into and I was assaulted. With not a lot to go on there wasn't much hope that anyone would come to justice. I had left it in God's hands, (I had reached out to my family but no one was willing to help...so thank you LORD for my sweet friends who to this day continue to help catch this evil individual) and moved on with my life. We immediately moved from the residence where as we were packing up, there was a family across the street moving as well and we overheard them talk about the rash of break ins in that particular neighborhood. Blessedly settled in our new home we were able to move on. Then a friend who is more like a sister, so I'll just say..my sister :) sent me word that the almost exact crime had been committed near where she lived except this time a male was home and was able to over power the suspect. Immediately my other friend called and said he would go talk to that jurisdictions police which is one town over. Currently our town police are working with the adjacent police in questioning this individual. Please pray for justice and for wisdom for the authorities in this case so this individual doesn't terrorize anyone else. To read about the individual in custody, please click the link below. God is so good and takes care of His own!!

Police: Man Breaks Into Home, Performs Sexual Act - NW Arkansas News Story - KHBS NW Arkansas

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Testimony Tuesday

I have felt defeated since the second I awoke this morning. I've been struggling with my little boy lately with discipline. His father and I have little to no communication on how to discipline him and not knowing what transpires when my son is at his father's house or with the sitter they leave him with, I believe it creates a confusing little three year old fella. I've been beyond stressed out about how to handle this little ball of love but what can, at the turn of a hand, be a ball of fiery, stubborn fury. My daughter was and still is the most even tempered child ever to grace the earth and I dumbly assumed her brother would follow suit. WRONG! He can be the sweetest child in the world, but he can also be the most difficult. My feet hadn't even touched the ground this morning when I heard the infamous, "uh oh" in the kitchen following the sound of broken glass. My coffee had barely begun to brew when I had to go upstairs and settle a rift between the two of them. I felt defeated. I so often don't feel qualified for the awesome undertaking of parenthood. It was in the depths of these feelings upon the feelings of rejection last year that made me contemplate then attempt to end my life. I came across this testimony this morning, and tears sprang to my eyes immediately. Isn't that just like Jesus? To give us exactly what we need exactly when we need it? Encouragement. Love. Guidance. RESTORATION.

Desperate Hope

As the train rumbled past the East Coast countryside taking my daughter and me to New York City for a mother/daughter vacation, my thoughts were as piercing as the screeching wheels of the train. Why did he do it? Why did Greg take his own life? He was a distant relative whom I rarely saw, yet the news that Greg had committed suicide made tears spring into my eyes and a deep sadness fill my heart. Relatives asked, "How could anyone be that hopeless and helpless?"
But I knew.
As I glanced over at my twenty-eight-year-old daughter napping next to me on the double seat, I realized with a force I hadn't felt for a long time that if I'd taken my life, I would not have the fabulous mother-daughter relationship I now enjoyed with my daughter.
Twenty-six years ago, I couldn't imagine that would ever happen. The hopelessness and helplessness had been building for months. Larry and I had celebrated our seventh anniversary, but it wasn't a happy occasion. Unwisely, I'd asked again, "Larry, why do you work so many hours? Having a two-year-old and a newborn is such hard work;I need you to help me"
He frowned. "Kathy, I've tried to help you see that I'm working all these hours to secure our financial future. That's not easy on a cop's wages." Silence surrounded us like a dense fog.
The next day, tensions escalated. Will we get a divorce? Why can't we talk? We used to be so in love. Just as quickly, I prayed, "Lord, what's wrong?"
That question was a prayer I prayed many times, both about my marriage and my reactions to our two-year-old daughter, Darcy. My anger toward her seemed to explode more often when I felt rejected by Larry. Her strong-willed nature, which resisted my toilet training plan and constant temper tantrums, wore me down. My reactions had deteriorated into angry spankings.
One desperate day, my rage was out of control. I ran into my bedroom and slammed the door behind me. I'm no kind of mother! I can't believe I did that!
Then suddenly remembered where Larry stored his off-duty service revolver.
The gun! That's the answer! The gun! A tiny, sinister voice in my head whispered, Take your life. It's hopeless. Nothing has changed for months even though I've prayed over and over again; it's only gotten worse. God doesn't care. Otherwise He would instantaneously deliver me from my anger and heal our marriage. Larry hates me. I hate him and my life.
With trembling hands, I opened the locked drawer and almost gasped when the gleam from the shiny barrel of the gun glinted at me so invitingly. Darcy is better off without a mother like me. I'm ruining her for life. Seconds clicked off and then I reached for the cold revolver. But then a new thought suddenly popped into my mind. What will people think of Jesus if they hear that Kathy Miller took her life?
My hand stopped. The faces of the women in my neighborhood Bible study I led flitted before me. My family members who didn't know Christ came to mind. I thought of my neighbors I had witnessed to. Oh, Lord, I don't care about my reputation, but I do care about Yours!
I slammed the drawer shut and fell to my knees. The concern about Jesus' reputation saved my lie that day, and I knew it was prompted by the Holy Spirit. I didn't have any hope at that point but in the following months God proved Himself faithful by revealing the underlying causes of my anger, giving me patience to be a loving mom and then healing  my relationship with Larry. I read in Ephesians 4:26, "Be angry, and yet do not sin..." I realized that it wasn't sinful to feel angry, but it was sinful to respond in a rage or in bitterness. So I stopped trying to bury my anger and learned to express it constructively. I quit using it as a disciplinary tool and began consistently giving consequences for Darcy's misbehavior. I released Larry from holding the key to my joy and contentment and counted on God for that. As a result, Larry wanted to spend more time with me.
My reverie snapped back to the present as the train began slowing for the next stop. I looked over at my daughter, who had awakened and was gazing out the window. I smiled as I thought of her beautiful wedding we'd all enjoyed four years earlier. I wouldn't have been there if I'd committed suicide! The though struck me so forcefully, like never before. Then I recalled all the happy family events I would have missed if I'd taken my life, including our son's graduation from college-despite his learning disabilities. I though of the opportunities I'd had to speak in thirty states and five foreign countries and the forty-eight books I'd authored. I smiled thinking of Larry, my best friend, and our glorious love affair; we'd recently celebrated our thirty-second anniversary. The list went on and on. I I'd used that gun that day, I wouldn't have been at all those family events, but Larry's second wife may have been. And how my daughter and son would have grieved over a missing mother who seemed to be more absorbed in her own pain than them.
Yes, I understood how Greg could have felt so little hope-in fact, no hope at all. How I wish I could have shared with him that there is always hope, and God is faithful if we will hold on to His promises.
My daughter faced me on the train. "Mom, I'm so excited we're going to New York City together! I wouldn't have missed this for anything."
"Me neither, honey. Me neither."

