About 365 days of marriage

I started this blog in April of 2011. At the time, Bret and I were wedding photographers and it was a way to share how marriage is more about the day to day and so much more than the wedding day itself. For about 5 years, I blogged about the joys and sorrows of the Christian walk, marriage, work, family and friends. I’ve blogged every day since a few weeks after I started. In May of 2015, we photographed our last wedding. Now, I have become passionate about simplicity, particularly in marriage, Christianity, business, travel and life. For a number of reasons, we have become minimalists. I’ve found that having simplicity makes life so much deeper, refreshing and joyful. I hope that this blog will help others see the benefits of living simply.

Day 3500 – My Very Last Blog Post

Well, we have arrived at my last blogging day. I always thought this day would happen on the day that Bret died, but that was not the case (super duper thankfully!) If you haven’t read why, you can read about that here.

Thus ends my journey which began on April 16, 2011.
2,856 blog posts (give or take).
Roughly 1,428,000 words.
Two books published.

I am beyond words thankful for my journey with this blog and for all of you who have read over the years.

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie

I really don’t have plans to be a major content creator down the road, but I do still plan on writing books and occasionally posting to Medium.

“In case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and goodnight.” Truman

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Day 3499 – Posts I’m Proud Of – Why You Shouldn’t Ask “When Are You Having Kids?” – or – Things I’ve Learned From Not Having Kids

This was a post I was nervous about sharing because it’s something that makes me feel very different from others. But what I found was it was such an encouragement to others, especially the call to NOT ask a woman when she’s having kids because you have NO idea what’s going on in that department.

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Originally posted 3/30/17
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If you’ve read this blog any amount of time, you know Bret and I are not normal in a lot of ways. From sleeping on the floor, to having no real furniture, we are just weirdos. People don’t understand us sometimes, but that’s fine, we’re happy with our life.

Here’s another “not normal” thing to add to the long list of “Jen and Bret are weird” – We aren’t planning on having kids.

It’s something we didn’t expect. Both of us came from big families and figured we’d have a big family too. As we grew in our marriage, God made it clear kids probably weren’t in our future. When we meditate on our life, kids just aren’t in the picture. It is something we have prayed about, thought a lot about, and talked a lot about. Most of the time, when people ask or comment about us having kids, we laugh it off. “Ha ha, oh we’ll see!” It’s a minor thing to us when people bring it up. Something we shrug off like reactions to us sleeping on the floor. Even if we tell them we aren’t planning on having kids, and they follow up with, “Oh you’ll change your mind.” It isn’t a big deal to us.

But then we thought about things in a different light – what if we DID want kids and we couldn’t or were having a hard time getting pregnant? What if we had lost children?

This is when the desire to share this became about others.

We have a lot of people in our world that have struggled to have kids and desperately want kids.

I am writing this for them.

Please take a few minutes to look at someone’s situation from another angle before you ask “When are you having kids?!” Pause and ask yourself if it’s an appropriate question and time to ask. It may have been easy for you and your spouse to get pregnant. You may have several kids. You may not know that the person you’re asking has been trying, desperately, for years to get pregnant. You may not know of the tears, the heartache, the miscarriages.

Think about asking instead “Do you want kids?” or maybe, just maybe, don’t ask about their plans on having kids or not. If you don’t know if they can have kids or not, it’s for a reason. I understand, it’s a natural question. But it’s a really personal one. Trust me, I understand where the questions come from. In our society, there’s a “natural” timeline of steps.

Out of my deep love for those in my life that struggle with this – please stop asking them when they’re going to have kids. Please stop joking that you’re pregnant on April 1st. Please take a minute to think before you speak. And if you still want to ask someone questions like this, go ahead and just ask me.

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
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Join the Journey With The G’s email list (bonus – you get my Epic Road Trip Budget spreadsheet)
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Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner.
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Check out our resources page.
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Day 3498 – Posts I’m Proud Of – Guest Post: Bret’s Two Year Journey To Attempting A Guinness World Record…Twice

To be fair, this post was not written by me, but Bret. I’m proud of this post because it shared behind the scenes of the two years leading up to his two attempts. I’m also super proud of my husband for accomplishing this, and that it finally got approved. Way to go husband pants.

