Oklahoma State CR Reps
Tulsa County Rep
I’m Norma Murphy and a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with codependency, control, and anger. I was raised in a loving Christian home with godly parents, few disadvantages and a lot of love. I was the oldest of 3 and quite typical of the oldest child. I was such a “mother”, a nurturer, and all about pointing out every rule! I was often, not appreciated… I was a “fixer” and lovingly kept it up as we grew into adults. Let me tell you how my codependency played out in my life and about some the pain I’ve experienced…
Steve and I met just before I graduated from high school… dated for 2 years and then married. We would tell you that our marriage has been a great marriage, strengthened by God’s power because we had learned to turn to God with our problems. Problems… Even in the best of homes, there are life struggles…. The first time I ever had to truly “give” something to God was at the age of 27 when I realized in the 7th month of our 3rd pregnancy that our baby would not live. I was shocked, totally crushed… I didn’t know about recovery or the 8 Principles, but had a husband who reminded me immediately to depend on God, “one day at a time” and that was how we dealt with this first tragedy and immense pain in our lives. And, God was with us… In the early 80’s financial difficulties (& the real estate market) led us to near bankruptcy and losing our home before God intervened and we slowly began to recover financially, in His timing. And about 15 years ago we faced a bitter lawsuit, with the potential of losing all financial assets. Once again we relied on God, gave it to Him, and He was faithful! We won the lawsuit and truly gave God the glory! I tell you about these markers in our lives because they are truly spiritual markers in our lives: places where we had struggles out of our control, places where we met God.
So, why am I in recovery? I went to Saddleback in August, 2001 just to check out this Christ centered ministry, hoping I could help a cousin in trouble who had always been very special to me…And, as I learned about recovery, I was forced to admit first to myself, there was a part of my heart that was bitter, resentful and angry regarding our marriage. My secret, hidden deep in my heart… a part of our marriage that I had resigned myself to. I rationalized that I could live with these feelings, since everything else was so good.
I soon learned in recovery that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” I was shocked by this statement… This is exactly what we spent 32 years doing! Our differences in the way we communicate and conflict tripped us up and caused hurt and pain for us both. And, we have created habits over the years by continuing this insanity… We had been believers who were not accessing Christ’s power in this area of our lives. This is a tragedy… You see, the “elephant in the room” was anger…sometimes rage, deep-seeded selfishness and pride on both our parts. When we “went there” it wasn’t pretty… But, we looked “good” to the world and our church. And, I’m embarrassed to say it was more important to look good at church than to be transparent and real. We were wearing masks, living a lie and quite comfortable in that place…
The more information I received about Celebrate Recovery, the more aware I became that I needed to step out of denial and confess to these hidden hurts and chaos in my own life and marriage, realizing I am not in control & cannot correct this problem (Principle 1). But, as I understood the Principles, God began to show me my often hidden motives, my self-righteous attitude, my boundarylessness and my own character flaws. It wasn’t long before God began to reveal to me my own controlling, critical, perfectionist tendencies, which are the very things I deplore in others and had spent a lot of time resenting in Steve. It was at this time that I turned our marriage over to the power of God, listening for His voice, watching for His power in my life and wanting to please only Him..
The 8 Principles of CR have been an awesome tool to help me take a good, hard, honest look at me and make some much-needed changes… Principle 6 says, “Evaluate all my relationships: offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.” This Principle was most difficult, but also the one that touched and changed my heart! I remember the night I apologized from my heart for my arrogance in blaming Steve totally for the problems in our marriage and for carrying resentment and bitterness into our marriage. I believe now that my resentment and bitterness may have hurt our marriage more than Steve’s anger. I had been cruel and used curse words, anger (sometimes rage) to intentionally hurt him. Hardest of all was admitting to looking for perfection in our marriage… You see, I could be extremely critical of Steve and our marriage… Thankfully, God does not look for perfection in me to show me His grace and neither should I in our marriage…
That experience of making amends began to change me and our marriage; was a turning point for us… And, God began to change me, giving me an awesome peace and joy about our marriage! Self-pity began to disappear and my selfish, negative thoughts were less frequent… God began erasing my past hurts and replacing them with the memories we create in the present. We experienced a new closeness, greater intimacy and a healing cleansing in our marriage. I have always felt Steve’s love, devotion and valued his faithfulness. But, I know our working the Principles of CR has brought a tenderness I need!
