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12 Days of Christmas… Finding Your Christmas Joy in the Midst of Recovery.

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Joy

12 Days of Christmas my true love gave to me…stop right there.  As I walked through my mall during the Christmas Holidays of 2012, the last thing I wanted to hear was what my true love gave to me. That Christmas I received gifts of post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, mis-trust, doubt, fear, and endless statements scrolling through my head all starting with “what if”.  Christmas time is not supposed to be like that!

Christmas–the happiest time of year.  Christmas is when all about the world, in the world should be right.  Christmas, the time of year when all about our lives, in our lives should be right, right?  We want the Norman Rockwell picture of life.  Unfortunately, we know we live in a fallen and sin filled world where all is not right and our lives are far from perfect.

So…at Christmas, if all is not right, if your life is not perfect, where do you find your joy?

What if it’s even more than not having the perfect life?  What if you are in the midst of a storm with waves of doubt, anxiety, fear and panic toppling over you?  How do you even begin to keep your head above the water and find joy at Christmastime?

I know where you are.  For the woman or man looking for their missing joy and are reading my simple words, know that you are not alone, I have been there and you can find joy!

Dear friend in the remaining words here I’m gong to try to give you my best tips in finding your Christmas joy in the midst of recovery. Here are 12 tips that are my “12 Days of Christmas” gifts to you.  I hope they will help you find joy in the midst of your storm and find true never ending joy through relationship with Jesus Christ!

1.  A Partridge in a Pear Tree:

Remember that your true love should be the Lord first. Jesus does not fail you.

Deuteronomy 31:8 says,

“The Lord is the one who will go before you.  He will be with you;  he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.

2.  Two Turtle Doves:

Find comfort in the word of God, seek his word for guidance and direction.

Psalm 119:105

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.”

3.  Three French Hens:

Faith, Hope & Love.  Have faith your heavenly father will see you through the storm.  Have hope that with each day you will discover more and more joy.  Love like you have never loved before and not the outer man but the inner soul, the very part of you that your heavenly father looks at.  We have to love like Jesus.

1 Corinthians 13:13

“Now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love”.

4.  Four Calling Birds:

Try not to question the past, although this seems about near impossible at times!  I found even pulling out old Christmas ornaments could quickly send me into a tearful fit as I questioned was any of our previous years of marriage real? Were these memories really what I thought they were? Was it all fake?  Focus on what God has given you right now.  Cling to this verse… we did!  Thank him that he has brought you this far and believe that he can make all things NEW!

Isaiah 43:18-19

18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

5.  Five Golden Rings:

Remember that we all have sinned.  Begin forgiving.  Try to forgive the best you can and ask Jesus to help you the rest of the way.  You have to start somewhere and besides Jesus will not forgive your sins if you can’t forgive.  Sister, brother, I don’t want to take that risk!

Psalm 32:1 says, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”

6.  Six geese a laying:

Layout plans.  Make plans to make new memories this year.  Seize the moment, it is the Holiday’s so we might as well take part!  If you have family or children close by take new pictures in new places and maybe even start some new Christmas traditions.

7.  Seven Swans a Swimming:

Don’t just swim.  Dive in deep.  Really submerge yourself with the distractions of the season and allow the Holiday to take your mind off other things even if for a minute it could be just the escape you need.

Take time to remember why we celebrate Christmas.  We celebrate Christmas to remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came to earth, to walk this earth, to struggle and go through every temptation we could ever imagine and then travel a grueling road to the cross where he died for you and me forgiving us of all our sins–a gift of redemption.  Remember why we celebrate.

8.  Eight Maids of Milking:

Stop and think, remember your calls as a daughter and son of Christ.  Matthew 5:3-4 says, ““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Remember our goal as a Christian Daughter or Son is to show Christ’s love, even for the sorry excuse of a sailor that threw us out in the middle of our storm.  Verse 7 of Matthew 5 says, “The merciful are blessed for they will be shown mercy”.

9.  Nine Ladies Dancing:

Claim your joy.  Speak it.  Proclaim it.  Expect it! Why? Expect it because your God is Able!

Ephesians 3:20-21New International Version (NIV)

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

10.  Ten Lord’s a Leaping:

It is Christmas time and you have to know you are not the only one hurting.  Find the hurting, leap into someone else’s hurt and see if you can be a blessing in the middle of their storm.  Nothing brings joy like being used by the father, your Lord and Savior. The word says that what you do for the least you have done for him!