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Written by my dear husband and originally posted 2/7/15

A few years back, I decided to stop working out in gyms, and wanted to prove to myself that I could get a good workout wherever I was, with any or no equipment. I think that was the start of this crazy journey.

No, I suppose the start was when I was a kid. My dad always encouraged me to challenge myself. He was my main coach when I was competing in running, starting in the 3rd grade. He spent countless hours riding in a car behind me, as I ran along a canal near our house. Sometimes, we would drive 45 minutes just to run in a dry riverbed with sand. Other times, we would drive two hours to go to mountains in California, so that I could run uphill, and at a higher elevation which makes it harder to breathe. I will never forget a time driving back to our house after I had just run a race, and he pulled over at the canal where I usually ran.

“Dad, why’d we stop here?” I asked.

Nonchalantly he replied, “Are you ready to train?”

I didn’t know what to say. “But I just finished a race.”

He responded with something I hope I never forget. “Everyone you ran against is resting right now. If you want to be better than them, you have to train differently than them.”

I don’t think he was being too hard. He was preparing me for competing, and for life I suppose. He would sometimes tell me that he believed I could break the world record for the mile or two mile run. When my interests took me to other sports, I always wondered if it broke his heart, but he never pressured me. He would just tell me, “You know, the winner of the Decathlon is called the Greatest Athlete in the World, and I believe you could do it, but I won’t pressure you. It has to be something you want.”

Those times in my childhood had a big impact on me. I haven’t regretted going into other sports, which have made me more well rounded, but I always wondered how well I could have done.

Fast-forward to deciding to workout on my own. I lifted whatever I could. On trail runs, this turned into logs and rocks. I realized how great of a workout carrying things is, and started doing it more and more. Then, during a run with Jen one time, she told me she was feeling pretty tired. I joked that I would carry her the mile back to our apartment. So, barefoot and on the sidewalk, I began carrying her. The route was uphill a bit, and it was the first time I had really carried someone for a distance. I think I had to put her down 3 times. I’m also pretty sure we stopped the watch during the times we were resting. I carried her back to the apartment in about 16 – 17 minutes. No my feet or heels didn’t hurt, but my calves were definitely sore the next day. I could barely walk. Still, I knew I had just had one of the hardest workouts of my life, and I was really happy with accomplishing it. I had to find out if other people did it.

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Well, not only did I find out there were a few other people stupid enough to do it, but there was actually a record for doing it for a mile, with Guinness World Records. The record at that time was 15:11, by a man named Ashrita Furman, who is also the person who holds the most GWR records. I think it’s close to 200. I was intrigued. I believed that if I practiced enough, I could probably knock off a couple minutes, and it would be on a flat surface. I also noted that the person carried had to be at least the same weight as the person carrying, and that the person being carried could not be put down. I started carrying things more often, and started carrying heavier rocks and logs. I knew I wanted to attempt it, but had no idea when or if I actually would. Time went by, and I read that someone else had beaten the record, with a time around 14:46.

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About 6 months later, one of my Phys Ed teachers from Towson University passed away. His name was Jim Harrison. He reminded me so much of my dad. For one, they dressed similarly. Two, they had similar attitudes about exercise. Mr. Harrison had many achievements in track, but I remember him telling me that at one time, he decided he wanted to run two miles every day. At some point, he got pneumonia, and so instead of running outside, he marked off a distance in his basement and ran two miles. I know, crazy right? But awesome too! He also had a similar attitude toward other people, as my dad. He would encourage people to always challenge themselves. I remember him telling me one time, “If you always have a goal in life, you’ll never be bored.”

A friend of ours told Jen about him passing away. At the time, I was out in her parent’s yard, carrying a punching bag up and down a hill. When Jen came to tell me, I figured I would try to do the attempt in his memory. So, I started training with the punching bag a little more seriously. I talked about my idea with another Phys Ed teacher at Towson. She had tears in her eyes when I told her.

But I was in for a surprise. The record had been beaten again! This time by some guy on a running team in Belgium, with a time of 11:29.

“What!?” I thought. “No way. That’s not possible. He had to have cheated.” But by that time I was already down in the 13 and 14 minute range. So, I figured I would keep training. Maybe, just maybe I could get down that low.

