breadcrumbs.

i don’t really know how to begin this post, i just know it needs to be written. that is, i need to write it. more for me than for you but perhaps for you, too.

it’s the one i alluded to when i talked about my journey to discovering my worth (which, by the way, i’m still at a loss for words over your comments and private messages since publishing that story).

the only way i know to tell you about where i am in the journey now is by way of the same simple nuggets god has dropped in my heart in recent months.

i know i will forget parts of the story. (in fact, i will probably keep adding them later as they come to mind.) and i don’t know how to sufficiently put it into words, either.

no human word is even remotely adequate to convey the mysterious and furious longing of jesus for you and me to live in his smile and and hang on his words… -brennan manning

* * * * * * * * * *

mary kathryn, i want you to take a sabbatical from talking about singleness.

this i heard as i was awaiting sleep in dreams not too long ago.

i remembered it clear as day when i woke up the next morning and just thought god was tired of putting up with my bad attitude.

yes, lord.

* * * * * * * * * *

this summer, my friend catherine helped me hear the lord beckoning me -wooing me – into deeper intimacy with him.

i have come to understand him as my father, my friend, my prince of peace.

but never as my husband, and certainly not my lover.

even writing this makes me blush and squirm in front of you. 

like i’m talking about my high school crush.

* * * * * * * * * *

i haven’t known how to enter in to this place that i know he’s been calling me to, the steps toward him i’m supposed to take, so i’m allowing it to happen organically as my radar is attuned.

to allow him to pursue me and court me and respond in kind.

in so doing, i find myself listening more, speaking less, sheepishly smiling at his words over me, knowing he is gazing at me with tender.

* * * * * * * * * *

one of my more-seasoned in life and in jesus friends took me out for birthday lunch and i quietly shared my new experience with her in sacred trust.

how do you experience intimacy with jesus? what do you do to foster that relationship? i asked her.

well, i used to write all my thoughts and prayers to god in my journals, dreams and wishes and deepest desires. now, i listen and i wait and i only journal what he drops in my heart, or a verse or quote that draws me closer to him, she told me.

not only did i fall in love with her idea, but as she spoke i realized that intimacy -with anyone- is so much more about knowing the heart of the other person. it is so much less about professing our own needs, desires and wishes and more about wanting to know that person so deeply, so thoroughly and profoundly, that we might discover our worth or identity through that person.

that we would seek to find ourselves in their heart.

to see ourselves through their eyes.

that our own needs, desires and wishes would be met simply by knowing deeply the heart of our lover.

we recognize that this person has revealed to us not only himself, but our own true self as well. we recognize that we cannot be our own true self except by union with this person. -john mckenzie

i have sought my worth and identity in boyfriends, friends, even in my family name.

but only in true intimacy with jesus -in seeking to please and know and love and be loved by him alone- can i know what it is to find myself.

to be found in him is more about knowing him than it is making myself known to him.

(because, hellooo…)

in loving me, you made me lovable. -st. augustine

* * * * * * * * * *

i went to the state fair last weekend with a treasured friend of my heart. for much of the night, we talked about our sordid relationship history (which included much laughter, wincing on one another’s behalf, and plain honesty), as well as our journeys in jesus.

i heard myself say to him later in the night,

when it comes down to it, these days, i want to spend time with jesus more than anyone else.

and isn’t that where true intimacy is established? through time?

only through time spent with the holy spirit as my bridegroom.

not god as my father or jesus as my friend or my brother.

{not right now, anyway.}

but as my romantic husband, fierce bridegroom and handsome lover of my soul.

* * * * * * * * * *

i have been encouraged to read redeeming love by francine rivers since it was first published twenty years ago but only recently felt compelled to read it for the first time last month. i couldn’t put it down. the lord whispered deep unto me as i read this story of gomer and hosea, especially in light of recognizing my own prostitution.

but it wasn’t until i finished reading it that i paralleled god’s pursuit of me even during days when i wouldn’t, couldn’t trust that his heart toward me was only and all good so i would run and hide in ways all too familiar yet costly.

until i chose him back.

and i do. i choose him back. deeply, passionately.

he is the man that i choose, now and always.

