Category Archives: DWELL

A Theme, not Resolutions

Rainy Monday Morning Musings…

Yesterday at New Life Church, Pastor Gary shared he “is not one to make New Year Resolutions.” I totally identified with him. Pastor Ben had already made the same statement, so I feel I’m in good company. Gary then went on the say he likes the idea of living with a yearly THEME rather than a list of resolutions.

I’ve had several words that could describe my journey over the past few (7) years of recovery. Each one seemed to build upon the last. Can I call them THEMES?

•   I think the first was “LOVE!” As in when God said: “Jim, I want to begin to teach U just how much I LOVE U!  I’ve spent much my life trying to get Him to Love me more. He showed me that He doesn’t do “much” or “more“. S’prise, S’prise, S’prise! He already does!! LOVE! (me) as much as He ever will – and always has.

  The next theme was “TRUST“. Love and Trust have become two sides of the same coin in my life. I can’t have one without the other. in ALL my relationships. The more I discovered God’s Love for me, the more I came to Trust Him. The more I Trust Him, the more I Love Him. U see, “MORE”  “TRUST” is on my side of the fence. It’s already all been done from His side. His greatest purpose in my life is to teach me how to grow in that.

  As I recall, it was Jan 10, 3 or 4 years ago. I was sick that Sunday morning, and as a result I attended the 5:30 service. One of the advantages of that later service is that we don’t have to hurry, so as I knelt at the altar that evening, the word “STILL” was on my mind. As in… “Be Still – and KNOW“! It became my theme for the year. I didn’t go home after service and make a list (of resolutions) describing how I was going to learn to BE STILL, but by November, I was amazed to recognize how the turmoil and storms of my life had calmed. I’d love to be able to say it was the end of my struggles, but I can’t, because of the next theme:

 •   HONESTY. Alcoholics Anonymous uses the term “Rigorous Honesty“. One of the reasons I ended up in Celebrate Recovery 7 years ago was because of the masks I had learned to wear. I had gotten lost behind the secrets. Guess What!!! SECRETS make us lie!! The biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. A young lady once shared with me: “He can’t tell me the truth, because he doesn’t know the truth himself.” It’s been a difficult journey to move out from behind the masks into honesty, from that place of hiding. It still calls to me. It seems like a place of safety, but it quickly becomes a dark, lonely place.

•  I could show U the very spot I was standing when a man called me “SIR JAMES. U can read about him here and here. One of the best things that ever happened to me in recovery is when I found out who SIR JAMES is. I’d LOVE to be able to say “he was“, but I will never be completely free from him. (pssst – we all have a “Sir James” that lives in us!) I can say however, he is nowhere near as dominant as he used to be.

  THEMES… LOVE, TRUST, Be STILL, HONESTY, SIR JAMES…, I could go on. But I said all that to say this; as Gary was sharing yesterday, this word came to my mind… “DEEPER“. On the way to church yesterday morning, my daughter shared her word of the year with us: “BLOOM. Then my youngest grandson shared his: “FAITH.”  He then changed it to “EMMANUEL” (either one is fine with his PaPa) His mother asked him if he knew what that meant, and he said “God With Us“!!

But I digress…    What does “DEEPER” mean for me this year?  I’m sure I don’t have much of a clue as yet. But if U read my last post, U might understand my trepidation as I contemplate what it might mean and where it might take me. I have to remember the theme of “STILL” and how I didn’t see it’s progress at first. Can I TRUST that SomeOne knows more about it than I do?

DEEPER… in

Relationships?
His Word?
Wisdom?

Generosity?
Prayer?
???

Time will tell…. Stay tuned, it should be interesting! and scary!! MY favorite word, perhaps the underlying theme of this journey is PROCESS. I’m glad He’s teaching (taught) me that HE knows so much more about the process than I do. After all, He’s God! I’m not!

Monday Morng Musings II

It was an amazing day when I discovered I could trust God beyond my capacity to understand Him. 

My ego says: “God, I need to understand You before I trust You.”
Truth says: “Because He’s God, He’s beyond my understanding.”
Faith says: “I can have a relationship with Him that is Beyond my Understanding.That allows me trust Him more.
GOD says: “Jim, if U understood, U would not need to trust.”

Rick Warren tweet – Nov 9, 2013:  “If God was small enough for me to completely understand him, he wouldn’t be big enough for me to completely trust Him.”

It was about 8 years ago when I wrote in my journal; “God, I’m beginning to realize that I don’t trust U in the way I know U want me to.”

Please teach me to TRUST YOU MORE!”   

I had NO IDEA what I was praying for. My life turned upside down and inside out in ways I did not know was possible.

Today, I still have to say: “God, I’m beginning to realize that I don’t trust U in the way I know U want me to.”

