September 30, 2014

About Amy Butterfield

Amy Butterfield - Blog Contributor – GCH:Victorious Healing Co-Leader
Amy is from north-central Ohio, where she lives with husband Brian, and her three children (12, 15 and almost 17). She works full-time for a large educational publisher, coordinating bids & contracts with state departments of education. Amy is very active in her church, and also loves to crochet, cook, and read.

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 8: Make the Choice (pages 251 – 267)

Choice 8: Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.

“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived” Galatians 6:1, 2  (The Message).
The action items for Week 8 are short and sweet compared to our past 7 weeks. The focus is on your personal story and how to best share it with others in need of encouragement, support, and hope.  John Baker jumps right in with very little introduction to this week’s Make The Choice segment.

PRAY –
Ask God to bring someone in to your life to share your story with. Be prepared for what you ask, because He will answer! This isn’t someone who will just hear your story of recovery, but who will also hear His Good News, and how His presence in their life can bring about radical changes, too.
WRITE –
After we’ve prayed for God to lead us to someone to share with, we need to make sure we have prepared our story and how best to share it. For some of you, skipping over some of the nitty-gritty details will be appropriate; while others will need to expose a little more to get their story told. I think of our dear friend, Leslie. I don’t know of many who would openly share the experiences with hospitalization and electro-shock therapies as she has during our study. But for her, this is a crucial point of the desperation she felt and how liberating life has been with God. I’ve kept back some of my personal details because it would bring pain to others, but it doesn’t lessen the impact of my story.

Your story is uniquely yours. The ways God spoke to you, led you to see the need for Him, delivered you from the hurts, habits, and hang-ups, and how you will be used for His glory. Don’t compare your experience with anyone else, but praise the life He has given to YOU!

Take this time to write in your journal, (as Baker points out, page 251), a list of experiences that have significantly impacted your life to this day—both the positive and the negative. Indicate the ones you caused, and the ones caused by others. Remember to use the inventories we’ve created if necessary.

  • Write what you have learned about each experience.
  • Write about how God helped you through the tough times, but also how He blessed you during the good times.
  • Make a list of people who need to hear your story.
  • Write out your story. I love Baker’s comment on writing, ‘Remember, thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips to the fingertips. Write it out.” (p 252)


SHARE –
Ok, so you’ve now asked for someone to share with and written out your story.  Share it with your accountability partner. This person has been alongside you as your cheerleader and coach during our study. They know where you’ve been, where you are now, and they have hope for your future. Allow your partner to work with you to fill in holes in your story, add details (or pull back on some), and assist in your humble presentation.
It’s not about saying “look what I’ve done;” but what HE’s done that is our focus.

One last thought…in addition to sharing your story…consider other ways you can say YES to God.

“So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching” Hebrews 10:22-25  (The Message).

We’ve made it to the end of this leg of our journey. Note, I didn’t say we’ve completed THE journey, but only a portion of it. I don’t want anyone thinking that the work is done and we can move on to something bigger and better. No, this was just a portion of what God has in store for each of us. Perhaps you will find the need to re-read the book, put more time in to some of the exercises, share more with your accountability partner. Perhaps you’re at a good place now, but will find the need to re-examine some of the deeper issues at a later date. Whatever path you end up taking, remember to always take Him along with you for strength, comfort, wisdom, and unconditional love.


Let’s Pray –
Lord, when we look back to where we started, who we were when we started this study, we stand thankful and amazed by the transformations You have done in our lives. Guide us through the next phase of sharing our experience with others, finding strength in You, courage to open our hearts and lives, and the desire to be lights for Your glory. Thank You for the blessings we’ve seen, the friendships we’ve made, and all of the lessons learned. Amen.

 

Power Verses for Chapter 8
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
Deuteronomy 4:9
James 2:17
Ephesians 4:1
2 Corinthians 3:18
Hebrews 10:24
Romans 12: 9, 13
Galatians 6:1
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 8 – Recycling the Pain (pgs 241-267)

Choice8_LHC

Galatians 6:1-2
My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself. You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand.” (CEV)
At the beginning of this study in January, I had many comments on apprehensions, anxieties, and generalized worries about getting back in to the memories & experiences of the past. As the study progressed, I’ve been able to see transformations in our participants. Some have had small “AHA” moments on how the past has shaped today. Others have had eye-opening revelations. Where ever this study has taken you, God has blessed your life.
We are heading in to our final week of Life’s Healing Choices, but this is not the final week of our journey. John Baker tells us, in the Celebrate Recover Participant Guide 4, “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Instead of the focus remaining on healing your personal hurts, it’s time to consider how others can benefit from our experiences. Baker references “recycling the pain.”
Recycle — to adapt or convert something to a new use
When we faced the events that shaped our attitudes, addictions, thoughts or behaviors, we never would have imagined that good would come out of it. Romans 8:28 states: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)
God truly does have an amazing plan for His children. He does not sit around looking for ways to hurt us, complicate our lives, or bring us pain. This comes from our choices in life. But He does promise to use ALL things for His good purpose. So when I consider the experiences of my past, I need to look to ways my experiences can help others. What did I learn from these events that can be passed on to another, give hope and encouragement?
We’re reminded that God “does His best work through weak people”

2 Cor 12:7 -10 tells us, “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (The Message)
If you had asked me in 2001 what good would ever come from the chaos around me, I would have thrown up my hands and said “Nothing!” I never could have imagined that God would restore my heart and soul to the point of remarriage, blending families, and step-parenting. And, I certainly wouldn’t have ever guessed He would use me in a ministry position like Girlfriends Coffee Hour! But in the midst of everything, I didn’t blame God or accuse Him of doing things to me. I knew He didn’t want me to experience pain, but He promised to use whatever I did experience for the positive.
As a parent, I see the same type of things with my kids. I don’t sit around thinking of ways to inflict pain or hardship in their lives (though they may think otherwise with the household rules!), but I do know that their teenage minds will make decisions that sometimes bring painful consequences. My goal as mom is to help them learn from the experience, give suggestions to overcome, and help them move forward. There is a purpose behind all that we experience, whether we want to admit it or not.

