Dear God

girl-prayingDear God,

Today, I got nothin.

So, what to do, what to do?  I suppose I’ll go back to the basics: gratitude, praise and then petition, then my memorized Catholic prayers, mainly  my Marian prayers.

Okay, gratitude first: thank you for my sobriety. Sometimes I get jealous that other people can drink and I can’t.  And they don’t even love it as much as I do!  It doesn’t seem very fair?  But thank you for it. You never promised me fair. You promised me peace.

Thank you for my precious boys!!

Ben hit a home run Friday night, got his arse kicked in tennis Saturday, and then played with cousins on Sunday—the life of being a child!  Ups, downs, fun—none of it is taken too seriously. I got an email from on of Ben’s baseball coaches from five years ago, saying he ran into him at the ballpark this weekend and wanted to compliment us on what a handsome, respectful, good boy we are raising.  Proud Mama Bear.

And my Brian, my baby!  He’s so conscientious, judicious. My little attorney. He’ll win an argument with Ben even if he is completely wrong simply because he’s stubborn and Ben gives up in exasperation. He gets that from his Dad—Husband never loses.  Even if he loses, he wins.  It’s funny!  Seeing this in my son makes me look more favorably on this in Husband—I understand it better.  The boys got their report cards and Brian missed straight A’s by 1 percentage point in Math.  An 89.  He was annoyed with himself but vowed to do better this fourth quarter.  School comes easily to him. Proud Mama Bear.

Ok, God, that was my gratitude.  Now, praise.

I forget to praise you!  Gratitude could sort of be the same thing as praise right?  Well, actually no, because in my gratitude I’m thanking you for gifts and grace you’ve given me. It’s still all about me. And praise is all about you!  Ok. Praise. Here goes.

Dear God, you are HUGE. I’m in awe of how you are everywhere and with every one in every moment. I love that your greatness is beyond my understanding, beyond puny human understanding–we humans think we’re so smart.  You must laugh about that, knowing how much you know and how little we know. I’m thinking you laugh a lot. And it’s holy week this week so I can’t help but focus and think about how nice that was of you to come down here and live among us, show us how to live according to your will which is the only path to happiness. Service, sacrifice, mercy, love, justice.  And dying like that on the cross—OUCH!  None of those fake Greek gods or other “goddesses” and deities of other religions would have done that.  You are simply remarkable and I love you so much!

Petition.  Okay, what am I asking you for? Of course, the health and happiness of Husband, the boys, my parents, my husband’s parents, my siblings and their families and my friends.  I also ask for health for the alcoholics and addicts that have reached out privately to me this week after that one post went viral—the ones who asked my advice and asked for prayers.  Please help them get sobriety. It’s so hard. Do your miracles on them, please.  Husband’s biological 95 year old grandmother and his biological mother need your prayers—touch their hearts and heal their aches and pains, please.

Prayer.  First, the Hail Mary. This is my centering prayer–in the East it would be called my “mantra” because I recite the Hail Mary over and over in my head when ever I find myself in need of self-soothing:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

And one of my most favorites—the one my brain immediately goes to in any crisis: The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Have a great day, God! Today, direct my thinking and my actions so that I may be of service to others!

Grumpy Today

imageSo much to be grateful for but I am grumpy today. Normally I could blame this on hormones but its not it. I’m restless, irritable and discontent. And tired. And my back hurts.

And I’m picking fights with strangers. Maybe it’s because Husband is drinking again and I’m jealous. He’s not an alcoholic so no worries there. But he was my drinking buddy. He quit to support me. Oh well. It’s not his problem, it’s mine. Sooooo…

Gratitude list?

1. I’m grateful for the rain that is taking away the new pollen.

2. I’m grateful for all kinds of people, whether I agree with them or not. I do have that weird eternity kind of love for all people. Does that make sense?

3. I’m grateful Husband refrained from drinking for so long just to support and “suffer with” me

4. Grateful I can go to the women’s meeting tomorrow at 11:30 to see my peeps.

5. I’m grateful it’s almost bed time.

Good night! I feel better already. Nothing like a gratitude list to cure a bout of self-pity. Plus I found this awesome picture of the Samaritan woman listening at the feet of Jesus.  He offers her (and me) his living water.

