life with community //

By April 16, 2014 Marriage + Relationships

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“were you to ever venture just north of san francisco into muir woods, an incredible forest of sequoia trees, you would no doubt be provoked to a sense of awe over the strength and endurance of the massive trees. sequoias are sometimes referred to as the largest living things on earth, reaching almost 250 feet in the air and standing for as many as fifteen hundred years.
when you stand before their enormous trunks and beneath a canopy more than twenty stories above you, it’s hard not to feel tiny and envious at the same time. if you could have a conversation with one (not that either of us have attempted that), you would not want to ask, “how? how have you done it? how have you stood strong through all the storms of life, all the difficult situations? how have you not toppled?”
their response may be surprising.
you would probably assume that deep roots would be the fundamental reason the sequoias around you could date back to a few decades from the collapse of the roman empire. that is not the case at all, however as each tree’s roots grow only about four feet in the ground. while going deeper helps many trees remain upright, the sequoia you stand before like an ant has not overcome the difficulties of life because of its depth.
the answer doesn’t lie down below in the earth but all around the tree. if you looked around, you would notice that sequoia trees grow only in groves. while their roots go only about four feet deep into the ground, their roots intermingle with the other sequoias next to them. one tree has other trees surrounding it, supporting it and keeping it strong.”

sunday morning, our pastor read this excerpt from transformational groups by ed stetzer and it stuck with me. being the wife of a recovering sex addict is so hard. sometimes i still get really suspicious of james’ actions and him spending hours upon hours on the computer networking for our business. i wonder if he ever misses his old life…if he wants to get in touch with the women of the past. i still battle anxiety and fear, but let me be honest…over the past year and a half, those battles have become less and less. praise the lord!

one thing that we realized through james’ healing and the 6 1/2 years we’ve been together is that we needed community holding us up, keeping us strong, and supporting us…just like the sequoia trees. there are a select few that have weathered every storm with us (you know who you are and you all are so loved). from the very moment i found porn on james’ computer, to the moment i found out he was sleeping with other girls, and then how everything came to surface again within two months of marriage…we had friends there for us, every step of the way. we really could not have walked through everything we’ve been through had it not been for the people who surrounded us, prayed for and with us, welcomed us into their homes with open arms and a lot kleenex.

for years we’ve been blessed with these amazing friends, however james and i never took the time to commit to a church in our entire dating relationship and even into marriage. we were missing this specific aspect of community. i think the season away from church was needed and in a way helped with some of the wounds we both had. but ever since we started going back to church and found our church home, i thought to myself just the other day, “what have we been missing all these years?!” friends, being back in a solid home church with community surrounding us has been the best healing balm to our hearts and i feel like we’ve both been challenged, loved on, and have grown in so many ways in just the past few months. my cup is overflowing with joy that we have community again. i love that sunday’s we’re back in church, that friday nights are filled with guys nights and girls nights, that we have had dinner with a couple new friends, that we’ve gone bowling with the young adult group, that we’ve gone from having zero weddings to attend this year to having two, and that we both are developing friendships with the same sex on deeper levels, on a weekly basis.

we are back in a place where we are being poured into and that’s so amazing…but now that james and i are in a really healthy place in our relationship and marriage, we are able to pour back into friendships, into community. and you know what? it feels so good!

when walking through the healing of addiction it’s so easy to cocoon ourselves. it’s easy to hide away and not tell anyone about the battles you are facing. but living life with community is so important. as a wife, i learned that i needed my girlfriends around me to lean on. i needed people to rely on through every step of the healing process. even if you aren’t facing an addiction and you just have come to a place where cocooning yourself is easier than putting forth the effort to delve into relationship, friend, you are missing out! we are not called to live life alone. we are called to live life in community.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:9-10

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:4

last night we had dinner with an amazing couple from church and as we shared our testimonies to each other, i sat there thinking how blessed james and i were to hear their stories, to share our stories, to talk about our dreams and goals in life and to share stories of marriage and how hard yet rewarding it is.

yes, the season of cocooning for james and i was a good season, but honestly, i wouldn’t go back. i love knowing people and in return, being known. if you are not in a church or have a solid community of people around you to do life with, i challenge you to go out there in this big world and find community. i know it seems hard and daunting or scary because it means being vulnerable, but it truly is so worth it. just like the sequoia trees need other sequoia trees to hold and support each other, we need friends and family surrounding us, supporting us so that we can then weather every storm of life together.

xoxo, autumn
photo credit: smitten studio

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I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife //

By April 11, 2014 Addiction + Healing

I heard these lyrics in a song recently, “I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife”. Though the song is singing about worshiping a woman and a woman being his god, I feel that this imagery really reflects how the world and even those who are apart of the church view the church.

