Embrace Yourself

As women, we often compare ourselves to other women; either to those we know or women in the media. For me this resulted in a love – hate relationship with the mirror that began at a very early age.

Growing up I was very much a tom-boy. When I was 8, my brother, Wayne, who had cerebral palsy, died of pneumonia at age 12. I thought if I was more like a boy, I could soothe my father’s heartache by taking Wayne’s place. Maybe then Daddy wouldn’t drink so much and be mad all the time.

To further complicate things, a Playboy calendar hung in our family bathroom. So for 18 years I stood on the bathroom scales comparing myself to the ‘Bunny of the Month.”  I was trying to be my daddy’s boy, but because I was a girl, I felt expected to grow up and become a magazine centerfold. That’s what daddy likes, isn’t it?

To get the love I so desperately needed and wasn’t getting from my father, I began acting out sexually with boys on the playground early in elementary. At the same time, I was sexually aroused by the calendar photos and began masturbating regularly. I was deeply conflicted and unknowingly stayed that way until I was almost 50 years old.

Don’t discount the power of pornography. The Playboy images forever changed me. In fact, I still remember many of the women, even details about the pictures. Because of this, unwanted same sex attraction has been an on going struggle for me in my 6 years of sexual sobriety. 

It sounds silly, but I’m writing this blog after deciding to grow my hair out.

Those who know me, know my hair has been extremely short most of my life. In recent days, I’ve realized that as long as my hair remains ultra short, I continue to have butch tendencies that lead to wrong thoughts, which if continue unchecked, could develop into unhealthy and unwanted behavior.

Perhaps if I grow my hair out it will help me truly embrace my femininity… then the mirror can finally become my friend.

Who Do You Think You Are?


As recovering addicts we sometimes experience slips, maybe even a full relapse, falling back into our addiction. When we do, it’s easy to justify our behavior by thinking or saying, “That’s just who I am.”  
If that’s who we think we are – that’s who we will continue to be. 
We must take a hard stand, placing strong boundaries on our thoughts and the words that come out of our own mouth.
By taking a proactive approach we not only protect ourselves, but we take charge of our potential destiny.
Our thoughts and words can curse us.

Take a moment today… examine your thoughts.  
Are they thoughts that will eventually lead to your destruction?
Delete the old words from your memory by speaking new words over yourself.


Write down the negative thought. Then turn it into a positive thought and write it down.
Post it where you can see it on a regular basis and speak this over your life. 

 

It’s critical that we know who we are in God’s eyes. 
Dig into God’s Word and see who He says you are!

 

Then use the words of your mouth, with God’s help, to create a healthy life today and for the future!  
I will think only on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy! (Philippians 4:8-9)

Walking Crutch Free

As humans, most of us depend on different things to make it through the day…

We depend on caffeine to give us energy because we stayed up watching TV and eating late night snacks instead of getting our required sleep. We find ourselves stressed out because we’re not eating right, not getting enough sleep and drinking too much caffeine.

We may be going through family circumstances that are less than pleasant. To help us cope, we numb our feelings to slide through it easily. Television, itself, numbs us so we don’t have to deal with our real world. But many depend on other substances to make it through tough life situations… smoking, drinking or drugging to calm nerves in times of stress.

Even if we can recognize them, we’re unable to stand in our own feelings without crumbling. Our emotions are crippled, usually due to some kind of trauma. 
Like someone with a broken leg, we depend on ‘crutches’ to walk through life when we should be trusting God to carry us.

As a recovering addict, I understand this all too well. Honestly, I still struggle. There are days I find myself picking up an old crutch. When I do, I have to stop and recognize it for what it is, immediately repent and ask for God’s forgiveness. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with watching television or even having a glass of wine for that matter. But when we are using these things instead of allowing God to help us, it becomes a problem that will stunt our spiritual growth and maybe even our physical health. 

Are you walking with crutches today? 

Ask God to reveal things that are out of balance. He will honor your request and give you the needed strength to change. 

Let God Carry You…

God is my strength and power, He makes my way perfect. ~ 2 Samuel 22:33

Book Review: Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller

Searching For God Knows What
by Donald Miller
Thomas Nelson Publishers 2004/2010
$14.99
249pp

True to form, Donald Miller, in his unmistakable story-telling style, tackles important subjects like faith and theology. Seriously, yet humorously, shedding light on them so that you will never read the Bible the same way again.

