This one is pretty churchy, read at your own risk.

30 03 2014

Have you noticed how many churches have adopted the moniker of being Seeker Friendly? The nearest I can come to a definition of a seeker friendly church is; a comfortable environment in which to seek spiritual development. This definition is not all encompassing but I think it describes, in a nut shell, the direction of a seeker church.

I find that in attempting to become “seeker friendly”, the church has become more like a the seeker than like the Bride of Christ.

The problem I see with this idea is that we do not give the, so called, seeker enough credit. Seekers are already uncomfrotable and discontented with what they presently believe. That is what propels people to seek something else. People who are brave enough to search for something different are seeking the Truth. They are not satisfied to believe that what they know now is all there is.

I was seeking when I finally made the step to go to an AA meeting. I was confused, depressed, suicidal and of a very fragile mind. The only thing I was absolutely certain of was that I was going to die if something did not change. No one in AA was concerned with my “comfort”. I was desperate for my life and they had the answer. No one babied me. On the contrary, they said things to me like; “sit down, shut up and listen; go to 90 meetings in 90 days; you have nothing of value to add to a meeting until you have spent 90 days listening and learning.”

I had ADD before anyone had a name for it. I would get up for coffee a half dozen times in 90 minutes. I would try to sneak outside for a cigarette and to socialize with other people who had ducked out for their own reasons. My sponsor grabbed me on one of my wandering excursions and asked me what I was doing outside. “Your sobriety is not out here. Get your a$$ inside, sit down in the front row, shut your mouth and open your ears.” As angry and humiliated as those words made me feel, they were truth! Not what I wanted to hear, what I needed to hear. It takes a deep love and a certain courage to speak the truth. I am grateful for those who spoke truth to me, especially when I didn’t want to hear it. It did not chase me away from AA. It did not force the brakes on my journey for a different way of life. I was sick and tired of my old way of life and I became willing to grasp onto this new way of life.

So, back to the church and the seeker. My concern is that we are pointing the seeker in the wrong direction. Are we trying so hard to make the unbeliever comfortable that we are presenting the church as a party place? Honestly, some worship services look to me like a bar room band concert minus the alcohol. And, sometimes it is not minus the alcohol because I can smell the previous night’s activities on the stage. Sometimes, the musicians are still high or hungover. Is this the worship that our God deserves? Are we pointing to the lights and the fog machines and the musicians? Are we teaching by our behavior that we are no different than the rest of the world? What used to be a Bible study time has been turned into “fellowship” and sometimes they just happen to meet in a bar. Is it really okay to have one beer? As long as you invoke the name of God somewhere in the conversation, is that what makes it a “Christian” get together? Oh yeah, and if so and so, you know, the alcoholic, shows up then no one should have a drink. Does that make it okay? Are we teaching new believers more about freedom in Christ than about making sacrifice to remain Holy? Do we even know anymore what God meant when He said, “Be Holy because I am Holy”? What does the word sanctified mean? What am I supposed to set myself apart from? What did Jesus mean when He said, “They are not of the world even as I am not of the world.”? These are all valid questions that arise.

And here is the BIG question. Are we using the notion of being seeker friendly to justify living in a way that allows us to practice our creature comforts?

The seeker already knows what the world has to offer. Show them Jesus. Show them their own worth because God left Heaven and took a beating and was tortured and murdered to save them from their sin. Act like we know this to be true. Then, and only then, do we begin to do the seeker a service. Seekers deserve to know the truth.

 

 





Hello, I am Addiction

3 02 2014

unnamed

Maybe it would make a difference if addiction would just come right up to our face and introduce itself. Maybe if it should come right up and dope slap us in the head we would realize the imminent danger. Probably not though. Addiction is insidious. I had to look that word up when I first heard it. The definition is;  • treacherous; crafty , proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects. 

The brain of an addict has no logic when it comes to getting high. Our brain says things like, you can do it just this once!; everyone else is carefree and having fun, why not you?; this time you will stop after two beers.; this time you will not chase the high, one hit will be enough to take the edge off; you have a high tolerance, you need more than the normal person. 

And, sadly, we end up thinking; how did I let this happen again?; it was not supposed to be this way.; it is always going to be like this, I don’t know why I even try.; I may as well have the ‘hair of the dog that bit me’.; I am always going to be a worthless loser.

