Sticking to a schedule can be hard to do. Especially when you feel like you just can’t get ahead. As hard as you try you are moving in slow motion. That’s what I’m struggling with. I feel like I am the proverbial chicken with it’s head cut off. I have been trying to clean my house for over a week. Each night I sit down with my planner and schedule for the next day and have everything all set as to what I’m going to get done tomorrow and here lately it’s just not happening. It seems there is always something that is coming up that is more important than mopping my kitchen floor and cleaning the hardwoods on the first floor.
I am starting this week out again with a purpose and schedule as to when I am fitting in cleaning my bathroom and my kitchen and everything else around here. I think my cats are brushing themselves and just throwing up the cat hair in the living room to see how long it will take to cover the couch. Cat couch motif the newest rage.
There’s one thing that came to my mind this morning. My Aunt Lori. She passed away and battled cancer for I think as long as I’ve known her. She’s seen the inside of more hospitals than even seems humanly possible. One thing she said to me while she was here. She said “God didn’t put me here to clean.” I always thought no he didn’t but keeping everything tidy and clean is just something you need to make sure that gets done. I didn’t understand what she was saying until here recently when my Dad got sick. God didn’t put her here to clean. She was in and out of so many hospitals that when she was home and feeling good that woman was on the go. She was selling things at festivals, she was cooking for other people, she was always helping at church. She was just always doing when she could be doing. She loved to fish and I think she was the first person who took JT fishing. She lived across the field from me( we live in the middle of a farm) and when JT was maybe in kindergarten he got mad packed a suitcase and ran away from home. To her house. He came back after dinner. When he got older and needed to talk to someone that wasn’t me he would go over and talk her ear off. She would do anything for you. I can’t tell you how many times I called her at 7am and told her I couldn’t drive because I had a migraine. Would she please take JT to school for me. She never once made me feel like it was an imposition or I was a bother or for Lord’s sakes it’s 7am can’t you find someone else. She would simply say I got it. What time do I need to be there. She was always helping anytime she could. She would also tell you just what she thought and how things ought to be done. She didn’t have time to mince words. I think she was so outspoken because she never knew when she was going to be sick again and wanted everyone to be clear on who she was, what she said and how she felt. If she had an opinion you were going to know it. Whether you liked it or not. That is why she was so loved. That is why I miss her so much.
So I’m thinking she heard it directly from God. He didn’t put her here to clean. He put her here to serve. What do you want people to think about when you come to mind? Oh, she has an immaculate house. Her yard is to die for. Yes, all those things are great and I’m not saying you should live in squaller. What I am saying is who cares if my kitchen floor needs to be mopped. My bathroom needs a good wipe down. I haven’t been deadheading my Petunias and they are looking pretty rough on the front porch. I would rather be a Lori than making sure my house was sparkling when people came in the front door. Those things aren’t going to matter in the end. Your relationships will matter.
My family, my whole family, is coming in town this weekend and a good majority of them are staying at my house. I hope I get to clean before they come but if I don’t get things looking great and have meals for them this weekend everyone is just going to have to understand. My sister is getting married this weekend. That’s what’s important. Spending time celebrating her marriage. Getting my Dad to his appointments this week. That’s what’s important. JT is having his tonsils removed on Thursday. I’m going to need to take care of him and make sure he is comfortable and healing.
So as I look at my planner this week I have everything scheduled out. I got on the treadmill this morning and spent time with God. Taking care of myself and spending time with God are a must. I can’t help anyone else if I’m not taking care of myself physically and spiritually. I wrote down clean the bathroom then I have to take a shower and get out of here on time to get to my Dad’s for his first Dr. appt. today. So if the only thing that doesn’t get done is I have to put off cleaning the bathroom till tomorrow it will be a succesful day. I don’t think God put me here to clean either. He put me here to serve. I pray he gives me a serving heart like Lori.