God does the same for us through His Word, our interactions with fellow believers, and in daily prayers with Him. Baker shares that , “people are not helped by our strengths; they’re helped when we’re honest about our weaknesses … the proof that you are truly recovering is when you begin to focus outside yourself, when you stop being absorbed with your needs, your hurts, your problems. Recovery is evident when you being to say, ‘How can I help others?”” pg.242
This week we’ll look more closely at the following questions:

  • Why does God allow pain?
  • How can we use our pain to help others?

A few verses to ponder this week:
Ecclesiastes 4:9 -1 2 NLT
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (The Message)

James 1:22 NLT
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

 

Your Reading Assignment this Week

Monday – Chapter 8 Sharing the Choice – Laurie
Tuesday – Why does God Allow Pain? – Leslie
Wednesday – How to Use our Pain – Kim
Thursday – Make the Choice – Amy
Friday – Recap of the week – Laurie

Let’s Pray:

Lord, we thank You because You are ever-present in our lives. No matter what we experience, You are there with us to give us strength, courage, comfort through each and every step. Even as we look to heal from our past experience, we can hold hope in Your promise to work ALL things for good in those who live according to Your will. As our Heavenly Father, You desire the best for Your children. Continue to guide us as we continue to learn more about trusting You. Amen.

Power Verses for Chapter 8
Matthew 10:8
Matthew 6:24
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Deuteronomy 4:9
James 2:17
Ephesians 4:1
2 Corinthians 3:18
Hebrews 10:24
Romans 12: 9, 13
Galatians 6:1
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 7 – Maintaining the Momentum (pp 220-239)

Choice7_LHC


PRAY
John Baker provides so much amazing information in this week’s Make the Choice section. He begins by giving examples on how we can pray using Scriptures, and how a prayer familiar to most of us (The Lord’s Prayer) relates to the choices we’ve been learning. I will be using portions of Baker’s examples for you today.

Scripture: Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name…
Choice 1: Realize I am not God
Choice 2: Earnestly believe that God exists

Scripture: Your Kingdom come…
Choice 8: Yield myself to God to be used

Scripture: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…
Choice 5: Voluntarily submit to God’s changes

Scripture: Give us our daily bread…
Choice 3: Consciously choose to commit…to Christ’s care

Scripture: Forgive us our debts…
Choice 4: Openly examine and confess my faults

Scripture: As we have also forgiven our debtors…
Choice 6: Evaluate all my relationships

Scripture: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…
Choice 7: Reserve a daily time with God

WRITE –
Through the week’s study we have looked at ways to prevent relapse of our bad habits by creating a new habit of evaluation. This week’s “Write” choice is about evaluating four areas: physical, emotional, relational and spiritual.

Physical: What is your body telling you?

Emotional: What are you feeling? Use HEART to help you express what you are feeling.

H – am I hurting?
E – am I exhausted?
A – am I angry?
R – do I resent anyone?
T – am I tense?

Relational: Am I at peace with everyone?

Spiritual: Am I relying on God?

SHARE –
Share what you’ve written with your accountability partner. Work to develop a plan to recognize and resolve problems more quickly, to be aware of them sooner and take appropriate action.

Over the years, I’ve become more aware of how I tend to react emotionally, based on the feelings that a situation brings rather than the facts before me. Instead of looking rationally at a situation, I have the knee-jerk reaction and most often spout out something I later regret. And, when I’m tired, it’s even worse. On good days, I can recognize this before I open my mouth and I pause to consider the other person and what might be prompting them to act as they are. I try to remember that those around me are not “out to get me” and may just be having a bad day. It’s the basic lesson—it’s not about me!
But on my bad days , I am feeling unappreciated or taken for granted in an area of my life, and anything someone says that may bump against my views for the day will result in a conflict. How dare they say that to me…act that way towards me…assume that about me, and so on. In a flash, I resort to the negative thoughts, the relational strongholds that I’ve been working to rid myself of. And, it’s during those moments that turning to a trusted friend helps keep me grounded in the here and now. When you have the right person alongside you, they will point you back to God through Scriptural reminders and truths. They will help you focus on your identity as a child of God. They will call you out when you’re stuck in negativity and hold you to a higher standard. Sure, it can be uncomfortable because we want to feel what we feel just because we want to! But life has so much more to offer us. God wants so much more for us than to be ruled by our emotions.

Take time to reflect on the pattern of relapse with your partner: complacency, confusion, compromise, and catastrophe. Where do you get trapped most often?

For me, it is complacency; and Baker couldn’t have explained it any better, “We get comfortable. We’ve confessed our problem, we’ve started dealing with it, and we’ve made some progress. Then we get comfortable, and one day we stop praying about it and then we stop working at it” (page 207).

When the immediate need to fix something has been addressed, the urgency to continue working on it dissipates. It’s no longer urgent, and slowly the comfort settles in. But Jesus reminded us, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mark 14:38 NLT).

Even Paul tells us, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). So it’s not a situation that wasn’t expected to happen, but it is a situation that can be prevented.


Let’s Pray
Lord, we thank You for loving us so much that You gave the greatest example of forgiveness through Your Son, Jesus. As we focus on creating dedicated time alone with You, let us remember to be still and know You. Timothy tells us that Your Word is “useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” Allow us to keep this focus and to develop a desire to know You even more. This journey to recovery from our habits, hang-ups, and hurts has not been easy, but we feel Your grace, love, and gentleness more each day. Amen.

Power Verses for Chapter 7:
1 Corinthians 10:12
Matthew 22:37-40
James 1:22
Colossians 3:16
Psalm 46:10
Psalm 107:15
2 Timothy 3:16
Hebrews 12:1



If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 7 – Maintaining Momentum (pp 204 – 239)

Choice 7:

Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to KNOW God and His will for my life, and to gain the power to follow His will.

John Baker introduces this next choice simply writing, “In the last six chapters, you’ve been learning about coming out of the dark and exposing your problems to the light of God’s love. At whatever level you’ve been able to accomplish this, God has been healing the hurts, hang-ups, and habits that have messed up your life. Many of you are already experiencing some of the amazing changes in your life” (page 206).

