Keeping Up With The Joneses

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Looking back, I can remember the moment it happened. It was when my husband scratched and tore the linoliumn by our front door when removing our old refrigerator. I remember thinking that I would throw a rug over the scratch and that would be that. But he knelt down to further examine the scratch, he picked at it and started pulling and ripping big strips of it up! I was shocked. I kept telling him to stop, but he kept on. It revealed there was minor water damage underneath and the linoleum job wasn’t done right anyhow. “We’ll get ceramic tile put down here,” He said.

From that moment on, I started to look around our home. The floors needed done. But the walls have to be done before the floors. And look at that light fixture in the kitchen. Must be as old as I am. I remember, walking into other homes, looking around (I’m nosey by nature) comparing what they have done to what we have done. I would always leave their homes feeling inadequate or above, depending on how I was able to compare the two.

Isn’t that what they mean when they say keeping up with the joneses? Comparison. We are so good at it. All of us. We’ve all done it. If not with material things, then with other’s spouse or marriages. Or have you ever compared your children? Comparing can get us into alot of trouble, like with me and my house problem. I was able to completely stress my husband out with an out of the blue to-do list.

I think this comparing that crept up on me a year ago, is a spirit of envy. A way for the deceiver of this world to keep us looking horizontally instead of vertically. The Lord isn’t up there wondering why I didn’t buy name brand shoes, or why my kitchen floor is way outdated. He’s looking at me, cheering me on, speaking gently at times, reminding me to be the me I can be by my worship, prayer and praise.

So when you pull up to the stoplight today and you see someone driving your dream car (we all have one) just remember; it’s not what you drive, have or buy today that matters. It’s who we are and what we do for our Lord that’s going to count on the day of judgement.

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Mama Ears

1527593820648830189931.jpg“MOMMY!” I sit up in bed. I hear the fan that I use to sleep with. I hear the rustling of my covers as I quickly swing my feet over the side of my bed. I hear my foot steps pounding the floor as I run to my girls’ bedroom across from my room. I poke my head in and….they are both fast asleep! There is no evidence that either one has moved an inch, let alone spoken a word. I know I heard one of them call me clear as day. It woke me right out of my sleep.

I get out of my car, so do both of my litte ones. There’s the usual chatter from all three of us as we’re moving about, when all of the sudden a child’s cry pierces the air. I stop talking and I take inventory. Ok whew, the child’s cry wasn’t coming from one of mine.

I am having a conversation with another adult in a crowd. My hearing has been going bad for years now and hearing others while in a crowd is a struggle at times for me.  But I can always hear my daughter’s voice saying, “Mommy” as she’s tapping on my hip and leg. I can no longer hear what the adult I’m talking to is saying. I can only zero in on the consistent tapping and calling of my name. I must stop, bend down and listen to my daughter’s request. Many would say to tell her she needs to wait her turn, but for me it’s not going to work because my child needs me. She’s not going to stop tapping me and calling my name. Somethimg is important to her. I must hear her.

This is how our Lord is with our prayers. He hears our heart’s cry, even when we don’t speak a word. He hears our constant tapping and calling His name. And if a mama can hear her child in a crowd. And if a mama can hear child’s voice, even when her child doesn’t speak; how much more can the Almighty hear us!! He is that mother with mama ears, always tuning in to the sounds we make.

P.S….As I was writing this, I read a fellow blogger’s post today about how those hurt by their earthly parents can look at the Lord in a new light, helping them to form at closer bond with God. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so go to Jesusluvsall

 

Addiction: Inside The Addict’s Recovery

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There are many appoaches to addiction recovery. Depending on the addiction, the approach is different. Sex and porn adiction are probably treated with much counseling and mindfulness therapy. (Just a guess). Some pain killer (opioid) addiction can be treated with other drugs like suboxone and methadone. There’s the inevitable 12 step programs, the outpatient, partial-hospitalization and inpatient programs. I have no experience with any of these except a short stint with the methadone clinic.

But I do know recovery. I have experienced cravings and set-backs, failures and victories. Jesus took addiction out of my life. And if I could tell you exactly how He did it, I would. I don’t know aside from Him gradually doing a healing work in me. Looking back I would say He needed in me a desire for change and a little bit of obedience. Obedience wasn’t something I readily gave, since I was living the way I wanted and doing what I wanted. Feeding my flesh.

I said all of that to say this. Recovery is hard. No matter what approach your loved one or you yourself are taking. Each day in the beginning stinks. It’s hard. Your mind is in chaos. You’re arguing with yourself over one ciggerette, or one tiny pill. “It’s just one drink to take the edge off. It’s beer not wine. I’m not addicted to beer, just wine.” Yes, the silly things we can tell ourselves to give our flesh what it wants.