* * * * * * * * * *

i am my beloved’s and he is mine.

this verse from the seventh chapter of the song of solomon has resounded so clearly in my spirit in recent months only to re-open last week the furious longing of god by my friend brennan for a second time in the last year as if for the first and read these pregnant words on his first pages. (and, yes, i did just name-drop again and, in searching for the story of how it is i call him my friend, i realize i haven’t told it yet but it’s a good one and you’ll understand better then. for now, assume the best.)

i know he is calling me, drawing me deeper, unto himself. 

* * * * * * * * * *

the book of esther is far and above my favorite book in the bible, as i know it is for many of you. the other day it occurred to me that i have officially been single for just over a year now when i realized that esther went through a year of preparation before her king petitioned for her to come.

and when he did, he was so taken by her he wanted no other besides.

* * * * * * * * * *

that after a year of official and intentional singleness when my heart could be mended and patched and afford to be wooed again

{this time by only my king into his chambers}

that i would build a wall around my heart and then spend a season locked in a tower and wandering the kingdom…

that i would simply respond, and come when i hear the jesus of my journey quietly speak in my heart in dark night hours,

come now, my love.

my lovely one, come.

for you, the winter has passed,

the snows are over and gone,

the flowers appear in the land,

the season of joyful songs has come.

the cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land.

come now, my love.

my lovely one, come.

let me see your face. and let me hear your voice,

for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.

come now, my love,

my lovely one, come.

i am once again reminded that my story has not happened in vain, but that my past is past and that good, glorious things are growing from it, that life springs forth from the death of a long, cold winter.

i respond to my lover in forward-motion, arm-in-arm with my king who calls me, woos me, beckons me to himself.

he bids me well

and

i

come.

and it is once again not lost on me that my season of i don’t wanna, you can’t make me, i’m never going to get married is obliterated in the light of my bridegroom and who knows what comes next and i don’t even care as long i can have this and only this for now.

because only through this unique opportunity i’m given in this extended season of table for one to respond to him alone will i ever understand the power and depth and gratitude of intimacy i might one day share with my husband.

and so i come.

i come and i respond and i will and i have and i do.

oh, yes, jesus. i do.

and that’s all there is and ever has been and ever will be.

{i am my beloved’s and he is mine. -songs 7:10}

viva nashvegas.

from the birthday bucket files…

7. Go see Laura & Shawna in Nashville

you know what? when i left last weekend to head to charlotte to meet lisa and ride to nashville with her, it didn’t even cross my mind that i would be able to cross another thing off of my birthday bucket list. it wasn’t until i was thinking about my ‘last friday update’ this week that i realized, ‘omg! i get to cross that off my list!’ what perfect timing, too! just in time for my last friday birthday bucket post!

as i stated, i left my apartment last saturday to go to charlotte where i would meet {in person} lisa whittle. i stayed with her family that night before we embarked on a journey to nashville where we would stay with our mutual friend shawna kirk. lisa and i met virtually through an accidental set of events set into motion by our sweet friend samantha. somewhere in there, shawna got a hold of both of us and said, ‘you must know each other.’ one thing led to another, she called me, i called her…bada-boom, bada-bing…and suddenly i’m on my way to meet this woman i’ve only spoken with over the phone and spend-the-night with her family. that said, i had spoken with lisa enough to know i adored her and, per shawna’s high praise, i knew it was simply meant to be.

i purposefully had not asked lisa any questions about her life, other than what i read on her blog. i had told her pieces of my story, but we agreed she would tell me hers while we were on the road together.

uh, and, by ‘story’…? i mean ‘one of the craziest never-heard-before tales i’ve ever heard in my life’. for reals.

she has a new book (her third) coming out in the fall where you can read all about it; a story of the fallen and how god redeems.