We recently got a message from a reader and they told us that they were in the midst of struggling through sexual addiction. The proceeding emails revealed that they had people around them, but it was apparent that the people in their life were ill-equipped to handle someone coming to them with this specific addiction.

As a society we keep our secrets to ourselves and tend not to desire to air our dirty laundry, especially to people who are “christians”. Why? Those lyrics I referenced are exactly why. People know that if they aren’t perfect and they come to church where you’re supposed to be, nay expected to be, perfect that they will be met with sharpened knives. Those who are in the church know this especially, that if they come out with something beyond “I sometimes look at a woman”, they’ll be met with a blank stare and they’re made to feel like they’re some sort of “freak” or a grotesque human being. This idea and thought keeps so many people and their addictions in the dark. I know some of the questions I faced when walking through this were, “what good is it going to do to tell someone else? They don’t know what I’m walking through, they don’t know what I’ve been through, they don’t know how to help me.” These are all valid thoughts, but they are not excuses that should keep you from sharing your struggle. These excuses will only prolong your addiction; you’re living a dual life and ultimately unhappy and un-whole. Having a community around you to lift you up and walk with you is essential in your recovery.

The world loves to pick apart and point out Christians who come out as imperfect. Sometimes I get the idea that the church community has just as much energy involved in condemning a person for their shortcomings as the world does. So much energy is put into condemning and pushing people AWAY from healing rather than STANDING with the people that come out with their struggles. If I had known before that more people would walk through this with me, come hell or high water, I would have walked through this process so much sooner. But I’ve seen the ugly bits of people, I hate to be a cynic but I’m going to be. I saw my father walk out on my mother when I was 6 weeks old, I’ve been apart of churches that excommunicated and pushed me out, and I’ve lost many a friendship because people only want to walk with you so long as it’s comfortable for them. Now, I made the decisions I did and I’m not here to point fingers. I could have handled things differently on my end but when things came to light, shame was thrown on top of it because that’s what is easiest and that’s what we’ve been trained to do because we “don’t understand” someone else’s sin and struggle. We’ve been trained to condemn and look down upon people for their struggles while we brush off our own struggles.

So then what are we supposed to do when someone comes to you and says, “I’m struggling with sexual addiction”. First, don’t shame them, tell them how courageous it was that they came to you and felt the freedom to share that with you. They’re already feeling immense amounts of shame. They want to go crawl in a hole already because this is a fight they don’t understand and is looked down upon by those in the church. It’s a struggle that the church has labeled as taboo and something that you SHOULDN’T struggle with. More than likely, after they come out with their struggle, they’re not going to want to come to you and call you all the time because now they feel the shame of their sin and they want to stay in a hole, not be sociable and outgoing.

I’ll never forget when I came out with my struggle the response of one friend… “I don’t understand this addiction, it’s not something I struggle with, but I’m going to walk with you through this. Let’s find a book and we can read through it together. We both read a chapter and then every week we can get together and talk about what we’ve read.” This is what the church at large should be, a place and a body that says, “I’m going to walk with you through this, I want to understand your struggle and be there for you, help to share the burden of walking through this.”

 This is our “great commission” as followers of Christ. Matthew 28:16 says,

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus didn’t just say, “go do all these things, good luck”…He said, “I will be there with you, I will walk with you. Through all these things you don’t really understand, through difficult times and tribulations, I will be with you. Through you relearning who you are, through you unearthing things that you’ve suppressed, through everything being turned upside down… I will be there with you.” That is how we are to make disciples and help someone to wholeness…walk with them, be there to be leaned on.

So, put away the knives, take off the blank look on your face and stand. Walk through peoples journey’s with them. You don’t know the impact you could be having on someone by just being there and walking through their lowest of lows with them.

