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3.31.2017

My name is Anne and...

My one year medallion.
I marked one year sober in March. I posted this photo on Instagram and received many kind words of support. Privately a friend sent a message letting me know that she, too, is sober and is glad that I am not quiet about my milestone on social media, although she is herself. I guess I choose not to be quiet because it's a part of my story. I regret that it's part of my story, but I know it's only a part of it. I figure if someone can benefit from my sharing what I've been through, then it's not for nothing that I have struggled.

It was a struggle for me to realize I needed to stop drinking. I'm not talking about wanting to stop drinking because of convictions. Even now I don't believe there is anything wrong with having a drink. I struggled with coming to terms with the fact that I could no longer limit my drinking; that I needed to eliminate it entirely if I wanted to limit it at all.

I didn’t stop drinking after I got out of treatment. You might think that if I put myself in treatment for my concern over my excessive drinking that I would have stopped drinking. And that would make sense. But addiction doesn't make sense, does it?

I mean, I drank less for sure. I had some new rules to try to limit my drinking: I won’t drink at home. Okay, I can drink at home but I won’t drink alone. I will drink only one drink. Okay, two. But only two.

Most of the time my rules kept me from doing anything regrettable, yet when I found myself at my husband’s work event I was pulled to the open bar like a magnet. I had no control over myself. I watched myself walk up to the bar and order one more gin and tonic knowing even as I ordered it that it is never just one more.

“What’s the win in it?” That question was posed to me by a mentor afterwards as we were talking about the aftermath of my drinking too much that night. It was a valid question. She knew that while fueled by alcohol I had done some awful things. 

“The win is in numbing the feelings,” I said, then added “It isn’t really a win though because ultimately it’s caused me more pain.”

Another time we were talking about an argument I’d had with my husband in which I said some things I shouldn’t have said. “Had you had anything to drink before your argument?” she asked. “It seems like every time you tell me about a bad choice you made, it turns out that you had a drink beforehand.”

It was as if I had been living in a dimly lit room and, with that comment, she flipped on the light switch. I suddenly saw the mess I had made for myself with my drinking.

I could see that I didn’t make good decisions while drinking. Not that I always made good decisions anyways, but I wasn't helping myself out by drinking. I didn’t want to put myself in a position anymore where I would be impaired when troubles inevitably came. That’s when I decided to stop drinking. Or at least temporarily stop drinking until my life was less of a mess.

My mentor knew a lady in the church who attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and wanted to know if I’d like to meet her and attend a meeting with her. Although I knew I had a problem with alcohol, I wasn’t so sure I was an alcoholic. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to never drink ever again. Still, I was willing to meet her and consider going to a meeting to see if it would help my current resolve to not drink.

When we met, I told her my whole story -- from the first time I had a Guinness as a teenager living in Germany, to using alcohol to numb my emotions, to waking up in shame after a blackout, to putting myself into a 30 day in-patient treatment program. I was looking for her to tell me I wasn't an alcoholic. I didn't feel like an alcoholic. (How do alcoholics feel anyways?)  I wasn’t sure if I belonged in a group called Alcoholics Anonymous. She encouraged me to come with her to a meeting and see what it was like.

The best way I can describe an AA meeting is like going into the bar in Star Wars and realizing its church. There was so much love and acceptance of everyone, no matter what they looked like or what they’d done that it felt more like church than a lot of churches. I loved it, actually. "These are my people," I thought to myself. "They speak my language."

The only thing I had a hard time with was when before anyone spoke to the group, they identified themselves with first their name and then their addiction. "It's not just a thing from the movies, they really do this," I thought in alarm as I realized they were going around the circle and I would have to say it. When it was my turn to speak I fumbled over the phrase “and I’m an alcoholic” after stating my name. I could not get the last word out of my mouth. It was more like "and I'm an al-al-lollic."

Our family moved not long after that, and in our new city I sought out a Celebrate Recovery group because I knew that I would need a support system. I'd gone to a few Celebrate Recovery meetings while in treatment and I knew that at Celebrate Recovery I wouldn’t have to identify as an alcoholic if I didn't want to. On a Thursday night I showed up at the meeting only to find that I had mixed the days up. Celebrate Recovery met on Tuesdays, AA met on Thursdays. I was at the AA meeting.

Once again, I found myself at the bar in Star Wars. Once again, they were speaking a language of co-dependency and addiction that I could understand. Once again, I tripped over identifying myself as an alcoholic. Still I kept showing up at AA meetings. I identified myself as an alcoholic in the meetings, but in my heart I thought I only had a problem with alcohol (which is much more acceptable).

