Archive for December, 2015

New Years: Taking Stock

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Happy New Year!

When someone says, “Happy New Year,” do you think of a party with hats, streamers, noisemakers, food, and music? I used to connect the two.

Now I schedule time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to sit with my calendar, my Bible, and my journal. I go back over the year to see what I’ve accomplished of lasting value. I look at what I’ve done in terms of the legacy I will leave behind. What about you?

After that time of reflection, I prayerfully consider what one word I’ll place on a sticky note on a kitchen cupboard, my bathroom mirror, and my desk and what Scripture I’ll claim for the New Year. Have you done something similar in the past? If you haven’t, try it for a year and let me know how it goes.

On New Year’s Eve if not sooner, I again sit with my journal, my Bible, and my calendar to think about goals and dreams for the coming year. Do I have a new book on my heart to write? What about a speaking topic to explore? What speakers’ conference would I like to attend? What about a writers’ conference or retreat? I ask God about those things to see what his will is.

My book, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, came about in 2015 because of my quiet time in 2014 pondering the New Year.

Those of you with children might consider activities and travels with your children. I still remember the year I took my son to Mexico for a six-week study program. We stayed with a pre-screened family in their lovely home.

My son wasn’t interested in learning Spanish until he spotted a cute little Mexican girl at the college café. Then he learned whole sentences one after another.

I urge you to plan for 2016 to be better than 2015. Look forward to it with joy.

Happy New Year!

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!
Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Begin Where You Can

Monday, December 28th, 2015

“I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be perfect.” Genesis 17:1

“Perfection is impossible!” we are in the habit of saying; and therefore we do not try to reach perfection. But it is better for us always to keep our aim high, although we cannot hope to reach it. If we have low ideals and aims–our attainments will be low. We cannot look with approval upon anything lower than the perfect beauty of God Himself–and not have the beauty of our own life dimmed thereby. We should always keep perfection before us–as our aim. We should keep our eyes ever fixed upon the perfect model, Jesus Christ!

He Himself taught, “Be perfect, therefore–as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. We are always to seek to model our life upon the divine pattern. Of course we cannot reach this lofty standard in a day–but the way to Christlikeness, is to strive toward it.

When a child begins to write, his scrawling lines fall far short of the beauty of the original at the top of the page. Book after book he fills with his scribble–but if he is diligent, each new page shows a little improvement, and by and by–his writing rivals the original. We can learn to live holy and sweetly, only in the same way. Begin where you can, no matter how imperfect or faulty your life–but strive always toward perfection, and at last you shall be like Christ! That is the hope which shines before us: when we shall see Him as He is–and shall be like Him!

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)

Are You Spiritually Ready for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Have you asked your extended family, friends, and coworkers if they are ready for Christmas? I have more than once.

Perhaps people have asked you if you’re ready. They’ve asked me.

When you think about being ready for Christmas, do you think about Christmas presents, mailing cards, and stockings hanging over the fireplace? I used to think if I finished those things, I was ready.

Now I think in terms of spiritual readiness for Christmas. Is my conscience clear? Do I hold anger, bitterness, or resentment toward anyone? Do I need to sit with my journal and Bible to forgive someone?

So how did I turn from material readiness to a spiritual one? I thought about God sending his only Son to earth for the forgiveness of my sins. I accepted God’s gift and wanted to show my gratitude.

God’s Word in John 15:14 says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.”

I wanted God to include me as one of his friends. One of his commands is to forgive. He tells us that in Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Will you be spiritually ready for Christmas? It’s not easy. I struggled for years to get through my list of people I needed to forgive. Without friends, coworkers, and mentors, I couldn’t have succeeded.

It’s not too late to get spiritually ready for Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

The Mystery of Christmas

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Happy Monday!

Christmas week brings me to today’s word-of-the-week…

MYSTERY

christmas am chaosEveryone else seems to have a sense about Christmas.

For some, it’s politically correct Happy Holidays! For others it’s Merry Christmas and the reason for the season. Some see profits, others fear family gatherings that open old wounds. There’s vacations, celebrations, and decorations.

