Monday, November 14, 2016

Courage and Grace To Keep Dreaming

Hello!
I'm jumping in here to share a guest post I have up over at God-sized Dreams today! My life is a little crazy at the moment, and I'm praying soon I will have the space to sit and write again. But for now, it feels good to be here and there. Let me know how you are!
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If I had to say what I needed more of, it would have to be courage and grace

More courage to take those leaps of faith with my eyes open instead of sealed shut like a scared little child. 

Courage to hope, dare, and dream in spite of maybe looking stupid, even if it's only me that thinks so,...especially when there is the possibility to fail.

And grace for those times I do fail or come up short and want to beat myself up instead of starting over, again.

For a while dreaming with other like-minded dreamers began to feel like a curse, because it seemed like we all had similar dreams, to write. 

But as I read Holley's book I came to realize that "even if someone else's dream looks, sounds, or even feels like yours-it's not the same." 

Comparison was indeed nipping at my heels and I started to wonder why in the world would 

God give everyone the same dream?

He didn't.

As I looked closer, each of us on the team may want to write, but God has laid different plans on each of our lives. Some are writing on their journeys to adopt, some are dealing with painful pasts, some share through photography...etc. 

Please join me at God-sized Dreams to read the rest. See you there!

P.S. God-sized Dreams has a new linkup called #DreamTogether on Mondays. Everyone is welcome to linkup an encouraging post!

xo,
Alecia

Monday, August 22, 2016

Take your blog from Meh to Awesomeness

                                Fistbump Media University Learning Center


When I started blogging about 5ish years ago, if I wanted to figure out how something was done I had to Google it and then sit for hours banging my head against the computer screen to get it to work.

And I have a computer degree!

I began this course last week and have been working through it a little each day.

The info on SEO proved to be invaluable to me. I've done a little research on my own concerning SEO and the best ways to optimize it, but the course really broke it down step by step. I was able to go through each step and perform recommended tasks to ensure I am doing the best I can to keep my pulse on stats.

SEO (search engine optimization) is key to getting your website to show up on the first page of a search. Trying to figure it out? Mind-hurting. But this course makes it so easy! I wish Blog Awesomeness was around when I was just starting out, but even though it wasn't, it is now, and I found a ton of useful tidbits within each section.

And who couldn't use a few email subscriber tips?

The course includes in-depth look at:
  • Website Optimization
  • Branding
  • Email Subscriber Tips
  • Analytics (Know how and where to look up your stats on social media and Google)
  • Design and Strategy
  • Affiliate Help and tips on offering opt-in freebies
And SO much more!

                           Fistbump Media University Learning Center

If you want to try it for yourself at the introductory price of $19.99, do it now! The price jumps up to $29.99 tomorrow! Work it at your own pace on your schedule. Do a little bit each day like I did and it helps absorb the information.

The course is easy to understand and the information available is what you are looking for if you need help understanding blogging lingo.

I would definitely recommend if you are a newbie, but even someone who has been around like me learned some new tricks :).

I hope you take advantage of this gold mine of a resource. It will be the best $19.99 you ever spent, or $29.99 if you wait until tomorrow :). (This is an affiliate link)

Buy now, thank me later.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Letter To My Younger Self


If I could write my younger self a letter I imagine it would go something like this:

Dear Younger Me,
I wish I could tell you everything that I have learned so far. It would save you so much worry and heartache. Things would be much different.

I can't decide if I should tell you to not fear and chase your dreams or tell you heart to heart, you do make some bad decisions, but then, those bad decisions made me who I am today.

Don't worry, I know you are nervous about your grades and what you should major in at school and aren't sure where your life is going. Guess what? You still don't! (Ha!)

You think you have to have everything all figured out in order to move ahead and be successful. You fear failing. You fear looking like a fool.

And I guess in writing that last part I realized exactly what I need to tell you. Let it go. Let go of the fears: the opinions of others, the fears of failing, looking foolish, making the wrong choice. 

Let it all go.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Is it Holy to be Happy?



I just finished up my last summer reading book, The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee.

Maybe like me you have heard it's our goal as christians to not seek to be happy, but holy or,

God doesn't care about your happiness only your holiness. 

But, Jennifer takes a different viewpoint and asks us to stop choosing between holiness and happiness. We can have both, and I like that!

