Healing Hurts :: OVEREATING

It’s true during this season of the year we attend holiday functions that encourage unhealthy eating habits. But this column is more about a deep seated problem of overeating, using food as a comfort to cope with loneliness or stress.

I love the photograph to the right. It tells such a story…

After a long day at work a young woman comes home to her lonely apartment. She changes immediately into her pajamas and curls up with her favorite television program. Soon the food commercials drive her to the kitchen. Instead of cooking a healthy dinner she ends up binging on junk food late into the night. With her body full of carbohydrates she passes out on the sofa waking to a sugar hangover not unlike that caused by alcohol.


What’s at the root of overeating?

Our drive to eat is a necessity for our survival, but we must have a healthy relationship with food so that it doesn’t take over our mind and eventually our life. Getting to the root of our actions requires locating our feelings at the time of acting out. We must ask ourselves:

What am I feeling when I want to eat? Am I lonely? Tired? Bored? Sad? Angry?
Can I redirect these feelings into a healthier activity?

This addiction is so closely related to my own struggle with sexual addiction that it’s hard to separate the two in my head. Like most addictions, I think overeating starts with a bad habit and continues out of shear boredom. If we can find our way to self-awareness, to enjoy the present moment without the need to anesthetizes ourselves in some way, maybe we are closer to a solution. 

As always if you struggle with this or any other issue discussed on my blog, please don’t stay in your pain alone. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, counselor or pastor. There are many great community resources available to help you. Also, don’t hesitate to email me: tamara@reachinghurtingwomen.com and I will do what I can to direct you to an answer.

Blessings… and Merry Christmas!

Virtues ~n~ Vices :: GENEROSITY


VIRTUE:  a valued principle of good moral behavior; a holy habit.

Generosity: a habit of giving without expecting anything in return.


VICE: a practice of wrong doing, corruption of virtue; an unholy habit.

Stingy: reluctant to give or spend.




During the Christmas season Generosity is the perfect Virtue to study. While most of us would consider ourselves generous people, I think this is an area that’s easy to get lazy in and not realize it. As always, we can point out our weaknesses better by looking at the opposing vices. Let’s consider a few more opposites of Generosity

  • miserly
  • gluttonous
  • covetous

What picture comes to mind when you read these words? I see Scrooge and The Grinch. No doubt two movies you’ve seen at some point this holiday season. But seriously, when we see these two awful characters, do we see any part of ourselves? 

To a cold and calculating person, being generous seems costly. To the generous, being stingy seems incomprehensible. It is greed that creates poverty not generosity. True generosity enriches us!

The true spirit of generosity comes in giving but not expecting anything in return. But more than that, we must give sacrificially. It isn’t generous to give something that’s old and worth discarding. We must give out of our abundance, something maybe that we want to keep. Certainly, when giving a financial gift it should be an amount that goes over and above what we might normally give.

With the Christmas season upon us, God’s generous gift of Jesus Christ is top of mind.  Because God made us in His image, His generous character is also built into our nature.  In practicing the Virtue of Generosity we come closest to resembling the creative God in whose image we have been made.

Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. ~ Luke 6:38 MSG

Let’s go forward, not just at Christmas, but in the year ahead,  let’s commit to be intentionally generous. If we actively look we will find many opportunities to give freely, fully and joyfully!  http://youtu.be/yhmmeFuzGRk

Working the Steps :: STEP 12

Step 12:
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted.
~ Isaiah 61:1

Step Twelve completes this part of our journey. Through this process we’ve been changed, we have experienced a spiritual awakening, our lives are now an expression of God’s will.  As we go about our daily life we look for ways to demonstrate this new confidence, showing our commitment to recovery and our growing awareness of God’s presence in our lives.

Sharing our life experiences is sometime difficult, we must be sensitive to whom we tell our story and how much we share. Not everyone is ready to hear our recovery story.  Practicing first with an accountability partner or sponsor is always good. The more we tell our story, the easier it gets. And with that ease, the emotional pain that we may carry today will be relieved.

