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Showing posts from October, 2012

What Has My Attention?

"Whatever get my attention, gets me" One night everyone was sound asleep and I had to get up to go to the bathroom. (Seems to happen more and more the older I get) What I didn't know, was at the very same time my wife was getting up to use the restroom and we met at the very same time at the bathroom door, in a completely dark room.  We bumped into each other and both started yelling. Me: "Ahhhhhhhh!!!  My wife, "it's me, it's me!" Talk about getting my attention.  I nearly karate chopped her. :) In my recovery, there are times that I will be walking thru my day, expecting certain things to happen a certain way, when all of the sudden, BAM! I get blindsided with something completely unexpected.  The question is, will I be prepared to face those temptations and struggles? Thru CR I am learning that the only way I can resist temptations & deal with daily struggles is to refocus my mind onto positive truths.  There is an old saying, “Rats don&…

Help Is On The Way

Help is on the way! Sitting in my quiet time this morning thinking about the question, "does time heal all wounds?" I am learning that my wounds may not heal in my timing but they will in His timing. I am learning that part of the healing & growth is the process of getting me to the healing.  I am glad that the Father's timing will bring healing and for what He teaches me thru that. I am reminded that though many things change around me, one thing remains constant, and that is the loving Father.  Today, I choose to reach out to take the hand of the most constant thing in my life; the hand of the Father. He is not only able, willing, caring & loving, He is constant!  “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called." 1Timothy 6:12 Whatever battle you are facing today, Hold on friend, help is on the way!! Rodney Holmstrom

You Are To Be Thanked

"Please allow me to buy you lunch." This past week a dear brother in our ministry made that statement to me. He said it was pastor appreciation month and he wanted to just say thanks for serving. Wow! That was so kind of him to do this. I was truly humbled cause he was the one to be thanked as one of our volunteers. That afternoon, I began thinking about all our volunteers. As a leader, there is absolutely no way possible for me to do what I do if we don't have volunteers. Our volunteers selflessly come week in and week out to give of their hearts and souls, let alone their time, to help the hurting. There is an old saying, “If you love other people's children, you will love your own even more."  When I think about all our volunteers, I think of people who pour love into other hurting people like they are their own. They truly view the people they serve as their own family. We call them forever family. You all are pastors in ministry and I am honored to serve al…

I Am Powerless

"That's just an excuse for you!" I remember one time having a conversation with a parole officer about these three words in step one, "we were 'powerless'." They had the wrong understanding of what it meant to say them. What it is NOT saying is that I can't help myself, I'm just going to keep on doing what I do and I have no control over stopping. No that would be me saying I am in charge and will keep playing God in my life. This is saying there is no power in the blood to overcome anything.  What those three words are really saying is that apart from Christ, living in the flesh, I can do nothing. But, by admitting my weakness and surrendering with full dependence, everything to the Father, there is great strength & hope.  Why? Because He is now in control of my life and has the power I don't have to help me overcome. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I ca…

The "Rest" Of The Song

What a beautiful song! Have you ever listened to a music band and choir play and sing a song and then all of the sudden, in unison, it all stops suddenly? It is so cool! Jesus is building a beautiful musical score that we are all a part of called life of recovery. In this score there are harmonies, and notes that paint the skies with beauty. Isn't it interesting, though, that we forget about one important element written in this musical score, the "rests". These are just as much a part of the overall score and composition He has written.  The beautiful thing about the "rests" Is that they build incredible power for when the music starts again. This is why principle 7 in CR is so important isn't it? Reserve a daily time with God, for self Examination & prayer, why? So that we can "rest" and examine our hearts and actions from the previous day. Actions that might be creating some bad notes that don't match the Fathers plan or composition. …

Thankful For A Praying Wife

Do you hear the whispers? Many years ago when my son was very young, he had a really high fever. I was not aware but my wife Carol's motherly instincts told her to go check on him in the middle of the night. So glad she did cause his fever had spiked & was so high. His little body was letting off incredible heat. My wife gave him medicine and took care of him. Here was what was so special for me to witness as a dad and husband though.  My wife was leaning over our son Jason, with her face close to his as he slept. She was whispering desperate prayers to our Father in a scary situation. This was not just a simple prayer but a lengthy conversational prayer with our Father.  I will never forget the joy and excitement my wife had when she came back into the bedroom and awoke me. With tears in her eyes, she shared what had happened with his fever spiking and how she had prayed. Then she told me that his fever broke and he was sweating! Wow! What a gift from the Father.  What a gif…

