A Hard Reboot

Has Your Life Been Restarted Without Your Permission?

 

After children misbehave, have been too self-dependent or possibly rebellious, parents will sometimes give children a time out to their room, restrict them from activities or friends. They’re given time to evaluate their behavior and hopefully reset their attitudes.

There are times when our computers freeze up for various reasons. Maybe the memory is low or too many programs are running at the same time. The computer won’t respond to any keystrokes or instructions from the user.  Whatever the case, in these times the only way to get our computer back in working order is to perform a hard reboot.  A hard reboot is done manually by pressing the power button until it shuts down the computer and then pressing the power button again to restart the computer. A second hard reboot method is done by completely unplugging the computer from its power source then replugging it into the electricity and pressing the power button to restart the computer.

In much the same way, God may perform a hard reboot on our lives when we have, as my daddy would say, “gotten too big for our britches.”  We may be edging God out by allowing our ego to run the show. We’ve become self-dependent thinking we know the best way to run our lives. Whatever the reason, God knows exactly how to reboot our lives in a way that will humble us and get us set straight back on His path.

Is life challenging for you today? Do you feel like you’re in God’s timeout? Take a few minutes to watch/listen to this incredible song sung by Jenn Johnson. It’s given me much hope in the last week. I pray it brings peace and hope to you as well.

Image Credit: 72soul / 123RF Stock Photo

Befriend Your Empty Spaces

Fueling Life on God's Grace

We all have empty spaces in our lives. Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time for a life companion or maybe you’ve removed a bad behavior and are now left with a nagging empty spot with cravings to boot. Whatever your empty space looks like chances are you have more than one to deal with.

My personal empty space is connected to many things that have been removed from my life in the last year… Job loss has forced a move to another city to live with a family member while we get back on our feet… loss of home, car, finances; possessions; freedoms and privacy; our only grand children have moved to eastern Europe; my two elderly dogs went to heaven; health challenges that require a new very restricted food plan; not to mention trying to stay sober while living in a home that isn’t. Lots of empty spaces that could be filled with complaining, anger, resentment, and depression.

Last Fall I read Addiction and Grace: Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addiction by Gerald G. May. This book has been a life changer for me. Since reading it I haven’t looked at God’s grace in the same way. My favorite quote comes from the last paragraph:

The specific struggles we undergo with our addictions are reflections of a blessed pain. To be deprived of a simple object of attachment is to taste the deep, holy deprivation of our souls. To struggle to transcend any idol is to touch the sacred hunger God has given us.

May tells us to make friends with the empty space and its pain, because that pain is God’s grace reaching out to us. You may have heard that empty space called a God-shaped vacuum a term coined many years ago by Blaise Pascal. We’re always trying to fill that empty space with anything BUT God!

With our EGO in charge we’re always Edging God Out fueling life with temporary worldly fixes. A food diet run on the empty calories of foods that either are sugar or turn to sugar, won’t lead to a healthy body. In the same way, trying to fuel our spiritual life on the empty things of this world will lead to an unsatisfied spirit that longs for more.

All through Scripture we ‘re taught to empty ourselves of worldly desires and fill that empty space with God. When St. Paul was given his “thorn-in-the-flesh” he asked God three times to remove it. God’s reply was, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Whether our empty space is from putting down an addiction/behavior or because something/someone was removed from our life involuntarily, we are still dealing with an empty space. God’s grace gives us the power to endure, to press through, to be obedient, to lean on Him when we have the cravings or the loneliness hits.

Why not allow God’s grace to fill that empty space? Life will be much better when we do.

“My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Image credit 123RFPhoto

Faith Full

Staying Committed In Trying Times

 

My favorite season of the year has arrived and I’m finally ready to write again.

It’s been several months since I posted a column. Our challenges haven’t changed, the transition hasn’t been resolved and life hasn’t gotten any easier. I just finally found my determination to stay committed to my ministry purpose even in the midst of the challenges. My faith has been on a roller coaster ride but I’m thankful to say, my heart is full of hope again.

The last 17 months of sobriety have been very hard. As a result, I needed to take a break from writing because I didn’t have anything to draw from, nothing to share. I needed to re-fuel my spirit.