Through the comments on our Facebook page, the changes are happening in the lives of those who are sharing this journey. For some, the changes have been small; but for others it’s been mind-blowing. It’s not about comparing where you are with another person but on a personal focus on your growth. This will be an on-going process, not something we attain and stop doing. If you are not alert and intentional with your Christian walk, you can (and will) relapse into the old habits and thought patterns that brought you to this study in the first place. Obviously this is not our goal; but rather we hope to give helpful information to encourage you to maintain the momentum towards God and His will for your life. Baker tells us to “Celebrate any victory, no matter how small, and do it on a daily basis” (pg 214).

This week we’ll discuss the causes of relapse, and how to prevent relapse by introducing NEW habits into your life. Unlike those we’ve been shedding over the past 6 weeks, these habits are good for us and will only serve to strengthen and refine us even more as we draw closer to Him. By the week’s end, we’ll introduce “praying the Scriptures” to bring encouragement to your prayer life.

Seeing the choice for this week, I will be the first to admit that I know I should have a daily quiet time with God. He desires to spend time with me, to hear my voice speak to Him as if in conversation with an old friend, and He wants to bless me with His wisdom and love. As a parent, I know how much I love to have time with my children, so I can only imagine how much He wants to spend time with me! But I’m running ragged with a full time job, volunteer responsibilities, church activities, and of course, family obligations (aren’t we all?).

Every time I hear a message on having this quiet time, I immediately offer up the excuses—“I’m too tired after work…I can’t get up early because my body requires sleep…I’m reading devotional emails so that’s something…I listen to praise and worship music at my desk so I’m constantly ‘focusing’ on Him…I’m reading this book or that book that talks about God and gives Scriptures…I take notes at church.”  There’s nothing inherently wrong with what I’ve said, but it still doesn’t address His desire to spend time with me—quality one-on-one time.

Yes, I’m tired after work; but He has promised to give me strength (Philippians 4:13).  Yes, getting up early is a challenge; but there’s no better way to start your day (Psalms 59, 65, 90, and 92…just to name a few).

Ps90_14

While reading the devotionals and books, taking notes during a sermon, or listening to music will reinforce the messages and keep our minds more focused on Him, these are not substitutions for personally reading His word and finding the applications for my life.  So the challenge for me this week is to put aside all of the plans to do it, and (like Nike) JUST DO IT! I’m convicted by this week’s choice and need to put my head-knowledge of knowing a lot about God in to a solid heart-knowledge of truly knowing God.

 

Reading Assignment for Week 7: Chapter 7 of Life’s Healing Choices
Monday: Laurie will discuss Principle 7: Growth Choice
Tuesday: Leslie will discuss the Causes of Relapse
Wednesday: Kim will discuss Preventing Relapse
Thursday: Amy will discuss Make The Choice
Friday: Laurie will bring it all back home with a recap of our week

 

Music has always been an emotional connection for me (in good ways and bad). Christ speaks to me more through music than most other media. One song that’s been a strong encouragement and reminder to me over the past couple of years is “Captivate Us” by Watermark.  I want to close out today with the link to the song. I’d also like us to use the lyrics as a prayer—to bring the encouragement and the desire to be captivated by God in the coming week. Read the lyrics, and then play the song. While it plays, close your eyes and use this as your prayer to draw closer to the Father who wants to spend time with you.

http://youtu.be/7JtXa9pBOHI

Captivate Us – by Nockels, Nockels, & Hall

Your face is beautiful
And Your eyes are like the stars
Your gentle hands have healing
There inside the scars
Your loving arms they draw me near
And Your smile it brings me peace
Draw me closer oh my Lord
Draw me closer Lord to Thee

Captivate us, Lord Jesus
Set our eyes on You
Devastate us with Your presence
Falling down
And rushing river, draw us nearer
Holy fountain consume us with You
Captivate us Lord Jesus, with You

Your voice is powerful
And Your words are radiant bright
In Your breath and shadow
I will come close and abide
You whisper love and life divine
And Your fellowship is free
Draw me closer O my Lord
Draw me closer Lord to Thee

Let everything be lost in the shadows
Of the light of Your face
Let every chain be broken from me
As I’m bound in Your grace
For Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light
You’re full of wisdom, power and might
And every eye will see You

Have a wonderful & blessed week!

A wonderful pocket-sized (28 page) booklet that talks about our walk with Christ is “My Heart Christ’s Home.” It’s available HERE  as a 5 pack for a small price. It speaks of allowing Christ into our home and how we care for Him as our invited guest. Does His presence require spring cleaning, or a light dusting? Do we lock doors to certain rooms, or give Him full access?

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If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 6 – Make the Choice (pgs 182-186)

MAKE THE CHOICE: Repairing Relationships


“Today is a new day. Starting today, you can refocus your life on doing God’s will in your relationships” (Baker, 180)

I think we would all agree with John Baker’s assessment that broken relationships are the root of much of the pain we experience. The action steps this week allow us to move towards forgiving those who hurt us, and making amends with those we’ve hurt. Let’s explore how we can live unashamed, forgetting our troubles, full of hope and blessed (Job 11:13-10)

WRITE –
Throughout this study, we’ve taken a lot of time to write about our experiences, our actions, and our pain. I believe that writing gives us the opportunity to clearly see the thoughts that run through our minds, but by using both the thinking & writing tasks, it becomes more real to us. We take an active approach to the thoughts. We see it in black & white (or purple & white if you were to see my journal), and it’s no longer something hidden in the back corners of our lives.

Start out this week’s exercise by writing down a list of people who have harmed you in some way, and their relationship to you. Now, I’m not talking about the guy who cut you off on the road. It’s not the petty little stuff we’re dealing with here. Go back to your inventory lists from Chapter 4 if necessary. We are creating our Forgiveness List.