Sober Sundays: What the heck is that?

sober sundays

This “Sober Sundays” link-up is party time. And you’re invited to the party. There are TWO WAYS to participate:

The super easy sober simple way to participate:

  1. Follow the prompts at the bottom of the current party to simply add any link to your favorite post (preferably, but not necessarily, written by you) from the previous week that might help someone who has recently quit or plans to quit drinking.

Or, for the computer and technically inclines: IMHO “best” way to participate:

  1. Write a short post entitled “Sober Sundays.” (see sample)
  2. In it, write at least FIVE things you are grateful for today. The first five things that come to mind.
  3. After your gratitude list, link to one of your favorite sober posts from the past week to share your experience, strength and hope with the newcomer.
  4. Insert the “Sober Sundays” image button (simply “save as” image) in your post somewhere
  5. Be sure to put a link back to the current party somewhere in your post so people will be sure to come over here and check out the whole party.
  6. Publish!
  7.  Follow the prompts at the bottom of the current party to link to your newly written Sober Sundays post.

Let’s especially share the ones that offer the most hope to the newcomer, the fellow alcoholic who has decided today’s the day they’re going to quit for good.

We will use this page to keep a running list of the weekly parties:

Sober Sundays vol. 1    3.17.2013

Sober Sundays vol. 2    3.24.2013

Sober Sundays vol. 3    4.7.2013

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the end, this is an example of what the link up looks like:link up

Here is a 150X150 button.sober sundays

sober sundaysHere is a 300X300 button.

Late on the Gospel But Thoughts About Fathers

me and dad 001I’m a few days late on this. Last Sunday’s Gospel reading (Luke 15:11-32) was the infamous story of the Prodigal Son. One of my favorites, of course–no need to explain that one–but aside from the obvious (me being the prodigal son–ok there I explained it) I like the story for others reasons, too.

I’ve got two sons. If one squandered and messed up but then came back home I’d be thrilled and unconditionally welcoming. Like the Father in the story, all I would care about is that he had returned, humbled and reborn- and wanted to turn his life around.  I’d probably run up to Publix, buy his favorite meal, call everybody to let them know he was back, make up his room with new sheets and fresh flowers, and take him shopping for new clothes.

But at the same time I’d be really intuitive to the other son, the one that stayed with me all along.  His feelings of resentment are natural, but not healthy. And I’d figure out a way to instruct and walk him through this.

All the articles and posts and homilies on Sunday focused on one of these two characters, the repentant son or the prideful one.

My brain wants to focus on the father.

My dad is my hero.  Now 80 years old, he’s lived such an interesting life. He is a great story-teller. I wish he would write all of his stories down so that I could  pass them to my children. Story-telling is a terrific way to help children feel part of a “tribe,” a family. Before the advent of the printing press, most stories were passed on verbally.  The stories of our ancestors in the Bible were originally passed on verbally.  But today, I think it’s so important to write things down. That gives them a permanence and an accuracy. Especially if they’re written in first person.

Imagine if Jesus had written the Bible in first person?  How interesting that would have been!

My dad was born in 1932 in upstate New York. It actually might not be called “upstate New York,” because it was the Catskills, not a place like Rochester or Syracuse.  I don’t know much about his life before his father left them but after his father left his mother (he was I think about 8 years old) I love the stories of him helping his mother run things. A single mother and a divorced woman, I can only imagine the hardships my Nana went through emotionally and spiritually.  I wish I could go back in time and hang out with her, help her.

My dad collected the eggs from the chickens, did odd jobs for the community and helped his mother run a boarding house to make ends meet.  Last year, my parents took a trip and spent 3 weeks back in my dad’s hometown. They visited his old house and even spoke with the woman living there now who is renovating it.  Good stuff.

DaddyAnother way my dad made money when he was a boy was to caddie for the golfers at the nearby resort. In doing so, he learned the game of golf. He started playing and became quite good. The golf pro at the resort hired him to run the shop. My dad was very mature from a young age, probably because he had to be the man of the house after his father left.

The one room school house ended up being a tremendously instructive environment and my dad progressed quickly through the lessons, graduating high school at age 16. He took a year off, moved to FL to live with his father who had remarried and he played golf every day. After a year, the golf coach from the University of Florida discovered him and recruited him to play on full scholarship.

