Archive for the Family Category

Perspective and attitude

Perspective has a way of changing your attitude. Being the control freak that I am, my perspective has always been self-centered. My personal comfort took priority in how I looked at the world and situations. When things didn't (or don't) go the way I think they should, I end up on the pity pot only seeing the bad and never the good. This has been most evident with my relationship with my dad. Yes the verbal abuse did a lot of damage. Yes, the lack of affirmation negatively affected me psychologically which in turn affected every relationship I've ever had with anyone including God. This was understandable and even excusable when I was a child. I didn't have the capacity as a child to do anything more than develop ways to cope that allowed me to emotionally survive. Those coping skills long outlived their usefulness. Since my mom worked outside the home when I was a child, I spent a lot of time with my dad. It was practically 24x7 until I started school so I am naturally like him in many ways. My mom did her best to counter many of the negative traits I picked either by imitation or genetics, but in ways that did not teach me to disrespect either of them. I am grateful for that now. Now I can see him as a father who did the best he could amidst his own character defects. And he tried to raise me to be respectful of others and independent and grounded in faith in God. I just finished reading Barnabas Piper's book The Pastor's Kid. I'm a deacon's kid, but much of what Barnabas wrote mirrored my own DK experience. I found much healing through his experience as a PK. I can now look my on my dad with a different perspective not only because of what Barnabas wrote of his experience, but also through working through my own issues and character defects. Daddy taught small groups off and on at church up until I was 15. Throughout those years I saw him do a lot of study in preparation for teaching. He didn't do it silently and would discuss it with my mom. It one pretty much one sided, but he was teaching as he was preparing to teach. I reaped the benefits of his preparation in that I was given a strong foundation for my own faith. Both he and my mom always encouraged me to study scripture for myself and not just blindly believe everything I heard either from the pulpit or from the classes I was in.
Acts 17:11 NIV " Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
This was instilled in me more deeply than Missionary Baptist doctrine. Daddy learned what other denominations believed and taught me that as well even going to far as to teach me there was no doctrinal difference between Missionary Baptists and Southern Baptists. He made sure that I knew salvation was in Jesus and not in a particular church. That was a priceless gift. When I started kindergarten, Daddy sat me down one day and had what I thought at the time was a weird talk. He talked to be about black people. Up to this point, I really hadn't been around many black people because church and family were lily white. I don't have any preschool memory of black people who weren't on TV. He made it a point to explain to me that there was no difference between us and black people except for skin pigmentation and that didn't matter. They had the same hearts and minds and I was never ever to call a black person "nigger" because it was hurtful. When I was older the conversation made sense, and it's another thing I am grateful for because even though I wasn't able to completely escape Southern culture race issues, that one conversation always came back to me to remind me that we are all human and I need to respect and love other people no matter our outside differences. It's what's inside that matters. Daddy was a very smart man who could do just about anything. He was electrician, plumber, auto mechanic, small engine mechanic, gardener, and carpenter. He was also a fantastic cook who made the best apple and coconut cream pies I've ever eaten. He taught me much of that though mostly by watching and listening. But I do remember him taking the time to teach me how to do simple auto maintenance like checking and adding fluid and changing a tire. He is why I know my way around a breaker or fuse box. Throughout my childhood he did a lot of electrical, plumbing, and carpenter work for his sisters, widows in our community, and other family and friends. He taught by example to help others. And much of those skills he taught me explicitly were done before he went to prison I think because he saw I had the desire and the capacity to do minor maintenance and repairs that my mom lacked. She could cook and clean, and even do some gardening, but because she worked full time, she didn't have time to do everything that needed to be done and had no inclination towards mechanical stuff. He ensured we weren't left hanging, utterly dependent on other people for little things. I remember when I played softball, Daddy would practice with me. I hated it most of the time because he and Mom both concentrated on my weakest area of catching which was grounders that I had to run for. Haha. He only missed one of my softball games. He didn't miss any basketball game I played. He was there for every play and concert. When I was in the hospital he was there when my mom needed to go home and rest and a lot of the time when she was there too. He made me stay in bed when I was sick and made me drink lots of water and made my favorite foods so that I would actually eat. He helped me with homework and would play games with me. He even taught me how to play poker. Thankfully I didn't get inherit his ability to count cards and don't like losing money so as not to have a gambling problem. ;-) He was overprotective in a lot of ways and tended to over and under react, but I understand now that it was fear that caused it. He didn't necessarily love me in the ways I wanted, but he did love me and I can look back and see that now. He made many mistakes, but he made those because he had his own sickness and demons to contend with. He couldn't be a perfect dad because he was human. But he did love me and he did try the best he could to raise me to put my faith in God and to grow up to be a responsible adult rather than a perpetual impulsive child. For that I can be grateful and honor him with love and respect.

