May 26, 2017

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 8 Review

■Realize I am not God

■Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, that He has the power to help me recover

■Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control

■Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust

■Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character

■Evaluate all my relationships.  Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others

■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

■YIELD MYSELF TO GOD TO BE USED TO BRING THIS GOOD NEWS TO OTHERS, BOTH BY MY EXAMPLE AND BY MY WORDS

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.
Matthew 5:10

CONGRATULATIONS!!!  You have completed this part of the journey of healing with us.   But it is only the beginning.  God is beginning a great and awesome work in each one of you.  It has been an amazing privilege to go down this path with you and to see how He has been creating new creations in all of us (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This last week of the study, we discussed recycling our pain.  Some quotes to remember from this week:

‘God never wastes a hurt.’

‘What joy it brings our Father in heaven to see our pain turn into something good.’

‘This is your life, child; this is why I’ve allowed so many years of pain and suffering, to help another of My children in need.’

‘We are Redeemed! What greater promise and truth is there?’

Isn’t it absolutely mind-boggling to realize that we serve a Father who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to walk on this earth…to teach us…to be punished and crucified so that we can have this freedom?! His word tells us ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you’ (John 15:7).  All we have to do is believe, receive, walk in His ways, give our hearts to Him, and He will give us the desire of our hearts. I have to say, I think of that and absolutely do a happy praise dance!!  He is so good to us!!

At the end of the book, John Baker shares the Serenity Prayer with us.  When I attended Celebrate Recovery for 2 years, we said this each week.

Prayer for Serenity

God, grant me the serenity (peace John 14:27)
to accept the things I cannot change (only You can),
the courage to change the things I can (be strong and of good courage Joshua 1:9),
and the wisdom to know the difference (Matthew 14:16).
Living one day at a time (patience),
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace (John 16:33);
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is (righteous judgment John 7:24),
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right (trust Psalm 37:3),
if I surrender to Your will (in my weakness, He is strong 2 Corinthians 12:10);
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life (content Philippians 4:11-13)
and supremely happy with You forever in the next (joy James 1:2-4).
Amen!

*parenthesis are my notes as God showed me in the 2 years at Celebrate Recovery

As you say this prayer, remember John 15:7 when He tells us if we abide in Him…we can ask whatever we wish, and it will be done for us. He will give us the desires of our heart.  If we truly believe and walk in this healing, He will answer this prayer with a Yes and Amen!!

Continue to immerse yourselves in His word, surround yourselves with people who will encourage and lift you up, and let Him love you and heal your hurts, habits, and hang-ups continuously.  You have grabbed His hand, now continue to walk with Him down the pathway to peace.  You have received VICTORY in Jesus’ name.

Take some time and listen to this song: 

When you have stopped dancing and celebrating—find the closest mirror, look at the beautiful reflection God has made in you and say, ‘Look at me now, I’m stronger this time around!!’

Let’s Pray:

Gracious Father, we cannot find enough words to express our thankfulness for the grace, love, and healing You have given us.  Our hearts are overflowing with joy that You love us enough to clothe us in Your righteousness.  Father, take our hurts, pain, habits, and hang-ups and use them to glorify Your name.  It is only through You that we can truly say we are healed, we are stronger now, and we can trust that You will continue to take us on this journey to completion.  As we finish this study, help us to push on, stay committed to this healing You have given us.  Place people in our lives that will encourage and walk beside us.  Bless each one that is reading this prayer, Father, and their families. Father, we cannot say enough how much we love You.  We do give all the glory and honor to You daily. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Please be sure to check out our Facebook Fan Page on Monday, when we will announce our next online Bible study!! You won’t want to miss this one!  

