“Mimi, What is Love?”

…asked my three year old grand daughter in her innocent boldness.

Surprised at a question that most adults can’t even ask, I quickly summoned a simple answer…

Well, Anna, love can be many things: sharing, caring, helping, listening. God is love and we show His love by doing these things for others.

Later I thought more about Anna’s question.  

What is love? How do we usually look for that answer in the world?

Growing up I stereotypically looked for love in all the wrong places. But even today, living as a Christ follower, it’s easy to look to my husband, children, friends, even things and activities to fill an empty place in my heart that can only be satisfied by God’s Love.

The world often equals sex to love. God graciously allows us the joy of sex to show love to our spouses, but that isn’t love by definition.

Then there’s love languages. I read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman many years ago. But for the purposes of this blog, I decided to retake The Assessment Test. The scoring system is 0-12 with 12 being most important.

Here are my results

  • Words of Affirmation-9
  • Quality Time-8
  • Acts of Service-8
  • Receiving Gifts-5
  • Physical Touch-0

As a recovering sex addict, I find it very interesting that physical touch didn’t even register! Just goes to show you… sex isn’t always about love; and acting out in my addiction, it never was.

In a previous post titled Reflections, I wrote about the Exodus Freedom Conference where I attended a workshop called A Basic Understanding of Female Homosexuality. Christian Counselor, Melissa Ingraham spoke on the complexity of lesbianism and factors contributing to same sex attraction.

Because of family circumstances, and by no fault of my mother, the primary factor for my same sex attraction  was: I never bonded with my feminine nurturer. Which is why Physical Touch isn’t my love language. Being unmet, that childhood need still hungers; and with my mother deceased now 2 years, I’m left with an emptiness that only God can heal.

So what is this thing deep inside that we need? Is it love? 

Yes, not a human or worldly love…

But THE LoveGod.

And the only way to get it is to press in that much more, to the Heart of God, His Word and His Presence. It is there we will find …True Love.

** Prayer for healing.**

Almighty God, creator of all things, Who in Your infinite mystery, can be both mother and father to those in need; reach down with Your Hand, that overflows with Love and touch the recesses of our souls, our hearts, our minds and our bodies to bring about full and complete healing. Thank You Lord Jesus that we can walk forward, fully confident and whole, with Your Ever Present Love filling us by The Holy Spirit. Amen

This post is dedicated to my incredible husband on our 32nd wedding anniversary. Bill, thank you for never giving up and for believing in me when I couldn’t. I love you more than ever! ~ Tamara

Working the Steps: Step 6

Having been out of town the better part of the month, I’m late posting June’s 12 Step work. Better late than never 😉 Blessings…

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Getting ready for God to remove character defects in itself is a process. Some character defects are like old friends, comfortable and available.

We can’t even get ready with out God’s help!

In Steps One and Two we realized our powerlessness and found God’s Power to be greater than ours. Step Three we turned our life and our will over to God. Steps Four and Five we admitted hard truths to God, to ourselves and to another person.

Now in Step 6 we wait for God to do some internal work on our hearts. It’s not an action step on our part, but rather preparation that will enable us to become ready to release our character faults when the time comes in Step 7.

This is not quick work. Most of our character defects have been deeply ingrained in us since childhood. These patterns of behavior were often used as coping mechanisms in a traumatic environment. It will take time and practice to switch from our comfortable character defect to trusting God and allowing Him to be completely in control.

We must see our faults not as comfortable friends but harmful behaviors that have begun to control our lives. Once we know the truth about our faults and what must be removed; we can overcome our fears and with God’s help, gather our self in readiness to go forward in recovery.

Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.~ James 4:10

Reflections

The Blue Ridge Mountains

Two weeks ago, my husband, Bill and I set off on a road trip from Dallas to North Carolina for the Exodus Freedom Conference. It wasn’t an official vacation, though we stopped for some interesting tours along the way…

Our first stop was Memphis, TN. I’ve never been an Elvis fan, which my husband says I shouldn’t admit in public, but after taking the tour of Graceland, I now see why so many people love him. It was totally a time warp experience, with the home still decorated the way it was when Elvis lived there and the audio guide providing real life sounds from the glory days.  

