When You Don’t Want to Go Back to the Way You Were

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s  message:

I just got my braces off…again.

I have had braces on my upper teeth three times. Count them. One. Two. Three.

As the orthodontist explained, “Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

As soon as he said those words, I felt convicted. I have a tendency to go back to the way I was.

We all do.

Karen (not her real name) admitted to single handedly destroying her marriage with passive aggressive coldness, destructive words, and disrespect of the worst kind. After her husband walked away from the marriage, she had a Holy Spirit moment and realized what she had done. Karen’s heart softened and she vowed never be that woman again.

She immersed herself in Bible study and began to pray for her ex-husband even though the marriage was over. Karen took on the beautiful holy glow of a woman who knew she was totally forgiven and completely loved by God. Miraculously, her ex-husband saw the change, and the marriage was restored!

However, after a few years, the destructive behavior began to creep back in.

A word here.

A cold shoulder there.

A retreating into self for weeks at a time.

Ten years after the miraculous restoration, the marriage crashed and burned.

“Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

Jesus saw this tendency to fall into old ways when He cleaned out the temple. In the beginning of his ministry, after his first miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana, He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

“In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle, he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.’” (John 2:14-16 NIV)

Three years later, during his last week of life on earth, Jesus came upon the unholy mess again.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13 NIV).

How did the corruption happen the second time?I don’t think it happened all at once. After Jesus cleared out the temple initially, I suspect it stayed that way for a time. But one day, a money changer set up his table. Then another brought in a few birds, followed by a couple of sheep, and then here came a cow.

The next thing you know, the temple wasn’t any different than it was before Jesus cleared it out and cleaned it up three years earlier. In three years it had reverted back to an unholy mess.

And God whispers in my ear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).

Sometimes I am that messy temple.

Swept-clean sinful behavior, ungodly thoughts, and jump-off-the-cliff emotions are itching to creep back in at all times. It is up to me (and to you) to keep the temple clean.

Perhaps you’ve had a Holy Spirit moment at some point in your life—a moment that caused you to make a major lifestyle change.

But for the moment to maintain momentum, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert…to go back to the way we were.

I am so thankful that Jesus went back to clean out the temple a second time. It lets me know that He will graciously return to my messy self again and again with broom in hand.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to the way I was.If you’re willing to take a few moments and ask God if there is something you’ve allowed to creep back in, join me in praying Psalm 51 in the prayer below.

Then leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it today!”

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Being Stuck

I’m sure you are wondering WHY would anyone be thankful for being stuck, right?  I read a great blog post from my friend, Deana which got me to thinking.  I know, scary, right?

Think about it…. when was the last time you were stuck? Maybe you were reaching for a goal and just couldn’t seem to push past a block?   Maybe you were waiting for an answer from God and it just wasn’t coming in YOUR time?  Maybe you just weren’t making progress as fast as you would like?

Whatever it was, it didn’t feel good right?  It was frustrating, right?  You just wanted to move forward and no matter how hard you tried it just wasn’t happening.  Well, Deana says “being stuck is an indicator or a symptom that you need to grow“.  YIKES!  So basically being stuck your comfort zone?  If it is, then how many of us truly want to step out of our comfort zones?  I know when I get comfortable, I like to stay there and even wish it could be forever.

For many years I was stuck….. financially and spiritually.  I wanted to climb out of the mess but it just wasn’t happening.  WHY?  Because I wasn’t ready to take the steps necessary to make it happen.  When I walked back into the rooms, faced my relapse and asked for help – growth started AGAIN.  You may not be an addict and in need of a 12-step program, BUT you may be stuck or comfortable unable to move forward in your life.

Deana says we get stuck in 4 different areas which effect our lives.  They are:

Finances – the thing that propels you toward or prevents you from doing the things you want to do for yourself and even others.

Faith – the truth that we cling to when all the chips are down. Our actions are the result of our beliefs.

Fuel – the igniter to your soul. If your soul had a face, this would make it smile.

Family/Friends – the relationships we have, have to have, want to keep and those we don’t.

Being stuck helped me to resolve some financial issues and restored my faith.  I have developed new friendships and am mending relationships with family.  The one area I am still STUCK in is FUEL.  Some days I have it and then there are some days, I wonder what it is.

The one thing which ignites my soul (besides my family and friends) is my angels.  Creating them from different things.  I can see an angel in the making in just about everything.  Sharing angels with others.  Hearing the stories/ memories of other’s angels.  I take baby steps forward in my business and then fear kicks in.  I play the comparison game and think “it will never be more than a hobby” so I get stuck being comfortable – not taking chances or stepping out.

The reality is I (and I’m sure many) focus on the BIG picture which is our end goal.  When we should be focusing on the next small step…..If we repeat the same small step or at least one small step a day, we wouldn’t be stuck, right?  Better yet, we would be closer to our end goal.  .

So for me, today I will be thankful I am stuck and for the realization it is just a symptom of my fear.  Fear to step out of my comfort zone.  Fear to make a change.  Fear of failure.  Fear of loss of income.  Yup, there are lots of fears BUT when I take one small step…… like reaching out to those who have expressed an interest in buying some angels, it doesn’t seem to overwhelming.

