Hope Inspires, Hope Wissel, Recovery

Blind Faith

potholes

Blind faith is defined as ““belief without true understanding, perception, or discrimination.” It wasn’t until recently it was pointed out to me, this is what I have.  A positive thing instead of the negative thing I would have described it as.

“It will all work out” has been one of my favorite lines for years.  As a single mom, I always believed things would work out.  I didn’t know how, I didn’t know why – I just believed they would.  I actually believe my relationship with God was pretty much nonexistent through HS, college and later in life.  During my early years, I was active in church and a Rainbow Girl.  I believed in God just didn’t have a relationship with him.  Weird, right?

God was there even when I didn’t see or believe it.  He had his hand on everything which is why I believe through my years of addiction, I was saved.  I had a blind faith deep in my soul despite the odds.  My first time in the rooms, I always said I was “spiritual” not religious.  The Serenity Prayer was the closest I got to having a conversation with God.  It was the thing which kept me going even when I was on the road to relapse and during my relapse.  I thought it was more of a foxhole prayer at that point since I had made such a mess of my life.

Now, I have a relationship with God. Are there still potholes in my path? YES!  Do I wonder if I am on the right road or following his purpose for me? YES!  Do I still struggle with fear?  YES! Do I still play the comparison game? YES!  Fear and doubt didn’t not magically go away because of my faith.  Satan loves to play with me especially on days when my MS flares up.

Every morning, I read my “Just for Today” and pause for a moment to thank God for his many blessings.  Truth be told (have you heard this amazing song?), I don’t STOP and wait to LISTEN for God’s message.

 

There are some days, it is more obvious than others I haven’t listened.  The days when the doubts come.  The days when resentments build.  The days when frustration and anger get the best of me.   Those days, I wonder what happened to the belief God would take care of things?

Those are the days, when I forget it’s not my job to fix the potholes in my trail. I need to let God lead, and He will smooth the way.  Whatever the path looks like, God has a plan for every step (Jeremiah 29:11).  The path may be filled with potholes but no matter where I am headed, God is aware of every gap in the road He’s established for me.

Hubby pointed out to me recently “you have a blind faith”.  I was shocked because I never thought about it.  I used to believe people judged me for the decisions I made.  Many times my decisions were not based on solid facts, just a feeling I had things would be okay.  Sometimes they were and sometimes they weren’t.  It wasn’t until I took my will back and stopped letting God lead the way, the road to relapse became a downhill spiral.  Me trying to figure things out or fix things led me to a path filled with potholes.  It kept me from letting my light shine and making a difference in the lives of other people.

It is time to embrace my blind faith.  Time to stop trying to fix the potholes.  Time to stop trying to figure things out on my own.  Time to let God lead, have faith and let him show me the path he has prepared for me.  It is “his will for my life, not mine”.

Are you trying to fix the potholes in your life or are you “letting go and letting God”?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Hope Inspires, Hope Wissel, Recovery

Anniversaries – Celebrations With Reflection

This past week I celebrated two anniversaries both filled with emotions and the struggle to remember.  Two milestones in my life which changed me forever.

On Friday, hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  We have been together 18+ years BUT only married 10.  If you know our story, you get it.  🙂

I generally blog about our story BUT this year,  I want to share the gratitude I have for this man.  Our road has been a rocky one – from his commuting for 5 years, to living together to marriage.  It all seems so basic, right?  But add to it – recovery on the road to relapse, a perceived loss of independence, his congestive heart failure, my diagnosis of MS and now his retirement.  Life on life’s terms which is something I’m not really good at.  It has been a true test for both of us of our wedding vows.  He has been my rock on my most difficult days.  I have tested his patience and he has learned how to communicate just a little bit better. We have grown together in so many ways…

As we sat at dinner the other night, the subject drifted to the one question to be sure about a relationship.  I had never heard this and honestly, I was scared. But he continued saying it is “do you bring out the best of each person?”….. Of course I had to know what he thought about us because honestly my memory is awful and fear was creeping in.  My immediate reaction was to feel less than. Not worthy of his unconditional love.  Instead of blurting things out, I prayed to be quiet while he finished.  He said “our life has been a balance –  sometimes we have brought out the best in each other while there are times, we have brought out the worst.  He said it is life but the true test is how you get through it.  We have made it.  WOW!  I didn’t get defensive.  I didn’t try to over analyze.  I just was grateful I kept my mouth SHUT and for how far we have both come. I may have already forgotten much of the night, I pray his words about our life together stay with me forever.