We left reflecting on a life that once rejoiced in God but sadly got lost in the fame and glamor of celebrity. 

On to Tennessee where we stopped for dinner at Loretta Lynn‘s Kitchen. We were too late for the tour but were able to drive around her sprawling dude ranch and plantation home in Hurricane Mills. Most amazing was the wonderful vacation getaway she and her family have created on their property for her fans; with museums, shopping, camping, horseback riding, rafting and more.
 
We left reflecting on family togetherness and enjoying the simple things in life.

Our trip destination was the Ridgecrest Conference Center nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Established over 100 years ago on 1,300 acres, its rustic charm offers excellent accommodations and activities for all ages. During our stay the camp was bustling with several events: a teen youth camp; marriage and family retreats and our Exodus Freedom Conference.  

We left reflecting on the heritage of an organization providing a spiritual retreat where people can come enjoy the mountains –  and listen to God.

The Exodus Freedom Conference was excellent! The morning and evening general sessions brought amazing worship followed by touching testimonies and incredible main speakers focusing on The Reality of Grace. During the day a variety of workshops were available for those struggling with unwanted same sex attraction and for ministers called to help those who struggle. Mine was the dual purpose. 

I left reflecting on the growth in my own journey, more aware of weaknesses to press through.

Homeward bound after the conference, our first stop was in nearby Asheville, NC at The Biltmore; the home of George and Edith Vanderbilt, built over 6 years by 1000 workers and completed in 1895. It is America’s largest home with over 175,000 sq ft and 250 rooms; an authentic American castle with grand rooms, exquisite tapestries, lush gardens and the first scientifically designed forest. Another fascinating time warp tour with sights and sounds of the Gilded Age long gone by.  

We left reflecting on wealth and affluence with a sense of emptiness that still longs for more.

It was no accident that our last tourist stop was The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. Located a few miles from where Billy Graham grew up, the barn-shaped building displays the life of a humble farm boy who became an ambassador of God’s love to the world. As we entered the doorway, beautifully designed as a glass cross; we immediately felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit. With the help of multimedia presentations and memorabilia, we walked through 60 years of ministry that touched the lives of presidents, queens, celebrities and everyday people; through wars, the civil rights movement and the fall of communism. True to its purpose, The Billy Graham Library isn’t a memorial or a museum, but an ongoing crusade communicating the unchanging, life-giving message of Jesus Christ.  

We left reflecting on our own spiritual walk; where we have come from and where we are going; feeling some what clumsy but inspired to do better and be better. 

Q4U: What are your summer reflections?

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

Confession – The Road to Freedom

Not long ago I heard a song called Between You and Me by DC Talk. The song sparked a blog in me and goes beautifully with my Twitter devotions for May focusing on Step 5…

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

All 12 Steps are important, but I believe this one to be critical. Those of us who’ve had obsessions, compulsions and addictions, understand the power held over us by our secrets; a power that can only be broken with confession.

Because the nature of our addictions can be very personal and sensitive, it’s essential to exercise care in choosing the person with whom we share. This person should be detached from our situation (not a family member) but a trustworthy, compassionate female friend, pastor or therapist.

In confession we’re able to be honest about our past and express deep seeded grief; our long carried shame is finally relieved and the barriers of isolation that we’ve had between God and others begins to break down. With the courage to acknowledge our wrongs comes a new energy that will motivate us to change our lives. 

Do you have a secret that’s holding power over you?

Don’t wait! Contact a trusted woman to share your burden and find freedom today!  

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. ~ James 5:16 MSG

Sometimes Ya Gotta Fake It Til Ya Make It!

 Are you struggling to make needed changes in your life?

Whether you’re an addict trying to stay sober, wanting to lose weight, repairing an unhealthy relationship, trying to get on a better schedule, or just making it through life difficulties; we all struggle with changes. 

Maybe…

You don’t feel like finding a 12 Step accountability partner. 

You don’t feel like starting the exercise program at the gym. 

You don’t feel like going through relationship counseling.

