#Say What

 

My first drink of alcohol was the summer after my senior year in high school. In comparison to many of my classmates, I guess you could say I was a late bloomer. But it didn’t matter that I had waited; it didn’t matter that according to the law I was too young to drink; what mattered was that an entirely new world opened up to me. For a girl full of insecurities and anxiety, it didn’t take long for alcohol to become my best friend. My college years were one big party. Although every once in a while I heard that voice that I had learned to quiet well tell me this wasn’t the best choice, for the most part I felt my behavior was normal, extremely age appropriate and very accepted. I met my now-husband at a college party and our lives became intertwined with parties, drinking and fun. We married right out of college and I followed him across the country, following his career in the military, where we continued living the “college” life a few years more. We began trying for a baby and when faced with infertility, I was able to numb that pain with drinking and with the bar scene I knew I would have to give up if I were to have a baby. Two years into our struggle, we were blessed with our first miracle. For nine months I was sober and the voice became a little more than a whisper…do you really want to spend your life drunk? Don’t you think there’s more? The memory of the moment they placed my first son into my arms still brings me to tears. So much hope, perfection, miracles and love wrapped up in one tiny blanket. I wish I could say that moment was stronger than my desire to drink. But it wasn’t long before I was having a glass of wine, which seemed appropriate as a new mom. And then months later, when we were at a new base, in a new home and I had no friends, no family, those glasses of wine turned into a bottle of wine. I was not a fall down drunk. I still got up with my son; I may have had a headache or a dull ache behind my temple, but I was physically there. We began trying for a brother or sister for my one year old son, hoping this time would be easier. It wasn’t. I suffered 3 miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy, where I lost my tube; thankfully I was at the hospital when my tube burst, or I may not be sitting here today. During this time, we had begun attending a new church. For the first time in my life I signed up for a Bible study. And for the first time since high school, I dove deep into the Bible. I immersed myself and became a born again Christian. The voice, which I now understood to be the Holy Spirit, became louder and clearer. Drinking had to stop. For me, coming from a family of alcoholics, it was too risky. And more importantly, my drinking took precedence over God. In those days, I was too ashamed to get up and have quiet time after I had been drinking. I have to laugh at myself now, how ridiculous it was to only face God on a sober sunrise morning, as if He didn’t know full well why I had slept in the day before.

A few weeks before my son turned three, we found out I was pregnant. I literally fell to my knees in our bathroom, bawling my eyes out and thanking God. I didn’t know at the time that although it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, it was the beginning of a long uphill journey. We found out I was having twins (miracle)! We found out one was smaller. We tried not to worry. We found out Baby B, the smaller babe, had a congenital heart condition. My world literally shifted the moment I found out and my new normal began. Four days after the twins birth, he had his first open heart surgery. I remember, shortly after their birth, lying in bed, promising my D (the baby with the heart condition), that for him I would give up drinking. I had to. A few days later, sitting in my kitchen, I promised I would just cut down. It was three more years before I actually took the plunge, opened my tightly closed fists up to God and in exhaustion cried out, “Here. Take this away from me.” Thankfully, there was no official rock bottom that led me to the decision, although there was plenty of moments that leave me ashamed. Ashamed as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter. I often find myself wondering what college would have been like had I not approached it as one big party. I could have learned so much more, done so much more, been so much more. I can acknowledge that the emotion I felt towards the ladies down the street from me a few years back who didn’t drink at BBQ’s and block parties was jealousy. I didn’t realize I was jealous of their sober contentment. Last week, I celebrated one year of sobriety. I have come a very long way, completely and totally by the grace of God. The funny thing is when I started telling people I was no longer drinking, most of my friends literally said, “SAY WHAT?” I was the official party girl, the “fun” one. These days, I’ve learned I’m actually pretty fun sober. In fact, I’m actually funnier and on the plus side, I remember all the conversations the following morning. Its been a year of trials and blessings. I learned quickly that some of my “friends” were merely drinking pals. I learned I have some amazing real friends. I learned my husband is the most supportive, loving man a gal could ask for; I’ve learned I can run; I’ve learned my house is messier sober, as I don’t stay awake late into the night drinking wine in order to clean and impress my neighbors…and I’m learning that’s okay. Most importantly, I’ve learned the true meaning of God’s grace. I believe he will use my drinking years for good and that I’m a valuable child of His with much to offer. And even if all I have to offer goes no further than raising my beautiful, rambunctious, miraculous three boys, then it’s completely worth it. Here’s to many more sober sunrises.

Saying Yes to God

Last week I began an online Bible study, called What Happens when Women say Yes to God, which has inspired me to start this blog. The theme of the first chapter in the book is “Whatever God says do, do it!”  So what is holding me back from going deeper in my relationship with God?

My son, J, is a four year old boy with bouncing blonde curls and a very tender heart. Every new experience he encounters, from a new playground to making new friends, to going to preschool is a long and sometimes painful process. He’s insanely smart and extremely sensitive. Recently, I enrolled him and his twin brother, D, in swim lessons. My husband and I agreed it was long overdue, but as you can imagine, we knew we were facing a battle. J loves the water, but swimming pools terrify him. He’ll run into the ocean or a lake and he’ll throw a fit if I don’t let him spend ample time in the bathtub, but that sweet boy was not  a fan of swimming pools and he would not stop clinging to the side of that pool until very recently (two weeks into swim lessons to be exact) and that came only after plenty of encouragement, cheering, promises of safety and good old fashion bribery. Now he actually looks forward to swim lessons and is so very proud of himself, as I knew he would be. But every week the teacher walks those four year olds to the deep end; and she jumps off the diving board and waits, arms wide open for those little one’s to jump off the diving board into her arms. As you can imagine, the first few weeks J wouldn’t even get near the edge. Just last week, however, I watched in amazement as he slowly climbed onto the board. He walked to the end and looked over the edge. He looked at his teacher. He looked at me. He stood there at least one full minute, his face alternating between determination and fear. And then he backed off the board and the next child hopped on the board and into the water. His face was lined with disappointment. I told him I was so proud that he’d taken that next step, that he had tried, but his big blue eyes couldn’t hide the hurt.

I think that’s where I’m at in my walk with God. I love getting into the water; splashing around and I’m really good at holding onto the side with a death grip. I can so relate to that fear my sweet J has. Standing on the edge, knowing I would be jumping into the arms of someone that loves me so much He allowed HIS SON to die for me and carry my sins. Yet—to actually jump? To leave the safety of secure footing? Yes–I believe the jump, the plunge, will be worth it–but there are countless what-if’s. I’d be risking so much. So I have to weigh my fears vs. my possibilities.

I have no doubt J will jump off that diving board in the very near future. And what a joyful and blessed moment in my life as a momma to see his delight and his excitement at finally understanding how awesome jumping off the diving board can be. What a precious reward to realize the exhilaration and the comfort that comes with being caught in the arms by his teacher.

Yes, I have trepidation in letting go of my fears, doubts, concerns and most certainly my control. But I know that it’s the only way. And the eternal reward will be epic. So here’s to walking to the edge, peeking over and diving right in!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give  you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11