Once you have the list of people, or maybe just one person, describe what they said or did to hurt you. How did it make you feel? Dig deep and find the descriptive words for your feelings, don’t just say “angry” or “hurt”. Do you struggle with finding words to describe how you feel? You’re not alone! I know in counseling sessions, we were given charts & lists to help us as a family learn to communicate our feelings more clearly with one another. I found these links that might be helpful if you struggle in expressing words for your emotions:

http://www.professional-counselling.com/list-of-human-emotions.html

http://www.ami-tx.com/Portals/3/EmotionsFlyer.pdf (this is great picture chart for children!)

Now, let’s move to the Amends List. Write down names of those you’ve hurt or offended, and their relationship to you. As we did with the previous list, write down what you said or did to this person. How do you think this person felt? Why are you sorry for hurting this person? Do you stop to think about how your words or actions affect another person? So often we can point out every little offense of other people, but we dismiss what we did as nothing.

Baker gives a list of questions (p. 184) to help jump start your thinking if you’re struggling to think of those you have hurt:

  • Is there anyone to whom you owe a debt that you haven’t repaid?
  • Is there anyone you’ve broken a promise to?
  • Is there anyone you are guilty of controlling or manipulating?
  • Is there anyone you are overly possessive of?
  • Is there anyone you are hypercritical of?
  • Have you been verbally, emotionally or physically abusive to anyone?
  • Is there anyone you have not appreciated or paid attention to?
  • Is there anyone you have been unfaithful to?
  • Have you ever lied to anyone?

SHARE –
Our accountability partners will be crucial in this process. We do not want to run to someone who hurt us and put ourselves in a vulnerable position where we can be hurt again. In some instances, we will not actually face (or contact) the person we are forgiving because the risk of further harm is too great. Your accountability partner is there to talk with you, serve as a sounding board, and help guide your steps. Share your Forgiveness List with this person BEFORE you go to the one you are forgiving.

Heb10_24

Also share your Amends List with your accountability partner, and work together to develop a plan to make amends with the people you have listed. It’s not about running out to accomplish all that we can as fast as we can. There will be an appropriate time, location, and way to manage this step. Your partner knows you and will help guide you to the best way to accomplish your task.

I shared with you on Sunday my lesson in forgiving others. This was an action I needed to do, not just because God expects this of me, but because my life & health depended upon it. Harboring the resentment and anger would have caused more harm in my life … my ability to love and trust others, my ability to demonstrate His love to my daughter, and my ability to draw close to Him. But outside of the day I spoke to the court, I did not face my ex-husband to have a personal conversation with him. It would have been inappropriate to do so. I do have fleeting moments today where I think I should write him a letter, but going through this study has shown that it would bring harm to him. I said what needed to be said years ago. To make contact now would only stir up the issues and the emotions. Deep down, the flesh side of me wants to show him how well we’ve done in the years since. But that’s not what God wants. Forgiveness has been given. It was spoken, it was done.

At this time, I can think of one other for whom I need to forgive, and as much as I’ve said over the years that I have forgiven him, this study has made me see that perhaps I really haven’t. If I have forgiven this person for his actions years ago, would it still bother me that I only hear from him on birthdays and Christmas? If I have forgiven him, would it bother me that I don’t often receive replies to emails? If I have forgiven him, would it annoy me that he doesn’t seem to interact with family in ways I feel would be more appropriate? If I have fully forgiven him, would I actually have this list of things that bother me so? Or am I just holding on too tightly to the emotions the memories evoke? Either way, I haven’t fully given the issue to God, and I believe this is the area I need to really explore more deeply.

Power Verses for Chapter 6:
Luke 6:31-37
Hebrews 10:24
Philippians 2:4
Romans 12:17-18
Matthew 5:23-24
1 Peter 5:10
Colossians 3:13
Romans 8:31
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Taken from the Celebrate Recovery Participant’s Guide 3, I want to share with you the following prayer to closer out this week’s activity:
Dear God, thank You for Your love, for Your freely given grace. Help me model Your ways when I make my amends to those I have hurt and offer forgiveness to those who have injured me. Help me to set aside my selfishness and speak the truth in love. I pray that I would focus only on my part, my responsibility in the issue. I know that I can forgive others because You first forgave me. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 6 – Relationships (pgs 166 – 203)

Choice 6:

Evaluate all my relationships.

Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others.

LHC_Chapter6

Forgiveness isn’t based on a feeling. Think about it, do you ever feel like forgiving someone? Or do you ruminate over ways to get back at them, or hope they get what they deserve? We keep score. We tally up the wrongs and maybe consider what they did right. We spout out “vengeance is MINE” but we forget the last part, ‘Says The Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
This week in Life’s Healing Choices we’ll take steps to mend relationships. Now, this doesn’t mean we will magically have the Hallmark moments, grand reunions, tears of joy from our reconciliations. But it will bring freedom from the harbored emotions when we let it all go in to His hands.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Colossians 3:13 NLT

Now, if you had asked me at the time what good would come out of my failed marriages, I would have said nothing. Today, I can look back and see God’s guiding hand, bringing me to a healthier place in life. All because of His mercy & love.

When I met my ex-husband, I was ending a bad marriage and an affair … definitely NOT the time I should have been getting involved with anyone else. But he swooped down and took care of me by making me laugh, doing small things to show he appreciated me, surprised me with visits & phone calls. It was the romancing and wooing we all want. Looking back, I should have seen signs that things weren’t going to work out well. Friends joked that he had bad luck, nothing ever turned out well for him, etc. Sometimes he was the brunt of the jokes just because his choices usually led to poor outcomes. But he had explanations for everything (excuses, really), and I wanted the companionship too much to listen. At one point, his mother commented that I was the best thing to ever happen to her son, but she didn’t know what I saw in him. Wow … did I really just hear that from his mom? Hindsight being what it is, I wish I had explored that comment more deeply. Instead, I listened when he told me the relationship with his mom had been strained since his parent’s divorce and he was closer to his dad.

Fast-forward about 4 years and you’ll find us married, raising a new baby, juggling jobs with family life. We quarreled about his excessive time on the computer or role-playing games with friends. He was too distracted to really be a good husband or father. We had just purchased our first home together. Our jobs were solid with promising futures. I had finished a college program; he was just starting one. The bad times seemed justified by the stress around us.

