Am I An Alcoholic? Guest Post from Wendy P. Miller

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One of the biggest blessings in being involved in the writing community is that I have had the opportunity to meet and become friends with several amazing, amazing people. These people aren’t just writing buddies– they are supporters and readers and critiquers and developers and plotters and generally wonderful friends.  And most of all, they are incredible writers, using the gift of words to create stories that entertain and teach and challenge.

I’m honored today that my friend, Wendy Paine Miller, is stopping by the blog to share with you some of her thoughts about what is behind her newest release, The Delicate Nature of Love. Wendy’s writing is word-art, and I am so excited that she’s here with us today. Read below and let her words challenge you about a topic that touches so many.

From Wendy:

Am I An Alcoholic?

This is the question my main character in my latest novel, THE DELICATE NATURE OF LOVE, grapples with. I have an opinion about whether or not Emma Gates is an alcoholic. And I’m willing to bet many book club members will be sharing their opinions while sipping cabernet and sampling goat cheese.

Emma is a grieving widow. Wine has become her go-to when it comes to numbing her feelings. I don’t want to give away my thoughts about whether I feel Emma is addicted, but I will share a bit about why I gravitated toward this topic.

Addiction runs in my family. And I like wine. I like fruity mixed drinks. And with a hot pizza or a delicious chili recipe, I like to swig 312 Goose Island beer. Occasionally I ask myself the hard question: Do I like this too much? Because when I say addiction runs in my family I’m not talking six degrees of separation, I’m talking more like .14 degrees (about the same blood alcohol level several of my family members would hit at any given moment).

I remember suffering through a tragic season in my life when the idea of checking out—sanding down all of my depressed feelings to the point of numbness—sounded ideal. So I drank. A lot. And it did feel great. For a night. Then those feelings resurged and I was met with the weight of what I was going through twofold. And thankfully, I didn’t make a habit of tossing back the bottle. But this is exactly why I work hard not to judge those with addictions. I get the pull. The only difference is that I’m able to stop. I’m able to make a different choice. They aren’t. That doesn’t make me better. It just means the gene didn’t sneak into me.

Forget our country running on Dunkin’ as the slogan suggests. I’m convinced most of us have grown accustomed to running on whatever the five o’clock hour has to offer. In the first scene of DELICATE, my main character, Emma, finds herself facing a similar predicament Pink sings about in one of her songs. She’s looking for herself sober. She’s lost sight of who she is without her trusty wine bottle.

Because addiction is something I’ve grown to recognize, I care about others recognizing it in themselves and confronting it.

I think it starts with…

Accountability—asking the hard question, not just of yourself but asking loved ones who know you well to tell you what they think.

Awareness. Paying attention to when you say when. How many is too many for you? How generous of a pourer are you?

Finally, this might be the hardest one yet.

Honesty. It’ll always come back to this.

Does the topic of addiction hit close to home for you?

Wendy Paine MillerWendy Paine Miller is a native New Englander who feels most alive when she’s laughing, reading, writing, or taking risks. She’s authored eleven novels, including The Delicate Nature of Love, The Flower Girls and The Disappearing Key. Her books have prompted thought-provoking conversations at book clubs all across the country. Wendy lives with her husband and their three girls in a home bursting with imagination and hilarity. Connect with Wendy on her website.

 

 

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Should My Son Choose the Military

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To my precious boy—

I look at you now, playing on the floor, surrounded by trains and cars and millions and millions of Legos and tiny green soldiers, and my heart wants to burst as I watch you.

Can I freeze this moment? Can I keep you little forever?

You still think I’m one of the smartest people you’ve ever met. Your little mind is still innocent—you don’t quite grasp the horrors that mankind is known to inflict. Your world is tiny and you giggle at silly things like cartoons and mud and bugs.

You are little.

But one day you will be a man.

When that day comes, I’m certain I’ll think back to these moments—the ones we are living now, and I’ll wonder how they went by so quickly.

And if you should tell me that you want to serve our country in the military, I know for certain that my heart will move in a thousand different directions in a single second.

Will I be proud of you for your choice, my son?

Absolutely. I will be proud that you’ve chosen to continue a family tradition of military service. I will be proud that the patriotism I pray we are instilling in you now has led you to make a decision to want to protect the great freedoms this country allows for its inhabitants. I will be enormously proud that you understand that military service is something to be respected and honored, and that you want to be counted among the many who have served in honor of the tenets on which this nation was founded.

toy soliderI will be proud that you’ve chosen the practical applications of military service—funding for your education and skills that will benefit you should you choose a career in the private sector later on or a career in the military–skills like leadership and self-discipline.

I will be proud that you are educated enough to understand the state of the world. Although I can only imagine what the world will be like by the time your tiny feet are able to fill man-sized combat boots, I pray that between now and then you will live outside of the American Bubble and develop an understanding of world affairs—enough to know that serving the USA often means helping and serving those across the world.

Will my heart burn with fear?

