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.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Letting Go

To let go doesn't mean to stop caring; it means I can't do it for someone else.
To let go is not to cut myself off; it's the realization that I can't control another.
To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try to change or blame another; it's to make the most of myself.
To let go is not to care for, but to care about.
To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the middle of arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own outcome.
To let go is not to be protective; it is to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and to cherish myself in it.
To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone, but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
To let go is to fear less and love more.
To let go and let God, is to find peace.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Letting God...

A devotional that I just received and started reading today asked "Under what circumstances do you find it difficult to believe that God is in control and knows what He is doing?"

1. When I am overly busy, and too focused on getting my to-do list done.
2. When I am angry, fearful or tired.
3. When my motives are out of line.
4. When I'm not focusing on today, and either getting caught up in tomorrow or yesterday.

It also asked "Under what circumstances is believing easier for you?"
1. When I am taking time to do my daily prayer, meditation and reflection.
2. When I am maintaining balance.
3. When I am "right" with God.
4. When it applies to someone else!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm Back...

So right after posting that I was going to be posting more... I stopped posting.  Oops.  Well, a series of events led up to that.  First I got sick with a horrible cold, then my husband left for a week long business trip, and then preperations for my daughter's first, real birthday party consumed me.  But I made it through sober, that's the main thing!  And I learned a lesson along the way...

I overdid it a bit with the birthday party.  I don't know if it was my perfectionism or some other questionable motives that were driving me, but I had quite a to-do list, and it took center stage.  I could feel parts of my program slipping away as my priorities got out of order, but I kept charging forward anyway.  The good news is I knew what was going on as it happened, and did re-adjust a bit midway to make up for it.  I was still keeping up my spiritual program, going to meetings, and maintaining all of my other weekly activities, but I knew my focus was off.  My husband commented on it, and I received reminders at meetings about "HALT" (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) but I kept on anyway.

And it all worked out fine.  I stayed sober, it all got done, and I don't think I turned into a raving dry drunk or anything.  But I find it interesting, because I can see how quickly a good program can slip away.  I think that keeping God first in my life and in each day got me through it, though.  Eventhough I could see what was going on, and I didn't change course, I admitted that to God, and just asked him to get me through it.  And although I was very tired, and a little over-consumed, I don't think I lost a certain amount of serenity that I wouldn't have had a year ago.

The other thing that I learned was regarding my motivations.  Despite all the prep work going on I still managed to finish Tozer's The Pursuit of God (which I highly recommend), and in the chapter titled "Meekness and Rest" Tozer talks about the importance of resting in God, as a way of maintaining your focus on Him.  Remember meekness isn't weakness, but, as Tozer describes it - it is rest.  Release from the burden that mankind carries.  It is what comes to us when we cease to do.

As an alcoholic I know well that I tend to rely on my own self abilities too much.  My own will power, my self confidence, etc.  And it is all those things which didn't work for me when trying to get sober, and it is all those things which try to creep in and take over for God.  I constantly have to watch and make sure that I'm not being self-led.  That self-leading frequently puts me ahead of today, and focuses me on a project or task or something in the future.  A friend at the meeting on Friday described this as putting our "selves" back into control, because by focusing on that goal we feel in control again.  But of course we're not.

Tozer goes on to describe that there are three enemies to rest and meekness.  And those enemies are also what make up the burden we carry.  The first is pride, the second is pretense, and the third is artificiality.  I knew as I was being driven by this to-do list for the party that I was probably laboring under the wrong motivations.  I mean, yes, I want my daughter to have a wonderful party, and beautiful memories, and those are worthy motivations; but I also suspected that some other, less healthy motivations had managed to twist the healthy ones into something of their own.  And when I read about pride, pretense and artificilaity it struck home a bit.  There was definitely a drive to give her the BEST party, make big impressions on people and come off looking like the perfect little housewife.  And how interesting... no rest and no meekness as a result!  Just like Tozer said.

Well, the party is over now, and I will not likely do anything like that again (as far as parties go anyway - I'm sure I will operate under the influence of questionable motives again, and have to check myself...) but it was interesting, because although I thoroughly enjoyed the party, and was quite happy for my daughter, and we have some beautiful memories; I also noticed that I was a bit embarrassed over just how much I did.  Somehow realizing my motivations kind of ruined it for me!  Realizing that I was partially motivated by my pride and impressing people took away the payoff!  If anything it made me feel guilty about it!

So, lesson learned.  Next time I just need to remember that A.) It will all get done, and if it doesn't - it'll be OK. and B.) I need to look carefully at my motivations when my to-do list gets a little crazy!

On another note - I got my 90 day chip while I was out!  No more chips till 6 months now!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Being Poor in Spirit

Just received a copy of Tozer's The Pursuit of God in the mail today and started reading it.  Another book that I just read references it frequently, so I thought I would read it as well.  In the second chapter Tozer discusses "The Blessedness of Posessing Nothing," as related in the beatitude of the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3) and the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son.  He recounts that Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, because Abraham's love for his only son had usurped God's position in Abraham's heart.  Tozer goes on to discuss the dangers in wanting and having "things" (whether they are material or not,) and the blessing we receive when we let those things go.  He points out that it does not mean we have to become beggars in the street, but that it is their possession in our heart which is relevant.  I suppose for some it may however, mean actually forgoing something, just as an alcoholic must give up alcohol if they want to receive life.