"When I discovered happy holiness, it felt like fireworks were going off inside my chest. I had come to understand this truth: Our inner desire for happiness isn't a sin. It's a desire planted in us by God himself." Jennifer Dukes Lee, The Happiness Dare

Do you ever feel guilty for saying, "I just want to be happy!" or when you find yourself in a happy moment chastise yourself for feeling happy and tell yourself to tone it down? Like, Jennifer, I've gone through periods in life when I thought, "I'm not happy, but I guess that's ok, at least I'm holy and that's all God cares about anyways."

Somewhere along the way I figured God doesn't really care about my happiness, as long as I'm holy and joyful, I'm okay.

"Holiness isn't separate from happiness. It's a part of it." 

Huh.

I liked that the book wasn't all rainbows and sunshine, sure, it's nice to be happy, but let's be real. Life is NOT always sunny.

And I appreciated that she wrote, "Happy people cry. Happy people are familiar with the feel of thunderclouds building up on their insides. Happy people are the people who know it's a waste of effort to show up somewhere with the plastered-on Sunday smile."

I feel like I was not only given permission to be genuinely happy, but to also feel the gray clouds when they come rolling in as well.

Happy and holy are compadres. It's time to reclaim our happy and stop denying that we want to be happy! It's how we were created.

And check this out, Jennifer created a Happiness Style Assessment, find out what makes you happy...for Free!



I discovered I'm a thinker and experiencer. When I'm thinking and experiencing this makes me the happiest.

I hope you will check Jennifer Dukes Lee latest release, I think you'll be as inspired as I was.

"Happiness isn't a destination. It's a journey. And sometimes the journey is hard. Sometimes the journey looks intimidating and downright impossible."

(I was happy to be a part of Jennifer Dukes Lee's book launch team for The Happiness Dare. I was given a free pdf for my participation, however all opinions of the book are my own.)


About the book:
Would you like to be happier?

No matter who you are or how you feel, chances are you would answer yes. And Jennifer Dukes Lee was no different. For years, she wrestled with a constant nagging sense that she wasn’t as happy as she could be. At the same time, she felt guilty for wanting something so “shallow.” After all, doesn’t God only care that we find joy in our circumstances? Or is it possible that God really does want us to be happy?

Determined to get answers, Jennifer embarked on a quest to find out whether our happiness matters to God and, if so, how to pursue it in a way that pleases him.

In The Happiness Dare, you’ll learn what she discovered, including how to:
Understand the five happiness styles and maximize yours
Overcome the four biggest obstacles that stand in the way of your happiness
Find your happiness sweet spot―the place, relationship, or activity that gives you the greatest sense of well-being
Discover what you can do in just five minutes a day to be happier

Will you take the dare?

Join Jennifer in the pursuit of your truest, most satisfied, and most faith-filled self.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Story That Helped Shatter Racial Tensions (Book Review)





More Than Rivals is a book based on a true story by Ken Abraham.

My husband read it before I could. And you must know, my husband HATES to read. But he loves basketball, and this racially tense story is a good one. He couldn't put it down.

It's based on two basketball phenoms, Eddie Sherlin and Bill Ligon in the small town of Gallatin, TN in 1970, when racial tensions were high in the south and desegregation was forced upon the schools.

(As a white woman that has grown up in the south, I have seen and heard things that infuriate me. However, nothing like what occurred 40 years ago.  I can't imagine living in a time of such small mindedness and hate.)

More Than Rivals, is the story of Eddie and Bill who took a chance on friendship, bound by a love of basketball. Bill is the black boy that lives on the "black" side of town, while Eddie is the white kid who lives across the railroad tracks on the "white" side. They eventually are forced to go their separate ways, as Bill's mom moves them a few miles down the road. But in this small town where it was forbidden for blacks and whites to walk on the same side of the sidewalk together, much less play together, it might as well have been across the world.

They grow up on their respective sides of town and in their separate high schools, however it's not long before fate pushes them together for one last matchup that will not only change their lives, but those of their small town.

I enjoyed the book, but felt like it jumped around a lot between the characters, so there were times I had trouble following along. But overall a very impactful read.

*****
About the book: More than Rivals, written by Ken Abraham.

An Inspiring True Story Set in the Midst of the Civil Rights Era

By 1970, racial tension was at a breaking point in the southern town of Gallatin, Tennessee. Desegregation had emotions running high. The town was a powder keg ready to erupt. But it was also on the verge of something incredible.

