Archive for January, 2012

How About Another Livestream on Wednesday, February 1st?

*To log onto livestream, just click this link. Or type: www.livestream.com/livingproofministries into your web browser. Reminder: If you log on too early, it may be password protected. We’ll lift that password in plenty of time for you to join in! See you tomorrow!

RED ALERT! PLEASE NOTE THAT THE TIME HAS CHANGED TO 10:30 AM RATHER THAN 11:00 AM SO THAT WE CAN CLOSE DOWN BEFORE THE NEHEMIAH FACEBOOK LAUNCH PARTY FOR KELLY MINTER’S NEW SERIES. It is so fabulous and I don’t want you to miss a single word about it if you can help it. I’m not going to miss it either.  (I thought it began at 11:30 but I was mistaken!) Those of us who can make it will gather at 10:30 for our Siesta livestream then, as many as possible, jump on Kelly’s at 11:00. If you need to make an understandable choice between the two, attend Kelly’s! Mine is just a chat time and we’ll have many opportunities just like it. The launch party for Nehemiah is a one-time-only skype. Thank you for your cooperation! The following post has now been edited and corrected:

 

Hey, Sweet Things! Let’s get together live again! Want to?? I have a window of opportunity this coming Wednesday, February 1st at 10:30 AM Central Standard Time for half an hour. Would that work for any of you? I know many more would be available if we’d do the livestreams in the evenings and I hope to schedule some of them accordingly but our little studio and set up for streaming is here on campus at LPM. Since these tapings require a substantial amount of staff on hand, I hate to ask them to work after hours. As it is, they work every Tuesday night this time of year. I so appreciate your patience until we can schedule one after work hours. Until then, those of you who are pretty certain you’ll be able to tune in, consider doing something that might make our time together richer. In a comment to this post, please very succinctly (so that I can read many of them!) tell me ONE of your biggest cares or concerns right now. The devotional we’ll share has to do with that theme – unless God changes the direction – and I’d love to work in some of your own examples. Please, JUST ONE and within a few sentences please. Oh, man, I don’t ever want to play “tick tock, the game’s locked” but it would work most effectively if only the ones who plan to participate in the livestream leave comments to this particular post. If you’re unable to attend, please refrain from writing a reply BUT here’s how you can participate: let these comments morph into prayer requests and pray for some of your Siestas in their areas of greatest concern!

Since I’m posting this after closing and our hard-working Lindsee has already gone home for the day, don’t look for these comments to get moderated and published until well into the morning tomorrow (Tuesday). Thank you so much for contributing!

I hope to “see” many of you Wednesday at 10:30! Oh, and by the way, this one is open to any woman and not just our community so you’re welcome to get word out. As I promised, I’ll let you know when a gathering is really just intended for our active blog community.

You are huge to me.

May Jesus be blatant to you this week! He loves you so.

 

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My Sister Gay’s Second Installment: The Functioning Years

For the first installment of Gay’s story, click here.

My beloved Sisters, it is my great honor to bring you my sister, Gay’s, second installment in her mind-blowing, God-glorifying story of redemption. By all means, let your friends and relatives know to watch for these installments if they could really use this hope. Boy, have I ever been desperate for it in my own wrestling matches with the enemy. You do not need to worry that I am going to vacate the blog until her series reaches its conclusion. No such luck! I’ll still be right here in the middle of things. I also want you to know that her story in many ways is part of mine and my story in many ways is part of hers. As God would have it, our stories grow from the same roots and braid their ways like vines up the same tree. Before I send you forward to read this wonderful second portion of her story, many of you are requesting another livestream and I’m in the mood for another one myself! Aren’t they a blast?? We’ll do one next week – perhaps Wednesday so that I can give my solid attentions to Tuesday night Bible study. I’ll let you know the day and time several days in advance so we can plan.  OK, my beloved fellow sojourners, I’ll turn this over now to Gay! I love you so much, my dearest older sister. God’s glory radiates all over you. Thank you for sowing into this blog community. They are so dear to me.

I sat on the side of our bed in 1986 and said to my husband, Tut, “I think I’ve got a drinking problem.”

Ladies, before I move on I want you to re-read that sentence and let the weight of the year 1986 sink in all the way down to your toes.  I finally quit drinking, after profound suffering, in 2009, TWENTY-THREE YEARS after God gave me the first word of warning.