My dad really took to college life. He was a leader, not a partyer. He became president of his fraternity and president of the Lyceum Council on Campus which brought in a variety of entertainment and events to the University students.

I think he moved back home after college. And that’s when he met my mother. My mom, a true city-girl born and raised in Brooklyn, and her sister were vacationing at the resort and my Dad courted her. Those stories are priceless!

Mom and Dad on their Wedding Day, May 26, 1956 (feast day of St Philip Neri :) )

Mom and Dad on their Wedding Day, May 26, 1956 (feast day of St Philip Neri 🙂 )

They married and he joined the army, which brought them out to Oklahoma. My mom was in culture shock! And she’d never driven a car so my dad taught her. She totaled his Jaguar. In the army, the boss discovered my father’s golfing talents so my dad’s “job” in the army was to run the golf pro shop and golf course for the officers and play on the golf team.  On the golf team in the army, his teammate was the amazing PGA great Chi Chi Rodriquez.

After the army, my parents moved to Pensacola, FL and my dad ran the golf pro shop at the Naval air base. He became president of the Pensacola Sports Association (now on their “hall of fame” wall) and expanded the course from 18 to 36 holes.

Great stories from this time! Once he threw an officer out of the shop (literally, by his pants threw him out into the bushes) because the officer had belittled a private in front of my dad. My dad always looked out for the little guy—even when he WAS the little guy.  They had nine children (I’m number 9!) in Pensacola, before moving to Atlanta to join an exciting venture to open a golf and country club.  For fifteen years, he ran the club, had two more children and supported all of us with a very nice lifestyle!

Today, he and my mom live simply and in retirement he has gotten deeper into his Catholic faith, something he must have found difficult to do when working to support a big family. He got a PhD (or maybe a Masters degree, I can’t remember), has read all of Shakespeare’s works and every other work of classical fiction. He has made his Faith a study, reading Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and all the great works of the Doctors of the Church.  He enjoys his grandchildren but I think the biggest lesson he’s taught me is the lesson of marriage.

mom and dadHe and my mom have been married 57 years. I’ve never seen them fight. They put each other first. Even when we were little, I always knew that their marriage was first, a priority above the children.  I think this is so important.  It’s something we miss in modern times because we put so much focus on the kids and neglect our marriages.  But this focus on their marriage as primary taught me that marriage is a sacrament, for life, the bedrock of the family and the foundation needed to raise children.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, my Dad is the Father. Always open, always forgiving, always encouraging me to grow and celebrating it when I would. Where was the mother in this Gospel? hmmmm.  Maybe I’ll write a short story from the mother’s perspective of this Gospel.  That’s all for today.  Time to wake the children, make breakfast and lunches and send them off to school.

Dear God

Iron Kids Triathlon, Alpharetta, Georgia

Iron Kids Triathlon, Alpharetta, Georgia

Dear God,

Hi. How are you? Thank you for keeping me sober yesterday and please keep me sober today, too–I keep following your instruction to do this sober thing one day at at time. I was surprised yesterday when I realized I will have six months sober on Easter. I’ve been counting the days and didn’t realize how many months had added up.  By your grace, I’ve been able to get back to my sober life.

After being sober for three years, I really didn’t think it would be a big deal to have wine on my anniversary. But since I hadn’t been to AA the last year and a half of those three years, I didn’t have the regular reminder that I can’t drink like normal people.  And it took me three years of trying really hard to get sobriety back before I have been finally able to. Please don’t let me lose this?

I look at those three years and see your lessons.  One of the things you taught me was that financial security isn’t something I can count on, nor should I.  And through all that, here we sit in a teeny house with our life downsized 2/3 the size it was before. I never want to go back to big.

The blessings in having this little simple life are enormous. The boys share a room. We all four share one bathroom!  What character you’ve built-in all of us from all this sharing and physical closeness.

In my downsized life I actually get the laundry done.  The laundry room is right there.  I walk past it every time I go to the bathroom or to my room, so it’s easy to just throw a load in or take a load out.

Remember in the old house, the 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom golf and country club house?  Remember how the laundry would pile up in the playroom so high that my Mom would have to come over and help me fold it all?  I felt like such an incapable mother that I couldn’t keep up with the laundry!

