Hope

Weary? Try a New Alacrity!

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8


I once read a book on Harry Houdini. He was described as possessing a spirit of alacrity. What a great word. Its definition is that of "briskness, a cheerful readiness."

Who's tired already?

God’s Plan For You This Year

Have you thought about wrapping up the old year? How about plans for the new year?

It’s that odd time of year when we spend equal time looking to the past and the future. It’s sort of like doing taxes—you summarize the past year while figuring out what needs to change going forward.

One of my internal principles tells me to pay attention when I encounter the same issue in different contexts. I figure someone’s trying to tell me something. Recently I’ve run across a few folks who are asking, “What does God want me to do next?”

In the introduction to "Relentless Grace" I expressed my reluctance to claim that “God told me” to take a particular course. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I suspect I sometimes use “God’s plan” as an excuse to do what I wanted to do anyway.

I do believe that God speaks to us, and I certainly believe in His absolute sovereignty. Nothing is beyond His control; nothing escapes His attention.

Recovery, Choices and Holidays

"The doctor is real in."

Those words are written on a psychiatrist stand the character Lucy has in the Christmas classic, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!"

That got me thinking. We're once again, at that festive time of year, with all of its parties, concerts, kiddie pageants and assortment of other holiday events. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of stuff to go to. And yet, during this festive season, it's more than difficult to get a doctor's appointment. Or is that just my experience?

When I was sixteen years old, I got the chicken pox at Christmas. Ho ho ho! There was not much I could do; there was no doctor I could see, because every single one of them were off for the holiday. So, it was me, the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" (colorized version), some calamine lotion, a couch and itching. Because I didn't get chicken pox like most kids, at age six or seven and because I was this late bloomer, my stint with the itchy stuff lasted about three weeks. It was not a festive time.

And, years' later, I seem to have run into the same dilemma repeatedly whenever I try to schedule an appointment with the doctor or dentist. Most of the time, the doctor is real out. So, what's my option? Where do I go from there?

Well, there's a potential and dangerous choice out there, left unchecked; I could turn to my definition of a panacea. Instead of dealing with the discomfort and pain in the moment, I could choose to numb, escape from and soothe it. Sounds like classic addiction, doesn't it? We try to cope and turn to anything to attempt to make that happen. Those coping methods can include a wide variety of consumption choices for each one of us: food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, just to name a few. And the excuse we possibly use for turning to them? The doctor was out.

Prayer for Those Who Struggle with the Holidays

Abba...this is a really hard time of year for so many.

Some are experiencing the first round of holidays and feasts without a loved one...
whether through death or a need for reconciliation.

Some are going through serious illness.

Some are experiencing great financial hardship.

Some are locked into bondages and/or addictions.

Abba, please touch each one, especially those who are reading this prayer and their loved ones.

I lift them all up to You, Abba.

You can bring healing...

where no one else can.

You can touch hearts...

Discipline Or Regret: Which Pain Do We Embrace? Premium Content

I don't know who said it, but there is a quote which goes something like:

"You either embrace the pain of discipline or you embrace the pain of regret."


Yes, I know, it's a festive one.

Nevertheless, it is a reality check, especially for those of us in recovery from any particular thing which has seized our pleasure centers, all in an effort to escape pain. We desire pleasure to soothe, numb or obliterate our pain. We believe the lie it will happen. Furthermore, we also believe there can be no good thing which comes from denying our indulgences for it.

Therefore, as we stumble and relapse, we often choose to embrace the pain of regret concerning our addictions and the harmful consequences which can follow.

It's not to shame anyone. Rather, it's, again, to provide the reality check that none of us are immune from relapse and bad decisions. We are all vulnerable.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalms 103:14

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23

It's acknowledged in the first two Twelve Steps:

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Unbreakable Grace

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14


For years, I've had a small Jesus statue, depicting thanksgiving to God for the loaves and fishes. This statue has traveled from Portland, Oregon to Dallas, Texas to our current locale of Minnesota. And, over the years and states, it has, unfortunately been broken at least a couple of times. His small hand, holding a broken loaf of bread, has repeatedly been glued back on.

It's irritating, yet also meditative, as it got me thinking about the whole grace thing.