The single most significant event in my life to that date had occurred just six short months before:  the birth of our first born son, our sweet, red-haired, smart as a whip Zachary.  I was 31 years old.  Mind you, I had not drunk a drop of alcohol during the entire pregnancy, not one.  Yet a few months later I was beginning the most difficult conversation of my life.  One that I would continue to have for the rest of my life, even in sobriety.  I had an urgency inside of me once Zach was born to be responsible.  Now, I have an inkling that most people, especially women, decide to be responsible before 31 years of age.  But not me.  To this day, I don’t know why I had a wild streak down my back that wouldn’t quit.  I was a rebel from the time I can remember and wild as a March hare.  I either didn’t think I would get caught or gave no consideration whatsoever to the consequences.  I wasn’t scared of the devil himself and I sure wasn’t scared of my parents!  Then.

Tut and I had been married 2-1/2 years at that time and we had a good marriage although not devoid of problems, mostly growing pains.  Neither one of us had been raised in terribly functional homes and we were simply doing what we knew to do.  We were partners, “teamies,” crazy about each other and we were drinking buddies.  We drank every single night if we needed to or not and that was just the way we lived for most of our married life.  I heard the words “drinking problem” come out of my mouth and I feared they were true but Tut casually disagreed and I was looking for any reason to believe otherwise.  So I shut up and kept drinking, beer and wine thankfully, which wreaked little havoc in our lives other than the war that was beginning inside my head.  Am I alcoholic, like those OTHER people who have to go to meetings or am I making a big deal over nothing?  Surely I am overreacting.  I should be able to control my drinking.  After all, I’m me!  I’m smart and fairly attractive and married and daughter of Al and Aletha Green who raised me in church where I gave my heart to Jesus, was baptized at 9 years old, sang in the choir and went to G.A.’s (a young girls’ mission organization).  I know right from wrong and drinking excessively is wrong, especially when I have a child to raise.  So there.  Problem solved.  I’ll cut down.  I will control.

Five years later, age 36, I was sitting at my computer at the Fortune 500 company I had been employed by for many years, where I was well respected and performed with excellence.  My head was spinning and fuzzy.  I was accustomed to working with a hangover, it didn’t even phase me, but this particular morning I couldn’t think of ANYTHING except for the fact that I was baffled at this dad blasted drinking problem and the fact that it would not go away!  I picked up the phone, dialed Charter Hospital of Sugar Land and made an appointment to be assessed by a substance abuse counselor.  It was a radical move!  After being accepted into the first of a long string of out-patient programs that I would not finish, I walked into my first AA meeting and received my first AA book which we most affectionately call the Big Book, not to be confused with the Good Book.  I was scared to death to walk into my first meeting, afraid that I might see someone I knew or they would see me and think that I was alcoholic.  I didn’t hear a word in that meeting but took the book home and began to read in the privacy of my own home, with a tall glass of vodka and cranberry juice.  The Big Book was written in 1939 and sounded, well, hokey to me.  In fact, it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever read in my life!  I slammed it shut, gulped down the last of my drink, felt the love (the love it had for me, the love I had for it, and the love I had for myself), the elusive warm and fuzzy “everything is right with the world” magic of the first drink and I put that dang book out for my next garage sale.

The “functioning years” rocked on through elementary school, middle school, the birth of Zach’s brother, Joshua, my parents’ move to Sugar Land, membership at a prominent neighborhood church, teaching preschool Sunday School, PTO, Cub Scouts, basketball, soccer, the Houston Rockets winning the NBA championship two years in a row (I had to put that in!), 9/11, etc.  I stopped at the liquor store right after work every day, never missed even one day and never repeated the same liquor store in one week.  I bought a pint of vodka, never more than that because I knew I would finish the bottle no matter what size it was.  I either poured myself a drink in the car or simply twisted off the cap and drank it straight from the bottle.  I couldn’t wait to get home which was only about 2 miles.  I floated in and out of AA meetings yet never ever thought any of that stuff applied to ME.  I was living my life right (except for this pesky drinking problem which I was trying my best to HIDE).  I was doing the right things.  I came from a good family.  I went to work every day and never drank before or at work.  I kept the laundry done, family fed and got the kids to school.  I taught Sunday School, for Pete’s sake.  I prayed to God many times to take away my desire to drink alcohol but, for reasons I know NOW but did not know THEN, He didn’t.  I would arise hopeful each morning only to make the decision to quit tomorrow over and over and over again until tomorrow never came.