“Please teach me to TRUST YOU MORE!”   

The thing is, today I better understand the “danger” of that prayer – kinda like praying for patience, there might be only one way to learn it!

T.B.T.#11

ThrowBackThursday #11

My wife’n I just celebrated our 49th anniversary. I brought her these flowers and a card. Silly, romantic fool that I am, I spent an extra $3 for another Rose ’cause ’13’ has ALWAYS been our special number!! 

 
And that’s all I / we did. This was the most laid back anniversary we’ve had in 49 years. Except for the first two when I was in Japan, Okinawa, Vietnam, and she was living with my parents in Antioch, California. We usually manage to get away for at least two or three days. This year we didn’t and that was OK. Oh – we did go to breakfast the next morning. Next year is 50! So we’re making plans…

Part of the reason it was quieter this year is because I spent the day with my Teen Challenge boys at New Life Church.

At the end of the day, as I left to go home I was remarking to a couple of the guys that I’d be making a stop on the way to buy her some flowers. I said: 

Imagine with me for a moment how I would feel if, when walking through the door with the flowers, I get this response from her:”

“Sweetheart, that was so nice of you to do that for me, but I’m afraid I just can’t accept your gift. BECAUSE I’M NOT WORTHY OF IT!” I haven’t done enough for you. There are too many things in my past I still need to make up for. I still have to get you to Forgive me before I can accept the flowers. Honey, you know that I keep trying to be a better wife for you, but I’m just not sure how I can ever be deserving. Please tell me how I need to change!”

As I spoke the words, I realized how crushed I would feel to get that response from her. I was reminded of this post. How many times in my past have I wanted to come before the LORD, but because of my past, because of my sin, because of my failure, because I felt unworthy, because I thought I needed forgiveness FIRST, I turned away? 

If I, as a husband would be crushed to have my offer of Love rejected, do we not grieve the heart of God by rejecting His Love?

I wrote this on my blog 2 years ago last week. Please follow this link and let its words pierce your heart as it did mine (again) this morning…

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/2013/10/20/know-gods-love/

My Side of the Fence

I was yakking with my friend Jon yesterday afternoon. During our conversation I used a phrase that’s been on my mind lately. Then I remarked: “That sounds like the title to a blogpost! I better write it down before it slips my mind. Well, we continued talking and I didn’t, then last night couldn’t recall what I had said.

Funny, in our conversation, we’d mentioned that both our memories aren’t what they used to be. I like to blame mine on age. lol

Anyway, this morning, it came back to me!!! Yay!! …but I digress. Q – can U get sidetracked before U’re even on track? So, anyway… Moving on….

At Celebrate Recovery, we learned that we are only responsible for cleaning up OUR side of the street. If I hurt someone and need to make amends, I am only responsible for my apology, not for their reaction to that apology. (unless I make it worse by the words or attitude I use) I can choose to make “Living Amends,” which means I learn from their hurt and choose to treat them differently  because of it.

Likewise, If I am hurt by someone, I am only responsible for my reaction. I can choose to forgive their action without any evidence of change on their part. Part of my responsibility may include establishing boundaries to protect myself in the relationship. Learning to set boundaries means I need to understand what is on my side of the street (fence) and what is not.

In so many ways, this has made my life easier. I am powerless to control other people. At the beginning of this understanding, it felt incredibly selfish. “I am only responsible for ME?”?!?!? That was so contrary to how I had always lived.

Hi, my name is Jim. I’m a grateful believer in Jesus, but I struggle with co-dependency and compulsive people-pleasing.” 

The C.R. small-group 3rd guideline states: We are here to support one another, not FIX another!” I’m learning the difference between support and fixing. Between influence and control. Between talking and listening. (OK,  I’m still working on that one) I’m learning that I have Influence over other people, but I can lose that influence in direct proportion to the amount of Control I exert.

This understanding is revolutionizing my relationships. With other people. With myself. Even with God! When I first heard the 3rd small-group guideline, my reaction was: Really? REALLY?!? D’ya mean it’s not my God-Given Responsibilty to FIX Problems I see in the lives of Others?” 

Gradually, I’m coming to realize how much I was playing God in the lives of Others.  I’ve seen how much I was focused on what I perceived to be the failures of Others instead of their Value. This new understanding is leading me to be more accepting of where and who they are instead of what and who I suppose they should be, do, say and think. As I release CONTROL, I’m recognizing that I’m having a greater INFLUENCE.

In the words of that great Mayberry philosopher Gomer Pyle, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE!!!

Wow! This is NOT where I thought this was going to go when I started this post. Where’d all THAT come from?!? What I had in mind is perhaps a major result of this process. Perhaps I needed to say all that in order to better understand this:

THIS thought is what has been percolating in this cyclonic mind of mine the past few days –

FROM GOD’s SIDE OF THE FENCE, EVERYTHING HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE

ALL THE CHANGES NEEDED IN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM ARE ON MY SIDE OF THE FENCE!