(what – you didn’t think i was going to give it away, did you? tsk, tsk. you’ll have to wait til the fall! it will be worth it, i promise.)

p.s. did i mention she is the first-ever female author barna has published?

my friend lisa is the first-ever female author barna has published.

before we stopped to get lunch, what we thought was a gunshot was actually lisa’s tire blowing out upon making a u-turn. we sat there for a hot minute, unsure of what to do, when jesus dressed in dirty clothes with a long scraggly ponytail pulled up behind us in his pick-up truck. not long after that, jesus from south africa asked if we needed help. when they did all they could to help us to no avail, south africa-jesus went around the corner to get hispanic-jesus who owns a tire shop. as i stood there watching dirty-jesus, south africa-jesus and hispanic-jesus put on the spare, i heard the voice of sweet-jesus in my heart say, ‘mary kathryn, i will always protect and provide for you’ and my eyes were full of tears. we were up and running in 2 minutes flat, ate yummy soup and were on the road again in no time, truly thankful for the kind provision of our god.

when we pulled into nashville, lisa dropped me off at shawna’s house before heading to spend-the-night with her bff in hendersonville. we arrived just in time for me to spend the evening with a group shawna and her husband eli host each week. a handful of their friends gather every sunday night to discuss a book they’ve been reading. they are currently studying chapter seven in none other than my fave, ragamuffin gospel. per shawna’s request, i was able to share with them about my relationship with the author, brennan manning.

[let me just say here that i am not a name-dropper. barf me out. so you know, brennan manning has been a part of my life since the early '80's. he came to our conference center before he ever gained the notoriety he maintains today and continued coming twice a year, even though it became a smaller venue for him, even after he did become so popular. he has been a personal minister to my family for many, many years. i realize i sound like i'm showing off when i mention 'my friend brennan manning' - for me, though, it's not enough to just call him by his name when he is the only man who loved and respected my dad enough to help him get help. (twice.) we've had several long phone calls and eaten lots and lots of ice cream together and he has been a dear, good friend & minister to us for many years.]

anyway, it was awesome to sit among mark & becky, pam, jb, and shawna & eli. we had great fellowship. we had church.

and then we had a huge cheeseburger that made me wish i hadn’t, even until the next morning.

one other kinda cool/kinda weird/kinda sad thing is that shawna and eli live right around the corner from where my dad lived. like, i could have walked there. the last time i was in nashville, we were packing up my dad’s house. the plans for this trip happened so quickly that i didn’t have time to process that it was the first time i had been back since then, but you know…it really was okay. i only have good memories of my dad there and it makes my heart happy that it was where he spent his last days, loving every moment. so, i was fine. plus, i was too busy to even think about it.

on monday, shawna made lunch for us and invited laura and her german/hispanic/dutch/norwegian/british/french fiance. they were so gracious to join us as they had just driven back into town from visiting family. brian crow, a friend of compassion, also came. all stellar folks whom you should know.

when i came downstairs after getting ready i hugged laura and greeted someone named michelle, but it wasn’t until we were praying before lunch that i asked michelle…something?…and realized she was Mi-CHELLE! MY MICHELLE! OMG, IT’S MICHELLE! michelle and shawna have been lifelong friends, so when shawna said to me, ‘she’s one of us’, we became facebook and blog-friends. it was the First Time Ever i had met a blog-friend! and, y’all, can i tell you…? michelle has one of the most contrite spirits and best hearts at which i’ve ever had the privilege of glancing. we sat down, just the two of us, at the kitchen table and just swapped stories. well, she told me her story (she already knew mine – you all do, for that matter). it was so special getting to spend time with her. what a good soul.

by the end of the day, we were all pooped. we had plans but we just couldn’t motivate off the couch until it came time to put our ‘friend pants’ on and hunker down to watch brad and crazy-michelle. who is bonkers. besides that, we knew tuesday would be full of appointments.

first up, we hung out with spence smith at meridee’s in franklin. what a cool guy! you might remember him from the ’90′s band big tent revival. he now also works as both a social media expert and is the artist relations guy for compassion international. for every question we asked him, he was chock-full of great answers. a wealth of knowledge, that guy. we briefly met his compassion partner, randy elrod, as he was on his way out when we walked in.

following our meeting with spence, we met jim chaffee. he represents speakers and writers like palmer chinchen, anne jackson, susan isaacs and donald miller. (in other words, he’s kind of important.) both lisa and i had good visits with him and it looks like i might contract with him to promote some events his company produces.