We always have to keep our thinking in check. Always. We don’t ever get a vacation from doing an inventory of our thoughts. One slogan that I learned in AA has been a healthy reminder. It says, Stinkin thinkin leads to drinkin. Yeah, I like to misspell those words. It gets my attention every time. This slogan reminds me to take an inventory of myself daily. Once my spiritual and emotional conditions begin to decline, my sobriety is in danger. If I catch it early, it is easier to come to the God of my understanding and confess my ill thoughts and ask His help in getting back on track. Unfortunately, the longer stinkin thinkin goes unchecked the more difficult it is to recognize and it doesn’t take much more before I could be off and running in the wrong direction.

I went through a season after my husband died where I found my thoughts wishing I could enjoy a nice glass of red wine. Many of the people who were important in my life were able to drink in relative safety and enjoy themselves. I would see the pictures they posted on FaceBook about the fun they were having and the lovely get-togethers they were having that included wine or beer. They were thoughtful enough not to invite me because they knew I was clean and sober. While I appreciated their consideration, it also made me feel left out and a little sad that I could not unwind with a glass of wine too. I let that thinking go on for more than a little while. Mix those kind of thoughts with the fact that I had been grieving the loss of my soul-mate and that I have not been able to bring myself back to AA meetings and I had a lethal combo going on. Self pity began to creep in along with a desire to isolate. I reached out in a couple of ways to a select few but, honestly I did not have the energy to chase anyone down for help. Tears flowed for days. I tried to go to meetings and I saw my Eddie everywhere. It was destroying me! I would be sobbing all the way home. I finally decided to stop torturing myself and withdrew all together from meetings. To this day, I have not been back. But, I remember what I was when I came into AA and I remember the principles that saved my life thirty seven years ago.

Sometimes, it is God and God alone who can save. That has been the case for me. I have not shut Him out or withdrawn from Him. And he shined a spotlight on my thinking. He brought me back to sanity and He gave me the strength to walk away (in love) from the people who could not comprehend the danger I was in. I literally heard the Voice of my God say to me, You are not safe here anymore. You must walk away NOW. I will not keep you safe if you do not heed my warning. Those are probably not the exact words but that was the message that He spoke loud and clear into my innermost being. I was ruined. It was heartbreak upon heartbreak. As I write this, I can still feel the ache in my heart. And, somewhere under all the commotion in my soul, I heard the voice of my first AA sponsor say to me, “Constant vigilance is the price we pay for our sobriety.” My God gave me the strength to walk away. He gives me the strength every day to make the right decision regarding my sobriety. Without sobriety I have nothing.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I will not let your death be in vain. I admire the fact that you had 23 years of a clean and sober life. You have reminded me today how fragile and how precious is the gift of sobriety that we have been given. It is the unmerited favor of God that gives us this gift. Addiction is an insidious thief. Your fate could very easily have been mine, and it could yet be. Somehow, I think you would like us all to be mindful of that today. Your spirit will be missed.





Are you Eddie the Baker’s widow?

10 01 2012

I met Ed in AA. I watched him for a year before we ever spoke and exchanged phone numbers. Our first date was an AA function. It was a Valentines  dance, Feb. 13, 1978. Together, we worked our program of 12 steps, encouraged each other to do above and beyond what looked possible and we grew together as useful citizens in our community. Our last outing together was at an AA meeting where my Love got terribly sick and ended up taking an ambulance ride to the hospital where he died, 36 hours later. It was so hard to walk away from his body that night in the hospital. So much of that time is a blur to me. A horrible blur.

It has taken me more than eight months to finally walk into an AA meeting again. I have been to three, so far, and each one has been horrid. The first one was a Big Book meeting where two leaders read from a chapter of the Big Book of AA and then comment on each paragraph. It is my least favorite kind of meeting. I left early when one person raised their hand to speak and proceeded to inappropriately carry on about his former sex life during his active alcoholism. People don’t know what to do when that happens because we don’t want to stifle anyone but, for the love of sanity, really???

Two days later, I attended my home group meeting that Ed and I are members of. It was January 5, the 35 year anniversary of my sobriety. I did not want to acknowledge it, I did not want to get out of the bed at all. I could easily have pulled the covers over my head and cried all day long. But, I made myself get up and go to my group. I can’t tell you what was said. I just kept hearing Ed say, “We do it to be a power of example. New comers need to know that they can stay sober for long term and get through anything that comes their way.”  I got there on time and I stayed for the whole meeting. At the end of the meeting I went forward and received a chip (a token poker chip) to show that I was sober for 35 years. I enjoyed a few hugs and sweet words from folks after the meeting. One lady asked if I was Eddie the Baker’s widow. I think I said yes. It was surreal.

