Stress

Are You Doing Your Spiritual Press Ups?

"...Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."
Luke 21:28

I've recently taken on a newer kind of exercise routine - and it has nothing to do with weight loss.

After years of mysterious flares of right side pain, I have been diagnosed with a bulging disc. This was, in addition, to the mild form of Scoliosis which was never completely resolved when I was twelve years old. So, in between those two realities, I've had bouts of intense, radiating pain which now require physical therapy. Hence, the exercises. And the star of those exercise are the press ups.

Keep Going (While Going Through Hell)

I love Winston Churchill's sentiment:

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

Life is tough. Sooner or later, we'll experience a trying situation which feels like hell. It isn't actual hell, thank God. Nevertheless, the power of that notorious situation/trauma makes us feel tortured with pain, despair and hopeless evidence. Eating disorders, addictions, compulsions, loss and grief are just a few examples of things which can feel like hell, if, indeed, torture is its calling card.

It's painful and almost impossible to see future, life, possibility or God. We can, instead, much more easily see ourselves as failures, weak, forgotten and ruined. It's, therefore, inevitable we come to a screeching halt; we stop in the mire and can only feel ourselves sinking…down to where? Greater depths of hell and torture?

But that's not God's truth about us. Even in the middle of hopelessness, God is there… living… loving… working…

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" Jeremiah 32:27

It can be tempting to believe that

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.

Guidance: A Lesson from "The Bishop's Wife"

A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9


During the holiday season, we're inundated with many Christmas movies: "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle On 34th Street," "Frosty the Snowman" and many variations of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol."

But one that my husband and I became aware of years ago is "The Bishop's Wife," starring David Niven, Loretta Young and the debonair Cary Grant. Indeed, Mr. Grant plays an angel, named Dudley, assigned to the bishop and his wife, as they are challenged with raising money for a cathedral.

The Fa-La-La-La-La of Holiday Stress?

It's so easy to feel intimidated and overwhelmed by all of the holiday treats available now. We give so much power to various "forbidden food." We wonder what the caloric and "fattening" damage may be concerning the buffet that's presented to us. We're so worried about what food is to us, we often don't think much about what we are to God.

What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Psalm 8:4

Yes, there's no sugar coating it (pun intended): the holidays are challenging to us all. We are faced with numerous, unique fears, memories, expectations and simultaneously occurring situations of /joy/terror/destruction. We can, however, take a second and look at another couple of real promises, as we

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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How is Your Spiritual Heart Health?Premium Content

God has been teaching me His way concerning heart health. The condition of my physical heart mirrored the state of my spiritual heart. Through a physical and spiritual heart catheterization He exposed blockages, which left untreated, would be my certain physical and spiritual demise. He exposed areas of my heart that were still wounded and thus divided. I suspect I am not alone in this process.

According to the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches that It is from our hearts that we gain all spiritual guidance and understanding.

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" Luke 8:15 NIV.

"All valid spiritual direction comes to us through our heart-the seat of true knowing and our "eyes and ears" in the spirit. If we discern the "will of God" it is through our heart. Knowing our true identity and destiny is achieved through our hearts as well." "Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You", pg.67, published by Shepherd's House, Inc. revised version 2000.

As a direct result of these remaining heart blockages, I was no longer able to fully hear, retain, or re-produce a good crop from the word that had been so wonderfully planted in my heart for decades. The ability to correctly discern, know and understand Papa's will or my true identity and destiny as Papa's beloved son were being robbed from me. In this state, my capacity for joy was weakened. Of course my loved ones were profoundly affected by my heart disease as well (which of course there has been profound mercy and the amazing grace of forgiveness).

When your heart has blockages, your core identity becomes at best skewed and can even lose touch with reality. You are less able to live from the new heart Jesus gave you as your birthright. You even can end up not behaving or acting like who you truly are-an adopted child of God. Probably the most devastating part of this condition is being blocked from enjoying Christ in your heart. He-of course, will never leave us or forsake us-but our intimacy with Him can be diminished.

I am being so transparent about this in hopes to impart the courage for you to ask Papa to search your heart and know truth in your inner most parts, as King David did. This is why he was "called a man after God's own heart."

The single goal of heart healing is to

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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.

Anger: Keeping Things in PerspectivePremium Content

Those with good sense are slow to anger,
and it is their glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19:11


We get angry over a lot of things. To be honest, Americans as a society are pretty angry. Perhaps it stems from our idea of "rights." We believe (and expect) that certain things are due us, that our lives should include the ability to choose and have and do (sometimes even without consequence). When those expectations are denied, we get angry.

It’s also a form of control. Here in America (and in other countries), we have come to believe that we control our own destiny. We choose the vocation or profession or job we will have. We choose where to live, who to marry, how many children we will have (aborting the rest). We choose when we will work and when we will play (and we play a lot!). So when we are denied these things, we get angry.

We often couch our anger in morality, claiming that this or that is unfair or wrong. But if we are honest, many times our protests cover our fear. We cannot control the situation so anger is better than . . . trust. You see, God is in control. All the time, in all things, through all people. And while we all have free will, ultimately His plans will come to effect.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NRSV

This verse doesn’t say that God will only work out the good things or the things we control or when we are obedient (as opposed to sinning). It says that He will work out all things. And often, He works them out with Heaven in mind. That means the story doesn’t end here, on earth, but rather ends There, with Him. Hebrews 11:39-40a tell us that

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Reclaiming What Satan has Stolen from YouPremium Content

Satan has managed to convince many unbelievers, that he is not real, even though he has been influencing their every day lives abusively, in all manner of ways. Satan is a material, emotional, mental, and spiritual abuser. And if you have experienced abuse on any or all of those levels, he is at the root
cause.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the
gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4

Confronting and facing up to evil, is never easy. As humans we are inclined to go into denial, rather than confront evil for what it is. This is why so many addictions, addictive behaviors and systems continue relentlessly; enabled by ordinary every day people, until the pain brings them to their knees.
I find it a little sad that we humans still need the use of pain and suffering, to remind us to worship the living God!

Those of us who have experienced abuse and addiction, can testify to the truth of the Bible, that Satan and his demonic influence are indeed real, because we have experienced and witnessed his effects in our lives.

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