My sister Millye, my WW Nelda and I are driving to Carmichael this morning to spend the day with my brother Cliff, along with my other sisters, Naomi and Betty.
Doyle, we will miss U!
Cliff’s wife Susan recently “won” her battle with ALS. I must say it that way, because the disease did not!!! defeat her. Yes, it stole her body, but EVERYTHING ELSE that Susan was remained intact.
Nelda and I agree, (as we do with most things) – Susan was the most amazing woman we know. Her journey through ALS served to expose and strengthen her core of deep faith, humor and loving care for others.
I remember at the beginning, her thought was “How can this struggle be used to help others?” I saw her embrace this new fight in the same way she approached every facet of her life. Through it all, her favorite phrase remained: “It is well with my soul!” (take note of the tagline in the cover picture on her blog)
As an expression of her concern for others, she started a blog called “SusansSteps”.
We who followed her blog have been blessed, challenged, saddened, amused, loved, enriched and encouraged.
It is totally appropriate, and so much “Just like Susan” that in this last post, she declares that this is her GRADUATION.
SUSAN, You did it with the highest honors!!!
P.S. To read her blog from the beginning, start HERE.
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?
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!
How do I get from HERE to THERE?
How did I get HERE?
I am a WRITER!
But… I’m not writing
I have a gift for sharing, One – on – One
But… I’m isolating
I’m very task – oriented
But… @ What Price?
I have SO MUCH to do
But… why don’t I, why won’t I – ask for help!?
I THINK‘n THINK‘n THINKn THINK!n TH…
In (stormy) circles, getting nowhere
I enjoy being generous‘n sharing with others…
So… why am I feeling so alone?
I believe in BABY STEPs
So… why am I (do I seem to be) frozen in place?
I’m a BLOGGER
Who has stopped blogging!
I KNOW!!! GOD Loves me!!!!
Why does He seem to be in the other room?
With the door closed?
S I R J A M E S !!!
U sneaky, hiding, lying-in-wait-for-me-
T E R R O R I S T !!
I thought U’d been defeated!
I stopped watching for Ur tricks…
It had been so long since I’d heard from U!
I didn’t recognize U when U snuck up on me!
Hmmm, Maybe, Just Maybe,
Is much closer than I thought!!
T O D A Y ...
A New Year? Yes,
A New Beginning?
NO, Just another Baby Step
And learning (once again) to listen to
The Right Voice!
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!!
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.
For longer than a year, I’ve been in the process of adding 250 sq’ to the back of my house. We’ve added a 10×16 sitting room to our bedroom plus a small office. Yesterday I FINALLY started laying the new laminate flooring in the sitting room portion of the addition. The floor had already been installed in the office. In fact, we’d moved in the desk and furniture and it’s been in use.
So… yesterday’s work did NOT go as well as I had planned and hoped for. Even with the great helper I had working with me. (my WW) She made most of it fun!!
The main problem was that I had too much STUFF already in the room. I didn’t take it out. My thought was: “I’ll just work around it and move it out of my way as I get to it.”
The inevitable difficulties one encounters when attempting to do something I’ve only done a few times before were made immeasurably worse by The (good) Stuff in the Way.
My plan was that I would move it out-of-the-way in order to install the flooring and then move it back into place after the floor was done. That’s where my plan failed. I kept running into unforeseen problems that required me to go back and start again in areas that had already been done. Of course this required me to move the stuff again. And again. And then, even again!! I even had to remove part of the (finished) floor in the office. Of course, THAT meant all the office furniture was in the way!!
As my WW and I took a lunch break I begin to reflect on what we were doing. I began to wonder how much all the stuff in my life interferes with the important things I want to accomplish. How much time and effort is wasted because I still have to deal with STUFF? How often do I just move stuff from place to place instead of taking care of it once and for all?
So, Today, God’s been yakking at me. Again! He’s showing me the lesson that he has for me in all this if I will stop, listen and pay attention.
I think today God’s saying; “Jim, it’s time to clean out some of the stuff in your life so U’n I can concentrate on the work that is important.”
My life is full! Busy! Of GOOD things. Much of the misery and unhealthy habits that drove me into that darkness have been replaced. But the goal is PROGRESS, not perfection! I don’t have to deal (so much) with the consequences of the things I used to do. But – what are the things I need to say “NO” to, because it’s “too much GOOD, not enough BEST!”
LORD, examine me, show me those things in my life that are In The Way. Show me the things which are interfering with that work which U began in me. U promised to continue the work, but help me get out of Ur way.
A few weeks ago, one of our pastors shared this thought: “Watch out for the GOOD things U encounter that don’t have Ur name on them – learn to say ‘NO’ to the things that are not meant for YOU!”
BTW, We finally got the flooring finished!
P.S. – Writing is one of those BEST things I’ve been neglecting. My friend Jon challenged me on FB the other day; “Hey, Jim, now that the addition is winding down, GET BACK TO WRITING!!!
YesSir, JonBoy!! and THKQ