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Confessions of a Doing-Addict

ludwig-wittgenstein-quotes-18650Those who know me well will agree I have an exceptionally kind heart and caring nature; that is the good part. Unfortunately, it is my inability to recognize the obvious warning signs of a ‘doing addict’ that causes problems.

Sometimes it takes an epiphany, a thunderbolt moment so to speak, before we hit the pause button in life, inhale deeply and ask, “What does enough look like?” I was about to find out when a thunderbolt moment jolted me to my senses. Perhaps God realized I would never push the pause button; and so, He did it for me.  It was a spiritual awakening long overdue.

An over-giving, doing-addict situation was about to bring clarity about how I valued myself.  Once the haze of deception cleared, my partnership with self-sabotage was revealed. It was MY thunderbolt moment. What internal anomaly caused me to give greater value to the life of others over my own?

I liken myself to an ATM with a dysfunctional operating system that disperses withdrawals carte blanche to anyone who expresses a need. Trust me, random free-loaders aren’t the only ones who are quick to cash in on the fringe benefits of a giving heart; so are many Christians.

Overtime, logic rules and the inevitable happens—the doing-addict goes bankrupt.  Without withdrawal limits in place, energy, happiness, time and money are depleted. I knew it was time for God to restore my operating system. My good-intentions, over-giving energies needed a purposeful balance. My ‘doing addict’ days were numbered.

And so, to gain insight into those situations that trigger my self-destructive choices, I have elected to participate in a behavioral management program that, I believe, will rehabilitate and bring a positive change to my eternal thumbprint.

I wholeheartedly embrace this opportunity as a way to cultivate spiritual growth, redefine my goals and give God free reign to my thunderbolt moment.

With the imminent second coming of Christ, my soul senses the Holy Spirit stands ready to infuse each of us with thunderbolt moments that electrify our souls to God’s eternal purpose for mankind.  Life circumstances may differ for each of us, but when God points a thunderbolt moment in our direction, it is best to embrace it with open arms. It will change us in ways we never imagined.

Motivated by good-intentions, doing-addicts inevitably assume the role of an enabler and react to situations based on their impulses. This presents a problem because to exercise our will over God’s divine direction puts us at risk of spiritual, emotional and/or financial bankruptcy.

 

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TAKING INVENTORY OF ‘STUFF’

movingI will be moving a portion of my business to Washington State next month. In preparation, workers have been sorting, counting and boxing inventory for the transition. I liken it to a major spring cleaning project as we sort through ‘stuff’ my business has accumulated through the years.

We must sync the task to the arrival of the moving truck. As luck would have it, it happens to be one of the hottest and most humid weeks of the year. Even though the workers complain of the heat, they willingly wipe the sweat from their faces so we can get the job done.

There is another moving day in the not so far future; the destination is Heaven. In preparation I am sorting through all the ‘stuff’ my soul has accumulated over the years. I am amazed at what a deep clean of the soul uncovers. Hidden in the cobwebs of my past was bitterness and a unforgiving spirit about failed relationships.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to search our soul, an accurate inventory is revealed. Hidden things are brought to light; broken parts discarded or repaired; all the unnecessary ‘stuff’ we hoarded gets buried beneath the cross.

Does your soul need a deep cleaning by the Holy Spirit?

There is a limit to how much ‘stuff’ I can take in the moving truck headed to Washington State. There is also a limit to how much ‘stuff’ I can take with me to Heaven. Bitterness, anger, hatred, unforgiveness and envy are things that keep my soul weighted to this earth; as does jealousy, deceit and selfishness.

“When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].”
Ephesians 4:26-27

If you want your soul to take flight to Heaven then pack it with love, peace, understanding, forgiveness and hope. Allow the Holy Spirit to shine a search light into all the nooks and crannies of your soul and rid you of the ‘stuff’ that keeps you weighted down.

You can harbor and hoard things in your soul and be grounded at touch-off; or, lighten your load to ensure an upward departure.

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HOW TO OUTSMART A SQUIRREL

peskysquirrelI jumped from my chair as I heard something crash to the ground outside my office window. My eyes followed a long strand of twine being dragged across the deck by a small squirrel. He had gnawed through the twine that held my wine bottle vases in place along the upper deck rails. The crashing sound was the bottle as it hit the concrete below.

