What Happened?!?

We had our annual Blow Up the Parking Lot event last night. For about 15 years we’ve been holding a sober event to give folks a safe place to celebrate Independence Day. We know it’s a day that can trigger addictions so we think it’s important to do. It started with a small propane grill with Bring Your Own Meat for about 10 in a dirt parking lot outside of a church and has grown over the years. now we have a couple hundred with copious amounts of free hot dogs, games, and a live band.

Each year we give the band a new name and this year’s collection of musicians was dubbed “What Happened?!?”. The idea being “Did you see What Happened at church on July 4th?” You get the idea, I’m sure.

We set the bar pretty low and typically get together the day of to run through a possible set list. The songs that work stay, those that need work get scrubbed.

So guess what happened this year? About 15 minutes before we were scheduled to go on we had a member who had an issue come up that kept them from being able to make it. Yikes!

Thankfully, we had another person at the event who played the same instrument. Unfortunately they were comparatively young for a band playing classic rock covers. But God has a way of doing things. After about 30 minutes to familiarize themselves with the songs they stepped up and stepped in. The show must go on.

Was it perfect? Nope, but it was never going to be. Was it good? I guess that’s in the ear of the beholder. Did it work out? Absolutely!

We are always going to be faced with challenges. Even on holidays. But if we keep out options open and our emotions in check God gives us so many different ways to…

Rise Up!!

Venus

I spent Father’s Day with my daughter in Hawaii. They live on the rainy side of the Big Island so we don’t see a lot of stars at night.I love the stars, but I always say that you can’t get a jungle without some rain, so it’s a fair trade off.

I took a walk too the mail box yesterday evening and saw something unexpected. As I turned away from the community mail box cluster I noticed a bright dot in the sky just above the clouds that had gathered on the top of the mountain. I was pretty sure I knew what it was, but being much further south than normal I wanted to be sure. I pulled out my iPhone and fired up the app that tells me what star I’m seeing. Now, I’ve seen Venus many times before and this sure looked like Venus, but the app was telling me that it was the paw of some dog constellation I had never heard of. I double checked and it kept coming back the same. Oh well, Southern sky and all, maybe this was something new. Before quitting I decided to see if there was some sort of hemispheric calibration that needed to happen.

There was…

Once I got the app working correctly it verified my initial thoughts. I was looking at Venus indeed. It was one of those moments that I just wanted to enjoy. I’d seen it before, but not in this setting. It was nice. I went in and got my grandson to show him a planet. He thought it was pretty neat too.

Recovery requires constant monitoring and thought. Sometimes we need to double check our settings in order to…

–Rise Up!!

There’s Venus, in the middle of and a little than those two trees.

Negative

I try to be positive whenever I can. Looking up has always been an important part of my walk. Especially in this space, I think it is one of the more important things to consider. So why is this post called “Negative”? Well, today, I’m really hoping to get a negative email.

It’s not what you might think. Sometimes it seems like it would be nice for someone to say that certain thing that would give me an “excuse” to go nuts. Sometimes I can feel myself searching for a slight so that I can fire back with every bit of pent up spite and anger that I can muster. This isn’t one of those occasions.

What I really want today is for a group called Health Gorilla to let me know that my COVID test was negative so that I can go to visit my family in Hawaii on Wednesday. It feels odd to say that I want something to be negative, but that’s the way these things work.

I’m going to try to keep that in mind as I muddle through life. Sometimes it’s good to look at things from a different perspective in order to…

–Rise Up!!

Kayak

I got up early this morning to go “on a boat” with my granddaughter. My daughter bought some one man kayaks recently and wanted to take us out on the lake when we visited their house. The three of us went out and had a great time. After cruising around and seeing some pelicans on the lake we headed in so that Grammy could have a turn.

Grammy paddled out and went off toward the other shore. I had to take a quick potty break so I didn’t see her leave. It took a little while and some clever phone conversation, but eventually she and I hooked up out on the southern shore of the Lake of the Woods. So far, so good.

Coming back in is where things began to unravel. The wind picked up. After that, the waves began to rise. As the lake got progressively more choppy, paddling became an exercise in futility. Bev and I both struggled, but it was especially had for her because she was getting blisters on her hands.

I was able to wriggle my way to the back of my kayak and somehow managed to tie the two “boats” together so that I could tow her in.

Even in the storm, we can join together to…

–Rise Up!!

Bev on the lake

Concrete Friendship

I have some friends that are fantastic. I mean really fantastic. We’ve know each other for years and our families are just family.

I am up in Portland visiting them for their daughter’s high school graduation. My friend is dealing with a lot of health issues which mean that he can’t do the things that he normally does. One of those things is extend his patio.

I spent the day in the middle of my 12th Step. I was giving back. I poured about a yard of concrete. I hurt. I’m exhausted. I’m sore.

I’m also thrilled. I feel so good about being able to help. Even though it might cause some issues, giving back is worth it. Give back so you can…

—Rise Up!!