Shhh, The Little Boy Sleeps

I was a little boy in a man's body. Looking back on my past I can see the little boy, Rodney, that I would refer back to when things got tough as an adult. The little boy inside me would run and hide when opposed. Due to some pretty traumatic stuff in my life from men, the little boy would isolate from others, especially men. I would even lash out as a defense, even throw a tantrum to those threatening or challenging me. I had no real relationships with anyone. I kept everyone at a distance to try and protect myself. What I love about CR is it teaches me how to respond to life's problems as a man and no longer the little boy I was for so long.  There is an old proverb that says, “Don't tell any more fairy tales when the child has gone to sleep." For many years I lived life as that little boy listening to the enemies fairy tale lies and even took it into my marriage. I had unresolved stuff that I had not dealt with, keeping me handcuffed emotionally to a 9 year old bo…

Here Comes The Best Part

You are gonna love this movie! Ever been to a movie that someone else has already seen and they are right there with you experiencing the movie with you? It can be frustrating sometimes with the "are you watching?Watch this part...or oh I love this part." Sometimes I just need to be able to experience the great movie the same way you did and not be spoon fed line by line. When we have experienced something great, we want so badly for others to as well but sometimes this can be a negative. I want to experience the process of watching the entire film the way others did. In recovery this can happen too. I want so badly for people to experience what I have and ultimately can just get in the way of what God is trying to do. It is frustrating when people close to me need help so desperately but they just refuse to take the steps toward freedom. This can be discouraging but I am reminded thru the years in working with lots of hurting people that I can't make people recover. …

I Got Stung!

I got stung! When I was a little boy I was playing in our backyard that had a bunch of trees. I ran across a tree that was down and decided to see if I could walk across it keeping my balance. Well, I didn't make it and my foot slipped causing me to fall down right next to the downed tree. The bad part about it was that hidden away in the brush next to the tree was a large nest of sleeping bees. Let's just say they weren't sleeping for long after I stuck my foot in their face. Mom counted my stings and found that I was stung 15 times. Ouch! To this day, I am very "aware" of bees when they come around. :) This doesn't mean I will never go into wooded areas again though. Someone once said, “When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees." There have been times in my life that I have been crippled with fear and as a result stayed frozen in my muck. "what if I get stung?" When I choose to live for Christ, the enemy will not an…

Blessed....

"Here is what I would like for you to do" Isn't it sweet to get to a point in our life when we hear those words from our Father. I used to believe that there was no way God could use such messed up broken people. But to the contrary, it is because of my brokenness and surrender to Him that I can be used. Yesterday I got to see over 500 people in this scenario. One of the sweetest things I get to have is a front row seat to watch broken people give back in service. Pastor Rick Warren said it well when he wrote, "Nothing matters more than knowing God's purposes for your life, and nothing can compensate for not knowing." The volunteers across the world serving in CR are some of the most grateful and giving people you will ever see. What a treat to see this example yet again here in Chicago with 100 volunteers serving with the greatest joy? Who were they serving? New leaders of new CR's that will hopefully start this next year. Also existing leaders lookin…

I Love You Dad

I love you dad! As a dad, on of the things that warms my heart is to hear my precious daughter utter those words. What a joy to hear a young man, my son say these words to his dad too. What is even better though is when they show me their love by coming to their dad to give me a hug. Wow! Now you are really seeing a blessed man! In all the testimonies I hear across the country and even world thru CR, it is such a treat to hear stories of reconciliation. What a joy to see a mom or dad speak of their kids and their renewed relationship. No matter what age, race, gender, or background we all seem to have the same common ingredient, we love to hear and feel love from our kids. Anytime someone is speaking of a special moment from their kids, including myself, there seems to be the inevitable "silent" moment. You know, that moment right before the tears start to flow. Then we begin talking of our love for our kids, and bam, the tears start to flow with love, compassion and joy. …

What Pictures Are You Taking?