As the title suggests, this is a personal journey of faith. Faith renounced then found; but not just found, rediscovered with a clearer understanding of God’s Word and what it means for mankind.

Having read only two of his books, I am a huge fan of Donald Miller’s writing. I especially like the way he includes the reader in his personal struggles with life, God and faith.

I highly recommend this book. It’s an easy, entertaining read, but at the same time will make you think long and hard about what you really believe about God and Scripture.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their www.BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Where Have You Come From?

While reading a devotional recently God reminded me not to forget where I’ve come from; to remember all He has graciously brought me through.
I’m not talking about the horrible life of sin and self-destruction from years past, although that’s definitely something I never want to forget. I’m talking about the fresh, even seemingly small victories.   
I believe it’s critical not only to our future successes, but the successes we are currently walking in, that we remember what God brought us out of and remain grateful at all times.
Today I’m struggling with, what may seem like a silly problem, but I’m grateful even for the struggle because it is visible evidence of God’s blessing on our lives…
After living in a hotel room for the last year and a half with basically nothing to maintain, I’m having trouble transitioning back to the real world and the daily routines of running a home. Our new house is easily 10 times bigger than our little hotel room, and honestly a bit overwhelming.
I pushed through October’s move in, buried with boxes to unpack. Then came the holiday hustle… shopping, decorating, entertaining and house guests. I was running a marathon and literally lost 15 lbs!
Now that all the celebrating is over and the new year brings normality of life, I find myself hibernating in my bedroom, not living in this beautiful house God has given us.
In fact, when my best girlfriend from New Orleans was visiting in December, I told her I wanted to decorate our master bedroom like a hotel suite; with a beautiful TV console/dresser, a love seat sofa and a small table with chairs next to the fireplace. Laughingly, Whitney said, You can take the girl out of the hotel but you can’t take the hotel out of the girl. So true.
Some friends in one of my small groups prayed for me last week, so today I am doing better. 
I’m determined:
When I start to feel like everything is too much to handle…
I will stop and praise God for all He has done for me and my family.
When I beat myself up for not having the projects planned 2 years ago completed right away…
I will thank God for the resources to do them and trust His perfect timing for each project.
When overwhelmed with organizing drawers and cabinets…
I will thank God for the opportunity to give items away that can be a blessing to others.
I will take everything one day at a time.
He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for all his wonderful deeds to them. -Psalm 107:7-8

Life Without Parole!

This last Sunday morning, Bill and I were privileged to worship with some dear friends at Christ Church in Plano, TX; an Anglican church, it was a sweet reminder of my childhood, growing up in the Episcopal Church.

Worship was beautiful with the huge pipe organ and the choir’s soprano voices resounding through the sunlit sanctuary. Because this week is the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing, I wept through most of the service missing my momma and daddy.

Father David Roseberry’s sermon titled, Living Without Parole struck a deep cord with me. Having spent some time in jail; more importantly having lived a great portion of my life imprisoned by addictions, this message was very close to my heart.

The Scripture text Fr. David chose was:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

Stating that this verse is the backbone of the entire Bible, the purpose of all Scripture and the reason God came to earth as Christ, Fr. David asks… 

Do you have a now moment in your life?

A moment when your past is put behind you? 

A time when your BC (Before Christ) became AD (Anno Domini- The Year of The Lord)? 

I quickly jotted in my notes: Yes! December 26, 2004!

Father David went on to remind us that after we’ve had that now moment, God isn’t watching and waiting like a parole officer for us to make a mistake so He can punish us or lock us up for good.

Because He loved us so much God Himself allowed Christ, the Father’s only son, to die, to pay our debt, to take all our punishment; so that we can live our life without having to be on parole.

We haven’t been released based on a condition of our own behavior or merit. There’s no fear of being returned to our prisons, whatever they may be.

Praise God! We’ve been set free!

But are we walking in the full freedom that has been given to us?

The most important statement I heard in Sunday’s message: To the extent that you continue to carry burdens from your past, it is to that same extent that you are not free in Christ.

