The Next Chapter

Just hours after I said that I don’t have much to share these days, all kinds of thoughts started churning around. I haven’t even slept well the past two nights because my mind’s been racing! It reminded me of all the times I proclaimed that I was going to do a new image series, and then the whole idea would just fizzle out. I can never seem to stick with a plan! This time it worked for my benefit though… sort of reverse psychology, I guess.

I was going through my files yesterday, doing a little housecleaning, and I came across one of my old posts; back when I first started the blog. It was such a great reminder to me, and the timing was perfect!

When my friend Gil first encouraged me to write, and to share my story with others, it was the first time in SO long that I felt my life had purpose. I not only had my sobriety, I had this HOPE that I could share with others. I think my exact words were that “I was going to write the story of how my life was transformed.”

I’m going to cut to the chase now: I’m ready for the next chapter!

I’ve had this idea—kind of a vision about my future—for over a year now. If you hadn’t noticed, my image here represents a page of my book. I know, I know, it’s not exactly spectacular and it kind of looks like a paper bag, but HEY, it’s slowly being turned to reveal the first page of the new chapter; Chapter Two.

But, there’s nothing there!

That’s exactly where my vision came from. One of the biggest hurdles that I had to get over in sobriety was to stay that way. 60 days, 90 days, the countdown went on. And on. Coming from a place where I’d done so much damage to my life that I was left standing in a pile of rubble, and then reaching all of those milestones and realizing that life was good, God was great, and that I was sober; I found myself at another hurdle. A more complicated hurdle. What next??

That’s how going back to school came about, and with every passing day my vision is morphing and growing, and becoming more and more possible. So… what next? I’d like to set up a program to work with others who are in recovery. People who have reached or are nearing that hurdle; that what next phase of their recovery. Getting sober is hard, but “living sober” is a journey. And for people like me who hit rock bottom, it means there’s a life to rebuild. A second chance. A new beginning!

I’m still making notes, doing my research, getting questions answered, and so on, but I thought that now was a good time to share the idea. I was hesitant because… well, sometimes I have a hard time sticking to a plan! But, a year’s gone by and the dream hasn’t gone away. It’s been blossoming, really. I pray about it a lot, and lately everything keeps pointing to the fact that this may actually come to fruition.

I’ll start small—baby steps—with just one person, but I gotta be honest here…

I’m dreaming BIG.

Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.

Finding Rest

I found the words this morning! So, I am going to go with it, with very little editing… so I hope this all makes sense. I guess the coolest thing I’ve found about studying the word trust is that it keeps leading me to new words.

This morning the word was REST.

First of all… here is what I’ve learned about what it means to trust God…

He is a place of refuge, and (in) Him we are surrounded by His protection and embraced by His compassion. Trusting Him means: to lean on Him, to rely on Him, to hold onto Him, to flee to Him for protection, to stay, to hope, to expect, to be patient, and to linger in expectation… and wait.

It also has a lot to do with being on the inside. Examples are:

to be firm (in), to confide (in), to have confidence (in), to be secure (in), to seek refuge (in), to feel safe (in), to have assurance (in), to abide (in) and to find rest (in).

This morning finding rest in Him was what I decided to focus on because it relates to surrender…

My struggles with surrender have very LITTLE to do with “lack of trust” in God, but have everything to do with what I am accustomed to; which is ME being in charge.

That’s my former way of life.

I spent DECADES as an unbeliever, so the fact of the matter is… I spent decades trying to play God. I was seated on the throne, and I remained there until my imaginary kingdom was in ruins, and I was as close as I ever want to be to… death from alcohol.

Anyway, I feel really good right now because I know it just takes time.

When I call myself an alcoholic it feels really weird. I don’t drink anymore, nor do I have any desire to. But… as they say… alcoholism is but a symptom. In truth, alcohol is just ONE of things that I’ve been addicted to, chased, followed or even worshiped. False gods.

My life was FULL of them; Alcohol, drugs, money, success, shopping, and the love of a man… to name a few.

I won’t say that I sat on this imaginary throne feeling all-powerful, because I had very LITTLE power. I just didn’t know any better. I lived a life run by self-will, and I sought anything and everything that I thought would fill that huge void, make me happy, and fix my life.

Page 62 of the A.A. big book states “…the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot” and that is truer and true. I ran rampant!

Not until I had no other options… and was completely and utterly hopeless, did I look to God. But, He did exactly what He promises to do. He was there for me, and He led me out of that dark pit. Even after decades of rebellion.

So… what does this have to do with today? Well… what I discovered recently was that although I have great passion for writing and photography, those are “extras”. They are His blessings, and I cannot REST in those things, nor can I look to them to be the source of my happiness and security.

This is something that I was feeling inside, so it might not be so obvious to anyone else. But the fact of the matter is, what is happening inside of us is THE most important thing.

I began pursuing something and… without really realizing it… I was leaving God behind. I put something else FIRST. I ended up feeling irritable, confused, a little lost… and depressed. I knew something was wrong. Everything was bugging me. My camera was not good enough. I couldn’t find the right things to take pictures of, I was tired of trees and birds, yada yada yada. That’s one reason I was so happy to go to my sister’s house for a week. I needed to regroup.

Anyway… I realized what was wrong, admitted my problem, took a U-turn, and there He was. Waiting for me to return so that He could shower me with His love and surround me with His grace. How sweet is that?!

Everything is just as it should be today. And I came across a great quote that I want to keep close to me from here on out:

Everywhere the King is King, there is the Kingdom.

That’s so easy to remember, and a great reminder for me to stay OFF of that throne.