I started trying to carry Jen more, and began carrying her two youngest brothers every once in a while. I was so blessed when I was able to start carrying her brothers’ friend, Daniel. I would get back cramps every so often from carrying the bag, but that first time I carried him for probably a little more than a mile, gave me some serious back cramps. I remember lying on the deck at Jen’s parents’ house, massaging my back on the edge of a board that was a little warped. Daniel was so willing to help and I am so blessed to have a friend like him.

Let me tell you people, getting carried sucks. Jen can attest to that. There have been times where she would get bruises. One time, a day after I carried her, she said her chest hurt a little when she breathed. I felt so bad. I felt like I abused my wife. For what? How selfish. So, I had to start carrying her in short increments. Some days I would carry her, some days I would carry Daniel, and the days in between I would carry the punching bag. But for about 3 months I would carry Daniel at least once a week. He was the perfect training partner. One of the hardest parts of training is to find a partner that is just barely greater in weight, has a schedule where they can workout with you, and is dumb enough, I mean selfless enough to help by being carried.

Eventually I got my time down to 13 minutes. Then 12 minutes. Then 11:30. Then 10:45. I couldn’t believe it. I contacted GWR and read through pages and pages of rules and guidelines for breaking a record and submitting the evidence. I set a date and invited the teacher I had told. Another hard part of this whole process was finding a venue, and witnesses and timekeepers. Finally, everything was set, and I did my attempt at a high school track. I ran a 10:29. I had done it. Jen and I were ready to go back to our normal lives. Well, we still had a normal life. It wasn’t like that was the only thing I did. I also had about 4 part time jobs at the time, and was in school. I even had to go work on a farm later that day that I broke the record. So, I always feel conflicted when people tell me they are too busy to workout.

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A couple weeks later, one of my witnesses, who is a track coach, sent me an email. “Hey Bret. I’ve been thinking that maybe the track at Hereford is a metric track, and therefore 4 times around is only 1600 meters, and not an exact mile.

My eyes got big. “What the heck is he talking about? 4 times around a track isn’t a mile? You couldn’t tell me that before?” My fingers were flying as I went to Google and searched for exactly how many meters are in a mile. My heart sank as I read 1609.344 meters. I had ran 9.344 meters too short. About 10 steps. I couldn’t believe it.

At first I was angry with myself for forgetting that. As a kid, I knew there were different tracks. Then I began to get angry with God. “Why is this happening? What was the point? Was it all a waste?” I felt like I failed everyone who came to watch. I felt like I failed the professor I had dedicated the attempt to. I felt like I failed my parents. Yet I knew that my professor would probably tell me to get back up and try again.

I told my dad I was thinking about trying it again, but maybe this time I would dedicate it to God. He is the one who gave me these desires. He is the one who gave me a dad that trained me the way he did. He is the one who gave me the health to run. Yet I had completely forgot to involve him in the process the first time. This time it would be different. I began thinking that maybe this time I could even do the attempt in California, so that my family could watch. I began training again.

After only a month out of practice, my time was back up in the 12-13 minute range. Now I needed to find a new training partner. I really didn’t want to ask Daniel to help again. He had helped so much before, and I felt like I let him down too. In another post I talked about wanting to have other men in my life that I could get closer to. One way God answered this prayer was through Jen’s youngest brother Joseph. I began carrying him mostly. I would carry her other brothers, family friends, Jen, but the person I mainly carried was Joseph. God blessed me so much with this brother in law that was so willing to help.

For about 7 months I carried him. Eventually I was carrying him once or twice a week. During a time that Jen and I were house-sitting for some friends, I took the punching bag with me, stepped out the distance around the perimeter of their basement, and ran around 32 times, if I remember correctly. How humorous I thought. Or stupid. Or dedicated. I am so thankful for the influence of my professor, and how my dad trained me as I was growing up.

Joseph and I continued training. At 5 in the morning, still dark, we would stumble out of bed and drive bleary eyed to the track. He would shine his phone onto the track as we did a warm up lap. Then I would stretch for about a minute, or however long it took him to take off his outer layers and strap on 4 wrist weights, each weighing 5 pounds. Then we would start. We ran in the dark. In the rain. In the fog. In the wind. I think the coldest weather we ran in was 13 degrees, 9 degrees with the wind chill. I had to do it in my biking shorts and a t-shirt. Why? I had to know I could do it. I knew California wouldn’t be that cold, so if I could run at 5:30am, in the dark, in 9 degrees, with 1 minute of stretching, I could run in California in 30 degrees, at 9:00am, in the light, with a few minutes of stretching instead. When you read that, you may think I’m crazy. But really think about Joseph. What in the world would possess someone to do that? I can only see it as evidence of God’s grace in my life. I am so thankful for my brother in law. I have tried to return that love and selflessness by taking him longboarding, or discussing and praying for things he is dealing with. Or just get him a sub at Subway.

