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Rising to Vulnerability

RiseBy: Jana Greene

Rising.

When I was a young mother and my children very small, I carried them on my right hip.  This went on long after they were able to walk by themselves, and so often that now  – all  these many years later – that hip has a tendency to jut out a bit when I am standing still. The youngest child in particular, I carried for a long time.

“Hold me up?” she would say in a tiny rasp, her small arms stretched upward.  In times of particular urgency, she would stand tiptoe for extra height and open and close her tiny hands rapidly, like the motions to the nursery rhyme about all the little stars, twinkling.  Of course I would pick her up…what else is a mother to do?  Her gesture acknowledged that she was small…that she wanted a better view of her world.

Fast forward a dozen years or so.  This little girl is in her teens, nearly grown –and trying to figure out who she is meant to be. And I, as her mother, am on a similar journey to find purpose, I suppose you could say.  Of particular fascination on this leg of the trip is the fairly recent tendency I’ve developed to be more open during worship at church.  Demonstrative, actually.  With the lights dimmed during service, praise music hammering with invitation to God to be present with us, in us…first come the tears. And then the hands.

I did not grow up a “hands-raiser”, or a “tongue-talker”.  I was raised swaddled in a quilt of various Bible-belt denominations, Baptist and Methodist chief amongst.  Shouting was for cheering at football games, “amen” was for saying grace at dinner, and hand-raising for students who had a question for the school teacher.  To shout in church was to call yourself out as a “Penty-costal”, to clap out of time was to call attention to yourself, and calling attention to yourself made you that thing which to was to be avoided in order to self-preserve: vulnerability.

But now, not caring who was witness to my worship, I wonder why? Why when falling to my emotional knees, did I try to stifle raising my arms?  Why did I question my own motives for worshiping in such a manner?

Choking with tears, I remembered my baby daughter’s pleas with outstretched arms. And the urgency, in times she felt the most overwhelmed. Or restless. Or too weary to walk. Was she raising her hands up to me in order to receive? Surely, yes.  But also because I was so much taller than she, my vantage point offering an entirely different view. The action of lifting her tiny arms to me made her vulnerable.

The first time I raised my hands to God, I was vulnerable, too. But there is wild, unexpected abandon in vulnerability.

“Pick me up so I can see, Daddy!” is what my spirit says, in the most raw and relinquishing of times – when I feel smallest with no need to self-preserve.  “Carry me”.  Certainly, a request made to receive his lifting-out, but also in the purest form of worship….the kind in which my spirit calls the shots, and my body must obey.

And He always, always picks me up.

What else is a Father to do?

Alcohol, Grace, and Me (an addict’s journey)

testimony

By: Jana Greene

My name is Jana and I’m recovering alcoholic and follower of Jesus Christ.

While I was preparing my testimony to share and was feeling super nervous about sharing it, God knew,  because he led me to this in the Mirror Bible translation from 1 Corinthians 2:1-4:

“My intention in visiting you was not to engage with you in theological debate or to impress you with clever words guessing about the evidence of God.

The testimony of God is my only persuasion concerning you: Jesus Christ died your death on the cross! I CAN SEE YOU IN NO OTHER LIGHT.

I felt completely inadequate; you now that it was not my eloquent speech that persuaded you. I was so nervous that my whole body was trembling with stage fright!

My message was not with persuasive arguments based on secular wisdom, since my aim was not to point people to me, but rather to the powerful working of the Spirit in them.”

So, thanks, God. I needed that. I pray the Spirit will speak through me.

One of my first memories is trying to squeeze into my toy box. I couldn’t have been quite two years old. My parents were teenagers and were fighting in the living room. I know they did the best they could, as they were kids themselves, and I always sensed that I was kind of a mistake everyone in the family was just trying to make the best of.

Even scared and hiding in my toy box then, I knew I wasn’t alone. I felt a presence with me.

At three years old, I went to live with my grandparents when my parents divorced, where I would stay until I was 7. It was a pretty happy home.

I learned that the world was a crueler place still when I was four. The father of the kid I played with next door molested me. It happened again by a female babysitter when I was six, and by three other men before I was 12. When I was 9, it was by a family member.