On August 7, 1998, my mother died right in front of our eyes.  She had been diagnosed with breast cancer three years prior to that and somehow I thought I was prepared.  I was a little, ok a LOT, mad at God because I had gotten on my knees many times and prayed that He would spare my mother’s life yet … He didn’t.  We didn’t only lose our mother that dreaded day but we lost our glue.  All five of us scattered to the wind and dealt with her loss in our own way.  I drank.  It worked.  It took away the pain and if your mother had just died, you would drink too!!!  I gave up trying to control my drinking the day my mother died.  It seemed acceptable under those circumstances.  I was too sad, too lonely and, frankly, too broken without her.  I had talked to her 6 times a day on the phone and seen her daily for 8 years.  She had raised Zachary while I was working and had come back to life herself at the news of our expecting another baby.  Josh’s middle name is Cage after Micajah Rountree, my mother’s father, because I wanted to name him after HER.  She wasn’t perfect but she was Mom and we adored her.  She was the Queen of Everything.  I still feel her loss deeply and I’m fighting back an all-out cry as I write this — but I’m not drinking (ha!).  Praise Jesus of Heaven and Earth!!

That was the beginning of the end.  It was when I stopped caring if I controlled or not.  I am quite sure that the devil was jumping for joy on that day!  He’d gotten me and he was about to carry me away.  That was August of 1998 and I finally put down my last drink on April 19, 2009, more than ten full years later.  Ten years of dwelling in the pit, ten years of spiraling out of control, ten years of the descent into the maelstrom.  Hell.

Fast forward to August, 2009.  I was sitting on a park bench outside a Methodist Church in Pasadena, Texas in the early warmth of a beautiful summer morning.  It was beautiful instead of South Texas hot because I was grateful to be alive.  As I let the sun shine down on my face, I thanked God for my life and four months of sobriety.  It was a miracle!  A dark car with tinted windows drove up slowly in front of me and the window lowered only halfway.  The woman inside spoke quietly, “I’m looking for an AA meeting.”  I said, “This is it.  Don’t be scared.  I’ll go in with you.”  She parked and joined me on that bench for a good five minutes before we walked inside.  Her name was Diane and she shared with me that she had come to realize she had a serious drinking problem.  She was married to a man she loved like crazy and had a son about twelve years old.  She said, “I know the stories of some alcoholics, the losses they suffer and the bottoms they have to reach.  I love my husband and son so much and I don’t want that to happen to me, to our family.  I know I’m alcoholic and I want to stop now.”  I was able to tell her in a nutshell what God had done in my life and was continuing to do through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  We walked into that meeting together and I introduced her to my sponsor.  She was no longer quiet but felt welcomed and accepted.  I had breakfast with Diane and our mutual sponsor on New Years Eve Day 2011, just a month ago.  She’s been sober 2-1/2 years now and her family is stronger than ever before.  She never picked up another drink after she walked with me through those doors.  She found God in that room and never looked back.  He’s so good, isn’t He?  Everyone doesn’t have to pound the hot concrete with bare feet, somehow they are able to listen to the early warnings and learn from the journeys of others.  They are able to humble themselves enough to listen and apply.  They are able to see God intersect their lives long before the madness begins.  And have life, and have it to the full.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 New International Version (NIV)

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Siesta SMT Celebration Recap

Good afternoon, Siestas! Monday probably would have been a more appropriate day to write this post, but we went straight into Tuesday night Bible study, so I wanted to get through that before we spent one more post on SSMTC. So, please forgive me for any details I might be missing.

It was a wonderful weekend, was it not? I personally had the sweetest time receiving and giving so many hugs, and putting names with faces I see all the time on the blog. In fact, I think someone mentioned on Saturday that is was National Hug Day. How appropriate is that?

One thing some of you may not know is that this was my second SSMT Celebration. I attended the celebration in 2010 as a participant and Siesta. Isn’t that so fun? Getting to serve you ladies this time around was a complete joy and honor. I often referred back to the first SSMTC and took in where the Lord had brought me since then. Who knew? To be so honest, it was very surreal. He is so good and sweet.

We started out Friday evening STRONG! I got to the church early around 2:30 with Jenn, who happened to be in charge of the entire event, and some of you beat us there. It was so fun to see how excited y’all were. Jenn and I ended up getting ready in the bathroom at church before things got crazy, and I got so tickled when about five of you walked in on us as we were freshening up our make-up. Real life, folks, real life!

After getting things all set up and ready, we opened registration at 5:00 and that’s when most of you started flooding in. At the registration table we gave a lot of hugs, and also some cute tote bags, pens and a program. They were adorable!