That year of training was a real journey for me. I was constantly sick. I had a heel injury from something separate, knee pains, ankle pains, and constant tightness or cramps in my back. One day, when there was snow outside, I carried the bag on the treadmill. Afterwards, my back started to cramp. I tried to stretch then lay down to try to relax it. Bad idea. I couldn’t get up. It got worse. It eventually got to where if I breathed too fast, it would spasm. Jen had to roll me from my side, onto my back, so I could be a little more comfortable.

Another time, I started suffering from burnout. I was just physically and emotionally exhausted. One reason this has been so difficult is that there is no manual or advice on how to train for something like this. If you want to know how to train for a marathon, you can look online. Want to know how to train for a 5k, look online. Want to know a weightlifting routine, look online. But carrying someone heavier than you, for a mile, you’re on your own. It has been trial and error. How heavy? How often? How far? How much rest? I had found out what my limits were. I had to take a few weeks off. But I couldn’t take too much off. I had planned that I would do the attempt in California, over Christmas break. But now I knew how I had trained the previous year, and how much I had trained to get burned out. I had to do it so that I could hit the peak of what I could handle, right around the attempt.

The most important time of this whole process came one day when I was mad that I couldn’t carry Joseph that day. I was complaining about the situation, and if I should do the attempt or not, and why it was so hard to hear what God was telling me, and really just whining. Jen said in a gentle but straight-forward tone, “I don’t think it matters if you do it or not, though I think you should do it. But I think that what really matters is your heart, and how you do it. And your heart isn’t right.”

She was correct. I just sat there, assessing my heart. I told her she was right. I really gave it back to God that night. That was a breakthrough for me, as was the next morning. As my time had dropped, and got into the 11 and 10 minute range, I had always wondered if 10 minutes was possible. I knew it had to be. That next morning, I finally broke 10 minutes. I had trained for about 21 months and had finally broken a major goal. I knew I had broken the world record, but I wanted to know if it was humanly possible for me to break 10 minutes. I didn’t even fall down from exhaustion as I usually do. I just stood there after I set Joseph down. Fists clenched, yelling at the top of my lungs, in the dark, at 5:45 in the morning. It was awesome. After that, I consistently broke 10 minutes, even getting down to 9:42. I was finally really confident.

The next few months leading up to my second attempt were still a process of giving everything about the record to God, then taking it back, but it was better than it had been before. I still continuously struggled with not letting the record become an idol. I still also had to continuously check that I was not letting it take precedence over my relationship with Jen. But Jen knew I was trying, and she was so gracious and selfless during that time.

One silver lining to the cloud of not being successful the first time was that I was able to do my 2nd attempt in California with my family. But it gets better. About 6 months before, after not being able to decide who I would be able to carry, I decided maybe I could carry my dad. I talked to him about it, and found that he was only about 10 pounds heavier than I am. He said he would start training. Now if you think my training was ridiculous, just imagine, here is a 67 year old man, trying to train for a world record, to be carried, and he couldn’t even train with me. So, I shamelessly recruited my brother to carry my dad around the house. They would do this for longer and longer increments, so that my dad could get used to it. To train in less than optimal ways, so that he could be ready for however it would be with my shoulders digging into him, he would hang on the side of the bed of his truck, or on a branch, adjusting, moving, and increasing the length of time he would hold. God loves working in less than ideal circumstances. How much more is the praise, than if He gets us through situations that are seamless, perfect, and don’t even require us to ask for His help.

I am also blessed that one of my sisters really helped with the preparations, since I was here in Maryland. She contacted a university there in California to get permission to use the track, and contacted witnesses and timekeepers that I could use. She would write out lists of things she needed to do, and even remind me of things I had previously told her, that I had forgot.

Because of the time that I had off during Christmas break, we realized that I would only have enough time to practice with my dad, one time. Then I would need a few days to recover, before the actual attempt. If for some reason the attempt did not work or the weather was bad enough, we had enough time for a back up date, a few days later so that I could rest again. That was it. Additionally, it meant that I would have to carry my dad for that first and only practice, immediately after getting off the plane from flying all day. Talk about not ideal.

