Category Archives: SERENITY

Today’s New Word

Which comes first? Comparing or Complaining?

Lately, I’ve realized (again) just how deadly comparisons can be.
I had an epiphany a while back. (I always wanted one of those! lol)
I realized the majority (all?) of the complaining I do comes because I compare.
I compare how other people in my life treat me with how I think I deserve to be treated.
I compare my life with what I expected it to be by now – Or with what I still want it to be… someday, tomorrow. Or with what I think I remember how it USED to be. I compare
my intentions with the results I see in the lives of others. I compare what I KNOW
is inside me with what others allow me to see in their lives. I  compare… with
sometimes – usually – deadly results. So often, the end result of my
comparing drives me into a pit. Then, I open my mouth…

I coined a new word the other day

 “COMPLAIRING”
verb – The act of complaining because we have compared and fallen short.
noun – The art of verbalizing an inner turmoil

Not all comparisons turn out like this…

my life

How many of us can say: “My life did not go as I planned“?
How do we get to the point of saying “But That’s OK!”

As I’ve said in previous posts, COMPARISON is a thief of joy.

About 2 years ago, I realized how fleeting gratitude was for me
I had seasons of appreciating what and who was in my life, but
then the storm would come and it would all blow away like smoke
One day I listened as a guy shared: “Hi, I’m ‘Joe’, I’m addicted to MORE!

Ah Ha!” said I, “That’s me!” Whatever I have in my life, I want – “MORE!
When I compare today with yesterday and have MOREI’m grateful for it
But if I compare and find less, Woe is me and all those around me…

I have perfected the art of COMPLAIRING.
i sometimes think I have a master’s degree in it.
But I’m learning – HE is teaching me,- to CHOOSE to be GRATEFUL

Philipians 4:6-8

LITTLE THINGS!

More often than not, it’s the LITTLE THINGS I do that make a difference in my life and marriage.

soap

For YEARS, I constantly had to pick up the soap when I was taking a shower. Most of the time, it was not because I dropped it, but because it slipped off the rack. No matter how carefully I placed the bar on the rack, it slid off. My wife got used to the sound of the bar hitting the basin, followed shortly thereafter by my grimace and groan as I bent over to pick it up.

The older I got, the more I groaned.

Then, one day I took a GOOD look at why this was happening. I saw the rack in a new way. I discovered one minor adjustment was all that was needed. The rack is designed with 5 bars… I pushed the front one up 1/8 of an inch. TaDa!!!   IT STAYED!!! Ever since that day, the only time I have to pick up the soap is when it slips out of my hand. My entire life is SO MUCH BETTER!!!! My frustration level is almost zero!! Well, in the shower, at least!!

If I take that lesson and apply it to the rest of my life, I find the same truth… It’s usually (more often than not) the minor adjustments that make the biggest lasting difference.

Sometimes, we need to see the situation through different eyes. (not recommended when showering) Sharing the hurts, habits and hang-ups of our past or present difficulties can lead to new insight from others. Discussing future plans with wise connections (U DO have some of those people U can call, right?) can help U make better decisions. Just taking time to get past the familiar frustrations can lead to a time of new perspective.

Sometimes, all that’s needed is a 1/8″ push in the right direction to bring an end to life-long frustrations! Go ahead – take a new look! I dare you!! What is your daily frustration? Yeah, that one, the one that just came to your mind!!

Baby Steps.
You didn’t get to where you are in one giant leap.
Take a Baby Step. Today!
Then, take the rest of the day off.
When Tomorrow becomes Today, do it again.
Repeat Daily!

STUMBLY PATHs

A few months ago, my good friend, Angie posted on FaceBook:

                Someone told me you can know God’s path because it’ll be smooth &
                 filled with certainty. I’m not sure Jesus would agree
.” @John Alan Turner(pastor)

As she’s done before, she set my mind to spinning. She has a very unique way of doing that!

I responded with:

In a recovery meeting today, the topic was “Healing“. As I sat there listening and thinking, I realized that most of the healing in recovery for me has come in my relationships – with myself, with God, and with others. As I am learning to walk in that healing, my life has gotten a lot less hectic and stumbly.

Yes, that’s right, STUMBLY!  I like that word! That’s why I invented it.
It describes my life Pre-Process.

I no longer stumble and fall so hard over the lumps in the carpet I created by the secrets I hid.  My relationship with my past-self is being healed as I have found the safety and courage to stop hiding from it.