At 7:00 sharp Travis and his team led us in some powerful worship. If he doesn’t do it for you, I’m not sure who would. They are such an anointed and gifted group that genuinely loves serving the Lord, and it shows. Not to mention the excitement in the room. During the second song I walked up to the balcony to get a quick picture and just stood there for a minute to take it all in. We are a real blog community that has come to life. Instead of reading and posting your sweet comments, I got to stand there for a minute and listen to y’all sing. It was a sweet moment. Again, probably just another one of my nostalgic moments that I’ve been having lately. Please forgive any sappiness.

Once worship was over Beth was up and not only did she have a WORD for us out of 2 John, she surprised us all by reciting the entire book to us by memory. Because of how animated and passionate she is, I think it’s safe to say we all felt like we were watching a portion out of a Broadway play, except she was speaking the living, breathing word of God. For the next three sessions, on into Saturday, Beth spelled out the word WALKING for us and had a point for each letter.

There is no doubt in my mind that each woman walked away with some truth in her heart and the courage to take back her ground the enemy has trampled on or stolen! Wow. I’ve been thinking about my ground all week.
When we wrapped up the Friday evening session, while Beth took pictures with the different regions represented, the rest of us enjoyed cookies and cocoa in the Fellowship Hall. I didn’t get to personally drink any of the hot cocoa, but I heard it was out of this world. I know for a fact the sugar cookie was, as I did enjoy one of those. Or maybe two. Grin.

We all cleared out Friday night, only to lay our heads quickly on our pillows to return bright and early Saturday morning. Travis and his team and Beth all did a phenomenal job.

Halfway through the morning it was time to say our scriptures to each other. During this time I walked around to snap a few pictures and it was really fun to see everyone in pairs all around the building reciting your scriptures out loud. What a powerful time!

Throughout the weekend, we gave the ladies who could recite all 24 verses an opportunity to do so with a partner and claim a gift we had for them, and do y’all know we counted 385 that signed off for reciting all 24 verses? That is amazing! I think our in house cheerleader, Evangeline, cheered each of them on individually very enthusiastically. It’s what we do best at LPM.

We even had one Siesta recite all of her scriptures in Greek to Melissa on Saturday. Incredible.

Once we’d all said our scriptures, and all the pressure you felt was gone, Beth sent us out on the letter G: Go out into the world WALKING in what you know. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. Travis led us in some foot stomping worship and then when all was said and done, I heard most of you talking about going to get Tex-Mex. That was very wise of you to do.

Ladies, you were an absolutely blast and the sweetest, most gracious and warm group of ladies and not to mention fun and beautiful. To say y’all are easy to love would be an understatement. However, I don’t want to leave out those of you that couldn’t make it this weekend! Know that you were thought of, prayed for and MISSED! Your hard work didn’t go unnoticed by us one iota. We love each of you dearly and haven’t stopped talking about you since Saturday, which started out through text message the minute we all left HFBC Saturday afternoon. Thank you so much for making a trek to Houston to celebrate with us!

Although saying this doesn’t plaster a pretty pink bow on this post to wrap it up, I want to let y’all know that we will not be doing scripture memory this year on the blog. That has been the number one question we’ve received so I just wanted to make it clear. We do, however, encourage you to continue on doing your scripture memory and grab a few ladies to do it with you! Don’t let this blog keep you from memorizing scripture. But do be looking out for Siesta Summer Bible study and be sure to check back in 2013 for scripture memory.

If you wrote a recap post, feel free to share a link to that specific post in the comments section with your comment. I know other ladies would love to read about your experience.

We love you ladies dearly. And we mean it!

Travis and Angela Cottrell

Worship. Sorry for the quality, these were captured with my phone.

Ladies reciting scripture to each other all over HFBC.

Our youngest Siesta who recited all 24 verses as well. Each time she did one, she jumped up and down and clapped. It was precious.

Our scripture wall. Awesome!

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Tuesday Night Bible Study

Houston ladies! In case you haven’t heard, we wanted to let you know that we start Bible study tonight!

Beth has been studying and preparing for this very night as we plan to journey through the book of Deuteronomy together for the next six weeks.

We’ve been out of Tuesday night Bible study for quite some time now, so needless to say, we are so excited to get this semester started!

Are any of you planning on joining us?

Also, if you are a young woman who is 18 – 25 and are planning on coming, please let me (Lindsee) know by clicking on this website and filling out some information. We’ll be having a special, short meet-up after Bible study for you ladies and I’d love to meet you!