Christmas break came, and Jen and I flew in to California. That was a somewhat restless day. Here I was, only a few days from my 2nd world record attempt, and I could feel my fatigue, jet lag, nervousness, lack of sleep (I think it was about 4 hours that night). To top it all off, I still had to do my one practice with my dad.

After my parents picked us up from the airport, we drove 10 minutes to a local high school to do our practice. We got to the track with just a little daylight left, measured out the mile, stretched a little, then he jumped up on my back and we got started. It didn’t go that well.

My dad just wasn’t positioned correctly. He kept sliding down my back, somewhat pulling my torso backwards. He felt heavy. I felt tired. It was on a different track. He was different than the training partner that I had been using for 7 months. That was one of the most tiring carries I have done, but we ended up running a 10:45. Faster than the record, but over a minute slower than my best time with Joseph.

After we caught our breath, and slowly walked to the car, we discussed what was wrong. He had not placed one of his hands correctly on my back. I was so tired while running, that I didn’t want to stop to correct him. I know it sounds weird, but it can be sometimes almost too much energy to even just say a word. And I just wanted it done. When I would carry Jen, she would sometimes just smack her lips together, to make a kissing sound, to say she loved me. I would be so tired that I would just say, “Shhh.” I know that sounds mean, but it was like thinking about returning that act, or even saying, “love,” even just registering what she said and thinking about it, would seem like it would take way too much energy.

So after that run, my dad and I practiced the method I was used to. It felt so much better for both of us. He was shocked at how much more comfortable it felt. We were both so relieved. We set back on the road to go to their house, knowing we didn’t have another chance to practice, without allowing me adequate time to recover, but still very optimistic that we could do it.

When the day came, everything leading up to it went smoothly. I had plenty of sleep. We had all the equipment, and even though some witnesses did not show up, enough did so that we met the requirement by GWR. I was also able to have more than adequate video coverage. I think there were 5 different cameras set up. My sister helped manage the whole process, so that my dad and I could just prepare. The campus security even used their golf cart to go around the track with me, so that we could have smooth video. Talk about finding favor in other peoples’ eyes.

When the time came, my dad and I jumped on the scales. He was only 2 pounds heavier than I. Awesome. Not too close, but not too much heavier that I would be carrying a lot extra. After a practice start for my timekeepers, and a short prayer with my dad, sister and Jen, he jumped up on my back and we stepped up to the line.

The horn went off and I started running. I quickly made some small adjustments to how my dad was positioned, using just enough breath and energy to tell him, “Move your hand down. There. Hold tighter. A little looser.” He was set. That first lap flew by. But just before the end of it, I shuffled my dad a little and felt a muscle quickly tighten in my back. “Oh crap!” I try to lean just a little to stretch it. “Nope. Won’t work. You have got to be kidding. Maybe it will go away. Sometimes they do.” That lap, I had felt like I was going slow, but I ran it in 2:08. Way too fast. About 15 seconds faster than I usually would. I had to slow down.

I did slow down, but half way through the 2nd lap, I knew I was feeling very tired. That was always the first hard mental point, because I would know that I wasn’t even half way through, and it wasn’t going to get any better. But I expected those thoughts. I had prepared for them. I had practiced internally encouraging myself. I asked God to make me as strong as I needed to be. I told Him that I was doing what I loved to do. I was moving. What could he do through me? What could the human body do? What could I do? I told myself it was normal to feel tired at this point. But I also knew that I was a little more tired because of running faster on that first lap. Couple that with knowing that this was really only the first time my dad and I had got to run the way that we felt comfortable, and that the cramp in my back was getting worse, and the internal battle begun. It was just as hard as the physical battle.

The third lap is always a blur. “I’m tired. Just one more lap after this. Every second I get closer. Every step I get closer. Need to speed up. Not too fast. I can do this. Man I’m tired. What the heck am I doing? Man I’m an idiot. Am I just a glutton for punishment? What is wrong with me? This is awesome. I could do something no one has ever done. Keep going. Keep going.”

The fourth lap began and my legs were feeling heavy. It was hard to breath. Yes I only had 1 lap to go, but it was a whole third of the three laps I had already done? I am always thinking while I am exercising. Not just about how tired I am or how my form is, but doing math to see how much longer I have to go.