when we walked in to starbucks, and before jim got there, lisa looked over my shoulder and quietly mumbled something along the lines of, ‘youknowwholoswhitis?’ ‘onlyfromtwitter’, i muttered back. ‘heisrightbehindyou.’ so i tweeted him: i promise i’m not a stalker but how does it feel when people sitting in *bux know who you are but you don’t know them…? then he said something about picking his nose and then we went to meet him. what a great guy! you should definitely know who carlos whittaker is.

and THEN…perhaps the highlight for me…was meeting alece ronzino and lindsey nobles, who were gracious enough to join us for coffee that evening. alece is every bit the beautiful soul you would expect her to be; lindsey, equally beautiful and quirky, too. both smart, both important.

that morning lisa and i packed up the car in the event we would have to head back due to weather. after a full and exhausting day, we sojourned back to charlotte to keep from getting stuck in the nashville (or asheville) snow the following day. after loading up on red bull, pixy stix and blow pops, we were delirious. laughing hysterically and rocking out to ’80′s hair band music, my sugar high lasted most of the night. i did well to stay awake with her until the last two of our 7-hour drive, when we pulled back into her driveway at 3:30 a.m. (for someone who turns into a pumpkin at 10:00, this was quite an achievement.)

lisa and i decompressed our trip when we rolled out of bed the next day and made plans that will unfold in coming months.

meanwhile, we had an awesome trip and i get to cross one more thing off my list.

technicolor life.

by now you may have done the math and figured out that summer of 2004-november of 2006 does not amount to a very long drinking career. and you would be right. except for the part that alcoholism is a progressive disease and, while there were long breaks in between college and my drinking days later, it only got worse. never better. i knew at the time that if i didn’t get sober then that i would end up in rehab in 25 years at best. with all due respect to my dad, and for as much as i love and miss him, i did not want to end up like him. it breaks my heart to say that his disease consumed his life. i would be lying to you if i did not tell you that there have been days when i wonder if i came in too early, especially in the beginning. as in, ‘surely i could go a few more years…?’ but it would just be too risky. while i had my wits about me, i knew i was given the opportunity to make that decision. i was one of the lucky ones.

that said, like every other alcoholic in your life, whether they have two years or 25, we all only have today by the grace of god. i know that i have to be vigilant about my sobriety, that if i do not stay on top of my spiritual life then i run the risk of becoming too confident that i am somehow capable of staying sober by my own efforts. i am not so naive to think that, on any given day, i could very easily end up back ‘out there’ like so many other friends i have seen come in and out of the program.

{it didn’t take me long to realize that my drinking was only a symptom of my greater issues. i dare say drinking wasn’t actually my problem. anger was. bitterness and resentment and depression were. i used alcohol -and anything else in the moment that felt good (ie, spending money, sex with strangers, etc.)- to escape my life.}

about 17 days or so after i got sober, my sweet friend matt came to visit from florida. we made these plans before i got sober and, lord bless him, i was a crazy person when he came to visit. he was here for a week and eventually we were hardly speaking to each other. but we had planned on going on a hiking trip before he left and on that hike, the world seemed like it was in technicolor. like i was suddenly seeing color for the first time. it was beautiful.

i remember my first cry as a sober person. i sat alone in my car in my driveway and wasn’t sure if i was going to make it. but i remember that cry feeling SO good and being SO cleansing.

i made a lot of mistakes as a newly sober person. like many of us, i thought i was the exception to the suggestion that we should wait a year to date someone and found love after 60 days. he was a former crackhead who had additionally spent over half of his life in and out of aa. my parents were so proud.

i had a wonderful sponsor when i first got sober, and then a wonderful second sponsor when my first one moved. both had incredible programs (which is aa-speak for ‘i admired their sobriety’). i learned so much from them. neither judged me or was bossy; they simply helped me navigate life as a sober person and made suggestions as i went along.

i did my fourth and fifth steps when i was six months sober. on the fourth step, you ‘make a searching and fearless moral inventory’ of one’s self. one suggested way of doing this is to make a list of our sexual history, resentments and then what my part was in every case. the fifth step is when you tell god and someone else everything on those lists. uh…yeh. i decided to do my fifth step with karen because she knew everything else about me, including when i was leaving out the details that would be found on those lists. she would never say this -well, perhaps she would- but in a way i kind of felt like i owed it to her out of respect for our relationship and in order for us to move forward in a completely honest setting. i was told that i would likely be bitchy while i was making that list, that it would take some time to make it, and that i would know when i was finished. i was, it did and i did.