We so appreciate your prayers for Beth as she prepares and teaches, the staff as we desire to serve with excellence, and for every lady in attendance. We cannot wait to see you!

Click here to visit the Houston Connection page for more information.

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration 2012

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**Siesta Celebration is January 20-21, 2012**

Ladies! We’re only a few days away from welcoming you to the great (and large, mind you) city of Houston. To say we’re all pumped and scurrying around would be an understatement. We’re all so ready to see y’all!

A lot of you have been asking for details as far as schedule is concerned, and also some recommendations of some good restaurants to eat at, where you can shop and what in the world can you do in Houston for an entire weekend? Before our first SSMT, Amanda wrote a really informative post about all things Houston, so I’m going to rip a few things off of that post and add some more. At the end of this post, you might be tired of hearing all about Houston!

Don’t let the words “winter season” fool you. Houston tends to have a mind of its own. Those of you coming from snow will be pleasantly surprised to get a break from the bitter cold! It can be a little chilly inside the church, so you may want to layer up, or bring a light sweater. And if you’re stressed about packing, we encourage casual! Jeans are great!

Friday:
Partly Sunny
High – 75
Low – 58
Rain – 10%

Saturday:
Partly Sunny
High – 75
Low – 60
Rain – 10%

Sunday:
Cloudy
High – 76
Low – 64
Rain – 20%

So you can plan accordingly, here is the celebration schedule:

Friday:
5pm Check-In opens
6pm Doors open to Worship Center
7pm Celebration begins
10pm Evening concludes

Saturday:
8am Continental breakfast available
9am Celebration begins
12pm Celebration concludes…go eat lunch with new friends, shop & have fun!

Location is key, and Houston’s First Baptist Church, where we’ll have our celebration is located near a lot of great restaurants and endless entertainment. There are no official plans that have been made as far as meet-ups are concerned that I know about, but I have no doubt, especially if you’re traveling alone, that you can hook up with a group of Siestas who might have their weekend planned out.

If you are a smart phone owner (iPhone, Android, etc…) one thing that might be very helpful to you is an app called “Urbanspoon”. It is an app that lists all of the restaurants near you, customer reviews for that specific restaurant, and an address that you can paste in your GPS. It is a free app and we would strongly encourage you to use it! Just consider it your personal assistant for the weekend.

The Galleria, which is about four miles from the church (I know that sounds far, but it’s really close), can provide you with most anything you need, great food, great shopping and great people watching, if that’s your sort of thing. Around the Galleria you can find pretty much any type of food your heart desires.

Here are some restaurants that might be of interest to you:

The Chocolate Bar
1835 W. Alabama
Houston, TX 77098
713-520-8599
www.theoriginalchocolatebar.com

Dessert Gallery
1616 Post Oak Blvd
713.622.0007
www.dessertgallery.com

Cafe Express
6570 Woodway St.
Houston, TX 77057
713.935.9222
www.cafe-express.com

Collina’s Memorial
8800 Katy Fwy.
(Ste. 109)
Houston, TX 77024
713-365-9497
www.collinas.com

Pappasito’s
10409 Katy Fwy.
Houston, TX 77024
713-468-1913
www.pappasitos.com (click on the I-10 location)

Cyclone Anaya’s
5761 Woodway Drive
Houston, TX 77057
713-339-4552

http://www.cycloneanaya.com

Tiny Boxwood’s Cafe
3614 W Alabama St.
Houston, TX 77027
713-622-4224
www.thompsonhanson.com
(Click on cafe down at the bottom)

Benjy’s
2424 Dunstan
Houston, TX 77005
713-522-7602
www.benjys.com

Some of you have asked about a great spa, and one we would recommend, though it is pricey, would be The Trellis at the Houstonian. http://trellisspa.com/

One thing you can be sure to encounter is Houston traffic, especially on Friday afternoon and evening. Welcome!

Another thing to remember as you’re packing is your spirals full of your scriptures. It’s your ticket in!

And last but not least, if you’re on twitter, let’s get our hashtag party going. We’ll use: #SSMTC just for fun!

We hope this was of some help and assistance to you! Here is the link to FAQ page one more time should you have any more questions.

We are giddy with excitement and cannot wait to see your pretty faces in just three days! We love y’all!