Jump ahead to Saturday and another celebration…. WE HAVE 3 YEARS!  I look back on where I was three years ago… a hot mess on the verge of losing my hubby, a mound of credit card debt, a victim mentality while I isolated feeling less than everyone else, broken emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Appearing confident (often cocky) on the outside while a scared child on the inside.  I had walked this road before and relapse became part of my story.  I had let down my family, my friends but most of all I had let myself down.  The strong confident person was gone.  What was left was a broken, shell of my former self.  Sadly, I didn’t notice it – I thought I hid it well.  I blamed everyone else for what was wrong in my life when the only one who was to blame was me.

As I sit here writing, unable to feel anything but sadness (MS seems to play with my emotions as well as taken my memories) I struggle to remember how bad it was.  Not just this time but the first time (my first clean date was 10/26/91).  Hubby often says, God took the memories because it was too unbearable for me to remember.  God gives me glimpses at times but when it becomes overwhelming for me, they fade and only segments remain.  So instead of struggling to remember, I try each day to be a better person than I was yesterday. Does it always work? NOPE!  I know with God’s help, it will.  I continue to go to meetings – I need to hear the struggles, I need to share my blind faith, I need to be surrounded by people who have been where I have been and I need to remember  “never” should not be part of my vocabulary.

Today, the credit card debt is paid off.  Today, I am trying to connect with local women in recovery.  Today, I accept I am an introvert but it does not mean I need to isolate.  Today, I know my ride & die gals who have been with me since the first night 3 years ago are just a phone call away.  Just for today, I like myself.  Today, I don’t beat myself up over the weight or how I think “I should look”.  My life is blessed in so many ways.  Yes, MS kicks my butt BUT it is not an excuse to go back to those old destructive behaviors.  Living life on life’s terms is not always easy but WE do recovery together.

Thank you to everyone who has walked these many roads with us.  We are grateful for the part you have played and continued to play in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Time for a Spiritual Checkup

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…

I have struggled with weight issues since I was a little girl. Part of my struggle is rooted in “fluffy” genes lovingly passed down to me through several generations of “fluffy” relatives. The remainder of my struggle is firmly rooted in the fact that I hate exercise, take medications that cause weight gain, enjoy eating, and sometimes use food as an emotional outlet and reward.

I was a young adult and living on my own before I realized that part of the creation process included green things called vegetables. The motto in our family was, “If it ain’t fried, it ain’t right.” Gravy was a condiment and potatoes a staple at every meal. No bread? How can you have a meal without bread? And dessert was a necessity. Get the picture?

Over the years, I have tried just about every diet I could find. I could always lose weight. I just could not keep it off. The day came when I threw in the towel.

My name is Mary, and I am a Carboholic.

I was done. I was burned out on diets and quick fixes. I didn’t want to be a certain size. I just wanted to feel good and to be as healthy as I could possibly be at this point in my life.

I went to a highly-recommended Christian nutritionist who asked me to complete a packet of 500 questions (not kidding), did an EKG, ran more blood tests than I have ever had run in my life, and introduced me to the coolest machine that measures fat and muscle in the body. After all the tests were in, Dr. Tague smiled at me and calmly said, “Mary, you are a malnourished woman.”

My mouth literally fell open in shock. At the time, I was at least 50 pounds overweight and ate pretty much everything in sight whenever I felt the slightest twinge of hunger. How could I possibly be malnourished?

