Saturday, July 17, 2010

The prodigal.....?

"My Savior My God" Aaron Shust/Dorothy Greenwell

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

Tonight was my return to church after a long hiatus. I was struggling with many emotions in regards to church and it seemed like early in my recovery that every time I went I started crying. One time even to the point of sobbing which if you ever want your teenager to think you are not cool feel free to try this. I had to remove myself because when my emotions came back I didn't know how to control them. I had numbed them for so long with alcohol that I suddenly felt raw, exposed and very vulnerable in church. I'm not sure why but something was telling me it was time to return. I love the Saturday night service in the Spiritual Life Center at our church. It's contemporary and the music is beautiful. My children also like this service so all in all it's a family favorite. I was telling one of my favorite AA peeps about wanting to cry every time we begin to sing and he said, "you know why? You've been humbled. You no longer try to play God, you are now grateful and are filled with humility. I think it's ok if you do cry". I hadn't thought of this before. My relationship with God is on a completely different level than it was months ago. So tonight I checked out the order or service before we started and saw that we would be singing many of my favorites. And right on cue the tears started filling my eyes, but then I thought of what Darren said, and yes I have been humbled. How can you not be? Like the prodigal son who left and squandered everything my father (God) was waiting with arms open to welcome me back. The gratitude you feel. The asking for forgiveness and knowing that he has forgiven you a long time ago and is waiting for you to forgive yourself is amazing. After a few verses a quiet sense of calm filled me and I spent the next hour in complete worship of my higher power. At the end of his sermon our pastor told the story of a small child trying to remove a large rock from his sandbox: as the child was lifting a rather large stone over the side, it slipped and pinched his fingers. The father watching at the window immediately went to comfort his son. As he wiped the tears away the father said to the boy, "did you use all of your strength to move the stone?" the little boy said "yes, I used all my strength" to which the father replied, "no you didn't, you forgot to ask my help". What a wonderful lesson for those of us who think we don't need anyone's help. I've proven time and time again that I can't do it on my own. And I am happy to say I now ask for help...I hope you do too! Peace......

Friday, July 16, 2010

Flash 55 Friday

Common Loon

You are elusive during the evening,
my eyes searching to find you.
I hear your lonely wail and it
sends shivers down my spine.
Just when I'm ready to paddle
ashore, you emerge taunting me
with your quiet complexity.
Camera slowly focuses in, holding
my breath I capture your wild beauty
in an instant, forever.

While we were vacationing last weekend I had a lesson in patience. My bestie and I were out kayaking late in the evening. She is an excellent photographer and will wait a long time for the perfect shot. She had wanted to shoot a picture of a loon, but they had been elusive due to boat traffic during the day. We finally spotted one out for an evening swim and my best friend knew it was her chance. She patiently followed the loon, and quietly waited as to not disturb his route, and then very slowly and quietly took his picture. I doubt he even knew that he was the subject of such great interest. Good things do come to those who wait....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stormy weather......

