Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yes To God - Chapter 2 Ms. Perfection

Lisa's quotes are in purple.

It's week 2 into the study and God's really been working on my heart through this. I have pages of journal notes (don't worry breathe I'm not going to put them all down). Our Bible verse these chapter is "Even perfection has it's limits, but your commands have no limit." Psalm 119:96.

In her book Lisa shares with us the exhausting role we have when we try to present ourselves as perfect and why she writes, "But while its not possible to achieve on this earth, perfection is perhaps, the most common characteristic that women impersonate. We get caught up in the trap of trying to appear perfect to others Society sells us pictures and symbols of perfection in the news media, print ads, and gossip magazines. They have pitched us an image...and we've fallen for it. We are buying into the notion of perfect wife, perfect mother, and perfect package, at the expense of ourselves and our loved ones." pg 27

I love Lisa's story of the Great Sunday Morning Fake Out. I hate it too, why because I saw myself in it. Why do I keep hearing Gollum from "The Lord of the Rings" in my head "FALSE - TRIXIE", probably because it's true - we want people to see our lives a certain way not one that necessarily shows the truth. We put on or image like we put on our clothes, and trick people into believing it. We have an outfit for different circumstances, one for church, one for work, one for school, one for even friends and family. Depending on where you go depends on what outfit you where.

Lisa asked us is this wide spread? Truthfully I never gave it much though. Based on the fact that our family had the Sunday Morning Fake out down to an art form for 4 years, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this.

It goes along with what I shared in Chapter 1- Up until the time Brett hit recovery we were co conspirators in our Sunday morning disguise. All though we were playing the roles so well we didn't realize each other were fakes.

We would get up, Brett and Brinn would eat breakfast I'd have coffee (a big cup) and get ready. Then I'd get Brinn dressed- while Brett got ready. We'd drive to church with our Christian music on and talk about nothing. If it was one of those rough mornings we just listen to the music louder. Once at church Brinn would get hot chocolate, and we'd wave to a few people go in and sit down. Brinn by this time had usually spilt hot chocolate on herself especially if we were going somewhere after church or she was wearing white.

The worship would start and we'd stand and sing, Brinn would sit then we'd force her to stand (she's not a morning girl) because good Christian families had children who stand during worship. (Perfect Mom syndrome slips in) We'd listen to the message, and after church we'd go and say hi to our pastor. Now here is the funny part our Pastor would say here's the perfect family. (we were good) After service it was outside for pastries or bagels and small talk. Now I was usually starving by this time, because I hadn't eaten breakfast, but I didn't want to eat to much, but make sure that everyone knew that we didn't eat this stuff normally. (Perfect Package) Then we'd head down to pick up Brinn from the Kids program and leave. Church was done it was time to go home and change our outfits.

All this time I was covering the truth from myself and from others, and Brett was covering his own truth from everyone. We had everyone fooled but God.

No one knew that Brett had only professed faith because that's what I needed to hear but I knew he was in church physically and that was it. We'd hold hands and nodded, just like the couple in Lisa's book. He'd participate, I couldn't let people know that my husband didn't have a deep spiritual side (perfect wife syndrome). I didn't know that my husband was sometimes so loaded up on 10 to 12 vicodines during the service he couldn't really absorb what was going on. Or that when he was on call for work he'd pretend to get a call and leave church to "fix something" and then come back just in time to pick us up. Of course as the "perfect wife" I would always had the excuse that he had to go to work.

No one knew that we spent our lives living in the same house, but living different lives, struggling financially and feeling very inferior to all the people at church. Why would they we were the perfect family. We were masters of deception. I can say this, because when we finally did tell people about what was going on they said we would have never guessed.

We want people to think of us in positive ways, we are afraid of being judged or out casted if we don't appear to have it all together. One of the things I always heard in Recovery has stuck with me. Don't worry about what other people are thinking about you, because they don't think about you as much as you think they do.

It's important to recognize that perfection is not humanly possible, there has only ever been one perfect human and that was Jesus. "If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come." Hebrews 7:11 NIV If we could attain perfection we would not have needed Jesus to come and give his life for ours. Jesus died four sins and imperfections mine & yours.

There is so much more in my heart right now. How I strived to be the perfect package for years and years. That's been one of my biggest battles. I'm praying Lord please help me to see myself as you see me. I don't have any deep words of wisdom, I guess I do better just telling my story. God has changed Brett and I. I'm working on not falling into that same role on Sundays. If Brinn wants to sit let her sit. It's easier when your husband is really on the same path towards God. We don't have frivolous conversations we talk about the message after ward. We try and go up to people we don't know and say hi and introduce ourselves. I want people to see us as authentic, not this cute sweet couple that sits in the second row.

