Monday, January 1, 2024

I Quit Drinking (Why & How)

This is my story. I recognize that this is not everyone's story. I am sharing this not as an expert but simply because it might help someone else. Don't come at me. 

I was what many would describe as a "big drinker". I enjoyed it, or at least I thought I did and I encouraged others to drink. I convinced many Christian friends who previously thought that drinking was bad, that it wasn't and they should do it too. I often said that alcohol wasn't inherently bad it was just bad when people over or misused it. I would say "alcohol never did anything bad to anyone but some people do bad when they use alcohol". In fact I said those words the very morning of the day I decided to quit.

I'm not going to go in to great detail about my history with alcohol for a lot of reasons, but here are the broad strokes: I started drinking not because I liked it, or even because I liked how I felt when I did it, but only because I wasn't supposed to. It was a rebellion pure and simple. After that it simply became a habit and that is what it was for many years. I took pride in the fact that I could drink others "under the table". Alcohol became part of who I was. Along the way I made some mistakes certainly. I did some stupid things and I embarrassed myself and people I love. But in spite of it all I hung my hat on the idea that even though I had my bad moments I could always stop whenever I wanted, I just didn't want to. 

Then came COVID. What was previously a crutch became a full blown motorized wheelchair that was carrying me though each day. Drinking became my reward for surviving. It is not an excuse but I was attempting to make it through COVID with one child who has major behavioral stuff and another child who has major medical stuff. I was truly terrified that Zee would get sick and die, or that I would have a nervous breakdown trying to deal with Jojo. Thank God I didn't know how long it would last when it began. 

After COVID I knew that my habit had gotten out of hand. I wasn't drinking during the day, getting the shakes or anything else extreme but I began to realize the level of my dependence and I tried to cut back here and there. I knew drinking so much wasn't healthy and I even went to see my doctor to get blood work to make sure my liver wasn't about to turn to ash or fall out. She assured me that I wasn’t alone in my post COVID struggle, but when the results were fine I took that as permission to keep drinking. I was gaining weight and spending WAY too much money so I switched to vodka tonics to cut down on calories and cash and I limited myself to beer only on the weekends. I told myself that this was progress. 

I heard about a booked called "The Easy Way To Control Alcohol" by Allen Carr (on Tik Tok of all places) and although it sounded too good to be true I was curious because I had never heard of it before. Our family has a great deal of experience with addiction so the idea that a book could be successful for someone but it wasn't on my radar was intriguing. I started listening to the audio book and made it about half way through before I realized it might just work for me. My views on alcohol were shifting, but I wasn't quite ready yet for that type of success, so I stopped listening for a while.

There wasn’t a catastrophic event that led me to stop. Honestly it was simply a misunderstanding as to whether or not I was drunk, but for me that was enough. I had gotten to a place where I was assumed to be drunk rather than sober and I guess that was my wake up call. So I finished the book the next day and poured out all the alcohol I had in the house. I was done. 

There isn’t anything magical about the book. It simply offers a new perspective and it showed me the other side of all my excuses. These are some of my takeaways: 

  • Alcohol is the only drug we have to explain why we DON’T use. That alone says a lot. 
  • I think marketing by the companies who sell alcohol plays a major role.
  • You don’t have to be an alcoholic by definition to have an issue that you need to change.
  • If you do consider yourself to be an alcoholic (I don’t but that’s neither here nor there) maybe you don’t have to struggle anonymously each and every day to stay sober?

I’m not going to lie and say it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. There were days when I felt like I was losing a big part of who I was, but I realized eventually that I could do without that "part of me". Even so, I had a lot of doubt that I would be able to stick with it. Would I still be able to have fun at events with friends? How weird would it be to go out to a restaurant and not order a beer? How would I survive dealing with Jojo every day without my evening reward of alcohol? 

This is the part of the book that I kept coming back to in my mind whenever I felt unsure or needed a reminder: 

“Client: “Could you teach me to have an occasional drink and not get hooked again?” 
Me: “Of course I could. I could even teach you to take the occasional dose of arsenic.” 
Client: “Why on earth would I want you to do that?” 
Me: “Exactly!”