James

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inspiration no. 2 //

By April 3, 2014 Inspiration

this morning i woke up to several inches of snow…but nevertheless, i still wanted to bring a little spring inspiration to the blog!

i did one of these posts in the winter so i thought that since all the bright spring colors are appearing, that i should put together some inspirations for the new season! the vintage necklace and dream catcher are from etsy shops of two lovely ladies that i have met over social media. so that means… you should help support them!

also, james and i watched roman holiday for the first time this past weekend. i grew up watching old black and white films and audrey hepburn has always been a favorite of mine, but i never took the time to watch this specific movie. sunday was a perfect day to curl up on the couch with a blanket and some tea and watch a classic romantic movie. and you know…even james liked it! if you haven’t seen it, it’s currently on netflix.

i hope that this spring season showers you with much sunshine, bright colors, and lots of joy! and if you live in colorado…a little less snow. if there are any products or etsy shops you’d like to share, please do so! i’m all for supporting small businesses.
oh, and don’t forget that you can download the free printable from tuesday’s post!

xoxo, autumn

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verse of the month – april //

By April 1, 2014 Memorize
courageous_love-printables-verse_of_the_month-april-8x10
Download this month’s free printable: 8×105×74×6

 

it didn’t take long for me to figure out what verse i needed to memorize for april. i’ll give a little background as to why i chose this specific verse, but i will also be writing a separate blog post within the next week specifically about complaining and how there are roots in my heart that need to come out.

if you’ve read some of our blog, then you know that james and i both had to walk through healing when it came to getting back into the church scene. if you’re curious, you can read all about that here. ever since we found a home church, every sunday that we go (which is just about every week…go us!) i walk away being so convicted and challenged. this is the best part and also the worst part about being in church again because i am reminded every week, on a deeper level, how i really don’t have it together, that i truly am a mess without my jesus, and there are deep roots from my past that need severe digging up.
complaining…is one of those roots. and it’s what our pastor talked about sunday morning. the message was so good and so convicting that i cried pretty much through the whole sermon…and then on the way home…and then while james and i ate lunch. it hit me deep, my friends.

here was the premise of his sermon: gratitude and complaining cannot coexist.

i try so hard to be thankful for this season that we’re in with the business and everything that i have in my life, but when i complain, it pretty much discounts all that gratitude i was aiming for. i say i’m thankful in one breathe and in the next i’m complaining about how i want to be in the next season so badly. i have to stop this cycle.

so, to aid in the process of putting an end to the complaining spirit, i have picked this scripture to memorize and meditate on. there will also be a lot of prayer, a lot of seeking the lord about how to dig the roots out, and lots of accountability from my hubs.

it’s not going to be fun and i’m going to be stretched, but i know it’s going to be so good!
join along with me…download the free printable my husband designed, stick it somewhere where you will see it daily, and meditate on it. we can do it!

xoxo, autumn

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friday letters //

By March 28, 2014 Inspiration

dear fear,
it’s been a while since you’ve come around, but last night you decided to make an appearance. just when i think i’ve conquered you, you have a way of sneaking your way right back into my heart and mind. i thought that when james and i sat down to look through his linkedin account, that i would be fine….little did i know that just a few minutes in, you would have such a grip on me that all my walls and defensives would go up, all my doubts would come flooding back, and anger would well up in my heart. once again, you left me in such a state, that i doubted my husband, i doubted his healing….i doubted what the Lord has done in my marriage. because of you, i lashed out, accused, cried, and trembled that my husband would be so weak to even get in touch with the women of his past. i hate you fear and i hate that you are the one thing that i still battle. one day, i will conquer you. one day, you will not hold this place in my heart or mind. watch out, cause i’m coming after you.

dear husband,
last night we cried harder than we have in a long time and prayed harder than we have in a while. you are so patient and kind to me in the moments of my fear rising. even though my anger got the best of me, you handled my fear and anger with so much humility and love. even though you talked about wanting to give up on this hard season of the business, i know that was just from the hurt in the moment. this seasons sucks and i hate it so much more than i thought i would, but at the same time, i’m excited to see what’s on the other side. everyday i wake up not knowing what adventure will come our way and it makes me so nervous, but it’s okay…cause i have you! i know some days we feel as though we’ve conquered a mountain and some days, it feels we’re stuck in the mud, but everyday i am reminded of how blessed we truly are to even be in a season where we can attempt to start what could be the biggest adventure of our lives. thank you. thank you for loving me in my weakness, for being so strong, and for being mine. i love you.

