On a balmy 60°morning, I and my right-hand man (Craig) left for a speaking event in Forrest City, Arkansas. We had decided to drive because books are heavy and quite honestly we road trip
well together. About four hours into our drive we passed an exit for Crawfordsville. Uneventful to you but for me, not so much. I said to Craig, “Hey we stayed in Crawfordsville on the bike trip! When I say THE bike trip I am referring to that first one to Texas that I write about in Sober Cycle. You know the detoxing, dog-chasing, debilitating attempt to out pedal my addiction? That one.
He said I am sure we are going to be pretty close to that same route the whole way there.
From that moment the day turned reflective. Humbling. I have so many memories from that trip, some I want to forget but more that I want to cherish. I unearthed so many more of them as we passed the Effingham Water Tower, the Carbondale Exit, crossed the Mississippi in Missouri, and got off our exit in Wynn, AK. It was not lost on me that the drive took a mere ten hours compared to ten days in 2010 pedaling.
This was a ride down memory lane for me and I might have gone a little
overboard because at some point Craig turned Fox news back on. Keep in mind this is the day after the election…
My reminiscing was complete when off the exit (for less than a minute) I spotted a Pit Bull. No big deal, without a glimpse of my meaty flesh pedaling by, he could care less about me.
The ride passed quickly, I felt like I had a front-row seat to watching a movie about that Ride. Wait, more like a docudrama with good snacks, hey it’s a road trip of course there are good snacks!
On a serious note though, it felt surreal. I didn’t recognize that desperate, anxious, and at times extremely joyful woman. I felt her pain at every turn of the pedal and cheered her on as she outran the dogs. I wanted to give her a hug when she cried silent tears at night, worrying about her drinking.
When we arrived at our dear friends and hosts, Carla (listen to her story here) and her husband Mallory we enjoyed an evening of laughs, catching up on life, and the event the next day over a home-cooked meal in their lovely home. We all crashed early in anticipation of the day ahead. Craig, of course, was out like a light but I had some thinking to do.
The events of the day had me rethinking what I had been preparing to share with my southern friends. It didn’t seem right anymore. I mean it was good and I had worked hard on it, but I felt God nudging me to make some changes and in true Sherry form I tried to tune out the voice that was telling me I had something else to say, and I didn’t even know what that was! I should’ve learned by now not to ignore that voice, but I am a slow learner and did my best to ignore it and get a little sleep.
The next morning we went to breakfast at one of those places that only the locals know about, where they all know each other and the food is phenomenal! Shout out to Greg and Jims for the best breakfast sandwich I ever had along with eating half of Craig’s Pancakes because they were just that good! Carb-loaded and caffeinated we were ready for the day!
The guys and girls went their separate ways, Craig and Mallory went to C-Store observing (of course) and managed to get a pic of the Starlight for me. While the boys played Carla and I were off to the event center to set up. First, though, we cut magnolia branches for some decor, a treat for this Michigan girl!
As the day went on, I could still hear that little voice I knew I shouldn’t ignore telling me to re-look at what I was going to say. I finally gave in and went back to the house for an hour alone to prepare. God was right and isn’t he always? That voice said show, don’t tell. After some prayer and reflection on that, I was ready.
I drove back to the event center and smiled once again at the scrolling sign with my name on it and this time I stopped and put my head on the wheel and prayed.
I thanked God for bringing me back to this town (in a car) no longer a struggling addict, but this time presented as living and breathing evidence of a true miracle that he has done in my life. However, it is in these moments, where the evidence of what he has done is right in front of me that another voice tries to drown him out. This voice that has plagued me for years both on and off the bike, with or without alcohol, the voice that says; “Who do you think you are?”
This time I had an answer ready.
I hit play on my current favorite song. Hence drowning out all the negative voices that had tried to intimidate me and freeze me in the parking lot. Properly fired up I parked and strode confidently through the doors.
The event was called Oh Taste and See and when I walked through the doors my senses lit up with the aroma of the food tasting, set up for all to enjoy from local restaurants. I did mention this was in the south correct? The food did not disappoint and neither did the people who came to Taste and See. I had so many incredible, beautiful, and sometimes heartbreaking conversations. I signed book after book with encouragement and sometimes a hug. I was able to meet my friend Elaine, (listen here)
in person along with so many more!
As I approached the stage I knew that God was truly in this place. I shared what he asked me to. He’s much better at this than me.
The night ended with a little buffet around Mallory & Carla’s island where I finally got to enjoy some of that amazing southern cooking! We rehashed the beauty of the evening with them, I cannot thank them enough for having us. Be sure to listen to both links for Carla and Elaine (see above) for more information about Refresh and Seven Point Connect, both were an instrumental part of this event and getting me there to speak.
I often say when I speak that I shake my head at the woman who would have rather gone on a 1000-mile bike ride to try and get sober than to get the help she needed. I’m not ever going to say that again. That ride is part of my story and that could not have been more evident than it was last weekend.
God handed me another piece to add to my puzzled life last weekend. The puzzle is still missing pieces, which means there’s more to be added. Don’t for one second think that God is not fitting the pieces together perfectly in your life.
Just when I think I have it all figured out, he hands me a new piece.
Thank you friends in Forrest City, AK for believing in me and what God can do with an addict whose biggest fear in life was having people find out about her secret sin. The fear was real because that’s who she thought she was, an addict. The End. God knew there was more to her, much more and when he blessed her with this new reality he had an expectation that she share it with anyone he calls to receive it.
I know better than to say no.
Thank you again, friends.
Child of Love by We the Kingdom
I’m gonna climb a mountain
I’m gonna shout about it
I am a child of love
I found a world of freedom
I found a friend in Jesus
I am a child of love