God’s Timing and Sobriety

Today marks 120 days sober. Tuesday marks a different chapter in my life story. I start new job. I’m excited and a bit nervous too. I never would be where I am today if it weren’t for God’s timing, or His healing power from my addiction with alcohol. Each day is such a blessing and He continues to work in great ways for me and my family. As I sit waiting for my ride I’m reminded that my places and people and things have changed in many ways, but some have stayed. Those good ones help keep me walking God’s path today. Things are working in His timing and I must be grateful for it.

Today has been good experience, and I have four hours logged toward my community service. As I get into new routine next week and beyond I can honestly say I’m ready. With God, my family and extended family having my back the future is brighter than it’s been in a long time.

Wishing you all happy days ahead

Blessings To All

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Subtle Signs from God

4am this morning I was up and drinking coffee. Why???   Pain woke me. My fibromyalgia was tempting my strength and to top it off it was raining. I was in a crapper of a mood. I was thankful I woke and all, but was having a self pity party as well. It happens like that some days.

I made my way to the front porch, coffee and cigarette in hand. The air wasn’t cold per say but the dampness wasn’t helping my chest nor my shoulders and neck pain. I took several deep breaths and tried to focus on the calming sound of the rain. It was a steady gentle beat on the sidewalk. I thought of my flower beds I’d planned to weed today and sighed. I sucked more coffee and started my morning conversation with God. I gave thanks for waking me today and asked for help dealing with the pain. I prayed that today would turn into a productive day despite the rain.

The idea that I could still do my beds in the rain popped into my head. I mean I have sweatshirts and even though the dampness bothers me most days, I love the clean smell of the rain. I thought maybe working in the rain would wash away my junky mood. It was an idea anyway.

I went in to refill my coffee and take my medicine before returning to the porch again. As I sat contemplating the list of to-dos for the day, brilliant light filled to sky before me. Once…twice and then a third time. The rain beat down heavier, the wind picked up ever so slightly. I breathed in the smells and opened my ears to the sounds. Suddenly my to-do list was forgotten, calming peace filled me and my pain started to ease. I found I was no longer in a foul mood. I was far from marathon ready body wise but I was content in those moments with just sitting and taking a few minutes to enjoy the wonders of the  rain and the blessings of a answered prayer.

Since my moments on the porch, I’ve gotten cat litter scooped and a load of clothes washed, dried and folded. I have a project I’m going to work on now and I even played a few games.

My gratitude journal entry is much different than what it started out as. As light rain continues to fall I reminded of the subtle things and the gentle peace that God brings. I find that my to-do list is still sitting here but if I don’t get to everything on it today…I’m cool with that.

As I get ready for my appointment today, I’m reminded that today is unfolding as it’s meant to and that God’s subtle reminders are everywhere.

 

Blessings To All

The Calming of the Storm

For those who may need a gentle reminder or a swift kick to the rear…

As I sit in the camper this morning listening to the rain and Jim and James snoring I’m reminded of Mark 4:35-41. It tells us a story of how Jesus calmed the raging storm.

Sometimes our lives feel and act much like the raging storm described in these verses. So what can we do when our lives are unmanageable and the storms are raging through us??

As many of you know I turn to Scripture when times are good but always when times are tough and the storms of life are raging within and around me. You can do the same.

Recovery is possible. Recovery through His word is vital in my opinion. Perhaps you suffer from grave mental distresses, chronic pain or illnesses or an addiction of some kind. Maybe your own self-loathing or self-harm is catapulting you into a pit pf despair. Perhaps caring for a special child or an ailing parent is the cause. Maybe it’s a more traditional loss we are mourning… like a loved one or a family pet. Know that there is hope. There is a light at the end of the bleak tunnel.

Matthew 5:4, tells us “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Mourning can come from any loss, including loss of self and hope in the future. Mourning is a normal part of life. Only when we mourn…can we heal. And yes I did say mourn not wallow. This can come all at once and we move on, or it can take longer. Either is okay and we can take heart in knowing no matter how long the process, if it’s approached with hope in God, (or whoever/whatever your higher power may be) we can get through the storms of life.

