Everything is a Journey


Coastland Center Mall Book Signing

I had my first book selling event this week.

It came about unexpectedly and plunged me into the next step on my writing journey. A step I’ve longed for, thought about and feared for years. Now, in hindsight, it seems foolish to have dreaded (with excited anticipation) my first book event.

I’m not one of those people who hate talking in front of others. Book selling and signing goes with the territory. I want more people to know about me as an author. So what was I (a little) freaked out about?

The logistics.

I’m not even sure why. I’m asking for divine help in answering that question. But I realize it happens almost every time I find myself in a new, unfamiliar setting or situation. I’m far better now, but it still unsettles me.

Can anyone relate?

Spending hours preparing  by packing up, checking directions (a few times), re-reading instructions, listing needed items and imagining the trip or event several different ways. When I’m supposed to be getting much needed before-the-event sleep. Naturally.

Here’s the deal…

Even though I woke up with a migraine starting that morning, I quieted my heart in prayer and set about getting ready and to my destination. As I drove, I remembered that I had worked at a tuxedo shop a couple of decades ago so I attended numerous and regular wedding events. I also worked book tables for other authors.

I had experience after all. Go figure.

A nice man held the door for me as I lugged my box of books and such into the mall. Then it all came back to me once I started setting up. Arranging my books, cards and flyers was fun. I didn’t know what to expect, so I expected to wait and see what would transpire during the day.

Being at a mall, most of the sparse crowd came for specific purposes. Few stopped to browse. But both of my vendor neighbors were lovely ladies selling beautiful jewelry and handmade tote bags respectively.

We enjoyed some interesting and engaging conversation.

Later on, a couple of friends showed up to support me. I love connecting my friends who don’t know each other, but love me. Overall, I sold a few books, met some very nice people and ended up having a great experience.

All part of the journey.

It was a good day. Even the part when I drove out of the mall the wrong way and ended up circling a number of very long blocks to end up back where I started fifteen minutes later. Making mistakes is a part of learning.

I learned that everything is a journey.

We can keep moving ahead in spite of our fears or questions, or we can hold back and never start. Every new experience is just that–new. Which means we won’t know what to expect or what it will hold for us until we are participating in it.

But if we never take that first step into the unknown, we’ll never know. I’m so grateful for the experience. Every part of it (except that headache) ended up blessing me. And now I’ll be more confident the next time. I also want to keep pressing into what’s next.

Like a radio interview coming up this week.

I’m pretty excited in a nervous am-I-ready-for-this kind of way. I don’t feel ready, but I believe God opens doors at the right time. And sometimes he gives us a little nudge to walk through.

What step do you need to take today?

 

 

Calling All Writers!


If you are currently a writer, whether published or still working on it, you’re invited to check out my new Facebook group Real Time Writers for tips, encouragement and accountability.

We’re having a good time learning our craft, helping each other with advice and interacting.

Some of us are published authors, some are newbie writers and some are wanna-be-someday writers. It’s a fit for all of the above.

To join you will need to make a request and answer a few questions pertaining to where you’re at in your writing journey.

In the near future, I’ll be offering classes too!

Join with us on your writing journey.

The Effects of Addiction Trauma


IMG_3527I’m not a trained or licensed counselor.

That’s my disclaimer. But I have read dozens of books, spent hundreds of hours in counseling and led groups dealing with addictions. Most importantly, I’ve experienced addiction in some way for the majority of my life. Either being addicted or living with one.

Here’s the simple truth.

Whether we live in addiction or live with an addict (usually it’s both), the trauma of that lifestyle imprints our being with carved patterns of unhealthy thinking and behavior. It warps our perspective so that our reality is skewed.

We cannot tell what is true.

Lest we think that by addiction I mean alcohol or drugs only, let’s be clear about the addiction to which I refer. We can become chemically addicted to drugs or alcohol, yes. And while those substances garner most attention, we can also be addicted to sex, gambling, shopping, food, control, cleanliness, fears, social media, television, reading, new ideas, extreme sports…basically anything that has mastery over us.

Whatever triggers the pleasure center of our brain and causes a rush of adrenaline or dopamine can become an addiction. In themselves, those hormones and chemicals are beneficial and help us in life, but when we’re hurting, either physically or emotionally, we can seek the release to ease our pain.

Too much of a good thing, as they say.

The downside is trauma induced by the repetition of addictive behavior. Without the hours of training or a state generated license, here’s part 1 of what this layperson has learned about the effects of addiction trauma.

