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.


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07.17.13

Love Pays the Rent

Despite the Sonny and Cher 60’s song… 

Love does pay the rent!



When we put our total trust in God to provide for our basic needs we are expecting His love to pay our rent. 


Children don’t worry about the rent. In fact, rent isn’t on their radar. They have blind faith that their needs will be taken care of, because they trust their parent’s love for them.

As adults it’s difficult for us to put ourselves back in that innocent trusting mindset because we have been hurt so much by life experiences.

If we can listen to Jesus’ teaching and become as a little child life can be so much better.  

It’s not easy but it is possible. We must remember, God never asks us to do something He hasn’t already equipped us to do.

This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. In that kingdom, the most humble who are most like this child are the greatest.  ~ Matthew 18:3-4 (Voice)

How can I be more childlike?

  • Be more play-full and wonder-full.
  • Sit in the grass and look at the flowers.
  • Discover something new today.

Be alive, awake, aware, in awe of God’s creations around you!


The 12 Principles of Recovery :: OPENNESS

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS, ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP TO LEARN THESE CORE VALUES AND PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE. 



STEP FIVE
Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of or wrongs.

PRINCIPLE FIVE: 
Openness

KEY QUESTION
How do I trust?




Addicts have a sordid history with trust issues. We’ve trusted people we shouldn’t have. We didn’t trust people we should have. We violated our own values. We invaded other people’s space. We didn’t do what we said we would. We weren’t faithful to our partner. We kept secrets. We didn’t trust ourselves. We weren’t trustworthy. 


Most of us were deprived of bonding with our parents as young children causing us to feel unworthy. The ability to trust is closely linked to feeling wanted and having a sense of belonging. 

Even after nine years in recovery I still struggle. Maybe not every day or even every week, but when the struggles come they sometimes hit hard. One thing that has made the biggest difference over these years is having a trusted friend with whom I can share my challenges. 

It’s most important to find a friend or mentor with whom we can share our pain. We must seek out a fellowship community or recovery group where we can make trusted friends. There we can begin to bond, open up and heal. 

Learning how to trust others isn’t a quick process. We’ve had bad examples most of our lives so we will need to walk this path slowly. When sharing our story we must not over share but yet not hide things God is trying to bring into the light where the healing can start.

When we honestly ask ourselves which [people] in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness that is a friend who cares. ~ Henri Nouwen **



RESOURCES:

A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes **

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Put Away Childish Things

Children who grow up in a stressful, violent, or abusive environment pick up various coping mechanisms. Whether it’s eating disorders, emotional avoidance, self-distructive behaviors or sexual acting out, these coping skills help soothe unbearable emotional stresses.


When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  ~1 Corinthians 13:11-12 (New Living Translation)

Our mirror may reflect an adult but inside we’re still a little child. When stressed, often unknowingly, we turn to our childhood comforter. Some are relatively harmless behaviors, like nail biting; others like eating disorders and cutting, can be very destructive. 


It’s scary how easy we can get lost and fall back into old childish patterns. When we’re in pain we may seek relief and pleasure from a habit that will ultimately bring unhappiness. 

Characteristics of Infants / Children:

  • Have a lack of balance.
  • Don’t know right from wrong.
  • Easily give in to temptation. 

At one time our coping mechanisms helped us get through bad circumstances. But now God has something better for us. He wants us to put away our childish dependencies and look to Him for our comfort. 

Characteristics of Spiritually Mature:

  • Grounded on God’s Word.
  • Discerning good from evil.
  • Steadfast in mind and spirit.

God has clearly told me to put away my childish dependencies. Can I do it? Yes, but not alone. It will take a steady diet of God’s Word and a faithful regimen of prayer and meditation. Though I may be fearful and uncertain of my own strength, with God’s help I will do it afraid!


Join the conversation :: 

How are you handling your childhood coping mechanisms? 


If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE for @RebeccaStJames‘ song God Help Me.

