Addiction…I Understand the Struggle.

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I am definitely taking a raw plunge on this blog. I have gently touched on the subject of addiction many times but I think straightforwardness is in order because there  are so many vices, so little time and so many lives being wrecked.

This is from Larry Crabb’s book, Connecting. “God declares that there is no goodness in sex outside the boundaries of a loving relationship with a lifelong mate. When we believe Him and therefore are inclined to do what He says, obedience yields a joy that supports us in what ever frustration may exist. ”

Do you agree with that? I know that I have been spared pain and destruction when I have hidden myself in” the loving marriage relationship”, even when it has been a down right unloving relationship and even when it called for separation.

He goes on to write; “A man (or woman) has a difficult day of meetings and retires early to his hotel room. One press of the button (or call that call or that sext) and pornography will fill the screen.  He calls his wife, gets some work done, and then goes to sleep…never presses the button. The next day, meetings go well, that evening the urges come back, he yields.”

“What ever the complexity might be, it is clear that we are a strange mixture of good and bad urges and they can have a life of their own. With God’s Spirit we can love as Jesus did, but we can also sin like the devil..indwelling sin is a lifelong problem-indwelling goodness is a life long reality awaiting release.” (All wrapped up of course in Romans 7&8 )

“His personal problem is sex addiction. That man senses a voice that yearns to be filled but lacks the sense to realize that he longs for LOVE, not pleasure.” And that is where the wreckage happens. I know, I have experienced it first hand.

Is God’s love enough? That has been my question. That has been my adventure. That has been my pursuit. Can His love surpass anything this world or anyone else has to offer me? Can His love be so tangible and intimate that any other would pale? Is He that interested in my well being and future? Or is what seems a justifiable and reliable provision of pleasure/center of life/lust/control/addiction really soul satisfaction?

In the midst of my addiction behavior I could say; “I can live with out_______, I cannot live without God”- Even though nothing in my flesh wanted to let the addiction go. It is so easy to feel isolated when you are struggling or failing. I would look for anything on the internet that might help relate to me, a Christian woman caught in addictive behaviors. I did find an extremely helpful prayer that seemed to understand the snare and all of the anguish I had been caught in. But more times than not, most Christian articles related to addictions or failures left me feeling more demonized as the guilty party.  I needed to know there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that people had not only come out the other side, but that they were Alive!, Thriving! and were loved and used by God again! I want to be a light like that to someone who is where I have been!

You have to understand that I believe Jesus delivers!! That all power belongs to Him! That nothing is too difficult for Him! That He came to set the captive free, and had when I first came to Him, so why was I in bondage again? I had to understand why I would allow myself to come to such a low place and risk loosing my whole life as I knew it. During the search for that answer, I learned so much about myself and God.

These are the things and people He has used to reveal who I really am in Him and His love toward me. If you are caught in addiction, and really want freedom and health, these are the resources I highly recommend. First, Friends who see the greatness in you. I tightened my circle of friends and unfortunately had to cut off some really significant relationships that couldn’t be that for me (my husband being my best friend  and support  even while dealing with his own issues.) Any of Larry Crabb’s books…I think I have read and re read them all. Henry Cloud’s Changes that Heal and Robert McGee’s Search for Significance.  I had two amazing Licensed Marriage Family Therapists (which are the only  type of counselors that I recommend) who I still reach out to. Through a set of supernatural sequences, I got a hold of The Adulterous Christian Woman; The Lies that got me there, truths that brought me back by Lyndell Holtz, who has become one of my dearest friends since, and continues to be a radiant light ahead of me.  I also immersed myself in watching You Tube videos by Malcom Smith and Sylvia Pearce who’s life mission is to help Christians understand who they really are in Christ.

If I could have left my life and gone some where to figure it all out, I probably would have. But God has been so good to me to send me help while living my day to day life out and I believe He has given me grit and perseverance in the process.  Like I said before, I want to be a compassionate light leading some one else who is navigating their way out of the pit of addiction…I understand the struggle.

 

 

Remember to Keep Going!

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If you have been reading my blog, you know I have been on a personal journey the last few years. Through that time, my husband and I were separated and every thing in the fabric of my life seemed to be pulling apart.

