Crutches

What carries you through the day?

 

 

29381594 - vector silhouettes of people walking on crutches.

What does your crutch look like?

 

  • A bottle of liquor
  • An Internet site
  • A pack of cigarettes
  • A case of beer
  • A trip to the mall
  • A box of donuts
  • A pot of coffee
  • A bottle of pills
  • A pack of cards
  • A sharp blade
  • A binge/purge session
  • A one night stand

What do you think about when you first wake up? On your way home?

 Do you think about how fast you can get your crutch because you can’t stand walking with this pain by yourself any longer?

We’re afraid to walk without our crutch because it will be too painful. And it is too painful, if we try to do it alone.

It’s better to walk with a painful limp with God’s help and be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy, than to walk without God using our crutch to numb the pain.

When we take our mind off ourselves, by helping others who are walking with the same painful limp that we have, we almost forget we need a crutch.

In time we grow stronger, our muscles learn new ways of walking and we aren’t in as much pain.

One day we will be pain free.

 

Image Credit: majivecka / 123RF Stock Photo

Painful Obedience

 

Perseverance3

God has asked me to give up something and honestly I’m not at all happy about it. However, I know if I don’t obey the consequences could be severe, maybe even irreversible. 


So I have no choice but to trust God’s will as I press through the pain. 


The most difficult challenge is that while giving up this habit / behavior I’m living in an environment where I see it every day. 


No matter how tough,  it’s vital that I intentionally keep a good attitude expecting God’s blessing on the other side of this mountain.  

If you’ll willingly obey, you’ll feast like kings. But if you’re willful and stubborn, you’ll die like dogs. ~ Isaiah 1:19-20 MSG

Image credit:lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

The Road to Recovery :: STEP THREE

STEP THREE:
We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. ~ Romans 12:1

PRINCIPLE THREE: (Celebrate Recovery)
Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. ~ Matthew 5:5

There comes a time in our recovery journey when we need to look for help. We no longer can do this work on our own. And like a surgeon, who must go to another doctor for treatment, we can’t operate on ourselves. We need the Great Healer, the only Higher Power ~ Jesus Christ!

In Step Three we’re working through a big decision. We prepare for this decision process by thoroughly working Steps One and Two.

  • Look at the unmanageability of our lives.
  • Consider our needs, God’s abilities and our future with or without God. 
  • We contemplate the required changes.
  • Decide God is the only one able to manage our lives.

Let’s look at the Celebrate Recovery acrostic that can help us turn our lives over to God:

T ~ TRUST 

We put blind trust in many things daily. We trust the chair we’re sitting in to hold us. We trust our car will make it home. We trust the electric switch for light. Why is it so difficult to trust God to take care of us? 

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ~ Romans 10:9

U ~  UNDERSTAND 

Relying on our own understanding gets us into many messes. That’s why we need Jesus. After we ask Jesus into our life, we must look to him in all our decisions. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, he will show us how he wants us to live. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 

R ~ REPENT 

Repentance is making an about face with your life; a complete 180, turning from the life of sin we’ve been leading to living a life with and for God. When we have repented we see the world from God’s perspective instead of our own. 

“The time has come,” [Jesus] said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” ~ Mark 1:15

N ~ NEW LIFE 

As we take the above three actions; trusting, understanding and repenting our lives are made new in Christ! 

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Some old thought patterns have recently resurfaced in my life. So you aren’t alone, I’m working these steps right along with you. It is my prayer that this column has been of some help for you today.

Please click here to watch / listen to the Road to Recovery theme song for this year.

Blessings… Tamara

Resources:

Celebrate Recovery Bible
Life Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Chirstians

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

Are You Hiding Behind Your Baggage?

When we hide behind our baggage we limit ourselves, our relationships and our future.


How much baggage do you have? Can you carry it with one hand or do you need a handler to assist you? Either way you’ve come to the right place!


This month we’ve been dealing with a lot of tough issues. We started by working Step 5 Admitting to God, ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Next we reviewed Anne Paulk’s book Restoring Sexual Identity. In week three we focused on the Christian Virtue of Integrity, pressing against the hypocrisies that creep into our lives. And last week we learned how to overcome Identity Crisis

Today’s topic relates to all the above issues. If we: can’t confess our wrongs to another person, aren’t confident in our sexuality, walk with hypocrisy in our daily life, have doubts about who we are or why we’re in this world, then we’re probably carrying some seriously heavy baggage!

What are you carrying in your baggage? 

  • Childhood hurts and wounds
  • Addictions overcome or recurring
  • Poor choices with painful consequences 
  • Failed relationships
  • Beliefs of inadequacies, insufficiency, entitlement
  • Hurt feelings, loneliness, anger, resentment, disappointments
  • Unhealthy coping skills,  etc, ad infinitum…


How are you handling your baggage? 
Hiding it in the closet, hoping it will disappear on its own?
Buried and smashed by the weight to the point of severe depression?