RESOURCES:
Life Recovery Devotional
Deeply Rooted in Christ by Joshua Choonmin Kang

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Living Life Lessons :: EFFECTIVE LIVING

In the Living Life Lessons column each month I’m sharing various lessons God has taught me over these last eight years. Today I want to talk about living effective lives.

Whether we recognize it or not our lives effect others. If we want to have a healthy effect on our circle of influence we need to take care how we live.

Our strategy for effective living begins with SEEKING WISDOM. Some of us were fortunate to have parents that taught us right from wrong, others maybe not. So where can we find wisdom? The Bible says that wisdom comes from fearing God. This isn’t the trembling-in-your-boots kind of fear, but rather a reverential fear–appreciating God for who He is.

The second requirement in our strategy for effective living is MORAL APPLICATION. Once we have reverential fear we begin trusting in God. By allowing His Word to speak to us personally we come to place of obedience. Our heart lines up with what Scripture says, our spirit is convicted by the Holy Spirit and that makes us ready for changed actions.

The third requirement for effective living is PRACTICAL APPLICATION.  Our hearts have been softened by God’s Word, we’ve sought His wisdom and have begun to obey in our actions. These are often challenges to our daily lives. For me the only answer is to keep God’s Word close to my heart and mind throughout the day. That may mean carrying a 3×5 Scripture card with me everywhere I go.

Results of practicing the above three steps is a healthy, positive and EFFECTIVE LIFE. How do we know? We will begin to actually experience what God does as He honors our obedience. It may not happen right away but we must trust, have faith and expect to see God’s blessing pour out. Just like earthly parents, God loves when His children are obedient and He promises to give us a reward!

Over the last few years I’ve been able to put these steps into practice. There have been times when it was easy and other times, like now, were more difficult.  Today God has me under His refining fire again, taking me to a higher level, which always means change and a deeper surrender to His will for my life.  But as I’m working this process again, I’m going back to what I know works… pulling out my 3×5 cards and relearning some lessons.

My child, listen to me and do as I say and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. If you live a life guided by wisdom, you won’t limp or stumble as you run. Carry out my instructions; don’t forsake them. Guard them, for they will lead you to a fulfilled life. ~ Proverbs 4: 10-12

Do you have a system in place that helps you make needed changes in your life?

If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for one of my new favorite Hillsong videos!

RESOURCES:
Life Application Study Bible
Life Recovery Bible


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Healing Hurts :: ANXIETY

anxiety: distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.



Anxiety seems to be an inevitable part of life. Stimulated by fear, when life comes at us with both barrels, we go into a panic attack or worse, shut down completely. 


Often, we bring anxiety on ourselves, with our too busy, over-productive, thoughtless style of modern work, play and home life. We rush around trying to cram as much into one day as we possible can. And we wonder why we have anxiety! 


If we take a simpler approach to our day we’re less stressed and worried, by slowing down, we find meaning and purpose in whatever task we’ve been assigned, whether it’s scrubbing dishes, driving a bus or delegating duties to an office. If we put more care-filled thought into our daily routine, the mundane will turn beautiful and our self-inflicted anxiety will fade away.


Another word for anxiety is worry. And fear is always at the root of worry. We learned last month in our Virtues~n~Vices column that faith is the only thing that can counteract fear. If you are running low on faith… I have just the answer for you. God’s Word! 


Here are a some Scripture references that help me in times of anxiety. Look them up. When one speaks to you, write it on a 3×5 card and keep it with you. 


God’s Word will renew your mind and remove your anxiety!