Eddie Sherlin and Bill Ligon were boys growing up on opposite sides of the tracks who shared a passion for basketball. They knew the barriers that divided them--some physical landmarks and some hidden in the heart--but those barriers melted away when the boys were on the court. After years of playing wherever they could find a hoop, Eddie and Bill entered the rigors of their respective high school teams. And at the end of the 1970 season, all-white Gallatin High and all-black Union High faced each other in a once-in-a-lifetime championship game. What happened that night would challenge Eddie and Bill--and transform their town.

(I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wrapping Up The Calling All Men Series



Thank you for being here each week as we dove into this series. And thank you to each of the guest writers.

I struggled with how to wrap up this series. I almost left it with Valerie, but then decided, no, it needs a definite ending.

This is my attempt to put into words what I'm thinking and feeling. The heart behind the why of the Calling All Men series.

I've had friends over the years go through terrible divorces and lately it's even hit closer to home. I see men behaving badly even as adults and I wonder, why they do not see the potential in themselves to be so much more than the way they choose to live?

I see men all around me behaving like they did when they were young adults. Why aren't they growing up?

Can't they see they are called to be leaders in their home?

Now before you go thinking I'm bashing men, let me clarify, I know women can be disrespectful, critical, or overbearing. And not all blame falls on the men. But if you were to look around in the media, the news stories, listen to a friend's breaking heart while she tells you what really goes on behind the closed doors of her home...something is seriously amiss in our men.

We women, we got our issues too.

I'm not sure what the answer is. But I do know that it makes me more fervent and diligent in the raising on my own son in ensuring he grows up to be responsible and mature. Selfless in all he does, humble, and kind. This is my hope and daily prayer for him.

I think it's important for parents of boys to prepare them for family life. I feel like the "jobs" and expectations of a girl are laid out for her, she's taught to cook, clean, do laundry-but I wonder-how well do we prepare a boy for his future responsibilities as a husband and father?

How can we as a family unit do a better job of preparing our boys to become men?

Does he understand how stressful it can be and how important it is to love and lead well despite the pressures?

I know of too many men that turn to porn, gambling, alcohol. I also know too many men who do not have a good grip on healthy ways to deal with life. Instead they internalize their anger and stresses and it comes out in unhealthy ways in the home.

There is a song by Todd Smith, and it's called, Calling All Fathers, and I think it sums up well my agenda with this series:


Where are the leaders

Where are the teachers

Where are the keepers 

of every home

There's an emergency

Greater than any other

Where are the ones

Who fight for their own



(Email subscribers can watch the video here.)

It's a call to all fathers to step and take the lead in their home. Calling all men, calling all fathers, we need you.

This concludes the Calling All Men series, I hope you enjoyed it and learned from these amazing ladies as much as I have.

Did you miss a post? Don't worry I've listed them for you right here:
Post 1- Intro 




Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Embracing The Day The Lord Has Made





I’m in a season of change. And change is not something I do well. I’m more comfortable with sameness, in the sense that I like routine, I like to know what to expect.

Years ago, when my son began Kindergarten, I felt devastated inside. I knew once he started school the years were going to fly right on by, just like they had with my oldest daughter who was four years older than him.

I cried a little everyday leading up to his big day. And when the time came to get up and prepare my son for his first day of school, in the early morning hour of my quiet time, God laid one simple verse 
on my heart. “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

I stood at my front door and watched both kids hop onto the school bus with my eyes misted with tears and repeated the words, “This is the day the Lord has made…” over and over.


As a family we have moved eight times. (You would think I was accustomed to change with our life!) 

However, each move pushed me out of my comfort zone and I was forced to make a new home among strangers. My faith grew and stretched with each new transition. God went before me and more than provided and answered prayers. He brought new friends for the kids and myself. New church homes, Bible study groups. 

My social circle grew along with my faith and assuredness of His goodness. 

I'm over at (click here ==>) Kristin Hill Taylor's this week for her weekly Three Word Wed link up. Join me over there and meet some new friends?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Single and Searching (Calling All Men Series)





Today I would like to welcome my online friend, Valerie Sisco. Valerie is a single lady looking for the one God has chosen just for her. I love it when I come across women who refuse to settle for less than God's best for them. Valerie is inspiring. She loves to travel, finds beauty in the ordinary around her and writes frequently at her blog, Grace with Silk. Please welcome Valerie to the blog!
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I’m often asked why I’m still single and I never really have a good answer. 

