One Day at a Time: Day 23

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I returned to work on Monday after two glorious weeks of vacation. I’m not exaggerating. It was by far the best and most fulfilling Christmas season that I’ve had in a very long time. I was ready to go back to work, I love my teaching job and my body was craving a return to a “normal” routine. Of course, the kids and I enjoyed staying up late and sleeping in past the sunrise, but we had all packed on some holiday “celebration” pounds that needed to be dealt with. I knew that a return to reality would most certainly assist us in shedding our winter coats.

Monday arrived and so did the lullaby of my alarm at 4:50 AM. I’m totally kidding. At that ungodly early hour, there is no such thing as a lullaby; it was more like a nails on a chalkboard kind of awakening. And with that, I joyously jumped out of bed and began my 30-minute workout with my 21-Day Fix video pals.

I’m lying. I didn’t get out of bed and I didn’t work out. I laid there and surfed Facebook and checked my email. I told myself that I would workout when I got home that evening.  The only morale-boosting activities I accomplished before leaving for work were reading my daily devotional and praying. Had I not completed those staples, I do believe a full meltdown would have ensued at some point during the day.

I didn’t work out when I got home that evening and I I ate a half a box of red licorice before I went to bed. I felt “blah” and I just felt sad, maybe even a bit depressed. I wish that I could say that I snapped out of my mood on Tuesday, but I didn’t. The only difference was instead of devouring licorice, I sucked down a half of a box of Bottlecaps. I was in a funk. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why; but I felt down and out.

I was frustrated and a bit ticked off that I wasn’t experiencing joy everyday, all day. I mean, I was sober now and was finally allowing myself to live my life and be present in the moments of my day and I here I was practically in the fetal position inhaling every carb I could get my hands on.

I began to journal and pour out my heart to God. I just wanted Him to understand how I was feeling and since I couldn’t seem to talk to Him without crying or popping an M&M, I figured writing would be my best option. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but what ended up on paper was amazing. The bottom line was this: bad or good, I was living. Not only was I living, but I was doing so without drowning my feelings in a bottle of wine. Yes, I was feeling a bit melancholy and frustrated that I wasn’t in the best of spirits, but I was working through these thoughts and feelings in a healthy way.

In the very recent past, two bad days would have ended in a pattern of drinking, self-loathing, condemnation, guilt, and disgust. And though I know that my Heavenly Father has loved and will continue to love me unconditionally even in my darkest hours, on this occasion,  I was able to spend time in His presence and actually remember and enjoy our encounter. I was able to let my tears flow and allow Him to just love on me.

This is such a new concept for me because my earthly father has never been there for me. He once told me a “funny” story about how he begged my mom to abort me. She refused and here I am. I don’t say this looking for sympathy, or for shock value, but to make a point. Unfortunately, those of us who have absentee fathers often find it difficult to allow our Heavenly Father to swoop in and just hold us. We struggle with hearing him brag on us and have a hard time believing His unconditional declaration of love for us. I’m his favorite kid and so are you! And it feels good; not it feels phenomenal. Let’s enjoy being “the favorite.”

Look, everyday of our lives is not going to be a 5-star, lottery winning, Disneyland-visiting type of awesome day. I know this, I mean I’m not delusional. And as I go through this process of healing and allow God to guide me through the peaks and valleys, I am able to experience the life that He created just for me. And you, my friend, are able to do the same; anytime, anyplace, anywhere. He’s not only the absolute best daddy, but He’s a pretty darn good tour guide, as well.

Bryant McGill of simplereminders.com says this, “Don’t be afraid to express your love. Open yourself to feeling everything. Living without feeling is no different than not living at all.” And I must say, I totally agree with him. I thought that I was pretty awesome at expressing my love. But, looking back, when I stopped allowing myself to experience my feelings and began drowning out my emotions and life in an unrelenting storm of alcohol, that gift began to fade. The toxic blend of shame and unworthiness really stopped that love flow.

