That Little Sneaky Path to a Bad Place

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

 He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake ~ Psalm 23:3, NKJV

One Sunday my pastor had to do some housekeepin’ fussin’ at our congregation before he started his sermon. It was a “visitors, close your ears” moment as Jimmy interrupted the service for an important message from our neighbors.

See, right beside our church property is a city park. On Sundays, when our parking lot is full, we tend to use the city park lot for our overflow parking. The only problem is that the folks going to the city park don’t like the fact that those daggum CHURCH people are taking their parking spaces.

It is not nice of us. Really. I’m sorry. I’ve done it, too.

And while our sweet pastor calmly asked the congregation, once again, to STOP PARKING IN THE CITY PARK PARKING LOT (he didn’t yell, but I bet he wanted to), folks still do it. As soon as Jimmy finished his announcement and began his sermon, God had a sermon just for me. He wasn’t finished with me and the forbidden parking lot issue. That’s what happens when you make a path or keep a path open, He seemed to say, “You’re going to walk down it eventually.”

See, while we have been warned, scolded, and pleaded with not to park next door, there is this nice little path through the bushes from the city park’s parking lot to our church’s parking lot. The bushes are trimmed on both sides, cobblestones are succinctly placed, and a nice little bit of concrete forms a gently curving sidewalk. Someone keeps the bushes clipped and the grass maintained. The breezeway almost beckons us (me) to break the rules.

Now let’s go down a different path. Let’s call the path sin. Let’s say that you have decided that once and for all you are not going to park yourself in the parking lot of a particular sin.

  • You’re not going to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts and eat a dozen chocolate-covereds in one sitting. You’re not even driving by.
  • You are not going to sleep with that boyfriend… ever again!
  • You’re not going to date that guy you know is bad for you… ever again.
  • You’re not going to look at that particular website.
  • You’re not going to flirt with the married guy in the next cubicle.
  • You’re not going to gossip about other people.
  • You are not going to drink because you know you have an alcohol problem.
  • You are not going to indulge in online shopping because you’re in debt.
  • You’re not going to _______________.

There are hundreds of vices you could put in that sentence. But then there’s a nicely groomed little path that you’ve kept open…just in case. You wouldn’t call it “just in case.” You wouldn’t say it out loud.

  • The guy’s name is still in your contacts list on your smartphone.
  • You still think about what that guy in the next cubicle would like when you get dressed for work in the morning.
  • You still pull up that website when you think God isn’t looking.
  • You still pull up a chair when someone begins to gossip.
  • You still take the route home from work that goes right by the Dunkin’ Donuts store.
  • You keep a bottle in the cabinet…just for company.
  • The paths beckon you. And as long as you keep the breezeways open, you’ll probably breeze right through them… eventually.

The answer? Remove the path. Put up a gateless fence.

  • Remove the contact.
  • Change your job.
  • Get rid of your computer.
  • Get an accountability partner.
  • Take a different route home from work.
  • Remove the bottle.
  • Unsubscribe.
  • Make the path to temptation impassable, implausible, and impossible to take, and put up a gateless fence instead.

Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29 NKJV). That is pretty dramatic. I’m not telling you to pluck out your eye, and I’m not sure that’s what Jesus was saying either. But He was telling us to remove the cause of the temptation.

Remove the path. Put up a fence.

So here’s my question: Do you need to put up a fence where you now have a path?

Have a blessed day!

