Tag Archives: sobriety

Is Sobriety a Gift or an Albatross?

To Thine Own Self Be Tru Unity Service Recovery XXIIIRecently I came across a video, boasting the health benefits from eating fermented vegetation, a euphemism for rotten veggies. For 20 minutes I watch some skinny gal shred buckets of cabbage, carrots, golden beets, and celery, pressing  the compost-like mixture  into Mason jars. sobriety

As she’s twisting the lids onto the jars, I wise up. sobriety

          “Wait, I’m not eating that!”

Not ready to give up, I think up an alternative I can stomach… sauerkraut. I like it, sort of.  Next, I turn to google, searching for a home-cured recipe. As I scroll through dozens of choices, I remember my husband’s remarks the last time I ate sauerkraut. sobriety

            “Oh, (gag), that’s nasty stuff. Can’t you eat that outside?”

Next, a perfectly timed pop-up ad appeared on my screen. It happened to be a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (my old favorite), with flashing red font, claiming the same heart-healthy benefits as rotten veggies. This should be an easy choice. I mean come on… a bowl of sauerkraut or a glass of Sauvignon? sobrietyglass of red wine

Right?

Problem is, next month I will celebrate 24 years of sobriety. That makes choosing a tad more difficult. The big picture question becomes two-fold:

            Part 1: Could I have a single glass of wine every day?

And  …

          Part 2:  What size glass are we talking about?

Seriously, after more than two decades abstaining from alcohol, I can’t help wondering if the alcoholic label has expired.  After all, I’m a new person. The loud mouth woman, slurring words and falling down is behind me. sobriety

Or is she? sobriety

What if she’s lurking in my soul, smacking her dry lips, day dreaming of a 36-ounce tumbler of Cabernet Sauvignon?

Frankly, I believe God put my old self on a bus, out of my heart, years ago. With caution, I confess, I don’t think having a single glass of wine would cause me a problem today. I’m not certain I want just one glass, but with God in my life, I believe it’s possible.

So, why would I choose sauerkraut over red wine?

For starters, gratitude. Sobriety is the gift that keeps on giving. Why would I stand in the return/exchange line for a refund? I certainly don’t want back what I paid for it. That’s a scary thought.

“Here you go, ma’am… 24 bags full of heartbreak, disaster, and shame.”

Am I saying a sober life is a life of sauerkraut? No! That’s just how these ponderings began. Quite the contrary, sobriety for me means:

I see… hear… taste… smell… feel… love. I have character, maybe even integrity, from which relationships thrive with God, my husband, children, grandchildren, friends.

My life means something today. I stand for things. Such as an alternative lifestyle, one  lacking representation and prominence in this world. Too many of us have modeled the American dream, boasting age 21, as a time to receive our prized first drink. Our children see us glorify liquor, resembling the proverbial rabbit chasing the carrot. They hear us say things like “I NEED a drink,” or  “I’ll drink to that.” We honor our time spent with booze by giving it pet names like Miller Time, Beer-thirty and Happy Hour. We even warn the end is near with Last Call. Then, when our children prematurely race for their first drink, we have little tolerance. Yet, we’ve dangled it in their face, adding allure, by tagging it taboo.

God help me!  I imagine by now you’re picturing me banging my tambourine, like one of those prudish Victorian women from the Liquor Prohibition Temperance Movement. Banning alcohol Liquor Sobriety Funny Photoconsumption is not my intent. I envy families who’ve modeled drinking as a choice no more exciting than peas and carrots. I am asking that we quit portraying drinking as a glamorous rite of passage. Certainly the media does not need our help brainwashing youth to believe college equals parties, problems are solved by drinking, and bars and clubs are the only venues for good times.

What I realized contemplating sauerkraut versus wine, is that I like and appreciate my sober life. I’m proud to represent a lifestyle option that I hope reflects contentment, joy and excitement, without the need for additives. sobriety

See below to read a sample chapter of our book in progress.

New Christian Author Preview Chapter: In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

Last Peek- New Christian Author Preview Chapter: In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

new author chapter preview

new author chapter preview

I’m the person that finds the perfect Christmas present in April, buys it, sticks it in the closet, waits several hours, then calls you to come open it now. new author chapter preview

That’s how I feel about our book, “In Spite of Us, Stalked by a Loving God.” How can I possibly wait until it’s finished, before I share it? Besides, your enthusiasm and encouragement for the other two sample chapters, helped spur me on.

So, here we go again. Since, I’m currently writing the final chapters, (Yay! Finally getting to spew God’s glory!), this will be the last peek of our book.

The book is written, in dueling perspectives, mine and husband Sandy. Chapter 39, (my voice) is about three quarters into the book. I’m sober, but just as crazy as not. When plans to score prescription drugs fail, I walk through the proverbial, “last door,” A.A. More interesting than following my zig-zagging path of desperation, is the look into what God is, was and continues to do.

Chapter 39

 

You keep saying that. Are you sure? New Author Chapter preview

When I said the words, I hoped for relief, a sense of closure to my insanity. Instead the words floated around the room with nowhere to rest.New Author Chapter preview

“My name’s Deb. I’m an alcoholic.”

As I tell my story, the voice in my head screams, “shut up!” I want to keep it simple, like Veni Vidi Vici, only instead of I came, I saw, I conquered… I drank, I quit, I’m fine now. The faces at the table look like our cat Slim, when I treat her like a dog. I confess to being sober, or dry, for the past eight years. All eyes glaze over under one giant group frown. Even my quest to score meds turned into a bizarre circus. Why did I get the self-absorbed, confused psychiatrist, instead of the normal, stable, old man, glasses on nose, saying stuff like, “It’s okay dear, everything will be fine.”  And why did my magic bean leave me the color of cherry Kool Aid, super charged like a Chatty Cathy doll on speed?  Once again, I’m left behind, waving bon voyage to all America as they pop a pill, floating off to chill island. New Author Chapter preview

So here I sit, in an A.A. meeting, attempting to explain the sober alcoholic clause. Do I care if I meet the base requirements to join their little club? Not really. I loathe the clichés, the constant self ass-patting for not doing something stupid yet today, and the guy whining about his ex-wife. Yet, I want what they have, well what a few seem to have found… a God they believe in… serenity… hope. There must be a way to get what they have, without hanging out with them. All I know is, I don’t know diddly, and I have nowhere else to go. New Author Chapter preview

I got a sponsor, nicknamed Little Sue, a friend from Alanon. She’s a cocktail like me, two fingers A.A. with an Alanon mixer, a splash of ACOA, and a little crazy, on a toothpick. If you’re not familiar with those terms I’ll simplify it for you, it’s the trifecta of the disease of alcoholism… A. A deals with the alcoholic… Alanon deals with all the others harmed by the alcoholic…. ACOA… is specifically for those who’ve lived under the chaos of alcoholic parents. Crazy is… a bonus, for winning the trifecta. New Author Chapter preview

The first time I meet with Little Sue, I’m certain she tries to scare me off. I don’t blame her, who wants to take on the difficult cases. I hope Difficult Deb is not my destined nickname. New Author Chapter preview

“We’re jumping ahead to Step 11 for a moment,” she says, sliding the Big Book my way, while reciting the step. “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

She seems to be waiting for me to respond. I don’t hear a question in there, so I keep quiet.