Suddenly, in a flash, it all came crumbling down around me. In the blink of an eye, I learned of lies, inner demons, addictions, and secrets that he had been keeping from me … from everyone, really. This changed everything about my life without my knowledge, agreement or consent! But for the first time in my life, I didn’t blame God. I didn’t curse at Him, demanding to know what I had done to deserve this fate.  I turned to God. I cried out to Him with a desperation I had not felt before, because I knew He was always there for me.

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me.

He freed me from all my fears.

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;

no shadow of shame will darken their faces.  

Ps 34:4-5 NLT

During this time, I was embraced by a church community. I learned what God’s “peace that passes all understanding” truly feels like (Philippians 4:7). I learned to lean on Him. I learned to accept help from others around me. I learned to trust again. I learned to love again. I learned to forgive.
I read once that harboring anger, resentment and an unforgiving heart only hurts us. The other person goes on with their life, without a care in the world, completely oblivious to the fact we’re fuming and miserable. We may be angry, but it doesn’t affect their life any anyway. So until we learn to let it go, it continues to eat away at us, hardening our heart more and more with each passing day.

It wasn’t an easy process, I assure you. And, I can’t give a date when it happened. I just know that through the following years, my heart softened as I learned more about my identity in Christ. I accepted more that he needed God’s love more than I needed to hate him. At one time, his dad asked if I could help find a Bible for him. They were not believers or church-going people. Rather than tell them what to buy, or ignore their request, I went out and bought one myself. Yes, I bought a Bible for my ex-husband even after all the pain he caused. I realized that I didn’t want to face God one day and have Him say, “all I wanted you to do was give him a Bible, and you said no.” I was being asked to do a simple task, and I answered His call.  People ask me how I could forgive him for what he did to his family and friends. How could I not knowing the lengths God went to in order to forgive me? Romans 3:24 CEV

But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.

I stood before a judge and gave my testimony, something called a “victim’s impact statement.” I shared the details of that fateful day. I recalled the excuses and lack of responsibility my ex-husband displayed. And, I shared that I forgave him and how it was by God’s grace that I could stand before them that day. It was the last time I saw my ex-husband face to face. I will never forget the past, and there are days when the pain is still felt and the sorrow washes over me. But the good news is that I don’t harbor the resentment, the animosity … the hatred that initially consumed me. All credit for this transformation of my heart goes to God, and God alone.
This week, we’ll explore more on making amends.

Reading Assignment for Week 6: Chapter 6 of Life’s Healing Choices
Monday: Laurie will discuss Principle 6: The Relationship Choice
Tuesday: Leslie will discuss How do you forgive Others (& Self)?
Wednesday: Kim will discuss Repair by Making Amends
Thursday: Amy will discuss Make The Choice
Friday: Laurie will bring it all back home with a recap of our week

__________________________

Let’s Pray:
Lord, we cannot begin to thank You enough for the gift of Your forgiveness through Jesus Christ. To know You gave Your Son on our behalf gives us strength to extend grace and mercy to those who have offended us. It’s not an easy task, but it is something we strive for through our healing process. We know that letting go of the pain and resentment is necessary so that we can become more like You. Bless all who read and follow our study this week. Amen.

__________________________

Power Verses for Chapter 5:
Luke 6:31-37
Hebrews 10:24
Philippians 2:4
Romans 12:17-18
Matthew 5:23-24
1 Peter 5:10
Colossians 3:13
Romans 8:31
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

__________________________

If you are interested in joining us for the “Life’s Healing Choices” online Bible study, click HERE to sign up.

Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

If you would like to email Amy in regards to this blog, please email her at:

Amy@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 5 – Make the Choice (pp 144-148)

MAKE THE CHOICE

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.  The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.  They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

Psalm 84:5-7 (NLT)

Have you ever had something just “fall into your lap” and wonder why it appeared when it did, the way it did?  Last month, the February 2013 issue of “In Touch,” a magazine from the ministry of Dr. Charles Stanley, arrived in my mailbox and I dropped it in my bag to read when I had the time.  Preparing for this blog, I pulled it out and decided to peruse for anything that might be helpful.  Turns out this issue is about grace, about a deeper relationship with God, about seeking Him during our trials.  I doubt this is a coincidence.

I think we can pick up a few good tips from this little magazine today.

“God is willing to provide what we need in our darkest moments.  Like a spring, His provision never ceases to flow, but we must seek it.” (Hughes, 10)

Dr. Stanley writes, “Too many believers approach the Christian life on a behavioral level.  They go to church, read their Bibles, serve others, give generously, and try to be as good as possible, thinking that they’re doing what God wants.  Although all these practices are beneficial, they’re not enough.  He desires more for us than knowledge and good behavior.  He wants us to know Him experientially—person to person.” (22)

But, Max Lucado brings it home in such a simple way, ‘Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come.  ‘Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”  (31)

Recognize those words?  Amazing Grace!  For me, this chapter has been screaming about grace.  Not just about His grace towards me, but being gracious to myself.  God gives us a free gift (grace) to forgive every sin we’ve committed, and even those yet to be.  All we have to do is accept His gift.  It’s our choice.  Pretty simple, right?

So why is it easy to accept His grace for us, but we cannot extend the same gift to ourselves?  When I look back on the experiences that led to my heartache or bad circumstances, it’s been due to my choices.  I ended relationships, or started ones that were inappropriate.  I left jobs for no other reason than boredom.  I said things that hurt other people.  And, even though God has forgiven me and washed me clean with the blood of His son, Jesus, there are days I cannot look at myself in a mirror without thinking I’m a wretch.  I yelled at my kids.  I grumped at my husband.  I didn’t use His time wisely, or manage money effectively.  I trashed my body because the bad food sounded so good.  My hair’s out of control.  My waist is too thick.  My complexion is too splotchy.  I find every little fault possible with my life, my character.  What does this say to God?  Am I grateful for His creation?  His design for MY body, my character, my life?