dear cup of tea,
i know that my husband pokes fun at our relationship, but don’t let it get to you. you are an essential in my life and i won’t ever let you down. thanks for being so comforting, for being so warm when i’m cold, and for tasting so darn good no matter what time of day it is.

dear april,
four days away already?!? how?? when?? please be full of warm sunshine and rainy days…but no more snow…please?

dear friday,
i am so glad you’re here!

xoxo, autumn

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your name //

By March 26, 2014 Inspiration

names. they are amazing. have you pondered yours in a while? how did you get it? what does it mean?  in many places, people connect our earthly name to something of value or tie it to a memory.
our names carry life.

my name is autumn rae.
autumn - my mom’s favorite season
rae – like the “rae of the sunshine” which my dad picked out. it is also short for rachel which means, “beautiful in form and countenance.”

there are also other names that define us…names like sister, mother, friend, coworker, etc. how about names like successful, failure, introvert, extrovert, abused, strong, maybe even weak.

how about name changes within marriage? james and i are just a few months shy of celebrating two years of marriage and it’s crazy to me that on that beautiful, rainy july day i went from being a mcmillen to a carton in just a matter of moments.

when a woman takes on the name of her husband, she is claiming to the world that she believes in who he is and the legacy he was created to leave on this earth. she is coming under his mission and dreams, submitting herself to him. she is committing to him for life by altering her identity in order to create a new identity, one where she no longer lives for herself. she is declaring that if they have children together, their children will also take his name and together they will raise those children to carry out the legacy they have started as a husband and wife. it is one of the highest gestures of love and commitment one could do. it’s not something to be taken lightly or flippantly. every day, every time i write my name, i am honored to be a carton.

but have you ever thought about it this way…that when you fall in love and commit your life over to Christ that you are also changing your name, your identity?

“your name is your character, your nature. it’s the way you live, it’s your behavior. anything and everything you do is all wrapped up in that name. and every name has a fragrance, a perfume. it’s the thing that hits you when they walk into the room.”
~ jon thurlow

when we claim to be followers of Christ, we become carriers of His name. when we decide to “take His name” as a bride would her bridegroom, we must take that as the most serious decision we could make. we see throughout the Bible that names are changed. God, himself spoke to abram (one who crosses over) and changed his name to abraham (father of many nations).  Jesus changed simeon (he has heard) to peter (the rock) and saul (prayed for) to paul (humble). Christ redefined these men to be who He saw them as. their new names aligned with heavens view of them. i love these lyrics from the song “i will change your name.”

I will change your name
you shall no longer be called
wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid
I will change your name
your new name shall be
confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one
faithfulness, friend of God
one who seeks My face

something that i did through the seasons of hardship with my parents’ divorce and james and i’s relationship was got my journal out and wrote down all the names that i have been called or words that the world defined me as. then on a separate page, i wrote down all the names the lord calls me. a few names that i wrote down that the lord calls me are:

FRIEND
“I have called you friends…” (john 15:15)

imagine:  a friend of God!

MASTERPIECE
when people fall in love, funny things happen to their eyesight.  All of a sudden that person who seemed fairly ordinary becomes beautiful, handsome, dazzling, awesome—and many other adjectives.

it seems like God’s undying love for you and for me has had a similar effect on His eyesight:  He thinks we are gorgeous.
here’s the proof: “for we are God’s handiwork….” (ephesians 2:10).  the word translated “handiwork” has clear artistic connotations and could easily be translated “work of art” or “masterpiece.”

isn’t that what you thought when you looked in the mirror this morning: “wow!  a work of art!”  that is what God thinks when He looks at you and me:  “such a masterpiece!”