God placed us at our church, Brett and my stories are full of pain and destruction, before we meet and all that got dragged into our marriage. We are an against all odds couple. We shouldn't by societies standard even still be married. But we don't live according to Society's standards we live under God's standards, and that means we look to him and "through him all things are possible" Philippians 4:13. So it's my prayer that as we stop playing the charade that maybe someone will see us for who we really are and God will use that to His Glory.

I'm sure I'll have more over the next week, like I said I have pages of notes. Love to you all.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Still thinking about truth and authenticity.

It's almost a week later, and I'm still thinking about last weeks Yes to God Study. I went through every ones blog, and was so moved by all of them. It's fascinating really we are I believe 29 or so women from all over the country and 2 ladies in Australia. They all shared their hearts so openly, it was intense. We are all excited about how God is moving in all of our hearts, and sharing this journey together.

It's given me so much to think about. There are points some time where I think, wow did I really share that on my blog. Really I shared with Paula my new friend from down under, that I had something totally different to write. The post you all read though was what God put out of my heart and on to this blog. I said are you sure God, he said yes Carol it's time. The gig is up now, people from anywhere can read that, and through out the week I've had those feelings of fear and rejection. I know that is the evil one just trying to make me feel insecure. It was surprising to me how many of us long for that close friendship, how many of us are afraid that if we let people know what we've been through or the things we've done that we'll be an outcast.

I walked around church this past Sunday, and wondered how many women there are feeling the same way.
I love though how many women shared that they wanted to be closer to God, wanted to be what God wanted them to be, wanted to be used by the Lord for his purpose. I've prayed that too, I long for that too. What is it God has in his plan for me. Right now I think it's just getting me to not be afraid to share what he's saved me from.

So it starts. Tomorrow night is our Family night at church. A function I'll be honest, I did not enjoy the last couple of times we tried to go. I felt uncomfortable finding a place to sit and eat with people, didn't know what to talk about, and then the trying not to share to much in the classes. Brett and I though made a promise to Brinn to go this year. It would be good for all of us. So while Brinn is in her kids program, learning of all things about Truth, Authenticity, Hope and Community (isn't God funny) Brett and I are in a class called Revolutionary Parenting, and we'll get to share just how imperfect our parenting skills are, so pray for us. Oops that's chapter 2 Ms. Perfection in Behind The Eyes

Seriously though, this book has been really cool so far. If your looking for a parenting book to read so it's a good one.

I've done my study work for tomorrows post. I'm not sure yet which parts God will put on my heart to write. I'll be praying for that. Talk with you tomorrow.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Health update - Autoimmune Hepatits

Hi I thought I'd sneak in a quick post on my health. I had a blood test on Weds, and on Thursday Dr. F called me and was thrilled. Truth be told, I usually check my email on the morning after my test so I know what it is before he calls me, but I've been so in thought over my bible study say Yes to God and the book study we are doing on Behind Those Eyes, that I completely forgot to check. After all God is in control and me obsessively checking the labs won't change anything.

Anyway, my liver tests numbers have come way down. So quick education for those who don't know the liver test thing. Normal range on a liver tests know as your AST & ALT are between 40 & 60, when the liver gets sick it inflames which makes the numbers go up. So mine have over the years been really high over 3300 at the time I was first diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis. Anyway, they had spiked up in July to over 500, and have been jumping around between 120 to 250 since January. So yesterday they were at 74 & 77. That's really good, and my other critical number billirubins was 1.4 which went down from 2.7. normal is .2 to 1.2.

Doc F. has started to wean me back off the higher does of Prednisone down by 5 mg. and I'll have another test in one month. I'm feeling better now. And I know it's all because of God. I got off the phone with doc praising Jesus, and thanking God.

Doc did give me strict instructions to keep doing what I've been doing. So I am, resting when I'm tired, and sticking to my schedule. I'm also spending more time soaking in God's word and asking God to change me from the inside out. I truly believe it's been God's word, my quiet time with Him, and all the prayers of friends in person and cyberspace that has made this change. I thank God for each and everyone of you.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Truth Hurts

Yesterday was the day for our blog bible study with the say Yes to God study on Lisa Whittles book Behind Those Eyes. (see sidebar for more info). Chapter 1 is you guessed it The Truth Hurts. Lisa shares about being honest and authentic, in our lives. Authentic in our relationships with people and with God. So all day I thought about what was authentic, and what it looked like in my life. This morning as I prayed some more about it the Holy Spirit led me to the painful truth, authentic is not who I am most of the time.