Kathy Collard Miller

Friday, November 12, 2010

Funny Friday

Random things that make me smile. Have a great weekend!

~The Vending Machine Theory : "Stuff tastes better when it falls".

~Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

~Dyslexics Of The World Untie.

~Don't steal. The government hates competition.

~You know you have a small apartment when Coco Pops echo.

~If a wolf can take down a deer from either flank, does that make him bambidextrous? (Stop shaking your head...you know that's funny)


~I went too a restaurant that served breakfast at anytime, so i ordered french toast during the renaissance.

~To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

~Depression is just anger without enthusiasm. (hey, ya gotta laugh at yourself sometimes!)

~Always remember that you are unique; just like everyone else.

~We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.


~The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
 
~How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

~I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian

:)) Be Restored!!! God is good....all the time!!! :)))

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fear Of Change

Fear of change can keep us from confronting problems in our lives and get us stuck in our recoveries. Deep down inside, we know that change is inevitable. However, because we already have to adjust so many changes that we have no control over-growing older, loss of employment, floods, fires, car accidents, medical crises-we delude ourselves into believing that things will be all right if they just stay the same. WRONG!

Due to the success of bestselling self-help books on any number of topics, it would seem that there are many of us who really do want to change our patterns of behavior. But after reading the books, we often question ourselves. How will our relationships be altered if we change? Will we be comfortable with our new identity?

Most of us fear change, and we can sometimes allow that fear to get us stuck. In the recovery program I'm in principle five says: "Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects." It helps to understand that there are three main reasons we resist change.

1. We may be paralyzed by the fear of failure. But falling down doesn't make us a failure; STAYING down does. This is where our faith and trust in Jesus Christ comes into play. Philippians 4:19 assures us: And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

2.  We may fear intimacy because of the fear of rejection (YOU LISTENING CHERRI???) or of being hurt again. This is why it is so important to move slowly in a new relationship, taking time to seek God's will, to develop realistic expectations and to establish proper boundaries. *note...none of which I've done in ANY of my relationships. My mom always likes to say, "Jessica, do you realize you always do things backwards?" And she's right. I've done them fast, backwards, inside out, upside down. Basically every way but SLOW, and Christ SEEKING. Now that I'm learning, constantly learning, new tools...I can finally see that taking time to seek God and HIS will alone (His ways are not my ways) is the only thing that will bring about TRUE change. I've always gone too fast and too furious only to find nothing good from it. No foundation means no solid structure. So going forward with my relationships...all of them...HIS is the only counsel I choose to seek.*  We hold tightly to Psalm 118:6: "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

3.  "We may resist change (growth!) because of the fear of the unknown. We may think, "My life is a mess, my relationships are a mess, but at least I know what to expect-a mess!" The unknown can be scary if we are trying to face it alone. That is why we need to rely on Christ. God tells us in Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am  you God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

If we find ourselves "stuck" it may be that we are resisting a change that God wants us to make. It is only through change that growth can occur. It is only through change that we can become free from our hurts, hang-ups and habits.

BE RESTORED!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Testimony Tuesday

I wanted to do something just a little different today. A little background on why this was chosen for testimony Tuesday.

I love to read. But I can only read one book at a time. Much to my frustration. Whether it's a study book, a novel, text book...doesn't matter...I get things mixed up and confused if I attempt to read more than one book at a time. Which for a bookworm like myself is VERY frustrating. That's why I love Chicken Soup books. I get them often when we venture to the library. If I don't have time to just sit and read for a couple of hours but have a few minutes of downtime I can quickly pick one up...read a story or two, and go on about my business.

This story I found the other night while reading right before bed and knew immediately I wanted to share it. It is a great illustration about just how unimportant denominations in the grand scheme of the Kingdom of Heaven really is. It is so easy for Christian's to get caught up in the simple, subtle (or not so subtle) differences of their denominations that's all they focus on. Meanwhile, while they're bickering about why the church across the street allows it's members to wear jeans to service while that one thinks it's blasphemous, someone is standing on that same street corner wondering where they're going to get their next heroin balloon and secretly wishing someone would walk out the doors of one of those church doors and show them a different way of life, or a word of hope, or a compassionate hug. I hope this story brings things into perspective for you like it did for me.