You don’t feel like turning off the TV so you’ll be rested tomorrow.

You don’t feel like reading the Bible for guidance today.

Usually we can’t trust our feelings. It’s certainly dangerous to allow ourselves to be led by them. Instead, we should discern what the next right thing is and do it.   
 
“Do the right thing even when it feels wrong!” ~ Joyce Meyer

It’s easy to sit back and say, “I’m gonna do this or that.” But unless we actually do something, it will just be a bunch of words that mean nothing. We can’t forget people are watching us; friends and family members, most especially our children. Our credibility may be on the line and we don’t even know it.

 “If we want what other people have, we must be willing to do what they did to get it.” ~Joyce Meyer

Sometimes we may need to go through the motions until our heart gets in sync with our actions…  

Act as if or Fake it til you make it. (Wikipedia’s definition) 
~ to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence. 

Whatever it takes!!

We long for things to be different, healthier, to live a transformed life.

But we are afraid to change.

When we realize we don’t have to walk the path of change alone, that fear is removed.

God can give us the needed courage, determination and peace to take the necessary steps that will bring the desired changes. But it’s up to us. We have to reach out for His hand before He will help us.

Let’s pull ourselves together with a good attitude; pick up our Bible and walk with the Lord.
In the strength of His promises, we can do the work to change for the better!

God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that He won’t stop before it is complete…~ Philippians 1:6 (Contemporary English Version)

Embrace Yourself

As women, we often compare ourselves to other women; either to those we know or women in the media. For me this resulted in a love – hate relationship with the mirror that began at a very early age.

Growing up I was very much a tom-boy. When I was 8, my brother, Wayne, who had cerebral palsy, died of pneumonia at age 12. I thought if I was more like a boy, I could soothe my father’s heartache by taking Wayne’s place. Maybe then Daddy wouldn’t drink so much and be mad all the time.

To further complicate things, a Playboy calendar hung in our family bathroom. So for 18 years I stood on the bathroom scales comparing myself to the ‘Bunny of the Month.”  I was trying to be my daddy’s boy, but because I was a girl, I felt expected to grow up and become a magazine centerfold. That’s what daddy likes, isn’t it?

To get the love I so desperately needed and wasn’t getting from my father, I began acting out sexually with boys on the playground early in elementary. At the same time, I was sexually aroused by the calendar photos and began masturbating regularly. I was deeply conflicted and unknowingly stayed that way until I was almost 50 years old.

Don’t discount the power of pornography. The Playboy images forever changed me. In fact, I still remember many of the women, even details about the pictures. Because of this, unwanted same sex attraction has been an on going struggle for me in my 6 years of sexual sobriety. 

It sounds silly, but I’m writing this blog after deciding to grow my hair out.

Those who know me, know my hair has been extremely short most of my life. In recent days, I’ve realized that as long as my hair remains ultra short, I continue to have butch tendencies that lead to wrong thoughts, which if continue unchecked, could develop into unhealthy and unwanted behavior.

Perhaps if I grow my hair out it will help me truly embrace my femininity… then the mirror can finally become my friend.

Who Do You Think You Are?


As recovering addicts we sometimes experience slips, maybe even a full relapse, falling back into our addiction. When we do, it’s easy to justify our behavior by thinking or saying, “That’s just who I am.”  
If that’s who we think we are – that’s who we will continue to be. 
We must take a hard stand, placing strong boundaries on our thoughts and the words that come out of our own mouth.
By taking a proactive approach we not only protect ourselves, but we take charge of our potential destiny.
Our thoughts and words can curse us.

Take a moment today… examine your thoughts.  
Are they thoughts that will eventually lead to your destruction?
Delete the old words from your memory by speaking new words over yourself.


Write down the negative thought. Then turn it into a positive thought and write it down.
Post it where you can see it on a regular basis and speak this over your life. 

 

It’s critical that we know who we are in God’s eyes. 
Dig into God’s Word and see who He says you are!