At home, the atmosphere was chaotic and sometimes violent, and I was riddled with anxiety even as a youngster. There was always fighting, and sometimes abuse.

I tried to stuff all of this down and make myself very small. But I didn’t know that when I grew up, I learned how to numb it instead.

At 12, my life changed forever at a Billy Graham crusade. When I walked down the stadium steps to accept Jesus and pray with a volunteer, I felt Jesus was fidgeting with anticipation to meet me, and I thought maybe I was not a mistake after all. I will never forget the song that played as I walked down:

Just as I am and waiting not

To rid myself of one dark blot

To thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

Oh Lamb of God, I come.

Throughout high school, I managed to make good grades and stay chaste and never drank a drop of alcohol. I carried a Bible to school with me each day. I organized a Bible study with my friends. I was the quintessential ‘good girl,’ on the outside, at least.

I knew scripture, but I didn’t know grace, neither giving nor receiving it.

At 18 and in the middle of my senior year, my family and I moved to North Carolina. I now had a two year old sister and seven year old brother that I helped care for often. They were the lights of my life. A life that – at home – was more chaotic than ever.

I was waiting tables and started tailgating late after each shift, and at 19 I took my first drink. I was just physically, emotionally, spiritually toast by that point. To hell with the ‘good girl,’ I thought.

I just wanted to stop feeling.

From the very first sip, I felt another compilation of emotions. I believe I had eight Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers that night. I remember thinking “If this is what it feels like to be drunk, why isn’t everyone drinking all the time?”

Alcohol was like ‘other than’ potion.

If things were bad at home, I could feel other than afraid.

If I was feeling compulsive and self-destructive, I could drink to feel other than myself.

Other than socially awkward and full of anxiety.

Other than a mistake.

It helped blot out the bad memories.

Thereafter, I drank every day, and heavily. I regularly drove impaired, often getting lost in my own neighborhood. How I never harmed myself or others on the road, I do not know. By the Grace of God, I suppose.

Every ‘good girl’ value I had prided myself in (pride really does come before a fall…) had dissolved and without a moral compass, promiscuity ensued. Blackouts were how I fell asleep. This scared me enough to seek help.

At 20, I first darkened the door of an AA meeting, and it was like I’d arrived on the planet I was meant to have been born on. Other people understood the powerlessness against alcohol! That group loved me when I could not love myself. I attended every day, got a sponsor, and stayed sober three glorious months.

I even found my Bible still packed away in a box and began to read it again.

Then I went on a date with a man and he ordered me wine with dinner. I bravely told him that I didn’t drink, and he assured me that there was no way I was an alcoholic and that he was sure I could moderate.

Ah, a challenge! I do love a challenge.

I allowed a man I’d known for a week take my inventory. Consequently, I drank so much that night that I threw up in his car, passed out, and woke up somewhere unfamiliar. That began another downward spiral.

I soon found myself pregnant and was devastated. I’d always wanted to be a mom, but not like this. This staunchly pro-life girl felt pressure to have an abortion, and I was scared. I had nowhere to go. But by the time I got to the doctor’s office, the baby had no heartbeat detected and after the D & C, I felt like a shell.

I drank constantly after that. I hated myself with a fervor. I lost touch with God again.

Within a year, I married the man. I was just 21.

In two years’ time – in which I drank every day and usually to excess (and often alone) – I started to desperately want a baby.

So the most amazing thing happened – I stopped smoking and drinking cold turkey and it was not that difficult because all of my energies went into creating and nurturing a new life, and not my own. I didn’t think my own life was worth nurturing, but that epiphany wouldn’t surface until much later.

When my daughter was born, I fell so in love with her that drinking was the last thing on my mind. The motherhood high had cured me! Three years later, I had another daughter – every bit as beautiful and amazing as the first, and the motherhood high doubled that day.

For six years, I didn’t have a single drink, as I was pregnant or nursing. But around 1997, I decided that when my kids were tucked into bed at night, I would simply have a glass of wine. I had matured now, right?

Instantly, I fell right back into six or seven per evening, picking up right where I’d left off. Wine is the socially acceptable beverage of moms everywhere, I rationalized. (What IS it with moms and WINE?)

