Archive for September, 2007

Raquel is Home! Most recent from Willie…

You know it occurred to me that many of you have been following and praying for Willie, Lautrice and Racquel Alexis.  Well, if you check her journal www.racquelalexis.com  you will see that after 7 weeks in the hospital, Racquel is HOME!  But I will post Willie’s most recent entry in her journal for you to read.  I must be off…

 Almost over…..and, yet, about to begin.
posted on 09/21/2007

10:00am 

I am sitting her anxiously awaiting the doctor to call and give us the final word on Racquel’s hospital release.

As the first part of our journey comes to a close, I sit here reflecting on this stressful, yet strangely beautiful journey that I have endured.  I come to the conclusion that although I could never wish this on my worst enemy, I needed this.  I truly did. 

I was going through life with few problems.  I had a beautiful wife who loved me.  My wife and I had our health.  We had accomplished many of the goals that we had set for ourselves.  We were surrounded by friends and family that loved us.  Lautrice was cruising through her pregnancy with no complications.  We were living a fairly charmed life.  Each night I would pray to God.  Actually, each night I would give God what amounted to a “high five.”  I wasn’t praying.  I was taking all of his kindness, mercy, and grace for granted and I showed it in the way that I “thanked” him every night. 

I needed God to let me look into a crib and actually see the gift that he had given to me.   I needed to look at my wife and actually see how special she is to me.  I needed to see the night that I almost lost them both and actually see how truly great the gift of “one more day” is.  I needed to see the day that we almost lost Racquel and see how AWESOME the power God can be in delivering her from the grips of death to the arms of her loving parents.  I needed to have a REAL testimony that I could share with someone who asked me about the Power of God.  I needed to see my child as helpless and fragile as she is and understand the depth of a father’s love.  The depth of the love that God no doubt has for me.  For all of us.  I truly needed this.  I am thankful for every second of it and I can truly say that God showed me how to pray.  He has softened my heart and given me compassion and understanding beyond belief.  God has truly  given me a  new perspective on life.  For this I am grateful. 

I hope that by updating this log, I could let you in on the fruits of this journey without you ever having to feel the pain of the ride firsthand.  I know that a lot of you have shared in my pain.  I also look forward to you all sharing in our joy.  That’s why I plan to keep this journal going until everyone stops reading it.  I look forward to posting her first words, her first steps,  her first day at school,  the first boy I harass for calling my daughter, the first date (that should happen in about 40 years, ok, ok, 38 years), her  wedding day,  and the birth of my grandchildren.  These are the days I look forward to, but I want to bask in the joy of each second  of this journey  and  I’d like for you to share it with us.  After all, whether you like it or not, you all are family now.

A friend of mine told me that on the day I bring my daughter home to stop at the door and take a long look at her, because I would blink of an eye she would be leaving for college.  I can honestly say that I understand.  I have had the hardest 7 weeks of my life.  Seven weeks of being a husband, nurse, chauffeur, father, and provider.  Seven weeks of facing my worse fear.  I have always told people that standing outside of a waiting room feeling helpless while my wife or child was fighting for her life was my biggest fear.  I have been in this waiting room for 7 weeks.  I have lived this nightmare.   As hard as these last 7 weeks have been, it seems like a blink of an eye.

Another friend told me that as hard as this time seems, this part of her life will be described in one to two sentences.  He said that is you ask you parents about your first 2 months of life, they can describe it in one or two sentences.  When you think about it he was right.  However, with the help of this journal, she will get a chapter.  A chapter filled with well wishes from people who loved her from the first second that arrived.

I can never thank you all enough for your support, love, prayer’s and kind words.

Please keep lifting Racquel up in your prayers, forever.  She has me as her dad, she’ll need it.  🙂

 

We love you all,

Racquel, Lautrice, and Willie

Here We Go Brownies!

Here’s Granny!

