Yesterday was game day: my daughter’s debut on the middle school basketball team.  As most sports enthusiasts know, girls’ 5th-grade basketball is where it’s at.  The NBA has nothin’ on the drama of a 20-minute scrimmage of tweens.  The NCAA can’t compare to the fast pace surprises and amazing display of developing talent.  It truly was a memorable evening.

The three mini-games played last night were purposeful.  Most of the young women participating were only just beginning to learn the rules of the sport.  So, the shortened matches were a chance to learn by doing.  (Sort of a toss the baby in the swimming pool approach)  Dribbling a ball down the court in practice alongside your teammate only requires one set of skills.  However, maintaining control of the ball while a ponytail covered in spirit ribbons whips you in the face is another.  Practicing lay-ups and working on jump shots provides some building blocks of the basics.  But, remembering which basket to aim at in the midst of screaming pre-teens and enthusiastic parents, now that’s an essential lesson all of its own.

A friend and I were laughing as we watched.  Some of the athleticism in unintentional plays was awkwardly unreal.  In the split-second of receiving the ball, the ability to chunk it towards the side wall as if it were a football (or a soggy sock) takes amazing muscle reflexes.  The agility required to scramble on the floor over jump ball after jump ball is not qualitative.  We both agreed that we probably couldn’t imitate was we saw, even if we tried.  And if we were to attempt such feats, there’s no way we’d last a full 20-minutes.

Thankfully, my daughter has wisdom beyond her years.  She was telling us before dinner the night before about this upcoming match.  With great excitement she said, “Ya’ll have to come!…Come watch me fail!  We are horrible!  There’s no way we will win, but you have to come!  It will be great!”  Oh, my sweet, sweet, girl.  I love that she held excitement in the sport, not in the hope of winning.  I love that she didn’t merely want to play the game, but moreover wanted us to enjoy simply watching her play it.

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“Come watch me fail…”  

Wow.  She has more self-confidence and security than most adults, including myself.  I don’t know if I’d invite any of y’all to be spectators at an event in which I was assuredly going to bounce my own ball into my own face.  She could have pouted.  She could have turned red in embarrassment.  She could have cried from the uncomfortableness of her awkwardness.  Her hope, however, was not placed in points or winning.  Her aim was to learn and enjoy the game.

Many of us are in situations or circumstances that likely require us to learn.  I’d argue that none of us is beyond spiritual growth, for sure.  2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  But how do we approach the opportunities to grow set before us?  How do we approach our transformation?  Do we listen to the Spirit to even discover chances to mature?

One tendency is to approach the court in fear.  There was another sweet girl on our team who avoided the ball at all cost.  I don’t think this was intentional, because she was happy to be there, she was glad to be a part of the team, and she had some occasional hustle.  However, at one moment in the game, as she stood next to a fellow teammate, the ball was passed in her general direction.  As it barreled towards her, she dodged to the side, in an instinctual response to avoid fast-flying objects.  The girl next to her reached as best she could to cover for this young lady’s evasiveness, but to no avail, the ball hit her elbow and bounced off.  Like a pinball machine the orange ball of danger was directly boomeranged back into the poor timid girl’s arms.  She caught the ball squarely in front of the chest, as coach had taught. But, as if it were an intense orb of fire, she immediately flung it in the air…into the arms of the opposing team.  Without hesitation, she turned her face to the coach and mouthed with distraught wrinkled brow, “I’m sorry!”

Our fear in situations can cause us to rely on instincts that are better reserved for real-life-danger.  Is it really necessary that I react to my children as if they were an attacker mugging me in the parking lot?  Is it really necessary that when confronted with conflict I hide in a back room as if an axe murderer was hunting me down in my house?  These reactions, while they seem completely rationale in the moment, only deprive us gaining wisdom and strength through trials.  Rather than soaking in and absorbing wisdom, we repel it like water on a duck.