after three weeks of working on my list, i took it to karen on a saturday morning and i spent 3 1/2 hours telling her everything that was on it. i knew she wouldn’t judge me but you might understand that my legs were like jello as i walked up the steps to her office. see, all of these things…i knew that if only god ever knew them, that if i could keep everything secret, then i could pretend like they never really happened. i was once told that my feeling like i was in trouble all the time was a result of carrying around all my secrets.

she just listened to every detail and asked questions if anything needed clarity but was mostly silent. and when i was finished, we prayed and thanked god for shining his light on those dark places. and when i opened my eyes, the light in the room had shifted and i felt a breeze on my back. i knew immediately it was because i was no longer shouldering the weight of the world. and in that moment, i knew i was free. i’m sure i could remember some of the things on those lists if i tried but, for the most part, that list is not even a memory. because that’s how it is with god. and i will tell you this: i never -not once- ever confessed anything as a christian to another christian in church.

{my friend brennan manning says that church should look more like an aa meeting, which i tend to agree. just broken people who know they need god.}

my first year of sobriety, my church was our clubhouse. my congregation, the 7 am group. in aa, everyone has their own higher power. but jesus, after bringing me there, stayed with me there. and that’s where he showed me himself, in the faces of the broken and down-and-outers where there few masks and there was support and encouragement available to whomever needed it. (and we all needed it.) jesus looks different to me through my experience of aa than who i learned him to be in conventional church. he is nicer and kinder and stronger and more forgiving than i understood him to be. and he loves. oh, how he loves.

there are times when once-in-a-while i recognize myself as a ‘dry drunk’. as in, i may not be drinking but i may as well be because i blame and point fingers and feel sorry for myself. (and, by the way, this is neither a pretty or a good thing.) so i do whatever is necessary to take care of myself. i call a friend or go to a meeting or i help someone else. i usually drive if i anticipate the potential need to remove myself from an uncomfortable or toxic situation. i don’t hang out in bars anymore because, really, what would be the point? i can do it, i have done it. but i get bored easily, which is a dangerous place for a sober person to be, especially in a bar. i know my tools and resources that empower and help me. but those tools don’t do me any good sitting on a shelf. i have to be pro-active.

that’s probably one of the biggest gifts sobriety has given me: the desire to be an active participant in my life instead of a spectator watching life happen around me. i no longer feel sorry myself and recognize that i have good, better and best choices that may or may not make a difference in my life or anyone else’s – the point is: they are my choices to make.

another priceless gift i’ve been given is that i really feel my feelings now. on a normal level, i mean. i don’t run, escape or hide from my emotions. and they don’t look crazy, dramatic or extreme. for example, i really love crying. i mean, i don’t, actually (especially because i have such an ugly cry-face). but what i mean is, i love feeling my tears. i love feeling my feelings.

my relationships have also changed since getting sober, most notably with my family. i’m calmer and…well, nicer. my mom recently told me that she appreciates how i use the tools i’ve been given in aa and in counseling to approach life situations. in general, especially in the last year, i’ve just become less about myself. i mean, in my blog, i can really only talk about myself, you know? but i mean, in my day-to-day life, i have become less important. not unimportant, just less so. i am provided for, taken care of, clothed, fed and loved. god really does take care of me, i don’t have to worry with myself. i have learned that the quality of my life is measured in how i treat people and if i love them well.

there are few adages i’ve picked up in aa that i am aware of on a daily basis. one is ‘would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?’ i mean, really? is making my point really that important if it means you and i are going to end up fighting or i might hurt someone’s feelings? i’ve also learned that, just because i think it, doesn’t mean that you need to hear it or that you need to hear it from me. i heard a seasoned person say once, ‘there aren’t bumps in the road. this is the road.’ life happens. i also heard someone say, ‘i didn’t know what i didn’t know before i knew it’, which i’ve found only makes sense to someone whose been through something similar to getting sober.

another is, ‘it’s not my business what other people think of me.’ woh. grab hold of that one if you can. life-changing.

in most meetings, we will open and close with the lord’s prayer and/or the serenity prayer:

god, grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change

the courage to change the things i can

and the wisdom to know the difference.