“Coming up on 1/8 of the way through the last lap. That is 25 out of 32.” As soon as I figure that out, I am coming up on ¼ of the way through the last lap. “OK, that’s 13/16.” I picture in my mind how far I am around the track, from an above view. “How many seconds did that last ¼ of a lap take? I started the lap at 7:30, and now it is 8:15. That’s 45 seconds! Dang it. Should have been 37 seconds. Need to speed up. So tired. I can make it without putting him down, but I probably won’t beat 10 minutes. Ok then Bret, you can still beat your time from the first attempt.”

Half way through the last lap, my time was 9:00. It should have been 8:45. I had to do the next half just as fast, to match my previous attempt, but I was so tired that I had been slowing down. Now I needed to maintain. “Here we go Bret. Every run you’ve ever done. Every time your dad took you to practice. Every work out you’ve done. Did you expect it to be easy? Keep moving.” Step step step. Back aching, I shuffle my dad a little, and almost stumble. “Woah. Can’t do that. Have to deal with it. Just under half a lap. Legs aren’t working properly. So stiff! Will your legs to move Bret. Move. Move! Keep going. Keep going. You can rest for the rest of your life. Stop whining. Man up.”

Coming up on the last quarter of the last lap. My time was around 9:40. I had sped up by about 5 seconds. “Ok Bret. Keep going. Speed up more. There you go! Just a little. Legs aren’t moving right, but keep going. Back is numb from the pain. Rest later. You can make it to the finish. Hold that pace. Hold. Breathe. Keep going.”

The people cheering were a muffled sound. “Was that my sister?” “That was my nieces voice.”

“C’mon Uncle B.”

Then I heard my dad. “All the way to the second line Bret.”

I pushed through and crossed the finish. I set my dad down as gently as I could, with the little energy I had, legs still not moving how I want them to.

Someone yelled, “10:21:71.”

I had done it. I had even beat the time from my previous attempt. Not 10 minutes, but I was OK with that. My dad and I both just laid there. Breathing. Done. I felt someone grab my hand. “Is that dad’s hand? Maybe. Man I’m tired.”

Eventually we got up to weigh ourselves again. I had lost half a pound. My dad got on the scale and he had supposedly gained half a pound. Someone joked that he must have been carrying a doughnut up on my shoulders. I agreed.

After my sister helped me through thanking everyone and talking a little about the experience, we cleaned up and went home. I enjoyed eating foods I had been abstaining from for months. I enjoyed the rest of the time during our vacation with my family. Not a worry in the world. It was done. Jen and I were so happy. I was so happy to have done it with my dad. I was happy to have broken the record. We were ready to get back to our normal lives. Whether it was made official or not, we were done.

We are waiting on some paperwork from the university, before we send everything to GWR. At this point, I am content not even sending anything. I know I have done it. But I have to. So many people helped me along the way. Whether it is ever made official or not, I know I have done it. It has been an amazing experience. One of growth, struggle, doubt, fear, anger, weariness, and joy. One of so many people showing love for me in different ways.

What about you? You don’t have to do something extraordinary. Just do something with what God gave you.

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Day 3497 – Posts I’m Proud Of – Reflections On Getting Arrested Ten Years Ago

Sharing about my alcoholism was a big deal a few years back, but the thing I held the most fear about was sharing that I had been arrested. Sharing that is a much bigger deal, but one that is a part of who I am and part of how I got to where I am today. Sharing my shortcomings and mistakes, AND being ok with that is a big marker of the growth I’ve had since I was arrested 12 and a half years ago.

You may have made some pretty big mistakes in your past, you may be hiding something that you just can’t share. As someone who has experienced it, sharing…even if just one on one with someone else, can really help someone else. If nothing else, it helps you feel not as alone in the world.

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Originally posted 9/16/16

Ten years ago at 1:59 a.m., I had a number of thoughts:
– I was so excited about my new job! It was my first “real” job. A 9-5 where I had to wear business casual and not a uniform.
– I really enjoyed working at Target.
– I should not be driving right now.
– I texted someone and said as much.

Ten years ago at 2:00 a.m., when I was pulled over, I had a number of thoughts:
– I shouldn’t have been driving.
– I shouldn’t have been texting.
– I should be ok, I didn’t have that much to drink.