We can also deflect the scary ball of responsibility onto others, but the lesson is for us.  It always ricochets back.  They have their own issues to deal with and their own path of maturity.  Only we can deal with our ‘stuff’.  Do we receive the hard things as opportunities of growth?  Do we instinctually fling them into the air?  Even if our acknowledgment isn’t as quick as the young girl’s, we will eventually feel regret that the opportunity to grow was lost.

Another tendency is to over-analyze the situation and our position.  There were some young athletes who really took to heart their defensive positions, that even after the ball had moved cross-court and was now in their team’s possession, they were still defending their territory.  They got so lost in their assigned job, that they missed the larger lesson and flow of the game.  There was no acknowledgment or rejoicing that their own team had the ball!

Man, I do this every stinkin’ day.  I get lost so easily in my tasks or seemingly designated position (usually self-appointed) that I miss the larger picture and the goal that Jesus is working me towards.  I can over-think what I should be doing and how I should be doing it, that I miss valuable play-time.  I forget that the purpose and plans to which God has called me are also ordained and controlled by him.  I can become very self-focused on what I feel is a valuable priority, that unknowingly I am left standing alone, in a very defensive position, with only my check-list in hand.  Meanwhile, the Spirit is yelling and pointing at me to get down court and help.  Your team has the ball!

Lastly, the tendency I observed in my daughter is the one that I hope to learn from.  This is the tendency to joyfully engage.  She was puzzled most of the time.  She kept up with the team and when the ball came to her, she dribbled a few times and then passed it off to someone who had a little more experience.  Over the course of the three-game evening, I saw great improvement in her understanding and her skills.  She never perfected her skills, nor did she ever fully understand what was swirling on around her.  She did, however, slowly transform from nervous and timid, hands glued to her sides, to quick feet with spurts of trying to steal the ball from the opponent.  I watched as she fervently sought out the coach and his instructions throughout play.  And, thankfully, she has a great coach, who is teaching the girls through encouragement and support.  He could have gotten worked up about the lack of points on the board, the number of turn-overs, or the amount of double-dribbles.  Instead, he guided each player only in a way that resulted in joyful participation.

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We left having lost, won, and tied at least once.  My daughter, though she expected to walk away a “failure”, left with new knowledge, confidence, and deeper joy.  I am thankful that she engaged the challenge of flying balls and twisted feet.  I pray that I learn from her to have the same joy and courage when it comes to potential failure.  I pray that I have the guts to invite others to come alongside me and witness my weakness and inability.  I pray that just like her I find my value in something other than winning, gaining points, or being impressive.  Instead, I hope to score steadfastness and maturity.  James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”  Every time a hurling challenge flies my direction, I can respond with thankfulness, knowing that the opportunity for joy and a strengthening of faith awaits…I just need to have open hands, elbows out, palms forward to receive it.

After the game, we went to a sandwich shop for dinner as requested by our star-player.  My jersey-wearing-girl ferociously downed her meal.  She said, “Man, playing basketball is a good workout!  I could eat two of these.”  When we also engage with the circumstances laid in front of us–when we don’t run or hide from the difficult and sometimes intimidating things to which God has called us–we get a good workout and a healthy appetite as well.  Our bodies and souls, while fatigued, become stronger and more steadfast.  Our desire for Jesus and His word intensifies.  We look less to unhealthy escapes or quick-fix wisdom because it just doesn’t sound good anymore.  We’d rather be fueled through these hard times by the healthy life-giving and recharging Word of God and His encouraging Spirit.

Thank you, God, for 5th-grade girls’ basketball.  Thank you for the awkwardness, the confusion, and the spirit to confront fear with the best of friends.  Thank you for my daughters invitation to watch her fail and for the safety she must feel in our relationship to take that risk.  Thank you for coaches that speak words of encouragement and refuse to let us quit.  Thank you, God, for the sovereignty of Your plan and Your testing through any circumstance.  Thank you for opportunities to grow and to enjoy having a position on Your team.  Thank you for gratitude and the joy that quickly follows.