“If I’m to be your sponsor, you’ll be looking into the Bible. If that’s not okay with you, we won’t be a good fit.”

I laugh. Lately I’ve felt like a cartoon character stalked by Bible thumpers, jumping out from every corner. Since we’ve opened our antiques store in Ellensburg, I’m at the mercy of my customers seven days a week. I’m trapped behind the counter, forced to listen to tales of their ceramic pig collection, annoying neighbors, upcoming gall bladder surgery, and God.

One day, a blonde trio approaches the counter; a young mom holding the hand of a toddler, dragging an antique doll across the floor. The porcelain doll appears to be the one from the glass case, with the $300 price tag, and sign reading: Please do not touch.

“I’m a Christian…” says the mom. “Would you take $25 for this doll. My little girl really wants it. We’re Christians and can’t afford to pay more than that.”

I did not say the words begging to spill out. I didn’t even say the G Rated version – “Listen, you presumptuous idiot. I don’t hold Christians in high regard or think by any means that you are better than anyone else.”

I really tried.

“I see she likes the doll, but there’s no way I can sell a $300 doll for $25.”

Pointing at her child, she continues.

“But, we can only pay $25. Wouldn’t you consider it, because we are Christians?”

I remind myself to be kind.

“I’m sorry…” I begin, but hearing the lie, unleashes my indignation.

“You know what, dear heart? If I could adjust my prices that easily I’d charge Christians double. Why? Because they think they’re entitled and better than everybody else. So, have a wonderful day, and God bless you!”

I fight the urge to chase her down the sidewalk with, “further mores.” Instead, red faced, I pick the doll up off the floor, finger comb the mussed hair, and return it to the shelf, next to the “Please do not touch,” sign.

Back at the counter, another woman approaches me. Her hands are empty, so I assume she’s overheard the drama, and wants to take a shot at me. I feel like I’ve just slapped the face of Tiny Tim (“God bless us, every one”). Only in my version, I snag a doll from the weak hands of a deprived little girl, a Christian child.

“I’m a Christian too…” she starts.

I’m wondering what’s going on. The Christians are circling, like the lions in that bible story. I’m bleeding, and they’re moving in for the kill. Before I spring with a defense, she finishes her sentence.

“… and I want you to know that we are not all like that woman. I’m so sorry she did that. It was very un-Christian like.”

I like this woman, with the kind face. Since that drama, she, Patryk, stops by daily. It seems our store is on her walk route. She listens, even when I spit vile opinions of Christians. Best of all, she’s not perfect. Sure, imperfection is common, but she’s actually aware of the ailment. I’ve never met a Christian like her. I worked with a Christian guy at People for People, who had puffy, sprayed-stiff, Televangelist hair. He had plenty of time to dampen spirits with news of the fast approaching end times, but if you were choking on a chicken bone, drowning, or in need of a kind word, he’d hurry on by.

“Christians are either crazy or jerks… you know I’m right, Patryk.”

“Well, Deb, I’m a Christian… “

“You keep saying that. Are you sure?”

Around the same time, yet another oddball Christian surfaces at the store, named Monte. We became fast friends, our bond, being a distinct distaste for Christians. He has more rotten things to say about them than me. Yet, he speaks of Jesus like someone I might actually like. I got to know Monte when one of my customers, (probably a Christian), told me I should keep an eye on him, because he looked like the type that would steal. Although we’d never spoken more than a few sentences of polite customer/clerk exchange, I knew this humble, quiet man, was no thief or threat. She, like many others, judged his blonde hair, traipsing down his back, open shirt, and bull ring in one ear. One conversation with him would reveal the gentlest soul on earth. So I lied to the presumptuous, finger pointing woman, in a voice loud enough for Monte to hear.

“Excuse me? That man is my dearest friend. And the most honest person I know!”

She slithered out the door, justifying her accusations with, “I didn’t know… I was just trying to help…”

Monte, approached the counter.

“I apologize for her.”

“It’s okay, I’m used to it. It happens all the time.”

Thus, our friendship began. We hang out, sipping tea, between customers, bashing Christians and discussing Jesus. Soon after Monte became a store fixture, my next door business neighbor, Anne, pays me a visit. The sign above her store reads: Ed’s Refrigeration Service, but it is loosely dubbed an antiques store, known for dust covered clutter.

“He’s evil,” she says, racing into my store, just as Monte left out back. “That man, with that hair… and no shirt. I know things about him.”

I try to shine light on her darkness, but she isn’t having any of that. I never told Monte about her visit, but we shared many laughs at her expense. Besides dust, she is known around town for her, “end of times” sales techniques. Her favorite: Placing fake $20 bills on the floor, lurking behind a pile of junk until a customer picks it up, then jumping out yelling “Aha!” After giving a lecture on the evils of money, she smiles, handing them a dooms day preparation brochure. Truth is, she’s great for our business, sending shaken victims through our door, seeking protection and an explanation.

Looking back, I should not have been surprised that my A.A. sponsor was in on the helter skelter Christian encounters. I thought I’d be fed the same lingo I’d heard around the tables. No one there speaks of Bibles or Jesus. So, my coffee date with Little Sue, caught me off guard and even more alarming was my response to her order to read the Bible

“Okay, I can do that. Makes sense.”

Funny thing, I have two new Bibles, one from Patryk and another from Monte. Sadly, it’s like reading a foreign language, yada, beget, yada, yada, beget, yada, thou shall yada yada. I found one part, I understood, but I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was that creep Lot, who wants to protect his sons, so he says “Hey take my daughters and do whatever you want with them.”

What? I hate that guy. I am so upset; I call Little Sue moments after reading it. She listens to my paraphrase of the story, cutting me off mid-rant.

“Okay… I don’t think you’re ready to read the Old Testament alone. You’re not really comprehending the context. Please stay in the New Testament for now”

“Is that Lot guy in the New Testament?”

“No.  How are you doing with the Big Book? Are you journaling on your fourth step? “That’s the one that says ‘Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.; Right? Well, I’ve been thinking on it. I haven’t written anything down yet.”

“Next week I want you ready to share your inventory with me. Okay?”

“Okay.”

 

If you haven’t read the other sample chapters, you can find them here: new author chapter preview

Sample Chapter 14

Sample Chapter 19

Second Preview Chapter From: In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

Christian Author Book Chapter Preview. In Spite of Us - Stalked by a Loving God

A few months back we shared a sneak peek chapter from our book, “In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God.” Thanks to everyone for the encouraging buzz and interest in reading more! That felt so good we’re doing it again!