It was at a wedding I attended with my daughter last March when I realized I had more than just a problem. At the reception the wait staff came around to fill our champagne flutes for the toast after the meal. When they came to me I didn’t tell them not to fill my glass. Honestly, I was happy for the excuse to partake. I’d been abstaining from alcohol for several weeks now and my adrenaline rushed at the thought of tasting it. I couldn’t help but notice that my glass was empty much faster than the others at the table. When most had left their tables for the dance floor, I contemplated sitting down at a table with some forgotten glasses to make sure the champagne didn’t go to waste. (I didn’t.) Except for that half flute of champagne, I drank Diet Coke all night. But I yearned for the champagne.

At the next AA meeting they talked about the first step: “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” I thought back to the reception and how obsessed I was over the champagne; I certainly felt powerless over it, powerless over the pull of it. I thought about the consequences of what I did while drinking; I hadn't been able to manage my life very well.  

My counselor explained to me how alcohol affects brain chemistry. It alters levels of the neurotransmitters that the brain needs to control thought processes, behavior and emotions, acting as a depressant. It also initially causes dopamine levels to rise making you feel pretty good (which is why people drink to feel better). The more often you drink in excess, the more your brain chemicals are altered. It takes more alcohol to get the dopamine levels to rise. Eventually your neurotransmitters become so completely altered that the pleasure is non-existent because the dopamine does not kick in. By this time, however, you are hooked. As soon as the alcohol gets in your system, you think you need more. One drink is not enough.

Some people may be born with the predisposition towards alcoholism. Others drink too much, too often and develop the disease of alcoholism. I had to admit, finally, that my brain had changed because of the amount that I had drank. I’d been resisting the label of an alcoholic because I wasn’t a fall-down drunk.

Resisting calling myself an alcoholic was a matter of pride for me. It’s humbling to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and identify myself as an alcoholic. And yet, it’s not a bad thing to remember my weakness. It keeps me leaning on my Higher Power for strength.


"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" 
2 Corinthians 12:9

9.30.2015

what's it worth?

These are some questions that pester me: 

  • Do you know who made your clothes? Because someone did.
  • Was that person working in a sweat shop for an unfair wage so that we can buy it for cheap and the retailer can make a huge profit?
  • What's it worth to know that the person who made your clothes is treated fairly, paid honestly?

Krochet Kids is a company I've recently learned about who's asking themselves these same questions. Not only that, but they're answering the question of who made the clothes. 

And we get to determine what it's worth with our purchases.



Behind every product is a person. That's true. And if you buy a product from Krochet Kids, you get to know exactly who made it because each product comes with a signed tag:


On the website is an archive of all the ladies who make the clothes where you can see their photo and find out a little about them. Not only that, but you can actually send them a thank you note.

How cool is that?!

Hey, Krochet Kids, why are you doing this?

We believe it’s important to not only know where your products come from, but also WHO made them. We believe our purchases can be used to empower others and people should have the ability to purchase items that not only meet their needs, but also positively impact the person who makes them. Our goal is to start a conversation about the importance of knowing not only where our products come from, but WHO makes them.

Sounds worthy to me.

Check out their website. They have everything you need to dress women, men & children. Plus some cool accessories.

(Christmas is coming up. I'm just sayin.)

Krochet Kids Logo 88x88

Here are some of my faves:





I like this company and believe in what they're doing so much that I signed up to be an affiliate with them. Links in this post have my affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something using my affiliate link, I will get a small commission. So, thanks.

Krochet Kids intl. SP14

7.08.2015

On Rehab and Rainbows

I recently got back from a sabbatical, a four week reprieve from my crazy life where all I did was take care of myself. No job demands, no dinners to make or chauffeuring to do. No emails, no Facebook, no internet. No responsibilities other than to think about what makes me sink and what makes me fly. It was a soul-searching, month long time-out. Okay, whatever. It was rehab.

I realized that I had some addictive behavior that was self-destructive, and I put myself in a program called Life Renewal at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. It was an incredible experience that I will forever be thankful for.

One of the things I experienced there has been at the forefront of my mind as my Facebook feed continues to explode with posts and profile pics with stances for and against the recent decision by the Supreme Court allowing homosexuals to get married.

While there I experienced God's love. Specifically His love for people whose behavior would not be welcomed in some churches. That's what I've been thinking about while scrolling through my Facebook feed lately.