I’m tired. I’m sure about 99.9% of the people reading this can say the same. I wake up and half the time look forward to getting back in my bed that night. This last month I’m pretty sure I have been operating on auto pilot. It kind of reminds me when I had my son John-Thomas. You don’t know how you do it but you just get up in the middle of the night and you function on no sleep but you just keep on motoring right along. It’s a special setting that God gives us when we have kids. This is not quite that level, I’m not waking up every 2 hours to feed someone but the stress level is off the charts. When you’re dealing with Dr.’s it’s hurry up and wait. I stated previously my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he is doing just that, going to the Dr. to hurry up and wait. Each one gives him snippets of information each time we go. We learn a little more and find out another step in this process and meet another Dr. They need to streamline this process. You get diagnosed they put you in a room with all the Dr.’s your going to be dealing with and you just have your own panel for a couple of hours.
I can’t imagine how hard this must be on my Dad if it’s this stressful on me. He has such a great sense of humor though. He is the first one to make a joke about his tumor. He really makes us all laugh and I’m not sure I would be able to do that if I were in his shoes. After he had his brain surgery he pulled the Eddie line from Christmas Vacation. “Don’t turn on the microwave or I’ll pee my pants and forget who I am.” As stressful as all this is there is not a day that goes by that we don’t laugh.
I really welcome this season in my life. I don’t welcome the fact that my Dad has a brain tumor but I welcome the fact that I am where I am. For such a time as this. That’s what keeps coming to me since this started. My Mom has said it to. There are no coincidences, or luck or karma. I don’t believe in those things. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 There is God working for our good. This was years in the making. Certain people had to do and be where they were supposed to be for me to be where I was supposed to be. God doesn’t just tap you on the head and say ok you’ve put in your time I think it’s your day go forth and do what you do best. He uses people. He loves people. Otherwise he would have been done with this whole planet a while back.
I know this started with my nephew Matt. I don’t know the in’s and out’s of what was going on with him but I know he was getting his life in order. Matt just really had things working for him and was starting to put into practice things that made his life move forward. He found an amazing motivational speaker, Les Brown and became disciplined on what he was doing with his days. The change could be seen just by looking in his eyes. Well, he shared that with his Mom, my sister. She started really having things working for her. Listening to Les Brown, being more positive, putting God first and she has an amazing gift. She can talk to people like you wouldn’t believe. She can see something in people and talk to them and pray for them. She truly makes me want to be a better person. She and I are horrible about calling eachother actually I will say that I atleast answer my phone but I digress. (Love you Leslie) Two weeks before this all happened with my Dad we had a conversation, a long conversation and we shared some things with eachother and I told her about wanting to write a blog and how it had been on my heart for a long time. She just took whatever was in me and pulled it out. I had been thinking about doing this for almost 2 years. After talking with her I did it a few days later. My whole attitude changed. My whole outlook changed. My purpose changed. I had a purpose. For such a time as this. You see little did we know that in two weeks we would find out my Dad had a brain tumor. I needed to be in a different frame of mind. I needed to have a different purpose. If Matt wasn’t where he needed to be then Leslie wouldn’t be where she needed to be and I wouldn’t be where I needed to be.
“For if you remain silent at this time relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 I love the book of Esther. She had no idea she was going to be thrust into the position she was in but God knew and she was placed in the palace at the precise moment she needed to be to save the people. Now obviously I’m no royal princess but I’m here. God knew I needed to be here. Someone had to impact Matt to start him on his journey so you see we all have someone that we need to touch. You may not know everyone you have an impact on. Matt didn’t know how much of an impact he had made until he was told. That’s powerful. What you do and how you live are seen by more people than you think. You can make an impact. We are not put here to pull a paycheck and just do the same thing every day and go on vacation once a year with the family. We are here to make an impact. We are here to change lives. I’m so grateful that I can be in the position I’m in. I have felt like I have floundered for these past couple of years and I have. I’m sure God could have used me in other ways before this moment but I apparently wasn’t ready.
So yes I’m tired and it’s stressful and I’m worried about my Dad. The alternative is I could still be drinking and miss this last year or so with my Dad. I could still be drinking and not be able to drive he and my Mom to the Dr. I could still be drinking and be emotionally closed off and not be there for my Mom or my sister and brother when we needed eachother. I’ll take tired, I’ll take stress, I’ll take puffy eyes and I’ll take being with my Dad for little moments and laughing with my Mom and Dad at the Dr. when we people watch and crying when the Dr. visit might get to be painful or overwhelming. I’ll take all that and more because I’m so glad I’m here For Such A Time As This.