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Meet My Sister

My hands have been frozen on the computer keyboard while I took in the pure profundity of this moment in my personal life and family life and, Lord, have mercy, my spiritual life. When I say that I am about to share something gigantic to me, I am not kidding. I am bug-eyed that this is really happening and it is everything I can do not to type these words to you from face down on the floor. My dear Siestas, it is my great honor to introduce you to my blood sister, with whom I was raised and with whom I shared a room for many years and many secrets. Some crippling. We have known much pain together and much devastation apart and were so close growing up that one of us could hardly be okay if the other were not. Today – and for this moment – we are both okay. And blessed. Redeemed. Forgiven. And, in staggering ways, restored. Only because of Jesus.

Years ago in a speaker/teacher workshop, the consummate Christian communicator, Florence Littauer, taught us to ask ourselves two questions before standing in front of an audience: “Do I have anything to say?” And, “Do people need to hear it?” I can confidently say today that, if Florence Littauer knew my sister and her story, she’d tell her to open her mouth and rarely shut it till God took her Home. Oh, Sisters, does she ever have something to say and do people ever need to hear it!

Please meet my older sister by three years, Gay Tuttle. She and I are two of five siblings who we love as much as we love each other. I do not know anyone well who has a more powerful and genuine testimony than Gay. Her rescue and revival flooded over into mine. God used her healing to add to mine. It is with the hope that God could use it to somehow impact you that I make this introduction.  My heart is pounding with awe and reverence as we release her story – and at times our story – to the public. In her words. I have not edited a single sentence. Here you will find the first of several installments of this story of redemption that, God willing, we hope to share with you over the weeks to come. I don’t want to put her into a time crunch but you could reasonably expect them about 1 to 2 weeks apart. Pray for her as she writes to you. Sometimes we have to relive to RE-LIVE.

As I put her out here for the eyes of multiple thousands, I beg you from the deepest part of my heart to take good care of my sister. This is huge for her and huge for me. Allow her the freedom to talk in the language that she presently speaks and with the terms she presently uses. I believe you will be so blessed. Very few of you Siestas need me to say this but, because I do not want to throw her to even two wolves, I ask you to please refrain from preaching to her. Instead, receive from her. Just let her share with you a vivid flesh-and-blood illustration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. These won’t be articles for legalists. These will be articles for people who do believe or who want to believe with all their hearts that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)  If I didn’t believe you were the kind of people to embrace her with lavish affection, I’d never take this chance. But I know you, Siestas. I know she will be well cared-for here. By the way, she knows you a bit, too. She’s been reading the blog and many of your comments now for a year. So, without further introduction, my beloved Siestas, please meet my beloved Sister, Gay. I am now full-on crying.

 

Hi Siestas!  My name is Gay and I’m an alcoholic.  I’m not just any alcoholic.  I am a serious, hardcore, dedicated, classic, textbook alcoholic.  I drank just like that for thirty-seven years, all of my adult life, with the exception of the last two and three-quarter years.  Today I have 1000 days of sobriety, nights included, weekends too, consecutive, all in a row, no breaks, no slips and no sneaks.  Now, that might not sound like much of an accomplishment to those who have stayed sober all of their lives or for those who drink responsibly, but for ME, it is a flatout miracle from God!!

To be honest, Sweet Siestas, I have grappled with how to introduce myself on this most-esteemed blog until I almost didn’t come out here at all.  Because I have been “raised up” in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and in our beloved Mercy Street, a church that ministers to many in recovery, the word “alcoholic” just rolls off my tongue.  I don’t even think about it.  It feels right, it sounds right, IT IS RIGHT!!  It is a huge part of who I am and I own that.  My God-given, God-planned deliverance from it is my testimony and I believe with all my heart that there are those of you who have, at the very least, people in your lives who have struggled or are strugging with some similar experiences and need some hope.  That’s about as simple as it gets.  I am quick to blurt it out for another reason as well, possibly the most important one:  I do not want to forget.  I believe that in order to LIVE what I have been delivered to I must REMEMBER what I have been delivered from.

What it was like:

I started drinking at seventeen years old as a rebellious teenager (loved it), continued to do it through the “functioning” years (tolerated it) and moved on to radical self-medicating simply to kill the pain, much of which I caused myself (hated it).  I was given countless opportunities to recover and refused.  By the time I got serious and very scared, it was too late.  I was hopelessly addicted to alcohol, both mentally and physically, and I had lost the power of choice.  So I threw in the towel and proceeded to try to drink myself out of my misery and miserable existence, to death.  And I almost did, many times, but for the radical grace of God.  I lost my husband, my children, my job, the trust of my family, my home, my car, my driving privileges, my self-respect, my dignity, my values, my freedom and the list goes on and on.  I was confined to jails and institutions more times than I can count.  I thought I was a certifiable lunatic because WHO would drink after all that???  And that wasn’t the bottom for me; I ended up homeless and on the street (yes, outside!) for approximately eighteen months.

