Life After Rehab: Step 6…

This weekend we were visited by some dear friends from the Austin-area.  We had a great time catching up and spending time with each other.  It reminded me just how much I love them and all the other friends and family from whom we just moved away.  I’m probably going to go through friend withdrawal this week at some point, so I am just preparing myself for the random emotional meltdown that will undoubtedly show up out of nowhere.  As I was preparing to write this next step in our tips for Life After Rehab, I was challenged to consider life beyond my own skin.  Yes, it’s sad that I don’t live near those beloved people anymore.  But, there is a world still doing it’s thing outside of the all-consuming emotions swirling in my own head.  That world is hurting and just a simple shift in my focus can help both of us.  Raise your coffee cups:  Here’s to Step 6 in Life After Rehab…


Step 6: Help Someone Else.

“In rehab, people spend a significant time talking about what they’ll need to do to improve their individual lives, but research suggests that helping someone else could be a vital part of the recovery process. For example, a study in the journal Addiction found that helping others achieve sobriety reduced the risk that recovering drinkers would binge drink. By helping others, they were able to share experiences and remember what it’s like to struggle for sobriety. This allows petty daily concerns to float away, and it might make the person work even harder to maintain the gains earned in drug rehab. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous make this kind of mentoring easy, as most programs ask senior members to take on younger members and counsel them in a one-on-one fashion. However, helping could take many forms. In fact, some forms of helping don’t have anything to do with addiction at all. People could volunteer at an animal shelter, mentor a child in need, visit seniors in elder care facilities, or participate in a community garden. Giving back and doing good makes the heart feel full and happy, and this could be just the sort of sensation a person needs in order to maintain sobriety when the rehab program is complete” (


Being a sober-minded mentor to someone else is essential for walking out of Family Rehab. We all have learned a lot over the past year and sharing that with others reminds us of exactly all that God has done and how amazing He really is. God daily works to equip all of us. He is constantly preparing us for something down the road. If I am open, there are things to be learned with every experience and knowledge to be gained about myself, others, and God. He calls all of us to share that wisdom with others. We are the Body and we are to support each other and walk through life pointing each other to Jesus. We are to speak the truth in love to each other and build each other up. Ephesians 4:15-17 says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” If we don’t offer ourselves as mentors to others–if we don’t share the things we have learned–if we don’t speak the hard truths in love–if we don’t acknowledge that God has equipped us with experiences and gifts–than the body can’t grow and mature.

This doesn’t mean we go around arrogantly offering up ourselves as mentors to everybody.  It means we talk openly and freely about our struggles and how Jesus has victory over them. We don’t shy away from sharing how Jesus has transformed us. We don’t forget what He has taught us. We speak out of a confidence in His power to do great redemptive work, not out of the boastfulness of our own “wisdom” or “maturity.” There are a lot of struggling people in this world who need to be gently reminded of how Jesus is pursuing them and loving them. Our stories and experiences can connect people to the most satisfying solution to their struggles–Jesus.

As a family, I believe finding service opportunities to do together will also help us keep a healthy and balanced view of how blessed we are to have each other. Serving others will give us meaningful time together and shared experiences. In the book of James we are told to visit orphans and care for widows. I’m sad to admit, but this is something our family has not done a whole lot of.  However, as we look to the upcoming school year, I hope to add this to our routine.  

Sometimes we are called to just help where help is needed.  I have a friend who has also recently moved.  She texted me just last night telling me about a homeless couple that she came across.  The husband was having a grand mal seizure on the side of the road.  She stopped to help and listened to the wife as she explained their situation through her fear-filled tears.  My friend called for an ambulance and stayed with them until they were loaded up and headed to the hospital.  She gave them snacks and money and even helped the paramedics get the man, (still seizing) onto the gurney.  Her heart was heavy for the couple as she tried to go to sleep.  She expressed to me in her text that she wished she had more resources and contacts in her new surroundings so that she could better help them.  But what my sweet friend didn’t realize is that what she offered that couple was already so much.  She saw a situation in which others needed help and she didn’t over think it, analyze, or hesitate.  Without even realizing it, she was letting Jesus overtake her heart with compassion and He worked mightily through her.  She was equipped with more than enough resources and contacts.   

I really want to empower all those reading out there that you are all equipped for mentorship.  You are equipped to help others.  You don’t have to be a pastor, a pastor’s wife, a counselor, or even someone who has all their “stuff” in order.  I don’t.  I am continually struggling to figure out what to do with my life and how to do it with grace.  But, Jesus has equipped me through the Holy Spirit to help others with the same things that I haven’t yet figured out.  It’s usually in these moments of listening to someone else’s struggles and reflecting on what Jesus’s love can do for them in their situation, that I learn how to apply it to my own life.  That’s sometimes the only way for my stubborn personality to grow.  God has given us all unique stories and uses us to bring Him glory and honor…if we let Him.  We have to be open and willing to see beyond ourselves.  We have to be willing to accept the fact that we aren’t just receivers of help, but that He has something to offer others through us.  Sometimes we can throw our own little pity parities, focusing on how much we lack and how far we have to go.  But it is in our weakness that He is made strong and therefore, we are made strong.  Thank goodness.  If we all waited until we understood it all and had the questions to life all figured out, nobody would ever help anyone.  The world would be at a stand still.  It’s in humility and grace that we really see how huge and relentless the love of Jesus is.  Let’s share that healing message with others.

“Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?  If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:29-30).

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Life After Rehab: Step 5…

This week  has been a hard one for our family.  After the 4th of July, we crashed and burned from the late night celebrations and firework-interrupted sleep.  Emotions and fits were at an all time high…and I’m not just talking about the kids. 🙂 Yesterday, Gideon in a furious fit of hurt feelings, marched into his bed at 4:30 and slept till 7 this morning.  I don’t really know what or who hurt his feelings, but I know if was a part of some game that was intended to include him.  Whatever it was that offended him wasn’t a part of the plan or design of the game.  If only all of our changes to plans or unintentional incurred hurts were followed by 14 1/2 hours of recovery rest!  This morning he was a new little man, full of politeness and patience.  Because I am not a 5-year old with a still very self-serviced level of responsibilities, I’ve had to find other ways to cope.  Life is full of sin and hurt and emotion and confusion and on and on.  It seems to never stop.  As soon as we recover from one dramatic event (or sometimes not even recover) another something happens to stir up our emotional stew pots.  Maybe I tend to make my life dramatic and experience life with too much emotion.  Even if I that is the case, having healthy ways to cope with my weakness to emotions would be very helpful.  Because I can’t just march to my room and sleep until a new day arrives, I’ve got to figure out how to manage situations and emotions so that I can keep functioning in a way that is pleasing to God–so when I am hurt, I don’t end up emotionally hurting my kids.  When I am sad, I don’t make others sad.  When I am sinning, I don’t cause others to sin.

I am hoping as I write, that I am not the only one who struggles with this need for a 14-hour nap every now and then, or with the desire to find a more reasonable option.  Part of the goal of Family Rehab was to take time out to have an extended period of recovery as we pass from one thing to the next in life.  But, now that rehab is over, the 14-hour nap is not an option.  The new day has come and now we ask the questions that will hopefully lead us to more realistic ways to function and cope.  I do know that it’s nearly impossible to do it alone.  Which leads us to the next step in our 7 step series for Life After Rehab…



Step 5: Find a Support Group.

“Drug rehab programs often utilize support groups, including Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, as programs like this can boost a feeling of affiliation and help people to achieve and maintain sobriety. When rehab is over, it can be tempting to skip meetings in favor of talking with family and friends on an informal basis, but attending support groups could provide benefits that casual talks cannot. In a support group, people are still learning about addiction and they’re tapping into a network of people who have dealt with their own addiction issues. They have a robust roster of people to talk to, and a goal to work toward. The meetings can be inspirational, and they can allow the person to say things that the family simply might not understand. In other words, meetings shouldn’t be skipped” (



So there isn’t a Family Rehab Anonymous support group that meets on a weekly basis.  (I checked.)   However, there is a weekly gathering of people who are dealing with a myriad of their own weaknesses and issues. It’s called the church. A Sunday morning gathering of believers provides everything that the above secular resource describes in a support group.  At a high school reunion (an undisclosed number of years ago), this similarity was pointed out to me by a friend.  When she heard that my husband was a pastor, she went on to say that church is just like her running club, a group centralized around a common interest.  Yes, it’s true, being a part of the Body of Christ gives a feeling of affiliation. We are all sons and daughters of the King, right? But it is much deeper than mere affiliation or interest.  We’ve all been purchased by the same blood. On a Sunday morning we go beyond a social gathering with family and friends and learn together about our addictions to sin and the constant battle against our flesh. There is a “robust roster” of fellow strugglers, fellow sinners, and fellow saved. Our goal and struggle as believers is to actually receive the grace that is offered to us so freely.  Church is not just a social club, or at least it shouldn’t be.

Worship obviously can be inspirational and being in the safety of others can allow us to say things about our struggles and talk about grace in a way that the rest of the world seems to avoid or redefine. The benefits of being a part of a church community are deep and plentiful.  “In other words, meetings [Sunday worship] shouldn’t be skipped.” As we continue to make the transition out of a year of rehab, we will commit to being in a community of fellow Jesus believers. For us, this goes beyond Sunday morning worship and our commitment is to also be a part of a missional community or house church, or whatever you want to call it. We plan on being a part of a smaller group of believers who do life together and share in the daily struggle to live in honesty and under grace.  This smaller group can provide connection with others and the time to be truly known that is sometimes missed in a larger group setting like Sunday morning worship.

Simply going to church on a Sunday morning isn’t the end-all-be-all.  Just like Alcoholics Anonymous, there might be a period of time when new attendees just sit and observe in those church pews–and that’s okay.  But eventually, you are going to be asked to say your name and tell the rest of the group your story.  The same should be true of our churches.  I wish I could say that all churches do this as well as AA, but unfortunately, most churches leave visitors feeling awkward, out of the loop, or unwanted.  I’ve been privileged to be a part of both small and large churches and the issue shows no bias to numbers or size.  In order to be family, as the church should be, we all need to be fully known by the those around us.  We have to struggle together verses struggling alone on the side lines as we watch others seem to walk through life unscathed.  (Trust me, all of those perfect looking families and people are just as wounded as the rest of us.)   AA acts more like the church than most churches.  Upon arrival, everyone admits that they struggle and need help.  The culture facilitates honesty and vulnerability and the sharing of the deep and dirty.