The next day, I went to a discussion meeting. The topic was how to deal with tragedy and death without taking a drink. Toward the end of the meeting, I did manage to raise my hand to indicate that I would like to share something, but I was too late. Lots of people had lots to say on the subject. I prayed that the young lady who introduced the topic was helped by some of the discussion. During the meeting, two of Ed’s friends told me how much they miss Ed and what a beautiful memorial service we had for him. That blessed me. As I tried to sneak out at the end of the meeting, I was detained by a young lady who is one of  Ed’s good friends. He called her “Kiddo”. As we talked, I noticed a familiar plaque on the wall behind her. It says,”Success cannot be measured by how high we climb the mountain, but by the obstacles we overcome on the journey.” Eddie the Baker. My husband had it made and donated to the fellowship hall before he died. Ed overcame a lot of obstacles on his journey. He was a power of example to many and many people still quote him at meetings all over Wilmington.





Special Ed wins the race!!!

24 05 2011

For any readers who did not know, my sweet husband, Eddie the Baker to all his AA friends, passed away on April 20th.

He fought as hard as anyone could possibly fight. In the end, he won the battle. Eddie kept his faith until the end. He passed as peacefully as he had hoped.

In March, our liver specialist told us that Ed’s body would only hold out for about a year. With all that we had done, still, his organs could only take so much before beginning to give out. It was time to tell the children. As you can imagine, that was a difficult task. Ed loved his three girls, Cheryl, Christine and Fawn. He realized that each one has a different personality and he always tried to give them the freedom to be who God created them to be. They would probably be surprised to know how many times he has called out their names, asking God to lead them, draw them and protect them.

Death by cirrhosis of the liver is normally very painful and prolonged. We both knew that. Our faith in a loving and merciful God had never been more precious to us. Ed and I have prayed at the end of every day for years. Wether we were embraced in a hug,(our normal prayer position) or over the phone from far away, we always prayed. We talked about seeing Jesus face to face, what Heaven is going to be like, will we recognize each other in Heaven, and how scary it is to look death in the eye. For a Believer, being dead is not scary. It is the process of dying that was worrisome to us. Especially when diagnosed with such a horrible liver disease. Our prayers began to include a request for a peaceful passing from this life into eternity for my beloved. God is faithful and He answered our prayers.

Together, Ed and I planned the type of memorial he wanted. He did not want a solemn procession but rather a joyful celebration. He wanted folks to know that he had lived a good life and had enjoyed it. Laughter was a huge part of his life.

Ed chose the songs and the speakers he wanted to represent his life. His memorial service was like nothing I have ever experienced. Many who attended have echoed that sentiment. It was unique to my Eddie. We called him Special Ed for a reason. There is not another in this world like him.

Ed touched many lives in AA and out. He had more friends than he realized. The people who showed up to pay their respect to my husband have been a blessing and a testimony to the life he lived. The folks who have sent cards, texts, emails and phone calls to me have helped me through the grieving process. Our three daughters and their husbands have been a wonderful support as they too grieve. Tony and Brandon bless me beyond measure.

My husband won his race, he kept his faith and he graduated the program of AA by dying sober on April 20, 2011.





Experience, strength and hope

21 02 2011

Okay. So, I have started to write several posts and I keep coming back to the beginning line of, “it has been a tough couple of years.” I have been hoping to not have to go into any detail at all, just get past it and write…. but that is not working out so well for me. So, I am gonna brain dump most of it in the hope that I can move on and write something inspirational out of all these experiences.