Lisa's question in the book was what does authentic mean to me. For me it means showing your true self with all your vulnrabilities and sharing your trials, letting people see past your exterior "I'm fine, how are you" self and be willing to show people your imperfections. That doesn't mean you have to go around telling everyone you meet all your problems, but to build meaningful, trustfull, and lasting relationships you have to be authentic. I can honestly say I have few people I've been able to do with this. One is my husband. That is important to me, it's actually something we didn't always have.

The Great Charade is Part One with the first 5 Chapters. In the first chapter Lisa (her words in purple) talks about how we pretend to be people we are not. These are some quotes from her book "We cover our weaknesses and heartaches with immaculately groomed clothes and manufactured conversations. (this is one of my specialties) We impersonate the females we want to be --carefree, fun loving, deeply spiritual, genuinely caring, supportive, capable, strong, assertive, put together, and ridiculously happy--rather than the women we really are. (Done all that)

Infact, what is really going on inside our souls is so cavernous that we fear anyone who enters its depths would never again see the light of day. (If you really knew me you I'm afraid you wouldn't want to be my friend) So we put up the barricades, allowing very few to penetrate the walls we've erected around us as a means of self-protection.

Why do we do it? We lack honesty and authenticity, and our past experiences lead us to believe it is in our best interests to keep our true feelings hidden.
(This is me if you don't get close to me I can control the amount of hurt you can do)

This rang volumes to me. I've read this part over and over and said that's me, and it hurt. I spent the morning crying and asking God to clean out my heart and teach me to be authentic to let people know me. Let me know them. I kept hearing the Challenge voice over and over "What your after is the truth from inside out." Psalm 51:6 Msg.

Truthfully this is something God's been bringing to light in my heart for the last 2 years. If you had asked me 2 years ago if I had a lot of friends who I could talk to I would have said sure. But then one day in one of the most painful trials the truth started to come out. Brett had gone into a day treatment program for his drug addiction and was to be there 7 days a week for 3 1/2 weeks. I had called my sister and talked with her, but this was something she'd never delt with, but she gave us support and love and offered to have Brinn for the weekend so we could talk through things when Brett was home.

The hidden drug addiction had been revealed in a very public way, that set a ripple through our work place. I knew people would be watching, and I was feeling very stupid and humiliatied. Then Satuday we went to the family day, where you learn about what the family can do, and all that good codependency stuff. We had an excersize that day that was about communication, it was actually a turning point for us, we were both authentic that day in a room full of other strangers, but they understood, and were all there for very similar reasons. God revealed to me the night before that I needed to confront Brett about pornography and lust. I didn't want to, but during the class I told him I needed him to be honest about everything he'd been doing. Later after the class he told me he'd been going on websites for as long as we'd been married, and was into other porn before we meet. It was one of the most painful and honest conversations we'd ever had. It opened up painful doors in my past, and I realized God was going to do some pruning.

Sunday came, I leave for church the same church I've been going to for 6 years, and it hits me. Who am I going to sit with? Would they ask me where Brett was, only 3 people knew what had happened over the week and none of them would be there. I didn't have Brinn so I didn't have the ability to distract myself with her. So I went down to the kids area to see if a friend that I use to spend time with was there. She was I started talking and it just started comming out, she was loving, and she did sit with me, but she had a very busy family life and that was about the extent of what she was able to give. The next couple weeks as Brett spent 8 hours a day in treatment, I tried to live life as normal as possible. Then the realization came to Brett that I was slowly slipping inside myself. I'll never forget him saying why don't you call someone, I looked him straight in the eye and said I don't have any friends, and broke down and cried.

God did provide for me a safe place, and some extrodinary women who helped me to open up at least that section of my life. But it wasn't until about the end of last year that God slowly speaking the truth to me, I didn't have the friendships I desired because I hadn't let anyone past my very strong barricade. Yes I'm a great pretender.

Lisa asked what is our greatest soul craving. I long for close female friendship, I've had it in the past, and I miss it deeply. It's something I think most women want, but are afraid to go get. It's so much harder to grow and nurture friendships when your married, working, busy mom, and add all other kind of things we do to fill our time. God created women to be caring and nuturing not just to our husbands and children but to each other. So now I'm praying for God to give me courage to reach out and be a friend, to break down my walls, and grow the friendships in my life.

Yes the truth hurt, it hurt to know that I had no deep friendships, because I hadn't offered any. It hurt to find out about my husbands addictions, yet through that God healed, changed, and grew my marriage. Is it perfect nooooo, but it's better and deeper.