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Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.

Psalm 147:7-8

He prepares all things for our growth.  What wisdom and beauty He is.  To Him be all glory and thanksgiving!

I’ve been particularly absent from the blog lately.  I could say I’ve been busy with the book and general life stuff, which I have, but actually it’s been a matter of pride.  My blogging is usually a time of solitude with Jesus, and there is no good excuse for short-changing time with Him and time to process life through His Word.  See, things have been rough.  Some of my children have not been adapting very well to our new school routine and my embarrassment at the fact has kept me from publicly writing about it.  My shame has inhibited me from processing it through Jesus, which doesn’t alleviate the humiliation, but only perpetuates it.  So, here I am, a little apprehensive about fingering the keyboard and revealing a deep heart issue.  I genuinely don’t know what truth or big idea Jesus will conclude this post with but I know I will need to hear it.  Thanks for joining me in this humbling process.

The worst day was a Monday a few weeks ago.  We had already been in school for half a week (which went wonderfully, by the way) but it was the starting day for public school.  One of my children (I’m not going to mention names…because it gets ugly) was throwing a massive fit about having to go to school.  Everything was wrong.  Clothes were wrong, socks were wrong, shoes were wrong, breakfast was wrong.  I tried to help, but the anthem was, “You won’t even help me…You won’t even listen to me.”  I broke.  My temper flared and I was undone.  After the socks and shoes I had graciously put on, and I had patiently tied, had been kicked off for the second time, my self-restraint was gone.  Once everyone else was ready and it was time to go, the shoeless child was forced into the car, disheveled hair and all.  After kicking and screaming the entire drive, when we arrived at school, the walk into the building was dramatic, laboring, and exhausting.  When we made it to the office, I struggled to pry one child off while keeping another from escaping and running back into the parking lot.  I was mortified.  The walk down the hallway to the classrooms was coupled with mini-body slams against the wall in an effort to stop any progress towards the room.  I smiled the whole time, as if to say, “No one else look, all is fine here! heh…heh…”  Finally a school staff member removed the child suction-cupped to my leg and I made a run for it.

On the way home, I called Paul, tears rolling down my face.  I was sad for my child, hurt by the words of my child, ashamed of my behavior, and embarrassed that my child was reflecting poorly of my parenting.  I was questioning every decision I’ve ever made on behalf of my children.  I was a mess.  But even then, I did not appear nearly as melodramatic as after the next event.  A cop stepped out in front of my car and waved me over.  Ugh…a school zone.  “Seriously, what’s the big idea?  What is up with this day?” With 12 minutes left in the designated time slot for the reduced speed, I was caught going the full speed…and on the phone.  I chunked my cell to the opposite side of the car and veered over.  I got a ticket from a very unfriendly sheriff.  This day was not getting any better.

I cried myself the rest of the way home.  Poor Judah sat in his carseat, wondering what in the world was going on.  After gaining composure, I thought, I can redeem this day.  I will bake cookies.  I will let my children know that I am sorry for the morning by having warm chocolate chip goodness for them when they arrive in the afternoon.  So I set to finding a recipe and checking the pantry for all the supplies as Judah took his nap.  I had everything except the baking powder.  So I googled substitutions online and found something that might work.  I was now racing against the clock to be done by the time Judah woke and we had to head back into the car for pick up.  I mixed and pre-heated and dropped rounded spoonfuls.  When I came back to check my act of goodwill, the oven-light revealed yet another failing of the day.

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There was no part of this day that I had any control over…ahhh…and I think I just stumbled on the clear message of the day.

Control.  I’ve got none of it.