Brain Jumble

letters
The cloudy cold dreary weather causes people to struggle with changes in their mood, and pain in their joints.  For me, add to it how it wrecks havoc on my foggy brain.   There was a time when I think my body just needs some oiling (lots of supplements/vitamins), and could definitely need some repairing but on those cold and dreary days….…I think a new one is the only thing that will help!
At the age of 61, some would say it is normal to forget appointments, people’s names, a movie I already watched (maybe more than once) or even what was said a few minutes ago….. the reality is my brain as seen on my MRI scans is filled with holes scattered all over the place. Some are bigger than others but definitely more than just the few which come with aging.
I love this explanation from a fellow MS blogger “I imagine words bouncing around in my brain, sliding from hole to hole and hitting road blocks in hopes of finding a way of escape. It’s kind of like they are stuck in a perpetual reality game of Chutes and Ladders.”   It is so true.  Combine that mess with missing memories and some days I feel like the movie “50 First Dates”.  Yup, I had to look up the name because I couldn’t remember it.  If you haven’t seen it, it is about a girl who doesn’t remember so each day is a new day.  An average day for me includes not remembering things BUT there are those crazy radon thoughts which find their way through the maze of detours.  It is those crazy random thoughts on a good day which make some think, I’m okay!
What happens to the thoughts and memories which don’t find a place to call home?  Do they just keep rattling around forever?  It’s such a weird feeling to know the words or the things I’m trying to remember are there somewhere…. stuck so they can’t seem to connect with my tongue.  Therapists wanted to call it selective memory or that I am repressing bad things.  What about the good memories?
I know I frustrate people from time to time with my long pauses, lack of complex vocabulary and not remembering things.  I frustrate myself.  I used to be able to multi-task, juggling lots of things and remember clearly important events (as well as random nonsense) in my life.  Most memories of my childhood seemed to be missing after my addiction so I adjusted or at least I thought I had.  I always said I probably burnt out more brain cells than I thought during my many years of using drugs.  Then along came the MS.   Only recently have they determined loss of memory can be a key factor in the diagnosis of MS so were the gaps in memory addiction or MS.  Guess we will never know…
I struggle to remember things when talking to my old HS classmates. I struggle to remember growing up.  I struggle to remember the birth of my daughter.  I struggle to remember the work and people I met doing social work for 20 plus years.  I struggle to remember my wedding.  I struggle to remember my accomplishments even looking at pictures or plaques seem like someone else.  I struggle with my business to remember prints, products, fellow consultants and even customers/hostess who have been with me for my almost 8 years in business.
I struggle to remember time frames so it may have been weeks/months since I talked to you but to me, it may be less than a week.  Some days I can’t remember anything at all, then some days I remember bits and pieces.  When people tell me things I have said or done, it seems so foreign to me. Like it was a different person – a person I can’t identify with now.  The memories I do have take on a different picture than those of the people around me – some things have fallen into the potholes of my brain still trying to find a way out.
I’m thankful for the people who are patient with me.  I thankful for the ones who give me the space and time I need to piece things together even when I get things all mixed up.  I’m learning to say “ I’m collecting my thoughts” which is so true some days.  I’m learning to be honest and say “I don’t remember” of course the blank stare I give when people talk is often a clue.  I truly know what it’s like to sift through words, thoughts and ideas as I attempt to make sense of things.
But that’s my world now…a jumbled up 3-dimensional word search game. The bad thing about it is someone keeps switching the game board and jumbling up all the words. I feel like they see I have made progress with my puzzle and then come along mixing up all of the pieces.  Just when I think I have things solved, BAM…there’s a new arrangement of letters, pieces and words to sort through.
Today’s blog was a rambling jumble of thoughts as I come to terms with living life with MS.  There are days I try to act like it isn’t there – things are normal (whatever that may be).  There are days when I am unable to move because my muscles don’t know what to do.  There are days when I actually do remember, and can function as if the MS is only a blip on the radar.  Most days, I’m just trying to sift through a sea of letters and words in my brain searching for…what was it again? Pancakes? Trashcans? Envelopes?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

What is Your Addiction?

We are addicted to our thoughts.

We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.

In a recent blog entitled, “9 Addictions that 90% of Us Struggle With”, I was intrigued by how my addictive ways have transformed into other (non-obvious) areas of my life.

Almost every one of us is an addict.  I know, you are probably saying I am not a drug addict or an alcoholic, right?

Here are a few addictions which resonated with me, what about you?

1. COMPARING and COMPETING WITH EVERYONE ELSE.images

I will admit, this has been me for LONG time.  Just when I think I let it go, it pops up in another way in my life.  It used to be about “stuff”, then it was money and prestige, and when I started my own business, it was about whether or not I was “as good as” someone else in the company.

UGH!  It is so foolish to compare ourselves to everyone else, I mean we don’t know what their story.  When you stop comparing, you free yourself to accomplish what matters most to you. You may have to remind yourself time and again you don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is.

Instead of competing with others, how about competing with a previous version of yourself, so you become better. It’s as simple as that. You are not in competition with anybody except yourself; plan to outdo your past.

2. SECRETLY WISHING FOR EVERYONE’S STAMP OF APPROVAL.727fc1ebe7e510a479d45917c494accf

WOW!  I am a people pleaser – always was and work hard to not be one every day.  The truth is you don’t need anyone’s affection or approval, to be good enough in your own eyes.  When someone rejects or judges you, 99% of the time it isn’t actually about you. I know, hard to believe, right? It’s about their own insecurities, limitations, and needs and not their opinion of you.

Your worth is inherent. You are alive, and therefore you matter. You’re allowed to think things and feel things. You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space. You’re allowed to hold on to the truth you are worthy. And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who insists on making you feel otherwise.

3. BEING MORE LOVING TO OTHERS THAN WE ARE TO OURSELVES.

Believe it or not, life gets easier when you are your own best friend. I LOVE this line! There’s absolutely nothing selfish about self-care. If you don’t take good care of yourself then you can’t take good care of anyone else. Because we can’t give what we don’t have. Treat yourself right and you’ll be life-giving to others.

4. BELIEVING WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TO GIVE BACK.

You may not have it all, but you have more than enough so don’t be scared to share.

Generosity isn’t just to help others, it’s also to liberate you. Which is why you cannot live abundantly until you have done something nice for someone who can never repay you. Know this and live graciously. There is no exercise better for your heart and mind than reaching down and lifting people up.

