Working the Steps: Step 6

Having been out of town the better part of the month, I’m late posting June’s 12 Step work. Better late than never 😉 Blessings…

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Getting ready for God to remove character defects in itself is a process. Some character defects are like old friends, comfortable and available.

We can’t even get ready with out God’s help!

In Steps One and Two we realized our powerlessness and found God’s Power to be greater than ours. Step Three we turned our life and our will over to God. Steps Four and Five we admitted hard truths to God, to ourselves and to another person.

Now in Step 6 we wait for God to do some internal work on our hearts. It’s not an action step on our part, but rather preparation that will enable us to become ready to release our character faults when the time comes in Step 7.

This is not quick work. Most of our character defects have been deeply ingrained in us since childhood. These patterns of behavior were often used as coping mechanisms in a traumatic environment. It will take time and practice to switch from our comfortable character defect to trusting God and allowing Him to be completely in control.

We must see our faults not as comfortable friends but harmful behaviors that have begun to control our lives. Once we know the truth about our faults and what must be removed; we can overcome our fears and with God’s help, gather our self in readiness to go forward in recovery.

Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.~ James 4:10

Reflections

The Blue Ridge Mountains

Two weeks ago, my husband, Bill and I set off on a road trip from Dallas to North Carolina for the Exodus Freedom Conference. It wasn’t an official vacation, though we stopped for some interesting tours along the way…

Our first stop was Memphis, TN. I’ve never been an Elvis fan, which my husband says I shouldn’t admit in public, but after taking the tour of Graceland, I now see why so many people love him. It was totally a time warp experience, with the home still decorated the way it was when Elvis lived there and the audio guide providing real life sounds from the glory days.  

We left reflecting on a life that once rejoiced in God but sadly got lost in the fame and glamor of celebrity. 

On to Tennessee where we stopped for dinner at Loretta Lynn‘s Kitchen. We were too late for the tour but were able to drive around her sprawling dude ranch and plantation home in Hurricane Mills. Most amazing was the wonderful vacation getaway she and her family have created on their property for her fans; with museums, shopping, camping, horseback riding, rafting and more.
 
We left reflecting on family togetherness and enjoying the simple things in life.

Our trip destination was the Ridgecrest Conference Center nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Established over 100 years ago on 1,300 acres, its rustic charm offers excellent accommodations and activities for all ages. During our stay the camp was bustling with several events: a teen youth camp; marriage and family retreats and our Exodus Freedom Conference.  

We left reflecting on the heritage of an organization providing a spiritual retreat where people can come enjoy the mountains –  and listen to God.

The Exodus Freedom Conference was excellent! The morning and evening general sessions brought amazing worship followed by touching testimonies and incredible main speakers focusing on The Reality of Grace. During the day a variety of workshops were available for those struggling with unwanted same sex attraction and for ministers called to help those who struggle. Mine was the dual purpose. 

I left reflecting on the growth in my own journey, more aware of weaknesses to press through.

Homeward bound after the conference, our first stop was in nearby Asheville, NC at The Biltmore; the home of George and Edith Vanderbilt, built over 6 years by 1000 workers and completed in 1895. It is America’s largest home with over 175,000 sq ft and 250 rooms; an authentic American castle with grand rooms, exquisite tapestries, lush gardens and the first scientifically designed forest. Another fascinating time warp tour with sights and sounds of the Gilded Age long gone by.  

We left reflecting on wealth and affluence with a sense of emptiness that still longs for more.

It was no accident that our last tourist stop was The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. Located a few miles from where Billy Graham grew up, the barn-shaped building displays the life of a humble farm boy who became an ambassador of God’s love to the world. As we entered the doorway, beautifully designed as a glass cross; we immediately felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit. With the help of multimedia presentations and memorabilia, we walked through 60 years of ministry that touched the lives of presidents, queens, celebrities and everyday people; through wars, the civil rights movement and the fall of communism. True to its purpose, The Billy Graham Library isn’t a memorial or a museum, but an ongoing crusade communicating the unchanging, life-giving message of Jesus Christ.  

We left reflecting on our own spiritual walk; where we have come from and where we are going; feeling some what clumsy but inspired to do better and be better. 

Q4U: What are your summer reflections?