A few tips for baggage handling…

  • Face it. By accepting the truth of the past, we take away its power over us.
  • Call a trusted friend or family member. Talking it out relieves much stress and pressure.
  • Turn to Jesus. There’s no one more qualified to carry our burdens than Jesus Christ.

If you’re tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28 

Our past and its baggage has made us who we are today. So we mustn’t live with total regret. We can choose to have a new perspective on our past. Rather than focusing on the negative, identifying ourselves with our shameful mistakes, we can look and see where God was at work. 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. ~ Psalm 23:6 


God was there. Even though we might have made terrible mistakes that forced us and our family into bad consequences; even in our darkest days of sin, God was watching us. He knew our heart’s deepest desires before we did. He knew that one day we would want out of that mess. So He gave us His Grace and Mercy. When we look back and see Grace, God’s goodness and mercy instead of the darkness, pain and mistakes, we’re able to see God’s Presence in all things.

So where do we go from here? Let’s choose to...


Live a life of greatness not mediocrity!
1. Step Out. Don’t make God have to drag you out. Receive what He has for your life!
2. Step Up. Encourage yourself in the Lord. Choose to believe in yourself!
3. Step In. Don’t wait for something to seem official. Destiny calls for faith!

When you look at your past where do you see God? Can you see His mercy at work?


See God’s goodness in your life. Enjoy @Israel Houghton’s video: http://youtu.be/OKs0aPWGTVk


Photos courtesy 123rf.com

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

Passover: A Memorial to Freedom

As Christians many of us don’t know exactly what to do with the Passover holiday.

Isn’t it only a Jewish tradition?

I’d like to take a look at this important holiday and maybe give you a fresh way to look at it in your life today.

You may recall the 1956 classic movie The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston playing Moses. Although Cecil B DeMille took artist license with some of the story, most of it is taken directly from Old Testament accounts of the Israelite’s deliverance from 400 years of slavery.

No doubt it will be shown this week on cable. If you haven’t seen it or it’s been a while since you have, I encourage you to watch it with you family this week. The visuals from this movie help me to have a clearer perspective on the reality of the Passover and its importance.

In this story, God has heard the cry of the Israelite people who have been bound by slavery to the Egyptians for hundreds of years. A series of events leads Moses, who has grown up as a Prince in Egypt, out into the wilderness.

God comes to Moses in a burning bush and asks him to go rescue the Israelites and lead them out of Egypt. After some initial doubt, Moses agrees. He goes before Pharaoh multiple times asking for the Israelite’s freedom to leave so they can worship God. Pharaoh denies them their freedom.

With each of Pharaoh’s denials God brings upon Egypt 10 plagues:

1. All the water in Egypt turned to blood

2. Frogs covered the land

3. All of Egypt was swarmed with gnats

4. Then a swarm of flies

5. All the livestock dies

6. All the people broke out in boils

7. A hail storm killed all the plants and animals

8. Locust covered Egypt and ate what was left after the hail

9. Three days of such darkness that no one could move

10. Death of all first born including people and animals

During the first 9 plagues God protected the Israelite people. But for the final plague-Death of the Firstborn– the Israelite people had to take an action to protect themselves.

Before the Death Angel came, God commanded the Israelites to put blood from an unblemished, first born lamb, over the door posts of each home; this would protect them from death.

Inside their homes, the Israelites ate a meal of roast lamb, bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. They ate bitter herbs to signify the bitterness of slavery. Unleavened bread; because the dough didn’t have to rise.

The meal was to be eaten while dressed for travel as a sign of their faith that God would deliver them. Although they were not yet free, they were to be prepared, for God had said he would lead them out of the bondage of Egyptian slavery. The Israelites were ready to leave at any time.

I’m sure you know the rest of the story, the Death Angel comes; the Pharaoh’s son dies then in his grief finally agrees to let the Israelites leave.

So what can we take from this story and apply to our modern lives today?

What lesson is here for us?

For us who are recovering addicts…?

For us who have overcome a particular challenge in our lives?

For us who have been freed from our own bondage?

Since Jesus was Jewish, he celebrated all the Jewish traditions. As followers of Jesus doesn’t it make since that we would celebrate those same traditions as well.

I suggest we take the Passover holiday and use it as an opportunity to celebrate the freedom that God has given us. Maybe have a Passover dinner with lamb, unleavened bread and some bitter herbs. I don’t mean in a legalistic way but simply to honor what God has done in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but the Death Angel has passed me by several times!

Praise God!

I am free today from the bondage of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, from sexual and relationship addiction, from the grips of pornography, fantasy and disease.

Father God, thank you for sending Jesus Christ; The Perfect Lamb, and covered me with The Blood that saved me from the ultimate Death.

Let’s use Passover as a memorial to the freedom God has given us.

QUESTION:

What bondage has God freed you from?

What can you do to remember the freedom God has given you?

Maybe you aren’t yet free of your bondage?

What can you do as a sign of your faith that God will bring you out as He has promised?

