Finding & Balancing Relationships that Last

How many friends do you have? 20, 50, 100, 200, 300 or more? Well, maybe if you are counting friends on Facebook you can say you have hundreds of friends. But I’m not talking about Facebook friends! Social media is not an indication of real friendship.

Won't you be my friend?

Won’t you be my friend?

I mean true friends—people with whom you can share your fears, your struggles, your hopes, and your dreams.  People who will pray for you and encourage you through the ups and downs of life.

Unlike many of my posts, this is not a reflective piece.  It is educational.  I hope it challenges you, as it has me, in the way you think about your relationships and who you invite into your circle of friendship.

One of my Favorite Speakers

Last summer, I attended the Celebrate Recovery (CR) Summit at Saddleback Church, California, in preparation for my mission to Europe. One of the speakers at the conference was Dr. John Townsend, a New York Times bestselling author, business consultant, leadership coach, and Christian psychologist. (John and Dr. Henry Cloud have been annual speakers at the CR Summit since it started over 20 years ago.)

Dr. Townsend wove his testimony into a talk about the six categories of relationship—the six ‘Cs’. Some of these principles are in his book How to be a Best Friend Forever and will also be in his forthcoming book The Entitlement Cure.

A few years ago, Dr. Townsend was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, a temporary condition that affected the muscle control on the left side of his face. It was a wake-up call for him to reevaluate his workaholic lifestyle and who he was spending his time with. While his talk was geared to an audience of 3,000 Celebrate Recovery leaders, it was pertinent to anyone who wants to live well and succeed in their relationships.

Six Categories of Relationships

As you read this list of relationship categories, think about the people around you and where they may fall on the list. Our relationships should be focused heavily on the first 2-3 categories.

  1. Coaches—We need people with an expertise we don’t have. Examples of a coach would be a spiritual mentor, pastor, or a life coach. A coach is there for you, not for themselves. They can help you to see your blind spots, where your priorities aren’t properly aligned, and where you are not thinking right. (In CR lingo, this would be a sponsor.)
  2. Comrades—These are people who are in the growth process with you. They want to get better. They support you, and you support them. You challenge each other. It is not necessarily 50/50. There will be times when you rely on them more, or vice versa. It is organic and results in a give and take relationship. (In CR lingo, this would be an accountability partner.)
  3. Casuals—These are nice people that you pass the time with, maybe like your neighbors, or people from church. They are generally not into growth, but may be hungry for it. You can risk small amounts of vulnerability with them, and see if they are hungry for it. Often times they don’t know they need it because they’ve not witnessed it before. Casuals are a drafting pool for finding comrades.
  4. Care—These are people you have compassion for. They may be in a domestic violence shelter or be mentally ill. They have nothing to offer you, but you have a lot to offer them. It feels good to be in this kind of relationship; it is caring, but is not reciprocal.
  5. Chronics—These are victims—people who are whiny, full of blame, and clueless. They don’t want to change. They are attracted to people of Light because of their safety, truth and grace.
  6. Contaminants—These people are dark, toxic, judging, controlling, and destructive. They know what they are doing. We need to protect ourselves from these people.

Are you ‘top heavy’ or ‘bottom heavy’ on your relationship scale?

If your relationships are draining you, then you are spending too much time with people who are not pouring anything back into you. That is not healthy and leads to burnout.

friend-encouragement

Do you have a balance of supportive relationships in your life?

Guarding Your Heart

What John found out about himself is that as much as he liked to have his freedom, he realized that he needed to have some coaches around him. So he took a friend’s advice and hired an advisory board of people he trusted to help him with his priorities and to work more efficiently.

As hard as this was for him, he also realized it was biblical. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” He shifted his attention to the top three categories.  The fruit of those decisions led to John opening the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling at Huntington University, Indiana, a few days ago.

Dr. Townsend went on to say that Christians often confuse the ‘Care’ for the ‘Comrades.’ Because it feels good to care for others, we can mistake those we care for as our friends. These are hard lessons to learn. I know because I’ve been there before myself, and have gone through some painful pruning in my relationships as well.

Being Selfish?