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

Ministry Update…

Been a little hectic these last weeks… As Mimi, I’ve been helping my son get his wife and kids prepared and on the plane to Latvia for their Summer vacation with family and friends. Personally, I’ve been offline finishing my online seminary classes; final exam taken and ordination papers are now headed this way!

Tomorrow, Bill and I load up the car for a road trip to North Carolina for the Exodus Freedom Conference. This is a conference I’ve been wanting to attend for several years now but have been unable to make. Needless to say, I’m very excited! I hope to post a blog from the conference at some point.

When we return, I’ll get back to work writing. My goal is to have my autobiography completed by the end of Summer and ready to publish by December. Even though I’m about half finished with my book, it’s been over two years since I’ve worked on it because of our many moves.

In other ministry news, we will be setting up our 501c3 status in the next weeks and months and seeking God’s guidance for ministry board members.

I appreciate your prayers for all these concerns. Thanks for supporting this budding ministry. Blessings…

Confession – The Road to Freedom

Not long ago I heard a song called Between You and Me by DC Talk. The song sparked a blog in me and goes beautifully with my Twitter devotions for May focusing on Step 5…

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

All 12 Steps are important, but I believe this one to be critical. Those of us who’ve had obsessions, compulsions and addictions, understand the power held over us by our secrets; a power that can only be broken with confession.

Because the nature of our addictions can be very personal and sensitive, it’s essential to exercise care in choosing the person with whom we share. This person should be detached from our situation (not a family member) but a trustworthy, compassionate female friend, pastor or therapist.

In confession we’re able to be honest about our past and express deep seeded grief; our long carried shame is finally relieved and the barriers of isolation that we’ve had between God and others begins to break down. With the courage to acknowledge our wrongs comes a new energy that will motivate us to change our lives. 

Do you have a secret that’s holding power over you?

Don’t wait! Contact a trusted woman to share your burden and find freedom today!  

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. ~ James 5:16 MSG

Sometimes Ya Gotta Fake It Til Ya Make It!

 Are you struggling to make needed changes in your life?

Whether you’re an addict trying to stay sober, wanting to lose weight, repairing an unhealthy relationship, trying to get on a better schedule, or just making it through life difficulties; we all struggle with changes. 

Maybe…

You don’t feel like finding a 12 Step accountability partner. 

You don’t feel like starting the exercise program at the gym. 

You don’t feel like going through relationship counseling.

You don’t feel like turning off the TV so you’ll be rested tomorrow.

You don’t feel like reading the Bible for guidance today.

Usually we can’t trust our feelings. It’s certainly dangerous to allow ourselves to be led by them. Instead, we should discern what the next right thing is and do it.   
 
“Do the right thing even when it feels wrong!” ~ Joyce Meyer

It’s easy to sit back and say, “I’m gonna do this or that.” But unless we actually do something, it will just be a bunch of words that mean nothing. We can’t forget people are watching us; friends and family members, most especially our children. Our credibility may be on the line and we don’t even know it.

 “If we want what other people have, we must be willing to do what they did to get it.” ~Joyce Meyer

Sometimes we may need to go through the motions until our heart gets in sync with our actions…  

Act as if or Fake it til you make it. (Wikipedia’s definition) 
~ to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence. 

Whatever it takes!!

We long for things to be different, healthier, to live a transformed life.

But we are afraid to change.

When we realize we don’t have to walk the path of change alone, that fear is removed.

God can give us the needed courage, determination and peace to take the necessary steps that will bring the desired changes. But it’s up to us. We have to reach out for His hand before He will help us.

Let’s pull ourselves together with a good attitude; pick up our Bible and walk with the Lord.
In the strength of His promises, we can do the work to change for the better!

God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that He won’t stop before it is complete…~ Philippians 1:6 (Contemporary English Version)

Book Review: Dirty Girls Come Clean

May 2010 at a XXXChurch conference in Las Vegas I had the opportunity to meet Crystal Renaud. With her interviews just published in Christianity Today and The New York Times and an upcoming book, The Dirty Girls Ministry was taking off like a rocket. Anxiously I awaited the opportunity to read Crystal’s story.

In Dirty Girls Come Clean, Crystal Renaud breaks new ground by coming clean about her own pornography addiction, along with 6 other girls. With stories that are touching and transparent, these women are breaking a silence that is long over due in the recovery arena. A well rounded recovery book, Crystal provides the necessary steps and resources for women to find hope, forgiveness and healing.