Below are some of the FAQs from the AA website about their meetings.  These questions are probably very similar to the questions asked about a Sunday morning church service.  If you are a Christian, please read the answers AA provides to these questions and think about your church…can it answer the same way?



Here are some issues a lot of us worried about before coming to our first AA meeting:
Will I be asked a lot of questions?

No, it’s not like going to a doctor or a health clinic. AA meetings are very informal. Just take a seat and listen to the stories members will tell about their drinking and their recovery. You can talk to people if you want to or just keep to yourself until you feel more comfortable.

Do I have to “sign up”?
No. There’s nothing to sign. If, at some stage you want to join a particular group you just say so. If you don’t want to join any group, that’s okay too.

How much will it cost?
There is no charge for attending an AA meeting. Usually a collection is taken at the end of each meeting to cover the costs of renting the hall and providing refreshments. Only AA members can contribute. There’s no obligation but most people put in a dollar or two.

Do I have to get up and speak in front of people?
The meeting will consist of members telling their stories but if anyone isn’t in the mood to talk, it’s fine to decline. You may be invited to speak but it’s quite okay if you don’t want to.

What type of meetings are there?
By far the most common type of AA meeting is called an ID meeting. Members just tell their stories of what they were like, what happened and what life is like for them now. There are also Steps meetings where AA’s 12-Step program of recovery is discussed in detail. There are also various other types of discussion meetings.

Who goes to AA meetings?
You’ll find all sorts of people at AA meetings. Men, women, young, old, well off and not well off.



Are visitors at your church bombarded with lots of questions?  Are visitors at your church hounded to “sign-up” and hand over their contact information?  Are visitors at your church asked to open their wallets before they are asked their name?  Are visitors at your church asked to talk or do something that they might not be comfortable with or ready for?  Does your church only have one method or meeting for connecting and teaching?  Does your church give opportunities to ask deeper questions and  for deeper sharing?  Does your church provide opportunities for people to share their stories, or are they only coming as observers of a show or ritual?  Does anyone even know your story?  Do you know the story of the people sitting in the pew next to you?  Who goes to your church?  Do you all look the same?  Do you all fit in the same age-group?  Do you all fit in the same socio-economic  circle?

Hopefully, this challenges how we “do” church and what we think about the church if we’ve never been.  I recently read an article written by a man who reflected on his first visit to AA and the way his visit challenged his preconceived notions about the organization and its gatherings.  He was met with friendly people who were interested in his story.  He was met by a man who naturally and unobtrusively shared his story with raw honesty.  He expected to see either drunks who were slipping out of their chairs onto the floor, or recovering alcoholics who were better and stronger than him.  What he found were people who all knew and publicly acknowledged that they were weak and powerless to save themselves, that they needed someone bigger than themselves.  They shared their weaknesses and the victories in the continued struggle.

Does your church publicly show its weakness?  Do the people in the pews hide their struggles, or come together as a people who are all willing to publicly admit their need for someone larger than themselves.  Do visitors at your church see fellow imperfect strugglers or merely people of perfection?

These AA questions lead me to ask another set of questions:  What is the intended goal of your church?  Is that obvious to the outside world?  The intended goal of AA members is to help lead others to a life of sobriety as they have done themselves.  Alcoholics Anonymous states on it’s website that it  “is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.”  It’s out of love that we want others to know what we know and experience what we have experienced.  It has to  be both of those, by the way.  If our desire to share Jesus comes only from a place of “knowing” then we are self-righteous know-it-alls.  If we only share Jesus’ love because we have only experienced it, then we are seen as brain-washed, uninformed, and unintellectual nitwits who don’t know any better.  It doesn’t matter what order we do it in.  Saul knew a whole lot before he experienced Jesus and his grace first hand.  The disciples experienced Jesus first and didn’t understand anything he said until after his resurrection.

We have to understand that our goal is to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospel and this is because we believe in and have experienced the freedom and relief that comes by receiving His unmerited grace.  If our goal is to gain numbers for global domination, we’ve got it all wrong.  Like the AA member, we gather and don’t skip our meetings because we know what it feels like to be addicted, to struggle, and to be in need.  We know what it’s like to feel lost, hopeless, and overwhelmed.  We know what it’s like to feel guilt and shame over our failures and the hurts we have caused others.  And we know what it’s like to be freed from all that.  We know what it’s like to be loved despite our worst.  We know what it’s like to be accepted and valued, despite the deepest transgression.  We know what it’s like to be challenged through trials and temptation, but to come out on the other side full of hope and peace.  We know what it’s like to walk in sobriety.  It is because of that freedom and the knowledge and wisdom that comes by the Holy Spirit, that we desire all those hurting and struggling around us to join us.  We seek to support, love, and encourage one another.  It’s important to stay connected and involved in this supportive group called “the church” and to increasingly challenge each other to hold fast to the goals and reasons for it’s existence.  We can’t do it alone.