The Agnes Story

    I wandered up and down the streets of Honolulu at 3:30 in the morning. Since I live on the East Coast, it felt like 9:00am to me. I was wide awake and hungry for breakfast, but found nothing open before dawn.
    Up a side street I found a little place. I went in, took a seat on one of the stools at the counter, and waited to be served. This was one of those sleazy places that deserved the name "greasy spoon." I mean, I did not even touch the menu. I was afraid that if I opened the thing something gruesome would crawl out. But it was the only place I could find.
    The fat guy behind the counter came over and asked me, "What d'ya want?" I told him, "A cup of coffee and a donut." He poured a cup of coffee, wiped his grimy hand on his smudged apron, then grabbed a donut off the shelf behind him. As I sat there munching on my donut and sipping my coffee at 3:35, the door of the diner suddenly swung open and, to my discomfort, in marched eight or nine provocative looking and boisterous prostitutes.
    It was a small place, and they sat on either side of me. Their talk was loud and crude. I felt completely out of place and was just about to make my getaway when I overheard the woman sitting beside me say, "Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm going to be thirty nine." Her "friend" responded in a nasty tone, "So what do you want from me? A birthday party? What do you want? Ya want me to get you a cake and sing happy birthday?" "Come on!" said the woman next to me. "why do you have to be so mean? I was just telling you, that's all. Why do you have to put me down? I don't want anything from you. I mean, why should you give me a birthday party? I've never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?"
    When I heard that, I made a decision. I sat and waited until the women and left. Then I called over to the fat guy behind the counter and I asked him, "Do they come in here every night?" "Yea," he answered. "The one right next to me, does she come here every night?" "Yeah," he said. "That's Agnes. Yeah, she comes in here every night. Why d'ya want to know?"
    "Because I heard her say that tomorrow is her birthday. What do you think about us throwing a birthday party for her-right here, tomorrow night?"
    A smile slowly crossed his chubby face and he answered with measured delight, "That's great! I like it!" Calling to his wife, who did the cooking in the back room, he shouted, "Hey! Come out here! This guy's got a great idea! Tomorrow's Agnes's birthday. This guy wants us to go in with him and throw a birthday party for her-right here-tomorrow night!"
    His wife came out of the back room all bright and smiley. She said, "That's wonderful! You know, Agnes is one of those people who is really nice and kind, and nobody ever does anything nice and kind for her."
    "Look," I told them. "If it's okay with you, I'll get back here tomorrow morning around 2:30 and decorate the place. I'll even get a birthday cake."
    "No way," said Harry(that was his name). "The birthday cake's my thing. I'll make the cake."
    At 2:30 the next morning I was back at the diner. I had picked up some crepe paper decorations at the store and made a sign out of big pieces of cardboard that read, "Happy Birthday, Agnes!" I decorated the diner from one end to the other. I had that diner looking good.
     The women who did the cooking must have gotten the word out to people on the street, because by 3:15 every prostitute in Honolulu was in the place. It was wall-to-wall prostitutes....and me!
     At 3:30 on the dot, the door of the diner swung open and in came Agnes and her friends. I had everybody ready and when they came in we all screamed, "Happy Birthday!"
    Never had I seen a person so flabbergasted...so stunned....so shaken. Her mouth fell open. Her legs seemed to buckle a bit. Her friend grabbed her arm to steady her. As she was led to one of the stools along the counter we all sang happy birthday to her. As we came to the end, "Happy birthday, dear Agnes, happy birthday to you," her eyes moistened. Then, when the birthday cake with all the candles on it was carried out, she lost it and openly cried.
    Harry gruffly mumbled, "Blow out the candles, Agnes! Come on! If you don't blow out the candles, I'm gonna!" And after an endless few seconds, he did. Then he handed her the knife and told her, "Cut the cake, Agnes. Yo, Agnes, we all want some cake."
    Agnes looked down at the cake. Then without taking her eyes off it, slowly and softly said, "Look, Harry, is it all right with you if I...what I want to ask you is...I mean is it all right if we don't eat it right away?"
    Harry shrugged and answered, "Sure! It's okay. If you want to keep the cake, keep the cake. Take it home if you want to."
    "Can I?" she asked. Then looking at me she said, "I live just down the street a couple of doors. I want to take the cake home and show it to my mother, okay? I'll be right back, honest."
    She got off the stool, picked up the cake and, carrying it like it was the Holy Grail, walked slowly toward the door. As we all stood there motionless, she left.
    When the door closed there was a stunned silence in the place. Not knowing what else to do, I broke the quiet by saying, "What do you say we pray?"
  Looking back on it now it seems more than strange for a sociologist to be leading a prayer meeting with a bunch of prostitutes in a diner in Honolulu at three-thirty in the morning. But it just felt like the right thing to do. I prayed for Agnes. I prayed for her salvation. I prayed that her life would be changed and that God would be good to her.
    When I finished, Harry leaned over the counter and said, "Hey, you never told me you were a preacher. What kind of church do you belong to?"
    In one of those moments when just the right words came, I answered, "I belong to a church that throws parties for whores at three-thirty in the morning."
    Harry waited for a moment, then he answered, "No you don't. There's not church like that. If there was, I'd join a church like that!"
    "There is a church like that, Harry-started by a man who did JUST that. Let me tell you about Jesus..."