I have come to understand that pain is a part of life, but that I do have a choice regarding how I respond and the bitterness I harbor in my heart. This scripture in the book of Psalms that reflects my thoughts… Psalm 32: 3-5 says, “There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration… My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day when I finally admitted all my sins to you, God, and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess them to the Lord’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”
Thanks for letting me share!...
SE Oklahoma Rep
Hello, my name is Josh, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who has struggled with pornography addiction. Sexual addiction is a very powerful draw, and a tough issue to overcome, but “Nothing is impossible with God.” Jeremiah 32:27 says, “I am the Lord the God of all mankind. Is there anything too difficult for me?
However, as an adult Christian, my mind began to be consumed by the sexual world. Instead of growing in a personal relationship with Christ, I started growing in my hunger for pornography. My addiction went deeper and deeper when I discovered that in the form of my computer on the internet, I could have all the pornography, and exactly the kind of pornography I wanted in the privacy of my own home and no one else would ever have to know. With the internet I could indulge my flesh, satisfy my drive for pleasure, and temporarily escape pressure and stress.
I had never thought back then about the effects of sexual sin. I thought it was hurting no one. That is one of the biggest lies of sin – that it is only affecting me. Sin truly has a ripple effect. This pornography addiction was affecting me, my personal relationship with Christ, my wife, my service in ministry, my church, but I could not see that because I was consumed and enslaved to pornography.
Each time I acted out on pornography, I felt tremendous guilt and shame. I would pray to God and ask for His forgiveness. I would promise God that I would try not to ever do it again, that I would eventually grow out of it, and that I would eventually get this porn-thing under control. But I kept failing and I didn’t know why. Even some of the porn web sites would say that it was OK to be addicted to pornography and that there was nothing I could do about it. There was even a porn site where I could pray to receive Christ, receive my get-out of hell ticket, and then use the site to indulge in all the pornography I wanted. The site was spreading the message that Christ is Ok with pornography use. Pornography is such a demonic tool of Satan. I knew God’s standards for sexual purity demanded more of me, but I didn’t care. My fleshly desires overruled my thinking. I was selfish, and I was powerless over this addiction.
In February 2001, my wife and I were visiting her home church in Oklahoma City. Near the conclusion of the service when the invitation was extended I prayed like I had never prayed before. I prayed without fear, and I prayed with faith that I was fully surrendering to Jesus Christ. I wanted him to fill me, guide me, and use me for the rest of my life. I was carrying out Celebrate Recovery principle 3 – “Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.”
Pornography was finally being replaced with a hunger and thirst for God. Now when the temptation of pornography comes to my mind I began to experience the strength and power of Jesus Christ to overcome it. Now when lustful and impure thoughts come to my mind, instead of dwelling on them I pray about them, and God gives me the strength to overcome it. Thank God, I am happy to say that I have been free from my addiction to pornography for nearly 10 years now, ever since I prayed that prayer of surrender to God in Feb. 2001.
Well, later on in September 2001, the door opened to join God in His work through a ministry called Celebrate Recovery that was in the initial process of beginning at our church. I went to the first informational meeting about Celebrate Recovery, and have been involved in this ministry ever since.
Celebrate Recovery is a work of God. It has been a tool God has used to mature and develop me for His kingdom’s work. This ministry has taught me personal responsibility and dependence upon God. This ministry has taught me to do life in relationships rather than in isolation. I have so enjoyed the friendships, accountability, sponsor, and sponsee relationships. Praise God that I don’t have to do this life alone.