John encourages people to push past the feelings of guilt.  To keep from getting emotionally drained, he recommends having a 30-minute conversation with three people once a week—at a minimum.  These are not conversations about what you did (like the feeding frenzy on social media).

The conversation needs to be about you, your life, your soul, and your feelings.  It’s about how you are experiencing life.  If you are a high performing leader, like those in CR, this is especially important as they have high performing needs.

This may sound selfish, but it is really a matter of investing in yourself so that you can minister to others—in your family, your community, or your church. The intent is to live well and end well in life.

It’s not a competition with a sprint to the finish line collecting as many friends on social media as we can along the way. It’s a marathon; and the prize is an eternal reward for the healthy care we have given to ourselves and others throughout our lives.

Comrades pressing on together.

Comrades pressing on together.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14, NIV)

On Mission for God, Part 3 ~ Not Standing Alone

I just returned from the 3-day Celebrate Recovery (CR) Summit at Saddleback Church in Southern California.  The worship songs are still running through my brain.  I am totally fired up and excited to move forward in serving in this ministry.  I venture to guess that there isn’t a single person out of the 3,400 attendees who doesn’t feel similarly.  The Summit is like CR on steroids with thousands of people who all want to bring or advance this ministry of hope and healing at their churches.

CR Summit 138

On the Saddleback campus

International Mission Focus

This was my third trip to the Summit in my ten years of recovery.  My previous two trips were with leader teams from two different churches.  This time I traveled alone, representing Pine Lake Covenant Church (PLCC), where I now serve as a CR leader.  I was sent as an envoy for the international mission I am leading to Spain in the fall.

My focus for this Summit was to meet other CR leaders who run this program in foreign countries and learn as much as possible about their unique obstacles and cultural differences.  Although I’m an introvert by nature, for this 3-day Summit, I was a woman on a mission with a razor sharp focus–meet international leaders.

I attended the session on International Mission Strategy and a late night connection event with international leaders or others going on short-term CR missions abroad.  I hung out daily at the international tent meeting representatives from other countries.  On my last day at the Summit, I had a one-on-one meeting with the new director of International CR, Jana O’Guin.

Other Summit Activities

I am grateful that this wasn’t my first time to the Summit.  I knew the lay of the land:  my way around the Saddleback campus, my way around Orange County, the 3-day schedule of events, and the line-up of speakers.  Even with all of that though, the information never felt stale or boring.  It was all inspiring and encouraging with multiple sessions of daily worship, powerful testimonies of redemption, and a chance to laugh at ourselves through the biblical wisdom and wit of The Skit Guys, like “God’s Chisel.”  All of this time and money was a great investment in advancing God’s Kingdom abroad.

My favorite times were the few times I got to unwind a bit with some CR leaders over dinner.  One night it was with a group from a local CR that I met on my flight to California.  One of those leaders is also going on a mission next month to China.  My last night in California, I had a relaxing dinner with a friend who moved to California shortly after we met in CR at PLCC last year.  These recovery-related conversations served up good food for thought and were a welcome time of fellowship.

While at the Summit I also took time to meet with my favorite authors:  Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  I have been a big fan of their work since I first read “Boundaries” and “How People Grow” early on in my recovery journey.  We’ve met several times over the years.  (They’ve spoken at every Summit for the last 18 years.)  I could easily write a post just about each of their presentations.

I Don’t Stand Alone

My biggest takeaway from the Summit was that I am not alone in my Call to bring CR into another country.  Jana has been on over 25 mission trips into places like South Africa and Rwanda.  CR materials have been translated into 28 languages.

When I first started to tell other international CR leaders about my short-term mission to Spain, they eagerly suggested connecting my missionary partners in France and Spain with them.  These international CR leaders are pioneers in Christian recovery across the globe.  They have persevered over the years to break ground in their native country.  Often times they had to fund the translation and publishing of the CR materials in their native language as well.  Now it is Spain’s turn.

This is not an easy task.  It is not a ‘parachute’ ministry.  It will take follow-up trips to Spain by me, my missionary partner from France, or others who are experienced in CR and called to share this Good News abroad.  I’m grateful that I’m not alone; and I’m grateful that the path has been blazoned before us.  We’ll do our part; the rest is up to God.