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

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 8 – “How Can We Use Pain to Help Others” (pgs 247-250)

“This is your life, child; this is why I’ve allowed so many years of pain and suffering, to help another of My children in need.” God spoke these words to me, not too long ago. It’s amazing, the second great commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself and that love must be shared by sharing your story of hope, so that all can see Jesus in you. 1 Peter 5:2-4Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not because you must, but because you are willing as God wants you to be. Not greedy for money but eager to serve, not lording over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

The phone rang over the weekend. She wanted to give up, throw in the towel—just keep doing what she was doing until it finally took her from this life. Alcohol had its grip on her, and she cannot stop this cycle. Going to bed with the shame of doing exactly what she promised herself she wouldn’t do and waking up with so much pain that she didn’t have a choice, but to repeat the events of yesterday. She needed hope , not from someone who had it all together always, but from someone who has experienced falling apart—someone like me. She knows my God put all my pieces back together, and she wanted to know how. She talked and let it all out, over 400 days of the habit. She just needed hope. Who knew my pain was for a purpose? He did!!!!  I am so thankful and grateful and humbled to be His servant, that He entrusted me with such a story of addiction, recovery, forgiveness, and a life changed through Him and for Him.

The “Y” in Recovery stands for yield. “Yield your heart, mind and body to God.” Here’s what He wants from your yield:  take your everyday, ordinary life—your eating, sleeping, going to work, play—and place it before God as an offering. He will use every bit of your life, recycle it and help so many! Embrace what He does for you!  It’s the best thing you can do for others! Don’t become so well adjusted to your life that you forget the main purpose. What is that purpose, you say? Use your mess for His ministry.

The “Y” in Recovery also stands for YOU. You are amazing and so worth all His efforts!  See, He loves you that much, to not just leave you in a state of contentment, but to make you see how desperately you need Him and how desperately others need to see your dependence on Him. Don’t waste what has happened to you!!  Fear not, He will guide you to who needs you most.

1 Peter 3:14 says “Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord; always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect–keeping a clear conscience so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” That pretty much tells you word for word how to tell your story. His word is our guide, my friend.

Ask boldly for the strength to carry His message and pray for discernment. His Spirit will guide you to who needs answers; answers to questions like…How did you recover? How did you do it? On the hard days when you couldn’t muster the strength for mascara, how did you even pour the milk for the children’s cereal? How did you breathe and put one foot in front of the other? What kept you from giving up? You know your story, and you know how you made it. Don’t waste it, I keep repeating this, but it’s just so crucial to your own recovery as well as someone else. You will get more out of this than they will. On Sunday, when I was reminded of still being in that pit, I knew I never wanted to go back. God sends us those to remind us of how it was and how we don’t ever have to go back there.

I end this with praise and a reminder that there is strength in numbers.  There is strength in His name, there is healing in His name, and redemption in His name. Be the light to all; use your story, His story. Go ye into all the world and tell everyone who will listen…

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, You have been so evident and present in our lives these past weeks and years. You have spoken to us through Your Word as if You were sitting right next to us. You have brought us to this place. We know now You have a plan. You are inviting us to share Your truths with hungry and thirsty men and women. As we now prepare to lead Your sheep, please prepare the hearts of those You are calling. Give them a hunger in their hearts, an open schedule, and a desire for more of You and a hope that comes from You. Give us a love for each and every one, no matter who You bring our way. Give us Your vision and wisdom as we step out and tell our story and recycle our pain for Your purpose. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.



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If you would like to email Kim in regards to this post, please email her at kim@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

 

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 7 – The Causes Of Relapse (pp 208-211)

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

James 4:10

 

Today we are going to take a look at the Causes of Relapse:

1. We Revert to our own willpower
2. We ignore the choices
3. We try to recover without support
4. We become prideful

I use to tell myself, if I just don’t go to a bar, drink any alcohol, start going regularly to church, and stay away from people who party and drink, then I do not ever have to worry about relapse. Ha! While these things are good to follow, it’s not always going to work. In fact, without any support—whether your addiction is alcohol, drugs, sex, food, etc.,—more than likely you will relapse without support. Why is it so hard for us to understand that we cannot do these things on our own? Here we go again with trying to take back control and do things our self. It seems like after failing so badly before, we would not try it again. There is that stubbornness in us. Here is a simple example—me cutting my hair (maybe you can relate). I always mess it up. I think that if I just hold my bangs at a different position, then it should turn out straight and will look better. Besides, I don’t need to spend money by getting a hairdresser to do it when I can. Reality is…I can’t. I always mess it up trying to do it myself. I end up with crooked bangs that always need to be straightened out by the hairdresser. It seems like after trying this so many times and failing, I would finally realize that I need someone to do it for me.