Moving on

My name is Martha, and I am a Missionary Baptist deacon's kid (DK). And I'm an alcoholic. I just reported the latter to my security officer so it can't be used against me now. My co-workers know too. My mother does not, and I intend to keep it that way because that might be the one thing she doesn't forget. ;) And I got sober before I got the nose ring. haha! :) I was told not too long ago that I have been pretty open about blogging about my "junk." Well, now that I have dragged all of my skellingtons out of the closet to my sponsor (and lived through it), I feel much more comfortable sharing my junk publicly. Because I kept a lot of crap bottled up for so long that I nearly imploded. It's been a year now since my emotional breakdown which could in a sense be considered my rock bottom even though it took me a while after that to admit that my drinking was a problem that was perpetuating my other problems. I read a couple of articles this morning that hit home and prompted me to be willing to put some more of my junk out there. 5 Reasons Pastors Kids are Leaving the Church – Guest Post by Emily Wierenga Do Prodigals Feel Welcome At Our Churches? I learned as a DK very early how to keep up appearances. I knew the right way to speak around the right people. I learned how to smile and pretend everything was okay. I might have missed my calling as an actress because I kept up quite an act. Things were not okay, and I was not okay. My dad was verbally and emotionally abuse to my mom and I, and it couldn't be shared. So we suffered in silence. I can't speak for her, but I can speak for how it affected me. It nearly destroyed me. I learned not to trust anyone, and not to respect authority, but to go through the motions as if I did. Of course that can't be maintained, and so I would act out. I felt different from everybody like I didn't fit in. Then I got drunk, and that changed everything. It was my 3rd time drinking when I hit that sweet spot of drunk where I felt good. I was confident and relaxed for the first time. I could be myself without analyzing everything that I or anyone else said or did. I enjoyed life, at least until I sobered up. I didn't realize it at the time, but I never did drink like I "normal" person. I drank to get drunk - trying to get back that feeling of that first good drunk. Sometimes I did it, but more often than not I went way beyond that sweet spot. It became a means to escape. It didn't matter how many hangovers where I swore I'd never drink again, I was going to end up doing it again. And when I did, I was going to drink until there was no more alcohol or I passed out or I was throwing up. I would feel guilty the next day, but still kept drinking. I was extremely fortunate that drinking never got me into any trouble with work or the law. I never missed work because of my drinking, didn't go to work drunk, and rarely went in with a hangover. I never got into any trouble with the law. But for the grace of God, it never progressed farther than having Petra tell me I needed to stop for a while. Which, of course, I couldn't. What really stood out to me in the first article I linked above is: "PKs aren’t given a chance to experience God’s grace and mercy; they’re just forced to memorize the concepts." The same was true for this DK. Grace and mercy took a back seat to following rules to maintain your own reputation among other people. Or rather my dad's reputation which he destroyed himself. In the second article, there was this: "And when prodigals bottom out, they often return home and to the church." I returned to the church before I actually bottomed out, but I nearly left again. I did leave the Baptist way behind because I could still see and feel that pressure to maintain an outward appearance of righteousness. I couldn't live up to that standard as a child and I can't live up to it as an adult. What I can do, though, is learn how to rest in the finished work of Jesus. It took over 30 years for it to finally sink in, but I am not accepted and loved by God because of anything I have done, am doing, or will do. It is through Jesus and Jesus alone that I am made righteous. He paid my debt. I have nothing to earn. The best work I can do on my own is like a used tampon before God. Oh yeah, that's the literal translation of "filthy rags" in the Bible. But if Christ's death on the cross is not enough to pay for my sin, it's not enough to cover anyone's and none of us have any hope. The justification of salvation is an instant event, but sanctification is a process rather than an event. That is why I can put my junk out without wallowing in the pit of self-pity from guilt and shame due to not being perfect. That's why I no longer look at trials as punishment but as instruments of growth because they are chipping away at my self-centeredness and my guilt and shame of not being perfect. Only Jesus was perfect. I have 5 1/2 months of sobriety by the grace of God, one day at a time. I am making peace with my past and letting go by the grace of God, one day at a time. I am learning to open up and call people when I am feeling the insanity of the committee in my head and need someone to talk to and to talk me down, by the grace of God, one day at a time. I am learning to live in the present and not reliving the past or trying to control the future, by the grace of God, one day at a time.

