Chop Wood, Carry Water

I am writing this as much for myself as anyone.

The ability to lay one’s life down for his brother produces perfect love.

And “Perfect love casts out all fear.”  1 John 4:18

I can feel the anxiety growing.

Not so much in myself but in the “energy field” we all live in.

Stop thinking and trying to figure it all out.  We can not.  And the mind and thoughts will tend to bring us down.  We need to stay with our deepest knowing part of ourselves.

Our heart.

The only things we have control over are ourselves and our ability to stay grounded, centered, aligned, balanced.

self-less.

Breathe. Be in your body.  Feel the sensations.  Ground yourself. Center. Align yourself with love, not fear.  State your intention to remain loving and helpful to others in need.

Do the next right thing.

Where have you drawn your strength from in times of need?  

I draw strength from my faith in Jesus Christ.  This has been my path.  We all have access to the Creator inside our hearts.  Ask for the truth of who you are.  It’s time to let all the pretense fall away.  Pray for higher, unselfish wisdom and guidance.

TRUST.

Pray for all those suffering and in need.

They have always been there but in our blessed lives, we have tended to not notice.

There is much to be done.  As Bob Dylan put it:  “You’re gonna have to serve someone.

Will it be yourself?  Or the other?

The following is the full and original version of our Serenity Prayer:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

I can’t imagine where I would be right now if not sober.  Curled up drunk and scared and of no use to anyone.  Or to God.

Thanks be to God for giving me the grace of sobriety.

 

 

 

My Tree

“If we walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7).

For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie.

                                                                    From My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

🙏

Choose love over fear.

Perfect love casts out all fear.

Love will save us. Not hate. Not fear.

Not Judgement. 

If you feel a need to blame or judge, first look within. Then cast the first stone….if you can.

Stay strong.  Stay sober. 

Each of us has a part to play in this healing.

Because…

every one of us has played some part, large or small, in getting us here.

Help someone in need. You won’t need to look very far.

May the Lord pour out His abundant Mercy and Compassion on us all.

 

One Year for WTW; 2 Months For Me

Today marks one year since I began this blogging journey.  With a desire and hope. Although I had put down the glass countless times in the past 22 years, this was not the half-hearted effort I so often made.

I began it with Belle’s 100 day Sober Challenge.  I made it but then the holidays happened.  Along with the denial.

Moments of clarity followed by dissent.  More rebellion.

January 1, 1986 was my first honest effort at sobriety and I remained for 9 years.  August 15th of last year was my second.  I remained for 100 days.  June 20 of this year is my third.  I have 2 months.

Since meeting the 100 day mark two days before Thanksgiving last year this is my longest stretch without the wine.

My life today is unrecognizable from what is was just 2 months ago.  At that time I was hiding away in misery with a job I despised and a boss/owner that was just downright  nasty and unappreciative.  I was also mourning the (perceived) loss of my dear and most trusted companion to marriage and I was racking up thousands of dollars in dental bills.

Today I am sober.  I am working full-time at a job I wake up excited to get to.  I have been hugged and kissed and told how happy “they” are to have me back and how much I’ve been missed.  “They” being my former health food store customers.  Today I am overjoyed for my friend and his engagement.  Why shouldn’t I be?  We have been praying for each other for many years for this exact blessing.  I still have the dental bills but they will be paid eventually.  I know that whatever the Lord has for me in my future will be perfect.  It always is.  He can even turn the garbage I create into gold….if I am willing to participate.  To do my part.  To not lose hope.  To ask for forgiveness and to forgive.  Myself included.  Myself especially.

And then get out of His way.

A customer from the cheese shop stopped in and handed me a card.  He wrote:

“Dear Elizabeth,  I was saddened to learn that you were no longer at the cheese shop but happy to know that you’ve returned to your old position at the natural food store.  However, I must say without your smiling face and cheerful outlook, shopping there is just not the same.  I suspect I am not the only one who misses you but we all wish you well!”  Fondest Regards,  Toby

I am so undeserving and unworthy of all the Lord has blessed me with.  But He knows my heart and He is a merciful God eager to bestow His grace on those who love Him and seek to do His will.

Before coming to faith in Christ, I always thought of His will as confining, limiting, boring and uncool.

It isn’t.

It is my own will that is all of those things.  It only breeds sorrow and destruction.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”    Philippians 4:7

 This peace that passes all understanding is mine if and only if I choose to remain sober.  A lasting peace that remains even during life’s storms.

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Him and this sober community.  I thank everyone for their patience in bearing witness to my moments of idiocy and support for my (rare) moments of clarity.

Prayers gratefully accepted.

 

 

 

 

Closing in on 1 month

No desire to drink as I near 1 month AF.

But then, my deluded thinking usually begins around the 3 month mark.  It begins with the (fake) nostalgia- then my thoughts lead to emotions;  to the sadness of missing a lover and sighing as I bemoan the fact of never seeing him again.

Maybe he would be different if I gave him another chance.  Maybe it was me.