The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians about his role within his “AA support group”, the church.  Let it be an encouragement and an example for those of us who are seeking to walk a life of sobriety.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” ( 1 Colossians 1:24-29).

Jesus is at work in us.  The mystery of Christ in you delivers great riches and amazing strength.  Don’t skip your meetings with Him and with others who He is working in.  Be an encouragement to the Body of Christ, and let the body encourage you.  If you are a Christian, remember how you have been rescued by His love and grace.  Remember to share that and extend the same love to others.  (It might be their first time to see if Christians really mean what they say, or if they are hypocrites.)  Be fully known and vulnerable and see the love of Jesus cover over any weakness or failure.  His support, love, and acceptance will only encourage your walk in sobriety.  When suffering or trial comes, know that there are likely others going through the same difficulties.  Find them, seek them out, and be honest.  Put aside all preconceived notions and test the waters of vulnerability and community.  It’s not a 14 1/2 hour nap, but it can be just as restful, refreshing, and reassuring.


Life After Rehab: Step 4…

Just a little recap…

I’ve been writing about some helpful steps I found from a drug rehab facility for recovering addicts who are entering back into society after their recovery program.  I have found that these steps are helpful when thinking about my life after rehab–our Family Rehab.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about…there’s about 9 months worth of blog posts for you to catch up on. 🙂  In short, our family has spent the past school year taking an intentional break from the rushed nature of our American lives.  We pulled our kids out of public school and taught them from home.  We were intentional about getting to know our kids, teaching them in a relaxed and deliberate way about Jesus, and spending time together as a family.  During this time, my husband, a church planter in Buda, TX, was offered a position at a church 2 1/2+ hours away from family and friends.  This proved to be just the kind of situation that required our family to come together even more and learn how to trust Jesus both as a unit and individually.  We have wrapped up our school year and this time of Family Rehab, and are now focusing on Life After Rehab in this new environment with it’s new challenges.

We pick up with Life After Rehab: Step 4…


Step 4:  Focus on Mental Health.

“Returning to an old routine can bring stress and anxiety, especially if people are dealing with an intense craving for alcohol or drugs, and it can be easy to focus on the negativity. Sadness can build and build until a relapse seems not only possible but also certain. Finding a moment in each and every day to do something positive could be vital. A few moments of morning meditation could help the clouds of anxiety to part, for example, and that could bring the person the peace needed for the rest of the day. Exercise might also play a key role. While researchers aren’t quite sure how mental health and physical activity are linked, the Mayo Clinic reports that depression and anxiety levels can lower when a person exercises regularly. Taking a walk with the dog, swimming a few laps in the pool or lifting weights in the basement could all provide a little boost to mood, and these actions could also help a person feel just a little stronger and a lot healthier” (


Life is stressful no matter what season we find ourselves in, but stepping out of a period of intentional rest and restoration and back into the rat-race can be an anxiety-stricken time. It can be overwhelming and turn the most optimistic personality into a scrooge of negativity. Our sobriety is not about resisting the highs of alcohol or drugs but is rather about maintaining a sober-mindedness and resistance to the all-consuming swirling world of tasks and appointments.  Finding ourselves immersed in a culture that holds the value of productivity, speed, and business on a over-extended pedestal can be both depressing and fearful.  Getting caught up in the pursuit to perform well can make the failure to do so detrimental to our outlook on life and our worth.   Taking care of ourselves both mentally and physically is important in standing firm against the temptation to find our value and worth in our worldly successes and long list of to-dos. I think this is something that we have learned over our year of rehab. Again, keeping that appointment with Jesus and spending time meditating on God’s Word can change the entire outlook of the day. (See the last post about Step 3).  Going on walks can take my frustration and fatigue level from a 10 down to a 2. It’s important that we find healthy options for guilt-free exercise, rest, and time with Jesus.

It’s important to supply this to our kids as well. The tension in our house goes down when everyone has had a chance to be physically active and they’ve had a good night’s rest. It requires sacrifice of time and sometimes money, but it is well worth it. It had been easier during Family Rehab to rest together and take walks together, simply because the sacrifice needed to do these things was been part of the designated goal. Now that we aren’t in “rehab” anymore, guilt creeps back in, convincing us that resting together or exercising isn’t the best use of our time. But it’s important to recognize that guilt isn’t a fruit of the Spirit. If we now commit to–and now believe that–rest and exercise are an integral part of continued “sobriety”, than we are more likely to reserve time, space, and money for it.

But if anybody reading this is the slightest bit like me, they will sympathize with me over the fact that exercise, rest, and meditation are areas in which I don’t have the best of luck.  Just a few weeks ago, I was thoroughly excited about starting up a good fitness routine again.  I found a bikram yoga studio here in Katy and was fully prepared to buy a membership after the first class.  The day before, I had been overly ambitious at home and tried to rearrange some furniture on my own, tweaking a few places in my back.  My thinking was that stretching out in a 90 degree room would be just the thing my aching back would need.  It’s been a really, really long time since I have attended a bikram yoga class–so long, in fact, that I forgot just how much lower back and core strength is required.  I was quickly reminded that it “ain’t” just stretching!  But if any of you know yoga law, you know that once you start a class, you don’t quit.  You can’t leave.  So, I stayed and stuck it out. And, of course, with my pride and competitive nature in full throttle, I couldn’t just ‘take it slow’.  I had to prove to myself that I could still do the things I could do pre-babies number 3 and 4.  It was quite a humbling experience.  Needless to say, that was what landed me in bed for a whole solid week.