Adventures in Arkansas

I really should have sat down and written last night when I had things to say. Or at least made a note of what I wanted to write about like I suggested to Petra. Haha! But in my defense, I was sick as a dog from the flight back from Arkansas. But Enterprise hooked me up with a sweet rental car: I almost didn't make that trip. I really didn't want to. I didn't want to face my mom's health issues because avoidance is my default action (or inaction as it were) when I can't practice full on denial. But I plucked up the courage to do it anyway. Oh my word. Her short term memory is completely gone. She had a stroke while she was in the hospital recovering from pneumonia (and she has COPD), and while the memory issues could be attributed to Alzheimer's, her inability to say the right words is not something she had prior. It was hard. Hard to listen to and watch her struggle to get out what she wanted to say, and hard to figure out what she meant. But she gets around fine, and I wore her out! Because that's how I roll. ;) She's in the nursing home for rehabilitation, and they let me check her out and run her around. I took her to the Veteran's Walk of Flags by the hospital first. We did not walk the whole thing. But my cousin Sharon was interviewed later that day while she was there: Flags Flying for Veterans In Morrilton Today It is such a beautiful and humbling display, and I feel honored that I now have a flag among so many others. I am so very grateful to Sharon for making sure all the Eoff family veterans got flags. Then we went out to the Bishop family reunion and I didn't take a single picture of any of my family. :( I did take one down at the creek: Because the reunion isn't just complete without a walk down to the creek. It was the thing to do when I was a kid, and it still is at 44. Not that I got off the bridge because the possibility of falling and getting wet doesn't appeal to me anymore. Mainly because I didn't want my phone ruined. haha! But I had a great time, and didn't get glutened. Mom seemed to know everybody and that was great! I had a good talk with my sister-in-law even if it was short and kept semi on the down low given what I shared with her. And throughout the weekend I got to have really good visits with family and a couple old friends and my mom's neighbor. And then after I dropped Mom off Saturday night and left the nursing home, I drove around town and bawled. Now, I don't like to fly, and have been terrified of flying since 1999. So as I drove up to RDU to leave, I thought I would try a little something different than I normally do. See, normally the DragonLady doesn't get on a plane sober. Granted, last summer I flew sober, but I was a wreck the whole time. This time, drinking wasn't an option I was willing to entertain so I prayed and asked God to remove my fear of flying. You know, it worked. I was not at all scared coming or going. Even with the turbulence and thunderstorms around Charlotte. And no, I didn't ask God to give me a good rental car. That was pure bonus. hahaha!