Anyway, so far it's well worth the read, and it inspired me to do a little inventory here on the things that I need to focus on dispossessing, and giving over to God.  I'm sure that some of these may take a lifetime, over many attempts... (in no particular order)

1. smoking (current quit date August 28th)
2. nice clothing
3. nice home things, having a perfect home
4. perfect image (think Martha Stewart)
5. recognition
6. being right
7. control, my way (this include control over other drivers on the highway :) )
8. being "better" than my sister
9. husband, marriage
10. my daughter
11. getting everything done - the prominence of my to-do list
12. family and friends
13. beauty and fitness

I will probably end up adding to this list as I ruminate on it more, but that was just what I came up with after my first impression... should be simple, no?

Monday, July 19, 2010

5 things I've enjoyed in the last 24 hours...

Feel free to leave a comment and share yours as well!

1. newcomers who come reularly to meetings.
2. explaining that bread comes from wheat we picked from a field to my 3 yr old daughter, and taking it apart to show her the grains.
3. explaining that pine cones come from the trees, and pointing them out to her up in the tree.
4. making and eating a quiche!
5. a good cuddle with my sleeping husband after a long day!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sponsor!

Got a sponsor tonight!  Woohoo!  Finally bit the bullet and asked another woman at my home group.  There really aren't more than a few regular women there, so I don't know what took me so long.  For some reason it was just very difficult for me.  ANd finally this week, I was just like, why am I making this so difficult?  The main thing is that I have someone that I can call, and that I keep working the steps.  And I know I need to do 8 and 9 with a sponsor, so anyway - I got off my butt and did it.  I will refer to her here as "M-."  She was very sweet about it, and has been very sweet to me since I started, but she has no kids and works days, but in the end none of that really matters when it comes to working the program, so - here we are!

We will be setting up a meeting to get started, I expect sometime in the coming week or so...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Last Day of IOP...

Today is officially my last day with the Intensive Outpatient Program at Valley Hope.  I finished up the curriculum last weekend, but was still able to participate in group stuff up until today.  We opted to do it, since IOP does improve relapse rates, and VH offers an online program that was perfect for our situation.  Might as well put everything in our corner that we have available to us.  It required 9 hours logged online each week, which meant close to an hour and a half each day for 6 weeks.  It was a bit to manage with a hectic schedule and an almost 3 year old, but by logging in at naptime each day I managed.  After all, sobriety has to come first.  Sometimes it seems like family should come first, but without sobriety, I can't put them first, so I knew I had to make time.

And it was very helpful to keep me engaged.  The content was mostly pretty repetitive of what I learned while I was in treatment, but it was helpful to be able to review it again now that I'm back home, and by making it a daily activity I knew I was getting a regular dose of where my head should be.  It was especially helpful when I first returned home, and everything felt like I was sticking a square peg into a round hole.  I definitely feel much more at home again, and like I've established a good routine, some new healthy habits, and am doing pretty well at staying flexible and making time for myself even though I'm staying happily busy.

But I am pretty happy that now I will have a little extra time each day to devote to sobriety in different ways.  Either reading some literature or getting on here and journaling more about recovery.  I haven't been able to journal as much as I would like, and so hopefully now I'll be able to do that.  In addition to writing here, I want to start keeping a daily log of positives and negatives - my daily inventory, if you like.  I've been doing pretty well at running through my negatives each night as I ask forgiveness, but I think it's important to keep track of the good things we do each day as well.

Another milestone is being passed this week.  My husband left for his first business trip yesterday, and returns tomorrow.  Fortunately a short one!  He has a couple more coming up, which will be longer, so at least this one was short to get me used to it.  Before when my husband went on a business trip, it was an opportunity for me to drink.  He wouldn't be around, so I could drink without the trouble of hiding it, and after all, "taking care" of my daughter without any extra help meant that I deserved it... right.

Anyway, we were both a little apprehensive about it.  And when I first got back from treatment we thought that maybe I would go visit my Aunt and Uncle when this came up.  But things have been going so well, I felt confident enough to give it a go.  And I must say, it's been a bit like the square peg again.  Yesterday I definitely had more urges than I've had in a while, probably since I first got back.  But I just kept doing the next right thing, whether that was emptying the dishwasher, hanging out in the kiddie pool with my daughter, or going for a walk; and I tell you what, it works!  I don't think it will ever be a picnic to have my husband gone, but it has gotten more comfortable as it passed.  I'll have a lot more confidence, and I expect a lot less discomfort when he has to do it again.  And, I'm quite proud of myself!  (But I do miss my husband and can't wait till he's home for dinner tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Big Book on Resentments... Page 552, 4th Edition

Just typed this up for a friend, and since I had it transcribed, thought I would share it here as well...  has worked well so far for me, too.

"'If you have resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don't really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don't mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it everyday for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate, understanding and love.'

It worked for me then, and it has worked for me many times since, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work it. Sometimes I have to ask first for the willingness, but it always comes. And because it works for me, it will work for all of us. As another great man says, 'The only real freedom a human being can ever know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do it.'"

Thursday, July 8, 2010

From 24 Hours a Day...

Disillusionment and doubt spoil life.  The doubting ones are the  disillusioned ones.  When you are in doubt, you are on the fence.  You are not going anywhere.  Doubt poisons all action.  "Well, I don't know" - so you don't do anything.  You should meet life with a "Yes," an affirmative attitude.  There is good in the world and we can follow that good.  There is power available to help us to do the right thing; therefore we will accept that power.  There are miracles of change in people's lives; therefore we will accept those miracles as evidence of God's power.

Prayer for the Day:
I pray that I will not be paralyzed by doubt.  I pray that I may go along on the venture of faith.

Twenty-Four Hours a Day - Hazelden Meditations, 1954

For me today this says something about what I need to do to get a sponsor - stop doubting and take action despite it.  Have faith about it, and stop waiting to see...

Friday, July 2, 2010