This may be a silly example, but the basic idea applies to everything we have a hard time with. We need help from others. When we are in the middle of a crisis, if we are struggling and thinking about picking up that cigarette we quit a few years ago, wouldn’t it be a good idea to talk with someone who might remind us that it’s not good to go that direction again.  We need someone to talk to. Yes, God above all is who we go to and pray for help, share our hurts, fears, and tears with, but He wants us to reach out to others and to be in healthy relationships. If someone we know can talk with us when we get frazzled and feel like we are falling, they can help get us back up. We cannot do it alone.

In the Bible it says, 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 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 Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. The point is that we need others. We need someone who will hold us accountable, support us, and encourage us.

One of the biggest problems I deal with is my pride. During the last 2 years there have been times I thought, “Wow, I’m doing so good…not having cravings anymore…and I am finally getting on with my life, and it’s all good! My depression has lifted, and anxiety is lessened.  I don’t need to talk to my friends and husband about my problems anymore. They probably don’t want to hear it after all they put up from me in the past. Besides, they think I am doing so good, I can’t let them down or admit I am struggling a bit, that would mean defeat. All the work staying sober, forming new relationships, and my new life I have given to Christ, no way will I feel defeat!”

My pride is a HUGE defect. I blame others for why I react in anger. I tell myself it’s their fault and I shouldn’t be the one to apologize. Pride is something I struggle with and want to change. But, thankfully, I am starting to see it in myself more each day. I don’t like the way I feel afterward. Honestly, I can only describe it as a conscience and although I don’t want to admit I’m ever wrong, I do try. I don’t always do it, but deep down I know it’s the right thing to do. It feels super good to do the right thing and be humble. Pride can take us places that can destroy our relationships and it builds a wall between us and God. Baker states, “The Bible reminds us, ‘If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12.  Baker goes on to say, you have been working hard on “getting it all together,” “but you don’t have it all together.” So what’s the secret to lasting recovery? Baker states that we are to live in humility. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up James 4:10.

The best protection against relapse is Humility.

No one is perfect. No one has everything all together. If you think you do, watch out. Our greatest weakness is often unguarded strength. Just remember these words, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12. Watch out, and be careful.

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Let’s Pray:

Father God, thank You for Your love, forgiveness, patience, and strength You give us. Lord, it’s hard to humble ourselves. We seek help doing this. Teach us humility. Lord, reveal to us our pride. Help us to reach out and ask for help. Lord, we need You in all things! Lord, without You we fall. Thank You for always protecting us and giving us relationships with friends who we can lean on. We love You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Your Assignment:

Spend some special time with the Lord today. Ask Him to reveal areas in your life you need help with. Write these down and find that friend to share with. Let go of that pride!

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

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 5 – How to Cooperate with God’s Change Process

Let’s go ahead and admit that we KNOW we need change or we wouldn’t be in this group right now, right? We wouldn’t be going through this painful process of reliving our past mistakes and confessing it all to a friend, right? I remember when I came to the end of myself and realized I definitely had a drug addiction problem, I was addicted to painkillers.

It was Spring Break 2001 and I was home with the children; we were supposed to be enjoying each other. I had planned all these fun activities yet I couldn’t function. I had taken the last four pills that morning and my body was screaming for more. I did not have any and I had to think quick. That is how insane my life was then—before surrendering to Jesus. I spent all my time thinking about it, driving to get it, lying to doctors, lying to family, sitting in waiting rooms; all the while knowing this isn’t what God created me for.

In this chapter we read a lot about our thoughts becoming our life. What you think about most will become your god. If that’s true—and it is—why not place our thoughts on Him? Read and study His word and know what His plan looks like for our lives. I remember being extremely frustrated that I couldn’t will myself back into a healthy way of life. I remember thinking that I had lived my life before without drugs so why is it so hard to get back there? I had to have help.

When I came back from treatment, the only thing that had changed was the drugs. I came home to the same place, the same people. and the same problems. Which proves what the author says, that the drug is only a symptom of a bigger problem. It starts with something; for me it was self-esteem. I never felt good enough. I didn’t believe His truth about me, that I was created in His image, and that I am just as I am supposed to be. His masterpiece. I had everything physically going for me, a huge house, nice car, 4 children, a husband that loved me, physically fit, and when I looked in the mirror, I liked what I saw physically. But spiritually there was something missing.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. We did not get here overnight and we will not heal overnight, but little by little as we change our focus from inside us to Jesus, we will be transformed to who He created us to be.

