Reconciling a Relapse by Redecorating

Our Mabry Living room has been a place where we have RE-corded many of our memories. There have been RE-actions to unforgettable moments like when we were RE-warded with healthy children and brought them home from the hospital. It is where we have RE-told joyous moments like seeing the kids scamper to the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. It’s here where we can RE-count funny moments like when we thought our dog ran off with a dirty diaper and ate the goods inside (he didn’t, thank goodness). And, there have been seemingly irREconcilable moments such as telling the kids that daddy is going to be gone for their birthdays and Christmas to seek help following a RE-lapse.

When John RE-gressed in his sobriety this time last year and RE-admitted into one of Addiction Campuses’ great facilities, called The Treehouse, I knew I had to stay strong for myself and my kids. It wasn’t a choice to crumble. I HAD to RE-evaluate new ways to keep finding HOPE and JOY. Art and creativity have always been things I’ve RE-turned to as therapeutic RE-leases. So, what better way to RE-kindle hope and joy than RE-decorating my family room with my artwork?

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I wanted to RE-create a room full of light, full of hope,full of encouragement and beaming with love. I started by painting my walls with a RE-freshing color, appropriately called RE-flection, by Sherwin Williams. This lightened the room drastically. With all the decorations down and new paint RE-applied to the walls, I had the blank canvas I needed to RE-create a new beginning for my room, but also for RE-newing my hope and RE-igniting my joy. It was time to RE-create, RE-fresh, RE-juvenate, RE-do and RE-claim ME through my creativity and love for decor.

While John RE-entered treatment, I spent time RE-evaluating “Sarah.”  I RE-cognize that through the busyness of raising three kids and the RE-occurance of addiction in our marriage, I often lose pieces of myself. To RE-engage with my innermost self, I RE-flected on these simple questions:

  1. What brings me JOY? Dogs, kids, art, family, nature
  2.  What brings me HOPE? Scripture, anything angel themed- white feathers, angel wings, halos, rainbows.
  3.  How would I describe my FAITH? RE-newing my trust in GOD when times are difficult and trying to obey his RE-direction of my continually unfolding life.
  4. What does the word LOVE mean to me? This is a very difficult one to RE-call when your world gets flipped upside down. I try to RE-member that, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1  Corinthians 13:4-7

I wanted to RE-create an atmosphere that incorporated my answers to the above questions through RE-decorating. My goal  for this project was to RE-build and RE-store my broken spirit by RE-designing our Mabry Living room.

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  1. I created a cozy dog bed for my RE-scue pups by placing a sheep wool rug under our coffee table. I mixed and match pillow covers from Pottery Barn (sale rack of course).
  2. I RE-purposed a stick I found on a nature walk as a statement piece for my mantel. I decorated it by stringing multi colored beads from it. The teal green jar looks like beach glass. It RE-minds me of my summers spent hunting for colored glass “treasures” along Lake Michigan. My abstract painting was inspired from the Michigan beach where I spend my summers, which I often call, “Heaven on Earth”. Can you tell I love Michigan beaches?!?
  3. I designed the LOVE sign to RE-mind me of the 1 Corinthians scripture.
  4. My angel feather painting allows me to RE-call that God’s angels are always watching over me. I RE-placed our old entertainment center with one from Wayfair.com.
  5. I REad the following quote and knew I had to make an arrow themed piece of work: “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.” This quote RE-news my HOPE for better times ahead.
  6. Canvas painting with a family rule: “As for  me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”Joshua 24:15. I found this piece at Hobby Lobby. I RE-placed the mirror with mirrors from Ballard Design.
  7.  Angel candle holders from John’s grandmother, plus a picture of Michigan that says, “Happy Place,” very fitting.
  8. I added a shell covered end table (Home Goods), an ottoman (West Elm), and changed out our old rug for a new jute rug (Wayfair.com).
  9. I found these angel wings at Hobby Lobby. They were turquoise but I RE-painted them white.

Now for the fun part, BEFORE and AFTER pictures. Who doesn’t love RE-decorating transformation pictures??