Over the years in working the curriculum of Celebrate Recovery, there have been a few principles that have really impacted my life. Principle 2, which says…”Earnestly believe that God exists, THAT I MATTER TO HIM, and that He has the power to help me recover.” I know it’s basic to the Christian faith, but realizing that I matter to God, that He loves me, that He desires a relationship with me, that He is mindful of me, has helped me find my identity and worth in Him. I have struggled in the past with liking myself, but knowing who I am in Christ, realizing my self-worth is not in my performance, my past, nor in the approval of others, but rather in the One in whom I matter has made a huge difference in my life.
Principle 5 of Celebrate Recovery is another one that has helped me overcome. Principle 5 says, “Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life, and humbly ask Him to remove my CHARACTER DEFECTS.” Working the steps and principles of Celebrate Recovery helped me realize that pornography was not my problem. Pornography was just a symptom of a deeper issue called my Character Defects. God has used the CR curriculum to help me see my character defects of fear and selfishness. By submitting to the changes God wants to make in my life as Principle 5 states, I see victories big and small all the time in overcoming my character defects.
Principle 7 of Celebrate Recovery has been key in having consistent clean time from pornography addiction. Principle 7 says, “Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.” I love that last part – “TO GAIN THE POWER TO FOLLOW HIS WILL.” He has empowered me to find my sexual fulfillment and gratification solely in my wife rather than in an internet site, TV show, sensual movie, sensual magazine, or in fantasizing a sensual image.. Christ has empowered me by His Spirit to be sexually pure again, and for that I am grateful.
The last principle of Celebrate Recovery, Principle 8 is my favorite. Principle 8 says “Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by me example and by my words.” This is the giving back Principle, and working this principle of recovery has turned me from a fearful and useless spectator in the church to someone who is being used to lead and bless others.
To any newcomer at Celebrate Recovery I would like to encourage you to “keep coming back.” Celebrate Recovery is a safe place where you can be real, and not fear being judged or looked down upon because of your past or your present. God gifted every believer with the community of believers or the body of Christ. Please take advantage of this gift, and know that the community of believers at Celebrate Recovery will walk beside you, pray for you, encourage you, and speak truth in love. The curriculum at Celebrate Recovery is the greatest discipleship tool I have ever seen in the church. Give it a try and know that healing, overcoming, victory, and joy await as you honestly work your recovery. As we say at CR…”Don’t quit before the miracle happens.” Thank you for letting me share.
NE Oklahoma Rep
Hi. My name is Cindy. I am a grateful believer in my Lord Jesus Christ who celebrates 6 years of recovery from alcohol abuse and am currently working through issues from childhood sexual abuse and with food addiction.
My husband is the senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Bartlesville OK, and we have been serving there for almost 16 years. I have been on staff at the church for 12 years, as the Children’s Director and as the Director of Adult Ministries. I currently serve as the Director of Care and Recovery and am blessed to serve as the NE OK State Rep for Celebrate Recovery.
I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse. I began to deal with the affects of the abuse 25 years later, after being married for 10 years and having had four children. The memories that I had buried from my childhood began to bubble up to the surface, and I was out of control in many areas of my life. On the outside things looked great - I had a seminary degree, a gifted husband, four beautiful children, but I was a wreck on the inside. Anger was the predominant emotion I expressed in my home, and my family experienced the brunt of that anger that I had suppressed all those years.
I became a Christian before I entered college, and grew spiritually during that time, but I never invited God to transform this hidden area of my life. I knew my internal world did not reflect what I professed as a believer, and I tried to “put on a perfect Christian” mask to disguise my anger and confusion. My thought was, “If people really knew me, and saw how I acted at home, they would totally reject me.” I carried around guilt and shame from the abuse, and hid my true self to keep a safe distance from others to protect myself. I became a master at hiding, masking, and numbing my painful emotions by escaping in a fantasy world of books, TV and movies; and eventually with food and alcohol.
God in his goodness brought me to the end of myself when I was 33 years old. The memories I had shoved down were coming up more frequently and I couldn’t keep them hidden any longer. The energy required to keep up the charade was more than I had to give. My walls were beginning to crack. I went into counseling to unearth my childhood hurts and the strategies I developed to protect myself from the pain and confusion they caused. My life began to change.
