Changing The Settings

I woke up at 4 this morning.

I have a math test later but that’s not why I’m up.

I decided to play Spider Solitaire to pass the time. I haven’t played in a while and I was having a lot of trouble. I usually don’t have this much trouble and then I realized why. Someone had reset the settings to Advanced. I play Beginner so I set them back and went on to an enjoyable challenge.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could reset other things in life?

What if I could go back and reset my brother’s response to our father’s death? What if instead of trying to drown out the incredible pain with alcohol I could reset his coping mechanism to reliance on God? I’ve always said I wouldn’t change my life because it made me who I am and I’m pretty comfortable with this strong person who depends on God for her strength but once in a while …

I’d rather have a family than strength.

Once in a while I wish I could run back and keep the phone from ringing at 4 am. Once in a while I wish I could stop the knowledge of his death from being ushered in on the arm of Peace. Once in a while I wish there were no reason to be strong for my brother and mother. Once in a while I wish I could avoid the ridicule of going to school to take a math test on the day my father died. Once in a while I wish my brother hadn’t stopped at the liquor store after dropping me off at school.

It’s 4 am. I have a math test later. And it has me thinking about another time I was awake at 4 and had a math test later.

I can’t change the settings of the past.

So I accept them.

Jogging A Monday Memory

I read the words and cringed. Class is cancelled so everything gets pushed forward meaning my first math test of my first college class in over 20 years will be next Monday instead of this Thursday. I’d rather take the test on Thursday while I’m in the math learning groove. You may think I’d appreciate the extra study time, but who wants to study over the weekend? It’s bad enough I have a Saturday class.

After reading the rest of my e-mail I went and did what I always do … updated my status on Facebook. It wasn’t until I saw the words on the screen that I remembered another time they were on this very screen … when I wrote my memoir Then Monday Came. If you’ve read it, and in case you haven’t I’ll include a link at the end of this post, you’ll know my father died on a Monday morning and I went to school because I had a math test.  No, this morning’s words weren’t exactly the same as in the book but they did jog that memory.

Jog the memory, why? Did it need exercise?

Maybe. Now memories aren’t like people, they don’t need exercise for weight loss. Or do they? The fact that I remembered my other Monday math test this morning is just that–a fact. It doesn’t carry the emotional weight it once did. I’m not upset that I went to school when my family may’ve needed me at home. I’m not trying to figure out why. And I stopped punishing myself a long time ago.

So next time something jogs your memory, let it run. It might just lose some emotional weight and leave that burden you’ve been bearing lying in the dust of the jogging track.


Yahweh Jireh

That’s what her status update said but I didn’t notice it when I was scrolling through this morning. It was after I’d gotten through to my last update, thus seeing everything new, and was scrolling back to the top that I saw it. Isn’t that the way it is sometimes?

We can’t see things until we look back.

And we can’t look back and see the purpose in the pain until we are some distance from it. I don’t know, maybe there is no purpose in the pain of having an alcoholic brother, but I did gain insight after that season was over. If there was any purpose it was to see beyond the label and know that within each addict is a person: a son, a brother, a friend. Sometimes I project too much onto that man behind the cart rattling down the street and think of how his mother’s heart must be breaking.

I don’t know if he has a mother or a father but I do know there is a God who is Father to the fatherless. He sees each one of us.  He gave Himself the name El Roi, the God who sees me and Yahweh Jireh has a similar meaning. It means God provides but can be more accurately translated to the God who sees ahead of me. He knows what’s coming and provides what we need.

Strength for the next step.

Strength to let go, remembering the battle belongs to the Lord.

Strength to look back at the painful places.

Strength to reach into the mess and pull out the message.

Yahweh Jireh, God provides:


Yahweh Jireh, God provides:

(you fill in the blank)


info on translation from

Celebrate Recovery

Steve giving his testimony at the Everyday Church during the Celebrate Recovery meeting

Last Monday (August 12) every status update he posted made me smile.

“The only way I can describe how I feel today to be clean and sober today is by the tears of joy running down my face! Thank you Jesus for shedding your blood for me!”

I confirmed the time for that Friday night’s Celebrate Recovery meeting and made plans to attend. Steve is my brother in Christ and a brother I wouldn’t even know without Christ. I’m going to sit down and get his testimony one of these days but it all started in a sheriff’s station.

“2yrs ago today sitting in Pico sheriff’s station looking at a prison sentence. God said here is another option .inside out men’s home. A Christ centered recovery home.”