Maniacal Monday #29

I bought 2 new pairs of pants over the weekend. This morning I put on one of them thinking they were brown. They are purple. I'm not even the least bit mad. ;) I am sick again. It's the same crap as I had a couple of weeks ago so I guess the hubs and I are just passing it back and forth. Saturday felt like a hangover and it has gone downhill from there. And yes, I am guzzling water. I made a little trip to Cary Friday that I didn't really want to make. But, I got a pickup ordered for my acoustic guitar. Actually, 2 got ordered so I will have to take one back. :sigh: I picked up some stuff from Michaels which wasn't really a bad experience. The line wasn't real crazy. But, I walked into Old Navy, and turned around and walked back out because it WAS crazy. Then I went to JC Penney to get a new purse, which is how I ended up with new pants and bras. Because sales. Anyway, I get back home, and James came out, and then asked "What happened?" while pointing at the front of my car. I broke my car. I looked up underneath the bumper and saw bunch of dead grass stuck, and then remembered a few days ago turning too soon out of the driveway and hitting the ditch a little. Guess it was a little more hit than I thought. :( Despite the sick, I was determined to get my hair cut Saturday. Nothing big, just layered. I was tired, and as the lady was cutting, there were a couple of times I shut my eyes, and was on the verge of napping. I think if it had been a dude, I would have gone to sleep because men play with your hair way more than women. Anyway, got that all done and went on a shopping trip to Walmart because I just couldn't see any way around it without going farther than I wanted to go and spending more than I wanted to spend. The north Chatham Walmart wasn't all crazy, and it really wasn't a bad trip at all. A couple of weeks or so ago, I saw a giveaway on a blog for a necklace that I loved! I'm pretty sure since I have heard nothing, I didn't win. However, I thought, "I can make that." It took a lot of trips for chains and connecting rings, and finally some ingenuity, but I made a similar necklace. Also, I made about 5 other necklaces, and have an idea I'm toying around with in my head with regards to jewelry making. I have no pictures yet. Sunday morning, I had a weird dream. I have lots of weird dreams, but there was a lot of things in this dream that overlapped even though they are not at all related. I had to return a lawn mower to Lowes. But this Lowes in my dream had like a park on the grounds, and the Bridges family were there picnicking. Specifically, Gerald & Bonnie, Joe & Karyn & kids, and Jerry & Deanna & kids. Oh, and I haven't met Jerry & Deanna in real life. I pretty much know what prompted them all being in the dream, but not at a park at Lowes. Anyway, so I decided the lawn mower in question needed to be tested one more time before returning, so I went out to the highway shoulder to mow. There was a woman out there mowing and she stopped to help a passerby whose car was pulled over on the shoulder in front of her. I needed to ask her if it was ok if I mowed a little bit too, and she wouldn't stop and let me ask her that real quick so I yelled at her and made her let me ask. And then I mowed anyway, and the mower worked fine. After waking up, I realized that rude woman was the Commissary manager at Tinker AFB when I was stationed there who ignored me when I tried to stop and ask her about formula. Apparently, I am still angry about that incident. lol I was on the worship team schedule for Sunday, and got there early in the pouring down rain. I was chatting with Pastor Nate a little bit, and he spoke an email into his phone for later, and then said how nice it is that Siri takes those down for him like that. I mentioned that my Siri can't understand me because either I slur my words, or mumble, or talk too hillbilly to it. That prompted him to ask where I am from originally. Told him Arkansas and he said, "Really? Where in Arkansas?" So I gave him the standard where Morrilton is before saying Morrilton. Because even Arkansans don't know where Birdtown is unless they are from Conway County or related. Anyway, he said, "So about an hour away from Stuttgart?" Because Pastor Benji was in Stuttgart duck hunting. Small world. Bradford had to change the key of one of the songs. Was not a big deal since it was just a B to A, and I was able to do the chord changes pretty well since it was just 4 chords. I think I lost my place playing during every single song. Shawn said it all sounded great, so I guess I didn't do too bad. :) There was no afternoon service, and James was at Lee & Rachel's for the afternoon, and I had a nice quiet house to myself for the afternoon. It was fantastic. James cooked beans, but they didn't get done until late, and I kept looking at a steak in the fridge and told him that it needed to be cooked or frozen soon. So he cooked it for me. He then said, that if it was too much that he would finish it off for me. I said, "Oh, I can take in a lot of meat." And giggled. He said, "Yes, I know." hahaha! Last night, I was so worn out that I got in the bed at like 7. I was also cold and couldn't get my feet warm, so that was another reason. Anyway, I was laying there reading, and my phone rang. After saying "What the heck" because no one calls my cell phone that late on a Sunday, I picked it up and it was Chad. So I answered with "Really?" He said something about Tumblr being blocked again, and I said "You could have just texted me." Regardless, he didn't know I was home. lol. And Tumblr was blocked again this morning even though I specifically allowed it multiple times, so I'm switching out AVG's filter for NetNanny tonight.