Our book is the story of an unremarkable couple pursued by God at every turn. It’s written in two points of view – his and hers – bi-chapterly. By the way, the His and Hers monogram belongs to my husband and me. It’s a true story of God’s perpetual grace in our lives, even through seasons of irreverent, stiff-necked refusal of His power and love.

The last preview, Chapter 14, featured my husband, Sandy’s point of view while meeting my colorful parents. This time it’s my turn to speak out as I experience dinner with his family rainbow of characters.

Here’s some general background to set the stage:

It takes place early in our courtship, after a blind date that should have killed the attraction, that miraculously limps on. We are 40-somethings, recent college graduates, beginning lives meant for 20-somethings. Stacked around us, at the relationship hearth, are piles of dirty laundry.

Sandy is three years sober, has perfect A.A. attendance, clings to a God of his own understanding. Coincidentally, before we met, he went through alcohol treatment with my brother Danny. An interesting side note: Sandy does not believe in coincidences.

I consider God a crutch for the weak, have no need or desire for sobriety for myself… BUT… I see the benefits it offers others… AND… I want Sandy to fix my brother using whatever powers available.

We hope chapter 19  leaves you wanting more as the last one did.

If you did not read our first preview, check it out here: Sneak Peek Chapter 14

Chapter 19

Roll Models 

Sandy ignores my eyeball darts, shooting across the dinner table. It’s my first dinner with his family. Laurel, the mom, stands over the table, rebounding orders like a devoted bat boy, wanting nothing more than to serve and please her team. Flavius, the dad, Mark, the brother, Robin, the sister and Sandy, demand more gravy, rolls fresh from the oven and another glass of milk. The words please and thank you are foreign to the masters of this slave, and no one but me, seems to hear her pleas for approval. New Author Preview

“Who wants more of this crap?” she asks. New Author Preview

Taking the bait, I ooh and aah like a fool, hoping someone, maybe Sandy, will join my chorus. New Author Preview

“Oh… oh my… these are the best rolls ever… Mmm-mmm… and this gravy! Sandy?  Sandy! Don’t you think the rolls are amazing?” New Author Preview

Talking over my solo of compliments, they joke, asking who posed as the roll model, each insisting the other’s buns match the rolls. I feel like I’m held hostage by The Three Stooges, plus one. Laurel ignores my orgasmic sounds of pleasure for potatoes and gravy, playing along with the roll model gag. New Author Preview

Later, she tolerates my help with the dinner dishes, frequently suggesting I join the others lounging in the living room. She pours the last of the bottle of Thunderbird wine into her glass. When the twist cap hissed earlier, all eyes turned her way, then diverted as if long ago the family agreed to look away. I wanted to say yes, when she offered me a glass, but I’ve realized I’d rather have none than a little. This is not the time nor place to let loose. Besides, getting sloshed with boyfriend’s mom is a dangerous game. I’ve walked that tightrope a time or two in the past.

Robin goes home, leaving the original Three Stooges in the living room, talking over a rerun of Bonanza on the television. I’m sitting at the kitchen table with Laurel. Her lovely, tall and elegant frame is mismatched with an, “I’m less than demeanor”. Waving away my rerun of oohs and aahs of the feast, she spills a story with the opening line, “I’m a bad person, you don’t know the things I’ve done.” I counter with, “No you’re not a bad person.”

Appointing me as judge and jury, she shares the details of her past like a vehement lawyer’s burden to prove her lack of worth to me. The story rivals “Gone with

the Wind.” It’s a real page turner, but I’d prefer to view it on the big screen, or better yet, read the book in private. Face to face with Scarlett in catharsis mode is beyond my comfort zone. In less than an hour I learn that Sandy’s oldest brother Jim, who was killed in a car accident, was not the son of Flavius. He was the product of a one-night stand, occurring while Flavius was away at sea, in the Navy. All through the story she emphasizes what a good man Flavius is to have married her anyway.

I perform acrobatic feats in body language and facial expressions, hoping Sandy will come save me. Alas, the men are busy poking fun at each other, comparing stomach bloats, oblivious to the melodrama unraveling in the kitchen.

“I told you… I’ve done terrible things.”

“No, no… it’s okay. Don’t say that.”.

My impersonation of Charles Manson in the morning, before coffee, finally grabs Sandy’s attention. He gathers our coats, as I sing a solo chorus of thank you, dinner was amazing, truly wonderful, thanks again.

“If you have any notion that I might be willing to live a life of hell like your mother, get over it,” I say before the car door shuts.

“What the… what’s wrong with you?”

“You treat your mother like dirt!”

He shakes his head, like I’m out of my mind. I make a mental note: Do not marry this jerk.

The answering machine beeps as we walk through the door. It’s Danny, saying he’ll be swinging by tomorrow morning. I’m disappointed Haley and Jay are at their dads. They adore  Uncle Danny. His teasing leaves them begging him to stop, while asking for more. I suspect he wants to talk alone. Last week he was in jail again. He needs help. I have to do something.

I don’t know the, “how tos,” of brothers and sisters, I just know our rule book. There have been times when I wanted the little sucker gone for good. Like when he hid under my bed with a stuffed glove attached to a broom handle, or when he’d pop out from behind the shower curtain just when I turn on the light, or the time he knocked on my bedroom window at 6 A.M., with his pimply, yellow-toothed friends, pointing and giggling at my pink foam rollers. Still, he was, is and will always be, MY pain in the butt, and, when I’m not planning his demise, I love the idiot.

When I was thirteen, and Danny, nine, a silent, bond took place. Mom and Dad wanted to go to Esmerelda’s, a bar in the skid row section of Tacoma. They’d spent the day, doing what they called, “things for us,” and wanted some “adult time.” In the spirit of parental multi-tasking they handed us a handful of change, along with a couple of Archie and Casper comic books. Upon cautioning we should not to talk to strangers, they left us in the pool hall next door. Mom checked in every 30 minutes. It was fun. That is, until around 1 AM, when the semi-normal looking people left us alone with the remaining sour smelling men, whose chins dripped of snuff, after swigs from paper bags. Tired, we huddled on the floor, reading our comics. We kept our backs to the wall so no one could sneak up from behind, and our eyes downward. I felt a creepy stare coming from a guy with a spider tattoo on his hand. Danny felt it too, wiggling and pressing close to me. As the guy’s pointed toe boots shuffled toward us, my goofy little brother puffs up, placing an arm around my shoulder.

“She’s with me,” he said in a squeaky voice.

I looked up, expecting the guy to laugh. Surely even a dedicated ax murderer would think he’s too cute for slaughter. When my eyes met the man’s, it felt like when you have one of those naked in public nightmares. What did he see in place of the pair of redheaded, freckled faced, scared, dopey, ivory skinned kids? Danny’s skinny arm quivered atop my shoulder, his legs bent, preparing to stand and… what? Fight? That’s when I swore a silent oath to protect him all my days, and to quit calling him names. As we stood up together, a voice boomed from the adjoining door to Esmeraldas… it was Dad.

“Let’s go!”

With that, the pervert scattered like a cockroach in the light. My folks apologized for being late, explaining their helpless situation.