My relationships with my family improved. I also experienced a new freedom in my relationship with God that I had never known before. The first Bible verse I had memorized back in college was 2 Corinthians 5:17 “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. All things have become new.” The old could be left behind now that I had faced my past hurts. I looked forward to the new freedom that I had found.
It was around this time that my husband shifted his focus in ministry. He was now being called to be a pastor. That would mean that I would be a pastor’s wife! I wasn’t so sure God was calling me to this! Up until then, I had been a behind-the-scenes observer of his ministry. That felt safer to me than having a more public role as a pastor’s wife. I knew I would have a more difficult time trying to hide myself from others in this role, but I knew I had grown so much through my counseling that I thought I could handle it. Little did I know how much more I had to learn!
All the baggage in my life had not been unpacked and dealt with. God’s healing process had begun, but it wasn’t complete. As I look back, I dealt with what I could handle at the time, but as my family grew, there were more levels of pain to deal with.
Seven years ago, God began doing some major renovations in my life. I heard about a Celebrate Recovery One-Day Seminar in Tulsa back in May of 2003, and I knew God wanted me to get involved somehow. I had no idea how the process of going through the Eight Principles of Celebrate Recovery would change MY life. You see; I was thinking about all the people back in my church that could use CR – but I didn’t think I needed it! Talk about DENIAL and INSANITY!!! God in his graciousness has used the safety that CR provides through its small group guidelines to bring a level of healing in my life and in my marriage and family that I never dreamed was possible. I attribute all this to God’s grace and His blessing on the Celebrate Recovery ministry here and around the world.
I have learned and come to believe for myself that GOD NEVER WASTES A HURT! This gives me the courage to deal with my hurts, hang ups and habits, and to share this courage with others.
SW Oklahoma Rep
I am a grateful believer who struggles with co-dependency evidenced by my approval addiction (pride) anger and fear; my name is Nancy. I am the youngest of 5 children, born in the Bay area and raised in Southern California. My mother was plain spoken and logical and shared each with of us that she intended to have 1 child, a boy, not 5 with 4 girls. She made sure that we understood the economic burden of a large family. This is not a criticism, but a fact. My father was the nurturer but he was very busy trying to feed the family.
We moved often during my childhood, my father, always looking for a better job. I have no idea how many places we lived before I started school, I remember 3. I attended 2 kindergartens, 2 first grades, 2 second grades…etc….and the family moved back to Oklahoma when I was in junior high. I was afraid to make friends for fear of the expected loss. This fear of relationships continued, stunting my relationships as an adult.
My parents wanted a better life for us and their way of developing the tools for success was to pit us against us in our school work, sports and in our play. Winners were praised, losers were criticized. This increased our sibling rivalry (me, particularly with my brother). On the flip-side, it did teach us all a strong work ethic for which I will forever be grateful.
We moved to Oklahoma when I was in junior high school. We had moved to the town where my parents had grown up and where we had relatives, but in small town OK, everyone grew up and went to school together and did not let in the outsiders. Now I felt like an outsider even among relatives.
I married young, for fear I would never get married. I brought the baggage of my fear and isolation to our marriage. I also brought the need to control the outcome to gain approval which brought me a sense of safety. He was facing the draft, in fact, we married in July, he left for boot camp in November and on to Viet Nam in December. In the Spring he was medi-vaced back to a hospital in San Antonio where he remained until the following July. But he did not come back as I expected. He had been changed by the trauma of war. He came back angry at God, with a desire to be single and addicted to drugs and alcohol. I was devastated. I refused to file for divorce and our life of secrets began. I had no one to turn to – my parents had returned to California to live and I had not developed any network of support in Oklahoma.
For the next 20 years we lived a life of secrets – no one in my family or his or at my work or church knew of his addiction, which was growing and had resulted in an arrest. Following his second arrest he made a profession of faith and began attending church and participating in the family. As time passed, he began to drift back to that life-style and with that drift, my hopes faded. Out of my fear and my need to control the outcome, I gave him an ultimatum to get help or “I was leaving.” I was sure he would beg me to stay. I was wrong, he had waited 20 years to hear that and quickly made arrangements to help me move.