As the hours turn into days, life gets harder because all of the daily activities of your life are now done sober. Take the things you did each day that you didn’t like to do. When you did them while you were high, they didn’t seem so bad. You may even have enjoyed them. For me it was: housework, dishes, laundry, and cooking. I would be busy cleaning and cooking away with a false sense of energy and satisfaction. But now that you’re sober, you have responsibilities that have to get done, but the energy and satisfaction are gone.

Many recovering addicts have little strength or gumption to get busy and stay busy. Don’t get me wrong as each one of us are wired different and some may need to dig into work of some sort and push through. This was my husband’s approach. For me it was the opposite, as I needed time to heal and rest. My mind was exhausted from the daily battle going on in my mind and body.

With being on opioids, which for me kept me wired and pepped up, I used them every day. So every part of my life had opioids in it. It’s not easy to go from full throttle to nothing. So if you are helping someone or live with someone who is going through recovery, give them some time to learn to enjoy life again. Try not to put too many expectations on them, but keep them accountable to their responsibilities. You may not see and they may not tell you, but there’s a constant war going on inside. And those moments of cravings and trying to reason using is tough for them.

I remember how the last few years of my addiction I would walk with my head down, not in shame, but in search of a pill I may have dropped here or there. It was a constant thing I did, a ritual, if you will. I also would go through my clothes, pockets and purses searching for the left behind pill. In all those times of searching I would “get lucky” one time and find a baggie of vicodin (my drug of choice) on the the ground in a parking lot. I did take them and thought I won some kind of lottery. Looking back, I cringe at the thought! After becoming clean, I would still visually scan the floors and ground wherever I was going for a good year or two. This shows that the habits formed in the taking of drugs/substances don’t just go away when a person stops the drug.

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We must remember these things when helping an addicted loved one. We must remind ourselves that they need our grace and gentle prodding and acceptance. And of course most of all, they need Jesus to walk along beside them, loving and transforming them.

Shame Shades

1527345314883-580641137.jpgI post alot about shame because I have recently been freed of it and the things I learned about it are so valuable. Becoming free of shame is what caused me to have the courage to start a blog. The freedom I now feel has given me a confidence I’ve never known. The steps I took to get freed from shame are found here…What’s In Your Suitcase?

By no means does this mean that I don’t still feel that old shame creeping back up. There are still times that it tries to speak to me. How does shame speak to me? Well I’ll try to explain what I was taught on it, with an anology.

Imagine today is the day you are going to go outside and take some awesome pictures. But when you step outside, it’s dull, gray and cloudy. So much for beautiful pictures. Except now-a-days you can put a different lense on your camera, so that when you go out in the drab, dreary light, you can look through that lense and see blue skies and sunny, lit green trees. Put the camera down and it’s back to drab. It’s all in the lense. The lense is filtering what you see.

When you’re full of shame, it’s the same way. Not always. Not with everything. But most of the time it can happen.

Someone says to you, “I love your dress, where did you get it?” But you hear, “Since when did you get good enough to wear a dress like that?” Because inside you really do feel that way and cannot fathom how anyone could pay you a compliment. The filter of shame distorts what’s going in.

Another example: “I would love to spend more time with you. Let’s do lunch” this goes through your shame shades and ends up in your mind like this. “I feel sorry for you because you have no friends. I’ll be the only one who cares and go to lunch with you.” Are you seeing what I am getting at? I have done it for years.

It can also happen with what you see along with what you hear. A smile from someone can be just that a friendly smile, but your shame shades filter it as a smile of pity or a fake smile, because after all why would anyone smile at you?

If you can identify with this, let God free you of shame. Life without it is much better than with it.  Shame causes addiction, low self-esteem, negative self-talk, anger, depression, fear…the list goes on. And while these things can exist on their own due to other factors, shame is often the culprit.

1 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

Addiction: Inside The Addict’s Heart♡

1527247675190-1977189818.jpgUpon writing about addiction from my point of view, a fellow blogger shared a post with me that spoke volumes to me. You can read it here...A Father Lost by Wally Fry

In the late 1960’s, after trying to lead his family, a father succombs to addiction of alcohol and eventually leaves his family. It wasn’t unheard of back then, but 50 years later, addiction has infiltrated our families at a startling rate and is now a common happening.

But Wally’s story got me thinking, what causes a parent to walk out on their families? And why do some stay and struggle in front of their families? Both choices causing different types of damage.

When you read Wally’s story, you can identify with the pain his father’s choices caused him. But I can identify with his father as well. His father tried for a least a bit of time, because he was able to leave some good impressions on his son, as you will read. I can’t help but to think that maybe his father thought he was sparing his family heartache by simply walking away. He didn’t go off and succeed at a different life; which tells me he was so deep into his addiction there was no other choice for him. Maybe he thought he was doing the nobel thing.