{accepting things beyond my control, no matter how big or how small, has been huge for me. life is made easier when i go with the flow.}

about two years ago, when i was coming up on my second anniversary, i asked a woman who had been in the program for many years, ‘at what point do you stop waiting for the other shoe to drop?’ she said it was around the three-year mark. my dad died right before that time, which also had something to do with no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop, but i would say that has continued to be true in the last year even so. i’m no longer nervous or afraid of something bad happening (mostly because the worst thing i ever dreamed of happening did).

this is all just a part of my experience in living life as a sober person. it really is a daily process. do i still think about drinking? sometimes. do i walk into a party and immediately assess what everyone is drinking? yep. do i take an inventory of the alcohol in my mom or my sisters’ homes? definitely. but i will tell you that there is not. one. thing. i can think of that would be reason enough for me to ever start drinking again. i wake up every day thanking god that, with his help, i am happy, joyous and free just as the program promises i will be.

one

day

at a

time.



an actual problem.

today i have been sober for 1400 days. or 46 months and a day. or 3 years, 10 months + 1 day. perhaps someone you know and love is currently or has battled in the past with the disease of alcoholism. i’m sorry. it sucks. i grew up in it, i was it – it sucks for you and it sucks for the alcoholic in your life. the disease makes us selfish. we drink because we are angry and/or depressed; in short, we drink because we want to escape something. we may only be bingers; some may be living under a bridge. as the big book says, it’s a cunning, baffling and powerful disease that affects the whole family and i’m just sorry if you’re going through it. there is help, there is hope.

i am going to try and veer away from telling you about the disease of alcoholism itself and simply want to offer you experience, strength & hope through my own story, as we say in aa. i also don’t want to talk about my experience as an adult child of an alcoholic because, like any good acoa, i still want to protect my dad, even though -and perhaps especially because- i don’t have him anymore. sadly, his disease compromised the rest of his health and, therefore, i would venture to say the disease of alcoholism was mostly responsible for his death when it comes right down to it. i do not judge him for this, even though it would be easy to if i didn’t have an understanding of the disease. instead, it makes me mad at the disease for robbing him, and me, of his life. i inherited his disease. we are fellow members of the same club.

here is my story:

i woke up on a cot in a hotel room on sunday, november 5, 2006, still wearing my dress from the night before, covered in my own vomit. my friend laura and her husband chris, who truly are saints of god because i could have ended up anywhere or with anyone and would not have known it, brought me up to their room after our friends heba and ed’s wedding the night before. an open bar at her wedding was the best gift anyone could have ever given me.

when i woke up, still drunk and hungover, laura helped me into the shower. she hadn’t slept very much because she wanted to make sure i was still breathing, that i hadn’t choked on my vomit. she told me later she just thought it was ‘one of those nights’ for me that everyone has once in a while. she didn’t realize i had an actual problem. she didn’t know that, while this was among the worst of ‘one of those nights’ for me, i was prone to drinking too much and often and that i was actually strategic about how many times a month i would go out with which friends so that no one really knew i had an actual problem. she certainly hadn’t set out to do an intervention, but that’s exactly what was about to happen.

laura stood outside the shower and lovingly told me story after story about what an ass i had made of myself the night before. i have no memory after a certain point because i blacked out. {‘black-outs’ aren’t the same as ‘passing out’. you are still ‘awake’, so to speak, in a black-out but it is likely you have no control over yourself and will have no memory of your actions later. there are otherwise good people in jail, for example, for killing people during a black-out.} by the way, that ‘certain point’? the last thing i remember was talking to my friend kelly’s husband seth while we were eating -i think- either peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or chicken biscuits and the reason i can’t recall is because i passed out in the middle of our conversation. i don’t remember very much before that and definitely not one thing after that. the next sort of ‘memory’ i have of the evening was watching myself (i know, weird) throw up everywhere in the hotel lobby in front of the bride, the groom and all of their guests. and then that’s all i can tell you about that.