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Like RE-making an old, darker room light again, we have the ability to chose to RE-invent ourselves. If these walls could talk, my HOPE is that they would tell you a story of continued RE-commitment, RE-demption and the RE-vival of a soul that has RE-ceived, through God’s grace, the willingness to RE-main open to RE-conciling a marriage following RE-lapse.

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Rock Bottom Gave Me a Solid Foundation

Addiction is a family disease. One person uses but the whole family suffers. This statement holds true for our family. I may not be the addict, but addiction has messed with my thought process. I know I didn’t cause the addiction, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it. However, addiction has often times left me feeling like a worthless failure of a mom and wife because my family was deteriorating in front of my eyes.
My heart was broken back in November when active addiction sneaked back into our home. I knew it wasn’t a choice to crumble as I had three kids who needed me to be strong. Hitting my rock bottom gave me a solid foundation to start rebuilding my life. I was determined to direct my energy to an area in which I believe I am gifted in, art. Art is very therapeutic and something I thoroughly enjoy. No longer was I going to allow addiction to hold me prisoner of JOY. I was set free with my big dreams.


So here I am two days away from launching my ‘Sarah Turnbaugh Mabry’ paintings at a local craft show. These paintings were all inspired from the HOPE, FAITH, and DREAMS I leaned on during a low season in my life.
“On Christ the rock solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Today Is Going To Be A Good Day!

I make the choice every morning to see the positives and seek joy. Before my feet hit the floor I tell myself, “Today is going to be a GOOD day!”

I haven’t always taken this approach in the past. It’s easy to have a negative attitude and be consumed with self pity, anger, resentment, bitterness, and fear. Let me just tell you, it makes for a much more painful life process!

The other day I talked to John (my husband) for the first time since he left to seek help. Communication is very limited and I never know when I can expect a call. When we do talk we have to keep the conversations to a minimum because other patients are waiting to use the phone. My phone started ringing as I was wrapping up the kids dinner one evening. I didn’t recognize the number but I answered it in case it was an employee from the treatment facility calling to give me information. I assumed it wasn’t John because I was told he would not have access to a phone for the first week of his stay.So while loading the dish washer, I answered the phone. Much to my surprise was John’s voice on the other end. My heart wasn’t prepared to hear his voice yet as I thought he would be calling the next night. I was caught off guard. The conversation was awkward. It was sad and it was painful to hear my kids talk to their daddy over the phone. After about five minutes, we hung up the phone and I sneaked into my daughter’s nursery and cried. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to be mad. I wanted to be bitter. It’s a slippery slope to the “why me??” self pity mindset and in that quiet moment I reminded myself that I made the choice to seek joy regardless of the circumstances.

I am choosing to trust that God will take these broken pieces and make something beautiful. Our worlds not falling apart, its falling into place. In a way, I am very excited to see what God has hiding behind the curtain for the rest of my life!

Now I challenge you to go out and have a GOOD day!!

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Make Shift Art Therapy Session Sent My Blues Flying Away

    Most of the morning I was feeling uneasy. I have so much to do around the home but I didn’t feel like doing anything. My mind was wrapped around yucky feelings and thoughts. I wanted to get rid of them but I didn’t know how to make them disappear. Then I remembered my main trick to makes my blues fly far far away…PAINT!
    I headed out to my garage for a make shift art therapy session with my two furry buddies, Cubbie (White) and Finley (Brown). I turned on my car radio and I listened to uplifting music while my hand guided the paint brush. Before I knew it, i was painting white feathers and boy do I LOVE me some white feathers!
    White feathers are another God/Angel sign for me. Yes, I know that most of the white feathers I spot are from my down cushions but I believe there is a deeper meaning to the simple piece of white fluffiness. Every time I spot a white feather, I choose to see it as God letting me know his angels are near. Here is a little tidbit I found on white feathers:
“Finding feathers on your path is one of the more commonly known signs of the angels. Feathers of any color are a beautiful reminder that your angels are near, loving and supporting you from behind the scenes. When you find feathers in a place which is somewhat abnormal is an especially powerful angelic sign. When you find white feathers they’re almost always a sign from your angel… Even when you’re in a place where white birds are present.”
    I may not have gotten my chores done around the house, but my soul is filled back up with HOPE and positive thoughts. Today I am thankful for Sawyer’s afternoon nap because it allows me to have “Sarah” time to do what makes me happy. I am also thankful that God created me to be an artist…he knew how therapeutic painting would be for me in this earthly life! AND…of course I am thankful for my untrained amputee therapy buddies, Cubbie and Finley, for always being right by my side and attending to my every emotional need.
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#hope #arttherapy #seekjoy #doglover #onedayatatime #happiness #paintmybluesaway #whitefeather #godsign #angels