Joshua 1:9
Psalms 16:8; 27:1; 34:4; 55:22; 56:11; Psalm 91
Proverbs 3:5-6; 12:25
Isaiah 26:3; 41:10
Matthew 6:25-34
John 14:27
2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 4:15-18; 9:8; 10:5
Philippians 4:8

2 Timothy 1:7; 4:18


5 STEPS THAT OVERCOME ANXIETY
  1. Check Your Inputs Media influences are a recipe for anxiety and depression. Why do we think we need to know everything that’s going on in the world to survive each day? It’s simply not true. There’s very little we can do to change the head lines. Why clutter your mind with all the trivia, frivolity, drama and violence? Life’s too short to waste brain matter on unnecessary input. Instead, fill your mind with praise music to lift your spirit, read a good old book! Need help finding one? Email me.
  2. Check Your Thoughts – Think about what you are thinking about. Journal your thoughts in times of anxiety, trace them back, find the input that triggered those thoughts. You may need to eliminate an activity, a friend or program that’s triggering anxiety. 
  3. Check Your Activity Lack of exercise, not enough or too much sleep can cause depression and anxiety. Take a walk, look at the birds. Are they worrying?  Stillness, silence and solitude work wonders for anxiety. Yoga has been instrumental in my own mental and physical health. (Now don’t get ruffled about yoga… there are Christian Yoga books now.) Also, get yourself on a good sleep routine. There’s a lot of research showing the importance of circadian sleep rhythm – sleep when the sun does. 
  4. Check Your Diet – Eat closer to the earth. Cut caffeine and sugar. Drop soda, drink more water. Look for hidden sugars, high-glycemic levels in bread, grains, fruit, veggies, condiments, etc. By eating more organic, non-processed foods we will naturally feel better. 
  5. Check Your Focus – What do you spend your day thinking about? Take your mind off worries by helping someone else. Become a mentor, volunteer, lead or take a class. There’s always someone who has more problems. When we take our mind off ourselves and put it on someone else, it’s amazing how insignificant our worries seem. 


I hope this week’s column has been helpful to you. I know what it’s like to suffer with anxiety and panic attacks. If you have a serious problem, don’t hesitate to get medical assistance. God has given us doctors to help us. I was on medication for a couple of years to help me press through some tough times. During those years, I stayed busy renewing my mind with Scripture. Soon I had the strength and ability to live without anxiety medication. 



Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. ~ Philippians 4:6-7 (Amplified)


Are anxious thoughts creeping in? 


Watch or listen to @HillsongUnited sing Mighty To Save http://youtu.be/-08YZF87OBQ

* Helpful Resources: 
Hope for the Heart Biblical Counseling Keys: Worry – The Joy Stealer by June Hunt
Hope for Today Bible by Joel and Victoria Osteen
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
The Rule of St. Benedict 
Waiting on God by Andrew Murray

Isn’t It Funny How God Works?

Earlier this week I posted a blog. OK, that’s not big news, it’s what God taught me after the post that’s so cool.

Since I started writing my blog two years ago, I’ve been focusing on trying to become a better writer, post on a somewhat regular basis and grow my reader base.

For those who know me or have been following me for any time, you know Bill and I have moved multiple times in the last 3 years. (6 moves to be exact!) Needless to say, that can put a cramp in anyone’s writing style or schedule.

When I did get a chance to write, I would take several hours of an afternoon, armed with the inspiration God had given me and set out to write the best blog possible.

Carefully, consciously, creatively crafting…

Occasionally I get discouraged. Even though a lot of women follow me, I’ve only had a couple of comments post to my blogs these two years.

No long ago I found out that to post a comment on my blog you must sign up for a Gmail account because Blogger is a Google product. This has kept many readers from posting comments.

To deal with the Google issue I contracted with Feed Blitz to distribute my blogs in an email newsletter to my followers. That’s going well; my reader number continues to grow, but still little response.

Now to this week’s post…

On Tuesday instead of spending hours carefully crafting my blog, I just sat down and blurted out what was on my heart in about 15 minutes.

I’ve gotten several phone calls and multiple emails in response to that post.

So…

What’s the lesson learned here???

Don’t try so hard.

Set a timer.


Go with the flow.


Share from my heart.

Trust the Lord, He’s in control!

It’s for Him that I write anyway!