To Our Dear Friends from Celebrate Recovery

 

3:13-21 "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is  ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.  And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  Only let us live up to what we have already attained.  Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.  For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

I had heard the other day that many from CR that we had ministered to, loved on, cared for deeply, were hurt and felt like we had abandoned you when we stopped doing CR and left TRC.  Please know our hearts were never to hurt anyone at all.  We love you all deeply, and still to this day love all of you and pray for you still. 

While at this point we do not believe that we are to come back to TRC for a visit just yet, we want you all to know we love you, and never meant to hurt anyone at all.  The cancellation of CR was not due to us — this was the Lord.  He was the One who cancelled it.  Why?  Only He knows.  Could it have been handled differently?  Possibly.   But what we want everyone to know is that we love you and miss you from CR terribly.  It grieved my heart especially when the Lord told us He was moving us.  I remember coming to a CR night and looking at all the beautiful faces the Lord brought to us, and couldn't hardly make it through the meeting.  I left several times sobbing at the thought of not seeing you and loving on you in person. 

For many months I have struggled with anger and hurts towards people in how it was handled, but here's the thing, this was how the Lord had it come down.  The details at this point are unimportant.  I have forgiven others, and forgiven myself and now I am looking forward to what He has in store for us next.  I think that it had to happen the way it did so that it would move us into what His will is for our lives at this point — we probably wouldn't have left otherwise.  It had to happen the way it did.

My mom gave me a great analogy that when its time for baby eagles to leave the nest she removes many of the fluffy feathers from the nest making it less comfortable and pokey.  Its not harmful to the eaglets, just pokey enough that it causes them to fly out of the nest.  The things that happened that hurt us weren't things that were harmful, just uncomfortable enough for us to start seeking God and finding out what He had for us next.

The thing is no matter what church you attend there are going to be problems with people — because that's just the way it is.  How we handle it and respond to it is what causes us to grow and mature further in the Lord.  Our hope and faith should be in the Lord, not people.  If we seek the Lord with everything we have and do as He commands, which is to love Him with all our hearts, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourself, then we are able to forgive those things and continue to love our neighbors. 

I know people don't understand fully, and sometimes when you have to step out in faith and do something the Lord wants you to do — you may not understand it fully either.  That's all apart of growing in our faith and trusting what His will is for our lives.  Remember this — we don't tell Him what His will for our lives should be, we ask Him what His will is for our lives.  We submit our lives to Him — His will.  Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16:24 "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."  Basically in terms we can understand today — it would be an electric chair for us today.  Pick up your electric chair and follow Him.  The cross was a means of punishment.  So what does picking up our cross and following Him mean?

It means we do what He asks, go where He wants us to go, go through the some of the things that He went through — we will have trials and tribulations, suffering but we are not to lose heart because Jesus Christ has overcome the world for us.  John 16:33 Jesus said "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world." 

I have so many scriptures running through my mind to post here, but the final one I will leave you with is this Hebrews 5:7-8 "While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the One who could deliver Him out of death.  And God heard His prayers because of His reverence for God.  So even though Jesus was God's Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered."  God didn't deliver Him from going to the cross, because going to the cross was God's will for Jesus, and Jesus knew it. 

Psalms 105:19; James 5:10-11; 1 Peter 4:19; 1 Peter 3:4; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Deut. 31:6

I will never forget the time we spent leading Celebrate Recovery, nor the people the Lord brought to us.  I will love you all forever — that will never change.  I wouldn't ever change a thing that happened during that time — many people came to know Christ, came back to the Lord, got much needed healings, and worked through many hurts, habits and hangups, began going to church, began serving in the church, and so that they could move forward into what God had for them next.  Our time there was for a season, but now we ALL must look to the Lord (always) and seek what His will is next for ALL of our lives.  I love you all — and pray that the Lord blesses you in all your new endeavors and what His will is for your lives next.  We love you all, Michele

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5 Year Anniversary

May 23, 2004 I quit drinking alcohol for good. On May 23, 2009, I will celebrate 5 years of sobriety. For me, this is huge. I began drinking at a young age. Too young. The longest time I ever made it without drinking was about 9 months, and this was because I was pregnant. I was never a typical, what you might call, alcoholic. I'd never had anyone tell me I had a problem, never had any problems with the law, none of the usual problems associated with alcoholics, but I definitely had a problem. I had considered myself a "social drinker" until I went to some AA meetings with a friend, and heard my story there. To be honest, I was ticked off. I was mad at my friend for dragging me there. I was mad that I might be an alcoholic. I went to the meetings, but I refused to talk for almost an entire year.