  • early one morning in 2009, I awoke to find my husband lying on our bedroom floor after he had passed out. His hip was broken.
  • before the surgeon could repair his hip he had to get Ed’s blood pressure under control.
  • that took 4 days of Ed lying in ICU with a painfully broken hip.
  • after the surgery, the doctors had a hard time stopping the bleeding.
  • I slept on a chair for many nights.
  • Ed was on a drug to control his pain. It is the same drug that he was addicted to back in the 1960s.
  • when he was moved to a room, my friends smuggled a cot up the back stairs and I slept in his room.
  • he was in the hospital for a long time before they could stabilize him enough to go to rehab and learn to walk again.
  • after a month in a rehab facility he finally came home only to pass out again and burst open the surgery site.
  • we had 911 come again to take him to the hospital. Again.
  • surgery again to re-close the area and many days in surgical ICU to get him to stop bleeding.
  • blood transfusions.
  • more addictive pain meds.
  • home healthcare to get him walking again.
  • we threw away his meds before he got himself addicted again.
  • he was forced to retire and sell his business. God has been so good to us, it all fell into place.
  • we used the money from selling the business and paid off our home.
  • I was able to stay home and help my husband get back on his feet.
  • a few days here and there of work started coming in for me.
  • i have gone back to attending AA meetings.
  • we got Ed an emergency 911 necklace for whenever he was home alone.
  • Ed has started having trouble with Hepatic encephalopathy. a by-product of cirrhosis of the liver in which the brain becomes addled and confused.
  • i hate it for him, and for me.
  • a couple of trips to the ER followed by days when he could not be alone.
  • our friends, family and church family have surrounded us with help and support so I could go back to work when the money ran out.
  • our grandson, Tony, came to stay with Ed and be his driver and help to care for him.
  • grandson went off to Navy boot camp after being accepted in the nuclear program.
  • Tony was released on a medical discharge due to asthma.
  • last september, my 89 year old next door neighbor ran over his 92 year old wife in their driveway.
  • I heard her screams and had to stop him because he is quite deaf and didn’t know he ran her over.
  • she died in the driveway before EMS could get there.
  • i have nightmares and day”mares”. i still hear her screams.
  • i am back to work full time in SC on Army Wives.
  • my grandson, Tony, is my room mate in SC. He is working in the accounting department on Army Wives.
  • i long to hear God’s voice speak to me.
  • most times i feel a million miles away from God.
  • i wonder if ADD is real or just a cop out sometimes.

So, yeah, it has been a tough couple of years. But I am desperate to move on. God is still God through all of this. it does not matter if I feel Him. He is and He has a purpose for all of it.

The end!





In spite of

22 11 2010

The Lord is good to all and His tender mercies are over all His works. Psalm 45:9

The AA twelve step book says that recovering alcoholics need to take inventory of our day. It must be a common thing among alcoholics to have the urge to focus on the negatives of the day because the tenth step reminds us that, “… inventory taking is not always done in red ink. It is a poor day indeed when we haven’t done something right.”

Taking an honest look at my behavior in the day, I am not always happy with what I see. It is easy for me to judge myself harshly and fall into a funk. I must remember that I am just an ordinary person with ordinary short comings and failings.  I must accept the fact that I am not the best of the best nor am I the worst of the worst.

Today, I have done some things wrong. I admit my wrongs and ask God to help me do better tomorrow. If I can do something to make them right, I will do it.

Today, I have done some things right. I thank God for these things.

Now, I leave it all, the good and the not so good, in His capable hands. That is the hard part for me. Do not hash it all over. Leave it. Do not carry it into tomorrow. Leave it. Trust that God can and will handle it all.

I am grateful that God blesses me in spite of my short comings and failings. He looks upon the heart and sees beyond the actions.

Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit in me. Amen





In the Shreve

23 05 2010

Yesterday, my husband celebrated 35 years of clean and sober living!!!!! Wish I could insert fireworks here. This has been one hell of a year for him. I am so proud of the way he has pulled through it all. Sickness, a broken hip and two surgeries are no easy circumstances. The fact that he HAD TO use pain killers for several weeks raised a good deal of concern for me. God let us know when the right time came for Ed to change from pain killers to Tylenol and Ed came through it all.

I had something special planned for his Saturday anniversary but had to change plans last minute when I got a call to come to Shreveport for 10 days of work. Actually, I was driving home from Charleston, SC and one day of work on Army Wives when I got the call. My friend, Jeri, had been trying to get me to come work with her from the beginning of this movie in the “Shreve”. Finally, on their last week of filming, they brought me in. The timing was good for me actually. I got to work right at home in Wilmington for several weeks as I was the Department Head on two television pilots that filmed back to back. I had about 2 weeks off during which I did hair for a bunch of my friends in my studio, (I don’t think I could live without this part of my life) and I got to create and design some wigs and styles for the production of “Love on the Move” for the Glory Academy of Fine Arts.
This is Laura Valentine in costume, hair and make up for the Transformers Dance. FUN!

Now, I am staying in the Hilton after flying into Shreveport on Thursday. Lest you think I am getting too spoiled, here is the wonderful view from my room.

At least I don’t have to worry about anyone looking in my window. LOL.

Here is a brief look at what else I have done since being here.

The wrap party with my beautiful friend, Jeri.

AND…………

I got to hug Hughe Jackman…. well, sort of~~~~

I know that God has me here for a reason. Not just a paycheck, which by the way is not a bad reason in itself. But,… I had a conversation with someone in which they said they felt like God was an abusive parent and they had to walk away because they could not take anymore abuse. My heart breaks. God is definitely up to something HUGE right here in the Shreve.