“Everyone kept buying us drinks. They wouldn’t let us leave.”

I’ve kept the vow, best I can. Except for the name calling. When he was sixteen, smoking weed and failing school, he moved from Auburn to live with my husband Jerry and me in Yakima. Together we shopped for the best high school, with me, barely 21, asking the school authorities questions like a mother of six. It’s always been Danny and me. Right now, he needs some help. He was willing to stand up at and fight for me, and I’m willing to do the same for him.

When he shows in the morning, he’s noticeably hung over. He refuses a Bear Claw, grabbing for a coffee cup like an old man reaching for his cane. I listen to the ongoing saga of court dates, car accidents, stalking collection agencies and girlfriends who exaggerate about his temper. I want to mention A.A., but he might as well be wearing a sign reading – I will bite the head off anyone who mentions my drinking.

“I need to ask you something, you can’t tell anyone,” he says.

He tears up. We light smokes. Sobs take over as he chokes, swallowing words.

“I’m having problems… sex… you know…”

‘Like what?” I ask, buying time.

“I can’t… I don’t… you know… C’mon you know!”

He’s crying. I’d do anything to help. Desperate, I resort to my one true talent, telling lies. Say what you want, lying is a skill, when used responsibly. It’s saved me many times, from a variety of threats, like jail, rape and getting fired.

“Sandy had the same problems. That is, before, he quit drinking. He told me all about it. He couldn’t function. Now he has no problem at all.”

“Really?” Danny asked, swiping the back of his hand on his cheek.

“Yes, really,” I LIED. “You know he goes to A.A. meetings every day. You should talk with him.”

“A. A. is bunk. I’m doing this other deal. It’s not just the alcohol. The guy I’m seeing takes a holistic approach. No carcinogens, sugar or white flour.  I’ve already paid $1200.”


 

When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen. When God speaks…

God Speaks to Those who seek His wisdomWho remembers the 1970’s E.F. Hutton commercials? My favorite shows two men on a plane conversing across the aisle while disinterested bystanders sleep, read, gaze out the windows. That is, until the name E.F. Hutton drops, causing a collective hush, among the eager eavesdroppers. The ad ends with the famous, unforgettable tag line: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

What about when God speaks? Do we lean in, hand cupped over ear, holding our breath in anticipation of His words? Speaking personally, I can say He knows how to get my attention. I’m not talking about an audible voice booming down from heaven saying stuff like “Deb, stop that!… you know better.” No, that’s more likely my own busy-body mind intruding on my peace: named “guilt.” I’m referring to a distinct voice in my head, a message arriving in an envelope of peace, reassurance, and clarity. A voice heard through the ears of my heart… or the lips of a friend… quite possibly a stranger. A voice that’s visible, seen not heard, through the staggering power of the ocean, or the knee buckling tenderness of a child’s love. Scripture, previously known, now alive, renewed. Words on a page, a billboard, a T-shirt… highlighted, back-lit, subliminally underlined.

No matter what the medium, when God speaks, there’s no confusion of authorship. You know, that you know, that you know. You just do. Even so, it’s hard to grasp that God dropped everything to send me a seemingly trivial, but deeply intimate message. However, once we stop denying His signature on the message, the essence of His ever powerful love for us is boldly evident. Yes, our God is mighty, capable of whispering sweet nothings in our ears, all while moving mountains, healing the sick and charging command over legions of heavenly angels. Yes, He is an exquisite multi-tasker.

One clear example, occurred two years ago when my husband, Sandy attended a men’s retreat in Canby, Oregon. He kissed me goodbye, grumbling that he’d rather stay home. He left discouraged, disgruntled, dis-everything (not a word, I know). In his own words, the troublesome “dis” was, “I’m tired of asking God for direction and hearing nothing.”

For months, we, meaning me and our entire church body, had been praying for him to receive words and encouragement. Some of us might admit to growing weary of the redundant prayer. Yet, we all knew Sandy’s deep desire to hear from God, promised an answer.

“I try, but I don’t hear anything. God doesn’t speak to me,” he’d say in response to our “keep seeking nudges.”

Seated among the 300 or so men who’d travelled from Vineyard churches across the northwest, he regretted saying yes to the invitation. If he’d stayed home, he could be working on the never ending projects on his ever growing list of “to-dos.” Staying busy seems to dull the pain.

While tapping his foot, waiting out the remaining 10 minutes before “getting on with it,” two men approached.

“We felt like you might need prayer. What’s going on with you?”

Sandy shared his frustrations, a familiar script, flowing off his tongue like an old song, the melody being “I don’t think God hears me.”

The men listened, praying a facsimile of the prayers sent over the past months of discontent. The prayer ended, just as the worship service started. Through worship, Sandy continued praying, seeking, yet convinced it was a one-way communication.

“Please, Father… I want to know you.”

When the key note speaker began, Sandy chuckled sarcastically at the topic – “Receiving Words from God.” When the audience was asked to participate, he prepared to go through the motions, expecting that others would receive wondrous, life changing, intimate messages from God, as he wallowed, on an island of quiet nothingness.

“There are thousands of words floating around this room right now. Please turn to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself. Then let’s spend some quiet time asking God for a word for each other.”

“My name’s Sandy… nice to meet you.”

Shaking hands, the stranger stated his name, which Sandy instantly forgot.

During the five minutes of quiet, disguised as three days of noisy head clatter, Sandy tried, in vain, to hear from God. When the time was up, he shared what he calls, generic fortune cookie stuff, derived from his own head.

“Something good is going to happen… there’s going to be a change…”

When it was the other man’s turn, he looked blank, then said.

“Philip. Right? Your name is Philip. He knows your name. That’s what I felt God wanted you to know.”

There it was… in perfect timing. Weak kneed, laughing… crying… laughing… no doubt God speaks… no doubt God hears… no doubt God knows him by name. You see, there was no way the stranger could have known that Sandy’s real name is Philip. A name spared only for legal documents. A name God shared through a stranger, knowing Sandy would hear it, An undeniable message of the His love.

That night, a phone call interrupted my sleep.

“He knows me by name!”

“What? Who?”

“God knows my name is Philip! He knows me…”

He shared the story with me, pausing for frequent voice cracking breaks, his demeanor and mannerisms out of character… chatty, fired up, super charged. To this day, he shares this story with anyone who’ll listen, never able to say “He knows me by name,” without tears. He left home with an acute case of “diseverything,” returning a changed man.

I suspect God is speaking all the time, and we are the lackeys with plugged ears. He’s a gentleman, who won’t yell over the top of the other noise in our life, and doesn’t need to. He knows exactly what it will take to get our attention, being our Creator and all.