Soon after, we moved to the coast and became immersed in the drinking culture of beach living. By 1999, I was drinking heavily every afternoon and evening, and during the day on weekends. I tried moderating over and over, only to wake up angrier and angrier with myself for not managing it better. I sometimes polished of a box of wine every night or two.

The whites of my eyes were yellowing, I began getting sicker. Nobody – including my husband at the time – knew how much I was drinking. Nobody needed to know. But I was not the mother my girls deserved.

I begged God to help me moderate.

By 2000, I was becoming very sick. It was no longer any fun to drink. It no longer made me feel ‘other than’ the bad things and instead amplified them. I started putting alcohol above all else. I wanted to stop, yet ironically, I found I could not.  I required it to stop the shaking.

My body knew when to expect it and demanded it on time, yet revolted it when I drank and I was vomiting every day.

The drinking life I’d romanticized turned on me.

A couple of years ago, I came across an old journal from the time. I’d titled the entry “I can touch bottom now.”

Please Jesus, please. That was my prayer last night. Crouched down against an unfamiliar toilet in the home of the hostess of the company Christmas party. How did I let this happen AGAIN?

I tried to pace myself, but by the sixth or seventh drink, I casually wove to the bathroom and locked the door behind me. I told myself to vomit quietly, but I kept forgetting where I was and who was with me in the bathroom. I could FEEL someone in the room but it was hard to focus. I wished they’d leave, seeing me at my worst like this. After a while of retching, I noticed that I’d lost my shoes. Where were they?

GET UP, I told myself. GET UP AND FAKE SOBER….but when I looked in the mirror my eyes held the long, strange gaze. My dead eyes, rimmed in crimson and makeup sloughed off with sweat. Since I work at the school, my coworkers are the teachers and staff at my children’s elementary. They couldn’t know my secret!

After a while, I feel the first twinges of becoming more a tiny bit sober and it is immediately uncomfortable.

When I can stand up without weaving, my thought process is simple:

I am thinking, “I just need one drink, that’s all. That will steady me out.”

Before the night is over, the Art teacher will try to wrestle my keys from my hand, so that I cannot drive home, but I do it anyway.

That’s the crazy thing. I keep doing it anyway.

I’m so tired.

So, that is my ‘bottom story’. I know enough about recovery to know it doesn’t have to STAY my ‘bottom story.’ If I pick up again, I risk a more tragic ending. The good news is that getting into recovery is not the end of the story, but the beginning.

My date of sobriety is January 3, 2001.

On that day, two weeks after that party, God again met me on the bathroom floor. This time, my own. As I lay on the cold tile, I asked God to help me and surrendered my will entirely.

And in this full surrender mode, I asked Jesus to please save my life. And in one crystal clear moment, I knew he was with me, scrunched down on the floor, holding me. Not only with me, but in me.

In this broken vessel.

“Just as you are, remember?” I could feel him say.

I knew without a doubt that it had been he who was with me in the bathroom at the party, and as a child hiding in my toy box, and a million other times of peril.

To be honest, I didn’t expect sobriety to ‘stick.’ I didn’t think I deserved it to.

The first few weeks of sobriety were almost unbearable. God and I had ”words’ on many occasions. I was sick, inside and out. My body screamed for alcohol. I informed Jesus that I COULD NOT DO THIS, and yet I relied on him solely and he carried me through. My detox included hallucinations. The devil constantly reminded me that ONE drink would make them all go away. “You’re a liar,” I told him. “I’ve never had just one drink.”

All of my energies now went into creating and nurturing a new life – mine.

I did meetings and got online support from other women alcoholics. That’s where the healing started. I asked God to restore my children and help me be the mother they deserved. Eventually, my eyes and skin lost the yellow tint.

I have had to erect boundaries with people I loved in order to maintain sobriety, and knock down other walls to make room for healthy trust to sprout. I’m still always learning.

To this day, I take it one single day at a time.

I would love to say that I’ve been completely delivered – and I know addicts who received instant healing – but my recovery is daily. My default setting is often to want to numb out. Food tends to be my drug of choice these days. That’s a slippery slope for me because I’ve resorted to bulimic behaviors in the past. My program helps me apply the 12 Steps to many areas.

I also struggle with major co-dependency issues. Recovery is truly like peeling an onion; one layer is exposed at a time. But you can deal with one layer at a time with God’s help. I get by with a LOT of help from my friends, too.