Pornography addiction, like other addictions, knows no religious or age boundaries. There are millions of Christian women hiding in the shame of this addiction. If you, or a woman you know, struggle with a pornography addiction please get this book. Teen girls and parents this is a MUST READ!

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.

Book Review: My Life So Far by Jane Fonda

My Life So Far by Jane Fonda
Random House 2006
What you remember about Jane Fonda may not be all that appealing or interesting. And honestly, this isn’t the type of book I normally browse, much less purchase. But after seeing Jane Fonda on a talk show recently I had to order it. At first glance My Life So Far didn’t seem to fit the theme of my ministry, but once I read her introduction I knew it was something I was supposed to read and write about.
Her story will help many women find healing! 
In My Life So Far Ms. Fonda is incredibly transparent about all aspects of her life and marriages. She talks openly about her battle with eating disorders, self image issues and sexuality. Considering she’s from my mother’s generation; I was amazed at how much my personal issues and emotional feelings mirrored hers. With her history of political controversy, who could imagine Jane Fonda had self-esteem problems?
She opens up about her deepest fears…

“I’m terrified of getting to that place right at the edge of life when there’s no time left, being filled with regrets and having no time to set things right.

I began thinking a great deal about [fears of mine] in my late fifties. I had begun to go through deep inner changes–changes that I didn’t fully understand until I began writing this book. I realized then that to avoid regrets, I would have to start, while I was still healthy and strong, to name what those might be and to do something about them. I needed to live consciously, and I knew it would mean facing things that frightened me — like intimacy.” 

One of my favorite things is her comparison of life to a play…

Act I    Birth to 29
Act II   30-59
Act III  60…

“The big difference between life and acting… in life there’s no rehearsal… this is it; better get it right before it’s over.”

Today, I’m challenged to finish my second act with a deeper understanding of myself, life and God. I want to go into Act III with great physical health, intent to have the best ending possible.

My Life So Far is full of wonderful stories of Jane’s family and movie making with great photos throughout. It’s quite a read to tackle with 600 pages, but definitely worth the time! Whether you’re a movie buff, interested in political history or a struggling with personal issues, you’ll get caught up in her story and won’t want to put it down. Having found a sister/friend… I miss hanging out with her. Her next book Prime Time: Creating a Great Third Act is scheduled to release in September. I’ve already pre-ordered it!

Are You Living Heart Healthy?


heart health

 

Generally, women don’t talk much about heart attacks. After all, it’s a man’s disease, right? Not any more!

According to the American Heart Association: 1 in 3 women have some form of heart disease and Cardiovascular Disease is the #1 killer of women!

 

 WE MUST PROTECT OURSELVES!

5 Simple Steps To Prevent Heart Disease:

  • QUIT SMOKING
  • EXERCISE 30 MINUTES MOST DAYS OF THE WEEK
  • EAT HEART HEALTHY: More Fish-n-Veggies; Less Meat-n-Dairy
  • WAIST MANAGEMENT: Women 32.5″ Men 35″
  • GET REGULAR HEALTH SCREENINGS

Significant symptoms prior to heart attack include:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety, feelings of impending doom or unusual nervousness

Significant symptoms during heart attack include:

  • Shortness of breath and/or inability to catch your breath when waking up
  • Weakness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Cold sweat, clammy sweat
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Chest pain, could also include back pain and/or deep aching and throbbing in one or both arms
  • Fluttering or rapid heartbeats, palpitations
  • Feeling of heaviness, such as pressure-like chest pain between the breasts that may radiate to the left arm or shoulder
Let’s not allow poor health to sneak up.

What good is it to have a spiritually healthy heart if our physical heart is in poor health? We won’t be around to enjoy the abundant life Christ died to give us. It’s a sad witness to Christ, if we can’t take care of the body we’ve been given!

Let’s be proactive… together!

Some of you were my friends and/or trainees when I was a trainer at Curves in Katy, TX. Well, this week I’m going back to Curves because I know it works – I lost almost 30 lbs in 2006. So before that lost weight creeps back on, I’m getting back in the program as a trainee this time! I encourage you to find a friend and get started. It’s more fun that way!


Guard your heart above all else, 
for it determines the course of your life.
~ Proverbs 4:23 NLT

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)