Before my mom died, in 2002, I sat with her every day in the hospital, reading the Bible aloud, praying her seemingly sleeping mind could hear God’s word. I begged God to give me a sign that she would be in heaven… at peace and free of pain. My expectations were that she would awaken and say something reassuring, like “Jesus told me to tell you, it’s all good, you can pray about other stuff now.” That didn’t happen. Instead, moments before mom died, my sister and I walked into her room, finding her wide awake, smiling, gazing straight ahead. Whatever she was looking at, was beyond our understanding. One thing was clear, Whomever she looked upon blinded her to all else, satisfied her every need and filled her with joy. Then, she left the room, or at least in spirit. The nurses told us we could stay with her as long as we wanted. But why? She left, leaving only the parcel she rented space in, behind.

That day, God spoke, giving me everything I needed to never doubt. Like Thomas, who needed to stick his finger in the hole in Jesus’ side, I needed to see Jesus through my mother’s eyes. Nothing else would have sufficed. He knows us well. Yes, indeed.

Prayer – The First and Last Tool You’ll Ever Need

 A red tool box with the letters TOOLS.

A heart of solid stone… that’s what it would take to survive if I did not have PRAYER in my toolbox. For all the times past, present and future when I could not, would not or did not DO anything. When I stepped over the vomit sopped drunk asleep in the alley… kept quiet when gossip sprayed across a room like a sneeze… or daily, doing my thing, ignoring what I read or heard on the news.

One seemingly standard-issue day, a woman stood across the counter at my Antiques store holding a new, cheaply made, necklace spinning a story of ancient history and real gold. I wasn’t listening much to what she was saying, I’d heard the yarn many times. Instead, I looked into her dead eyes desperately seeking a sign of life. There was a hint of youth despite her cadaverous persona.

 When I explained the necklace was neither gold nor old, a new lie snaked out between decayed teeth, something about needing $10 to catch a bus because she was stranded. Again, I knew the story. I wasn’t really listening. My mind spun like a Rolodex searching for solutions. I want to help but know I do not hold that kind of power. Part of me wants her to disappear so I can return to the bliss of denying the world around me. Bad ideas exhausted, I remember where my help comes fromPlease God… help me know what to do.

“I don’t want the necklace. You need help. I can see that. I’ll give you the money. You’ll run to the nearest drug dealer. We both know that. First, would you let me pray with you?”

She agreed.

Ordinarily I pray eyes shut intently listening, this time I kept them open, revealing a momentary glimpse of light, a peek at youth, a trace of a softening heart. The dark hollows holding the dead eyes, damp from tears. My senses heightened, I heard a tear hit the glass on the counter, one of mine. We shared a smile in another world. She looked away, but not before I saw childlike innocence. With amen, the glow on her face drained, leaving a desperate look of “where’s the cash?”

I ignored her demanding stature, going on about my church, suggesting ways she could get help until finally succumbing to her outstretched hand. With the ten dollar bill in hand, she raced for the door, stopped at the stoop, turned my way…

“I’ll be okay. Really. I’ll look for you at your church, Vineyard… right?”

That was several years ago. I think of her often, and pray. I wonder, did God answer our prayer? Is she living a full and vital life today, free from the bondage of drugs? Yet, it’s hard to picture her anything but dead. Maybe it was ME God healed that day, a progressive miracle, kneading my heart.

Helpless? Yes. Without hope? Never. One tool, prayer, keeps me sane. Without it, I’m an idiot. A busy, frantic, destructive action figure believing the delusion that I can fix things like a self-help, handyman, super hero.

I don’t know about you, but some days I am not able to ignore the dead bodies piling up just beyond the sanctity of my white picket fence. My eyes open to see the child hiding behind the gang tattoos, the loneliness around the widow in the supermarket, the daily news of tragedies, near and far, now and soon to come. I try not to dwell there and sometimes prefer a blindfold to a prayer, admittedly because when I feel helpless I forget that prayer is a verb.

Still… how do you stand by and watch a proverbial scene of man repeatedly beating himself with a stick? You ask them to quit? Yes, but they won’t stop. What then? We watched a friend toss 14 years of sobriety as simply as crumpling a sheet of paper, hurled into the waste basket. He lived in a small house directly in front of our kitchen window. A close friend to my husband, a new acquaintance of mine. We stood at our kitchen window, washing dishes, witness to the deterioration of a hearty, vital, vivacious man, morphing into a soulless human shell. All the schemes and well wishes of kings could not have brought him back. We, like many others, prayed… and prayed some more. He clearly wanted nothing more than to get life over with as fast as possible. I remember many prayers that he would experience God’s grace.

After two years of warring with himself, stopping periodically to gain enough strength to return to the battle of self-destruction, he miraculously “got it.” No earthly explanation. Today he lives, that’s a big deal in itself. Cooler yet, he’s living out the miracle as a generous, boisterous, fun-loving character searching for ways to show Grace to others; volunteering time and energy to anyone in need.

I’m grateful for the prayer tool in my otherwise empty toolbox. As an insomniac, I’ve learned to embrace this time as an opportunity to listen through the ears of my heart as God whispers the names of those I should pray for. It’s a special time cuddling with Father God. More often than not, sleep returns before I can finish the prayer list; waking with the remaining names on my heart ready for a fresh pre-dawn prayer session.

Honestly, I prefer the secret intercessory times than face to face prayers. Though that’s not completely true. Better to say I shy away from it, humbled when the Holy Spirit conducts, orchestrates and completes, leaving me aware of my lack of necessity in the scheme. I may be standing there, but the “me” of the moment, is obliterated from the equation.

I try to remember those times when I am tempted to ignore the still small voice prompting me to pray with someone. Shamefully, I remember asking a woman I respected at a retreat “how are you doing?” Expecting to hear “great” or “fine” she responds with “not so good.” I heard my heart say “May I pray with you,” but out of my mouth came, “I’ve a funny story that will cheer you up.” It didn’t. I walked away, head down.

The desire to provide a quick fix like slapping on a band-aid, giving lame advice, side swiping with a compliment (great shoes), or telling a joke must be hereditary. My dear, loving, funny, best-ever Na-na could make me madder than a wet cat (one of her terms). With perfect timing… like right after a skinned knee or whacked elbow, she’d say, “just think how much better it will feel when it quits hurting.”

AAAAAAAAAAGGGH! It still gets me to think about it.

 We all have times in our life when we need more than a funny story or flippant remark. Likewise, there are times when we need to GIVE something more than a slapstick distraction. Many times, most times for me, prayer will be the only tool clanking around in the empty tool box. A funny thing I’ve learned is that when I use this tool to help another, something broken inside myself gets repaired as well.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

YAY! WE WON A LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD

liebster award I was hungry… my mind tricked me into reading “Lobster” in place of “Liebster.” I didn’t care if we’d been nominated for a fishy award, I was happy to reel it in. The point is, someone (not a relative or coerced friend) likes the blog. A closer look into the award revealed that the German word Liebster means “dearest or beloved.” Cool, huh? Much better than a crustacean award. LiebsterPost

            Blogging takes time, patience, a steady flow of affirmations from readers, and for me, a willing husband who never tires of saying, “no, it doesn’t suck.” So, yes, yes, yes, I accept the nomination and without further adieu extend a huge thank you to Erin @ http://onehundredtwentythreedays.com/ for the recognition. Check out her blog, I found it to be fresh, intriguing and I gleefully accept her challenge to live a better life.