That exercising experience didn’t result in a lack of depression and anxiety–it fueled it!  I’m sure if done properly, with boundaries, and a healthy approach exercise does exactly what it’s supposed to do.  The same goes for rest.  When we rest with a heart that is trusting God with our time and our motives, rest can be an amazing gift.  But, when we approach rest with anxiety about what we will be “irresponsibly avoiding” while we rest, we aren’t really resting at all.  We aren’t resting fully.  Or, when we use rest as an excuse or an escape it can result in unhealthy rest.  This might look like indulging in a gossip magazine for us women or lustful pictures or videos for men.

Real quality rest comes from Jesus.  I’m not saying that healthy rest only looks like a bible, a pen, and a Starbucks.  It can be a family game, a nap, watching some World Cup soccer (so sad to see the US go), gardening, painting, an evening stroll, or even an episode of a favorite TV show.  However, I think it’s necessary for rest to be helpful–not destructive.  Much like my bikram experience, it ended up not being helpful at all, and set my good desire for a healthier routine back a month or so.  It wasn’t worth it!  Neither is “rest” that results in guilt or shame.  It ends up setting us back.  It ends up being destructive.  The time and emotional energy that it takes to recover and repent sucks away rest.  Resting in Jesus looks like enjoying life but with sober-mindedness.  If we approach exercise and rest with sobriety, taking time to consider our choices, then we enter into it with a greater chance of success.  I’m not saying we have to spend hours laboring over what to do every time we have an opportunity to exercise or rest (that’s anxiety), but quickly assessing with 2 easy questions and 1 reminder could help.

Question 1:  Is this what God wants for me and my health right now?

If the answer to the question is ‘no’, then you’re done.  Figure out what He does want and put that first idea to rest.  Hold it captive to Him and move on to another idea.  Don’t try to convince yourself or make something that’s not healthy for others, somehow permissible for you.

If the answer to the question is ‘yes‘, then ask Question 2.

Question 2: Where is my heart in all this?

I hate to be a constant motive-hunter  but these kinds of questions are the ones that in moments of sobriety seem so obvious and easy to consider, but in the moment they escape me.  I wasn’t thinking about my motives at all when I had sweat pouring down my face as I was trying my hardest to contort my body into a yoga pretzel.  If I had been able to think about the unhealthiness of my competitiveness in the moment, I would have just stopped and laid down like a pretzel stick saving myself from a lot of pain.  But I am learning that I’ve got to ask myself these questions before I make plans from which I can’t just walk out of the room.  Making the decision in the moment goes beyond my personal level of self-control.  Maybe some of you are stronger than me in this area, but I’ve got to ask myself these things and search my heart before hand.  If I feel like resting by flipping on the tv or surfing the web, I’ve got to check my motives and know where I could potentially lose my “sobriety”.  I may not struggle with my yoga competitiveness when I watch tv or visit some favorite sites, but I might find myself comparing myself to the beautiful models in the commercials, or the super-moms and their ability to be innovative crafters of recycled goods.  I’ve got to ask the question before I grab the remote or the smart-phone so I know how to avoid squandering my opportunity for rest or exercise.  If I ask the questions, than I am more keenly aware of my weaknesses and can make better decisions.  So often, things go horribly wrong when I mindlessly fall into these activities.  It is impossible to be mindless and sober-minded at the same time.

Most of us also struggle with unique motives to exercise.  The goal of exercise is health, not looks.  The goal of putting on the running tights and shoes is to get your heart pumping, not that of the passerby in the park who watches you run by.  In our society, the struggle to keep ourselves sober-minded in this area is tough.  Women and men alike are encouraged to look better for the purpose of attracting others.  If I see one more Gold’s Gym sign encouraging me to work out so that I “Look Better Naked,”  I just might take them on their word and scare the living daylights out of them, showing up ready to hit the elliptical machine with nothing on.  (Don’t worry, I’d never follow through.)  Whether we struggle with the desire to look better, or we struggle with pridefully thinking we already look better, then we we need to check our motives when working out.  The goal is to feel better both physically and emotionally, not simply to look better.

Then I have to remind myself…

Reminder:  God is in control and I can rest in Him and His plan.  “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21). 

I need help remembering that if this is what God wants for me right now, then He, in His sovereignty, will take care of all the other details of my time and my life.  If I feel guilt about not using that time to get something else done, I need to remember that He loves me and wants the best for me.  He controls the spinning of the earth!  He surely can help me find the time to get that other thing done.  I can remember that in His mercy and deep love for me He wants me to enjoy life to the fullest.

