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- If your are greatly disturbed either spiritually, mentally or emotionally, it is imperative that you seek professional help IMMEDIATELY. Online resources and meetings are not to be confused with group therapy or professional counseling sessions.
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Fearfully, wonderfully, birthed from a void,
Given sweet gift of existence, of breath,
We bask in miraculous sentience employed
In business of plumbing our mystery's depth.
Carried by hands that encourage, that tote
Our penchant for darting down perilous trails,
Plucked once again from recesses remote,
Beneficent breeze filling prodigal sails,
We channel, in time, a vision proclaimed
While all was potential, nothing was set,
And ride vibrant wave of awareness unchained
Since mystified Mary held Child to her breast.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8,14
Christmas Eve more than 2000 years later, it’s fair to ask, “What happened to ‘peace on earth’?”
War. School shootings. Terrorism. Racism. Death. Families torn apart. An observer might wonder if Silent Night is anything more than a song.
A few years later the baby born that night would teach His friends about a different sort of peace.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
It’s the peace that doesn’t depend on circumstances. It’s peace that sustains like the eye of a storm while life’s chaos swirls around it.
Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol is the famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by spirits representing the past, present and future. The novel, while set during the Christmas season, is a story of redemption. It's a wakeup call. It's a lesson on making amends. And it has the Twelve Steps all over the place.
Steps 4-12 heavily involve the "other" of wronged people in our lives, hurt by our destructive choices. They speak to our rebellion of the changed life we need to experience.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
This time of year is all about the "too much." There's too much food, too much temptation, too much decoration, too much noise, too much spending and too much stress. Anything which is already an existing reality, this time of year, is seemingly placed on steroids.
Ho. Ho. Ho. Jolly times.
A few years ago, an interior designer appeared on a morning talk show. She was there to offer helpful holiday décor tips for our homes. So, I was anticipating glitter, pipe cleaners, tinsel and every kitschy decoration known to man. I awaited pointers on how to transform each home into the Las Vegas strip.
So, it surprised me when she had some atypical advice...
He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good." Proverbs 19:8
As with most families this time of year, my husband and I commemorate the season with holiday decorations. That décor, however, is threatened by two factors: our cats, Gracie and Glory.
And, it is in this holiday decoration/feline context where I started thinking about the power of negative consequences.
The Book of Proverbs is especially loaded with helpful warnings for particular behaviors. It comes down to wisdom versus foolishness, pride versus humility, willingness to learn versus stubbornly and repeatedly making the same poor choices.
Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. Proverbs 19:20
Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29
Like it or not, we live in a cause and effect world. Many of us who battle with addiction, disorder and compulsion have already felt certain unpleasant consequences like lost jobs, wrecked relationships, health issues and excruciating moments of embarrassment.
I cracked up when I saw this image, stating, "This is me, thinking about Thanksgiving."
When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.
Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive. Proverbs 23:1-3
We're in the sea of overindulgence holidays. We're polishing off the Halloween candy; now we're headed into the choppy waters of Thanksgiving. And then there's more fun: Christmas and Hanukkah, followed by the reinvention promise of New Year's.
My raft is overturned.
Admit it, these holidays are raging seas for our appetites.
We often struggle not to drown.
For, we often believe the lie of the satisfied appetite.
Being this long in the game with my own issues, I'm learning that, when it comes to our tricky carnal natures, there's no such thing. When it comes to matter of the appetite, the name of the game is more, more, more! And then some more piled on top of that! There! That'll fix everything! That'll make everything all better!
So, we consume whatever, however and in whatever amounts we desire.But it's all deceptive; the appetite we struggle with seems to act as a spiritual barometer. It registers as our chosen God substitute. And, because it is only a substitute, a counterfeit attempt, at best, it never fulfills us. So, what's the answer we choose if we're not careful? Gimme more!
"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.
note: Members may discuss this workshop in the Message Boards HERE
Welcome to our Special Workshop tonight
"Surviving the Holidays with a Dysfunctional Family" Workshop
For many, the Christmas season is not a time of warm cozy feelings and precious memories. For some, it is a time of reliving the nightmares of childhood abuse and not wanting to return home for Christmas. It is a reminder of broken relationships and children in the custody of “the other parent.” It is a season of struggles to stay clean and sober and out of trouble when attending Christmas gatherings. How can we not only survive, but also thrive during the Christmas season?
Today I’m thinking about wanting less.
That’s a bit odd, given that we’re heading over the river and through the woods to my in-laws’ house filled with gift-crazed kids from four generations. We’re preparing for the annual unwrapping frenzy loosely inspired by ancient offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
I love opening my surprises as much as everyone else. I enjoy the over-the-top Christmas at the farm. Piles of wrapping paper, wonderful food prepared by loving hands that could feed a small army, squabbling children, squabbling adults, football games between teams I’ve never heard of.