As Deana says “Growing past our comfort zones is never easy, but always worth it!”  How will you grow out of your comfort zone and get UNSTUCK?

Have a blessed day!

The Power of Confession

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

When he got in the car, he kept his head down, looked away, and muttered some words. Not hearing him outright, I said, “Son, what is it?”

He muttered, “I made a mistake. I looked at someone’s paperwork at school and copied their answer. I didn’t tell my teacher, but I told God ‘I’m sorry’. I will never do it again.”

I conveyed to him that he did right thing by confessing to God and deciding to change. God forgives. God keeps no records of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). Our sins are cast into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)

Jesus takes away the burden of sin, when – through confession – we allow him to do so.

But, later that night (and I mean way-late), I felt a finger-poke in my side.

There he was, standing there, fretting, and worried. He cried, “Mommy, I have to text my teacher now. I feel so guilty. I want this off of my back.”

And, he did. The next morning, he wrote her a text essentially saying he was sorry. That he didn’t want to carry this anymore. That he needs to feel better.

And, after he pressed send, I was amazed. The transformation was huge. He went from being down and dejected to dancing and jubilant. He jumped around the house rejoicing and full of new life.

This is a picture of repentance. When we let go of the guilt, we carry to receive the blessing of the cross that Jesus carried – we always find new life.

Part of the process is forgiving our self. Have you forgiven yourself for the wrongs, the guilt, or the burdens that weigh you down? If Jesus forgave you, can’t you forgive yourself too? If Jesus paid the ultimate price, hasn’t he fully purchased all your mistakes?

If you’ve confessed your sins to God, but still don’t feel life, you might consider doing these three things:

1. Confessing to any other people involved, as God leads you.

2. Letting go internally. This means you release the guilt, shame and burdens to Jesus from within you and receive his gift of forgiveness, once and for all.

3. Choosing not to dwell any more on what issue God has already set you free from.

I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face after he got that burden “off his back.” We can do the same today. Freedom is right on the other side of asking for and receiving forgiveness.

Have a blessed day!

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!

Thankful Thursday: Be Yourself

Life in recovery with MS has been a struggle.  I have learned some hard lessons.  Through it all, the theme of “be yourself” keeps coming up.  I know I’m not alone when it comes to struggling with saying what you mean, doing what you love, or relaxing around certain people, right?  I usually blame it on the MS and brain fog but the truth is some days I am not feeling confident and comfortable with being me.  I have been digging  a little deeper lately through working the steps in NA and starting to accept me for me!   The steps help me  to uncover another layer of authenticity, and free myself to be unapologetically me..

Not being you is exhausting!   Did you ever consider the amount of energy it takes to keep up appearances, attempting to be perfect (like it will happen), pleasing other people (is it possible?), and trying to make yourself fit into situations which simply aren’t you? When we say “be yourself”, some of us even wonder what it means.  I honestly am not sure I even knew myself for many years.  I had a glimpse of me during my first go around at recovery and then it got lost in all of the “stuff” I got back as a result of my recovery.

Here are three practical strategies to help you maximize your best you:

1. Say what you need to say.

Do you beat around the bush figuring people will know what you mean when you say something?  Are you too afraid to speak up afraid of what others will think? Have you found yourself telling a little lie to avoid the embarrassment of telling the truth?  These are clear signs you are not being true to yourself.  This hit me like a brick – SMACK!  Try this simple exercise:  Identify one situation when you have not said what you need to say.   You know, you beat around the bush in the hopes someone understood.  Got the situation?  I want to you go to the person and just say it flat out.  If you can’t do it right now, mark it on your calendar to do it.  There was a time when I had no filters.  I said what I needed to say and didn’t worry about what people thought.  Early in my first recovery, I was eager to say what I was thinking and I didn’t worry about what people thought.  Over the years, things started changing.  Those old habits came back and I started the “people pleasing game again”.  We are as sick as our secrets, no matter how small those secrets are.  Authenticity means being forthright. Don’t waste your precious energy pretending all is well when it isn’t.  Take the word “FINE” out of your vocabulary.  Don’t let FEAR keep you in hiding!

2. Do what you know is right.

There is nothing more authentic than living your values. When your actions don’t line up with your beliefs, inner turmoil is sure to follow.  Do you actually know what your core values are? 

3. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Okay, this is a tough one for me!  The truth is when we are uncomfortable in our own skin, it is usually because we haven’t given ourselves permission to be human.  In other words, we haven’t given ourselves permission to be imperfect.  We always want things to be perfect.  The perfect weight, the perfect size, the perfect family, the perfect house… it is all part of the “I will be happy when” syndrome.  When you relax, you enjoy yourself more. It is time we value the journey as much, if not more than, the destination.  There will be bumps along the road – embrace them.  Climb over them and keep moving forward, they don’t have to keep you from reaching your purpose (or your goals).

What situations cause you to not be yourself?  What are you afraid will happen if you show people the real you?

Today, I will accept my weight where it is knowing I am eating healthier and NOT gaining weight.  I will accept my limitations because of my MS and will not longer hid what I can’t do.  I will accept my business is my business and will not play the comparison game.

I am stomping out the inner gremlins and being true to me…. what about you?

Have a blessed day!