Tony Campolo

Be Restored!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oh That Chisel

First let me just say how GREAT it feels to wake up before 9 on a Saturday morning not nursing a hangover. Seriously...I can't believe I allowed myself to live that way for so long. On Saturday's when I was alone I use to not wake up until the afternoon then wander around the house pretending to be doing something before laying back on the couch wishing I didn't feel miserable. Then guess what I would do Saturday night? What a waste. What a dark place. But God never wastes a pain...and I'm certainly not going to let this life go to waste any longer.

But the road to recovery still lends itself to hurt. But now the hurt isn't self inflicted. I've turned my life over to my Abba...so it's time for Him to chisel away. It's discipline. And though I know the outcome will ultimately be extraordinary...doesn't mean it's not a painful process.

In preparing for a meeting this coming week, I was reading through a book and there was a great line in it, "truth decay"...which is just a way of saying coming clean. It is here that we openly examine and confess our faults to ourselves, to God, and another person we trust. We chip away and clean out all the decay of the past that has built up over the years and has kept us from really seeing the truth about our past and present situations. How uncomfortable and hard is that? But one of the biggest and most important steps in recovery...look at it, jump in, roll around in it, confess it, accept it, ask then accept forgiveness for it...then LET IT GO.

Opening up and letting it out is where we start and ugh...how hard a task can that be. Job said: "Let me express my anguish. Let me be free to speak out of the bitterness of my soul." (7:11) It's not like He's going to be surprised about what we have to express...He just wants to HEAR it from our own mouths.

But what about guilt? This one is HUGE for me right now. Do you know and understand the God-given purpose of guilt? God uses guilt to correct us through His Spirit when we are wrong. That's called conviction. And conviction HURTS!

But don't confuse conviction with condemnation. Romans 8:1 tells us, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ." Once we have made the decision to ask Jesus into our hearts, once we confess our wrongs, accept Christ's perfect forgiveness, and turn from our sins, as far as God is concerned, guilt's purpose-to make us feel bad about what we did in the past-is finished. But we like to hold on to it and beat ourselves over the head-repeatedly-with it!

That's condemnation, but it's not from God, it's from ourselves.

That chisel is painful, but so necessary to the process of constantly dealing with our struggles and learning new techniques to dealing with not only our past, but everything we encounter on a daily basis. Like Peter says, "the proverbs are true: A dog returns to its vomit, and a washed pig returns to the mud." That was me! I kept returning to my old ways...and where did it lead me? Back to another day, in the depths of depression, regretting what I'd done, but doing them all over again the next day. Thank you GOD for rescue. Thank YOU for your chisel. I'd take it any day over the life you have saved me from.

 Be restored.

God's Chisel

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Casting Off This Flesh

I woke up this morning with a horrible head cold. My kids seem to sense I'm under the weather...because they become LOUDer than usual, and do things they wouldn't normally do. I walked into the living room shivering and sneezing, to see a catastrophic mess and it's not even 10:00am. I won't be teaching my preschool class...but I needed to come upstairs and get my devotional....while gathering my books I sat down to check my e-mail. While finishing that up, I decided to check the blog. Ohh I feel like death...and know I look as good as I feel. That made me shift my thoughts to the Serenity Prayer...and if you're unfamiliar with it...I'd like to share it with you...before I curl up in bed with my tissue and nyquil and a prayer my house is still standing when the day is done:


God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen

I've prayed that prayer close to hundreds of times...and the last two lines still tear me up sometimes. No, it's not the head cold...it's the reminder that this is just flesh...and it will and does fail. This isn't my home. And that in itself is a reason to wake up everyday...head cold or not. Be restored loved ones!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Testimony Tuesday

Today we hear from Bill. A believer who struggles with addictive behaviors and codependency

"Can't you do anything right?" "What's wrong with you?" "I wish you'd never been born." The seeds of shame were sown and repeatedly fertilized throughout my youth. My dad was an abusive alcoholic, a man in pain. In his confused evaluation, I was bad, unworthy of his love and utterly displeasing to him. When he died I didn't cry-not because I didn't care, but because I'd been taught that a man doesn't cry. I became the man of the house, a surrogate husband for my mom and a surrogate dad for my brother. I began to resent this emotional connection with my mom, and this carried over into my relationships with all other women.

At about this time a confusing thing happened to me: I was sexually abused by a woman in her 30's. My feelings were conflicted, though, because it felt good but I also felt damaged and ashamed. I had no one to turn to, not even God. Growing up, I'd been taught to be afraid of God, knowing that I could never achieve his impossible standards of perfection. Since I'd been made to believe from the outset that I was a mistake, my self-image became performance-based: whatever value I may have had come from what I did, not from who I was. At times, even today, I still fight that all-too-familiar battle.

I excelled as a student in academics and as an adult in work, all the while seeking drugs, sex, and self-made pornographic movies as an escape. One morning I found a note from my wife. She stated simply that she couldn't "do this" anymore and proceeded to leave both me and my son behind. The ordeal crushed my heart. I resented my mom for the emotional abuse and now my wife for abandoning me. I became a man trapped in a catch -22: I hated women  but couldn't live without them.

