BOOK REVIEW :: The Resolution for Women by Pricilla Shirer


The Resolution for Women

by

@PriscillaShirer

B & H Books 

288 pp

What a perfect book to start the new year with! Although I’ve seen Priscilla Shirer speak in person, I’ve not read any of her books before now. If you enjoy watching Priscilla teach you will like this book. Like most good authors you can hear their speaking voice in their written word, and this was no exception.

The Resolution for Women was written in partnership with the movie Courageous which is calling men to be stronger spiritual leaders. Priscilla’s book is essentially that same message to women.

While all the resolutions are excellent, you may find some challenging to walk out. Certainly, they will cause you to think about some areas in life where you may have gotten lazy.

This book is quick read with fast moving chapters that aren’t full of fluff like many of today’s commercial writers. It is thought provoking with encouragement to put the resolutions in practice.

I highly recommend The Resolution for Women. It’s great for a small group study or just to share with a friend over coffee. Either way, I think you will enjoy it!

Check out the Book Trailer for The Resolution for Women: http://youtu.be/k-iOlcbXNUg

LIVING LIFE LESSONS :: What Are You Thinking?

With our busy, stressed out life it’s easy for our thoughts to turn negative or unhealthy… allowing current events to bring worry and fear; doubting your self-worth; having sexual fantasies about people… the list could go on and on. 


Let’s find help for this troubling issue.

In the early days of my recovery, I struggled constantly with my thoughts. After living a destructive lifestyle of sexual addiction, using pornography and fantasy regularly, I had a lot of garbage in my mind that I wanted out. But the harder I tried not to think about them the more they came. I was trapped with my past in my brain.

Then God showed up! One day in 2005 I found a verse that literally saved my thought life.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:8-9 NLT

I wrote the verse on a 3×5 card and kept it with me all the time. Whenever a bad thought or image resurfaced I would pull out my card and recite it out loud. This is my confession:

 I will think only on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely admirable, excellent and praiseworthy! 

If my thought didn’t fit into one of these categories it wasn’t allowed! Somedays I had to recite this over and over and over and over to keep my mind free of unwanted thoughts.

We can’t erase the memories we hold in our brain. As much as we want to we can’t push the negative thoughts out. But we can put new thoughts in. We have the power and ability to create new memories, by putting positive thoughts and images in.  The more good we put in, the more bad stuff gets pushed to the background. Until one day they seem to be gone. OK, sure if I want to recall a past image, it’s definitely possible. The trick is not to allow those thoughts to surface long enough to bring all their baggage.

If there’s one principle that was a turning point in my life journey, it is this:

 THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT! 

If you don’t like what’s in your thoughts — put in some new things. You have the power to redecorate the rooms of your brain. Why not put pretty things there?

True… Noble… Right… Pure… Lovely… Admirable… Excellent… Praiseworthy… 


Do your thoughts fit in these categories? 


As an exercise to ground myself further, I did a word study on each of these categories. This was a great way to build them deeper into my mind and helped me tremendously. 

If you’re struggling with your thought life, I challenge you to follow my example for one week. 


You won’t be sorry!


Here’s a video teaching by Joyce Meyer on this same subject. I hope you are blessed by it.
http://youtu.be/SOvh_pLOfAY

Photo courtesy of 123rf.com

The Road to Recovery :: STEP ONE

Step One:


We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our separation from God–that our lives had become unmanageable. 

I know nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. ~ Romans 7:18

Principle One (Celebrate Recovery):


Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit. ~ Matthew 5:3


The pain of remaining the same has finally become greater than the fear of change. After spending a lifetime hiding from or numbing our pain, it’s time to surrender and face our pain head on. 


This first step requires that we recognize our brokenness so our healing process can begin. We can’t heal a wound unless we admit it exists; we must face and admit our denial. 



The Celebrate Recovery Bible has a wonderful acrostic for DENIAL:

D – disables our feelings.

E – energy drain.

N – negates our growth.

I  –  isolates us from God.

A – alienates us from other human relationships.

L –  lengthens our pain. 

We should now ask ourselves:

In what way have I isolated myself from God and others? 

How do I disable my feelings?

What areas of my life are out of control?

Don’t allow the fear of change to rule your life. Healing is possible!

If you are struggling with hurts, habits or hang-ups and aren’t participating in a 12 Step support group, I encourage you to seek one out. Celebrate Recovery groups are available in most cities.  

I hope you enjoy our Road to Recovery Theme song for this year:  http://youtu.be/yHIO_1JlBKc


Resources:

Celebrate Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Christians

Preparing for 2013

For the last several weeks I’ve been asking God for direction and focus for my ministry blog. After much prayer and meditation I finally have a peace about my outline for the upcoming year. In keeping with last year’s magazine format, we will have topical weekly columns that repeat on a specific Wednesday of the month.