Maybe I didn’t try hard enough during my years at a Christian college to snag a mate. Maybe I gave up on singles groups at church too easily. Maybe it’s because I’ve never gotten on board with online dating. Or maybe there’s just not enough single men for all the single women out there.

All I know is that I haven’t met a man I could imagine spending my life with. (Tweet That)

I know it wasn’t the man I came close to marrying just after college. Not the divorced youth pastor. Not the widower with two young children. Not the man I met at work who didn’t want to come to church, but on our third date invited me to see him performing a nude scene in a local play. Not the man friends fixed me up with who asked me on our first meeting if I’d be content to just hang around the house with him or did we actually have to go out on a date. 

Some of the men I’ve dated were Christians and some weren’t, but honestly I didn’t always see much of a difference between them.

When a man I’d gotten to know at church invited me to coffee after a service, I listened as he peppered his conversation with four-letter words that sounded out of place a few feet from the sanctuary. After months of sitting with him during worship, he ran into a friend one week who asked if I was the woman he was taking to Vegas on an upcoming trip. “No, this is just my church buddy,” he told him.

I wondered, where were the men who had a genuine desire to pursue God and seek holiness? (Tweet That

Were there men who wanted to partner with God, alongside a woman whose heart would join him in that purpose?



I have to admit getting married was never really a dream of mine. I didn’t spend much time thinking about a party of bridesmaids and designer gowns. Although I was raised in a Christian home by committed parents who just celebrated their fifty-second anniversary, I was a girl who loved books and was more interested in pursuing a writing career and decorating my own apartment than hitting the singles scene.

After several years of working office jobs, I finally landed a communications job in the corporate world. I bought a house, volunteered in the community and with my church, and was comfortably happy with my single life.

But something shifted for me. A few years ago God started rearranging the people, priorities and places in my life as I felt him alluring me. 

I felt him asking me to step beyond myself, out of my complacent and comfortable lifestyle to a spiritual journey that has deepened my faith. He’s challenged me to trust him when I can’t see his hand and invited me to wait for his answers.

Instead of filling up the spaces of my single life with more hobbies and activities, I made more space for God.


Sometimes I’ve felt if only I had that one thing — marriage — then I would finally arrive and my life would be complete. I wonder, if marriage is God’s plan for human beings from the beginning of creation, why isn’t that plan for me? But I might be living the life that God thinks is perfect for me. I enjoy freedom of time and space and I don’t have to consider anyone’s preferences in decisions about finances, travel and even meals.

But those are also the drawbacks of being single. 

I think marriage is a picture of our relationship with God. A husband and wife get to live a story that mirrors God’s love for us. (Tweet That)

I still have an unlikely desire to be married. Although it feels too late for me, I know it’s possible to find men who desire to know God. But it’s also possible that the desires God places in our hearts are meant to be satisfied in him alone.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  
-Ps. 73:25

Occasionally {more often than I’d imagine} my sister or a friend will tell me they’ve dreamed they were at my wedding. They describe the scene to me in detail — the food at the reception, the flowers, the setting. My sister even told me I was wearing a Vera Wang dress and described the cut, the neckline and the way I looked. I always ask, “Well, who was the groom? Did you see him?” 

And I guess that’s the answer I’m still waiting for.



About Valerie: Valerie Sisco lives in Orlando, Florida, and writes the blog Grace with Silk. Her day job is in corporate communications, but in the evenings you’ll find her dreaming of her next trip to Paris and Italy. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Are You The Prize? (Calling All Men Series)


 
Today I am pleased to introduce you to my friend, Elise Parker. I met Elise through the God-sized Dreams book launch team four years ago, and is one of the few bloggers I'm met in real life. She knows the ups and downs of marriage and raising a family and I was so excited when she agreed to write for this series.
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I was the chaperone on an 8th grade trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. You can imagine the scene…Three big busses full of loud, excited, hormonal teens rumbling over highway and byway, and me, one of the few “lay” chaperones, along with a few teachers. I wasn’t at all interested in watching Ace Ventura on the bus monitors, so I happily plugged myself into a series from one of my favorite bible study teachers, Joyce Meyers.