Drinking does not mix well with depression. Alcohol is a depressant to start with so your not doing yourself any favors by downing a few or six to make yourself feel better because your depressed. Add in the fact that you’re taking antidepressants on top of that and drinking can make your antidepressants less effective. So your just popping pills that aren’t working and drinking to feel better which is really making you feel worse. Then to top it all off it starts to interrupt your sleep. Drinking was great for my sleep in the beginning. I could pass out sleep all night and not wake up one time. After a while it took a lot to pass out and then I was waking up all the time. I couldn’t sleep through the night and would maybe get a solid 1 1/2 hours of uninterupted sleep. So I’m popping pills that don’t work, drinking and becoming more depressed and now I’m not sleeping. This plan is really working for me. So what do I do? I put this party into high gear and drink more.
So I’m in this viscious cycle. The picture that came to mind was a whirlpool in the ocean. We’ve probably all seen one at some point in time in our lives on TV or at the very least in the bathtub. I looked one up and that was definitely me spinning around and around in the center unable to swim out. Everytime I thought I was going to make it and I could see the sky above me, I had this talent for throwing myself backwards into the center and whipping around like one of those inflatable air dancers outside of the car dealerships. I would start drinking again and having a good time, get depressed, drink some more, get depressed, you get the picture. Then there would be the Chernobyl like fall out when my marriage would take a hit or I embarrassed myself. Maybe I could make the neighbors mad. Hey this time I could also hurt myself and fall down the stairs. Then came the extreme depression because I could beat myself up about being a terrible mother, wife, daughter and all around human being. It just got worse every time I took another spin. Yet I kept finding that whirlpool irresistible. The waters up above just looked to calm.
Everyone always says you have to hit your rock bottom. That is true and it is different for everyone. For some it could be jail. For some you may not hit the bottom until you are no longer here. For others it’s a DUI and yet sometimes it seems some people don’t even have a rock bottom. I hit my rock bottom finally. Of course this was after putting my family and especially my husband through a lot of things that he did not deserve to go through. My rock bottom was obviously being drunk but then I decided to take it one step further. I decided that it would be ok if I did some cocaine. I didn’t even think twice about it. I never even paused. I woke up the next day and knew this train had come off the tracks. I knew I had no choice. I had to sit down and tell my husband I had a problem. I was an alcoholic and I was out of control. I knew at that moment if I didn’t and I kept on going down the path I was on I was going over a cliff. I was going to lose my husband, my child, my home. I was going to lose everything I loved and it was going to be me and alcohol all on our own. I didn’t have a drug problem. I could have. I’m glad I didn’t wait much longer to find that out. I was an alcoholic. Now don’t get me wrong. I did take a moment to sort through my feelings and come up with the right words and the right time to talk to him. This involved several soul searching days into the bottom of a vodka bottle. After my deep soul searching (if you not good at detecting sarcasm you need to brush up because my sense of humor is completely sarcastic) I sat down with my husband (Wyatt, tired of calling him my husband) and told him I was stuck down in this whirlpool and I needed his help to pull me out.