Like I said, I was in rehab. While there I met some pretty wonderful women who had done some pretty sinful things. Heck, I was there because I did some pretty sinful things.

On the "outside" I would probably never have run into any of these women. I was not familiar with the drug culture and jailhouse slang that many of them spoke fluently. I don't frequent crack houses. I've never had my kids taken away because of my addiction. I've never sold my possessions to get money for my drug. Or sold my body for a chance to get high. I haven't spent a night in jail. I haven't had everything taken away from me.

I have three children by one baby-daddy who I've been married to for 21 years. We were in ministry together from 2000 until 2009, when I had to get a full time job. (He's still in ministry.) I graduated from Wheaton College, Billy Graham's alma mater. I can quote scripture when applicable. I don't swear (much). I am a missionary kid, pastor's kid, ministry wife.

What I am trying to say is that I have a good Christian pedigree. I look and -- for the most part -- act like a good Christian by churchy standards.

I don't usually talk about how churchy I am because I don't think it's really that big a deal. But I have to admit, I sure was aware of my churchyness when I got to rehab! Never really having hung out with meth addicts or felons before, I felt very different at first. But then I felt very the same. What struck me as I got to know them and love them was that I am no different than they are. Not really. Not where it matters.

Churchy people are no different than un-churchy people where it matters: at the foot of the cross.

Sure, our addictions and life choices are different. My drug of choice is legal. It's even acceptable -- served in some churches as a sacrament. My other addiction -- perhaps even a more destructive addiction for me -- is love. It's a real thing, love addiction. Wanting to feel loved, making bad choices because you want so badly to feel loved. But it's not love at all. And it only leaves you wanting more. Fake love is a bad drug. Real love, God's kind of love, satisfies. It never fails (1 Cor. 13).

I think if we are honest, we all have addictions. Some are legal and some aren't. Some are socially acceptable and some aren't. We all at some point turn to something or someone and let them take the place that God should have in our lives. I bet if a lot of Christians are honest with themselves, they could benefit from being in rehab too. Right next to the drug dealers, meth addicts, prostitutes, homosexuals -- and me.

So, there I am in rehab, sitting in the 2nd floor lounge, hanging out with some of the women between sessions. And we're talking about God and how He loves us and wants to help us overcome our addictions. How we need to give up trying to control our lives and understand that we need Him; we can't overcome our addictions on our own. Then I'm listening to them talk to each other about their cravings and what they did to satisfy them, and I'm getting an education of sorts that a churchy person like me would only get in rehab.

I'm also thinking that if this conversation were happening in any number of churches who excuse judgmentalism as "truth-telling" these women might be told that they shouldn't be talking like this, they shouldn't laugh about dancing at stripclubs, they shouldn't wear nose rings, they shouldn't get tattoos of skulls, they shouldn't be craving a hit, they shouldn't say "fuck" or "bullshit." And they would almost certainly be told that they shouldn't be married to a woman.

I think that's sad, really. Because I wonder if Jesus wouldn't rather hang out with the women in that 2nd floor lounge -- even the woman with a wife -- than in some Sunday School classrooms. I wonder this because it reminded me of the story of Jesus eating at a tax-collector's house with a bunch of sinners:
"When the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, 'Why does he eat with such scum?'
When Jesus heard this, he told them, 'Healthy people don't need a doctor -- sick people do. I have not come to call those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.' (Mark 2:16-17)"
Those women and I were at rehab because we knew we were sick and we wanted to be healed. We knew we were sinners. The starting point for healing wasn't our behaviors, it was our relationship with God. And in that context -- where we were all equally needy before God, encouraging each other to go after the fullness of Him, loving on each other -- I felt God's presence.

I experienced God's love in rehab in a way I hadn't experienced it before.

Which is why, when I heard about the SCOTUS decision and saw some posts that weren't terribly loving, I chose to make this my profile picture on Facebook:


It's not a position statement on the SCOTUS decision. But it is a position statement:
Jesus died for everyone, including those who are celebrating the SCOTUS decision. 
This ruling doesn't change God's Truth. It's a ruling on whether gay marriage is constitutional in the United States of America, not whether it's a sin.

I'm not going to even get into whether it's a sin or not. Because, guess what? There are Christians on both sides of the matter with bible verses to support their opposing persuasions.

What I do know is that I am a sinner. And I am responsible for my sins. My own sins. No one else's.