I wandered for many years in an emotional wasteland before finally hitting the wall. I lost my career, my financial well-being and my perceived ability to control my own life. It was then that my story shifted. God allowed Leslie, my wife now of 15 years, to lead me to the Lord. Through her loving and patient intervention I became a new creation in Christ. But that was only the start of the process, not the end. I was still struggling with the poisonous influence of all the junk I had accumulated in my life. I grappled endlessly with the pervasive question why. I wept and cursed at God-and He responded by allowing me to see precisely what I needed, right there in the midst of all my pain. I needed to reduce the size of my rear view mirror. I needed to heal. I needed to understand why I was perpetually abusing the woman I loved more than life itself. I needed to get in touch with my feelings, to deal with the abuse I had endured in an appropriate manner-not in a way that continued to hurt my wife and others, I needed to forgive and let God take control. I submitted myself to the process of recovery thorough the celebrate recovery program. It was hard, painful work, and at times it still is. But the results over time tell the story. Nothing is beyond repair-NOTHING.

My life has been one of struggle, much like Esau's. I had made foolish decisions and allowed my pain to turn into anger that was directed at others. In Genesis 33 Esau, who had been so wronged, demonstrated without words that he had found forgiveness in his heart and recovery from his hatred. Like him, I have truly learned to forgive, neither expecting nor wanting anything in return. There's no doubt that I had every "reason" to retaliate, but instead, through the intervention of Christ, I've asked God to forgive my deceitful heart. I've managed with the Holy spirit's help to let go of my past. I thank God daily for the gift of forgiveness because nothing less could have brought reconciliation into my life and healing to my heart.

Pretty powerful stuff is an understatement. Reading Bill's testimony really made me curious about the Biblical person he compared himself to, Esau. I, before reading this, knew very little about this guy. Read Genesis 33 to learn more about this fella. Here's a character study on Esau:

Esau's life was marred by family struggle, beginning already when his "younger" twin brother and rival-to-be was born grasping his heel. Esau is often presented as a fool. He certainly made a snap decision in trading his inheritance for a bowl of stew, and later grieved both his parents by marrying two pagan Hittite women. But Esau was also robbed of the firstborns blessing by his devious brother, who conspired with his own mother. This tragic account reflects a home with a fatal flaw. Each parent had a favorite son, and in both cases their selection was based on personal preferences. The lack of mutual love and respect between the parents is especially glaring in Rebekah's deception of her own husband. The theft of his blessing led Esau to swear, "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob." Jacob, at mom's direction, fled for his life to his uncle in faraway Haran.
As Jacob at long last traveled back home from the north, he both plotted and prayed, fearful of facing Esau. But to Jacob's relief he found a brother who had recovered from his hatred and had set aside his drive to retaliate. Esau hugged and kissed Jacob and wept with him over their separation and reunion. Esau had learned to forgive and, in doing, he recovered a brother and a friend. Although Esau wanted noting in payment from Jacob, this formerly rash young man now had the grace to accept a gift anyway. He was reconciled to Jacob and respected by his brother's family.

Hanging on to bitterness, refusing to forgive what is past, can prevent us from enjoying God's provision in the present. Esau had made foolish decisions. But he had also been grievously wronged. Yet somewhere along the way he had found the wisdom and grace to let go of his past. We need to do the same in our recovery. What's done is done. We may have been wronged by members of our own family. But bitterness only prolongs our suffering. And unforgiving spirit builds barriers that isolate us from the love we could otherwise be enjoying. As God's children, each of us is commanded to "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32) God's pardon to us was unconditional, and we too are to forgive without reservation. Setting aside our right to assign blame can bring reconciliation with others and healing to our own hearts.

Esau was willing to take his eyes off Jacob, look around at what God had given him, and announce that he already had plenty. We need to take a cue from Esau: We need to lay aside bitterness and take an unobstructed look at our own blessings.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Turning From The OLD Life

Such a simple sentence isn't it? What is it like for you? Does it come easy? (if so PLEASE e-mail me how it is and where you've come from and what makes it so easy!!!) Are some days easier than others? Some days do you just wake up and think, "I'm gonna screw up today...I can just feel it". Or is that just me? What are some of your old descriptions of life? Here are some examples:

"Life is a hereditary disease."
"Life is a sentence that we have to serve for being born."
"Life is a predicament that precedes death."
"Life's a tough proposition; and the first hundred years are the hardest."

Those are depressing words that you may feel are true if your life doesn't include Jesus Christ. After you ask Jesus into your heart, you will have a new life! You will no longer be bound to your old sinful nature. You will receive a new loving nature dwelling within you from Christ. But it doesn't happen over night!!! It's a DAILY process. That's why we must continue to saturate ourselves in the Word.

God has declared you "not guilty," and you no longer have to live under the power of sin...how cool is that?!? Romans 3:22 says it well: "Now God says he will accept and acquit us-declare us 'not guilty' if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins."

Second Corinthians 5:17 says: "When anyone is joined in Christ he is a new being; the OLD is GONE, the NEW has COME." (emphasis mine). I don't know about you...but that pumps me up!!! In what ways does the "new life" demonstrate itself in us?


