Category Archives: CELEBRATE RECOVERY

Have U Ever DATED God?

I realized tonight that for most of my life God and I had a dating relationship.

My WW said that’s a very strange way to put it. But stick with me, I think U’ll “get it” like she did after we discussed it awhile.

I would call Him or He would call me and we’d set up a time to get together. Or, I would go to places where I’d been told I could find Him. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t.

In the meantime, we would each go our separate ways. (at least, from my perspective, that’s what was happening) There were even times I’d find myself wanting to date others – because… Well, just because! That’s what I did.

One of the things I remember about our dating days is the feeling that I needed to always be on my best behaviors when we were together. I think that’s one reason I didn’t call Him more – He might not like the real me. The one I tried to keep hidden from others.

The 12th step in Celebrate Recovery says:

Having had a spiritual experience, we carry this message to others.”

I had a father and mother who were both ordained ministers, so I grew up with Jesus in my life. I can say that I had Lots’nLots’nLots of spiritual experiences. And they were just that. (and yet, more) I had an experience here, an experience next week, an AWESOME  time in His Presence at summer youth camp. While at camp, I was just sure that, “when I get home, God’n I are going to be happy and together for the rest of my life.”  Then, once again, life would get in my way. And my awareness of God would fade away. Until I’d call on Him or He’d call me and we’d get together again – for awhile.

3.1/2 years ago, when I entered the rooms of Alcoholic Anonymous, I read the AA step 12 –

Having had a spiritual AWAKENING, we carry this message to others.”

Through the processes and steps of recovery, and through God revealing Jesus to me in ways I’d never dreamed, He’s brought an AWAKENING to our relationship. I finally said “I DO” to His Invitation. I discovered how deep and lasting His commitment is to me. Even at times, if not usually, in spite of me.

He’s taught me more about HOW He loves than I ever dreamed. His LOVE for ME is the base of our relationship. The experiences He brings into my life today build upon that foundation and fit glove in hand upon yesterday’s experiences. I now know and trust that tomorrow’s will fit into today’s as well.

God and I are no longer dating. He Loved me until I discovered Him. Now, I Love and Trust Him in return. I love Him Because He Loved me first!

ItReallyIsJustThatSimple 

TRUST w/o UNDERSTANDING?

I spent 50+ years trying to figure out and UNDERSTAND my life. I could take U to the recovery room, I could show U the light that came on as I read step #3 that said “Turn Ur life and will over to the care of a loving God as U understand Him.”

I thought: “I can never understand God. If I could, I’d be God. He is and I’m not.” 

So I decided to stop trying to understand. 

It was as if I stepped thru a gate that had been locked. That decision set me free in ways that I did not know (understand) I had been bound. 

I discovered that MY UNDERSTANDING was not the important thing. I became able to Trust (God) in ways that had been beyond me. 

In the coming months, I found out it was MY EGO that had been driving my QUEST to understand. 

I’ve said it before, it’s still true: GOD and my EGO are not compatible. I find that strange, because they are roommates. They both live inside of me. 

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/2014/01/18/hotel-ego/

Pain From 1-10

         On a scale of 1-10, what is the level of pain in Ur  life? 

Have U ever walked into a Dr’s office and seen this?



Something I’ve never understood is how individuals have different pain thresholds. 

That which would be a pain level of 6 or 7 for me and send me to the ER seems to be no worse than a stubbed toe for others. 

BTW – a very interesting blog about managing chronic physical pain is HERE

It’s said that people who live with chronic pain get used to it.  My wife has lived with a pain that started when she was pregnant with our daughter. (no – I’m not talking about myself) To this day, I’ll ask her if she’s taken anything for it. Lots of times her reply is ” I didn’t even think about it.” Me, on the other hand , will run for the Advil with the slightest twinge. 

While I have lived (and am grateful for it) a relatively physically pain-free life, the same cannot be said about my emotions. At the age of 11, a 6th-grade classroom prank that turned ugly began a lifetime of guilt and shame in me. More than 50 years later, I finally recognized the teacher’s part. I finally recognized that if Mr.M had handled his anger differently, my shame could have been eliminated. On that September day in 1956, I could have survived un-damaged. Fortunately, I realized that blaming him would not provide healing for me. 