Ten years ago around 4:00 a.m., after being officially arrested, I had a number of thoughts:
– I can’t believe this is happening.
– I can’t believe I blew a .13.
– I can’t believe I talked to the cop on the way back from the official breathalyzer test about thinking God wanted me to talk to him. How embarrassing.
– I can’t believe the cops at the station said I took a good mug shot.

Today, ten years after being arrested, I have a number of thoughts:
– I can’t believe I didn’t think I had a problem back then. I found a short survey I took for my court-mandated substance abuse classes. I scored an 11 out of 24. 9 or more meant probable alcoholism.
– I am SO thankful that God graciously helped me quit drinking cold turkey.
– I am so thankful I was pulled over that day. If I thought I was ok driving that day….I shudder to think what could have happened on the days prior that I knew I wasn’t ok to drive.
– I am thankful for those who stood by me through the last 10 years.
– I never thought I would put this out there publicly! I remember being SO scared about people finding out.
– I am thankful for work that doesn’t require me to check off a box – “have you been arrested” etc.
– I am thankful that I can now be a designated driver and not be mad about it.
– I am most thankful that alcohol doesn’t hold any power over me anymore. I always thought I wanted one of those stories….you know the kind…..drug addict, alcoholic, etc sees the errors of their ways and comes to Jesus and is completely saved from their vices. I always thought, well, my story isn’t that exciting….I grew up in a Christian home, gave my life to Christ very early and have clung to my faith ever since. I now know that is one of THE best testimonies. But, now I have both testimonies. 🙂

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Day 3496 – Posts I’m Proud Of – An Alcoholic Christian

For these last few days, I’m going to share posts that I’m most proud of, with some closing thoughts on each.

I think that the following post has been one of my popular, but I’m not sharing it because of that. I’m sharing it again because it marked a big shift in this blog and in my life. After I shared this, I realized how much sharing my struggles helped others. I realized that people were listening. As Thrice says “every scar is a bridge to someone’s broken heart” and I definitely found this after sharing this post.

I can’t wait to sink my teeth into my alcoholism memoir and share even more about my journey, my struggles, my sobriety. You can save my Amazon Author page for when that’s published.

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Originally blogged on 1/10/16

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Today I finally shared my testimony at church. It went SO well. I’m grateful for the process to get to the stage, all of the people who gave me advice and listened to me practice. I only cried at one part (more so in the first service!) which surprised me….but it was always the part I cried when I did cry.

It will be a few days/weeks until the video is online, but I figured there are some who have been waiting to hear the full story. Here is the text of what I shared.

“I am a recovered alcoholic. Not a typical term that you hear, I know. But I didn’t really like “recovering alcoholic” as if I will forever be a sober person struggling to stay sober, not changed completely by God’s work in my life.

I felt God prompting me to share this, even though this isn’t the “easy” testimony. I’ve thought about sharing this in some form or another since about a month or two after I quit drinking.

So why am I sharing it now? I think that what I have to say may help someone realize that if God is telling you to do something, He will give you the strength to walk through it. To fully understand how I got to this point, I have to take you back about 9 years.

I was working a retail job in 2006 and nearly every Friday night, I was out with my co-workers, getting drunk. I didn’t really drink a whole lot before this job, so for me to be going out every Friday night was not like me. But it happened so gradually, I didn’t notice.

In the fall of 2006 I was driving home from another late night at the bar. As I was driving home, I was texting someone saying “man, I should not be driving right now.” I say that and just shake my head at myself. Texting and driving AND drinking and driving. Well, thankfully, I was pulled over before anyone was hurt. I was arrested for a DUI. Having to call my mom to get me out of jail was probably one of the most humbling things I’ve had to do.

I had a few drinks in the weeks that followed, but my lawyer advised me to stop drinking. So I did. I was sober for a year after that. I went to court mandated group meetings and classes. Even sitting in the group, I didn’t think I had a problem. It was just a dumb mistake I made.

When my year of probation was over, I went out and celebrated with some friends….how? By drinking. Again, I look back and shake my head.

In the years that have followed, I haven’t been arrested again, but I have done some really stupid things.

I was so hungover at my best friend’s wedding, that she held MY flowers right before walking down the aisle so I could go throw up.

I’ve thrown up in my friend’s bushes during a party.