11.  Eleven Pipers Piping:

Think about his faithfulness!   Ask Jesus to provide.  Ask him to comfort you, lean in and press into your heavenly father like never before.  Psalm 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

12.  Twelve Drummer’s Drumming:

There is not just one beat of a drum there are multiple, repeated, continuous beats going on and on and on.  Know and remember, rest in that there will be more Christmas times, more Holidays and although this one might feel like the hardest one and most hurtful one in your entire life, you get a re-do, you get another, God loves you and that it will be different next time!

Additionally, as each of us get this opportunity every year to celebrate this time of year, let’s remember the storm and struggle that Jesus went though on earth.  He came to earth and we celebrate this, but his life was not easy.  Jesus came here and experienced every temptation that we have yet was perfect.  He achieved perfection yet the plan for his life was to eventually die on the cross for your and my sins so that we could have eternal life beyond this old stormy world.  There is joy in the Lord my friend, find your joy in him.

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Trust ultimately in God. Find your joy in him.  Trust that he has a plan and purpose during this hard “Christmas season” of life.  Find true joy in him.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

 

Merry “Happy 500 Days” Christmas

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Merry “Happy 500 Days” Christmas!

Well, Christmas day was 500 days for my husband and me.  500 days of what?  500 days of learning what it means to start surrendering your life and marriage to your heavenly father.  500 days of learning what it means to be SECOND.  The hardest 500 days of my life.  For 500 days we’ve consistently been in God’s word and prayed together and I can guarantee you without a shadow of a doubt that is why our marriage is still intact. It was through Him not us. It was because of Him not us and it will always be that way.

As Christmas day approached I couldn’t help but think about the gift that came to earth for me and for you, the gift that was sent from God his Son.  His Son came just so he could be our rescue from this world.   It was overwhelming to say the least, to think that my 500 days actually started with Christmas!  Christmas was the day that Christ made the huge sacrifice, descending to this horrible ole crummy earth to walk and live just so that he could eventually hang on a cross and die for our sins. 

We Made it…

we made it to another Christmas, but unfortunately even though my mind knows who to trust in, it didn’t take long before the anxiety of starting a new and another year sets in.  2012 was the worst year of my life, 2013 we were still learning how to come out of 2012 and it certainly brought its own hurts and loss.  2014 scares me to death, my little earthly mind wonders what hurt is around the corner and what the New Year holds for us and if it’s survivable.

Then I heard of an idea, “Looking at the New Year with eyes of FAITH.”  Could be a possibility, but can I do it?

I think that instead of looking at 2014 with and through eyes of fear I need to be determined to look through eyes of FAITH. 

I need to trump the thoughts of what now, with WHAT does GOD have for me?  As day 500 passed, and the Holidays are almost over, I’m easily swarmed with feelings of how and why, fears of how to stretch the dollars of a single income while my husband looks for work and fears of if sexual addictions are really gone.  On the other hand I can rest in assurance that God has this, has had this and will have it!  I can rest in him and trust that every step is according to God’s plan and that my only job every minute of the day is to submit to the authority of the word and my heavenly father’s shaping hands.

I’ll be honest, part of me fears is that my God will let go or that he’ll take a break and that he’s not going to be standing there in 2014 waiting for us, however according to the word– that’s not so.  I know that he tells me through his word that he has never thrown away something in which he began his work.  We are his workmanship and in Ephesians it tells us that.  He doesn’t discard his children, he doesn’t discard me, and I shouldn’t fear 2014.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10

So bring it on 2014, because with my Lord, myself, my husband and my marriage has already weathered revelations and acknowledgments of sex addictions, adultery, habitual lying, financial problems, work related ethical issues that lead to more financial problems and loss of work, multiple reasons to have trust issues and so much more yet we still stand– the three of us, my Husband, my savior and myself. 