 

Then use the words of your mouth, with God’s help, to create a healthy life today and for the future!  
I will think only on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy! (Philippians 4:8-9)

Walking Crutch Free

As humans, most of us depend on different things to make it through the day…

We depend on caffeine to give us energy because we stayed up watching TV and eating late night snacks instead of getting our required sleep. We find ourselves stressed out because we’re not eating right, not getting enough sleep and drinking too much caffeine.

We may be going through family circumstances that are less than pleasant. To help us cope, we numb our feelings to slide through it easily. Television, itself, numbs us so we don’t have to deal with our real world. But many depend on other substances to make it through tough life situations… smoking, drinking or drugging to calm nerves in times of stress.

Even if we can recognize them, we’re unable to stand in our own feelings without crumbling. Our emotions are crippled, usually due to some kind of trauma. 
Like someone with a broken leg, we depend on ‘crutches’ to walk through life when we should be trusting God to carry us.

As a recovering addict, I understand this all too well. Honestly, I still struggle. There are days I find myself picking up an old crutch. When I do, I have to stop and recognize it for what it is, immediately repent and ask for God’s forgiveness. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with watching television or even having a glass of wine for that matter. But when we are using these things instead of allowing God to help us, it becomes a problem that will stunt our spiritual growth and maybe even our physical health. 

Are you walking with crutches today? 

Ask God to reveal things that are out of balance. He will honor your request and give you the needed strength to change. 

Let God Carry You…

God is my strength and power, He makes my way perfect. ~ 2 Samuel 22:33

Book Review: Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller

Searching For God Knows What
by Donald Miller
Thomas Nelson Publishers 2004/2010
$14.99
249pp

True to form, Donald Miller, in his unmistakable story-telling style, tackles important subjects like faith and theology. Seriously, yet humorously, shedding light on them so that you will never read the Bible the same way again.

As the title suggests, this is a personal journey of faith. Faith renounced then found; but not just found, rediscovered with a clearer understanding of God’s Word and what it means for mankind.

Having read only two of his books, I am a huge fan of Donald Miller’s writing. I especially like the way he includes the reader in his personal struggles with life, God and faith.

I highly recommend this book. It’s an easy, entertaining read, but at the same time will make you think long and hard about what you really believe about God and Scripture.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their www.BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Where Have You Come From?

While reading a devotional recently God reminded me not to forget where I’ve come from; to remember all He has graciously brought me through.
I’m not talking about the horrible life of sin and self-destruction from years past, although that’s definitely something I never want to forget. I’m talking about the fresh, even seemingly small victories.   
I believe it’s critical not only to our future successes, but the successes we are currently walking in, that we remember what God brought us out of and remain grateful at all times.
Today I’m struggling with, what may seem like a silly problem, but I’m grateful even for the struggle because it is visible evidence of God’s blessing on our lives…
After living in a hotel room for the last year and a half with basically nothing to maintain, I’m having trouble transitioning back to the real world and the daily routines of running a home. Our new house is easily 10 times bigger than our little hotel room, and honestly a bit overwhelming.
I pushed through October’s move in, buried with boxes to unpack. Then came the holiday hustle… shopping, decorating, entertaining and house guests. I was running a marathon and literally lost 15 lbs!
Now that all the celebrating is over and the new year brings normality of life, I find myself hibernating in my bedroom, not living in this beautiful house God has given us.
In fact, when my best girlfriend from New Orleans was visiting in December, I told her I wanted to decorate our master bedroom like a hotel suite; with a beautiful TV console/dresser, a love seat sofa and a small table with chairs next to the fireplace. Laughingly, Whitney said, You can take the girl out of the hotel but you can’t take the hotel out of the girl. So true.
Some friends in one of my small groups prayed for me last week, so today I am doing better. 
I’m determined:
When I start to feel like everything is too much to handle…
I will stop and praise God for all He has done for me and my family.
When I beat myself up for not having the projects planned 2 years ago completed right away…
I will thank God for the resources to do them and trust His perfect timing for each project.
When overwhelmed with organizing drawers and cabinets…
I will thank God for the opportunity to give items away that can be a blessing to others.
I will take everything one day at a time.
He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for all his wonderful deeds to them. -Psalm 107:7-8