I LUV!!! listening to stories of RECOVERY!! I have sat in recovery meetings and listened as men and women relate absolutely horrendous stories of abuse, abandonment, neglect and pain. Stories that made me realize, again, how my pain fades into nothingness in comparison. 

But I’ve also learned that comparison is not only the Thief of Joy , it is also an obstacle to healing. I’ve never forgotten one of the first Bits’oWisdom I heard in an AA meeting: “Listen for the similarities. We all have different stories, but in SO MANY ways, we are all the same.

Growing up in church, I remember listening as guest speakers would tell their stories of life-transformation. I remember thinking “I’ll never have a story to tell. Maybe I should go be bad for awhile.” The cause of my pain paled in comparison to that which they had experienced. So I excused and hid mine. I diminished the effects my pain was causing me. It prevented my healing. “After all, what do I have to complain about? My life has been SO MUCH BETTER than his!” 

BUT – MY pain is MY pain! UR pain is UR pain!! I CANNOT measure the level of hurt U carry. U will never be able to gauge the pain I feel. 

 I am a firm believer in the 12-step process of recovery. I’ve experienced it, I’ve witnessed it in others. I also believe in BABY-STEPS in recovery.  

Yes, God can perform miracles and provide miraculous, “over-night” healing. But the normal healing process involves Baby-Step after Baby-Step, repeated daily. The 5-year process of healing is just as miraculous as that which happens in a moment. And much more common. Most of us did not fall into our pit over nite, in one giant leap or one sudden fall. Healing doesn’t happen over nite either, in one giant leap or one momentous decision. It’s Baby-Step by Baby-Step, repeated Daily! 

Lots of times, perhaps even, usually, I don’t recognize the baby-steps I take until the next day. Or the next week. Or months. My growth is usually seen in hindsight. Or by others. 

The truest healing happens in our thinking processes, not in our daily behavior. Our daily behavior is, of course , the most visible, but until our THINKING changes, we have not truly changed.  

Bottom line, recovery boils down to a change of heart. 

SATURDAY GRATITUDES #4

IT HAPPENED AGAIN!

I’ve been up – in my morning chair since 4 AM. “Really Lord can’t we do this at another time instead of this ungodly hour?” Oh, wait…

Some six years ago in the first year of this journey God has been taking me on, my Bible developed the habit of falling open at Jeremiah 18:4.

“…but the pot he was shaping was marred in his hand. So the potter
formed it into another pot, shaping it as seems best to him
.

potter at work1

THIS MORNING IT HAPPENED AGAIN! it’s now about 6:15. I’ve had coffee, checked FB, sent a ThkQ to Jon for his help yesterday, snuggled with Logan, and wrote a blog post. (for another day) Then I dozed for a few minutes!

Logan stole my iPhone and took it to his bedroom so I pulled my Bible out of its slot and it opened to…. Sure’nough, Jeremiah 18:4

6 years ago, this verse was a promise of what God was doing in and for me. Today I see it as a fulfillment of that process. For the past 6 1/2 years, He’s been shaping me into a vessel suitable for His purpose.

Lest I come across as arrogant, let me assure you that for most of this journey, I’ve been dragged by Him, kicking and screaming all the way. AA has a phrase that applies here – “looking for a softer more gentle way.” I don’t want the rough road. I prefer the peaceful path through the meadow. I don’t like the 2×4 whops to the ego. I like the gentle nudges, the velvet covered slaps to the back of my head.

But HE knows what works best in me. He has been RELENTLESSLY FAITHFUL to do for me that which HE knows is for my ultimate best and for His purpose.

AND FOR THAT, ON THIS EARLY SATURDAY MORNING,
I AM GRATEFUL

What about you? RU in process? Do you long to lay down beside the quiet stream and rest for a while? RU instead feeling the knife of the Master Physician cutting deep? RU in recovery from past wounds? Have U begun to recognize the shape of the vessel He has been forming in U? Yesterday? Last week? Last months? RU getting a glimpse of his purpose in you? Please share with us.

My dream and vision for this blog is for it to be a “digital-small-group” recovery meeting room. THAT can only happen if U share.

WE ARE HERE TO SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER – NOT FIX EACH OTHER
(Celebrate Recovery small group guideline#3)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future
Jerimiah 29:11(NIV)

planforU2

Contemplative Monday Mrng

Up since 5:35. Why, Oh – Why is it easier to get up early now than when I was working and HAD to? #BeenRetired5years

But that’s not the REAL Q I’m contemplating this morning.