Funday Friday #28

Another Christmas has come and gone. It started out pretty bad between me and Chad. He had a fit, I got my feelings hurt, I cried and fixed his new computer vowing never to buy him a new computer ever. But, he came and apologized, I hugged him, and all is well again. Well, at least until yesterday when I tried to download Windows 8.1 Pro. ;) But with a new computer now in his room, he only comes out to feed. Just like Jamie. Her new computer. Ugh. I don't understand how they can have the same models, same specs, same filters, and yet hers keeps blocking what I specifically unblocked. First world problems. ;) Speaking of first world problems, I thought that again Christmas night as I attempted to put away the leftovers. I had more food than fridge space. And I ate so much that I thought I would bust, and looked about 7 months pregnant. I made a ham, dressing, gravy (from bacon grease), Granny's fresh apple cake, and Aunt Betty Jewel's easy fruit (blackberry) cobbler. I made James make the mashed potatoes because after peeling and coring apples, I had no desire to peel potatoes. The ham and potatoes turned out perfectly. Actually, so did the cobbler. I wasn't sure about it because the recipe calls specifically for self-rising flour, and my gluten free all purpose flour is definitely not. More on it later. Anyway, I added about a teaspoon of baking powder, and it turned out just right. The dressing, though. I had some leftover cornbread, but needed another small pan. So, I made a pan of cornbread from scratch since I was out of cornbread mix. And this was where I forgot I needed to add baking powder. That pan of cornbread ended up about 5/8 in thick because all purpose flour - baking powder = no rise. :sigh: So parts of the dressing are a little dense. ;) The gravy ended up all lumpy. Pretty sure that was because I had too much flour for the amount of grease. And the cake fell in the middle, and nearly burned around the edges, and while it did get done, it was so moist that it just falls apart. And I forgot the rolls which are STILL in the freezer being eaten right now by me with leftover ham. All that said, everything tasted fantastic! With Chad all the way back in his room, we have embarked upon cleaning up the mess he made all over and around the downstairs PC & desk. I'm pretty sure I swept up and entire bag of goldfish. But I also found almost all of our missing forks. There was so much nasty. Sticky nasty. Soda can tabs all over the floor, and I think there were more of those tabs than there were goldfish. I'm also looking over at the coffee table and thinking that needs another clean off. :sigh: I really need to pick up some things today, but the thought of going anywhere is so unappealing. The fact that we are low on coffee is even more unappealing though. And I have 3 free drinks from Starbucks that I need to redeem. Because free. ;) Found my "missing" arch supports...in my Docs...which I also found. Haven't found my missing boots yet, but I do need to clean the litter off of one pair that's been on the front porch for 2 or 3 weeks. It is also time to break down and buy a new purse. :sigh: My new favorite coffee mugs that benefit The Forsaken Children. I got one for Ethiopia and one for Senegal since I have friends serving in both countries. Last night's sunset. I was playing with the settings on my iPhone, and the one without any filtering turned out best. I waste so much time watching the videos on this YouTube channel.