Yesterday was a mess in the midwest. Heat and violent storms. At one point during the afternoon I looked out of my office door and the hallway was black as night. Shortly after the first batch of storms struck we lost our phones and computers. Neither were restored until 8:00 am this morning. So all my projects have now been moved to today. I am thankful that we only have this type of weather once in a while as I know some locations deal with it all summer long. Yesterday when I went to the mailbox I found a letter addressed to our oldest son from the superintendent of our school district. Alex has been nominated by a teacher to participate in a leadership program. He has to apply and 30 students will be selected from all the area high schools. Then he would attend a leadership camp in the fall and various other activities throughout the school year, graduating the program in the spring. He then will be eligable for a $500.00 a year scholarship from our local university of Wisconsin college. Of course there is a cost involved but he wants to apply. I think it would be a great opportunity for him. One area that we've had to work on besides his dyslexia is his self-confidence. He was so shy as a child, and unsure, partly from his learning disability. He has come a long way since then so we will try to make this happen for him. After he went off to his room with the letter I thought of myself at his age. I was so unfocused. I didn't have a clue. The only things I was concerned with were boys, clothes, friends, and partying. And I came from a great family. I just blew responsibility off. I thought that maybe by 18 the responsibility fairy would come and wave her magic wand and I would instinctively know what to do. So I partied my way through high school, and then college for two years. Dropped out, went home, got a job, met my husband, had an inheritence, bought a brand new home, and had a baby etc.... all the time walking in a pink haze thinking "this is so easy".....well hmmmm by not being responsible, by not having to work or take charge of my future, I had to take the road less traveled and learn things the hard way. Life has not been easy in many areas so it's important to remember this when it comes to raising my own children. I've heard it said in the circles we travel, "well we don't care if so and so has a job, he should enjoy his high school years, I mean before you know it he'll have lots of responsibility". But I never learned that responsibility, I didn't want to and I certainly didn't think I had to. I always figured someone else needed to come along and clean up the mess. AA has laid the mess at my feet, and now I get to clean it up. There are days I dive right in, and others when I want to step over or around the mess. I don't feel like owning up to some of the mistakes I've made, but I will. Facing this will continue to provide humility, ownership, self-worth and growth. If I could do it over again I would of course do things differently but since that isn't going to happen I need to choose what I am going to do today. It's also made me realize that as mother along with my husband we need to offer guidance, and chances to be responsible. I certainly didn't think that I would finally be getting my act together at 41, but that's the way it is. My children will set their own destinies and courses but if I can help by blowing a little wind of knowledge their way I will. Stormy weather is no fun to go through unless there's a chance of sunshine when it's all over......

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And the answer comes later......

Last night I attended a new meeting. It's held at a local church and it focuses on the "Daily Reflection" for the day. It was a small intimate group, and I was surprised at how many people I knew. I sat right in the hot seat and didn't realize that I would be the person reading and commenting first but in my usual fashion I just ran off the dock and jumped in. The reading focused on "humility". Yes the "h" word. I had to be honest before AA I knew nothing of humility. I thought people that were humble were weak, wet noodles who got walked upon all the time. I wasn't going to be one of "those" people. It wasn't until I came into AA did I begin to understand (just a little) the importance of humility. I was a drunken caregiver. I was going to fix the world, one sorry soul at a time, but I drained all my resources and kept trying to fill the void with alcohol. I mean how could you be considered self centered when you are so busy taking care of everyone else?! Well for one because I made sure everyone knew what I did in one way or another. I was always the one to step up and I loved the role of the martyr. As the fog began to lift I realized I did not have a shred of humility. And the worse part? I was playing the role of God. Yep, move over HP, I'm in charge, at least as long as everything was going my way, but as soon as it wasn't I ran along with my bottle and only then did I seek my Lord. A fair weather friend. A poor excuse by and by. Since walking through those doors five months ago I've learned a lot about humility. It starts with the first step, realizing that you are powerless over alcohol. You are beaten by an addiction. Then your humbleness increases as you come to believe that you can not beat this addiction yourself. You reach out for your higher power. My higher power is God, your higher power can be anything you want but I choose God. Humility comes in the form of not humbling yourself for other people, but humbling yourself before God. Over the weekend my bestie and I stopped at a Goodwill to scour the book section. We hit pay dirt. One great book after another, and she found me a little gem. It's a book by Beth Moore called"Beloved Disciple". It's about Jesus's beloved disciple John, and their special relationship. I was really excited because someone had written their own thoughts and interpretations in the margins. Last night I opened the book and read through chapter one. And what did it deal with? You guessed it HUMILITY. How John knew he was the one to pave the way for Christ, and that he was not worthy to untie his shoes. John was humble in the purest sense, he knew his place, he did not complain, he walked the walk. I was amazed that God just reached down and put an explanation point on the end of my day! Wow, if that wasn't a "bling bling" moment then I don't know what is. Something else also became very clear to me. ( I told you I can be slow to realize things) Two years ago this July my bestie and I had the opportunity to see Beth Moore in person at the Target center in Minneapolis MN. It had been a crazy couple of weeks for both of us and neither of us were enthusiastic to go, but the tickets were bought and paid for, and the hotel room booked so off we went. If you don't know who Beth Moore is check her out. She's a tiny petite crusader for God. Wow, she is a force to be reckoned with. She doesn't care what religon you are, what background you have, what sins you are running from, she care about your personal relationship with God. She will take you from one end of the bible to the other, and I was in awe. Little did I know that God had planned for me to go to this seminar. He wanted to prepare me for what lay ahead. She dealt with the book of Isaiah and her focus was on when God puts you "in a rock and a hard place". How we are meant to go through those hard times. They are for growth, they are for life change, they are for the better. But Beth doesn't sugar coat anything. I remember her saying that even if you walk through the fire you may not get the outcome you were hoping for. Sometimes your greatest reward is surviving the hard time with your faith in tact. I also remember her saying that in times like this our instinct is to run, to hide, when in reality we are to "shrink wrap" ourselves around God, and hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride. I was so moved by her message that I remember holding hands with my bestie and crying really hard. There began to be trickle that something was really wrong with my life but I had no way of knowing that it would take another year and a half before the dam would break. Last night all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I was suppose to hear that message. I was to recall those words many times over the next two years, and I was to shrink wrap myself around God to survive. When I realized that I was an alcoholic it came in a split second. I had no time to think, I knew what I had to do. It was a blind leap of faith. I knew nothing about the program, the people, the disease but I grabbed that shrink wrap and started binding myself to that rock, and trusting that this was the path I should embark on. Humility means so much more than "moderate appraisal of oneself". Humility to me, means knowing my place, and it's beside my God, doing his will, not mine. I recall the words of a woman I knew that had survived much heart ache in her time. We were teaching Sunday school together and it was right after my miscarriage and she said to me, "Just remember that when life is at it's darkest, that's when he comes and walks beside you". That was ten years ago, God has been planning this for a long time, and I am so grateful that this time I was humble enough to pay attention........