as laura was filling in the blanks, i could only cry. in fact, i sat down in the shower and sobbed. i had huge dark bruises up and down one side of my body and a big scratch across the opposite side of my face and have no idea how i achieved either, except that laura said they had to carry me out and because i kept falling over. i. was. miserable. – literally, i felt miserable. but i was miserable inside, too. just…unhappy. and i knew i really did have an actual problem. i repented to jesus like i had done the morning after every other drunken night, and then i heard so sweetly in my spirit…

mary kathryn, it’s okay! i LOVE you! let’s just get a hold of this before it gets worse.

if i had never known the tenderness of my sweet jesus before that moment, i knew it then. he was not condemning or even upset with me. at all. he did not judge me or give me the silent treatment. he simply loved me. i didn’t feel his disappointment in me; instead, i knew his delight over me. and that night i responded.

{an aside: this is sort of funny. not really, but sort of. so, the wedding had been out-of-town, about an hour away from where we all lived. i drove home that morning and i really don’t think i realized then that i was still a little bit drunk. (please, please don’t judge me for this. i know there is no excuse for this. i did this often; i was very selfish.) i called every alcoholic i could think of, save for members of my immediately family. i called brennan manning’s office and at home and left messages for him at both, bawling my eyes out the entire time. (i got an email the next day from his assistant who said she could not understand a word of what i said, she just knew something was really wrong.) i called friends who knew and loved me and left messages everywhere i could, weeping and wanting to talk about my ‘problem’. god bless those sweet people.}

i walked into my first aa meeting that night. i will always remember big ed*, a santa claus of a man, being out in front of the clubhouse as if he was waiting there just for me. (really, he was just out there smoking with everyone else.)

it was a speaker meeting and, even though i was a little familiar with the program due to my experience with my dad, i really thought the speaker and the leader of the meeting were professionals. (‘professional drunks‘, i can hear them say.) i would, of course, come to find out that they were drunks just like me and might have been there a few months or a few years before me, but together we all only had that day by the grace of god.

i cried through the entire meeting. and then proceeded to cry at every meeting after that for the next month, maybe longer. i was definitely, definitely a newcomer. and i was definitely, definitely in the right place. i felt relieved and overwhelmed, but i knew i was safe and that i never had to drink again.

after i took my first (and only) white chip at the end of that meeting, a sweet friend, who i would learn later had only gotten sober a few days earlier, told me it had been suggested to him to do a ’90 in 90′. i had no idea what that meant but i agreed (it means 90 meetings in 90 days). the women swarmed over me that night, each one saying ‘get a sponsor…here’s my phone number…here’s a list of meetings…’ i felt like i was in a psychedelic, slow-motion swirl of love, from these people who did not know me but they definitely knew me.

i went to bed that night both exhausted and relieved and had the best night’s sleep i had had in a really long time. and for the first time in a long time, i had hope.

tomorrow, i’ll tell you what it was like before i got sober and then later this week, what my life is like now.

in the meantime, if you think you might have a problem with alcohol or another addiction, there is help available. you are not alone.

*names have been changed to protect anonymity.

bucket list.

With the upcoming celebration of (my) life on the soon-and-coming horizon, I have been recently inspired by HopefulLeigh who was inspired by Michelle My Belle to come up with list of 33 Things to do Before I Turn 34. It’s a really fun idea! I’m so totally a list-maker, so I can’t wait to start crossing things off! I have a few ‘every day’ or ‘once a week’ items, so I’m going to log it all in a journal. Before my birthday I want to decorate and do something fun with my list like Michelle has done. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Effective September 16, this is my Bucket List before my next birthday, September 15, 2011.