Although God can heal us by any mode, I’m grateful that my recovery requires me to willfully surrender to God each and every day. That’s a sheer gift, because it keeps me humble, having to stay in constant contact with Holy Spirit, in and around me.

In 2007, I married the love of my entire life after meeting him in church. He is my best friend and biggest supporter. My precious daughters are 22 and 25 now, and we are very close. They are very proud of their mama’s recovery. They call me a good mom. They call me a strong woman. That’s not getting what I deserved. That’s the magnitude of the grace of the Father!

We are very open about our struggles. Stigma has no place in our family.

I discovered Celebrate Recovery in 2008, when the pastor of a church I was attending asked myself and another sister in Christ if we would train as CR leaders. We did, and over the course of two years, I was blessed to be a part of launching two CR groups in Wilmington. I love this program. We are tribe – a safe place to come and be honest.

Life, as they say, marches on. It is not always easy.

In the past several years, I have had to contend with an incurable and painful chronic disease. I’m not sure I’d still have my sobriety if not for CR. The journey through this illness has resurrected that urge to default by numbing. I rely on the program to keep me grounded, and the people in it to take my hand.  It has taught me so much. The 12 Steps apply to so many situations. The pain has somewhere to go.

I’ve accepted that I don’t ‘do’ moderation, in any way, shape, or form, but I’m learning. The up side to an addictive personality is that I don’t love with moderation. There is nothing moderate about my love of Jesus. I just have to tell you about it because it saved my life.

God has fulfilled a lifelong goal, in that I have become a writer and penned two books on recovery. Sharing my story is part of what keeps me clean and emotionally healthy. I also write a blog dealing mostly with recovery issues – TheBeggarsBakery.net.

In 2015, the folks from the 700 Club called asking if they could come film my testimony to air as a segment on the show. On Leap Day 2006, it did air. Talk about surreal!

For someone who never expected her sobriety to ‘stick,’ God has opened so many doors.

I the summer of 2016, I became a Certified Recovery Coach and a North Carolina Certified Peer Support Specialist. I’m currently in seminary at a very grace-based college. I love learning about the infinite grace of Jesus and the love of the Triune God. At nearly 50, I am hoping to get my Bachelor’s degree in substance abuse in a year or two.

It’s never too late.

These days, I rarely crave the feeling of ‘other than,” because I’m more comfortable in my own skin. But when it does happen, I’m equipped with my tools to get through it and the support of friends who GET it.

It’s such a gift to have a place to go where people understand you. They know that whether you are bruised and beaten by your own compulsions or a victim of somebody else’s, the answer is the same: Jesus.

He wants to clean out all of the childhood and life crud and hurt that has built up. It’s kind of his specialty.

Last January, I picked up my 16 year chip at a Celebrate Recovery meeting. I am baffled. What a long, strange trip it’s been – and a wonderful one. I would not be alive had I not surrendered my will to God on that bathroom floor all those years ago.

I still have to stay on my toes. Life is often so difficult, and our disease will not be taken for granted. It’s been a lot of hard work. I remember when 24 hours seemed impossible. It was done one single day at a time, and still is.

If you cannot relate to any other aspect of my story, that’s ok.

Just know this: YOU are designed to be in relationship with our perfectly good, full-of-grace Father.

Christ died your death on the Cross! I CAN SEE YOU IN NO OTHER LIGHT!

My life verse is Romans 8:1. From the Message translation:

“With the arrival of Jesus the Messiah, the fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous,, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of Life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”

Thanks for letting me share ❤

There’s no Graduating from Addiction (and why that’s a GOOD thing)

The Beggar's Bakery

Present tense

By: Jana Greene

I follow a support board on Facebook that consists of women alcoholics and addicts. In a recent post, a member asked this simple question: “Do you think a person can ever say they’ve recovered from their addiction.” Out of 129 responses, there was only three ‘yes’ answers. And there’s a reason for this:

Addiction is a lifelong condition.

“Yeah, but….” you might be thinking. Consider the alcoholic uncle who just gave booze up cold turkey, after declaring that he just woke up one day and lost his taste for it.