My Testimony

My name is Jim and I’m a grateful believer in the One Higher Power, our Lord Jesus Christ, who struggles with alcohol, anger and depression, among other things.  I developed a taste for alcohol at an early age.  When I was cutting my teeth, my parents would rub whiskey on my gums to ease the pain.  By the time I was 10 years old I could make a perfect high ball for my parents.  By the time I was 15 years old I was drinking and driving.  My first arrest in 1974 was for intoxication and disorderly conduct.  My second arrest in 1974 was for driving under the influence of alcohol.  Over the next 28 years I was a functioning alcoholic.  There would be brief moments of clarity when I would stop, but I always returned to the bottle.  I also spent over ten years as a daily user of marijuana.  In my late teens and 20’s I used many “recreational drugs” on a regular basis.  Some how during those times I was able to get a college degree, start a family and embark on a promising career.  I got off the drugs at about age 30 but never quit the bottle.  Drugs and alcohol contributed to ending my first marriage of 14 years.  Donna I were married on February 28th, 1991.  Alcohol contributed to nearly destroying my second marriage too.  Dec 21, 2001 it all came to a head.  I had decided I would rather be with another woman than my wife.  We were already drunk when we called our spouses to join us.  This was to be the night of reckoning.  I was ready to bolt.  When Donna decided she had seen enough, she was ready to go home but I refused to go with her.  I thought for a while that things were over for Donna and me.  But she is not a quitter.  She came back for me later that night and took me home.  The next day was interesting as I completely confessed all the things I had done.  I still wanted out but Donna would not let me go.  I agreed to stay but my heart was not in it.  Christmas was not very joyous that year.  But by New Years I had some partial clarity and agreed that we would try to work things out.  Donna tried to co dependently be all the things she thought I was looking for but I could not stand to see her that way.  It was about this time that God stepped in.  I did not know it at the time but looking back I can see His strong hand at work.  The following January 18th my position with Schlumberger was eliminated.  I drank a whole bottle of scotch that night.  I had the choice either to go back to the factory in South Carolina at a reduced salary or take the golden parachute.  I had friends at Neptune and there were openings for Territory Managers.  I made a few calls, sent my resume in for positions in Denver and San Diego.  The following Tuesday I got a call from the personnel manager and he told me they were interested in me for a position in Michigan.  I thought they were joking or testing me just to see how badly I wanted the job.  10 days after losing my job with Schlumberger I started with Neptune and on January 28th I flew to Detroit and started my career with Neptune.  After all I was qualified.  I could drink and play golf.  Donna and I moved to Tecumseh March 25, 2002 over on Hickory Ridge and our furniture was delivered during on a beautiful snowy day in March.  2002 would be a watermark year.   Donna knew we could not go on like this.  She had walked with the Lord as a young adult but had walked away.  Someone she worked with spoke to her.  Donna felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to get into a church.  Not just any church but the church at 312 W. Chicago Blvd.  She asked me if I could help her find the phone number and I blew her off.  Going to church was about the last thing I wanted to do.  But Donna did find the number and called Tom and interviewed him over the phone.  We started to attend.  Tom and Vera made a pastoral visit over to our house.  Donna had a lot of good questions but I just accepted and went along.  At this point, she was not going anywhere without me.  Late that summer Donna rededicated herself to the Lord.  I had no idea what she was doing.  What was one of the greatest days in her life and I had no idea. Donna, I am sorry. My drinking had not stopped.  In fact it escalated.  I discovered wine and beer making.  By fall of 2002 I had over 60 gallons of beer and wine under glass in my basement.  I would go to church Sunday morning and afterward start drinking to get ready to watch football.  Donna started going to the prayer group on Sunday evenings and one Sunday I had been drinking heavily and broke down and cried and asked her to pray for me at the meeting.  I am pretty sure they did. I am sure they prayed for me every week.   I never had a chance.  Pastor Tom met with me and tried to talk to me.  He said he had the cure for all my problems in Jesus but I was not yet ready to buy into that.  With our marriage still in trouble I reached my low point on December 15, 2002.  I went to a Browns game that day.  I drank all the way to Cleveland and was drunk by the time I got there.  In the 4th quarter I fell down going up the steps to my seat and chipped one of my two front teeth.  I did not even realize it.  My daughter Lisa saw that I got back to the hotel; I ordered a nice steak from room service and a bottle of wine.   I did not know that I had chipped my tooth until the next morning on my way back to Tecumseh.  Donna was out of town so I had a few days to see if I could get my tooth fixed.  But it was on December 16 that I knew I had to do something.  By the way, the Browns lost to the Colts 28-23.  I had reached Step 1.  I admitted I had a problem.  I admitted I was powerless over my addictions and compulsive behaviors.  I admitted that my life had become unmanageable.On Christmas Eve 2002 during the Christmas Eve service, the preacher delivered a passionate invitation.  I still have a copy of the service on CD somewhere.  His preaching during the previous months had struck a chord with me.  