So, if you love hitting the gym, or running, or yoga and have an opportunity to indulge a little time towards it, live in freedom to do it with a joyful heart and carefree spirit.  If you have time to take a little snooze, then remember that it’s a healthy way to spend your time.  God doesn’t want you to squander opportunities for physical activity and rest by questioning yourself if you deserve it or not.  It’s not about what you deserve.  Exercise and rest are a requirement for healthy living and continued “sobriety”.

If you feel like you don’t have time for exercise, rest, or meditation, please seek out the help of friends and advocates who will help you make time for these.  I know I need permission from my husband to rest, exercise, and spend time in the Word because I struggle in feeling guilty about the use of my time in that way.  I don’t literally need his “permission”, but knowing that he supports that use of my time, helps me to also feel good about it.  I need others to remind me about God’s love for me and desire for me to enjoy these things, not feel anxious about them.

This step to rest and exercise is a challenge for all of us.  Let’s take comfort knowing that what is being asked of us is out of the love of the Father and His great care for us and our bodies.

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 1:2).


Next…Step 5…

Life After Rehab: Step 3…

Wow.  What a weekend!  Helen celebrated her 8th birthday for 3 days solid.  We are all a little partied out at the Goeke household. 🙂  She wanted to be surprised, so we gave her three days of mini-surprises, all of which were revealed to her by secret codes and riddles.  We had a little bit of “surprise and fun” withdrawal Tuesday morning.  Only 45 seconds after awakening, Helen announced that she was bored.  Oh, to be bored…if she only knew the thrill of having nothing to do. 🙂

Now that the craziness of the weekend has passed and I have pretty much recovered from my back issues, AND my secret code writing… it’s back to our Life After Rehab Steps…



Step 3: Keep Follow-up Appointments.

“Drug rehab programs sometimes work on a stair-step model, where the care provided becomes less and less intense until the person is handling sobriety alone, without assistance. Often, this means that people must head to appointments with counselors in the early days of recovery, even though the formal rehab program is over. Therapy might help people to process feelings regarding work, deal with family transitions, handle relapse triggers, set goals for the future, and strengthen skills. Life can get hectic and demands on time can build and build, but skipping follow-up appointments isn’t advisable. The work should continue, and each appointment should be considered vital to long-term success in sobriety (

For life after Family Rehab, I’ve got to keep my follow-up appointments. First, I’ve got to keep my appointments with Jesus. Spending time in the Word and placing my struggles and fatigue into His lap will remind me of His sovereignty and love for me and my family. He will fill me with His Spirit and remind me that He lives in me. He will empower me to have continued victory over frustration and impatience, as well as all my other struggles.  He will forgive me when I fail. He will help me process my feelings by filtering them through His Word and He will strengthen me with His peace.

Secondly, I also will need to keep my follow-up appointments with my husband. We are a team in this whole marriage and parenting season of life, which means we are in it for the long haul.  We have got to be on the same page. We have got to advocate for each other in prayer and support the specialized work to which God has called each of us. If there is even a hint of feeling alone on the home-front, we’ve got to address it. If one of us is overwhelmed or sick, we have to step in and love and care for the other, as well as take up some of the work load. If we aren’t regularly checking in with each other, than it is so easy to miss the ever-so-slight downward slope that we can get caught on. The little frustrations or the little overwhelming moments slowly knock us down to nothing. We need to keep those follow-up appointments when things are seemingly ok, because we can rejoice together as well and build each other up. We bought two chairs for a little nook in our bedroom just for the purpose of helping us keep our follow-up appointments with each other. When we see those chairs, we will remember that we bought them with the intent of looking at each other and connecting over conversation. We needed the physical reminder…(plus, they are really cool chairs.) 🙂

But let’s be honest…there are some nights when the last thing I want to do is sit in my chair, face his chair, and talk.  Either one of us can be tired or just simply “done” after a long day of listening and talking.  These are the nights when despite the lack of words or chair conversation, we speak grace to each other in the most profound way.  We don’t have to force conversation for conversation’s sake.  We can rest in the peace and grace of Jesus knowing that skipping “catch-up” time and just resting in silence or the lull of the Tonight Show doesn’t define the state of our marriage.  The chairs are to bring peace and relationship, not legalism.  So we speak grace to each other in those times of fatigue, reassuring each other that Jesus wants us to rest together just as much as talk. That grace-filled interaction puts us on the same page that is so important to our sobriety in life after rehab.

We also need to keep our follow-up appointments with those sober-minded friends, mentors, and counselors.  (See steps 1&2 from earlier posts.)  Who doesn’t need therapy?!?!  Forcing myself into conversations that expect honesty and vulnerability will only keep me honest and vulnerable with myself. I can’t live life only at surface-level, evaluating life by face-value standards and skimming life’s moments and learning opportunities. When I am forced to dig deeper into discovering what God has for me in the every day experiences, I am getting the most out of life and enhancing the lives around me.  And for some reason, this week in particular, I am discovering more and more that my own deep thinking usually needs to be tested on a sound board.  Despite what popular culture says, it’s usually not a good thing for me just to follow my own heart.  It’s pretty full of sin and is all jacked up, so I’ve got to run all my introspective thoughts by a professional…or at least a close friend.