The Triumphant Marriage was the topic. Thick in the years of raising a gaggle of preteens, tweens, and teens, our marriage was ripe for a little boost and I knew Joyce would have some choice wise words. So I settled into the four-hour trip, ready to glean some marriage goodies from Joyce.

One of the things Joyce asked, which has stayed with me to this day, was the question, “Do you think you’re the prize?” (Click to Tweet)


I didn’t have to think about it long, Why yes, Joyce, yes I do! Joyce went on to describe a little more about what she meant. Did you think you are the “better half”? Did you think your husband is lucky that you’re his wife? Did you think you’re actually better than him?

I knew Joyce was onto something. Come to think of it, I definitely believed I was the prize. Chris was lucky to have me…lucky that I tolerated his underwear on the floor, his inability to load the dishwasher the “right” way, his stress level…oh I could name hundreds of little things that made me feel superior to my husband. (Click to Tweet)

Joyce was pointing out an all too common negative view of husbands. As I listened further, it didn’t take me long to realize that I had a very bad attitude, that I was way too critical of my husband, that I disrespected him. I had even gotten into the habit of dissing my husband when I got together with some of my sisters and friends

Bad-mouthing my husband made me feel better than and therefore justified in criticizing my husband. And it also led to me undermining him, in front of the kids to make matters worse. Oh boy, I was definitely in need of an attitude shift.

I confessed and apologized to my husband when I returned home from what was otherwise a really fun trip. My husband hadn’t thought much about the way I treated him and sadly had gotten used to my disrespect.

We talked a lot about the images of men in media. Disrespect is common.

Men are often made fun of for being buffoons, unable to care for their children, and always making a mess of everything when mama’s away. These images of men as idiots are portrayed through many a sitcom, movie, even advertising, including Homer Simpson of The Simpsons, the oblivious dad in Jimmy Neutron, and more. And did you know there is even a Facebook page dedicated to idiot husbands? I mean there is some very funny stuff there and I’ll admit to a chuckle or two as I scrolled through, but there are also demeaning comments that only further disrespect.

So what are we supposed to do? Well, first, ask yourself, if you are disrespecting your husband? Do you think more about the things he does wrong? The things you don’t like about him? Do you indulge in demeaning conversations about your husband with friends and family? Do you think you’re “the prize?”

If you answer yes to the above, try this from Philippians 4:8:
“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”


It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But if you’re in the habit of entertaining critical thoughts about your husband, then it will likely take some effort to change that habit to thinking about the right, lovely, admirable things about your husband. In fact, write a list of the things you like about your husband. Concentrate on those excellent things and I believe you’ll start to appreciate your husband more for who he is. Then you can exchange a few criticisms with a few complements.

As Christians, we are called to build one another up. Let’s make sure we do that right in our very own homes.

*
 Resource: A really powerful book on the topic of respecting men is Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs, by Emerson Eggerichs. He and his wife also conduct marriage conferences and you can take their course online too. Check out their site.


 About Elise: Elise Daly Parker believes everyone has a story that matters, that God forms our dreams, and He will make them come true! Anchored in writing and editing for over 30 years, Elise is a freelance writer and editor, speaker, writing coach, and MOPS Mentor Mom. She is newly navigating life at home without kids and with a wonderful husband. Her future itinerary includes a grandbaby. You can connect with her on her blog, Facebook, and on Twitter.

Thank you Elise!! And all of the guest contributors on this series so far. Your words have been grace-filled and thought-provoking. Next week we will have Valerie Sisco. She is a writer on her blog, Grace with Silk. She has an eye for beautiful things, and her words will leave you looking for beauty in the ordinary around you. Valerie will be giving us a single lady point of view, so make sure you come back next Wed!

Are you all caught up. No worries! You can catch up here: Intro-Post 1, Why Giving Up Porn Is Risky-Post 2, For When Your Man Feels 'Less Than'- Post 3

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

For When Your Man Feels 'Less Than' (Calling All Men Series)

The key that unlocks a man's heart, that equips him to be all he was created to be, is RESPECT.  It's his truest love language, it's his finest motivator.  

When a man feels respected, it unleashes a healthy power that enables him to love well.  It's the juice that propels him to soar upward professionally.  

