Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Very Rich!

                                                                                                CELEBRATE RECOVERY          


In some ways it reminded me of the birth of a child a very long time ago. To say the child was coming into the world in not the best of circumstances would be a colossal understatement.
She had struggled with severe depression for many years which had spiraled into all sorts of addictive and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. To elaborate on her situation would be too painful, except to say the cost had been great, she had nothing. And now she was unwed, pregnant and not knowing where she would go or what she would do, in an unfamiliar place, at the mercy and kindness of strangers. No money, no husband, no home, no job, afraid. Nine months would be a very long time.
Here we were in an unfamiliar city awaiting the birth of a child. The presiding physician was a small oriental lady by the name of Dr T. She came into the room after the birth to visit with the family. She said something like, “You have a beautiful healthy baby boy.” At which time Pam proudly mentioned this was our eighth grandchild. Dr. T was stunned, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. She uttered words I hope I never forget. With a strong oriental accent and sheer surprise she said, “OoHh! You very rich!” The truth of her statement struck me. In the midst of the most desperate circumstances new life had come! Literally our daughter had been given new life in the form of a child. A new life with new hope, new purpose, new vision, new love, new innocence, new dreams for a young woman who had lost almost everything. And this was the eighth such gift to our family! That was eight years ago. God has been wonderfully good to her and us, now we have nine!
I’ve thought about this event often, virtually every Christmas since. I sometimes envision the similarities to that first Christmas.
Mary a young woman in pretty dire circumstances herself, unwed, pregnant, not knowing where she would go or what she would do, in an unfamiliar place, at the mercy and kindness of strangers. It is almost like I can see the announcement of the birth of baby Jesus in a more profound way.
The angels and all of heaven standing breathless in anticipation of His birth into this fallen world, new life thrust into a dark world.
What does all this have to do with Celebrate Recovery? The birth of baby Jesus brings new life new hope, new purpose, new vision, new love, new innocence, new dreams, not just to one young woman but to all people, you and me, the entire world! Acceptance of, reliance on and surrender too the person of Jesus Christ our Higher Power is the only way to abundant life!            
“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” LK. 2:6-14.Or, the angel could have said it like Dr T. “OooHh, you very rich!” God wants you know how very rich you are due to His love gift of Jesus Christ! Celebrate life, Celebrate Jesus!
Merry Christmas!
Jim & Pam

Friday, December 14, 2012

Why Broken Lampshades Are the Best Gift This Holiday Season

By Dr. Kelly Flanagan on Dec 14, 2012 04:30 am

Lampshades can emit tremendous beauty. Even broken ones. Maybe we’re all like broken lampshades, and maybe we don’t need to wait to be fixed in order to be beautiful…


Photo Credit: swirlingthoughts (Creative Commons)


Every therapy office has a waiting room. Waiting rooms are an important part of the therapeutic experience—they contain those rare moments of peace and quiet before entering the psychotherapy room. Moments of decision, when we decide what parts of our story we will share with the person we have chosen to trust.

But I wonder if sometimes the waiting doesn’t end in the waiting room.

We enter into the therapy room and immediately begin a waiting of a different kind. Waiting to be fixed. Waiting to be cured. Waiting to be repaired. Waiting as passive recipients of a remedy—a word or an experience that will leave us finally feeling whole. We have put our lives on hold until we feel, finally, perfectly put together. We wait to truly begin our lives. We are waiting until we feel properly fit for purpose and meaning.

I think this happens in psychotherapy offices all the time.

But I wonder if we also wait like this in our hearts and homes and neighborhoods and nations and in our world.

Advent—the liturgical season leading up to Christmas—is meant to be a season of waiting, but I wonder if we’re all waiting for the wrong thing. I wonder if we are all waiting until we feel like we have it all together—afraid to really put ourselves out into the world while we still feel so cracked and broken.


I have three lamps in my office. Each of them has a lampshade the color and texture of old parchment paper. They emit a warm, even glow and people who peak into my office on a dark winter afternoon will often remark on the sense of peacefulness evoked by the lamplight.

My lamps create beauty.

And they appear to be pristine themselves—perfect, whole, untarnished, classy. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: they’re all broken. The lampshade on my desk is marred by water stains, which are rendered invisible when the light is turned on. The lampshade on my side table has a gash across the back of it. And the shade on my newest lamp—the floor lamp—was torn in assembly before I even had a chance to turn it on.

My lampshades are stained and ripped and torn. My lamps are a mess.

And they are beautiful.


We’re all ripped lampshades.

We’re all stained by life, ripped by experience, and torn by pain. But there is good news: we don’t need to wait to be beautiful. We don’t need to wait to be fixed or cured or somehow redeemed in order to be an inviting light in this world.

On U2’s most recent album, Bono sings: “You don’t know how beautiful you are. You don’t know, and you don’t get it, do ya? You don’t know how beautiful you are.”

Perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves this holiday season is to know that we are all broken lampshades. Broken people. Stained, ripped, torn and beautiful people. If we could cling to the grace of this, perhaps we would step out of the waiting rooms of our lives and step courageously into this world—into marriage and parenting and friendship and into quiet moments in which we keep only our own company.

Maybe we would discover that our rips and tears are like a prism, reflecting the light within us in unique and beautiful ways. Maybe in this discovery we would become a gift given to others, as well. Broken and beautiful givers of light, inviting others into the peaceful glow of the light we cast.

Let’s be ripped and torn together this season. And let’s know precisely how beautiful we are.
QUESTIONS: Is there something you’ve been waiting to begin. How could you step into that new part of your life now, before you are completely whole?