While a symptom of my heart’s protective nature, it’s also a sign that the father of lies, Satan, is trying to keep me from thinking the truth.  If God has forgiven me, I need to let it go and stop beating myself up.  I’m not a bad person.  I’m just a person who made bad decisions.  This negative thought system is one of the biggest issues I need to overcome.  I need to stop checking off the endless list of things ‘wrong’ with this woman God created.   It affects how I view myself as a wife, a mother, a worker, etc.  And, rather than focus on my short-comings, I need to (1) focus on His Word & Truth about my life, (2) focus on not comparing myself to others, (3) focus on finding gratitude for each day and circumstance, and (4) focus on letting it go.  Hmm, there’s that control thing again!

We’re told in Ezekiel 36:26, 27: 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My Laws and be careful to do what I tell you.  (NLV)

He will give us a new heart and a new spirit.  Will you reach out and accept this treasure from The King?

PRAY –

Take the time this weekend to write a prayer to God.  Acknowledge your shortcomings, character defects, areas you wish to change.  Tell Him what you would like to see instead in your life.  Be specific.  I once read that while God knows our prayers before we speak them, He wants to know that we have thought through the requests and really zeroed in on what we’re asking for.  I think it makes for a much more personal prayer than the rote memorization we learned as children.  Show God your gratefulness, even in difficult times, and as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, thank Him for everything (good & bad) in your life.  Ask Him to show you ways to change, and lessons to be learned from the experiences you have.

WRITE –

List  areas you have been able to turn over and surrender to Jesus during our study.
Are there areas you still need to turn over, attempting to control on your own power?  Remember, we make progress by focusing on one defect (or task) at a time.  Not by trying to attack it all at once.

Sometimes it’s not easy to see the positive changes in our lives.  What changes have you seen in the past 5 weeks?  Have you been able to celebrate and find joy in these steps?

Check out Life’s Healing Choices for an excellent note card exercise to help you focus on His Truth regarding your character and life.  I have a list of verses at my desk that I can see at a glance, but this exercise gives a more hands-on approach to keeping the Word close to your heart.  I have listed some of the verses from this exercise below.

SHARE –

Share the one defect God has guided you to focus on changing first.

Share the progress God is making in your life in changing this defect.

Share about your efforts to act yourself into a better way of feeling.

As I was writing this blog, this song came on my Pandora station.  I think it’s another God-moment.

 

Power Verses for Chapter 5:
Psalm 37:5

Matthew 5:6

Romans 12:1, 2

Philippians 1:6

James 4:10

1 Peter 1:13, 14

1 John 1:9

2 Thessalonians 3:3

 

Verses from the Note Card Exercise:

2 Corinthians 5:17

Psalm 9:10

Proverbs 3:5, 6

Proverbs 16:3

Matthew 11:28

Philippians 4:6, 7

Hebrews 11:6

 

Pray this with me:

Lord, show me Your will in working on my shortcomings.  Help me not to resist the changes that You have planned for me.  I need You to direct my steps.  Help me to stay in today, not get dragged back into the past or lost in the future.  I ask You to give me the power and the wisdom to make the very best I can out of today.  Amen. (prayer taken from Celebrate Recovery Participant Guide 3, p. 36.)

 _____________________

If you are interested in joining us for the amazing online Bible study, and would like to join our private Facebook Discussion Group, click HERE to sign up.  Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

 

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 5 – The Transformation (Reading Assignment)

Choice 5: Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.

“God blesses those people who want to obey Him more than to eat or drink.  They will be given what they want!” (Matthew 5:6 CEV)

The hardest part for those of us who like to be in control of our circumstances (and lives) is surrendering ALL to His authority, and being willing to submit to EVERY change He brings to us.  John Baker starts Chapter 5 by describing how it’s against our nature to change our behaviors.  It’s so much easier to keep doing what we’ve been doing.  It’s been said that changing a habit takes around 30 days of consistent behavior to make it stick.  How many of us actually try for that long?  Here we are in February, how many of you are holding firm to the New Year’s resolutions you made?

The scars we bear from our life experiences did not happen overnight, and we cannot expect change to be rapid.  Over the past four weeks, we’ve been preparing our hearts and minds for the changes God wants to do in our lives.  He’s been working in us through this time, but it’s also been a time of preparation.  Romans 12:1, 2 says that we are to “be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT).

Do you take the time to read a passage in different translations?  Sometimes you can get more insight, clarification, and direction by what the various translations offer.  From The Message, we read the same passage in Romans, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your every day, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

How awesome is that?  God is helping us.  God wants the best for us.  He will change us inside and out.  Another promise of The Father we can hold on to when we don’t think we can keep on this journey.

Chapter 5 will discuss where our character defects come from, why it takes so long to get rid of them, and how we cooperate with God during this transformation process.  A key point for me in this process is to remember my identity in Christ, who He says I am.  Baker says, “Notice their identity is in their belief in Christ…they do not allow character defects to become their identity” (pp 133, 134).

Almost 17 years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  It’s a chronic pain syndrome that many don’t fully understand.  Even with almost 11 years together, my husband still doesn’t “get it” on many days, though he has learned to be more patient and tolerant of my episodes.  Pain, muscle tenderness, weakness and tingling are common place for me.  On a daily basis something hurts, usually my back, hips and shoulders.  But I also get tingling and swelling in my feet and hands; and fatigue…oh boy, do I get tired!  Some days I feel like I over-exerted myself the day before.  Other days, I feel like I’m battling the worst flu virus ever.  And, the only thing I can do is manage symptoms; there is no cure.  I have medications to take.  I give in to the afternoon nap.  I opt to sit as an observer than push my body in an activity I know I’ll regret later.  I get massages (much too infrequently) from a therapist who knows how to treat my body.  And, I try to enjoy walking as an easy, low-stress exercise for my body.  Keeping it moving helps keep it from tightening up even more.