What happened:

God intersected into my life like a burning bolt of lightning and in the blink of an eye my story took an abrupt about-face and became His Story.

What it is like now:

A thousand days of sobriety and a God bigger than life Who requires a lot of WORK from me, have molded and chiseled me into far more than an alcoholic.  I am a loving and responsible mother, sister and friend.  I am a dedicated employee and member of Mercy Street who believes in its mission and lives it OUT LOUD.  I am a driver with a valid Texas drivers license and insurance, a car owner, townhouse dweller, volunteer, law-abiding citizen, taxpayer (ugh), sponsor, sponsee and recovery coach.  I sit on three committees that are a part of the Houston Area Recovery Initiative for the fourth largest city in the country.  I am a Servant and Lover of God who is fully dedicated to following His will for my life which is to share my experiences, both there and back, and offer hope of God’s deliverance for all who suffer from a similar seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.

I hope to offer a unique perspective, possibly even tilting the axis a bit (in a good way), of an intimate relationship with this most Mysterious Jesus God who never leaves us or forsakes us no matter how far down the scale we have gone.  I love Him because He loves me, all of me.  He first loved me!  I had been taught that as a child and had sung Jesus Loves Me since I could form words.  Yet I had forgotten that while I was out there in the wilderness, pounding the hot concrete with bare feet.  I didn’t know the love, grace and mercy of God until I walked off of that concrete and began the journey out of the pit, to hope and a future, to FREEDOM.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,”  Isaiah 61:1-3

I am going to tell you my story, Sweet Siestas, if you care or dare to listen.  I promise I will be honest and candid, direct and to the point.  I will try my best not to ramble on about the problem without moving quickly to the solution.  For me, not just any alcoholic, there is but One Solution.  Not just any God.  It takes a God the size of the universe, bigger and badder than them all, to accomplish for us and through us what we cannot do for ourselves.  It takes the all powerful, all consuming, all merciful Crazy Love of Jesus and our full acceptance of who we are in and to Him.  It takes a willingness to do WHAT HE ASKS, which is A LOT.  It takes honesty and authenticity.  This is Who I Am and it only matters what God thinks because of Who He Is.  Then its Katie bar the door!  Here am I, send me, all of me, scars, limps and all.  And He will and He does because He loves us with a love that transcends all barriers and which is, well … indescribable.  Brennan Manning, my second favorite author, wrote these words in The Furious Longing of God:  “Employing adjectives such as furious, passionate, vehement, and aching to describe the longing of God are my mumbling and fumbling to express the Inexpressible.  Yet, I plod on.” Please bear with me, my Siestas, while I mumble and fumble to express the Inexpressible.

 

Dear Jesus God, You know that the absolute best prayer I ever prayed in my life was the simplest of all prayers:  God, Please Help Me!  I’m praying it again now, Dear Jesus.  Please help me to be effective in Your world and for Your glory and honor alone.  Please help me to shine the light of Jesus in the darkest night, to the wounded and broken who need a shred of hope because everyone needs some, Lord.  I love you with all my heart and soul.  I am Yours, all of me.  Amen.

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Passion 2012 – Scholarship Meet-Up Photo Journalism Style

A week has gone by since we’ve all returned home from Passion 2012 and we have hit the ground running at LPM. However, because y’all were so involved in praying for our 1000 young women who we had the joy of sponsoring at LPM, I wanted to share these sweet moments with y’all.

Tuesday afternoon when we got to meet with the girls for about an hour, we were lucky to have Andy, one of the official Passion photographers, with us at the meeting who captured our time with them so well. I think most of us got a few quick shots with the cameras on our phones, but these turned out so much better and we are so thankful!

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m going to let the pictures do the talking. We’ll just call it photo journalism! Grin.

Have a wonderful weekend, y’all!

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What’s Working in Your Prayer Lives?

