Archive for the ‘For Friends & Family of Dysfunctional People’ Category

Christmas in the Hospital

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

“Wasn’t it hard to spend Christmas in the hospital?”

CHRISTMAS IN A HOSPITAL might make a good title for an inspirational story or a heartwarming Hallmark movie, but it wouldn’t be my choice for personal experience. I didn’t choose permanent paralysis as a Christmas gift. Intensive Care wasn’t the ideal backdrop for an idyllic Christmas memory.

In real life, Christmas in the hospital was terrifying and lonely and incredibly sad. Decorations draped on beeping monitors in a sterile room provide a poor substitute for stockings hung on the mantle. Doctors and hourly vital signs can’t replace the joyous chaos of kids flitting from new toy to new toy.

The Night Before Christmas loses most of its rich imagery in the context of medical equipment and nurses wearing Santa hats. In place of a magical sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, that Christmas Eve brought claustrophobia in an MRI machine and fears of advancing infection.

But Christmas isn’t all about gifts and decorations and feasts. As much as we all cherish our particular family traditions, Christmas is a time when life softens a bit. Apart from the mad rush of shopping and travel and preparation, Christmas affords an opportunity to focus, however briefly, on what truly matters to us. Family and friends, love and peace, health and joy–these remain long after lights fade and gifts are forgotten.

That’s how I recall my Christmas in ICU. In the midst of fear and pain, I discovered that Christmas really does involve something deeper and more lasting than tinsel and toys. I discovered a connection to a child born thousands of years ago in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty. I learned something important about authentic hope from a horrible experience.

Hospitals, hospices, prisons, and rehab centers don’t close for Christmas. Overwhelming financial uncertainty doesn’t recognize holidays. Loneliness and depression don’t take a week off.

For all those who spend this Christmas in difficult situations, I wish a special sense of hope. I pray that they’ll experience the true meaning of Christmas. I pray that they’ll be touched by the baby whose birth in troubled circumstances signaled glad tidings of great joy for all of us.

Who do you know that might need some special hope this Christmas?

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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

The Power of Gratitude

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Ephesians 5:20

~ ~ ~ ~

One day, Johann Tauler of Strosbourg met a peasant and greeted him, “God give you a good day, my friend!”

The peasant answered briskly, “I thank God that I never have a bad day!”

Tauler, astonished, kept silent for a moment. Tauler then added, “God give you a happy life, my friend.”

The peasant replied composedly, “I thank God that I am never unhappy!”

“Never unhappy!” cried Tauler bewildered, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” came the reply, “When it is sunshine–I thank God; and when it rains–I thank God. When I have plenty–I thank God; and when I am hungry–I thank God. Since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases God pleases me–I am never unhappy.”

Tauler looked upon him with awe. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am a king!” said the peasant.

“A king?” Tauler asked, “Where is your kingdom?”

The peasant smiled and whispered softly, “In my heart!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Thank you consists of just eight letters that form two of the most meaningful words in the English vocabulary.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Counting up our mercies and our every-day reasons for gratitude, looking at the hundred little things and large things–we do not know where to end the list. The only thing to do, is to live always in an atmosphere sweet and vital with thanksgiving!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Be thankful for the small things–the trivial things and the mundane things!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to happiness–he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Have an attitude of gratitude. Don’t wait till Thanksgiving.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Everything short of Hell is mercy!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“God is glorified, not by our complainings, but by our thanksgivings.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“We can always find something to be thankful for. There are reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“A cheerful heart has a continual feast!” Proverbs 15:15

“Be thankful to Him, and bless His name!” Psalm 100:4

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What About That Setback?

Friday, November 18th, 2016

bumpA friend experienced a setback.

A “speed bump” is how he described it. I’d say it was more like a major detour, but either way, things aren’t exactly going his way right now. This is a guy who’s had his share of struggle along the road, and things were starting to look a bit brighter. This particular speed bump wasn’t part of the plan.

So what do you say? What’s useful, helpful, to someone in a circumstance like this?