I needed help to learn to live again and He sent me a close friend who literally gave her time every day for 9 months, except weekends. She came from 8 am-4pm and held my hand as I learned to do the simple things—washing clothes, keeping a tidy house, cleaning out the clutter, cleaning out my car, taking care of my children’s needs and my husband’s, making beds. It may sound crazy to you but I had never focused on running a home like Jesus wanted me to. My friend made me a schedule and I followed it. She changed my life, and the life of my children. Don’t you see? God sent her to me! He answered my prayer and physically guided me through her. He can do anything if you ask.

Our God is a selfish God. He wants all of you, not just most of you. He must be your focus. I remember a time in my life when my prayer list was all petitions for me and my life. I thought I was focusing on Him by prayer, yet my prayer life was all about me. You have to be careful not to become selfish in your prayer life. Praise Him! Thank Him! Worship Him! A simple prayer that has become a daily for me is this: empty me of me so that I can be filled with You.

This chapter gives you steps to changing your focus. Make sure you read them, study them, look up the verses that are in each step and keep them in a safe place. And lastly, make sure you allow Him to be your pilot.  We’ve proven that our willpower is not enough to change our behaviors, but He is. So let’s allow HIM to continue the work He started in us when He created us. Let’s walk so close to Him that we can touch His garments.

Character defects, my friend, cannot be improved, they must be removed and He alone can do it.

I leave you with some words from your God:

The Lord said, for you must go wherever I send you, and say whatever I tell you and don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you, I, the Lord, have spoken.  Jeremiah 1:7, 8

You will always reap what you sow. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest consequences of decay and death- But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.  Galatians 6:7, 8

Please try His way. You can always go back to your way if His doesn’t work for you, you know? It’s your choice.  I choose Him.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, we praise You and love You and worship You today. Lord, you are our Stronghold, our strength, our tower, our Creator and King. You are perfect and Your ways are amazing. You provide our every need, even in the desert. You are our Living Water and with You we will thirst no more. I pray for each one of these precious ladies in this study…You alone know their hearts and You know their needs. Please reveal Yourself to each one today in an amazing way; let them feel Your presence, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Your assignment:

Read through the steps listed in this section and write the verses in your journal. Tell us your favorite one or the one that spoke loudest to you. Praying for you always!!!

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If you are interested in joining us for this amazing study, click HERE. Once we receive your registration, we will email you further instructions.

If you would like to email Kim regarding this post, please do so at: Kim@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 5 – The Transformation Choice

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

Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.
Matthew 5:6

Woo-Hoo Ladies!!  You are absolutely awesome!  We have taken some amazing steps on this journey.  First admitting we had a problem and were absolutely powerless over it.  Then we began to understand that God could and will help us to overcome that hurt, habit or hang-up if we seek Him and turn our lives over to His care and control.  We started writing our spiritual inventory and are sharing our lives with a trusted person.  Wow – that is a lot of hard work and you should each be doing a praise dance with the Lord right now.  I know you may feel tired and think ‘no way, I’m going to take a nap.’  But take some time to realize you have come a long way in this journey and God is pleased. ‘But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.’ Hebrews 13:16

Now that you have realized what you want God to change or control, are you ready to let Him? Chapter 5 is all about change – now we all do not like this word.  It can be scary, fun or an adventure.  Moving forward into the unknown can be frightening, yet exciting.  I was so excited when the verse used for this process was Romans 12:1-2.  (These verses became my life verses over three years ago when I walked away from the gay lifestyle.) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  I mean I had just walked out of a lifestyle into a world of the unknown.  I had to walk away from almost all of my friends and change all the places I went to.  I had to look at myself and ask – who am I?  What do I even like now?  God began showing me that I was a new creation, my sins were forgiven and He loves me.  He was going to lead and teach me if I would do one thing.  Offer myself wholly to Him – keep my mind focused on Him and allow Him into my heart.  I was to keep away from the things of the past and renew my mind.  That is where He wanted me – if I became willing, He is always able.

Let’s break those verses down into the character defects John Baker talks about in the book.