I was scheduled to have two guys from Teen Challenge here this morning to help work on the addition to our house. I called and postponed till Wed or Thur. I just need to be quiet today.

TC@house2

In the past , I’ve been wary of days like this. Because my thoughts would veer off into undesirable paths. Not necessarily evil paths. (well, sometimes) but unhealthy avenues. At times like this I’d pull a tool out of my “backpack”. And use it to be hard on myself.

So I called and postponed until Wednesday. I need a quiet day. Yeah, that may be a bit difficult with the TWINZ on holiday. lol. Maybe we’ll all go on a picnic. But I digress…

If you read my post from Tuesday, U’ll remember the Q – “What’s Next“?

Yesterday at New Life Church, Celebrate Recovery was the featured ministry of the weekend. Pastor Doug shared a special recovery-centered message. CR had the center tent on the patio.

I made a point of standing behind the table for all 5 services. What a privilege to speak with some as they came up. Conversations with others behind the table in the lull moments was humbling. But it was where I was s’pose to be, doing what I was doing.

So – again, I ask – What’s next? For some time now, I’ve sensed that the audience of my blog is to be the Brokens. Those who have, as CR calls them, Hurts, Habits ‘n Hangups.

But how do I get from Here to There?

So it’s now 6:33 PM. I’m on my way to CR and have been contemplating this all day. D’ya know what I’ve figured out? NOTHIN’! Not one bloomin’ thing!

Except – I remembered the post from yesterday. The one called From There to Here. He reminded me. Him. The One who heals me. He asked me what I did to get from There to Here. From that brokenness to this place of healing. Do you know what I came up with? NOTHIN’! In fact, I STOPPED doing a whole lotta stuff I thought was keeping Him happy with me.

Then He had a suggestion for me. He suggested why don’t I do the same thing now. He said that I usually just get in His way. He said things would go a lot better if I would just relax and let HIM do it. He also suggested that I pay attention to see what happens. I might be surprised. He promised to let me know if He needs me. I can hardly wait!

Take a guess at what Sir James thinks about that. If you’re new and you don’t know who Sir James is you can read about him here. Sir James doesn’t like it when he doesn’t get his way!!

It’s now 6:45. I think I’ll go in to Celebrate Recovery and worship for a while and leave all this other stuff up to HIM

Oh, BTW – we did go on the picnic with the TWINZ.

 

#20/21 day challenge

SATURDAY GRATITUDEs 3

U can read part 1 HERE
U can read part 2 HERE

DID I GET GRATEFUL BECAUSE THINGS (PEOPLE) CHANGED OR
DID THINGS (PEOPLE) CHANGE BECAUSE I GOT GRATEFUL?

Hi! My name is JIM. I’m a grateful believer in Jesus. I am finding victories
over codependency and compulsive people-pleasing
.”

THAT is how I usually introduce myself at our Monday night Celebrate Recovery meetings. I sometimes change it to “…a life-long believer who came to Celebrate Recovery and learned to be grateful.”

Probably one of the first truly important lessons I learned in CR was that I could, AND NEEDED, to say “NO!” I had found myself saying “YES” when I really wanted to say “NO”, and failing to follow through on most of my “YES”s. I found myself overwhelmed with people, activities, promises and commitments.

GRATEFUL??? I was angry, weary, and lonely. GOD was just another One who I felt kept demanding me to be something other than what I could be.

My journey from that place of darkness into the light(ness) of GRATITUDE began because I finally had to stop trying to be everybody’s hero. I was asked to lead a CR group. I said NO.(nicely) I was asked to teach a lesson. I said NO.(nicer) I said NO and the world continued to spin!! But something important was happening inside of me.

I began to find out what “I” wanted to be and do , instead of what everybody else expected of me. I became more content with me. I began to find “ME”  I became more GRATEFUL. I began to discover who GOD had made me to be.

The GRATITUDE I live with more and more with each passing day has been an inner work. That PEACE I have with ME has changed the relationship I have with people, places and things. And with GOD.

As I learned to say “NO“, I discovered that when I DID say “YES“, I was able to do so with more enthusiasm and intention to follow through.