Take another look at the photo I chose for today’s column.
What do you see? 
Is the woman behind the prison bars or in front of them?

Do you know there are people behind bars who are more free than some of us who are allowed to walk on the street today? 

Where are you standing? 

Did you put yourself back in the prison God has set you free from?

Are you looking at the outside world through prison bars you’ve created for yourself?

Do you, like me, tend to pick up an old set of baggage and start dragging it along with you?

Let’s give up our burdens.

Let’s walk together in the freedom Christ has provided for us!

So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free. -John 8:36 AMP

What Are You Creating With Your Words?

Considering all the problems in the world today it’s easy to get caught in a negative attitude with a complaining mouth.

One thing God continues to show me over and over again…

WE have the power to create reality with the words that come out of our mouths!

Back in 2004 when I was bound by my addictions; my husband, for my own safety, put strict limitations on my access to money, car, cell phone, etc…

I thought he was trying to control me and continually said, “I’m being treated like a prisoner.”

It wasn’t long until I actually was a prisoner in the County Jail.

My words had become my reality.

Proverbs 18:21 says: 

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

If we insist on allowing negative words to flow out of our mouths, we will continue to have negative consequences.

God has given us dominion over the earth and with that our words have the power to create or destroy our lives. 

Rather than swim around in our emotions, dwelling only on what we feel and see around us; we can choose instead to see with our eyes of faith and use faith-filled words to create the life we know God wants us to have.

As long as we continue to speak what we see; we will continue to see those things.

What do you see today?

What do you want to see tomorrow?

Make a decision to speak what you see with your eyes of faith and watch it come to pass!


Who’s Protecting You?

In response to last week’s question:  
What hurt would you like to see discussed?

My longtime friend and school mate, Ren, suggested: 
“What about relapse? It’s going around.”

Before getting Ren’s suggestion, I had already been led to write about the recovery principle ~Self-Protection.  I was excited to get her suggestion because Relapse and Self-Protection go hand in hand… If we aren’t protecting our self, we will definitely be on the road to a quick relapse!

Long gone are the days when people had the same physician for their entire life. Someone you could trust, who knew your history, had a personal relationship with you and your family, who actually watched out for your health concerns. Gone are the days when we felt safe in our community and country. When we could trust our neighbors; leaving our homes and cars unlocked. 
The principles of Self-Protection can be applied across the board to all areas of our life:
  • Physical-nutrition & exercise
  • Relationships-marriage, friends & family
  • Lifestyle-work & recreation

Today if we are to be protected, we pretty much have to do it our self. We must read and research to be aware of potential risks and know what boundaries to put in place for our own protection.

For myself, as a recovering sex addict, it has been critical for the last 5 years to have clearly defined boundaries on the influences in my life: TV, Internet, music, movies, magazines, friends, environment, etc…

With my new health concerns, Insulin Resistance; I must be just as diligent with boundaries to avoid possible temptations.

Let’s look at some specific guidelines that can help us stay protected:

  1. Be Steadfast in Convictions: Know and understand why.
  2. Seek Good Counsel: Bible, minister, counselor, doctor.
  3. Share with a Friend: Get accountability partner.
  4. Create New Habits: Remove old patterns.
  5. Do The Next Right Thing: Be wise; stay on track.
  6. Stay Rested: Be good to your body.

There’s a familiar recovery acronym: H.A.L.T. that reminds us times of temptation come when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. I’ve taken the liberty to build on this and add a spiritual aspect to further our protection.

H. A. L. T. E. D. 
When:
Hungry — physical desires of any kind take over. 
Angry — annoyed with life’s frustrations 
Lonely — lonesome and fearful 
Tired — troubled and depressed 
I will:  
Exercise — calming prayer. 
Do — good and expect a reward.

In order to become everything God has created us to be; we must have a deep resolve. We must look for God’s escape out of each temptation and run for it. We serve a faithful God who is always beside us, working for our good and leading us in paths of victory and strength.

We can overcome any obstacle, any challenge, any temptation in Jesus’ name!

If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall… remember the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. 
                               ~1 Corinthians 10:12-13 New Living Translation

What Designer Label Are You Wearing?