Though much progress has been made we haven’t completed our journey to wholeness. That won’t happen in this world. But as we continue our growth we must daily be aware of the principles that will enhance our walk with God. Each of the Twelve Steps is a vital part of fulfilling God’s plan for our life. And as we experience daily challenges that try to pull us away from God, we must use the steps as tools for coping rather than falling back into old patterns.

Let’s quickly review each of the Twelve Steps:

  • Step One ~  Reminds us of our powerlessness.
  • Steps Two and Three ~  Show us our ongoing need for God’s help.
  • Steps Four through Nine ~ Guide us through self-examination and making amends. 
  • Steps Ten and Eleven ~ Help us avoid slips and keep us in touch with God.
  • Step Twelve ~  A milestone showing our commitment to God’s will for our recovery.

The most important part of Step 12 is the hope rooted here. By sharing our story we give others hope for freedom from addiction. It’s possible for life to be good again. As we prepare to tell our story, we shouldn’t compare ourselves with others. It’s not having some big dramatic story that give it value; it’s the end of the story that counts.

Post reminders around the house related to spiritual growth. In my role as a wife, mother, writer, minister and now grandmother, the tools of my work, whatever that work may be, play an important part in my spiritual growth. Here’s what’s on the reminder card I keep posted in the kitchen.  It’s adapted from St. Benedict’s Rule of Order.

“Each implement of your work is a sacred vessel on the altar of your transformation.”


Go forward now, intentionally pressing into each day, committed to give and do your best. Trusting God is by your side, changing you into the new creature He designed you to be.  Don’t not tell your story. There is someone who needs to hear it. Anyone can argue theology or doctrine. But who can argue with what God has done in your life? No one!

Once again… take a few minutes to enjoy our Twelve Step theme song for this year…
Step by Step by Bryan Duncan  http://youtu.be/l7BvJ0obHZk

Healing Hurts :: SEXUAL ADDICTION

The sex addiction discussion is a hot topic in the media with personal stories of Hollywood celebrities. But not everyone is convinced someone can really be addicted to sex. And if you are, what’s the big deal? 


You might be thinking… “It would be awesome to be married to a sex addict!”


Think again…



Growing up I had a front row seat in real world sex addiction training. My father was a high functioning alcoholic, which means he could stay sober during the day to manage his career but when off work he was usually drinking and chasing women. His addiction to pornography was no secret with a Playboy calendar hanging above the bathroom scales in our only bathroom.  His sexual exploits also had no boundaries. He brazenly sought out women in front of me; he carried on affairs with my co-workers and my college roommate with no shame. Tragically, I acted out all these behaviors and worse in my own sex addicted life.

When children grow up with addictions and become addicts themselves, they usually take the dysfunctions a step further.  I certainly took my addictions and perversions to more destructive levels than my father. With no regard for my family or friends, sadly I passed down the painful effects of sexual addiction to the next generation.

What is sex addiction? Sex Addiction is an unhealthy coping mechanism characterized by a set of escalating, compulsive behaviors which result repeatedly in negative consequences.   


What are the symptoms for sex addiction?

  1. A recurring pattern of sexual fantasies, urges and behaviors lasting six months or longer.
  2. A pattern of sexual activity in response to depression; repeatedly using sex to cope with stress.
  3. Inability to reduce or stop the sexual activities believed to be problematic.
  4. Evidence of “personal distress” caused by the behavior: interference with relationships or work.

How can I know if I’m a sex addict? While this online screening test is very comprehensive and helpful, I highly recommend you seek professional help. You cannot overcome this bondage on your own. Trust me. I tried!  Women’s Sexual Addiction Screening Test


I remember the day I realized I was a sex addict. I was so full of shame and guilt. I didn’t know how to face my family and friends. I didn’t know how I could ever turn back to God. How could He ever love me again after the horrible things I had done.

God loves us in spite of what we have done. Believe it or not, He was there when we did those terrible things. That’s a thought that I can’t stand to think. 