CR International Map

Countries where Celebrate Recovery is established, developing, and has been introduced.

Mission update

This week I got approval from Timberlake Church, Redmond, WA to fully fund the start-up materials for several Spanish churches and for the seminar this fall.  That was welcome news on this joint church partnership with PLCC.

Only 6 more weeks!

Only 6 more weeks!

I’ll be leaving in six weeks, and the mission is not fully funded yet.  Won’t you please consider giving to this mission of hope and healing—not just for Spain, but to share the message in France as well?  Click here to donate online or fill out my contact form to support the cause through prayer.

If you live locally, I’m inviting you to hear me speak on Monday, August 18, 7 PM at Pine Lake Covenant Church in Sammamish, WA.  I’ll be casting the vision for the mission and sharing more about CR International endeavors and my Call to Spain.  Hope to see you there.

Qualified or Called, Part 1 ~ Learning to Serve

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)

This verse first caught my attention early on in my recovery journey. It was the catalyst that I embraced when I started leading women’s support groups. God revealed to me in the short time that I was in recovery that he wanted to use my pain and my healing to come alongside others to encourage and support them on their journeys to wholeness.

Unqualified to qualifiedStepping up to Serve

The first group I facilitated was a Boundaries group. (It wasn’t the popular book by Drs. Cloud and Townsend. That came later in my teaching ministry.) My church was starting a recovery program with multiple groups being led with different curriculum. I was hungry for recovery and eager to share how God had redeemed my pain. However, I felt sorely unqualified to lead in this kind of setting. The ministry leader shared something with the leaders that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “You just have to be well enough.”

That was a relief to me. I didn’t have to have it all figured out. I didn’t need to perform. I needed to lead from my brokenness and my vulnerability.* That didn’t make it easy, but it helped me to let go of my pride and let God work in me in this new role with my church. You see I was, and am, a fairly capable person when it comes to project management, running large meetings, and such in the business world. However, putting myself on the front line of emotional and spiritual endeavors was totally foreign to me. And that was what God wanted. 

2 Cor. 12:9Believing you are Well Enough

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV) That is not what Satan wants—for you to serve in ministry. He is an expert at trying to get us to believe we are not good enough, smart enough, or worthy enough to serve the Lord. Don’t believe him! God wants to use you!

In time I stepped into bigger ministry roles at my church, not because I felt qualified, but because I felt called by God, or in some cases was asked. I often jumped in quickly, not realizing what I was getting myself into. Each time God was stretching me outside of my comfort zone—to coordinate a women’s retreat, speak at a women’s event, and to train the leaders that launched my church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry. Through it all, I was often reminded of a phrase I’d heard in ministry circles: “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

Answering my Next Call

Over the last few months, I’ve been preparing for God’s next call on my life. In preparation for that, I worked on a re-write of my recovery testimony. If you don’t know what that is, check out this post, What is a CR Testimony?, on the Celebrate Recovery website where I serve. Suffice it to say, it is not a small matter; and it is not a salvation testimony.

Answering the call

As I wrote it, God revealed to me the weavings and points of intersection where He was putting the people, circumstances and events in place to lead to this very time in my life. It’s been pretty profound, and has grown my faith in even bigger ways. There is so much I could write about this, but one chain of events stands out with such clarity to illustrate the way God works, and how perfect His timing is. I’ll save that for Part 2 of this series.

I’d love to hear from others who have stepped up into ministry leadership. Did you feel called? Do you presently feel qualified? How was God preparing you to serve Him?

*A great book I recommend about this leadership posture is Leading with a Limp, by Dan Allender.

This post is listed on Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays and Missional Women/Faith Filled Friday.

“You Complete Me” or Do You?

The title of this blog post was taken from a quote in the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire”.  It is in the final scene of the movie when the main character in the movie, Jerry Maguire, played by Tom Cruise, returns to his estranged wife Dorothy, played by Renée Zellweger, and tells her that she completes him.  For all the women readers out there, let’s just breathe a big sigh as we silently think to ourselves, “if only my husband felt that way”.