(sigh.) I almost missed mentioning these next set of appointments that I need to remember.  These appointments are crucial.  And as evidenced by the fact that these important people almost went unnoticed, I struggle the most with these meetings.  MY KIDS!  (I just spent the last 30 seconds hanging my head in shame slumped over the keyboard.)  Pretty embarrassing for “family-rehab-lady.”  These steps are really proving to hit me in the gut.  It is so important for me to connect with my children on a daily basis…probably even more.  They need to know we have a relationship that is more meaningful to me than the requests for help around the house and help with their baby brother.  They need to know and be reminded constantly that they serve more of a purpose than simply their birth order in our family.  They need to know that I want to know their interests, their opinions, their fears, their failures, and that with all of it, I still love them deeply.

These appointments help me remember how blessed I am, and that those little people are here because they are just that—little people.  They are not merely extra hands around the house.  They are not merely living creatures to feed.  They are not merely entertainment.  They are not merely here so I can find my identity as a parent.  They are not merely adolescents.  They are treasured, valued, gifted and talented vessels of God’s grace.  Being in their presence (if I am in the right frame of mind and filled with the Spirit) should remind me that I, too, am a treasured, valued, gifted and talented vessel of God’s grace—which leads me to another reason why I should keep these appointments:

When I keep my promises and personal goals to spend quality time with my children, I am giving time and space to speak the Gospel into their lives.  The facts that 1) Jesus gave up His life for us, despite our imperfection; and 2) His same Spirit that had power over the grave and death now lives in us, relate to every facet of our lives, whether adult or child.  It is my privilege to listen to my children and apply this great news to the thoughts, feelings, and details found in their dialogue.  My goal should be that eventually they roll their eyes at me when I start to speak of Jesus’s great sacrifice for them, because they have heard it so many times before.  I want them to hear it so much that they start to anticipate when I am going to “start in again with the Jesus spiel.”  They will start to hear it in their heads before I even say it, which is good practice for when they are older and on their own.  I kind of like the challenge of engaging their hearts with the same message over and over again.  The promises of Jesus don’t get old or lose their gripping satisfaction.  I might get old and struggle to always be creatively rich with my words.  However, Jesus will never fail them.  I want to avoid sending them the inadvertent message that my failure to keep my promises and appointments with them  is a reflection of His promises and His desire to meet them in a personal way.

It’s so easy to forget all of these appointments. It’s so easy to let other things take priority. It’s so easy to get busy.  It’s so easy to play 2048 instead of opening up my Bible and journal.  It’s so easy to let the chairs just collect laundry to be folded. It’s so easy to get bored with the content of my conversations with my children.  It’s so easy to assume I’d have nothing deep to talk about or nothing to learn from a friend or a counselor.  However, committing to these appointments with Jesus, my husband, my kids, and my sober-minded mentors can keep me from slipping into a previous way of living.

But for when I do lack the commitment and the resolve to keep these appointments:

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15).

Stay tuned for Life After Rehab: Step 4…


Life After Rehab…Step 2

So Family Rehab has concluded and summer reflection time begins.  Earlier this week, I posted about Step 1 of Life After Rehab, drawing from seven steps I found on a drug rehab site.  The steps are written to help addicts as they transition from a time of intentional learning back to real life.  If you didn’t happen to read about Step 1, please take the time to check it out, as the thoughts after each of the seven steps support all of them.

Before diving into Step 2, I have to take a moment to mention how thankful I am for this thinking and processing time.  God has been overwhelming me this summer with His provision of time and space to think and write.  I feel like I would be “hiding it under a bushel-oh, no!” not to mention the way God has been caring for my heart in a very personal way during this time.  From anonymous donors who have made babysitting possible, to my mom who has given up her week to come and help me while I work from bed with a thrown out back, I have been inundated with blessing.  I hesitate to even write publicly about His provision, because I don’t want others to compare and feel bad about their current situation.  (I say this, because that’s exactly what I have done and would do…)  But the amazing thing is that the same God who has been so generous with me is the same God of everyone who is reading this.  His love for everyone else is just as deep as it is for me.  His generosity and provision no less for anyone else.  I know that at another time, in another season, I will read someone else’s blog and feel jealousy well up within me because their life seems so blessed.  I can hear my own, “Well aren’t you lucky…” sassiness in my head.  I’ve been there before and done that.  Maybe the next time I will remember writing this and will eat my own words.  Hopefully, I will just thank their God for being my God and for taking care of all of His children.

Okay…on with Life After Rehab…

Step 2:  Evaluate the Neighborhood, and Move if Needed.