Don’t Take No When God Says, “YES!”

Last week I had an opportunity to travel with my husband to meet our new company’s board members and investors. During our stay in Dallas I caught up with my small group from Gateway Church, reconnected with my friends Susie, Cindy and Mary, and met new friends Tonya, Monette and Diane. God always shows up in this group and this day was no exception. Cindy shared what God continues to speak to her: “We must not take no when God says, Yes!” She has shared these words with us on more than one occasion, but this time it came to me with a fresh meaning.

Let’s do a little grammar and look at the tense of the word. It isn’t said, in the past tense, but in the present tense, says. Meaning, the promises in the Bible were not just for the people in Old and New Testament times. The Power of God’s “Yes” is for us today!

God says, “Yes!” to so many things that I think we sometimes take it for granted. Maybe we don’t even realize what He says, “Yes!” about to begin with. He says, “Yes!” to marriage and family restoration; emotional, mental and physical healing; financial breakthroughs; deliverance from low self-esteem and freedom from addictions.

Our problem is that we choose instead to believe the voice in our head that continues to repeat messages from the enemy; messages of doubt and unbelief, confusion and uncertainty, discouragement and defeat.

QUESTION: What are you saying no to today? Physical healing, your marriage, addiction recovery…

CHALLENGE: This Christmas say “Yes!” to God’s love; love that was brought to a hurting and lost world in the form of a baby boy that Holy Night 2000 years ago. No matter what may be troubling you, there’s no hurt, no problem too big for God to overcome. Don’t wait another minute, say no to the enemy today! Open your mouth and tell him God say’s, “Yes!” Yes to your body being healthy and whole. Tell the enemy God say’s, “Yes!” to your marriage being fully restored in Christ. Tell the enemy God say’s “Yes!” to your freedom from all addictions! Don’t take the enemy’s no; God has given you The Power of His Yes! Believe it and receive it today!

Finding True Freedom

What does it mean to be free? Where is freedom? Can we find it? How do we find it? Who is a free person? What do they look like? How does a free person live their life? I want to take a look at this word Freedom and talk about what it really means to be free.

Freedom can mean many things to many different types of people. Whether it’s freedom from political persecution, freedom from physical restraint, immunity and civil liberty or simply the power to exercise choice and decision without constraint; freedom is a powerful state of being which we all crave and for that matter deserve.

I’ve lived the life of a people-pleaser for most of my 51 years; to the point that I was living my life for everyone else. I was a social chameleon trying to be all things to all people. I sacrificed a college education to be a stay at home mom, committed to home school my three children rather than subject them to the failing public school system. In early adulthood my husband and I were in a denominational church that put a lot of emphasis on service. My husband and I taught 4th grade Sunday School for years, I taught preschool choir and sang in the adult choir, not to mention caring for aging family members. I worked hard to be the ideal wife, mother and citizen. All while my husband was climbing the corporate ladder of success; working 60+ hours a week with a 3 hour round trip commute to our suburban home. We were practicing Christians living a “Christian” lifestyle, but were we free? Was I free? Looking back, I would say no. I was in deep bondage to what I thought others expected of me and of the expectations I had on myself. They weren’t real expectations, but they felt real to me and I lived my life accordingly. Where does a person go from here to find true freedom?

Not long after this, my life took a dark turn that led to a lifestyle filled with sin and addictions. The “selfless” people-pleasing life I had been living built up so much resentment that I exploded into a monster no one who knew me would have ever dreamed I could become. I was lost in my own pain with no where to turn. Searching… but what was I searching for? Freedom. Freedom for me began to mean I could do whatever I wanted to do, no matter how it effected the people around me. The freedom to be myself on my terms. The freedom to be who I wanted to be no matter what anyone said or thought. It was all about my freedom. A very narcissistic mindset, but one in which many of us live today. In reality, my “freedom” brought with it a bondage that ultimately destroyed my life, my reputation, my family and my marriage. Where was this true freedom I so desperately desired? I ended up having to spend time in jail to find true freedom. Ironically, there are people behind bars today that have more true freedom because of a relationship with Jesus Christ than many people walking the streets in the darkness of their own personal bondage.

Jesus Christ says, ” You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… I assure you everyone who sins is a slave of sin…if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.” – John 8:32,36 NLT

The note in The Life Recovery Bible to this verse states:

To be “set free” is to know the truth– the truth about ourself and about Jesus our liberator. The truth is this: We are a slave to sin and powerless to manage our life effectively. With God’s truth as a standard for our moral inventory, we can recognize and confess our needs and struggles, our sins and addiction. As we confess these to God, to ourself, and to at least one other person, we share the truth about our life. When we turn our broken life over to God, who alone can make us whole, we are again acknowledging the truth. These different applications of the truth can combine to set us free from sinful habits, chemical dependencies, and emotional bondage.

It is my prayer that in reading this column you can find your way to true freedom in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. God Bless You.

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