The doctor went on to explain that I was indeed eating … but I was eating all the wrong things … at all the wrong times. In fact, I was dangerously low in several key vitamins and minerals. He handed me a small paper cup filled with a mixture of those vitamins and minerals to take before leaving his office and said, “If you were my patient in the hospital, I would not release you until some of these levels came up.” Now he had my undivided attention.

God often works the same way.

I spend more time working on ministry checklists than I spend in God’s Word.

Prayer is more often a drive-through event than the sit-down-at-His-feet experience it should be.

I give God the leftovers of my day when I should purposefully plan my time with Him.

Rather than investing time in relationships, I follow friends on Facebook or text them to ease my guilt.

I choose what is easiest and more convenient in ministry instead of choosing the best part of ministry, which is often messy and inconvenient.

I often allow the hedges of protection to go untended, resulting in a lack of boundaries and margins in my life.

I allow myself to become a malnourished Christian.

God then lovingly but unquestionably gets my attention in several ways – a crisis that knocks every prop but Him out from under me, or an illness that rips every choice out of my hands and really makes me stop. I can then get the spiritual nourishment that really feeds my soul. Nourishment like sustaining time in the Word of God … significant, life-giving time in prayer … nurturing time with encouraging friends … opportunities to give myself away in service.

After following the carefully laid out plan of my nutritionist for two years, I have lost 65 pounds, but that is not the best or most important news. I feel better than I have felt in many years! My blood work, EKGs, and BMI (body mass index) are all perfect. And the doctor has now pronounced me a well-nourished woman.

I want to be a well-nourished Christian. I am taking the next year to get my spiritual ducks in a row. I am seeking God on what I should and should not do. I am setting boundaries and asking my husband and accountability group to hold my feet to the fire in keeping those boundaries firmly in place. I am practicing saying “no.” I am bringing order to any areas of chaos. I am resting beside the still waters. And I know He will restore my soul just as He has restored my body in so many ways.

How about you? Are you a malnourished Christian? Today is the day to take a step toward spiritual health!

Have a blessed day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

The Secret of Being Content

Thank you Michele Cushatt for today’s message.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12, NIV).

“It’s too hot!” he complained over the kitchen counter, complete with rolled eyes and his best pre-adolescent attempt to pretend he might pass out from the heat.

Nice acting job, buddy. I restrained rolling my own eyes.

Moments, before I’d told my twelve-year-old to go outside and play with friends. He needed to get some fresh air and sunshine. Otherwise we both might have a meltdown.

Granted, it was close to 90 degrees outside. Warm, no doubt about it. But not scorching or dangerous. And our neighborhood boasted plenty of large trees and front porches providing shade. It was a normal summer day, but already the break from school had lost its luster.

“It’s beautiful outside!” I told him. “Besides, remember a couple weeks ago?”

I went on to remind him of those early June days when the temperature had remained unseasonably cool and the summer shorts stayed in the drawer.

“You didn’t want to play outside then because it was ‘too cold.’” I grinned, hoping he’d see the irony. Instead …

“70 degrees!” he countered. “Every day needs to be 70 degrees. That would be perfect.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. He had a point. Seventy-degree sunny days are just about as perfect as they come. But expecting every day to deliver perfect weather is not only unreasonable but impossible. The planet needs a combination of rain and sun, night and day, to thrive.

Sometimes I’m not all that different from my son. Although I don’t wake up expecting perfect weather, I do expect my life to go according to plan, to follow a predictable routine and meet my every need. In a sense, I want a string of seventy-degree days. I don’t want too many crises, too much discomfort, too many challenges. And if life doesn’t deliver my definition of perfect weather, I can easily grow frustrated and lose my peace and contentment.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul claimed he’d learned the “secret of being content in any and every situation” (4:12). That means on the hot days and cold days alike. His secret?

Finding an outside source to regulate his temperature.

Like a furnace and air conditioning unit regulates the temperature inside the house regardless of the weather, we need an outside source to help us stay centered even when life grows uncomfortable. We need someone who can counteract our crises with his unwavering presence and soothe our anxiety with his unending peace.