2013 Goal Wrap up

At the beginning of the year I made a list of goals for 2013. Now that the year is almost up, I thought I would recap. Because I need a topic that can allow me to be a little ADHD. ;) Goal 1: Learn to rest This didn't turn out the way I originally intended. Meaning, I really didn't know what kind of rest I needed, just that I needed rest. It took me nearly the whole year to finally comprehend (actual meaning - surrender) how I needed to rest.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a, ESV)
I was carrying burdens that weren't mine to carry, some of which I have been carrying since I was a kid. Once I figured that out, and went through painful process of understanding what are my responsibilities and what belong to others that I have been taking on, it has been a lot easier to chill out. It took a lot of prayer, psalms, texts, therapy, Al-Anon meetings, and happy pills to get to this point. It is still a work in progress. Goal 2: 13 races in 2013 This was met and exceeded! I did 14 races, and so signed up for 14 next year. I have a plan to do a race recap post sometime before the end of the year. Goal 3: Crochet I need a lot of practice yet with this one. However, I tried my hand at knitting and it is just so much easier for me than crochet. I finished a scarf for Chad, and have (twice) started a scarf for Jamie. Goal 4: Pushups Fail. I know there is still time to at least do one, but whatevs. I did a 30 day plank challenge in July, and barely managed that with all the drama. Goal 5: Make my marriage and family priority This has been both a win and an epic fail. I won't go into great detail (though it's mentioned in Goal 1 and I have blogged about it off and on), but it has absolutely been the biggest area of personal growth for me, and it was/is absolutely painful growth. Goal 6: Journal every day Yeah, no. I did ok, and then slacked of after a couple of months. But then I started blogging more and putting a lot of junk out on the blog that normally would be in a journal, so there's that. ;) Goal 7: Eat healthy I have been on and off this wagon. Eh. Another ongoing work in progress. Will I make another list of goals for 2014? Maybe. If I do they will be more measurable. Like finishing Jamie's scarf. ;)

Funday Friday #27

So there I was, minding my own business (for once - lol) at work, and a spider ran out from under my keyboard at me. I totally lost myself, and no longer have any rep left for being tough. The whole office said that was the fastest they have ever seen me move. At least I didn't scream. ;) I managed to keep my birthday a secret at work until I was walking out the door at the end of the day. I did tell one person that morning, and he kept it himself as he had promised. I have to thank Facebook for living up to Failbook yesterday so that I was just finishing up dinner before my cousin Sharon could wish me happy birthday. I knew she wouldn't forget. The graveyard_dead group on Instagram featured my photo of Uncle Hoover's headstone this week. James and I went to Shucker's for my birthday dinner last night, so here are pics of the sunset and dinner. This is really all I have unless I resort to complaining about my neck/shoulder/back pain. So here's some Christmasy Judy Garland.

Just let it go?

Here's a little something I'm dragging out of the drafts hole. It was written over a span of about 5 months from Sep 2011 - Jan 2012.
I had this little running "joke" with our former pastor on Sunday mornings: Pastor: "How are you?" Me: "Self-righteous and bitter." Pastor: "Alrighty then." (or something to that effect) I always answered it in a joking kind of way, but really, I was/am dead serious. I think he knew it. The result of being self-righteous and bitter is being angry...often. Combine that with out of control (or out of sync) hormones (that's a story in itself, which my doc thinks is more likely linked to my diet and somewhat addressed here), and you have a volatile mix. I'm going off at the least little thing, nit-picking over insignificant things, and emotionally collapsing into tears either from sheer anger or guilt from getting so angry over something stupid. Did I mention I was never much of a cryer? But I digress. The self-righteousness and the bitterness have been there for years, but I never really noticed them for what they were. Generally speaking, I filed them away under a blanket of righteous indignation. After all, I was right to be angry because I was being wronged, or someone I loved was being wronged. The anger wouldn't be such an issue if it was just anger, albeit justified anger and not getting mad over something stupid. But, even if it is "justifiable" anger, it becomes an issue when it is something I'm not letting go of. I keep dwelling on issues when they pop up in my head. The longer I stew on them, the angrier I get, and the angrier I get the more I want to go off on a self-righteous rant letting the "offender" know just how ate up they are. I have finally realized that the things that piss me off the most are things I do myself, and more often than not involve pride. But at the heart of the matter, it boils down to a lack of forgiveness on my part. This lack of forgiveness is most blatantly on display towards my husband. Of all the people/situations I've stewed over and held grudges over, I have mostly held grudges against him, and not well held under control. But it is no more or no less venomous and vile. Sheer poison. It isn't as if he is blameless. Even he will tell people there is only one thing that I have ever adamantly put my foot down about. It's that one hot button trigger that holds the potential to split us up. I've threatened divorce (with every intention of backing it up), and I've wished all kinds of calamity on him from arrest to death. Yes, you read that right. I have wished he would die. That's cold-hearted right there. Completely unloving. I know that my response is every bit as wrong as what he does that prompts it. I can see it coming, and I pray for grace to "shut up and pray", and I quote scripture to myself and swear I will be quiet and let it go. But more often than not, I succumb to the voice that tells me I don't deserve be treated like that, lied to, messed with, etc, and it all goes downhill from there. But then a day or two later, it's over, we pick up and try again or just avoid any mention of what went down...pretending nothing ever happened and all is well. But it's not. The hurt is still there. The broken promises still there. The "I want what I want and I want it on my terms" is still there, even when we confess and apologize to each other afterward. It's a vicious cycle. I'm left with questions. Why can't I let go of the bitterness and resentment, and just forgive? Why do I insist on hanging on to it when I really don't want it and know that it just eats me up?
Just to bring this up to date, my diet wasn't the issue with my out of control emotions. In many ways it was a result, and that still remains an issue. Also divorce has been taken off the table as an option. I will add that once that no longer became an option, things got worse. WAY worse. I also have answered those 2 questions, and well, I pretty much had answered it within the original post. Self-righteousness for one, but victimhood also. The solution is constant prayer. Constant preaching the gospel to myself. Constant reminder that the old me died with Jesus, and I've been set free from the bondage of self-gratification. Constant reminder that I am not God, that He sees what I can't, and that He is in control. Constant reminder that He never promised ease and comfort in this life. Constant reminder of 1 Corinthians love. Constant reminder that I live in a broken and fallen world, and I am still a work in progress. Constant reminder to be thankful always.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9, ESV)