It has been more than three months since I stopped drinking and I can say with confidence that all the things I thought would be worse are better. I have lost about 15 pounds and I feel physically stronger. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep but I sleep fine and I am way less sleepy during the day. Most importantly, I am a much better mom. All of the things I thought would be super hard were only a little hard and even that only lasted a few weeks. It sounds too good to be true, but it just isn’t. 

I don’t know how these words sit with you but I imagine you are either thinking of your own problem or that of someone you care about. If you are thinking "my issues is _____, not alcohol" well he probably has an adaptation of his "Easy Way" book for that too but I can't vouch for any of those. My non expert advice is simply read the book or give it to the person who is on your mind. Maybe it won’t work for you or for them, but maybe it will, and if it does, well that changes everything. 

Blessings and Happy New Year,


(link to the book on Amazon)

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

“I mean you chose this so….” 🤷🏼‍


*pic from Zee adoption day April 2016*


Although the words are rarely meant to inflict harm, the connotation is “you chose to adopt these kids so you don’t get to complain”. Let me take it a step farther: “you chose to adopt THESE kids (who have special needs) so you should have known it would be hard when you made that decision so you don’t have any right to complain”.


Yes, I chose to adopt two boys who have special needs. Shockingly when I made the choice to bring home a tiny 5 pound 4 ounce baby who had a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome I wasn’t able to see in to the future and take in to consideration that he would someday be an 8 year old little maniac child who would drive me to the very end of my nerves every👏🏼 single 👏🏼day👏🏼. If my crystal ball had not been broken, I could have prepared myself for the fact that he would one day be the golden child of his elementary school who everyone fan girls over every morning but an absolute terror who screams “NO!” at me constantly at home and breaks into the neighbors houses to steal their toilet paper on the daily. Would a glimpse into my future have changed my decision to give God my yes? No ……but it would have been cool to get a head start on therapy and adjusting my meds 😉.


I don’t feel like I chose Zee, I feel like he chose me, but that doesn’t change the hard. Early on it was an ICU at home and a traveling ICU anywhere we went, along with more doctors appointments and hospital stays than I care to recollect. It was many agonizing hours wondering if he would even live much less thrive. Now he’s more of a rascal than I ever thought he would be and although searching for his gtube (because he takes it out and throws it multiple times a day) as well as trying to keep him from being naked 24/7 is quite a challenge, I would chose him and all of his stuff over again every time.


Bio parents don’t get their complaining cards revoked in the delivery room so why do we insist on having adoptive parents turn theirs in at the proverbial adoption door? I stay puzzled by this question. Maybe it has more to do with social media than we would like to admit. Maybe we as adoptive parents glorify our lives and our little bundles of adoptive blessings too much causing others to think we are some sort of super heroes who have our acts so together that nothing should ever be wrong in our perfectly picked out lives. I would venture to say if that is even remotely the case, it is because we are truly blessed to have these kids in our lives much more than they are “blessed to have us” and we want to shout their worth to the rooftops of the world…..but we would also like the reserve the right to still have it hard….and sometimes to have it REALLY hard.


As biological parents we don’t hold back from telling a friend or family member or the whole damn world for that matter that raising kids is difficult because we don’t have to worry that they will in turn be de-valued as humans……read that one more time. But when it comes to adopted kids who also have special needs or different abilities, their journey to us as their parents is literally born out of the inability for their first families, or even their entire country of birth, to see their value. These children, these image bearers, were first seen as less than, or too much of a burden, or too much to handle, or not even worthy of life by their people or even collectively by the places where they were born. So, yes we feel the need to show the world that they are worth it, BUT, when we show the worth and hide the hard, either out of guilt or obligation or the world telling us we should, we do everyone a dangerous disservice.


Today, the adoption community across the US is rocked by a tragedy. I do not know the family, I don’t know the circumstances, I don’t know the struggles they had, and they may not even be adoption or special needs related, but this has been on my mind and heart for sometime and this seemed like a good time to flesh it out.