The OLD you said,

Save your life!
Get get get!
Lead, at all costs.
Lie; the truth only complicates things.
Hate your enemy
The NEW you says,

You must lose your life to keep it (Mark 8:35)
Give and it will be given to you (Luke 6:38)
Serve (John 13:12)
Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:29)
Love your enemy (Matthew 5:44)

It's a DAILY choice to seek and follow God's will. We can begin by going to the Bible regularly, opening it prayerfully, reading it expectantly and living it joyfully.

I'd like to conclude today's post with this sweet story. We can learn so much about uncomplicated faith from children.

The parent of a preschooler shared with the teacher and episode pertaining to her daughter's recent visit to the pediatrician. When the doctor got out the stethoscope to listen to the little girl's chest, she requested solemnly, "Please don't push too hard with that thing. I don't want you to hurt Jesus. He lives in my heart."

It's not easy...so let's, together, make a conscious decision daily to give our lives over to God. Because after all, it is His Son who lives within us! Be restored!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

That Darn Faith

When I'm in bed alone in the mornings, (not completely alone...my jack russell fur baby is coiled up like a snake on my feet), I usually reach over and grab my phone. Habit. I check to see if I have any texts, e-mails, any scrabble games going on, and of course...facebook. This morning the first thing I read was from a friend of mine that I've been friends with pretty much forever. He has confessed his uncomfortableness with my change of attitude and faith in the "unseen". Today...he had questions about faith. What exactly it is, how it is I could continue to trust someone I don't see or hear. Which of course started the wheels of my brain for the day, (BEFORE a  single cup of coffee...now that's saying something!) So I turned to my devotional...and what'd ya know! Just the answers I was looking for.

Why is it so hard for us to trust our lives to the care of God, whose eye is always upon us? I don't know about you, but I would rather walk with God in the darkest valley than walk alone, or with a stranger in the light. But what is faith? Faith is not a sense, sight, or (here's a tough one) reason. Faith is simply taking God at HIs word. And God's Word tells us in Romans 10:9: "If you declare with your lips, "Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

For some people that's just way too simple. They want to make salvation much  more difficult. But it isn't! Our salvation, thank God, depends on God's love for us, not our love for Him.

Sometimes we just have to let go, and let God. Watch THESE sweet testimonies, and be restored.

Funny Friday

A day late!! But I had to get it in there!!! Pardon the absence. It's not all the way funny...because it's painfully true. Kind of puts things in perspective don't you think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Testimony Tuesday

Today we meet Brenda who is recovering from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and alcoholism.

As I was growing up, my family attended church every Sunday. The truth was, though, that we got dressed up once a week so that everyone in town could see how religious we were, only to return home to drunken rages and abusive lives.

My father was an alcoholic and as his drinking worsened, so did his abuse. At first it was strictly verbal, but around the time I turned nine it turned physical. My mother and I were the primary targets. I remember one horrible night watching my dad attempt to strangle my mom. I tried to stop him but he threw me across the room and kicked me several times in disgust.

The abuse in my life wasn't all perpetrated by my father. I also suffered sexual impropriety at the hands of other family members. Three of my grandparents were also practicing and abusive alcoholics.

Despite the chaos, I excelled in school. Tragically, though, at the age of eleven I too discovered alcohol. Suddenly I felt comfortable in my own skin. I began to drink more often, always to the point of passing out. At age 14, I acquired a fake ID so I could buy liquor. I wore heavy makeup, acted out sexually and tried drugs. As my alcohol and drug use increased, so did my promiscuity. I relied on relationships with men to feel loved and to soothe the pain of my childhood. I was sexually active with multiple partners from the ages of 14 to 25, during which time I had two abortions.

I continued to believe I was in control of my life, but this was not the case. I was fired from my job, which had entailed traveling across the country for a large corporation. I never traveled without a supply of illicit drugs, and I'd drink to the point of blackouts and sleep with strangers in every city. My boss caught me in a lie that put the company's reputation at risk and he rightly questioned my integrity. My shame was compounded when I received a DUI that same year and realized that my live-in boyfriend was dealing drugs from our home.

Spiritually bankrupt, I sank to the lowest point in my life, crying out or God but truly expecting nothing. I was in bondage to alcohol, drugs, sex and the aftereffects of my childhood abuse. I was at this point willing to do anything to obliterate the pain. After a failed suicide attempt I entered treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. There I was introduced to the secular 12 steps but steered clear of the God I'd known as a child-the one who had deserted me in my suffering.

Although I managed to stay clean and sober for 8 years, other addictions filled the void. I became a workaholic who would turn around and spend my hard-earned money on other temporary fixes. I dined at the finest restaurants and began struggling with my weight, all the while continuing on the path of destructive sexual relationships.

Just when I began to wonder whether that was all there was to life, I received a job offer that promised to relocate me to the other side of the country. Far away from family, friends and accountability, I slipped away from reality almost to the point of relapse. At that point God intervened and saved my life. Several of my new business associates were bold enough to talk about their church. I had never witnessed young, successful adults talking about a church with such enthusiasm. For the first time in my life, I began hearing the true message of hope. Pastor spoke about a ministry called Celebrate Recovery and I wondered whether God could truly love me in spite of my sin and shame.