First, let’s hold off on the Christian one-liners. It’s God’s plan. Everything happens for a reason. God will use this for good. Even if you believe something like this, it’s simply not helpful to toss a simplistic conclusion into a complex, painful situation. Mostly these are designed to make the speaker feel better; they’re not going to help someone who’s already experiencing confusion and doubt. Let go of your need to offer an easy answer that likely doesn’t exist.

It’s okay to feel angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Following Jesus doesn’t mean pasting a permanent fake smile on your face. When you acknowledge and accept your feelings, you don’t have to be controlled by them.

Want to help? Offer a safe space for her to express these perfectly normal emotions.

Hope is a decision, not a feeling. Hope is confidence in the future based on faith that God keeps His promises. It’s possible to choose hope and feel hopeless…I don’t know how that works, but I’ve been there. You can decide to choose hope, and hold on no matter how you feel.

Want to help? Continue to talk about hope while showing you understand how hopeless it feels.

You are not your circumstances. I am not a wheelchair. My friend is not his “setback.” That’s not how God sees us. We’re defined by how He sees us through Jesus.

Want to help? Show (don’t tell) him that he’s valued as a person beyond his circumstances. The show part is, by the way, hard.

God is long-term. Hope is long-term. Love is long-term. Most of the stuff we focus on…isn’t.

Want to help? Hang around long-term. Do long-term stuff, the things most others won’t do because it’s frustrating and they don’t see results and often they’re not even appreciated.

Hang around when the short-term folks lose patience. Don’t judge them.

That’s what Jesus does.

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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

Is Worry Overwhelming You?

Monday, November 14th, 2016
The Bible forbids us to worry. Our Lord Himself speaks of it as foolishness and sin (Matt. 6:25-34). Peter tells us to cast “all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Worry and faith do not go together; they are, in fact, in contradiction to each other. To worry is to lack faith.
Consider this: God cannot worry. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, and all things therein. All things were made by Him, and all things are under His omnipotent hand and control. Moreover, as James declares, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). Not an atom can ever escape God’s government and control.
This means that God has nothing to worry about, because everything is under His full control and accomplishes His purpose. If the Lord be our Lord, then Romans 8:28 is true for us: “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.” If the worst that happens to us is made to work for good in the Lord, we cannot lose.
This is why anxiety and worry are a sin. They mean a distrust in the Lord. They mean, moreover, that we insist on playing god and on trying to run our lives according to our plan. We then sinfully refuse to take hands off our lives to commit them to God’s keeping.
When our Lord says, “Take no thought for your life” (Matt. 6:25), or “do not worry, or be anxious, about your living,” He is summoning us to faith. If we refuse to have faith in the Lord, how can we expect Him to care for us? And if we refuse to have faith and insist on worrying, then we will have something to worry about: having denied the Lord, we will not have His care or providence. Take your choice: God’s care or your anxiety.
Taken from A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Volume 7.
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What Can You Do for Your Aging Parents?

Monday, November 7th, 2016

“The doctor doesn’t want me driving anymore?” my dad told me on the phone.

Have you heard that before? I didn’t say much, but I agreed with the doctor. Dad is legally blind in one eye and hard of hearing in both ears.

His doctor makes house calls monthly, and his nurses visit weekly. That way Dad doesn’t need to drive to them.

With the distance between us, I call frequently and pray for Dad as often as I think of him throughout each day. I claim Psalm 121:8: “The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

Years ago when my mother was still alive, I begged my parents to move here. However, they wouldn’t hear of it. Dad says, “It’s too late now.”

I tell him it’s never too late. I worry about him climbing up and down the stairs and taking care of that big house and large front and back yard.

Of course, Dad insists he can do it all and doesn’t need help.

He refuses to move into a small one-story apartment. He says, “My home is paid for. Why should I pay rent?”

“Because it would be easier for you,” I tell him.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact Dad won’t change his mind. So I go back to Psalm 121:8.

Can you identify with me? Will you pray Psalm 121:8 or another special Scripture for your aging parent(s)?