Bully for Uncle Herbert. I’ve heard tell of people like this; I’ve just never known one.

For most of us, it takes work – and a lifetime of it. But the alternative is doing the same self-destructive thing over and over and expecting a different result. That’s the definition of insanity. At the end of the day…

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The Thing about Ruts

By: Jana Greene

Greetings, readers. Tonight I wrote about getting out of the negativity rut. So here is the brain purge of the day (and a heart purge, too.)  God bless us, every one.

We live about a mile from the Atlantic ocean, as the crow flies. Even though it’s super close, to get there, you have to drive around a while. There is a monumental body of water called the Intracoastal Waterway that you must cross via bridge. Our town is one of the few places left on the East coast that you can actually drive your 4-wheel drive vehicles right onto the beach. The stretch of coast is simply called “The North End.”

During the summer, we locals lay low and stay away, because the strip of beach you can drive on is a huge cluster-bleep. Trucks and other utility vehicles crammed into every square foot of beach. Thousands of tourists. No thank you very much.

But in the Fall and Spring – and even in Winter – riding in a jeep on the sand is a blast.

Until it isn’t.

The beach – like the ocean – is never the same place twice. As you drive down to the southern-most tip of the island, the dunes are on your left. Lush with sea oats and grass, they are roped off from traffic. To your right, the majesty of the sea. Sometimes it is blue and foamy, and other times a vast ocean of green. It looks brown, too, when the sediment below gets riled by a hurricane  or tropical storm; choppy and angry and dangerous.

I have ridden on the beach many times in our old jeep. Just 10 years ago, it was great fun. I loved going there with My Beloved and unzipping the clear, plastic windows so that we could smell the sea as we jostled about.

It isn’t as much fun anymore. It makes my hurting body hurt badly.

There are times when the drive-able sand is flat as an asphalt highway, and times the sand is mountainous and soft. A different landscape every visit.

One of the risks you undertake by driving on the North End is getting your vehicle stuck in the deep sand. Nearly every time we are there, someone gets standed.

For reasons that I do not understand, men take getting stuck / unstuck VERY seriously. And they take a hit right in the pride if they are unable to work themselves out of the ruts. It causes extreme embarrassment when they are the stuck-ee.

The opposite of getting stuck is being a hero. This designation occurs when you help another driver out of a rut. So far as I can tell, the Man Rules for this scenario looks like this:

You happen upon some poor sap stuck in the sand. His wheels are spinning and spinning, but cannot get any traction. This is not a deterrent. He keeps spinning.

You watch him for a while, perhaps a little smugly.  Not only did you NOT get stuck in the rut yourself, but you might get the opportunity to pull someone else OUT of one.

Pulling alongside the dude whose tires are knee-deep in tightly packed tread, you offer your standard greeting (‘Sup?’) and ask if you may help him, all whilst assuring him that it’s “no problem,” and that you have been stuck on the North End yourself. Several times.

You drive your jeep just ahead of his truck, pull out some chains from the back of your own car (beach-driving men always have chains in their vehicles, for just such an occasion,) hook his front bumper to your rear trailer hitch, and engage all four wheels  slowly and deliberately. You have to be careful not to slip the clutch. Sand flies up behind your tires like crazy, but within minutes, your new buddy is being towed out of the rut. Once he is free, you get out of your car and ask him if he needs any further assistance, and he says “no,” thanking you repeatedly.  Assure him that you were glad to help

Here comes the inevitable analogy: I’ve been in a rut. Not in sand, but in spirit. My chronic health issues and pain have hijacked my whole life. I am almost never well, and this has been going on for nearly a decade, slowly worsening. Most of the time, I feel like I am either getting a migraine, having a migraine, or getting over a migraine. I have very little collagen and thus many of my joints sound like gravel with every step I take. Many of my issues will not resolve (thanks, genetics….) and that’s just the facts, and I don’t like it. This is the new normal. I’m thankfully married to an amazing man who looks after me and takes good care of me, but I imagine it wears on him as well. This – as they say – is not what he “signed up for.” Except that it IS, because he signed up for me, whatever that looks like.

God bless him.

This situation, combined with other circumstances in the past few years, have made me a little negative. Okay, a lot negative. Dealing with pain, and life drama – one thing after another – it takes a toll.