The idea behind the Liebster Award is to discover and give a nod to new bloggers. Accepting, means you win (yay! I won). There’s no trophy, paid vacation or a truck load of cash (dang), but you do get the honor of displaying the cool Liebster Award logo while taking a stroll down the cyber red carpet.

In lieu of an acceptance speech, winners are asked to follow a few instructions.

Answer the following 11 questions provided by the nominator.

Share 11 random facts about themselves.

Post the Liebster Award rules

Nominate 11 others for the award.

 

Q&A From My Nominator (nominees, please answer these same 11 questions)

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 29, and find line 4. What is the book and what does it say?

“Notre Dame,” by Victor Hugo… “Oh yes; I remember it!” exclaimed Gisquette: “God on the cross, and the two thieves on each side of Him.”

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  

I’m weird about this. It’s much more about who I live near than where. I would choose a place with few if any snakes, close to my family and friends.

3. If you could change one thing about the world, what would you do?

I would replace all hate with love.

4. Is the glass half empty or half full?

A trick question for a sober person… what’s the liquid?

5. When is the last time you ate a homegrown tomato?

Two years ago from my own little garden. Confession: It did not taste like the ones I remember as a child; dripping down my arm with the first bite.

6. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be Mark Twain… of course!

7. What is your favorite time of the day?

First light… sitting with hubby in the quiet as we slowly enter the day.

8. What inspires you?

Faith… without which I am done for.

9. What is your favorite childhood memory?

Sitting with my mother, flipping through the Sears Roebuck Catalog, selecting everything we would buy if money was no concern.

10. What three things in nature do you find most beautiful?

Tigers, flowers, and the way light plays on the trees.

 11. Who are your Nominees?

Here are 11 random facts about myself.

  1. At the time of this writing, I was the ONLY person in Washington State who wasn’t watching the Seahawks at the Super Bowl.
  2. Sometimes I just can’t help exaggerating (see #1 above).
  3. I wonder about cows. According to my hubby, too much. Stuff like… why are they all standing up? Why is that cow being snubbed by the others? Did she do something anti-social? Is there a hierarchy among cows in the field? Is the cow on the mound pretending to be king of the hill? You know, that stuff… I assume everyone ponders.
  4. I write to music, sometimes evoking a moment of dance followed by a get back to work slap upside the head.
  5. I wear my husband’s T-shirt to bed, the one he’s been wearing for the day. No other will do. It gives me the same comfort my thumb sucking blanket gave me when I was a toddler (this should count as two random facts).
  6. If my toenails are not painted, I feel like they are naked.
  7. I HATE wearing socks.
  8. I play a game by Battlenet called Hearthstone more than I should.
  9. I’ve worked a variety of jobs in my life including driving a bulldozer and a forklift. Side note: Crashing a forklift through a plate glass window gets a lot of attention.
  10. I can be won over by any dog. A couple of wags, a sloppy wet kiss… game over.
  11. I think Godly men like my husband are super sexy. Watching him pray has an even stronger effect on me than number 10.

Looking forward to all my nominee’s answers.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

 

Auld Lang Syne – “I’ll Be Seeing You… “ Hold Your Loved Ones Close This Year

2015

I don’t yearn for the past, nor desire to have it back. Not a bit. You see, God’s already done a great work in me and continues on with needed changes, of which I anticipate the polished results. I do pay an occasional visit to the days of yore, to honor and cherish the people I’ve known and loved. Listening to the old song “I’ll Be Seeing You… In all the old familiar places,” always reminds me of the impressions people leave behind, some subtle, some bold.

I believe we are the sum of the characters in our life. They mold our capabilities, our service, our fears. So on the eve of yet another New Year, I’ll raise a glass of virgin cheer in honor and remembrance of those I love and look forward to seeing one day again.

As a small child I raised a glass of juice, happy to be awake at midnight, confused why the others were crying.

As a teen, I raised a glass of the alluring forbidden champagne, thinking only of whom I’d like to kiss me and who had better not try.

As a young wife and mother, I raised a glass of bubbly, tears streaming in love for the crazy but loving family around me.

As a mature woman I raised several glasses in regret, remorse and hope for a better year.

As a sober woman, I was back to juice, knowing well, the reason for the tears.

This coming year I hope to hold my loved ones close, well aware how fragile life can be. A quick look back… a glance forward… a long savoring linger in today.

To Nana: (Elsie)

Wise beyond her exit age of 95. She knew the power behind small gestures given consistently. Like licorice ropes, deck of cards and stickers received in the mail. I’m eternally grateful for her secret prayers for my salvation. Guess what Nana… it worked! I miss your exuberant welcomes, the phrase “Bless your heart,” the smell of juicy fruit gum laced with blue carnation toilet water. Mostly, I miss knowing you really liked hanging out with me.

To Mom: (Dema)

Remembered first always for physical beauty… auburn hair, long, graceful limbs, soft brown eyes… old movie star glamor. Her breathtaking outer loveliness, birthed from deep within by a heart of service for others… her children, husband, neighbors, friends and strangers. She modeled a grand spirit of forgiveness. Some days I ache for her smile.

To My Brother: (Danny)

Gone too soon at age 52. Known for extreme character. The joker, prankster, life of the party. To those in close proximity, known also for a big heart. A heart surrounded by a pack of underdogs, accepting his perpetual helping hand. I miss telling you to leave me alone a zillion times, your zeal for life, and that stupid voice with the bad Asian accent. I’m forever grateful for the intense time we had before you parted sharing scriptures and God stuff, side by side, like we used to play Canasta and Monopoly. I expect when we meet again, you’ll jump out from behind the pearly gates, startling me with that familiar “bahahaha!”

To Dad: (Mac)

Big voice, personality and nose… all perfect and belonging together. Would travel cross country to tell a joke if he thought you might laugh. Loved my mother, our country, fried chicken, labor unions. I miss the man you revealed in your last days, the softer, deeper man of thought. I’m grateful for the strong work ethic you instilled and for your drive to support your family, no matter what the cost.

Celebrate the characters in your life, today. Tomorrow they might not show up for the party.

The Redheaded Step Child – Sobriety, The Unpopular Choice

The Temperance Movement.  The country's first serious anti-alcohol movement grew out of a fervor for reform that swept the nation in the 1830s and 1840s. Many abolitionists fighting to rid the country of slavery came to see drink as an equally great evil to be eradicated – if America were ever to be fully cleansed of sin. #sobriety #christian

Twenty-two years ago if given a choice between sobriety or death, I would have gotten back to you with my answer. Today I fit right in with the Women’s Temperance Movement … you know those babes from the prohibition days, banging tambourines, threatening, “lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours.”

Please hear me out before snagging the tambourine from my enthusiastic hand.