More sadness… then excitement at the prospect. As the passion builds, the dark memories fade and all sound thinking and wisdom recede…eventually vanish into the tomb of slavery and self-deception.

dungeon

My will is rising. Getting stronger.

Why not?  I can leave him again if he hasn’t changed.  Or if I haven’t.

My thoughts have led to emotions which have led to delusion and then to an incredibly stupid action….the bottle.

Always with a very unhappy ending.

“Do not conform 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.”    Romans 12:2 

In contrast to God’s will, my will usually brings sorrow and destruction.

I need to stop conforming to MY pattern in this world.  I need my mind transformed and renewed to see the wine for what it is… not the made up fantasy land in my head.

Where ever that came from.

“bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”    2 Corinthians 10:5

I need to take every drinking thought captive much the same as if I thought of killing someone.

Because if I don’t, then I might.

28 days and so grateful.

Thanks be to God.

Today & Tomorrow…

“I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home.”
Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

 I’ve spent my “time out” sleeping, praying, reading and cooking healthy food.  Went to see my priest and confess the wrongs I’ve committed  that have contributed to the situation.

I’ve done whatever  I needed to do to strengthen myself in mind, body and spirit.

Took care of business.  Got caught up with my life, family and friends.  Hunkering down on the finances.  Oil change for the car.

Brought Sammy to the vet for her overdue checkup.

681477180_2436688218_0

Cleaned and organized my living space.  Explored work options.

Back to the grind tomorrow.  I’m ready even though I have no idea what to expect.

The only thing I’m sure of is that I am sober and can handle whatever comes my way… as long I continue to abide in Him and wait on His timing.

Keep doing the next “right” thing.

18 days.

Thanks be to God.

the captain’s sundog…

I haven’t written in a few days… grieving is hard work.

And I ended up in the ER on Saturday afternoon.

During the worst part of the snowstorm, after talking with an old dear friend-it had been awhile and I thought- yeah, this would be a good time to take my BP.

We had laughed a lot.

Dialed 911 when I got 220/117.  I’d been monitoring it since last Thursday when the periodontist had taken it and got 195/96.

I made the mistake of asking him what it was.

 It probably shot up another 15 points when he told me.

Immediately I tried real hard to close my eyes to the fear and silently called out to Jesus.

Sweet Jesus, now you know I have no problem leaving this world and coming to live with you!  I hate this world!  But my family needs me here.  

Now.

Please don’t let me die.

OK…enough of the melodrama.

But I was exhausted, stressed and in deep grief.  Not a good combo when you need to hold it all together.

It was the day after I had gone back to work and found the 8 ft cheese case reading 65 degrees- I’m not a good one to pace myself.  Never learned.  It’s self-care.

so…..

I unloaded the cheese (8 ft is a lot of cheese), salvaged what I could and then cleaned the case.  Which never had been done other than a wipe down here and there.  I was real tired going home.

It was 9pm that night that I got the call from my sister that Captain Dave had died.

After talking to the rest of my brothers and sisters (6 of us are still here- we were 8) I tried to sleep but it never came.

So I went to work.  Then left for the Periodontist appointment.

I left his office and told my unloving, hard-nose boss that I wouldn’t see him until Monday.  Told him I needed to take care of my health.

Didn’t go over very well- I think he thinks I’m a robot, and I’m not sure how long I’ll be there.  He cut my hours down (he’s pissed I took time out),  says he needs to save money the first quarter (after making probably 125,000 in December).  Said “we all” need to make sacrifices right now (bet he still goes on vacation in February).

I’m the only one there who depends on that job for their livelihood.

Something is very wrong.

I feel it.  Like the ship’s going down (we’re in our 7th year).

My boss doesn’t know the Lord…at least from what I’ve witnessed.  Both he and his wife are lapsed Catholics.

I’m tryin’ real hard to love this man who is acting like he hates me.

“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” Romans 12:14

I have His peace.  Even in the midst of the storms both inside and out.  I’m learning to trust.  I know He has something better in store for me but until then…

This is my mission field.

To live my life as an example of the faith that I profess.  And to keep loving….

In spite of it all.  Not only “in spite” of, but because of….

Because of Him who loved me first.

This story would look very different if I were not sober.

Thanks be to God.

The photo was taken right before my brother-in-law was cremated today at Mount Pleasant.  We knew and loved each other for 50 years.

Godspeed Captain Dave.

God’s response to me…

I prayed this morning.

I usually give Him the first hour of my day, every day.  But I’ve been very erratic since mid-December when the holiday insanity ramped up.

I am a person that needs structure and routine. When something happens (like life) and it’s disrupted, the first things to go are the healthy habits that keep me anchored.

It’s amazing I’m not in an asylum after the past few weeks…

then losing Dave, my brother-in-law who was so much more than that to me.

And then there’s my anger at my boss.

I’d made a great deal of progress in ‘getting over myself’ and showing him love and compassion in the 3 month sober challenge that began last August.

‘Got over myself’ in the sense that I knew God wanted me to give him the same grace that He Himself has shown me.

The Lord continues to love me in spite of my wicked self-centered self.