No matter what phase you’re in in the addictive cycle, whether you’re fantasizing about your next sexual encounter or suffering with guilt and shame after last acting out — help is available now!  Freedom from this desperate downward spiral is possible! 

Please don’t stay in your pain alone! Contact me by email. I can help you start the healing process.

Instead of dwelling on your guilt and shame, meditate on God’s love for you with this beautiful song by MercyMe http://youtu.be/74CNUExD4I8

Virtues ~n~ Vices :: MODESTY


VIRTUE: a valued principle of good moral behavior; a holy habit. 

Modesty: regard for decency of behavior, speech and dress.



 

VICE: a practice of wrong doing; the corruption of virtue; an unholy habit.

Exhibitionism: a compulsive desire to attract attention to oneself by exaggerated behavior; exposing oneself.

Growing up my father kept a Playboy calendar just above the scales in our only bathroom. So needless to say, modesty wasn’t taught to me as a child. Yet, when I became a teenager in the early 70’s and going bra-less was “cool” my father would berate me and say, “No daughter of mine is going to walk around like that!” Conflicting messages to be sure.

Admittedly, I lived most of my life as a sex addicted exhibitionist, reeling in prey for my sexual desires. Though in recovery eight years, modesty still remains my biggest challenge. No matter how well I’m doing with my own personal speech, behavior and dress, the enemy will sneak up when I least expect it and try to get my mind. Satan knows if he can plant an image in my mind, sexual fantasies are not far away. And if a fantasy takes root… acting out is sure to follow.

Modesty among Christian women is a real problem today! Even with strong boundaries on my media input at home, the enemy’s is still at work…  for my worst days are often at church. I stopped attending a local church because there was a woman greeter that regularly dressed like she was going clubbing: decked out with 6′ spiked platform shoes, a low cut clingy top and a tight short skirt. That’s not what we need to see coming into our house of worship!

When we fall in one Virtue… we fall in many. A lot of things in life cause chain reactions, the Virtues are no different. Here are a few Virtues I believe that affect our Modesty or are affected by our lack of Modesty

Chastity, Composure, Graciousness, Humility, Integrity, Meekness, Piety, and Purity.


Are you one of those women who doesn’t care how she dresses even at church? We must be mindful of our speech, behavior and dress. We never know who is watching and how it could be affecting them.

Let’s prayerfully rededicate our mind and heart to God with this Keith Green classic song:
Create in Me a Clean Heart   http://youtu.be/mD2PJ0xbAdY

Working the Steps :: STEP 11

We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~ Romans 8:26-27




By working the Twelve Step process we are gradually learning what we want to achieve. To protect what we have learned, we must continually seek God’s will for our lives. Through a regular practice of prayer and mediation the burden of our painful past is released in daily increments. 


Prayer and meditation are difficult for some. Whether we’ve experienced toxic faith in our family or religious circles or grown up unfamiliar with the practices, it’s good to begin with baby steps. Let’s start by breaking down Step 11 into three parts so that we can understand what’s required of us in this step.
  1. What is Prayer? Prayer is talking with God about what His will is for my life.
  2. What is Meditation? Quietly listening and focusing on the Power of God inside me.
  3. What is Conscious Contact? Making myself aware of God’s presence with me.
By declaring our spiritual poverty before God through listening prayer we invite His grace into our lives. Trust begins with a childlike attitude; we stop trying to figure things out and become receptive to God’s kingdom–His rulership and will. It is here when we are truly listening to God.

With a quieted mind and spirit the promised knowledge and power become available. As we stop giving directions and start listening for God’s will our relationship with Him grows deeper. We can then receive His wisdom, peace and love. The courage to carry out His will becomes stronger with each step we take.

Putting Step 11 into practice. First find a quiet, undisturbed place where you can have some prayerful meditation. Choose one of the suggested prayers below. Begin the meditation music video I have selected. Repeat your prayer slowly as you fall into your Heavenly Father’s arms. Soak up His presence and listen for His still soft voice. 