So excuuuuse me if I’ve allowed my ills to affect my attitude. Unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes (which I know many of you dear readers have similarly done) you just don’t know how taxing chronic illness is.

Some days I feel like I handle it like a superhero, and other days, I’m quite the whiny little bitch about it. I wake up every day expecting the worst, because otherwise I’m disappointed with the day’s challenges. Expecting the other shoe to drop continually will give you grade-A anxiety of the highest order. It’s a deep rut, and I feel like I’m just spinning tires.

That’s the thing about ruts. The same old, same old.

I genuinely want to be a positive person, and sometimes I am. I love my life, and am blessed beyond my wildest dreams, compliments of 17 years recovery from alcoholism. I have great faith in Father God, and a twisted sense of gallows humor to cope whenever my faith falls short. God is my chain-maker and chain-breaker. It’s pretty amazing to know that the Creator of the universe has got my back, no matter how deep of a rut I’m buried in. He is glad to help.

I think it’s time I pull out the chains and start making a concerted effort to be less negative. And I am reminded again of the Serenity Prayer:

…”God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Hmm. The “wisdom to know the difference” is key here. What amongst the litany of complaints and struggles is under my control?

Genetics I cannot change.

The shitty state of the world, I cannot change.

The co-dependency cycle, in which I agonize over the choices of those I love until I work myself into a frenzy?

I can’t change the actions of others, but I can change my reaction to them.

In the interest of self-care, here are some things I can have the courage to change, God willing:

Engage all four wheels, and pull somebody else out of a rut.

Start physical therapy for my wonky joints, and stay the course rather than give up.

Cut myself a damn break every once in a while and be less self-critical.

Make healthier food and exercise choices, insofar as my joints allow the strain.

And I can wake up in the morning and have the name of Jesus on my lips first thing; instead of expecting the worst.

I may not be able to bounce along in the jeep on the North End anymore, but I sure as heck can pack a beach chair, a picnic, and a book, and park my butt on the beach – one mile away, as the crow flies.

I’m tired of being the “stuck-ee” and ready to pull up my hero pants.

Who’s with me?

Don’t Blink, Mama. It Goes too Fast.

don't blink mama

By: Jana Greene

So you’ve joined the club of Motherhood,

You have a sweet baby at last.

Your body still groaning from birthing your child,

Don’t blink mama, it goes too fast.

When you wake for midnight feeds,

Bleary-eyed yourself,

Savor the world where only you two

Are the world, there’s  nobody else.

To every coo and cry and smile

You quickly become attuned.

Memorize those dimpled hands,

They’ll be holding a crayon too soon.

Before you have the time to think

Your baby’s a ‘terrible two.’

Hold tight, Mama, this too shall pass,

The trials always do.

Tantrums in the grocery store,

And before you can blink,

The Tooth Fairy is coming to call

It goes by faster than you think.

Milestones come rapid-fire,

Kindergarten’s here,

Drop her off at school and then

Go home and shed a tear.

The early years go by so fast

You scarcely have time to know

That your baby isn’t a baby now,

Who told you how fast she would grow?

Before you know it, she’s a tween

“Who IS this child?” you’ll say.

Buckle up, Mama, you’ll get through,

Tomorrow’s another day.

The next thing you know, she’s a teenager,

Full of angst and woe,

It will harken the days of the “terrible twos,”

Take heart, she has time to grow.

The early days of dimpled hands

And nursing by moonlight,

Those memories will see you through,

When parenting feels like a fight.

Oh to watch her find herself,

The pride in who she’s become!

Members of the Motherhood Club,

You’ve officially come undone.

The secret that nobody says

But I’ve found is very true,

Is that your baby is her very own person,

And not a extension of you.

You’ve nurtured, taught, and guided,

And now it’s her own turn,

To figure out this thing called life,

On her own (and very different) terms.

Now you’re a veteran parent,

Battle-scarred and rife

With sweet assurance that she still needs you

In her grown-up life.