So what do I do with my lack of control?  The lack of control over my temper that morning?  The lack of control over my children’s behavior? My lack of control over what other’s are thinking about me?  My lack of control to pay attention to the flashing school zone lights?  My lack of control when expressing my frustration and emotions over the phone?  My lack of control over the chemical properties of baking soda and the reaction it has (or doesn’t have) when combined with lemon juice?  Apparently, my instinct is to turn to shame and embarrassment, which all stems from pride.  I assume I have the ability to be in control.  Or maybe even, I assume that I have the right to be in control of these things.  If I didn’t assume that control was mine to be had, than why would I feel a sense of failure that I was unable to achieve it?

Nothing is mine to control.  Control is not mine to achieve.  So when the wheels are spinning off and heads seems to be devilishly rotating while spewing green words of hurt at me, I don’t have to turn to shame.  It’s life.  I can’t control any of this, especially the redeeming part.  I can’t muster up the best plan to redeem my day and somehow make it all better.    Jesus is doing something in these moments.  He’s still good and He is working all things out for my good and for the good of those around me.  So, when I am having to let another adult rip my child off my body, its a necessary step in the process to overcome their separation anxiety.  It’s good for them to not cling to me, and this season, while hard, is developing them into the young adults I long for them to be.  That police officer probably got kudos for the number of tickets he wrote that day, I don’t know.  But, somehow I have to believe that it was good for him, and probably good for me to become more aware of my oversight of school zones.  The cookies…well, Jesus did redeem the cookies.  My attempt to redeem the day resulted in imperfection, but He turned that into something worthwhile.  They were flat, but chewy and good.  My taste-tester, Judah, approved.  And when I handed each of my kids a baggie of sweetness as they entered the car at pick-up, they were all smiles.

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Jesus redeems more than just my failures.  He redeems the little things in the little moments of my little day.  The only purpose in Him having my cookies turn out okay was to love me.  How often do we believe that He cares that much?  How often do we experience His goodness on a day that seems like a waste?

Life After Rehab was not guaranteed to be easy.  It was not promised to me that after rehabbing, we would receive an awarded ability to control.  No, if anything we were promised to face challenges and learning experiences that would leave our lack of self-control laid bare and our depravity raw.  I need Jesus.  Even when I make cookies.  I need Him and His presence to satisfy me and to assure me.  This is rehab 101: God is bigger than me and I am powerless on my own.  I thought I had learned that lesson last year, but it’s daily implications still impact me.

We have continued to struggle in the mornings.  I have continued to try and control.  Jesus is softening me, breaking me down so that my inability to control is fully revealed to me, and if needed for my sanctification, revealed to everyone around me.  (I really hope I don’t require that.)  Growth is labor-intensive.  Figuring out how to walk a rehabilitated life while thrown into the mix requires the same intensity and intentionality as figuring out how to do it in a season of removal and distance.  It requires a dependency on the Holy Spirit to listen and look at life in a different way.  We are learning.  If only I had spent the time processing this lesson earlier, I’d probably saved some shame, disappointment, and feelings of failure.  But there is grace in this too.

I am thankful of His reminders.  “You’re not in control.”  “It doesn’t matter what they say, I know your heart.”  “Stop trying to assume what others are thinking about you, and think on what I am teaching you.”  “Slow down.”  “Take deep breaths and rest in me.”  “Enjoy me and my presence, and have a cookie to tangibly taste how good my plan of redemption is.”  “Don’t forget to talk to me.”

You know, those cookies…those paper-thin cookies were my moment of communion with Him.  Through that sugary manna-like treat, He reminded me of His presence, His goodness, His redemption.  He gave me something physical to put in my mouth so I could remember the sweetness of His faithfulness.  I think I’m on to my next big idea…chocolate chip communion wafers. 🙂

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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” (http://www.michaelshouse.com).


 

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…

Treatment Initiation: the first stage of recovery marked by ambivalence, resistance, and denial. Also one of the most emotionally fragile stages in recovery. Treatment staff concentrate on giving the patient hope, bonding them with the rest of the group, and helping them identify with others.