Mornings I sit at my keyboard writing the story of a woman whose picture belongs in the A.A. dictionary under the definition of insanity… repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results. I know how the drunken escapades end because I am said woman in the story. Some days I wonder if I’ll ever get to the chapter with my “last drunk. ” You can’t look at your past under a microscope without pointing your finger, screaming, “Hey stupid, look out, there’s a bus coming!”

By removing one ingredient, alcohol, the course of my life changed from a raft heading over the falls to one that even on my worst of days, still floats. I’m not pushing mandatory sobriety for all. I’m aware of the OTHERS who live happy, productive lives, sipping cocktails with an occasional occurrence of over indulging. If you’re one of those freaks, stop reading, now. But if you have ever measured the cause and effect syndrome of inebriation, yours or others, asking how a good time turned sour, keep reading.

Take any event… say family camping. I have fond memories, especially the days of Eight Mile Creek in eastern Washington. The first day we’d set up camp, digging steps in the dirt leading to the creek, preparing wash stations with soap savers hanging in trees, and choosing river rocks that served as weights for checkered plastic tablecloths. Once camp was secure and comfy, it was a day of popsicles and butterflies… the worst threat, a bite on the rump by a giant horse fly while wading the creek. Evenings we’d gather round the campfire with guitars and whiskey, singing, “Red River Valley, You are my Sunshine and my favorite, Sioux City Sue. “ We were hokey like Roy Rogers, as hillbilly as the songs we sang. A sweet and safe place. But then… someone (like Uncle Roy) stumbled drunk into the fire and we’d have to roll him in the dirt to put him out.

Or how about a simple Sunday visit? You’re greeted by loved ones so pleased to see you. Fed, loved on and joked with. But then… someone (let’s say June) gets soused, sparking old jealousy. The visit ends when June backs into a tree with husband hanging out of the hood attempting to rip out the distributor cap.

There’s always the picture perfect Thanksgiving with Eau de turkey teasing from the oven since dawn, gravy taste tested by the toughest critics, pies, spuds, rolls… the works. After the feast, stuffed bodies sprawl sofas, spill out on the floor, snoring, waking only to fumble that top pants button loose. Whispering and laughter carries on in card games with poker chips and raisenettes. But then… someone (usually all of us) screams. Screaming is an antidote raising the amino acid tryptophan victims from death. Uncle Elden is chasing Aunt Nell with a butcher knife, again. He’s been on the wagon for six months, but toppled off earlier with good intentions of only having one short toddy. And who left the knife out? Now we have to wrestle him to the floor and take it away.

There are recent memory spoilers, but I can’t tell you much because the details are gone along with some friendships and respect. The sad truth? You must get sober before you can see the benefits. Typically drinkers hang with other drinkers. That way you have less chance being the one who stumbles into the campfire, a safety in numbers thing. Usually the only sober people who stick around long, are children who don’t have a choice. Many of us have not clocked much time in a sober environment… sleep and work do not count. We’re ignorant of what it might look like, leading our imaginations to pictures of dim rooms with lethargic people listening to chamber music. Here’s a news flash rarely broadcasted… sober people laugh, carry on… the difference, is it’s a conscious choice.

I’m grateful to have found this alternative lifestyle. My hope and prayer for others is that when all good intentions to drink responsibly fail, they realize there’s another option and it’s not the sentence to a hell of boredom that you might believe. Yes, some friends may change and yes, the dynamics of some relationships will certainly change (my bet is for the better). One of the many cool benefits of sobriety is that you have a lesser chance the proverbial lightening will strike you down.

I have five grandsons who’ve never seen me puke, slobber or fall down drunk. I may embarrass them with a big public kiss on the cheek, but I do it in all soberness and I not only remember it but even share the picture on Facebook. So yes, I’m banging my tambourine in celebration of a sober life and in hopes that if drinking is causing unwanted havoc in your life that you might consider a rarely talked about option – abstaining.

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Preview Chapter: LOVE AND AN INTERVENTION: A Dual Memoir About Second Chances

RatedWforWeird

The following is an excerpt from our book, “LOVE AND AN INTERVENTION: A Dual Memoir About Second Chances.” The story is about an unremarkable couple pursued by God at every turn. It’s written in dual perspective – he said/she said. Here’s a few things you need to know to set the stage: New Author  Chapter Preview

It takes place several months after a shaky blind date, in that nearly comfortable stage.   They’re forty-somethings who’ve just graduated college, about to start lives meant for twenty somethings. They stand on the relationship hearth, laden with old baggage.

She is not interested in God… any God. To her, sobriety has no benefits. It’s rather like slaughtering a Led Zeppelin tune to make it playable in elevators. She’s been hurt, and if some guy thinks it’s going to happen again… well, he better be ready because this time guns are loaded. The question is this: Is she attracted to the soft-hearted, God-loving recovering alcoholic bent on becoming a better man, or the selfish, egotistical, biker bad-boy he used to be? New Author  Chapter Preview

He is three years sober and not going back to the party. He loves God… a God of his own design, picking what he likes and dislikes like a child forking through a salad. He sees the red flags she slaps him upside the head with, but hey, she’s not a convict, an improvement over past relationships. The question is this: Is he attracted to the kind, loving, woman underneath her facade, or the mouthy, arrogant bad-girl he sees as a challenge? New Author  Chapter Preview

Oh… did I mention my husband and I are the couple, and this is our true story of God’s perpetual grace?

The sample chapter below is written in Sandy’s (my husband) point of view. It’s one of the more light-hearted chapters, when he meets my colorful parents.  It begins amid the current family drama, the murder of my mother’s cousin, Virginia.

Read the warning and take the risk if you dare. We hope the taste of our story leaves you wanting more.

RatedWforWeird

Chapter 14

Bet he’s never seen anything like it.

            After tedious hours of prep and quizzing by professor Deb, I’m ready to meet the parents. The door opens, I’m drawn into the land of the McFarland’s, a place I believed existed mostly in Deb’s exaggerated imagination. Dema greets us at the door with a hearty, genuine hug. I’m confused because she’s dressed like we’re going to a black tie event and my only instructions were to wear a real shirt with no funny saying on it. She’s all sparkly, with sequins and jewels, the infamous auburn hair and makeup done to perfection. I feel better seeing Mac stretched out on his recliner, dressed like a 1950’s cowpoke.

The 12 by 12 foot living room is furnished for a room three times its size, so you have to cross the room walking sideways. Greetings barely obliged, Dema presses start on a VHS tape she’s had paused and ready for us since we left Yakima. The 60-inch projection television can only be seen from the two recliners placed directly in front, where Mac and Dema sit, both armed with a stack of remotes. Deb and I sit on the orange velvet love seat, our knees sideways so we don’t knock over the glass table in front.

For the next hour we watch news clips recorded from all three major television networks. Deb warned me this might happen, to which my reply was, “No, they wouldn’t do that.” After this, I will not question Deb’s facts. The newscasts escalate from a missing person to murder, while Mac and Dema insert background information, sometimes pausing to make sure we are keeping up.