Brrrrrr

Here I am in late May living in the Mojave Desert; it should be hot. However, not all things go as planned. This past week we had a strange storm blow through bringing wind a rather chilly weather. I actually had to bust out my jeans to work in the hot dog truck twice! Today, we are back to our normal temperatures.

Life mirrors life. My recovery is not always what I expect. Sometimes I get caught in a rut and just assume that things will happen in a certain way or order. That just isn’t always the way it goes though. We’ve got to be ready to pivot and turn. We need to roll with the punches that come our way. we need to anticipate, but be ready to adapt to the curves. In life and recovery you can either stay down or…

–Rise Up!!

Electric

I made a project for my wife for Mother’s Day. It was fun. It kind of brought back memories of being a kid and making something for Mom. This project wasn’t macaroni glues to a piece of paper and spray painted. It wasn’t a craft made from yarn. It wasn’t a picture created by my handprint with paint. None of those time honored gifts were made by me this year.

This year I took a piece of board and electrocuted it. That may sound odd, but that’s what we did. I have a friend who has a cool rig that allows for such shenanigans to become art. He took parts from an old microwave and odd bits of scrap lumber to help me create something beautiful.

The process is a bit long, so I’ll skip the detail, suffice to say we let the electricity arc on the surface of the board and it left pretty patterns which we filled with colored epoxy. I then used my Cricut machine to put a verse on it and voila!

God took my broken parts and pieces and made something beautiful. He saw the wreckage of my life and chose to repurpose it rather than throw it out with the garbage. Through recovery I have gone from rubbish to art. He’ll do the same for you too. He sees the future you. He’ll do the hard stuff, you just need..

—Rise Up!!

Shocking!…
Tada!

May the 4th be with You

Yes, I’m a day early, but that’s ok, I’m sure some folks won’t read this on Monday anyhow! For a Star Wars nerd and child of the 70’s such as myself, it’s just too much fun to pass on. it’s even better since my middle daughter was born on such an auspicious date.

Here’s the interesting thing though, she was never much of a Star Wars fan.

How often in life are we presented with opportunities that just don’t strike our fancy? Perhaps it’s a job that we don’t like. Maybe you love your house but hate your neighborhood. It could be the other way around. Who knows? What I do know is that there are plenty of situations that present themselves in my life that aren’t exactly as I would have them. Yet, it is what it is. Step 1 reminds me that my life is out of control and Step 2 teaches that the control lies beyond my grasp. We just need to face life as it is, and not as we would have it. So go out and face the world on this early May Monday morning. Find serenity. May The Fourth Be With You. And…

—Rise Up!!

Up By Stairs

It’s been said that confidence is something that goes up by stairs and comes down in an elevator. Working my steps proves this theory out. Day after day we work to put one foot in front of the next. Slowly, ever so slowly we make and even see some progress. Then comes a trip up which feels like going down on the elevator. Our confidence can flag. People’s opinions of us can diminish. Trust gets broken.

But just because we go down in that elevator does not negate the fact that the stairs are still there. They haven’t been removed. We can go right back to the same place and find them again. And when we find them we can use them. And as we use them again, we learn that we have more skills since the last time we trudged up. In fact, the more we climb those stairs, the stronger we get.

Have you found yourself on an elevator? Push that “Open Doors” button and find the stairs. Get off and…

—Rise Up!!

VAR

Video Assistant Referee, it’s the bane of many soccer matches on any given day. Look, I get that many, if not most (all?) of you don’t really care about soccer, but trust me, I’m going somewhere here.

My team in the English Premier League is Arsenal (for now, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish!). We play on weekends and since the games take place in jolly old England, it often means getting up rather early to watch a game. Yesterday we had a 5:30am kickoff.

I know that me getting up early, putting on my lucky clothes (which don’t get washed unless we lose), and parking in front of the tv guarantees absolutely nothing, but still, I feel like I deserve a win after that kind of Herculean effort.

My day started with a quiet celebration of an early goal. I was very happy, but the rest of the house was still sleeping, so I kept a lid on it. Then VAR threw a wet blanket in the festivities. It’s seems, upon review, that one of our players had a toe in an offside position before we scored. Seriously, a toe, not the whole foot, just a toe. Now instead of being up 1-0, we were back to a tie.

The whole thing with VAR is that it is supposed to fix “clear and obvious errors” in the game. I agree that the rule says that a player’s entire body must be behind the defender, but when everything has to be done in stop time footage with computer lines to see that one toe when over the line we have broken the spirit of the game.

In recovery (now he’s back on track…) we can often fall under the scrutiny of other people and their VAR. People love to monitor our activity and see how it matches up to their opinions. It can be discouraging at times. But one overturned call does not need to set the tone for the rest of the game.

We got “robbed” by VAR at the beginning of the match, but with about 60 seconds left we scored a goal to tie the game. It wasn’t the final result that we hoped for, but we made the best of the situation. Don’t let the VAR folks in your life bring you down. They serve a purpose. Just put your head down and…

—Rise Up!!