Now, I know there are people with fibromyalgia who are truly affected more severely than I am, so this is not meant to disregard the severity of their situations.  Many are unable to work, enjoy activities, or function on a normal level.  I’ve never been affected so badly that I cannot “do life.”  I may not want to do something, but it’s a mental attitude not a physical limitation.  But what if I gave in to my pain and let it determine who I am?  If I focused on what I have, rather than who I am, how much different would my life be?  I might refuse to leave my bed.  I might quit my job because it’s just too much effort.  I might refuse to care for my family; instead asking them to tend to my needs.

But I am a person with fibromyalgia.  It does not have me.  Just like I am a child of Christ with sin, sin does not have me.  I have freedom in Christ.  And, it’s His freedom that also provides comfort during my fibro-flares (periods when it is worse).  It is His strength that pushes me through.  It is His wisdom that guides my doctors for management.  And, oddly, it’s a blessing in my life at times because the flares cause me to rest, and be thankful that my infliction truly isn’t that bad in the scheme of things.

So what defines you?  Do you believe you cannot change because it’s “just the way you are?”  Do you see yourself as the addict or victim?  Or do you see yourself as God sees you.

James 4:10 

Humble yourselves before the Lord,

and he will lift you up in honor. (NLT)

Reading Assignment for Week 4: Chapter 4 of Life’s Healing Choices

Monday: Laurie will discuss Principle 5: The Transformation Choice
Tuesday: Leslie will discuss Why Does It Take So Long?
Wednesday: Kim will discuss How Do We Cooperate With God?
Thursday: Amy will discuss Make The Choice
Friday: Laurie will bring it all back home with a recap of our week

Let’s Pray:

Lord, so many times we view our scars and afflictions as bad things in our lives.  Help us to see these as tools used by Your Hand to change and transform us into the daughters You want us to be.  You desire only the best for us.  You gave Your very best to us in Your Son, Jesus.  Show us the defects within that keep us from freedom and peace.  Allow us to humbly bow to You wisdom and correction in this process.  Amen.

 

Power Verses for Chapter 5:

Psalm 37:5

Matthew 5:6

Romans 12:1, 2

Philippians 1:6

James 4:10

1 Peter 1:13, 14

1 John 1:9

2 Thessalonians 3:3

 ________________

If you are interested in joining us for the amazing online Bible study, and would like to join our private Facebook Discussion Group, click HERE to sign up.  Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 4 – Make The Choice

MAKE THE CHOICE

Search usSearch me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23, 24).

This week’s activities will bring memories to the surface that may have been ignored (or forgotten) for years.  But Jesus promised that the truth will set us free (John 8:32 NLT). So without further delay, let’s get started!

PRAY –

Dear Lord, it is so difficult to look within and admit our hurts.  We guard our hearts and deny the pain because it just hurts too much.  Look within us and guide us through this week’s activity.  Help us be honest with ourselves about the pains we’re hiding, the effects others have had on our lives, and even what we’ve done to others.  Our heart’s desire is to be healthy, to shed the negative emotions that hold us back.  We know that the only way to truly be free is to face our fears and find strength in You.  Give us the strength to discuss with our trusted friends.  Thank you for loving us through it all, no matter what.  Amen.

WRITE –

John Baker outlines on page 116 steps to working through our past hurts through a personal inventory.  You will need several sheets of paper to complete the inventory.  Because of the detailed instructions Baker provides, I will be using his descriptions for this step.

Using a piece of paper, create 5 columns and label at the top: The Person, The Cause, The Effect, The Damage, and My Part.

The Person – List the person or object you resent or fear.  Go back as far as you can.  Remember that resentment is mostly unexpressed anger, hurt or fear.

The Cause – It has been said that ‘hurt people hurt people.’  List specific actions someone did to hurt you.

The Effect – Write down how that specific hurtful action affected your life in the past and in the present.

The Damage – Write down which of your basic needs were injured.  Social: Have you suffered from broken relationships, slander, or gossip?  Security: Has your physical safety been threatened? Have you faced financial loss?  Sexual: Have you been a victim in abusive relationships?  Has intimacy or trust been damaged or broken?

My Part – You need to honestly determine and write down the part of the resentment (or another sin or injury) that you are responsible for.  Ask God to show you your part in a broken or damaged marriage or relationship, a distant child or parent, or maybe a job loss.  List the people you have hurt and how you specifically hurt them.

In 1973, I was a free-spirited 4 year old who didn’t have a care in the world.  I don’t remember much about this time, except for one thing—returning home with my mom, from a visit to my grandparents, to find our home empty.  I remember my mom going from room to room, and the confusion I felt as she looked through everything.  My dad had left.  Packed his things, and just left.  No word, no comment, no goodbye.

On my birthday in 1979, I was getting ready for a sleep over with a couple girlfriends when the phone rang.  My step-dad yelled up for me, “Amy, your dad’s on the phone.”  What?  What did he mean, “My dad’s on the phone?”  I hadn’t heard from my dad in 6 years.  I went to the kitchen to see my mom crying—the only time I’d seen her cry up to this point was because of my dad.  I picked up the phone, and heard the voice.  Yes, it was my dad.  I was shell-shocked, quiet, and I’m sure I must have been confused and angry, too.

I never realized the impact these events would have on my life until I was in my mid-30s.  I had superficial friendships, a desire to know-everything-and-be-perfect, and was facing my first significant depression.  I learned how guarded I was with my heart, because I was convinced that if my dad could leave me, certainly others (less vested in my life) would leave me too.  But if I proved to be invaluable with my knowledge, my skills, my talents…people would HAVE to keep me around!  I was miserable.  I was doing everything to please other people, to make them like me, and I ended up not liking myself.  Through this process, I had relationships that didn’t work (I ended them before they could so I would have control).  I doubted God’s true feelings for me (sure, He says He loves me but so did my dad). 

There’s so much more I could say on how this affected my life, but that’s not the real story.  Having the ability to put aside the hurt and realize that it wasn’t about me.  My dad didn’t leave because of me, and nothing I could have done at the age of 4 would have changed his heart or his mind.  He has his own hurts to deal with and I can’t do it for him.  What I can do is forgive him and move forward.  But I also need to release my misplaced guilt and shame … and truly embrace the truth, “It wasn’t about me.”