He once talked about his time in the service when he tried to fill that hole in your heart with alcohol and the only thing he looked forward to each day was getting off work so he could get that next drink.  I could relate to that.  There was also a devotional led by Dan Higgins that fall.  He asked all to reflect back on when they had been saved.  I could not reflect back as I had not been saved.  God really tugged on my heart that day.  On the way out of the Christmas Eve service I asked that preacher if there was enough room in the baptistery for me.  I was baptized that Christmas Eve, 2002.  I had always believed in God but now put my faith in Him that He could restore me to sanity. That was Step 2.   I had surrendered my life over to Christ. I had consciously chosen to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.  I had now reached Step 3.  I was not one of those miraculously delivered from the taste of alcohol.  I was going to manage my drinking.  On January 23, 2003 I was going to help a friend celebrate his birthday.  I was going to do the responsible things and get a hotel.  I had it all planned out. But I called Donna and told her I would be home and she expected me home.  But I never got home that night and I never even called.  My co-workers poured me into the Holiday Inn in Jackson, MI.  I had broken the trust and relapsed.  That was the last time I got drunk.    That also resulted in a trip to the altar the following Sunday.   During the rest of 2003, I was pretty much the Teflon Christian.  I was covered in prayer and temptation just slid off my back.  Donna and I got more active and involved in the church and we even got involved in ministry! Imagine that Jim Yearsin doing ministry!  I faithfully attended the mid week men’s group and that would get me through the week.  I began to read and study the bible.  I chose my first life scripture verse from Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who gives me strength”.  Jesus Christ got me through and kept me sober.  There was more work to do.Donna and I had been to a wonderful Christian counselor.  Both Donna and I had issues to work through and we have diligently done so.  One of the things my counselor led me through was a thorough self examination.  When I had started in counseling back in 2002, I was afraid to look inside myself because I was afraid of what I might find.  I was afraid that I was too far gone and the things I had done could not be forgiven.  I certainly could not forgive myself.  When I did look inside, what I found was not good, but not unforgivable.   I did learn that I had to examine myself and confess my sins to another.  This is Step 4 and Step 5, making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself and admitting to God, to myself, and to another human being, the exact nature of my wrongs.  I was ready to have God remove all my defects of character (Step 6) and humbly asked Him to remove all my shortcomings (Step 7).  I know my sins are forgiven because His word tells me so.  Psalm 103:12 tells us “He has removed our sins as far from us
      as the east is from the west.”There have been many people that I have hurt during the many years in the darkness.  I knew I had to try and make amends.   I wrote letters to my daughters and my ex-wife.  I contacted my brother that I had been estranged from for several years.  Praise God He reunited me with my sister before she passed away in 1997.  I had worked step 8, making a list of all persons I had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all and step 9, making direct amends to the people I had hurt, or at least those who let me.  I still am estranged from my middle daughter Rose, but I pray in His time God will repair that relationship.  I have written other letters to those I have hurt.  Some letters have been written just this year to some of you here in this room.  God had healed our marriage.  What a joy it was to hear my wife pray to God and thank Him for healing our marriage. God is good.  God I too thank you for healing our marriage.  I stand before you today on the Road to Recovery.  Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, I pledge to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all my affairs.  This is step 12.  Thank you for letting me share my miracle with you.  God never wastes a hurt.  For the last 5 years, God has been preparing us.  God has blessed me with a job that enables me to serve God.  My other life verse is from Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  God has prepared us to help bring this message of hope to others.  If there is one thing I can leave with you today, let it be hope that there are better days ahead.  There is hope is in the One Higher Power, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Celebrate Recovery is a proven ministry that has helped thousands of people in all 50 states and in 13 countries.  Celebrate Recovery is not just for those that struggle with alcohol addiction.  Less than 1/3 of the people who have been helped through Celebrate Recovery struggle with alcohol.   It is our goal that we can start with groups for both men and women and for both those struggling with addictions and those that are co dependant.  People not only medicate themselves with drugs and alcohol, but they also medicate themselves with food, shopping, pornography or sex.  My hope is that one day we can also help those with eating disorders, sexual, financial and relationship addictions and those who have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused.  We are praying that we can begin to the break the cycle of dysfunction for our families.  Where are you at today?  Is today the day you take that first step? We are having a brief informational meeting today at 12:30 at the Connection Center.  If you are ready to change your life, stop by this afternoon for a visit.   