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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
“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

What Jesus Didn’t Say

Friday, November 4th, 2016

A conversation at a new church inspires today’s word-of-the-week…

DIDN’T

truth1I met a new friend yesterday, and we talked a bit about things Jesus didn’t tell us.

For example, He didn’t tell us that people we love will always agree with us. Or that “enough faith” makes things turn out the way we want.

After our conversation, I made my own list.

He didn’t tell us that loving our enemies would make them stop being our enemies.

He didn’t tell us that people would appreciate our compassion.

He didn’t tell us that drug addicts would stop using drugs if we start programs for them or that prisoners would stop committing crimes if we visit them.

He didn’t tell us that a nonviolent search for justice would be met with acceptance and understanding, that others wouldn’t take advantage of us.

He DID tell us to love our enemies, have faith, help others, visit prisoners, and seek justice.

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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

When Doors Won’t Open for Us

Monday, October 31st, 2016

A statement of frustration brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

OPENS

doorway“It feels like even when I’m at the right door it never opens for me.”

“Okay, tell me how it works.”

“It’s like I’m following my dream, doing the thing I think I’m called to do, but the door never opens.”

“So following your dream feels like you’re fighting yourself?”

“Exactly!”

“Well, here’s my theory. I think if you’re following your God-inspired dream, it shouldn’t feel like that. It may not be easy, but it shouldn’t feel like you’re fighting yourself.

“Can we try something?

“Sure.”

“Imagine Jesus is standing on the other side of that door, knocking. Please push the door open and let Him in.”

He reached for the handle. “You mean ‘Pull the door open,’ right? I can’t push it. It doesn’t open that way.”

“No, I’d really like you to push it. I believe that’s the way it’s supposed to happen.”

“But  can’t push it open.”

“Wait, are you telling me that if Jesus Himself was standing on the other side of that door you couldn’t push it open if I told you to?”

“Well, I could try, but that’s not the way it opens.”

“Do you think it’s possible that’s what happens with the doors of your dreams? I think sometimes we decide in advance not only WHAT should happen but EXACTLY HOW it should happen.

“Maybe you’re at the right door, but you’re absolutely certain you should push through it when that’s not the way it opens.”

The popular view says if the door doesn’t open, it wasn’t your door.

Maybe it simply opens the other way.

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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

Gremlins at Your Door?

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

A bunch of cute kids who rang our doorbell last Halloween bring us today’s word-of-the-week…

GREMLINS

They were all over our neighborhood.

We know they’re make-believe as we toss candy in their bags. The superheroes, princesses, goblins, and monsters are just the kids from down the street. It’s all in fun. Nobody’s afraid of them, because they’re not real.

The fear industry constantly knocks at our door dressed in monster masks, but they’re after something a lot more valuable than bite-sized chocolates. They want our principles.

They want us to believe Jesus was wrong, that our fear justifies violence and marginalizing or dismissing those who are different. They gain a great deal of money, power, and control from our fear of those make-believe gremlin masks.

The fear industry is lying, of course, but some of the masks appear awfully real. Even when you know it’s a mask it can still creep you out.

Jesus said, “Take courage. I am. Don’t be afraid.”

It wasn’t about never feeling fear, pretending to be brave when some scary gremlin shows up. He doesn’t want us faking it.

Jesus wants us to “take courage” from Him so we can face the fear rather than being controlled by it.

“I’m afraid” is a powerful, freedom-producing statement, especially if we can figure out what we’re afraid of. If it’s a neighborhood kid in a costume (which it usually is), we can laugh.

If it’s something real, we can choose to face it with courage.

What gremlins in fake masks have you been allowing to control you? Might be a good week to let go.

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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

Love isn’t a feeling

Friday, October 21st, 2016

A conversation from a long time ago prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

FEELING

thing-called-love“Love isn’t a feeling.”

My friend looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars. “Of course love is a feeling. When you fall in love, it’s the greatest feeling in the world!”