The way we parented, or did not parent our youngest, autistic, son together, was a definite strain on our marriage. You have these imperfections in marriage and parenting, but you can slough them off easier, I think, with “typical” children. But these inconsistencies will glare in the face of a special needs child and cause you to grow together or apart.

So, as we came to the bottom of everything we thought we had, and I personally was in the lowest place a person could be- I relinquished control. I told God, if He cared about me, and about this Holy Union He named Marriage, He was going to have to make something out of broken pieces. It has been a painful process, dying to self usually is! For if we are going to make something beautiful out of broken, it has to be sorted out, cleaned out, rebuilt and it won’t happen with resistance.

In the process, I approach my children differently. I am approaching my special needs son slower. I am more conscious of my being just a “vessel”, and I can pour out love to him, or frustration. I am in his life (and everyone’s for that matter) to pour out love, power and a sound mind. This is a work of The Holy Spirit- I do not have this kind of supernatural-ness!

Last night he asked me to pray for him and read the Bible to him, he was troubled in his mind. I was so blessed that he would even ask me to do that! At one point, he started kissing my hand, I asked him why he was doing that and he said; “your awesome”. Taken aback, I asked, “why?” He said; “because you are trying to help me!” How beautiful, how simple, how divine.

I was reminded of my friend buying me this Keep Going mug and how I would use it every morning and read it’s truth. When you  bottom out in life, it is not the time to quit and give up! It is the time to ask for supernatural help and run with endurance. There are Always second, third, tenth, hundredth chances. God NEVER gives up on you! Even if others do, and they will, you are there to be awesome for some one else. Keep Going- I am right here with you cheering you on!!

One Thing I Do…

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This picture was taken at one of my favorite parks in Pennsylvania, during an anniversary weekend with my husband this past fall. The picture paints a thousand words in my mind.

It was a significant weekend for us, because we had been separated prior to this trip. When we went there the year before, we did not think we would ever return there as a couple, and I did not even want to take any pictures to document our time there.

We have been through a lot in the last several years. Many things had taken a toll on our marriage and we both reached points where we really didn’t want to work at it any more.

When you are weak and tired and other seemingly exciting opportunities present themselves to you, it is almost impossible to resist (but it is not impossible). I made a lot of poor decisions during that flat time in our marriage.The ramifications could have been so much worse, but the consequences will never go away. I can only thank and praise God for His mercy and unfailing love to me.

When I look at this picture of the road in the woods, I can’t help but think of the words of Dan Fogelberg’s song, “Along the Road”:

Along the road
Your steps may tumble
Your thoughts may start to stray
But through it all a heart held humble
Levels and lights your way.

The Bible calls God’s Word “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” This is true, and this is how I got back onto the road.

Another exceptional truth is that, as long as we are looking back when we are trying to move forward, we will stumble. The apostle Paul had something transforming to say about this.

He was born a Roman and a Hebrew. Both those qualities gave him many rights, much authority and power. He lived during the time when the Christian church was just emerging, and by Jewish and civil law, he was zealous in the murders of people following Jesus. He then had a life-changing encounter with Christ and began to defend the faith. He now had great understanding and knowledge concerning both sides of the argument. He also had great understanding of forgiveness and mercy, and most Christians would look at him as a man who had “attained it” who had “made it,” who “got this”.

However, he saw it differently. In his letter to the Philippian church, he said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected … I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Phil 3:13 NKJV).

One thing I do: forget what is behind and reach for those things that are ahead! This is easier said than done. It is not easy to forget what you have done, especially when it has caused a great disturbance, not just in your life but in the lives of others as well. I think it is human nature to wallow in self-condemnation until we feel we’ve reached a sufficient penance. And some religions teach this. But this is not the way God deals with us; that is the way we humans deal with ourselves.

God is instantaneous in His forgiveness when we ask. God, through Jesus Christ, answers us with “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more” (John 8:11), “Though you sins are as scarlet, They shall be as white as snow”( Is. 1:18), “If he sins against you seven times in a day, and … returns to you, saying, ‘I repent’, you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:4), “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9).