“Faith shows us the reality of what we hope for; it is evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1). God is always working in and through us, if we believe. Never be afraid to reach out. If the idea of God doesn’t fit with your way of thinking still reach out. Reach to your spouse or significant other, a coworker or a friend. If that doesn’t appeal to you reach to someone else, there are plenty of professionals available these days. Maybe that doesn’t appeal to you either. Maybe you just aren’t comfortable talking to someone else. Try writing it out…put it in black and white.  I love this method myself, and this does work if you give it a chance. What you do with it after it’s written out is up to you.

Personally, I’ve done a couple things with mine. I have journals from years ago, they are stored in a drawer of my desk or in my nightstand; I reread them from time to time to see how far I’ve come. I’ve shared some of them with Jim. I’ve even piled pages upon pages into the firepit and watched them burn to nothing but ash. Each has been therapeutic in some way, shape or form.  The key was getting those balled up storms of emotion, hurt, despair and hopelessness out of my head and heart.

True growth and happiness is coming in great waves now because of taking the time to mourn and working on calming the storms of life. My prayer for us all today is that we find a way to calm the storms of life. Try to be patient and don’t give up before the miracles happen.

Blessings To All

 

 

 

 

Strength in the Music

When I was in jail this song played through my head repeatedly. The lyrics touched me on a level beyond my understanding but brought such comfort. Maybe they will for you too.

Never Once-Matt Redman

Verse 1
Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Verse 2
Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Is Your power in us

Pre-Chorus
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Chorus 1
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Repeat Verse 2
Repeat Pre-Chorus

Chorus 2
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Bridge
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Ending Chorus
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

 

Blessings TO All

Power in the Music

Completely- Ana Laura

 

The secret of life is letting go
The secret of love is letting it show
In all that I do
In all that I say
Right here in this moment

The power of prayer is in a humble cry
The power of change is in giving my life
And laying it down
Down at your feet
Right here in this moment

Chorus:
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

This journey of life is a search for truth
This journey of faith is following you
Every step of the way
Through the joy and the pain
Right here in this moment

Right here, right now, and for the rest of my life
Hear me say

I am yours and yours alone
Completely

When I first heard this song, after I got out of jail I was moved beyond words. This is true surrender in written form. What true surrender does for you in human form remains to be seen, but trust me and know it is so freeing.

 

Blessings To All

Quiet Reflections

Sitting outside at 4am can be enlightening…

Do you know if you are spending quiet time with God in the wee hours of the morning, the stars seem brighter. Well they did to me this morning anyway.
The clouds are covering them now but I had about ten minutes of crystal clear sky with only the stars to light the night. Funny how I can still remember most of the constellations from Jr. High lessons in astronomy.

As coffee continues to work its way into my system and the birds sing joyous songs I’m reminded of just how awesome my heavenly father is. I rambled on to Him for a good twenty minutes this morning, just voicing my concerns on things and letting go of mixed emotions. The peace He provided is unparalleled. Funny how the things that kept me tossing and turning all night don’t seem like that big of a deal now. Let Go and Let God, is a simple statement/slogan. Putting it into practice is freeing.

Maybe you have trouble letting go of things. That need for control of everything, even the stuff out of your control, is ever present in you. I used to be that way myself. I felt I needed to fix everything and have the final say on all matters. Right or Wrong. How that attitude has changed in these last few months.

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This is my go to prayer now.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking, as Christ did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right

If I surrender to His will.

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Amen

It might seem like just words to you today, but when put into practice in all our affairs it becomes a lifeline to sanity. At least it is to mine.

Today I’m grateful for the little things like stars, birds and soon the sunrise. Today I’m grateful for the big things like peace of mind and quiet time with God.

Hoping you all find time today for a bit of quiet reflection, it can work miracles for the soul.