Biological/Chromosomes: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God….” We inherited some of our strengths, weaknesses, physical and emotional traits from our parents. We did not choose our parents, DNA or some of our tendencies toward addictions.  However, none of these inherited traits give us the right to some of the behaviors we have chosen.  We are to offer our bodies as sacrifices to God.  We are to be willing…Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. Psalm 143:10

Sociological/Circumstances: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world….” Where we were raised, the environment, what we saw, how those around us behaved all contributed to our character. Again, we did not have the opportunity to choose how those around us behaved or what our parents taught us.  These behaviors or experiences actually shaped some of our hurts, habits or hang-ups.  Out of our reactions, coping skills or hurt – we stepped into certain habits or addictions.  As I stated before, when I walked out of my lifestyle, I had to walk away from many people, activities and places. We are not to conform back to our hurts, habits or hang-ups.  ‘Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.’ 1 Peter 1:13, 14 

 Theological/Choices:  “But be transformed by the renewing of your mind….” We can change the choices we have made that have driven us into hurts, habits or hang-ups.  When we remove one of our old habits, we must be able to replace it with a good choice.  Spend quiet time in His word, prayer time, volunteer at your church or a ministry in the area, go to a Bible study, (depending upon your hurt, habit or hang-up) find a support group in your area – these are a few things I found that transformed my mind into healthy habits.  Luke 5:36 talks about not putting a piece of new cloth onto an old garment, the old will tear.  Also, the new piece will not match the old.  2 Corinthians 5:17: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed, behold all things have become new.

We have become new creations by an amazing Creator!  Are you ready and willing to allow God to take away those defects that you are holding onto?  Another way to phrase that question – are you ready and willing to become free of what has been dragging you down?  Make the choice.  He is ready to step in and give you your heart’s desire.

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Let’s Pray:

Most Gracious Father, we are humbly coming before You with open hearts.  We know we have made choices that have not been pleasing to You.  Help us to be completely willing to allow You to change all our shortcomings.  Teach us, Lord, to do Your will, to not conform to what the world may show us, but to allow You to lead us away from some of our old habits and into Your new path.  Your Word says to be strong and courageous; Lord, we want to be strong through these changes.  Heal the hurts of each one of us and help us to be the people You want us to be.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Your Assignment:

We have talked about being willing to allow God to take control and change or remove our character defects.  Have you been able to release control? After you have read the blog, go to our private Facebook page and share a positive change you have seen in your life through your releasing control.

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If you are interested in joining us for the online Bible study, click HERE. Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

If you would like to send a private message to Laurie in regards to this blog, please email her at Laurie@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. 

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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.

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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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If you are interested in joining us for this amazing Online Bible Study, click HERE to sign up.  Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

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

Amy@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 3 — Make the Choice

MAKE THE CHOICE

Choice 3: Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.

Over the past two weeks we’ve been reading and sharing a lot about the issue of control.  It seems to be a common thread in our lives – control the world around us in our way and hope it all works out as we planned.  But as we’ve seen we don’t have the power to control our lives, despite what we may think.  It is only through surrendering to His control that we truly find life.

As I went back through my book for today’s blog, I was struck again by John Baker’s personal story on page 81.  I  felt as if I was reading my own story.  I was saved at 14, and did all that I thought I was supposed to do – Sunday School, youth groups, retreats, even Christian college.  But something was still missing.  In my youth, I surrendered all I thought I should surrender, but it wasn’t truly ALL of my life.  From college I made wrong choices with relationships, hurt people closest to me, and kept running from the one person who could truly set me free from my fears and worries.  God.  And, just like John Baker, no matter how bad my choices were, God was still waiting for me with outstretched arms.  I can think back to times He was trying to get my attention and pull me back, but I brushed it off and kept going “my way.”

When I ended an engagement at a young age, I heard God questioning my decision.  But He just didn’t understand.  When my husband said we were moving out of state, against my wishes, I heard God telling me to speak up.  But He just didn’t understand.  When I battled infertility, I cried out to God begging to know what I did wrong to deserve this trial.  I didn’t hear Him respond.  When I was starting an affair, God was calling me out.  But He just didn’t understand.  When my marriage fell apart and I was moving the next guy in, God tried to get my attention again.  But He just didn’t understand.  Do you see a pattern here?  Me, a little speck on this earth, telling the God of the Universe that He doesn’t understand!  Wow, talk about pride!

