Holy cow I’m 58! How did that happen so quickly? Let’s face it, the older we get the faster the years fly by. I am happy to say that I am in better shape physically, emotionally, and spiritually than I have ever been. God is so good. When you put your trust in Him He will do amazing things for you.
It is a bittersweet birthday. I will be celebrating it at the bar and grill I’ve owned for 22 years. I celebrated just about all of my birthdays at Johnny’s Bar & Grill until about six years ago when I started celebrating them at our timeshare in Cabo San Lucas with one of my best pals Susie. Since vacations in tropical regions always consisted of relaxing by the pool with a beer or a fruity alcoholic beverage my husband, Tommy, decided that those vacations were no longer his thing. He has been sober for more than twelve years and I couldn’t be prouder of him.
I decided when I returned home last year, that four years in a row away from my husband on my birthday was enough. I arranged this year’s vacation so that I would be home to share my 58th with Tommy. Little did I know at the time, that it would be my last as owner of Johnny’s. I’ve prayed that it would be the last for many years. My historic and iconic bar and grill has taken very good care of us for over two decades. I believe that God put me there and blessed my efforts. There are many that will find that statement blasphemous. To you I would ask, “Who did Jesus hang around with?” In Matthew 9:13 Jesus said, “I have come to urge sinners, not the self-righteous, back to God.” As I’ve told the doubters who tell me that I can’t be a Christian and own a bar, I meet a lot more people who either don’t know Christ at all or have walked away from Him on a barstool than I ever will on a church pew.
When I turned my life back over to Christ in January of 2002 I also believed that I should no longer own a bar. I got it into my head that I should sell our home and our business and buy a Bed & Breakfast. I figured it would be the perfect place to put my hospitality and cooking talents to use. I saw myself witnessing to my customers as I served them fluffy omelets and pastries and I just knew it was God’s plan for my life. Tommy was still drinking then and I truly believed that I had to get out of the bar business if he was ever going to get sober. After all, God couldn’t possibly get Tommy sober while we still owned Johnny’s. We’d gotten through the terrible months of our separation and God had assured me that if I left my husband in His capable hands He would save our marriage and help Tommy to find sobriety. I believed my part was to help God to do His work by selling Johnny’s right away. Wrong!
Once my faith in God was restored, my fervent belief was that He was going to fix everything in my life right away. My husband has always complained that I want everything, “Right Now.” I am a go-getter and I don’t do much of anything slowly and my return to my Christian roots was no different. The problem was, I was a baby Christian. I was like a six month old trying to ingest a New York steak. I knew it was good but I didn’t have the chops to eat it. I hadn’t been able to “fix” Tommy before because I didn’t have God in the picture. I was now sure with Christ’s assistance I would change all that. You did pick up on the word “I”. Spiritual immaturity kept me from leaving my husband in God’s hands and contending with my own dysfunctions.
And I had so many. What I hadn’t dealt with yet was my selfishness, controlling and manipulative ways and my lack of empathy for my husband’s disease. God spent four years showing me the error of my ways and used Tommy’s alcoholism to work on my deficiencies. He didn’t do it the way I thought He should, or in my timing.
After a few months of searching for a Bed & Breakfast we found what we thought was the perfect place on the Russian River. We put an offer on it contingent on our selling Johnny’s and our home. Needless to say the owners turned us down. Selling our business and our home before purchasing our new venture was a tall order. Since it was my plan, not God’s, it didn’t have a snowball’s chance in the Mohave Desert of succeeding. God had a different plan for our lives. It is a much bigger miracle that God brought Tommy sobriety while we still owned a bar than it would have been if he got sober while we owned a Bed & Breakfast. It gave me the fabulous story I was able to share in my memoir Born Again in a Biker Bar.
Every step of the journey has been nothing short of miraculous. As if Tommy’s sobriety wasn’t enough, a woman with a tenth grade education wrote and self-published a book that has sold over 700 copies and has been downloaded to just as many e-readers. The emails I’ve received and the stories shared in person by people whose lives I’ve touched with my book humbles me and brings me more joy than I can begin to describe. God left me at Johnny’s for a purpose. He has used me there to further His kingdom and be a blessing. Through the bar He has enabled me to contribute to many great charities. He has allowed me to introduce Him to the lost, and comfort those in need. Being used by God has been the greatest joy of my life.
It is finally in His timing that I leave Johnny’s behind to do His work full time. People keep asking if I’m retiring. If you know me you know that I’m not the retiring type. I am so excited to have the time to write more books, coach more codependent clients and reach out to the masses through video, webinars and blogging. My prayer is that the many wonderful people that God blessed me with as customers and friends will remain with me on my new journey. Whether you subscribe to my website or follow me on Facebook, please stay in touch. I look forward to praying with and for you, offering encouraging scriptures and stories to build your faith in Christ, and making you laugh and cry through the crazy times we’re living in.
If you live in Hollister I’d love to share my birthday with you at Johnny’s. I’ll be there around 5:30 and JJ Diaz is doing karaoke at 8:00 tonight. What would my birthday be without “Boots?”