Dynamics change, my friend, you see,

The stages never last,

But one day you’ll call your child ‘friend,’

Don’t blink, Mama. It goes so fast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIERCE Recovery – GRAND OPENING!

bannerBy: Jana Greene

Hello, Friends. Pull up a chair and get a cup of coffee!   WK8TXj6LKF2HxHp9sC2zfTGLCR9CwR-right_540x

My husband and I have just launched our new company, FIERCE Recovery, Inc. We have designed some awesome recovery swag, created specifically to invite conversation about addiction, and help normalize recovery.

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(Cat not included) 🙂

Here is the link to the store: MyFIERCERecovery.com.   

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We believe that a FIERCE Recovery is Faith-Filled, Intentional, Engaging, Restorative, Celebratory, and Empowered.

**Please see all of our T-shirt slogans at the bottom of this blog post. All – and more – are in stock in our store. There are choices for the loved ones of people in recovery, too. A show of support is always welcome!**

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I am currently writing a book titled “FIERCE Recovery,” which will center around  strategies for a savage and strong recovery life. I hope to publish it by the end of this month. It will also be available at MyFIERCErecovery.com.

My vision for the company is to add yet more features and inventory. Keep checking back!

I’d love to add videos about recovery issues, and put my Recovery Coach 10241_5561_0_dc85400e-73f0-4d7b-81fb-e8acbb5076e1_1024x1024@2xcertification to use! So many ideas…

Please consider joining my FIERCE Facebook page for updates and new merchandise updates. FIERCE RECOVERY FACEBOOK PAGE

Getting and staying clean is a completely badass and brave thing to do.
Let’s celebrate it!
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Please follow us on Instagram: MyFIERCErecovery

Twitter:@FIERCErecovery

YouTube Channel: My FIERCE Recovery on YouTube

As always, thank you from the bottom of my heart. ❤

Here are our custom slogans, which appear on the back of the shirts (the logo is displayed on the front:

back_cc8ad985-f00d-400e-97fc-7a692aa10090_540x  back_aaafa51d-780f-4b48-8c82-cb1dfc15dda1_540xback_76deb017-a131-46d3-ad19-26d87cb8f0a9_540x

1 pixkin up chips

5 those people2 Acronym

4 got up 8     3 Brand new day

5 Skewer

See below for our shirts made especially for friends and family to wear in support of the recovery lifestyle:

(available in many sizes and colors – the purple shirt is an example of our shirt with no lettering on the back)

The Beggar’s Bakery is Six Years Old!

six

By: Jana Greene

Holy cow! It just dawned on me that this blog is six years old today. I remember the first week I started writing, 45 people (all friends and family) followed it. I was positively astounded that 45 people would care to read what I had to say. Even though some of them were related to me. 😉

Six years later, I’m astounded that nearly 2,000 people follow this blog. I finally feel like the training wheels are coming off, and it’s a beautiful feeling of gratitude and adventure.

From the (now) cringe-worthy first posts, to the gut-spilling TMI special editions, one thing is responsible for keeping it going:

YOU.

I cannot thank you enough for your readership, your comments, your sweet messages. I’m grateful and humbled by it all.

There are some really, really big changes and news in the coming weeks, and I can’t wait to share it with each of you! I have to keep a lid on it for right now, but stay tuned!

To celebrate the birthday of the blog, I welcome your input going forward.

What content do you most enjoy reading? The main categories are:

Spirituality

Addiction recovery

Marriage / family

Humor

Grace

Feel free to comment and let me know!

And again, thank you for following me.

You guys are the BEST.

Goodnight, Billy Graham. And Thank You.

  • Billy-Graham-Praying
    By: Jana Greene

     

    It was in the Fall of 1981. Rice Stadium in Houston was packed to the gills. I’d been invited by a dear friend (who is still a good friend) to attend a Billy Graham. crusade. The whole youth group piled onto an activity bus for the shuttle ride.

    The cool kids congregated in the back of the bus. I sat right behind the bus driver.

    Two months shy of my 13th birthday, I was just old enough to join youth group. I remember so many little details about that evening, which is odd because a lot of my childhood I’d just as soon as forget.

    I honestly cannot tell you what I had lunch yesterday, but I can recall every nuance of that evening in 1981. It is as though all of my senses were tingling – there was charge in the air.

    I remember the loud grumble of the bus, and the smell of diesel fuel (mingled with Love’s Baby Soft perfume, which we girls regularly doused ourselves with.)

    The brightness of the stadium lights.