I am so thankful that this dam is breaking. The demolition crew has arrived and I am being liberated. I realize allowing ourselves to feel everything is not an easy task and one that will require commitment. But, I truly believe that it is one that we will never regret making. There is no doubt that we will experience bad days and good; sad days and joyful ones. The key is to experience them fully, knowing with absolute certainly that our Heavenly Father is there through it all and always has the best plan for our lives.

Today was a better day. On our walk this afternoon, I couldn’t help but look around at the beauty of our surroundings in absolute joy and awe. There was an added pep in my step and overflow of love in my heart and I knew that everything was going to be better than okay. After all, I am loved by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and so are you. This truly makes my heart want to sing.

One final note, I know that this winter coat will be shed. Stay tuned for that transformation, it’s going to be amazing.

Blessings and hugs to you my friends. ❤

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A New Kind of Go-Go Juice

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I went to sleep last night and woke up this morning with the realization that I am returning to work tomorrow. As some of you know, I am a high school English teacher and my Christmas vacation is quickly coming to an end. It’s okay. It’s been the best vacation I’ve had in a very long time and I’m ready to go back. Shoot, I would even go so far as to say that I have missed my students and colleagues. So, I’m okay with jumping back into a routine on Monday morning at 4:00 AM and making 2015 the best year of my 42, almost 43 years, on this planet.

Still, something has been nagging at me. Something is bothering me and it is most likely the same something that is always trying to make a mess out of the balance of my life.

You see, I am a two-speed kinda girl. For the majority of my life, I have either functioned at the snail’s pace of procrastination or the you-know-whats to the wall speed of do it and do it now! Woot woot! God has been dealing with me on this issue for some time, but unfortunately, His wise words have fallen on deaf, prideful, stubborn, or even hungover ears. I mean, I was doing okay. Stuff was getting done; well the stuff I wanted to get done was getting done. The rest, well, it got done, too. It was just taking a wee bit longer.

So, there you have it. By limiting myself to only two speeds, there was absolutely no balance in my life. Within those RPMs or MPHs, lived dread and chaos. What I mean is that in the endless maze of procrastination, feelings of anxiety and trepidation clawed their way to the surface. I created all kinds of scenarios of failure where new endeavors were concerned, so I just didn’t do them. If the tasks at hand were mundane, such as cleaning out the closet or garage, a little liquid “go-go juice,” or wine always helped me put the petal to the metal. Either way, the fuel to change my gears from hesitation to full-blown implementation was chardonnay, merlot, white zinfandel; you get the picture.

Hmmm…well today is day twenty of my sobriety, so that pumping station is closed. Now what. The “flesh patterns” of my past needed to stay in the past. And I needed to replace those toxic habits with healthy ones. I’m not going backwards and God doesn’t want me to.

And so I began dialoguing with Him. It went a little something like this:

“Father, I absolutely do not want to be limited to only two speeds anymore. And I know you didn’t design me to only function in two speeds. And since the fuel I was using for so long is no longer an option, please help me find what I need to be who You designed me to be.”

Silence.

I continued to pray and talk to God. I read my daily devotionals. Then, I put on my walking shoes, leashed the dogs, enticed Ken into going on a walk and began my trek to discover answers.

God never, ever, ever disappoints. First off, he instructed me to enjoy the “here and the now” of our walk. That meant that when my mind started to wander, He gently brought it back to reality. I was able to actually enjoy the flowing water, the tress, the pine cones, the acorns, the smell of wood burning and the sound of my own breathing as we hiked up the hills. It was mesmerizing!

“Think about how much you love your children, Kristen.”

Instantly, tears erupted from my eyes. I know I’ve mentioned this, but since entering into sobriety, my emotions and feelings have been allowed to surface and though it can be a bit overwhelming at times, it is so beautiful. I spent many years pushing them down and choking on them. Not anymore, they have been liberated and will not be imprisoned again.

“I cannot even describe how much I love my children, Lord. I have no words,” I whispered.

“I love you infinitely more than that,” He replied.

And I just let the river flow. His love absolutely saturated me and I was present in the moment and suddenly “stuff” began to make sense. As a mom, I go out of my way to make sure my kids have everything they need to experience joy and live successful lives. Still, my “adult” children are now 20 and 22 years old and sometimes, many times, much to my dismay, discount my advice or “gentle recommendations.”