On May 11, 2001 the world came crashing down around me in ways that no one could have ever seen coming.  People I thought were friends left me.  Family no longer supported me because it was too difficult a reminder of what my ex had become.  There was no greater example in my life of how little control I really have over anything than at this time of my life.  But, I also heard God very clearly that night, “Do I have your attention THIS time?”  He wasn’t judging me, or giving me any “I told you so” type lectures.  He greeted me with open arms and the patient love only the Father can give.

God reminded me that He had been with me all the way, through every poor decision, every time I pushed Him aside because He didn’t understand my plans and way of doing life.  He also reminded me of one precious gift He had given to me, a little ray of sunshine I called my daughter.  She was the inspiration I needed to get out of bed and keep moving until I could think clearly during these rough days.  She had no one but me, so I had to keep going.  I realized that while He didn’t bring the chaos and pain to my life, He allowed it to happen for my good.    We are reminded of this in Romans 8:28: “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)

Two years later, I heard a song on the radio that brought instant tears to my eyes … another God-message for me.  Martina McBride released a song called “In My Daughter’s Eyes” and sings, “She was sent to rescue me”.  (http://youtu.be/eLS0Y40WwlA)   I truly believe that God sent my daughter to rescue me, and to return me to His fold.  You see, by medical standards she should not be here.  Doctors cannot explain how I was able to get pregnant and managed to carry a child to term with the health issues I experienced.  Seven years of infertility and suddenly, this miracle.  The last time my doctor said this to me was after my hysterectomy in 2010.  We were discussing the pathology report and his surgical findings, and he said, “I just don’t know how your daughter is here.”  I just smiled and said, “That’s because you didn’t create her.”  I knew she was fully and entirely God’s plan for my life.   But through her life, God gave me the wake-up call I needed to throw up my hands in surrender, and return to His open arms.

PRAY –

This week, we focused on committing ALL of our lives to Christ, not just the areas we think He should have, but ALL areas.  As I read Chapter 3, I was reminded of a song from my early church days, “I Surrender All.”  This clip is one of my favorite versions by Jaden Lavik.

http://youtu.be/uaTXNxUXcn4

Now is the time to ask Christ in to your heart if you have not already done so.  Admit you are powerless without Him, acknowledge His death on the cross for your sins, and the power of His resurrection for your eternal salvation.  Are you ready to make this decision for Christ?

If you are part of this study and do know Christ, use this time to rededicate your whole life to Him, asking Him to take full care and control over the areas of your life you’ve previously guarded.  As the song says, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.”  He won’t bully His way in and take over.  It’s a choice you must make to freely turn over your life.

WRITE –

1 Corinthians 5:17 tells us “this means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

What does this verse mean to you?

Go back to your notes from Chapter 1, how do you feel today compared to when you first made those notes?

What are you having a difficult time surrendering to God?

What are some things you will ask God to do in your “new life”?

 

SHARE –

 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Making a decision to commit your life to Christ is the most important decision you will make in your life.  Yes, more important than your choice of spouse, career, or home.  This decision remains with you for eternity, and what an awesome promise that is for us!

Take time this week to let others know about the reason for the changes in your life.  Share with them about the freedom, joy and hope you are learning to experience.  Encourage them to surrender to His care and control and allow Him to change their lives, too.

 ___________________

Power Verses:

Ephesians 1:13 NIV

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

Acts 16:31 NLT

Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.

2 Timothy 3:16 NLT

All Scripture is inspired by God and 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.

 Phil 4:13 CEV

Christ gives me the strength to face anything.

 

Lord, what a precious gift You have offered to each of us!  You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.  We admit that our choices haven’t followed Your plans for us, but we seek to follow You more closely.  We surrender our lives to You, placing ourselves fully in Your care and control.  We know that You desire the best for us, and we need to learn to trust this truth on a daily basis.  Thank You for Your awesome gift and the blessings You have given to each of us.  Amen.