Naming The Addiction Led me to Forgiveness

Since birth, my husband had always gone by his middle name, Clint, until a God moment occurred back in 2011 that helped me find forgiveness. In the story I am about to share I will be referring to my husband as “CLINT” for the first part of it. My prayer is that you will witness a story of forgiveness and true love that never gave up in this blog post.

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Clint and I knew early on that something wasn’t right in our marriage but we couldn’t put our finger on it. We had seen several marriage counselors and shared openly about our struggles. Topics of drinking, lying, and sneaky behavior were usually the main discussions. To sum up what we got out of years of counseling was, 1. Clint needs to cut back on drinking and tell the truth and 2. I need to work on trust issues. This was common advice for about the first five years of marriage. We would try to better ourselves but the unhealthy life cycle of a hidden addiction kept spinning out of control.

Over the years, the downward spiral of addiction was growing more and more powerful by the day. However, I still didn’t know that it was an addiction we were dealing with in our home. The disease was a well kept secret and I was not aware of it. As far as I knew, my husband was taking the meds the doctors prescribed and occasionally had a drink here and there…nothing to be concerned about.  As the years passed by, I felt like I no longer knew the incredible man I married back in 2004, a hardworking driven person with a heart of gold.  It was hard for me to understand why he couldn’t just simply get his act together and grow up. We both hit our breaking point in June 2011 and decided to look into a treatment center that specializes in trauma, hoping to find help. Making this decision was extremely scary for both of us. The word “REHAB” seemed so taboo for a preppy family in the suburbs.  Our ignorance allowed us to think that only celebrities went to rehab, not ‘normal’ people like the Mabry family.

A week after our major decision, Clint packed his bags and was on a plane to Arizona for a 45 day treatment plan. I packed the rest of the family’s bags and we temporarily moved up to Michigan to stay with my parents. The transition was hard and painful. I was overwhelmed with embarrassment and heartache.  There was no time for grieving because I had a 7 month old baby and a 3 year old who needed me at all moments of the day. I was never off duty…even though my mom was a wonderful helper. I felt defeated.  Anger, sadness, tiredness, bitterness, and resentment consumed me. I felt little joy. Something had to change, I couldn’t live like this any longer. I was a prisoner of my own grief.


My brother sent me the book, ‘Redeeming Love,’ by Francine Rivers, to my parents home in hopes to lift my spirits…and boy was he right! Every night, I looked forward to crawling into my cozy bed and curling up to read the next chapter. Little did I know how much this book would speak to me!

The story is about a broken relationship and the power of God’s redeeming love and grace. The main character, Angel, faced a lot of trauma in her life. She allowed the traumatic events to define who she was as a person…broken and fearful.  She tried to sabotage every good thing that came her way because she didn’t think she was worthy of receiving any form of love. Angel realized that her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than her husband does, God.  She eventually recognizes God’s love for her and receives Christ in her heart. She begins to work with other victims of trauma by helping them leave their old ways. On the very last page of  book, Angel reveals that her real name is “Sarah” to her husband.  “Sarah” is no longer a prisoner of her past sufferings. She is made new. WOW!