Or so it would appear. You see Steve had something in common with my brother (besides addiction); a family member who prayed. Paul had Mom and Steve had his brother. I knew his brother and when he asked for prayer, I prayed. And I continue to pray. Sobriety is not something to be taken for granted. So it didn’t start in a sherif’s station but in a prayer closet, a church pew, a cluster group of fellow believers. 

“One very important thing I could not have done this on my own I had and have to ask God to give me the strength to stay clean and sober. Today I have no desire to use I give God all the glory!”

But it was a long road for Steve to get to last Monday.

“30 yrs of addictive behavior. The first 5 all fun and games. I set up my self-induced torch, believing the lie that I wasn’t good enough to b happy or to b loved. Destroying relationships because I didn’t think I was good enough, using the if only’s as an excuse.

Worthless !

Accepting that Jesus died on the cross for my sins allowed me to forgive my self. Giving me a new life.


I enjoyed his Monday status updates and hearing him share Friday night.  This was his update after the meeting.

“The most amazing thing about recovery is being there.
praise God! Thank you Jesus!”

For me, the most amazing thing about recovery is witnessing it. Praising God from Whom the blessing of redemption flows.


A Book Inspired By Happier Times

They had another man graduate from the Inside Out Men’s Home yesterday. I’m not using this space to talk about that though. You see in the future I plan to have the Men’s Home in the plot of one of my novels. It’ll be in the third novel and so far I’ve had the first one published. Read the lovely review here. It’s almost pure fiction but my family did inspire the characters and I did throw some facts in just to keep it real.

Washing Windows

blog post pics 009

I went back to the old neighborhood yesterday. I stopped at 7-Eleven for a Slurpee and then went by Mom’s house. The pictures above are from the remodel of 2006.  After going to her place I went around the corner and to the other end of the street. There I saw a house I didn’t recognize. I knew I was at the right place because of the address so I snapped a picture, posted it to Facebook and tagged the friend who used to live there. He noted that it changed quite a bit. I had to agree although I didn’t remember what color it was before I could tell the windows were new. I wish I could’ve told him how I feel about windows.

Back in 2006 changing the windows made the difference.

Taking off the metal awnings let more light into Mom’s dining room. The new windows were energy-efficient and blocked out heat in the summer. They were also easier to slide open than the old ones we had to lift and put a stick under to keep open. But I’m not here to praise the value of new windows; I’m here to talk about what it’s like seeing the old ones in the dumpster.

It felt good. I am not nostalgic for the old windows because to me they were witnesses to life and not all of life was pretty. That day I saw them I honestly felt like the keeper of the secret was on its way to destruction. Strange, since glass and putty and wood can tell not tales? Yes. If you’ve read my memoir you know about the proverbial box in the basement with smudged letters M-O-L. I never spell it all out before I kick the box and whatever memories are in it. Still I’m glad the windows are gone. I felt like they had seen me and I’m not sure exactly what they saw but it was shameful.

Changing the windows made the difference.

You can’t change the windows of your soul but they can be cleansed and healed. Healing is a lot like that remodel and I know I am healed from the pain of the past. It’s like God took off the dinted old metal awnings of shame and let His light in. Then He tore out the carpeting that was covering a solid foundation. As for that linoleum, I happened to remember that old floor even though it had been replaced when I was very young. There are happy, colorful memories once buried now brought to light and shared with others. (They’re in the memoir too.)

Mom’s house had holes caused by termites. The contractors took care of them. I had holes caused by pain. The Creator took care of them. Mom had to hire a contractor that was available and sign-off on the work. I had to be available to The Creator and let Him work.

I had to let Him wash the windows.

Kindle Edition Live Now

I’m pleased to announce that Then Monday Came is out on Kindle. Life isn’t always easy. In fact most times it’s pretty darn messy. There are things in this book I didn’t want to remember, things I didn’t have to share but to withhold any part of the story would be to rob God of His glory. He has a plan of redemption for mankind and He let me play a vital role in my brother’s story. You can borrow it for free if you’re a Ki Prime member or pay $2.99. It’s a small price to pay for a glimpse at God’s Grace and Mercy.


From the book. It’s what I remember about the day of my father’s funeral when my time of basking in fond memories is interrupted:

“But I am spent. My day is done, and it’s time for life to go on. From outside I heard the voices of my mother and brother so I went to find out what was going on. They were out by the garage. Mom is standing by the fence to maintain her awareness of where she was. Maybe she was leaning rather than standing.

     “… too much. When are you going to quit?” She asks, apparently concerned by his heavy drinking since Daddy had died.

“When my father wakes up,” slurs his drunken reply.

His father—our father—never woke up.

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