To be faithful to my recovery journey and my ministry’s primary message of healing, I will continue to dedicate the first Wednesday of each month to addiction recovery. The last few years I’ve gone through the traditional 12 Steps. This year I am going to combine the 12 Steps, with Celebrate Recovery’s Eight Principles – which are based on The Beatitudes. I’m looking forward to learning new things.
This last year we learned about Virtues and Vices. Although, I will continue my personal studies of Christian Virtue, I’ve decided to take a slight detour and focus on the Spiritual Disciplines this years. We will be using Richard Foster’s brilliant book Celebration of Discipline, Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines and Charles Swindoll’s So You Want to Be Like Christ? as foundations for our study. I hope you come along as we go out into the deep in search of what God would have us be in this life.  
In 2004 when I was beginning my recovery journey and returning back to the Lord, I was a mess to put it lightly. I struggled terribly with my thought life and mental boundaries. It wasn’t long before God directed me to write scriptures and various lessons I was learning from books on 3×5 cards. These cards were crucial to getting through days and often hours of those early years. I literally carried them with me everywhere I went. As I’ve struggled in a few areas these last few months, I’ve been drawn back to my cards. Then when I was praying for this upcoming year, God reminded me of the important messages held in those cards. So for 2013, on the third Wednesday of each month I will post a column called Living Life Lessons which will be various topics and life lessons God has been working into my life these last eight years.
As a student of life and avid reader it’s important that I continue to share the good things I find. On the fourth Wednesday of each month I will be posting a Book Review. I’m excited about the book list that has already come together for this next year! Some are on my resource page and have been critical to my journey for several years. Others are new publications and some just new to me. I hope you will be blessed as we strive to be better together.

Here is what you can expect each month of 2013 on Reaching Hurting Women:

  • 1st Wednesday:  The Road to Recovery
  • 2nd Wednesday: Celebrate Discipline
  • 3rd Wednesday:  Living Life Lessons
  • 4th Wednesday:  Book Reviews
  • 5th Wednesday:  Bonus Blog / Guest Bloggers 
Jump into the river with me… let’s go deeper together with this music video! http://youtu.be/h_O_3XrXlFQ

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

BOOK REVIEW: The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler, MD


The End of Overeating:

Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

by
@DavidAKesslerMD

Rodale, Inc. 2009
330 pp

While scanning the Internet for blog material, I ran across this book. The title was intriguing and seemed to fit my research needs, so I placed my Amazon order. Upon it’s arrival, I was so overcome with the shocking information being revealed to me that I consumed the book as fast as I could. 

Do you have an overpowering urge to eat an entire bag of chips while surfing late night TV?
Does the dessert tray at your dinner date call your name long before your entree has arrived?

In The End of Overeating Dr. David Kessler explains in fascinating, but scary, details why the food industry’s conniving scientific, “tricked-out” recipes keep us coming back again and again to foods that are not at all in our best interest.
The End of Overeating is timely and brilliant… disturbing but vitally important! Well written with engaging short chapters that keep you cruising through the book at an amazing pace. The information is concise and life changing! We can get off this overeating roller coaster if we take heed and do the work Dr. Kessler carefully lays out.
In studying sexual addiction I knew that food addiction was similar. But not until reading this book have I seen it so clearly. I’ve never read a book that so closely describes sexual addiction! 

Among the many internal conflicts that plague us—the unwanted thoughts, the anxieties, the compulsions and impulses that too often seem beyond our power to quiet–the struggle over what we eat is, for millions of people, the most daunting. (from the Foreword)

A few years ago this controversial former FDA commissioner, Dr. Kessler exposed the tobacco industry. Today he is taking on another business that’s making us sick– the “big food industry” who manipulates our tastebuds to get to our pocket books with scientifically designed recipes that keep us coming back for more. 
I will never look at a restaurant menu the same. Thank you Dr. Kessler!
For the sake of your health and your family’s health— Read this book!!
Check out this interesting interview with Dr. Kessler: http://youtu.be/3OqJhbSeUI8

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

Coming in December on Reaching Hurting Women!

PREVIEW DECEMBER’S ARTICLES ON REACHING HURTING WOMEN!
****************************************


Working the Steps :: STEP 12


We’re now ready to carry our life message to others; to practice these principles in all our affairs.





BOOK REVIEW

The End of Overeating: 
Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite   

by
David A. Kessler, MD  

With the latest brain science and interviews with top physicians, discover the food industry’s aggressive marketing tactics and learn shocking facts about how we lost control over food and how to get it back.




Virtues ~n~ Vices :: GENEROSITY

What better Virtue to study this season? Let’s focus our energies on what we can do for others rather than what we will get.                                                                                         



           

Healing Hurts :: OVEREATING

Our desire to eat can be a real problem. Often it sneaks up on us when we are depressed, lonely or hormonal. Let’s learn how to establish feasible boundaries and create healthy eating habits. 

   

                                   

LOOK FOR A NEW ARTICLE EVERY  WEDNESDAY IN DECEMBER!

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