Breaking the Habit Cycle

Time for some real talk…

Back in September, I was diagnosed gluten sensitive. After nearly 2 years of not knowing what was wrong – I have an answer. (One I don’t like, but an answer).

So, for more than 6 months, I’ve known the biggest cause of my stomach woes. Yet, I keep in this cycle of gluten free, and then allowing some back in my diet (and then suffering because of it, so back to gluten free).

With this cycle comes all the horrific side effects: headaches, irritability, increased anxiety, major digestive issues, and more.

Each time I say I won’t do it again, then, a week or two later, there I go on a gluten binge again.

Monday night, as I found myself desperately in the presence of my Abba, in a world of pain after a stressful and heartbreaking day, which followed one of these binges (due to lack of time/access to better choices), realizing how often we are like this in our spiritual lives.

I was so desperate for His word & comfort because of the magnitude of my negative feelings – a terrible day at the office. But what of the rest of my recent times?

Well, netflix, work, & other “obligations” have kept my attention.

And, it’s this way with our sins, too, big or small. We think “never again”, and then the enemy comes in and tempts us once again. And, we cave. We give in & feel the convictions followed by “never again” promises that fall flat.

Though, it isn’t always just sin. Notice I put netflix first on the list? It’s where all my time seems to have been going when time isn’t accounted for by something else. Then again, that makes it an idol, huh? Now, we’re right back at the sin…

So, how do we get out of the cycle?
Well, obviously, I’m not good at that part yet. But, I can tell you:

  • First, we decide – really decide never again. We make a real, conscious choice to actually change the behavior.
  • We repent. This means a complete 180. A turn from what we once did, and to a new way of behaving.
  • pray. On our own, the cycle never ends. He is our strength. He is the only way the cycle ends.
  • We surround ourselves with Godly accountability. Again, we cannot do this alone. Godly accountability relieves some of the pressure, and gives us people to rely on.
  • We extend and accept grace for ourselves. Not as something to take for granted or take advantage of, but to genuinely extend ourselves grace and accept His grace. We will mess up. It will happen (especially early on). So, we pick up & we move forward.

Hopefully, I can do this – both in my physical need (gluten-free) & in my spiritual needs (God always priority).

And, if you find yourself stuck in that cycle, I pray you can also break it and really put God as your priority.

Let me know below if there are any ways I can pray with/for you in this area. 

A Lenten Challenge

image

Ok, I know, Lent is longer than 30 days…but as part of this Lent season, I am doing my very best to give up Soda…for me that means straight up, full sugar, Coca-Cola classic (or, a Dr. Pepper, if Coke isn’t available).

To be honest, for me, a lot of it is the caffeine in it – I don’t do coffee or tea. So, it’s my old reliable.
But, it’s also the comfort. It’s what I turn to when I should be relying on Him, so it’s out.

Only, this year, as opposed to previous years, I hope not to return to reliance on it.

So, I’ve decided (beginning last friday, March 17) to track the next 30 days…because apart from strictly spiritual reasons, we hear so much what Soda does to our bodies – the amount of sugar and the empty calories. I want to know if that’s true.

Changing nothing else in my life, just cutting out soda, what will the difference be in 30 days?

I’ve replaced soda with water (and once a day: Lemon/Peppermint water (or just Lemon, or just Peppermint, or Lime/Peppermint) using my lovely Young Living oils):

image

This is an example – love my lemon/peppermint mix. Typically, I use a metal cup. If using citrus continually, don’t use a plastic cup like this, as the citrus will corrode plastic over time (I poured the water from the bottle into my cup).

So, no extra exercise (which, for me pretty much is only whatever happens for work & house keeping, and, recently, downsizing/packing…), no change in diet. Just eliminating soda.

Now, I am not doing this to look better or live a healthier lifestyle, though, I do plan to continue moving that direction once I get this no soda thing down.

It’s one thing to be able to look down and love the body you have (which is where I am); it’s another thing entirely to be treating that body with respect & care (which is what I am working towards).

So, there is no end “goal” for me in this, except to cut out soda. No final weight or measurements, though I have taken starting weight and measurements (which I am not comfortable sharing, but will share the differences at the end).
I simply want to be able to eliminate my reliance on something that threatens God’s place in my life, and be at a healthier place than when I started.

Two caveat’s to this:

  1. Last september, I was diagnosed gluten free…since then, I have already made some changes to diet, namely: no wheat products. However, I still don’t eat the healthiest…I eat a lot of snack foods for meals, eat processed food, and a lot of dairy. So, though gluten is out, it hasn’t changed my weight much – being sick often has left me several pounds lighter over the past several months, but that has leveled off in the past month.
  2. Recently (for the past month or so) I have been drinking Zeal by Zurvita once a day to get my vitamins, as I am unable to take multi-vitamins. I will continue this as I go forward. Once a day, a serving of Zeal, which does give a natural caffeine boost & may skew results slightly:
image

Zeal is actually a great addition to my life, since I cannot process most multi-vitamins…I don’t think any skew it may have will be enough to be much difference.

 

Find Rest My Soul

I didn’t realize until earlier this evening, but:
I’m tired.

Not just long day tired.

Exhausted of resources tired.

Emotionally. Spiritually. Physically.

Tired.

A year and five months ago, I packed up my car & moved my life 1300 miles away, in answer to God’s call – a move I knew from the start was temporary.

For the last few weeks, I’ve felt this desperate pull to rush it. Get out of here. On to the next thing.

Because I am tired.

I have not been faithful to myself & providing self-care.

In my chosen field, it’s no wonder my Clinical Supervisor emphasizes self-care as part of our evaluation of ability to do the job.

And, I’ve been neglecting the biggest area of self-care in my life.