I no longer constantly stumble over the things I don’t understand, ’cause I know Somebody who understand everything and He promises to help me understand it when and if I need to.

I no longer stumble so severely over remarks that others say that hurt me, because I’ve come to know it may come from that place deep inside them that hurts like I did(and sometimes still do).

I no longer stumble over my faults. For most (all) of my life, I thought I needed to be better than I was so God would Love me more. As I’ve learned that God.Loves.Me.Just.As.I.Am. I’m amazed at how my faults are just not as important as they used to be. In fact, some of what I thought were my worst character defects have become some of my greatest strengths.

I no longer constantly stumble over people who don’t like me. Or who don’t approve of me. “Hey, this is me… Don’t like it? Let’s see if we can work it out. If we can’t, U go Ur way, I’ll go mine. I refuse to make my life stumbly because U don’t like me“. (I do realize you can’t, and shouldn’t do that with everyone)

I no longer stumble over my relationship with God. Recovery Step 3 says: “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God…”   All my life I was told: “Be careful, God’s watching you“. I understood that to mean “He’s watching so He can catch you when you do something wrong – and punish you“. Now, I KNOW! He’s watching because He loves me. He wants to catch me, yes, but He wants to catch me when I fall. He wants to guide me. He wants to comfort me. I now KNOW He will discipline me when I need it, not to punish me, but to teach me.

I no longer stumble (so much) over all the things left on my To-Do-List. One of the greatest sources of satisfaction for me has always been My.List!  If, at the end of the day I had lots of red stripes on the page, it was a good day. Frustration arose if I got stuck on something. Today, I am getting better at setting aside My.List! in favor of PEOPLE! My life is richer because of it.

Future Stumbles are no longer a huge worry for me. I’ve seen time and time and time again how God has been there for me and mine. I have seen His RELENTLESS FAITHFULNESS. He has used some of my hardest and most painful days to make my life the way it is today. I can therefore trust Him to continue to do that tomorrow, next week, next year.

OF COURSE, I’d like to still pretend my life is perfect and I never stumble and fall in the pit anymore. But that isn’t my reality. (And neither is it yours) But since the day of my “Heart Attack“, God & I (mostly God) have changed my life in ways I never imagined was possible.

T.B.T. aka ThrowBack Thursday

Well, I’ve thought long and hard about it, and resisted just as long as I can!  I’m finally going to join the T.B.T.’s.  On Thursdays, I want to post something from a year ago.

I wrote this last year after a discussion with a very good friend. We both learned from it.
Yes, I have to admit, I’m still learning the lesson. Over’nOver’nOver!

This is from Aug 3, 2013

FOR TODAY, JUST FOR TODAY…

Happiness & Joy

Which comes 1st?
Can we have one without the other?

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HAPPINESS
comes from good happenings in our life.

JOY
comes from recognizing God’s Process in our life.

JOY
can(will!) sustain us – NO MATTER what’s happening around us

If U’re old enough(like me) U’ll remember the song – “Love”n Marriage… Go together like a horse’n carriage… U can’t have one without the other…” (Frank Sinatra)

It IS possible to have happiness without joy, joy without happiness.
I’ve certainly been known to confuse one for the other.

In the U.S.A., we have the constitutional “right to pursue happiness”. However, there’s no guarantee of finding it. Joy wasn’t even mentioned.

I’ve been attending Celebrate Recovery for almost 6 years. The common practice is to introduce ourselves: “Hi, my name is ‘Jim’. I’m a GRATEFUL believer in Jesus who struggles with…. ________ fillintheblank. Some Monday nights, it was easy to say “I’m grateful” Other nights, those words seemed to get stuck someplace beneath my tonsils. I finally began to realize I was measuring my gratefulness by my happiness. I was measuring my happiness by the good/bad happenings in my life.

NewsFlash: It wasn’t the good/nice things in my life that brought me to CR. It was the painful things. The out-of-control things. In CR language, it was the hurts, habits and gangups. Oops, that’s s’pose to be hangups! But actually, come to think of it, it was when the painful things outweighed the “blessings” that I looked for help. So yeah, I guess it did “gangup” on me.

It took me a long time to begin to recognize that the dark place was a gift. It took me longer to be grateful for the pain. It took even longer to acknowledge that God was using those things that had been ganging up on me to change me.

It’s been a PROCESS! A Process that has brought me more JOY than I knew existed.

