I’m not sure exactly where to start after my long silence. Since I last wrote, circumstances around our house have changed and we find ourselves in yet another transition. I know life is a series of transitions, but it would be nice if we had a longer stretch of stability in between. Well, Praise God, here we are in California! I don’t know exactly why… but we’re here.

It seems we are drawn to businesses that call themselves Christians but underneath are cheaters and liars. What’s with that?? I know we’re not alone in the unemployed boat, and we are certainly grateful to not be living on the street. Opportunities are presenting themselves everyday and soon things will be on the upswing again.

I’ve been in a little slump, doubting my call to women’s ministry these last few weeks. (Hence the silence) But after attending a Women’s Retreat this last weekend at Lake Tahoe, I have a renewed vision for what God wants me to do. I hope to start writing regularly again each week and return to my reading and studies. I continue to be encouraged by the Lord in His Word daily, that He will never leave us.

The Lord says, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” – Isaiah 42:16

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. – Hebrews 10:35-36

Finding Balance Yet Again

As with most addicts, I’ve always lived my life from one extreme to another. Changing from a liberal lifestyle to ultra conservative and to anything goes and now finally back to a healthy life walking with Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My challenge now is not so much about balance in lifestyle as it is in managing my time and energy.

Since my 2 sons, daughter-in-law and precious grand baby arrived three weeks ago to live with us, my energy level has dropped day by day. I was getting grouchy and almost unable to function at all. I finally realized I wasn’t taking care of myself by putting boundaries on my own time and space. If I kept it up I would be no good for myself of anyone else.

I’ve always been a people pleaser, doing and doing for others to make them like me or appreciate me. It’s an old habit that’s easy to fall back into and I’ve been guilty of doing it again. Maybe not so much for the same reasons, but still doing and doing for everybody around the house until I’m exhausted. I’ve been too tired to do my studies, too tired to read and too tired to write. Not good.

I’ve taken these few days to regroup in solitude and I’m starting to find peace and feel rested again. With the changes in our family and house schedule, it may take me a while to get in the new groove, but I’m confident God will help me as I press on to the things He has called me to do.

Moldable Clay

I was raised in a dysfunctional home, with an alcoholic, womanizing father and a mother who seemingly stood by and let it all happen. I grew into a rebellious, promiscuous teenager moving from one sexual relationship to another searching for something, I didn’t know what. Having not dealt with the issues of my childhood, I unknowingly brought to adulthood a lot of anger and resentment. I was always a chameleon of sorts, trying to be all things to all people, to make everyone like me, to be the person I thought they wanted me to be. On the outside I appeared to have it together; I was pretty, successful and independent. Inside I had a determination that I was never going to let people take advantage of me like my mother had let others run over her. I had an I’ll get them before they get me mentality. Over the years my heart became so hardened, it’s a wonder I didn’t fall over from a heart attack. Through a series of events a few years ago, God allowed circumstances to take place that literally brought me to my knees; broke me and my hard heart into pieces. Shortly after, in December 2004, I turned my life and my crumbled heart over to Jesus Christ.

In recent years I’ve taken up Yoga. I’ve found it to be an excellent time of meditation with the Lord early in the morning before I start my day. Not long ago, during my yoga/meditation time, I was reflecting on my hard hearted days. I cried out to the Lord, to please not let my heart become hardened again; to keep me moldable in His hands. Later, I was thinking…

How do we keep our selves from becoming hardened? Can we prevent it in anyway? Once our hearts are softened, how do we stay moldable in our Father’s Hands? Can we keep ourselves from being tossed to the ground, broken, possibly reusable?

I don’t know that I have the answers to all these questions. Certainly, I welcome any comments from my readers. I can only speak from my own life experience, where I look back and find I became a dry, brittle piece of nothing the further I walked away from God. Sure that way of life may seem comfortable for a time, but eventually reality will set in and with it unexpected consequences. The Source of true love is a warm, welcoming place, but if we continue in our own way we can expect nothing but a cold, darkness that will only lead to death and destruction.