Well, I am God’s adult child and I made a flesh pattern of doing the same darn thing, especially when his “advice” involved something I didn’t want to do or disagreed with.

Revelation. Yet another, “Aha” moment. God is my “go-go” juice. My Heavenly Father is the fuel that propels me into exactly the right speed at the precise moment for the task at hand. He always has my best interest at heart and His plans and dreams for me far surpass my own. There is nothing and nobody who could possibly love me more than He does. Today, I experienced His Agape Love. Today, I received His love. Today, I believe in His love.

If He tells me to do something, I’m gonna do it. If He tells me to say something, I’m gonna say it. His plan for me is perfect and I would be delusional if I thought my plan was better than His. Make no mistake, I have been delusional in this thought pattern before. It absolutely does not work. I believe that with each passing day, more of His plan for me will be revealed and day by day, I will walk, skip, jump or run out that plan. I will travel that road at whatever speed He deems necessary.

Something else I was reminded of today is that God will never tell us to do something we aren’t equipped for. I know that in the past, my flesh has risen up and talked me out of doing some things God told me to do. Blogging was one of them. I am so glad that I finally listened and obeyed.

Fear can be debilitating and the enemy knows it. If satan can keep us in fear, ain’t nothing getting done. We need to remember that fear is not of God. Look at David. He was a 17 year-old boy when confronted with the daunting and terrifying task of defeating Goliath. Goliath was a giant. In the natural, Goliath should have crushed David. Even the spectators and David’s supporters referred to Goliath as a giant.

You know what? David didn’t. Nope, he referred to his foe as “an uncircumcised Philistine.” What he was saying was that Goliath was not of God and therefore held no power over him. That teenager refused to see Goliath in the natural and made the choice to have faith and see his situation spiritually. He saw himself as the  victor and not the victim. And you know what? That giant went down!

Whatever our giants may be, God has given us the power to defeat them. He has given us the keys to the kingdom and He wants us to use them.  When we actually involve the Lord in our planning and let Him take the lead, He will most certainly bless all that we put our hands to. We can no longer allow the busyness and chaos of life drown out or water down our relationship with Him.

I want to be the kind of woman who chooses wisely and plans well. That means that if it’s not the Lord’s will, I want whatever it is to slip through my grasp and I have faith that He will give me the peace not to worry about it. Meditate on that. Following God’s plan is like batting a thousand. It just doesn’t get better.

If we stay in constant communication with our Heavenly Father, He will reveal whatever the plan is for that day or season. All we have to do is follow it. Let’s encourage each other to live faith-filled lives. Let’s keep each other uplifted, while holding one another accountable for our decisions and flesh patterns.

Let me encourage you, friends. God is the only “go-go” juice we need. His fueling station never runs dry and if we stay connected to Him, neither will ours. Our tires will always be perfectly balanced and we will always travel at the right speed.

Blessings and hugs! 🙂

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Happy Birthday, Dad

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Today is my dad’s birthday. He turned twenty years old exactly one month before I was born. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually celebrated my dad’s birthday with him. And, I need even fewer fingers to acknowledge the number of times my father has wished me a happy birthday.

Let me be clear; I am not bitter. At times, I mourn the loss of the father that I never had, but since my dad isn’t dead, mourning is probably the wrong term. I mean, after all, how can you mourn something that you never had to begin with and it sounds even more silly to pine over a relationship with someone who wants nothing to do with you or your children.

For most of my life, my father has been MIA and when he has made brief appearances, it has never ended well. Our relationship is certainly not a conventional one and the roles have always been reversed. What I mean is that I have always taken on the parental role, while he has been comfortable in the role of a child or adolescent.

I can speculate that the reason he gravitates to the adolescent role is because he was never shown how to be a father. His dad was a “Disneyland” dad and wasn’t very involved in his upbringing. I think my dad was starved for the affection of his father and was disappointed that he never received it. To make up for his absentee father, my grandmother spoiled my dad and became very possessive of him. She remained that way until her death two years ago. He was her puppet until the very end and with her death, came his freedom.

