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Did Someone Say Cake?!

Hey there, this 50-year-old had an awesome birthday thanks to many of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the blessings you gave me. I have the best friends and family a girl could ever ask for. Fifty was truly my best birthday yet. I felt celebrated and loved in a way I have never felt before. So yes, I have been a blubbering mess most of the time, at even the littlest things! I haven't been this emotional in forever! I have often said, “When you learn to live sober, you have to get through the pain in life without your cushion (aka vodka.)" No one told me about the joy! I feel it on such a deeper level and when that happens, it’s like a faucet!

With all the personal reflection of having a milestone birthday, I feel like my mind has been inundated with so much information. My husband and I have had really good conversations as we traveled last week from one side of the state to the other. That is what is on my heart to write about this week.

I came across this verse in my devotions:

This is exactly what we had been talking about! How the things in life we see as destroyers, can actually be turned into good. I quit focusing on the handicap and began APPRECIATING the gift.

Our conversations were mostly about the difference in our lives since I have been in recovery. Oh believe me (and Him,) when I say it has not always been puppy dogs and rainbows. It has been hard work. Hard, hard work. The road to get this far has not been free of potholes!

Just like a pothole in the road (you can find them anywhere in Michigan,) when you hit it you jolt, bounce, and swerve, but you correct whatever you need to. Quickly! You don’t back up and try to hit it again!

Ok, sometimes we do, but the growth factor kicks in and we keep going and get back on the straight road. Before (and during) my drinking days, I could stay fixated on whatever or whomever had wronged me in any way. That is no place to live. Life is too short!

We hear that so often. The sad part is, the reminder can be harsh and final when life is cut short. Craig and I talked about how there were some things we wished we had done differently, but we don’t stay there. As we get older, life seems to have more of an urgency as it is flying by so quickly! No time to live in regret!

The big 5-0 is acceptance that life is pretty much half over. Hey, my Grandma is 96! In the meantime, I don’t want to waste any of it. I've got things to do, places to go, people to meet, and a big God to serve in all of it.

We watched the Elizabeth Vargas interview together when we got home Sunday night. First, the Lions and then the interview. First things first. Welcome to my world! It started a conversation about the gratitude we have now for having gone through this addiction. AKA handicap.

I said to him, “I used to sit in AA meetings and hear people say, 'and I’m grateful to be an alcoholic today' and I would think to myself, 'you people are crazy, no way am I grateful for this. It has destroyed my life and I really would prefer it just disappear.” We all know that was an unrealistic world I was living in. It was a process I had to go through so God could use me for everything he has intended. Whether it was my role as wife and mother, or a calling to share my story to help others, I do know that he did not intend for me to stay there.

My husband remarked that he recalled being in consistory and hearing a young girl's testimony about how she was grateful for the cancer that had ruled her young life for so long. He remembers being just in awe of that and in his heart had a hard time believing her. She said it shaped who she is and her relationship with the Lord. We both get it now, and totally understand what she was saying. Life can be rich and rewarding, if you fight hard enough to get through. The gift is waiting for you.

I know this young lady was saying, “I like who I am as a result of this illness and what it has done to bring me closer to God." I feel the same way. We are not the same over here at the Hoppen home. We are growing in Christ’s love and have a new understanding of what he wants us to focus on.

We get it now. “I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.”

Since my birthday last week, I have received some great gifts! I love giving gifts, I love getting gifts. My love language really is gifts and I love both sides of the giving coin. It's not done yet either! I have have managed to milk it for the rest of the month. Like I said, I love gifts!

I want to share with you the best gift of all. My husband and children each wrote me a letter from their hearts. It was the most beautiful gift I have ever received. I will cherish those letters forever. It made me realize I was still living with the handicap of my addiction even though I no longer drank.

Why? There was a place in me that lived in shame and regret for what I had put my family through. They would tell me they loved me and were proud of me, but I still had that little voice inside me that kept talking. It was telling me that what I had done would be a dark cloud in our lives forever. When I read those letters, I truly, finally and completely, appreciated the gift. They are a pretty awesome bunch, these Hoppen’s. I had to fight hard to earn their trust and respect and was constantly questioning in my mind if we were there yet. We were, I guess, long before I gave in and believed it myself.

I should have known better because that’s how God works. He wants us to love each other in the same way he loves us. I should have given my family a lot more credit earlier for their obedience to God, because that is exactly what they did.

What is your handicap that turned into a gift you appreciate? Or are you still stuck there? I thought I was there and learned that I wasn't. There are so many gifts that God is waiting to bless you with. Move forward in whatever you need to do to get it over with and receive them.

Remember, what you don’t get over will get all over you!

We celebrated my birthday with our family and our parents at the Grillhouse. We take our steak very seriously around here. Here’s a few pics of a great evening!

Peace for your weekend!



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