The way a piece of clay stays moldable is to be in the potter’s hands constantly being moistened, stretched and shaped. As human vessels of clay we must stay close to our Heavenly Father’s hands; regularly submersed in The Bible and in prayer. As we look into the mirror of God’s Word it reflects back to us the areas where we need change. Not that we can change ourselves, mind you, but once we are aware of the need for change, it becomes much easier and a little less painful as The Holy Spirit does the work in our hearts. Like a baby in the arms of her father, we will find unconditional love and acceptance, warmth and protection, guidance and security. When we step away from that security, we set ourselves up for the bitter winds of the world to dry our spirit into a hard, unchangeable rock.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve lived far too many years like that to take any chances again. Today, as most days, in my yoga/meditation time, I asked the Lord yet again…”Please keep me soft, pliable and moldable in your hands.” Whatever it takes, I don’t ever want to get far enough away that I even have a hint of dryness coming over me. It so much easier to make a correction during the molding process than it is after the clay has hardened. With our heart it’s the same way. I encourage you, if you don’t already, get into God’s Word. He has so many wonderful things to tell you and show you. You will be amazed. You will find Life!

I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). — John 10:10

Whose face is that on my Facebook?

A few months ago, a long time girlfriend from high school invited me to join her on Facebook. Since then, I’ve had the incredible experience of catching up with friends I haven’t seen or talked to in 20+ years! The interesting thing I’ve noticed while looking at everyone’s photos… we’re all old now! If I look closely I can see the old, I should say young, friend in the photo, but not really. Like in Hook with Robin Williams, when one of the Lost Boys touches Jack’s face, stretching the skin to make it look tight and young…”Are you in there Jack?” What happened???! Sure, in my mind I know lots of time has passed, but for some reason on the inside, I think I should look the same as I did back then. You know? It’s strange — this aging process. Yet another thing in life no one can prepare you for.

I remember in 1980, when I announced to my girlfriend that I was pregnant with my first child, she said something that has stuck with me all these years… “Get ready to watch yourself grow old before your eyes.” Few words have been spoken that were so profoundly true. We get so busy with life, raising our children like they were our little vegetable garden or something, when all of a sudden—TIME passes by. We can’t see it, we can’t feel it, we don’t even really notice it happening, but somehow it touches us. This strange invisible force that changes us, others and our world, moment by moment.

Today I look in the mirror and see I’ve turned into my mother! Some mornings when I’m on the floor doing yoga, I look like my grandmother doing her exercises with Jack Lalanne. But yet, other days, inside, I’m still that hurting little 6 year old girl who just wants to be loved and accepted. Who am I? Really?

Growing up in the 60’s & 70’s there was this thing said that people over the age of 30 couldn’t be trusted. But what about people over the age of 50; they were just ancient; antiquities, many born in another millennium! Sound familiar! Golly, not only am I now my grandmother, I’m my great-grandmother! I’m from the past century?????? Whoa! Now that’s heavy.

What can we make of this? What can we learn about ourselves and others?

Really no matter how old we are, all of us are just little children inside, still hurting from old wounds yet to heal fully. I look back at my parents and grandparents, they too were just children in an older body, walking through life trying to live with their own childhood wounds. They may not have done the best job, but that’s who they were.

A few years ago I used to watch a TV show called Cold Case. I liked how they would morph the people, victims and perpetrators alike, between their past and present person. We would be able to imagine they are still that hurting person from the past, the abused child, the rebellious teenager or strung out adult.

Sometimes we who come from an abused past seem to stop maturing at the age of our abuse. We get stuck in that place of trauma, in an invisible cage of hurt and confusion. We continue to grow and age physically, but mentally and emotionally we are stuck in a time warp from the past, relating to the world through the eyes and mind of our hurting inner child.

I’ve lived most of my 51 years just that way… stuck… searching for love in all the wrong places, trying to find real, true, unconditional love that would take away that awful pain inside. It was not until after abusing and destroying my own family, when I saw no place else to turn, that I was able to reach out and receive God’s saving grace that only comes in the form of Jesus Christ.

Today, I can honestly say, I may not always recognize the face on my Facebook page or the body in my mirror; but I know she is loved and accepted by the One that matters most. Praise God, He makes all things new!