I was pursuing happiness (I had a guaranteed legal right to do that) but what I discovered was JOY! I had the cart B4 the horse, or I had my carriage hitched to a goat,

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or I was just pulling a broken wheel through the dirt, round’n round in circles.

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Whatever, it was a mess.

I finally picked up the pieces of my mess and surrendered. Today, I gladly declare: I AM a GRATEFUL believer in Jesus. My life is not the mess it was. I am in Process – and will be as long as I live on this planet.

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Now, the Q becomes: …If(since) I’m blessed, and grateful for it,
how can I in turn share that blessing with Others?

THE NEXT STEP…

I was thinking this morning… I’d say in the shower, but ok, that’s probably T.M.I.
I thought maybe the reason we sometimes feel out of step in our lives is because –
God has moved on. He’s not moved AWAY, He’s moved ON – to the next step. To the next field.

The processes of Preparation came to my mind;
Plowing, Planting, Watering, Waiting, and Harvesting.

We want the Harvest!(NOW!).
‘Tis not yet time for Harvest.
In the meantime, we don’t like Waiting.
We want the changes NOW
We want to keep working – here, NOW!

Perhaps God is saying…

“I cultivated that area in your life. I know how rough the plowing was for you!
I planted the seed – in you. It is being watered, and has begun to sprout.
Trust ME to develop the growth in you – all in
my good time.
I can even do the weeding. If you do it, you’ll pull out some good stuff, too.
Now, I have this other area that I have been plowing for a while.
You haven’t noticed my work, but that’s OK, it wasn’t your time yet…
I’m over here, now, Son. Trust me with that last area. It just needs time to grow.
               Now, it’s time to begin planting. Come to me. I’m over here.”

He who began a good work in you will
be faithful to bring it to (harvest)
                                                                                                                             Phil 1:6
Commit your (garden) to the Lord, trust in Him and He will bring it to (harvest)
                                                                                                                             Psalm 37:5

Grant me, Just for Today…

Lord,
       Grant me serenity to accept what cannot change(today)
            Courage and strength to change what can change(today)
                  Give me wisdom – just for today – to know the difference.
                        Thank you for your promise to be with me tomorrow, for
                             When tomorrow becomes today, we’ll do it all over again”

For Today, Just for Today…

For Today, Just for Today…

The other day, I was talking with a good (my best) friend and said: “If God is not pleased with you and your walk with him, there is absolutely NO hope for me. I might as well give up now.” This turned out to be a very important statement for both of us. I had been going through a time that I realized that I was(am) addicted to more. Whatever I have in my life, I want more.

This has played out in every aspect of my being. Food.(especially ice cream) Money. TV. Relationships. Alcohol. God.   …GOD? Addicted to more of God? Are you kidding me? A person can never have too much of God, Right? Well, let’s look at it in a different way….

Addiction can NEVER be satisfied. Addiction can show up in an area of your life that in most other people would be considered normal. AA calls those people “normies”. Normies can take it or leave it. Addicts are never satisfied. Never satisfied. A normy can take a drink (or two) and leave half of the second glass at the table and walk away. An alcoholic looks at that half-filled glass on the table and wants to drain it as he gets up. For him, one is too many, a thousand won’t satisfy.

You’re probably saying… “Jim, what in the world does addiction to alcohol (or ______ younameit) have to do with my relationship with God”? Never satisfied. Let me ask the question another way: Is it possible to be satisfied in my relationship with God? For the majority of my life, I would have answered – “NO!!” “Oh sure, there are times that He fills me and satisfies my desire for Him, but it never lasts.”

As I have come to recognize my addiction to more, and began to be healed in the many ways it affected me, it finally came down to my desire to have more of God. I recognize that so many of the expressions of needing more is because I have a hole in my soul that the wind blows through and nothing in my life can fill that hole. Not even more. I began to recognize that the deepest longing of my soul can ONLY be filled by an ongoing, dynamic, daily relationship with God. AA calls it a “higher power”. I call Him JESUS.

But – back to the question – Can I be satisfied in my relationship with God? As my friend and I were discussing this and he was expressing his dissatisfaction in his relationship with God, it dawned on me that For Today, Just For Today, I need to be satisfied with(in) my relationship with God. See, if I compare my relationship with God with my friend’s walk with him, I fail. He’s a trained minister. He’s had biblical training. He preaches the Word. He sings and leads worship. He studies and writes much more proficiently than I do. He….   “If God is not pleased with you and your walk with him, there is absolutely NO hope for me. I might as well give up now.”