OK, I guess I said all that to say this… People changed because I changed. Things in my life changed because I changed. I changed because GOD kicked me broken into a deep dark pit and then reached in and rescued me. For that I will be eternally grateful!

*PROCESS*
Never Perfection
But Always
*PROGRESS*

#18/21 day challenge

SATURDAY GRATITUDES 2

Read Part 1 HERE.

HOW DID I GET FROM THERE TO HERE“?

I’ve written about this before, but one of the major reasons for the amount of GRATITUDE I have in my life happened in an AA meeting.

I had been becoming more and more aware of the inconsistency of my gratitude. On this particular Saturday morning, I was attending a 7:00 men’s meeting, along with about 80 others.

The “Chairperson” introduced himself by saying: “Hi, I’m Joe-Pete-Sam. I am addicted to ‘MORE‘”

I immediately knew exactly what he meant. And it gave me an answer to my Q. I was always waiting, intending to be grateful “tomorrow”, when I got “more”. Trouble is, THAT tomorrow seldom came. So I was seldom grateful.

An amazing thing happens when I sit in recovery meetings, either in AA or Celebrate Recovery and listen to others share their stories. I sometimes hear mine. In the ensuing days and weeks, I found myself not waiting until tomorrow to be grateful for what I had.

As I learned to be grateful for what I had – TODAY!! – It became more than I thought.

#12/21

One Box! Open Just One Box at a Time!

I started attending Celebrate Recovery because I could no longer live with myself. My secrets were destroying me. In CR I found a safe place to begin to unload.

After 30 or so months in CR, my journey took me into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. There I found even more baggage. No wonder I could never keep my load balanced. Every time I tried to find a “Parking Place on the Pink Cloud” the load in my trailer would pull me back down.

pink cloud3

I had to unload the trailer, one box at a time. Then – throw the stooopid box away!!! I had a habit of keeping all the boxes – “just in case I need it someday”. Guess what – I always did.

Today, my high school classmate Kurt suggested that I unhook the trailer and “get on down the road”. If only it had been that simple. At times I felt like I was pulling a convoy.

For me, part of the “secret” has been taking a series of baby steps, one box after another. I learned to keep an eye open for the treasures buried in the box. At some point the process stopped being garbage disposal and became a Treasure Hunt.

Today, I don’t park on a pink cloud, neither am a building a palace there. In AA, a pink cloud is a newcomer’s experience. What I HAVE done is traded a trailer loaded with trash for a heart and life full of recovered and discovered gems I cherish.

Some of the most important gems I have now are renewed relationships with family and friends. (Old’nNew)

But the best treasure of all is the relationship I have between myself and my “Higher Power, whom I call JESUS. He’s been the ultimate “secret” that has brought me thus far.

Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest
Matthew 11:28

#11/21

T.B.T. #6

What? Another #6? …Yes, last week was actually #5. This post will be included in the Oooops Category.  …Frist Mistrek I’ce maid tihs weak!!

How often have U “waited for the other shoe to drop“? Yesterday morning I woke up feeling VERY grateful. For no particular reason, it was “just one of those mornings. In fact, if I were to count up and relate the troubled situations in my life, U’d more than likely say: “Wow, and I thought I had problems!” In fact, “John” said that very thing to me about 11:30 yesterday. B.T.W, 36 hours later, I’m still grateful and I’m still waiting for that shoe. (But I’m not really paying attention)

I have not always been grateful. In fact, gratitude has been a rather elusive commodity in the past for me.

A year ago this week I posted:

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/2014/02/01/the-real-me-part-2/

Part of the reason I am walking more and more in gratitude is because I wear fewer masks than I used to. Discovering THE REAL ME has been the hardest task I’ve ever encountered, but “living in the body of a good friend” is an amazing way to live. It’s been well worth the journey.

PS: My WW enjoys it more, too!

#10/21

Not Another Excuse!

photo 2.3.15

One of my definitions of Recovery is:

IDENTIFICATION, ACCEPTANCE and OVERCOMING  EXCUSES

When I learned that progress in my RECOVERY required me to make amends for damage done by me to others, I began to be more careful of how I acted or spoke. It became a matter of self-accountability. It also “keeps my side of the street cleaner“.

I hate saying “I’m Sorry”! So now I try to act so I don’t have to say it. Because: “If I NEED to say it, I HAVE to say it.” PROGRESS in my RECOVERY requires it.