I shouted out, “Get out of here and don’t you even think about coming back!” The critter scurried off and I resumed my office work. It wasn’t long before I heard another bottle drop from the deck and then another.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered under my breath. This squirrel was on a mission of destruction and my decoupage wine vases were like soldiers under attack. I had spent countless hours decorating these bottles and this squirrel was showing total disrespect; and for what, a piece of gnarly twine?

The pesky little squirrel had declared war and I was not to be defeated. As he proudly perched next to his latest victory our eyes locked. “You are going down,” I said. With a ball of wadded twine in his mouth he made unidentifiable vocal noises and ran in a westward direction.

Squirrel was making a very comfortable, luxurious and rent free condo at my expense. A building permit or squatter rights had never been granted. This infringement had to be stopped and I had a hot game plan to make it happen.

I mixed my hot pepper concoction on the stove and put it into a spray bottle. “Taste this, you little squatter,” I said as I sprayed the twine with the fiery jalapeno mixture. Did it work? You bet. Squirrel discovered a whole new meaning to the term squatter rights.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with a devotional blog; let me share.

Every day our enemy, Satan, is on a mission to seek and destroy our life. He continually gnaws on the very thing that secures us to God; our faith and he makes every effort to claim squatter rights to our soul. He is determined to break the ties that bind us to God’s grace and finds great pleasure when we fall.

When the enemy starts to gnaws at your life, take action and apply God’s fiery concoction of His Holy Spirit peppered with the Word of God. Satan is defeated when you apply God’s Word to your heart and mind.

As for the pesky little squirrel, I haven’t seen him since he tasted my fiery concoction. I guess he decided to not come back for seconds.

“In your loving kindness scatter my enemies, and destroy all those that afflict my soul; for I am your servant.” Psalms 143:12

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WHEN THE ANCHOR DOESN’T HOLD

AnchorOfHopeMy husband and I decided to take our pontoon boat out for a spin around the lake. We stopped by the lake house and picked up our grand kids who wanted take a ride to the swim hole; a place where all the boaters gather and drop anchor to swim.

Captain Poppy, my husband, maneuvered the boat around other boaters to find the perfect spot to drop anchor. “Right here, Poppy, right here!” shouted the grand kids. Poppy shut off the motor and cast the anchor into the deep waters where you can dive off double-deck boats and jump from ladders without fear of hitting bottom.

Everyone jumped into the water with float toys and noodles for a refreshing reprieve from the sweltering heat that beat down on the boat deck. The grand kids enjoyed splashing each other as they did cannonballs from the back of the pontoon and engaged in water gun fights. But the fun came to an end when someone from a neighboring boat shouted, “Your anchor isn’t holding, your boat is drifting!”

Sure enough, as we turned toward our pontoon, it was slowly drifting in the direction of other anchored boats. We had been too busy having fun to notice we were in trouble. Poppy, a competitive swimmer, wasted no time; he reached the boat in record time and quickly reseated the anchor.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when my life loses its anchor and I am pulled by the current and waves of the deep water. As I begin to drift, a voice calls out, “You have let go of your anchor; you are not where you are supposed to be!” That’s when Captain Jesus throws out a life raft and pulls me back to safety.

If you keep Jesus securely anchored to your heart, you will not drift into places you should not be. His anchor secures us in deep waters, high tides, low tides and every storm we face in life.

Do you need a secure anchor right now? Jesus stands ready to throw you a life raft if you call out His name and anchor your soul in His Word.

“In their distress they cried out to the LORD. He saved them from their troubles.” Psalms 107:19

 

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Joe, The Soldier You Never Met

I share one of my writings with you in honor of this 2014 Memorial Day. Let us never forget the price paid for our freedom and how our government is willfully underwriting those freedoms. Let your voice be heard, America. If you agree, please share my story this weekend with everyone you know.

Dirty man trying to get up

Paralyzed by fear, Joe threw the grenade out of harm’s way and temporarily disarmed the enemy’s thirst for the blood of an American soldier. It wasn’t the first time he had faced death and certainly not his last.

After high school, Joe was hired as an automotive line worker, but America was at war and his age made him a candidate for the imposed lottery draft. Joe’s number came up and life as Joe knew it was about to change in more ways than he could ever imagine.