Thank you for letting me share.  

As presented at NewSong Community Church, September 2, 2007

Steeler Memories

Unfortunately, it occurred to me that most of my Steeler memories are not good.  There are a few good ones.  My first Browns/Steelers game was on November 25, 1973.  There were only 67,000 loyal patrons in attendence that day.  The Browns were not so good and the Steelers were on the verge of a dynasty.  My boss was a member of the “grounds crew”.  All they really did was help take the tarp off the field before the game began so that was not to big a deal.  But it was a cold, wet November day by the lake and my boss did not want to go.  So I got the ground crew pass.  We had to get there early to take the tarp off the field but what a joy it was just to be on the playing surface at the old horshoe.  Most of the Steeler greats were on the field that day including Mean Joe Green, Franco Harris and the whole crew.  Terry Bradshaw was not the quarterback that day.  The QB that day was Joe Gilliam.  They set up bleachers in front of what came to be known as the dawg pound.  In those days the bleacher seats were the “cheap seats”.  We had no access to concessions or restrooms as I recall.  That was the day I got hooked on coffee as were were freezing and wet and some kind soul brought us a hot cup of coffee at half time.  That may have been the best cup of coffee I ever had.  The Browns played well and had a 21-16 lead late in the 4th quarter.  Joe Gilliam led the Steelers down the field toward the bleachers where we were seated.  The got inside the red zone and had a first down.  Joe Gilliam threw 4 incomplete passes into the endzone (right in front of me) and the Browns won the game 21-16.  Well worth the cold and wet!

 My next Steeler memory occurred October 7, 1979.  I was living in Columbus, Ohio and a group from work decided to get a bus trip together for the Cleveland Pittsburgh game.  I knew it was going to be an interesting day from the minute we pulled into the bus parking lot.  The worst place you could be for a Cleveland Pittsburgh game in Cleveland would be the bus parking lot.  Just where do you think all the buses came from?  They all came from Pittsburgh and I was never so afraid for my life as I was that day.  Being out-numbered 50-1 by thugs from Pittsburgh was not the place to be.  It was a great game and the Browns were valianly led by Brian Sipe and were in the game until the 4th quarter when Franco Harris took over the game and the Steelers ground out a 51-35 victory.  I am pretty sure the Steelers went on to win another Super Bowl that year. (ugh)

It was October 5, 1986.  I had an opportunity to go to Pittsburgh and watch the Browns play.  The Browns had played in Three Rivers Stadium for 16 years without a win.  That would all end that day.  Gerald “Ice Cube” McNeil ran the 2nd half kickoff back for a TD and that helped the Browns win for the 1st time at Three Rivers stadium 27-21.  One thing Bernie Kosar could do was beat the Steelers. 

September 12, 1999.  The long awaited return of football to Cleveland.  Art Modell had taken ‘his team’ to Baltimore and the expansion Browns returned to field on a Sunday night against the once hated Steelers.  By the time it was over a stunned crowd went home after a 43-0 defeat.  43-0.  Zip, Nada, Zero, Zilch, Nothing.  A stunned father rode the rapid transit with his daughter Lisa, their faces painted smeared after the lopsided loss.  Little did we know nor expect the futility that was to come. 

September 17, 2000.  Late in the 4th quarter the Browns had a 23-20 lead but the Steelers were driving.  I had seen it so many times before.  Another valiant effort down the drain.  The Steelers were driving east to west, likely going in for a game winning touchdown but certainly for the game tying field goal.  To the best of my recollection, they botched the FG attempt as time ran out.  I know I wept.  The joy of victory.  The first win at home in the new era and it was against the Steelers!  Maybe things were turning around.  NOT!

Then last year, November 19, 2006.  The previous Christmas Eve the Browns laid their biggest egg since 1999 when they lost to the Steelers 41-0.  That right, 41-0.  It could have been 80-0 the way they played.  The Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl that year.  All off season the Browns pointed to the Steelers in 2006.  That was the whole focuse of the off season.  To get good enough to beat the Steelers.  The Browns had a 20-3 lead well into the 4th quarter before the Steelers went no huddle and the Browns when into prevent.  Ben Rothlesberger led the Steelers to 3 4th touchdowns and the Steelers win 24-20.   The Browns season was over.  That one hurt.  It took me almost 24 hours to get over that one…Well those are my most memorable in person Steeler memories.  I must be off…

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