It’s amazing how freeing the truth can be. Yes it is true. The truth can set you free. I was hiding behind so many lies and it was taking so much energy to keep everything straight and hide this secret from the ones that were so close to me. On one hand I felt like I could breathe and then on the other hand I was having a panic attack feeling the hurt, pain, guilt and fear and there was nothing to drink to make it go away. This feeling business and dealing with your problems is for the birds. From the word go Wyatt stood by my side. As long as I was willing to get help he was willing to walk with me every step of the way. You know who else stood by my side. Jesus. I had walked away from him a while back and was pretty good at ignoring his gentle nudge. You see he had been asking me to stop drinking as far back as July 14, 2004. That’s pretty precise isn’t it. I found a journal entry on that day. “For some reason I am having a difficult time doing what God is asking me to do. Stop drinking. ” That’s what I wrote on that day. God has been giving me a gentle nudge asking me to be obedient and I keep pretending I don’t hear him. The gentle nudges have gotten rougher over the years and there is one thing about God. If you’re not going to listen it’s going to be painful when God is done nudging and his arm comes out of nowhere and he clotheslines you. Slamming to the ground is never fun and you’re going to get a lot of cuts and bruises along the way. It’s never just you either. You will manage to trip over the ones you love and scrape them up in the process. Don’t miss the blessing in being clotheslined. He loves you enough to knock you off your feet. He could have just said he was tired of dealing with you. I’m sure I made him want to beat his head against a brick wall a time or two or three. He’s greater than us and his love is perfect. So even though he may knock you off your feet and you may land in the mud he is right there loving you as he always has. No less, he’s just waiting for you to look up and grab his hand. Nehemiah 8:10 – “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” How is the Lord’s joy our strength? The Lord’s joy is in forgiving and saving us. He delights in showing love to all that believe in him. Whenever we feel weak or defenseless he loves to step in and deliver us. In that his joy really will be our strength.
So I haven’t missed the blessing in God clotheslining me but listen up. If you aren’t there yet and you still have time I suggest you listen to the gentle nudges. He’s going to get your attention one way or another. It all just depends on how you want to be nudged.
It can be hard to be sober and feel like you fit in with everyone else. Especially if it is new to you. You feel like a freak, the person at the table or the party or in the room everyone is talking about. Maybe you are, maybe nobody really could care less if you have a drink or not. It’s hard letting go of the world revolving around you and realizing there are other people around that might be of some interest. Being an addict can make a person so narcissistic.
When it’s all new and you have just given up drinking that’s all you can think about. Am I right? It seems like that’s all you see everywhere. Everyone on TV is drinking excessively, every commercial is for beer or liquor, everywhere you go to eat everyone in the restaurant is drinking except for YOU!! Obviously that’s not the case it’s just all your thinking about. Now granted, alcohol is everywhere. It has really become a staple in our society. I won’t be surprised when they place it on the food pyramid. When you see a commercial for a subscription to wine you should drink while watching investigative shows on the ID channel I’m thinking, what the world, score one for the winery who partnered with ID. If I was still drinking I would have jumped right on that bandwagon and had my subscription on rush. That would be just another way for me to justify that “I’m drinking with a purpose.”
It’s hard though. You don’t feel like you quite fit in with the people you were hanging out with and your not comfortable going to the places you were going. You may have to change your whole circle of friends and find new places to go. If all your friends do is go out and drink well, that’s not on your agenda anymore. If you only hung out at bars or went to places where you did nothing but drink well, here’s your sign. The friends that understand will go along for the ride and discover these new places with you and respect the safe places that you create for yourself. The friends that don’t will slowly fall off and you’ll realize you never really were that close to begin with. This really is just a process. A life process. Does it get easier? Yes it does. Does the feeling for a drink ever go away? I don’t know? I’m coming up on 2 years and I still have the urge to drink. It’s not as strong but I Do.
I bring these feelings up because I went to a wedding yesterday. It was beautiful. The ceremony was very intimate and meaningful and I cried from the moment the minister started talking until the time he said you may kiss the bride because that’s what I do. Then it was cocktail hour. We all jaunted over to the next building to grab a drink and some hors d’oeuvres. It was an open bar, beer and wine and water for those who were not drinking. I was waiting in line to get something to drink when I realized there was water available on the sides of the table as people were peeling off the front of the line two, three fisted with mostly beer. I think it’s just normal for my eye to follow all the beer flowing through the room. I immediately go back to, that was me. That’s what I would be doing. I wasn’t freaking out. I didn’t feel the need to tackle anyone outside and hide behind the bushes and down several bottles but it’s just the fact that I think about it. Now a wedding I went to over a year ago I did feel like that. I was completely miserable and I just should have stayed at home. You need to know where you are at mentally before you go to your first public outing. If you get there and you’re not ready, it’s ok. Go home. Home is your safe place and you don’t owe anyone out there anything. You can just politely excuse yourself. I’m not feeling well, I have an emergency, my dog bit my neighbor etc. You know things that could happen. So yesterday I had a good time. I laughed. I cried. I looked sometimes longingly at the beer going by as other people passed. I will tell you like this. The best thing someone ever said to me and it hit the nail on the head. My relationship with alcohol is like a relationship with an old boyfriend. We broke up. It was really, REALLY ugly. It took me a long time to get to this point and I’m doing good. I can go out and see him now but it still makes me want to go talk to him. Then I smack myself in the face and know if I even talk to him nothing good will happen and if I even say hi I will end up in a few hours riding the beautiful swan that is so gracefully gliding across the pond behind this beautiful wedding. So I choose to leave him alone.