Parenting is hard. Full stop. Let’s all give each other grace…no matter how our kids came to join our families. Let’s make it ok to say out loud that it is hard. Let it be ok for parents to need help no matter what. Let’s not take away the right to have it hard from moms and dads who knowingly stepped into this life any more than we would a biological family. Let’s do better. Together. ❤️


Dear mom or dad, if you are in the trenches, reach out for help. If you don’t find it, please keep reaching until you do. We are here. 




Friday, October 30, 2020

Jojo + Papa = BFF {by my dad for Down syndomre Awareness Month}


My first real association with child who had Down syndrome was at the Sportsplex gym. A young, single mom with a son who was about 9 years old named Cary came to the gym at the same time I did. I began to pay attention to Cary and that’s all it took for him to be my friend. He would watch for me at the gym and when he saw me, he would come running and take my hand as if it were understood that “I’m with you”. A glance at the smile on the mom’s face each time indicated approval and appreciation. Carey would follow me around in the gym and “help” me with my workout and he was always sad when it was time to leave. The only time I remember seeing Cary any place other than the gym was at Walmart. When he saw me a from a significant distance across the room he yelled at the top of his voice, ran to me, gave me a hug and took my hand as usual. Even though we hadn’t spent a significant amount of time together, I was sure that he was my friend…my buddy.

I knew for many years that my daughter Jenny wanted to adopt someday, but when she came to my wife Emily and me and explained that God had put it on her heart to adopt a child with Down syndrome, I was apprehensive.  She had already spoken to Aidan and Ella Mae and they were all in as was my wife, but I was concerned. Being in the financial business, one of my main concerns was how she would support another child, especially one with special needs. I was concerned for Aidan and Ella Mae as well because Jenny is a single mom. Since we all lived together at the time, she was determined to have us all “on board” before she moved forward in faith, but it took a while, and a significant amount of stubbornness from Ella Mae (she gets it honest from my sweet mama) to finally get my yes.

Emily and I were waiting at the airport when they brought Josiah (Jojo) home. I didn’t know what to expect or what my role would be. I even wondered if she would let me hold him. She walked through the airport straight to me. She said “here” and handed me that precious baby. At that moment, I knew that my life had changed—I knew that I was the Papa of someone special—a different kind of special than my first two grandchildren.

Over the next five years or so, Jenny, with the help of my wife, Emily, fostered twelve children. Most of them had special needs and/or were medically fragile. I was blessed to be able to help a little. I got lots of hugs in payment.

One day she received a call from Children’s Hospital and was asked to make a visit to consider fostering a baby with incredibly significant medical challenges and he also had Down syndrome. He would require intense medical care and medication for life. His mom could not take care of him. When Jenny arrived at the hospital a team of doctors and nurses were waiting. They asked Jenny if she would possibly, perhaps, maybe somehow consider fostering “Baby Zee” who had spent all 7month of his life at the hospital. At that point, the outlook for Baby Zee was very dim, with no one to take care of him and no good options for a place to live where he could get essential medical care. Who, in their right mind, would take on such a challenging commitment? Jenny and Emily, with the mind of Christ, trained to care for him medically while he was in foster care and eventually Jenny adopted him. The adoption judge said, “he is your child as if he were born into your family”. That statement was correct. Zee has a good place to live, is loved and well taken care of. He is just happy to be alive every day.



God doesn’t make mistakes when babies are born with Down syndrome. They are born into HIS family the same as everyone else. He created them special…and He created others special to be ministers to care for them. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil 2:3-4.

Jojo and Zee are indeed special to me and I love them very much. I am so thankful to be their Papa and to have the opportunity to serve them. As it turns out, Jojo is not only my grandchild, but we have also become best friends. He is all mine on the weekends (to give Jenny a break) and we have the best time together. Once Zee grows and heals some more I’m sure he will join us on our adventures! I can’t imagine my life without these boys, and I am so thankful that a little 6 year old Ella Mae didn’t give up until she got my “yes”. "For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:36