To me, it all a mystery, and the more I understand the deeper the mystery becomes.

A baby’s born, just like every other baby and unlike any other. His birth was the culmination of an eternal plan, events orchestrated from the beginning of time leading to a stable and a manger in a backwater town. God gave up being God, except He didn’t, and accepted the limitations of a mother’s womb and a baby’s helplessness.

How did it work? I believe it, and still it’s wrapped in a wonderful mystery.

Shepherds and Magi heard the message and came to worship. How much did they comprehend? How many nights did they lay awake pondering, wondering?

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

What was she thinking? She knew, but how much did she really understand?

I love the mystery of this familiar story. It’s a story the smallest child can know , but I’ll never really understand the depths of what happened that night.

One thing’s for sure. I’m grateful.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!

Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

FREE recovery magazine “The Gabriel”

Friday, December 18th, 2015

The latest issue of CIR’s FREE recovery magazine “The Gabriel” is now available for Download

You are encouraged to download this, print it out or put on a diskette and share it with your loved ones, church, pastor and/or recovery group. It is jam packed with inspiration, tips, resources and information for everyone in recovery

De-Stressing Christmas Time

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

“Fear not, for I bring you good tidings of great joy. Glory to God in the Highest And on Earth, Peace to All People of Good Will.” Luke 2:10,14 nativitychina

 Where to begin. We are each of us connected, one to the other through spirit. Tragedy that is occurring anywhere is affecting everyone, everywhere, in the world.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
                                                                                       Psalm 23:4
 
And so, from this point, here in the tiny space that I occupy in the universe, it is through my belief in the Holy Spirit and the seed of his worth that is placed in our hearts, made courageous, that I rejoice and fear not.  In this holy season, for all seasons, through faith,  we celebrate the birth of our Lord, heaven’s answer for our salvation.
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can!
                         John Wesley
There’s no denying the end of the year is a busy time. Years ago Jim and I found an easy way to de-stress the holidays . We began to celebrate “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Put simply, the first day of Christmas is December 25th, the twelfth day being January 5th, followed by Epiphany on January 6th. By changing our mindset about having all preparations completed for and expectations met during one twenty four hour period, on Christmas Day, we were liberated to truly enjoy the entire holiday season that begins in spirit on Thanksgiving.
This new perspective did not require gift giving on twelve days. In fact, over time, we came to do less and less “store shopping” and began to observe and celebrate the true miracles of Christmas that come from the hearts and minds of each of us.
So, whether you adopt the tradition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as your own, or not, make  it a priority to find quiet time for yourself.  In a world with much strife yet many miracles, remember to thank God for your blessings. You may even experience a greater appreciation for the sacraments of Christmas and its sacred music.
With gratitude and much love, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Until next month, remember to count your blessings and share the sweetness in your heart.
~*~
Becky and Jim Gabriel

Since 1980, Jim and Becky Gabriel have helped multiple numbers
of patients in Georgia and Sarasota and graduated a thousand
massage therapists from ASHA, the Academy of Somatic Healing Arts,
their Atlanta massage school.Their mission is to provide innovative, effective health care services,
educational materials and classes as well as holistic health and wellness
products for the entire community. They may be contacted via:
The Gabriel Center for Massage Therapy

No Christmas Family Reunion for Me!

Monday, December 14th, 2015

“I don’t want to go to the Christmas family reunion, Ms. Ortega,” Julia told me in my counseling office. Her hands trembled as she spoke and unbuttoned her sweater.

“What makes you say that?” I asked as I looked into her blue eyes.

“My mom and dad will argue most of the day. My aunt Mary won’t speak to my aunt Dorothy, and each will act as if the other one isn’t there.”

Julia’s facial muscles tightened as she discussed the family dynamics. I waited to hear what else she might say.

“That’s only half of the story.” Julia sat in silence for a minute and stared out the window. “My sister expects everyone to do what she wants, or she will get angry, curse, and cut them out of her life. My uncle Charlie will get drunk and misbehave.”