Blessings To All

Light from Heaven Part 2

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If you’ve been following me, you know I’m sharing my recovery journey with folks. Like I’ve said before, I do this to keep myself accountable but also with the hopes that I may reach just one person with my story.
God’s love and shining light has been ever noticeable in the last few months. Now to continue…

Court day…

I had a calm about me that morning, and while I did have some butterflies in my stomach, I wasn’t dreading the outcome. My public defender had given me a probable rundown of sentencing prior to this day so I had a good idea of what was coming. I stood in front of the Judge as he looked at my paperwork showing completed days for rehab as well as meeting and counseling signatures. He said a few things and proceeded to give me my sentence. Credit was given for the rehab stay so it knocked off twenty-one days from my sentence, but seventy-two days seemed like a long time. Fines racked up and I agreed to start my sentencing that day. We exited the courtroom.

I was stripped of all jewelry and led into the elevator that would take me to my holding cell. A quick “I love you” was yelled from behind closing doors. I was now officially the property of the Lycoming County Prison System.

After being led to a holding cell, I waited. It wasn’t a long wait before I was being transported to LCP (Lycoming County Prison). Being shackled made walking difficult and as the metal rubbed against my ankles and the cuffs bit into my wrists I was even more humbled than before. A strip search proceeded, embarrassing humility punched me in the gut. I was given a uniform and again placed in a holding cell. This stay wasn’t long before I was again in my street clothes and being transported to PRC (Pre-Release Center).

Once there, I was assigned uniforms and thus began my true time. The first few days moved rather slowly. I bummed smokes and tried to make the best of things. God was watching intently at this point, only I didn’t know it.

I found a Bible I could understand and began reading daily. I was set up for a counseling appointment so I won’t lose the progress I’d made thus far in my mental recovery. A week passed. The day of my appointment approached, and I was excited. I was getting out for a bit and would be able to talk openly about the hidden emotions jail was bringing out in me.

I had let Jim know my appointment date and time, so he was there. Our joint session proceeded and it helped the mixed emotions we were both having in a great way. Little did I know that I was breaking the rules. I never realized I needed any contact inside or outside PRC walls authorized. This would become the most valuable lesson and biggest divine intervention that I would have. My hearing with PRC staff was set and I was reprimanded to LCP for 30 days. I didn’t realize those days would be spent in “the hole”.

Twenty-three hours a day… one hour gym time. Timed showers and meals. Standing head counts. I wasn’t allowed for my coffee or radio or anything like that, but a little glimmer of hope did shine through that first day. I was allowed my notebook, and books to read, including a Bible. I prayed for guidance and knowledge for the lessons I was to be learning from my time in the hole. A week passed. I still didn’t have any answers from above, but God was listening. I wasn’t however, I was so far into my self-pity party, I never heard His voice.

I wrote home and to my sponsor, I talked to the women while us “hole-girls” took our hour of gym time through the weekdays. I listened to the drama filled conversations that filled the block, but tried not to get involved. My humility grew each time I sat on the exposed toilet to tend to business, open bars at my side. This was real jail-time. I continued to read and think about the things I was meant to learn from being locked in a cell. Nothing jumped out at me. I repeated the Serenity Prayer numerous times a day until I felt I could put it into practice there too. A few more days passed. God was still listening and working in me.

I was on day seven out of thirty, by this time I was counting days with each journal entry I wrote. As we were locked back in our cells after gym that evening I lay in my bunk just contemplating my life. Up until this point I was hell bent against having visitors. I didn’t want anyone to have to talk to me behind glass, but I missed seeing my family. I missed hearing Jim and the kid’s voices. I missed my mom’s voice too. I missed everything. Again the Serenity Prayer was my staple. God was working in me.

I arose the next morning for head count. The night had been semi-restful and while I was far from energized I somehow felt different. It didn’t take me long to realize I had finally been able to put the Serenity Prayer into effect as far as being in LCP was concerned. God was smiling down on me.

Breakfast was a quick affair. Afterward, my cellie was snoring softly from her bunk as I sat with my notebook. I wrote twenty or so pages before I stopped. I figured it was meaningless rambling until I reread what those pages contained.