TREASURE
do you have a treasured possession?  what you would rescue if your house were burning?  something you can’t imagine living without?  sometimes you show it off.  or you might hide it or lock it up to keep it safe.  it could have great value to anyone, or perhaps only to you.  a treasure.

that is what God has said about His children, the israelites, and  about us:  “for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 7:6)

God treasures us.  He protects us and keeps us safe.  but He also loves to shine His spotlight on us, showing off His great treasure.

You-Are-My-Beloved-Print-255x300

BELOVED
this is my favorite.

my husband shows his love for me in so many ways.  he works so hard to get our business off the ground…24/7.  he does the dishes after dinner, fixes things around the house, takes me out on dates, believes i can do anything—and lets me be alone when that is what i need.

you see, God is in love with me (and with you!).  He wants to be with me.  He whispers encouraging words to me.  He calls me all these special names.  He leads me into remarkable opportunities to serve Him. He reminds me that He is always looking for ways to do good to me.

He calls me His Beloved:  “My beloved is mine and I am his….” (Song of Songs 2:16)

one more thing:  God always knows which name to call us in every circumstance.

so what names do you need to rid yourself of? what names have you held onto that they have formed your identity? let the names and words that this world has defined you as fall off of you and may you be graced with a new name that the Lord calls you.

you are lovely. ravishing. peaceful. joy-filled. redeemed. worthy. free. cherished. beautiful. life giving.

xoxo, autumn

 

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spring cleaning //

By March 21, 2014 Months + Seasons

spring is in the air and so are the allergens. spring, although lovely, is not my favorite season. the pollen in the air makes me want to scratch my eyes out and all the fresh blossoms make me sneeze uncontrollably. having allergies is the dumbest thing ever. i will say though, that i love all the bright colors that come with spring. in fact, today i am wearing a bright blue cardigan, a yellow scarf, and yellow shoes! at least i can look like i’m getting into the spring spirit while using up the box of kleenex sitting at my desk.

one thing i do love about spring time though is spring cleaning. james and i are in the middle of repainting our kitchen (before and after pictures will be posted when it’s all complete) and after the painting is completed, a deep clean will have to take place. as i’ve been thinking about how i want to approach the deep, spring cleaning of my house, it hit me that it seems that i have some other “deep spring cleaning” to do as well. that spring cleaning is the spring cleaning of my heart.

while you and i are cleaning out the closets and sweeping under the furniture, let’s think about this: spring cleaning, while worth the effort, will only last for a season, but spiritual cleansing could have an eternal influence. so let’s not just dust behind those book shelves, lets dust off that favorite bible and get ready for a heart spring cleaning.

1) cleanse your heart – get spiritually healthy:

the bible encourages us to draw close to God and allow our hearts and bodies to be cleansed. this is the first step in our spring cleaning project. we can’t clean ourselves. instead we must draw near to God and ask Him to do the cleansing inside of us.
Psalm 51:10 // Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Hebrews 10:22 // Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

2) clean out your mouth – deep clean inside and out:

heart cleansing requires deep cleaning — it is housekeeping that goes beyond what others see and hear.  it’s a cleansing from within — inside and out. as your heart gets clean, your language should follow. this is not just talking about bad language, but also negative talk and pessimistic thoughts that contradict the word of God and faith.  this includes the challenge to stop complaining. friends, this is a hard one for me…not so much the bad language part, that is something the Lord has been working on in me for the past year or so, but the pessimistic, negative, complaining words that come out of my mouth. just the other day my husband stopped me in mid thought and said, “honey, i need you to do something for me. can you please not be so negative about this season we’re in?” as much as i hated that moment and got mad, it hit me deep. my mom complained a lot and was negative towards life, and i really don’t want to be an example of that to my children, my husband, or my friends.
Luke 6:45 // The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

3) renew your mind – take out the garbage:

this is one of the biggest areas of struggle for most of us — removing the garbage from our minds. garbage in equals garbage out. we must feed our minds and spirits the word of God instead of the garbage of this world. a couple weeks ago our pastor taught on tending the garden of your family (the seeds you are planting, what you’re doing to nurture those seeds, etc). one thing that he said about the tv shows we allow in our house that convicted me to the core was, “are you watching things that you would want your kids to watch? if you wouldn’t allow your children to watch certain shows or movies, then why are you watching them?” guys, i hate to admit it, but i love reality shows. i’m hooked to the bachelor and the real housewives of new jersey and sister wives. but you know what? i made the decision that i will not watch reality shows anymore. i’m done. there is nothing wholesome about reality shows; it’s all drama and i don’t need that to be in my mind or my heart. it’s gonna be a hard root to pull out, but i’ve got it. it’s time to take out that root and throw it in the garbage.
Romans 12:2 // Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