I’ve locked myself in the bathroom, at another friend’s house sobbing for nearly an hour because of a movie.

I’ve gotten drunk with clients two days before their wedding.

I’ve gone to church severely hungover.

I’ve snuck hard liquor and not told Bret how much I had to drink.

I’ve drunk cooking wine.

Up until I stopped drinking, on all but one of my getaways with Bret, I would drink myself silly, which cut the trip short and ruined the time.

I’ve missed several opportunities to witness about Christ because I had too much to drink to think clearly.

On the last night I drank, Bret and I were supposed to do evening devotions, but we didn’t because I was so intoxicated.

After many of these humiliating moments, I would swear off alcohol. I would be ashamed of myself. How could a Christian act like this? I’d tell myself I won’t drink again. I would journal and ask God’s forgiveness. Many times, if not every time, this verse came up:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8

Every time I read it, I’d mentally agree and think “this is it. I can do this.”

But then a few months would go by and I would think, “Oh it’s our anniversary,” “Oh, it’s so and so’s birthday,” “Oh! It’s Tuesday!” And there I was again, right back where I was before. It would start slow and then would be a full blown problem again. It was an endless cycle.

My breaking point was not that big of a deal, comparatively. I was watching TV with my mom, and because of the alcohol content, I drank essentially 7 and a half beers….in two hours.

The next morning, like many mornings before, I felt terrible about drinking that much. I again journaled my regrets. Again, “be sober-minded” came up in my devotions. But this time, I really started thinking seriously about it. Previously, I would swear off alcohol right away, but it wasn’t a serious commitment because I really didn’t think it through. This time, I weighed both sides and thought through things for several days.

I finally took my sin seriously.

I reasoned that what I lost by not drinking ever again was not even worth comparing to what I would gain. I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem. I finally admitted I couldn’t do this on my own. I finally surrendered myself to God’s way. I have been sober for about a year and a half.

Here’s what I’ve learned – God very patiently told me to quit drinking, but I didn’t listen for a long time. A VERY long time! When I did though, He very richly blessed me. I haven’t had a craving for alcohol. I haven’t been tempted to drink. I can be around people who drink. I haven’t second guessed my decision. I have found strength I didn’t know I had, His strength in me. It has become an easy thing. I listened to God’s command and I was blessed.

It breaks my heart to think that I have lost out on chances to share my faith with others because of drinking. It stinks that I showed a terrible witness of a Christian to those who didn’t know my Savior. But here’s what I know. Christianity is not about a bunch of perfect people who live perfect lives. It’s not about people who stop sinning when they’re saved. It’s about totally messed up, imperfect, screwed up people coming with absolutely nothing that makes them worthy, throwing up their hands and admitting that they don’t have it all together. It’s believing that Christ was a real person who was fully God and fully man, who came and lived a perfect life that we could not, and died a death to pay for the punishment of our sins, and rose again to defeat death.

The number one response people give when they hear I struggled with this is – I had no idea you dealt with this! It’s easy to hide sin, especially sin you’re ashamed of. I am not ashamed of my sin anymore. I’ve been excited to share because I know what it’s like to be ashamed of sin. I know how it feels to walk into church with downcast eyes. I know how it feels to think you’re the only one who struggles with something. Trust me when I say, you are not the only one who struggles. But I can now more fully say I understand forgiveness. I can more fully express that God is waiting with open arms to take us back. Even after we’ve fallen for the second time…the fiftieth time…the thousandth time.

Now that alcohol is not in my life, there’s room for God to be the most important thing. I now love to be near God, I have such a desire for him and his word. Because I’m not hungover, I can listen to sermons nearly every day and have clarity as I listen. Do you remember how I missed out on evening devotions with Bret? Well, now he’s listening to most of those sermons with me. Our faith is the number one thing we talk about now.

I am now able to be more alert, all the time, for opportunities to serve others. I am aware of the spirit speaking to me – now that he’s not muted by alcohol.

So while I had a terrible witness for 9 years because of drinking, because Christ paid for those sins I am now worthy to stand before a holy God.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

The God that made a way to forgive my sin is the same God that gave me the strength to finally give up a sin I’ve struggled with for over 9 years. He is more than able to give you the strength to finally give up the sin you’ve been struggling with.”

Thank you Daryl for taking this photo!

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