“And then you fall out of love and it’s the most horrible feeling in the world, right?” She nodded.

“And you always fall out of love, because that mushy-gushy feeling doesn’t last.

“Real love, the kind of love you can count on, is a decision.”

We had a long discussion that evening. My friend never gave up; it was years later that she quietly told me, a bit sadly, “I think you were right. Love is a decision.”

I’m reminded of this old conversation because a guy told me recently that his faith didn’t feel very strong. He wondered if something was wrong.

“Nothing’s wrong,” I assured him. “Feelings come and go. They are what they are. But…

“Faith isn’t a feeling. Real faith is a decision.”

Feelings matter. A lot. It’s good to understand, talk about, and share your feelings with God. But we need to keep them in their proper place.

Jesus said, “Take courage. I AM. Don’t be afraid.”

He wasn’t telling us to deny normal, natural feelings of fear. Everyone feels afraid at times. He asked us to decide, to choose not to be controlled by those feelings. And to assist, He placed Himself, I AM, in the center.

Don’t feel like forgiving? That’s likely pretty normal, but authentic forgiveness is a conscious decision. I choose to forgive despite my feelings, and when I slide into a desire for vengeance I lean on grace and forgive again.

Most of following Jesus isn’t nice, flowery, gooey feelings. It’s simple obedience and basic daily choices and messing up and starting again.

That’s all Jesus did, except for the messing up part. It’s what He asked of his friends.

And us.

What simple choices can you reaffirm? Might be a good week to accept your feelings without allowing them to take over. 

Adding Fuel to the Fire

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7 KJV


One of the hardest things for us to do is to be quiet when someone is attacking us with cruel and harsh words. In fact, it is impossible for us to be quiet because all of us are human. It takes the power of Jesus to control our tongues. It is only by allowing Him to work in our hearts and asking Him to please help us not to say anything harsh in return that we are able to be quiet.
When a fire in a fireplace starts going out and we add more logs to the fire, the flames shoot up and it starts burning brightly again and warms the room. Every time that we say something harsh back to someone who is saying criticizing and sarcastic words to us we are adding fuel to the fire of disharmony.

We read in the Bible:
But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3: 8-10)

It makes satan very happy when he can cause disharmony and chaos. When we say something unkind to someone, we are making him happy. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to make satan happy. Of course, just like you do, I sometimes lose my temper and say things that are unkind when someone attacks me. However, as soon as I realize what I have said, I ask Jesus to forgive me.

Several years ago, there was someone in my family that was constantly criticizing me and saying cruel and harsh words to me. I was devastated and I spent a lot of time crying. I also said very harsh and criticizing words back to this person. At that time, I had not surrendered everything to Jesus. I was saved but I hadntt given Him my life and everything that I said or did. I hadntt asked Him to please help me control my tongue.

I went to my pastor and shared how this person was constantly saying unkind and harsh words to me. I was honest and told my pastor that many times I lost my temper and I said unkind and harsh words back to this person. My pastor told me that Jesus has said that we are to be peacemakers but that He never told us that we had to be doormats for someone to walk all over us.

My pastor advised me that the next time this person starting yelling at me and saying cruel words to immediately leave the room. The pastor said “When you say cruel words back to this person, you are only adding fuel to the fire.” My pastor then told me that I needed to pray and ask God to help me keep my mouth shut when someone said unkind things to me.

It has taken God many years to give me an unconditional love for people.
I had a terrible temper and would even curse people. Thank God for His mercy and forgiveness! If someone is criticizing you and saying harsh and unkind things to you, ask God to please help you keep quiet. It is only as you give your tongue to Him and allow Him to help you that you will be able to be quiet when someone attacks you.

If ever someone had a right to say unkind, harsh and critical words to someone, it was Jesus. When He was here on earth, He was criticized, cursed, ridiculed and rejected yet He never cursed them back or yelled at them. He really does understand how much it hurts us and how it devastates us when someone attacks us with harsh and unkind words. Give Jesus control of your tongue and you will live a much more peaceful life.

Joanne Lowe

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