Prayers of Meditation
The Jesus Prayer: Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.
Words of Praise: Praise you, Lord Jesus.
Words of Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Meditation music video: http://youtu.be/tKCdk4vx-6o

After a relaxing time of prayer and meditation let’s celebrate progress with our 12 Step theme song: Step by Step by @Bryan_Duncan http://youtu.be/swNgb9ya6WM

The Invisible Woman


Do you feel like no one sees or hears you?  People seem to look right through you like you’re not even there?




I’m the invisible middle child born into a dysfunctional alcoholic home, with a handicapped brother four years older and a sister three years younger. Life was unpredictable between daddy’s drinking binges. So to stay out of trouble I usually played alone with my invisible friends: Seebie Crewble and Campbell Mingle.  Since I was invisible why not have invisible friends too.


Invisibility brought a drive to act out for attention. This was common for me as a child, as a teenager and even as mid-life adult. It’s easy to see how sex addiction played right into this…dressing provocatively, using shocking language, telling inappropriate stories. As my sexual addiction increased my behavior became more extreme and risky.

The desperate acts we stoop to for love and attention is scary. Over time there was no amount of human attention that could fill the empty whole in my heart. There wasn’t enough affection to keep me from feeling invisible. The spiral continued downward to near self-destruction.

We teach others how to treat us. Because of our lack of self-worth, fear of rejection or simply not wanting to deal with things, we purposely avoid sharing our feelings with others and we don’t stand up for ourselves. By doing that, we teach others that our feelings don’t matter, that we don’t matter. This in turn causes them to not see us other times when we really want to be noticed.

As wives and mothers we often feel invisible, lost in all our family doings and goings. We work hard to clean the house and cook a nice dinner hoping someone will notice how beautiful everything looks or how delicious the food tastes. Then resentment sets in and we begin to feel used and abused.

It all comes down to the heart. Where is my heart focused? If I’m loving and respecting myself like God tells me to, I will stand up for myself, push through the fear of rejection and share my feelings. If my heart motivation is right I will do all my tasks for Him, trusting He will reward me in good time. 

The most important One who sees me is God, I’m always visible to Him. It’s a constant challenge — to keep an audience of One.  After all, it is because of Him that I am alive and free today. I should do everything for His glory not my own. 


Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. ~ Colossians #:23-24 New Living Translation (NLT)


Do you feel invisible today?  Maybe you can relate to the woman in this excellent skit by Nicole Johnsonhttp://youtu.be/9YU0aNAHXP0

Photo Courtesy 123rf.com

Healing Hurts :: INFERIORITY COMPLEX

Are you always trying to measure up to others?

Growing up, and even as an adult, I was always comparing myself to others.  I don’t know about you, but I could never measure up. Clothes, hair, intelligence, abilities… it didn’t matter. I had myself under a microscope seeing every fault but never seeing the good. This kept me in a constant state of discouragement and feeling inferior to everyone.


When we grow up in an environment where individuality isn’t celebrated or encouraged, it’s very difficult to see ourselves as valuable. I don’t blame my parents, I know they did the best they could with what they had. Particularly because, they probably didn’t get the encouragement they needed as children either. 

I am so thankful today for the gift of God’s Word that speaks truth into my life. That is the only way I can keep my head on straight. To see myself, the good, bad and the ugly; knowing that makes me who I am. God knows my weaknesses and my strengths. And if I turn them all over to Him, He can use them to do something wonderful.

Be intentional. Be committed. To walk according to God’s Truth. Finding His promises and declaring them over our life each and every day will keep us in the right frame of mind, appreciating ourselves in the big scheme of God’s plan. Our standards can only be His standards for our life and for what He designed us to be and do. 

When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:12


Do you struggle with feelings of inferiority? How are you working through that?

It’s time for some great worship music to celebrate who we are! Turn up your speakers and get set free from inferiority with I Know Who I Am by Israel Houghton http://youtu.be/y3UOCVkYWIY

Virtues ~n~ Vices :: DETERMINATION


VIRTUE: a valued principle of good moral behavior; a holy habit.

determination : a firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.



