What disturbs your peace?
I’ve started this update several times in two weeks. I’ve been distracted. COVID-19 news has taken over the media and I’m using all my tools to stay focused. Can you relate? I really have no excuse, I’ve always worked from home and I live alone. The only change is now all ministry is online (support groups, coaching and workshops) and the need for support is increasing. From a Bowen Theory perspective, people’s Togetherness and Individuality forces are being tested and these basic human urges are doing their best to strike a balance but, unfortunately for some, they are failing miserably with the unrelenting tension. In the words of my bug-man, “Households are tense, real tense.”
Anxiety is infectious. We could talk about what to do with it (I hear a workshop coming…), but just pay attention when someone (subconsciously) wants you to help them manage theirs. It happened to me this morning with a family member, maybe in your household too.
Much could be said about learning to respond verses reacting to anxiety. This skill is called emotional resilience and it’s at the core of FMM’s addiction recovery methodology. Interestingly, whether one identifies with dependency behaviors or not, we all have anxiety relief behaviors. Some behaviors are more socially acceptable than others, while some impact conversations others impact waistlines, some impact bank accounts, others impact work performance and for most of us it’s all of the above. Yet every anxiety relief behavior influences our relationships keeping us from becoming fully known. Our satisfaction with life is subject to our mastery or ignorance of emotional resilience skills. Hang with me here.
Simply, emotional resilience allows us to navigate through negative emotions in healthy ways, quickly rebounding to stability. It’s a skill that with practice strengthens our ability to stay snug, unmoved, in the perfect love of God that casts out all fear.
So…, “What disturbs your rest?”
As Oswald Chambers puts it, “Whatever disturbs our rest must be cured at once. It is not cured by being ignored.” We are drawn into reactive patterns so easily and before we know it we’ve just agreed with the darkness instead of the Light. Your automatic reactive patterns to anxiety need your attention. Disobedience, by definition, is neglect and inattentiveness.
Events: Sexual Integrity Leadership Summit
Second Tuesday Workshops have moved to an online format. Email for Access
God’s Design for Sex
FMM is in its second year offering workshops on God’s Design for Sexual Intimacy and Healthy Sexual Development. The door has always been open at Cadence to host whatever the ministry desired to teach. Several years ago we offered workshops on sexual addiction recovery. Although that message is desperately needed in the Christian community, it’s been a hard sell straight on.
So then, the Lord gave instruction for FMM to change its approach and “back in.” He knew that discussions on His design were desperately needed too. Sexual design is a little easier for His body to embrace but we’re still talking sex. Some just have difficulty getting past the topic. Understandably. We’ve not been the best stewards of healthy sexuality much less the discussion of it. But times are changing. Thank God for bold souls, those people who aren’t afraid to step into the arena.
Scripture tells us not to despise small beginnings. We started 2019’s workshop series with two attendees and have slowly increased to an average 8-12 maybe more and now with quarantine we will shift to online meetings until it is deemed safe. Many attend repeatedly (there’s a lot to sink in). But here’s the thing that thrills my soul… They desire to do something. These attendees (and a few have been in their early teens) understand the impact of these discussions or lack thereof on the culture both inside and outside the church. God has orchestrated some pretty fantastic events to get some people connected. The long and short of it is that most accept the baton that gets passed to them and we are changing things. God is changing things. Here’s a few words from their surveys…
“It was so eye opening and beautiful.” “Awesome, I loved this!” “I appreciate what you do even though I felt anxious and fidgety during it.” “Good presentation. Excellent material.” “Once again, I am reminded to share this information! I loved the point of science proving scripture. I’ve seen other cultural information against pornography but seeing how science is for sexual wholeness is so cool!” “Sue, God has gifted you with the ability to pierce the heart and get to the point of what His design is for sexuality. Thank you for being obedient to His call on your life.”