So many addicts do this…step away because they believe they’re helping to spare their loved ones. Maybe what causes them to step away isn’t selfish desires after their drug but the hopeless feeling they have inside. “I’m never going to change. I’ve hurt them too much. I can’t do this.” To where their thinking can become to something like, “It’s pointless trying anymore. The other hundred times I tried, I failed.”

Don’t get me wrong here, because I know there’s some out there with no conscious, whose actions are self-derived and lead to destruction with no regret in their hearts. But many do try, and many do have regrets.

I will say it again, I’m no expert, just a nosey woman with alot of questions. Those who walk away have given up on themselves. They are hopeless.

More questions: What about those who choose to stay and struggle in front of their families? Do we look down on them for the pain they can end up causing? The memories that get etched into the child’s mind? The work load that it puts on the other spouse; do we point the finger and blame? Do we say “If only they would’ve left.” But doesn’t that make them just as guilty as the addict who walks out?

Those who stay while being an addict are hopeless too. And maybe they are scared to go “out there” from underneath the protection of the their loved ones.

In no way should we enable our addicted loved ones, but we shouldn’t turn our backs on them either. It’s one thing for them to choose to run or stay, but it’s another when they have no one to go to whose arms are open wide for them. Like our Lord, His arms are always open wide for us ALL, no matter our sin.

I know there are no clear cut answers in these situations, but there is one that is clear to me when loving our addicted loved ones. We can’t give up on them. As long as they are trying and their thought process is still a desire to quit, then how can we walk away? And until they choose to walk away, we must be like Jesus with our arms open wide.

 

 

Hurry, Kill It! It’s still Alive

1527137023762200577321.jpgIt’s running so fast, I can’t keep up. I have to catch it. I’m getting angry. I’ve gotta kill it.

It’s leaving behind a trail of goo and slime. I’m dirty. I have to clean it up.

I’ve lost it, where did it go? I’m hopeless. Oh no! I’m going to give up.

I’m searching, seeking, looking. I’m too lost to find it. All is lost.

There it is! Way up high! I can’t measure up. I can’t reach it!

It falls, got it. Hurry, kill it! It’s still alive. Smash it, lift my foot…it’s still alive. Can’t even squash it, I’m a failure.

If you feel like this when trying to put your past behind you, then your past is still alive in you.

If you feel like this about your past, whether it be something you did or was done to you, then you’re living under shame. Shame makes you feel: angry, fear, lost, hopeless, helpless, not good enough, a failure, and dirty.

What if you could squash your past and the shame you feel over it like squishing a bug and killing it? It’s possible….with God. Here’s a post on how to free yourself from shame… What’s in Your Suitcase 

 

Addiction: Inside The Addict’s Mind

15270185006971750809613.jpgEvery person who is an addict is different. Even if we took all those who are addicted and put them into one category, we could still take them and separate them into groups. Groups like the drug of choice, or we could group them on how long they’ve been addicted. We could put all the males in one and the females in another. Or how about the kids here and the senior citizens there?

As I’ve said before, addiction can happen to anyone. It can be a quick one year event in someone’s life or it can become a lifetime for someone who had bigger dreams. And though I don’t have clear cut answers, I cannot avoid writing on it and how I see it from my experience.

The one thing all addicts have in common is that when the addiction takes hold, the addict lives a day to day existence. Many may put on a front, appearing to live their life and have everything under control. But I guarantee you, on the inside they are only thinking and dwelling on today and today’s high. If the getting is good and the supply is plentiful, then the addict will appear happier, more sure on themself. They may make some plans or agree to invitations from others. But that can change in a day or two’s time depending on the supply. See as long as the addict is using their drug, they have a real hard time thinking beyond today. Their ability to make plans is slowed down due to the constant thoughts of where the next high comes from. Sadly, most plans they made fall through as a result of not having what they need to get through that day.

Because of this, it’s unimaginable to think we should expect any more than today out of the recovering addict. They need to recover one day at a time. The cliché you hear from AA is true. One day at at time is all they can do. Because day 48 of sobriety and day 1 can feel the same.

Today as I drove into our city, I was once again confronted with the homelessness epidemic. I watched a man sleeping on a bench outside of a funeral home. I saw another leaning against the outside wall of a liquor store, strategically in place. I witnessed a young woman with an old woman’s face, stridding down the sidewalk without a care in the world. They are all incapable living outside of today. I’m not profiling that all homeless are addicts, but I’m sure the majority are. And that majority needs love and forgiveness and most of all, prayer. The ones I mentioned and your addicted loved ones could be a writer, a dentist, an architect or even a really good parent.

Even though we must at times protect ourselves from those who want to do us harm, we must remember those who are only harming themselves. That they see no end in sight for their future. We must forgive them, show them the way to God and help them one day at a time.

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