Part of this post has to do with “comparing yourselves among yourselves”, but I’m not going down that path. Instead, I’m going to ask this: Is it possible that For Today, Just for Today, I need to be satisfied with the work that God has done and is doing in me? You see, I believe in PROCESS! I believe that the growth and changes that happen in my life because I have a relationship with Jesus are progressive. I am not at the same place in my life, in my walk with Him that I was 5 years ago. 2 years ago. 6 months ago. 6 weeks ago. Yesterday. And I will be different tomorrow. Next year. 5 years from now. But For Today, Just for Today, I need to understand my privilege of finding a place of rest. In Him.

Since the day my friend and I had that discussion, I am comparing myself less and less with his walk with Jesus. He has his walk, I have mine. OK, I’ll preach that sermon just a little bit… Comparison IS the thief of JOY! But it’s not only the comparison of me with my friend; it’s the comparison of ME, today, with where God is going to have me tomorrow, next week, next year. Or where I was yesterday. Last week.

Today, Just for Today, I need to be able to lie down in green pastures and rest in Him. As I find rest in His Presence, I can honestly pray; “Search me, Lord. Show me anything in my life that is not pleasing you.” As I pray that prayer, He is faithful to complete that work He began in me. Relentlessly Faithful!

The Process of becoming all that I can be for God has a lot more to
do with HIS work in me than it does MY work on me or for Him

It really IS just that simple…

“I’ve been watching too much TV! I quit”  she said.
“But now, without TV, I have to live with myself!”
“I was watching TV to escape my life. Now It’s hard to face reality”

…Congratulations on your sobriety! Treat this as
seriously as you would an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

The substance, the anger, food, sugar, video games, perfectionism, money, sex, TV, work, ________ younameit, that we use to bury our pain and try to escape daily living is not our real problem. It is an indication that we have deeper issues.  When we stop abusing, if these deeper issues are not dealt with, we WILL use again.
 The first recovery issue I admitted to was codependency. I now see that I said I was codependent because of the lack of social stigma attached to it. It was “safe.” I could keep my mask on.  I needed my mask – I had secrets to keep. Besides, “Everybody” struggles with codependency! After I began to recover, I found some very painful issues – hurts, habits, alcohol abuse, anger, depression, misuse of sex, food, ice cream???, etc,etc,etc….
I finally reached the point that I did not want to pay the price I knew I would have to pay if I continued down the same path. So I took a different path. I walked through the doors into a group of “those people.” And found a life I knew only in my dreams.
I stayed in Celebrate Recovery until my miracle happened. Now I stay because God is using me to help others discover their miracle. And, I stay because my miracle is not yet complete. But I AM living my miracle!!! I used to visit this place of miracles- AA calls it a – “palace on a pink cloud”, but couldn’t stay. I couldn’t stay because I brought too much baggage with me. I had truckloads of junk that followed me everywhere. It made me too heavy. “Mercy sakes, I was a convoy!” I kept falling through my pink cloud back into the chaos that I called my life.
Celebrate Recovery taught me how to open my baggage, sort through the trash, pick out and reclaim the buried treasures, and clean up the mess. One truck load at a time. No, it was usually just one box at a time.  I learned to ask for help. I learned to stay in process through the mess. I celebrated small victories and baby steps along the way. I learned to get up when I stumbled and fell. When I fell, I learned to check to see what I had stumbled over. Usually, it was something I’d swept under the carpet – I kept tripping over the lumps.
Now, I don’t live in a palace on a pink cloud, I live in a house built upon a solid rock. The solid foundation of my life, my “Higher Power”, is my relationship with Jesus. It’s simple – He Loves me. He wants me to love him back. He is vitally interested in every detail of my existence. He’s become my Best Friend.
We walk through my days together. As we walk together, I find we walk a better path through this jungle of daily living. He guides me. He protects me. He comforts me. He goes before me and clears the way. He brings me back to him when I stray. I’ve learned to trust Him more. As I trust Him more, I Love Him more. However, I’ve found out He doesn’t Love me more. He Loves me now just as much as he always has and always will. I now know that there is nothing I can do to get Him to Love me more than He already does. AND… there is NOTHING I can do to keep Him from Loving me as much as He always has, and always will.
Our Love grows because I learn more about Him. Our Love grows because we spend more time together. He’s teaching me to Be Still and Know His Love.
That’s my miracle! That’s what healed – and continues to – heal me. That’s the miracle I can teach to others – God Loves Us, and simply wants Us to Love Him back!
It really IS just that simple!