Jesus. The one who comforts day after day with his nearness.

To pine away our days waiting for perfection will only leave us complaining in the kitchen about everything that’s wrong. In the process, will miss what’s waiting for us outside, the fresh air and sunshine and adventure of a life in Christ. No, we can’t control the weather. But we know One who can. And He makes the difference from being a woman who melts down in the heat of life and a woman who knows how to shine in spite of it.

Have a blessed day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Spiritual GPS


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

GPS has changed our lives. So much so that many people today cannot even read a map. We don’t have a clue how to figure out North, South, East and West. We don’t have to.

We have GPS. Global Positioning Satellite systems.

We have it in our phones.

We have it in our watches.

We have it in our cars.

GPS has changed our lives. It helps us know where we are going and how to get there.

To pursue God’s calling in my life, I must discover my spiritual GPS.

The G in spiritual GPS is gifts. Finding God’s calling for your life begins with gifts. The spiritual gifts God has given you. The supernatural, better than your average bear abilities He has put within you. When God calls you to do something, He gives you the gifts that will enable you to do it. God’s plan never lacks God’s resources.

Check out the first part of Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship (His own master work, a work of art)” (Ephesians 2:10a, AMP).

You sometimes have to give some thought and effort to discovering your spiritual gifts.

Here are three of mine:

  • Teaching is one of my spiritual gifts. I have always had the ability to take complex truths and make them simple. I thought and often still do think that everyone can do that. Not true. I call it “putting the cookies on the bottom shelf.”
  • Encouraging is one of my gifts. I often spell “encourage” as “in courage” – because when you encourage someone, you pour courage into them.
  • Laughter is one of my gifts. I can make people laugh. Sometimes they laugh with me. Sometimes they laugh at me. But they laugh. And the Bible tells us that laughter is good medicine.

God placed those gifts in my life when He created me in my mother’s womb. The more I use them, the more they grow.

We all have gifts that God has given us. We need to know what they are. Because they are hints at God’s plan and design and calling for our lives.

So, the “G” in spiritual GPS is gifts.

The P in spiritual GPS is passion.

Ever notice how different people are passionate about different things?

We had a tornado this week in the area just West of Kansas City. Some of our church members are so passionate about helping people, they simply had to go do something. My son and daughter-in-law took a day off of work to go help their neighbors. Some of those neighbors lived less than a quarter mile away from them – and lost everything. There were so many people showing up to help that the police had to turn some people away because of the unusually heavy traffic on the rural Kansas road that runs through the area.

Back to the next part of Ephesians 2:10. “For we are created in Christ Jesus (reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used).”

Reborn …

Transformed …

Renewed …

Ready to be used …

Sounds like passion to me!

I have been speaking for women’s conferences and writing books and devotions for women for 30 years. I love it. Why? It lets me do what God created me to do. It fits my gifts – encouragement, leadership and teaching. It fits my passion – helping people become everything God created them to be.

So, the G in GPS stands for Gifts.

And the P in GPS stands for Passion.

The S in GPS stands for Story.

God – who designed me with a purpose in mind – is writing my story. He has been writing my story all of my life. The Bible tells us that He knew who we would be before He even created the world. The Bible tells us that He planned our story while we were still in the womb. The plan came first!

He is writing His story in and through you and me. And that story – our experiences, good and bad – helps us find our calling.

Back one more time to Ephesians 2:10 for the last part of that verse: “For we are created … for good works, which God prepared (for us) beforehand so that we would walk in them (living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us).

Did you catch what that verse says? God created you for doing good. God has prepared and gifted you to do good. God has given you passion for doing good. He is writing a good story in and through us!

Throughout the course of your life, God has been at work in you. Writing His story. Giving you the desire and the ability to do what He has created you to do. Why have these gifts and passions always been present in your life? Because they are part of your story.

God will help you discover your spiritual GPS – your calling.

You will find it in your gifts.

You will find it in your passion.

You will find it in your story.

Have a blessed day!