What I heard in prayer this morning when begging Him for help with feeling so angry, demoralized and unappreciated at work was this:

“Forgive him, for he knows not what he does.”

I wept…

then replied back to Him:

“Please forgive me Lord for I also know not what I do.”

He knows.  He loves me anyway.

I have to pass it on.

So amazingly grateful to be sober and loved by Him.

❤ ❤ ❤

Image credit: The Ocean of God’s Love, Kevin Shorter

let your yes be yes….#1 of 2

This post is dedicated to my sister mooseylou.

Sorry,  I’m too tired right now to go on about it… but I will.  This weekend.

When I have 3 days off.

From this grueling non-stop work.  Where I have not a minute to stop and wonder at the real meaning for me of what everyone is going crazy over.  What holiday?   Christmas?  It seems to me as nothing more than an excuse- as if anyone needs one- to go mad with self indulgence.  And be damned to anyone in the way.  Filling their  needs and rude bellies.  Holes they’re trying to fill with food and liquor.

I know the hole can only be filled by Him.

Sorry.  I said I was tired.

January 1, 1986.

That was my first long run with sobriety.  9 years. And so I thought it fitting (or very  convenient) to let it be my second  long run.  January 1, 2017.

May God Help me.

No one is guaranteed another chance.

Like all drunks, I really, really need Him.

My short run was 8/15/16 until the honesty vs popularity post.  But I know myself and haven’t wanted my yes to turn to no.  I’ve been there before when I’ve said never, ever again only to be there…..again.

When my yes to sobriety had turned to no.  And the pain and self loathing and demoralization that came with it.

Worse than what came with getting myself to say yes.

It’s real important to let your yes be yes.

And I’ve experienced the pain and destruction that come from wrestling with Him-  than before Him.

You can just leave me be from Jacob’s bad hip.  I already have one of those.

He and I have struggled before.

I’ve always lost.

And thanks be to Him.

When I am weak……

The first son and overcoming ourselves

Reading the lives of the saints, we are struck by the presence of turning points when these lovers of Christ took up the great challenge.  Their love of the good was so great that they staked their lives to win the battle against the evils which surrounded them.  As a result of this same “all or nothing” attachment to the good, they were able to overcome in themselves every fault which would make them lazy, inept, betraying servants of Christ…

If life may be pictured as a battle between the forces of good and evil without and within, what must be the fate of the good side if its soldiers become lazy, sleepy and so sure of victory that they do not even notice the enemy creeping into their own ranks?  So, by analogy, those who imagine that their fervent moments of love for Christ will last forever, and that they will speedily become apostles of love, mock as fanatical the saints’ insistence on watching every thought, word and deed.

If we wish to love with all the intensity our being, then we must be ready to sacrifice all things which prevent us from being loving every moment of the day.

Ronda Chervin, convert from Judaism, professor of philosophy and theology and author-   Title and excerpt taken from Magnificat, Vol. 18, No. 10/Meditation of the Day 12/13/16

the blind man… and me

 This is truly a miracle.  Not the fact of making 100 days, although that is pretty amazing but even more so is the very place I stand; the desire to have wine (or any alcohol) is absent… totally.

Jesus asked the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”  He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”  Jesus told him “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”  The blind man immediately received his sight and followed Him, giving the glory to God.    Luke  18:41-43

I was never able to see through the glass to the truth of who I really was.  Even after 9 years sober, the glass was still in the way.

The following is an excerpt from a meditation in this months issue of Magnificat, a devotional I use in prayer.  As I read this, I feel the author has written what is in my heart.

“I never cease to be moved by the story of the man born blind.  This poor wretch looked at himself the way everyone looked at him: he was his ‘affliction’.  His was a life without hope.  There were many like him and they all looked upon themselves in the same way, according to a certain perception widespread in the Judaism of the time: they were punished physically because they were bad, impure within, sinners!

But that man, Jesus, chose him that day, and the blind man acquired his sight.  Questioned by the teachers and wise men, he answered: ‘I only know that before I couldn’t see and now I see.  I see reality, not only physical reality, but I see the truth of myself, of what I am.  I am not what you say I am.  I am what I saw shining in the gaze of that man as he looked intently at me, looked at me, the nothing I am, looked at me with friendship.’

Precisely that day, that man born blind was chosen so that the glory of Christ could shine through his change, so that others like him could also know the truth of themselves and of the world, of everything, and would be free.”

Father Julian Carron, Spanish priest and professor of theology, University of Milan

Back to the beginning of this journey:  Well….I had faith (He and I have been together a long time)…. so I asked.  Again.

But God knows when we’re ready.

Only when we’ve been sufficiently humbled are we able to receive with open hands and hearts.

And so it was for me, precisely 100 days ago, the Lord opened my eyes and began to show me who I could be. Who I was. Without the wine.  My prayer is that, just like the blind man, the glory of Christ shines through my change, and gives hope to others suffering their own “afflictions”…what ever they may be.

I give the glory to God.  This amazing gift of grace.

Image Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images