Update by InitiativeMaking a Difference in our Generation
Affiliate Program: Associate Study Certificate (ASC)
Replicate FMM in Churches, Youth Groups, Schools, Pregnancy Centers, Jails…
I’ve been encouraged the most lately by the fruit from the Associate Study pilot. We started with 13 interested, 6 enrolled and 3 have maintained weekly involvement for over eight months and the evidence is their level of comprehension. These students are grasping the details and the big picture. Their passion and desire to implement what they’ve learned tells me that the Lord is “breathing” on this endeavor. We’ve worked through the videos and assessments content already online and we’re almost through the remaining material delivered in webinar format. One participant in youth ministry is weaving the materials into their bible study. Another is intensely consuming the content hungry to serve her family and other spouses and another’s recovery has radically changed showing eagerness to plant groups in her community in Illinois. God is using everything. Participation in L.I.F.E. Recovery groups, this Associate Study and periodic coaching is proving that not only does the L.I.F.E. Recovery Model work and works well, but the Affiliate Program for replication is spot on. As 2 of the 3 participant mentioned, other recovery efforts that they’ve participated in (CR, AA, SAA or 12 Step programs) don’t go to this depth to uncover what is driving the addictive condition. Yet one has to be willing to do the work to get well. With all of this said, I am greatly encouraged and happy with the “day of small beginnings.” I’m excited to see what God will do in the season ahead. To learn more click here.
Now Online Email for Access
IDentity Agreement Workshops were launched in July of 2019 training 60 leaders in Guatemala and 23 more in Dyersburg Tennessee in the fall. These workshops are becoming a conversation starter on topics like, “How can a born again Christian be addicted?” “Doesn’t talking about your wounds keep you stuck in the past?” “What role does addiction recovery play in sharing the gospel?” People struggle with the idea of addicted Christians. The term does sound like bit of an oxymoron. People who claim to be believers in the One who set them free are struggling – living life stuck on survive. Christian or not “stuck on survive” is a common position. The IDentity Agreement workshop is about our agreement with God on our identity. Ideally, this workshop is one in a four part series: IDentity Agreement, Cycle of Addiction (self), Cycle of Recovery and the Reflective Listening Exercise. Reach out if you’d like to bring these workshops to your community!
Praises & Prayer RequestsRejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:16-18
This little kid goat illustrates the word REJOICE! Be glad, gladness, as a kid goat frolicking in the field. I say, let us rejoice ALWAYS in the LORD!
1Q 2020 Praises!!
- Shouts of praise – Millennials and Gen Zs join FMM’s work! God is bringing fresh eyes to an old problem!
- I’m getting great gas mileage!! LOL, who isn’t, eh? We’re hardly ever driving. All kidding aside, last year when the Lord blessed me with the Kia Soul I knew it was a blessing but on average I’m getting 34-37 mpg city… Woot! Cut that gas budget in half!
Prayer Requests – Luke 18:1 Jesus: “Man always ought (inevitable necessity) to pray (for the obtaining of good or averting of evil) and not lose heart (in evil, impressed with darkness; cowardice, slothful in duty).”
Let’s unite in prayer for:
- Hearts drawn to the Father receiving Jesus
- Real confidence, security and hope in Christ
- Be Christians on mission
- Global increased health and vitality, medical/emotional assistance
- Food, shelter and jobs
- Pray for excellent attendance of the Portland, OR SILS event to be held on September 24-26th for the pouring forth of God’s wisdom to attending pastoral leadership and faith community seeking to make the Church a safe place for conversations on sexuality. Pray for the Spirit’s flow and wisdom to be present in my workshops.
- Pray for the postponed Union City April event to regain its momentum once we are cleared to conduct business as usual.
- Pray for those struggling with anxiety and unhealthy behaviors to learn emotional resilience skills.
- Pray for FMM to take possession of the land the Lord God has given us, for the increase of laborers into this field; the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
Thank you for your interest and prayer support. You bless this ministry!
Uncovering reactive patterns is a large part of recovery ministry (btw, recovery and sanctification are the same thing – withdrawing from the world and drawing near to God). In recovery, we learn skills to assess if the threat is real or imaginary. Then, we define unmet needs and next steps to get that need met in healthy ways. This process tolerates the anxiety of the moment and allows a choice for long term gain verses alleviating anxiety for short term relief. One must have vision for long term gain. God’s #1 goal is that we are conformed into the image of Christ. Do we contemplate on what that would look like? So, envision what Christ would look like walking around in your skin-suit and copy that. Jesus would respond to life’s anxieties from the kingdom’s perspective (Isaiah 11:3) calling upon all the favor, gifts and abilities granted to Him to obtain good and avert evil (Luke 18:1). As a believer, all that’s in us ready to access. So let’s use it.
We relapse or regress when we choose the easy way out alleviating the anxiety of the moment. This is why we pour vision and hope into people simultaneously with emotional resilience skills that express feelings and process pain. They are unlikely to jump from the familiar (no matter how dysfunctional) to the unknown unless the vision can be made real. Someone has to share their experiences and extend a hand while they take a step.