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Ironically, Angel changed her name to Sarah (my name) but that has nothing to do with the impact this story had on my own life. I, too, was a prisoner of my own brokenness caused by my reoccurring trauma due to my husband’s disease. I needed to be freed from the hold it had on my healing but I wasn’t sure how to go about forgiving Clint. How was I supposed to forgive someone who has cause me so much pain yet is someone I love? After much thought, I decided that forgiveness doesn’t excuse his behavior BUT forgiveness does prevent his behavior from destroying my heart.

The name change that occurred at the end of the book really had an impact on me. In fact, it was the key that was about to unlock my bondage to my hurting past. As I closed the book after concluding the final chapter, I decided that from this point forward I was going to call my husband, “JOHN,” his legal first name…which happens to mean, “God is gracious.”  Making this name change allowed me to separate my husband from his traumas, addictions, and his past…which I now refer to as “CLINT.” Please understand that I know I am married to both, John and Clint.  I can’t have one without the other unfortunately. If that was an option, “Clint” would have been kicked to the curb a LONG time ago and John and I would live happily ever after.  However, life isn’t always that simple!

Every day I make the choice to forgive the addiction for all the pain and hurt it has caused me. It is so freeing!  The power of forgiveness is the biggest gift I can give to myself. It might seem drastic to go as far as changing my husband’s name, however, I believe that we serve a mighty God who can redeem, renew, and heal with his all-consuming love, grace, and mercy.  How awesome is that?!?

 

***While he was at treatment in Arizona in 2011, a counselor who had seen “Clint” daily for the past 30 days greeted him one day with, “Why, Hello, John Mabry!” even though for the past month he had been calling my husband, Clint.  It caught John off guard.  The counselor told John he should consider going by his first name, John, instead of ‘Clint’ because John Mabry is a nice strong sounding name. A few days later over a quick phone call (which are very limited when one is in treatment), I too informed John that I was going to call him by his legal first name from that day forward in hope to work on my healing.  I had no idea that his counselor said the same thing a few days prior! So as of 2011, John has made the choice to have everyone refer to him by his first name, the man God created him to be.

 

 

 

 

3 things I learned from the French word for nipple

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I (John) recently returned from a trip to Wyoming where I spent several days exploring Grand Teton National Park. Before I motor boat into what I saw and felt, let’s first shine some high-beams on how the Grand Tetons got their name. It is rumored by some rather boring  historians that the large mounds were named after the Teton Sioux tribe. However, the more widely adopted explanation among the locals is that “Grand Teton” means “Large Teat” in French, named by French-Canadian explorers. For purposes of this fun bag discussion, we’re going to augment the latter.

Now, I’ve explored the deep crevasses and cleavages of the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns and the Great Smokey Mountains, but the sheer size and immense beauty of these large teats is unmatched by anything I’ve ever seen. I was fortunate to feed off of the land in more ways than one, so I have compiled a list of the top three things I learned by exploring Large Teat National Park.

1. A man’s anxiety disappears when immersed in Large Teats

As one who has suffered from anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder, I can tell you that I’m a sucker for anything that can relieve my stresses naturally, and the Grand Tetons did it for me. My anxiety and emotional state can still have a tenderness to them so I still carry medications with me just in case. But I never once felt the need to medicate myself when buried in these mounds.IMG_5243

2. A man never feels alone when consuming mother nature’s bosom. 

Even with all of today’s technology and social networking, it’s easier than ever to feel detached and isolated from others. I found, however, that when embarking on a solo journey into the thick woods, it’s almost impossible to feel lonely. Mother nature has a way of providing you with signs – such as a pair of hooting owls or putting a few wild-growing melons in your path – that remind you that you’re never alone when you are exploring her.

For instance, I took an unaccompanied hike but never felt apart from people. Conversely, I never felt closer to the greater whole of existence. There was life all around me in the streams, lakes and trees. I was fortunate to experience two up-close encounters with mother nature in the forms of a bull moose and elk. It’s one thing to see these wild beasts on TV or the computer but there’s something exhilarating and life-changing about seeing them up close in person.