Here I was working my steps, my own written words making each crystal clear. I realized the shortcomings I had were being fixed with each passing day. Only God’s love and light could’ve done that. My whole thought process was different and more positive than it had been in a very long time. I wrote six letters that day as I voiced my amends. With each letter, the heavy weight of my past lifted from my shoulders. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t thought about booze in the entire week I had been there, not even a fleeting thought. God had taken my alcoholic mind and was transforming it into something else. Finally, I had my full spiritual awakening I’d been praying for. I still may have had it at PRC but I think it would’ve taken me longer to recognize His work in me.

My time at LCP began being less of a big deal to me. I was doing time, yes, but God was working in me and through me. He was making each day a new adventure from the confines of a cell. I had two visits to follow, mom and Jim, and while it was strange, I treasured those visits. Another woman and I started reading different sections of the Bible daily then talking about what they meant to us during gym time while we walked. We were both learning and growing. A small side note here: She still has months to do in the hole and a couple years upstate, but I will write to her. I don’t believe she was put into my life without reason.

I was three days away from my thirty days being served in LCP when my name blared over the loudspeaker. I was going for a county run. What this means is when cells get to maximum capacity, they move inmates to another county. To say I was none too thrilled about this was an understatement. In all honesty, I was downright angry about it. I had my hopes set on going back to PRC. The idea that I could spend the rest of my time in another county stuck in my crawl. Yet again the Serenity Prayer was my calming force. I had no control over it, so I decided not to stress it, but I still didn’t like it.

Shackles and cuffs again. CCCF (Clinton County Correctional Facility) was my destination. This place is set up like summer camp dorms and the atmosphere kinda reminded me of the same only with extended rules. I tried to make the best of a bad situation. God had his hand in the mix there too. I was learning how to roll with the punches. I got decaf coffee every morning and the oatmeal wasn’t bad. I couldn’t say much about the rest of the menu, but I lost eight pounds in the time I was there, so that’s a silver lining. I talked and I listened. I poured myself into the Bible, reading whole books at a time. I was growing. I was there for a week and a half total.

Transfer night came, again shackles and cuffs. Back to LCP I went. I remained there for the night and part of the next day before being transferred back to PRC.

I was excited that I would finish my last sixteen days at PRC. I got my coffee and was able to smoke. Head counts were still done but I wasn’t confined to a cell for them. The bathrooms had doors, and I got two visits a week. I continued to read my Bible, I continued to read other books as well. Written words came freely. I was able to enjoy sunrises, deer grazing and decent food for those days.

April 20, 2018, I was called into the case worker’s office.

“Tanya, I haven’t heard from the probation office yet, you might not be leaving tomorrow.”

I can say that only through God could these words have come from my mouth.

I took a deep breath. “Ok, I’m not gonna stress this. I’ll contact Jim and have him call them. If it takes till Monday, so be it.”

I did call, I was informed he’d just gotten off the phone with their office like twenty minutes earlier and my home plan was approved.
The act of trusting God to work things out was what I had to do and keep my calm doing so, God didn’t let me down. Later that evening, it was confirmed by the staff… I was going home the next day. My spirits soared.

The next morning I rose, three short hours until I was free. Breakfast tasted great, for cereal. Coffee…even better. I sat outside talking with God for a bit as I watched the sun rise over the hill. Somehow the air was more crisp and the breeze felt like soft kisses straight from God lips.

I signed my paperwork. Time was dwindling down. I changed into my own clothes and sat waiting for the last twenty minutes to fly by…They seemed to drag on and on.

Finally…I walked out of the doors from the PRC building toward the car and Jim. I was free, my jail time was served.

Jim treated me to a haircut and a large iced mocha from Dunkin. That haircut and iced coffee were awesome. We talked the whole way home about nothing and everything. Lemme say that was the best ride ever, and home never looked so good.

I’ve been home now for a few weeks and God is still amazing me with His wonders. As I continue to grow and learn with each passing day, I know His hands are molding me to become the woman I’m meant to be. I owe Him everything. Today and everyday I’m a grateful for His never-ending love. I’m sober today because of that love. As I continue to walk the path of recovery in many areas, I know I am never alone…I never have been.

Blessings To All