Look mom! I can remember a trip I took to see my mom one time. She was pretty sick and in the hospital once again where she spent most of her last few years of her life. While I was there, a good friend of mine called me to tell me he wanted to give me a hotel room so I could rest if needed. I can remember telling my mom how nice it was of this brother in Christ to do this for me. She was so intrigued about this room. She said "son, take pictures of every part of the room." kind of funny cause it was just a regular hotel room but she was intrigued. As she looked at these pictures, she was white eyed and smiling. "oh that is so nice. Wow, look at that tub..." etc, etc. She was like a little kid. Kind of funny how the smallest memories can pop up about stuff but as  sat in my hotel room last night, I recalled this fun memory. Three months after I showed my phone pics to my mom sitting there in the hospital, she went home to be with the Lord. I can still remember …

This Tastes Good!

What a feast! This tastes great but, why am I still hungry? I used to be a professional "message listener." I could listen with the best of them. I was the one sitting in church listening to some of the greatest sermons from some of the greatest men you will ever meet. I would walk out of the doors feeling great, "what a great message pastor." So why wasn't I changing? I wasn't digesting what I had just chewed on. You see, I really enjoyed chewing on wisdom but the actual digesting part was another story. Imagine if I only chewed the food that I put in my mouth but never swallowed it? My muscles would begin to weaken, my bones would become brittle, and my body would slowly fade away from the lack of nutrients.  "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like".James1:23-24 CR has taught me to not just c…

How Do You Like Your Eggs?

How do you like your eggs?  I can remember as a young boy going to the grocery store to buy eggs for my mom. In her instructions she was very clear when it came to buying eggs. "make sure you open the carton and check for cracked eggs". If I opened the carton and one is cracked or broken, I was instructed to just "put it back on the shelf" and keep looking for one that has a full un-cracked dozen.  As I was thinking about this, I couldn't help but relate it back to my life. For so long in my life, I viewed God as the one opening the carton and looking down on me amongst other people on this earth. I knew I was the cracked and broken egg and surrounded with people that had it all together. Some thoughts would run thru my head like, "Why was I so messed up and everyone else had such a perfect life? Why am I the only cracked egg around here? I know God can't use me and will just stick me back on the shelf to be disposed of later." Fortunately, look…

Are You Sure You Want To Delete?

"Are you sure you want to permanently delete?" Yesterday I looked at my email "deleted" and "sent" files and boy was it full. I mean in the 1000's of emails from many, many weeks ago sitting there that needed to be permanently deleted. One of my concerns about deleting these old emails is it seems like as soon as I do this I end up needing one or two to refer back to. And if I delete it for good then I am in trouble. The problem though is that if I don't clean these files out periodically, it can cause not just my system to run slow but can affect the entire organization.   Even yesterday when I selected the messages and hit delete, I had this "what if" thought go thru my mind again when the message read, "Are you sure you want to permanently delete?" How often do take have this same approach with my life? Do I have some things in my life that I am afraid to delete cause "I may need to go back to it later when things get…

But Watch Yourself...

"Did you look both ways Rodney?" I was dropping my daughter off at the mall yesterday and came upon a crosswalk. It was interesting for me that so many people just walked across the street without even looking. They didn't even hesitate.  How do they really know that the vehicles would stop? Because it is a crosswalk, yes, they were in the right path and yes they had the right to cross. And Yes, as a driver of a vehicle I am supposed to stop for pedestrians. But, to cross without any regard to those around you is foolish in my opinion. This struck me with some thoughts about my life, recovery and how relapse plays into our life. I can be walking along doing what I am supposed to be doing and following the Lord, even walking across the street in the exact path the Lord wants me to walk. But, there is still the risk and chance that I could get struck by an enemy seeking to take me out. If you have ever known someone that has relapsed, as most of us have in some way, the…

I Am Grateful For Saliva?

Are you grateful for saliva? I know, what a question huh? I heard from a dear friend and brother this past week talking about how we have to be grateful for the small things? Why is he grateful for saliva? Cause he has had stage 4 cancer on his tongue and lost 80% of his tongue. They had to take part of his thigh to reconstruct his tongue. They said he would never speak again but today, thru lots of hard work and blessings from God, he is speaking and using his past hurts for God's glory. Wow! Puts a whole new outlook on gratitude for me. Here is a man that has been in a battle and understands what it means to be grateful.  I know sometimes in my own walk I can get overwhelmed and thru the enemies persistence forget what to be thankful for. Yesterday I had one of those days. I was just in a funk and feeling down. Don't you just hate the enemy?! Me too! I immediately reached out to my sponsor, accountability team, forever family and my wife. (thanks for praying family) I also …

Are You Better Off Today?