 

3. A man cannot deny the sense of accomplishment when climaxing a challenging summit.

On the final day of my trip I had the opportunity to hike to the top of a 10,000 foot mountain at the Grand Targee Resort. I grabbed a few jugs…of water…and started feeling my way up the mountain. It wasn’t long before I got off the trail and found myself chest deep in wild grasses and shrubs. There was a hardness to this hike unlike any I have ever experienced. I thought about giving up about a third of the way through, thinking there was no way my legs would carry me to the top. I kept moving one step at a time and finally reached the top where it was a tid bit nipply up on the breast of the new fallen snow. More amazing than the views was the sense of freedom and exhilaration I felt for conquering these huge lumps of mother Earth.

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So whether your fears are real or fake, there’s nothing like taking your Winnebagos to the milk factory that produces all-natural, snow-capped peaks that is – Grand Teton National Park.

 

My Biggest Fear Is Not What You Think 

It’s John, here. Thanks for coming to read this personal story of mine that centers around my journey to face my biggest fear. Keep reading and I think you might find that my biggest fear might actually be yours, too. You probably just don’t know it or, you know it and just don’t want to admit it. Study after study show that most people’s biggest fear is public speaking. Countless people fear speaking in front of a group more than death. That’s extremely profound! The official name for it is Glossophobia. Surprisingly, public speaking is not my biggest fear. It’s my second.

Anthony-Robbins-Picture-Quotes My biggest fear is facing my true self (see video at end of blog of my speech). I have yet to   find anything more challenging, depressing and, yet,  liberating than digging to the deepest parts of  my  being to  discover who and what I truly am and why I  do the things I do. Most people would rather  go on  making poor decisions about their lives, their  relationships, jobs,    finances and health than to stop and work backwards for a period of time to discover why they do what they do. I have discovered through literally thousands of hours of  medical and psychological care that going as far back as you need to – and many times it’s going back to your early childhood events – can reveal valuable information  about what fears currently drive you today.

The mission of Mabry Living is to “serve others by using our unique gifts and outrageous antics to ignite creativity, growth and laughter in the world, with an emphasis  on fitness, simplicity, truth and love.” Fulfilling that mission entails communicating effectively through the various mediums Sarah and I use to express ourselves (i.e. this blog, Facebook, Vine, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube). Public speaking is a part of what we do to share our experience, strength and hope about our real world struggles.

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In an effort to be best prepared to deliver clear, effective and moving speeches to groups about my life’s journey, I joined a local Toastmasters group to help coach me to be the best public speaker I can be. For those of you who don’t know, Toastmasters empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders and is accomplished by having members work through a number of speeches that are critiqued by your group.

My journey toward addressing my second biggest fear – public speaking – started by first pressing the “pause” button on life to seek out my true self, which was completely disjointed and mangled. Honestly, excavating through the minefields of my past was the most fearful thing I have ever done. It was more frightening than making the decision to amputate my leg. I never knew what I would find in counseling sessions, inpatient treatment and through working the 12-steps of a recovery program. At any moment a bomb from my past experiences could blow up, causing me to react in anger, fear, disappointment, loathing, jealousy, disgust or self-hatred. I, like most people, don’t want to turn over the wreckage of my past because it is too painful and takes too much time and effort. I have found, however, that what initially looks like taking steps backwards by stopping to deal with your true self – which is many times broken and closed off – actually yields profound results in moving forward in one’s life. Like I said before, I think many people out there are actually more afraid of connecting with their brokenness than anything else. If that strikes a nerve with you, watch the video below.

To help demonstrate the difficult, yet rewarding, journey toward unearthing my true self, I would like to share with you a version of my very first Toastmasters speech. The goal was to introduce myself to the group through a 4-6 minute speech about me. The title of my speech was “Public Speaking Is Not My Biggest Fear.” Here is a video of what I presented to the audience. Life is too short not to offer the world your best. I hope you will find some inspiration that you, too, can overcome any obstacle that stands in the way of connecting with your true self.