“For some people, the old neighborhood contains a plethora of reminders about substance use and abuse. They may be walking by their drug dealers on a daily basis, and the street corners, local bar fronts, and green parks might remind them of the times they spent getting drunk or getting high. These memories can be powerful triggers for addiction cravings, and they could be too much for people to resist. Other people may find that their homes are, similarly, unsafe. For example, a study in the journal Substance Use and Misuse found that female heroin users often lived with a current user or a former user. When rehab is over, these people might return to homes filled with drugs, and a relapse might quickly follow. Moving to a new neighborhood can push the reset button on cravings, providing the person with new vistas and new opportunities to explore. The neighborhood might be safer, with fewer available drugs, or it might just be different enough to push the old memories away. If the old neighborhood is unsafe or it’s too hard to live under the burden of memory, moving might be an apt choice” (

HA! I laughed out loud when I read this step. This is NOT why we moved away from Buda! Nevertheless, I get the point and see how our move to Katy is further evidence that God was at work in our Family Rehab year.  While we weren’t fleeing from unsafe people or places, we did find ourselves in “new vistas” and with “new opportunities to explore.”  Honestly, we haven’t really done a lot of this work, so this step is still very applicable for our family.  We don’t want to get swept up in the chaos of American dream setting and fast-paced living that we neglect the hearts of our children yet again.  And the struggle to end up there again is even greater in a new place with the pressure to fit in to our surroundings.  Before Family Rehab, the majority of our time was committed to people and places outside of our home (for us, as adults, as well as for the children). These commitments were all with good people and were for healthy reasons.  But with every “yes” to other people we were saying “no” to focused time with our children.  Having them home for school has dramatically changed the amount of hours we have alone with them.  For this I am grateful and see the benefits of spending my days with them.  Our conversations are not limited to the dinner table or at bedtime.  This is one area where we dramatically changed our surroundings during Family Rehab.  For life after Rehab, this might be a change in lifestyle that we choose again next year.

The fact that I don’t really know anyone yet here in Katy has helped me in not spreading my schedule too thin. But, I know the time will come when the temptation to over-commit will call.  More concerning than over-committing time away from home, is the temptation to misuse the time I do have with the kids.  Am I looking past them to the calendar for my next mommy-break?  Am I easily frustrated that they just won’t go to bed because I am more concerned about sitting down and doing nothing than I am about discovering the state of their little hearts?  Once our new house becomes our home, I am certain that these temptations will become a part of our new norm…honestly, they already have.  But, it’s because of my weakness in giving in to these areas that we started our year of rehab in the first place.  Moving to another house or city will not be an option when these selfish cravings pursue.  I’m not sure what the right step will be, but I do know that likely God will ask me to do something that causes change and shakes things up a bit.  I need to be open to that.  I need to prepare myself now because that time will likely come and sacrifice will likely be asked of me.  A life of faith-risks and ultimate trust is what is asked of me.

Perhaps what is worth noting from this step is exactly that–being willing to do the “crazy” thing for the purpose of sobriety—sober-mindedness (see previous post).  Think for a minute how huge of a deal it would be to just pack up and pick up and move to another part of town, all for the purpose of getting away from temptation.  That’s a pretty extreme step for the sake of healthy living.  Especially if what you are tempted to do is widely accepted, joked about, and encouraged in our culture.  But, if you consider doing it for your kids, that might become a different story.

Consider this:  If your child was being bullied by a young neighbor down the street, or a predator was stalking your teenage daughter, relocating for the sake of their safety wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.  So if the culture I am living in and submitting myself to encourages me to neglect and be disappointed in my children because they are “in the way”, then are my kids really safe with me—in my home?  So what dramatic changes will I need to take if we find ourselves living in the neighborhood of busyness, impatience, fear, and neglect?  I have to at least be willing to consider that changing something might be the right thing to do, not just for the children, but for all of us.  If it upsets my comfort, is an inconvenience, or requires sacrifice, than I’ve got to remember that I am the only one who can be asked to take such drastic measures for my children.  God has entrusted me and my spouse with them, called me to care for them and teach them, to facilitate their growth into little men and women of God.  (Deuteronomy 6:7)  I can’t get out of this one… (sigh).  I can’t look to the Sunday School teacher or the swim coach to take over this responsibility.  Am I willing?  Will I be willing when even more is asked of me than just “Family Rehab?”

This is a really hard question to honestly consider.


Yep…that’s about as far as I let it sink in for me, too.  It’s a hard question to consider until we are at the crossroads of the sacrifice and the decision to follow-through.  My prayer is that for all of us, when we are asked to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses and follow Him, that we will find the courage to do so.  I pray that God will give us all a clear enough picture of the destructive drugs we are being asked to run from that when sacrifice is required in the fleeing, there is no doubt that giving them up will be worth it.

We can incorrectly assume that life after rehab means all the hard work and incredible sacrifice is over.  But it’s not.  There will always be more opportunities to refine who we are and adjust our thinking and priorities.  There will be new drugs, new temptations, and new addictions.  The humbling thing is that God in His mercy provides joy in the midst of sacrifice.  That joy is the overflow of a thankful heart that sees and recognizes the mercy and grace of the Father.  The temptation to “just get through” the day instead of invest in those with whom you share the day, the drug-like highs of productivity, busyness, and stress that cause a back-lash of hurtful behavior towards the ones we love, the culture that lures us into lazy and slothful parenting—God lifts our heads above these things.  He gives us hope to overcome these things, because He already has and He simply just cares that much.  He rescues us from the entrapment and slavery of these things.  For that, we have reason to be joyful, to give Him praise, and to worship Him.  Even if we are asked to sacrifice time or comfort, or even neighborhoods, knowing that we have been freed up to be freed from our addictions gives us thankful hearts and joy in the midst of sacrifice.

“And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord” (Psalm 27:5-7).