33 Things to do Before I Turn 34

  1. Go through dad’s boxes (and mine) and purrrge
  2. Redecorate my walls
  3. Finish all the books sitting next to my bed: Blood Done Sign My Name by my cousin Tim; Silent SaviorMessy Faith by my bff-Amy; The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning; A Grief Observed by CS Lewis; Coaching Third by my mentor Bethany; Along Came Love by my friend Carrie Turansky; The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  4. Lose 15 pounds
  5. Finish one creative project a month
  6. Make a meal with all new recipes once a month and share it with someone
  7. Go see Laura & Shawna in Nashville
  8. Go see Lynde & Mike Ross and Jana & Barry in Austin
  9. Purge CD’s
  10. {oo…should probably keep this one private. sorry.}
  11. Write every day
  12. Walk/Run a ½ marathon
  13. Acquire 50 subscribers to my blog & total 2000 FB friends (which really just means ‘meet new people this year’, not ‘make myself famous’)
  14. Memorize a song on the guitar
  15. Sing in a bar with a band
  16. Work through The Artist’s Way
  17. Celebrate something new every day and write it down to remember
  18. Memorize 10 verses in the Bible
  19. Complete Next Steps for P31
  20. Quit fooling around and make a decision about seminary once and for all, for God’s sake
  21. Take Mom to the Antique show in Virginia in February
  22. Write a letter to, skype with or phone 3 long lost friends a week
  23. Save $1000.00
  24. Read Sex God by Rob Bell with Sara
  25. Complete a Beth Moore Bible study
  26. Go to at least one recovery meeting a week
  27. Attend at least one worship service a month
  28. Actually live by my budget
  29. Learn and implement a new word every week
  30. Do something drastic with my hair
  31. Volunteer
  32. Venture down a country road once a month just to get lost
  33. To say ‘YES’. Always.

If you get inspired to create a list of your own, send it to me! Oh, look. Here come some now…

Happy Tuesday Rain: 30 Things to Do Before 31

books.

i love to read. i don’t read all the time but at any given moment, i have about 5 or 12 books next to my bed. it takes me anywhere from 2 months to 2 years to finish reading one book because i swap through them all at once.

currently on my second-hand hand-me-down bedside table that i pulled from my sister’s give-away pile, messy faith and silent savior by my bff-amy. she wrote silent savior first but messy faith was the first to be published so i’m trying to go in that order but i really can’t wait to read silent savior because i know that one is her child. (i do receive an honorable mention in messy faith, although i wouldn’t let her put my name in there for the story that she tells…even though now it wouldn’t even matter. i’m sorry, ame. :(also there: one of my precious friend brennan manning’s latest books, the furious longing of god; and the year of magical thinking by joan didion that my bff-annya lent me this spring. she read it after her dad died tragically exactly a year ago yesterday, which was before mine died in october. this is the one i keep picking up for now.

on my other bedside table, i have a collection of about 73 bibles. even so, i still just carry around my little non-threatening evangelistic tool in my purse, which is the one i usually draw out to study.

my all-time favorite, life-changing, i-could-pick-them-up-at-a-moment’s-notice-and-not-put-down books (in no particular order) are:

traveling mercies by anne lamott: her raw, gut-honest, potentially offensive essays of her life tell the story of how she came to faith. so refreshing to my soul and hilariously funny (also good for the soul).

blue like jazz by donald miller: his was probably the first memoir of his kind that i couldn’t put down. just candid story-telling about life and faith. he’s been compared to anne lamott…which i get why folks say that, but…i don’t know, their lives and styles are still different. at one point before i got sober, i was reading it on my couch at The Big House (which is what we called my grandparents’ home where i lived, by the way; not talking about jail here, people) while i drank four some bottles glasses of pinot grigio and ate a lot of cheese and olives and decided i would write him a letter. which i did. on the back of a paper bag. which i never sent.

captivating by john & stasi eldredge: the best book for women (and the men who love them) i’ve ever read ever. i read it at least once a year. i would recommend any of their books. love all of them. for a while, i wanted to read wild at heart but just felt like god didn’t want me to (one of those weird things i can’t explain, i just knew i wasn’t supposed to read it yet). and then, one day, i just felt free to pick it up. only i was going to test it first by reading the ‘beauty to rescue’ chapter before delving into the rest. i just wanted to be sure i could relate to that particular part before deciding if it was worth my time to read any more. read the whole thing in a matter of hours.

ragamuffin gospel by brennan manning: i can only read little bits and pieces at a time in order to wrap my mind around and soak up with my heart his raw understanding of jesus.

most of these have a spiritual or inspirational bent to them. while you won’t find any harlequin -or other, really- novels on my bookcase, i love reading all kinds of books (and trashy gossip magazines).

what about you? what are your favorite books?

fyi, i’m not getting anything for promoting these reads. i just thought we’d talk about books today is all.

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