Basic training at the military base did little to prepare Joe for combat warfare. He was taught how to kill and defend himself, but was never prepared for the psychological effects that followed. All the therapy in the world can’t erase the unspeakable acts committed during combat warfare. Flashbacks of severed heads, mutilated bodies and scattered body parts never go away; the images have a mind of their own and surface at will.

The gruesome scenes witnessed were not things discussed over dinner or shared with family. His wife and children would never know the secrets that war had forever embedded in his heart, mind and soul. The horrors witnessed on the battlefield were personal demons that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Joe hadn’t seen home in over a year, but this tour would be his last; he was scheduled for discharge in four months. At night, Joe assumed a fetal position beneath an army tank and listened to the distant gunfire. In those brief moments of reprieve, he would visualize his homecoming scenario until a nearby explosion jolted him back to the reality of his savage surroundings.

That day’s assigned ground force reconnaissance operation was no different than others. Orders were to survey the terrain and search a deserted village for a possible enemy base camp. The tanker came to a stop at the outskirts of the village. The deafening heartbeat of fear pounded in the eardrums of every soldier as they silently dispersed in every direction to scout the village on foot.

It wasn’t long before relentless rounds of ammo filled the air. Joe instinctively dropped to the ground and crawled to the nearest protected area he could find. Salty sweat beads and dirt rolled off his brow and clouded his vision but not before he saw the grenade next to him. With only seconds to react, Joe gripped the explosive device in his hand and threw it the only way he knew how; fast and furious.

An overwhelming sense of relief flooded Joe’s body as he stood to pick up his weapon; it had been a close call. There were a few brief seconds when he wondered if a homecoming party was in his future. The ongoing war had deprived him of quality time with family and friends; he was anxious to make up for that lost time.

Joe never saw it coming. The impact grenade launched by the enemy exploded without warning; there was no time to react, run or say a prayer. There would be no reception, welcome banner, flag covered casket or military dog tags. The enemy had won in their thirst for American blood. It wasn’t the homecoming Joe had imagined.

The epitaph on his headstone reads,

“I fought to my death without question. In hindsight, I wonder why.”

© 2014 This article is not to be reprinted in any publication 
without the express consent of the author (Denise Marks)
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AMBER ALERT FOR YOUR SOUL

amberalertMy hand shook and my head spun in every direction as I picked up the phone receiver and dialed my neighbor friend.

“I can’t find her; she’s gone. I’ve looked everywhere. Call everyone now!”

“Calm down so I can understand what’s happened. Who is gone, your dog?”

“God no,” I shouted with irritation. It’s Jamie. She was taking a nap and when I checked on her, she wasn’t there.”

“I’m on it! I’ll contact the neighborhood troops.”

In the early 1980s I belonged to a neighborhood watch block club. I was a young mom living alone in the city with a preschool aged child. The network of neighbors and foot patrol police officer that walked the area provided a sense of security.

That summer afternoon was like so many others. Water splashed in backyard wading pools, dogs barked while kids pedaled bikes down the sidewalks and the giant maple trees that lined the city streets brought an occasional cool breeze though open windows.  But the neighbors congregated on my front lawn reminded me this wasn’t just an ordinary summer day; they were there to organize a neighborhood search for my missing four-year-old daughter, Jamie

The foot patrol officer’s walkie-talkie crackled in the background as he walked the rooms of my house. His search was unproductive and I feared the worst; someone had entered through the front door and taken my little girl while I was mowing in the back yard.

The search begins.

The block club divided into groups to canvas the area with the hope that Jamie had wandered out the front door and would be found playing in a neighbor’s yard. As I waited on the front porch for updates, the repeated shouts of her name were heard in every direction.

An hour went by and reports from the search teams were all negative. My four-year-old daughter was nowhere to be found and I was inconsolable. Jamie was lost. I sat on the step of the front porch, clasped my arms around my knees and sobbed uncontrollably.

The search ends.

It was the soft whimper of a child’s voice that caused me to turn my head. Pressed against the screen door was the face of a blonde haired, blue eyed four-year-old. With silky blanket in hand and a thumb in her mouth, she quietly spoke, “Hi Mommy.” Within seconds my mourning turned to joy as I ran to cradle her in my arms.

Where were you?”  I asked, as I smothered her with kisses. “I couldn’t find you.”

“I was ‘snuck’ mommy.”