Memories: Ouch!Premium Content

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psalm 51:12


Autumn floods me with childhood memories of locusts inhabiting our farm and caterpillars on twigs, kept on mason jars, just waiting to become monarch butterflies.

And, with that flooding, often comes the tinged bittersweet feelings that accompany a childhood innocence of long ago.

I recently caught a funny post on the internet. It read: "Memories: Ouch!"

They say humor is humor because it is unflinching truth. And that certainly was the case with this post.

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Are you in a prison of hopeless despair?Premium Content

Too many of us have lived our lives suffering in a silent, shameful prison of hopeless despair. When we tried to hope -- our hopes were always deferred. We were heart sick from all our seeming endless deferred hopes (Proverbs). Hope for us was more of a mirage; one which was continually being pushed into an elusive, uncertain and clouded future.

Thus, our lives became defined by disappointment, disillusionment and shame. And like Rowan and Martin, on the 1970's show Laugh In, we regularly awarded ourselves with "the twisted finger of fate," instead of embracing our true divine destiny in Christ.

These three cousins of hopelessness (disappointment, disillusionment and shame) 'mar' the true image of God. I don't recall whose quote this belongs to; but, it goes something like this: "God created man in his image and likeness. Unfortunately, man has returned the favor. We have shaped God into the 'twisted' and 'wicked' view we have of ourselves." Disappointment, disillusionment and shame diminished us!

Not so in Christ! With him in our hearts, "hope springs eternal."

Such hope never disappoints, disillusions or shames us; for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:5, Amplified (my editorial change - deludes changed to disillusions)

Hope enables us to wait patiently for our redemption.

That is why (hopeful) waiting does not diminish us;

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The Irony of Resisting Change

The adventure of life is to learn.
The purpose of life is to grow.
The nature of life is to change.
The challenge of life is to overcome.
The essence of life is to care.
The opportunity of life is to serve.
The secret of life is to dare.
The spice of life is to befriend.
The beauty of life is to give.
~ William Arthur Ward

It's raining steadily and that always makes me glad to be inside and comfortable in my own surroundings with simple comforts close at hand.

It also disposes my mind to become more reflective and focused on what is important and relevant.

A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition."
~ William Arthur Ward

How strange that though change is the dynamic of life, the nature of human beings is to resist change. The irony being that the very circumstances that we fear could ruin us may be the ones that open us to the blooming potential of who we were meant to be.

Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing
or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.
~William Arthur Ward

Sometimes there are no answers to life's questions. Accepting the things we cannot change, without question, shows a strength of character that few possess.

Beyond the 12 StepsPremium Content

note: there is a worksheet at the bottom of this article

I have spent a lot of years struggling with drug addiction and alcohol abuse. At one point the drug addiction had completely taken me over. I began trying desperately to stay clean but every time I got a little taste of sanity the world would come crashing in and I would crumble under the weight of it all. Before I knew it I was escaping the pain or responsibility of life by using drugs. I had been through the court system, rehabs, 12 step programs, counseling (behavioral and substance abuse), and many psychiatric visits for medications. Nothing seemed to stick very long. Most of the people trying to help me eventually threw their hands up in defeat and passed me off as a hopeless case. I got to a point I started to agree with them. Nothing seemed to work for me. I was living in constant commendation from the world and in my own mind. Every mistake seemed magnified. I would beat myself up in my head over and over until my only relief was escape.

Through divine intervention I was given a book named "Freedom From Addiction." It captivated my attention because it was such an honest account of the thoughts bombarding an alcoholics mind. Not only an alcoholic but a Christian. Now I have to say that believing Jesus Christ died for my sins did not automatically make me Christ like. I was continually going against God. The shame I felt about knowing what was right but not being able to live it was more shame than I could bear. But then this book was placed in my path. As I read it something started to stir deep within me. There was a message of hope written on those pages that spoke to my innermost heart. The message was not about what I have done as a sinner (that already plagued my mind enough) but a message of who God says I am as his child. I started hearing a message telling me he doesn’t see what the world sees when he looks at me.

When I looked at myself and compared myself to the world’s expectations of me I saw all of the bad things I’ve done and how I just didn’t measure up. I owned my bad behavior as my identity but that’s not the truth. God says I am precious,

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