Once I have these conversations in my head I can start to relax. I look at my husband and my son and know that it’s not even worth flirting with that no good trouble maker if I could possibly lose one of these two handsome men. I had some fun times and did and saw people do some really funny things when I was drinking and I can laugh about them. I had some really bad times and did some things I’m not so proud of when I was drinking. If there is even the remote possibility that I might do something contrary to my morals and beliefs or lose control of myself (like riding on a swan) alcohol and I don’t mix. If I have to drink to have fun then there’s something wrong with me on the inside. I think I like the new memories I’m creating. I can remember them the next day.
These last couple of days that my Dad has been home from the hospital have been unsettling for me. I think that’s the right word. When he was in the hospital I had a mission. Make sure he had everything he needed, make sure my Mom was taken care of just generally do whatever needed to be done and it seemed there was always something needing to be done. I’m good with that. I’m good with, here’s what I need you to do and it needs to be done by this time etc. I don’t do good with waiting.
I suppose no one likes to wait. We are just in a holding pattern now. Waiting to go to the Dr., waiting to hear the prognosis, waiting to hear what treatment is available. When we get that information we will know how we need to proceed. I just need a PLAN!!! Wait a minute. I’m not the one who’s sick. I’m not the one who was told that they have a brain tumor. I’m not the one who had brain surgery. Oh, I would imagine the person that received that information would like to know most of all where he goes from here. What’s next, is there chemo, radiation, what is my life going to be like? I just need a list. That’s the way I operate. I need to know everything there is to know so I am well informed and I can plan and know exactly what to do. Meanwhile, my Dad is sitting here with this inside his body. He is the one who is going to have the hardest part of this whole process. I need to slow down and forget about my lists and being so informed that I know exactly what will need to be done each and every day. This is about spending each and every moment that I can with him and making it count. God doesn’t work on our schedule and in all my 44 years he’s never given me a list so I can be prepared for upcoming events and know just what’s going to happen on any given day. Have you every heard that saying, when we make plans God laughs. I’m pretty sure he does. A lot.
As much uncertainty as there is and I’m still pretty sure God’s not going to share his list with me, although he really should I’m a great organizer, there is one constant. This, God did share with all of us and I can write it down on each and every day of my planner and every list I have. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 That I can count on. Things may change from day to day, minute to minute but he is unchangeable. So I need to embrace the quiet chaos that it is right now and stop scheduling and start being so I don’t miss the moments or the man. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xPzTSpbYmk
I had to take a break from writing and I just got started. Some of you know and some of you don’t. My father was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo brain surgery last Thursday. This really caught my family off guard and it all took place (diagnosis, surgery, hospitalization) within a week and a half, two week period. Most of all it caught my Dad off guard. He went in for an MRI and found out he’s perfectly healthy in one area and by the way we’re glad you’re here because there’s a little something on that scan that we need to talk about. I suppose no one is ever prepared for that kind of news, but really? A brain tumor? There were no signs. He wasn’t having any symptoms. I guess that’s the blessing. If we would not have known until he started showing signs and symptoms the tumor would have progressed so much more than it had.