“Where were you stuck, show mommy?”

We walked to her bedroom where she pointed to a space between the wall and bed.

“I was ‘snuck’ in there.”

Jamie had rolled off the bed during her nap and had become wedged between the wall and base of the bed. Because of the built-in drawers beneath the bed, we were unable to see she had fallen between the cracks. The search parties were rounded up and alerted of the good news.

It remains a mystery why Jamie never heard an entire neighborhood repeatedly shout her name. It wasn’t until she opened her eyes and found herself alone, frightened and ‘snuck’ that she sought to find comfort in the arms of someone who loved her.

The search that is ongoing.

Maybe that’s how Jesus feels when He continually calls out our name and we don’t answer. When we don’t respond, He summons the neighborhood of Heaven to search, find and rescue His missing child. Jesus never gives up and when we finally awake and open our eyes to the light, He is there to take our hand and keep us from falling into places we shouldn’t be.

“Faithful is the One calling you, who also will perform it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 LITV)

God is eternally committed to fulfill all the good things He has in mind for us if we will only hear His call. He will never recall the search party for your soul.

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THE MIND OF A CREATIVE PERSON (Part two)

stairs

You will want to read Part One of this post first.

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As I came around the turn, I was surprised to see a huge two story mansion in the middle of the dirt road. It loomed ominously toward the blue sky and, since it blocked the road, there was no choice but to enter the front door. As I walked the empty rooms of the first floor, I noted my swimsuit attire had changed to shorts and a t-shirt.

The chatter from the second level drew me toward the stairs. At the top of the staircase was a restaurant that bustled with activity. Wow! How could I have not known this restaurant was so close to where I live?  I asked the hostess for a menu; she pointed to a container near the cash register.

“Our menus are in those drawstring bags,” she said. Inside the bag were golf tees, a score card, pencil and a folded menu which made me wonder if the restaurant wasn’t near one of the golf courses near my house.  

In the corridor outside the restaurant people scurried in every direction; but, I was drawn toward the double-paned glass door at the end of the hallway. A middle-aged Armenian woman, named Yevi, greeted me at the door. She guided me to a room filled with books and old photo albums. I knelt next to a bookcase while Yevi shared a number of her best loved books; one was an Armenian Bible.

As she returned her favorite books to the shelf, I spoke about the final square mile of my journey; Yevi listened intently. I explained that my last turn onto Argentine road had led me into a vortex where I lost all sense of direction. Yevi took my hand and led me to a small enclosed patio area. It overlooked a small riverbed and on the other side was a quaint summer cottage and a road that appeared to led to a town square.

“You are correct about the vortex,” she said. “You have arrived at a crossroad; the direction you are headed isn’t what it appears to be. Your original destination is being mirrored by an unknown force. You must follow my instructions if you want to find your way home.”

She positioned my feet on a designated place on the hardwood floor and stepped away. “Close your eyes and let the energy erupt within you. When that happens, your inner spirit will be overwhelmed with a whirlwind of emotions; and you will find yourself on the other side of the river bed.”

I shut my eyes and focused on the words spoken by Yevi. At first, nothing happened and to be honest, I wasn’t sure anything would. And then, I encountered an unknown force that entered through the soles of my feet and exited the top of my head. The physical sensation was powerful and more real than I care to admit.

Just before I woke from my dream, I found myself on the other side of the river bed in familiar surroundings and pointed in the direction of home.

Is there a moral to my dream story?

I’m not sure. Life is filled with stories and ideas that only need an infusion of creativity to bring them to life. There is a lesson or truth to be learned in all things.  You may find a different meaning, or no meaning at all and that’s OK. But I think we can all relate to the craziness of life, dreams and the many ways we try to make sense of them.

This is what I learned from my dream story.

Many of us have taken the long way home because we encounter a spiritual vortex. I’ve experienced many.  When that happens, it’s time for us to position our feet on solid ground, shut our eyes and listen to the voice of God.  As we place our faith and trust in Jesus, we are transported out of the spiritual vortex.  Our square mile runs in life will always be filled with craziness and obstacles we don’t understand; but, Jesus runs before us and is aware of every spiritual vortex that seeks to detour us from the finish line.

Are you faced with a spiritual vortex? Turn to Jesus; the author and finisher of our faith.

Hebrews 12:2