Now comes the Surprise,Surprise,Surprise; 

Just as the veil in the temple was ripped in half from top to bottom when Jesus said from the Cross, It is Finished,” John 13:30

THE FENCE HAS BEEN TORN DOWN!! 

Jesus IS NOT peeking over the fence like a nosy neighbor prying into Ur business.  

He’s pitched a tent in Ur back yard. He’s sitting in Ur living room. He’s sleeping in Ur spare bedroom. He’s sitting in a chair at Ur dinner table. 

But He’s the most gentle and respectful house guest U’ve ever had. He only goes where he’s invited. 

It’s up to YOU! He longs to be more than a guest. He wants to be FAMILY!!

P.S… U don’t have to clean house, U don’t have to make the bed, wash the windows, scrub the floor, do the dishes, paint the walls, clear out the sheds, trim the hedge before U let Him in. 

For most of my life, I did not understand that He could/would live in a broken heart. Then one dark(est) day, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! He began to heal me from the inside out. 

He continues to surprise me. 

SURRENDER!!…?

I grew up singing: “I surrender, I surrender all!”  We were encouraged to completely commit the rest of our lives to Him – NOW! Today!!

That may have been just my perception, but that’s what I kept trying to do.

Tried, couldn’t do it.  Wanted to. Kept falling down. Didn’t know what to do with my failure. Wanted to quit trying. Did…, for awhile.

Now I know. Now I (am beginning to) understand – Better!

PROCESS!!
BABY STEPS!!

God takes what we can give to Him TODAY and waits patiently until tomorrow becomes today and we get to do it again. And… again, the next day! And…

In the meantime, He asks us to just take a walk.

With Him. With His Son. Jesus. His Holy Spirit goes too.

  • Pay attention, son. I have something important to tell you.

“There is now therefore NO CONDEMNATION, (Anger, Impatience, Rejection) toward us – from Him.”

TALK? or LISTEN?

MARK, a l.o.n.g-time family friend posted this on FB this morning…

“I got a question for you…” (cause I already answered it for me)

OK, here it is: What do you think would benefit you more, more time alone with God (meditation, prayer, etc)? Or more time in His Word? (the Holy Bible)

My comment was as follows: 

I used to think the only time I was with The Lord was when I was quiet, reading and/or praying. Or at church worshipping. 

When I’d wake up in the morning, already too late to get to work on time, I’d make Him a promise as I rushed past our “morning place” – “Tomorrow, Lord, I Promise!” Until then, “Well, see’ya later…” I figured if I didn’t make time for Him, He didn’t have time for me. 

But I’ve learned SO MUCH more about How He Loves Me!

To answer Ur Q, Mark, let me ask U one… “Is it more important to talk to my wife or listen to her

“YES!”

This post applies: “Have U ever DATED God?”

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/2015/03/23/have-u-ever-dated-god/

and this one: “Morning Time”

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/2013/07/27/morning-time/

 Addition #3

I’ve only blogged a couple of times about the addition I’m doing to my house. It’s been a 5-month project. THAT was after all the time I spent drawing the plans and getting the permit.
U might want to go HERE and read about why I’m “doing all the work” myself


As I was sitting in an AA meeting at noon today, it dawned on me that ALMOST ALL of the help I’ve had has been with guys who are attending recovery meetings.

One guy who’s helping, I met through this blog.

He made a comment on a post, I replied, then he did again. I asked him where he was located. (I had just gotten a new subscriber in Australia and one in England, so he could have been anywhere in the world! As it turns out we go to church together. S’prise, S’prise, S’prise! 

He came over and helped yesterday, along with Ralph‘nMarty from Teen ChallengeWe had an OUTSTANDING day. At lunch, we talked about our journeys into recovery. It turned into a patio table small group meeting. 

At the end of the day, I had the following conversation with him: (he’s in blue, I’m in green)

 Him:     Jim, I sure wish I’d been more productive today

 Me:    Jon, I am so pleased with all we accomplished today. I couldn’t have asked for more

Him:     Yeah, Jim, but I wanted to get more done for U

 Me:      Jon, just the fact that we were able to spend the time today working and sharing together was awesome

  Me:     “My friend, I am in NO WAY disappointed in U or Ur work!!  In fact, Jon, very soon, I would like for us to set aside all this work we’re doing and spend some time together, alone, just U’nMe. I’m available anytime UR. Just let me know when!”

Now…, take just one more minute…, replaceJimwithJesus‘ and ‘Jon‘ with Ur name, then read the conversation again!!

D’ya get it!?!?