During the next 10 years I focused on my job for my sense of worth, and made very little investment in my family. I did go back to school and complete my degree which proved to be a good thing for me economically and spiritually. A classmate invited me to a divorce support group. I went to that group out of pride, to prove I didn’t need it, but God used that to help me deal with my anger and help me open up my heart to Him and others.
I turned back to God and returned to church and allowed people back into my life. And soon I was helping to facilitate this support group. In fact, I remarried and my husband and I began facilitating this group together. In this group we met many people whose marriage had been touched by habits – drugs, alcohol, infidelity, anger, etc. We recognized that we wanted to help couples before their marriage dissolved which prompted a search for a program. An internet search brought us to Celebrate Recovery and our church supported our desire to add this ministry.
All of my life I had blamed others; my parents for giving me no network of support or sense of family; my x-husband for “stealing” my life with his substance abuse; out of my need to please, I often became overwhelmed when I took on more work than I could handle and then blamed my employer for my sense of failure. I never took responsibility for my own choices or the consequences.
Through Celebrate Recovery we have seen many lives changed but for me the most important change has been in ME. God has transformed my life. I gave my life to Christ as a child of 7 but I did not give my will to Christ’s care and control; I did not understand the difference until working the steps in Celebrate Recovery. I had never experienced the “abundant” life promised in scripture. I had law and tradition, but no peace or joy in my life and I couldn’t figure out how to find that abundant life. Through Celebrate Recovery I have found that peace and joy as I have learned to forgive; forgive my parents, forgive my X-husband, forgive others who have hurt me; and to forgive myself.
Let me encourage you join me in Celebrate Recovery. Let God transform your life and give you peace and joy as you learn to take responsibility, to forgive, and make life’s healing choices!
NW Oklahoma Rep
Ephesians 2: 10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
This is a testimony of a spiritually broken person that I used to know. Here is where the denial, powerlessness and the destruction began. This testimony is simple; Christ had His hand on me and HE wouldn't let go. And since He wouldn't, I DIDN'T MISS IT! -- As the oldest of four children I was named after my father and grandfather. I loved my father dearly, he was a professional and all who knew him knew he was an intelligent and sharp physician. I always wanted to please both of them by doing whatever it took to be successful. I equated love with performance, especially in school. The difficult part was that as hard as I tried, I never was great at school; I was a good talker, but never made those perfect grades. I wanted all of my Dad's time, and needless to say, he gave me what he could, and even that wasn't enough. Most of my young life, I did what I did to have fun and please my parents.
When I was 15 I first used marijuana at a church retreat when it was offered by some of the older boys. It didn't really affect me, but I liked the acceptance feeling I received from those older guys and I enjoyed the feeling of getting away with something. The thrill I sought after of not getting caught started me down the road of stealing, drinking and smoking pot. I would lie to my parents and others, in order to appear as that perfect son, friend, and boyfriend. In my senior year of high school, I crossed that invisible line between 'choosing' to participate in my affliction, or doing it because I had to. I no longer had a choice; I was caught in the trap of sin and disease and so I began to “feed the monster”.
I lost the respect of my parents when I got fired as a camp counselor from a summer camp for having beer and pot. As a football team starter, I began taking drugs before the games and drinking after the game. Occasionally, I would go to school early, stopping by parks, watching the sun rise, while drinking a quart of beer, smoking some pot, or even sometimes taking LSD or mushrooms, all before going to class. Prior to graduation from high school, I was in two separate car accidents that could have been life threatening, as a result of taking pills and/or drinking.