Honestly, I am so thankful that they allowed me to continue to come, love me where I was at, and let me sit in and listen. I learned so much during that time, and didn't even realize it. When I finally decided to make the decision to admit I had a problem, and that I was going to quit I had only drank two times in the last year. The weird thing was that when I made the decision I was done I literally shook inside for about two weeks straight. That was the hardest time to not take a drink ever. I wanted to calm that feeling down. Every time I wanted a drink though I would go to a meeting. I did a lot of meetings in the months that followed.

I wanted to quit drinking before something really bad did happen to me – like getting in an accident and getting a DUI, which entails pretty much a huge pain in the butt (fines, jail time, treatment, forced meetings), which in turn would lead to probably me not seeing my daughter, or what if I killed someone while I was drinking and driving (because I did do this). I mean, the list is endless of bad things that could have happened that were entirely preventable if I just didn't drink.

So, me quitting drinking led me back to the Lord. I no longer had my crutch to numb my feelings, or make me feel like I was worth something, or make me feel like I was so confident and talented and smart and funny and beautiful. I began to see the bars and alcohol in a whole new light — death, loneliness, destruction, death. I didn't want that anymore. I wanted joy, I wanted life, but also knew that my life the way it was wasn't working, even with the alcohol out of it.

Then in August 2004 I had a "God moment." I'd always heard about people having those, and would make fun of them, but here I was having one of my own. I'd grown up in church, knew what I was supposed to do, but chose to walk the other way. Well, I walked the other way, that is, until something bad happened. I was what I refer to as a "crisis Christian." "God, if you get me out of this, save me, heal me, whatever, then I'll serve you." It was on a Sunday morning in late August 2004 that I got on my knees in my house, and said whatever you want me to do, I'll do it." The next post I'll tell you what finally drove me to my knees — and man, I was a stubborn fool to wait that long.

PS that is a picture of my cat stretching, but it looked like he was raising his hands in praise, so I thought I'd post it!  heehee

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Life Changes

Well, I believe that the Lord is mixing things up a bit in my world yet again.  For the last five or more years I have dealt with an illness that I don't know what it is.  It will go away for a while, and then come back with a vengence.  I continue to pray for healing because I know that the Lord still heals today — I am an example of that due to the fact that He has healed so many areas of my life since coming back to Christ in September 2004.

So the new change is He has prompted me to quit my job, stay home, and get well.  The doctors continue to test me for various things, and I see yet another specialist in June.  They continue to talk along the lines of an auto immune disease.  Interestingly enough, the Lord brought into my life a wonderful woman about a year ago who is a Christian, used to be a pastor (now does worship at her church), and has lived with Lupus for 12 years.  Our symptoms mirror each other.  When Joe and I realized that maybe I needed to quit we began to seek the Lord in that direction one weekend, and I had lunch with her on a Monday and she began saying all of the same things that we had just gotten done praying — quitting my job, staying home, and getting well.  Interesting how the Lord brings along a confirmation when we are not quite sure.

One of the things that the Lord has done in my heart through this is brought me JOY.  I have a JOY during the midst of trials and pain that I've never had before.  I have a love like I'd never had before.  It is amazing.  One night I had a particularly hard night, and got up early before anyone else and was in tremendous pain.  I got up and spend the morning with the Lord, in the Word, and realized that I had this tremendous joy.  I thought at that time that if I have this JOY and this love, then I can deal with this junk going on in my body.  Really truly.  If this is the fruit of suffering, then I will eat it!  I'm serious. 

Now, some people may think I'm crazy and not understand, but hey when has anything that the Lord has asked me to do made sense or when have most people understood.  That has never stopped me before. 

So here's the thing, I know that the Lord has something up His sleeve next for me, and He's not going to leave me in this condition forever — and if He chose to, you know what?  I'll praise Him even then.  You know, some people would say that that is a statement of lack of faith — not it's not.  It is a statement as to a great deal of trust for the One Who created me.  He has my life in His hands, and I trust Him with everything that is in me. 

God has called us to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbor as ourself.  So I am doing my best to listen to His instruction, and pray for His will to be done in my life.

You know, when the disciples were with Jesus, they asked Him to teach them how to pray.  It's very simple. "Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever, Amen."

It's quite simple.  It's not a magic formula.  It's that simple.  Start there.

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