    The cold hardness of the bleachers.

    The scent of buttery popcorn from the concession stand.

    The itchiness of the sweater I’d worn, because it because the weather in Houston was actually cool for a change.

    At the stadium, I remember that there was an electric buzz in the atmosphere  – a kind of spirit-hum that kind of vibrated in all of us. It seemed to resonate in the whole stadium, in every soul. I’d never felt anything like it, and rarely have I ever experienced again. We took our seats and settled in, most of us just as interested in the cutest boys in youth than on Rev. Graham’s message. The stadium lights were nearly blinding,  but as he spoke, I forgot about the cute boy in youth (his name was Rick, and he only listened to the band “Rush,” alas, a story for another time.)

    In his booming yet gentle voice and North Carolina lilting accent that I would so come to love as a North Carolinian myself later in life, Billy Graham distracted us all from or wriggling, twittering, self-absorbed teenage selves by introducing us to this revolutionary concept of absolute GRACE.

    Many of us had never heard about true grace, even in the Southern Baptist churches we’d been reared in. Hellfire and brimstone – that we knew.

    I listened and was overcome with a peace that passed all of my young understanding. I was a broken kid, from a broken home.

    So confident was Rev. Graham in his message, that I became confident in God, too. Not the god I’d prayed to for years, but the real and tangible God.

    The Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end.

    After the service that evening, the Reverend invited all those who wanted partake in the grace of God to come down the bleachers and pray with members of his prayer team. It was like an altar call on steroids – more of the people in attendance made their way down to accept this crazy anointing as did not.

    Grace – ours for the taking, all we had to do was accept it, to take what seemed to me an impossible risk: Believing on the basis of the stirrings of my spirit, and nothing else. Risky. Scandalously risky. But I made my way down in a sort of floating transport. I don’t remember navigating the steep stadium steps; only that I positively knew Jesus Himself was fidgeting with anticipation to love on me through the prayers of strangers.

    There was a song playing in a continuous loop as I approached a prayer volunteer. I didn’t mind hearing the refrain a hundred times. As thousands of voices joined in from all around, I wished it would never end.

    “Just as I am – and waiting not
    To rid my soul of one dark blot,
    To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
    -O Lamb of God, I come!

    Just as I am – though toss’d about
    With many a conflict, many a doubt,
    Fightings and fears within, without,
    -O Lamb of God, I come!”

    I was never the same after that experience. I knew that I knew that I knew it was Truth.

    I was never the same, but unfortunately,  still completely human.

    I still kissed boys on church mission trips.

    I still grew up to be an alcoholic. In my drinking years I did some awful things.

    Life happened, and parenthood happened, and marriage happened. Chronic illness, battles with anxiety and depression. And now I’m nearly 50, and still don’t have my sh*t together.

    But had I not accepted Christ at a Billy Graham crusade in 1981,  I might never know that even for prodigal daughters, the arms of Jesus are always and ever open to embrace this broken girl. I might never have known He would make me whole a million times and with a smile on his radiant face.

    A couple of years ago, I was fortunate to attend a Christian blogger conference in Asheville, North Carolina – not far from Reverend Graham’s birthplace. The facility – run by Billy Graham Ministries – that hosted the event is called “The Cove.” In the multi-building complex, there are mementos of the Reverend where everywhere.

    In one of the buildings, there was a museum of sorts. Included in the displays were personal artifacts of the Graham family – a family that I (and so many others) felt a part of.  There was an odd but wonderful ambiance of peace. It kind of made me feel like I’d come home.

    Billy Graham passed away today. Alas, he really is home. I’ve no doubt Jesus is hugging him tight, but the rest of us left here have suffered a loss.

    He was one man, on one mission. Humble and empowered by the Holy Spirit. But what a difference he made in this world!

    If I could tell him one thing, it would be this: Thank you.

    Thank you, Reverend Graham… for making it okay for me to come to the throne of God just exactly as I am.

    Even with many a conflict and many a doubt.

    Thanks for being the messenger that delivered the concept of boundless grace to my young heart. Fighting and fears within, without  – because that’s how God rolls, infinite in his mercy.

    And tell Jesus ‘thank you’ as well, for lending you to us.

    Rest in well-deserved peace.