My greatest source of self-care is my spirituality. I cannot let that go.

After all, my soul, the deepest parts of me, finds the greatest rest in God alone:

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from Him.”
-Psalm 62:5

I say kudos to anyone who can do this job without any kind of self-care routine.
Because, I absolutely cannot.
I will run out of life.
Run out of resources.

I get restless.
Get ahead of myself and my plan.
Get ahead of God’s plan.

I suffer in the areas where it matters most…this likely makes me less effective, less affective, with clients.

So, tonight, I put away the studying for the biggest test of my life in order to take a little time to re-focus & care for my soul.

If you have been neglecting self-care, or have no idea what works for you to recharge your soul & your life force, let me offer some of my favorite ideas below (you can also check out my self-care pinterest board):

  • Spiritual activities
  • Music
  • Painting/sketching
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Drinking Water
  • Chocolate
  • Walking
  • Cleaning/organizing
  • Therapy, when needed (yes, even mental health professionals need someone from time to time)

So, it’s time to take my soul seriously. Finding my center once again.

Resting in the arms of my Abba.

I’ll leave you with the song that always kick-starts the process:

Still – Hillsong Worship – their live video is here.


What are some ways you make sure to take care of yourself & your soul? Share below.

Choosing Hope

“You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.” – CS Lewis

There have been so many times in my life when things aren’t exactly as I’ve expected….and recently, I find myself in a whirlwind of times like that…

I feel like therapy sometimes lacks/neglects an integral piece – connection on an “I’ve been there” basis.

I love what I do (about 95% of the time) and most of that 5% of time is made up of paperwork no one told me I would have to do & I hate it…but a small portion of that 5% is that piece that I feel is missing:

Our professional decorum often prevents us from getting further down into the muck of people’s lives with them, giving them a glimpse into what we’ve struggled with.

I know my kiddos (the older ones, especially) have a hard time connecting with me at times, because all they see most days is the successful counselor who got a 3.8 GPA in high school, graduated, went to college & grad school, and has lived a great life. They see someone well put together & seemingly without struggle.

What I never get to show anyone – what regulation dictates I keep to myself is:

The success was born out of many sleepless nights, when I did homework, read, or watched TV only because I was not going to sleep anyway.
That many nights are still spent this way – how most of my creativity & studying comes about.
The amount of nights tears stained my journals, all with similar messages: God, why is this my life? Don’t you love me? Why am I so worthless and unlovable?
The work was all about being enough just in who I was, and I could never seem to get that.
The only reason there are no physical scars is because by the time I knew what self-harm was all about, I had one “acceptable” form, along with knowing how to do it without leaving any marks. So the scars only live in my soul.
The amount of days the only reason I made it out of bed was out of anxiety for what people would think if I didn’t…and some days even that wasn’t enough.
That I was so traumatized by my middle school experience I have since never set foot in the school building – and am not sure I ever really want to.
That I cried so many tears in my high school – their high school – and didn’t know if the future would be as bright as I always pretended it would be.
That the only reason I am where I am today is because I refused to quit fighting, even on my darkest days. I chose to believe in hope and then live each day as if that belief were true.
The bullies didn’t stop, the pressure didn’t loosen, and the pain was with me day in & day out, as I made the choice to do something different, hoping one day it just wouldn’t be there any more.
That faith was more of a fight most days than a given…and it is that precise faith & walk with Christ that is the only reason I am where I am today. He didn’t give up on me, even when I was ready to give up on myself (and on Him).

I mean, my clients & my kiddos know a little bit of my story, but professional guides would limit what they have access to; and in the therapy world, that makes sense.
So, I will stick with this, as this is the path I am currently on…

I just don’t know if this is the exact place God will always have me.
As a matter of fact, I know it’s not. I know His call for my life involves so much more.

But, right now, He is teaching me so much where I am. And, for that, I am thankful.

I am also praying for doors to open and opportunities to present themselves for me to walk in others’ mess & share the hope that I’ve always had, but sometimes had to consciously choose. I am praying that, even with the proverbial “hands tied,” I get to be hope in a hopeless world, as I am tapped into the ultimate source of hope.

I wish more of my clients would understand Lewis’ words, and that I would also embrace them…instead of feeling “stuck” in the choices I’ve made that got me here, I’d like to trust that after I’ve mastered this step, lived this dream, God has another one ready & waiting; and the same for those around me…

Hope in a Hopeless World

I was talking to a family friend tonight, a fireman, and I made a joke as I always do about single Christian young men (you know, just in case the one I’m waiting for fights fires 😉 )

I’m not sure he understood the reason for the question but his “uh, not really Christians” answer gave me pause.

Recalling that Cousin’s husband, a paramedic, had once commented that his field & the fire fighting field you wouldn’t find a lot of believers.

And, I thought, how sad. For my field, which is notoriously lacking in faith filled people, and for their fields.

Surrounded by hurt, pain, brokenness, darkness, hatred, evil, and unknown each day, how do these people do it without faith? How?

image

“The work is too heavy…you cannot handle it alone” – Exodus 18:18

As I shared on Instagram with my Bible study time last night, I know I can’t do it alone. It’s in my weakness, His strength is shown; in my limitation, His limitlessness is revealed.

Though some see faith as weakness, I have to be the container for the hopelessness of the hopeless. I’ve sat with & cried with so many who have no hope. I have wrestled with knowing my life may be the only light in theirs. And, it takes an incredible amount of strength to stand in faith at those times.

This field He has called me (and my firefighter friend, and Cousin’s husband) to is not for the faint of heart. And, sometimes, those of us in it need support and/or extra faith.

And, honestly, I can’t imagine being hope in a hopeless world without the Source of Hope. It just wouldn’t be possible.