VICE: a practice of wrong doing, corruption of virtue; an unholy habit.

procrastination : the act or habit of procrastinating, putting off or delaying.

Starting in 2006, my husband’s new business consulting company took us on a cross country adventure. From the Gulf Coast to the Pacific and back again, we moved eight times in four years. In 2009, after growing many other people’s businesses, Bill decided to start his own. So thankfully, in 2010 God brought us back to Texas!

As you can imagine, starting a new business is quite painful. It requires a commitment to long hours, courage to do the seemingly impossible and dedication to the long-term goal; all which my precious husband has. I, on the other hand, have the simple job of supporting him… simple but not always easy. 

This calendar year has been one of the toughest for me for various reason. I’ve struggled with courage, patience, hope and faith… all the required ingredients for Determination.
I like how we discussed the Virtue of Determination in my church class last year. Specifically because Determination didn’t stand alone but was taught along with Diligence and Perseverance. What I found most interesting was how they were linked together. But first let’s look at their working definitions:

DETERMINATION is looking at insurmountable obstacles as opportunities to cry out for God’s supernatural intervention. It requires patience, hope, discernment, courage and faith while remaining committed over a long period of time.

DILIGENCE accepts each task as a special assignment from the Lord and uses all energies to do it quickly and skillfully. Diligence is duty bound. It requires deep faith during trials, courage against despair, patience in strife and mirth to stay balanced.

PERSEVERANCE is the steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose. It says, “Yes” to a vital cause, refusing to take no for an answer. It may fall down but always gets back up. 


Like I said before, what I found most interesting was how these three virtues are linked together, how they blend and build each other up…


DETERMINATION is the cognitive decision to tackle an obstacle

DILIGENCE is the action walking out that decision. 

PERSEVERANCE is the energy that drives the action.

                                   …All three critical ingredients to successfully completing a goal.


Certainly the last three and a half years starting our business has been a daily exercise in Determination. However for me personally, the last calendar year has been one of the most difficult. It hasn’t been so much about faith in God to provide, because He has come through in the most incredible ways time and again, meeting all our needs. 

Rather, my challenges have been with living out what I know God has called me to do in ministry to reach hurting women with the freedom I have found in Jesus Christ. 

When I get discouraged because I can’t see a clear plan for what I’m supposed to do, I have to be determined to press through procrastination and answer the call. But that determination must be driven and energized by perseverance so I will diligently study each week and continue to write for my blog while I wait to see God’s greater purpose.

So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised. ~ Hebrews 10:35-36


How do you struggle with determination? What keeps you moving to your goal?

Let’s be determined together and Press On  http://youtu.be/_Bg2cJ5bw2k


Resources:

Christian Virtue by Patty Woodmansee

BOOK REVIEW: Relentless ~ The Power You Need to Never Give Up by John Bevere



RELENTLESS:

The Power You Need To Never Give Up

by @JohnBevere


WaterBrook Press December 2011

237 pp

In Relentless John Bevere challenges us take our faith to another level. Many Christians aren’t walking in the Power available to them through the life-changing Grace of God through Jesus Christ. Why? Because they are unaware.

My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9 TEV

“If you look up this verse in a red-letter edition of the Bible, where all words spoken by Jesus are in read and all others are in black, you’ll see that the words above are not black. They’re red. So although these words are reported by the apostle Paul, they are not his words–they are straight from the Lord Himself. God defines His grace as his empowerment. Yet according to a survey, only 2 percent of U.S. Christians know and understand this.” ~John Bevere

This was eye opening for me! How can so many Christians be unaware of the authority and power they have in Christ. Through personal stories and Scripture John dissects the true grace of God and shows us how it can bring us the power we desperately need to live in our world today.

Relentless by John Bevere is a must read for serious believers. It’s an easy, enjoyable read that delivers on content while supplying the tools we need to reach our goal.

“God doesn’t author hardship but uses it to strengthen us for greater conquests. He never leads us into a storm that He doesn’t give us the power to overcome.” ~ John Bevere, Relentless