4) release unforgiveness and bitterness – get rid of old baggage:

long kept unforgiveness and bitterness is like old baggage in the basement you just can’t seem to part with. you are so familiar with it, you don’t even realize how it is hindering your life. don’t let it hinder your life anymore. walk in freedom!
Ephesians 4:31-32 //Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

5) involve Jesus in your daily life – let the Son shine in:

what God wants most from us is relationship – friendship. He wants to be involved in the big and small moments of  life. open your heart, let the light of God’s presence shine into every part, and you’ll have no need for a yearly heart cleaning. instead experience daily, moment to moment refreshing of your spirit. tangibly? spend time in the word, mediate on it, study it. learn and memorize scripture! let Jesus in to the parts of your heart that you want to keep hidden from the world.
Psalm 56:13 // For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.

happy spring my friends! i hope that this season is filled with much cleaning…both of your homes and your hearts!

xoxo, autumn

 

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Why men get addicted to porn //

By March 18, 2014 Addiction + Healing

There’s a million ways a man can be exposed to pornography, sometimes by accident and sometimes intentionally. Regardless of how it happens, it plants a seed. I remember the first time I saw pornography was through my father who had Playboy magazines in his bathroom. It wasn’t a, “Hey son, come here and look at these” kind of situation but it definitely wasn’t hidden away in some secret spot; it was out in the open to stumble upon. That was my exposure and I was in the ballpark of 7 or 8 years old. Whether accidental or purposeful, every guy can tell you the story of when they first saw porn and in most cases that time was not the last.

Since I was younger, pornography has become a lot more accessible and men have begun to be exposed to it earlier and earlier. The media blasts sex and the internet promotes and lures in with provocative advertisements…sex sells. There’s a reason marketing and advertising companies use provocatively dressed women and sex…it’s because it works. They’ve tuned into the fact that men are easily swayed and pulled into an attractive woman that should be wearing more.

There’s something that happens on a physiological and a physical level when a man sees pornography. If you’re older and you’ve seen a lot of pornography, there’s an engrained path your brain follows when it sees pornography. First, it sees the image and then your brain associates that to pleasure. Typically, not always, viewing pornography leads to masturbation. I said it, masturbation. Masturbation, masturbation, masturbation. So, a man sees pornography and the brain goes, “Wait! I know what’s coming next”. The mans’ brain starts to make that connection and that pattern becomes engrained making it easier for that process to occur. As that pattern progresses, another one begins to form. When a man thinks about viewing pornography, the brain starts to know the whole process that follows…looking at porn, fantasizing, and then masturbation. Just as before, this pattern becomes engrained in the brain making that pathway in your brain larger. As that pathway enlarges it becomes harder and harder to break that neural pathway and it becomes easier to fill.

There’s a chemical release that happens in the body when a man masturbates, this chemical is known as endorphins. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus within vertebrates during exercise, excitement, pain, spicy food consumption, love and sexual activity. The amount of endorphins released in your system gives a greater ‘high’ to the body then when you do drugs. So, it’s no wonder that this can be an addictive “substance” that you feel like you can never get enough of and are always in need of.

I explain all of this because this is usually an unknown factor when a man’s trying to battle not looking at pornography. There’s the thought of, “Well I can just quit, not look at it and not be tempted…I can just will it away”. 99 out of 100 men who just try to stop looking at pornography again end up failing. Why? Because of it’s addictive nature. Just like a drug your body is now expecting and needing that level of endorphins to be released in your body. Your body and your psyche go through withdrawals, much like you would with an alcohol or drug addiction which, surprise, is usually the time that men fall back into it.