Pressing Through Transition

Transition… for me is a dreaded thing. Which according to some is then sinful because you’re in a state of worry vs. trust and contentment. I’ve been through so many transitions in my 51 years, but especially the last 4 years, that one would think I would have gotten used to it. Granted some transitions have come easier than others, but I must say, this one has and continues to be the hardest in recent memory.

In the early days of our marriage, Bill was busy climbing the corporate ladder, which has it’s own transition challenges — changing jobs within the same company, changing companies or moving from one city to another, each taking their toll on the family in various ways. In those days, I was busy homeschooling young children so I had a lot to distract me, but it was still always stressful adjusting to the new schedule, the rhythm of the new home, making new friends and finding a church home.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why this one has been more difficult. I don’t think it’s just leaving Texas, because we lived in Louisiana from July 2006 to August 2007. I don’t recall being homesick for The Lone Star state then like I am now. Maybe deep down, I knew it wasn’t permanent. And besides, Texas was right next door. We could visit easily if we had a mind to.
We were watching the TV Mini-series Lonesome Dove a couple of weeks ago, and all of a sudden it struck me, I’m not a Texan anymore! A sadness came over me like I’ve never felt before. I never realized how much, Texas was a part of me personally. Strange. Now I’m a California Girl?? Doesn’t even look right.

Then there’s the new home adjustment. What is it that causes a particular dwelling to have specific rhythms about it? Other houses and apartments, we would get moved in, and it’s like I belonged there all along. I’d roll into the rhythm with barely a hic-cup. But this house, is different. I just can’t seem to feel at home. I can’t get warm, or feel cozy.

The biggest struggle no doubt, has been missing my friends and family who are spread across the country. I have some wonderful friends but for some reason I hate making new friends. What is it? The starting over process… the possibility of rejection-that maybe no one will want to be my friend? I don’t know. At one time, I had to start the process with the people who are currently my friends, what’s different now? Is it part of this season of life? 50’s? Wouldn’t it be nice, if with the new job and new home you had a package deal — a new church with new friends already picked out for you… seems like a good idea. Well, anyway, enough conjecture… This week I finally found a women’s bible study that starts Feb. 3rd. When the leader called me back in response to my email, she told me about he own difficulties of getting adjusted when she moved here. So maybe, God has already found my new friend for me. What to do until then??

Well… thankfully, today, I found the box with my Joyce Meyer collection of videos and cd’s! Praise God! Joyce to the rescue once again! I know what I will be doing for the next few days, soaking up a good dose of “Grow up!” from Joyce. I’ll feel much better in no time.

Feeling a little disconnected…

Friends, I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written. With our move from Texas to California on December 1, and working so hard to get most of the boxes unpacked before Christmas, I’ve been a little exhausted… My brain from the decisions as to where to put everything – my body from all the unpacking – my spirit from missing friends, and familiar churches. As you can imagine, writing was not top of mind.

Today is another rough day, but since I haven’t written in a while, I thought I would use my blog to get it out of my system. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly blessed and grateful for where we are now. God has provided a beautiful home for us to live in and a great job for my husband. Our oldest son and his family will be living here with us, all to arrive in Feb. Then shortly after our youngest son will be moving from Denver. It will be wonderful to have our family with us.

My biggest challenges these days are of relational nature. It’s always this way when we move; the dreaded transition of getting settled in a new church, bible study and making new friends. It seems these last couple of years, every time I made a good friend we had to move again. I’m feeling a little sad, missing those friends and anxious about making new ones.

Words aren’t coming easy for me today, so my post will be unusually short. I would only ask for your prayers as I press through this transition time. That God will help me find my routine, return to my studies and writing. Blessings… Tamara

Feeling Good!

As with most addicts I’ve struggled with a true sense of feeling most of my life. Growing up in a dysfunctional home environment where feelings are rarely if ever discussed, can cause great problems and confusion. You have feelings, but because your feelings are seemingly unimportant to anyone else, to have feelings must be bad, so you learn to stuff the feelings down until eventually you’re numb. For the feelings you can’t numb by stuffing there’s self medication, for me it was with drugs of all sorts, alcohol, and any sexual relationship I could find.