Are you better off today? With all the stuff we hear in this political season one of the things we hear from both sides is asking the question, "Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago." This got me to thinking about my personal recovery. I can put so much weight on my happiness coming from what other people do for me, say to me, provide for me, or what is happening around me.  As we get ready to celebrate 9 years of celebrate recovery here at our church the question that pops up is, "Rodney, are you in a better place today in your walk with Christ than you were 9yrs, 4yrs,  or even one year ago?  Last year I challenged those in attendance at our 8yr celebration to take that step toward a better, healthier and more joy filled life in Christ. This morning, many, many faces & families come to mind of people that took me up on that offer. What joy in my heart as I think about the growth from just one year ago.  Some of our forever family have experienced …

I Am A Perfectionist

I am a perfectionist, but getting better. One way this character defect has bogged me down thru the years is making sure everything is always perfect. I allowed very little room for mistakes to happen without beating myself up. That can be exhausting.  But one of the other ways the enemy can use this defect is to keep me frozen. If I don't take that step, well then I can't possibly fail, right? That's the lie the enemy can feed me and truth be told, not doing something because of fear of failure can be the real failure. I am not as smart as some or have the best skill sets but I am learning that this is ok. That is the beauty of the body of Christ. God gives each of us a special purposes. Someone once said, “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.” I am so grateful this morning that He is not looking for skillful and perfect people to do His work. He is looking for available people that have teachable hearts…

I Am Afraid of This Roller Coaster!

"I am so afraid!" Ever been in that situation where it just seems like you can take another surprise?  Years ago my family and I went to Sea World and when we walked into the park, the largest roller coaster you can imagine was standing before us, almost taunting us. I don't remember what it was called but I am sure it was called "Death Monster" or something. :) Anyway, my daughter was pretty young at the time and when she saw this (I mean even from the parking lot walking in) she was convinced that she needed to ride this ride.  Finally at the end of the day; when she persistently stayed the course with her request to get on this ride, we got on it.  She was excited, and ready to go. Then the ride began it's climb on the most steep incline I have ever seen. I looked at my daughter and saw the color in her face begin to change. She had this look of terror and retreat & and regret written all over her face.  Finally when we got to the top, there was a p…

Why Is This Mtn So Big?

"Yeah but...this mountain is bigger than the last one." Isn't it interesting that when we face obstacles, trials, and tough mountains in our life it seems as though this one is the toughest? Wonder why that is.  As I look back on my life the Lord has helped me to climb some enormous mountains. When I was facing those, they were the biggest Mtns imaginable.   Have you ever looked at a Mtn in your rear view mirror while driving away from it? It gets smaller and smaller doesn't it? In the same way, now as I have moved forward, those Mtns in the distance behind me look so small. The Mtns of today seem much bigger. Why? Cause they are right in front of me.  I am challenged this morning to remember that even though those challenges of yesterday seem so small and distant, to never forget how big those Mtns were that the Lord pulled me up in my past. The same God of power that guided me up the enormous Mtns of yesterday, is the same God of power that will help me up today&#…

You Make Me Better

Look around you; Who is standing around you? There is a temptation to want to put people around us that are weaker than we are so that we "look better". Right? If they are incapable of handling situations and "need" me to take care of stuff; that makes me more valuable doesn't it? Actually, no, it makes me less valuable.   I am learning thru lots of mistakes and growing that it is so much better to surround myself with people who are much much better than I am. When I do this it sharpens me and makes all of us better.  People want to be a part of something healthy and growing. The only way my personal ministry can grow healthy is thru searching for better people than I am to stand in the gaps. Someone once said, "A real Superman is not afraid to stand next to a Superwoman" I am no superman but, there is truth to this statement. Do I get intimidated in having super people around me that will challenge my thinking, leadership and skill sets? May this n…

Producing vs Bearing fruit

Can I "produce" fruit, or do I "bear" the fruit? Interesting thought for me this morning. I used to believe that once God dealt with my past, cleansed my heart, got me back on track, and living on His path, that it was time for me to take off as a healthy runner for the Kingdom. What I am learning now though, is that I must take off and run for His glory but, that I must run "with" the Father and not solo. Solo running got me into trouble in my past.  Once I get to the point of growth and renewed and sound mind, then it is the time that I get to "bear" the fruit of all the work me and the Father have done together. Notice I didn't say, time for me to "produce" the fruit. CR has taught me that the Father is the one who produces the fruit in my family, ministry... my life. He produces it and then I can bear the fruit He has produced thru our journey together. The only way He can produce fruit in my life is thru a continued self exa…