Be alert to what is running in your household right now. Watch for filler. Too much stimuli or focusing on “What if” scenarios will disturb your (household’s) peace. Try this Person to Person exercise: Talk to each other about each other and not others or impersonal things. This will improve the relational system in your family. It’s an incredible exercise in knowing self. When you’ve talked all you can to each other about each other don’t fill the space with empty chatter, fear or gossip. Let the space be. Allow silence.
God will fight for you while you keep silent, keep your peace – Exodus 14:14. So whether you’re stuck in tight or spacious quarters, it doesn’t really matter. Here are a few tips to strengthening your stance.
1) Find a way to listen to the attacks of others without reacting.
2) Find a way to live with what is without trying to change it.
3) Define your convictions (beliefs and principles) without attacking the convictions of others and
4) Observe the part the ‘self’ plays in the interaction.
The only person you can change is you, and God is for you. – Rms 8:31
Peace be with you, for real, He is.
Here’s a link to FMM’s Reflective Listening Exercise it’ll help you process anxiety. Let me know if you would like some help applying the exercise.
“I enjoyed hearing the scientific breakdown of what happens to your body during masturbation vs sexual intimacy with my spouse. I’m going to be more mindful of what I watch and be willing to give to my husband (physical covenant).”
“My favorite topic was the connection between worship (rest in God) and sexual intimacy with your spouse.”
“I think I have some abandonment issues and I did seek to fulfill my own need because no one else was. I need to get back to wholeness.”
CIAR Training Impact
“A very good training! Gives us tools for a better comprehension of the addiction problem.” – Guatemala
“After attending FMM’s CIAR training, I understood the factors that can trigger the cycle of addiction such as low self-esteem, anxiety, guilt, sadness, anger and worry. I discovered my triggers for sexual addiction has been loneliness, anxiety and worry. This training helped me identify heavily damaged areas affected early in my life by my cycle of sexual addiction. I understand how mood disorders affect brain chemicals and only by seeking the help of God in addition to being in a support group is it possible to treat sexual addiction. The CIAR training really helped me a lot for continue healing.” – I.M., Guatemala
“This training was a blessing to many of us, especially for me because God spoke to my heart very strong about facing my family to restore my relationship with them. I was afraid, but one thing I learned was to surrender all my fears to God before I face my family. I did so. Glory to God! I had great results, it was not easy. It hurt my heart to see how they were affected but when we decide to obey God, He is the one who takes care of everything else. Doing this gave me more freedom in my life.
Also, something else that shocked me was learning on how addiction affected my brain. At some point, I got a little desperate because that day I felt I could not hold any more information about how my brain was damaged. It was clear to me that the enemy has many ways to destroy lives, especially during childhood because of our innocence. I prayed that same moment, to ask God to help me because if I struggle with my own strength I could not make it. Sue taught us that there is hope to restore our brain by renewing our minds in God’s word, praying, having a good diet, exercise, and sharing our struggles with others so they can help us. Not everything is lost, there is hope in God, and He has prepared us to make changes for ourselves and future generations. Sue’s testimony was a blessing for my life, may God continue using her life to help others.” – Beverly Xiloj, Guatemala
“FMM’s CIAR training opened my eyes to understand my own struggles. For many years, I blamed myself for the pain that I was feeling but during the training, I decided to be patient with myself. God is still working in me.” – Laura M., Guatemala
“No doubt this training on trauma made me think about my process and why I started in all this. The trauma comes much beyond what we believe led us to some addiction, the trauma comes from some experience, a situation that marks our life and that we have not yet been able to overcome. I have learned a lot about this issue and now I can help women get to the bottom of addiction and start the recovery cycle together. Give what you have received by grace.” – A, Guatemala
“Enlightening conference with lot of ground to talk about. Excellent and complete information on trauma, addiction and recovery.” – Guatemala
“The only thing I can say is your seminar has changed my life. Since then I have enrolled in school, become deeply connected with my sons emotions (at least I think), and have become a ruthless but gentle evangelist for the recovery of sex addiction!” – Robert B., Georgia
“I attended one of your training sessions at Florida Abolitionist headquarters. Thank you for your continued work. There are so many who need your help. Don’t give up. I really believe your ministry is going to grow, and grow and grow!” – MA, central Florida