5. DREAMING OF WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN, OR SHOULD HAVE BEEN.

Before you can truly LIVE today, a part of you has to die first. You have to let go and bury the shoulda, coulda, woulda of your life.  You can’t change a past experience, opinions of others, or outcomes from their choices or yours. Go ahead! Let go. Forgive. Be present and free.

If you are struggling with any of these things, you are not alone! Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly and leave a life free of ALL addictions. The bottom line is, it’s never too late to take a step in the right direction. It’s never too late to break free and become the person you are capable of being. Addictions of all kinds CAN be beaten!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Addiction Isn’t Just About Drugs and Alcohol

We are addicted to our thoughts.  We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.

I came across this quote in a recent blog and it made me think… I know scary thought, right?  The article went on to describe “9 Addictions that 90% of Us Struggle With“.  Being a recovering addict for 25 years, I was intrigued to see how my addictive ways have transformed into other (non-obvious) areas of my life.

Almost every one of us is an addict, and what we are addicted to is…  Here are a few that resonated with me, what about you?

1.  Comparing ourselves to everyone else, and then competing with them.

Let go of the foolish need to compare yourself to everyone else, and you’ll free yourself to accomplish what matters most to you.  Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.

Instead of competing with others, compete with a previous version of yourself, this way you will become better.  It’s as simple as that.  You are not in competition with anybody except yourself; plan to outdo your past not other people.

Incredible personal growth and learning occurs through relationships when the competitive spirit is replaced with a collaborative one.

2.  Secretly wishing for everyone’s stamp of approval.

You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough in your own eyes.When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, 99% of the time it isn’t actually about you.  It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize any of it.

Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you – it’s something inherent.  You are alive, and therefore you matter.  You’re allowed to think things and feel things.  You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space.  You’re allowed to hold on to the truth that who you are is worthy.  And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who insists on making you feel otherwise.

3.  Being more loving to others than we are to ourselves.

Life gets a lot easier when you are your own best friend.  I LOVE this line!  There’s absolutely nothing selfish about self-care.  If you don’t take good care of yourself then you can’t take good care of anyone else.  Because we can’t give what we don’t have.  Treat yourself right and you’ll be life-giving to others.

4.  Believing we don’t have enough to give back.

You don’t have it all, but you have more than enough.  Don’t be scared to share.

Generosity isn’t just to help others, it’s also to liberate you.  Which is why you cannot live abundantly until you have done something nice for someone who can never repay you.  Know this and live graciously.  There is no exercise better for your heart and mind than reaching down and lifting people up.

5.  Dreaming of what could have been, or should have been.

Before you can truly LIVE today, a part of you has to die first.  You have to let go and bury what could have been, how you should have responded and what you wish you would have done differently.  You can’t change a past experience, opinions of others at that moment in time, or outcomes from their choices or yours.  

Go ahead!  Let go.  Forgive.  Be present and free.  Today.

If you are struggling with any of these things, you are not along!  Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly and leave a life free of addiction.  The bottom line is that it’s never too late to take a step in the right direction.  It’s never too late to break free and become the person you are capable of being.  Addictions of all kinds CAN be beaten!

Thank you Marc & Angel for this great insight. Share with us what you struggle with and remember that you are never alone!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Random thoughts

Good Morning Everyone – today is one of those mornings when I don’t have much to say.  AMAZING, right?  LOL.  Just some random thoughts to clear my head.  

Words can’t describe the emotions that I had on Monday when I heard about the bombing in Boston at the marathon.  My thoughts quickly reverted to that dreadful morning on 9-11.  The day of the dreadful shooting on the Virginia Tech campus.  The days were similar.  No one was expecting anything this horrific to happen. Lives lost and lives changed forever.  These days brought me to tears of gratitude for the safety of my family and friends.  911 and the VT shootings could have had different impacts on my life as family and close friends were “too close for comfort” to the events of those days.

During times like these, I reflect on all of the blessings in my life.  Whether those blessings have come through trials or whether we see them as precious gifts – we have all been given them.  My blessings include my family – although we don’t see each other as often as I would like (life always gets in the way) they are always in my thoughts and prayers.  The people that God has placed in my life for sometimes just a moment, for a season or for a lifetime are a precious gift. The trials of my life include my battle with drugs, my bulimia, cancer that struck and took my grandfather, my Aunts – Edythe & Elsie and Alzheimer’s that took my grandmother all helped to shape me into the person that I am today.  The greatest blessing of all is my daughter, Belinda Heldreth and of course my hubby, Rob.  

What are your blessings?  Think about all of the things – good or bad – in your life that have helped to shape and guide you to where you are.  Hug the ones that you love and tell them that you love them.  Reach out to old friends when you are thinking about them instead of waiting for the “perfect moment”.  Life is short.  God has a plan for all of us and although we don’t know what it is, we need to savor every moment.  Take the good with the bad.  Turn it over to God and he will get you through it.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings… Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.