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!

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!

How Do You Unplug?

why unplug

Today I am sitting at Jersey Shore Medical Center waiting patiently (ok maybe not) for hubby to have his procedure and head to a room.  I was in this same spot 7+ years ago.  The only difference is, this time is a battery replacement which they say is a simple procedure.  I know, what does this have to do with being unplugged right?  Well, I might be more plugged in today to pass the time but as soon as he is out of surgery, I am unplugging.

When was the last time you totally UNPLUGGED from technology?  A scary thought, right?  I used to think it was impossible.  I have my own business and I rely on social media and technology for a large portion of it.  What happens if……?

A million reasons run through your mind as to why you should NOT unplug, right?  What did we do BEFORE technology took over our lives.  I used to call people until I got someone on the phone or if they had a machine, I left a voice mail.  The truth is business survived and thrived, right?

The last time I totally unplugged was on our cruise in 2011.  By totally, I mean no cell phone or internet.  No communication with anyone who wasn’t on the trip.  After the first 24 hours (always the roughest), I actually didn’t think about technology.  I enjoyed the trip and the people around me..

I haven’t totally unplugged for a long time, I have changed the way I look at technology and its effect on my life.  My obsession with my phone is a habit I developed during my relapse – a way to escape and turn off the people around me.  Did I know it then?  NOPE!  I justified it in a million different ways.  Now, I struggle with putting down the iPad.  LOL.  I started during puzzles and word games to help with my cognitive issues with my MS but it isn’t long before I am moving into scrolling Facebook or checking email.

What effect does technology have on your life?  I bet A LOT of the requests for your time, your money, and your energy come to you digitally, right?  Probably mostly via email as well as messages on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking sites.  And it is stressing you out. It’s distracting. And worst of all you suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).  I know I am not alone in this.  I have always said “there is no PURSE (substitute your product/company/business) emergency”.  So it was time I finally practiced what I preached.

Yes, I used to check email in the middle of networking meetings; while stopped at red lights; in the middle of dinner with my family; and as soon as my eyes popped open in the morning.  I used to hate to have any notifications showing on my phone. Yup, all part of the obsessive/compulsive life.

I was afraid. Afraid of missing out:on booking a party or the next big potential customer or potential team member; or maybe someone on my team had a question. I was afraid of just not being “in the know” or worse yet, them going elsewhere. Crazy, right?  The truth was (and still is some days) is I didn’t like myself enough to spend time with me so why would anyone else want to.  A harsh reality which has come from recovery.  As a result, I buried myself in social media where I could be who I wanted others to see – sometimes not letting them see the real me.

If you are in direct sales, thing about it…. who would want to join your team if we are  always accessible?  If your obsession is just with everyone else’s life, maybe unplug to spend some time exploring yourself and the beauty around you. Here are some tips for unplugging and re-claiming your life.

unplugfromtech-1024x1005

#1 – I removed all notifications from my phone – the apps are still there but the only notifications I get are text messages.  My family does a lot of texting so it is a good way to connect with them long distance.

#2 – My phone is usually on “do not disturb except for my favorites”.  This keeps me focused on enjoying time with those I am with instead of grabbing the phone every time it rings.

#2 – I start my morning with devotions and a smoothie – social media comes later.

#3 – I don’t have multiple tabs open on my computer.  I try (sometimes I don’t succeed) in only checking email and social media periodically.  I actually am more productive.

What do you do to #UNPLUG?

Have a blessed day!

 

Thankful Thursday: Acceptance

How well do you accept things – mainly change?  Do you adjust quickly or do you fight it all the way?   Do you embrace change or close your eyes ignoring it is happening?

Since my health issues started in 2012, it has been a roller coaster ride of acceptance.  When the diagnosis of MS  finally came in 2017 I realized it would be physically challenging, emotionally draining, and around-the-clock exhausting with some extremely lonely times. The truth is for those who don’t have it, you can’t understand the challenges or how it is different in each person.  On the surface, I accepted things.  Those closest to me saw the struggles but I was still living a kind of denial.

I had been having a run of good days – when there is no brain fog, moving okay just a little slow and making it through most of the day before I was totally drained.  Then there are the days which take an extraordinary amount of effort to complete even a simple task. Try going through a day not knowing if you will be able to manage another moment of fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, dropping anything you get your hands on, and feeling as if you don’t have the strength to hold it together for one more second.  I accepted these minor challenges too… or at least I thought I did.

When I started my journey again working through my addiction, I realized I have never really accepted my MS diagnosis.  Why was accepting I’m an addict so much easier than accepting I have MS.   On most days I admit to those around me the limitations I have especially with memory as a result of my MS. Acceptance, right?  Then,  I came across this definition of acceptance in an NA reading.  “Acceptance is an opening of your heart to the realities of life and to the ways in which you have been impacted by your life choices. It means you don’t fight against the realities of your life, but accept them for what they are and use them to grow as a person and move forward in life. Accepting life on life’s terms.  Accepting the things you can not change while you focus on the things you can“. The truth is, I have not truly accepted my MS diagnosis.

Last week, I was told by disability “you are not considered disabled”.  One of their reasons was “you can use your arms and hands so basically go to work” and instead of getting angry, I started to wonder if they were right.  Then I was told by the physical therapist, I had flunked the balance test!  She said “you are a fall risk and need to have a cane with you”.  SMACK!  She had me pegged though, she said “you still think of yourself as an independent woman who can take care of everyone else”.  It took both of these things to make be realize I was still fighting the realities of my life.  I continue to fight the things I can’t change instead of focusing on the things I can change.  I can’t change I’m a 62 year old woman who struggles most days with MS both physically and mentally.  What I can change is the way I decide to handle things………working on eating healthier, getting sleep, getting up and moving when I feel up to it instead of just sitting around then resting when my body says it is time.

Now, your struggle with acceptance could be much different.  The difficulties you face may be different from mine, but I am convinced there is someone, somewhere in the world who is going through the same overwhelming moments as you. Just because you don’t hear about them or know them personally doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Believe me, I have been there.

Whatever your challenge, it’s okay to feel like you’re falling apart.  Eventually things will get better and you will find new ways of coping with all the changes happening in your life. I can guarantee it, but in the moment or in the heat of the battle it may not seem like it’s even possible.  I know, I am there fighting the battle of acceptance right now – with you.

It’s okay to ask for help.  I’m grateful for the rooms of NA where I can dump my stuff on the floor and walk away feeling a little less like a hot mess.  Find someone you can talk with about ways to help you manage your emotional chaos.  There is still hope for a better tomorrow whatever your challenge may be. I believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.

When all else fails, repeat the Serenity Prayer and wait for an answer.  Of course waiting for an answer is not one of my strong points.  Answers will always come but they may not be in a way we expect them or it may not be the answer we want….. expectations is a whole other topic.  LOL.

So, just for today, focus on the things you can change.  Accept life on life’s terms and count your blessings.

Have a blessed day!