In the summer of 1997 I first attended Celebrate Recovery. I fell in love with Jesus Christ and made Him my Higher Power, and through the experience I was also reunited with a man I once hurt but who is now my loving husband. We serve God together at Celebrate Recovery and live to offer our experiences, victories and hope to other hurting people. Like Mary Magdalene my bondage to the "demons" in my life was broken by Jesus.

I have more love in my life than I'd ever before imagined, more friends than I can count, a devoted husband, a darling baby daughter and a God who has delivered me from bondage. My purpose in life has been clarified: I'll follow God's leading with all my heart and help others find their way out of darkness. I've also discovered my life's verse: "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." Zechariah 4:6

What did you think of Brenda's testimony? I can relate on a high level because I too struggle with sexual addiction. Please take time to read the story of our "sister in shame" Mary Magdalene in John 20:1-18. Her deliverance from bondage to Satan had left her with a depth of devotion to Jesus the other disciples lacked.

There's a sharp contrast in this story between Mary Magdalene and the male disciples. Her gratitude for recovery had made her a permanent, faithful servant of Christ. Although each of the disciples had received a special call and commission, they lacked Mary's history of bondage. Only John among the Eleven witnessed Jesus on the cross. Mary Magdalene was there, supporting Jesus and his mother and aunt. And Mary Magdalene and another Mary followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to see the location of the tomb (Mark 15:42-47)After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene led other women to the tomb to anoint the body of her Savior (mark 16:1)

The deeper our bondage, the greater will be our gratitude for God's grace. This equips us, like Mary, with a story and dedication to Jesus that many other disciples lack. The pain of Mary's past kept her close to Jesus even when others deserted Him.

GOD NEVER WASTES PAIN!!! He used the pain of Mary's past to shape her into his messenger. Jesus wants us to tell our stories! Tell others there's nothing more to fear; after all, you've seen the Lord! We can tell our story to those who languish behind locked doors and look for opportunities to share it with the fearful, the imprisoned, the hurting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Failing Success

This journey to sobriety is anything but uneventful. My husband and I love ufc and watching mixed Marshall arts fighting. I've never NEVER watched a fight without a joint and plenty of booze to knock me into a coma until next week. Seriously...thank goodness we record them because I wake up the next...er...afternoon, wondering who won the fights and re watching them again nursing my bottle of water and handful of aspirin. Sounds like a terrific time doesn't it?

Saturday was the big fight with my favorite heavy weight and I was ubber excited. Though gloriously exhausted from the two hour drive to Tulsa, the massive amount of knowledge received at the CR one day, and the 4 hour drive back...oh, why 4 hours? Because I'm blessed with internal navigation (scoff) and ended up driving up to good ol' Joplin, Missouri on the way back to Arkansas. That's time number 4 I've done that. If I hadn't been trying to stay down the right road spiritually, no one would have been able to stop me from swinging by Downstream casino to blow off steam with a cocktail and blow some money I didn't have to blow at the slots. But, instead I laughed, then cried as I got lost, stopped for gas in the middle of nowhere, (you'd think for this being my 4th time getting lost I'd remember my way back from the lost place without getting lost, wrong) and asked hillbilly santa...who was as nice as he was creepy, how to get home. He was precious in not making fun of my idiotness and got me back on track. Then once finally in Fayetteville where I'm never EVER leaving again, I met up with my husband and our local watering hole/sports bar. Alright Jessica, here's your test. Cute little waitress bounds up and asks us what we want to drink. I looked around the place watching people drinking their rum and cokes (my favorite mixed drink) laughing and cutting up, or pouring from their 3rd pitcher of beer of the night that just was getting started. "Sigh...Dr.Pepper please." Nursing my dr. pepper like it was the last beverage on earth I chatted about my wonderful day with hubby before the fights began. We ordered a super healthy dinner...I had a Reuben sandwich extra kraut (of course) and hubby had two chili dogs. Fights began but I couldn't pay attention. I couldn't get into it like I usually do. Sure I still enjoyed watching grown men dance around the ring and try to figure out who was bleeding and from where, but the truth was, I just couldn't do it. The smoke in the air, which with weakened senses doesn't bother me a bit, was making me incredibly sick to my stomach. I craved air, I craved...of all things, water. I needed to get out of there, and fast. So I apologized to my husband who is an old hat compared to me at resisting alcohol, and dashed out the door for my car. Driving home my eyes began to sting even more but this time it was because of emotions, not cigarette smoke. I cried the entire way home. This is going to be harder than I thought. It's so embarrassing to say, but it's like mourning a death in a way. Driving into my mixed neighborhood of families and college kids, every garage where college people resided was open with tv's and kegs and coolers and laughing, ridiculously jovial drunk kids in them. Pulling into my dark driveway I sat there with the engine off and I heard it, "Be still. Know I am God. I have plans for you Jessica. You're MINE. Trust Me, lean on Me." I smiled, got out of the car, shook my head at how silly it would sound to someone who has never struggled with an addiction as strong and life altering as alcohol but make no mistake, is very REAL. I could never ever in my wildest dreams imagine doing this alone. I can't. I won't. I'm leaning on the everlasting arms, and it feels sssoo good to admit just how powerless I really am.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mind If I Brag?

Can I take just a second to brag on my God for a bit? Yesterday I attended the Celebrate Recovery seminar in Tulsa and it was WONDERFUL. The worship was fantastic, the teaching was superb, the testimonies were almost too much to handle. What a great time with other cracked pots out there. They always introduced themselves like this:

Hi, my name is ______. I'm a believer and follower of Jesus Christ who's recovering from.....