We are all sinners responsible for our own sins. Churchy or unchurchy, "we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)."

I think it's interesting that the rainbow has become a symbol for for the LGBT community. Way back before they embraced the rainbow as their flag, God set a rainbow in the sky as a symbol of His covenant to never again flood the earth and destroy mankind because of our wickedness (Genesis 6-9).

What would happen if Christians -- no matter our position on the legalization of gay marriage, no matter our persuasion on whether homosexuality is a sin or not -- what if, whenever Christians see a rainbow in the sky or on a flag, we remember that God sent His Son to die because of our wickedness? And then thank Him for our forgiveness?

What if whenever we saw the rainbow flag, instead of asking 40 questions, we remembered that Jesus didn't come to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:16-17)?

That's what I thought about when my Facebook feed exploded into rainbow colors after the Supreme Court's ruling.

There are many courts in this land, even a supreme one. But God is the Supreme Judge. There will come a day when we will stand before Him and answer for how we lived.

Regarding that, Jesus liked to tell stories that have a spiritual meaning. In Matthew 25 he told a story about sheep and goats. What he was telling those with ears to hear was this: there are some people who think they will be saved at judgement time, but actually won't be. Why? Because of how they lived -- and how they treated, or loved, those around them. What they did revealed what they believed.

To be sure, there will be political and social ramifications of the SCOTUS decision. But it's not going to impact what I believe or how I live or how I love people around me.

Jesus was once asked which command in God's law is the most important. He answered:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’ All of the law and the writings of the prophets take their meaning from these two commands.”(Matthew 22:35-40)
Be loving, Church.

1.23.2015

just for fun: the 5 most visited blog posts on anne b. good

Most of my posts lately have just been photos and the stories behind them. 
It's not that I don't have anything to say, because I do. 
It's just that I need to figure out how to say it. 
Or even maybe if I should say it.

It's somewhat safe to post pictures from Instagram and write the stories behind them. 
So that's what I've been posting lately. 

Did you notice? 

I wouldn't even be posting those except that my daughter told me that she likes it when I blog and she didn't want me to stop. 
Good thing I'm not blogging for traffic, 
because those family album type posts don't bring people to my blog.

Still, I get consistent traffic. 
At first it excited me, 
but then I realized that it was mostly spiders and spammers
and strangers landing here from google searches looking for expert advice.

Still.
It's interesting to see which posts get the most visits.

I thought it might be fun to share my most visited blog posts.



1. 

Beginning sometime around October traffic to my blog spikes because of this post:


2. 

The rest of the year this is the most frequented post. 
I still put honey and oil on my face, but I've been experimenting lately with different kinds of oils.


3. 

It's so ironic that my third most frequented post is about laundry soap. 
Because I don't like doing laundry. 
But I do like making laundry soap.


4. 

Amazingly one of my week in review posts made it into the top five, 
though I think it has to do more with "Mall of America" and "American Girl Doll" searches 
than anything else. 
Reading back on the post, though, 
I can see why my daughter likes me blogging these 
family-are-the-only-people-who-are-interested-type posts. 
They preserve memories. 
I guess I'll keep posting them. 


5. 

Have you noticed that banners are everywhere? 
I am so on trend right now:


::


1.02.2015

snapshots & thoughts: #epicNYEsleepover

For New Year's Eve I booked 2 rooms at a local hotel for $29 a piece.
For $60 and a couple pizzas we had an #epicNYEsleepover.

 I brought tag board and markers for the girls to make a 2015 sign.
I was hoping it would keep them occupied for a while.
It did.
The party girls.

Ahh, relaxing in the hotel's hot tub.

As much as I can with five girls screaming "MARCO!" "POLO!" in the pool next to me.

Kaitlin and her friends were my roomies for the night.
I enjoyed hanging with them.
But not hanging with them TOO much, because I'm cool and all but I'm still mom.

  The big girls made a poster too.
I read it and I said "We run 2015? Where are you running?"
And Kaitlin was like "Mom."

This is pretty much how the big girls spent their evening.

The next morning the girls had one last pool session before their parents picked them up.
And while they swam, I drank lots of coffee.

What a fun way to end 2014 and ring in 2015.

***
Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.

12.31.2014

snapshots & thoughts: christmas pjs

Traditionally the only present the kids get to open on Christmas Eve
is their present from the Elves.

When they were old enough to be impatient about waiting for Christmas morning,
we told them they could open one on Christmas Eve.

