Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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

Why I Don’t Rescue Others

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

rescueEver feel like you needed to rescue someone?

As a new teacher, I was sure I had a lot to offer. The students needed me. They needed what I had. I was the outside expert parachuting into their world to save them from their ignorance and give them what they couldn’t possibly get for themselves.

As my career progressed I discovered I was working with a horribly flawed model. My students didn’t need to be saved by an expert. They needed a partner who brought some resources and skills to the learning process.

And like every good teacher, I learned and grew from the relationship at least as much as my students.

I’ve been reading a lot about how to address injustice issues like poverty and racism. Like me as a new teacher, our solutions usually involve some version of the outside experts swooping in with their version of a solution.

The best solutions involve relationship in which there’s acknowledgement that everyone’s broken and in need of reconciliation. Local folks contribute both ideas and resources, and the entire process is a partnership. It’s about being servants, not saviors.

And there’s never a sense that we’re “bringing Jesus” into communities in which He’s always been active.

I’ve learned that we tend to greatly oversimplify issues of social justice. Poverty, for example, is a good deal more than simple lack of resources. Without understanding, the best intentions may cause harm.

Victims of injustice already have a Savior. They need a partner.

If you want to learn more, I strongly recommend this book: When Helping Hurts

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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

Where’s Your Focus?

Friday, September 25th, 2015

“What was Jesus’ primary focus during His three years of public ministry?”

It’s a trick question. I’m always a bit suspicious of single correct answers to complex questions.

Thomas wasn’t around when Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. When his friends told him what happened, Doubting Thomas earned his forever nickname. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, Jesus showed up again. Rather than scolding, Jesus gently invited Thomas to “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas proclaims, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus might have been indignant about Thomas’ lack of faith. He might have wondered if these guys learned anything in three years.

Jesus never focused on himself. For Him it was always about God and the needs (not wants) of others.

In that moment Jesus gave Thomas what he needed to fulfill the specific role to which he’d been called.

Re-read the last sentence. Isn’t that the promise?

Makes me think. As a follower, what if I looked at my own circles–family, church, workplace. What if I took the focus off me and looked at each person in the circle.

What if I asked What does that person need? Rather than advancing my agenda and achieving my goals, what if I asked myself what I could do to advance theirs?

Here’s my answer to the opening question: His focus was on God and on other people. Jesus would be the guy offering to take pictures of folks.

Jesus’ life wasn’t a selfie.

When Mother’s Day Isn’t a Happy One

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Do you cringe when you see TV commercials that remind the viewers to buy their mother flowers, chocolates, or jewelry for Mother’s Day?

Do you avoid a church service on Mother’s Day because you don’t want to hear people say, “Happy Mother’s Day” to dozens of women or watch as the pastor asks the mothers to stand?

I understand. Six years ago, I lost my mother before Mother’s Day. Like you, I won’t be able to contact her.

The same year I lost my mother, my only child passed away three days after Mother’s Day. Like many of you, I won’t receive a Mother’s Day gift, a phone call, or a visit from my child.

Perhaps you have a mother addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Because of her substance use, she has failed to be the mother you needed. You may not know where she is.

Perhaps you never had a child.

Three years ago on Mother’s Day, I went outside to enjoy the sunshine. A woman rushed out of the neighbor’s home, got into her car and drove away.

The adult daughter later told me they had an argument and her mother left before they sat for dinner. The daughter had cleaned house and prepared a gourmet meal for her mother to no avail.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Dear God, please help me get through Mother’s Day. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to weep and mourn your losses?

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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 Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Finding Common Ground

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

A comment from my wise wife brings today’s word-of-the-week…

COMMON


“The way you share your story creates common ground.”

Becky consistently guides me back to the central importance of relationships. She says my story removes barriers because it includes elements with which everyone can identify.

Someone asked me recently how I can work with the men at Harvest Farm when I don’t have any experience with addiction, homelessness, violence, or jail. My answer is Becky’s wisdom: I take time to form relationships.I go to their place and spend time with them and get to know them. I focus on what unites us instead of what makes us different. I don’t offer easy answers to hard questions.

It’s not magic. Like Becky said, it’s all about finding common ground.

We shy away from speaking up for communities of which we’re not members. We wonder if our sincerity will be questioned, if we’ll use the wrong words, if we’ll offend someone, if perhaps things would be better if we remained silent.

The truth is, your sincerity WILL be questioned, you WILL make mistakes, and if you’re committed those aren’t reasons to stay on the sidelines. But to increase your effectiveness, you need to engage.

Form relationships. Step beyond your own familiar comfort zone. Go to their place. Get to know them. Learn their stories. Know in advance it’ll be scary and rewarding.

Show that you’re willing to risk of taking the time and doing the hard work to find common ground.

Kind of like Jesus did.

No Christmas Family Reunion for Me

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

“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 Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

What Are You Thankful for? What Are You Doing About It?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Psalm 95:2-3: “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.”

As I placed my Thanksgiving candle figures on the dining room table, I remembered how my son used to move the pilgrims, the ships, and the Indians around the table. I thank God for the precious memories of my son, who is in heaven now.