This past week we went on a much needed and long awaited vacation. With all the curriculum research and TEKS reading I have been doing in preparation for our year of rehab, I thought it would be plain irresponsible to take a week at the beach and not study the different ecosystem, the physics of waves, and the salinity of salt water. Okay, it’s obvious that I need help defining the word ‘vacation’. Needless to say, my academic plans for vacation time didn’t result in little geniuses who eagerly traded in boogie boards for a magnifying glass and science composition book. Instead, we talked about my cool experiments I prepared and immediately dismissed them for the pool or a Tinkerbell movie.

I found myself so discouraged. “Some teacher, I am…”, I mumbled under my breath one night about the middle of our trip. Paul reminded me that it was vacation and to give myself a break! But I couldn’t help but doubt our rehab ambitions. I was letting fear of failure blind my previous convictions of obedience. A friend reminded me in a text that “You’re being obedient and God is going to bless that. I’m sure it won’t always be easy, but there is peace in obedience.”. Thank God for godly friends. And for husbands who remind you that it is vacation after all.

I think my little trial run of rehab was alot like the first stage of a drug or alcohol recovery program. First of all, I think I was in denial that we really need family rehab. I think if I really search my heart there is a little voice in there that thinks, “We aren’t really that bad. This is more of a little experiment or just a special opportunity for us.” Let me put it this way: when I envisioned my lesson plan involving carrots and seawater, I pictured my glowing children enamored with my wisdom saying, “You are the coolest mom and the best teacher!”. Then they were supposed to turn to eachother and encourage one another with compliments and hugs, only to yawn and suggest that they all go to bed early so that Mommy and Daddy can rest and have an evening alone to talk. I tend to romanticize everything! Needless to say, that was not their reaction to my lesson, in fact, we didn’t even do that experiment!
Enter resistance. “This was a stupid plan if ever I’ve had one!”. My feelings of discouragement were very much marked with a resistance to comply with what was being asked of me- which very simply is to intentionally love my kids and teach them about Jesus. In all my prep and worry, I had forgotten that it is that command that I am called to obey. God said nothing about carrots and best teacher of the year award. And meanwhile, as I am working on being cool, my kids are getting in the way of my ambitious walk towards awesomeness. Man, do I need rehab, or what. I don’t want to look over their hearts in another selfish campaign.

Well, after resistance came the ambivalence. “Well, whatever…”. Maybe that’s not too bad of a place to be, as long as it’s a surrender to Jesus and his plan, and not laziness and slothfulness. And again, if I’m honest, I probably hung out in slothful for at least a couple days. All the work that I had been pouring into “family rehab” had been tiring and all the work yet to do seemed overwhelming. So I just sat still for a couple days. “Whatever…”

But, just like Treatment Initiation, my therapist (Jesus), surrounded me in my fragile emotional state with love and support. He gave me hope, bonded me with others, and helped me to identify with others. Through texts, messages and phone calls from friends who can relate to skimming the surface of their kids’ hearts, Jesus gently reminded me that, yes, there is work to be done in our family. He reminded me that the need for rehab is there and valid. He reminded me that I am not alone, that He does provide, that He is so faithful.

I’ve got to be honest that there is still a lot of fear of failure and anxiousness thinking about this next year. It was a crazy idea to hold myself accountable through a blog…because it’s working. Knowing that I let all of FaceBook in on this next year is holding me to it! But as the first day of school approaches and Jesus keeps reminding me through His Word and His people that this is a good thing, I am reassured and comforted.

God calls His people to some crazy things. I think if we assume that He wants us to only do the mundane and normal, we haven’t searched through His Word. In the bible, time and time again, He asks much from His people and asks them to do things and go places that seem downright outlandish to us today. But He is the same unchanging God. As scripture also points out, at the end of everyone of those crazy request or adventures, God is glorified. Do those who follow ALWAYS end up with what they originally wanted? No. But God is ALWAYS glorified in the end. My desire is that He be glorified. I’ve just got to remember that!