Growing up in a lower-middle class family, with one income didn’t provide for many luxuries. We rarely ate at restaurants. We’d buy the Colonel’s chicken but mother would cook everything else. We vacationed in a tent or camper; never staying in motels. And when it came time to purchase groceries my mother was never taken in by brand names. My sister or I would ask for a brand name cereal, shampoo that we’d seen on a television commercial; but mother would buy the ‘store’ brand and say, “It all comes out of the same barrel.”
In the 70’s there were a few designer brands here and there, not like now! It seems in today’s culture women and men are all about the designer labels… 
Burberry, Gucci, Armani, Calvin Klein, Versace, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Chanel… ad infinitum… 
There’s designer everything from shoes, purses, clothes, watches, cars, dishes, food, furniture, even dogs.
A person can go designer crazy!
 
According to Wikipedia the term designer label refers to clothing and other personal accessory items sold under an often prestigious marque which is commonly named after a designer. The term is most often only applied to luxury items. While members of the upper-middle class, or the mass affluent, are perhaps the most commonly targeted customers of these designer labels, some marquees—such as Cartier—tend to a wealthier customer base.
The world may be all about designer labels but what about the label we’re wearing on our life?
The Apostle Paul in the third chapter of Colossians writes:
So, if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides.
That means killing off everything connected with the way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing what ever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy.

That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God.
Your done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.

And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. – The Message Bible

What designer label are you wearing today? A worldly label or The Master Creator’s label?

The best news of all: God’s designer label isn’t targeted to any one class of people.

God is a respecter of all persons.

If you haven’t yet, take this opportunity to try His brand…You won’t be sorry!

PRAYER:
Lord, help me to live the resurrection life with Christ. Help me to take off the old fashions and put on the new wardrobe you have for me. Help me to walk in Your love today.

Battling Resistance!

 

Spiritually and/or naturally – life is a battle. We are waging war constantly.
We all battle Resistance in some form; whether we’re starting a new company, trying to salvage our marriage, leading a project, writing a blog or just trying to clean the house.
Resistance, like a faithful friend but more of an enemy, will be there trying to keep us from doing what we need, want or are called to do.
I’m reading what’s quickly becoming a new favorite book; one I believe will be a most useful tool for many years to come:
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.
This book is written to help writers/artists overcome their creative blocks. But it’s really more than that. I see it as a tool to help anyone who’s trying to accomplish anything worthwhile.

 “Do we have to stare death in the face to make us stand up and confront Resistance? Does Resistance have to cripple and disfigure our lives before we wake up to its existence? How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip, and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to? Resistance defeats us. If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, and infotainment businesses, not to mention pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff.
“Look in your own heart… a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.” – Steven Pressfield

What is Resistance?  
According to Mr. Pressfield here are some of the characteristics of Resistance: 
  • It’s the enemy within.
  • Tells us anything to keep us from our work.
  • Never sleeps.
  • Plays for keeps.
  • Most powerful at the finish line.
  • Self-Medication.
    “…any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity… any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower… will elicit Resistance.” – Steven Pressfield
    To counter act Resistance, Mr. Pressfield says the writer / artist must be a professional: show up every day no matter what, be committed for the long haul, master the craft or technique, accept pay for the labor, realize the stakes are high and real, not over identify with the job, keep a sense of humor, and receive praise or blame due.
    Personally, I find the above lists easy to relate, to not just as a writer dealing with procrastination when my computer is staring me in the face each day; but in every area of my life…
    Exercise
    Eating properly
    Going to bed on time
     Drinking 80oz of water every day!
    Simply, fighting all temptations big or small…
    I will take on Resistance and his seedy little game.
    Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you. Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will! Then you will receive all that He has promised. –Hebrews 10:35-36

    I’m determined, with God’s help, to be a professional at life…
    • To show up every day no matter what.
    • To be committed for the long haul.
    • To realize the stakes are high and real.
    • To keep a sense of humor.
    • To receive praise or blame due.
    • To keep God’s Word close to my heart and mind.
    • To fight the good fight of faith!

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. –Hebrews 12:1

    QUESTION: Where do you feel the most resistance in your life?