*We don’t know what loving someone really means – Life becomes a struggle to keep others happy while trying to make them love us. This is not what love is all about. We shouldn’t have to make anyone love us. Covering for their indiscretions or making excuses for them (or them for us), taking the responsibility for their actions, carrying the weight of the relationship is not loving, it is enabling. Not meeting their all their needs, demands (or desires), does not make us unloving or cold. Love never demands, it gives. God loves us unconditionally. He loved us first. Healthy people can give and receive love without conditions.

*Lack of trust – Relying on people feels like a dangerous proposition usually because our experience with unhealthy people says they think about what pleases them at the moment, not what is wisest for them or others. Their choices that show lack of consideration for others are hurtful and sometimes cruel. Whether we are the addict or we live with one, constant betrayal leads to suspicion. It becomes difficult to trust, not only those we live with, but anyone.

*Desire for vs. fear of intimacy – Being intimate requires vulnerability. We long to be known and close to others, but we fear them knowing us. Since it’s impossible to be intimate with someone we don’t trust or be vulnerable when we fear disclosure, we can run in and out of relationships. In a healthy relationship, we accept and are accepted without conditions, but addicts hide to alleviate feelings of shame. We leave people guessing about who we really are. Or, we wonder why we can’t seem to get close to the other person. We may try to detach ourselves emotionally from others to feel safe, but that isn’t healthy. Or we may need to detach from someone who is cruel or abusive. Unfortunately, they may then accuse us of being cold or distant. Either way, intimacy eludes or strangles us.

*Seeking fulfillment in other areas – When one area of addiction isn’t enough anymore to keep us numb, our children may become our emotional stability or our work, hobbies, friends, food, shopping; we may even turn to alcohol, drugs, or adulterous relationships to feel better about ourselves and our lives. Unfortunately, the feeling of fulfillment is temporary and we end up setting or continuing patterns that will eventually destroy us and others we love.

When addiction of any type becomes consistent, it grooves patterns in our soul and in our brain. But addiction is only a symptom of a deeper issue. Once we take time to heal the hurts of our life, and make a conscious effort to create new patterns, we find we no longer need the thing we were addicted to. However, depending on each individual situation, some addictions can take days, months or years to overcome.

There is no quick fix for an unhealthy lifestyle and it’s damage.

But there is hope. The Bible said that it’s for our freedom that Jesus Christ came. God loves us and longs for our lives to be abundant and prospering (I’m not talking just about money here). He hurts when we hurt and wants to heal our pain. When we let him REVEAL what’s underneath the issues, and we choose to DEAL with the problems, he can HEAL us so we won’t need something else.

It’s a journey. Join me?

 

5 “Steps” to Peace


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I don’t believe in formulaic approaches to a life with God.

God’s too vast and creative to limit him to five easy steps. But he’s also pretty obvious about simple actions that set us up for success in life. Sometimes in my Bible reading, I discover he’s given us  some clear-cut ideas that will bring us good.

God’s all about good for us.

Recently, while reading in the book of Matthew, these simple truths jumped out at me. God didn’t write them as a list, but I found a list as I read. A simple, uncomplicated, set of actions that ultimately lead to peace. Here goes…

  1. BE who you are – God tells us we are chosen, beloved, children. He cares more about being in relationship with us than what we do for him. He made us each with unique personalities and traits. Learn to “just be.” If we don’t know who we are, we can ask him. He’ll tell us.
  2. GO where God leads – God will tell us what steps to take, where to take them and when to go if we ask. Once we learn to rest in being, God will lead us into action that fulfills desires he puts in our hearts, blessing us and those around us.
  3. WAIT – sometimes we have to wait for God to tell/show us what our next steps are. Sometimes he gives us a step and then we wait for the one after that. While we wait, we can remember to BE.
  4. REST in God’s presence – God’s got us covered so whether we’re being or going/doing, the results are always on him. If we follow his lead, we can trust him to take us in the best direction. Sometimes circumstances may not look like what we expect or even want, but if we rest in him, trusting he knows the bigger picture, we will end up in a good place.
  5. GIVE back – when we learn or experience something, we can give what we have to someone else to help or encourage them. If we keep what we learn, we stagnate. Think river flowing rather than Dead Sea.
  6. THANK – give glory and honor to the God who loves, leads and covers us. When tough stuff happens, we cry out to God, but when good stuff happens we can tend to forget the God who cares for us. And, thanking God even in the midst of difficulties reminds us of how big God is and helps us trust him no matter what our situation looks like.

While God doesn’t give us a formula for following him, he does offer some simple (not always easy, but simple) steps to gain more freedom in our lives. As I focus on these, I find my internal life becoming less complicated even if external circumstances aren’t.

But isn’t that what peace is all about?