They ranged from co-dependency to fear to cocaine addiction to grief. Then everyone in the auditorium (roughly 200) would say "Hi....". It was great. So, in keeping with that theme:

Hi, my name is Jessica. I'm a believer and follower of Jesus Christ recovering from co-dependency, depression, alcohol and sex addiction as well as attempted suicide.

Real. Man I love real. Being real, seeing real...it's just good. Everyone took the mask off so we could see the rawness that was there. And ya know what...it was WAY more beautiful than the mask.

Then today...ah...today. My husband who can count on one hand the times he's been to church went to church with me!!!!!!! Hallelujah!!! I was so proud of him, and so humbled by the work God is doing in this formally very satan gripped home. It was defiantly strange going to church with someone who hasn't gone much. When the Lord's supper was passed around the poor fella didn't know what to do with it. When a couple went through the doors to be baptized he leaned over to me and whispered, "where are they going?" Sweet fella. Is it a coincidence he has just today started having Sunday's off even though the entire time we've been together he has NEVER had Sunday's off and now that's his permanent schedule? I think not. When we walked out he looked at me and said, "Ya know, the few times I have been to church, they always seem to have just what I needed to hear, something that pertains directly to me."...I just beamed and said, "They did!" God knew you were coming! Of course he blessed our sweet pastor with just the right words to say.

Oh how I do love to brag on my God. I did purchase the celebrate recovery Bible at conference yesterday and there are some powerful testimonies in it. So, I'm delegating Tuesdays on this blog as "Testimony Tuesday"...I pray you'll be encouraged. What is the Lord doing in your life right now? What prayer requests do you have? What is satan trying to steal away from you? Joy? Your spouse? Your child? Your willpower? I'm praying for you. You're NOT alone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Co-Dependent

I have to tell you some more truths. I am an EXTREMELY co-dependent person. I got pregnant when I was 19 and have been with some sort of man, boy, boy-man, man-child, (come on...aren't they really all one in the same?) since. When my second husband left me HIGH and DRY with two children (one a baby) I was immediately searching for the next one to at least help take care of me. Co-dependence. I found...well...several. None of them ever darkened my front door, but they were there to provide me with the things I felt I needed. Companionship (however brief), making me feel like I was important, (however even BRIEFER), and...well...money. Really the only thing I was seeking at the time. After all, my new little restaurant job wasn't paying the bills that were piling up on a single mom of two...who had an increasing alcohol and prescription pain pill addiction. Co-dependence. Numbness. Then I met my current husband. He was the best provider of it all. He was handsome and paid attention to me, he helped me with money and I didn't have to do anything weird or uncomfortable to obtain it. He had alcohol in abundance. He had drugs. SCORE! Then I lost my job....and moved in with him. Co-dependence. Fear. We had some great times, we had some horrible times. Times occasionally got out of hand and I would end up with large bruises and scars on my body. But he was "taking care of me". Co-dependence. A Prison. We made it through storm after storm after storm, and somewhere along the line things just clicked in his head. This isn't life. This isn't the life we agreed we wanted. We are never going to make it to our future if we stay on this rigid path. So he stopped the drugs. He stopped the drinking. Co
-dependence? I wasn't ready to stop, but now I was all alone doing it and that was no fun. We got married one gorgeous June afternoon, just us and the pastor in the middle of a park with a lovely gazebo behind us. Immediately after we said our I Do's and got back in the car...the sun disappeared and there was a downpour. Then as quickly as it began, the crying clouds dispersed and a rainbow emerged. It was like a metaphor for our entire relationship. And the floodgates behind my eyes erupted. It was still several months before I would feel the tug on my heart strings from my Father in heaven saying that's enough now, return to Me...I have much greater things in store. Co-Dependence. That's the kind I can live with. But now I am a married woman. With a husband...who though loves me dearly, and luckily struggles with the same things I do, he has never met my Maker. He asks questions about Him almost daily, (especially now that he sees his bride falling head over heels in love with her Savior). But that joy, that peace, that un-conditional love, it's an enigma to him. He's only known bad, rebellious, lost, Satan gripped Jessica. This reborn, shaken to the quick, cry at the drop of a hat, broken, humble, newly co-dependent on the King of all Kings Jessica is confusing and doesn't look quite right. I can't talk my husband into walking to the cross with me. But I can walk there, hold out my hand, and beckon him to come with me, beside me...so together we can rest awhile at HIS feet together. Fall in HIS arms...and as man and wife, experience that co-dependency that we were made to feel. Co-Dependent? Here's more information

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's Already Been Decided

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

God has already decided to make you more and more like Jesus!

Because He's committed to this process in your life, God uses every circumstance in your life to shape you to this end. Even when evil things come into your life from evil sources, God's able to take those experiences and use them to strengthen you, get your attention, and refocus your life on Him. Read that first sentence of today's  passage again. Lock it into your mind. When difficult times come, trust God.

As you read the whole passage it becomes clear that this work of God to make you like Jesus is a continuous process that starts when you're born again and continues until you're finally with God in heaven, "glorified."

God's reminding you (and me!) today that while He's constantly working through your circumstances, they'll only make you more like Christ if you respond to them with trust in God and a willingness to choose His way in your life.

Dig Deeper!