The day of his surgery we were sitting in his room listening to some music just spending time with him before he went in and I played Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin. If you haven’t heard it. STOP!!! Go listen to it and come back. It’s an amazing song. I looked at my Dad and my family in the room and those that were on the way and thought of my family who had surrounded us through out the week and the friends and just everyone who showered us with love and prayers and I was completely filled. I knew whatever happened HE is a Good Good Father. I looked at my Dad and loved him so much at that moment because he as well is a good good father and as much as he loves me, which is unconditional, and would give his life for me, how much more does my Father in heaven love me. It can’t even be measured. I want to share something my nephew Nick wrote earlier that morning after sitting with Dad around 6am when it was quiet and it was just the two of them.
“Today I sat with PawPaw in the early morning hours while everything was still quiet. I sat there and prayed for the success of the surgery. I pray for a miraculous healing and I pray that no matter the outcome that not just me, but the entire family still realizes that God is good no matter what happens. It made me realize our hope isn’t in a hospital, doctors, nurses or surgeons although we pray for them and want them to perform above and beyond their best abilities. But our ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ. The fact that HE has laid death in it’s grave and HE is a Good Good Father and we are deeply loved by him. Harper has been singing a song that she learned at church lately and the lyrics are “I know no matter what God loves me” and after sitting and talking to PawPaw I know that he believes that with all his heart.” Nick Bailey
You can’t get any more real than that. I know that no matter what my Dad loves Jesus Christ with all his heart and I can take comfort in knowing that God’s got this. Not just on the surgery day or when I pray extra hard but he has this in his hands. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
For those that aren’t close to the situation my Dad made it through the surgery amazingly well. I don’t know what this next year holds for him but I know I’ll be there with him, with my Mom and as my cousin Allison Kelley stated “although I’ve hated the circumstances I’ve really loved being around family these last few days. #Baileystrong”
When everything is starting to flow and you feel like you are on the right track and feeling good about what you are doing and where you are, you can be certain that there is a landmine maybe even more than one in your path. You can jump over them you can step around them but eventually you will step on one. That is how this life works. I say it is how satan works. Some of those landmines can be self made and some of them can come out of left field. It’s all in how you put yourself back together and how much damage you allow them to do.
I had been sober for about 6 months and I got a Facebook message from a person I had never even met before but we had a mutual friend. This person said he had a package addressed to me that had mistakenly been delivered to his house. I was feeling kind of sketchy on who this individual was so I contacted our mutual friend to check him out and he was real. He wasn’t a scammer and didn’t have $3,000,000.00 he wanted to give me from the Nigerian government just because he liked my profile picture. I messaged him back and he had a whole case of wine from a subscription company from California and he was going to drop it off to me or I could come pick it up. A WHOLE CASE OF WINE!!!! No one would know. There would be no trace. I didn’t order it. It wouldn’t be on my credit card, I could hide it. I mean that’s a great big alcoholic present dropped right in my lap. I agonized over that decision. It was just me and this guy that would know. Was it though? God would know. All the hard work I had done in the last 6 months would be for nothing. The commitment I had made to myself and my family would be broken. The trust would be gone. This would not end here. After this I would be in that hole again and probably grab my shovel on the way down to dig deeper so it was going to take twice as long to get out. After many arguments in my own head, much like having those little cartoon angel and demon on each shoulder, I messaged him back and let him know it was not mine and there was a mistake. I also told my husband so I could be held accountable. Landmines, they just get thrown out there when we least expect them to sometimes coming from the most bazaar places that have to let you know something is trying awful hard to throw you off track.
I feel that way today. I am moving forward, I have good momentum and then an unexpected bomb drops on me completely out of left field over the weekend. Are you serious? I really questioned God and said “Why Now?” God answered through out the weekend by sharing with family and just reflecting. Why not now? Actually if there was going to be any time for a landmine now would be the time. If this would have been a month ago I would be curled up in a ball in the bed. If this would have been a month ago I would not be able to be there in the midst of everything like I need to be and do my part. God put all the pieces in place. He has been gathering and moving everyone and getting them prepared so everyone can be right where they need to be for such a time as this. A moment to soon or a moment to late and things don’t work how they are supposed to. We will never be able to avoid the landmines. There will be seasons where we spot them and are good at going around them and there will be seasons where it seems like every step we take is one explosion after another. What we will be able to do is let God get us through them. Let him clothe us in spiritual armor so that we may grow stronger and turn around and show others how to do the same.