Wedding ringsI was in my mid-thirties at the time this movie came out and although I was already married for over ten years, I was still naive enough to think that kind of love was possible.  It’s not that that kind of love isn’t really possible.  It’s that we shouldn’t expect our spouses to complete us.  Yet that is the message that we are constantly bombarded with in the entertainment industry.  It is all over our television sets, in the theaters and in the fantasy romance novels that women can get wrapped up in.  In fact, it is fed to our children at an early age in Disney fairy tales as well.  No wonder women expect to live happily ever after when they walk down the aisle on their wedding day.

Complement, Not Complete

We are meant to complement our spouses, not complete them.  We are each to be made whole through our relationship with Christ and partner with our spouses in creating a Godly marriage.  When we expect our husbands to complete us, we are setting ourselves up for huge resentments and unmet expectations.  It is an enormous burden to place on them.  They are only human.  It is enmeshment and co-dependency at its worst.  Without the communication tools to deal with that, we end up living in misery.  I know because I lived in that place for many years.

I’ve been working on my own healing and recovery for the past nine years.  It was in a variety of spiritual and emotional healing classes and reading books like “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend that I first started to realize this and put the pieces together in my life.  It’s been a very painful process to come to terms with my own character defects and emptiness that I had in my heart.  I had to learn to turn to God to fill that hole and connect with other women who, for the most part, had also put their husbands on a pedestal and expected them to meet all of their needs.   It is epidemic in society.  I would venture to guess that unmet expectations are probably one of the leading causes of divorce.  But it doesn’t have to end that way.

There is Hope for Your Marriage

My husband and I just returned from a marriage workshop in California held by New Life Ministries.  New Life is also responsible for airing “New Life Live”, America’s #1 Christian call-in counseling ministry, hosted by Steve Arterburn.  It is a ministry that I whole-heartedly support, list on my website and use as a resource in groups that I lead.New Life Ministries

This weekend did not disappoint as I saw God show up in amazing ways and heard many testimonies of life transformation.  For me, this weekend was a wonderful opportunity to really connect at a deep level—not just with my husband, but with the other couples in our group sessions.  We left refreshed, hopeful for the future and more equipped and willing to bring healing and restoration into our marriage.

I cannot recommend New Life highly enough.  Whether your marriage needs a tune-up or a full-blown resuscitation, I encourage you to contact New Life Ministries at 1-800-NEW-LIFE to get it back on track.  You’ll be glad you did.

Suffering in the Body | By Kim Amrine | Guest Post

About 2½ years ago, a light bulb came on for me.  I was re-reading Dr. Cloud and Townsend’s book, “How People Grow.” Dr. Cloud posed a question to a group of experienced pastors, “If you had to arm your parishioners with protection from sin, how would you do it?  What do you think is the best armor you could wear?”  They had many ideas, but ultimately he pointed them to 1 Peter 4:1:  “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourself also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.”(NIV)

 Caught in the Cycle

“Oh,” I said to myself, “this isn’t going to be pretty.”  I had been in relapse in my food addiction for a year or two, after some good abstinence for a few years.  I had just completed a one year healing/recovery group and learned what mother’s and father’s roles are, and what they should provide for their children.  I had stepped out of denial and started the grief process over the holes of parenting that were in my family of origin, including being the child of two alcoholic parents.

I was attending 12-step recovery meetings regularly, journaling, reaching out to others over the phone, and none of it was working.  A friend and mentor reminded me, “You are in the process of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24 TNIV

Embracing the Pain

My relapse into food addiction and my internal pain brought me back into the therapeutic process, this time with a very seasoned and astute therapist.  It was here that I realized the only way to healing was to go through the pain.  I couldn’t minimize it, avoid it, rationalize it, or medicate it away using food.  These defenses were no longer working for me.

 The last 2 years I have been grieving a myriad of losses, deaths if you will—loss of my childhood, loss of the parents I thought I had, but didn’t, loss of many positive experiences in my marriage, loss of physical health and loss of internal peace because of my past.  I have denied, protested in anger, and cried until I thought the tears would never end. I know there are still more to come.