I’m working a part-time job now. I’m back in my Bible daily and have established a good routine. So it’s my hope to get my blogging and podcasting back up more regularly.

For those of you who are recovering addicts, you can relate to the sobriety challenges that come with job loss, a long distance move to live in someone else’s home that doesn’t practice faith or sobriety. It hasn’t been easy and honestly I haven’t kept the best attitude. But I’m doing better and feel strong enough to start writing again.

I so appreciate your patience as I birth this women’s ministry platform. By God’s grace, our life will be back on track in the not too distant future and I can really get things going. Until next time…

May the Grace and Peace of Christ be yours…

Tamara

Image Credit 

Processing Life 

Hi friends, 

My silence and inability to podcast or post blogs these last several weeks has been unavoidable. I apologize. 

My husband and I are yet again in another work/life transition. It’s my hope and prayer that we will get settled into our new life quickly so I can get back on my writing schedule. I appreciate all your prayers and patience as I continue to try to grow this budding ministry. 

Blessings Tamara

Living Life Lessons

ETERNAL GLORY


IN THE LIVING LIFE LESSONS COLUMN EACH MONTH I’M SHARING VARIOUS LESSONS GOD HAS TAUGHT ME. This story tells how i learned that god uses all my life experience for my good and for the good of others…

 

 

It was late in March 2006 — Houston, Texas. I had been in addiction recovery a little over a year and was soaking up God’s Word every chance I could. I listened to Joyce Meyer daily and had recently purchased an Amplified Bible to read along with her lessons.


On this particular day, I needed to take my mother, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, for a routine doctor appointment to update her prescriptions. 

I remember momma sitting on the exam table with her feet swinging, waiting for the doctor like a little kid. The diseases had her in a child like state, this was no longer my mother but a young girl in an old woman’s body. 

The elderly doctor made his way into the exam room. Having performed a brief examination of momma, he began making notes in her file. 
During these early recovery days I never left home without a Bible. So while I was waiting with mother, I opened up my new Amplified Bible to 2 Corinthians chapter 4. I was so taken by these verses, which I had never read before, that I had to read them aloud to momma. The doctor also paused and listened intently. 

(Please read the verses below aloud, slowly before you proceed.)

For all [these] things are [taking place] for your sake, so that the more grace (divine favor and spiritual blessing) extends to more and more people and multiplies through the many, the more thanksgiving may increase [and redound] to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.

For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!],

Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (Amplified Bible)

Now think about where I was…

I had just come through what was probably the most difficult time of my life. I was in the early stages of recovery from multiple addictions, my family was scattered and dismembered, I had recently experienced jail time, and was pressing desperately into God for healing. You can read my life story here.  

Here with me this day were two elderly people, my mother and the doctor, who, no doubt, had each been through various turmoils in their long lives. 

After I finished reading the verses aloud, both momma and the doctor smiled and chuckled with a sense of satisfaction. It was a moment I will never forget.

This section of Scripture quickly became my Life Verse. Time and again I have drawn on it for strength. I am there yet again. God is taking me to a deeper level of holiness, but not without pain. Struggling through new areas of sobriety, He is peeling off more layers of the flesh that must be removed so I can live unencumbered by worldly desires and bondages. 

Paul’s words give me hope that these momentary trials are fleeting in the big scheme of eternity. If I will keep my eyes focused where they should be…

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (NIV) 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:: What are your momentary troubles today?

 
If you can’t see a screen below CLICK HERE for a beautiful Hillsong worship video.


Photo credit: gatordawg / 123RF Stock Photo

07.17.13

The 12 Steps of Humility :: LISTEN MORE THAN TALK

IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

 

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St. Benedict 
 

THE NINTH STEP OF HUMILITY: A monk restrains [her] speech, not speaking until an answer is required.

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. ~ Proverbs 10-19 (MSG)

 






In a culture big on watching most of us don’t really know how to listen. Do you find yourself listening to friends or loved ones with virtually no eye contact or verbal responses while surfing email or social media on your smartphone? 

Turn listening into a living response rather than a cerebral activity. That means we may have to listen when we don’t want to. If we pick and choose we may miss an important message God is trying to bring us. Besides that, it all comes back to honoring Christ in the other. It’s basic Golden Rule behavior really.