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

Amy@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: The Commitment Choice

Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Matthew 5:5 (TEV/NIV)

During our second week of the Life’s Healing Choices study, I was confronted in several areas of my life where I must have control.  When I don’t feel like I have the desired level of control, the world spins around me and anxiety reigns in an ugly way.  Conflicts arise in my relationships with my kids & my husband, and the anxiety just grows and grows.  And, gaining my perceived level of control doesn’t make anything better because those around me are already irritated and annoyed with my actions.  So when I read the first page of Chapter 3, I knew this week is going be even more hard-hitting for me.

John Baker writes, “We take desperate measures, trying to keep our life’s hurts, hang-ups, and habits up in the air so they don’t come crashing down around us.  We try so hard to keep up a good front- pretending that everything is okay – when in reality, we’re struggling with real pain and real issues that we desperately try to ignore.”  He continues, “we start feeling guilty about our behavior … I should be able to change.”   Yep, once again, I admit … that’s me.  Juggling everything for everybody, hoping nothing comes crashing down, yet I’m crawling inside with anxiety, worry, and fear that my lack of control will be found out.  I should be able to do it all!  I should be able to change the world around me!  I should … I should … I should.

Ah, but there’s where the problem lies.  I was never designed to do it all, or be all.  Especially not in my own power, strength, and energy.  We saw last week how we must plug in to God’s power to overcome our past experiences, and daily strive to become closer to Him.  This week’s lesson will be on letting go. 

_______

Choice 3: Consciously choosing to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.

We will learn the things that keep us from making this choice, how to move forward & toward Him more, and how God will be with us every step of the way.

Remember, God never told us that life would be easy.  But He did promise that our load would be lighter and easier to bear if we allowed Him to walk alongside us.  Matthew 11:28-30 reminds us…

Matthew11_28thru30

When I read that verse, I think of my idea in 2011 to participate in the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati.  I’m not a runner, but I can walk.  I walk every day … from the parking lot to my office building.  I walk with the family … at fairs, festivals and activities on weekends.  I can handle walking for 13.2 miles … without formal training … because I walk every day!  Pretty crazy, isn’t it?  Well, that was my thinking at the time.  But I showed up, and started walking before dawn that gray, rainy May day.  I saw friends at the 3 mile mark that had come to cheer for our group of walkers.  By the time I saw mile 6, I was near tears.  I did not expect the hills and inclines during the walk, and started doubting my ability to finish.  I condemned myself … “What were you thinking?  Whatever made you think you could do this?  You’ll never finish!”

So, what did I do?  I called a girlfriend in Virginia who had participated in long walking events and cried.  She encouraged me, told me she was proud of me for trying, and said to keep going.  I sent text messages to my mom, and received periodic messages asking where I was in the walk.   I reached out to those who could help me move forward, and 4 hours 7 minutes after I started, I actually finished the half-marathon.  I had blisters on one foot, pain in my hip & ankle from shifting my gait to avoid more blisters, but I finished.  My sister, who had completed the route as a runner, met me at the finish line and told me she was proud of me. While my Encourager’s may not have been with me physically, they helped bear my burden of doubt, provided encouragement, and kept me moving forward … one step at a time.

God may not be physically visible & touchable in our lives.  But He is still there giving us the encouragement, the strength, and the “YOU CAN DO IT” that we need.  Will you turn to Him for whatever challenges you face this week?

 

 Reading Assignment for Week 3: Chapter 3 of Life’s Healing Choices
Monday: Laurie will discuss Principle 2: The Commitment Choice
Tuesday: Leslie will discuss Beginning to Move Forward
Wednesday: Kim will discuss Stepping Across the Line
Thursday: Amy will discuss Make The Choice & Action Steps
Friday: Laurie will bring it all back home with a recap of our week

 

Let’s Pray:

Lord, we have all tried to manage our lives on our own, and we’ve failed to do it in ways that fully honor You.  Show us through the week’s study how we can fully turn over all areas of our lives to You.  Your Word promises that we have already been given ALL blessings, so help us recognize daily where You have shown mercy on us.  You will give us the power, strength and desire to do all that’s before us, but we need to surrender to You first.  Thank you for loving us with a love that knows no end.  Amen.

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Power Verses for Chapter 3:

Romans 10:9

Matthew 17:20

Matthew 11:28-30

Psalm 37:5

Psalm 25:5

2 Corinthians 1:9

Psalm 143:10

Proverbs 3:6

 _______________________

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: Week 2 – Truth About God

Today, as we continue to explore Choice 2 (the Hope Choice), we are going to talk in detail about the three magnificent truths about God:

1) God exists

2) I matter to Him

3) He has the power to help me.