I lived the better part of 50 years unable to decipher within myself certain feelings. Until, October 2004 when Bill and I went to a couples seminar led by Dr. Doug Weiss, who was speaking on intimacy in marriage. During the seminar, the couples had to do a “Feelings” exercise, where we would look over a list of words that describe different feelings: sad, angry, disappointed, joyful, excited, etc… In the exercise we were to choose a feeling word, describe a time before the age of 18 when we felt that feeling, then describe a time after the age of 18 when we felt that same feeling. I can’t recall what feeling word I chose, all I remember was my mind freezing, my throat choking up and a panic coming over me as I was thinking how to describe this feeling. I couldn’t get words out of my mouth. What was this? It was such a simple exercise, but it had shut me down. Gradually, after a few minutes I was able to come up with an answer, but I was sweating when I was done. I was in pain, I wanted to run but I couldn’t.

Over the last 4 years, Bill and I continued to do this exercise; not on a regular basis anymore, but in the early months of my recovery it was very important. God has done a remarkable thing in healing my ability to feel. So much so, that now, my feelings are out in the other direction. I can be walking through a super market and be overcome with such a sense of God’s love for people that I want to cry. Other days, I will be overcome with a deep sadness for the darkness people are lost in that I don’t know what to do to help them . It appears to be a double edged sword this thing called feeling. We either try to run from them because they are too much for us to handle or they become overwhelming because we can now feel them so strongly.

There are days that I can be walking my dogs and I look around at God’s creation with such a sense of love and appreciation for His goodness to us. This beautiful world — the sun, the sky, the trees, the birds, the fish, rivers… How can we ever doubt His presence and His great love for us?

I praise God, for the gift to feel deeply now. It has made me a better person and certainly a stronger Christian. I believe when we accept Christ as our Savior and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are given the ability to see the world and feel in some ways what God feels for us. I am so thankful for the Truth of His grace and mercy. I don’t ever want to be numb to that again. It’s truly a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good!

Counting the Cost of Discipleship

While in the midst of transition into our new home, for this week’s column I’ve decided to post a quote from a recent sermon I heard. On Sunday the pastor at a church we attended here in California, spoke about the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. In his message he used a quote from an anonymous Christian that I thought was so excellent, it needed to be repeated and passed on to others.

Jesus gave His all to save us from the pit of Hell we should spend eternity in. With His very life Christ paved a clear path that leads us into the presence of the Holy Father. Is it too much to ask that we live our lives in a sacrificial way for Him? What price are we willing to pay? What price are we paying?

I hope this speaks to your heart as it did mine. May this challenge us to count our cost of being a disciple of Christ…

“I’m a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made, I am a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, cheap living and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotion or popularity. I don’t have to be right, top, first, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, live by prayer and labor by power. My face is set, my gate is fast, my goal is heaven my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide reliable and my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, let up or slow up until I’ve stayed up, prayed up, paid up and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop and preach till all know. And when He comes for His own He will have no problem recognizing me — my colors will be clear. “ — Author Unknown

…anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. — Luke 14:27

Exciting Changes Ahead!

Just a quick up date…

As I wrote in my last column, Bill and I are moving to California this week. The movers are here packing the house even as I write and will load us up tomorrow for the trek across America. As God usually does with us, this change has happened very quickly in a way that we know it was only God who brought it about!

In my past life, change was for me a fearful thing that caused much anxiety and worry. Today, as I stand firmly in sobriety with the solid Rock of Christ as my foundation, I am extremely excited to see what God has in store for us, our family and our ministries. On more than one occasion these last few weeks, friends have spoken prophetically over me, that this move was a jumping off point in the development of my ministry to reach hurting women struggling with addiction.

I don’t know how it’s all going to come about; all I know is I want to stay close enough to the Lord that I will be able to hear his voice when he says turn here. I want more than anything, to be an available, teach-able, mold-able child in the Father’s loving hands.

Well, friends…we’re off for our faith adventure! Ready for the promotion and new assignment God has for us in California! I will write again soon from the mountains of northern California!

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! — Isaiah 52:7