To listen closely, with every fibre of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking.*


Benedictine spirituality calls us to listen to four things:

  • The Gospels.
  • The Rule.
  • Each other.
  • Life around us.


We won’t hear God through any of these unless we stop talking, typing or texting!

If we want to grow in grace, we must learn to talk less and listen more.** 

 
RESOURCES:
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister
A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
Saint Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry

Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm**

Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal*
 

Image credit: tuk69tuk / 123RF Stock Photo

09.03.14

Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred (Simon and Schuster)

Although I am still reading it, I wanted to share this wonder-filled book by Mark Nepo. With life affirming stories and lovely poems, Mark encourages us as we travel our human journey to not loose touch with the most sacred things in life. Beautifully suited for individual meditations or small group study. I highly recommend Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred by Mark Nepo!

 

RHW Podcast Episode 19

Relational Practices of Contemplative Spirituality

Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode 19 of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I will be your host. Today we are talking about: The Relational Practices of Contemplative Spirituality: Connecting to God by Being Present with Others.

The Christian church body as a whole depends on relationships to maintain and grow in a healthy way. We lift each other up in times of worship and prayer, and learn together in times of study. But often we go about these activities almost on autopilot, so to speak.

What we are learning about in Contemplative spiritual practices is to be intentional about putting God at the center, before, and during our particular activities.

The Contemplative Relational Practices:

  • Worship
  • Holy Communion
  • Visiting sick or elderly
  • Volunteering
  • Listening

My work schedule right now doesn’t allow room for visitation or volunteering. So my favorite Contemplative Relational practices are worship and Holy Communion.

During Holy Communion, in the Catholic and Anglican traditions, the congregation comes to the front of the church and either stands or kneels around the altar as the priests or deacons distribute the Sacraments of the Lord’s Supper.

I love watching the procession of people coming forward and kneeling before the Lord’s table, gathering as a family to be nourished spiritually. It is such a sweet, reverential time of worship.

The subtitle today: Connecting with God by Being Present with Others is important to emphasize here. And the key word is Present. Again, our main focus in contemplative spirituality is keeping God at the center of our practices or activities. So when we are in community with the Body of Christ, fellowshipping with other believers, we honor Christ in them by being present to them while in their presence.

I encourage you the next time you engage in any of the Contemplative Relational practices: Holy Communion; Worship; Visitation; Volunteering; or simply Listening, make a special point to be more present to the Christ in others who are in your presence.

Thanks so much for joining me today on the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. I hope you have enjoyed our brief discussion of the Relational Practices of Contemplative Spirituality: Connecting to God by Being Present with Others. Please take a few minutes and check out the other columns and resources at ReachingHurtingWomen.com. I look forward to hearing from you. You can leave comments or questions below the show notes. Until next time may the grace and peace of God be yours.

Consequences

Counting the cost of pleasures.

 

Death’s station is at the entrance of pleasure. ~ The Rule of Benedict

It may sound radical to say that pleasures lead to death. But think about it. What are your favorite guilty pleasures? Food? Sex? Alcohol? Sleeping? Shopping?

Is it possible, that if you continued in your pleasurable habit unrestrained, that a death could be a result? Remember, the death we are talking about here isn’t always a physical death. But it could be.

In the quote above, Saint Benedict reminds us that all pleasure has consequences. Some are emotional, some are physical, some are spiritual and most are a combination of all three. We would do well to look ahead and consider the potential consequences of this particular pleasure we are about to indulge ourselves in. Sin is fun for a season but when the season ends there will be a bill to pay. What will you be paying with? Health problems, high debt, relationship issues… Is the cost worth it?

There is a way that appears to be right,
    but in the end it leads to death. ~ Proverbs 14:12

 

Image credit: dizanna / 123RF Stock Photo

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive is one of the best contemporary, non religious books I’ve read in years! There is a wealth of health-full, life-full information here. I listened to the audio version on Audible.com which was read by Agape Stassinopoulos, Arianna’s sister. It was beautifully written, produced, and narrated. I highly recommend Thrive by Arianna Huffington!