Somehow my parents allowed me to go to college, where I got kicked out of the dorms, held up at gun point for drugs, went to Cleveland County jail for possession of marijuana and public drunkenness, and I flunked out of school. What a waste!! After a short stint in the oil fields, I returned once again to school. After my parents finally began to trust me again, I ended up getting drunk, having another wreck and finding myself in Logan County jail. Life became one large fight, with broken relationships and I had begun the downhill spiral. After two more visits to jail, I thought I had finally had enough so I looked for help, finding myself in drug and alcohol treatment. Treatment made me aware of my addictions, but only to the extent of my willingness to change. I began hanging out with old friends and slowly went back to drinking and using again, finding myself doubling my drug usage and finding cocaine. Cocaine started as recreational but quickly became something I needed to start my day, keep my day going, and end my day. I selfishly hid my cocaine use; I didn't want to share any of it with anyone.
But you know I ALMOST MISSED IT! It was an Easter weekend when I finally realized that I WAS a drug addict and alcoholic and that I did need help. Tuesday, April 13th 1982 was my first sober day, a day of intense sickness and feeling alone. I attended a meeting and really didn't like it, but I knew I wanted to change, so I continued to attend the meetings. Again, I ALMOST MISSED IT! February of '82 brought about the chance meeting in the Denver airport of a beautiful woman named Vicky. I wouldn't marry Vicky until I had a year of sobriety, so three days after my one year, April 16th, 1983, we were married. I married beyond myself; I had stopped looking, stopped trying to fill the void with people, and God delivered to me my soul mate. In April of this year, Vicky and I will celebrate 28 years of marriage, having continued going to meetings and working the steps all along the way. Recovery had become our lives- sobriety first, everything else second.
And you won't believe this, but I ALMOST MISSED IT! Throughout the next 13 years God provided us with four rambunctious boys, three of our own, Charles IV, James Colby and Conner Paul, as well as Teyon, a young man from the inner-city of OKC. Soon seasons were defined by what sport was being played and coached; baseball in the spring, football in the fall and wrestling in the winter. The winter of '01-'02 stands out since all four boys wrestled on the same team at Edmond North High School. Ol' Dad was in “hog heaven”! On to college, all four boys were successful in their own right, and all four boys are followers of Jesus Christ.
I burned many bridges through my addiction, but the ones that hurt the most were my parents, brothers and sister. By God's grace I was able to make true amends with my father and cared for him before he passed away. A week before he died, he told me he was proud of me and loved me: I replied, “That was all I really ever wanted”. Mom is the one who '12-stepped' me into recovery, having 25 years of sobriety before she passed away. As a solid rock in Christ, and my biggest cheerleader, I was privileged to care for her in her last years of life here on earth. My brothers and sister are still around and still kicking. All are followers of Christ, in their own way. My youngest brother, Craig, was terribly sick in November 2009, but the Lord is healing him continually. My amends to my family of origin and to my wife and children is daily and living.
You know, I ALMOST MISSED IT! Now, four plus years into ministry and twenty-nine years into recovery, I live one day at a time. I meet with my sponsor, an accountability partner, a Christian counselor and attend recovery meetings weekly; all for myself. I also attend and teach in Celebrate Recovery meetings for others. For the past two years, I have served as the NW Oklahoma State Representative and have the opportunity to help other CR's get up and rolling.
In January 2010, I started back to school, working on a Masters in Substance Abuse Studies and I am now a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, under supervision. Vicky and I are working together, on the front lines in a spiritual war for the wayward souls of God's people and this is a great responsibility. A Christ-centered treatment center might be on the horizon, using the program of Celebrate Recovery and traditional recovery, along with a marriage and family component, and a mental health component, in order to reach more people for the cause of Jesus Christ. All it takes is a vision and money: God has provided the vision and He will provide the money in His time. My favorite CR principle and scripture is what you would probably guess it is: PRINCIPLE 3 - Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ's care and control. “Happy are the meek.” (Matthew 5:5)
Now back to Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” What can we do for His kingdom? Is it all about me and my recovery? What if, through my recovery, another person is helped? Imagine if that person was you, or perhaps the next Billy Graham. When we die and all of this life is said and done with, shall we say in our last breath, “Lord, isn't there one more you would have me share the gospel with, share your good news, share the testimony of what you have done in my life, isn't there one more, Lord?” Go forth in the Name of Christ!
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