And it's the sure foundation that allows him to lead with sensitive wisdom 
in his home, church, workplace, and community.




Based on my years as a pastoral counselor, here's what I know to be true ... when all is said and done, just about every guy I've talked with feels 'less than' in some area of his life.  Underneath the burden of whatever challenge he hauls into the counseling office, he has bought the lie that he is 'not enough.'

He feels disrespected.  And it weighs him down like a ball and chain.

*
The accumulated damage often starts in those formative childhood years.

If he was continually belittled or neglected by significant adults or peers, how he views himself plummets.  If his efforts to succeed weren't steadily encouraged and applauded, he begins to give up.  If his shortcomings or failures were exposed for all to see, shame enters the picture and he ends up viewing himself as a loser, a fraud, a failure.

And he carries this complex baggage of feeling disrespected into adulthood.  Small wonder that in the nooks and crannies of his pummeled soul, those oozing wounds of disrespect desperately await a healing touch.

*
The wounds of disrespect are often hidden behind surface concerns.  Like ...

He's sick to death of his work ... or he's out of work or underemployed.

His marriage is getting crispy around the edges ... or is in the process of crashing and burning.

His kids, who were once a source of pride and joy, now give him a headache fueled by fear of who they are becoming.

He feels his peers are out to get him, whatever that might mean.

He's been passed over, let go, eliminated, shunned, nagged, blamed.  He feels small and he's scared.  This toxic brew impacts who he sees himself to be ... sexually, professionally, relationally.

He often becomes depressed and angry at the injustice of it all.  He might try to grab hold of the respect he so desperately craves by subtle manipulation or blatant power trips.  If his very real and valid pain is left untended, this man is likely to fall into some form of unhealthy self-medicating ... porn, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sexual / emotional affairs, or other high risk activities.




There are no 1-2-3's in life, there are no magic wands to whisk away a man's feelings of being disrespected.  Working within a Christ-centered support group like Celebrate Recovery or 1-1 with a well trained counselor can be an incredibly supportive, healing experience.  With God's help, here's the steps that might incline him toward emotional / spiritual healing.

Acknowledge
This is how I truly feel.  This is where I'm coming from.  This is the truth of who I see myself to be.  This is my reality.

Grieve
I name all the ways that disrespect has impacted me.  I begin to grieve how this has played out through my life.

Own
I own my responsibility, my decisions, and my choices that were unwise, foolish, or sinful.  I ask God for forgiveness for the wrongs I have done.

Release
I let go of all that I have no power to control.  Other people.  Random life circumstances. Childhood disasters.

Forgive
I release myself from emotional prison by beginning to forgive those who've done me wrong, knowing that if I don't, those people will continue to control me from the depths of who I am.  And I ask those I've offended to extend forgiveness to me.

Re-boot
I begin to see myself as Christ sees me ... forgiven, unique, valuable, one who's in process of becoming a godly man of character and integrity.  I acknowledge that He alone is able to powerfully equip and enable me to live fully in all the ways that matter most.  And I choose to grab hold of some godly mentors who can walk with me into my future.




For women who love these men?

Ask him what he needs from you, what support would best encourage him.  It will probably be completely different than what you might have thought.  Figure out how to be a steady, supportive companion who speaks the truth, but does it in love.

Pray.  Often.  Fervently.  Faithfully.

  
  
Suggested Resources





About Linda: Linda Stoll is a board certified pastoral counselor and life coach.  She's making her way through an unsettling year of transition and grief, and is finding great comfort in feathering a new-to-her nest.  This former ministry leader and introverted author of 1400 blog posts lives quietly with her husband of 40 years in a little haven tucked between the ever-changing bay and the ocean deep.
She invites you to join the conversation at lindastoll.net.

           Wow, thank you so much, Linda. I know you have given me a lot to think about. What do you say, friends?

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The winner of Jennifer Ferguson's book Pure Eyes Clean Heart is...Rebecca!! Congratulations! Once I recieve your info I will get the book sent out to you!

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Did you miss last week's post on porn? Check it out here!

Linking with: Coffee for Your Heart, #TellHisStory, Three Word Wed, Thought-Provoking Thurs

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Why Giving up Porn is Risky



Did you see the cover of TIME magazine recently? Did you hear what the state of Utah declared as a public health crisis? Or maybe you attend a church that isn’t afraid to address this same issue from a scriptural viewpoint?