Letting Christ Transform Your Pain into Healing

Why do I bother doing this?  Because as one of my pastors recently said, “If we don’t let Christ transform our pain, we will transmit it.”  If I don’t enter into the healing process, my pain will either be turned inward – food addiction, depression – or transmitted and turned outward, projecting my unprocessed feelings onto those I love and care for.  My heart’s desire is to leave a positive legacy to those who enter my life and sphere of influence.

Jesus never promised an easy walk.  “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV) Out of death and dying comes resurrection and life.  I count on Jesus and the cross he bore, (and the cross that I am bearing now) to bring me through to a resurrected life.  I know that as I continue to grieve the losses of my childhood, that there will be new life on the other side.  And I don’t mean in heaven; I mean a resurrected life here on earth.

I have already experienced some of the fruit of this process of recovery and in my faith journey.  I am just going a little deeper now.  The Lord will redeem my losses, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” Joel 2:25 (TNIV) There will be redemption on the other side of my season of grief.  He is faithful and I can count on it.

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Kim & Ardis

Kim & Ardis

Kim Amrine is a grateful Believer who is passionate about healing and recovery.  She serves as Ministry Leader of Celebrate Recovery at Pine Lake Covenant Church in Sammamish, Washington, where she has led a number of groups.   Her other passions are being a wife of 37 years to Jerry, mom to two adult children, and working as a physical therapist.

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Note from Ardis ~ I’ve been blessed to walk alongside Kim and witness her courageous journey of spiritual and emotional healing.  She is a true model of vulnerability and taking the risks required to break free from past hurts, habits and hang-ups.

Thank you Kim for sharing your story of perseverance.  I hope her story encourages you or someone you know to walk through the pain, to the other side, and turn healing into hope.

Building Teams For Life

Have you ever given any thought to the how’s and whys of the relationships you have around you? As we go through life we connect with people and build relationships from a variety of sources. We have blood relatives, marital ties, work relationships, school relationships, church or ministry relationships and special interest or hobby groups—to name a few. If you really take a look at the people in your relationship circles, you can start to see patterns in the people you have around you. Those patterns can help you to determine your own areas of growth and pruning in your life.

Before I got into recovery, I didn’t pay any attention to the reasons people were in my life. I just blindly went through life doing all I could to cope with each new circumstance that landed in my path. When I started to realize that I had choices about who I could be in relationship with and what those relationships would look like, it was very freeing. I had to go through a painful process of pruning some of those relationships.

Safe PeopleOne of the guiding principles I use to build new relationships is based on a definition from the book “Safe People” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. They define safe people as someone who:

1. Draws us closer to God.
2. Draws us closer to others.
3. Helps us become the real person God created us to be.

As I recently began to lead a group of women through a Christian 12-step program, I was again faced with looking at the relationships I have around me. While I’ve been blessed to have some amazing spiritual women mentor me and befriend me, I still needed to strengthen the team of recovery relationships I have around me. That’s because as you work through the 12 steps you need to be connected with people who have walked this path before you. You need their expertise and guidance and to offer hope as you progress through the 12 steps.

But that is not the only team I am building around me. I am taking these same principles into my career and life goals as well. For my writing, I attend monthly Christian writer’s meetings so I can meet other writers and glean from their wisdom. For my scrapbooking and photography interests, I connect with others who have a love of those hobbies. I also have a group of trusted friends who I can call on for prayer and comfort in my darker times.

Building teams for life is a very rewarding process. The harder part is discerning when to prune those relationships. But if we go through life with the philosophy that there are seasons to our lives as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, it is much easier to make decisions to prune our relationships or to let them go at the right time.

Who is holding you up?

Who is holding you up?

Whether you are working on a 12-step program or just dealing with life’s every day challenges, we all need a team of people around us to support us, encourage us and mentor us. When you think about the teams of people around you, do you see gaps that need to be filled or areas to prune? What’s your next step to cultivating the relationships you need in your life to achieve your goals? What are you waiting for? Just do it!

 

  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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