So as we go along in this study, I'm praying that God will remove my masks, and show me how to love me for me, and let people see more of the real me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Comming Soon

Starting on Tuesday September 23, I'll be starting on my first Blog Bible Study. I'll be posting my portion of the study on my blog on Tuesday's. I'd love for you to join in. You can check out Lisa's blog to learn more about the book and the author. She'll also be joining the study as well. I'm super excited about that as well. I'm a big fan of reading Lisa's blog, God has used her many times to speak into my heart.

To sign up go to Lelia's blog she leads the blog bible study group called Yes to God (there's also a link in my sidebar) and join in. It should be a great journey. I'm looking forward to this next step that God has lead me into the blogsphere. Looking forward to meeting new friends from cyberspace, and getting to know them.

Here is the descripition from Amazon: A look at the various roles women play as they cover for the inadequacies they feel, why they do so, and who they really are in and through Jesus Christ.
Bible study teacher and speaker Lisa Whittle looks into the various roles women play to mask their feelings of insecurity, fear, and dissatisfaction with life. With sections titled "The Great Charade," "The Massive Cover-up," and "The Real Deal," Lisa uses truth from God's Word on the value of being authentic to discuss the various facades:
Ms. Perfection
Ms. Confidence
Ms. Happiness
Ms. Spirituality
Behind Those Eyes encourages women to face the reality of who they are and who God created them to be. The result helps to mend broken souls, repair relationships, and strengthen connections with family and friends.

I hope you'll consider joining me.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Health Update/and Thank yous

Well it's been awhile since I wrote about my health. Not much new, except my liver tests improved with my last blood test so the extra prednisone worked. My doc is keeping my dosage high until I get to a lower number, then he'll start weening me off the prednisone again back down to my lower dosage. I'm looking forward to that because I really hate the tremors I get at this dosage, and the false feeling of energy.

This past weekend I was feeling like I had all this energy, and I moved my scrapbook room around, boy what a mistake, I crashed so hard that by Tuesday I could barely get out of bed. I'm still tired. I should have known better because just getting ready in the morning makes me tired.

So I'll go for another blood test in about 2 weeks, and we'll see where I'm at. In the mean time I need to remember my limits.

Oh and a big THANK YOU to our friend Patty, who gave Brett and I new furniture, it's so comfy. Well it's not brand new but it might as well be it feels like it's never been broken in. So we've got this big old blue couch if anyone wants it for like a garage band room or something.

Also another THANK YOU to my friend Inge, she's such a love. She's going to help me with a work out routine that I can handle, so when I wave only my hand moves not my arms. She's a personal trainer, and a triathalete. If you ever want a personal trainer let me know and I'll refer you to Inge.

THANK YOU to all my friends, and Internet buddies who've been praying for me and our family. We feel very lifted up.

That's about it for now. It's time for me to start heading to get ready for work. My boss let me change my hours at work, so I go in Tues to Friday at 11am, gives me some quiet down time in the morning, and has helped me out greatly. THANKS Roger.

Well talk with you later,

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of Fourth Grade

I know I know, I'm a mean mommy. I always take pictures of Brinn in the morning when she first wakes up on the first day of school, and on her birthday. Truthfully this is pretty much how she is every morning when we get her out of bed. She comes to the table, wrapped in a blanket and falls back to sleep. Brett makes her breakfast, and she slllooowwwlllyyy wakes up. She is NOT a morning person. And now here she is all ready for school. She's got her newly decorated book bag, and her non-character not pink lunch box, and a brand new haircut. Of course about 10 minutes before we left for school she decided to wear shorts, and had to change. Such a girl.
All in all she had a great first day. She has her first male teacher, but he's great we've known him since she hit kindergarten, and strong man of faith and who longs to share Jesus with the kids. They hit the ground running with homework on the first day. Friday is back to school night so we'll get all the gory details for the up coming school year.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Witnessing Transformation & Redemption

"Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven. Whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived incomplete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body was wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself 'I will confess my rebellion to the Lord' and you forgave me! All my guilt is gone." Psalm 32:16This picture of us was taken of us in February of 2006, at a Third Day Concert. Why such an old picture, well this one has a lot of meaning to me. See this picture reminds me that you can bring people to church, christian concerts, bible studies, and every other kind of event, but only God can transform them and call them to Him. That was me. In this picture I was completely unaware that my husband Brett, was addicted to vicodin, smoking cigarettes, binging and purging food and adult Internet sites. He went to church with me, and would go on church activities, but he couldn't see what I saw the unending love, grace, and forgiveness of my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, no matter how much I wanted him too.