In my experience as a counselor, I’ve heard similar stories. Perhaps you feel like Julia and don’t want to go to your Christmas family reunion either.

You can write a list of the pros and cons of attending and then decide. You can consider other ways to spend Christmas day.

If your family members want to know why you won’t attend the family reunion, tell them you want a peaceful Christmas or have other plans.

You can invite good friends and neighbors to your home for a peaceful Christmas dinner.

Psalm 34:14b: “Seek peace and pursue it.”

Dear God, I want Christmas to be peaceful not hostile. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to “seek peace and pursue it”?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!

Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

When Christmas Is Hard

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Have you lost a loved one or been through a divorce? Have you faced a major move or the loss of a job? Have you received a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or made a significant change in your lifestyle?

If you answered, “Yes,” to any one of these questions, Christmas may be a struggle for you. It may not be a warm “fuzzy” time of Christmas cookies, carols, and cards.

You may not feel like eating Christmas cookies or singing Christmas carols. You may not want to send Christmas cards or enjoy reading the ones that you receive. You may not want to be caught up in the social whirlwind of plans, parties and programs.

Please don’t force yourself or fake feelings you don’t have. Please be gentle and patient with yourself. Give yourself permission to rest, to write in your journal, and to seek peace and quiet.

You may need more time in prayer, Bible study, meditation, and praise and worship. That’s okay.

Soft relaxing piano, harp, or guitar music may soothe you. Listen to it and take care of yourself.

Psalm 85:8: “I will listen to what God the Lord says;?he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants.”

Dear God, I’m lonely and tired. Please help me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to experience God’s peace?

 

Turmoil at Christmas Time

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Most of the time I don’t want to turn on the news. Robberies, shootings, and knifings make me wonder what happened to love and compassion. So do drug and alcohol-related deaths, domestic violence, and child-abuse. Do you feel that way too?

Cultural diversity, tolerance, and individual differences are preached more than ever before, but that doesn’t seem to resolve the situation. The crimes mentioned above, continue to leave families doubled over in pain and many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Amidst the Christmas lights, cookies, and carols, I struggle to understand why married couples turn into enemies, siblings into rivals, and coworkers into carriers of gossip and jealousy. Do you also struggle to understand this?

And yet I will not give up hope. Instead I will meditate on Isaiah 9:6:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

During this Christmas season, I choose to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and the significance of why he came to earth.

When I sense the turmoil in homes and offices, I will call upon the Prince of Peace. When I long for a miracle, I will pray to my Mighty God and Everlasting Father.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

A Different Start to the Christmas Season

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

“It’s a different start to the Christmas season,” I told Darlene. “I’ve stayed off my feet the last five days the way the doctor told me and iced my knee three or four times a day to no avail.”

Darlene nodded and suggested I read a good book and journal. I laughed. I’d already done that.

After she left, I looked at the whirlwind of Christmas activities on my calendar for the next two weeks. It didn’t look like I would attend them.

I sat in the sunroom and pulled out my Bible. I took up where I left off the day before and read three chapters in Exodus. A relationship between those chapters and my book in progress formed in my mind. I took notes and smiled.

Next I reviewed a section of a Bible study from last summer. Another creative cascade came with more ideas for my manuscript. I giggled with glee.

I called Darlene and said, “It’s okay to have a different start to the Christmas season. Christmas isn’t about parties, luncheons, and gifts anyway. It’s about celebrating the birthday of King Jesus.”

We both laughed, and Denise said, “With all those ideas, you better get to work on your manuscript.”

Perhaps you’ve started the Christmas season in a different way too. Maybe you’re fine, but you have a sick child or spouse. Perhaps unexpected home repairs or a job loss have interrupted your plans.

I don’t know how God will work in your life, but he is in the miracle business. He can help you move from broken to beautiful too.

Let me know what God does in your life, and I’ll let you know when I finish my new book.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!

Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website:
http://YvonneOrtega.com