What are all these people talking about? Porn.

And right now, you might want to look away from this post. Maybe you’re afraid of being judged. Maybe you assume, because I’m a woman, I’m going to be preachy and that I won’t understand. Maybe you just don’t get what the big deal about it is. You think, I’m a man. This is what men do.

If you are one that repeats that last sentence over and over again, you’re right. A lot of men look at porn. One survey revealed that 77% of Christian men between 18-30 years of age look at porn monthly. 36% look daily. 44% admit, or think they might be, addicted to it.

Men are definitely looking. Maybe you’re one of them?

But here’s what I want you to know: I am not here to judge you. My husband is a porn addict. 

Through our journey through his addiction, I have been hurt much, but I have also learned much. And much of what I have learned is that his addiction was born out of his hurt. What started out as a lustful adventure with magazines in the woods of Louisiana in junior high turned out to be a full-blown addiction that followed him for decades, hurting his marriage, his fatherhood, and his relationship with Jesus.

For so long, he convinced himself that his addiction wasn’t hurting anyone. Back then, there wasn’t much research showing how porn consumption rewires the brain. He didn’t know it had the power to decrease his sex drive or that it could profoundly impact how he viewed women. In fact, he thought that once he got married, he’d be able to kick the porn habit for good because he could have sex whenever he wanted.

What he didn’t know then is that porn isn’t about sex. It’s about fantasy and escape. Watching Craig’s addiction cycles and understanding that his porn use not because I was carrying around extra baby weight or because my breast size was inadequate, enabled me to help him identify the real reason behind his addiction: fear.

Fear of failure.
Fear of rejection.
Fear of not measuring up.
Fear of depending on someone who might let him down.

There was a very real part of him that wanted a way out. But there was also a part of him that was afraid to let it go. Porn was his escape into a world where he would not be rejected, where he did not have to deal with the problems that come in real life, where he could remain self-sufficient and self-soothing. Porn was his security blanket and a hole-filler for that emptiness he first experienced as a kid.

In order to give it up, he had to replace it with something else, something that was actually designed to fill in a way that is truly satisfying.

What is it? Intimacy.

And of course, this was terrifying because it felt risky. He didn’t know how to do it, with me or with God.

Emotional and spiritual intimacy is risky.

You have to give something of yourself. It might be rejected.  
You have allow people and Jesus to see the real you. YOU might be rejected. You have to let down walls. You might experience pain.

You’ll have to experience emotions you wish you didn’t have, perhaps confront some pain you’d rather ignore, and depend on people and Jesus in a way you’d never before considered as meaningful or helpful.

My husband eventually took the risk, giving up his security blanket of pornography and learning how to pursue emotional and spiritual intimacy with God and me.

Did he have to confront some painful parts of his past? Yes.
Did God reject him as he came before Him as he was? No.
Did his wife reject him as he shared more with her? No.
Did he experience a sense of fullness and satisfaction that he had never experienced before? Yes.

Was it worth the risk? Yes.

There’s no easy fix, but with God, all things are possible. You are not required to figure out all of this by yourself. He is with you and He will provide support for you – trusted friends, counselors, and support groups. Just ask Him. This question just might be the first step in starting an emotionally and spiritually intimate relationship with the One who created you, who knows you by name, who died so that you might have eternal life.





About Jen: Jen Ferguson is passionate about living life authentically and encouraging others to do the same. She loves cultivating Christ-centered community and is passionate about helping married couples sustain their relationship in healthy and Christ-centered ways. She is the author of Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornographywhich she co-wrote with her husband and the Marriage Matters devotional card set (coming soon). She’s a mama to two tween girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.

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Thank you so much, Jen, for sharing your story here. What are YOUR thoughts on porn? Leave a comment for Jen and I will randomly choose one comment to win a copy of Jen's book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart.

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The winner of last week's giveaway of the Eternal Salvation DVD is...Valerie Sisco!! Congrats, Valerie!

Linking with: CoffeeForYourHeart, #TellHisStory, ThreeWordWed, Thought-Provoking Thurs

To read last week's intro post Calling All Men, click here. Next week I welcome, Linda Stoll. She is a board certified pastoral counselor and life coach, and you can bet she has some words of wisdom to share with us!

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