God blessed my life with an amazing man in 1976, my stepdad who was, for all intents & purposes, my “dad” for 27 years.  I walked beside him when I got married.  He cradled my daughter as a newborn.  I held his hand in his last days, and heard him whisper “thank you” (the last words he spoke to me).  The day that he passed into God’s glory, my father called me to give his condolences, and added, “I couldn’t have picked a better man to raise you.”  To this day, there is so much power in that phrase that I cannot even begin to express.

Just as those words from my father bring a peace to my heart, I can trust God, The Father, when He says He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:46).  I can trust that I am God’s child (John 1:12), I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10), I am free forever from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2), I am God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), and so many more of the promises found in His Word.

SHARE –

Take time with your trusted friend to go through what you wrote in your inventory.  The lists you created are no one’s business but yours, God’s and the person with whom you choose to share it with. 

_____________________________

Power Verses:
1 Peter 5:10 NCV
Psalm 139:23, 24
John 8:32
Hebrews 13:46
John 1:12
Colossians 2:10
Romans 8:1, 2
Ephesians 2:10

Lord, thank You for being a loving and personal God who allows us to come to Him with our hurts.  You have adopted us as Your own children.  We know that nothing we experience is unknown to You.  Everything has passed through Your hands before we see it.  Help us work through our hurts in an open and honest way, to uncover those emotions & events we’ve been trying to hide for so long.  Jesus said that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.  We cling to this hope and ask for Your truth to shine upon us.  Thank you, Lord, for loving us as only a good Father can.  Amen.

 _____________________________

If you are interested in joining us for the amazing online Bible study, and would like to join our private Facebook Discussion Group, click HERE to sign up.  Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

 

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 4 – The Housecleaning Choice

I do not like you Chapter 4.
I do not wish to read you anymore.

No taking notes, or digging deep
My hurts and pains I wish to keep.

Keep hidden, that is and never known.
Just the thought of them makes me groan!

I do not like this anymore,
Maybe if I stop reading, my head won’t be so sore.

Ah but I know this is not to be.
Moving forward is what He asks of me.

 

Ok, so I am not a poet. Please forgive me! LOL

Sitting down to write the introduction for chapter 4, I was hit by many thoughts and reasons why I wasn’t going to write about it. Quite honestly, the mere thought of what’s ahead for us brings up anxiety and a strong desire to flee as if my hair were on fire. I’ve argued with myself all morning … do I really have to write about this? What if I let it slide for one day? Who will really miss THIS lesson?

The Housekeeping Choice: Coming Clean. Just the title is enough to make me squirm! How about you?

This week we will look at Choice 4: Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.

Ugh … really? Haven’t I already done enough to address my hurts, habits & hang-ups? You really expect me to go THERE? I’m supposed to think about the father who walked out on my mom & me when I was 4, only to return via phone call 6 years later. Hmm, not much fun there. I’m supposed to think about the ex-husband who caused more hurt & pain to me & his family and how it affected me. Uh, yeah, that’s another good one. Oh wait, I’m supposed to look at myself and how I had an affair during my first marriage. It just gets better and better, doesn’t it?

But wait! Matthew 5:8 NLT tells us “God blesses those whose hearts are pure.” What comes to mind when you hear “pure heart”? I like the way The Message puts it GCH_Matt5_8

On page 102, Baker writes “If we are ever to recover from the hurts, hang-ups, and habits in our lives and know the joy of a pure heart, we’ll have to learn how to let go of our guilt and shame, and how to gain a clear conscience.” Are you ready to put your heart & mind right so that you can see God in the outside world?

So no matter how much I don’t want to do chapter 4 (did you expect a study leader to ever say something like that?), I see this chapter as being a critical part of our recovery. Before I can fully understand my behavior patterns and triggers of today, I need to understand some about my yesterdays. I need to forgive myself for the choices I’ve made, just as I need to forgive those who brought me pain.

Psalm 32:12 The Message:

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.

Count yourself lucky— God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him.

 

And, the same passage from The New Living:
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”

Don’t you just love the hope we’re giving in this passage? A clean slate, nothing held against us, complete honesty. Oh, how I want this for my life … and yours!

We’ll see this week what guilt does to us, and how to move past it. There’s so much packed in to this chapter, I’m thinking maybe we should have given two weeks to it! Baker tells us (page 105), “Choice 4 is the one that brings our painful past out in the open so we can deal with it, be cleansed of it, and then move on to health and happiness.” It is this hope that gives me the strength to face chapter 4. Hope in the health & happiness that I’ll find on the other side.

So as you all prepare for the coming week, please know that any apprehensions and fears you may have are shared. We’re getting in to the meat of the process, and it’s not all going to be pretty. But in the midst of the muck, just remember the glory & hope that awaits us all.

1 Peter 5:10 NCV: “And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever. “

Let’s go, my friends, side by side we’ll travel through chapter 4. Spring cleaning will start early this year, but what joys await when we’re finished!

Reading Assignment for Week 4:

Chapter 4: “The Housecleaning Choice”
Monday: Laurie will discuss Principle 4: The Housecleaning Choice
Tuesday: Leslie will discuss Moving Past (Part 1 – steps 1, 2 & 3)
Wednesday: Kim will discuss Moving Past (Part 1 – steps 4 & 5)
Thursday: Amy will discuss Make The Choice & Moral Inventory
Friday: Laurie will bring it all back home with a recap of our week

Let’s Pray:
Lord, I admit that the information from chapter 4 brings apprehension and an element of self-protection & pride. I feel myself becoming anxious and defensive at the mere thought of going through this process. But I know You love me and want only the best for my life. I trust in Your word that You will make me strong, support me, and keep me from falling. This is a promise given to all who know You and call You, Lord. Bless the hearts of the ladies in this study. Keep them focused on the tasks ahead. Do not allow them to be discouraged but to always hold firm to You. Amen.

Power Verses for Chapter 3:
Matthew 5:8
Psalm 32:1-2
Lamentations 3:40
1 Peter 5:10

 

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