Get a hold of yourself

I heard that a lot growing up. I'm pretty sure my dad was the one who would say it to me, but it could have been my mom or both of them. It was a warning when I would get either too excited and was starting to get too "rambunctious" or was working up to a meltdown over something. It was a long way of saying "calm down" or "chill out." Without that outside discipline, I would have been wide-open, full-throttle all the time. I just never really developed that as a self-discipline whether happy, sad, angry, or whatever so that out on my own, there was little restraint in acting out. Slowly, I have come to understand that acting out rather than taking a moment or so to "get a hold of myself" results in destructive behavior one way or another. No matter the circumstances I tend to speak or act without thinking about the effect on others. Or I sit and stew on it internalizing until I end up metaphorically vomiting on someone who probably didn't have anything to do with what I was stewing on. Or I just act out without knowing all the facts and/or giving the benefit of the doubt and then find out I was completely wrong about the whole situation. The past few weeks, there has been a recurrent theme popping up in sermons I'm listening to (both at my church, and podcasts), some of the blogs I read, and a book I'm currently reading. When the same thing keeps popping up, it's a good indication that I need to be paying close attention. And so I've been mulling all this over. Chewing on it, if you will. It makes perfect sense, but there was just still a little bit gnawing at me with it with regards to application. Sometimes I'm slow. For instance, years ago, I heard a sermon (I think it was more of a series of sermons) about a particular topic. I "got it," but I wholeheartedly disagreed, and therefore didn't believe it applied to me at all. Years later, I heard another sermon, and "got it" to the point of believing it applied to me. I even heard another teacher teach on it, fully agreeing, and later found myself chewing it all over when the light bulb went off. It was the same thing I had heard as a kid and completely rejected, and this time I really "got it." The whole concept. Better late than never right? ;) Anyway, I'm now seeing a twist to this latest thing that I hadn't expected. Since I have already put it out there once, I'll put it out there again. Because that's how I roll. My husband is an alcoholic/drug addict, and it is a sickness that spreads throughout the entire family. I struggle with it probably as much as he does because I think (wrongly) that it should be easier for him to give up the drugs and alcohol than it is. I fall into that thinking because I was relatively easily delivered from my porn addiction (which was just a portion of the problem). When my drinking gets to be "problem drinking," it's relatively easy for me to just not drink. I can carry around percocet with me 24x7 and not take it. But then I "conveniently" forget how hard it was to quit smoking and stay quit. And how many years I would still crave a cigarette. I still got an occasional craving. But since I forget what is difficult for me, I fall into that trap of thinking I know the solution. "Just go to AA! You know it works!" Here's the problem. He said once that at AA all they talk about is drinking, and that just makes him want to drink. That did not make a lick of sense to me despite the fact that I can spot a lit cigarette smouldering in the street as I am driving and crave so bad it takes every bit of willpower I have not to stop and buy a pack. I think it was Pastor Benji who was talking about what we concentrate on saying that for an alcoholic that's trying to quit drinking by saying "Don't drink! Don't drink!" over and over to themselves is always thinking about drinking. And so, eventually, they will drink again. And now I get it. Therefore, all the sermons, blogs, and the book are all saying the same thing. If you are always (or mostly) thinking about not committing a particular sin (or sins), your focus is on the wrong thing. It's not merely a battle of wills. It's like when Jesus was walking on the water toward the boat the disciples were in, and had Peter to walk out to him. Peter was walking on the water just fine as long as he was looking at Jesus. When he looked at the wind and the waves, he began to sink. He lost his focus on who was keeping him on top of the water in the storm. If any of us could overcome our sin by sheer willpower, we wouldn't need Jesus at any point in our lives. Bottom line, we never stop needing Jesus. So instead of looking at our temptations and trying to overcome it by white-knuckling through the weakness, we need to look to Jesus and reach out to him. We will be overcome with exhaustion eventually trying to do it ourselves, but He will never let us go. Rather than "getting a hold of myself," I need to let go of myself. Rather than spending my energy on trying not to do what I don't want to do, focus on doing what I know to be good, looking to Jesus to lead me where He wants me.