Dear Lord,

Please give me the strength to enter 2014 with instead of fear, FAITH—with a focus on YOU and mot me or my circumstances.  May I be a daughter of yours that is continually shaped and used by you this year.  It’s your year; I’m just here to live out your will not mine.  Give me the strength to continually seek you in everything that I do every day of the week.  Please help me be the wife that you want me to be, the mom that you want me to be, the friend and co-worker that you want me to be.  Fulfill in me what you have planned.  Dear Lord, please protect my husband. Please deliver and heal him from head to toe, inside and out.  Please protect his eyes, his mind, his heart. Please guide his thoughts, his hands and his feet.  Dear father, please protect my daughter from the things of this world and what has been brought into our marriage.  Please help her to not feel the sting of her parent’s wrong choices but help her see the commitment to you and each other that now resides.  Thank you, I love you and I need you. 

His Grand Rescue Plan

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CR 13 Los Guido scenery

A Grand Rescue Plan 2500 Miles Away:

My husband, my daughter and I recently returned for a second time from a third world country where we spent a week ministering to others in hope that we could help the missionary and his team earn the right to share the Gospel. 

We’ve supported a girl there with school uniforms for the last three years and this time we had the opportunity to purchase some food staples and hand deliver them to her and her family in her village. How exciting, in my mind I thought what next?  We’re already supporting her so that she can go to school, we provide presents during the holiday’s and in-between, and now we are able to provide a month’s grocery’s and leave more money behind for more.  I quickly realized that I was concentrating on what we were doing, what I could do—not what God could do.

After further discussion with the missionary, my husband and I realized that we were not her rescuers.  Unfortunately as refugees in this country, the likelihood of her even making it to high-school or out of the circumstances she was born into was not going to happen.

The missionary reminded us the reason for being there and doing the things we do, he does and his ministry team did was to earn the right to share the gospel, to be a conduit, and to be used by Jesus and the Holy Spirit so that she can have a relationship with Christ herself – to be rescued by him – to receive VICTORY! 

God can rescue Aimee and he can rescue us.  I love the thought that my Creator of the universe wants a personal relationship with each of us.

Relationship, it’s a big word.  Relationship is not just something that is; it’s something that is built.  I never had a true relationship with the Lord.  I realized last fall that I had lived my entire life working out my salvation, being a good person, but never building a true relationship, meaning no dialogue between myself and my heavenly father, my savior, the one who has rescued me, the one that provides eternal VICTORY!

A Grand Rescue Plan at Home:

“What I have done, is wake up every morning and cry out to God for help to be the wife that he wants me to be.”

I was reminded Sunday in a friend’s sermon all about the Victory that we can find in Jesus.  If you’re a southern girl like me and have ever graced the door of a Southern Baptist country church, you might have heard these words. 

“I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.”

Sound familiar to anyone?                                                                                          

My friend asked the questions, “Do we live in the mire of the pain or do we allow God to move us to a place of Victory?  Victory is a common theme in our Savior’s life but do we truly believe it?”

My goal should be to allow Jesus to take my scars and do something very different with them, different from what I could ever imagine.  We all have scars, lost jobs, hurt relationships, deaths, infidelity, addictions and so many more.

Do we truly give it to the Lord; do we truly ask him to take this hurt, this pain and turn it into what he wants?  Our goal has to be to allow Jesus to take our scars and do something very different than we could ever imagine.

He reminded us, “What if there is a reason for having this scar, a reason for why God allowed this thing to happen in your life”?

The beautiful ending to our stories is that Jesus can bring victory amidst of the pain.  I don’t know about you but despite the hurt in my life over the almost last 11 months I claim victory, VICTORY IN JESUS.

“No, in all these things we are more than victorious
through Him who loved us.”  (Romans 8:37)

I love that no matter what our little girl Aimee has encountered, they can; we can go forward from that.  No matter what has happened in their life or ours we can go forward with Christ with personal relationship and have VICTORY!  He has a grand rescue plan for each of us.

If you are overwhelmed by pain and hurt, know that Jesus wants to overshadow you  in his love.  I’m not saying the road is easy.  It has been the hardest thing to do.  To wake up every morning and say today I’m going to be an encouraging, supportive, loving wife to a recovering sex addict would be inaccurate.  What I have tried to do is wake up every morning and cry out to God for help to be the wife that he —that God — wants me to be.

“Now I know that the Lord gives victory to His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
with mighty victories from[a] His right hand.”  (Psalm 20:6)

 “Dear Lord, take my scars and turn them into what you want them to be.  Please continue to give us strength to seek your face and will daily.  Please use me and my husband.  Please bring beauty from the ashes.  Thank you that you’ve always had a grand rescue plan in mind and that through you we have VICTORY,  Amen.”