My dad has never been there for me. And that hurts. He missed every single one of my milestones in childhood and adulthood. He wasn’t in the audience of my high school graduation, nor did he visit me in the hospital during the births of my children. He doesn’t acknowledge my birthday and he doesn’t know the dates of my childrens’ births. These are facts. I accept them. I don’t like them. But, I deal with this reality.

When my little sister died of complications due to alcoholism at the age of thirty, I hadn’t spoken to my father in over three years. I was forced to cut ties with both him and my sister due to their addictions. I could not allow them to be around my children because their behavior was nothing any child should be subjected to. It was a behavior that I had seen all through my own childhood; needles, baggies, slurred words and sporadic behavior. But it was one that I was determined to shelter my children from.

The morning of Jaimie’s death, the phone rang at 7:59 AM and I knew something was terribly wrong. The phone never rings that early on a Saturday morning unless something is wrong. My husband handed me the phone, and my father screamed, “Your sister is dead. Jaimie is dead.” I remember thinking, this has to be a joke. She’s just a baby. But, my heart began to sink because I knew that the reality of her lifestyle often times leads to death.  Still, why her? Both of my parents had spent much of their lives as addicts and they were still alive. But my sister, their daughter, wasn’t. How was that fair? It wasn’t. But choices lead to consequences and sometimes those consequences can be devastating to those left behind to pick up the pieces.

Jaimie was my dad’s favorite child. We were his only children and he had always wanted a boy and Jaimie was the closest thing to a male. She was an amazing athlete, as was my dad, so they had a lot in common. She was fit and competitive and was beautiful to watch on the soccer field. Even in the dysfunction of their enabling relationship, she remained his favorite. So when she died in his house, it devastated him. And there I was, “Mother Hen” to pick up the pieces.

Since he was incapable of doing so, I planned and organized my sister’s funeral. He was barely functioning, so my husband and I took over. The funeral was pathetically sad, but I survived. And for a while, my dad came back into our lives. I made every effort to make him feel welcomed, but it didn’t last. Another relapse and and he was again out of my life.

There was a brief reconciliation after his mother passed away, but he was now free to pursue his life without answering to her and so that was what he decided to do.  I still text him on Christmas and his birthday and on Jaimie’s birthday and death day and he still does not text back.

Sometimes, that really makes me want to scream. I have never asked him for anything and everything I have ever accomplished has been without his help. So, why then is a return text message too much to ask? I mean, I love my children unconditionally, so as a parent, I just don’t get it.

Then it happened. I sent my dad the annual text on my sister’s birthday and worded it like this, “Happy birthday to your baby girl. I bet she’s eating a ton of birthday cake.” And much to my surprise, he texted me back. “Tell her I said happy birthday.” Ummmm…what? After a few more texts, I figured out that he didn’t remember his daughter’s birthday and he thought I was talking about one of my daughters. (His granddaughters)

I feel guilty even admitting this, but I was relieved. I mean, maybe he didn’t actually hate me. And if he couldn’t remember his favorite daughter’s birthday, then I shouldn’t feel so bad that he could never remember mine, either.

I would be lying if I said that at times I don’t get mad or sad about my absentee father. I do. It would be nice to have him around to be a dad to me and a grandfather to my children. But I was reminded at Bible study last night just how much my Heavenly Father loves me and boy, is He an awesome granddad to my children.

I am hopeful that someday my biological dad will become part of our family. I think every child desires to have their parents in their life and I just don’t think that desire goes away.

But, until then, I will continue to pray for my dad everyday and send him those text messages in hopes that he will someday reply. And today, on day fifteen of my sobriety, I choose to open my heart to others and experience all that life has to offer.

“One of the most important lessons in life is learning to turn what seems like senseless pain and suffering into something meaningful for yourself and others.” Through all of this pain and confusion, I choose to love my dad. I choose to forgive my dad. Because after all, unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. No, thank you. I choose forgiveness. I choose life. You should do the same.

And who knows, maybe my dad will text me back a simple, “thank you,” for wishing him a happy birthday. And if not, that’s okay. I will survive.

Be blessed, friends.

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