I need to surrender daily, and simply allow the King to be King. In HIS kingdom is where I am content, loved and full of joy…

…and it is where I find my REST.

Today is a good day, and God is GREAT!!!

Success is not what I’ve done compared with what others have done. Success is what I’ve done compared with what God has called me to do. Lecrae Moore, Unashamed

This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my art. No way!! I’ve just put it back into it’s proper place in my priorities.

Shades of Spring

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Francis of Assisi

I’m not a huge fan of pastels, but I thought this was a good fit for the season. And I’m pretty sure that this is a dove. Pigeons and doves confuse me sometimes.

I don’t know if I shared that quote before, but it’s been my mantra for the past week and will continue to be for awhile. I realized recently that I was getting WAY ahead of myself for a little while. Or way ahead of God I should say. Sometimes I get some grandiose ideas and then I realize that there are still very small things that I’ve yet to tackle!

That’s a bit humbling. And alcoholic thinking.

Anyway, I guess a good thing to remember when walking with God is to walk WITH Him, not a mile or so ahead! What’s funny is I’ve been thinking about that a lot and wanted to do a post called No Shortcuts! Then today, I’m reading In the Grip of Grace, by Max Lucado and I came across this:

“What we consider shortcuts God sees as disasters.”

Amen to that. I’ve taken shortcuts for so many years that it’s still a struggle to pause and be still sometimes, but I am definitely making progress! And I’m going to be working on the little things that need to be done. For now. 🙂

I may still write that post. Later. For now it’s time for lights out.

Have a beautiful day!

Are You in There?

Sometimes I look in the mirror and say… “where did my personality go?!?” 

Well… maybe I don’t look in the mirror and say it, but I DO wonder what’s up with me lately. And I don’t mean it in a horrible, sad, woe is me way either. It’s just that I get to the point (now and then) when I realize it’s been WAY too long since I’ve had a good laugh. I still chuckle, but I don’t LOL like I used to.

I had a dream last night that I was drinking. How bizarre is that?!?! It was weird!

I don’t even think about drinking, at ALL, so I have NO idea where it came from. I hope it’s not because I’m back in the A.A. circuit and listening to all that talk about alcohol… absorbing some kind of subliminal messages or something?

The meetings really ARE going well though.

Also, I’m emailing my sponsor my resume and we’re going to work on finding me a part time job. Finally. I haven’t given up on the photography and writing- but for now I’m cool with just having them as fun-time hobbies. I haven’t even been out much with the camera lately- which is why I am pulling out archives these days.

Life is good and God is great!!

A Bit of Humility?

Awhile back I received a private message from someone about my blog. In the message, they mentioned something about my attachment to religion. Believe it or not, the very first thought I had was:

“RELIGION!?! I’m not attached to religion! I have a relationship with God!”

I didn’t reply to the message with that thought, but it’s exactly what came to mind. Where on earth does my blog say that I am attached to religion? If you were to review my posts all the way back to day one, I would bet a dollar that you would rarely- if ever– find the word religion. Not that I intentionally omit it, mind you, it’s just a word that I don’t use very often. Or even think of really.

So… today is actually the perfect day for this post. It is the seven month anniversary of my baptism. Alright, so maybe THAT sounds religious. Anyway, my point is that today is a good day to share what I’ve been learning this past week- which will also explain more about my desire to separate topics on the blog. Sobriety and MY walk with God…

I’m not afraid to admit my mistakes. Optimism is a real blessing when it comes to recognizing my wrong thinking. I become excited (and grateful) that I’m fortunate enough to be learning lessons, because that is growth! And I learn a little more about humility, and sometimes even humiliation… but that’s OK. I’ve seen far worse things than that!

What I’m being led to these days is that my thoughts on how to approach others who want to recover has been a bit off. It seems as though I was right in feeling that I wasn’t quite ready, because it appears that I was NOT! I’ve done a little more rewording in my big book reading, and how it applies to ME, step 12, and my approach toward others:

“Because of my own drinking experience, I can be uniquely useful to other alcoholics.

I CANNOT start out as an evangelist or reformer.

Tell the other person exactly what happened to ME. Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the person be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that they do not have to agree with MY conception of God. They can choose any conception they like, provided it makes since to THEM.

The main thing is that they be willing to believe in a Power greater than themselves, and that they live by spiritual principles.

Use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice they may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which they may already be confused.

Don’t raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are!”

Being stuck in your alcoholism (or any addiction) is sometimes referred to as being in the pit. And I know that this is true, because I’ve been there. A few times!

A friend of mine uses the phrase “going down into the trenches” for working with other alcoholics, and it actually works as the perfect analogy for what came to me the other night; so here it is…

Someone is down in the pit. I am standing up above the pit, on safe ground, and they are calling up to me for help. The way I was headed with my original thoughts was to call down to them: “Seek God!! Pray!! He can help you if you let Him… but first you must believe!”

If you’ve followed my posts awhile, I think you might see that this has been my mindset… and BOY does it sound silly now… as I write this. What would REALLY benefit them is if I was to go down into that trench (pit) with them, listen and get to know them, tell them about MY experiences in the pit… and then show them the steps that led ME out, and will lead THEM out if they are willing to take those steps.

My job is not to preach, it is to help.

God never forces Himself on anyone, nor does He expect me to. We are His body, and I am confident that He would prefer that I forgo any thoughts about preaching, and get my butt down there, in that trench, and help get that person out!

So… that explains my reasons for wanting to separate the topics. When I talk about recovery, I want to teach myself how to speak of it correctly…

…which is without prejudice.

Of course the other lesson I am learning is READ YOUR BOOKS!

Blessings-

Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak. G.K. Chesterton