I also think of my mother who loved the holidays and used to cook and bake from morning until night for days to make Thanksgiving a feast for the family.

My son and mother are in heaven praising God with music and song. I thank God they are no longer in pain.

I also thank God, for you, my readers. Some of you have been with me since the beginning of my weekly devotions. Some of you have not, but you have encouraged me and prayed for me as the others have. Thank you so much.

As I look back over the past year, I thank God for the fall in my home. Although I was in pain, I spent time with “the Lord . . . the great God, the great King above all gods” in prayer, Bible study, and praise and worship. I sensed God’s presence, peace, and power.

Dear God, thank you for my family, friends, and you “the great God.” Amen.

Application: When will you praise God with music and song this week?

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
Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Why Are THOSE PEOPLE So Difficult?

Friday, June 13th, 2014

communityI used to joke that a school would be a great place to work if it weren’t for all those pesky kids.

Same thing’s true of serving in communities—it would be easy, if it weren’t for all those messed-up people. The problem is that God seems to like using messed-up people to accomplish His work.

Or perhaps that’s the only kind of people He has to choose from.

I’ll confess that lately I’ve been a bit frustrated. No need for details, but I’m clearly looking through a different set of lenses than some folks I want to support. No matter what I try, it seems I encounter a taller, thicker brick wall.

Ever been there?

Here’s some of what I’m trying. Can’t say it’s successful, at least in terms of breaching barriers or reducing frustration levels.

Note to self: It’s not about me! I know what I want to accomplish, but perhaps my goals aren’t others’ goals…or God’s goals.

Talk to God about things like patience, grace, and a bigger perspective.

Check my attitude to make sure this isn’t about me wanting to sit with the popular kids.

Note #2 to self: I’m one of the messed-up people that makes working together so difficult.

BTW—in case you’re wondering if I’ve tried direct communication with the people involved, of course I have. So far, there are several indentations in those brick walls that match the curvature of my bald head.

I’m not seeking magic answers. In fact, the whole point of this post is that there aren’t any of those.

The point is that working in communities is hard, and we need to be prepared for that.

Unless…we find a community without all those messed-up people, like you and me.

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

What If You’re Not In The In Crowd?

Monday, June 9th, 2014

wellJesus stopped at a well to speak to a Samaritan woman. (John 4)

He shouldn’t have associated with someone like her. She was a Samaritan, a woman, and woman with a sordid past. No Jewish rabbi would be seen speaking to her.

She was an outcast.

The woman herself recognized the inappropriate nature of the conversation. When Jesus asks for water she replies, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

That’s the thing about outcasts—they usually know where they stand. They’re more than willing to marginalize themselves, to blend into the background simply to avoid additional judgment and ridicule. That makes it even easier to ignore them.

Phil will be one of our teammates on FRONT RANGE FREEDOM TOUR ’14. He sent me a note this morning and reminded me that our tour may provide opportunities to interact with folks like the woman at the well. He said we need to slow down and be ready when those opportunities arise.

Phil’s correct. God will arrange divine appointments, but we’ll miss them if we get in a hurry. The folks we need to connect with will be willing to let us pass if we seem too busy. They’re used to that.

We’re talking about people who aren’t the easiest, most convenient folks to hang out with. They’re not the cool kids.

Jesus took a risk. He slowed down, asked one of these folks for a drink, and changed her life. Then He used her to change an entire town.

I think we’re supposed to do the same thing.

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

What Deep Marks are You Making?

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

It is not what a man does or says purposely and with direct intention, which leaves the deepest mark in the world and in other lives–but it is the unconscious unpurposed influences which go out from him like the fragrances from a garden. Character is not necessarily what the man does–but what the man is!

There are great multitudes of humble Christian lives lived on the earth, which have no name among men, whose work no pen records and no marble immortalizes–but which are well known and unspeakably dear to God; and whose influence will be seen, in the end, to reach to farthest shores. They make no noise in the world–but it does not need noise to make a life beautiful and noble. Many of God’s most potent ministries are noiseless.

How silently all day long the sunbeams fall upon the fields and gardens–and yet what cheer, what inspiration, what life and beauty they diffuse!

How silently the flowers bloom–and yet what rich blessings of beauty and fragrance do they emit!

How silently the stars move on in their majestic marches around God’s throne–and yet the telescope shows us that they are mighty worlds representing utterly incalculable power!

The silent personal influence of a holy Christian has a healing, life-giving effect wherever it falls. Such a man goes about his daily duty as other men do; but, while he is engaged in common things, he is continually dropping seeds of blessing, which spring up behind him in heavenly beauty and fragrance!

In all true living, while men execute their greater plans–they are ever unintentionally performing a series of unconscious acts which often yield most beneficent and far-reaching results. There is a wayside ministry, for instance, made up of countless little courtesies, gentle words, mere passing touches on the lives of those we meet casually, impulses given by our salutations, influences flowing indirectly from the things we do and the words we speak–a ministry undesigned, unplanned, unnoted, merely incidental–and yet it is impossible to measure the wondrous results of these unconscious acts of usefulness.

~J.R. Miller, “Help for the Day”

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