God is outlandish and lavish in His forgiveness toward us, as proved through Jesus’ death on the cross!

This amazing forgiveness is what I have been experiencing both personally and with my husband. It is not from this world. It is supernatural! Forgiveness is a beautiful, precious gift, and it’s Christianity’s pinnacle!

When doubts and thoughts clamor at the door of your mind, deal with them! Have you asked God to forgive you, or do you just keep thinking about them? If you haven’t asked for forgiveness, do it now. If you have, meditate on the scriptures I listed above and look up more of them. I don’t know anyone who does not need to hear this good news! I hope it has been challenging and renewing to you today.

What are your thoughts on forgetting what is behind?  We want to hear from you today!

My Search For Significance 2

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I told you last week I wanted to do a series on my journey through the last year. Last year at this time I had come clean with  a gigantic failure. Now my failure was noticeable to others. We all have failures, but they are not all noticeable to others. My  husband  and I had many failures that lead up to my “huge” failure and they mostly went unnoticed to others but were destroying my wholeness, our marriage and our family.

Noticeable failure, I have found, can bring enormous amounts of guilt and shame. The shame wants to suffocate you. It wants to keep you in a bondage not unlike the one you just came out of. It took an amazing amount of mental assent to the truth, like non-stop 24/7 self- talk, filling my mind with the truth. I took about 3 months off, as much as I could, just to fill my mind with the truth. Any little rejection from any person would throw me right back into a pit, so I was very self-guarded and did not go out very often. I was acutely aware that I couldn’t stay in that place of hiding, so I was cautious but I also needed to be safe in the loving arms of Jesus to be restored.

Christine Caine said; “shame always wants to re capture you at the point (where you still see baggage dragging) and wants to take you hostage.” I wrote that quote along with now hundreds of quotes and scripture onto art paper and started “postering” our home with them. I would walk around and read them out loud! I was most literally “Not conforming  to this world  but being transformed by the renewing of my mind.” Romans 12:2

I do not know how a person could get out of destructive habits any other way. I do not know how you could mix “a little bit of truth” in with a world that is swallowing it up faster than you can take it in and be transformed. I think that is why it says; “do not conform to the world.” All those “little failures” I spoke of earlier, were seemingly small. Ever so slightly, I was getting loose with my boundaries. They did not start as big leaps into uncharted territory. Mary Kassian says “it comes by creeps, not leaps” and that is So very true! Conforming to the world, it’s desires, it’s pleasure…the “I deserve it” mentality wraps itself around you and the tune turns up the volume in your mind until you are singing along. Breaking these habits takes radical, violent action- it will not happen passively.

I spent another 3-6 months testing the waters of the outside world with my new legs and a growing inner strength. That would only come after significant time reading the Bible, praying and singing. I have taken up the guitar in the last few years and it has been a comfort to me as well as a positive challenge. As I said in my last blog I would repeat these truths; “Julia, you are deeply loved, completely forgiven, totally accepted and fully pleasing to God.” (Search for Significance). One day, after a dear friend read John 8 to me, it was as if I was there with Jesus and He was saying to me, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more- I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Jesus, the savior of the world, told me “neither do I condemn you.”, I couldn’t have a higher authority than that and I continue to keep my eyes completely focused on Him.

I am personally aware how our destructive behaviors can really damage others and I have lamented over these. I first had to walk along side my husband ,who I have hurt the most and who has had supernatural love toward me, so I have seen the pain I have caused first hand. I am not minimizing this aspect of failure at all, but when it comes down to it, all that a person can do is ask for forgiveness and pray fervently that God uses it all for good. I am unable to be responsible for how other people choose to respond but I do hold it close and pray every day for reconciliation in every relationship.

If we keep listening to shame in our failures, no matter “how big or how small”, they will remind us how long we have been carrying them and tell us “you will never be rid of this.” But God wants us to be FREE, He came to set us free from this world and to live with Him and have life more abundantly. He is cheering us on and giving us the strength to “run the race with endurance.” Hebrews 12:1

Believing this is all true, is radical! I have been on this journey and I want to encourage you on yours. My hope is that I reach a light to those struggling in a similar situation and walk the path with you so you are not alone. ❤

My Search for Significance.

search-for-significance-1-05I am going to be doing a series of  blogs writing about the journey I have been on over the last year.  I called it My Search for Significance, taken from the book Search for Significance by Robert McGee, because it was a pinnacle book on my journey. It may not be a consecutive series, but it will be one none the less!