Plowing The Fields

One of the things I enjoy about being in this ministry is the timeout sessions we have with our great volunteers. We have some amazing people serving in the ministry of CR and they all do so much for the Kingdom. Our monthly ministry meetings are our timeout sessions as a team. These are an opportunity to sharpen our saws.   This morning in our leaders meeting we "get to" stop and sharpen ourselves as we focus on Life Skills as men and women. “You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind." Irish proverb Our training meetings are a great way to plan, equip, encourage, fellowship, prepare, and sharpen our blades in the plow. “A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might."Prov24:5 So grateful for one of our CR training coaches taking the lead on this meeting and pouring into our great leaders. It will be exciting to see the many fields that are plowed followed by great seeds planted into the lives of many hurting and strug…

Is Everyone Staring At Me?

"What kind of dressing would you like sir?" Many years ago I was working as a retail store manager and received a gift card from my employees to a real nice restaurant. What a nice gift.  When my wife and I got to the restaurant we figured out real quick that we were a bit underdressed. Most had suits on and I was in khakis and a nice shirt. Carol had a nice sun dress on and looked great but we both immediately felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. We made our way to the table and a short time later the waiter came to take our order. Amongst other things I ordered, I also got a salad. The waiter asked me, "what kind of dressing would you like sir?" my response, "what kind do you have?"  He then went on to name all these fancy dressing names that made no sense. So, when he got done, in my state of confusion, I asked him, "....you got any ranch?" The waiter gave me a look of shock and slight disgust and replied, "you mean green herb?" I …

What Do I Worship?

From my wife: What are my idols? Who am I worshipping? On my way to work today, I heard a song on the radio that I had not heard in a long time and it smacked me right between the eyes!  I don't think I really had even listened to the lyrics of the song very closely before. The song talked about how God is the only One worthy of our worship.   Being someone who sings and plays a little, most of the time, I think of worship as being music. But as I thought about the lyrics to this song, I really thought about the ways that I could worship God in every aspect of my life. When I hear a bird sing or see the leaves change colors...when I hear my husband and children laugh because of the Joy that He has placed in their hearts...when things are going all wrong, but I know God is in control...all those things...He must be worshipped!   Then comes the bridge of the song and the tears started flowing. They lyrics say this,  "Anything I put before my God, is an idol Anything I want with…

What Would You Say To Him?

What would you say to him? Would you say well done, or don't give up? One of the things I have my guys do at the conclusion of their CR step group, is write themselves a letter to be opened one year letter. Their instructions, "what would you want this man one year from now to know?" This past week we got the group of us back together so I could hand them their sealed envelope letter they had written.  Wow! Pretty powerful having a front row seat as these men read these heart felt letters. It truly blessed my heart. This got me to thinking about life. We are going to face life challenges, death of love ones, sickness, relapses, relationship struggles, job loss, and more. Someone once said, “Every path has its puddle." The fact is, we will all face puddles, sometimes oceans of struggles in our life. Knowing that life will have its struggles, what would you write to yourself for the man or woman to read later? It really is more than, "you can do this!" isn…

A Life of Trials

"Get me out of this...now!" In those seasons of pain and struggles, it is only natural for us to want to get out of it fast.  Some of the most difficult times in my life have proven to be the most life growing & strengthening times as well. It has been said, “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials."  This is true in my life as a brother, son, dad, husband and child of God.  When I look back on those tough times, I can honestly say, though not pleasant, they made me a better man today. They have prepared me for today and tomorrows trials by leaning into the Father.  "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."James 1:2-4 MSG Today, in your …

Not Walking Alone

"I can do this all by myself thank you! If I was strong I wouldn't need anyone to help me. I just need to pull myself up by the boot straps and make it happen." Ever thought any those thoughts? I sure have and they only lead me to isolation and disappointment. The fact is I need people in my life and that is what community is all about. We need Christ AND each other.  Christ did not intend for me to face daily battles alone. I have Him and those He places in my life. He is working thru those men and women to help me face daily battles. “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion."  In the same way, when we as a forever family unite in Christ we can tie up the enemy and accomplish big things for the Kingdom. By myself, I am weak. I can't even tell you the number of times I have seen and experienced for myself being in those tough times and having people to reach out to.  I am learning that loneliness is a choice in my life. Thru CR I have learned that my pri…