a bray say…

on the way home tonight we were talking about how tomorrow his school has early release to be available as a shelter for hurricane evacuees from the southeast coast of texas.

he said maybe he should pray. so i said, “go ahead”

“God, help us to not get killed by the tornado…” (then some other random ramblings)

“…and help us to not be independent”

i just thought… yeah. help us to not be independent. that’s right. not relying on our own strength for anything, but to be solely dependent on you.

it lead to a great dialog about john 15:5 which he learned this summer ~ “I am the vine, & you are the branches. without me, you can do nothing!”

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a scripture & more

isaiah 65…and me

1“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.

i didn’t ask because i had too much pride to. i thought i could handle my bad habits and secret sins and stressful days without any help, from anyone. or i was too ashamed to talk to you about it.

I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.

I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.

i know. you could’ve delivered me. but i was too busy. too wrapped up in my own selfish wants. instead of you, i looked for other things to sustain & calm me, even for a minute ~ a hershey bar, a latte’, a “comment”, sex, a new purse, an insanely good musician, my own family, gossip…

2 All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.

i know. my Bible next to the couch laid open with promises and grace and truth to find again. to rediscover. it was right by my son’s pirate treasure box. that was fitting. i remember the prodigal son. such a powerful image of open arms.

your spirit whispers in my ear all the time.

3 All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols…

i look in the mirror & i think i actually make self image & body image my idol. as well as public opinion. some days, the computer or movies can willingly & easily take your rightful place

5 Yet they say to each other,
‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me!
I am holier than you!’

like sunday morning in church when i thought that black usher was looking me up & down, but he was probably just looking to see if i needed a Bible or bulletin. i don’t want people that aren’t like me to invade my personal space. at times i think i’m somehow holier, without a word exchanged.

“holier”. if i drift from reality, i can actually convince myself that my good deeds & gifts to charity are worth holy-points to you, kept on a celestial dry erase board

These people are a stench in my nostrils,
an acrid smell that never goes away.

forgive me. please forgive me. you are my first love. your worth to me is greater than any of these things. i do need your help to react to everyday life, even the good days.

i see you. i call on your name. i run into your arms. i want my life to be an offering, one of a sweet smell that never goes away. i love you.

shoplift a heavy burden

it was a rush. my mind would go a hundred miles an hour (to keep up with my heart) as i walked the isles of the store. it could be any store…or house. it could be any thing. lipstick, underwear, a toy for my son, a ring, a birthday gift, a grape, a coke…you get the idea. my objective was to try & find a way to get out of that store without paying for it…without a soul noticing it was gone. it was kind of a ‘lets see how far i can push the limits’ game i played. the anxiety was actually exciting while i shopped. maybe since i never really went thru a drinkin’ & druggin’ phase, this was my version of a “high” i missed out on. the pinnacle was always at checkout. i thought if i got past checkout, i’d probably be safe…beyond suspicion. sometimes i’d use coy conversation & flattery to distract the cashier. i was dang good.

rolling cameras, electronic machines, magnetic strips, return policies ~ i thought i could beat them all. for example, if i got hungry, i’d head over to the protein bar section, open one up, eat it slowly while i ‘shopped’, as to not seem paranoid & then leave the wrapper on the bottom of the cart at check out. if they asked, i’d say, ‘oh, that’s just garbage’. a thief and a liar.

sometimes i’d be at home, bored w/an overdrawn bank account & have an intense desire to shop…or should i say, attain something new. once the urge got in my brain, it was like nothin’ could stop me. i’d take little items easy to hide in my purse. if i didn’t have the money (i read shoplifting rarely has to do with the lack of money), i’d think, ‘there’s got to be somethin’ around the house i can return. then w/that cash or credit, i can buy something else.’ i’d frantically search the house for items or search my purse for a good receipt & then look for an item listed on it. in essence, i used the socially acceptable & legal right to return things, so as to justify it. i’d take back all kinds of things i’d had for up to 9 months, clothes worn & washed countless times…i’d literally break things, un-stitch a hem to make it seem defective, even hot-glue a plastic price-tag loop back onto a garment so it looked never worn.

one time i even returned a dress jacket i gave to my husband for his birthday. it had a small rip in the armpit & i made it bigger, stating it was defective. originally i paid $29. @ fred meyer…& i got credit for it, but not before several cashiers looked at it with an ‘oh my god.’ examining me & then the botched receipt (another trick i was fond of ~ i’d make the purchase date illegible w/water stains or just just rip it). they had a small debate team meeting as i stood there with a long line of people behind me. yeah, it was embarrassing. am i really writing all this? my gosh, it still is. but at the time, all that was worth a $13. gift card to me so i could get something new. to this day i can’t believe it ‘worked’. in fact, to this day, i can’t believe i was never caught.

i watched a dr. phil called, ‘can’t stop stealing’. i completely related to this woman. only she’d been arrested 4 or 5 times & was still addicted. he basically used her kids’ innocence & the threat of prison to scare & shame her into accepting the gift of cognitive therapy he offered to pay for “in her own home town”.

it was far from a message of grace & forgiveness. now that’s a real gift.

i thought getting caught just one time would break me. the sheer humiliation of being hauled off in from of my toddler while he waits for his daddy to come for him…or the thought of being handcuffed in public…it still scares me. but that’s not what helped me stop. dr. phil’s guest made me feel less alone in my addiction, but that wasn’t it either.

i read that confessing something to God with your mouth – it cleanses & saves you. confessing it to someone close you can trust is what starts the healing process. i believed that. i finally told my husband last year, then later my mom, that i had struggled with this compulsion for several years. like food addicts who have to eat to live & are therefore continually faced w/temptation to overeat as they stand in front of their fridge, i had to shop for necessities & groceries weekly. the temptation was always there.

but after confessing to God & someone who could hold me immediately accountable, my urges to “lift” started…lifting. when i’m tempted to steal (yeah, i’m still tempted), i ask myself, ‘self, why!?! do u need that? what kind of example are u setting? would it be worth getting caught? do u think you’re more special or entitled than others who actually pay? get over your…self.’ or i’ll just say a simple prayer for the strength i need; recalling that there’s One who promises to supply all my needs, when i need them. sometimes i don’t do either, & end up taking something anyway. the last thing i can remember lifting was a birthday card that played ‘who let the dogs out’ when you opened it. angel had used it as entertainment while @ wal mart, even during self-check out. that was 3 or 4 months ago.

i’ve been thinkin’ about it lately. my reasons for doin’ it & for me, it comes down to three things ~ not trusting God nearly enough, refusing to die to my selfish desires, & clutching a perverted sense of self-entitlement.

today as i type this, i am nearly free of that issue. not because i tried hard, faithfully attended a 12-step klepto program, or was caught in the act. instead, thank God grace was poured out on me.

before it got worse, i was shown in my heart how confession & reliance {on strength greater than my own} can join forces to really change a person ~ from the inside out.