            Hindered by the sideways view and the interruptions, this is my best translation of the drama: Virginia is Dema’s cousin. No one agrees whether she was on husband six, seven or eight. She has a son named Lynn, a sailor who visited once and made homemade pizza from a box. Virginia had lots of money because of her husbands, that she spent on diamonds and high heels. Dema says Virginia was spoiled as a child. She should know since they took baths together. Virginia was missing four days, with her car mysteriously parked in the driveway. Husband number six, seven or eight, claimed she vanished. Lynn, the pizza making son, flew to Spokane, hoping to help find his mother. Suspicions grew. The police brought search dogs, finding poor Virginia buried in the garden along with the carrots and potatoes. The last news clip shows the husband in handcuffs being carted off in a police car.  An autopsy revealed she had been shot. Everyone is relieved that Aunt Myrt, Virginia’s mom, is not around to see this.

            I’m exhausted and we’ve just begun. Again, Deb was right, insisting my intro to the McFarland’s be brief, without Haley and Jay, who might blab something we don’t want known.

 “I don’t want them to know we’re living together,” said Deb. “If we stay overnight we have two choices – separate rooms, pretending what we all know not to be true – or same room knowing the rest of the family is pow-wowing outside the door, chanting tsk – tsk – tsk.”

Considering our options, a short day trip seemed best. When murder and mayhem conversation dies off we move to the next dramatic scene.

            “Have you shown Sandy the bar?” Mac asks, knowing we’ve not left the front room.  “Bet he’s never seen anything like it.”

            “You haven’t… come on,” Deb says, motioning for me to follow. She side-winds through her childhood habitat, like a snake crossing the desert, while I, new to the obstacle course, bump knees and elbows, unskilled at walking sideways. Mac and Dema follow. She carries a 16-ounce tumbler of scotch and water, room to room, like a portable oxygen tank. The story from Deb is that her mom confesses to the doctor a two drink habit, omitting the constant refreshing and topping off.

            I’ve spent time in bars, all types… redneck, biker, highbrow… dives to swanky black tie joints… home bars, makeshift bars, tailgate specials. Yet none prepared me for the, “McFarland’s Bar.”

Deb’s eyes are begging me for words, but I don’t know what to say.  When words fail me, she involuntarily covers for me, chattering nervously, cooing and fidgeting like a cross between a dove and a quail.

“We had the bar built. It’s regulation. So are the dozen stools,” Mac says.

There’s a mirrored back bar with shelves stocked and ready to fill any drink order. And… Elvis is in the room… rows of gold and silver Elvis bottles peering down from shelves installed around the ceiling. There’s a black light, 20 beer signs, a booth style table and a life size poster of Mac dressed as a woman… an extremely ugly toothless woman with a huge nose… just imagine if Popeye had a sister.  What comment am I to make? Deb is trying to cover for my silence.

“Did you see the disco ball? Cool, huh? Did you know the poster is Dad? The ceiling is painted black for the strobe lights. You should really see what it looks like at night…”

Any moment Deb’s going to shove me on her lap, cram her arm up my butt and move my jaw up and down, like Edgar Bergan and his Charlie McCarthy doll. I open my own mouth to comment, but not fast enough to delay what’s coming next.

Deb’s classy, attractive, soft spoken mom calls me over to the bar. She’s lined up a collection of ceramic figurines. I obey her call, nearing the harmless looking monks and frogs. Then she hands me a monk.

“Turn it around,” she says. “Isn’t that awful?”

As I turn the monk around, he transforms into a ceramic penis. Why is this happening? Dema keeps saying how awful it is… I want to agree. Then she hands me a frog, asking me to turn it over. Do I have to? Deb gives me a “just do it” look.

“Isn’t that awful?” Dema asks again.

I manage a laugh at the anatomically enhanced frog. It’s not that I can’t handle the joke. I feel like I’ve been captured and thrown into someone’s really bad X-rated home movie. Finally, I speak.

            “Deb, where’s the bathroom?”

            The conversation turns from ceramic phallic symbols to towels as I follow Deb’s finger pointing down the hall.

             “I copied your idea to roll towels on the shelves. I really like it.” I hear Dema say to Deb.

            I try to open the door to the bathroom, but something is behind it. I slide through sideways, finding a huge hook on the back of the door holding a stack of robes. The door’s heavy and hard to close on the carpet, but I manage. Standing at the toilet staring at a tall shelf above it, I count 56 hand towels, 49 bath towels and 62 wash cloths, neatly rolled and stacked like cord wood stored for the winter. If a bus load of people needing a bath arrive at the McFarland’s, they’re covered for towels.

            “There are 56 hand towels,” I say to Deb as I squeeze back through the door. She shushes me while peeking in.

“Oh, that looks great Mom. Rolling the towels saves a lot of space.”

            Dinner, however late, is worth it. I’d been told to expect greatness and my hopes were not denied. The table was set with U.S. Navy flatware and individual platters, not plates, crowded with heaping plates of southern fried chicken, mash potatoes, country gravy, biscuits and corn. Seated in unspoken assigned seats, with Mac at the head of the table, I remember one of Deb’s warnings – “Whatever you do, don’t pass the food in the wrong direction, it drives Dad crazy.”

            He passes the procession of steaming bowls ceremoniously clockwise. I try, but curiosity wins, forcing my hand to pass the corn upstream, against the current.  Dema accepts the bowl with a nervous grin… Deb and Mac place their forks on the table, staring me down as if I’m the one who buried Virginia under the carrots. Not wanting to delay indulging in this feast any longer, I retrieve the corn, sending it clockwise. I know what we’ll be discussing on the ride home to Yakima.


 

 

New Blog Name – “In Spite of Us”

ynAWarning … I’ve decided to walk the tightrope without the net. I’ve made some changes to the blog and I want you to know what to expect.
The main change is the name, “IN SPITE OF US,” after the book I am writing – one keyboard click at a time. Other than that, I will continue to post the same random stories but occasionally will share excerpts from the book or reflect on the agony of the writing experience.
“In Spite of Us,” is a book in progress about a completely unremarkable couple, doomed to DEATH by stupid choices. Two people coerced into a blind date, attraction acknowledged along with RED FLAGS waving. Yet, they continue… a stiletto heel and a biker boot… limping along with clashing lifestyles, heading toward a mass grave, overflowing with hopeless relationships. earsB

 

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A double memoir told through the opposing voices of myself and my husband, TESTIFYING TO GOD’S GREAT LOVE. A God who never gave up on us.

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My heart for the blog is to show that although my walk today may outwardly appear to be simple and ordinary, it is in Spirit, truly remarkable with His miracles around every corner. Yes, I still question and unfortunately whine with the best of the Israelites, but hopefully, before the Amen is spoken, Praise His Holy name.

 

prayAMy prayer is that the book and blog give glory to His deeds, lighting a path of hope for others, who may feel undeserving, as I once did and still do, without a huge daily dose of His Grace and Mercy.
I hope you enjoy the changes and keep following as I wrap my toes around that tightrope and reveal my heart. togetherB