Most certainly. While you may never understand the reasons, I’ve prayed over you since before you were you were born. I’ve prayed for your future, and although I do not know what it holds, I know that my God does. And so I will struggle with the fear of knowing that you might be in danger because of the path you’ve chosen, and I will have to cling to the belief that my God knows you and loves you even more than I do. He will protect you, he will sustain you, and should I ever have to face a dreadful day when you might not be with me anymore, although I can’t imagine it, He will sustain me, too.

I will love you, my son, for your courageous choice. I will love you, respect you, and appreciate you for your willingness to put your life on the line for our country.

I will love you because you’ve chosen the military, even if for a short time, as your mission field. For I pray, my son, that your life will be a reflection of Christ, and your willingness to serve will come from the Ultimate Sacrifice given by Christ our Savior.

And so I pray now, while you are little, for your future. You must know that I will be proud of any future choice you make for your life, so I pray that you will seek the direction of God and that you will remember that you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength. 

To my precious boy who will one day be a man—no matter what your future holds, know that should you tell me you’ve chosen military service, you’ll have the respect, honor and love of not just your mama, but many grateful hearts around the world.

 

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Experiencing the Black and White

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I recently wrote a post about 50 Shades of Grey (you know, like 5156872154 other bloggers. Between that and my American Sniper post, well, you’re welcome, movie industry).  I wrote about the things I wished people would do before seeing the movie, hopefully giving rise to some serious consideration on the part of the reader to avoid the movie (and the books) altogether.

I read a lot of posts similar to mine, asking women in particular to stay away from the movie.

And I read a lot of posts on the opposing side, stating that it was just “love story” and those of us avoiding the movie just needed to get over it and accept it.

And one theme seemed to ring true throughout several of the posts I read that supported the 50 Shades franchise– that my “religion” hindered me from making sound judgement of the whole ordeal.

In fact, it was even suggested that “religious” people were incapable of making sound judgement against the 50 Shades franchise because we hadn’t experienced it.

In essence, the world is not black and white, but instead several shades of grey…maybe more than 50.

From these bloggers I read that if I want to truly understand the people around me, I have to make myself willing to experience and test everything in order to be able to accurately identify the black and the white and all shades of grey in between– in order to be able to identify the harmful from the harmless.

I have to experience sin in order to be able to identify it.

In order to know that the 50 Shades books are filth that will destroy relationships and a morally-based view of sex and love, I need to read them.

Let’s apply that logic to other things.

In order to know that an affair would destroy my marriage, do I need to have one?

In order to know that stealing isn’t okay, should I take what isn’t mine?

In order to know that abusing my children will hurt them, do I need to hit them?

In order to know that murder is wrong, should I kill someone?

It would appear that based on this logic, it’s the outcome of the action that decides whether or not the action is morally reprehensible.

See, people like me, the “religious” types, believe that it’s the heart motivation to commit the action, not the outcome, that labels whether or not the thing is sin.

Sin is a word that most people don’t like nowadays. We live in a world based off of instant gratification and the idea that we must do whatever makes us happy–we want to feel good all the time. It’s all about how we feel. And we want to feel good All. The. Time. We want to do whatever it takes to make us happy, even if that means what we’re doing might be harmful in the long run, or even the short term.

As long as it makes us feel good. Sex. Drugs. Abortion. Taking what isn’t ours. Demanding what we don’t deserve. Hurting others as long as we’re not hurting ourselves. The list goes on and on.

Here’s the thing, friends– I can recognize sin by the motivation behind it. The motivation behind 50 Shades of Grey is nothing more than lust. It’s not a love story; it’s a lust story. I don’t need to read it to know that.

The root of all of this sin is simple: pride. We believe we’re better than we are. We believe that we can live outside of the black and white–somewhere in those shades of grey.

But this world IS black and white.

We’re stained, dirty, dark; covered in the muck of this world. Myself included. I’m no better than anyone else, whether I consider myself “religious” or not. Although I try daily to emulate my Christ, I’m not perfect and I never will be.

He, on the other hand, is perfection in radiant white, spotless, blameless–wholly complete and unchanging– and without pride.

The world in its broken state is the darkness, while He, the Savior of the world, is the Light.

No matter how good we try to be, no matter how much we want to think we are better than someone or something else, no matter how much we excuse our lifestyles or choices, no matter how many nice things we do, nothing we do will ever be good enough.

And that’s where the beauty of His cleansing grace comes in.

snowHe washed away all of our stains with his blood– he cleaned all the black and all of the shades of grey. He made us white as snow through his sacrifice. Praise Him and hallelujah!

The only thing we need to experience is the beauty of his mercy and grace– the only thing we need to accept is the forgiveness of our sins. 

We don’t have to experience sin in order to know it’s wrong. But we do need to experience Christ– and when we do, we’ll know just how right he is.

This is my prayer for you today, friends: that you will experience him and find that living in His light is so much more fulfilling than any shade of darkness could ever be.

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