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back in the saddle......

Back from vacation and for once it was a vacation. We didn't worry about meals ( only cooked one planned meal a day:dinner), but we were blessed with great weather, warmth, abundant sunshine, swimming, kayaking, walking, camp fires, laughing and sleeping deep at night. We are all tanned and much rested. I even managed to read 400 pages and finish my book (The Girl Who Played with Fire) but am frustrated at the ending and will be picking up the sequal :The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest so I won't go crazy wondering what disease likes closure so to end a book without a conclusion drives me nuts! But what a joy to have this time away. Back to work and mounds of emails and tasks. Something has once again shifted. (if you haven't noticed I have a lot of these "shifts"). I can feel my husband rolling his eyes as I'm typing this (lol) I couldn't put my finger on what has been bothering me for the last few weeks until I stepped away from it. I had a conversation with my sponsor shortly before I left and we were talking about integrity. How difficult it can be to find. We live in a town of around 47,000.00 people with neighboring areas that bring the population up to around 65,000.00. We have an Alano club where I attend all my meetings. But I've been struggling because of what goes on there. There is a lot of 13th. stepping, lots of gossip, lots of garbage that I know better than to get mixed up in. Don't get me wrong, there are also so many awesome people there but I was struggling with some meeting leaders that I know have drank, and not owned up to it, and just some of the behavior in general has been less than desirable. So when I was on vacation I called the AA hotline to get meeting times for the town I was in when it hit me. It's time to look outside the box. There are many meetings at local churches and various places that may not have all the drama the Alano club does. It's time for me to head in a new direction. I will keep two of the meetings I attend at the Alano club because they are small and intimate but I've already switched my schedule up for this week. It's also time to get back to church. I took a hiatus this past winter. I needed to work things out. I have struggled for years with "orgnized" religon and was so worn out that I just wasn't going for the past few months. I had a conversation with someone I admire and they pointed out to me "Church is your community, it's your public walk with other people, your religon is your personal relationship with Christ." For the first time in my life it made sense. I was always trying to have the relationship through the church, the members, the pastors etc... and ignoring the relationship that I needed to be focusing my energies on. That bit of truth released so many misgivings I have been having. My relationship with God is just that "my relationship". This has brought me a sense of peace I did not have before. It's also time to get back out there. To volunteer again, to give of myself. I have carefully isolated certain parts of my life and of course having the disease of alcoholism gave me the perfect excuse. I'm ready to set the excuses aside and get right back into the saddle. It's time to walk from the darkness into the light and start the path back to living.....