My daughter loves to do science experiments. I realized how quiet she was one afternoon. I looked around the house and noticed she was on the back deck. She had a box of baking powder, 3 cups with water, and a bottle of vinegar. She wanted me to come watch her amazing (trick) experiment she learned at church. She showed me what would happen when adding different amounts of baking soda and vinegar to the cups. She smiled and giggled after showing me the cause and effect from her volcanic eruption experiment.

My reason for the story relates to belief in God. Do you believe God exists? The Bible makes it clear that belief in God is essential: “Anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek HimHebrews 11:6. Most people do acknowledge that God exists. Where there is an effect, there must be a cause, (just like the example of the volcanic experiment shown from my daughter). We can see that where there is creation, there must be a Creator. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20. (NLT)

Ok, so most people believe God exists; but the bigger question is, do you believe you matter to Him? The reason a lot of us don’t know we matter to God is that we don’t really know what God is like. I remember right before I started my walk, I asked everyone I could to tell me what God is like. I even had a few tell me I could create who I wanted my God to be and the qualities I wanted from Him. Our personal perception of God is not what matters. What does matter is the truth of who He really is. This is where we have a hard time with trust. It’s very difficult trying to trust something or someone that we do not know about or understand. John Baker said in this chapter, “Until we know God’s true character, we can’t completely trust Him.”

Growing up, I had a very hard time with trust due to my relationship with my father and a few male relationships in my teens. Unfortunately, these feelings and hurts carried into my adulthood until this past year. I had a very hard time trusting, especially males. Our relationship with our parents can actually affect what our perception of our Heavenly Father might be. The truth is, as humans we are flawed. These flaws result in treating each other in hurtful and unloving ways. The truth is, God is love and can be nothing but love. We must be careful not to confuse our experiences with man/men with the reality of who God is.

King David had much sorrow in his life, and he said of God, “You have listened to my troubles and have seen the crisis of my soul.” Our situations in life are the same. Whatever you’re going through right now, Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. “Psalm 34:18”. God’s character shows us just how great His love is for us by sending Christ to die for us. I don’t know about you, but I think this is what gives me the trust in my Heavenly Father. God’s compassion for His children is so incredible and unconditional! How does that make you feel knowing God loves you so much and cares about every hurt that has you heartbroken?

In Psalm 56:8 (NLT) says: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” We may think nobody knows what we are going through, or can’t understand what happened…but God does. God knows us, cares about us and can change the situation.

Lastly, I would like you to really think about this question. What hurt, hang-up, or habit today, or from the past, just doesn’t seem to go away, such as a dead relationship, or even an addiction? Does this situation seem hopeless to ever change? I didn’t think my situation would ever change; in fact, I truly felt absolutely hopeless! Not one person ever told me that I would ever be healthy again. My doctors told me at one point, I was probably going to die, or continue to have shock treatments and hospitalization for my major depression for the rest of my life. Talk about feeling hopeless! But today, I laugh as I write this. Reason being, I know God has the power to change a situation because He sure changed mine! I no longer feel that deep depression and the desire to die any longer. I have been delivered from that agonizing depression deep in my soul and I feel great joy to be alive. Now this IS a miracle of healing that is only of God!

I DECLARE HE HAS THE POWER TO CHANGE YOU AND YOUR SITUATION!


Let’s Pray:

Father, we come to You today because we believe in You. We can trust that You are always with us and care so much for us. Thank You God for showing us Your great love by sending Christ to die for us. Lord, we believe You have power to change us and our situations that have seemed so hopeless. Lord, we thank You for Your love and the hope we find in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Your Assignment:

Write down what situations you have been dealing with that have seemed hopeless to ever change. Then ask yourself, do I now feel and believe in my heart, that God can change it? Write it, pray about it, and please share it. (Remember this is a PUBLIC forum. You do have the ability to sign in anonymously, if you wish.)



If you are interested in joining this Online Bible Study, and becoming a member of our private online discussion group, please click HERE to sign up. Once you are registered, we will email you further details.

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