Another reason men turn to pornography is because, when viewing pornography we have the ultimate power. In real life, women don’t want sex all the time and are not objects that are to be used to fulfill our sexual needs. When life isn’t going the way we think it should, we get stressed and we can’t control women in our lives…however a man can control women in fantasy and in pornography. The women in pornography will never say “no” and are always there when things aren’t going right in life. Pornography becomes a comforter because it’s something that gives us the filling of being in charge, it creates this illusion and fantasy that the women can be controlled and do as we please. Obviously you can see how this would trickle into and effect a marriage when a man starts to think this way about how women should act and behave. It isn’t good and slowly edges away at any relationship.

There are some great books out there that I would highly recommend that go into detail about the effect pornography and sexual addiction have on the brain. The Final Freedom by Dr. Doug Weiss and Addiction and Grace by Gerald May go into depth about the effects addiction has on the body and brain. Bottom line is this, if you struggle with this, you can’t get healing on your own. Just like rehab for alcohol and drugs, you need to detox and understand what addiction really is and how to combat it. The hardest part, is acknowledging that you can’t do it on your own and that you need help, which means letting your pride down. As a man that’s walked through this process, I know from experience that this was the hardest step; admitting I had an issue, acknowledging I couldn’t do it on my own and that I needed help. Everyone who has taken that first step though will tell you that they wish that they would have done it sooner, because there is freedom and healing to be found. Take a leap of faith, be courageous, and let someone in who can help. Another big lie that you’ll believe is that you’re the only one who struggles with this and that if you tell someone, they’re going to look down on you and think less of you. This is in fact every man’s battle and every man has faced it or continues to struggle through it.

I, for one, would think you courageous for being vulnerable in sharing that you struggle with porn addiction and would love to play a part in walking with you through the journey of healing. I know for me there were some key men that walked through this journey with me. There was Brian Holcombe who was/is my counselor who walked me through recovery and Matt Tisthammer, a dear friend, who met with me every week to talk and stand by me through it all. There was also Heart to Heart Counseling Center where there are healing groups where men meet every week to just be real and open and vulnerable with their journey through recovery.

You can’t do it alone, I can’t stress that enough and the more you think you can, the longer you will go without the healing we all desire in our hearts.

-James

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resurrection life //

By March 14, 2014 Inspiration

you know those moments in life when you’re really against going somewhere (even though you know it’s going to be really great) and deep within your spirit you have this on-going battle with your flesh? no? just me? i thought so.

this past weekend, i got to attend my very first young life women’s retreat in the beautiful mountains of colorado. we stayed at the trail west camp which is tucked away in the small town of buena vista, about two hours from my home. it was my first time attending this particular women’s retreat and if i’m honest, i didn’t really want to go. i have these, well, irrational fears when i leave my husband, like….what if i get into a car accident and he can’t get to me, what if he gets into an accident, what if something happens to molly (our golden retriever/lab puppy), or the most dreaded question…what if james decides that he misses his addiction and cheats on me. even though james has been sober for 19 months, the fear of him leaving me still creeps into my mind. it’s not very often nowadays, but i’d be lying if i said those thoughts and fears just disappeared the moment he started recovery.

i drove up with three other ladies, two of which i work with at young life. it was very snowy and visibility was terrible at times so the three of us decided if the roads got too bad that we would all be okay turning around and going home. apparently, the lord wanted us to get there friday night cause we made it through the storm and got to the camp safe and sound. more than half of the women who signed up didn’t make it up the mountain until saturday morning cause the snow storm was so bad, so friday night was really chill. the retreat was run how a typical young life weekend at camp is ran, but for grown-ups. there was an ongoing skit at all the teaching sessions, the sessions were actually called “club”, and the songs we sang were a great mix of camp songs and worships songs. it was a really great experience as far as seeing how young life runs their camps. one day, if the lord opens doors for james and i to get more involved with this amazing organization, i’d love to go to a high school camp as a leader!

shelley sadler, who is on staff with young life but lives in denver, was the speaker for the weekend as well as the worship leader. i had never heard her name before nor met her, but as soon as she started speaking, i knew that it was going to be good. she shared her testimony of having never been married and how right before her 50th birthday she suffered a stroke. it was amazing to hear how the lord healed her and what a miracle it is that she is alive! she was so comical, easy going, and the holy spirit poured out of her. for the first time in a really long time, i sat in my seat, observed, and admired an older woman and said in my heart, “lord, i want to be like shelley when i grow up.” the “topic” if you will, of the weekend was on living the resurrection life. the passage we read through was this:

“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28:1-7

the very first question that shelley asked was, “why do you think the angel came to the tomb and rolled the stone away? was it because Jesus needed him to? was Jesus not powerful enough to move it himself?” i had actually never thought about this before. the angel came to roll away the stone because the women needed to see that Jesus wasn’t in there anymore. we as humans needed proof to see that the dark tomb was in fact empty. Jesus experienced death, darkness, and solitude, but he left it all behind.

resurrection life is leaving the darkness and death of life behind and living forward, just as Christ did.

we are more content in going back to the past because it’s easier and safer. we find that it’s easier putting our energy in going back to those moments that are painful and living (or staying) in those moments. we would rather live a life of victimization or hurt or fear than joy and peace. we would rather hover around the tomb because it’s safe there, it’s familiar. but Christ, He calls us to live forward…even when it’s risky and scary and it’s out of our control. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus came so that we can live the resurrection life; He freely offers it to us, we just have to say “yes”.

and that’s exactly what i was doing on the car ride up the mountain. i was going back to that place of fear…fears that involved james going back to his addiction. i was going back to the “tomb”. the moment i asked myself, “am i willing to step away from the tomb, from the darkness of the past, and follow the one who gives me life?” i felt peace. it doesn’t happen very often, but i do find myself going back to those dark places of james and i’s past. i doubt and have fears, however over the past few years, i’ve been a lot better at letting james know when i’m experiencing those fears. he is so patient and loving to me in those moments. i’ve also learned to be quick to pray and surrender those fears over to the Lord. i can’t live a life of freedom by hovering around the “tomb.” i love this quote by max lucado,

“fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness.”

i’ve tasted God’s goodness over and over again. why would i keep going back to that place where there is no life? i can’t do anything to get myself out of the “tomb” mindset but say “yes” to Him who conquered death and darkness. resurrection life is allowing the Lord to lead me out of that darkness, into His great light, and allowing Him to define me, not the things of the past, not what the world says about me, but who Christ says i am. in Him i am free and i am no longer defined by james and i’s past. when we make the decision to leave the past behind us and follow Him, that’s exactly where we belong. we belong in the light. we’re home.

needless to say, it was a really amazing weekend that my heart needed. it was wonderful getting to spend quiet time with the Lord, drinking hot tea, and looking out at the gorgeous snow covered mountains. and of course, it was great getting to meet other women who work for young life. i can’t wait to go again next year!

xoxo, autumn

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verse of the month – set free //

By March 1, 2014 Memorize

if you’re new to the blog, then welcome! james and i live in beautiful colorado. however, in the winter, when all the snow and frost has melted, it’s really dry, brown, and ugly. it’s looked like that all week, so i thought that i would dig out some pictures from our trip to northern california this past summer to look at greenery! these photos were taken at muir woods national park…one of the prettiest and most tranquil places i’ve been. looking at these pictures got me really excited for spring time when all the trees start growing leaves and the flowers start blooming!

beautiful, huh?

anyways, last month i started a “series” if you will, to me help get into the routine of memorizing scripture every month. i figured if i wrote it on here for others to read, it would help keep me accountable and maybe others would want to focus on a scripture a month as well! for february i wrote the scripture down and put it at my desk at work and on our fridge so that i could see it and read it everyday. it went really well! this month i will do the same.

if you read my last post, it was about the effects of porn in marriage. i got so many comments and emails from women who have fought the same fight with their husband and i realized how much freedom there truly is when we share our testimony to others and that freedom came from christ alone. so…this month, the theme is being set free!

“it was for freedom that christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” galatians 5:1

i love this verse. i love that christ came to this earth to set us free, that we have an opportunity and a responsibility to stand firm in the word, and that we no longer are slaves to sin because of christ’s death and resurrection. i think it’s pretty incredible! i also love how charles wesley captures the christian experience of this liberation in one of his great hymns:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.

My chains fell off, my heart was free;

I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

remember, if you are also memorizing scripture, you can do the same verse that i put on here or pick a verse that relates to a season you’re in.

here’s to being set free my friends!
xoxo, autumn

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