IMPORTANT PIECE OF INFORMATION FOR FUTURE LIVESTREAMS: I just saw some of you in the blog comments mentioning that you got on the site and it asked for a password and you didn’t have one. Prior to the broadcasts, there is a set up and test-run process involved. The password is so that, during the hours prior to us airing, only the ones testing the set up can get on. Otherwise, you’ll just watch Lindsee or several others on staff getting the set ready and volume adjusted. While the sanguine in me would think that’s kind of fun, it’s not the best way to do it. Grin. The password-only access gets lifted at least 15 minutes prior to going on the air. I’m so sorry if that caused you to miss our time together today. I didn’t know of the process myself or I would have given you a heads up. We’re all just learning here! Thank you, Lindsee and Sabrina for your hard work in helping to make this media possible!

What a blast, girls! If you joined us for our livestream chat this morning, our topic was prayer. Sabrina told Lindsee and I that the number of viewers spiked from 700 to 1400 during the course of our time together. Oh, how I pray that God found joy in it and will use our discussions today to build up this segment of the Body of Christ. Just one person’s effectiveness in prayer touches the lives of countless others.

As I promised you in the livestream, this blog post is for you to share with one another what “works” for you in your prayer practices. We defined “what works” as what produces fruit. We talked about the principle Christ gave us in John 15:2 – “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” The beginning of a new year is a great time let God cut away some things in our lives that are simply not bearing fruit and seeking Him for things that will.

So, have at it, Sweet Things! Share with one another what has been effective for you in your pursuit of God through prayer and in your practice of intercession. (By all means, share even if you weren’t part of the livestream.) I especially hope to see some of you moms of young children sharing practical approaches. You are also welcome to share what challenges you and where you could use some help in hopes that some of your sisters might offer practical advice. If there are more challenges than effective approaches and no one replies to you, don’t be discouraged. It’s not personal. People just run out of time and can’t get to all of the entries. Be sure and read through the other replies and comments to see if someone lends some insight to you.

I am so honored to serve you. May the pursuit of Christ be (or become!) the joy of your very valuable life.

With so much love,

Beth

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Live Stream Tomorrow on Prayer, Anyone?

Hey, you guys! On our introductory (and impromptu!) live stream last week, I told you that I thought we might focus on prayer during our next one. The beginning of a new year is a great time to get strengthened and encouraged in our prayer lives! If you’re like me, you could always use some cheering on in that vital spiritual discipline. It’s fairly safe to say that, in day-to-day practical living, we are only as strong in our walk as we are in our prayers. A healthy prayer life is essential to abiding in Christ. I also love to hear the approaches others are finding effective. So, what do you say we hit this topic tomorrow??? (God willing, thank you, Book of James)

For all who are able, hop on this link tomorrow from 10:30 – 11:00 AM Central Standard Time and let’s talk about prayer.

Last week we intentionally limited the invitation to our blog community because we were doing a trial run for live stream and because sometimes we’d like to seize the moment to just be together as a community. This one (tomorrow), however, is wide open for anybody so you’re welcome to get word out. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never been on a blog. Anyone is invited to join us.

OK, then! We’ll talk tomorrow! And, while you’re at it, pray for me as I prepare to talk to you about this subject. Let’s even pray about prayer.

God’s riches in Christ Jesus to you today, Sweet Things.

 

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SSMT Roll Call

Siestas! We are less than two weeks away from our Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration! In case you realized how much of a mouth full that is, that is why we lovingly refer to it as the SSMTC around here. Grin.

With Christmas, New Years and Passion 2012 behind us, we are looking very forward to the celebration, especially because of how quick it will land on us. Sometime during the next week be looking for a fun FAQ post about the weather, food and all things regarding Houston, but until then, we want to hear from you.

We are anxious to know who completed the scripture memory challenge on this blog EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT GETTING TO COME TO THE CELEBRATION. That just means that you have your spiral filled with 20-24 scriptures, posted your verses on the blog, and have hidden the Word in your heart, we want to know who you are.

If this applies to you (and you completed the commitment), we’d love for you to comment and tell us three things:

1) Name:
2) City:
3) Are you coming to the celebration? Yes or No. (Because we want to acknowledge and celebrate you either way!)

Remember, this is for anyone who completed the 2011 scripture memory challenge! When we say there is NO condemnation for those who didn’t finish please hear us loud and clear: there is no condemnation or guilt! We just love a good party here at LPM and want to celebrate with you.

So, even if you have no plans to come to the celebration, but have completed your memory work, let us hear from you!

We love y’all dearly. T-minus 11 days. We cannot wait!

P.S. Some of you have been looking for the SSMT FAQ page, here is the link to help you out.

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