Last year at this time, my marriage, that had previously hit rock bottom was beginning to grow some new life in it. It looked like this;20160922_080045

OK, it looked like this without the flower…the flower is still forming. But through the rock,  despite the elements, against all odds, there was some life that started…as fragile as that spindly root, but there was definite life forming! On the outside, many people had no idea what was taking place on the inside of our family. A few close friends new the ongoing obstacles and trials we faced, but most people, I suspect, thought we were a pretty amazing family. (And we are- praise to God and not to my “Plastic Christian Face;-)

At this point we were separated. It was a Controlled Separation with the help of our Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (we have done a Lot of counseling in 25 years, this is the only kind of counseling I can whole hardheartedly recommend.) I had made a choice at the beginning of the year to face what ever it was that I had to face, to not look for greener grass and to deal with things that I can see now I was trying to escape.

I started reading Search for Significance before this point and it was an extremely important  part of the puzzle for me in my metamorphosis. When I was challenged with the questions of where I find my significance, I found that I really had my significance wrapped titles much more than I realized. For many years I had been  A Good Christian Wife , I was a Hard Working Home-Schooling Mom,  A Worship Leader, A Youth Leader. I went to church every Sunday, I went to Bible Study, I helped whenever I could. Although these are all great and noble characteristics and lead to a level of life and peace,those are things that I did not who I was.

I was digging deep. Who was I and why was my life in such disarray after all of these years of “faithful service.” Well, those are complex questions, and there are a lot of complex answers, but the basis of Search for Significance definitely was my base from which to work off of and continues to be daily;

  1. I am deeply loved
  2. I am forgiven
  3. I am accepted
  4. I am fully pleasing …To God.

I had to understand the importance of this and begin to believe it before I could move forward with in myself, let alone any other relationship.Nothing or Nobody is going to change these truths! Every time I face insecurity I say these things to myself. This is where my significance comes from. Not in what I do, or how well I perform, but in this knowledge. I wrote it on a piece of art paper and taped it to my wall and I said it several times a day. I began to tell it to my children, I began to tell it to my husband and who ever else would receive it from me. I have wrestled with each line of this and have been able to say a truthful, “Yes” to each one.

Just like the above picture, my hard heart started to crack and a gleam of light entered and stirred a system that was there waiting for this photosynthesis! That realization gave me the solid ground I needed to continue in the journey, even if I have stumbled on it.

I wonder if you can relate to, or have been encouraged or challenged by any of my story? I would love to hear from you today. Have a great Monday! Have a great week:-)

 

Forgive…..

forgivenessDr. Jesse Gill says; “Forgiveness is the substance of very strong people.”….Wow! That catches my attention because, I desire to be a strong person in a vulnerable kind of way. Now, I do not always want to forgive quickly, but I know that I must forgive to have freedom for my self and to have relationship with others.

In his relationship book, Face to Face, Dr. Jesse Gill offers some other helpful insights regarding forgiveness and intimacy in relationships. “God is so invested in having your spouse know His love that He wants to strengthen you in the toughest moments to be His arms of embrace stretched out to your spouse. There is no clearer illustration of this than the moments we do not feel like showing love.” Isn’t that true? That is so true in every relationship and those statements really encourage me to express that. Now, we cannot always control how others will or will not respond to that “stretching out”, but as far as it depends on us, we can be that to others.

Ultimately, we must “put on love” as Paul says in Colossians 3:14 which is ”
the bond of perfection.” We must put on love and forgive quickly and often-It is an active thing to do.

I often wonder if my readers wonder why I talk about relationships so much when this is an aromatherapy blog?! Well, it is also a Holistic Health blog, and our heart and attitude have more to do with health than what we put on or inside our body. But just in case you are curious about some new Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, I will make sure to highlight some this week! Have a great week enjoying what ever schedule you find your self in, and be active and forgive!!

We are right here with you and we want to hear from you today:-)