Waverunners in Perdid Key, Florida

Waverunners in Perdido Key, Florida

Working full-time then and trying to run and manage that big house and big life really was too much for me. Sure I could handle it. I won the sales awards and the sales contests. I made really good money and we had amazing benefits for our whole family.

But none of that worked for us. Husband, the boys and I were all always running around, low-level anxiety permeated all of us. It wasn’t until we left all that behind, on a whim almost, when we decided to purchase this 1300 square foot 1925 farm-house and renovate it, that life began to get simpler.

Not at first, though. All the work the house needed before we could even move in! We were still drinking, and I can still see some of the trim I painted drunk that needs to be touched up.

Settled now, for the most part, I started my own small marketing firm, took a few clients immediately and learned the ropes of my new endeavor. Then, I got pregnant–and the boys were out of school for the summer–I gave up the clients and focused more on our home and family.  I was really happy. Giving up drinking when I was pregnant was a no-brainer, piece of cake. It was fun imagining the baby would be a girl and finally having some pink around our house. I remember thinking how grateful I was to you, discovering we were pregnant at age 42–I thought this must be Your way of getting me back to sobriety. We had decided to name her after my mother, Elizabeth Claire.

But you knew there were other plans for me, the miscarriage and subsequent D&C–gosh all that was awful. All the blood and painfulness. I was so sad.  The boys were so sad.  But it wasn’t meant to be. And I was able to see that if that wasn’t your will for me then I am okay with that. There must have been a reason – beyond my understanding – for losing the baby.

I’m sorry I went right back to drinking. And it was worse, more. After two months of that Husband had had enough and he threw me out. And in those dark, dark days that followed, I quit you. During those days of unspeakable brokenness and tears, I finally, finally broke.  I even felt something break in my head, like a physical sensation. It was the moment I told you I hated you, didn’t want you in my life and that I had no use for you whatsoever and I meant it with my whole being. I completely 100% for the first time in my life ever hated you. I told you out loud that I consciously choose to kick you out of my life.

And then something broke.

family2But then you sent an angel. my sister Liz who took off work and took me into her home and showered me with love and all of her religiousness.  Everything in her house is touched by you–the crucifixes, the rosaries, the Mary statues, the prayer cards, all of it. She set me up in her son’s room for ten days and I remember staring at that picture of Jesus of the Divine Mercy that she had tacked up on the wall right next to my pillow at eyes height. I remember staring into Jesus’ eyes. And they penetrated me, warmed me, filled me. I remember telling you I was absolutely broken and scared.  And I started writing.

I filled two journal books in those ten days, and I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day LOL!  And my sister who hates smoking never said a word to me when I smoked full-time on her back deck! She even brought me an ashtray. And I wrote two full books full of talking to you, praying to you, begging you and reaching out to you.  Every day my journal started out with Dear God.  And you filled me like you had never filled me before.

Thank you.

Within two weeks, I was reunited with the family and within two months I’d gotten back into AA and started working the steps. And now here I am, dear God, writing to you filled with peace and gratitude for all the wonderful gifts of my life. If I had to plan my life, it wouldn’t have looked like this.  And thank you for that! Because if I had planned my life, I wouldn’t have the joy and peace that you give that surpasses my understanding.

Love, Reg

Gratitude List: Dec 10, 2012

1. seeing amy get her 3 year chip today!!  amy you are such an inspiration. woo hooo!
2. quick trip to KY and back went smoothly with no car trouble like last time
3. Husband offered to drive carpool this morning and let me sleep because I have caught some kind of bug
4.  Husband, the boys and I travel well together and really enjoy one another even when we’re stuck in a car for hours
5. Husband got two big jobs that start this week 🙂

Gratitude List: Dec 7, 2012

1. for Stacey being my discussion leader today yay! and for agreeing to do it for me the last Friday when i’ll be out of town
2. girls night out!!!!
3.  realizing i know nothing and am OK with that!
4.  wrapping Christmas presents
5. rob agreed to a last minute trip to KY even tho he didn’t want to go–to visit his dying birth-grandmother—gotta find a meeting in Radcliffe, KY Saturday and Sunday!