Maniacal Monday #22

This looks to be another busy week. 3 counseling appointments today. 2 for the kids, and 1 for me. Fun times. Since I was going to have to miss half a day of work anyway, I decided since my bed felt so good this morning, I would just take the whole day. I may or may not regret that decision. ;) photo (1) I lost a battle with the lawn mower yesterday. There's just too much to describe without pics that I don't feel like taking, so suffice to say that even though I can easily put the blade assembly back into the spindle and tighten it down, I cannot get the belt out from under another pully (that has a stripped bolt). So it's going to probably require a new belt unless the hubs can get it out. But, after that battle was lost, I went in and showered, and by this time Jamie was the only one home besides me. She announced she was leaving shortly, and there I was left at home. Alone. In. The. Quiet. It was fabulous. So much so I had to text Petra and gloat a little about not knowing what to do with myself. She gave me a suggestion which I followed. And then the kids came home, and I went to bed. lol KitKat. That cat is so stupid. This is where she has been perching lately. KitKatLedge She sits there, falls asleep, and then falls off. Then she runs right back up there and does it again. Over and over. And Jamie won't keep her in her room at night to prevent it. Dumb cat. I'm on the schedule for next Sunday. This time there is only 1 song that I don't know at all. lol I'm working on eating clean again. By clean I mean no artificial colors/flavors and minimal artificial preservative. Went grocery shopping Saturday and one of the items we needed was salt. I went after sea salt. James was with me and picked up a container of salt and said "Here." I took it and looked at the ingredients. Then I read them to him. I picked up another container, and handed it to him saying "Read the ingredients." "Natural sea salt." Ok, it probably isn't "natural," but it claims to have been harvested from the Mediterranean. And it is one ingredient. Salt. Now I am back after the meeting with the kids' counselors. James looked at me and said "You look tired." Understatement. Drained. And I still have my appointment to go to. It will be a barrel of laughs now. Not that it ever is. ;) Someone pooped on the floor in front of the litter box instead of IN it. KitKat has a history of that. Stupid cat. And I rode 9.8 miles Saturday. There is a hill I am determined to conquer. I didn't have to push my bike up it this time, but I did stop 3 times on the way up before I made it to the top. If I can ride up St Vincent street, I can ride up that hill. Ok, I probably can't ride up St Vincent right now and since I live 900 miles away, I won't be trying. 25 years ago I could ride up St Vincent. Anyway, I really pushed it because after about 3 miles I saw rain clouds. I then began to race against the rain. I would say that I won, except the rain went around us.