So fast forward to August 21, 2006 I'm home sick and I get a call from a friend and she tells me she's convinced that Brett had stolen her pain medication. She told me exactly why, and part of me screamed no this can't be, but deep in my heart I knew she was right. See it wasn't that he didn't have a history with drugs, I knew that, but I also knew over the last few months that things were definitely wrong. Our family was living in the same house, but Brett was always isolated from us. He was moody, and quick to anger, always up late at night, but I couldn't figure it out. Money was disappearing but not lots at one time. What could it be. Brett was always seem to be in some kind of pain, and a few days before that he'd gotten a prescription of 100 vicodin from the doctor, when my friend called I checked the bottle in the cabinet and there were only about 10 left. I fell to my knees and said God save my husband, save my family, only you can turn this around. God answered my prayers.

That night with Pastor Chris from our church we sat at the table and I listened to Brett tell us that there was no hope for him, that he was worthless, my heart broke. You see I know that even through all this that Brett loved Brinn and I, but he hated himself, and the deeper he got the more shame and hate he felt for himself. Brett's addictions came out in a way that there was no avoiding our employers and fellow employees not to know. It was like God said I'm going to show it all so you can't hide anymore. Ever merciful though God has given us a boss that gave Brett great support and encouraged him to get help and his job would be waiting for him. Brett entered treatment for his chemical addiction, a program that in total lasted 15 months.

Our friends, and family supported us too, and Brinn spent the first 3 weekends with friends and family as we needed time to get through some pretty emotional stuff. For me the drugs, and food was not as hard to get through as the Internet stuff. That truth came out the first Saturday, and it was like a hot sword pierced my heart and sole. My battle with that I will share another time, but with much prayer and a some good friends (I love you Wendy & Kendle) our marriage has been strengthened and my relationship with Jesus is even deeper as he showed me pain buried deep inside of me that I had never really looked at before.

So by the 12 step recovery world Brett sobriety birthday would be August 22nd. But today, is the day we Celebrate because today September 2 is Brett's 2 year re-birthday. It was two years ago today that while at a recovery church event called The Bridge at Abundant Life Church where God used a pastor name Darryl Pearson, to show Brett that he loves him with all the his filth and shame, it was that night where I actually watched the light of Jesus and the Holy Spirit fill Brett up. It had been such a draining 2 weeks, withdrawal pain, emotional pain, embarrassment, you name it we went through it. Right there that night Brett was saved and the transformation began. It's been one of the most amazing things that God has ever blessed me to watch. We came out of there that night singing and praising God truly together for the first time.

I use to pray that Brett might find some interest in the Bible, Darryl talked about the Life Recovery Bible that night, and the next day after I picked up Brett from his program he said I want that Bible. I called the book store they had it, and I drove and picked it up for him. He started reading, and he's never stopped. Then it was sermons, instead of surfing the net for the nasties (as we refer to it) he started searching for pastors that he'd heard on the radio, he started a purity group and studied Every Mans Battle. He loved to talk about the scriptures, and wanted to share so much. His heart was not only on his forgiveness, but he wanted to learn how to be a husband and God had designed it, and what it meant to be the spiritual leader of the family. Memorizing scriptures for when he'd feel temptations, and praying openly in church. He now sits with a concordance studies a book of the bible, and has two teaching sermons that he listens too. He works most of the day either with his Ipod playing a sermon or the bible on cd. With a few soundtrack scores mixed in. He's always in the word.

So tonight we reflected on the last 2 years, and Brett led the two of us in Communion. It was amazing, and another first in our marriage. We both feel so extremely blessed by the work the Lord has done in our family. Brett's adoption of Brinn this year was a special blessing from the Lord sealing us into one family. Just as he seals us into his kingdom when we accept his mercy, love and salvation that He gave us when He died on the cross.

We have so much to learn, and thankfully God is soooooo patient. Because believe me we still are dealing with these fleshly sinful bodies, but we are transformed in to the likeness of Jesus, and everyday we want to be more like him and less like we use to be.

So this is Brett now, well this past Saturday, he's becoming the husband and father God told me he'd be. I just had to get out of the way, and wait on God's timing. "Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing loves surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hears are pure." Psalm 32:10-11

If you read this and your hurting from addictions and betrayal from someone you love I will share my story with you. God brings us through trials so that He can strengthen us, and help strengthen others. My husband shares his story openly, he believes that it's important no to hide behind his faith, but to share what his God can do when you turn your life over to him. Be blessed and know that there is hope his name is JESUS!