"But how will Santa get us a present on Christmas Eve if he doesn't deliver them until Christmas morning?" my very astute preschooler asked.
"Why doesn't he just bring them all on Christmas Eve if he's going to bring one?"

The answer of course is The Elves.

Really I just wanted to make sure they had pajamas that fit them
for any photos taken on Christmas morning.

The kids in their Christmas pajamas.

Don't they look sweet?

 
Except this is what really happens when I try to get a sweet photo of them.

[bonus feature:]

It reminded me of another Christmas pj photo where Sarah got smothered and wasn't too happy about it:
2006 in Kansas City, Missouri

This was also the year that they figured out that the Elves gave them pajamas EVERY year.
On second thought, maybe that's why Sarah isn't looking too happy.

[end bonus feature]

Kaitlin and Aunt Bethany are sock-monkey-pajama twins. 
Let's take a picture. 

 
 But first... "let me take a selfie."

 
Oh, Opa!

Aunt Betty and the kids in their Christmas pjs.

***

And finally, while not having anything to do with Christmas pajamas,
I have to share this snapshot:

I just took re-purposing to a whole nother level.

The TV was too heavy to remove myself.
Besides, it won't fit in my car even if I could move it.
So it became our coffee table...

... until we can recruit some muscles with a truck...


12.30.2014

when getting is giving

Christmas came and went. The older I get, the more bah-humbuggy I feel about the Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love the real meaning of Christmas. And I love the family time and the traditions and the mulled wine. But I get a little sick thinking about the consumerism and materialism - not to mention narcissism - that seems to drive the holiday these days. Even when you try to avoid it, you can't avoid it.

At Christmas I find joy in giving. This year I also found joy in getting.

***

When my missionary parents traveled to Mongolia as a part of their ministry, they would bring back items made by Mongolian women at Mary & Martha Mongolia as gifts to the people who supported their ministry.

I longed to have some sort of a global impact (after all, I am a missionary kid) even in the midst of my somewhat suburban American life. It occurred to me that I could help these women in Mongolia by selling their items here in the United States.

Unfortunately I didn't have the resources or the know-how to bring it to pass, and soon my parents returned to the United States to live, which made acquiring the items a little more difficult.

Fortunately now there are many companies and stores and ministries who help people in less fortunate circumstances make a fair wage for their work.

Like TOMS, for instance. I have to be honest, when I first heard about TOMS I was not at all interested in them. All I knew about the company was the shoes, and that the college-aged hipsters in my church were all like "TOMS. TOMS. OMG, TOMS!"

As an aside, if you know me you know that I don't like to be told what to do - or what to like. I want to buy something because I like it, not because it's trendy. This, in itself, is not a bad thing although I may have always been completely out of style. But I was out of style on purpose!

This attitude is caused by, and has caused, some things for which I am currently in counseling. Obviously.

That said, I avoided TOMS because they seemed trendy. Plus, I thought they were a little bit plain. What's the big deal?, I wondered. Then a friend of mine let me borrow some of her sandals for an evening out:
I was like, "What the what? These are TOMS?!"

Now that I'd worn them, I wanted a pair of my own. I got on the website and read about their "One for One" philosophy - for every TOMS shoe you purchase, someone who needs shoes also gets a pair. Not only that, but for every pair of eye-wear purchased, someone gets their sight restored. And for every bag of coffee purchased, they help someone get clean water.

TOMS. TOMS.

OMG, TOMS!!!

So when Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I decided that if I was gonna get something, I wanted someone else to get something too.

 
I can't tell you how much joy I got when I opened my present and found these Indigo Knit Women's Classics. Not because I got some shoes I want, but because someone else got some shoes they need.


I gave Santa several different items to choose from, including this bag from JOYN at TOMS Marketplace.


I choked up a little bit when I saw this tag that came with it:


Dolli, Raja & Mamta made my bag with their own hands and they wrote their names in their own handwriting on the tag that says:

"Each set of hands touching a product creates another job. Another livelihood."

To that I would add:

Each set of hands purchasing a product made by those dear hands creates a demand. 

A demand for better jobs. Better livelihoods.

Sometimes I wonder, does it really make a difference? In the grand scheme of things... in the world economy... in my tight budget... is it worth it?

Then I remember it's not really about the economy or my budget. It's not even about bags or shoes. Those things are temporary. It's about people. Souls.


When we give, we get. I believe this to be true.

Now I know that when we get, we can also give.

Raja

Mamta

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